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Friday, February 28, 2014

Rockin' It

video
This is old (Last August) but I just came across it on my phone. It made me smile. I'm pretty sure they learned those moves from their daddy.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sisters to the Rescue

I love how much the girls look out for each other. It seems that there is no one (not even Mommy) who is as in tune with their needs as they are.

Some mornings are more difficult than others. Addie wakes up grumpy and Ellie immediately jumps to "helping" mode where she helps Addie brush her hair and teeth just because Ellie knows that her little sister needs that extra support in the morning.

Some days are more difficult than others. Ellie comes home sad about some difficulties she has been having at school and Addie jumps to "cheerful" mode where she becomes all the more silly to get her big sister to smile. Worst case, she always has an extra hug or two for Ellie.

Sometimes words are not needed. Only actions.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lucky

Addie: I want to talk about how lucky you are.
Mommy: Do you mean how lucky I am to have you as a daughter?
Addie: Yeah.
Mommy: I'm lucky to have you as a daughter because you're very brave.
Addie: Like when I didn't cry even though I was scared when I saw that scary monkey on our date?
Mommy: Yep. And you try new things even if you're not sure you will like them.
Addie: Like when we go to a new restaurant and I try new food?
Mommy: Yep. And you...
Addie: Give really good squeezes?
Mommy: Yep. And you...
Addie: Listen to my body?
Mommy: Yep. And you have lots of friends because you know how to make people happy.
Addie: You're the luckiest Mommy!
Mommy: I am.
Addie: And did you know that I'm the luckiest Addie because my mommy is the tooth fairy?!?!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Love Languages

Perhaps you've heard about the concept of Love Languages. My basic understanding is that there are 5 types of love languages:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Acts of Service
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Quality Time
5. Physical Touch

The theory is that we all have a dominant (if not two) love language that we speak, but that it may be a different language than the one that our loved ones speak. Example: Say that a husband's main love language is "Words of Affirmation" and he tells his wife over and over again how much he appreciates her and why. He thinks he's showing her love on a daily basis. Meanwhile, say the wife's love language is "Acts of Service" and she goes out of her way to do things like the dishes or the laundry. Conclusion: Misunderstanding and both people feeling unloved. She is showing him she loves him, but he hasn't heard the words. Meanwhile, he's telling her he loves her but she hasn't seen any action.

To be honest I haven't put much emphasis on the concept of Love Languages within a marriage. My marriage with Michael has always just been EASY and whenever I try to put labels to the way we express our love, I come up short. I can think of a couple examples that fit into various categories, but certainly not one generalization. To be quite honest, whenever I try to apply the concept to my relationship with Michael, I end up going in circles and nearly come to the conclusion that it's all BS. However, I have some friends who feel strongly that this concept has helped their marriages, and I can see the potential in applying the theory.

And maybe it's for that reason that the thought has been on my mind when observing our children. I struggle with coming up with the magic solution to sibling rivalry - finding that balance between treating them like they're different people (because they are) and yet treating them equally (because they are capable of doing anything that the other does). Perhaps the best way to distinguish between siblings is to be certain their Love Languages have been met? So I've been in observation mode for a few months, trying to figure out which language each girl speaks.

To the best of my ability here are my conclusions...

From my understanding, everyone experiences love and expresses love in all 5 languages, so I want to point out that this is true for Ellie too. Sometimes when Ellie is the most upset, it's a good snuggle that seems to help her recover (Physical Touch). If someone else is feeling down or blue, she immediately starts thinking of kind things she can do for the person (Acts of Service). She certainly looks forward to our monthly date weekends as they have become the highlight of our life together as a family (Quality Time). It's tough to pick the top two, when these other examples still exist, but after giving it some serious thought, I believe that Ellie's top two Love Languages are:
1. Words of Affirmation
2. Receiving Gifts

Words of Affirmation - Whenever I give her a compliment, tell her I appreciated something that she did or even ask her for her opinion on something important, she beams with pride. She gets this shy smile on her face and it's very apparent that she appreciates what she heard. She often gives people little notes expressing her love for them and has no problem coming up with examples and explanations of why she appreciates those around her.

