The Shoemaker's Wife, by Adriana Trigiani

When Trish at TLC Book Tours mentioned she was looking for bloggers who had not read any of Adriana Trigiani's previous books, I volunteered.  I was intrigued by the description of her newest book, The Shoemaker's Wife, as a "historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny". 

Apparently Trigiani has a lot of fans.  Even my stepmom saw the book on my coffee table and commented how much she enjoyed Trigiani's books.  After reading The Shoemaker's Wife, I definitely get the appeal of her writing.  

The Shoemaker's Wife is the story of Ciro and Enza, who are from neighboring remote villages in Italy.  They meet briefly as teenagers and feel a connection to one another, but are quickly pulled apart by circumstances and do not meet again for several years.  Actually, Ciro and Enza are apart for much more of the novel than they are together, and we read alternating tales of their childhoods and young adult lives.  Ciro and Enza both emigrate (separately) to the United States, specifically to New York City, he to work as a shoemaker's apprentice and she to earn money for her family to build a home of their own.  Over the next several years, they build new lives in the city, occasionally running into one another, but never at quite the right time.  Enza works her way up from a Hoboken, NJ factory to become a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House in NYC, and Ciro finds he has quite a talent for making shoes.  I won't spoil the story of how they finally come together, but it is a satisfying journey, and Trigiani's beautiful and descriptive writing make it that much more enjoyable.

If you consider the love story to be the main point of this book, then the story might seem a little slow, as we spend a lot of the book waiting for the characters to find one another.  But if you read The Shoemaker's Wife simply as a love story, you are missing so much of this tale.  It is a story of love, true, but also of family, friendships, dreams, and life in a time and place different than any I can imagine.  

I loved every bit of this sweeping story, even when I was shedding tears on the pages.  I may just be Trigiani's newest fan, and I can't wait to read some of her other books and see what I have been missing.

**Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.  All opinions expressed are my own.  The Shoemaker's Wife is available now.


A Day in the Life

It has been quite awhile since I have done a "day in the life" post, and I think it is safe to say that my days have changed a lot since the last one.  I love reading about the ins & outs of other people's daily lives.  Though I might be alone on this (?), here is a peek at mine:

6:30 a.m.  My alarm goes off the first time.   I hit snooze at least once every morning.  Occasionally one of the girls might be waking up around this same time (usually Addison).  If so, I go get her out of bed and bring her to our bed to snuggle.

6:45-7:00 a.m.  I roll out of bed somewhere in this range and head for the shower.  If one of the girls is awake (they are rarely both awake at this time), I turn on Mickey Mouse or Curious George for her.

7:15-7:50 a.m.  I do my makeup and hair and get dressed while answering demands from the girls.  I usually try to start their lunch if it's a school day (Tues., Wed., Thurs.).  My mom comes over around 7:30 to get the girls ready for school.  I go to work at 8:00, so she takes them to school at 9:00, or stays with them if it's Monday or Friday.

8:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.  I am almost always a couple of minutes late for work, something I am trying to work on!  I usually eat an apple and peanut butter at my desk while I check my work email, etc.  There is not a whole lot of structure to my workday routine.  I do whatever needs doing first, then catch up on everything else as I can.  I get urgent to-dos first thing in the morning sometimes, and occasionally around midafternoon.  Otherwise, I just try to clear some of the stacks that are constantly threatening to take over my desk:

My messy desk this morning

Addison & Mackenzie have school 9 a.m.-2 p.m. three days a week.  On Mondays, they stay with my mom all day, either at our house or hers, or a combination of the two.  On Fridays, my mom stays with them until Jeremy gets up (from his second-shift job) around 10, then they have "Daddy-Daughter Day".  I think they all love their lazy Fridays...I often come home to find all three of them still in pajamas!

12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.  Lunch is one of my favorite times of the day.  I go home a few days a week, where I enjoy the stillness of an empty house and squeeze in some reading time while I eat.  Other days, I go out to lunch with friends or run errands and grab something to bring back to the office.  On Fridays, I usually go home to hang out with J and the girls for a little while.

1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.  More work.  My mom picks Addison & Mackenzie up from school and they go to our house or hers, where they play outside, have a snack, and occasionally go to the park or some other fun destination.  If it's not a school day, the girls usually nap from 2ish until 4ish.

