We finished up our Thanksgiving festivities quite fittingly. My sweet, sweet grandparents had a big party! When they had their 50th wedding anniversary, we tried to talk them into having a party, or, well, dance at the hall. My mom's side of the family is very, very Czech. :) No, they are too humble, didn't want to mess with the planning of it or bother anyone with coming. Five years later, they told the family they decided to have this celebration after all. My granpa turned 80 this year, they celebrated 55 years of marriage, and it just seemed to be a good time. My sister Julianne designed the invitation!
They rented out the Czech Club (their favorite place to go dance and have a marvelous time for many Saturday nights of their life), hired a band and a caterer, and we were in business. My mom and aunts did a lot of work on some photo collages and fall decor. Everything was just beautiful.
Cason and I left Denton while Madeleine was still napping - she would join us later with his parents, who were also invited.
A couple hundred people arrived as the band played at the beginning. It was so precious to watch my grandparents greet everyone. Gran comes from a family of 10 children and Granpa is the youngest of 8, so we have lots of family. I only wish everyone there had a bubble over their head so I could know exactly who everyone was! I knew a few, but certainly not everyone. People began to dance and enjoy appetizers. One of my favorite memories of the event is one of which we have no pictures! We did a traditional wedding march, which involved almost every guest and took about 20 minutes. It was a definite "follow-the-leader" type dance, with lots of "just do what the person in front of you does." The neatest thing is that we didn't know what we were doing, but my mom, dad, Cason and I and sisters and their boyfriends all ended up in a line with linked arms. We were a group the whole time, and we chuckled because we could NOT have choreographed that if we tried!
The next item on the program was an introduction of the family. My grandparents had 4 children. My mom is the oldest, and she had 3 brothers, though one passed away at 22 from a brain tumor. The remaining 3 children had 8 daughters all together, so we have no grandsons in the family. You can imagine my Granpa's excitement when I married Cason - finally a grandson! Also, my cousin Katie is married to Jeff, and he's a great addition to the family as well. Anyway, they introduced us, then we had a time of tribute. It was so special to hear from my mom and dad and my aunts and uncles, as well as all my cousins. Everyone shared a short blurb about Gran and Granpa. It was so touching and so beautiful to hear the way they lived their life with faith and family at the center. Life wasn't always easy for them, but they always followed the Lord, and all of us have been blessed by that legacy. I thought it was also special because many times this type of tribute might be done at a funeral. My Gran and Granpa got to hear every word of how we have been blessed by their lives - what a concept to share with people while they are still with us! When it was my turn to speak, Madeleine ran to me and just stood at my feet - my sweet in-laws were doing their best to keep her busy during the talking time, but she wanted to be a part too!!
One of my grandparents' few requests included a family song. We sang an old Czech party favorite - "Let's have a party." This was the same song my granpa paid each of the granddaughters a dollar each to learn many years ago. Some of us sang, accompanied by a family band of my Uncle Ronnie on guitar and harmonica, my cousin Karoline on bassoon, my sister Liz on accordion (!), my cousin Katie on clarinet and her husband Jeff on French horn!
Then more dancing, dinner and lots of fun! Madeleine was quite excited by the band and the disco ball!
Another part of the program was one of my granpa's most favorite things in life - a jam session. He plays both the accordion and the spoons, so it's so much fun for him to get other musicians up on stage to just play old favorites together. There were so many talented musicians there, and he was giddy!
It was such a special event - I love the hodge podge of pictures below - my cousin Kristen and I with Granpa, Cason's dad, my Uncle John and cousin Brooke catching some of the A&M vs. Missouri game on Aunt Suzanne's phone (those Aggies...), me trying to wrangle Madeleine for a picture with her other Great Grandma Carole, and Madeleine having her way with the centerpiece fillers when the party was winding down. I am blessed with such an amazing family, on my mom's side, on my dad's side and the family I married into.
