Thursday, December 19, 2013

One proud mama

I have experienced lots of proud moments with my three children in my short five years of parenting, but tonight topped them all!  Tonight was Clare's Christmas program at pre-school, but it was a bigger deal than most because Clare was scared.

In the fall Clare's young 5's class did a little play at school for the parents.  Clare was so, SO excited, but when she walked out with her class and saw the parents she got stage fright.  Not just a little, but full blown panic.   I wish I could say I handled it like a wonderful mom and showed incredible grace and support...but that's not what happened.  This was totally new for me, and for Clare, and I was flustered.  I didn't know how to help her and in my frustration with the situation I came across insensitive and unkind to my sweet little girl.

The next week I found a book on facing childhood worries and read all about how to empathize with their fears and be a face of calm when they are scared.  She had memorized Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid.  For the Lord your God will be with you" at school, so we began repeating that verse whenever Clare talked about being scared.  We made silly jokes about pretending everyone looked like reindeer and practiced yelling at the butterflies in our tummy to go away.  We read books about children doing performances and ballerinas on stage. 

And honestly, did I care if Clare overcame her stage fright at the age of 5?  That truly wasn't the goal.  But she had been so excited about her play, and was SO excited about this performance that I hated to see her fears allow her to miss exciting things, especially something she had looked forward to.

So tonight was the night.  Though Clare said she was excited all day, and LD and I had prayed she would make it through, I will admit I didn't have confidence it would happen. 

But she did it!!  She sang with her class, then she said her line in her class play, then sang a song with the school!  We had a big celebration tonight at Chick Fil A, not for being a star, but for being brave and trusting Jesus with her fears!

So proud of you Clare, and so thankful to be your mommy!!
Here is her big performance :) 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving adventures

We were supposed to leave for Michigan the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.  I was leisurely packing and running around Monday morning while Clare was at school when LD called at 1pm and said if we didn't leave by 4pm we were not going due to the expected snow storm.  I had nothing (NOTHING) in suitcases, I had not showered and I had to get Clare.  It was insanity, but at 4:30, we were on our way.

We have never done the drive in the night thing with the kids.  I am always way too scared about it being a disaster...but it was awesome!!  Everyone was asleep by 8:30 and slept til about 2:30 on and off.  At 3am when we got gas EVERYONE woke up but was quiet and content.  We pulled in at 3:30 and everyone slept til late the next morning.  We truly loved it so much that we decided to do the same thing on the way home.  Except on the way home LD and the kids slept from 8 til midnight while I packed the car and then we left at midnight and got home at 10:30am.  In that 10 1/2 hour drive that is normally 11 and a half with kids...we only stopped ONCE!!!!  At 6am we got gas and took a potty break and then finished the trip.  It was really great!!!
We spent days 1 and 2 of our trip in Reading with LD's family.   We did the usual - play with cousins, play with new toys and eat a LOT of food!!
We did an early Christmas with them and scored some fun toys that kept us entertained the rest of the trip!
LDs mom hosted 22 people (TWENTY-TWO!!) at their house for dinner, so we were busy.
And this is our niece Kara's first year at Purdue, so everyone got some new clothes to show off school pride :)
Days 3 and 4 were spent at my parents, and my older sister, her husband, their kids and boyfriend/girlfriend also spent the entire weekend with us.  It was so fun to all be in one place!

We got to hang out with MORE cousins, eat yummy food, and do another family Christmas!
We also joined the crazies and did some shopping on Thanksgiving night from 9pm til 1am.

Before heading home, our last day in Michigan we went to Cabella's, which is super fun this time of year.

And had to stop for dounuts.  Also, if you are from Michigan and ever in Dundee, my very favorite candle store called Swan Creek is in downtown and we made a fun stop there and stopped for pizza too.  So at the end of the day, everyone got something fun!

The last two years downtown Blissfield where my parents live have a light parade the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  We were all bundled up and ready to go and there was NO ONE in town.  I guess they changed the date to later in December for this year.  (BUMMER)  To avoid a LOT of tears, we ducked in for a quick scoop of ice cream instead :)  That was just a few hours before we put them to bed and headed home at midnight!
Successful and fun filled trip.  We were so thankful to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with so many of our family members!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Set free by a sunrise

Normal days for me are crazy and hectic, but every night when I settle into bed, I have peace.  I may have a bad day, but I know who I am, why I am here, and that I am loved completely and fully. 

In the last few weeks, I really struggled to quiet my heart.  I just have felt an unsettling, an unrest that would not let up.  It was beginning to affect my parenting, my relationships, my attitude and my days.  I knew I needed to find the peace that I had known so well.

I decided to unplug myself from the world for a time.  I de-activated facebook, stopped reading blogs, and started focusing on the things I knew to be true in my life.  I didn't do it for any reason but to re-focus myself, but what I gained was so much more.

