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A Small Flock of Children

Posted by casey on November 29, 2008 in Escaping Home, Family

Throughout the weekend we definitely got our TV time with football games, and I believe all of us came close to consuming our own weight in food as their was never a shortage of anything.  We were also surrounded by happy children (almost always happy) who were always ready to play a game of any sort.  While some might tickle them, chase them or set up a video game, Colter taunted.  Most kids are at first intimidated by his height, then fascinated and finally see its advantages. (High rides in the air for example.)  Colter can be seen here holding a Christmas mouse over a 5 year old and 4 year old’s head, out of their reach.  Nice dear, real nice.  To give him at least a little credit though, the mouse did play “Jingle Bells” over and over and over again, so what does seem like cruel taunting was in all honesty and sanity saving break of silence for the adults.  By silence I mean no music, just excited shrill-screaming of course. (Decibal levels that were unknown before this weekend were offically reached) At least they weren’t scared of him anymore though right?
( I should add that as I am writing this post Colter is leading these two in a race, which consists of small circular laps around the couch while he counts who is on which lap. Dizzy much????)

When it comes to happy children though, we all should wish for a kid like Colby.  Colby is 18 months old and truly a smiling, laughing kid almost from wake to sleep.  He waves at everyone either with his full hand or just his pointer finger and is constantly laughing at you or with you.  He finds just about everything funny, or will turn it into a joke and is quite the self-entertainer.  In the picture to the left he was standing on the couch with that grin and then plopping to to his bottom, belly-laughing every single time.  If he fell, 10-30 second cry and then he was over it.  Like I said…wish for one like him.

While I am sure it is an obvious statement, there was also Dad this weekend, who was proud to show off his grand-baby among all the other grandchildren and grandparents there.  He was also eager to put his time in rocking, feeding, cooing and holding her.  Dad also hit a milestone this weekend, successfully putting Cathryn to sleep a few times in his arms instead of panicking at her fussy-ness and handing her off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the rest of the weekend, I will sum it up with a “photo-journal” of sorts…
Sunrise out our bedroom window…

The mountains of Tennessee made a beautiful backdrop for Dad and his girls on Thanksgiving Day.

Dad and Kathy

A trip to walk arount tourist-ville central (Gatlinburg). Among the gift-shops and kid-trap stores, we did find a quaint area with an adorable candy shop!  Jess even had her first taste of candy apple!

Family-Time on the Porch…

Two Years 8 Months and Counting…

Father Daughter

Try-Out a Baby Day…

Drooling, Smiling Baby…

Storm Rolling In…

Food, foor and more food…

Sunset off the porch…

 
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A Tennessee Foot-Fest

Posted by casey on November 29, 2008 in Escaping Home, Family

I can’t wait any longer…I have to show you my favorite picture from the entire weekend.  Miss Dylan….

Four year old Dylan loves babies, and Dylan really loved Cathryn (in the background of the pic). So, whenever Cathryn wasn’t fussy and the opportunity arrived, Dylan would prop herself up on the couch with her arms in cradle position ready to have that baby put right in her lap. The sweetest part though was when she would rock her arms or bounce them to mimic the motion she had watched being done so many times.  At four years old, when it comes to babies, Dylan already seems to have a mother’s heart. Occasionally, instead of just Dylan holding Cathryn, we got the three tiered system, as seen below, with Dylan in Dad’s lap and Cathryn in Dylan’s lap.  Dylan would really giggle over this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other humorous even of the weekend was Cathryn’s feet.  What could possibly be so funny about feet?  I mean yes they can smell, toes are a little odd and we paint them funny colors.  None of those reason are why feet were a topic over Thanksgiving.  You see, Cathryn found hers,and was thrilled about it… that is what is funny about feet!  On her back, sitting up, in transit via anyone’s arms, she was able to wiggle lift and then proceed to eat her feet.  Who knew you could be so proud of someone’s ability to insert their feet into their mouth, on purpose and literally.  She was quite the trooper with all of the attention and while I know Drew and Jess are exhausted from the awake, feed, cry, and put down routine while climbing stairs I am impressed with her ability to adjust to a completely new environment and a million people wanting to hold her, touch her, stare at her and show her love.  While watching foot ball with Uncle Colter, Cathryn had a foot-fest and then proceeded to roll herself over and have a staring contest with her Dad.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While there are still more pictures to share and moments to discuss to fully document the weekend, I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of her first Thanksgiving so I could try and document some of it, since we know she won’t remember!

