Wednesday, December 28

Lions, and Tigers, and Trains!

We're in Atlanta now with Mike's side of the family, but here we go again with another episode of a DC Family Christmas.  I think we'll need to wait until we finally get back to DC to bring the full report from the really exciting parts of Christmas... you know, things like Bella and Kate reunited, the gourmet food our parents cooked up, the ridiculous amount of packages under multiple trees and the tissue paper parties that followed, etc.

So, let's get this other stuff out of the way, okay?

Earlier this month, in the freezing cold, we ventured out with some other crazy parent friends to the ZooLights.  Our National Zoo covers itself in lights for the month of December and stays open late so that parents can freeze their children and do so past their bedtime.  Killer combo.  Nevertheless, I think it may be the most spirited place in DC when it comes to light displays.
That's my green marshmallow man and our little frozen statue in the stroller there.

After enjoying our stroll through the festive trees- and after a disturbing encounter with a dancing panda in a snow globe- we stopped by the petting zoo on our way out.  It was Bella's favorite part, of course.  I think in this picture she's saying, "Why did I have to put up with all these cold shenanigans just to pet the goats?"

And may I just add that Mike is equally as excited to be at the petting zoo.  He's a sucker for caged animals.

Onto the Botanical Gardens and the "out of this world" train display:
This place, hands down, had the coolest holiday train display I have ever seen!  It was like something out of a storybook.  See how Bella can't even stop for a picture?
It's the perfect size for our little munchkin!  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the actual trains.  What can I say? This little girl distracts me.

Monticello a la some kind of obscure wood.  We were super impressed.

Daddy's girl + Nature = Mike in his element.

A Merry belated Christmas to all from our world in DC!  I hope y'all have been able to savor Christ this season and enjoy the gift of family and friends.

Wednesday, December 21

Christmas at the White House

I love being home for Christmas... in Texas that is.  But before I make the full transition to pictures and memories from this here side of the world, I thought I'd share what this holiday season has looked like from our home in DC.

Earlier this month, Mike had a chance to visit the White House and see the halls all decked out:
It doesn't matter who is in office.  The White House at Christmas is always a treat!  This year's theme is "Shine, Give, Share."
Meet the First Dog, Bo!  Mike says this is a 3-4 foot statue, in case you can't tell.  But unfortunately, he can't tell you what material it's actually made out of.  But that's okay, because I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you that my family once had a dog named Beau.  He was special and loved by some.  Well, let's just say I sure hope this Bo is nothing like our Beau.  He was loved and all (um, I'm lying to help honor his memory), but a First Dog he was not.

Here is the East Room.  Wait, they have all this stuff on HGTV, right?  Okay, so you could just watch that.  Or you could say that you've seen insider's photos.  Yeah, insiders.  That's us.  No, actually, insider is what we were when we used to come to this House and those purple table clothes were filled with gourmet Christmas food.  Even then, we knew we didn't belong.  Ah, those were the days...

Here is this year's Christmas Tree that can be found in the Blue Room.  It's decorated in honor of military families this year.  See all the medals hanging as ornaments?

And the classic White House a la gingerbread and white chocolate.  Go White House pastry chefs!  And there's Bo again.  Um, not to scale.  But how cool/crazy scary would that be cool if he was?

And that's the end of that tour.  Join us tomorrow for Zoolights and Botanical Garden trains... and yes, some pictures of Bella!

Wednesday, December 14

A Christmas Baby Shower

The Christmas season is destined for all sorts of parties.  After all, the foundation has already been laid.  Red, green, and Christmas white.  Great colors.  Garland, poinsettias, cranberries, twinkle lights.  Great decor.  So let's have a party, shall we?

How about a Baby Shower?  

Last Sunday, I had the pleasure of hosting my dear friend Melody and her friends for a baby shower celebrating her soon to be little boy.  We celebrated with curried egg salad, chickpea salad, fruit salad, spinach salad, chicken salad, and green been salad.  Wow.  I think we were trying to make up for all the holiday hams and eggnog served at all the other parties.

And don't forget the tea and hot chocolate bar.  I love cold weather drinks.  Pinkies up!

One of my favorite decorations for this shower was the Diaper Christmas Tree:

And of course, we placed all the gifts under the tree.  Perfect!

But my ultimate favorite decoration had to be the Baby Boy Gingerbread cookies.  Nothing like edible decor!  I must admit, I had a little too much fun making these:

They're smiling, sleeping, sucking pacifiers, and wearing onesies and diapers.  And see the one crying on the right?  Just trying to keep it real.

Oh wait, I just realized the one on the bottom left looks like he has the chicken pox.  Oops.  Not encouraging.  

