The purpose of this blog is to capture some of the high lights and low lights of just normal day to day life. Our life is loud, busy, and fast, but we love it!


Preparing to Celebrate a Birthday

I love our family traditions that we have made as "D'Amato's". Yes, some were adopted from our own childhood memories, some from ideas friends have given us, and a few we have created ourselves-all of which are special and wonderful.

One of the girls favorite Christmas activities is making a birthday cake for Jesus....that is why we celebrate Christmas. The girls help add ingredients, stir it up, and sometimes lick clean the spoon! This year I felt they were old enough to frost it themselves...the perfectionist in me hates it, but the loving mother in me always wins!

During the month of December my girls earn 'hay' for kind deeds, acts of unselfishness, respect, just things that really characterize Godly traits. They get so excited each time they get a piece-never knowing when one is coming. This 'hay' is used to make the bed that baby Jesus will be on Christmas morning. They have a Little People nativity set but baby Jesus is not there until Christmas morning. This year they were so proud of themselves for finding where I placed him....hilarious.

When they wake up Christmas morning this is what they see....I just love the idea that Jesus is born on a bed of hay made by the good deeds and actions of the girls.
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Christmas morning....the girls all enjoying some birthday cake after singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. What a way to start the day! We do not open gifts until we give our first time to Him.

A Christmas Eve Miracle....well, sort of

Christmas Eve Chiara had been really playing with her second loose tooth-the other bottom middle, next to the one she had already lost.

Well, by evening she had worked it so much that it was really wiggling. She wanted it out.....well, she wanted it out without pain. HA! I helped her move it around and after about 25 minutes the back roots were snapped off and we were in it until the end at that point.

Chiara is so much like her mother it makes me laugh. A very low threshold for pain....though as the mother watching her little breathing ritual made me laugh. After 45 minutes I had David come over to give it that final twist and pull....FINALLY! It was out and we could finally get this tired...and very happy....little girl to bed so we could set up for Christmas.

I never would have though that at 5 1/2 years old she would have lost 2 teeth. Wow.
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Carrying On Great Traditions

One of the fondest childhood memories I have from Christmas time is making Christmas cookies and decorating them. I can even remember the Crayola table in Gloucester when we were very young. It really brings joy to my soul. I love making those type of memories with my girls. We are not really a 'sweets' kind of family so Christmas is our time to indulge.

Here is Daddy helping Mayah with her dough....I love when he gets in there too! Miss Leah did not really participate in making the shaped cookies this year-not that she could not, but she thought the dough was playdough and made just one heck of a mess!
Leah would not wear the personalized aprons Nanny bought the girls during the gingerbread house fun but this time she asked "apron on!". Yay! She was beaming!!!!!

Due to the fact that Mayah cannot have red food dye it makes decorating Christmas cookies difficult. We have done just plain white in the past, but the girls so badly want color. So, my brilliant idea this year (and cost saving too) was to cook down frozen strawberries and add that to some frosting. Perfect. They were so happy!!!!!!
Here is Leah working on some cookies. I think she was purposely pressing down with the brush sop she could "accidentally" break and eat the cookies! LOL!!!!
Mayah was so into coloring as many as possible. In fact she was at the table long after the other girls had left.
Chiara does not stop to look and smile-she is always concentrating and thinking about her design. She is our artist!
Our finished product! They were all so happy. We are bring some to our cookie exchange party today. I love the little strawberry flavor the frosting adds. Yum!


A Weekend of Christmas Fun, Part 1

Casa Grande puts on a yearly light parade that I am convinced the entire city comes out for. It really is a fun time and we enjoy cheering for all the floats and it makes for a great start to the Christmas season.

We pack sandwiches for dinner because we need to get out there plenty early if we want a good spot.
Here we all are eating and waiting for the sun to set. I just love that the grandparents and great grandparents come down for this. These are memories that my children will cherish-I know I do!

After the parade we all come back to the house so everyone can use the potty before heading home. The girls got in their new Christmas PJ's we bought them. The 2 big girls decided to tackle Nanny-who is fairly helpless! My girls just exude joy when they are around their grandparents and great's this time of the year that I am beyond grateful that they all live out here!

