Christmas Continued

9 Feb

Let’s see…I left off on Christmas Eve, with us having decided to stay in Richmond till Christmas morning.  A hard decision–but ultimately, we wanted to try to preserve some time for our little family to make Christmas memories before we headed off to spend time with my family in Lynchburg.

We went to an early kid-friendly service at our church, BUT we barely made it on time because of this:  for the first time, probably ever, both of my children had been napping for a good 2 1/2 hours  (at the same time, people!) when it came time to leave for church.  I had been so darn shocked by all the free time that I even managed to paint my nails!  And Philip and I literally sat around wondering when these crazy children were going to wake up.  It sort of saddens me to tell you that we actually woke them up so we could get to the service before it was over–it was Christmas Eve after all.  So, we will never know how long both children would have continued to nap at the same time…alas.

Here are my offspring at church displaying their affinity for straying from the pack, if you will.

{please note my sweet, disheveled daughter’s missing shoe, a very typical display for her, I might add.}

Does Wade not look like he stepped right out of a Charles Dickens novel?

Once we returned home, Wade and I got to work finishing up the birthday cake we’d been preparing for Jesus.  I am hoping this may become a new family tradition for us each year. And can I just tell you how much it warmed my heart to see how much Wade enjoyed baking together?  He truly loved it!  The measuring, the pouring, the mixing, and even the tasting!

You may be wondering how in the world we managed to make a cake that little Wade could eat.  This is a fair question.  Unfortunately, our cake was anything but tasty (though I do have an excellent recipe for cupcakes that Wade can eat), but in some ways, I feel like that fact is just so fitting.  It seems to me that our dense, not-so-appetizing cake with overly sugary artificial frosting is not such a bad metaphor for how we relate to Jesus after all.  If it’s true that even our best efforts are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) then I just love how our little cooking endeavor reminds me that the things we bring to God that we think may please him might as well be as yucky as that cake we made was.  Because He is already fully pleased with us in Christ, we can bring nothing else to the table to improve our standing.  And while Jesus himself was not around to tell us he loved our cake all the same, I feel certain that he did, and that he was delighted by our heart’s desire to celebrate Him.  Can I get an Amen?  🙂

It does my heart some kinda good to see my boy get to eat treats he thinks are really yummy and special.  {On a side note, did you realize that store-bought frosting–the kind you purchase next to the boxed cake mixes–does not contain any dairy?  While I consider it rather troubling that this is the case, especially for something like buttercream frosting, it comes in handy for us, I must say!}

Another treasured Christmas activity was opening a “door” each night, as Wade called it.  I got this Advent-y thing from a White Elephant gift exchange years ago, and I sure am glad I hung onto it because Wade adored it!  Each day the highlight of  the day (really!) was getting to open his door.  Such delight, I tell you.  Even if he only found a cookie or piece of candy he’d already seen from around the house, he was just thrilled to find out what was behind each door.  So very sweet.

After the kids went to bed, Santa and Mrs. Claus got busy wrapping the gifts and setting them up.  I grew up with very few presents wrapped (I thought it was so fun to walk in the room and see everything right away!), whereas Philip grew up with all of his presents wrapped.  So, we met in the middle like any good marriage does 🙂 , and we wrapped some and left one for each child unwrapped.

Holland and Wade each received three gifts (you know, just like Jesus received when he was a baby from the wise men).  Inspired by parents I consider far wiser than myself, we decided to try to intentionally keep the gifts from feeling overwhelming.  It struck us that our children are so young–and have such simple (and beautiful!) expectations, why rush into giving them reason to expect more?  It’s hard enough as it is to focus on the gift of Jesus coming to earth as a human!  I have to admit there was a part of me that was inclined to think that if we give them more, they’ll have a better/happier/more perfect Christmas, but the reality is, this is just not true.  I know it’s true because I know it myself–I think I will be happier when I get more things, but I never am.  Anyway, we certainly don’t presume to be doing things perfectly; this was just something we tried. (post edit:  I guess  Wade technically got four gifts, since he received two books.)

