The Year in Review…Part 1

2011 is in the bag and I couldn’t be happier! The year was a battle from start to finish and while I’m thankful for everything God has done I’m ready to move forward. Today, I’m doing a review in pictures. That way, I talk less and you get to see the big highlights that I never ended up blogging about. Um, yeah, not quite…I talk too much.

In a bit of a recap, this time last year we couldn’t have imagined that Amanda would end up going to college in Florida. We also couldn’t have imagined the doors that God would open for her in such a short time. In addition to being a panelist on the school’s TV show, she also starred in two short films. I saw one of them and it was funny and fantastic to see Amanda doing what she loves. So I think the college trip is a good starting point…

On the drive down, Halle gets the award for most uncomfortable sleeping position…ever.

Halle also gets the award for cheesiest photo.

I made Chloe do the water skier but she objected strongly. Gone are the days when she was up for anything. Sigh. She was definitely up for some Florida orange juice though.

When we got to Shane and Angie’s house (Trav’s brother and sis-in-law) we’d driven 14 1/2 hours. It was Amanda’s first time to ever drive that far. Add nerves to that and she ended up in a crying heap slumped over her steering wheel. I calmed her down knowing it was temporary (she is very much like me after all) and the next morning looked much brighter. Literally. It is Florida after all.

We visited the campus and got a head start on filling out all the forms. Thankfully we beat the mad rush and didn’t have to stand in line for anything. Then we headed to Ikea. We also planned to go to John’s Pass but it was too much for one day.

The next day was the beach…Not sure if you notice but this is *a lot* of driving. We were tired. But we were so close, we had to go to the beach.

The only picture of me taken the whole trip…by me.

I’m noticing that I’m much blonder in Florida. Hmmmm….

The beach was fabulous. Even though it rained and even though the water temperature was like bath water…it was fabulous. It casts a spell over me every.single.time. I find it hard to believe sometimes that I spent the majority of my life there. It often seems like a dream. Then I look at the hills here and I snap out of it.

We got back from the beach around midnight and were in bed around 1am. We had to be back up by 6 to get Amanda to campus to check into her dorm. We were tired.

And I took pictures of everything…this is Amanda leaving Shane and Angie’s house. She’s giving me the “Mom, you’re crazy!” face.

Here she is once we got to campus…and is giving me the, “Mom, you’re annoying me but I’m going to be nice about it” face.

And the, “Mom are you *really* going to take a picture of everything I do?” face.

This particular table was step one. I fully intended to take a picture of steps 1-4. At the end of step 1 though, Travis started tearing up and we both sort of bolted out the door so that she wouldn’t see us cry. We knew that the last thing she needed was for her parents to start sobbing. She was being so brave, her life had changed so much in just a few short months and we needed to be strong for her. I think I said something ridiculous like, “If she stays here for more than a semester I’m moving back.” I’m not really, it’s one of those silly distraught mom things to say.

Then we got to see her room!

And even though it’s sort of bare bones, it was a hundred times better than the nasty dorm she stayed in at MTSU. I’m slightly jealous of the palm tree view she has outside her window. I’m not even remotely jealous of the heat and humidity. Just sayin’.

We rushed off to pick Chloe and Halle up (who were having a fantastic time playing with cousins)…

Then rushed off to Target to pick up essentials and meet my brother and sister-in-law for lunch.

I also got to meet my great-nephew for the very first time!

I also got to see my nephew (pictured) and nieces.

Target seemed to be the breaking point for the girls. Halle wanted me to carry her through the store and tried to sleep on my shoulder. Chloe burst into tears because someone she didn’t know rolled their eyes at her. We were truly at the point that we couldn’t jam one more thing into the trip. So we went back to campus and then back to home base. Trav’s family was kind and all met us at Shane and Angie’s.

It was lovely and rainy and I tried to sneak out to the patio undetected to cry a bit. Amanda saw me and she and I had a talk. Then after everyone left all the girls watched the first two episodes of season 4 of Gilmore Girls. The ones where Rory goes to college. It was a moment that you’d have to be Amanda and I to understand but it helped. I think we were both ready to move forward after that.

The next morning we packed up and left for the long drive home. Amanda didn’t start sobbing and neither did I. It’s miraculous really.

Okay, so I stink at not narrating.

Birthday!

We usually don’t do really big birthday parties for our kids. I have nothing against them, it’s just that it’s expensive to rent a place to have one and our house is just too small. I’ve had parties here and it always goes fine and everyone is a good sport about being so cramped but it’s stressful for me. Always. It would be less stressful if I could get rid of the wall between the kitchen and living room but I’ve been forbidden.

This time around was Chloe’s 10th birthday. I’m not sure what it is about double digits but it seemed like a really big deal. I checked out some places and found a reasonably priced spot close to home. I should add that I hadn’t actually checked it out, nor had I even seen photos of the place. I’d only seen artist renderings while it was being built and I didn’t even think about it until the day before the party when I needed to find out what shape the tables were so I could have the appropriate table cloth. The spot was Sodium, and it’s described as a family coffee shop. I really had trouble picturing that. But upon arriving I found that it was the perfect, if not very dark, spot for a 10 year old’s birthday party. Actually, I’d like to go back with just Travis so we could hang out and shoot pool.

