Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Time

Christmas time at our home is usually nice and quiet. There are probably lots of reasons for that this year, but mostly it is just how I like to roll with the Christmas thing. We go to the mall, not because we have to, but because it is funny to watch all the people. I order as much as humanly possible online, which is the best invention ever.

Every year it surprises me how frantic some folks get, and it makes me a little sad. I love just sitting down, listening to Christmas music (Red Mountain's Christmas cd...the fav this year), smelling my Christmas tree, thinking about Jesus. Sweetness!

The girls have really gotten into Christmas music this year. I love hearing Annelise say, "Mama, it's a Christmas song!" And then when the girls hear anything in the song about Jesus, angels, shepherds, stars, Mary, etc. they make a point of letting us know what they hear. Funny aside. The other day we went to Publix. The girls LOVE to grocery shop because they give all the kiddos a free cookie. Dave told them we were going, and said, "we are going to get a cookie from Miss Mary" (who usually works at the bakery on this particular day), and Hadleigh exclaims, "Mary and Jesus?" We then explained that this was a different Mary, so in the end HC said, "Oh, OK, there is Mary, and Miss Mary who gives us cookies at the grocery store." Right.
Anyway, we try to keep things simple around here. We went to one party, which was nice. And we took HC to see the Nutcracker, which was fun, except I really do not like ATL's version. I suppose that is what you get for growing up with a Grandmother who takes you to see the Nutcracker in NYC. For Christmas dinner, Dave cooked our traditional duck, which was AMAZING, and we had some friends over for dinner, which was fun. And now we are enjoying some quiet time at the house. Dave's office is closed until after New Years, so it is nice to have him around. And Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit tomorrow! That means the girls will have a real swingset in the backyard this weekend.

Here are some pics from our December. We went to our fav farm to cut down our Christmas tree, but then Dave opted for the NC grown cut tree in the end. Unfortunately, GA trees do not seem to smell as nice as NC trees. Ah well. The farm also lets you feed goats, so the girls had a blast doing that. I am also posting some pics from Christmas morning, and of the girls all dressed up for church on Sunday. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lions, and Tigers and Schools, Oh My!

Let me first just say, I have no idea what we are going to do when little miss HC hits kindergarten (which is a mere 20 months from now). We have some good options, which is great. The local elementary school is decent, at least according to GA standards, we have an amazing private classical school run by our church which I have always dreamed of my children attending, and then last, but not least there is always the option to home-school if the need arises.

Homeschool, I know, can you believe the words just slipped through my typing fingers? Believe it, or not, I was homeschooled. I know you find that weird since I am not a freakish-social outcast (at least most of the time I am what some would call normal). I think I am more shocked than all of you, because although I think my parents did a wonderful job, I always said I could never do that...and that is still mostly my thought.

As our family meandered through Wal-mart on Christmas Eve (not shopping, just browsing and watching everyone else scurry), I found a box of 10 Christmas puzzles. One of the F family traditions was putting together Christmas puzzles, so I immediately had to grab up the box. The box contained 2 puzzles with 100 pieces, 4 puzzles with 300 pieces and 4 puzzles with 500 pieces. As soon as we got home HC and I went to work on the 100 piece puzzle. She is amazing at puzzles, so I thought it would be super fun to put it together, together. So...5 minutes into the process, as I am trying to encourage her to not only turn all the pieces right-side-up, but also to separate the edge pieces from the middle pieces, I found myself growing frustrated.
Me: HC, please put all the pieces with an edge in THIS pile.
HC: With an edge?
Me: Yes, you see this? (as I run my finger along the straight side of the piece), all the pieces like THIS go over here. Can you find a piece with an edge?
HC: This one? (as she picks up a middle piece)
Me: Does that have a straight line, HC? (now a little more irritated)
HC: A straight line?
Me: Do you know what a straight line is?

Dave walks over and assesses the situation. He gives me a look, and I know what he is thinking...and you want to do this ALL the time? And I am thinking the same thing. How the hell do those crazy homeschool moms do it? But then we have such sweet moments while we sit reading "Charlotte's Web", and have made it through 100 pages in 1 sitting, and I think, I could do this all day!

Ah, another day in the M house, but I digress. So, we have lots of decisions before us regarding school, and one of my friends recommended that I read Susan Wise Bauer's book "The Well Trained Mind" which I promptly put on my book wish list and received for Christmas, thank you, Chris and Rubie! She is pretty much the super-star of the classical model for education, which I have always loved, and I pretty much devoured the book from cover to cover. There is so much good, amazing information in it, wow, I cannot say enough about it.

There is a chapter in the book entitled, "The Confident Child: Socialization", and it begins with this quote from H. McCurdy, "The Smithsonian Institution's recipe for genius and leadership: (1)children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents; (2)children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and (3)children should have little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives." I found this mildly amusing, but as I read the chapter, I was intrigued by some of her thoughts. One of her observations is that in large groups of same-age-peers, children learn to value the opinion of their peers, which can create a dependency on their classmates for approval, direction, and affection...HELLO please don't take me back to those awful teenage years. But upon reading this, I had a memory from when I was growing up. Now, I am not sure why this happened, I don't think it is necessarily because I was home-schooled, but I now think that certainly played a role.

