Five Favorites – Grandma and Grandpa’s House

Life is always good when I’m at my parents’ house. My girls are happy to be with Grandma and Grandpa. My husband is happy because he’s fishing. My parents are happy because they get to spend time with my girls. And I’m just happy about all of it. Everyone wins.

Today, I’ve got five of my favorite things at my parents’ house:

1. This stove.

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My husband and I are building a new house, and we’ve looked at a lot of stoves over the past year or two. I have never in my life seen anything like this one anywhere else. This stove is older than I am, but check it out. It has double ovens. It has a little shelf at the back, and the stove top slides forward if you need to use more than the front two burners. It’s yellow, for pete’s sake. I have many happy memories associated with this stove. I love it.

2. And along with the stove, my Dad’s cooking.

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Don’t be fooled by that look. He likes cooking (though perhaps not having his photo taken). He was a firefighter and cooked at the firehouse for many years and got good at it. He spoils us by cooking for us all week when we’re here.

3. This bed:

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My Dad made it for me when I was little. This trip is the first time any of my girls has used it. Both of the bigger girls sleep in double beds in the same room, and this one was the last bed available for little Sis. She’s almost too big for it, but I’m savoring her in it for now.

I’m also (mostly) loving that my girls are all sleeping in the same room, which is a big treat for them. As I’m typing this, I can hear them laughing and talking and playing in their room, though they’re supposed to be winding down for sleep. They’re all exhausted, but it makes me happy that they’re having so much fun together.

4. The weather.

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Unless it’s the middle of summer, the weather here is always better than it is at our house.

5. The time.

Time together as a family. Time with Grandma and Grandpa.

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Time for me and my husband to go on an overnight date in Nashville. Time for me to be with my Mom.

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^ Her first ever selfie when we went antiquing this afternoon ^

 Being here makes my heart feel so full.

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Head over to Call Her Happy to see what things other folks are favoriting right now.

Musical Reminiscing and Songs to Listen to When Cleaning House (5 Favorites)

A while ago, my husband and I began talking about music and the memories that can be associated with certain songs or artists. It’s a fun topic. I love thinking about how hearing a certain song can instantly transport me to another time and place in my memory.

Ben and I are both big music lovers. I have always been awed by the ability of a song to capture a feeling or experience perfectly, through its lyrics or arrangement, or both. I learned about my husband’s love of music the first time he came to visit me when I was in graduate school. He pulled out his guitar within minutes of his arrival and began playing and singing “Pencil Thin Mustach.” We’ve had a very musical relationship ever since.

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A few weeks ago, he and I got to talking about the music of our childhoods: the music our parents listened to, and when we got a little older, the artists we chose and songs we loved.

My mom had an 8-track player. The artists I remember her playing the most were Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, Barbara Streisand, whom I called Barbara Susanne Stripe because of this album cover (which doesn’t look anything like I remember it):

And Johnny Mathis at Christmas, of course.

My husband has vivid memories of his mom playing the “Beaches” soundtrack. And of course:

As I got older and began making my own musical choices, I grew to love Michael Jackson, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, and of course, the scandalous Madonna. My mom tried to shelter me from unsavory influences, so I wasn’t allowed to watch MTV or listen to the “hard rock” radio stations. I got a clock radio for Christmas one year that had a “Sleep” button so I could listen to the radio when going to bed at night. It turned off by itself after 30 minutes, which seemed sooo high tech back then. I was only allowed to listen to the “soft hits” station at night. I don’ t think my mom knew that that radio station had a Dr. Ruth talk show on every Sunday night, right at my bedtime, which made for some interesting listening for an eight year old. . .

Anyway, Ben and I were discussing the music from when we were kids and also the music that our daughters will remember, hopefully fondly, from their own childhoods. Now with digital music, and iTunes, and playlists we don’t usually listen to specific albums from one artist straight through. So our girls might have a bit more eclectic experience of music than what we had as kids.

Right now their favorites include “Achy Breaky Heart” (which Lass calls Knacky Bracky Heart), “Yellow Submarine,” “Red Solo Cup,” “Fishin’ In the Dark,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “Love Shack.”

