Fiercely Independent Snuggle Bug

Twix monitoredYesterday, Twix turned THREE! Can you even believe it? To look at her now, you’d never know she was three weeks early. Today, she is a happy, healthy almost preschooler who teeters between fierce independence and being a big snuggle bug.

Following in her sister’s footsteps, Twix is a precocious child that never ceases to amaze me. Her problem-solving skills and deductive reasoning are almost scary. As smart as Peanut is, I believe Twix just might supersede her.

She is perpetual motion from the time she hits the door at 7:50am. Except for (mercifully) her afternoon nap, our days are filled with continual conversation that mainly center around answering her “Why?” questions. She loves everything Dora and putting things together….from Legos to blocks to assembling geometric shapes into different forms. She is mastering preschool academic skills with her Leapstart book and calls it her “laptop.”

twix-3yrs

Mama (aka The Recruiter), Peanut, Nana and Papa are her world right now. We are here to support, comfort, encourage, teach and, yes, discipline during these years that have been filled with more than a few changes. From the anxious newborn nights when she slept on a bili blanket to her first toddler steps, she knew we were there. From those unsteady first steps, she’s growing into a confident preschooler with a “there-is-no-place-I-can’t-climb-to” attitude. Really, nothing is safe. And don’t even think about leaving her alone for more than…oh, about two minutes.

Memories in the making. Our home is full of them. And their significance is not lost on us, even when the days seem impossibly long waiting for The Recruiter to finish with work. Entrepreneur and I know we’re blessed to have this opportunity to be such an integral part of Peanut and Twix’s lives. Nobody knows what the future holds, so we really try and take those good and not-so-good days and file them away under the heading of “thankful for every moment”….even the bad ones! With Entrepreneur’s cancer scare in 2014, we are keenly aware of how precious these moments are. I know it sounds fatalistic, but we are praying, if cancer returns, it won’t be until all our grands are old enough to really remember just how special and strong this bond is between us.

So, Happy Birth Day Twix! May you continue to become fiercely independent, yet always have a snuggle bug heart. Nana and Papa love you to the moon….and back!

 

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Birthday Reflections

The Investigator’s birthday is today! I’ve written about everything there is to write about that day in previous posts and was trying to come up with a new angle for this year.

And I found it.

2 month-3 gen 72

This is three generations of almost 2 month old babies…beginning with moi at around 2 months. The next one is my firstborn, The Investigator, at 7 weeks. The third one is her firstborn, Peanut, around 7-8 weeks and fourth is Twix, at 6-7 weeks.

I think the eyes have it!

It’s a low-key birthday this year. Of course she received gifts and the standard Facebook well wishes. Overall, it’s been a quiet day so far, and she seems to be a bit more introspective this year as comes to the end of her twenties. There’s been a lot of changes in the past year and new chapters are opening up in her life. In a few weeks, she’ll return to work when her two and a half month maternity leave ends.

As I looked through the album for a photo of her at 7 weeks, I have no idea how the time slipped by so fast.

A child’s birthday is a flurry of excitement and party planning. Except for milestone birthdays, there’s less hoopla for adult birthdays. But, that doesn’t diminish what a parent feels for their child on the day of their birth, not matter what the age.

Every birthday is worthy of celebration…whether it be big or small. To commemorate the day your child arrived on this earth is always reason enough to celebrate. And I hope she feels the same way. It’s more than *just another day,* and I hope she understands that her birth day is an opportunity to reflect on where she’s been….and to ahead to where she’s going in the future. That, even though there isn’t a huge outward party this year, there is still a reason to celebrate…everything life has given her and the opportunity to shape what her future will become.

So, a very Happy Birth Day to my firstborn! Now that you have children of your own, you begin to understand what I mean when I say I love you more than you’ll every know!

 God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.
~Voltaire

 

December Photo Challenge: Festive

photo blog challenge

Festive is the theme for PJ’s December photo challenge. And I wasn’t short on ideas. Granted, they are fairly traditional, but I hope you like them.

