Monday, August 31, 2009

Catherine Noel, 4 yrs old

On Tuesday August 12th Catherine turned four. I am still blown away that my baby is four!!! I looked back over a year of pictures and was struck by what a big year this was for her. She's definitely grown up a lot in the last 12 months. Get ready for an onslaught of pictures!

This is her at her three year old party. When I look at this picture I just think how young she looks. I had forgotten that crooked grin she used to always do. I thought she'd smile like that forever (or until an orthodontist got a hold of her)!

Crooked grin again...and I just love the expression on her face. She really is such a goof ball. So often people think she is quiet or shy because it might take her awhile to warm up, but she really is quite a ham. I've had her tell a room of people to "be talking" and then proceed to sing and dance for us for...oh...maybe 10 minutes!

Catherine truly is the sweetest little thing. She is a little thing, my little peanut, on the shorter side, while her older sister towers over most of the boys in her class! She is very polite, very quick to say thank you, in general she is very easy going. I must stress the in general because there are times when she gets set off over the littlest, seemingly insignificant thing and there is no reasoning with her. Recently I couldn't find the "right" pair of shoes for her to wear to church and I knew, I just knew that it was going to be bad. And it was. But we persevere and she recovers back to sweet agreeable self.

She is still my picky eater and I've let us get into a habit of just letting her eat a separate meal because its just so much easier to make whatever I want and not have to worry about what she would possibly eat...and it makes dinner just that much more enjoyable. But I sense the time has come to really crack down on that...something I'm looking forward to at all!

Catherine is very much like her sister in that certain situations can make her very nervous. When that happens she likes nothing more than to just snuggle up in our arms and close her eyes very tightly, just blocking it all out. I feel bad when she's scared, but it is just so cute and she is just so snuggly....

A few favs from the past year....
sporting a cool hat....
dancing and twirling with her best friend...
showing off an outfit she picked out all on our own (don't the socks make you cringe?)

I think my dad says it best when he describes Catherine as "a hoot." It's not just what she says, but it's also her facial expressions, the tone in her voice and her body language that make her so entertaining. Tonight at the dinner table she asked me in a very adult sounding tone "Is Skippy's knee feeling better?" (Skippy, my dad who she typically refers to him as Pap Pap, is recovering from knee replacement surgery 4 months ago.) I doubt I'm explaining it well but so much of what she does and says is pretty hysterical.

This past week she was complaining that her belly hurt. For about five days straight. We were pretty sure it wasn't a virus because she would eat and play and seem fine but then every so often complain about a hurt belly. I was trying to figure out how it felt so I would try and get her to describe it to me and she said things along the line of "ants crawled into my belly and Santa Claus is in there stomping around." Huh?
Tonight Catherine requested that I sing Black Eyed Peas "I Gotta Feeling" for her bedtime song. I said "Catherine that isn't a good night song." She responded with "Yes it is..."and then sang "I gotta feeling, that tonight's gonna be a good night....see mom, it's a good night song." I couldn't argue with her reasoning so I sang it!
Things that Catherine loves; reading books with me, collecting every single Bible in the house and stacking them up and "reading" from them, singing, making up her own songs, coloring pictures, painting, playing with her sister, helping me cook (things she won't eat), playing with her Barbies/Ponies/dollhouse/Polly Pockets, taking care of her "babies", doing mommies hair, she is excited to learn soccer this spring....I'm sure I've left some out, but those are some of the favorites right now.
Of all of those, playing with her sister is truly the thing she loves the most. Catherine adores Ella so much. First words out of her mouth in the morning are "where's Ella?". The two of them can really get into it but they do love each other so much. I NEVER thought I'd have two girls, let alone LOVE having two girls so much. Just a few minutes ago they were taking turns yelling outside to each other from an open upstairs window and I heard Ella yell "I love you Catherine." It goes without saying (because she says it so often) that Catherine loves Ella, so I really enjoy hearing it sent her way!

Catherine is very gentle and sweet spirited and kind. She brings so much joy to our lives and smiles to each day. I am one blessed momma!

I pray that Catherine continues to grow as a child of God and come to have a relationship with Him. I pray that I will be model of Christ-like love as I parent Catherine and Ella and be a wife to their dad, and I thank God that four years ago He gave me the gift of this sweet little girl!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How I make you feel better about yourself!

After our great week at the beach I've been trying to get back into the swing of things - something I always struggle with after vacation. Tomorrow I leave for a trip to North Carolina for my cousin's wedding (sans kiddos) so on Monday I will once again trying to find normal somewhere.

I still have to do my post for my now four year old Catherine.

I am looking forward to posting pictures that Renee took of my family while we were at the shore.

But in the meantime I am sharing a story that definitely, without a doubt, goes up there as the most stupid, careless thing I've ever done. Why am I sharing this? Maybe if I put it out there I'll never let it happen again! Who knows? But I definitely can't forget it, so it's going on the blog...

