Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Heart Like His (and some movies)

Well, I finished the next book club book, A Heart Like His by Virginia H. Pearce, but unfortunately the meeting is starting right now and I'm home with the girls because Mike had to work tonight. It was a quick read (only 100 pages) and was the first "church" book that we have had on the schedule. It was a good book....I didn't love it, but I didn't dislike it either, you know?

The premise of the book is that you can easily experiment to feel the Savior's love more in your own life by softening your heart and showing love towards others. You are not supposed to make any big changes in your typical daily routines, just try to make yourself more aware of the condition of your heart and keeping it open towards others. Some of my favorite examples of how to do this included not letting anyone sit alone at church and being there to listen to others. The author talks about how we tend to withhold comfort sometimes because we are afraid of committing ourselves to what may turn into a big obligation, when most of the time people just need someone to listen and show they are concerned without any large gesture of charity.

I think most of us have a tendency to want to talk - talk about ourselves, give advice, talk about our own experiences, etc. instead of just being a good listener. My manager at Gymboree is a really nice woman, but she always talks about herself and anytime I try to interject any tidbit into the conversation she totally cuts me off - not to be rude, but just because that is how she is used to communicating. It has made me much more aware of making sure I give others the chance to speak and asking people more questions about themselves.

The girls and I have made friends (all thanks to Addie!) at two of our most frequent stops: the gym and the library. Our favorite friend at the gym is a grandma who works folding towels at a counter we walk by on the way to the childcare center. Ella now looks forward to seeing Miss Janet each morning and we wait to say hi if she is away from the counter when we get there. This doesn't have anything to do with where I'm going on this, but recently Janet did the nicest thing for Ella and I have to share it....My sister Hope has been renovating her room to give it a more "mature" look and so Ella has been inheriting a lot of her old decor. One item was a pink jewelry box and Ella fell in love with this little butterfly ring that was still inside. She wanted to wear it to the gym which I didn't think was a good idea, but I let her and then I totally forgot about it when I picked her up. Well, the next day she went to the jewelry box to get another ring and I told her I didn't want her to lose it and then I suddenly remembered the butterfly ring which hadn't come back home with us. We went to the gym and when we left had them check their lost and found but it was gone. Ella was so sad - geniunely heartbroken. I felt awful because I was partly responsible for not remembering to see if she had it the day before and it was so sad to see her really upset. Most of the time when she cries she is being dramatic because she hasn't gotten her way, but this time she was trying NOT to cry. As we walked back by Miss Janet she said bye to Ella and Ella just burst into sobs. I quickly told Janet what happened and walked out carrying Ella in one arm and Addie in the other. We reassured Ella we would keep our eyes out for a new butterfly ring and she agreed is was a good idea not to wear rings into the gym anymore, so we were doing ok the next morning as we walked into the gym. Miss Janet was so excited to see us and said she had a surprise for Ella. She pulled out this necklace full of different rings and said she had looked for a butterfly one but hadn't been able to find one. I was so touched that she had gone out that same night and had been so thoughtful! She definitely had an open heart and probably could feel the Savior's love as she did this kind thing for Ella. Anyway, the reason I brought up Janet is because when I first started reading this book I realized I didn't know much about her other than that she was a grandma and I made it a point to ask her about herself more. I have found out that she truly is an amazing woman who has gone through many trials in her life. Most recently she had been raising her youngest grandchild since birth, who is autistic and now almost 3. His parents just decided they wanted him back and weren't even allowing her to see him so she had to go to court to get visitation and is able to see him every other weekend. I try to keep track of when she is going to get to see him so I can talk to her about it and give her the chance to share her excitement. I'm thankful that the book inspired me to slow down and take the time to talk to her a little each morning!

There are little quotes dispersed throughout the book and my favorite one was:
"Above our mantel is engraved: 'There isn't anyone you couldn't love Once you've heard their story.'" Mary Lou Kownacki
I have been working on being less easily irritated by people lately and this quote really hit home for me. We don't always know what people are going through and we should find the Christ-like love within ourselves to give them the benefit of the doubt because we would all hope they would do the same for us.

I guess I liked the book more than I originally stated, I didn't realize I had been thinking about it so much....so everyone should read it now :-)! You can do it in just a few hours.

