Showing posts with label Birthday Celebrations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthday Celebrations. Show all posts

The Kickoff To Summer



Despite today feeling decidedly fall-like outside, Summer has actually begun!  The start to summer has looked different this year for all of us.  Usually the kickoff to Summer is the library used book sale, which didn't happen this year, and another major annual event, our local homeschool conference which I've enjoyed for the past three years, was also cancelled.  But we've still managed to have some fun and get in the summer spirit anyway!  Here's what we've been up to.



A Bad AirBnB Experience

Alright, you have to allow me to tell this story before I get to the fun stuff.  The last week of May we took off for a road trip to the Gulf Coast!  Coronavirus tensions were higher then, even though it was just a few weeks ago, so we packed up all our food and activities in the van, and planned to drive with as few stops at possible.  I figured when we got there we'd check into our AirBnB and just keep to ourselves and enjoy the beach.

I decided to book an AirBnB since when we were planning our trip it was still questionable whether hotels were open or not.  I figured it would be nice to have a whole house to ourselves anyway.  

We arrived at the house at maybe !0:00 PM local time, and basically got the kids settled and went right to bed.  When we woke up the next day, we started looking around...and realized the house was not really clean.  I guess since you pay a cleaning fee on the AirBnB website, I always just assume they hire a cleaning lady, and I also assumed they'd be extra thorough in cleaning since they had just allowed rentals again after the virus shutdown.  And the "recent reviews" said it was "sparkling clean".

Well.  The host basically admitted to me that all they did was steam mop the floors and clean the bathroom.  There was clutter on top of the cabinets and in all the closets, the closet door was hanging by a hinge and a light fixture was broken, there was dead flies and dust on all the windowsills, thick grime in the dishwasher, grease splattered in the microwave.  Dust on all the shelves.  At first we thought we could maybe do a quick dust job ourselves, but the more we looked around, the more grime we found.  So I requested a refund (only got a partial one), and we decided to look for a hotel instead.  The host was rude about it.  

Here's the kicker guys.  I was going to leave a review to let other people know that the place was not actually clean, but then I realized that your review is not published on AirBnB until or unless the host decides to review you as a guest.  So basically I could write a negative review, and the host could just decide not to publish it.  Which explains why all the available reviews claimed "sparkling clean" when it was clearly not sparkling clean.

Let's just say I don't trust AirBnb anymore.

Update: Did a little more research, and it looks like only the HOST will not be able to see your comments until after they review you?  If so, that's much better.  The wording in the AirBnB emails is confusing.

A Lovely Gulf Coast Vacation Anyway

Once we left the nasty AirBnB, (and once I got antibiotics for an ear/throat infection that developed while we were down there - another long story), we actually had a really wonderful trip!  We enjoyed a really nice hotel in Houston for a great last-minute deal, saw a movie at one of the theaters that was open in Houston, went back to a hotel in Galveston as soon as one opened up, and spent a ton of time at the beach.  I even finally figured out how to handle my curly hair in the humidity on this trip (the trick is to not try to straighten it, and just not care at all).  It was so fun and refreshing to go somewhere that felt almost normal, and I was sorry to go home.  I'll share more pictures and all the details in another post soon.



A Birthday Fishing Trip And Date

One thing that is not cancelled is birthdays!  And mine is in June.  We threw around a few ideas for things to do on my birthday, and we finally settled on going fishing.  I love going fishing, and feel like I could really get into it if we had more time/resources.  As it is now, we almost never catch anything because 1) the fishing is not that amazing in our state unless you have a boat, and 2) we have a bunch of noisy little kids with us every time.  But I think the experience of getting outside and enjoying nature is what makes it fun.  







We still really want to catch a fish sometime though.  I think we are going to try another state park soon that has a smaller pond with fish in it.  The fish in this lake were out the in the deeper water where our lines wouldn't reach.  We saw them jumping a couple times.  Or maybe we should just invest in a pair of waders so we can get out there further.  We will catch a fish someday.

Derek also took me on a birthday date!  We went mini-golfing, and then got take-out and ate it in a park while the sun was going down. It was lovely!



