Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sweet as Sugar

My Abby Grace. Sweet as sugar.


She is a lot of things for only being 4 years old. Of course, she would correct me to say that she is actually 4 1/2. But, we all know I'm in no rush for her to get any closer to 5.

Anyway, like I was saying, my Abby Grace packs a lot of personality into her tiny body. She is smart, strong, funny, sassy, motivated, outgoing - honestly, it feels kind of silly to list her qualities this way. Just one word, like each one of them is just a simple description. I could write pages about each of these qualities. Examples and anecdotes to illustrate just how complex and wonderful she is. There is one thing about Abby that Matt and I always come back to though. One thing that stands above all the rest.

Her heart.

My daughter has the most loving heart. The most giving soul. The most thoughtful and sweet and intuitive and caring spirit that I have ever known. At only 4 years old (4 1/2), she continually amazes us with her love for others.

She really loves people. Really develops special relationships with others far beyond the ability of a typical 4 year old. She remembers you. Remembers what you like, remembers stories or jokes you have told, remembers games that you played together. Remembers what is important to you and what is going on in your life at the moment.

She tries to make everyone happy. For example, I always joke with her about not wanting her to grow up. She knows I am kidding, but she also realizes there is some truth to it too. She'll say things like, "Don't forget - when I grow up you get to meet my babies." And the other day she explained how she would always live close by, "I'll move into the next neighborhood with my family. When someone in our neighborhood moves away, just call me on the phone and tell me which house it is. I will run over here and get the house and then I can always live very close to you. Just don't forget to call me right away so someone else doesn't get to that house first!"

There is another story that I was reminded of tonight that really gives a glimpse into her heart. One afternoon, Matt was in the playroom with Abby while I was helping Drew with some homework. All of a sudden, I heard her crying - loudly sobbing. I ran back to the playroom to find out what was wrong. I was sure she had been badly hurt.

I opened the door to find her sitting in Matt's lap and he was holding a book.

The Giving Tree.

I asked what was wrong and Matt simply explained, "the book made her sad." In between sobs, she emphatically denied this. She kept insisting she was "just tired." She ran out of the room.

Matt explained further, "As I kept reading the book, I could tell she was just getting sadder and sadder. Her face was changing and I could just see that she was really upset. Finally I told her that I thought everything was going to be ok. That was when she started sobbing. I couldn't console her. That's when you came in."

Abby wouldn't admit it, but that book had broken her little heart. At only 4 years old, Abby consistently shows a level of empathy for people that I rarely even see in adults. She understands people's emotions. She is always thoughtful and loving and generous when it comes to interacting with other children and adults.

She wants to get to know you. She wants to talk to you about anything and everything. She has instant connections with people that she meets. And some are even more special than others. For example, my Papa and my Grammy. For some reason, she just has this special place in her heart for them. Of course, they are my grandparents and they are family so we would expect her to love them. But there is something different there - a special love she has for them. We rarely ever get to see them, but she asks about them all the time and wants to know how they are doing and when she will see them again.




This past Saturday we took the kids to a Gator football game. During the 4th quarter, we had tickets to go sit in the box with Matt's company. As soon as we walked in, Matt introduced us to one of his co-workers, Sophia. Right away, Abby was smitten. There was an instant connection. After a few minutes, we went down to sit in the seats and watch the game. Next thing I knew, Abby was asking to go back up the stairs. Matt thought she wanted a snack, but I knew immediately where she was going. She wanted to talk to Miss Sophia. Sure enough, I found her a few minutes later sitting at a table and chatting away with Miss Sophia. She was in her element and happy as a clam. What's the big deal about a football game when there is girl talk to be had?

Matt later told me that Sophia said to Abby, "When I have a daughter, I want her to be exactly like you."

Oh, my sweet Abby Grace. I am so proud of your heart of gold. There are so many qualities about you to love. So many moments that take my breath away.

I am so grateful for the privilege of being your Mama.


So very grateful that you are mine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Teamwork

About a week ago, Matt was outside playing basketball with the kids while I got some things done around the house. Drew and Abby kept running inside every few minutes for a "huddle." After eavesdropping on them a few times, I decided to pull out the camera and take video. Here's a little peek into what was going on...

video

Just to clarify, we ARE Magic fans in this house. However, the Lakers are currently the champions. So, every time Matt and Drew play basketball, Drew insists on being the Lakers while Matt is the Magic.

video

There are so many things I love about this.

