Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Our Visit to NC

It is so fun to go to NC and get to visit both sides of our family. Since Chuck was busy studying for finals and Lani (Chuck's sister) & Mike came to NC, I ventured down with the girls. We stayed with the McBrides (another of Chuck's sisters who moved to NC in March) most of the time.

I realized today when I started to post that I did not take very many pictures during my trip. I guess we were just having too much fun for me to stop to grab my camera. The picture to the right is during church. Mitzi was cuddling with Lucy trying to get her to fall asleep and Tara just couldn't be left out. It was really cute. Yes I pulled out my camera in the middle of Sacrament meeting and took the picture, but I did turn off the flash.

The kids rode bikes, played trains, and chased each other around the house. We played games and I caught up on my celebrity gossip with all of Mitzi's magazines (she has a free trial right now, she doesn't actually BUY them). We played Settlers of Catan and I won 2 out of 3 games. I ruined Hock's undefeated record. Yea!

On Saturday, it was my brother-in-law Andy's birthday so we headed to my sister, Suzanne's, house for a birthday dinner. Before dinner the kids were blowing bubbles in the front yard. I'm not exactly sure what happened but Leland was holding the bottle of bubbles solution and was trying to swat at a bubble (I think). Well the soapy solution went flying and landed on poor Emily's head! Poor girl was covered in suds and if you have ever spilt this stuff you will know there's no just wiping it up. It was a soapy, filmy mess on her head. It was pretty hilarious. Needless to say Leland was not allowed to hold the bubbles bottle anymore.

On Monday afternoon we said goodbye to all the Gates' and headed to my dad's house for a night. Leland enjoyed playing dress up with Layni (my little sister, 5 years old). She had a Cinderella gown that was so cute. I'm really bummed now that I don't have a picture of it. They spent the evening "going to a ball" in every room in the house.

On Tuesday, I made it home from NC in 2 hours and 45 minutes which is record time. I did not stop once for anything - gas or bathroom breaks. It was so great. No crying fits from either child on the drive either, but they do seem to have some sort of stomach bug now. Traveling is so much fun, but we always seem to be sick once we get back home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Our baby Girl!




She's getting better at eating her birthday cake.

Our baby girl Leland is 3 years old. I cannot believe it, time sure does fly. I love this girl so much I can't even explain it. She amazes me every day with her energy, happiness, and compassion. She is such a sweet child and so much fun to be around.

On Sunday, as I was sitting in church an 18 year old girl played her violin as a musical number. She is the oldest in her family and is preparing to go to a music conservatory to study. Leland LOVES music so much and actually loves to watch this girl play her violin. I started to tear up watching her because I could "see" Leland doing just that - performing somewhere and preparing to "leave" for college. If 3 years ago when she was born feels like yesterday, then another 15 years may just feel like only a week.

Today, we had lunch with my Aunt at a cute little bookstore that had a small cafe inside. As a birthday treat we got Leland a cookie. It was a fairly large cookie and it was meant just for her. Barbara and I were talking as Leland sat there looking at her cookie. She picks it up and talking to herself says, "I split in 3 pieces, so I can share." She then split the cookie in 3 pieces and handed us all our piece and said "Now we ALL can have a cookie." I started to tear up. She warms my heart with the kindness and compassion she has for others.

She loves to make her sister laugh. One of my happiest moments as a mother is hearing my girls giggle at each other in the backseat of the car. It makes Leland so exicted to make her sister laugh.

Leland knows many songs word for word. She even corrects me if I sing the words wrong. Some of her favorites are:
  • So this is Love - Cinderella
  • Once Upon a Dream - Sleeping Beauty
  • Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Bo - Cinderella
  • Stranger Like Me - Tarzan
  • A Whole New World - Alladin
  • I am a Child of God
  • I Love to see the Temple
  • Popcorn Popping

  • Leland also loves....
  • Counting - Counting almost anything all the time.
  • Puzzles
  • Soccer - really just kicking a ball around, but I'm hopeful for the soccer thing.
  • Talking on the phone - she will bring me the phone and say "I want to talk to someone."
  • Baby dolls

  • Leland definitely lives up to her middle name because she is such a JOY in our lives.

