Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's Finally Here!


The day I've waited for has finally arrived!  Jessi is going to school!  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE her with all my heart and am truly blessed to be a stay-at-home-mom these past (nearly) 7 years.  For the past four years for at least a few hours a day (until John went into all day kindergarten) it's been just me and Jessi during the day.  She's a pretty spirited little girl.  Very imaginative and lively.

All my children stopped taking regular naps by a year and a half old, so I've rarely had any "quiet" time during the day in YEARS!  Jessi's always wanted to go to school and often plays "school" with her dolls, barbies or stuffed animals.  She pretends to be the teacher and her toys are her students.  She really has quite the imagination.  The day has come for her to venture out into a small piece of the world and begin a new chapter in her childhood.  A chapter filled with learning her "A B C's", "1 2 3's", learning how to write her name, read books, make master pieces during art, interact with other children, build friendships and learn rules and schedules.

I'm excited to find out how her first day of Pre-K went!

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day Of School

My son is off to his first day of 1st grade!  This is typically a child's second year of school, most starting in Kindergarten, some even as early as Pre-K.  Not my boy.  This is his 4th year of schooling.  He began at age 3 in the 'Head Start' program.  It may have only been a few hours a day for four days a week, but, he's pretty much a pro at this going to school thing :)

He's come so far in these past four years and overcome pretty intense speech difficulties and I'm so proud of him.  I'm so blessed to be able to call him my son and I love him more than words can express.  Here's to a new and exciting school year!

New Grade, New School

My baby girl is growing up.  She's no longer the pudgy cheeked little girl missing baby teeth.  Today she's a more mature, developed young lady.  Tabytha is going into her first day of middle school.  Her days start earlier, she'll have to learn to navigate several different classrooms throughout the day and have more homework to bring home.  She's eager to start this new adventure and at the same time a little weary of what awaits her.  

I have every confidence she will find her way and flourish in her studies.  I'm so proud of the young lady she's become and am often complimented on how kind and sweet she is.  I'm truly blessed to have her as my daughter.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Family Vacation

My family and I just got home from an amazing week in Ocean Isle, NC.  Charlie and I have had this big family vacation planned since April.  Charlie, me, our 3 kids, Charlie's mom, my parents, my sisters, my grandma and my great Aunt Joan were all going to vacation together for a week.  I was beyond excited about this.  I haven't been to Ocean Isle since I was nearly 15!  The day FINALLY came for us to pile into the van and make the 500 mile drive from our house to the condo we'd be staying at in NC.  My mother-in-law came with us while my parents, sisters, grandma and great Aunt drove down separately in 2 other cars.  

Charlie and I loaded up all the luggage and beach supplies Friday evening so all we'd have to do Saturday morning was get in the van and go.  Saturday morning Charlie and I woke up and got everyone else up and ready and we were on the road at 5:45am.  We made a stop for doughnuts, coffee and juice about 30 minutes into the drive and made our way down the road again.  About 30 minutes after getting breakfast the AC in the van stopped working.  Already an hour into our 9 hour drive and we've hit our first snafu.  Fortunately we were in Annapolis and made a stop at Advanced Auto to get a Freon kit.  The gauge on the can of Freon said what we had in the van was correct.  Charlie could only figure the compressor was going bad.  We decided to keep going.  While all of this is going on I'm not feeling well and can't hear out of my right ear.  I considered stopping at a CVS Minute Clinic on our way, but, decided against it for sake of time.  After sitting in hours of traffic through Virginia (most of which was spent with no AC in the van) we finally made it into NC.  We were half way there!  Our GPS got us off track a little bit, but after all day driving we arrived at the Realtor's office to pick up our condo keys.  Another 5 minutes of driving to the condo and we turned the key to our home for the week around 7pm.  (Yes, that would be over 13 hours on the road, heavy traffic and no AC).  I have to give a big shout out to my kids, though.  Despite the heat, sweating, traffic and endless hours in the van during our drive they were amazing!  I anticipated a day filled with fighting and crying and there was barely a peep out of anyone!  Shortly after we arrived my parents arrived at their condo (a few condo buildings over from where we were staying).  We got our luggage up to our condo and started settling in.  My mother-in-law and I headed out to the local grocery store to pick up some food for the next day while Charlie kept an eye on the kids and got all the beds made.

