Saturday, January 16, 2016

on to disney!

I have been planning our first trip to Disney for months and, finally, last week we told the kids.

Last Monday was the last day of their holiday break and we were ready to bust (or at least I was). Joe and I liked the idea of telling them ahead of time, but not too far out that they would drive us crazy! It was exactly two weeks away.

Joe is really good at coming up with clues, rhymes, etc. and has a history of making an occasion out of opening a present. He surprised me the weekend before our wedding with a long poem revealing a trip to my first Auburn game. He wrote a whole scavenger hunt with clues that rhymed for Hannah's 5th birthday Disney Cruise surprise. So, I asked him if he'd come up with something short to attach to the top of the present. Inside the box would be the Magic Bands. I was thinking it would be two or three lines, a little hint... Nope. He came home from work with a song he recorded on his phone, his words to the tune of "Under the Sea". {As a side note, he loves Sebastian and is really good at imitating his voice.}

He played it as the kids unwrapped the box, and I took a video.

As we expected, it was pretty quiet for about half the song. Then..."Now I get it!! We're going to Disney?!?!"

Joseph was not sure about the whole thing. I love his reaction on the video. Like, what's the big deal? At the end he was excited, but I think it was due to big sister's excitement.

We learned our lesson when we gave them the Disney cruise. While we knew the significance and what all a Disney cruise entailed, the kids didn't. They didn't know what a Disney cruise was and for sure all the fun they would have. This time around, we didn't expect much of a reaction but we still wanted to make the surprise part fun. We were surprised and happy with how well it went.

And now, let me tell you, we are TO THE MOON excited!!! Everyone is. I've shown the kids videos and pictures online. We have talked all about it and made plans together. And we have been counting down the days. Hannah tells us every morning how many days are left. Joseph wakes up and asks each day if that is the day we are leaving...or does he have to go to school.

Well, Joseph, guess what? No more school days left!

Friday, January 8, 2016

hannah love

That's what our refrigerator looks like right now. The bottom four drawings were done on Sunday during Joe's sermon: me (with a book), Hannah (with a tree and bumblebees on the back), Daddy (at the pulpit, the altar is drawn on the back), and Raffie (Joseph's lovey...Joseph is on the back).

...And there's no denying the child "loves God and Jesus" - she writes it all the time.

In case you are wondering, that's a whale, a picture of her with Momma and Daddy, with her doll Maddalena. She drew a bunch of Christmas-themed pictures and cards. I especially loved the manger scenes.

Let it be known: Hannah is a prolific artist. She is creative and imaginative. She loves art supplies, and thanks to Aunt Katie at Christmas, has procured quite a collection of different media. The girl's got papers, crayons, pencils, paints, chalk, stickers, glitter, and on and on.

And she produces lots and lots of pieces. Lately it has been mostly drawings and notes (as she's learning to spell), but occasionally I receive a book (stapled pages together) or painting. She will proudly present each piece to us upon finishing. It is adorable. But it is also a little overwhelming. After all, I have to find a place to tuck away or display each piece. I can't say that I haven't thrown some away, indeed I have because of the sheer quantity. I really, really love the fact that she is a budding artist. She gets it from me, no doubt, and I'd rather not talk about art school tuition, but I love that she is creative and artsy.

For a long time, Hannah would finish a drawing and, somewhere wherever there is space, write "Hannah Love". Of course, she meant to write "Love, Hannah" but that's not how she did it. It would make me smile every time she came into whatever room I was in, put her drawing in my hand (oftentimes asking me to close my eyes first), and beam. Between her sweet smile looking up at me and "Hannah love", I was done. Be still my beating heart.

She would usually wait for a response. It could be just a thank you, hug, a compliment, or me immediately hanging the work right up on the refrigerator. Due to the number of times (a day!) this happens, I catch myself from over-praising her.

