Saturday, December 31, 2011

Farewell 2011

It was a beautiful year

We have learned so much through the eyes of our children.
We have felt God's grace.
And our only desire for 2012 is to allow Him to use us for His glory
and to be satisfied with all He has given us.

(And if He so chooses to throw in a new Kate Spade bag (or that Chanel I've coveted for my entire life), I would take that too. I totally kid. You know I can only handle so much serious talk. There is room for both Jesus and humor in my heart.)

Friday, December 30, 2011


It was Magical.
We went to Christmas Eve Service.
We ate yummy food.
We made peanut butter blossom cookies for Santa (a very important thing to Ella).
She had the excitement that I used to day dream of before becoming a mother.
She left two cookies for him and carrots for his reindeer and quickly rushed off to bed.
She had croup and needed breathing treatments during the night, but it did not stop her excitement.
However, she was slightly concerned that there was no snow outside (last year we had a white was amazing!).
I secretly wished it had snowed too...just to make it that much more magical.

All made by Ella...all eaten by mommy!
Christmas Eve
Audrey was in awe of the lights.

We may not have had any snow...but I snowflake light was good enough for her

The dollhouse was and continues to be a gift that has provided hours of entertainment for all...and lots and lots of make believe. I highly recommend it. Of course, you have to put in your request with Santa to get this beauty.

As you would imagine, her little eyes were full of joy just from simply being able to rip wrapping paper.

Our train themed Jesus birthday cake

 At 7:30am, we awoke to loud shrills of joy and the pitter patter of little feet running down the hardwood floors in the hallway to our bedroom. "MOMMY! DADDY!! HE CAME! HE CAME! SANTA BROUGHT ME A HUGE DOLLHOUSE! COME AND SEE!

Oh my. I cannot even put into words that accurately describe how my heart felt that morning. Is it possible to have too much joy?

It may just be the best Christmas I have ever had. Seeing that almost made me cry it was so sincere and sweet. Such joy.

Later, we went to my sisters house for lunch and had our annual gingerbread making contest. My sister and I did our best karaoke rendition of all Celine Dion's classics. I even got Ella to sing a few princess songs with me. We made sweet memories. Such joy.

We laughed, we ate well, we gave...and my heart was so full of love and joy. I could not have received a better gift for Christmas. Such joy.

I am on my quest to make every day have a piece of Christmas in 2012. My quest to find joy every single day.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sleep in Heavenly Peace

 Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.

Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child.
Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours

We are blessed beyond measure. To be a rich man who came to earth to be poor to save us sinners....that is how much He loved us. Isn't that just incredible? This Christmas is very different from last year. Looking back we can see God's mercy and hands during so much through our children. We truly believe we have seen the miraculous through His healing hands. So, tonight, Lord family just bows down our heads without words to even completely express our gratitude for all you have brought us through this year. Thank you for sending your son to live and die, just so that I, a measly sinner, could spend eternity in Heaven. We praise you for your birth and the miracles you continue to perform in our lives. Our only desire to rest in your heavenly peace...a peace that only a Savior can provide.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus is coming to town

Presents for our children are still very simple to buy. The twins are oblivious and just assume to continue ripping apart my magazines, unrolling the toilet paper in the bathroom, and destroying anything within their reach. Ella just wants anything she sees in a catalog or store.

That being said, we still put a lot of thought into their gifts. Ultimately, we decided to find gifts that we thought would provide the most play time. We also felt like we needed to make sure there were some masculine gifts added to our house of princesses and ballerinas. Ha!

I have mentioned before, that Ella loves dolls of any sort. But, her favorite and most played with dolls are either her madeline dolls or those small princess figurines (some of them come with rubber clothes and some don't have clothes that come off). Last year she got a small Angelina Ballerina House that she loved and still plays with daily.
Click here for details

She also, later in the year, (a just because gift), got this other little Madeline House. I got it off ebay because it is an older/used item. It is a small house for polly-pocket size figures. I couldn't find a picture, but it is super cute. Anyway, it doesn't fit her regular size Madeline dolls, of course, but she loves it. She sets these houses up side by side and all the figures visit each other and play together. She has her own little neighborhood! Oh, and the princess figurines fit in there too.

