Happy Mother's Day!

This Mother's Day was one of the best days I've ever had.  I'm not sure if it's because my kids are older and they're more in tune to how special holidays are or what, but they and Jake made it so sweet for me.  We didn't do anything too much out of the ordinary but it was still wonderful.  I woke to Cole giving me snuggles and as soon as everyone else was awake, they gave me their homemade cards, which I always love.  We went to church and then Jake and the kids took me out to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Water Street Brewery.  Yum!

Then, we came home and all of the kids did an INCREDIBLE job getting pictures with me.  I have decided for the rest of the year that my goal is to try and be in pictures with the kids more.  Cole was the photographer for all of these (except the ones with him, of course!) and I'm thinking we have a photographer in the making!

Truly, after getting these photos, I could have been done celebrating because I was so giddy to have these memories.  But we decided it was time to do a family bike ride to the ice cream shop in town.  Not really thinking about it, we hopped on our bikes (with Laina in the trailer behind Jake) and paraded our way to the ice cream shop.  It was quite a sight and we got a lot of smiles and some "Are you crazy?!?" looks from cars along the way.  Once we got to the shop (which is quite a trek for three little bike riders), Jake and I were kicking ourselves because we completely forgot that the ice cream place was CLOSED!  Thankfully, quick thinking man that he is, Jake ran to the gas station on the corner to get us some Crunch ice cream bars.  So, we just visited the ice cream shop and I of course saw it as another opportunity to get some photos of my sweet kids.

Cole got this sticker at church and wore it all day...

Check out those baby blues!  I was in heaven with the light we had!

We rode back home where Cole, Maurah and Hayden put on a magic show for me in the backyard.  It was one of the cutest things ever.  Cole would whisper in Hayden's ear and she would repeat him.  My favorite part was when she said, "This is desicated to Megan Manne!"    Then, they would say, "Abra-cadabra!" and Cole would make each of the girls disappear...a.k.a., I would close my eyes and they would run and hide under the slide.  I can't even describe how much fun I had watching them.

We played for a while more and then it got to be dinner time pretty quickly there after.  Since we had big lunches, the kids asked for cereal outside at their picnic table...easy enough!  :)  As they were eating, Cole stopped and said, "Mom, can I pray?"  And then he went on to say this: "Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for this food.  Thank you so much for this day that we get to celebrate our mom and show her how much we love her because we love her so so much.  Thank You for the best day ever.  In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Okay...I had tears in my eyes.  How could my SIX year old be so sweet and genuine?!?  Seriously, Cole ate up the idea of this day and blessed me all day long by wishing me a Happy Mother's Day and giving hugs or saying his new phrase of, "I love you more than anything, Mom."  I was even told he loves me more than chocolate ice cream...if that's not love, I don't know what is!!

Jake was out running while the kids had supper and we finished up and went inside where they snuggled up together to watch a Christmas movie Laina had picked out.  Yes...Christmas.  After the movie was finished, we read Max Lucado's book, You are Special.  I LOVE this book for children.  After we read, I got to tell each of the kids exactly what makes them special and how they are just like the characters in the story.  I then got to thank them for making ME feel so special all day long and how I'm so thankful that I get to be their mommy.  As I tucked them all in their beds, I felt like I could have burst with the thankfulness I had for my family.  I realize it's a gift not many have.

As Jake got home, he and I decided it was in home date night for us.  We ordered out, rented a movie and promptly fell asleep halfway through just like the old feeling parents we are!  Maybe we'll try to finish it tonight. :)

I'm pretty sure we couldn't duplicate the greatness of this day if we tried.  But I'm so thankful for the times that God gives us these "perfect" days together to remind me of what I have.  Because what I have is SO incredible.

The Fourth

Writing again.

I'm not sure if I have anything worthy to say but I started this blog to get my thoughts down and especially to remember this life that is passing by so quickly.  The other day I was talking with Jake about how our kids are growing so very fast.  I don't really remember the twins being two and now they are four...practically grown up, or at least they think!  I realized that I haven't been writing down how the kids are changing, what their interests are, what's challenging about them and what I especially love.  Poor Laina, in particular...pretty sure she doesn't have one of my special "bullet posts" about her like the other kids do!  I'll have to go back to check...

Anyway, she's the very reason I'm back on here today.  I want to make a bullet list for little Laina at 2 1/2 years old.  Right now we're working on potty training.  Oh, potty training!  You would think that the fourth child would be a cinch to potty train but I have proof from having to mop multiple rooms in our house today that it's not as easy as it would seem.  But potty training?  How are we here already?  I know there will be many many benefits to having her out of diapers, money being a main one.  But I haven't had a diaper free home in 6 years!  Once she is out of diapers, there will officially be no more baby things in the Manne house.  I'm not sure what I think about that one!

