Friday, December 31, 2010

The Final Post

2010 is a goner.  Tonight I'll be reflecting on the good times in 2010 from the comfort of my couch.  The Hubs and I will tuck the babies in to their beds, crack a bottle of wine, turn on a movie and ring in the new year without much a-do.  It'll be simple, and it'll be wonderful.

My New Year's Resolution this year is to SLOW DOWN; To spend more time on things that truly matter, time with God and time with family.  To reject the urge to over-schedule my life, to make every social event that comes up and to just take a step back and slow life down. 

As we blow out the candle on 2010 and ring in a New Year and a fresh start, I hope that the upcoming year for you has all of the blessings and joy as the year before it. 

Happy New Year,

PS:  I've been on a blogging hiatus.  Next week I have a ton of photos to share and stories to tell! 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Wishing You

A Very Merry Christmas!

Chloe tolerated Santa only because sissy was sitting on his other knee.  There were a few tears but in the end she decided to sit and whimper about it.  She is clutching "Punzel" the Barbie in her left fist and her brush in her right.  She was all smiles after she received her candy cane from the fat man.

 May peace, joy, and love fill your evening as we celebrate the Eve of Jesus' birth. 

Merry Christmas, friends.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Total 'Lunar Eclipse' of the Heart

It wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I even got wind of this celestial event.  I himmed and hawwed about whether or not to wake up for it and in the end I decided this could make for a SaWeet picture. 

When I tucked Camdyn in last night I explained what happens during a Lunar Eclipse and told her that I would wake her up in the middle of the night to see the moon. 

I then took out my camera, emailed photo-genius Ashley Sisk for pointers, put on my 75mm-300mm lens and tested a few moon shots, set my cell phone alarm and went to sleep.

I awoke to a groggy voice at the foot of my bed, "Momma you forgot to wake me up for the moon...."  Huh?  What time is it?  Did I blow this?  Oh, wait, it's 2:50....20 more minutes Cam, jump in bed with us.  Twenty minutes later two cell phones screamed, we got out of bed, put on sweat shirts and shoes and headed outside.  Cam was in awe of the glowing orange moon.  I tried desperately for a photo but was unable to meter/focus on the dark, barely glowing moon.  Bummer.  I didn't have the equipment or the skill to figure out how to take a nighttime shot like this....maybe a telescope would have helped.  It was still awesome.  The sky last night was clear, the stars were out-shining the moon, and the moon looked like a pumpkin in the sky.

As we headed back inside 10 minutes later I told Camdyn that this was a special event because Lunar Eclipses only happen "Like once every ten years."  Come to find out this morning, it's more like once every 300 years.  Now, I'm doubly glad that we all crawled out of bed to witness it with our own eyeballs, although, I still wish my camera could have captured it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Final Disney Photo Parade

I was trying so hard to get this posted on Friday, but life got busy and I had to put it on the back burner.  Now it's Sunday night, and 1/2 of the gifts are wrapped, my floors are mopped, laundry is done, and Xmas cookies are cooling on the rack, and I have a few minutes to myself.

Disney Photo Parade - The final installment.
Camdyn and Daddy wait for the Celebration parade to begin while Chloe napped in the stroller

Cam as Ariel, practicing Ballet

Chloe is up from her nap and watching the parade with Daddy.  She would scream "MOUSE" when she saw Mickey

In awe over the parade

Ah, proof that I was actually at Disney World with my family and on the PeopleMover - AGAIN.

Daddy & Chloe enjoying the PeopleMover....for the 3rd time.

Waiting for our Safari Jungle Cruise.  My girls love animals and they love this ride.

And, now the Disney thing is adequately shared and out of my system, and I'm looking forward to taking a slew of photos over the holidays!  I still haven't gotten a chance to practice my holiday Bokeh shots....

I hope your weekend was Merry!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Word-ish Wednesday - Joy

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day; their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the word repeat of
peace on earth, good-will to men!"
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Here the Steam Engine departs from Toon Town.  Chloe loved the train and wasn't scared by the loud whistle.  Note, that it is finally fall in Florida and the trees have changed color.  We do have seasons, we really do.

Without a doubt my children BOTH love the PeopleMover.  This little blue tram runs through Space Mountain, and the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland.  There is often NO LINE for this ride, so we usually ride it 3 or 4 times.  In the summer, it's mostly shaded and air conditioned and affords the adults time to put their feet up for a few minutes.

This was Chloe's first trip on the PeopleMover.

She LOVED it.

Like Really, Really, LOVED it.

