Thursday, March 31, 2011

random iphone fun

Every few months I upload photos from my iphone, and sometimes they're just too good not to share with you! Here's some of my favorites from the past few months:

Clockwise from top left: Sam finds himself in a precarious position, Maddie on the beach in Carmel, Sam wearing the infant "tomato" hat, yet another of our favorite hats, Sam in the shower--fully clothed, baby Jesus in Maddie's nativity play, a crowded naptime bed, hanging at the park, Maddie and Nicole on their way into school, Sam the red-nosed toddler, Daddy & Sam, Maddie's swollen lip after an encounter with a little dog named Trouble, and Maddie & Sam watching some 'toons

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wine Country with the Painters

My sweet family was here visiting for their Spring Break this past week. It was SO nice to have Grammy, Papa & Uncle Joe here every day for six whole days, though it went by too fast! The kiddos had a super time hanging out with their family, and it was so great to have fun together.

For the past two days we headed up to wine country to have a mini-vacation together. It had been a while since we toured the Russian River country, so that's where we headed. First stop: Santa Rosa. We visited an awesome spice shop, the candy store (see lollipops below), and a brewery.

We went wine tasting at DeLoach, a winery we had visited way back when Maddie was just a teeny little baby, in July of 2007. We snapped some pictures around the property. Sam was all about the "cheese:"

Maddie enjoyed "fishing" for algae in the small water feature and they both ran around burning off their lollipop sugar. We re-created one of our favorite Grammy-Maddie photos of all time:

March 2011

July 2007

They both have much more hair now. :)
And Grammy is strong, happy, and cancer-free. That's a very, very good thing.

After DeLoach we went to Harvest Moon, where the winemaker delighted Ben and my Dad with many more tastes than their fee was supposed to cover. I started feeling sort of yucky so I hung outside with the kiddos while they explored the property (thank goodness for a break in the rain!)

We spent the night in Windsor, where the kiddos enjoyed their very first same-bed sleepover. It was BEYOND exciting for Maddie. You can sense her extreme giddiness in the photo below:

Amazingly, it went off without a hitch. They both fell asleep quickly and easily and slept through the night! Operation Sleepover was a great success! It was so, so sweet listening to Maddie as she whispered sweet words to Sam and couldn't stop kissing him. I glanced over by the light of my cell phone to see Sam all snuggled up between the pillows, Maddie holding his hand and kissing it over and over. Be still, my mama heart.

After a good night's sleep, we headed north up the river to Robert Young and deLormier. I was still not up to wine tasting, but deLormier was a real hit with everyone, as evidenced by the case of wine purchased within the family. Ben and my folks especially loved the Primativa, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cab. The kids especially loved the paintings of wildlife and the outside water fountain.

We snagged lunch at the Jimtown cafe. I'd love to live in Jimtown, wouldn't you? Beautiful landscape, cool trucks, good eats, tasty wine.

After lunch we stopped at Hanna, our final winery of the day. I snapped some photos and then snagged a semi-nap in the car while the fam tasted some final wines. Sam, Maddie and Ben all passed out asleep in the car on our way east to Calistoga

We headed over to Sonoma to see the mission and explore downtown. So fun. I've never been, but the town has a lot of character. Sam was so excited about his juice that he screamed "Ju! Ju!" throughout the mission until I finally brought him outside to sit and enjoy his martinelli's in peace. The big bench with the little guy made me think of Edith Ann. (What's not to love about Lily Tomlin, by the way? This sandwich clip is the one I remember most.)

History was most exciting in the form of jungle gyms. The kids climbed all over an old cart and through an oxen yoke. Good times, good times.

After hitting some much-unanticipated, frustrating flooding and detours, we were forced to stop for dinner. The Boon Fly Cafe, one of our all-time favorite breakfast places, served up a filling, delicious dinner. Kobe beef burgers, chicken and waffle specials, flatbread pizzas. Need I say more?

The adventures are always worth the craziness. The kids were fantastic, it was great to hang out as a family, and the food and wine were amazing! Thanks Russian River! Thanks family for the fun times! We miss you already.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Choo-Choo! Sam is Two!

Since little buddy is into all things automotive, locomotive and wheeled, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than with a train-themed birthday party! The basic invite set me on a blue and red kick and the coach got rolling! The original plans included a ride on the Berkeley steam trains but thanks to a forecast of 10-plus days of rain, we opted for a chaotic, noisy indoor party at home.

The stars of the show, mocha cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting. Amazing and adorable cupcake wrappers and toppers by the incredible Scrapbooking Stuff.

