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5 posts from February 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

This is Why We Have Children

My girl, Kathleen, has been living with a girlfriend in LakeWorth and working too.  She seems to be doing better and prefers being back in Florida.  My feet are cold, so I can't say that I blame her.  Anyway, this week I have been really bummed out for various reasons and so she sent me this:


Then she wrote: "A funny picture of Sarah, Matthew and Glen I think will cheer you up!"  

Of course it did.  Don't you just want to eat them up?


Then, Kathleen had all her twitter friends gang up on me and send me happy tweets.  

Alright guys!  I'm better now!  But hey, I sure appreciated the love.  I hate days that go by when I'm in this funk and can't seem to pull my brain out of it.  

But you know what pulls my head out of the dumps faster than a speeding bullet?  Super kids.  And I know of at least 4 out of the 5 in my life that can make me smile in 2 seconds flat.  They can also tick me off in about 10 seconds, but naaah - they can turn it all around in 2 seconds flat.  Now if that 5th child (#2) would just get her head out of the Sand ... she could turn this around in 2 seconds flat.

Grudges.  They're terrible.  And you know who it eats at - the person holding the grudge.  That grudge will hurt her heart faster than communication ever could. It's ridiculous if you ask me.  Anyway, while she hides and tries to pretend I don't exist, I think I'll just keep on praying for her and loving her and wishing good things for her, because that is what a mother does for her children.  She loves them no matter what. Sometimes they stray.  Sometimes they come back.  But no matter where they go in life, a mother's love is constant.

And I don't care who you are - every family has their problems.  Every family has their one difficult child. Every child fights with their parents at one point or another.  We all do it.  But the one thing that I hold dear is the unconditional love.  Family.  They will always be "blood."  They will always be "family."  No other woman will be able to take my place without a fight.  No other woman ever will - period.  Not as long as I am walking this earth.  Maternal love is deeper than any love imaginable.  It can make a mother feel so deep that she wants to move mountains.  I've tried more than a few times in my life too.  Exhaustively and unsuccessfully at times, but I never walked away without a helluva fight.

In the meantime - you know who I'm talking about - Kimberly: I love you baby doll.  I'm proud of you.  I know this was a tough mountain for you to climb to become a mother while struggling with a heart condition, but you did it.  You're strong.  You don't have to choose.  I will always be your mother. I will always love you - even when you are - difficult.  Learn to move on.  Tomorrow is a new day with new hopes and new dreams.  Your grudge will eat at your health.  Communicate.  It is the healthiest thing you can do next to forgiveness.  We're all human.  More importantly, we are all family.  The adults in this family are the ones who need to grow up - and now that also includes you.  The women just gotta stop being so dang emotional.  Maybe that's not possible - but at least we can write, and talk, and email and get past our disagreements.  We can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

I love you.  

And Kathleen - you picked me up out of my funk this week and had me laughing out loud.  Then I got a group hug from 2 teenagers and a pre-teen.  It was - uh - squishy. Love you sweetie.

And that is why we have children - the L O V E.  Isn't it wonderful?


And then you take them when they are babies to have their picture taken and you end up with this.  I think Kathleen was saying "Oh Lord, what have I done to deserve this?!!!"

- Mom



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Welcome to the World Baby Reagan McKenzie

KimZakReagan I have a grand-daughter.  Her name is Reagan McKenzie, born September 5, 2009.  She was a wee little one, only 4lbs 9.5oz, but she was born at 36 weeks gestation due to some complications in my daughter's pregnancy.  I don't speak much about Kimberly here because I respect her privacy, but I am bursting inside as a mother and a grandmother and I wanted to share.


I am proud of my daughter, Kimberly.  She has come a long way in her young life and has faced many struggles along the way.  Life is never easy, but hers was complicated from the start.  Kimberly was born with Ventricular Septal Defect - a hole in her heart, and it nearly cost her her life.  I was 21 and the mother of 2 daughters.  I was terrified.  I was naive.  I was emotional.  I'm still emotional.  Kimberly was the sweetest little baby.  I was so afraid of losing her, but I always thought it would be because of her heart condition - not her "heart" condition.  I suppose only Kimberly and I will truly understand that statement.



