Saturday, August 13, 2011

3 Cheers for Volunteers!

“Our past research shows that adults are twice as likely to volunteer if they began participating when they were kids.”
--Diana Aviv, CEO of Independent Sector, the national leadership forum for America's nonprofit organizations, foundations, and corporations

I love running. My dad instilled a great love for the sport in me and, had my mom not had her cartilage removed from her knee, i'm sure she would have been a source of running inspiration for me as well.

When the twin and I first started running road races with my dad, we noticed that he would thank every.single.volunteer on the course. Every one of them. It was an awesome example to us. 

Then came the time when I couldn't run due to injuries. I started volunteering in Cambridge (abroad and in the USA) at local road races and loved being on the flip side of the course. The free shirts and gear didn't hurt either.

When I joined the ATC as a competitive runner I was excited to join them as a volunteer, too. The girls & I have volunteered together for 6 races. It's so awesome to see them participate with me, even if it does mean they'll also be playing with their dolls at the same time!


The girls and i were pretty impressed with
the caliber and quantity of runners on such a hilly (and hot!) course

Cutie Face was especially enthralled by the running atmosphere and insisted on wearing "her" volunteer shirt for the rest of the day--the whole day! The only thing she didn't like was when I cheered too loudly for the runners. Embarrassed & alarmed at my unfortunate ability to encourage others through screaming, she asked me to stop quite a few times before my voice finally broke & i had to stop anyway...but boy do her pleas for "being quiet" certainly sound I'm pretty sure i begged my dad to not be as loud when I was with him a time or two :)

As always, a huge perk for the girls at any running race is the post-race bash which usually means bagels and, if they're lucky...watered down sports drinks. At the Grand Finale 5k, though, this meant a huge breakfast spread compliments of the ATC and catered by the awesome Einstein Bros. Bagels. 

Thanks for tagging along with me, girls! 
You are definitely my super star volunteers!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Enchanted Garden

“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.”
--Elizabeth Lawrence

We went on a field trip with Cutie Face's preschool friends to the Oakhurst Cooperative Garden. This garden is actually within running distance and it was so much fun that I am storing it in my "destination running routes" list for future reference.

Cutie Cakes was thrilled to tag along but she got a little confused keeping up with preschool-ese.

For example: the kids all thought it was absolutely hysterical to "shoo" the flies off their food. Again. And again. And about 100 times more after that.

Poor Cutie Cakes.

After hearing "shoo" for a solid 3 minutes, she picked up her foot, hoisted it on the table, and said, loudly and definitively:


Huh? What's that?

oh :(

Don't feel too badly for her, though!

The big kids scooped her up and she quickly became the much-doted-upon child...
make that toted around child--she was dragged all over in that wagon!

Cutie Face loved pulling the wagon for all her friends

but it sure did tire her out!

Nothing that a little R&R on a bench swing couldn't fix!
of course, some children want to do it all themselves

speaking of doing it yourself, our little 18-month old led the way down the path and straight into the creek that flows through the garden. She just climbed down the bank and plopped her cute little Croc-clad feet right into that rusty water before I could even say, "WAIT!"

She kind of gave us all that look, like, "Why wait?" and that was all the older kids needed to scramble down and join her in splashing and exploring.

Sweet preschool friends. I love watching their friendship develop as they get older and learn more about the dynamics of relationships.

their foray into the creek (and the smell!) instantly brought me back to the adventures the twin and I and our neighborhood friends would have in our back yard. 

We could have spent hours in there, building forts, plopping rocks, chasing frogs, running from spiders. Ah! the memories! 

