Posted in Children, Family, parenting

A Letter To My Daughter On Her 5th Birthday

img_3166I can’t help but wonder if all mothers cry when their baby turns five years old? As soon as my eyes opened, I began to think of you. Not that that’s anything new. You are always the first thought to cross my mind. And as a sidenote, you will always be the first thought to cross my mind, no matter how old you are, no matter how far from me you travel.  I think Willie Nelson sang a song along those same lines.

I couldn’t stop the tears this morning. And all through the day, I’ve fought to keep them at bay.

Five years. Five beautiful, wonderful years. They have been the most precious, most blessed times of my life. And that is saying quite a lot, sweet Emma Kate, because my life has been pretty marvelous. But when you entered the world, it went to a brand new level.

I don’t know the answers to all life’s questions. I certainly don’t know much at all. But I know that you have allowed me and taught me to love in a way that never seemed possible. Sure, we have our ups and downs. Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, but when you step back and look at the big picture, there’s definitely more ups than downs and more cherries than pits in our bowl.

You are such a good kid. You are so smart. I have written to you for the first 12 months of your life, and then every year after that. Someday, I will print these out for you to keep and reflect back on. Reading back through, you will know how absolutely, infinitely loved and adored you are.

You have a great memory. You love to play a game with you daddy and I, especially on car rides, called “Remember when…..”. You usually start and say, “remember when we…” and you’ll fill in the blank. Then we all take turns giving our own remember whens. Sometimes, we all remember, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, I’m purely amazed at the things you remember from long, long ago. It’s also kind of sad when you don’t remember something that was pretty epic, so that’s one reason I write it down.

Because one day, my little lovebird, all you will be left with will be your memories. I want you to have good ones. Me and your dad are trying our hardest to give you an amazing childhood, but at the same time, being careful not to turn you into a brat. It’s a thin line to cross. Because sometimes giving your child everything is not the best, and someday you’ll understand that. It’s not about all the “things and stuff” in life, not the newest and greets, because those things always turn not so new, and not so great.

It’s about the “remember whens”. It’s about playing hide and go seek in the dark. It’s about birthday parties with family and friends, and adventures in the woods building forts, and hiking trails, and picking wildflowers. It’s about making play dough and playing dolls. It’s about lying in the yard and looking at the shapes in the clouds, or the stars at night. It’s about snuggles at bedtime and rocking chair time every morning with a blanket and chocolate milk and a warm,drowsy head on my chest. It’s about fishing at the lake, and swimming in a horse trough. It’s about dance parties through the house when our favorite song comes on, and sharing books together. It’s all the “remember when’s” that are too many to list.

It’s all about the time we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.

You are growing into a great young girl. You are no longer an infant, no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and pretty soon, you’ll no longer be a preschooler. You have learned so much. Most of your days are spent at St. Matthew’s where you’ve already learned to read 100 sight words. You are my little reader, but I always knew you would be. You understand numbers and how to put them together and take them apart. You also have a whole lot of dang common sense. You are practically perfect in every way. Much like Mary Poppins, huh?

Thank you Emma Kate for these last 5 years. They have been beyond my wildest imagination. I am so happy you’re mine. Someone posted on Facebook about you, that “God said ta-da”, and I think that sums it up perfectly. I love you oodles and gobs, and more, and more, and more.

Happy Birthday, my baby.

XOXO,

Mommy

 

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Posted in Children, Family, life, Uncategorized

4 year old My Little Pony/Rainbow Party

Okay, here we go. I must start this blog with a disclaimer.

  1. There are bloggers who make money blogging. I’m not one of them (although that’d be swell).
  2. There are bloggers who have perfect pictures of projects that people pin on Pinterest. I’m not one of them. I don’t even know how to put a P on my pictures so that people could pin them on Pinterest (although that’d be swell).
  3. I’m just a mom, who happens to blog, who is trying to celebrate my kid’s birthday in a fun way using ideas from Pinterest that I’ve stolen from other people who make money with their blogs.
  4. You will not find anything original here. Or anything perfect. You might even see messy. Or real. And that’s my life. Judge not (that’d be swell).

