From Us, To YOU

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It's official. You can expect radio silence here on the blog until the NEW YEAR.

I love a new year. New fresh start. Time to make new plans and goals. Reflecting on the last year and how much has changed? How much was accomplished (or not accomplished if you have 2 small children 2 years apart)? Time to look forward to the new adventures you will have. An excuse to clean and purge and donate. A time to celebrate new milestones, birthdays and holidays.

I've never been one for New Year's resolutions. I really try to do my best all year round, as we all do. When the idea strikes to eat healthier or start to exercise, I start right at that moment. Cause why wait? But one that I always need to remind myself of at the end of the year, and it seems to carry me through until the next year is, "TAKE EVERYTHING AS A COMPLIMENT." I find if I try my best to do this, trust me I fail at times, but if I do succeed, everything is received with love and kindness. Challenge yourself and attempt it this coming year. If you search hard enough, there's a compliment in there somewhere.

Happy New Year!!!

 

In the meantime, I hope you all find peace and joy this holiday season. My wish for you is that you get a chance to recharge your bodies and hearts in the coming days. I hope this rest helps you to be prepared to conquer this upcoming year. You never know what may come your way, let's all be ready.

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I hope you take a few moments to receive your blessings this year. Be present, take a minute to think, observe and appreciate. Not sure about you but I literally only have about 1 minute before my kids need something from me. But I can assure you in that 1 single minute, I will be able to recognize my gifts, praise God and remember just how much my cup runneth over. My heart will swell with love and and almost burst. If I had 2 minutes, I might shed a tear of gratitude, but I probably won't, so heart swelling it is.

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Seriously, y'all thanks for reading this little blog of ours and letting us share our gifts with you. We are honoured that you have even the tiniest of places in your hearts and your homes for our little girls. We are grateful that you choose to accept that which may be different and spread the accomplishments and the joy of our girl, Hazel.

Much MUCH LOVE to you now and ALWAYS!!! We can't wait to share another year of shenanigans with you.

 

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Wishing you all the very Merriest of Christmas' and the Happiest of Holidays.

From our family to yours. May you find enough peace in your hearts to carry you through another year of new experiences - good or bad, happy or sad. God Bless you!

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Christmas is Coming...

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Ahhhhhhhh....the lights. Such fun. This is pretty much the only Christmas activity the girls have actually enjoyed so far. We all know how the Santa visit went. YIKES!

They aren't familiar with the yearly traditions yet. Santa is just a jolly old fellow they've seen in books. They have no concept of making a list and have absolutely no expectations of "getting" anything. And although I can't wait for them to be excited about waking to the treasures that Santa has left, I am kind of enjoying their ever present state of mind at the moment. They just are. I love them for that. Also, I thank them for it.

These kids are happy with anything or nothing. They were good with the lights...

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Well, that's not entirely true. Nola looked like this most of the night. Thank goodness Hazel looked like this. Balance.

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I think at one point I asked Matt if he thought Nola was trying to ruin Christmas. Soooooo, yeah, the night was peaceful. NOPE!

It wasn't until Mommy made one of these that we started to feel the Christmas spirit. Peppermint ice cream, rum, milk, blend. Magic!!!! If you are feeling crazy - eggnog instead of milk. But RUM!!!

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Life certainly isn't perfect, usually, it's far from it. It's messy and unpredictable and LOUD. Often my kids don't get the memo that we are supposed to be spending a magical night together making memories as a family. They end up cranky, or hungry, or tired, or well, let's just say - "not in the Christmas spirit." We can only control so much.

In the end, the lights were a hit. The tree went up and got decorated. Mommy and daddy had special drinks and it felt like Christmas.

 

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Here's to spreading Christmas cheer!!!

If your kids are "not in the spirit of Christmas" please throw on your favourite Christmas song, "I pray on Christmas," works like a charm AND see the drink recipe listed above. 100% chance of increasing the "feelings of Christmas" in your home.

Good LUCK!!!

So this is 35

Turning 35 is going to look really sweet on paper (family-wise, definately not age wise), I mean according to the pictures anyway. bday

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But here's the real truth.

You know who didn't care that it was my birthday? MY KIDS!!!!

I book-ended the day with 2 hour of straight crying.

