Thursday, May 21, 2015

Through the iPhone (March 2015 Edition)

Welcome to my every day life in March! Phone pictures are my favorite because they capture the moments that I stumble upon each day when I don't usually have my big camera at hand. 
Avonlea adores her stuffed animals and I am forever finding them set-up in various vignettes, often in makeshift beds. This one involved tissues and a little pillow.

For Avonlea's birthday breakfast she requested pork roll and pancakes and I made it extra special with whipped cream and sprinkles. (She and Lucy are huge whipped cream fans.)

My own little napping Rainbow Dash.

My parents got the girls Rutgers hoodies for their birthdays (and again Lu lucked out and got what the big girls got). Lucy requests to wear it by saying "I wear PopPop" because she refers to anything with a Rutgers "R" on it as PopPop.

Another day, another nap in the Rainbow Dash sweatshirt

We had a lot of snow days this winter which meant a lot of tea parties. Our tea parties consist of things like milk and sugar cubes (although Avvie and Lucy, particularly Lucy, love real tea), Nilla wafers, some little candies and fruit. They got new tea sets when we were in California from Donna's friend Dave and they were happily using them in this picture.

This was the first time I tried to french braid Lucy's hair. It stays in surprisingly well (thanks to hairspray sometimes) and now I can do two braids using all of her hair. It looks so cute but I can't believe she has enough hair for french braids!
I was watching Luke one evening (Jessie's birthday maybe?) and the girls were fighting over who would sit next to him so I put him opposite them. He is much adored!

Maddie and her friend H had a birthday party to attend at an arcade on the Asbury Park boardwalk. It was kind of crazy seeing snow all the way to the ocean!

Game time with my Maddie! (This is My Little Pony chutes and ladders, a special birthday gift from the Shonkas.)

Avonlea has become a huge fan of edamame.

Lucy had me cut out a paper heart which she colored and said was for PopPop. She insisted on taking it with her for her nap (while wearing Maddie's Elsa dress) and it ripped. When she saw that when she awoke she sobbed saying "Mine heart is broken." It was quite sad. (We made a new heart but I'm not sure it ever made it to PopPop.)
Maddie started taking piano lessons with the mom of one of Beth's high school friends. She is such a nice woman and Maddie LOVES the lessons. She's making great progress! She's currently working on a simple version of Let it Go thanks to a songbook given to her by my cousin Mary.
Precious Erik

And precious Luke

The poster above was in the hallway of Avonlea's church nursery school. It was from the Sunday School bulletin board. Avonlea loved this poster and would always mention it and liking how it showed Jesus holding the earth. She thought it was so great she asked me to take a picture to show Andy.

Maddie's Daisy troop sold Girl Scout cookies at the bank thanks to my friend Jenny who works there and made the arrangements. The girls had a great time and sold almost 100 boxes! The bank employees were very gracious about the giggly and fidgety first graders who were smack in the middle of the bank.

We took Maddie to get a new bike since she started to ride on two wheels and her old bike was too small. (She is finally a confident two-wheeled rider!) We decided to get the other girls also fitted for new helmets since Avvie got Maddie's old bike (and starting to ride two-wheels, yay!) and Lu is on her trike a lot. It was quite an undertaking since Lucy has such a large head and Avvie wanted a red helmet which was hard to find in a "girl" helmet. But, we finally found a big helmet that met with Lucy's approval (unicorns! pink!) and Avvie was quite happy with getting a red "boy" helmet. Lucy was so smitten with hers that she insisted on wearing it for her nap (I did un-clip the straps).

Kissing cousins

Avonlea picked out her own outfit to go outside and play. Then we remembered it was free cone day at DQ so of course we had to go.
After our free cones it was back to home to enjoy one of our first warm (and muddy) spring days. Ruddy cheeks and muddy knees!

St. Patrick's Day always calls for starting the day with green pancakes!

Here's Avvie on her bike while the training wheels were still on it. They've since come off and she's making wobbly progress.

We had a rough week when everyone seemed to get injured. I got a call from the school nurse one afternoon to let me know that Maddie would b coming home with a swollen cheek and black eye. In gym class she and another classmate bumped into each other and apparently Maddie's face hit his head. She went to the nurse for a bit but it was the end of the day so she had to go back to her class to get her stuff for the bus. When she got off the bus I could see she was doing her best to hold it together but the second she stepped off and saw me she melted into tears. It broke my heart to think of her holding it all in but it also was the best feeling to scoop her up, take her inside and make her comfortable. I tucked her in her bed with an ice pack and an Oreo. It reminds me of another round of tears we had a week or so later. She got off the bus and again teared up when she made eye contact with me. A piece of pottery she had worked on for months in art class (shaping, glazing, etc.) had finally been finished and she dropped it while getting on the bus to come home. It broke into several pieces which she gathered up and clutched all the way home. Again my heart broke to see her cry and hear her say, "Mommy, I just wanted you to see how beautiful it was." I grabbed my Krazy Glue and started gluing. I figured if all the pieces weren't there I could go back to the school parking lot and try to find the rest. Well, I truly was thanking God when every piece was there! It was one of those small mercies He granted just when I needed it. Maddie was giddy with relief and so excited to marvel over it, cracks and all.
The morning after Maddie's black eye I was taking a brief shower when Lucy wandered in with a mouth full of blood. She smiled at me and it was all over her lips and pooled in her mouth. I was of course freaked out and jumped out of the shower to check her out. The most I could get out of her was that she fell and bumped her knees and mouth. She was not upset at all (even though it looks like she was crying in the picture above). She was actually laughing! I cleaned her up and I'm still wondering exactly what happened.