One day last week we rocked to Love Shack in the car, upon request, and they all yelled the “Bang, Bang, Bangs” right on cue. Then Lass said, “Mom, I think in the love shack they make lots of Valentines. And give lots of hugs and kisses, right?” Yes Sweetheart. Yes, that’s what they do.

It makes me smile that my girls love music and dancing as much as their Dad and I do.

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In my opinion, music makes all things better. Especially housework and home improvement projects. I love to put on my headphones, select my playlist of girl songs, and rock out while cleaning or home-improving. My favorite songs are those I can sing at the top of my lungs that lend themselves to dancing with a vacuum or using my paintbrush as a microphone (I’m sorry for the unfortunate visuals). Yes, I do sing at the top of my lungs while wearing headphones. My kids love it. Fortunately with my headphones on I can’t hear them whine-yelling, “Mo-om, stop singing!”

My favorite songs for this purpose? The top five, right here

5. All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow

4. Papa Don’t Preach – Madonna

3. Miss You Much – Janet Jackson

2. Love is a Battlefield – Pat Benetar (anyone else love the old shimmy-walk move?)

1. Cool Rider – Michelle Pfieffer

I used to really, really want one of those jackets.

Anyone want to take a guess at how old I am from this list? Haha!

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I’m linking up with Call Her Happy today for Five Favorites! What are your favorites?

 

Five Most Popular Posts and Five Favorite Ones from 2014

When I wrote my 12 photos in 2014 post last week, I spent a lot of time looking back over the past year, rereading old posts, and remembering things I had forgotten. I remembered some of my favorite posts that I wrote. Then, just for fun I looked at my site stats from the year to see which of my entries were viewed the most. I promise I’ll move on to current/new posts soon, but I’m not quite done reflecting on 2014 yet. Bear with me :)

Here is a quick recap of the five most popular posts (of those I wrote this year) and and then my five most favorite ones.

#5 Beginning at the Beginning – My Conversion Story, Part 1

This post was really hard to write. It was the first post where I shared the painful experiences that were the spark to my conversion. I debated for a long time whether to write about my first miscarriage and my husband’s vocal cord paralysis. It seems like I opened the floodgates with this post, as I’ve since written about plenty of personal experiences since.

#4 How I Really Found God

Like I said, I opened the floodgates with the first post about my conversion, as evidenced by this post (and several others since then!). This post was basically the third part of my conversion story. So the first part and the third part ended up as two of the top five most popular posts. But the second part didn’t even make the top ten. Weird?

#3 When Your Friend is Infertile – The Dos and Don’ts

This is a post I was very hesitant to write. It rattled around in my thoughts for months before I finally felt like I just had to sit down and type it out. I think because it’s such a personal and individual issue, I was reluctant. But the response to it was amazing. I got messages from women in the combox, via email, and in person that let me know that it was a post that felt helpful to many. Based on the conversations I had after the fact, I probably did miss a few things, but I don’t think I offended anyone (at least not that I know of). I’m glad I wrote it.

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#2 Edel – A Different View

This is another post I was reluctant to write, about how I felt being in the unusual position of looking pregnant, and technically being pregnant (with a non-viable pregnancy), in a room full of lots of pregnant ladies and new babies at the Edel Conference last summer. I’m sure a lot of the popularity of this post was due to Jenny sharing it on her blog Mama Needs Coffee in this post (thanks Jenny!).

#1 Why I Don’t Threaten My Kids with the “Naughty List” at Christmas

This post had more clicks in two weeks than any other post I wrote last year! I’m certain that was because Kendra from the wildly popular blog Catholic All Year shared it on her Facebook page (thanks Kendra). Again, I was unsure about whether or not I should write this one.

It’s interesting (to me at least) that so many of the posts I didn’t want to do ended up being favorites. I am often hesitant to write about topics that I think will be controversial or might offend someone. I don’t like to sound judgmental or be a downer. Maybe I should make a resolution for 2015 to just write what I feel I want or need to write and get over all the hemming and hawing about it.

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On that note, I’ll move on to my top five posts. If I’m honest, most of the posts listed above, with the exception of the Santa one probably, are among some of my favorite entries. But, there are several more that were not hugely popular, that are at the top of my mental list of posts that I most enjoyed writing and like to revisit still.

