Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Jocelyn, on Her 5th Birthday

Dear Jocelyn,
It is hard to believe that another year has gone by so quickly! I told your dad today, I remember so clearly the day you were born. It just seems impossible that already in your short life, we have moved three times, your dad has been deployed twice and you acquired a brother!

In this year alone you have done some pretty amazing things. Teaching you to read has been an exciting (and I will admit, sometimes, exhausting) adventure. You only have six lessons left and soon we will be celebrating at Chuck E. Cheese! You also took ice-skating lessons again this year. Such a difference from when you took them last year. You passed with flying colors, and you are so anxious to take more. You also loved swimming lessons-after a summer at the "big pool" your dad and I agreed you needed a chance to really learn how to swim. We will definitely be taking more of those, too.

You pretty much love anything that involves other people-especially your friends. And it isn't hard for you to make friends. At church, at Awana, at VBS, at swimming lessons, in the play area at McDonald's (I love that you still call that place Chicken Nails-your own special made-up name)-you find friends everywhere. Because who could not love you? You are so full of life, eager to please, and with a love for fun. I am so proud to be your mom.

You have become so gracious this year. I love your gratitude for the little things. You always tell your dad "thanks" when we go to the movies or out to eat. You love to eat out as much as I do-and you love to go to the movies more! Renting a Redbox is always a special treat. You asked me one day, "Mom, do we have a Blu-Ray or a Redbox?" You are so full of questions. I don't mind (most of the time). You loved seeing "Tangled" today-your first movie in "3-G" as you call it. I am sure it won't be your last!

You really love learning. Reading is not your favorite, but you really seem to have a penchant for math. I am praying it lasts. You love to learn about the Bible, too. You are doing so well learning your verses for Awana, and you always ask such great questions when we read the Bible before bed. You are learning about how faithful God is, and praying is so natural for you. You never forget to pray before a meal, and I love how you started our family tradition of holding hands during prayer.

I could never cover all the ways you have grown this year in a single blog. You are quite the artist, always creating something. I never thought I would feel this way, but I want to save every piece. Especially the apology you wrote for me after you broke my little vases. It was mostly scribbles but you drew a special picture of a "Mommy-fly and a Josie-fly". It made me cry. You draw the prettiest dresses and people. You are creative with your toys, too. You love to make a little bed for Carson in a laundry basket and play house. You find new uses for all sorts of things! You are such a great big sister. Carson loves you, today he said, "These presents are for my friend, Josie". I can't believe how well the two of you get along.

Anyway, I hope you know that you are the best 5 year-old a mom could ask for. I love seeing you grow and learn and I am looking forward to this new year. I hope you had a wonderful birthday. I am praying every day that soon you will come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. You will bring the same dynamic love of life to that relationship and I know you can make a huge difference for the kingdom. I thank the Lord for the privilege of being your mom and how every day you help to make me a little more like Him. I love you, my Josie Posie. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tasty (Chocolate!) Turkeys

I have the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving at someone else's home-with food someone else is making! So, because my only two responsibilities are making the sweet potatoes (yum!) and bringing rolls, I have time to turn my attentions to other things. I decided that since most children don't really loves turkey, cranberry jelly, dressing or sweet potatoes, it might be fun to have something just for the kids. I saw these "turkey" desserts at Our Best Bites, but since Jocelyn's birthday is tomorrow and she has requested a different kind of cupcake, I didn't want to have to make two batches. Then I saw this cute turkey on a different site. But those called for mini moon pies and I couldn't find those at the store I was at. So I decided to make my own version!
I used:
-Little Debbie Chocolate Cremes
-Mini Oreos
-Mini Chocolate Chips
-Candy Corn (great use for those pieces left over from Halloween!)
-a simple white icing (I mixed a tiny bit of butter, a drop of vanilla, some powdered sugar and a little milk-I didn't want to make a whole batch, so just mix and add more sugar if it isn't thick enough)

I shoved candy corn into the creme layer of the snack cake. Since the kind I chose was basically two cookies with filling in between, it was really easy. Then I pulled a mini Oreo apart. I used the icing to stick the Oreo (white side up) to the snack cake. I used too much icing, you really only need a little. Then, I used a tiny dab of frosting on a mini chocolate chip to make the "pupil" on each eye.
Attach another candy corn with icing as the "beak" and ta-da! You have a happy Thanksgiving turkey that will be appreciated by all the children at your celebration. I plan on making these with the kids on Thursday. It should be a pretty easy craft for a 5 year-old, a 6 year-old and two closely supervised two year-old boys! I think they will enjoy it.