 
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Thanksgiving in TN

Posted by casey on November 29, 2008 in Escaping Home, Family

Cathryn has officially survived two major milestones, her first plane ride and her first holiday.  As her proud Aunt I can say both events seemed to go off quite successfully, and I am sure it isn’t much of a surprise to you that I have plenty of pictures to document the adventure.  Drew, Jess, Cathryn, Colter and I took off EARLY Wednesday morning to join my father and 22 others in Gatlinburg, Tennessee for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Yes I said 22, and yes we all fit into the largest “log cabin” you have ever seen in your life.The only reason we had confidence in our plane was because it did have jets, not prop engines…but it was that small.  It was hot and claustrophobic and poor Colter’s legs didn’t quite fit into our seats.  Cathryn only had one crying spell as we were taxi-ing to take off and then slept “peacefully” in her parents’ arms throughout the flight.  We all breathed a sigh of relief and fresh air as we left the plane and headed to the house.  As you can tell from the picture above, Cathryn was an instant hit. 

Who is Dylan you might ask? Let me try and give you the run-down of all who attended this holiday gathering (hold your breath)…Kathy has two children Gary and Kelly.  Gary is married to Cheryl (who invited us to TN) and their children are Dylan – 4 (pictured above) and Baron – 6. Gary, Cheryl, Baron and Dylan live in Boca Raton, FL. Kelly and Todd have two boys Hunter who is 5 and Colby, 18 months.  Kelly, Todd, Hunter and Colby live in Wendell, NC (near Raleigh).  Both boys (Hunter and Baron) love legos and spent the weekend with the help of Gary building Indiana Jones replicas out of legos.  Then, it was up to Colter and Drew to help the boys keep them intact after pitching them across the floor to make them “fly”.

Drew and Hunter fixing a lego plane

Sally and Al (Mimi-Bobby and Bumpy) are Cheryl’s parents and live in Gordonsville, VA.  Kenny, Cheryl’s brother is married to Wendy and they have three daughters, Kendra, Bethany and Janelle who live in Fayeteville, NC.  Cheryl’s other brother Danny also joined us.  Last but not least, you have Dad, Drew, Jess, Cathryn, Colter and yours truly….or you can just say the Beverly Hillbillies or the Griswalds arrived in TN with a lot of luggage, food and noise.

While you will have to check out the link to get a true idea of our living arrangements, here is one shot of the Crantzsorf Lodge for your viewing pleasure.  This place was constructed with the largest logs you have ever seen, and was decorated to the core inside.  We all enjoyed gazing around the house and seeing what our eyes missed the first time, but what I was immediately drawn to were the unique “chandeliers” throughout the house.  Some of the lights looked as though they were candles, and then some of them were built entirely out of “twigs”.  Okay, obviously not entirely since there had to be wires somewhere, but the illusion of it was twigs making a nest for the lights above.  So you can get a small idea of what I am attempting to explain, check these out.  Then, once you have digested all of the people and checked out our “facilities” at

http://www.hickorymist.com/CrantzdorfLodge.htm you can move on to Part Two of our weekend ‘o’ fun.

  

 
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Tom the Turkey

Posted by casey on November 26, 2008 in Family

  Let me introduce you to Tom the Turkey.   Tom is made of butcher paper which is somewhat ironic since he won’t actually be butchered this year…too far, I know.  Tom was made by yours truly for the fourth grade hall this past week to help our kiddos reflect on the year and learn to be a little thankful for goodness sake!!!