So my little daughter EK turned 4 and she requested a My Little Pony party. My town (consisting of Walmart and 14 dollar stores) had absolutely nothing in the way of My Little Pony party supplies. So we stole the idea of using Rainbow Dash pony as our Lead Horse and combining rainbows with My Little Ponies, but mostly just rainbows. When I say we, I mean me. Because rainbow parties are cool. Rainbows are cool. She’s 4. And if I put a few ponies out and about on the tables, that’d work, right? (Secret: I don’t even think I had a Rainbow Dash pony out anywhere!)

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Parties can get a bit out of hand these days. It seems like  moms keep pushing the envelope. How big can they possibly get?  I really really really really strive to have a simple party. But then suddenly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I look around and I’ve got ponies and rainbows and icing up to my elbows. And you know what else? I don’t even like parties! But I will tell you, that when my little girl walked into the room and saw the decorations, her little face lit up. She jumped up and down clapping. Ran over and hugged me around the legs. She kept saying how excited she was and it was right there in that moment, I realized that I may not like parties but my little girl will only turn 4 once and even if no one else came to help us celebrate, we will celebrate. It is her life.  The day she came into our world and changed it forever. She is worth celebrating! The party may not have been picture perfect, but we had a great time and here it is.
I didn’t have time to get a great invitation together because at almost the last-minute, something came up and we had to move the party up a weekend. So I just did what we did in the “olden days” and bought invitations at one of the 14 dollar stores in town and handwrote the Who, What, When, and Where on the blanks ha!

Decorations:

Doing a rainbow theme is easy when it comes to decorations, because you can find the colors of the rainbow anywhere and everywhere. The backdrop in the following picture is made out of plastic tablecloths that are hung in the colors of the rainbow and the poufs and balloons are supposed to be clouds. I used some old banner and tablecloths from her 2nd birthday Sesame Street themed party and added them to save money.

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Food

Because our party was from 4-6, we served some hotdogs and chips. I also threw together a veggie platter, trying my derndest to use the colors of the rainbow, but really other than orange bell peppers and eggplant, some veggies just don’t come in the colors of the rainbow. Also a fruit platter, that when you look real closely may, in just the right light, maybe with one eye shut and your head tilted at a 30 degree angle, might look like a rainbow with some marshmallow clouds.

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Our cake was a 5 layer rainbow cake following the colors of the rainbow. At first, I was going to make the batter and use food coloring to color different batches of dough, but at the store, I found already colored pouches of cake mix. It was still a booger to make (lots of dirty dishes) and cutting it was a chore, but it turned out fun. We added skittles to the outside for a little extra rainbow flair. J-Dub of course helped me with the cake as I was about in a near tizzy when it came to icing it and a full-blown tizzy at cutting that tall sucker. It started to look like the leaning tower of Piza. It was taking both of us to try to hold it up and cut it without making a total mess. I can’t say we succeeded on not making a total mess. It’s just a good thing kids don’t care!

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For fun, we dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles. EK really enjoyed helping with this. Now, this isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a couple of tricks to getting the stick to stay put without breaking the Oreo into fragments.  You get to eat a lot of broken Oreos while you’re doing this! Well, you do if you’re me.

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I baked a few cupcakes and since there wasn’t too much chocolate and I personally prefer chocolate, I put some chocolate icing on these which turned our reminding me a little bit of hot mess of dog poop sitting on top of a cupcake, but if anybody else thought so, at least they didn’t say anything. Again, kids don’t care.

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Activities/Games

I always worry about the activities and games. I think it’s the school teacher in me. I have learned from a schoolroom full of kids that when their time isn’t filled with  structured activities, they will find a way to fill it, and it may not be what you want them to do. So I always overplan on this part and they usually  just end up playing their own games instead of mine. Maybe one day I’ll learn to relax and trust the process a little.

It  worked out that since we lived in the country and EK’s daddy had a horse available, we were able to offer pony rides to go along with the theme of My Little Pony. We also asked a friend from church to come out and give each child their own “cutie mark” with face paint. EK wanted a piñata, and so a few kids got in on that, but we were running almost out of time and many guests left before this. Unfortunately, during all the hustle and bustle, I wasn’t able to get  pictures of any of these activities.

