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Friday, December 30, 2011

Tid Bits

It's strange to think that this is the last post of 2011... I suppose a Tid-Bits post is appropriate, but I have to just say that I am one incredibly blessed mother. Life is good.

I love that when Addie is happy, she says "I haf 'appy feet! See?" and proceeds to stomp around. She does it daily. Love it.

I love that Ellie is starting to understand the concept of Santa having "helpers" who dress up and pretend to be him, but the way she asks about it cracks me up. "Mommy? That Santa isn't human, is he? Right?"

I love how Addie gets incredibly quiet when she's tired. She'll nod to answer "yes" but beyond that, the only response you'll get from her is a blank stare.

I love to see how proud Ellie is to hand over Christmas presents that she bought with her OWN money to those she loves. MAGIC.

I love how when Addie comes home, she goes up to the Christmas tree and rearranges a few bulbs. Our tree has subtle changes every day.

I love watching Addie and Ellie give each other hugs and kisses before parting ways at school. Addie has even begun to say "I love you, Lee-elle." Sigh. Melt my heart.

There are certain dresses that the girls have that are super soft (velvet, perhaps)? They love to wear dresses, but in particular these ones. I'm sure it has something to do with Mommy claiming that she just can't help herself... she just HAS to hug them if they're wearing something so soft. And she just can't stop hugging them and may never let them go. It's not my fault. They're THAT soft.

I am so blessed to have two girls who do not hesitate to say they're sorry if they accidentally hurt someone. Sure they feel bad. They feel guilty, but they are able to apologize, give hugs and know that they're still loved even if they made a mistake.

Ellie used to call Gummie Bears "Yummy Bears," but Addie calls them "Dummy Bears."

I love that Ellie calls Antlers "Ant Ears" and she insists that butterflies have them (instead of antenna).

I've said it before, but I'll say it again (it's just THAT GOOD)... I absolutely love how every time Addie tells me she loves me, she says "I love you, Best Friend!" I think it's impossible to top that one.

I love how the girls have developed the habit of "falling asleep" as soon as we get home. They pretend to be sleeping when Mommy and Daddy get them out of the car. Daddy usually tickles Ellie until she can hardly breathe and Mommy usually carries Addie in like a baby.

Speaking of "pretending to sleep," I think it's funny when Addie approaches me, walking with her eyes closed. She's pretending to be asleep but wants to be closer to me. Too cute.

I have to giggle now that Addie has become the Enforcer of polite manners. If Ellie (or even Mommy or Daddy, for that matter) wants something, she says "Say peas!" before giving it to us. Afterwards she's so proud of herself for being nice.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Your turn Mommy

Mommy: I have you. You're stuck!
Addie: Oh no!
Mommy: How do you get out?
Addie: I donno.
Mommy: You have to kiss me.
Addie: (kiss)
Mommy: Oh, now you're free!
Addie: Your gurn!
Mommy: My turn?
Addie: (putting her arms as far around me as possible) You duck!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Little Christmas 2011

Daddy and I strongly considered just getting away for the holidays. We have so much family that we'd love to spend time with that it seemed like it would be impossible to have our own "little Christmas" with just the girls. However, we never actually made any plans.

And it was perfect.

Though we did exchange presents with some family last week, and again on Christmas Eve, we had Christmas day all to ourselves. It was exactly what I wanted to do for Christmas.

We had told Ellie that even though it was Christmas, she still needed to wait until 7:00 to wake up. So at exactly 7:00, we heard her door quietly open. She went into Addie's room and we heard her whisper loudly "At-a-line, do you want to get up? It's Christmas! Let's wake Mommy and Daddy!" Then we heard pitter-pattering feet scurry into our rooms.

Ellie was literally jumping with excitement. "It's Christmas! It's Christmas!" It looked like she was going to explode with excitement. Addie just smiled, but she knew something was special about today and she looked excited to find out what. Ellie didn't want to wait for us to wake up. Instead, she pulled Daddy's hand until he fell out of bed.

In all honesty, that's probably the best part of the day and certainly the thing that lends itself most to a blog post. We went downstairs and started first with the stockings that Daddy stuffed. We learned that Mommy needs to be in charge of Daddy's stocking, which was not something she was told this year. Whoops.

I loved that Daddy put so much thought into the stocking gifts. It showed me that this is a tradition I'm sure to enjoy every year. There were subtle, yet really thoughtful gifts like the "How to Train Your Dragon" movie because Addie is our little dragon (she always insists on putting her coat on her head instead of wearing it "I be a dragon!").

What I loved about that moment, though, was that as excited that Ellie was about Christmas, she didn't seem to act as though it was all about the presents, and certainly not all about Santa's presents. In fact, Santa's gold presents sat there patiently until we were done with the stockings and it was MOMMY who reminded Ellie that there were presents to open.

She got exactly what she wanted... a super soft stuffed unicorn. The rest is just a blur.

We spent the morning making a mess in our house, which has yet to be cleaned even 2 days later. Just sitting around and BEING was such a blessing. I simply could not get enough of my daughters. For those of you who have younger kids, I officially declare 4.5 years as the PERFECT age for Christmas.

In the afternoon, we decided to take advantage of the cheap movie tickets and we watched the Muppet Show with Aunt Erin, Adam and Uncle Jacob. It was nice, though, to not have to hurry and worry about the hustle and bustle of hosting an official dinner. We just "were."

