Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Decade

Monday marked ten years that Tom and I have been married. That's a big one. I can hardly believe it's been that long, yet life before I knew my sweetie seems so far away.

We've lived in four states, had four kids, earned three degrees, and shared many, many laughs. There may have been a few tears shed every now and then, but way more laughs. Tom's humor was something I fell in love with early on. I loved how he could make me laugh when we were dating, and let me tell ya, he's still got it. It was hard to keep a straight face today as he worked out along side me to my Kathy Smith aerobics. It was nice of him to humor me, even though he was mostly mocking the whole thing.

I feel like a pretty lucky girl.

This is a picture from Tyler's baptism two months ago. That was indeed a special day.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Feeling

There is something about the Christmas season that just makes life better. Yes, it's busy...but I feel like a little Christmas Elf when am busying about, in the kitchen, with the wrapping paper, at the post office...not to mention keeping up with normal life.

Maybe it's because I am listening to Christmas music while I do all of this? I am a little obsessed with that--I can't get enough of it. But when I can sing along to my holiday favorites, I am in the Christmas mood, no matter what I'm doing--sewing a patch on Tyler's Cub Scout shirt, cooking lentils, sweeping Cheerios from under the high chair, trying to make fabric flower hair accessories. (some of yesterday's endeavors)

The month of December is never quite long enough--I surely don't do everything I dream to, and things are not as serene and picture-perfect as they could be. But I love this month. Precious memories with my family are always made, and the spirit of love and service is always there.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


You know your kids are into HP when...

*you find vessels filled with strange liquids on the kitchen counter.

*your three-year-old is heard telling her baby sister, "You're in Slytherin; I'm in Huffle-huff."

*swishing and flicking of wands is happening around the house, along with this advice, "it's Lev-i-OH-sah, not Lev-i-oh-SAH!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's all a blur

Our camera has been acting weird lately. Every picture I take is dark. So as I review the photos saved on it lately, I expect to see some low-quality ones. Today as I did that I really found some gems. Obviously my kids got a hold of the camera (on Thanksgiving Eve, when I must have been unaware of them due to vacuum noise or something) and had it on a setting that I have certainly never tried. Or maybe the camera person and/or the subjects were just running like mad as the shots was taken. I don't know...

I really don't get it. I almost deleted them all. Then I looked at them again with a new eye. Maybe they are kind of cool, I thought.

And what I really like is that it gives you a glimpse of our house, while blurring over any lurking clutter or dishes in the sink.

So now you know what our house looks like, or how it would look if you were sprinting through it while being chased by a wild animal.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

We enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving at home last week. Dinner was nice, with a classic and tasty menu, and a few friends to share it with. Tom is shocked year after year, at how much work it takes to pull off a Thanksgiving dinner...but then he is always happy with the results, and the fact that he can enjoy the meal a couple more times in the form of leftovers.

This year I was particularly happy with our Thanksgiving Eve. Of course I had a lot to accomplish that day, and the kids had the day off from school...which can either help or hurt my chances at a productive day. I decided to take proactive measures to ensure this worked in my favor.

So on Tuesday night, I quickly (slowing down enough to remember how to spell "vacuum" the second time I wrote it) drew up a list of everything I wanted the kids to be involved with the next day--fun stuff and chores alike. Tyler and Tessa had to sign up for at least six activities, and Eden, four. I strategically made sure there were only three "fun" projects on the list.

It worked like a charm! They discovered the list on the wall right away in the morning and were eager to attach their names to the various tasks, because they were choosing them after all. That is a brilliant parenting technique--making your children feel they are in control.

They got right to work, and worked hard, so we could get on to the more fun stuff. I forgot to take pictures of them slaving away, but apparently someone else took the liberty of catching Eden as she mopped. (she didn't even sign up for that one--wow:) It's an artsy, blurry shot.

When our house was sparkling, we put together our gingerbread village. I opted for a kit this year...wimpy, I know. But it cuts out sooo much of the mom prep-work, and gets right to the fun, kid-friendly part. My sisters will be so ashamed. :)

Of course I was still in the kitchen, late into the evening, preparing pumpkin bread, and cranberry-apple crisp, and roll dough...but that's just where I want to be on Thanksgiving Eve. My mission was accomplished: we had worked hard and played hard, which is the recipe for a good day in my book. Not every day unfolds as nicely, just the way I envision it, but this one did. That is something to give thanks for.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Need a giggle?

I can't help but chuckle when I see that grin and those rolls.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's gone...

...Tessa's long hair. The lengthy ponytail as in the picture above from this summer is no more.

After visits with many of our family members in the past few weeks, we hesitated. Everyone told us not to cut it. Her long hair did look nice, when it was at its best. But it was tough to keep it untangled and smooth all the time. And besides that, change is good! Tessa wanted something different...and hair grows back. So we went for it!