The morning session was Hazel, who I took to daycare for the second time. She was seriously not having it, even though I STAYED WITH HER THE WHOLE TIME. So for 2 hours I held her and tried to comfort her and for 2 HOURS she cried/whined on my shoulder. 2 HOURS!!!!!!

The late evening session was Nola. She woke up around 11pm and cried and screamed from her crib, despite several efforts from Matt and I to comfort her and get her back to sleep. So from 11 to 2 she protested sleep. So why fight it? We got her out of bed and let her do whatever she wanted. I went to bed (you know, cause it was my birthday so I got to go to bed at 2am), Matt stayed up with her until 4.

Thank goodness for all the stuff in between.

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Matt came home early from work to help with the kids - WITH PRESENTS! My mom baked me a cake with a peach pie in it. My Nonna made me a lamb roast and artichokes. My Zia and Zio surprised me with cream lemoncello. A good portion of the family squished into my moms house and rubbed elbows at the dinner table. We drank, we laughed, we bribed our kids with chocolate.

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It also doesn't hurt that I had a completely separate celebration the week before with the other side of the family. They all cared very much that it was my birthday. They came with gifts, food and smiles. Go figure. SMILES!!!!

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Even though my kids didn't care it was my birthday, I wouldn't trade the day I had to go back to those years that my lap was empty on my birthday. A full lap of screaming children trumps an empty lap and day of the year.

35 it is!

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Ho Ho HO!!!!

I just had to share this on the blog. For those who don't follow us on Facebook or Instagram. It's not a smile for Happy Friday this week. Well not the kids smiles anyway.

Let's just say the visit with Santa was a lively one.

It all started the INSTANT I tried to hand Nola off to Santa. Her little body stiffened and she screamed her loudest, most horrified, someone-just-ignited-my-clothes-on-fire scream that she could muster. Well, Hazel got one look at that and she was convinced that danger was imminent. She too began to scream her loudest, get me-the-heck-outta-here scream. If Nola was out, there's no WAY Hazel was sticking around to see this thing through. And on and on AND ON they went. Dispite the fact that we were holding them. We reassured them and we DID NOT even try to attempt to hand them back to Santa again, they still carried on. It was really warm and cozy. Like seriously, I was sweating.

Anyway, a little poem, if you'll indulge me...

We decided to visit Santa and get out of the house, Upon our arrival, nothing was stirring, not even a mouse. When suddenly there arose such a clatter. Everyone walking past had to see what was the matter. And what to their wondering eyes might appear? Two tiny humans stiff as a board, flailing their arms and yelling from fear. With Santa in the middle, chuckling with glee. And I on his right trying not to flee. The elf behind the camera through her arms up in defeat. All I can hope is there was no live Tweet (#insanesantavisit) So with my red face and sweaty arm pits, I collected my children, and gave my humblest of apologies. We exited the area and exchanged a look of terror, while we laughed and declared that this make for good stories.

The END.

 

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Happy Friday everyone!!!!

Nola's 1st Birthday Celebration

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Ok so somehow it's Thursday. Well then...

Here's some pics of the big birthday celebration, which is quickly becoming history as the days keep flying by. I must admit I really, truly enjoyed planning this party. I generally enjoy entertaining but since I've had 2 kids, I find it so difficult to find the energy to really PLAN a party. Like put 100% effort into every detail. For this party, I was all in. I am really happy with the final product. It was a really inviting, calm atmosphere. The kids got to see some cool nature displays and adults got to sit, talk and enjoy each others company.

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Nola, however, had this face....ALLLLL DAAAAYYYY!!!

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I just had to add this pic of my father-in-law eating lunch with all the kids. His choice, of course.

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Literally....ALLLLL DAAAAY!!!

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The only photo I have of the 2 girls together #fail.

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Smash cake. She really was gentle with the cake. Not a messy smasher at all.

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While Nola was having her moment, this adorableness was going on right in front of her. I absolutely LOVE how much Hazel loves her big cousin Owen. Imagine the smile on his face too. Ughhhhh...

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Actually she looks happy here. Interesting.

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Cutest ever!!! She saw the candle lit and was totally obsessed with the cake. Wouldn't take her eyes off of it.

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Love was in the air...

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The best gifts are the homemade ones. Stella really outdid herself with an album just for Nola. A picture from each month of her life. Such an amazingly thoughtful gift. Of course Hazel got one too. All 3 of our nieces bring so much love into our girls lives. I can't wait to see how their relationship grows and how close they become.

