Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmastime, Cliffs Notes-style

Wow... another month-long interruption from this blog! And how do you summarize a month's worth of life, especially when that month included Christmas and all activities-Christmas? I guess through pictures!

A visit to a Special Somebody. Jack was a little unsure but didn't need me to sit with him. And a 'first' after 5 years of visiting Santa... NO LINE!!

Christmas programs. Same day, across town, but luckily at different times. Both girls did a great job.

The Nutcracker. My favorite Christmas tradition. This year was perfect. And I realized how much older the girls have gotten when I realized at the end of the day that this year was much more fun and much less work. Chad surprised the girls by bringing Jack down and joining us in Atlanta where we spent the night in a hotel, had a special dinner out on the town, and walked around the mall enjoying the decorations.

Quick ER trip. What's a holiday without a little sick? This poor guy had ear infections on Thanksgiving, bad case of croup on Christmas and strep on New Year's. 'Tis the season!

Boy toys!! Finally, this little boy has some things to play with that aren't pink, purple, and involving dolls!

Swing-set from all the grandparents.
This has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving!

Looking through these pictures, I see one similarity with all of Jack's pictures...the pacifier! I guess we need to work on breaking that habit! (or at least removing it before we take the picture!!)

Ho Ho Ho and see you soon!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Lessons from the Parade

The girls were glued to the Macy's Parade this Thanksgiving...saw the entire thing. In the past week, I've observed a few new things, courtesy of the parade:

1. 'Good-bye' ballet slippers and tutus; 'hello' high heals and short tap-outfits. It seems that being a "Rockette" is the new desired profession.

2. "You can tell that we like Alex because when we see him, we scream and run away; that's what girls do when they see Justin Beiber." This was Aly's explanation to Caroline, when talking about the boy across the street. (courtesy of the Pepsi or Coke commercial with Justin Beiber they saw every 5 minutes.)

3. "Spider Man is my boyfriend." After the Broadway performance by the webbed-hero, Caroline has a new obsession.

4. "Boys sometimes dress up like girls." This keeps coming up after another Broadway performance with a cast of transvestites. That was a fun one to explain.

5. "When are we going to see the floats?" This is the question I kept getting during our town's very humble, simple Christmas Parade. (while sitting in the cold drizzle it took everything I had to give a positive, non-sarcastic response!)

I can't help but be in awe of the amount of information
absorbed and processed by these little minds!

P.S.-- Just finished listening to Chad's game on the radio. Have I mentioned that the Hawks are 9-0?!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

I realized today that I am more "middle-aged" than I picture myself. Let me explain:

In high school, if I saw certain kinds of cars- mostly either pick-up trucks or little cars of the Eclipse/Probe variety- I would speed up next to them and crane my neck to see who was driving, as there was a good chance that I might know their driver.

In college, I would do the same double-take if I saw cars with certain sorority/fraternity crests on the back windshield. Again, there was a good chance that I might know the driver.

Today, I realized that I now strain to see the driver of... mini-vans! Who would have guessed 10 years ago that I would speed up in excitement to see which friend of mine may be sharing the road with me in her mini-van?!

I guess I'll still take that over looking for my friends in a stretched-out Buick!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Missing Month

Are you kidding?! Is it really the end of November? I feel like we're still eating the last of the Halloween candy! And have I really not posted anything for almost a month?! I guess that somewhere between school programs, basketball, family visits, and Thanksgiving the month disappeared. Here's a quick recap before the slow-paced December (ha!) sneaks by too:

Aly's Thanksgiving Program

Caroline's Thanksgiving Program
Our little "Smiling Horse"

Jack found a girlfriend at Daddy's game
(did I mention that the Hawks are currently 7-0?!)

Chad and the girls during the post-game interview
Aly was thrilled that Nana heard her say, "Go Hawks" all the way up in NY!

Some sister lovin'

Thanksgiving Day Football
We got to spend a great couple days with Nana and Papa as well as our Alabama family.
Obviously, we didn't use much of the camera during that visit!

Jack feeding his new-found buddy

The kids reading The Nutcracker to...the nutcracker

Friday, November 4, 2011

Super Powers

The girls love Super Heroes and the idea that people have Super Powers. Aly cried at one point when she awoke from a dream in which she was flying and realized that it was not real. Caroline has worn her SuperGirl outfit each day since Halloween and practices flying daily. Once, on the way to school, I looked back at Aly and saw her squinting her eyes at the cars in front of us; when she saw me looking, she informed me, "This is my super power that only I have: I can make things blurry when I look at them." (She apparently doesn't realize the "power" of my astigmatism!).

