Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Carolina On My Mind

I still can't quite believe we really did it, but the girls and I got home late last night from a longish trip to visit friends and family in South Carolina.  One last hurrah before we move.

We had a fantastic time, but nothing's ever felt better than settling back into our van at the airport, in our home, and sleeping in our own beds.  I LOVE snuggling with my girls, but I've had one or both of them in my bed for the last two weeks...and between the kicks in my back, twirling my hair, sleeping sideways, pushing me off onto the floor - I couldn't wait to have my own California King bed to spread out in and know that they were sleeping well, too.

I've missed writing about our daily doings for the last week, and I'm excited to bring you all the details.  BUT.  I've also been excited about curling up (again in my own bed) and reading and watching mindless tv.  After a whirlwind visit to my loved ones, this introvert needs to recharge.  While I catch up around here, enjoy these few pictures as a brief preview of more trip details to come!

Meggie was fascinated by my parents' old cat, "TJ."  Except she calls him: "Bee Jay."

My Allie Ballie blowing bubbles.

And in the bright sun.

Meggie playing in the birdbath on my grandparents' farm.

In the memorial garden after church.  Believe it or not this was the best picture I could get of the two of them together.

And, this was not of our trip, but Miss AV tried avocado for the first time today and I just had to share!

Isn't she the sweetest ever?

She studies EVERYTHING!

Hey, I think she likes it! :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Allie V 8 Months.

My sweet Alice Virginia was EIGHT months old as of February 16th.  I simply cannot believe I just wrote those words.  Her life is happening in the middle of a big family life change, but we're doing our best to appreciate this first year of our littlest precious one.

Alice Virginia, you:

are over 23 pounds (not sure how much over, but we have a doctor's appointment on March 1st and will know better then)

are wearing 12-18 month clothes, but closer to the 18 month end (and size 5 diapers)

are FINALLY eating baby food!  In fact, this was a BIG developmental month for you as one day a few weeks ago, out of nowhere, you opened your mouth for bananas and now gobble everything in sight.  AND, as soon as you started eating solid slept through the night!!!

sleep all the way through the night (Amen!!!).  We feed you at 7:00 pm and you sleep on until 7:00-8:00 in the morning.  I'm still dream feeding you at 11:00 pm because I'm terrified of what would happen if I don't, but when we get back home from our trip, we're going to start phasing that feeding out.  And, even though you're sleeping, I wake up to check the baby monitor at least 20 times because you sleep so deeply.  You rarely move in your sleep - whenever I check, you're always in the same position - on your back/side, arms wrapped around your bah-bah.

take two long naps during the day with a shorter one in the late evening sometimes tossed in there.  Your naps are generally from 8:30/9:00-10:30/11:00 and 1:00/2:00-3:30/4:00.  AND, you still sleep anywhere and everywhere and transfer easily from your carseat to your crib.  We don't have to worry about keeping you awake in the car - if you fall asleep in there, you'll go right into your crib and finish your nap.  LOVE. :)

clap your hands, smile, and bounce up and down when you see me coming either from another room or after nursery.  I love this about you.  We get super excited to see one another again, you and I.

sit up with perfect ease, but show no interest in rolling over or crawling (yet).  I've noticed that you're getting more frustrated now if a toy is out of your reach, so I'm just waiting for you to gather your courage and make a move for it.

are the MOST contented, happy, tender baby I've ever experienced.  And I don't think it's just because I'm partial. :)  Whenever I leave you in nursery at church or bible study, all the women exclaim about your happy disposition when I come back to pick you up.  You have an amazingly long attention span for a baby.  One Sunday this month, the nursery ladies told me that you caused them quite a tickle when you played with a bow on your sock for 15 minutes.  You content yourself with anything - carpet, books, ribbons, toys, rattles - and really study objects; you're interested by different textures.

have started doing this absolutely precious thing lately.  When you want to be held, you put a quiet hand on the nearest person, resting it there until they put you in their lap or give you a hug.

adapt to any situation.  I was so proud of you this month because I had two different dentist appointments.  During each appointment, you just sat in your carrier and held my hand, watching the dentist work.  If I moved my hand, you would fuss a little, so I stroked your fingers for most of the time.

are an answer to our deepest prayers and longings as parents - you are the perfect fit in our family, and we are enamored with you.  I've said it before and I have a feeling I'll always say it about you: we could not have made it through this year with any other baby.  You make our days, nights, and lives so very full.

will have your first airplane ride TOMORROW!  You, your big sister, douglass the dog, and I are all flying home to South Carolina.  That is, if we survive the airport.  :)

Here are A LOT of pictures of you from your seventh into eighth month.  I'm pretty sure only the grandmothers (and frousin Kaitlin - cause she told me she would) will scroll through all of these, but I just couldn't leave any out.  Our girl's just too precious.