I have to start off by saying. No one and nothing got hurt. So just remember that as you read.

On Tuesday I was taking the girls swimming at a friend's house. We had been at the park in the morning, came home, scarfed down some lunch, grabbed our suits and piled in the car. As we started to leave I realized that I couldn't find my cell phone in my bag. Matt wanted me to stop somewhere on my way home and I knew I would need to touch base with him while I was out (who am I kidding, I hate to go out with my cell fun regardless!) I searched for a second and then figured I had left it in the house so I hopped out and ran back inside. I didn't see it right by the door so I grabbed a house fun to call it and see if I could hear it ring. When I didn't hear it ring I started to go back outside in case it was in the car and I just hadn't seen it. What I saw was my car in the street, not my driveway.

My car was in the street!!!

With my kids in it!!!

And I was standing on my porch, not sitting behind the wheel!!!

Do have enough explanation points to convey the situation?

Basically when I was pulling out of my driveway (which was parked on a downhill slope in the driveway of our dead end street...I am very thankful for that right now!) I had obviously forgotten to put the car into park when I got out to look for my phone in the house. Because the car was downhill, it moved very slowly (or I have to assume I would have noticed...or been hit by it when I walked behind the car) out of the driveway and into the street, heading towards our neighbor's driveway.

I thanked God an innumerable amount of times for allowing the neighbors immediately next door to be home. The 18 year old son ran over and put the car in park. I walked out and kind of freaked out, which of course, on my end, means inappropriate laughter. It wasn't until after I thanked them over and over again and drove away with the girls that I started to get all teary eyed thinking about what could have happened. I told the girls that God was protecting them and that mommy would never do that again. It was nice to talk to Matt who reassured me that most likely the car would have just bumped the mailbox across the street and wouldn't have gone wildly careening down the street.

I wish I had Catherine on tape telling the story because it would be pretty hysterical. She says things like "the car was driving all by itself and we were inside!". When I told them how thankful I was that God had our neighbors there to help Catherine then prayed "God please don't let mommy do that ever every again." My stupid mistakes are improving my kid's prayer lifes!

So there you have it, I'm sure I made all of you feel immensley better about any dumb mistakes you've made recently! Please be gentle on me - I already know I'm an idiot and beat myself up for this - maybe you can be brave enough to share one of your mistakes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Down the Shore

On Saturday my family converged upon the Jersey shore for our annual beach trip. We've had a great week so far, enjoying one of the two times all year my whole family gets together.

The weather has been great and the water warm and clear. For those of you familiar with the Jersey shore you know how rarely the word "clear" gets applied to that section of the Atlantic ocean! I can honestly say that this is the nicest and warmest water that I have ever experienced during our weekly vacations (dating back to my childhood). In fact there are times, like right after I saw a little crab scurrying across the ocean floor, that I wish for the typical murky waters that leave it to your imagination to determine waters underneath. That way you can convince yourself maybe it was only a shell that you stepped on!

Ella has loved being out in the water swimming around. Because it hasn't been too rough, I've been able to take her way out into the ocean and we bob around over the waves. Catherine, on the other hand, wants absolutely nothing to do with the ocean this year. She is more than content to play in the sand for hours on end so it really is fine and after the first couple days we aren't trying to force her into the "yucky stinky ocean!"

The cousins are all having a blast together and it's always such a joy to see the bond between them even though they don't spend much time together. A few days ago I walked into my room and found Ella and Isaac pretending to sleep on my bed, they told me they were in college (sleeping at odd times of the day...probably pretty accurate!). Then I noticed the lump at the end of the bed and peeked under to see Catherine under the blanket. She whispered,"Sssshhh, I'm playing hide and seek with Theo." It was cute how they were paired up with the cousin closest to them in age! Caleb and Norah fit in just fine and Caleb especially at 19 months old seems to really enjoying running around with the older kids. He is quite receptive to all of the attention Ella likes to give him, always giving a big smile and shyly ducking his head. Norah is used to the craziness and just does her own thing, sometimes with the older kids, sometimes hanging out with the adults.

We were on the beach yesterday from 9am-5pm so today we're all taking it easy. Ella and Isaac are mini golfing with their grandparents, everyone else is scattered either on bike rides or walking on the boardwalk, Catherine is on the porch coloring with Matt and I'm taking a few moments to update my blog!

We still have a few more days of beach and family time left and plan on making the most of it!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

A Good Night

You ever have one of those nights, that's just a good night? We had one of those this weekend. Nothing special, but everyone was in good moods, the weather was great - low humidity, not too hot, we enjoyed a yummy dinner on our new patio furniture (big thanks to Renee for the heads up on the sale at Lowes that enabled us to get some great deals) on the patio that currently does not exist in our back yard. But it will! Getting the furniture was a step that will hopefully get us moving and making some decisions (basically with us it usually boils down to, hire it out, or have Matt do it....can you guess what the answer will probably be?)

