Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Date Night Picture

Just to prove to our children we were cool. (Or at least, semi-cool.) And I didn't shower after our Halloween party, so still rocking a sick amount of AquaNet hairspray.
We heart sushi and we love this shady little place down on Canton Road. It's always empty and the sushi chef is a little weird, but they leave us alone and let us talk, so they're winners in our book!

Family Birthday Celebration

For Steve's birthday weekend, we got to enjoy a little bit of everything - a Halloween party Thursday night, a birthday date on Friday, and celebrating with the girls on Monday (his actual birthday). The girls loved being able to celebrate Daddy and Steve got to enjoy an ice cream cake!
Poor Steve. This is what your cake looks like when you're born so close to Halloween and your wife doesn't actually buy the cake until 4:00 PM on the night of your birthday. The only thing left is the pumpkin cake with the crooked smile. Luckily, Steve doesn't care what the cake looks like, as long as it's an ice cream cake.
Blowing out his candles. Bella was so impressed!
High-five for Daddy for blowing out his candles!
Oh, wait. Evelyn wanted some love, too!

 Bella showing off her cake.

 Why are my kids so weird at smiling! She looks like a deranged little animal!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Do You Ever Just "Want"?

When I asked Bella what she wanted to be for Halloween this year, her answer was "a pink pony". (She was very specific that it should be a pony and not a horse. Don't ask.) For weeks, which in kid time is like a year, she's insisted she wants to be a pink pony.
Last week, she changed her mind to pink donkey. What four-year old girl wants to be a donkey? I'm not sure, but it didn't really matter, because I figured I could do the same, homemade costume that had been forming in my head and it would be fine...a pink hoodie, pink pants, and some sort of easy face paint. If I felt like a total super-mom, I'm going to try and put her hair into a bunch of ponytails like a show horse.
Which brings us to today. This afternoon, I was showing Bella some pictures of face painting designs on my phone, and she declared she was going to be a purple unicorn for Halloween. We don't own anything purple (anything!) and I couldn't find purple face paint anywhere that wasn't combined with a bunch of other colors we would never use. Deep breath.
We had to run some errands today at Target, and I ran into this awesomeness...

How crazy would Bella go if we bought her this costume?!? The answer is: SO CRAZY!!!! Plus! It would completely take away any "work" on my end of having to come up with costume or face ideas for whichever pink pony/pink donkey/purple unicorn she decides on by Thursday.

Here's the problem: it's $30.00. Yes, that is a ridiculous sum of money to spend on a costume for a four-year old. Or, I guess, any age. I know it's so unnecessary, but I just want it. I know it's a result of really good marketing; it's just so tempting to look at this costume and want the immediate, easy, fun gratification.

And honestly, if Steve hadn't disagreed, I'd have walked out of Target with this costume. (Which is a whole different discussion about submission. I did not enjoy it.) I hadn't budgeted for any costumes, so it would have just gone on the credit card and I would have been completely fine with that.

In the end, we didn't buy the costume, I sulked a little bit (yep), and life went on like normal. I don't want to be the kind of person who finds happiness in stuff, but I have to admit, it would be nice sometimes to whip out the credit card whenever I wanted. I also don't want my definition of "need" to change as God blesses us with more financial security. I want to teach Bella and Evelyn about excess, real need, giving, contentment, thankfulness; and I want to be able to live out that example in front of them.

So we're going to create a costume of awesome, donkey likeness on Thursday night and let her go collect a freakish amount of candy from total strangers! Hopefully, she'll remember to say thank you.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Best Birthday Halloween Party Ever.

As September was wrapping up, I had some money set aside for a pumpkin carving party like we did last year, but I just wasn't excited about it. ('Cause I'm a girl like that.) But then, I started thinking about how we've never had a party for Steve's birthday and how perfect it would be since his birthday was so close to Halloween! It was an epiphany!
I loved everything about this party! The decorations were so much fun (and mostly from Dollar Tree!), the food was yummy, and it was a huge group of our friends, all together in one place! We invited people to wear costumes, and everyone did! It makes it so much fun when everyone decides to dress up! This will definitely become a tradition!
Steve had a great time, and even better, felt fully loved and celebrated!

I loved the bats in the dining room so much, a part of me wished we could leave it up all year long! I saw the idea a few years ago in a Martha Stewart magazine, but since I found the bats already cut out from the Dollar Tree, I was able to do the entire room for $3.00! Amazing!

I borrowed all of the candlesticks from Whitney to make the table look spooky and elegant at the same time! I am not an "orange and black" girl, so I went with a white and black theme instead. Lots of skulls and spiders instead of orange pumpkins. I didn't do Halloween-themed food, but I found creepy labels online that I printed off and placed in some of the food that "fit". The meatballs were labeled as "boiled eyeballs", the stuffed jalapeƱos were "witches' fingers" - that sort of thing. 