Receiving Gifts - Even at a young age, she has brought Daddy and me gifts from any means within her reach. Whether it be a rock from the playground or a picture she drew, she has always given gifts abundantly. She still does. She's always giving little letters of appreciation to her friends and to Addie. She's a hoarder too. She keeps EVERYTHING because it's all "very special to me." When a gift I gave her broke, she was nearly inconsolable about it, until I promised that I would replace it.

Like Ellie, Addie experiences and expresses love in all 5 Love Languages as well. She appreciates kind gestures when she's down, and she is always excited to be as helpful as possible (Acts of Service). If she is given a gift, she'll love it and squeeze it and give a little happy dance. If you're lucky, she might even say something along the lines of "It's the best ______ ever!" (Receiving Gifts). If you give Addie a compliment or verbalize appreciation, she'll do her little skippy dance and give a hug in return for the kind words (Words of Affirmation). That being said, I think it was easier to pick the top two for Addie after observing her INITIAL reaction to things. As such, I believe Addie's top two Love Languages are:
1. Quality Time
2. Physical Touch

Quality Time - There is nothing she appreciates more than when I spend a few minutes (or an hour) playing with her in her room. Whether it be a tea party, fairies, animals or even with her stuffies, it doesn't matter. What is very apparent to me is that if she gets this one-on-one play time, she's happy. If she doesn't then her bucket runs dry much quicker. She also appreciates her one-on-one dates with Mommy and Daddy, but does so in a different way than Ellie. She seems to understand that it's not about super cool, super exciting activities. She's just as happy staying home and playing, or even having afternoon tea at a restaurant, as she is having a date at a more exciting location like an amusement park.

Physical Touch - Even at a young age, she has prided herself in the big squeezes she gives. She is never able to leave her school without giving her friends a hug and if she can't do that, then she breaks down in tears. Her initial solution to many tense situations or confrontation is to give a wordless hug. And you know what? Sometimes that's exactly what is needed. Her initial reaction is to SHOW that she's sorry through her touch. EXPRESSING she's sorry with words is almost always secondary.

My hope in doing this exercise is not to put labels on our children, though the further along in parenting I get, the more I feel that's simply impossible to avoid. My hope is that knowing what speaks to their hearts the most will help us avoid typical sibling rivalry issues. I've been very fortunate to have them get along as well as they do, and I believe that we do a pretty good job of making them BOTH feel loved, but this gives me a guideline to how I can start treating them DIFFERENTLY but in a way that is still FAIR.

I would love to hear your thoughts...



Monday, February 24, 2014

Fan-Struck

Sage won the first Olympic Gold in Men's Slopestyle. The girls watched and cheered and told me all about how happy they were that he won.

Ellie: He's really good at skiing. I think I want to marry him. Even though he is a lot older than me. I want to marry him because he's so cute.

Addie: Sage has a really nice smile. His smile makes him really nice and that's why I want to marry him.

The fact that both girls spoke at the same time made their statements all the more funny to me. Where did this obsession about marriage come from???

Friday, February 21, 2014

Winter Treasures

Addie and I went treasure hunting today and look what we found! I'm hoping to return for other seasons too. PURTY.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tic-Tac-Toe

I love that when Addie plays, the game doesn't end when one person wins. It ends when all the squares are filled, usually with happier endings for all!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

(There were many more where this came from)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Heartbreaker

Ellie's first love was Michael. The way she figured it, if I married a Michael, so should she. There must be something to that line of thought, because Addie's first love was Michael too. Go figure. Things didn't work out for Ellie and her Michael, though, since he decided he loved another girl. Did this bother Ellie? No. She was certain their time would come.

Then came Braydon. He had glasses. I can't say I blame her for that, but their love was not meant to be as they separated ways for different schools for 1st grade.

Next was Wolf. He was a rebel (based solely on his name, of course). Even though she was only 6 years old, she was proud to have a real boyfriend. She even got his number. And called once or twice. But long distance relationships rarely work out.

So next was Michael again. They were in the same class for first grade, much to Ellie's delight.

But to Mommy's surprise, she was distracted by another boy in the classroom, Tyler. I must say, she has good taste in boys. He was a cutie - tall, dark blond hair and bright blue eyes.

