Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Love This Kid

And not even because I am told at least once or twice a week that she's a mini-me. :)

I love this kid, for one, because she! Oh, she has her moments. Her I'm-too-overcome-to-do-anything-but-fall-to-the-floor moments. Or her I'm-feeling-grumpy-because-I-love-my-sleep moments.

Thankfully those are pretty few and far between, though I'd love her anyway even if they weren't.

Instead, she spends a lot of her time rather quietly, subtly coming up with all manner of HAM. She'll be in a corner trying on this ridiculously too big pair of pink shoes she loves, just laughing at herself.

She'll grin like no tomorrow over successfully pulling up a pair of her sister's big girl panties. Over top of her pants, of course. Then insisting she wear them around for the rest of the morning just so she can look down and giggle.

In fact, she can keep herself quite content over the smallest things like putting chalk in and out of a bowl or laying on her belly to color a picture. Even putting on "hats" (definition: any and all things that she can get on that peach fuzz head) can keep her mighty entertained.


Until she just can't stand herself anymore and has to foil Hope's Little People plots. That's when Maddie will out of nowhere run over, grab no doubt one of the two boy figures we have, and make a break for it. If I'm not in the room, I always know this happened by the way I hear, "Nooooo, Maaaa-deeee!!!" Followed by the pitterpatting of four little feet chasing each other round and round.

All the while, little person triumphantly high in the air, Maddie just keeps on grinning. Sometimes hollering, "I got him!" Quite often, even with that victory cry, the grin comes along too.

That giggle, that smile... like bottling up sunshine on a rainy day.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You Might Be an Auntie If...

When you arrive, laughter and silliness erupt and it suddenly becomes Christmas in January...

You happily help break the rules, like watching a sweet movie and munching popcorn way past bedtime...

You take as much pleasure in photographing the babies downtown as the mama does...

You treat everyone to ice-cream just because with... wait for it... sprinkle cones!!! You laugh the hardest at the cry of joy heard 'round the Baskin Robbins...

You love unconditionally, give unselfishly, and pray continually.

You are family by choice, a blessing given by the grace of God.

No doubt about it... you are an auntie. Boy, are we thankful for ours.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hope Day in {Mostly} Pics

Besides for a party, our gift to the girls each year is special time spent on the actual day of their birth... whether that be a whole morning, afternoon, or day. They basically get to plan out some of their favorite, affordable things to do and we enjoy one of the best presents around... memories! We see it as a gift to us all for another year given to us. With the girls getting so much older now, I really felt like I had a morning out with girlfriends. :)

So, this is how Hope planned her time this year...

Wake-up snuggles while we looked through her first year books and sweet potato waffles for breakfast...

A trip to the library...

Meeting Daddy at the park with a free birthday lunch from Moe's...

Some pizza and artichoke dip for dinner along with small presents immediately put to use...

(Oh yeah, that's a Caboodle my 80's loving friends... this girl of ours loves collecting herself some treasures. Thank-you, Goodwill!)

She spent mostly the rest of the night wrapping up everything around the house in blankets and washcloths to give all of us presents. And acting crazy as usual in the bathtub. Sisters are good for that.
Finally snuggling back in with her borrowed friends Winnie the Pooh, Arthur, and the Berenstain Bears and calling after me down the stairs with, "You're my bessssst frieeeeend..."
That silly, wonderful girl!

It's sure to be fun to see how these days change over the years. That said, though... listen up Hope Day 2011... take your time, will you? :)



ps... Thanks for all the calls, cards, e-mails, etc.-- unnecessary, but so incredibly thoughtful. Nothing makes a mama smile bigger than for others to remember her child. XOXO!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I want to do the best by our children. We think so often about what goes into their little bodies, what kind of place they grow up in, what they're exposed to in general. In a day and age where it seems we are to question everything from vaccines to tap water, from toys to diapers... there's a lot to consider. A whole lot.

But, man, it feels like there is so much more.

Like... what will they really learn from us? Good health habits, sure. ABC's and 123's, I do hope so. How to be frugally minded, and we'd love it . It seems, though, that if we gave them all of this there would still be something much deeper missing.

Like... will they see us living out our mission to love God and to love others? I mean, really see it. Even now, as we can do it, in these days with almost totally reliant upon us wee ones.

It's such a balance. We've spent hours researching everything from medical choices and nutritional practices to educational issues and neighborhood safety. I believe these are a big deal and teach our girls a lot about how to honor the temple God has given them and how to make good decisions. Yet, at the same time it can be hard not to become totally self absorbed in all of that. Kind of like missing the forest for the trees.

