Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nature Walking

A couple of weeks ago, I pinned this "Nature Scavenger Hunt" image from thinking that it would be a fun activity to do with my preschool class during my favorite month of this beautiful fall season.

My kiddos at school loved it so much that I decided to do it with my little girlies yesterday. We enjoyed collecting lots of treasures.

We walked down the street and ended up at our neighborhood creek.

Love days like this. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Celebrating Milestones

This week was a big one for my little girl: with her third Birthday approaching, she went to the dentist for the first time.

 I scheduled her first appointment for the same time that her big sis would be getting her teeth cleaned. I thought that might give her some confidence. I had no idea what to expect from her because Addison's first experience at the dentist produced tears, screams, and defiance from my strong-willed girl. 

Before we left, I overheard Addison giving Ansley a pep talk. She told her that she wished she hadn't been so scared because the dentist really was nice and the toothpaste tasted so good and the prizes were so worth sucking it up and having a good attitude. I saw Ansley just nod her head.

Well, whatever Addsion said totally did the trick! Ansley rocked her first dentist visit like a champ! She let them clean and scrape and do a full exam. She was very quiet, but se didn't flinch or shed a tear.
Both girls did great and got great reports! We celebrated no cavities with a Pei Wei lunch with Daddy!

Celebrating generations

Life is so precious... And so unexpected... And so easy to just mull through without living intentionally. I am so guilty of this sometimes--just doing what I have to do to get through... To survive the day. I am so thankful for moments that snap me out of that--moments like last night.

My side of the family has 3 fall kid birthdays: Addison, Ansley, and Savannah. Parties now are small or skipped or friend-based, so Mom, Lindsay, and I decided to invite our grandparents to celebrate their great grandchildren. Gatherings like this take a lot of work, and my mom is such a great hostess and servant. We enjoyed our first chili of the season with gourmet cheese sandwiches, apples and caramel dip, and veggies. For dessert we had apple cake with caramel sauce and ice cream.

We also managed to capture this moment.
It was a fun night... And one that ended with this: Ansley choosing her fleece Christmas pajamas to sleep in. 

Holidays, are here, friends! ;)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up with Strings...

These are a few of my favorite things.

When Patrick and I recently took the 5 Love Languages test as a part of a marriage class we are doing at church, I was surprised that "gifts" was so far down on the list for I how I receive love. I really do love picking out the perfect gift for family and friends, and I love occasion gifts.

Speaking of occasions, Patrick and I are about to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. We looked at the traditional gifts of "8," and we found out that linens and bronze/brass top the list. It's hard to get too excited about linens, but we do need some new bed sheets. Done. The bronze/brass thing totally worked in my favor because I had been eyeing this Noonday Stacked Arrows necklace that I had been wanting:

Patrick also has asked me to update my Pandora wishlist, and one day when I went to do so, I opened up my browser to see this charm on the screen. Looks like he might have beaten me to the punch. I have been looking for suspicious packages in the mail. :) Keeping my fingers crossed for sure! I mean what a perfect charm to celebrate love, marriage, and DISNEY. ;)
Speaking of Disney, the love continues, especially when I opened up this package in the mail yesterday.
Ever since Patrick and I got married, we started the tradition of buying a Christmas ornament, coffee mug, and deck of playing cards from each vacation spot we traveled to.  We totally ran out of time to souvenir shop on our recent excursion to the land of Mickey, so we had to shop online when we got home. Since we've had kids, they have joined in on our tradition, each receiving an ornament from where we travel. When they move out and have their own families, they will get to take their ornaments with them. My parents did this with us when we were kids, and I still get excited to pull out my Hawaii, New York, and San Francisco ornaments each year. 

Patrick and I chose the Mickey ornament for ourselves. It has a trademark landmark from each of the 4 parks on it, and we got the girls the bells with Cinderella's castle on top of them. My favorite part that you can't see here, is that Tinkerbell is inside the bell as the ringer. So cute! You also can't really see the details of our coffee mug in this box, so here is a closer look. I love it and am totally hogging it already. ;)

The best part of these is that they are all gifts that keep on giving. 

Oh, and I got Patrick shoes for our anniversary. He needed them, and it's what he asked for. ;)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life Lessons from Taylor Swift: Why You Gotta Be So Mean???