In other turkey-related news: here is my little turkey showing off some of her Thanksgiving crafts. Isn't that handprint/footprint turkey adorable? She is anxious to use her placemat for the holiday, too.

This is the photo where you can actually see his cute pompom turkey. I guess doing hands is still popular at Thanksgiving. I remember making my fair share of turkeys by tracing my hand. I was never that cute though!
This is the photo where you can see how adorable my son is. He just radiates cuteness-good thing he's mine!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tiny Baby Shower

One of my friends is having a baby. I do not care whether you have had one child or 20, you deserve a shower. A new life merits a celebration all his or her own! So, my friend Sarah and I started planning a shower together when we found out Denise was pregnant. I had shared an idea for a tiny party with her(I had seen such a cute one here). I would have loved to throw a "tiny birthday", but both my kids are a little past that stage. Sarah used the theme for her youngest's first birthday, and then she had the idea to use as a baby shower for her sister-in-law. Of course, since she had so much experience, we knew it would be the perfect theme for Denise. The gender of the baby is a surprise, and it is so hard to find neutral ANYTHING anymore. We were delighted to find the colors of the nursery were primary- so easy! The first thing I made was the banner- a "tiny" one- and it was so perfect. I used craft foam sheets-from the dollar store. Combined with little chipboard letters from Hobby Lobby and hot-glued to white ribbon, it turned out just like I had imagined.
I was also in charge of game prizes. That proved a little more tricky. Thanks to some guidance from my creative sister, Robyn, I finally came up with a solution.

I decorated each tiny bag (from Hobby Lobby) with decorative tape. That tape was so cool I included a roll in each prize. I am definitely getting more of that! It may be a scrap booking thing, but I can think of a ton of uses for it. I put in two small magnets and a tiny binder clip (those and the tape matched and were all from Michael's) and then I couldn't resist adding a new yummy cupcake scented hand sanitizer from Bath and Body. The last and perfect piece was a tiny Tootsie pop! They were a big hit with all the winners.

I didn't get a chance to get any photos without the guests in the way. I should have taken more pics of the table, too. I used a duvet cover from Ikea as the tablecloth. Sarah did the mini cupcakes. I brought tiny caramel apples, no photos because they didn't turn out quite right. I realized that a cookie scoop is NOT an appropriate substitute for a melon-baller! I wrapped all the forks in napkins and tied them with a bow- that was really cute. It is hard to see-they are in the box on the left.

A slightly better photo of the table. The sun coming in from the high windows in the living room (not my house, obviously- a sweet friend provided her's) made the photos really shadowy. Tiny balloons in tiny vases with flowers made great centerpieces.
A great woman from our Lifegroup made the favors and the water bottle labels. She did such a good job! The cradle I snagged from Josie's room.

I was SO pleased with how the pom-poms turned out! I found the directions for napkin holder ones and adjusted it to make mine to hang. They made it perfect. I borrowed some of Carson's primary colored toys for more decor, his blocks to spell out "Congratulations Denise" and the big blue drink bucket usually holds his stuffed animals. The drinks were cute, too: tiny water, and little cans of orange sodas (the expecting mom's favorite), Sprite (the green and orange matched the party) and then another guest brought little Cokes. I love a tiny can! Yeah, the tacky Wendy's cup is mine. I should be fired... The "caramel apples" are on the red tray.

Here is a better photo of the water bottles. The girl from Lifegroup relabeled 48 bottles!

The backs are hard to read, but they say "hugs 100%, kisses 100%, joy 100%, cuddles 100% ingredients: unconditional love" . So cute!

The kids had seen me working on all the decorations, so when I brought everything home, they had their own "baby shower" Jocelyn put it all together. I guess they were expecting a lot of guests. In all the shower was absolutely charming- if I do say so myself!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Locusts and Photos