Still, she has had a hard road, and as a babe, I didn't make it easy for her to grow up.  I was not happy in my marriage to her father, Doug, and I was not happy with myself.  I felt as though I had thrown my youth away by having a family too young.  I was overwhelmed and over-emotional.  I really was a lost soul during those early years of my adult life.  I made mistakes.  Lots of mistakes.  But I loved my girls.  I never walked out on them.  I took care of them.  I read to them and tucked them in at night.  I also fought in front of them and I know that changed them and hurt them.  I know that frightened them too.  I guess that makes me a horrible mother.  I was not ready for marriage or children, and so my desire to make a life for myself and go to college was in constant conflict with being an Army wife living in roach-infested military quarters and crummy apartments.  I still had my oats to sow and I was one very selfish girl back then.  Don't get me wrong, Doug was not the perfect husband by any stretch, but he was young too and we both had a lot to learn about giving and raising a family.  Unfortunately, our children paid the biggest price for those lessons.



Have you ever felt like you were running a marathon in your life and afraid that the end of the road would take you over the edge of a cliff?  Well, that pretty much explains how I felt back then.  I was afraid of everything.  I still struggle with fears but not nearly as many as in my youth.  I think that is what drives my over-emotional self sometimes.  Fear.  It can be a debilitating emotion.  Fear of dying.  Fear of losing a child.  Fear of being hurt.  Fear of losing your husband.  Fear of losing a parent.  Fear of failing.



My father passed away when I was 5 months pregnant with Kimberly.  He was 55 years old and died suddenly.  I was very close to my father and his loss crushed me.  I didn't know if I could go on with my pregnancy.  I screamed and cried 24 hours a day for the next 4 months.  I didn't think I could go on living, and then my grandfather died.  I dropped the phone and felt this incredible pain.  The next day Kimberly was born and rushed to intensive care.  She almost didn't make it.  My temperature spiked in the recovery room and they swept my baby girl out of my arms and into an incubator.  She spent much of the next 3 months at Walter Reed Hospital as did I by her side breast feeding her and pumping every hour or so. The hospital became my home.



When Kimberly was at home, she would sleep in a bassinet next to my side of the bed and scratch so fiercely in her sleep that her skin would be raw and bloody.  I was exhausted.  I changed her sheets and put cream on her body every few hours or so.  I was scared she would die, so I would go to sleep with my hand on her back to feel her breathing.  As I said before, it was all a bit overwhelming.  



During that time, I hate to admit it, but Kathleen, then 2 years old, didn't get all that much attention from me.  Oh, I took care of her, but mostly said things like "don't touch Kim" or "don't get near your sister, she might get sick."  Looking back, I regret the effect this had on Kathleen.  She just wanted to play and be a toddler.  She grew up resenting her sister and they ultimately grew apart.

I still miss my Dad.  He would have adored my children.  I think my life would have been different had he lived.  Less troublesome.  I can't change any of that.  It is what it is.  Still, I lost myself when I became a mother.  That is difficult to admit but it is true.  I was still trying to figure out who I was when I, through my own actions, dove into a whirlwind of responsibility and maternal emotion.  My life was a roller-coaster of dirty diapers, trips to the hospital, pennies for milk and orange juice, sleepless nights, and constant crying.



Kimberly, in the first 15 years of her life, had 4 open-heart surgeries and multiple catheterizations.  She is almost 29 now, beautiful, and happily married, and she met the challenge of motherhood head-on despite her physical limitations and troubles.  



Now, she holds in her loving arms a beautiful baby girl looking up at her with the same adoring eyes that I looked at 29 years ago.  The only difference is that Kimberly is ready to be a mother.  She is settled.  She has made the right decisions and didn't dive into the deep end of the swimming pool of life with the blind gusto that I did more than once nearly 3 decades ago.  I envy people who go through life and make all the right decisions.  I'm just one of those gals, I suppose, who takes the bull by the horns, throws myself on the back of the bull, and then grabs them by the tail before they buck me face first into the dirt.  I went for the horns a few too many times in my life. My head still hurts.



What makes a good mother?  I've often pondered this question.  As a mother of 4, and now a grandmother of 2, I have often wondered what truly makes a good mother.  My own mother has made mistakes, or at the very least I think they were mistakes.  For instance, she rarely ever hugged me growing up.  If I hugged her, she would hug me back, but she has never thrown her arms around me with any degree of emotion if you know what I mean.  I craved that maternal closeness growing up and never got it from her.  In some ways I think that may have contributed to my being a mother at such a young age.  I wanted to be a mother.  A good mother. I had lots of love to give, but boy was I ever in for the ride of my life.