Back To Church And Playgrounds

Another great development is that our church was finally allowed to reopen.  It's different than normal, but it's just so good to be with other believers and worship together in person again.  Online church is fine in a pinch, but I strongly believe it's not a substitute for meeting with other Christians in person.  There's a reason the Bible says not to forsake the gathering together with other believers.  Anyway, that's been a nice bit of pseudo-normalcy lately.

Playgrounds also opened this month, so we've been taking advantage!

Nature Hikes

It's been interesting and kind of fun to me to see how everything being closed has allowed people to get back out into nature a little more.  During the little kids' nap time the other day, I took the big three on a nature hike, and there was so many people on the trail!  But I love how even when nature is a bit more crowded than usual, there is still so much space for peace and quiet and exploring.  Seriously guys, try to get outside more.  Also, state parks are hidden gems.





Summer Planning

Every year I pull out a calendar and a list of things we want to do during the summer, and I start plugging things in.  I have a process, because I want to make sure all of the things we most want to do during the warm months actually happen!  I wrote all about my planning process (including some ideas for stuff to do this year) on Rooted Family if you're interested.

Anyway, I have my list of ideas gathered (it took a little more research this year than normal), and sitting down to plug my ideas into the calendar is on the to-do list today.  I really believe that simple little bits of fun can really make the summer memorable.  I started freezing koolaid ice cubes this week so I could make the kids colorful summer drinks (just add Sprite), and it turned out really well.


The kids were so excited when I ave them the drinks.  The girls adorably clinked their glasses together and said "Cheers!"  And Wyatt actually wrote me a card to thank me for the summer treat.  That whole "the way to a boy's heart is through his stomach" thing is a cliche for a reason.  They made my day.



That's pretty much everything we've been up to lately!  Keep an eye out for a vacation post, coming up soon!  

And don't forget to read my post on planning an epic summer on Rooted, especially if you are discouraged about the summer not feeling normal.  You can still make it memory-filled, even in this weird time.


A Letter To My Six Year Old




My Dear Clyde,

Here we are, your sixth birthday!  I thought today a lot about the day you were born.  Your dad was halfway across the state, and I had spent half the night throwing up and woke up queasy, before the contractions set in.  I wasn't expecting your birth that day - I spent the morning crunching tiny bits of ice to help with nausea, but before dinner time, you were in my arms.  I cried when I first saw you, said you were so handsome.  And you still are, but now when I look at you, instead of a handsome, scrunchy baby face, I see a handsome little boy.  Where did that baby boy go?



This year has been so much fun with you.  This year you learned to ride a bike.  You got really interested in legos, and built an entire spaceship by yourself, not to mention "cloud pushers" and other inventive planes.  You have continued to be interested in trains and planes, but after our Kennedy Space Center trip, spaceships have been added to your list of favorite vehicles.

Every time I ask, you give me the biggest hug, trying to squeeze all the air out of me.  You come up to me with your little quirked grin and tell me I'm the best mom ever, or ask with faux casualness if you can have a snack.  On family movie nights you try to squeeze yourself right next to me and your dad before your siblings notice.

You find particular joy in "tricking" us or getting us to laugh.  My favorite quote from you this year came when I casually asked where Gwen was. "I ate her," you replied, seriously and not missing a beat, and when I looked up your eyes were twinkling and you laughed.



You often tell me you love our "school" Bible time, and I can tell so much of what we are learning from God's word is soaking in.  Your little heart is open to the Lord, and it is a joy to me to see that.  There is nothing I hope more for you, my boy, than to know Jesus and to love and serve Him with your whole heart.

Sometimes you come into our room in the middle of the night.  "I had a bad dream," you'll whisper, and when I ask what it was about, you always say "a dinosaur".  I often wonder if you really have that many dinosaur dreams, or if you've just figured out that claiming a dinosaur dream lets you sleep on the floor next to our bed.

I rub your hair and give in every time, not because I'm so tired, but because I really don't mind having you camped out on the floor next to me.  Someday you won't come in the room in the middle of the night anymore.  Someday dinosaur dreams will be gone forever, and I won't get to see your angelic little boy face dreaming by my feet when I get out of bed in the morning.

