Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bits: Bookends

I really like a good set of bookends.  Make 'em cute and, as with most things, all the better.  All those titles sandwiched between two pretty objects. The smell and feel of the pages, all the stories held into place until the time is right for savoring them.

This past week was bookended by the ultimate-- great weekends.  The first being our girl turning two, the completed anticipation of party day.  Of looking around at a gathering of family and friends who recognize the life of our little Leesie as something important and special.  Having almost all her grandparents travel in, totally the cherry on top.
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And the second being a long three-day weekend.  Time to turn the backyard into a lazy maze of things to do.  Grilling out every dinner, making lemonade cupcakes just because we're together. Quite honestly, Joe and I have had some trying moments over the last few months. But I love that man fiercely and to the end.  This time especially because about 10 pm, the night before Memorial Day, he says with that gleam in his eye-- "Hey, wanna do something really fun as a family tomorrow?"  In a split second, he had a list going of stuff to gather from around the house, and I headed five minutes down the road to Kroger.  By midnight we had packed bags and a full cooler, counting down the hours till we could announce to the girls that we were headed out of town to this great little beachy lake. Family time, concentrated... so sweet.  A gift.
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That sandbox given to us for FREE by a random connection to a stranger!  It's just what I dreamed up my Dad building for the girls.  I think I just heard him breathe a little sigh of relief. :)

In between those bookends, though, is a great title.  One that was certainly savored until the end.  Like all good books, once it was reshelved, there was that agonizing feeling of longing for it to have just begun again.  To go back to when you hadn't yet read the story so you could experience the whole thing afresh, with wide eyed wondering.  There were tears by us all indicating that those feelings weren't just for me alone.

A real page turner in our books: Nana Came to Town.
:: One of the best parts of Nana's visits is that she just jumps in.  When she arrived at the party, girls were scooped up and faces wiped and drinks refilled-- I could breathe all the easier, knowing that she sees through eyes quite like mine and she loves these girls so deeply.  Around the house things get done because I know my girls are well watched.  And almost every evening there are walks around the block or time for me to run solo, something  that I've really begun to enjoy again.  Except maybe that first hill.  Okay, definitely that first hill.
My Mother's Day shoes have special powers.  First night I wore them I ran extra long and was barely out of breath! 1/3 the way to my fitness goals.

:: Outings are all the better too, with that extra set of willing hands.  As a belated Mama's Day gift, we gave her a vase and then helped her pick blooms from a local flower growing farm.  The pickings were a little slim when we got there that day, but it was fun all the same.  Plus we made up for it by letting her choose dinner-- amazingly she ended up picking the Cracker Barrel, which just so happens to be one of the girls' faves.
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:: Then there is just the every day.  I never got to have a sister, but especially the older I get-- she is a dearest friend, a sister and mama rolled into one.

She helps me laugh hard when the girls ask for a bucket of water.
Clap loud when a most creative cousin sends the cutest package wondering if we'll all be in her upcoming wedding.

Ooh and ahh over the most dear picture of birthday day's lunch.  Not to mention help in recreating a "Fro Yo" spot when a sudden hail storm upset our plans.
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And more...

I might be shouting it from the roof tops here a little, so to speak, but I cannot help myself.  Several months ago it was uncertain that my Mom would even be here another day, so to have her be able to drive herself to our home and to enjoy her --that healthy!!-- so much?  Well, it's a miracle.

One of the most sparkling stories our bookends could possibly hold.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bits: Two

I sit here drinking a delicious low-cal coffee concoction my Mama made, listening to the light rain drizzle outside my bedroom window mixed with the high pitched squeals of little girls hiding in this one particular wicker chest-- which, for some reason, is a fascinating new game of theirs.  The sun is doing that amazing thing where it shines through the raindrops as if nature can't decide which weather more befits a lovely Tuesday afternoon.

Truth is, I sort of understand such a thing myself.

It's a love/hate relationship with birthday posts.  For I am the one who remembers like a flash the years gone by.  When I first saw pink lines pop up before my amazed, sometimes unbelieving eyes.  When I worked for hours, sometimes for days breathing and rocking.  When all of that work more than paid off as a doctor or midwife announced, "Here's your little girl!"  When I first held them close and nursed them long.  When they first smiled, waved, rolled over, crawled, took steps, tried new foods, said 'I love you' to ears that could not be any more filled with joy.  It always seems they were just blowing out last year's candles, when yet... here we are again another year bigger, another whole year of memories behind us-- filled with challenges that I handled well or not and, more importantly, filled with so much good.  This precious opportunity I have to see them grow each new day, to be by their sides for this incredibly short season.

Yet, how can I help but grin so big to see a healthy little one transition into a toddler?  To be thankful that I have a walking, talking little girl-- so full of life, energy, sweetness, and spunk?  It's impossible to do anything but give God the utmost glory and to celebrate.

Truth is, there is so much to celebrate.

For our "moo cow" cookie loving little Leesie, an afternoon filled with old-fashioned backyard games, trike riding, Daddy playing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" on the guitar for all the littles, story time with Mommy, adoration and hugs from big sisters, lots of cookies and milk and a fun lunch to be enjoyed by all:

That was this past weekend on a most beautiful Saturday.  Today we stop to remember her official birthday.  We've read and played and colored and hugged, best of all enjoying the delicious gift of Nana still being in town.  Tonight there will be favorites, grilled chicken and pineapple kebobs and thick slices of juicy watermelon.   Bet she won't even have to twist our arms too much to get a trip for frozen yogurt either? :)   Because being alive another year?

