Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Maine!

If our previous Christmas letters have been “old hat”, we finally have NEWS this year:

January was spent researching Residency programs, schools, neighborhoods, etc, and creating a “match list” of where the Mr. hoped to complete his residency.

February seemed to last forever as we awaited the news of where we would move.

March 18th, “Match Day,” we learned that the Mr. had matched for a 3 year Internal Medicine Residency at Maine Medical Center in Portland, ME, to begin in June.

April found us packing our belongings, wrapping up our 9 years in Utah, and taking a quick trip to Oregon to bid farewell to family there.

May brought Graduation and a move to Maine on the same day!

June found us settling into a HOUSE! Goodbye little apartment, hello 2400 sq feet! J

July marked “Dr. Buchanan’s” first month of Residency.

August meant our 9th anniversary, a visit from our dear friend Bea, and a delightful week at Lake Picasset with our new friends, the O’Malleys and Richardsons.

September marked Angel’s First Day of Kindergarten

October brought a much-anticipated visit from our Oma & Opa! What fun!

November reminded us of the multitude of blessings for which we are ever grateful!

December will be bittersweet as we enjoy the wonderful holiday season, witness our first “New England winter”, and think fondly of our loved ones far away.

Our Top 10 in 2010

10 – number of states on our “match list”

9 – Packing 9 years into 1 Penske truck

8 – months since we left Utah

7 – days a week we miss our loved ones

6 – the number of days the Mr. has had off since July

5 – the age of our newest Kindergartner

4 – the Mr. driving the Penske from UT to ME in 4 days!

3 – incredible children who keep getting cuter

2 – bathrooms in our new house! At last!

1 – happy family, no matter where we are

Wishing you and yours the best, this holiday season and always!

With love, The Buchanans

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Why I just can't get anything done around here...

...Because ALL I want to do is look at these little lovelies all day long! Can you blame me?
Man, I am one lucky mother!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Have I mentioned that I'm grateful for Grins' dimples? I love them. Every time I look at his smile, I want to eat him right up. Sometimes I actually do - he's delicious!

Today, as we were getting in the car, he said, "Thank you for your kindness, Mommy!"
This little man melts my heart! I am SO grateful for my children, grateful to be a mother, and grateful for the honor and priviledge of being with my children (almost) every waking moment!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas Cards....

Tis the season for sending out Christmas cards/letters/greetings! This is one of my favorite Christmas traditions; sending out letters to family/loved ones I may not have seen in awhile, and also receiving cards and hearing about what everyone else has been up to this year! I made it a goal when I was married to do a Christmas letter every year - and so far, so good (although I may not be on time every year... I think the year Wiggles was born they were more like Valentine's cards....!)

Anyway, I recently heard about a promotion going on right now on Shutterfly where bloggers can receive 50 Christmas cards for free! I have done photobooks on Shutterfly in the past - last year I gave them to our mothers and grandmother and had to keep one for myself, of course! And everyone LOVED them! But I haven't yet made cards with shutterfly...but when I checked out their ENORMOUS selection of Christmas cards, I felt like a kid in a candy store! Truly! They have SO many, it is impossible to choose just one style! But I did narrow it down to my top 4 favorites:

With Love Chartreuse - I often choose cards with multiple pictures because I love putting a family shot, along with individual pics of my children! This one really caught my eye - I love it!

Bright Christmas Story - I love that this has 3 pictures - for my 3 little lovelies - and think it's especially nice that you can add a little sentence about each one - perfect!

Love 2010 - This one really jumped out at me since I have actually already written our Christmas letter - which had our Top 10 for the year! So I couldn't believe they had actually designed a card for that! Wow!

Pine Cone Toile - I love the marriage of modern with classic and traditional - beautiful!

Hurry on over to Shutterfly right now to check out this great promotion, and to pick out your favorite! I'm sure such an amazing deal won't last long! :)

By the way - if you've already done your Christmas cards but are still shopping for Christmas presents, they have TONS of great ideas.... Photo calendars are a great idea, and they also have an entire section on lots of different photo gift ideas! And if you're done with your Christmas planning, check out their awesome New Year's Invitations and Birthday Invitations! They really have it all! :) And, I just have to say, I have been very impressed with their customer service as well - which is HUGE for me! They respond to emails/inquiries right away!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Reverent laughter?

Why have the majority of my posts been about prayers lately? I don't know. But here's the latest funny to add:

Wiggles, as I've mentioned previously, likes to pray "Please bless Daddy to ride his bike safely on the road." (He's gone for 99% of her prayers, and bikes to and from work, so this is actually a much-needed prayer, and I appreciate her thoughtfulness.) She also likes to ask "Please help me to sleep all through the night in my own bed" (uh, have we brain washed her enough? :) But what's even funnier is that she has started mimicking Grins' 'Please 1, Please 2, Please 3... although she doesn't stop at 3 - last night she went up to Please 22 before I finally redirected her. But I digress....) Anyway, this evening at dinner she said "Please help Daddy to sleep through the night on his own bike" at which point I, completely caught off guard, guffawed, and then, trying to stifle the laughter mid-prayer, proceeded to make some sort of snorting noise. At this, Wiggles considered her words and said "No, not sleep on his own bike. Please help Daddy to
ride his bike on the ROAD and sleep in his own BED" ...but by this time, having heard my unintentional outburst, her older siblings were already laughing as well, and her sweet little prayer of faith managed to evolve into a slightly irreverent giggle fest. But, I'm pretty sure the recipient of the prayer was laughing too, and He knows the intent of our hearts....

