Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Best Gifts

We received a wonderful Christmas gift this year...unexpected family.

We had planned to celebrate with friends, because Bubba and Grandpa (my parents) were originally headed to NH to visit with my brother's family this year. Grandpa Murphy and Miss Suzanne were headed off to Atlanta to visit with her children and grandchildren.

But due to an unfortunate health scare, we received my parents early to Florida. Definitely a silver lining for us, especially since everything is okay with their health. Not so much joy for my brother and his family, though.  We obviously felt bad for them as the ones to spend the holidays alone, but we also felt incredibly grateful to have Bubba and Grandpa here with us in Florida for the holidays.

And then, our Aunt Diane and Uncle Rick decided to come down, too. They'd realized that there won't be too many more years to enjoy the magic of our children's innocent joy on Christmas morning. They had planned to stay at Grandpa Murphy's--which is about thirty minutes away--but thanks to some divine intervention, the garage door code didn't work. So we drummed up a fine little 'Plan B' for them to stay at our house. We enjoyed Christmas Eve Mass together at SVF and had dinner with Bubba and Grandpa at their house. And it was such a blessing to have them right there with us! Little did we know, they had never actually witnessed the magic of Santa firsthand, not having children of their own. What a gift it was for them, and for us, to watch Madi and Charlie discover their goodies from Santa that next morning!


Charlie definitely embraced the ripping open of packages this year. He seemed to understand the concept much more than last year's festivities. Madi, who'd asked for nothing more than "a surprise" from Santa (even though she'd written a note for Peter--our elf on the shelf--to deliver to Santa, asking for parallel bars), was happy to receive a few special things. Her favorite of which was a pile of lumber and hardware in our backyard, along with a note:

"Dear Madi,
I understand that you’ve wanted me to bring you a set of your very own parallel bars. As much as I would like to grant your Christmas wish, you must understand that Santa’s first priority is keeping children safe.  Therefore, I cannot give you this gift at this time. 

I have noticed, however, that you really could use a new balance beam to practice and improve your gymnastics skills, so I’ve left all of the supplies in your backyard for your Daddy to build you a new one. I trust that you and your parents can determine the proper height, but please remember my top priority of safety… 

You are such a good girl, sweet Madolyn Murphy. I always enjoy hearing Peter’s reports of your kindness and your silly ways. And I know you are a terrific big sister.  Keep up the good work."

Yours truly,
Santa Claus

Wishing you all a blessed Christmas season and all of the best gifts in 2013, too!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Festivities

Oh my, have we been busy!  And sometimes I can't quite remember what we are so busy doing.  Until I look at our photos, and then it all comes back...

Early in December, we took our annual trip to Bethlehem. This is definitely one of our favorite activities to remember the reason for the season.

Madi and her friends were hilarious. They knew exactly what the Roman soldiers were going to ask them, so they were sure to be well-prepped. When the mean Roman soldier shouted, "What brings you to Bethlehem?" The girls replied, without hesitation, "We've come to pay our taxes!"  That response from four little girls ages seven and under just gave us a chuckle. Even the guard was taken aback.  As part of our tradition, Madi brought four roses, so she and her friends could each give one to Baby Jesus.

Our elf on the shelf appeared again this year.  No one was happier than Jimmy and I that Peter decided to come back. It is amazing how the behavior changes when Peter's around. Madi herself admits that it's true!  In fact, Madi wishes that Peter could stay all year long. So do we...

We celebrated Grandpa Wharton's 78th birthday together on the avenue. Madi loves that she gets to be included in the grown-up festivities while Charlie has to stay home with a sitter.


We ventured downtown one night to see the tree and to sit on Santa's lap. Madi asked for nothing more than "a surprise" from Santa.  Charlie was calm and cool with Santa. He said nothing, but he didn't appear to be scared. I believe he was taking his cues from Madi.


On Saturday, we took a field trip with our Girl Scout troop to sing Christmas carols at a retirement home. The girls did a great job singing, and it was a fun experience for all. It was a nice break from the hustle and bustle to do something kind for others.

Madi and Daddy baked and decorated Christmas cookies together yesterday. They had so much fun, and Madi decided to put a ball of cookie dough into Jimmy's pocket as a practical joke. She is her father's daughter...


We didn't manage to put a Christmas card together this year, but please know that we love you all, and we appreciate receiving your pictures and updates of your families. 

Merry Christmas from the Murphy family!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Our little gymnast

When I began writing this post in my head, it seemed almost wrong. Somehow I felt guilty posting about something that seems so insignificant in the wake of such tragic events, even though it is entirely significant in our lives. While we have the luxury of celebrating our children's accomplishments, others have had that luxury completely and painfully ripped away from them.

My heart hurts for those families in Newtown.

Yesterday was the third Sunday of Advent, representing joy and the coming of Jesus. Seeing joy in all things, and recognizing joy in all circumstances.