I had also bought a little photo booth kit, you know one of those funny faces photo booths? I thought the kids would love this, but they didn’t. I practically had to drag kids into it to participate. For this age of guests, I think I should have put up a mirror near it, so they could at least see what the looked like before the picture was snapped. I did have a few willing participants. That’s EK in the cat eye glasses and a few of her cute friends.

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Emma had a lot of fun with her friends and family and it turned out to be a great time. As soon as it was over, she said “I can’t wait to turn five!” She’s already planning her next birthday! Thankfully I have a year to rest!

Posted in Children, Family, Love

Look Who’s Three!

My dearest Emma Kate,

Last night you went to bed as a two-year old and today you woke as a  three-year old!  But not technically.  You actually have until 2:47 this afternoon until you can officially say you’re three.  You are the absolute most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.  I love you so much.

You are smart, beautiful, and funny.  I am easily entertained by your antics, whether it is the funny things you say or the silly eyes you make, you always can make me smile.

You enjoy coloring and painting.  Of course you love your books as you always have, and your cat Rocky Muffin.  You are super smart, knowing and recognizing all your letters and your numbers to ten.  You have begun to know how to make the letter E, and then you just scribble some m’s like mountain tops and a dot for the A.  You love all things princess related and we celebrated this past Saturday by having a Princess dress up party.  Three of your friends joined us and we had the best time.  Everyone had at least one wardrobe change.  We played Hide the Slipper and Pin the Kiss on the Frog.   Then we decorated foam crowns to wear.   I had a lot of fun making you a cupcake princess dress and seeing your sweet face full of excitement.  You were so good and well-behaved and truly acted like a princess should.

The funniest part of the story is that you are convinced since we already had a birthday party that today you are four years old. You insist that, “I’ve already been three!”  You are trying to convince me to have a farm party for your fourth birthday.  I hate to break it to you, but birthdays only come once a year.  You need to not rush things anymore than they already are.  It seems like yesterday that you were that bright-eyed, alert newborn baby.

You will always be my baby, no matter how old you get.  I thank God for you everyday and for the time I have to spend with you watching you grow.  You are my blessing, one I am ever grateful for.

I love you so much my sweets.

Happy Birthday!

XOXO,

Mommy

The birthday girl
The birthday girl
All About EK
All About EK



Now THAT's how you decorate a cupcake.
Now THAT’s how you decorate a cupcake.
Showing how old you are.
Showing how old you are.
princessess and friends
princessess and friends
a dress of cupcakes
a dress of cupcakes
mommy and her little princess.  I love this picture of us.
Mommy and her favorite princess. I love this picture of us.
Posted in Dear Diary, Faith, Family

What happened when I quit Facebook

I quit facebook.  It was huge for me.  I think either today, tomorrow, or the next day marks two weeks.  Two weeks!

I don’t even know why I did it, except that somewhere in the past few years, months, weeks, or days, when it happened I’m not sure, but at some point, I kind of lost myself.  It’s not face book’s fault, but just a combination of my choices.  Maybe it’s never happened to you, but I got to the point where I just found myself sick to death of everything, including myself.  So I pulled the plug.  I can’t pretend it wasn’t hard.  Within moments my mind was racing with pathetic thoughts. The first thing I worried about was that if I died, while not on Facebook, no one would be able to visit my wall to eulogize me and tell my loved ones how much they missed me.  Or give a nice story.  Or even know I died at all.  That thought process right there may be indicative of the health of my mind at the time.

The next thought, after the death one, was that my sister’s birthday was coming up in a couple of days and just how was I going to handle that?  Usually it was an ol’ happy bd fb post, but now I would need an alternate method.  To the card store I went.   It got me thinking that I didn’t receive one card in the mail on my previous birthday, except from Bealls, the local department store, with a friendly $10 gift to use toward my purchase.  I may not have received a card for my birthday, but I know I probably got more than a hundred fb messages.  What is that saying about us as people?  Anything at all?  Sending cards will soon be filed away in the same archaic vault as sending a lock of hair to a loved one.  I almost sent one to my sister, just for old times sake.

