Monday, December 09, 2013

Christmas Concert

Tonight was the Christmas Concert at school! We braved the mall on Saturday to get new dresses for A and M. This is probably as close to a Christmas Card as we are going to come this year!

Gold tights and everything. Frankie was so excited to be a part of the hustle and bustle of getting ready I am pretty sure she thought she was going to be performing as well. 

"One just for us, Mom." (melt) 

Some excited girls and their friends.

For those who don't already know, Stephens brother, David, and his lovely wife Grace moved from Denver to Raleigh this summer. It has been such a treat to have them nearby and be such a constant part of the girls daily lives. They get to do last minute things like come to a concert on a Monday night since they live about 8 minutes from our house. Frankie is mildly obsessed with her Uncle "Davee". 

Mom moment. They were singing a song about snowflakes and about how each one is special and unique and then they all dipped down and came back up holding their own snowflake pictures that they had made over their heads. I know its incredibly cheesy but seeing all those little people with their individual selves and their little snowflakes made me get all teary. Bravo Mr. Mann. Bravo. 

Ada was asked to be an angel precisely 15 minutes before school let out today. I was able to get a paparazzi shot as she marched by. 

See our little plaid angel in the front row?

Here is Margot with her precious teachers. 

Ada with her precious teacher. We are so incredibly blessed by these women and the way they pour their heart and soul into our girls. They are so diligent in their care for them and the work they do with them. It's very humbling to be partnered with such incredible people in the education of your children. 

I will leave you with this. Margot and her best friend. Trouble ya'll. Trouble. 

Sunday, December 08, 2013


It's that wonderful time of year once again when you drag your post turkey coma family out the day after Thanksgiving in search of the perfect Christmas tree. In our case we went that Saturday so we were already down one precious day with a large tree in our living room. We were ready. The girls each disappeared into the forest of possibilities and I tried not to have a panic attack fearing one of them would emerge into the parking lot without parental supervision. 

Margot found her perfect tree pretty early on. 

Ada stoically lead me to her favorite a few minutes later. She was sure it was just the right size. 

Frankie mostly ran and, more specifically, ran away.

Let's be honest Mommy is really the one who chooses the tree and as I wove my way around the 45th corner in this little winter wonderland  - I saw it. It stood out like a well dressed southern lady at a car wash. It had just the right amount of what we like to call "tree belly". Nice and round in the middle. A fat tree bordering on obese  and absolute perfection. 

Frankie was so excited she flew right out of Stephen's arms. 

The girls were happy and wiggly so after Stephen haggled the guy down a whole 3 dollars on the price we strapped that little porker to top of our car and joined the throngs of others on the roads heading home with their prizes like some happy family of man Christmas brotherhood. 

We have some traditions that go along with choosing our tree. We always get a cookie at the Farmers Market afterward and nibble its cold sugary goodness in the car on the way home. This year we added a pre-tree hunt tradition. We all went out for breakfast at Finches - an old Raleigh institution. The girls each got to order for themselves - which means they had about 6 pieces of sausage, 12 pieces of toast and 8 pieces of bacon between them - we may rethink that part for next year but I was actually impressed with how much of that they polished off. Putting a reminder in my phone or whatever it takes to remember to do that next year. We don't go out to eat with them, pretty much ever. So this was just about the most perfect treat before one of their favored days of the year. Felt like a true American family. 

Last year this time we were scrambling to finish the house in time to move in. Exhausted and feeling like we would never make it. This year we put up Christmas lights. Stephen has always wanted the old fashioned big glass bulb lights for his own home. So that's exactly what we got. What else could you expect from this vintage loving family? He did the doorway this year and next year we may add the front edge of the roof. A few strands each year until we are those retirees who spend an entire day on the outdoor lights. 

The glow from the lights is so warm and inviting I find myself peering out the windows trying to catch a glimpse of the glow from indoors. It makes me wish I was my own neighbor so I could look out and see them. They just make us happy. 

We are taking Christmas very slow and easy this year. I have cut out all extra activities that are not school related. I RSVPd no to the 47 birthday parties they got invited too. We are not looking for a billion ways to give back at this time of year. We are pulling up the little rope ladder to our clubhouse and making multiple batches of my Nanny's favorite cookie recipes. We are having hot chocolate just because. We are reading the Advent readings before we eat our chocolate from the calendar (most days). We are playing with the nativity scene and taking deep breaths and putting lots of love into the things we have chosen to do this year. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Hey Summer! Yes you friend!!

Dear Summer,

How are you? I am fine. Well almost fine. I have not been able to see your blog since I changed my email address awhile back and Google wouldn't let me keep both for some reason. I miss seeing you guys so badly! I tried emailing but I think I have the wrong address : / Can we chat about it? My new email is (yes, I know my inbox my now get blown up with who knows what but the risk is worth it to me.)