Moving on...

I've always just mixed powdered sugar and milk to make cookie icing, but I tried this twist on the classic recipe this time around, and I won't be going back.  Maybe this will take your cookies up that extra notch this season, too.  Or maybe you're already on cookie overload.  <Insert me with hand raised.>

Well either way, enjoy!  New Year's resolutions don't start until January. :)

Tuesday, December 13

The Story of the Lost Ring

So, it's time for an "I Love Lucy" special, cooked up Diane style!  

Now at first glance, I have the appearance of being the smart one in my family.  My report cards were perfect, my book smarts were stellar, and I've worked at a "think tank" (what's that?).  But if you ask any of my sisters, they'll tell you that I'm the most likely sister to have a major mental brain lapse.  And when it happens, it's bad:

Two nights ago, Mike and I were sitting on the couch discussing finances, when Mike started playing with his wedding band.

"Dink, donk, dink"!

Next thing we know, the ring had launched itself behind the couch and become wedged between the sofa and our kitchen island.  (Yes, our couch backs up to our kitchen.  Small living space!)  Mike and I looked at each other: "Oops!"  Mike was so distraught, in fact, he decided to wait until the next day to look for it.  Feel the love.
Scene of the crime
So yesterday afternoon, I get the email from Mike:

"I forgot to look for my ring last night after it fell behind the couch. Would you mind looking if you have time, and if you find it, could you please bring it to dinner tonight? Thanks!"

So being the super helpful wife that I am, I moved the couch and island, got down on my hands and knees, and found that little sucker.  Wa-la!  My precious!

Wait. Shoot.  What do I do with it now?  I knew that putting it in my pocket or in a bag would be an immediate recipe for disaster.  So, genius that I am, I put it on my thumb.  It slipped right on.  A little too easily I should say.  But I just couldn't think of a better spot.  Things are always safer attached to my body... right?

Next thing I know, it's time to head out the door for dinner.  Jackets and shoes are thrown on, food for Bella is packed, and we are just about to rush out the door, when of course, I realize the ring has gone missing!  My thumb is naked!  I immediately feel stupid, frustrated, dumb, mad at Mike (He should have known better than to ask me to bring it!), and kind of crazy.  How did I not feel that thing slide off my finger?!

But it's too late.  I have to go.  I jump in the car, pick up Mike, and explain to him how my successful search and rescue mission turned in to an epic failure.  The ring was lost.  Our marriage was doomed.

Well, we made it through dinner, and on the way home Mike did the regular run of the mill Q&A session.  No, I did not throw it in the trash.  No, it's not just sitting in my pocket.  No. No.  And no!

Gosh, I feel stupid.  And mad.  At me. At you.  At the world.

We're through the door, and I'm immediately getting Bella ready for bed.  Bottle. Check. Clothes off.  Check.  Diaper change.


Stop that.  Oh my gosh!

The diaper is open for only a second, and I close it so fast I can hardly believe what I'm seeing.  No, Bella had not eaten the ring and done some number on it that quickly.  Oh no.  Yours truly had actually wrapped her husband's ring up in the diaper before they left for dinner.  Major mental brain lapse (I told you.)!  And there it was.  Still hanging out... in a soaked diaper... having traveled with Bella's rump for the past few hours.  I stand there, trying to process how in the world I managed to place my husband's ring- the symbol of his love and commitment- in my child's diaper!

Bella sees my stunned face and looks at me like there must be a monster in her diaper.  Mike rushes in.  I can hardly get the words out.  I just usher him over with my hand and let him take a peak.  He's speechless.  We remove the diaper and just stare at the contents.

To help us commemorate the moment, Bella wets the changing table.  Then our Pandora Christmas station starts playing the Hallelujah Chorus, no joke.  And then Bella starts wailing, of course.  And finally, the laughter begins to set in.  I'm convinced we've been cast in a sitcom.  Where's the hidden camera?

To conclude this "I Love Lucy" episode, I'd like to assure everyone that Mike's ring received a thorough washing.  I've also apologized to it.  It may never let Mike hold hands with me again... well, at least his left hand.  But I understand.

These things just take some time.

Friday, December 9

Speaking My Love Language

Last night, we abandoned this sad face...
... for a date night!!

Actually, if I was being honest, she wasn't sad at all.  In fact, I think she was glad to have a new friend to play with.  But I just like to imagine she was at least a little sad to see us go.  But no, she wasn't even a little sad.  This picture was actually taken on Bella's birthday after she had opened her presents, and Mom didn't get her act together and assemble one of the toys fast enough.  I'm such a kill joy.  Geez.

