Monday

Avery Basketball

 This year Matt coached Avery in basketball and I helped....but mostly tried not to take over:)  It is so difficult to subdue the coach in me, especially when it comes to basketball. We had a small team made up of girls with many different skill levels.  At times we barely had a team but towards the end of the season the girls started improving and having a good time.
 Like everything in our marriage Matt and are pretty much opposites in how we do things and this carried out through our coaching styles.  He was more quiet and relaxed while I did most of the yelling and walking back and forth on the sidelines.  Except when we were winning, that was the only time I was chill....or when I would purposely sit in the stands to let Matt actually coach:)
 This is our little team who worked so hard every game and improved so much.
 I did feel bad for Avery at times.  I remember being the coaches kid and it was hard treating her like all the other girls and not having higher expectations for her....even though she was playing with older girls.  Luckily not much gets under her skin and while I was yelling at her she would just smile and do her own thing anyway.

Sunday

Christmas 2014

 We had a great Christmas with our family and we were glad to have a white Christmas.  Avery finally got her American Girl doll!




 I surprised Matt with a painting from a local artist that he grew up with.  It wasn't a gun but I think he was still surprised:)

 Josh on the other hand got an new toy.  It must run in the Berry blood.
 My sweet sister sent me a little surprise to open on Christmas.  She actually found me cute shoes in my size.  My sister spoils me:)
We love to put puzzles together and play with our legos, toys and just lounge in our pj's eating leftovers! Mattie got play dough and played with it all day.  Her knees were red from sitting on them all afternoon. 

Halloween

 Halloween 2014 was a busy one.  I think we had more parties in this month then we did at Christmas.  When did Halloween become such a big deal? Although I do love this time of year.  I love Autumn and when the season starts to change.

On another note.  While the rest of the world was dressing up as Elsa from Frozen, I made my kids dress up as the Chippettes. My girls have watched Alvin and the Chippettes over and over and they all think they are pop stars....so I thought this would be appropriate....although I am not sure many people knew who they were dressed up as....but I can tell you who they were not dressed up as....hint "Let it go."
 We had many kids come to our house this year.  I was glad I stocked up on Sam's club giant sized candy bags.  Our subdivision keeps growing and we were hit hard with little trick or treaters.  We hit a point where we had  to start rationing out the candy to make it through the night!  The millions of Elsa's and Anna's and super hero's that knocked on our door I was pleased to see the one Harry Potter costume.  I miss the Harry Potter costume days. I bribe my girls every year to dress up like characters from the book but they are not a Harry Potter generation.  They are a Frozen, Monster High, Super Hero, Disney Princess generation.  I am afraid I will never get to throw the Harry Potter Halloween party I have secretly been pinning and planning on Pinterest.  Yep I just outed myself....I am kind of a Harry Potter nerd....Don't judge!

 Brittany, Janet and Eleanor.....my little Chippettes!
This year was the second year I made donuts for a little get together after the candy scoring was commenced.  Nothing like fried dough with icing and cider to go along with you mini candy bars and chewy Dots. ....which by the way is a potential choking hazard.  I think all my girls have choked on a chewy Dot candy at one time or another. I am probably just bitter because I prefer they bring home chocolate in their stash that I conveniently pick through while they are sleeping. I pull out my mini chocolate bars and then put the rest in our treat/bride bucket.  Then Christmas comes around and I add to it with the leftover Christmas candy and then by the next Halloween I go through the bucket.  I am always throwing out the lame candies..like the Smarties, Good n Plenties, and those lame sauce butterscotch candies.

  I worry about my kids a bit between the months of October and December.  Their sugar intact doubles and they become little addicts.  One of our neighbors passes out giant pixie sticks at Halloween and it is my kids favorite.  But it is the first thing to be rationed out.  If left alone my kids would eat it in one sitting and it is seriously like crack cocaine for my kids.  They get the powder on their face and get all hoped up on goofballs.  After Christmas we have to do our own little intervention and try and detox them. Thank goodness for new years resolutions right?!

Hailey Bug Turns 5

My Hailey Bug turned 5!                                                                                                             


It is hard to believe my girl is spending her last days in preschool and seriously growing up too fast!  I can still remember when they put her in my arms at the hospital. I have never felt such joy and love in my whole life.  As I looked into her big brown eyes I felt such a strong bond and I knew she would be special girl. I held her little hand in mine, counting her fingers and noting how long and skinny each little finger was, a Butler trait.   I can remember a buzz about the room as nurses and our Midwife moved about and words of congratulations were being spoken, but for a short moment I remember feeling a warmth and an overwhelming feeling of love for this little spirit.  Then as I looked at her I remember thinking the words "I love you more then anything, I love you so much I would die for you." "I will always love you." After the words were spoken in my head I had a thought that this must be what our Heavenly Father feels for us, for me, for all his children.  The kind of love that you would make you go to the ends of the earth for them.  My promise to always love her was the first of many promises I would make to her and the one promise I have always kept.

