Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving and A Birthday

My Thanksgiving baby had another Thanksgiving birthday this year. Josie was born on a Thanksgiving Thursday and this year she turned six on Thanksgiving day. It was fun to remember all the excitement of her delivery! Her dad gave her flowers (she loves flowers, such a girl!) as a wake-up gift.

 Her brother gave her pajamas and bunny slippers for Kit. She was thrilled! I thought it was hilarious that she slept with her bow in- it made her look so cute for her photos. Usually, we do breakfast in bed, but since we weren't going out for lunch, we had a special birthday breakfast at McDonald's. A sausage McGriddle is one of the birthday girl's favorite things.
 We had been invited to have dinner at our friends' house, so we had a very peaceful morning. I whipped up my most favorite Thanksgiving dish, sweet potato casserole, while the rest of the family took in the Black Friday ads and the parade.
 I wanted to snap a shot of one of our favorite traditions: watching the Macy's parade. Jocelyn couldn't believe it was on when I was a little girl. We really should have a tradition of watching the dog show-that is what I watched while I was in labor with her!
 I also wanted a good picture of my two favorite turkeys. I got some really good ones-for once! This one is such an accurate representation of their personalities.
 Josie was excited to get to spend her birthday with her best friend, Hannah. I was excited that I didn't have to cook! Lunch was delicious, thanks to my dear friend, Sarah, and her sweet mom. It is so nice to not have to spend the holiday with just our little family. I always miss my wonderful extended family, and it helps make it a little easier when you are with good friends.
 Jocelyn discovered a love of pumpkin pie! It is kind of tough to fit 6 candles in a little piece of pie- next time her birthday is on Thanksgiving we will have to put them on the whole thing!
 A girl after my own heart: she used her candles to lick all the Cool Whip off her plate. Pumpkin pie without cool whip is like a mashed potatoes without gravy-except for worse!
 Another favorite tradition is making a snack-craft. We did turkeys last year and this year I copied these little acorns from my sister.
 These were a snap, and the kids loved making them! It is:half a mini Nutter Butter cookie, an unwrapped Hershey's kiss and a mini chocolate chip (we stuck ours on with a little bit of peanut butter piped out of sandwich baggie). So easy, so cute!
They were obviously a hit with Carson, who clearly takes after his dad. Josie had a great birthday, and we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Who can go wrong with good food and great friends?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

To Josie, on Her 6th Birthday

Dear Josie,
             What a year this has been! Far and away, the biggest and best memory I will have of this year is that you were saved. I never realized how hard it is to trust that the Lord will draw your child to Himself when the time is right. I have wanted for you to have Jesus in your heart since before you were born. I have prayed that He would give me the right words to say, and not let me get in the way, and He didn't!

You came to me one day in January (I wish I had written down which one) and said, "I prayed to Jesus, and asked Him into my heart during rest time". You told me that it had been a few days before. I was a little hesitant- I mean, you were so little, barely five! But you had been asking a lot of questions, and the more we talked to you about it, the more we realized, you had figured out how much you needed Jesus. And I hope you will see that you always will.

Miss Kelly, one of the best teachers ever, talked to you about it a lot, too. She knew you were ready, and she has been so instrumental in discipling you. You have been so excited, telling everyone you know about Jesus, and how to accept Him as Savior.

You were so ready to be baptized! It took a long time, for a lot of different reasons, but finally you were baptized last Sunday. You were so proud, and so very excited. Your dad was very nervous, but he did a great job. He talked about how " when your 5 year old tells you she accepted Jesus, you think she is too young to know what she is talking about, but after you listen to her you realize you might be too old to know what you are talking about!" and he shared Philippians 1:9-11. We picked those verses for just for you.

"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1:9-11

When Daddy asked you if you had accepted Jesus into your heart, you so proudly and clearly said, "Yes." It was one of the sweetest moments of my life.

And, of course, you did plenty of other things this year. You have learned how to ride your bike, cross the monkey bars, and tell time. You love playing with your birthday gift, Kit. You spend hours with your Barbies and Pollys. Drawing entertains you endlessly, too, and secretly I hope that you will continue to be artistic.

You are so confident, and I love that. You have lots of friends, but your best friends are Hannah and Rebekah. You are polite and fearless. I hope you keep your great sense of self-esteem. You are created in God's image-so you should be confident in His love. You are a wonderful big sister, sharing and taking care of Carson. I see you always thinking about everything-and you are so curious!