After everything had been tended to and I headed up to bed, I remember looking out at our living room softly aglow with the evening light, with the stockings hung and gifts displayed, and thinking to myself, “this is the last year we’ll celebrate Christmas in this house!” Clearly, I’m gonna be a wreck come summer…

I totally forgot to take a picture of the food we left out for Santa and the reindeer (one of my favorite parts growing up!) on Christmas Eve, so I snapped one first thing Christmas morning.

Santa must have been hungry! (Wade’s great-grandparents gave him this little wagon for his first Christmas.  It was the perfect spot for the goodies!)

Santa also gave the kids a play kitchen (we have actually since returned it because we weren’t in love with it and neither child has so much as asked about it…maybe we were a little off in predicting they’d like it?  We wish we could afford this one.)

They were excited to open their gifts though for sure!

A puzzle!

pots and pans! (her little hand on that lid makes me melt!!)

A Mater sticker book!  (you may recall this was basically the only thing Wade asked for!)

Next up is Christmas with my family, but for now, I am off–baby girl is up from her nap (I’m convinced she’s programmed to wake up after an hour and a half every single day, I can pretty much set my watch to it!)

Lots of Catching Up to Do

6 Feb

There has been so much going on lately.  Here it is February and it feels a little strange to share pictures from Christmas.  Maybe I should just move on and share a little of what’s been happening more recently?  There have been some really happy times, but they have been balanced by some hard things as well.  More on all of that to come.  Let me see if I can just do a Christmas photo dump, just to keep my little brain feeling somewhat organized.

My good friend, Leslie and I hosted a neighborhood cookie swap together.  It was a really fun excuse to load up on yummy treats while mingling with old and new friends.  Our neighborhood is full of so many great folks…I’m really going to miss this place.

I had a moment while I was writing Christmas cards when it occurred to me that I should take a picture to capture the festiveness of the scene.

I’ve had that reindeer mug forever.  It makes me smile 🙂

For some reason, our (fall-blooming) Camellia chose to bloom during December.  She was rather beautiful, I thought.

A Christmas mantle is always fun! (Even if your greenery is way dried out…)

I’ll always be grateful my mom taught me how to make a wreath.  So easy and such a classic, Christmas look.

Wade and I were able to get the last seats on the horse-drawn carriage ride through Carytown.  (No such luck for Holland and Philip; you win some, you lose some.)

This little elf discovered a new favorite activity: pulling wipes out of the wipe container, of course!

One of Wade’s favorite Christmas activities was his Advent calendar.  Each day meant a new sticker!

We decided to stay in Richmond for Christmas Eve.  That morning we had a special breakfast as a family–chocolate chip pancakes for the kiddos and baked eggs for Philip and myself.

Ok, so I lied.  That obviously isn’t all of my Christmas pictures, but I’m too tired to finish!  Goodnight! 🙂

Could she be any sweeter?

21 Jan

I interrupt this series of Christmas updates to show you the most precious thing ever.  (not that I’m biased or anything)

Holland doesn’t yet know how to say ‘yes’, so I should probably teach her the baby sign for it, but I can’t quite bring myself to do that because this is her ‘yes’:

As soon as you utter the words she wants to hear, be it “Holland, do you want something to eat?” or whatever the thing is she wants, she flashes the biggest affirmative grin.  It is hysterical and so very sweet!

ps.  Right now, for the first time ever since my little girl was born, both she and her brother are staying with their grandparents for the weekend!  Apparently, Holland really misses her mama, but I know she’ll be ok–she’s safe and being loved on by her doting Mimi and Papa, and we’ll be back together tomorrow.  In the meantime, I’m working away at a to-do list that should probably be reserved for a good two month time-slot (as opposed to one weekend!).  Of course I’m convinced I can conquer the world with all the free time I’m enjoying!

Happy Weekend to you!

Christmas Recap {Part 1}

19 Jan

This was the first year that Christmas was marked by a trip to sit on Santa’s lap (several trips, in fact).  