Sunday morning started with Jessi and I heading to Myrtle Beach, SC (30 minutes from where were staying) to get checked out at a CVS Minute Clinic.  I still couldn't hear out of my right ear and now had a steady stabbing pain in it.  Jessi had been coughing since the day before.  We checked in and were seen immediately.  My diagnosis was sinus infection and ear infection.  Jessi's diagnosis, a little surprisingly, was the beginnings of a double ear infection.  We got our antibiotics and headed back to the condo.  We took our first doses of medication and met up with Charlie, Betty and John at the pool (Tabytha had gone with my parents to Church).  The rest of Sunday was spent at the pool and checking out the beach.

Monday was much of the same, except my dear friend and her family were also vacationing in NC the same week as us!  She and her family meet up with us at our beach and our kids had a blast together!  All of us splashing and playing in the ocean, laughing together and just having an all around great time.  My friend and her family came up to our condo and had lunch with us.  I intended to make soft tacos and was quickly replaced at the stove by my friend's husband who finished cooking the meat while I smeared bagels with cream cheese for some of the kids that didn't like soft taco's.  Unfortunately after lunch my friend and her family had to head back to catch the ferry back to where they were staying, but, we had a great time together.  Hubby, the kids, Betty and I went back down to the pool for a little while longer.  Dinner was at my parent's condo where were greeted with a feast!  Mom made salad, spaghetti, homemade meat sauce (with cracked eggs cooked in the sauce - my FAVORITE) and garlic bread and a German Chocolate cake for dessert.  You'd think with 12 people there wouldn't be any leftovers, especially when many of us had seconds, but, there was a little sauce and spaghetti left after we were all sufficiently stuffed.  After dinner we enjoyed more conversation and time with each other before we headed back to our condo to get the kids to bed.  Around 11pm we asked my mother-in-law if she didn't mind Charlie and I taking a walk out on the beach to star gaze.  (There was a meteor shower and I was hoping to catch a glimpse).  She didn't mind staying behind with the kids, who were all fast asleep.  Charlie and I walked to the beach to enjoy the sound of the crashing waves, the cool breeze and starry night.  How fortunate for us that we ran into my sister, Bethany, who was coming out to the beach to also catch a glimpse of the meteor shower.  She went back real quick to her condo (which was a little closer to the beach than ours was) to get a couple extra camping chairs for Charlie and me.  The three of us sat on the beach staring up at the sky and chatting away.  Bethany and Charlie saw the first couple streaks in the sky (I was busy wiping away ocean mist from my glasses).  About 20 minutes went by before I finally saw one.  We sat out on the beach together for about an hour watching the sky.

Tuesday Charlie, Betty and I had plans to meet up with my parents and sisters to go to Myrtle beach and enjoy a day at the "Family Kingdom Amusement Park".  We got down there to find out the amusement park didn't open until 4pm and it was only 10:30am!  Tabytha had driven down with my parents and youngest sister, Hannah and my other sister, Bethany, rode with us.  My parents didn't want to wait around until the park opened up and decided to head back to the condo (with Hannah and Tabytha) to go out on the beach, play in the pool and go play miniature golf.  We decided to stay (since we'd driven an hour to get there) and Bethany stayed with us.  We passed a place that takes people on helicopter rides, so we went back there to check it out.  My mother-in-law, Betty, did not want to go up in a helicopter and happily stayed on the ground while I got myself, Charlie, John, Jessi and Bethany signed up and paid for.  We had to be split up because the helicopter could only hold 4 people and one was the pilot.  Charlie and John went together and Jessi, Bethany and I went together.  Our names were called and we were shuttled to the helipad.  Charlie and John were first to go up.  Next up was Jessi, Bethany and me!  We were so excited.  We got in our seats and up we went.  Jessi got to sit next to the pilot.  The pilot took us over the ocean and along the coastline.  We had a lot of fun and saw some beautiful scenery.  The ride was over much sooner than we wanted, but, we met up with the rest of our group and headed off to lunch.  After lunch we actually went to a small used car dealer and bought a suburban (after the 13 hour trip with 6 people and a week's worth of luggage, beach supplies and linens with no AC you realize how cramped a minivan can actually be).  The dealership couldn't afford to buy our van from us, so, we're stuck with that for the time being.  The rest of our time would be traveled in air conditioning!  By the time we were done with the paperwork for the suburban the Amusement Park was ready to open for the evening.  We made it back and got the kids wristbands for unlimited rides and a book of tickets for us grownups to go on a few rides with the kids or by ourselves.  Bethany and I went on the big roller coaster together :)  We spent about 5 hours at the amusement park and I'm fairly certain John and Jessi rode EVERY ride they were tall enough to get on.  It was a blast!  Bethany treated Jessi to an ice cream and Betty treated John to popcorn at the end of the night.  The last thing we did before we left was the Ferris Wheel.  Charlie, Betty, John and Jessi rode back to the condo in the comfort of the new air conditioned suburban while I chose to drive the van and Bethany was kind enough to keep me company.

