Thursday, December 30, 2010

Visiting Family

During the holidays we had a couple of day road trips to visit Neil's Maw Maw's and his aunt, Mary Ellen. Claire and Eden had a great time visiting! Claire was such a sweetheart climbing right next to them and soaking in some cuddle time. Their presence can brighten anyone's day!

Our first stop was George West - about 2 hours south. Here is Claire with Maw Maw and the necklace Claire made her!
Claire and Mary Ellen
The best group shot we could get with Eden =)
Neil's mom and dad went with us so Mimi took the girls to the field next door to investigate the hay rolls!

So cute!
Mimi and Claire using their muscles!
Couldn't resist these two pics of our cutie pa-tootie!
Peek-a-boo!
A few days later it was off to Kerrville for lunch with Maw Maw Springer! We went to eat some Chinese cuisine, visited the art museum and strolled a bit downtown. Can't wait to go picnic by the river when the weather gets nicer in the spring!
We are so blessed to have family live so close. Being a military family growing up, we ended up far from our extended family so I didn't even know what it was like to be around my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins - I don't ever want to take for granted what a blessing it is to be just a drive away. We need to make the commitment to visit them more often!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

You're such a big girl

(catching up on December posts!! Check them out below if you want to see how busy and fun our month was!)

Claire - Sometimes I just can't believe how big you are getting. You have such a sweet, loving, nurturing heart that is beyond your years. Right now I'm listening to you encourage your sister to pretend to go ice skating with your baby dolls in the foyer. The best big sister around for sure!
Although you're getting older, there are still times when I get a glimpse of my baby girl. I will be sad when they go. You still say some of the cutest things! Here are a few I'm holding onto these days:
"stunk" = skunk - too cute!
"Jofes" = Joseph - I thought this would be gone this year but nope! Makes me smile every.single.time.
"strange cheese" = string cheese - one of your favor tie snacks

You are also still completely attached to your baby pillow. It's getting pretty worn as you've slept with it every night since you were about 18 months.

Ever so often I like to ask you "Will you always be my baby?" and you always say yes but about 5-6 months ago you said "I'll be your baby even when I'm 5 and 16" - you will forever be my baby.
One of my favorite times with you is our drive to church on Wed. nights. You and I go together while daddy has been staying home with Eden (won't be too long before she comes with us!) It's amazing how often times a song on the radio will spur on the most wonderful conversations. Usually about God, heaven, what a song means, etc. There have been SO many I can't write them all but one in particular was you trying to understand heaven. It wasn't your typical "Are there going to be toys in heaven?" or "Can people in heaven hear us?" - you like to ask this a lot - but it was you asking me about someone on the radio who was talking about having cancer. You said (paraphrasing):
c: "What's cancer?"
m: "It's when your body gets really sick"
c: "Do you die from it?"
m: "Sometimes - if your body gets sick enough"
c: "That means Mikey had cancer?"
m: "No - she died in a car accident."
c: "So you have to die in a car accident to go to heaven?"
m: "No - you have to believe in Jesus to go to heaven and accept His dying on the cross for our sins. His grace is what gets us to heaven. That's why we need to tell everyone we know about Jesus."
c: "There are people who don't believe in Jesus?!" (such shock in your voice)

WOW - didn't know I'd be having this conversation with you when you were 4 1/2! I pray you will always ask us questions and we will always do the best we can to answer.

Just the other night while I was getting your bed ready you asked out of the blue "When you die can I have a picture of you to remember?" (you meant to remember me by) That just about put me into tears. I told you that daddy would have a lot of pictures of me and talk about me a lot - tell her stories of me,etc. So you asked "What if Daddy dies too?" so I told you Grandma and Grandpa would have them for her. You seemed content with that answer.

One more serious one =) Around Halloween time you took my face in your hands, I love it when you do that, and you told me so seriously "Always remember this (long dramatic pause)... I will always love you." I will ALWAYS remember =)
(You are becoming quite the photographer these days! You took this picture of yourself while we were in Wisconsin)
Oh you say the funniest, cutest things right now! Not sure where you come up with them at times =) Here are some we always want to remember!

