Lucky 7

My baby Cadence turned seven today.

Now, all of a sudden, I look at her and all the baby is officially gone. I listen to her talking, look at her face or the way she moves and I get glimpses of the adult she will become. She’s in this strange in-between place–where she is still very much a child, but where she also shows me daily just how smart and perceptive and wise she is.

She’s seven, and for some reason, that’s really hard for me to wrap my mind around.

For the past few years, I’ve shared Cadence’s crazy birth story on my blog as a 4-part series, detailing the events and the chaos and the seemingly endless days in the hospital that led up to her abrupt arrival. Most people who follow my blog are familiar with the story, but if you missed it, you can read it HERE.

In some strange way, it has always felt to me like Cadence’s crazy arrival on this earth mirrors her personality in many ways. The girl has a soul so big and full of life that it literally bursts out of her–in song lyrics and movie quotes and unbridled, infectious laughter. Her voice is raspy almost all the time because (much like her Daddy) she only seems to have one volume–LOUD.

No, Cadence’s birthday and birth story, like her, are not something that could be muted or contained. And somehow, just writing down and sharing that story every year was something I needed to do to be able to wrap my head around the fact that this beautiful child, with a presence so big it fills every room she walks into, is someone that I had a part in creating.

This year, I sat down on January 31 to start sharing Cadence’s birth saga once again, but this year it just didn’t feel right. This year, instead of focusing on the craziness that led up to the first moment Stevie and I got to hold our sweet baby Cadence in our arms, I wanted to focus on the seven years that she has now spent on this earth. Because even in the short time she’s been here, I can see how very brightly Cadence’s light shines, and how very awesome she is at spreading it around. The world is a better (and louder) place because she’s in it. And with the way things seem to be going these days, we could all use a whole lot more of Cadence-style love and light.

This birthday post is not a place for me to get political, and let’s be honest…anyone who knows me knows that I’ve always hated politics. I’m sure a whole lot of folks are starting to figure out why. But unfortunately we are living in a world where politics have permeated just about every corner of our lives, because we’ve let them.

Because we’ve let them.

And as I look at my daughter and the way she lives and loves and looks at the world, I’ve realized that it is going to be our children who save us from ourselves. They are the only ones who are able to see our world for what it really is–a place to learn and grow and connect with one another.

We’re here. We’re all here. Right now, on this planet, together. That alone should be enough. It’s the ultimate tie that binds us. Everything else is sort of arbitrary, don’t you think? I’m human. You’re human. End of story. We exist. We are conscious beings. If you ask me, everything after that is a choice.

Things happen, things we can’t control. But what we can control is how we respond to them. What we can control is how we live and how we treat each other. What we can control is the type of energy we intentionally put out into this world. So, do we spend our time here spreading the love and light? Or do we contribute to the hate and the darkness?

One of the many things that I love most about my daughter is the way she so beautifully reflects all the amazing people who have come into her life these past seven years. I look at her and I can obviously see so much of myself and Stevie. But I also see the influence of her baby brother, her grandparents and great-grandparents, her aunts and uncles and cousins, her godparents, the amazing teachers and staff at her school and her church and her extracurricular activities. And I see the influence the larger family of friends we have created and continue to connect with as often and intentionally as we can. Cadence carries a piece of all of these people with her, and it’s amazing to see.

But what is even more amazing is seeing how far Cadence’s influence has spread too.

Cadence is one of those friends who is a friend to everyone. She is kind and patient and tolerant. She is the sort of kid who will wait for you to catch up, who will make sure everyone has a turn, who will share even the last little bite of her favorite chocolate if she thinks you would like a piece. I’ve seen her stand up to bullies because she doesn’t like to see anyone being left out or getting their feelings hurt. I’ve seen her admit when she was wrong, even if it means getting punished. And I’ve seen her jump up and run over to make sure the shy kid sitting alone at the table had someone to play with.

A couple years ago, we had a yard sale, and I watched Cadence excitedly greet every child who came strolling up, eager to introduce herself and play and help the children find a toy or a book or something to take home with them. And a million times I’ve watched this bright little ball of infectious energy smile and laugh and pay a sincere compliment to someone in a waiting room or in line at the grocery store and, like magic, I’ve watched that light that burns so brightly in her grow and spread.

And what I’ve learned from all of this is that this world is what we make of it. Right now. This moment. Every day.

We can be door holders. We can be compliment givers. We can be good listeners and hug givers and friends. We can smile at the people we pass on the sidewalk. We can strike up a conversation with that person we see who always seems to be alone. We can take a moment to stop and offer a steady hand when we see someone stumbling. We can share our ideas and we can give people our full attention when they share theirs. And when we’re faced with hate and darkness and evil, we can choose to not join in. We can choose to keep our own light burning so that others might be able to see.

Happy 7th Birthday my sweet Cadence LaRue. Keep smiling. Keep shining. Keep being beautiful you.

