Early Santa Visit

November 9th, 2013

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We usually see Santa at our annual Moms Club Christmas Party. This year, the party was cancelled. I had nightmares about having to go to the mall in December and wait in line for an over priced mall Santa photo. Then a local business advertised an open house with take-your-own Santa photos. And the set up/background was lovely. So early Santa for the win!

Sabrina was happy to sit and chat with Santa. Tessa was less sure. She sat there. She let me take photos. She told him what she wanted. Then she ran right back to mommy the second we were finished.

A few photos

November 3rd, 2013

I realized this summer that I am kind of over blogs. Mine and everyone else’s. I haven’t been writing here (obv) but I also haven’t been reading many blogs lately. Once in awhile I check in on a couple but after 7 1/2 years of blogging and reading hundreds of blogs, I just need a break from it. It was feeling like an obligation on both ends. I felt obligated to write and to read. Don’t write me off completely. I’ll pop in and put up some photos and maybe a funny story now and then. And I’m sure I’ll come back to it all some day in the not too distant future. But for now, this few and far between thing will likely continue. Thanks to those who have checked in that we are all okay – we are all great. Just busy with life.

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When I lived in Ohio, everyone went to Myrtle Beach for vacation. When I lived in Pittsburgh, everyone went to OBX for vacation. Now that I live in TN, everyone heads to Destin for vacation. We have been here a little over 6 years (!?!?) now and had yet to make it to the gulf shore. A few weeks ago, the girls and I remedied that. We met my mom for a long weekend and frolicked in the surf in SeaGrove, FL. It was gorgeous. I haven’t been to the gulf in probably 30 years. I forgot how beautiful and clear and calm it is. The girls had so much fun. The Atlantic isn’t their favorite – it is usually cold and rough so they stay away from the water. But here we could have spent all day on the beach if 3/4 of us wouldn’t have turned into lobsters. I really enjoyed it more than I’ve enjoyed a beach in a very long time.

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This child takes my breath away. She is so beautiful.

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School is going well for everyone. We decided to do another year of preschool for Tessa so that she could mature a little bit socially. It feels like the right decision. Sabrina seems to be catching up in areas that she has struggled with. There are fewer tears this year over reading and homework. (Also less homework – yay!) Halloween is always cause for big excitement. We had Robin (or SuperGirl if you asked Tessa…she is suddenly into super heroes and after 7 years of pink and sparkle, I’m all about it) and a cat this year.

She has moves like Jagger.

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Sabrina also loves climbing trees in our front yard now.

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So there you have it. All the news worth knowing around these parts. Life is pretty quiet. And I’m pretty happy about that.

 

End of an era

July 28th, 2013

I almost never dress the girls alike. Usually just 1 outfit for our family photos at the beach. This year, for the first time, Sabrina objected. She also pouted and sulked. I promised I wouldn’t make her do again. But I didn’t make any promises about coordinating outfits. Because look how stinking cute they are!

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The attitude is developing nicely in the bigger child. She has been expressing that she is mad at me about different things. We got our first silent treatment at the beach this year. Sadly for her, it cracked us up and I documented it with a photo “My baby’s first silent treatment”

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She was mad because we walked to the lighthouse and didn’t realize there was a fee to climb to the top. We didn’t bring our wallets so we couldn’t go up. She walked 5 steps ahead of us and refused to speak the whole way back to the house. She wasn’t amused that we were so tickled at her attempt to freeze us out. The photo taking and chuckling might have fueled her indignation. There was another incident of not talking to me (that one apparently Steve wasn’t blamed for) and being mad at me at Cracker Barrel on the way home. It was also met with mirth. She is kind of screwed with that tactic. It won’t ever work with us.

OBX 2013 – now with fewer words!

July 19th, 2013

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Steve and I – photo (and the next couple) courtesy of my SIL…the last few are mine). A relaxing week (if hellish drive to and fro) at the beach was just what I needed. A break from the girls’ bickering, time to read books, swimming, crossword puzzles, and cocktails.

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The ocean was FREEZING so our swimming was in the pool only. But the girls liked playing in the sand.

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My BIL took some time to paint.

