Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Favorite Photo of May

This is probably one of my favorite shots of the two of them to date.   It was taken on Sunday, along with these, on the day that Loving Husband returned from another trip away from us.   We missed him greatly and the kids had a wonderful time playing in the backyard upon his coming home.   It's been a great month - I can't believe it's nearly June!

Click It Up A Notch

Welcome Home

Another mission complete.

Another homecoming so sweet.

Giggles and laughter.

Our hero come home.

To enjoy a Memorial weekend.

Sword fighting and laughing.

In our very own jungly backyard.
Welcome home, my love!


and then, she {snapped}

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How could I?

Loving Husband is in the military.  He loves his job.   He loves the opportunities he's been afforded.  We as a family are proud of him and all he does for us and for our country!  When he joined I was often asked by some "How could I?"  -  How could I let him?  How could I handle this?  How could I be ok with this?  The quizzical lack of understanding was abundant for those on the 'outside' looking in.

First, I find the questions just plain silly - I suppose because that is not the relationship Loving Husband and I have.   There are very few things (if any) that I stamp my foot, pout, and scream "NO!" at and a desire to start serving his country just is not going to be one of them.  

I grew up with a family in the Armed Forces.  My grandfather, my dad, and my brother all have proudly served/are serving their country.   If anything it was odd to me upon meeting Loving Husband that this was not a part of his life.  Not that I was seeking life as a military wife - my father was out of service by the time we were around so I was not used to a "military life" per se.   However, military life in general was not and is not foreign, scary, or troublesome to me. 

Is it a sacrifice and a disruption of our daily lives for LH to have to deploy with less than a week's notice for weeks or months at a time - certainly.   Are we sacrificing time with him by him going away and doing this job - absolutely.   Is it opportunities lost - perhaps but others are gained in their place.    So when I'm approached with questions like "are you ok with this?"   "how could you let him...?"  and "WHY?!"  I simply smile and think: How could I not? Freedom isn't free.

So as this weekend unfolds remember that this weekend isn't just an extra day off work,  it's not 'National BBQ Weekend' - it's not just another weekend.   Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.   Honor the fallen, the retired vets, and pray for those who remain steadfast in fighting for our freedom, here at home and abroad.

My mother receiving my father's flag.

The Baby Shower

We couldn't be more excited that our friends are having a baby!  Loving Husband is pretty stoked that his good friend is finally joining the ranks of parenthood - I'm certain his elation is totally positive - and nothing to do with commiserating even in the slightest.  ;-)    As mentioned in my decor and design post, Angie and I,  had a lot fun planning, prepping, and hosting a lovely shower and I enjoyed photographing it as well!

Due to an unexpected military deployment my built in childcare (the husband) was not available.   Since Mae had been sick all week she just wasn't up for grandparent watching (which is where Ace was off to for the day!), away from mommy all day, and so she joined in on the girlie fun - and what a great girl she was!  I could not have been more proud by her self-entertaining, minimal clingy-ness, and general cuteness!

Mae trying some grapefruit Italian soda.  She made a face, but she went back for more!

The lovely mommy-to-be joined us after sneaking away upstairs to relax a little bit while Angie and I set up, after all the party was at her house.  :)   It worked out nicely.    People began to arrive and we enjoyed some food and chit chat and then got the party started with some balloon popping, followed by presents!  Who doesn't like to start with presents? :)

After presents it was on to our activity of headband and hair bow making that was done at a leisurely pace while some enjoyed more snacks, picture taking, etc..

Eventually the boys returned from their 'man-date' and I grabbed a shot of the parents-to-be. 

It was an excellent party, the new baby has a LOT of new books (from us and others!) and I cannot wait to meet their baby girl sometime next month!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ready to Pop - Baby Shower Decor

I love planning parties! I love themes, color schemes, and photographing it all! My friend Angie and myself were in charge of a baby shower last weekend and we went with the theme 'Ready to Pop'  our inspiration began with this pin and thus our color scheme of hot pinks, orange and yellow was established and after some talking through the theme we were set and the execution was a lot of fun!  

I went to the local craft store bought about $10 worth of cardstock and got to work with their die cut machine and began to prepare our decor for the party.  A few trips to Michaels (for the balloon tub, the plates, vase, and hot pink/orange tins - all 40% off, plus $15 off that with coupon!) and Target (for the table cloth, tray, frappacinno glasses, mini-waters, and both popcorn is actually a planter), a final online trip to Amazon (for the straws, dart balloons, and cake pop covers) and a party theme is born!

