Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome to Arendelle.

 Our darling girls woke up on Christmas Eve to a fresh breakfast and a pair of very happy parents.

We were giddy with excitement, finally able to spill the big secret.

They ate their breakfast (which seemed to take way longer than usual by the way) and I asked Lola if she knew what a scavenger hunt is.

"Yes, it's when you go for walk in the woods and gather up all sorts of interesting sticks and leaves and stuff."

Well, yeah, that too, but what about the indoor kind? The kind where you follow clues?

And so it began...

They practically bolted out of the kitchen, getting downstairs, Lola running, Millie scooting down on her bottom, us holding Lola up, telling her to wait for her sister...

They found a wrapped package. A new Olaf toy.

And a second clue.

Get your swimsuits.

Back upstairs, pulling out drawers to find these: handmade Elsa hats with knitted Elsa braids.

Notice a pattern yet?

The third clue: Get your suitcases.

Lola, not even yet down the staircase, said to me, "Mommy, I wish we had Elsa dresses!" and then paused. "I bet that's next!" and raced into the laundry room, her sister right on her tail.

It was the one thing she asked Santa for. We knew we'd have no trouble getting Lola into her gown, but Millie? With her aversion to all things poofy? I was doubtful.

And so very wrong.

See how cute they are with the Elsa hair?!

Princess sisters.

But a fourth clue?

Mommy made one the last time, should we make another?

The Disney scrapbook, from our 2013 trip. In the craft/play room, right behind the closed door...

What they didn't know is what we did.

We gave them just a tiny piece of Arendelle.

Lola threw open the door and her reaction was absolutely priceless.

Another gift.

An Elsa and Anna calendar. Lola flipped out, so excited she was for a Frozen calendar.

Now, the adults reading this have probably put it together. Pack suitcase, get swimsuits, etc. Our girls, though, so focused on the game, they didn't notice the connection.

We opened the calendar and on it, there was a countdown, from (a certain number that I won't post publicly) down to a very rough Mickey sketch.

I could barely get the words out, "Where does Mickey live?" I asked, very quietly, knowing Ray was videotaping behind me.

And have you ever wondered at what a kid's reaction would be, when you tell them they're going (back) to Disney World?

But she knows us, too well. We tease, too much.

We had been telling her we'd go again when she was 8. And then, after I totaled the car, we said we'd have to wait 'til she was 10, that the new car was too expensive to allow us to do both right now.

So she was doubtful.

"Are you serious?" she asked us once.

"Are you really serious?" she asked us, again.

And then her face nearly slightly broke, asking one last time, "For real?", barely whispering, warning us that if we were still teasing, if we still weren't being honest, that we'd have taken the joke too far, that she was going to be crushed.

But as we nodded, she lost it.

Millie, well, she just kept looking at Lola and back at us. She nodded when Ray asked if she wanted to go meet Mickey. But I think, in the end, if Lola was this ecstatic, she figured she'd be kind of happy too.

It was worth the wait. Oh so many times in the last six months we've nearly caved, we've nearly given in and just told them, to let us all be excited together, to stop the whispers and secrets.

But this moment, the moment they realized what would come, it was so worth it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Tis the season

Some families decorate Christmas trees...

Our girls decorated their daddy.


Merry Christmas, from us to you, wherever you may be.

 - Bethany

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Millie musings...

I love this kid.

This happy-go-lucky-yet-can-throw-a-tantrum-with-no-warning kid.

This sweet little girl who wants nothing more than your attention and your affection.

Our mornings are busy, but manageable, as long as we stay on schedule. But twice or thrice a week, I get about 25 minutes to myself for some morning devotion time, thanks to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which Millie would watch all day long if we'd let her.

The other day, Mickey malfunctioned (I suspect that a certainly curly-haired toddler hit a random button on the remote). So I was summoned into the living room to fix it. Millie was on the couch, similarly poised to the picture above, as she not-so-patiently waited for the TV to come back on. She was squawking pretty good by now, yelling something that I couldn't make out. And, yeah, I was more focused on the TV.

I heard movement behind me but didn't think of anything of it until, just as Mickey came back to life on the big-screen, I felt two tiny little arms wrap around my legs. I looked down and she looked up, just beaming at me. Not because of Mickey - by now she'd lost all interest - but because she's a hugger.

She loves to be loved.

Her daycare provider and her teachers tell us frequently that she just casually will walk up to someone and just stand next to them, patiently waiting for something. As soon as they crouch down to tend to whatever she wants, Millie will just throw her arms around them and give them a hug.


One of the (many) blessings of a smaller town is how close everything is to each other. One block to my south is her preschool and one block to the north is her daycare. So twice a week, on preschool days, at 11:30 a.m. I got get her from preschool and bring her to daycare, just in time for lunch.

