Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week Three

Today was Nora's "mid year skills presentation" at The Little Gym. Her class was small today- only 5 kiddos, so they really got to show off their "stuff" and enjoy a little bit of the spotlight.

Swinging like a little monkey
Balance beam
Doing kicks on the balance beam
Forward roll
More rolling
Ta da!
Bear crawl

Nora has grown so much in strength, skill, and confidence. I just love watching her learn and grow! The kids also had some time on "the big red mat" for some group activities.

Ms. Sara has them putting on their  "looking goggles".
These two.
Blowing bubbles is intense.
Nora kept yelling, "My turn!" even when it wasn't her turn.
Once they finished with their skills and their group activities, the "Super Beasts" were all given a red ribbon that said, "I'm a Star at The Little Gym" to reward them for their good work so far this season.

Here is Nora up on the "podium" receiving her ribbon from her teacher.

And here the sweet kiddos are after accepting their "awards".

Pretty sure Amelia's face is because Nora is choking her.
She looks like she can breathe a little easier here.
A happy group of "Super Beasts" and their proud teacher

This afternoon, Nora had a friend from church, Madeleine, come over to play. It was Madeleine's first time to our house, and the girls did pretty well together. They both had the most fun playing with all of Nora's baby dolls (and accessories). I didn't get any pictures of them together, but hopefully there will be other opportunities. While the girls played, I had a chance to snuggle Madeleine's new baby brother Colin. He's 6 weeks old and bundle of sweetness. He might be the most chill baby I've ever met.

After her play date was over, Nora decided she needed to check on me to make sure I was in good health.

Paging Dr. Nora

Shifting gears, I have recently learned of 3 separate sad situations involving families I have connections to. In 2 of these situations, a child was lost- one to cancer and one due to complications resulting from a tragic incident. In the 3rd situation, a little girl was diagnosed with leukemia. It is unfathomable to any parent, and my heart hurts for these families. I can't help but hold Nora just a little bit closer. Every day truly is a gift.

Snuggles with Nora this week. I am infinitely thankful for her health and safety.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week Two

School was supposed to start back Monday, but instead, I got 3 extra days off due to weather. I don't think we've had 3 snow days in a row in the 10 years I have been here. We finally started back Thursday, so it was nice to have a super short week to get back into a routine.

Nora had a couple of play dates this week. I usually am good to take pictures, but this week I didn't. Her first one was with Kaitlyn. We spent the afternoon at her house playing, making crafts, having a "picnic", and watching "The Princess and the Frog" while eating popcorn. It was a great way to spend the afternoon of snow day #3.

Her 2nd play date was with Ella. She doesn't see Ella often. I think the last time she was her was at Ella's birthday party back in April! Ella and her mom, Kim, came to our house, and the girls played with some of Nora's new toys. It took Ella a little while to warm up since she was basically in a stranger's house, but she eventually did, and by the time we headed to Puleo's for dinner, the girls were demanding to be in each others presence. They had fun playing in the booth at the restaurant, but they were really well behaved. I hope we have a chance to get together with Kim and Ella again soon!

We finally got back to The Little Gym this week, and it was big fun, as always. We had a few new kiddos join our "Super Beasts" class, which was nice. It's a small but cozy group. Nora was kind of shy as we got started, but once it was time to explore, she loosened up and got to monkeying around. No, really. She loves hanging from the bars like a little monkey ha! Next week is the "mid year" skills presentation, and I think the kids are going to get ribbons. I expect it will be super cute.

A cute conversation I had with Nora on our way to church today...

Me: We're going to church.
Nora: Yay! Church!
Me: Who will you see at church today?
Nora: Madeleine, Jon Loran, Sophie... (continues naming all of her church friends)
Me: Do you think you'll read a story today?
Nora: Yes
Me: Who do you think the story will be about?
Nora: Jesus!
Me: Do you know who Jesus is?
Nora: Ummmm....
Me: Do you know that Jesus loves you?
Nora: Yes. I LOVE Jesus!

