Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Amigos

Sure, I'll admit it. We love us some special occasions, in particular birthdays. We plan and hunt and create and dream leading up to the big day. Because if being alive another year isn't worth celebrating, I'm not exactly sure what is. The beauty in celebrations being that there are so many ways to, well, celebrate.

We enjoy ourselves a party.
(3 yrs. old)
(2 yrs. old)

That said, we plan and hunt and create and dream... on a dime. And that is a big part of the fun. I'm so glad my own mama taught me the value of dreaming and creating because you can just feel it. The warmth and togetherness that comes from being huddled together, both breathing and working in the same space toward a common purpose. I'm pretty sure my girls are already beginning to get this.
It's also noteworthy that in the last few years I've discovered that I don't like being crazy party lady! You know her? The one who puts on the show but in the meantime fusses and irritates and just overall has a case of the grumps. Then she goes and stresses and worries and primps and plumps once the fun starts, which leaves you to wonder why she even thought up this shin-dig to begin with! This means that I FAR prefer to create in spurts, with the inevitable last burst of 2 am the night before energy, of course... but I leave that for the fun, extra things when at all possible. If the essentials are pretty much done, that means the day of I can truly enjoy the village that gathers to celebrate whatever it might be.

If you were around our neighborhood at about 11 am last Saturday and heard the Dora and Diego theme songs blaring on repeat from our front porch... then you already know about our latest whatever.
Hope's birthday party. Priceless memories and but the (practically) smallest hint of crazy party lady a day or two before show time. You know, when my house was turned upside down. She happily left, though, once grandparents arrived to a pretty clean house... except the kitchen. White chili, bean and black olive soup, bread, cupcakes, 17 sunbutter sandwiches, and baked ziti per their arrival. With my three underfoot.

I'll leave that mess to your imagination. Oh and to Nana's miracle working ways with a broom and dustpan.

Nonetheless it came together and Hope rang in another year with her friends, explorer style. As the littles followed maps all around our house, sang, whacked a pinata, pinned a donkey, ate a surprise character cake made by our talented neighbor, played, and hugged I felt pride in this little thing Hope and I managed to pull off together. I was also again humbled by the outpouring of love on our biggest girl. Explorers were a perfect party for her this year... Dora and her buddy Diego are adventurous, compassionate, smart, lively, and fun.

Reminds us of a certain, gulp, four year-old we know.
Hunting right down to the outfit... found this "perfect party dress" for just over a dollar!

Special thanks to a most precious friend for always capturing our babies during times like these! Love you!

Gracias to our amigos, near and far, for helping four to start off with a beautiful bang!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hope Day-- 2011

Just like last year, she made some plans. Plans that became official once stuck to the refrigerator door. After all, we are of the opinion that any day which begins with waffles and ends with pancakes is destined to be delicious.
Honestly all she asked for was a day of books and puzzles... when probed a little further the day then included a picnic and breakfast for dinner. When I asked if by books and puzzles, would she like to go to the library... it was as if I showed up with Ed McMahon and a big over sized check.
And when I further clarified that if by picnic was she okay with avoiding sub zero temps to eat in the back of our car... I might as well have shouted, "Moooove that bus!" She was seriously thrilled.
Why yes, that is frivolous packaging of Hope (& Maddie) favorites. Some of it even purchased solely for the character on the front. I mean-- c'mon-- birthdays only come once a year!

Her simple, little requests made it a pure joy to sweeten the pot. A two-for-one pass to the local Jump Zone and Sonic Happy Hour. Two strawberry slushes, one berry one please. The girls only drank 1/3 or less of the small size cups, but the looks on their faces were well worth the buck sixty-five.
(Why can't I get it off italics?? I have no idea, but I'm too tired so here's to rolling with it.)

The girls took a bubble bath to degerm themselves and we settled in for an afternoon of watching borrowed movies and reading books. Even baked muffins for preschool friends. Then Daddy came home with some flowers for his big girl, and this picture made me see.

Hopey, you are four. Sometimes you seem even older than that with your independence, your creativity, your thoughtfulness, your drive. But you are still our little one... a little girl who needs reassurance and direction, a little girl who sometimes hides behind a shy smile, a little girl who wants to crawl up in our arms in the middle of the night. That's just as it should be because though it's our joy to watch you grow, you'll never be too big for love. And love you?

