Friday, August 27, 2010

Just one more :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ontario Place

In July we had a chance to go to Ontario Place. We received free tickets through the school. When the school went it rained and so they got a bunch of tickets which they gave away on a first come first serve basis. The kids were extremely excited about this and we have a wonderful day.

Marietta had already been to Ontario Place for her school trip in Grade 3. That trip had been a disappointing trip for her as the only thing they did was go on the log ride and spend the rest of the day at the waterpark. I still remember seeing her get off the bus after their trip there and seeing her disappointed and almost angry face. While the waterpark was fun she would have liked to see more of the actual park. Well we made up for it this time and they got a chance to see almost everything.

The morning was really hot, but we decided to first see part of the park before we hit the waterpark. In the end we should have gone in the morning as it clouded over and cooled off in the afternoon. It was still nice enough for the waterslides but it was very cold for the splash pad since the water at it was ice cold!! Poor Matthew! He was having so much fun, running and bouncing and thoroughly enjoying himself while he shivered like crazy and was ice cold. But he wasn't going to let the cold get the better of him. While Matthew played at the splashpad area Rob took the girls to the waterslides.

The Atom Blaster Room. This was a big room full of soft, multi-coloured foam balls, ball canons,volcanoes, and blowers. There were huge tipping baskets and ball fountains. The kids (and Rob) had lots of fun trying to shoot each other. When we first go there it wasn't too busy, but after a bit daycare service after daycare service started to pour in and it got crazy, so we carried on to the next thing.

Matthew loading a canon

The Log Ride. There were few things that were the same about Ontario Place from when I was little ... but this was one of them. The line was short while we were at that end of the park so we went on it several times in a row. I think the kids had a hard time deciding whether they liked it or not because of the sudden drop at the end of the ride.

Driving School (in the background you can see some of the fun slides they could go on).

Rebecca on the bumper boats

The girls really liked the FreeFall.

Ferris Wheel

And then there was Matthew. He just seen the pictures and said "And I went on the 4-wheeler, and I had a ride, and I went bump ... I went bump like that (as he sort of jumps around). I like going there, I like going there mommy. That was fun (jumping up and down)." You would never guess that he didn't like most of the rides. He is not a rides person and is quite scared of them.

This is as far as Matthew made it on the 4-wheeler. He banged into the "wall" and couldn't get going again, which made him scared and Rob had to go rescue him and after that he wanted nothing to do with driving the cars.

I think his face says it all on this one ... poor guy thought the ride was done when it slowed down, only to have to go through it again, this time backwards.

This was Matthew's style. There was a buiding that was set up for little kids to play in with some slides and ride on toys, colour stuff and tables with tons of different toys to play with.

But never mind the tables of toys ... Matthew loved this digger and would have been quite content to spend all day on it ... or at least half the day ...

...the other half he would have spent on the slide.

He loved this "ride" ... too bad my knees didn't like the walk up to the top. Needless to say between Rob and I he got more then enough changes to go down the slide.

We seen the afternoon show at the Cinesphere. For anyone who has been to the Cinesphere you know how loud it is ... far too loud for my liking! So you can guess how tired Matthew was when he actually slept through the whole thing. It was perfect. He got a nice little nap in and was ready to go again after the show.
We had beautiful weather and a great time together as family.
I think the following says enough about how whipped the kids were at the end of the day:
The ride home

Monday, August 23, 2010

Matthew's Three

Shortly after celebrating our oldest birthday we celebrated our youngest birthday. Matthew turned three! I really didn't manage to get any very good pictures that day ... I think I mentioned before ... Matthew is not very photogenic, in that he always seems to look goofy on pictures, even when he tries to look nice.

But here's a few pictures to remember his third birthday.

Love the expression of thrill. (His birthday was on a Sunday, hence the spiffy dude clothes)

Same expression again :)

Marietta gave him a Bob the Builder outfit and a couple Bob the Builder toys - Scoop and Dizzy (he already had Lofty). He goes in stages where he's into Bob and then he forgets all about him.

