Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013 Scenes

It was a very merry time!
Baking cookies for Santa

The committed crew of decorators

Danny's turn to put Baby Jesus in the manger

A grand group

The Christmas morning scene

Dapper dudes in vests

Laura admiring her new stocking from Grammy while allowing Danny to read to her.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Danny's 1st Grade Nativity Play

Right before Thanksgiving, Danny got the exciting news that he would get to play a soldier in the annual nativity play performed by the CKS 1st Grade. His Halloween costume would be so perfect! He was psyched. Then, at the first practice, he fainted. Fell off the riser and cut his head. Since this was not his first fainting experience, I figured he'd shake it off. Instead, the incident haunted him throughout the next several practices. As they moved through the play more quickly and the days were cooler, he relaxed. Until performance night. Getting ready for the play, Danny was more nervous than I have ever seen him! Several trips to the bathroom, a few rounds of tears, and lots of assurances later, we got him to the show dressed and ready. Where he recited his line beautifully and did not faint! (Though he fidgeted constantly and took deep breathes visibly over and over again.)

He was darling, and just about the sweetest soldier I've seen. But, perhaps not quite ready for a drama club.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Clare 'Do Returns

Last weekend, Clare decided rather abruptly that she was ready to cut her hair - rather significantly. She stuck to her decision, so one week later we went for the chop!

We had hoped to have enough to donate, and sure enough, the stylist managed to salvage 8 inches which we will send off to Beautiful Lengths.

Of course we always think she's gorgeous, but Tim and I are both particularly delighted with the return of her bob - it just feels like her signature style!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Fa La La

With Thanksgiving being so late this year, and being out of town, it feels as though it took us quite a while to put up our tree. But the long-awaited day finally arrived, and as usual it was worth the wait. After a somewhat gross warm, humid week, today the seasonally chilly weather returned just in time for our festivities - and holiday attire:

A tree was quickly selected in order to beat the cold and get to bagels sooner. The remainder of the day was spent putting up outdoor decor and tracking down supplies for our tree-trimming feast (and Clare's science fair project...). At last the appointed hour arrived, which we kicked off with a bubbly toast:

I love that they are all still so enthusiastic about coordinating pajamas.
Then the decorating began in earnest. Tim and I both observed that Laura is really at a fun age for Christmas, delighting in everything - she excitedly called me over to the front door to look at how our light-up reindeer's head moves. Every ornament elicited an "ooh," from her, while Clare and Danny relished in reuniting with old favorites.

As much as they love the tree, the chocolate fondue for dessert may still be the kids' highlight...and may explain why I had a tough time getting a picture with our finished product. But hey, a little fun along the way is really the whole point, right?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

We loaded up in the van and headed for the sunny shores of Sarasota for Thanksgiving, taking a full week to spend with the Seymour side of the family. While the weather wasn't always perfect, we did manage to sneak in some fun in the sand and sun:

We did a lot of other things besides the beach, yet that is all I managed to photograph! Suffice to say we had a lot of quality time with Donna, Larry, Karen & Brian; the boys golfed, we all played Bingo (with two family members winning!), took a family photo on the beach, visited the terrific Tampa zoo, and most importantly ate and laughed. Lots of thanks to give!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

So Big

We're plowing through major toddler milestones these days. Laura continues to be a potty-training rock star, even conquering #2 (more or less, anyway). And now she's in a big girl bed. She has slept in it for about five days now, and so far remains as firmly entrenched in it as Clare and Danny were - no aimless wanderings or midnight escapes. Yesssss.

Meanwhile, today I had my first parent-teacher conference for Laura, which I approached both with our "Meh, third child" attitude paired with a bit of "Oh dear, I wonder what they're going to tell me?" Last week the teachers had us fill out a prep sheet for the conference, asking us to detail Laura's strengths, weaknesses, and any concerns we have. After staring at it blankly for quite some time (I mean, she's two), I finally scribbled down something and moved on to the next task. I happened to mention her temper as a concern of mine, which evidently was laughable to her teachers who describe her as "quiet, timid, and sweet." HA! But hey, if she has learned early on how to work her teachers, kudos to her, am I right?