Then over the next few days of my fb fast, I would catch myself thinking “I should put that on Facebook”.  Or wondering about certain people who I only kept in contact with through that venue.  It was comparable to a grieving process, how for a brief moment you  pick up the phone to call your mom or your dad, only to remember they’re no longer living.  But as the days passed, it became easier and better.  I haven’t really missed it.  Except maybe, a little.

I did want to post Ashlynn’s first day of 10th grade, so here it is:

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Isn’t she lovely?  This was the day after she was released from the hospital with yet another stomach blockage due to adhesions.  It had been a while since we have had to deal with this, and it was downright scary. She spent three days in there feeling terribly.  Normally, I would have been straight on fb for prayer, because it is a great avenue for that.  My sister kept the Facebook world updated and many prayers came for healing and I am much appreciative. I know her healing is from God and I know the many prayers of friends and family reached the heavens.

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Friends helped keep her spirits up.  She developed a nasty cough right afterwards, but about has that whipped now too and is on to smooth sailing.

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So here it is nearly September, and we are squeezing the last drops out of summer as we can.  We went and took Emma out on a paddle boat the other day and found ourselves way too far out with just a few minutes to get back.  Our thighs were burning trying to get back to the dock in time.  Emma was crying in the beginning, she is such a cautious child and really tends to get anxious at new things, but she was all smiles in no time.  A package of m&m’s might have helped.

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She’s a full blooded two and a half year old now and keeps me laughing.  She’s so good and a true blessing and joy in all of our lives. I really need to write down more of what she says because they’re just so darn funny.

All in all, since my fb sabbatical (and my deletion of all other social media, save pinterest and words with friends) I am feeling much more light hearted.  I’m finding my focus, which primarily should be on the people who live under my roof.  Other than that, each day is just a repeat of the previous.  Sometimes it’s drudgery, sometimes it’s chaos, but there is always beauty to be found when I pause long enough to look around.

The big things are still the same:  I’m still trying to find my purpose in life and  still trying to grow my bangs out, both of which might take to the end of my days.  And in the event the end of my days might come, you might have to go to the card store to send a condolence.  Go ahead and stick a lock of hair in their too, okay, just for old times sake.

 

 

Posted in Children, Family, Uncategorized

A Sesame Street Shindig

This past weekend we had a fun 2 year old birthday party, complete with the whole Sesame street gang.  Initially I was just going to do Elmo, but once I got to checking out the internet, a.k.a Pinterest, for ideas, I knew the whole gang should be invited.

Every single idea was stolen fair and square.  I take no credit.

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I bought this cute Sesame street skirt and top from an Etsy shop called Sweet Sophia Designs.  There was about 3 seconds in my thought process where I thought I might attempt to make it, and then I quickly decided that my sanity was worth the price of the outfit.

I made the Welcome sign with cardboard letters wrapped in wrapping paper and hotglued with ribbon.

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I decided to go with cupcakes instead of a cake.  With the cupcakes we served a fruit tray, some goldfish, and some cookies.  To fit the theme; you know…..cookies for cookie monster, goldfish because Elmo loves his goldfish.

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This was an easy idea for making an Elmo face, except either my platter was too big or my strawberries were too sparse and it didn’t help that EK kept sneaking in the kitchen and stealing strawberries.

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These cupcakes were deceptively easy.  I watched several different methods and decided to go with the easiest.  I was so stressed about the amount of time these would take, but once me and my niece Ashlynn sat down, we had these decorated in less than one hour.  Probably 36 cupcakes.  I made cupcakes from a box cake mix.  Then I bought that canned colored icing like Cheez Whiz comes in.  I think if you study them they are pretty self-explanatory.  For the eyes, I used round white candy melts and we used a tube of black icing to draw on the pupils.   Cookie monster has a half chocolate chip cookie for a mouth and Elmo and Oscar have  half an oreo with gumdrop noses for Elmo.  We also just did some cupcakes with white icing and sprinkles just to change things up.

