December 31, 2013

Top 10 of 2013

I feel ashamed.  I really do.  I usually do our annual Top 10 of the previous year on New Year's Eve (once I think I did it on New Year's Day, but dated it so that it at least looked like New Year's Eve*...).  This year we are almost 2 weeks into the new year and no Top 10 post.  I almost decided not to do it at all.  I just couldn't find the time to go through every post, and write down my favorites, and cut out all but 10, and then rate them in the order of my favorite.  But I found myself with some "free" time tonight (read: I was tired and I didn't want to clean or exercise), so I decided to do the Top 10 post, but do it differently.  This year it isn't MY personal Top 10, it is the Top 10 posts based on how many times they were viewed.

That's right.  Blogger tells me how often you** click on and read each post. 

So here are the Top 10 most viewed posts of 2013 (click on the underlined, highlighted portion to go to each post):

10.  The Greatest Show on Earth - Our trip to the Big Top with Poppy, Nana, & the Beauties.
9. Another Week of Thankfulness - The most recent of the bunch and part of our 30 Days of Thankfulness.  Some of my favorite memories of the year!
8. April Snapshot - I love the snapshots too!  And you've gotta love a post that ends with both of them crying...
7. April Showers - A kind of random assortment of activities and interesting things that kept us busy during a very rainy April.
6. Cousin Sleepover - Truly one of my favorite weekends of the year.  I had so much fun with these 4 kiddos!
5. Bits of Tid: Preschool Edition - I love this one too.  Especially the videos of them reading.  They've been making even more books lately, and it is so much fun.  Is anyone else obsessed with how amazing it is to watch a child learn to read?!
4. Where Have We Been? - This should probably be the title of all my recent posts *hangs head in shame*  Now that Lucas doesn't have his class, we haven't been staying in-town each week.  I sort of miss our afternoon adventures!
3. The Mama & The Slipper: A Story of Love & Temporary Insanity - Ah, the lengths a mother will go to (and the temporary insanity that it my cause) to make their children's dreams a reality!  Funny story, I was in the preschool to take pictures and discovered that Allie wasn't wearing her slippers anymore!  Apparently, they are allowed to just wear their socks, and she liked skipping the step of putting the slippers on, so she just went without.  After all that work...
2.  Camping - This was definitely at the top of our list too.  Allie and Ryan started reminiscing in the van just a few days ago about our camping trip.  Allie told me all of the details of the "Bear Hunt," and Ryan talked about going fishing (and not catching any fish...wah, wah).  And I love, love, love the video of Allie singing her "Bike Ride" song.  True story - we went a lot more bike rides, and she sang the song at some point on almost every single one!
1. The Lake House - Truthfully, I'm not sure what happened here.  a normal post gets between 13-20 views.  The high posts were in the 50-60 range.  A few posts got near the 100 view range because I posted the link on facebook.  But this post got 453 views.  Over 300 more than the #2 post.  I can't help but wonder if something went wrong here (or if we somehow ended up in the top of the google search results for bee allergies...or something worse...).  Honestly, we look back on this week as one of the most traumatic of the year.  But there were so many blessings.  Finding out that Allie was allergic to bees when we were there to take action and had lots of Benadryl on hand.  Having friends in the medical profession who answer their texts right away - and amazing technology that lets the confidently diagnose from miles, and hours, away.  A fun night together at a hotel (not something we do often).  School shopping with the kiddos to kill time (they got to pick out the clothes - and those pieces are still their favorites!)  A wonderful time at the end of the week with Uncle Duck & Aunt Debbie.  A wonderful reminder for the year to come that in the midst of life's most stressful moments, there are still some amazing silver linings!

