Cole's Bday, Part 2

The long awaited for Star Wars party finally came!  In a way, it was nicer to have it two weeks after Cole's actual birthday because the weather was way nicer so we got to be outside.  I'm so bummed because we didn't get a photo of the food at the party, but it was all Star Wars themed:  Yoda Soda, Darth's Dark Side Desserts (chocolate cupcakes) and Jedi Treats (vanilla cupcakes), Wookie Cookies, Chewie's Choice Caviar and plenty of other yummy treats. 

The Darth Vader candle made it's second appearance:

 Cole was thankful for many special gifts and I love this picture of him when he got to open the one he saw too soon at his best friend's house...oops!  He waited so patiently for two weeks and was thrilled when those Legos were finally his to keep. 

One of the most fun things was the Darth Vader pinata.  This one worked by pulling one ribbon at a time and only one of the many ribbons opened the trap door to let all of the candy fall out.  Apparently hitting your favorite character isn't the way to go anymore?  :)



A.J. - whose face really is behind all of that ribbon :) :
Matt was the winner!  I wish I got a shot of his face because the poor kid was so stunned when all of the candy fell out!  Once he saw what it was, though, he got busy packing up his goodie bag along with the rest of the kids!
Happy Birthday, Darth Vader!  There's truly no one like you.  :)

Cole's Bday, Part 1

It's not often you get to have two birthday parties.  It also might not be often that people get sick and have to reschedule holiday get-togethers.  But in our house, that's not uncommon one bit.  I can't count the number of things we've had to reschedule due to someone getting sick.  So when the girls took a turn for the worst the weekend of Cole's party, I figured it was just our family's luck.  There was the temptation to just cancel it overall, but not only was Cole looking forward to it for a long time, I was too!  There was a lot of work and heart put into his special day and I wasn't about to let that go to waste.  So for the first party, it was just a family party where we had Subway (his favorite because "it's healthy") ;) and Texas Sheetcake...not so healthy, but he was still okay with it.  :) 

 He got to open his present from Jake's parents and sister and exclaimed that he finally had a Leapster "just like Leto!"  His expression was so great.
We had to give him his present too...I was waiting way too long to get him a big boy bike which he wasn't too sure about at first.  However, by that evening, he was cruising around the driveway like nobody's business.  

 And can I just point incredible do his baby blues look in these pics?  I love them...and the boy who owns them!!!


If you asked me whether I thought there was anything cuter than chubby legs and ankles, I'd have to say no...

..except for chubby legs and ankles in Snow White heels.

  Now, there is nothing cuter.

Guess Who's 3??

We got to celebrate the girls' day on their actual birthday this year which seems to never happen.  We had a pizza party with all of our family...much to the girls' dismay.  They wanted a "cake party" and were all too concerned that there wouldn't be any cake in sight!  We did have cakes though, one for each of course.  

My big 3 year-old...the baby face is quickly fading.
Princess Aurora..I mean, Maurah...showing off how old she is...we're still working on getting that pinky and thumb to stay together.  :)
My favorite part of the night was singing Happy Birthday to each of them.  We sing it twice, for Maurah first since she's the oldest by a minute and then following up with Hayden's turn.  They sang along with us and when we got to their names, they gave the sweetest, most sincere smiles.  They were both SO excited we were singing to them.

This party, along with Cole's were so special because we got to have all of the cousins there before we moved to Wisconsin.  Being five hours away, we're not sure how many parties we'll be able to have together, but we can be pretty sure that both sides won't be able to make it at the same time very often.  We were savoring our time together.
This is the "Mom, can you stop taking pictures for one second?" look.  Nice, huh?
One of the sweetest gifts the girls received were knitted dolls from my Grandma.  As soon as Maurah opened hers, she whispered to Jake, "I want to sleep with her."  This was so sweet and my Grandma later told me that the name of the dolls is "Bed Buddies."  How perfect is that?

I love this picture of Hayden explaining how to feed her baby a bottle to my Dad...
Happy Birthday, Maurah and Hayden!  We love you!!


Okay, I'm finally getting caught up on my journaling about all that's happened.  Whatever happened to the month of March by the way?  Oh, that's came somewhere between the three birthday parties, tons of photo shoots and packing, right?  At least, I'm pretty sure it was in there somewhere!  

Well, one of the most fun things that happened in March is the twins and I got to go and have a girls' time and get our hair done together.  This is the very first, real haircut the girls have ever had.  It was about time at the age of 3!

Have I ever written about how the girls fall asleep?  They hold their stuffed elephants tight to them and roll their heads back and forth on their pillows.  And when I say "roll," I don't mean a gentle rocking.  No, this is what you'd see at a heavy metal concert!  Sometimes I can hear them all the way in the living room, they're rocking so hard.  I have no idea how they never gave themselves shaken baby syndrome.  One time, when we were living with Jake's parents in Michigan and Cole was sharing a room with the girls for a while, he yelled downstairs, "Mom!  You have to come here!  Something's wrong with Hayden...she's shaking in her bed!"  I laughed so hard, realizing he had never watched the girls fall asleep before.  They have done this ever since they were tiny babies in the NICU and could move their heads around.  It's one of their quirks that I love and hate all at the same time.  Why do I hate it?  Because I end up having to fight them while I'm tearing through their hair with a comb every morning amidst their wails that it hurts.  It's not fun for any of us.

Hence the need for a major haircut.  There are probably no 3 year-olds on this earth that had more split ends than my girls!  Let's just say that being gentle with the combing ended a long time ago and now it's just rushing to get that horrible task of the day over with!

I was so excited when Bobbi said she could cut the girls' hair for me, last minute, the day before their birthday.  Bobbi cut my hair growing up which is why it was so much fun to have her do the girls'.  They weren't too sure about it when I was having mine done but as soon as Bobbi told Maurah she'd give her a Princess cut and Hayden a Tinkerbell cut, they were all about it!

