Friday, April 29, 2011

After the storm

The past two days have been a time of sadness and destruction for so many around the south especially here in Alabama.  Two nights ago devastating tornadoes hit our great state and left houses destroyed and over 200 people dead.  We spent much this past Wednesday night listening to tornado sirens blare and reading books in our "safe place."  Thankfully our area of town had very little damage and I am so grateful that we are safe and sound but many others were not so lucky.  Sadly, this included the city of Fultondale where Matt's office is located.

We got a phone call Wednesday night that a tornado actually hit Matt's office.  No one could get close enough during the night to actually confirm this because of the damage all around. Matt left very early yesterday morning and when he finally could get to his building this is what he found.

Thankfully the storms came after everyone had gone home for the evening and the office was empty.

This is the view inside from his office.

And from where the front doors used to be.

Matt spent yesterday afternoon alongside coworkers trying to salvage anything they could.  They were told to get anything of value out because looters would come to take anything that is left.  I am so disgusted and really do not understand how there are people in this world who will take from those who are already suffering and have lost so much.

Hannah and Lily are out of school this week and so I took them to Florence yesterday to stay with Mom so that Matt could work from home if he needed.  It was hard leaving Birmingham and watching as we passed the Fire and Rescue caravans racing with their lights flashing to help those in need.  Tornadoes hit several cities that we passed through on our drive to Florence and it was heart breaking to see up close homes that were destroyed right next to the road.  People just standing around looking helpless and so very sad.

Please keep in your prayers those who have lost their homes and possessions, the souls of those who were killed and also those who prey on people who are already dealing with such loss and destruction.

Good night dear friends and family.  I hope you are all safe and sound at home with your loved ones.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


As soon as Hannah turned four last April the countdown to turning five started.  I am pretty sure this is how it will be for many years to come.  I want time to slow down and she wants nothing more than for time to pass quickly.

My little one is so excited that she is finally five years old.  To be honest, five is a number I am having a little trouble coming to terms with.  I think it is because, first of all, time is flying by (as many mothers before me told me it would) and also because five means kindergarten is right around the corner.  Kindergarten = five days of school for us and I am trying to prepare myself for this entry into real deal every day school.

This sweet girl is growing so quickly and Matt and I often talk of how much joy, fun and laughter she brings to our home.  I think if I had to sum up Hannah in one word it would be joyful.  She is so happy in everything that she does and there is just something about her that brightens up a room.  She loves her friends and family and is constantly telling us how much she loves us whether it is in her words or works of art.

This year has brought a new obsession interest in dinosaurs.  Every week she is allowed to check out one book from her school library and every week it is about a dinosaur.  I am constantly amazed at the words coming out of her mouth as she identifies every dinosaur that we see from memory and announces whether it is a carnivore, herbivore, etc.  Santa left Hannah some wonderful 3d puzzles this year and she and her dad worked hard to put them together.  I had to laugh after they put them together and she informed Matt that she wanted to paint them pink.

We celebrated Hannah's fifth year over the course of several days.  Hannah's birthday morning started with a request for waffles and breakfast in bed.

On her actual birthday we had a family celebration with pizza for dinner and cake for dessert.  Mom was in town and we invited our Birmingham family members Lauren and Chase and Jessie and Matt and their girls Ruthie and Elsie over for a little party.

Friday was Hannah's school party, which is always so much fun for her. On your birthday you get to wear a special birthday crown and have a little party.

Saturday was a princess garden party at our house with some neighbors and girl friends from school.  We have stuck to family birthday parties in the past, so this was our first party to really include friends in the festivities.  I let Hannah decide the theme of her party and was a little surprised by her request for a princess party.  She is not really into all things princess but she has been to several princess themed birthday parties and she does like to dress up in her "princess attire".  So with the theme chosen I got to work on the food and activities.

Hannah welcomed her friends by giving each one a wand when they arrived.  These wands were used to pop bubbles that were floating around the back yard.

After the bubble fun all of the princesses were invited over to a table where they could create their very own princess spoon puppet.  There was lots of different yarn, paper, and hats for the girls to choose from and I thought they all turned out great.

After the princess puppets were complete all the girls came over to a blanket in the grass to listen to the story The Princess and the Pea.  Only "true" princesses were invited to Hannah's party, so after the story we had to test each one to make sure that she was indeed a real princess.  I brought two pillows outside and placed a "pea" under one of the pillows.  The girls took turns sitting on each of the pillows to see if they could feel the pea.  They then had to tell the group which pillow it was under and I would check to see if they were right.  They each guessed correctly and we knew that each one was a true princess :).