>365 Project - Day 34 - One Year Ago Today...(part 4)

>365 Project - Day 34 - One Year Ago Today...(part 4)

>365 Project - Day 34 - One Year Ago Today...(part 4)

>365 Project - Day 36 - Cake Smash!!!

>365 Project - Day 36 - Cake Smash!!!

>365 Project - Day 38 - Spaghetti On Your Head

>365 Project - Day 105 - Naptime Mischief

>365 Project - Day 120 - The Great Outdoors

>365 Project - Day 128 - Our Greatest Hits

>365 Project - Day 124 - Cadence's First Haircut

>365 Project - Day 164 - Rub-a-Dub-Dub

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Elf on the Shelf 2016 – Days 16-24

I’m not even sure how Stevie and I have managed to survive the 2016 Season of the Elves. I’m not gonna lie, folks, when it comes to being creative and remembering to move the elves every night, we are big ol’ failures this year.

Twice, TWICE, we completely spaced and just plain forgot to move the elves. The first time, they were on the kitchen counter chowing down on a bag of candy corn. Nonna and Grandma Kay came to town for a visit, and we were having too much fun and staying up to late hanging out with them that we totally forgot to reposition Cosette and Leo before we went to bed. Of course, Cadence found them immediately the next morning, and we were saved by the fact that our kid has an amazing imagination and swore the elves had spent two whole nights eating candy corn because she was sure the bag looked even emptier.

“Cosette and Leo have been eating candy corn for two days straight! Geez!”Cadence proclaimed. “I guess they like it as much as me and Daddy do.”

Why yes, Cadence, yes they do.

Elf Fail #2 happened just this morning. It hit me around 6:30 a.m., just about the time I was ready to hop in the shower, that we had forgotten to move the elves again (and I only remembered because I heard Cadence downstairs talking to Stevie). I said a silent prayer that he’d managed to get downstairs and notice the elves were in the exact same spot and move them quickly before Cadence had a chance to wander downstairs. (And it would really help if Cadence was one of those regular kids who actually sleeps in past 7:00 a.m. on stay-home days).

No such luck.

When Stevie came upstairs a few minutes later, I asked if he’d moved the elves, and I watched his eyes widen in horror when he realized we’d forgotten the damn elves…again.

“Crap! No, I didn’t,” Stevie said, but he was hopeful. “You know, I don’t think she saw them yet this morning. She’s down there playing video games in the living room. I bet we can move them quick.

And suddenly I was hopeful too.

“Yeah, let’s do it. I’ll distract her, you move them.”

“What am I supposed to do with them?”

“I don’t know. Shove them in the Christmas tree or something.”

And so we did. I pretended like I’d come downstairs to turn the volume down on the TV while Stevie crept into the den to sneak the elves onto the Christmas tree.

Crisis averted…

Or so we thought, right up until my mom arrived to watch the kids and I was getting ready to leave for work and Mom asked Cadence where the elves were.

“Oh, they’re still by the fireplace. They didn’t move last night,” she called from the living room.

Mom looked at the empty spot in the front of the fireplace and then at me.

“We forgot. We moved them this morning,” I whispered.

“Uh…no they’re not,” I called out to Cadence. “Are you sure they didn’t move?”

Cadence hopped up out of the chair and came running.

“What?!” she hollered. “What the heck? I just saw them! I swear!”

She ran around the room, looking for the elves, until she finally spied Leo perched in her Christmas tree.

“Hey!” she cried. Then she pointed to the top of the big tree. “There’s Cosette too! What the heck?”

“That’s crazy, Cadence,” I said, shaking my head. “They must be tricking you.”

“Yeah!” she said. “Cosette and Leo are really tricking me! They snuck and moved while I was in the other room! I wish I could have seen them move. Wait until Henry sees!”

And just like that, the little bubble of relief that had been building as I thought to myself that we only have two nights of this elf business left burst wide open as I realized that we likely have another five or six years of it ahead of us. Because Cadence is still more excited about the elves’ antics than she is just about anything else at Christmas time, and Henry is already showing signs of being an elf fanatic. He looks for them every morning as soon as he gets up, and he points and laughs at the silly things he finds them doing. And even when they are sitting on the floor or perched in a spot low enough for him to reach them, he knows not to touch them for fear he will ruin their magic. So he just points and turns to look at us and he smiles and waits to see what these crazy elves will do next.

And all I know is that next year, we’re going to have to seriously up our game.

We should start planning now.

And since I’ve been so very bad about blogging the elf adventures each day, here is a recap of what they’ve been up to this past week…

Merry Christmas everyone!

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Elf on the Shelf 2016 – Days 13-15

I can’t believe I missed a day of photos, and such a good day too! We woke Tuesday morning and found the crazy elves had wrapped toilet paper around themselves and around the ceiling fan in our upstairs hallway, and they were swinging around on the fan like a carnival ride. Here’s a terrible sketch to help you visualize (take note of Cadence’s epic bedhead–I don’t know what that girl does in her sleep but her hair looks like it has been tied in knots by a legion of demons during the night).