The table in the entryway. I used more spider webs throughout my house than I could believe! Luckily, I found a bunch of bags at Goodwill and had some left over from last year.

Mice on the stairs and black, scary cloth on the wall.

Our fireplace mantle. I'm from Florida, so we never had mantles in our house growing up. It's one of my favorite places in the whole house, because it's just so fun to decorate!

The "spider web" cake. My first attempt at this was hilarious! The whole top of the cake was tipping, the icing was going everywhere; I laughed out loud every time I opened the fridge door! I decided to cut off the entire top of the cake and bake that part over. The second attempt went much better! I stretched melted marshmallows between my fingers to make all of the webbing. It still wasn't perfect, but it was a lot better!

Whitney and Trey came as the Lone Ranger and Tonto! Don't they look incredible! Just so awesome!

The sisters! I could not have survived on Thursday without Mel! So much of the food needed to be made at the last-minute, and Mel totally kept me sane and helped get it all done!

Steve and Trey around the fire pit on the patio.

Melissa and Marlon as Bob Ross and one of his Autumn paintings. I never would thought of this! So creative!

These four nailed it! Ryan, Emily, Jen, and Bobby looked so fantastic as 1920's gangsters and flappers!

The birthday boy blowing out his candles.

Ryan and Emily with Zach, who was Walt from Breaking Bad. I've never actually seen this show, but he still looked great!

Christie was a housewife who got pregnant by the mailman, Kelsie was a basketball (both women are actually pregnant!), Jen, and Mel.

Steve and the last minute, Steve wanted a bullet hole in his forehead. I was a little nervous it was going to look like a sun, but it turned out really great!

One of our first "couples" shots together and totally epic! I love this picture!

I have no idea what's happening in this picture, but it makes me smile - Trey never breaks character with his "wild eyes", Steve is looking at me like I'm crazy, Whitney and I are making eyes at each other - a great day all around! I love both of these people (and Steve, of course) so much!

All the ladies together! How great does everyone look! Nicole dressed as Flo from Progressive Insurance, Jess as a scuba diver, and Mary-Beth as Snow Fun Barbie (Or something like that)! Everyone rocked it!

Steve and Matt, dressed as Willie from Duck Dynasty.

Caroline totally lucked out getting to dress as Willie's wife, Korie. In all of the Duck Dynasty episodes I've seen, Korie is always dressed super-cute, so I'm not sure that's fair.

The picture from Mary-Beth's phone that may haunt my dreams...Matt photo-bombing our birthday kiss picture.

Big Springs Farm Pumpkin Patch

This year, we had two criteria for our pumpkin patch experience: close and inexpensive. When you have to travel an hour away with small kids, there's so much added pressure of having to have a good time to make it seem worth it.
Steve went online last week and found two different pumpkin patch farms that were less than 30 minutes away and both of them were free! Awesome! We asked Matt and Caroline if they wanted to come, too, and we had a swell, bonding time with our little families.
(Pet Peeve #218: I tried out a new, really tiny camera that we had gotten because of credit card points, and it was terrible. But, of course, you don't know it's terrible until you come home and look at all of your pictures, so I was a little bummed at how many came out fuzzy. I know it was cheap and free, but it only had one job to do! Okay, pet peeve over.)

It was such a beautiful morning, we played outside a little bit before Matt and Caroline showed up. Evelyn is a champ at walking now! Woo hoo!

Babies in Fall clothes, holding Daddy's hand.
There's not many things that are more awesome than that.

The menfolk with their babies. Jude was adorable in his suspenders! He looked like a miniature member of Mumford & Sons!

Bella and the chickens had a clash of personal space, but they didn't draw blood, so we considered it a win.

There was a baby calf that spent most of its time getting licked by its mama, which Bella thought was pretty spectacular!

Pausing to snuggle with the Squirt while Daddy and Bella poked the chickens.

How cool are these pumpkins! I've seen them called "Fairytale Pumpkins" at other places, which I also love!

We could barely get Evelyn to sit still, but Bella did her best to smile!
(Even if it was her "Chandler" smile. Bless that girl's heart!)

Mastering the tractor...gotta show the boys how it's done!

Matt and Steve, enjoying their brief moments without children!

Evelyn and Jude checking out the pumpkins and hay bales.

I love this one, because it describes all of my photo attempts with the girls - Bella sitting patiently, looking at me, like "When are we going to get this over with?" and "Why can't you control your other child?", and Evelyn barely even in the frame because she got distracted by the wagon handle. Or the clump of dirt. Or the other children. Or.....

Our group shot! Look how cute we all look in our cozy plaid, scarves, and boots!

