Tuesday, January 6, 2009

God's Gracious Gift

Hannah 1 day old

My Dear, Sweet, Tenderhearted Hannah,

From the time we knew we were expecting you, we knew you were going to be extra special. We thought long and hard about what we wanted to name you. Daddy and I both nearly immediately agreed on the name Hannah if you were a girl (incidentally Isaac if you were a boy). Hannah means "God's gracious gift." Little did I know at the time how much you would live up to the meaning of your name! Oh, what a gracious gift from God you are!!

From birth you have been able to make Daddy and I smile and laugh, and see life through different eyes. You have had the capacity to makes others smile by just a look from the time you were born.

By the time you turned 1, you had perfected the art of touching others with joy. No matter where we were, you greeted every single person with a warm, sweet smile that was so contagious. People would stop in their tracks to come talk to you. You reserved your sweetest smiles and coos for Mommy and Daddy, especially Daddy! You have always been a Daddy's girl, and I love watching the two of you together. You have such a wonderful mix of girly-girl and Tom-boy!

Your sweet spirit is such a joy to experience. Daddy and I often remember and chuckle about the time you saw America's Funniest Home Videos for the first time. You were about 2 years old Daddy and I were laughing at the video they had shown and we looked over at you and you were crying! You were so worried about the people in the video who had fallen down, or gotten cake smashed in their face and you felt bad for them. For a long time you didn't like to watch football because you were worried that the players were getting hurt every time they fell down.

Even today, at the ripe old age of 4, your compassion for others shines through. You are friends with every child you meet, no matter their age, gender, religion or language. You genuinely love people and I am so humbled to watch as you care for your friends.

2nd birthday!

You have such a zest for life and for fun! You remind me daily that life isn't life until its silly and fun! Your songs, stories and imaginary people you come up with bring such joy to our family!
3 years old - "being Mary"

You are a girl who knows what she wants and how she wants to get it! You tend to be the leader among your friends, guiding what is played, how and where. I pray that God continues to develop this wonderful gift of leadership in you. Your insight into others and the world around you amazes me daily. You have a memory of steel - you can remember things you've heard/seen only once verbatim! You are a wonderful dancer and you can sing like an angel! I love to sit and listen to you sing, especially when you think I'm not listening. :o)
This picture totally captures who you are!

Hannah, over the past 4 years, you have taught me how to see and love others the way God sees them - lovingly, compassionately, and for no other reason than who they are. You have reminded me of the need for fun in everyday things. You have redefined my view of love. God has used you to draw me closer to Himself because when I think of having to give you up for the sake of someone else, it breaks my heart and I don't think I could do it. However, that's exactly what God did for us with Christ. I see in you the potential for so much - I see God shaping you into a phenomenal young woman. I see your eyes opening to God and your heart searching for His heart. I hear your love for God in your simple, yet profound prayers. I am so excited to see what God has in store for you this year - and in the years to come! We've been talking a lot lately about God's very special plan for our family, and for you. Oh, how I long and pray that you see His wonderful plan. I pray this year that you would grow even closer to the Lord and that you would understand more fully who He is and what He has done for us through His Son, Jesus.

Hannah Jane, you are an amazing young lady and I am overwhelmed at how fast the past 4 years have gone. I am so proud, humbled and so very blessed to be your mother. I love you, I'm proud of you and I always will.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

How do you explain??

The concept of an "early birthday celebration" to a 3 (almost 4) year old? LOL

We must've explained it to Hannah a million different ways, and just when we think she "gets it", she says something that makes us think maybe we didn't quite explain it just right. The kicker the other night was after she blew out the candles, she was CONVINCED she was 4! :o)

Since we will be 2 hours away on her actual birthday, we had a special early bday celebration up here. Hannah requested pizza for dinner and chocolate "princess" cake.
The table ready for food!

Waiting "patiently" for dinner

Killing some time between dinner and cake. She was a "princess cowboy" (note the balloon behind her)

Once it was time for cake, the girls rushed off to put on their princess clothes. Hannah was so excited for her Cinderella cake!

"I like cake!"

Jared was not to be left out in the dressing up

The mylar princess balloon got popped on accident (much to Mommy's dismay!! Those things are not cheap LOL), so Uncle Adam and Aunt Leanna surprised Hannah with 4 pink helium balloons.

The smile says it all!

And the end of the night, hugs were given to all and we headed to bed.
Keep your eyes out for a special Mommy to Daughter bday post on Tuesday. Also, I've done a TON of updating today, so be sure to scroll down and see all the posts!

Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away...

One day this week we drove south about half an hour where it was sunny, warm and no snow so the kids to run and play to their hearts content without being bundled up like Ralphie's little brother.

We found two great parks to play at, and even enjoyed a great BBQ lunch!

The best pic we could get of all 4 kids together :o)

Cailyn, our little monkey girl, was so happy to be climbing!!

The shrillness of this squeal nearly cracked the camera lens!!