4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.  I pick the girls up if they are at my mom's, or head home if they are already there.  I always change clothes first thing, because I am eager to get out of my work clothes, and they tag along, telling me about their day.  We play a little, and I start our dinner. 

5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.  Any combination of dinner, playtime, and bathtime happens during this time.  If supper takes a little longer to prepare, the girls play while it's cooking or we all hang out together.  Last night, I fell asleep on the couch for about 15 minutes, until Addison woke me up banging on her drum while performing a "concert"!  With the beautiful weather we have been having, I am occasionally able to let the girls play in the backyard while I cook (I can see them well from my kitchen window).  I leave the deck door open and they wander in and out.  I love these little moments of independence, and I love when they rush in to tell me something that just happened outside or to ask for a drink.

We usually go straight to bath after supper.  Bath can take anywhere from 30 minutes to close to an hour, depending on our moods and how well they are playing in the tub.  If they are playing well, I catch up on Facebook, Twitter, or Words with Friends while refereeing. This is also usually the period when the girls use the potty for the last time for the night, unless we have a rare bedtime request (bladders of steel, I tell you!).  If Jeremy is home, he typically does bath while I clean up the kitchen or work on something else.

7:30-8:00 p.m.  We all hit the couch to watch an episode of whatever is the favorite for the week, usually from Netflix.  Right now, it's almost always the Fresh Beat Band, which often inspires a little pre-bedtime dance party.  The girls have a few drinks of milk or juice and occasionally some yogurt or fruit snacks if they are asking for a bedtime snack.  Lately, I have been able to do a little reading of my own while they watch their show, which is a pretty awesome advancement.

8:00-8:30 p.m.  When the allotted episode goes off, the girls inevitably ask for "one more!", but they are getting much better about not grumbling when I herd them to the bathroom to brush teeth.  We all three crowd into the rocking chair to read a couple of stories (at least two, sometimes more, depending on the time and attitudes) and say prayers.  I sing (badly) one song while holding the two of them, then rock them each for a minute before putting them in bed.  I turn on the lullaby CD, give each girl "one last hug and kiss" (per their request), and exit the room, calling out "Sweet dreams, I love you!" as many times as they answer me back.  Apparently, I am supposed to say it last, and Addison usually yells it at least three times.  : )

8:30-9:15 p.m.  I clean the kitchen from dinner, doing whatever needs to be done with the dishes (J is good to help me by unloading the dishwasher several times a week, so it's ready to go at night), and generally straightening a bit of the chaos. 

9:15-11:00 (or lately, 12:00)  My time...I read, blog, watch tv, or sew/craft.  If I have work to do for the classes I teach, this is when that happens.  The laundry is perpetually piled up, but if J and I are down to nothing to wear, I fold clothes while catching up on tv.  If Jeremy is home, we watch some of our DVR'd shows from the week.  I read at some point almost every night, even if only for a few minutes before bed.  It's my release from the day, before it starts all over again.

What does your day look like?  Seriously, I love reading these things, so leave a link if you've written one lately...or go ahead and write one now! 


Saving June, by Hannah Harrington

Suicide, particularly the suicide of a teenager, is not a topic that is high on my list of favorites these days.  Since becoming a mother, certain themes in books, television, or movies affect me in new and different ways.  There are some things I just can't stand to think much about at this point in time, and the death of a child is at the top of that list.  (The avoidance multiplies if that child is around the age of my own.)

Given these circumstances, you might understand why I felt a hint of trepidation when I started reading Hannah Harrington's Saving June.  After all, the summary clearly implies a theme of death in the book:
‘If she’d waited less than two weeks, she’d be June who died in June. But I guess my sister didn’t consider that.’
Harper Scott’s older sister has always been the perfect one so when June takes her own life a week before her high school graduation, sixteen-year-old Harper is devastated. Everyone’s sorry, but no one can explain why.
When her divorcing parents decide to split her sister’s ashes into his-and-her urns, Harper takes matters into her own hands. She’ll steal the ashes and drive cross-country with her best friend, Laney, to the one place June always dreamed of going, California.
 I have found that some YA authors are deft at handling difficult, emotional issues with just enough detail to pull at the heartstrings, without sending the more sensitive of us into panic attacks.  Hannah Harrington writes Saving June in exactly such a way.