Here are some videos from last night too:
I caught Addie on tape doing her "secret" walking:

Ella's latest dance move :-):

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Happy Helper

Ella loves to be my helper and show me that she is big enough to do pretty much everything I do too. A couple weeks ago when we walked down to bring the trash can in she told me she wanted to pull it. I was doubtful that she would be able to manage it alone, but she did, and has insisted on pulling it up the driveway ever since. Today as she was pulling I decided to capture this tiny little person pulling the trash can which is bigger than her (note: this is a recreation of the actual event).
I ran upstairs to grab the camera and came down to find Ella running in circles as fast as she could - she's stronger than she looks! Oh, and today was our first day of pigtails since I cut her hair and she was quite excited about it.
This one is from yesterday: A true Texan girl with her pink cowboy hat :-).

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Teething is Fun!

Addie has been looking like this a lot the past few days. I was hoping it was because she was teething, not a permanent change in her typically happy demeanor, and sure enough yesterday we could finally feel her top two teeth emerging. This is not only exciting because we know she will one day soon be happy again but also because she really could use more teeth! Now she will be the proud owner of 4....Go Addie, Go!
As a result of her discomfort Addie has wanted to be with me non-stop....and not just in my vicinity, but actually touching me. Yesterday afternoon after an unsuccessful nap attempt I ended up breaking out the Baby Bjorn for the first time in months so I could get some things done while she was with me. On the plus side she has been a little cuddly which is always a welcome change! Today after I took Ella to school we were playing in her room and she sat on my lap while we looked at books (she still won't let me "read" them to her, but she will look at 2 pages of one, then get another one to do the same, etc...it's progress).
Here are some more pictures from yesterday:

Ella kept getting wet while playing with the water from the pool and changed outfits 3 times. I then told her not to put on any more clothes until she was all done with the water, which is why she is shirtless in these pics.

Yep, still crawling :-). Addie will take steps when she doesn't know you're watching but sits down and crawls as soon as she catches your gaze.

Ella was getting jealous I was taking pictures of Addie so I told her to get dressed and I would take some of her too. Do you think she likes getting her picture taken?


Here are some funny things Ella has said recently:
* I was telling her all about the busy day we were going to have (she likes to know the order of events each morning) and she responded, "We don't have time to sleep today!" She wishes :-)!
* We sat down to eat dinner and I asked her if she liked it. "Yeah, it makes me go potty (as she gets up from the table) and my bottom itch (as she scratches her little bum and walks away)."
* Driving home from school today I told her "Johnny's mom is probably going to have her baby today! Isn't that exciting?" and in a very excited voice she said, "I can't wait to see her eyes!" (and by the way McKell did have her baby this morning I just heard)

Monday, February 25, 2008

When Church Starts at 2pm and 10,000 VIEWS!!!

(I reached 10,000 page loads today for my blog! I'm sure I made up half of those, but still, pretty cool!)
There are 4 wards (congregations) meeting in our church building right now and it is our turn in the rotation for the 2pm time slot. This leaves us a lot of time to kill in the morning and should guarantee that I will be ready on time for church, but I manage to be running late still anyway.
This Sunday to pass the time Ella recorded herself singing with Dad.
Then we all enjoyed the beautiful weather outside for awhile. I wanted to lay out and get some sun before it gets too hot (it is way too miserable to just be laying in the sun during the summer here - a pool is a must have!). With Brittany's wedding coming up I decided I better get to work looking a little more lively :-) and right now we are having perfect weather. Ella was playing and found her little pool from last year, and although I didn't really want to get everything out, I decided I couldn't miss the opportunity to show just how warm it was :-). It is cooling back down again, but it was a nice spring preview...and I actually have a faint tan line.
Some random pictures from the past couple days:
When I went to work Saturday Mike was playing with the girls in the backyard and they came across this little lizard. Ella told me about it when I got home, but I didn't know Mike had taken a picture of it until I uploaded pictures tonight - pretty good shot Mike!
And our pepper plant update...
On Saturday the first little sprouts popped up and only two days later...
Tons! Today is exactly 2 weeks since Ella and I planted the seeds and look how it is thriving :-)! I'm thinking this year I'll just have a few plants in the kitchen window since it gets such great sun and next year I'll try and brave the outdoors again. I have not had a great time with plants in Houston so far...they have all been attacked by fungus or eaten by birds, so I'm hesitant to spend money on a garden again.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday Fun Day