But even blue eyes couldn't keep the two together when she moved to a new school and fell for Adrean, another rebel (based on the fact that he had an earring). Adrean had glasses too, and was one of her first friends in a new school. But as fate would have it, she discovered how immature boys can be when they separated and he didn't seem to understand that you can still be friends even if you don't love each other.

Jameson understood, though. Maybe it was because their relationship didn't last long, but he was mature enough to not take their break-up personally.

And now there is Logan - a friend from her past. They've known each other since preschool and though they go to different schools, they see each other every day before and after school. He has grown into quite the Prince Charming - tall, dark hair and bright blue eyes. It's the eyes, I'm sure. She says that he makes her laugh by saying ridiculous (her words) things like "Will you marry me?" Oh my!

But there is also Shawn and Dominic. I simply can't keep up.

When I asked her who she would like to invite to her party, Michael's name made it to the list, even though it's been nearly 4 months since they've seen each other. I guess you never really get over your first love, do you?

I recently found this stash of love letters in her backpack. The senders include Logan, Shawn and Dominic. "I love you," "You're going to be my girlfriend," "You're cool," "You have a very big fort" and "You're awesome" are all included (with varying degrees of proper spelling and punctuation). Uh... Did I mention this girl is not yet 7 years old??? At this rate... well, let's not go there.

And even since the week that I actually wrote this, it's way out of date. Even her teacher chuckled at the story of the love notes and said "Yeah, Ellie loves the boys." Ellie's new love is Garrett (as of 2/12/14, subject to change). She says "Don't ask me why he's my true love. You'll have to ask him. He just says it's true." Apparently a week ago he even asked her if she had plans for Valentine's Day and if she wanted to go on a date. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME???? She told him she would like to but that she has more age-appropriate plans like a sleep over with a friend. Ok, so she might not have used those exact words.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wedding Do-Over

Before I continue, I just have to say that my wedding day was gorgeous. It was everything we wanted it to be. No regrets. That being said, over the years, I've had various ideas of what I would do if I were to have a wedding do-over.

I don't think there is a more picturesque church than Saint Malo church close to Estes Park, but you have to be Catholic to marry there. It might be worth converting for.

There have been ideas of a small church in Europe (inspired by, but not necessarily limited to, the Cotswolds area).

Of course, a natural spin-off to this idea would be in a castle. There are certainly many lovely small castle venues to choose from.

I've even considered doing a rainbow themed wedding (our wedding was silver and void of as much color as possible - even my bridesmaid dresses were silver).

But now I'm onto a new idea, and I'm posting it just in case one of my gorgeous daughters decide that they, too, are in love with it like I am...

...Inside the Denver Clock Tower!!! Oh my! I think my heart just skipped a beat (or a tick, as the case may be). This is incredible! Sigh. Drool. Awwww...

Friday, February 14, 2014

10 Years Ago

10 years ago the Eiffel Tower twinkled with all it's might, trying desperately to sparkle as much as the new ring on my finger. As happy as she was to play such a big role in our lives, I can't say I blame her for being just a wee jealous. It seemed that my ring could produce rainbows with even the slightest twitch.

And now, 10 years later, I can honestly say that life is just as good as it was back then. The Eiffel Tower continues to sparkle in all her glory, while my ring slowly shows the signs of old age. My ring is worn down and always seems to lack the same initial sparkle that it once had. The likely culprit is lotion, but no doubt time has taken its toll too. The engravings are starting to wear down and the ring is just a bit dull. 10 years will do that to a ring.

Do I mind? No, not really. I still look down at my ring and smile every time. And every time I do there might be a different memory that comes to mind, but it's always a good one. 10 years will do that to you. 10 years will do that to a marriage.

Spend 10 years or more with your best friend, and you can not help but collect a bounty full of precious memories that might not twinkle in the sunlight like a new ring, but they will still brighten your day without fail.

Spend 10 years or more building a life together, and you will see that perhaps the sparkle leapt from your ring and into the eyes of your children and the sound of their laughter.