The book opens on the evening of June's funeral, meaning that readers only hear of her life and death through the voice of her sister, Harper.  We, as readers, are not given an opportunity to form much of an emotional connection to June, and her suicide itself is actually only dealt with in brief, topical terms.  The book, and the story, are Harper's.

Harper is a loveable, slightly misguided teenager who is struggling to deal with the aftermath of her "perfect" sister's death.  Harper makes some ridiculous decisions, but at heart, she is a good kid who is just trying to do what she thinks she should for the sister she realizes she never knew very well at all.

Despite its weighty issues, this is a great book for spring or summer reading, largely because it involves a road trip with a cute boy and a slightly wild best friend. 

Has your taste in books/movies changed since becoming a parent?  Are there some things you just can't tolerate anymore?


Nashville Zoo

As I mentioned, on Addison & Mackenzie's birthday, we took a trip to the Nashville Zoo.  Although we have been meaning to visit the zoo since the girls were tiny, this was their first trip...and the first visit in many, many years for Jeremy and me.  I think we enjoyed it just as much as the girls did!




Can you tell I bribed Addison to take a picture with her sister?

That's better!







The Nashville Zoo doesn't have a huge amount of animals, but it is an amazing setting.  The zoo is divided into "world regions", and most of the habitats for the large animals seemed very natural--not a cage in sight, except for some of the smaller animals.  Surprisingly, the girls' favorite area seemed to be the building with the fish/snakes/lizards/frogs/spiders.  I would never have predicted that!

Our first zoo trip was a hit, which is a good thing since we bought a family pass!  The zoo pass has lots of reciprocal zoos around the country that will allow us to get in free as well.  We are fortunate to be just in between Nashville and Birmingham, which both honor the pass, so next time we will check out Birmingham.

I wish we could bottle this beautiful spring weather and keep it forever!


Down with Pacifiers, Part 2

Last time I mentioned trying to convince the girls they were ready to give up their pacis, we didn't really know what our plan was going to be. 

We debated taking them away at Christmas, maybe leaving them for Santa to "pick up" when he delivered their new toys.  Ultimately, we decided against that, not wanting them to have memories of Santa "taking" their pacis.  It was sometime around Christmas, though, that we started talking up the idea that once they turned three in a few months, they would have to give up their pacis. 

On that last post, my friend Laura Beth reminded me what I'd read about her experiences helping her daughter give up the paci.  I liked their approach--talking about it for months ahead of time so it comes as no surprise, and getting a gift in return.  Because we have waited so long to fight this battle, I felt that talking it through with A & M would help them grasp the concept that we weren't taking the pacifier away just because we wanted to, but because they were growing up.

We picked Addison & Mackenzie's third birthday, April 2, as THE day.  We talked it up for months, casually mentioning every so often that once they turned three, they would be big girls and no longer need the pacis. Addison particularly latched onto the "big girl" idea, and would often tell us that when she was "free" (three!), she would be a big girl and not need a paci anymore. 

In the weeks preceding their birthday, I noticed Mackenzie getting especially demanding for her paci.  She has not had one in the car in more than a year, but she started asking for the old one in the cupholder.  I let her have it, figuring she was getting in her last little bit of time with her beloved paci.  Addison may have actually backed off on her devotion to her paci in the last few weeks before her birthday, so maybe the talking thing helped her.

I decided that the night before their birthday would be the night we left the pacis out for the "Paci Fairy" (ridiculous, I know).  It was the evening of their birthday party, and I knew my girls would be exhausted. 

The exhaustion may very well have worked against me, because both girls WAILED when we told them it was time to leave the pacis on the coffee table.  I expected most of it, but it was heartbreaking.  We rocked and sang and read, and still they wailed on.  Mackenzie was particularly inconsolable, and I was actually afraid she was going to make herself sick.  I wanted to cry myself!  Finally, in a moment of desperation, I bargained with the girls that they could have their pacis to fall asleep, but that I would sneak in before morning and leave the pacis for the paci fairy.  I emphasized over and over that when they woke the next morning, there would be no pacifier. 