In all seriousness, though, her teachers report that while she is somewhat shy, she is also social and interacts well, is good at sharing (can't wait to tell THAT to Clare and Danny), uses her manners, and has strong verbal skills. She is still "emerging" in the "separates well from mommy" category, which doesn't surprise me - we spend a lot of time together. Evidently she has also told her teachers that her brother and sister are very nice to her (see above photo for evidence of how often Clare plays with her). Since she is not great about expressing her appreciation directly to them, this was nice to hear!

She has her moments, both good and bad. She's growing like a weed, but she's still my baby.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Control Herself

"May I have this dance?" she sweetly asked...but wouldn't have taken "No" for an answer.

Laura is officially a panties-wearing gal. We haven't quite jumped the #2 hurdle yet, but this not being my first rodeo, I know that will probably take a while but ultimately will happen. And since she attended school today wearing panties and returned home wearing the same clothes, I am ready to declare success.

From her conception, I have dreaded potty training. It ranks up there with getting an infant to sleep as my least favorite elements of parenthood thus far. Upon some reflection, I have recognized that it really is a battle for control. Sure, I knew Laura was trying to assert her desire to be in control. But it's possible that perhaps I, too, am a bit of a control freak. And maybe I don't quite give my baby girl enough credit. Turns out she's fairly capable of telling us when she needs to go to the bathroom. So the 50-minute stand-off we had in the bathroom this morning, which caused her to be late to school and me to miss my window to run before my haircut, was not necessary. Live and learn, right?

Toddlerhood is summed up with the phrase "power struggle." Laura aims to be quite powerful, too, dictating music choices in the car, the up or down status of the window, which sibling will play with her and what game they will play, and most especially her footwear (to name a scant few).  She is atrocious at taking "No" for an answer, although her fits are becoming increasingly shorter in duration. She is, I suppose, on the cusp of turning three, with all the triumphs and terrors that accompany the age.

Yesterday, as we spent more quality time together while mastering the potty routine, I was struck by the song "When Will My Life Begin?" from Tangled (she LOVES to listen to princess music). I spend a lot of time wishing Laura would get older, get past certain irritating behaviors.  But I also find myself really enjoying her company, the many times when she makes me laugh, or comments "that was a great story!" after a book. And I really love listening to her sing. Life doesn't begin when you hit a certain age or milestone, it's happening every day. Time: a reminder that none of us, really, is in control.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

For the fifth year in a row, we spent Halloween with the Francos. But this year we ventured to their house, checking out their new neighborhood's offerings for the holiday. Suffice to say, Starlight Hills did not disappoint. All the kids had a blast - perhaps Laura most of all!

It took her a while to be ready to put on her costume, but once dressed she was ready!
Tim took her trick-or-treating, and reports that her favorite phrases were, "Let's go get some more candy!" and "My basket is so full!" While it was still light out, she was also fond of telling him, "You stay there" while she ventured up to the doorsteps. However, once the sun set she was more than happy to have him accompany her.
Another CKS family lives up the street from the Francos, so we had a good crew for trick-or-treating.

The big kids enjoyed the sorting and trading of candy, while Laura looked on and mostly admired her acquisitions. This was followed by the traditional use of glow sticks, which Laura was delighted to partake in. Party girl giddily stayed up well past her bedtime!
I was happy to see Clare and Danny happily coordinate costumes for the third year in a row. Danny pestered me for weeks to dress up, too, so I finally caved and tossed together a Medusa costume - his Greek warrior really did need a nemesis.

