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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I suppose you might think that I am missing in action.

I feel like I have been missing in action... electronically speaking. Or not really even electronically speaking... more like Internet speaking.

I have been disconnected. No Internet. Rarely even my cell phone. No Facebook (GASP!). No e-mail. And, as you all know, no blogging.

And, while I love my luxuries and being connected to the rest of you, I have to say that it has been quite nice.

Of course, now, I pay for it. Tons of pictures to upload, along with some video (possibly). A few posts to finish up on - you know the ones I "planned" to complete a week or so ago. ;) A few hundred e-mails to go through - mostly all junk, thankfully. And, some work from home for the job that I get paid to do. Reality is setting in. Christmas vacation is almost over.

But, not to worry. I'm not giving into the fantasy that I live in that says I will have my cake and eat it, too. Tomorrow is a day of fun at Perfect North Slopes, working on one of those list items... to teach the kids to ski. Brad's mom gave us money to go skiing on for Christmas and we had planned to go to Winterplace in West Virginia today, but plans changed when Bailey began throwing up last night. It seems she had a little stomach bug. After traveling to Lexington today and getting most of our stuff unpacked and put away, we decided that we could make the trip to Indiana (about an hour from here) to spend tomorrow on the slopes. Learning to snowboard will probably have to wait until another day. But we will attempt to teach our little ones tomorrow. Bailey has gone before. So, the true test will be with Jake. Hmmm.... 

I will report back as soon as I can. :)  

And, of course, will blog about our Christmas, as well. Just so you know... all went well. It was over too quickly, but it was one of the most relaxing Christmases we have had since having our children.

Wish us luck! :)

I feel December... for sure.

Thursday, December 23, 2010
I have been too busy to think about all of the little things that I need to be blogging about lately. And some of these things aren't that little. They are the "little moments" that make up the bigger and more important aspects of my life. I feel like I need to write 100 posts to catch up on everything important that I've missed. BUT... that's not going to happen. So... naturally, you are going to have a really long post to read. So, while you are traveling to your great-auntie's house 300 miles away, I've provided materials. :)

Here is my disclaimer. Despite the fact that I am married to an incredible software development manager, our laptop sucks. It periodically decides not to cooperate with me. That is what's happening these days. You know what they say, if you are married to an auto mechanic, you'll have a car that won't run. If you are married to a plumber, you'll have problems with your pipes. You get the idea. I am married to a computer guy... of course we have computer problems.

SO.... no pics. Despite my tears... except for maybe one or two that I took with my phone. :) And a few that my friends have shared with me... heck... I might put this together through pieces of this and that, after all. :)

Bailey lost her first tooth on Thanksgiving. It was the front bottom left tooth. She bit an apple to get it loose enough. It was dangling there when she showed me, but I got a little sick to my stomach and flushed in the face when I thought about pulling it. So, Brad had to come to the rescue. He pulled it easily and she was thrilled. We put it under her pillow. The tooth fairy left her $5. She was so adorable and so excited about it all. She had been dying to lose her first tooth. I had heard about it for weeks. And, then, all of a sudden, it was loose. Within just a few days, she had wiggled it enough to pull. Now, of course, she is pushing and pulling on the other ones, waiting to pull the next one. :)

Speaking of Brad coming to the rescue, he apparently gets the Dad of the Year award for packing Sour Patch Kids in Bailey's lunch on Tuesday. Because of Jake's wonderful eye-in-the-nose endeavor, Brad was stuck with the task of packing Bailey's lunch and getting her to school. When I stopped in Bailey's class, amidst the fundraiser wrap up that afternoon, she waved really big and proclaimed, as if it were a miracle, "Mom! Dad packed me Sour Patch Kids in my lunch!!!!" Super Dad For Sure.

Jake went to preschool for two weeks straight without crying at drop off. We have no idea what happened. He just decided one day that he was going to stop being so difficult. He reminds me now, too, that he loves his teachers. I'm so relieved.

However, when you win one battle with Jake, you are going to lose another one. Jake is being increasingly difficult at home. I don't know what to do with him some days. He just repeats demands at me. For instance, today, he decided that he wanted to have orange juice. I told him I would give him juice once he cleaned up his toys. He refused to clean and then chanted repeatedly for at least 20 minutes, "I want orange juice." Seriously, I thought I would strangle him. This is happening more and more. My stubbornness is going to win out. I'm not going to deal with him being such a brat. There's no reason for it.  :) Remind me of that when you see me giving in, please.

While I am complaining about Jake, I also need to recognize how much better he is doing at writing and drawing and basically just attempting to do these things. He's actually trying. Sometimes. Not always. More than before, which is really good. He and Brad actually colored his Gingerbread house a few days ago. I can't seem to get Jake to draw and color, but Brad can. Super Dad, again. :) I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled that he's taking the interest in trying it and that Dad is there to make it happen.

Bailey, on the other hand, is writing on everything. I found that she has held up her doll, Violet, to the wall and measured her. There is now a mark for Violet on the growth chart with the words (At birth, March 2009). LOL. Yes, I was aggravated at first. Then, I laughed so hard that there was no way I could say anything to her. That's incredibly adorable. And, no I have not scrubbed it off the wall. It's too cute to erase.