Some other things: you love to eat your vegetables (every mom's dream!) and bell pepper and carrots are your favorite. You love an apple with the peel on, too. You love to watch "Mythbusters" and "Chopped" with me and your dad. You love to play outside, and are great friends with all the kids in the neighborhood. You love listening to me read from the "Little House on the Prairie" series.,

 You are a CHAMP at learning your Awana verses. You passed your book and review in less than one-third of the time you were supposed to. I am so proud of your love for God's Word! I hope that stays with you.

I love you so much. I am so thankful for you, and I love that your birthday is on Thanksgiving this year, just like the year you were born. And this year, I am thankful for your new birth in Christ. He gave you to me, and it thrills my heart to know that you belong to Him. You are so wonderful, and I can't imagine having a better daughter. I love you.
                                                                                (because that is what you always call me!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Josie's "Best Birthday Ever!"

Josie has known since her dear friend's party at American Girl (in March!) that she, too, wanted to have an "American Girl Store Birthday Party and the Cheesecake Factory" celebration. The heart knows what it wants. Anyway, in order to avoid the holiday rush, we scheduled her party before her birthday. That did not seem to bother her in the slightest...
I don't consider myself to be super "girly". Feminine, yes, but not so much into high heels, make-up. poofy dresses and bling. Josie is the exact opposite. She wanted to have the whole look for her big day. She loves to dress up! She posed for a photo by the display window of the store.

She was joined by her two "bestest of best" friends. They all delighted in opening every little box and bag at the store to ooh and ahh over the tiny things. I may have been guilty of a little of that, too!
My little cheeseball. She could not make a decision about her doll. We had spent almost an hour in the store, literally inspecting every single doll! I tried not to push her towards Marie-Grace (who just so happened to be 25% off- a significant amount when each doll is $100!) I really wanted it to be her choice.
In the end, she selected Kit. An excellent choice, if I do say so myself. They bear a little bit of resemblance to each other, and I had heard horror stories concerning the upkeep of the dolls with the long hair. Kit's is nice and short- a typical 1930's bob.
Josie anxiously watching while the purchase is completed. I think she told everyone in the store that it was her birthday party.
Someone kindly gifted her with a sticker to announce it. Her dad gave her money to buy whatever she wanted, as a special gift from him. She choose, Grace, Kit's basset hound. I think that is an adorable name for a dog- especially a basset!
Aunt Robyn generously provided the money to have Kit's ears pierced. Josie is dying to have her own ears pierced, but I am not ready for that quite yet. Both of Josie's friends also decided that they wanted to have their dolls ears done, too.

The three princesses waiting on their dolls. They were by far the cutest girls in the store!
If you ever want to get a million compliments on your daughter, put her in a frilly dress, do up her hair and let her wear heels. People kept stopping me to tell me how beautiful she was. She, of course, ate it up with a spoon! Also the perfect time for her to interject, "it's my birthday party", cue more compliments!
Finally, she got to hold her doll, all ear-piercing complete! I love the little bag they gave us with the extra earrings.

Headed to dinner. Josie was insistent on bringing her stroller for her new friend. It was pretty darn cute to watch her wheel Kit around.
Josie's dress came with a matching one that fit Kit. Of course, Kit had to do a costume change before dinner, so they could be twins.
Michael's has the CUTEST American Girl doll party supplies. Each doll got her own plate, place mat and cup. EEEK! I almost couldn't stand the cuteness. They also had a great craft set so each girl was able to make two headbands and two bracelets for her doll. It was a wonderful activity for taking up the time while we waited on the food. It would have been even better if it hadn't been so dark! But they still had fun (although after trying to tie clear string in the dark it is a wonder the three moms aren't blind!). You can see Josie explaining her headband technique to her friend. (Just in case you were wondering, I did NOT pay full price for the things-providentially, there were 50% of coupons the week of her party!)
Josie, sharing a sip with Kit. The paper goods also went well with the mini favors that I packed for each girl. They had tiny packages of candy (mini Tootsie Pops, Haribo gummy bears, etc.) teeny notepads, mini cameras, and little Hello Kitty tins that looked like purses. Everything was doll-sized!
The fun didn't stop! Josie had a great time opening her presents. She got one of the best little girl gifts- a purse filled with fun things.