No pictures of the cake this time ... cept from a distance. I have never had a cake turn out so bad. If I hadn't decided to decorate it at 10pm the night before I would have started over. But late on a Saturday night meant I just was going to have to go with what I had. I learned a few lessons for future cake decorating. I applied to decorating tricks together ... not a good idea. The one idea is to partially freeze the cake before you start decorating. This makes it firmer and less crumbly. The second idea is to put a thin layer of icing on the cake before you start the actual decorating to collect all the crumbs and keep them from mixing with your decorations. Well the two ideas together didn't go so well ... probably partly due to the hot weather. I left the cake in the freezer too long so it began to thaw as I decorated. In the thawing process the thin layer of icing I had put on began to get thin and runny and made a mess of the decorating I had done, seeping thru my hard work and making that icing more runny. Then there was the struggle of getting the right colours ... I couldn't find black icing at the store and didn't have a chance to get to Bulk Barn. A quick internet search told me it wouldn't really be that hard ... haha, think again. We went with a deep, deep blue colour, which I did manage to tint to a grey colour for part of it. I didn't even bother to try make red icing as this is also a challenge and by that time the cake was such a disaster it wasn't worth my efforts.

But ... Matthew still knew what the cake was suppose to be, and being three he didn't seem the least bit concerned by how it looked seeing at it still tasted good.

I always regret that I didn't keep a journal for Matthew like I did for the other kids. I tried during his first months, but after missing a couple months of his life, I just couldn't get back into it and it never happened. In order to remember some of the things Matthew has accomplished lately I figure I better jot down a few things now.

Where to start? I think the thing that pops in my head right away about Matthew is his chattering. Unfortunate for us he is another chatterer. It's not always a bad thing, but it can get annoying when he expects you to respond over and over to the same chatter and you're just not in the mood to converse. I especially notice this when I am driving. He has to chatter about everything he sees and expects me to acknowledge everything he says and make conversation, when I often just what to drive and think. Then to make matters worst he is an awful back seat driver. In the city it's not so bad, he eventually has too much to see that he doesn't get too worked up, but when coming into the city or first seeing a red light he will be demanding I stop because the light is red when we're still a mile from the light. Every now and then he's not totally on the ball and will ask "why you stopping mom?" and I have to give a clear explanation as to why or he gets in a tither and wants to know. I hear the "go faster", "watch out", "not so fast" from the back seat quite regularly as I drive. But to give him credit, he not only knows the basic traffic rules he also has a very very good sense of direction. He usually knows where we are and can tell me . If we get anywhere near our old place he will ask if we can go by our old house. He knows where most of the libraries are in the city and major landmarks/buildings. His sense of direction is just as good in the country ashe points out each house/place we've ever visited and who lives there.

Matthew loves to ask questions ... the same questions over and over. It tries my patience when he does it. I often turn the question around and ask it to him ... but even this doesn't work a lot of the time. I remember this stage with Marietta, that's the comfort I take in it ... it's a stage, we'll get through it in due time :)

If Matthew's not busy pointing out all that he sees or telling me how to drive he is either singing or sleeping. Matthew loves to sing and has an excellent memory. While he knows many songs from his various tapes, as well as the Sound of Music, Steve Green and Jamie Soles we are going to have to put some extra work into his memory work from the Psalm book from now on. He does know a few songs, Hymn 4:1,5:1 and 45:1, Psalm 116:1 and 79:1. but not near what his sisters did at his age. Come September when school starts again we'll be working to increase those songs. Matthew will often sing as he plays, this trait comes out more when he's home alone then when the girls are home. If he's not singing a familiar song he's making up his own words to a familiar tune.

Right from a young age when Matthew started watching TV we started him on the Signing Time series. This was originally something the girls picked up from the library just for fun, but they really enjoyed learning it and from there it has taken off to a regular language we try to learn. In the last half year or so it has been put on the backburner as we try to figure out how to fit it into the daily schedule, but lately the kids have been into it again. I had heard of teaching your baby's signing language and really thought it was just another silly idea ... but we now encourage people to teach their little ones how to sign. We were amazed at how Matthew could communicate with us before he could talk. I will never forget the day I opened the blind to the front window and Matthew told me it was snowing ... he couldn't talk, but he still told me he saw snow. It was really an eye opener for us to realize that just because kids can't say what they're thinking doesn't mean those thoughts aren't there ... we always sort of knew that, but this really confirmed it. So Matthew continues to learn sign language in spurts. I have to remember to go back to the beginning at times to see if he still remembers those parts too ... unfortunately it's not an everyday language in our house which would help to promote a better memory and quicker ability to communicate.