And there is something about watching a child express pure JOY that makes your heart sing.
This photo was taken before the train started really whipping down the track.  I am in love with this photo; It's the look of wonder on her face, it's the catchlight in her eyes, it's the fact that her eyes are perfectly in focus {and I truly struggle with that}.  This just might be one of my favorite photos.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Disney and Why I thought I Would Never Push a Double Stroller

So, where were we?  Oh yeah, we just walked through the gates of Disney and are on Main Street.  I'd like to point out that Chloe is growing HAIR.  Yes, hair, enough for it to do "bed head" and look messy.  That's my girl (about time). 
Anyway, this is Chloe looking at this....
 A "Nay-Nay" or "Horse" which was pulling a street car with Cast Members on it.  They were singing Christmas Carol's and dancing.  What fun!  Chloe seemed in awe and puzzled at the same time.  I love how Disney puts effort in to every the mouse ears on the horse's blinders. 

Next up - The Dumbo Ride.  This ride is popular and it has no fast pass option.  The line moves rather slowly, so it's ALWAYS the first thing we do when we enter the park.  After a short 20 minute wait, we were on!

 The Hubs is tinkering with his phone in the hopes of getting Chloe on video.  I'm not sure if that worked out or not...

Next up, "It's a Small World."  There was NO LINE.  I have a love/hate relationship with this photo.  I love the look of wonder in her eyes as she looks at all of the dollies, but I hate the shadows on her face, although, at the same time, they give this photo some character.  The lighting was tricky in there.
Then, we decided that we MUST HAVE COFFEE.  So, we visited a little coffee shop, where we had one horrible blend of coffee, but then we added milk and sugar and it was finally digestible. 

Camdyn was swinging around this garland wrapped pole, so I asked her to pose.  Of course, she obliged, because it was still early and I was just getting started with the camera.  Towards the end of the day she was less than cooperative when I said "Let's take a quick picture." 
I don't remember where we were or when I took this picture, but I love the look of distraction in her eyes.
When it came to family planning I often said that I had no desire to push a double stroller.  Something about the bulk of a double stroller and two kids in diapers at the same time just did not appeal to me (Kudos to those of you that do that).  Therefore, we spaced our kids out a little bit to avoid that.  My girls are 3 years and 2 months apart.  For the past 19 months I have avoided the double stroller scenario, but then, we started having stroller wars.  If Chloe was in the stroller then Cam wanted to sit in the stroller.  If Cam wanted to walk, then Chloe wouldn't sit.  I'd often end up pushing around an empty stroller while trying to keep tabs on two kids.  It was a little bit of a nightmare.

So, I buckled.  I bought a Sit-N-Stand LX on Craigslist for $45 and this is now the 5th stroller in my collection.  Y'all this stroller has changed my life!  And, I'm serious.  I used this stroller last week when I took Cam to the mall with me.  Usually, she is wandering everywhere and complaining about walking and she makes it impossible for me to concentrate on anything other than her.  Well, I had her sit on the back of this stroller and she loved it.  She read books, I tried on 5 pairs of boots, and bought a dress, and Cam even asked me to keep shopping.  I told her that she is my FAVORITE shopping partner.  To which she responded, "Even better than Auntie Liz?"  Um, it's a tie :)

We brought the Sit-N-Stand to Disney with us, even though it has more limited storage than our Jogger, or our Normal Stroller.  It worked out, though.  We just tied the cooler and my huge Vera bag filled with spare clothes, diapers, and princess dresses to the back of it. We put blankets and jackets in the storage basket. 

Now, this stroller doesn't really recline very much since the bench for the 2nd child is behind it.  But, when kids get tired they sleep anywhere, right?  And, that's what happened.
A few hours later, Cam was tired, so we put her in the front and somehow she got comfortable enough to snooze for 45 minutes while Chloe ran around looking at ducks.  I heart this stroller.  It's made my life so much simpler and for $45...I'm a happy Momma!  Nothing beats having two semi-rested kids at a theme park.

Notice that Camdyn is wearing a Rapunzel shirt from the new Disney movie "Tangled."  If you haven't seen it yet, you need to...and in 3D.  This is by far the best movie Disney has made in a decade.  I would watch it again and again and I think I enjoyed it as much as Cam did.  She purchased a Rapunzle "Darbie" (Barbie) and Flynn Ryder too, who is by far, the most handsome prince of all. 

See ya tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday.  I have a few more photos to share (imagine that).

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Very Merry -DISNEY- Weekend

Three years ago, the Hubs and I decided to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary by taking Camdyn to Disney World the first weekend in December.  It's a great time of year to go to the Magic Kingdom, not only is the park merrily decorated, but the weather is usually perfect and the crowds are light too.  Since then, it's become an annual tradition.

This year we went the 2nd weekend in December and the park was still merrily decorated, but the weather was snappy and the crowds were thick.  It didn't foil our time, though.  Somehow this park never loses it's magic, despite 50 degree weather and gobs and gobs of vacationers.

At night, Cinderella's Castle is lit to the extreme and changes colors.  It's a spectacular sight to see.  Chloe added the word "castle" to her vocabulary and it sounds so cute coming from her baby mouth. 

