Saturday, January 29, 2011

25 things you should know about me if we're going to be friends

1. I have a crazy amount of music memorized and will break into song at any given moment when the situation or conversation closely resembles any of the songs in my head. (Also: I totally wish they'd create "Musical Land," a theme park where actors and singers break into song)
2. I always joke that my house is about 10 minutes away from clean. I'm not a super neat person but I like to keep things fairly respectable. If you mention you're coming by, I'll run around like a crazy person for ten or so minutes, picking up, straightening, and hiding things in my laundry room.
3. I planned our entire wedding on a budget of less than $6000. We made our own food, decorations, invitations, centerpieces, programs, bridesmaid/groomsmen gifts, and did not have favors. I wouldn't change a thing. It's still the prettiest, most fun wedding I've ever attended.

4. I am a weird number savant. I remember phone numbers, count letters of words, and count things in threes, fours and fives to see if they even out. I used to be a real number/counting freak but have backed off a lot since having kids, and the subsequent turning of my brain into mush.
5. My least favorite body part is my thigh region. I've always had large, muscular legs and when I stopped playing sports they stayed large but not so muscular. :)
6. Ben and I did not watch TV until our first child was born. We owned a TV and occasionally hooked it up in order to watch breaking news, such as on 9/11, but for the most part we only watched movies and not cable for about 6 years. Now we watch way too much TV. My favorites are So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef, Project Runway, and LOST. I was kind of a freak about LOST and now it is over and I am back to normal. Sort of.
7. I have colitis and follow a really weird diet. I don't eat bread, sugar, potatoes, corn, processed meat or cheese, milk, or canned vegetables. I don't chew gum. I don't drink coffee, though at once I was a serious addict. I do eat lots of fruit, cheese, nuts, salad and protein. And I make my own yogurt with whole milk and whipping cream. It is delicious.
8. Approximately three months after getting my iPhone 4, I dropped it on the garage floor and shattered the screen. It still works and I will most likely operate it in said condition until it stops working or my 2 year contract runs out.
9. I have a habit of abandoning hobbies. In the past, I have spent serious amounts of time doing the following: knitting, making cards/stationery, quilting, writing poetry, collecting and making things out of vintage handkerchiefs, and scrapbooking. I have not done any of these things recently.
10. I HATE cleaning the shower. I avoid it. Until I can no longer ignore the pink stains and black mold growing near the sliding doors.
11. Cheese is my favorite food. I could eat Fromage D'Affinois the rest of my life and never grow tired of it. Add a roquefort, aged gouda, sharp cheddar, and apple slices and I'm in heaven.
12. My hair turned wavy after having my first child. It used to be stick straight but now it takes serious effort to blow it out. In Hawaii or humid climates, it is crazy wavy.

13. I go to bed most nights between 9 and 9:30. I like to sleep 8 1/2-9 1/2 hours a night.
14. Danville women intimidate me and I often go out of my way to keep things real by refusing to get all decked out when I, a) workout, b) go grocery shopping, and, c) drop off and pick up my daughter from school.
15. I am not good at small talk and conversation. I'd rather be quiet and listen to conversations that are already happening. It's not that I don't like you, it's just that I'm awkward at first.
16. I want my kids to think of me as loving, fun, approachable and dependable.

17. I don't like to have my picture taken. That said, my favorite photos of all time are ones in which I am laughing.
18. When I was about 8, I was giving a young friend a horsey ride on my hands and knees when I fell face-first on the linoleum, breaking off part of my right front tooth and severely cracking the other one. They are still cracked, partially fixed, and one of the reasons I don't like having my picture taken.

19. I wish that I lived closer to my family. It makes me very sad that we don't get to see each other as often as we wish.
20. I've never broken a bone, but I have had stitches once, in the back of my head. I also have loads and loads of scars from various childhood accidents involving barbed wire, bike wrecks and ATV riding.
21. I am a serious foodie. I love to eat good food. We love to cook, entertain, eat out and I also love to bake. But I don't bake much anymore because I can't eat these yummy treats.
22. My favorite books of all time are The River Why, Water for Elephants, and Les Miserables.
23. My life list includes traveling to foreign countries, seeing multiple musicals, becoming an excellent photographer, publishing a book, and seeing my children grow up and be joy-filled in whatever they do.
24. I have vibrant, crazy, and memorable dreams. Just this week I have been a top-secret scientist in charge of an entire island laboratory that was infiltrated by spies and subsequently destroyed. I escaped by leaping/flying out of the burning building, diving into the ocean, and swimming away at hyper speed (think leaping like a dolphin). I also rescued Jack Bauer once in my dreams.
25. I eat at least two apples a day. I buy pounds of apples at the beginning of the week and yet we always run out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Carmel: January 2010

I want to preface this post by saying God is so, so good. Never could we have been prepared for the tumultuous, scary, faith-growing, community-depending roller coaster ride that the last few months have held. My sweet family has endured a ride to hell and back, starting with the diagnosis of MS, a miracle in the form of B12 deficiency that is totally treatable and reversible, and culminating this past week in an unexpected, delightful, heavenly trip to Carmel. Without the illness and its subsequent doctor-mandated recovery time, we wouldn't have had the blessing of spending a week together, just as a family, enjoying each other and resting, resting, resting. To God be the glory, great things he has done!

