Saturday, November 29, 2014

Christmas at the Galt House

The snowy weather before Thanksgiving kicked our Christmas spirit into gear quicker then normal.  With a free weekend staring us in the face, we decided to head to Louisville for a little Christmas cheer!  

For the past 5 years the Galt House in Louisville has put together a Christmas event featuring luminaries that tell a story, an indoor (non-cold) snow play area, an old English Village complete with carolers, a Christmas train, and other festive attractions.  This year the theme of the luminaries was "A Christmas Carol."   
Scott had never seen the movie, so he was a little confused about why the Christmas display depicted ghosts in chains, graveyards, and an extremely grumpy looking old man.  I gave him a quick synopsis of the story and that helped.  The kids just liked looking at the pretty lights and cautiously touching them.
As we walked through the story there were characters walking, dancing, and singing among us.  They frightened Paisley but Lila was happy to wave at them as they passed.  The luminaries were located in a huge circus-like tent so it wasn't ultra cold in there, but the wind was whipping up just enough that Scott made sure we weren't walking under the various luminaries suspended from the ceiling.

Beautiful luminaries
The luminaries were extremely impressive, enormous, brightly colored, and everywhere!  I can't imagine how long it took to assemble the story.  We finished walking through the luminaries and the path took us back into the hotel, so the wind was no longer a concern.  The hotel conference rooms had been transformed into a toddler sized English village.  Our first stop was a table set up to write letters to Santa.
Letters to Santa
After writing their letters, the kids had to locate the Post Office in the village to send their letters.

Each little building, house, office, etc., was lit up inside and the kids loved peering into the windows and seeing what was happening inside.  One display even had a toy train display inside that Paisley stood and watched for minutes (for my 3 yr old, standing in any spot for minutes is rare).  

After a stroll through the village we stopped to build a couple indoor snowmen.  It was really cute watching the kids work together to build one....until Paisley suddenly drop kicked the snowman.  Better the snowman then his sister.  

After explaining to Paisley that we don't drop kick snowmen, we ventured into the gingerbread room.  Hundreds of candied houses lined the walls and one huge house was in the center of the room.  The aroma of gingerbread and icing filled the air.  It smelled delicious and the kids smelled it too!  They started getting a little too close to the houses and I was nervous their little hands would find their way to the tasty homes.  We scooped up the littles and ventured into the Christmas train room!

Paisley's was excited to board the train and as soon as Lila saw her brother getting settled in the car, she toddled herself right up by the track so she could be loaded up next.
All aboard
 Both kids had fairly somber faces the entire train ride, which is pretty standard when they try new experiences that don't consist of sitting on mom or dads lap.  However as soon as the ride was over, they both smiled and loved it.
choo choo
The entire event took 30-45 minutes to walk through.  It would have taken a little longer, but Paisley opted out of making a snowflake with the sugarplum fairy.  We went on a Monday morning so we were the only guests touring the Christmas event.  It was a great for the little people and Scott and I enjoyed watching them experience something new.  Next Christmas event....the annual finding and cutting of our Christmas tree!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Coming Full Circle

It was 4 years ago this time of year that Scott and I had driven to Louisville to meet with Dr. Pietrantoni.  He was the perinatologist that was going to help us understand what was happening with our honeymoon baby.  We knew the prognosis was fatal, but we wanted to arm ourselves with as much information as possible.

In the small office as I laid on the exam table holding Scott's hand, we learned that we had already ran out of time.  Our honeymoon baby had already earned her angel wings and there was nothing we could do.

We checked into a hotel in Louisville to contact our families and grieve.  We stayed at the Galt House which had a beautiful view of the river.  After gathering our thoughts and dealing with very raw emotions, we walked to a nearby restaurant for milk and cookies (it's what I wanted).

The hotel we were staying in advertised a Christmas event geared towards children.  It featured lights, music, trees, Santa, and more!  All I wanted was to bring our child to this festival to breath in the Christmas lights and feel the spirit of the Christmas season.  That wasn't going to happen and that was hard to accept.

