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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Pancakes & PJS Party

We celebrated Vivian adn Aleesia’s birthdays last month with a pancakes and pajama’s brunch party – it was such a fun party to plan and who doesn’t looooove pancakes and hanging out with friends in pjs?! It was an awesome party for a newly minted 2 and 4 year old.

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We used some simple decorations in pink, blue, purple and gold that were left from one of the many parties we’ve had in the past as well as a few new ones from the dollar spot at Target – super simple.

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I set up a little craft for the kiddos – just some cocloring sheets and fruit loop necklaces – they honestly just played in our playroom 90% of the time but a few fruit loop crafts were made.

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We also had cereal as our thank you gift.

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We served pancakes (obviously! and also thanks to my stepdad!), a vegetable egg bake, bacon, fruit and yogurt. We had cookies, cake and donuts for dessert!

Check out these awesome caks and cookies – so lucky to have such a talented local baker.

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We took a break from the playing and sang to these pretty birthday girls

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And the big(gest) sister was a total goofball the entire morning!

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We are so lucky to have such awesome people in our lives, but there were 30 kids under 8 here (yes, really) and as much as I wanted to get a picture of all of them i knew better than to even attempt it!

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The only part of hosting parties that is difficult is that I can’t also photograph the party – but suffice it to say this was a simple, effective, easy to pull together party that can be “themed” any other way you want.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A letter to my {second} daughter: F-O-U-R!

Aleesia!

Today you move from a threenager to a big four year old! I think I will always remember how excited but scared I was for you to arrive – I had NO idea how to be a mom of more than 1 girl but I quickly figured it out.

I figured out that you were just what I (we) needed – the challenge, laughter, salty and sweetness you bring to every.single.day keep us continuously on our toes. We need to keep our eye on you because, well, you’re mischevious! You’ve cut your own hair, drew a mural on the wall (it was a good cat…) and turned yourself into cat girl. You often hide things in your pockets, sneak candy in your room, sneak things out of your sisters’ rooms, play a mean game of hide-and-seek, go outside when no one is looking, play with makeup that is definitly not yours, and ask for forgiveness for all of the above later.

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You have always loved to snuggle and I hope that continues into the age of four – I cherish the moments where you snuggle up to me and cover me with your blanket. Especially these days when we are always on the go and there aren’t a lot of moments when just the two of us spend time alone.

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Speaking of alone – you LOVE to be alone with me, or daddy, or any other adult in your life – it’s as if you are an only child holding the spot of second-oldest. I can’t explain it exactly but you certainly behave the best, have the most to say and simply are so especially enjoyable when you get a chance to shine alone whether that is while Vivian is napping and Gianna is at school or if we are on a special trip to Target.

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Some of your favorite things to do are: talk about everything, read books, color, listen to music, go to the library, read books, dance, sing, play with your American Girl doll, read books, snuggle, make people laugh, play outside, play with the dog, do math (no, really!) and make crafts. You love your dance classes this year. You love school – your favorite parts are drama and music (no huge surprise there!). You are starting to make some of your own friends, watching your initial shyness bloom into your ‘true’ personality around others is really fun! You love dance and I am loving watching all that you are learning there each week because your skills are improving so quickly!

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You’ve taught me that whatever I learned being Gianna’s mom before you were born doesn’t matter because you are YOU and I need to learn to be Aleesia’s mom. That means big bear hugs and soft speaking when you start to get a little ahead of your emotions and more negotiating and explaining than I might *want* to do to avoid a full melt-down. There are days when there are more tears, definance and overall attitude than I know what to do with and then there are other days where we enjoy so much laughter, smiles, jokes, kindness and sweetness that my heart bursts into a million pieces. We both need those happy days to fill up our tanks as a means to handle the hard days. When you REALLY laugh, I think the whole world laughs too – it is infectious!5.30  (144)6.2  (24)DSC_0937

This year you are going to become a big sister again and you are SO excited – a level of excitement I hope continues once the baby is here! You ask so often about the baby, love to feel it kick and wiggle and offer up many name suggestions which I love to hear. You have grown SO MUCH as a big sister this year – you watch over Vivian and help as much as I could expect you to. You tell me “I can handle this” when you know certain things need to be done and it is really sweet – as much as it is hard to see at times, I see a servant’s heart forming inside of you. The pride that beams from your face when you have helped someone is unmistakable.  You enjoy playing with Vivian and teaching her things – we have a little ways to go with sharing and taking turns, but the growth I’ve seen is imense this past year with so much more room to grow and learn from each other.  You’re a pretty fabulous little sister too – looking up to Gianna so much. And let’s not forget your cousins – you adore them and you and Luci – well you might as well be sisters!

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We often refer to you as our little Gypsy – you love adventure and to be away from home whether that means spending the night with Grandma or one of your aunts or heading out of town to a hotel! We went a few different places this year, one of which was Disney World this summer (your second time) and you have asked to return nearly every single day since – recently you told me we HAD to go back so that you could show Ariel your hair since you cut it! You love to explore – there isn’t much that scares you or that you won’t try (for better or worse). I hope we can always feed your sense of adventure and exploration – it is contagious.

