Thursday, December 20, 2012

Landrie's Pizza Party

Last night I was flipping between The X Factor and Katie Couric's 2012 PEOPLE Review, or whatever it was called. It started out with celebrity, pop culture stuff. I kept switching back and forth and when I turned it back I could not stop crying. It was all the tragedy of 2012. Natural disasters, mass murders, you get it. I had forgotten all that happened this past year. I'm not one to get down or feel afraid, but this past week has done a number on me. I had to say a very specific prayer last night because I don't want to live in fear. The special went on the talk about the heroes that arise in the midst of crisis. People are resilient and live moves forward. I'm not depressed in my house with the shades drawn, but this past shooting has taken away my faith in people. I'm usually very trusting and laid back. Not so much anymore.

Yet I woke up this morning and it's a new day. In spite of all the yuck this week, there was also so much good. So that's what I'm going to focus on. My eyes opened to Ella yelling, 'There's the elf! I see him behind the train! Maxwell COME LOOK!' Next they pulled me to our advent countdown on the chalkboard. 'Look Mommy, cross out today, only five more days til Christmas!' If that doesn't snap you out of a mood, I don't know what will.

We celebrated our friend Landrie's birthday this week. My friend Amy hosted a pizza party where the kid's became chefs and decorated their own hats and made pizzas. It was so cute and fun! If you're looking for a party idea, this was a hit. Check out the cute little aprons Amy made, dollar store towels with ribbon on top.

The birthday girl and her cousins

Our friends. We LOVE Landrie and Amy.

Such a fun idea, right?

Note the pink bandana. It's been Ella's must have accessory to most outfits. Silly girl.

Fine cuisine waiting to go in the oven.

Dinner was followed by a super fun Grandma with impromptu party games. Out came a bag for limbo, a yoga mat for gymnastics,  and an iphone for an epic dance party.

Oh, and a Daddy for a round of arm wrestling.

We are trying to get Landrie into fishing with us :) Notice Ella fading...

...and she's done.

It's Thursday, Mike will be home tonight...yay :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Aunt Dido passed away last night. Her life was too short and I'm so sorry for my Uncle Johnny's loss. I remember when they first met and noticing Dido's beautiful laugh and obvious love she had for my Uncle.

I pray for a new beginning for Uncle Johnny. I have the best memories of him as a kind, strong, smart, and hilarious man.  I love you Uncle Johnny. I'm so sorry for your pain.

My Aunt's and Uncles, Great Great Grandma. Uncle Johnny on the top far left, my Mom on the top right


Uncle Johnny and my Grandma

Me and him, my high school years

Uncle Johnny and Dido

May you rest in peace Dido.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Heavy Heart

These aren't words that haven't been being spoken, written or felt about this. But my heart is so heavy right now. They talk about survivor's guilt, I get that. The shooting makes me hurt on so many levels. The greatest is the empathy I have as a mother. This is our greatest fear- the horrific act taking our children's innocence. I've been thinking about this lately, even before Newtown- about my two growing up and starting school. I hint about how I'm not ready to go back to work but what I really feel is I'm not ready to let them go. I imagine it might have something to do with them being my only ones. Two at once. I assume if I had another, or others, younger than these two wouldn't seem so little. But they will always be my only, my babies.

 I don't actually believe hiding them from the world is protecting them, it just sounds simpler that way, safer. All day, it's just the three of us until we yell 'Daddy's home!' at night. I know tragedy/shootings, can happen anywhere and while my kids are with me. I just don't picture it happening at the children's museum, Target, or the park. But then who pictures it happening at school?

We had a busy weekend and I really haven't read or watched much of the coverage. We got home Sunday afternoon and I went to the computer. Mike walked in on me crying and I knew the kids would come in soon after. I had just read the story of Noah, whom you may be familiar with. He has a twin sister and another sister just a few years older. He was killed Friday. They survived. Max and Ella. A twin sister! What if? What if? What if?

But it wasn't ours. So we're left to remember these babies and teachers and honor those families who are suffering. 'I'm sorry,' my heart whispers for them. 'I'm so, so sorry!'

I also think about what this would be like for me as a professional. In my career, I was a school counselor. I counseled grieving students who lost parents, friends, classmates. But not on this level. I pray for this district, specifically for their school counselors and psychologists. I believe there are heroes offering hope and comfort to those hurting. I pray for the school faculty and staff as they find strength to go on through Christmas and eventually return to their schools.

Yesterday I also learned that sweet Daisy Love Merrick, our sweet local girl who has been battling cancer for years is back in the hospital with inoperable tumors, yet again. 'It's not fair!' I told Mike. Again I feel survivors guilt, why do we have it so easy?