About a year ago when Taylor Swift released her RED tour dates and Addison was wanting to dress up like her for Halloween, we thought it was hilarious and fun, and so Patrick expressed interest to his LP friend for any tickets that might be available. Well, we got some, but by the time this fall rolled around, the Miley Cyrus twerking fiasco had just happened, and I was nervously reluctant to expose the girls to anything that might compromise their innocence. Taylor still shows elegance and class, but you just never know how quickly someone in the limelight that can turn. Since we were going to be in the box and far enough away for any eyes to pop out, we went, and I am so glad we did. 

We surprised the girls with anothe pre-Birthday celebration, and this picture shows them after they found out where they were going.

 Taylor Swift was pretty chatty in between sets, and before she sang, "Why You Gotta Be So mean?" she talked about how much it hurts when people say hurtful things to her. She had thought the "mean girl" phenomenon would end in adolescence, but she had learned that people, no matter how old or young, had the ability to hurt or encourage others with their words. Addison asked me if she was talking to God, and I explained that she was talking to us. Even at barely 5 years old, being a girl is hard. Your best friend one day won't play with you on the playground the next day. A friend group of 3 always has an odd man out. 

This message from TSwift has had quite the impact on my little girl, and she's quoted her words from that night several times. That, in itself, was worth the whole night.
Here's to Taylor Swift keeping it real and keeping it clean.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Retro-Post: Back to School Celebrations

We've been back in school since the end of August, but it's never too late to document our celebration of a new school year.

I LOVE new school years. I always loved school growing up--shopping for new school supplies, a new planner, and back to school clothes, finding out who my teacher was and which friends would be in my class, and discovering which books were on our book list!

As I transitioned from a student to a teacher, I loved the same things in different ways. I loved making copies of my syllabus in fun fonts with inspirational literary quotes on bright colored paper, and when I ordered a novel for my students with course fees, I would get giddy opening up my Barnes and Noble boxes. I made a dramatic show of passing out books to my students, making them open them up and smell the pages. There is nothing like a new-book smell to English nerds.

When Patrick and I were engaged and talking about important stuff like budgets, dream vacations, how many kids, and who was responsible for what, I told him that one of my non-negotiables was that I would always need to have a new outfit for the first day of school. I didn't ask for much, so he obliged with a glimmer in his eye. ;)

Even though I no longer teach full-time, and my kids are in their preschool years, and I don't know how I feel anymore about how or where I will choose to educate them, the beginning of something new is always worth celebrating.  This year I decided that their "new" outfits would be homemade. After Patrick and I talked about putting our house on the market, I knew I had some sewing projects to tackle before I would be ready to pack some supplies away, so one Thursday night, I got busy and cranked out these appliqued shirts with matching shirts. They are full of imperfections, but I was still excited about them anyway.

As a rule, we try to steer clear from getting "Target Treats" all the time and just give our girls "occasion" gifts. It makes it more fun for me, and it makes them more appreciative, I think. Back to school gifts are some of my favorites, and when I heard that one of my favorite local gift shops was closing, I decided to stock up on some future gifts at such a discounted price. I was thrilled to get the girls these super cute personalized lap desks, and I filled them with new crayons, markers, pencils, coloring books, and preschool workbooks, and we picked them out some new water bottles.

Before school actually starts, we have a day called "Sunshine Smile Day" where parents bring their kids to meet their teachers while they attend an informational meeting. Addison was really excited to get to be in Mrs. Glenda's and Mrs. Carrie's class and in the long-awaited Pre-K program.  Ansley was excited to be in Mrs. Beth and Mrs. Debbie's class, and there were no tears for her this year. I was excited to meet my new 3's and 4's too. Since I am still new to the preschool world, I was anxious about how it would be without one of my own children in my class. Would I connect as well? Would I still have the patience, joy, and creativity that I would need to be effective? Honestly, it did take me a few times to get in the swing of things--as it always does no matter what level I teach--but I now have 11 sweet kiddos who have once again captured my heart.
Addison wrote the letters on the sign, and Ansley drew her trademark "Spider-sun."

(Luckily for Patrick, my new "first day of school" outfit is now partially provided by my employer, but I must tell you about the amazing dry fit "skort" concoction that I got. It is Royal Robbins at REI, and it is shorts covered by a skirt, and I would wear it every single day if I could get away with it. I really wanted to in Disney... It doesn't show sweat, and I can sit on the floor "criss cross apple sauce" because they are shorts, and I still follow dress code by not really wearing shorts since it's covered by a skirt. WIN.WIN.WIN.)