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Leland's 3rd Birthday Party

    On Saturday, Leland was healthy enough that we were able to have a fun birthday party. She wasn't actually sick anymore, but who knows if she could still be spreading germs. We tried to keep everything outdoors as much as possible just in case there were germs in the house. We played at the park at the end of our street, flew our kite, then had lunch in our yard. We did well until everyone started getting tired, ready for naps, and it looked as if it would rain. It was so nice to see all the cousins play together. (In the picture top to bottom: Afton, Leah, Lucy, Nicholas, Leland, Noah, Emily).

    Leland had a fairly specific list of things she wanted at her party. Pink balloons and chocolate & pink cake were the 2 things repeated most often. The balloons looked as if they were going to lift her right off the ground. See the post below for more on the cake. While everyone was arriving and playing at the park, Chuck arranged her presents and balloons in the house for when Leland arrived for her party. (He is such a cute Dad.)

    Our BIG birthday purchase for Leland was a bike. When I say "big" I mean big in her eyes, but not expensive. We found this bike at Goodwill the week we moved to Lex in August of last year and have stored it in our attic for the last 9 months. Cost: pink princess bike $1.95, training wheels $0.95, air for the tires $0.75 = Total $3.65. Chuck spent Friday evening cleaning it up and fixing the brakes. She was SO excited about it. My mom got her a helmet, basket, horn, and "Princess" license plate. (Thanks Nana!)

    She also got a tea party set, princess puzzle book, camping gear (tent sleeping bag, backpack, flashlight), fishing pole, dolls for her $0.25 doll house, castle piggy bank, and princess stickers. We are ready for our summer - let's go camping and fishing!

    We appreciate the family members that traveled to visit for Leland's birthday. I really hope no one in my family gets sick. Thanks for the gifts and thanks for coming to visit. We love you all. (Aunt 'Zebra' not pictured.)

    Check out more pictures here.

    The Castle Cake

    For the last few weeks, I've been debating on whether or not I would a make cake myself for Leland's birthday. I finally decided that I would and there was no question in my mind on what it would be - a pink castle. If there is anything that sums up Leland's last year it is pink and anything princess.

    I did lot of Internet research and talked to anyone I could about making and decorating cakes. Now this is my FIRST cake that I've ever done myself. I helped my sister make a guitar cake last fall and that was my first encounter with cake decorating.

    Chuck actually did the detail work. He did a GREAT job. My Aunt gave Leland some princess Polly Pockets as a present, so we decided to add them to the top of the cake. They were a very nice addition.
    So what did I learn from my first cake decorating experience?

    • My cake was DELICIOUS! (Bodell Bistro p.306) Thanks Aunt Pam!
    • My icing was a little too thin to use decorating tips to do piping, but still tasted good. (Bodell Bistro p.294)
    • Freeze the cake for a few hours before decorating it. That was the MOST helpful piece of advice that I got and it came from a lot of people.
    • I NEVER thought I would be so excited to make a pink castle cake. But Leland's excitement made my excitement escalate.

    **For those of you who are not a part of the Bodell crew and would like the recipes, check out the food blog I contribute to: One More Bite. I also added detail about the construction of the cake if you are interested.

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    Leland's rough day before her BIG day

    For those of you who have not heard, Leland has been very cute in her excitement for her upcoming birthday. Technically, her birthday is on April 22, but we are celebrating it on Saturday the 19th.

    Ashley and I usually don't do much to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, or birthdays. Poor Leland really hasn't been given much in the way of b-day parties before, but this year we got really excited to do something that would make our Leland Joy so happy. Ashley's mom, aunt, and sisters' families will be in town, so we have been planning a big party.

    About a month ago, we were teaching her how she is almost three. Since then, she has been very excited about her upcoming birthday. A few weeks ago, Leland asked Ashley how soon her birthday was for the umpteenth time, so Ashley decided to make a fun birthday countdown paper chain. Each day, Leland gets so excited to take off one link in the chain and get closer to her birthday. The past few days, she has been so excited to take off a link, I swear she might explode. After taking off this morning's, she was jumping all around saying that there is only one chain left!

    Sadly, that was the beginning of a rough day for our little sweetheart.