Scenes from a party, clockwise from top left: peanuts, table with handkerchief pennants, closer view of table, and hobo sack party favors.

Other decor around the house included red gerbera daisies with extra train toppers, drinks and fun paper straws by Hey Yo Yo, hobo bag close up, & beautiful red flowers.

Look closely: this may be the only time you see my child drinking a blue beverage. I got a little carried away with the turquoise and red theme, I admit, putting color coordination before nutrition. But how cute can a soda bottle get?

After some playtime and loading up on train snacks (kettle corn and peanuts), we gathered 'round the table to sing a birthday boy his birthday song.

It was so fun to see how much he appreciated the party. He knew we were singing to him, and he smiled all the way through.

I love this next photo. Sam is trying with all his might to get that candle while Tyler and Maddie help (not so subtly, and thankfully, as they got it blown out for him).

Cupcakes were handed out and gobbled down. Or licked clean. Seems the kiddos just wanted hearty helpings of buttercream. Can't say I blame them.

Big T.

Sam going in for the frosting takedown.

A sweet moment caught on camera!

Claire-bear the wonder girl!

CHEESE! Complete with cake-filled chompers!

To burn off some sugar, we headed outside for a spin with Thomas pinata. I was so proud of all our little friends who waited patiently for their turn while cheering their buddies on.

Clockwise from top left: Bear, KK, Claire, Coley, Maddie, Wy, Lils, Tyler, Tyler, Jacob, Sam and Sam again. After two full rounds, our resident 9 year-old managed to break that puppy open, raining skittles, train lollipops, train stickers, and bouncy balls down to the ground.

Inside we opened lots of new fun presents, as seen with Grammy & Papa below:

And thanks to Mel, we managed to sneak in one family shot at the end:

I am beyond grateful for our family and friends who feel like family. I am SO blessed to have these mamas and papas, aunties and uncles, and buddies who are more like cousins. My children are loved and cared for by an entire community! Thank you Lord for my sweet baby boy and his amazing support network.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Maddie: 50 Months

Dear Spunky Punky Boo,

50 months just sounds SO. OLD. How can you be well into your fourth year of life when it seems like yesterday you were scrunching up your little nose, making funny faces and causing us to laugh? You are in so many ways a big girl: making big girl decisions, attempting to write words, and using figures of speech and hand movements like you're 15 years old. I'm just waiting for to roll your eyes at me and give me the "whatever" sign any day now.

One day when going through the closets I had a moment of nostalgia in coming across the outfit you wore home from the hospital. I had this idea for a separate blog post where I would take pictures of you and Sam side-by-side with your outfits, find the actual pictures from coming home, etc., but...I could only get you to pose, and only for a second. So there you have it. Still, it's quite hard to believe you once were too small for that outfit. Fifty months ago, you scrunched up your spindly newborn legs, filling up the body and leaving two empty lengths of super-soft pink fabric below. And now, look at you in all your long-legged, long-haired big-girl-ness.

You are such a natural caregiver. You love to help out, cleaning alongside me, getting food for Sam, helping at bath time, putting your clothes away. And if we are lucky enough to happen upon a baby, you become a sweet-talking, cooing, gentle little mama. You are obsessed with other people's babies, loving to help in any way you can. I love to watch you interact with our friends' kids, how you love them like siblings and protect them like a mother hen. This picture of you and KK is one of my new family favorites:

You are so creative, always breaking into impromptu dance parties, making up songs, and imagining all sorts of amazing stories and scenarios. You insist on squeezing into your old tutus that are much too small, stubborn and determined and intent.

All of the sudden, you are using your letters in entirely new ways. You are sounding words out, putting letter combinations together and identifying sounds like never before. It is so exciting! I can imagine you'll be reading before the year is out, which is especially exciting, because when you are bored by life (which seems to happen with some frequency these days), books will just open up a whole new world for you! It will be magical.

But it's been rough, these past few months. You are stretching and working and manipulating the boundaries, trying my patience, testing my words and structure in ways like never before. I never am sure I'm doing the right thing, and it's so difficult. I want to be the best parent I can, but so often I feel I've exhausted every disciplinary tool in my arsenal. It's in these moments that all I can do is to sigh, quiet my words, and pray for wisdom. We've been praying together frequently, asking God for help getting through the days.