Finally, to keep up with the (newer) tradition of including some photos (and to try to atone for taking SO long to get up the Top 10 post), here are some photos of the twins on New Year's Eve.
 Lucas bought a New Year's Eve party kit at a garage sale this past summer for $0.50.  I thought it was a silly purchase at the time, but when he pulled it out and I saw the hats, cups, plates, napkins, beaded necklaces, and party blowers all still in plastic wrapping I agreed it was a great idea!
The kids loved the party blowers, but they had to stop with them once the cousins arrived because the youngest Beauty was already sleeping.
The "older" cousins got a special movie night in the twins' room - complete with a special cozy spot to snuggle in and special snacks!  The hope was that they would fall asleep watching the movie.  They didn't.  While they did not get to stay up to ring in the new year, they did get to stay up much closer than I would have normally allowed.  The perks of a cousin sleepover!
My favorite thing about this post is that I look back and really see how amazing the past year has been.  It makes me excited for a new year full of new experiences, adventures, and memories.  Here's to an amazing 2014!

* I'm totally going to date this post so that it looks like it was posted on December 31st too!  My OCD  just can't allow me to have this post in a NEW YEAR when it has been the closing post of every other year...

**It doesn't tell me how often you personally click on each post...just how many times someone somewhere has clicked on each post.  No worries.  I'm not spying and/or keeping track!

December 30, 2013

A Miller Christmas Carol

Oops.  Somehow I missed documenting all of Christmas.  It was a busy December...So, here it is in short form with Christmas Carol Titles:

"See Amid the Winter's Snow"
We drove 2 hours to see live reindeer and all Allie wanted to do was make snow angels (we didn't have any snow near us yet)
"The Friendly Beasts"
Everyone got a chance to pet "Prancer."
"5 Little Christmas Trees"
The twins School program.  Ignore the crazy eyes.  Taking pictures from far away and needing the flash means really strange red-eye corrections...
 "Les Anges dans nos campagnes"
Since their school director is Canadian, several of the songs were in french.
"Jolly Old Saint Nicholas"

 "Christmas Train"

 "Do You Hear What I Hear?"
Waiting for the Puppet Show.
 As usual, not sure about the (friendly) in the puppet show.
"Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer"
The church Christmas Program "Christmas Around the World."
 "Oh Christmas Tree"
Ryan essentially sang a solo.
 "Santa Lucia"
Following the lead of the older girls, Allie sang so quietly no one could hear.
 "Joy to the World!"
I love my little carolers!
"It's Christmas Day"
 "Christmas Present"
 "We Three Kings"
Or 2 Super Heroes and a Princess...

"Silent Night"
While the adults finished dinner, the twins snuggled on the couch with their new Curious George book and read together for longer than we all expected!
Our Christmas was wonderful.  Full of more stories and adventures than I could even recount (like the night when we housed 13 people and 1 dog due to an ice storm that knocked out the power at Lucas' brother's).  One of the best I can remember.  We hope yours were all the same, and here's to a few more posts in the new Year!

December 08, 2013

Clearing the Card

The memory card, that is.  As promised, here are some of the pictures from our Thanksgiving and Post-Thanksgiving Adventures
Ryan making the Apple Pie.  He did most of the work for the apple pie filling (and some of the crust).
(Watching Curious George while the grown up watch football/cook).
Getting our tree.
The wagon ride out to the lot with the trees we wanted...which ended up being far from the lot with the trees we wanted...but Ryan's favorite part nonetheless.
Allie found this stick and called it her "reindeer costume." I was unable to get a picture the rest of the day without her holding that in front of her face.
Not wanting to squash their eagerness to help, I sorted all of the breakable ornaments out and let them decorate with the rest.  Completely squashing my natural inclination to control (and thereby squash their eagerness), I let them decorate as they wanted with minimal input.

They even got to use the step stool so they could reach more of the tree (since, thankfully, the majority of our ornaments are relatively unbreakable).

