Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Holiday Fun

If you know me at all, you probably know that I am always on the look out for a bargain. This doesn't just hold true for groceries and clothes and such, it is also a fact for family fun. I try to keep abreast of the local activities going on around here in my city and the surrounding cities so we can have free or cheap fun each weekend together as a family. This was fortunate for me and the boys last weekend since my husband was out of town on business and I desperatley needed to keep these boys busy and happy. Lucky for us I had learned that our local Chik-Fil-A (right in front of my gym) was having a holiday celebration on Saturday morning.

As you can see my little boys got to meet both Santa and the Chik-Fil-A Cow and I got a free print of this photo and a photo frame. Clark hopped right up on Santa's lap but Curtis took a little coaxing and was only persuaded to stand next to Santa.

Then the boys got to make their own tree ornaments with supplies the restaurant provided. I was pretty amazed at Clark's ornament since he is much more into coloring than Curtis ever was at that age. I like the idea of having the boys make ornaments each year for our tree, but I don't always like doing crafts with my little short-attention-span offspring. So it was nice to knock this little bit of holiday tradition out in a fun and festive atmosphere instead of at home with a lonely and frustrated Mommy.

Santa gave the boys candy canes, which they both cherished, and he gave me many coupons for free kid's meals and milkshakes that I will happily use in the very near future (post workout milkshake anyone?)

I definitely recommend that anyone looking to keep a family happy on the weekends for little to no money search out local free and cheap activities. It seems like 2-3 weekends out of every month there is something fun going on around here, and on the off weekends there is always the farmer's market. I know my boys love running around and eating kettle corn while I shop for produce, and we all love supporting local farmers in the fresh outdoor air.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful for health and Disney world

Well, unfortunately, I have to report that the delay in posting the photos from our family Disney trip has been due to some pretty serious health issues for both Curt and I. The good news is that it is looking like we have it all in control now and while this holiday won't be remembered for it's large gathering of friends and family like so many others are, I can be thankful for hours of reading in bed and good family and friends who take care of my family when I am out of commision.

Just so you can get an idea of (and I can remember) the blast we had at Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom last week, here are a few highlights.

My guys all love the Teacups.

The holiday decorations at Disney were very pretty.

Mickey made sure that Clark got a good nap in the stroller.

The boys loved their edible Mickey ears. After all, who needs another hat when there is ice cream to be had.

And finally, a photo of the cutest 2 year old in the park.

We had the best time and can't thank my step-sister-in-law enough for taking us. I believe time spent together as a family is so precious and spending it in such a magical place was a really nice treat.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Baby is 2 now!

It's just hard to believe! I can remember giving birth to Clark like it was yesterday. It is possibly the most life defining experience I have ever had. Through the pregnancy and the natural birth I processed a lot and I couldn't be prouder of myself and my son. I consider it one of my biggest achievements in life.

We are having a big joint birthday party with friends this year since big brother will be turning 5 in just a few weeks, but we did have some family over to celebrate on the actual anniversary of his birth 11/11.

I do find it ironic that I have a son born on Veteran's day and one born on Pearl Harbor day. I certainly hope this isn't a sign that they will be joining the military, but if that is what they choose I will reluctantly support them. I used to think having their birthdays so close together and so close to the holidays was a drag, but honestly this year it's been really awesome. I am very nostalgic already this time of year and adding their birthdays into the mix just makes me even more so. I am already a pretty emotional person but this is the time of year that you will more likely than not find me sobbing happily over a gasoline commercial on tv...or even worse those sappy Publix commercials that usually start around this time of year. I can't help it, I live such a charmed life and sometimes the gratitude shows itself in tears of joy. Of course the biggest joys in my life are my sons and I consider myself super lucky to get to celebrate another year in the life of Clark Daniel.

Clark and Curtis helped me decorate the cake I baked for our family celebration. Both boys have a "one on the cake, one in my mouth" technique of decorating that they probably either learned from me by example or through my genetic coding. What can I saw, who can resist chocolate chips?

We think it turned out pretty nice and it certainly did taste yummy. In fact I just had another piece right now after lunch because the thing has been calling me from the fridge for 4 days now, and if you know me, you know I have little will power over sweets!

