Thursday, November 01, 2012

Halloween Fun

Halloween festivities began with a trip to pick out pumpkins in mid-October.  Some of them were bigger than Jackie!

All three smiling, even if they're not all looking at the camera
 We spent part of our "hurricane days"carving pumpkins with our friends.  Can you tell which was Claire's and which was Ben's?  Everyone was happy with how they turned out.

Halloween evening began with some mummy dogs and mac and cheese.

The older kids decided on their costumes back in August.  We had read the first of the Harry Potter books early in the summer, and are about two-thirds of the way through book 2.  Coming up with a costume for Jackie was more of a challenge.  Then I spotted this leopard print tutu for $9.99 at Marshalls, and I knew we had this hat that Claire had been given for Christmas when she was about this age.  Of course Claire never left it on for more than 7 seconds at a time - fortunately Jackie was more cooperative, and so there was a simple and cute costume for my kitty loving little girl.

Hermione and Harry sported cloaks made by Nonni, scarves crocheted by Aunt Sarah, and ties created by me, with a little help from some yellow painters tape.  They were both happy with how their costumes turned out, and got lots of compliments from others.

As usual, we were joined by friends for trick-or-treating.

Post trick-or-treating, Jackie tried out a Kit Kat.


I only included this last picture, because this face is so typical of Jackie.  I had just told her no, and this is her expression when she knows she is doing something she's not supposed to, but she wants to see how far she can get anyway.  Welcome to my life - every day.

A fresh start

My blog has been sorely neglected over the past couple of years.  I read a LOT of blogs, and a few months ago there were many people who had been blogging for a long time writing about the changes in blogs, and how it was affecting the way they wrote (or wanted to write).  One of the biggest things that I took away from that, was from one blogger whose summation was basically, decide what you want your blog for, and be true to that.  Don't try to emulate someone else, if it is not your style.

My goal for this blog, when I began, was to document the things going on in our family.  Part of it is so that I have ways to remember the silly, funny, bizarre things that go on when you're dealing with kids everyday, and part of it is for family who don't live close to be able to see and hear about what we are up to.

One of my big hangups in posting is that I feel like there are events that I should have posted about that I have skipped, and so then I don't post about more recent things because in my head I want to get back and play catch up.  So right now, I'm giving myself a "get out of jail free" card.  I need a fresh start, and I will go back and do a little catching up, but for now my focus needs to be on what is happening in the present.

So if anyone out there is still reading ... hopefully there will be more for you to read very soon!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Announcing the arrival of Jacqueline Grace

On June 29th at about 2 AM I woke up, and got out of bed to go to the bathroom (typical night for a 9 month pregnant person). I was immediately frozen by an incredibly painful contraction. Whatever noise I made caused Brian to leap out of bed in alarm. Being 3 weeks before my scheduled c-section I was not at all prepared for a trip to the hospital, so between contractions while we tried to get in touch with a neighbor and the doctor so we could head to the hospital, I moved slowly around the room trying to gather things for my hospital bag. (Notable quote from Brian, "a camera? who cares about a camera - we don't need that!") These were not small contractions, they were stop in your tracks, bend over, and breathe through the pain contractions. Within about a half hour our neighbor had arrived at the door, and we were off to the hospital. After trying a variety of things to unsuccessfully stop the labor, the doctor decided it was too risky to send me home even though the contractions had diminished in pain and intensity, and it was time for this baby to arrive. We made a few quick phone calls and text messages to let people know as the hospital staff worked to get me ready for surgery. At 6:44 AM Jacqueline Grace arrived weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces and perfect in every way. She came out screaming - apparently she wasn't any too happy about the early arrival. Brian and Jackie moved to recovery where he was able to call and talk to Ben and Claire to give them the news before they headed off to baseball and soccer camps while the doctors finished closing me up. After I joined them we made more phone calls to friends and family. We both wanted Ben and Claire to be the first people to meet Jackie, and we were grateful to our families for understanding and planning their visits accordingly. My parents who had just gotten back to their house (they'd been visiting us and helping us get ready for the construction on our house) at 4 PM the previous day had turned around and headed back north where they picked the kids up from their respective camps and brought them to the hospital. Some pictures from our day are below.