In retrospect, I probably should have waited until the night of their actual birthday to institute this life change (sorry again, girls!).  To be quite honest, the morning of their birthday SUCKED for all of us.  We had planned to go to the Nashville Zoo, and at one point, I thought we weren't going to make it.  (Although I was determined I was NOT going to stay home all day with whining, crying children!)  Even the present from the paci fairy had little to no effect on their attitudes.  Addison very seriously told us she wanted a gun for her birthday (???), so the paci fairy delivered two pretty cool Nerf guns:

Eventually, after much sobbing from the girls and many declarations on my part that I was sorry, but the pacis would NOT be coming back, we were able to take off for the zoo.

The day itself went pretty well, with only Mackenzie's angry grunts at me when she was overtired on the way home (Jeremy remarked that he was pretty sure she was cursing at me, she just doesn't know the right words yet!).  And surprisingly, most days since then have been pretty much okay.  Sometimes they are just whiny and won't really say why, but I'm sure it's partly due to the pacis.  Occasionally Mackenzie will say she wants a paci, but we just gently remind her that they are all gone.  

The part of this whole ditching-the-paci thing that worried Jeremy and me the most was bedtime.  The girls have always been great sleepers, and sleep is not something we take for granted in our house.  To be quite honest, we were a little bit petrified to mess with the formula.  To my astonishment, bedtime has not been nearly the drama-fest I imagined.  If M is going to whine about her paci, it is pretty much either after nap or first thing in the morning.  It has hardly been mentioned at bedtime at all!  AND there have been no more nighttime wakings than usual.  Sometimes it takes a little longer to get the girls settled for bed, which I largely attribute to the vast increase in talking and singing we have seen since ditching the pacis, but I can deal with that.  (Just to be clear, my kids talked plenty before--the pacis certainly never deterred them--but without them to work around, they are absolutely unstoppable.  They talk and sing from morning until night.  It's pretty great!)

Overall, I guess I would say we had a fairly good experience getting rid of the pacifiers.  It certainly could have been worse.  Would it have been easier a year ago?  Maybe in some ways...but then again, I got LOTS of extra peace and quiet by keeping them, so I won't say that was a mistake.  : )

I am just glad to be over this hurdle.  My girls are potty trained, eat and drink everything we do, can put on their own shoes, and have no pacis.  Does this mean they really ARE big girls now??  Waaahhhh!  It happens so quickly in the grand scheme of things, doesn't it?

Oh, wait, they still sleep in cribs...that means they're not all grown up yet!  The beds will be our next big step, but I wanted to get fully adjusted from the paci ordeal before we even considered a bed change.  (We plan to just take off the front of the crib and use it as a toddler/daybed for the foreseeable future.)

Have you switched to toddler beds (or big-kid beds) yet?  How did that go?  Prepare me!


We Partied Hard

On Sunday, April 1, we got together with friends and family for Addison & Mackenzie's third birthday party.  We decided to have it at our church again this year, which works out really well.  I don't have to clean the house and if the weather is nice, we can have it totally outside and have almost nothing to clean afterwards.  Score!

Some pre-party pictures:




They collapsed trying to take a group shot
We got it right!
A rare family picture
Following the (homemade, slightly redneck) yellow brick road

Brenna is FEARLESS.  She was all over that playground!
Wyatt inside the slide

Don't they look like troublemakers?  : )


Opening presents with a little a lot of help from friends.  My girls shared so well and loved having their friends help them--proud mama moment!  I love Addison's face in the background.

Great grandparents
Favors (little bags of Teddy Grahams)

An exhausted birthday girl and her Jen Jen watching our church Praise Team practice after the party.  The Praise Team sang "Happy Birthday" to the girls, and they LOVED it.

It was a really great party, and we are SO thankful that most of our friends and family were able to come celebrate with us.  Addison & Mackenzie had a blast (and we adults did, too!).

One of my absolute favorite party pictures is an updated version of this picture from A & M's first birthday party, in April 2010:

all the girls

It's Addison & Mackenzie with Grace and Ella Kate, the daughters of my two college roommates.  All of these girls were born within a year of one another.  Last year's picture didn't turn out so great (I'm pretty sure only one of my kids even made it IN the picture), but I LOVE this year's version:

Love these girls AND their mamas!


How Long Would YOU Survive?