I'm so grateful for the faith of my sweet little Giggles. When she prays, she really is talking to God. Pure and simple. It's beautiful.
(This picture has nothing to do with the post but it's so exciting because I took it today! I got a new camera (THANK YOU MOM&DAD B!!!), so I can once again capture these beautiful little moments, like my children all snuggled together, reading.....this is how I find them almost every evening as I prepare dinner. I love it!)

Which brings me to my next topic....gratitude. I actually started this in my personal journal a few days ago, but haven't had an opportunity to blog about it until now. A couple of friends of mine have been blogging about things they are grateful for; one for a month (here), and another for an entire year! (here). I hesitated to jump on the bandwagon at first, since 1) I am not normally a 'bandwagon jumper' so-to-speak, and 2) I don't blog every day. But I finally decided that jumping on a good bandwagon can actually be a very positive thing to do, and that I needn't blog every day to benefit from such an experiment; I will simply write my reasons to be grateful in my journal, and blog about them as I am able. Again, more for my benefit than anyone reading, but there you have it. Blogging is just a little more exciting than a journal because I can add a little picture. :)

So, for today: Wiggles' faith. It makes me smile....and sometimes even laugh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

101 in 365

I saw this on another blog and thought it was a great idea. The list I saw was 101 in 1001, but I don't think I can wait 3 years to get to I'm shooting for a year! That should still give me plenty of here I go! I will return and change the color of the items I complete - and add a post for the 'tangible'/visible projects (if I'm feeling extra motivated.)

1. Potty train Wiggles
2. Paint my computer armoire black and add hardware
3. Hang pictures on my walls
4. Finish painting the front room
5. Paint the great room
6. Rearrange the front room furniture
7. Build a shelf for my entry
8. Create an art supplies storage system
9. Not raise my voice at my children for an entire week
10. Teach Grins to read
11. Clean out the storage shed
12. Have another baby
13. Teach Angel some basic piano lessons
14. Teach Wiggles to read
15. Get rid of things I haven't used in 6 months
16. Get rid of the antique bottles I dug up in the yard
17. Organize my garage
18. Make the kids job boards
19. Create a better storage system for the coat closet
20. Rake all the leaves in my yard (not that I haven't already done it, but I think the leaves are finally finished falling so this might be the last time this season?)
21. Organize the kids' closet
22. Install mirrors
23. Clean off the bar
24. Organize and label the food storage
25. Organize my recipes
26. Organize my magazine clippings
27. Organize my filing cabinet
28. Set up my new ipod touch :)
29. Vacuum the car
30. Get a shop vac so I can vacuum my car from home!
31. Set up a good 'drop zone' for the Mr.
32. Get on a better shopping/meal planning schedule
33. Stick to a 'computer time' budget for at least 1 week
34. Run a race
35. Go without after-dinner snacks for at least 1 week
36. Put hooks in the kids closet
37. Organize the hair accessories
38. Find a cute way to organize my jewelry
39. Organize the desk
40. Implement a good system for dealing with 'hot spots'
41. Implement a good deep cleaning schedule
42. Implement a good scrapbooking schedule
43. Get curtains back up in the front room (must finish painting first....)
44. Put a valance in my kitchen window
45. Hang curtains in the dining room
46. Hang curtains in the kitchen
47. Sew or alter at least one item
48. Make bread
49. Write in my journal every day for a month
50. Set up Sunday stations again
51. Set up a Family Home Evening lesson file
52. Set up our Family Home Evening board
53. Involve the children in Family Home Evening more
54. Organize a "paper" system
55. Change the oil in the car by myself (I always wait for the Mr. but it is something I could do on my own!)
56. Set up my new bookshelf!
57. Sort through my scrapbook things
58. Come up with a system for preserving the childrens' creations
60. Make a book of Family Traditions we enjoy and others we would like to implement
61. Catch up on Christmas ornaments (I've sort of gotten out of the habit the last 2 years....)
62. Organize my 'misc' closet
63. Organize my armoire
64. Organize my cedar chest
65. Set up a 'mud room' in the basement before the snow starts
66. Move my armoire to make room for the wood stove
67. Toast marshmallows in our fireplace!
68. Have a yard sale and DECLUTTER (this will obviously have to wait until Spring!)
69. Carol and deliver holiday goodies to everyone on our street
70. Get our Christmas Cards out the day after Thanksgiving
71. Exercise 5 days/week for at least a month
72. Make a new yule log for our family tradition
73. Set up a "Gift Shop" where my children can spend their chore bucks on gifts for family members and friends
74. Host a Christmas Caroling (or other sort of) party in our neighborhood
75. Update our 72 hour kits with warm clothing
76. Do a Fall Cleaning of our house (Deep cleaning)
77. Organize my laundry room closet
78. Be completely prepared for the sabbath on Sat night for a consecutive month
79. Have a "yes" day for my children
80. Go on a date with the Mr.
81. Go to the temple at least 4 times before June 2011
82. Get my Maine Physician Assistant Licensure
83. Take pictures (and blog them) of my children every Sunday for a month. (I can do this now that I have a new camera!!!!! THANK YOU Mom and Dad B!!!!)
84. Implement a good photo organization/sharing system.
85. Implement a new 'responsibility' motivation system for the children.
86. Stay home at least 1 weekday/week for a month.
87. Do a good, thorough cleaning of my house each week for a month.
88. Do a family service project at least once a month for 6 consecutive months.
89. Put on a family play.
90. Perform a song as a family.
91. Visit family in Utah and/or Oregon.
92. Get Angel's camera hooked up and teach her to use it.
93. Host a family sock hop
94. Implement a better recycling system
95. Smooth out and lay rocks in the driveway
96. Finish our gratitude chain (taller than the house)
97. Blog every Sunday for 2 months
98. Remember and call/send a card to every family member on their birthday for an entire year
99. Keep a New Year's Resolution for a least the entire month of January
100. Leave the Mr. a love every day for a week.
101. Not complain about how much the Mr. is gone (aloud OR to myself) for an entire week! (NOT counting the week he is off....)
102. (OK, I keep thinking of more; why stop at 101?) Dance with my children every day for at least a week.
103. Have a freezer cooking day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I LOVE that Thanksgiving comes right before Christmas! I adore Christmas, truly! But unfortunately I feel it often turns into a commercial, self-serving holiday (wish lists, visits to Santa to tell him what I want, etc.) such that the true meanings of the holiday (peace, joy, love, generosity, etc) play a less-significant role than they should. So, I find it especially meaningful that Thanksgiving comes in at just the right moment to remind us of ALL we have to be grateful for. Because remembering our blessings is a GREAT cure for (what we like to call) the "gimmies"!