Back in the hotel I shared a bed with our precious honeymoon baby and Scott for the last time ever.  It was such a dark sad night that I didn't know how I would ever climb out of this well of sadness.  

I will never be over losing our first baby.  I am comforted in knowing our first baby lives in our 2 earthly children (how else would these kids have so much spirit, energy, life if they didn't have a little help from an angel above?).

This past weekend we loaded up our 2 babies and headed to the Galt House.  Our children looked in awe at the twinkling Christmas lights, danced to the Christmas music, and shyly looked at Santa from the safety of our arms.  I smiled for a million reasons.  I was happy to kick off the Christmas season with my little family.  That night I laid in bed at the Galt House and listened to the breath of our son change as he drifted off to sleep, while the other mumbled baby noises as she dreamt about sugar plum fairies and sippy cups of juice.  I held my husbands hand and whispered about how life was drastically different today than 4 years ago.  "It's come full circle," he said.

We don't know why bad things happen or why we are forced to endure such pain and tragedy.  I have learned that despite our darkest nights, morning always comes.  And sometimes that morning light is so beautiful and perfect that it heals our pain and takes away our sadness.  We are reminded that we are exactly where we are meant to be.

I hope each of you find comfort from your pain.  I hope you feel the spirit of Christmas move in your heart as we get closer to the day of His birth.  I hope you each feel the kind of love that makes you feel at peace with this life we live.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Little Exploration on a chilly Friday

Nothing puts fear in a museum curator's heart like seeing 2 double strollers containing a 1yr old, 2yr old, and 2  - 3yr olds come rolling in the door.

Photo courtesy of Google
Earlier this month I saw a post advertising the 3rd Friday of the month as free admission day at Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science.  Sure I'd driven by the building enough times that I knew exactly where it was....but, I'll admit I'd never even thought about going inside (said while looking down in embarrassment).
Holding "clouds" 

Now that the weather is officially "cold" and trips to the zoo aren't so tempting, I figured I'd take the kids to the museum on this beautiful Friday.  I invited our good friend Krista and her daughter to join us on the educational trip.

Neither of us had been there and were a little nervous as we rolled through the doors.  Having small children, it's amazing the disastrous scenarios a mother can imagine involving her children and museum exhibits.

I was surprised as we walked in that the museum wasn't packed, after all admission was free!  The 2 females working the front desk were extremely friendly and explained the layout of the museum to us.  They also provided us with a list of upcoming events geared towards children that sounded entertaining for all ages.

Feeding her "Baby"
The first room we walked in was a hands on room with experiments for even the littlest hands.  At that point Krista and I both relaxed as this place was more kid friendly then we expected!  The kids enjoyed playing in the shadow room, the pipe drums, and pushing any and every button they could get their hands on, regardless of what exactly the button did.

The next room we ventured in was all about food and healthy lifestyles.  I'm not sure our littles took anything educational away from the play food exhibits, but they sure had a great time feeding the puppets, playing with the vegetables, trying out their balance and playing on the sit-n-stretch.

For the most part, those 2 rooms were the "fun" areas for our little group.  The rest of the museum was more interesting for us adults.  We entered into the history portion of the museum which was a glance back at Evansville from 1900 on.

The room was transformed to look as though we were back in time, walking on a brick road and looking into the windows of houses, shops, Dr. offices, toy stores, etc.  We were blown away at how realistic it looked.  A few mannequins standing inside the various windows were a little creepy for my 3 yr old, but after reassuring him they weren't real, he'd get a little closer to them.

Strolling down a street in 19th century America was pretty amazing.  There was also a small portion devoted to Abraham Lincoln and his 1 room cabin which was neat due to his connection with the area.  There was so much detail behind each window, I could have stood there most of the day taking in the exhibits and reading each plaque.