This is the Main Street, USA.  It's also the location we camped out at to watch the Electrical Parade at the end of the night.  Camdyn and I took a quick trip over to the Confectionery (sign lit in middle of photo) and bought a few Chocolate covered Rice Krispy Treats in the shape of Mickey's ears to hold us over until the parade started.  Chloe patiently napped in the stroller until the parade started.

That is one tall tree!  Chloe's eyes were as big as saucers when she saw this tree when we entered the gate.  She kept pointing at it and shouting "TREE!"  This is one place where the Christimas spirit is alive.  I wonder if the Disney Cast members loathe putting up this tree every year?
If you got a Xmas card from me this year, I wish I could take it back and replace the photo on it with this one.  Here the girls are parked in the street looking at the Cinderella's Castle (Chloe's first time).  Their expression makes the whole day worth it.  No matter the age of the child, there is always magic to be found at Disney World.  Even with a few tantrums and some whining, it is without a doubt the Happiest Place on Earth.

More photos to come and stories to be told throughout the week. 

Happy Monday, Y'all!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Sunset

Sensual pleasures have the fleeting brilliance of a comet; a happy marriage has the tranquillity of a lovely sunset.
~Ann Landers

We went to the Beach on Sunday evening for the first time since August.  The Hubs and I lamented what a shame it is that we live a mere 5 miles from this gorgeous coastline and rarely come to enjoy it....

It was cold, very cold.  But, the littles enjoyed it.  They took off their socks and shoes and they crawled and rolled in the sand.  They made sand angels and they danced to the drum beats.  We watched the sunset.

And our hearts were full.  We left thinking that we really need to do this more often, maybe when it isn't quite so cold.  But we should make a habit of this; of enjoying mother nature, family time, and our beautiful beach.  This life is paradise.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Eight Years...

It’s been eight years since we traded I-do’s. Since we stood hand in hand, nervously waiting to exchange rings. It’s been eight years since we ate cake in our hotel room and danced the night away….it’s been eight years.

On one hand I am surprised at all that has changed in those eight years…

We moved 2000 miles away from our families and all we took with us was a trunk full of clothes
You changed jobs, from the Reds to the Orioles
We bought our first house and made it our home
I began working full-time
We traveled a lot, for baseball, and to visit both of our families
I started a new job
In April 2005, I flew to Virginia to announce to you in person that we were going to be a Family
We welcomed Camdyn into our world
I became a Stay-at-Home Mom
We spent the following summer in Canada trying to live as Canadians do
When we got home I went back to work
You spent the spring playing ball in Mexico
Camdyn went to daycare for the first time and I found out what it is like to be a single parent for the first time
You came home and retired from baseball
You found a new job and we began adjusting to life without baseball
In July 2008 we found out that we would be adding to our family
In March we welcomed Chloe into our family
We lost Great Grandpa
We lost your Momma
I began to work part-time
We sold our first house and moved in to a rental
We almost lost my Dad
We bought our forever-house

It’s life. It’s the mundane and the extraordinary. It’s the curve and the fastball, the ups and downs. It’s everything that life should be.

In eight years, the things that haven’t changed….

The way it feels when you reach for my hand. How you throw an arm around my neck to give me nuggies on the top of my head. Your beautifully crooked, half grin. The way you look at me. Your knack for singing old school hip hop. The way you know what I’m trying to say even when I can’t get the words out. How you look in jeans and a crisp white shirt. Your wonderfully refreshing sense of humor. The way you support me. Your ability to provide for our family.

And, the one thing that belongs in both lists….Our Love. It’s the same, yet changed. It’s as strong as the day we said our vows, but in a million ways it’s different. This love is confident. This love has weathered storms and a bigger chunk of time. It is now not just the love of a couple, but the love of a family. This love doesn’t need gifts or fancy dinners. This love has no material parameters. This love knows that every argument doesn’t carry with it the fear of the end of the relationship. This love has an ease to it. This love is saturated with dedication and commitment and merely sprinkled with romance. This love is better.

So, my dear, Happy Anniversary! And, just as I wrote to you when we started dating, I am writing to you now; The poem that I used to quote when the time and the distance seemed like our greatest hardship. Now, eight years later, I get to wake up next to you everyday and I realize that life might bring tougher times ahead, but it doesn’t matter, because THIS LOVE is far better than what our NEW LOVE was.

“Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.
Love still stands when all else has fallen.”
~Author Unknown

Love You Forever and a Day,
Your “OLD” Cow

Friday, December 3, 2010

Life Hands Me a Lesson in Parenting - The Ballet Class

Everytime I think I'm "getting it" PARENTING looks me in the eye and says, "Try again, sister, you still have no clue what you are doing."