Hoping you are well! (read in that Hogwarts flying/talking/letter delivery voice)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Something Real

So nighttime is my favorite time of the day. We spend about an hour getting baths and getting into jammies and reading and being read to. It's a full participation portion of our day. This was not always the case. More often than not I was upstairs in a dark room suffering from yet another migraine. Then in May, I went on this migraine diet - I can't even remember the name of the book it was in. A friend told me about it. I had to give up my rescue meds and a whole slew of foods and drinks. No more peanut butter or nuts of any kind, citrus, onions, avocado, wine, bourbon, caffeine, chocolate, aged cheese, dried fruits, fresh bread.. to name a few. 

I was faithful to the diet and for the last two months have started to add items back to see if they have any affect on me. So far I can have most of what I was already eating - just in moderation. If I overdo it I could run into trouble. Managing my sleep patterns and my exercise with my food intake has done wonders in this area. It's kind of like a miracle since I have been dealing with 15-20+ migraines a month since I was 18. So that's a good thing. 

Here's something that is threatening to give me a headache that I just can't stop thinking about. Money. More specifically, people asking for it. Even more specifically, Christians asking for it. It's late and this is probably a bad move on my part to write about this now but it is just making me bonkers. Our church is raising money for a new building. I have had my issues with how I felt about this and after much prayer really searching the word - I can honestly say I am on board and actually excited about it. Here's the thing though.. we don't have anything to give. The list of things that they gave us that you could potentially cut back on that would give you extra cash to give to this  - don't do or have a single one of them. I wish I could cut back on my Starbucks consumption (see diet above). I am not judging their motives I am just weary. We give to our local church and what we give is a huge sacrifice for us, a single income teaching family of 5. I would love to give more.. but I don't have it to give. Our church is gracious to families like ours - they understand we may not be able - they ask for us to support them in prayer. I can do that. Still not being able to actually give something tangible stings. Because its the tangible thing - money - that will make or break the deal. This whole weariness started with our church but it has moved to other areas. 

I have noticed various Christian folks in leadership roles that I follow on FB starting to ask for money for various events and life changing conferences and gatherings they are putting together. They want to offer it for free but in order to do that the folks that can afford to pay need to consider paying for those who can't. It just makes me tired. Why are so many Christians doing so many things that cost so much money? There seems to be this overwhelming theme of "God is bigger". God is bigger than money, bigger than this need we have - we know He can do this. I agree wholeheartedly. He is bigger. He is God. The buck stops there. I don't know what my problem is really.. I am just weary of being asked to sacrifice for things that don't directly benefit those He asked us to care for. I just can't seem to get away from that. It seems that all this collecting of money for big projects and conferences is taking care of the church itself - not those outside it. I realize that if you get a group of people fired up about caring for people then the idea is that they will then go and do just that - care for people. Is it working? I hope so. I really really do. I know each of these things I am frustrated with is led by folks who seek the Lord with their whole heart. And you can't go wrong when you are leading that way. It's just my heart and my pocket book are tapped out. I am no longer giving with a gracious and thankful heart - I feel frustrated at being asked.. again.. and by so many voices. 

State Fair

Nana and Papa came with us to the State Fair this year. They got to come see the Rabbit Barn and taste the worlds best country ham biscuit. 

We saw the requisite animals and large pumpkins. Checked to see if any of Stephen's students won this year (nope), and did a lot of walking. There is lots to do and see but our plan is usually to hit the same buildings we always and eat the same great food we look forward to. There is the roasted corn on the cob, the falafal from Neomonde, the mini donuts, ribbon fries,  the giant kosher dill pickle, frozen apple cider and of course, cotton candy. We don't go in for the Krispy Kreme bacon cheese burger or the fried butter. Have to draw the line somewhere... 'merica. 

Frankie whizzed right through her nap time with a smile on her face. Here she is being a ham and propping her feet up on Daddy's leg. 

As we were leaving I asked Ada if she had fun. As is her usual style upon departure from some much looked forward to event - she said no, she did not have fun. When I asked her why, she said because we didn't DO anything. We just looked at things and ate. 

For the record we intended to take them on the ferris wheel for the first time but they both decided they didn't want to do it. Ada said she would have liked to play some games. So next time we will add games into the program. Alas there will always be much eating and looking at things at the fair since that is pretty much what it's all about. Next year maybe we will venture into the Midway and try games and check out the "rides". Maybe then we will get some pictures of us doing something other than eating. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


(Being home sick means baking a cake, which also means strawberry milkshakes and warm slices of lemon pound cake for lunch.)