Another night David took the 2 big girls on a first of many walks around the neighborhood to see the lights on the houses. The girls love this! They also love any excuse to wear the winter jackets Nanny has bought them....they have no idea what 'real' cold is! I love when they come back and tell me about their favorite decorations. I take them on car rides around town and I am sure I will be joining them all for a walk soon.
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Gingerbread Houses With Nanny & Grampy

This year we did not have it in the schedules to have the three girls do a sleepover at Nanny and Grampy's to make their gingerbread houses, so the gingerbread houses came to us! This was Leah's first year making one....she was a bit grumpy starting off (waking from a nap) and would not wear her new personalized "Baking with Nanny!" apron, but she ended up having a blast and providing us with some good laughs....I never saw a gingerbread man suspended from his own house!

I am pretty sure Mayah ate more frosting than she used....needless to say she was WIRED after!
The girls make lovely houses...displayed in our home and until recently were untouched (Miss leah discovered she could unwrap, eat half of a santa and stick it back on!). No food dye in the products used-Nanny even found fake candy canes! She rocks!!!
Poor Mister Gingerbread Man!
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Update...much needed

It is not that we have not had anything going on to write about.....just too much going on to sit and write! Most days I feel like I am still playing "catch up" from being sick for over 6 weeks of this pregnancy. We got a little behind where I wanted to be with school, the house is always needing cleaning, and with the holiday season busy becomes my middle name!

I am feeling so much better and getting bigger. I have had more and more "flutters" in my belly each week. I have never wanted to feel BIG movements so much. Something about this pregnancy has just been so different. I usually gain more weight and sleep better. My thoughts have been all over the place and borderline crazy. I have to say I am tired of people saying it is a boy just because of this....I put no merit in it. At this point, does it really matter? This child was already created male or female and nothing changes that. Would I prefer another girl? Honestly, yes. However, my heart always desires to bless my husband, so for him I would want a boy. But again, does it really matter? Nope. Not one bit. Healthy is on the top of my wish list.....and the only thing on it for that matter.

We are anticipating a late January ultrasound and we will go from there. We have had a scare with Leah so we now know the importance of this ultrasound....finding out the gender will just be a bonus.


Mayah's New Love

Nothing like losing all your toys and tv time to make a kid find something new to do. Miss Mayah discovered books on tape/cd. She listened to 6 books in one day-3 during school time. She was fascinated.

The following day I gave her the audio CD I had made-so she had Mommy reading her books. She thought that was very cool.

At night I sat with the 3 girls around the Christmas tree and we listened to two Amelia Bedelia stories. One of my childhood favorites.

Mayah seemed to best like The Three Billy Goats Gruff. She did not turn the pages in the book, but just listened.....with the headphones on she yelled over to me that the troll was mean! Hilarious!

I told her to pick out some books she would like me to record for her....of course they were all Berestien bears which take awhile to read, but for her I will do it.
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Tree Trimming

The Christmas season seems to get better and better each year with the 3 girls. Watching their joy just makes us smile! The day after Thanksgiving it is tradition for us to start decorating. I did not do a lot this year as Leah still has curious and grabby hands, but enough that the house is festive and ready for fun! Usually we put up the tree but decorate it later the following week, but I could tell that was not going to happen this year. The girls were ready!
After watching David put up the tree (yes, it's fake- we live in Arizona!) the girls waited semi-patiently for me to hand them ornaments to place on the tree. We have two containers FULL so there are lots to choose from. They love their own, but they also love putting up my old ornaments (thanks to my Mom!!) and some of the ones that David and I share.

Each year, the day aftetr Christmas, David goes to Kohls and buys the discount ornaments. I love how well he knows our girls and chooses just the right ones. He gives those ornaments to them the next year when we are decorating the tree. They are so excited-as you can see from Mayah's face! Leah received Cinderella (aka "lala"), Chiara's was a ballerina, and Mayah's a ballgown Barbie. All perfect.

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This year the girls really took over decorating the tree. They hung all the ornaments, then rehung some, and just enjoyed the entire experience. I loved watching it and handing out the ornaments. Each ornament is like an old friend they have not seen for a year.This was Leah's first time putting on ornaments and I am happy to say she did a great job. We try to keep all the breakables out of reach. Favorite ornaments this year: musical Hannah Montana and HSM (David bought and gave out last year), and anything with their names printed on it.

