Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Polar Express

Maddux and Lehr went on a date to her school tonight. They were to dress in PJs and come prepared to drink hot cocoa. Done and done. Maddux picked out her favorite pajamas: pink one piece fleece footies with monkeys and candy canes all over. Daddy wore jeans :) All of the 4 year olds and their dads gathered in the social hall and received a hot chocolate and cookie. After everyone was seated, a special guest read from the book and then showed a little bit of the movie, and then read and then showed some movie. The whole evening lasted about an hour and Maddux ate every bit of it up. She really loved taking her Daddy to school to show him off too.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas Tree

It has always been my preference to put up our Christmas tree and decorations the weekend of Thanksgiving. It takes at least a whole day (or three) and I love to enjoy them all month long. As we've done the last few years, we drove a few extra miles to a local tree farm to cut down our own tree. The kids love it, adn I'm not sure they'd be content to go to a parking lot to pick out a tree anymore. (I know I wouldn't!) The kids ran around the trees, measuring how tall they were compared to some and ultimately picking one that we all agreed on. (Honestly, they are all exactly the same!) Eli and Maddux helped Lehr carry it back to the hut where they shook it (to get out any wildlife) and wrapped it and stuck it on top of our car.

Maddux and Eli were exceptionally excited because the lady that runs the tree farm gave them each a candy cane (which we let them eat right away) and a small ceramic tree ornament, just like they did last year. My two elves are proving to be very into all things Christmas!

As expected, both kids really REALLY enjoyed decorating it this year. And an added bonus was that no ornaments were dropped or broken!! I think we've already read seven Christmas books and we still have a huge stack untouched. Happy Holidays :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


The kids and I have had a fun week. We've not done too many out-of-the-house things, but we've still had a great time. Tuesday we did do something I've wanted to do for a few years: pottery painting. Before the kids were born, I used to paint a bowl or a mug every holiday season. This was the first year I felt I could take the kids and they could independently participate. The whole thing went pretty well, actually. I did have to wipe Eli's bowl clean twice so that he could start again, but by the end the three of us walked out happy and not too covered in paint. We also made Pilgrim hat cookies. The kids loved delivering them to a few friends, after they sampled them, of course.

Today was just the four of us. We've never had Thanksgiving with just our family....we've always had family or friends, or both, join us. Although we had the TV on all day (WAY out of the norm for us!), it was a very fun, connected day. The parade is a must-watch for me and the kids really enjoyed and really got into it. After that was football, football, football, which Eli liked, and Maddux tolerated. We played some football outside, we all helped cook at some point, and we had a video chat with Grandma Cathie and Grandpa Jim.

Although the kids didn't really care for much of the main event meal, they sampled everything and never complained at all. IN FACT, when we said our breakfast prayer (before pumpkin pancakes - yum!), Eli even said (unprompted), "I'm thankful for Mommy and Daddy." It doesn't get much better than that!

Lehr and I got some sparkling grape juice for the kids to drink in wine glasses with us for dinner. That, coupled with a few candles and our china made it a very special meal. After we finished, the four of us went for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood. It was so warm during the day that even though the sun was going down, it was still very enjoyable outside. We had a serving of apple crisp and ice cream for dessert before baths; the perfect end to our perfect day.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Eli's class has been studying the earth and it's landforms in the last few weeks. He's come off of the bus several times spouting all kinds of information about mountains or valleys or the such. Yesterday he bounced down the bus stairs carrying a paper plate, yelling "LAND FORM COOKIE!!!" His class had decorated large sugar cookies to represent landforms. Eli had an ocean, a river, a plateau, a valley and a mountain. And the stars were aligned because the first thing he asked me was, "Mommy, when we get home, can Maddux and I share my cookie for snack?" Life is good.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Lunch

Maddux had her Pre-K Thanksgiving feast today. Each child (aka Mom) got to bring in a dish to share with the rest of the kids, and all three classes ate together in the social hall of the school. I worked with five other moms to get the hall ready with food and decorations. All of the kids made their own Thanksgiving place mats, which we set out at tables covered in table cloths. Once they arrived, we ushered them through a buffet line (while we served them). So so many foods represented on the table: turkey, ham, bread, corn muffins, sweet potatoes, broccoli, corn, mashed potatoes, mac-n-cheese, apples, cheese, grapes and carrots were all accounted for. I was very impressed at the variety on most kids' plates; several even came back for seconds!