Clark did spent some time in the beginning of the week practicing blowing out his candles. We have a book with a picture of a boy blowing candles out on a cupcake and we read it every night for several nights in a row. Clark would get to that page and lean in and blow on the picture of the candles and then clap for himself in joy. I can't even do it justice how cute it is.

So when the big event came around boy was he ready. With only two candles, he didn't have much of a task in front of him, but he took it on with all of his focus.

Big brother enjoyed singing to his little brother and sharing his cake. I honestly think he was more excited about Clark's birthday than Clark was and I did overhear him in the week leading up to the birthday telling Clark about the cake they would have and the presents he would help Clark to unwrap. Curtis is an amazing big brother and has never really had any problems with jealousy or sharing with his little brother. It is almost as if they were destine to be brothers and grow together. The two seem to really enjoy spending time together and when Curtis is at school three days a week Clark asks about him often. It just warms my heart to see my dreams coming true like this for my family (ok, sorry,there goes the sappy nostalgic Tara again.)

Clark did receive a few gifts that night from his close family members. Curtis had lots of fun showing Clark where to tear the wrapping paper and he got some really fun gifts. His favorite seems to be this dancing rapping dog that Curtis picked out for him that sings "Hey shorty, it's your birthday, we gonna party like it's your birthday" over and over. It's very cute to watch him dance around like crazy to the rapping dog but I must admit I am already tired of hearing the darned thing.

My favorite gift is of course a hand made one. Clark's Paw Paw (step Grand Dad) made him this really cool wooden truck. I just love hand made gifts and this one comes with logs to haul that are actually made from Clark's old crib, which was recalled and given to Paw Paw to create with. So not only is it hand made, it is made of recycled wood! You can't get more green than that (or PC for that matter). I know my parents have been giving each other hand made Christmas gifts for years now and I'll always remember the Christmas we moved and we had to make all of our tree decorations from things around the house. There is just something about the love and simplicity of a hand made gift.

So here I am, days after his actual birthday, planning our family trip to Disney world tomorrow. Yes, you read that right, my step Sister-in-Law works for Disney and is able to get us in on Monday to celebrate both the boys birthdays! We can't wait to kick off this next year in our children's lives at the happiest place on earth. It is really fitting since I feel like the happiest person on earth these days!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Autumn in Florida

Autumn in Florida is a lot different that it is in NC or NJ, the two other states I've spend most of my life in. It is much cooler at night, but still really warm during the day here right now. I remember wearing thermals under my halloween costumes growing up, but down here we have to find short sleeve costumes because it is still in the 80's during the day. I'm used to it now after 8 years here, but it still is a little weird at times.

We also miss out on the changing color of the leaves down here. There are a few trees that get some color, but it is nothing like it is up north. Sometimes I get nostalgic for the colorful leaves and then I see film of people digging out of snow on the news and I remember how thankful I am to live in the tropics during all seasons of the year.

Recently we took a trip about 45 mins north of our town out into the country. We met some friends of ours at a Christmas tree farm that has autumn activities for the whole family. It was lots of fun.

Here you can see my baby boy smiling in the pumpkin patch at the farm. They had some really big pumpkins there and we all marveled at their size. I think this one probably weighed almost as much as my skinny little guy!

The boys got the opportunity to have pony rides while we were there and they both jumped at the chance.

Little Clark amazed me riding this pony named "Spooky" all by himself. I walked along side expecting him to get wobbly but he was very steady and focused the whole ride. Maybe he'll be a jockey when he grows up, he certainly is small enough right now!

Of course Curtis also got a turn to ride "Spooky" but his favorite thing about the farm was playing with his friends in the hay pit. It's amazing how much fun preschoolers can have with just a big pile of hay.

And finally here is a photo of the boys on the "Spider Train". It was a really bumpy ride but both boys loved it. They wanted to keep going and going.

So while we may not have vibrant leaves or cold winds, we do still have some aspects of Autumn here in Central Florida. The acorns all over my driveway remind me of the season enough every day even if the temperatures don't. There is a saying that says you should grow where you are planted and I feel pretty lucky to have planted my family in such a wonderful area.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009

I think my whole family agrees that this may have been the best halloween ever. We spent most of the morning carving pumpkins and decorating the house for our halloween party.