What is this place? It's so bright and cold!

Rocking the post-bath turban. She still has that little pink mark between her eyebrows if you look closely.

Warm and clean.

A big yawn from a tired little baby.

Meeting Ben and Claire - this picture is so indicative of their relationship the first few weeks. Claire standing back and smiling at her sister, and Ben unable to resist touching her.

Mommy and her three babies.
(note Claire's black eye - she got kicked in the face her first day at soccer camp, but it didn't phase her - she was not afraid to get right in the thick of things even against boys almost twice her size!)

Our first family picture

By 9 PM both Mommy and baby were ready for some quiet snuggle time

Since Jackie's arrival I feel like our family has been going non-stop (which is perhaps, why it took me over 7 months to post this). However, while we are now very busy, we are even more incredibly happy and blessed!

Friday, August 19, 2011


I've been terrible at keeping up with this blog, and part of the problem is that I miss a big event that I think that I must post about, and then don't post anything while I'm waiting for the time or inspiration to create that oh-so-necessary post. So I'm trying to play a little catch-up, but I'm also going to skip a lot of our adventures to get us somewhat up to date. Bear with me!

Thursday, June 02, 2011


Dear Claire,

It is hard to believe that seven years ago you were a teeny baby that I held incredulously in my arms. You are the one that turned me in to a mother, and that is the most amazing gift that anyone has ever given me.

Watching you over the past year as you transitioned to a new school has been a real learning experience for me. I expected you to be overwhelmed by the big new school, but instead you act as though you've been there all along. When I drop you off in the morning and you take the hand of our neighbor who is a little less confident than you are, it makes my heart happy. You are so good at figuring out when someone needs a little extra love or support and quietly providing that. A gift that I hope you will have for your whole life.

You played two seasons on the same soccer team, and have developed into quite a talented player. I hope that you will stick with it - there is so much that you can learn from playing on a team, and pursuing athletics. You, however, may have other plans. You've told me that you're already good at soccer, and you think that you want to try something else now. You are always looking for new things to try - you want to try ice skating and horseback riding and softball and swimming and ... everything. I struggle with the desire to give you everything that you want, and to try to keep some sanity in our family calendar.

All year I've watched you start new adventures, and every time you come home from a new place you tell me about a new friend that you've made. You have such a trusting heart, and you truly believe that everyone is as good and kind-hearted as yourself. I know that someday that is going to stop, and my heart hurts just thinking about it. You see only the good in other people, and that innocence is part of what makes you so special. I know I can't choose your friends for you, but I hope that you will continue to find ones that appreciate who you are.

You had a good first year in public school. I was worried about whether it would be challenging enough for you, and it wasn't always, but you did a great job anyway. Everyone at the school who knows you tells me how great you are, and it makes me so happy to know that they are seeing what I see. This year has intensified your love for reading - in fact you told me that your favorite place at school is the library. I can definitely relate to that!

I wish that I could sweep away your insecurities. You still have periods of shyness when going in to a new situation with a lot of people. You get very embarrassed if you know that you did something wrong, and there are other people around who saw. But more and more as you gather new experiences your confidence grows.

Every time I hear this song on the radio, the beginning makes me think about you, and the way that I feel. I love you, Claire-bear, and I can't wait to see what the next year brings!
Oh, her eyes, her eyes, make the stars look like they're not shining
Her hair, her hair, falls perfectly without her trying
She's so beautiful, and I tell her every day

Yeah, I know, I know, when I compliment her she won't believe me
And it's so, it's so, sad to think that she don't see what I see
But every time she asks me do I look ok, I say

When I see your face, there's not a thing that I would change
Cause you're amazing, just the way you are
And when you smile, the whole world stops and stares for a while
Because girl you're amazing, just the way you are.
I love you!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Think pink...

That's right - soon there will be another little girl in the family. Here's what she thinks about it:

We think she's beautiful already - even though she keeps sticking her hands in front of her face...

