Monday, January 31, 2011

Party at the Ranch - Photo Parade

Y'all it was one busy weekend!  I took Camdyn to Disney World on Friday and I'll have to share photos of that another day, but today, I want to share with you the photo-aftermath of Camdyn's 5th birthday party at the Ranch.

The weather was a perfect, the sun was out, and the kids were so excited to be at the Ranch. 

First, the children were given special, decorated, birthday helmets, and then they sat down for a lesson. 

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They learned horse safety tips like "Never walk underneath a horse because they could poop on you," which was pretty much the best 4 year old wisdom of the day. They learned how to make the horse move by making kissing noises, how to stop the horse by saying "whoa."

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Here Chloe sits with the boys while they learn about horses and horse safety.

And, then Cam's former teacher, Miss V, showed up and she may as well have been Justin Bieber in a room full of 12 year old girls, because all of the children flocked to her and screamed.  Only Rapunzel herself could have garnered a better welcoming. 

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While you are all held captive in the middle of this photo parade, let me show you, Laura.  We met in the 5th grade and have been friends ever since.  We've often said that we live parallel lives.  The only difference is that she is raising boys and I'm raising girls.  Although, she's got a girl in that belly now...which pretty much means that if I ever have a third, then I'm guaranteed a boy, because that is how these things work.  Anyway, I adore her, and it was so special to have her here with her boy, Nolan.

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After the safety lesson we took the party in to the stable, where Chloe and I paused for this photo with Cassandra, who was wise enough to bring a beer to the party.  There was a point where I wished I was drinking so that my anxiety level would have lessened...more on that later. 

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They assigned the 14 children to 5 different horses and let them decorate them.  Okay, the kids didn't get to help too much with the decorating since they were only 3-5 years old and couldn't even reach the horses, but they got to dictate which decorations went where and had fun dressing the horsies up for the party.

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Meet Cam's horse, Daisy.  Cam chose these decorations.  I can honestly say I've never seen a horse sport scrunchies before.  It's a good look on her.  Cam chose this horse out of the bunch because she really liked her name.  She got to ride on her the entire time while the other children took turns on the other four horses. 

Then the kids helped lead the decorated horses out to the arena.  With some major assistance, Cam was saddled up on Daisy.  Cam was not on Daisy's back for more than 10 seconds when the horse became startled and started to skirt around and buck up her hind legs.  I was certain Cam would fall off.  Hello anxiety nice to feel you again.  But, this fearless and strong child of mine, held on for deal life, said "Whoa Daisy," and with the help of her trainer, the horse calmed down and was fine the rest of the day.  I, however, was not.  There was this fear that loomed over me for the remainder of the party that somebody would get hurt, and thus my desire for a glass of wine to calm the nerves.  Luckily, that didn't happen (Praise Jesus).  This incident did not phase Camdyn in the slightest.  She loved that horse, she rode that horse for the rest of the party, and can't wait to ride again. 

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Speaking of being proud, there were several children that conquered huge fears that day.  I had several mom's say to me in the stable, "I don't think my child is going to do this."  To which I responded, "That's okay, they can still watch and have a good time.  No worries."  All 14 kids rode a horse, and the only tears that were shed were of the "I don't want to get off the horse" variety. 

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To take my mind off of the incident with Daisy, I decided to pick up Chloe and take her to the other arena where the children were brushing and leading Miniature Horses.  Chloe and I had fun finding horse poop.  Yeah, sounds great, doesn't it?  She would say "Mo Horse Poop" and we would hunt for droppings in the sand.  A drink would have been better, but the poop distraction served its purpose.

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Then, the kids played relay games with the horses.  They separated in to two teams, with one horse on each team.  They raced the horses from one side of the arena to the other and then the rider tried to eat a gummy worm off of a plate filled with whipped cream, and then they raced back.  Did I mention they let the kids trot the horses...FUN!  The pictures of the kids are hilarious.  Cam wouldn't stick her face in the whip cream, but here she is eating her gummy worm.

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Here a few of the kids wait their turn.
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I just have to share this shot of the most adorable baby boy who belongs to one of my dearest friends.  He makes me feverish and makes my ovaries itch. 