#5 Come Join the Wild for a Moment – A Labor Day Party Recap

This type of post is never going to be terribly popular. I usually get a ton of hits on my Labor Day post right after I put it out there, because everyone in my husband’s huge family wants to see the photos and relive the party again. I love this post and all the memories it contains. And the photos. It’s one of my favorites to revisit.

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#4 Received into Full Communion

This post about my experience of the Easter Vigil last year is another favorite to reread. I don’t want to ever forget what it was like to be baptized, confirmed, and receive first communion with my husband at my side.

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#3 On Prayer and Getting it Right

About how hard it has been for me to learn how to pray and how to teach my children to pray. I really liked writing this post, and it’s something I’m still learning, and still feel uncertain about.

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#2 Adoration and the Kindness of a Stranger

This was one of my favorite posts to write ever. It still makes me cry when I reread it.

#1 Untangling

My Grandma has taught me some amazing lessons in my life. This one was definitely the best. I need to reread this post at least once a month to remember that hour with my Grandma and what I learned from it.

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Are there any of these that you liked? Hated? Which was your favorite??

I’m linking this up with Jenna at Call Her Happy.

A Memorable Weekend in Lots of Photos

We had a truly memorable weekend visiting family. Practically all the things of summer, in two days: Pool time, park time, ice cream, bubbles, a sprinkler, a sand box, squirt guns, pajama parties, movie night, a dance party, a cook out, and on, and on. Plus a moms’ night out.

Our hosts were just wonderful. Here’s a bit of a peek (I mean, a ton of photos):

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My kids kept asking why we weren’t staying for a whole week. They didn’t want to come home.

Five Favorites – Little Moments

My five favorite little moments of this week.

1. Watching the girls play in this tall grass:

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I took the next picture thinking I was going to capture a total “Little House on the Prairie” moment as they were running, slightly downhill, through the grass. Laura and Mary for sure:

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2. Our “Secret, Special Snack” up on the platform of the swing set. They thought this was pretty awesome, and kept talking about all the animals that wouldn’t be able to “get us” or take our snack because we were up so high. My arm wasn’t long enough to get a selfie of all four of us:

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3. My eldest in a nice display of sisterly love and helpfulness.

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4. The other night after I put the girls to bed, I saw several deer right near the house drinking from the pond.

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I could hear that Miss was still awake, so I ran downstairs to get her so she could see them. The first thing she said, when I told her there were deer right by the house and I wanted her to see them was, “I can’t believe I’m up so late!!!!” She giggled like she was getting away with something and ran back up the stairs with me. She said the same thing over and over. “I can’t believe I’m up so late!”

Clearly it was much more exciting to be up out of bed five minutes after I had tucked her in than to see four deer up close.

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5. The fishing tournament weigh-in.

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My husband and our brother-in-law won the tournament.

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The girls kept grabbing his plaque and telling their cousins, “My Dad won this.” The pride in their voices was priceless.

Happy Father’s Day to my BFF.

For more favorites check out Five Favorites at Moxie Wife.

I Wonder if They’ll Remember This?

We are at the Farm this week. We’re wearing ourselves out, and having fun, and doing All The Things.

The other day I went for a ride on Great Big Mable with my older girls.

That’s this thing, if you’re not familiar:

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For some reason, as we were riding along, having a good old time, I got all nostalgic and started thinking, “I wonder if my girls are going to remember these times when they get older…”

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I was thinking about all the trips we take so they can spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and all the fun things we do.

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It got me thinking of my own childhood and my own memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

I had a major walk down memory lane while riding old Mable.

I got to thinking about when I was a kid, playing with cousins, pool parties at my aunt and uncle’s house, family gatherings at my other aunt and uncles house, watching Dukes of Hazard with my cousins at my other aunt and uncle’s house. I remember singing a lot with my Grandma B., rocking in the old chairs on my Grandma and Papa’s front porch, going up north with them. I remember playing in my Grandma C.’s jewelry box, sitting on my Grandpa’s lap naming all my aunts and uncles as I touched each of their birthstones on his tie clip, climbing the tree in their backyard.

I thought about all these things on the Big Mable. And I’ve been thinking about them since. I’ve gone on an extended search of my childhood memories accompanied by lots of thoughts about my own kids.

“Will my girls remember when we did this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Or this?”

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“Will Lass remember finding that cool caterpillar?”

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Some of my own memories are vague. Some are crystal clear.

