Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Break, Ivy's Birthday, and More

It was not our best Christmas this year. Lots of sickness, and a septic tank issue that led to massive house problems topped the list of why this year wasn't our favorite. But. There were lots--lots!--of lovely moments that broke through. Christmas isn't actually about us and whether or not we make piles of gingerbread memories and twinkle light moments. We celebrated the birth of the One who came to be with us in all our sickness and mess, and we made some memories besides. I'd say that makes it a success.

Ivy loved the tree.

possibly my favorite Christmas picture this year

Since Ivy's birthday is on Christmas Day (little stinker), we celebrated this year on the 15th with a family party (us, the Whatleys, my mom, Lena, and Laura). She couldn't decide between brownies and cupcakes, so we made brownie cupcakes! They were better in theory than in execution, but icing and sprinkles helped.

Of course, we made the traditional birthday banner.

When Laina turned two, I made her a green M&M dress. For Ivy, it was a purple cupcake dress that says Tiny Wonder. She loved it.

So proud of herself for getting those two fingers up! She tells me "other guys go down" (other fingers, that is) and shows me two fingers multiple times a day.

the brownie cupcake!

She liked it!

Ivy is seriously the most polite birthday kid ever. She opens each present slowly and looks at it delightedly, and then says "thank you for my present" without being prompted. She said "Thank you for my bike, Nona," about six times, and again when Nona was leaving.

be still my heart!

A few random December pics: At nap time, I put Mace down first, because Ivy takes longer. So Ivy tags along while we tuck Mason in and sing to him (current favorite is Raindrops on Roses, and he and Ivy both yell out the line "schnitzel with noodles!"). I love this picture.

It reminds me of this picture of nap time in January, 2015.  How things change in two years!

 I think we might have a budding artist on our hands. Ivy, right before her second birthday, told me she drew a penguin. Can you see it?

These two are good buddies. They sit here and play while I cook dinner, almost every night.

Christmas time! My mom and Lena and Laura, and the Whatleys, and Haylee and Jeff celebrated at our house this year. This was a few nights before Christmas--I love how everyone is crowded into one room doing their own thing but enjoying being together.

Park time on the 23rd. Look at him jump!

Because everyone was sick and the weather wasn't too cold, we spent most of Christmas together-time out on the back deck. It was really nice being outside this year!

Karolina turned three a few days before Ivy turned two.

On our way to Christmas Eve service at our church (first Christmas service in our new building!)

And sweet Ivy's last day being one.

Christmas Morning! We did stockings inside, ate a yummy brunch outside, and then opened the rest of the presents outside. 

Ivy tore her minion sticker in half and gave me half of it, like a BFF necklace. Sweet!

Ivy got a bitty baby. 

Ivy and Karolina, the fairies.

Her first day as a two!!

Candles in her banana. She LOVES us singing Happy Birthday to her. She LOVES her birthday.

Christmas night, we discovered that our septic tank had overflowed into the bottom story of the house. Thankful for family being in town and willing to help, we spent the next two days moving stuff out, throwing stuff away, ripping up floors and walls, etc. It's nowhere near done. Cory and Iain moved into Ivy's room, and Cory made a storm trooper in his bed with pillows and a wall hanging.

I took the kids to the park yesterday to get away from the madness for a while. It was COLD, wet, and windy, but they had fun. 

And in spite of the chaos, we managed to meet one of our Christmas break goals: teaching the boys to play hearts. Iain wins almost every time.

I don't have a good way to wrap up this post. It's New Year's Eve, and I don't have a tidy way to tie up the year. Some things don't start over because you turn the page on the calendar. We're still smack in the middle of the house mess/repairs/work, still have sick kids, still facing some not-fun stuff in the New Year, still facing challenges in our home and homeschool. But this I know: in this year and the next, He will be with us. And that is good.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Mary Consoles Eve: A Christmas Poem

(Virgin Mary Consoles Eve, 
painted by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO, Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey)

I stand
Head bowed in shame, the weight of every sin upon my narrow back.
My sticky fingerprints, fruit-stained, sin-stained, are on it all,
From the bombs that fall on Aleppo
To the machetes wielded in Rwanda
To the yellow stars pinned on Jewish coats.

Our holiness tarnished now, from my fingers.
Unkind words, selfish thoughts, pride.
Fear. Because I broke the perfect love.
I cannot meet your eyes.

I did not trust
So now none of us is trustworthy.
I did not worship
Now we all worship ourselves.
I disobeyed.
I ruined His world.

I see you standing there,
Large with promise.
The mercy in your eyes mirrors the Mercy in your womb
And you say

Sister. He is coming. Feel His kicks.
He will take it all. He will kill the snake that bites our heels.
His shoulders are broad and His fingerprints holy.

And the weight of sin on us all will fall on Him instead.
You cannot break Perfect Love.
It is breaking through
For you.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Ivy Hope, And Other Sweetnesses

In the name of not losing the sweet moments of life that seem to be slipping through my fingers as fast as so much sand at the beach, I'm writing a catch-all blog post: Ivy Grows + Family Moments = Things I Don't Want to Forget.