She got a little ambitious pulling out all the tissue paper!
Josie with Grace. Aren't they adorable?

This, too, was also adorable, errr delicious! I tried the new Hershey's cheesecake: chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, chocolate ganache, chocolate cheesecake=yum!
Josie's special birthday sundae. She was beaming while the servers sang to her. The one time that happened to me, I cried. Josie just eats up all the attention!

She also love that the plate read "Happy Birthday Josie!!" in chocolate and sprinkles.

After everyone was packed full of dinner (all the girls had mini corn dogs, by the way, which I thought was hilarious!) my good friend suggested the most beautiful photo spot. I think they should model, don't you?
This one, however is my favorite. She is such a special little girl. Hard to believe she will be six soon. She just kept saying, over and over, that it was "the best birthday ever". I'm glad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sad Day

Without sharing details that aren't mine to share, suffice it to say that a dear friend has suffered a great tragedy. This is the first time that I can remember being so absolutely devastated for someone. I don't know what to say-which is a completely foreign feeling to me. I don't know what to do, which isn't. I have cried so much that my head is still hurting.

And this is only the beginning. If I feel this way, I know I have absolutely no comprehension of how my friend is suffering. And there is no end in sight.

But God is sovereign. He did not look away during this time. He has known about this since the beginning of time and He is not surprised by a single thing that occurred. I was sorely tempted to ask "Why?" but I realized that I don't want to know. There will be no making sense of this in this life.

I just keep praying that the Lord will let me be there for my friend. That He will keep meaningless things from coming out of my mouth, that I will be filled with compassion and tenderness. That I will be a blessing and not a stumbling block.

And I have to believe He will answer those prayers. That I can be His love, that He purposefully included me in this situation because He knew that He could fit me for the task. And I will be grateful for that. And I will pray for my friend without ceasing...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Racecars and Shoeboxes

This year Josie and Carson started attending Awana at a different church. We had attended (and I had taught) on post at the chapel for the last three years, but with Joel getting out it was time to find a new program. We absolutely love the new one! It is huge and does a lot of the things that our smaller club couldn't do. One of those things is the Awana Grand Prix. Josie got into the spirit of things by pretending to "drive".
This is Carson's car. Neither car was the prettiest, nor the fastest, but they both enjoyed coloring them. Next year we will do paint, but we didn't have time to make them too fancy this year.
This was Josie's. There was some pretty stiff competition in her division. Fortunately, I think it was the dads who were the competitive ones, the kids just wanted to have fun and enjoy looking at the cars!
Josie and Carson were thrilled to be asked to hold the flags for the opening ceremony! We were a little nervous about them touching the ground, but they did just fine.
Each racer was allowed to place his or her car on the track for each heat. There were three heats, and for Carson's division there were five groups. For Josie's there were eight!
Josie got some encouragement from Cubbie Bear while placing her car.
And their off! The race was so quick you couldn't hardly see the cars.
The whole thing was very professional, with a digital track and scores posted electronically on the leaderboard as soon as the last car cleared the finish line. The speeds were translated into miles. Josie's car was one of the slowest ones, at 155 mph. The fastest car in her division went 214 mph! Carson nor Josie won, but they did have a good time. I am little frightened at the amount of "ideas" Joel has for next year...
Later on the kids packed their shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This is without a doubt one of my favorite holiday traditions. I packed my first box at age 13, and I haven't missed a year since.
Carson had a little trouble figuring out why we were buying gifts for someone he didn't know, but once he understood, he really got into it. He tried to buy everything in the store for his "friend". He really wanted to send his friend a ball, and he hand-picked the stuffed moose he sent. It was very sweet.
Jocelyn was so cute. She wanted everything to be just perfect for her box, and in the end it was so full it would barely close!
She specifically wanted to put flip flops in her box. I am so praying that some little girl in a foreign country has turquoise flip flops on her wish list. And a stuffed puppy.
She drew the sweetest card to put in her box, I had to take a picture. She really loves doing it as much as I do.

So that is just a little of what has been going on here. We have been busy, busy as usual. I don't think it is going to get any slower with the holidays coming. I guess I better just resign myself to it at some point that this is normal!


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