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Wednesday morning, Cadence woke to find Cosette and Leo just hanging out on the kitchen counter. We thought maybe they’d taken a night off from their shenanigans, but then Cadence fired up her Daddy’s iPad and we we quickly discovered that our sneaky little elves had been having way too much fun taking selfies. They even set their favorite as the screensaver.

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This morning, we don’t know exactly what happened to make Buzz Lightyear decide these elves needed to be disciplined, but we woke to find Buzz had taken matters into his own hands and put the elves in a serious timeout.

Well done, Buzz. Keep those two in line.

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Elf on the Shelf 2016 – Days 6-12

Just because I’ve gotten too busy to post, it doesn’t mean the elves’ shenanigans have let up at all. In fact, Cosette and Leo have been in rare form recently. Here are the latest happenings around here…

First, Cosette and Leo decided it was time for Cadence and Henry to write down their Christmas lists for Santa. Cadence asked for a locket necklace and a princess coloring book. Henry…well the kid is currently in love with R2D2 and Mickey Mouse, so we’ll see what Santa brings him.

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After jetting off to the North Pole to deliver the lists to Santa, Cosette and Leo decided to stay an extra night and get rested up before heading back here to Nebraska to spend the final few weeks before Christmas keeping an eye on the crazy Romano kids. And after they returned, they were right back up to their silly antics. They’ve been playing with Henry’s toys…

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They polished off a bag of Oreos after everyone went to bed…

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They took a ride around the living room on the Roomba…

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They made themselves a midnight popcorn snack…

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And they had a little fun this morning after I ran out of time and didn’t get a picture drawn for Cadence’s daily lunch note…

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There’s no rest for the wicked, folks. How many more days ’til Christmas?

Elf on the Shelf 2016 – Day 5

So maybe we should have expected a little crankiness after such a long day…I mean, Cadence spent most of the afternoon, at least 5 hours, running up the hill, sledding down, making snow angels, running up the hill, sledding down, sneaking bites of snow when she thought Stevie and I weren’t looking, running up the hill, sledding down. By the time she finally gave up, coming to terms with the fact that most of the snow had already melted and she was sledding more on grass than anything, she’d come damn close to running a marathon in short bursts up a very steep hill.

So yeah, we were probably playing with fire not making her go to bed early, but she was having fun, playing a little MarioKart, and Stevie and I were in the middle of our nightly clean-up-the-kitchen-and-relax routine. By the time we finally sent Miss C upstairs to get ready for bed, we could tell she was exhausted. And she and Stevie were just two sentences into reading a chapter before bed when Cadence started flipping her Dad some serious attitude and told him defiantly that she didn’t want to read. So, Stevie told her that was fine, it was time for bed, turned off her light, and came back downstairs.

Not five minutes later, Cadence bursts into the living room like she’s auditioning for Days of Lives–tears streaming, begging for a second chance. So we had a little talk about how sometimes we don’t think straight when we’re tired, and how sometimes we make bad choices and have to deal with the consequences, but that tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to make better choices.

And she understood.

She was in bed and asleep soon after, and woke her usual, good-natured self this morning, giving Stevie and I good morning hugs and bounding down the stairs to see what the elves had in store. And this is what she found…

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So, we tried again, and it was a good day. And we’ll chalk last night’s dramatic bedtime meltdown up to too late of a bedtime after a day filled with so much fun.

We live and we learn. And we try to do better tomorrow.

Elf on the Shelf 2016 – Day 4

Cadence woke this morning to find Cosette and Leo practicing their paper airplane making skills.

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She also woke to find the world outside her window had turned cold and white.

Right about the time we were arriving at the Swimtastic School for Cadence and Henry’s Saturday swim lessons, we noticed a few tiny flakes of snow falling from the sky. We were caught a little off guard. Yeah, it has finally been getting colder, and we’ve seen a couple of weather reports predicting what may be the first substantial snowfall of the year sometime next week, but I guess we’ve just gotten a little spoiled, enjoying near-60 degree weather right up to December 1 this year.

It was bound to catch up with us sooner or later. This is Nebraska after all.

And by the time Miss C and H-man finished their 30-minute lessons, the tiny flurries had transformed into fat white flakes that formed a thick curtain in the sky. For the first few hours, the ground was still too warm for any of the snow to stick. But as the temperature dropped in the late afternoon, the patches of white on the ground began to weave themselves tightly together and blanket the ground.

The snow continued late into the evening, and we woke this morning to a winter wonderland (though it’s a little odd to see patches of bright green grass poking through). Cadence couldn’t wait to finally test out the sledding hill in the back yard. She’s been dying to go sledding since we first moved into this house. We bought her a sled last year, but never had a really great snow. This year, C didn’t care if it was a good snow or not–she was going to test that hill.

The snow was wet and already starting to melt by the time she got home from church and changed into her snow gear, but she managed to get in a full afternoon of fun before the heavy, wet snow got finally got the better of her.

Our backyard hill is definitely made for sledding. Can’t wait for the next big snow to really give it a go.

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