No princess garden party would be complete without tea sandwiches, little blueberry muffins, fruit and cupcakes.  These were served with pink lemonade on picnic blankets in the grass.

Finally, with Easter just around the corner, instead of just passing out favors we put the favors in Easter eggs and let everyone have a little Easter egg hunt in the yard.  To make it a little more "princess-y" we hid a glass slipper instead of a golden egg.

I took Hannah and her friends around to the front for a group picture while the moms hid the eggs around the back yard.  And as soon as we were done the hunt began!

The party was so fun and Hannah really felt special with so many of her friends at our house to help celebrate her birthday.

Oh and I almost forgot to mention one of the best parts of the day.  We had the party at 10:00 in the morning on Saturday and Bekah and Rachel were supposed to drive down from Nashville Friday night.  We had awful storms come through all day Friday, tornado sirens and all, and so the weather was too dangerous for them to drive through.  We were really disappointed that they couldn't be here but of course wanted them to stay safe and sound.  Well, right as the party is starting who should walk through our front door but these two faces...

They woke up extra early and drove three hours to surprise Hannah and the rest of us too.  Can I just say I love my sisters!  They get the best aunts of the year award from us especially since they had to leave right after the party to get back to Nashville for an event that night!

It was quite a birthday and I think that about covers the fun.

I am going to start a tradition of a birthday quiz with my girls each year.  I look forward to seeing how the answers to these questions change as they grow.   Here are Hannah's answers to her first ever birthday quiz...

Favorite food: Pasta and cupcakes
Favorite TV show: Dinosaur Train
Favorite book: Any dinosaur book
Favorite color: Pink and rainbow (yep rainbow ;))
Favorite thing to do: Play with friends

Happy birthday my sweet girl!  We love you and are looking forward to seeing all the wonderful things that this year holds for you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

We had a very low key but very happy Easter here at our little Brown house.  Hannah and Lily are on the mend and feeling better with each passing hour.  They both slept in this morning, which meant Matt and I could sleep in too!  When they finally did roll out of bed they were greeted with some Easter treats left by the Easter Bunny last night.

Hannah is wearing the same pajamas that she wore for Christmas.  She would wear nothing else last night saying she wore them for Santa so she had to wear them for the Easter Bunny.  Nothing says Easter like wool red plaid pajamas. :)

At the beginning of Lent we made a crown of thorns out of a grapevine wreath and some toothpicks.  Each time Hannah or Lily did a good deed or made a sacrifice they could pull one of the toothpicks out of the crown.  Their goal was to have all the thorns removed by Easter.

The thorns were all gone this morning and the crown became an Easter centerpiece for our table to remind us of the beauty of this wonderful day.

I was a little worried about breakfast this morning with our new non-dairy, non-egg and non-peanut diet.  Usually we break out the sausage balls (with cheese), cinnamon rolls (with milk and egg), and fruit for holiday breakfasts.  With a little thought though we managed to still have a breakfast that felt somewhat special with real deal bacon, non-dairy, non-egg cinnamon muffins (via my new cookbook The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book) and some strawberries on the side.

After breakfast we went outside to hunt Easter eggs left by the Easter bunny in the backyard.  We did not go to church this morning because of lingering germs and with Hannah and Lily still not feeling 100%.  They were both in good spirits after breakfast and so I did coax them into putting on their Easter dresses to hunt eggs.

The Easter Bunny got a little creative this year with treats inside the Easter eggs.  No more milk chocolate bunnies, m&ms, etc...  Thankfully though, both the Easter bunny and I have discovered the yumminess of non-dairy chocolate chips.

These plus gummy fruit snacks and barrettes filled many of their eggs.

Oh, and funny how Hannah happened to find a land cruiser in one of the Easter eggs.  I think that egg was somehow meant for Matt. :)  The Easter Bunny knows us so well.

This was not our normal Easter but thankfully we were able to watch Mass on television and enjoy some quiet time at home.  I am looking forward to next year when we will hopefully all be healthy and celebrating Easter morning at church in the congregation singing Alleluia and then eating our Easter meal surrounded by extended family and friends. 

I hope that you all had a healthy and very blessed Easter day.