After thinking about it for awhile, I told them that they do, in fact, have a Super Power--one that grown-ups don't have. I told them that they have imaginations that can make them anything, anytime, doing any action they want. I told them that this power is different because only kids have it.

As I try to keep up with what and who they are pretending to be each day, I realize that this super power of childhood imagination truly is an amazing thing. It allows a cardboard box to be several hours worth of entertainment; it allows a little girl to be a detective, ballerina, and character from a book all at the same time; it keeps them up at night when it fills their closet with scary monsters; and it allows them to have an invisible friend named "Fritz" who is with them always. I can't remember when my imagination left, but I know that our little world will be a lot less interesting around here when these kids' "SuperPowers" are no more.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Junior Prom, revisted.

As I sit at the computer looking at the pictures that I was sure would be Christmas card-perfect, I had to laugh at the fact that the only two that I ended up getting looked like this:

As I thought about it, I realized that Halloween and Prom are really eerily similar in many ways:

10. You decorate with a bunch of things that would be considered either gaudy or bizarre any other time of the year.

9. You visit and revisit stores trying to pick the perfect outfit.

8. You answer the same question leading up to the big day. "Who are you going with?" (Prom) or "Who are you going as?" (Halloween).

7. You spend a long time on hair and make-up, just to find that something is not quite right with the end result.

6. You have to stand around taking a bunch of pictures when you'd rather be doing something else.

5. You get a random group of people together for dinner beforehand but can barely eat because you're either too nervous (prom) or too excited (Halloween).

4. You can't believe that someone else at the party has the same outfit as you!

3. Someone always ends of crying.

2. By the end of the night, you're feet are hurting and you're tired from staying up so late.

1. You're already counting down the days until next year!

Happy Halloween from Popeye, Olive Oyl, Wonderwoman, Supergirl, and Batman

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Say, "Cheese!"

Not much to say... happy smiles all around describe how we're feeling!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gettin' Down on the Farm

Aly had a Kindergarten field trip to a pumpkin patch so Caroline, Jack, and I tagged along. We had such a fun time petting all types of animals, feeding cows from the hayfide, getting lost in the enormous cornmaze, and enjoying a picnic in the beautiful temperature. Between the tractors, goats, and haystacks to climb on, Jack could barely contain his excitement and enthusiasm! And the rain graciously held off until we were home, safe and sound.

This is about as good as "group picture" gets these days!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Full Calendar

We have a huge calendar on our refrigerator in the kitchen where we mark all of the holidays, birthdays, and special days throughout the month. September has always been one of those months where there is not a lot going on: school has already started, there are no real holidays, and no family birthdays. It's just a plain month. I guess that's why September was a great month for the process of finding, testing, and diagnosing my MS. It added a little excitement to the usually vanilla-flavored month of September! But now that we are settling back down and enjoying these doctor-appointment-free weeks, I wanted to catch everyone up with some pictures of our past 6 weeks or so. They have included separate visits from both Nana and Papa (I think they now believe me when I say that I feel great!), ballet, school events, and (finally!) last week's fair.

The October calendar in the kitchen is already full of birthday parties, fall festivals, field trips, the pumpkin patch, and of course, Halloween. So I guess we won't need any added heath-issue-induced excitement!

Reading with Papa

Back to Ballet!

Daddy's Dessert at school

A visit to the fair with friends

Playing with Nana

**I do realize that there are really no pictures of Jack on this post. He is not exactly at an easy stage to take pictures (translation: he runs from the camera!), but I am now committed to do a better job of it! So more pictures of Jack to come!!**

Aly learning to read!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Body

For the few of you who read this blog, you know of my recent pending/possible diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. It has been a crazy 2 weeks for us, but this post is really not about that. Chad and I have been absolutely floored. But it's not the news of the diagnosis that has blown us away. The doctor's appointments, and tests have been a scheduling nuisance but nothing earth-shattering. The spinal headaches that followed the spinal tap have hung around for a week have absolutely kicked my rear end, but they haven't rocked us. The thing that has been the most unbelievable, amazing, heartwarming, and unexpected thing to us has been the people around us. From emails to texts to letters in the mail. From dinners on the doorstep to prayers for our family. From taking the kids for an hour to setting up doctor's appointments for me. It is amazing the importance of not only the community but also of the Church Body. We have seen first-hand the love of Christ exemplified through people both near to us and across the country. It is truly a comforting and refreshing thing. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Charlie Jack

This is the girls' and my affectionate name for our Jack. Chad's not a fan of the moniker and prefers, instead, "Champer." But tell me that this face isn't just a perfect "Charlie Jack":

This summer, he probably could've answered to anything, mostly, "Where's Jack?" or "Has anyone seen Jack?" But now that school is back in for the girls, I'm getting some much-anticipated Jack-time. Regardless of the name, he is perfect. To us.