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Then, they paused for a few pictures with the Nay Nays before it was time for cake.  Don't they look so tiny compared to the horses? 

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Then, it was time for cake.  And, finally my turn to breathe a sigh of relief, no one was injured.  Everyone had a great time.  The anxiety ridden part of the party is over!

Camdyn chose a My Little Pony cake and it was delicious. 

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We thanked our guests for coming and sent each child home with a horse figurine to play with and a box of crayons. 

The party was a success.  All the children seemed to enjoy themselves and it definitely was a memorable day at the Ranch.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thankful Thursday - My Family Bits N Pieces

It's been awhile since I've done a Thankful post, but that doesn't mean that I have lost my perspective.  I know that His blessings are everywhere.  I know that my worries are small compared to some.  I know that things always work out for the best.  I know that my family is my lifeline.
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Last Saturday, we went to two birthday parties at the same park, that were held at the same time, for two different children.  It was quite a convenient coincidence.  We spent hours playing outside in the wind and biting cold.   Okay, it wasn't that cold, but it was cold for us.  
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The big girls found a tree that was begging to be climbed.  They climbed that tree.  They paused for a split second for photos.  They indulged in their friendship and they literally wore themselves out. 
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I recently bought Chloe two new pairs of shoes from Pediped.  This morning, she put on her pink polka dot shoes and was ready to walk out the door for school when she notices that Sissy is wearing her brand new shoes that look just like hers (pictured above).  So, she ran inside and changed her shoes so that she and Camdyn were wearing the same ones.  I didn't ask her to, she just did.  My girls are finally embracing their sisterhood.  They share, they try to please one another, and Lord help me they are getting along. 

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My big girl is becoming my biggest helper.  Chloe sometimes has trouble cooperating.  She usually does this when it comes time to change her diaper, or get in her jammies.  She's content to run around the house half naked and often shows us her obstinate side.  I've recently learned to summon Camdyn's help when this happens.  Cam will say, "Chloe time to get your jammies on," and low & behold the child cooperates.  Last night, Camdyn changed her first diaper with minimal assistance.  Chloe laid perfectly still so that Cam could change her.  Why she won't let me do it, I'll never know.  But, thank goodness she cooperates for her sister.  And, truthfully, I appreciate the help. 

So, what am I thankful for today?  I'm thankful for my family, for our health, for my ability to spew my memories in this space.  I realize that there isn't a promise of a tomorrow. Last night, Chloe woke crying for me at 2 am.  I went to her, and I rocked her while she was snuggled up in a blank for over an hour.  I felt nothing but content and peace that I am able to do that.  I realize that life can change in the blink of an eye .  I realize that each and every day should be celebrated, and I am Thankful.  God is good.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Laughter

"Laugh as Much as You Breathe and Love as Long as you Live"
~Author Unknown
This photo of me and my Momma was taken in Vegas.  I was supposed to be looking at the camera and smiling, but I was goofing off instead.  I think I look a lot like Mr. Ed in this photo. 


Here I am following directions and doing the right thing.  We were both still giggling from my antics, so these smiles are genuine :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

I suck at party planning

I admit.  I am no good at party planning.  Although I somewhat enjoy it, I lack the creativity and time that allows for hand-made tissue paper flowers, name banners,  and a dedicated candy table.  I barely have enough energy to put together a general theme...and forget about matching goodie bags.  The thought of party planning to this extent gives me anxiety and also a sense of bewilderment and awe for those of you that do this.

I gave Camdyn two options for her 5th birthday party.  1) A camp out party at the house where we would light the fire pit, roast marshmallows and set up tents in the back yard to play in.  2) A horse party at a local ranch. 

She chose the horse party.  Hallelujah!  Although, it's going to be more expensive, I am not going to have to clean my house, I'm not going to have to attempt party themed decor, or brainstorm activities for the kids.  In fact, I get to let the ranch handle all of that...well, technically, I am paying them to handle all of that. So, I will show up with my kid, a cake, and some drinks, and we'll have ourselves a party!