In a world of “I want!” and “I need!” it was nice for them to take a moment and realize what they should actually be grateful for.  So, I made Tom’s body and cut out the feathers….then, each student wrote their name on one feather as well as what they were thankful for this year.  I was actually very pleasantly surprised as to how seriously many of them took this “task”.  On their feathers was written everything from their family to technology and even our soldiers fighting for our freedom.  That I found especially touching, that at nine years old, some of them had a basic understanding of that huge sacrifice.

So, as I am sure you have been asked, or maybe at least prompted to think about it, what is it exactly that you have to be thankful for this year?  With the beautiful fall weather around us it is difficult to not find yourself in a “reflecting” mood.  It is also challenging to not jus rattle off the usual list of things you are thankful for (or know you should be) but to actually take the time to pick a few as well as why you are grateful.

This year, I am thankful for…
My husband.  I am grateful for his patience with me, as well as his willingness to show me love and kindness no matter what state I am.  He lets me be “me”, even if it is a different version of “me” than yesterday.  So I am thankful that you are my husband.
My home.  In a time where people are scrambling to find affordable living arrangements and/or losing their homes, I am relieved that Colter and I are not out in that mess, but staying steady in our own home.  It is very comforting no matter what kind of day you have had to be able to come home to a place that is yours.  So again, I am thankful to Colter for working hard with me, so that we can have our home.
New Life.  Being able to be a part of and watch my nephew JP’s and niece Cathryn’s lives is such a huge blessing for Colter and I.  Even when we know that their parents are exhausted and at their limit at times we are so thankful that they let us be a huge part of their young life.  So thank you Drew, Jess, Jordan and Maddie, for helping our family to grow, letting us be crazy auntie and uncle and giving us so much joy!

While yes, there are many other things I could go on about being thankful for I feel it is important to pick a few to focus on specifically.  I also think that just as we should tell those we love how we feel, we should also let those around us that we are thankful for them and what they add to our daily lives.  So, as Thanksgiving approaches in a mere few hours….while you are cooking, drinking, talking, cheering on your football teams and napping, think about what you are thankful for this year and if you can, let them know.

Happy Thanksgiving and Safe Travels!

 
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What A Pair

Posted by casey on November 26, 2008 in Escaping Home, Family, Puppy Palace

Call me a crazy “dog lady”, but I want what these two have, okay I am sure I have a lot of relationships very close to it, but I would at least like to get inside their puppy heads and see what they “say” to each other or what is is exactly that they see from the corner of their eye as they take their post guarding their kingdom (aka the neighborhood).

As different as they are, they completely depend on each other.  As soon as they fight they nudge each other and cuddle.  When one cries, the other goes to check on them.  When it is obvious they want to be alone, they leave each other alone…and when they play, man do they play.  Possibly yet another lesson we could learn from our pets?????

Since these two pets take such good care of Colter and I by providing us with endless hours of entertainment in both  loving, and mind-losing ways, I always want to make sure that they are equally well taken care of. I HATE leaving them (for long periods of time), even though I know they are animals and want to make sure that they are equally well taken care of.  Just knowing that leaving them puts stress on them as they watch us pack and makes them sad as they cry to see us go, is hard enough, but I also know that 30 seconds after I leave they are sound asleep on the bed, just waiting for us to come home!  So loyal they are…
So obviously before leaving for the Thanksgiving holidays, the dogs’ arrangements was a big worry over our heads as to what was the best thing for them.  Some last minute cancellations led to us to have to scramble to figure out who could do it and how they were going to be looked after, and that is when divine intervention came into play with a neighbor of ours.
So they are home, and safe (so we hope) and bringing joy to some young kids lives as they learn responsibility through our pups.  But, as many people say about their spouses, or their friends, at least they have each other.

 
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King Tut

Posted by casey on November 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Last week, my class and entire grade for that matter, went on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.  First and foremost, field trips are exhausting and after having to experience them as a teacher I do not know that you could convince me to be a parent volunteer. Yes I know, ask me again when the rugrats are begging me to go, but still. The constant counting of children, panic attacks and babysitting is enough to make me fall asleep standing up by the end of the day. 

