31

I think I like the age of 31.  The kids and I have been evicted from our house while Russ rips up and replaces the floors in our living room,  kitchen, and foyer.

You see those black lines/spots….that’s mildew in the exact outline of where previous homeowners added onto the house…obviously not doing a very good job.  FYI – this is NOT why I like the age of 31.   Being evicted means we came to Pops and Grammy’s house for the week, where Kathryn and Ryleigh are also staying.  All PARTY all the time!

The day started with birthday pancakes, made by mom, accessorized by Kathryn.

Then I had a COM meeting (COM is a regional church committee for you non-PCUSA clergy folk).  And it was over in TWO HOURS, which I think is a record for us.  We usually meet for at least 3 hours.  I think they sped things up for my birthday.  That AND the unanimously approved the presbytery parental leave policy I submitted – welcome presbytery to the year 2012!  Now people don’t have to call me whenever they get knocked up to get advice on how to get a policy done at their church.

While I was gone, the kids made me a “special surprise”

Then I met Grammy, Kathryn, and the kids at the park for Chick-fil-a lunch and play.

After naps and rest time, we got to eat the “special surprise”

The we played.

We all got to ride in the 32

And chased/caught a cricket

And then Mom made my all time favorite meal…SOOOO good.

And then, since we hadn’t eaten enough, Kathryn and I were treated to another ride in the 32 to Baskin Robbins to sample one of their 31 flavors (for my 31st birthday) with Dad.

Yes, 31 should be alright!

tea

Today, my mom invited her two daughters and two granddaughters to a Mother-Daughter Tea at her church.  It was lovely.  The hostesses decorated the tables with fancy linens, flower arrangements, and full sets of china…even real tea pots with matching sugar bowls with sugar cubes.  I don’t think I have experienced that much fancy before.  But it wasn’t stuffy fancy…it was very relaxed and fun.  The owners of the fine china didn’t even freak out when a four year-old and two year-old sat down in front of their finest.

And then there was food….good food.   We are the classiest people by far.  Mom put some chocolate Dunkin Donut holes on some doilies on a fancy dish.  (LOVE her!)

Taylor ate her finger sandwich daintily, with her finger up.

Of course, she also tooted three times during the course of the meal.

And then shoved a cupcake in her mouth.

I think we pulled off Fancy like Fancy Nancy in our dresses, hats, and jewelry.

Even if we aren’t the most photogenic family in the world.

My hat serves mostly as my beach hat, so I had sand all over me by the time the tea was over.  Yes, yes, we are classy folk.

Bonne Annee

Russ left this morning to go to Orlando for the Capital One Bowl so I resigned myself to a non-celebratory New Year’s Eve with the kids and myself in bed by 7:00 – Bah Humbug.

But then Grammy arrived with other plans since she was determined not to let the boys-only-Orlando-trip ruin her holiday.  Knowing full well that the kiddos would not make it to midnight, she had the clever idea to celebrate the Parisian New Year…which makes good sense in this house since without Paris, life would be incredibly different today.

We began the evening with croissant sandwiches (and silly hats of course)

Then we went outside for sparklers and poppers

Then, the kids got in their pjs for the countdown

5…4…3…2…1…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

CHEERS!

We ended the evening with ecclairs.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also show you Taylor’s New Year’s picture.  I dug out some of my old scrapbooking stickers…notice Mary (yes, the mother of Jesus) next to Taylor dressed as a reindeer…both holding a bottle of champagne.

Happy New Year everyone.  I hope you all have a great night and a great year.  My only resolution for 2012 is for nothing even close to 8 lbs to come out of my body (2010 – 8lb9oz Caleb; 2011 – 8lb cyst).

Gratitude

While I certainly wouldn’t wish a giant cyst and it’s necessary surgical removal on anyone, I do wish everyone had the opportunity to experience the blessings that come from an event like this (or at least to intensely recognize the  blessings surrounding them everyday).  I am truly overcome with gratitude and humility.  I have the best support system ever.

My mom has been here since the night before my surgery (two weeks exactly now) taking care of me and the kids….feeding us, cleaning, doing load after load of laundry, playing with the kids, driving us around…basically loving us in every possible way.

