The most exciting Christmas storage box we open each year is the one that contains the girls Christmas bedding. It is such a simple thing to do and I have a feeling as the girls grow up it will be one of their favorite Christmas memories ... sleeping in their "santa sheets". This year when we were at the tree lot getting our tree the girls found this cute little one and begged to put it in their bedroom. Elle promised she would make sure it had plenty of water each day. It looks so cute in their room. We just put simple white lights on it and at night their room looked so magical. I don't want them to grow up.
I put this wreath together for our door this Christmas. I had purchased a fresh bay leaf wreath which was incredibly beautiful but it dried out much more quickly than they ever have before for me. It went bright orange which didn't look quite right for Christmas. I then saw the boxwood wreaths at Trader Joes and was so happy. I just tied everything together with string and then added the red satin ribbon and my favorite Santa and it looked pretty cute.
I took almost this exact picture of Lily last Christmas on our front porch. It's incredible how fast she is growing up. Wishing I could slow it down somehow.
Santa Claus found the McGee girls once again. I came downstairs and took this picture just before the girls got to see their treasures. The girls each got the dolls they wanted so much. Elle's is the snorkeling girl. Gwen's is the ballerina doll and Lily wanted the princess dolly. They also each received a scooter. For weeks Lily had been asking for an orange scooter. Gwen wanted hot pink and Elle didn't ask for a scooter but since her favorite color is navy blue, Santa brought her a navy blue scooter. All the gifts were fun but I'd have to say that the gifts they loved the most were their little art boxes. Santa put together a box for each of them full of crayons, scissors, markers. stickers, paper, glue sticks etc. Even my little Lily received her own box. She's so proud. This is one of my favorite pictures of the morning:
...the girls first realization that Santa really did make it to our home. Each of them are looking directly where their gifts were. No guessing or names on anything was needed. They each knew right where to run. As much fun as they had, I must admit, it's waaaay more fun being the parent.
Wishing I still had 12 days left until Christmas. The reality is there is just ONE more day. I LOVE having small traditions that we do each year. It makes for such a magical time of year with little kids. Our Countdown advent calendar has been a favorite of the girls over the past few years. The girls take turns each day as to who turns over the little card. They get soo excited when it's their turn. I also found these cute little vintage Santa mugs . They're tiny and the girls have LOVED using them for everything from hot chocolate just to drinks of water during the day. I'm on the hunt for a vintage Santa cookie jar as well. I've seen lots of reproductions in stores but nothing that I've loved. And don't think we didn't hit the mall for our annual picture with Santa. I've done this every single year since Elle was born and have framed them. It's my very favorite thing to pull out of our Christmas boxes each year. I've even got one of me when I was a little girl. They're covered in little fingerprints because the girls constantly are taking them off and looking at them. I can't wait to add lots more as well. I once heard a man I admire say, "happy childhood memories = healthy adults." I think of that often. My hope is that we are creating happy memories for our girls as they grow up.
To say we love celebrating Christmas at our house would be an understatement. I started decorating our house the day after Thanksgiving. We also have a strict rule that only Christmas music can be played (including in the car) and all TV shows and movies have to be Christmas. The kids laugh and it's actually really fun. The problem is that I've been sooo busy that I haven't had time to post any pictures. The days just FLY by for me at this stage of my life. This past week I also had a bunch of girlfriends over here for a party. You can see my Jonnie in the background making his famous crepes. No one makes them as well as he does. It was a blast and my girls LOVED all the preparations. I'm in shock (and denial) that Christmas is just 4 days away! I'm wishing desperately that I could make the clock stop. Here's to a few more sleepless nights.
My Gwenners turned 6! Hard to believe. When she left for school she said, "mom!! am I going to have the big surprises on the kitchen table when I get home from school like last year?!" I assured her it would be just as amazing. The sweetest thing is that last year what was sooo amazing to her was just a few little gifts on our kitchen table.