Spend 10 years or more by each other's side and you will come to understand that the ring contains more magic than you thought was ever possible. There is something about the ring that makes you feel like 10 years is just the beginning.

Spend 10 more years together and you just may see your children reach for stars that you once thought were out of your own reach.

Spend 10 more years together and you just may see your ring may not glisten like it once did, but your silvery streaks of hair certainly do.

Spend 10 more years together and you just may find that your face still brightens the moment he walks into the room and that your smile sets his spirits soaring just as it did 20 or more years ago.

The Eiffel Tower can continue to sparkle every night in memory of that special day 10 years ago. I am sure her presence will bring other lovers much the same fond memories as she has for us. May she continue to sparkle with magic for years to come.

As for me, I will continue to adore my ring, no matter how it ages as time goes by. No matter how worn it becomes, my life is still filled with more magic than I ever thought was possible. Perhaps, just perhaps, the reason my ring becomes ever the less sparkly is that my life becomes ever the more precious.

Home Sweet Home (November 2013 - ???)

Had you asked 6 months ago if we'd be moving houses, it would not have even been on our radar. It wasn't until we ran some numbers and realized that if we downsized, we would be able to shorten the amount of time before we bought another investment property, and then someone could help us pay off that mortgage of ours. So, in October we found ourselves selling our big house and moving into a smaller one. Strangely, I have to say, this house has felt like home right from the start. I can't really speak for my husband or kids, but for me... it feels good.

Without further ado, may I present to you, the many reasons why I love my home... drum roll please...

I love my family name welcoming me home everyday. I love my bistro sets on the front porch. They look like they're ready for a warm sunny summer afternoon. We still have our fire pit table in the backyard, but haven't had a chance to use it yet.

I love the occasional appearance of fairies, dragons and gnomes. I had gnomes in our old house too, but I have found that part of making this place feel like home was to renew the gnome presence to fit just right.

I love my Willow Tree figurines that match the time period of the photos in my picture frames. I have done this for a while now, but every time I choose which photos to display, matching them to the figurines makes my heart sing all over again.

I love love love my jars of felted rocks. Each rock was a gift from Ellie and Addie at a time when the only thoughtful thing they had to give me was a pebble from the playground. I had these at our old house, yes, but now they are displayed in an even better place of honor.

I love my living room, with the wall words that say "Life takes you to unexpected places. Love brings you home." I think it fits Michael and I perfectly, with the traveling we love to do, yet it's our home with the girls that means the most. I love my breeze of leaves, street lamp, church windows and, of course, my trunk (soon I'll have my big one back too, but right now it's being fixed up). Oh, and how could I forget? Our house has a heartbeat! I love love love my clock (from Michael's grandpa).

Our new house is smaller than our previous one, but functionally it has every room we need. I love the dining room, and as strange as it sounds, I even like the pretty guest bathroom.

We are making the most of our basement now, and of course the wall going down the stairs displays the cross-stitches of some of the places we've visited. We have an exercise area, that doubles as a home theater. In the back of the room, is our beloved library of books. In the corner sits my grandma's dresser, and on either side of the doors to the guest room, are my cherished stained glass photos. The only thing the basement doesn't have is a bathroom, but we plan to change that soon.

Did I mention the guest room? The furniture is from Michael's grandma. I have been wanting to fix up our guest room to be this nice for years now, but simply never got around to doing so. LOVE it. Where else is Michael going to allow me to have a shrine to the Eiffel Tower, complete with a bowl of heart rocks and a pillow that says "Je T'aime?" It's all about love, baby!

Upstairs, our master bedroom has a subtle cherry blossom theme and parenthood theme. It may not seem like much to you, but I assure you, there are items in this room that I bought to make it just right. Not since our house in Maryland have I given myself a room that is exactly what I want. I even like the view on my way out of our room. It says "Happily Ever After," but is tucked up into a corner, almost so that only Mommy and Daddy take notice of it.

And the girls? They have wonderfully adorable, yet simple, rooms. We didn't have to change the colors but the girls are in love. It's really quite amazing how quickly the rooms can go from being clean to being messy, and back again. Thankfully, they stay clean more often than not.