Sometimes it’s just a sense memory. I remember smells, like my Grandma C.’s chicken cacciatore cooking. Sounds, like my Papa’s laughter. Tastes, like the sharp bitterness of martini (was this vodka? vermouth? I don’t know) on an olive out of my Grandpa’s drink, pancakes made more tasty because Grandma C. poured them in animal shapes, and the extra delicious grilled cheese my Grandma B. made. I can distinctly remember the feeling of rocking in those old rocking chairs on her porch.

I don’t know if I have many memories from when I was four or younger, as my kids are. Maybe a few around 4 or 5 years old. Being a flower girl in a wedding. Getting (accidentally) hit in the face with a baseball bat and needing stitches. Riding a carousel with my Dad.

My girls probably won’t remember much of what we’ve done this trip. They probably won’t remember today clearly. But maybe they’ll remember the smell of the fish they caught with their Dad. The sound of rocks plopping when tossed in the pond. The feel of the water and the sun.

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Who knows? Maybe Miss will remember a sense of some of the things we’ve done this week or this summer. Lass probably won’t and Sis certainly won’t.

It doesn’t really matter I guess, because we’ll keep doing all these things, spending time with family, going to cool places, doing fun activities together, as they grow. And eventually they will be old enough to remember.

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And happily, even if they don’t remember, they’ll know. Because it’s all documented here.

A Wrestling Meet, a Birthday, Some Great-Grandparents, and Disney World

Warning: This post has a lot of photos in it.

I can’t help it. We are on vacation, and in the past week we’ve watched a cousin compete (and win 5th place!) in his HS State Wrestling tournament, had a birthday (and multiple parties), taken a plane ride, visited a great-grandpa and then a great-grandma (in different cities), and gone to Disney World. We’ve been in Iowa and all over the state of Florida. These events and their corresponding photos should have been put into several different posts, but we’ve been adventuring, and I haven’t wanted to stop to take the time to post before now. Here’s a little glimpse of the first half of our vacation.

Last Friday we got to watch part of the Iowa High School State wrestling tournament from a box. It was great for the girls to be able to watch their cousin’s semi-final qualifying match and then play cards or read or color at a table in the box the rest of the time. They really got into the excitement of cheering for their cousin, whose match was very exciting, and the other wrestlers from his team.

On the day we went to the tournament I asked Miss at bedtime, as I do every night, what her favorite part of the day was. She said it was watching her cousin wrestle.

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On Saturday we had a Snow White themed birthday party for this girl who turned four.

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It was a great party, with lots of family and fun, though I kind of spoiled the opening of her one present she has been asking for for weeks. She really wanted a Merida doll and I was so excited to give it to her. I kind of get into the present opening part of a birthday for my little ones, and I love watching their little faces light up and taking pictures as they exclaim over opening just what they wanted. Well, Miss went over and started opening her gifts while I was still feeding her baby sister and tending to Lass after her cupcake. When I realized it, mid-open, I hollered, “Honey, wait! Wait! WAIT!!” She didn’t wait. I didn’t get a photo of her opening the gift. I made an annoyed face at her when she didn’t listen to me. Though I recovered myself and told her “I was sorry for yelling but had wanted to be with her and take her picture while she opened her gift,” the moment was already spoiled. This is the photo I did get of her and her much-anticipated Merida doll. I felt like a total jerk.

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We regrouped though, and she has been enjoying her doll.

Note to self – a photo is never that important.

On Sunday we flew to Florida.

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I got headphones for the girls and packed their backpacks with their Leap Pads and Tag readers, books, puzzle books, coloring books, and crayons in a travel soap box. Lass thought the head phones were quite cool, though she wasn’t exactly sure how (or what) to plug them in.

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The flight was fairly painless. The girls did a great job.

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After we landed we got in our rental minivan and drove.

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First we drove two hours for a quick visit with Great-Grandpa C who lives in a veteran’s home. It was wonderful to see him, as well as my uncle and his wife, though sad to only be able to stay a short time.

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Next we got back in the minivan and drove two more hours to Great- Grandma B’s house. We spent the night and got up Monday morning (Miss’s birthday) to play with all sorts of fun stuff that my Gram had gathered and put out for the girls. Golf balls, plastic food container lids, baskets, and empty egg cartons were only a few of the things she pulled out to entertain my lovies for hours.