That being said, it was a very successful field trip and the kids were very fortunate that King Tut’s exhibit is here through May for them to see.  You see last year’s group didn’t have a special show like this to see.  I must say that everyone in the Dallas area should really take the time to go and check it out before it leaves us for its next destination in May.  The exhibit is truly well done and set up with an immense amount of drama to it.  Each room represents a part of King Tut’s life and has wonderful explanations of the time period we are in as well as what was going on at that time.  With a wide collection of treasures from the tomb, lineage and masks from various mummies there is something for everyone, including a recent video of King Tut’s tomb.  Even if you have no interest in art, go and see because you will be intrigued by the “Boy King” who died unexpectedly at nineteen leaving his followers and treasures behind.  Plus, you will never guess how they found his tomb!

 
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When You Are Surrounded by Smoke…

Posted by casey on November 24, 2008 in Escaping Home

When you are surrounded by smoke, most people would say get out…Brianne and I however sat in it…for a day.  The smoke I am speaking of, is from the Santa Barbara fires that were burning wildly the weekend of November 15th.  So yes, I chose to go to California, more spefically Anaheim with Brianne when the fires broke out.  Awesome.

 

You see, Brianne and I needed a reunion, and a girls weekend at that.  With so much going on in both of our lives, we both needed some time with a good friend.  A good friend with whom much history is shared.  So, before you know it I am on the plane (where I wrote the Change in Flight post) and am on my way to San Jose.  Haha, yes just like the song.  We then road-tripped it down to Anaheim, and I cannot remember the last time I took a road trip that memorable.  We sang out hearts out the entire way (can you guess the band?) and laughed until our stomachs ached.  Completing each other’s sentences and picking up stories as if they had never been left off and no time had been spent apart.  That one way to measure friendship.  With so much to catch up on the driving went much faster and before we knew it our weekend was beginning…in the smoke.

We woke up the next morning and spent a bit of time watching the fires on TV not realizing that as soon as we stepped outside of our perfume filled hotel room our nostrils would be filled with the smell of a fresh fireplace.  As distasteful as it may sound, that fresh fireplace was Santa Barbara.  The picture up above my friends is the smoke line that we were able to get a clearer view of as we drove out just a bit farther.  This picture shows the smoke cloud behind us (all around us really) in the rearview mirror as we drove away from Downtown Disney, to Chapman University in Anaheim.

What we sat in at Downtown Disney was nowhere near this clear, and we actually could not even tell that there were clear skies anywhere.  As we sat (waiting in line actually) we all of the sudden noticed that it wasn’t trash that was blowing around us, but ash.  As anyone would first do we continued to brush ourselves off before soon realizing that there was no point.  So again, you are thinking go inside somewhere, DUH.  However, that wasn’t really an option.  You see besides lifting each other’s spirits and catching up I was a replacement date for a VERY important event for Brianne.  After eight dedicated years, Brianne was finally making it to see Hanson again.  You see, they don’t get out to Cali that much and between being responsible about college/work it was too difficult to get anywhere.  So, since eight years had passes since her last live concert, we were fully experiencing the “die-hard” fan role and waiting in line….for a prime spot.  Brianne and I were mighty proud of our numbers that we got in line for WAY too early to publicy discuss.  So you see, getting out of the ash wasn’t exactly an option at that point because we had fully committed ourselves to being crazies for one day.  Who knew if we would have the opportunity to do something like this again, so there we sat, in the smoke.

Finally leaving that area for the one mile charity walk, we found some fresher air…who knew?  At our hotel and all around us, there was no sign that it was getting anything but worse…but on the campus of Chapman University our lungs got some much needed rest even as we walked our hearts out.  It may be blurry (due to the walking) but here is Brianne’s “shining moment” and proof of her wonderful weekend.  Aren’t I a good friend? (You better me shaking your head yes Bri).  While I have many more pictures that I could share the smoke is what stole the weekend.  It turned the sun an bright red/orange and the sky an eery shade as well.