A Time for Thanks

At first I did not want to give up having Thanksgiving at our home, but I have to say, I am sure glad I did. Since we host Christmas it is nice to not have both big holidays here. We spent the day before Thanksgiving baking 3 pies and one very large loaf of bread. The girls wanted to help with everything and be completely involved. The did the most work to make the NY Cheesecake and were quite proud of their finished was YUMMY.

This year we made something called Sheepherder's Bread. When I make our bread I have a bosch mixer and it does all the work for me since I make 4 loaves at at a time. This bread though was made all by my hands. David and I talked about having communion together as a family before heading off to my parents house-giving thanks to our Lord and Savior. It was the first time that the girls have ever had communion or heard what happened at the last supper (they know that after Jesus died on the cross).

We arrived at my parent's house early so the girls could watch the parade. Nanny put out some cheese, crackers, and grapes.....INHALED! I guess the girls were hungry-after breakfast AND a snack!

The 2 big girls made these great turkeys at a fellow home schoolers house for craft time. Each feather was for something they were thankful for. Chiara listed family names and Mayah drew pictures of people and the number 5. Why the number 5? She had just learned how to write the number (Chiara taught her) and I guess she was thankful for it! Cute.

It was a great day. The food was fantastic (my mom rocked it out!!!), the pies were fabulous, and it does not get much better than watching the Patriots WIN! None of us wanted to leave, but we eventually made the treck back home. Our blessings are in abundance....we have so many things to be thankful for, not just on Thanksgiving, but ALL year.
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Zoo Fun

Last week, while David was off, we surprised the girls with a trip to the Phoenix Zoo. Everything is just more fun when Daddy is around. What cracks us both up is that Chiara has such an amazing visual memory she KNEW where we were going well before we got there-and we even took a different route because we came from a doctor appointment. Geesh!

WE had a great time. We usually average about 3 hours which gets us around the zoo. Everyone has their favorites. We let Leah walk this time (which meant David carried her a bit too). She has been to the zoo a few times but this was like her first....she thought everything was so cool. The big cats were out, which I love. Everyone enjoys the giraffes and "stinky" rhinos!

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The word is out!

For 3 months I have been holding on to the most wonderful secret. On Sunday, September 26, 2010 we discovered that we were once again going to be blessed with a baby in our home. You would think after three kids we would be used to this or it just become mundane. It is most certainly not.
Becoming pregnant had always been sort of comical in our house. We never "tried" to have a baby. Our first blessing surprised us since babies were a couple years out for us. Our second came when Chiara was only 10 months old....I am pretty sure David just smiled at me and it was done! Hee hee....seriously. When it came to having number 3 we made the decision and 2 months later we were with child. Easy as pie. I have talked to so many who have struggled to have their precious bundles and I know not to take for granted the ease with which we conceive.
David and I had always talked about having 4 children....though this was before we had THREE girls. Three of the same sex is just a different dynamic. I always envisioned my home being a house of balance-boys and girls. The Lord decided differently. He surely knows us even better than we know ourselves. We started trying in the Spring and after months we both thought it was not for us to have another. I went through a wide range of emotions and after a couple more months I finally let go of the idea of having that fourth child. Well, before we left for Disneyland something magical sure did happen.
I am quite in tune with my body.....I am like a clock and I can notice the slightest of changes. Right away something was different. I can remember being at the hotel in CA and brushing my teeth-I gagged. I am not someone who usually does that and yet I did. Strange. Then, way off my normal cycle I broke out on my face-something that I had not had happen since changing my diet. Strange. It started to clear up....then broke out again. Huh? Hmmmmm....I started suspecting right away, but then of course thought maybe I was just going to have a rough period that month. September 25, 2010 I knew. I was having back cramping which I never get before my period. I bought a test without telling David on Sunday, took it, called him upstairs and with tears in my eyes showed him the results. His disbelief was a complete reflection of my feelings. We both went into a sort of shock.
We have never kept any of our pregnancies a secret for long. We never waited the standard 3 months. This time was different. It took us a month to move from shock to surprise then another month to move from surprise to just joy and excitement. The joy and excitement was always there, but masked by....really? Wow! What? We told a few close friends.....we both needed people to talk to. Then, about week 6 I got very sick. Nauseous. Awful. After a couple weeks of that we had to tell the girls. I was napping daily and feeling awful. I did not want to teach and I knew I could not keep lying to them. I can't believe how well they kept this to themselves or asked before telling someone. We let them tell my parents so they would have someone to talk to about it.
I am relieved to not have to try and hide the bump or how icky I feel. I am not as nauseous as I once was, but I am better. The exhaustion is passing....just in time for the Christmas season to get here! This will be my 4th c-section; my second scheduled one....and my last. My OB and I have very slightly conflicting due dates, but in the end I will get to pick the birthday. It will be at the very end of May most likely. As with Leah I know it will be nice to have a goal date.