My mother has lived with me and my family for 12 years now and I can count only 3 times that I remember her hugging me without being hugged first.  Maybe I am still looking for that maternal validation.  My mother is who she is and I love her.  I know she loves me with all her heart.  Learning to accept her for who she is, her mistakes and all, has been the most validating and forgiving experience in my life.



She has never - and I mean "never," talked to me girl-to-girl talk, or shared with me much of her life as a young girl growing up.  I don't know why, she just was never much for talking I suppose.  Me? - I'm always talking to my children and sharing and laughing and carrying-on.  In many ways I think I am trying to over-compensate for something I feel I missed out on - including all the hugs.  I'm a big hugger.  I am always hugging and telling my kids I love them. That must also be why I married Big Bear 17 years ago.  For the bear hugs.

As I grew older, though, instead of being angry with my mother, which I was for most of my life, I began to reflect on what may have contributed to her distance and inability to make emotional attachments.  Then it hit me - the loss of her own mother when she was 11 years old.  My grandmother Margaret passed away from gall-bladder disease when my mother was a young girl and I cannot even imagine how devastating that was for her or how that changed her.  She had no one to turn to during her teen years and as she grew up and ultimately became a woman and married.  She had no one to share her own motherhood with.  She once told me that she was afraid of getting close to others, even her own children, because she was afraid she would lose them.  That was a profound moment in my life when I first understood my own mother.  

Mothers are a special breed of female.  They carry with them a deep attachment to their children, no matter how distant.  Not all mothers are good mothers.  Not all mothers are bad mothers.  I think most of us fall somewhere between good mothers and bad mothers.  None of us are perfect.  I'll bet "Mary," the mother of Jesus, as perfect as she was may have changed a few things along the way of her maternal experience.  She was the perfect virgin Mary, but was she a perfect mother?  Maybe so.  Jesus was the only perfect human being that ever walked the earth.  He wasn't a mother.  He was however, a father.  I believe I'm forgiven.

We should all forgive our mothers.  They are human.  They make mistakes.  They are entitled.  We should all forgive our children.  They are human too.  They make mistakes.  They are entitled.  First, though, we should forgive ourselves and ask the Lord to forgive us for our sins.  I've done this and it is healing.  It is extremely difficult, I will admit, to forgive myself for the errors of my youth.  If only my daughters could find it within their hearts to do the same.  Maybe someday they, too, will recognize that I was only human and very afraid and much too young and irresponsible to be a mother.  Maybe then they will forgive me.

I believe that through the error of my ways, that Kimberly may just have learned to be a terrific mother.  I am certain of it.  She knows, that no matter where she goes in this world, I love and adore her.  I care about her deeply.  I worry about her health and her heart.  She will always have my heart.  We may bicker and we may disagree, but I will always love my baby girl, and I think that is what a mother does best - love.


The truest blessing one can find within the mistakes of their life is the blessings that follow.  Many blessings have followed the bad experiences of my youth.  I am a much better mother.  It is unfortunate that it took 2 daughters very early on for me to learn many of the lessons that I pose here.  I have never given up on my children.  I am even raising my grandson.  I often wish I had been as settled, as strong, as informed, and as good a mother back then as I am now.  But, if I had been all of those things, or even some of those things, then I would not have the beautiful family I have now.  I would not have Sarah and Matthew and maybe not even Glen in my life.  And very possibly, Kim would not have found Zak.  You see, I was mad as hell that some loser dumped Kimberly on New Year's 2006 and stood her up and lied to her.  I stayed up and talked to her on the phone, through her tears, for hours.  I only wish she lived closer so that I could have hugged her and comforted her.



Kimberly said something to me that I completely understood, she said, "Mom, I don't want to be alone.  I don't want to spend my whole life alone.  Who is going to want me?"  I knew those feelings all too well - fear again played a role.  No matter what I said or how much I tried to encourage and comfort her, it didn't seem to make a difference.  The pain of the situation was too great.  Then I had an epiphany, what would change the situation was a fresh start, a new love, and I had an idea (Think the movie "Because I Said So" and think of me).  So, I stayed up the rest of the night and enrolled Kimberly on eHarmony and began to weave the love story for my daughter.  I filled out her profile and that alone took me 5 hours.  Let me tell ya, they don't mess around on eHarmony. 

