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    Freshman Homecoming

    Monday, October 20, 2014

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    For Madeline, getting gussied up and wearing a fancy dress is not a much loved thing. She enjoys comfortable, casual clothes. Always has, most likely always will. But there are occasions when the spirit moves her, and it becomes this wonderous moment as she embraces the posibility of the fun ahead.

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    This weekend she celebrated her first high school homecoming. I'll be frank: through no one's fault, dress shopping was very difficult. As anyone who knows me is aware, I lamented~several times~about the lack of appropriate dresses for teenagers. According to my daughter, they were all too sparkly, too ruffley, or far too short. I felt sad, and not because I disagreed; she was right. Madeline was all in, participating in the shopping, excited about Homecoming, but could not find anything that suited her. You could see her becoming less and less enthused as the weeks passed without a dress.

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    Thankfully, we got lucky (five days before the big event). It fit all of Madeline's criteria: simple, modest, and most importantly, comfortable. The fact she looked stunning in it was just a bonus. Her excitement picked up once again, and as she and her friends prepared for Saturday night, I made sure she indulged in some pampering at Dry Bar. She chose "Southern Comfort" for her hair style and friends, it did not disappoint. Look at those curls. If you had called her Scarlet, she would have replied with a "Fiddle dee dee!" She took my breath away.

    I'll end here and let you see the photos of Madeline and some of her friends in all their beauty. They celebrated the first of many homecomings, and watching my daughter's nose and eyes crinkle up as they do when she's especially happy, I think the dress hunt was completely worth it.

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    Happy Monday, all.

    Star of the Week

    Monday, October 13, 2014

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    One of the things I love about the early years in elementary school years are the little things they do to let the children shine. Star of the Week is such an occasion. For one week, one child gets to share the things they love and enjoy with their class. It's a great way for the children to learn more about one another, and it encourages them to focus and appreciate what makes them special. I think adults need one of these, don't you?

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    Today marks day one of Jackson's week to shine. Over the weekend we went through years of photos and picked out his favorites so we could assemble his poster. Believe me when I say it was a real labor of love. He was so excited~overly at times~that I had to ask him to reign it in so we could get it done. This morning couldn't come quickly enough, but when it did, he raced us to his classroom at school so we could turn his poster over to his teacher. As we did, I noticed for the first time that most of his pictures had Madeline in it. My heart couldn't have been happier. Because if it wasn't clear enough already, his picture choices left little doubt as to how much he loves his big sister.

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    He also enjoys looking at family photos. I've never seen a child so enamoured with them. As summer drew to a close, I compiled an assortment of pictures and made a beautiful photo book at Mpix. Jackson wanted it to be the first thing he shared with his classmates during his week as the Star, and I'm glad he did. It holds many special memories and I'm glad he can appreciate that. I'll go more into it later, but I will say this now: if you ever want to preserve an event or year with your family and friends, Mpix is the way to go.

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    Friends, I hope you're all enjoying the start of the new week. So far Monday is looking up, and with my little boy enjoying his moment to shine at school, I expect the rest of the week will be just as good. Take care, and don't forget to take a moment to appreciate what makes you shine as well!

    Happy Fall, Y'all!

    Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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    Happy Fall everyone! With last week's heatwave, SoCal residents worried we were in for a nasty beginning for the Fall season. Summer had been mild compared to the past few years, so the sudden spike in temperatures left some of us less than inspired when it came to decorating. And when I say some of us, I mean me.

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    Our wreath and mantle trim had been up since September 1st, but as it grew warmer, it was hard to get motivated to do much more. Thankfully, after several days of unbearable heat, the temperatures resturned to normal. Cool mornings and evenings, warm afternoons~this was more like it!

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    The children and I began getting in the spirit and started by sprucing up what we already had out. We retouched the decoration on our front door, Madeline added candles to the mantle, our Spode Delamere plates have been pulled out, and pumpkins appeared on bookshelves. It was enough to get this ball rolling.

