Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jesus' birthday party

Our Christmas journey was a little bit crazy this year.  It was our first long distance road trip with both of the girls in tow, but it actually went shockingly well thanks to our only Black Friday purchase -- a DVD player for the car.  All of our surprises would surface after we arrived at our destination.  Our car got a flat tire (which had been repaired before we left), the plumbing under the kitchen sink at my in-laws was massively leaking and they scrambled to find a plumber open on Christmas Eve, my grandfather got a stomach bug so he missed meeting Hannah for the first time, and then Hannah & I got sick with bad colds (were both running fevers and placed on antibiotics by the time we got to an after hours clinic) so we missed seeing our friends.  My head was a total fog for almost all of our visit.

But amid the hustle and bustle, we had a great time just being together with our families and watching the little ones delight in the magic of Christmas.  Lucy woke up next to me on Christmas morning and whispered, "It's Jesus' birthday party!"  Wow.  I thought that the real meaning of the holiday had really sunk in and was so proud -- I mean, we have been reading Christmas books, singing carols, attending children's time in church, talking about the nativity scene, etc. for weeks.  But... then she continued with, "It's Daddy birthday party! And Hannah birthday, too!".  At least we're getting closer.  :)

Lucy really took her time opening each gift and would exclaim, "Mama, look what I got!" with a huge smile and an expression of sheer joy.  And my happy baby Hannah was thrilled just to crinkle wrapping paper and to have a seemingly endless supply of arms available to hold her -- her very most favorite thing.  Santa was very good to me this year... I finally got a DSLR camera!  You can see the evidence of my new present (major props to the hubby) in these two shots and in the slide show below.  The first couple of pics in the slide show are from my old camera and the rest are from the new one -- you can really tell the difference in picture quality.  I am so excited about learning how to use it to capture the unique expressions of my beautiful subjects.  Yay! 

Merry Christmas to all!!!

Merry and bright

Trying on Pop Pop's reading glasses

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Life's a zoo

For this week's Wordless Wednesday edition, a few pictures from our recent trip to the BREC Baton Rouge Zoo to see the holiday "Zoo Lights" decorations.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Just look at those baby blue eyes and that spiky strawberry-blond hair and those cheeks.  Oh, those sweet pinchable cheeks.  And don't even get me started on that "life is wonderful" grin.  I have a hard time with people who don't fawn all over themselves when in contact with such a happy chubby baby. 

I know, I know "every crow thinks hers is the blackest" and all that.  But, come on.  Seriously.  :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

And then there were four...

Helping Daddy trim the tree

Building our first ever gingerbread house with sweet Cooper
There was something so fulfilling and exciting about hanging stockings up this year.  The babies we have been dreaming about and praying for the last few years are here at last, in our little home, ready to experience the joy and love that surrounds the holiday season.  Andrew & I have been a married unit since April 2004, but now it finally feels like we are really a family.  I guess I can't really describe the emotions all that well in words.

Lucy was hardly aware of Christmas last year, but this year is a whole other story.  She adored getting to decorate the tree and has really enjoyed reading Christmas stories, ranging from the nativity story to Santa Claus to Olivia.  She has helped me roll out and decorate sugar cookies for her school's holiday party, declared that she wants a "train, princess, and football" from Santa, and sung bits and pieces of random carols (like Frosty the "No-man").  But I think she's most impressed with the bling and keeps asking to go see the lights in our neighborhood!  It's such a blast to see the magic of Christmas through a little one's eyes, especially since she has yet to be caught up in the commercial aspect of the season.

I love Christmas -- not only is it a special time devoted to celebrating the birth of our Savior, but done correctly, it's also a time to express generosity to friends and families and those in need.  Plus, I've always been ministered to through music so the simplicity and passion expressed through a beautifully-sung Christmas hymn gets me every time.  You will never see me with dry eyes after a room full of people sing a candlelit, a capella version of Silent Night during Christmas Eve service. 

However... our extended families are "broken" by divorce, our grandfathers are celebrating without the long-time companionship of their wives, and the amount of hurt and need in the world sometimes seems cruel and overwhelming.  So my prayer for this holiday season is for LOVE.  Love to heal hearts and relationships and bodies.  Love that mirrors that of a Father who gave his only son to bring hope to the world.  Amid the rampant chaos and spending and loneliness and hurry, I'm trying to make this Christmas all about love, love, love.  Join me?  

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas card outtakes edition

Showing off our new Christmas pjs ~ thanks Honey!

