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Preparing for Christmas

Thursday, December 11, 2008
Well, this is at least the fourth post that I've started in the past month, only to give up because there's just too much for me to write about that I just can't decide what is most important. So... I'm just going to start randomly writing, hoping that I'll catch up on the past month or so with time.

The holidays are always my favorite time of year. They are also the most busy. Between traveling, shopping, concerts, baking, cooking, wrapping, well you already know the drill. It's A LOT! But, I'm enjoying it all. The Christmas music is always blaring in the car and at the office, and sometimes in our bedroom upstairs until Jake gets tired of it, shakes his finger at me, turns off the stereo, and says, "Don't." Too cute! He's also very interested in Santa. Not that he really understands the concept... he just likes the inflatable Santa outside and the Santa in the rocking chair inside. He's slightly intimidated by them, but really likes to point at them, saying, "Santa... ho,ho,ho."

Bailey, on the other hand, totally understands the concept of Santa and is eager to give us a variety of options for Santa to bring her on Christmas morning. She's a little curious about the fact that he is constantly watching. I think it has her a little scared, but is truly helping me in getting her to behave! :) I know... it's sad that I depend on that.

I'm feeling ADD today and I just have to say... I'm SO totally excited about Christmas!!! I can't wait to see the kids' faces on Christmas morning. Mom and I spent time early on the day after Thanksgiving to get some really awesome gifts for them and I just can't wait for them to see. I'll spill the beans after Christmas! :)

The one thing that I'm a little disappointed by is that the kiddos aren't that into Christmas movies. I LOVE Christmas movies... all the classics - Rudolph, Frosty, The Santa Clause... you name it and I love it. I'm sure that with time they will grow to love these classics just like me. I hope so. :)

Making money...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For several months now, Bailey asks me why Brad and I have to go to work. My answer is always the same. I tell her about how we work so that we can have nice things, do fun things (like vacations, shopping, eating out, and going to places like Chuck E. Cheese's or the lake), and have food to eat and a place to live. She has often had various opinions about our jobs. At one point, she told a little boy at the playground that her daddy didn't have a good job and didn't make a lot of money. She proceeded to tell him that I did have a good job and made a lot of money. My, oh my, how misconstrued her perception was! Of course, I did explain to her that daddy does have a good job and that he makes a lot more money than mommy. After a lengthy conversation, I understood that the reason she thought my job was better than Brad's was because I get to spend more time with her and Jake. We thought that was pretty intelligent for a three-year old to understand!

Well, today I got to see Bailey's impression of our jobs firsthand. We were pretending - I was the little girl and Bailey was my mom. She pretended that she was at work and came home to see me and Jake. She hugged us and kissed us as she came in the room. Then, she said, "I have to sit this heavy bag down... it's got all the money I made today at work." She proceeded to act like she was heaving a huge sack of money (Santa style) and pretended to sling it on to the ground. I was trying to hide my laughter when I asked what she did at work to make all that money. Her response, as she moved her hands like she was typing, "I moved my hands as fast as I could on the computer and I made more and more money!"

I guess that's almost accurate! :)

Growing up???

Sunday, November 16, 2008
I'm not sure what's going on with my little man, but I think he's decided that he's not a baby anymore. My little baby has now graduated from using his pacifier (at least for now!). No more pacifier... we lost the only one he loved and he has decided that it's just not worth it to get addicted to a different one. So... we're taking full advantage and using this to break him from it. And I should be so thrilled that he's done with it (no more searching the toy boxes, under the couches, in the drawers, under his bed, etc. for the little thing). However, instead of being really excited about it, I'm kind of sad. This means he's growing up and into the terrible twos (which I am now seeing some hints at). It also makes me curious. We forgot his beloved blankie at my mom's a few weeks ago. I'm curious to see if he rejects it because he hasn't seen it in so long. I really hope not. I love to see his little face light up when he sees the blanket on his bed! We shall see...

A few favorites

Thursday, November 13, 2008
Where is the video camera when I need it? The battery is almost always dead when I actually think to grab it... and grab it soon, I must. :) The kids are doing and saying some of the cutest things most recently.

Here are a couple of my favorites... and if I can catch it on video and figure out how to get it on my computer and here, I will most certainly do so.

Jake's form of dancing is now not only a little bounce with his knees bent, but a little hop. He's figured out how to pull both feet off the ground at the same time and land. The focus it takes for him to do this is probably what makes it so adorable... he stares down at his feet as if his eyes can tell them what to do. His facial expressions and eyes seem to work in telling everyone else what to do... why not try his feet?!

Bailey is learning to sing Christmas carols. And despite the fact that her voice is not the best in the world, she is actually quite good at remembering the words! For the past few days, we have been singing Jingle Bells and You Better Watch Out (just think Will Ferrell in Elf). Much to her father's chagrin, we have enjoyed belting out the Christmas songs that I LOVE so much and have even broken out the Christmas cd a couple of times (mostly when Brad's not around). :) Jake is actually trying to sing a little too, but he usually just yells "San" (for Santa, I'm quite sure) and does his little hoppy dance.

