Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not That You Asked

Here's Harper at a baby shower we went to this afternoon.
It took place at one of the coolest condos I've been to.
But that's not the story.  The story is that we got to celebrate the upcoming son or daughter of some friends we've known since 2000.  The crazy thing about our history with Tim and Angela is that we met them in Indiana where we became fast friends, and within weeks several years later, we found out we were both moving to Maryland. 
Here I am hanging out with the mommy-to-be (those pins on our clothes are for a game we were playing that had something to do with trying to obtain as many as you know I kicked butt on that game.  Me and my "Hey! How ya doin'?  Let's make some small talk" self.)

There was a pinata.

I think it's safe to say that Hadley thinks anything that gives away free candy, like Halloween, is a fine invention.  This was by far, the highlight of the afternoon.

Do you see that pink piece of tissue paper near Hadley?  She used that to carry her loot in.  At first, she was just grabbing as much as she could and trying to carry it.  However, after realizing that this was simply not going to work due to the amount of candy she wanted, she grabbed that piece of tissue paper and made herself a little catch-all.  The kid has to be told to brush her teeth, turn off lights, put on underwear, but find a way to store as much candy as possible?  She's totally got that.

It was a really fun time, and I can't wait to meet Baby H.

Looking at this picture I'm thinking back and wondering if I was giving Angela unwanted advice.  You know, you get around other moms, and moms-to-be and stuff just starts coming out of your mouth before you can say, "STOP TALKING!  STOP TALKING NOW!"  I think part of it is I've been where she's going and I want her to know that as hard and confusing and exhausting as it's going to get, it isn't anything she can't handle.  It's not a "I did this and I'm totally awesome because of it" kind of thing.  It's more like I'm excited for her and want to let her know she'll be just fine.   I guess it's my way of rooting Angela on.

Hadley was 10 days overdue.  I wasn't working because I was on somewhat of a liberal bedrest due to contractions that started several weeks before it was safe for Hadley to be born.  So one morning, after I'd watched my 5th episode of The Gilmore Girls, I decided I was going to go somewhere.  I'd heard walking was supposed help the baby come faster, so I figured I'd take a walk.  The problem was, I couldn't get my right shoe on.  Something about a nerve in my butt made it excruciating to get that other shoe on my foot.  I sat down on our couch and cried.  Then I called Jesse and said, "I can't leave the house because I can't get my shoe on!" 

Jesse did his best to cheer me up, but what really made a difference that morning was receiving my very first text message. It was from Angela.  I think she'd won an award for teaching.  I can't remember what it was, but it was so good to hear from her.  What she didn't realize is that for a few minutes, while I tried to figure out how to text her back, and we had a little conversation, she'd taken my mind off of the hugeness of my stomach and the lack of mobility I was experiencing at the moment.  She made me feel normal again.

And I think that's what we moms are all trying to do with our stories of delivering our beautiful babies, or discussing the many nights we tried to get them to sleep, or whatever it is we share.  We're just trying to make you feel normal again. 

OK, maybe we think we're a little awesome because of what we did.  I mean, 9lb 10oz? And I pushed for 30 minutes and then there was my Hadley Grace? That's nothin' to shake a stick at.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Go, Hadley Go! Go, Hadley Go!

Hadley and I had our first experience at a little establishment called MyGym yesterday evening (GASP!  You've never been to MyGym?!?!?!  What kind of parent are you, anyway, Callie?). 

This was the scene as Hadley and I entered.

It's like Heaven to a 4 year old, right?  What could possibly be cooler than this?  Do you see Hadley waaayy back there?  She's in the red sweatshirt climbing up a ladder.  She's about to get into a huge pool of balls.  Oh, how I miss being able to get to play in that.  And oh, how I hoped so badly that Hadley would need me to come and rescue her so I could do a big canon-ball jump into that pool.  One day, we will have that in our home.  I will never not think thousands of colored balls in a big pool is not super fun. 

So this was for a birthday party for one of Hadley's classmates.  Next time Hadley is invited to a birthday party, I'm not telling her about it until 5 minutes before we leave.  Hadley knew about this party for about 15 days before it happened, and EVERY DAY we had to discuss when it was, what we would do, who would be there.  And my favorite?  Whether or not I would TALK while I was there. 

"Mama, are you sure you have to stay at the birthday party?"

"Yes, Hadley.  I am pretty sure I'm supposed to stay."

"OK, but can you not talk too much?"

"Yes, Hadley.  I will stand in a corner and not say a word." 