Here you can see my two boys helping my big boy carve our pumpkins. Little Clark is so funny because he doesn't like getting messy with the pumpkin guts. You can just see the "EWWW" look on his face.

And here is a shot of my perfect little halloween kitty. She hung out with us while we were carving pumpkins and drank the milk from the bottom of my cereal bowl. This is such a nostalgic time of the year for me so I can't help but marvel that I've now had Fani with me for about 14 years. We've been through a lot the two of us and are now living a very charmed life. She might be the only all black cat that brings good luck, not bad.

And here are a few cute shots of my boys out trick or treating after our awesome party . We had some of our favorite friends over for a cookout in the afternoon and some of them even stayed to trick or treat with us. It was a lot of fun having a big group to go out with and the kids did get pretty excited about going door to door and getting candy.

And here was the scene back at the house after trick or treating. Some of the bigger kids sat down to trade candy while the little kids marveled at the loot they got. It brings back memories of me and my neighborhood friends checking out our candy after hitting the old Yale Rd neighborhood back in the day. Some traditions never lose their magic!

All in all I'd say there's not much that could top this past week when it comes to halloween festivities. We went to a party with one group of friends, hosted a party with another, hit a cool pumpkin patch with a friend who lives just north of us (photos to come), and had a most awesome party here at our house with great food and fun. I think the only thing that could have made it better would have been the Phillies winning, but I'm confident we'll come back and take the Series, so no big deal!

Now I'm spending the day cleaning up and organizing so I can tackle our next celebration which will be my baby boy turning 2 on the 11th. My how time flies!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Patch 2009

We ended up taking a spontaneous trip to the pumpkin patch recently. It was an afternoon of crankies one day last week so I decided to see if the boys wanted to try on their halloween costumes. After they had the costumes on the crankies were still hanging around so, remembering a sign I saw earlier in the week for a pumpkin patch, I threw the boys in the car and took off hoping it would be fun and lift their spirits. Lucky for us this small yet friendly and cute patch had a rule that every kid in costume got to pick their own mini pumpkin to take home. This was especially nice since I didn't realize I had no cash in my wallet until I got there.

Here is my beautiful boy showing me the pumpkin he liked best.

Here the boys are w/o masks on. As you can see we have a Spiderman and a Venom Spiderman this year. It took a while to decide on costumes for Curtis as usual. He loves halloween so much and has a lot of trouble deciding what to be each year. We had planned to have them both dress as ghosts until a trip to Target got Curtis craving a store bought costume. I much prefer homemade costumes, but I also prefer happy children so I decided to pick my battles on this one. I really wanted the boys to dress as a team and I was able to convince Curtis to buy the Venom costume and Clark was happy to dress in Curtis' old Spiderman costume (garage sale $5 find :o). The Spidey costume is way too big on Clark still, but we rolled the sleeves and pants and I figure it looks good enough.

Here they are sitting in the hay with full costumes. We don't have a mask for Clark's costume so I think I might use some face paint on halloween. In fact I might try to convince Curtis to do the same since I hate having his beautiful face covered like this.

Here's Clark being the cutest darn Spiderman around.

And Curtis, posing for Mommy next to a big round pumpkin.

We're all really looking forward to our halloween party and trick or treating this weekend. I hope everyone out there has fun and stays safe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stuck home with sick kids...

...well not anymore, thank God. Curtis went back to school today! He was so happy and I think Clark enjoyed a nice relaxing morning grocery shopping and bike riding with Mommy. Over the past 4 days being stuck home with a sick kid I found myself having to think outside of the box for things to keep them both happy while here at home. You see my boys, like their Mommy, don't really enjoy sitting around at home watching TV. We are just outdoorsy people I guess, and getting out and being active and social really do keep all three of us happy and fulfilled during the week. So, while the ethical side of me knew that keeping my germy children away from the other healthy kids out in the world was the right thing to do, it went against every fiber of my intuitive self. This is where the outside of the box thinking came in. I had to come up with projects and activities and fun for the boys for 4 days straight here together at home! It might not sound too hard, but if you've never parented 2 young boys then don't judge so quickly!

