Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Christmas Travels

We made our annual whirlwind trip up the East Coast... luckily without incident. (Amazing considering there was snow on the ground from South Carolina all the way up to New Jersey). Our first stop was in North Carolina to visit my family members.

My mom hosted the Nunn family party. My mom's parents were there, as were my aunt, two uncles, and their families. It was a house-full of folks, for sure! Mercer got a train comprised of alphabet and color blocks. He enjoyed building it and pushing it around.

Last year, Mercer was fascinated by the bows that were used to decorate the packages. This year, he seemed to be into the wrapping paper. At one point, he grabbed some large pieces of wrap and started squealing / waving them around. Aunt Sandra is pictured in back. Here, my mom is bringing out a stack of presents. Ho Ho Ho...

While in NC, we also visited my dad's mother at her nursing home. My aunt and uncle happened to be visiting while we were there, so we got to catch up with them too! He was very entertaining / the center of attention while we were there. Also, when we were in the parking lot - about to enter - we were greeted by a "Mercer!" from one of the nurses. That was pretty cool!

We continued our journey north and stayed overnight in DC (well, technically, a suburb of DC in Maryland). Todd's brother and sister-in-law live there as well as nephew N8 (Nate) and Marley. They had approximately 20" of snow a few days before we got there. We were supposed to go to a holiday talent show at Nate's school, but it was cancelled. Instead, Todd's brother Jimmy brought the talent to the evening by playing guitar. Mercer tried to keep up by strumming along too... this was his first experience with a guitar. He was fascinated!

Our journey continued northward still to NJ to where Todd's parents live. Todd's sister and 5 children stayed there in the house with us, so it was pretty chaotic! Todd's brother Bobby and his son live in the area and didn't come over 'til Christmas morning. Todd's brother Jimmy and family came up from DC later that day. There was definitely a house full of adults and children (from ages 22 months to 18 years). Here's Mercer "slaying" Jim as his son Nate looks on.

Santa Claus came to visit on Christmas morning. When Mercer came down, he went right for a battery-powered Thomas the Train running on a track that was pulling a musical caboose. Mercer was pretty excited. He got a number of presents from the family as well, however, he was more impressed with the wrapping paper at times.

Todd says that one of the highlights of the trip was taking Mercer to the Train Store in his hometown. It's in the basement of a building and has several rooms that you progress through. When we got to the room with 6 or 7 trains running, Mercer started squealing.... then started screaming at the top of his voice, "Oooh Oh Oh Oooh Oooh Oh Ohhhh Oooooh" He just couldn't contain himself. It was hilarious to us and to all of the people that were there.

One of Mercer's highlights of the trip was learning how to slide down stairs. He would crawl up and slide down -- over and over and over and over again! (here with his cousin Ryan while Ryan's mom, Tonia, watches the two)

On our way back from NJ to NC, we got to stop and have lunch with my step sister in Roanoke. On our way back from NC to GA, we got to stop and have lunch with my friend from college, Cindy, have Mercer run around and play with her sons' toys. It was a great break for Mercer to run around and for us to catch up. Actually - that was key - stopping ever 4 hours or so for a 1 - 2 hour break.

We made it home on Monday night - after 10 days of travel. We had to go to work on Tuesday morning. We enjoyed seeing our family and friends, but are so glad to be home! Mercer did pretty well in the car for the most part, but there were definitely times that he wasn't that thrilled about being confined.

On Sunday between VA and NC, the odometer turned over 100,000 miles on the Prius! We got the car just over 5 years ago. We don't think the car could make this trip again... not because of age or mileage, but because every square inch of it was jammed packed!

We have sent out - in our Christmas cards - notices that we're hoping to adopt again in 2010. That's another reason why the car will be too small on future trips!! We'll post a link and additional information about the future adoption.

2009 has been a great year for our family. We hope that you "and yours" have a blessed, fulfilling, fun, and healthy year ahead in 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry christmas!