Christmas lights always look festive to me regardless of the weather.festive 1

This ornament is one from my childhood. My sister has three and I have three. Not sure how I’m divvying mine up between my TWO daughters when I’m no longer here but that’s for them to figure out.
festive 2

The above ornament can be found on my festive Christmas tree, which will be up until the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th….or until I get the motivation to tear it apart and take it down. Notice the festive handmade decoration, courtesy of five-year-old Peanut.
festive 3

You simply can.not deny this is festivity…personified.
.festive 4

And now, the pièce de résistance….the Magic Tree. Every year this bare tree is transformed with 15,000 incan­des­cent mini lights, 15,000 LED lights and 7,500 color changing LED lights by a local man who calls himself Will Treelighter.  For you math magicians, that’s more than 37,500 lights. Wrapping the tree in lights takes about 40 hours, and Mr. Treelighter does it during the off hours from his day job. He calls it a a sense­less act of beauty.

magic tree 2011-1

But wait…there’s more! A bonus entry because, technically, the *festive* season lasts until January 6th.

December is also the month for birthdays in our family. Peanut’s big brother, The Golfer and Mom all celebrated another year. While we do try and separate birthdays from Christmas, inevitably the lines sometime get a little blurred. But they didn’t ask to be born in the middle of the holiday hoopla, so we do our best to make them feel like Christmas isn’t running over them.
birthday collage

PJ has some other festive links over at A ‘lil Hoohaa. Check them out!

I hope everyone has festive—but safe—New Year’s celebrations.

And yes, this is the daily double post for Tuesday, Dec. 31st. A very busy meme day in the blogosphere.

A special lady turns 80!

Mom turns 80 years old this year. She bought a new dress for the occasion.

birthday candles

And this is the new face of 80.
birthday girl

It was all she could do to relax and let others take care of the day’s preparation and execution. She’s a planner by nature and I think it almost drove her crazy not to be in the thick of the organization. The only stipulation was she didn’t want any Christmas decorations or colors. Having a “Christmas-time birthday” presents challenges every year. Just ask her birthday month twin, The Golfer. With that in mind, we chose turquoise (December’s birthstone color) and white, with silver accents here and there.

So, we began planning back in August….because available locations are snapped up quickly in December. The guest list totaled a modest 40 people. Very do-able. Most of them over the age of 70. And, of course, family.

birthday food  birthday candy

It wasn’t an overly fancy soirée, but I believe everyone had a nice time. And it proved to be quite the wine-drinking crowd!

It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that she’s 80 years old. An avid golfer, she also plays bridge and is active in her church. She sews, knits and crochets….mainly for family. If I’m half as active at 80, I’ll be a happy girl.

birthday-family

It seemed only fitting we get a group shot of the entire clan to commemorate the day. I imagine this is one of the last times we’ll all be in the same town at the same time. Children are growing up and life will soon blow them all to parts unknown. But 80 is a big deal so efforts were made to make sure it happened.

Mom-red dress copyMom was born during the Great Depression. Money was scarce and her family lived frugally as most incomes were slashed by 40% in those days. The average life expectancy of a woman in the 1930s was only 61 years. For the longest time I couldn’t understand why she didn’t share my interest in antiques and collectibles. But then it dawned on me she didn’t share my fascination of these things as quaint and unique. They were everyday items she might prefer to forget rather than be reminded of a challenging childhood.

I’m not sure any of us can fully understand what life was like during the 1930s. I find it amazing that out of the era marked by the Great Depression and Dust Bowl, our country rose above it all and made historic contributions such as the building of the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center. Jazz and swing music skyrocketed and the Golden Age of Hollywood turned out stars such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis and Shirley Temple. The 1930s also gave us classics such as The Grapes of Wrath.

I’ve written about her ancestors HERE and HERE and as you can see, she comes from a long line of resilient people.

birthday couple

She’s 80 years young and going strong.

Happy Birth Day, Mom! We love you!

How did we get here?

How did we get from this….

Mom-Genna portrait

to this?

Peanut  and Mama

Yesterday, Peanut turned five years old. F-I-V-E!!!!! Can you believe it?

Five years ago, my oldest and her husband gave Entrepreneur and I the gift of a grandchild. And it truly is a gift. Skipping past the labor and delivery stories, it’s a day I’ll never forget. A day when a squirmy bundle of love was placed in my arms and I became Nana.

She’s been so much a part of our lives since that day. When Daddy was deployed, she came to live with us at 5 months old with her Mama. They moved back to the base just before she was two. They’re temporarily back with us now while they pursue other opportunities outside of the military.

Peanut and daddy

And it seems to have flown by. Gone are the days when she was content to sit and……okay, I lied….she never was content just to sit. From the beginning, she’s been an inquisitive child, full of curiosity and determination…determination being the operative word for FIVE.