KiminprettyoutfitThe next morning I called Kim and told her what I did, giving her the information to log on. She was like - "huh? You're kidding, right?"  It's the bull-by-the-horns mentality in me.  I play for keeps, and don't put up with any crap, especially where my children are involved.  After the shock wore off, she finally warmed up to the idea and started looking at her matches and we shared them together.  The first one was Zak.  I said "Now he looks like a winner." Kimberly agreed, and so began their communication and courtship for almost 2 years before they married in May, 2007.

None of us truly understand the course our life will take, and each of us will experience a different journey and unique lessons along the way.  Usually, and stubbornly, taking the wrong, frickin' road.  Some, like me for instance, had a great childhood (for the most part) and a difficult early adulthood.  Others, like Kimberly, have had a difficult childhood and a great adulthood.  I don't think anyone on earth slides through life without obstacles and challenges at some point - mother's included. It's taking those lessons with us in our heart and living out our best possible life going forward with forgiveness, compassion, and understanding that matters most.  

I think we all should reflect on our own mothers for a moment ...

What is it about her that makes her the woman she is today? 

What mistakes has she made in her life that has made her stronger? 

What good things has she done? 

How has she expressed to you "her love" in "your life?" 

I'd like for you to share your mother story.

In the meantime, I think I will just enjoy this beautiful picture of my daughter Kimberly, with her beautiful daughter - Reagan McKenzie.

Isn't she a sweetheart?  Congratulations Kimberly and Zak.  I am so happy for you I could burst - and I think I just did.



Friday, February 19, 2010

An Entrepreneurial Spirit for Dummies


About 3 years ago, I had a 3am moment.  The name "Red Easel" popped into my head and I wanted to do something with it.  And so began my blogging career.  My first experience with the internet on a personal level was selling on eBay.  I had become a PowerSeller at one point.  I had been selling a bunch of unnecessary "stuff" that Big Bear's parents had accumulated over 50+ years of marriage and was, at the time, stored in the basement of our home, making it impossible to move through the basement without scooting sideways.



Bob's parents had lived with us for almost 5 years and we also, during those years, completely remodeled and cleaned up their home in Olney of 34 years so that we could sell it for them.  You can't believe the stuff they had in that house.  Bob and I, together with Ken and Geneva, decided what we wanted to sell on eBay and what we wanted to keep for sentimental reasons and use.



So I got busy, and I started selling on eBay everything from toys and baby clothes to cars and appliances.  It was fun!  I wanted to go a step further, though, and after I had sold most of the massive mounds of "stuff" around the house I decided I wanted to open my own online baby boutique.  I did research and paid a designer to design the website for me.  I had envisioned it and put pencil to paper to sketch it out.  The web designer did this for me and I launched "La Bonne Vie Bebe" in late 2005.  It was a beautiful baby boutique and it was a success.  It received a lot of press, was mentioned and recognized in the Charlotte Observer and a number of great magazines including Parenting and Bride Magazine.  (The Bride Magazine was because I represented a designer of children's clothes that created the most beautiful gowns for little girls).  I had some wonderful designer relationships and promoted their wares with enthusiasm.  La Bonne Vie Bebe was also a part of the Oscar Gift Suite at the Academy Awards in 2006 and a few of my designers helped me to create a gift basket for the Stars.  Not that celebrities needed anything, but a lot of stars were pregnant that year and I was approached by a gifting company in LA to put together a gift basket.  I put together 50 baskets with the support of my designers.  It was a great promotional effort as well.



I loved my baby boutique and was proud of how successful it had become in a short time, however, it was taking up so much of my time that my children were not getting the attention they needed.  So, I decided to sell the boutique.  I posted "La Bonne Vie Bebe" on an online business "for sale" platform and sold it within 2 months to a nice lady in Virginia.  It was difficult for me to part with a business that I had put so much of my heart and energy into creating and growing.  As an entrepreneur, I knew quite well how a business can be a part of who you are.  Still, it was the right thing to do.  I was exhausted and my children needed me far more.  Besides, I was doing this for them, but when it started to cut into my time with them, it needed to go.



I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit I think.  I owned a business in South Florida "Real Estate Services of South Florida" back in the mid 80s whereby I assisted attorney's in preparing real estate settlements.  I was a paralegal for years and enjoyed preparing real estate settlements.  I had it down to a science. 