Carmel blessed us with a week of 65-degree days, sunshine galore, large waves, long naps and beautiful scenery:

Our kids were happy, secure, energetic, fun-loving, obedient and altogether awesome. Our family vacation allowed Ben and I as parents to fall in love all over again with the unique, creative, loving, beautiful, awesome kids God's given us. We relished in each other's love. We delighted in each other's presence. We played and splashed and laughed and jumped and celebrated all week long.

Each day we headed to the beach in the morning, came back for lunch and nap, then headed back to the beach for the afternoon. Our kids perfected jumping off logs, sliding down steep sandy inclines and building castles of fine, white sand. Maddie flew her handmade kites and shrieked gleefully as they spun and twirled in the wind.

We enjoyed a (windy) hike on Point Lobos, Maddie amazing us by hiking 1 1/2 miles all on her own! She is such a trooper! We especially loved getting to see sea lions and sea otters frolic in the waves nearby. A park docent led Maddie through a delightful learning experience where she learned all about the local sea life, getting to feel real pelts and examine real skulls. Right up her alley!

Late afternoons gave way to swimsuits (when we remembered them), wet clothes, and nudey babies. If there was a small, insignificant puddle to be seen, the kids frolicked and splashed and dunked their heads like it was the fountain of youth.

The amazing Carmel house we stayed in offers amazing opportunities for inside photography, as it is full of bright, beautiful daylight. Maddie and Sam entertained my wishes for a short 13-minute period one afternoon as I snapped away. Here are some of my favorites:

My sweet kiddos are the best of friends and played together so wonderfully. They laughed and wrestled and worked together and snuggled, making us giddy with love. One day we walked down to watch the ocean and the two of them just sat, side by side, gazing at feeding sea birds and seals, giggling and taking in the moments together.

We had the opportunity to meet up with Ben's cousin Michael for an afternoon at the Pebble Beach Club pool. Um, heaven. Heated pool, crashing waves below, sun setting on the horizon. After a swim we headed up Carmel Valley to Uncle Frank's, where we feasted on delicious food as a family late into the evening. Maddie and Sam especially enjoyed our venture out to see the motorcycles. It ended with Sam falling asleep in his jammies, in my arms, and Maddie snuggling her cousin Michael on the couch. Oh, such love.

Our last few days we attempted to eke out every minute of beach time possible. We stayed late in the afternoon, playing and growing sandier with each minute. Our pedicures were all but filed away by the fine sand, feet soft and smooth, the sea air left our hair tangled and salty, but we didn't care. It was bliss.

Kiddos flew kites, played with giant sea kelp, laughed and splashed in the cold, lapping waves at their ankles. We joined them, our feet frozen and numb but smiles warm and wide.

I marveled at my sweet kids' likenesses, the ways in which their arms went out at the same angle when flying kites, the ease with which they played and the abundance of their love for each other. Such tender, memorable moments laced with fondness, rest and gratitude.

And on our last night we enjoyed a slow sunset at Mission Ranch, sheep grazing below our table as we enjoyed cold drinks and delicious appetizers. As we placed our little ones in bed that night, our hearts were so full.

There is something so wonderful about time away as a family, not only to connect, but also to fall in love with each other again: to see the light in one's eyes, to feel the lightness of one's countenance, to watch the stress melt away and be replaced by relaxation and gratitude. Such a time of blessing for all of us.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

mini-vacay preview

Currently in the process of going through 700+ pictures from the past week. Here's a collage to tide you over until I'm finished:

Suffice it to say, our mini-vacay was a much needed time of rest and restoration for this family of four!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Four Years Old: A Teddy Bear Party

Today we celebrated Maddie's birthday with a trip to Build-A-Bear and a Teddy Bear Picnic. Having Christmas and then three birthdays, four months in a row, can be a little exhausting for the party-planning Mama. Fortunately this year Maddie was up for a small gathering of her best friends.

Some scenes from around the house:
Bear-building snacks (gummy bears and teddy grahams), the girls' table, close-up of the plates, presents wrapped and ready for the big day

Three buddies before the bear-building extravaganza:

Scenes from the workshop:
stuffing "Princess," rubbing the bear's heart on cheeks for smiles, Sam into his snack, rubbing the heart on hearts and making wishes, more cheeks, more wishing

Nicole making wishes, Dada hugging a perfectly stuffed princess, Kate giving Ballerina a bath, Sam at the computer, Nicole and Maddie at the baths, Mel and Kate printing up a birth certificate

Three buddies, post-building:

And the little buddy, who couldn't pass up the opportunity to pose and be cute:

When our bears were assembled and outfits chosen, we headed back to the house for our Teddy Bear Picnic! PB & honey sandwiches, fruit salad, veggies, and a green salad for the grown-ups. (Pretend food for the bears, provided by Maddie).