The farm was beautiful, with lots of open spaces and trees, so it gave us some pretty backdrops for family pictures.

I like this one because of the way Evelyn is leaning back against Bella.

This child is a total ham for the camera! 

Getting tossed around by Daddy. I love these shots! (And her little ponytail!)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bella's First "Talk" With God

Bella has been obsessed with Mulan lately. And even more obsessed with Shang, the "prince" of the story. For at least two months now, she's been calling Shang her husband. She gets "sad" during the day because she "misses Shang", and she talks about how he's going to visit her. Yesterday in the car, I overheard this conversation she was having with God.
She even answered herself with "God's voice" and it was actually lower! How do kids come up with this stuff?!
Bella (as Bella): God, can I please marry Shang?
Bella (as "God"): No you can't.
Bella: Please? I really want to marry him! Please, please, please????
"God": Okay, you can marry your husband, Shang.
Bella: Thank you, God! Thank you! Mom! God said I could marry my husband, Shang!
Seriously, that was her talk. This is the first time I can even remember her praying out loud when it was more than just the little rhyme she learned in preschool. Why am I even surprised that this is what she prayed for?

It's Not Over Yet...

Because this blog is a story for our family, I want to be honest. Even if it's about rough subjects, I try to write as though no one else is reading the words except me. That being said, this past weekend was a rough "baby" weekend.
One of the women in Mel's ministry is pregnant. The baby has Trisomy 18, which is the same condition we had originally thought Lily had. Mel and I have talked a lot about it in the last couple of days, and it's just been really emotional.
In the beginning, it was hard to think about what this woman would be going through when she was induced last Sunday, even more so, because she was having a full-term baby who the doctors had said wouldn't survive the week. The woman was induced on Sunday night; when Mel checked in with them, the baby was actually doing well. He's got a cleft palate and an extra finger, but his organs seem to be doing okay.
Despite the signs of hope, the doctors are still telling this woman that the baby won't survive. Can I be honest? When I found out that the baby seemed to be doing well, my first thought was, "It isn't fair." In my head, I absolutely know that God doesn't work that way. He doesn't have a red button, deciding who survives and who doesn't. And of course, I want any baby to thrive, but I couldn't escape the thought in my head, "Why not me? Why not our baby?" Unfortunately, there are no simple answers, and sometimes, there aren't any answers at all.
On top of the emotions at home, we went to a friend's baby shower on Saturday. This wonderful woman is due at the same time as we would have been. Instead of talking about the shower, I'll just say this...
It's really hard sometimes to find the balance between "it's all about me" and the little reminders about babies. Friends' baby showers, announcements at church about baby can be overwhelming, and really isn't all about me. Deep can be draining just calming down the voices in my head! (Not actual voices; I haven't stepped into that cup of crazy just yet.)
I wish there was a less chaotic way of describing what's going on in my head, but it's not always straight to me either. There are days when I want to tell Steve about all of the little things that reminded me about having a baby that day; but then, I know that other people's joy is a wonderful thing, and I don't want to take away from that at all! Ugh.
So all of that to say, it's not over yet. Not every day has sad moments. It's just hard to describe our emotions on the days that do...

Tellus Science Musem

Emily invited us to tag along to a science museum last week, and we had a great time! Between Bella and Ally exploring, and Evelyn getting better walking on her own, I took about 200 pictures on my phone! Luckily, I was able to condense them down a little.
Dinosaur fossils...Bella loved this part! We even snuck Bella and Ally behind the massive shark jaw to take a picture.

The gemstone exhibit - Emily and I definitely appreciated this one more than the kids did! Emily and I had to chuckle that some of the stones said, "Do Not Touch", and some of them said, "Please Touch"; as though small children could read and tell the difference!

Digging for fossils and gemstones! Evelyn got to actually participate in this one! There were big areas set up, almost like sand pits, but filled with tiny pieces of rubber. The kids got to "dig" around and find actual fossils. The woman at the museum said they were real fossils from a site in Morocco. Each one of our littles got a small, plastic bag to put their fossils in and take home. 

This was the exhibit that I knew Steve would love! Lots of old cars and motorcycles, with a cool jet engine and helicopter thrown in for fun! I got to smile while Emily chased Ty around the machinery - he was rarin' to go around all of those "toys".

Ty and Evelyn loved the sound exhibit...they banged on drums and rattled cages.

More fossils - this collage is my favorite - on the left, the girls got "scared" in front of the T-Rex bones and checked out a huge footprint. On the right, they sniffed fossilized poop and posed in front of a mammoth skeleton. My favorite part is that, in the picture of all four kids, Evelyn is screaming her head off.
We had a great time with friends, exploring a bunch of different subjects! A couple of very friendly bees chased us out of our lunch pavilion, but other than that, we loved it!