After Sunshine Smile Day, my girls were ready to go to school every single day, but they had to wait until the following Tuesday. We started off their first day with a hot breakfast (a rare delicacy), a fun sign, and a hand-in-hand walk into school.  I know that they will not always enjoy dressing alike, but right now they do, so I am milking it for all of its worth. Plus, this is the last year that they will be at the same school for a couple of years, so I wanted to etch this into my memory.

 I love these girls.
This is a moment that I will treasure for sure. My heart exploded.
They are both having great years so far, and I am continually so thankful that the Lord lead all of us to Sunshine School. It has been an answered prayer on so many levels.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Friends Who are Family

Our Saturday was blessed.

We got to spend good time having real conversations about life with our dear friends the Blackburns.

When we were newlyweds living in the same city (a.k.a. Footloose and fancy free) , we used to have slumber parties at each other's houses; we used to do spontaneous double dates; we stayed up all night scraping 7 layers of wallpaper and painting kitchens; we got our dog babies together for play dates; we had marathon life group gatherings.

Later, we celebrated the excitement of simultaneous pregnancy announcements and have watched our kids bond as babies and consider themselves honorary cousins.

Today we celebrated Franklin in the fall.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday Fun

In our month that is jam/packed full of celebrations, sometimes it is refreshing to appreciate a good regular ordinary day.

Since our house is on the market, I am finding it easier to get out of the house with the girls... It's easier to keep it "show ready" that way. After a lazy morning, we ventured out to Target to spend some Birthday gift cards, and what do you know!?! Both girls picked out Ariels.
Ariel is overtaking my home!!!! 

They thought it was so cool to pay for their goodies themselves, and their favorite thing to do at Target is to sit in this red circle thing. I love that the best things in life are free.

Afterwards, we had packed a lunch, and so we went back to Pinkerton Park to eat and play with friends from ballet last year. We had each been to Disney back to back, had even planned our trips together during ballet hour, so we were both aching to swap stories. Aubrey and Addison are both in PreK, and Ainsley and Ansley are both about to be 3. Love it when things work out like that!

Good play equals good rest, so we all three took some hard naps today! After we woke, up we played with new Birthday toys until it was time for Pizza-Movie Friday. The girls got all they could have asked for or dreamed of, and one of their cutest gifts came in the mail yesterday from their sweet friend Mary Ella and her talented momma. These peg princesses are so intricately detailed. Ariel, Belle, and Mulan are displayed in Addison's room, and Cinderella, Sofia, and Aurora are in Ansley's room. 

Haley has an etsy shop where you can buy personalized family peg people, princesses, and Pixar people. We love our long distance friends!

Now, we're just watching some Cinderella with full pizza bellies. Loving these days with little ones in the house. 

So thankful to celebrate the ordinary today with some Good Friday fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Partying like a PRINCESS

Well, today was the day--the day we celebrated my 5 and almost 3-year-old! This is a picture of their beautiful, decadent, dairy and egg free princess cake! [One of my preschool co-worker friends has an amazing cake business that has exploded. If you are in the Middle Tennessee area, you should totally look in to 'Tis So Sweet Cakes.]

They gasped when they saw it! I was overjoyed that Ansley could eat her own cake! She was too--so much so that she had two pieces! ;)

They had fun running around Tinkerbell Playground at Pinkerton Park with their friends and eating cake. It was a beautiful day!

We went to dinner afterwards, and they had so much fun that they looked like this on the way home:

 But they totally got a second wind after bath time. They insisted on wearing their Sofia dresses to open presents from their friends.

These are all of the pictures that I have from my phone, but I didn't want to let the day go by without documenting this special celebration! These girls are blessed with many people in their lives who love them.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Celebrating 5

I cannot believe that my baby is 5.YEARS.OLD.  The day before her Birthday, I instagrammed this collage of some of my favorite photos of her:
It really does seem like just yesterday that I was holding her in my arms for the first time--falling completely in love with this little person, my Addison Camille.

On the day before her Birthday, I made some castle and crown princess cookies and took them to school to share with her class (on Sofia napkins to boot). She was excited to get to wear her special hat and have Mrs. Carrie do the Birthday "cha-cha-cha" with her.