The girls were so much fun. Ellie loves her unicorn as "unicorn" is her pretend animal of choice. Addie loved seeing the dragon movie as "dragon" is one of her pretend animals of choice (along with a cat). She also got a penguin stuffed animal which is perfect as she is always saying "I got happy feet like pen-gins!" whenever she's happy. She must have said that 20 times today, and quite honestly I couldn't agree more.

I have happy feet too.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Santa's Present

When I picked Ellie up from school on Friday, she proudly handed me a wrapped gift.

Mommy: Another present for me?
Ellie: No. It's for Santa!
Teacher: I tried to ask her if she wanted to give it to a family member, but she insisted on giving a present to Santa because he doesn't get any presents and Ellie says everyone should get at least one present.
Mommy: Is that true?
Ellie: (so proud) Ah huh!

She exited the room jumping up and down with excitement for her present for Santa. I don't think the jumping stopped until long after we opened presents Sunday morning.

Aside from the fact that I now have to proudly display her Santa present in our STORAGE room, completely out of sight... I love the fact that she thought of him. To reward her, Santa left a letter to say Thank You. She beamed when I read it to her.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Santa's Reindeer

Mommy: What song do you want me to sing?
Ellie: Rudolph the red nose reindeer.
Mommy: Rudolph the red nose reindeer...
Ellie: No, sing it like Daddy does.
Mommy: (crap) Uh... You know Dasher and Comet and Dupid and Blixen, Donner and Monner, Blu-ha and Mmmm-na... but do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?! Rudolph the red nose reindeer...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ellie's Christmas present to Addie

Ellie: Guess what, At-a-line?
Addie: What?
Ellie: I got you a present! But I can't tell you what it is. It's a surprise and you can open it on Christmas. I'm not going to tell you what it is, but you're really going to like it. It's really soft and you can wear it on your feet with your PJs. You can't wear them outside, but you can wear them to bed if you want. They will keep your feet warm and are really soft. I think you'll like them. They're kind of like shoes, but not really. I am not going to tell you what it is because it's a surprise. I hope you like it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Big Sister Quote of the Day

Mommy: Shhh... let's whisper. Do you think Addie would like this for Christmas?
Ellie: Sure! Hey At-a-line?!
Mommy: No... Shhh! We can't tell her yet. It's a secret.
Ellie: No, I was going to tell her someping else.
Daddy: Uh huh. Sure.
Ellie: At-a-line... uh... I love you more than the world.
Mommy: Aw, that's so sweet.
Ellie: At-a-line, I love you even MORE than that because you are a good sister to me.
Addie: (Big smiles)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Perfect Harmony

Awww... No words needed. Just please pass the tissue.

Addie's Christmas Performance:
video
video

Ellie's Christmas Performance:
video
video

Of course I saved the best for last. I love that Ellie has been walking around singing that song over and over again. Love it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winter Cabining

Last week we went "cabining," which is basically camping in a cabin. Since it was in the middle of winter we weren't sure how it would turn out. When you go camping, you spend the majority of the day outside, but what would it be like if you're outside all day with young children who have cold fingers and noses?

It turns out that it went splendidly (my favorite word today). Sadly I don't have many photos because I froze my camera, but I suppose even in this day and age I have to rely on my memories. We went up with Gramma, Aunt Erin, Adam, Ellie, Addie, Daddy and myself and had a blast. We did spend the majority of the day outside, but little snow pants and double layers of mittens seemed to do the trick.

We started with sledding down a small hill behind our cabin. Oh the squeals! The girls so loved it all. Ellie was more than willing to help pull the sled up the hill and helped organize everyone so that we would know whose turn it was next. We ended up breaking two sleds by the end of the day (ours and one belonging to the people in the cabin next door) but it was well worth it.

After a while, Addie got tired of going back up the hill (I was carrying her, so I had no problems at all agreeing with her decision), so we stayed at the bottom and played in the snow. It has been decades since I've played that much in the snow. We'd grab handfuls of powder and throw it over our heads saying "It's snowing!" Addie, in turn would do her patented "Ready? Set! Go!" before each toss. After who knows how long, we made snow angels, though Addie called them Snowflakes. "Make more snowflakes Mommy! Ready? Set! Go!"

Later Daddy and Ellie dug out a tunnel from a snow bank. First they dug the tunnel (not an easy feat I'm sure) and then Ellie said "Ok, NOW we need a cave." After connecting the cave to the tunnel, it ended up having THREE entrances! Ellie was so proud. Quite honestly I was impressed too.

Hot cocoa, marshmallows, board games and lots of giggles from the girls entertaining themselves on the bunk beds were all perfect endings to a surprisingly enjoyable weekend in the cold.

It almost made us forget that we had to bundle up and walk across the campground to go potty.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Keep it Together, Niffer

A couple years ago I wrote a post titled Mary Did You Know? I heard the song again today (of course, it's that time of the year again) and nearly broke down thinking of all the ways that my Ellie and Addie will change the world, and of all the ways they have already changed mine.

Recently I have been going to various open houses for Kindergarten at the different local elementary schools. Ok, granted, it's no miracle going to Kindergarten but I was still surprised at how difficult it was for me to attend the open houses. MY Ellie will be in Kindergarten NEXT YEAR!!! My Ellie is old enough for me to have to go to the open houses for open enrollment. That's just crazy.