It's what I do anyway.

Note that these kids have no socks on.  That is the rule to prevent slipping and sliding as they run amok in this play area.  This was quite helpful for me because earlier this week, Hadley was telling me about one of her classmates.  We'll call him Bud because I'm feeling like a Huxtable.  Here's a conversation that Hadley told me about Bud earlier this week:

"Mama?  I have to tell you something that I'm shy about."


"Bud doesn't have 10 toes."

You know what I did?  I started laughing.  And I couldn't stop.  I was laughing so hard I was crying.  And Hadley was not impressed.

"Mama, it's not funny."

Anyway, Bud was at the party and I happened to check to see that he in fact has all his toes.  I'm not sure where Hadley got this information from, but I believe this is not the last thing I will be completely confused about when she talks about her friends.

Here is the highlight of the evening.  For me, anyway.

It turns out that I probably didn't need to stay for the party.  The thing is, though, that watching Hadley in this kind of situation is fascinating.  As long as I can sneak a peak into her social life, I'm going to do it. 

On an etiquette note, as we were driving over to the party, Hadley said to me: "Mama, I'm not gonna pick my nose at the birthday party because it's not nice."

"That's good, Hadley.  I'm glad to know that."

"Yea.  It's not nice, and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings."

Right, because picking your nose is truly harmful to others.  Going around telling people that you know a kid that doesn't have 10 toes?  That doesn't do any damage at all.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Title One: Oh Boy Title Two: This One's For Tara

This week's prompt from The Red Dress Club is to write something using only dialogue. 

When I have taken writing classes, the rule number one is to not explain anything before you share your work with others.  Just read it, or let others read it, but don't say, "This really stinks." Or, "I want to come across as funny."  The people reading your work will come to those conclusions themselves. 

I'm breaking the rule.  I've been working on a short story for a couple of years now, and it involves an incident between my cousin Tara and myself.  If I had to make a Top 10 List of favorite childhood memories, this would rank up there as one of them.  I won't explain anything else except to say that I had little dialogue in the story, and completing this exercise was fun because I got to listen what these characters had to say.

Here goes:

"Let's ride down the driveway on Jack's skateboard." Sawyer said.

"Huh? No way." Thatcher said.

"Yea.  Let's do it."

"Sawyer, your driveway is like, an anoconda.  I'm not sitting on a skateboard and riding down it.  We'll be going 45,000 miles an hour!  Are you insane?"

"We're doin' it!"

"Put that skateboard down!  I'm not getting on it with you, Sawyer!"

"Yea ya are.  And you'll LOVE it.  We're gonna go so fast!" Sawyer said.

"That's what I'm afraid of."

"I'll be in front and you can sit behind me.  C'mon, sit down....COME ON, Thatcher!  What's the worst that could happen?  We fall off the skateboard?  We'll be inches from the ground.  No big deal.  Get on!"

"Fine." Thatcher said.


"Ew!  The top of the board is all gritty.  Gross." Thatcher complained.

"Gritty's good! Our butts are gonna stay on better.  We don't want to be slipping around while we ride down the....what'd you call my driveway?"  Sawyer asked.

"An anaconda.  It's the largest snake there is."  Thatcher said.

"Anacondaaaaaaa.  I like it."

"OK.  I'm on.  I feel like a dork, and I'm scared to death, but I'm on." Thatcher said.

"We're not doing this to be cool, we're doing this because it's gonna be AWESOME!  Now listen: we'll need to lean left right away so we stay on the driveway when it turns." 

"Uh huh.  Does your heart feel like it's going to beat out of your chest?"

"Yea!  I love that feeling!" Sawyer said.

"I'm not really enjoying it." Thatcher said.

"OK!  Here we goooooooo!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Twelve Years of Grace

One of my favorite memories of spending time with Jesse happened on a late afternoon at Crisan's Coffeeshop in East Grand Rapids (I am sad to say it's no longer in business due to the "Big S" moving in a few doors down).  Jesse was a senior, and I was a junior at Calvin, and we'd brought our homework with us and sat at a table next to the window.

I was doing math homework.  This might not seem like a big deal if you don't know me very well.  However, if you have lived with me for any amount of time, you will know that I don't do math.  Math and me?  We don't get along.  Textbooks have been thrown against walls.  Notebook paper has been ripped to shreds.  Erasers have been scratched down to nubs.  But on this day, as I was working on a problem, I noticed that the sun had cast a shadow diagonally across my notebook paper, letting me know evening was on its way.  Jesse and I had been working for hours at my beloved Crisan's, and I was finding out that math wasn't too bad.