Now, despite the fact that the above photo is completely ridiculous (but no less a true–and frankly, hilarious picture of this particular moment, I mean, look at each person!  Cracks me up!), I have to tell you it doesn’t really do our experience of meeting Santa justice.  This was actually our second visit to see him, and clearly Miss Thang was not too keen on the large man in the red suit.  However, a few days prior we had an impromptu visit with Mr. Claus at Tyson’s Corner mall the evening before Thanksgiving.  Why am I sharing all these details?  Only because I will remember it as one of the most memorable and treasured experiences I have had as a mother.

Let me explain.

We stopped in to the mall to do a return en route to visit Philip’s family for Thanksgiving.  We hadn’t thought about the possibility of Santa being there and Wade had never “met” him before, but we had begun to talk about Santa in preparation for the Christmas holiday (this was of course after much thought about whether or not our family would “do Santa,” which is perhaps another post in and of itself…we don’t over-think things at all around here 😉  Anyway, the mall was uncharacteristically calm and relatively empty, and despite the fact that it was getting on to dinner and bed time, our kids were doing well and we were all having a rather nice time together (something I do not take for granted in the slightest!  I am telling you, successful trips out into public are no small thing.)  We spotted Santa and noticed there was no line at all to see him, so we casually asked Wade if he’d like to go and sit on his lap.  He said that he did, and what followed was the. sweetest. thing. ever.

In his own little shy way, Wade sat on Santa’s lap, only making eye contact every couple of moments, but clearly in awe.  When asked what he wanted for Christmas, he sweetly answered, “stickers”.  melt. my. heart.  When pressed for what else he wanted, he said “Mater.”  It was just so dear.  I didn’t have my camera (and the mall didn’t allow you to take pictures), and I have to say, I think that was just what I needed.  I was able to be in the moment and enjoy it.  I am so thankful for the times like this, however small, that refresh me and remind me of the joy my vocation as a mother can bring.

{This picture was taken on a different occasion too, but it does capture the essence of my boy and his sweet demeanor with Santa.}

On a particularly warm day in December, we donned some cute Christmas clothes and headed to to the park.

I adore that picture of Wade 🙂  I must tell you though, that I clearly recall a rather ugly temper-tantrum preceding this very cute moment (one of his precious collected sticks was lost when it fell out of his grasp while crossing the street, horror of all horrors!)

This is how Holland prefers to go down the slide:

Yes, head first.  I love the look of pure joy on her face.  It fascinates me that she wants to throw herself down the slide, whereas it was only relatively recently that Wade became comfortable going down the slide sitting up!

He has no fear now though and loves the tall, “twisty” slides.

Bloomer alert!

It was fun to decorate the tree as a family this year, as this was the first year Wade really got into it.

 Checking out a digger ornament from last year…

It really warmed my heart to find Wade studying a needlepoint ornament my mom made for me the year I turned one.

Two treasured ornaments to commemorate each of my babies’ births.

One weekend we made a trip back to Busch Gardens to experience ‘Christmastown.’  It was cold and there weren’t quite as many things to do to entertain our kids as we found at Halloween, but we still had a good time.
Of course we had to revisit our favorite–the bumper cars!
And while I have no pictures of it, Wade very much enjoyed a performance by the Sesame Street cast.
Another fun memory from Christmas was Wade’s class party at preschool.
His teacher did such a great job of incorporating thoughtful activities into the celebration that taught the children about Jesus’
Of course Miss Holland had to get in on the fun too!
Philip initiated a rendition of Ring-Around-the-Rosy, which is what got the children into the idea of running in circles 🙂
My favorite part was watching them enjoy each other.

A few bedroom changes

17 Jan

I’ve been slowly working on putting together a post with Christmas pictures to share, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a few I took today of our bedroom.  I know I posted about it before, but around here things are always changing…So here’s how she’s lookin as of this afternoon 🙂  (I obviously think this kinda thing is fun, my apologies if you were hoping to see pictures of my little people…more on them soon, I promise 🙂

And just as a refresher, this was her former look:

So, here’s what’s changed:

We got a duvet! (thanks to a generous Christmas gift from Philip’s parents!)–I found it at Tuesday Morning, and I love it.  I am a fan of crisp, clean white bedding.  I love that I can switch out other things (like the quilt) if I happen to crave a change (who me?) and still keep my white duvet.