Sweet Nicole

Adorable Kate

Excited Maddie

Maddie's birthday cake, just as she "pictured it": chocolate and white layers with pink frosting

Make a wish!

Yum yum!

And it wouldn't be a party without an oopsies!

my sweet Sam and his buddy Kelly

A Family Portrait, by Mel

After I was finished snapping pictures, Sam climbed on Daddy's lap signing, "More, more." And he smiled big smiles. Such a love.

Four tired, sugar-zonked cuties


Maddie and her Auntie Jennie

It was a great day! Tonight more friends came over for pizza and cake to celebrate again. Lucky Maddie had a fabulous day, full of fun with friends. An extrovert's day, for sure! Tonight I asked her favorite part of the day, and she said "Going to Build-A-Bear." I asked her favorite toy, and she said "My new leapster."

Tonight, when Ben went to take the dog out at the end of the evening, he noticed Maddie's light on. We peeked in to find her playing a game on the leapster! She said to us, "Is it morning time?!" We laughed and laughed, smiled as she finished "one last letter," spelling the word "like," (what?), and then handed over the game. This was 8:40. Funny girl.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Maddie: Four Years!

Dear Madeleine Noelle,

Hard to believe that today you are FOUR YEARS OLD. It seems like just yesterday that I went into the hospital, round and swollen, sore and done, ready to finally meet the girl I'd been waiting for. It seemed like the world stopped when you were placed in my arms. All my life my greatest dream was to be a Mama to someone. When you were born, that dream came true. You are still a dream come true, Miss Maddie, and the best daughter a Mama could hope for.

Through the years you've developed your very own personality, desires, sense of style, and characteristics that make you the delightful girl you are. You are thoughtful and kind, smart and passionate, articulate and conversational. You love to dress up, draw, be creative and sing and dance. You keep me laughing constantly with the things you say. My heart is filled up with love when you sing your made-up songs about Jesus.

Along the way you've made some fabulous friends. Kate and Nicole are two of the sweetest, kindest, most easy-going friends a girl could have. I love to see you play together, whether with babies, Mr. Potato Head, musical instruments, tea sets, or suitcases. You are so fortunate to have such close, amazing friends at such a young age, and it is my hope that you are dear friends for years to come.

You are creative, zany and sometimes downright ridiculous. You love to be the center of attention and will do all sorts of funny things to make us laugh or distract us from feeling bad. You love to sing songs and perform. Your preschool teacher told me a sweet story from school this week. You were dressed up as an angel, holding "baby Jesus," when you started to sing notes. Higher and higher your voice sang, more and more angelic, as students stopped what they were doing to turn toward the sweet voice. I think all the teachers fell a little bit more in love with you that day.

You are a kind, compassionate, generous and loving big sister. Oftentimes I am just in awe of how careful, tender and giving you are. Once when I was remarking to a friend and fellow mom what good friends you and your brother continue to be, she blessed me so much by saying that it's possible for siblings to be best friends. They don't have to be constantly fighting. And as the days and months go by, this continues to be true. The two of you treat each other with such sweet, gentle kindnesses. You are affectionate, trading hugs and kisses, pat-pats and little back rubs. I am confident that the kindness, gentleness and compassion I see your brother exhibiting is due in large part to just how sweet you are with him.

Your mind is one giant playground these days, fueling imaginative play and creating all sorts of fun scenarios that stretch even your Mama's abilities. In preschool this week you dressed as a robot bride and recited vows in a monotone, robotic voice. One of your favorite birthday presents is a large art jar filled with pipe cleaners, googly eyes, tissue paper, sparkles, glitter, glue, and all sorts of little goodies. I can't wait to see what creations arise out of our art times together! We love to take part in your imaginary games and enjoy playing the roles you readily give out.

If I could pick one thing that really stands out from this year, it would be your budding faith and relationship with Jesus. After making a decision a few months ago to put your trust in Jesus, you have astounded me with the prayers you offer and the wisdom you display. Your understanding of complicated theological issues is no doubt pleasing to your Dad and amazes us. We never tire of answering your questions about God as we tuck you in each night. (I think you know how eager we are to discuss these matters and use them to your advantage, putting off bedtime as we lay in bed and consider how great our God truly is!)

Sweet girl, happiest of birthdays to you. I pray that you remember this day fondly, feeling loved, admired, cherished and celebrated. You are such a joy in our lives.



Monday, January 10, 2011

10 on 10*

7:30 - Pouty Princess (who had already been up two hours)

8:30 - Mr. Pink Pajamas finally rises (he was out of warm jammies)

9:30 - vitamins in the cupboard (they're taking over!!)

9:30 - finally eating breakfast (and the kids ate half)

10:30 - out the door to Boswell's (Maddie dressed herself; those are "exercise clothes.")

11:30 - lunch

2:30 - a vat of guacamole for retirement party/small group fiesta esta noche

5:30 - into the guacamole

7:30 - ice cream cake

8:30 - Miss Retirement herself, ready to cut and serve that cake!

*I'm cutting myself slack on the whole 10 pictures, 10 consecutive hours. It never happens for me, probably never will.