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So thankful to have been able to celebrate all of your 365 days baby girl. You bring life to this house every single day.

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French Fries and Popsicles

Before I post that really annoying "look-what-we-did-for-our-baby's-first-birthday" post. Here is a little of our everyday reality. This was Nola's actual birthday celebration. The day after the "look-what-we-did-for-our-baby's-first-birthday" party.  

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We wanted to make sure that Nola had a very special day. Including a very special dinner, just like we did for Hazel. For Hazel's first, we took her to our favourite Italian restaurant. We had some wine, some great pasta (her favourite), and great service. It was such a nice night. A special dinner for our girl, Hazel. Of course we wanted to make sure that Nola got the same treatment on her 1st birthday as well. Nothing but the best...

They had Popsicles and French Fries for dinner. IN THAT ORDER! Then they had cupcakes, soooooooooooooo...

 

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I Looooooooove when Nola looks at Hazel like this...

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Moral of the story...

What's good for the goose is NOT necessarily good for the gander? RIGHT?!!!

Oh and also...

Once you have the 2nd child, forget about going to fancy restaurants to eat #justsayin

 

 

 

 

I told you it wasn't over...

Look better Halloween pics. I wish I could take the credit but my sis-in-law is the one who has rightfully earned a pat on the back here for a job well done. A lot of sweat, high pitched noises and signing songs goes into getting a photo like this. And yet, all but 1 are smiling (NOOOOOLLLLLLLLAAAAAA....grrrrr).

Actually those are great odds. I'm impressed.

 

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Still, we couldn't manage to get Hazel to hold the staff but, low and behold, we got her to keep her bonnet on for more than 5 seconds.

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Here is proof that there was a staff. Handmade by "dada"

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Consider this your Happy Friday post this week. Next post will be Nola's birth story as I continue to plan a celebration for her first year of life. I can't even.

 

Happy Halloween Friday!!!!

I present to you.... Little Bo Peep and her little wondering sheep.

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I learned that it's super easy to #FAIL when you piece together your own costume. Especially when your plan comes together pretty perfectly and your child (in this example Little Bo Peep) refuses to wear the parts of the costume that make her who she is. The bonnet and the staff. Oh yes, they exist. In fact, they are adorable. However, Hazel really didn't see the point in either and refused to even let me take ONE PICTURE of her in the full gear.

This is not over. I WILL try again.

It's a good thing she's cute...seriously. Nola completely stole the show at the Halloween party. I am obsessed with this costume. Thanks amazon.com for making that easy for me.

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Closing out Down Syndrome Awareness month. It was a great one!!! I have truly enjoyed reading all the interesting links people have been sharing on their social media channels. Thanks to all of you who took the time to read about DS this month. And an extra special thanks for sharing Hazel on your Facebook pages and blogs. We had over 200 shares on that DSAM pic. GUYS!!!!! That's insane for us!!!!!

Thank you!!!!!!!

October was all about Hazel. November will be all about Nola. In honour of her first year, I will share her birth story and a general update about her (which will include lots of pics). Then, of course, I will post pics of her birthday celebration. It's unbelievable that my little baby is turning 1.

And with alllllllllll that...

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!!!

Happy Friday!!!!

Happy Birthday Daddy

I don't often talk about Matt here on the blog. Not much is said about our relationship besides a few comments about parenting choices, situations and things like that. There really is no real reason for it, I just don't feel the need to share. Something has to remain sacred...HA! Just because I don't share doesn't mean that we are not the real deal. Matt is the real deal. Mama (& daddy) raised this boy right. He is a supportive and loving husband (not that we don't have our moments guys, trust me we do), he is a loyal friend and a very present uncle, brother and son.

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But the thing is, he is LITERALLY the BEST father that there ever was. Like, I can't even DEAL with how much he loves our girls. And how much they love him in return. It's something that can't be measured or compared to anything. I can't write about it. I can't talk about it. I could never explain it and do it justice. If you've been around him and his kids that you know what I mean. You've seen it. It's so obvious.

Let me put it this way. I had a good 'ol fashion ugly cry the other night when I looked up and he was having a dance session with Nola. Something that happens often 'round these parts. My mind immediately went to them dancing at her wedding. She's gonna be a big girl then, but I have a feeling she's not gonna look any different to us then. She will still look like our little baby girl. It's all just too much for my heart to deal with.

