A working thought:
One of the beauties of living a life of God's authoring is not knowing what has been foreshadowed until you stand illuminated with the Author's hindsight.
I love those ah-ha moments when you can look back with gratitude upon God's authorship of every circumstance, every relationship, every seeming coinsidence knowing that you are living amid -- and because of -- God's grace and love.]]>
A couple of months ago, Natalie decided that she no longer liked wearing, well, most of her clothes. She stopped wearing pants, shorts, shirts, even skirts that she'd been wearing just the week before. All she wanted to wear was one particular dress. With a little digging, we found in her dresser two more dresses (that we'd used as night gowns) that would be suitable for Natalie to wear.
I tried to walk the fine line between constantly badgering her with, "We're leaving in 5 minutes whether you're dressed or not," and, "Okay, sweetie, we'll stay home until your one outfit is washed and dried ... again."
We went to several stores and found one or two dresses she liked in the fitting room but rejected once home. Target supplied more hits than misses, and eventually I was satisfied that she had at least enough satisfactory dresses to last a week between laundry loads.
Somewhere in the middle of the dress-refusal episode I asked her about wearing shorts under the dresses -- she cringed at the thought. I didn't think about undershirts until she discovered a hand-me-down tanktop in her dresser and declared it an undershirt. That gave me a little hope, but I remained frustrated under the surface.
I was particularly frustrated about a wonderful find of Old Navy dresses on super clearance that I offered to my oldest daughter. She summarily rejected them all. I meant to take that pile of dresses back to the store, but didn't get around to it. I had held onto the minute hope that Natalie might change her mind. The few times I brought it up with her -- "you should try on the dresses from Old Navy again" -- she refused.
Well, this morning, I was feeling hopeful again. And Natalie with delight and glee tried on and loved every dress in the Old Navy bag, thanks to the hand-me-down undershirt. She also loved the two pairs of shorts I purchased for her to wear under the dresses.
I'm thankful for all my friends who've been there, done that with their kids and loved them through their persistent quirks. We're raising little human beings who have to live in their own skin and learn how to express their tastes. It's frustrating, especially when we seem incapable of convincing them of the big-picture importance of obeying parents and just helping the family get out the door in the morning.
I don't know what caused Natalie to freeze up when it came to wardrobe variety a couple of months ago, but I love her, and we'll both remember the blessing of patience and undershirts.]]>
(Click on the first photo to see the full versions of these thumbnails.)
Emily helped string all the banners, which Sarah sewed.
The kids got to play with "fireworks" -- wands of sparkles and painted cardboard.
Julie and George enjoyed the party from their loveseat in the garden.
Natalie and Hattie played the pockets game -- they had to guess the items in each pocket.
Bilbo's ring was not among the items in these pockets...
Some of the guests took a crack at deciphering the dwarvish script.
The flowers brightened up the whole party -- thanks, Anna!
Jen came as a dwarf, complete with mithril accents.
Ryan reprised his award-winning Strider costume for the event.
Matt & Anna, Bret, and Ryan played a couple sets of wondeful music, including the "Fellowship of the Ring" hobbit theme!
Matt & Anna make a lovely duet.
In keeping with hobbit tradition, each guest received a gift from the birthday girl.
Among the libations were some of Jon's well crafted home brew.
The Medlock family enjoyed the live music and assorted appetizers.
Sarah is a delightful hobbit!
Wyatt made a guest appearance -- thanks for coming, Uncle Woot!
The kids enjoyed playing on the cushions in their own corner.
The lovely Miller family, costume, prop, and decoration outfitters extraordinaire.
Also in hobbit tradition, the birthday girl gave a speech before dinner was served.
The littlest hobbits seemed to enjoy themselves muchly.
Seth donned a special costume -- a monkey blanket -- when the fog started rollling in.
Here are some recent photos of the girls to show just how big they've gotten. Natalie is almost 4 1/2, and Naoim is almost 2 years old.
Natalie shows off her muddy hands after making mud pies and chocolate mud ice cream in the back yard.
Naomi is as enthusiastic as ever about climbing anything and everything.
Lovely, silly girls.]]>
A new family photo, taken during a favorite Fall tradition: the hayride at Avila Valley Barn.
That's our girl... Naomi sure loves to climb. Everything. Fortunately, she's good at it. Unfortunately, she's good at it.
At the Charles Schulz museum in Santa Rosa.
There is a tremendous backlog of photos that just yesterday made it from my camera onto the computer. Who knows when I'll be able to sort through photos from the past two-plus months, but I just might have some spare time in the next few weeks.
By way of a short update, all my creative energy for the past three months has been poured into coordinating a wedding for a very dear friend. Oct. 9 was the big day, and I'm happy to say it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience -- from the behind-the-scenes coordination and crafts to the moment when the bride walked down the aisle to her groom, and even the tear-down and cleanup went smoothly (in an exhausting way).
Many, many loving helping hands from my church helped bring the plans to fruition, and we all came away from the experience feeling that this is the way it should be. It was truly a community effort, and I was blessed by so many friends' talents and their willingness to make the wedding celebration happen...
I hope to share more along the way through photos of the decorations and craft projects I snuck in during the coordination process. Sometimes I felt like I had to literally sneak into my craft room because it was about three months ago that Naomi started walking. And climbing. Everything. And if she wasn't climbing onto one of the craft tables, she was emptying drawers I wasn't prepared for her to reach. Or knocking something onto herself.
So we've spent a lot of time outside and at parks. This little climber is amazing to watch, especially because she has such sweet expressions on her face as she's determinedly taking every Post-it off the tablet or upending a jar of pencils...
It's been quite a first year with our Naomi. Shortly after she was born, our midwife pronounced that the 9lb 5oz newborn was quite "rugged." Her size, her presence, and her volume in those first moments of life indeed have revealed a rugged spirit in Naomi.
"Gusto" also comes to mind -- every accomplishment, milestone, injury, and sickness has been done, met, survived, and weathered with gusto. On the eve of her birthday, true to form, Naomi split her lip in the bath, an injury that led to a gory scene, more gray hairs for me and Bret, and a 1-year-old who's little worse for the wear.
We celebrated her birthday today at our favorite family place, Tolo Cellars, a quaint and comfy winery in Paso Robles. It was a lovely summer scene made complete with family and dear friends, a picnic, strawberry cheesecake, our favorite wine, and a birthday girl who, surprisingly, did not put her face in the cake (she did, however, touch the burning candle, which left red wax on her finger).
The girls have been so cute together...
Natalie is allowed to jump on our bed only with Mommy or Daddy in the room. This time, I had the camera...
Naomi has been climbing into this chair all by herself.]]>