Then mommy guilt. There have been so many times the past few days that I've been too short with my kids. I've been irritated or distracted, then overcome with emotion because what am I doing? My babies are here, healthy and safe! Hold them close! Encourage them, love them!  But life goes on. Only it doesn't feel right. So I pretend I'm a parent calling my office (when I had one). What guidance would I offer families? Then I try to live it.

Saturday Mike and I had his work Christmas party. The kids stayed overnight with my parents and we had an overnight in a gorgeous hotel on the beach (of course no kids, no camera). It was rainy and cold but we enjoyed a quiet day to ourselves. It was really nice. The next day we picked them up and took them to see Santa. But all the time I was anxious and a little uneasy. How does life just go on? I was in high school when Columbine happened and although it was upsetting, it didn't make me feel unsafe. Because I wasn't a mother. But today I'm rattled, and I'm praying to feel safe.

This morning I got an email that my Aunt is in the hospital. From what I understand her condition is not stable and she's not well. Lord, be with Dido, be with Uncle Johnny. Please take care of them, take their hurt away. 

So I ask again, how do we just go on? Because we have hope. We have to. Maxwell and Ella are looking to me to give it to them. Right now I have nowhere to look but up. God, give me the hope I'm talking about. Let it come from within, so we can share it with others. Protect us, keep us safe. 

Hugs to all you mothers who have encouraged me and supported to me through this silly blog the past five years.

Here was our annual trip to see Santa. Because I'm sensitive right now, everything's exaggerated  This was another blow for me. The past four years we have had the same Santa. A sweet, old man with a real beard. Then on Sunday there was this guy. I think I've said to Mike four times how crushed I was that 'our Santa' wasn't there.

'Do you think he died Mike?' 

His beard was definitely bought and paid for.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Ella, Again

As I mentioned in my last post, 'nap time' means Maxwell usually naps (sometimes) and Ella has quiet time. This is my time to have to myself. I fold laundry, read blogs, do something mindless. But lately I've been drawn to Ella's room. It's rare that I have time with just one of my twins. And as much as I just want to be alone with myself, sometimes it's better to be alone with them. In this case, two posts in a row, to be with Ella.

When I opened her door and found this beautiful mess, I tucked this moment in my heart. Sometimes I make myself put the camera down, but today I wanted every detail. The sweetness of her voice, the innocence in her questions, "Mom, when I grow up I can be a real princess, right?" The waves in her hair, the round of her tummy. My babies are growing and it feels like this season of life is changing. It's been just Mike and I, and Max and Ella. And soon they'll be ready for the rest of the world. School, sports, work for It'll be good- for all of us.

But this has been so good. God gave me the desire of my heart. I got to be a Mama after I couldn't get pregnant. I got to stay home with them. And now there's this panic in my heart that it's ending. But I know better than that, every stage has been better than the last. I'm just not ready for change.

Our girl, The Super Hero Princess.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Best Part of My Day

Maxwell still naps...sometimes. Ella, not so much. But she's pretty good about having quiet time in her room. I heard her singing in her bed today and I had to come in. She has such a sweet voice, her singing was the best part of my day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tablet For Kids?

I want to get the kids some sort of tablet for Christmas.That's their main gift. I initially thought we'd get the Leap Pad 2 but the games are so expensive. I'm wondering if it would be worth getting a cheaper tablet that can be online to download apps and games for free. This way they could also do Nick Jr or Disney Jr online...YouTube Mike The Knight when I want them to be quiet (most of tablets I've looked at have parental controls for the Internet, as in you can actually plug in the few websites that they can go to). I've reviewed every possible kid tablet. In fact I've read so many reviews that I'm totally confused. The Meep, The Kurio, The Nabi, The Tabeo...on and on. So I go back to the Leap Pad, which is totally simple. But once I were to buy the case and games it would be the same price as buying something like a Kindle Fire-without any of the perks of the web. But I'd need a super rubbery protective case that's kid proof.

Many of the reviews I've read say kids don't need these, they need to run and play outside and use crayons inside. My kids do a lot of that too. I'm all about moderation and balance. So I have no problem with my kids watching TV or using technology. Maxwell and Ella LOVE using my Mom and my mother in laws ipads. They learn a ton with math, shapes, letters, etc.

Do any of you Moms have specific recommendations about the Leap Pad or any tablet? Any personal experience with your kids using them?


Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Traditions

This past week I've been especially aware of my part in shaping our kid's memories. It's up to Mike and I to teach them what Christmas is about. Honestly, I've had to be really intentional about not just talking about Santa. I want them to know about Jesus' birth and the spirit of giving, but Santa's everywhere and it's been easy to explain. We have a few nativity scenes they play with so they have a reminder, but most of our Christmas music and books are all about presents and Santa. Which I'm not saying is a bad thing, I just want to remember not to make that the only part of Christmas.