She also is enjoying writing on paper. And spelling is coming along. It's really not something that they are focusing on at school yet. They have site words that they need to recognize and spell, but they don't do other spelling words or anything yet. However, they write in their journals and other various things at school and they are working on sounding out and spelling words on their own. When I saw this:

I thought I would cry. It was so cute. It's a keeper, for sure. Here's the translation:

Dear Santa, 
I want a Blizzard Maker and a Kinect and Dolly clothes and a American Girl doll. 
Love Bailey. Please. 

:) I can't begin to tell you my favorite parts... because it's all perfect. :) Well, except that she's got champagne taste on a beer budget. But oh well.... she got that one honest.

Jake tells me Merry Christmas almost every day. He's just a little excited about what's coming this year. He thinks he's getting everything in the toy store. Sadly, I think he's getting everything in the toy store, too.

I have to re-do Jake's room and get him a big boy bed. If you have one  you want to give us, please let me know. In all seriousness, if you have a bed for sale, please let me know. Or if you have any superhero stuff you want to get rid of, we are apparently designing his room to be a combination of Batman, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Iron Man, Hulk, etc. etc. etc. I am going to have to be very creative here. I think I can handle it. I think. Any suggestions? Send them my way. :) I had already written this part prior to our kids' great playdate at Jackson and Carson's house. After Jake saw Jackson's room, he reminded me that he hates his room and that he IS NOT a baby. :)

Compliments of Dawn - here is a pic of our great little rotten children during their playdate: 

I have the most beautiful ballerina daughter in the world. Our experience with the Nutcracker this year was fabulous. I guess it really helped that I was a beaming mommy of the prettiest honey fairy ever. Of course I am not biased! How could you suggest that?! :) It was a lot of fun to see Bailey up there... to watch her getting nervous and excited all at the same time. I will never forget the feeling I had at the pit of my stomach when I heard the music start on her portion. I thought I might puke. I was so proud when she came out (even though she looked a little lost - hehe). But, she did it. I can't thank our wonderful friends and family enough for being there for her (and us). Jake spent the entire performance asleep in my parents' laps... he completed the evening by peeing all over himself and my mom. Poor little guy was completely embarrassed... I felt horrible for him (and my mom!). All in all, it was a great evening. 

I am super-extremely-sad that my laptop is holding photos from this performance. Photos that I can't get to in order to post. Damn computers.

Thank God for friends... and again, compliments of Dawn, here are a couple of our honey fairy. More will come, Lord willing. :) 

Cooking family dinner for Christmas was fun. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed having everyone at the house and eating a great dinner together. Notice I said great dinner. :) Yes, I used many recipes of the Pioneer Woman, and I pulled it off. Yum. I'm hungry just thinking about it. 

Cold weather. It has been here and more is coming. Christmas is so close. And, it occurred to me this morning that we had yet to complete one of our family traditions... Southern Lights at the Kentucky Horse Park... and (GASP) the kids had not seen Santa for their annual photo. 

We made it happen tonight, after a busy day. We had finished up some last minute details shopping. Bailey, Jake, and I shared lunch at Applebee's (where, I will have you know, kids eat free on Wednesdays!!!!). Brad had a work luncheon to go to, so we justified it easily. :) Anyway, we made a point to take the kids to Southern Lights tonight, despite the freezing temperatures. It was worth it. We thought we'd crack up when Jake asked where Peter Pan was. He remembered him from last year... he even described the lights and the crocodile and Captain Hook. It amazes me what they recall from year to year that you completely forget about. Bailey told us that Santa's beard was fake. She decided that he is one of Santa's helpers. This kid is way too smart. I don't know how we will keep it all going for years to come. Maybe we should go ahead and take her to Disney before she completely loses interest in all things fantasy. But, then again, I don't think taking another mortgage on our house is in the plans. lol. 

We have had a completely full and wonderful December. I've stressed over the smallest of things... and still am in some ways... and have spent some of the most fun and incredible times with family and friends. It's only beginning... the next few days will bring some of the most wonderful, magical times for our kids. I can't wait. Well, actually, I can. I need to do a few things, first. :) Who can wait to see this though? 

It's been so hectic that I've only run once since Thanksgiving. But that didn't stop me from pulling the trigger and registering for a half marathon in April. Do you know how insane I feel? Do you know how much I wanted to throw up when I hit the register button? I was talking to Bailey about it at lunch today, because, yes, we are at that point in life where I can actually talk to her about these things, and I said that I hadn't run in a long time and that I really needed to. She was so cute when she swallowed her food, held her hands up in the air, shook her head from side to side, and said, "Well, mom, then, you just need to go run. We can hang out with dad." :) God, I love my kids. 

As I re-read this post, my OCD, right-sided brain is suffering. I can't stand that this is so completely out of chronological order and that I'm writing things in such an unorganized manner. However, I am leaving it. It really does seem to have some sense of chaos, which is really what I've felt like lately. Everything has been sporadic... chaotic... December. That's what I'm going to start calling these times. December. It's now an adjective. When I feel stressed, I'm now saying, "I feel December." 


Merry Christmas. Hug your loved ones. Don't stress about the little things. Who cares if the shirt fits or is the wrong color. Remember that it's all about loving your family, spending time with them, and remembering why we are all so blessed. 

John 3:16. 

Plans? Ha! What Plans?

Thursday, December 16, 2010
In case you don't live in our part of the world... it has been cold. And snowy. And icy. 

This usually doesn't happen here until February or so. 

It's December.