Wednesday we checked out the Planetarium and got to see a laser show in the morning.  Then we headed to a little place I had been to as a kid called "Calabash".  It's like an enclosed 'flea market' of sorts and it's nothing particularly special, just a place to find some neat trinkets, souvenirs, tee shirts, post cards and such.  After Calabash we went back to the condo, played in the pool, had dinner and then went to the local North Carolina Museum.  The local fire dept was there, too!  Tabytha, John and Jessi got to use the hose and spray into the pond.  Inside the museum were displays filled with shark jaws, whale bones, local animal displays and even a "Touch Tank" where people are encouraged to explore a man made pond with their hands.  Inside the tank was a horseshoe crab, blow fish, hermit crabs, starfish and ocean vegetation.  The kids had a lot of fun with the several "hands on" displays in the museum.

Thursday was pretty much spent at the pool or on the beach.  We got a few rain showers, but, spent the day just being with each other and relaxing.  I made dinner for the 6 of us, plus my parents, sisters, Grandma and great Aunt.  I made cheese stuffed meatloaf, mashed potatoes and rice.  My mother-in-law bought a cheesecake sampler for dessert for everyone to enjoy.  After my parents, sisters, grandma and great aunt went back to their condo we kicked back and relaxed in the condo watching some TV before going to bed.  

Friday was pretty much a wash out due to rain.  The morning was dry enough to head out to the pool for a little while.  Charlie took Tabytha to the pier to go fishing, I walked the beach and collected sea shells, Betty, John and Jessi hung out at the pool.  By lunch time the rain had come and didn't show signs of letting up.  We went back to the condo and I did some laundry and started packing up.  The rain got us thinking that we'd just leave that night instead of waiting around, going to bed and waking up super early to get on the road.  So, the beds were stripped and linens packed up along with our clothes in their suitcases.  The van and suburban were loaded up and around 6:30pm we said our goodbyes to my parents, sisters, grandma and aunt Joan and headed down the road.  Charlie drove the van with his mom keeping him company while I drove the suburban with the kids.  This time the ride wasn't as long and there was no traffic to be found going through Virginia.  The kids slept for a few hours during the drive and we arrived home around 3am.  We didn't bother unloaded any of the luggage (except for the toiletry bag so we could all brush our teeth before heading to our beds).  The kids were tucked in, my mother-in-law went off to bed (in the bottom bunk in Tabby's room) and Charlie and I chatted a little bit with our friend who stayed at our house during the week to take care of our dog, Bo.  It was a little after 4am before Charlie and I finally headed to bed.

It was a fantastic week filled with so many fun and exciting things.  I'm certain Tabytha will remember all the fun we had and I'm pretty sure John will be able to remember many of the fun things we did.  Jessi may have vague memories as she grows up and I know that I will never forget this week!  (taking over 100 pictures will help when I'm old and dementia sets in, lol!).  The thing I especially loved is the fact that I'd been to Ocean Isle a couple times as a child with my parents and siblings and now having this chance to go back with my own children made it even more special.  I had the unique opportunity to experience this vacation through two vantage points.  I could relate to the excitement of my children going to this great place because I remember how exciting it was being a kid and going there and now, as a parent, I can understand my parents point of view in watching my children enjoy being there just like my parents saw my brother and I as kids.  What an added blessing it was to have my Grandmother, Great Aunt, my parents, sisters and my husband's mother with us as well!  You couldn't ask for anything better!  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Birthday Beach Weekend

My husband's birthday is in the middle of July.  For the past few years we've celebrated it by going to the beach for a day.  This year was no different, although this year we made it a weekend.  We headed down Thursday after Charlie got home from work.  When we woke up Friday we made our way to the 'Jolly Rogers Water park'.  I brought a waterproof disposable camera with me.  