When it comes to the basic things that kids are learning at Matthew's age I would say he's about average. I haven't heard him sing his alphabet recently, but he has previously been able to sing it as well a recognize some letters. (He used to have LeapFrog magnets on the fridge that would say the letters and sounds, but we took them off when he started having more fun throwing them all over the floor then playing with it properly ... we're assuming this is where he learned the alpahbet because we didn't teach him). He can count to about 15, sometimes to 20 ... but above 10 is inconsistent on having it right. Regardless I'm impressed with this as again nobody taught him this, and I really have no idea where he picked it up. He's been able to count for quite some time already (before we moved I know that much). He does not recognize numbers. He really doesn't know his colours. He knows he has yellow crocs and brown crocs, etc but if I point to something and ask him the colour he's just guessing and really has no idea.

I used to think Matthew was an outdoors guy, but this summer he has not spent much time outdoors. This is likely because his sisters are not outdoors people. I tend to have to kick them and him outside. Unfortunate for me Matthew recently learned to open the door by himself (something he's quite proud of since it is a relatively hard door to open). This means he just lets himself back in and now I'm at the stage that I have to lock him out. Sometimes I think it's just because we don't spend time out there and he wants us to be there ... but then when we're all out there I'll go looking for him and find he let himself back into the house. I have noticed that if the girls are gone then he will actually go out and play with Muddy. Matthew really would rather be an only child. I thought the summer would be good for him to have his sisters around, but really, he's been rather a nuisance and annoying. He goes out of his way and makes a point of bugging them - pushing, hitting, climbing on them, getting in their way, etc. I guess school time is better for him ... he gets a good portion of the day to himself and a portion with his sisters, that seems to be the balance he likes.

We have also struggled very much with Matthew and sharing. While Matthew is mostly a kind and good mannered kid when we go away (no not a perfect kid, he likes to fight and cause problems, but overall he's not so bad) ... when at home it's a different story. Again, Matthew has "only child syndrome". He grew up with his nearest sibling being 5 years older then him ... and a girl. He didn't have to share his toys very often and was somewhat catered to until we realize the mistake we had made ... but it was too late. Growing up with no one to fight with wasn't really a good thing. He believes that almost all the toys in the house are his and has no desire to share them when other kids are over. While I have no trouble bring Matthew to other peoples houses it is a rather long day when I babysit other peoples kids as Matthew spends all day pouncing on the kid whenever they touch something, taking their toys away, fighting with them. I spend the day disciplining him and feeling bad for both the child I'm babysitting and poor Matthew who must think his mother is awful to stand up for the other child. Some kids it goes better then others ... some really couldn't care less and just pick up the next toy and wait for him to take that away before the carry on to the next. Then there is one that Matthew is actually scared of ... I kinda liked that!! :) Then there is Vivian ... dear Vivian, Matthew's best and dearest friend who shower each other with hugs whenever they see each other. At Vivian's house the two are best buddies and great pals. At our house it's WWIII. Vivian isn't going to put up with Matthew's nonsense, and even goes out of her way to push his buttons. Usually I get a maximum of 1 hour of peace before they're at each other ... both are just as determined to win at the game ... whatever it is. It's full fledge battle time with me mediating. At first Vivian won most of the time as I just assumed it was Matthew again ... but with some closer watching I realized that they were both the issue. They're almost like siblings with their "love" and fighting :) I only hope that Matthew outgrows his "only child syndrome" because it's not a very nice trait.