And, while I will admit that I get a little bit of cabin fever after a couple of days in the house, I have to say that I love the snow. I love spending time indoors with good food and good company. I love feeling that security that all is safe in the world (at least my world) because my kids are warm in their pjs and have plenty to do and plenty to eat. I ignore the other thoughts that go through my mind... about people without homes or heat or food. I am sure that there are some adorably sweet children at Bailey's school that have little or nothing at home to enjoy. I have to banish those thoughts from my mind... not because I don't care, but because there isn't one thing I can do about it. And that upsets me as much as anything.

But, I digress. I would have liked for the weather to have waited a couple of days. Or a week, really. This is mainly because Bailey has now missed her winter party at school and a field trip to see the Nutcracker (the same one she is performing in on Saturday night). She was pretty bummed. And, it just right down messed with my plans. And, planning, people, is something that I do a lot of. I do a WHOLE lot of it, especially when I'm trying to pack a ton of stuff into just a couple of days or a week, or if I'm preparing for the holidays, or if I'm just being me and wanting to live my life to the fullest. 

This week, I think someone else decided to show me that planning is something I should focus less on. He was telling me, by showing me, that my plans aren't always that perfect and that He will show me to stop planning so much. Since I'm notorious for not listening and having to learn the hard way, I guess God wanted to give me a handful this week to remind me to slow it down and listen. 

We started out on Monday with a positive. It was a snow day and, while it put a little glitch in my plans to wrap up the school's fundraiser, I was still able to get a lot done around the house. Actually, I didn't get much done at all on Monday. So, let's just skip to Tuesday. 

Tuesday was a 2-hour delay at school. I got up and was getting the kids ready when all of a sudden, Jake comes screaming and crying into my bathroom. 

"I have a eye in my nose!" 

"What in the world are you talking about, Jake?" Through the tears and screaming, I come to understand from his garbled speech that a googly eye (think craft eyes that you put on something like a snowman) jumped into Jake's nose. It jumped there, because he clearly wouldn't stick it up his nose. Clearly. We have already gone down that road with the popcorn kernel in June or July of this year. Clearly he would never stick something in his nose. :)

After seeing that there is indeed something shoved way too far in his nose, I decide to call the Ear Nose and Throat doctor that so graciously squeezed us into his schedule this summer. The nurse tells me to get him there as quickly as possible. 

Out the door we go, after a quick call to Brad to have him come home to take care of Bailey and get her to school on time. It is like 3 degrees. I just have to add that for added impact. It is freezing. Below freezing. Really damn cold.

We arrive at the doctor's office. We sit. For hours. HOURS. Not that it was the doctor's fault. He was in surgery. I really didn't get upset, except for the fact that the nurse had urged us to hurry (all the time knowing the doctor was in surgery), so I failed to feed myself or my child any breakfast and we were starving. And there was no vending machine in the building. 

Finally, nearly 3 hours after we arrived (and I'm thinking we are going to have low blood sugar attacks because we are the two people in the family that truly needs breakfast early in the morning), they call us back. The doctor comes in (he is a very nice and comical doctor) and checks Jake out. He can't see the "eye that jumped into Jake's nose" at all. He checks Jake's ears while we wait for some local anesthetic so that the scoping/probing to come won't hurt. And, Jake has an ear infection. Score for me. Neglecting my child and allowing him to shove small object in nose - check. Ignoring nasal congestion and writing it off as a cold, when it is actually an ear infection - check. I'm feeling like supermom this week, let me tell you. 

Anyway, so the doctor shoves a long tube with a light on the end of it into Jake's nasal cavity and searches and searches and searches. Clearly, Jake has sneezed it out or swallowed it with drainage. Disgusting, but most likely the case. 

I don't go to work on Tuesday, because by the time I could drop Jake back to school and make it to work, I would have about 2 hours before I needed to get back to pick up Bailey. 

Instead, I spend the afternoon at the school, trying to wrap up this fundraiser. And, thankfully, I was able to do that. At least the day wasn't a complete waste. 

Tuesday night is Bailey's music showcase at school. She sang beautifully. I love seeing her in these performances. She works so hard to make them special... and to do exactly what she has been told. It's adorable. Jake, on the other hand, gives me a nervous breakdown because he refuses to listen and spends a big part of the time trying to pull me out of the gym. I finally cave (against all of my stubbornness) and take him into the hall once Bailey's class is done.

Wednesday was a more normal day. Thankfully. We went to school and work, as scheduled. We made a mad dash after work to get Bailey ready and down to the theater for dress rehearsal at 4:30 for the Nutcracker this weekend. This included getting her makeup all on (and we are talking full makeup here, people). It was a little strange seeing my little girl staring back at me with long black mascara-coated eyelashes. She did look beautiful though. And, I'm not biased at all. ;) 

The rehearsal lasted until about 7. We made it home before more snow arrived. That's when I heard a gunshot (or something very similar) and called 911. Yep. Country girl Andrea heard a gunshot and got scared for the first time in her life. I had to call my dad to see if he thought I should call 911. I guess it just kind of seemed weird to call because I've never thought much about it before. I've always lived in the country, where men hunt in the woods and gunshots aren't that uncommon. I honestly probably would not have even noticed the sound unless I was outside at my parents' house.Yet, being in a subdivision in Lexington, the sound really did stand out to me. I'm guessing I heard wrong or it was a misfire or something because no police came by after patrolling the area to ask me questions. Maybe I am losing it... maybe it was a car backfiring. I'm 99% sure that it was a gunshot, but I've considered myself insane before. I can count this one as a lapse in my sanity, too, I guess. I have to say, I was never so happy to have Brad at home. There's a really unsettling feeling to think that you have two kids to protect all by yourself if something did actually happen. 