When we got into the water park I applied sunblock to everyone.  The kids were ready to go.  Tabytha went off to do water slides she likes, Charlie took John on water slides he was tall enough to go on and Jessi and I spent the day in the kiddie pools and small water slides.  We always have a great time while we're there.  This year I was able to enjoy a lap around the lazy river :)

After nearly 5 hours at the water park it was time to head back to the apartment we were staying at.  Everyone got cleaned up and we went out to dinner.  Once our bellies were full Charlie, the kids and I found our way to the inlet to have some fun at "Trimpers", a small amusement park the kids love!  Trimpers has dozens of rides and roller coasters designed for young children.  John and Jessi always have a great time when we go.  Tabytha is old enough (and tall enough) to go on the grownup rides and roller coasters.  She was able to go on a couple by herself.  She and I always go on one particular roller coaster together, it's "our thing" to do at Trimpers.  Charlie isn't much on roller coasters so he pretty much just watches the kids from the sidelines.  I'm ever present with my camera and finger on the trigger watching the kids squeal with delight and have fun.  

It was late when we were done at the amusement park and went back to the apartment for some shut eye.  Saturday was spent at Tower Beach playing in the sand and splashing in the ocean.  Jessi doesn't like going in the ocean and likes to spend her time at the beach playing in the sand.  John and Tabytha both love splashing around in the ocean with Charlie.  I'm content to sit under the shade of the canopy and relax watching everyone have a good time.

I used up the film in the disposable camera and had it developed a couple days after we got home.  Not all the photo's turned out as nice as I'd hoped, but, that's how it goes sometimes when you use a film camera rather than a digital.  I still love film cameras and did get some pretty good pictures of the kids while we were at the water park and the beach.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th Of July Fun

The past few years we've been happy celebrating the 4th of July staying put at home.  I've felt that John and Jessi have been too young, and therefore, unable to have the patience needed to drive somewhere, find parking, walk to the 'perfect spot' and sit in the hot sun for hours surrounded by throngs of people waiting for the sun to go down to enjoy a 15-20 minute firework show.  Come to think of it, my husband doesn't have the patience, either.  (hahaha!)

Last year and this year Charlie's been part of the 4th of July parade with the fire dept in Smyrna, DE.  So, we've had that to do.  After the parade we come home and enjoy splashing around in the pool to keep cool.  We do burgers and hot dogs on the grill and usually a friend or two will stop by and hang out with us.  

The past 3 years we've gotten our own "Fireworks" to do in our front yard.  It's a lot of fun having our own personal firework show.  The kids laugh and squeal as the fireworks burst with showers of light.  I always sit back and take pictures and Charlie (along with whoever is hanging out with us) set them up and light them.  I really like our little tradition.  Because it's ours and not something we share with hundreds of other people.  It makes it just a little more special and I hope these are some of the things my kids will look back on and smile at when they think back on their childhood and remember how we did the 4th of July.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Picture Worth The Wait

I've always loved a good thunder storm.  I think lightning is especially beautiful.  Like our finger prints, no streak of lightning is ever the same.

Over the years I've taken several pictures of lightning from the comfort of my front porch.  I'm often asked "How did you get that picture?".  It's all about being ready and being patient.   I watch the storm for a few minutes to get a general idea of where the most lightning strikes are happening.  I turn on my camera, hunker down in my seat with my finger on the camera 'trigger' and wait.

I usually watch through the viewfinder and as soon as I see the hint of lightning I snap a picture.  I don't always get the shot on the first, second or even third try.  But, I don't give up.  I sometimes get distracted in the lightning itself and forget to even take the picture.