She says, "I can't wait to meet you in July!" (July 24th to be specific....or as specific as a due date can be.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

For Ben, on your 5th birthday

Dear Ben,

It is hard to believe that my sweet little boy is five years old already. In some ways you want to be so grown up, and at other times you remind me so much of the toddler you were just a few short years ago.

While I hope to slow these years down and savor every minute, you are always wishing that you are older. You idolize most of the older boys that you know - both in the neighborhood and at school. We are blessed to be surrounded by a group of boys that let you join in with them without making you feel at all out of place. Even our neighbors who are 5 or 6 years older than you cheerfully respond to your greetings, and spend time talking with you and answering your questions.

At school this year you have made great strides. Your reading has improved so much, and you will sit down with me and read one of the books that your teacher sends home practicing a word or sentence over and over until you can read it completely with no mistakes. You are so proud every time you get to do one of the "long chains" at school, just like the kindergarteners. I have worried that your tendency towards being social will interfere with your learning, but so far you have proven me wrong.

You love to be out doors doing just about anything. This fall you played on a soccer team for the first time. The amount of energy and enthusiasm that you have amazes me. Especially since you still get up most days before 6 AM. You get out there, though, and go, go, go the whole time.

At this point, I can't imagine getting able to regularly sleep past 7 AM, but at the same time I treasure my early morning time with you. You snuggle up beside me on the couch, and ask me to put on a show for you. Sometimes you will sit separately, but sooner or later you reach over and put your hand on my cheek or shoulder. You need that physical connection, and it makes me melt every time. Often when we've had a busy day you will come up to me at night as I'm putting things away after dinner and say, "will you come sit and snuggle with me, because we haven't had much snuggle time today?" Now how could anyone turn down an offer like that?

Ben, the way that you interact with the people around you makes me so proud of the person that you are becoming. I can't wait to see what this next year brings.

I love you so much - you will always be my little boy,


Friday, December 03, 2010

The perfect Christmas card

What a goofball!

Every year, as the holiday season approaches, one of the things that adds stress to my to-do list is creating the perfect Christmas card to send out to our family and friends.

All the disdain a 6 year old can muster.

Confession - last year, I finally got pictures I was happy with, and my sister designed a beautiful card, and then I never sent it out. Whoops.

For me, one of the biggest struggles is getting the perfect pictures to capture what the kids are like. One of these years I'm going to have no choice but to make a card entirely of "outtakes" from the photo shoot, but not this year. With a little bribery, I was able to get pictures that made me happy, but I also got plenty of not so great ones - can you tell who was the more uncooperative one this year?

Then once you have pictures that you are satisfied with, you need to choose from what is now a myriad of options for creating a card. Now I have to say, that in the past I dismissed Shutterfly cards as being pretty simple with not a lot of options. Well, boy has that changed! They now have an astonishing array of holiday cards to choose from.

As I browsed through their Christmas cards, I was quite impressed with the selection. I was expecting to see a lot of the standard 4 by 8 photo cards with room for a photo or two. They do have those, but they now have them in a variety of styles. Here is one of my favorites, that is not quite so traditional.

They also have a variety of 5 by 7 cards printed on high-quality card stock. This one gives plenty of space to let people know what you've been up to over the course of the year. What a great, way to capture the epic holiday letter!

What surprised me the most were the 5 by 7 folded cards. Every one that I looked at had space inside where you could add a personalized message, and often, more pictures. They look very classy. I love the simplicity of the message on this one.

In addition to cards, Shutterfly offers a wide array of photo gifts, like these desk calendars, that are great options for those hard to shop for people on your list, who adore your children as much as you do!

This year, I'm using Shutterfly to create and print my holiday cards. I can't wait to see them in person, because I love how they look on the computer!

Disclosure Statement:

This post is part of a series sponsored by Shutterfly. Participating bloggers are reviewing the new Shutterfly cards and sharing their faves, and have been compensated with coupon codes for 50 free cards. However, that hasn't changed the opinions that I've expressed in this post.