We had a great November, celebrating thankfulness. Poor Madeleine got a little confused, as we had just been through Halloween and Christmas decorations were already going up everywhere, but we tried to teach her about Thanksgiving! She made lots of crafts at school, and she enjoyed wearing her turkey dress from Nana and Pop. She named the turkey "Miriam."
Thanksgiving week, we went up to Denton on Tuesday night. The thought was that maybe Madeleine would fall asleep in the car. We left about 6, and she talked the entire way from Houston allll the way up 45, and she finally fell asleep in Lewisville, about 20 minutes from our destination. She was hilarious. Wednesday we had a really nice day, she tried Pop's glasses on at breakfast, then she and I met my dear friend Anne at a park in Farmer's Branch to enjoy a beautiful morning of playing.
We had a leisurely afternoon and evening in Denton - I made some pies, and would you believe Nana and Pop took us to get Madeleine her very own pink tricycle to keep in Denton?! Shocking. ;) Thanksgiving morning we slept in and packed up for the short trip to Cleburne. Since we had the Tahoe we were able to pick up Great Grandmother too, and take her with us.
We cooked for a lot of the morning as family arrived, and when it came time to eat, nobody was shy, especially Madeleine!
Before we left, Madeleine got in a quick game of football with her cousins (look how tough she is! She never assumes she is little with these guys!) and she also took Collin's new car for a test drive. Well, a pretend one anyway.
We got back to Denton and all spent Black Friday sleeping in! Can't be bothered by all that drama at the stores! The weather was beautiful, so Madeleine spent a lot of time outside, then, since we didn't eat enough the day before, we all went to the town square to get some Beth Marie's! Madeleine loved her strawberry cone, and she and her daddy made quite the team when it came to finishing it off and preventing any wayward drips!
Saturday, we had a special Celebration in Dallas, but that's for another post!
Madeleine got a tricycle from her Granna and Grandad for her birthday. She loves to take rides around the neighborhood - it started with looking for "costumes" (otherwise known as Halloween decorations) and now it has morphed into nature hunts and looking at "Crimpas lights." I had fun taking some pictures of her one afternoon in November. The very homemade worm was given to her by a sweet elderly volunteer in the "ospital" after our car accident. I smile at her little tricycle trunk - rumor has it her daddy had one of those too. He put his beloved rabbit lovey "Ra-ra" in his trunk just a few decades ago. She collected quite a few acorns, colored leaves and a "rock" (or chunk of concrete. My favorite thing about our walks is that aside from snapping a few pictures, my attention is completely on her and our conversations. No messy house, no computer, no distractions - just my girl and me.
What fun we had at Baylor Homecoming this year! (Surprise!) While last year was a blast, we had even more fun with our spunky little cub as she looked forward to the weekend and understood more and more of what we do during this lovely weekend in Waco. Just a warning - there are sooooo many pictures in this post. Hang in there. :)
We talked a lot about Homecoming before we went. Madeleine already knows the answer to the question "Where do the Baylor Bears live?" "Waco!!" There were also many times before and during the weekend when Cason and I looked at each other and said "Ohhh, this is how the brainwashing works." ;)
We drove to Waco on Friday morning. It was so nice for Cason to take Friday off and not screech into Waco rushed! Last year, it was so fun to lead worship at Singspiration, but this year it was nice to not have to be anywhere, really! We rolled into Waco and had lunch with Laura (friend since birth, freshman roomie, moms were roomies, did Tridelt and BRH together, bridesmaids in each other's weddings...you get it) and her sweet girl Emma at Vitek's. (Baby Ava was at home with her grandparents.) It was a lovely day to eat outside, and Madeleine's daddy taught her to say "Gut packs are good for the soul." We were the good moms who let their daughters play in the firepit. Hey, at least Emma was practicing her Heisman, and Madeleine was so good at looking at the camera. Wait...
Madeleine fell asleep in the car after leaving Vitek's. We checked into the hotel (hey, we tried to actually get our own room this year instead of bunking with my parents, but it just so happened they got a bigger room and an extra bed, so we continued the tradition!) After her nap we changed and got ready to do some on-campus hanging out and cruising around before the crowds arrived. As we walked around campus, she kept exclaiming "We're at BAYLOR!!!" So cute.