We're in NJ right now. Made it up through the few inches of snow in NC... the twenty inches of snow in DC... and the foot +/- of snow between DC and NJ. Amazingly, we saw very few accidents on the road -- but some of the ones we saw were bizarre.

We'll do a big Christmas blog, but there are some things that we've been wanting to post. We joined a church this month: Marietta First Presbyterian (up on the square). We tried out several churches trying to find a good fit between Greek Orthodox and Baptist. The "Presby" seems like a good middle-ground. We've been visiting their contemporary service off-and-on since the beginning of the year.

Mercer is 22 months old (as of yesterday) and he's doing great at eating messy food by himself. We've been stalling for awhile on the yogurt / applesauce / spaghetti with red sauce / etc - but he's about 80 - 90% accurate with each spoonful. NOT BAD! (we have pulled the bibs back out - funny how those go in phases).

We think he's teething again (2 year molars). He's drooling a ton... keeps gnawing on his pacifier at the side / back of his mouth... chews on a lot. Problem is - we can't see inside his mouth all the way at the back to tell if anything's popped through or not.

He's becoming SO independent - constantly saying "I do it"

We both still LOVE the open palms when he says "where?" Also, he thinks he's tricking us sometimes by turning the light on / off. When the light goes off he says "where?" with his hands up in the air.

He's very helpful, as he enjoys throwing things away... putting things in the sink... sweeping... and clearing the table (hands us his dishes when he's done).

He talks so much (repeats much of we say now). And - he's answering questions now. Did you have fun at school today? "No" with a big grin on his face. (Sometimes he says yes.) Do you want milk? "OK"

He's addicted to movies now, sadly. We got a DVD player for the car for our 10-hr Thanksgiving trip and the 15+ hour CHristmas trip. (Trip times are 1-way). He knows to pick up the remote and say "movie." He picks up phones, puts to his ear and says "hello."

He's been an absolute joy and this is SUCH A GREAT AGE!!!!
We're planning on doing this again next year. Check back at this blog for updates in early January on our 2010 adoption info.

Have a great holiday, all! Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas & birthday activities

We attended the Marietta tree lighting for the first time since we've lived here. The celebration wasn't QUITE as big as the one in NY city, but it was close! : - ) there were school choirs performing and a count-down 'til the lights were flicked on. Santa made an appearance -- which was nice considering his busy schedule. We were able to knock off a few shots of Mercer in front of the big tree. This photo (with the blue & red ornament) has to be one of our favorites, but it's a touch blurry. It's hard to shoot photos of this little guy in action, as he just doesn't sit still.

Todd's mom, Rose Marie, came for a visit last weekend. She came for the Christmas Tour of Homes in Marietta - oh yeah - and to see Mercer. She was talking in this pic... or singing Christmas carols? I think I've been to the Tour of Homes every year we've lived here... 10 years!?! I believe that she enjoyed the tour. In my opinion - the highlight this year was of an estate that wasn't on tour but was open to the public because they hosted the tea room (the dining venue) in this 10,000 sf house that's been abandoned for 2 years. The house, Ivy Grove, is at the top of our street / across the street from our "little" houses and I've wondered for YEARS what it was like. It was a grand manor built in the 1850s - and at one time - had 1800 acres in the estate. Unfortunately, the man who lived there passed several years ago and the house is tied up in court trying to figure out what to do with it. It needs a ton of work, but the bones of the house are amazing! I'd love for someone to buy it / fix it up AND keep all of the land around it. (We're afraid that the remaining estate around it will be sold and "developer" homes will go in around it.