Ivy is a delight. She is the definition of delight. She sparkles.

She has her own sense of style, this one. With strong opinions about what she wears (and what she doesn't!), Ivy tends to pick out her own clothes and accessories, with a little help from me or Laina. She loves this octopus shirt, as well as anything with cupcakes or sparkles. And headbands! And bows! And SOCKS! And her sprinkle shoes (silver glittery Sunday shoes, which she wears all week long, with socks on). She does NOT like to wear jackets, even in freezing cold weather, but I win on this one.  She has specific ideas about hair too, choosing between a headband, one spout, two spouts, or a ponytail. 

(Ivy is my buddy--she says she's "Mama's baby!" unless she's saying she's "Daddy's baby!")

(She got herself dressed to go to Target, complete with sprinkle shoes and a backwards hat.)

Ivy is very verbal, able to say pretty much anything she wants. She regularly puts together four- or five- (or more!) word sentences. She has ideas and can communicate them well. And if all else fails, there's always a well-placed shriek.

Sometimes I rock her at night until she falls asleep. Other times, Jeremy walks her around the dark kitchen and sings to her. But before any singing can start, they have to look out the window and find "da bess-ed moon!" (the blessed moon)

Favorite toys: her Little People house and any baby dolls, but especially Laina's Bitty Baby. Nona got her the Little People dollhouse a few months ago and she plays with it all the time. For Mason's birthday, we got him the camper and we got enough specific Little People to make our family. They both LOVE this. They talk about the people as Little Iain, Little Laina, etc. Ivy likes Little Ivy and Little Mama best, and they do a lot of talking to each other (ADORABLE!) and kissing each other. And dancing, which looks like jumping up and down. I love watching her play, and seeing her amazing imagination come out.

And she's getting her own Bitty Baby for Christmas/Birthday. Don't tell. :)

(sweet baby sleeping)

Call me no fun, but I was relieved when our church decided not to do Trunk or Treat this year for Halloween. The costumes the kids wanted were SO complicated and I just didn't want to spend the time and money! But it ended up being perfect: we were invited to join friends at another local church's Trunk or Treat, with very little warning. If they kids wanted to go, they had to make up costumes with stuff we already had. Of course, they did, and had a great time!

Iain was Obi Wan, Cory was George Washington, Laina was a Rwandan princess (love it!), Mason was Batman, and Ivy was a minion.

Ivy has started to love dressing up. Kate Burton passed on these princess dresses to Laina years ago, and Ivy's using them now. She calls them her ballerinas.

Tell me these aren't the sweetest sisters you've ever seen?

Ivy is happy now to go to her class at church. She's been our easiest one, once she decided she wanted to go! One week, she was walking in the hall with me (I was hall coordinator that week), and she saw that, in her class, there was a green plastic chair. She wanted to sit on it. I stuck her in the class, and she sat there and ate puffs and looked at books. And she's been happy to go to class ever since.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my girl. Except that she's so BIG. My heart!

Meanwhile, out in the yard, the kids play nonstop. This is the latest thing: a fort that takes up almost the whole side yard. They ADORE it and work on it all the time. I'm sure the neighbors love us.

Donuts with sprinkles. Nothing makes her happier. She literally jumps up and down at the thought.

 Ivy loves meatballs. And "popcorns." And grapes. And chicken and fries. She likes reading books (Goodnight, Moon and Cat in the Hat, or any other Dr. Seuss book). She loves playing outside, especially with her cousin Lina. When you ask her a question, she always says, "Um..." before answering. She laughs at her siblings more than anything else. She demonstrates what her daddy looks like when he's exercising. She likes watching Bo on the Go and Rescue Bots.

(this guy is one of her favorite people.)

The highlight of the kids' year: going to Survival in September. Jenna and Curtis run TeenPact Survival camps all fall, and this year, they invited us to come to the one in south Georgia. We were there from Wednesday to Saturday and the kids loved every second of it.

The boys sat in on classes in water filtration, making fires, making rope, camouflage, and more. They played games--including one where they put their camouflage skills into action and then crawled through the woods. I think these few days were their favorites of the whole year. Seriously.

(Mason's favorite part was the rope swing.)

(Ivy in the rain--and not too sure about it.)

(Ivy and Lina, best buddies.)

(This was Ivy's favorite part: sliding down the trailer door on her back, over and over again.)

Common questions we hear from Ivy:
"Can I sit wif you?"
"Can you up me?" (pick me up)
"Can I do my fingernails with markers?" (seriously. She colors them pink with highlighters almost every school day.)
"Where's my cuppie?"
"Shoes on? Socks on?"
(to someone who is crying) "You sad? Okay. You hurt? Okay. You feel better? Okay."

Jeremy and I celebrated our eleven-year anniversary in October, with a hike up Pine Mountain. A lot has changed in eleven years (namely with the addition of five kids!), but this hasn't changed: he is still my best friend.

 Life is nutty these days, but full of blessings. Five of the biggest ones sit right here.
(This was after family pictures this fall. I love these crazy nuts.)