Sunday, December 27, 2009

Our BIRTHday!

Today is a significant event in our family: three years ago today a little girl entered the world and made me a Mama! What an amazing journey we have been on, my little punkin-baby and I! We have learned so much together. I can hardly believe that it's been three years! As I was perusing pictures for this post, I was struck by how "little girl-ish" Caiden looks now. Good bye toddlerhood! See what I mean?


This year has been such a blast! Caiden continues to amaze us with her love of learning. She enjoys learning new words, letters, and numbers. Her favorite thing in the world is going to the playground, but a close second, and perhaps more frequent activity is telling or being told stories. If books are unavailable, or inaccessible, she will readily settle for a "talking story". She is an amazing story teller in her own right and lately we've realized she is actually engaging us with her made up stories. While her stories are fun, the names of her characters are always hilarious and never real names. (Like her doll named "Izon")

She is an amazing big sister to Addison and often talks about how much she loves her sister. It is a common occurrence to see her interrupt her activity to kiss her sister, or run and grab a toy to occupy her, or do something to make Addison laugh. It delights us to see the kind of sister she has become.


She continues to have a love affair with dresses, jewelry, shoes, princesses and all things GIRL. She also has quite the natural flair for the dramatic and is rather photogenic. See? And my personal favorite...

Daddy

and Mommy
are so proud of you, Caiden Hannah. We love you so much and are so thankful that God chose us to be your parents. You are a delight to everyone- but most of all, to us. We pray blessings over your third year sweet girl. This year may you grow in love, understanding, confidence, knowledge and wisdom but most of all in the fear of the Lord. We love you!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recent pictures

I'm feeling guilty for not writing in so long, but I really don't have time right now, so I will just post pictures...Enjoy!

Daddy and his girls ready for the game- any game UM plays. =)

Addison opening the card from G-Ma and Pi-Paw celebrating the arrival of Autumn which came on the same day that Autumn's temperatures decided to grace us with its presence.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

A story

I was reading my friend Allie's blog (http://jabrannon.blogspot.com/) today and decided to throw my name in the hat to win a book. The "application process" was simple: write a story. So I did. Here is the story. And no, I didn't make it up. =)


It was a regular morning. I was taking advantage of a quiet moment nursing my seven mpnth old to clean out my inbox when a simple string of sentences catapulted my Mama heart into new territory.

"Mama friends, I lost my dear friend Jen this morning as she napped with her six week old baby girl. She was completely healthy, we don't know what happened. Her daughter Sara was breast fed.

I am going to start sharing my milk with Sara. Do any of you have extra that you can share too?"

I looked down at my Addison, all soft curves and plump rolls, nestled in my arms being nurtured and satisfied at my breast and thought, "I could share some milk with this sweet Mama-less baby..." When my infant interrupted her own meal with the gift of her milky smile, it was final. I could, and I would share with this little stranger a most intimate gift- something that before this moment had been reserved for my own precious children alone.

Later that day when my two year old, Caiden asked why I was "taking out all of Addion's milk" I explained that we were going to share some of her milk with a tiny little baby whose Mama couldn't nurse her any more because she was with Jesus. I spoke tenatively, gently. My daughter is so sensitive to pain- especially my own. I was unsure how she would respond, so when she looked at me solemnly, dropped her toy and ran from the room, my heart sank. Seconds later she returned and clambered onto the couch, sitting right next to me. She grabbed the breast pump, stuck it under her shirt and announced proudly, "I'll help too."

Monday, September 14, 2009

National Pastimes

What pictures stretch across your mind when you think of a National Pastime?
Is it this?

Perhaps something along these lines?



May I humbly suggest a new national pastime? We are consumed by it over here and it is wildly entertaining, and some would say that it is the cheapest, purest, most light hearted fun for the whole family available!

What's that?

The suspense is killing you?

Oh, forgive me! Here's a picture of my nomination of the NEW national pastime.
Kissing....

Baby,,,,

Cheeks!!!


Because when you have cheeks like this around...


...how can you resist? I dare you!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dog Days of Summer


I couldn't resist!
This is Dexter- the dog my girls fell in love with at Camp Arete this summer.











I love Addison's tongue smile- it was sweetness for a few weeks over the summer, and now it is gone. =( They change so fast! But, it is proof that my second daughter loves dogs. She loves Bentley too- Aunt Bekah's dog. She resembles an overzealous marionette when she seems him, "jumping" while suspended in in mid-air, arms flailing with excitement. So cute.
And NO, we will not be getting a dog. Thankyouverymuch! =)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cultivating Thankful Hearts

Some conversations with Caiden today got me thinking about our conscious decision to instill thankfulness in our girls. I started evaluating what kind of example I was setting for her. It's so easy to be thankful when things are fun, sweet, beautiful, and, well, easy. Like when Caiden asks "to play Thankful" every night at dinner and proceeds to allow me to splash around in the overflow of her thankful heart.

