After 12 months of waiting, wearing out the c.d., and telling and retelling the story, the day finally arrived: "Nutcracker Day." It actually started off as every other Saturday morning, the four of us loading up in pajamas and driving to the local bakery for "Donut Day". When we pulled up our driveway, car full of the sweet aroma of fried dough, Caroline burst out into tears saying, "I don't want to go home! I want to go to the Nutcracker!" But not too long after, with tummies full and new Christmas dresses on, we were out the door to Atlanta's beautiful Fox Theatre. The weather was freezing, the lights downtown were glistening, the orchestra was wonderful, and the ballet was everything that the past year has built it up to be. Caroline (my non-sitter-stiller) was captivated on the edge of her seat and both girls woke up this morning talking of Clara, Fritz, and the Rat King. (well, they've been doing that for a year now but today Caroline had more to contribute after seeing it with her own eyes!) They are already talking about next year. Thank you, Chad, for the perfect Christmas present: sweet memories with my girls!
So, here is the situation: I've tried to perfect the best time to get to the mall to get the girls' on Santa's lap for three years straight. Our first year here, we went after afternoon naps-- by the time that the girls were up, dressed, and through the mall parking lot, we got to the magical Santa photo-op kingdom just as they were putting the chains up with the woman saying, "sorry! We have to stop here for Santa to get dinner." What?! It was only 4:30!! But the line in front of us was forever long and I guess that ol' Saint Nick would need a break by the time that the end got to him. So I pleaded with the elf-dressed-lady, and I guess that she had some pity for me- this woman who was still trying to figure out how to balance life with a toddler and a newborn. So we stood in the long line, got the picture, and left around (they were right!) dinnertime.
Last year, I opted to go one weekday morning after Caroline's morning nap. There were LOTS of kids there on field trips (I don't remember ever taking a field trip to the mall to visit Santa!), but the girls were older, and handled it well.
So, I wanted to repeat the same thing this year. I guess I didn't factor in the fact that Caroline no longer takes morning naps. We got there right at 10:00 and nuzzled in line right behind about 50 kids in matching t-shirts (another field trip). Suddenly, another elf-dressed-lady was tapping my back saying, "Sorry, ma'am. This is a special group with an appointment. Santa doesn't do pictures until 11:00." I guess I didn't seem as desperate this year, because I was sent away with an hour to kill with two girls who really didn't understand why 50 other kids could see Santa, but they couldn't. After riding the carasol and playing at the fountain for about half an hour, we finally just sat ourselves down outside the chain to ensure our place in line. When we were finally granted entrance into that magical Santa photo-op kingdom, there was indeed quite a line already forming behind us. The girls were giddy with excitement. They were practicing what they would say to Santa. They were laughing and I was feeling the Christmas spirit. Then we turned the corner and saw Santa, and they lost it. Aly was pulling on and hiding behind my pants, Caroline was screaming bloody-murder and burying her head in my shoulder. I let another family ahead of us so the girls could see that the old man really was safe. Finally, Aly went over and sat on his lap and started shyly listing what she hoped to get for Christmas. And this was where I made my fatal mistake: I took out my camera to take a picture of the moment. I snapped one really cute one, then Caroline started going crazy again. I could feel myself sweating. People behind us were getting frustrated. The elf-dressed-lady was trying to hurry us along and even Santa seemed a little impatient. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I threw my camera over to the stroller and sat down (for the second year in a row) next to Santa, my hair unwashed, my outfit not so cute, and my crying child. There, got the picture. The only problem is that I do not have the same basketball skills as my husband so the camera that I tried to throw into the stroller landed about a foot shy on the hard, mall floor.
So, again, for the third time this year, my camera is broken and unable to download pictures to my computer. Perfect timing: who needs a camera around Christmas?!? Chad's been on a roadtrip for several days, so he has yet to hear the disappointing, yet somehow unsuprising news that our family is again camera-less. Who'da thought motherhood could be such a contact sport?!
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with Nana and Papa! As I wrote in my last post, they drove all the way from New York to see us, spent two days, and drove back. And we enjoyed every last minute of it! Thanks for coming-- we love y'all!
Reading The Polar Express
The tired cousins after a long Thanksgiving Day!
Carriage Ride Downtown
Caroline and "My Nani"
The cousins on the carriage
Two days ago was Rome's annual Christmas Parade. 100 floats, bands, clowns on bicycles and more make their way down Broad Street, followed at last by Santa Clause. We went with friends Lizzy and Sam and the kids loved every part of it...especially being out past bedtime! When I asked what their favorite part was, Aly said, "the cymbals and drums" and Caroline said, "When the horse went poo-poo!" (the beautiful Clydesdale horses stopped right in front of us and, er, used the restroom, so to speak! The kids thought that and the shoveling of the poop was just hilarious!)
Last Thursday was the girls' last day of school and also their Thanksgiving program. Caroline's class was turkeys and Aly's was pilgrims! They sang a couple of cute songs and then we had a 'feast'!