We often put up little "hand" turkeys with things we are grateful for, but this year we decided it would be fun to make a chain, and to see how long the chain could be. Could it be taller than Daddy? Taller than the ceiling? Taller than the HOUSE? (this is a very exciting concept to a 4 year old - something larger than a house!) Each link in the chain contained something for which our family (or a member of our family) is grateful. This is what we came up with in our first 5 minutes (currently taller than the ceiling - we will need to revisit it this week to reach our 'taller than the house' goal). In the order in which they were shouted out by excited family members: (And I have to say, our children really impressed us in their creativity! We asked them to think beyond the standard answers....and they certainly did!)

The Temple
Skype (Grins! - He loves skyping family!)
Spell check
REAL maple syrup (not the corn syrup kind!)
Bums (We thought Grins was just being silly here but he explained that, if we didn't each have a 'bum', we wouldn't be able to rid our bodies of waste....which would make us sick.....which would be bad. So we honor the submission. lol.)
Ben and Jerry's
Our House
Swimming Pools
Running Water
Freedom of Religion
Founding Fathers
Eating utensils
Sewing machine
baby dolls

We will update our list when it is complete....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Go Away!!!!

I consider myself an animal-lover. I mean, I don't have any pets, and I do occasionally eat poultry and fish, but when I see an animal I treat it with respect. If it is particularly cute I may even go so far as to say "Awwww" and give it a friendly pat or rub. I have even been known to make/hang bird feeders near my house, throw goodies out for the squirrels, and even hand-feed carrots to wild deer(!). But wildlife is now cramping my style.

When my precious little squash and watermelon seedlings went missing just a couple of days after I had transplanted them into the ground, I was sad. When the pumpkins my children were working so hard to cultivate were nibbled on (under the fence!), I was upset. When my compost bin was ravaged and the remnants scattered around my yard, I was angry. But finding animal excrement on my back deck.....HORRIFIED! and, a little bit furious!

(OK, it's not quite THIS fat.....but pretty close!)

Aside from cleaning up scattered compost every morning, I am very much done with cleaning up some very disgusting bodily products (I can't even tell which end of the animal it's coming from.....ewwwww!) which are left in my path every day. To make matters worse, I have spotted the culprit on many occasions - and it is GIGANTIC! I had no idea raccoons could get this fat! Seriously! And that makes me even more mad because I know it's NOT starving - most of that fat probably came from MY compost bin! :) And it apparently lives in a tree! As fat as it is, when I come to scare it away, it jumps off my deck, runs across the backyard, and CLIMBS UP THE TREE! I mean, really! The first time it happened I could not even believe my eyes!

So, in short, I have had it. I am even entertaining thoughts of bb guns! So, my question is: how do I humanely solve this little problem of mine? Anyone?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Birthday Wiggles!

Dearest Wiggles,

Happy Birthday, love! Where has the time gone; how can you be two years old already? I think, of all my children, you grow the fastest; not just because you are the smallest, but because time just seems to fly by when you're around! I truly can't believe it was two years ago that I first held you in my arms - I remember the moment as if it were this morning! And yet, I can't even remember my life without you. You are SO precious to me!

If I've ever felt you were my greatest challenge, there is no question that you are my greatest joy. You are my fire and ice - happier than happy ever was one moment, screaming bloody murder because someone looked at you funny the next. You certainly make life exciting for everyone around you, and you are sure to keep me on my toes! No dull moments in our family since you joined us, that's for sure!

Wiggles, Nov 2008

You are a lover. You want to give loves (tight, squeezing hugs and wet kisses!) to each member of our family (and friends) several times each day! "I wanna give you a UG, Daddy!" you demand each morning, regardless of how many hugs you've already given him. You love your brother and sister SO much and want to do EVERYTHING they do. Without exception. You wear Angel's huge backpack (it nearly touches the ground, it's so large on you!) and say "I wanna ride 'da bus!" You wrestle with Grins, and you are even starting to hold your own! And you are always quick to notice if I'm upset/startled/hurt/etc (even when no one else has a clue! You are very perceptive!) You'll say "What, Mommy?", climb up on my lap, and snuggle me until nothing else matters in the world.
Wiggles, Feb 2009 - What a sport!