Anyway, we awoke this morning to cancelled school announcements. Part of me was relieved... I could stay in my pjs all day and spend time with the kids. Part of me was calculating each dollar that I would miss out on at work if I didn't work my full 6 hours in the day. 

But, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? 

So, the upside is that I love my job. And my boss has been SO wonderful about me working from home when the kids have snow days. I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate that. It takes an incredible amount of stress off of me to know that I'm able to take care of my kids AND still take care of my job, too. It really is great. The bad thing is that I didn't get much work done today at all. It seems that I'm completely out of practice with working from home with the kids cooped up at my feet. SO... it's going to be a late night, especially since they've already called school out for tomorrow and I was planning to go in to make up some time tomorrow. 

Once I realized that the kids weren't really going to let me get much work done while they were awake, I decided to work on some gifts for their school teachers. I was thinking that I'd give them to them tomorrow, seeing that I thought we'd have school and all. It really doesn't pay me to think or to plan. 


And those gifts, well, they got me thinking. I know... it's a scary world here in the Ooten household. 

I thought about Old Wives' Tales. I remembered one that my mom told me her grandmother told her about fresh vegetables. It was something like... don't feed a baby under 1 any fresh vegetables from the garden during their first summer of life. It will make them sick (I've even heard that it would give them diarrhea to the point of death). Now, I don't know if this is true, seeing as how I'm sure people do this all the time, but I was extra careful with my babies when selecting food to feed them. Baby food (processed - haha) is what I stuck with. It seems really strange, doesn't it? Especially with the whole organic movement. Maybe I got that whole theory wrong. Maybe it's just a specific food or something. If you know, e-mail me so that I don't sound so stupid. :) 

The reason I started thinking about Old Wive's Tales is because I proved one today. Or so, I think. My granny used to always tell me not to make candy when the weather was bad. She said it wouldn't set up right. Against all better judgement, I made candy today. 

After making enough to give to a small army, I pulled together enough that looked nice to give to the teachers. The rest look ugly. They taste good... look ugly. And, now there is no school. So, the gifts will no longer be applicable when it comes time to take them to the teachers now. Well, Jake's school is still on for tomorrow, so half the battle is won, but still.  AHHHH! Oh well... we will eat it without complaint. :) I guess granny was right about weather correlating with candy-making. It must have something to do with humidity or moisture in the air. She always told me to make candy on sunny days. I never want to make candy when it's pretty out. Only when it is cold and rainy or snowing. Doesn't that just figure?!

Tomorrow will bring a new day with probably some new challenges. I have a big weekend ahead - family coming in this weekend to see our prima ballerina grace the stage for the Nutcracker. I have been dying to make a big Christmas dinner at my house and have never been able to, so I'm getting my chance while they are here. So, tomorrow, I will begin to plan for that. :) Here's to hoping my plans don't fall apart like the rest of this week's plans have! I'm sure it will all be fine, either way. I'm grateful for the reminder that I'm not in control, even when it irritates me so. :) 

I'm hoping that anyone who has actually made it through this entire post is having a safe winter and wonderful holiday season. I'm planning more posts. hehe. One of them is going to be really funny, so be on the lookout. I'll give you a hint. My boy had his Christmas program last week at school. He did really well, but Jake likes to play an instrument. And it's not one in the band... lol. 

Happy almost Friday!

Pillow Fights, Lots of love, and Jakey

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
As if I haven't said it a few thousand times, I have the best, best friend in the world. 

She is incredible in so many ways. 

Yet, at this time of the year, I always, ALWAYS, love having her for a best friend. :) Thankfully, we were best friends before she became a photographer. Otherwise, I'm sure she would think that this is the primary reason for being so close to her. lol. 

Simply put, she is such a wonderfully talented photographer and she completely captures my children's personalities in each photo she takes. And, that is why I love every session we have. It is also why I don't dread doing my Christmas cards each year... it's just so easy and I always love how good they look. 

She doesn't have to be your best friend to be this good, though. I assure you. She does a phenomenal job. Just phenomenal... with everyone. You can see that by looking at her blog, though. I don't have to sell it to you... her work speaks for itself.

In case you don't know who I'm talking about, it's Priscilla Baierlein Photography. If you haven't gone to her, you should book a session. At least once. She's incredible. Not because she's my best friend (but I do love her for that too). :)

While I contemplated not sharing the slideshow because it could potentially ruin the surprise of the Christmas cards, I just couldn't keep these to myself. They are just so adorable (my unbiased opinion, of course). 

We had so much fun in this session. The kids really had fun... especially because they were able to beat each other up with pillows... and I wasn't telling them to stop. Repeatedly. :) 

I'm sure the people at Masterson Station Park wondered why there were tons of white feathers all over the place - the wind was blowing them everywhere. Unfortunately they don't blow out of your vehicle as well. I keep finding them in the Escape. :) 

I digress... 

Check out the slideshow... if you want. :) Oh, and I love how she named it Bailey and Jakey. My poor son is going to hate us later for calling him Jakey. All the kids in Bailey's class know him as Jakey and they love to yell, "Hey, Jakey," as soon as he comes in the room. I can just see how much he's going to hate it when he goes to school in a few years and all of the "big kids" are calling him Jakey from down the hall. lol. He's totally going to hate us. Oh well... 

ANYWAY... here you go!