No matter what greatness is in store for Ellie's future... Kindergarten is the next big step. I don't think you fully understand the significance of that last sentence. I doubt that as you read this you have the same knot of pride and anxiety in your stomach as I do.

I am already awed my my daughters, but to see where they're going to go next is exciting. Wondering what activities and interests she wants to pursue is keeping me at the edge of my seat in anticipation. Regardless of the miracles Ellie may or may not perform in her life time, Kindergarten is the next step... and that means Mommy has to keep it together long enough to listen to the principal tell me why his school is a good match for my little girl.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Speechless

One of Ellie's more random comments...

Ellie: Mommy did you know that when I wear these panties, the one with the stars and hearts, it makes me think of you and Daddy getting married.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Add to the list of Niffer Favorites...

Laying under the Christmas tree, singing Christmas carols with my girls.

Friday, December 09, 2011

The loss of a tree

Ellie: Oh no! Mommy look!
Mommy: What was it? I didn't see it.
Ellie: It was a baby tree covered in snow.
Mommy: Oh?
Ellie: And it wasn't pretty like the big trees because the snow made it fall down. It broke the tree.
Mommy: Oh that's kind of sad.
Ellie: It is really sad because it was my favorite tree and now it will die. Every day we are going to drive past it and every day I will see it die more and more and that will make me sad... Hey! I know! If I get too sad, I can go home and dream about my favorite tree and how beautiful it used to be. I can have good dreams about how I remember it being pretty!
Mommy: Oh, that's a wonderful idea - to think of all the happy memories you have.
Ellie: Yeah but then I'm going to wake up and realize that my favorite tree is still going to die.

... Sigh... She's too young for such deep thoughts, isn't she?

Then, to put a happy, more age appropriate twist to the conversation, here is where it ended:

Ellie: Hey, Mommy? Do you want to know what happened to my favorite baby tree?
Mommy: I thought you said the wind knocked it down.
Ellie: No, a big fire came by and the tree caught on fire! And den the cows jumped the fence and blowed the fire out! But the fire made the trees all black so the cows jumped back home and ate their grass.
Mommy: Whoa!
Ellie: I know!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Meeting Destiny

My gnomes are starting to take over the world, but I'm sure it's in a good way. Seriously, the magic that they seem to be bringing to the small group of people who know about them (I'm nearing 1,000 Facebook Fans!!!) is just amazing. The comments of support and love I receive from otherwise strangers just warms my heart. Magic. Pure magic.

But there I go, avoiding the topic at hand. To be honest, I'm a bit scared to write this post because I just don't think I can do it justice. I recently posted on my facebook page a comment saying I was considering trying to raise a little money for a local family in need. When all was said and done, I was able to raise about $325, three deluxe fairy doors from Enchanted Doorways, one sock monkey and one sock dinosaur from Socky Toys to help Destiny. Wow!

So last night (as I write this) we went over to meet Destiny herself. She needed to pick the winner of the raffle! I'll be honest I was a bit nervous meeting Tammy and her family in person. Why? I suppose now is a good time for a bit of background.

I "met" Tammy years ago and have always been impressed by her. She has a disability (I think it's cerebral palsy though I've never confirmed this) that has left her in a wheel chair and a level of difficulty talking. Yet somehow she is able to be a fantastic mother, completely engaged in her children's lives. Combine that with her recently becoming a single mother and learning about her daughter's diagnosis... how does she do it all? She's amazing.

That being said, I was nervous about last night. How would Ellie and Addie react to her disability? How would I react? Would I be able to understand her when she spoke? What about Destiny? What if she had a seizure while we were visiting? How would that affect Ellie? So many unknowns and only one way to find out the answers.

In a nutshell (yeah right), it went really well. Destiny and Ellie got along so well it was incredible. Destiny was so generous and gave Ellie a necklace, telling her that the moon light shines on it to give it magical powers. Ellie, in return, assured Destiny that she would wear the necklace every time she came to visit and would take very good care of it.

It was nice to see Benny too, who obviously did a great job of taking care of his Mommy and his sister. He was such a smart boy and loved to play with Addie.

And then there was Tammy. What an incredible woman! For the most part I was able to understand everything she said, though I'm sure she was talking deliberately for my sake. The thing that sticks with me today, which is the aspect I'm almost afraid to write about, is how thankful she was. Here is a woman whose life is so far from anything I can imagine, and yet she went on and on about how blessed she is. She does not know what will happen to Destiny, but she feels blessed to be able to spend TODAY with her daughter.

We talked a lot about our kids. Destiny used to be like Addie, so easy going, calm and "go with the flow." With her medications, she has developed ADHD so it's hard for Tammy to see her little girl becoming someone else. Then again, only a month ago she wasn't able to function, let alone play with friends. I had a hard time keeping it together while I imagined what it would be like to slowly lose my daughter like that.

To say the night was powerful just isn't saying enough. As we were leaving I remembered that we still needed a video of Destiny choosing a raffle winner. The magic came after the winner was chosen, when the kids decided that they wanted to go through ALL the names because it was so much fun. So 40 minutes later we had wonderful videos of the children thanking each of the many raffle participants. See the videos here.

