Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bits: Scope for the Imagination

I love introducing the girls to things I loved as a child.  It's like filling their buckets with little pieces of me, things that still hold strong and connect my young self with theirs.  Things that are changed only by the expanse of time, things that can still captivate them and become a part of their childhood just like they were a part of mine.

Anne of Green Gables is just such a thing.  I can remember borrowing that thick collection of video tapes from the library every so often; my Mom and I spending the better part of a weekend curled up with, perhaps grilled cheeses and tomato soup and sweet teas, and being schooled in the art of puffed sleeves and bosom friends and all things to fuel our "scope for the imagination."

Right now I can see my own little imagination-fueled girls outside this window as I type.  Alysse is in her footie pajamas even though it is after noon, purple rain boots pulled over her white padded feet.  Hope sports a feathered headdress leftover from her Peter Pan party, Maddie in a brown dress she felt looked most authentic.  They have orange markered stripes, two in a row, under each eye.  Hope is the woodcutter wielding two sticks she pressed together somehow, Alysse is grinding popcorn kernels and mud with a morter and pestle of sorts, and Maddie has the job of farming with a wishbone shaped stick scraping the ground.  The tree near them blows free with blankets and pillow case teepees, favorite stuffed animal companions cheering from the top most branches.

I could not love it any more.

I am thinking this came from a recent trip to Williamsburg, VA where history came a little bit more alive for us all:
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Their idea to pray inside the Jamestown settlement church. The cutest.  photo February2014041_zps6992ff5b.jpg
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Quite often, however, imagination is not sparked by us tagging along on Daddy's business trip to some fantastic destination.  It is in the every day, the play that happens around our house and in our yard and beyond.  I know that many of the specifics they experience, Lord willing my memory holds up, will belong to my mind's eye and that for the girls it will be more of an overall feeling that they have about these growing-up years.

May those memories gather in their hearts and minds to create a risk taking, joy saturated, warm feeling created by the loveliness and important work of play.  May such recollections and God's good grace fill in any place that a mistake or so may try to occupy.

More of those bits, should my mind's eye get blurry along the way.

::  Always up before everyone else, reading on the couch mornings.
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 :: Other sleepy heads that wake up to the smell of breakfast.
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:: Lots of real snowmen outside; melted snowmen inside.
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:: "Let It Go" ("Let it go-oooooooo!") dance parties in the kitchen.
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:: Self announced dress-alike days.
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:: U.S.S. Maddie and Beautician Alysse.  Boxes and hair cuts (this time a pretend cutting- thank God!) have no limit to their imaginative qualities (two things which I am not always entirely patient about). :)  
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:: Birthday mornings, complete with poetry and whipped cream.  As long as I can help it.
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:Superhero lions watching cartoons.Completely normal around here.
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:: Valentine sweetness.
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Individual, mini bottles of maple syrup!  Almost better than candy.

:: An eccentric cast of Olympians take the ice.
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:: Stools and hankies turn tea party tables and table cloths.  Bark turns into puddle capsized boats.
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So much scope left to tap. 

May we keep taking lessons from Anne (with an "e") every day we are gifted to see with childlike wonder.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Bits of Seven

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She's now seven, and I just love her at this age.  Sure, she can still have her stubborn moments-- but I am seeing this quality pay dividends.  Recently one of her sisters gave in to peer pressure which gave all of us a big, important teachable moment.  But this happy dancing, snow loving girl on the far left.
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This girl knew what was right and stuck to her guns.  Shot down the wrong and chose the good thing, the right thing. I am so very proud, even though I know that she and I are sure to have our teachable moments ahead.

In addition to this quality (which happens to be, as I am sure it is no surprise, one that I also possess), she is persistent about the things that matter to her.  She is also a giver, tender-hearted, a justice seeker.  She was given art classes as her birthday gift from Daddy and I, which is so fitting for our creative eldest.  She can create something out of just about anything, and we love to watch her go.  She is almost always up for a good laugh, just like her Daddy (I mean, you should have seen him pretending not to be able to break the pinata at her party... the kids were dying!) She is a voracious reader and writer and has her own sense of style-- which, quite often, prefers function over form.

While many girls her age are adorably enamored with princesses and the like, Hope continues to crave adventure and excitement and a well thought out plot.  Sure she likes her share of wonderfully feminine things, but she has a diverse collection of interests.  From astronauts to cartoon artists, watercolors to Razor scooters, soccer to ballet and tap, Mary Poppins to Peter Pan.

