And now we have a teenager…

Dear Gracie Girl,

I kinda can’t believe that it is true, but it is indeed official. You are a bona fide teenager as of today. Yet I’m still trying to figure out how we got from this sweet little girl…

Success!

…to this all grown up teenager.

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As much as I will always think of you as that little girl of mine, it has become very apparent to me this past year that you are anything but a little girl any longer.

Right before my eyes you have grown into this beautiful, confident, kind and caring young lady.

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I’m constantly in awe of you, Gracie Girl. Just when I think I have you figured out, you go and do something totally out of the “Emma-norm” and completely surprise me. And I’m (not-so-secretly) so very happy to have such a talented and creative daughter.

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From being the best Big Sister…IMG_1909

 

To being an all-around good and dependable friend…

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I think it is safe to say you are destined for very great things. And I’m so privileged to be around to witness them.

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You add so much laughter, fun, and joy to our family and I’m thankful every single day for you and your great love.

May your teen years be a breeze. Happy 13th Birthday, my sweet, sweet little girl.

Love You Always,
Mama

Double Digits…All the fingers…Finally.

Dear Addison Rose,

Oh, Rosie Toes. The day is finally here. You leave the single digit ages behind, and embark on the new adventure of double digit-dom. Finally. Waiting to turn 10, when nearly all of your friends have already had their double digit birthdays – well, that has truly been an exercise in patience, hasn’t it my sweet, impatient one?

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Along with a lot of waiting, this long year has brought so many great changes for you. I watched you a few weeks ago as you were so frightened and on the verge of giving up. After you worked through all of your “I can’t do its,” you climbed to the top of a 40-foot tree and then precariously balanced and walked a tightrope wire between two trees. FORTY-feet above the ground. Slowly I could see your fear growing into persistence as you learned that you may be small, but you are definitely mighty. DSC_3856

And your confidence has grown by leaps and bounds this past year. I loved getting to the ballet studio early and peeking in the window to watch you demonstrate a dance combination to the class. And I loved standing in the wings with you backstage watching you while you clasped hands with your friends and anxiously awaited your cue to go on stage. Really I just love any moment when I can sit back and watch the complete joy on your face while you dance or express yourself creatively.

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And of course, your love for all animals is still so strong and has led you to becoming a full-on, completely dedicated vegetarian this past summer. (I really should’ve seen that one coming.) Once you make your mind up about something, there really is no going back.

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This past year might have seemed like an eternity to you, but you managed to pack a lot in, Addikins. And it is all working for you, kiddo. Keep on, keeping on.

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We love the strong, funny, creative, and beautiful girl you are growing into. May your next year be just as amazing.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl.
I couldn’t possibly love you more,
Mommy

Happy 12, Gracie Girl!

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Dear Gracie Girl,

Wow, it has been a bit of a rollercoaster of a year now, hasn’t it? Sometimes I wonder how in the world you can be turning 12, while at the same time thinking “huh, you are only 12?!” It has been a hard year for me now that you are an “almost teenager” and a full-on middle schooler. I’m trying desperately to walk that fine line between letting you go – an independent little birdie stretching your wings, and pulling you back onto my lap – keeping you safely tucked into our little nest.

So, I think I have been doing fairly well, refraining from posting stories and/or embarrassing anecdotes here on the ‘ol blog. But just for a moment, on today…your 12th birthday, I think I should be allowed to gush about my girl for maybe a minute or two? So hold back your “Moooommm’s!” and your eye-rolling and let me just say this, real quick.

Gracie, I just look at you every day and am pretty much in awe of this young lady standing in front of me (and yes, I might not have to look down any longer, but I’m still not quite looking UP at you…yet.). You are pretty much the daughter that any parent could ever hope to raise. You are loving and kind, smart and funny, beautiful inside and out. And I’m pretty sure you will never know the full extent of how proud of you we are, but I hope you do know how very much we love you and hope that your 12th year is your best yet!

#endproudmamarant

Ok, I’m done. I promise to not embarrass you any more. For another year at least.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl.
Love you,
Mama

 

Worst Blogger Ever.

Jamie told me the other night that he doesn’t think I even qualify as a blogger any more since it seems I am unable to put up any sort of blog post any more. I’m currently downloading 2 months worth of end-of-year activities in the form of photos and videos.

Wow. We were crazy busy and fit a lot into the end of the school year.

I think we need a vacation…and…happy news for us, we leave tomorrow morning for Hawaii. We are spending two whole weeks on a family vacation and it really could not have come at a better time. We are all a little fried and desperately in need of some rest and relaxation.

So, I will be back. And there will be lots of updates, photos, videos and stories. And maybe, just maybe,  I can earn my blogger title back.

11.

Dear Gracie Girl.

Oh, my Peanut. Today you turn 11. I’m not quite sure why, but this year seems so much harder to accept than last year when you hit those double digits.

Maybe it is because last year you were our sweet little girl…DSC_0472

…and now all we see is this crazy beautiful young lady.DSC_6004

Or maybe it is because if you keep sprouting you are going to be the tallest tree in our family. I used to carry you everywhere and now if I tried to give you a piggyback ride, your long legs would probably drag on the floor.

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I remember when you were born and Daddy and I would just sit and stare at you for hours. We couldn’t believe that you were ours and we marveled how every little piece of you was so, so perfect. My favorite bits of you were your fingers and your toes. I couldn’t get enough of them. And now…you don’t have enough of them. You happily told me last night, “After tomorrow I can’t hold up how old I am on my fingers, Mama, I’ll have to just hold a one and a one.”