So back to date night.  Mike was a little nervous on the drive over.  You see, where we were going is not what many would coin as a romantic date.  No candlelight.  No quiet atmosphere.  No white table clothes.  Oh no!  When we stepped in to Hill Country Barbecue, I knew we had left DC and headed straight to the very best part of Texas, the Hill Country- complete with all it's barbecue wonder and live music.

Last night, we dined on lean brisket, ribs, cowboy baked beans, and mac & cheese.  We drank Shiner Bock out of a mason jar.  I dragged my white bread through bbq sauce.  I licked my fingers.  I hardly used my fork and knife.  I ate off of butcher paper! 

Does it get any better??
My face in this picture says, "No, it does not get any better."  I was literally surrounded by Texas flags and pictures from small town Texas.  I felt like I was home, and Mike's anxiety about avoiding a stuffy, white table cloth dinner quickly melted away.  For heaven's sake, they even serve Blue Bell at this place!  

After dinner, Mike and I headed out to pay homage to the National Christmas Tree on the South side of the White House.  It's about half the size of last year's tree, a gigantic tree that met it's tragic end during a random storm that hit DC this past year.  Very sad.

But Baby Tree was still cute.
A park ranger, complete with hat and all, took our picture.  I love that.  And then Mike debated with him about whether or not they had moved the tree 20 feet over or not.  And I just stood there. Yeah.  Oh, and that's the White House on the left, in case you're wondering.

All to say, it was a great night with Mike, and it definitely left us excited about our upcoming trip to celebrate Christmas in Texas!

Wednesday, December 7

A Special Trip to the Mailbox

The Manninas are in love with the month of December!  Especially this year...

Last year, we had a one month old baby and were behind on everything.  This year, the decorations were up the weekend after Thanksgiving, and our Christmas cards had already been picked out and ordered.  I'm so tempted to pat myself on the back when I think about such accomplishments.  But let me tell you, after last year's experience, I have learned that "being ahead of the game" is a gift from God.  Well actually, it's all a gift from God.  Last year, we were constantly playing catch up, but I also have memories of feeding a newborn at 2 AM by the light of our Christmas tree.  What a wonderful gift that was!

So whether behind or ahead of the game this season, I hope you, too, are experiencing the gift that this season is and represents.  While Mike and I are having great discussions about what it will mean for us to center our thoughts and family activities on Christ's coming both this year and in years to come, we are also loving the simpler gifts of the season.

Saturday, I hosted a table and sang a Christmas tune or two at our church's annual Christmas Tea.  It is such a wonderful time for fellowship and for hearing the gospel message.

[Insert pictures here that I forgot to take.  Boo.]

Monday night, I had my Bible Study over for cookie decorating.  I actually attempted homemade cookie dough & icing, and it turned out great!

I've so loved getting to know these sweet faces this past semester.

And last night, we put the final touches on a batch of Christmas cards.  Mike and I have so enjoyed sitting at our table and talking about our family and friends as we address each envelope- complete with sweet treats and Christmas music, of course.  It is such a tangible reminder of the gift God has given us in our family and friends over the course of our lives.

And guess who walked our cards to the mailbox??

Impressive, especially considering that I bought her "Ronald McDonald size" shoes that she will have to grow in to.  Oops! :)

Thursday, December 1

Celebrating "Jeshush"

Thanksgiving has quickly disappeared in the last few days and has been replaced by all things Christmas. My husband is obsessed with this season. I married well. :)

Garland, nativity sets, twinkly lights, 24/7 Christmas music, and even our own version of a Christmas tree have found their way in to our 675 sq feet of space.  The good news for us is that it doesn't take much to truly deck our place out.  I give you our Christmas branch!
Very Charlie Brown-esque, I'd say.

Anyways, Bella has taken an immediate interest in the sheep, Josephs, and camels that have appeared around our home, and we've seen it as an opportunity to exercise our parenting genius and teach her who Jesus is.

Me: Bella, who is this?  Say Jesus.  Jeeee-sus.

Bella: Jeshush.

Me: Genius!  Look what I have taught my child!

Mike: Do you think this means she's a Christian?

[Insert Diane giving the "Are you serious?" eye to Mike.]

Back to Bella post bottle...
Me: Bella, who is this?

Bella: Jeshush.

Me: Amazing!  Look what I've created!  How brilliant is this kid?!

Ahhh, but like all moments of parenting excellence, this one too, quickly reached its end.

The next day, Bella and I were playing with her farm animals.  Remember how she excels at all things cow?

Me: Bella, who is this?
Bella: Moooooo... Jeshush.