I went to public school for kindergarten and then was home-schooled for 1st and 2nd grade, and then went back to the same public school for 3rd and 4th grade before my parents pulled me out again until high school. I remember in 3rd grade there were 2 children in my class that no one liked (who knows why, I remember that the girl was a little weird, and the boy had a weird name, well it wasn't weird, his name was Israel). After recess everyday, our class had to line-up in two lines before our teacher walked us back to class. For whatever reason no one wanted to be in line with either Andrea or Israel, and as soon as they would get in line, all my classmates would jump into the other line. All of my classmates except me. I always stood in line with them. I think I was mildly mocked for this choice, but for the most part no one bothered me about my decision.

When HC was born, and then Annelise, our prayers for them have been that they would never know a day without the Lord, and that she would grow to love all kinds of people. Part of that prayer, for me, was with that story in the back of my mind.

Now, I don't think homeschooling made me a nice person, actually, I don't often think of myself as a nice person. Dave is nice, I am a little too fiery to be nice. But after reading this book, I wondered if being at home for those 2 years gave me the confidence to do the right thing, at age 8, and to treat those children as image-bearers of God.

Don't know, but I continue to pray that no matter where my children go to school, they will have the confidence and the foundation to do the right thing. And now I am off to read my other Chistmas book, which is a bit lighter, "My Life in France" (Julia Child's memoir).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Best Neighborhood Ever

I know I have mentioned this before, but we truly live in the best neighborhood ever, and I am so thankful. I will often think over the process of buying a home and how we struggled over where we should settle down. I still will occasionally drive down to East Lake or the Old Fourth Ward and think, man it would be SO cool to live here...but then I drive back to my neighborhood and remember that I truly live in the best place.

This is a picture from our kids Christmas oarty a couple weeks ago. The kids gather to make ornaments that are animal friendly (for birds and squirrels) and then we go and decorate the Christmas tree in our square. It was so fun (and chaotic) to have all the kids around, but it is nice to think about the girls growing up with other neighborhood children, what a blessing. In fact, our next door neighbor will have her first baby in March and I look forward to a few years down the road when we will need to cut a hole in the fence for everyone to run back and forth. We also hope to import another few friends with kiddos onto our end of the square, but we are still praying that one into reality.

This past Friday the women gathered for our monthly Bunco party. Instead of Bunco we had a Christmas feast and played "Dirty Santa". I had such a wonderful time gathering with women who really and truly care about one another. We come from all different backgrounds, young, old, single, married, etc, and though we do not know each other as much as we might like, there is a general atmosphere of caring for those who are struggling and celebrating with those who are rejoicing. What a blessing. I am so thankful to the Lord for directing our paths, even though it is not as cool a place as I thought I might like to live...it is just where we need to be.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fav Christmas Mem Thus Far

I love Christmas! Someone asked me the other day if I loved Christmas, and although I do, I had to pause and say, well now, it depends on what you mean by that? If you mean going out with the crowds, standing in massive lines, searching for that one gift that will make life worth living...NO. Not only do I not like that version of Christmas, but I refuse to participate in it! I like to point a click when I am shopping for Christmas.

However if you mean, making cookies, sending and receiving Christmas cards, sitting in my living room and smelling my REAL Christmas tree while listening to Harry Connick Jr and putting ornaments on our Jesse Tree, well, by all means, I LOVE Christmas.

This is our second year following the Jesse Tree readings. We tried it last year and it didn't last, the girls were just a little too young, but this year it has been awesome. Beginning the first night of advent and continuing through Christmas, we put a special ornament on a special tree called the Jesse Tree. Each ornament has a symbol that corresponds to a passage of scripture, and this basically takes you from Creation through the birth of Jesus. I love it for many reasons...one being that sometimes we American Christians think that Christianity started with the first Billy Graham crusade. We tend to throw out any tradition or song that wasn't written in the last year. And we also tend to forget that Jesus was ALWAYS God's plan, from the beginning. There are not two different stories, old testament and then new. It is all one story and the Jesse Tree helps us see Jesus through all of scripture. Love it!

So, onto my fav Christmas memory to date. Every year Intown has "Lessons and Carols". There are nine readings and nine Christmas carols sung. It is such a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas, I think. The music is always amazing and hearing the passages of scripture in between as we lead up to Christ's birth is awesome. Every year we have brought Hadleigh to worship with us when they have the Lessons and Carols. She loves music and always enjoys coming with us, yesterday was no exception. But a really fun thing happened yesterday, she was really listening. She listened to the words of the songs and to words of scripture. Her eyes would get really big and she would say, "Naked Mama! Adam and Eve were naked!" OK, that was more comical than anything, but was listening and knew all the stories, not just from our readings in the Jesse Tree, but just from reading scripture to her at other times. It was really cool to see, she is beginning to get it. It all made my heart glad. Not only to hear the truth of Jesus' birth sung and read, but to know that Hadleigh is beginning to see and understand the truth herself. What a great Christmas gift!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In the Middle

I am not a girly girl. Maybe compared to some, but not to others. I don't care about shoes (though from time to time considered buying a pair of red ones). I actually think I might care about shoes if I had different feet. My feet are ridiculously narrow, and long. I wear size 9. Ever heard of a 9 narrow? That is because they don't exist. When I wear sneakers I have to pull the laces so tight that the sides of the shoe come together in the middle. I cannot wear sandals unless they are backless because the strap will never stay on my heel. So, I don't buy shoes.

