A tribute to an amazing woman

Tonight, we gathered as a family to celebrate my grandma's 99th birthday. I would lie if I did not say the day was bittersweet. A week and a half ago we were called in to be with her and told she was dying. Our family gathered around her, held her hand and prayed as she struggled for hours to breathe. Miraculously, her heart kicked into gear and she made a comeback. By the next morning she was up eating and walking the halls of Willow Valley. But Nanny is actively dying. She has begun seeing loved ones who have already passed, as if they are waiting to greet her in Heaven. At times she does not know who we are and shes sleeping most of the day. 

My poor family has seen me crying a lot. I have explained to Madeleine that Nanny is dying. That soon she will be going to Heaven. I have tried to explain that while I am happy and excited for Nanny, I am crying because I love Nanny and that I am just going to miss her.

 I am going to miss her a lot!!! 

I am so thankful for the time I have had with Nanny. When my much older cousins graduated from high school, Nanny and Pappy gave my parents our graduation money because they never thought they'd see us graduate. Instead Nanny saw my high school graduation, wedding, college graduation and birth of 3 children. I am so thankful for the Tuesday lunches I had with her during college. Truth is I planned my college schedule around those lunches. I am thankful for the chance to spend lunches again with her last year and the wonderful oppertunity to really study how she cooks. As a result I've learned how to make pea pot pie and potato soup like Nanny. I am thankful that I got to watch her rock my babies to sleep. 

She loved to rock my babies, especially Emilia.

I am thankful for the time recently to just sit with her and soak in her presence. I just hold her hand and soak her in because I know my time with her is limited. 

I think of Nanny when I cook. Especially when doing simple things like peeling potatoes, dicing celery and smelling spring onions. I think of her when I hear morning doves cooing, because without fail I remember a pair of the cooing outside my window at her house during childhood sleepovers. I think of her while watching the Phillies, her favorite team. 

I think of her and will remember her with love. 

The things childhood is made of

For awhile now Ainsley has been hiding in various corners of my house. I might be sorting laundry in my room and she just slips over to her room and positions herself between her wall and dresser. Once I found her in my closet, quietly calling out my name every few seconds. And then the other day just before we were getting ready to leave Madeleine opened the door in the dining room that leads out into the garage and let Ainsley escape out there. I saw her enter the garage but when I walked over to find her she was hidden so well I couldn't see her. I had to start calling out her name before she finally emerged from beside the ladder. She's AMAZING! 

Needless to say Madeleine and Emilia have also caught on to the fun of hiding from me. This morning after some begging I decided to stop what I was doing and play hide-and-go-seek. We all took turns hiding for close to an hour. It was so much fun! Most of the time I was the one finding the girls, occasionally I helped the girls hide from each other and then finally I hid twice. My final hiding place stumped the girls. I could hear them looking all over for me, until finally Emilia and Madeleine begged me to come out. 

Then this afternoon when Madeleine got home we headed outside for some much needed playground fun and fresh air! We played outside together until Daddy came home. Then I headed inside to prepare one of Emilia's favorite meals "pea pie" aka pea pot pie.

Today was filled with the girls childhood is made of

Ainsley trying out her new tricycle. Her legs still need to grow a bit.

 This little girl LOVES sliding!

Madeleine found a group of friends to hang around with


...Ainsley discovered chai tea. 

There are some simple pleasures I like to keep just for me. In the fall and winter months, Chai is one of them. Many nights after I give the girls their baths I will make a cup and sip it quietly in the kitchen. There is just something so wonderful and comforting about it. Its like a little hug. 

Today, because she's cute, I let Ainsley enjoy a few sips with me.

My favorite mug for chai tea. I find it extra comforting!

When life hands you snow.. make snow men!

I have lost track of the number of snow days we've had this winter. When it snowed on my birthday, in December, I was excited! I loved having a snow day with the girls! I loved making a snowman with Emilia and I loved having our impromptu snow ball fight when Eric got home from work. After a winter of snow storms the excitement quickly wears off though, especially for someone who prefers flip flops to snow boots. 

When I woke up this morning and saw the freshly falling snow I decided to pull it together and make the most of yet another snow day. Knowing Eric would most likely stay through at work to work a total of 16 hours, I bundled up the girls so they could play in the snow with Angus(our dog), while I shoveled the driveway, sidewalks and Eric's parking space. 

The oldest two girls LOVE the snow! They could play in it all day! Ainsley, who is 18 months has not yet developed a love for the snow. She prefers to walk where I have shoveled or be carried. Its because of this that when Eric is at work we have to have our snow fun in mini sessions. 