Christmas Music - iTunes Giveaway! :)

Monday, December 6, 2010
'Tis the season.

For giving.

For love.

For thankfulness.

For hope.

For awesome music and Christmas lights and snow and cookies and movies and milk and hot chocolate and snow. And music. And snow! And blankets and days in the house with your pjs on all day and hoodies and gloves and awesome coats and, well, I'll shut up now. :)

I love the holidays. And, as I mentioned in my earlier posts, one of my absolute favorite things is Christmas music.

Actually, I love music as a whole. It's incredible how much power music can have on your soul. I guess it should not have been such a surprise when I worked for two professional orchestras. However, as many of you should know, if you don't already, I know nothing about classical music. Well, I do know some now, but not a lot, especially for a woman who spent more than 5 years of her life raising money for it. hehe.

Oh well, I always said then and I still mean it when I say, "Music is not about composers and artists, but about how it makes you feel." 

And Christmas music makes me feel bubbly, cheerful, and relaxed. I can't help but smile when I hear it. Almost any Christmas song can make me happy.

The year that I was pregnant with Bailey, I worked with some really awesome girls at the University of Charleston. I miss them on a very, very regular basis. I don't think I have ever had so much fun at work, and actually still got work done. :) Amanda, one of my girls from UC, gave me a wonderful gift. It was a Christmas CD that she herself had compiled. She probably didn't think much of it and has probably not thought much about it since. However, it has become a staple in my holiday season. Over the years, I have been found blaring it in late November in my bedroom, dancing with the kids and singing in my most wonderful tone-deaf voice. It really is one of my most prized gifts. I think of her every year and think of how much fun we had. And, I miss her, but I know I will always have this to listen to with my kids. So, Amanda, if you are reading, thank you. My kids love your CD. Brad, well, he probably isn't such a fan. :)

What was most impressive to me is that on that CD, I found that I knew many of the songs, but many of them were songs that I had only briefly heard or hadn't really ever listened to at all. And it occurred to me, I love to know what music really impacts other people. Why is it that I think Bruce Springsteen's version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town is the only one worth listening to? Am I the only one who thinks this or is it just my personal favorite because I can remember my parents playing it for me when I was a little girl? They would warn me all about how I needed to be good, because Santa was watching. I, of course, only thought they told me this because they really hoped my brother, Cory, was listening and taking it in, too. :) Yet, it stuck. I love this song.

Since I am SICK of listing my favorite things (I feel like the most self-absorbed person in the world), I'm hoping to hear from you.

I want to know... What is your favorite Christmas song?

Tell me, please. Tell me why it means something to you, if you want. I would love to hear all about it. I will keep it quiet or post your responses, whatever you want, just let me know in your response. I just really am curious to see if it's just me that has this strange relationship with Christmas music. :) 

And, since I am just now learning to use iTunes (yes, I do know how pathetic this is), I will give a gift to you. For the first person to respond, I will send you the gift of my favorite Christmas song through iTunes download. And, for a random five others, I will also send one of my favorites. 

So, tell me. Tell me before the end of the week, Friday, December 10 at 6 p.m. what your favorite Christmas song is. And maybe you'll be the lucky winner to hear about some of my favorites. You can tell me by e-mail. You can leave me a comment. You can send me a message on Facebook. You can call me up and tell me, if you have my number. You can even send me a letter (even send me a Santa letter through Jingle Bell Mail! :)). Just tell me. 

Or, if you don't want to get my pick Christmas song because you really don't care, hehe, just tell me not to enter you. lol. It won't hurt my feelings at all. I promise. :) 

Or, if you hate Christmas music and don't want to be a part of this because you are like my beloved husband, tell me what it is that bothers you so much about Christmas music. If you are really creative, maybe I'll send you a song, too. 

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Happy Holidays! Peace on Earth! Joy to the World!

OK. I'll stop being so annoying now. :) 

Baby or Big Boy... which one?

Sunday, December 5, 2010
Shew... now that the additions to my list post is out of the way. :) 

I can get on with my blogging self. 

However, this one is going to be about my list, too. 


It's actually about one of the items on my list and how I am not really sure I will ever determine that I've accomplished it. I guess I'll know when Jake starts Kindergarten or when he goes to middle school (or Junior High) or high school. I don't know when I'll "know." 

The item I'm referring to is the item that says, "Teach Jake to walk into a room and feel confident with himself (no nail biting)."

Since I have no way of knowing if Jake feels confident in himself at this stage of the game, I have to go on the cues he's giving me. 

So, Saturday would be one of the days that I'm using as an example. Our friends, Dawn and Brandon, invited us to come to their sons' (Jackson and Carson) birthday party. It was a joint party (both boys have December birthdays) and the kids really love Jackson and Carson. I was really excited to get to join in. Unfortunately, not long after getting the invitation, I realized that Bailey had ballet rehearsal for the Nutcracker at the same time (speaking of - if you want to see her in the ballet, come watch on Saturday, December 18 at 7 at Lyric Theater in Lexington). Anyway, Bailey wouldn't be able to go to the party. For half a second, I thought that we'd have to miss the party. But, I was quickly reminded (by myself) that I have taken Bailey to numerous, numerous parties for her friends at preschool and Kindergarten. Jake, on the other hand, has only gone to birthday parties when we've all gone. I quickly shot Brad an e-mail and told him that he was going to have to take Bailey to ballet and I would take Jake to the party. It wasn't fair for him to miss out. 

Now that you have entirely too much detail on this... 