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Anyway, why today? What's with the talking about Matt today? It's daddy's birthday!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!!!

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Also, as a little side note. I'd like to take this opportunity to speak to the future boys that think they are going to try to date my daughters...

Dear Nola & Hazel's future husband,

Good luck even trying to compare to their daddy. He is stronger than you, funnier than you, smarter than you, kinder than you, more generous than you will ever be, cuter than you and he knows just how they like to dance. He melts them with a single glance. Soooooooo, yeah. Good luck with that!

Sincerely, Nola & Hazel's overbearing mother.

Sometimes this space is just sad...

It's been 2 years my LOVE. apryl

 

I know that you watch over my girls everyday. I also know that sweet Nola was a gift from you. You certainly left your mark on her.

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The funny part is I never noticed it looked like a butterfly. One of my friends pointed out. But there it is, clear as day.

And though I will never be able to wrap my arms around you in appreciation for my most precious and perfect gift, I promise to hug and kiss my girls just one time extra every single day instead.

You live on in my heart and are still such a huge part of my future.

Miss you heaps and heaps Auntie Apes.

 

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Missing this crazy crew.

Father's Day

Well we just had a trial run with how things would be around here without daddy... The verdict is that we HATE it! All of us.

Nothing seemed to go right. There were lots of meltdowns, from everyone (me included). The girls turned the whining on high and let er rip ALL WEEK LONG. We are spoiled. Daddy keeps this ship a float. Nothing is more clear to me now. I am just a tiny part of why this house functions so smoothly.

Dang! And I was getting all ready to dust off my "super-mom" cape. I guess I will bashfully fold it back up and put it on the top shelf of my closet where the rest of the things that don't fit me belong. Enough said.

These girls know just how lucky they are to have hit the jack pot on their daddy. They adore him. Saying we are "lucky" is an understatement, but I haven't slept in days and it's all I got.

Happy Father's Day!

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Wishing all you dads and dads-to-be out there a very merry Father's Day.

Enjoy!

Nola's Baptism

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The day was perfect in every way. Turns out I love baptisms! It was exciting to plan. I was honored to be able to celebrate my girl's marriage into the Church with all our family and close friends. It's the only one of her weddings that I have total control over. So I took advantage.

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Let me mention now that Vita Photography is yet again responsible for capturing all the perfect moments and details of this day that I don't want to forget. If you are in the local area, you need to book with her!!!! The pics are always amazing in every way.

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Proud Godparents...

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Love these...

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Nola was very interested to see who was putting water on her head. By the third time the priest poured it on her, she just had to turn to see what was going on. She had us all smiling.

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Family shots...

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Nola and Nonna B. Nonna B completely outdid herself again making the gorgeous dress Nola is wearing. No pattern, no measuring, only one fitting and perfect. We are all spoiled to have her. Also, shes almost 80. Seriously!!!

Love you, Nonna B!!!

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These next 2 are what is currently making my life.

My girls...

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My family... I heart them!

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Perfect day spent with perfect people, honoring the most perfect little girl and her relationship with God.

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Mother's Day Shenanigans

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It only took a Mother's Day miracle to get a pic of the three of us all looking in the same direction. Forget the smiling. We are all looking and that, in and of itself, exceeds all expectations.

 

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And then of each of my girls...

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We spent the day playing...

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eating...

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discovering...

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roaming...

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It was the BEST!!!

 

Ahhhhh Mother's Day

While I wish all the mama's a Happy Mothers day, I can't help but remember the many painful days I spent celebrating the other mothers in my life, all the while silently aching inside to have my own child call me "mama." Those were the darkest of days struggling through infertility. 4 years. 4 Mother's Days. 4 Father's Days.

The emptiness almost unbearable. I don't know if Hazel will ever really understand how she filled that empty space by making me a mama.

I wish all the mama's out there a happy day. But I also hope and pray for all the mama's-to-be out there that are still waiting for that space to be filled. I pray for you to have strength on this day that is so very difficult for our hearts. I know that becoming a mom seems so far off and probably impossible for some of you. I know that feeling all too well. I have not, I will NEVER, forget.

