Monday, December 5, 2016

A girl and her dog, two birthdays and Thanksgiving

Isabella had the *best* birthday ever.... she got exactly what she wanted:   a puppy and a teenage girl named Mariana come to her birthday party.  She has been talking about getting a dog for at least 2 years.  And - she had been talking about this teenager (the daughter of one of our teachers) for at least 2 months.   It was really sweet that the girl came to her party... Isabella was so excited !!

Here are photos with some of her metrics... Her height was measured and marked on the wall.  Also enclosed are photos of her with the doll Mercer gave her when we brought her home.  (Have mostly captured a photo of her with the doll for scale every 3 months~)

She talks about how the puppy loves her the most.  Truth be told, the puppy seriously loves Mercer and Todd.  Not sure which one is his favorite... he loves to jump and be active with Mercer / he loves to sit on the couch and sleep on Todd's lap.

Hip-Hop has been really good for Mercer.  He has generally been afraid of dogs, jumping, barking,  etc.  He is still a little nervous, however, he is enjoying the pup.  He has started taking on more responsibility for his care.  He told me recently when they were sitting on the couch that he was sitting next to his best friend (awwww) and I overheard him tell Hip-Hop "I love you."  WOW!  

 Hip-Hop actually backs away a lot when Isabella approaches because, honestly, she is all over him!  She is always picking him up, grabbing him around the head to hug him, and constantly trying to get him to sit in her lap.  Poor guy may be a little scared of her, but he is an awesome dog!!  He takes it, thankfully.   SHE loves HIM sooooo much!  In the car recently, she told me that she loves Mommy and Daddy all the time...  She Hip-Hop all of the time.  She loves brother only most of the time.
Isabella had a painting party to ring in her 4th year.  Grandma from North Carolina came down and helped out with the preparations and during the hosting.  We invited a couple of little kids from school + the teen-age girl + her brother.  We also invited a little boy to come over that's friends with Mercer.  There were plenty enough kids and parents in our house.  It was special for her; she had a great time.

We started out the party with "marble painting"  which consists of globs of paint on paper in a pan / drop in some marbles and shake like crazy.  This was fun, but really short.  The kids played on playground and then we dragged in most of them for painting on canvas.  While those were drying, kids "painted" their cupcakes with colored icing and loaded up candies on top of them.  They spent way more time on painting cupcakes than they did painting their canvases!!


Here are some photos of Grandma painting Isabella's nails (first time) in preparation for her party.  Earlier in the day, Mercer was teaching her how to play Pokemon!

We able to check out our neighborhood art festival that was going on the day before the party.  The same as last year, Isabella enjoyed the booth that a neighbor set up for children's painting. Mercer is getting to the age where he's able to mill about the festival on his own (it's only 1 block long and we know most of the people there -- which is pretty cool for him feeling that level of freedom).  He ended up helping a friend sell some of him products.  He made 50 cents.  With that little bit of money in his pocket, he is interested in getting a booth next year!!  

Mercer, Isabella and I had Thanksgiving break all week. We had an event of some sort planned each day, be it story time at the library or a play-date or a puppet show.

Rose Marie came into town for several days during the Thanksgiving week.  Her "cousin" from Greece has a son who lives in Marietta and their children are around Mercer and Isabella's age.  We went to their house to assemble then decorate gingerbread turkeys.     

Rose Marie's actual birthday was on Thanksgiving, however, we knew that would be busy with turkey and food prep so we celebrated a day early.  We went to a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts, made abominable snowmen puppets, then hit the Varsity.  Rose Marie went for the fully-loaded hot dog and lived to tell about it!!

Almost 10,000 people participated in the annual Gobble Jog 5k / 10k that starts on the square.  We participated one year -- we had made reservations weeks before Isabella was brought to us.  This year, we did not participate formally - however - we hung out at a neighbor's house to cheer on / welcome racers to our street.  

After that, Thanksgiving was full of cooking (and Todd's first smoked turkey - which was delicious).  There was some outside time and finger painting as well.  

Isabella "went went went" all day long.  By the time dinner was finally ready, she was done.  She crashed and slept through the meal!!!

Rose Marie left the morning after Thanksgiving.  Isabella and I went to our first tea party later that afternoon.  One of our neighbors – Martina - invited us to join her, another neighbor - Barbara - and Barbara’s granddaughters.  Martina told me that we had to wear pearls… and she was absolutely serious!  So, Isabella and I went shopping for pearls the weekend before.  (We picked up some vintage costume jewelry at a nearby antique store; while we were at it, we shopped for a porcelain child’s tea set as well because we will be hosting a tea of our own soon.)  

Martina used real tea cups for everyone – including the little girls – and she told us the history of the tea pot that she used:  a gift to her for hosting a family during the Olympics.  She offered finger sandwiches, cookies and petit fours.  Then, she read the book The Giving Tree to the girls and talked about the meaning behind the story.  Isabella scraped all of the chocolate off of the cookies with her teeth and left the rest of the cookies on her plate.  

Isabella tried the tea, but did not like it.  She still seemed to have a good time overall.  Mainly, she wanted to play with the dogs that were there, touch or pick up the breakable items displayed on the tables, and talk to the other little girls.  It was a tad-bit stressful for us parents, but still nice to try something new!

