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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Nemo Birthday Party for Buddy Bear

Our Buddy Bear is three years old.
This year, he requested Nemo and friends for the birthday party!


The night before, I was frantically taking down Lent decorations to transform the dining room into a Buddy-worthy Nemo party.
Bath toys made a perfect centerpiece.  Bubbles and blue streamers set the stage.


Fishy crackers and swedish fish made perfect table treats!


Then, there was the cake.
Our fabulous local bakery was all booked up with Easter cakes, 
a big oops on my part for not ordering earlier.
So, I had to make Nemo and Bruce the shark for Buddy Bear by myself.


Thanks to a lot of prayer (and several late-night hours of work),
Buddy Bear was thrilled with his cake!
What a huge sigh of relief for this momma.


This time, we planned to play "Pin Nemo and his friends in the Fish Tank!"
The kids did a great job coloring the tank while I got the party lunch together.


GG, Aunties Cindy and Sharon, Uncle Carl and Uncle C, MoMo and Papa all joined us for the party.


         


It was so sweet to watch Buddy Bear open his presents.
He was so excited and grateful for everything.
He graciously let E-Bear and G-Bear help him open his presents.
"Thank you!" he would exclaim after he opened each one.


"Neato!" He exclaimed when he opened the strider bike from MoMo and Papa.


He loved the sherif dress-up costume from Aunty Cindy, 
which is really special because it was once worn by my cousin R!


Nana got Buddy Bear one of his biggest wishes: a Buzz Lightyear doll.
"Oh, Buzz!  I love Buzz!"  Buddy Bear's eyes lit up like Christmas morning.


The baseball T, ball mitt and soccer ball were from T and me.  
He immediately took them to the basement and invited G-Bear and E-Bear to play.
The ninja turtle truck from Aunty Sharon was a hit too.  


After all the party guests had left, I snuggled my little man into his bed for rest time.
"What a special Nemo birthday, Mommy," he said.


It sure was, Buddy Bear, it sure was.
YOU are what made it extra special for me.



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday, Buddy Bear!


Dearest Buddy Bear,

Happy birthday to you, bud.  My, has this been a big year for you.  You are energetically, enthusiastically, unabashedly exploring the world, always ready to make new friends. Your sweet smile lights up my days and your energy always surpasses mine.  There are so many memories from the past year that I love to remember:


May...You call yourself "Gee," which we love. You also start speech with your teachers.  You were frustrated that others can't quite understand all you have to say, and now you are excited to have a teacher visitor every week, just for you.  You really rise to the occasion, and by the end of the summer you have improved leaps and bounds.  You are always begging to "see baby, peeeeese?"  You are our wiggle worm at church, and a big help in the garden.  You love to water the flowers for me!

June... You love balls of all kinds.  You are always begging me to bring the basketball hoop outside to the backyard so you can shoot hoops.  You have a great arm and great enthusiasm for all things sport!  We get to do swimming lessons together, and you are a champ in the water even though it is so cold outside.  You pass your level with flying colors!  We love searching for trucks on our neighborhood walks, because you love the Truck Tunes songs we sing together.

July...Morning breaks with blue paci, exploring Plymouth Plantation and the woods in Massachusetts with your cousins, riding the tractor with Uncle Scott up at GG's cabin and playing with Cousins B,E and P.  You love to run around the fountain with E-Bear and G-Bear at the University quad, it is so tempting to get wet as the weather warms!

August...Walking and talking with Papa at the cabin, riding on Daddy's shoulders on our evening walks, digging in the sand in Hilton Head (never complaining about sand in your suit), saying "Alabama" for the first time.  You creatively offer your dinner bites to the birds on our porch, "Here, birdie, birdie, eat this!"  At the State Fair, you love the rides: there are many tears each time your turn is over!

September...You are speaking so clearly now, everyone notices.  After church, you are off on your own, meeting and greeting others and inviting friends to play chase games, so much so that we sometimes can't find you!  You are a great helper sorting the silverware when we put away the dishes.  You make my day with your sweet sayings, "Oh, mommy, I missed you," or "I wove you soo much," and "You my pecial, pecial mommy."  After getting sick, you become a compassionate brother when others are sick, telling me, "Mommy, G-Bear needs med-cine."

