10 years ago

Having barely slept, I woke up early and double checked my bags. My best friends held up a sheet, so I could sneak behind it to my car without any risk of my fiance seeing me. (He was staying in the other half of the duplex, the side that would be ours.) We drove to the church. I curled my hair, applied my makeup, and pulled on hose and a garter. I carefully donned my white gown and shoes. I checked for my something borrowed (sapphire earrings), something blue (garter), something old (antique cameo pinned on my keepsake garter), something new (tiara), and made sure the sixpence was in my shoe. My bridesmaids, my Mom, and a few friends and family prayed with me. I pinned in my tiara and adjusted my veil. I picked up my bouquet, with my Mother’s bridal Bible as the base, and looked in the mirror. Then, on the arm of my Father, with a smile on my face and a gleam in my eye, I walked down the aisle

and married my Beloved!

I scanned in a bunch of our wedding photos today, and I’m going to stroll down memory lane. This blog is meant to focus on the lovely things in life, and marriage is way up on that list in my book! I realize there is a distinction between wedding and marriage, but consider this my way of celebrating both.

Before the ceremony. Isn’t he handsome? And so happy. Makes my heart smile. I don’t feel like I’ve changed all that much. (This isn’t to say that I look young – in college I regularly got cast as the mother of other students who are older than I am!) But this man…well, whether or not he’s grown up, his beard sure has!

We were just 20, in college and broke. We did most of the wedding ourselves and with help from family and friends. I made my own bouquet, did my own hair, makeup and nails. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can do a wedding on a small budget. Looking back, there are very few things I’d change, even if I had more money.

I am blessed to have a wonderful Daddy. The two of us are pretty close. I loved that he was so happy for me.

We did individual pics before the ceremony. Any of us together were taken after. I’m traditional in that way, and my favorite moment of any wedding is the look on the groom’s face when he first sees his bride. I still remember my Beloved’s vividly! One of my favorite moments in my life.

 “You may now kiss your bride!”

Exiting as husband and wife! We could barely contain our joy!

With our wedding party. I’m still friends with all of my bridesmaids. They are such a wonderful part of my life, and I am so thankful! 3 of the groomsmen are my brothers-in-law, and I’ve so enjoyed getting to know them better over the last decade. They’re all 10+ years older than my husband, so we were in for a lot of good-natured teasing. It’s how I knew they loved and accepted me into the family.

We had a lot of family and close friends who supported us, then and now.

The reception was fun, too. A friend of my husband’s made the cake. We obeyed tradition and kept the top tier in the freezer to eat a year later. It was still so good on our first anniversary that we ate the whole thing! (A slice each day for a week – not all in one sitting!)

When my parents were married, they had personalized toasting glasses. This lovely woman in Wichita, KS handpaints them with the bridal bouquet. I was thrilled to find out that she was still available. She did a beautiful job, and these are one of the things that I’ve packed most carefully when we have moved. Notice that we have sparkling cider. We weren’t yet 21 after all! And that halo effect going on behind our heads is just some weird decoration on the wall of the reception site.  I look like some kind of sharp, pointy angel in most of our cake pictures. We still laugh about it.

The rings, which my husband designed himself and had custom-made. Yeah, he’s that kind of guy. Didn’t I say that I’m blessed?

It was a GREAT day, and the beginning of a really beautiful thing. From this:

 

to this:

We’ve come a long way in 10 years, Beloved! I’m so happy to be your wife, and I’m so thankful for our children. I’m praying that we have many, many more lovely years together.

 

And a special Congratulations to my husband’s grandparents. This weekend, they celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. The actual date was a couple of weeks ago, but the family is gathering this weekend. We can’t be there, which makes me so very sad! I missed their 60th celebration because I was in the final stages of planning our wedding. 70 years of marriage! Isn’t that incredible! Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for being such a wonderful example for all of our family.

More Brotherly Love

I posted some sweetness last week with Bunny and Monkey, so I thought I’d share some photos of Cricket with him. It’s been such a joy watching her blossom in her big sister role. When Bunny was born, she just wasn’t all that interested. Babies don’t do much, so she just went along doing her own thing and mostly ignoring the new little creature in her house. She loved her sister, but wanting  to hold her or play with her just didn’t enter Cricket’s two-year-old mind. Now, at five, she appreciates having a baby sibling a bit more. After all, he doesn’t take her toys (much), doesn’t pick fights with her, and generally thinks she’s pretty amazing. She’s very patient when he pulls her hair,

and at least 4 or 5 times a day, I’ll catch her rubbing his head and saying “You’re so CUTE!”

Sorry for the toes in the bottom of the picture! Sort of detracts from all the cuteness.

Of course, nobody gets to play with the baby by herself for long. Especially not if Mama is taking pictures!