As they grow and step out in the world around them, we want them to remember not only what Dad and Mom said... we want them to remember what we did to fill our place in the bigger picture. Who we served. Whose lives we made better, in whatever way we could. How we nurtured and nourished our family, but didn't get stuck somewhere behind those four important walls.

I need to write this post, I feel, because maybe one of these days a daughter or three might come to us with a calling on her life. One that might take her downtown, across the country, or maybe even around the globe. Maybe even to a place like Haiti, where my heart aches to go now. As much as that will hurt our earthly hearts to be apart from them, I believe we will know that somehow we achieved it.

Beautiful balance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Life is Art

Today our baby turns three.

Guess that's not so much a baby anymore, but I will force myself to stop on that subject before I even get started.

This past weekend we celebrated with some of Hope's favorite things... family, friends, snacks, cake, messy art projects, and surprises. Some of my favorite things are enjoying those who can help us celebrate, being creative on a budget, and spending loads of time with our firstborn to make it all happen.

And going with the flow, of course, which is to be expected with lots of guests aged four and under. :) When the rain came pouring down, we moved all of our painting projects to the bathroom and made the fruit loop bracelets in Hope's bedroom. Thank goodness for a former college ball player who didn't mind wiping down a splattered ceiling! We decorated mini cakes, played hard, collected generous art supplies for the nearby children's home, and VERY excitedly opened an array of awesome future projects and games.

Precious memories.

Without further adieu, hope you enjoy taking a peek at her artsy partsy!

When all of that fun was over it was PopPop's turn... for this past Saturday was, indeed, his for real birthday!
Good people born in the month of January, we'd say.

Thanks for celebrating and enjoying her with us!


Hopey, it hardly seems possible that you have been on this earth three whole years. You've got a heart of gold, a mountain of determination, growing compassion, contagious laughter, focused drive, and unbelievable creativity... all of which makes us marvel at the growing bundle God delivered on that cold Friday at the beach. You are an everyday joy and a sometimes mystery, a blessing we could not imagine this life without. Happy birthday, sweet one. We love you!
~Daddy and Mama

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome to the Family!

This past week my brother snuck into town and lied through his teeth. While our family quietly shushed ourselves (no small feat!) with each ring of the phone, Billy proudly showed us the ring he created for his coming bride, our new sister in law, and now we can officially say... Aunt Andrea!

On Friday night he popped the question in a beautiful gazebo at the Opryland Hotel, surrounded by flickering candlelight and both sides of the families hiding in foliage! Mom arrived in the middle of last week and Dad got there just in time for the big night. We were honored that Billy wanted us to be a part and that he went out of his way to be sure it was special for her and for us all.

We laughed and cried and ate amazing Italian food. Oh and she said, "YES!" so I'd call that a pretty big success. Thankfully I didn't have to do any of the lying, but I did get to take the pictures... a lucky scenario for everyone! :)

Congratulations, guys! We'll never forget it. And welcome to the family, Andrea.

We're thrilled!
~J, K, H, M, and Baby Girl

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Motherload of Resolutions

After all the morning (night... afternoon... etc...) sickness of the fall, holidays, and life in general I am second trimester inspired in this nice, round 2010! Though most of our Christmas decorations just barely came down, I was determined that come the first few weeks of the new year we'd be heading back to on track.

1. I figured out how to get around that whole limited reader access thingy... thank you, little birdie friend!

2. I can actually see my laundry room floor again! Rumor has it that our bedroom is almost no longer the overflow space for clothes gone astray. MUST stick to my "laundry day" this year. I will not be the mother with three naked children. I will NOT be the mother with three naked children!

3. And best of all... after lots of repurposing and cleaning out, our preschool is back in session. The kind of "preschool" that goes with the flow (big time!), has no pressure, and is done in your bedroom shoes of course! You can be sure that if I have a choice between cleaning/laundering and this... this is bound to win out just about every time.

Now if I can stop taking shadowy indoor photos, get some more veggies in our children, sort through a bunch of coupons, catch up all our filing, and hmm... I'll have it all under control. :)

Soon enough.

For now I'll just revel in folded laundry and little girls with books in their hands.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Almost Laughable

To many of our friends all across the place, our recent snow accumulation has been quite... laughable. Schools closed with rumors of powdery stuff, a neighbor picked up some extra discs from the Tractor Supply, and we all waited on pins and needles last Wednesday night to wake up and... laugh!

We got maybe a half inch of snow in our little neighborhood.


But you know what? Not to our one and two year old! They were so excited, as if surely a blizzard had fallen, so we went on ahead and made like it had.