The past year has been full of firsts and transitions. Getting used to Mama working and Daddy going to school, she’s had her own opportunity to test out that school-thing. She’s made friends and is learning about relationships outside of family. She even has a (*ahem*) BF….but we’re not going to tell Daddy. 😉

All week, we morphed the house into a Candy Land party to celebrate FIVE. (now you know why I haven’t been around lately) On Saturday, as her first friends made their way down the path through the Lollypop Woods, they spent the next two hours around more sugar than a person should be exposed to in one day. And then, we sent them home. (Bwhahahahah)

Peanut candyland 1

Peanut candyland 2

FIVE will probably be a big year. Gone are the Baby Days, and the Toddler Days are over and done with. Now we move into the Year of the Preschooler, and then it’ll seem like a dead run to High School Graduation.

FIVE will come with it’s own set of challenges. Did I mention she was a determined little girl? I don’t refer to her as our Pocket Rocket for no reason. We will be challenged to find a balance between enforcing boundaries without crushing her spirit; how to handle those overwhelming emotions without losing control…and hopefully she will learn that as well!

Peanut candyland 3

Peanut, my love, you are a blessing and I can’t imagine life without you. And when our days become difficult and challenging, my mantra will be:

A bad day with you is always better than one day without you. 

Happy Birth Day to Mama, Daddy and Peanut!

I have a first grader?

He’s six years old today. Roughly the age of a typical first grader.

tanner 7-2013

 

The funny thing is, both our daughters were also born on the 23rd day of their birth months. Weird, huh?

In many ways, he’s still just a pup. As a golden, he always has a goofy grin on his face. I swear he understands that when I put on my tennis shoes, there’s a good chance we’re going for a walk. That action usually results in him jumping around in circles doing a happy dance. I’ve had to actually hide my shoes in a bag and get in the car barefoot just so he doesn’t notice.

Tanner walk 1

 

 

 

This year he’s celebrating with two friends, Peyton and Dixie. And I’m sure they are having a party in the yard while their humans are at work.

Dixie Peyton Tanner

And we’ll probably top of the day with an extra long W-A-L-K. Who knows, I may let him hang out in the house an extra long time this evening.

tanner bed72

I really can’t top the post I wrote about him last year, so please skip on over to HERE for a recap of life with the the Tan-Man!

Happy Birthday Tanner! You adorable six-year-old pupper! You’ve come a long way.

Tanner pup

How can she be 28?

She’s 28 today; at 5:25pm to be exact. Twenty-eight!! I can hardly comprehend it…and my guess is neither can she. Although she has a family and children of her own now, she’s still…and will always be…my first baby.

Amy baby & Bandit72

I can hardly remember the time when I didn’t have children. Peanut’s Mama was my first born. At age 27, I had not a clue what I was getting into with this mommy gig. I had no idea the raw emotion that would be stirred up inside me when becoming a mom. That, regardless of how old my children are, there is the visceral, primal instinct of a mother bear when it comes to protecting them; so strong that I’d give my own life for them.

princess72

I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom when both of my daughters were young. But even though they’re grown now and I’m part of the “working world,” there’s still a tendency to want to drop everything when I hear their familiar ring tone or text alert. And worse yet, I tend to want to drop everything and call when I don’t hear from them for extended periods of time. The state of my happiness is forever tied to theirs.

balancing72  hot shot72

And I spend a lot of time these days second-guessing the decisions I made along the way. I analyze what I think I did wrong. What did I do right? After all, no one provides an instruction manual when you take home one of these blank slates from the hospital. Every misstep they make seems like a referendum on my parenting. At least it does in my mind. So much pressure to succeed! Some days I wish I could turn back the hands of time and have a few do-overs.

state golf72

It’s evident to me that we women who are raising/have raised children become part of some secret sisterhood that forever changes the way we feel about ourselves and the world. We smile and nod to each other, knowing we’ve each walked in the other’s shoes when it comes to a child’s very public meltdown. We emotionally embrace each other when hearing reports of a child that’s missing. We share the sheer joy of watching a sleeping child and marvel at this miracle we’ve been given.

akfsenior

All this all seems a bit crazy when realizing my “baby” is 28 years old and is no longer that elfish toddler or awkward teenager that needs her mother’s tender touch. But then again, if you’re part of the secret sisterhood….it doesn’t seem the least bit crazy at all.

AKF-28

Happy Birth Day! I love you! May your life’s journey be blessed.