Hayden went first and sat so still, grinning the whole time.  She was so proud and such a big girl, I was so proud too!

 Maurah was up next and I laughed watching her.  That girl could not sit still if you promised her one hundred cookies!  Her faces had me cracking up and it was pretty obvious she enjoyed looking at herself in the mirror too. 
 This is my favorite from the day:

Bobbi rewarded the girls with Peanut M&Ms and we were both thrilled to see that their hair still held some curl, although it's disappearing quickly the older they get.  I've kept some of Hayden's curls in an envelope from a trim I gave her once but never got any of Maurah's, probably because I've never been able to truly put scissors to her beautiful hair...which doesn't get as tangled as Hayden's, hence Hayden having shorter hair.  Now we're ready to party!

It's About Time We've Had An Update!'s naptime and I'm settling into my seat at the computer, ready to write again.  Because I treat this blog as our family journal, I get sad when I'm not keeping up with it as I'd like to.  I feel like I'm missing all of these great memories we're making and THAT is something I'm not a fan of!

I might start this post off by saying that this is the first of many writings I will be doing in our new home of Wisconsin!  Isn't that exciting?!?  I am so thrilled to finally be here and to know that we are going to make a life here for a very long time to come.  The way that God has orchestrated all of these things working out is beyond me.  Seriously...five days ago, I moved into a house I had never seen but just trusted that this was where He wanted us until we could find a place that would last us a while.  What kind of mom in her right mind moves her kids somewhere she has never seen and knows nothing about?!?  But you know what?  It's perfect.  It's a lovely farmhouse, on the most beautiful piece of property I've ever lived on.  Our back living room window looks out onto a quiet lake and so far, in our short time here, we've seen deer, turkeys and watched two hawks screech and chase each other.  This place is incredible.

The only thing I'm struggling with a bit is that our kids don't seem to be transitioning as well as I wish they would.  Their behavior is out of this world.  On Sunday, our first day at Westbrook, they were out of control.  I could have dug a hole in the ground, crawled in and cried.  Because that wasn't an option, Jake and I just looked at each other and, without words, asked each other who in the world these kids belonged to.  They could not be our kids!

Watching them struggle is the hardest thing for me as their mom because I just want to fix it.  What can I do to make this better for them?  What am I doing that is helping or hurting them?  And then, because I'm their mom, I get that mom guilt.  I feel guilty for moving them.  I feel guilty for pulling Cole out of school when it was so obvious that was where he was thriving the most.  I feel guilty he's not getting that stimulation and socialization anymore.  I feel guilty that I haven't spent a ton of time with them lately because there has been so much packing and then unpacking to do.  I feel guilty that I get impatient with them when they get into boxes and things even though I know they're just curious.  I feel guilty that I haven't taken the time to talk to them about all of these big changes.  Ahhh!!!!!  The list goes on and on.  Basically, I've just decided to spend as much one on one time with them these next couple of days that I can.  So far, we've played dress up, we sang and danced together, we've read books and Cole has read to me.  And our day has gone unbelievably better so far.

Jake and I are working on our family motto/mission statement/beliefs.  Whatever you want to call it, that's what we're working on.  There are some very key things I want to be included in there but not so many that it gets overwhelming.  If anyone has done this and has some suggestions, we welcome them!  I'll be sure to post about it once we've got it put together.  I just want our kids to always have a firm foundation about what our family is all about...what we stand for and what we work hard to uphold.  I want it to be something they can be proud of and something they want to strive for.  I am working really hard to make our parenting and our family values intentional instead of just getting through our days.  If this is what God has called me to, this is what I need to pour myself into, right?  After all, these are only my kids for a little while but they're His forever.  I need to make sure I'm giving Him and them my very best.  It's a lot of work, but what isn't a lot of work that reaps a great reward in the end?

Last, but not least, I'm sad to report that I am officially the mother of no babies.  Laina is growing before my eyes and as hard as I try to freeze time and keep her just this way for just a little bit longer, it just isn't working.  The older kids remind me often that she is a "tawd-wer" and I hate to say that they are so right...she is very quickly filling her crib and talking in sentences and eating with a fork and spoon.  I couldn't wait for Cole and the girls to grasp these concepts but her?  I just want to keep her squishy cheeks and sweet snuggles forever.  She just fell asleep in my arms before lunch and I sang and rocked her to sleep.  Those moments happen fewer and farther between and I cherish every one.  Some day she won't want to sit on my lap or she'll just outgrow it entirely.  Some day she won't carry around her blankie or ask for her paci. It's funny how a fluffy, pink cloth and the sound of her sucking on her pacifier can soothe me too.  I want to remember this as one of the joys of motherhood that often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of every day.  Today was just a great moment of stopping and resting with my toddler.

I love this picture of Laina and Maurah.  For some reason, I never get good pictures of Maurah which is so sad because that girl is so stinking gorgeous.  So this was a real treat to have them together.  Aren't they just beautiful?

Hopefully I will get some pictures of the house up soon.  I've got other happenings to catch up on too, like three birthday parties and then trying to do some Easter traditions with the kids.  If I don't post before though, have a happy Easter!


I haven't been writing here because I've been working on this site HERE.  Click it and check out my new passion!  It's a work in progress and a very scary thing to put "out there" but I wanted those of you who check this blog on a regular basis to know that I haven't left it in the dust.  :)

And then stay tuned because the Mannes are in for LOTS of changes and I'll be sure to fill you in on them all in the coming weeks!

A New Spark

June also brought with it a somewhat new adventure for Maurah.  She joined MainStage Academy of Dance in the winter and showcased her work t...