So, the point of the story being, we (I) really wanted to get her a larger size dollhouse. You would not believe the choices out there. Originally, I was wanting a classy, wooden type house. But, they were either too big (for now), needed to be completely put together (meaning it was just a kit), or just more money than we were wanting to spend. I mean, buying the furniture alone gets expensive. And the girl is only 3 remember.

Anyway, originally, I was thinking this one at Pottery Barn Kids:

Click here for more info

I've loved this dollhouse for a long time. And her room is the same color, so aesthetically speaking, it would be beautiful. And they had it on sale for $159 completely assembled. It only had three rooms, but they were spacious and would fit her larger dolls.

But, then I saw this stupid thing below.
Click here for more info

So hear me out. I don't really mean it is stupid. It is actually completely fabulous and COMPLETELY Ella! It is similar in size to the Pottery Barn one, yet it comes with all the furniture, dolls, decorations, and other fun features that she will love for $149. It also has 6 or 7 rooms and the thing folds in half so it can store easier. It is classy. But, it is plastic. That was my biggest hang up about it. But, now, I want you to scroll back up and look at the two. The latter just looked way more fun for our little Ella. So, at the end of the day, I put my desire to have the more "neutral" toy aside and went with what I thought Ella would like best. (Oh, and her bigger Madeline dolls do fit in it as well.)

By, the way, this is technically a gift for both girls. (Oh, and Andrew was ok with either house. But, he agreed that the plastic one would probably be more fun for her.)

As for Jacob, the boy likes balls and anything with wheels, so that was pretty easy. Andrew thought he would enjoy one of those ride-on toys (not electric, just one you push with your feet). Of course, I immediately start looking for the classiest one I could find:

From Pottery Barn kids, but no longer available

Of course, my idea was immediately disqualified because of cost (over a hundred dollars). Again, Andrew was thinking "plastic toy" (because of cost). I don't know what my hangup is with plastic toys. I guess because my dad has always done wood working as a hobby that I appreciate a well crafted wooden toy...ok, and because they are less tacky sitting out in my house. But, I just love wooden toys!

So, much like the dollhouse, we were able to find a much cheaper ride-on toy that was really cute and not just another plastic toy. Here is what we got (about $35) and I let Andrew make the decision since I'm the one who makes most of these decisions. He's always wanted a little, I'm trying to let him pick out fun things he would like too:
Click here for more info

I don't usually have such a big snobby attitude about toys, except when they are things that will always be sitting out and not stuck in a toy basket.

I would also like to add, that the majority of these gifts were bought with gift cards. I only mention that because I know we have said we are on a budget right now and I did not want to give the impression that we aren't still trying hard to stick with that.

So, those are their Santa gifts. That's it. Each child will also get about $10 worth of "things" in his/her stocking. Ella is getting a Sleeping Beauty plush doll ($12) and a coloring book. See below:

Audrey is getting a little dalmation puppy. Jacob is getting a few different little cars.

As for gifts from us, Ella is getting a puzzle, two books, and one "Flynn" doll (that is Tangled's "prince"). Andrew's parents got her the Tangled doll (Barbie size). Audrey is getting a Dumbo stuffed animal from us. And Jacob is getting this really cool London double decker bus that holds the cars from his stocking.
Click here for more details

So, I feel like in my heart, we did pretty good with not buying too much. There were so many other things that would have been nice to get (ie-more clothes for Ella's dolls, a doll stroller, etc.), but I have to keep reminding myself there are plenty of years ahead of us.

I can't wait to see them play with their new toys!! I secretly want to play with Ella's dollhouse too!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Great Santa Debate

I am a Christian. I love Jesus.

But, I also love Santa, and Christmas lights, Christmas trees and wreaths, gingerbread houses, presents (to give), The Nutcracker, any and all cheesy Christmas movies, and even though I don't have an Elf on the Shelf, I'm sure I would probably love that tradition too. But, I don't love them as much or in the same way as how I love Jesus .

I love the magic of Santa. And I love hearing the story of who St. Nick really was.

And if you ask Ella who Santa Claus is, even though she is only three, she can tell you that there was a man named St. Nick who loved Jesus. And because he loved Jesus, he gave presents to the poor. But, we don't call him St. Nick. We call him Santa Claus. And he brings us presents in honor of Jesus.