We left the 19th century and headed upstairs to see the more traditional type of museum exhibits; old artifacts and lots of paintings.  As the children began getting slightly restless, it was time for us to whip out the snacks.  I'll never grow tired of how quiet and good children act when they have a bowl of snacks in their hands!

With pretzels and fruit snacks in their bowls, we walked a little quicker through the remainder of the museum, taking in each sight, but at a pace that said "these snacks will only last so long."

There was numerous workers walking the halls of the museum and each greeted our little brigade with a smile and kind comment.

One of the best parts of the museum to the kids was in the building on the other side of the parking lot...The Evansville Museum Transportation Center.  We were able to walk through a 1908 steam engine (and ring the bell!), a 1926 club car, and a 1900 caboose.  It was a little chilly outside so we didn't spend a lot of time walking around the train, but the kids loved it nonetheless.
All Aboard

Inside the kids watched a model train speed around the miniature city of Evansville and attempted to climb aboard an old buggy that was older than their grandparents.

We had now passed lunch and nap time for the little people and exhaustion was setting in.  We saw everything there was to see, nothing got broken, and we didn't leave a single crumb of our snacks.  That sums up a successful trip to the museum for this momma!!

Scott would have loved to read about the history of Evansville and explore the trains and various methods of transportation from the past.  Who knew Evansville had such a neat educational place tucked along the shores of the Ohio??
Until next time!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Business of Motherhood

Today is beautiful day for many reasons.  The children woke up in good moods, they both wanted items for breakfast that were stocked and waiting in the cabinets, and when it was time to get dressed, there wasn't much protesting (just one small "...but I'm still playing."  This is how a great day in the life as a mom starts out.

Today was Kindermusik day for Paisley.  He started music when he was 18 months.  Prior to this fall, it was a class that he and I took together.  The class brought Paisley (for the most part) out of his bashful shell and was a great way for me to meet other moms.  Since he turned 3 in August, he moved up to the 3-5 class which meant he took the class by himself while I sat in the lobby.

At first he did good.  He went in without issue and while I know he was the shadow of the teacher, he was fine with class.  Then a couple weeks ago something changed and he said he no longer liked the class, asking if he could stop going.  I tried having him explain to me what he didn't like but all he would say is that he liked other activities better and he wanted to stay with me.

Each week I would attempt to get him excited about class, even promising lunch at a special pizza place after class.  For whatever reason, he began crying when I went to leave the classroom.  The teacher is fantastic about scooping him up and distracting him, but it would break my heart.  We are now down to 1 last class.  Today we avoided any tears because I gave him a pack of fruit snacks and told him if he didn't cry I would open them after class.  I've learned as mother, bribing is perfectly acceptable.  Fingers crossed the final class goes ok, and he did get his fruit snacks today (score one for me!)

While we were in town I had to run into the mall to complete tax forms to work the day after Thanksgiving (yes, I'm crazy).  I worked in retail for 5 years and I love the craziness of the holidays. So, the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) is the day I come out of retail retirement and work a few hours.  Anyway, so I ventured into the mall with the littles.  They were little angels as I completed my paperwork (never mind that my employment file now has "drawings" all over it) and then just for fun we walked the mall.  We stopped and saw Santa, we rode on an overpriced electric bulldozer, and strolled through the Christmas store.  Nothing got broken and we didn't have a single meltdown.  As I loaded up the stroller in the car I felt like I was doing a dang good job at this mom business, I even decided to chance fate and take 2 hungry babies to the grocery store.

Even though our town has had a Fresh Market for 3.5 years, I still feel like I am somewhere else when I shop there.  I love all the different items and the smell of coffees and herbs.  The kids pretty much get fed the entire time we are there...meat and cheese from the deli, cookie from the bakery, and whatever the baked good of the day is at check-out.  With food constantly being handed to them, they both happily snacked as I shopped.  We all left with smiles on our faces and a few extra crumbs on our shirts.