When we left (for REAL this time), both Ellie and Addie gave Tammy a hug. It melted my heart to see that they had no problems with her. Ellie claims she does not want to come back for another play date, but she only wants to come back if they can do a sleepover. Heheheh... her and her sleepovers.

Though it was a later night than I anticipated, it was well worth it. When we got home Ellie wanted to stand in the moon light long enough to allow her beautiful necklace to soak in as much magic as possible. I wonder if she and Destiny know just how much magic they really do bring to the world - with or without the aid of moonbeams.

If you would like to read more about Destiny, please see her Wings for Destiny blog.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Niffer's Winter Wonderland

In many ways this is the first year that I feel like we're going to have our own "family" Chriatmas. It's the first year that I've been able to decorate to the point where I have myself my very own winter wonderland...
... complete with tree...

... snow globe, Santa and snowman...

... table centerpiece (ooohhh... ahhhh!!!)...

... stocking hung with care (no we don't have a fireplace - sigh)...

... and even fantastic hand-me-down wall decor!!!

Oh did I forget to mention that Ellie helped with decorating "the North Pole."

Niffer is one jolly soul this year.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Not all babies are cute

Ellie: And pretend that I was having a baby and you said "Excuse me lady, but are you going to have a baby pig?" and I say "No, she's just my sweet baby" but den I had the baby and I was surprised that it was a pig and you say "I told you so."

Friday, December 02, 2011

Tid-Bits

Wihtout any prompting, Addie will often say "I you Mommy." Awww... I love you too Addie!

Ellie wishing upon a star: "I wish dat Mommy, Daddy, Addie and me will be friends for all time because dey mean da whole world to me forever."

I love how when she expects something to be loud, Addie puts her hands over her cheeks, not her ears.

I love how much Ellie tries to get Daddy to tickle Mommy. It's as though she knows the more Daddy does it, the happier we all are. Shh... don't tell Daddy she may be on to something.

I love how Addie always whispers "Cock" to let me know it's "dark" outside.

I'm impressed by how well Ellie did with Addie's big girl room. She was so supportive of her little sister and so proud. She didn't take any time to complain about not getting her own new room.

On the way to Nana's house, you can often hear Addie quietly saying "Nana's house? No... Nana's house? No..." as we drive through the neighborhood.

I love how Ellie is when we hang out with our friends and their younger kids. She likes to be the leader but she goes out of her way to make sure that even the shyest of the friends are included in the fun.

An email from the Mommy of one of Addie's friends:
I know it’s been ages since we chatted. It’s fun to see Addie again at Sunset. This morning when I dropped off Michael Ms. Kim said, “give Mom a kiss and hug goodbye” I was kneeled down and Addie ran over and gave me a hug. She is so cute!

I love that Addie enjoys trying to get me to yawn. She seems to think that if she just opens her mouth, I will yawn. She's often right.

I wish that I had been able to transcribe the lyrics to a 20 minute long song titled "I'm Ellie" that was so rudely interrupted by our arrival at our destination (even after taking the scenic route). Darn. I don't think I could even do justice to how many random thoughts it included, though I do recall her singing "And I am loved, so very loved" and "I am precious" a few times, so I guess that's all that matters.

I love that while Ellie was proudly showing off her artwork to Addie's teacher, Addie just stood there next to her big sister, rubbing her back as though to say "It's so good to see you, sister."

I love how in Addie's world, roosters say "Cock a do do!"

I love that when asked what she's thankful for, Ellie said "I'm thankful because I'm special." Then Addie said "Special too!"

Thursday, December 01, 2011

What a shame...

Just a small portion of the lyrics from the "Ellie Song" that she sang for the entire 20 minute ride home one day...

"Bad guys are bad. Sometimes they break your heart and crush your soul. But sometimes they are good and you like them. And then you have a sleepover and you play and tickle each odder. And everyone is happy. Sometimes they make your heart sing but den they have to go home and I say 'I will miss you' and you say 'I will miss you too.' And then I think of them a lot. And then the next day I go to school with my new clothes on and they see me and they don't know who I am because I have new clothes on. I have to tell them my name. I am Ellie. Please remember my name."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The story gets better everytime you tell it

Ellie: This is the Eiffel Tower where Daddy asked you "Will marry me."
Mommy: Yep.
Ellie: He was up at the top in this corner and you were down on the ground way down here. And he leaned over the side and he yelled to you, "Hey! Will you marry me?" and you yelled back "Sure I will." And then you climbed to the top of the tower to be with him and you both yelled down to the people below, "Will you marry us?" And everyone who heard you said "Of course!" And den you lived happily ever after, but first you kissed Daddy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bedtime Sisters

Mommy: Addie, do you want me to tuck you in?
Addie: No. La-La do it.
Ellie: You want me to tuck you in?
Addie: Yeah.
Ellie: Ok. Climb into bed and I will put lots of blankets on you.
Mommy: Do you want me to turn on your music?
Addie: No. La-La do it.
Ellie: Ok. And then do you want a kiss good night?
Addie: Yeah.
Mommy: From me too?
Addie: Yeah. La-La gurn first.
Ellie: Ok. My turn first. Then Mommy.
Mommy: Do you want me to sing you a song?
Addie: No. La-La do it.
Ellie: Ok, which song?
Addie: Missa Moon.
Ellie: Mister Moon song? Ok.... Mister Moon, Mister Moon, you're out too soon...
Mommy: Good night Addie.
Addie: More song?
Ellie: Ok, ONE more song and den I have to go, ok?
Addie: Ok. Moon song!
Ellie: I see the moon and the moon sees me... Ok. Now I have to go to bed now. Remember da rules? Stay in your bed until I come to wake you up. Ok?
Addie: Ok. I you, La-La.
Ellie: I love you too. Sweet dreams Addie.