This house has far less wall space than our previous one, and so we had to be very picky about what we hung (some of our other wall decor treasures are being stored safely under the bed). I love everything in my home, but the thing that I am currently loving the most is our family tree. Michael commissioned this design, originally to be a tattoo for me, but it has become our family symbol. As cheesy as it is, this image has great significance to us. Even the girls know how special it is. Mommy and Daddy are the tree trunks, entwined into one tree. Ellie, born in the spring, is the cherry blossoms. Addie, born in the autumn, is the aspen leaves. As Addie puts it, "That's me on top of Mommy's shoulders and Ellie is on Daddy's shoulders." Perfect.

Who knows how long we will be here and what memories are in store for us. Already this is the house we lived in when Ellie learned how to dive. Chances are Addie will learn how to ride her bike here. But what other memories will be made here? Will this be where Ellie's first date comes to pick her up? Or maybe even where Addie learns how to drive? Ugh. Let's not think of such things. Only time will tell what treasured memories are hidden in these walls.

So where is Home? Home is where your treasures are. Home is where the heart is and my heart is happy here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Home Sweet Home (April 2008 - October 2013)

Awww, the house we recently moved from. I have such mixed feelings on the move. No doubt this was (and still remains) a beautiful house, and has treated this family very well.

Though most of the time we lived there, it looked like this. It goes to show you that when we painted the house last summer, we had no idea we would be moving away. This is where we watched Ellie learn to ride the bike. It's where we lived when Addie was born and where she learned to take her first steps. It's where we would drop Bun Bun down onto Ellie's face below as she learned how to count. It's where we lived when Addie would always compare our real house to her other house full of magic. It is where they built their first snowman and first learned how to Trick-or-Treat and jump into piles of leaves. 5.5 years can be filled with many memories, especially when children grow so fast. Sigh.

This house had everything we ever thought we would want in a house, and then some. The buyers said that it was so nicely decorated that they were sure that it was professionally staged. As stunning as it was, there was also a lot of unused space.

We rarely used the entire front room, and had an entire bedroom dedicated to our library. We had a wonderful walk-out basement but never did much to make it special.

Though our master bedroom was the only room in the entire house we never painted, we certainly went out of our way to give the girls their special rooms. I believe these rooms are what I will miss the most about this house. Ellie's room was a beautiful garden of butterflies and flowers.

Addie's nursery was warm and peaceful, filled with sweet dreams and love to the moon and back.

It was quickly replaced by bright colorful rainbows. Like I said, these rooms will be missed.

It's tempting to say that the backyard will be missed the most, but I'm holding out hope that we'll be pleasantly surprised with our new home. Last year we started to build a tradition of story telling around our fireplace table set, and though our new yard is much smaller and a little less private, I plan to continue this family tradition. Hopefully we will, once again, be visited by more magical creatures in the warmer nights to come.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Home Sweet Home (March 2006 - April 2008)

My heart aches with fond memories whenever I think of this house. It was the first house that Michael and I bought together. I first real HOME. We loved everything about this house and in some ways, have not been able to feel quite as much at home as we did when we lived here.

It might have been a small home, with a small yard, but it was pretty. There is something about small, quaint places that make me smile.

From the moment we walked into the door, we felt at home with wall words that read "May our home be warm and our friends be many."

We gutted the second level, and put in Brazilian Cherry floors on the diagonal. We redid the kitchen, cabinets and all. We repainted nearly all of the house, including the insides of all the closets. Yes, that sounds strange to even me, but I assure you, I LOVED LOVED LOVED the result. This was the first time Michael and I decorated together. Together we made this our home. Together.

Though there were still lingering signs of my life before Michael. As pretty as it was, our bedroom was one. At least I could say I had wonderful homes for all my purple glass bottles. I'm not sure what to do with them now.

Most significantly, this was the house we lived in when we first became a family. We lived here when Ellie was born. Her nursery was filled with calmness and words of inspiration. We spent many late nights trying to find our way as parents in this room. When we moved out, the patch of carpet in front of the crib was the only patch in the house that was worn down. This is where it all began.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Home Sweet Home (September 2000 - March 2006)

I'm kicking myself for not having digital photos of my first home, but I did manage to find a brochure that was used when we put it on the market so I was able to scan these photos. I suppose it's better than nothing, right?