Don't take this the wrong way.  Jesse was in no way helping me with my homework.  I think he'd learned early that nobody can help.  Helping me consists of a kind man whose name rhymes with Tonathan Mewis, sitting at the dining table late at night finishing my math homework for me because I was too frustrated with those darn long division problems.  And who cares about remainders anyway?

What was special about this late afternoon/early evening was that I was enjoying doing work, and I know Jesse was too.  After twelve years of being married to Jesse I realize that this is who we are.  We like to work.  We like lists.  We are happiest working on some kind of project or talking about some kind of goal we want to reach.

It seems terribly unromantic, I suppose, but for me, it is nice to spend time with someone who goes to the library looking for a book for himself, and comes back with stacks of books on writing for me because he thinks I might enjoy them.  Or someone who showed me where all the coffee shops were in South Bend after we were first married, because "it might be nice to do your work in a different environment besides the classroom."

I'm writing about this because on Sunday, Jesse and I celebrated twelve years of marriage.  We went to a great restaurant called Corduroy in DC on Saturday night, thanks to my Uncle Greg and Aunt Julie.  As we ate, I remembered that we didn't have any dessert at home, and Jesse said, "I bought an apple fritter at the Royal Crown Bakery this morning when I went to get bagels."  This made me laugh because Jesse loves apple fritters, and I proceeded to tell him the time I had my first apple fritter.  I went to visit him at Notre Dame one February weekend when I was a senior at Calvin.  You know what we did?  We worked.  We worked and we ate apple fritters along with my favorite candy of all time - a certain kind of gummy worm that you can only find at Meijer grocery stores. I remember we walked out of Cushing Hall, and it was late; I don't think any students were around (they were probably all at Corby's).  We walked towards his apartment and it had just started to snow, and I don't know if I was more excited about the snow falling or the fact that I had just completed an insane amount of homework while Jesse working on his hurricane storm surges.

I tend to get a little wrapped up in the importance of hard work, but here are two reminders of hard work, yes, but I think more importantly, they are reminders of grace.  They are reminders that no matter what we have done in the past, what we've accomplished or what major mistakes we've made, they are our children.  We will always be their mom and dad.  No matter what.

So this weekend was filled with a lot of grace and work.  Like always.  We went to IKEA (that's where Hadley and Harper are in the picture) to get some supplies for a few projects we had going on in our place. Hadley was a big help when we got back home, and used the stud finder to "look for wood" throughout the house so that "Daddy won't put any holes in it."

I so want her pants, by the way.
Jesse hung a few things for me.

I did a few things, too.

And Harper?  Harper put her dinosaurs to sleep.

The thing about work is this: the more I do it, the more I see grace.  So it's hard for me to understand grace without work.  One of my favorite quotes was written by George MacDonald:

"But the door into joy generally opens behind us, and a hand is put forth which draws us in backwards.  The sole wisdom for the person who is haunted with the hovering of unseen wings, with the scent of unseen roses, and the subtle enticement of melodies unheard, is work.  If you follow any of these, they will vanish.  But if you work, they will come unsought."

I'm glad I'm married to someone who understands this.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Writing Prompt from The Red Dress Club

I follow a blog called The Red Dress Club, and every Tuesday they post a writing prompt for us to work on and post our piece on Friday.  This week's writing prompt was to take something out of your pantry and write something using all the ingredients on the box.  I was tempted to use my Starbucks coffee beans, but I figured that'd be cheating.  Instead, I closed my eyes, reached in and grabbed a "Make Your Own Chocolate Kit."  Here's what I came up with:

Which part of chocolate is supposed to give you a lift when you eat it?  Is it the cocoa butter?  The cocoa powder?  Personally, I don't like chocolate, but my daughters think it's the best thing since Diego.  So we bought the "Make Your Own Chocolate Kit" for them. 

Maybe it's the cocoa liquor and the sugar.  These two seem like friendly ingredients.

My husband and I found the kit in a store on Division in Wicker Park.  We were visiting my hometown, Chicago, and my parents were babysitting while we enjoyed an afternoon downtown.  First, we had a leisurely lunch at Milk and Honey.  We sat outside while we ate, the weather just beginning to warm so that the sun made you feel like you were glowing.  I was wearing a black dress I was giddy about.  I loved the way I looked in it, and yet, I had this other voice, a voice that seemed to emerge after I became a mother, that whispered snidely, "What are you doing wearing something like that?  You're a mom for Pete's sake.  Why would you spend money on that when most of the time you're in a tshirt and jeans?  You can't go to the park in THAT." I tried to ignore this voice and looked at the Chicago skyline - tall and beautiful in the distance.