Tonight we waded in these things: (listed as she shared them with me- "lots of time with Daddy- Mama, I just love it!,
for the place mat G-Ma bought me, for my bunk beds, for hanging out with Daddy (I'm serious- she said hanging out!), for little baby Reese- she loves me!, for going to Nana's, for this yummy "wice" and chicken, and for Pi-Paw not flying, (I think she meant on Monday so she could see him...). Or when after a particularly frustrating bed-time experience sneaking back into her room for a few minutes of snuggle time in her bottom bunk and to find a radiant smile awaiting me, small arms thrown around my neck, and a sweet voice proclaiming that my appearance "made her heart so happy!"

I'd love to share with you some easy things that filled my heart today: That a sweet family from our church gave us bunk beds for Caiden AND put them up for me while Jeff was out of town on a youth trip.

That Jeff helped me settle the girls into their new rooms last night and I got to tuck them into new beds, in tidy, comfy rooms.

That Caiden can make me laugh just by making a comment in passing: "Mama, this grown up book has words AND pictures. Isn't that creative?!" (This observation was made about a book a snagged from Lake Sybelia's free book pile- Roald Dohl's "The BFG"- terrific book for young and old alike, by the way.)

That Addison delights my heart every time she dives for my arms, or says "Dada" when Jeff walks into the room. Those are moments anyone could be thankful for. But then there are times when to my shame, I allow the moment to consume me and I get overwhelmed or frustrated.

Here are some things I chose to be thankful for today: that when my plans/schedule don't work out, God is re-directing my path (if I let Him),

that even though today was a work day, it was only five hours; that when during dinner preparation and Addison was screaming, and I pulled a container of strawberries out of the fridge and promptly dropped them all over the inside of the fridge and the floor- I needed to clean those places anyway! =)

That during bath time when my princesses tragically turned into some alien life forms, whining, back-arching, tsunami splashing, deaf and defiant creatures- I was able to be thankful that I CAN give them both baths at the same time/place now and remember that soon enough they will be showering and not need me any more.

That even though my Mom needs to have her hip replaced (Sept 21st), in a few short months she will be pain free and moving around like new!


Okay, falling asleep at the keyboard again- I better sign off before I try and count something, or otherwise make a comment that would lead you to the conclusion that we are in the process of adding to our family. Good heavens! Blogging can be dangerous!! =) Good night!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Correction! FIve- not six!

Oh my- that's what I get for writing that blog so late last night....I can't count! There are FIVE McLaughlin grandchildren now- not six as I had previously posted. My sweet Mother in Law called me this morning and about gave me heart failure asking if I was pregnant and if that was the reason there were "six"...Dear me! No, I am NOT pregnant!!! =) Addison woke up three time last night to eat- I cannot imagine being pregnant at this stage in the game!!! A little sleep deprived and delirious, yes, pregnant, no! But give yourselves a pat on the back if you caught the mistake! =)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Brought to you by the Letter R and the Number 5

Caiden and I were talking about things that begin with the "r" sound- here's what we came up with: (for an honest re-creation, say the words with a "w"sound in place of the "r". (Like "Wachel") If she thinks about it, she can fix it, but most of the time I let it slide...I know that sound isn't stable until age 4, and it's just so darn cute! =)
Rachel (from Signing Time- the "favorite video of my life" as she calls it,
Raisins,
Running,
Raccoon,
Rainbow, and......drum woll (ahem- ROLL) please......



Reese - who celebrates her BIRTH day today! Welcome to the world sweet little Reese. Your cousins, Uncle Jeff, and Aunt Shannon were so excited to meet you today! We can't wait to get to know you more. Right now, just from our quick glimpse of you, we think you look like a beautiful mix of your brothers. We can't wait to watch you change and grow. For now, enjoy getting to know your family, learning to nurse, and snuggling. Before long you will be as big as your cousin Addison- who I promise was your size just 6.5 months ago. (Reese was 6 lbs and 10 oz, 19.75 inches long)
So, what does the number five have to do with anything? That's the number of grandchildren in the McLaughlin Family now- so much fun!! What a beautiful day of celebration!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Thankful Tuesday!

230. The sound of family gathered to enjoy "one of us" who lives afar for just a few short days.

231. Generous, creative, silly Aunts

232. The fullness of my daughters lives surrounded by people who love them as we do.

233. A few hours to step out of my Mama shoes and be a sister.

234. For the aroma of banana bread wafting through the house, cloaking us in the familiar, and comforting.

235. For too many cooks in the kitchen- oh the good old days!

236. For a fun visit from G-Ma that fills up a little girl and leaves her overflowing from the joy of it.

237. For educational direction and ideas that enable me to be more intentional and focused in my play times with C.

238. For my delightful children

239. That for the mot part my girls don't have to be shipped out while I'm working.

240. For the hours of preparation that saves me that will hopefully materialize in sleep!

241. For a vision for Addison's room and that it is slowly coming together.

242. For the pitter patter of little feet and the slap of bigger feet on the tile down the hall.

243. For Addison babbling "dadada" along to the worship music.

244. Yummy snack of baked chick peas.

245. That our Library is so close.

246. C making her Little People talk to each other in high pitched voices. Sweetness.

247. For the giggles that erupt from the sisters as C runs away and A "flies" behind her and occasionally lands on her back.

