Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This Fall

I have been so bad this fall about taking iPhone pictures and not using my fancy (ish) camera that Craig bought me a few years ago.  So bad, in fact, that my camera's storage capacity has almost been met.  

But I have busted out the "mom" camera a few times this year and then I actually had time to upload them over the weekend.  Here are just a few of the best ones from the past few months.

Okay.  Not the BEST quality of picture but it's pretty hard to get an 18 month old to stand still for any amount of time.  This was her first day back at Ms. Rebecca's house as a "big girl" and although she was a little tentative at first, she quickly fell back into the routine.  

Of course.  The dog kennel is the best place in the house to hang out.

Craig and I took one Tuesday off from work in October and we traveled to the State Fair near downtown Dallas for the day.  We started off the day at the Little Hands on the Farm exhibit but she wasn't really feeling it.  She said NO to the apron and NO to riding around on a mini John Deere tractor.  

Picking the "apples" out of the tree.  See the aprons on the other children?  She would have none of that.

Planting a seed in the dirt.....or you know, playing in the dirt.

Picking out a vegetable from the harvest.  For whatever reason, she chose an eggplant.  Who knows why.

Checking out a baby giraffe at the kid's animal exhibit.  She did not leave my dad's arms for the entire time we were in that place.  There were TONS of people plus lots of big animals and she was perfectly content sitting snug in Granddaddy's arms.

Baby giraffe - probably her favorite.

So intent and focused.

The family checking out the talented jumping dog show.

We even got to meet and pet one of those talented puppy dogs!  She waited so patiently in line while noisy, rude teenagers pushed in front of her and once we got up to the dog, she used her best sweet puppy dog pat.  I will admit - I was a pretty proud Momma.

Natalie loved climbing in and out of several cars at the car show.  My dad has been an autobody repairman for his entire life and cars are one of his great loves.  I know he was happy to see his only granddaughter showing such enthusiasm - she would even turn the wheel and make "vroom, vroom" noises.

The beginning of the whale ride.  She (and I) were both pretty nervous.  She was by far the youngest child on the ride without a parent seated next to them.  But she was a trooper and held on the entire time.

And of course LOVED it in the end.

Another favorite ride was the four-wheeler merry-go-round.  

The only real meltdown we had during the day was the fact that at some moments, she just DID NOT want to sit in her stroller and by 2:00 when we were headed out the gate, I wasn't in the mood to fight her so on my shoulders she rode.  My mom snapped this picture of our little family heading out of the park.

And then of course, what's a trip to the State Fair without the requisite Big Tex picture.  

This is obviously before his untimely incineration.

The best thing about the State Fair is the nap you get to take afterwards.

Switching gears slightly....this was Natalie's outfit on Saturday when we went to pick out her pumpkin.  Such a big girl with her tights, boots and jean jacket.

I don't carve pumpkins.  I don't like the mess and the frustration so I decided to make PAINTING pumpkins our family tradition.  I started out by taping off her initials using painter's tape.

We bought some really great Crayola kids' paint (because I KNOW we'll be painting soon again).


The actual painting of this pumpkin was pretty hilarious and adorable.  She was naked except for her diaper and freaked out in the beginning because the girl does NOT like to have her hands (or anything else for that matter) dirty.  Craig and I had to soothe her over and over, "it's okay to be a little dirty, this is fun, just paint."  

More and more I'm seeing some OCD tendencies come out in her which absolutely terrifies me, but that's a whole other blog post.

But the painting.  It was full of screeches and hops and slapping our thigh with paint.  And then some paint managed to find it's way onto the pumpkin as well.

But I'm not posting those pictures because she's beginning to be a big girl and I just don't think halfway naked toddler girl pictures are appropriate for the interwebs.  But it makes me sad at the same time, because some of her faces are absolutely ridiculous.

But here she is with her pumpkin all finished and obviously SO excited to be having her picture taken, right?  

Or not.

Nice snarl, honey.

Oh wait!  There's my smiley girl!  Yes.  A tutu.  On a Sunday.  Because, you know, she's 20 months old and it's still cute.

Her new trick?  When I get out the camera...."cheese" and she kind of smiles and looks at me.  Where do they learn these things?

That's all I've got for right now!  I knew I needed to get these pictures and memories out there because pretty soon we're going to be hitting our stride with the holiday season and I have a feeling this year is going to be BUSY.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Natalie Lately

At almost twenty months old.....

her language has exploded - she will fearlessly try to pronounce any word you throw her way and she is starting to speak in short sentences.

she loves to run and jump, to twirl and spin.

her favorite playmates and cuddle buddies are still Angie and Ajax.

she's outgrown all her 2T summer outfits and is working into 3T winter clothes.

we have finally gotten her into a solid sleeping routine which starts around 8:00 and ends with her waking up between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning.

there isn't much that she won't eat but her favorites include mac and cheese, peas, milk, strawberries and anything she can dip.

her hair has turned a golden brown and those curls are holding on at the bottom of her hair but I am thinking they won't stay much longer.

she is at the top of curve in both height and weight but her little toddler body is still long and lean....just like Momma.