Well, this year I made it just as "Amazing" as last year. A grocery store cake, 3 pink balloons, our birthday banner and the big gifts were Lalaloopsy chapstick and bath soap. I also wrapped 3 packs of PINK gum. She walked in the door and started screaming. She kept saying, "this is the best birthday ever." She couldn't even wait for Elle or Jon to get home to light the candles. Lily and I sang happy birthday to her and she blew out her candles.
It was perfect. Man, I love this little girl. She is HILARIOUS and Feisty and Sweet all wrapped into the cutest little person ever.
We had a happy thanksgiving. I never took my camera out but it was a very happy day. I've been trying so hard lately to just focus on the most important things in life. The things that really matter. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day stresses of life and to completely miss the "big picture". I have felt that I really needed to reassess lately. I've been doing just that and I can't even express how it has changed my whole heart as of late. I have much to be thankful for.
Every year around Halloween we head to the pumpkin patch. We've gone to the same one since Elle was a baby. Its a really fun one with rides for the kids, a petting zoo and lots and lots of pumpkins to choose from. Each one of the girls chose their own pumpkin to take home with us. Lily's favorite ride was on the swings and she was completely enamored by the baby pigs. Elle and Gwen loved a ride much like the tea cups. We even came home with a picture of Jon and I together (a rare event!) thanks to an impromptu shot by Elle.
The girls decided they wanted to be Pirates this year for Halloween. We had gone into a Halloween store and they begged for the pirate costume. I told them they could be pirates but that we could put together a much cuter pirate costume than the one in the plastic packaging. The clip on hoop earings were my favorite part.
I think we succeeded!
We were trying to remember what the girls were each year for Halloween. I linked all of the Halloween photos that I had on this blog. It was so much fun to look back at old photos. They're growing up waaaaaay too fast.
My sweet little Lily was sitting on this little chair just watching me while I was on the computer this morning. She's so cute with her messy bed-hair and nightie. My camera was on the desk next to me and I just snapped these little candids of her. Gosh, I adore her. She's my angel. If she's sad and feels I'm not giving her the attention she needs because I'm dealing with the other girls she cries and says, "mama. love ME".
It's her way of saying,"Mom. stop what you're doing, I need some love and attention". How could I not respond to that? It stops me in my tracks every time. I feel torn with 3 little ones constantly needing me and all I can do is pray that I'm giving each of them what they need.
Lily - when you read this someday...I hope you'll know that you have ALWAYS been sooo loved.
Preschool for Lily, Kindergarten for Gwen and 3rd Grade for Elle.
All 3 of them are loving their teachers and are happy. That's all you really want as a mom....your kids to be happy.
Elle wanted me to walk her to class and would have let me sit right at her desk with her for the day if her teacher allowed it. She's always been like that. A total mama's girl.
Gwen on the other hand let me come the first day for a parent meeting but on the second day when most of the moms walked their kids into the classroom, Gwen said, "mom. you can just pull up and drop me off. I'm good". I told her I wanted to walk in with her and she again gave me a sympathetic look and said, "really mama, just drop me off." She was beyond ready for this day and is so excited to FINALLY be in Kindergarten.
My Lily-pie was super excited too. I think her favorite part is having her own lunchbox. She feels so grown-up. She was happy when I left her and she said, "mama come back?" I said, "yes, mama will always come back." She went straight for the legos and waved good-bye. then when I came to pick her up she was standing right next to her teacher. I called her name and she started to look around for me. The minute we made eye contact she started to cry and ran to me. It was my first time leaving her in a school setting and I think she was just a little worried. The minute she got in my arms she said, "mama came back!"
For YEARS I have wanted to do wood paneling sprayed white behind my sofa in our family room. I have more formal wainscoting in other parts of our home and in here I want to do a more casual look with wide-plank horizontal paneling floor to ceiling. That's not in our budget right now but in my mind that's what is "supposed" to be behind our sofa.