All in all, a fun night with great friends!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pumpkins for the Punkins

This year we didn't make the trek to the mega pumpkin farm. The month already seemed so busy with sports, plus our mountain weekend (where I hoped we might sneak in a visit to a patch). In hindsight, I sort of regret not going. Fortunately, Tim and his parents managed some pumpkin procurement while I was in Cape Cod, so our porch is not bereft!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Running Away

Last February, in Tahoe, I made a bet that, frankly, I didn't think would come to pass. If Mallie ran a half marathon, I would go skiing again. Evidently I underestimated her, and it would seem that I will, at some point, be strapping on some skis, as this past weekend we ladies of 329 completed the Cape Cod Half Marathon. And I really hope it becomes a tradition.
Kettle corn at the finish was a major incentive for Mal Pal.
 October is my favorite month, and autumn is my favorite season, no question. So a tour through one of New England's glittering gems at this time of year was a slam-dunk as far as I was concerned. (Bonus points for a fairly flat course.) I had already sworn, after last November's Atlanta half marathon, that I was through running through the ATL for long distances, because the views simply do not match the effort required for the incessant hills. This vow, paired with my desire to make more of my girls' trips active ones, led me to a fabulous April race with Sheryl (the Chickamauga Chase 15K, through picturesque Chickamauga National Battlefield on the border of Georgia and Tennessee) and now this Cape Cod half marathon.
I remain supremely impressed with Mals' dedication to run this, considering she had never run more than a 5K. Breen overcame injuries, Susan snapped out of her semi-retirement, and together we had a truly wonderful weekend. We stayed in Charlie's aunt and uncle's incredible home on the Cape, ate ourselves silly, and gabbed and gabbed and gabbed.
The view from the house where we lodged.
We're all now nestled back into reality, but I am already scheming for the next race, fueled by my memories. You can't run away from your problems, but you can run away to good times!
Post-race lunch and beverages.

Monday, October 21, 2013

3 Years and Counting: Mountain Weekend with the Francos

Writing stories on the porch.
The GA-TN line.
The third time was just as charming, and sealed the tradition of our fall mountain getaway with the Francos. We blended essential elements from years past (glow sticks, hiking, wine and cards) with new ventures (fishing, camp fires) and came away with wonderful memories, as always.

This year's house was an online find located in Blue Ridge, GA and right on the Toccoa River. And when I say "right on," I mean that if your car doesn't navigate the 45-degree angled driveway properly, it will wind up in the river. Driveway aside, though, the location was fantastic because the river provided gorgeous vistas, and enabled Danny to fulfill his long-harbored hopes of fishing. Actually, we primarily have Luis to thank for that. Thanks to his pursuit of a fishing license, rods, and bait - and Tim's patience in hooking worm after worm on rods - Danny and Gabrielle happily fished for nearly four hours on Friday afternoon in the glorious sunshine (Clare and Isabella kept themselves otherwise occupied). Danny caught a small one, and later Luis and Gabrielle a larger one, but mostly they reveled in perfecting their casts and absorbing the fresh air. Saturday afternoon saw them fishing again, but the fish weren't biting and it was a bit chillier, so somehow the glory wasn't quite recaptured...but Friday was spectacular enough for all.
Posing with the conductor on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.
Fishing gals.

The riverside fire pit was also a major highlight of this year's house, especially on Friday night when the moon was full (and there was no football competing for our attention). S'mores and moonlight are a magical combination, and provided Clare's favorite moment for the weekend. It also brought out Tim's inner pyro...

Caught one!
Campfire kids.

We managed to find a hiking trail that didn't test anyone's limits this year, and surprisingly Clare and Isabella led the way. What a difference a year makes!

We also checked out the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, opting for the open-air cars which were, in fact, a bit chilly but provided some nice views. Not sure we need to repeat the experience, but we did get the chance to stand on the Georgia-Tennessee line and witnessed a "Drug and Gun" emporium that really made us wonder. We also enjoyed the charming town of Blue Ridge, where Tim found an olive oil store to his liking and the kids spent a loooooong time with some animals up for adoption. But clearly the best times were had back at the cabin.
Happy hiker.

It's always a bit exhausting to vacation with kids, particularly a toddler, but well worth it, especially in the company of solid friends. Here's hoping to many more mountainous weekends!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Between the Posts

Life according to the blog may seem slow, but day-to-day life during the school year is anything but. Not always remarkable, but definitely busy. A random sampling of things lately includes:

A visit to the doctor, when she passes the waiting time by getting stylish.

Decorating for Halloween, an eagerly-awaited task each year.

Breaking in the Halloween costume.


A victorious chestbump after a Danny-to-Will touchdown pass and run.
As always, stay tuned.