Looky what Colleen from Shibley Smiles created for me!  I was so excited when I saw this.  Mind you, she did this in just a few hours, totally off the cuff.  I procrastinated, lost track of time, and then realized I had to get these in the children's hands before I left for Vegas...ugh, which totally reminds me that I still have a ton of photos to edit & share.  So, on Tuesday night I emailed her the deets and on Wednesday morning I printed these on 8x11 cardstock (easy breezy) and had these in the kids' folders by Wednesday afternoon. 

She's helluva talented and bailed me out of a serious invitation jam.  We've gotten quite a few compliments on them.  Thanks, Colleen!  I lovey me bloggy friends!

The Hubs and I have been debating whether or not we want to bring Chloe to the party.  It may be easier to leave her at home with a sitter so that I can take photos and so that he can watch, relax, socialize, help, and enjoy the party too.  Last night I asked Camdyn if it would be okay if we left sister at home with a sitter.  Her response,

"Yes, of course.  Wait.  Chloe LOVES Nay-Nays.  Chloe needs to come to my party.  Plus, she's my baby sister.  I need baby sister at my party." 

Heart - Melt.  Chloe's going to the party too.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Viva Las Vegas

This is where I should be wowing you with fantastic photos of the Vegas Strip lit up a night.  Or, compositionally exquite photos of architecture and food.  I've got none of that today, but I am going to play around with how I load photos to flickr and then post them here.  Boring, but necessary.

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Kinda neat.  This mirror ball was sitting on a table at a bakery in the Aria.  There I am.  My camera strap is cute!

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This photo was snapped while driving with my girlfriend, Laura.  I love the color of the mountains, and if you look far to the left you can even see a snow capped mountain peak in the background. 

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These little lanterns for the celebration of Chinese New Year were hanging from a tree in the Belagio.  I found them colorful and photo worthy.

Well, fantastic!  Now that I have that figured out, maybe tomorrow I can share photos that have people in them and some stories too!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wedenesday - Vegas Horizon

"We all live under the same sky, but we
don't all have the same horizon"
~ Konrad Adenauer

If there is one thing I miss about living out West (San Diego), it's the landscape.  I miss the picturesque mountains and the contrast of the beach yielding way to mountains just a few miles away.  I miss rolling hills and dry air.  I miss Western sunsets (although ours are pretty too).

I took this shot from the tram between the Monte Carlo Hotel and the Aria as the sun was setting behind the buildings. 

I have several other photos to share with you, but first I need to purchase more space from google.  It appears that I've reached my storage limit already....maybe tomorrow :)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Most Amazing Thing about my Trip to Vegas

I'm back.  I had a fantabulous time.  We shopped, we lunched, we took in a show, visited the spa, and I enjoyed a long weekend away.  As enjoyable as that all was (and photos and more detail will follow) the most fantastic part about the trip....was coming HOME. 

Coming home to my girls, one who squealed with delight when she saw me and the other who burst in to tears when she couldn't get to me fast enough on account of the fact that she was buckled in to her car seat.  I held her chubby baby hand all the way home as it was the only means of comforting her. 

Coming home to the Hubs who hugged me tightly and longer than usual.  I could almost smell the scent of  appreciation on him.  And, bless his heart, he had EVERYTHING under control for four days.  Not once did he guilt me about my time away, not once did he complain about having to manage the home front.  He even sent me photos of the girls shopping at Target and playing together to ease my worrying mind.  He handled it and I shouldn't have questioned his aptitude. 

Coming home to a house that was in a state of order far greater than I had left it.  The kitchen counters were clear, the floors recently vacuumed, the toys were all in their places, the beds were made and the laundry was done.  How did he manage all that when I can't manage all of that?  It was almost like a belated Christmas gift.

Coming home with an updated appreication for family life.  For nights spent referreeing tubby time, reading books, and tucking in the Littles.  For dinners where elbows are allowed on the table, and sometimes cute little baby feet find their way up there too.  For evenings spent in the crook of Hubs' arm while we watch Jersey Shore and dunk cookies in milk.  The life that I should appreciate more than I complain about it.

Getting away is always great, but so is coming Home. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

I Love Cake More than any Sane Person Should

At this very moment I'm enjoying the dry desert of Las Vegas.  I'm enjoying the fact that my hair looks fabulous and is perfectly straight and that never happens to me back home.  I'm enjoying the company of my oldest and dearest childhood friend and no doubt laughing over diet coke and high school memories. 

