Sunday, April 22, 2012

70. Babies are blessings. Always.

Babies are always more trouble than you thought - and more wonderful.  ~Charles Osgood

 Pumpkin, this picture of you and your Aunt Ashleigh is one of my favorites.

You remind me so much of your Aunt Ashleigh.

You see, I was already "grown" when she was born (almost 7 years old). By the time she was walking and had developed her personality fully, I was already in two digits.

Your Aunt Ashleigh liked her clothes to not match. She had a creative, fashion streak from the time she learned to walk. She is smart, she is kind, she is funny. 

Just like you.

As we celebrated this Easter with your Aunt Ashleigh and Uncle Justin, we also celebrated for the first time with your cousin, who is currently growing in your aunt Ashleigh's belly.

You are beyond excited - we are all beyond excited.

Babies are blessings.


69. Girls like it when you notice the little things. Pay attention.

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there.  ~Clarence W. Hall

I look at this pictures and I remember the egg hunt at Nana and Papa's house this year.

Yet another annual tradition. 

Each year, your Uncle Justin dutifully hides the Easter eggs whilst you and your sister bounce excitedly around the house.

 As soon as they are hidden, you both rush outside and race around the yard trying to collect all of yours first (Nana always gives you a limit of the number of eggs you can pick up).

This is one of my favorite moments each year. Even though you are getting so much taller, so much bigger, so much more grown up - it is in these moments that I'm reminded how little you still are.

Laughing, giggling, racing around after plastic eggs. 

I see in these pictures your sister's new shoes.

Which you complimented her on just that morning "Hey Mikaela - I like your new shoes."

To which your sister smiled broadly, and said "Awww. Thanks."

I can always count on you, my dear Bubbe, to notice a new shirt, a new hair cut, or even a new cup in the kitchen! 

Girls like it when you notice the little things. 

Pay attention.

68. Start a tradition. Make it simple.

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.”
W. Somerset Maugham

Sweet Daddy is always teasing me about my newest "systems" - meaning I am forever having a new idea for where we can keep important papers, or how to curb the clutter, or yet another system for keeping up with the laundry.

I create a fabulous system, implement it, and it lasts...........hours? days? perhaps even weeks? And then, it fizzles.

Important papers are lost again. Clutter abounds. And let's don't discuss the laundry.

But the holidays, I do love the holidays. 

And I've learned - keep it simple. Choose 1 or 2 special things that you will do every year. 

Create traditions.

January - we do half birthdays - one on the 4th, and one on the 26th. You can NEVER eat too much cake. And half-birthdays, well, those are the stress free birthday. No party to plan. No presents to buy. Just eat cake. That simple.

February - Valentine's day - For Valentine's day - it's the card. We either make you one with the old fashioned arts and crafts supplies, or create and print you a digital fun one. But - always a card, always a special handwritten note inside.

March - Sweet Daddy's birthday - ie Poster Making Time. You two have made daddy a poster for his birthday every year since you could hold a marker! 
April - Easter - we take a family photo. Most years it's the only family photo we take (unless we are posed with Mickey or a cute Lego Guy that is). 
Traditions give you something to look forward to. 

Start a tradition. Make it simple.

67. When you marry, you marry the whole family. Till death do you part.

The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works is the family.  ~Lee Iacocca

 We spent one morning of our trip exploring Fort Frederica. 

You were both fascinated with who lived in each of the homestead ruins. We stopped, we read the descriptions, we tried to imagine what life would be like.

We all found it humorous that in the days of Fort Frederica, the children played in the streets, the men hung out in the tavern, and the women - well, the list of things the women did was endless. 

We spent this day with Nana and Papa. 

One of the things I am most grateful for is how much Sweet Daddy enjoys your Nana and Papa's company. 

Some of your favorite relatives have joined our family from marriage. For example, you adore your Uncle Justin -official Easter egg hider on Easter Sunday. Bubbe loves how he knows everything about hunting and he can't wait to be big enough to go hunting with him. Pumpkin loves his sweet smile and how he's always willing to participate in her games.

For, when you marry, you marry the whole family.

Till death do you part. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

66. Be nice to your sister. You are her confident, cheerleader and body guard.

Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life.  ~Charles M. Schulz

This was one of my favorite adventures on our vacation/field trip - The Georgia Sea Turtle Center.

We began our journey by learning about the life of a sea turtle. Sea turtles come onto the beach to lay their eggs. They create 3 to 5 nests, and lay about 120 eggs. It takes the eggs 60 days to hatch.

Once the mother lays her eggs, she returns to the ocean. Leaving the eggs there to hatch on their own.

We were all fascinated by this fact - a mother, leaving her children behind, on their own.

We decided, well, at least they had each other. 


It reminded me that when Sweet Daddy and I are gone, a long, long, long time from now, you'll still have each other.

There's comfort in that for me. 

Comfort in your closeness.

Be kind to your sister big boy. You are her confident, cheerleader, and body guard.

65. We will always pick you up. Anytime. Anywhere. No matter what.

It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.  ~Roy Disney

I look at this picture of you, building castles in the sand, with such determination in your face, such joy in your heart.