We are ecstatic over at our house today: Daddy coached his last game before Thanksgiving last night so he is finished for a few days, holidays are in the air, and best of all: Nana and Papa are coming to visit tomorrow!! We knew they couldn't stay away until the baby comes in February! Thank goodness, because we need to see them! They should be leaving NY about an hour ago, and pulling into our driveway about dinnertime tomorrow night!
The girls' Nana and Papa live in New York. Stinks. But Papa has meetings in Birmingham this next week, so he flew in early to get some special time with the Warner family! The girls had been counting down the days until his arrival as if it were Christmas; on Friday morning when Caroline woke up, she asked, "Today Papa Day?!" Once he got here, they wouldn't allow him to be in a room by himself (I found Caroline laying face down on the floor outside his bedroom this morning while he dressed!) They followed him around like puppies and were giddy at his tickling hands coming to get them throughout the visit! While he was here, he witnessed two basketball games, lots of dances, Aly's tendency towards moodiness, Caroline's frequency towards being oblivious to rules, but also lots of laughter, cuddling, and playing. We are so thankful that he made the trip, and can't wait until February when he comes back and brings Nana with him!
The season is officially here! It has been disguising itself as "Conditioning" since August and "Practice" since September, but last night the boys took the court for the first real game. Chad does a tremendous job of compartmentalizing: work at work, home at home. But I've been able to tell that the season has been creeping up on him as each day there has been more and more of that blank stare where, though I know we may be talking about one thing, his mind is racing with drills, plays, and statistics of some upcoming opponent!
We won our opener last night; for as much as I wish the season could end now with a 100% winning percentage, we have another tonight and again Monday. Well, here we go! Go Hawks!!
If you're interested in reading up on the team, you can browse through the media guide here and then click "complete version".
Is fall not the best time of year?! As if the weather and beautiful leaves were not refreshing enough, it seems like there is always something to look forward to in this new world of 'life with kids'.
I remember that before kids, I would carve a pumpkin each year and literally spend 30 minutes getting it cleaned out completely before spending another hour and a half or more carving an artistic face into it. Now it's a race to keep attention (and to keep orange pulp from traveling around the house!) This year, I had to laugh out loud as the girls' differences showed themselves so clearly. After the top was cut off, I tried to get the girls to pull the pulp out. Aly touched it with the tips of about two fingers and then sat back and said, "I'll just sit here until we make the face. I don't want to get messy." Caroline, on the other hand, had her entire arm to her shoulder in the pumpkin (I had already stripped her down...I know my daughter!) As I was picking seeds out of the pulp, I heard a muffled little voice and looked over to find her head in the pumpkin, singing a little song! I looked over at Aly who just smiled and said, "Caroline's crazy."-- a typical response to her little sister!
The girls' school had "Farm Day" last Friday. The kids were encouraged to dress up as cowboys/girls or farmers. Aly and Caroline got in the car the day before and announced that they were going to be a kitty and a duckie. This actually worked out well for me, as we don't own boots, overalls, hats, or anything so "un-princess-like". This is what we came up with:
The Kitty and the Duckie
Shakin' those little tail-feathers
A group of friends and I have been scheduling a visit to a great pumpkin patch/ corn maze farm just outside of town for almost a month. It seems that our plan has been deterred each Friday with rain. We finally made it last week, just in the knick of Halloween-time! It was cold, crowded, and REALLY windy, but the kids all had a blast! And once I was home with 2 napping girls and a hot cup of tea, I could admit that I had a great time too!
The wind-blown kids
And finally Halloween. This is definitely the year that the girls "get" what was going on, and they had one of the longest days having to wait. I woke up with a case of pink-eye: my eye was so crusted-over and swollen that I fit the day well as a ghoul! Aly wanted to be a ballerina, an outfit she's worn 4 days a week for almost a year. So to make her "costume" a little more special, we bought the glitter make-up she's been eyeing on the Halloween aisle of Wal-mart for a month now. They were definitely more excited about wearing the make-up than any other part of the Halloween festivities!
As I've written before, for a Christmas present last year Chad got me (what turned out to be) the ULTIMATE gift: tickets for Aly and me to attend The Nutcracker in Atlanta. I've said that since then, Aly wears her ballerina outfit at least 3 days a week, pretends to be Clara everyday ("I'm Clara in the morning and Superman after nap"), counts down the days until her weekly dance class, and wants to listen to nothing but The Nutcracker Suite c.d. in the car. Whether Caroline wanted to our not, the fact that she absolutely looks up to everything that Aly does has made her just as much of a Nutcracker fanatic. So, when Atlanta Ballet called with a ticket deal for three ballets for what we paid for one last year, the Ballerina Daddy jumped on it and presented me with this year's Christmas present: tickets for the girls and me to attend not only the beloved Nutcracker, but also Pinnochio and Cinderella!
With all that said, Saturday was the big day for Pinnochio (and Caroline's first ballet ever!) The girls put on the dresses they've been asking to wear all summer, made the drive to Atlanta, and did a wonderful job. Caroline is still too young to have mastered the art of whispering, but even her questions were all about what she was watching, ("where Pinnochio now?!) which just made me smile. We grabbed a milkshake on the way home at Steak n' Shake (everyone's favorite!), and made it home, excited to tell Chad all about it.