I have not cooked in two weeks and yet have eaten heartily (I take that back – I have only eaten heartily for nine days – since I was in the hospital before that – no hearty eating there).  The amount of food in our house is incredible.  Russ is getting spoiled…poor guy won’t know what to do when the food runs out and it’s back to me to determine and prepare what we eat.  Taylor has also grown accustomed to her “church friends” coming bearing food.  The one night we did not have a new meal (we needed a break to take care of some leftovers), she asked “Which of my church friends is bringing dinner tonight?”  For all of us it’s a double treat because we get to see some of our favorite people AND get delicious dinners.

I love the note in a recent card from a loved one:  “So, I’m southern and feel the need to feed you because that’s what we do when someone we care about is hurting.”  That note included a gift card…we have received a few of those as well, so we can still eat when the meals run out.  INCREDIBLE.

I received lots of beautiful flowers (and a balloon).  It seemed like there was a steady stream of flower delivery people coming in.  Flowers from friends, family, church people, and even the MUSC Dean’s Office (!).  INCREDIBLE.  I used to wonder why people sent flowers for things (other than an occasional love bouquet from your spouse), because really what do you need all those flowers for?  But, man, did each arrangement bring a huge smile to my face!  In the sterile white hospital room, I was surrounded by beautiful color, reminded of love and awesome people.

There were more cards than I could have dreamed

on top of the electronic love through comments here on the blog, on facebook, txt, and e-mail.  I got a stack of magazines to keep my loopy brain entertained and some games to play with Taylor.  I had visitors who braved the downtown craziness.

I am truly humbled by it all.  It’s not that I ever doubted that I had great people in my life or that I was loved deeply by many, but I have just come to a new understanding and appreciation.  I will never be the same (or at least I hope I won’t).

I will begin writing thank you notes tonight, now that I’m feeling better and hopefully won’t fall asleep as soon as the kids are in bed.  I made a list of everything people had done before Sunday because Russ wanted to make sure he knew what to thank people for when he saw them on Sunday…but I added all the non-church people as well for my future note writing (since the drugs do crazy things to my memory).  When I handed Russ the list, he stood there for a second with his mouth wide open – in shock by all of the acts of service we have received.

Shock.  Awe.  Overwhelming Gratitude.

I am grateful for all of you – for your love and support and prayers.  I couldn’t have made it through without them.

Thank you.

update

I haven’t been blogging much lately…it’s been a bit crazy trying to settle back into work with the added hurdles of training a new secretary by myself and the head of staff being out for three weeks and preaching three times in a month and rally day and youth group kick-off.  But I also have kids who have been keeping me entertained and making sure I don’t get completely absorbed in work.

Piglet got to come to the PYC pool party, which she thought was pretty awesome.  A pool + her friends + watermelon + cocky helmet = FUNTIMES

A few weeks ago, Russ got a call from his 96 year-old aunt.  She said that the oldest resident at her retirement home had just died, so now she was the oldest.  She wanted to give some things away while she was still able to do so and wanted us to come.  So we did – it was a miserable 6-hour round-trip with two cranky kids, but still well worth it in the end.  Last week, we were talking to Piglet about her birthday and how she would be older.  She said, “No, I’m not old, Grammy is”  (HA!)  We asked her who the oldest person in our family was.  First, she said “Grammy” (sorry, mom)…but then she said, “No, my great great aunt is!”

The day after visiting Aunt Rebecca, we loaded back in the car for Baby B’s first football game…I think the excitement was a bit much for him

Piglet is currently at her third game this season – she LOVES football. (and her daddy)

After not raining for several weeks, it rained A LOT all at once…Piglet was pretty excited because she got to wear her super cool rainboots!

The kids are learning to play together, though I don’t think Baby B is too sure of his sister being IN his playmat.

Baby B has been growing and getting cuter ever day.  He thinks watching football with his dad is pretty groovy.

Today was DPC’s second annual Dorchester Serves Day.  We started things off with worship and communion.  This morning, Piglet wanted to stand with me, which I thought was pretty cool.

