Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thankful Thursday - Random Thanks!

Today is an absolutely gorgeous Florida "winter" day... Sun is shining, slight breeze in the air, and it's actually on the chilly side. Did I just say chilly? Hmm, it's 68 degrees ... do you think my blood has thinned out? :)

I decided today that I was long overdue for a thankful post. Easier to blog right now since both kids are napping... And yes, you read that right. I guess our morning activities wore them out! I'm worn out too.... After all, we had playtime at the house, story and music time at the library, Chic-Fil-A lunch/play, and Levi's physical therapy appointment. Phew!

So before my "quiet time" runs out... Here are some things I'm thankful for today!

1. Pure Barre - I am soooooo thankful to have found a workout I enjoy. I have NEVER looked forward to exercising before..... Ever. It is such a wonderful outlet for me and I feel super lucky to have found the importance of "me time."

2. Levi's physical therapy - Although most days I dread going to his actual appointments, I'm happy to see that progress is being made. Slow but steady... He is doing just awesome!

3. Children's Ministry at church - I recently was asked to join the Children's Ministry Team at church and am really excited about joining this group of ladies. I'm brainstorming ways for the preschool aged children to come together outside of church and Sunday school. I'm thinking its never to early to teach these children about helping others, the needs of other people, and acts of kindness. I'm hoping we can organize something where young children can make a difference, no matter how small.

4. Super Bowl - Looking forward to some fun this Sunday! :)

5. Family bike rides - As I already mentioned, the weather here has been perfect lately. Abby is now riding her bike like an old pro so it's been really nice taking family bike rides together.

6. Decisions made - We know where we will be living this baseball season and have enrolled the kids in a school for three days a week. It feels good knowing that I will be able to catch a break this season!!!!

7. Abby's desire to learn - It sure makes it easy to work on numbers, letters, writing..... And she is really doing a great job!

8. Girl time - Nails, pedis, lunch dates, and shopping. Love my girlfriends :)

9. Pinterest - I've had so much fun finding new recipes to try. I think it's safe to say I've done way more cooking than usual this offseason. I love that I have the time to do it now because during the season I can't get nearly as creative.

10. Dark chocolate covered raisins. Yum!

Hope y'all have a Thankful Thursday! I'll post some pics SOON!!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A special day for Little Man

The hubs and I had planned on having Levi baptized this offseason, we just didn't realize it would be right in the middle of the holiday season.  With the way timing works, it's not always perfect but it turned out to be just as special.  Being just a few weeks before Christmas, family was unable to come into town, but their kind words and cards were plenty.  :)

We were so pleased that Pastor Steve and Pastor Catherine were able to baptize Levi and have the support from our same loving church family as when Abby was baptized.  It was a very special moment to share with everyone as we prayed over our sweet boy.  

The Branca crew came to church that day and thanks to Miss Sue we were able to capture some great photos of the baptism.  Thank you for sharing our special day with us! :)

"And He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them."
(Mark 10:16)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Traveling with dos kiddos ....

Well ... we survived traveling up north with two kiddos.  I didn't doubt we would, kind of seasoned experts at this by now.  :)  This past weekend was Orioles Fan Fest so we took advantage of being close to family and went up for the whole week.  My parents hadn't seen Little Man since mid September so it was exciting for them to see all his new milestones ... crawling, climbing, taking steps along the furniture, and getting braver by the day.  It was perfect timing for me too since a bit of homesickness had kicked in the week earlier.  Just a few days before traveling I said to the hubs, "I just feel like I need a big hug from my Dad."  He just shook his head, didn't quite understand.  I just smiled and said "Abby will make you understand one day."  And I know she will ... that girl loves her Daddy!

Levi looked like this pretty much the whole time we were there.  Messy, red cheeks, and leaving a trail of his drool wherever he went.  Ahhh, the signs of good ol' teething... but at least he was happy for much of our stay.  While we were there one of his top teeth poked through and now we are awaiting the second top tooth.  Shouldn't be long, I hope!

The kids had a lot of fun at Gramma and Grandad's house.  We acted silly, played with new toys, Abby enjoyed the hammock despite the cold, and Levi loved the rocking chair.  My mom is recovering from a shoulder injury and I think having the kids around was just what she needed.  Abby helped her with her stretches by playing Patty Cake and Miss Mary Mack.  

We were also able to celebrate my Uncle Donnie's birthday while we were there.  Dinner was yummy, wine was tasty, and the kids had such a blast playing with each other.  Can't you tell?! So much fun!

On Friday evening, Jim and I attended an Orioles event ... a premiere of "The Buckle Up Birds" and some casino fun.  It was like a bunch of little kids (the team) were finally back together after a summer away from school.  Even though I'm not quite ready for the baseball season to begin, I'm looking forward to this "family" being reunited again.  It will be exciting to see what's in store for this year! :)

It's always nice traveling back home and even with the chaos of traveling with two kiddos, it's always worth it. :)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Enjoying the cold :)

Despite the cold weather, Abby has been swingin' on Gramma's hammock nonstop.

And this little guy just watches through the door. :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How fast things change.

Dear Levi,

It was just a few weeks ago that I sat here writing you a letter for your eighth month birthday.  Since I was a few weeks behind wishing you a happy eight months, I thought I'd just skip your nine month letter.  Afterall, how fast can things really change in just two weeks?  The answer: real fast.

So here I sit ... at it again, this time wishing you a happy nine months!  You are one happy baby, laid back most of the time, but quite clingy when you want to be.  Your dimples, your smiles, and your belly laughs light up the room.  You are such a joy to be around.