And if you ask her why we celebrate Christmas, she will tell you because it is Jesus' birthday.

And some Christians may say that it is wrong for us to do anything except celebrate Jesus throughout that month. Some may say it is sacrilegious to have Santa as part of our day. And I understand completely where they are coming from.

But, I would say to them, we celebrate Jesus 365 days a year. And my child will know who Jesus is...

Because I pray that she will see Him living through me and her daddy.

So, if you disagree, that is ok. Trust me when I say, I did a lot of praying and soul searching on how to approach this season with little impressionable minds.

In the end, I decided that there were always be A LOT of Jesus in this house. But, there is room in our inn for a little bit of Santa. 
Even the princesses came to see the One true King of King. And Santa brought gifts to Jesus as well.

Mary, Jesus, and the cow

You may have not known this, but there was a very special cow named Ella present at the birth of Baby Jesus.

She was the prettiest and happiest cow in the stable.

She even raised her arms praising Him with her sweet little voice. 

But, most importantly, she had the proudest mama in the audience. There is nothing more humbling than being the mother of the beautiful little cow who picked her nose during her time of praise.

*le sigh*

Perhaps we need to work a little more on that whole "acting like a lady" thing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A little Norman Rockwell

(Preface: I posted this picture on facebook a month or so ago, but I forgot to add it to the blog. So, some of you may have already seen this one.)

So, I have this extremely talented, artistic cousin named Melissa who is more like a sister than a cousin. She is also my hero because she has always followed her heart and never let fear stop her from pursuing her dreams. For example, she's always thought it would be cool to live in California. So what did she did after college? She packed up her little black Acura and headed to the west coast. Shouldn't we all live with such bravery?

Anyway, I posted this picture on facebook about a month ago and she called me on the phone and told me it reminded her of an old Norman Rockwell drawing. I'm not sure I am deserving of such a compliment, but I'll take it! That means a lot coming from a true artist. So here is a little Norman Rockwell (aka-Mommy taking na.ked baby pictures of Jacob!) for you:

(And yes, that is an old fashioned pedestal tub in my bathroom. I'm an old soul who wears trendy clothes. I often say I would love to live back in the early 1900's, but I'd never survive without air conditioning.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

So She Dances

There is a song by Josh Groban "So She Dances" from his Awake album (around 2006) that I have always loved. Technically, I love the entire album, but I used to day dream about having a little girl who would be a little ballerina...full of poise, grace...a little girl who doesn't realize how beautiful she is. Although that isn't really what the song is about, the music box melody to the song will have you envisioning something of this sorts.

It is often sweet and humorous to think of the day dreams I had before becoming a mother. Although most of our day dreams don't end up being completely accurate, it is such a BEAUTIFUL and special moment when we get to experience one of our previous day dreams.

Perhaps my hopes for my girls are very high, but I do still day dream of my girls having poise, grace, and good manners. I often find myself telling Ella "that isn't lady like" or "you need to behave like a lady". I guess this is because I see so many women who do not respect themselves or "dumb themselves down" in front of men and it breaks my heart. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman who carries herself with respect for herself. Call me old fashioned. (And I don't claim to have always exemplified this behavior. I have found myself in my youth to have dumbed my self down to play the "cute" card...only to find out the only thing it does is make you seem like an airhead.)

So, I digress. One of the beautiful things about children is when you get to experience something you always day dreamed about. For me, it was watching my little girl do ballet last week at Parent's Observation Day. I had no expectations. In fact, I fully expected her to do very little and not participate too much. After all, she is only 3.

But, I will tell you, my eyes were full of tears of happiness and my heart pitter-pattered as I watched my little lady show an audience grace and poise. I was shocked she knew the French words for the different ballet positions. The entire time I thought about that song "So she dances" and how I had day dreamed about having a little girl with poise who danced around with such sweet elegance. It was a dream come true for my soul.

It is these moments that remind me why motherhood is so worth all the hard work and sleepless nights. It is worth the all-day-long battle to teach your children manners. I am so thankful when God lets me experience these moments...they are what helps me stay motivated to work hard as a mother. Sometimes we all, whether you are a mother or not, just need to see that our efforts are not in vain. We need small glimmers like seeing our child smile and dance with passion.