248. For the fun and rewarding workout that is!

249. That the girls are beginning to enjoy being able to play together.

250. For my little "Chunkin"- all 18 lbs of her cuddliness.

251. That both girls and Jeff are on the road to health again and that (thank you Jesus!) I never got sick.

252. For the dedication of my husband to care for our children in spite of both of us working again.

253. For long hours of sleep last night- a gift after her cold disinegrated whatever schedule we had pieced together.

254. That binkies for toddlers are a thing of the past, no longer mourned over or reminisced about. Yahoo!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not My Child Monday



So this week, I have some good ones....so please, for all that's good and holy, pause and empty your bladder. I do NOT want to be held responsible for any unintentional puddle hopping.

It was NOT my child who stood in front of a full length mirror yesterday at Target and practically bent over backwards in her efforts to puff out her chest. I definitely didn't catch her peeking under her clothing, making an inspection. When asked why she was taking up acrobatics, she did NOT say, "I'm trying to make them grow and get milk so I can feed my baby!" (Atta-girl! Already giving her baby "the best"! =))

It was not MY completely toilet trained child who had not one, but TWO accidents at my MOM's.....and on CARPET.

It certainly wasn't any offspring of mine who corrected an unsuspecting older gentleman at Walmart who admired my "cute little boy" with an exasperated, "SHE's not a BOY, she's a girl- she even has a "ba'gina" 'cause God made her a GIRL." And I'm pretty sure it wasn't me who grew wings and high tailed it out of that store as fast as my little legs could carry me not even checking to see if the man had heard or understood the last part of her explanation.

(In my defense, I had the girls and boys are different talk after she told me that when Addison grew up she would be a boy. We explained that girls and boys were different because God made them differently, and they had different private parts. But my daughter wasn't content with that- she wanted their NAMES. I only told her one time hoping that she wouldn't remember such unfamiliar and strange words. So much for that...)

What has your child "not" done this week? Please share the fun!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thankful Tuesday!

I know that it probably would sound better to have a "thankful Thursday", but next week will mark the beginning of my Thursdays at work, and I know I won't have time to blog on Thursdays, so Tuesday it is! =) Here's a continuation of our list from before.

We will share with you some highlights of this week's "Thankful Game" as Caiden calls our evening routine of sharing thankful hearts with each other at our dinner table. I have a very leggy, wiggly, happy girl on my lap right now, helping me to remember.

201. I'm thankful for God's grace over the girls and I while we were at camp. It was the first year that I didn't have a sister with me to help, and we all survived none too worse for wear- just tired!

202. I'm thankful that we WERE able to fit two pack-n-plays in our tiny room at camp.

203. I'm thankful for our in-door private bathroom, and shower and air conditioning in our little room- no one else had those amenities!

204. I'm thankful for the Rubbermaid container that doubled as the girls bath tub, and for wet, sudsy girls who enjoyed their first baths together.

205. I'm thankful for the laughter that ensued during every afternoon bath (the evening baths were soon discarded as everyone involved was too tired to be cheerful or sweet).

206. I'm thankful for my camp secret pal and how she made Caiden her own secret pal so she wouldn't be left out.

207. I'm thankful we got to sneak away from camp one day to go see my sister Kristin, who lives 1 hour away from camp. It was a lovely rural drive and I so enjoyed getting to see her home for the first time and her massive and prolific garden. She is my gardening hero right now!

208. For Caiden with cherry tomato seeds liberally dribbled down her white shirt while gleefully snacking in Kris' garden, and for her first lessons on picking tomatoes, corn, and beans.

209. For my Mom who got the tomato stains out of Caiden's shirt! She's my laundry hero!

210. For my wrap that carried Addison all over camp, and my nursing cover that enabled me to feed her during the only two sessions I made it to.

211. For our time in TN with my WHOLE family! It has been 8 months since we've all been together at one time! Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!

212. For the courage to go tubing with my girls husband, and siblings. The most fun I've had in a LONG time! Such beauty!

213. C- "For the llama's we saw when we were tubing!"

214. C-"And the cows too- and the baby ones!" She said, as she wriggled off my lap to play beside me.

215. For how Addison laughs the most adorable, contagious, gasp for air, and hold your sides kind of laugh when her sister is being silly.

216. For how the girls love on each other.

217. C- "For my little sister- she is my friend."

218. For how well the girls traveled and kept themselves occupied with library books, small toys and each other during the long road trip home.