Then in the late 80s I opened a nail salon in Olney, Maryland - Armonds Nail Salon, and then moved it to another shopping center and renamed it NailWorks.  I moved back to Florida and opened another nail salon in Boca Raton - Altesse Nails.  It was a busy time and nearly broke my back and my spirit.  It was all consuming.  If you've ever owned your own business you know what I mean about it being all consuming.

A few months after I sold my baby boutique and the house was clean, the laundry was done, the kids were happy and getting "too much" time with Mom now on the schoolwork front, I spent my time reading blogs.  Mommy blogs and Art blogs.  And then it happened.  3am and I couldn't sleep.  I had ants in my pants and ideas in my head.  And so "Red Easel" was born.

That morning I sat up in bed with my Mac in my lap and I did some research - namely, I tried to figure out how some of my favorite blogs were "blogging."  I had never blogged before so I had a lot to learn, and being the perpetual student that I am, I found it challenging and exciting - and frustrating at times too.



In about 2 days I had opened an account with TypePad and had created "Red Easel."  My idea was to have a blog that covered everything from visual art tutorials and demonstrations, to art history, featured artists, and an online gallery.  I knew nothing about html, css, or javascript.  Absolutely, positively nothing.  TypePad's easy wizard and basic platform allowed me to take baby steps in the learning process and I was amazed at how simple and intuitive the process was to learn.  I didn't need to know any coding at all and it was as easy as drag-and-drop.



I was just learning Photoshop at the time too, so I created my first masthead in Photoshop and uploaded it to TypePad.  It was a great day for me, let me tell ya, when I created my first masthead.   I felt like I had crested the hill of web design and that I could do anything.  Well - almost.

I bought Dummie books on CSS, Javascript, and HTML.  I learned what I could online too.  I was determined that I was going to learn web design and design my own website myself.  I asked questions of TypePad and the folks at Six Apart were gracious and professional and excited about their product.  They were more than willing to help, answer questions, and teach me coding.



Red Easel was on a successful track.  In a little over a year I had almost 100 artists in the gallery and over 500 subscribers to my monthly newsletter.  I had interest in the content and Red Easel was growing and developing into what it is today.  Still, I wanted to do more.  It can be painful being a creative person.  A lot of pent-up creative energy just waiting to escape and not enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do.



One morning, while reading some of my favorite Mommy and family blogs, I decided that I wanted to also have a personal blog.  I wanted to share my family and stories with my family and friends scattered around the country, if for no other reason than to have a better platform to journal and post pictures other than using email.  I have grown to dread email.  And so, "Raisin Toast" was launched in June, 2007.

In the last 3 years, my professional life has changed dramatically.  I have learned so much about web design, Photoshop, TypePad, and coding I could probably write my own book, instead, I share it with you - my wonderful readers - when I can.  When I learn how to do something in Photoshop, for instance, I take pictures and write tutorials in my "In the Studio" section.  I like to share what I have learned with you and I am always thrilled when I get comments and emails from readers thanking me for the tutorials and telling me how easy it was to understand and grasp the concept.  Your comments and emails make my day.

Raisin Toast and Red Easel have received a lot of press and I am so grateful!  TypePad featured Raisin Toast and did a great story about my blog and beginnings in blogging last year.  Raisin Toast was also a Top 10 winner in the 2009 Bloggers Choice Awards in these categories: Best Blog About Stuff, Best Education Blog, Best Parenting Blog, and even - God only knows how this happened - Hottest Mommy Blogger.  Thank you all for your votes!  Your enthusiasm and support of my blog has been greatly appreciated!

I've learned a heckuva lot in the last 2 years and I have also become a TypePad Champion on "Get Satisfaction" for helping other TypePad users improve their experience - including my own!



Well, yesterday afternoon I heard Adolf going nuts (which simply meant that someone - namely the UPS guy - was in our driveway.  He didn't even come to the door.  He just ran up the sidewalk, staying a good 30 feet from the door and pitched the package to the front door so that he could make a be-line to his truck before Adolf jumped through the window.  Adolf is intimidating that way.  So after he left, I picked up the package and was so excited to find my complimentary copy of "TypePad for Dummies."  Why was this so exciting?  Well, I'll tell ya - because I'm in it!  Yep, your friend here at Raisin Toast is on pages 335 - 336 together with 9 other blogs that use TypePad well.  Isn't that exciting?!!!