No, I don't mind.  I like having you close to me, my sweet boy.  You are growing up so fast.  You are so mischievous and fun, and you also have such a soft, sweet heart.  Even as you grow up, year after year, I hope you keep that always.



Happiest of birthdays, my adorable SIX year old boy!  No matter how big you get, you'll always be my baby.  I love you more than words can say, Clyde Boy.

Love,
Mama

Halfway Through (Happy Birthday To My Oldest)



My Dear Wyatt,

Buddy, you are nine years old!  I can hardly believe how much you have grown this year.  I looked at you the other day and saw with fresh eyes how tall you have gotten.  

You are all boy, and a smart, thoughtful boy too. I frequently find you tucked away by yourself in your room, reading a book about birds, or nature, or science experiments, or history.  Sometimes you'll read something in a book that you want to try, and you'll emerge with tons of ideas spilling out.  You'll go track down the supplies you need and start bringing your ideas to life.  Right now you are anxious for spring, when you can use your new bike lights (which you got for Christmas) to ride your bike when it's dark.  On your birthday list this year is an "adventure kit" (containing binoculars, a compass, and a flashlight, for all your birding adventures), a new watch, and Audobon bird stuffed animals with authentic sound effects.  




I love how adventurous you are when you get a new idea in your head, but I can still tell when you get nervous in new situations by the way you hang back next to me.  Sometimes if something is bothering you, you'll come and sit by me a while until I gradually get it out of you.  You need me less and less these days, so I have to hang on to the little ways that I can help you.

You are a funny kid, and you are constantly making your sibling laugh with your silly stories and jokes.  You are an organizer of games, especially imagination games, and I love to see the stories you all come up with together.  They all look up to you so much.  




I love your interest for so many subjects and how curious you are about the world, but I love even more how I see you growing in your faith.  You have made a very specific effort to start reading the Bible every day, and you just made it through the book of Genesis.  It gives my heart so much joy that in all your learning, you are making learning about the Lord a priority.  

Ten years is an exciting year for kids since they hit the double-digits, but nine is a landmark year for me as your mom.  This year you are halfway through your childhood. I find myself looking back on the last nine years with tears in my eyes, wondering where it all went.  But I'm looking ahead to the next nine years with excitement, because I am so proud of the young man you are becoming.  I can't wait to see what the future holds for you, my darling boy.  I couldn't ask for a more wonderful boy who made me a mama.  I love you more than every feather on every bird in the world.




Love,
Mama


Two Years Of Sweetness



My Sweet Georgiana Bea,

My darling girl, I can't believe it's been two years since I first held you in my arms!  What a privilege it has been for the last two years to be your mama - to watch you grow and learn what makes you unique.

At two years old now, you are a such a cutie.  My favorite thing about you at this age is the way you say "mmm-hmm"or "uh-huh" to every question we ask you - we can gage what you actually mean by how enthusiastic your second syllable is though.  If you are unsure or just okay with it, it's a slow, thoughtful "mmm-hmm."  If it's exactly the thing you want, it's an enthusiastic "mmm-HMMM!".  Either way, it is ridiculously cute.  You also sometimes insert an "um" before launching off into one of your non-sensical (to us) baby sentences, and it melts my heart and makes me laugh! You say "dank-oo" (thank you) at every opportunity. You aggressively shout "Byyyyeee!" whenever anyone leaves.

You are also starting to know your own mind, and occasionally we'll get an enthusiastic "no!" to a question.  However, it's not your favorite word as it is for some two year olds.  You are, in general, an agreeable little thing.

The way you run right now is another of my favorite things about you.  When you are trying to catch up to your siblings, you take off, but you look like a Weeble - you wobble, but you don't fall down.  You bounce from side to side as your little legs carry you as fast as you can go.  Someday when you are old enough to watch Monsters Inc, I'll point out the way the little cartoon girl runs in that movie.  You look just like that.

Speaking of your siblings, you are constantly chasing them around, trying to do whatever they are doing.  Sometimes they get you laughing, and your sweet little chortle and happy squeals fill the house.  You like to be tickled, and we love to tickle you because your laugh is so cute.