While this week at the beach, we built our castles on the sand, I'm helping you build your life upon the Rock. 

Sweet Daddy and I are teaching you about God, and you are teaching us about faith. 

I have faith that you are God's child, not mine to posses. 

I know that in your walk with Him you will make mistakes. You will falter. You will sin. 

Do you know how I know that for sure?

Because in my walk with Him, I have made mistakes. I have faltered. I have sinned.

I want you to know that Sweet Daddy and I will always be here for you. Always.

If you make bad choices, if you falter, if you make mistakes. When you make mistakes.

We will be here for you.

And, we will always come and get you. Anytime. Anywhere. No matter what. 

Unless you are in jail. I will tell you now, should you make choices and mistakes that land you in jail, your father and I will leave you there. Long enough to learn your lesson. Because we love you. And because I know, from experience, that the very fact that we will not rush to come and get you - will keep you from many mistakes. Many.

I promise.

Then, we will come and get you.  



No matter what.

64. Shake hands and say thank you. Both are signs of respect.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.  ~John Buchan

I adore that second picture - dude, you look like you were meant to be a fisherman.

Born on a boat.

We laugh as Sweet Daddy always babies his stomach on boating days - just in case.

Not you. You eat a full breakfast, eat the entire time you are on the boat, and eat as soon as you get off. 

And never get sick.

You had a great time fishing with Billy Bee.

After you caught your shark, Billy Bee asked you if you wanted to kiss it goodbye for good luck.

And you did!

Crazy kid.

Sweet Daddy and I teach you that each time an adult invests in you, you are to say thank you and shake their hand.

Sunday school teachers. Baseball coaches. Friends moms who let you come over to play.

Through the years you are getting a lot of practice.

Saying thank you started out being really difficult for you. You didn't like approaching grown ups or speaking to people that you didn't know really well.

But you did it.

Okay, you did it because Sweet Daddy and I insisted - but that's how you've learned.

And now, we still prompt you from time to time - but you always thank you.

Even to Billy Bee - that let you kiss  a shark!

Especially to Billy Bee - that let you kiss  a shark! 

63. Be a good sport. Party poopers are no fun - for themselves or others.

Fishing is much more than fish.  It is the great occasion when we may return to the fine simplicity of our forefathers.  ~Herbert Hoover

When I printed pictures the other day for your Coastal Georgia project, you wanted me to get you a copy of this print.

I thought you wanted to use it on your backboard - as you did various other pictures of our trip.

When the time came to glue pictures down, I handed you this picture.

You said, "Not that one. I'm framing that one for my room."

Daddy's girl.

Yes you are.

You don't love fishing. 

In fact, I think you have a similar regard to fishing as you do for baseball - it's hot, it's long, and it's boring.

That day on the boat, you didn't complain one time. You never asked "how much longer?" or "when will it be over?" (as you have on many other trips). 

I was proud of you - for the good of everyone, you hung in there. You fished. You rode in the boat. You ate snacks. 

You were a good sport.

Always be a good sport. Party poopers are no fun - for themselves or others. 

62. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. I mean it.

Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.  ~Henry David Thoreau

Bubbe, I'm afraid that you got your father's fair skin. The sight of the sun, turns your cheeks pink and your ears red. 

Year round, I am constantly slathering your skin with sun screen.

And your skin is sensitive - not just any old store brand sun screen will do - it has to be a very special, hypo allergenic, made for babies only, sunscreen.

Actually seems to be a good metaphor for you in general.

You look all tough and big and grown these days.

But, really, your the sweetest, most tender, *almost* eight year old boy I know. 

So, while you may think you're getting all grown up, remember this about yourself - Wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

I mean it. 

61. You don't have to hate something just because everyone else likes it.

The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway.  ~Henry Boye 


We are quickly approaching your 10th birthday.


I'll confess. I'm struggling.

I swear you were just born yesterday. We just snuggled you in your "coming home from the hospital outfit" that was HUGE on you, buckled you into your car seat (safety freak Sweet Daddy, at least 3 times), and drove 10 miles UNDER the speed limit the full hour home from the hospital.

Yesterday. Wasn't it?

You know how I know we are quickly approaching your 10th birthday?

You have become snarky.

It's almost cute.

Most of the time.

Snarky - (defined by the urban dictionary) - sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

Yep. That's you.

But, not all the time.  

When you are not thinking about being *almost 10*, you're the same wonderful, amazing little girl. You hug your brother and give him the most darling kisses on his cheek. You crawl up in your daddy's lap and snuggle into him like there's no where else in the world you would want to be.  You giggle and chat with me about all the things you love lately: Taylor Swift songs, Hunger Games books, and American girl dolls. 

Just remember, as we all adventure into these tween years.

You don't have to love something just because everyone else does.

You don't have to hate something just because everyone in our family likes it either. 

60. When you are in their boat, car, home - Follow thier rules. If their rules don't mesh with our rules, speak up or get out.

The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.  ~G.K. Chesterton

As we boarded Billy Bee's boat, he went over the rules with us.