The next day, we went for a hike at Kennesaw Mountain.  The weather has been gorgeous and we needed to make-up a hike and some activities for Cub Scouts that we missed because the troop had theirs planned at the same time as Isabella’s birthday party.   Hip-Hop has been working up his stamina on walks… and this was the first time he went to the mountain.  He did really well – keeping up with everyone and not going crazy when he came in contact with another dog.  We all went to a local tree farm afterwards – a first for all of us.  Todd cut down a Murry Cypress tree that’s about 8’ tall / we carried it up / they shook it, bundled it up, and loaded it onto Todd’s truck.  They gave the kids candy canes and a commemorative ornament as well.  It was not too much different in price than getting from a store; it felt a bit better to support a local farmer!!

Our Christmas decorating has begun.  It felt weird to start in late November, however, it was nice to get a jump on the season!!  It will be a busy one.... especially with our spunky / energetic newly-turned 4 year old!!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Baseball, Halloween, Politics and a Rememberance

Mercer finished up his first season in the Minors level at his Little League. This level no longer utilizes a pitching machine or coach-pitch... they have kids pitch.  The game is quite a bit different -- there is a lot of base stealing in the game and the strategy has changed quite a bit because of it.  Mercer did well playing 1st base and with his hitting, but, he was also a go-to pitcher in many of the games!!  Here are some photos from his pitching debut as well as some cool sliding shots and other action shots.  

Also, one of the moms of the players was taking photos throughout the season.  Here are some of moments that she captured.  Todd was a co-coach again this season and although we have ups / downs sometimes during baseball regarding Mercer wanting to continue to play.... he seems that he is up for it and enjoying the game.  (whew!)

Halloween has come and gone.  

Halloween fell on a Monday, so, it wasn't quite as long / things were cut short a bit. After the neighborhood Halloween party, we did trick-or-treat, however, people went home pretty quickly when the treat-seeking was done.  Mercer actually decided not to go all the way to the end of our street with his friends, rather, once he made it to our house - he decided to hand out candy with me.  Isabella went all the way to the end with Todd and some pre-teen girls (of course!)  

Mercer's costume is HILARIOUS !!!  He originally wanted to do something with Pokemon, however, when he saw this costume -- he quickly changed his mind!  Isabella loved it as well and saw an infant hot dog costume that she kept trying to cram into.  She settled for a "My Little Pony" costume which was cute.  (And popular -- we ran into a couple of other "Rainbow Dash" ponies.) The kids got to wear their costumes a lot this year.  Isabella got to wear hers at school and to ballet.  Mercer got to wear his again on a church field trip to a nursing home.  I am sure that he made those residents smile!  He sure made us smile with this goofy costume~

Isabella and I have been sick lately with bronchitis.  (Here's a picture of her taking her breathing treatments.  sniff sniff~)  AND Todd sprained his ankle this past week.  He was out of town for work, then I went out of town to be with family in Florida.  It's been a crazy week.  

I went out of town to be with my step-mother, Charlie, dad, and step-sisters / step-brother as we remembered my other step-brother, Brad.  He died at the early age of 46 because of liver failure (and ultimately other system failure).  There was a big family gathering in Florida to remember him and be with other family members.  I honestly did not know very many people there, but am glad that I went to be with them all.  

Here are photos of my step-brother Freddie and his father, Fred.... my dad... step-sister Michelle and me... Michelle's daughter, Katie, with her grandmother / my step-mom Charlie. Since I didn't know too many people, I took tons of photos of all of the guests to give to them.  These are the family members who I'm the closest with, however.

Here are some photos we took this fall of the kids at a nearby school with Hip Hop + a giant pumpkin.  We looked up "dog friendly" corn mazes - however - there was only 1 in the metro area and it was really really expensive / far away, so we opted not to take him.  Below are some photos from the place where we went to buy pumpkins and go through a corn maze (sans the dog).  It's probably a good thing that he was not with us... there was an incident with Mercer.  He got stung in the mouth by a yellow jacket that flew into the hot apple cider he was drinking.  We ended up spending time tracking down a drug store for benedryl and children's pain medicine.  His lip did swell, but that was it thankfully.  We kept checking in on him regarding that and the pharmacist was pretty adamant about making sure his lip was the only thing swelling / making sure his breathing was not impaired.  This was Mercer's first sting as far as we know and he did have a reaction.  It is something we'll have to continue to watch in the future!!  ~Poor guy~

Yesterday, the presidential election took place.  It was brutal.  Neither candidate was perfect.  Each had their issues.  One candidate spewed hateful words and disgraced a number of different populations based on race, religion, gender and "looks."  This candidate won.  This is who almost 50% of the population want to represent our country --  someone who does not value every person as an equal.  Someone who does not want inclusion, rather wants to divide.  This is frightening.  I am absolutely afraid for our little family unit that is not white.  I am afraid for my daughter.  I must remind her to "
never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."  

There is an odd feeling in the air today.  There are people who are gloating while others are grieving.    America has voted.  Sexism, racism and discrimination are accepted in our country.  Everything that I teach my children that is unacceptable has been rewarded.  This is hard for me to swallow.  

I will continue to have FAITH that kindness, acceptance and compassion will overcome fear, hate and oppression.  

Be the best YOU that you can be.  Serve your community.  Love others.... ALL others.