I thought this picture turned out sooo cute :-)!
Today Ella's friend Johnny (and my friend McKell) came over to play. Johnny is going to be a big brother on Tuesday, unless little Olivia decides to come over the weekend, so it was one last hurrah before the big day! So exciting!
Here are some other random shots:
Last night I woke up at 3:30am to the sounds of Ella playing in her bedroom. I went in to find she had turned on the little light next to her bed, put together 2 puzzles and was reading books. I told her it was the middle of the night and she needed to go back to sleep. She often wakes up when Mike leaves (around 6:30am) and plays in her room until I come to get her and since it is dark at that time of morning I think she was confused about what time it actually was. Well, this morning at 8:10am this is what she still looked like - she must have partied too hard last night - she is ALWAYS up by 7:30am!
Yesterday Ella got this cute lollipop at Joy School. I told her she could eat it after her nap, but since she didn't take one she had to wait until after dinner. Well, as she started eating it last night Addie was looking so longingly at it that I felt bad and let her have an extra Valentine's one. She LOVED it and got very mad when I took it away before it became a choking hazard.
This is just an extra picture from last night that I thought was really cute :-).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Guilt to Gratitude

I think as mothers it is easy for us to feel guilty about everything pertaining to our kids - I know it is for me at least. I don't remember feeling that way so much when I had only Ella, although I'm sure I did, but as soon as I was pregnant with Addie I definitely remember feeling guilty...guilty that I wouldn't be able to spend the time with Ella that she was used to (and deserved in my opinion) and guilty that Addie would never get to experience that attention. It seemed unfair to everyone involved.
Although most of the time I feel fine about how things are going with the girls, I definitely have moments where I break down because I feel like I cannot be what I wish I could be to everyone. Life gets crazy, as we all know, and I can begin to feel like nothing I'm doing is quite enough. I'm not being as patient with Ella as I should and the house isn't as clean as I would like it and poor Addie gets shuffled around from one activity to another and I'm behind on laundry, my book, finishing Addie's baby book and I haven't even had time to watch the shows on the DVR that I want to :-). Most of all though, I feel guilty for not spending the one-on-one time with Ella and Addie that I want to and think they are entitled to. I had one of these moments last week and Mike reassured me that the girls just love to be with me, even if they are just playing in our room as I fold clothes. It did make me feel better (what a man :-)!) and hopefully that is true!
Anyway, tonight as I watched the girls playing together and laughing together I really felt completely at peace about everything. I suppose in the end there is always something else we wish we could do or that we think we could do better, but we seem to turn out just fine all the same. The only way I would really have been able to maintain the time I spent with Ella would have been to not have any more children and I believe that would have been more of a disservice in the grand scheme of things.
I am the oldest of 5 children and I don't remember feeling like my parents didn't have enough time for me ever in my life (even after having them all to myself in the beginning), but I do remember having lots of fun with my siblings growing up. We built tree forts in the back yard and held our own Olympics in the basement (we used a picnic table bench for our balance beam and a stool for a vault and even used baby powder on our hands to seem like hard core gymnasts). And yes, we fought too, but I can't imagine how boring my days would have been had I been all alone.
(of course if you are an only child reading this, I'm sure there are also many benefits, but that wouldn't help my cause right now :-)
So, in conclusion I am very grateful that my girls have each other, especially now that they are reaching ages where they can interact with one another. It really does make my life easier. Take tonight...Addie saved me by laughing over and over again at Ella, because in my boring adult way I can only pretend that Ella's crazy nonsense talking is funny for so long, but Addie genuinely thinks it is hysterical. I'll just have to re-read this the next time I am having guilt-filled moment to remind me that I really should be grateful instead!

Library Fun

Tuesday Ella's Joy School group went to take a tour of the Cinco Ranch library. Here are some of the highlights...
The girls got to see where the books go after they drop them in the return slot.
Ella was most excited to see the puppet room. We used to go to the toddler storytime at this library, so to see the behind-the-scenes room was pretty cool!
Annie and Ella reading together after the tour.
We spent some time hanging out in the library (Addie wanted to pick some too!) and then checked out our books and had a little picnic lunch at the park.
That afternoon Ella had dance (Tuesdays are her favorite day of the week...school AND dance!) and Addie found a really cute baby to kiss in the mirror :-).
Yesterday was Ella's preschool storytime at the Maud Marks Library.
The theme of the day was brushing your teeth so the kids got little toothbrushes and then colored pictures depicting ways to keep your teeth healthy. Ella told me later that she was going to brush her teeth so her teeth don't fall out.
Addie was getting a little bored by the end and emptied my mom's business cards from my purse and started coloring those...way more exciting than a piece of paper!

Addie and I were back at the library today for infant storytime. We LOVE our local libraries! Hopefully someday Addie will decide she wants to start walking and then we can start going to the toddler time - it's my personal favorite :-).