You are probably my most social two year old.  Every time you meet someone new that you like, you'll grin at them and charm them until they are completely smitten with you.  However, you are still most comfortable when I am within sight.  If I have to drop you off somewhere you will cry and reach for me.

I've stretched you far too long on the bottle - your "bah-whoa", as you call it.  It's mainly because letting you have a little milk in a bottle before nap time is still the best way to get some snuggles with you.  You'll fall asleep in my arms, your blanket curled in your fingers next to your face.  Your chubby cheeks relax and I can see how long your eyelashes are as you breathe quietly in your sleep.

Your smile though is the thing I think about first when I think of you.  You have two adorable dimples, one in each cheek, and they just make my heart squeeze each time I see them.  When you are especially happy you give me your biggest grin - cheeks stretching and eyes squinting until they are closed.  Even if I'm having a hard moment, I can't help but laugh when I see how happy you are.

Your personality is delightful and sweet at this age.  You love to "help" with things, and you are especially caring when you think someone is sad or hurt.  You'll hand me things that you think I need with a cheerful "here-go!".  If I stub my toe, you'll shout out "oh-tay, Mom-mee?"  Sometimes if I am distracted or stressed, you'll walk over to me with your little lips pressed together, saying "mmmm" - the signal for a kiss.  I hold your little face in my hands and kiss your nose, and everything is instantly better.

Georgie Bea, when you were born two years ago I was so thankful to hold you in my arms.  After wishing for a fifth baby, and then carrying you for nine months, I felt so peaceful and grateful when I finally got to look into your tiny eyes.  The Lord knew the desires of my heart, and He gave me you.  I still feel that way when I look at you. What a gift it is to get to be your mama.

I love you forever, Sweet Girl.  Happiest 2nd Birthday, Darling!

Love Always,

Mama






A Delightful Eight Years



(Note: I was supposed to post this on Saturday, but oy, it's been a long time since I had such  jam-packed weekend!  My oldest actually turned eight back in February, but I am taking my month of memory-keeping to catch up on birthday letters to my kids.  So here is Wyatt's.)

Wyatt Boy,

I can't believe you are eight years old.  I remember when I first held you in my arms.  I couldn't stop the tears because it was surreal to me that you were here.  I didn't ever want you to grow up then, and I still kind of don't.  But now here we are, eight years later, and what a delightful eight years if has been!

Your eighth year was so fun for me as your mom.  Your reading skills exploded, and I find you with your nose in a book constantly.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am by this.  I love that you want to learn and read!  You are a wealth of information about your favorite topics - animals, and especially birds.  You have really opened up that interest for our whole family, and we've gone on various birding expeditions in the last year because of your inspiration.  It's a joy to me to watch you learn something new or see some animal or bird "in the wild".  Your face lights up, and you talk about it for days afterward. 



Speaking of talking, I love when we get some one on one time together and I can hear all about what fills that smart brain of yours.  Your theories and thought processes are so interesting to me, but you are always willing to learn when I tell you a new bit of information.  I am so honored for the opportunity to be your mom and teach you anything - I get the feeling that I'll learn alot from you my whole life!  I am there for it, my sweet boy.

As of right now, you want to be a scientist when you grow up and discover new species in the Amazon.  Of course, the specifics of what kind of scientist and where you want to go change frequently, but I have no doubt you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  I have never met a little boy before you who was so good at gathering information and remembering it, or who had such a determined interest in something, and I love that about you.

The last year with you was also when I really got to see what a great big brother you are.   You are older now and able to do more on your own, but you take time to slow down to help and explain to your little siblings.  I think you were made to be the oldest in a big family.  Your sense of humor has been developing a lot this year too, and you crack your siblings up frequently!

You have started reading the Bible by yourself, and you persevere even when it's a struggle for you.  You make connections between different information you encounter and how it lines up with what you know to be true from God's word, and I love to see you practicing that skill so young.  Your love for the Lord and for His truth is something that delights me most of all.  I pray for you every day, that you would continue to grow in your love and knowledge of Him.