Conquering the big slide at the playground near our house.  When it comes to doing physical things, she is absolutely fearless.  Climb up the "rock" wall?  Check.  Go down the big slide on her own?  Check.  And of course, every park trip has to end with feeding the duck-ducks.

Watching "ball" on television with her own volleyball in her lap.  Anytime she sees a ball game (football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, golf) on the television (or in real life for that matter) she points and screeches "BALL!  BALL!"  She's not really a television-watching kind of kid - we don't watch cartoons or DVDs in our house at this point in time, but put on a game of volleyball or the Olympics this summer and she is mesmerized.  The other night at my 7th grade volleyball game every time one of my girls would serve, from across the court I could hear her yell "BALL!" and point as the volleyball was launched over the net.  I must admit, this makes my little coaching heart very proud.

And this is how we start our mornings.

Little curly piggies.

We found a great little jean jacket for cheap at JC Penney's and it was love at first sight for Natalie.  She had to carry it on her own to the register but then got a little frightened when it came time to check-out.  Natalie did NOT want to hand it to the lady at the register but luckily she was kind enough to scan the tag while I held Natalie and her jean jacket in my arms.  It's a great little jacket that goes with every outfit she has....but doesn't it make her look so grown up?

Just hanging out in the cart at Garden Ridge waiting for me to pay for the new living room rug.

She disappeared one night before bedtime and this is where I found her - curled up with one of her favorite books...about a dog of course.

Her super cool outfit complete with leggings, long t-shirt and boots.....ready for the high school volleyball game!

And then this happened last week.  Brushing her teeth in the corner with her new boots on coupled with a pink tutu.  If that doesn't scream INDEPENDENT TODDLER I don't know what does.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guilt and Shame

I usually do a pretty good job of heading off that awful dragon in the back of my head that roars "not good enough!" But this week has been rough.

It's all innocent stuff.

A trip to the pumpkin patch with her beloved baby-sitter complete with adorable pictures.

A painting of a pumpkin that she created with her Grandmama.

The fact that when she throws a fit at dinner, I'm the one that takes her to time-out on the stairs where she has already perfected the "I'm mad at you" glare and huff with her arms crossed.

The first words out of her mouth when I pick her up out of the crib in the morning - Da Da.

Next week is Halloween and I have a volleyball game that night - she'll go Trick or Treating with Craig and our friends that have a daughter Natalie's age.

But it's all the little stuff that is piling up and weighing on my heart.

I feel guilty that I'm missing out on all the fun fall activities - the pumpkin patch and Trick or Treating.  I feel guilty that I haven't done any fall crafts with her - no painting and I didn't even make her costume.

And then I Mommy-shame myself.  I work too much and so she's forgotten about me.  I sacrifice my time with her to go to a Book Club.  Our family time is spent at a high school volleyball game and not at home making crafts and playing with stuffed animals.

That little dragon is roaring at me that I'm not good enough and that Natalie would be much better off in the hands of those other people that love her.

Craig tells me I'm being ridiculous and that Natalie doesn't hate me.  He tells me that I'm about to be spending tons of time with her and we'll reestablish our bond.

But right now in this moment I just can't believe him.  That little dragon is just too loud for me to ignore.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10 Minutes

I've been a little bit starved for thoughtful blog posts lately.  We've just had a lot going on in addition to the regular hustle and bustle of volleyball season and raising a toddler.

I hate saying that though.

I feel like "I've been so busy" is just cliche.  Because we're ALL busy in some form or fashion.  

I think it's just the nature of the autumn season.  Regardless of whether you have school-age kids or not, the fall season seems to amp up social get-togethers due to the holidays and people wanting to see each other after summer vacations.  It's the time when book clubs, Bible studies and other "meeting" type activities get started.

It's just hectic.

Last week things got a little more hectic for us........and then ridiculously slow.  Maybe it was God's way of providing us with the time to breathe deep and refocus that we need at this point in volleyball season.  I start school full throttle and it doesn't let up for two months straight until the season is over.  At least with basketball season Craig has Thanksgiving, Christmas and final exams thrown in there to break up his season and provide some rest for both him and his players.