    This morning, Ashley and the girls went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few more things for the party. Ashley had almost everything that she needed and Leland started to complain about feeling sick. She sometimes says she feels sick when she needs to go the bathroom and has been holding it for too long so Ashley didn't think much of it. All of a sudden, Leland started to throw up all over herself. She was sitting in the front of the cart, Lucy was in her infant carrier in the back, so all of the items were under Leland now covered in puke.

    {Ashley now writing} After 5 years of working at Wal-Mart I knew how long it might take to get someone to come clean that puke up off the floor, so I didn't wait around. I told an associate to call maintenance to clean up the mess and threw an orange caution cone over the bulk of it. My apologies to anyone at Lexington Wal-Mart around 11am today by the eggs. So sorry you had to smell my daughter's puke, I hope you didn't step in it.

    Leland was such a good sport. She didn't get upset or anything. She actually said she was sorry that she threw up on the cart. Poor girl. On my way to the bathroom, I grabbed a change of clothes off the shelf. I stripped Leland down to her underwear and bare feet, changed her clothes and proceeded to clean off the items I needed to buy.

    Before the puking, I was minutes away from walking out of the store, now I spent what felt like an hour in the women's bathroom cleaning puke off of everything in my cart. I am more upset that I had to buy a $7 outfit that Leland does not need. I was impressed that I actually grabbed something cute in my minutes of crisis.

    We finally got home and while I was unpacking my purchases Leland had made herself a bed on the floor and was knocked out asleep. She only had Gatorade the rest of the day and did not keep any of it down. She managed to ask for her bowl before every incident and was quite pleased with her self for catching all of her puke.

    She fell asleep on the couch at about 6pm. Later, Chuck changed her into PJs and put a pull-up on her with out her even waking up. Hopefully, she will wake up tomorrow healthy and rested and we can still celebrate.

    Two more good things for Chuck

    Here are two good news items for me this week.

    First, I was named Managing Editor of the newly reformatted Environmental Law Journal at W&L. The Journal is currently in the midst of a transition. Up until recently, it was the Environmental Law Digest, a quarterly newsletter for the Environmental Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. In the future, it will be a full academic journal focusing on legal issues in the areas of energy, climate change, and atmospheric impacts. I am working with the new and past Editors-in-Chief, Executive Editors, and past Managing Editor to develop a new title for the journal.

    As Managing Editor, I will be responsible for maintaining the website, reviewing about half of the publication, and coordinating the publication schedule and deadlines between editors.

    Another piece of news is that W&L Law School posted a news item on their website about my appointment as Student Editor of Student Lawyer magazine. There is also a link from the entire University's News page. It was surprising to see how many students actually saw the blurb (it was the first story on the W&L Law School front page today) and congratulated me.

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

    I decided that I wanted to share some of my ideas about trying to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. My environmetalist of a husband has helped me be more aware of our environment and how I can make little changes in my life. I think sometimes one could feel guilty about not doing enough, but here are a few easy things I have done. Most of these things are in the "Reuse" category.
    1. I keep a pile of paper to the side of my desk that is for Leland to color or cut. The paper is anything from random junk mail that doesn't need to be shredded that is blank on one side, to other extra pages that were printed and no longer needed. She knows that is where she can go if she needs paper.

    2. Cut open cereal boxes (or other boxes) for painting projects. The cardboard is more sturdy than a peice of paper.

    3. Shop yard sales. With warmer weather approaching many will start to pop-up on Saturday mornings. Shop Goodwill (or DI) You have to be willing to dig and search, but you could find some great stuff. I have 2 skirts that I got from Goodwill for $3 each, one is J.crew and the other Ann Taylor. Check out the girls new doll house I found for $0.25 at a yard sale this weekend.

    4. Print front and back when printing from your computer.

    5. Use a letter opener to open bills, keep the envelope to write your grocery list or other lists. The pocket from the envelope is great to hold my coupons while shopping.

    6. Use canvas bags for your grocery shopping. I got 4 black canvas totes from Wal-Mart for $1 each. (They say "Paper or Plastic? Neither") I don't seem to need more than 4. I am amazed at how much each can hold.