Matthew also continues to love his naps. While his internal clock tells him to wake up at 6:15-6:30am ... no matter what time he goes to bed, he does make up for it by taking a 2-4 hour nap each day. I realize if I tried to shorten these naps he would go to bed earlier, but with Rob's work hours I kinda like it that he's up later. With the girls up later also, especially with summer, it doesn't bother me that Matthew's up late. Usually Matthew goes to bed the same time as the girls ... around 9-9:30 lately. Because he can stay up late I also find with summer it makes it much more flexible in the evenings. If we're out he can easily stay up until 10-10:30 ... and he's still be up at 6:30 the next day. While it's not necessarily a normal child's schedule, it works for us, especially during the summer. Matthew has never gone to bed early, but I do hope that once school starts and we settle back into routine we can get him in bed by 8pm ... likely his naps will shorten on their own then, altho he does seem to be the kind of kid who likes/needs his naps.

As for some other things. Matthew still rides a tricycle and has just figured out how to use the peddles instead of pushing himself along on the ground. Overall he still prefers the ground over the peddles. While the girls were both on two-wheelers with training wheels by now (and Rebecca was learning without training wheels by 3.5 years), I don't see him on a two-wheeler this summer ... next year. Matthew likes the pool but does not really swim in it. He tends to dip himself in for a few minutes and then come to get his towel and housecoat to warm up ... and then promptly strip and put his clothes on. I can not get him into the idea of just playing in his bathing suit so he can go back in the pool again. He goes for his dip and that's enough. Everynow and then he gets into the pool and actually plays and "swims", dipping his head under and playing with the girls. It's neat to watch him when he does actually get into it.

And then there is Muddy, the dog. When Matthew goes outside Muddy must be lose and out of his pen. Matthew will ask about Muddy as soon as he asks to go outside. If Muddy has to stay in the pen for some reason then Matthew doesn't want to go out. The two do not play together all the time, but are often close together. Matthew just prefers Muddy's company. Muddy does tolerate pretty much everything that Matthew does to him. I often worry when I see Matthew bouncing on Muddy or riding his bike into the dog that Muddy will suddenly turn and pounce, but there seems to be a bond between the two. It's neat to see and I hope it stays that way.

Well I'm sure I can go on and on with things that are significant to Matthew at this age, but for now this will suffice and at least I have something written down to remind me of my little three year old. Oh they grow so fast!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

35 Months, 1 Week

Matthew is three weeks shy of his third birthday in this picture. While I don’t usually tend to focus too much on dates, the significance of this date did bring some deep thoughts and memories. James passed away, three weeks shy of his third birthday.

A couple days before this picture was taken Matthew wanted to be snuggled to sleep. I’m a little easy going when it comes to our youngest, especially since I love snuggling with him and know my days are limited in this area. I am thankful that he is still such a good snuggler at such an age. And so we snuggled. He was a sleep in minutes, but I snuggled and held my boy and thought about how he was almost 35 months and 1 week old.

I know that Matthew has surpassed James in size a long time ago (shortly after he turned 2), but I always had trouble wrapping my head around the idea that Matthew was physically bigger then James. I still felt James was bigger. James always seemed so much bigger because he seemed so much more mature ... I forgot that physically he was so small. Then Matthew began to talk ... and talk, and talk. He had surpassed James in another area. James was delayed in his speech. We understood each other great, he was making progress, but realistically he was behind. It was sometimes hard to see the joy in knowing that Matthew did not struggle with speech problems, because then that meant I had to accept that again Matthew had surpassed James. Slowly it became more and more obvious that Matthew was far more advanced then James had been. Of course, James has been tied up to tubes and cords making it difficult for him to do a lot of things. But whatever the excuses I made for James I had to slowly begin to accept that Matthew was growing bigger then his big brother. But there was one thing he had not yet surpassed James in ... his age.

There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted Matthew to surpass James in this area, but it was like another big huge stamp that said "James is gone!!" Oh don’t get me wrong, I know James is gone, I have accepted this. But now it’s hard to think of James as Matthew’s big brother, or even Matthew’s older brother. Matthew is bigger then James was, and soon he would be older then James was too.