I love that they run into the house to keep their plans a "secret" from Matt because he pretends to listen to their huddle. And that while they are inside, Abby still hushes Drew so that Matt can't hear them.

I love that this captures their personalities - Abby is the chatter box and the one in charge and Drew just goes along with the plan. I love that Drew is being so sweet with Abby - passing the ball to her and letting her shoot the baskets instead of doing it all by himself.

I love that the plan is for Abby to pretend she is sleeping, yet as soon as they get out there they make Matt pretend to sleep so they can score a basket on him.

I love that Matt has two hoops set up - a little one for Abby and the tall one for Drew.

Mostly, I'm happy that I caught these moments on video. It wasn't anyone's birthday or a holiday or a special occasion. It was a normal Saturday afternoon of kids playing with their Daddy. It is these moments that I'm conscious to commit to memory or to photograph/videotape. It is these moments of getting along with each other and using their imaginations and having fun that I want to remember. Not just the special occasions, but the everyday things that make these children such a joy to be around. To remember their sweet voices and little bodies - just as they are.

I LOVE this age for both of them. We really couldn't be having any more fun...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Easily Entertained

I love my camera. I have always loved pictures and scrapbooking. I have kept scrapbooks filled with photos and memorabilia ever since high school. Back then, all I needed was construction paper, fancy scissors, and Elmer's glue.

I took my hobby to a whole new level once Drew and Abby came along. I love scrapbooking - documenting the memories, being creative, time spent with friends - all of it makes me so happy.

I also love taking pictures of my kids. I got my first digital camera when I was pregnant with Drew. Several cameras later, I finally have a digital SLR that I LOVE! I have had it for a year and a half and I have taken well over 10,000 pictures with it. I still only use it on the automatic setting (gasp!), but the quality of my pictures has drastically improved and it is even more fun to edit and scrapbook them!

Recently, I was editing the pictures from Abby's last day of preschool. That morning, we had gone to pick up cupcakes (decorated with little graduation caps) for the class. I took this photo of Abby with one of the cupcakes.


The colors in the photo are a little too warm, so I was trying to edit the picture to balance out the color. It was then that I noticed something...

Do you see it too?


No, it's not just those sweet freckles that are beginning to appear on her nose. However, I have fond memories of my Dad counting my freckles when I was a little girl, so I do the same thing with Abby. And, it's not her birthmark that becomes more prominent when she is really happy or really upset. Cupcakes make this little girl VERY happy!


It's something wrong with her pretty, blue eyes. There is a speck of orange in them. What in the world is that?


It's me! I was wearing an orange shirt that day. You can clearly see my reflection in her blue eyes.

This made me laugh out loud!

Obviously, I am easily entertained...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If You Say So...

Today was Drew's First Grade Halloween party. Well, it was really a "Pumpkin Party" because we aren't supposed to mention Halloween at school. It was also Wacky Hair Day so that made things exceptionally interesting.


I got to plan the party with my newest friend and co-room mom, Belinda. She is an amazing photographer (and really cool chick). These are just two of the photos she took today with her snazzy, fancy camera. I heart them.


I also heart the little boy who explained the origin of Halloween to me on the way to school today.

"You know, Mom, a long time ago people were really afraid of ghosts. So AFRAID of them that they would hide in their houses and be afraid to come out. So, all the people dressed up in costumes to scare the ghosts away. Do you hear me, Mom? They SCARED the ghosts away. And they left food for the ghosts by the door to make them happy. So, I guess they were scared and a little happy. But, anyway, that is why we have Halloween. But, don't worry, we don't have ghosts anymore. This was a LONG time ago."

"Wow, Drew! Who told you all of that?"

"Handy Manny."

Fantastic.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Beach. AKA: The Most Pictures I've Ever Put In One Post.

So, it's October. And I'm still re-capping our summer. I just don't know what to say. Life is busy and I'm busy living it. I'm really trying to get and stay caught up with the blog. It is a wonderful record of family memories. (And my mom and sister drive me crazy requesting new posts).

Matt was scheduled to take vacation during the second week of July. However, it was the first week of July when our firstborn decided to have major surgery. It kind of put our plans on hold. We weren't sure how quickly he would recover and what would be safe for him to do.

We were supposed to leave for the beach on Monday, but had to stay in town until Drew's doctor's appointment on Wednesday. The doctor examined his incision sites and said that Drew could return to all normal activity. Drew had been feeling fine, so that was all we needed to hear to pack up our things and head to the beach!

