Friday, December 30, 2011


Every night, before I go to bed,
I check on my girls.
Sometimes a few times.
I stand and watch their chests rise and fall.
I love the way their faces
relax into sleepy perfection.
And I try to memorize them.
And most times
my heart starts to get all squishy.

Last night, I found this.
And I went and retrieved Jess.
Because I knew he'd want to see
the beauty of this lovely moment.

I know that technically
we are raising children.
But I'm often quite certain
that the blessings are all ours.

Oh, my heart.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Well, it was a success. Christmas was as lovely (and exhausting) as I imagined it would be. I walked into Annabelle's room to retrieve her Christmas morning (she's still in that blessed crib), and told her that Santa had come. She peered into the hallway and asked, "Is he still here?" I told her he wasn't, that he came while we slept. She then asked, a little concerned, "But did he leave me presents by the door?"
Lucky for her, the presents were nicely laid out on the couch. This is the first year she's really understood what's going on, and it was really so much fun. We bought her a kid's digital camera, and she loved it as expected ("Look! A cram-rah like yours and Daddy's!"), but it only held her interest until she noticed the kid scissors that had slipped unnoticed out of her stocking. She then spent the rest of the day cutting.
No really. We were up at Grandma and Grandpa Cheney's house, and while the other kids opened presents, she cut paper.
For her part, Lou did an awesome job chewing paper.
 And looking really cute. And bald.
One of my favorite gifts we (Annabelle) received (so far, we still have a St. George Christmas coming... :) ) came from her Grandma and Grandpa Cheney. At the beginning of December, Jess and I attended the opening night of The Festival of Trees. Among the trees and wreaths that are up for auction, there are also several centerpieces, which can consist of anything from a nativity set to a painting to random Christmas crafts (all donations). As we perused the centerpieces this year, both of us were stopped in our tracks when we came to this painting:
Because there was our Belle. Her hair is a little too dark, but her face reminded us so much of our little curly-haired beauty. Of course, the painting's starting bid exceeded anything we could afford, but we bookmarked it in our minds and thought perhaps we'd purchase a smaller print for Christmas. A few days later, my father-in-law asked if he could buy it for us for Annabelle's Christmas present. We heartily said yes, both because she has enough toys to last her a few lifetimes and because this is the kind of gift that really means something.

I realize that Annabelle doesn't really understand the beauty of this painting right now, but it's something we - and hopefully she - will treasure forever. Because this is what it is all about. That little baby Jesus whose birth we celebrate this time of year grew up to be our Savior. And He loves each of us just like He loves this sweet little girl in the painting. And when we mess up, when we drop our pitcher and it spills, he picks up the pieces and wipes our tears. And I'm so grateful for that knowledge and this visible reminder.
Having babies around during Christmas makes it so real and tangible and meaningful.  I already miss the magic and find myself wishing it were Christmas again with just about as much fervor as my six-year-old self. Merry and magic indeed.

Cue the excessive photo sharing. :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

a {family} nativity

And she brought forth her firstborn son,
and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger;
because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:7

Friday, December 23, 2011

holiday faves

movie: You've Got Mail. Not really about Christmas, although some of it takes place over the Christmas season. There's just something about that old friend of a movie that makes me happy. And makes me feel all Christmasy.

treat: I totally copied my cousin-in-law and made these. Problem is, despite my diet resolutions, I ate like half of what I made. (I used peppermint Hugs.) Things are addicting. Also, trying to lose weight during the holiday season is like telling Annabelle's hair to be straight. Impossible. Only Annabelle's dilemma results in cuteness. Mine in a spare tire. Rad.

soundtrack: We've had Michael Buble's new Christmas album on for weeks in the car. (Thus, Microphone Blue Blue.) His voice is like velvet, and his versions of the Christmas classics are positively spot on.

event: I'm going to have to go with Hale Centre Theatre's A Christmas Carol. People, it is pretty much the best way to start the season (we attended the first Saturday in December). Richard Wilkins plays Scrooge (and has for 27 years), and the man is kind of incredible. He lives in Quatar right now but returns each December to reprise his role. And goodness, he makes me cry. The whole production is phenomenal. Really.

funny: When we went to pick out our Christmas tree (in sub zero temperatures), Jess went to take Loula out of her car seat and smelled the smell. Girl has stinky diapers. Stinkier than you can imagine. It's not right. So I'm like, "No big. I'll just change her real quick while you go tree looking with Boo." I reached for the diaper bag only to find no diapers. AND NO WIPES. In my two and a half years of motherhood, I have never been caught without either. This was kind of a comedy. So I did what any mother would do and started digging through the car to see what makeshift items I had. Miraculously, I came up with a little baggy of wipes from who knows when that were still marginally moist and a size six diaper leftover from Annabelle's diaper days. And let me tell you what, Lou rocked the diaper that reached to her armpits. Rocked it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

it's been said

Me: You're a fruit snack nut!
Belle: I'm not a fruit snack nut! I'm Annabelle Charlene Cheney!
Me: You are?
Belle: Yes, and I'm the big sister!
Me: True.
Belle: And I'm the babysitter!
Me: Sweeeeet. When can you start?
I want the reindeer red nosed fox.
{overheard, singing}Rudolph the red nosed reindeer, had a very shiny....nose...had a very...bloody nose?
{thinking, shaking head...}
A very shiny nose.
{whispers under her breath while I brush her hair}
I'm so excited! It's getting looonnngggg!
Belle: What's his name that sings this song?
Me: Michael Buble.
Belle: Microphone Blue Blue?

