As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2: 4-5

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Almost 19 years ago....

I became a mother. And it's true what they say. When you become a mother, it's like part of your heart living outside of your body. It's phenomenal, monumental, and overwhelming. What they don't tell you is that when you become a mother, you will wake up one day and it will look as if Toys R Us has exploded all over your house.

It starts innocently enough. A swing here, a bouncy seat there. Then one small little blanket with a few toys on it. Sweet. Simple. Easily folded up and put away. But then, faster than you can say exersaucer, and it multiplies. And soon your entire house is accented in Playskool. Your bedroom has a toy basket in it so that you can get ready or fold laundry in peace. Your tub, even though they have their own bathroom, becomes the home of rubber ducks and Barbie mermaids. And your living room, once a place for you and your spouse to cuddle up and watch movies and eat take out, becomes the place you sit while your children play around you. A clean living room is one in which all the toys are in the toy basket and there are no legos/play doh/Barbie shoes on the floor.

Now some lucky parents have playrooms. And it is the rule that the toys stay in the playroom. And the children play nice and quietly in the playroom and clean it up each night before they go to bed. (It can be said that these same parents are disciplined and probably never say, "Hon, let's please just skip clean up time and put them to bed.")

Well, nineteen years after I first became a mother, I become one of those lucky parents. For the first time in almost twenty years, I have a living room free of toy baskets, pillow pets, and puzzle pieces. And it feels...empty, unnatural even.

And this is the new all it's organized glory.

And you will be proud to know that we've had it set up for two days, and both nights, Hannah and Charlotte have cleaned it up after bath time. Me? A disciplined parent?
Time will tell.....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day

Christmas morning started waaaay too early in the Stone household. Kathleen and Grandma had called and asked if we could come early. Clare and Cole were both sick and they wanted to get home to Chattanooga to beat the snow. So we set our alarm for 6:00 and had to wake up all of the kids. Hannah made us promise that after we had opened presents that she could go back to bed.

I got no pictures worth posting from Christmas morning...that blurry picture due to being old thing again...but suffice it to say that it was a big, chaotic, happy mess! Then we all got ready and got in the car to head for Waffle House. We don't fit in a booth anymore, but luckily, we had arrived early enough to all sit at the counter. A quick waffle and a chicken sandwich platter for Daryl and we were off to Grandma's and the lake.
I just love the way that Charlotte loves her babies. So sweet.
Sarah with a real life baby--baby Clare!

And Kath with a sniffly, snuffly baby Cole.

The Coleman side of the family!

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve got off to a great start with Christmas with Maranda. Each of the girls had bought her something for Christmas, and Sarah and I had worked on a calendar for her. Each month had several pictures of her favorite guy (Josh)--from now and from long ago. Maddy was already at Katie's for the night, so she missed out on the fun!
Then we went to Sonny's BBQ, a tradition we started the first year we were married.
We met Nanny and PawPaw and David, Mary Margaret and the girls there for an early dinner.
Hannah and Marilyn. Hannah absolutely adores her cousin, "Mawilyn."
Katie and Sarah.

And Maddy and Charlotte. Charlotte had obviously missed Maddy while she was away, because she would not let Maddy out of her sight. Maddy enjoyed first. And then Charlotte got tired and fussy and mad that she couldn't run around the restaurant.
Then home for elf pajamas and our traditional watching of The Christmas Story.

Christmas vacation means....

making snacks for you and your sister...all by yourself!

lots and lots of goodies to make and eat
hearing from friends, near and far

and slumber parties with best friends

Home again, home again, jiggety jig

First, he enlisted his sisters' help in packing it all up. Then he borrowed his mom's SUV.

Then he got his sisters to carry down the contents of his old room.
And a little one to sort the hangers.

