25 January 2009

the many uses of toilet paper...

Saturday

Having lunch outdoors.

The first time the girls eat smores.

Mmm...gooey and good.

Making their own.

What a treat!

Mom and the girls.

On Saturday morning, Morgan and I decided that it was about time to clean our backyard. We get so much dust out here in the desert. We washed down all the windows, outdoor furniture and pavers. The girls were happily occupied playing in their bounce house and getting wet by scooping pool water into their water wheel. Once we were done and since all the furniture was now clean, we decided to make the most of the beautiful day by eating lunch outside. That also inspired me to use our fire pit in the evening. I hate to admit it but since we've had it now for two years, we haven't used it very often. In the afternoon, I picked up some graham crackers and marshmallows while I was out grocery shopping to make it a fun experience for the girls. After dinner, we bundled up and headed out back to make some smores (minus the chocolate). The girls loved it and a good time was had by all!

This also inspired me to do a camping night at home as soon as it gets a little warmer at night. Morgan's not big on camping in a tent but I've managed to talk him into it. He says he'll do it only if I sleep in the tent, too. Thankfully, I think the tent we have will fit all of us. It would be a fun evening of barbecuing, coming inside to watch a movie, making smores, and then sleeping under the stars in the backyard. It will also be a good introduction to camping for the girls. We'll just have to make sure that we turn off the sprinklers that day. :)

24 January 2009

Her Royal Highnesses

Princess Faith sits on her royal throne.

Who knew that the tooth fairy uses the big potty?

Our silly girls.

The girls have been doing great in the potty department. We've been happily doing all our normal activities without worrying about any accidents. Last week, we even went to the zoo and the mall in the same day with no problems. One thing is for sure, we're getting to know where all the family bathrooms are at the places we frequent.

I am very much looking forward to spring and all the fun activities that are coming up. Here's what's on the horizon in March...

* Hailey's tea party baby shower at my house.
* Faith & Grace's 3rd birthday party (one week early).
* Family vacation to Orlando.
* Walt Disney World.
* Our first Disney cruise to celebrate the girls' birthday.

In addition, I think I'm the only person in the desert who is looking forward to warmer weather. I know, I'm crazy! It's not like it hasn't been nice here in the 70's and even low 80's. I can't wait to start wearing summer clothes and since the girls are better swimmers now, we look forward to lots of fun afternoons in the pool.

The 2's for the girls were actually great (although, I could be suffering from short-term memory loss). Lately, we've been getting glimpses of what the 3's might look like. Faith and Grace have been extremely loving and affectionate these days. It's not uncommon for them to hug us and tell us several times a day, "I love my mommy" or "I love my special daddy." They have more of a vocabulary now so everything that comes out of their mouth is both interesting and adorable. On top of all that, they are diaper-free (with the exception of sleep time). This could very well be the cutest age ever!

22 January 2009

Who I Am

In my Thursday morning bible study, there are several new women who have joined our group since we resumed after the new year. Last week, as we went around the table to re-introduce ourselves, one of the new women said something that has been lingering on my mind ever since. It wasn't until a couple of days ago that I finally paused long enough to think about what she said and why, in fact, it had bothered me.

Almost immediately, she shared the fact that she was dealing with a difficult situation at home. Her 25 year-old daughter had two children out of wedlock. In addition to that, she was not married and now living at home. What bothered me was the fact that when she told us this, she specifically called her daughter my "adopted daughter." In fact, she said it twice.
I couldn't put my finger on it at the time but it was almost like she was saying,
"I don't want to claim her as "my own" because of the mess that she's gotten herself into." I realize that I am perhaps putting words into this woman's mouth by suggesting that this is what she meant. To be fair, it's true, I don't know the whole breadth of this woman's story. My intention is not to sound judgemental. I just didn't understand what being adopted had anything to do with her story?

If her 25 year-old daughter had no illegitimate children and was about to marry a man that her parents greatly approved of, would she still be calling her her "adopted daughter?" Maybe so. If that's the case, that's sad. Not because I don't embrace where my children came from or the fact that another woman gave birth to them. I'm never ashamed to tell anyone that my daughters are adopted. But there is also an appropriate time and place to share this information and never in a way that would make my children feel uncomfortable, unworthy or embarrassed. Being adopted is not an adjective. It is simply a fact. It does not describe their worth or their future. If our daughters end up making choices for themselves that cause our family pain and heartache, we will not start calling them our "adopted daughters." We love and value our children because of who they are, not because we share the same blood. By the same token, their worth or identity is not diminished by what they do or don't do. They are legally and wholeheartedly just our daughters.

The thought did cross my mind that maybe I'm being a little too sensitive? But then I put myself in the shoes of that 25 year-old young woman. What if she had just heard her mom refer to her as my "adopted daughter." Ouch. After all, when I mess up, would I want my kids to start calling me their "adoptive mom?"