Well, on a whim a few weeks back I decided that if I couldn't have my white wood paneling that didn't have to stop us from lightening it up a bit in there. I had extra white paint from other projects and I asked (begged) Jon to paint it for me. I know Jonnie really loves me because he HATES painting but at 6pm that night he moved all of our furniture and went to town. It was a rash decision on my part but unlike the result of most decisions like that, I am loving it. It's just a softer prettier look to me. Jon's happy too because it has silenced me for a bit about the wood paneling. A win-win!!
My Elle turned 8 years old. Hard to believe. Turning 8 is a big deal in our family because that means you get to be baptized. Elle's baptism is next Saturday. She is beyond excited and ready. I took her out tonight, just the 2 of us, to take some pictures to remember this special birthday. The sunlight on the hill was so beautiful. We had so much fun together. I absolutely adore this little girl. I often tell her that she is "my dream/wish that came to life". That always puts a smile on her face (and it's true!) It is so amazing to watch her grow-up right before my eyes. The picture with her walking up the dirt path makes me tear up. I just look at my sweet girl and that picture just makes me think of all of the LIFE she has ahead of her. As her mom, I want only the best and sweetest things in life for her. She is such a beautiful person inside and out. I am one lucky mama to get to call this one, mine.
I switched up our downstairs powder room a bit. I found the venetian glass mirror almost a year ago at a store that was going out of business. I've always thought venetian glass is so pretty and feminine. The little rug was one I found at Lowe's of all places. My very favorite item is the little antique table. I love antiques and love that they're usually one of a kind pieces. That space has been empty for years because I have never been able to find anything I like to put there. I saw this little table for almost nothing at one of my favorite antique/thrift stores. It's perfect and I love all of the carvings on it. My dream would be to wallpaper this little powder room but that will have to wait. For now, it's just perfect.
My lily is the sweetest little person on this earth. I am convinced of this fact.
When I tell her I love her she always replies, "thank you". I don't know why but it makes me laugh every time.
She thinks her name is "pie-pie"...just ask her.
Her very favorite movie is Strawberry Shortcake. It is on repeat in our car.
When I rock her to sleep at night she always says, "baby song". That means she wants me to sing her the lullaby, 'hush little baby...' The minute I finish she says, "baby song" and I sing it again. It's the cutest.
Her favorite food is Ketchup. Just ketchup. Carrots and ketchup, lettuce and ketchup, eggs and ketchup. She'll eat anything with ketchup.
She insists on dressing herself these days and still dislikes wearing a bow in her hair but LOVES lipgloss.
I get 3 hours every day with just the two of us. She's my buddy and it's the best.
Summertime is coming! We kicked off Memorial day weekend and went camping with friends. It was a blast. Here's Gwen cruising the campground like she owns the place. I have more pictures but am off to Lily's swimming lessons.
I know this is a novel here but on Mother's Day, I kept thinking about how far I've come in the last (almost) 8 years as a mom. I'm just at the very beginning of this journey but still can't believe how much I've learned so far. When I was little, I dreamed of someday being a mom. I know I've written this before but it's true. That was what I would dream about. I didn't get pregnant with my sweet Ellers until I was 29. So by the time I had her, I was really ready and really excited. And let me just say, it was waaaaaaaay harder than I ever anticipated. Elle was an extremely difficult baby. For months I wondered why in the world people talked about how "wonderful" the infant stage was. I was losing my mind. She screamed for 5 months solid, day and night. I am not exaggerating. Right up until having her I was teaching school full time and also going to school at night to finish my Masters Degree. I went straight from that craziness into being home all day, alone with a baby. Now combine that with postpartum depression which I didn't even realize I had until after the fact, and you get the picture. When Jon would come home from work I would also be crying and I would just hand her to him. All I can remember him saying was, "I thought you were going to like this". Time passed and Elle got thru that phase and ended up being a very easy baby from 6 months on. I wasn't supplying enough milk for her which was what the doctors finally thought this issue was but that's not the point here. It was what Jon said to me that one night that I have never forgotten - "I thought you were going to like this....". There are lots of parts of motherhood that just aren't fun. What is amazing though about this job is that even on my worst days when it's so hard and I don't "like" it, I still have a sense of the magnitude of what I am doing. I have been entrusted with these little girls. That responsibility weighs heavy on me but at the same time gives me purpose and meaning even beyond the most seemingly menial parts of my day. There is a sense of fulfillment in being a mom for me and in trying my very best to be a good mother to my girls.