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Four is going to be a year of continued, rapid growth – another baby, more preschool, trying new sports and continuing with dance, making new friends and growing current friendships, learning more and loving on others to the best of your ability. You’re going to continue to blaze your own path, there is no doubt about it!

I am proud of you every day and I love you more than words can say. I hope you feel loved for all the minutes of your life – especially the hard ones.

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Love you!

Mommy

Monday, January 30, 2017

It’s about kindness

This is about kindness, not politics. It’s about being human and loving others, not religion.

President Trump, not someone I am a fan of whatsoever, has put into effect an executive order that affects every.single.person in this country whether you think it does or not. 

I’m surprised this requires reminding, but this country was founded and built on the backs of those who came here from elsewhere – immigrants, refugees fleeing countries where they were no longer free to believe in their religion of choice or to practice their preferred profession or to love the people closest to them. MY family is here because they were granted entry into this country through Elis Island. YOUR family is here because they were granted entry.

I can guarantee that you ARE affected by this information not just from a family history standpoint but from a your-life-today standpoint. If you went to college, you surely had many classmates who were first generation citizens or many who came here on student visas, whose parents fought hard to come to the United States to give their children a life that wasn’t possible in the country where they were born, I was dorm-mates with several individuals who earned their green cards before we graduated. Those people, those colleauges, they were (are) the most patriotic, loyal citizens I’ve ever known. 

Your doctor, your pharmacist, the person who helped to engineer the bridge you drive over every day to work or school, the scientist who helped to create the medication you take on a daily basis, the educator who helped to mold your career, the owner of your favorite restaurant, the individual who provides translation services for the military helping to prevent actual terrorist attacks – SO MANY AMAZING PEOPLE are here, working and living alongside us every single day in ways you would never realize that were born in other countries.

Some of the smartest, most amazing human beings are here from somewhere else as LEGAL CITIZENS – they came here and PROVED that they were WORTHY of being United States citizens – something none of us who were privliged enough to be born here were forced to do.

Can you imagine having to leave the country because there was a death in your family, or a wedding to be celebrated, or your job required you to travel outside of the US – leaving your home, family and life behind for (what should have been a finite) time period, only to be REFUSED access back into the country of which you are a LEGAL CITIZEN? Or having to undergo, as was amended “secondary screening, but everything else will be normal.”

It truly is not normal for someone to be required to further prove that they are, in fact, citizens of this country and justified to return to THEIR HOME or to require an immigration lawyer before traveling. What about a family who, fleeing horrors I can’t even let myself imagine, after two years of vetting and proving they are worthy to come into this country is denied entry – on the day they had looked forward to for years – because of their religion and where they were, unfortunately, born? This is happening.

NOTHING about this makes sense. Nothing about this represents what this country was founded upon. If additional security measures should be imparted in specific circumstances so be it – I’m not here to debate that – but this goes WAY beyond anything that has been done before as far as my research tells me.

There are a whole host of other issues and bills and executive orders in the works or that have occured in the past 10 days that are so extreme we should all be consulting our history books alongside a calendar to make sure this isn’t the 1930s – but again, I am really not wanting to debate that – if you want to talk about it, email me.

Here’s what I AM saying –Stand up for what you believe in, peacefully (but not unrelentingly, if you are so moved). If you have facts, share them in a way that helps to educate and not demean others – we each have an opinion and that is wonderful – but unbiased facts do stand alone at the end of the day.

However, remember that during this incredibly difficult and hard to understand time, a time where so many of us are left baffled, angry, hurt, confused and up to our eyeballs in research trying to figure out what the hell is happening in our country – we all need to make a little extra effort to put out kindness, love and genuine action wherever and however possible into the universe. You have no idea what the person next to you is experiencing (every day, regardless of political happenings or otherwise) – be nice, hold the door, smile, remember that actions speak louder than words.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Reflections, etc.

I don’t think I could have ever anticipated the speed with which life would move at times as I was growing up (you know, back when a 30-minute TV show felt long and summer vacation was an eternity). Not only is life moving ahead at warp speed, it is changing and evolving and turning in circles continuously x5.

This year, with its (many) moments that felt as though they were going to drag on for much longer than I preferred, is almost over. Our family has experienced heartache, uncertainty, happiness, laughter, adventure – but regardless of the experience I’ve made it my priority to count it all joy.

It was really freaking hard to go through three miscarriages in a row. To feel like, despite the beautiful girls I have, my body was broken and I was weak. It was almost harder to feel confidence that the fourth time would be the charm – I still have my moments of doubt and nervousness but the more this baby kicks from the inside, the better and more excited I feel.

Mike lost his job this fall, that has been hard for obvious reasons. But it has also been a change that isn’t all bad – there is a bit more lightness in our house (job stress can be hard on everyone), a bit more togetherness (for better or worse) and a shifted focus to find something that might fit our family life a bit better regardless of financial sacrifices (it’s all just “stuff” anyway, right?). We are making it work and praying for the next great fit to come along soon!

Gianna has struggled with school but she has never struggled with her desire to try as hard as she possibly can. We have been navigating these waters for 3 years now and I think we are on the right path for her. She might get discouraged sometimes, as anyone would, but she tries and what more can you ask of anyone in any area of life?