The food and drinks were inspired by all things that 'pop' - Italian soda pop, popcorn chicken, pop rocks on the cupcakes, Pringles (Pop the top!), Tootsie pops, jalapeno poppers, and a delicious tasty mix of popcorn that Angie found and prepared!

You just can't have a 'Ready to Pop' party without balloons and the way we incorporated them was to fill a bucket full of balloons (I used dart balloons they pop really well!) that had wacky quotes from the book 'What to Expect in the First Year' - then at the bottom of the bucket was a copy of the book for the mommy to be.   We used this as a kick start activity to her opening presents. :)

Activities included bow and headband making the the area for said activity was equally as inspirational in thematic color as the rest of the space.  The $4.99 Target table cloth really made the space (and saved her gorgeous dining room table!)

Don't forget your Cake*POP*! As a thank you for coming!

We had a lot of fun plotting and planning - and I always love when a plan comes together so well!  If you're interested in the labels (2"x7.5") for the water  - feel free to message me and I will email you the PDF.  Stay tuned for a post about the event itself.  :)

Angie and I with our party girls*! 

* No my daughter's dress was not planned to match the theme.
I bought that for $3 on consignment a year ago and when
I went to get her dressed that morning I found it!
It was serendipitous!  My bracelets however were deliberate! :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Progress Check

I meant to post this around the 15th or so... but Mae had a doozy of a week last week and so I was a bit preoccupied - so with a little over a week left in the Fast Food B-Gone Challenge where do we/I stand?
First a reminder of what the challenge was... Let me also state that this was exclusively a challenge for myself - Loving Husband was not restricted by these 'rules' in his day to day eating habits.

Week One:
It worked out nicely that the month of May started on a Tuesday, gave me a nice 'ease in' to the challenge (since after all I did in fact have some McDs that Monday.)   I was very happy that I did not 'use' my Starbucks or Panera Bread options in these 5 days and we went to dinner once and the kids and I had Jamba Juice once.   Ironically, the husband had McDonald's that Friday with his coworkers.   He never eats there unless it's my choice typically. 

Week Two:
This week has already become foggy to me, but I think if I recall correctly I used all my options with the exception of one dining out meal.   We used my Panera Bread option to enjoy lunch with the grandparents on a sunny Saturday afternoon out on our deck. 

Week Three:
This is the week that I feel I should get a gold medal - or certainly my lens at the end of all of this.  I was in and out of doctor's appointments all week with Mae - several hours at a time and either needed to eat quickly before or certainly afterwards - McDonald's would have been so convenient!  In fact after our trip to the ER at 1am upon leaving at 5am we did drive thru Mcds for LH and Ace.  Yes the two of them consumed greasy delicious smelling breakfast sandwiches and I had nothing.

I'd also like to pat myself on the back (yes it's a tad absurd, I recognize this!) that I 'used up' all my options all but Panera Bread by Wednesday.   On Mother's Day we went out to lunch and dinner (Loving Husband claimed that the dinner could be a 'bonus' meal and I could still have 2 more dining out options if I so chose, but I declined the charity.) ;-) Starbucks was a necessity after another 3+ hour visit to the doctor on Tuesday and then we enjoyed take out on Wednesday night.    I held onto Panera Bread the rest of the week and eventually used it for dinner on Saturday night after a long day away from the house. 

This coconut mocha frap was sooo needed!

Week Four:
That's now!  It's Tuesday now and I've thus far used none of my options - although the boy is itching for some pumpkin bread so that might be on our agenda today! 

There are ten days remaining on this challenge.   Is it hard? At times.  Is it impossible?  No.   Could I remove eating out entirely?  At this point, no.  Our lives get chaotic with unexpected deployments, illnesses, and changes that the concept of totally eradicating 'dining out' just isn't feasibly for my sanity.   It's physically possible - if it was do or die I certainly COULD do it - but I appreciate the option from time to time. What this challenge has shown me is that fast food doesn't have to be my default option - that the amount of time it takes to make a sandwich is about the same as it takes to drive to and thru somewhere, that taking the extra 10 minutes upon getting home to make said sandwich doesn't alter life so dramatically prior to nap time or bedtime.  