It’s not easy holding a baby brother who’s more than half your size!

But sometimes he’s content to snuggle.

No doubt this boy is loved!

Haircuts!

It’s haircut time at our house!

Cricket has very long hair, and it grows super fast. I wish mine grew as quickly as hers! She loves it long, but there is a point at which it is hard to take care of properly. Once she can almost sit on it, it needs a trim. Sorry for the lousy before shots. I forgot to get them until she was already up in the chair, and no way was I going to get her back down and start that whole thing again once I had her excited about the idea. She did a pretty good job holding still while I cut it!

After. I just trimmed the ends. I took off several inches, since I probably won’t get back to this for several weeks.

Years ago, Cricket was in the hospital on a ventilator. When they took off the vent tape from around her head, they were patiently removing it from her hair with alcohol. Meanwhile, she was coming out of sedation and starting to resist the vent. I told them thank you, because I appreciated that they were trying to save her beautiful hair, but I really wanted them to just chop it off and get her off of that machine! After some reassurance that I really would be okay if they did it, out came the scissors. I saw them cut it, so I know they were not trying to style it at all, but the angle that it made when they were done was super cute! It created perfect soft layers around her face. I’ve always just kept the same general idea as it’s gotten longer and longer.

Bunny’s turn. Hers doesn’t grow anywhere near as quickly as Cricket’s, but it had gotten fairly long.

This what it looks like when Bunny starts banging her backside against the door! Oops! Never a dull moment around here.

This is what it looks like when she then tells me the very exciting story of how she fell through the door.

I decided to hack it off do a shorter bob for Bunny. I generally prefer long hair, but I have to admit, I love it on her. It highlights her expressive little face! These are not the best pics of the haircut. I’ll try to get some once it shakes out a bit and looks better instead of this still-damp look. It is not nearly as crooked as this appears; she kept raising one shoulder in anticipation of the flash. Kind of like when I was cutting it, and she was all over the place. Between her case of wiggles and Mr. Monkey doing gymnastics while tied to my back, it’s kind of amazing that I didn’t lop off an ear!

I swear that this girl has a range of facial expressions to rival Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace. I’ll never be able to capture half of her faces with a camera.

Well, not sure Cary Grant ever made that one!

Okay, a day or two later, I got this one. it’s an awful shot of her face, but it shows the hair cut quite a bit better.

Not to be left out, Monkey wanted to show off his temporary new hairstyle: the after-bath fauxhawk

Brotherly Love

Bunny and Monkey have had a special bond since before he was born. Her voice was the thing most likely to cause him to kick and wiggle. His first laugh was for her. Within days of bringing him home from the hospital, she was telling me “He’s my boy!” She is still likely to pray “Thank you for letting Mama bring him home from the hospital!” She spends a good part of her day narrating her activities for him and telling him all of the fun things he’ll be able to do when he is big like she is.

One morning last week, she was barely out of bed before she was begging to hold him. He’s pretty mobile now, and more than half her size, so it’s not easy! But he loves her and will stay still for her snuggles for a little while.

Of course Cricket wanted to join them, and she thought that Monkey needed some toys.

He was much more interested in playing with them. Got your nose!

My sisters love me!

I can just see him thinking. “Little do they know…one day I will tease them mercilessly. I will embarrass them completely. I will refuse to watch their girly movies, and I will insist on light saber duels instead of tea parties!”

After all, what are brothers for?

Apple print Father’s Day cards

ETA: I like to give credit where credit is due. Since we made these last year, I didn’t remember finding them anywhere specific. We did apple prints as a part of another school activity, so I thought this might have just come out of that idea. But I recently saw this page, and I think it must have been my inspiration for this idea. (Scroll down a bit for this particular card.) I apologize for not linking it sooner!

http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/mengifts.html

 

I’m always on the lookout for holiday card, decoration, and gift ideas that my littles can enjoy making. The girls and I made this last year, and I thought I’d pass the idea along. We had a blast making it, and their Papa really appreciated the effort that they put into it. It’s my idea, but may have been influenced by others, and I’m not one to think I am so terribly original that no one else could have come up with the same thing. Use it freely!

We started with apple printing. I will hardly eat a Red Delicious apple any more, because I find them terribly flavorless , but they are inexpensive and a beautiful shape for this! Any apple with a characteristic cross-section will work just fine. I just spread a little puddle of red tempera paint on a paper plate, laid out a big sheet of craft paper, and let the girls stamp away. I let them do several, knowing that some would be better than others. When they were dry, we picked the print we liked the best, added leaves and seeds with markers, and cut it out to paste on the front. My little Cricket could write words, but in order to help her with spacing, I printed out the phrases using the tools here: http://www.handwritingworksheets.com/ I use this tool all the time! It is great for practicing things like name and address that need to be personalized. We use them for days of the week, months of the year and any letters that need a little more practice. In this case, I printed out the sentiment that I wanted for the card, Cricket traced them with a colored pencil, and we cut and pasted them into the right places. Letter stickers helped to highlight the key words.