-The quilt at the foot of the bed was Philip’s grandmother’s.  I’ve always loved it, and a little lightbulb went off in my head when it occurred to me that I should put it on our bed!

-The little yellow pillow actually belonged to my grandmother.  I think it’s kinda neat that we have both of our grandmothers represented here, though it wasn’t intentional 🙂

-I changed out the trim on the skirted table.  I saw this trim and knew I had to use it somewhere.  I am crazy about it.

-The other side of the bed has a new piece of furniture.  A friend was about to donate it to Goodwill, so I gladly took it off her hands-I love campaign furniture and I love how the scale works with the skirted table.

Don’t you love my orchid with no blooms?

Thanks for humoring me and reading about my silly little decorating adventures 🙂


25 Dec

Merry Christmas, friends!

For me, the Christmas season is typically a time of great anticipation, expectation, excitement, and a good hearty dose of stress and anxiety as well.  For sure a lot of it is culturally based, but whatever the reason, I’ve always said that Christmas is better as it exists in my head, which admittedly, is a bit of a strange thing to say.  It just can never quite seem to measure up to my expectations!  I know I feel a lot of pressure (mostly self-inflicted) to do meaningful things around Christmas, to really soak up the season, and enjoy it all to the fullest.  Of course I also want to think of and give just the right gifts (so not my strength!), and I want to teach my children to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas.  I’d like to think we could make lots of festive holiday crafts and baked goods.  Maybe serve someone in need?  And let’s not forget those Christmas decorations; I’m not gonna lie, I want my house to look the part of Christmas too!

I can’t say that I’m over all of these things, and I shouldn’t be because most of them are generally good things.  But I can say that this year I have truly felt an excitement about Christmas that has felt fresh and different to me.  Maybe it’s the season of life I’m in–as I’ve shared before, motherhood has brought me to my knees unlike anything else I’ve ever done.  So I suppose I see how very badly I need Christmas to come–because I need Christ to come.  And He did come!   He came to save me from myself in the form of a tiny, needy baby.  Truly miraculous when you stop and think about it.  This truth has brought joy, excitement, and thankfulness to my little dark and sinful heart.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about some of these things at our small group from church.  We talked about how we think we need to do a lot of things to prepare for Christmas, when really there is one thing and one thing only that we truly need to be prepared for Christmas.  That thing is our need for Him.  We bring our need and God brings His son.  Praise Him!

What good news it is that, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.” Isaiah 9:2.  

Here are a few more pictures taken by the talented Amy Robinson.  I was so happy with how she captured our family.  Especially considering my little rascal son who made the whole experience rather challenging to say the least (love you, Wader-tater).


A few more fall highlights

25 Dec

I am bound and determined to finish recapping our fall before Christmas gets here, so I don’t have much time.  Here we go!

Back in October, we travelled to Charlottesville for a birthday party.  Our good friends, Holly and Jay’s little boy Joel turned one, and we were so glad we got to be there for the festivities.

Joel was fascinated by big-boy Wade.  It was so cute to watch him try to push Wade around!

October 10th was a very special day–it was ‘Donuts for Dads’ at Wade’s preschool!  I sent Philip with the camera, and he made me so proud when he returned with a slew of pictures!  {please note Wade’s special “donut”…thank you again, Pinterest, where would I be without you?  Recipe for vegan donuts found here}

A group of us threw a baby shower for our friend, Caley.  She just recently welcomed her little guy, Harrison into the world!

We picked more pumpkins–this time with Wade’s class!

I couldn’t quite believe how bold Wade was with the goats!  I’m pretty sure this guy took a little nibble of Wade’s fingers shortly after this photo was taken!

And a real live pig race!  Funny and bizarre, if you ask me!

We visited Maymont with our buddies, the Reppards.

Philip and I were excited to get away to a UVa football game while my mom watched Wade and Holland.  Alright, well actually Philip was excited for the football game and I was just excited to get away!  Truth be told, I typically bring magazines to entertain myself during sporting events, but this time I only brought out my magazine once–during half-time.  I feel like that’s a step in the right direction, right?

We made a trip to Busch Gardens for Howl-o-Scream!

Wade’s favorite was the bumper cars.  He’d say “I’m gonna bump some people!”  So cute.