Here are some of the things that you need to know about Jack. Jack loves:
1. Trash. Putting trash in trash cans entertains this boy all day, everyday.

2. Balls. Any size, any shape, but most preferably basketballs. He and Chad shoot ball each morning after breakfast.
3. Sticks. Picking them up and making piles of them.
4. Cars, trucks, and trains. Currently, there is a construction crew on our street with a giant excavator and dump train. Combine that with the fact that today is garbage day and this boy is in heaven.
5. Dogs. He thinks that they all like him as much as he loves them. Thankfully, there are a lot of fences in our neighborhood.
6. His family. He has a different way of addressing and loving on each of us. He wakes up asking for "Dada", and gives him lots of pats and head-butts. He adores Aly ("Aggie"); he calls for her often and copies everything she does. He is amused by Caroline ("Ca") and is as hot-and-cold with her as she is with him. And he moans "Mamama"and buries his head into my legs every time he's shy, tired, or hungry.
7. His paci and blue "Jack blanket". He carries it everywhere wrapped around his body, like a towel.

8. Big kids, especially big boys. He watches them and wants to play just like them.
9. Peanut butter. It's the only source of protein this little vegetarian gets.
10. Routine and order. With parents like us, I guess he has no choice.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Me, through child-colored glasses

I am a runner. I love to run. Now, I have taken a bit of a break from it (and by "bit", I mean about 4 years.) I stopped when I was 7 months pregnant with Caroline, and because of inconsistent schedules, another pregnancy with Jack, and an unwillingness to wake up at 5am, I've come to realize that now is just not the season in life for my running. But it is definitely a part of my identity. I started it when I was about 10 and just love love love it. I love running with no music, no people around me; I love to think, hear my own breathing, hear my own footsteps, and just tune out. I am a runner.

Two days ago, I overheard a conversation Aly was having with a friend whose mother runs. Aly said, "My mom doesn't ever run. She doesn't like running." I was struck by the fact that my daughter, who is with me the majority of everyday of her life, could be so mistaken about who I am! Doesn't she remember that I ran with her until the day she was born? That I ran with her for the first year and a half of her life? Of course not. She knows what she remembers experiencing, and my running is not a part of it. So it made me wonder how my kids do see me? And not just the interests that make up my identity... what about the actions that make up my character? I know that they see girls coming over to our house for Bible studies, but do they ever see me sit down during the day and actually open up my Bible? I know that they hear me tell people that I will pray for them, but how often do they see me stop what I'm doing and actually pray? I am confident that if they were to make a short list of who their mom is, the daily jobs of cook, house-cleaner, clothes-washer, diaper-changer would all be named. But what a great reminder that these kids are watching and making judgements on what they experience. I hope that I can remember to drop that broom from time to time so that they can see what is really important.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Markers, Crayons, and Vital Records

I think that it really hit Chad and me this week that our 5 years with Aly have flown by. You see, after moving, we carefully stored all of our 'important documents' somewhere...we just couldn't remember where. When we finally found the stash, we realized in horror that we do not have a birth certificate for Aly. And you need a birth certificate to start Kindergarten. How could we not have it? What kind of parents are we that we don't have a birth certificate for our child? And then I remembered a foggy conversation with the nurse in the Williamsburg hospital 5 and a half years ago when she said, "Oh, you won't need a birth certificate anytime soon. You'll just have to get one before she starts school." I remember laughing as I looked down at my bundle of newborn heaven thinking, "School? Kindergarten is forever away."

And today, it is here. Oddly enough (except for the whole birth certificate debaucle), the day came as it should. Clothes were ironed and ready, pictures taken, everyone loaded up, and we were on our way. She is so ready for this and amazingly, so are we! Leaving her in the cafeteria, sitting next to her forever best friend, Lizzy, Chad and I got a little teared up. But how blessed we are that she is in the perfect place at the perfect time for her.

And now, onto applying for Caroline's birth certificate...