You are a singer! I don't remember ever hearing a child your age - or any age for that matter, sing as much as you do! You've been singing almost before you could speak (which you did early!) Your current favorites are: "The Lord is my Light" ("Da Yode is my ya-ah-ah-aeet, he is my soy and my song...") "I Am a Child of God" ("I sing 'I am a Thiod of Dod' to my baby, Mommy!"), "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", "Row, Row Your Boat", "Mr. Moon", "The Wheels on the Bus", "I Love to See The Temple", "The Eensy Weensy Spider", "Jesus Loved the Little Children", "Follow the Prophet", etc to name just a few. Your singing is the sweetest, most angelic, (not to mention funniest) I've ever heard! I LOVE listening to your sweet little voice and adorable pronunciations! And I love that you are willing to share your music on demand - you are constantly performing for anyone who will listen. You are certainly a performer!

Wiggles, Aug 2009

Speaking of performing, you are also a born acrobat! Every week at FHE Sharing Time, you show us your somersault off the couch - which may not seem entirely impressive given the fact that you are now 2 years old....but is, in fact, amazing, because you've been doing it since you were just over 1 year old! It used to make me so nervous - but you've always been a dare-devil. When we first arrived in Maine, we went to a playground and you climbed to the top of a rock-wall tower - completely out of my reach (7 feet high at least!) and started swinging from the bar. I panicked and scrambled up to get you, but you weren't frightened in the least - just swinging away to your heart's content, shouting "Wheeeeee!" as loud as you could. You certainly have your father's sense of invincibility! :)

Wiggles, Nov 2009

You are determined! You want to do everything "Self". You may scream and throw a fit at not being able to shut the car door by yourself - but the moment I try to help you scream even louder! "No! I want to do it myself, Mommy!" you demand. I have definitely learned patience as we wait for you to dress yourself, feed yourself, buckle yourself into the carseat, remove yourself from difficult situations (eg in the legs of a dining chair), etc. And you are certainly worth the wait - every minute of it!

Wiggles, Jan 2010

You are a snuggler. One of my favorite features of you is the way you freely give snuggles. You hug with your whole body, and you give long hugs too - not the quick, millisecond hugs so many distractable children offer - you will wrap your arms around me for minutes at a time. Which is saying a LOT, considering you are never that still for that long otherwise! (Hence your nickname.) As busy as you are, (constantly moving/exploring/learning/struggling to do something yourself/coloring on the floor/etc
), you will ALWAYS make time to snuggle!

You LOVE to laugh. You LOVE the "Cut the Pickle...tickle, tickle" joke and you absolutely adore being tickled. And tickled. And tickled some more, until my fingers are sore. And how can I resist? If tickling your round belly weren't reward enough, your delicious and infectious giggles and laughter are the icing on the cake!

Wiggles, May 2010

My dear, sweet child. You mean more to me than words will ever be able to say. You are my heart and soul. You mean everything to me. You have challenged and stretched me, and have brought more joy to my life - and the life of our family - than I ever thought possible.

These past two years have been treasures! I can't wait to see what the next two - and beyond - will bring! I love you, Wiggles, with all my heart!

Love, Mommy

(ETA: To our distant loved ones, I'm sorry there are no current pictures of Wiggles. Sadly, we haven't had a camera the past couple of months, so these are our most recent photos. But she was almost as cute then as she is now, so you get the idea....)

Friday, November 05, 2010

Another "prayer" post...

Lately, Grins has been frightened at night, and has taken to saying "Please, please, please, please, please......(more pleases than we can count) help me be safe." I finally said "(Grins), you need to limit yourself to 3 pleases per prayer." That night, he said "Please number 1, Please number 2, Please number 3 help me be safe!" The Mr. and I got a good chuckle over that one.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

POWER and Prayer

My Grins may be small but his faith far exceeds his size! He is always the first to suggest that we pray (when lost, when something is missing, etc.) It brings me so much joy to see his little budding testimony grow, and his childlike faith is such an example to the doubter/skeptic in me.
Friday, I was in charge of a large activity at our church, and was in the middle of a very busy day. I had run some errands, returned home briefly to unload the car, then needed to quickly head back out the door. But I could not find my keys! I frantically searched, already running behind, but knowing they had to be nearby since I had just used them to drive home. Then suddenly, dread filled my heart as I realized I could have accidentally locked them in the car. I began to panic, then decided again to enlist Grins' faith in my cause. "Grins, I need to find my keys. Will you help me pray?" He was, of course, eager and willing. But after our first, brief prayer, we had no success. Frustrated and stressed, I began thinking of other options, when he suddenly said "Mommy, wait, let me say one more prayer!"

His prayer was so simple and pure: "...Heavenly Father, we know you have SO, SO, SO much power. Can you please let us have just a tiny bit of Your power so we can find the keys? You have SO much and if you just share a little bit with us then we can find the keys...." My first thought was "Well, now I know for certain we'll find them - surely God can't help but honor such a sweet little request?!" As soon as we said "Amen" Grins jumped up and said, "I remember, you put them on the ledge!" I checked the ledge but, when they weren't there, began doubting (oh, how quick to doubt I am!) Then, miraculously, I looked down into a crevace, where they must have fallen from off the ledge, but which had previously been hidden from view. I couldn't believe how quickly they missing keys were found.