I actually do not like to shop, it makes me tired and I have to know what I want when I walk in, otherwise it puts me in a bad mood. The only store I don't have to have an agenda in is Ann Taylor...I love it! Growing up I think I had a good mix of getting dirty and getting dressed up. I spent a summer in Africa with a suitcase that weighed 32 pounds (you cannot bring a lot with that weight limit, trust me). I think I washed my hair once a week. I also went my whole senior year of high school without shaving my legs. These days I do tend to shave more than once a year and I take a shower everyday (in case you are worried).

All this to say, I find it hard to expect my girls will by girly. It will be fine if they are, but it will not be because I have encouraged it to them. I never bought them anything smocked, we don't have anything with their name or initials emboidered on it...it's just not my thing. So far we have steered WAY clear of the whole princess thing. I am not at all sad about that one. Again, if they want it, it will be fine, but happy to avoid.

This fall was the first season that I was able to pick out all of HC's clothes. Since she was born we have been the grateful recipients of hand-me-downs. Love it, it's been great, but they have slowed down and I actually enjoyed getting to choose the clothes myself (at a consignment sale, no less, and I was in and out in 30 minutes). The thing is I did not buy her any play dresses. She has some pretty dresses for church, but I have never considered sending her to school in a dress. Don't you sit on the floor and play on the playground? Why would you want to wear a dress? OK, so recently HC has asked to wear a dress to school. I am still shocked at this, but I am trying to be a supportive mama.

Today I ran out to a couple stores to try to find a couple cheap play dresses that she can wear with leggings underneath and we don't have to worry about ruining it with paint or glue or whatever they might do at school. I seriously went to 3 stores and only found 1 dress. This was partly because of my price range, but partly because they store did not have anything that I thought was suitable. HC is really no longer in the toddler section of clothing anymore. I can still occassionaly find a size 5 in a toddler dress, but she is in the regular girl section now. And those clothes were NOT suitable for a 3 year old. My 3 year old is not a rocker, she does not have an attitude (well she does, but we try to correct that), and she doesn't watch High School Musical. I just want something that is cute and blue, or green, or pink, and maybe has a flower on it or polka dots. Just something that a little girl would wear. Or maybe I should say, something that I will allow my little girl to wear.

I know, I am weird, freak. I just thought that I would have to start worrying about this in middle school when we are swim-suit shopping and I have to explain, "sorry honey, you cannot wear a bikini." Blah! Maybe for now I can use this as an excuse to shop at more expensive stores...we'll see what Dave thinks.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Psalm 86:10-12

You are Great
and do marvelous deeds
You alone are God
Teach me your ways O Lord
And I will walk in your truth
Give me an undivided heart
That I may fear your name
I will praise you O Lord, my God
I will glorify your name forever

One Sunday this past summer this was our call to worship. After we read it in worship I decided to memorize it with the girls. I just love this passage of scripture. This summer I was also really struggling with teaching Hadleigh to pray. That is not really something you want to ram down your children's throat, but I also thought I should encourage her. She is sometimes timid about things, and especially when it involves talking in front of people, so then I had a great idea...to use sscripture to teach her to pray. That gives her words that she already knows to use as a prayer. And wow, what better teacher than God's word itself. So at bedtime and then at random meal times or during the day I would pray the above passage. And finally I convinced her to begin saying the passage with me as a prayer. This evening as I was tucking the girls into bed Hadleigh exclaimed that it was her turn to pray and she prayed Psalm 86.10-12. Annelise repeated along with Hadleigh, because Annelise cannot be left out of anything! It was so sweet.

I think I am going to start looking for more passages like this one that we can all learn together and pray as a family, but for now, it is Psalm 86.10-12 and I cannot think of a better prayer to have at this point.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thankful for the Good Samaritans

A few weeks ago in our Sunday fellowship we talked about the parable of the Good Samaritan, and it has provoked MANY discussions ever since. The first thing that was interesting to me was when the teacher pushed us to think about the hero of the parable. The hero was the Samaritan, of course. Well, of course I know that, but to the original listeners of the parable it was offensive to have a Samaritan as a hero. So, the teacher encouraged us to think about who might be an offensive hero these days. I came up with jack squat while I was sitting there, but since, I have decided that if Jesus was telling a story and instead of making the pastor or the deacon the hero he made Richard Dawkins (author of "The God Delusion") the hero, I would be REALLY offended. This new thought has given me more fuel for thinking about this parable.

