Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday, Bella Ann

Dear Bella,

I feel completely blessed to spend the entire day with you on your 6th birthday!  Today was a Tuesday, but not any Tuesday. I took the day off from work to be with you.  Mrs. Moore had planned a field trip to the McWane Center.  How cool is it that one of your kindergarten field trips got to be on your birthday!?! You rode the bus and I met you there. You enjoyed looking at each of the stations.  Daddy and I took you and Lucy there 2 years ago, you were 3 and sister was 1.  Right before you started kindergarten, daddy and I decided to take a family trip to Chattanooga.  We did lots of fun things on that camping trip, one thing that stands out is that we visited the Creative Discovery Museum.  You and Lucy loved it.  You really enjoyed the McWane Center today too.  You took your time at each little station.  You didn't bounce quickly between it all.  We watched an IMAX movie together.  You picked us out a seat on the front row.  We held hands most of the 20 minute movie.  I tried hard to soak you up in little moments today.  Daddy had planned on meeting us for lunch, but last minute he couldn't.  We enjoyed a lunch at Cheesecake Factory with sweet friends.  After looking at the cooler full of desserts, you went with a Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake.  After the Happy Birthday song and dessert, we went to Let's Play- a large, fun indoor playground.  We left around 4pm to get Lucy.  It is rare that I just spend time with you and not you and Lucy.  I love when we are all 4 together, but today was good.  Once we got home, Lucy and I made you a birthday cake while you watched the movie Elf.  We lit 6 candles and sang Happy Birthday yet again.  You, daddy, Lucy and I danced in the living room before a late bedtime and when your head finally hit your pillow, you feel asleep fast.  I hope you are in a happy, sweet dreamland now.  I told you where in the living room we placed a rocking chair to rock you as a newborn, right between the fireplace and Christmas tree.  I posted a picture this morning of you when your skin was brand new and you smelled of baby lotion and spit up.  

I tell ya, I miss those brand new snuggling, sweet, tender moments of when I was a new mommy...winging it with you.  Figuring out each day as best I could.  I'll be honest, I am still doing that today. Just winging it best I can. Figuring out how to be a good mama, a good wife, be good at my career & full time job, how to handle you when you respond overly sensitive to something simple, what to say when you tell me that you hate you can only have 1 boyfriend "because there are so many sweet and handsome boys" at your school, how to be patient when you are trying to read new words and you get distracted easily or you can't remember the word that we said 15 seconds earlier.  Bella Ann, you are teaching me how to parent, just as much as I am trying to teach you about life. I am sorry.  I will sometimes fail and will have moments of frustration and anger.  I will not always make the right calls and sometimes I will hurt your feelings.  But I promise that I will try to make decisions that is in your best interest and decisions that will help mold you into the person that God will want you to be.  Hang in there honey, we can learn these lessons together.  
To my first-born, I love you wholeheartedly.

Biggies over the last year...

  • you learned how to braid
  • you started kindergarten
  • you started gymnastics
  • you lost your bottom 2 teeth
  • you can ride your bicycle with no training wheels
  • you can swim completely independent (well I think you were doing this at 4, but you are improving so much each year.) 
  • you went on your 1st Disney World trip (and loved every minute of it!)

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday, Lucy Lee

Dear Lovely Lucy,
Today you are "fourve" as you say.  You are so funny and one big ball of unexpected spunk.  And I love every ounce of you.  A few months ago when the new school year started, you became one of the "big kids" at Mrs Betty's.  You have daily lessons and have started drawing pictures of your family, which consist of 4 huge round heads and 2 stick legs coming out of each of our heads, the only difference is that you draw us girls with long hair & pink/purple clothes...daddy gets a red shirt because you know that's his favorite color.  Speaking of daddy, you remind him almost daily that he is your "best friend".  A few weeks ago when we were laying in our bed, you told your daddy that you loved him up to "puppy heaven", then you looked at me and told me that you loved me up to the house.  You are pretty sure that your daddy hung the moon and I'm just here to get you ready in the mornings. I am a little jealous of the bond you two share, but I still love you into the depths of my soul and I am sure you love me too.  

Your sister might boss you around some...but not much!  You tell it like it is and those facial expressions keep us giggling! You play well with others, but don't NEED others to keep you entertained, you are just as happy playing in your own little world.  You are not a fan of playing outside yet. When daddy or I try to get you to play outside on a beautiful day, unless we are right there with you, you are back inside!  Your favorite cartoon is 'Little Einstein'.  