This was such a simple, little miracle, but such a tender moment for me to recognize my son's faith, and gratitude that he had the opportunity to experience, firsthand, the power of prayer. It brought me back to my own, very first experience of the power of prayer, as a young girl of 3 or 4 years (just like Grins!) I remember being at a Christmas Bazaar at a HUGE expo center with hundreds and hundreds of people. Toward the beginning of the Bazaar, I had purchased a tiny baby doll that fit in the palm of my preschool-sized hand. It even came complete with an even tinier pacifier (small enough to fit in the very small baby's mouth...smaller than a pea.) Halfway through the bazaar (around and through which we had walked for quite awhile), I realized, with as much sadness as my 4-yr-old heart had known, that my baby's pacifier was missing. I immediately alerted my father to this fact, and he said "That's too bad." When I asked if we could go look for it, he said "Well, that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack!" I can't remember whether it was he or I that suggested we pray, but I do remember him (all 6 feet 5 of him) kneeling down in the middle of the walkway with me, amidst hundreds of people walking around us, and praying that we could find the baby binkie. Can you guess where this is going? Yes, we got up, and not 10 steps later, we found the pacifier. And I still remember the incredulous - and relieved - look on my dad's face. But mostly, I remember the power of prayer, and how a kind and loving Heavenly Father took a moment from his eternally busy schedule to answer the insignificant prayer of a little 4 year old girl because it meant the world to her.

And it is so wonderful to see this come full circle, in the life of my own child. Man, I LOVE being a mother!!! And I am so blessed to have been born of goodly parents. My heart is so full tonight!

(Note: because I am currently WC (without-camera), I am using old pictures that *sort of* relate to my post - the top is Grins and Angel snuggling in the morning, just because it's so cute. And last is a picture of my Dad and my children - 4 of the people I love most!)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oma and Opa

Our "Oma and Opa" (Grandma & Grandpa) are paying us a visit from Utah and we are thoroughly enjoying every minute of it!!! It is like Heaven having them here - not just for the kids, but for the Mr. and I too! Our children are loving all the snuggles, stories, and 'horsey' rides, and I am loving the adult conversation, help with the children, and wonderful company! I only wish their visit would last much longer, but we are taking advantage of our time together and enjoying every minute!
Grins is definitely an Oma's boy! The first day they were here, he asked her to read him a book. One book turned into about twenty (Oma is SO accommodating!), and then after a few games and a LOT of tickles, Grins asked if he could take a nap with Oma. Being the wonderful Grandmother she is, she consented, and from then on he's been hooked. He sets the table and tells everyone where to sit, to be certain he gets to sit by Oma. He asks to sit by her in the car, wants her to read him stories at night, tuck him in, brush his teeth, and even get him up from his nap. It is SO endearing to see the love and adoration he has for her and hope they will always share such a special relationship!

Angel is equally enchanted. She spent over an hour this afternoon, watching Oma work on a sewing project. And the morning after they treated us to dinner at McDonald's (a rare treat!), the first thing Angel wanted to do when she awoke in the morning was make a card for Oma and Opa, thanking them for the fun time.

When Oma came up the stairs the first morning, Wiggles was quiet for about 2 minutes - the longest (wakeful) stretch of quiet I've ever known from her (unless she's doing something mischievous like coloring the walls or painting with my makeup...). She snuggled on my shoulder for a minute or two before walking right into Oma's arms for a big hug, and she hasn't been quiet since! Oma and Opa are SO patient with her incessant singing, shouting, etc!

So far, in addition to their company, we've enjoyed a beautiful walk in the cemetery and ponds and some visits to forts and light houses - even a new one we hadn't yet seen! And we are looking forward to a little family history trip tomorrow!

We are so blessed to have such wonderful family! Thank you for the great times and memories, Oma and Opa! Can we possibly talk you into a few more days (weeks?!) You will be missed!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Little Sweetheart

As I've mentioned before, Wiggles loves praying. Up until this point, however, her prayers have simply consisted of repeating what we whisper to her, usually to the effect of "Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for this day. We thank Thee for this food. We ask Thee to bless it, to nourish and strengthen our bodies. Please help us to be kind, and to do what is right. In Jesus' name, Amen." She has gotten to the point where she can repeat this almost verbatim, and generally does just that (though usually she prefers the helpful promptings). Even her elder brother and sister often repeat very similar prayers, and we are constantly encouraging them to try to add new or different things to their prayers. Still, when Wiggles prays, you always know exactly what you'll get.

Until yesterday, that is, when she mixed things up a bit. At breakfast (The Mr. was already at school) I went through my normal promptings and she repeated everything beautifully. Until the end. When I started to say "In the name..." she cut me off and said "No, Mommy! Bless Daddy!"

"OK" I said, a little surprised but willing to follow her lead, "Please bless Daddy, in the name..."

"No! Bless Daddy on his BIKE!"

"OK, Please bless Daddy on his bike, in the name..."

"No! Please bless Daddy on his bike - SAFE!"

(Impressed at her detail and this new change of events!) "OK, Please bless Daddy to be SAFE on his bike....anything else?"

"Daddy on his bike, safe on the ROAD! Name of Jesus Christ, AMEN!"

The kids and I had a good laugh about that, but the Mr. was just thrilled when we relayed the story to him later. What a sweet and thoughtful little Wiggles!