Our excitement is contagious to them and they are at such a sweet age that they just accept all the magic, no questions asked. I was hesitant to pull out our Elf On The Shelf because I didn't know how to explain the silly thing, thank goodness for the book. Part of me was prepared for them to question and doubt, but they're only three. And they loved it. We had a fun weekend carrying on our  family Christmas traditions.

It's been  raining for days (don't roll your eyes Hill), but we ventured out into the wet anyway. And somehow, on our thirty minute outing to cut down our tree the sky stopped for us. This was the first year since I've known Mike that Maeg wasn't with us to cut the tree down...sorry Maegann! You were missed.


The Elf On The Shelf rang our doorbell Sunday morning. Fun 'special delivery' free printable for all things from the North Pole found here

Maxwell and Ella named him Dasher. Until later that day when they decided that he was a she and her name was Prancer. Poor Ella was dying to hold her. But the book says kids can't hold the Elf or the magic will wear off. Maybe so they don't lose it or fight over it. When I read her that her eyes got big and she was OK. The conversations I've overheard between Max and Ella have been hilarious. They get the concept of the Elf watching their behavior. Maxwell called Ella a 'beety butt.' I don't know what that is, but it's a common insult between the kids. I always correct them saying that the word butt is not nice. Ella told Maxwell that Prancer the Elf heard him and Maxwell quickly back peddled and stood in front of Prancer, but pretended not to look at her, and said to Ella, "No Ella, what I meant was don't fall on your beety butt because it would hurt and I'm your best friend and I don't want you to get hurt." Uh uh. Clever little fellow.
Mike set up the train with the kids. This was Mike's when he was a boy. It's a really cool antique train with steel tracks.


And last night, carrying on with the train theme, we watched the Polar Express. They didn't remember it from last year and they had soooo many questions. Actually, Ella had so many questions. Maxwell only piped in every once in awhile to say, "This parts not scary, right Mom?" Which means he was almost feeling scared. But they liked it.

When I say that we watched it, what I mean was I started watching it with them but then ran back and forth between the living room with the kids and our bedroom where Mike and I watched the season Finale of Boardwalk Empire, my favorite show. Thank goodness for pause of the DVR. 

And the weekend ended with sweet dreams. We went to my parents on Saturday and my Mom found an old stuffed reindeer of mine for Ella. You know how there are some things from your childhood that you can totally remember? This reindeer is one of them. When I picked her up to show Ella it brought me way back and I can actually remember cuddling and loving it. Like Ella does now.

It's been days since our trees been up but it only has two ornaments on it so far. It's been kind of fun dragging everything out. I guess that's why we did it so early, so we can enjoy it all month.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ella's Big Girl Room

I've been wanting to post pictures of Ella's room for awhile now, but I was waiting for it to be 100% done. We are still working on creating a cushion and pillows for her window seat (it's huge!), we need to switch her dresser with a taller, white dresser in Maxwell's room, and my mother in law is making some beautiful lace balls to hang with the poms she did in the bay window. But it's a lazy, rainy day so I'm posting the room as is.

I use a Canon Powershot, a simple point and shoot, but something is funky with the setting because all my pictures are coming out really grainy and kind of blurry?

 Click here for the 'before pictures'

Ella's Big Girl Room...

Paint- Sherwin Williams Front Porch, it's really pretty pale gray

This was the big window seat I got Mike to build. He did such a good job, this puppy is huge! See how we can tuck all her junk  treasures underneath? We lost floor space but Ella spends lots of time playing on top. This has become her favorite spot to play dollhouse. It will be super comfy once we finish the cushion.

The bed frame is a Craigslist find from Gma Judie, painted white.

Little details...
An old window painted white and embellished with liquid chalk. We can draw and erase. She's really into Tinkerbell right now so we've got a quote from Peter Pan. 

I love this wall. My mother in law had these old frames for me. They were spray painted an antiqued white. The prints were either etsy or free printables via pinterest. 

Ella's bedding is my favorite part. I found it two summer's ago and tucked it away for her big girl room. Target's Rachel Ashwell shabby chic bedding.

My girl popping in to ask me why I'm taking pictures in her room.

Craigslist night stand.

Cuite pie.

Favorite, faithful horse.

Fabric bunting, etsy, here.

Free vintage printable via pinterest, here

Other etsy prints found, here, here, and here

I wasn't ready to tuck this suit away. I used hot glue over fabric in a frame and displayed it over a photo of Ella wearing the same suit at the beach.

That's it! Wish my camera wasn't so blurry.