Rule # 1 - Stay in the boat.

Rule #2 - Always follow rule number one.

We all laughed.

However, it only takes one time for their to be a rule made.  

When you are in someone else's boat, car, or home - follow their rules. Be respectful of their boat, car, or home. 

If you find yourself in a boat, car or home where their rules don't mesh with our rules - then, speak up or get out.

For example, recently you and Bubbe found yourself in someone's home who allows their kids to play violent video games. Games that are not rated for kids. Games that we do not allow you or Bubbe to play (or even watch). 

When this happens, you have two choices.

You speak up - you tell your new friends that you're not allowed to play those games. Or even better, that those games are not appropriate for kids. It's not good to play violent video games.

Or, you get out. 

You walk away.

Sometimes one choice is easier than the other - sometimes both are hard. 

But, part of growing up and being allowed to be in other people's boats, cars and homes is learning to stand up for our values.

For your values. 

59. Really be where you are. No phones. No "boxes."

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

This is one of my most favorite pictures from vacation.

On this particular morning, your Nana took Bubbe for a walk around downtown Savannah so that you and I could tour the Juliette Gordon Low house. 

The last time I took that tour, I was in the 5th grade - just a few months older than you are now. 

I loved touring the house with you.

I loved how we both had the same favorite part - the library! Juliette was an avid reader and she had hoards of books. You saw several on the shelf that you had read (Little Women being the most exciting).

We had the best time.

We even got someone to take our picture together (proving that I was on vacation after all!).

As we toured the house, there was another mom and daughter in our group. I watched as the mother texted, typed, and scrolled through her phone throughout the whole tour.

Not only is that rude behavior (to both our tour guide and her daughter), but she missed it. She missed the look on her daughter's face when the tour guide told the funny story about how Juliette's mother came sliding down the spiral stair case one time to greet the man who would become her mother. 

Really be where you are.

Give people your undivided attention. You can update your facebook status (in ten years, when I let you have a facebook page), text your best friend (again see the note about ten years), or play angry birds AFTER an event is over. Not during.

No phones.

No boxes.

Really be where you are. 

58. If you want the answer, ask the question.

You can find inspiration from others but determination is solely your responsibility.  ~Dodinsky


This picture was taken as we began the adventure that would become your Science project, Coastal Georgia.

Our first stop was the visitor's center in Saint Simons. We had a list of the objectives we wanted you to learn about - foods, tides, birds, animals, sea turtles, moon, marsh and much, much more!

You were timid - you didn't want to approach the visitor's center employee and ask about some of the items we were looking for. 

When you finally did ask, the visitor's center employee was able to gather everything you needed - but the materials were not out for display. Had you not asked, we would have never gotten the yummy recipe for Brunswick Stew or the Low Country boil, would never have read about the knobbed welk, or knew why Saint Simons was called a barrier island. 

Questions are like keys that open the door to wisdom.

How will you learn if you don't ask? (yes, this is the phrase I'm constantly repeating to you!)

If you want the answer, ask the question. 

57. Nothing is out of reach. Nothing is out of the question.

Try not.  Do or do not.  There is no try.  ~Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back


This is you. All decked out in your new fishing shirt and your new fishing pants, and your well loved Red Soxs baseball cap.

Ready to go fishing. 

To say you were excited would be an understatement.

You love fishing.

You fish, just like everything else you do, with all your heart, soul, body and mind. 

That's one of the MANY things I adore about you - your enthusiasm for all things. 

You left out of the condo that day, with Daddy and Papa in tow, wanting to catch a shark. You had studied sharks in science. You had seen Soul Surfer. You knew about sharks. And you wanted to catch one. 

As with all things, we reminded you, it's not about catching a shark, it's about enjoying the day on the boat. Having a good time. Making memories.

I wonder sometimes if I should spend this time trying to lower your expectations of the day.  I want you to dream big, aim high. But the mommy in me wants to protect your heart, your spirit.

You caught a shark. Not just one shark, but several sharks. 

You reminded me that nothing is out of reach. Nothing is out of the question. 

Aim high. Dream big.

Friday, April 20, 2012

56. Stick together.

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet.  ~Vietnamese Proverb

Just this week, as we stopped for ice cream and McDonald's sweet teas on the way home from a field trip, some one approached me and asked "how old are the twins?"

Yes, even though you two are two full years apart - you do look like twins.

More importantly you act like twins.


 And I love it. 

Pumpkin was here two short years before Bubbe arrived - and lucky for her, she doesn't remember life before Bubbe.

You spend every moment you can playing together. You are constantly creating new games, new pretend worlds, and new adventures to do together. 

Yes, you argue. A  lot. 

And yes, there are days where the drama between you two is greater than any drama you could perform.

But, in the end, you always end up back together - playing, laughing, enjoying each other.

One of the beauties of homeschooling the two of you is the privilege of getting to nurture that bond between you. Neither of you have any outside ideas of who you should or shouldn't play with. You aren't influenced to only play with boys or girls, or kids in your grade, or any other such nonsense. 

I wish this for you always - always stick together.