Saturday was the party. We arrived a few minutes early, caught up with Dawn and checked out the party place. Jake was pretty pumped about seeing his friends, Jackson, Carson, and Joseph, and really excited about the cake and games. Typically, Jake has a hard time in these types of situations. He becomes clingy and shy and really gets nervous when he doesn't know a lot of people. He didn't seem that nervous. He even sat at the table with the kids without a concern or care in the world, ate 4 pieces of pizza (I KNOW!) and made a new friend in Vincent. They had a cookie fight (not over cookies, but ramming their cookies into each other). :) I'm sure that it really helped that he's played with Jackson, Carson, and Joseph so often and they were both there sitting with him. Add to that the fact that he's actually doing really well with preschool and understanding that he really DOES have to follow rules and maybe we can see where this is coming from. 

No nervousness, no nail biting. I really didn't think that much about it. At all. It really hadn't crossed my mind. Until one of Dawn's friends came up and I stuck my hand out to introduce myself. Jake quickly stepped up to her and stuck his hand out and said, "I'm Brad Jacob Ooten." OK. This should not be a big deal, right? Had it been Bailey, I wouldn't have thought a second time about it. Well. Jake typically mumbles his name, only when asked, and then continues to bury his face in my thigh and stands behind me. The fact that he was so forthcoming with this new friend floored me. It surprised me even more when he decided that he'd make friends with Brandon's dad (Jackson's grandfather) and told him all about the prizes he selected at the ticket counter. He is usually insecure. He usually mumbles. He usually would NEVER initiate a conversation with someone he doesn't know. 

I have often worried that his insecurities come from his difficulty in speaking clearly. He's getting so much better that it amazes us sometimes. Sure, he still struggles with some sounds, but for the most part, you can understand most of what he's saying. I have to think that his improvements in speech are helping his confidence. That coupled with preschool and our increasingly active schedules with other adults and children just have to be making the difference. 

One step closer to me not worrying about his insecurities... 

One step closer to feeling like I'm not leaving a helpless baby at preschool... terrified that he can't or won't tell them when he needs something. 

One step closer to marking this off my list. 

OK. I'll probably never stop worrying about him. 
I'll probably never feel like I'm leaving a big kid at school... he IS my baby. 
So, maybe this won't ever come off the list. lol. 

Oh well... I'm working on it. :) That has to count for something. 

Adding on...

You have all been so patient in waiting. I am finally ready to add to my list. In celebration of my 30th birthday, here you go. Thirty new things for my list. 

I will probably never accomplish everything on my list, but I really can't say enough about how much focus it has given to me when thinking about what I want out of life. It has been a fascinating process, filled with lots of really fun and interesting conversations with so many people. It is incredible how just writing about the things that you think about "in your wildest dreams" can help you find common ground with so many people. I love it when I haven't heard from someone in years, or I have never met someone before in my life, and they contact me about something on my list or just on my blog. It just completely makes my day. 

I love this blog. I love all of my readers. I hope all of you aren't sick of me yet. :) And all of my smiley faces. :) 


Here are my 30 additions to the list:  :)

1. Run a half marathon 
2. Go white water rafting 
3. Restaurants on Man Versus Food - try some, but not sure how many yet. :) 
4. Go snow tubing at a ski resort 
5. Fly fishing 
6. Whale watching 
7. Pay It Forward at least one time each month for a year 
8. Go mountain biking at Snowshoe Mountain (or a similar place) 
9. Go to Dollywood with the kids 
10. Go to a professional football game (again) 
11. Run a marathon (Awww…. I don’t know about this one. I keep deleting it, so don’t be surprised if it comes off of here). 
12. Write a book… 
13. … get said book published. 
14. Take the kids on an airplane
15. Take a nap in a hammock 
16. Take a girls' trip with some of my favorite friends for more than just a day (thinking Nashville in April... :))
17. Visit all 50 states 
18. Take a cooking class 
19. Host a beer and/or bourbon and/or wine tasting party at our house 
20. Visit the tourist-y hot spots in Kentucky (ie the Bourbon Trail, Natural Bridge, Mammoth Caves, etc.)
21. Stay at the Greenbrier in West Virginia (not at the Greenbrier Inn – hahaha) 
22. Go to an auction and actually win something – a live auction, not Ebay people. :) Although, I love Ebay. I honestly don’t even care about what I’m buying most times… I just want to win. 
23. Use a cowbell at a high school football game (again)
24. Go on a cruise
25. Play racquetball
26. Take the kids on a train ride (probably in Cass, WV)
27. Try to ice skate (an attempt is enough to mark this off the list. I know "learning" to ice skate is unlikely. lol)
28. Go sailing on a sailboat
29. See the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center
30. Grow my blog to have at least 100 followers, officially


Monday, November 29, 2010

I know you are all waiting... on pins and needles... for me to post my birthday post. The one that I promised... filled with additions to my list. 


It's coming. 

But, it's still not finished. 

You see, the holiday weekend and my birthday celebrating just ended this morning. Well, that sounds really fun, right? It does, it does. However... most of the weekend was completely rushed and exhausting, in a perfectly good way. It just didn't leave me much time to focus on one of my favorite things in the world... my blog. :) 

Do you really want a rundown of my weekend? Probably not. I've been told I give too many meaningless details when discussing these things. Yes, I've been told that my entire life. lol. :) 

So... the quick, detail-less version (haha, I know... imagine if it were the full detail version): 

Wednesday - worked until 4:30 and then traveled to my parents' house. There, my daughter coughed so hard that it made her sick and we had to change the sheets. A perfect beginning to the weekend. lol. A perfect indicator of how the kids would feel all weekend... absolutely. 