One of the other things that Jake has been doing that is cute (and somewhat annoying) is yelling at the tv. His older sister thinks that every time a commercial with any toy, and I do mean any toy, comes on tv that she has to yell and tell us that she wants it. So, imagine. I'm in the shower and Bailey comes busting in the bathroom screaming like the world has ended. My thoughts race to Jake and what he could have possibly jumped off of... as soon as I soak the floor by swinging the door open, I hear, "I want that... I want that... I want that..." and then she fumbles her way through the description of whichever toy it is she's seen. Now that Jake has seen this happen at least 50 times a day, he jumps up and down when a commercial (any commmercial) comes on tv and yells some gargled, what I would call "Jake language" while he points at the tv. Cute... absolutely... tiring... 9 times out of ten.

One more and I'm off to bed... my mom sent me a forward yesterday where they polled children about what love is. I'm sure you might have seen the forward... it's been around for a while and I've read it a few times before getting it yesterday. As I re-read it though, there were some really great responses. So, that got me and my mom thinking and wondering what Bailey would say. So, I asked Bailey, "What is love?" And she looked at me so sweet, smiled and said, "A kiss." She turned and just kept working on her computer game. I thought it was so simple and sweet... too bad that everything in this world isn't that easy. It would be a much better place for sure!

Where did fall go??

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
My kids love playing outside... especially my little man. He thinks that every morning we should get up, put shoes on, and exit the back door (all after eating breakfast, of course). However, that doesn't seem to be a possibility any more. In late October, we went outside to play on the swingset, all bundled up because it was already feeling a little wintry outside. I had planned to write a blog back then about how quickly it went from the mid-70s to the low 40s and upper 30s. Despite the cool temps, I still get a daily request (or a dozen) to go outside. Here are a few pictures of my babies bundled up on their swingset from that October day.

Everybody's Wigglin'!

Thanks to our good friend Rebecca, we were able to go to the Wiggles concert tonight! The kids had an absolute blast... they were both more excited than I expected them to be. Jake's little face lit up so much when they came out to Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car. :) He was smiling from ear to ear and clapping his hands. He kept pointing at them and then looking at me, as if to say, "Are they really here?!" Bailey was equally impressed. She thought it was fabulous, especially when they came out into the crowd. She was hoping they'd come over to us... even Jake tried to wave them down. I think Rebecca and I enjoyed it as much as the kids did! We took a ton of pictures, but only a few of mine were focused... some only had a portion of the kids' faces. It's hard to take pics close up, especially with one on our lap! :)

Here are a few of the pictures from the night... the other child in the photos is Rebecca's little boy and one of Jake's very best friends, Joseph.


I will never forget the Halloween that I celebrated the first year that I was with Brad. Colt was just a little boy, I guess he was only 8 years old (yes, time flies). Brad helped me and mom get Colt all dressed up as some scary monster thing and Brad painted his face. It was cute... his face and the fact that Brad painted it. And, Brad shared one of his memories from his childhood with us on that day... he told me about a time he could remember his dad painting his face for Halloween when he was a little boy. And, his eyes were shining as he remembered it. I guess that's when I knew that Halloween would have to be special for our family.

Well, we didn't paint the kids' faces (they are a little young for that) and we didn't do anything majorly different than most people. We carved pumpkins - Brad is a total pro at using the carving kits to make creative pumpkins. We trick-or-treated in our neighborhood, identified the candy that we would steal from the kids and eat once they were asleep, and enjoyed watching them learn about a holiday of bumming candy from your neighbors. But, it was special nonetheless. I am sure there will be many years of overly extravagant painted faces, scary scenes in the yard, and pranks that we wish our kids wouldn't play a part in. For now, we are satisfied with our two little ones being hopped up on sugar and crashing shortly after that! :)

The kids really enjoyed the act of trick-or-treating. Jake was a little hesitant at first. He wasn't really sure what we were doing... but he shortly figured out that he was getting candy by walking up to people's front doors and was not interested in being contained to a stroller while his sister got all the treats. So, he made his little way, all on his own, to many homes in our neighborhood, charming all the older women with his sweet little smile and grunty "Dank ew (thank you)." Bailey is still wondering when we can go again, because it really is fun to go and get tons of free candy from your neighbors. She often asks if we can go to their house again for more candy. :)

Here are a few of our favorite pics of our little butterfly and monkey.


Sorry it's been a while since my last blog... I have now been contacted by at least three concerned friends, checking in to make sure that I'm OK. I guess that's a sign that I definitely need to catch up on my blogs! I can't believe that it's been a few weeks! Needless to say, it's been busy and I guess that's why I haven't taken the time to write. Good thing about this is that I started this blog to record all the precious things about my kids - the funny things they do and say - so that I can remember it when I'm older. Sadly, if you all weren't pressuring me to continue writing, I probably wouldn't. So... make sure you remind me when it's been a while! :)

And I'm even more sorry that now that you have me on here, you might get more blogs than you ever wanted. :)

In need of a chill pill

Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I guess my husband and I just really are true opposites. Some would say that we compliment each other well... and I would agree with that, with the exception of the days when we're at each other's throats because of our differences. All in all, we're really happy together. We are best friends on most days (except when I'm with my mom or Cilla... they just understand me all too well because they are SO much like me). Brad and I have survived a lot of hills and valleys, probably more than anything because I have a very patient husband who is willing to deal with my obnoxious mouth, hotheadedness, and stubborness. Sometimes that very patience is what makes me want to kill him... but more often than not, it's what makes me love him so much.