Sometime after I got the call from Eric confirming he would be working overtime and before dinner, I got the brilliant idea to complete another pintrest idea I had pinned a while ago. I should have recorded the girls responses. Emilia, giggled like crazy when she saw the snow man pancake and Madeleine praised me saying, "You are the best mommy ever! I am so lucky to have you!" And there it was....  I made the best of a day that I would have preferred be filled with sunshine and warm weather and it resulted in snow filled memories of playing in the snow and eating snowman pancakes for dinner. 

DYNAMITE! A fun way to practice sight words

This year Madeleine started Kindergarten and while at first I worried about her readiness, she has blossomed! 

The thing that I am most excited about is reading. Before having children, I worked for several years as a TSS and so often I saw that students who struggled with reading struggled all around academically. There will always be reading in social studies, science and math. In order to solve math problems you have to be able to read and understand the question. Too many of the students I saw just couldn't grasp what they were reading and in some cases couldn't read at all. 

Since about October, Madeleine has been working on sight words. We started with 5 words and now at best guess we have over 40 words we practice on a daily basis. Madeleine is also bringing home books every night, which we also read. While watching her learn is exciting, flashing the same sight words in her face night after night can get boring.

Flash cards I made with Madeline's sight words

So thanks to pintrest I was able to find a fun little game called "Dynamite" which I put together to spice things up a bit. Madeleine, like most children, LOVES games! She is very competitive and therefore LOVES playing "Dynamite" for a chance to beat me. 

Its very simple. I wrote some of her newer sight words on Popsicle sticks and wrote the word "Dynamite" on two of the sticks.  

Then I placed the sticks in the "pencil holder" Madeleine made at Rawlinsville Camp Meeting.

To play the game Madeleine and I take turns drawing sticks. If you say the word correctly you get to keep the stick. However, when you pull the "Dynamite" stick. BOOM! You have to place all your stick back in and start over. The winner with the most sticks at the end WINS!!!

 whomp whomp!

Let me know if you try it with your kids! OR if you have any other fun ways to practice sight words or reading :)

Redeeming Love

I did it! I read a book. Sadly, its probably the first one I finished since I read "Marley & Me" when Madeleine was a baby. Upon hearing that one of my goals for the new year was to read more, my sister and best friend from high school were quick to recommend " Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers. It took me just over a week to read the 468 page novel. It was an easy read and I found myself making time throughout the day to read it even forgoing my attempts to complete the next level of Candy Crush.

my sisters and I at the Hershey Spa, book in hand!
Redeeming Love was a love story about unconditional love that I have only seen lived out a couple of times in my life. Its rare but its real! Set in California during the Gold Rush the author tells the story of a prostitute and the man who loved her. It parallels Christ love for us. I highly recommend this book!



New Year's Resolutions

This year like every year I have set some goals for myself. This year I have considered I want out of life, what I need, and what I am missing.

My 2014 Resolutions are:

- to write
- to read
- to run 750 or more miles this year.
- to utilize the U.S. Postal System more
- to take one picture a day

In the past few months, but especially the past few weeks I've done a lot of thinking about my life. I found myself reading back through old journal entries and discovered that while I was a teenager I did ALOT of writing and since then I've devoted little time to it. For the most part, I have journaled about my girls from pregnancy through childhood. I've recorded precious memories and dates of those precious "firsts."  But I rarely write about me. About my feelings. I've always enjoyed writing. Always found it therapeutic. I need to write more.

With writing, goes reading. I have a couple of hours every day where I have time for just me. Often times this time is spent on facebook and watching TV. While both are great escapes, neither are productive. This year I will spend more time reading.

Also in the 2014, I will make more time for me. I love running! When I run I am happier and healthier. Currently, I find it hard to get in a running routine. Even when training for a big race, I struggle with finding all the time I need to get in my long runs. This year, I am going to focus on total miles rather than completing one large race. My goal this year is to log 750 miles.

In 2014, I am going to send more mail. I LOVE getting mail! I am always hoping for fun things to arrive in the mail for me, so this year I am going to give others what I love getting... mail!

Finally, I am going to take a picture a day. It might be something wonderful like jumping in the waves at the beach or it might be as simple as Ainsley waiting by the front door for Eric to come home. Whatever it may be, I am going to capture daily moments.

Please join me this year as I work on my resolutions! Follow me, support me, encourage me and join me along the way!

Here are the pictures from my first day of 2014

Emilia showing me her muscles!

Emilia showing she has no fear!

Madeleine almost reaching the top!

Happy New Year!!!