Nearly a year ago, after devastating tornadoes ripped through our state, my family got a taste of a different lifestyle when we were forced to live without power for more than four days.  It was an interesting experience, and I vowed I would never take a hot meal or shower for granted again.

Naturally, some of that experience has faded from my mind and we have mostly returned to the normalcy of life as it was before April 27, 2011.  I am more careful to keep a little cash on hand, tucked away in a drawer, I know where all the flashlights, candles, and lighters are in my house, and I am more intentional about keeping a supply of simple, ready-to-eat food in our pantry.  Many of us around here get a little more stressed about the weather than we did a year ago, but in general, we just know how lucky we were last April and we will never stop being thankful for that.

 When I was offered a copy of Lisa Bedford's book, Survival Mom, I thought it would be a good time to read a book on preparations and protecting your family, with the one-year anniversary of the storms approaching in a couple of weeks.  Bedford is the author of TheSurvivalMom blog, which I had not heard of before reading this book.  Like the book, there is some good information to be found, but you might have to sort through a lot to find what applies to your family.

I am, admittedly, not a preparer.  When the girls were babies, I was not the mom with the gigantic diaper bag stuffed with every item we might possibly need.  More often, I was the mom with the baby wearing a too-small onesie because I had forgotten to change out the spare set of clothes for 4-5 months.  My babies rarely needed a public diaper change (that avoidance of public restrooms starts early, apparently!), but if they did, the diapers were likely in the car--meaning a trek back out to the parking lot for someone.  I have not always been this way, but as an adult, I am pretty laid-back and I have learned the value of choosing not to worry about things that are absolutely beyond my control.

In short, I'm pretty much the opposite of these survivalist moms.

To be fair, they are doing SO much more than worrying about all the possibly scenarios and are, in fact, preparing for them so that they WILL have some control in the direst of situations.  But do I see myself raising chickens in the backyard, stocking a safe room, and learning to grind my own wheat so that I will have a food supply in case of devastating events?  Not quite.

Again, there is some very good information to be found in Survival Mom, especially if you are a preparer or maybe even a worrier by nature (the idea being that you can do something to prepare yourself, rather than just imagining worst-case scenarios).  I particularly like the idea of a Grab-n-Go binder--a notebook filled with copies of each family member's birth certificate, Social Security cards, vital medical information, debit and credit card information, etc.  I admit that I don't keep up with those things as well as I should, and if something were to happen to me, I am not sure Jeremy would know where to start.  We live in a fairly mild climate, but I also realize that it would be wise to have an emergency kit in the car at all times, especially considering that we have young children.

I also like the information about gun safety, especially regarding kids.  I stand somewhat in the middle on the gun issue in general, but I do believe that knowing how to handle and operate firearms is an important skill to have and can make a woman feel less intimidated by guns.  Due to Jeremy's job, there is not really a choice in the matter--we will have guns in the house and he will usually be carrying one concealed when we are in public.  Though all firearms are kept far out of the girls' reach, I have already realized the value in doing just as Bedford advocates, being upfront about what a gun is and emphasizing that it should never be handled by small hands.  My girls know that their daddy has guns for work, but I think they already realize that those items are off-limits to them, no questions asked.  As they grow and become more curious, I again agree with Bedford in that letting them learn a little about guns and all the safety measures involved is probably safer than just continuing to hide them and say "Those are not for you".  How much curiosity does a strictly off-limits item incite in a child?  A lot!  The gun issue is one that resounded with me because it is something we will have to deal with eventually.

In reading this book, I came away with maybe a little bit of an increased awareness of all the things I need to think about to keep my family safe.  But I also realized that I am grateful for one kind of security I do have--my eternal security.  In the case of a natural disaster or other catastrophe, of course I want to do everything within my human power to protect my family.  Are we under-prepared for a test of our "survival skills"?  Oh yes, and there are some simple things I can do to change that.  But if we are talking the end of the world or a devastating EMP (do NOT click that link if you are a worrier.  Really, DON'T.), why would I want us all to stay here and suffer instead of rushing with open arms to my heavenly home?  Ultimately, I am not terrified of death because I know what is waiting for me after it:  an eternity of peace and bliss.  Speaking about some critics of the survivalist mentality, Bedford says, "Those of us who believe in preparedness, whether beginners or veterans, know the frustration of trying to convince loved ones that the future is not at all secure."  Is my earthly future secure?  Nope.  There are all kinds of trials to be faced here.  But my ultimate, eternal future?  Because of Jesus Christ, that future is absolutely secure.