So despite the sadness that the families of Newtown are now enduring, we must go on...and we must celebrate, more than ever, our children and their accomplishments. We should embrace them with a fresh set of eyes, and realize that we cannot afford to take a moment for granted.

Yesterday was Madi's first gymnastics competition. And, once again, our daughter's physical abilities blew us away. She was poised and graceful under pressure. But me...not so much. I was a nervous wreck. Mommy must've absorbed every ounce of stress for my baby girl.  And Madi almost flawlessly delivered in all events. These were her scores:

Vault: 9.8
Bars: 9.3
Beam: 9.2
Floor: 9.5

Madi LOVED her experience. It is clear that taking some time off after Charlie came home did her some good and she has found her passion for the sport again. I don't know if gymnastics "team" will be in her future, but it certainly seems that the choice will be hers...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

the Christmas parade

I had the pleasure of being one of the chaperones to march in the Delray Beach Christmas parade alongside Madi and the other twirlers last weekend.

I must admit that there were a few surreal moments in which I found myself slightly choked up--as it "hit me" that my baby, who is suddenly seven, was marching in a parade. And she looked so beautiful to boot.  Madi's such a natural performer.

Jimmy reserved seating at one of the avenue restaurants with Charlie and my Mom and Dad. Charlie promptly fell asleep on Bubba's lap, which gave the adults some "quiet time" over a cocktail or two. When he woke up, they watched the parade and awaited Madi's arrival. Madi and I spotted Bubba and Charlie right away. Charlie looked so precious...and a bit confused as to why Mommy and Madi were walking in the street with a bunch of people that he didn't recognize. Once our job was finished, we headed back to the restaurant to join them. all our years in Delray, for some reason we've never attended the Christmas parade before, yet alone marched in it. Now I can safely say that we'll never 'not' attend the parade again. It will forever be on our Christmas to-do list.

We adore our charming town that continues to celebrate the reason for the season.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

One big mess

I've posted, in the past, about our sweet Charlie's pack rat-ish tendencies. Last night, I gave Char Char a little lecture about picking up his toys, which happen to be scattered all over the house. I explained that they are a danger to Bubba and Grandpa (who just came back from CA Tuesday night:)

So, son decided to gather up his belongings and moved his compound...into my bathroom.

He is now claiming that it is "his house."

Mama gets no privacy.

Yep. Charlie's not yet toilet trained, but he's taken up residence in my bathroom. Maybe this is a good time to get that training thing started...

His front door is a barricade of dirty laundry that was unloaded from our hamper. He also decided that shoes should add a nice touch to his new space, so he's removed each and every shoe from Jimmy's closet--and mine--and has added them to his decor.

And his building blocks?  Oh yes, they are in there, too.  Along with a chair, his blanket, and a few other items. He even has room for a guest (Madi).


I hate to break the news to him that his house must be moved again before the authorities come in and deem his establishment as an unsafe place to live.

And sooner or later, I'm gonna need to get back in my bathroom!


The Hole Shebang

Remember that Atrial Septal Defect (hole) in Charlie's heart that was reported on his paperwork in China?

I talked about it in the book, because once we brought Charlie home, neither his pediatrician nor his cardiologist could confirm that he had a hole in his heart.

Well now, it's been confirmed that he doesn't. 

When we initially took Charlie in, the cardiologist asked us to bring him back when he turned three, so we took Charlie in this week for his follow-up.  They did an EKG and an echo-cardiogram and confirmed that his ASD is actually gone.



Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shopping with Mom

I guess it's not the most thrilling experience in the world.  Enough said...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This Thanksgiving was spent in New Smyrna Beach with Aunt Diane and Uncle Rick, and we seemed to keep coming back to a certain theme.


The stuff that carves memories into stone. And the experiences that children remember most about their childhood due to the beautiful and simple familiarity of it all.

So, we realized, after spending several Thanksgiving holidays in New Smyrna that we've built some traditions of our own.

We always drive up on Wednesday...making at least three pit stops and turning a normally three-hour drive into much, much more.

We always go to Stavros Pizza for dinner that night, where I totally binge on the best Greek salad on earth.  And Madi makes at least two mandatory trips to the potty (cause a girl's always gotta check out the restroom at a restaurant).


We always stay up a little late catching up, playing, and prepping for the next day.  Madi helps Aunt Diane make appetizers, a centerpiece, and place cards for the table.

Madi always helps Uncle Rick make the pumpkin pies the next morning (which were exceptional this year:)  Aunt Diane claims it was Madi's touch, because she patiently stirs the pie filling until it's just perfect.

Madi always sets the table with Aunt Diane, making sure that everything is in it's proper place. Yeah...she's a little bit of a control freak perfectionist, like her Mom. 

We always play in their gigantic driveway and take a family walk through their neighborhood to collect 'nature'. And we come home with some sticks, some stones, and some cool pine cones.

Aunt Diane and Uncle Rick proceed to whip up a delicious turkey and about ten side dishes, all while making it look as if they're just hanging out and chillin'.