Maddux and her friends wore special shirts to the feast, made out of pillowcases they'd decorated. The teachers had written their Native American names on the backs of the shirts. Maddux's name was "Wild Rose". It didn't surprise me at all that the word 'wild' was involved.

Monday, November 14, 2011


What a day! The kids have swim lessons just after Eli gets off of the bus on Monday. This could send our week into a tizzy with the 'go-go-go', but so far it has really worked well for us. Today we hurried a little more than usual, just because we had Eli's baseball party right after swim was over, but it still didn't cause too much craziness at all.

We had a great few minutes at the house before we left, complete with Eli and Maddux getting along really well. Swim was awesome, as expected. Maddux is starting to goof off a little in class, now that she's comfortable with the teacher and the kids, but she is still flapping her fishy flippers pretty well.

The party was across the street from our swim lesson, so we had a 20-minute cushion of time between. The kids and I had some great conversation, complete with Eli telling me, "Mom, I love you more than you know." It's those moments that melt my heart. First off, how can your child saying that NOT move you to the core. But it means even more to me because it's something I say to the kids often, so it tells me that Eli IS listening and he DOES know that I love him.

Eli's party was fine - some crazy boys and some crazy behavior, but Eli did really well, keeping himself well-behaved the whole time. The kids watched some slide shows of game pictures and some video footage of the season. They ate dinner and received trophies for participating with the team. After that, the coach passed out four "MVP"-type trophies. Eli received one: Most Aggressive Player. We were so proud of him for giving effort at a level that allowed him to stand out in a crowd of many good players. Even more, I was shocked; if you had told me two years ago, even one season ago, that Eli's name would be in the same sentence as 'aggressive', I wouldn't have believed you. But that boy came a long way this season and he did start playing with more sense of urgency than I've seen in him before. It made for great conversations on the way home about how proud I was of his effort and unwillingness to give up. (The two of us were in the car alone; Maddux rode home with Lehr.)

Unfortunately, the great conversation was followed by a monumental meltdown by Eli when we got home. I don't even remember what set him off this time, but he was beside himself, out of control. 100% due to fatigue, still 100% unacceptable. The good news is these crazy 'episodes' are much fewer and farther between.

Children's Wish Family

As long as the kids have been on this earth we've had the opportunity to participate in an awesome celebration of the holidays through our local Children's Wish Family organization. We join forced with a few other families and adopt a family in need for the holidays. The families served by this organization are struggling with many things, finances among them, due to one or more child's illnesses. It has always been our goal to not just buy a gift or two for each family member, but to exhaust each 'wants/needs' list as best we can. Once again, we were fortunate enough to find several other families to join with us and serve a whole family.

We had a few no-school days in November, so the kids and I had a chance to tackle the lists together. I love taking the kids with me to shop for these families because of the conversations that come out of it. This year I was so proud that the kids each picked something from the dollar bin at Target for the child we were buying for. The money came from their own spending money - yay, God!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Maddux was SOOOO excited to bring home her class pet this weekend. She was Star Student in her class last week, so her final privilege was to bring Ike home to stay for a few nights. Ike is a stuffed dog that gets into lots of mischief in the classroom. He came home with his bag full of clothes, a blanket and a bone. Maddux ate every minute of it up! She dressed him each day and each night (he had PJ's too!), and he slept in bed with her. Every morning, afternoon and night she fed him his bone in a bowl. Ike went to every store, every errand, every playground trip....he was a well-traveled dog!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Perfect Day

Today was honestly a perfect day. No meltdowns (even though there easily could have been), no fights, and lots of good family time.

Last night we were out at an event with neighbors late...very late. The kids had to be up by 8AM, but they were up at 7:30, of course. This could have been a recipe for disaster given their 10:15PM bedtime, but they remained well behaved all day. We started our perfect day with a food drive. Another family invited us to help them collect cans in their neighborhood. The four of us drove around, picking up bags at houses for a few hours. The kids really got into it, watching houses for bags and trying to lift the lighter ones.

Once we got home, Lehr ran a quick errand, so the kids and I made a huge leaf pile. It was beautiful outside, so we raked and raked, then jumped and raked, then jumped again. A few hours later we had a quick lunch before going back out to finish raking the leaves and then bagging them. Six HUGE bags later, we were done. Then we moved to the backyard to mow and rake and sweep. Still really good moods. Just before dinner time I had to go to a shoot, but the kids and Lehr remained outside, playing and working until I got home.