Looking at this parable for the last couple weeks has been difficult for me. I have become really good at rationalizing things. Recently I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Cost of Discipleship". Wowee, that was a great reread, but as he goes through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and even the Parable of the Good Samaritan, he beats down how often we rationalize our motives and the needs of our world. I don't have time...I don't have the resources...I don't know what to say...I am scared...Someone else would be better at that... Dude, no one would ever help anyone if we all stayed there. Bottom line is being a Good Samaritan costs me something. Sometimes it costs me things I do not think I have. Sometimes it costs me my safety. Sometimes it costs me my comfort. Actually I am going to change that to ALL THE TIME. If it doesn't cost me, then I am probably not a Good Samaritan. Dave and I have spent a lot of time talking about what this means for us and our family, but the minute we stop taking risks is the minute that we have failed to live in light of the gospel.

With all of these discussions I keep coming back to two main thoughts...well, I suppose one is a thought and one is a story. I have a college buddy who spent some time in Calcutta, India, working in Mother Theresa's House of the Dying. I remember him talking about walking down the street and literally having to step over dying or dead bodies. Wow, that does not generally happen in my little area of Atlanta. One of the things he told me was how overwhelmed he felt because he could not help everyone, literally he could not. But he reminded me that neither did Jesus. Jesus did not heal every blind, deaf and lame man that he met, but he did heal some. My friend concluded that one of the things he could do was to give every person the dignity of being human. That means he would look every beggar in the eye and give a nod or a smile. He might not give everyone money, but he was going to acknowledge their humanity. How stirring to remember that! That is the very thing that I often do not do. I want to ignore people, I would rather NOT see them, but in doing that I am taking away their humanity.

My story centers around my most recent encounter with a Good Samaritan. I recently traveled to Cali with the girls and I flew alone. For anyone who has ever done this...I commend you. It is not easy to do, and I honestly cannot think about doing it again for a while. One thing Dave always mentions as he sends me on my way through security is, "if you need help, find a soldier". Of course in the Atl there is no shortage of soldiers. Delta's main hub is Atlanta and is also a main carrier for soldiers, so there are always many of them in the airport. So here I am slowly winding my way through the airport. I have the double stroller with both car seats piled on top of the stroller. The girls are walking behind me, holding hands and we make it to the gate. The last part of the journey onto the plane is usually intense because I now have to get everything down the jetway and onto the plane. As soon as I pulled up to the gate I spotted my Good Samaritan a major in the Army, and I knew he was going to help me. What do you know, but as soon as they announce boarding he is by my side asking if he can help me. He pushed my stroller with all my junk, while I was able to handle the girls, and he told me all about his 6 year old twins. He helped me to my seat, looked me in the eye and was on his way. About 30 minutes into the flight there was a medical emergency and a call for a doctor or a nurse. I did not know what was happening, but I turned to the woman next time me and said, there is a major on board, I bet you money he is back there to help. I was right. At some point during the flight I headed back to the bathroom with both girls and we all squeezed into the tiny space (for tips on how to do that talk to me later...it is a science). As I squeezed out, there sat the major with the woman who was sick. She seemed to be better, but he was sitting beside her telling her stories and keeping her company. When he caught my eye and he saw me with my girls he said, "You are my hero". I am assuming that he was talking about going into that bathroom with 2 small children, which while I will not minimize the difficulty, is not difficult in the scheme of life. I laughed and said, "Well, you are mine." He serves me, my girls and our country everyday, and even when he is on an airplane to go visit his family he is still serving all those around him, giving them dignity, and seeing them as the people they are. I aspire to be this kind of Samaritan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fun in the Leaves

I love the fall. Here are some good family fun we had in the leaves a couple weekends ago.

Annelise's Big Girl Bed

About a month ago Annelise moved into her big girl bed! Isn't it beautiful? Dave worked on it while we were out in California and Annelise was so excited to see it upon arriving home. She has done a great job staying in it. Of course I know it is only a matter of time before she begins to get out. I do feel like the time change is on my side, because it is completely dark when the girls go to bed. I think that is going in my favor.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Birthday Sweet Annelise

Today is my sweet Annelise's 2nd birthday. I remember she was born at 10.18am on November 2, 2007, after 16 ridiculous long hours of labor. I remember the 10.18 part because when they said 10.18 I thought they were refering to her weight (nevermind that there are only 16 oz in a pound). My nurse kept telling me she was going to be big, so it was an honest mistake.

Her name, Annelise Louise, means full of grace and favor and warrior. That seems to suit her very well. She is full of grace, is favored be many that she meets and is a little warrior (just try convincing her she doesn't want something!).
Everyone loves Annelise. She is a very loving, cuddly little girl, and is always giving hugs and kisses to teachers, nursey workers, friends, and of course us. Last week as we were leaving the nursery she ran back (on her own accord) to give kisses to the two workers. She loves giving kisses on both cheeks and if you do not know this she will take your face in her hands so she can deliver the two kisses.

