Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"Oh what a night!" Family Fun

Well it's getting closer & closer to August 21st & I have been completely absorbed with planning Adelyn's 1st birthday party! I told myself that having her on our wedding anniversary would be fine, but I admit I have been way more caught up on her birthday than our anniversary! So as I sit here & try to think of something special for us to do to celebrate our 5 years of marriage, I keep getting flooded with all the memories we have made over the last 10 years of our lives together.

With two small children & limited funds we won't be celebrating the way we always sort of 'dreamed' (wouldn't it be great to have a little getaway just the two of us?)... but it has been equally special to think of all the awesomene
ss of who my husband is & has been as I have watched him become a husband, home-owner, father & leader of our family.

In honor of TJ, I'll give you a peak into the private life of this ROCK STAR DAD who is the best daddy I could ask for my ch
ildren to have. Many of you young parents probably know that the days of dad coming home and drinking his beer in front of the tube are over - at least in our house! So that means there's always a 'lull'
after dinner and before bed when we look at each other & say... hmmm... what can we do to pass the time until bed and adult time?!
Now that Savannah is the big 3.5, she is good at making the suggestions, and on this night, she set up a stage on our front window area blankets, chairs & all - and demanded that WE perform... not her, us! I took my turn as quick as I could and jumped off. But TJ was using this as his opportunity to unleash the secret rock-star - - just imagine.. he had a captured adoring audience ooh-ing and ahh-ing. He was in "teen idol" heaven!

TJ - you are an awesome husband and that is due in part to the way you love our children! Happy 5th Anniversary! (August 21)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Time flies!

The last time I was here must have been Easter because our background was Easter Eggs! Now here we are in late July &
summer is quickly coming to a close.
So much has happened that it is hard to remember it all but we have had a lot of fun!
What is more exciting is that as we approach August we have two big celebrations coming ahead! On August 21st we will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary! Wow... 5 years! In some respects it feels like time has FLOWN. In the span of 5 years we have managed to plan a wedding & a cross-country move, get our first apartment, then our first house, sell that
& move in with a handful of friends (and bring Savannah home to three boy roommates for her first 2 weeks of life), build our 2nd home and move the family in and then hav
e our second daughter.
To be honest it only just now feels like things are slowing down!
In the middle of it all we have always had lots of fun & laughs.... and taken time to reflect. We are often exhausted & missing time with each other but not a day goes by that we don't fall in love with our children in some new way & we love each other more than ever before. Our girls have changed our lives in so many ways, not all of those ways are easy! But we have not gone one night without going into each of their rooms before we lay down to sleep so that we can stare at them, kiss them, & be amazed at their preciousness & beauty. We know it sounds corny but it's so true!
Equally as exciting is that on the same day, August 21st, we will celebrate Adelyn's 1st birthday!!! We are all looking forward to this day but me especially because I think it's such a
great milestone & celebration of not only the child but parents surviving the adjustments and stages of change that a baby can bring. That being said, Adelyn is PURE JOY! Yes, we had experience from Savannah so we were more confident & relaxed but on top of that Adelyn has been a terrific, sweet, great baby. She has been walking for over a month now & communicates so well. Her big sis adores her and the two of them together can be quite a show.
I am sure they will keep us entertained for years to come, God willing.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ode to Our Second-Born

"There once was a girl named Adel... who was crazy & loved to skedaddle..."
Hence the nick-name we have given Adelyn - "Adel Skedaddle".
 This name is very fitting for our little go-getter. Maybe it is no surprise to some of you th a child this age is moving about - but in our experience (at least from when Savannah was a baby) Adelyn is CRAZY all over the place these days!

It is quite adorable when she spots a 'no-no' item, such as the DVD player, or the plugs BEHIND the TV - she makes a hilarious giddy grunt noise and darts for her target. She has managed to army crawl her way into all of the dangerous areas & has recently started to attempt pulling herself up. And it did NOT take long for her to figure this one out either! On March 11th, about 10 days before her 7th full month she started pulling herself up onto a toy of ours... (March 21st, her 7th monthiversary she creeped across the floor to our family dog.) Now, just yesterday when I went to check on her when she was SUPPOSED to be sleeping, she was standing up at the side of her crib. Craziness! So tonight when we were putting her to bed she could not stop practicing this new skill. We are frustrated at her struggles to stay asleep but it's adorable to see this little 7.5 month old making these leaps with her physical strength!