First Day of Kindergarten, 2011

"We're Going To Be Friends"
by Jack Johnson
Fall is here, hear the yell
Back to school, ring the bell
Brand new shoes, walking blues
Climb the fence, books and pens
I can tell that we are going to be friends
Yes I can tell that we are going to be friends
Walk with me Suzy Lee
Through the park and by the tree
We can rest upon the ground
And look at all the bugs we've found
Safely walk to school without a sound
We safely walk to school without a sound
Well here we are no one else
We walk to school all by ourselves
There's dirt on our uniforms
From chasing all the ants and worms
We clean up and now it's time to learn
We clean up and now it's time to learn
Numbers letters learn to spell
Nouns and books and show and tell
Play time we will throw the ball
Then back to class through the hall
The teacher marks our height against the wall
The teacher marks our height against the wall
And we don't notice any time pass
Because we don't notice anything
And we sit side by side in every class
The teacher thinks that I sound funny
But she likes it when you sing
Tonight I'll dream in my bed
While silly thoughts run through my head
Of the bugs and alphabet
And when I wake tomorrow I'll bet
That you and I will walk together again
Because I can tell that we are going to be friends
I can tell that we are going to be friends

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Secret's Out

Every birthday and half-birthday, we mark down on a growth chart how much each of the kids has grown over that prior 6-month period. Looking at those lines as they creep their way up the chart are a visible sign that these kids are growing. But nothing marks the passing of childhood-time (to me) as does the first day of school each year. It is this momentous day that lets me see before my eyes that these children are growing.

Caroline started school today. And this morning, this child who has become another part of me over our 3 months of summer together--always with me-- is independent enough to eagerly jump from my car into the arms of her new teacher. We talked about the fact that her's is the oldest class in the school now, and that all of those little 2-year-olds would be looking up to her. That's funny, though, because it's hard for me not to imagine her as one of those 2-year-olds, picturing her like this:

2009- first day of preschool

So as my Baby Girl hopped out of the car, so ready to be that Big Girl, I couldn't help but cry a little as I drove off. From the backseat, Aly (who doesn't start until tomorrow) cautiously asked, "Mama, why are you doing that?" I laughed when I realized that I had an audience and said, "Well, the secret's out! I do this every year when y'all start school, but you aren't usually in the car to see it! Don't worry, though; it's a happy cry. I'm excited for y'all."

And that's true, I am of course excited. But it's also true that each first-day-of-school hurts my heart just a little bit.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Carolina!

Oh, this little girl. I marvel at her and am tickled by her each and every minute. She is never at a loss for questions, hugs, or imaginary friends. I made a list of things that we love about Caroline about 2 years ago, so I thought that a birthday list was well-overdue.
Just a few things we love about our Sweet Caroline:

1. She always, ALWAYS wakes up happy.
2. She often tells us, un-prompted, how much she loves us.
3. She tries to love on/ nurture Jack but almost destroys him in every attempt.
4. She has multiple imaginary friends, but "Fritz" has been around for a long time and is a really good friend, according to her.
5. She hugs with her entire body. Imagine a koala bear.
6. Her smile- lips, cheeks, and eyes- is the most darling, contagious thing I've ever seen.
7. She loves to make people laugh, and is not afraid to laugh at herself.
8. She still falls asleep during most afternoon car rides lasting more than 10 minutes.
9. She has bad dreams often- that's bad. But she cuddles up next to us in bed- that's sweet.
10. She loves to sleep with her bed covered with dolls and animals.
11. She would rather eat at home than a restaurant any day. We pack food for her anytime we eat out.
12. She is quick to get upset, and quick to get over it.
13. She is just as happy playing by herself as she is playing with others.
14. She loves playing "eye-to-eye, cheek-to-cheek, nose-to-nose" with Chad.
15. She gets excited over the smallest, most trivial things. Really excited.
16. She has an incredible memory.
17. She L-O-V-E LOVES Justin Beiber. He is yet another imaginary friend.
18. She loves to dance and wears a leotard and tutu on a weekly basis.
19. She is not easily-influenced by others, even Aly.
20. She sleeps exactly as she did as a baby: on her back with her hands behinds her head.

We could go on and on. She is precious and we are blessed everyday that she has made these past 4 years so fun. Here are a few pictures of the big day on Sunday:

Proud of her new Big Girl Bike

Birthday Breakfast at Panera

Waiting for friends to arrive

Repunzel cake

Decorating Headbands and Hair-clips

A mixed guest list of Santas, ballerinas, and Mulan

Loving the attention!

Everyone admiring the gifts