I thought she looked like a little koala baby in her daddy's arms.

looking at her big sister

a fun one I took by accident
about the only time she gets upset is when she's hungry. and it's still the cutest thing you've ever seen.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Venice Valentine's and Questions for Your Spouse

Whenever Valentine's Day rolls around, I always remember my very favorite Valentine's.  Ever.

It happened during my senior year of college on a study abroad trip - my FIRST time out of the country.  I'd waited my whole life to travel somewhere exotic, and with our religion and philosophy departments, was able to go to Turkey, Greece, and Italy - exploring and learning for two months during winter term.

We just happened to be in Venice for Valentine's Day.  And you can't get more romantic than Venice on Valentine's Day - even if your intended is half-a-world away.

So, a group of my friends and I went in together and splurged on a sunset gondola ride around the city.

Absolutely breath-taking. 

Side note:  Kyle proposed the weekend after I got back from this trip at Carolina Beach - a special place for my family.  He told me later that he'd wanted to fly to Rome and meet me there to propose, but thought better of it when he began planning all the details in secret.  A surprise marriage proposal in Rome would have been the ONLY thing that could've topped a sunset gondola ride in Venice - romantically, speaking. :)

We kept trying to explain the significance of Valentine's Day to our gondoleer, but I don't think he quite understood.  I'm sure we looked quite the foolish gaggle of young girls, but I'll forever treasure that Valentine's memory of being scrunched together, dreaming of marrying my beloved, soaking in the splendid aromas of a foreign city from its age-old waters. 
one of my best friends and college roommate is in the back with me: "Hi, Jilly Jill!"
Sigh...ok.  Out of dream land and back to current day...

Have I mentioned before that we're a little topsy-turvy at the moment?

Yes, yes.  I do believe I have.

Given that...I lost my credit card about a month ago.  I've been beating myself up about it because it's SO UNLIKE me to lose things.  But, by golly, I can't find that sucker anywhere.  I finally fessed up to our banking company about it last week and our new cards/numbers are in the mail.  Until they get here, I have no money. 

I told Kyle there's only a few things I can do to help celebrate Valentine's Day with no money.  One would be to go old-fashioned and work all day to clean the house, bathe the kids, and have dinner on the table when he walks in the door.  The other is, well, you can imagine. 

So, today he went in to work late and helped us get out the door to Bible Study.  I came home, lugged both girls in, and encountered a spotless house.  I guess he really stayed late to give me the present I was going to give him. 

Which only leaves me with the other thing.


I think I am still going to have the girls bathed and ready for bed when he comes home today.  That way, we can get on with our plans as quickly as possible.  We'd already decided to have a candlelit picnic on the living room floor after the girls are sleeping - that's what we did for our anniversary this year and it was such a tender memory, the perfect "date night" fit for our stage of life right now.

This past Sunday we had date night at our church.  We ate dinner and watched a webinar about making going out on dates with your spouse a regular activity.  They encouraged us to stay curious about our spouse. 

I loved this tidbit of challenge. 

So often, when Kyle and I DO get the rare opportunity to go out, we're exhausted by the time we close the car doors with the rush of getting everyone ready, and then we're dumbfounded because, suddenly, there's silence.  No kids fussing.  No one needing to be fed.  We can finally say more than two words to each other without being interrupted, but it's like we become tongue-tied.

I mean, what did we use to talk about before we had children?

Heck if I know.  Or remember.

That's why I'm going into our Valentine's picnic armed with a list of "get to know you" questions with a "love" orientation - it is Valentine's Day, after all. 

Some of the ones I've thought of include:

What's your favorite dating memory from before we were married?
If you could imagine the perfect date for us to go on, what would it be and why?
What's been your favorite memory from our married life so far?
How has having children changed your perspective of me or yourself?
What did your family do to celebrate Valentine's Day?  What traditions should we keep in our family?
What was the one thing that your dad did that let you know he loved your mom?
What was the one thing that your mom did that let you know she loved your dad?
Why did you want to get married/what did you look forward to about being married when you were little?
How have I satisfied what you were looking for in a spouse?
What do I do that makes you feel the most loved?
What advice would you pass on to your brothers about love, marriage, or children?
If you could eat only one dessert everyday for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If you could celebrate love in one place on earth, where would it be and why?
What do you think we'll be doing on Valentine's Day 50 years from now?
Where do you want to spend our 25th, 50th, 75th + wedding anniversary and why?
What can we do better or more of to show our girls what love is, that we love each other, etc?
What do you think your reaction will be when one of our girls tells you that she's in love?
What was going through your mind when you first saw me on our wedding day?
How has your definition of "love" changed as you've gotten older, had more experiences?