219. For Addison's first Brave's game that we were able to catch in Atlanta on our way home.

(She really did enjoy herself! It certainly beat the experience we had when we took Caiden for the first time and half froze our pitooties off!)



Both girls kept the fans all around us entertained and we saw Chipper hit a home run!

220. For Addison's new grin with her tongue sticking out- is there not anything cuter in all the world?

221. For the unique and funny names Caiden comes up with (and remembers!) for her babies: Iz-awn, Eef, Fawna.

222. That Addison LOVES "the jumpy thing"- as C affectionately dubbed the Jumparoo seat.

223. For our computer and internet access on a consistent basis.

224. For the pictures family and friends send us while we are camera-less (except for Jeff's iPhone, which is where the Braves pics came from).

225. For the grace to survive our first night without binkies for Caiden, and that I didn't cave in.

226. That I have a snuggle bug in my Addie-girl.

227. That I get a massage tomorrow! (Thank you to the Dey family!)

228. That our sweet potato and basil survived our extended absence.

229. For moments like this one to bask in a heart over flowing with thankfulness, with classical piano music in the background and one baby napping, one playing quietly. What a blessed life I have!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Me Monday!



I've been reading this Mama's blog (mycharmingkids.net) for a few weeks now and just waiting for a Monday so I could participate. Here goes!

I did NOT put off finishing my long post about summer in order to take part in this Not Me Monday. I would never keep my sweet family and friends needlessly waiting for our fun summer pictures and stories! I'm way more thoughtful than that!

I would never float down a river (in TN) for three hours that I wasn't familiar with, in inner tubes from the Dollar Store and with my babies in tow. And you certainly wouldn't catch me nursing my daughter in the afore-mentioned Dollar Store inner tube while floating down said river because she was hungry. What kind of mother would I be?!

And I would never be caught trying to convince my two year old that is was okay to empty her bladder in the river because she had to go and we were no where near the boat launch where we were getting out! I would never confuse my child like that! Not me!

I would never tell lie to my daughter and tell her that there was a Binky Fairy and that is visited our house last night and took away all of her binkies and left her little presents instead because she was a Big Girl now! Not me! Never!

And I did not let her eat the Pez candies from the Binky Fairy this morning before breakfast. Not me! That would be irresponsible!

What did you all NOT do this week? Do share!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Fly Went By

I'm not very good at concealing my feelings/reactions to things, and unfortunately, Caiden is extremely adept at reading me regardless. But, I'm working on it. I don't want her opinions to be shaped by my feelings.

At the Beach last week, my friend Carissa found a very large, very dead, dragonfly shell. By that, I mean that it was its exoskeleton, and wings, nothing inside. She showed it to us, and my immediate reaction was "cool- don't make me touch it- ech!" But I kept my mouth shut. Caiden was fascinated. Not only did she touch it, but she carried it around for a while. A LONG while. Long enough for me to begin thinking of how I could convince her that the poor guy needed to stay on the beach. I could just see him becoming dust in the hubbub of traveling back up to the condo and that would have been traumatic. Thankfully, she decided his final resting place herself, and we continued on without incident. I was amazed. Usually when bugs are involved, she freaks out. Even just flies cause her to flip. Lately, I had begun to wonder if her reaction to them was mirroring my own. (I HATE spiders and recently been startled by two in her presence. Let's just say I wasn't a gracious hostess...) Thus, the new sensitivity to my own reactions. Maybe I needn't worry- because lately, she's begun to show an interest in all small scurrying things after all- including the lizards that squeeze into our back porch to escape the heat. Maybe this is the beginning of something new... (as long as she doesn't ask them to stay with us...!)


While Caiden was exploring, Addison was chillin on the towel.


(Don't worry, she was slathered up nice and slippery, and only spent a few minutes in direct sunlight.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Full

In college one word we heard a lot in the context of serving others was reciprocity. The idea was that as you are pouring your life out for another that you reciprocally will be blessed and re-filled just by the process of being in relationship and loving them. Honestly, that's a great idea, but it isn't always true. At least not for me. Maybe that's my fault, I don't know. Either way, I got a glimpse of it today in a little different way that I expected.

I volunteered a few hours of my time to talk with new Mama's or soon-to-be Mama's at a baby expo today about how to avoid or heal from a cesarean section. As always it was sobering and emotional to hear their stories, their disappointments, their sadness and pain from the emotional/mental and of course physical implications of this surgery. But I also got to encourage them, cheer them on, educate them and celebrate with them for a few moments on their journey. Full.

When I got home, I had an hour in which I had to pull the house together before we had company for dinner, make dessert and a salad. Knowing that there was much to do in a small amount of time, Addison decided she would pitch in too, but instead of sleeping as usual during this time slot, she screamed. THE WHOLE TIME. Then Caiden came home and she proceeded to whine, cry, disobey and generally add to the distressed ambiance of our home. What is this- a conspiracy? The thing is, I should have known. Any time you absolutely HAVE to get something done with time constraints, that's when everything hits the fan. Are babies born with a sixth sense? Are they genetically predisposed to cause disruptions at the most inopportune times? It was one of those times when everything so falls apart that all you can do is laugh because the only other solution includes a box of tissue and a generous helping of self-pity. Unfortunately for me, when I laughed at the sheer lunacy of the moment, Caiden took it personally and collapsed in tears. Oops. It seems that I traded my sanity for hers. Not a good trade.

