Monday, October 10, 2011

My Baby Loves to Dance

Yesterday, on October 9th, my precious oldest daughter turned four.
Where, or where, does time go? To be honest, I've been dreading this day. Turning one was exciting and fun, as was two & three. But four. Four I've had a hard time with for some reason. Over the past few months we've all noticed her just *acting* bigger- phrases she says, or silly jokes she tells. This past year, she's truly gone from "baby" to "little girl". I think that's the part I've had the hardest time with.
She has become so much more independent in the past year. She is able to go entertain herself- she get's crayons & a coloring book out, and can sit at the table by herself & color... and clean up too. She is able to potty all by herself. She is able to put herself in bed for rest time. She is able to clean her room (for the most part). She loooves to brush her hair all by herself. So many big girl things! I can't believe the changes in *just* one year!
Gabbi is an amazing little girl. Absolutely unique from head to toe. She is, what I believe to be, the perfect combination of "tomboy" & "girly girl". She has the best imagination- including her friend "Frances" in on most family occasions. She loves to play princesses- something I never encouraged or pushed on her, but she just loves them so I won't hinder that. As I type she's sitting here with a little Melissa & Doug dress-up magnet Princess. Not only is she dressing her, but she's talking to & carrying on with her- in a totally different world. I love listening to her & watching her play.
At the same time, she loves the outdoors. Camping & hiking are at the top of some of her favorite things to do. She loves to look at the trees changing colors, and on hikes she is constantly stopping to pick up or take a closer look at something. Oh, the things we can learn from a child! While we are such goal-oriented people and just want to get to the destination, my sweet girl reminds us it's not about that destination, the end... it's about the walk we are taking, stop and enjoy it.... take it in! She loves to play sports outside with her daddy. Kicking around the soccer ball, or throwing a ball. She also loves exercising. Her little version of it anyway- which include yoga stretches (not the whole yoga exercise in its entirety) her & I look at on youtube, or doing sit ups/ push ups with her daddy.
She loves to learn, and has started asking so many questions that I (most of the time) love taking the time to explain to her. Why are the leaves changing colors? Why does it rain? And recently, a very important one, what does it mean to be separated from God? I pray her curiosity never ceases, and that I don't burn it out or blow it off because of selfishness & lack of patience.
She is able now to write her name from memory, and can copy words that I write. I don't know what a "typical" 4 year-old's art work looks like, but her pictures are amazing! She draws some excellent pictures of princess, our family, and rainbows.
She is such a silly little bundle of energy. Telling "jokes" she makes up. For instance: "knock knock!" (who's there) "Orange" (Orange who?) "Orange pudding, I didn't say banana!" ... she tries :)
Her favorite color is purple (and pink). Favorite food is broccoli. Her favorite TV show is Strawberry Shortcake. Favorite movie is Tangled. Her favorite place to go is "Nana's house!" Gabbi's favorite animal is a sheep, and her favorite book for us to read is "Take Care, Good Knight" (because it's silly). Her favorite song to sing "God Made Me" (on Slugs & Bugs CD). A game she likes to play is "Duck Duck Goose". When asked who her best friend is, she says Madison (Franse). And she says when she is *all grown up* she wants to be a Princess.
Finally, my baby *loves* to dance! She started dancing right as she turned a year old. I will never forget living in this little townhouse in Powell, where our washer/ dryer were in the dining area. When a wash was running its spin cycle amd making a steady beat, Gabbi sat in her high chair eating lunch, dancing to the beat. No music at all, but she heard music.
She dances everywhere. Up & down the hallway, all around the house. Sometimes, to be honest, it grates my nerves because our house is so tiny... but I'm working on & praying for my ability to let things go. Choose my battles. On most days, I love that she doesn't want to sit still. She is so much like me in that way. I had her signed up for a dance camp this summer, and was so sad when she came down with strep throat the same week. Maybe next year things will work out!
My brother & sister-in-law bought Gabbi & Catie a CD for Christmas last year called "Slugs & Bugs & Lullabies" by Andrew Peterson. There is this song on it called "My Baby Loves to Dance" that I thought of Gabbi the moment I first heard it. I decided to post the lyrics with several pictures of my baby growing up over the years.

"My Baby Loves to Dance"
My baby loves to dance,
She loves to spin around
She's only two feet tall,
But I don't mind at all
She hears a song in every little sound.

