Friday, August 27, 2010

Flashback Friday

It's been a while since I did a Flashback Friday post.  I figured today was an appropriate day for one since tomorrow marks a certain special event.  The picture you see below of my very manly husband and yours truly was taken 8 years ago tonight.  We had been hard at work in my parents' yard preparing for the following day's festivities. Not sure how my wedding dress slip ended up in the picture, but clearly Neil made the best of it.  While horribly blurry, this picture portrays, with perfection, the excitement that was in the air that night.   

Happy Anniversary Eve to my Neil, whom I still love with every ounce of my heart, 8 years later.

Impromptu C & R shoot

I love summer evenings in Colorado. That said, we try to spend as much of them outside as possible. The other night was like any other. With camera in hand, I let the kids do what they do while I clicked away. Ryan would not hold still to save his life, but I still managed to get some good ones... 

Do not, for a split second, let this innocent face fool you.  This boy is a terror!

Sweet and sassy Chloebug.  What can I say?  She's a doll.

I love my babies.  They make me crazy, but I love them.  How is it that they turn 5 and 2 in November?
Really, I'd like to know!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I'm so glad when daddy comes home... even if it's only for 36 hours.

Last Monday, Neil learned he could come home for the weekend.  Music to my ears!  Flights were definitely not in his favor, and the best he could do was a late night arrival on Friday, and an early afternoon departure on Sunday.  To make matters worse, his flight from Chicago into the Springs was delayed 2 hours, so he didn't even get in until after midnight.  Luckily our friend, Dan came and stayed at the house so I could sneak out and get Neil without having to wake the kids.  It was so exciting getting to actually see him.  6 weeks really isn't that long, I realize, but it was long enough for me! 

Right off the bat we wanted to surprise Chloe.  As tempting as it was all week to spill the beans, I managed to keep it a secret.  Saturday morning we woke up to Chloe laying at the foot of our bed.  She was dead asleep, so we got up and headed out to the rest of the house.  Neil went in to surprise Ryan, who was happily playing in his crib.  At first he just stood there looking at Neil, as if to say, "Well, you look familiar, but I'm not quite ready to jump into your arms yet."  Then a few seconds later, he started to say, "Dada!  Dada!  Dada!" in his grunting/zombie voice while stomping up and down, and before we knew it, he and Neil were doing their tricks and wrestling around just like old times.

I kept peeking in on Chloe and eventually found her waking up.  After motioning to Neil that it was time, I went in and sat Chloe on our bed and told her there was a surprise waiting outside the door.  Then Neil walked in the room.  Chloe just starred at him for a few seconds with a shy, sorta half smile expression.  Then, all at once, she jumped off the bed and raced into Neil's arms.  She couldn't get to him soon enough.  It was a pretty sweet moment. 

Don't mind the mis-matched outfit.  Chloe has been living in this skirt day and night.  She'll put her jammies on at bedtime, but before she goes to sleep she'll change back into this skirt.  Drives me nuts, but I guess that's part of being an independent, opinionated 4 1/2 year old.

Chloe could hardly believe it was really Neil!  It was funny observing her cycle of hugging him then pulling back to look at him. I think it actually took a few hugs and glances before it sunk in entirely that he was really there.

When Neil asked Chloe if she was happy to see him, she nodded. When he asked her what she wanted to do, she replied, "Play with you!" It's really amazing how simple a child's needs and desires can be, and how no material object can be of greater value than simple time spent with a loved one.

The first thing Chloe did after greeting/hugging/loving on her daddy was draw this picture.  Chloe is on the far right, Neil is in the middle, and I am on the left.  And, Chloe informed us, Ryan is still in my tummy.

It was a lazy, uneventful Saturday, which is exactly what we'd hoped for.

That evening we went and got Chloe a new bike helmet. Then we took a stroll to the park. Up to this point, Chloe was either too small for this bike (which she got for Christmas), or just too afraid to ride it. Neil worked with her throughout the day and helped calm her nerves. From the looks of these pictures, she loved every minute of being on that bike. That's not entirely the case, but for the most part she was a good sport. And ever since Neil left, she's been begging to go outside and practice, so clearly his efforts paid off.

Neil's visit came to an end as quickly as we knew it would.  We dropped him off at the airport on our way to church Sunday afternoon. Chloe was very sad.  