I put the dessert on hold. The floors didn't get swept. The salad was a distant memory. I focused on being present. I was consistent.

Rabbit trail: let me just say, being consistent is hard. For a moment I actually wished I was one of those parents who just made a bunch of threats and then let my kid walk all over me. Who needs discipline anyway? Or maybe just one of those parents who chose to ignore their child's emotional needs in favor of a clean home. I like clean homes....

But I love my children. So that means that I make every effort for meet their emotional needs, while also drawing boundaries for their safety, character development and in the long run, comfort.

At the end of their night, I took a few minutes (and fought the urge to watch the clock!) to snuggle with Caiden in her glider before bed. As I placed her in her crib, she cupped my face in her hands and said with a smile that warmed my heart to the core, " Mama, thank you for loving me."

Full. I'm so glad I took the time to be present. I could have traded that moment for any number of tasks and all of them would have fallen so very short on the fulfillment meter. My daughter feeling loved was more important than the salad that never got made.

After the girls were down, I went out to be with our company who happened to be former students of ours- now sophomores in college. These are kids with whom we have shared our life, and it was so good to have them around again. They asked a simple question, and I was honest and vulnerable. It's been a long time since I've shared on that level. They listened, asked questions, they shared.

Full.
I am so thankful for this day, for God's grace through it all, for the filling, for reciprocity. And now, I am thankful for my bed- good night!

Friday, July 17, 2009

I'm one of THOSE Mamas!



This angelic sweetness is the impetus for three wardrobe changes today before the noon hour. Motherhood is such a messy career! I'm pretty sure that this job ranks in the top five: the first four (fishermen, butchers, coroners, sewage workers) being means of employment I would not embrace if my life depended upon it! Yes, I left out garbage men because in our neighborhood they have trucks that have mechanical arms that do all their work while they supervise from their air conditioned cabs- they don't make the cut! But I digress...

Along the lines of your offspring being the producers of surprisingly large quantities of bodily fluids, I realized today how far I've fallen in the ranks of caretakers everywhere. You see, prior to children, I thought Mothers who cleaned their children's faces with their saliva was disgusting. Now I do it regularly. (Sorry precious daughters, I will try to regain control before your 8th birthdays, or for sure your 10th...at the very latest year 11- I wouldn't want to ruin your chances of gathering some dignity before middle school!) However today Caiden came to me and asked me to pick her boogers. Not wanting my daughter's air flow to be impeded, I grabbed a tissue and told her to blow. After almost a dozen failed attempts to dislodge the offender, Caiden lost patience, "Just pick it out, WITH YOUR FINGER!!" Not wanting to fail my daughter, I reluctantly obliged. She was rather satisfied with the result- I was not. Gross. But, who am I kidding, I've already had worse on my clothing, in between my toes, and all over the carpet- just this morning!

I forgave her when upon consuming her last bite of veggie lasagna she said brightly, "Mama, that was my last bite and now I can have some chocolate pudding! Isn't that so e'citing?!! Yes my love, that IS so e'citing!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

She said...




Last night at the dinner table Caiden started singing to herself. Typically we take the opportunity to teach her dining etiquette in situations like this..."it is impolite to sing at the table...", but that night, I was too busy getting things on the table and we were eating late, and I was lost in the to do list for the remainder of the evening. Caiden interrupted my reverie declaring, "Mama, I'm not singing at the table, I'm singing at the light." Hmm. maybe I should have specified more carefully: it's impolite to sing while SITTING at the table...my bad.) =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our adventures

The first week of July we decided to be very adventurous and take a serious road trip- to Michigan! Jeff had a conference for pastors at Mars Hill - Rob Bell's church, and so we were going along to make a vacation out of it. The plan was to leave at night, drive as far as we could to make good time while the girls were sleeping, and stop over night at my parent's property in TN. We would sleep, and then leave the following morning to drive the second leg of the trip during day light. The goal was to arrive on Saturday so that we could go to church at Mars Hill on Sunday. The conference ended on Tuesday, so we were going to leave on Wednesday and meander on down to Chicago to see what there was to see there. At some point we were going to stop back in TN to visit and spend some much needed time with my family.
This is how it really went down. We left at 8:30 at night, drove until 12 or so, and then Jeff couldn't stay awake any longer. He pulled into a rest area where he "slept" and where I fielded girls all night- one would wake up, I'd get them out of the car, feed or calm them down, and try and get them back to sleep. We got back on the road around 6am. A few hours later Jeff started feeling ill. We stopped for lunch and he slept in the car. When we got back on the road, he was really feeling sick and getting worse. Finally he agreed to let me drive the rest of the way. After arriving at the property, he went straight to bed and didn't get up for two days. It was the worst flu that I've ever seen him catch. We weren't going to get to Michigan in time, nor was he feeling up to driving another 12 hours, so we cancelled our plans to continue on to MI. We were disappointed, but as the week progressed, we were glad that we had made that decision. As Jeff got better we were able to enjoy the property and my family who were able to be there too.