One of my greatest responsibilities is teaching my children that their value comes from knowing who they are in Christ. Understanding that truth will help them live a victorious Christian life. I was reminded that through Jesus' blood, we are all God's adopted children. Even in our weaknesses, God refers to us as His sons and daughters, not His "adopted sons and daughters." The bible says that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ of everything God has and everything God is. ~Romans 8:17.

Words are powerful. The tongue has the power to tear down or to build up. One sentence, one word can last a lifetime. Personally, I have experienced hurtful words that can leave a deep scar and take years to heal. By the same token, encouraging words from my husband have always played a huge part in my marriage and the woman of worth that I am today. If nothing else, this brought to light the desire to know without a doubt what my Heavenly Father says about me. I believe the more we reaffirm who we are in Christ, the more our behavior will begin to reflect our true, God-given identity...

*This woman did not come to bible study today but I am looking forward to see what God has in store for us as we get to know one another better. As my friend Ann says, maybe we have crossed paths simply because I am supposed to pray for her and her daughter? Thank you, Ann for always speaking truth in love. I will be sure to share an update if any developments are made.


16 January 2009

Dreaming BIG

I love it when God clearly speaks to me through His word, other people, a message on the pulpit, or maybe even a song. Last week, that's exactly what happened. Since I can be a little hard-headed at times, God used all these things within a matter of hours, along with what's been lingering on my heart over these last few months and brought it all to an undeniable culmination one morning. The bottom line... I was challenged by God to dream BIG, believe BIG, wait for the miracle and experience the power and promise of God like I've never experienced before! Truth be told, dreaming big at this point in my life doesn't exactly come easy for me. Especially considering the fact that I've always felt like I've been blessed with way more than I could have ever dreamed of to begin with. I'm not just talking material things here but more about the blessing of my husband, kids, family, faith and health. Lord knows that I am completely content and grateful for everything in my life. In a way, I guess expecting anything more just seemed a little greedy and self indulgent.

But last week, God invited me to go to another level with Him. He asked me to take Him out of that safe package I was keeping Him in and allow Him to be a Man of His word. He challenged me to trust Him wholeheartedly, instead of placing my own fears, limitations and insecurities on Him, the God of the universe. He dared me to believe that anything and everything was possible for those that believe. Luke 1:37.

He also showed me that perhaps it's my own fear of failure and disappointment that has kept me from dreaming BIG. God spoke to me in such a profound and unmistakable way that morning. I will never forget it. Since then, I've been trying to get my head wrapped around it. I now realize that therein lies my problem! I'm just now beginning to understand that my mind just needs to learn to believe what my heart already knows! God DOES NOT break promises. He can and will deliver in a BIG, BIG way. Mark 11:24 says, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Perhaps by thanking Him in advance and eagerly waiting for the fulfillment of the blessing, I am, in fact, calling His promise into being?

Just to be honest, the thought of ignoring this whole interaction between me and God did cross my mind. Except I soon began to realize that the only person that would lose out in that scenario would be me. Could it be that I have been cutting my dreams short? Could it be that God may have even more grandious plans for my future? Is it possible that He has simply been waiting for me to get on board?!

I was reminded that trusting God with everything I am requires daily and constant surrender. It's amazing how quickly and easily I can go back to my old ways of self-sufficiency. Just think! God wants me to be an active participant in something BIG! How exciting is that?! Through His word and the Holy Spirit, I am mustering up the courage to take a giant leap of faith and embark on a new adventure with Him!

I pray that as each new day passes, my confidence will grow, not from myself but from knowing His word, His promises and what He thinks of me. I am incredibly blessed to know that I am a child of the Most High King! A valued and precious daughter that He loves without end. He greatly desires to bless those that are obedient to His calling- far beyond what our human minds can even comprehend or dare to dream.

The question is... "Am I up for the ride?"
I think I'm getting there!

Here's to dreaming and believing BIG in 2009!



11 January 2009

Polo

The venue.

Grace points out the one she likes.

Pretty girls.

Watching with daddy.

Here they come!

A beautiful day for polo.

In action.

Who won?

What to do on a beautiful Saturday morning? Go to a polo match, of course! One of the reasons we like where we live is because it sort of feels like a quiet rural area, even though we're just a few short minutes away from the center of town. We packed some light snacks and a blanket and met our friends across the street to enjoy our first live polo match. Horses fascinate me because of their power and beauty and although I haven't had the opportunity to be around them very often, I sure enjoy watching them in all their glory. Theses horses were no exception. The games continue throughout the winter so this will be another fun activity to do on the weekends.