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They were in heaven with all the toys, and then she whipped up a “country breakfast” for us, complete with eggs, sausage, biscuits, gravy, and a huge bowl of cut fruit. Yum.

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She had tons of balloons that she blew up for the girls to play with and for Miss’s birthday celebration.

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Great-Grandma had a big to-do for Miss’s actual birthday with pizza and cake and ice cream.

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Baby sis got her first taste of ice cream.

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We really had a wonderful time with my Grandma and my aunt and uncle (who live next door to her). My Gram really went above and beyond for my girls, which meant so much to me.

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We had a too-short visit with her before hitting the road again for two more hours to head to Disney World.

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We checked into our hotel and played for a while before dinner. The “playground” at our resort was pathetic. It consisted of lots of fake rocks and coral and three small slides. The girls had fun sliding and running anyway.

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Then we headed out for a birthday dinner,

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and back in for an early bedtime.

Miss got this “nighttime gown” like Wendy’s from Peter Pan for her birthday. She loves it. I got it from Esty (I love Etsy) here.

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The girls watched the Disney bedtime story on the TV and we went to bed early to get ready for our big day at the Magic Kingdom.

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On Tuesday:

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We did the Magic Kingdom.

Tea Cups (one of my favorites):

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Casey Jones splash pad area, which was clearly the favorite of the girls:

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As an aside, I love these dresses, and so do the girls. They’re another Etsy find. You can get them here. They were perfect for wearing to Disney, and the girls also wore them to Miss’s party on Saturday. They were cool and comfy (I saw lots of little girls in big puffy dress-up dresses who looked hot and uncomfortable), washed up very easily, and my girls can wear them any day. The girls got drenched in them twice and they dried quickly and were no worse for wear.

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It’s a Small World:

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A few other rides, and then it was time for lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

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We had a nice lunch, with excellent food and service. The girls liked seeing the princesses. Each of them said Snow White was her favorite.

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My favorite was Ariel. She really tried to talked to them (though they were a bit shy), rather than just signing her autograph and posing for photos.

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She was even attentive to Sis.

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The girls got magic wands and made wishes during the “Wishing Ceremony.”

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And we had another little birthday celebration (she always plugs her ears during the Happy Birthday song!).

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Afterwards, all they really wanted to do was to go back to the splash pad. So we did that for a while, got a few souvenirs, and hit the road.

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It was only 3 when we took the ferry back to the parking lot, but the girls were totally worn out.

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I have to say, I was pitifully unprepared for all the little tricks of the Disney park experience. I had done a bit of Pinning, read up on a few things, and gotten a couple of apps on my phone, but was totally crushed by the huge crowds and immensity that is the Magic Kingdom. It was extremely crowded, which made it all the more overwhelming. In about five and a half hours we went on four rides (Prince Charming’s Magic Carousel, Dumbo, Mad Hatter, and Small World), played in the water, had lunch with the princesses, and picked out a few souvenirs. The rest of the time was spent wandering around trying to figure out where to get fast passes (most of them were not located right outside their rides, which seemed quite stupid to me), trying to find the rides that we wanted, or waiting in line. We got one fast pass for the Little Mermaid ride but then just missed our window to ride it while we were having lunch with the princesses. We never even made it out of Fantasyland! I learned a lot though and will be much better prepared next time.

One of the highlights of the Disney day for me was that we ran into some friends of ours from when we lived in North Carolina. We haven’t seen them in almost five years, and yet there they were, shuffling along next to us in the crush to get through the entrance to the park. I’m still marveling that we saw them at Disney World, of all places. How likely is it to “run into” someone on a busy day at the Magic Kingdom? Amazing, but we did. And it was so fun to see them, even if it was only for a few minutes as we were herded through security.

For the past two days we’ve been relaxing at my in law’s house. Lass, Sis, and I all have yucky colds (which means unfortunately we can’t visit some of my friends we had planned to see while we’re here, because one of them can’t be around sick people). We’re still enjoying the warmth and soaking in the Vitamin D. Eventually I’ll post about the rest of our adventures. Tomorrow we’re going to the beach. Saturday we’re going home.

“Vacation” isn’t relaxing anymore since having little ones. But it is so much more fun.