I'll tell y'all this as I love for Kyle has changed and deepened in every incredible way since having children.  In fact, one of my favorite "love" memories happened just the other day.  We were driving in the van on the way to date night.  We were talking about - what else? - our children and what it would be like to have more in the future.

Kyle said this to me:  "I'll tell you right now.  If we have a ton of girls and a boy at the end, I'll come out with a fiery vengeance if anybody tells me that 'you can stop now - you've finally got your boy.'  I love our girls and would count myself so lucky to share our family with all girls."

As a woman and as a mother to girls, hearing my husband and their father say that (and mean it!) made my heart all a'fluttery again.  Hearing and seeing how much he loves his daughters makes me love him even more.  And he loves them with passion, security, grace, and wisdom.  Knowing he loves them like he does is one of the greatest ways I feel his love FOR ME. 

don't we look like babies?  this pic is from the weekend right before I left for my study abroad trip.  we're only 21 - but will be getting married in 8 months!
Amazing how that works.

What are your favorite Valentine's memories? 

What are your best "get to know you" spouse questions?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Scarves: A Fool-Proof Mama Must-Have

You asked for it, you got it, my fellow mamas!

Recently, I sent out a FB query about favorite mama wardrobe styles and, overwhelmingly, your feedback indicated a love of scarves.

Scarves are the PERFECT spring and fall - winter accessory.  They do double-duty by keeping you warm and instantly adding an element of style to your outfit.  Throw one on and you can dress up or dress down FAST. 

And FAST is an essential ingredient to being a fashionable mama.  Because with kids in tow, you’ve got 5 seconds or less to get yourself dressed in the morning before the baby food is dragged out of the pantry for a picnic or the dvds are hurled across the living room like pretend snowballs or big sister is clambering into little sister’s crib and startling her from a morning nap.

At least that’s how it goes down at my house.

Scarves bring attention up to your face...and away from other parts of your body.  Parts that may have become baby-fied in the last few years.  :)  And, in draping on a scarf, you create a “Y” look.  “Y” looks are instantly slimming, elongating your body, making you appear sleek and trim.

OK. And, my all-time favorite reason for recommendation is that a conveniently-placed scarf can hide any unfortunate mama accident.  Like spit-up or slushy spill or nose wipe or, like in my house recently, sweet pea throw-up. 

When in doubt, grab a scarf on the go - it’s everyday glam for the busy mama without even trying.

Cotton, cashmere, silk, knit - you can't go wrong.

BUT. If you do happen to have 5 or more seconds and want to snaz up your style - grab a scarf plus a pendant.  Pendants easily transfer from necklaces to scarves and help your scarf POP.

Watch this.

Meet my friend, "Stiffanie."  She comes with me to every jewelry show.

Stiffanie's first look is a classic drape.  I LOVE this scarf.  Bright colors, long and flowy, light-weight.

The classic drape with a bit of bling.  Brooches are a fantastic way to add sparkle to your favorite winter accessory.  They look just as great on the lapel of a pea coat or blazer. 

Here, I pulled one end of the scarf down and made a "flower knot thingy" (just bunching up the fabric).  I secured the knot with another brooch.  This brooch can also double as a pendant on any necklace.  Notice how changing from a silver to gold brooch accentuated different colors in the same scarf.

Perhaps my favorite way to wear a scarf.  I call it - "the loopy deal."

The loopy deal with a western-style silver pendant.  I love the pizzazz - with the addition of the pendant, my scarf goes from accessory to "piece of jewelry."  So swank.

The Basic Waterfall.  To make this, you just knot two ends of the scarf together and loop it twice around your neck.  Pull one loop slightly lower than the other one.

And secure a swirly pendant.  To pair pendants with your scarves, you're going to need a fairly light-weight, skinny scarf. 

I call this look: "the gentleman's tie." And it's what I mean by a "Y" look.  It's a pretty boring scarf, but the addition of the golden brooch makes it elegant and exciting. 

Knitted/crocheted items are all the rage - especially when tied up in your hair like a kercheif.  And pairing this knitted scarf with a fun pendant gives this look a matured-youthful feel.
On a day like we’re having today, scarves are indispensable for playing in the snow.  We usually have at least one “big snow” every year and it’s almost always in February.  You can check out the last few big snows here and here

They called for a big snow last night into this morning, but it turned out to just be a little snow.  Nonetheless, we’re snuggled in and Kyle and Meggie are bundling up to go out and play in it right now. 

There they are.  My little snow bunnies.

Douglass even got in on the action.
 So, if you’re somewhere near here or have snow yourself - find your favorite cold-weather scarf, twirl it around, and go hit the slopes!

What are your favorite ways to wear scarves?