While I'm busy doing all of that and taking photos and creating memories to share, enjoy this little ditty.  This was originally written as a guest post for LeeAnn over The Life of Rylie...and Bryce too!  enons ago.

I'll miss you while I'm gone!

I like Cake.

Maybe I didn’t emphasize it enough. I mean, I REALLY LIKE cake. I like all baked goods, really, except for scones, which just aren’t sweet enough for me, and therefore don’t really belong in the baked good category. I have a serious sweet tooth, but not in a Swedish Fish/JuJuBe kinda way, but in a delectable, soft, chewy, fresh, and sweet kinda way.

That piece of knowledge about me is essential to this story.

It’s December, we are at a birthday party for a girl in my 4 year old’s class. It is held at one of those gyms for kids with balance beams, rings, a trampoline, and giant mats for tumbling. The kids have a blast. The Hubs spends the majority of the time with Chloe who is 9 months old and crawling, and I spend time chasing around our 4 year old and the birthday girl with the camera.

It’s cake time, everyone’s favorite part of a birthday party, right? So, Hubs goes in to the cake room to help Cam get situated at the table with her friends and I hang in the waiting area with Chloe, who refuses to be held and only wants to crawl around the filthy carpet. So, there I sit with her, trying to keep her from chewing people’s shoes, and picking yuckos off the carpet and putting them in her mouth. Before, I know it, cake time is over, they are passing out balloons and the party is over. So, Hubs being the gentleman he is and knowing me like the back of his hand, offers to grab me a slice of cake “for the road.”

We lug the kids, the diaper bag, my camera, and the balloon out to the truck and we get the girls in and we drive off. I look at Hubs and notice that he isn’t holding my cake. I look at the dashboard. Nope, no cake sitting on the dashboard. So I say to him, “Where’s my cake?” He looks at me with that “Oh crap” look that just signals that he screwed up and…I know. I know exactly what is coming ::gulp:: “I left it outside.”::crickets::

Now, I pause to describe myself a little further. I’m passive aggressive. I do not like confrontation, I am really hard to anger (although my 4 year old has figured out exactly how to accomplish that) and I have patience as long as the Nile. That said, this was my reaction:

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU LEFT IT OUTSIDE?” Hubs: “I think I forgot it on the bumper.” Me: “Well, it’s gone now….oh, I really wanted some cake.” In my head I’m thinking this, “You frickin’ idiot. How can you not remember a simple piece of cake? Every day I tote two kids around, lunch bags, diaper bags, toys, and crap, and rarely do I ever forget something. You had one kid and a piece of cake in your hand. How does that happen?” BUT, I would never say that, because it’s not my style.

So, I say, “It’s just cake.” But, inside, I’m fuming. And, I get silent. You know I’m mad when I can’t say a single thing. And, Hubs knew it, because as we merged on to I-75 he started apologizing for forgetting the cake, and then went in to a long narrative about how the cake wasn’t that great anyway. It was a nice effort on his part, but I really wanted that cake and I. Was. Furious.

So, we drive. We drive six miles down the freeway and merge on to city streets and we pull up to a stoplight. Something catches my eye. It’s a car load of teen-agers next to us, and one of them has their arm sticking out of the window. What is that they are doing? Taking a picture with an iphone? Of my bumper? OMG! The CAKE!

The kids are taking a picture of my lonely piece of cake sitting on my bumper
and they are probably posting it to their Facebook pages at this very moment
with a caption that says:
“Look at these schmucks driving around with cake on their car”

No way. So, I pull the car into a gas station, the Hubs jumps out, he retrieves the cake and brings it back in to the car and says, “There’s your cake! See I didn’t lose it, it was right where I said it was!”

Later that night, after the girls were in bed, I debated eating that cake. It had traveled down the freeway at 70 mph. It was exposed to exhaust, bugs, and unknown airborne particles of what-not. But, that cake wanted me. That cake held on to my bumper for dear life, and that cake was my destiny.

So, I ate it. It was damn good.