    7. Accept (or give) hand-me-downs. I LOVE the clothes my sister has given to us. She was really into matching her girls so most of her stuff has a pair. The new box that I just opened for Leland had a lot of outfits that match Lucy's clothes. Leland was so excited about having matching PJs she went in her room and laid them out just before bed.

    8. RECYCLE! If your town picks up from your house and you can mix everything - you have no excuse to not recycle. Find out what your town accepts and where to drop it off. A simple way to start is to get a 2nd trash can just for plastics. (That's what we use most) We have to seperate our recyling and take it to a recyling center. I have bags hanging in my laundry room for each type of material and I have a tub for paper.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Pooh Sticks (Winnie the...)

    Leland and Chuck like to play a game called "Pooh Sticks" as in Winne the Pooh. It's from Tigger and Friends where each player throws a stick in a creek and watch them race down the current.

    We went for a walk as a family to the creek down the road. Leland enjoyed throwing the sticks in the water and watching them race.

    Lucy enjoyed the fun from her stroller.

    Leland Loves....

    A way to use old magazines and to entertain Leland is to cut pictures out of them so she could glue them on paper. In the past, I usually stuck to the ZooNewz and the Friend. Today, I had the idea to flip through Parenting magazine and let her pick out things she loves to glue to her paper. It was really fun and Leland, of course, got really excited about the project. I let her turn the pages till she found a picture of something she LOVES.
    So here's what Leland loves..

  • Clifford

  • paints

  • piano

  • Little Einsteins

  • cupcakes

  • ice cream

  • peas (yes, you read that right)

  • Pat the Bunny book

  • Wyatt from Super Why

  • goldfish

  • polar bears

  • turtles

  • rubber ducks
    • Saturday, April 12, 2008

      Boxerwood Gardens

      We went to Boxerwood Gardens twice last week. It is my all-time favorite place to go. Leland always has a blast no matter what and we are surrounded by such beauty. Some friends of mine joked that they sit and pretend it's their backyard. I would love to create a place like this in my backyard.

      Here are few reasons why I LOVE Boxerwood:
      1) Free!
      2) It's gorgeous, especially right now with all the flowers in bloom. You could smell the trees right when you step out of your car.
      3) Leland is TOTALLY entertained for hours without wanting me to come play with her. Sometimes I like to just sit and read or visit with friends and do not want to have to help her climb, swing, or slide.

      Lucy and her "Law baby" friend Patty enjoyed eating the wood chips. I kept having to pull out the tiny pieces and give her big chunks to knaw on. I never thought wood chips tasted good but you would of thought it was pure chocolate the way Lucy was going to town on it.

      Leland's friends Koa and Kai are her usual playmates at Boxerwood. They always have a blast and play so well together.

      If my life was a soundtrack...

      If your life were a soundtrack, what would the music be?
      Here’s how it works:
      1. open your library (iTunes, winamp, media player, iPod)
      2. put it on shuffle
      3. press play
      4. for every question, type the song that’s playing
      5. new question — press the next button
      6. don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool

      I was tagged by a friend and thought this might be fun. Just to warn you, (I am writing this part before I've even done the list) I do not own an iPod and I rarely listen to the music on my computer. If I want to listen to music while I am on the computer I open my friend Kami's blog because I LOVE her playlist. (Thanks Kami!) Mostly the music on our computer is for Leland and CDs I have made for her in the car. So I believe my soundtrack may be to the life of a Disney Princess.

      opening credits: Something There (Beauty and the Beast)
      waking up: Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo (Cinderella)
      day at school: Part of Your World (Little Mermaid)
      in love: So This Is Love (Cinderella) - seriously! It's totally what came up!
      breaking up: Beauty and the Beast
      prom: A Whole New World (Alladin)
      life’s okay: Honey I'm Home (Shana Twain)
      mental breakdown: Cockles and Mussels (Children's Favorites)
      driving: The Way you Look Tonight (Harry Connick Jr.)
      flashback: 1985 (Bowling for Soup) - seriously! It's totally what came up!
      getting back together: The Itsy-Bisty Spider
      wedding: Save up all Your Tears (Cher)
      birth of child: Used to Love U (John Legend)
      final battle: Forget About Love (Return of Jafar)
      death scene: Loop de Loop
      credits: When we Dance (Sting)

      Tuesday, April 8, 2008

      Sunday, April 6, 2008

      Leland funnies

      My friend Kim often posts conversations with her 4 year old son on her blog. They are so funny and it seems a great way to document the funny things kids say that I know one day will pass.