About a month ago you were walking hand in hand with Kendrit at church. He said he was going to walk you to the car - he's a sweetie! You turned to him and said "If you were a sandwich, I'd eat you!" Oh, we lost it! We thought it was more than hilarious and still wondering where you got that one =)

The other week you were climbing on the rope ladder on our playscape in the back yard. You lost your footing and fell a bit but caught yourself with your legs on the ladder rungs. You said "Oh, I'm glad God caught me!" and a little later "Glad He wasn't talking to anyone so He caught me." With a little chuckle and wide eyes - as serious as you could be!
My baby girl - we love you so much! I want to always remember you at this age and just soak up every God given moment we have with you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Praying you all have a blessed Christmas from our family to yours! We opted not to send out any letters and pictures this year. For those who know me, you know this hasn't been easy =) Still wanted to wish you all a wonderful Christmas!
Claire

Eden
Just the two of us!
And keeping it real - nothing like taking a bite out of your sister for Christmas! Praying that she'll have a brother around next year to goof around with!
Love to you all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

14th annual Christmas party

Did I just write that?! I can't believe it's been 14 years since we started this Christmas party - well, technically we've only had 12 because we didn't have one in '98 and we didn't do it in '08 (when Eden was born!) Well, the years have changed our party. It now starts early and we have pitter-patter of little feet running around =) We have had early endings but this year we had some later guests so it was a late one!! Unfortunately we didn't get a group shot and I didn't even get pics of Danny, Jenny, Philip, Kristi and Jeff! SO much fun catching up with everyone!

Yes - the party certainly has changed! Here is Kate and Tracy with the girls!
Crystal, Richard, Eric and Erin (and baby Schmidt due August 4th!! CAN'T WAIT!)
Our cookie monster had so much fun running around with the big girls!
My mom and dad stopped by to say hello to the old gang and see the girls!
The girls played so well together! 6 girls - we gotta get some boys in the mix! HA!
J.J., Claire, Andy and Lyla
Aubrey and Andy
Didn't even get one picture of Neil and I! I think this is the first year I didn't take a lot of pictures but just enjoyed our time together. We LOVE hosting the Christmas party every year and can't wait to see what changes this year will bring to our old group of friends. Hard to believe - although we don't talk all the time or see each other every week, we will forever be friends!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Program

This is the first year that the girls have been in a Christmas program together and it was adorable! Claire was a village person who got to take gifts to the manger. Her class then sang "Silent Night" and she did beautifully! Eden's class was first on the program and came in ringing their bells while singing "Jingle Bells". She then came to sit with us, Grandma and Grandpa to watch the big kids.

Eden running to us after her bell ringing - she sang and rang those bells like a pro!
Eden, Grandma and Grandpa watching the show!
Claire waiting to take her gift to the manger
Claire after she sang with her group

Great job girls!! We're so proud of you!
Eden and her teacher Ms. "La La" (Laura) - She LOVES Ms. Laura!
We have been MORE than excited about their school this year and can't wait to see how much they learn in the spring!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

December #

Got our official email today with our December number:

Not much movement from November's 51 but that's part of the waiting game! Some months there are a lot of referrals and some there aren't. They are waiting for families to bring their kiddos home before they can bring more kids into Hannah's Hope (AGCI's transitioanl home). We thought we were #49 but found out a family already on the girls list was added to the boys list and they had their dossier approved before us so they bumped us up by one.

We are waiting patiently but I will say this is the first month I've really thought about this waiting game and where it will put us when we get to bring our little guy home. From the beginning I was praying that he would be home by next Christmas - a year away - but I'm not sure if that is realistic. We'll see... I'll keep praying and trusting that God's timing is perfect. Anything is possible with Him and His plan is better than we could ever imagine.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Breakfast with Santa

Our annual Breakfast with Santa at church was so much fun! This is the first year Eden knows who Santa is so she couldn't wait - of course the minute she laid eyes on him she was terrified but it never stopped her from talking about him constantly (all month and more!)