October...Playing knights with E-Bear, who you love to tackle.  You LOVE a good knock-knock joke, and you are happy to share your favorite, the one about an interrupting cow--MOO!  You are Woody for Halloween.  For months to come your favorite greeting will be, "Happy Halloween!"

November...You love stories of any kind, especially Bible Stories and Disney stories.  I love to snuggle up and read with you, pal.  You are so sweet and gentle to J-Bear.  Somehow you can always contain your energy into soft sweetness when she is around.  We are back in swimming lessons together, and a few times you actually get to try class by yourself with "Teacher Anna!"

December...You are in the big kid room now, in your new big bed. You love to hop in by climbing over the railing head first, but you never hop out on your own.  Thankfully, G-Bear and E-Bear love to help you out in the morning.  You three make quite the team, so much so that it makes you sad to drop E-Bear and G-Bear off at school.  "I like to be a family," you say sadly whenever someone is away.  When we are re-united at the end of the day, we often here you cheer, "Yeah, we are a family again!" Thanks for all your help shoveling the snow so far.  Your pacis are getting chewed and broken, but neither of us are ready for you to give them up (you sleep so well with them at nap time!), so you get a few new ones in your Christmas stocking.

January...You love the story of David and Goliath so much that we make up a new bedtime song, "David and the Giant," to the tune of E-Bear's "Lightning McQueen" bedtime song.  You ask me to sing it every night.  You always have wonderful prayers to offer at bedtime.  You pray that we won't get sick, that God would bless each member of our family, you even pray for E-Bear's Lego Head lego holder on the bookshelf.  You have so much physical energy to let out everyday, too bad you aren't quite old enough for basketball school with E-Bear and G-Bear.  You are so excited to join in that it pains me to keep you on the sidelines.  Your speech teacher is so impressed, she says you are ready to graduate.  Oh, by the way, you now say your full name.  We are so proud of all you have to say, no matter how you say it.

February...Making a new friend at church, Mr. S, who you love to run over and hug. You are suddenly tall enough to turn on the light switch, but that is not all.  You can climb in your own car seat, bus your dishes, help me get J-Bear's diapers and put on snow boots.  Your favorite songs are "Jesus, Take My All" by Rend Collective and "God's Not Dead." I love to listen to you sing these songs at the top of your lungs and roar like a lion during the lyrics of the latter, and you love inviting us to sing along too.  You impress us all by processing with the toy riding horse around the house saying, "I carrying the cross,"  and by blessing your bites at dinner by holding them up over your head.



March...skiing for the first time (between my legs, but even down the big hills!), snow shoeing in the backpack with Dad near the cabin.  We are coloring pictures, playing with play dough and coloring with chalk these wintery days.  You have lots to say to everyone.  Everyone we meet comments on how engaging and friendly you are. You greet J-Bear in her crib with the sweetest words: "Hiiii, J-Bear!"

April...At the beginning of the month you are using the potty, and you are in underpants by your birthday!  Way to go!  The secret was rewarding you with Jake & Neverland Pirates shows at the end of the day if you kept your pants clean.  You love inviting E-Bear and G-bear to join in your reward, and they are always so excited and happy to join you.  Your birthday also brings your first night without your chewed white paci, just by chance, and you are so proud to tell everyone that you did it!  You still love having time with blue paci at nap time, and that is fine with me.  You love visiting friends and inviting friends over. You love the Muppets, Finding Nemo the Musical, Cat Chat and Ninja turtles.


Buddy Bear, you really have grown into a big kid in almost every way.  Your enthusiasm and energy sometimes gets the best of you, but you show such a penitent heart when I have to correct you for doing something wrong.  As Daddy says, you are such a FUN brother for your siblings.  You make friends so easily because you have a way of including and welcoming others.  I love to be silly to you.  I love slowing down to hear all you have to say.  I love to hear you sing to Jesus and talk to him.  I love both your shy and mischievous smiles.  Daddy and I pray that your heart will grow in love of the Lord and all people, and we pray that you will continue to be the shining light of love that you already are.  For now, I am going to treasure your snuggles and your head on my shoulder when I wake you up from nap time to get G-Bear and E-Bear from school.  These little days with you pass are flying by.  Happy birthday, sweet bubby, happy birthday.



Monday, April 21, 2014

Alleluia! Easter 2014





Alleluia!


