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Friday, December 28, 2007

On Christmas Day In The Morning...

Well, Santa has come and gone. Here is what Gracie and Tessa awoke to find Christmas morning.

Gracie was next to my bed at 6:45 sharp Christmas morning, and while it about killed her she managed to wait 10 minutes until Nana and Pa Pa pulled in the driveway! Here are some pics of the kids with their stuff.

A few years back Gracie got some old dance costumes and among them was a blue ballet dress. The dress has been the prize possession in our dress up clothes collection, and has endured many spills, washings, and being pulled at several times in an argument over who's turn it was to have it. So needless to say, Santa was kind enough to bring some new ballet dresses - one for each of the girls. Tessa put hers on immediately... and began singing for us with her new microphone that Santa left in their stockings.

Here is Gracie with her new laptop toy (Tessa got one too). Earlier this year, my sister got a new laptop, and there was lots of discussion about "laptops" and she brings it over sometimes and has let me use it a couple of times for school. Gracie began playing with an old book end and calling it her "laptop" telling us she was very busy with "work".

Then at a random encounter at the mall with Santa (it was two weeks before Thanksgiving), she told him she wanted a "laptop" for Christmas. We laughed, and Santa told Gracie he'd see what he could do, but then looked at me and Trav like we were clearly the most ridiculous parents in the world. Oh well... luckily, Gracie doesn't know the difference between a real laptop and this v-tech toy one. She loves it...

Here is Trav opening his new "gaming rocker". He really needed it, of course, because the TV is high up, and he has to lean against the hard table to play his X-box. HA!

Trav is worse than a kid when it comes to gifts! I got this for him on Black Friday (a great deal - only $30), and Amanda has been hiding it at her house since. She brought it over (and even wrapped it for me - bless her) on Sunday before Christmas, and Trav practically kept circling the box for two days! As you can see, the wrapping paper was still attached while he's cutting the box open to get it out.

I typically mock Trav's "X-box" addiction, along with all of its accessories... but I have to admit the chair was pretty cool, and I could see where it "made the game better". HA!

Even Pa Pa had to try it out!! HA!

Our sweet little Tanner slept through most of Christmas morning, and pretty much most of Christmas afternoon at Nana and Pa Pa's.... but Santa did not forget about him! Since both girls got one, Tanner got a laptop too - just his size!

Christmas was not too shabby for mommie either... Trav won the "fantasy football" league at work, and used his winnings to upgrade my IPOD to the "bigger and better" i-touch version. Watching my Bon Jovi videos at the gym will be even better now! HA!

After our busy day of present opening and Christmas dinner eating, Trav spent the rest of the evening like this. Via a family effort on my part, my sister's, and my parents, he got all the necessary elements to hook his beloved X-box up to the internet so he can play online... it was probably a mistake on my part as his addiction (which hasn't been too bad) might now take on a whole new level!!

And finally, me and Aunt Mandy snuck off to a movie. I guess I haven't done the Christmas movie thing in a while... it was packed - crazy packed! After hiking like a mile or so from where we had to park - we managed to get in and saw P.S. I Love You. Really good... really sad... really sweet.

So a grand holiday was had by all! I hope yours was too!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Bless Us Everyone...

"So fill your heart with love and joy
And through the eyes of girls and boys
Share their wonder, live through their joy
It's easy to do, just open your heart
The spirit will come to you"

Well, the children are all nestled, all snug in their beds... We have no chimney, so our stockings are pinned to the curtains with care... and our tree is soon to be rounded out with gifts from Santa's visit - just as soon as Trav is done wrapping all of them. He grew up with beliving that Santa does not "wrap" gifts... but I like to see the kids "open" them, so he's agreed to do it my way. Bless him.

Gracie hasn't been able to sit still all day, and was anxious to get to bed! I managed to snap a picture of the three kiddos under the tree before we tucked them in. Tessa, of course, is displaying her typical picture demeanor...

God bless you and yours this Christmas!

"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord... Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Merry Christmas Friends!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Comfort And Joy...