Matt and I finished our dinners and then things got entertaining. First of all Ella had eaten half of her turkey burger and decided she didn't like it so much. It was a big burger so I was fine with how much she had eaten. Lately Ella's into making various concoctions and so she gathered some stuff that was on the table and proceeded to doctor up what remained of her burger. She squeezed fresh lime, added some salt and pepper, and then declared it her best recipe ever! You know actually was good! Nothing complicated, but I loved that she came up with it on her own (and then today she made a big mess with flour, sugar, limes and lemons. A bit overconfident maybe?).

Once the kids were done eating, things really got entertaining. The girls decided they wanted to put on a show for us. This is nothing new in our household, often Catherine will demand complete silence while she sings and/or dances for us or whoever happens to be there! But tonight the yard was filled with boxes from the furniture that provided a backdrop.

(this was taken during the second time around, Matt was watching the first time)
Can you tell that both of them are singing away? When they first started dancing Catherine gasped "Oh no, we don't have any...(music)" Not even finishing her thought she turned to Matt and me "Can you sing?" We laughed pretty hard at that one (especially since the neighbors were on their deck with friends). Thankfully Catherine turned down my offer of "Twinkle Little Star" and they took care of music on their own!
In case you were wondering their show was about getting money for the children who have no parents and live in the city. Sweet, huh? Catherine even offered that if they were lost she would get a map and help them! They sang about letting the money fly out of our hands so they could get it. Ya gotta have a theme!
Finally we enjoyed s'mores by the fire (which was conveniently burning up a bunch of debris from a household project that shall remained unamed until actually finished. I have to a reason to hope!)

Before that though Ella showed us a neat little trick that she learned to do. The hanging swing that we've had since she six months old....she can now hold onto the rope and just hop right into the seat. What??!!! I just never foresaw her being able to do that on her own, and just buckle herself right in. I feel like she just grew 5 inches right in front of my eyes!

Speaking of growing up, my baby turns for on Wednesday! I need to start her birthday post now since for the first time we're having her party on her actual birthday! Can't wait - I'm sure I'll be sharing all the fun we have, but maybe not until after we get to the beach for our family vacation!

Monday, August 03, 2009

zippidy do da...

This weekend, actually Friday night to Saturday to be more precise, we took a whirlwind trip to Maryland to spend some quality (but unfortunately low on quantity) with friends and family.

Saturday was a nonstop day, we were at my sister in laws at 8:30 am and headed home about 12 hours later!

One of the highlights of the day involved this....

And then this....
Then a blur that was very hard to photograh....
Finally, this!
Do you think that she had a good time?!
Matt's sister and brother in law recently installed a zip line in their backyard. It ran from tree to tree and there was a tire on the line that stopped the line so you wouldn't hit the tree. Ella would zoom down the line, hit the tire, swing forward and then bounce back the other way. Every time she did it, it took all my control not to stand in front of the tree in case she let go. She did it, oh...maybe 20 times, and I swear, each time I controlled the urge to throw myself in front of the tree (I did suggest some rigging a gym mat of some sort up there), but I still yelled, "hold on Ella, hold on!"
Matt tried it too...
There he is, trying not to scream (successful or not...I'll never tell!) as we swings towards the tree!
Even this little cutie hopped on for a ride!
I did stand in front of the tree when Catherine went down because she was a bit nervous. The first time her Uncle Steve ran next to her and had his hand on her back making her feel safe. It was so adorable, she came towards me with her eyes squeezed shut! Second time down, she was by herself, coming towards me saying "Mommy I want to get off!"
There are no pictures to prove it, but I went for a few rides as well (I assure you I was completely graceful and composed!). Each time I had a hard time convincing myself that my momentum wouldn't swing me into the tree. I think I might have screamed the first time down (ok, I definitely did, which is pathetic considering the zip lines and swings from 30 feet up that I had to do at YL camps...I'll say it was a scream of exhilaration and not one of "oh crap, that tire will not stop me from smashing into that treeeeeee!!). My mother in law even tried it out as well!
None of us enjoyed it as much as Ella. She would stand on the picnic table and bounce a few times, hoping to pick up extra speed. If no one was waiting for a turn when she got back to the starting point, she'd just go again. And again. And again!
As much as we all loved the zip line, the real high light of our quick trip was this...
Hayden is missing from the picture, but I'm glad at least got ashot of the three girls (and me). When we pulled up to their house Sophia met us outside in her nightgown. She went right up to the girls and told them how much she missed them! Even though Hayden doesn't always want to play house and dress up with them, all four of them really enjoy playing together and just have a blast. I am hoping that Sophia comes up to stay for a few days at the end of the month!
Even though it was a short visit it was worth it!

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