For the most part she is a very easy going child, but she is also very determined when she decides something. I think that has some advantages and we are enjoying this stage of her life. Socially she seems to thrive. She is speaking in full sentences and is fairly easy to understand, and is singing along to songs and repeating her verses with Hadleigh.
This month we transitioned her to a big bed (I need to post pictures of the bed Dave made for her) which has been a huge success. She has not climbed out yet, but then again the getting out of bed seemed to come later for Hadleigh too. I have no doubt she will crawl out of bed at some point. She has only fallen out of bed once, even though Dave did buy a rail for her bed. She was sleeping down by the foot of her bed and so was unprotected. Since that fall I have been going in to check on the girls before I go to sleep, this is a new habit for me, Dave and I usually never go in there unless we hear loud sobs. But I figure it is a preventative measure to make sure everyone is positioned in their beds correctly. Dave thinks it is funny, but I would rather check them at 8.30 while I am awake than at 1.30 in the morning.

Annelise LOVES baby dolls. She also loves many of the things that her big sister likes, like cars and trucks, but her very own love is baby dolls. This is a new one for me, but it is sweet and very fun. She also LOVES apples. This has been great because we get a lot of apples every week in our CSA basket, and she has been devouring them.
She is becoming more and more independent. When she goes to the bathroom she wants to turn on and off the lights and flush the toilet. She still has some issues with getting her pants down, but she is moving in the right direction. She loves to put her shoes on by herself, and to pick out her outfit (although I am still a bit controlling about that issue).

Annelise is also obsessed with drinking. She loves juice, and would go through a gallon a day if I allowed it. She refuses to drink water and I have not pushed it thus far. But I am thinking about seriously rationing her consumption. She is so willful that I'd rather not have that fight, and she does seem to need a good amount of liquids to keep her regular, so for now I look for the juice on sale!
I'll post more about Annelise's sweet birthday festivities later, but for now, Happy Birthday My Sweet Lieska!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fun with Tink and Giraffe

This year we had a super fun time with fall and Halloween activities. We had our annual Halloween costume party at playgroup this past week. It was a mad house as always, but fun to see all the kids all dressed up. We also took the obligatory annual photo to remember the madness. It is always chaos trying to get the shot and as I was scrolling through them I was wondering why we torture ourselves trying to get everyone to smile. Ah well. You can follow the chaos below.
And then for extra fun, we had some friends over tonight for some chili and cornbread and fixings and then a stroll around the neighborhood. The kids had a fab time, and I actually enjoyed myself too!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Jack and Annelise walking to the park with Uncle Chris and Auntie Rubie (they were actually holding hands until I broke out the camera)
One fun thing about being in Cali these last couple weeks was the time that Hadleigh and Annelise got to spend with their cousins Matt and Jack. Actually Annelise is really just beginning to pay attention to other kids, so she did not really care about her cousins, but Hadleigh and Matt were fun to watch. We only overlapped for a couple of days, but they seemed to remember each other right away...one nice thing about my kids getting older is that they remember people!
Hadleigh and Matt (right before he had to leave)
On the way to my parents' house from the airport, Mom mentioned that Matt said he wanted chase Hadleigh around the house. In my head I wondered how that would go over with Hadleigh, and I wondered what she thought of the statement, but I figured we would find out soon enough. We ended up driving up the coast to the house because of course the 405 is a nasty mess these days, and Hadleigh got a little motion sick. I was trying to comfort her, and suggested that as soon as we got to the house she could lie down a rest. And withought missing a beat she said, "but Mama, Matt has to chase me!" OK, apparently she was not feeling THAT bad!
lots of movement from the little ones, you can see Jack is NOT happy about being held
My favorite memory of them together is of Matt and Hadleigh singing "If You Are Happy and You Know It". So cute. They were facing each other, singing back and forth and taking turns saying what they had to do...if you are happy and you know it stomp your feet...scratch your face (?)...bop your head...jump on one leg...so cute. And they were laughing hysterically while they sang. It was the best thing ever.
Matt and Hadleigh
Apparently when Karina told Matt they were leaving (after a weekend of fun), he began to cry. So sweet! Hadleigh does not really get leaving yet, but she definitely asked where Matt was throughout the rest of our stay.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Girls Take Disney

The girls and I just got back from Cali. Mom celebrated her 60th birthday and we decided, we should fly out and help her par-tay! The whole fam was able to be there, except Dave...sorry dude! After everyone left Mom and I decided to brave Disneyland. It had actually been 9 years since I was last there, and I thought this might be a good opp to take the girls.
We loaded up the girls on a rainy, Wednesday morning and hit the road. Inspite of the rain, we actually made good time to the park (usually rain and Cali drivers = traffic nightmare). It was definitely raining by Cali standards, but was more of a sprinkle by Atl standards. The sun did come out a couple times, but by the end of the afternoon we were more or less wet, and I was happy to have a change of clothes waiting for us in the car. I thought the rain would deter folks from coming out, but no such luck. It was pretty crowded for being a rainy Wednesday in October.
We had a good in any case. THe word was that we better hit the "new" Nemo ride first because the wait tends to be long, and since Hadleigh loves Nemo I thought that would be a good choice. The only problem was that we stopped letting HC watch Nemo because it was too scary and she was having nightmares about sharks. Soo...of course the ride was a little scary, in my opinion, for little kids, and now HC is talking about how she saw a shark, and it was "a little, little scary". Ah well...dumb Disney.
Since neither girl knew many of the characters they were more excited about riding the cars and trains then any of the kiddo rides. We did "It's a Small World" twice, and they just LOVED every minute of that one. As we ate lunch we were within sight of "the flying elephant" (Dumbo) and the carousel. Both Hadleigh and Annelise could harldy contain themselves. We jumped on Dumbo, Mom and Hadleigh in one and me and Annelise in another. Oddly enough it was Annelise who did NOT want to go high, and was happy to get out of the elephant. HC wanted to ride again, but when I asked Annelise, she said, "No".
We jumped on the carousel, and HC was thrilled to find a horse with an orange saddle. We got the girls on horses side by side and everything was fine until the horses began to move. Annelise was crawling off the horse onto my head screaming. Interesting.
We managed to go on a couple other rides before the ultimate meltdown. The girls did fairly well all in all, but they were exhausted when we got home, as was I. Glad we did it. Annelise has a Mickey doll and a Minnie shirt, and HC has a Pooh Bear and a Tinkerbelle shirt to show for their efforts...thanks Nana!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Miss Hadleigh Claire is 3 1/2