You recently declared that your favorite color is purple.  For your birthday are asking for purple cowgirl boots.  You and your sister are having a big birthday bash together this year & have agreed on a Brave theme.  You both love how awesome Merida is with her bow and arrow!  

When I put you to bed at night you like for us to talk about memories from our Disney world trip we took together at the beginning of this year.  

Lucy, you are wonderful, just as you are!  I hope that you never lose that ability to be quick witted and spunky.  I love that you still want me to hold you on my hip sometimes. I can't talk about you no longer being a baby...I will begin to cry. I make you promise to me that no matter what age you are that you'll always be my baby. You just grin big, nod your head yes and hug me.  That's all I need.  Please always do that when I remind you that you are my baby...it'll be our little code phrase that your mama needs your lovin to get me through tough moments.  

Today we celebrate you and how lovely you are.

Happy birthday. I love you.
7 weeks old
Twirling with Cinderella
While at Disney you were chosen to play Chip in the Beauty and the Beast play
You dancing with your best friend in the lobby of the Grand Floridian
{{You should know that your daddy was in heaven while he felt the weight of you and your tiny pink, sparkling shoes on his feet and that perfect face looking up at him}}


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Monday, March 2, 2015

our little disney video

Whether you're 10, 30 or 50 years old, most people enjoy watching their family's home videos.  Smart phones make it easier than ever to make little short videos. It's the part where you need to MAKE SOMETHING out of all those little clips that often gets pushed to the side. When we went to Disney World, I knew I wanted to make this little video with pictures and video clips to remember how their eyes lit up, their sweet voices and excitement.  I wanted to remember each fun detail. This vacation was nothing less that a blessing to our family.

Here's a glimpse of our magical Disney Vacation....

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

our magical family trip to Disney World

Jacob and I had an amazing honeymoon at Disney World.  When we were there all those years ago, we knew we would go again when we had a family of our own.  Fast forward 8 years and the day came and it was even more magical experiencing it with our girls.  By the end of the vacation they thought they were real princesses and was asking strangers if they wanted to take pictures with them. Of course we played along, because they ARE princesses to us.

I planned this vacation for a year. We stayed 7 nights at Fort Wilderness in our camper.  We loved it.  We love our camper!  It has a full kitchen and 2 bedrooms.  Fact is: we would've had to pay big bucks to stay in a resort with a kitchen and 2 bedrooms!  We knew we wanted do the Disney Dining plan and we were able to eat at some amazing restaurants and saved money by doing the dining plan. Our sit-n-stand stroller was a life saver!  We had 7 day park-hopper tickets. We did the Memory Maker pictures (totally worth it). For our girl's birthdays and Christmas we requested that instead of toys that they give our girls gift cards to be used for their souvenirs and special things, like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. We loved using our magic bands.  I was a little worried that the girls would mess with them and try to take them off, but the never did.  I made all my fast pass selections before we went.  I tried choosing the best/longest rides for them.  We didn't wait more than about 20 minutes for rides that we did not have fast pass reservations on.  January is known for the lowest crowds and one of the main reasons we chose to go then. However there was quite a bit of construction.  Magic Kingdom-they are expanding the area right in front of the castle, Animal Kingdom-they were doing work around the Tree of Life, Hollywood Studios-they were removing the Sourer's Hat.  The girls were 3 and 5 years old.  It was a great age to take them!

Day 1: I worked 1/2 day and we left around 3pm.  We drove a little more than 1/2 way and slept in our camper at a rest area.

Day 2: We couldn't check in until 1pm, so we took our time waking up and eating breakfast. We arrived at Disney around 12:30. Nana, Papa and Aunt T stayed at Port Orleans Riverside Resort.  We got settled in and headed to Epcot. We spent the evening walking around the world and excited as could be!  We ate a quick service meal at Sunshine Seasons. Bella & Lucy got fans from Japan.  They even wrote their names in Japanese on the side. We enjoyed a big pretzel while waiting for Illuminations.  
Magical Moment of the Day: Bella loved riding Soarin'....she rode it twice.  Poor little Lucy was too short to ride, we really wanted to sneak her on!

Day 3: This was our biggest day!  We got up before the sun came up.  During the sunrise we rode the ferry to the Contemporary Resort and ate breakfast at Chef Mickey's.