 

 

All That I Hoped It Would Be

I have always tried my best to be a thoughtful gift-giver, and now that I have kids, my investment in giving good gifts has increased exponentially. I want them to love the gifts. I want their gifts to encourage lots of creative play. I want their gifts to be sturdy. I want their gifts to not be obnoxious. I have a lot to think about when choosing the gifts for my children for Christmas. Quality, not quantity.

More than the gifts, I really want my kids to get a lot out of the whole experience of Christmas. Putting up the Christmas tree, singing carols, going to see Santa, baking cookies, spending time with family, doing all the traditional things that bring such warm memories to my mind from my own childhood. We’ve had a great time doing these things the past few weeks.

For me Christmas morning is the culmination of all the holiday doings. It’s the time when all the build up about Santa and his magic comes to fruition.

On Christmas morning, I want my kids to be bursting with excitement and all the pure wonder that only children can express.

This year, Christmas morning was all that I hoped it would be.

It was waking up early with this little one and waiting for her sisters to come down while starting breakfast preparations.

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It was finally hearing the big girls stirring upstairs and hearing their giddy anticipation as they rushed to see what Santa left for them, watching them search for the one thing they really, really wanted (The Big Snow White!), and then seeing the pure, childish joy when they found it.

 

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It was watching and hearing them play with their Santa gifts while I finished making breakfast. What a joyful sound.

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It was finally making creamed eggs (Miss called them “egg nugget” for some reason!) by myself without needing to call my mom for her “recipe.” I’ve never written down the instructions she has given me so many times over the years, though I say to myself that I will every time. I call her twice a year (on Christmas and Easter) to ask how to make creamed eggs and have been doing so since at least 2003. This year, I finally just did it myself. With Charlie Brown Christmas playing in the background, I made my roux, added my milk, salted and peppered, and stirred in my chopped hard-boiled eggs all by myself. I felt like such a big girl. My 3 year old did help, though. She told me I needed more salt.

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It was the madness of opening the rest of the presents under the tree after breakfast.

It was loving watching my big girls’ different approaches to this process, with Miss tearing open every present that had her name on it, barely stopping in between to look at what she had just revealed, and Lass stopping to play for a while with each toy as she unwrapped it and leisurely making her way around to open each of her gifts.

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It was seeing my older girls, surrounded by all their new toys, choosing to sit and read for a while.

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It was taking a little bit of time myself to explore the wonderful new books on cooking my husband gave me – “The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef’s Craft for Every Kitchen,” “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking,” and “Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cook’s Manifesto” all by Michael Ruhlman, all Awe. Some.

It was all of these things and more.

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It was joyous. It was magical.

I really think I love Christmas and Santa even more through the eyes of my children than I did when I was little myself.

 

 

Joy

This time of year always makes me so sentimental. It makes me think of family. Holidays past. Traditions.

I think tradition is really the key to my nostalgia at this time of year. There are certain traditions that my family followed every year during the holidays that I remember so well and feel so happy to replicate with my kids.

I have wonderful memories of lots of family time at Thanksgiving.

This year, for the first time since my kids were born, we got to spend Thanksgiving with extended family. It was great fun.

The girls had lots of fun with their many, many cousins on my husband’s side of the family  (there are so many kids my in-laws put carpet in their garage to make a big space for them to run and play inside).

They were playing some sort of football game. You can see how my girls look up to their older cousins.

Lass had no concept of the game being played. She mostly just wandered through the older kids, who were running and jumping and tackling and yelling all around her, singing and hugging this ball. It’s amazing (and a testament to her cousins’ consideration) that she never once got trampled, or even bumped!

This little one enjoyed hanging out with her Daddy and watching her sisters and cousins.

Thanksgiving dinner was eaten around a table set with my husband’s grandmother’s china and linens. The girls sat at the kid’s table, which is such a memory-laden rite of passage for every childhood in itself, and the adults crammed around the grown up table.

There was much laughter her about the fact that we were so squished around this table we could barely maneuver forks to mouths. Heaven forbid anyone needed to use a knife. It was a great meal in great company. Family.

When I see photos like these I can’t help but fast forward thirty or so years and imagine the memories my girls will have of our holidays and traditions. I want them to remember these feelings, whether they remember the specific instances or not.