How do you get milk fat into a box of dry ingredients?  Seems kind of gross.  What is milk fat, anyway?

We bought the kit and decided to save it for a Christmas present for the girls.  It sat in the pantry through the summer, hidden behind a bag of brown rice.  In the meantime, THE VOICE seemed to get louder and stronger.  It'd come out not just when I ran my hands over my black dress as I decided what to wear in the morning, but also when I became interested in doing something for myself. "You can't do that.  You're a mom now.  You had your chance.  You need to take care of the girls now."

I hated this voice.  Partly because I couldn't tell whether or not it spoke the truth.  So I started to dare myself to go against THE VOICE.  It started with a writing class I wanted to take.  THE VOICE had a huge issue with me taking this class because it was held on a Tuesday morning.  "That's mom/child time.  You take that class and you're gonna miss out on your daughters' lives.  Why did you choose to stay at home if you're going to take a writing class?  If you want to work, then go back to teaching.  At least you'd be helping out the family financially.  If you're gonna leave the girls with a babysitter, you may as well make money while you do it."

But I took the class anyway.  We hired a babysitter, and that first day, I sat in class writing and writing.  My hand throbbed from holding my pen.  As I shared my writing, or talked about an idea in class, I felt someone else coming out.  Someone who seemed to be asleep for a few years.  Or perhap it was someone who thought she was of no use anymore.  Kind of like Puff.  But she crept back out and I was glad to see her.

The class ended and my husband suggested we keep the babysitter coming on Tuesdays so I could keep writing.  "The class seemed to do you some good." he observed.  Plus, we loved the babysitter.  The girls screamed in glee when she came to the door and she seemed just as enthused to see them.  She became part of our family - we text each other randomly throughout the week to talk about the girls or books we're reading - a lovely blessing to hiring someone to take care of your children.

I was thinking about THE VOICE the other day when my girls wanted to make chocolate using the chocolate kit we bought them.  They brought up the idea a few minutes before the babysitter was coming over so I could write (she comes twice a week now).  I set everything out and told the girls they could make the chocolate when the babysitter came over.

As I sat down to write, I got a text saying the making of the chocolate wasn't going so well.  A glass bowl had broke with the dark chocolate and cocoa butter in it.  I texted her back with an "Uh oh!  Are they really upset?"  She wrote, "No.  Just wanted you to know about the glass bowl.  I feel bad that it broke."

I laughed and then picked up my pen to write, but then realized that THE VOICE wasn't there to intervene.  No, "You should go home." Or, "This wouldn't have happened if you were there to make the chocolate with them."  I rolled my eyes at the ridiculousness of these statements, but also was aware that I had beaten THE VOICE up a little bit.  Tolled her to shut up.  Gave her a smack.  I was proud of myself.

On my way home, I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a brownie mix to make with the girls in the afternoon.  Not because THE VOICE told me to, but because I thought it would be fun.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"I'm a Rule Changer"

When I first got my license, I was told that I was not allowed to cross Harlem, a major road that divided Oak Park from other Chicago suburbs.  I didn't have a problem with this rule mostly because I didn't have much interest in driving west.  However, what my parents neglected to tell me I couldn't do was drive east, as in, on the Eisenhower towards Chicago.  And so, that is what I did.  I am sure I knew that if they didn't want me driving on Harlem, they probably weren't too comfortable with their new driver daughter toodling towards the Sears tower, and they probably assumed that was a given.  This did not register with me, and I don't remember thinking at the time, "This is not something that they would want me to do."  I was too excited to see the city.

I have been thinking about this event in my life in my dealings with Hadley recently.  She is very busy constructing her own world right now, and often it conflicts with what the rest of us are trying to do.  I take it personally, like she's trying to drive me insane on purpose.  But then I think about my accidentally-on-purpose rule breaking when I got my license, and I realize that it's not really a lack of respect or wanting to be bad.  It's simply a kid doing her thing with no regard for anybody else.  I still get mad, but it doesn't make me love Hadley any less.  Just like I know she doesn't love me any less when she chooses not to do whatever it is I want her to do.