Aleesia has some of the biggest emotions i have ever encountered, and I thought Gianna had big emotions (which she does!). Parenting those emotions and making strides with how she can control such emotions has been a challenge this year – we are getting there, slowly some days, but we are learning together what works for her and what doesn’t. Aleesia also has a wicked sense of humor, which makes you forget about those big emotions sometimes!

Vivian has an imagination that rivals Gianna’s – when I watch her play I sometimes forget how young she is! She is at the age where she picks up everything with her spongy brain and observant eyes. She also doesn’t love to sleep, which can make everyone slightly grumpy and irritable. We’re working on it (thank you, essential oils, for giving us some relief in recent days).

Our Cleveland Cavs won the NBA championship and our Cleveland Indians took the World Series to game 7 – those were big deals in this house in 2016!!

We have had other family things to navigate with our extended family, scary and not-so-scary alike. I have yelled too much on too many days. My patience has been used up before 9am, again, on too many days. There have been many moments where I needed to adjust my focus and priorities. There have also been moments that took my breath away because they were so fun, enjoyable, relaxing (okay, only a few of these!), memorable and special to make up for the ones that weren’t any of those things. But it will be alright in the end, the good/happy outweighs the bad/frustrating because I say it does!

Our village of friends and family has supported us through every crazy part of this year and I truly hope they have felt supported by us as well.

There has been a consious effort to cut back on our social “obligations” to focus on what is important and enjoyable to us as a family rather than always doing what we feel like we need to do (because why do we need to do something we don’t enjoy?). That has been a welcome change and one that has changed our social-calendar dynamics – allowing us a little more down time. It’s hard to see and keep in close contact with friends when everyone’s lives are moving in equally changing directions – which is something I need to remember when I’m craving time with my favorite grown ups!

I think my biggest reflection and take-away from this year is this: We all go through things, we all have a storm to weather on any given day – sometimes it might be a drizzle and some days it might be a hurricane – but we have to keep in mind that we are all human, only capable of so much on our own before we need to lean on our village (& our faith) – on those who can lift us up when we need it, make us smile when we don’t want to and just understand that it’s going to be okay even if we don’t know what “okay” looks like yet.

Of course I hope that the next year has a few less bumps in the road, but even if there are more bumps than we’d like, I hope that I can continue to find joy and grace (admittedly this isn’t always easy to do and sometimes it’s a bit of a delayed reaction) in all things – good, bad, scary, exciting, and everything in between.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A letter to my {third} daughter: YOU ARE TWO!

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From the moment I found out you were growing inside me I knew we were going to have a special bond. You came into our lives as the third little girl we would get to raise and love two (short, but sometimes long-feeling) years ago.

Ironically, I woke up this morning at just about the time I knew my contractions were the real deal and I so vividly remembered that morning as I bounced on an excercise ball, drinking coffee by the light of the Christmas tree. The excitement I felt in my heart, butterflies in my stomach knowing I would be meeting you so soon, apprehension at what my (then) baby would be feeling as I sent her off with her Aunt knowing the next time I saw her she would be a big sister. It was a crazy day – so many long moments, so many really really hard moments and then you were here and in the blink of an eye I was rewarded when they placed you on my chest and I looked in your eyes for the first time.

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You were a snuggler and a mommy’s girl right from the get go and not much has changed about that.

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In the past year you have learned to run (and gallop, jump, spin in circles and race “ready set go!”), talk (so much! It is fantastic!), play pretend, and (sort of) sleep in your own room.

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We’ve stopped worrying so much about your peanut-stature since you have finally made your way onto the growth charts.

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You became a big cousin! What fun and adventures you are going to have with your cousins – and are already starting to have. You love to see “baby Lia” and get so excited when Luci comes over. The bigger you get, the more fun you have playing!

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We went on a few out of town adventures – including Columbus, Disney World (you loved it!) and Toledo!

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This year, and really the past month or so, I’ve noticed a big change in your relationship with your sisters. You’ve always looked up to them and wanted to do everything that they do but the more you play and talk, the more they include you in their games adn play time. One of the things that brings me the biggest smiles as a mom is watching you three develop your own relationships with each other – watching them evolve and grow with you.

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And your favorite thing to do, other than watch Snow White, is probably take care of your baby dolls. You are so nurturing and loving “baby need a pillow?” “baby need a blanket?” – you usually have no less than 2 binkies and 1 baby in your hands or within your eyesight at all times!

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This year you are going to put that love for baby dolls and babies to good use when you become a big sister! It is probably going to be a tough transition, with your dislike for sharing your mommy with anyone – including your big sisters a lot of the time –

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but we are going to make it and everyone is going to be alright!

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In a nutshell –this past year you’ve grown in your smart, sassy, smiley, stubborn ways into your own person – a person we are so lucky to get to love and watch continue to grow and change and we wouldn’t have you any other way (except with a few more hours of sleep under your belt each night – that would be lovely!)

Keep that twinkle in those big blue eyes and that sense of mischief behind that toothy smile, my little love, those are things that make you you!

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Love you more than you could know -

xo

Mommy