As parents, I can see these same roles even more defined. I am usually always the "bad guy" with the kids... enforcing the rules, threatening to "bust a butt" or take a toy away, and always the one who loses my cool or gets stubborn about some ridiculous little rule that no one in their right mind would really care about. It's just after saying things 100 times a day and being ignored 99 of those times, I get frustrated and decide that I will MAKE them listen to me. Sometimes it works, but more often I look like a raving lunatic. I get the fun parts of my children's lives because I'm home with them more than Brad, but I also get the bad part of being the disciplinarian. Not an easy job. But it wouldn't be that bad if I could just have a little more patience like Brad. (Don't get the big head, honey... I'm still pretty stubborn and probably won't ever admit this again!)

All of these thoughts were going through my mind tonight as I rocked my little blonde baby boy to sleep. I had a perfect example of my lack of patience and my husband's over abundance of it right after bath time. Yes, after bath time, Bailey always wants her daddy to get her out of the tub. This hasn't really bothered me, mainly because it forces Brad to help me and I can just get my wild man Jake out of the tub and dressed. So, I've known why Bailey wants her daddy for a while, but really took the time to think about it tonight. You see, Brad takes the time to wrap her up in a towel like a baby, holds her in front of the mirror and says, "Is that my baby girl?" and then allows her to jump on her bed naked for as long as she wants. Every night I spoil the fun by coming in and making her get dressed. Why? I don't know. I think that's what has been on my mind tonight. Why must she get dressed on my time schedule? Who died and made me keeper of the clock? So, I was "enforcing" my rule tonight when Brad just looked at me and said, "I told her I'd get her dressed when she was ready." Well, knowing Bailey that wouldn't happen until midnight... but he was right and I was wrong. He gave her permission and I tried to take it away. I was doing what I hate for him to do to me... I was going over his head. So... I quickly shut up. Yes, she is finally dressed and all is fine in the world. Maybe it's time for me to take the advice that my brothers and I always gave my dad when we were kids... Take a chill pill. :)

But I love him...

Monday, October 13, 2008
It is official... Bailey has now transformed to a pre-teen at the tender age of 3. My concerns about boys, dating, and all that goes with are being realized way too early. You see, I was told a few weeks ago about Bailey's new boyfriend, Austin. I thought I would crack up when they told me about how they hold hands during circle time, kiss on the playground, and can be found hugging intermittenly throughout the day. Completely innocent, affectionate children...

We have been teasing her about not kissing him so much, hoping that she'll understand that she needs to tone it down without discouraging her from being innocently affectionate with her friends. We both thought we'd just die laughing when Brad told Bailey she couldn't kiss boys anymore and she replied, in tears, "But daddy... I love him." It was definitely the worst case of foreshadowing yet!

I got the opportunity to see Bailey with Austin today when Jake and I went with her on a school field trip to Bi-Water Farm. They were adorable... and Austin is by far the cutest kid in her class. I completely understand why they are such good friends. He's a very smart, cute little boy. He's very sweet and a lot like Bailey. They really were like little best friends, sitting together on the hay ride, looking for pumpkins holding hands, and checking out all of the animals together. It was really sweet to see... even if it was a little strange. :)

Planning our days... have car, will go...

You know the kids are growing up when they have moved beyond playing in the floor for an entire day to entertain themselves to making plans for each and every moment in the day. Or maybe they have just been around their mother, the planner, way too long. "Multi-task" and "maximize your time" tend to be underlying themes for my life, especially with our concert season in full swing. So, I guess I should not be surprised that Bailey's favorite phrase has gone from "What are we going to do today" to "What are we going to do next?" or "What are we going to do now?" or even "What are we going to do this morning (or afternoon, evening, night)?" You get the idea by now, I'm sure.

It's a constant struggle between daughter and mother to make plans for the day. I, having to do work for my job, try to find time during Jake's naps, early morning breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon snacks to check e-mails, make phone calls, and work on whichever project is the most needy at the moment. Bailey, seeing that these are opportunities to get some mommy time while Jake is busy, has other plans. She wants to read a book, walk outside, go fishing, go back to the pumpkin patch, swim at the pool, visit Mimi and/or Mamaw, go to the park, etc. The list grows everyday and she has more creative ideas about how we should spend our time.

Jake, too, has become more accustomed to being on the go. He immediately wants shoes on his feet when he wakes up. Most mornings, even before he is out of his pjs, he brings me his shoes and holds up a foot. He knows that he has to have shoes to go "ow-si (outside)" and he is terrified to miss a moment of it. On our most recent trip to Mimi and Poppa's, I was getting our stuff together and asked him if he wanted to go to Mimi and Poppa's house. I do this quite often with him, but he usually ignores me. Not this time... he yelled, "Mimi" followed by "Poppa." He then nodded his head (nearly bending over to show me that he was saying yes), took off running for the door and started trying to turn the knob.

Yes, I guess we will be doing more running around. I have created little monsters! :)

A Fun Fall Trip

Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My wonderful mother-in-law, Kathy, who is celebrating a birthday today, came down to visit us last week. Happy birthday, Kathy! She and I had a wonderful time with the kids. It was perfectly timed - before I had my tests on Thursday - a much-needed distraction. We took the kids out to Boyd Orchards and had a BLAST! It was so nice because there wasn't a large crowd and we were able to let the kids run and jump without any problems. The kids were good, for the most part, and we went to dinner at the Outback afterward. It was fabulous to have dinner out and not have Jake screaming the entire time. It was the first time since late spring that we've gone out and I've actually been able to eat all of my meal without taking him outside to calm down. Yay... maybe he's outgrowing it!

