Monday, June 22, 2009

fun photos

She dressed herself that day

happy little chubster

Maddie couldn't wait to help KK with her bottle

look who can grab onto things!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

happy dada day!

Happy Father's Day!

To my sweet husband, the most amazing father I know: You are sweet, loving, kind, fun, affectionate, creative, and zany. Maddie and Samuel (and me) are so lucky to have you! Every day you wake up to a sweet little face staring back at you, either from in the bed or out, and it never ceases to make you smile. The way you look at your little girl melts my heart; there is no question that she is one hundred percent adored by her Dada. In her mind, there is no more perfect play partner. She is constantly engaging you when you are home and asking for you when you are away. She delights in how you delight in her. It is clear from how she acts around you that she not only knows she is loved, but that someone also thinks she is funny and clever and interesting. I had a Daddy who loved me, and it is the best gift you can give your child, so I thank you.

Samuel is now getting to the stage where he has started looking for you and turning toward your voice. Your loud and boisterous laugh is one of the few things that can rouse him from slumber or distract him from his business. Just last night as I changed his clothes before bed, he smiled and became excited at the sound of you laughing with Maddie next door. I cannot wait to see how your relationship with your son develops. Oh, the joys that await the Joyce boys! I see lots of climbing, wrestling, boogie boarding, fishing and talking in your future! Your delight in your son is also amazing to behold, and he will no doubt be grateful one day for a Dad with such integrity, love and strength of character.

To my own Dad: When I think of growing up with you as my father, I have nothing but fond memories. You were and still are one of the most fun, funny, crazy, loving and tender men I know. You love your wife with such selflessness and your children and grandchildren with a spirit of grace and strength in meekness. Behind your gentle exterior is a strength not found in most men. 

I delight in seeing you as a Papa to my children and my brother's children. To each of them, you are not only a great big huggable love but a jungle gym, always ready to play. Grace, Lizzie, Maddie, Elijah and Samuel are crazy about you and with good reason. You are so easy to love. You embody Christ's self-sacrificing love and are an example to everyone around you. I love you so much!

To Mike, my father-in-law: The things you do for Maddie speak volumes of your love for her. I think of the countless hours you've spent with her on your shoulders, steering you by your ears, to the "balancing" acts on the living room floor, to the liberal application of lip gloss on your lips and the surrounding skin--all in the name of love for one small, spectacular girl. I love that you are game for anything she asks, as long as she is happy.

Thank you for raising a son who seeks truth and who is interested in learning as much as he can about the world around him. He and you are similar in all the best ways: intelligent, curious, fun, adventurous. Some of our best adventures (and closest encounters) have come from following the lead of you and your son, and these are memories I treasure and things I hope for my own kids.

Ben, thanks for making me a Mama. I treasure this role every day. I'm so proud of you who are as a Dad and look forward to the way your kids will look up to you and seek to make you proud as they grow. More than that, I am grateful to God for the example you set and already we are seeing the fruits of your spiritual direction in Maddie's life as she asks to read her "Bible storybook" with you each night before bed. She already knows how happy it makes you to talk about God together and she is so blessed to have you teaching her each night.

To my favorite dads, I love you all! Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

29 Months: Maddie

Dear Madeleine,

We've been hearing a lot more of your full name these days as you test and try us with your increasing independence. But it is an inevitable part of growing up, which you are doing at an alarming rate, faster than we would like. Long gone are the toddler days and we find ourselves staring, laughing, gasping and shaking our heads incredulously at just how much of a person you truly are.

Not that independence is all that bad. In the past few months, you've astounded us with new skills and abilities that include getting yourself dressed and undressed (even the socks, right side up!), throwing things away, clearing your dishes from the table and peeing and pooping in the potty. Just last night at a friend's house you disappeared for several minutes and your Dad found you naked from the waist down doing your business on their upstairs toilet. Nice work, little one! You seem to enjoy and prefer doing said things in other bathrooms beside our own, but we don't mind. We're just grateful you are basically potty-training yourself.

You are a tremendous help with your baby brother. Aside from Mama, you are perhaps his favorite person to talk to. He will stare at you, talk to you, and smile at you in order to get your attention. He lights up when you come near and will quiet down if you talk and sing to him. Just the other day he was hungry and fussy but once Daddy laid him next to you in our big bed, he started smiling and cooing and was quite happy just to snuggle with his big sis. It makes our hearts so warm to see the friendship that is developing. We know that the more he grows, the more you will enjoy all he has to offer, and we can't wait to see you two playing together.

You continue to be incredibly smart, so smart it is crazy at times. You have the capacity to remember the smallest, most mundane of details and regurgitate them later. You understand concepts that are well beyond your age and your sense of humor is absolutely amazing. Lately you've taken to substituting funny words as you sing songs, without skipping a beat. "There was a farmer had a dog and SAMUEL was his name-o!" "Farmer in the dell, farmer in the dell, high-ho-the-dairy-0, farmer in the BAND-AID!" Because you are such an enthusiastic learner, I can't wait for school to start in the Fall. You will delight in learning new concepts, meeting new friends and I'm sure by this time next year you will be asking "When do I go back to school?"

You love music, and singing and dancing is a significant activity each day in our home. Mama and Daddy watched "So You Think You Can Dance" this week and you were entranced by the beautiful dancers. You twirled and spun and asked your Daddy to be "the man" and help you to do a "grand jete" (thank you, Toot and Puddle). Your face as your Daddy lifted you high in the air was absolutely beautiful and will be forever imprinted in my mind. You splayed your legs out and pointed your toes and I think I held my breath until you were back on the ground. 