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mark Miner's Campaign Speech

Here is my little brother Mack's speech to kick off his campaign (if you'll remember he is running for St. John's County Commisioner in FL) and you can always check out his website on my sidebar too. Vote for Mack :-)!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tribute to Michelle

So, you may be wondering who the heck Michelle is...she is one of my aerobic instructors at the gym :-). I typically go to the 8:30am classes to get my workout over with and 2 of the classes I like are taught by Michelle. I don't know much about her other than she has 3 boys, she turns 38 on Monday (found that out today) and she kills me every class! She is a teeny little jumping machine that has more energy than even Ella. Her Monday class is called Total Conditioning and is a combination of weights and cardio for 70 minutes. It took me months to get up the courage to attend the class (it is the only class listed as a level 3 on the schedule) and the first time I did I totally thought I was going to pass out and left early. I did like the fact that it reminded me of my high school volleyball workouts with all plyometrics involved but waited a few weeks before trying it again. Well, I've gone quite a bit over the past few months and right now I feel like I am in pretty darn good shape, but when I went to her class this morning for the first time in a couple weeks I still got dizzy a couple times! What the heck?! She manages to kill me and deplete me of all energy STILL! She thinks of ways to add jumps in every exercise we do...push-ups with jumping, squats with jumping, jumping on the step, jumping over the step, jumping lunges...and let me tell you, jumping is hard work! I love that she pushes me though and drives me to keep going when I would definitely quit if I was on my own. So, here's to you Michelle for almost killing me every week, but doing it in a way that makes me come back for more!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunglasses

Addie just recently started keeping her sunglasses on (just in time for summer!) and I have been taking lots of pictures since she looks so cute :-). Ella, who is a sunglasses addict, always makes sure Addie has a pair on now when we get in the car. (and yes, this is the most exciting thing that has happened in the last couple days!)


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pepper Plant Day 1...and some GREAT news!

Well, it's actually been almost a week since I took these pictures, but they were taken on Day 1. When I was in the checkout line at the grocery store recently I saw these little kits. Since it was the same price as the one red pepper I was buying I thought we'd give it a try. Hopefully we'll get some red ones! (We've had bad luck growing veggies in Houston thus far so we'll see)


And onto the GREAT news...Ella is officially done potty training! Nearly 1 year after she has been wearing panties with no accidents she would still not poop on the potty. It was especially frustrating because every now and then she would go a couple times in a row (and we we would think she had it down), only to decide she didn't want to do it anymore. It was a total control thing I think because she was definitely capable of doing it. We tried rewards, not talking about it, talking about it, making her keep her dirty diaper on for a little while, putting marbles in her jar, taking them out, anything we could think of and nothing was working. Well, this week Ella FINALLY decided it was time - hallelujah! I read in Parents magazine to have them at least go into the bathroom to do it and she started doing that so I think it at least helped. It is very exciting for Mike and I :-)! After she started going she told me, "I am so proud of myself!" We are proud of her too!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine Dates

Today Mike took the day off work and my mom came to watch the girls so we could go out on an actual date - wooo hooo! We went golfing (can you guess which one of us had the idea?) and it was really a lot of fun. I am terrible of course, but actually had a couple good swings today which was encouraging.
Mike on the other hand is really getting quite good...This picture is from the first of his birdies. I was just ecstatic to finish one hole with 6 strokes :-)!

Yesterday Mike surprised us with a trip to the restaurant On The Border. When I was in high school it was my favorite place - first in Dallas and then in Chicago. They recently opened a couple in the Houston area that I didn't know about so it was a great treat. After we were seated at our table we were forgotten for awhile - No drinks, no chips and salsa, no hello for 10 minutes. When the staff realized we were still waiting they were very apologetic and brought us free queso - delicious! I told Mike I would happily wait 10 minutes for free queso any day :-)!

This fountain was outside the restaurant. It was SUPER windy - it felt like we were at the ocean - kind of fun for a change (especially with the girls' balloons)!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!! I hope everyone has a wonderful day full of lots of love and chocolate :-)!
Here is Ella enjoying a few bites of her chocolate CareBear (from Dad) after breakfast - what a treat!
And all ready to head out for school in her new Valentine's sunglasses.
After dropping Ella off, Addie and I headed over to her infant storytime at the library. After some songs, stories and playing the babies exchanged Valentines. Addie was sooo excited about it - just kidding! - she had no idea what was going on :-).
She did enjoy pulling all the little cards and goodies out of her bag and then putting them back in again though.