Oh yeah, this was for breakfast. See the raisins, dried pineapple, and fruit strip? :)

Then the one without a cough got to go outside for about ten minutes.

No worries, though, we brought Maddie some snow indoors...

then colored...
and ended with a holiday favorite that just might have to stay out all year! Actually we ended with Maddie in some tears because it was waaaay past nap time, but no need to spoil this winter wonderland I'm painting.
As you can see, while they played I had fun snapping pictures. I surely didn't want to go back outside. I feel so blessed for our home and heat this winter in particular because although the snow may be laughable, the bitter cold certainly is not!

Join with us in praying for those who are less fortunate... a chill runs up my spine just thinking about it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Would You Believe?

Inside of this growing belly...

I hold a promise...
A miracle...
Little hands and feet... a little, beating heart...

As the technician accidentally let slip :)... I hold our daughter.

One of my favorite congratulations so far has been, "I guess Joe's lot in this life is to be surrounded by beautiful women. Lucky guy!" So sweet.

Humbly, I say, be still my heart.

A baby girl.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tucker Went to College

When Billy brought him to us on a weekend visit from school, we had been married for maybe about four months. Tucker had been part of a litter left to "hopefully get hit in the road" as a neighbor shared. So my brother, a college baseball player at the time, just had to find the puppy a home. After all this little guy was the scrawniest of the bunch, the one with the saddest look to boot.

We agreed to keep the absolutely adorable ball of fur for the weekend. As it turned out, we kept for him for that and every other weekend of the last six years. Up until this past Christmas Eve.

Then as one of Joe's sweet co-workers put it... Tucker went off to college.

We moved with Tuck to three different states and, despite our efforts to fix and train him, he managed to wreak havoc in each one. Even the sedatives we gave him did little to calm the process. As a way to forever etch him in our memory, we've created a top ten list for your laughing pleasure...

1. Destroying the early 1900's, original door of our rental. My dad had to barter services with a genius artisan who restored it!

2. Escaping from his crate on the screened in porch of that same rental, getting the door open, and trashing the place... from potting soil ground into the carpet to chewing up every one's bedroom shoes.

3. Digging like a maniac as if surely he had a long lost brother in China. We just wish he could have avoided the rental owner's prize-winning marigolds.

4. Eating the rubber backing off a rug by somehow figuring out how to scoot his crate tray back and methodically pulling the rug in with him one fiber at a time. This was our "Welcome to Virginia Beach" episode.

5. Getting overheated, after being outside in the early morning hours (because, of course, with his incessant jumping he knocked over the huge bucket of water we left for him), just a day after the rug incident. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars later, that was the official diagnosis... he was overheated.

6. Living with us in a one room hotel for close to four months upon our arrival to Tennessee. Shall we explain further?

7. Managing to ruin every single coverlet, quilt, or comforter we have ever owned. Finally we broke down after he was "successfully" trained to stay off our bed, and we bought a real deal bedding set. In a quick moment of decision I opted to let him in the house while we ran an errand, for fear that he would tear out the trash in the garage. Six words... red clay mud, comforter WAS white.

8. Attempting philanthropy... after all, why else would a dog shed enough hair to give to about a million other pups in need? We tried us some grooming once. Either he really didn't like it or he was foaming at the mouth for fun.

9. Exercising stubbornness that only a mother could {barely} love. No matter our efforts, he would not stop walking US or barking, barkING, BARKING! We actually recall the night he yapped through an entire two hour Bible Study. With a bark collar on. And the time he pulled me UP and OVER a patio table in pursuit of a backyard duck.

10. Peeing. On your tires. On our tires. On every one's tires. All. the. time.

He was protective to the end, though. I remember being pregnant with Hope and Joe being gone out of town a lot. Tuck would literally sleep over my belly and stand at attention with even so much as a click on the sidewalk outside. He loved to go running with Joe and would humor us as we danced around the room with him. When it was just the family, he'd curl up at our feet and roll over belly exposed. Then, as if the most calm and demure dog in the universe, he'd flatten his ears back and get this goofy grin. Just like he'd died and gone to Doggy Heaven.

Fact of the matter is, he's always needed the space to run and play and canine friends to keep him company. After a final prayer that we could find this for him, the next day a neighbor called with an offer to take him to a farm where a benevolent fella takes in dogs just like that.

Our last memory of him is jumping out of the back of the car and running free with a black lab at his side and miles of land stretched out before him.

So long, buddy. We hope you remember how much we loved you and that you now have the life you were meant to lead.