We celebrated daddy’s 32nd birthday, and I gave my heart to my new table I found on Craigslist (those two things aren’t related, but they’re both depicted in the photo below, so there you go.)

We had a pair of spiders at our household on Halloween!  Actually, this never quite came to fruition…I followed the directions and made two spider costumes, one for Wade, and one for Holland.  It was not a particularly hard process, but it was a bit time-consuming, and I at least liked to think they would have enjoyed the experience of dressing up and trick-or-treating…Oh, I dream too big, friends, I dream too big!  Holland was quite happy to don her costume, but Wade? Not so much.  Do you remember our fussy farmer from last year?  Maybe Halloween is just not his cup of tea…to add insult to injury it rained on Halloween, so my one child who consented to wearing her homemade costume wore it for about 15 minutes….of course I’m not complaining though!

Somebody may have done a little flirting with their neighbor, little Vanny B

We were incredibly blessed this fall by our small group from church.   We’ve only been involved in it for the past couple months, but it’s safe to say that our weekly dinner and meeting together has become one of our favorite things we’ve done here.

We picked up plenty of sticks, fed the geese at our neighborhood lake, and spent many afternoons at the playground.

{please note the little puppy dogs on Holland’s outfit.  Remember, she is a big fan of our canine friends!}

And lastly, we spent some time with Philip’s family over Thanksgiving.

Good grief, we were busy this fall!  Now I’m ready for Christmas!  (Good thing, cause it’s here!)

Fall Highlights

22 Dec

The days turn into weeks, the weeks into months, and as time goes by I often have the best of intentions to blog about the various things we do, but somehow I never get around to it.  So, I’m going to try and recap our fall by highlighting some of the more memorable events…

Wade started preschool, two mornings a week this year, and at a different program than last year.  We have LOVED it, and I am rather sad that he won’t be able to go back next year! (you know, since we are moving to Omaha and all…)  Obligatory first day pictures:

Oh, who am I kidding?  We don’t stare longingly at lovely flowers for photos!  This is perhaps more indicative of our normal…

He is two, after all.

And I snapped this as he made his way into his classroom.  He wasted no time getting warmed up to his new room!

This fall, Wade also really got into his new Strider bike.  Shame on me for not blogging about it before because this little bike has been a major source of fun for my little man.  Many, many thanks to his Grammy and PopPop for discovering this treasure of a toy!  The concept is pretty genius–because the bike sits really low to the ground, there are no pedals, so kids learn to balance well, thus eliminating the need for training wheels once they move up to a regular-sized bike.  You should see Wade go on this thing.  He flies!  I need to get a video on here of him in action…

I made a fabric-covered board to display my kid’s artwork.  Thanks to some of my favorite blogs for the inspiration.  (click here to see some!)  On the whole, a very easy project and I really love the addition in our kitchen area!

Philip and I attended the engagement party of my dear friend, Alston.  After the party we hung out with the wedding party.  It was really  fun.  There was lots of dancing involved.  Suffice it to say, we do not get out much and I was so grateful for the fun we had.

We had a really lovely time picking our own pumpkins this year.  You know how in life there are a lot of things that you look forward to, thinking they will be really great, and then they let you down?  I’m certain it isn’t just me.  Well, I have this experience all too often (probably due at least in part to some unrealistic, overly idealistic expectations on my part, but that’s another topic), but not this time!  The pumpkin patch was all I hoped it would be and more 🙂  The air was crisp, my kids were happy, the scenery could not have been any prettier.  If I didn’t stop to thank him for it at the time, let me do it now:  Thank Jesus, for moments like this, where I get a taste of the kind of full life for which we were made.

We attended my cousin, Brooksie’s wedding.  The reception was at my aunt and uncle’s lakefront home, and it was really lovely.

We made pumpkin muffins!

Wade had his second visit to the dentist…he actually went to see a dentist in the pediatric program at VCU (not his daddy) and despite appearances, the visit didn’t go well at all!  He totally freaked out and had to be held down by his father!  Just keepin’ it real, folks.

Are you still with me?  Come on back soon for the final installment of our fall recap!