So that’s a quick summary of the blogs that would have been if there had been time (and if I didn’t fall asleep at 8:30 every night).

party princess

Piglet:


Russ:  What happened to my tomboy?
Me:  Grammy.
Russ:  True.

Much to Russ’ deep disappointment, Piglet has become a fan of princesses and considers herself a princess.   Grammy (and maybe me a little) has done nothing but encourage the new obsession.

It all started last fall when we brought that princess table home for $5 from the church yard sale – at the time, she didn’t know who any of the pretty ladies were, she just liked having a place to have tea.  Then she really started listening to her favorite song and book:  “Dance me daddy“.  There’s a line in the song that goes “she packed away princess gowns and crowns and bows” and another “if I am your princess then you are the kind of the world”  and in the book, the little girl is wearing a pretty dress and crown.  So whenever the song comes on, Piglet insists on wearing a dress and spinning around the room.  Then we watched Sleeping Beauty, and she was really hooked.   The other night when she heard the “dance me daddy” song, she said.  “I want to wear a dress and spin around like Sleeping Beauty”.

Then Aunt Sandra was here and wanted to buy her something and we decided on a little Sleeping Beauty doll with multiple dresses, a carriage, and a prince.  She plays with it ALL THE TIME.  Although, she does prefer to put Sleeping Beauty in a toy car rather than the carriage.

Then Grammy bought her a crown and princess shoes (with Sleeping Beauty on them even) and introduced her to the movies Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, and then we showed her Snow White.  Then I found her tutu handmade by our crafty cousin Carrie.

AND the rest is history.  Now she says that she and I are princesses and Russ and Baby B are princes.  Grammy, of course (with her princess influence/bribery), is considered a queen.  And she has insisted the past two days to wear a dress to school so she could be a princess.

But really, I don’t think Russ needs to worry too much – she may be a princess, but I think she’s still pretty tough.

toy story 3

Getting to watch your kid experience something new and fun for the fist time is truly incredible.  Last Friday, we decided that we were going to take Piglet to her first movie at a movie theater – Toy Story 3 – the following Monday.  The whole weekend, I was really excited….I mean really excited.  I would talk about it with Piglet to try to get her to be as excited as I was, but I don’t think she ever reached that level.

We planned on going to a movie that would be shortly after her nap, which I thought was smart:  she would be well rested and the popcorn she would eat would not interfere with her dinner.  But, we didn’t get to the theater in time and the show was sold out…I forgot to factor in that it was a holiday and hot outside and EVERYONE and their mother would be going to the movie, speaking of mothers, Grammy and Pops came, too, which made it even more exciting for Piglet.  We went ahead and got tickets for the next show and had an hour to kill.  Piglet didn’t understand why we were leaving, but with the mention of ice cream to kill time, she was on board.

We got back 30 minutes before the show started so we would have enough time to do last minute potty breaks, get popcorn and drinks (for $19.50, thank you very much – but it WAS Piglet’s very first movie experience, so we had to go all out – next time, we’re bringing the big mom bag filled with our own snacks), and get seats together on the back row so no one could kick Grammy seat (this is her all time pet peeve).  We were successful on all accounts.   With 10 minutes until showtime, I took Piglet for our last pre-movie potty break.  She gleefully skipped down the hall and back – she just couldn’t contain her excitement about the whole experience – so very cute.

Then the lights dimmed and the movie started, well the 20 minutes of previews and animated short started.  And Piglet was hooked.  She laughed out loud, really loud, a lot.  She was definitely the loudest laugher in the theater.  And it was so very cute.   She did really well in the movie considering that “stillness” and “quietness” are not among her strengths as a 2.5 year-old.  She changed seats a few times…her own…Grammy’s…Pops’…and back again (she did not, however, want to sit with Mommy or Daddy, which made me a little sad, but I will have to admit that my lap is not the most comfortable at the moment, plus it’s pretty clear she prefers Grammy and Pops in most cases).  She was a BIG fan of the popcorn.  We got the big bucket. and refilled it.  before the movie started.  I packed a little popcorn bucket from home so she could have her own.  It was just so cute.

Good Times