As promised, we took her to see "Joy Bear and Lady Bear" in the bear habitat on campus. One was sleeping by the stream/waterfall, and the other was eating a bunch of sunflower seeds.
We wandered over to the SUB where we heard there was some very special hardware on display - our women's basketball NCAA championship trophy as well as Baylor's duplicate Heisman from the one RG3 received last year. Madeleine was so impressed.
We continued our little jaunt around the SUB, visiting the Sing exhibit, naturally, and letting Madeleine go up and down lots of stairs. She loved exploring our old stomping grounds!
We also stopped by the bookstore and Pat Neff (where Mommy worked at school!) before dinner. How gorgeous is Baylor's campus? Always.
We headed to dinner with our BSB group (9 families, our parents went to Baylor together, we take trips, like another set of aunts/uncles/cousins!) Madeleine loved the queso and loved seeing her Granna and Grandad.
We didn't do Pigskin or Singspiration this year :( but our Friday theme was flexibility! Unfortunately our waiter at dinner took way too long, so we just got to campus to stop by the business school reception (where Madeleine had some sweet dance moves with the jazz band) and on we went to the bonfire and pep rally. Friday was HOT y'all. Hot like, a bonfire isn't super welcome, especially when you are toting around a 30+ lb. little chicken! We had fun though. Madeleine did great, despite being scared of the fireworks. Ever since then, she's mentioned that the fireworks were scary but so pretty in the sky. We got to see lots of friends, and it was so much fun! Madeleine hung in there until 10:30, and she finally calmed down and was asleep by 11:30! We are such good parents.
The next morning, Madeleine slept in pretty late (after a 6:30 transfer to her parents' bed!), we had breakfast and then went to campus for the parade. Lots of friends, and lots of fun! I have been to...27 Baylor Homecoming parades in my life, and I had never before seen students in hammocks in the large oak trees that line 5th street. Pretty clever! Madeleine loved the parade and loved dancing when some of the marching bands went by. She would cover her ears if any feature was just "too loud."
We played on the floats a little after the parade. Thank you, Theta, for putting these cute bears on benches. This cow was on the Tridelt float (aw) and Madeleine threw the tantrum of her life when I wouldn't let her climb on the cow and pulled her off the float to go meet her dad at the car. She SCREAMED from Speight all the way to the parking lot behind Waco Hall and Tidwell Bible Building. Hey, she is two, right?
Before heading to the stadium, we went back to the hotel. I loved wearing my boots and scarf, but I had to get real and put on my "contingency shorts" that I packed just in case it was too warm. I was hoping to not have to wear them, but oh well. We live in Texas. M fell asleep in the car, so I sat in the car with her and sent Cason to the tailgates. She woke up, and we joined him. We had some barbecue in Paige and Amanda's tent, and I got to see alllll these friends! There's a couple of my bridesmaids in that pic, three of my roommates (we missed Anne Pal), fellow co-workers from Baylor PR, a fellow Tridelt Sing chair...just lots of sweet girls that I was so happy to see.
The game was fun but hot! We sat in the sun, and we relished every little cloud that brought us relief. Madeleine's grandad went and found a box top that he used to shade her. So sweet. It was so nice sitting with lots of friends and family who didn't mind taking turns with Madeleine in their lap, and they weren't bothered when she squirmed or accidentally kicked them in the back. ;) More clouds blew in, and a rain delay ensued. We left at halftime, which was probably the best for our little fan anyway.
We went back to the hotel to freshen up, then we went out to China Spring! Our dear friends JT and Noelle Carpenter invited us out there to her parents' house with some other friends the Boones from our Sunday School class here in Houston. Delicious dinner and super-fun company! Noelle's nephew was there too - he was so sweet with the little girls, and he even hopped right into our picture. Madeleine and Annabelle looked so cute in their matching dresses.