Here is a photo of one of our craft projects. I took a little time at one point to clean up my bedside table and ended up with a pile of old magazines. So Curtis and I took out our scissors while Clark napped one afternoon and went about the task of finding photos of things we like to make collages of. Can you tell which one is his and which is mine?

And here is a photo of Curtis' new craft obsession. I don't know what these things are called but I remember making them when I was young. He really gets into making random designs and is so excited for me to iron them solid. Can you tell which one I made?

And here is a shot of a project we all made together. I really think this turned out kind of cute. I don't know why it makes me feel warm and fussy inside to see this road and town as interpreted by a 1.5 and 4.5 year old. I helped draw a few trees that they colored in and then we raced cars around the track they designed together. Good times!

And finally, a photo of our old lady kitty Fani. I included this because I came to realize this week just how much she sleeps. As we ran about between art projects and back yard baseball games she hardly even looks up as we whiz by. I know she is 16, which is like over 100 in cat years, but I still find it pretty amazing how much this cat can sleep. I guess I'm not the sleep champion of the house after all. Maybe I'll have to go work on that right now...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sick Brothers

Well, I haven't blogged lately because we've had the sickies off and on. Unfortunately I thought we were totally off and it seems we are back on again....maybe...Curtis was at 102.5 at 4pm but now at after 8pm is back down to 99 degree temp, so who really knows. This has been a crazy illness going back and forth like that, but we're making the best of it by hanging at home and watching old Tom and Jerry cartoons and playing bocce ball in the yard and the frogger plug in game my MIL gave us.

The boys are so cute together even when they are under the weather. They both get so fascinated with the thermometer. Here you can see Curtis checking his little brother's temp out in such a professional manner.

And of course along with a fever comes some special treats. In order to keep the boys hydrated when they are sick I give them some things I normally wouldn't, like Gatorade and jello. I try to avoid the dyes these things have in them, but while they are sick I make an exception and it usually does get them to perk up some and get some extra fluids in.

I believe this is a photo of Clark's first experience with Jello. I don't remember ever having him try it before, but I can't be 100% sure since my memory is clouded by life at home with two young boys. He honestly wasn't that thrilled and when I tasted it I could tell why. Maybe these premade cups aren't as good as the old fashioned kind.

I know we aren't the only ones around these parts suffering. I've heard rumors in Mommy groups and Preschool about viruses and flu and strep going around. I am not one to rush off to the doctor for every illness since it usually just ends in a $30 copay and the advice I already know....lots of rest and fluids. So here we are again with our cartoons and jello and frogger, fingers crossed that the crud leaves our house pronto.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Couples Get-A-Way

We decided when we got married that we would try to have a couples get-a-way each September around the time of our anniversary. Last year Clark was only 10 months old and still nursing so we had to skip it. The year before last I was 8 months preggo and while we did enjoy a few days on the gulf coast, I wasn't exactly the picture of comfort.

So, needless to say we were very excited to get away for two nights this year. We decided to go to the East coast this time so we could be within an hours drive in case the boys needed us for any reason. I didn't have a lot of luck getting a good recommendation for a hotel so we just drove over without any reservation figuring we would have good luck since it is off season right now. We ended up in Ormond Beach and found an affordable hotel that was nice and right on the beach.

We spent the majority of the time there sitting on the beach or splashing in the ocean. I really enjoyed the hours on the beach reading and writing uninterrupted. We also both had such a good time goofing off together in the waves. Add to that the fresh seafood dinners from a local spot recommended by the hotel clerk and you have two very happy people.

If you look closely you can see the moon in this one. What a joy to get to walk along the beach with my beloved under the beautiful moon.

This is the view I had for a good portion of the trip. I feel like the luckiest girl ever.