OK, she is one month older than 3 1/2, but close enough. We have had some great times with the little miss recently. Hadleigh continues to be more and more helpful, which always amazes me. I guess it is surprising to realize how much she can help me these days. She goes to the bathroom completely by herself...YA! She completely dresses herself and can pick out her own clothes, though I still like to supervise at times. She can totally get ready for her nap, including putting on her diaper. And then there is all the stuff she does to help me around the house. She puts all the silverware away, she loves helping me with the wash and with dusting and vacuuming. She can buckle herself into her car seat. The other day when I was getting the girls' lunches ready, I called for them to come to the table. They both climbed into their seats, and then Hadleigh jumped down to help push Annelise's chair up to the table. "There you are, Annelise, " sh exclaimed, "is that too tight?" It was so sweet, and so helpful.

With all the helpfulness comes the constant complaining...will it ever go away? Oi vey! One day, I hope that will be gone because it is hard for me to handle calmly.

Hadleigh LOVES being outside, and is always asking to play on her big wheel, which has been our new fun activity...when it is not raining here in the Atl. She has finally figured out how to use petals...that seemed to be beyond her for a while, but she has it mastered now.

She still loves everything that is mechanical and moves, cars, trucks, planes, etc. I love it. She is a pretty regular kiddo, and not into anything too girly, which is fine with me. I am not a particularly girly girl, so it all works out. Maybe one day I will want to "do" her hair, or some other such thing, but for now I love the fact that I do not even have to brush it in the morning. Yea! Hadleigh also loves animals and bugs. It is fun to go on walks and look for crickets and worms and bees and dogs and cats, and birds. Yesterday she came home with a picture she had drawn at preschool. She told me that it was birds flying over the ocean and stars. It actually looked mostly like what she described, so it was fun to see what she is choosing to draw when she has time.

Of course she also loves her friends at school and playgroup. They have such fun together and it is so sweet to see her caring about them. She is also doing a fabulous job of memorizing the catechism and corresponding verses. We are enjoying family worship time and teaching her songs and truths from the Bible. I am always surprised with what her little mind remembers, it is amazing. We usually go over a cople catechism questions a week and on the second day I asked her, "Who wrote the Bible" and was about to help her repeat the answer when she piped up, "Chosen men who wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." Wow...I was SHOCKED, and then of course told her she was amazing, because she is. I wish I had a mind like a steel trap! ANd now I hear her up from her nap, so I must run. I love my little Hadleigh girl!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Elf is 23 Months

I obviously missed my monthly update in September. I really think that Labor Day, schooling beginning and my birthday threw me off entirely. I should continue blaming things like, then it was the CRAZY rain/floods here in the ATL and last week we had a bit of the flu. Swine flu, you ask? Possibly. We did not go to the doctor, but most of my friends seem to indicate that if it is the flu, it is prob the swine flu. Not too worry, it wasn't as bad as all the media hype. I was a bit surprised that when I called our doc he told us not to come in (that is of course unless they started having real issues), but I was happy to not make the trek, besides all he would have done was take a swab and then tell me what kind of flu they had. I'll keep my co-pay to myself thanks. Anyway, the girls are all healthy now, and I am happy to have that behind us.
So, Annelise is 1 month shy of being 2 years old. That is incredible to me! She is such a big girl now. This morning she was counting to 10. What? She knows that A is for Annelise. All of these things I think she has picked up from Hadleigh, because the Lord knows I have not had time to sit down with her and teach her these things. She just picks up things here and there. That is just fine with me. I am not a big teacher, I just want the girls to learn by doing different things.

Annelise has become quite a singer. Now she has been leading our family worship time. She has three that she likes to begin with, "Hallelujah-Praise ye the Lord", "Ho, Ho, Ho, Hosanna", and "Glory Be to the Father." It is super sweet when she begins the songs. I just LOVE it! She also knows what songs we know from memory and when we need our makeshift songbook. She insists we look at the words for some songs.
cooking with Grandma
All is well on the potty-front, and I cannot remember the last time she had an accident. Yea!