Anyways.  Last Wednesday Craig had a doctor's appointment for his irregular blood work that he had received and during this appointment he remarked to the doctor that his right side was aching.  The doctor checked him out and advised him to go directly to the emergency room due to the fact that it appeared to be an infection surrounding his appendix.  I met him at the hospital down the road from us and we sat in the ER until 8:00 that night and all we walked away with was the knowledge that Craig has gall stones.  

On Thursday morning he went back to a different doctor (one affiliated with our local hospital) and this particular doctor was enraged that Craig had been sent home on Wednesday evening without the hospital notifying any doctor on call.  Long story short, I received a phone call at work from Craig telling me that he would be having his gall bladder removed at 1:30 that afternoon.


Luckily I work at a wonderful school and I was able to get coverage for my classroom and met him at the hospital shortly after his phone call.  The surgery was outpatient so we were home at 8:00 that night but I missed my 8th grade volleyball games and the whole day of school on Friday.  For the rest of the weekend we just hung out around the house and ate all the delicious food that our friends from his school brought us.  

It was actually pretty delightful.

Maybe it's what we needed....I just wish we didn't have to pay for a surgery in order to receive the rest and relaxation.

There.  Ten minutes full of thinking, typing and writing.  It's not great.  But it will do for now.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


With Craig's condition (more on that later) keeping us home this weekend, I took it upon myself to use my time wisely and get more work done in our living room. 

The biggest item we purchased was this rug which was $150 at Garden Ridge.
I know.  I KNOW.  A lot of money, right?  But the texture is perfect and the colors are just the right muted shade of orange and turquoise that it really compliments the room while not being distracting.  I just knew that there wouldn't be any other rug that was going to capture my heart the way this one did so Craig gave me the go ahead to get it....with the promise that we wait to purchase curtains until the next paycheck.
But to make up for the expensive rug, I've been doing LOTS of vintage and second-hand store shopping for the little odds and ends. 
Vintage milk glass style bowl - $7.00, Goodwill and fake oranges - $4.00, Garden Ridge

Gorgeous milk glass decorative bowl - $14.00, antique store
Sorry for the foggy iPhone picture!
Three milk glass vases - $5.00 each, antique store with fake orange flowers - one bundle for $5.00
And then there was my naptime project......well, not MY naptime but during Natalie's naptime.  I bought this cool, chunky octagonal end table at a parking lot sale a few weeks ago with my mother for twenty bucks.  Add a package of sandpaper and a quart of turquoise paint and voila!  I got a good start on my most ambitious living room project to date.  Now that the first coat of paint is completely dry, the color isn't so BOLD and is much more muted (which is exactly what I wanted).  Just a few more coats, a LOT of glossy sealer.....put a bright white bowl or decor item down below with a tray holding coasters and remotes on top! 
I'm still on the hunt for a long and skinny sideboard style table to go against the wall in the living room but I am definitely NOT paying more than $75 for it so this makes my search a little more difficult. 
I'm pretty happy with the way it's all coming together.  It's just fun to have a solid vision of what I want and then be able to see it come to fruition.  I was a little nervous before we started this whole thing - would my turquoise and orange idea be terrible or amazing?!  But so good.  I'm just excited to be able to put it all together into one fabulous room!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 15, 2012

Milk Glass

Ebay is a dangerous place for a girl like me.

My current obsession is vintage white milk glass kitchenware.

Gorgeous, right?

All I did was Google "small white vases" and then down the rabbit hole I fell.

It's classic.  It's lasting.  It's a chameleon.

It's all so absolutely perfect for my house.

I found a few great sets of vases on sale on Ebay and I already sent the links off to Craig.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Just A Little Longer

It's 8:24 on a Thursday evening.

The toddler should be sleeping and I should be curled up in bed with two pups, catching up on Jon Stewart, Glee and those crazy Housewives.

But she isn't and I'm not.

I'm lying on brand new floors being fed plastic food cooked for me by a curly headed girl with bright blue eyes, who is waiting expectantly for me to eat and rave over her superior cooking skills.

I tell her it's delicious and that I love her.

She beams, giggles and takes my plate back to the kitchen.

"Milk?"  Ever the hostess, she offers me one of her plastic milk bottles which, 20 years ago, were found in my own personal kitchen.

I slurp and lick my lips.  She giggles again and slurps right after me.

We grin at each other.  A knowing grin.  A special grin shared by two people who once shared a body.

A grin that says "I love you and I love this moment" without having to speak a word.

She should be sleeping.  I should be resting.

But it's a Thursday night and I've been away from the house for over twelve hours.

A few more minutes won't hurt.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Housing Update

Now that the floors are finished, the walls are painted and the ceiling is back in place I can get started on the fun part of this experience.....the decorating.