The other night we watched "Deck The Halls". Cute movie. Danny Devito, Matthew Broderick - pretty funny in that hokey Christmas sort of way. In the movie, Matthew Broderick's character is obsessed with his Christmas "traditions" and making sure that all of the required holiday family moments and activities are checked off of his list. Of course, as with any good holiday movie, in the end, he learns how the moments that really matter are the non-manufactured, off the list, unplanned, spontaneous little things that just happen and how being really "present" in those moments is what really makes your "memories". I agree.

I myself am often guilty of aspiring to "plan the perfect" whatever... but of course, fall quite short. Someone is tired and needs a nap, someone needs a new diaper, someone won't get dressed, someone is throwing a fit... and of course, we're always running late! You name it - something is always popping up that causes a veering from the plan. But, oh well... Praise God that so often it's the imperfections in things that can make them so grand - and may he continue to remind me of that when I forget.

And speaking of grand imperfections... here are Gracie's and Tessa's traditional batch of Christmas cookies for Santa. Last year I wimped out and used the ready-cut Pilsbury, but this year I braved an actual recipe and did the whole sha-bang!! It was a big mess, but lots of fun.

As you can see, the girls are big fans of the "sprinkles"!

Daddy helped in the decorating! Yes... I know, again, here is Tessa with no clothes!

Tanner watched from his swing... which sadly, he is about to outgrow! He's 19 pounds now!

So however you're spending this holiday, may it be perfect for you - and full of sponatenous and messy imperfections to make it even better!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fa la la la la... la la la la...

Here's Gracie after her school's Winter Musical extravaganza... she was quite adorable belting out Frosty the Snowman, and only fiddled with her Santa hat (her "costume" as she called it) for the second part of the song.

It has been a crazy few weeks post Gracie's birthday... wrapping up my classes, Christmas festivities, Trav's busiest month of the year, you know... blah, blah, blah. However, I did mange to escape my classes with a "B" and an "A", which was such a relief!!

And more importantly, I've arrived at my first major downsizing goal, and am officially halfway, with 40 pounds gone! 41 actually. Big JOY!

My parents celebrated their 38th anniversary last Friday. And we had a family trip to Garvan Gardens last week - the Christmas lights are beautiful up there.

The girls had lots of fun, and of course, saw Santa. Gracie was sure he was the "real Santa" because Mrs. Clause was with him as well. They roasted marshmellows (which Tessa could not get enough of). Gracie said she loved the cold weather and getting to wear her "big coat".

Now, I've been told there aren't enough pictures of Tessa on my blog. And trust me, I would love more pictures of Tessa... but trying to take her picture is CRAZY!

She screams and runs when she sees the camera. We can hardly get her to stand still, and when we do you've got like a split second, and then she's gone. Occasionlly we can reel her in for a moment with the help of bribes (notice the sucker in her mouth), but even that doesn't last long! Maybe she'll grow out of it...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Happy Birthday Gracie!

Today our Gracie turned FIVE!
And here she is on her birthday "throne" at her party this afternoon!

Five years ago, Amanda Grace (named after my sister, of course), arrived after a very long day weighing 6 pounds, 7 ounces... and completely adorable, if I do say so myself.

The week before she was born, a friend of ours who had a daughter that had just been married at the time, told us that now we would finally understand what all the "fuss" was about when people say "time flies". He was right.

Gracie attended a party at a "jumpin place" as she called them, just before she was 3, and has wanted a birthday party there ever since. So, since this was a milestone, as they call it, we celebrated in fine fashion at the "Jump Zone" with lots of jumping, sliding, friends, family, cake, and pizza! So here's the birthday girl enjoying the inflatables!

Tessa had fun at the party too... as usual, she was much too busy to pose for family pictures (practically any pictures really). As far as she was concerned, it was her birthday too.

Tanner sat on the sidelines with Nana and Papa at the party, and slept through the cake and ice cream... but here's a picture of him from yesterday. He's sitting up all by himself now!