Hailey is much like me.  She is sensitive and she feels more then I think a normal child should feel.  When someone is hurting she hurts.  She wants to please everyone and is my little peacemaker.  She is constantly giving things to others,  The other day I was looking for her special bag that her grandma made her and she informed me that she had given it away to a friend.  When I asked her why she did it she replied "because Jesus would want me to."  

When her sisters get into trouble she is their guardian pleading on their behalf to have us reduce  their punishment or to not take their things away.  When they are hurt she is there to nurse them back to health.  She has taken on the role of big sister for Mattie and is constantly trying to mother her.  Although she is usually a sweetie she does have her moments.  She is learning to stand up to her sisters and fight back.  Mattie loves to take advantage of her meekness and does anything to get her way including biting.  Hailey is finally learning how to defend herself and fight back which may sound bad but it is a relief to see her stand up for herself.  

Hailey loves to be encouraged and loves words of affirmation.  When negative words are spoken to her it breaks her world.  She also tends to be a little negative and hard on herself and she remembers anything bad that happened to her or was said to her.  She reacts to life so differently then my other girls and I see a lot of myself in her....which is a little scary.  I want her to be strong and confident like her dad and not feel the insecurities that plagued me as a child and as an adult.  But she will be who she was meant to be that goes with all my children I guess!  



 We celebrated with breakfast donuts a very happy change from our usual boring cereal.
 I tried to be a good mommy and made her some candy corn cupcakes that we took to her class.  I always laugh at myself when  I try to do something cool because I get an idea and then it takes more time then I have and then it never turns out how I thought it would and it becomes more of a  headache then anything.  Stupid Pinterest!  I never got cupcakes on my birthday:)
 She had fallen in love with this panda at Sam's club and knowing how toys last at our house there was no way she was getting it.  Thankfully she has a wonderful grandpa Berry who knew she wanted it and could not help himself.  He bought it for her and surprised her with it.  She was so excited and I was thankful for a father in law that loves to spoil his grand kids.  That little panda has been like a family member in our house and because it could walk and talk it was like having her own pet.  Which made the kids stop asking for a puppy...... for now at least.
 I made a big pumpkin cupcake for her and told her she could smash her face in it if she wanted to.  She was shocked that I would let her do something so messy.  "Really mom, really, you are really going to let me put my face in this?" she kept asking over and over.
 Finally we talked her into it and of course she was timid about it and took her time and tried very hard to not get too messy and was uncomfortable that I was filming this silly experience.  She is not really one to take over the spotlight, she gets shy.  But this I thought would be a child's dream come true! It's funny because watching her I totally wanted to be a kid again and have it be acceptable to smash my face in a dessert.  Occasionally I still get that feeling when I see a cream pie, how fun it would be to smash my face in it and just go to town!  Ohh crap now all I can think about is chocolate pie!



Those eyes.....my Bugs is 5 and before I know it she will be saying her R's correctly and more interested in other things then being mommy's cuddle bug and helper.  Gone are the days of diapers and cute headbands, of letting me pick out her clothes, of letting me just hold her. Gone are the days I can fully protect her from the dangers and mean things of the world. Her life experience used to include me in everything, now she is experiencing life on her own in her own world. It is fun to think about the future and what adventures and life experience my kids will have but looking back on these times it is hard to not get sentimental.

 Believe me when I say I am ready for fully independent children and some extra freedom, but the mother in me also sees these growing children as my babies.  When I think about the past and my girls as babies my mind searches for memories for the feeling of what it was like to have them as babies and not little people.  My heart longs to hold them as babies again and to remember that feeling again.  That part of my life is gone and I am slowly starting to forget what they were like as babies, the things I do remember I want to feel again.  The peaceful feeling I would get while rocking them to sleep in my arms.  When they smiled at me for the first time, or said mommy for the first time.  Their first steps, when life seemed a bit slower and I never left the house. I miss those little things.  With those firsts we get to experience new stages of firsts and one day I will be looking back on this season and wishing I could remember it better and trying to recall the "firsts" that we were able to experience with our kidos.

Wednesday

Being a influence for good

At dinner time we have got into the habit of talking about our days. The girls always start out the conversation with something like this, "so how was your day?"  We then take turns talking about what we did or what happened to us. Shortly after Hailey's 5th birthday we sat at the table and asked her if she was excited to go to kindergarten next year. With her big puppy dog eyes she looked up from her meal and solemnly shook her head. " I never want to go to school without Mrs Janet." We all chuckled at the statement and continued our dinner conversation. Mrs. Janet by the way is Hailey's preschool teacher.