How we do.

May four be your best year yet.
~ Daddy and Mama

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Chelsea's Day-- Yo!

One of my favorite Madison versions of a beloved Christmas carol. Recognize it? Yep... them angels hearing on high.

2011, though, is shaping up to be a good year for HAM already. Plus I could use a really good laugh this week. So I'll cut to the biscuit, er, chase.

Maddie to me as she makes giant, knee high strides around the room in pink clickety shoes and veil: "Uh 'scuse me, peeze, but I am the STEP Mom!" In total seriousness, that girl.
For some reason Maddie was determined to call Grandpa and Grandma... Granpa and Granpa... on our recent visit. Finally I strongly enunciated for her "PA" and "MA" to which she quickly responded, "Yeah... GranPA and GranPA." Then with a perfect comedic pause added, "I'm just jokin' guys!"

After dropping Hope off at preschool one morning, I called my mom for the drive home and got in a serious conversation. Maddie, desperate for my attention, called out for me repeatedly in the backseat. "Yes, honey?" I finally asked. "Mom, did you see Jake??" "Madds, who is Jake?" She thinks for a minute and smiles, "I don't weally know." Kind of reminds me of the imaginary friend she had for about two days. That in and of itself isn't so funny, but the name is... Pokapie. Yes, Poke-a-pie.

Apparently naming things isn't just for the imaginary. The other morning Joe casually asks what she would like to eat. With much gusto she announces, "Eggs. WILD eggs!" Scrambled while continuously exclaiming, "WILD eggs... WIIIILLLLD eggs!" fits the bill in case you're wondering.
You can count on Maddie Girl to give all sorts of public service announcements or random trivia periodically throughout the day...
"You dwink water, not eat it."
"Uno is one."
"Pants go on your wegs."
"I'm a big sistwer AND a wittle sistwer."
To name a few.

One night Hope wouldn't do what she was asked so she received a time-out. Still a little miffed at me later, I came in to ask if she'd like a hug to which she replied, "I suppose. God DOES tell us to be nice to our enemies." It has become a standing joke, that line, repeated often when someone now gets the sillies.
Hope is quite the Biblical scholar. She just doesn't bother with too many details... like shortening the long list of Israel's foes to "Enemey-ites." I have a feeling it'll be difficult getting her to read through books like Numbers.
Speaking of jokes, the girls are already beginning a list of insiders that only they fully appreciate. Throughout Christmas and into the new year an absolute favorite is, "Mommmmy is Christmas lights!!!" Cue insane laughter.

Oh, Alysse... how will we digest THREE of you??!! :)
Onesie To Whom It May Concern...


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


But first, it has to be a good omen that I actually stayed up and got the major areas clean last Sunday. That way on Monday morning the snow fall was a welcome guest, one who we could gladly meet since our chores were all done.

And, if only for about one chilly hour, meet the snow covered ground we did.

I can hope for such success on my resolutions for 2011, but this past year has proven that life can be quite unpredictable. Back in the fall I made this real pretty poster board "schedule" of all that we would accomplish in those golden colored days. I had it all together. That is until a day later when a major life curve ball swung everything to the opposite. Still, it is good to have goals and a vision. I believe God wants us to search deep, to dream big. Maybe even stay a little flexible while we're at it.

You know, leave room for Him to move?

Shockingly, I begin with these three. :)
Sweet, little matchy gifts sure make us smile

They are still little, but they are indeed getting older. Already I can see their love languages emerging, which presents both a challenge and blessing in knowing how to best love on them. For example, Hope is my gifts (both giving and receiving!) and quality time girl while Maddie is my physical touch and words of affirmation sweetie. Remembering this can go a long way in building them up, but only one of me needs to go a long way in always figuring out how. Especially when quality time and physical touch go head to head. Oomph!

It can look like me telling Maddie to let go for a minute so I can accomplish something or me telling Hope that we can do such-and-such but we have to do it quickly. Of course, in many circumstances these things are true and no big deal to say... I just don't want such to become a pattern, the norm. I want to slow down and be intentional in what I say and do.