Here are Leyna and Claire this year - I take a pic of them together every year and can't believe how much they've changed.
Claire especially loved the addition of the build-your-own-pancake-with-candy! This girl loves her sweets =)
Sister forever
This is what I get these days when I say "show me your teeth!"
Waiting to see Santa and checking out the reindeer food
Claire was more than ready and eager to see Santa this year! Eden - not so much =) Claire told Santa she wants a craft box which actually sounds like "crap" box so we had to translate for her. This cracks us up every time she tells someone when they ask "what did you ask Santa for?" The four of us with Santa - the closest we could get Eden to the bearded guy. Claire tried to tell Santa what Eden wants and we finally got from her that she wants a "turtle".
The loves of my life
Just the four of us - Neil and I are SO blessed! Praying that next year it will be the five of us =)
Grandma stopped by towards the end to catch a glimpse of the girls in their matching pj's. Eden was loving her candy cane and sitting on Grandma's lap!
The day after Breakfast with Santa, I took Claire to the neighborhood Christmas party. I couldn't pass this picture up when posting - isn't that a great Santa and the cutest 4 year old? This meeting brought up a lot of questions about Santa =) "Why does he look different?" Apparently, Santa is a busy man and has helpers!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2 years old

Wow - our baby girl is 2 years old! I know I say this every month but where does the time go? You are growing and learning so fast! It's so much fun to see you become YOU! Just really coming into your personality, starting to really express yourself and truly becoming aware of others around you. You bring us such joy and keep us on our toes! Your special smile is contagious!

We caught these pictures of you on your big day while celebrating Thanksgiving at Aunt Shannon's house.

We love you SO much sweet girl!
So what have you been up to this month?

- LOTS of learning!! You learn new words every day and you are now putting them into 3 words sentences "Come on dad", "You sit here", "I want you", "Are you ok?" The best thing that happened with your language is you started saying "love you" on your own and not because we said it first - melt our hearts.

- You are also learning your colors & shapes and consistently get: blue, white, brown, pink, yellow; circles and square

- You love to go to bible class on Sundays! When we pull up to the church building, you often claps your hands and say yeah! You also love to go to school on Tuesday and Thursdays! You especially love your teacher Ms. "La-La" (Laura) - you are very protective of her =)

- You got your first bike for your birthday and you love it when we take it out. You are getting better and better at pushing your pedals by yourself.

- You don't like to sit in your high chair except during breakfast! Such a particular little girl - I know that will really come in handy someday when you are making decisions

- You have grown a lot this month! We went to Dr. Gulde's office and you screamed and clung to me like you never have before (Dr. Gulde had Claire help a lot to have you calm down) are in the 40th percentile for your weight (25.15 lbs.) and about 45th % for your heigth (33.5 inches) You and Claire got your flu shots so we went for an ice cream treat!

- You have started a love for drawing - not necessarily coloring all the time (you like that too) but you really want a pen in hand. You will cover up a paper with circles which keeps you very busy and quiet =) You are also following in sisters footsteps and loving any craft we do.

- The other day your bible class teacher, Tracy, told us that you sing so much in class that sometimes they have to tell you that's they are done with the singing part! You also like to sing along with the class next door (mommy sings those songs for you every night since I helped that class in the summer time!) Our little song bird!

We love you Eden Noel and can't wait to see what God has planned for you this next year! Happy Birthday!

Wisconsin

The week before Thanksgiving the girls and I took a trip to Wisconsin! My grandmother hasn't been doing well so we wanted to get up there to see her as well as introduce Eden to her extended family =) She hasn't met any of my family except grandma and Aunt Linda so it was a big trip for all of us. Eden flew free until she turned two so we just slipped by. Thanks to my dad who traveled with me to help - I wouldn't have been able to do it without him. It was a very special trip for us all and I'm so glad we made it.

This was Eden's first time on a plane and boy did she love it! She was pretty good for the most part but I'm sure some people weren't too excited about sitting next to us. Claire was BEYOND excited and was such a big girl.
Having fun with grandpa!
Neil packed a goodie bag for the girls and Claire couldn't wait to take it out to discover what was inside. Her favorite? Coloring Princesses! The Silly Puddy was the best surprise that kept them busy and quiet.
Our first layover was in Minneapolis so we got to see SNOW!
We traveled to Sheboygan to my Grandma's house and the next day we visited with a cousin of mine and his family. I haven't seen my cousin Lance since I was 19 so it was great to catch up, meet his wife Deb and spend time with their kiddos. We spent most of our time with sweet little Eve. She is about to be 3 years old and the girls had a great time playing with her. Since birth she has had osteogenesis imperfecta which is a very rare bone disease also called brittle bone disease. She constantly has broken bones so we had to be very careful while we played. I am going to post more about her later and how we can help her family! Her mom makes the sweetest hair bows and I would love to get all my friends to buy from her to help with all the medical costs they endure.