The cupcake tower is made with three cardboard circles, size 8″, 10″, and 12″ inch (or you could buy cardboard cake circles but I’m cheap).  I used styrofoam flower circles as the base, hotglued together, and green beans as the center dividers covered in cardstock paper.  The circles are covered in wrapping paper and then ribbon is glued around the cardboard circles.  Easy peasy, just a little time consuming.

We played a couple of games.  One was pin the nose on Elmo, which was just hilarious since noses were put all over the place and then a cookie monster beanbag toss, sort of.  They mostly just stood and placed the cookies into his mouth instead.

It is simply a cardboard box with a cookie monster face glued on with the mouth cut out.  I made 3 beanbag cookies by hot glueing felt circles together partway, filling it with beans or you can use rice, and glueing it closed. Those little triangles on top of the cookies are supposed to be chocolate chips, hehe.

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Emma had four 2 year old and three-year old friends come and I think they had a fun time.

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The sweetest part was telling Emma to tell her friends “Thank you” for the gifts.  Well, she was confused and thought the gift was FOR them instead of FROM them.  So she would open the present and then try to give it back to the giver.  So sweet.

I had also told her prior to the party that her friends would want to play with her toys and that it was okay and she needed to let them have their turns (she’s two remember?)  She did real good and let everyone do as they pleased, but  as soon as the door closed after the last guest left, she ran to her little pink jeep and yelled “Emma’s turn!”

Oh the fun we’re having!

Blogs where I stole ideas:

http://www.chickabug.com/blog/2013/07/sesame-street-second-birthday.html

Kate’s Sesame Street Birthday Party!

 

Posted in Children, Family

The Party

 

 

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Our baby girl turned one.

We drove to Texas early to celebrate with our  family and close friends.

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Here’s Emma Kate with her Grandy, who loves her so much.  Let me tell you how much Grandy loves Emma.  My mom (Grandy) never, and I mean NEVER allows her picture to be made.  Except with Emma.  Now that’s love, right there.

I tried to keep the party as simple as possible, and discovered that birthdays can easily get out of hand, and my stress level can easily go through the roof, with tears easily running down my cheeks.

Emma Kate loves Pete the Cat, especially “I Love My White Shoes”.  So with a little help from Pinterest and more experienced mothers who have gone before me, we went with a Pete the Cat theme.

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Let me tell you how much Pete the Cat loves his white shoes.  He loves his shoes when they are white, but then he steps in a pile of strawberries and they turn red.  Instead of boohooing, Pete just loves his red shoes instead.  And when he steps in a pile of blueberries and they turn blue, instead of pitching a fit, he just loves his blue shoes.  Then he steps in a pile of mud and you guessed it.  He loves his shoes brown.  Then he steps in a bucket of water and they turn all white again, but then they are wet!  But it’s all good with Pete and he loves his wet shoes too.

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Of course we needed strawberries and blueberries.  We had a little chocolate pudding for the mud, and then just some one year old friendly foods like crackers and goldfish, with some grown-up friendly food like sandwiches

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I was planning on cake balls and a cake, but making the cake turned into a fiasco.  A fiasco, I say.

Mostly because I procrastinate, and because I am so NOT Betty Crocker, I can barely get the stove turned on.  It would make more sense to order a cake, but somewhere in my perfectionist mind, I needed to make the cake myself, knowing good and well it wouldn’t be perfect.

Of course I found a recipe that involved way too many tricks and steps, of course I had to run to Walmart that day, of course at 1:00 I still didn’t have a cake made when the party was at three, of course tears were dripping into the batter as I frantically mixed and folded egg whites and sifted flour.

The icing turned out to be way too sweet and runny, but thanks to my dear husband who donned his Superman cape and convinced me that store-bought icing is not from the devil, then in the blink of an eye ran to the store and purchased it, then whisked back in a nanosecond and iced the cake beautifully, we had a decent cake before three o’clock.  No cake balls, but a decent cake.

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Notice I said “we” had a beautiful cake.  Emma had one with sickening sweet icing.

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Which probably explains this look and why she chose to eat three strawberries and barely touched the cake.

 

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She was a champ at opening presents and sat there and looked at each and every one of them without tiring.

She adores presents and wants to stop and play with them all.