Which brings us to her chosen birthday party theme.  We had the best time in Never Land, probably one of my favorite friend parties she and I have ever thrown.
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We followed a map from the dressing area...
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Through the Darling's Nursery...
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Up the pixie dust sprinkled stairs and into the Neverland Pizzeria, where a bunch of pizzas were found hiding in a big wicker chest.  The "x" marked the spot, or in this case an "x" by way of positioned pepperonis!
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While the kiddos played in their costumes, watched "Peter Pan," and munched on pizza and carrots and Pirate's Booty-- with homemade cake and ice-cream eaten to the last drops-- the adults hung around the big crockpot of chili with fun fixins, a basket of corn muffins, and a few pots of steaming coffee.  I loved the cheerful buzz and laughter coming from spots all over our home.

It was a time full of happy thoughts indeed.

Dearest Hope Eliana,

On the day of your actual birth-- "Hope Day" as we like to call it-- you disappeared into your bedroom.  Shortly after you came out all dressed for church in a new, gray sweater dress from Auntie Karen and crew.  You had pulled a feather and rhinestone headband from Ms. Carol over your hair and placed Strawberry Shortcake lipgloss from Auntie Marcie on your lips.  Some tights and your Christmas cowboy boots completed the look.  In that moment, with thoughtful and shy pride on your face, you did indeed look seven.

You are still in love with your Kaya American Girl Doll, and I think she represents you too.  She is full of courage, adventure, and love for family.  She is always growing, learning from her mistakes and thinking about things deeply.  Every night you ask me to bundle her in your owl fleece blanket right beside you.  You ask for two "kissing hands" and a kiss upon each of your cheeks.  You are seven, but you are also still my little girl.

This past year held a lot of big moments and many, many beautifully ordinary ones.  I love teaching you and introducing you to others who inspire you to become the young lady I see you growing into.  We are a lot alike you and I, which sometimes can drive us both a little batty, but mostly-- well mostly, it gives us this special connection that I love with all of my heart.
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You make us proud, big girl.  We wouldn't wish for you to "never grow up," but how about we slow the next year down some-- okay?

We love you so.
Mama for Daddy too

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Bits: Christmas 2013

It was a chilly Sunday morning at church when I saw that young girl come down the aisle.  I imagined that she was in from school.  Maybe no one even knew  if she would roll out of bed and make it to the service.  But she did.

Eventually she made her way to them, her parents, and tapped Dad on the shoulder.  He smiled a broad, deep grin at the sight of her face.  They hugged.  She squeezed past him and her Mom looked up, surprise giving way to the kind of joyful smile that only a Mama embracing her baby can truly give. They kissed one another's cheeks, and I could literally feel the peace radiating off their row.

My eyes brimmed over.

For suddenly and unexpectedly I saw them there too, three tall  young women slightly recognizable from those chubby cheeked babes of yesterday.  The coming home, the tapping, the seeing them there.

My girls.

Motherhood is so full of paradoxes.  This one being my simultaneous feeling of sadness and excitement about such approaching days.  Both were soon overcome by the elation that our three were, at that moment, worshiping and laughing with their Sunday school teachers and friends.

Christmas can be a mixture of emotions too (and I don't just mean with all the family quirks!):)  It is filled with bittersweet excitement.  A baby born to die, a death that brought all of humankind the only promise of real and eternal life.  Above all else, this is the beautiful pain of Christmas.
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The other Chistmasy bits are but supporting actors.  So thankful for the good health and provisions that made them, in all of their small but significant roles, possible this year.

A few favorites caught on camera...

:: Kids' tables
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The one where the awesome big cousins oblige their adoring younger counterparts.
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And the one on Christmas night at our place with neighbor friends, who share our love of Italian food.

 ::Those same big cousins building pyramids, which just about captures the excitement of Christmas with the Martins' crew.  One of the brothers brought home his girlfriend, and I told her that if I had been on my game I would have gifted her some earplugs.
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Love every loud little bit.

:: Thoughtful, too generous presents between NC and VA.  A few of the girls' favorites: an exquisite pop up of Narnia, marionette puppets, Apples to Apples Junior, a warm bathrobe (M), art supplies, cowboy boots(H), ballerina clothes (A), American Girl dolls and books (thanks to some serious deals and some generous grandparents who helped us give them on Christmas morning!)
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:: Adventures like first time ice skating, sorting and stringing together Great Grandma's buttons, Polar Express Day with Auntie Andrea, a live drive through Nativity, a twinkly wonderland of lights.
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:: Sweet Auntie Christmas fun, filled with too many favorites to count.

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::The joy of Christmas Eve and morning with just the five of us. Opening the first gift of Christmas, a little porcelin Baby Jesus and remembering it again.  That beautiful pain that has set us free.
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In addition to the one gift we choose for our girls, I love some stocking stuffers. And the dearness of Sister Store, third year in a row where they do extra chores and "shop" for small gifts for one another.

And, so it begins-- a new year.  The beautiful and the messy will be waiting, of this I am sure.

I am so very full of hope about it all.