It's just hard to keep up with her sometimes. 
For example:
Yesterday afternoon, Hadley and I were playing with puzzles together.  When we got to this puzzle,
Hadley decided that we should take all the pieces and put them in a pile.  Then, whoever gets the most pieces, gets to be the first person to start the puzzle.  I agreed, and started grabbing pieces. 

"No, no, no, Mama.  You just take one piece at a time." 

"OK."  I started to take one piece at a time.  Then Hadley started to take more than one piece, so I said,

"Hey!  What are you doing?  You just told me I can only take one piece!"

"Yes, that is what I said.  But it is easier to do it this way."

"You keep changing the rules on me."  I told her.

"Well, Mama, I'm a rule changer."

Here's another incident that happened recently:

One afternoon Hadley and Harper were fighting about something, and Hadley pushed Harper.  When I went over to see what happened, Hadley told me that Harper had fallen off a chair.  I would've believed her except that Harper was nowhere near a chair.  Also, Harper said, "Hadwee pushed me!"  When I asked Hadley if that was true, Hadley said that it was.  I told Hadley that we don't push people, and we definetely don't lie about it.  Hadley's punishment was that she was not allowed to play computer games that night.

A few hours later, I'm checking my email at the time Hadley is usually playing computer games.  She comes up behind me and says, "Mama?  I have to tell you something."


"When someone asks you to do something that is reeeeally special, you have to let them do it."  She informs me.

"OK." I say.

"I would like to play computer games."

"You're not playing computer games, and you know why."

"I know, Mama.  I know I'm not playing compter games because I pushed Harper and lied about it.  But you're not listening to me.  I'm telling you when someone asks to do something special, then you have to let them do it."

"You're not playing computer games, Hadley."

On and on this went until I said/yelled "I'm the mother!  You're not playing computer games!"

I see what's going on though.  Hadley's interested in testing out what she can do with her life.  She wants to experience things, figure things out for herself.  I understand.  Everytime I see the Chicago skyline I understand.  I think my parents understood, too.  Because when someone wants to do something reeeally special, you have to let them do it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Feeling Better

I don't sound all that great, but I am feeling much better then I was last week at this time.  At least now I can play with the girls, unlike last week when I was struggling to sit up. 

Since they've been back, the preferred activity is to play on this great mat that their Aunt Shani gave them for Christmas.  Their dinosaurs have lots of fun on it.
The dinosaurs are getting ready to ride the bus to go and get ice-cream, Teen Wolf style.

Hadley and Harper lined all these dinosaurs up, plus all the guys inside the bus and then proceeded to order a different kind of ice-cream for each one.  It was like 345 different ice cream orders.  Chocolate ice cream with rainbow sprinkles, vanilla ice cream with red sprinkles, chocolate and vanilla swirled in a cone, chocolate ice cream with nothing else on it.  Everyone had ice-cream except for the bus driver who needed to stand by the bus to "keep it safe," and the pterodactyl because "he can't stand up."  Poor guys.

After ice-cream it was circle time.
Apparently the bus driver is the teacher. Or he is about to get beat up.  I'm not sure what's going to happen here.  It's mildy threatening, however.
Whatever was about to happen next, I was glad to be able to be a part of it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

As A Dog

I'm not going to go into all the details, because when people write posts about how sick they are then I think I'm getting sick too.  But I will just say that I believe my temperature was 425 two days ago.  Also, my head swelled up to the size of a Macy's Day Parade balloon. Try having a conversation with the nurse when those are your symptoms.  "Hello? Yes, I have a 425 degree temperature and my head doesn't fit into my house.  Do you have something I can take for that?"

Anyway, I am doing better but not enough to tell you what's going on with the H's.  That's because, for the past six days, Jesse has been taking full care of them.  (I think we should call him St. Jesse, actually.)  I also can't form sentences all that great because I have not had any coffee for like 5 days. This is not good.  Not good at all.

So here's what we're gonna do.  Since it's the New Year, I thought I'd create a Top 10 list of my favorite posts from 2010.  That way, I don't have to use more braincells then I absolutely have to, and another bonus is that I can focus on what great times the Feyen family had in 2010.  Because so far, 2011, for Callie anyway, has not gone well. 

1. Crafty Schmafty "These projects are designed to do with your children, so you'd think I could manage them.  And actually, I think I could manage them.  Except I start reading the directions and I end up calling Jesse at work to ask him if he knows what a 'whip stitch' is."

2. Hanging Out at the White House "It was like being at a fair except you're on the lawn of the White House. THE WHITE HOUSE!"