In such a short amount of time, you have completely mastered waving.  Whenever you hear "wave", "hi", or "byebye" you immediately start waving with a smile on your face.  Daddy and I even caught you on the monitor waving before you drifted off to sleep the other night.  You play "peekaboo" by covering your eyes with your hand and love "How bigs the baby ... SO BIG!!"

It's hard to keep up with you these days .. you're crawling around and pulling up on everything.  Like a typical baby, you are getting into whatever you can and it's like you know the things you shouldn't play with.  It certainly makes life real interesting these days!  Just like your big sister, you are very brave.  Cruising along the furniture satisfies you now, but it won't be long before you attempt taking your first steps.  Scary for Mommy? Yes.  Too fast for Mommy? Yes.  Things just change too fast.

We've recently started giving you more table food to try.  You've always been on and off with baby food, but lately you are wanting more of what we eat.  Favorites are bananas, waffles, pancakes, macaroni, green beans, cereal bars, and crackers.  Even though it's similar to a clap right now, you are signing "more" and sometimes "all done."

From here on out you will change so much.  Daddy and I love this age and look forward to watching you grow, learn, and take on the world.  Whether we like it or not, things are going to change.  They are going to change fast.  So we'll smile, laugh, make new memories, fasten our seatbelts, and enjoy the ride. :)


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Levi meets some friends.

Levi meets Big Bird ...

... Elmo too ...

... and surprisingly, he loved every minute of it! :)


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WORDY Wednesday - Celebrating the season :)

You've all heard the saying before.  The saying that describes Christmas perfectly ... "It's the happiest time of the year."  And I'm happy to say that this Christmas season didn't disappoint and it truly was a happy time for our family.  Although as happy as we may have been, I couldn't help but think about the families out there that weren't having the happiest season of all.  The Sandy Hook Elementary families, the family from church who lost a very special woman to breast cancer at the young age of 33, and the family that is grieving over a loss to suicide (one of Jim's old teammates).  It's hard to imagine that at such a special time of the year, there are families struggling with loss, finding peace, and the strength to move on.  I pray that these families will find comfort in the Lord in the upcoming months.

This Christmas season was very exciting because Abby is starting to get it.  Of course she is still asking tons of questions, but this year we could see the anticipation in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice.  We read books about Santa, sent Abby's first letter to the North Pole, and visited the jolly fellow himself.  Abby was excited for Santa to come, but was quite worried he would be too loud on the roof and she wanted to make sure he would take his boots off before coming down the chimney.  :)

Of course Santa is cool and all, but my favorite part was teaching Abby about the story about the King, about Jesus, the true reason behind Christmas.  We read books, read parts of the bible, and sang Christmas Carols about what happened on that special night.  Abby can tell you all about that night.  Who was there.  How it happened.  What the angel told Mary.  How Mary and Joseph got to Bethlehem.  Why baby Jesus was born in a stable.  Can you tell I'm one proud Mama?  If she can remember any story about Christmas, I want her to remember this one ... the most special story of all.

Nana and PopPop were the first ones to visit us this year.  We spent time baking cookies and a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Eve.  Levi also wanted to help and made quite a mess on the floor with all his cooking toys!  Abby made her own nativity scene with little help and created tons of Christmas artwork and crafts.

Every year we visit Grace Baptist Church to enjoy their light display.  It's absolutely beautiful and always fun for the family to experience together.  Abby had fun dancing to the music with Isla and Levi was just happy to take everything in!

I was super excited to dress the kids alike for the Christmas Eve church service.  Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any good photos of them because Abby is into making funny camera faces these days.  Then you ask her to hug her brother for a picture and it turns out to be more like a choke hold.  Doesn't make for a good photo, let me tell you.  But ... I can promise they looked adorable ... Levi had on a tie that matched Abby's skirt.  Super CUTE!  After church we headed home to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus, sprinkle reindeer food on the ground so Santa could find our home, and snuggle into bed to eagerly await Christmas morning.

Abby woke early, shrieking "Presents everybody, presents everybody" and was ready to get Christmas underway.  Santa brought her a bike with training wheels, a Doc McStuffins doctors kit, a doctors coat, along with many other things.  Levi opened his very first gift and just like it usually goes, he liked the paper and boxes more than the toys. :)  Cookie the Elf left his goodbye letter in the basket of Abby's bike and disappeared until next year ... Christmas was already going by way. too. fast.

After brunch we headed up to spend the afternoon with our Florida family.  We are so blessed to have them in our lives and always have such a good time with them.  Thanks for adopting us Sue, Mike, Danny, Stephen, and Nick! Gracie too :)  Great times ... great memories!

Then the fun kept coming .... my sister, her hubby, and the kids came to visit!  It was so wonderful having them here and sharing this special time with us.  We went to Busch Gardens, took Abby for her very first manicure (and of course the ladies all got them too), relaxed at the house, and had a dinner/movie night without the little ones.  It was a fabulous time ... and Em, you are a trooper when it comes to Abby.  Even when you may have wanted time to yourself, you played with Abby and did whatever she wanted.  You are an awesome cousin! She loves you and Jus so much :)

A holiday spent with the ones you love means so much.  Even though family was here, I still missed my parents a TON.  This was the very first holiday season that we were unable to share together.  Not easy, but easier knowing I'll be able to give them giant hugs in just two weeks! 

It's true ... It's the happiest season of all.  Abby must have picked up on that this year since she asked this morning, "Daddy, is Christmas over?"  Yes Abby, Christmas may be over until next year, but it is always in our hearts.