Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Her First Crush

She likes this boy
She tells everyone, even strangers, that she has a boyfriend
They hold hands
They chase each other
She says she's going to marry this boy
This is her first


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reality Check

Well, we survived the first week of Kindergarten, but not without a serious reality check. 

Of course, this was MY reality check, not Cam's.  Cam adjusted brilliantly, just like I knew she would.  She loves school.  Every morning she says her "good byes" and "I love you's" from one side of the doorway while I stand on the other, then she scampers off to hang up her backpack. 

In the evenings, she is exhausted.  It's tough keeping her awake on the 20 minute drive to pick up Chloe from pre-school.  She's in bed and asleep by 8:00.  These are welcome changes for sure. 

But, there is this chunk of my day now that suddenly vanished.  The hours from 2:30 - 5, that used to be my own.  The hours where I would grocery shop, clean bathrooms, work out, or just veg out...poof gone.  These hours now belong to the taxi service that is picking up two kids from two different locations.  And now, once again, I am wondering "when in the world am I going to get this stuff done." 

I mistakenly thought that life would simplify a bit when Cam reached elementary school, but the truth of it is that life just got a little bit busier, a little bit more complicated as we now have two kids with two different schedules at two different schools.  And, now I'm starting to see a glimpse of what Momma's of older kids are talking about...driving them here, driving them there, homework, school activities, etc.'s never going to get easier...the challenges are just going to change. 

So, we'll adapt.  This is going to be our new normal, and all the things that I stress about will get done eventually...or not.  It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that my kids are happy.


We are happy.

And the cleaning and scrubbing can wait.


Until we hire a housekeeper....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oooh Ahhh - The Dining Room Dance

It's our last day of the cruise. 

We've been at sea all day, playing on the waterslide, soaking up the intense sun, and watching movies in our cabin. 

It's dinner time.  We shower and dress for the occassion. 

Camdyn is on her best behavior.  She has no toys to keep her busy, only a yellow crayon and a kid's menu.  She orders her meal with her very best manners, "I'll have fruit to start and then chicken nuggets and fries please."  She holds her napkin on her lap and sips water from a wine glass.  She watches her "boyfriend" play his DS.  I never have to remind her to settle down. 

And then....the music pops up.  There's an announcement.  Diners start rising from their chairs.  We know this drill.  It takes Camdyn a minute to figure it out.  She gets it. 

It's time to dance with the waitstaff.

This was probably my favorite moment of the cruise.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Oh, the Places You'll Go!
~Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.


And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.




...You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)



be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Cruise

In one word, our vacation was AWESOME.  You know you had a good time when you realize vacation is over and you immediately start to plot in your head when you can go on your next one. 

This was my first cruise.  It was a short one...a 4 day-er to Key West and Cozumel and then back to the port in Miami.  For us, it was the perfect length, plenty of time to relax and let loose, but not so much time that we were starting to look forward to getting off the boat. 

We traveled with friends.  Camdyn had a pre-school friend to keep her company and Cam's "boyfriend" was also there.  She simply adores that child, you can just tell from the photos.  We spent time with our friends at the casino, lounging by the pool, and at the comedy club in the evenings.  We spent our time off the ship together, shopping and exploring and in the evenings our dining table was full of laughter and friendship.

For me, the best part about cruising was that there was no "work" involved in this vacation.  There were no meals to plan, restaurants to decide on, roads to navigate, laundry to do, counters to wipe down, crowds to beat, etc.  We made our own schedule, we relaxed the way we wanted to, and we just enjoyed BEING.  Isn't that what vacation is all about? 

For us, it was a good decision to leave Chloe home.  I don't think she would have tolerated our late nights, missed naps, etc. the way Camdyn did.  One evening we checked Camdyn in to Camp Carnival (which she loved) at 9:30 pm and didn't pick her up until 1:15 am.  This was followed by ice cream and a bedtime that was shortly after 2 am.  Fun? yes.  For a 2 year old? No.

The next time we do'll be with both the girls!  I'm already looking forward to it!

On this trip I decided not to bring my DSLR.  I didn't want to be responsible for it.  I didn't want to lug it, and I didn't want to spend most of my time trying to get good shots.  Do I regret it?  A little.  There were a lot of great opportunities for fantastic photos.  Although, my point n shoot still captured the memories and now I don't have that shadow hovering over me that is "I have a ton of photos to edit." I was in the moment.  I am happy for that!   

**This is my first slide show thrown together in Lightroom.  It's not perfect, but I didn't have time to tinker with it.


Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of Kindergarten

I'm back.  We had the time of all times on our cruise.  Although, I've hardly had a moment to reflect, as we scurried in to the "back to school" routine the moment our ship came to port. 

This morning, we successfully dropped Camdyn off at school, without a tear shed.  How could I possibly cry when her expression was sheer exuberance?


I snapped a few photos (this was the only one on my cell phone) took a quick video, we sat her down in her seat, and said our good-byes.  We were the first parents out the door.  We had to be.  She doesn't like us to cling.  She doesn't need our reassurance.  She does change well.  She will be just fine and she knows it.