The kids were up and ready to celebrate at 6:30am!  T and I were up into the wee hours the night before, finishing work and final touches before the Easter celebrations.  Even so, we were just as excited.  When we came downstairs, there were jellybeans and eggs hidden everywhere!  It was so great to watch the kids work together to find all the treats.  "Look, here Buddy Bear," G-Bear would say.  "Here, G-Bear, this one is your favorite color," said E-Bear.  "E-Bear, E-Bear, wook at this," exclaimed Buddy Bear.  It was so early, J-Bear slept right through the hunt! We'll try to make it up to her next year.  

Views from the hunt!
 The dining room was decorated and filled with surprises too.  


Buddy Bear exclaimed, "Thank you, Mommy, for decorating our house!"  T saw my face light up.  My heart melted.  Easter is our penultimate celebration, not because of eggs or candy or decorations, but because of Christ's victory over death. Even so, I know that thoughtful details help set the day apart and build excitement.  After the sacrifices of Lent, I rejoiced to see the kids enjoying the treats and beautiful details.  Over time, T and I hope they will come to embrace the glorious truth and joyful hope of Easter for themselves. 


Our bean basket was so full of jellybeans that it had tipped over!  Jellybeans were everywhere!


There was a set of resurrection finger puppets and special lollypops for they kids (I ordered all of them from Oriental Trading).   The table was set with our best plates and cups for the occasion.  


Each of the kids also received a simple pillar candle at their seat.  We enjoyed using our Stations of the Cross Eggs during Lent to pray Stations of the Cross (Way of the Cross).  I am hoping to use the candles as we pray the Way of Light (Via Lucis) during the Easter season.  Have you heard of this prayer, a complement to the Stations of the Cross?  It is a wonderful way to reflect on the Resurrection and our hope in Jesus, perfect for the Easter season.  Perhaps I'll make some Via Lucis eggs for us to use next year too :)


 We dyed eggs using brown eggs this year (all that I had in the refrigerator).  The colors turned out to be lovely, earthy tones. I also blew out a few egg shells so that we have a few eggs to paint and keep.


The kids each received a special clothing item to wear to Easter morning Mass: a new dress for G-Bear and ties for the boys.  "Oh, mommy, I always wanted that!" said Buddy Bear.


They were so excited to "look like Daddy."  I was soaking up these cute dressed up moments. 



For the next forty days, Lord, may your victory be at the center of our days.
May we share your Good News with others!


 Happy Easter from all of us!




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday

If there is love among you, 
all will know that you are my disciples.
~John 13:35

Our Maundy Thursday this year was greatly anticipated and special for all of us.  Afterward dinner, MoMo and Papa babysat so that T and I could attend Mass and walk a Seven Churches Visitation with friends late into the night. 

This year, I planned our meal to match Gospel readings that we read together during dinner.  I have admired the way other families have done this. G-Bear and E-Bear and Buddy Bear are all old enough to participate and enjoy this tradition.  

Our water jug and thirty "pieces of silver" crackers with cheese.


We make the dining room into our "upper room" for dinner.
We washed each others' feet before our meal.
Meatballs instead of roasted lamb.
Pesto and salad for the bitter herbs.

Grape juice in our cups to remember the wine.
Praying hands pretzels, remembering the bread and Jesus' prayers in the garden.
Raisins instead of olives, to remember the Mount of Olives

Red twizzler "ropes" to remember Jesus' arrest, and chocolate chips to remember Peter's tears after he denied Jesus.

On Good Friday, I read part of the Passion narrative to the kids while we make peanut butter cross sandwiches for a simple lunch.  Cream cheese works well to connect the pretzel crosses.
This helps us remember Jesus at the time of day that he was hanging on the cross.



This simple lunch always brings smiles and plenty of questions about the importance of the day.  Buddy Bear was quite concerned about how the guards treated Jesus.  "Mommy, E-Bear could use his foot to kick the guards to make them stop hurting Jesus," Buddy Bear suggested.  I reminded Buddy Bear with a smile that Jesus didn't want Peter to hurt the guards, but loved them instead.  I told Buddy Bear that we help Jesus when we choose good, loving behavior, even toward those who are mean to us.  Thank you, Lord, for Good Friday.

  

We adore you, Christ, and we bless you,
For by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.