By this point I was ready to throw caution to the wind.  Who were these 2 wonderful angels accompanying me today and where is their real mother??  Just is just one of those good days.  One of those days that everyone is happy and going with the flow.  One of those days I wish never ended.  So we went to Chick-fila because we weren't quite full despite the food at Fresh Market.

Two chicken sandwiches, a medium fry, a medium fruit cup and 2 glasses of water later, our bellies were full and we were on our way.  The kids were getting glassy eyed as we sat eating our lunch, so I knew we needed to get on the road soon or sure enough my little angels would turn into gremlins (the mean ones with lots of snot and sharp teeth, not the cute snuggly ones).  Mouths and hands were wiped and minutes later we were on the road.  Despite the wind, the sun beaming into the windows gave me a warm beautiful drive home.  I could hear the little people in the backseat sleeping and I sang along with the music on the radio.  I'm not one that likes to drive, but the conditions were so perfect I could have drove all day.  Or at least until the kids woke up.

Maybe it's because the kids are getting older, maybe I'm learning to be a more efficient mother, or maybe it's a little of both....but I feel like we are in a good groove., the best groove we've been in since Lila was born.  I've learned to keep the baby up until noon so that both babies nap at the same time, giving me roughly an hour to do laundry, prep food, etc.  I've started planning a menu for the week so that my grocery shopping list is more efficient and I'm not scrambling at 3pm trying to figure out whats for dinner.   I'm staying on top of laundry/ironing and I even hand scrubbed the floor the other day.  Not to say that next week the wheels won't fall off the wagon and I'll forget half the items on my grocery list, or someone won't want the item on that nights menu, but for now I have a good handle on this mother business.

I'll take this good day and soak it up.  I'll look at my sweet napping babes and breath in there sweet clean scents.  I'll look at my menu and start pulling out the items needed to make my baked spaghetti.  The business of motherhood is a pretty good business to be in.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

A final farewell

Growing up I had the "picture-perfect" grandmother.  She was soft.  She had this short white/gray hair that held a tight perm.  She didn't wear a stitch of make-up but was still beautiful.  She sang church songs if she wasn't talking and playing "church" was a common occurrence at her house.  

She baked cookies and pies after making a full Sunday lunch, each item homemade.  I don't know if she ever even heard of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines.  All her pants had an elastic waistline, even her jeans.  She'd give you a big hug when you arrived at her house, then it was back to the stove so the chicken didn't burn.  

On car rides she had this quiet hiss like sound that escaped her mouth.  I don't even know if she knew she was doing it, but it was sort of relaxing.  You could tell she was displeased about something by a look on her face, although I can't remember ever hearing her voice her displeasure about anything.  

She was the first person I ever saw wear a swimsuit with a skirt attached, and I remember wanting to wear one too.  She played in the pool in Florida with us, but she didn't want us getting to crazy because she couldn't swim and was a bit uncomfortable in the water.  

She gave me my first Bible.  Not because she thought I needed it or was trying to teach me, but because it was her Bible and I loved the colorful pictures.  

I moved to Wyoming in 2000 and shortly thereafter she had her first stroke.  It changed her.  Gone was the softness to her, as she began to lose weight.  Gone was the fluffy white hair, replaced by a straight cut.  Her ability to run along the car as we drove down her long driveway was gone, replaced by a wheelchair.  I returned to a grandmother that had changed.  My heart was broken.  

We moved forward and loved this new version of her.  She could no longer cook the Sunday lunches. She no longer could take care of or anticipate every need my grandfather had.  The woman that had taken care of so many her entire life needed to be taken care of.  That was hard to witness.  We all missed the grandma/mother she was, but clung to what we still had.

My children got to know her.  They were able to sit on her lap and hear the sound of her voice, although different then what I grew up knowing, they still knew her.  Paisley was able to tell her he loved her and color her pictures.  Lila was able to wave at her and blow kisses.