I now have 3 little girls that call me mama and it is still so humbling. At this stage in their lives I am their "everything" quite literally. It's exhausting for sure, but oh so rewarding. This picture above is one that Gwen took using my phone recently of me dancing with Lily one morning in our jammies. My Lily-pie was having a rough moment for whatever reason and I just put some music on and held her tight. She calmed right down. I have done this with all of my girls. It's these moments that are almost never captured that to me, define motherhood. I want so desperately for my girls to know how deeply I love them. I want them to know that even though I'm not perfect, and even though I have lots of days that I fall short, I really am trying my very best. They're so little right now and I can't believe that a lot of what I do with them they will never remember.
I want them to remember how when we're driving and if no one's around I will drive "crazy' just to make them laugh even though it makes me CRAZY carsick. I want them to remember how I put my hand back to each of them as I drive and squeeze it really tightly. I've told them that each squeeze means, "I love you". Now all I do is put my hand back and give them a squeeze and they say, "I love you too mama". It's so cute. I want Elle to remember that I love lying in her bed every single night before she goes to sleep and scratching her back. Actually, I don't like the scratching part but I do it because that's when she opens up the most to me about things in her life and her feelings. I want Gwen to know that I think it's so cute how she likes to show me how tall she is getting and that she can "get a glass from the cupboard without tippy toes" and that I love it when she crawls on to me like a little cat to watch her cartoons. I want Lily to know that I love her kisses. She will walk right up to me and say, "double". I bend down and she gives me double (2) kisses right smack on my lips. I melt every time. I love how when I brush the snarls out of their hair they hug me tight around my waist so that it won't hurt as bad. I hope they know how much I love how their faces light up every single day when they see me in the pick-up line for school or walking into the preschool. I love that when they lay just 2 inches away from me, I always say, "you're too far away" and make them scoot closer. They always roll their eyes but do it anyway. I love that they think I'm an AMAZING cook even though I'm not. I want them to know that when they help me cook and clean it takes 5x's as long and usually ends up worse than when we started, but I do it because I love to see how sweet their little proud faces are when we're done. I love the little notes Elle leaves me around the house and the pictures Gwen draws of me in preschool. I love that whenever they do something they think is great, they can't wait to show me and I always try my best to make it a big deal. I love sneaking into their beds at night to give them kisses while they sleep. I love all of these little things and I feel panicked as to how fast they are growing up. As a mother, I've come a long way from those days when Elle was an infant and I can honestly say that I do "like this" thing called motherhood. Actually, I love it and that's the truth. More than anything, I just hope that my girls know that their mom loves them. I am constantly telling them but what I hope most, is that my actions are letting them FEEL how much those words that I whisper in their ears, are true. I Really, really loved, love and will continue to love them....Forever.
Every morning after we get Elle off to school, Gwen looks at Lily and says, "hey, you want to play babies?" Lily ALWAYS says yes and the two run off.
They literally do this 7 days a week. On the weekend Elle happily joins the "mommy party". They do not mess around. Aprons are a must. We have a few sets and they love them. The girls are WORKING very hard out there. Cooking food, making bottles, getting fussy babies to sleep. It goes on for hours. They have little rocking chairs set out, cribs, highchairs, toddler beds for the older dolls. It's quite the production. I think it is the sweetest thing ever. Gwen's preschool doesn't start until 11:30 so my little lily still has a friend to play with all morning.
Those little dolls of theirs are the luckiest babies in the world to have such cute mommies.