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She even loved her cards.

 

 

 

 

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Despite my anxiety, the party was a success and the love Emma received was awesome.

 

So here’s to planning birthday party #2 eleven months early.

Maybe that way, we can have cake balls.

 

 

Posted in Family, Stories by my dad

Birthday Letters

On January 16, 1943 my dad was born.  I don’t know anything about his birth.  Whether he was born in a hospital or at home.  Whether he was a good baby or a tyrant.  How much he weighed or if he sucked his thumb.

Today if he were still living, he would have turned 70 years old.

He wrote himself a birthday letter a fews years back.   I happen to have a copy.

Jan-1998

Happy Birthday, Bob—–Happy 55 years.  A real milestone.  I feel like celebrating this b.d.,  unlike my 30th, which went by unnoticed.  Unlike my 40th which went by with hardly a ripple or even my 50th, supposedly the biggie, hardly made a dent on my psyche.

But 55 is the short side of the century mark.  So that makes it a milestone in my books, and I’m finally at the age where it makes not a tinkerers damn about anyones books but my own.

A brief synopsis—–I was born into a family of five siblings, a bootlegger father, and my mother was a housewife.  My family was mildly dysfunctional to say the least, my parents divorced when I was 11 and my mother struggled to keep her brood together.

I went to High school here in town, finally got laid, got drunk and enlisted in The Marine Corps just a few days after graduation.  Spent four years in The Corps, traveled around the world, went to work for various construction companies in West Texas and never once let college cross my mind.  Made a lot of parties—-a few friends and generally went around with my heart on my sleeve.

Anne, my wife and I had a wild, roller coaster, wonderful relationship from day one when we met in The Crystal Lounge bar, a downstairs dark, dank place where people drank, fought and loved with equal fervor.

Anne had two boys from a previous marriage that I was too young and dumb to see the joy in.  We later had two daughters that have remained the light of my life to this day.  The boys have forgiven my shortcomings and remain friendly toward me, too.  Thanks boys.

55 years—-that must seem like an eternity to someone in their 20’s or thirties, but to me it has been but a short journey on this meandering train we call life.  Meandering, wandering, everlooking for the path of least resistance, just like the nameless creek near Hoover, Texas where I gathered clover blossoms to plait into a braid for Anne’s hair.

                                                                                                                                                  ~1998~

Happy Birthday Dad—-happy 70th.  Two birthdays have now passed since you left us.  And lots has happened.  I miss you, but it does get easier with time, but there are still days that sadness is all around me, thick as fog.   I love you more than I ever have, and I’m so thankful for your writings that you left us.  I feel I know you better now than I ever did in real life.  I wonder why we feel like we can’t open up to others, and especially the ones who love us most?  I know I’m just as guilty.

You were a good dad.  That’s probably all  you  wanted to hear while you were living, and I don’t know if I ever told you.  But you were.   I wouldn’t change it for anything.

You tried your best, I know that now.  It’s certainly not easy being a parent, I know that now too.

I never realized just how tender you were.  You were always so tough and big and strong, that I guess I didn’t think about your feelings much.  I’m sorry for that.

Thanks for being a number one dad to me.  Thanks for supporting me in everything I ever did.   Thanks for taking time to spend with me, even if it was laying in the floor taking kissing bets during a bowling tournament on T.V. or skipping rocks on the Illinois.  I have fond memories, and those are what I carry with me now.  It’s all I’m left with, the memories and your stories.

You’d really love Emma.  Sometimes I imagine that you are here and see you laugh at her or hug her close.  She reminds me of you sometimes.  Especially now as she’s learning to walk.  She’s got this stumble about her, that’s very Grandpa-esque.  Or sometimes they way she lays while she’s sleeping or a look on her face makes me think of you.  You are a part of her.

I know you’re in Heaven and I’m going to be there someday too.  It’s good that this life isn’t all we’ve got, isn’t it?  So, until we meet again Dad, enjoy yourself, and I’ll do the same.  There’s much happiness here still, and memories to make with others.

I love you bigger than Hog Eyes and Sauerkraut Mississippi.

Until then……

Love,

Angel

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