In any case, I had to share a few of my favorite pictures from that day... Thank you, Kathy, for such a great time...

Jake really enjoyed the slide... as you can see from the smile on his face.

Bailey just had to try the tractor out... Jake was not a taker.

Bailey (and Jake) really enjoyed feeding the goats. Bailey actually fed them... Jake really just held the food out and yelled when they got close to his hand. It was very cute!

Jake really loved the horse, or "dog dog" as he called it. That tends to be what he calls all of his animal friends, except the turtles. :)

This is my favorite picture of Bailey from the day. She looks so big... I can't believe how much she looks like a little girl instead of a baby. It's happened overnight.

Jake enjoyed the slide - thanks to Mamaw who climbed the hay bale wall...

He really enjoyed it... :)

I actually got a picture of them together... without tears.

A lame attempt at a joint photo, but a good chance for those of you who haven't been to Boyd Orchards to see what it looks like!

Just a major scare

Friday, October 3, 2008
It's been a crazy year for my family... from my mom's breast cancer to losing my grandmother, it truly has been a tough one. And I had the scare of my life last week, when I thought it was only going to get worse. Normally, I would spare you the details of my medical history, but I can't do that right now. Not because I'm unhealthy - thank God I've had only good news - but because I hope that maybe this experience will encourage all of you women to really pay attention to your body.

I found a spot on my breast about two weeks ago. After hesitating as long as possible, hoping with all hope that it would just disappear, I made an appointment with my doctor. I was optimistic going in... it was a small spot that I was truly convinced she would not even feel and would laugh me out of the building. As she asked me a few questions and did the exam, she confirmed that she could feel the spot and that she wanted me to go ahead and have some tests ran to make sure it wasn't cancer. My heart completely sank. Sitting on that table, tears forming, I realized that she was seriously talking about my body... that I could possibly have cancer. And while I knew that it would be in the early stages and that most likely it would not be life-threatening, I sat altered. I couldn't believe that she was actually saying I could have cancer. Me. Twenty-seven years old. Breast cancer. Me.

So, I choked back the tears, tried to listen to her words of encouragement, which truly meant nothing to me, and made my appointment for an ultrasound. Walking out to the parking lot, I stared at my cell phone, trying to decide who I should call first. My mom, Brad, and Cilla would all be waiting by the phone for me to call and tell them what they said. I called Brad first, thinking that after I said it out loud to him it would be easier to call my mom and Cilla. Before the end of the conversation, I was crying and had convinced myself that I had cancer. Brad tried to help, but I was hitting the realization of it all and poor guy couldn't figure out which way I was going with everything. Talking to my mom made all things better - she knew EXACTLY how I felt and she was able to make me laugh at myself, which is truly what I needed. She reassured me that I'd be fine, one way or the other. Cilla, as always, listened and told me she'd do whatever I needed, which was exactly what I needed to hear from her. She always knows how I feel and understands when I need words and when I need an ear. It's great having people who understand you!

My ultrasound was scheduled for Thursday and I was so lucky to have my husband go with me. Unfortunately, he had to sit out front the entire time, so I was a nervous wreck by myself, but that's OK. I went through the ultrasound and the much dreaded mammagram that I wasn't expecting to have. They took the tests to the doctor. I waited as patiently as possible for them to come and get me for the results. The nurse was really sweet. She told me she'd go and get my husband... she didn't look like she had good news. Brad came in the room and stood by my side. The doctor entered the room and introduced himself. He immediately made Brad sit down. I thought, "This is it... I have cancer and he's going to tell us now." Brad's face looked nervous, like he was thinking the same thing. He was opening and closing the clasp on his watch over and over. The doctor asked me a series of questions about my mom's cancer and then assured me that he did not detect any signs of cancer in my test results. The world was lifted off of my shoulders. I could actually breathe again. He recommended that I go to a high risk clinic in Lexington to have a consultation with an oncologist and to have an MRI. He recommended this in an effort to help me catch breast cancer early if I am going to have it. I have to have a mammagram each year and an MRI every two years.

So, what was a terrible experience will hopefully help me to catch any signs of cancer earlier. My appointment with the high risk clinic isn't until October 28, but I'm able to focus on things again... focus on living instead of not dying. Unless you've been there, you really don't understand what it's like to hear the "C" word in conversation about your body. It's terrifying, no matter what the result. I hope that none of you ever have to experience it. And I thank God every night that I didn't have to battle it... and pray that I won't have to later.

It all really makes you realize what is important in life... family, friends, fun... It's scary how fast things can change and how quickly you could lose it all. I have to admit that it makes me want to hold everyone a little closer and tighter.

Priscilla's Mini-Sessions!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Check out this chance to have a mini-session with Priscilla Baierlein Photography. She's pretty much booked up for the rest of the year, so take advantage of this opportunity to have your Christmas pictures taken!

Jingle Bell Mail

Friday, September 26, 2008
Well, I have to blog about our newest venture. Brad and I have been working for the past month or so on a new business idea. I know... it's always something. As most of you probably already know, Brad and I have owned our own little business since before Bailey was born. Most of the work we've done has been with Bailey Technologies (www.baileytechnologies.com) on our electronics dropshipping business.

