Sunday, March 19, 2017

Madeline Turns Double Digits -- Happy 10th to our Girl!!

I can't believe Madeline is 10 years old. We've been parents for a decade! When she was 2, I used to say, "Do you know what you are?" And I taught her to answer, "Delightful." Because she was then, and she is now too. It is amazing watching her grow, mature, learn. She is a lovely young lady.

The Friday before her birthday weekend began, she brought strawberry cupcakes with homemade frosting to share with her class. I love how she's old enough to feel self-conscious -- she said, "Mom, do I have to carry my cupcakes to school in a giant plastic tub?" (She's never cared before). Ah! To be back in 4th grade! So we borrowed a cupcake container from a friend so she could deliver her treats in style.

On her actual birthday weekend, we celebrated as a family. She woke up Saturday morning to a brand new bike! (Which Bitsy accidentally knocked down a few hours later, mangling the brakes...but daddy to the rescue!). Sunday was March 19, and Rob gave Madeline her traditional birthday bouquet of flowers. He's never missed a year. We stuck a candle in EVERYTHING all day long. Bitsy sang Happy birthday on repeat, though it took until about 4pm before she said Madeline's name instead of Charlie's. These things are confusing. The boys ADORE Madeline, and they showered her with love and affection. Charlie used his allowance to buy Madeline an art kit, and I'm still finding little "I love Madeline" notes from John, who is learning how to write. Right after breakfast, Madeline opened her gifts from family -- she felt so special! We had fun baking a cake, which Madeline loved decorating.

The following weekend, we celebrated with Madeline's best friends (minus one, who moved back to Seattle in January). It is a joy for me to plan these parties not just for, but with the kids now -- Madeline researched fun Harry Potter theme ideas on Pinterest, and we bought darling handmade invitations from the local British bookstore in town, Chapter One. On the day of the party, all the little girls found out from their moms that it was actually a surprise slumber party! Madeline's first!! Mimi (who has asked that we only call her by her nickname at home as a family), answered the door in her Halloween Hermione Granger costume (Hogwarts wizard robe and Gryffindor tie), and promptly drew a Harry Potter scar on everyone's forehead using my kohl eyeliner. Even Bitsy, Rob and I were decorated. (Which reminds me that Madeline chose my party outfit -- yellow and red Gryffindor house colors).

The girls and boys made magic wands, played freeze tag (the tagger was Voldemort), concocted elaborate potions with pretty hilarious names, used Quills to write spells, pinned the Scar on the Harry (which Madeline expertly sketched, to her friends' delight!), played Harry Potter bingo, burst open an owl piñata and ate tiny chocolate snitches (gold Lindt balls with feather wings). We sang happy birthday to Madeline and she blew out the candles on her Snitch cake, but everyone was too full to eat any.

And then the slumber party began! The girls changed into their pjs and we set up a Pizza Hut carpet picnic in the playroom, which we transformed into a movie theater, while they watched the first Harry Potter film. Meanwhile, the boys watched Star Wars in the family room so they wouldn't have nightmares. We popped popcorn and everyone received their own bag of movie-theater candy.
Midway through the movie, we Skyped with the missing fifth in their group of friends, Madeline Person -- the girls were squealing!! After the movie ended, there was a lot of giggling. (A real lot). It was adorable. But at midnight, I gently laid down the law, knowing that the Euro clocks were changing and it was actually 1am. (Sadly, an hour later, Madeline woke up vomiting. We were sure it was from eating too much candy! But then the following night, Rob wasn't well and we realized it was a 6 hour bug. The crazy thing is....her friends never knew, and she felt great in the morning (which is another reason why we believed it was from sugar overload).

The next morning, we decorated Belgian waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream, rolled up sleeping bags, and said goodbye to Julia, Ofir and Lior. As they left, everyone received a favor bag filled with a tiny Hedwig owl, Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans (known to us muggles simple as jelly beans), and a framed photograph of the five besties. Charlie and John's picture frames had a photo of the four Vlach kids apple picking.
The twins singing Madeline "Happy Birthday!"

God blessed us with such a sweet, thoughtful, intelligent, kind, dedicated, absolutely LOVELY girl for a daughter. Sure has been a great ten years. In ten more, she'll be 20! (Ahhhh, please please stop time!). We love you, precious Madeline May.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Lovely Stop in Fairytale Colmar

I have always wanted to visit Colmar, France! So it was a joy when we looked at a map and realized we would literally drive right through it from our ski vacation in the Vosges Mountains down to the Swiss Alps!

We parked and walked without a plan....my favorite way to travel. The half-timbered architecture was gorgeous and storybook -- I couldn't stop taking pictures. The kids and I visited a used bookstore and we let them pick out postcards, which they love to do wherever we travel.

Soon we found the Eglise St. Martin, Colmar's medieval cathedral. It transports you for a few minutes to another time.
Directly across the street, we found a perfect restaurant with a view for moules and frites (mussels and french fries), then stopped in a bakery for a slice of Black Forest cake before we hopped back in the car.... I would love to come back a little later in the season to see all the flowers and canals. It was the perfect quick stop!
Black Forest Cake (or Forêt Noire Gateau)