Although...I have already started counting down the hours until I pick her up. 

I just can't wait to hear all about her first day.

I officially have a child in elementary school. 

The thought is disturbingly wonderful.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Escape

Today I'm all "Viva La Mexico."

But I'm missing her smile.

I'm missing her puffy cheeks and her soft skin.

I'm missing her baby voice, the way she hugs my neck and the kisses she plants on my cheeks.

I'm excited to be here, but excited to get home.

This is life with kids. 

Sometimes you feel like you need to escape it,

but when you do,

you can't wait to get back to it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Blogger in da House

Y'all - I'm in Key West today.  We'll be shopping and lunching and enjoying the view.  Since I'm having sooo much fun, I thought you should too.  Meet my friend, Jenn.  Her blog is a little bit of everything...crafting, moming, baking, you name it she does it with flare.  She's sweet and gorgeous and her boys are too. 


Then go follow.

Hi everyone, my name is Jennifer and I have a little slice of blogland called Circle of Love and the Craziness Around It. My friend Carol asked me to do a post for her while she is away and I was flattered. Carol and I met via the blogging world a few months back and I can honestly say I am grateful that our paths have crossed. We both have 2 kiddos around the same age. She has girls and I have boys. We relate....LOL! As moms, I think we can all relate regardless of the age or sex of our kids. We all experience the same ups and downs and we all need an outlet to keep is sane. With is what I have been feeling lately. 
"Hurry Up, Hurry Up"
These are every mother's famous last words....
  • Hurry your breakfast.
  • Hurry're gonna be late for school.
  • Hurry up...we have to get your brother off the bus.
  • Hurry up...get to the bathroom.
  • Hurry up...we have to get home to make dinner.
  • Hurry up...get to bed.
Why as mother's do we always feel like we are racing against the clock? No matter what I am doing or where I am going, time is of the essence. Even when I am going someplace by myself (which is don't think I am traveling leisurely without my children), I feel like I can never really enjoy myself because I am worried about what is going on at home without me. Some days I wish I knew the secret to turning back the clock so I could enjoy life just a little more.....

Monday, August 15, 2011

We're Cruisin'...

We're off, well, 3/4 of us are. 

We are headin' to port. 

Just me, the hubs, and my eldest child. 

This will be Cam's and my first cruise.

My claustrophobic anxiety is already setting in.

I hope the cabins are "big enough."

I hope I can navigate the ship without having to get in an elevator.

I hope I am having too much fun to care (like I do in Vegas...elevators don't bother me there).

I hope Camdyn has the time of her life.


Although, how could she not.

Fun is the only language she knows.

Plus - her "boyfriend" will be there.


Gramma & Grandpa are holding down the homestead with Chloe Belle.


It's only a few days, but I'm going to miss her like crazy. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Word{ish} Wednesday - Handsome & my first posted PS edit

Baseball is the only place in life where a sacrifice
is really appreciated.
~Author Unknown

I love this shot of handsome holding a baseball. 

He & Chloe will officially start school together on Monday. 

I wish for them what Handsome's big sister and Chloe's big sister have...


This photo also marks my first posted PhotoShop edit.  Okay, truthfully, I processed it in LR first.  I adjusted the W/B, I increased the blacks, then I applied the SurReal Preset from Presets Heaven.

Then, I took my already edited photo in to PS.  My SOOC image is below.


Now, I don't really know my way around PS very well, but I had a dinner/gabbing/learning session, with my friend, Bridgette awhile ago and I thought I could use something she showed me here.  So, I pulled out my notes, and I set to work removing that shoe from the photo.

I employed the use of my Lasso tool and it removed it mostly, but the ground looked weird in spots.  So, I used the clone stamp tool (or something like that) and copied the grass area on the right, and brushed it over the weird areas on the left.  Shoe - be gone.

Then, for fun.  I ran the Coffee Shop - Cream and No Sugar action. 

I'll get shoe at a time.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

She Did Horse Camp at Laurel Valley Ranch

It's not really news that my girls love horses.  I mean, they really, really love horses.  We drive by them daily, we read about them at home.  We watch Horseland on repeat, and my two year old can identify horses by their coat color, "that's a Palomino, that's an Appaloosa, that's a Paint."  And likewise, I know more about horses than I did a few years ago.

When we decided that Cam would finish pre-school at the end of July, we needed a camp or activity for her to do for a week.  I gave her several options, gymnastics camp, dance camp, or horse camp.  Naturally, she chose horse camp.  So, I got in touch with the the Ranch where she had her birthday party last January.  I was a bit concerned that Camdyn might be on the young side to participate, but I was assured that they have children come to camp that are younger than 5 1/2. 

After trading a few very informative and encouraging emails with the owner, Kathy, I decided to register Camdyn for 3 days of horse camp.  I decided that going Mon, Wed, Friday, would offer her a day of rest from the intense Florida heat and humidity in between her horse camp days.  Approximately $275 later and she was all set to go.