This is the general vibe I'm going for - we've got the walls painted, the dark wood entertainment center and the cream colored couches.  Now I'm on the hunt for the accent pieces and the first place I'm hitting up is the antique shop.

For real.

I want stuff in my home that is unique and different.  Things that will catch the eye of my guest and make them ask "where did you find that?"  As much as I love and adore Target, their home goods section has left me disappointed and wanting more lately so I'm trying out new venues for home decor.

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

You know those old school, big and chunky, totally 1970s dark wood end and side tables that are probably still sitting in your grandmother's house?  I want one for my living room.  I'm hitting up Craigslist, garage sales and antique stores for one of those big and old, seemingly tacky side tables that I can strip down and then paint some fun color like dark turquoise or bright orange.

The biggest (and probably most difficult) piece I'm looking for to finish off my living room is going to be a vintage sideboard table similar to this one.  I would be painting it bright white which will pop against the turquoise walls.  Plop a funky lamp on top with a few pictures of our family and voila....done.  

When the workers finally left our house and the rooms were REALLY done (flooring, painting, baseboards, etc.) Craig looked at me expectantly....I suppose he thought that I would be jumping up and down with excitement.  

But I just surveyed the areas and muttered "they look good."

I think Craig was hoping for a bigger response from me.

It's not that I'm displeased with the outcome, it's just that I have a vision for these rooms.  I see the end product and my living room just isn't quite there yet.  I'll be excited when the last pillow is in place, the shelves are adequately filled and the new furniture has been refinished and moved in.

But I am excited about the challenge of redoing this living room on a budget.  It will keep me busy after volleyball season is over.

So that's where we're at with the redo - hitting up antique malls and garage sales searching for that diamond in the rough.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I have floors.

Real, honest to goodness FLOORS.

No more workers.  No more dust.  No more toys stacked up in my bedroom.

This weekend my house will return to normal.

And I will make a list of things to buy for my new living room.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Curiouser and curiouser

Even from a young age Natalie studied things. She would focus on objects, people, events.....just studying and examining, soaking up everything she could. You can see her wheels turning, synthesizing information and drawing conclusions. She wants to see, do and experience everything life has to offer.
She reminds me of my grandma in this aspect.
One evening while Grandma was visiting, my brothers and I sat on the couch, each of us with a cheek full of sunflower seeds and a spit cup in our hand.
Grandma was intrigued.
She watched us intently as we sucked off the salt, nimbly cracked open the shell, extracted the seed and then spit out the remains. She asked questions about what we were doing and being the dutiful grandchildren, we answered. After each reply she would sit back on the couch and mull over the new information, her eyes never leaving the three of us. Finally she requested a single seed. Mike, Stephen and I glanced warily at each other.

Grandma had dentures you see.

Being the eldest, Stephen handed over a seed and showed Grandma what to do. The chaos of a family gathering slowed as all attention turned to this exchange.

She sat. She cracked. She spit and she chewed.

We waited for the verdict.

Hmm. She contemplated.

"Well Grandma? Would you like another?" Stephen asked.

"Oh no." Grandma shook her head vehemently. "One was enough.  I just wanted a taste."

The infamous story of the sunflower seed.  That was just Grandma.  She wanted to soak up every experience and learn as much as she possibly could from the people and places around her.
I see this in Natalie.  It brings me such joy to see the connection from Grandma to my little girl. 
When I witness Natalie's curiosity it's a gentle and comforting reminder that Grandma was here alive and vibrant on this Earth. 
She's been gone almost eleven years..........after awhile the memories fade and the past can become dream-like.  I forget what her voice sounded like - the indistinguishable mixture of strong Italian accent combined with the slang of having lived in the states for most of her adult life.  I don't remember the color of her eyes but if I focus hard enough I can still feel the weathered softness of her hands.  The tickle of her fingernails delicately weaving through my hair.  The shuffle of her slippers down the hallway of her 50's style ranch house in College Station.  She was always an early riser. 
Seeing glimpses of her in my daughter affirms for myself where I came from - the strength, the faith, the compassion and the wisdom that Grandma so wonderfully carried with her still remains on this Earth in my mother, myself and my daughter.
So when Natalie's curiosity flares up, I sit and I watch.  I allow her the time and space to explore, discover and think.  I stay quiet until she asks or exclaims.  I find delight in her excitement and her wonderment.
Carefully watching her lunch bake.

Examining the wheel of a friends car.
Keeping an eye on Daddy as he mows the lawn.

Staring out the window at the rain during a basketball tournament.

Watching the fish swim by at the aquarium.
Saying hello to the early morning ducks.
My curiouser and curiouser little girl.