A waltz when she walks in the room
She pulls back the hair from her face
She turns to the window
To sway in the moonlight
Even her shadow has grace

Monday, December 12, 2011

Embracing the Season

I thought I was ahead of the Christmas season by putting up our tree before we left for Florida the weekend before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, not much else has happened besides decorating the tree and a few strands of lights on the front bushes. Oh, and we put up Ella's little white tree with pink ornaments in her room. I didn't decorate the staircase banister with garland and lights. I didn't hang all my large outdoor ornaments up outside on the trees. I even decided to forgo a fancy evening amongst adults at a Christmas party for the Engineering organization that Andrew is part of. It's not like me to pass up a chance to put on a cocktail dress and wear heels, but it hardly seemed worth the $70 price tag plus another 40-50 dollars for a babysitter when our budget is pretty tight right now. Hopefully next year we will have sold our house and we can enjoy fun dates like that.

So, as I realized Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, I better soak in all the Christmas season I can. I am not the crafty type, but Ella and I have enjoyed cutting out many Christmas trees and snowman out of construction paper and coloring, painting, and adding glitter to our fabulous creations. I even glued three paper plates together and made a huge snowman for her to decorate...that's about as crafty as I get folks.

Because life is still very overwhelming right now, I just can't put the pressure on myself anymore to do all the other things I see mommies doing. However, Andrew and I did each come up with one thing that we wanted to do with Ella this Christmas season. Andrew wanted to make cookies with Ella. I wanted to take her to see The Nutcracker Ballet. Instead of the $75 a ticket at the Fox Theater downtown, we went to a performance by ballet studio that is actually out of our church. It was perfect...$15 for me and Ella was free! Although I look forward to taking her to see the Atlanta Ballet downtown one day, this was a perfect size Nutcracker performance for her age. We loved watching all the ballerinas and Ella has been listening to the Nutcracker c.d. over and over again. I love that she can appreciate instrumental music! Afterwards, we went to Target and she bought a little nutcracker snowglobe that plays the Nutcracker suite when you wind it up. Such a fun mommy/Ella day. My Christmas feels complete after doing that one thing with her.

Andrew equally enjoyed making cookies with his big girl! Here are a few photos of their evening:

She caught on very quick

Daddy showing her how to use the rolling pin

The girl loved the sprinkles!

I asked her which cookie cutters were her favorite and after much pondering, she decided the snowman and the Christmas tree were her favorites

Patiently waiting on her creations to finish cooking


"Thank you Daddy for making cookies with me!"

Just a picture to show I was there too. I can't believe I'm posting a picture of me without makeup and stringy hair, but at least you now know I am completely normal. 

So, this is my attempt to embrace the Christmas season despite the fact that I might be feeling overwhelmed right now. At the end of the day, it's really all about Jesus. The other stuff is just that...stuff. So, if all I do between now and Christmas is watch all the cheesy Christmas movies on ABC family, then that is good enough.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Peace for an anxious heart

We had a less than ideal Thanksgiving. We drove around 660 miles to South Florida only to spend the majority of the time sick. Ella and Andrew were spared, so the only silver lining was that Ella had a glorious time playing with her cousin, aunt and uncle, and grandparents. Both Jacob and Audrey had something called hand, foot, and mouth's not really a disease, but a childhood virus that leaves you covered in blisters and a rash that make it painful to swallow. As if that wasn't enough agony, I woke up feeling miserable the Tuesday morning before Thanksgiving with a fever of 101.5, sore throat, and body aches. I should have known since the day before I kept having these weird dizzy spells, which I blamed on simply being tired and stressed from dealing with sick babies. The evening before Thanksgiving, I found myself with white spots all over my throat. The diagnosis was some sort of bacterial infection in my throat (not strep) and an ear infection...although, I am pretty sure this was my bodies way of saying "I am stressed out!!"

By Friday, the day before we made our 13 hour (miserable traffic!) drive home, we managed to all perk up enough that we could spend the morning together at the beach. It was crazy windy, but I managed to snap a few wind-blown pictures of Ella enjoying dancing barefoot in the sand. My attempts at a family photo were sort of a fail, but I thought these of Ella's long hair blowing in the wind were simply beautiful.