And my baby loves to move,
She settles on my chest,
She doesn't stay for long, a moment and she's gone

She's off to find another heart to bless.
And the leaves were turning golden brown,
People came from miles around,
To see her when she came to town.
Then I turned to walk outside,
Stood beneath an Autumn sky,
I felt a season falling,
And a new one taking flight.
My baby loves me so,
She loves me as I am.

She lifts her little hands,
Her wish is my command

I'll pick her up forever if I can.
-Andrew Peterson

Gabbi, we are in awe of what the Lord has done in you over the passed four years! You are growing up to be such a beautiful little girl- you are learning and doing so much! Our prayer is that as you grow & continue to learn, the Lord would open your heart to Him. That you will learn & believe His love for you. He loves you so much more & so much better than we ever could. Happy Birthday, Pumpkin!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Catie-Bug Birthday!!

Seeing as how Gabbi's birthday is on Saturday, I think I should get a post on here about Catie's!

On Friday, September 9th, Dustin & I were able to take Catie out on a Birthday Date! The first of what will be a yearly tradition with each of our sweet girls. As our family grows, especially in these little years, individual attention seems to be precious & hard to come by. So on our babies' birthdays, we want to be able to take them out, on their own, and devote some quality time to just them- doing whatever they choose to do. Of course, this will look different for each child & different with each age. This year, for instance, Catie couldn't exactly tell us where she wanted to go. But we know this girls looooves pizza, so we chose based on what she likes!
In an effort to find good, handmade pizza and stay in the Old North Knoxville community, we decided on Harby's Pizza & Deli. Well, it wasn't until after her birthday we were told we should have gone to Pizza Palace on Magnolia. But ah well... Harby's was good, but not somewhere we'll be going back again, I don't believe. Catie sure didn't complain!

After pizza we headed to Marble Slab.
How sweet it was of the girl at the counter to give us her little kiddie cup "on the house". They don't typically do anything special for birthdays at Marble Slab, but I guess that little face is just irresistable! We got Catie "Cake Batter" ice cream with sprinkles. I never will understand sprinkles to be honest, they don't have much taste, but kids love them. I guess I understood them when I was a kid :) I enjoyed my Key Lime ice cream with graham cracker mixin'.
Honestly, Catie loved eating, but I'm not sure she really enjoyed the quality time as much as we did. Especially since she cried almost the whole way to the pizza place for her "Sissy". But next year she will understand more... and we're looking forward to our time with Gabbi this Friday.

Saturday, Sept 10th we loaded up & headed to Adair Park for Catie's Minnie Mouse birthday!

My super talented friend Lauren Pulliam made Catie's Minnie pillowcase dress.
And I was able to get a bit crafty on a few decorations as well.
Catie's little friend Zoe came out to play & celebrate with us.

My brother, sister-in-law & our little nephew came out. Only something as special as Catie's birthday allows for Ben to wear something other than UT Orange on game day! Notice his little Mickey ears :)
My daddy, the self-appointed family photographer, often drives people a little nuts with his checklist of group shots at family functions. You'd think we were at a wedding sometimes. But we all have to admit, years down the road we'll be thankful for shots like these. Four generations of ladies! My girls, myself, my mom, grandma, and *great great* aunt (great-grandma's sister). She lives in Newport News, VA and this is the first time she's been able to be out here with us to celebrate a birthday!
My grillin' man & his friends.

Sweet, silly friends. Gabbi adores little miss Adah.

Apparently someone doesn't like all the attention that comes with being sung to. I will treasure this picture always!

Yummy Rita's Cake! Mom has been getting the girls' cakes from there for two years now. They are delicious, as well as adorable.

I just love birthdays!!!
It is my prayer that as we celebrate our children on their special day, we are always pointed to the One truly worth celebrating. We want our children to know the One who has entrusted them to us, the One who created them uniquely, individually, and perfectly. That HE never makes a mistake, that they are beautiful because they are made in HIS image & that they are lovely because HE loves them. We are forever grateful to the Lord for blessing us in such a mighty way- with our beautiful & precious baby girls!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Please Pass the Polenta