The tree house? Super. Cool.

Chloe and Dean, the only boy at the party. He was a really good sport about it.

Halle and Lael, I’m not sure why that’s Halle’s default pose.

This is almost the whole crew. I think Dean was playing video games. And the little girl eating the pizza? Um, yeah, I’ll offer some advice here. Always order a cheese pizza. Even if you’re not sure anyone will eat it, order it anyway. Why? Because one of the kids might be vegetarian and they might cry when they find out there’s nothing for them to eat and then your husband (who happens to be running a fever) might have to run back to a pizza place (after he’s already fetched pizza) to get the little one something to eat. And then you might realize after your husband leaves that the place you’re at actually sells pizza and that the trip could have been avoided. Not that anything even remotely close to that happened or anything.

The big sister and little sister at the rock wall which isn’t actually a rock wall but some other sort of wall that isn’t posted but you will get a very long lecture if you do it the wrong way. I’m just sayin’.

The birthday girl and me. And it looks like she’ll be just as photogenic as her sister. Mary suggested that she should party so hard that it takes a week to recover. Well, we didn’t party that hard but sickness has completely descended on the Button house and it’s taken her this whole week to recover. It’s not exactly the fun Mary intended. And I should add that I was the last one to catch it and I recovered the quickest. I think that qualifies as a miracle. Which means that I should probably post an update on how the gluten free thing is going for me. In short, I’ll say that I’m much better and it’s made a huge difference. I’ll post a longer version later.

So, in conclusion, our sweet Chloe was very celebrated, Sodium (Mr. bossy lecture-pants aside) was fun and is a place I’d like to visit again, oh, and my parents (as usual) saved the day. They helped so much and filled in the gaps since Travis was sick. And now I officially have a tween. Again.

Snow Day!

The snow day. It is the happiest of days among middle Tennessee kids. I miss the anticipation and excitement of finding out that our school district is, in fact, closing for snow. Home-school has it’s perks but snow days isn’t one of them. I made Chloe do her math and let them play in the snow and that may be it for the day.

The derg (that’s what I call Daisy when I’m frustrated with her. As in “dumb derg”. I don’t know why) is ridiculously excited about the snow. She looks out the window and whimpers. She paces back and forth and whines. And when I got her outside she nearly killed me. I guess I should blame the snow. She nearly pulls me off the feet that are desperately trying to get a footing in the midst of all the slippery white stuff. I really need a pair of cleats. I did let her off her leash. Mistake.

She was just pulling me so hard and I couldn’t get down the hill without landing on my backside so I let her go to do what she needed to do. Which she did. Then she ran to the backyard and went into the woods. We’ve never been in the woods but I know on the other side of that hill is a drop off of about 30 feet into a townhouse complex. If there was ever a creature to walk off the side of a cliff, it would be Daisy.

Chloe heard that Daisy was in the woods and quickly grabbed some treats to try to lure her back. It didn’t work. So Chloe and I stood at the edge of our yard and called to her. Chloe was getting more and more frantic and I was struck with inspiration. “Chloe, cry”, I said. She looked at me funny and said, “what?”. “Cry and call to her”. “Okay, but it won’t be fake tears”, Chloe replied. She proceeded to cry and call in the most pathetic manner possible. I nearly cried myself. Not over Daisy being such a stubborn derg, but because of the distress it was causing Chloe.

It worked. Daisy came out of the woods and I grabbed her. She quickly tried to get away and I tightened my grip and went down on one knee…right onto something hard and sharp. And unlike last time, I know what I said to Daisy. It wasn’t nice. I yelled for Travis to help (he worked from home because of the 5 inches of snow we have on our driveway) and he was able to get her leash on her.

He decided to tether her in the front yard despite the snow and asked if he should put her food outside. I quickly said “No! No food for the prisoner!”. I might get slightly dictator like when she makes me mad. Don’t worry, she has a full belly now.

And I’d like to add, just for the record that CHLOE AND I MANIPULATED THE DOG!!! Bipeds win! I’m just sayin’.

I caught this sweet picture of Chloe when she wasn’t looking. She just sighed and said “I just love the snow” while dreamily gazing outside. I couldn’t get a candid of Halle…

Even Daisy will pose for a picture but she was distracted by Mr. Squeaky. My girls name everything…even the dog’s bone.

If she wasn’t so cute…bah!

I have a camera question for you camera savvy people. I’ve done a little looking around for a “real” camera and after a little bit of poking around I think I’ve narrowed what I need down to the Nikon D3000 and Canon Rebel T1I. I don’t want to go any more high-tech than that because given my current photography level, anything more than that would just be a waste. The big difference between the two seems to be the lack of Live View on the Nikon, video too but I’m not much of a videographer. Any recommendations? I think that most (maybe all?) of my photography friends prefer Canon. I just want better pictures. I was testing some cameras out at Target and I have that must.have.camera. feeling. I imagine it will still be a while since I’m pretty sure that selling a body part to get a camera is something Travis won’t let me do. But if I know what I’m looking for then I can devise a hair brained scheme to get one. Not that I ever design hair brained schemes.

Until tomorrow…