Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve at our house.

Dallas is working, and I am busy as a bee in the kitchen and making weekend preparations.

Kensington is taking a long winter's nap, and Raleigh and Madeline are wrapped up in their blankets reading their scriptures. I suggested to them that they might want to spend some time in their scriptures today so that they can feel closer to the Savior for the holiday, and they are doing it!

I am excited to see how this goes . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Best We Could Get and Our Budding Artists

We were all dressed up for a swanky Southern Christmas Party when I decided at the last minute that we should capture this moment on film. (Or should I call it digitalia? Ew. That sounds almost gross.) I couldn't get the girls to act natural and hold still at the same time, so here is what we ended up with:

Those hands on the hips . . . I don't know where they come from! But the two older girls liked it so much that they copied her:

I said, "Okay, whatever. We are NOT getting any good pictures! Just make a funny face!"
And how in the world did Choobs know how to make a funny face? I didn't know that she'd caught on to what that was!

Here's our best family picture from the party:

In other updates, I have to talk about Choobs. She is getting so BIG all of a sudden. Even though she's still so little. I think she is one of those artistic child prodigies. Not really, but she does some pretty amazing things for a kid her age - at least things that Raleigh and Madeline didn't do, and they are both pretty artistic.

For example, she colors SO WELL. I will post a picture of her coloring sometime. She doesn't scribble all over the page; she concentrates on one thing at a time and colors it all in, (going out of the lines of course), but she is very focused. Then she'll sit there and draw circles all over the page, and if one turns out looking like a heart, she'll point and say, "Heart!!"

She is also a singer and dancer. When she is in the car, especially, she likes to sing really loud with a fake vibrato. When we're at home and she hears music she likes, she'll drop everything and "danth" (danth). But it's not your usual bouncing or hip-shaking that you see little kids doing; she uses all of her limbs, she dances at differing levels - she'll get really low, and then go up on her tip-toes, moving the rest of her body at the same time. She uses syncopation and gets really expressive and can honestly feel the music.

It is the weirdest thing I've ever seen.

I have to "act like its nothing" when I see it or else she will get embarrassed, otherwise I would have a video. Maybe sometime.

But the other thing is that she also has an amazing imagination already. She likes to take out this wreath form I haven't put to use yet and step inside of it, holding onto the sides. It looks like she's holding the bottom of a dress. Then she'll pat her chest (as if to point to herself) and say, "Printheth." (Princess.) I ask, "Oh. You're a princess?" And she nods her head and says, "Belle." Now our girls have a few things with the Disney princesses on them, but they have never seen the movies (except for Cinderella awhile ago), so she is coming up with this just from her own observation. And the other times she calls herself a princess (printheth) are when she is dancing.

That's when I feel like a princess.

Now here are some examples of her organizational skills:


Barbies: (She set this up on her own. Is this normal? Maybe our other girls were just below-average! Seriously, do two-year-olds set up and play with Barbies? I don't know!)

Do they put Chap Stick on the stovetop? Perfectly situated?

Do they organize their animals into straight rows?

Raleigh is a bit like this, too. I'll find that she's left her mark here and there around the house. Like this:
This is a sculpture she left for us. It is a pair of tweezers suspended by a rubber band from a robe hook. She put it on the toilet, so I don't know if the toilet is part of the sculpture or just a backdrop.

And here is the leaning tower of La Creme:
Vanilla, of course.

I'm sure all kids are like this. But I am feeling very artistically stimulated by our children.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wordle. Check it out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sermon in the South

The stinky thing about moving three times in five months is not just the emotional roller coaster of putting down and pulling up roots, but the self-centeredness of it all. Do you know how long it takes to get settled? Unpacking, organizing, decorating, taking familiar routes to go places, exploring the area, keeping in touch with family/friends you miss, meeting new people and hoping to find someone to connect with, helping your kids feel stability, changing addresses, going to the DMV, and all the while you are trying to keep up on the everyday routine (and establish one at the same time), so the process is S-L-O-W. Slower than mud.

And it is incredibly self-centered, I think. Because it is all about me, my family, and us. Getting established. Getting organized and settled. Not that we're not. The third time is a charm because we are doing quite well. And I felt like we did quite well the first two times. But I am really sick of thinking about me, my family, and us. (Now that is an incredibly self-centered and negative thought in and of itself, but it has a purpose.)

So to get to the point, I have had a little bit of a hard time with Christmas already this year. We have been so busy going through the motions of life, just trying to get established and settled (three times), that the holidays have kind of crept up on me, and I don't want any more focus on us.

Since our Christmas decorations were half put up and scattered all over the house for a couple of weeks while I was sick, I was tired of them before they even went up! It took a few days just to clean the house and get organized again (because a mother's work is never done, and when mom is sick, everything is a bit chaotic), so I had flashbacks to MOVING IN again! ARGH! Then Madeline came down with strep throat, so the decorating became a snail's pace once again.

Wow, this is a negative post. But I'm still getting to the point.