Since it was late and we had no meal plan, we decided to try a new restaurant just down the street. We assumed it to be casual, but it ended up being a little more 'fancy', which meant it took a little longer for us to get our food and the kids had to be a little more 'controlled'. They totally stepped up to the plate, even though they were totally exhausted and the restaurant's offering of foods was very foreign to the kids. So many chances for meltdowns, but not one occurred. Lehr and I agreed to reward this before the moment escaped us. We stopped at Publix on the way home for some frozen yogurt. Then we lit a fire (it was really cold outside!) and ate our bowls of ice cream in front of the fire. Life is good :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Have You Considered?

Since Eli and Maddux were born, we've been trying to make our giving very known to them. Not to elevate ourselves, but to remind them that everything we have is a gift, and we need to share those gifts with others. If we can provide for others, it is both our responsibility and opportunity to do so. While we do several giving-type things during the holidays, the one that I think they enjoy the most is flipping through the World Vision catalog and picking out gifts such as fishing kids, mosquito nets, goats and chickens to have sent to families all over the world. While we're choosing what to purchase, the kids ask all sorts of questions and hopefully learn more about the world around them. Maddux asks about the chickens every year, though I still don't think she understands that at one point the chickens themselves may be eaten. And my favorite question of Eli's this year (even though we've covered it before) was, "Mommy, how do they use nets to catch mosquitoes?"

If this sounds like something you'd like to do with your family, I urge you to check out World Vision's online catalog (or request a paper one to be sent to you), OR check out a site our church is going live with this week: spendless2givemore.org. We hope you'll join us in celebrating our Savior's birth in a way that glorifies Him.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Star Student

Maddux was chosen as "Star Student" this week. That meant she brought home a poster to complete, decorate and color over the weekend, and this week she gets to help out with many classroom jobs. We filled in all of the blanks about Maddux on her poster, including her favorite animal (it's a giraffe this week). She got to tell the class about her poster and she got to help the daily helper feed the fish during the school day. But that is not the best thing, according to Mad Dog. This coming weekend, after her week-long reign as a star, she will get to bring "Ike" home. Ike is her class pet dog (stuffed). She's been clamouring to bring him home since school started, and since Eli brought Snappy home last week, she is REALLY excited to have her turn this weekend.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

No School

The kids had the day off of school today, due to a teacher workday. We decided to play, play, play, all day. We started with a fun breakfast, followed by a quick trip to the gym. Eli loves the YMCA, as his class has a computer (with limited access) and lots of drawing paper. Today he drew some pictures of shuttles, of course.

We left the gym and headed north to a park that we went to over a year ago. It has a great playground, even for older kids, a 1-mile trail, a 1/2 mile trail, a dog park, and a skateboard ramp/halfpipe-ish. We hit every spot. I'd packed the kids' bikes in the trunk so they could ride the paved trail. Surprisingly, we only did that for about 1/2 mile, but the kids did like it. We watched lots of skateboarders and even climbed on the ramp ourselves. Finally, the kids ran around the playground for about an hour, testing out all of the cool equipment.

After the park we grabbed smoothies quickly so we could make the movie: we saw Dolphin Tale. This was the first 'real' movie they'd seen in a theater (the three others were Pixar). Eli was totally into it. He'd read the short book several times already, so he knew the story. Maddux liked it, but I think it was a bit long for her, especially on a day when she'd been running around so much. We got home just in time for Daddy to pull into the driveway. Life is good.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Fish Are Back

I usually sign the kids up for a session of swim lessons sometime over the winter, just to make sure they don't completely forget whatever skills they mastered the previous summer. With both kids coming so far this last summer, I decided to do the session earlier than usual, starting today.

After Eli got off of the bus, the kids changed into their suits and we drove to Atlanta Swim. This time around Eli's lesson was first (while Maddux watched) and then they switched. They both ended up with the same teacher, but different pools, different times. Eli dove right in, literally, when he started his lesson. The second time around, the teacher even held a ring out further from the side, for Eli to aim for. Eli did great, keeping up very well with the 9 year old in his class, and he swam at least as well as the two 7-year olds (only 4 in the class). More than that was his enthusiasm. Eli couldn't stop smiling the whole time; he loved LOVED being back in the water.