One and a one. 1-1. 11.
Even if you live to be 111 – it will never be enough of you, Gracie Girl. You are one of the greatest loves of my life, sweet girl. And I hope you have the best year yet.

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Happy Birthday, Gracie!
Love,
Mama

Perspective.

Ouch. Clearly the blog, (and keeping a running tally of our life for the future me to look back and reminisce on) isn’t high on my priority list this first part of 2014! I can’t believe we are already nearly a quarter into the year…it just doesn’t seem to ever slow down.

I wanted to hop on here, if for nothing else to post a few pictures and remind myself of this crazy, busy time in our life. I know for certain I am going to miss this one of these days. At least that is what I keep trying to tell myself when I feel like I cannot get up and out of bed one.more.day.

I’m going to miss the bickering girls and the non-stop Tuesdays that never seem to end. I’m going to miss the all day volleyball tournaments and entire weekends spent at ballet performances. I’m going to miss helping kindergartners learn how to use a mouse and not pick their nose, while simultaneously fixing a teacher’s printer for the 1,000th time. (Believe it or not – I’d take the kindergartners ANY day over some of the teachers!) I’m going to miss cleaning up Cooper’s accidents that seem to land just millimeters from the easier-to-clean-up hardwood floors, and on the carpet instead.

Wait…I don’t think I’ll EVER miss that last one. Potty training a dog is harder than a human…kinda want to buy those doggy diapers some days! Just kidding. (No…I’m really not – do you think they work??)

So we have pretty much been charging full speed ahead around here. Addie is continuing to do well in 3rd grade – surprising everyone, including herself. She told me the other day that she feels like she has learned more than she really needs to know to be a third grader. She thinks she is ready for 4th grade, apparently. I can’t believe how very grown up she is all of a sudden. When we pull up to the dance studio she has started telling me, “you can just drop me at the curb, you don’t have to come in, Mama!” A little bit of my heart broke the first time she told me that, but I notice she still stops when she gets to the door and blows me a kiss…not quite all little Miss Independence. (But she ia a great babysitter in the making. She and Amelia are two peas in a pod…CAT LOVERS…here they are watching the cats.)

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And over in the other corner is Ems who I have to remind myself DAILY – “is only 10 years old.” It is hard to not expect a lot more out of her when she looks, and acts, like she should be driving a car next year. She and her “girls” are rockin’ 5th grade. They went to JMS last week to tour the middle school. She also reminds me constantly how she is going to middle school. “Next year when I’m in middle school….” “Did you know that middle schoolers….” She just loves to drop that little bomb in wherever she can and give Mama just a bit more anxiety.

Where her sister is all about dance, Em has fallen in love with volleyball. Her skills keep improving weekly, almost as quickly as she is sprouting UP. The girl is going to be as tall as me next week, I’m pretty sure. She put her jeans on that I got her for Christmas the other day and they are – I’m not kidding – two inches too short. Her coach is loving her growth spurt(s). I guess I should just be happy she has a birthday coming up and the hot weather looks like it is here to stay…we are going to be needing a new wardrobe. And SHOES…we are going to be able to share shoes next year if her feet keep up at this rate! (I didn’t say it was ALL bad!)

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J just returned tonight from Rome, for work and he has been working like crazy these past few months. His team’s big project finally launched. (Disney Movies Anywhere – download it from iTunes!! It’s wicked cool.) But that only means more work. We are trying to figure out a summer vacation because we all could really use a week of doing no-to-the-thing.

And me. As I might have indicated, I feel a wee bit overwhelmed most days. I woke up last week and realized that I’m not really in love with this crazy lady I’ve become, in fact, I don’t really even like her. I’m impatient and crabby and just plain grumpy. The things I love doing, the people I love hanging out with, all of those things that are important to me….just don’t seem to be happening. I’m frustrated and not quite sure how to get it all back to that sweet spot.

But then I get a kick (or two) to the head. I have a dear friend who is fighting cancer. She started chemotherapy again. One of our families from school had a house fire last week and lost almost all of their belongings. Another couple is struggling just to have a baby. And I see so many people in our community that need some sort of job and would LOVE to have mine to go to each day.

So, I’ve decided I am going to attempt to struggle over here with these so-called “problems” with optimism and a little bit of grace and thankfulness. And I’m going to go away this weekend to a lovely yoga and contemplation retreat and get some perspective.

Because really? Isn’t it all just about having a little perspective.

 

Happy Birthday Daddy (& Uncle Hef!)

Ahem. I nearly forgot how to login to this here ‘ol blog. But today was the perfect day to brush off the dust and wish our favorite-boy-in-the-whole-world a Happy Birthday! (And our second fave boy, too!)

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You are the very best thing that has ever happened to me, J. I love you (and our beautiful life that we’ve built together) more than you’ll ever know. So very happy that 41 years ago you were born (and just a little less happy that we get to be the same age for a few months, too!)  ;)

Happy Birthday and here is to a GREAT year.
Love you, Daddy!
~ Your Girls (and boys!)

Speaking of boys, we tried desperately to get all of the furry family into the pic. Some kinda funny outtakes, before the kitties made a break for it…

We’re all in the photo….

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Oh, all looking sort of towards the camera….

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And the cats have had enough. Addie is resigned to having no kittens in the photo and Cooper is so embarrassed that he can barely show his face…

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K5 Learning Review

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So with my new job I’ve been on a hunt to find new and fun online educational activities for the kiddos – both mine and the 400 kids at school! I saw this opportunity on my friend Colleen’s blog and jumped on the boat. We get to play on K5 Learning’s site for 6 weeks and you can bet that I’ll keep you updated with what I find and what the girls think of the site, too! Stay tuned…

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K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.