Of all the pictures I've taken of lightning, this one has to be, by far, the most incredible one I've taken to date.  That streak of lightning is literally cutting through a tree across the street from my house.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ocean City Firemen's Parade

Charlie has been out of work due to a work related injury he sustained several weeks ago.  This has left him with nothing to do during the day and he's not one to sit around and watch tv all day.  He's spent a lot of his recovery time hanging out at the firehouse, even though he's been unable to go on any calls.  

Every year Ocean City Maryland has a week dedicated to celebrating fire fighters and this year Charlie was off on the day of the parade.  He helped clean up one of the fire trucks that was taken to OC to be in the parade.

The kids and I drove down seperately because Charlie headed down early in the fire truck to get it ready for the parade.  We found Charlie and the other guys riding in the parade, said our hello's and then made our way to find a good spot to watch the parade.

We found our spot, set down the cooler, set up our chairs and waited for the parade to begin.  It seemed like forever went by waiting to get a glimpse of Marydel in the parade.  We enjoyed seeing some neat antique trucks, saw a bagpipe band, Smokey The Bear and even a pink fire truck!

We finally saw Marydel coming up the road.  The kids were excited and Charlie was in the passenger seat waving to us as they passed by.  It's always neat to see Charlie in a parade.  After the parade we met up with Charlie and they guys from the fire dept to wait for the award ceremony.  Hoping all the hard work the guys put into cleaning up the truck would pay off with a trophy.  When the time finally came, Marydel's name was called and they won 3rd place for best appearing Pumper Rescue!  

A super fun day seeing all the different fire trucks, enjoying the view bay side waiting for the award ceremony and Marydel Fire Co coming home with a new trophy.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Still Celebrating

Growing up my family knew how to extend a birthday or holiday.  We'd have our birthday with cake and presents at home of course and the next time we went to visit with my extended family (grandparents, aunts and uncles) we'd celebrate again with more gifts and another round of singing "Happy Birthday" or wishing each other "Happy Thanksgiving" or "Merry Christmas".

Now that I'm married and have children of my own, these things still take place.  John celebrated his 6th birthday with me, Charlie, Tabytha and Jessi a few days ago on his actual birthday, then we celebrated again when he invited a couple friends to go to Chuck-E-Cheese and spend the night Friday night and now again, today, with the grandparents, Aunts, Uncle and a cousin.

Since Charlie and I redid/renovated our house a few months back I have been looking forward to having my family and Charlie's family over now that there's plenty of room for everyone to gather in the living room and now in the kitchen/dinning room.  Charlie grilled burgers and hot dogs, the kids all played in the pool and we all enjoyed each other's company and good conversation.  I love when we can all gather together for these special times and I love that my kids are creating the same kind of wonderful childhood memories I have of my own childhood when all my family was together.

John Turns 6

June 5, 2007 Charlie and I welcomed a handsome, 8lb 12oz, 22 inch baby boy into the world and into our lives.  Today we celebrate his 6th birthday.  (He asked for cupcakes rather than a cake).

John asked to have 2 of his friends come over to join us at Chuck-E-Cheese and spend the night.  It was a great time!  We spent about 3 hours at Chuck-E-Cheese's playing all the games, winning tickets and eating pizza.  When we were done there we headed over to the firehouse Charlie volunteers at and all the kids got a ride through town in one of the fire trucks.  They were laughing and smiling the whole time.  It was getting late by the time we got home, but, they were all still full of energy and played for another hour before I got everyone settled down and ready for bed.

When John and his friends woke up Saturday morning they had breakfast and went straight back to playing where they left off the night before.  It was really nice having John's friends here to celebrate with him.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Growing Up

7 years ago, my oldest, Tabytha, began her academic 'career'.  Today she completes her elementary education and prepares to move on to middle school in the upcoming school year.

Looking back over the past 7 years I wonder, as all parents do, "Where did the time go???"  Each year I feel a little bit older knowing she's moving onto the next grade, but, still in elementary school.  Now Tabytha is finished with elementary and heading off to middle school.

I have a middle schooler!  I'm feeling even older now.  My old age aside, I'm so proud of the young lady Tabytha has grown into.  She's excelled in her studies throughout her time at elementary school and was rewarded during the 5th grade 'graduation' with the Presidential Award for Academic Excellence.  It's the award given to students who've kept a GPA of 3.5 or higher.  I knew she was going to get this award, but, she didn't know she was going to get it.  Watching the look of surprise on her face when her name was called was priceless.  I knew at that moment how she felt and understood in the same moment how my parents felt because I had received the SAME certificate when I 'graduated' 5th grade.