We always eat too much, but the food is always so good.

We always go to bed with full bellies, and get up in the morning to head back home.

And we find ourselves feeling...well...most thankful for all of it.


Hope you managed to form some of your own this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our dear friends, Jeff and Julia, decided to drive their three kids up North for Thanksgiving. But they also decided to take a truck along with them--packed with necessities for the victims of Tropical Storm Sandy.

These kind-hearted people, who devote so much of their personal time to running The Miracle League of Delray Beach (a baseball team for special needs children), took this on just two weeks before the holiday. Julia was on a mission to get the job done, and they did!

Our Girl Scout Troop 20008 was proud to be able to contribute items for their collection, and we delivered them last weekend as a group.

Happy Thanksgiving, Kadel family!  We will be thinking of you and know that your holiday will be richly blessed!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twirling Debut

Last night was a BIG night for Madi. She had her twirling debut at a college football game with the entire South Florida Dynamics twirling team.

You heard me. A college football game.  FAU vs. FIU.

Of course, the game didn't matter a hoot to me (even if we were rooting for the owls). All I cared about was the half-time show. Because my daughter was performing.

WOW.  Pinch me!!!

Madi was SO a-w-e-s-o-m-e. She claims that she was "a little bit" nervous, but I swear the kid thrives under pressure!  It was reported that she was shown on the Jumbotron (the giant TV screen)!

I'll stop typing now to give you a pre-performance glimpse of our little beauty. Can you tell that we are just a wee-bit proud of our girl??


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A trip to the dentist

So, it wasn't exactly the most relaxing teeth cleaning I've had, but perhaps it was
the most amusing with my two little supervisors in the room!

God bless my dental hygienist who had to work under such scrutiny!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My late Halloween post...

...because I'm a bit behind these days!

Before Halloween, we made our annual trip to the pumpkin patch with our friends, Carmelina and Sophia. The weather wasn't perfect, due to the tropical storm, but the rain stopped long enough for the kids to run around a bit and choose their little pumpkins to bring home.


Madi decided to dress as a "baton twirler" this year.  Not much of a stretch for her...since she is a baton twirler.  Oh well, her choice of costume sure made our job easy, and it didn't cost a thing:)

A friend had given Charlie a cute construction worker dress-up set for his birthday, which we wisely saved for the occasion.  He loved it.

The eye goggles looked so funny on him, and his little face was so contorted. But he didn't want to take them off. Suffice it to say, I was laughing so hard I nearly wet my pants taking these pictures (sorry...but it's true). Look at that face--priceless!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Daisy Love

This year, I am the co-leader of Madi's Daisy troop with my good friend, Carrie. We attended a leadership meeting several weeks back, and we were so glad we went.  Because it truly gave us a "refresher course" in creativity.  This is our troop, and we are free to run it the way we choose to.

So last week, we were aiming for the girls to earn their Friendly and Helpful petals. We needed them to come up with activities to achieve those goals, and boy did they come through.

For the first component--"friendly"--a couple of our girls suggested that we give away free hugs. The girls all LOVED this idea, and Carrie made all of them signs to hold up. Our troop reported to the office right after school, and they hugged everyone in sight.

I could not believe the impact that this simple act of kindness made!  Our girls were literally making such a difference, and people were thrilled to receive a hug from these five little innocent cuties!!  Then we took it down the corridors, and they hugged teachers, too.  Of course Miss Maldonado, of Kindergarten fame, was high on the hug list.

What overflowing joy to be their leaders...


For the "helpful" component, I had contacted the school to see if the Principal could come up with something helpful for the girls to do on the school grounds during our meeting. We were totally expecting to be outside picking up litter or cleaning playground equipment or something along those lines. When we reported for duty, an office administrator said, "You know...I was just thinking today...we really need number signs for our new tables in our new lunchroom. Could the girls work on that for us?"


How cool is that?!  We all enjoyed coloring those numbers, even the Moms!  We can hardly wait for the new cafeteria to open, so the Daisies can see the fruits of their labor every single day! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Twenty years

Jimmy and I marked our twenty year anniversary on October 17th. We decided to have date night on Friday to celebrate.

Of course, Miss Madi was incensed when she discovered that our plans didn't include her. After all, "we've had twenty years together, and she's hasn't had that much time with us."

But after a couple of days to digest our plans, our daughter warmed up to the idea. And surprised us with this sweet gift on our bed.

Her card was so cute. She paper-clipped a dollar bill to help us pay for our dinner.

And then on Friday, she decided to surprise us with an anniversary snack of a green apple, pine nuts, M&M's and a scoop of peanut butter. Her presentation was simply beautiful, just like her.

Our date night was just fabulous. Jimmy and I were able to have some adult time, count all of our blessings, and make plans for our next twenty years.

Thank you, sweet Madi, for making Mommy & Daddy's milestone so extra special!  You are a gem:)