Healthy wise, I really feel no different.   I didn't feel bad before beginning this challenge and I don't feel an better than before - is that noteworthy?  I don't know.  

So that is where I stand on the month long challenge.  I think next month I'll set a more photographic based challenge with my new lens ;)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sixteen Months Old

Mae is sixteen months old and counting.   She's having a lot of fun running around and being more interactive and playful with her brother.  Now that she's getting older (not much bigger!) she is able to really play with him.  Either on the couches - running back and forth - or in their rooms with various toys.  She loves to ride on mom or dad's back all around and gives the best 'neck' hugs right now (she can grip pretty tight if she wants!)

Newities of sixteen months: eating more! A walk with her dada.  More words!

Mae is getting quite expressive and doing well to communicate her feelings.   She has added a few more words in the last month: 'bye' (which she uses for good bye and saying good night to her brother)  she typically also waves when doing this - which is adorable.  'Hi' also is one that has come into play as well.  'dag' or 'doh' (dog) which she will identify when she hears them barking in the neighborhood -which is really impressive to me, since we never directly associated that for her.  'bid' or 'bah' (bird) and she will point to the sky.  However, to be fair 'bah' is her go to word for pretty much anything she doesn't have an official word for.  :)  She's said 'light' once or twice but not clearly and not with much regularity.   She's getting better at sitting still to read books and love to pick out books to read at bedtime and sometimes she actually will sit still to listen.  :)

Once Mae started feeling better after a few colds she really started to show an interest in eating more food - hooray.  :) She still mostly prefers mama milk though and would happily make that her sole dietary choice if given said options.  Sorry, Owlie!   Sleep wise continues to be standard and eh in the reporting greatness department.  She's getting rest and occassionally - so do we. 

It's been a great month and after finally getting around to get this posted we're nearly half way to the next one!  Time flies with an active little girl.  We love her and love to watch her smile and giggle. :)

My First Mother's Day Program

The Tuesday before Mother's Day was Ace's Mother's Day Program at his preschool.   He was so excited, he told us he had been practicing his songs forEVER and that they had lots of movements that made his eyes hurt to watch the teachers do.    Loving Husband and Mae joined me in attendance (LH was the only dad, but I was glad he was there to help with Mae and video tape every now and again!!) 

We arrived and sat down at the tables and then the kids arrived to put on their chef hats and serve us cookies and enjoy them with us.

After we enjoyed our cookies - it was time to dance.  The kids had learned a dance that they then taught to all the moms and then after we practiced we did the dance together.   It was a lot of fun.  Hopping, dancing, clapping... lots of multiple action commands for their little preschool selves to keep track of.  :)

After our dance it was time for their program to begin and let me say that it was not just a small affair.  No the kids had over ten songs that they sang.  Most of them had actions, sign language, or instruments that they used during the various songs.    Ace covered his ears a few times, had a lot of wiggles, some ignoring of instructions, and some spot on participation!  It was plain adorable!!  Although the loudest I cracked up was during "Hickory Dickory Dock.. the mouse ran up the clock... the clock struck three.. the mouse said WEEE (Ace grabbed his butt with a face of great amusement!) Hickory Dickory Dock!"

Waiting to begin...

Ace and his friend had a lot of fun standing next to each other. 
When the program was over it was time to be presented with artwork that Ace had made for me.  He again was very proud to give me his drawings and hand/feet prints and I was very happy to have them.  It was a special performance and quite impressive amount of time for 3-4 year olds to sing that many songs!  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mother's Day

It was a wonderful day with my family.  I received flowers and a card, enjoyed a slow start to the morning, and serving in the nursery at church with Loving Husband.  We then went out for lunch and then home for naps for the kids, during which LH and I watched some Downton Abbey.  Then it was time to drop the kids off for some welcomed and greatly appreciated babysitting (yes on Mother's Day!) so that LH and I could go out to dinner.   It was our first time out since the end of January.  We shared a bottle of wine over a delightful italian meal.   It was was a wonderful day!   Every day is a blessing with these two children - sickness, health, hyper, mad... it doesn't matter they have given me so much joy and I can't wait for more years to come!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Under the Weather

Please excuse my absence...

Mae has been quite under the weather.

But she still finds time to smile!