Thursday - got up and ran a 5K with Brad, Colt, and Dawn. Finished it in 30:20. Not a bad time, but not as fast as I had hoped for. I should have trained harder leading up to it. It's my own fault. But, it was a great start to Thanksgiving. Spent the day at my grandmother's and then to my grandfather's to help cook. Overate... extremely. Kids felt bad, but I thought it was just a cold. 

Thursday night - Bailey got sick again. This time, she made it to the bathroom and we didn't have to strip any sheets down. 

Friday morning - up and at 'em at 4 a.m. Shopped until 10 a.m. Brad and Dad took the kids to have breakfast (they loved it). Then, headed to my mother-in-law's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Deliciousness. Except that Jake was sick, too. He had to run to the bathroom all day. You could tell he was feeling terrible. That night, we traveled back to my mom's to spend the night. He threw up all over the car. ALL OVER CHRISTMAS GIFTS. Well, really, only one Christmas gift, but still. Brad inherited a new jacket by default. :) 

We made it through the night without any sickness and with good night's sleep. Thankfully. I was exhausted. 

Saturday morning - we had to get back for Bailey to practice her ballet for the Nutcracker. She was still coughing pretty hard, but not as bad as she had been. We cancelled my birthday celebration and rescheduled it for Sunday, just to be safe. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and I bought our Christmas tree. We have it up, without lights or decorations yet. That will come later this week. 

Then, Sunday rolled around. We slept in. We fixed breakfast. I was bombarded by birthday wishes online and by phone (I love you all so much). I felt old. Not really. But, I felt like I should feel old. :) We played Guitar Hero to make me feel younger. I can still rock out the medium skill level, so I'm feeling OK about myself. 

At 5, we met our friends for dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where we continued to gorge ourselves on delicious food. We also tortured an eleven-month old baby with the fire on the Hibachi grill. No, we didn't torture him on purpose, but I'm pretty sure he thought we did. He couldn't believe that we were eating at this wretched place. :) Sorry, Carson. :) The other kids had fun. We had fun. It was perfect. And, I got gifts. :) 

My hubby and kiddos got me an ipod touch (older generation): 

My mom and dad got me Paula Dean cookware (I LOVE it): 

My mother-in-law gave me money for my new running shoes (hopefully I'll get them this week): 

Photo pending my shopping. :) 

Cilla and Bret got me four of the most wonderful cards and an ice cream cake (my absolute favorite): 

Rebecca, Paul, and Joseph got me a book (Shit My Dad Says - I can't wait to get started on it!): 

And, last but certainly not least, Dawn (and Brandon, Jackson, and Carson) got me an adorable keychain with a 5K and 10K charm on it. She's promised a 13.1 (half marathon) and a 26.2 (marathon) once I complete those races, too. I might be waiting a while on that 26.2. :)

I dreaded this birthday more than any. And, yet, it turned out so wonderfully. Everyone has made me feel so loved. And, I don't feel old. At all. I feel alive. Very much alive. And very thankful for everything. And, while I absolutely love my tangible gifts, the ones that mean the most to me are the ones that you can't see. The love and encouragement I get from all of you. The cuddles with my kids and husband early in the morning. It's the sweetness of Bailey telling me happy birthday at 5 in the morning, because she woke up and instantly remembered. It's the way that Jake looked so sweetly at me on our way to go eat and told me happy birthday, even though he was very disappointed that it wasn't his birthday and that our meal would not involve french fries or rides. It's the way my husband graciously offered to fix me omelets for breakfast and let me play lead guitar on the Xbox all morning, while he sang songs he didn't know. lol.. The little things, people. :) And, it most certainly is in the hope of 30 more wonderful years and fulfilled birthday wishes (just like this year's - ;-).) 

I love you all... and thank you for being such a sweet and wonderful part of my life. 

And, I promise... the additions to my list are coming. I am just getting slow in my old age. :)  

Just for kicks... here are my favorite girls in the world. :) 

I am... thankful.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Guess what is on TV tonight? I'll give you some hints... it isn't Elf. I love Elf. I've already watched it once this week. But it isn't Elf. In fact, it isn't a holiday movie at all. Yes, it is November. And, I am not watching a holiday movie. 

It isn't a superhero movie either. And it doesn't involve any animation or animated characters or princesses or teenagers named Carly or Sam or Freddy. 

It isn't a movie about killing people or wars or a comedy about drunken men in Vegas. 

Although I love all of these types of movies (sometimes), it isn't one of these. 

Instead, I am watching a movie that will probably make me cry. It is a movie that I probably should not watch in my last week of my twenties, on the verge of turning 30 and feeling like it is all slipping away. 

Well, I'm not really thinking that it is all slipping away or anything. I just think it sounds more dramatic like that. :) 

It is a movie that really makes you think about your life and how you want to spend it. 

The movie? The Bucket List. 

So, you know what's coming right? 

Oh... so you think I'm going to give you my updated list with new items? Well, think again. I am doing that. It's in the works. It will be posted this weekend. You know, when I actually do turn 30. It will be my actual first-third of life crisis post (I hope I live to be 90 - at least). :) 

I could totally do nothing but focus on my need for this list. I could tell you about how it makes me feel alive... like I am working to make my life mine... that I have some false sense of control over my entire life. Do you think I have issues? :) I do. 