Ummm... Am I really needed for bed time anymore?

Friday, November 25, 2011

The family totem pole

Ellie: Mommy, I like Addie. Addie likes you. You like Daddy and Daddy likes football.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

Today I am thankful for hand-drawn turkeys, little hand prints and everything that is needed to make them.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Modern Parenting

So last spring played a little game to get rid of some of Ellie's stuffed animals. We put them all in a pile and then took turns picking one to keep and one to give away. Surprisingly it went really well. Mommy and Daddy managed to make sure that the toys that mattered to US were in the keep pile, and in the end we gave away half of her stuffed friends.

One that I was surprised she chose to give away was Timmy the Turtle. We asked her a few times "Are you sure?" and she said yes. We didn't have an issue with the missing animals until just a couple days ago when we were flipping through photos of my gnomes.

Ellie: Where is my turtle? I haven't seen him in a long time.
Mommy: Oh, do you remember? We gave him away to a child who couldn't afford to buy her own toys.
Ellie: But I miss him.
Mommy: You do?
Ellie: Can we get him back?
Mommy: No, he lives with another girl now who is so happy that you gave him to her.
Ellie: Can I see?
Mommy: Can you see what?
Ellie: Can I see da girl who has him now?
Mommy: Uh...

... (thank goodness for Google*)

Mommy: See? Look how happy she is.
Ellie: Can we ask her if I can have the turtle back?
Mommy: No, that wouldn't be very nice, but look how happy you made her feel!

Ok, so I'm not sure REALLY got it. It was hard for Ellie to see another girl happy with her beloved turtle, but I get the feeling she understood. The next couple days at school she told her teachers about the photo she saw and how she missed her turtle and she was sad, but she was glad that the girl was happy.

* The above photos were found on Random Shannon's blog. In case they get word of me using their photo, I thought I'd take a moment to say Thank You for helping me prove a point with my daughter. lol.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogging Relationships

A bit long-winded, but it's bound to happen occasionally...

One of the main reasons I first started blogging was to try to help keep my family close. At the time I lived in MD and we had immediate family members in VA, CO and OK. I figured that it would be easier for me to write a funny story once for all to see than for me to try to call every individual and repeat the story 4-5 times.

Warning... here comes an honest moment... at first I was disappointed in the fact that not everyone in my family jumped at the opportunity to hear the stories I wanted to share about the girls. I do not want to give any details, but let's just say it's not what I expected.

On the other hand, my blog has helped me maintain relationships I never thought I would. I know I have a few loyal readers, which I love, but even I am surprised by some of you. I once met a friend of an old friend and I'll be honest that it was a little akward having her know so much about me, considering we just met (she was so friendly, though - Che I'm sending you hugs). There is a girl who I once worked with who reads my blog. When she was in town, we met for breakfast and she joked about how she hopes we didn't think she was a stalker for knowing so much about my girls (Christina - here are hugs for you). And of course there is MJH. I wonder if he still reads, but I think of him at times hoping he's doing well.

Then there is my cousin, Andy. I just talked to him last night for the first time in years. I think the last time I saw him was at his brother's wedding nearly ten years ago. Ugh. How is that possible? I loved Andy and his family dearly growing up. I had a lot of cousins (26 w/o marriages on my mom's side and 10 on my dad's side) but his family was always special. I always assumed we'd stay in touch, but then life happens. We all grew up and started our own families and it always seems like there are too many people to keep in touch with and not enough time.

But I talked to him on the phone and it was so nice. So very very nice. It made me miss him and his brothers dearly and I found myself instantly trying to think of ways to bring them back into our lives again. He said sweet things like "you can consider my daughters to be your girls' cousins." It's so easy to "forget" about how wonderful the people in your lives are when they aren't around very often. And Andy and his family? They've always been wonderful.

What does this have to do with anything? Yes, I'm rambling. Deal with it. I guess the point is that as we were hanging up, Andy said something along the lines of "Before you go, I just want to let you know that we read your blog every day. Even though you may not feel like we're a part of your family, we feel like you're a part of ours. Seeing what is going on in your girls' lives makes us feel close to you. It makes us want to start a blog just so that you know what's going on with us. You're such an inspiration and you're a good mother."

I'm not sure Andy knows how rare it was to be able to hear any kind of response from me. I tend to not be able to talk and cry at the same time. It was so sweet. I had no idea that they kept up with my stories as much as they do and it puts a smile on my face. And tears in my eyes, but that's all good.

So though I may not be able to get around to keeping up with everyone that I'd like to, and though my blog hasn't turned out quite like I originally envisioned, I love knowing that it keeps me close to people even if I'm not aware of it.