What a sweet little conversation with my sweet little girl.

Other accomplishments this week? We finally got the house de-decorated. I can't believe it's mid-January and we JUST took our lights down and put our tree away. Brad actually packed up several things and took them over to our new snazzy storage unit where we'll be bringing boxes of our stuff since we're getting ready to put our house on the market in about 6 weeks. We actually went to look at a house today that I'm kind of in love with, but I don't guess it will end up being "the one" since it could be many months before we are ready to actually put an offer on a house.

As for pictures this week, all I have this week are a few of Nora and Bailey, my 2 little princesses, hanging out together on my lap together. They've been bonding a little more lately, and it's cute to see them become best buds.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Week One

Brad and I are far too old to "party like it's 1999" anymore, so this new year has been rung in quietly but happily. We actually started the year out with Christmas Part Deux for Nora, which was a lot of fun for all of us!

Playing with her princesses and songs palace.
Checking out her princess wardrobe.
Opening her doctor kit.

Dr. Nora has given me a clean bill of health.
Taking baby for a walk.

She struggles with jigsaw puzzles, but she had fun working on this princess one for a little while.

The next day, it was back to work for Brad and back to Ms. Tracy for Nora so Momma could have a day to get some things together. Funny thing was that we got a small sprinkling of snow overnight, and when Nora saw it, she proclaimed, "Look at all that snow!" Now remember where she just was last week, right?  Ok, so here is the big snow she was referring to.

Yep, my kid is a southerner for sure. I hang my Canadian head in shame at her reaction to winter weather.

Unfortunately, Brad's first day back to work also included him having to work at a basketball game that night, so Nora and I were on our own. She was so excited when it came to bath time and she realized she had all of her bath toys that she had acquired at Nanny and Grampy's house!

She had the most adorable "conversation" with her Ariel doll. It went something like this: "Oh no! Ariel misses her Daddy... UH OH! MY Daddy is at work! It's ok, Ariel, they be back. I promise." So sweet to see her empathizing with her mermaid friend.

Since Brad was back to work, I was going to take Nora to see her first movie at a theater, "Frozen", but we decided we'd wait until Saturday so all 3 of us could go. Kids under 3 were free, and Brad and I had free movie passes gifted to us by my principal, so the only expense was the popcorn. I was a little worried about how Nora would do, but I also knew that there would be many young children there, so I figured if she had a meltdown, we'd be in good company. My fears were all for nothing, though. She had a moment at the end of the previews when she whispered to me, "Let's go home", but once the movie started, she was hooked. Mesmerized, even. I dare say she loved it. So many times I looked over to see her wide-eyed and saying, "Woooow!" with wonder in her voice. As a matter of fact, all day today, she's been asking to watch the movie again: "Watch the princess and the abominable snowman go skating?" Um, something like that. She doesn't grasp plot yet, but I knew what she meant. It's tough to explain to a kid who lives in the "On Demand" age that no, we can not watch the movie again at home.

After the movie, we went to look at a couple of houses because soon (not soon enough!) we'll be putting our own house on the market, and we're starting to get a feel for what type of house and which neighborhoods we are interested in. We also celebrated "Christmas" with Jessica, Jason, Kaitlyn, and Nhyle. We went the non-traditional route and ordered sushi while the kids ate chicken nuggets and bagel bites. They had a blast dragging each other around on a blanket which they were pretending was a horse, and we watched football.

Today, we headed back to church for the first time in a few weeks, and Nora was so excited to see her friends who she talks about all week long. It was nice to be back into our Sunday routine of church and lunch at Dede and Grandpa's house.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my first day back to school, but with winter weather expected, the first day back has already been called off. Hopefully, Nora and I can find something fun to occupy our time tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's the End of the Year as We Know It and I Feel Fine

Another year bites the dust. Time seems to be speeding up when I just want it to slow down so I can savor the moments a little bit longer.