And a few outtakes from our attempt at a classic "Picture in Front of the Tree"
The "Don't-Mess-With-Our-Tree" look.  Serious and Menacing.
"The Stinker"
Note: He is not doing what it might look like in this picture.  He was sort of dancing around, and she was making pretend mustaches with her finger...and then we ended  up with this gem where he lifted his leg while her finger was still up by her nose...
December came on fast and furious.  We've been doing our best to pare down and say no to anything that causes undue stress...but we've still been crazy busy.  I will certainly do my best to post, but first I have to remember to take my camera with me (which I haven't done for any of our December adventures yet...)!

December 01, 2013

From Thanks...

And with a's all over.  How could the month have gone that quickly?
We left our month of Thankfulness with a little hesitation.  Of course, the month that is to come is one of our favorite of the entire year.  But we all seemed to enjoy documenting our gratitude.  I'm thinking Thanksgiving in June might need to become a real thing...
Twinner photography.
Allie trying to capture the moving bus.
Ryan captures the front of a pickup.
November 22:
Ryan: Mommy. Seriously, for all of the kisses I gave him every time he said me, and for as much as he claims to hate kisses, one would think he might have stopped saying me.  But he didn't.  Love that boy.
Allie: Ryan.  Apparently, she loves him too :)
Me: Productivity.  Not only was the holiday officially a week away, but the next day we were having this big fundraising carnival/festival for the twins preschool.  And since our church has one, and I have lots of experience, I volunteered to help...more than I anticipated actually.  I had a lot of things to cross off my list, and (with a lot of help from Lucas who kept the kiddos occupied) I was able to finish them all!
Allie is taken with a grouping...
 ...while this one captures Ryan's attention.
November 23:
Ryan: My Treats.  The prize bags at the Preschool Festival were awesome.  Filled with lots of treats - both candy and some cool little toys!  My kiddos were thrilled for sure.
Allie: Ryan.  She's consistent.
Me: An Awesome Fall Festival.  The girl who organized it was amazing and organized and things went so smoothly.  Lots of people came.  Everyone had fun.  Setup and cleanup were a breeze.  And we raised more money than we had hoped!  Way more!  More than double what we were hoping to raise!
My picture of them taking a picture.  It shouldn't come as a surprise that they love taking pictures of each other taking pictures...
November 24:
Ryan: Mommy.  I was beat out by treats the night before, but apparently they only hold their appeal for so long :)
Allie: Mickey Gummies.  These are their gummy vitamins.  They had just finished a jar of Monsters U Gummy Vitamins, and picked out new Mickey Mouse gummies.  Opening a new jar of gummies is very exciting.
Me: Worship Service.  I lead the Children's Church program at our church.  It only happens every other week because otherwise I would never get to be in the worship service.  With the twins being sick the last Sunday I was supposed to have "off," and us adding an impromptu CC the time before that I was supposed to be "off," it had been a while since I had been able to be in church for the entire service.  I love getting to sing all of the songs, hear the sermon, and be part of the special time of welcoming new members!  I LOVE doing the Children's Ministry, but sometimes it feels good to be part of the grown up worship service!
The pictures they captured while I was taking their picture...
November 25:
Ryan: Mommy.  On this night he told me that he would be thankful for me every night for the rest of the month.  Aw.
Allie: Racey & Mickey Mouse.  Our fish.  The twins have been trying to teach them "tricks."  They are convinced their fish listen.  I think the fish just tend to do the same thing when they think they are going to be fed...which is any time someone comes near their tank...
Me: Baking.  Now, a smart person would use their last full day before company arrives to clean...I chose to use it making a gigantic mess.  I was a bread baking fiend and pumped 11 loaves out (some to give to the teachers at the preschool, some to freeze for later).  In my defense, at the time I was making the bread I didn't know for sure that company was arriving the next day...but even if it had I would have probably still done the same thing!
They were obsessed with pictures of the inside of mailboxes (the part for the papers, I did not let them open the neighbors' actual mailboxes!)
Once I saw these pictures large and on our screen, I was completely freaked out by the giant nest in the back corner.  I'm thankful it was cold enough that we didn't disturb any stinging creatures!
November 26:
Ryan: Nana & Poppy.  Nana & Poppy arrived today.
Allie:  Nana & Poppy.  We were all very excited.
Me: Nana & Poppy.  They weren't sure until that very morning that they were going to make it down that day, but it ended up working out!  They came down early so they could catch the twins' swim lessons.  It was fun to have the "surprise" extra day with them!
Allie was obsessed with getting parts of signs.
November 27:
Ryan: Pie I Made.  I'm glad he is proud of his accomplishments.  And he did do the majority of the work for the apple pie we made for the next day.   But has anyone else noticed that I lost my place?
Allie: Nana & Poppy.  Another great day with the grandparents!
Me: Fun & Productive Day.  We went shopping and picked up some Christmas gifts.  We went shopping and picked up some much needed items to fix some things in our house.  We went to the library and returned our (soon to be overdue) books and picked up the books we needed to round out our Book Advent Calendar.  We cooked up a storm and put together all of the main dishes for the next day so that all I needed to do was pop them into the oven when the time came.  And we played games and enjoyed some fun time with Nana & Poppy.  Such a good day!
Ryan was focused on the construction site and all ofthe vehicles!
November 28:
Ryan: Thanksgiving.  He loved it all - the family visiting, the fun playing with cousins, the Curious George movie we got from the library for the cousins to watch when the grown ups were all busy, the food, the desserts...EVERYTHING.
Allie: Thankful Tree.  She loves our fun activity to record our thankfuls, and seemed to really get that it all centered around the holiday.  It was so fun that it really all tied together for her this year!
Me: Time with family.  My brother, his wife, and a friend of their from Spain stopped in for a bit.  Nana & Poppy were there, of course.  And Lucas' brother, his wife, and their 2 girls came for the day.  I enjoyed the time with all of them.  I loved hanging out and watching football.  I loved catching up on each other's lives.  I loved cooking - for them and with them.  I loved hearing the kids laugh together (and even scream together - as long as they were screams of delight).  I loved it all.  By 6:30, everyone was gone and I walked through my empty, clean house and thought, "It went to fast."  It never feels like enough time...I wonder if it ever will...
Allie trying to get a picture of nature.
November 29:
Ryan: Tractor Ride.  We went to pick out our Christmas tree and the farm where we go takes you out to the field to get your tree in a wagon pulled by a tractor.  This was Ryan's favorite part.  Unfortunately, they took us to the wrong place and where we wanted to be was so close to the main building that we didn't get to ride it back.  Thankfully, we didn't realize it in the beginning and got the ride at all!
Allie: Cinderella.  My theory is that she was trying to think of something and turned to see the Cinderella magnet on the fridge.  Perhaps it is her Cinderella doll that she sometimes sleeps with at night.  Regardless, she loves Cinderella. 
Me: Tree Trimming.  I think this might have been the least stressful tree year ever.  I'm not sure what made the difference.  We got the tree and set it up.  I strung the lights and it went quickly.  Then I let the twins hang up all the ornaments that weren't breakable.  I even let them use the step stool so they could cover more of the tree.  I only decorated the top 1/3 of the tree (with the breakable ornaments).  Maybe that's why.  Then, even though it was already bedtime, we put on our fireplace dvd (it makes me SO sad that the twins will never remember when we lived in the house that had a REAL fireplace) and made hot chocolate (with lots of yummy add-ins because we had marshmallows and whip cream left over from Thanksgiving and candy canes that were from Nana).  We drank our hot chocolate in front of the "fire" with only our tree lights lighting the room.  The perfect start to the Christmas season!
 November 30:
Ryan: Mommy & Daddy.  Aw.
Allie: My Family.  Another Aw!
Me: Ryan & Allie.  I don't know if it was because we were charting the month through our thankfuls, or if it was because the holidays are upon us, or if it was because of our busy schedule, but the month flew by.  Faster than believable.  And I found myself thinking, "It's gone.  An entire month gone."  Those moments when I become so aware of how quickly time is passing are so bittersweet.  They remind me to stop.  To savor.  To really enjoy every moment.  But they remind me that so many moments are gone, and the rest will go by more quickly than I want.  I am so thankful for Ryan and Allie.  For all of the joy, laughter, adventure, and love they bring to every day.  Being their mommy is amazing, and I am thankful for every single moment.