I am sure you are wondering why I am posting photos that are so old. Yes, these are of Carson the day he was born (his birthday is the 10th, but my camera had not been adjusted for daylight savings time, and since he was born at 12:13am the date is wrong in the last one) and he is now over 2 years old. Well, there is a long complicated story, but the short version is this: We took photos. We loaded photos onto the computer. We deleted the photos from the memory card. Computer crashes-over a year ago. I didn't realize until recently that all of the photos we had taken of Carson up until about 4 months were on that computer. We failed in the one task of digital media-we had not backed the photos up.
Joel really felt like we could rescue the contents of the hard drive. I am not a tech savvy person at all. Tech handicapped is more like it! I did not know how this could be done, but I was very sad that essentially all I had was about 10 photos I had printed and about 20 (that included the 10 I had printed) that I had saved on Costco's website. I had two that I had taken the day he was born. Neither had me in them, and there were none of Carson in the delivery room.
I love photos. I am not a good photographer, but usually somewhere along the line I can get a lot of quantity to equal a little bit of quality. Realizing that the sum total of photographic remembrances of Carson's first 8 weeks was a paltry 10 pictures was a tough blow. I know that there are much, much worse things that could have happened. But I was still very sad. We had not suffered a devastating fire, or a terrible flood, or even theft. I had lost those photos through my own negligence, and lack of forethought. I could have purchased a cheap thumb drive, or some CDs and saved them in about 20 minutes. I could have moved them to Shutterfly, or even Facebook, but I wasn't really into those things at the time, and so I didn't. I just left them chance, and unfortunately, it proved to be a poor choice.
I was very regretful of my poor choice. But it did not bring my photos back. To be totally honest, I did not even completely learn from my lesson. I saved photos in various places, Facebook, Shutterfly, etc. but I didn't back up every photo that I took. I tried not to think about the photos, because there was really nothing I could do about it.
Joel had asked people off and on about rescuing the photos but no one really seemed to know what to do. We would talk about taking it to a "professional", but it always seemed to get pushed to the back burner. Then about a week ago, I found him in the floor with laptop and a screwdriver. I have know him long enough that I did not ask any questions. Then he called me over. He had worked some type of magic and there were some of the photos on our current computer. I didn't realize until that point how many pictures had been missing. All my photos from Christmas 2007 through September of 2008 were on that computer. And not all of them were showing up. It seemed all of the ones of Carson's birth were missing.
I tried not to be too upset. I was thankful for all the photos we were able to redeem. No use crying over spilt milk, and some were infinitely better than none. I profusely thanked Joel for his hard work. And we backed up the photos, all of them!
I was working on a post the other day when I decided to add some photos, I was clicking around to find the ones I wanted when I opened a folder by mistake. I clicked on another folder inside the first one to try to get the ones I wanted. I had to squint to figure out the thumbnails when I thought, "That kind of looks like Carson's baby shower". I opened the photo and it was! I started scrolling through the pictures and then I started crying. They were all there. Every photo- the ones of him all wrinkled, red and crying when he came out, my sister holding him, my brother holding him. The ones of Joel, Carson and I in the delivery room. And his first bath. And his sweet first smile. And him curled up in his Boppy pillow. And on and on. It was an amazing gift.
And it made me think about redemption. About having the years the locusts have eaten returned. About how I serve an amazing God who cares about the little things.
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-
the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts
and the locust swarm-my great army that I sent
among you. You will have plenty to eat, until you
are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord
your God, who has worked wonders for you; never
again will my people shamed.
Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the
Lord your God, and that there is no other; never
again will my people be shamed.
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men
will dream dreams, your young men will see visions."
-Joel 2:25-28 (NIV)
He promises the Israelite people that He will give them back all of their time of bereft wanderings if they will repent and turn back to Him. I know the joy I felt when I was able to see my photos again. I know how excited I was to see those precious images again. It doesn't even begin to compare with how glorious it is to have your life restored when you turn your eyes upon Jesus. I just love that I serve a God whose business is restoration. I love that He cared enough about me to overlook my carelessness and give me back my pictures. But better than that- He gave me life. Thank goodness He looks after fools and little children-I will let you decide which I am.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Swim, Little Fishies

This summer we visited the outdoor pool on post quite frequently. The kids loved the water, and the pool provides life vests for them to use, so it was safe and fun. However, I knew that they would enjoy and benefit from, taking swim classes. I signed up in September, but the classes are popular so we didn't start until November! The kids (and I ) weren't quite sure what to expect the first day. We got there early and they eyeballed the water.
Carson and I participated in a "Mommy and Me" class where I was with him in the water the whole time. Jocelyn took "real" lessons and was in the pool with her teacher. Neither one of them is afraid of water, so it was great.

I took photos of Josie the first day, but I realized that I didn't have any of Carson because he can't be in the water by himself. So who did I turn to?