It's a little Great Expectations-ish: It's the best part of my day and the worst part of my day. She is thrilled to see me at preschool and then mad as hell at daycare, when I leave.

So a couple of weeks ago, I tried a little experiment. As long as she promised not to cry, I'd eat lunch with her at daycare. I brought my little salad and we ate, side by side, as she "bragged" (pointed happily) to all her little friends that her Mommy was eating lunch with her.

She thought it was the greatest thing ever.

Yeah, she still cried when I left though. Actually, a little harder than usual. So it was kind of a fail, but for those 20 minutes, I felt pretty good.


Well, I won't say much on this out of fear of jinxing it...

But so far so good.

We've been slowly tapering her off from her anti-seizure meds and are yet to see any signs of trouble.

We aren't quite to 50 percent, but we're close.


She's doing so great. Talking more, laughing more, running and jumping lots.

Last weekend, she spent about an hour just walking up and down our (very steep) stairs, all by herself, just to keep practicing and celebrating the fact that she is doing it, all on her own.

Our big girl.


Our little angel girl.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I am just now feeling like our home is looking Christmas-y.

Not because we didn't have any decorations, but because there was this in the middle of the living room for the last few weeks...

Nothing says Christmas like a work-in-progress spread throughout the living room, right?

But it was my own doing.

A couple of months ago I finished my first "project," converting the old medicine cabinet into a jewelry cabinet.

Consequently, that left this old thing basically useless.

I enjoyed my jewelry armoire for many years. But it has been well-worn and is definitely showing its age. And the oak/wood,  it just doesn't match anything in my bedroom and I'm really not big enough "into" jewelry to need such a large piece of furniture.

It is missing its drawer too, which makes it look even worse...

But it is still completely functional. And I figured that there had to be another use in this thing, somehow, someway. It has a lot of great features. And I'd hate to toss this to just replace it with a more expensive piece of furniture down the road.

So ...  bring on the paint!

I came up with the idea of converting it into a storage unit for Lola's growing American Girl doll supplies and clothing. The drawers all are divided and have compartments to make things easily sorted and accessible.

But the girls' room is all color -- with white accents and furniture.

So I had to make the thing white. And that meant a whole lotta' primer and paint.

And since Ray and I like our time together at night, after the kids go to bed, I basically painted in the living room, with a few drop cloths. Thus, the reason for the mess in the living room.

There were a few stumbling blocks along the way.

For one, I couldn't paint the back because it isn't true wood -- it's that cardboardy fake wood material.

My intention was to go buy more paper that would complement the girls' room but then I settled on the free option -- using the same patterned paper that I used in my own "new" jewelry case.

As an added bonus, the pattern actually blended with the very odd-colored green felt that is prevalent throughout the piece.

It actually blended together quite nicely...

A couple of bucks for new knobs and the front is now so much more attractive...

All in all, I must say it turned out quite lovely.

I'm especially pleased that it looks at least mostly grown-up too, so if she tires of using it for doll accessories, as she becomes a (gulp) pre-teen and teenager, she could convert it right back to its original intention as a jewelry/accessories case.

But, really, I'm just glad it's done. And that it turned out pretty well. And I only spent $20 on it -- $18 for paint and $2 on knobs. You can't beat that.

Now I just have to clean it all up and stick a pretty ol' bow on it for Christmas.

And then figure out what my next project should be...
- Bethany

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree...

A few weeks ago -- the Saturday after Thanksgiving to be exact -- the family went Christmas tree "shopping." We like to cut our own, but unfortunately, this year we had to find a new farm because the one we've been using in recent years, sadly, closed down.

First, though, we tried taking a family pic in the backyard. Eh. It went about as well as usual.

 Then it was off to the farm.

Millie watched on with confusion and a little apprehension...

She's smart enough to know it would be her turn soon enough, and she wasn't so sure about that.

But once Daddy started running, the smiles came...

Lola wanted to pull Millie but Millie was having none of it. So Lola made do with her imaginary friend. (I made that up, by the way. To my knowledge Lola has no such invisible friend -- at least not yet.)

"Hey look Mommy!" I imagined her saying. "A tree my size!"

She still wasn't loving the snow or being outside, but she faked it a little bit...

Daddy gets to work...

Meanwhile, while Daddy not-so-happily cut down the tree, the kids goofed around a bit. Lola made a few snow angels...

Millie pretended to pull the sled...

And Lola took to just being goofy ol' Lola...

Eventually, the tree did come down.

And while Ray didn't get much (any) help for the actual sawing of the tree trunk(s), Lola was happy to help bring it home, or at least to the car...

- Bethany