When the children were younger, I read that parents should be careful in giving praise and lavishing compliments on their children. That, while it's good to boost their self-confidence, we have to also be aware that we can give them an inflated sense of self and capabilities - and very interestingly - enable them to only perform or engage in an activity when praised. The study showed that children that are overly praised stop making an effort, or avoid altogether doing the activity.

All that to say, I try to mindful how I respond to Hannah's artwork presentations. I try to evaluate and make specifics comments like, "I love the way you drew those people" and "I like how you used so many colors."

Other times, I can't help myself and exclaim, "Hannah!! This is GREAT! I LOVE IT! You are such a little artist!!!" ;)

Even though she doesn't write "Hannah Love" anymore, I refer to all this artwork as Hannah Love. It is definitely a way she shows love...

She also defends her baby brother.

It just makes my mommy heart so happy.

During church a few weeks ago, she was acting up and I got on to her. This is what transpired.

Monday, January 4, 2016

ssi and new years

We ended 2015 with a young family clergy retreat at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island. It is a little winter getaway when all the younger families in the South Georgia Conference of UMC get together. We have a few learning sessions (which are typically great), a bunch of free time, and even (free) childcare one night so all the couples can go out to dinner!

It was a really good time, catching up with friends and getting to know other pastoral families. There is ample space for all the children (and there were lots of them) to run around and play in a safe environment. Hannah and Joseph had a ball.

Our first night there was a late one and included a campfire and s'mores. It was after ten before the kids went to bed and they crashed.

Both afternoons we were there, the weather was unbelievable - warm and mostly sunny. So, of course, I took them to the beach! The fact that we were unprepared, and didn't have bathing suits, did not stop us one bit.

Do you see the size of this tide pool? I'd never seen one so big. Hannah and Joseph were in heaven!

The water was freezing, but they didn't seem to notice. Joseph went in up to his chest, and Hannah took her skirt off and went up to her waist. No bathing suit? No problem!

After a meeting, Daddy came and helped build a sand castle. Then we headed back to the hotel (I ran back - weird it being so warm) to get ready for date night.

The retreat technically ended on Tuesday afternoon with group photos and sharing of Holy Communion.

We decided to stay another night and, while Joe went with a bunch of guys to see Star Wars, I took H+J back to the beach. It was mostly cloudy, but same tide pool situation and same amount of fun.

My little artist loves to write in the sand. She came up with this all on her own: "All of us are different to God! By Hannah Buck". Six-year-old wisdom. How profound - and right on - she is...

That night a few of us took our kids and went to Bubba Garcia's (yummy Mexican restaurant in Red Fern Village) and then to get frozen yogurt.

Fun times with friends. Hate that we don't all get together more than once a year. The whole working on Sundays thing...

We got back home last Wednesday night and ushered in the new year without much ado. The babies were in bed by 8:30 and Joe and I before midnight. No late night crazies here. It rained all day on Thursday and all Joseph wanted to do was ride his new police motorcycle. On Friday morning, he welcomed 2016 with a backyard patrol:

While I welcomed it with a cup of coffee in the living room, my Monkey by my side.

We decided to have our little celebration on New Year's Day. We took every glow-thing in the house and lit sparklers, while Joe prepared a lucky supper of turkey sausage, collard greens, a black-eyed pea/onion/quinoa mixture and cornbread. Delicious!

I accompanied Hannah on a 7th birthday outing to Lake Oconee on Saturday. Her friend, Elizabeth had an ice-skating party. Elizabeth's mom, my good friend Jennifer, asked me to come along and drive some of the girls. We skated at the Ritz Carlton Lodge and then had pizza and cake at Mellow Mushroom. So glad I could go; we had a great day!

The Christmas decorations are officially put away (a 3-day job), with which the whole family took part. I got a lot of help with taking the ornaments off the tree by playing a search-and-bring-to-Momma game:

So, Happy New Year!! We have had a good start to 2016 here on Evergreen Drive and are excited to see what 2016 has in store for us.