We are now adding on to this business! We will now be accepting orders for personalized letters from Santa Claus! Through our business (www.jinglebellmail.com), we will sell personalized letters from Santa for $9.95. You will be able to select your Christmas letterhead, enter in specific information for your child/children and their Christmas wishes, and receive a letter postmarked at the North Pole. We are finalizing the order form on our website and will begin accepting orders on October 1st. I hope that you'll all order a letter for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or friends and make their Christmas a little more magical this year! And, I really hope you'll pass this information along to your friends and family so that they can share this experience with their children!

For more information, visit www.jinglebellmail.com!

Clingy boy = sleepless nights

Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"He's 17 months old?" she asked. "The peak of separation anxiety and clinging to mommy..."

How right this stranger was. She perused through our yard sale and moved on, not realizing that she had just clued me in to why my little man has been overly attached to me recently. With Bailey I read every website, blog, and parenting magazine I could get my hands on, not being overly obsessed about what it said, but definitely interested in learning why Bailey was going through whatever phase she seemed to be in at the time. Well, as we all know, I'm a little busier with two than one and really hadn't thought about the "technical" phase that Jake is going through.

Jake is definitely giving me a run for my money with the clinginess. I remember Bailey going through some of this, but nothing to this extreme. For the past couple of weeks it has been getting worse. While I get ready every morning, he stands at the shower door, trying to pull it open while I shower with one hand holding it closed. He proceeds to stand at my feet, pushing and pulling on me, alternately crying and squealing at me to hold him, while I dry my hair, brush my teeth, or put on my makeup. And so it goes all day. On days that I take them to daycare, he clings to me as soon as we get in the parking lot, frowning the entire way to his room, with a death grip on my shirt. Of course, the tears pour out as soon as we enter his classroom and continue until I am down the hall. It makes me feel terrible! And night time is the worst. I rock him to sleep, lay him down, and he's awake in a matter of minutes. I go back to him, try to help him fall asleep again. A repeat. Last night was as bad as it's been. I finally got him to sleep, only for him to wake up at about 11:30 and decide to stay up for about an hour. I finally put him in the bed with us. We all went to sleep. I woke up this morning with Jake on one side, Bailey on the other side, and Brad nearly falling off the bed. MISERABLE! I think maybe we are just going to give them the bed. I'd be happy to give it to the two of them and crawl into Bailey's bed each night for some peace and sleep. :)

I know one day I'll look back and laugh at this... I'll even miss my two crazy babies sleeping on top of me, or waking me up with big huge smiles and requests for cartoons. I'll try to remember that when I'm sleep-deprived and trying to find an extra inch in the bed at 6 a.m.!

Change in season... changes in life...

Sunday, September 21, 2008
I love each season equally, but as it nears October, I always get a little excited about the fall. Each season brings different elements that I love and that I find comfort in. Fall is one that I feel is celebratory. It's a time for family... the beginning of the holiday season, football games, and layers of clothes (namely a chance to wear jackets!). While this year will still bring beautiful fall-colored leaves and windy days, I know it will be slightly different. I have thought a lot about it for some reason today. Maybe because I have spent time working to prepare the house for the cool weather and because my husband has planted himself in front of the TV for football games. I'm not sure why it has been on my mind... but it has. It has probably been on my mind because October really kicks off the three-month period that I see my grandparents the most in. We spend October celebrating birthdays; November celebrating Thanksgiving; and, of course, December celebrating Christmas. It's really the only time that I KNOW I will spend with my grandparents each year. And this year, it will be different because I have one less grandparent.

Really, I think I have just thought more about Granny in particular today. She really seemed to love the holidays and the baking that went along with them. She could fix the best pies, candies, and cakes. I can hardly think of a food that I would like to eat that I don't think of her. She was the queen of comfort food. I know that with time things will be easier... and I know that it's all part of the process. I can remember dreading Christmas after papaw died... the same after Rick died. It's just that time of the year when you want to have everyone you love with you. And it will be different, I know. The fantasy that it will never change is just a fantasy, and I know that too. But, it's hard to think of a Christmas without my granny force-feeding us and yelling for me to cater more to Brad. :) She will most certainly be missed... as will the pumpkin pie, deviled eggs, and fried corn. Oh... and the coconut cream pies...

The shopping trips have already been missed for a while. I don't think I'll ever look at purses, shoes, or baby clothes without thinking about granny, especially at Elder-Beerman or Macy's. It's already hard to hear a Johnny Cash song or to see Andy Griffith without thinking of Matlock, Perry Mason, and Murder She Wrote. Even the Star and Enquirer magazines at the grocery store make me think of her. I just cannot imagine how my Papaw must feel. I can't imagine how my mom must feel. I was with my granny for small amounts of time, usually around the holidays, not everyday or even every month. It breaks my heart to know that they are hurting and I can't do anything to help.