The last part of the evening, we drove back into Waco to meet up with the BSB families at the FBC gym. Madeleine was delirious by this point, and she had lots of fun kicking balls with her dad and twirling with Gerald. :)
We had a good second night in the hotel with one little wake up from Madeleine - and then she seemed to take daylight savings time into consideration - she slept in until 9, or 8, the new time. Our secret? Exhaust your kid and keep them up until way past her bedtime two nights in a row.
So far, in Madeleine's sweet little life, Halloween has been quite an afterthought to her birthday/birthday party. Her Nana has quite a knack for finding cute costumes at Cracker Barrel, so both costumed Halloweens, I've been more than fine with her finding an outfit. This year, Madeleine actually had an opinion. Nana found a fairy dress, and Madeleine was still talking about ideas and grasping the idea of costumes. For most of this year's Halloween season, she equated "costumes" with anything Halloween. So, when we went on walks and she would say "find some costumes" I knew she wanted to go to a handful of houses in our neighborhood that went all out on yard decor, like this one:
Anyway, back to her costume. So I would show Madeleine different costumes Nana found and she would talk about what she wanted to be. Somehow, she came up with the idea of "Fairy Bear" over the course of these different talks. Again, focused on her party, it was fortuitous that she received this super cute bear hat from my mom's best friend Miss Ann. I made a little bow out of a piece of tulle from the fairy skirt, and voila! It came together as "Fairy Bear!"
We headed up to church for First Fest, and since Cason was in class, I was so thankful that my parents came to play and help with Madeleine. "Mermaid AJ" came for awhile too!
Our church does a great job with First Fest! Madeleine loved everything - from the toddler room to the big kid activities, she did great.
Well what do you know? Our Fairy Bear ran into one of her dearest friends Violet...I mean, Snow White.
We finished up the night with a visit to both the food trucks and the Chick-fil-A booth. Yum! Our little Fairy Bear was worn out. She asked Granna and Grandad to get in the car with her, "all together," but Granna told her that she had to take Grandad back to Cypress because he was so, so sleepy. Our own sleepy Fairy Bear seemed to be okay with that idea, albeit reluctantly. :)
What a big girl you are! TWO years old! I love this picture of you on your birthday morning. Mommy made strawberry pancakes for you, just like Daniel Tiger's mommy made for him on your new favorite show. :) You got to blow out your 2 candle since it was too windy at your birthday party.
I'm not quite sure where to begin. You are such a fun two-year old. I know I'm biased, but I just think you are brilliant! You have an amazing ability to communicate, and you know so many words. You are in such a spongy stage, and you pick up on everything. Many times, I just have to tell you about something once, and you remember it. The weather has been cooling off, and we have been outside quite a bit. One day we were on our walk, and we were looking up in the sky. "A rainbow!" you said. "Oh yes, Madeleine, that looks like a rainbow, but actually that's a vapor trail made by an airplane," I replied. "Oooo," you said, and ever since, you've been identifying vapor trails left and right! You know your colors and many of your letters and numbers as well. Somehow, if we get you to remember number 4, you can count to about 15. If you forget 4 (which you do often) your sequence is 1, 2, 3, 5, 11, 14...
You remember people we meet, you remember story lines of books we read. Your favorite books are Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, any variation of the Bible stories we have (your favorite Bible stories are David and Goliath as well as Moses - from baby in the basket with Miriam, to the princess finding him, to saying "Let my people go!")
You love to sing songs with Mommy and Daddy, and one of our favorite games is singing and then leaving out a word or phrase. You fill it right in. Your preferred songs include your "Bible songs" from our scripture CD we listen to in the car, Zacchaeus, the "Baylor song," Twinkle Twinkle, My God is so big..., "Rockababy" (Rock a bye baby) and "More Mr. Golden Sun song please, Mommy." You even know the difference between Buffalo Bayou and Braes Bayou. Incredible, love.