And, that’s how much I LOVE CAKE.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - New Moon

"When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator"
~ Mahatma Gandhi

I took this photo the night of the total lunar eclipse.  Ashley from Ramblings and Photos was kind enough to give me some shooting the moon tips, which I applied here.  Then, I awoke at 3 am and found that I was unable to meter on the dark orange and ominous eclipse.  At least my first moon shot was successful.

Happy Wednesday Y'all!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Slowin' It Down

My New Year's Resolution this year is to slow down and resist the urge to over schedule my life.  Like ALL NYR's it's a challenge, but I'm going to keep working on it....right after I get back from Vegas, and after Disney World at the end of the month, and Camdyn's Birthday celebration with her get the drift.

But, this past weekend we made the effort.  We indulged in a lazy Saturday morning that looked like this:

We ate homemade waffles and lounged in our jammies as long as we could.  Then, we trotted off to a birthday party and bounced and ate cake and then piled in the car for nap time and drove and drove and drove until we deemed the length of nap sufficient.  Then, I awoke Cam outside of the horse stables where we will hold her 5th birthday party with her friends in a few weeks.  When she looked out the window she saw girls participating in a riding lesson and she was in awe.  She squealed with giddiness and could not stop talking about the horses and their riders.

Then, we went home and played outside with the neighborhood kids.  We played basketball, rode our scooters, we played with buckets and rocks and went on wagon rides around the neighborhood.

And then the ice cream truck showed up on a balmy January evening just moments before dinner was on the table...and we indulged.  We spoiled our appetites and our dinner and enjoyed every second of it.  As the sun began to set we gathered the toys, lowered the garage door, and spent the rest of the evening snacking, playing games, and enjoying the slow life.  The life that allows us to spend just a little more time enjoying each other's company and family life.  This my friends, is exactly the way it should be.

Friday, January 7, 2011

If you are looking for me, you can find me at my wit's end. It's a lovely place, really...

This is my facebook status at the present moment.

It's been a rough week.  It started off splendidly with the celebration of Cam's 5th birthday and then proceeded to go downhill.  A nasty cold that swept through the family, school drama, and just good ole fashioned stress have topped the list of not-so-favorite things this week.  So, while I take a deep breath, indulge in a bubble bath and a few glasses of wine, I remind myself what I love so much about Mommahood and all the stress that come with it.

I think now is as good of a time as any to reflect on Christmas. 

This was the only shot I got of my girls together on Xmas morning.  I admit, I actually didn't take a ton of photos.  I chose to stay in the moment this year, and to see the joy through my own eyes instead of my lens. 
Santa brought the girls a Little Tikes 2-1 dollhouse/playhouse.  This was the perfect gift for them.  Chloe enjoys the house part, going in and out of the door, ringing the doorbell, and setting her babydoll in the built in high chair.  Cam enjoys the dollhouse part (the front part of the house).  She enjoys the doll furniture and make believe play with her barbies...and dinosaurs.
Here Chloe peeks out of the door, and amazingly, Cam can wiggle her entire body out of this door.

Here Chloe snuggles her sock monkey and clutches one of her favorite gifts...a new toothbrush.  It's odd how children often love the simplest things, Camdyn was all kinds of excited that Santa brought her the kind of toothpaste she can swallow (as I only let her buy big-girl toothpaste that you have to spit out).

This is the gift that Camdyn wanted more than anything else this year.  What is it?  It's a Hallmark Ornament.  Specifically, it's Hiccup riding Toothless from "How To Train Your Dragon."  This was one of Camdyn's favorite movies and she wanted this ornament more than anything.  It's so simple and so sweet.

This was the only photo I took of my girls TOGETHER in their Xmas dresses.  It'll do.  I love that you can see the huge bow on the back of Chloe's dress, and I love that their dresses coordinate but don't match exactly.  They looked so sweet in them.

One of my favorite photos of Chloe Belle.  She is clutching Abby's new Bitty Baby and staring up at Gramma standing next to me.  You can just see the hint of her boots peeking out from under her dress.  I love the light and the windows behind her and the fact that she is in the playroom, playing, just as a toddler should be. 

Well, I certainly feel better after thinking about all the joy that was had at Xmas. 

Have a great weekend!