I LOVE (and, at times, loathe!) her ever-evolving independence! And she is now at one of my most favorite stages - the one I affectionately refer to as "Kids Say the Darndest Things!"

This morning she was snuggling in my bed when I asked "Are you my little snuggle-bug?" to which she responded "No! I'm just a widdow gowo (little girl)!"

Every time she is struggling to do something on her own, I'll ask "(Wiggles), can I help you?" to which she always responds "No! I'm fine!" (I have a video of this - can anyone tell me how to post it???)

MY FAVORITE: Yesterday, a man at church asked her how old she was, and she simply responded "18 muntz." I could scarcely believe my ears - I have never heard her say this before, but what's more, I haven't told anyone that for several months; I usually just respond that she's "Almost 2" or "2 in November" when that's something she's had up her sleeve for quite awhile and probably just never had the occasion to use it until now. I found that hilarious.

Ah, I love my children. They bring such joy - and laughter! - into my life, each day!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

First Love

(Unrelated, but this is one of my favorite pictures of Grins. Could he be any sweeter?)

Grins has the special opportunity of being surrounded by girls - besides his older and younger sisters, he is the only boy in his church class, the only boy in his preschool class....the only boy - his age - we know. As a result, all of his friends are girls. Which he doesn't mind one bit, and which has never seemed to make any difference to him.

Today he was priviledged to play with one of his sweet little friends named Chloe. We had a playdate with her this past weekend when she stayed over late while her parents were out, and the two of them were up long past their older siblings (11pm!), giggling and whispering together, despite my many efforts to get them to sleep! Apparently they had a lot of fun together again today, because on the way home we had the following conversation:

Grins: Chloe is my best friend. I actually think I am falling love with her.

Me: Well, it's great to have friends and she's a very nice girl. I'm glad you care so much about her.

Grins: Well, I actually want to marry her. Is there a temple in Maine?

Me (trying to be serious): No, not yet. The nearest one is in Boston, Massachusetts. Remember, that's where I went last weekend....

Grins: Well, I want to move to Boston, Massachusetts.

Me: Why? (Trying to see how far this would go...)

Grins: So I can take Chloe to the temple and marry her.

Me: Well, why don't you just be her friend right now, and think about getting married when you're much older. I would miss you too much if you ran off and got married right now!

Grins: Well, OK. But I definitely want to go to her house again.

Me: That sounds great. We'll make it happen soon.

Where does he come up with this? Why are my children going so fast???!! What a sweet little thing, this lover boy of mine! He'll make some woman very happy some day.....but for the time being, he makes me SO happy EVERY day! I am SUCH a lucky woman!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wayne, Maine

The little town of Wayne quickly jumped to the top of our 'favorite places in Maine' list this past month. (By the way, don't you think the name 'Wayne, Maine' has a nice little ring to it? Every time I say it, I'm reminded of a line from a song in "My Fair Lady" - "The rain in Spain falls mainly on the pla-ain"......but I digress.)

Our dear friend Bea, at the invitation of her very kind friends the O'Malleys, invited us to spend the week at the O'Malley family camp on Lake Androscoggin. It sounded fun, but we had no idea just how MUCH fun it would be! Beyond it being the first (and much-needed) break since before our big move, and an incredibly beautiful setting, what made the trip most rewarding were the beautiful people we were fortunate to spend time with. Though we were strangers, the O'Malleys and their family welcomed us AND our children(!) with warm hospitality and open arms. They were amazingly patient and attentive with our children, incredibly kind, wondeful chefs (Turkish food! Yum!) and we enjoyed great conversation and company with them! It felt like a little bit of home! Add that to the awe-inspiring view of the lake, the quiet, peaceful serenity of the setting, the opportunity to swim/boat/play in the sand/read/relax/etc all day, and the extra warm weather (allowing us to enjoy the water!), and it was a week of heaven for our family. Pure bliss.

Our children took to the water almost immediately. Wiggles loved the water but was mostly content to simply sit on the sand with her bucket and shovel. Grins entered slowly, with a bit of trepidation at the beginning, but towards the end of our visit was even jumping off the dock on his own! (Wearing a life jacket, of course. As a side note, just so I can remind him someday, I LOVE that he has no qualms about wearing the pink, flowery life jacket. I hope he will always choose what he likes without feeding into silly societal mores.) Angel was a 'water baby' from day 1, but surprised us all with her stamina! She swam across the lake to 'Seagull Island', a little collection of rocks on the other side of the lake (with the help of a life jacket, but still, a LONG way!) And, on the final day of our stay, after we had ventured into town for an ice cream cone and visit to the library, she and the Mr. even swam the entire distance back to camp from town, which equated to quite a distance! Seeing their rapid progress and their intense love for the water made me long to just abandon all reason and move there forever. Or at least, instilled within me a dream of someday living on a lake. It was that great.

The Mr. and I had just as much fun as the children. One day, after several hours of swimming, Angel and the Mr. were floating lazily around in the water when he commented to me, "I feel like I should be doing something. It feels wrong to be this unproductive." to which I replied, "Your children are actually spending time with you - AWAKE - a rare treat for us! This relationship-building, memory making time is entirely productive!" And we proceeded to enjoy it as such without the least bit of guilt. Mostly. :)

It was the picture perfect vacation, except of course for the minor fatality we experienced: our camera. (In my ultra-relaxed state I failed to remember the camera in my pocket before diving into the lake...and the camera didn't appreciate the several hour lengthy submersion in lake water.) Fortunately, Bea got some beautiful shots (she is amazing! Thank you Bea!), so our trip was not entirely un-documented. All in all, it was a week of precious moments during which many friendships were forged and life-long memories made. We are so grateful to the O'Malleys & family and Bea for thoughtfully including us in such a grand time!