After school we went to our favorite park, Pinkerton, for a play date with Savannah that she had been begging for. Savannah brought her an early birthday surprise too--a Sofia plush doll and...The.Amulet.Of.Avalar. All she has EVER wanted. ;) Loved letting these kiddos play with each other!
The next morning when she woke up, she requested Mickey Mouse pancakes. Of course I obliged the Birthday girl this request, and I surprised her when it came on an Ariel plate with an Ariel napkin and a "5" candle. I wish I had recorded the giggles.

Next she got to open her presents from her great grandparents: Ariel Lego Duplos, duh. The only OTHER thing she has EVER wanted. (We may have heard this a few times. ;) )
 We had to get ready for her 5-year-old well visit, and I let her pick out her clothes. She insisted on bringing Kit (in her Birthday dress--thanks, Mom!) and Sofia just in case she had to get a vaccine.  (I hadn't told her, but she was supposed to get 2. We got there, and they were out of vaccines... Special little Birthday surprise she didn't even know she got...)  She also orchestrated this picture. Bless.
We dropped Ansley off at my mom's since she lives down the street from our pediatrician, and it was Ansley's nap time. On our way there, my dad called and said he was coming home for lunch, so he and mom gave Addison her birthday presents: roller skates and an Alice in Wonderland dress (the ONLY other things she has EVER wanted). We had a quick lunch and went to the doctor where I learned that Addison is in the 95% for height and 65% for weight and is growing and developing as a little 5-year-old girl should.  She wouldn't stop talking to Dr. Leeper (who we love love love as a ped and even-more-so since he is a shepherd at our church)--even as he had a tongue depressor in her mouth. He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and I just shrugged. I did get tickled as I watched him fight getting tickled when she told him that she's really not eating her boogers anymore because they have dirt and germs in them... Bless...

When we picked Ansley up and got back home to make Addison her Birthday dinner of Poppyseed Chicken Casserole, rice, strawberries, and salad (her request), she immediately transformed into Alice and began signing autograph books, playing Disney World with her sister again.
As they waited for Patrick to get home, they stared longingly at her presents that she got to open AFTER dinner.
First she blew out candles again with another iced castle cookie (saving the cake for their little party).

Then she opened her card and money from her Nana and Pop, and by then, her sister was busting at the seams to give her the present that she got her.  She had already told her earlier in the day--I heard her whisper to her--that she had gotten her a new "Kit book," but Addison was sweet and still acted surprised.

Then we gave her our boring ones: clothes and shoes--things she NEEDS. ;)

Then she opened her remaining few things:

Patrick gave the girls a bath, and then Addison put BACK on her Alice in Wonderland dress to watch her movie of choice: The Little Mermaid, of course. ;) [Side note: She has worn this dress EVERY DAY since her Birthday.  Sometimes like this as Alice. Other times, she just wears the blue part, asks for a low ponytail and wears blue slippers as Wendy Darling. Other times, she tucks in the collar, wears princess shoes and a "half-tail" with a ribbon and parades around as Ariel-human. We had NO idea she would love a dress-up dress THIS much, but it has provided HOURS upon HOURS of entertainment.] 

It was the perfect ending to a special day.

At 5 years old, Addison loves princesses, fairy tales, Disney World, Kit Kittredge, playing dress up, writing and coloring, reading, riding her bike, roller skating, and playing soccer. She is starting to read more fluently and is picking up new words and sounds every day. She loves to eat and has been going through a growth spurt. She is trying new things like avocado, mango, other new vegetables, new casseroles, and chicken salad sandwiches from Meridees and the Puffy Muffin are her favorites. She also loves oatmeal cream pies and starbursts. She is very social and makes new friends wherever she goes. She is starting to get more self-conscious about her beautiful curls, and she is starting to evangelize. Her teacher told me last week that she overheard Addison asking one of her friends if she wanted to be a Christian and follow Jesus. ;) Addison told me last night that she "lives life with merriment," and that made my heart overflow with love.

I love this little 5-year-old more than I could ever imagine, and Patrick and I are so thankful for, sometimes challeged with, but mostly blessed by this sweet, spunky, strong-willed, fun-loving, fierce, full-of-life, friendly little girl.