After a long day of touring homes, Rose Marie watched Mercer for us while we went out to a nice dinner and to a Cirque-du-Soliel-style show called Cavalia. (This was my birthday outing, as we're both Cirque "junkies.") It's a show that has horses and acrobatics. I don't think it was as elegant as Cirque shows we've seen, but Todd thought it was more relaxing in that there wasn't as much going on that you constantly had to follow visually. There were times when the horses were able to just meander across the stage and drink water from a pool they had - which reminded us of our days camping on Cumberland Island just a week before Mercer's adoption. Then there were times when the performers did some edge-of-your-seat tricks with the horses. If anyone's a horse lover and likes Cirque shows - it's definitely worth seeing. http://www.cavalia.net/

We tried to see Santa as he was visiting the Marietta Square this year. We waited in line, got to go into his workshop, plopped Mercer up on his lap... but this year, Mercer wanted nothing to do with him! All he wanted to do was to get away from this strange man. Quite a bit different from the previous year where he was curious about who the ol' guy was! Santa didn't seem offended and gave him a candy cane - which Mercer sort of played with / clutched. Thankfully he doesn't know about candy yet (still). But, that didn't really soothe him. This last shot (with Santa looking at him) is my favorite! Don't worry - it's not making it to the Christmas card!

We did ONE final thing this week -- went to see the Lights of Life (a chiropractic college here in town that always has a huge light display throughout their campus that you drive through). They have little houses too with different holiday scenes that you walk up to and watch the characters inside. This year, they had a little petting zoo too! (Mercer was somewhat apprehensive of the baby goat!) Notice how he's leaning back to get away... funny instinct!
We have several Christmas parties this weekend to go to. I'm sure we'll be blogging about more holiday events next week! Have a nice weekend. - Candice

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The holiday season has begun

We went to Florida to visit my dad, step-mom, and the rest of the gang in Orlando over the Thanksgiving holiday. All of "the kids" were there (Charlie's children Michelle / Melissa / Freddie / Brad... my step-siblings). Unfortunately, I went to get the camera after the photo-op had passed. Some of their children were there too -- including Kyle (who visited us the week prior in Atlanta) and his sister, Kaitlin.

We spent a lot of time outdoors on Thanksgiving -- in the back yard, in the surrounding woods, by a fire pit, and by the koi pond. Mercer enjoyed feeding the fish. (Their pond has a little ledge around it that served as a good stopping-point for Mercer. He didn't seem to try to go into the pond like he does as ours.) We were able to get some nice photos of him and my dad ("grandpa") by the pond. Also, I mentioned how he turns his hands over / palms up when he says WHERE? Todd snapped a shot of him doing this by the koi pond. This is another "first" - him talking with his hands!

Dad and Charlie used to be volunteer fire-fighters. Dad used to collect fire engines (toys, antiques, etc). He had lots of things for Mercer to play with. I thought this was interesting... he had 2 perfectly good (noisy & lighted) fire trucks to play with, but he spotted a fire truck up on the ledge that was about 4' long... and Mercer kept pointing at that one. It starts young: wanting what you don't have. Ugh!

They also had a little scoot around toy for him to ride on. He "walked" it a lot moving it side-by-side instead of riding, but by the end of the day - he had it figured out more. Charlie's in the background... but again... I didn't take enough photos of everyone while there.

We stayed in a hotel this year and they had a little playground, a nature walk, and a pool - but it was just too chilly for the pool. We did not partake in any of the Disney Parks, although I imagine that we will check them out on future visits to Orlando!

This week, at home, we went to an Advent Festival that was being held at the church we've been visiting. We tried to get Mercer's face-painted, but he wouldn't sit still... he fought it as he thought he was being held down and tortured! SO, we moved onto a cake walk - which panned out well. He and I walked in circles 'til the music stopped and the square we were standing on was a winner - first try! We opted not for a cake, but for a plate full of gingerbread cookies. Mercer seemed to enjoy them. Here's a shot of a "scrunched-up" face that he makes sometimes & he thinks is hilarious. We think that it's funny, actually. Oh - he's going to be such a card!

The only other activity we did at the festival was draw on a Christmas card for a shut-in member of the church. (I added the Christmas message, but Mercer had fun playing with markers.) It was our first time to attend this festival. I'm sure we'll visit it again in years to come.

Have a great week.