 We have our first ever case of strep throat. For some twisted reason this feels like a victory to me. I remember enduring throat culture after wretched, shaky throat culture when I was a kid, each and every time I had the slightest sore throat (and sometimes even when I didn't) only to hear, "Well, it's not strep." when Dr. McFalls returned to the exam room. I can remember wanting to glare daggers at him and his Mr. Rogers lookalike self, but being too polite to actually do so. I saved my tears for the car ride home, "I TOLD you I didn't even have a sore throat!! (sob)". However I may be feeling about finally having an official diagnosis, Ada - the actual patient in this scenario - is less than thrilled. This was only her second throat culture so in my book she got pretty lucky to actually catch something that the doctors can fix, instead of your run of the mill, wait and see, cold. Of course I don't want my sweet child to have strep throat - its horribly painful. I don't know why I feel this competitive about the throat culture thing. I hated them with a fiery hate. Most of all I hated that they were always negative and therefore an unnecessary torture device of my youth. It seems almost worth it to get a positive culture. Bravo Ada on braving the gaggy swab thing and coming home with a ten day supply of amoxicillin.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Stephen surprised me with a trip back to New York for my 35th birthday this year. Mary drove up to watch the littles and we flew up Friday and didn't come home until Monday night. We saw old friends, and old familiar places. We stepped right into the rhythm that we stepped out of when we moved to Raleigh. It was like we never left.  Of course we did have that moment getting on the Air Train when you can't remember if you want Howard Beach or the Jamaica station.. and you walk around the terminal in a circle a couple of times trying not let anyone see you are confused. And someone does and they laugh and you laugh and remember where you are supposed to go and feel a little silly for having even considered Jamaica. 

Of course lots has changed in 5 years. I hadn't seen the High Line yet. 

We did Chelsea the first morning there and then met Thomas and Bethany and went to see what was new in Brooklyn by the bridge. The one thing we had been sure of was that we would have no set agenda, no schedule. Dinner with MKD and L, brunch with A and C but other than that just a list of restaurants we wanted to eat at. The other thing we were sure of was that we wanted to visit our old block on 32nd Street. But as we said goodbye to Thomas and Bethany in Brooklyn Heights and headed back to the train, I knew I couldn't do it. I couldn't walk up those steps from the train and see the neighborhood changed. I couldn't walk towards 193A and not see Lonna's bright blue flower boxes out front filled with blossoms. I couldn't stand across the street and see someone else's curtains in our old windows. Couldn't not see Oliver and his little white stripe waiting in the widow for us to come upstairs.  My heart broke at the thought of it. Stephen didn't completely understand but he was gracious and we headed back to Manhattan for dinner with our friends. I had forgotten how hard it had been to leave until I had the chance to go back. How I had cried as I took my last walk to the train that last morning. How I had hugged my pregnant belly and told myself how it would be worth it in the end. The sacrifice of my life here, for theirs to come. 

We spent a quiet Sunday in our favorite museum. Then we went to Central Park, ate lunch from Hampton Chutney and laid in the grass and read until we were chilly and ready for dinner. We ordered take out Indian and ate in Emily's apartment. We did all the things we used to do on our days off. It truly felt like a vacation - and for me vacations rarely do. Happy 35th year to me. 


The girls started ballet last month, courtesy of Aunt B and several other family members birthday generosity. Since it was their first class we just went with a basic age appropriate class the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation put on at the Rec Center two minutes from our house. They had all the gear and were super psyched to learn how to be real ballerinas. 

Ada told me before we left for class: "I think when the teacher sees me do this (does a twisty twirly move) she will say 'Wow! You already know everything!!'" 

Both girls wondered which boys would carry them over their head and help them do pirouettes.

Sweet Ada was so serious about becoming a real ballerina at long last. I have to say that she was a bit disappointed when the class included some gymnastics as well and told us that though it was fun, it wasn't really a ballet class. I am determined to find her something a little more serious this next go round. 

These purses are actually holding their ballet slippers. 

As usual, Frankie is just happy to be here :)


First day of kindergarten. Nope. I am not ready to talk about it yet ;)

The Rainbow - Princess-Baking-Adventure-Treasure-Ice-Cream-Birthday Party

Pink and Yellow turned 5 this year. We had a Rainbow - Princess-Baking-Adventure-Treasure-Ice-Cream-Birthday Party. 

Daddy helped everyone bake brownies. 

We had a scavenger hunt with picture cards drawn by Uncle David. 


The treasure was in the mail box. 

The finest fake earrings the Dollar Tree has to offer. 

Bat Man was in attendance and wasn't thrilled with the YouTube ballet. 

Celebs were also present. 

Then on our actual birthday we opened presents with Grammy who was visiting for the weekend and had our traditional birthday cake for breakfast. 

Then the following weekend we got to celebrate again with Nana and Papa and Uncle Page and Aunt Jenny and Gram and Uncle Michael and Aunt B. We went to the Sci-Quarium and saw all things oceanic from penguins to sharks. There was much celebrating this year. 

How is it even possible that they are five already? Living in denial. 

Happy birthday to my beautiful, smart, talented, loving, giggly, snuggly little girls.