As dusk approached though, the funniest thing happened.  The combination of the smoke and sunset put the most brilliant colors in the sky around us.

I tried to do the colors justice, but I truly wish you could have been there to witness it yourself.  Since you were not there, I have these for you to glance at instead!

  We spent a great deal of time goofing off trying on hats at the Disney Store for example and well, just being the same old girls we were in elementary school and junior high.  Whether it is over the phone, waiting in line, at my wedding, in a concert or on a walk we seem to gravitate towards each other and just have a ball.  Thanks for a great reunion weekend, I think it is just what both of us needed.  I am also thankful that the fires were stopped shortly after I flew back on Sunday and were not started by an arsonist but by the embers of a 12 hour old bonfire.  So sad, but finished.

 
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A Pile of Snakes???

Posted by casey on November 24, 2008 in Home

Okay fine, it isn’t snakes just Christmas lights.   Not just any Christmas lights though…one of the FIFTEEN strands of lights that no longer work after one year.  Could it get much more frustrating?  I mean, as if the “cost of the holidays” doesn’t add up enough on its own, now we have to replace lights.  I know, I know…they add to the holiday spirit…and I know there are all sorts of stories as to why we put lights everyone, but I think the whole thing is a sham and I am just one more fool who loves it.  This is my version of the light story though…

Think about it….two light bulb guys sitting around and are trying to think of a way to make some extra cash.  People don’t have to replace light bulbs often enough and everyone thinks anything in miniature form is adorable, so by Golly I’ve Got it!!!!  They decide to manufacture mini lights and tell everyone that they must display them in as many ways as possible to show their Christmas spirit.  Not wanting to be the only family that isn’t illuminated throughout the season everyone immediately snatches them up.  Here is the catch  Not wanting to be the fools who yet again produce another product that doesn’t need replaced often, they program the wires to various settings
1. Lights up for one season and one season only.
2. As soon as they aren’t being touched (just finished putting them on the tree for example) they go out for good.
3. After one season, half a strand lights up. Love this.
4. The lone bulb ruining a whole strand.
5. The blowout wires…don’t hook them together, no matter what they say.
6. Or how about the random twinkling bulb.

Oh yes, the holidays have begun.  I am a firm believer in not bringing out the Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, but this year I had no choice and this weekend the mess began.  Colter watched me smiling and said, “This is my favorite part, the part where the chaos of getting it all out is more obvious than any of the decorating.”  Thanks, dear, just what I needed to hear. :)

With boxes everywhere, decorations half up and a vacuum to trip over, it was an exciting kick-off to the holiday season.  I only hope that when you get out your decorations, your pile of snakes is smaller than mine.

 
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A Change in Flight

Posted by casey on November 17, 2008 in Escaping Home

Growing up, while always well-behaved, I had an internal hatred for flying and airports.  Think about it…there you are, trapped WAITING in terminals…trapped WAITING in a cold cylinder thousands of miles above the soil….trapped WAITING for the most convenient time to use the bathroom, eat or even sleep.  Trapped, and waiting.  If you had asked me to put air travel into two words, that would be it.  Not fear, just trapped and waiting.

As kids, we always loaded our backpacks with unimaginable amounts of busyword activities so the waiting wouldn’t be quite so mundance.  Sticking out of our twenty pound backpacks (it is a miracle we can stand straight up) was anything from cards, game boys and word searches to Walkmans (the good old days before mp3s), coloring books and entire beading sets.  Anything to give our minds something to do.  Well, during my past two flights, both to Cali, I have had yet another “I’m getting old” epiphany.  I no longer found anxiety in the WAITING or desperately searched for something to keep my mind going, but wrapped myself up in the fact that for once, my mind was quiet.  You see…it appears airports have become a source of relaxation??? Say it ain’t so….say it ain’t so!