We had two and a half beautiful days there where we got to enjoy hiking, picking blackberries black raspberries, preparing green beans for canning, four wheeling, swinging in the hammock near the stream, making berry cobbler with their freshly picked berries, and spending time with my family. My parents have been very anxious for us to get up there and enjoy the property with them for a year and a half now, so we were glad to finally be able to do so.
When we left, we went to see Tallulah Gorge, a huge waterfall in GA. They have dammed it, but it is still rather intimidating. It was beautiful, and an incredible display of raw power. We went down the 1099 steps to get closer to the falls, and you know it was worth it when the 1099 steps back UP became an after thought.

The girls did beautifully traveling. I put a mirror in front of Addison which really entertained her, and took it away for nap time, =) Caiden entertained her sister when she got lonely, and sang her little heart out to cheer her up when she wanted to eat - 20 miles ago! Caiden's favorite way to pass the time was listening to my old Disney books on tape. That and little petting zoo animals, coloring, library books, and "I Spy" (like Where's Waldo but with tiny objects) books were big winners. Both of the girls were real troopers and we were very proud of both of them.
Every memory made has moments that we cherish close to our hearts. Mine include: listening to the girls laugh contagiously at each other in the back seat of the car (is there anything more beautiful to a parent's ears that their children loving each other?!), From his sick bed, Jeff telling me to go enjoy my family- (so sweet this man of mine!), watching my sisters love on my daughters, watching my Dad relax and be in the moment, fun moments of exploration, enjoying Tallullah Gorge with our little family, and picking berries. Caiden's favorites: finding a turtle on the top of the mountain, picking berries, swinging on the porch swing while Allie reads to her, and snuggling with Nana.
Addison enjoyed being OUT of the carseat, being held all the time, and seeing Daddy more than she's seen him in a few weeks.
Jeff's favorite moments? Well, I'll repeat the ones he has mentioned since we've been home: taking us to Tallullah Gorge, those two days he spent with my family was the most quality time he has had with them in the last four years, picking berries, four wheeling, enjoying being "disconnected" for a little while.
So, our adventure didn't quite take us as far as we planned, but it was lovely nonetheless. Thank you Jesus!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lists updated

Add:
Post about vacation
Finish book on homeopathy
Creatively get through upcoming week without Daddy.
Decide on lamp
Begin new blog?


Remove:
Preparing for interpreting job
Packing for vacation
Buy some homeopathics
Explore senses with C


In process:
Replacing elastic on Caiden's old FB for Addison
Planning Fall garden- currently mapping out sun in our suddenly shady backyard. The only all-day sunny spot is the only spot with nice grass in both the front and back...hmmm.

We had our first encounter with a naughty word today. Something startled Jeff in the yard, and he said, "What the heck was that?" Two seconds later Caiden mimicked him word for word. I was so shocked, I almost asked her what she said- but then quickly realized that would be unwise, and refrained. In that instant, time stood still momentarily. I found myself running through a series of choices in how I could respond: 1- freak out, 2. lecture, 3. ignore it, 4. laugh, 5. punish her, 6. yell at Jeff. I decided on #7- explain that ladies never use words like that because they are not nice words. Explain that Daddy made a mistake and that he will try to be better in the future. Explain that Mama and Caiden, and Addison and Cinderella (the clincher!) never use naughty words because we are ladies: we are polite, and kind, and sweet. A few minutes later I hear Caiden talking to herself: "I'm a lady so I never will say "what the heck..." I looked at her sidelong and held her gaze until she got my point. Then she said, " What the hiccup? Yes, that is a funny word, and not a naughty word. Mama, I was just talking about hiccups. It's okay" Lord have mercy- she's two...I wasn't expecting this for another few years!

Add: wash Jeff's mouth out with soap and have Caiden watch what happens to people when they use naughty words.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lists

I'm a list-person. It might even go beyond that. Really. I LOVE lists. I think I'm an addict. I will write things down on my list just to cross them off and enjoy the sense of accomplishment it brings. Lately however, my lists are overwhelming me. I have several going at the same time for different upcoming events: the week ahead, grocery, packing for vacation, summer to-do, learning items for C, calls to return, emails to reply to, books I want to read, things I'm studying/want to study. Yikes. It makes me want to crawl into my little house and hide. And I'm not even working right now! =) I think that's part of the problem. During the school year I put so many things off to do "during the summer" that my list is too full. It was a system that was successful when I was child-less, but I'm thinking I need a new system... =) Part of me is toying with the idea of making a list of the lists that need to go. I'm only partially kidding. List I said, I'm an addict. =0P

Here are some of my summer to-do's- what's on your docket?

