Merry Christmas!! It's a busy holiday season again this year! We're involved in a number of things through church and there are the usual family get-togethers and time spent with friends. So far, we've been having a blast! We hope you have also been enjoying the time remembering the blessings of the year and enjoying the blessings of the season.
Well, here we go again! These posts seem to be getting fewer and farther between! It has been busy and to be truthful, I've been a little lazy. Busy is kind of an excuse in reality because that's just life with a family and it's not going to get less busy any time soon. Unfortunately for those of you that actually enjoyed the stories I tried to pass on, I probably won't get any better about updating the blog. But, I'm not ready to give up yet!!
So, since the last post in June, we had a visit to Ohio, a number of trips to the zoo, opportunities to gain new friendships, and the kids continue to be as cute as can be! That has been life in a nutshell!! The specific stories are much more entertaining and I will renew my effort to make short posts when the fun stories come up. Here are a few...
This tiger at the Columbus Zoo kept walking along in front of the glass and every time it walked by JJ, he screamed with delight! The tiger licked the glass once or twice and it made me grateful that we were safely on the other side of that glass!
JJ discovered the fun of the riding lawn mower at Grandma and Poppa's house...
JJ turned 3 on August 7 and we had a party with lots of family and friends crammed into our apartment. It was great getting to see everyone and JJ enjoyed himself a lot! There were lots of bubbles, tools, and a great deal of Toy Story toys to keep him and his little guests entertained.
One of the more difficult things for Ally when she visits here on the weekend is her lack of friends her own age... that changed a few weeks ago when she met Madison. Maddy is the daughter of our new friend Amy and she has a sense of humor and personality much similar to Ally's. While both girls tend to be slow to warm to new people, they were soon playing together and getting into their own brand of shenanigans! While Maddy had to return to North Carolina, we're hoping they will be moving to Minnesota soon (and they still communicate via facebook!).
And of course there is the simple daily goofiness that occurs on the quiet (yeah, right!) days...
So, Toy Story has become JJ's favorite thing recently. He has Buzz Lightyear and Woody action figures. He imitates them and flies them around the room. It's actually pretty cute to watch. Yesterday, he got on the mechanical horse outside the store and said, "di-di eee, eyes-eyes!" Which would be "ride like the wind, Bullseye!" from Toy Story 2. Most often, however, he quotes Buzz- "aayy-pee an YON!" or "to infinity and beyond!" Ok, so he's much cuter than I can imitate or type it...
So far in this early part of summer-ok, late spring, we' have already been having lots of fun! JJ has enjoyed 3 trips to the zoo, played in a pool and has discovered the fun of puddle jumping. He very much enjoys splashing around! His rain boots are his second favorite foot gear- second only to the neon green and black sandals he picked out. He has also now discovered puddle splashing barefoot. Oh, the fun of being a kid!
As I've been thinking about what to say, a number of things have crossed my mind and it's hard to know where to start. The simplest thing to say is "Thank you" and I know for many, that can even be enough though the words feel so inadequate to me. But I think what is really on my heart is "thank you because I haven't had to...."
- Thank you because I haven't had to fight for the right to write this message, criticize our country, the president and our other elected officials (MANY exercise this right frequently and forget how easy it could be to lose it) -Thank you because I haven't had to fight for the right to practice my religion. There are many countries where even owning a bible could mean horrific persecution and death. -Thank you because I haven't had to kiss a loved one good-bye and hope and pray that they make it home in one piece, though this day may come as my kids get older. I've had family that have served, but I was really too young to know (or I wasn't born yet!). And though I have friends who are currently serving, it still just doesn't feel as close to home. -And Thank you because I haven't had to serve myself. In this country, we get the choice. That option remains in place because so many choose. I can't imagine having to say goodbye to my son as I leave for some other country and risk my life and possibly never get to see him grow up, never see my stepdaughter grow up, never see my husband again. Or even just missing the day to day things that we all take for granted.
There are other reasons, of course, but this could get really long if I try to list them all. Those last two are really the one's that make me the most emotional. I think that's partly because I've never felt like my rights have ever really been in jeopardy- a security I know is owed to those who have served this country over the years. But I can't imagine losing any friends or loved ones. It's such a real and scary possibility. I feel for the families that have known and loved fallen soldiers. I feel for the mothers and fathers who watch their children leave to fight. I have literally sobbed thinking about the possibility that my son will somehow someday be a member of the armed forces and will go to war- and he's only two years old. This is another reason to thank those of you who have served and are currently serving. Someday, it will still be a choice and maybe, just maybe, someday he won't have to. I think that possibility makes me the most grateful of all. For me, losing my own freedom and safety is less wrenching than the thought that someday his might be at risk. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do or have done.