Death never makes sense. We all want more time... more chances to say what we think or feel. Or just to share one more meal. But... we don't always get that. I think sometimes death makes us remember to cherish everything a little bit more. I think I take the time to cherish my babies a lot, but I also know that I get worked up about things that are out of my control, and sometimes not worth my energy. I am working on that... I'm trying to take the only piece of advice that I can ever remember my granny giving me (besides the time that she tried to give me instructions on cooking fudge and forgot to tell me a KEY step, resulting in me melting a plastic spoon and throwing chocolate/peanut butter mix all over my kitchen). The one conversation that she and I had that made the most impact was when she told me that she regretted spending so much time on cleaning and working and not enough on enjoying her life. She told me not to work so hard and to take time to enjoy life a little more... not to follow in her path. It's genetic for me to want to go full speed all the time. I see it in my mom, I see it in Bailey. It's just part of us. And I am SO proud that I have that energy. But she's right. We do need to take more time to enjoy things and stop rushing our way through them. It passes way too quickly.

It wasn't brilliant advice, I know. Nothing that I haven't heard before. But that one conversation has meant more to me now than just about any other. She was not an emotional woman... yet, she opened up that day. It was one of the only times I can ever remember seeing her open... truly and emotionally open. And I'm glad I didn't forget it... I cherished it.

On top of the world...

My little man is living up to the nickname we gave him shortly after his birth. For some reason, I guess we just started calling him our little monkey man. No reason behind it... just kind of developed. Well... we should have been more cautious with that name! Jake can now climb to the top of the ladder on the swing set. Not only does he climb it, he can do it in record time. It is as if he's in a race to see who can get to the top and back down the fastest. I've rarely seen Bailey get up the ladder this quickly. He can almost step off of the ladder and onto the slide in one fell swoop, throwing his head backward and feet in the air to gain speed down the slide. It's adorable... but more importantly... SCARY! He's still so young to be climbing like he does. I keep waiting to turn my head and see him lying on his back, having fallen from the top of the ladder. He has no fear (which is not entirely bad). He is actually quite proud of his accomplishments. Brad had not seen him make it all the way to the top until this weekend. Knowing this, Jake climbed to the top quickly, and stood at the top of the slide, yelling for Brad (Dada...) and then letting out a warrior-like yell, as if to say, "I AM THE MAN!" We were totally cracking up, and Brad, like me, was freaking out that he is going to break his neck.

I am sure it will not be long now... we will be writing soon about our first hospital visit with stitches or worse. My sweet, innocent little baby is going to be the one that turns the rest of my hair gray.

Do you hear me?

"What are we going to do today?" she asks almost every morning, within a few seconds of opening her eyes, rubbing the sleep out, and pushing her hair from her face.

My three-year old has to be the only child her age that I know who can go on 8-10 hours of sleep a day, seemingly unaffected. She is truly my child... constantly wanting to know "the plan" and needing to run around at every opportunity. I guess we have a shared philosophy that can only be genetic... Life is just too short to let a spare moment get away.

So, when Bailey looked at me yesterday and asked what we were going to do, I told her we'd have a yard sale. Yes, the neighborhood was having their annual fall yard sale day, and I stayed up until about 2:30 a.m. working through years of baby clothes. I was definitely worried that she'd freak when she saw that most of the things we'd be selling were her old clothes. I was met with a pleasant surprise though. She didn't care at all... she actually wanted to help me sell to the people walking by. She repeated to one lady that we really didn't have boys clothes out because I didn't get it all ready until "last night." I know she hears everything I say. It's so much funnier to hear her versions of things though. :)

It was yesterday afternoon, after we had packed the yard sale up, made a Wal-mart run, and grilled out our dinner, that Bailey, Jake, and I were sitting in the backyard. Bailey and I were talking about how beautiful it was outside. She turned to me and said, "It would be a great day to go fishing."

I suppose that she takes in more than I realize from our conversations... indeed it would have been a great day to go fishing. The weather was beautiful, just cool enough. I have told her a half dozen times that when the weather gets a little bit cooler, we'll go fishing again. If only she'd listen when I say things like, "I wish someone would help me clean up these toys," or my new favorite, "You have to eat SOMETHING good... not gummy bears or pretzels." :)

Hateful baby...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I met Kathy to pick up Bailey in Morehead yesterday at about 3:30. I was looking forward to seeing my little monkey. Even though I enjoyed the break and a little bit of a quieter house, I was ready to have her back at home. I was missing my little talker. I was greeted with a hug and a kiss, a huge smile and sweet little voice yelling, "Momma!" It was nice while it lasted...

About three minutes down the road, my little sleep-deprived child began the whining. Five minutes after that, we were stopping to go to the restroom. Ten minutes later, I was hearing about how she was starving, despite the Happy Meal she was still snacking on. And on it went. We finally got home and she played with her new Barbie toy. We got ready for gymnastics and made our way across town. I knew she was going to be a bear after gymnastics, but this time was even worse than usual. Bailey cried from about 7:30 until about 9. She cried when I offered her spaghetti - she wanted something else. I fixed her everything she asked for, only to be told seconds later that she did not like that food. And, bath time was the kicker. She decided she didn't want her sweaty head washed. After listening to her screams, through tears, I sustained a cup of water being thrown at me, as well as a few toys and a wet washcloth. I washed her hair... oh yes, I would win or die. :) Jerking her little tail from the tub, soaking wet with no towel, through kicks and punches, I carried her (as nicely as I could) to her room, sat her on the bed and closed the door. Part of that was because I knew I was losing my cool (extremely) and she needed a serious break.