Pictures don't really capture how bruised and swollen her face was. Everyone was asking what happened when they saw her.

My parents graciously took Lucy one night so we could take the older girls out for dinner and a movie. Chick-fil-A, frozen yogurt and Cinderella was so much fun! (I'd rather have had real ice cream but there was a frozen yogurt place right by the movies. Give me full fat dairy any day of the week!)
Reclining seats, blankets and popcorn makes for a perfect movie experience. Plus, there was a Frozen short before the movie and we all enjoyed Cinderella (Andy included).

Above is me feeling a million pounds lighter after having several inches chopped off my hair and below is me with my very big baby. If you're old enough to wear jeans and a belt you're probably too old to want to be carried around like this! (But I'm happy to do it.)

Shiner faded from blue to purple to green to yellow.
Lucy looks awfully cute in her polka dot raincoat.

Monday, May 18, 2015

March 2015 (From the Big Camera)

March means another birthday in our house--Avonlea! So pictures from this month are, much like February, mostly birthday pictures. As you saw in the last post, we celebrated Maddie's birthday as a family and with a small friend party. The girls both wanted a bigger family party. I love having our family over but was already feeling a little partied out. But, I didn't want to disappoint so I agreed. Since we had so much going on as a treat I ordered some food for the family party. Well, we had our last big snowstorm of the season the day of the party and it was impossible for the Shumans to get to us safely! The locals made it over though and we had so much food left over that when the roads were cleared the next day we had party take two and the Shumans made the trip down! Even before I knew that we'd end up having two family parties I had asked Avonlea if we could have her friend party at the end of the month. I knew as a family we'd be getting overwhelmed at that point. Fortunately she agreed and I was so glad. It spread out the fun (and gave us a chance to detox from all the cake and buttercream icing before having more!). Well, let's get to the pictures!
The snowstorm made for a very cozy party. The girls were all in pjs or other loungewear, the fire was roaring and Lulu was already exhausted from Maddie's various festivities so a nap in Daddy's arms was pretty much perfect.

DQ Blizzard Cake! (Real blizzards are way better.)

And here is party take two. It fell on Avonlea's actual birthday and she asked for pesto (instead of the delicious leftovers). My mom had some already made for our little foodie.

Half-eaten cake and more loungewear--this celebration was all about comfort which pretty much sums up Avonlea.

Maddie loves to hold Erik but he was not so into it. That sad face!

Wrestling with Uncle Tim

Here are some pictures of Lucy for a little break from birthday pictures. She feels pretty special when she gets to put on Maddie's Elsa dress.

The picture below was after Lucy was sent to her room for naughty behavior. After some angry tears she settled in for a snooze on her little chair.

Okay, back to birthday pictures! (Doing these posts is making me realize that next year I need to stand firm about limiting the amount of celebrations. This is a bit ridiculous!) For Avvie's friend party she had two friends she wanted to celebrate with (and one of them has an older sister that Maddie is close with so we invited her, too). We took the girls to Jenkinson's Aquarium and then for pizza. I loved that this party was out of the house. I love a party at home but by this point I had cleaned in preparation for a party and cleaned up after a party so many times that I just wanted the mess somewhere else! I made a fish cake, packed up all the napkins, plates, favors, etc. and off we went!
The girls were very sweet and enjoyed the aquarium.

Pizza! They were a funny little group, excitedly chattering over pizza. Lulu, as usual, loved getting to be with the big girls.

That blue icing was intense!

Birthdays weren't the only special part of the month, it was also the Mommy and Me Tea at school. I love getting individual time with Avonlea. For some reason, I seem to get less one on one time with her than her sisters. Part of it is that she's the most independent and doesn't demand it as much from me. And part of it I think comes with territory of being in the middle. She doesn't seem to mind, but I treasure the time I have with just her.
There was a little fashion show and Avvie was adorable!

She sang her heart out!

Boy do I love our Avster. She is such a funny and confident kid. Often when I drop her off at school the other kids will come running up and start asking "Avvie, play with me!" "No, I want her to play with me!" She's kind of a queen bee, but she's a nice queen bee! I don't know if I'd say that she's a leader per se, but she's definitely not a follower. Her peers seem to be drawn to her mix of confidence and nonchalance. I enjoy observing her because I was much less confident and self-assured with my peers at that age. Avonlea is quite feisty and we definitely have our moments when we butt heads. She can be very stubborn and makes her displeasure known. But, she can also be the sweetest and most earnest little girl. I LOVE her stories. She shares funny details and when she feels like talking, no one can stop her. She will keep raising her voice over everyone else until you just have to listen. If you've talked to Avvie for more than a minute she's probably said to you "Know what?" and then launched into a story or started sharing facts. She's recently been to Allaire Village with my mom and Jessie and on a field trip to the Squan Historical Society and she remembers so many facts that she will share with me at unexpected times. After being resolutely against learning her alphabet and starting to work on reading, she suddenly is more interested. She can identify all her letters and likes to practice writing them. She is often identifying sounds and shows reading readiness (although I think it's going to be awhile until that happens since she still had no interest in working with me on it). I'm trying to soak up my time with her because in the fall she starts full-day kindergarten which I could cry about just typing it. I'm really going to miss her! But, I'll save those tears for the fall. For now, I'm just grateful to God for my delightful five-year old! When we pray at night she is so earnest. She has a list of people she never forgets--in particular the little girl we sponsor in Kenya and some friends and family that she has on her heart that she hopes will come to love God. I am grateful to see these little glimmers of faith and pray that our sweet Avvie girl always knows Jesus!