What we certainly didn't have in the same space, though, were chickens:

turns out they love the rind of watermelon. Easily pleased i suppose
and though we could dream about the coolest fort, we could never have imagined an awesomely-fun, hobbit-inspired, mud house to fuel hours of play

filled with nooks and crannies, 

benches and windows

the options for free-play were mind-boggling

unfortunately, Cutie Cakes failed to realize that the bench she is standing on in this picture did not continue forever

...and she quickly found herself on the dirt floor. To make matters worse, she had fully immersed herself in the creek so she was wet when she fell, only adding to the amount of dirt and grime she accumulated upon falling. I stripped her down but she wasn't too pleased with the current state of affairs (embarrassed for sure!) so we left quickly after that

regardless of how it ended, it was a great adventure in the garden with friends!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Balanced Life

“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some & think some and draw & paint and sing & dance and play & work every day some.”
--Robert Fulghum

Cutie Face turned

on August 8th
(or, as she likes to say, the Day the Olympics Started)

In keeping with our 4-gift theme
(want, wear, need, read)

we bought her a balance bike
(we placed it in the "need" category as in, she needs to learn how to ride a bike and, hopefully through that accomplishment, gain confidence in herself)

With a big boost from J, she eagerly tried it

when it came time for the actual balance by yourself

 well...she wanted to trust her daddy

 but that kind of faith doesn't come easy, either

 Little Cutie Cakes watched and waited

and then it was her turn!

if you look closely, you can see that Cutie Face was thrilled to allow her little sister have a go on the balance bike:

It was a win-win by the looks of excitement on both sisters faces

and i think J might have enjoyed himself, too

Sunday, August 7, 2011

long absence, huge request

I realize it's been ages, literally months and months, since i've updated this blog. I regret that for lots of reasons and hope to be back in bloggy land one day soon...

but for now, i'm posting for a purpose. 
For a blog-friend turned In-Real-Life friend. 
More specifically, for their 5-day old son, Caden.

Long story short, Caden's much-anticipated and very-celebrated arrival was quickly dampened by news of a previously unknown and very serious heart condition. Due to the severity and urgency of his weak heart, this little tiny, not even one-week old will be undergoing open-heart surgery tomorrow morning (Monday, August 8th).

His family, our friends, are the most incredible people you'll ever meet--they are full time missionaries filled with an incredible passion for the very people Jesus himself was most passionate about--the poor, especially those living in the inner-city of Atlanta. 

It is very apparent that Becca and Adam are being thrown all sorts of curves to test their faith in the Lord and His plan for their family. Caden's heart condition is no exception. But their faith is being strengthened even in this crazy whirlwind of adversity.

Please join me in praying for peace and hope for Becca and Adam, wisdom and steadiness for the surgeons, and safety and healing for Caden. 

For more details, please see their blog: The Stanley Clan

Monday, August 1, 2011

Agility Tests

It's the summer.

It's the summer in Atlanta.

It is HOT.

Regardless, we love playing outside

(confession: sunny, hot recreation makes for better naps and bedtimes so i love playing outside)

When it is so hot, though, we seek out playgrounds with water elements or shady spots.

Recently, we've been fond of one sweet little park that recently reopened. It's super shady and has a lot to offer for the girls.

Cutie Face, a non-daredevil, somewhat-scaredy cat, is largely afraid to test her skills and her confidence. As her mom, I really want to instill a strong sense of confidence and self-esteem because i know she can pretty much do anything that she sets her mind to do (did i mention she is very strong-willed? yeah. two strong-willed parents meant we weren't getting off easy).

Sometimes I want it too badly and might push her to do something to the point of her freaking out about it. I mean, we've had humongous meltdowns (yes plural) in the middle of McDonald Playlands because she cannot/does not want to climb higher and cannot for the life of her, will herself back down the climbing apparatus.

That's why i'm SO proud of the leaps she has taken (literally!) at this new playground.

She's becoming quite agile on the equipment and I love to see her blossom and smile from her accomplishments. We've been working on memorizing and praying Philippians 4:13 and I think she's learning to apply that to every day situations. Hooray!

Who knew a playground could offer so many life lessons?

in other news, Cutie Cakes is pretty self-assured.
she thinks she's pretty funny, too

and is always wanting to go faster, stronger, higher (isn't that the Olympics theme?)

and then says (and signs, too, for added emphasis):
More More More!

It definitely helps that these two have each other
they balance each other out

and are just the right amount of crazy

PS Other perks about our new favorite shady playground?

a leave-the-sand-there sandbox and wash-it-all-off water faucet