As much as we all wanted Neil to stay, I'm grateful for the 36 hours we had together. He is working so hard, and I cannot put into words the absolute love and admiration I have for him. He's a week and a half into his PA training, with a week and a half to go. He flies back to CA the night of September 3rd. I am leaving the kids with Lori and Jared that same day to meet him in the Sacramento airport, where we'll head off to celebrate the completion his training and our 8th anniversary (6 days late).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A world of enchantment

As much as I love candid shots, I'm not always the best at capturing them.  Often I'm so hung up on the technical aspects of my camera (particularly indoors where the lighting isn't generally ideal) that I sometimes miss the best moments.  I'm trying to be better about that.  Well, yesterday the kids were cracking me up in the living room.  Chloe had been fluttering around the house all afternoon in her princess attire, waving her magic wand and casting spells on her brother, when she suddenly decided it was time to dance!

I was sitting on the couch, and just happened to glance up to see Ryan fully engaged in his sister - a hit or miss occurrence these days.  My camera was sitting on the coffee table, so I quickly grabbed it and hit the shutter just in time to capture this bow.  I'm not even sure where my focus point or settings were, but all things considered I'd say I got pretty lucky.  Not the best composed shot, but definitely an "in the moment" one. 

Looking at this picture puts me in a whole different world.  A world of enchantment, innocence and glee.  These precious little souls drive me up the wall most days, but oh, how I love them.  I think I could be very happy in their little world.  Maybe I'll ask if I can stay a while.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Mama Susie!

Happy Birthday to my mother-in-law, Susie!

{Proud Grandma with Chloe, Grant & Ryan - July 2010}

Susie has been a good mama to me for nearly 8 years, and a fun grandma to my babies.  I have never met a harder working, more cheerful and energetic woman in all my life!  She is also the most thorough and efficient cleaner around, and I'm grateful that skill has rubbed off on my husband!  I'm serious!  I used to be intimidated by her tendency to want to clean whenever she came to my house.  Now I look forward to it and gladly allow her to work her magic whenever and wherever she pleases.  Not 3 hours after she arrived here to visit last month, Neil and I left her with our two kids and our nephew Grant to go run some errands.  We were gone maybe an hour and a half.  The kids were happily playing together when we got home, and after exchanging a few words, Susie nonchalantly says, "Oh, and I mopped your floors."  You what?  With a 4 1/2 year old, a 20 month old and a 19 month old running around, you mopped my floors? Are you kidding me?  The woman doesn't mess around!  And I love her for it!

I don't just love her for her cleaning skills!  I could write a full list of qualities and other reasons why I love her.  In fact, I have!  HERE!

Mama Susie, I hope this day provides laughter, happiness and all the other good things life has to offer!  Wish I could give you a big birthday hug!  Love you.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My parents

I just wanted to say a little something about my parents.  First of all, they are wonderful.  They've always been wonderful.  And I've found them to be even more wonderful these recent weeks as they've reached out to me more than ever. 

Chloe adores them - always has, of course - but on a whole new level now.  Part of it is that she's growing old enough to develop relationships and true feelings for others.  Another part of it is that she spent a solid 2 weeks with my parents in July.  It's been a pretty cool experience watching her discover what it is to love and care for someone deeply. 

She and my mom have always been close.  But this trip Chloe took a particular liking to my dad.  Tonight he told me, "Chloe's the apple of my eye."  I think if Chloe knew what that meant, she'd say the exact same thing about him.  During the time we were visiting, she would just follow Grandpa around everywhere.  She wanted to be a part of everything he was doing, and hardly left him alone.  Luckily he didn't mind one bit, and welcomed her company.  Those two developed a true bond during their time together, and it was hard to go back home for that reason. She was overjoyed when he, my brother and two of their close friends drove through last week on their way to New Orleans, and cried genuine tears the morning they left.  Since then, she's said at least once a day, "I miss my Grandpa."

Tonight I had a chance to catch up with my parents on the phone.  After getting the kids to bed and sitting down to work on the usual: pictures, I started to ponder my parents, their journey, and the amazing individuals that they are.  I find it's when I've grown that I discover yet another quality that they possess.  Well, I've been doing a lot of growing lately, so I suppose that's where this post stems from.  I am so grateful for my parents, for their hospitality, for their acceptance, for their support, for their example, and for their genuine love and concern for me and my family.  I really couldn't ask for anything more.

Grandpa with the kiddos - Hogle Zoo, July 2010
Grandma Jill with the kiddos - Paradise Bakery, July 2010
Don't I have a pretty mom?  Thanks for all you do, guys!  We love you.

On a side note, I am closing up business August 31st.  I am officially burnt out, and just too busy and stressed to be enjoying it anymore.  I do hope to resume business once I'm settled with Neil in California, but for right now my focus needs to be the kids and our home.  Once I'm caught up, which seems like an eternity away, I will be able to invest my late nights into this poor blog.  It kills me how behind I've gotten.  I took over a thousand pictures during our UT trip last month, not to mention the hundreds of May and June pictures which I have yet to even look through.  Hopefully after Labor Day I'll be able to find some ME time and get back on the blogging bandwagon.