For the inside, I helped each girl make a caterpillar out of their fingerprints. (I find the index finger easier for them to manipulate than the thumb.) I used a thin layer of tempera paint for this, too. When they were dry, the girls added details like legs, antennae and faces with a marker. They signed their pictures and the card, but I edited them to show their blog names instead.

I hope this helps you think of some other ideas for helping your little ones to express their love and appreciation for their Father! What other themes do you think would be nice for a Father’s Day card?

A growing Mr. Monkey

All of my good intentions to post regularly have disappeared in my daily task of keeping Mr. Monkey out of trouble, so I’m playing catch up when I can. He started crawling about a month ago, and is now adept at sitting up, crawling, and even learning to pull up on things! He’s tall, so that means that every level surface in the main room – fireplace, coffee table, couches, etc. are now accessible to him. Yowzers! I know I’ve done this twice before and all, but this whole becoming a toddler stage still kicks my rear. He’s actually my latest to do these things. Both girls were cruising by 7 months! But this time, I’ve got a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old with lots of toys that a baby shouldn’t have. Makes for an active day for me!

Here’s some pics. I have a couple at the beginning of this sequence, but I don’t really want to post them, because the background has Bunny in a somewhat rare moment of pantslessness, and it’s just not fair to put that on the internet forever, even if she’s only 3 now!

His ultimate destination with all of this crawling: MAMA!

A better picture of his two teeth:

Can I admit that I am thrilled that he still has blue eyes? They are dark blue, but definitely blue. Most of my family has quite dark hair and dark eyes. Mine are hazely-green-brown, and I like them just fine, but I always thought it would be nice to have a blue-eyed child. I just assumed with our coloring that it was highly unlikely. Bunny’s were blue to about 6 months, but re a rich, dark brown now. I hope Mr. Monkey’s stay this color! His hair is lovely, too. It’s actually quite golden, but it’s hard for that to show up in pictures. I assume it will darken with time, since nearly everyone in my family and my husband’s family who has had lighter hair as a baby has seen it darken considerably over the years. It’s so fun to watch children grow and change!

Things I want to remember…

The funny little ways Bunny says things. Cricket was always extremely careful with her enunciation, to the point that it was strange. She spoke exceedingly clearly and was almost always precisely correct from a very young age. If she said it incorrectly, and we repeated it the right way, that was it. She had very few of the fun little mispronunciations that are cute for the short while that they exist. Bunny has them, and they make me smile, partly because she says them with such enthusiasm. They go away quickly. She has very few that she says regularly any more, and that is as it should be. But for posterity’s sake, here are a few of my favorites:

Helipopter

Cupcape

Balella (Umbrella)

Strawbuhberry

Stock Show part 2

Pony rides again, of course! This time with Grammie!

Pony ride with Grammie

I’m quite sure this is not the shot that anyone intended to get, but I absolutely love it!

A return to the carousel. They each wanted to try out different animals.

Another of my favorites from this day. I like the composition and love the colors!

Speaking of colors, check these out!

I’ve tried for the last year to get the girls on a kids’ roller coaster at every opportunity. Granted, that’s not many! I just knew they would love it, but Bunny was too small and Cricket would get right up to the front of the line, then get scared and bail. This time, without me saying a word, they both wanted to ride the dragon. The first time we were there, we didn’t have enough adults available to ride with them. On our second trip, my brother-in-law went with Cricket. It took her a bit of time to warm up to the ride, but she really did like it. I’m sure you can see from Bunny’s face how she felt about it! I could not stop laughing. Every time it dropped or sped up, she would scream with delight, then giggle until she was out of breath, then repeat it all the next time! I’m looking forward to the State Fair this fall to do it again!

 

 

Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo

I am a proud native of Fort Worth, Texas, and one of my favorite events of every year is the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo! I’ve never actually been to the rodeo, but it is most definitely on my bucket list. Growing up, we used to get a day off of school and free tickets to the Stock Show, and we went every year.  There are different breeds of cows, horses, donkeys, mules, goats, sheep, pigs, pigeons, chickens, rabbits, and llamas. Amazing food, a midway, shows and competitions, and tons of vendor booths.
 

It is so fun to be able to share this fabulous event with my children. We make it a big family affair – my sister’s family and my parents come, too! It makes it easier to wrangle the kids, especially now that ours outnumber their parents, and everyone enjoys spending time together.