Here's Gracie with her namesake, and the best aunt ever! Aunt Mandy took Gracie to a movie Friday, and they paid a visit to what Gracie calls "the wand store" (a/k/a Claires) in the mall for a new necklace and a wand or two.

And the party was even complete with a few friends for me too!

So good times were had by all, and Gracie's birthday wish was that it would be her birthday again tomorrow so we could all go back to the Jump Zone!

On the way home Gracie was telling us how much fun she had, and asking us what our favorite part of the Jump Zone party was, and could we believe that she was already five years old... and the truth is no, I can't believe it! And while I know that watching her grow up will be such a gift, part of my heart would certainly love to keep her just the way she is.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Sweet Sixteen!

So, here are some random kid pics for you to enjoy of Gracie and Tessa being silly in the tub, and Tanner sitting up while I tell you how as of yesterday, I'm three pounds away from my "half way goal" with 37 pounds gone! Next week will by our 12 week class at UAMS where they go through and "re-do" all your original tests and measurements - I'm anxious to see how things have changed.

But speaking of "measurements"... I had put it off as long as I could, but last week I had to break down and buy some new jeans! I didn't want to rush into buying anything new because I didn't want to be disappointed if the size wasn't what I was hoping for... and plus, it's expensive! Regular size people are accustomed to Target and/or Old Navy shopping can just run out and snag a new item for less than $20... those of us who have to venture into the "special needs" shops are paying closer to $60 or more a pop. And as you can imagine, the extra costs is not for a "designer" label either...

On Black Friday Old Navy had their jeans on sale, $14.99. My sister was wanting to buy some jeans, and reminded me that I needed some as well. She assured me that I was out of the "special needs" catagory and could find something there. I was skeptical... but getting desperate. So, at 6:00 AM we braved the wild Old Navy crowd on a mission for jeans.

Now, clearly, I've been out of the fashion loop for some time... for me clothes are just "big" or "bigger", and I don't pay attention to much else. So, I was a bit overwhelmed with the jean wall extravaganza at Old Navy. There's all these types and styles I am not familiar with, the boot cut, straight leg, low rise, lowest rise, classic rise.... good grief! As I'm sorting through the Old Navy jeans, my main concern, of course, was the size... However, it turns out, there is a whole variety of things that go along with size, which I had no clue about. After 20 minutes and two failed attempts in the dressing room, I was annoyed and ready to quit.

Finally, my sister returned to "the wall" and plowed through the jeans, handed me a few, and ordered me to try them on. And much to my surprise, I finally emerged victorious fitting perfectly into a size 16! Now, granted, I realize fashion standards would typically dictate a size 16 as nothing to write home about... but the pair I abandoned for them was four sizes bigger. So... in my case, a 16 was definately very sweet!

I resisted the urge to happy dance in the check out line, but did buy two pairs! TWO pairs of pants for $30 bucks, from a regular store!! Merry Christmas to me! I've worn them three times since then and am still amazed each time I put them on and they fit!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks...

So it's Thanksgiving... and coming to the close of the grateful extravaganza, I'm randomly thankful for several things today.

I'm grateful for my family... for my mom and dad (a/k/a Nana and Papa), who love us no matter what (and always have), who come around "just because" and are always there when we need them (which is often), and who are constantly doting on their grandkids (even when they're acting awful).

For my sister, Amanda (a/k/a Aunt Mandy), who is my best friend, my favorite person to laugh and cry with, my biggest encourager, and a second mommie to my kids.

For my children... for Gracie, her heart of gold, her smile, and her creativity, and those perfectly timed comments that remind me she is soaking up every word I say.

For Tessa, her sweet little voice that says "I need you" when she feels like cuddling, her opinionated and independent nature that wants what she wants, and her adorable laugh that'll melt your heart.

And for Tanner, this cute new hat we got him, for that excited expression he has every morning that says "hey, great, it's you again," his wonderful sleep habits, that adorable "scoot and crawl" he's mastered, and of course, that he says "da da" all the time, but not "ma ma".