Comfort.

Coziness.

Closeness.

I want them to remember time with family. That family was always placed at the top of our list of priorities. That they were always, always valued and loved by many.

I want them to have awesome auntie memories like I have.

I am so thankful we got to be with family for one of my favorite holidays this year.

When we got home, we moved right into one of my favorite traditions – decorating the Christmas tree. With Johnny Mathis Christmas music playing in the background of course.

There are few things more evocative of holiday memories and joy for me than decorating the tree. It’s an exercise in holding history and tradition in my hands with each ornament I put on the tree. Almost every ornament has a story. I have ornaments that belonged to my grandmas, that were made by my grandmas and great-grandmas, that were given to me by my Auntie, that were made by my mom and graced the tree in my house when I was a little girl, and so on. Of course I’m now adding the ornaments that belong to my girls. A new tradition in my little family (which I got from my Auntie) is that I give the girls each a special ornament each Christmas, trying to make it representative of something special that they did or experienced in the past year.

The first ornament put on the tree this year by each of my older girls was their “First Christmas” rocking horse. These are engraved with their names and the year.

They then proceeded with the rest of their individual ornaments and then helped me put all the non-breakable ornaments on the lower section of the tree.

 

The finished product:

For some reason the tree is leaning a bit this year. I don’t even care. I love our tree. It might even be a bit weird how much I love our tree. This thing is a big green, sparkly monument to my life, my family, and my history. It, and the process of creating it with my girls, bring me joy.

 

Sewing Past and Present

Miss has really been into sewing for the past couple of weeks. A few days before we left to come to my parent’s house, she said she wanted to get a “Princess Starglow” (yellow star-shaped princess character from a Care Bear movie) and asked if she could use her allowance that she has been saving to buy one. I told her I wasn’t sure if we could buy a Princess Starglow, and looked on the computer with her to see if anyone sold one. No one does. So she asked, “Can we make one?” Well. Okay.

I told her we could. She initially asked to make one with yarn. I told her it might work better to sew one. We made a special trip to Hobby Lobby to get some shiny material. I drew a pattern and traced it on the fabric. I was all set to get it ready to sew, and excited for her to have her first experience with my sewing machine. She looked at it and said, “No Mommy, I want a small Princess Starglow.” Apparently the pattern I made was too big. My girls seem to have a strong affinity for pocket-sized toys and dolls. I should have known.

When she protested the Princess Starglow I had started making it was just a day or two before we left for this trip. So I put the Princess Starglow makings out of sight and put the project on hold until we get home.

She’s been fine with that, but has still had “sewing” on her mind. Today, my mom got the girls to “sew” on some leaf-shaped lacing cards. Miss saw some light blue yarn and asked me to sew a Cinderella Dress out of it. I told her I couldn’t really do that with the yarn. She didn’t understand, since we hadn’t actually gotten to the sewing step in the Princess Starglow project, so she said, “But you could try, Mommy.” Oh boy. I can’t say no to that. I agreed that I could.

Before I got a chance to test my Fairy Godmother skills, my mom brought out something that took my back to the very beginning of my own sewing journey.

I started making this quilt when I was about five years old (that’s over 30 years ago, folks). My mom cut the squares from scraps and traced hearts on each of them for me to quilt.

I worked on it off and on for many (roughly 20) years. Some of the stitches are huge and very wobbly.

Funnily, I was just wondering about this quilt this morning when Miss was asking me about sewing. I haven’t seen it in at least a decade. It was awesome to see it again.

I have finished 19 of 35 squares.

Today I talked to my girls about us finishing the rest of it together. They were really into the idea. Lass repeatedly said, “Yes! We do it togevah (together)!” I think it must have been meant-to-be that I didn’t finish this as a girl. It will be so much better for me to finish it with them.

So, back to the Cinderella dress. I had no fabric. Just blue yarn. I cut the bottom off of a paper towel roll. Shaped it into sleeves. Wrapped the yarn around.

Miss was really excited about it. She loved it. She showed it to my husband. He said, “Oh cool, it’s Toodee!”

 

Toodee?!

C’mon! Really?

You can see it, right?

All that really matters I guess is that Miss loves it. Now she wants me to “sew” her a Cinderella to go in the dress. I’ve created a monster… .