2013 brought much more good than bad. Brad and I both advanced in our careers, and Nora has continued to grow and thrive and become an awesome little person who I am so proud to call my daughter. She is smart and funny and cute as a button. Seriously, I know I probably am a bit biased, but she really is a joy to behold.

Chicken baby, chicken baby, I love you. Yes I do.  I love you.

That's not to say we haven't had our ups and downs, bumps and bruises and a few tears along the way, but 2013 was kind to us.

As for this blog, I've so enjoyed the weekly format that I plan to continue doing the same thing in the same place for the 52 weeks in 2014.

I feel content with the year gone by, and I am excited for the one that waits in front of us.

Week 52?! Christmas in Cape Breton

What a way to end 2013! There was some travel chaos but mostly quality time relaxing with our Cape Breton family. The week started with us waking up to even more snow than what was there the night before we arrived. There were heaps and heaps of snow, and while it made it difficult to get out as much as we normally do when we're there, I loved every minute of it.

Tessa: Want to make a snowball? Nora: What's a snowball? I fail as a Canadian parent.

We spent the 23rd and early on the 24th doing some last minute shopping for doodads and whatchamacallits to complete our gift giving and Christmas dinner.

On the 23rd, we spent some time at Laura's visiting with her and the girls. Nora just loves her cousins, and they love her. Tessa and Peter were there, too, and Tessa got a great Christmas gift from him- a Fender guitar!

I imagine this conversation between Nora and Ruby going something like this:

I have never seen this much snow in my life!
Seriously? It's only just begun.

Christmas Eve afternoon, we headed over to Nanny's house in the Pier to spend some time with family who I hadn't seen in forever- some who Brad and Nora had never met. Nanny isn't at her best right now. She has alzheimers, and it's getting more and more difficult for her to understand the world around her. I'm glad we got to spend that time together, even though I am certain that she didn't know me.

Getting ready to go to Nanny's house.
Getting her baby doll (and other goodies) from Nanny. She loves it!
Princess with a recorder.

After the party on MacLeod St., we headed back to Champlain Avenue where Nora got into her Christmas PJs, and we waited on Laura and the little girls to arrive. Once they did, Talia, Ruby, AND Tess got into their PJs, too, which matched Nora's. I love that Tess humored me with this. She's such a great "kid".

On Christmas Eve night, we had a nice evening in at Mom and Dad's house. Gina and Dylan came by for a few hours, and Dad and Dylan graced us with their musical talents.

Family resemblance much?

Once everything settled down, we got the Christmas gifts set out. Santa even stopped by with a few things for Nora, though he left most of her presents back in Tennessee for her to get when we return.

Nora woke up before 7 on Christmas morning, and I kept her busy until everyone was situated in the living room waiting for her to see the tree and the presents. She was a little shy at first with everyone watching her, but once we started opening presents, she got really into it. She wanted me to open each thing for her so she could play with it for a minute before moving on to the next thing

Her bathtub Ariel and her Little Mermaid DVD were probably her instant favorites, and I think we watched that movie 8 or 9 times between December 25th and 29th.

On Christmas Day afternoon, Laura and her boyfriend, Reg, came to Mom's house to eat. Mom made a traditional turkey dinner, and it was awesome. Christmas night, all was quiet. We got into our PJs, and Tessa gave Nora and me a mini manicure.

On Boxing Day, we went back to Laura's house to see her and the girls and all of the fun presents that they got. It's hard for little ones to share, especially their new things, but I think overall, they did pretty well. I didn't know this at the time, but it would be the last time we saw the girls before heading back to Tennessee. I wish I'd known that when we were there so I could have hugged them goodbye.

Ballerina girls

On the night of the 26th, we finally got to have our lobster feast that I always look forward to so much. We usually do it on Christmas Eve, but once everything had settled down for the night, it was too late (or rather, Brad and I were too tired) to indulge. So, we had our lobsters around dinner time. I hoped Nora would humor me and try a bite, but no such luck.