You also love to find the moon outside at bedtime. If it's not out there, you're fine, but you always love to look. "Madeleine's moon!" you say, "Jesus found it." You are so affectionate, and you love to give hugs and kisses.
Your imagination is one of my favorite things. I love to watch you play in your playroom, and one thing I find quite hilarious is when we are driving to church, passing the Arboretum and Memorial Park. You look into that forest, and you say "Someone's hiding in there!" We say "who is hiding there, Madeleine?" "AJ and Ben!" you say. One time while Mommy was putting food away from our recent trip to H-E-B, you stacked paper towels, then toilet paper, then a package of wipes. It made quite a tower, and you said "Look Mommy! It's downtown Houston!" You have imaginary phone conversations, you play pretend with your shopping cart and purses, and that is one thing I want to help cultivate the best I can!
You have your own cute way of saying things, like calling the doorbell a "dingbell," or every time you have an itch you say "I have a 'squito on my ______." Such a good little Houstonian already equating itching with mosquitos. :( Or if you get a cat hair in your mouth, you will spit and say "I have a kitty in my mouth."
You are showing interest in your froggy potty - we've had it a couple months now, but there's no hurry to potty train. Some days you'll use it three times, others none at all. We are just getting used to the idea. You love, love, love to eat, child. You are adventurous in your eating, and you love almost everything. Your favorites are beans (any kind), green beans, macaroni and cheese, strawberries, "peeta butta bread," cheese, avocados and "mockamole"...etc etc. You also love getting "one candy acorn" (candy corn from Mommy's jar)after your nap each day. You are now drinking 1% milk. When we got your height and weight at your two-year appointment, Dr. Koush said you were GOOD to go weight-wise (31 lbs. - 91%) and height you were only at 34" and 57%, but she said not to worry - you will stretch out. :)
You go to church two days a week for MCC - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-2. You love your little classmates, and whenever we talk about them you are always saying "Jason's a good friend," or "Graham...he's so funny," "Ms. Billie is so nice," or "I played with Avery on the playground." Your teachers say you are so smart and talkative, with good manners, and you continue to really love playground time, crafts and music the most. The other day Ms. Irma told me "I can always count on that Madeleine to make me laugh!" It has been so sweet to watch you make friends. You and Jake have a playdate every week as well - Ms. Cindy and I switch off watching y'all, and you always have lots of fun. You and Violet have enjoyed living in the same neighborhood now - you get to play a lot, and many times your play involves serious dance parties!
I don't want to paint it all as sunshine and roses, though, you are VERY much two. With your spunk comes being bossy. Seriously, Madeleine. You have an opinion about everything. Sometimes you tell Mommy to take off her cardigan sweater or "Mommy put hair down" when it's in a ponytail. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy will be singing a song to you and you will tell one or the other to stop singing. I'm not quite sure who you think you are, but as we say many times a day, "Madeleine, who's in charge?" And sweetheart, it is NOT you. :) You have your fair share of tantrums and meltdowns and 0-60 in 5 seconds-type freak outs - some for such random reasons. Your daddy said it was his fault you were wound so tight. ;) Some days are interrupted by frequent time-outs or spankings, and others go quite well. I can always give you credit for at least asking for things - the other night you cried and cried in your bed at bedtime. After quite awhile, I went in to check on you. "Eat some popcorn?" you said. I just have to laugh, you know? "No baby, it's bedtime." I think you are going to be quite the persistent negotiator when you get to your teenage years. Oooooeeee.
All in all, we have quite a good time together. You're Mommy's little buddy, and I love spending my days with you, sweet girl. As I guessed in your one-year post, the fun WAS just beginning. I loved your sweet baby days, but I love these growing up days much more! Baby days were full of weird schedules and second-guessing myself. Toddler days have their own stressors, but I feel like our sweet Lord gives us the corresponding amount of joy and love and amusement at what you are learning and how your heart is growing to love Him and those around you. I am thankful to the Lord EVERY SINGLE DAY for you, Miss Madeleine.