I am certainly not going to sit here and tell you that it will happen for you. I won't tell you that you will become a mom when the "time is right." I know better than that. I will tell you that all will be as it is supposed to be in the end. I will also tell you, if even the tiniest part of you desires to be a mama, than your heart already is one.

So, you too deserve to celebrate this Mother's Day.

To those of you who are laying in wait, I want you to know that you are allowed to celebrate this day too...

For every time you cuddled a new baby and loved all over it like it was your own.

For all the times you hugged and kissed a child that fell and hurt themselves.

For the sloppy kisses from puppies you received (puppies need mamas too).

For the moments you felt you needed to protect a child from harm.

For spending your time teaching children and helping them learn.

For every moment that you have given something up, shared or sacrificed for someone's child.

For every dance recital you clapped through, soccer game you cheered for, drawing you hung on your fridge, picture you've taken, diaper you've changed, baby you've rocked to sleep, moment of pride you've felt...

To you I say, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

 

I am beyond words about just how lucky and blessed I have been to spend the last 2 Mother's Days with someone who calls me mama. My heart is so full, overflowing in fact, that soon another little girl will be able to fill that space by calling me "mama."

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This pic is old but I feel like at the heart of this pic is what makes me a mom. Pjs, no make-up, definitely not showered, teeth brushed (maybe - but doubt it), and kids are in control. Real life.

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Family is a beautiful thing.

Enjoy!!!

 

Skating Party 2014

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Seguin Financial Group (which is Daddy's company) hosted yet another successful skating party for his clients.

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Last year we had a blast and this year was no exception. Hazel was a huge fan of flying around on the ice in her daddy's arms. This year she not only had a few go-a-rounds on the ice with Daddy (and Uncle Bart), but she also enjoyed running around the arena and mingling with the crowd.

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It's always such an absolute pleasure to meet some of Matt's clients. And of course, catch up with those that make it out every year. It's so comforting to know that when he is away from his family at home, he is spending time with an extended family of clients at work.

Absolutely lovely people...

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I feel like I get to take part in watching his clients families grow. They have more kids. The ones that came out last year have grown. The grand kids multiply and grow. Grandparents faces beam with pride at how much the loves of their lives skills have improved out on the rink.

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If I had to declare a theme for this day it would have to be PRIDE.

Skating is a tricky skill to learn. It takes practice and determination. While everyone is skating, I watch as the parents are there to encourage and pick up the ones that are just learning. They wear this protective little smile on their faces while they stay close to their kids. It often turns to a smile of pride when, even the smallest of goals, is accomplished.

I get to watch as others hold their loved ones hands and take a moment that's just for them. They glide around the ice and smile. They talk. They spend time just being in the moment with each other. I love it.

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We added another guest to the invite list this year. Little Nola.

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She thought the party was Booooooooooorrrrring...

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And when duty calls in terms of being a true hockey lovin' Canadian, our girls don't like to disappoint...

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There's nothing like a little dirty shove-gloves off-shirt over the back-helmets flying-hockey town fighting between sisters.

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Nice work girls. Momma sure is PROUD. We all have our reasons for being proud on this here fine occasion. Don't judge me!

 

We truly hope everyone who came out enjoyed the event. Until next year...

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The Grand Scale

1yr9 When our children turn 1 it generates a whole cycle of emotions within our hearts. They are getting bigger, older, more independent. They are not "babies" anymore (except to mama). They have been around for 365 days. That's a lot of days for a mama's heart, but really - NOT a lot of days in the grand scale of things.

Ahhhhh that "grand scale." Somehow when we say "the grand scale" it makes us feel better. It's like looking only at one star in a constellation. It makes 'said event' seem small, insignificant, unimportant. It's supposed to give us perspective. As a mom, I can see that 1 year may be just that, only 1 year - but for Hazel so much has changed.

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She became brave enough to let go and learn how to stand...

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She started walking...

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She has made tremendous strides in learning about the world around her and how to manipulate things in her environment...

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She became a big sister...

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And as the days were approaching to Hazel turning 2, she started to act very much like a 2 year old. Temper tantrums, throwing things, hitting, exercising control over what food she will and will not eat and when, only finding interest in playing with things are not hers (ie. my phone, the remotes, the computer, and so on). So 2 is going to be fun, RIGHT?

I digress...