Me: Huh?  Oh wait, maybe I didn't hear you correctly.  Who is this?

Bella:  Jeshush.

Diane: Oh no!  Wait... who are these guys?  You know, your bears that we say hi to everyday...?
Bella: Jeshush.

Me: And what about them... your family?
Bella: Jeshush.

Me: Not the family!

Yep, that's right. Everything in our home right now is "Jeshush".  He has invaded this place and taken over anything with a face on it.

Now there are pros and cons to this reality, but let's just say that Mike and I haven't stopped laughing yet.  In fact, dare I confess that we've kind of started encouraging it?  I know, I know... moment of parenting excellence out the window.

We'll get our act together next year.  Yeah... next year.  I'll make that my New Year's resolution.

But for now, I give you Bella on video:
If you listen carefully at the end, I ask Bella if she likes Jesus, and I'm pretty sure she says, "Kind of."

A step in the right direction, little girl!

Happy December 1st, everyone!

Friday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving from Atlanta!

The suspense was building around 11 am yesterday morning.  Could a Father/Daughter-in-law combo really pull of Thanksgiving together??

Ta-da!  We present to you the turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, fresh salad, green been bundles, and homemade rolls.  YUM!                            

Bella loved eating the turkey on her mat.  Well actually, she really loved the sugar-infused sweet potatoes.

And later, she loved feeding the swan in Poppi's pond... despite suffering from a food coma (hence the 5 mile stare).

 Bella loves Poppi.

And Bella loves Gigi.

 And Gigi really loves Bella.  Well, we all kind of feel that way about Bella.

Well, except for maybe Joey.  Just kidding!
Uncle Joey is awesome with this girl.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! We sure were not lacking in things to be thankful for.  God has surely given in abundance!

Now back to DC and on to some Christmas decorating...  

Tuesday, November 15

A Farewell to Fall

Before it's over, I just want to go on the record and say that this right here...

... is why fall is my favorite season.  I also have amazing memories with my two sisters in the fall, I got married in the fall, and then I had a baby in the fall.  So, it's a pretty great season around these parts.

 Last week, I was able to soak up the last bits of fall with Bella and my little sister.  This week, the leaves are hanging on for dear life.  The best moments in life pass by too quickly.

That Capitol  over there makes for some pretty pictures, huh?

And so do you, sweet Bella.
(P.S. My sister took these pics with her iPhone.)

 "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;   
wisdom and power are his. 
He changes times and seasons; 
   he deposes kings and raises up others. 
He gives wisdom to the wise 
   and knowledge to the discerning. 
He reveals deep and hidden things; 
   he knows what lies in darkness, 
   and light dwells with him."
Daniel 2:20-22

Friday, November 11

Our God is Faithful... & Full of Surprises

Last year, at the beginning of this past week...
... this happened.

And then four days later...
 ... this happened.

Two sisters, having two baby girls, and all within one week!  You obviously can't plan these things.  But God can.  And boy, did He have some fun with our family this past year.

It all started with the surprise at Easter that we were both expecting.  One sister had been wanting a baby for a while, while the other wasn't quite thinking about a baby yet.  God knew this all along and planned it just so.

Then finding out we were both having girls was like icing on the cake.  After all, it's what Davises do best.

Trying to predict actual due dates was a joke.  And Amy trying to conceal the name of her future child was also a joke. (he he he!)

Sending my mom and youngest sister on crazy rescue missions back and forth between DC and Houston for the month of November was a bit chaotic... but totally necessary and appreciated! 

Add all this up, and what do you get?  Welcoming two little girls in to the world just four days apart was completely unbelievable!

Right now, I'm remembering how these two little bundles of joy brought such hope to events like our BDaddy's funeral.  And I remember how they stole the show at our family beach vacation this summer.  Without even knowing it, they have given our family so much in just their first year of life.

And so, hooray for a wonderful week in our family history!  And praise God for His sovereign plan and these healthy and happy little girls.  And, although this is one day late...

Happy Birthday to our sweet Kate Eliana!

Oh Kate, what would Bella do without you??
 Okay, I admit, your first time together was a little tense.

Just kidding!  You were quickly playing dress up within minutes.

See?  Friends!
Okay, okay.  We're kind of forcing it on you two.  But you'll get the hang of it!

You both definitely love the camera. It's a Davis family thing.

And you're best beach buds.

Just chillin' together.

And even swimming, too!

And here's my weak attempt to make it look like you two enjoy pumpkin patches together.

Okay, okay.  It looks like we're overdue for some cousin play dates.  Kate, Bella can't wait to see you at Christmas!  Happy Birthday!  We love you!