I am losing my mind. I'm pretty sure that pregnancy/ breastfeeding kill brain cells (joke).
But seriously, I went grocery shopping a couple days ago while my mom was here with the two big girls. When I got home, it was time for Ruthie to take a nap. Mom left, and I proceeded to lay Ruthie down. It wasn't until I was outside opening up the door to the van that I realized "What in the world am I doing trying to put Ruthie in the van?! She needs her bed!" Sooo we walk back inside & I put her in bed. Now it was time to get groceries (what I believe I was originally trying to do while holding Ruthie). So I walk outside, think to myself "it's beautiful out here!", go check the mail, thumb through it, come back into the house and realize "Wait, I wasn't meaning to get the mail I was meaning to get the groceries!!"
So you could imagine my frustration with myself & how convinced I was that I was *crazy* when I completely misplaced dinner yesterday.
I was making chicken and cheesy polenta (similar to grits, but a "healthier" version) with broccoli. The chicken was already in the oven, as I was on the phone chatting with my friend who recently moved to Nashville. I pulled everything out of the pantry, turned water on to boil, thena few minutes later when it was boiling reached for the bag of polenta. It wasn't there. Hmmm...
I searched all over my counters again, searched and researched the pantry, I even looked in the refrigerator thinking I placed it there. I was laughing at myself out loud to my friend as I went on and on about how crazy I am that I even misplaced our dinner! (I had just told her about my recent temporary loss of insanity the previous day.)
Trying to retrace my steps, I looked in the girls' bedroom & the bathroom (remembering that Gabbi had recently gone potty & Catie woke up from her nap). Maybe it was there? Nope. My friend told me to go ahead and get off the phone to figure it out & call her later. Once I was off the phone, I looked at G & C sitting at the table coloring. I picked C up & looked in her booster, then asked Gabbi to move so I could look in her chair.
"Have you seen a bag of food?" I asked G.
"Nope," she replied, as I walked back into the kitchen and began searching again. "I just hid it."
"You hid what?"
"That food you were talking about. I hid it," she said cheerfully. "Come on! I'll show you! Follow me!" I followed her into the living room, where she reached under the side table that sits between our two couches and pulls out the bag of Polenta... giggling.
"Why did you do that?" I asked, laughing.
"I was just being silly," she shrugged.

What a silly girl!!!

She heard my entire conversation as I frantically searched our home for some missing bag of polenta, convinced I had lost my mind. I can only imagine what was going on in her little head.
As I continued cooking a few minutes later she looked up at me from her coloring book, "Mommy, I'm sorry I hid that from you."
"Aw Baby, I forgive you, you were funny. Just don't do it anymore okay?"
I'm absolutely thankful for little moments like this in my life, where my sweet silly girls keep me laughing.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Waiting on Autumn...

I love this time of year.

I do love autumn, it just barely beats Spring for my favorite season.
Right now, I'm lying on the couch and our windows are open. A breeze gently blows and the curtains dance. Anytime of year where the windows can be open is good... but there's something about the bringing in of Fall that just makes my heart happy.

Maybe because I was kinda a nerd & loved school growing up...
Maybe it's because during this time 5 years ago I was newly engaged and starting to plan a wedding. Engagement pictures were made, and I was just floating on Cloud9...

Maybe it's because two of my three babies were born this time of year & there is just nothing in the world like a newborn filling your home with joy...

Maybe it's because my family loves football, and I have countless great memories from my childhood that revolve around "football season".

Regardless of what it is, there is something about the changing seasons that I love. That make me meditate on the faithfulness of the Lord. His timing his perfect, right down to the changing seasons. The seasons are constant... we always know Fall follows Summer, Winter follows Fall, then comes Spring, and Summer follows Spring... we never question it. In the same way the Lord is constant, His ways are constant, His faithfulness is forever. He commands the seasons to change, and the seasons show the character of God. Consistent. In every way the seasons show His mercy.
Summer is so hot & at times unbearable, the cool breathe of autumn is what we all wait for & we receive it with thanksgiving.
Winter is chilled, and with it comes the sleeping of plants, the longer nights... but it gives way to the warmth & life of spring.

It's cloudy now & I even love that. It's as if time is standing still... and we are all waiting. Waiting on Autumn, when we will all take a big, deep sigh of relief... Ah, summer is over. Fall is here. We'll put on jackets, we'll go on hikes, we'll pick pumpkins, and then as if it couldn't get any better, we will feast. There is so much to celebrate about Autumn. So much to celebrate about our great God.

Psalm 95:2

Friday, September 02, 2011

Baby is 4 Months!

This is the longest so far I've been nursing any of my babies.. now we are in uncharted territory, but things are going well!