She is enjoying nursery and school (which she attneds 1 day a week). When I pick her up she always has a smile on her face, and when I ask her what she did, she exclaims, "FRIENDS!" Today she was talking about someone particular and I could not figure out the name she was using, so I need to look at the roster to see who is in her nursery class.

Yesterday morning I took Annelise for a walk and Dave took Hadleigh to the market. When Hadleigh returned the girls ran to each other and gave each other a big hug. It was super sweet and I am so glad that they feel that way toward each other.
Annelise is a pro on the phone. This is a great skill, and one that HC has not really developed yet. But Annelise LOVES to talk to Dave, and yesterday even talked to Nana with some coaching. She is a great little communicator and is great at answering questions.

Another fun thing is that Annelise is really getting into cooking with me. She wants to get her hands dirty and help me make most everything. I love it (mostly), though it does take longer. We made chicken toes the other day, and Annelise was in charge of stirring the chicken in the cornflakes...she did a great job, my main concern was her touching things with her raw chicken hands...don't touch your mouth!!! Ugh!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Happy October!

October is my favorite month of the year. The weather is awesome, the leaves change colors, we get to open windows and put on pants (not just because it is cold in the ac). And of course, Dave and I got married in October, HAPPY 6th Anniversary!
This month is going to be particularly busy. Dave is going on a flyfishing trip with a buddy, I am taking the girls to Cali for a visit, and lots of things in between. So we needed to go ahead and squeeze in our family fun trip to pick pumpkins this weekend. For the last three years, we have gone to the same farm in north Georgia. It is a small, family farm, so it is not as overwhelming as Burt's Farm. They offer a hayride for $2 and you get to stop and feed the fish in the pond, which is always a big treat for the girls. They have loads of different varieties of pumpkins and are always on hand to answer questions, like what kind makes the best pumpkin pie. I did buy one pie pumpkin, but am also trying a new variety that the owner suggested. She said it is unbelievable...we will see!
I also enjoy it because it is a "small" operation, and we are not surrounded by crowds of folks. I am sure it does get crowded at some point, but not first thing on a Friday morning. Last year we were the first folks there, right at 9am.

It was a fun morning out and the girls really enjoyed every minute.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


I love to cook, which should be no surprise to anyone who reads this blog. The wonderful thing is that Dave loves to cook too, and he is a GREAT cook. If he ever offers to cook you a meal, cancel all prior engagements because you will not want to miss it.

Even though I enjoy cooking I seem to get burned out occasionally, and about a month ago I hit that place. Ugh. I hate that, since I spend a majority of my days in the kitchen. Anyway, there have been a couple of fun things that we have done that has revived my enthusiasm for cooking.

The first was that my playgroup did a meal swap. What fun! We divided into two groups, and my group had 5 ladies. We each decided on a meal that could be frozen and swapped, so I ended up with 4 new meals in my freezer. Awesome! I have used one meal a week for the past couple of weeks. TOnight, I am cooking the chili bake, and making corn muffins and beans to go along with it. ANd I still have one more meal that I can use next week. It also gave me some fun ideas of things that I like that I rarely if ever make...like jambalaya...yummy.

The second thing I did was join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture...I think?) group. I am super pumped about this. Every week I get to run to a local pick-up place and get a bag of veggies that was picked from a local organic farm the day before. The thing is, actually, I am not so into the organic thing...after doing some research on it...but the local thing I am super pumped about. And of course everything is in season. This past week I picked up some things that I have NEVER cooked with, like mustard greens (I actually did not even know what they were) and eggplants. So, when I got home I started planning my meals for the week, and decided on Baby Lima Bean Soup with Mustard Greens, Peas and Onions Dave made it on Friday. Hello! Yum! He did doctor it a bit, but I think only added another cup of limas and a cube of veg boullion. It was awesome. Tomorrow I am having some little friends come over and help me make Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka.

I have also been making bread, which is a fun little hobby. I need expand my abilities here, but I am enjoying it. OK, the buzzer is going off, I need to check on my corn muffins!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

About Belize

I should finish the cheese sauce that I am making for my lentil coriander lasagna tonight. And I should also clean the kitchen from making cookies with the girls yesterday, and then of course there is also the situation of my desk which has blown up since Dave took over it a couple days ago. Scanning massive amount of paperwork and looking through past years of business reports trying to make sense of all the numbers. I might be crazy, but our last accountant did some WEIRD things with our quarterly reports. I swear I could have done a better job with the numbers…and then someone can pay me $175 an hour. Sweet! And you know I am worth every penny. My mom used to say that no one could afford me. I think she was trying to make me feel better when my second year out of college I was still below the poverty line. Ah well, here’s to being young and poor.

SO, while I do have other things to do, I thought I would finally write up a little note about our trip to Belize, yea that was over 6 weeks ago. But, we’ve been busy.

I think in some ways it is hard to sum up how the trip was. It was very different from every other mission trip I have ever been on for many reasons. The first reason is that we went alone, as a family. We were not with a team, so there was not that crazy, energy, excited that bounces off everyone. I think that is not a bad thing, and it is not always realistic to life. Like, when do you ever spend every waking moment with 6 other individuals for a week, doing something that is purposeful in a unique environment? It is just not reality. I do a lot of really unique and purposeful things everyday (good grief, I am a Mom) and I rarely do them with 6-10 other people who are pumped to be there. It might be fun if I did…but actually after day 3 I would probably be irritated.