While watching this movie, I realize that I'm not alone. :) 

I also realize how fast life goes by. I look at my little girl and remember the day she was born as if it were yesterday. I can't see how she can already be 5. Jake is growing so fast that it will only feel like months before I am sending him into the kindergarten classroom... of course, I'll be crying like crazy, I'm sure. 

October slipped away without me realizing that it was nearly gone and now Thanksgiving is upon us and will be over in the blink of an eye. And, Christmas, well, I can hear the clock ticking all day... it will come and go and I will wonder how in the world we fit it all in. 

Every month. Every week. Everyday. They all fly by so quickly. And some days I just feel like I haven't accomplished anything at all. 

Some days are wonderful. Some are less than. Sometimes I wish the day would last forever and sometimes I would just as soon crawl back into bed by 8 a.m. 

Yet, everyday, I am grateful for some blessing that God has given me. And He has given me so much. I desperately want to hang onto it so that I don't forget all of those blessings. I don't want to wake up 45 years from now and wonder where it went. So, while I'm savoring my turkey and dressing, sweet potatoes, and pies, I'm also going to be savoring all of the wonderful things in my life. 

I'm so thankful for so many things. There really isn't a way to name them all. So, in honor of my 30th birthday... here are 30 things I'm thankful for.  

  1. For God. Without Him, life is meaningless and cold. Trust me, I've tried walking alone. It's much better with Him. :) 
  2. For love. The kind of love that makes your heart skip a beat... that makes you feel 16. While we have our moments, I am so lucky to have a husband who I still love and who I think still loves me. Sometimes. :) And to make it better, our love just continues to grow. Sometimes up and sometimes down, but it grows. :)
  3. For laughter. Knock-knock jokes, fart noises, tickle machines, and giggles over the smallest things. Seeing a smile on my babies' faces, hearing their laughter, and seeing their happiness over the most simple things in the world. I am truly not sure if there is anything sweeter in my life. 
  4. For parents. The kind of parents who are always there, ready to do whatever you need, and ready to support you in whatever choices you make. My mom is my best friend in the world... and my dad is my superhero (well, Jake would argue there). And my mother-in-law is incredible... always there, always supportive, and always with a smile.
  5. For brothers. Little brothers who always act like little brothers. They are always there. Always making jokes or wrestling you to the ground, just to show you that they still can. 
  6. For grandparents. They spoil you, love you unconditionally, and send you home. I love the two I have still with us... and miss the two who are gone so much. 
  7. For friends. The kinds you can talk to everyday, sometimes about the same thing repeatedly and still not get tired of talking. 
  8. For pedicures. Period.
  9. For food... good food. And the Pioneer Woman. She is my newest hero (look out dad and Jake...). :) 
  10. For Diet Mountain Dew. It's saved me on more than one occasion. Usually from hurting someone else. 
  11. For a clean house, cabinets and a refrigerator filled with food, and cars that work. 
  12. For DVR. 
  13. For the ability to run. And the ability to enjoy it.
  14. For healthcare. Yes, I said healthcare. As much as I think it needs help, I can't help but remember that it saved my mom from breast cancer. She is in my life everyday because of healthcare. So... yes. Healthcare. 
  15. For bubble baths. For big, hot bubble baths. 
  16. For sunrises and sunsets... Jake loves a colorful sky just like me. Every time he sees the colors in the sky, he says, "Wook, mommy. Da sky is bootiful. I see pink, puhple, and orange." It makes my heart smile every time. 
  17. For football... and really all sports.
  18. For tears... of joy. Of sadness. Of love. Tears. Sometimes you just need them, even if it's only to get the dust out of your eye. I'm thankful I have them. :) 
  19. For pictures. Memories that you can touch, unless you are like me and never upload them to be printed. Then, you can just look at them on a computer. 
  20. For hope. Sometimes when you hold onto your faith, you can will things to happen. I hope so. I really hope so for some things I'm hoping for right now. And praying for, too. :) 
  21. For Saturday mornings cuddling with my kids and hubby, eating a late breakfast, and spending the day in our pjs. 
  22. For snow days with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and movies. 
  23. For lazy days at the lake, beach or pool with sun-kissed skin and an icy cold drink. 
  24. For car washes in the driveway. 
  25. For music... one song can change your day entirely. Or your life. Or it can just be fun. Or it can melt your heart. Listening to my kids sing their "God, Our Father" prayer is incredible. Hearing them rock out to Kryptonite or just about any Taylor Swift song can make my day... or can drive me crazy. :) 
  26. For Christmas music... even when it annoys the hell out of everyone. And, yes, it does deserve it's own category. :)
  27. For slow dances with my husband... for fun dances with the kids... and for ballet for my baby girl. 
  28. For books... and the ability to read.
  29. For imagination. I told Bailey to stop pretending something today... and she said, "But mom, I have to use my 'magination." Yes, honey... that is exactly what you have to do. And, God knows Jake has practice using his with all of his costumes.
  30. For apologies... especially when I'm not too proud to be the one to say it. Sometimes it takes a child's sweet innocence to remind us that we are supposed to apologize when we hurt someone...  unfortunately, I catch myself feeling horrible and needing to say I'm sorry to my kids way too much. It's in those moments that I remember that I need to read through this and enjoy life just a little bit more. :) 
Life is too short. Savor each moment. Happy Thanksgiving (a couple days early!). 

Gobble, gobble!