Birthday Girl

18 Dec

Holland’s first birthday came fast.  I feel like I blinked and my baby went from a cuddly little newborn to a walking, talking (well, still mainly babbling, but there are some words!), little lady who is on. the. move.  She is one busy girl, always anxious to explore whatever she can get her little hands on.  I’ve mentioned that Holland is rather social and really seems to enjoy being with people, new people even. So, for her birthday we wanted to do something that seemed to fit her little personality.

We had a little party with family and some friends, and while I’m not sure our little house was ever meant to hold quite so many people, we had a great time.   Despite the fact that she looks rather somber here, Miss Thang enjoyed herself very much.

Holland spent much of her birthday party playing with her new toy–check it out:

I think she looks kinda like a little old lady pushing it around.  Cracks me up.

Holland also loves the trusty ‘ol firetruck, just like her big brother did.

I am thankful for the friends and family who came to help us celebrate.

Don’t you just love how my dad coordinated his sweater for the day with our birthday girl?  He’s to thank for stringing up the series of monthly photos we displayed at the living room mantle too.  (Thanks, Dad!)

And of course we were so happy to have our favorite cousins there too!

Did I mention we had a little bit of a theme for this party?  Our little lady is quite the fan of puppy dogs, so I did my best to find ways to incorporate her little furry friends into the celebration!  {the little fur ball below was on major sale at Hobby Lobby, and I just could not resist him, so cuddly and soft!}

Did I create the fun, tissue pom-poms hanging from the chandelier?  No I did not, but my lovely and crafty friend, Shannon did–thank you, friend for passing these on to us!  I found the vintage embroidered tablecloth at a local salvage shop.  I saw it and knew it would be perfect!  I have visions of it in a modern frame on the wall of Holland’s room one day in the future…but I digress.
We had two cakes.  A little smash cake for Miss Thang (I used the ‘Vanilla Cake’ recipe from this site–it was really good, I highly recommend)
And a puppy cake for the rest of us.  I was inspired (ok, copied) a cake I found on Pinterest (If you aren’t yet a Pinterest user, feel free to call me and we’ll do a little impromptu counseling session for ya 🙂 , but I won’t link to the recipe I used because I don’t think it was particularly good.  I actually thought my little smash cake tasted much yummier than my fancy adult cake recipe, go figure.
In a moment of pure insanity while planning for the party, I decided it would be a good idea to make little puppy cake pops as favors.  Now don’t get me wrong–these little guys are cute and yummy, but let’s just say the process of making them was a bit overly ambitious for moi.  I must again thank Pinterest for the inspiration and I must thank my husband for helping me see the project through!  (I asked him if decorating little eyes and molding little puppy dog ears was reminiscent of the detailed work of dentistry…he didn’t seem amused.)
We served chili and cornbread for lunch, and then it was cake time!
We let Wade try his hand at blowing out the candle.
What you see below–a bit of hand licking–was the extent of Holland’s cake-eating!  But may I draw your attention to her sweet little cupcake bib?  Another gift from our generous friends, the Reppards!  Shannon makes all sorts of embroidered goodies, from bibs to burp cloths, even wreaths!  Let me know if you’d like more info–her beautiful things make great gifts!!
Holland received some sweet gifts from family.
A set of princess dishes from her cousins.
A baby doll to take in the bathtub from her Grammy and PopPop
And a giant stuffed dog from her Mimi and Papa, along with some puppy dog-themed books.
Mimi also gave Holland her first little silver bracelet!
Of course after the actual party was over and we sat Holland back in her chair to see if she might like to try one more go at her cake, she realized what she’d been missing out on…
What, you don’t give your children knives to play with?
And Holland capped off her birthday festivities with a  puppy-pop post naptime!

Morning with my girl

30 Nov

Of course our time is a bit less full without our Wader-tater, but Miss Holland and I do enjoy preschool mornings.  A nap for little love while mama tidies the house, followed by a snack for both of us and some dancing to Pandora (she does love music, what can I say)….I don’t want to forget these times, especially not the snuggles and slobbery kisses this one gives me.

I’ll be back soon with a recap of this girlie’s birthday party!