Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stolldorf Cousins!

My attempt at a cousinly photo...obviously the lighting wasn't great, but we took what we got. Melia is being the perfect little angel, Isaac is cheesing, and Claire is just being her goofball self.
Isn't she adorable?!

I always remember having so much fun going through the toys at my grandparents' houses; I guess it was the mystique of playing with my parents' childhood toys. It's fun to watch my kids enjoy a few of the things we played with growing up!
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family photos

We tried to get a few family photos done one morning ("tried" being operative). We did get a few! Here are my 3 favorite people in the world...
aren't they cute?
this was my favorite family photo failure: in response to, "Isaac, look at the camera!" :) Gotta love it!
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Yet more Thanksgiving...

the kids got some much needed R&R on the back porch while we prepared delicious victuals for their gastrointestinal enjoyment
Mamie (Claudia's mom) gets a few smiles out of Baby Evan
the kids are ready to dig in to some goodness

so is Vance, as a matter of fact!
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More Thanksgiving...

awww, cousins....aren't they the cutest?
Cousin Seth, enjoying the shared childhood passion: the Oliver tractor
out joyriding with Papa
all the Whitaker cousins!
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Home for Thanksgiving

We got to spend Thanksgiving in NC, and we had a rockin good time! We got lots of cute pictures with all the photo ops available....

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It's Beginning to Look a Lot Lke.....


Well, it doesn't feel like Christmas yet, but at least we're enjoying what FL has to offer :)

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Milk Bubbles

almost enough to make you wish you were a kid again, isn't it?

Even Claire's catching on...
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Thursday, November 05, 2009

HIllsborough County Fair

Tonight we made it to the Hillsborough County Fair. We had no idea what to expect, but it was Can Day, so we got in free. It felt like a county fair in it's infancy: a dozen rides, a small midway, a few livestock tents, but not much buzz going on. It worked out just fine for us, though, because the sparse crowd made it easy to keep track of the kids.

Almost immediately after I told Isaac that we were going to the fair, he asked if he could ride on the merry-go-round. Apparently that was his overriding memory from the MN State Fair last year: riding the carousel with Caleb. He got his wish, and he was trembling with excitement and adrenaline. He was too worked up to even smile the first time. But as soon as he got off, he was shouting the praises of his beloved ride.
Vance initiated Isaac in that most important of excitements: his first roller coaster ride. (You can see his little hand waving between the antennae). He was less nervous about the (little) roller coaster than he was the merry-go-round.
Claire was too short to ride, but she had fun watching! This was one of the rare smiles, though...most of the time she had a look of complete and fixed concentration on her face. No smiles, no expressions, just focus. While we were in the livestock tent, Isaac was ecstatically petting a cooperative cow, and I asked Claire if she wanted to pet it too. "Nope," was her emphatic response. No question there. She was NOT getting out of her stroller to touch any of the foreign objects surrounding her. It makes me realize how different Isaac and Claire are. At this age, you couldn't have kept Isaac in the stroller for love or money.
Lucky for the little guy, we had enough tickets for one last carousel ride! What a night!
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Autumn Festival

On Saturday we went to a nearby Autumn Festival with our friends the Huttons. We almost didn't make it, since we were hurrying up on putting an offer on the house, but we managed to throw together a couple of quick costumes and make it in time for most of the fun. Claire, as most people were able to recognize (amazingly!) was our little movie star.
Isaac started out as a fireman, but switched over to being a pirate after he got a facepaint mustache and goatee and balloon sword. Such is the fickleness of man. :)
Claire had such a great time! She's more of a scaredy cat than Isaac, and she was happy to sit in her stroller sucking on a lollipop for about half the time. She screamed when I tried to get her to play the fishing game! But oddly enough, she was an angel with the facepainting, and it was her willingness to do it that got Isaac in the chair afterwards. That little competitive edge can come in handy, sometimes :).
They had some great moon bounces, even some for laser tags and zip lines...pretty fun for older kids. Isaac mostly jumped in the more tame moon bounces, but he did really enjoy the big slides. It was fun to go with friends, and the kids got more than their required amount of candy for the season. We had a great time!
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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Just Kidding: it IS our house (we think)!

The housing saga continues, but is hopefully nearing its' end. On Saturday, I was blown away to see that the first house we had offered on (and had been accepted, then dropped), went back on the market. We offered again, and this time they signed the contract and got back to us before the deadline. The inspection is tomorrow, and the appraisal is on Thursday, so Lord willing and the creek don't rise, we're on our way to home ownership!

It's one of those things where hindsight really enables you to see God's wisdom. We were excited about the house in the first place, and I remember saying to Vance, "I'm not worried about it falling through. I feel like this is our house." That made it more disappointing when the sellers jilted us. But not getting what we wanted (and thought we were on our way to having) did force us to check our hearts a little more, and be reminded that God's goodness isn't dependent on whether or not we get our preferred housing arrangement. More than ever, we are reminded that we aren't entitled to this house (or any other), but that it is just a gift. (And you experienced homeowners are now saying, Just wait till you see that first expensive repair bill! :)

Vance prayed that if we were supposed to have that house, that the other offer would fall through. I never thought it would, but it did. And the second time around, we're even more grateful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today my sweet mother would have been 50 years old. I'm sure, if she had ever attained such advanced age, no one would have ever believed she was that old. People look at my wedding pictures and ask where my mother is--and then say they thought Mom was my sister. Hopefully she passed on some of those good genes...

I know that time is supposed to heal all wounds, but I can't imagine that I will ever miss her less. I know it was a privelige to live in her home and be called her daughter, and I'm grateful for all the happy memories I have of her. One day, Lord willing, we'll make more together.

For now, I just roll over and over in my mind the little conversations and pictures I have in my mind. Like hearing the sound of her heels in the kitchen after church when I was little, and wanting so much to be beautiful and elegant and grown up, just like her. Seeing her come into the kitchen and reach into the cabinet for her favorite snack--a spoonful of peanut butter with chocolate chips on top (try it!). Coming home from school and seeing her talking with Tinea and Penelope every Tuesday. Watching her in the kitchen--always in the kitchen--making whatever her guests liked best. She kept a list of everyone's favorites and dislikes on the back of the address cards of her friends (No onions, etc. :). Seeing her little doodles of grapes and curlicues when she'd been in another long phone conversation with someone who needed counsel. Coming downstairs on Valentine's Day to a plate of cookies, just for me. Seeing her standing on the step to kiss Dad. Painting the dining room with her, watching her agonize over paint colors, and laughing at her thwarted perfectionist tendencies as she struggled to cut in such a dark red. Admiring her when she succeeded :). Hearing her laugh until the tears came when all her family was in town for the holidays. Standing next to her as we prayed for friends. Seeing her Bible, covered with notes. Changing sheets for back-to-back guests. Never complaining. Always serving above and beyond. Always giving wise counsel based on Scripture, not just her opinion.

If God grants me another 19 years, I hope I may be a little more like her; as faithful a friend, as constant in prayer, as loving a wife and mother. And I pray that her granddaughters, who will not know her this side of heaven, will grow to be like her just the same. I can't wait to see you again, Mom.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Isaac's Honey Hole

Like Papa, like father, like son...
Isaac caught 4 good-sized brim all by himself last Saturday! (well, Daddy did help him cast, but that was it).
Claire was too skittish to touch the fish, but she wasn't afraid of the worms (like mama, like daughter :)
We're loving the cooler weather, and having Daddy back from out of town!
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