Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve Justin had to work a twelve hour day shift. Jasmine and Kiliegh were at their bio's and Vada and I spent the day together. We hung out all day. We played and she napped. I cleaned and she played. It was a typical day, only it was Christmas Eve. That evening we went to a special Church service where Vada received her first candy cane and learned more about the true meaning of Christmas.

Once we were home I let Vada have her Christmas gift from her Grandpa Augie and Grandma Suzan, it was too big to not notice.

I had left my cell phone at home while at church and after being home for only a few minutes I realized that I had missed a call from one of our closest friends who happen to live only a couple of blocks from us. They had invited us over for dinner and we gladly excepted their invitation. We spent a couple of fun hours just hanging out and catching up before we decided to head home.

Once we settled down for the night I was giddy for Justin to open his presents and I really wanted Vada to open hers as well. We always open one gift on Christmas Eve and while presents isn't what Christmas is all about, it felt odd to not do this small Christmas ritual now that Vada was here and old enough to do it with us. So Justin opened some of his gifts and then Vada got to open one of hers.

The tree had been up for around a week and there have been gifts under it since day one. Vada was at first curious but learned that she shouldn't bother with the tree or the packages and it was never an issue. When it was time for her to open her gift she was a bit confused. Like, why all of a sudden could she now have it...

I called her first tear a tester. She was feeling things out. Being cautious.

It didn't take long before she got the hang of it and had that decoy shoe box unwrapped and the lid fully removed.

The gift, you ask?

It was a "vintage" Leap Frog ABC Fun Food Magnet Set. I had to buy it used because it's no longer being made. I had been watching the price climb higher and higher over the past couple of months (on the only two left sets that I could find, online) and I was beginning to think that I wouldn't be able to get it but then one day I found it at a local children's thrift store! I was thrilled and while Vada hasn't come out and said it, I know that she is too!

After Vada and Justin finished opening their Christmas Eve gifts Vada was ready for more. She had had her taste of what was under the tree and she didn't want to stop tearing paper and playing. Luckily, since it was well past her bedtime, she was more than willing to call it a night and do some "rocky rock" time with her Mamma. Shes pretty easy going.

Men and Their Staches

Every year, for the past several years, a group of Justin's male friends get together and have a "healthy competition" of Who can grow a better stache and every year Justin cheats. Typically, because of his work schedule, Justin is unable to make it to the kick off of this particular competition, which happens somewhere around Thanksgiving (and ends sometime before Christmas). Therefore, no one actually knows that he already had a full face of hair to begin with. "Cheating", may be a bit of an over statement considering there's no actual prize to this competition-- other than a boost to the "winning" man's ego. The real prize is the money that is raised and then donated to a local Child Abuse Council.
Im not going to lie and say that I enjoy this bit of "men being men" because I don't. In fact I think its all pretty gross and at times a bit embarrassing. This year, every time I looked into Justin's eye's I thought of this guy...

and while I think Will Ferrel is hilarious, I don't want to have "relations" with him in any shape or form! So visualizing this guy while being close with my husband kind of made me gag! 

It was however, all for a good cause and thankfully it is also all over!

So with out further ado... The men and their Staches...

As the saying goes... "Behind every great man is a great ass" err.., what I meant was, "Behind every great man stands a great woman." Which in fact was the case here and we liked showing our support with the "finger staches".
The 2011 Mustache Bash was a blast! It was the first time in over three years that Justin and I were able to go to this particular event together and it was the first time that we hired a baby sitter who was a non family member to watch Vada! The group raised a great deal of money and we all had a good time together.
One of our local news stations even gave notice to the event this year, which added to the evening.
This night wasn't done just for fun or for benefiting a worthy cause,  it was also done in memory of a friend of my husbands and many others who were at this party. A couple of years ago their friend Kyle, passed away after fighting a long battle with cancer and the Mustache Bash took on a new name, "KJ's Mustache Bash" and it is honor of him that we celebrated.


The before and afters are huge and I don't miss one single hair! It was a fun night but I am glad to have my husband back. So until next year, good bye gross food catching facial hair and hello to the man that I married.

When I started taking these guys pictures (with the help of my husband) I had a plan to name each man's stashe in mind. However, because so many of these fella's decided to play it safe and do very similar "do's" I thought that I would add this handy Moustache-O-Rama Chart, so that you could help me name them with the use of this interactive chart. Click on the picture below and hover over each mustache to get their names.