I held Matthew tight that night and cried for the first time in a long time. I cried because I never got the chance to snuggle with James at the end of his life like I can (and do whenever possible) with Matthew. I never even got to hold James for the last weeks of his life, being intubated meant it was far too painful for James to move. He didn’t want to be held, even though I would have loved to hold him. But he didn’t understand that his days of being held by his mom were coming to an end. The weeks before James was intubated I don’t recall holding him either. He had moved to a big hospital bed which he was quite proud of ... so proud of that he declared it his own spot and didn’t really like anyone else to hang out on the bed ... unless he was playing somewhere else. The chair that the hospital provided was far from the kind that made for good cuddling (I used to complain about Mac’s chairs, but these were much worse - hospitals need lazyboys!!) so I was content not to snuggle. If I had only known!! That constant feeling and thought ... If I had only known!! I really don’t recall much snuggling with James those last months of his life.

I cried because I missed missing James. I mourned because we had stopped mourning for James. I have mourned our mourning for some time, but it really hit that night. Life was moving on at an unbelievable pace and it was leaving James further and further behind. He is getting so far behind that I can’t remember the little details anymore. I can’t hear his voice, I can’t even remember some of his common phrases from his limited vocabulary. My memory is fading when it comes to the things that made James so James and so special. The details of his illness have faded, even worse, that awful feeling in the stomach from missing him is gone, it has been gone for some time. Isn’t it awful when one misses feeling awful and feeling sad. It’s a sense of feeling as if I no longer love James. But really, I cannot love what is no longer here. I loved him while he was here and I fondly remember as much as I can about my love for him, but he is no longer here to continue to love. While our initial mourning period may be over ...although I’m not sure if it really is ever over ... I know I will continue to mourn for James in a different manner for a long time. And even when I’m not mourning in the sense of the sadness and overwhelming grief that we came to know mourning as ... I will never ever forget James. He continues to appear in our lives at the most unexpected times, whether it be a visit back to the hospital (altho that’s not really an unexpected time), the beep of someone else feeding pump that catches us off guard, the sound of a fan that reminds us of the sound of his feeding pump, the sight or sound of an oxygen tank, seeing a child on a ride-on car just like "James’ car", a stroller that is just like James’, a noise that sounds like the hospital monitors, and sometimes it’s something that you would never think of that throws you back into the life of James. No James hasn’t really left us, our thoughts are still in tune with his life, even if it’s not as prominent as before. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I shall never forget James, even if I do forget some of the smaller details. But other times it feels like those smaller details are the important ones and I struggle to bring them back to life.

I also cried for the love that I have for Matthew and the girls. I cried because it took losing a child to really teach me how to value my children and the time I have with them. It taught me about making the most of each day because tomorrow they may be gone ... or I may be gone. I’m afraid even though I want to make the most of it I often still find myself "too busy" for the kids, but at the same time I don’t think that making the most of your time with your kids means dropping everything all the time to take them everywhere or even just to play with them. While I love my kids and I love my time with them, I am still the adult in the house who has work to do and they are still the children (who also have work to do :) who have the time to play. I wish I would drop stuff more often to play ball with them, take them for a walk or a bike ride, do crafts, etc. I regret that I still am not the best at that. But on the other side I know that I value far more staying in touch with them, chatting with them, letting them know I love them, or how I feel. I have relaxed in many ways when it comes to stringent routine and rather just go with the flow and not always be so particular ... altho many times I miss the stringent particular ways :) Our life hasn’t become more frivolous but my focus has become more on my kids needs. I look at how I raise Matthew and I wish I could start all over with the other kids. I realize he’s my fourth and we all raise our fourth differently then our first. I also realize that my girls have suffered none from how they were raised, but I often wish I had truly realize and appreciated my first kids as much as I do watching Matthew grow up. I cannot explain this difference, although I’m sure that those who have lost of child themselves probably know what I’m talking about ... it’s not the same as the difference between a first and a later child ... it’s the difference between truly knowing that God can take you or this child at any time. I am sure there is not a day that goes by that Matthew does not hear me tell him that I love him. That I don’t just pick him up and smother him with kisses and tell him how much I love him. That I don’t ask him for a hug and tell him how much he means to me. He’s little I can still do this, as he grows it will be harder. I tell my girls also, but not near as much ... and for some funny reason they don’t like being smothered with kisses :) I have the advantage that I’m not running after three little ones at the same time ... Matthew is spoiled, I realize this. I can drop down on the floor to build him his train track each day, or spend 5-10 minutes a few times a day reading him stories, etc. he doesn’t have to share this time with other little ones clamoring for attention. I cherish these times, and struggle with them as I see him getting bigger and bigger and realize my cuddly, snuggly, little boy will soon be grown up :)