On the 27th and 28th, I got to spend some time with friends. On the night of the 27th, we went to see my Dad's show, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", which is a "4 Men in a Tub" show. It was hilarious, as always, and I was thrilled that my old bud Leasa was able to make it. Laura, Reg, and some of their friends were there, too! On the 28th, Leasa, Bird, and I had a looong lunch together at Smitty's, catching up on the past year and a half. I love that even though I don't see them often, it's easy to fall back into step like no time has passed at all.

The 29th was our last day, and it was a quiet one spent at home (as most of our time was due to the weather), but I wouldn't have had it any other way. We had some more snags with our travel plans-- 2 canceled flights that set us back about 12 hours all together-- but in the end, it didn't make much of a difference. On the 30th, Dad drove us to the airport for our 2 p.m. flight, and we spent some final sweet moments together at the airport before taking off.

Nora bonded so much more with my family this time than when we were there in the summer of 2012. I'm sure it's because she is a little older and also because we talk about and to them all the time. I know it was a special time for my parents, and it was really special to me, too. And while Nora won't remember this trip other than what she reads here in these pages, I know it was special to her while it lasted.

Some lyrics from my Dad's song, "Home for the Holidays" that sums up this bittersweet visit.

The livingroom glows like a memory
I can't believe I'm finally here
Man, you'd think things would change but thank God they're the same
From the carpet to the chesterfield chair
Kids around the organ, tinsel on the tree
Just as I had hoped it would be
Kiss me maw, the mistletoe called me
Home for the holidays

Home for the holidays

From Christmas eve until New Year's day

Friends and family together again

Home for the holidays

When the carolers stroll from the neighborhood
And the needles fall upon the floor
I will once again say goodbye to my friends
Though in my heart, you can be sure
I'm happy to be here, wish I didn't have to go
And when I'm gone I'll miss you all so
Lonely is the travelling
When home is where I'd rather be
With mom and dad and the family
Home for the holidays

I know the locals are over it already, but I'm actually going to miss this (for a little while).

So off we went, and I have to say this: My kid is awesome. Seriously. 11 hours in airports and on airplanes with hardly a complaint from her except for a near potty miss in the looong line through customs in Toronto. We received several compliments from people in regards to her happy disposition and good behavior. Proud Momma right here! Here she is, happy as a clam on our flight from Sydney to Toronto.

Once we finally landed in Atlanta at 11 p.m., Nancy and Kiersten were waiting for us. We got back to Nancy's house around 12:30 and went straight to bed. We got up on the morning of the 31st, had breakfast, and hit the road.

So, my kid who is ah-mazing on airplanes? She hates traveling in the car with a fiery passion. We were probably 15 or 20 minutes in when she started fussing and whining and crying and complaining. I think we made 3 or 4 stops to appease her between Atlanta and Knoxville, which is only a 3 hour drive, and she slept for the last hour and a half, so that was 3 or 4 stops in an hour and a half! One of those stops was in Calhoun, Tennessee, where Grandpa Sam's parents are buried. Sam and Brad are really into the family tree and genealogy in general, so we knew it would mean something special to Sam if we took some pictures of Nora at his parents' grave sites, especially since great grandmother Elinor is her namesake.

We finally reached our destination at about 2:45 in the afternoon, and I have to say, it was nice to be back among my own space and things. I'm always in a little bit of a homesick funk after returning from Nova Scotia, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

We visited with family for a little while at Bo and Lea's for a New Years Eve dinner, and then we headed home again to get a sleepy little girl to bed. There was nothing sweeter than seeing her drift off to sleep on her own pillow with a little smile on her face and with her new baby doll tucked in next to her.

Once she was asleep, Brad and I found the stash that Santa left behind for us, and we got it all ready for Christmas round 2.

I've named this "The Christmas of babies and princesses".

Brad and I rang in the new year quietly at home with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on TV. The ball dropped, we kissed, and we stumbled into bed.... with Copper the beagle who is now deathly afraid of fireworks.

Happy New Year!