Maddux's lesson went really well too. Her first 'swim' found her doing a doggy paddle with her arms, but still swimming ok. Most of the rest of the time she extended her arms much more and relaxed in the water. She was almost as excited as Eli; she's a fish as well!

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Eli got to bring home his class pet this last weekend. He had been waiting anxiously for this weekend since school first started and he heard about the opportunity. When Eli got off of the bus on Friday, his smile was bigger than the plastic case holding his class turtle, Snappy. He had great plans!

The first thing Eli did was find a big cardboard box and fill it with grass and rocks, to allow Snappy another place to run around. The he and Maddux took turns staring at him and watching him climb. We let him out on the enclosed back porch a few times as well...instant entertainment.

Even though Eli fed Snappy some dried shrimp before we went to bed Friday night, the turtle didn't eat anything. Eli's first request on Saturday morning, before we even started our day, was to clean Snappy's cage. Eli woke up early and went down to check on him right away, noticing his water was dirty because of the uneaten food.

Sometime on Saturday, Eli made another cardboard area for Snappy. This one was in the shape of a baseball field, complete with correct coloring. Snappy went from one home to another and back again all weekend. Eli brushed his shell, fed him, changed his water (or had us do it), and journaled about his turtle; it was a very busy weekend!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Halloween Wars

In the last week I stumbled across "Halloween Wars" on the food network one night. It seemed like something the kids would love so I tivoed all four episodes. Over the course of the last 6 or 7 days, the kids and I have watched the competition heat up as the teams worked with food (sugar!) and pumpkins to make some amazing creations in the spirit of Halloween. Eli and Maddux have been locked in; it's all they can talk about! So fun to share these random, but fun moments with my munchkins!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


How quickly time passes. It seems like just yesterday that Maddux was a dressing up as a baby bee and Eli was a miniature monkey. Now the kids pick their own costumes, voice their opinions about which houses to visit, and have more fun with their friends than mom and dad on Halloween night. Sigh.

Last night was loads of fun, but it was bittersweet. We started the night walking up to the 'the rock' for the annual neighborhood Halloween parade. We met Virginia and William in the cul-de-sac for many pictures first, of course. Once at the rock, it was costumed mayhem. At least the kids stayed with us for the walk down, but they were more interested in walking with their friends than with us. Maddux stayed glued to Virginia's hip and Eli was back and forth between William and Drew. At one point Eli and Drew were holding hands, just like they did a few times at swim meets this summer....total best buds. Because of all the time we spent at the pool this summer, and Eli going to school with so many neighborhood kids, all I heard all night was, "ELI!" or "MADDUX!" And I only knew about 1/3 of the kids belonging to the voices. Crazy.

We ate a quick meal of pizza at the pool before the costume contest. When Maddux was a bee (three whole years ago!!) she won for her age group. This year there were several baby bees - totally sad for Mommy. While Maddux and Davis waiting in their age group, THEY were holding hands. I love that!

Soon after we started our trick-or-treat walk back to our side of the neighborhood (about a mile away). The only real rules we had for the kids that night were stay where we can see you and don't run through people's yards. I'd discussed this a few times with the kids already, reminding them that other kids would be cutting through grass, but there would still be candy for them when they got there. Then we talked about why we shouldn't run through lawns and flower beds, etc. and they totally got it. But you KNOW it all went out the window as soon as the fun started. Just before we began I reminded them that if they run through the grass, they had to skip 3 houses. (Gotta make it hurt to make the point quick, right?) It worked! Eli violated right away. And even though I felt like a big bad mommy for holding him back for three houses, he didn't do it again. And Drew and Davis stayed with us all night and they had the same rule. It was awesome.

At one point, our little group turned right while most of the rest of the neighborhood went straight, leaving us on a road with almost no other kids. It was kinda nice that way...less craziness, more conversations between the kids.... By the time we were about 3/4 of the way home, Eli and Maddux were occasionally skipping houses on their own because they had 'enough candy' (according to them). What a great night!

This morning the kids and I discussed all of the candy we got. They'd each had several pieces during trick-or-treating, plus one before bed. After they choose one for their snack this afternoon, they are each picking their favorite 10 pieces and we're donating the rest to the troops. I honestly got NO fight from them on this. Maddux even told me she was going to give one of her full-sized candy bars to the 'sol-ders'. Really really really cool kids, they are turning out to be.