After a few more fits, her attempting to force herself to throw up so that I would fell sorry for her (no, she is not dramatic - what are you talking about?!), and a baggie of Apple Jacks, Bailey finally calmed down. She was asleep as soon as she crawled into bed.

Catching the big whopper

Saturday, September 13, 2008
I woke up this morning, feeling so relieved that our Opening Night concert and the reception following was finally over. I guess I didn't realize how much it had been on my mind... I woke up feeling like the world had been taken off of my shoulders. It was wonderful. And I guess that might be why I immediately started thinking about what I wanted to do with the kids today... something fun, no cleaning or housework, and something outdoors. Unfortunately for me, Brad had received a ticket to the UK football game, so it was just the three of us.

Sitting on the back deck (at 9 a.m. with both kids already playing on the swingset), it occurred to me. I wanted to be fishing. Now, just for reference, I have not fished in at least 10 years... mortal sin for a woman that fished at least 10-12 times each summer throughout my teenage years. I truly love to fish, but for some reason, never seem to think to go. So, I called (and woke up) my mom to let her know that we would be coming to Ashland today and would love to take the kids fishing.

It all came rushing back to me when I was standing on the bank, fishing pole in hand. There's something relaxing, almost therapeutic, about fishing. And to make this time even better, I was fishing with the best "three-year old fisherman in the world" by my side. I looked in the mirror for most of the day today as I watched Bailey patiently waiting to catch a fish. She was absolutely adorable with her little Barbie fishing pole, in her Old Navy dress, and her brown Mary Janes. Total girl enjoying being a tomboy like her mom. The look on her face when she (and Mimi) pulled in the first fish of the day (yes - with her fishing pole!) was priceless. She was so excited, a little confused, but so excited.

Jake, on the other hand, surprised me as much as Bailey's patience did. He was totally scared to death by the fish. My mom is probably to blame for that, since she almost hit him with the fish when she was pulling Bailey's first one to the bank. After that, every time we asked him if he wanted to see the fish, he'd scream a little whiney scream and shake his head no. He was not nearly as impressed with the fish as I expected. He was, however, very impressed with the ducks and enjoyed drinking Diet Pepsi in his very own bottle for most of the day.

Bailey was proud of her success as a great fisherman. She surprised us all when she claimed that she was going to catch the big "whopper." None of us know where she learned that word, but she was intent that she was going to get it. She would have fished for about 10 hours, if we would have stayed. When we left, she laid on the bank and cried because she had more fish to catch. Fortunately, she was distracted when mom suggested that she practice catching minnows in our little bait cooler and throwing them in the lake.

Overall, today was one of the best days I have had in a long time. I think the kids enjoyed a good day too. As a matter of fact, I couldn't get Bailey to come home with me. She stayed at Mimi and Poppa's tonight. She reassured me that I could come get her later. :) But not before making big plans to go to her Mamaw Kathy's house for a night too.

It's obvious that she's growing up. While it makes me a little sad that she's not a baby anymore, I can't even express how much fun I'm having with her as she gets bigger!

A Day at the Park

Monday, September 8, 2008
The kids and I really enjoyed an afternoon at the park on Sunday. It was a beautiful day. We are so happy that the weather is cooling down a little. It makes walks and days at the park much more comfortable... especially when I have to run after Jake the entire time.

At the park, Bailey is completely overly cautious about trying anything in which she would risk falling. She will not try the monkey bars or the fireman's pole. Instead, she encourages her brother to do it. I can hold him up to the monkey bars and he'll grab on with a huge smile on his face. I can let him go (almost entirely) and he'll dangle from the bar. He wants to swing to the next bar, but just can't get the strength to do it. It won't be long... the kid can climb onto anything, so I'm sure he'll be the one that I have to stand under the bars and try to catch as he crawls across the top.

Here are a few snapshots from our visit to the park. I love the ones with Jake in a hat. He looks so cute. He still resembles a baby in these, which is rare these days... almost as rare as catching Bailey when she isn't moving.

Gymnastics and competition

I don't think I've included anything about gymnastics since we started back this fall. For those who don't know, Bailey had enrolled in gymnastics in the winter and spring. I pulled her out for summer, since I know how busy we usually are swimming, boating, and traveling. When I called to enroll her for the fall session, I discovered that I could enroll Jake in the Parent & Tot class at the same time as Bailey's class. So... we began gymnastics on Monday nights at 6:30.

All I can say is it is very interesting to watch my little man among two- and three-year old children, attempting balance beams, trampolines, and cartwheels. He has a blast... it is indeed lots of fun to try and run away from mommy and have her rushing to keep him from getting kicked, hit, or trampled by an older child. He actually doesn't do bad, considering the age difference. He's still a little too immature to understand taking turns. He doesn't really "get" the concept of watching the teacher show us what we're supposed to do (he does, however, clap for her after each sequence). But, he knows exactly what to do when you throw him in the foam pit... he tries to swim his way around the foam blocks, laughing hysterically when he gets sucked in.

Bailey is also enjoying her gymnastics class, although I am not sure how much she is learning. I don't get to watch her as much, since I'm dealing with Jake the entire time. Every time I look at her, she's pulling at her underwear, biting her nails, or pulling on the teacher's arm, trying to get her to show her what to do next. She's so independent in most scenarios, but I think we have her so concerned about listening to the teacher that she won't really take the initiative to try any of it on her own. She has a good time though. She rang the bell after her bar exercises tonight (I think all of the kids in her class did), which is supposed to mean that she did something good. However, I did (on more than one occasion) hear her teacher trying to encourage her to actually do the exercises. She also only got one sticker and one of her classmates got three, so that was a big deal to her. lol... Competition is completely bred into this child.