As for Andy and his beautiful family, I think I'll take you up on that offer to consider your girls our cousins... I hope that we can actually build a relationship between our families. I would love to be able to keep in touch. I am so glad to know that you are there. Give your girls (all three of them) a hug for me.

Wordless Wednesday

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tiny Moments

I am thankful that my husband and I can still have moments of play. The other night at dinner, without saying a word, we found ourselves in a silly mini competition.

Mommy: (put a napkin on the tray)
Daddy: (put a napkin on the tray)
Mommy: (looks around... puts a straw wrapper on the tray)
Daddy: (looks around, put another piece of trash on the tray... smug look - he started it).
Mommy: (trash on tray, smug look)
Daddy: (trash on tray, smugger look)
Mommy: (spoon on tray, smugger look)
Daddy: (spoon on tray, smuggest look)
Addie: (So sad) My spoon. My spoon!

Doh, I guess we went a bit far in the clean up effort. I also guess you needed to be there.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Utensils 101

Ellie: But Mommy, I need a fork. I don't like using my spoon because my food rolls off. See?
Mommy: Maybe you should try to keep your elbow up so that your spoon stays flat.
Addie: (raising her RIGHT elbow as high as she can - nearly touching her ear, picks up her spoon with her LEFT hand and takes a bite) Like dis, La La. Like dis.

Go ahead... if you must, try to act out the scene so that you get the visual that may be necessary to get the laugh. Got it? Good. I'm laughing too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Tender Moment

Mommy: I love you, Addie.
Addie: I you Mommy. Best fwiend!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dan Seals - a stroll down memory lane

I was never much for New Kids on the Block. No, if there was one singer/band that I was gaga over growing up, it was Dan Seals. I didn't think there could be a prettier or romantic song than "One Friend" and I thought "Bop" was by far the coolest thing to dance to. Just watching the videos again made me chuckle and feel young again.

I was so obsessed with Dan Seals that I even named one of my favorite stuffed animals after him...

Meet Dan Seals. He was by far one of my favorite stuffed animals when I was in elementary school. I have so many memories of laying on him like a pillow and putting on performances with him to his favorite songs (Bop, of course - we liked the same stuff). Well, the other day I pulled him out of the old box he was stored in.

I told Ellie that I was a little nervous because I didn't know if she would like him but that he was very very special to me. I played like I was really hesitant to show her my old friend, and I think she understood how special Dan Seals really was. I didn't have to worry, though, because she LOVED him from the very moment she laid eyes on him.

She has taken very good care of him since, as though they're going to be good friends for quite some time.

I've never seen Dan Seals quite so domesticated, but I've never seen him more happy either. Welcome back my old friend.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The power of a good hug

If you ever question the fact that negativity is contageous, spend a morning with a grumpy child and you will watch how the negativity spreads like a disease. Poor Addie is a little sick and hasn't been sleeping well. As such she's a little on the gumpy side. I suppose I should say she simply can't handle even the smallest thing not going her way. By the time we got the girls into the car, we were all exhausted and at our witts' end.

Addie: (crying)
Ellie: (crying) Addie crying has taken away all my energy. She just keeps emtpying my bucket until there is nothing left. She has taken away my ENTIRE ball of energy and I can't get it back.
Mommy: I'm going to put on some princess music to see if that gives me some more energy.
Ellie: But it doesn't work for me. I think my ball of energy is all gone and will never come back because Addie took it all from me.
Addie: NO DAN-DU, LA LA!!!
...
...
Mommy: I have an idea! Do you know what I really really need this morning?
Ellie: What?
Mommy: Like you and Addie, my energy is all gone. I need to do something that will fill my bucket and I think I know just the thing.
Ellie: What?
Mommy: As soon as we get into school we should all give each other a great big hug all at the same time. I bet that will fill my bucket. Do you think it will fill yours?
Ellie: No, I don't want to do that. I stink we need to do it as soon as we get out of the car.
Mommy: Outside in the cold?
Ellie: Yeah because I need it as soon possible!
Mommy: OK.
...
...
As soon as we got out of the car we did a little dance because it was so cold and then gathered for the biggest hug in history. It made us all chuckle because we almost fell over and we were so cold. Then we went inside.

Ellie: Did you know dat hugs spill out lots of energy? Dat's where energy comes from. If I ever run out of energy, I know dat a good hug is how I get it back.

Sigh. I hope that's something she will always remember.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

At the costume store...

Fully bearded man dressed in a pretty Alice in Wonderland dress comes up to us to see if we need any help...

Bearded man: Can I help you find anything?
Ellie: (quite confused) Is that man wearing a dress?
Bearded man: Yes I am. Don't you think I'm pretty?
Ellie: (relieved that she wasn't just being crazy) Yes. You look VERY pretty.
Bearded man: Why thank you.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Kaiser Commercial

I am loving the recent campaign that Kaiser Permenente has in their commercials. In particular, I like this one as it is perfect and makes me think I'm living life pretty well. I know my reason - my children. I have found my partner - my Niffer-boy husband. Granted I need to find my "healthy thing I actually love doing" but 2 of 3 isn't too shabby... I have potential.