We thought Savannah was 'busy' & 'active' - I cannot imagine what we're in for with Adelyn!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Disney Trip 2009!!!

On March 15th we left WAY too early in the morning for Florida - it was a trip we had been anticipating for over a year. My dad took myself & my siblings ten years ago & he wanted to gather us for a 'Disney Reunion' of sorts. After saving & planning for such a long time we were all VERY excited when the week arrived.
So off we went at 5:30am with our girls on an airplane headed for Orlando. After a LONG day of travel, we arrived at our vacation house around 2pm. Not long after my dad arrived with his caravan - my sister Sara & her family, my brother Bobby & his girlfriend with her daughter, and my lil sis Mary too. Mary's boyfriend Zack would be joining us on Tuesday so all together we made a group of 14! The house was so awesome, though, that it never felt crammed. (If anyone is planning a trip to Florida I would highly recommend the vacation homes we used - it was awesome!)

Day 1 - Epcot, when we saw the main Disney friends... Savannah was beside herself with excitement - she waited in line with me for 45 minutes & didn't mention a single complaint... since this was our first day on the trip I was not sure what the week would hold in terms of a 3 year old - no naps, and late nights - but she was AMAZING. She stood in numerous hour-long lines with us through the week and was nothing but patient, excited & sweet. She'd play games & sing songs, or just lay her head down... Disney IS Magical!

Day 2 - Animal Kingdom: We kept this day short, and my dad kept Adelyn home so that we could take Savannah around with ease... We watched Lion King Live and boy, what an awesome show! It was great to expose Savannah to 'live performance' for the first time. She absolutely LOVED it. Then we went on a Safari ride & Savannah was tickled because the tour host kept saying "Savannah" since we were in the "Savannah."

Day 3 - Hollywood Studios: By far, Savannah's favorite part was the "Fantasia
Hat" as she called it. This park was great because it had lots of "Pre-School" friendly characters & attractions. Savannah met a boy in line for "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" & started holding his hand and flirting with him. It was hilarous. We went back in the evening with Savannah to see "Fantasmic" - a fantastic show! She loved it and was OUT by the time we got to the car.

Day 4 - Magic Kingdom! Another day that Dad kept Adelyn back at the house for swimming, bottles & naps - so it was a "magical' day with Savannah! She was so adorable. At her most tired & most overwhelmed she behaved beautifully, and even awed us with her 3 year old innocence & amazement. We went to Belle's story time & they picked TJ to be the Beast. Savannah LOVED that! Then we went to the "Bibbity, Boppity, Boutique!" for a little Mom- Daughter bonding. I was completely thrown off when she was SCARED out of her mind & did NOT want to do it. She sat in my lap & very timidly let the "Fairy God Mothers" do her hair & make-up. She would not close her eyes for the eye-shadow because she was too scared! But she go the rest. Once I was in the 'hot seat' she was all giggles & smiles and we loved being primped up together. We pushed her through to the closing once again and it was worth it! Disney has the most awesome fire-works show. As we moved slowly but surely as a sea of people back to the parking lot Savannah sighed & said "I'm so thankful...." in her most tired state since she was born. It was priceless & it sure made TJ & I so proud.

We used Friday to stay at the house & rest & pack up for the Saturday trip back home. Needless to say it was the trip of Savannah's life-time. We had our concerns and reservations about taking such a little one on such a big trip but she showed us that she is more than capable.... Coming home and adjusting back to 'normal' routine was a bit of a challenge - no more skipping naps & special eats all the time!!! The first thing she did when we got home was ask to play "Bibbity Bobbity Boutique" - she got her Belle dress on & pretended to be the "Belle" character as she waited for us to be in awe & amazement. We have had memories to last a life-time!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Savannah's Paradise

Well for the Winters Family it has been a busy few months... As we anticipated Adelyn's birth back in August of 2008 we prepared her nursery with much excitement and love. We made sure to involve her loving 'Big Sister' in our efforts to make her feel a part of this special event. So as Savannah was nearing her 3rd birthday (Jan. 31) we started to feel that we should pour that same love & excitement into HER room, allowing her some creative input. She & her dad have a special bond with the Steven Curtis Chapman song "Cinderella" and while she has never seen the movie we decided to put the castle on her wall. 