Speaking of Bailey's competitiveness... we bought the board game, Candyland, this weekend. Brad and I sat down with her last night to play. She was so excited. Of course, that's when she was convinced she would win. When Brad won the game, despite his best attempts to draw bad cards, she was hysterical. She cried and screamed, totally shocked that someone other than her could win. She clutched the "winning card" to her chest and yelled to Brad that it was supposed to be her card! While we were somewhat frustrated with her response to a game that was supposed to be fun, I couldn't help but understand how she felt (through our laughter - totally hidden from Bailey). I was having (yet again) flashbacks of a time when my mom and I sat and played a board game (something to do with a talk show host). When I was unable to win the game, I cried, quit playing, and stormed off to my room. It was a terrible feeling to realize that I was not the best at everything! :)

Family Reunion

Wednesday, September 3, 2008
About a month ago, we traveled to Warsaw, Indiana for Brad's mom's family reunion. It was a beautiful weekend... breezy and much cooler than most August weekends feel. We don't get to spend a lot of time with this side of the family, unless there's been a death in the family, so it was really great to spend time with them relaxing and enjoying our time together. Honestly, the only way it could have been better is if Ryan, Jennifer, and Rianna could have been there with us.

As you'll see from the photos below, the kids had a BLAST! Bailey quickly attached herself to her cousins, especially Noah (who is 4). The two of them hit it off almost immediately, enjoying feeding the ducks, swinging at the park, and blowing bubbles. Jake really enjoyed having the freedom to run and chase Bailey's pink bouncy ball (yes, poor James got stuck on the receiving end of the ball most of the time - THANK YOU TO JAMES FOR THE HELP!).

After the reunion, we spent some time at Brad's aunt Dawn's house. Dawn and her husband, Jesse, have horses. I was excited to see Bailey's reaction to them. She saw them earlier this summer at Dawn's house, but was very reluctant. I had hoped that she'd warm up to the idea of petting them. I have always been somewhat afraid of horses (and basically most animals), so I guess I've been hopeful that Bailey and Jake will take after Brad, who lacks fear of most any animal. Anyway, Bailey was so excited to see the horses. Jesse was feeding them some apples and tried to help her hold the apples out for the horses to take. Bailey, being her nervous little Andrea-like self, kept jerking her hand away right as the horse would get close. After about 10 attempts and a few fits of laughter from all of us, Jesse managed to hold her hand still and lift the apple into the horse's mouth, giving Bailey the idea that she had been successful. :) I guess there are some things that are just genetic... oh well... I guess it could be worse!

Here are a few pictures from the weekend!

Mean, but sweet

Friday, August 29, 2008
It's been a couple of weeks since I've blogged - my apologies since I know you know the next few will be long to get caught up! :)

My grandmother passed away about two weeks ago and it's been hard getting back into the routine of blogging. She was a wonderful grandmother and will be missed... is already missed by many.

The kids didn't really seem to understand what was going on, and I was so lucky to have my mother-in-law take care of them while we attended the visitation and funeral. Poor woman... she was stuck with the little hellions about 5 times in about a two week timeframe. I think she has had her fill for a while! :)

You probably think I'm terrible for saying I could see how she'd have her fill, but you have to understand what we're now dealing with.

Bailey is becoming more bossy (no, we didn't think that was possible). She is beginning to understand the concept of time (tomorrow, yesterday, now). Now is probably the most important of these. Every time we have a request from Bailey, the word "NOW" is added to the end. If you don't acknowledge her needs or wants immediately, she repeats herself louder and louder until you either give in or have a breakdown. :)

Jake is also becoming more difficult in his demands. He is learning a few words at a time. His favorite new word is "ow si" (translation: outside). He stands at our backdoor, banging on the window, crying "ow si." Of course, it rained for one of the first times this summer this week, so he was very upset by our negative response to his request. When Jake doesn't get his way, he now resorts to throwing toys, laying in the floor and hitting things, crying, and hitting whatever is in his path (toys, doors, walls, Bailey). Perhaps the worst part about Jake is his ability to climb on top of everything. I've never been around a little one that can climb onto the table with his speed. What's bad is that he doesn't realize he can fall, or just doesn't care that he can. So, I can't turn my head for a second. Brad actually has decided to turn the chairs upside down, which works until he figures out how to move a toy to the table to use as a stool.

So, things are difficult when you have these two for a long period of time. :) But, they are also both very sweet and affectionate. Bailey can melt your heart when she (out of the blue) tells you how she loves you. Jake will surprise you with a huge (and very tight) hug around the neck and open-mouth kiss. Even at their meanest, I can't help but think they are also the sweetest little ones in the world.

Some beach pictures

Monday, August 11, 2008
Well, I've promised them long enough and keep putting off deciding which pictures to upload... SO... here are a couple beach pictures from our vacation (over a month ago)!

You can also check out my myspace page at www.myspace.com/andreaooten and click on pics to see the rest of them! Let me know if you have trouble getting to them and I'll see if I can save them someplace else!