"Where did you leave it? Where could it have possibly gone? did it get kicked under the bed next to your running shoes? Was it stolen at work? It's frustrating because you used to have your motivation with you all the time, and now? Ugh. That's ok. We'll help you find it. First, let's find your reason. You know, your reason? What's that thing that makes you want to live to an age where you can say whatever you want to whomever you want and somehow it becomes charming? Next, find your thing. What's that healthy thing you actually love doing? There has to be one, right? Finally, go find your partner. Who is the ping to your pong? The downward to your dog? Who will keep your butt moving and visa-versa? Find all those things and we're pretty sure your motivation will magically appear, but if you're still having trouble finding it, try looking really really hard in the mirror."

Hear the commercial here.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Sister

Mommy: Addie, can you say "Night Night" to your sister?
Addie: Night night sucker.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Two random moments of pride

The moments are countless. If you're a parent, you know what I mean. You find yourself staring in awe at your child and you're filled with pride for being able to take part in their lives.

Two recent moments I'd like to share with you...

Ellie: Mommy? What are you doing here?
Mommy: I came to pick Addie up to take her to the doctor.
Ellie: Can I come too?
Mommy: Do you want to come with us or do you want to stay here and play with your friends?
Ellie: Ummm... I really want to stay with my friends. Is that ok?
Mommy: Yep, and when we're done at the doctors, I'll come back and get you.
Ellie: Actually, Mommy. I was just thinking. Addie is going to need me. If she starts to cry because she is scared, she is going to need me to tell her it's ok. She needs me to show her how to be brave and how to like the doctor. Even dough I want to stay and play wif my friends, I think Addie needs me more. Is that ok?

....

We don't yell at Addie very often. It's not usually needed. Whenever we show disapprovment, she is quick to give an apologetic hug. The other day, though, I snapped at her for not listening to me in regards to being careful around the top of the stairs. I snapped at her and she took one look at me, stopped, turned around and headed away.

Without giving it much thought, I continued with what I was doing. After a few minutes I began to wonder where Addie had gone. I found her in her bed. In the dark. Just lying there looking sad.

Mommy: What are you doing? Why are you in your bed?
Addie: Aye-yine sad.
Mommy: Oh, are you sad because Mommy yelled at you?
Addie: Yes. Aye-yine stink.
Mommy: You're thinking?
Addie: Yeah.
Mommy: Do you need a moment to be sad by yourself?
Addie: Yeah.
Mommy: And then you can come out and be happy again?
Addie: Yeah. Mommy? Aye-yine stink.
Mommy: Ok, I'll leave you alone.
Addie: 'Tay.

Crazy for a four year old to pass up an opportunity to play and have fun with her friends to take care of her sister. Crazy. Crazy for a two-year old to quietly go into her room to think about her actions. Crazy.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Just Like Big Sister

Whether it be hopping...
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... or spelling...
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... little Miss Addie just loves to be just like her big sister.
Personally I think she chose wisely.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy 'Ween 2011

We spent Halloween with Ellie's best friend Brynn and her sister Lilah. Of course, everyone was quite excited so to burn off some of the pre-sugar energy, we spent quite a bit of time running around the yard. No worries, there was plenty of energy to go around even before the candy appeared in their bags.

Getting all four girls to stand still AND smile at the camera is no easy feat!

Especially when the younger ones only want to watch what their amazing silly sisters are doing.

But alas, we finally left to do some serious Trick-or-Treating. This was the third year that Ellie and Brynn have done this together and it's been really neat to watch them mature each year. This year they were both pros and had very little issues. If they were a little scared, they were able to make their way through it without any troubles. Lilah was usually bringing up the rear of the crowd but still loved to collect her candy.

And Addie? This was her first time out on Halloween and she's a natural! Even if something was a little scary, she didn't break down. She just repeated "Scary me! Scary me!" until I acknowledged that something was a little spooky. Then she was fine. Amazing and so very different than her older sister.

It took her no time at all to learn that the proper thing to say was "Trick or Treat" or "Happy Halloween!" OMG!!! The girl just couldn't be any cuter:

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"Trick or Treat!"

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"Happy 'Ween!"


I think these girls are all going to remain good friends for quite some time...

... Brynn and Ellie because they've always been together...

... and Lilah and Addie by default.

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I hope your Halloween adventures today brought you as many smiles as mine.

Happy 'Ween to you!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Victories

In parenting, you have to soak in the moments of small achievements. This Halloween was filled with them.

1. I convinced both of my girls to be something OTHER THAN a princess. Granted one had to be a MAGICAL unicorn (don't you dare forget "magical") and the other had to be a BABY dragon (my girls are into their adjectives), but it's an achievement all the same.

2. I turned a horrible sickly floppy-horned unicorn costume into a masterpiece complete with swirling upright horn AND lush sparkly hair. No unicorn of mine is going to have a floppy horn! Please, no applause. It's really not necessary. No really, it was nothing.

3. I got a perfect picture of the two, which every parent knows is easier said than done, especially at this age.

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4. And I actually managed to get them wagging their tails! Score!

In all honesty, the girls loved their costumes and I loved watching them. If someone at their school Halloween Party said "Awww, look! It's a dragon," Addie would turn around and say "Baby dragon. Hi!" Then she'd give them a hug. And since 90% of her friends were princesses, Ellie got a kick out of being the only pet unicorn around.

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At home, the girls were pretty silly chasing each other.

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Or just frolicking around like magical unicorns and baby dragons do.

And of course, Mommy gets a kick out of how great these two are together. They make me smile, in case you can't tell.