And....he's home!!! The days of dorm living are over, for now, and he'll be living at home for the next year and a half while he goes to school and works. And just a mere two years after he started, Daryl finished his new room!
This would have been a perfect place for a picture of Josh in his new room. However, the picture I took of Josh in his new room was so blurry that I couldn't use it. The auto focus feature on the camera is broken, so I have to manually focus it myself. The problem with this is that my old eyes have gotten so bad that it is hard to tell when the picture is really clear!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

This past weekend, our church's children's choir performed their annual Christmas musical, Camel Lot. In the musical, the character played by Maddy falls asleep on Christmas Eve and dreams of a camel lot (as in car lot) in Bethlehem, and the adventures of the employees as the characters from the Christmas Story come through looking for a new camel and telling a little piece of their story. A sweet story. Maddy was the star of the play in more ways than one--being the only one that actually knew her lines!

But the real surprise was Hannah. Hannah had been going to the practices, so she knew the songs and dances. Never in a million years, though, did I expect her to actually get up on stage. School has done wonders for her, I tell you!

I wish I had thought to take a video camera. She was so incredibly cute--and she inherited her mom's rhythm. HA!
Maddy had a solo and did a fabulous job.

Despite all of the mixups, the forgotten lines, the four year old who was given a starring role who insisted on rolling around on the floor, the message was powerful. Don't forget the manger. While it had been almost comical until this point, when Mary and Joseph came out with baby Jesus, I started to tear up. The sweet sound of the children singing and seeing a reenactment of the very first Christmas night got to me.
I think what made it even more meaningful to me was that Mary and Joseph were played by a couple that is relatively new to our church. The Zelayas have four children, each corresponding to one of ours, and are new in their faith and walk. They were so honored to be portraying Mary and Joseph, and their little girl Lidia as Jesus was just precious!

the Zelaya's oldest daughter, Arly, who happens to be one of Maddy's best friends, had a big part in the play too.

After the show, we finally let Charlotte run free (gee,...why didn't they choose Char to be baby Jesus? Could it be that she is NEVER still and Lidia is perfectly happy to lay in her mother's arms?)
Case in point...see below!

Maddy says this is her last performance in the children's Christmas program. I so hope this isn't so. She is such a natural and does such a good job.
Have a wonderful Christmas...and don't forget the manger!

Stone Family Christmas Party

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is often hard to find time to relax with family, and the Stone family Christmas party is always a good time to do just that. There were a few additions this year, with Rachel and Angela bringing their boyfriends, and some who were missed (Patricia, just finishing up law school and Chad working), but it was a good time with good fellowship and good food.

My little angel. Seems as if Char found the costumes from the Christmas play!

Maddy and Katie--cousins and friends
Hannah and Benji--she's giving him a hug for her present. Every year, each little kid buys for another that is the same age. Hannah loves Benji and always looks forward to seeing him. This year, though, he had become a big boy and had more fun with the remote control cars than with her. Get used to it sweetie--you have many years of coming in second to the remote control ahead of you!

Hannah and her bike riding snowman, a gift from Donald and Patricia. It was mayhem for a while with all of the pedaling snowmen and remote control cars underfoot!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Hannah's First Christmas Concert

Every single Christmas season, usually on the last day of school, I've taken my class to see the ELCA preschool Christmas program. The first 4 years, I yearned--ached even--to have a little one to watch. The last 4 years, I dreamed of what it would be like for Hannah to be up on that stage, singing her heart out for Jesus. This year, she got her chance, and it didn't disappoint. It was every bit as precious as always!

Here's Hannah and her buddy, Joshua B. while they were waiting to go on stage.

Walking to the stage
patiently waiting....(what, patiently? Hannah?)
Singing--you really can't see her, but she is the one wearing the blue sweatshirt on the top row on the right.
Afterward, they had a reception/breakfast. Grandma and Grandpa had driven down to see the program, as had Nanny and PawPaw.
Hannah and Grandpa
and with Nanny and PawPaw

With proud mommy and daddy!