At the same time I've been trying to get into the spirit of Christmas (by decorating, for starters), we've obviously been having health issues at home. Which always remind me of my own mortality. And that's always a strange feeling. Even with my testimony of a pre-mortal existence, life after death, and the promise of Resurrection and eternal families, I experience feelings like this in the hymn "O My Father":

Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here,"
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.

And I wonder what kind of balance I should have in my life as far as loving this world and putting my heart into it. After all, it's only temporary. Home is where the heart is, right? But this isn't our home. Heaven is our home.

So while I've been so caught up in trying to make a home for us three times (well, make that four, counting Alpine, Utah, where we were at before we moved the first time), I am realizing that it is important, but it's not everything. Maybe this realization is what causes many a mid-life crisis! Thank goodness for the anchorage of the gospel.

Speaking of anchors, here is a new classic quote that I read coincidentally from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf that goes right along with this subject:

So while I have been solely focused on decorating as a means to bring the Christmas spirit into our home, all I have felt are a few warm fuzzies piled on top of general emptiness. I need not go through the motions of decorations, music, Christmas stories, and games with the family, I need to involve all of us in something deeper. We need to feel the spirit of the season by participating in Christlike service and giving of ourselves.

I know this is so cliche.

But that still is not my point. I have been trying to work on having better prayers as of late, and "getting my errand from the Lord" each day, which is a little hard for me since I have expectations of what I want to do and accomplish each day. (I am my mother's daughter!) And let's just say that my expectations are usually something I want to do. Something that will (supposedly) make me happy. Like working on a project or running specific errands.

Sunday night, as I said my prayers, the image of Madeline's face came into my mind. I thought that was odd, since she is usually doing so well. I wondered what that was all about. But in the morning, she woke up with a fever and was having a hard time swallowing. (It TOTALLY disrupted my big plans!) I kept her home from school, but without that prayer, I probably would not have taken her to see the doctor right away - maybe waited a day or so just to see what happened.

(I know, it's obvious now: strep throat, but I hate to take my kids to the doctor if they are just going to send me back home empty-handed while they hang onto my co-pay.) But going to the doctor and getting her on medicine right away really helped ME in the long-run. So I felt more of a testimony of prayer - that our Father in Heaven knows Madeline, and he knows me. And he knows the end from the beginning.

Madeline and Choobs and I had a really nice time together at home while Raleigh was at school, and we got to bond and relax. And she sure is a chipper little thing when her Tylenol starts working! Little sweetheart.

So that was Monday of this week.

Then Madeline was back at school on Wednesday, and I have been back into the routine of things. This morning my prayers were: "Please help me get into the Christmas spirit," and I went to wake up Choobs:

Burning hot body. Throwing up all morning. 102.8 F temperature. Shivering with chills. Totally lethargic and even a bit delirious.

An answer to prayer??? I think so! I spent my full day loving that girl to pieces, holding her most of the day and worrying over her when I wasn't. I planned her funeral. (All of my family member's funerals are well-planned. I am irrational that way, I'm afraid to say.) I thought of the wonderful blessing she has been to our family, and I cleaned her up in the bathtub three times and put four sets of fresh clothes on her in the process. I cried as I watched her, barely able to stand, reach out for me when I tried to lay her down to change her. I kissed her burning-hot head and smoothed out her hair to relax her. I begged her to drink some water and take some medicine when her eyes looked vacant, like she didn't recognize me. And when half the day was over, she finally did. It was the weirdest thing: I handed her a chewable Tylenol, and she said, "Thank you, mama. Pink!" The first words she had spoken all day. And that girl knows what color pink is! Then she finally dozed off into a peaceful sleep.

Is not this Christmas? I spent my day serving and loving this girl and putting off my own (what I thought was urgent) business to help her. I thought of nothing else. Right now I can't even remember what I was going to do. And I overcame MYSELF!! I hate it when I get in a rut of self-centeredness, and sickness usually does the trick for me. Since I didn't learn the lesson well enough when I was sick, Madeline, and then Choobs, got sick. I really believe that our children are placed in our care to help exalt us.

But let's get deeper. Just as I held constant watch care over Kensington, I believe our Father in Heaven watches over us with just as much urgency and attention. And He is urging and begging us to do those things in our lives that will make us "well" again. To be with him. Like the medicine. Only then will we feel peace. And He knows what is best for us.

So the point?

I'm not sure. But I sure feel a lot more of the holiday spirit.

Thanks, Choobs.

Kensington and I lay on my bed tonight for a couple of hours, long after Raleigh and Madeline went to sleep and Dallas went to a meeting. Her fever was high again, but she wasn't falling asleep - just laying there. So she snuggled with me, and I got to lay there, thinking. No distractions. Just us. And I have decided that she is an "Old Spirit." A wise old spirit in a little body.