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    I have a special Fall scone recipe I can't wait to share with you this week, and as many of us are already in a pumpkin-y mood, I'm pretty sure you'll love it. It's prefect for breakfast or a snack, and delicious with your morning cup of coffee.

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    Happy first day of Fall, everyone. Enjoy the gorgeous days ahead!

    You're Never Fully Dressed Without a...

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

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    SMILE!!

    Be still my heart. Will you look at that breathtaking display of joy and good humor? Yesterday was a long time coming. Madeline endured almost 3 years of braces, two oral surgeries, then had to reschedule the removal due to a cross country meet. And if you knew how her teeth started out, well, let's just say our orthodontist had a very challenging case to deal with.

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    My friends, I cannot begin to explain how much excitement has followed us throughout the week. We had a countdown going, plans to keep it a secret from her Daddy. But when Madeline woke up yesterday, she said something I know we've all thought when overly anxious: it's going to take forever until the moment arrives. The moment did arrive, though, and when the orthodontist began removing her braces (a process that took under 1 minute), I began alternating between laughter and tearing up. It was a huge moment for Madeline, and one I was glad to share with her. Much as I have always loved my daughter's smile~even with braces~I was ready to see it fully revealed. We all were!

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    Can you beleive the happiness in her face? More than anything, Madeline's satisfaction with the end results were what was most important, and if you can't tell, she's okay with how it all turned out. We all are. It's another passage completed on her approach to adulthood, but oh, it's a good one. Retainers are the new name of the game, and thanks to the infinite wisdom of our orthodontist, only to be worn at night. It's a trade-off we're happy to take on, and without a doubt, one Madeline will take very seriously.

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    Congratulations, Madeline! Your smile is radiant as ever!

    Oak Park Invitational

    Friday, September 12, 2014

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    We may not be able to make all of Madeline's cross country meets, but when we host, you can bet that we'll be there with bells on and cameras ready. It was Oak Park's second meet, and as this course was significantly more challenging than the first, it was a great one to observe. The weather was great, spirits were high, we could hear the cheers of our girls team as we approached the park. And who was there to great us?

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    Big sister and the rest of the JV girls were preparing to run their own race, and by sheer luck, we happened to be right at the starting line. We watched them warm up and do striders as the other JV girls teams readied themselves. I caught them on their way back to the starting line and took a few shots. This picture made me particularly happy. You'd think at this point the girls wouldn't be interested in taking any, but Madeline...well, there's a story. I'll get to it in a minute.

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    When the race began, we waited until Madeline and a few of her friends passed before heading to another point on the course. We wanted to see the girls in action and they certainly didn't disappoint. I'm always amazed by how effortlessly they move. They're in constant motion. And gosh are these girls tough! They train for hours upon days upon weeks, and watching them run by makes it all seem like they were just born with this natural ability. Perhaps they were.

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    I certainly wasn't, but watching Madeline dash by with her "in the zone" face on makes me glad that she has that "runner's gene". She finished her race with a fantastic time, and after giving some of the competing girls and friends high-five's, stopped to grab a hug from her biggest cheerleader. She wasn't even winded.

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    How is it possible? I don't know. What I do know is that cross country has made Madeline very happy. It's been a great outlet, and she has met the most wonderful people. I don't know much about the boys, and I'm sure they're fantastic, but the girls? They're a tremendous support and lovely as can be. Apparantly they read the blog on occasion as well! So if you want to know the story behind the picture of the JV girls from above, it's a little thing, but cute. After completeing a few striders, Madeline caught sight of me taking pictures and called out to the team that I was there with a camera. Within moments, each girl had turned around, and as Madeline laughed about her mom's crazy picture taking habits, stopped to smile for a quick picture. They were such great sports to humor me.

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    They can consider themselves part of the blog now, so I hope they enjoy it!

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    Congratulations to the Oak Park Eagles on a tremendous effort at yesterday's invitational. Y'all did a marvelous job. We can't wait for your next meet!