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We just returned from our annual family vacation. A great time was had by all. The girls had a great time with their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. I love that they get this week every year with extended family.

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We spent the night in Asheville on the way home. We just love it there. If we could figure it out, we would move there. The girls had a great time dancing at an outdoor concert after dinner.

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Happy 4th!

July 4th, 2013

We are about 1/2 through summer vacation here. I’m ready to start counting the days until school starts. I’m having fun with the girls but their constant bickering is driving me crazy. They talk constantly. I answer 1,343,564 questions a day. And the eating. Holy cow, the eating! Where to they put it all? They are constantly saying “I’m still hungry!” I’ve tried discussing the difference between hungry and not being stuffed or being bored but they just look at me blankly and say “We are still hungry.” So, I got a brilliant idea from a friend. Snack baskets. I put all of the food (outside of reasonably sized breakfast and lunch and dinner) that they can have in the day in a basket in the frig. They may eat what they want, when they want. But when it is gone, it is gone.

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A couple of types of fruit, some nuts, yogurt, hard boiled egg, and a granola bar. I vary it every day. I try to do some veggies but no one is ever hungry enough to eat them. Sometimes, they spend all morning just eating it all and then have nothing for the afternoon but they’ve learned there are no refills. They seem to like the control it gives them. I like forbidding the phrase “I’m still hungry” from being uttered in my house.

Sabrina spent a week at day camp. That was a great break for all of us from the bickering. But can I just say she looks way too old/big in this photo from the last day? The growing up needs to stop now.

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Otherwise, we’ve had a low key summer. It has been unusually cool and rainy here in TN so very little pool time. They took some swim lessons at our local rec center but they were pretty worthless and the girls didn’t really learn much. We have made it to the zoo twice which is surprising because it is usually way too hot for zoo trips in July. The girls are excited beyond belief about our annual family beach vacation which is coming up later this month. We’ve been counting down the days.

Last year, the fourth festivities were cancelled due to dry conditions – the cities around us banned fireworks because of fire concerns. This year it has been raining for over 24 hours. But at least the rain let up a little to let us have a little low key fun with sparklers and smoke bombs. The girls declared it the best ever.

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Seriously – look how green that grass is. It is usually brown and crunchy this time of year. But it has been so moderate and so rainy that we could mow every 4 or 5 days.

I wish I knew what they were thinking…

June 10th, 2013

I found this the other day. I wonder what the story was in Tessa’s head when she surrounded my phone with her albino frogs.

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Another school year is behind us

May 22nd, 2013

Time needs to stop flying by. Sabrina finished 1st grade. Tessa perhaps finished preschool…I’m still not sure yet. On the left is the 2 of them on the first day of school in August 2012. In the middle and right are the last days of school yesterday (Sabrina) and today (Tessa). Not a huge difference but both definitely are a bit taller and lost a little more of the round baby-ness in their faces.

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What I’ve been up to…

May 20th, 2013

We’ve got all sorts of projects going on at Chez Smiles. First, I have been searching for chairs to go in our eat in area for 2 years. I finally found 6 at a reasonable price. Now to paint them. I’ve been wanting to play with chalk paint so I bought a super ugly, super cheap end table (soon to be bedside table) to practice with it on. I love the way it turned out but I will admit it was way more work than I was anticipating. First comes paint, then sanding to distress it a bit, then clear wax, then some steel wool, then some more clear wax, then some dark wax to age it some more, then some more clear wax. The 6 chairs will likely take me six months. Here is the before and after of my $8 side table. For my first attempt, I am pretty pleased. Let’s hope the chairs turn out well.