Monday, September 20, 2010


Get: laundry in, dishes out, beds made, breakfast on, breakfast cleaned, them bathed & clothed, our teeth brushed & hair done, lunches packed, us out the door, her on the bus, her off to school, him to preschool, her to nap, them fed lunch, lunch cleaned up, laundry out & put away, his owie kissed, the yard cleaned up, his reading lessons, his bike tire pumped, her home from school, after-school snack, hear about her day, house cleaned, books read, homework done, dinner on, them fed, dishes in, kitchen cleaned, house cleaned again, their teeth brushed and jammies on, them in bed, books read, them to sleep,..........and I wouldn't have it any other way! :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

First Day of School

(Warning: Long post)

Since Angel never went to any formal Preschool, Sept 9th was truly her FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL EVER! And she did AMAZING!

She's been looking forward to Kindergarten for months, of course. But her first experience wasn't entirely positive. We arrived in Maine after flying the entire previous day and into the night, getting only a few hours of sleep, then driving the rest of the way. So sweet Angel was exhausted! When we arrived in Portland we learned we would not be closing on our house as planned, and therefore had no place to go (or even live, for that matter), at least in the foreseeable future. So we were quite stressed. Craving some air conditioning (arriving in 96 degree weather at 90% humidity was a bit of a shock!), someplace with free wi-fi (to check the status of our house closing, etc), and someplace to sit down we sought refuge and had lunch at the nearest McDonald's. And then, just an hour or so after
making our way to Portland, it was time for Angel's Kindergarten Orientation. If she hadn't been so excited about it, I would have said "Not today!" But trying my hardest not to allow my own personal stresses/etc to negatively affect my children, I decided we should try to make it. The Mr. and I had to go prove our identity to our loan officer (for the umpteenth time) so Opa graciously offered to take Angel to Orientation in our behalf.

I'm not sure how much of the Orientation she was able to participate in, or how events played out...but the Mr. and I returned from our business to learn that Angel had vomited at Kindergarten Orientation and, as a result, had come home early. To make matters worse, we were on the way to view our house with the realtor. All our clean clothing was packed in the truck and essentially unaccessible, so the poor dear had to ride around town throwing up in a McDonald's happy meal carton, sitting in, and covered with, vomit. Poor thing.

Needless to say, she might not have been thrilled with the idea of Kindergarten.

On the contrary, she was ecstatic. A few weeks before Kindergarten began, I asked if she was excited or nervous about starting Kindergarten. She replied "Both. Mostly excited because I love learning new things. But a little bit nervous too, about people saying bad words or being mean." That touched my heart.

The week before Kindergarten, we went to the Back-to-School Barbeque (once again, driving up to the school late, on our way back into town, though this time from vacation and not nearly as stressed!) She was able to see her classroom and meet her teacher, Mrs. Jordan. She immediately sat down in the reading nook and started devouring books, but when I asked her later what she thought of her classroom she said "I can't believe how many toys there are! There's even a play kitchen!" She also thought her teacher "was really nice!"

Two days before Kindergarten, she went in for "Screening". I waited in the library with Grins and Wiggles while Angel went with various teachers and other helpers for different 'screening' tests. I wasn't sure what all 'screening' entailed, so I tried to question her about it afterwards.
Me: "What did your teacher do with you?"
Angel: "She asked me to read a book about a snowman. But it had very big words."
Me: "Oh really? Well, that should be fine because you're very good at reading big words. What sort of words were they?"
Angel: "No, not long, hard words. Big, tall words. It was a baby book - a board book. It was way too easy for me to read."
Me: "Oh, I see. So you read it just fine?"
Angel: "Yeah. But I didn't learn anything new."

I questioned her about the other various places she went, and she responded "In one room, I had to count a bunch of plastic teddy bears. Then, another lady told me 3 different stories and then asked me to tell one of the stories back to her. So I did." Her teacher told me she would be putting Angel in an older reading group since she is reading at such an advanced level, and one of the other adults said "Wow! She did amazing! You must read to her a lot! She is definitely ready for school!" I was so pleased, but also a little concerned that she might not be adequately challenged in school, since everyone was so surprised at how well she did. I suspect we shall do a lot of supplementing her education at home. But I am certainly happy to do so!

Finally, the moment arrived. Angel wanted to ride the bus and, though I was nervous at first, I decided to allow her to, at least for the time being. We went to her bus stop the day before school, to see where it would stop, etc. And when the bus came around the corner, I could no longer hold back the tears. Tomorrow, my baby would be getting on that bus and leaving me for 6 hours a day! I could not
bear the thought! But seeing her smile and watching her excited wiggle as she anticipated going to school the next day melted away my sadness. I knew that this was a big, exciting step, and that, rather than wish it away, I needed to excitedly support her. So I wore sunglasses (to hide any tell-tale tears) and a smile the first day of school!