So, in some ways for me, while we were in fact in another country, what I did everyday was not any different than what I do everyday. Of course, I do not normally spend hours smothering my children in sun block, Burt’s Bees (insect repellent), and powder before we walk outside to sweat to death, and swat off mosquitoes. I know, you think I am speaking of August in Atlanta, but I assure you…Atlanta has nothing on Belize. There were definitely adventures to be had…like staring into the refrigerator and trying to figure out how to make meals from scratch with only 2 pans and a cook top. Things got really creative and that was loads of fun.

The clinic in Patchakan is on a great piece of land, probably a couple acres on the main road in the village. Behind the clinic there is a lot of green space and shade and two little house, one blue and one yellow. We stayed in the blue house which had a screened in porch, 3 bedrooms, a bathroom and nice kitchen/living room area. It was had 2 working fans. Nice. I LOVE fans. The girls and I spent most of our mornings in the house, or out in the yard chasing the random cats and chickens, or being chased by some rabid geese. When it got too hot or we were tired of the mosquitoes it was back inside to read, play blocks, or play on cushions and mattresses. The nice thing is the girls were so young they are pretty good travelers. They knew we were in Belize, but it did not really affect our routine. I keep saying, goodness having two girls this age is hard no matter if I am in Atlanta or in Belize, so I might as well go to Belize!

Dave began working in the clinic in the morning. He was able to do a lot of preventative work, which he was really happy about. It’s a bummer to go somewhere and only pull out people’s teeth. It was encouraging to know that these folks actually want their teeth and that there is a chance to help educate them on better cleaning practices. The clinic services a mostly Mayan population which while not destitute were certainly too poor to go to a dentist in town. It is kind of the same idea as non-profit health clinics here in the states, like Good Samaritan. The clinic is Christian and is run by Belizean staff. They have a chaplain, an administrator, nurses, the whole works. We took our lunches with the clinic staff which was fun for me and the girls. Annelise LOVED the clinic administrator, Pamela, and called her “Lalela”. Everyday after lunch Pamela would take Annelise outside to pet the cat and play. It was a nice break for all of us. Hadleigh was too shy to go most days.

Since the clinic was yards away from our house, and because there was only one dental chair Dave had a light schedule and was able to come back to the house between patients to check on us. He was always finished at 4 and then we had the rest of the evening to ourselves.

We had a special blessing while we were in Patchakan. Two other teams of folks were also in the village with MTW that week. One team from Houston, and one from Yazoo City, MS were there to do some light construction work and then they ran a Vacation Bible School in the afternoon. The church was 4 blocks away from the clinic, so in the afternoon I walked the girls down to the church to participate in the VBS. It was great fun for them to have some time to interact with the Belizean children. This was one of the things that we desire for them, and it was awesome to see how the Lord worked out some of these little details for us. What a blessing. By the end of the week, even Hadleigh had made a couple of friends. On the last day they walked hand in hand into the church for the last song and prayer. What fun!

The final blessing for me was that the MTW missionaries and the clinic staff seemed to truly understand why we would want to come as a family and really encouraged us in our desire to continue these trips. Sometimes I think we were crazy to go to Belize with our girls, but when I look at the big picture I know what the Lord has put on our hearts, and so we must continue to work toward that. It was just nice for me to have people affirm us, and encourage us to continue. It is important, and valuable. We want to experience God’s church all throughout God’s world and we want to do it as a family. And that is not weird, although sometime I think it is.

We were blessed and challenged by the believers in Patchakan, and I look forward to going back soon. Maybe when it is not so hot! Thanks to everyone who made it possible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Windows...What to Do

In honor of all the efforts to be green, we are getting new windows. Actually I care nothing about being green...or rather, I was green LONG before it was cool. I remember being in elementary school and sorting through cans and bottles and magazines and boxes and newspaper. Then after we sorted everything we would lug it down to the local recycle place and they would pay you 1 penny/can or something like that. We always watched how much water we used because we lived in California, but this was all even before being green became cool there. I suppose we were green because my mom grew up on a farm, and that is REALLY green. OK, enough about that.
So, our house is old, which is cool, I like old houses. But we are trying to make everything more efficient, so earlier this year we put in some new insulation which was SUPER cool. And now, the new project is new windows. Our current ones are 40 years old, and last winter we felt a steady breeze through many of them (even after Dave weather stripped everything). So, yea, we need new windows.

The problem is that getting new windows seems to open a huge can of worms because there are all these options. So, now we are trying to determine what kind of windows we should get based upon what we think we want our house to look like in the future... So here's your chance to weigh in. The trim on the house needs to go, so we want to paint the trim/gutters, but are not sure what color. Thoughts? And then based upon that, what color should our outside windows be? Gray? Black? White? Cream? There are like 20 colors to choose from.

I think we are going to have to hire a professional, but if you have an opinion we would LOVE to hear it. Help!