Again, I stress that there is good information to be found here, and I think there is a lot of value in being prepared for everyday emergencies.  (During the power outage last year, the most reliable source of light in our house was provided by the girls' Toy Story flashlight.  I am happy to report that we have now acquired a real, adult-sized flashlight, with batteries and everything!) As for me and my family, though, we also find value and comfort in the words of Jesus:  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:31-34)

Even though I did not agree with everything this book had to say, I am happy to have read it, as I enjoy hearing about lifestyles and ideas different from my own.  For more reviews, check out TLC Book Tours.  

Where do you fall on the survivalist/preparedness scale?  Would you last longer than me?

*I received a copy of Survival Mom from the publisher for review through TLC Book Tours.  My review consists of my honest thoughts and opinions on this book.


State of Affairs, March Edition

Trips taken:  None, again
I did get out for fun shopping trips all by myself on a couple of occasions, both in the name of gathering supplies for the girls' birthday.  Naturally, I managed to squeeze in a bit of shopping for me too while I was out and about.  It's only fair, right?  I got to go to a movie this month as well, when I took some teenagers to see The Hunger Games.

I also took a Saturday trip to Fayetteville, TN with my mom and aunt to a fabric store.  We enjoyed a leisurely day, stopping at a local craft fair, eating lunch on the downtown square, and checking out the gigantic Goodwill store.

(There are already two day trips on the books for April.  Woo hoo!)

Books read:  5.5
Anything--Meh.  Strange and vague on the details.  More like an outline of what could have been a better story.

The Lifeguard--There was a somewhat-unexplained supernatural theme to this one too, but I didn't mind nearly as much.  Not bad.

Shooting Stars--Far-fetched, but pretty entertaining.  I liked the way it worked out in the end, and didn't really see it coming.

The Last Plea Bargain--My favorite of the month.  A legal thriller in the vein of John Grisham, but with a main female character.  A little on the long side, but I liked it quite a bit.

Speak--I have heard a lot about this YA book over the years and finally picked it up at the library this month.  I read it in just a couple of days, but I didn't just love it or find it that outstanding.  I did like the ending of this one as well.

I'm halfway through both Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (continuing my Harry Potter re-read) and Survival Mom.

(By the way, for anyone who may be interested in any of the books I mention in these recaps, they are listed on my Goodreads profile.)

Eh, nothing exciting here this month.  A & M have now discovered The Fresh Beat Band on Netflix, so I get to hear a lot of that before bed at night.  Thankfully, it's not too annoying.  We have also listened to the Disney/Broadway station on Pandora and I have been reminded of just how much I love that one song from The Little Mermaid.  Cheesy much?

Crafts and Projects
The project I am most proud of this month (maybe for the entire year?) is outfit I made for the girls' birthday party.  I have a ton of party pictures and details to share soon, but I loved the way their outfits turned out...even if they included skirts and not a full dress like Dorothy wears!


I made cupcake toppers and party favors for the party, as well as designing their invitation.  I have never really fooled around with digital design before, except for the blog, so I was excited that I managed to accomplish that as well.  I bought fabric for simple kitchen curtains, but that project was sidelined for the birthday craftiness.

Project-wise, Jeremy gets the gold star this month.  With a lot of help from my dad and his stepdad, he spent an entire weekend putting together our birthday present for Addison & Mackenzie:


They love it, and I love that we have something to keep us busy outside in this beautiful spring weather.  I have already claimed a prime spot for my lounge chair and plan to spend a lot of time there, reading and watching the girls play.  : )

Here, at the end of March, I am not nearly as stressed as I was at the beginning of the month.   Though some things didn't turn out as well as I had hoped this month, I have pretty much let it go and given myself permission to start over with a clean slate in that area.  And I have vowed again to say no to things that will just add to my stress.  Every couple of years I have to be reminded that I can't do it all and refocus myself on what I can do.