We knew the end was coming and that she would be better off, but it didn't lessen the blow.  Hearing the words she was gone was like getting the wind knocked out of you.  I wept for the grandmother I held so many memories of.  I wept that my children no longer had a great-grandmother.  I wept that she was finally with her son she had lost so long ago.  I wept imagining the smile on my grandfathers face as he greeted her in Heaven.

I learned she had left her earthly body while I was home with the kids.  Paisley wrapped his arms around me and hugged me quietly as I grieved, never even asking what was wrong.  Lila seeing what was happening came over and kissed my nose before returning to her dolls.  It was a such a sweet moment.

The funeral was beautiful and simple.  The room was full as we listened to "I'll fly away" and the preacher spoke his comforting words.  The sun shone down on the cemetery as her body was carried to its final resting place.  In the distance a train whistle blew.  Her wooden casket was covered in beautiful fall colored flowers.  As I leaned in to kiss the casket good-bye, I imagined my soft curly haired grandma in Heaven, smiling down at us.  She knew she was loved.  She knew she had done a wonderful job of raising her children and loving her grandchildren.  She knew she had been a faithful servant.  We said our good-bye and walked through the leaves scattered throughout the cemetery.  Thankful to know there is so much more then this life.

Here I am!

My last night rocking the 2 year old to sleep
Life!  It is full.  It is fleeting.  It makes me laugh.  It makes me cry.  Sometimes I do both in a very short period of time.  Our last couple of months have kept us on our toes and running about.  

August brought the birthdays of our two little sweeties.  While there is a touch of bittersweet to them growing older, I wear a smile on my face because they are both so healthy, happy, and thriving in every way.  I look forward to each one of their birthdays, their milestones, each significant event that makes me shed a tear of happiness. 

Their party was a combined party (and will be until they beg me to have their own) of "Trucks and Tutus."  We held it in a nearby park and the weather cooperated.  I love seeing the faces of friends and family celebrating the birth of our children.  I can't tell you who gave them what gift, but I can tell you each person that attended.  I don't take their presence for granted and neither do the kids.  
Older, but still up for adventures
September I turned a year older and discovered another 25 gray hairs.  I keep telling Scott one of these days I won't be a hair dye virgin anymore, that time is sooner then later.  *tear*  The big event
of the month was Baby P started Kinder Schule.  It was time for him to spread his wings just a bit and enjoy a structured setting with new friends.  He goes one morning a week for 2.5 hours.  It's the same pre-k that Scott went to as a boy.  He likes it and the teachers are fantastic with him.   He also started KinderMusik without me being in the class with him.  It's a big change from me participating in class with him, but he aged out of the class with parents.  I think it was harder on me then it was for him.  

October breezed in with warmer then normal weather and we enjoyed those dog days of summer by spending as many possible moments outside.  The kids loved their small splash pool, sidewalk chalk was a hit (Paisley wrote with it, Lila ate it), and playing with Quartered (the cat).  We hosted a bonfire/hayride at the farm for the second time.  It was a bit bigger this year as we added live music and kept the entire event outside.  The kids had a blast and we look at continuing the event and expanding it even more next year.  The end of the month brought Halloween which kept the kids (and I) sugared up and running about.  Paisley was Clark Kent and this is officially the last year he will let me pick his costume.  I am thankful I had at 3 years of picking out costumes for him. Lila did double costume duty being Wonder Woman and a ladybug.  
Clark Kent painting a pumpkin
Lil Wonder Woman
November has been a bit rough on all of us.  We started off with an accident and lost our sweet kitty Quartered.  That began the talks of Heaven.  Great Grandma Florence took a turn for a worst and we lost her a few weeks later.  I spoke at her funeral which was one of the hardest moments of my life.  

We found the warm days of the month to hike in a nearby park and enjoy the beauty of the season.  We have geared up for the holidays that are upon us and begin to plan our adventures for 2015.

We're holding on to this life with both hands and enjoying all the seconds, both the sweet and the sad.