 Then we rode the monorail to the Magic Kingdom.  Where we meet lots of princesses, rode rides & ate lunch at the newest Be Our Guest.
 After lunch we headed back to Fort Wilderness & we all took about a 2 hour nap!  Then we hit the ferry back to Magic Kingdom.  The afternoon was spent meeting more princesses, rides, Enchanted Tales with Belle.  The girls loved the Electrical Parade and the magical Wishes Firework's show.
Magical Moment of the Day:  The girls rode their 1st rollarcoaster: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!  It was so much fun doing this with them.  They loved it!  We would've rode it over & over but since this is Magic Kingdom's newest ride, it was the longest wait.  Thankfully we used a fast pass when we did ride it. 

 Day 4: Animal Kingdom!  Our 1st ride was Kilimanjaro Safari and it did not disappoint!  We enjoyed lunch at Tusker House.  It was one of my favorites.  The dessert bar was aMaZiNg!!!  We loved watching the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo the musical!
We headed back to the resort, the girls enjoyed the pool and water play area (January~~~crazy!)
Magical Moment of the Day: We rode on another breathtaking sunset ferry ride to the Polynesian resort, where we enjoyed dinner at O'hana.  It is a delicious Hawaiian themed restaurant.  
After dinner we explored Downtown Disney. It was so cool, all the different things they have to do there. It was also under construction as its being transformed into "Disney Springs". 

 Day 5:  We went to Hollywood Studios this day.  We loved Toy Story Mania, Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Jacob's favorite-For the 1st time in Forever: Frozen Sing-Along.  For real, one of the guys telling the Arrendale's story was hilarious.  Jacob loved it!  We ate dinner at the Sci-Fi Dine In. Then Fantasmic was fantastic!  We sat front row & was so into it!
Magical Moment of the Day:  Bella nervously rode the Tower of Terror and LOVED IT!

Day 6: took us back to Magic Kingdom.  
 The girls used a huge chunk of their gift cards on the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.  They wore their own dresses and chose their hair style and color eye shadow and nail colors.  In their little minds...they were now REAL PRINCESSES!
Afterward they went to another area for their "photo shoot".  It was hilarious how they posed them.  It's totally reminded me of glamour shots back in the day!
When we left it was the cutest thing...Bella was in the stroller waving and blowing kisses as if she was in her own little princess parade.  It was spectacular to see her shining!
Magical Moment of the Day: We left Magic Kingdom and went to the Grand Floridian to eat dinner at 1900 Park Fare.  While waiting in the grand lobby, there was a jazz band playing.  Jacob asked Lucy if she wanted to dance.  She accepted.  She stood on his feet and the 2 of them spun around and swayed from side to side.  No one else was dancing, but them. I knew he could've cared less what anyone else was thinking. He was in paradise with his youngest love as they danced.  It completely melted my heart.  Later Jacob and I were talking and he was saying how precious it was to have that sweet little face smiling up at him.  I think that is a mental picture that he will never forget as long as he lives.  People often talk about the best age to take their kids to disney & base it off if the child will remember it or not.  Whether our kids remember these moments or not... Jacob and I will never forget them!

Day 7: We went went back to Epcot for breakfast at Akershus.  It was wonderful...ALL the princesses were there and the girls got to talk with each of them again.  Bella and Jacob rode Soarin again while (too short) Lucy and I enjoyed a little ice cream.  They both had their faces painted. Then we went to Downtown Disney, explored a bit...ate a churro or 3.
Magical Moment of the Day: Was when we went back to Magic Kingdom that night.  I love fireworks....I think my heart smiles when I am near them.  I love the boom, the way the sky lights up, the way the glitter falls from the sky.  So when I learned of the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party, I booked reservations...and of course I loved it.  

Day 8: Our last day.  We hit up Hollywood Studios.  Jacob and I really enjoyed the era that you were taken back to at Hollywood Studios.  We all enjoyed Beauty and the Beast-Live on Stage.  We ate lunch at Hollywood and Vine with all our Disney Jr friends.  The threat of rain was close, so we slowly headed back to Ft Wilderness.  It never rained so we explored the campground.  It was huge.  Horse and carriage rides, restaurants and beach area made it the nicest campground we've ever been to.  
Notice Bella's "Rapunzel's hair"?  (yes it is a scarf)
Magical Moment of the Day: when I realized our vacation was over, sure I was disappointed, but I was also so very grateful for the experience.  This long trip to Disney was pricey, but worth every penny that we spent!  We tried very hard to minimize distractions-mainly on our phones.  We tried to put them away (except when checking on my 3 month old nephew who was hospitalized for RSV while we were gone).  Other than checking on him and texting my family, we avoided Facebook and other social media so we could soak up every moment of this opportunity.  To see our girls smile...it was worth the planning and money!  I'm so glad we went!  Jacob and I have already decided that we might be heading back in about 5 years!  

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