And I cried out of thankfulness. I will never ever forget those days after James first died. Those days when Matthew first came home again. Here was my son, but who was he? I didn’t know him, I never really had known him. We missed the first four months of Matthews life. Sure he lived in our house those first two months, but I have little recollection of those times, and of course what I do remember is the not so good stuff. I remember a little boy who would be good in the mornings when I had help in the house and then would cry all afternoon and evening when my help was gone. I remember spending the afternoon while James was napping in the lazy boy trying to keep Matthew quiet and asleep with the hope of catching a few minutes zzz ... I don’t even remember where Rebecca was during the times she wasn’t in school, probably playing quietly like she was so good at. I remember wearing Matthew in the Snuggli to try keep him quiet. I remember Marietta sometimes trying to sit with him, but not having the patience for it. I remember him sleeping in the lazy boy with Rob in the evenings so I could have my hands free for a while. I remember buying umpteen different bottles to try find one that he could drink out better and not be so gassed up, hoping this would ease his crying. (We finally found a good one - Dr. Brown bottles). I remember that even though this helped with some of the gas, it didn’t help with the crying and fussiness. I remember trying different formulas to see if that would help, also with the constipation. I remember feeding him prune juice every day to keep him from being constipated. I’m afraid my first memories of Matthew are not very clear and the ones I do remember are not very joyful. And then I remember packing him up one evening and saying good-bye to him, having no idea when I would see him again or when he would return to me. That image remains clear in my mind.

And then Matthew came home again nine weeks later. I remember that clearly too. He still wasn’t a very happy child, he still needed to be held and snuggled lots. But I couldn’t come to love him like a mother should. I couldn’t come to the terms that he was my child. I knew he was mine, but I didn’t have the attachment to him that I should. I was quite content to let Rob take care of him while I went out and about catching up on things and with people. He wasn’t dependent on me like my other children, he had survived two months without me. Daddy is just as good as mom. But somehow Matthew didn’t think so. Slowly he began to refuse to take the bottle from Rob, he wanted his mom. How he knew I was mom was beyond me, but he knew and that was who he wanted. I still remember sitting there with him one night, thinking how I should feel more attached to him and love him more, telling myself that in time it would come, but also thinking that I could never love anyone as much as I loved James. James meant everything to me and I would not let anyone replace him. I have really begun to realize how many different forms of love there are. I love Rob a different way then I love my girls, I love my girls a different way then I love Matthew, and I love each of those girls in their own way. I loved James immensely as a child who was dependent on his mother for most of his needs. My life had been devoted to James and his needs and at that time I could not imagine devoting my love or life to anyone as much as I did to James. In my mind loving Matthew would mean taking away from my love for James. I figured I would come to love Matthew, but never the same a James, I could never feel so much love for another child.

There is no lack of love for Matthew in this house, whether from myself or his sisters or his father. I don’t remember how long it took to become attached to my Matthew, but I don’t think it took much more then a month or so. My attachment to him at first was a little more reserved, but with time I was ready to throw my love into this special miracle that God had blessed us with. While we had thought the timing of a new baby to be terrible, God knew that this was the perfect time. While we may have missed the first months of his life, we have been able to enjoy the next months and years of his life so immensely that those first months do not matter. Again I am confront with the thoughts on how love works. Is my love for James less? Is it gone? There are times I feel a sense of guilt that I can continue to love Matthew, Rebecca, and Marietta but not feel that strong love for James anymore. Love seems to be something that must be fed and worked with in order to continue in a strong manner. Now James is someone we remember. It’s hard to know what those feelings for him are. I know there is still love there, I know I don’t love him any less now, but that love is not a strong intense love that can be satisfied with hugs and kisses, words and actions ... and so it feels empty at times and it brings sadness because it is again an accepting that James is in the past and we have gone forward with our lives here on earth.

It was a good cry that evening. Sometimes after you cry you still feel empty and lost, but this time it was just refreshing to take that time to think and ponder and then go forward again. I miss James and I miss missing James, but I realize that God has given us the life we have now and so we can move forward in our service to him and not cling to the past.