Today I found Hailey sitting by the fireplace with a clipboard on her lap and pencil in hand. "What are you doing I asked." "Just playing," she said, "I am pretending I am a teacher and mom I want you too know I am going to be a teacher when I grow up.  Just like Mrs Janet and I am going to teach little kids that are just like me." I told her that I thought that was a great idea and that she would make an amazing teacher. A few minutes later I got to thinking about the influence Mrs. Janet has on her students.  When I pick Hailey up from preschool it is such a unique experience. The parents sit patiently in the cars waiting for these little preschoolers who always get out a little late. As I sit there playing on my phone I am not annoyed that they are late, I am grateful. I know that they are late because they are getting hugged goodbye and their positive words of affirmation.  Statements like....."you are so special"and "you are so smart" and my personal favorite, "Mrs. Janet loves you so much!"

When the door opens a small group of 4 and 5 years old come walking out and like a mother goose Mrs. Janet leads them.  Before getting in their cars each little child will turn around and say "I love you Mrs. Janet!" Many will run back and give her leg another big hug or hold onto her leg until a parent pulls them off.  Many times, as we are about to drive away Hailey will tell me to stop because she forgot to say goodbye to Mrs. Janet, although I know she did because she was just squeezing her leg 30 seconds ago. I stop the car roll down the window and she hangs her little head out and yells, "goodbye Mrs. Janet, I love you Mrs. Janet!"  In response they will promptly get an I love you back.

As I think about the world and all the ways our children can be influenced in negative ways I am grateful for people like Mrs. Janet. She has created a safe haven for these children and has taught them not only many foundational secular lessons but also many life lesson. She makes them feel safe and loved. She reminds them constantly that Jesus loves them and they are unique and special.  She has a way of making them feel loved and worthy and it's not only the kids. I have been a receiver of a Mrs. Janet hug and I can see why they are so addicting. Every conversation I have with her she tells me something positive about myself and how much she loves me.  I walk back to the car with a smile on my face and feeling a little better about myself.

I think about Hailey going to kindergarten and it makes me a little sad to have to throw her in that unprotected world. She will leave the safe haven and enter a world where she will not be told she is loved, where hugs may be considered inappropriate as well as talking about Jesus.  But I am grateful because she will remember her preschool years and treasure those. Mrs. Janet has helped her with her self confidence and taught her how to love everyone. 

I am grateful for those people in our world that have the bigger picture. They we're given amazing gifts that they use to help others with.  I think about this amazing teacher and what our life would be like if she had decided to just retire or spend her days shopping or visiting the grandchildren.  We are all given gifts to influence the world for good. I find that my insecurities hold me back far to often but that was not how our lives were designed. I can't help but think about what this world would be like if there were many more Mrs. Janet's and less self absorbed citizens.  I agree with my little Hailey, I want to be like Mrs. Janet too. I want to touch the lives of those around me and be an influence for good! 

Sunday

Henry's Lake Part 2









 We stayed the night at our friends cabin and went fishing after breakfast.  The kids were so excited to get their poles in the water. So after packing snacks and getting on all our warm clothing...because it is Idaho and who knows when the wind will pick up...we finally made it to the lake with all the crew!
 This little cutie was a great helper...although throwing rocks in the water was probably his favorite part.
 Although fishing is kind of a dad territory us mom's are right there to help untangled the lines, put a new worm on and warm up little freezing hands, oh and making sure the kids don't put their hands in their mouths after touching the worms or the fish or picking up the sand filled sucker and putting it back in their mouths.

 I love watching Dad's in action.  Seeing this made me think about the memories we are making with our kids.  This will be the day that our kids will remember when they think about the time their Dad taught them how to fish.  Or the time they caught their first fish.  These are some of the treasured memories.


 This little cutie loves to fish and I love to watch her.  She wants to do it all herself and is not afraid to put the worm on the hook.
 This is our friends little cutie and she is a fireball of freckles and energy.  I couldn't get enough of her fun personality and spunk!
 It is great to have friends that have kids that are the same age as yours.  Avery loves to hang with Zack and I love that there is no drama. At least not for a few more years that is....
 Hailey loves to fish as well but she especially likes to reel in the line.  When she does not have the pole in her hand she is searching the beach back and forth up and down for shells.  She can find the tiniest of shells in the sand and she wants to take them all home.  I am especially careful to empty her pant pockets before I wash them because she is constantly finding things that are her "special treasures."
 I loved watching these two play together.  This toddler stage is so funny, one minute they are playing well together and the other they are dumping sand in each others hair.
 After this weekend I can see why men get addicted to fishing.  I also have a new dream of having a small cabin in the woods.  We loved the seclusion and being surrounded by the forest and wildlife.  We sat in the cabin warmed  by the fire and just talked and enjoyed each others company.  I did not even pay attention to my phone and it felt great!
 Our only fish we caught that day....and the kids were so proud of it.  They all wanted to eat it for dinner that night.
What a great weekend.  I am itching to do it again and so are the girls.  We are so blessed to live in an area where a short drive can allow us to get away from the hustle and bustle of life.  We are lucky to be able to get away with our family and just enjoy one another and enjoy God's beautiful creations.