3.Rewind Our trip to Leesburg, and my confession about enjoying to sit down as much as possible (also known as how Harper got her nose busted a l'il bit).

4. Caterpillar Drama  I don't think a lot of people who know the story will want to read this post, but if you look at the stats (and some people in my family respect statistics), this one is the one that gets a lot o' hits.

5. Take Me Out to the Ballgame A very fun afternoon.

6. It's Funny Now "It wasn't pretty, I won't lie. Do you know that lips bleed a lot? No? They do. A lot. Luckily, Hadley went to get her doctor's kit that we got her for Christmas and told me she knew "just what to do" while Harper was screaming and blood was everywhere. So the three of us were in the bathroom, me holding Harper trying to wipe blood from her face, and Hadley, standing on her little step stool, pulling out her stethescope, trying to find Harper's heartbeat."

"We went shopping for birthday presents on Saturday and apparently went to the wrong store. All we needed to do was buy different pieces of PVC pipe and throw them in cardboard boxes and we're golden. Hadley and Harper made telescopes, whistles, snakes, all sorts of things while Jesse looked for a little piece that was going to help him install the washer.
I stood by very patiently and didn't worry at all about when I will be able to wash my underwear again."

You know what?  I'm wiped out.  All I can manage is seven, guys.  Maybe you can decide on the last three.  What are your favorite Hadley and Harper memories?  Help a sick lady out.  in the meantime, I'm going to go take a nap....if only I could find a pillow big enough for my head.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

For Geoff

Dear Hadley,

This year you welcomed Christmas with much exuberance.  You couldn't wait to open presents.  You kneeled next to them under the tree and stared at them longingly.  You brushed your hands against the stockings to see whether the bumps and crinkles were toys. You talked about Santa almost everyday.

The thing is, though, I think you liked the idea of a wrapped present - a surprise - more then what the present turned out to be.  After the presents were opened and you found out what they all were, the excitement was over.  I think it was hard on you. 

 As I watched you this past week, making a mental note of what I would write about on the ol' blog, I noticed that the best things you got this year, are the things that have been around for awhile.  Keeping you company, making you laugh, helping to mold you into the person you are becoming.

One morning when we were in Chicago, Grandma started to play "Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" on the piano and you came running up from the basement to join in.  She played "Silent Night" next and you sang along to that one, too.  On another night, when we were in Grand Rapids, you and Harper played happily together in Grandma and Grandpa's living room while the rest us sat around the table and talked. 

You also got to meet some of your cousins.
You're sitting next to Clara, my cousin Tonia's daughter.  She is named after our Grandma.  I think she'll probably be a spitfire like our Grandma was too. 

Speaking of spitfires....
You got to hang out with another cousin while we were in Chicago, too.  I think this was a highlight for you.  I could tell you felt like a big girl sitting with an almost 13 year old.

My favorite memory from this year's Christmas?  One night, your Uncle Geoff and Aunt Kellee, and your dad and I went out while we were in Chicago.  When we came home, and pulled into the garage, we realized that when we opened the back door, we would in turn wake Grandma and Grandpa up.  This was because they were sleeping in the room off of the kitchen (being the generous souls that they are, they gave us the bedrooms while we were visiting).  This sent the four of us into a fit of giggles.  And also, by the time we got to the backdoor, we decided we were all starving.  So not only did we wake your grandparents up, we made ourselves a little snack, too.  Don't worry, Grandma and Grandpa were laughing too.  Grandma said, "Don't feel awkward about the fact that you're standing in our bedroom."  This just sent us into another fit of laughter.

I think at this point, your Uncle Geoff decided to make himself a hashbrown, and we all thought that was absurd which just made things even more ridiculous. 

But I thought as I was getting ready for bed that night, that of all the gifts my parents could've given me, having Geoff to hang out with is one of the greatest.  And now to add your Aunt Kellee to the mix is a lovely gift as well.

I don't know if you'll remember all the presents you got when you were 4.  I'm guessing you won't.  And you might not remember making a snowman, playing in the basements of your grandparents' homes, lots of rounds of Zingo, or you and Harper watching the Nutcracker together while sitting in one of Grandma and Grandpa Feyen's chairs.  But I wrote them down for you, and I hope that in time you will see that as exciting as a beautifully wrapped, sparkly present is, it doesn't compare to laughing so hard your stomach hurts because the members in your family are so, so funny.

Merry Christmas, Hadley.  I'm going to see if there are any hashbrowns in the freezer.