We stayed at my Dad's condo for four days. It was AMAZING!! The kids loved it and had a wonderful time! I took over 500 pictures while we were there.

This post contains 40. It took a loooong time for me to go through and edit all the pictures and then to narrow it down to 8% of them for your enjoyment.

Let's get going...

My healthy and happy boy walking on the beach! I cannot even begin to tell you how great it was to see him back to his usual self after such a rough week.


No hesitation for either child with the ocean on this visit. They both wanted to jump right in and get their feet wet!


Or, go as far out as Daddy could take them and let the waves crash over their heads!


Back on the beach, Drew was an avid seashell collector. Note the shells in his left hand...


Daddy was brave enough and tall enough and strong enough to take them out as far as they wanted to go in the ocean. They always came back beaming from ear to ear and wanting to know when they could go back again. Here, Abby is running back to the beach after her turn in the ocean with Daddy!


It's fun to go out far, but sometimes it's just as fun to play in the shallow water.


Drew was really into playing soccer with this ball. He and Daddy would take turns trying to "score" on each other by kicking the ball into the ocean while the other one would try to catch the ball before it hit the water. Again and again and again and again...


While the boys played soccer, Abby was really into building sand castles the first day.


I lost track of how many times she filled her little bucket with water and brought it back up to help make her castles. She was quite diligent about it.


Clearly, my aversion to sand has not rubbed off on my little girl!


Towards the end of the day, we noticed a lot of people gathering on the beach. Finally, someone mentioned that the space shuttle was about to launch - we had no idea it was scheduled for that day and we were so happy that we hadn't gone inside for dinner already!

What an amazing view! The kids were thrilled!!


I checked on the babies before I went to sleep that night and this is what I found...


They slept very well considering this was our first vacation away from home. We never heard from them much in the middle of the night, but by 6 am they were awake and ready to get started with the day.

To their delight, they awoke just in time to see the sunrise every single morning.

Way. Too. Early.

But, oh so sweet...


And breathtaking...


We let Daddy sleep in every day. This first morning, I got the kids ready to go down to the beach for some pictures. I had to beg and plead with them, but they finally gave in.


And, they really didn't mind too much once they discovered I was going to let them play in the ocean!




They walked around looking for seashells and trying to get close to pretty, white birds.


They ran in and out of the ocean -


And then posed for a picture or two...




My little ballerina girl even twirled on the beach a time or two!!


After breakfast, we changed into our bathing suits and headed back down to the beach for our second day. Drew wanted to build his own sand castles while Abby and Daddy played in the ocean.




They played in the waves together for a long time! The waves were bigger on this day and Abby kept getting knocked down!


She finally had enough and began to hold onto Drew for dear life! It was a sweet thing for this Mama to see as my babies played together so nicely. Over and over she would shriek as the waves came closer and then grab onto her big brother.

He hugged her close each time and they braved the waves together!


Which just meant that they started falling down together...


Thankfully, they always came up from the water with smiles on their faces!


On our third day at the beach, I finally put the camera down for the entire morning and took my kiddos out into the ocean for some fun! Of course, I had already been in the water with them several times, but this was my turn to really splash and jump and play and enjoy our time together.

We built lots of sand castles that day! This was a little village of castles we made and Abby found a big feather to put in the top for decoration.

They had so much fun jumping over it!




And, of course, they still played with that orange ball! Lots of "monkey in the middle" on this day!!


We went out to a local pizza place for an early dinner and then came back down to the beach for sunset.

It was another great photo opportunity with my precious babies. I can't decide which one I like the best. I like each one of these for different reasons...








Oh, be still my heart...


I love this boy!!!


And, don't even get me started on my sweet Abby Grace!


She breaks my heart with her beauty.


Honestly, it was as perfect as it could have been. The kids loved the beach. Loved the ocean. Loved the pool. They loved collecting seashells and building castles and walking/running on the beach and playing in the waves.

We ate lunch by the pool every afternoon and swam for hours. We went out to eat and played games when we needed a break from the sun. It didn't rain at all!

The kids were well-behaved and got along remarkably well. They are at a wonderful age - so wonderful that I just want to freeze time and enjoy it for as long as I possibly can.

Though they get on each other's nerves plenty, they truly have a beautiful friendship and they love each other very much. It is an amazing relationship to watch.


Our family is blessed beyond measure.