A house of learning

As a home schooling family, I wonder how life will change as the years go by. Will it get easier? Harder? A mix of the two? I really have no idea.....I hear lots of things, but each family is different. One thing that blesses me is that as each child gets older they are drawn to "school" here at home. The do not know anything different and of course they see siblings at work each day. It does not make things easier, but it is nice that I do not have to 'train' the younger ones like I did Chiara.

Balancing school in our daily schedule is still a big learning curve for me. Some days I just plain suck at better word. I lose my patience. I get interrupted by a 4 year old and 2 year old nonstop. I have to discipline someone for something....more than once. Those days when everything goes "just so" I know that I have to thank the Lord because it is a blessing!

These challenges will someday lessen, but there will be new ones. Some people tell me to just send my kids to school....part of the reason I do not share these thoughts often. I love home schooling. My kids love being home and learning this way....and I know they are ahead of most kids their age because of it (major benefit of one on one learning and individualized to their learning style).
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I'm a Barbie Girl.....In a Barbie World!

My parents brought a HUGE bin of all the Barbie items that were saved from my childhood. I am impressed at how well they have kept (for the most part-we did have to lose a Ken or he would have become an amputee) and how much my mom saved. Of course when you are a kid you never think that maybe someday your kids will play with your toys-I am not sure if my mom thought about it, but I am just so happy she kept them!

As Chiara and I went through the bin a million memories of playing with my sister came flooding back. I could remember each outfit as I picked them up and bits and pieces of dialogue we would have our Barbies participating in. Amazing. I would say that as a kid they were my favorite toys.

This summer I took the girls out to Walmart to buy their friend a birthday gift of Barbie clothes. I stood there staring at the outfits in disgust. Is there a cost reduction on fabric so we need to make everything skimpy? There must be a surplus on plastic because the shoes are all "hooker" shoes. I stuck with the pajama items because they seemed the least revealing. I know that not everyone holds our opinions about modesty, but David and I have pretty strict guidelines on this. We have no problem with Barbie, I just think the clothes from the 80's covered more. I was right.....they did.

When we went through the bin there were some mini skirts from Barbie and the Rockers and a bikini, but everything else covered. Love the evening gowns! Some were strapless, but they covered. I had told David about the collection I had and we were thrilled that my mom was willing to let the girls have these. Not only does it save us TONS of money, but we can stand by what we say-trust me, their dress up is even to be modest.

Regardless of ALL of that, Chiara and Mayah have been having a blast and I have even been able to join in the fun too! Chiara and I set up a great barbeque reunion for the ladies! It was great!


Sometimes a picture says it all

Most days I would say I am just managing the choas....someone needs something, teaching, disciplining, cleaning, helping to resolve silly arguments, etc. In all this chaos though there are moments. Moments that trump any chaos, any stress, and any thought of "am I nuts???"

I can say without a doubt that my three girls love one another. Of course they argue and fight....they are supposed to. However, Leah shows more joy in the morning for her sisters than for me. Chiara wants to hug and kiss Leah all day, and Mayah and Chiara can be found in a loving embrace often.

This past week I heard them upstairs all being silly and such. Chiara called me up saying, "Mom, you have to see this!" I grabbed the camera and up I went. Worth it. So worth it.


It was a happy halloween

I love that I have three girls who love make-believe, dress up, and magical things like Disney and pixie dust! This Halloween we had Pharaoh's daughter (who raised Moses), Tinkerbelle, and Snow White. I love how each costume fits their personality.

Here are the girls with our lovely neighbor Ana. They adore her!

Trick or treating with Daddy and Nanny.
This year we had Mayah's family birthday party before heading out. Madeline and Colin McRae joined us for dinner and cake.
Two Tinks!
Daddy the race car driver (he owns this stuff because he has done it!) and his girls
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Leah's first real time out....she got the hang of it!

They ended the fun handing out candy with Nanny and Grampy.