And Travis... for his personality that is the complete opposite of mine, for his sense of humor, his ability to have patience when mine is shot, that he always says he loves me before he hangs up the phone, and of course, for him just putting up with me on the many occasions where I know I have to be "put up" with.

And then, of course, my "extended family"....

I'm so grateful for the women in my life whom I'm blessed to call my friends. For their beauty, their laughter, their encouragement, their talents.... and especially their hearts. And most of all that they know me very well, and love me anyway (especially considering they're not obligated to via a genetic link).

I'm randomly grateful for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! I can't help it... I love it.

For "Black Friday" ads in the paper... it's fun to dream.

For the gym being open this morning, so I could go there early and then not feel too bad about having those mashed potatoes today I simply could not say no to!

And finally, for losing THREE more pounds this week!!! WOO HOO!!

Many Blessing To All This Thanksgiving... and hopes that you have lots to be grateful for!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Grateful To Weigh 30 Less Pounds!

Here is a picture of my little princesses playing "dress up" in their sundresses while I tell you that as of my 12:45 weigh in at UAMS today, I have officially lost 30 pounds! Ten more and I'll be at my halfway goal!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Shot Thru The Heart"

So, if you didn't know, I LOVE Bon Jovi. More specifically, Jon Bon Jovi. I was "shot thru the heart" at like 14 or 15, and have been a huge fan ever since.

I've loved him since way back when... back when he had a flowing mane, purple scarves as hair accessories, his pants were trimmed with fringe down the sides, and he was singing about all the things that were "slippery when wet". And I must say, he was good then - and has only improved with age!

In 40 plus rocker race, he's by far leading the pack in practically every catagory. He's drug-free, father of four, and been married for like 16 years to the same woman (his high school sweetheart). He's very much a "giver" and has done a tremendous amount of work with Habitat for Humanity. He worked with Oprah's Angel Network and donated a million bucks to it to help build houses for Katrina Families, and showed up to personally hand out house keys to the new residents on the appropriately named, Bon Jovi Boulevard.

Of course, I don't know him personally, but he seems very likeable (a little bit of an ego in interviews sometimes - but I think he's just confident). He's clearly a good friend (just look at the way he's always so supportive of Richie in his various personal dramas) and he's known for being a nice guy (Oprah even said so). And how sweet was he to all those American Idol contestants last year (and you know Jordon's rendition of "Livin On A Prayer" had to be killing him). But most importantly, at least to me, the man is BEAUTIFUL!

Now, I know what you're thinking... and yes, I know he's not the greatest singer in the world, but his acting isn't bad, he just hasn't found his real "break through" role yet... (yes, I saw him on SNL last weekend... and I thought he did fine...), and I suppose he does live by the "blow your horn" philosophy at times, but oh well, nobody's perfect - and again, he's BEAUTIFUL, and I mean, BEAUTIFUL!!

If you're not a fan, you should be! Their music is fun, and they put on a great show! And on that note, I will be basking in a Jon Bon Jovi "blaze of glory" in April when the band pulls into Dallas for the "Lost Highway" tour. It will be my fourth Bon Jovi concert (stop laughing...). The first time I was 16 and got the tickets as a birthday present. My dad drove me out to Barton to stand in line at 5:00 AM, and I braved the mosh pit. The 2nd and 3rd times I was entirely too old for that, and so I sat on the lawn and then in the rafters... but this time I'm going to be close enough to have a very nice view, and well - I just can't wait!

So, tonight, I am grateful for things to look forward to and be excited about! And yes, mock me if you must, but I am grateful for Jon Bon Jovi, grateful for his tossled, yet perfectly placed hair, his leather pants that are now fringe free, his dazzeling smile, and all the Boxtox he's clearly had that has kept him wrinkle-free and looking so good....

And of course, for his band (especially Richie and that black hat he wears, because every good front man has to have a cool side kick), for their music of then and now that I love to hear, and finally for the fact that they're getting back out on that steel horse to see a million more faces, and "rock them all!" Can't wait!