Tonight is Addie's first time Trick-or-Treating... stay tuned for more...

Friday, October 28, 2011

The most stupid argument in history

In the history of parenting, I think this tops for the stupidest argument of all time...

Ellie: But I want a special friend to snuggle with too.
Mommy: I'm sorry. There isn't another animal for you to snuggle with. All we have left in Daddy's car is diapers.
Ellie: Ok. I want to snuggle with a diaper please.
Mommy: A diaper? Uh, ok. Here you go.

That night ...

Daddy: Ok, time for bed.
Ellie: Can I sleep with my baby diaper?
Daddy: No, it's a diaper.
Ellie: But it's my baby and we are snuggling.
Daddy: No, it's a diaper. Pick a friend to sleep with.
Ellie: But I want my diaper. I love my diaper. See? It's my baby?
Daddy: No, it's a diaper.
Ellie: But Daddy this is very important to me. Can I please sleep with the diaper?
Daddy: Ugh. Whatever.
Ellie: Thank you. This is my most special friend forever. Can I sleep with my diaper for every night?

The next day...

Ellie: Daddy?
Daddy: Yeah?
Ellie: I don't want to sleep with my diaper any more. It's old and yucky. Is that ok?
Daddy: Of course.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tid-Bits

I love hearing Addie say "I love you, Mama" on the phone. It's more like "I lu lu Mama." I recall Ellie's version was more like "I lubui."

I got a kick out of how much Ellie's mannerisms affected us even when we were far from her in Europe. We'd see something neat and say something like "Cool is dat? Mommy, cool is dat?"

I loved to hear Addie say "Lo Mama" on the phone. She's getting so big. "Hello, Addie! Mommy loves you!"

I had to giggle at some of the signs of being parents even while on vacation. For example, when a bird was begging for food from a person we just met while traveling, Michael said something along the lines of "Look at you, you're catching some princess vibes," referring to how animals talk to princesses. Only a father to young girls would have a thought like that.

Ellie: We can't eat dose berries because THEY. ARE. VISIBLE! They are poisonous, right?

On seeing headless mannequins at the store, Addie points and giggles and says "Owie head." I suppose she has a point.

I chuckle every time Addie asks to watch her favorite YouTube video: "Elmo cock?"

I get a kick out of Addie hiding behind my back.
Mommy: Where is Addie?
Addie: Don't know.
Mommy: Is she over here?
Addie: Noooo.

According to Ellie, the correct word for "bra" is "boo boo straps."

When Ellie was younger she insisted that the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast" was a "funny giraffe." Addie insists it's Mommy.

Addie speaks in whispers. We thought she wasn't talking much at all, but when Ellie was gone for a couple days we suddenly could hear Addie talking. Whispers, but she says a lot. Go figure.

I love how much the "Moon song" has meant to both girls. Ellie used to sing it when she missed Daddy when he was gone for work. Addie simply insists on singing it every night. "I see the moon and the moon sees me and the moon sees the one that I want to see..."

I love that even at the age of two, Addie still kisses all the animals in our "I Love You as Much" book. I need to get it on video.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A day on the farm

There is nothing better than a nice day at the farm. Well, take away my allergies to the horses and that statement could actually be very true.

It's especially nice to get moments of pride for my children, who are confident enough to try new things... like riding a horse. All. By. Themselves. They loved it. $10 less rich, at least we got pictures.

I was actually quite surprised by how much Ellie enjoyed the challenge of lassoing the pretend cows. She liked the challenge of catching the cow.

And I enjoyed watching her try over and over again until she did. Sometimes I feel like she's so big.

Addie, on the other hand, just enjoyed running.

And running.

You'd be proud of me for FINALLY getting a photo of Addie with little Lilah. These two might become best friend by default since their older sisters spend so much time together, but I am appalled at the fact that they are both over 2 years old before I finally could get a photo of them together. C'est la vie, je suppose.

Of course, we got a classic Ellie and Brynn hug photo. To this day, Ellie hugs her friends with such muster I'm surprised they don't fall over. It's so nice to see that these two girls still mean so much to each other after all these years.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Shopping with Daddy

While shopping with Daddy, Addie went up and down the aisles with him, pointing at every item and asking, "Orange juice? Noooo...." Apparently she got quite a kick out of it because she continued through the entire store. Daddy decided that she was so cute that he finally broke down and bought her orange juice. When she saw it, she said "Orange juice? Yeah! Cart!" and promptly pointed for him to place the juice into the cart.

He's whipped.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A belated birthday party

Last weekend we have a small get-together with some of our beloved family members to sing Addie the official "Happy Birthday" song. Addie, of course, got some balloons...
... and couldn't be any happier.
Nor could she be any prettier. Just sayin'.
All week Addie has been practicing her response to when people ask how old she is. "How old are you, Addie?" and she proudly raises her fingers and as quiet as a mouse, responds with "Two!"
We had the cake, which Addie insists that everyone knows it's HER cake.
And Ellie helped Addie open her presents.
Actually, in all fairness, Ellie was a wonderful big sister who was completely supportive of her little sister having her special day. She told Addie a few times just how proud she was that she was a big girl now.
A big girl who adores butterfly wings and princess crowns and giving hugs. Yep, she's a keeper.