Tabytha has kept up her grades, made strong friendships and is well loved by all the staff at the elementary school.  I know she's excited by what she's accomplished and nervous about what to expect in middle school.  I know it'll be a difficult adjustment, but, I have no doubts she'll find her way and excel beyond what she thinks she can do.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fish On

Some of the guys at the fire house love fishing.  Charlie's been off work (work related injury) and has spent some time with his buddies when they've gone out fishing.  He used to go fishing occasionally years ago, before we met. 

Charlie went to Walmart while the kids were in school yesterday and bought them each a fishing rod.  Tabytha has been fishing before, but, John and Jessi have never been fishing.  They were super excited to try it.

Charlie took us to a pond close to our house after the kids got home from school.  Hooks were batted with worms and lines were cast out into the water.  The kids were having a great time.  Of course the first few casts didn't get any bites from the fish and they started getting discouraged.  A little more time passed and Tabytha got her first bite.  She hooked her first catch of the evening.  

A little while later John caught his very first fish.  He was ecstatic!  Laughing and cheering his catch.  He didn't even mind tossing it back in the water.  Jessi wasn't able to catch anything, but, she still had a great time.  When all was said and done Tabytha had caught a total of 4 fish and John was content with the 1. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Break From Reality

Charlie and I just returned home from a week away on a cruise.  It was fantastic.  We went with 2 other couples we're very good friends with.  My mother-in-law came to our house to watch the kids for the week we were gone.

Charlie and I boarded the Carnival Glory May 19th in Norfolk, VA after a 4 hour drive with Drea, Ronnie, Mike and Lisa from Mike and Lisa's house in Denton.

We found our room, unpacked and went exploring the ship.  We all met up for dinner together, ate, laughed and talked about the fun we were going to have throughout the week aboard the ship and at the beaches in the Bahama's we were sailing to.

Dinner each night was incredible.  We were fortunate to have the same waiter each night and he was beyond phenomenal.  Each night we were greeted with genuine smiles from the wait staff, they pulled the chairs out for each of us ladies, placed our cloth napkin in our lap and opened our menu for us.  The food on the ship was amazing.  Trying things we've never tried before and enjoying foods we have had before.

Tuesday morning our ship arrived in Nassau Bahamas.  Fortunately for the 6 of us, Drea's childhood nanny lives in Nassau and she gave us directions to a beach only the locals go to away from other tourists.  We found our way to the beach, set up our lounge chairs and enjoyed the crystal clear blue waters.  Ms. Elease met us there a couple hours later and it was a lovely reunion for Drea and me.  I haven't seen Ms. Elease in 16 years and she had a little difficulty remembering me specifically after so much time, but, she was thrilled to see ALL of us none the less.  Ms. Elease even called a friend of hers to bring us all lunch from KFC.  The sky opened up on us and we all took cover under some trees on the beach and chowed down on our fried chicken.  The rain was a bit of a bummer, but, it didn't dampen our spirits.  After lunch we caught another bus back into the city and did the tourist thing, snapping pictures and buying knick knacks from the locals.

After a couple hours of playing tourist we said our goodbye's to Ms. Elease and made our way back on the ship.  Wednesday morning we awoke in Freeport Bahamas.  We left the ship and found our way to another picturesque beach.  We were the first to arrive and had first dibs on the best spot to settle down on the beach.  Drea and I took about a million pictures.  After a couple hours the rains found us again and we took shelter inside the covered bar.  The rain cut our beach day short, again, so we took a bus back to port and got back on the ship.

Wednesday evening and all day Thursday were spent on the ship on our way back to Norfolk, VA.  There was a lot to do on the ship so we never had a chance to get bored.  We spent a little time in the casino (where I won $458!), saw a couple live shows, lounged around on the lido deck and ate more food than anyone should eat in a month (!!!).  Thursday afternoon/early evening before dinner we all went to one of the theaters to play bingo.  None of us won the $1,000 jackpot, but, we had fun.  After bingo was an onboard "Game Show".  We stayed for that and I was even chosen from the crowd to participate.  It was so much fun!  The team I was on didn't win the round, but, I went away with a small parting gift and awesome memories.