Angel came into my room, fully dressed, at 5:20am Thursday morning (the first day of school). "Can you do my hair, Mommy?" she asked. I laughed (I was awake in bed trying to get Wiggles back to sleep) and asked "What are you doing up so early?" "I don't want to miss my bus! It's my first day of school!" was the reply. I couldn't convince her to snuggle with me; she was too afraid of missing the first day, and too excited to sleep anyway. So we got up and ready.
We were ready to go a full hour and a half before the bus arrived! :)

The Mr. went into work late so that he could share in the excitement of Angel's first day. And it was a good thing he did! When the bus came, Angel's grip on his hand tightened and she wouldn't let go. So fortunately, her sweet bus driver let the Mr. join her on the bus. (He was the only parent - what a sport!) (Had he not been there, she would have had to go alone, since the bus prohibits siblings...)
I drove like crazy to the school and after an eternity trying to find a parking spot, go to the playground (aka drop off zone)
in the nick of time. It was a zoo! I was SO glad we were there with her - I can't imagine how overwhelmed she would have been all alone! We were able to walk her to her classroom and help her find her seat.
The two other children at her table were crying miserably - so sad! - but Angel took everything in stride. I asked if she were nervous and she said "No, not really!" I gave her a kiss and said "Let me know when you're ready for me to leave." to which she replied, "I'm fine, Mom. You can go!" I had to pry Wiggles away - apparently she was ready for her first day of school too - and we left. Angel didn't give us so much as a second glance (as you can see in the picture below...I snapped a photo as I left and she's not even looking back!) And I was glad; it made leaving SO much easier! I don't know how the moms with crying children left, I certainly couldn't have done it!
I convinced Angel to let me pick her
up from school on the first day,
because I couldn't bear the thought of waiting another second to see her and hear about her day! We picked her up on the playground and I asked "How was your day?" She didn't want to talk - just wanted to play on the playground (unwinding, I suppose) as though recess had only whetted her appetite for playground play. As we walked home, however, I was able to get little tidbits of explanations of her day. "Kindergarten is longer than I thought. It was really long." and "We had to lay down for quiet time for a long time. When I sat up and looked around, everyone was just laying there. My teacher wouldn't even let us read!" My favorite: "We were so busy learning all the rules that we didn't even have time to learn anything! I haven't learned anything new yet!" She also mentioned "Mom! I got to eat at the cafeteria! It was healthy and they didn't even make me pay!" (I had sent her with a very special 'cold' lunch, explaining that hot lunches aren't quite as healthy, plus we don't want to spend the $ for 'hot' lunch everyday. But I said it off-handedly and not specifically enough...... apparently they let Kindergarteners run up a tab in the cafeteria, so she assumed she had gotten a free lunch and that, since it was "healthy" (salad wraps), she totally scored! :) I thought that was hilarious!)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fly Lady

I have had a difficult time keeping on top of things - moving in, unpacking, fixing things with our work-in-progress of a house, in addition to the never-ending every day cleaning and meals. A friend recommended the "Fly Lady" website so I signed up for it yesterday. Today I read something I LOVED that I just had to share for you mothers out there (written by Fly Lady). It helped me see things differently and gave me a much-needed (and much-appreciated) attitude adjustment!

"Each day we continue to do the same things over again; Washing clothes, doing dishes, Folding clothes, dusting and sweeping floors. It is a never-ending procession of things that need done. When you look at these chores as work, you start to dread doing them. Change your attitude from work to blessing. When you do things for your family and to your home to help your family, you are giving them tender loving care. I like to call this blessing our home.

As you pick up a dish to wash it, be thankful that you have had food to feed your growing babies and nourish your bodies. As you fold that unending pile of laundry, your hand loves each and every member of
your family. Let go of the martyred attitude and nurture your family with love and kindness."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day Out With Thomas

Thanks to a very generous Oma and Opa (Thank you!!), Grins thoroughly enjoyed a Day Out With Thomas Father & Son (& little sister) Date for his birthday this year! We gave him the option of going with Mommy or Daddy, and he (of course) chose Daddy! But, being the ever-caring brother he is, he asked if his sisters could go as well. We explained that we only had 2 tickets; one for him, and one for a parent, but he insisted on Wiggles joining when he realized she wouldn't need a ticket. And, since he had a point and was trying to share, we couldn't argue with that! (Angel was disappointed but enjoyed a special Mommy-Daughter day!)

After getting a card in the mail with the money for his tickets, Grins asked us every day "Is today my day with Thomas?" So when the big day arrived, he could hardly believe it! After a looooong drive to the Boothbay Railroad, he was beside himself with excitement. (Notice him running up to the park with his arms in the air! And Wiggles running after him, as usual.)
Grins was thrilled to see a "real, live Thomas" the tank engine - and even more excited that he got to ride on him! But the train ride was only the beginning....

The Thomas ride was hard to beat, but Grins also really enjoyed the 'mini train' ride (pulled by a tractor, and the hay ride.

Wiggle was most delighted by her "Thomas tickow" (Thomas sticker aka temporary tattoo). After they placed it on her arm, she walked around for the rest of the day saying "wook at my Thomas arm".... she wanted to be pushed on the swing on her 'thomas arm' and insisted on showing it to anyone who would look. Who needs an $18 ticket when you can get $1 pack of temporary tattoos anywhere? :)
Of course, a bouncy house is always a good way to expend some extra energy....and if said bouncy looks like Thomas, what more can a kid ask for?

All in all, I think it is safe to say that a fun time was had by all in attendance, and this is a birthday present Grins will remember for years to come! Thank you again, Oma & Opa! Wish you could have been here to see him enjoy it! :)