It is a privilege to be your mom, to watch you grow in knowledge, and to watch your faith grow too.  So often I am afraid I am not up to the task, but one thing you are wonderful at is giving me grace and hug.  You are a blessing to me, my delightful eight-year-old boy!  I don't really want you to grow any more, but if the last eight years are any indication...I think the next eight years are gong to be even more of a delight.  I can't wait to watch you grow up, and I'm glad I get to be the one who is your mama.

I love you always, Wyatt!

-Mama

 (This picture was taken close to his birthday, and I just realized how much more grown up he looks just over the last eight months!)

Four Years Of Sunshine



Note: I have written each of my kids a birthday letter and shared it here for years, but this year I am behind...no better month to catch up than memory-keeping month, right?  So I'm going to share one of my kids' birthday letters each week until we are caught up!

Dear Clarice,

Darling, you are four years old!  The last year went by so fast, and it was a highly adorable year.

You have grown and changed so much between three and four.  This year will forever be marked in my memory as the year when we arrived home to our still new-to-us house at night, and you looked out the dark car windows and declared nervously "Mama, I sceered a' behrs."

("Mama, I'm scared of bears," if you need a translation.)

It was achingly cute, and your dad and I repeated it whenever we needed a smile.  Last year you still had something of a baby lilt to your sentences, and now you are sounding more like a big girl.  Your voice is still tiny and cute though, and you hardly speak without smiling.  Your face has lost some of it's baby roundness.

Your favorite clothes to wear right now are tutus and any items with sparkles.  You are about to start a ballet class, and you are so excited.  You've been practicing your ballet moves ever since your big sister took a class last year, and your little motions are so graceful.  I can't wait to see you all dressed and with your ballerina bun.  You're going to love it!

Your favorite toy is still your "Baby", the pink bear you have carried with you since you were an infant.  I found a back-up last year, the same bear only a white one.  You found it in my closet one day and ran up to me with your face all lit up.  "Mama, it's a white Baby!"  Now you carry around "Pink Baby" and "White Baby" everywhere (even though White Baby isn't exactly white anymore).  But I notice that Baby is with you less often than it used to be.

You started drawing in earnest this year, and your attempts at drawing our family are my favorite.  We are a jumble of round heads and stick arms and legs, with big smiles drawn on.  In one version, your brother is jumping on Daddy's head.  Sometimes you draw a picture of me and you together, and it melts my heart.

You are my child with the biggest emotions.  You either give me your brightest smile, or you come to me with the saddest little tears in your eyes.  When you are sad and I pick you up, you still curl into my lap, and I remember what it was like to hold you when you were brand-new.  I kiss your little wet cheeks and hold you until that sunshine smile comes back to your face, and it never takes long.

You are a joy, my sunshine girl with sky blue eyes and golden hair.  I thank the Lord every day that He made you mine.  You are a gift to me, Little One.  I have loved you at three, and I can't wait to see what new fun four will bring!  I am blessed that I get to be the one to watch you grow.

I love you always!


Mama




Birthday Girl


Dear Georgie Bea,

A year ago, I was feeling completely miserable.  I didn't think you'd be coming any time soon, but I didn't see how I could endure weeks more with the way my back was aching.

Around dinnertime I realized that maybe I was feeling so awful because you were going to surprise me with an early entrance - and a few hours later, we saw your sweet face!





I was not expecting you to arrive early, but it was such a blessing!  And that has been your story from the start, darling.  An unexpected blessing.  It was unexpected to see that positive pregnancy test.  It was unexpected that you would arrive when you did.  It was unexpected that you'd have such a wonderfully sweet temperament.




I look at you now, and you stare back at my with your deep brown eyes and give me a dimpled grin.  I love the way your hair curls in the back, just like your daddy's.  I love how you "talk" to me and act disappointed until I reply.  I love how you stand up in your crib and bounce up and down when I walk into the room.





I didn't know we'd have a fifth baby, but there was a small part in the corner of my heart that dared to wish for you.  And the Lord saw that, and blessed me beyond what I expected.  You are my little dream baby, and I can't imagine not having you here.  I'm so glad the Lord gave you to me.







I will love you and like you forever, Georgiana.  Happy day, Birthday Girl!

Love Always,

Mama

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