Cannot imagine anything more worthy of sunshine and celebrations.
Dear Alysse Maribeth,

At two years old, you enjoy life so much! You continue to have one of the *best* belly laughs we have ever heard and it's like music to our ears. Your sissies sometimes frustrate you by swiping a toy or two, but much more often they are literally scrambling each to be the one who shows you the most love. There were tears in Mama's eyes many times during your party as I watched one or the other spontaneously have to give you a squeeze or smooch. And your parents feel the same way. Mama *loves* that you still ask me, "Hold me like a baby?" and you just beam when I turn you into my chest, cradled like I used to do when you were so tiny and new.

You are our music lover, always requesting songs and dancing in tune. We certainly hope you don't stop saying, "I the show!" anytime soon because every time you do and start up a little musical number-- well, we just about die. You have such imagination; playing "Mommy and Daddy and Baby" with any little toys you can find and your sense of humor keeps us all in stitches. You've begun practicing for the role of two with quick bursts of fit pitching when we say "no" or ask you to stop something, even throwing yourself on the floor for good measure. But we've seen this game before and have to note you are generally quickly distracted and ready to say your famous "Otay, Mama!" or better yet "Okey Dokey!" Your sweet spirit, your spunk and fun. Oh, baby girl, you are joy!

We are so, so glad God gave you to us. Love you to the mooooo-n and back!

 ~Daddy and Mama

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bits: Choose Your Own Adventure

Anyone else remember those novels?  The ones where you would get to a chapter's end and there before you would lie possibilities.  To continue your story in one direction, turn to page such-and-such; to go in the opposite direction, simply turn to another page entirely.  I remember really digging those books.  I often like me some control.

In the story of life, I've learned we are  not always the final word on our destinies.  Oh sure, we can do plenty to impact which path we'll take or which path we find ourselves on... but there are some twists of the plot that seem to just come and hit us up right there in the middle of chapter four or five without much forewarning at all.  Where we go from that point, how much courage we will have after life hands us a cliff hanger-- well now, there's some choice in all of that to be sure.  Sometimes big choices, like pray my heart out choices-- things that will make monumental differences-- are to be made.

And sometimes... sometimes it's the little adventures of the every day that require courage too.  To choose to get up and smile and dust off your bag of tricks, to see the monumental in refilling the sandbox and pulling out the plastic pool and concocting messes with no mind to how long it might take to clean them up. 

Choose your own adventure?  Yes, I think this past week we sure did.
Starting with breakfast, the adventurer's most important meal of the day. :)

:: Painting paper with flowers, ultimately painting ourselves with flowers.
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Mama's Creations: Wildflower Garden, Fairy House.

 :: Tin foil rivers.
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Intense recycled yogurt boat watching faces, anyone?

:: That sandbox. A popular spot this past week.
:: Colored rice. Crazy messy play-doh making. Photobucket Photobucket

:: Splashing, chubby delicious thighs, giggling, sunflares.

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Totally worth dragging out that old plastic thing. 

::The return of Family Night, so good to have it back. 
Glow stick hide-n-seek, in the backyard and in all manner of little girl gown. 

 Praying God helps me write my story well, each choice along the way.

ps... I love you, my sweeties.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bits: Welcome This

The weather lately can certainly turn on a dime, but I've actually been kind of grateful for some of its mood swings.  Rainy, cool days to give us permission to stay inside and catch up or piddle around.  Warm, bursting with sunshine kinds of days to inspire walks, yard work, bike rides and chalking up our little sidewalk.  In between days so we can dabble in a little of all of the above.  I enjoy living in places with all the seasons, beautiful segways to new beginnings.

This week is an ode, however, to the warm weather side.  Nothing too deep, nothing too insightful... just pretty simple will do.  Like the faith I have right now that He will work all things together for good.

Simply: He's got this, every single this in my life.

:: One day I'm really going to miss going to the freezer for some fruit.

:: Might even miss this too, when I've used up the last of my ingredients late at night and the appreciation gifts are supposed to be given out at 9 am the next morning.

:: Inability to measure correctly likely in part due to this season of life with these three.  Can you see what they're doing though?  With sentimental hearts like their Mama, they found their respective cards stashes from loved ones.  Poured over it all for a long time under the happy afternoon rays.

:: Now to roll out my welcome mat...
And, by all means, {save my waist} welcome back strawberry shortcake.  Vast improvement over the last baking adventure.

:: Welcome back consistent picnics.  Specifically, welcome back spur of the moment Subway sandwiches after church because it's just too pretty to go on home.

:: Welcome back Spray Park, our faces have missed your grin giving abilities.

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:: Welcome back to driving a little further for other parks, like the one with the big caterpillar that reaches toward the sky.  These are my favorite kind of week-end days, when we have freedom to let one thing roll into another until we all head home a deeply satisfied kind of worn out.

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:: Welcome back grill and dining alfresco.  You too, tiny bowls of ice-cream.

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:: Welcome back strawberry patches with friends, friends who take pictures that make me smile.

:: Welcome back backyard.

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 :: Welcome back swimsuits, sundresses, sandals, water, dirt, dreams of family vacation, farmers markets, necessary baths almost each night.

Speaking of satisfied worn-out, sisters and friends caught bunking together in the top bunk.

This is good.

I love good.