With all the excitement yesterday, I cannot fail to post that Charity Ruth is now 4 MONTHS OLD! This second picture I think is kinda funny with that expression, but until mom gets back and gets her fancy camera in action... it's the best we've got!
We don't have a checkup until October, so I'm not sure of her weight & stats... but I'd be willing to bet she's closer to 16lbs by now! She's the squishiest sweet baby ever. I just love all her rolls.
She hasn't quite rolled from back to tummy yet, but she's getting there. What she has done, though, is sat for moment by herself! She's starting to learn to prop herself up with her hands. I guess it's because she's got a big base to do this haha! I don't expect her to be sitting fully alone for a while, but this surprised me none the less.
Other than that, and her just continuing to be more & more alert there aren't too many more recent developments with Ruthie. She still is just an easy to please, happy baby!

Hopefully we'll get a good photo shoot soon & I'll be able to post some better, end of summer pics of all the girls.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Two Years Too Fast...

Caitlin Hope entered the world two years ago, September 1st at 11:22am.
She was 7lbs 1oz, a tiny thing and to this day still is. But what she "lacks" in size, she has always made up for in personality!

((catie & mommy: newborn snuggles))

((a treasured photo: catie & her *great,great,great* uncle robert. a precious man, adored by many, who passed away in march '11))

((5 month old catie-bug))

((easter '10: six months old))

((8 month old pasta lovin' catie))

((9 mons old))

*First Birthday Memories*

((15 months old))

((16 mons))

((18 months old))

((18 months old))

((20 months old))

*Second Birthday Fun*
Catie-bug loved waking up to a floor full of balloons. Unfortunately, she absolutely would not sit still on the floor long enough for me to get a picture of her surrounded by them. So the big smile will have to suffice. Today was Catie's day... I stayed up late last night catching up/ trying to get ahead on the daily chores so that today all my attention would be her's (and the other two of course). We spent the day playing, reading her favorite books, playing outside on the swing set & swimming in the pool, visiting with Aunt LaLa & cousin Ben, and watching a couple shows of *her* choice. We topped the day off with beans & rice for dinner. I know, not the dinner of a queen, but the dinner of Catie. She loves this dish (tied with Pizza as her favorite). Tomorrow night Dustin & I are taking her out on a birthday DATE while my sweet friend keeps the other two, where she will chow down on some pizza. And her birthday party will be next week, since Nana & Poppy are out of town this weekend.

Catie-bug is an absolute joy to everyone she meets. She is the silliest, sweetest, snuggliest two-year-old I know. Much more friendly than her sister was at this age... Catie will go to anyone with two arms to hold her. She is still quite attached to her paci (something Mommy needs to work on!) & her blankey & her Daddy (we hope this is the case for a long long time!). At home Catie is a totally different personality than when we're out. She's quite fiery. I love to joke that she has one volume & one speed: loud & fast. She has a temper, but has the softest heart at the same time. She loves her sisters. She's so attached to Gabbi that I don't know what she'd do without her. Someone asked me several weeks ago, "What does Catie like to do?" And to be quite honest, it took me a while to think of what *she* likes to do, because well, she likes to do whatever Gabbi is doing! She follows Gabbi around all day long.
Out in public, at parks or church, Catie is much more reserved. She'll sit & watch for a while, scoping our her surroundings, before she dives into play. I've heard on more than one occasion when picking her up from class at church "She just wanted me to hold her the whole time!" She's more quiet, and more of a "watcher"... I find this so interesting! I guess home is her comfort zone.
Catie is talking more & more. Unlike her sister, who practically came out speaking in complete sentences, this has been a slow (well, average) development. It's been fun witnessing this process, since I can't really remember a time when Gabbi was "learning" to talk. Now, if we could get the pacifier out of her mouth we would probably understand her more!
She loves to dance, jump, do "somies" (forward rolls), and unintentionally terrify her baby sister. Kidding. Ruthie loves to watch her run all over the place. Her new favorite thing to do is climb into the exersaucer since we got it back out, and go crazy... I guess she didn't quite get her fill the first year of her life. She loves books... particularly Sandra Boynton books. I love hearing her repeat "Blue Hat, Green Hat" by saying "oopth!" on every page then laughing hysterically. She also likes Dr. Suess's "Fox in Socks" when she can sit through the whole thing. "Let's Dance, Little Pookie" is another favorite. She loves to sing... or rather, be sung to. Her most often requested song is "This little light of mine". She holds up her finger and says "Shine! Shine!" She loves songs with hand motions.

We love our sweet Catie-Bug.
Couldn't imagine life without her & thank the Lord each day for the joy she brings to our life!!