I'm in a Dummie book!  Woohoo!  It really is exciting.  I love the Dummie books.  I have a bunch of them from Caregiving for Dummies to Wordpress for Dummies (of all things) and HTML - XHTML - and CSS for Dummies to Nikon D300 for Dummies, and Dreamweaver for Dummies.  I love the Dummie books!  I'm such a dummie.

Now I have the TypePad for Dummies book and to boot I'm in it!  I told you I was a dummie.  Of the thousands of blogs who are using TypePad, and using it "well,"  I was more than honored to be chosen as a featured blogger in this very informative book.  TypePad for Dummies is available on Amazon.com and also in Barnes & Noble and Borders and other bookstores around your town. 

Of course, you can also get it at the Dummies Store too. I am going to spend the weekend reading the book and then do a review next week.  From what I've read thus far and can see, it looks to be a great book, easy to understand and follow, and a great resource for any blogger who wants to create an awesome blog - using TypePad of course!

Thanks to "TypePad for Dummies" Authors Melanie Nelson (BloggingBasics101.com) and Shannon Lowe (Rocksinmydryer.net) for contacting me about being a part of their book and for including me in the process.  I am honored. 



This has been an interesting journey.  From real estate settlements and nail salons to baby boutiques and blogging - at least my professional life hasn't been boring.  I still have a long way to go - a   l o n g   way.  Building a blog and a readership takes time, commitment, and years to develop.  It doesn't happen overnight, but there is something that I have learned through all the years that I have discovered - it is the journey - the creative journey.  The professional journey - that means the most.  Like most things in life I believe it is the journey that should be valued the most, no matter how difficult, how frustrating, or how treacherous, we should value the journey for the experience and the lessons.

I never thought of blogging as an experience that would change me, but it has in a positive way.  It is like writing my life book in pictures and stories on a regular basis.  It is recalling stories from the past, and daily experiences. I can't imagine not having Raisin Toast to share whatever is on my mind and being able to look back on those stories that were special to me. 

Like this story, I know it doesn't mean much to most, but for me it has been another step forward and another story to share with family and friends.  It's pretty cool being in a Dummie book. 

Do you have a blog?  Do you use, or have you tried TypePad?  I'd love to hear from you about your experiences in blogging!



TypePad Best Blogger

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sixteen Candles


Last Saturday was the beginning of a great weekend for Sarah.  She was having a special birthday celebration for her 16th Birthday. Friends, Cake, and Dad's special spaghetti dinner with Ceasar salad and lots of soda.


There were lots of Wii games, loads of laughter, and a terrific bunch of Sarah's friends all gathered together for a great time.


Of course, Matthew stayed to himself most of the day, playing war games on the computer.


And see this good-lookin' guy? This is Sarah's special someone. He likes spoiling our daughter - and we really like him too. They've been a couple for 5 months now. His name is "Walker" and he wants to be a neuro-surgeon when he finishes college.


And see this good-lookin' guy? This is Sarah's special friend, "Ryan." You might remember him from last Halloween. He is Sarah's best bud. He brought his "Guitar Hero" game to the party and a bunch of them made a lot of racket upstairs whipping out some tunes on his game.


Sarah played her composition for everyone and they loved it. Then a few of her friends sat down and played a few tunes of their own. It was great fun! This is Allyson and Blake. I think they were having a great time.


There was lotsa huggin' goin on, and ...


laughin' and eatin up all those goodies ...


And Big Dad - oops, I mean Big Bear, did all the cookin'.  He does a great job of it so I leave him to the kitchen and the cookin'.  I just do the cleaning up after all the festivities.


But then came the fun part for Sarah - opening all her gifts.  She got CDs from her friends...


Sydney and Emily ...


Her friend Caroline, sitting on the corner of the sofa, gave Sarah this great drawing of a horse.  She draws animals beautifully and Sarah loves her artwork, and she also gave Sarah a gift card to Barnes & Noble. Sarah's favorite place on earth to shop.


This is the part where I think all the guys get bored.  I mean, come on - they're guys. That is Ryan behind the chair, and Blake sitting in the chair.  Walker was sitting on the fireplace hearth right in front of Sarah.


Ryan gave Sarah ...


Some coconut shower gel and lotion.  I think his mother must have helped him choose this gift.  It really smells good.  Don't tell Sarah, but I absconded with it this morning.


And Blake gave her a gift card to use anywhere in the mall.  Sarah was so excited about her gifts that she ...


got tackled and pounced on by her friend, Nina, who, by the way, ...


gave Sarah a gift card to Target - and did a lot of huggin'.