For what seemed like forever she kept reminding Daddy about how they needed to work on the castle. I decided that maybe there would be a creative way to turn this concept into something more fitting with our family values, and something that as she grows into a young lady would have a more meaningful influence on her. So I sat TJ down one night & shared with him my idea to go ahead and put a castle on her wall, but to set the scene as 'The Heavenly Skies' instead of "Happily Ever After." We would place the castle in the clouds and put a Scripture Passage next to it, "In My Father's house are many rooms"...."I am going there to prepare a place for you....." John 14:1-3. We would tell her that this is her Princess Castle in Heaven because Jesus is the King of all Kings & that His Kingdom is in heaven. 

So finally, after months and months of putting it off, we set the plan in motion! (We found a wall decal for $35!) It feels like it has been going on forever! But we have finally finished & it is so exciting to go in there. She kept asking me if she could have a "Sun" as well - or as she calls it "Mr. Sun"... So I painted her light fixture yellow & put rays on the ceiling.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Reflecting the 'Season'

Can you believe it is already half way through January of 2009? More and more I am starting to see for myself that time just flies by as you get older. I feel like just yesterday I was staying up late at night with my friends having those crazy yet seemingly 'relevant' conversations about religion and politics and getting up the next morning feeling just as refreshed as I would after an eight hour stretch of deep sleep.

In reality we each find ourselves right smack dab in the second half of our third decade, and sometimes we feel so old! If we are up late, it is to calm our distressed 3 year old or quiet our unsettled 5 month old - and the next morning when we wake up we feel like our eyes carry the weight of bricks. Whether you find yourself at a similar place, in the stages before or light years beyond, we hope your holiday was filled with the traditions that you hold dear.

As for our family, we thoroughly enjoyed the genuine experience of providing Christmas to two little girls under 3 years old. It did not come without challenges, however. This being our third Christmas with children, and our first with a 'big girl,' TJ & I have had many conversations on how to keep the focus on Jesus and on how we want to shape our future Christmases with the girls ... when all the stores and television adds and external media really send the message that it's about Santy Claus & gifts! Don't get us wrong, it is so fun to give gifts to our children and it is EASY to get carried away... but one thing we realized early on is that we want them to recognize the reverse side of this tradition.

We decided one of the most effective ways to do this would be to participate in Operation Christmas Child - Project Angel Tree... so we went to church, picked up our Angel, and made sure to have our oldest, Savannah, go to the store with us and purchase a toy that would not end up in her play room...... You can bet that even after I told her we were going to buy a gift for a little boy, her first question was "Is this for me?" And to be honest, I was glad that she asked that...It gave me the chance to explain to her that no, this was a gift for a child who doesn't have many toys like she does. I explained to her that she is very blessed to have lots of toys. By the time we wrapped it and prepared it for church, she was asking if we could give it to the boy ourselves and the only down side was that I had to tell her, "No, we will take it to church and one of our friends at church will make sure this little boy receives his toy." She is little, but I felt like she really understood.

Another thing we did this year was to repeatedly share the nativity story with Savannah. She is well familiar with Jesus and that he was God's son, sent to earth.. and that he died for our sins and rose again to save us from our "bad choices." And since she just had a new baby sister, she is also very familiar with mommy 'having a baby in her tummy' and 'baby being born.' So we just explained that Christmas is about the story of when Jesus was born, just like how Adelyn was born! We celebrate his "birthday" and such... and that the wise men brought gifts, just like we get gifts for OUR birthdays! When we were asked to participate in the "Drive Thru Natvity" at our church it was a no-brainer! Adelyn got to play 'Jesus' and Savannah and I played angels at the nativity scene. Now, everytime Savannah sees a nativity scene, she says "Look, Mom, it's a Drive Thru Nativity!"

One of my favorite funny stories from the season was the one that happened well after Christmas, when we were putting away wrapping and 'tissue paper." Savannah grabbed a piece and asked me to tape it around her... because she wanted to be a present for Jesus. What a heart-warming moment for a parent after God's own heart....and so for the moment, I feel like our early efforts to teach her (and soon Adelyn) about the TRUE meaning of Christmas have been fruitful and effective.

If you have any traditions or suggestions that you have found really drive the message home, we'd love to hear them! And as I wrap up our first blog, Happy New Year - we hope you feel renewed as you reflect on the true "Gift" that Christmas brings - Salvation!

Love, The Winters Family

Savannah wrapped as a present for Jesus