This is one of a series where Lucy is either: sticking her finger in Hannah's mouth, pulling her ears, placing her in a headlock, or making sister mad by holding her hands down.  Needless to say... we didn't use any of these.  :)

Watching "Frosty the Snowman" (again!) and getting a little emotional when he starts to melt

Okay, so this one wasn't really taken for the purpose of using it on a card, but I couldn't resist posting it.  I mean, cute baby hat + cheap plastic Dora sunglasses + big Daddy smile = priceless.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Turning tricks

Hannah is now 5 months old (!) and has recently acquired a who new set of skills and tricks.  Here are a few adorable highlights:

Learning to sit up by myself

Devouring Eating oatmeal cereal & trying out veggies like sweet potatoes

Finding my feet and trying to stick them in my mouth

Snuggling with sister in her big girl bed.  She's particularly fond of "hugging" me in a headlock position.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

School lunch

My little Butterball 

Her placemat read: "I am thankful for Hannah."  Be still my heart!

Chef Ronnell lovingly prepares the feast

Andrew and I attended our daycare's annual Thanksgiving lunch for parents yesterday and experienced our first "divide and conquer" scenario -- he ate in the Tigers classroom with Lucy and I ate in the Nursery with Hannah.  It's a wonderful opportunity for us to slow down a little bit and show our appreciation for the people who do an amazing job of caring for our little ones.  It's also nice to get a chance to visit with the other parents and swap stories from the trenches.  Mr. Ronnell is the center's on-site chef (he runs a catering business on the side) and he makes a mean fried turkey and cornbread dressing combo!  The teachers helped the kids create personalized place mats for their families and make crafts to decorate the dining rooms.

We moved Lucy to this center when she was 9 months old & it's one of the best decisions we've made -- there's yet to be a single day that I picked her up that she hasn't been smiling and content.  Yet another thing to be grateful for this holiday season ~ people who love your children and are invested in their growth.  It's the only thing that makes it possible for this working mommy to get to the office everyday.  Oh, and did I mention that Lucy's teacher, Ms. Betty, was absolutely instrumental in our potty training success?  We love her.

I got to end the lunch by rocking Hannah to sleep in the nursery glider before heading back to work.  Thanks again Southside for the thoughtful meal and for everything you do for our babies!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The help

Hannah is eating rice cereal now and big sister is oh-so-eager to lend a helping hand. It's like playing baby doll come to life! We may be just a tad bit enthusiastic forceful with the spoon, but... our heart is certainly in the right place. Lucy is all about baby sister right now -- she shares her lovey when Hannah starts crying, smothers her with goodnight kisses, and wants to help me change her diaper. I even caught her "reading" Hannah a book the other night (complete with showing the pictures like a librarian at story time) while I put away laundry. Fingers crossed that these warm & fuzzy feelings continue to permeate our household and that Hannah survives all of Lucy's "help" with her limbs fully intact.

Lucy showing baby sister how to eat with a spoon -- she's a pro!

Hannah's not completely sure what to think about this new taste/texture, but she's slowly getting the hang of it.

P.S. Would you just look at that sweet baby skin and those rubber-band thighs? Swoon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday ~ For Aunt Katie

Lucy ~ 28 months

Hannah ~ 4 months

Now who's lame?  :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Five on Friday ~ Halloween edition

The "top 5" things I loved about this Halloween season:

1.  Getting to put my kids in matching outfits for the first time!  This struck me as something so incredibly fun and inherently girly -- I can't wait to do it again at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I used to hate it when my mom put me & my sister in matching clothes, but I totally get it now.

My favorite "lay lay" bug
2.  Picking out tiny pumpkins and posing in our church's annual pumpkin patch.  Oh, and actually making it to church only slightly late on-time for the first time since Hannah's birth.

3.  Leaving work early to participate in our daycare's Fall Fest activities.  Lucy got her face painted, did a bean bag toss, and pinned a tail on the pumpkin and received candy along the way.  Mommy got to spend a Friday afternoon outside in beautiful weather with her two best girls.  Win-win.

4.  Seeing the delight on my big girl's eyes as she ran from door to door to trick-or-treat for the first real time this year.  Lucy's still saying, "I go trick-or-treat. Get candy in pumpkin!"  Here she is with her friend Cooper (aka Buzz Lightyear), inspecting their loot.

5.  Experiencing the pure joy of watching your good friend's child become friends with your own.  There's simply nothing like it, and we're so fortunate to have the James family in our lives.

Cooper and his sweet mama Jessi

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Stay Brady Stay': The Louisiana brain drain | Washington Times Communities

Check out this very interesting article about one of the most pressing issue facing our great state. I adore Louisiana's culture and colorful history (and it seems the author does too), but... his commentary pretty much explains why almost none of my friends from high school still live here.