This verse came to mind a few days ago and it resonated so deeply with me.  "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  Philippians 4: 7-9 

Our family drove to Michigan last week to celebrate Thanksgiving and decided on a whim to drive through the night on the way home.  LD drove from midnight til 7 and he was fading fast.  I took over with a huge coffee in hand and he was fast asleep in the back seat.  The car was incredibly quiet as we drove through the mountains and the sun was just starting to wake up.  The sky was a beautiful pink color - and it happened - my peace was back. 

It was almost as if God chuckled and said "Did you forget how big I was?!  Did you forget that I wake the sun every morning without fail?  Did you forget that I am fully and completely in control?"

Its so easy to lose focus.  It breaks my heart to think that people believe God set up rules for us to follow as bondage.  His rules offer so much freedom!  If I choose to live as Philippians 4 says and think only on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable - and ONLY those things, I have freed myself from carrying weight on my shoulders that was never meant to be there.

I still will have bad days, crazy mornings, bad parenting moments, and once in a while I may go to bed with unrest - but I have no doubt that I was bought with a price and am loved completely and fully.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Happy 3rd Miss Elle Bell

My middle, my very sweet and very spunky little girl is 3!  I am so happy to see 2 go as they held many little battles between us, but with them came many great accomplishments!  Now at the age of 3, Elle is potty trained, sleeping in a big girl bed with no paci (we have arrived!!)

Since Elle's birthday was on a Monday, we celebrated as a family on Sunday.

And Elle got a big girl bike.  She knows how to petal on her trike, but is realizing the big girl bike takes a little more effort!  It's so tiny and cute, I love seeing her on it!

And I tried my hand at baking my first birthday cake from scratch with homemade frosting and it came out pretty yummy!! 

I didn't tell any of the kids, but we had planned a PJ birthday party for Elle and her friends for Monday morning while Clare was at school and Cole was napping.  I thought it would be a great way for her to feel extra special and be the center of attention with her friends.

And I have to say, it was really cute and a big success!! 

The girls played SO well together, we made fruit loop necklaces and had donuts as our "cake."  I am learning quickly how to have a party with lots of fun, little mess and little expense. :)

Elle is blessed to have a sweet group of blondies she can call her friends.  Little girls to learn with, grow with, play dress up and babies, and most importantly the art of friendship and how beautiful it is.
I feel like this picture is so priceless!  Sweet little girls in all their innocence and beauty!
Thank you Elle for letting me be your mommy!  Happy 3rd birthday!

Fall festivities

We decided to pack all fall activities into one short week and make sure we could check it all off our list.  LD and Clare were both at home for Columbus Day so we thought it would be a great day to drive to the mountains to the apple orchard.

It's about a 2 hour drive and the weather didn't look promising, but LD is always much more open to these big adventures than I am.  I kept saying it was raining and he kept telling me we were in a cloud.  Either was misty, but not too cold and ended up turning into a nice day.

The girls love Sky Top Orchards because there are 3 or 4 swing sets and a few playhouses.

I love it because they have apple cider donuts and it is beautiful being in the mountains!

But these little girl's legs (especially Elle's) were tired from all the walking.  And of course LD was determined to find the apples that we had sampled and liked, so we walked A LOT!

But it was a perfect fall day, with fall weather and we came home with a lot of apples!  I even made some yummy apple butter!

The next day Clare's school had a field trip to Aw Shucks! and since they are so little you just drive and stay for the preschool day.  

It was set up so cute with 7 little stations all having to do with corn or farm work.  So at this station they talked about silos and pretended to be a piece of corn sliding down.

And then they planted their own corn and watered it, picked a pumpkin, went on a hay ride, walked through a corn maze, milked a cow and collected eggs.

Such a fun day with my little girlies!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My big little girl

This picture is a perfect description of my sweet 5 year old.  Clare is ALL girl, loves drama, dress up, and princesses.  And for her birthday...she wanted a party!  Since we had just gotten home from Disney, I knew I did not have the energy and daddy was NOT going to go for a party.
So, we settled on a porch party!  Thankfully I have the worlds most gracious neighbors and they happily participated in this little event.

All of our neighbors came and hung out while Clare opened some presents, sang happy birthday and ate some cupcakes.  Best. party. ever. 
Clare was very cute, because she was highly concerned about the decorations.  I kept telling her I had it taken care of, but she needed to approve of all of it.  On her way home from preschool she asked if I would please call the guests and tell them it was a dress up party.  After I informed her that no, that would not be happening, we decided she could dress up on her own.

(Mo and Cole are having a stare down)

Grandma and Grandpa had brought her some presents and Grandma had the perfect party dress.  And it is quite grand!  I honestly thought she would get shy or embarrassed, but she walked around the yard in her high heels and party dress the entire time.

This is the crew of Clare's "friends" consisting of all big kids, most of them being in middle or high school and they were all sweet enough to participate in Clare's fifth birthday.  It was really sweet.