1. replace the elastic on C's old diapers for Addison.
2. study up on, research cheapest buying options and invest in some homeopathic remedies
3. Explore the senses with Caiden
4. STudy for my NIC test (National Interpreter Certification)
5. Figure out a sleep schedule that syncs our entire family- I'm a night owl, Jeff's an early riser, how can I get things done and still have time for my hubby?
6. Healthy new menu items the whole family enjoys
7. Figure out bed/room/ decor for girls- move C into bunk beds, switch rooms?
8. Prepare for my interpreting job at a medical conference.
9. Plan/ plant garden for fall
10. Plan/shop/pack for Michigan vacation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

To Know or Not to Know- That is the Question

For "Mrs." who asked me to compare knowing the baby's sex before hand, vs. not knowing until the birth day. My apologies for it's disorganization. Sleep deprivation and breastfeeding are to blame-both of which come with the territory and which I wholeheartedly embrace during this season!)=)

As you know, during my pregnancy with Addison, when the notorious 20 week sonogram rolled around, we chose not to find out her sex- at least not out-right. Actually we compromised initially because I really didn't want to know the sex of the baby, as we had already experienced what it was like to know before-hand with Caiden. But, Jeff was of the opinion that if you can find out, why wouldn't you? So we decided to have the sonogram technician put the secret in an envelope and seal it. The original plan was to go out to dinner as a family and have Jeff open it and tell us. However when we got there Jeff shocked me with his willingness to leave The Envelope as the Keeper of the Secret. We were, after all, half way through the pregnancy. However, I was convinced that the secret would be out before the baby was, because, who has that kind of will-power?! I will say that we hid The Envelope from view so it wasn't a daily temptation.

Long story short, we made it! Jeff was supposed to announce the baby's sex at birth, but our Doctor/friend forgot and excitedly announced: "it's a girl". It's was a short proclamation in the midst of a symphony of sounds and exclamations. I'm surprised it even registered in my hormone inebriated brain and during the climax of the birthing process. I don't think either of us would have thought to look for a little while. There's just something magical about the moment your child makes their appearance, and in that moment, nothing else really matters. I remember the announcement being startling at the time, not because I was surprised of Addison's gender, but because I had gotten used to bonding with my baby without gender playing a role. It hadn't been a factor in the development of our relationship. All of a sudden, this little one that was so bonded to me already had a face, and then suddenly a gender, and her person began to take shape in my mind. She was no longer just an idea, or spirit, or One-Causing-Me-to-Grow, my precious child, my teammate in the birthing process, but she had a physical qualities that weren't factors in the budding of our relationship while she was in my womb. Does that make sense?
I don't remember it being that way with Caiden. With her, we did find out, and she was our "Sweet Baby Girl" from that point on. I'm glad we found out with Caiden, because she was our first, and the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth is so hard to wrap your mind around, but knowing that she was a girl made it seem more real and more tangible. She was always just Caiden- my little girl, we had struggled together to get her here safely, we had learned together what it meant to be pregnant and how to become a mother. We had bonded as mother and daughter before she arrived. I don't remember my view of her changing after her arrival. Part of that may also be that the sonogram pictures we got of Addison were not clear at all. (She was constantly moving, and wouldn't be still long enough to get a good picture.) So we didn't have that glimpse of her developing face and form like we had of Caiden. (Whose sonogram pictures were mindbogglingly clear and look just like her newborn pictures!)

Both Jeff and I agree that it was more fun NOT knowing "what we got" before hand. We like surprises, and it seemed fitting that after the challenging pregnancy, and all of the work we did to give her the best possible birthing experience we could, that we get a nice surprise for our efforts.

I think it was probably beneficial for us that we didn't know in advance, because we likely would have subconsciously expected her to be like Caiden, and she is nothing like her sister in any way. We didn't have any preconceived notions about who or what she would be. It was a clean slate, and I think it was rather nice to begin getting to know HER face to face.
Unlike some, we weren't able to come up with a name for our girls before they made their appearance, and in fact both of them received their middle names several days following their births. So that definitely wasn't a differing factor in knowing the gender or not.

On a superficial level, it was nice to have been able to pick out and set up the nursery in advance with Caiden, Addison's room still isn't finished. =) As far as clothing goes, we had enough gender-neutral gowns and onesies to make it through the first few days, so I wasn't worried about that much if we had had a boy. Maybe as a first time Mom that would have been more challenging- there are so many unknowns, it's nice to be able to be organize and "prepared"- at least in the material sense. The second time around all I was concerned about was having diapers- the rest we could figure out easily enough. =)

So which do I prefer? I think not knowing is super fun, but given the chance, I wouldn't have changed the way we did it with our girls. Both ways were perfect for us at the time. If I do this a third time I don't know what I'd do. I think I'll leave that for another day- I've got two beautiful girls who need their Mama right now. =)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some overdue pics of Addison's birth and early days

Sorry about the delay in getting pictures up. Hopefully these will make up for the lost time. My goal is to get some recent photos up this week. I may add more birth pics later as I'm at home now and I know that more are on Mom's computer. For now, enjoy our journey!