Here are Claire and Eve coloring - Claire was SO sweet with her and was so concerned with being careful.
It was SO cold that day so we bundled up to go outside to visit their bunnies.
Getting all bundled up with my girls - we are definitely from Texas!

Swinging on the tire swing - love this one =)
Claire, Eden and Emily
Here is my Aunt Evelyn, Lance's mom. So glad she also came over to visit and meet Eden for the first time.
Next day it was off to visit the rest of my dad's sisters but not before we shared a little breakfast with Grandma Ann. I have a lot of memories at this bar area!
Grandma and her great grand daughters

Always have to take a picture out on the back deck! A blustery, cold day!
Then it was off to Sandy's to visit with Dad's sisters and Uncle George - Here is the crew - George, Carol, Faye and Fern - Marge is taking the pictures! Dad has 7 sisters
Claire snuggled up with George right away - this girl knows how to cuddle!
Marge and Eden
Carol and George - love birds!
The next day it was off to see my mom's side of the family in Milwaukee.
Looking sharp in their pig tails and matching outfits - thanks Mom!
I LOVE this picture!! Eden looked through Grandma Ann's jewelry box to find the perfect earrings for her outfit that day.
We met at Barbara's to visit and eat Chinese food - Here are my awesome aunts from top to bottom - Judy, Linda, Barbara - I couldn't ask for more special aunts!
It was Kaitlin's 13th birthday - guess who was SO excited to see her 2nd cousin? Claire talks about Kaitlin all the time =)

Big sister pushing Eden downtown Milwaukee
We went to the Children's Museum and had a great time playing and discovering new things! Here is my dancing/spinning queen!

Mr. Potato Head
Driving the bus
Claire at the craft table with Barbara, Kaitlin and Linda One of their favorite things was the pretend grocery store. Eden couldn't get enough bread in her shopping cart!
After our time at the museum it was out in the FREEZING cold to look at the town square lit up! We were only out there for about 5 minutes!
Barbara, Kaitlin and Linda

Our last full day was spent hanging out at Grandma's after church. Eden found this stool had a removable lid and was in heaven playing peek a boo all day!
Where's Eden? There she is!
Linda and Eden playing with her puzzle
Grandpa and his Claire Bear
We went to the library to drop off Grandma's books and pick up some new ones. This library was AMAZING!
Barbara and Eden
Ready for bed!! Grandpa with his girls in their new monkey pj's from Barbara. For some reason this picture gives me a glimpse of what Claire is going to look like when she is older. She's already growing up too fast =(
Silly faces!
Saying good-bye to Grandma Ann - Claire just loves her Grandma Ann! This day was special for me. While Claire and Eden danced to The Nutcracker on DVD, my grandma shared with me her memories of her meeting, dating and marrying my grandpa while I wrote it all down. Her memory isn't as sharp as it used to be and that just isn't like her. It's hard to see her like that but she told me SO much detail about the years of dating and marrying her love. I never met my grandpa so I really love hearing stories about him.
Me and Grandma - Claire took this one!
On our way to the airport we drove by a few places - the old school house my dad went to kinder - 8th grade. He had 6 kids in his class including himself. It was a tiny little place in Gibbsville.
Right next to the school house was the Gibbsville Cheese Factory - a MUST stop when we visit Wisconsin. I remember this place from when I was little and loved getting the fresh cheese curds. So awesome to take my girls here!
Also stopped by the house he grew up in - this is a picture of the barn on the property. I remember picking fresh berries from the bushes in front of the barn when I was a little kid.
It was a wonderful and memorable trip for us! We missed Neil terribly and were SO glad to be home after a flight delay and race to the gate to catch our connecting flight. I've never run so fast! It took us at least a week to recover since it was jumping in to Thanksgiving and Eden's party when we got back. Nothing like creating such wonderful memories!