We arrived at LVR at about 8:45 on Monday morning.  Cam was beaming ear to ear and was 10 kinds of excited about the horses already.  I, on the other hand, had knots in my stomach and 10 thousand questions running through my mind.  I signed her in, had a quick chat with her leader about sunscreen, her lunch, pick up time, and keeping her safe.  I signed a waiver, Cam tried on a helmet and she was off to the barn.

I was left standing there having a "mommy moment."  She's really growing up.  She's not scared about this?  She'll be here all day, she knows no one?  Should this have been harder for her?  In that moment as I walked to my truck I decided I would pick her up as soon as possible that afternoon.  So, I showed up at 3:00. 


She was happy, dirty, sweaty and exhausted...and thoroughly peeved that she missed her afternoon bareback session because I showed up early.  Like a good Momma, I promised her she could stay for bare back riding on Wed & Friday.

I made good on that promise.  I sat at a picnic table, armed with my zoom lens (which was fogged up from the humidity) and photographed Camdyn riding bare back for the first time.  She trotted in her early morning lesson, but soon discovered that riding bare back did not afford her the same confidence.

Her instructor would remind her "pick up the reigns, Camdyn, and tell that horse where to go."  And she would.  She needed the reminder.

"Camdyn turn that horse around and go the other way. Look over your shoulder in the direction you want your horse to go."

That's what she did in the photo above.  She turned her horse, named Special, around.  180 degrees, around, pride written all over her face, along with extreme concentration.  My heart swelled for her. 

Sometimes we forget that children have milestone moments on a regular basis.  Moments where they accomplish something that may not seem like a big deal to others, who do it regularly, but for them, it's a big deal.  Controlling that horse, that one time, was a big moment for Camdyn.


When I asked Camdyn who her best friend at Horse Camp is, she replied, "Molly." 

Molly is a horse.

This does not surprise me.


Her experience at horse camp was a positive one.  Sure, I wish they would have helped her apply more sunscreen after that swim in the pool, and sure, I wish someone would have made sure she ate more than skittles for lunch one day, but those are small potatoes, really. 

She was safe at horse camp.  She loved every second of it, including craft time.  She brought home the cutest felt horses that she made in the camp room.  And, boy I wish I could remember the name of the lovely lady who took the time to sit with me and Chloe on Friday afternoon as we watched Cam's final bare back session.  She told me that Camdyn is fearless, and we discussed how much Cam enjoyed making crafts that day.  That interaction and feedback made my day. 

My kid, had an amazing experience at Laurel Valley Ranch, and her love for horses continues.  She can't wait to go back for a few weeks next summer, and I'm thinking that some time in between now and then, she just might have to have a few private lessons. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Dance Trance

I have no words for this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beach

Y'all we had the best weekend and I'm going share bits-n-pieces with you, but I'm going to let LeeAnn do most of the storytelling. 

You see this week we are out of our normal pattern, Camdyn is out of pre-school and going to horse camp 3 days this week, we have Gramma coming to town on Friday, and I'm just trying to tread the water and keep my stuff together. 

So, I'll share a few photos with you, and then hop on over to LeeAnn's blog and read about how our time together went down. 

I'm trying to re-develop an appreciation for the snapshot, so here we go! 

Saturday morning, we met LeeAnn and her adorable family at the #1 beach in the country.  The morning looked a lot like this:



Camdyn's best friend and her family happened to make a morning out of the beach too.  And we were glad to hang out with them, they brought 2 umbrellas and thereby doubled the amount of shade we had to sit under.  Here Camdyn & her Bestie play in the sand.

Bryce was all about the snacks.  He filled up on blueberries and then promptly fell asleep on LeeAnn's lap...for over an hour.  She got to relax, snuggle her baby, and listen to the sounds of the waves lapping the shore.  Talk about heaven on earth!

Then, Chloe Belle and I took turns taking pictures of each other.  Here's my shot.

And here's hers.  No, I didn't take it of myself, I was trying to move her little fingers off of the lens and she pushed the button. 

OMG - I'm a lucky lady :)
Chloe Chris beach

Becky took this shot of me and Chloe together - Love.

Chloe Mom Beach_2

After morning crept in to early afternoon, LeeAnn & her family headed to the hotel for naps, and we headed home for the same.  Then, they came over for dinner and play time.  When I opened the door, the first thing we noticed was that we had dressed Rylie & Chloe in the same exact shirt, and of course since my girls usually coordinate, Camdyn was wearing a similar shirt from the same Gymboree line.  How funny...and it made for a really cute picture!  Notice that Chloe has my point n shoot...

And then the evening was over and we bid our friends farewell.  I was kind of bummed that I never got a photo with LeeAnn...but then I loaded the photos on my computer (including 100+ pictures that Chloe took with her fingers covering the lens) and discovered this:

Chloe took it while we were taking pictures of them.  Not the best shot, but her fingers were out of the way!  It's a keeper.

We had a fabulous time with our friends, and we can't wait to get together with them again soon.  Now, head on over to LeeAnn's blog and read in detail about our time at the beach and see some super cute photos!