I watched her hands. One in her mouth in her signature two-finger-suck, and her other hand: sometimes resting it, sometimes pulling on my sweatshirt ties, and sometimes staring at it. She would hold it up and move it all around, examining it from every angle. Then she'd move her fingers around and watch them, too. I imagined what her hands would do in the future, what kind of life she would have someday. It was all very thought-provoking. And I loved it. I wonder what she was thinking. I was thinking about how our children are "my jewels:"

Matthew 6:19-21
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Choobs with her favorite grandmas:


P.S.- She is negative for strep throat and H1N1. Just a nasty virus, I guess.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas is Up after Dionne was Down

Our Christmas decor is finally UP!! I pulled it all out and started working on it the day I started feeling the sick, and then I was diagnosed a week later -- walking pneumonia. Yuck. So the half-put-up tree and five buckets of Christmas decorations and their contents have been out this whole time. And since clutter kills, I am happy tonight!

Here's my little helper coloring on her sleigh:

And here she is with a stocking as a scarf. (And dress-up shoes.)

I REALLY wish I had a working camera right now to post pictures of our decorations. I think our house looks beautiful!! I have just the right mix of decorations from both of my grandmothers, who are both deceased, my mom, my aunt Trina (who gave us our tree), and things that I've bought for our home. I love how decorating for Christmas makes me feel close to these women because I love all the things that they loved. And they have great taste.

While I was sick the past few weeks, I was in bed a LOT. But I enjoyed my vantage point, watching the girls in a way that I don't normally do. In their own way and in their own "love languages," they dealt with Mom being sick. Raleigh stayed in the other room, writing me notes and drawing pictures, and she wanted me to write her back. (Which I did. On a paper towel.) Madeline came in to see me often and would kiss my cheeks and my head and lay and snuggle with me and say, "I love you, Mom." She liked to stay close and check on me a lot. Then there was Choobs who would come in with big bursts of energy and lots of unrecognizable chatter and she'd try to be funny and make me laugh. She is one big ham sandwich. These girls -- they take such good care of me!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Documentary of a Birthday Party (Madeline's)

Madeline's birthday was the last week of November, and this year she wanted to have a "Christmas"-themed party. In keeping with our latest tradition, we went ALL OUT.
The festivities: Mrs. Claus' Christmas Tree Pizzas, Frosty's Snowball Toss, Rudolf's Make-a-Reindeer-Face, and Santa's North Pole Round Up. (And of course, Dallas' perennial pinata, which is not listed, but much-anticipated.) Oh, and chocolate cheesecake, per request of the birthday girl.

It was a full house with my parents, David and Kenda and Dade, Jess and Dannii, and the five of us Matthews. (And I brought my pneumonia with me, although I was not considered contagious.)

Here's the birthday girl. (Watch Jess and Dannii in the background.)

True love at its finest!

Let the festivities begin!

Mrs. Claus' Christmas Tree Pizzas:

My dad said, "I think this is the best pizza I've EVER had." I tried a bite of his, and it was the best pizza I'VE ever had: Publix pizza dough, store-bought Ragu pizza sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, spinach, olives, sausage, pepperoni, red onion, mushroom, pesto, bacon. Am I missing anything? The flavor was unreal!! Thanks, Mom!

Some after-dinner Choober-CHEESINESS and posing:

Raleigh made her nametag. She was "Grumpy Elf," and Dade was "Sleepy Elf."

Madeline gets to wear her birthday hat!

Dannii ("Dasher") and Kenda ("Cupid") - name tags by Raleigh and Jess

The boys jimmy-rigged this wreath onto the swingset, where we played "Frosty's Snowball Toss" with rolled-up white socks as snowballs. The object of the game was to throw the snowballs into the hole in the wreath. (The spotlight helped - it was completely dark outside.) Dallas' pinata is next to the wreath: it is some type of guinea fowl. A Tropicana guinea fowl. And we gave it a good beating!

Monkey-Dade climbs the swingset in the dark with his daddy, David.

My dad built this swingset. There are two other swingsets by the same maker in Peachtree City, GA, in our old subdivision and one in Lakeland, FL, where we used to live. Will he build one at the new house in Senoia? For the grandkids?

Madeline and Dallas devise a pinata-busting strategy.

Choobs perches on top of her favorite pregnant belly and chats with the big girls.

Dannii shows that bird who's boss.

Kenda-the-All-Star sends it out of the park!

Actually, no, I think it was Jess who sent it flying out into the yard. It fell off a few times - I can't remember who did it.

Get it, Raleigh!!

Big sisters know best.

Dade gets another shot.

David wins the victory!

Spotlight in the face.

Next . . .

"Santa's elves have lost all of the presents in the snow! But the reindeer can help him find them! His two biggest elves want to help, too! Hurry! Tonight is Christmas Eve!" Everyone wore a name tag with the name of a reindeer or an elf and helped Santa Madeline follow the clues to find her presents. She put them in a sack on her shoulder and brought them all back to open with everyone.

The moment she's been waiting for all year:

Some after-present-posing. This hands-on-the-hips thing is new. But I love it. Especially with the belly. (Isn't Kenda cute back there?)

Then it was time for Rudolf's Make-a-Reindeer-Face:

And cheesecake. (The moment the rest of us have been waiting for all year.)

Happy Birthday, Madeline!! We sure do love you, our beautiful, smart, and precious girl!

Howzabout some post-party-pregnancy-pics??

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for letting us crash the party with our party!!