During the first of this past weekend’s many layovers on Friday, I found myself not anxious or begrudged to be sitting at my gate, but relaxed.  Relaxed with the thought that here I was with plenty of time, hours in fact, to free my min with a novel while truly enjoying some Green Tea (bless you Starbucks).  I mean SURE I would have much rather been at home on the couch with my husband and dogs to accompany by book and tea, but as the saying goes…beggars can’t be choosers.  “That saying doesn’t fit!”, you say…and I say, “Watch me make it fit!”  Here I was/am ( wrote this then), the kid who would mentally begfor anything, anything at all to take away the “boringness” and the port-o-potty smell of airports/airplanes, actually choosingto relax…in an airport, of all the stinking places. (Haha…stinking..)

On my past two trips, I have read four novels and all of that reading was done in one of two places…in the airport waiting, or on the plane waiting.  My busy, busy mind is actually able to silence itself from all of the to-do lists and random worries of everyday life, so that it can engross itself in a story – someone else’s problems, truths, loves, jokes, mysteries etc (Yes, I just personified my mind.)  When I am not at home, I never seem to be able to find the time to read.
– Right afer work you say? Plenty of time there? nope…I would rather walk the dogs and hit the gym to de stress (see the latest “Things I know For Sure” for more on that)
– Ahh…right after dinner is perfect right? Nope, that is time to sit with Colter.  Yes we could sit and read together, but again…I can’t still my mind.  Ask him…it is impossible.
– Okay, Okay before bed then?  Not a chance.  Once my ‘aching bones” hit the sheets, I am out.  Anything I read would have to just be re-read because I would already be half-asleep when I opened the darn thing.

So…the fact that I have been able to read that much (a favorite pastime) is probably a huge percentage of my reasoning alone, in not finding flying to be quite so horrendous anymore.  However, I suppose it is also one more thing in life, that quite frankly, isn’t worth complaining about.  I wanted to travel, and in order to do that, I had to fly.  In order to fly I have to endure airports and waiting (until I make my millions and have my chartered jet of course) and if I am going to have to wait I (and you for that matter) might as well learn to enjoy it.  Come to think of it, there is a variety of things to entertain yourself with in this situation…
Reading -need I address this again?
People-watching -Oh the characters I saw at LAX….
Eavesdropping -Come one…it isn’t rude if they don’t know you are doing it, just treat it like a TV show, or a movie.  I’m telling you, the things you learn from strangers conversations..I highly suggest we all keep our voices down more.
-Starvation-See how hungry you can possibly get before you break down and either go for A: McDonald’s, or B: the strange pre-made sandwiched that has been shrinkwrapped for who knows how long
Check out the View -I mean seriously, how often do you get to watch the sunset over the mountains, high above the clouds?

_ Write …as I am right now.  You see I wrote this blog on the back of my flight itinerary so that I could then type it up for you!

(And yes…the past two photos are from the flight itself…I have become one of those wackos who photographs from the air too.)

I find it humorous that me, the girl who can’t sit still or even watch a TV show without working on something else, has at least found a form of peace and relaxation somewhere.  Go figure it is the place I used to hate and most people still do.  Leaning back in a chair, with my legs swung over my suitcase a book and some tea took me to a place of stillness…and I was happy to be there.  I can already see myself wandering the aisled of Target, or the grocery just for a moment of peace from the kids I don’t have yet.

Feel free to let me know if you would like to donate to “Casey’s Plane Rides for Relaxation” fund…you could considerate it payment for these wildly entertaining blog entries ! :)  Or a donation to my mental and physical well-being…whatever your reason, the fund is open, so again, feel free.

Up Next: The Real Weekend Update (the trip itself), Santa Barbara Fire Pics (wraps into the trip) & Book ReviewsHere is a preview pic of the Santa Barbara fire smoke that was raining ash on us….as in mulch-like chunks of ash….

 
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Thank You

Posted by casey on November 9, 2008 in Uncategorized

“If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough.”
Meister Eckhart – German theologian

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