And thus ends our month of Thankfulness.  Hopefully, our attitude of gratitude will extend far into the month of December.
Note: I do have pictures of many of the events and adventures mentioned above, but, due to our busy schedule of late, they are still in my camera.  So I will post them later.  And more of Allie's pictures are featured than Ryan's because Ryan - thinking he was "sending" pictures to all of his friends, deleted most of the pictures he took...

November 22, 2013

Settling Into an Attitude of Gratitude

November 14
Me: Preschooler Praise.  Thursday was full of so many amazing moments for which I am thankful.  But two completely stand out.  The first was actually the last of the day.  We were reading our Bible at bedtime when Ryan asked, "Does this have the story where Jesus dies?"  I told him it was and asked if he feels sad when Jesus dies.  He nodded, and we launched into a talk about why Jesus died, and how much He loves us, and how He didn't stay dead, and how he "killed" death so that all of us can live eternally with Him.  We talked about what Heaven might be like (Allie is sure there will be lots of yummy bacon), and if we will miss our life on Earth when we are there.  I was amazed by their insight, and the deep things they think about, and the big things that they totally get.  But my favorite moment of the day?  Allie was sitting at the piano, I was making dinner at the stove.  She says, "Mommy, I wrote a song.  Would you like to hear?"  Of course!  She starts gently tinkling the keys and singing about Jesus, and how much He loves us, and how He gives her every good thing (like Mommy and Daddy).  Cooking with original Preschooler Praise in the background - best part of my day!
Allie: Mrs. Ann.  We had a church meeting at our house.  One of the women was here for the meeting as the twins were doing their thankfuls.  We recently were at her house for dinner, and I think she became one of their favorite people.  So Allie was thankful for her, and she was honored.
Ryan: The Number 8.  Honestly, I was completely thrown.  As I wrote it on his little handprint, I nonchalantly  asked, "Why the number 8?"  He responded, "Because it is SO amazing!"  Still confused, but wanting to understand, I asked, "What, specifically, makes it amazing?"  He answered, "It is 2 circles on top of each other!  Isn't that amazing!"  Yes!  How did I not see it before?  Thank you, God, for the enthusiasm of a preschooler that opens my eyes to the amazing-ness of a number!
Ryan's School Picture
November 15
Me: My Husband.  It was a rough week.  It started with the kids being sick (and me getting sleepless nights as a result).  And then I got slammed with a migraine that I couldn't completely shake, but I had to take pictures at the preschools and we had meetings at our house almost every night.  By Friday, I was sort of shot.  And Friday is my day with the kids.  My one day where we have no other commitments.  Usually, we try to clean a little in the morning and then bake or do craft projects or go on a local adventure in the afternoon - simple, fun things together.  On this day, I was so drained from the week that we didn't do anything special (except watch a movie...or two...because that was all I could handle).  Then Lucas came home and made dinner and took care of bedtime and cleaned up.  Being rescued by a knight in shining armor sure looks different after you have kids...
Allie & Ryan: I KNOW we did the thankful hands this day, but later I could not find them anywhere on the tree!  And I cannot remember what they said.  Boo.  If/when I find them, I will update.
Allie's School Picture
November 16
Me: A Clean Craft Room.  If you've been to my house, you probably haven't seen my craft room.  When I create, things tend to get scattered...everywhere...  And, since I'm not naturally crafty, once I'm finished I'm SO finished with the whole project that I walk away...and never clean it up.  It doesn't take many projects for my craft room to become a disaster, and then I cease to create because the room is too messy for me to find the things I need.  Saturday morning, I settled into the new project I have taken over for Lucas - the bills.  I was deep in a sea of receipts, statements, and bills that I was sorting, paying, and filing.  Lucas comes in and says, "It makes me smile to know that you are doing something I hate and I'm doing something you hate."   Lucas was downstairs cleaning and organizing my craft room!  He needed some help later, but it looks so amazing.  I can't wait to create!