Camdyn wanted to try ballet badly.  A few of her friends take ballet class and she was aching to try it.  I decided I would enroll her at the Y.  The cost is low, there isn't a big committment if it wasn't a fit for her, and I thought that would be a good starting point.  She took 2 classes with the 3 and 4 year olds.  She was the tallest and probably oldest child in the class.   She did exactly what she was supposed to do, and even surprised me with how quickly she caught on.  She moved through the ballet section of the class with ease and then tied on her tap shoes and learned how to shuffle step.  She liked the class, but she kept telling she wanted to be in her friend's ballet class. 

Last night, she participated in the friend's ballet class.  It was a class of 5 and 6 year olds, and Cam was now the youngest and greenest dancer on the floor.  She struggled through the barre exercises.  She didn't know the terminology and much to my surprise the teacher wasn't really helping her.  The teacher was calling out steps, but not really helping Cam, who doesn't even know what a tondue or a rond de jambe is.  Cam did fairly well at the barre and through the floor exercises, but when it came time to do their dance she began to goof off.  She's rolling on the floor, she keeps running over for a drink of water, she sits on the floor when everyone else is standing, she tries not to participate and then the teacher says, "Camdyn.  If you are not going to dance with us then you need to go sit with your mother."  So, she does.  Then, it's time for tap and things quickly get worse.  She is sliding around the floor in her tap shoes, spinning in circles, she's not following directions and the whole time, I'm sitting there STEAMING.  Why can't she just do what she is supposed to do?  Why can't she just pay attention?  My level of frustration is quickly rising. 

Then, Cam decides she doesn't want to dance anymore, so with 10 minutes left in the class she is sitting by my side watching.  I'm irritated.  I tell myself, I knew this would happen.  I knew she couldn't handle being in the class with her friend.  I tell her that we are never coming back to Ballet Class.  I'm embarrassed. 

We get in the car and I decide that I can not speak to her.  I don't want to say something I'll regret, and I'm so irritated and angry at her behavior that staying silent is the only thing I can do.  She starts to cry.  And, then I open my mouth.  "Why Camdyn?  Why can't you just do what you are asked to do?  Why don't you listen?"  She cries harder.  I cry. 

And then she says....

"I couldn't do it Mommy.  I don't know those dances.  You need to teach me.  I want to go back to that ballet class but I need to practice.  Can we practice in the garage.  NOW."

In that moment, everything that I thought I knew about my child and her behavior (good or not so good) that day, flew out the window.  The reality of what she was saying to me stuck me right in the heart. 

She was frustrated.  She was not misbehaving on purpose or just because....she was on overload.  She couldn't do the steps and she knew it.  She tried faking it by twirling in circles, or coming over for water, or just sitting on the floor because she couldn't do it.  If you've ever watched a 4 year old do ballet, it's awkward.  They don't know how to move their little bodies in specific ways.  She had no idea how to tell her little feet to do what the teacher was doing. 

Then I got angry, why wasn't the teacher taking 15 seconds out to help her?  Instead she was just giving commands and plugging along.  Granted, I understand that they can't stop the class for one child, but this is not an advanced class.  It's a class for all experience levels, so why couldn't she take a minute to help her, to praise her efforts, and to make it enjoyable for her?  The teacher certainly did that in the 3-4 year old class.

So, while I was sitting there fuming, watching Camdyn misbehaving, I should have been standing alongside her, helping her.

When I tucked her in bed last night I asked her, as I always do, "What was your favorite part of the day."  Her response, "Going to ballet, mommy."

We'll be working this weekend on our arabesque, and shuffle hop steps, and next week, I'm bringing my tap shoes, and if the teacher won't slow down to help her, then I will.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - I'll Love You Forever

"I'll Love You Forever...

I'll Like You For Always... 

As Long As I'm Living...

My Baby You'll Be." 
~Love You Forever By: Robert Munsch

Monday, November 29, 2010

My New Address Is...


Yes, we are finally home.  There are boxes yet to be unpacked, there is a stove that has yet to be delivered, but there are clothes hanging in their proper closets.  There is food in the pantry.  The washer & dryer are operable, and we are settling in one box and one day at a time.  We are finally in the house that we will call home for decades to come....our forever house.  And, I really hope it is because I absolutely detest moving.

This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving with friends in a very traditional fashion.  I made my broccoli corn casserole and Sweet Potato Crunch and we ate and talked, and soothed crying children.  We ate grilled turkey and homemade apple pie.  The girls even got to swim after dinner, and I don't think we've ever done that before.

On Saturday, my Xmas tree even found it's way out of the box and in to the picture window in our front room.  Chloe hung her very first ornament on the tree ever.  It wasn't breakable of course.

She knew exactly what to do with it, and it was the one and only ornament she felt like hanging and then she scooted on her way to play with her baby doll while Camdyn and I finished the tree. 

The fastest way to make a new house feel like home is decorating it for Xmas...THIS. IS. HOME.