I pulled the following video from YouTube... there were many that made me cry like Tim McGraw's "If You're Reading This," Mark Schulz "Letters from War", Trace Adkins "Arlington"... I went with "Til the Last Shot's Fired" by Trace Adkins because it includes many of the past wars, not just current (though I would editorialize that the Korean War was again overlooked). If you're brave enough to watch tearjerkers, make sure you watch the other videos I listed, but this one may likely do it, too.
It's been a crazy amount of time since I've done any blogging. I visit our blog site everyday because then I can check in on the blogs we follow. So everyday, I have been confronted with the syrupy purple Easter theme and the cute little bunny that hops up and wishes me a happy Easter. Everyday. By now, I'm really quite tired of it. And in spite of Jim's request, "Honey, can you change the blog background??" it remains. Until today!! I have gotten ambitious. Not only did I go through the apartment yesterday to find items to donate to the VA when they pick up on Friday, we now have the bookcase I've been waiting for! I can finally-after about a year and a half- can unpack the boxes that are sitting in the corner of our bedroom! And in my ambition, I am writing a blog post and changing the theme (you're welcome, honey!).
And though I missed it yesterday, I'm going to post a pic for Mommy & Me Mondays.
JJ's getting pretty good with counting and letters. I have to say that I don't think it's because I'm doing all that much with to teach him. I think it actually has more to do with PBS on in the background while he's playing. He knows most of his letters and not just in order of the alphabet song which means that he's really recognizing them. He counts to 5 and recognizes all single digits (though some of them are hit and miss on remembering what they are called). Jim and I discovered that spelling "paci" is not going to be a good way to talk about his paci without him getting the idea that he needs it right then. We'll have to start spelling the whole word because he now recognizes that combination of letters. Granted they sound similar to the word as it is said, but that's still pretty good for a two year old! He's also finally showing an interest in books which he never really did before. I still can't sit and read a book to him without him insisting on turning the page before I'm done reading a sentence! And that's with me reading fast. It's still better than when he wouldn't even let me open a book!
I need to coin a pithy name for being a blog slacker (I'll take suggestions)! I fully intended to share stories from Christmas and the time after, but to be honest, I don't really even remember what I was going to share. I'm sure I'll think of it later, but for now you'll have to just take my word for it that we had a great Christmas and New Year. I will take solace in the fact that I was busier enjoying the process of making memories than spending time writing about them.
We did have a great time over the holidays. And of course the fun doesn't end there. We went to a Valentine's Day banquet that was put on by our church. I got to re-purpose a bridesmaid dress (Rock on, Lindsey!) to wear for this, so I was really excited to look pretty! Unfortunately, in all my excitement, we forgot the camera. We did get one photo at the banquet for posterity. However, I don't have a scanner. You again will just have to take my word for it that we both looked fabulous! Frosty Trees! We got a great deal on a train table. We very much dislike Toys R Us after the experience of getting this train, but it was still a great deal so we won't complain. Much. It was a lot of work to set up because JJ kept wanting to play (go figure) and he just wouldn't let us get it together. But then after he went to bed, we got it, so I took a picture. I hasn't looked like this since!! JJ also got to enjoy Toddler Tuesday at the Mall of America when they opened the Nick Universe butterfly house for free. He kept chasing the butterflies and growling at them. He's such a predator!
JJ also is learning his abc's and counting. Yes, I'm a naughty mom and am using videos to teach him (as well as all the other ways to do it, too.) He's actually doing really well considering. I'm sucha proud mommy!
It has been a busy holiday season here at the Hammill house and I'm sure that it was busy at yours! They don't get the term "hustle and bustle" from nowhere! We never got our Christmas cards in the mail, though we did receive a number of them- to those of you who sent out Christmas cards, thank you! It was wonderful to receive them. And I hope that everyone's holiday was wonderful and I wish everyone blessings for the New Year!
We started the "season" with Thanksgiving at my mom and dad's. Colleen joined us there as well. It was a lot of fun just hanging out and talking. Mom made a wonderful turkey with all the requisite Thanksgiving side dishes. Gotta love the great food!
We avoided the Black Friday shopping craziness, but we did find ourselves at the mall that Saturday hanging out. The kids enjoyed perusing the music shelves. We even caught Ally dancing! She was caught off guard when she realized we were watching, but then put on a show for the camera- only to find herself getting tangled up!
Later that evening, we set up the Christmas tree and both kids helped to decorate. JJ helped to undecorate and redecorate, as well! He had to help wrap Christmas presents as well- unfortunately, he thought the best way to help was to lay down on the wrapping paper! So, I did what anyone would do in that situation and I wrapped him up! After all, he is one of the greatest gifts! We spent Christmas in Ohio- he did very well on the road trip- as usual! We are super lucky!!! He decided that he also wanted to help at Poppa's house and helped vacuum up his crushed cereal!
And that's just the pre-Christmas festivities!!! More to come....