I mean - a lot of huggin' and more huggin'.  I kinda like her green hair.  It's growing on me.


Sarah got another gift card from her friend Allyson to "Forever 21" and was so happy she had to put her head on the floor.  She was thinking "shopping .... shopping .... shopping .... I get to go shopping..."  


And check out these beautiful bracelets.  I think I might borrow them sometime too.  It is so great to have a daughter.  hee hee.


Her friend Julie O'Connor gave her the bracelets, some candy, and this fella with the pink nose and ears.


And see this Teddy bear?  This soft, cuddly, furry, Teddy bear with the red ribbon?  Oh, and the pearl bracelet ... these were her most special gifts I think.  Ya know why? ...


Because they came from her special guy - Walker.  And they gave each other a big Birthday hug.


Of course a lot more huggin' was goin' on afterwards.  Will it ever end?


Walker's cute when he blushes.  I won't tell you why.  Sarah would kill me.

Now, just for my baby girl - here are the lyrics to a song that my Dad played for me on my 16th Birthday.  I loved this song, and now, I'm going to play it for my girl in the video below.

Happy Sweet 16 Sarah!  I love you bunches XXOO



You come on like a dream, peaches and cream, Lips like strawberry wine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine.

You're all ribbons and curls, ooh, what a girl, Eyes that sparkle and shine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful and you're mine. (mine, all mine, mine, mine)

You're my baby, you're my pet, We fell in love on the night we met. You touched my hand, my heart went pop, Ooh, when we kissed, i could not stop. You walked out of my dreams, into my arms, Now you're my angel divine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine.

You're my baby, you're my pet, We fell in love on the night we met. You touched my hand, my heart went pop, Ooh, when we kissed, i could not stop. You walked out of my dreams, into my car, Now you're my angel divine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine. You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine. All mine, all mine, all mine. All mine, all mine, all mine. All mine, all mine, all mine, all mine, but i do. You are mine!





Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Joy of Snow Tubing


When we lived in Maryland, every winter was an exercise in not busting a snow tube for the entire winter season.  The kids were always soaring down the front yard at incredible downhill speeds.  I ventured out a number of times myself, as did Big Bear, to join in the fun of snowtubing down a foot of snow or more.  But here in Charlotte it's a little different.  We don't get snow that often, and when we do the kids go nuts.  Of course, most snowfalls don't accumulate to much of anything.  This past week, however, we got 4 inches.  Woohoo!  So, before it melted on us, Big Bear got out his tractor and mashed down several tubing paths for the kids, then he blew up their snow tubes for the first time in 5 years, and let them go at it.



From the wee hours of the morning to just before noon, the kids had loads of fun tubing down the front yard while I sat in the window upstairs and took about 200+ pictures.  What great fun the kids had.  The joy on their faces, the laughter - it makes my heart sing.



Of course, the snow began to melt in the afternoon, but the children made some memories Saturday morning, and I have lots of pictures to prove it.  



Sometimes I wish we were still living in Maryland, but then I get pictures like this from our friend and former neighbor, Lisa, and I think - Naaaah, I think I'll just stay here in Charlotte.  Poor Lisa - she can't get out for nothin'.  And to make matters worse, she had surgery on her foot and she is hobbling around on crutches.  



At least we had some fun in the snow here for once in 5 years.  The kids had a blast.  And isn't that what it's all about anyway?



That beautiful smile.  Sarah is so beautiful.  We are all so proud of her.  I can't believe she is Sweet 16 already!  Where have the years gone?



Of course, there is the silly side to Sarah too.


It's times like this that I wish I had had my video camera charged up.  Oh well, the animated gifs are the next best thing I suppose.



And then there are action shots like this that speak for themselves ...



And the smile that comes after the face plant in the snow.



Sibling Rivalry - Sarah and Matthew can't get enough of it - and they smile the entire time.



Thumbs up to Glen!




The kids had a great time and to tell you the truth, I had just as much fun watching them play in the snow.



It was a great start to a wonderful weekend.





Sarah had a busy day ahead too - she had about 15 friends come over and celebrate her 16th Birthday with her.  She had a sleepover too!  And that will be tomorrow's post.  Yep, it was a weekend to remember.



We are definitely snow people here.









See ya!

What fun things have you done in the snow this winter or in past winter snows?



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