We told the stylist to cut Tessa's hair so that is sat on her shoulders, but she said if we were willing to go a little shorter there would be enough hair to donate to Locks of Love. Yea! We had considered that but didn't think Tessa's ponytail was quite ten inches. Apparently it was. So she bundled the hair, chopped it, and shipped it off. And left Tessa with a cute bob.

She liked it right away. I think she feels older and more sophisticated, as she sports more of a true hairstyle. I notice an extra hop in her step as she tests just how bouncy and un-weighted down her hair is now.

I am a fan of the new look as well. My hair could never do that, so I just have to live vi-hair-iously through my daughter.

Here's to tear-free hairdo sessions and simpler mornings!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Grandma's touch

Tom's Grandma Hill passed away two weeks ago today. Last weekend our family was able to travel to Pocatello, Idaho for the funeral services. It was special to spend time with most of the Hill extended family--a wonderful bunch. They have certainly made me feel like I belong to them. Together we honored Beverly Hill and celebrated the good life she led.

Over the past ten years that I've known her, I've enjoyed visiting her lovely home when we were passing through her part of the country. She always had cookies and lemonade and lots of stories to share with us. My older kids looked forward to these visits with Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa Hill. Her Idaho pride rubbed off a little on them, because they always left there thinking Pocatello was a pretty incredible place. We will miss her.

One legacy she left was her precision quilting work. She hand-stitched many beautiful works of art that amaze and astound me. Something she loved to do was help make checkered baby blankets for each of her great-grandchildren. The binding was her specialty. When she worked on Ansley's, her hands had gotten so shaky that her sweet husband had to thread the needles for her...but she was able to do the rest. What a tender image.

I guess my kids can tell these blankets were made with an extra dose of love, because they have adored them more than any other possession. They still sleep with them every night. Here they are pictured with their beloved blankets at various ages...

Tyler and his blue blanket

Tessa and her red blanket

Eden and her pink blanket

Ansley and her green blanket

Can you guess which baby's gender was known before birth??

We are grateful to have these momentos of Great-Grandma Hill. We will treasure them even more now. They will help us to keep her in our hearts until we see her again one day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween recap

This year for Halloween I thought it would be fun for our family to dress up with a group theme. Because of a few costumes we already had, I decided on the ever-popular Wizard of Oz characters.

The first two were easy...

Eden insisted on being a princess, so we pretended she was Glinda.

It was a stretch, but I did at least attempt some bouncy curls.

Tessa was thrilled to be Dorothy and loved wearing her sparkly, twirly, gingham dress and ruby red slippers.

But this was as far as we got. I couldn't persuade Tyler to be the Tinman, even with promise of carrying an axe around all night. His mind was fixated on a different wizard--one wearing his Quidditch robes.

Tom would have made a smart-looking scarecrow, but he opted to wear his favorite old standby get-up.

But my plans for a group costume were not completely thwarted!! I realized that the two of us with Ansley made a nice trio. We were...The Lion, the Witch, and the Stylin' Wardrobe. Not bad. (although it is a little tough to tell who is the lion, with Tom in his mullet wig)

No matter what you are wearing, trick-or-treating is always the highlight. The older three had a great time, despite the chilling wind and temps.

In Des Moines, the children take part in the candy-collecting ritual on the night before Halloween. It is appropriately called, Beggar's Night. And here is the scariest part of Halloween: the large quantities of loot we end up with!

It is so easy when your kids are babies. You dress them up however you want, and they don't even complain when you put them to bed instead of letting them trick-or-treat!

Ansley was a good sport.

And for the record, much of the fluff on this girl is not her own--it came with the costume. :)

Now on to November and the next Holiday. Who doesn't love this time of year?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Official Iowans

As of today, Tom and I have both traded in our New York driver's licenses for the Iowa versions. I'm not sure if that's an upgrade or a downgrade.

I guess it's just a different grade. We are happy being Iowans, but it was a little sad to let go of that lingering piece of our NY identity. Especially since that small piece of plastic was so hard to acquire in the first place! It took several months before I could convince the state of New York to give me one. But that's another story.

Since I'm feeling nostalgic, here are pictures of our beloved home on Juno Street--in Forest Hills, Queens, New York--the last time we walked its floors, and out its door. We'll never forget it.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Three-Year-Old

Eden turned three years and one month old today. Here are the pictures from her party last month.

The Birthday Girl sitting on her new kid-sized porch swing

Two families came over to help celebrate in the backyard.

Tom controlled the broom, from which dangled...the pinata.

And down on the ground, here is Tyler whacking at it.

Tessa took a turn, along with the other friends...but Eden wanted no part in destroying her precious pinata.

Of course she was happy to take part in collecting its spilled contents.

Assessing the loot

Eden had fun and felt special, so I think it was a successful celebration. We are sure glad sweet Eden is part of our family.