You continue to be ever social, friendly and outgoing; every group of children, whether at the beach, park or farmer's market is a handful of "friends" you have yet to meet. Older girls are a particular draw and you will approach with confidence, stand on the outside of their circle and observe for a few minutes before asking a question or commenting on the subject at hand. Your manners are improving each day and you will now say, "excuse me," to interject in a conversation. Most of the time you just want to be part of what is going on and when you ask to make a comment it is, "I love you." Too cute. Just yesterday I was pushing our behemoth of a double jogger down the path when a man approached, walking toward us. Before I could say anything, you remarked with perfect courtesy, "Excuse us please." He was quite amused and I was glowing with pride.

As difficult as the days can be sometimes, when I get to the 14th of each month the moments that stand out are not the times where I felt overwhelmed or inadequate as a parent, but rather those instances where you shined, where you took my breath away, or when my heart was gladdened. I guess this is what being a parent is all about, and I thank you for teaching me to savor all the moments because in the end what stands out is the remarkable, lovable, incredible person that you are. I love you.


Friday, June 12, 2009

who's the smiliest little boy?

Sam and I were having our own private little love fest this morning. He was so smiley and lovey and full of joy! I couldn't keep the cuteness all to myself, now could I?

I get to see this face multiple times a day, the wide-mouth smile that makes me just want to eat him up! Enjoy my sweet, kissable boy!

ahhh, a full night's sleep

Samuel slept through the night two consecutive days, 11-plus hours each time! Hooray!

I can't believe how good I feel after sleeping a full night. It's been a looong time. :)

Monday, June 08, 2009

3 Months: Samuel

Dear Sam,

My sweet little cuddle bug, you are just so much fun these days. Your personality is coming more and more alive as you leave behind the newborn days and morph into a full-blown baby. You are alert and interested in the world around you. You love to move! You are constantly going, moving your hands, scooting on your back, or flailing all four limbs in little movements when you get excited.

You love your big sister. Aside from Mama, she is pretty much the best thing you've got these days. It takes a simple look or comment from your sister and you are all smiles. You love to make eye contact with Maddie, "talk" to her, and follow her around the room with those wide eyes.

You continue to be a bruiser, weighing in at over 15 1/2 pounds. It helps that you love to eat! Your little body has totally filled out and all of those round little bits are perfect for smooching. You have discovered your hands and it is delightful to watch you follow your fists around, clasp your hands together, and bat at things. 

Your smile is infectious. Your sister, as a baby, would smile with her eyes in the shape of two little moons. But when you smile, your whole face lights up and your cheeks spread out into two round, impossibly sweet and kissable spots on the side of a wide, warm grin. It is when you smile so big that I think you look most like your dad. You are constantly catching my eye throughout the day and that shooting me that delicious smile. I love it!

This week we returned from your first Hawaiian vacation. You were a star, of course! Everyone was amazed at how mellow and sweet you are, ALL THE TIME. You rarely cry except when hungry or tired and even then your cries are more like little protestations. You go with the flow and are just as happy chilling in your carseat as you are passed out on a blanket on the grass. It it so easy to take you places, and when you are asleep we almost forget that you are there! (This is very handy on dates!)

This month marks a new chapter for you and your dad, as you just light up when he comes into view. He came home from work one day, leaned over your play mat, and your whole body started wiggling and you gave him the biggest smile and coo as if to say, "Welcome home, Daddy. I'm so pleased to see you!" It is fun to see you interacting with your little family, smiling and cooing and making yourself more lovable each day.

Hawaii threw our schedule off a bit, but for the most part you are getting up just once a night, sleeping two 6-8 hour stretches on either side. So often I just fall asleep in bed as you nurse that I lose track of what time it is and when I wake you are snuggled up against me, quiet and content. I love to snuggle with your head pressed under my chin, cheeks against my chest, and you never seem to complain about the cuddle time I so crave.

We can't wait to see the little boy and man you will become. You already have won our hearts with your easygoing personality, sweet face, happy disposition and adorable smile. We are crazy about you, little man!



Friday, June 05, 2009

aloha and mahalo, Kauai!

We just returned this morning from the sunny beaches of Kauai. It was hard to leave the garden isle but here we are, back at home in California. There are too many highlights to list now, as I am tired--deliriously tired--and am off to bed soon. For now, enjoy these pictures from our trip!

The four of us on our last night

We could walk to the beach in our jammies. Yum.

Our little bathing beauty
(Despite wearing 70 SPF every day, still ended up darker than most of us!)

the handsomest little guy ever

Mama & Maddie watching hula
(humidity makes our hair even curlier!)

smooching my boy on the lanai
we did a lot of chilling on the beach

playing in the sand

Daddy snuggles

Some highlights: chichis and pupus on the beach, grilling fresh fish, snorkeling, boogie boarding, splashing in the waves with the kiddos, movie nights for the kiddos and date nights for the parents, breakfast at the Grand Hyatt, hula shows, hiking up Kalalau trail for some pretty views, getting yelled at for going outside the reef in large-wave conditions (ask me to tell you the story sometime), playing in the sand, Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls, plate lunches--pork laulau and ahi with wasabi cream, fish tacos, cocktail hour(s), lunch date with Kelly, guys' mornings out on the waves, sipping Kauai and Kona coffee, sleeping in (Maddie and Sam made it past 7 a few mornings!), and chilling, chilling, chilling.

Can't wait to go back!