{a few days later, in the car}
Hey Mom. I wanna listen to...Mr. Buble.
{I nearly died laughing. She knows "Mr. Buble" from this.}

{and yet a few days later, in the car}
I like this Microphone Buble.
Rosie's drinking her bottle so be careful! Don't chouch her!
Maybe someday I'll see Santa at Hobby Lobby.
Belle: Is my head broken on the big computer?
{referring to that picture she saw weeks ago that chopped off the top of her head}
Me: No, it was just a picture Honey.
Belle: {holding the top of her head} My head is together?
Me: Yes, your head is together. {Mine, however...}
Look! Lydia's holding my hand! ... She's my friend.
{the best kind of friend, the best}
{her first prayer, said without any help or prompts}
Heav-ee Fadurr...we tankee babies...we ask of Jesus Christ...Amen!
You tink your video is spicy? {my burrito, we haven't got a whole lot of "spicy" videos around here...}
Grammy's berry little...and she's berry special. {totally out of the blue, mind you}
Did I get this toy from Old McDonald's? {McDonald's}
{to Aunt Whitney, referring to her pants}
Belle: These are boy pants.
Whitney: Um, no...they're girl pants silly.
Belle: These are girl pants. But they look like boy pants.
{while we're walking from the car to the apartment}
Let's get on the sidewalk so we don't get in trouble.
{overheard, while she plays with her toy food and kitchen}
Thank you for making this! It's nice to have friends over for lunch!
The firefighters are getting in their truck! I'm so impressed!
{referring to some firefighters she saw leaving Cafe Rio}
Boys make messes. Girls make cleaning! {perhaps the most true thing she's ever said}
{while playing with my hair}
Apparently, I'm doing a braid in your hair.
Belle: I like Santa. I tink he's nice.
Me: Yeah? Do you want to sit on his lap and tell him what you want for Christmas?
Belle: Um, no. I want to stay in my stroller buckled. And juss look at him.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

five months

Little Loula:

In your fifth month, you stopped being an infant all together. I'm pretty sure you'll be twenty years old tomorrow. You started rolling over. Mostly only from back to front, but the other way too. I like that you did it this way, because you did it your way. By the end of the month, you were really good at rolling to actually get places or to grab things. You also found your toes. You don't eat them very often, but you do love to grab them and roll from side to side.
This month brought a few separations for us. You were left with loving friends and family a few times - a few times you were perfectly fine, a few times you just wanted your mommy. On one of those times when you wanted mommy, when I returned, I rushed into the room where you were crying (and being held and loved). The instant - I mean THE INSTANT - I touched you to pick you up, your cries were silent. I felt so very special in that instant. You then spent a half hour staring up at me with wide smiling eyes, a smile behind your binky. As if to say, "You did come back!" I hope you're learning that although I will leave from time to time, I'll always come back. And while I'm gone, I'm missing you.
Your hands are fast, fast, fast now. You grab with a vengeance. You must touch everything in your reach. And you will lunge straight out of our arms or laps to get to what you want. You love your exersaucer but have a particular affinity for the purse toy attachment. If ever you play with it too long you get angry. When I take you out of the exersaucer, you just get more angry. I think it's because you want the purse and it's really stuck. You often stand straight up in your exersaucer. Your legs and tummy are getting strong. Play time is intense - you focus through things, not on things it seems. You love your white blanket more than ever. It's the perfect amount of stretch and love I suppose. You also love Sophie the Giraffe. Looooooove. I often find you with your blanky in your right hand, Sophe in your left. And happy as a clam. (You appear to favor your left hand, which is very interesting with your exclusively right-handed family, including sibling, parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles.)
You've started sleeping a little sporadically. Sometimes I get a wake up call at 3:30 a.m., sometimes at 6:30 a.m. like old times. Sometimes your naps are two hours, sometimes they are two minutes like old times. I imagine it has something to do with your growth rate. Or maybe with how much you've played that day. You did get your first cold this month as well, which also seemed to throw a wrench into your sleeping patterns.
You wear size 6-9 month clothing mostly. That said, you don't fit in some things because you're too skinny. You're long enough for some 12 month clothes, but way to spindly to fill them out. I have you in size three diapers. You techincally fit in size two, but the blow outs were driving me insane. So you're in big size three diapers and blowing out rarely.
You love your big sister. Like a lot. You love to try and touch whatever she's touching. You love to grab her curly hair. And she is hands down your favorite reason to giggle. You laugh at almost everything she does. Although, I'm happy to report that you also regularly giggle now. Up until recently, I had to put on a circus to get a giggle from you. Now you laugh just because you're happy. Your little chuckles are some of my favorite sounds.
I love that although you are tiny, your spirit is huge. Your personality takes over our apartment sometimes. You're a very intense little girl. Either you're very happy or you're very, shall we say, unhappy. Luckily, there is more happy than unhappy these days. You're so very lovely my girl. And we're so very lucky to have you.
All my love,

Here she is at one month.
Here she is at two months.
Here she is at three months.
Here she is at four months.


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