      So here are a few Leland funnies as of late:

      - Leland loves to sing, listen to people sing, watch people play instruments, watch people direct music, and everything else having to do with music. Today while watching General Conference during the congregational hymn Leland was intently watching the chorister direct with a stick, she says, "Dad, he has a magic wand like the Fairy Godmother!!"

      - Continuing with the above musical theme (as most of everything with Leland involves music) here is a song that she has been singing a lot lately ...."Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! I hope they call me a mission. Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho!"..... I guess it's a nice mix - Seven Dwarfs and missionary work.

      -While watching a Nascar race..."Dad I want them to crash."......"When are they going to crash?" (Yeah that's my Southern redneck girl!)

      - Her favorite thing to say right now is "That's awesome!"

      - When discussing her birthday,
      Chuck asked "What do you want for your birthday?"
      Leland responds, "Pink!"
      Chuck asks, "A pink what?
      Leland says, "A pink present."

      - She LOVES chocolate milk and hot chocolate. Here she is with her hot chocolate walking at Chuck's school. Click on the picture to see her licking her lips.

      Saturday, April 5, 2008

      Lucy - 10 months

      Lucy is 10 months old now. Here is what she is up to these days:
      She likes to stand up ALL the time now. There are times when I know she is awake because she is standing in her crib banging it against the wall.
      She loves avocado and making a mess while she eats.
      When she gets mad she grunts and a bright reddish-purple vain pops out between her eyes. I don't think this picture does it justice.
      Lucy is such a wonderful baby and little sister. Lucy even gets sad when Leland has to go to timeout in her room for hurting her. She will start to fuss and follow her down the hall and sit in front of the bedroom door.

      She loves remote controls and anything with buttons. She also loves putting her blocks (and anything else) in and out of buckets/baskets. She loves to cuddle with her dad and her sister (I get cuddles too but it's so cute to watch her cuddle with them).

      Lucy has learned to fold her arms during prayers and gives great kisses - the open mouth slobbery kind. We sure do love her a lot.

      Thursday, April 3, 2008

      Go fly a Kite!

      Did you know that April is "Fly a Kite" Month? (I learned that at the library today.)

      On Wed we had a kite flying day with the Law Families club. It was fun even though there was NO wind. Most of the dads spent their time running across the field to keep the kite in the air. Leland was able to hold it for a bit while the wind was blowing. Leland loved every minute of it. Tonight Leland asked "When will it be windy so I can fly my kite again?"

      FYI - From observation I learned that the $2 Wal-Mart kites flew MUCH better than the fancy expensive kites.

      [Whoa, whoa, whoa - this is Chuck here to edit. I happen to run a whole lap around the field at the perfect time that there was some wind and I got the kite high enough that it caught the breeze above the buildings and trees. So, Leland got to stand and hold her kite for at least five minutes when it was in the air. At one point, it was so strong, she dropped the string and I chased it down and the kite still stayed in the air. We were the only ones to be so lucky, for that long, though. But as the picture #2 clearly shows, Leland was flying it high!]

      Wednesday, April 2, 2008

      New Friend

      We've had some on and off nice weather lately. It's warm and sunny one day (like today) and tomorrow the forecast is frozen mix. I mean, let it bring Spring already!

      We have tried to enjoy the warm weather as much as we can. Leland and I went to the park which is always a fun time. If I haven't said before enough - We love our neighborhood! While LJ and I were there 4 moms came with their 3 year old girls (2 of them have babies Lucy's age too) also a 10 year old boy from our street was there playing.

      So who did Leland spend the majority of her time with ???????? You guessed it, the 10 year old boy. He was such a sweetheart too. He kept asking her what she wanted to do next and would put out his hand to hold her hand while walking around from the swings to the slides. It was really cute to watch. Leland loved every minute of it. The other moms all thought that he was her cousin because they were so attached for the hour we there.