Besides, this condo represents a time in my life so long ago, it probably doesn't even matter. And yet it does. I bought this place when I first moved away from home to be by myself. Home being Colorado, so I suppose this doesn't take into account the places I lived when I was attending University of Colorado.

But a lot happened while I lived in this small but pretty 2 bedroom condo with vaulted ceilings. It was the first place I decorated myself (with the help from an occasional visiting family member). As it turned out, everything was purple. This was the result of buying a purple couch because it was in stalk - the purple couch from hell. It collected cat hair like you would never believe, but I digress. Even if purple, I think the place was nice.

Here I learned how strong I can be on my own. I experienced my worst heartbreaks while living here, but it was also where I stayed up long into the night talking on the phone with my soul mate (eventually to be husband) as I debated whether or not I wanted to try another long distance relationship. Thank goodness I gave it a shot! In this little condo, Michael and I lived together for the first time. We lived here when we started taking adventures around the world together and we lived here when he proposed. We lived here when we got married.

This place may not be where our family started, and in many ways I never considered it our first HOME because it was a place I bought before Michael and I became an item. None-the-less, this condo held a meaningful place in our lives together.

It was a good first home for me, and even for us.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A moment of silence

I just found out that a colleague's 2 year old little boy went to bed last night with a fever and was found dead two hours later. Otherwise healthy. BAM! No warning.

I'm left with a sick feeling in my stomach as Addie's daycare calls to tell us she needs to go home because she has a fever. I'm not quite at that "freak out" zone because I know that what happened to his son is so crazy uncommon. But I am definitely in that "imagine if it were me" zone as no parent should ever have to experience such a loss.

And so quickly without warning. How does the world continue to turn?

Time to go home and snuggle with my little girl who isn't feeling well today.

Home is...

Recently we took the girls over to an old neighbor's house.  Sara was to babysit for the first time since we moved.  It was really strange driving up our old street.  It made Michael sad.  I think it was harder for him to move houses than anyone else.  Even Addie mentioned that it was weird to not be able to go into our old house because other people lived there now.  It left us with a strange, surreal silence.

And it left me thinking about what really makes a  house a home?  Is it merely the duration in which you live there?  Or is it the number of memories you remember?  Does it have something to do with the timing of your life?  Do some homes mean more than others simply because of circumstances?

These are deep thoughts and some I doubt I can answer, especially right now with so many mixed feelings.  So, instead of answering every question I ask in this blog, I will just post photos instead.  Sound like fun?  I thought so....

After these messages, we'll be RIIIIGHT back!

Friday, February 07, 2014

The Kids in Wonderland

We spent last weekend in Wonderland with the girls. It didn't take long for them to find a good pile of snow to dive into and climb. Life was good up until they realized their fingers were threatening to fall off, but I managed to keep them focused on the fun more than the pain.

There was an ice castle too! Of course, Elsa (from Frozen) made it herself. It was pretty cool of her to think of making a fun ice tunnel. The girls say "Thank you, Elsa."

Snow bunnies? I don't think so. More like snow-cicles. BRRR!!!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Winter Wonderland

There is just something about a snowy wonderland that brings my thoughts back to some of my initial conversations with Michael.





Life is beautiful.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Superbowl Flop

It was a close game right up until the start. The girls wore their Broncos outfits because they wanted the Broncos to win. Sometime around half-time, Addie went upstairs and changed clothes. When I asked her why, she said "But Mommy, I was wearing the odder dress because I wanted the Broncos to win but-cept they weren't listening to me!" hehehe.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Math Whiz

These photos are a couple months old but I came across them on my phone and decided to post...

One day Ellie came home excited to show me something. "Look, Mommy! Look what I can do! I can add ANY number I can think of!"

A couple days later she said, "Look, Mommy! I can subtract any number too, but I am not sure how to do the negative sign. Is this right?" Slow down girl, slow down.

P.S. I realize the second answer is not right, but come on... this girl is only in 1st grade. Had she chosen her numbers a bit more strategically, she would have gotten the answer just fine. Those negatives are tricky creatures.