I highly recommend to every couple with children to plan a get-a-way every year. Even if just for two nights, the time both together and alone really replenished my soul and I came home ready to get back into the swing with my two boys. Of course the giant hugs I got when I walked in the door don't hurt either.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It's purplish pink

So for my birthday I got the idea that I wanted some new energy in my life. I came up with a list of three different ways I could achieve this new energy a month or so before the actual birthday. I thought about it a lot and then decided to discuss it with Curt a week or two before my b'day.

I decided that I either wanted to get a new dog, get a tattoo, or dye my hair a bright color.

As most of you know our beloved dog Sebastian died about 2 months ago at age 16. We were very sad and the house feels strange without a dog in it. I've had a dog in my house for the majority of my life and I do love animals so that is part of the reason this idea popped into my head. Plus I saw the cutest part German Shepherd part Shar Pei puppy at an adoption fair a few weeks ago and haven't been able to get him/her out of my mind since. He/she was only 10 weeks old and not ready for adoption at the time.

I also have been watching these tattoo shows on tv lately. I really get into the symbolism of the tattoos people get and naturally, being the creative person that I am, I came up with an idea for one I wanted. Now hold on a second before you freak out Mom....most people who know me know I am not a tattoo person. I've never had a desire to get one until recently because I just don't want to spend money on something I might not even like in a few years. But, I guess the subliminal advertising of the shows got to me and I kept thinking about this tattoo.

Then for reasons I don't know, the idea to dye my hair came to me. I saw a girl on a tv show (gosh it sounds like TV is such a bad influence on me) that had bright pink hair and I thought it looked cute on her. Right now I have no reason not to play with my hair since I don't have a job other than taking care of my family, so I figured now would be a safe time. On top of that I recently got a haircut that I don't really like so I thought maybe some color would make the hair more bearable. I kept thinking about this too over the course of a month or so, picturing myself with nice pink or purple or blue hair. It seemed fun and less permanent than the tattoo idea.

So before you ask, no I'm not having a mid life crisis. First of all I am only 34, and I plan to live way beyond 68, for sure. Second of all I am super happy with my life right now. I feel like I've gotten just about everything I've ever wanted and things are so joy filled around here most of the time. So if anything, being 34, it's a third life celebration thing and not a mid life crisis thing.

So as you can see choice number 3 won out. I don't like this photo at all, but there it is. My disclaimer is that I had just gotten home from both a yoga class followed by a trip to Costco with two young kids, so I was hot and tired. Anyone with young kids knows how a Costco trip can be.

Right away when I discussed it with Curt, he totally vetoed the new dog idea, and I really have to agree with him. It's just too soon and I'm actually really enjoying not having to vacuum up hair and pick up poopie all the time.

I really considered the tattoo for a while but kept having second thoughts on top of not wanting to spend the money. I think it was the permanence that really got me though. The idea I have seems really cool now, but what if I think it's stupid in 5 years. I have found some tattoos to be a little vain too and was afraid that I would be doing it for the wrong reasons. I still love looking at other peoples tattoos and hearing the stories behind them, but I think that I will probably never get one myself, and I am good with that.

So then I was left with the hair dye. I talked to Curt about it and then discussed it briefly with a few girlfriends. Apparently Curt thought I was joking and I think my girlfriends might have too, because when I bought the dye they all seemed a little shocked. I waited until a night when Curt was out working in the garage and just went for it. I had done a test swatch that afternoon and seen that it wasn't going to fry my hair or anything so I felt pretty safe.

Boy was it messy! I don't know how people do this all the time. I dyed my hair a few times in college, but it's been a long time, and I just don't remember it being this messy. I ended up scrubbing the whole shower stall at around 10:00pm at night because of it. So I doubt I'll be doing it again anytime soon.

Once I was done I felt invigorated and a little shocked myself. I went out to show Curt and he couldn't believe it. He really did think I was joking, but I'm glad to say that he really likes it. It came out a little more purple than I had planned, but I'm still pretty happy with it. It is semi-permanent dye and the girl at the store who sold it to me said that means it washes out over time. I'm thinking a few months. So this is perfect. A short time of fun hair and new energy to celebrate another year in my life!

In this photo you can't see the hair as well, but I had to post it anyway. Curtis took this photo of Curt and I and I really think it turned out kind of cute. Sometimes it's fun to see things from a kid's eye view.