The girls had to sit on one of the tractors. We took a picture for my husband’s grandfather, who farmed for years until his retirement a few years ago. John Deere, of course.

Girls on Tractor

There’s a photo booth with a big bull. They dress the kids up in chaps and hats, and they get to take a picture like a bull rider. We tried to get my little 21-month-old niece up there, but she wasn’t having any of it.

 
 We stopped by the Borden milk booth to pet Elsie and Beauregard. Beau and Mr. Monkey were both in the midst of peaceful baby sleep.
Elsie
 
 
 
Of course, the Stock Show wouldn’t be the Stock show without a pony ride! Bunny kept saying “I just LOVE riding these things!!” See her huge grin? Cricket was a bit more mellow, but that’s mostly because she felt like such a big girl to go all by herself without anyone walking with her. She was taking it very seriously and concentrating on being careful.
 
Pony Ride

 
I’ll use just about any excuse to get close to a horse. Even Mr. Monkey enjoyed the ponies!
Pony Ride 2

 My girls love the midway. It’s our last stop, and they look forward to it all day! My Mom loves Carousels and enjoys taking them on a few rides.
 
I thought it was cute that Bunny chose a rabbit!
Bunny on the Carousel

 
This choice didn’t surprise me at all. Cricket, in her constant attempt to convince us to add one to the family, reminds me frequently that her favorite animal is a dog. This is one of my favorite photos from that day.
 
Cricket on the Carousel

 If you’re ever in Fort Worth at the end of January or beginning of February, plan on a day at the Stock Show! As the slogan says, “This Thing is Legendary!!”

January Recap

The beginning of January found us back in Kansas, visiting with friends and family there and baptizing our sweet little Monkey-man! We had a wonderful time seeing some of the people who are dearest to us in the whole world, and introducing them to our son. It was so hard to only have a few short days to catch up, especially not knowing when we’ll be back. It’s a tough thing to live in one place when your heart is spending time in two. The highlight of the trip was our son’s baptism! This photo is from just before church that morning. Doesn’t he look so serious here, like he’s contemplating the meaning of it all?

Baptism romper
Monkey man in his baptism romper just before church. I embroidered a triquetra on the shoulder.

Pulling into Wichita the first evening, our van started smoking. We had just spent thousands of dollars fixing some issues for the trip, so that was a quite-less-than-happy moment. A friend of a friend came to look at it, diagnosed it as something that we could fix once we got home, and we were able to travel without further incident. However, it couldn’t have been just what he thought, because a couple of days after we got home, it would no longer start. *sigh* Starting the New Year with car trouble is not a pleasant thing.

 
Just a week later, my husband had a couple of middle of the night trips to the ER for extreme pain. After a few days of trying to figure things out, he had his gallbladder removed in emergency laparoscopic surgery. (Cholecystectomy is a really cool word, by the way.)  Also not my ideal way to start a New Year! No pics from that time, except for one the doc gave me from inside during the surgery, and I’ll spare you that one even if I think it is super cool! He’s still having some issues from all of this, and his physically demanding job makes it all worse, so I appreciate your prayers for him.
 
All of this really upset our schedule, and our girls have had a very hard time adjusting. They haven’t slept through the night since coming back from our trip. I think it’s really odd that the only one in our family who is regularly sleeping through the night isn’t even 4 months old yet!  What comes after exhausted? I’m not sure what the word is, but we are totally there.  Of course, small children’s behavior is also deeply affected by a major lack of sleep, so things are a bit chaotic here. I’m trying to pull it all back in line, but it is hard to be my best version of Mama when it takes so much effort just to keep my eyes open. I pray every day that I will be faithful in my duties, wise in my decisions, and loving in my words and actions.
 
We went to the Stock Show twice, which is always a super fun thing. There will be a couple of posts about that with LOTS of pictures. It was a good chance for us to get out of the house so that my husband could rest, and we all had a good time! Also celebrated my dear sister’s birthday. My Mom went to the Stock Show the day that my sister was born, and has always referred to her as her “Stock Show Baby,” so it’s an especially fun thing to do together. I love being close enough to family to do things like birthdays together! I never thought that would happen.
 
The end of January, I made an attempt to get back into our schedule, including school. It wasn’t very successful, but we squeezed a few school days in. Oh – and I started this blog! Because what I really need is one more way to spend my time.
 
Oh, sorry. I broke into a bit of maniacal laughter just then. I’m back now.
 
I like to consider myself an optimistic realist. I try to look at the bright side, but not in a completely unrealistic way. This was an incredibly hard month. One of the hardest I’ve ever had. The way I look at it, we’ve gotten the worst of the year out of the way up front, and the rest should be really good to balance it out. Tell me I’m right, okay? Lie if you have to!