Ella helping Jacob walk

Loved watching this father-daughter moment

Eskimo kisses

Sweet moments
This week has been back to the normal chaos. Three baby appointments a week seem to be my new normal. I try my best to schedule things the mornings that Ella is at preschool, but I can't always work it out that way. She is pretty content to go anywhere these days. I am thankful she is at an age that she is usually up for an adventure and taking afternoon naps aren't a necessity anymore for her. Irregardless, I find myself feeling so anxious these the point I almost feel like I need medication...seriously. I know it doesn't probably seem like a big just take things one day at a time, right? I was good at that for awhile. I played the "I've got it all together" card really well for awhile. But, I'm tired. Mentally and physically tired, worn-out, worried of the unknowns. 

And I don't feel like anyone can really understand. It's easy to say "don't worry" when you aren't the mother. In fact, it just makes me feel more anxious when someone says not to be sort of belittles my feelings. So, I find myself just not talking to anyone about my life because it usually just makes me feel worse...which makes me feel lonely...which makes me feel even worse. Are you catching this cycle I have myself in?

Why anxious? Where do I begin? Waiting to sell our house, not being able to build our new house, trying to keep this house clean with unexpected, last minute people who want to come see it...etc, etc. in regards to the whole selling a house fiasco. Watching our very hard earned savings account dwindle down to nothing just to pay this mortgage that we can no longer afford with me staying at home and Andrew making 40 percent less than his old job. And although I know our families will help keep us afloat until we can sell, it doesn't change the fact that we saved so much...only to be able to pay bills. I know people say we should feel lucky that we had that money. We do feel lucky. But it feels like a punishment to be good with our money in our 20's so that we can retire at decent ages, only to feel like we are starting over again in our mid-30's.

And then I am anxious about Audrey. I can't really explain what it is like to be waiting to see if your child can do certain things and the stress that makes a mommies heart feel unless you have walked in these shoes. I waver between moments of peace and moments of just wanting to scream "why can't you just crawl!! Just do it." It is a very helpless feeling. And I know it could be way worse. I know I should be thankful. But, I can't help but feel anxious and just yearning for normalcy.

And I worry that I don't spend enough quality time with Ella. I feel like I am given times where I could do something special with her while the babies nap or something, but sometimes I just don't feel like playing dolls or puzzles...sometimes I just want to sit and look at a magazine. I feel major guilt about that. I like to play with her...I LOVE being with her...but, I can only do that for so long before I just need 15 minutes to feel like an know, and play on pinterest or something else mindless. Guilt...oh the guilt I feel for that. I think being infertile for so long makes people think I should be super-mom. But, I'm still normal. I may have been through an ordeal to have children, but I still have normal mommy feelings. I still have days where I don't embrace this time. But, I hate it when people shove the whole "you should just be thankful you have children" card in my face. Because I am so very, very thankful...they are very, very loved and wanted. They make me smile and laugh and I feel so blessed. But, I am still human. I'm a very tired mommy. A mommy who could use full time help, but doesn't have that luxury. A mommy who could use a lunch break just like someone who works outside the home.

It's a hard season of life. It's a season I should be embracing. But, it's easy for someone on the outside to say that. Sometimes you just want someone to say "I understand", even if they really don't. Sometimes you don't want a Bible verse thrown at you...lord knows, I have guilt over not relying on God to calm my heart. It's kind of like telling someone who just experienced the death of a loved one that "at least they are in a better place." It still hurts in the moment. It still is hard. Sometimes being a stay at home mother is very isolating and lonely, even when you are constantly surrounded by people and noise. I know it's a privilege to stay at home. It's hard to enjoy being at home when your family needs the money and you feel like you should be contributing. This isn't exactly how I imagined being a stay at home mom.

So, for now, during this season of my life, I find myself seeking peace in the little moments.  I am thankful that God opens my eyes to the little watching Ella pull out a piece of her hair because she said she needed a piece of dental floss. Or when she sticks a baby doll down her shirt and pretends to be pregnant. She is so funny.

I'm not unhappy. I just have a heart that has been filled with heavy stress for over a year now and I am feeling burned out. I am simply seeking peace for this anxious heart of mine, so that I am not wishing the long days away. Because I know they "grow up so fast." And I don't want to spend these precious years with a stressed and anxious heart. I just haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.