Charlie and I were more relaxed during our week on the cruise than we have been since we got married.  We came home with some trinkets from the Bahamas, spectacular pictures and a lifetime of unforgettable memories.  It was a truly wonderful and amazing time and I'm so glad we were able to enjoy it with each other and share the experience with our dear friends.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hubby's New Hobby

Ok, so being a volunteer fire fighter isn't exactly a "hobby".  My husband joined the nearby fire company about a year ago.  His father was a volunteer fire fighter for his entire adult life and now Charlie is following in his dad's footsteps and carrying on the tradition.  I'm so proud of him and proud to tell people my husband is a fire fighter.  Plus, he's super cute in all his gear :)

Charlie's gone through several training classes and in this picture he's participating "MVC" (Motor Vehicle Crash) training.  Learning how to use the Jaws of Life, how to cut the windshield out of a vehicle, how to break windows to get access to passengers trapped in the vehicle and so on.  The instructor allowed me to be there to photograph the training.

I actually learned a lot while observing and taking pictures.  Even though it was only a training session at the firehouse when anyone was using any equipment all joking was put aside and they were focused on the task at hand with the mindset that someone was in the vehicle needing rescuing.    

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Going From Caged Animal To Free Roaming

The picture on the top is the only one I got before the renovations really got started in my kitchen.  As you can see the counter top has been removed.  My kitchen and dinning room used to be divided by that ugly paneled cabinet and when I cooked I felt very disconnected from the rest of the house and in turn, disconnected from my family and friends.

The photo on the bottom right is my new kitchen layout with the cabinet and new counter top rotated and now running along the kitchen wall rather than jutting out from the wall.

The photo on the bottom left is my new view of the dinning room.  No longer am I cut off from the rest of the house while I'm preparing meals and the space is wide open for family and friends to actually join me in the kitchen and socialize comfortably without feeling cramped.

In the 4 weeks husband and I worked on our living room, kitchen and dinning room, I think my "new" kitchen/dinning room is my absolute favorite update.  It went from dingy yellow, baby blue counter tops, laminate wood flooring in the dinning room and linoleum in the kitchen and clutter on the walls to a welcoming wide open space of blue heaven, neutral counter tops (even a new set of cabinets along one wall making a nice 'buffet' style feel with extra storage in the cabinets for all my nifty kitchen gadgets and equipment), laminate wood flooring throughout the whole space, crown molding, framing out the entryway to the living room and beautiful wainscoting.

It was a grueling 4 weeks between limited hours after husband got home from work in the evenings, keeping up with getting kids on and off the bus for school, checking homework, cooking, attempted cleaning, running my regular errands along with countless trips for supplies to Lowe's and so on.  I know 4 weeks is NOT a long time for ALL the work we put into the house updating and renovating, but, throwing the day to day of life with a family it seemed like a very long time.  I wouldn't go back and change anything about it, though.  It was WELL worth the blood, sweat and tears and our house now feels like a home and I look forward to having family and friends come for visits and meals to share together with us.

Making Some Changes

So.  It's been over a year since my last post.  Not that I haven't had anything to post about.  I mean, come on, I have 3 children, a husband, wonderful family and awesome friends.  There's ALWAYS something to post about.  Anywho.  Instead of going back and trying to remember details of so many fun things my family and I did since my last post I'll just start from the big project my husband and I completed in this new year.  The picture on the left is the "Before" picture of our living room.  The picture on the right is the "After".

In the span of 4 hectic, messy, dusty, late night, debris filled weeks Charlie and I were able to soften up the look and feel of our living room.  Going from bold and in your face "Fabulous Red", a tiled corner (where a wood stove used to be), laminate wood flooring and a large area rug to a warmer and more neutral wall color, crown molding and carpeting.  We DID use some of the old laminate flooring for the entry of our house as a place to take off shoes and not muck up the new carpet as quickly.

I'm THRILLED with the new look and our friends and family who've been over and remember the "old" look have been very complimentary about the 'new' look.  It really feels like we've got a new house.  We also renovated our kitchen in the same 4 weeks we redid our living room, but, that's the next post :)