On a final note, I thought that it would be fun to show off our group in its earlier years of raising money for the Child Abuse Council. These were taken before the group started doing it yearly Mustache Bash.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Milestone Met: Up on the Couch

It's been hard to keep up to date on things through blogging. Each and every day I think of how I would like to share this or that but today I had to take a second to share this huge accomplishment made by Vada. To some this may be just another baby climbing on a couch but to us its worth celebrating!

Friday, December 23, 2011

'C' and 'c'

I went outside a few minutes ago to take a bag of garbage to the trash can. It's 9:30 PM and it was pretty dark out. The stars however illuminated the street that runs parallel to our house and their brightness caught me off guard. I had stopped walking and stood in awe right there in the middle of our yard gazing at God's handy work, He is an amazing artist!  The stars were so bright that in my mind, reaching out and touching one was almost a possibility. I counted six planes in tonights sky and I couldnt help but wonder where each were going. I said a quick prayer for the travelers and asked God to get them where they were suppose to be going, safely, before I finished what I had come out to do and returned to the warmth of my house.

I hasn't felt like "christmas" this year.

There's no soft blanket of snow coverering our yard or vehicles.  It's cold out, sure, but not quite like I remember as a child or even in the recent years.

I had originally thought that we wouldn't put out our Christmas tree this year. I figured that it would just take up too much of what little space we have in the house and that it would constantly be a hassle with Vada getting into it. Turns out that I couldn't go without it-- it just didn't feel right to not have the tree up.

It also turns out that neither the thought of lost space or of the tree being a hassle with Vada were correct. Vada has been great with the tree and even with the packages that are under it. Sure, she is interested in its newness but she listens really well and if we tell her that she cant touch, she typically "gets" what were saying right away and it's just that simple. The tree does take up some room but its totally worth it! We didn't fully decorate it however, which was a result of not being able to follow our family tradition because we couldn't all be here at the same time. Instead I put up the tree with the lights and some bulbs and called it "good to go".

The second row of lights, towards the top of our tree, have burned out. Which actually happened on the day that I put it up. I have yet to fix that particular row-- even though I have the replacements sitting next to the tree. I like to tell myself that it's the thought that counts.

Like I already mentioned, we didn't do our yearly tree decorating tradition, which consists of us putting up the tree as well as decorating it on the night of Thanksgiving. I did hand out our 2011 ornaments. However, that too was done later than normal and Vada has yet to receive hers. Technically, she doesn't even have one.., yet. Which is kind of funny because she is always with me and should of  received hers first, which is kind of sad as well.

The truth is that I wanted to make Vada's ornament out of Palmers Clay. It was a late idea, otherwise I would have made it well before the holidays. I have a vision of a baby holding a heart that looks as if it has been sewn together in two spots. This is suppose to symbolize her having gone through her heart surgery earlier this year.  I had troubles making the face look realistic-- or cute, so its not made.., yet. 

Justin is working-- both Saturday and Sunday. Luckily he is on days, which means Vada and I will be able to spend time with him during the nights.

Every year we switch on again-off again for the holidays. Last year we had both Jasmine and Kiliegh for every holiday which was great because last year was all of Vada's "first's". This year it's their biological dad's (I also refer to them as--"Bio's") turn. Therefore, neither Jasmine or Kiliegh will be home for Christmas. Jasmine will come home on Sunday night and Kiliegh will come home on Monday morning. Monday is our only day to celebrate the gift giving part of "christmas".  So Christmas day will actually be our Christmas Eve, which Kiliegh will end up missing.

I'm really looking forward to Monday, I really enjoy watching the girls opening their presents from us, when they are grateful about what they have received. Sometimes its like they compare what we give to what they have received from their Bio's side and then its not too fun anymore. Hopefully, that's not the case this year. Plus, it's my only "down day" with the whole family and then Tuesday starts the rest of the week off with a trip to Saint Louis.

We traveled to North Carolina a couple of weeks ago. Besides the majority of our family getting sick in one form or another,  it was a good time. However it threw off our custody days which threw us off for two weeks (until it was constant again). The trip was totally worth a couple "off" days, don't get me wrong we'd do it again in a heart beat, but it was just something else that wasn't our "norm" for "christmas".

Finally, the biggest thing that happened was something that hasn't actually happened. I never got around to making Christmas cards for our friends and family. I have done cards every year that Justin and I have been together so I am kind of bummed that I couldn't make it happen this year. Again, it just had to do with timing issues but a bummer none the less.