But oh, Laina Rose, you are not a baby anymore!  I am reminded of this by how long your legs dangle down when I hold you.  And your little feet that are already in a size 8 shoe - the same size your sisters wear and I'm pretty sure you will surpass them.  You walk around in a dress-up dress practically every day and let all of us know that you are a princess.  We would never disagree. :)

You are definitely not a weak personality, which is good, considering you're the youngest in the family.  You are definitely not one to be walked on and, in fact, you fight back harder than any of your siblings.  Sometimes I have to laugh inside when Cole is telling me that you pushed him or you hit him because he is twice your size, four years older, and you refuse to back down to him.  Your tenacity for what you believe is right is so strong already, I can only imagine how that will grow with you.  I really hope your dad and I can encourage you to use that fight and that strength toward things that are really worth fighting for.

Your laugh is infectious.  You have the cutest little smile and your eyes sparkle.  You are mischievous and playful and definitely bring the fun with you wherever you go.

Your fits are something else!  Today you cried - no, screamed - for 20 minutes straight because I put your blankie in the wash since you had an accident on it.  I realized the logic wasn't there for you to understand why I had to do that, so I finally just picked you up and snuggled you.  After about 5 more minutes, you calmed down.  It was like you just wanted to be heard.  I understand that now because I know sometimes I throw fits of my own over things that upset me and I just want someone to hear me.  I'm working on not "shushing" you and the other kids as much as I tend to before really hearing you out.

I gave you your first real haircut a few weeks ago and cannot believe the amount of curls we chopped off!  Thankfully, your hair has stayed curly and I just love it.  However, getting a trim truly made you look older.

I'm loving how you march around outside in rain boots and dresses.  Most of the time, your clothes don't match and I love it because you independently picked out what you were wearing for the day and it doesn't matter to you yet what other people think.  This too I hope stays with you as you grow.

Laina, you are beautiful.  I love to see you play with your brother and sisters.  I love that you're just one of them and not the tag-along baby sister.  They are so good to you and you love that the "big kids" let you be one of them.

I am loving watching you grow.  Even today as we sat and snuggled in the rocking chair, I got a piece of time with my "baby."  As much as you are my baby and I keep calling you that, you are such a big girl and the older you get, the more joy you bring to our family.  I love you, Laina Rose.  And you're one of four reasons that I'm back here...

...writing again.

Christmas, part 3

Still in Michigan, we went to our home church on Sunday morning.  The girls were super excited that I let them wear their Christmas dresses a week early.  The funniest thing about church, that I wish I had a photo of, is the fact that the preschoolers were singing in front of church that day.  So, Leto and Cole ended up right up front with the other kids, singing songs they had never heard before.  At one point, bells were ringing when they weren't supposed to be...but I'm sure it wasn't the visiting kids...I'm just sure of it. :)

Who are these kids on this ornament?  Where have they gone?!?

The girls' table...

On our way back from Michigan, we made a quick, but so wonderful, surprise visit to my Grandma's.  It was so fun to knock on her door, walk in and see the look on her face.  The kids walked in like they owned the place, too.  So much so, Laina had the wise men from Grandma's Nativity set giving each other kisses.  Ha!  My Grandma is 90 - can you even believe it?  Check out these pictures...no way!!

Grandma spoiling the kids with sugary snacks and Hayden being her big helper:

On the road again, back to Wisconsin we go!  Beautiful sky to light our way...

I just love this messy little face!

Christmas, part 2

In the middle of December we took a trip to Michigan for the big Manne Christmas party.  I am kicking myself that I didn't get more photos of the actual party!  But I guess we can only handle the Christmas cuteness in smaller doses.

Don't you love Maurah's look here?  She totally screams "Christmas spirit," don't you think?

And here's another one, straight at me.  The problem with this child?  She wanted to have her OWN photo taken...so, no, she's definitely no diva. :)

Oh, THERE we go!  A smile!  Merry Christmas to me.

Cole and cousin Leto decided they would get in on the picture action as soon as they heard me bribing the girls with M&Ms...gets 'em every time. :)

Sweet cousins

Rach and I were so hot in our Target boots, we just had to take a pic!  LOL

At the party making reindeer food...

They look suspicious of something, don't they?  I think they were closely watching wrapped presents being put out, as any good Christmas detective would!

Maurah was Grandma's snuggle bug at the party...so sweet.

Laina's favorite part?  The chocolate!!!  I'm telling you, I'm totally rubbing off on these kids in all the right ways.

Okay, this one needs an explanation.  The adults had the kids downstairs while we did our gift time together.  The game: bring a gift, white elephant style or nice, wrap it up and put one word on the label that describes the gift.  We then auctioned each of the gifts off, based on the word, and raised money for a family whose house had burned down.  The kids ended up coming upstairs in a line, as if we were being invaded!  The sat right down and, all of the sudden, started raising their hands for the bids, bidding their parents' money.  It was hilarious!  So this photo just cracks me up.

I'm sure these girls will just love that they're the grand finale to this blog post but aren't they just pretty?  I love them.  And I love this picture.

More Christmas fun to come!  Are you tired of it yet?

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...