This was immediately following the push that gave me the first glimpse of my precious daughter. What bliss!

This was Jeff's first glimpse, and immediately after he kissed me and said, "you did it!" =) =)

Addison's first portrait, sporting her "fussy, poopy-baby" face. That is what Jeff labeled the grimace before the flood when Caiden was tiny...Addison showing off her rendition right from the get-go. ;)

I like this picture because this was immediately after I was stitched up- I had walked into my room and climbed in bed myself with my baby in tow. Far cry from my experience of Caiden's birth where I was groggy, in pain, and unable to really hold my baby without assistance.

Seven hours after her arrival, they noticed some problems, and took her to the NICU. I was still on my "I just gave birth naturally, I'm on top of the world" high and couldn't really sleep, so I joined her in the NICU. This was taken the next day after they put in an IV to give her antibiotics. Not my favorite picture, but documents our journey.

Addison's nickname now is "Smiley". This picture caught the beginning of her HUGE sleep smiles that stopped Doctors and nurses in their tracks. Now she stares at people until they look at her and then she flashes her huge smiles. It's so cute.

First day home- thank you Jesus!!

Just days old and she had already mastered the wide-eyed take-everything-in gaze. Those cheeks are so kissable!!!

Caiden was so excited to really meet her sister- even if it was a week later (children were not allowed in the NICU, so other than a quick introduction on Addison's birth-day, this was the first time she was able to touch and hold her little sister. They love each other more every day!

I'll try and post more on Monday. For now it's getting late, and we have a busy weekend ahead of us! Good night!

Monday, May 18, 2009

More blessings

179. For a new day and new mercies.
180. For a day of thunderstorms
181. For challah bread from Grandma that made delicious French toast this morning!
182. For new landscaping in the front yard
183. Nursing a baby to sleep
184. Watching my girls share the beginning of mutual sisterly love.
185. For pulling out Caiden's baby clothes for Addison and remembering when my big girl was tiny.
186. That we finally found a dresser on craigslist for Addison!
187. Two weeks left of school
188. Replanting the garden
189. For falling asleep last night to much needed rain.
190. Anticipating our vacation this coming weekend
191. Anticipating that God will provide the money we need to cover my insurance while I was on leave with the baby. Can't wait to see His creativity!!
192. For really good parenting talks and decisions with Jeff. Yeah for unity!
193. For our Sunday night laughs, fellowship, accountability and Bible study.
194. For watching my little girl play in the rain.
195. For 12 days/nights of potty training success!!
196. For our friend who babysits for us every week for free so we can have date night.
197. That money for date night appeared from an anonymous friend last week!!
198. For Jeff's wisdom in counseling/listening/loving on kids in our youth group.
199. For my khaki shorts being returned after their sojourn to TN.
200. That Addison is doing better in the car since we changed her car seat!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Grandmother's House We Go

Here are a few snapshots taken when we went to visit Big Grandma and Big Grandpa and G-Ma and Pi-Paw came to see us too! This is Big Grandma meeting Addison for the first time.


The sisters wore matching dresses that G-Ma bought them.





Special time with G-ma and Pi-Paw.




We didn't get one with Big Grandpa, but when we do I'll add those as well.

Happy Resurrection Day

Here are some family pics taken on Easter Sunday: not writing much because I figured that with the girls changing so rapidly pictures would be worth a thousand potential words... That and it takes so long to download pictures and I don't have much time- you know how it is! ;)



My sweet girls- what good sports they were!



Addison Hope at two months.


Daddy's girl in every way.


We had a lovely day celebrating God's gift to us of new life in Him. The sermon that morning was probably the best Easter sermon I've ever heard. So joyful!! The creation around us was vibrant with the new life of Spring, and we also celebrated Addison's first Easter with our family. Oh happy day!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Recent Caiden quotes




Overheard: "My sister can talk. She says, "guh".

One day in the car I pointed out azaleas and told her they come in red, pink, purple & white. Three days later we were driving again and she said" look Mama, azaleas! But just purple and white- not pink and red." (??!! Toddlers= steel trap!)

After asking her to help me with something, she said, "Mama, look at my eyes, look at my eyes (I obliged), do you see my hands? They are busy."

After a difficult bathroom trip, "Mama, I need more fiber."

When I told her our plans had changed and what we were going to do instead..."Actually, that's not a good solution."

After finding a particularly lovely daisy on our walk, "Thank you Jesus! This one is great!"