Allie: Ryan.  She loves her brother.  So much.  For school pictures, they had to say what they wanted to be when they grew up.  Ryan said "Astronaut."  Ever since, he and Allie have been discussing what that separation will be like when he is in Space, how much they will miss each other, and how they will make it until he comes home.
Ryan: Baby Lightning.  Yet another member of his Lightning McQueen "family" for which he is thankful.  This happened to be one that he had lost and found again while cleaning his room.  So perhaps he is also thankful for Mommy making him clean up?
When I Grow Up I Want To Be...
November 17
Me: Food and Nourishment for my family.  So basic, but I am truly thankful for our "daily bread."  We went grocery shopping, and I had been working on using up what was in our freezer and pantry so things were getting pretty low.  Our budget it relatively small, and we had to restock a lot of items, but we worked it and really stretched it for all it was worth.  Once home, I was amazed at, and grateful for, the bounty before me.  We not only had food, but truly nourishing food - an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein laden meat and cheese, and even organic snacks for the kids - rather than some of the inexpensive yet nourishment-lacking foods that I know fill the pantries of far more families than I would like to admit.  Families whose budgets are far less than ours and who truly cannot afford anything more.  And then I thought of the many people who barely have enough to keep them going.  I've read that 45% of the world's population live on $2 a day or less.  We had friends who spent a year in the Philippines and spent a couple weeks living on $2 a day - like the majority of their neighbors.  On their blog, they showed pictures of their meager meals and talked about the things they gave up in order to just buy the food they needed for the day.  It brought the numbers to life, and left me thinking of the people living in those circumstances often.  Yet, here we are, having enough to not only buying food for our family, but for the youth group that eats here on Sunday evenings...and for church potluck...and to host family for the holidays.  In a society where it is so easy to be convinced that we don't have much, it is wonderful to be reminded how abundantly we are truly blessed.
Allie: Ryan.  Lucas wanted to have a "no repeats" rule.  But I like seeing the recurring gratitude they have for people/things.  I especially love seeing her recurring gratitude for her brother.
Ryan: California Zephyr.  The train we rode on our train trip to Nebraska.  It might seem out of the blue, but they have been begging to take another train trip lately.  Clearly, riding the CZ is on his mind!
When I Grow Up I Want To Be...
November 18
Me: Kitchen Time with the Twins.  The twins LOVE helping in the kitchen.  Partly because of the awesome new skills they have been learning at preschool.  Partly because of the fun new cleaning products we got from Norwex.  Partly because of the time they get to spend doing "Grown Up" things.  On this particular day, we made pumpkin muffins (and then they got to clean up with a new Norwex rag that we love).  They helped me scrub dishes (after going to the store to get a second scrubby brush because they were fighting over who got to use the one to scrub).  They helped me chop onions (NOT my idea.  They used the Slap Chop, not knives.  And they got to chew gum for the first time ever - breaking the Mommy-made "No Gum Until You Are 5" rule - because it keeps the onions from making your eyes water.  For the record, it really, truly works!).  And they helped me make the sides for dinner.  Pretty much, anything I was doing, they wanted to help.  They are getting really good at these things too.
Allie: Mommy.  So sweet. I melt.  The night before, Ryan had an accident in bed and I rocked him while Lucas changed the sheets.  After he was in bed, we started hearing funny squeaks.  It was Allie.  She wanted to rock and snuggle with Mommy a little too. I, of course, didn't turn her down.  All too soon, rocking them will be just a memory.
Ryan: Bumble. His favorite friend.  Today he also asked me if Bumble was going to be in Heaven because he wasn't sure if he would like Heaven without Bumble.  Later, I told Lucas that Bumble is our family's Velveteen Rabbit:

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”   - The Velveteen Rabbit

November 19
Me: Shared Interest.  My children have had cameras for a while.  But the batteries ran out and we put them on a shelf until we bought new batteries, and the we forgot.  My children rediscovered them and begged for me to change the batteries.  I did, and immediately they wanted to go and take pictures.  The next thing I knew, we were outside taking pictures.  And then we were going on a walk to take pictures.  I loved seeing what caught their eye, and their pictures were really interesting.  I also loved the opportunity to play with my new lens (my Christmas present - early so I could use it for a project).  I love it.  And I love my mini-photographers.
Allie: Ryan.  Okay, this time she might have said Ryan because she was hoping he would say he was thankful for her in return.  Did he?
Ryan: Ruffster.  He did not.  Instead, he went with Ruffster the Super Dog.  Lightning McQueen's pet dog who apparently also has super powers.  Allie fully understood his choice...
November 20
Me: Fast Photo Editing.   I took the pictures for the twins' preschool.  I needed to edit and I knew that if I could just download a few preset actions, it would go a lot faster.  But I have never been successful at downloading actions.  After hours (seriously HOURS) of searching online, attempting one way and then another, and getting frustrated and walking away only to return shortly after to try again, I finally found instructions for my (old) version of Windows combined with my (old) version of PSE.  Actions successfully downloaded!  Lightning fast editing followed.  Of course, now to put all of those pictures together into the directory and then e-mail them to all of the parents...
Allie: Kelsey.  We were babysitting for a friend, and Allie adored having the little girl follow her around for the evening.
Ryan: Racey & Mickey Mouse.  Our fish.  In case you are wondering about Mickey Mouse, Gracie passed away early in the fall.  We were sad about the loss, but after an appropriate mourning period, we took Ryan to get a new fish.  He picked a gorgeous, blue fish that he named Mickey Mouse.  So far, so good.  All fish are healthy.  And Ryan is thankful for that and them tonight!
Allie's Picture
Ryan's Picture
November 21
Me: A Good, Long Walk.  Without going into a really long story - our adoption process has been antagonizing lately...or for about a month....or 2.  And most of the time, even though it has been an emotional roller coaster, I'm doing pretty well.  But every now and then something brings it all to the forefront.  Often, it is nothing even outwardly related to adoption, but it triggers an emotional response that I cannot control.  On this particular day, it was a brief conversation with their preschool teacher about changing their schedule next semester, if we are interested.  I managed to get out of the preschool without crying, but then the tears overflowed.  Even though it was cold (and raining a little) I knew I needed a good, long walk.  I went to a local park that has a fabulous walking trail, and walked several miles.  Sometimes crying (thankfully, because of the rain, I was mostly alone on the trail), sometimes praying, sometimes just reminding myself that it is okay to be emotional.  It was what I needed.  I left feeling peaceful, invigorated, uplifted, and ready to rationally face the decision presented.  So, today I'm thankful for the time that preschool gives me for exercise, prayer, and contemplation and the needed peace that time brought me.
Allie: Little Kids.  We've been doing a pre-Christmas purge - going through the toys and pulling some out to either 1) store for potential future siblings 2) sell 3) donate.  The stuffed animals we are donating to an organization that cleans them and then gives them to children undergoing traumatic situations.  Allie has been thinking a lot about these little kids.  This may have been more of a prayer than a thankful...
Ryan: Trains.  Both at home and at school.  Today, I picked him up just before he had completed putting together their train set.  Apparently, the one at school is bigger than ours at home.  I love my train-obsessed little man.