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Last year, I blogged a bit about our CSA experience. We loved it. It changed the way we eat and the way I cook. I found ways to incorporate vegetables that I never dreamed of – and I learned that a lot of things I thought I didn’t like just hadn’t been cooked well when I tried it. We were going to do it again because it was such a fun experience. But after some discussion, we decided to try something different this year. There was some waste with the CSA either because it was something we never learned to like (beets for me…some greens for all of us) or because of an over abundance of 1 item (can only eat so many kohlrabi  or because of just an overabundance (another box before we were done with the previous week’s box). This year we decided to set aside the same amount we spent on the CSA each week and spend it on local foods at local farmers markets. That way we can tailor it to what we want and need. We also decided to plant a garden. That means as the summer goes on, we can spend less on veggies and more on dairy and meat. We are doing square foot gardening and have planted two 4′ x 4′ raised beds. I am skeptical about growing so many things in such a small space but am excited to see how it turns out. We’ve planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs, pumpkins (the small pie variety), baby watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, carrots, and lettuce. The gardening has made me think so much of my dad. First because he would be shocked to see me planning to eat so many veggies. Second because he gardened (which I hated as a kid – forced to weed in the heat and bugs but didn’t like anything that came out of it) and took pride in trying to have the first red tomatoes in the county every year.

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The past month has been filled with birthday parties. Sabrina got to go to another horse riding party. Lucky kids! I never got to do cool stuff that like as a kid.

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I’ve also been agonizing over some art pieces I was working on. A friend asked me to do 3 canvases her daughter’s nursery. She showed me her nursery and just said have at it. For whatever reason, this completely made my brain freeze. The canvases were bigger than I have done in the past. I had no idea what would make her happy. I wanted them to look nice together but not to be 1 connected scene. It took me months of starting and stopping to get these done. I learned that I either need to just do canvases and THEN let people buy them so that I know they like them or I need to just get out of my head and just do it. Because there was no reason for that to take so long and to paralyze me that way. Rather ridiculous. But, in the end, I was happy with what I did. And so was my friend.

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Mark this under: I really need to get out more

May 14th, 2013

I have this person at the grocery store that I think of as my Newman/arch-nemesis. He is a 20-something guy who mans the self checkouts. I cringe every time I see him there and consider waiting in line for regular register. I’ve had numerous issues with him – the take away being that he just isn’t the brightest/fastest/most aware human being.

We have a mutual dislike which I will admit I am responsible for. Shortly after we moved to this little town, we were walking through the produce department. Sabrina was pretty young. He walked up to us and said “Where did you get her?” I was in a mood (I think I was pregnant and therefore perma-cranky) so I didn’t respond in a kind way. I said something snarky like “Wal-Mart.” He took a minute to figure out my response and then said he was only asking because he was adopted (he looks Korean or Vietnamese…I’m not good at telling Asian heritage). I immediately felt like an ass. I apologized and told him I was just crabby. Then much more pleasantly answered his questions. Obviously, not a good start to our relationship. Over the years, I have gotten irritated with him repeatedly for not paying attention, walking away, having a bad attitude, and generally sucking at manning the self check out. He has not been a fan of mine since our first interaction and I can’t blame him.

He sealed my dislike of him during The Yogurt Incident. It was marked on sale. It didn’t ring up on sale. He very grudgingly went to check on it (there was a large price difference or I wouldn’t have made a big deal). After taking his sweet time, he finally returned and said the sale signs had been incorrectly left up (this was 3 days after the sale would have ended) so he guessed he would give me the sale price. I thanked him. Then he revealed how horribly our education system is failing our youth because he had to figure out what to charge me per item because the sign said 4 for $2. He got out his calculator. Then he got very confused because his calculator told him they should be $2 each. I then had to explain to him that they were $.50 each. He never looked convinced that I wasn’t scamming him. I was sad that he couldn’t figure out the cost of each yogurt in his head or with his calculator but my dislike was sealed by his surly attitude through the whole interaction.

Every time I see him at the registers I mutter “Newman” under my breath. I really need to get a life instead of creating feuds in my head. He gives my children copious amounts of “I’ve been Krogering” stickers so that there is no surface in my car or home that doesn’t have a sticker on it at all times as payback. Well played checkout guy. Well played.

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Anyone have a paper bag I can breath into?

April 5th, 2013

So. This happened today.

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How is that possible when just last week she looked like this?

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We put a deposit on her preschool seat for next year in case we feel she isn’t ready by the end of summer. But can we use it if I’m not ready? I’m not ready to give her up to the world yet. I’m not ready to lose my snuggle bug. I’m not ready to admit all of the baby is gone from her now. One more year of hanging out with her on Tuesdays and Thursdays would make me very happy. Why do they grow so damn fast?


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