1. All that to say, I want to love them really well.

Before I get all wordy, let me challenge myself to say it like it is for these next few....

2. I want to spend more quality time with Joe and encourage him more. Guess what his love languages are? You're right, Hope doesn't fall far from the tree.

3. I want to rebuild my core (you know, three babes in three years + some change!) and get back into regular exercise (sweet stress relief!) Zumba once a week, running once a week, and Pilates/Yoga by video a couple times a week would be nice.

4. I want to send out at least one handwritten letter or card a week. I used to be really good at that, and I feel it is a joy to the recipient and to me.

5. I want to continue to improve the overall health of our family... our minds through our education choices, our bodies through nutrition and exercise, and our spirits through plugging in, connecting, and serving. Sleep would also be cool.

6. I want to spend time, even if just ten quality minutes some days, in prayer and study.

7. I want to live courageously and in our calling. That's a big one that I could make more specific, but for now I'll leave it at that knowing God knows just what I mean.

2011, let me make the most of you. Let me love well, give generously, serve humbly, and strive greatly. Let me be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend that I can. Let me also remember that every day is a new day, an opportunity to make the most of life for that day even when mistakes or curve balls come calling.

Let me truly live.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas Recap

It was a lot of fun this year watching both bigger girls truly understand what Christmas is all about.

The excitement and childlike wonder makes it all the more special. Joe and I are often wonderfully bewildered that we are now in charge of creating family traditions, memories that will go with our girls for a lifetime. In fact, lots of times one of us will whisper to the other, "Can you believe we have three kids?!"

Christmastime is prime time for the making of such memories. Seeing as how our home is in shambles, random road trip bags spilling out all over the floors, and our car only about half unpacked... I'd say so.

It's a lot more fun at present to unpack my camera, though I am determined to get us back in working order if it's the last thing I do tonight. Until we see if I just made myself a big liar, behold... The Christmas Recap!

Holly jolliness officially kicked off once PopPop, Nana, Rocky, Uncle Billy, and Aunt Andrea walked through the door. You know family has arrived when, if you take a shower, it's only to go from pj's unto pj's.
Unto white chocolate cranberry cookies and cappuccino punch. Or was it unto homemade raspberry pound cake, cheesy artichoke dip, "Sunday Morning" breakfast quiche, and maple cinnamon rolls?

It's all kind of a blur, but I do know I'm glad jammy pants are stretchy.

Throw in a late night drive to look at twinkly lights accompanied by decked out hot chocolate and George Strait's holiday album, a birthday party for Jesus, and the faces of three little girls on an opening whirlwind Christmas brunch kind of morning...

Sweet recap.

It's a pretty good thing a lot of that time was lazy because we stepped it up a notch the Monday after Christmas. Thirty+ car hours round trip, four different lovely house guest hosts, and more cousin fun than should legally be allowed.

It was so good to see Joe's side of our family because it doesn't happen nearly as often as we would like. Highlights included a couple of family/friend Christmases, the girls baking berry cupcakes and Grandpa's birthday party, and mine and Joe's extended date.

Oh yeah, you read that right. Extended. Date.

Our big gift from the whole family was a night away at a nearby gor-geous resort. Uncle Russ, Aunt Ellen, and crew crazy generously babysat all the girls for a full 24 hours to make this happen and even treated us to a fancy dinner beforehand (Hi, sweet Julia, now that I know how much you enjoy coming here to read about your adoring girl cousins!!!!). Sharing BBQ shrimp over sweet potatoes and cranberry slaw, she crab soup, and some delectable entrees by a roaring fire was quite romantic. Even more romantic was pulling up every so often in their driveway with a quick text of, "We're here!" just so they could sneak Alysse out to nurse before we went on our way. :)

We spent the next day strolling through historic Leesburg... quaint antique shops, coffee and scones, having time to both start and finish some deep conversations. It was so exciting that I forgot my camera! Thanks to my sis-in-law for the loaner and the promise of pics of our time there and with them.

I'm not saying all of this cheer was without its work, its organization, its coordination, its little quirks and hang-ups.

I'm saying that even still... Recap, how I love walking down your memory lane.

Alysse's first Christmas won't soon be forgotten.