'Stay Brady Stay': The Louisiana brain drain Washington Times Communities

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

True love

 ...is balancing a breast pump on your knees to pump milk for your 3-month old in a bathroom during a work meeting outside of the office.  That's two trips to a cramped stall to stare at the back of a badly painted turquoise door and try not to fall asleep while listening to the monotonous whir of the motor.  While sitting hunched over on a toilet seat.  In dress clothes and heels.  And then asking the cafeteria ladies to store it in the refrigerator.

Some days the only thing that keeps me going is thinking about this sweet little face.

Tummy time ~ for Candace

In addition to encouraging me to spend some quality "tummy time" with Hannah to encourage her physical development, my friend Candace has also been encouraging my spiritual development lately.  It's so easy to get bogged down into the everydayness of life when you have little ones and feel like picking up, giving baths, folding laundry, changing dirty diapers, and cooking macaroni & cheese for the 100th time has taken over your very existence.  She should know -- she has three little ones at home, ages 5 and under, including a new baby.

One of her recent blog posts reminded me that God recognizes all the little things we do for the benefit of others and that we should approach even the most mundane tasks as if we were doing them for Him:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.
~Colossians 3:23

Thanks friend.

Friday, September 17, 2010

When I say "Geaux"

...you say "Tigers"!





Yes, that's right folks, this weekend is the first LSU home football game of the year!  You can feel the electricity and excitement in the air ~ which is still a lovely 94 degrees ~ all around Baton Rouge.  The RVs have arrived on campus, mini flags are waving from car windows, and everyone is sporting purple & gold at work (and daycare) today. 

We'll be at a wedding in New Orleans so I'll have to miss the game (seriously, who schedules a wedding on a football Saturday night in South Louisiana?).  Hopefully my little cheerleaders will give our Bayou Bengals the added push they need to pull out the win!  If not, at least they'll still look cute. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Someone turned 35 this week...

and it wasn't me!  Although Lucy would have you believe it was her birthday.  All week long.   :) 

Happy birthday, Andrew!!!  Your girls all had a wonderful time celebrating your special day with you.  I pray that this new year of your life brings you abundant health, joy, blessings, and success.  We love you!

I sure do wish I had some teeth right about now!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Great grandparents

According to Wikipedia, "National Grandparents Day is a secular holiday celebrated originating in the United States in 1978 and now officially recognized in a number of countries on various days of the year."  It always falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day and is meant to "...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer".

To us, Grandparents Day means paying tribute to the people in our children's lives who:

Come and take care of them for a week while their baby's in the hospital giving birth to her new baby,

take wonderful pictures of them with your fabulous camera to give them happy memories of being little,

delight in their every last word and encourage a tremendous love of reading,

drive fours hours without blinking an eye every time they get sick to love on them and make them peal with laughter,

push them in a swing until their arms get tired, take them boat riding, and pretend to drink their "coffee",

and get in the car for a road trip at the age of 92 just to smile as they watch their only great-grandchildren coo and play.

We are just so very thankful for the ways that all of the grandparents in our lives love us and our children unconditionally.  I pray that my daughters will one day develop the kind of relationship with them that I had with my Mammaw.  I miss her so much today that my heart aches, and I'd give anything to hear her voice or get one of her letters in the mail.  Her love shaped my life in such a positive way and I'm eternally grateful for the person she was and the way she lived her life. 

I can't wait to introduce Hannah to my Pappaw soon -- I think she looks a little bit like Mammaw, and I know that will touch and delight him to no end.  Happy Grandparent's Day!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Five for Friday

Since it's been a while since I've had a post exclusively dedicated to my first-born (who has been happily declaring, "I a big gurl!" this week), here's a glimpse into five of her current favorite things:

1.  Pockets, as in "I pockets, Mama!" (oh, and saying 'cheese' for the camera).

2.  Playing the guitar like Daddy.  Current favorite hits include: The Alphabet Song, Mommy's Song (a variation on the Elmo's World theme song), and The Wheels on the Bus.  She's even got the strumming and singing at the same time thing down pat.  Watch out, Taylor Swift!

3.  Dora sunglasses, and well... everything Dora.  She's more than a little obsessed with everyone's favorite 'super cool exploradora' right now.  If I hear, "I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the map, I'm the maaaaap!" one more time...

4.  Sparkly princess shoes.  I mean, with kicks this fabulous, who can really blame her?

5.  Chocolate milk.  We pretty much ask for "chocko malk" all day long, every single day.  At least she's getting plenty of calcium, right? 

Summer time and the livin' is easy when you're two!  I love you, big girl.  Just stop getting big so fast.