 

As time keeps ticking by and ANOTHER 365 days go by and your baby turns 2. Well now, this is a whole new feeling isn't it?

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You are forced to realize the natural order of things. 2 is followed by 3, which is followed by 4 and so on. They just keep getting older. Time keeps a tickin' on and the babes they keep creating their own space on the grand scale. She is ONLY 2 after all. She has so much more life left to live. So many new things to learn. So many experiences to have. For me, I am not sure that when I think of the "grand scale", it gives me comfort to know that so much lies ahead or if it minimizes the 730 days that have passed already.

I think if we measure just by time passing alone, the 2 years might seem like a blip. But, if we measure by how much our hearts have grown with LOVE and PRIDE - I would say that these last 730 days were most certainly very significant on the "grand scale."

I am honoured and humbled everyday watching Hazel overcome challenges (and yes - sometimes frustrated), grow and become a more independent little girl. She works hard everyday at trying to master new skills. I learn more about looking at life as a 'work-in-progress' from her than she does from me. We are both mastering new skills. We are both learning to accept what is. We are both taking life's subtleties in stride and the best part is we are doing it together. We are sculpting our 'grand scale' together.

And I guess, in the 'grand scale', so much changes but so much stays the same...

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She still doesn't like the song "Happy Birthday" nor does she like to blow out her candles. When we practiced at home before the big day, she blew out the candle, we cheered and then she cried.

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Here's to the 730 days that have given us so many tears of joy and fear, the opportunity to embrace all life's lessons, smiles that warm our hearts, laughter that fills our home and pride that swells with each passing day.

Big LOVE for our girl Hazel. The 2 years we have been blessed to have you, have only given us a small taste of what the rest of our lives will be like with you in it. If I could just ask for one thing?

Please lose the attitude. Girlfriend has a real attitude problem already. Yikes!!!

Christmas Morning

We had a very quiet morning just hanging with our girls. Nola slept in and gave us time to spend with Hazel. She is not sure yet who Santa is, and doesn't get that he brings presents. She was just really into unwrapping her gifts and playing with her new toys. And the Christmas  tree...

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And eating. This is what I ate on Christmas morning growing up as a kid, it's what my mom ate and it's what her mom ate...and so on. So, we eat...

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We were all getting over a cold/flu bug just in time for Christmas. Hazel was really run down and sick. She was such a trooper but was still tired and cranky most of the holidays. You have no idea what a relief it was to see this face on Christmas morning.

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The only pic I have of the girls somewhat together on Christmas. At least they're in the same frame. And Hazel is smiling (a rarity this season). I will take it!

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My sweet little lamb's First Christmas.

You guys!!! This baby is seriously so sweet and happy all the time. We could not have been more blessed to have her with us this year. She always has a smile to share and stories to tell. Any friendly face will do. When she smiles her whole body smiles with her. Her legs are a kickin', arms are a wavin', eye brows furrowin', it's THE BEST.

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And obviously these feet are beyond the scope of perfection. They are almost edible. I am so obsessed with this girl. I can't wait for all our life holds now that she's a part of it.

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And now I'm moving on the to the new year. I'm done talking about 2013. It's time to start fresh with our girls.

 

Christmas at a Glance

First I have to say...Thank God for my sister-in-law or I would have no pics of the family Christmas celebrations. She literally took all of these photos (that is why I have none from the Italian Christmas). I have some from Christmas morning but Hazel was really not into posing pretty for the camera this season. We did manage to snap a couple but in most of them her face looks like this... 44

YIKES!!! She was just getting over her cold/flu and was not in the holiday spirit yet. Here is the best we could do.

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She is obsessed with this gift. A recordable book that her cousins made for her.

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This is the BEST group shot we could get. Hazel was having NONE of it.

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So we took one without her. Sweet little lamb's first Christmas.

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I absolutely ADORE the photo on the right. I smile every time. Wait - Does that make me heartless?

PicMonkey Collage1

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PicMonkey Collage

Hazel came around by boxing day. Just in time to visit her cousins. 7 girls - 1 family.

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She played with the girls all day and had lots of smiles to give (#wegavehertylenol). It was a great day!

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There you have it. Some of our Christmas shenanigans. Hope you all enjoyed the holidays and are resting easy now that most of the chaos is behind us. Now it's time to start the goal planning for 2014.

Happy New Year!!!