See the little foot on the right side of the photo? That is my personal paparazzi-Josie. She took over 70 photos- it was so cute watching her try to get Carson to look at the camera! She took all the pictures with me in them. She got a couple of decent ones-especially considering she isn't even 5 and this was her first time using my camera. She loved asking Carson to put his face under water (something he is really good at).

He was really a natural. He was a little older than most of the kids in his class, and he was the teacher's favorite. Carson learned how to blow bubbles, put his face underwater, kick with his legs while "crawling" with his arms (beginner steps to swimming), floating on his front and back and singing. They did lots of motion songs to help them learn how to move in the water and not be afraid to be splashed.

The other wonderful thing about swimming: it exhausts the kids! They both took a nap every day. The downside: I was exhausted after swimming! It is hard work hauling around a 30 lb. two-year old in 4 feet of water. But it was worth it.
Jocelyn on her last day. Aunt Robyn sent her the cutie yellow ruffled swimsuit. That must be the
"in" style, since two of the girls in Carson's class had ruffled yellow swimsuits. So cute!
Jocelyn adored the whole experience. Her teachers were wonderful. She learned how to float (by herself) on her front and back, get in and out of the pool, jump in, and basic swimming strokes. Here she is doing what they call "soldier, chicken, airplane". It was so funny watching her stick her arms by her side (soldier) then tuck her hands by her armpits (chicken) and finally stick them out straight (airplane) all the while calling out those words so she could remember to do the motions. We will definitely be taking more swimming lessons. It was so fun for everybody! But first, I need a break...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Candy Day!

I know I am a little behind in getting this posted, but this week has been C-R-A-Z-Y. We had swimming lessons all week amongst a host of other things. I have not had a chance to post anything until today. I have several things I want to blog about, but I hate it when I spend 4 hours gettting a huge post together, so I figure I would just break it up. We started the day with one of our family traditions. We figure the kids get a ton of candy from everyone else, so instead of adding to the sugar high, we fill their bags with some fun surprises to start the activities.

Jocelyn is really into "writing". I loved the throw-back I got from the Smurfs. And yes, everything is from the "Dollar Spot" at Target. They always put that stuff on sale right before Halloween, so it serves our purposes well!
Carson got a Star Wars book and pens. They each got a pair of socks, and Josie got a glow "wand" while Carson got a glow "sword".

This was the best photo I got out of about 10 tries. I am soooo happy we had professional ones done. It is so hard to get a decent photo when they are so excited.
Carson found the harmonica before the photos. He was hilarious running around playing it in his costume. Jocelyn kept flapping her wand around, with all that ribbon it was kind of dangerous!
We went to the "Trunk or Treat" sponsered by the post Chapel. Our weather was phenomenal, and we have the most gorgeous scenery. You can definitely tell we are in Colorado! When we move off-post I will miss our mountain views.

This is how my kids really look. No nice faces here, only mischief is cooking!
Who knew Gene Simmons would be at the Trunk or Treat?! I thought this guy's costume was fabulous, but the kids were a little scared. I just have to admire any real guy who is not afraid to wear spandex in public!

The flying ladybug trying to dance off some of her energy before leaving for the Fall Festival at the church. She really did look like she was flitting around!

The dragon. Doesn't he just look like he is plotting something? Don't worry- he is!

Who gave the dragon a sword? He was chopping everything in sight and the sword had to be repaired before we even left the house! Thank goodness for Daddy and electrical tape.

Ready to attack... the candy! They were practically shivering with anticipation-I promise I didn't let them have any sugar before hand. We even tried to feed them real food before we left the house, but it didn't work.

Finally! Time to leave! It was difficult to contain all that excitement in a little car...

This year there were games to play at the church. Both the kids loved trying to catch the candy hanging from the ceilings with their mouths. I got some great action shots. Jocelyn was so pleased with herself once she finally got hold of hers.

Carson may have missed the instruction to not use his hands. But isn't the satisfied look on his face priceless?

This was a fun activity where the kids felt gross things behind the screens and tried to guess what they were. Jocelyn was a little creeped out by the cold spaghetti noodles she had her hand in!

Can you tell this is the end of the night? Between running around playing the games and sliding on the huge inflatable slides, costume pieces were shed everywhere! The sad faces are because it was time to go home and they just weren't ready. We all had a great night and we wrapped things up with $0.50 corn dogs at Sonic. And maybe some of that candy....


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