We strive to be like Paul (but so often we fail):
"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances ... I can do everything through him who gives me strength" Philippians 4:11, 13

"But now, Lord, who do I look for? My hope is in you." Psalm 39: 7

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Marietta's 10th Birthday

On July 14 our oldest reached the double digits. Oh, how time flies!

Marietta decided to just have one friend over for a sleepover this year. She dearly misses her friend Kelsie from our old place and so Kelsie came and slept over for a couple days.

We had a quiet morning and then in the afternoon we went to the beach for a couple hours and then mini-golfing. The girls had only been mini-golfing once before and that was a number of years ago (2006). Usually we find it overpriced for the entertainment it is since kids tend to lose interested half way through. But they enjoyed the whole time and we discovered that the local mini-golf is only $1 per person on Wednesday ... and wouldn't you know, Marietta's birthday was on Wednesday.

Ten years old, but not too big to enjoy the park yet. They especially liked the teeter-tooters/see-saws since those are not found at today's newer more safety conscious parks.

Marietta had a bit of a chuckle at this present from Rebecca. Rebecca found it at the thrift store and gave it to Marietta for her playing with her dolls (and it's already been put to good use ... not too big to play house yet). The bottle is full of various baby items - bottle, soother, brush, bowl, cup, etc. Also on this picture is Marietta's own Little House on the Prairie Set. Both girls received their own set this year for their birthdays. As well Marietta received the Rose Years set. Now we have the majority of the Little House Books, the ones we are missing are hard to get, especially in the unabridged version, which is no longer being printed.

A new comforter for her bed.

Marietta had a few picks when it came to her birthday cake this year. She wanted a pig, cow or sheep ... you think she was a country girl or something (really, she spends very little time outside, but does love animals). We went with the sheep. Although it was not her intent, we called him Shaun the Sheep (check the link to better understand). We have never watch the show, but some brainy guys who were supposed to be studying "introduced" (in a round about way) us to the games and since then the girls love to play it. So all I know is the games, and cannot say good or bad about the actual show.

Hmmm ... I think that says she has two boyfriends :) She has not disclosed who they are :)

Yup, our Marietta is getting big. Unfortunately she does not always like the add responsibilities of being older, but at the same time she can be a very responsible and grown up little girl. Marietta loves to cook and bake, but hates the other household chores that she has the privilege of helping with :) She also has a love for gardening, watching things grow and reaping the rewards of the growth (this has been from a very young age). She was rather disappointed that her garden did not grow well this year ... except for the zucchini, we'll have enough zucchini to last us about five years :) It took some time for Marietta to learn the responsiblity of having a pet, but she seems to have caught on now and loves her rabbit Thumper very much. She is often asking to add another pet to our collection, but there is no room for more pets ... at least not indoors, and she doesn't like the idea of outdoor rabbits. She wanted to raise chicken and sell eggs, but the cost of building a proper home for them outweighed the savings that came with having them. She would love to get a finch, but there is no room indoors. For now she spends her time with Thumper and Muddy ... and we have promised an outdoor cat or two again (we had two, one got run over the other went wandering and never returned) someday ... we're thinking once Muddy is a bit more calm (will that every happen?). Yup, she loves animals.

But her love for animals does not mean she has a love for the outdoors, she is more like her mother that way. Usually found indoors and preferrably vegging with a book or sitting behind the computer. Computer time is limited and mom is always reminding her that she has to finish her work before she can sit down to read. Also like her mother is her love for photography. She loves to take pictures, especially of nature and recently has started figuring out how to "fix them up" on the computer. Marietta also enjoys making cards and if she had more printed pictures would probably spend more time scrapbooking. For now she is more into cardmaking, but this usually goes in spurts and she enjoys it much more if mom sits down and does it with her. When she does sit down and put her mind to it she can do a good job at it and I often leave the responsibility of making cards in her capable hands. Definitely not an outdoors girl, most of her hobbies and likes are indoor things.

Always so hard to believe how fast time flies by. I have such vivid memories of that day she was born and it hard to believe it was so long ago already. Don't even want to imagine what the next 10 will bring!