Then, the next day was Clare's REAL birthday, so I brought cupcakes in for her to enjoy with her class.
Yes, this girl is going to need a detox after Disney, grandparents and a birthday week!
Happy Birthday sweet Clare Bear!  You are a joy to our home and a light in my life.  I am so blessed and proud to be your mommy!

Our trip to the happiest place on earth

I am so excited to be able to post about our trip to Disney.  Disney World is one of those crazy places that you plan forever (and ever and ever) and the anticipation is great to see all of your planning to come together, the trip is an exhausting whirlwind and you come home and cannot believe it is here and gone. 
That said, we had an awesome time!!
I decided early on to leave Cole at home with LD's parents who graciously came and stayed at our house with him.  It was the best decision...ever.  During this trip I realized Elle is still really little and she needed to be the baby of the trip.  She was very exhausted and required lots of TLC.

LD had found amazing flight prices so we flew down on Thursday, went to Epcot and had dinner with the princesses, went to Hollywood Studios Friday to meet Princess Sophia and had dinner that evening with Cinderella and her family at Grand Floridian.  On Saturday and Sunday we went to Magic Kingdom and flew home Monday. 
The best part of this trip is that we went during "free Dining" which means, yes, all of our meals were free...totally free, and it even included character meals.  We all had 4 sit down meal tickets, 4 counter service meal tickets and 4 snacks for the trip.  And yes, it was a LOT of food, but when we came home we had spend a grand total of $165 the ENTIRE 5 days including all of our souvenires.  I think we will always plan to go this route!

Our biggest goal of the trip was to see as many princesses as possible.  Both of my girls LOVE princesses, and watching them meet and interact with them was the highlight of our trip.  My favorite line of Clare's after having dinner the first night with all the princesses was "Mom, you never let me pray for the princesses, but I told you they ARE real and now I can pray for them."  I mean how do you argue with that.  So yes, now we pray nightly for Aurora, Snow White and Tiana.

The other great part is that we have read all of the older Disney stories like Alice in Wonderland, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and I highly recommend doing that before going.  When the parades or shows were going on, the girls knew all of the characters and that made it so much more fun. 

A big surprise to us was how much both girls LOVED rides.  We have never been to any kind of theme park at all so we had no clue how it would go.  Elle was too short to ride any big rides, which was a bummer and caused a few total meltdowns.  But, both girls rode the Pirate ride, Haunted Mansion and every other ride that doesn't require a height limit.
Clare rode the test track at Epcot, Splash Mountain twice and Thunder Mountain Railroad THREE times.  She loved it.  She told LD the first time halfway through she almost spit up, which had him panicked...but she made it!

As with all things Disney, the interactions with the princesses was so cute.  Clare carried on real conversations with them about different characters and Snow White told her that Dopey had taken all of her jewels and Clare was seriously concerned.

Also funny...Clare would not look at, interact or even acknowledge any prince.  This picture totally cracks me up because she would not even set down her chicken leg for the picture.

I hope we go back again in a few years so Cole can go with us.  We already have mentioned it to family to start saving so we can all go together.  Never did I think I would be a huge Disney person, but yes...I fell for the trap.  It really is -

the happiest place on earth!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Big weekend

We like to end in style, so the Jackson's had a pretty big last weekend of summer!  Two of our favorite families ever were in town (the Kirks from Boston and the Watts from Missouri), so we had a LOT of playtime!

Friday with everyone in town we had scheduled a playdate.  Thankfully, everyone was up for my super crazy idea to head 2 hrs to the Columbia zoo with 7 adults and 8 kids (3 which are under a year).

Cole got to hang out with his best buddy Henry, who is just 2 day younger than him.
And my girls were thrilled with just having friends around.
Cole and Henry were hilarious grabbing at each other's paci's, shirts and toys.
And Elle was thrilled with a little more time with her sweet friend Mae.  They haven't seen each other since January and picked right back up where they left off...just like true girlfriends!

Jude is a riot.  He talks in HUGE complete sentences and has great expressions.  He was the only one brave enough to feed the giraffes and he loved it.  I mean his hand was just about in the giraffes mouth!

My two girls (the OLDEST two kids) loved the luxury of extra unused strollers and extra adults willing to push them around.

And I was reminded why I am not taking Cole to Disney world.  He didn't bat an eye, but not happy in his stroller.  He desperately wanted to be held and thankfully everyone was willing to pass him around.

Then early Saturday morning we had a massive two year old play date for everyone to get more playtime with Jude before he headed back to Boston.

Followed by the first Michigan game of the year and the first Michigan game ever that LD was able to share with his sweet.  I know LD is already excited to one day take Cole with him to the Big House :)

Monday we were invited over to friends to hang out more with Mae Mae and baby Henry before they had to head back to Missouri.

There were lots of sweet little babies to play with and everyone had such a great time!
Now...we are truly ready to get back to school and into the fall routine after such a fun weekend!!!