My next goal: weaning The Nutcracker c.d. from every carride... poor Jack will come into this world doing plies and arabesques!
Dressed and ready for the big day
Riding in 'boats' (theatre booster seats) before the show started
Just a couple other pictures from the week...
Sit-and-Spin: the coveted toy of choice
Watching a Superman tribute on YouTube (yes, two BIG crushes on Christopher Reeve, aka Clark Kent, aka Superman)
Our family went to the local pumpkin patch on Sunday to pick out our pumpkin, which the girls are just dying to make into a jack-o-lantern right now! As I got home and downloaded the pictures, something occurred to me that I never thought possible even a year or two ago: we have a family picture in the same patch of pumpkins for THREE CONSECUTIVE YEARS!!! Some might call that just a typical Halloween tradition, but it struck me as remarkable to our family! In the years that we have been married, Chad and I have never lived somewhere for three years! In Aly's first year and a half of life, we had lived in 3 different cities in 2 different states and 4 different houses! And now a pumpkin patch picture for three consecutive Halloweens? Now that's stability if I've ever heard it! And even more surprising to me is the fact that I'm enjoying this stability. For the first 5 years that we were married, I loved the fact that we were moving, changing jobs, meeting new friends; there was a part of me that worried that I must be part Nomad (sorry Chris, if that's not politically correct!!) After our first year here, I started assuming we were leaving and getting that itch to start packing boxes. But looking at these pictures just confirms to me that we are so blessed to live in a wonderful town, where Chad has a job he loves, attending a church with exciting growth, surrounded by friends who we're creating roots with! Yes, we are rooted in this community and I couldn't be happier! I guess my days of being a Gypsie (again, sorry Chris!) are over!
It's been another week of rainy weather here in Georgia, so what better way to keep from getting cabin fever? Do a little traveling! And traveling we did. Chad started practice almost 3 weeks ago, but we have about 2 more weeks before games start, so we took advantage of a less-crazy schedule. As an early birthday present, Chad surprised me with tickets to the Georgia/ Tennessee game in Knoxville. It's been a tradition of ours' to go to this game since we were engaged (as it's usually the last one we can attend before our season starts.) We had a great time, regardless of the loss!
Our good friends from Virginia, the Smiths, now live in Sewanee, TN. Chad's team was having a retreat at the school Monday night and Tuesday so the girls and I tagged along and stayed with the Smiths and their FOUR kids! Cortney is one of my closest friends, so I try to take advantage of spending even a little time with her. When we first met the Smiths, they had one child and we had none; over the years, the kids have increased, the ability to carry on sane conversations has decreased, but we love them more and more!
Late-night ice cream cones
Smiling for the camera
And out with the old, in with the new... Caroline had her surgery today to remove her old (no longer effective!) ear tubes, replace them, and remove her adenoids. The poor girl has been sick since July, so hopefully this will give her some relief. The doctor said that one of her eardrums was about to rupture and her adenoids were enormous...so I guess that it was worth it...again!!
Pre-surgery pose (this is always her face in pictures because she says "cheesburger" everytime the camera comes out...I think I always catch in mid "urger"
This next picture is after she received her "happy medicine", before taking her away for her IV--she kept thinking there was something on the wall! And then she would use both hands to open my mouth and ask, "Is dat Baby Jack?" over and over! Bless her bones!
We told the girls last night that we would be going to the fair tonight, and they have looked so forward to it (calling it everything from 'the circus' to 'the zoo'!) that they have asked when we were going from that moment on! We finally made it, and we had a great time. Chad and I knew that one of the girls would be brave and the other scared...However, we could have never guessed that it would be the careful, cautious Aly who wanted to ride even the fastest, highest rides while Caroline, who usually considers the consequences only after running through the wall, would be absolutely frightened! But she did finally decide to ride the Ferris Wheel and laughed and screamed the whole time. The highlight of Aly's night was riding the very fastHimalaya with Chad. I took a picture of her standing on tiptoes while the Carney measured her! Many rides, empty pockets, tummies full of fair food, and a tearful good-bye later, we can't wait to go back next year!
Don't let the smile fool you: the Carney had to stop the ride to let the crying Caroline off!
I know that I've posted about this before, but I really feel like we get sick a lot around here. Someone is sick every week! We went to get flu shots on Thursday and the receptionist checked us in by name, and double-checked our address and insurance information- all without having to ask me a single question, then followed it by, "I feel like I know y'all well!" Aly has a high fever, her second bout with this in a month. And poor Caroline lost the tube out of one of her ears this summer and has had 4 straight ear infections...in just that ear! She is getting a second set of tubes in and her adenoids out in two weeks; hopefully that will get her through the winter! Just as a footnote, Caroline also started running a fever before bed! I really am not complaining- I just hate it for these kids! Here is a picture of our pitiful patient tonight:
But, all is not fevers and earaches... here are a few pictures from our past week or two:
Daddy and the girls before "Daddy's Dessert" night at school
Face painting at Alumni Weekend (for Chad's 15 year high school reunion!!)
Posing with cousins William and Warner in front of a HUGE dump truck