One particularly rough night as I put you to bed, I was tired, frustrated and at the end of my patience. I recognized that my spirit was not at rest and I asked if we could pray together, for a better day to start the next morning. You astounded me with your heartfelt prayer that night: "Dear God, I know that I can't make any good decisions without your help. You are so good and you are able to help me do the right thing. I want to obey you, I want to make good decisions. Won't you help me? Please God? Amen." In that moment, my spirit was refreshed, my hope restored, my love tank filled up as my eyes welled with tears. Even in the hardest of days, you are learning. You are learning to submit to your Heavenly Father. You are trying your hardest to do what's right, only to find that we are all at the mercy of our Lord to truly change. What lessons you are teaching me, sweet one.

I love you,


Thursday, March 10, 2011

10 on 10: Sick Day Edition

6:45 At this point, I'd already been awake for 1 1/2 hours. Photos were not taken during this time. Ugh.

Maddie asked to stay home from school today. Yesterday she got a krick in her neck and it was still bothering her this morning.

I've been a crazy organizer the past two days. This morning's project was taking care of my craft bins. They look sparkly clean and organized! (note: 3rd cup of tea)

While I was organizing, Sam was moisturizing. The carpet. And his clothes.

Two sick kids means t.v. time mid-morning. Get over it.

Birthday crafts!

Maddie requested the following things on her sandwich: mayonnaise, butter, cheese and lettuce.

Being home all day means catching up on laundry. The hampers are officially emptied!

Still doing birthday crafts after naptime. I accomplished so much today!

Special surprise: my giveaway win in the mail! Check out olive blue for more super cowl cuteness!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Samuel: Happy Second Birthday, Bud!

Dear Samuel Benjamin,

Two years ago you entered our lives, quiet, soft, round, and full of love. From the moment you were placed on my chest--eyes open and looking around, neck straining to lift your head--it was instant love. I can't believe my little baby is a full-fledged two year-old!

From that very first day of life, you've been a contented, smiley, friendly, and curious little fella. Your first year was a blur of chubby extremities, gummy smiles, fuzzy hair growth, bouts of mastitis and thrush, drippy chins, ticklish thighs, crawling, walking and getting yourself into all sorts of situations.

And then, just like that, you were one. Round, soft, kissable cheeks. Busy feet. Love for anything with wheels. Your sister's constant companion.

Your second year was full of even more adventures and shenanigans. Your hair started growing in like crazy, taking you from baby to beiber in just a few months. You developed a love for sticks. You started running, and then never stopped. Through it all you maintained a happy, easygoing, friendly demeanor and never stopped giving snuggles.

And now, sweet babe, you are TWO. The year of tantrums and no, of running away and testing limits. In just the last month you finally started to say no, but it comes out more like "Mo!" You shake your head and stamp your feet, run away laughing hysterically and ignore me when I call out.

You also snuggle deep in my neck, offer sweet kisses and pats and hugs each and every day, reach out to your sister when she's sad, fill your Daddy's heart with joy when he walks in the door, and delight every person you meet. You are, like Maddie, extraordinarily extroverted. You make friends no matter where we go, smiling and waving, yelling "Hiii!"

You are full of joy. You love to laugh and sing. You're not afraid to perform on cue, stealing our hearts with "la la la la la" or galloping around the room.

You love to figure things out, take them apart, and put them back together. You are obsessed with tools, ladders, and anything with wheels. You love to be outside and would run and run forever if I let you.

You are kind and gentle. You treat your sister with such tenderness and care that it never fails to melt my heart. The two of you are dear, dear friends who delight in each other and miss each other when you're apart.

You enjoy being scared and squeal with delight, signing and pleading "More! More!" as we chase, tackle, tickle and surprise you.

Sometimes in the morning before calling out, I hear you in your crib singing, laughing, entertaining yourself in the sweetest little sing-song voice. You will sit and snuggle, wrapping your arms around my shoulders and patting me with those broad little hands.

When we were at Grammy & Papa's last week, nearly every nap time we laid down together in that big bed, snuggling and laughing, me pretending to sleep while you pointed out my features, naming them. Every few minutes you would get quiet, then reach up to stroke my face or lean in to kiss me on the lips. Again and again you'd repeat this little pointing, stroking, kissing game until eventually those eyelids would fall and your breathing would grow slow and rhythmic. And I would bask in the joy that is being your Mama. Seeing you sleep. Listening to you breathe. Feeling the warmth of your body tucked under my arm. Smiling to myself each time you'd twitch awake, reach out for me, then coax yourself back to sleep.

It is such a privilege and joy being your Mama. I can't imagine a more fun, loving, affectionate, curious and adventurous little boy. Thank you for gracing our lives these past two years.