Jeremy and I did a lot of thinking and talking about food this month, and while we aren't yet committed to huge changes, I do see good things beginning to happen in our attitudes about the way we want to feed our family.  I am very much looking forward to the upcoming fresh foods and vegetables of the summer.  Also food-related, I made a first attempt at any kind of homemade bread and made this Cinnamon Strawberry Bread.  It is amazing, and has become a regular rotation in our house...proof that I can actually follow a recipe sometimes!

We also finalized some plans for fixing up some things around the house and began to loosely, but seriously, discuss adding on to our house.  We love this neighborhood, our yard, and most things about this house, but we want just a little more space.  We hope to possibly meet with a contractor this month to find out the possibilities to add a new master bedroom and bathroom.  I don't know if it will work out or not, but it's fun to dream.

How was your March? 



Dear Addison & Mackenzie,

Yesterday, you turned THREE years old.  I can hardly believe it, but then again, it seems like you have been with us forever.  You are absolutely THE best part of our lives, and your daddy and I love our little family so very much.  Every year gets better and better.

Mackenzie, at three you are sensitive and kind.  You worry about things sometimes, so we have to be careful what we say around you.  You take care of your sister and get upset if she is upset.  When Addison goes to time out, you usually ask if you can take her a blanket or even end up sitting beside her while she serves her punishment.  You think of other people more than any barely-three year old I know.  Just the other day, you remembered I had been to a movie the day before.  You asked, "Did you like your movie, Mama?"  When I answered that I did, very much, you said, "I'm so glad!"  And then my heart melted.

If you notice I have on a new outfit, or just one you particularly like, you will say, "I like your dress, Mama.  It's very pretty."  Right now, you practically refuse to wear anything except a skirt or dress ("ballerinas", you call them), and I am happy to oblige and let you wear one nearly every day.  The little twirl you do when you first put on a favorite dress is so much better than any cute outfit I could coerce you to wear.  You are very attached to your Jen Jen and Ne Ne.  You love to snuggle and watch movies on the couch, and you are awesome at games of pretend.  You call any dog "Toto", from The Wizard of Oz, and you often tell people very sincerely that your name is Dorothy Ross H----.  I may cry the day you stop asking us to call you Dorothy.


My little Addison, you are the life of the party around here most days.  You are funny and silly and fiercely independent.  Sometimes I shudder to imagine how sassy you might be during your teen years, but we will cross that bridge when we get there, and I will love you even on the days you make me want to scream.  While you are less likely than you sister to cuddle up with me voluntarily, I also catch you more and more often sitting still "reading" a book all by yourself.  You have definitely inherited my love of books, and seeing that love grow makes your mama's heart very, very happy.

I often call you my wild child, but you have a sensitive side too.  Sometimes when you realize you are about to get into trouble, your little face just crumbles and you burst into unexpected tears.  (Yes, that makes it very hard to stay mad at you at that moment in time, a fact I hope you don't figure out anytime soon!)  Just the other day, you were bouncing around while I combed your hair and you caught sight of an ASPCA commercial on tv.  You asked me if the doggie was sad and I, without thinking, answered that he was.  Your eyes immediately welled up with tears and you became inconsolable, wailing, "I don't waaaaannnttt him to be sad!"

You are very much a mama's girl right now, but you often get caught up in things your daddy is doing too.  You love to help him work on the lawn mower and you request to visit the John Deere store almost weekly.  You love to run and play "chase" right now and you can far outlast any of us adults.  You scrunch up your nose when you smile, just like I do, and you have this funny little abrupt way of talking sometimes that absolutely cracks us up.  I can't describe it, but I'm pretty sure I will never forget it.


The two of you together are an unstoppable combination.  You are our yin and yang, our sweet and spunky, the perfect complement to one another.  You are our wild and crazy monkeys, and our lives before you seem dreadfully boring in comparison to the excitement you bring to our days.


As I have said before, being a mama to you girls is by far the greatest and coolest thing I will ever do.  I will make mistakes, and lots of them--like, um, taking your pacis away the night before your 3rd birthday so that you were sad ON your birthday instead of waiting until the day after (sorry about that!!)--but I promise you I will always do the very best I can do for you girls and for our family. 

You are so very loved, girls, don't ever forget that.  Happy third birthday!

(Since you are such big girls now, can you go ahead and forgive me for this paci business soon?  Pretty please?)