The most memorable part of the program wasn't the program at all, though. It was the pre-show that happened the night before in our living room. I would have gotten out the camera if I hadn't thought it would totally inhibit her performance. She put on her own little performance, singing and reciting the poems and shaking her booty at us (which, by the way, was not part of the program!) Some highlights from the pre-show include the following:
"Mommy, I was so excited to practice that I needed to pee a little!"
Hannah: "Mommy, did that break your heart?"
Me: "No, Hannah, it melted my heart!"
Hannah: Don't thank me. Thank Mrs. Hunt. She teached me all these great songs to sing to you so next time I do something bad you might not be so mad at me."
"Christmas isn't about getting, it's about giving. And it's about your heart. Having Jesus in your heart. Even if you never got one present, Christmas would be great, because it is about Jesus!"
Love it!

Just hangin out

Sometimes, the best pictures happen when nothing special is going on....

when we're just lovin' on Santa

Or playing basketball, a new favorite activity of Char Char

or just playing dress up with the tupperware!

I love being home with my girls!
(And lest anyone think I don't love being home with my boy too, he's never home--but I enjoy him too!)

Snowy Sunday

Breaking my tradition of only posting on Sundays, to share some pictures of our Christmas season. I've had my camera out more lately, and a little bit more time to take pictures. I've also found out something nifty--I can actually take the memory card out of my camera and insert it right into my computer, thus eliminating the "I can never find the USB cord problem!"

Anywho...I love Sundays. I love the fact that my whole family wakes up in the same house. I love that we all worship together. I love spending time with my church family. I love that it's not a rushed day, but a day we spend at home, relaxing. And I love dressing up my girls! Hannah now wears a uniform every day and I don't really dress Char during the week--Kay does.

Charlotte's first bow! If you look really closely at the picture, you can see a little spout of hair. She's finally getting some! (Obviously not enough, though, because the bell ringer at Walmart called her "little man." sigh.)

Hannah and her big bruddah. Nanny got her this cute dress, and she looks adorable in it...but she looks so grown!
This was also our choir Christmas program, and Sarah had a solo. She rocked "A Baby Changes Everything." So proud!

And when we got home from church, it started snowing! It didn't stick. We didn't get a snow day. So technically, it didn't count. But snowed! In December! There is hope yet for a snow day or two this year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Fun

The little girls are thoroughly enjoying the Christmas season. We have few ornaments left on the bottom of our tree, and they daily take the presents out from under the tree and shake and feel them all. I am enjoying, though, dressing them up and taking them out--thanks to Kay Kay and Aunt Patricia.

Charlotte in her Christmas dress and spiffy Christmas coat from Kay Kay.
Hannah in her fancy dress (with "jewels!") and sweet coat from Aunt Patricia.
Another thing I have been enjoying this season? FINISHING THE STOCKING!!! It's taken me almost 5 years, but it's done!!! Hannah, now used to her big Santa stocking, declared it "ugly"and "the only one without Santa on it." Said she didn't want it. To give it to Charlotte. Too bad, so sad. Hate to break it to you, Hannah. It's already got YOUR name on it!

Today was another marathon day of Christmas activities. We got up bright and early for a Saturday and headed to church for breakfast with Santa. This is where Hannah spent most of her time. Scared. to. death. Wouldn't even go near Santa for the first hour. (Love the dress...thank you, again, Aunt Patricia!)

After all the other children sat on Santa's lap, she whispered in my ear that she wanted to come see Santa after all. I think the candy canes may have had something to do with it!

Charlotte still wasn't too sure about Santa. This was as close as we could get without a full blown meltdown.

but finally, she stopped crying long enough for us to get a picture

From the breakfast with Santa, we sprinted to Spivey Hall for Sarah's Spivey Hall Children's Choir Christmas concert.

Luckily, Nanny and Paw Paw helped us out and watched the little girls for us so I didn't have to spend the concert pacing the hallway chasing Charlotte. When I got there after the concert, three of them were wiped out!

But Hannah, as usual, was going strong!

We are having our Christmas concert in church tomorrow and then we hit the homestretch. One more week to go and then two weeks off!!!