You may have noticed that I have spelled "Christmas" with a lower case 'c' and an upper case 'C', I have done this on purpose and it's because to me Christmas has kind of broke into two separate entities. One actually being the "Christ centered" version and the true meaning of Christmas-- This is the version that rejoices in Jesus' birth and celebrates in and for Him. The other version is "Santa", tree decorations, food and gifts. We do "Santa" (Which is a whole other story...) and we certainly do the decorations and gifts but I see in too many situations where the gift giving and the glorifying of "Santa" takes over the importance of "Christmas" and to me it then becomes "christmas" with a lower case 'c', which is wrong, I know..

Anyway, a great deal of our traditions have not happen this year, which has made things seem a little unreal but I have maintained the important ones. The advent candles are not out but I still do the readings and I do them with Vada before bed. Saturday Vada and I will head to church to the Christmas Eve service and then again on Sunday for the Christmas morning service. I haven't got swept away with the stressful things that comes with all of the cooking, cleaning, wrapping and shopping that sometimes comes with christmas but I have been able to stay pretty focused on the true meaning of Christmas and that's CHRIST.

Tonight as I stood in our yard gazing into the beautifully perfect sky I felt closer to God. I wondered if this was what the sky looked liked the night that Jesus was born. It had to be similar. The stars were like tiny lights leading my slightly lonely heart back to Christ-mas and I realized that while Justin may not be here on the actual day of Christmas Eve or Christmas and while the older two girls would have to open their gifts later, Christmas would still come and I didn't feel lonely about not being able to traditionally do things. Vada and I would be centered in Christ together and we would lovingly wait for our family to come home.

It's funny how a starlit sky can bring me back to the reality of things but this just reinforces, in my mind, that God is in control and that He knows what I need and He knows what He is doing!

I don't know if any of this made sense but in my mind it did and I wanted to share it. There was something about standing in the cold air tonight, something about the quietness of such a big sky that calmed me and really helped put things into perspective. Things may not always go as I have planned them to go but that's okay. God has truly provided for me and my family and while I may not understand what he is doing all of the time, He knows and that's what counts.

Anyway, tonight, on the night before Christmas Eve, I wish all of you a Christ centered holiday.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Maybe She'll Do Gymnastics

Vada is 21 months old and already she's working on her rollovers-- she's so fun and her big sister, Jasmine couldn't be a better teacher!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Giver

I wrote a post recently called Mr. Deed's. In it I mentioned a story that was told on our local Christian radio station. Here is that story. It's very touching.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Treadmill therapy: first time in the harness

For those of you who read my phone post on therapy, here is the video that I briefly mentioned in that post.

This is Vada's first time in the harness for her treadmill therapy session. I think in general she was okay with the whole thing but then she also became pretty relaxed. Truthfully I think it probably felt a lot like when I wear her. And if I am being truthful then I have to say that she totally reminds me of a marionette doll-- a very, very cute one!

Dance lessons with Kiliegh and Vada

Tuesday Kiliegh took a semi-private belly dancing class. Vada came too. One of the things that Kiliegh's does that makes my heart jump for joy is when we go to her dance class she asks first to go early (because when there are other girls there she likes to get the floor first, for Vada) and second when we get there she gets excited to go dancing with her little sister.

Kiliegh seems to like dance. She takes it seriously. She works hard to learn the moves and she stays focused but what seems to make her proud is sharing the floor with Vada.

On this particular night Vada really, really tried to dance too. You have to watch the whole video to see Vada shake it but she does, its fantastic and the whole time the teacher and Kiliegh do their own thing. Before you watch I have to first say that I do ask if they mind that Vada is on the floor and they always say no. In fact they will ask Vada if she's going to dance every time we come in and just in case they do mind but are being super cool about it, I only let V on the floor for one song.


Because I don't typically read all of the comments left on other blogs that I read, I had to share this video as well. The emotion and the love shown is beautiful and POWERFUL!

RETARDED. spread the word to end the word.

This is one of the most touching videos that I have EVER had the privilege to watch. Please watch it yourselves and help spread the awareness. This video has actually had very little recognition but deserves to be seen by the world and I mean that with all of my heart.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Unexpected Lunch Date (Cell Phone Post)

After Justin brought us gas for my van on Monday we went our separate ways. I went to a gas station to completely fill up the gas tank and Justin headed to a tool store with plans of going directly home and to bed afterwards. Vada was hungry and I wanted coffee so we went to Starbucks, which happen to be next to the store that Justin was in, so I decided to call and invite him to lunch and he accepted even though he was tired and even though he doesn't like coffee or tea. That's my sweetie. We had a nice time. I had my soy pumpkin spice latte. Vada had her veggie egg sandwich and Justin had a unexpected lunch date with two girls. Lucky him. Lucky us too.