"DEN!!" (aka, 'again!')

Cailyn's most favorite playground activity is swinging. She LOVES to swing, and must ride each and every swing at every park at least once.

Sharing her favorite pasttime with Daddy

Hannah was just plain giddy, running from toy to toy, not quite sure where to start.

Kilroy was here!!

Struttin' her stuff in her cool shades

A mother's favorite thing - her child's laughter!!

Not sure what he's doing, but the Mission Impossible theme song is running through MY head...

Cailyn and Rachel rockin' out
(and check out that backdrop! Not a bad place to play!)


Daddy chasing Hannah at the second park

Getting closer...

(other possible captions for this pic: 'I once caught a fish...')
Before returning home, we indulged in a yummy snack of apple slices and caramel sauce!
It was another great day with the family, and it was awesome to soak up the sun and the warmth. But I was glad to get back to the winder wonderland for a few more days.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

The first few times Hannah saw snow, she really liked the IDEA of it, but wasn't too crazy about actually INTERACTING with it. So, our snowplay was limited to ooh-ing and ah-ing out the window and watching others play. Last year she did get out in her cousins' front yard and play, so that was fun.

When we drove into town last weekend, both of the girls were just going nuts with all of the snow, so we've all been chomping at the bit to get out and play. We were finally able to get out with the whole gang - Grammy, Grandpa, Uncle Adam, Aunt Leanna, Rachel, Jared and the four of us.

There's nothing like watching things through the eyes of your child to bring back the joy and magic of seemingly simple, everyday things - like snow:

The joy of snow!!

One of the nicest parts about the day was that it was 55 degrees, so it wasn't freezing cold and impossible to have fun. We all actually got HOT! So, it was nice to spend some time basking in the sun:
After taking in the sights of snow as far as the eye could see, basking in the sun, and sizing up the "mountain", we got down to business. Hannah was the first to take on the hill:

"Uhhh....I changed my mind!!"

"That was COOL!!!!!"

Cailyn was next to go. Now, if you don't know already, Cailyn is our daredevil child. She takes on challenges you'd think would terrify her. On the other hand, there are things that scare the bujeezers out of her that you wouldn't think would be anything at all, especially compared to the things that she's NOT afraid of (for instance, she's SERIOUSLY afraid of sharks; I mean it; don't even say the word around her; but that's another post).

Cailyn's stoked; Mommy's freaking out that Daddy's not riding with her

Mommy thinking, "ACK!! I TOLD him to ride with her!!"

"That was AWESOME, Mom! Isn't there a bigger hill around here??"

Next up it was Mommy's turn!

And now for Daddy!!

There was another HUGE hill that I'm not sure how it got there. If it's snow that had been plowed up or what, but it was huge. And it was FAST. But the kids had a blast crawling all over it as well as careening down it!

The mountain climbers at work

"HA, HA, HHAAA!!!"

Cousin Rachel rejoicing over a good run

Cousin Jared was pleased a well

It was fun watching all the kids play, and it was neat to sit back and see how they solved problems unique to snow. After a tandem ride down the big hill, Hannah decided to pull Cailyn to "shore" so she wouldn't have to walk in the deep snow. So sweet!!

We actually have about 10 shots of this whole process, but I chose this one b/c it shows the adoring look Cailyn usually has for her sister.

Hannah being "sneaky" throwing a snowball at Mommy (notice Uncle Adam in the background...)

Hannah kept asking to go down the BIG hill on her tummy. We finally said ok, but told her to be sure to hold her head up so she wouldn't hit her chin on the rim when she hit a bump. Boy, did she EVER hold it up!!

Can't you just hear the giggle??

Catching some air!

Our little snowbunny

Daddy taking a ride with Cailyn

Rachel and Jared in action

Hannah and Cailyn getting ready to ride down the BIG hill

Yee Haw!!

Rachel and Cailyn go for it on the smaller hill


Just kidding, Grandpa was just pulling her up the big hill

Jared flying!!

Hannah flying!!

Several hours of sledding, lugging yourself up hills, rolling in the snow, walking knee-deep in snow, over and over will work up a heaft appetite, so it was time for a little pic-nic.

The "pic-nic tables"

After a hearty lunch of McNuggets and some rest in the shade, the kids made it clear they wanted to continue to fun and sled some more. The grown-ups of the group thought the kids might be a bit tired and cranky, but they assured us they were ready to go:

After such a convincing display, we decided they could each have a couple more runs before we called it a day.

Daddy and Cousin Jared go for a run

Daddy takes another ride on the fast sled

And the day finished off with Grandpa taking a final run down the Big One.

It was an awesome day! The only major problem we had was that Mommy forgot the cardinal rule of snowplay - sunscreen!! Yikes! But other than a few rosey cheeks, most of us got away unscathed (except for poor Jared. You may have seen some scrapes on his face from where he biffed it pretty good, but he looked good doing it!)