10 January 2009

Day beds


Earlier this week, we finally decided that it may be time to transition from a crib to a day bed. The girls have never wanted to be out of their cribs nor have they ever desired to climb out. Because of that, we just figured that we'd keep them in their cribs for as long as possible. At least that way, we knew where they were at all times. Since they are doing so well with potty training, we decided to make them feel even more like big girls. We purchased bed rails but after putting them up, we decided to take them back. We simply moved the mattress down to the very bottom notch and put a pillow on the ground in case they fell out. The first night, we gave them instructions on what to do if they fell out of bed and to our surprise, no one had fallen out by morning. In fact, the next day, after their morning chatter to one another, I heard them say, "Mommy I gotta go potty!" I walked into their bedroom to find two little girls greeting me at the door. Since then, Grace has fallen out of bed once but she told me that she just climbed back in herself and she was OK. They also enjoy the fact that they can now climb in their beds all by themselves and visit each other as well. This picture was taken in the morning while they were reading books on Gracie's bed.

On a side note... I called Faith "my baby" yesterday and she corrected me by saying that she is not a baby, she's a "girl." She also told me that she was a twin! Ah, sigh...

09 January 2009

Our little surprise...

Potty training has been going very well since we began two weeks ago. Just this week, we've been venturing out to all our regular places... grocery shopping, church, Costco and the library. Faith has only had two accidents in the last week. On both occasions, she was more preoccupied with playing, rather than wanting to stop and tell me that she had to go potty. In general though, she is doing great and has yet to have an accident when we are out anywhere.

But our surprise has come from Little Miss Grace. She's been accident free since the day after we started. When we first attempted potty training about 6 months ago, it seemed like it was more difficult for her to catch on. She tends to copy a lot of what her sister does anyway so I guess I just thought that she would eventually follow suit by watching her sister. The long break must have served her well because not only has she been accident free this time around, she was also the first to start telling me that she needed to go. Surprise, surprise! Way to go, Gracie!


06 January 2009

Happy Birthday, Maddy & Cobi!

Eating cupcakes.

Maddy & Cobi join the fun.

Faith is having a good time.

Our friends, Rhonda and Ryan came over yesterday to celebrate their daughters' 2nd birthday. The girls jumped in the bounce house, played with some toys and ate cupcakes that Rhonda brought over. Faith and Grace have always loved Maddy and Cobi and take such sweet care of their little friends. Welcome to the "terrific two's", girls!



03 January 2009

On our way!

My first post of the New Year starts with some very exciting news! The girls are on their way to being potty trained! We started the day after Christmas and things have been going so well. The first week, we stayed pretty close to home so the girls could get used to a routine. During the whole week, they only had a couple of accidents each. They've also been using the big potty for pee and poo with no problems. In fact, I've now put away their little potty. Who wants to clean another little potty if you don't have to, right? On New Year's Eve, we decided to venture out for the first time all week. We went out to dinner and during our 2 hours at the restaurant, I made 5 trips to the restroom (3 for Grace and 2 for Faith)! Honestly though, I didn't mind because each time, they actually had to go and we completed an evening out with no accidents! How cool is that?! Okay, seriously, I know that unless you're a parent with toddlers, it's probably not all that exciting. But to us, it's huge!

And then yesterday, after swim lessons, we decided to make an impromptu drive out to Ontario to pick up a bounce house for the girls. Yup, that's right, we are too cheap to pay for shipping. Plus, we just thought of it as a family adventure. The drive each way took a little more than an hour. After 3 stops to use the restroom, we made it all the way there and back with no accidents! In fact, it's been days since our last accident so I think we're ready to conquer the outside world. We'll start with church tomorrow and see what happens.

Looking back, I now realize that when I first tried to potty train the girls about 6 months ago, not only were they not ready, but I wasn't either! I was much more mentally prepared this time around. Six months ago, the girls didn't even care about a Princess so what made me think that they would they care if they peed on their Princess panties? Today, they like to wear their panties and they even tell me, "I don't want to pee on Belle or Ariel." What's been great is the fact that over the holidays, although Morgan has still been working from home, he's been such a great help to me. It's been way less stressful this time around.

To be quite honest, although I was fully planning to tackle potty training in the New Year, we have recently had a huge motivator in doing so as soon as possible. Recently, we booked our spring vacation to Orlando, Florida. From there, we will be going on a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas for the girls' 3rd birthday in March. Yes, it's all very exciting!! And no, we weren't planning on going on a Disney Cruise at this early age but hey, kids were FREE and we needed to use up our airline miles. Here's the thing.... on the cruise, the girls can join the Kids Club with all sorts of fun activities but only if they are potty trained! Hello?! Therein lies our motivation! We know that they would have a blast in the Kids Club and we want them to experience all great activities the cruise has to offer. Plus, Morgan and I will get to have a little free adult time as well. I'd say that's all pretty good motivation for us to be diaper free by March!

We are so proud of our big girls!

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