Friday, August 31, 2012

Girls' Weekend. {365 - Day 244}

Sarah Beth and I took a last minute trip to visit Grandma and Grandpa, while Kurt stayed home to hang out with the dogs and get some work done.   The mountains greeted us with their usual splendor.   Tomorrow, the Apple Festival, after pancakes that is.  Sarah Beth's special request.

Day 244 {iPhone}

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cubby. {365 - Day 243}

Guess who has her very own cubby?  Today was open house at SB's preschool.  We had orientation and popsicles on the playground the night before.  This morning, she got to meet her teachers and spend a little time exploring her classroom.

She LOVED it.  She bounced right in and started to play.  She tried out all the toys and enjoyed meeting other kids.  I think what held the biggest fascination for her was the toddler-sized potty and sink.  "Just my size!" she said.  And of course she had to try it out.  The only time she got upset was when we had to leave.  She can't wait to go back next week.

Day 243 {iPhone + Photoshop}

She requested a Buzz Lightyear lunchbox.  Well, actually she said "Bud Light" but we knew what she meant.  I guess we need to explain that to her teachers so when she runs around hollering "Bud Light!" they don't think we've got beer cans strewn all over the house.  Low and behold, we found a Toy Story lunchbox for her so she is doubly excited.  There are 11 boys in her class and only 3 girls.  We're not worried though.  Sarah Beth can hold her own.  Especially with Bud Light in her corner.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

New Perspective. {365 - Day 242}

Several people have asked for an update on our sleep saga now that Sarah Beth has a gigantic bed which, we hoped, would keep her in her room, sound asleep all night.  The past few months, she's been visiting us on an almost nightly basis, crawling into our bed and taking up more than her proportionate amount of space, shall we say?  It hasn't gone exactly as planned. She is still waking up and wandering in most nights.

Last night, a friend of mine sent an email about running a 5K in honor of a 7 year old little girl who lost her life to cancer a few months ago.  In the email was a heartbreaking message from the girl's mother about how she and her family were coping with their grief.  I sat at my computer sobbing for these people whom I have never met.  I can't even begin to comprehend what they are going through.  The thought of something happening to my sweet baby girl makes my throat close up and my eyes burn with tears.

Suddenly, my midnight visitor didn't seem like such an intrusion.  What would those parents give to have their sweet child waking them up every night to snuggle with them?  So after tossing and turning in bed for a few minutes, I quietly got up and crawled into her bed.  I held her close and kissed her forehead and thanked God every time she kicked me with those little feet of hers. 

Today, Sarah Beth and I had a fun date.  I wanted to spend the day enjoying her laughter and silliness.  We took the light rail downtown to Imaginon, then had lunch followed by a stroll on the Green.  She walked on every wall on the perimeter of the little park, then stopped to pose in front of the book sculpture.  It was humid and a little rainy but it was the best day ever.  Every day is, when I'm with her.

Day 242 {iPhone + Photoshop}

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Taco Tuesday. {365 - Day 241}

I believe we may have found a new tradition.  Taco Tuesday at Loco Lime.  A la carte tacos for $1.  I got 3 veggie tacos and ate some of SB's rice from the kid's meal and felt fat and happy.  What a deal.  I think the table side guacamole cost more than our dinners combined.  Next time we want to eat cheap, we'll just stick to the salsa.

Day 241 {iPhone + a smidge of photoshop}

Monday, August 27, 2012

Play with me. {365 - Day 240}

There is nothing harder to turn down than a hopeful 3 year old sweetly asking "Will you please play with me, Mommy?"  Nine times out of ten I drop what I'm doing to play, even if it's just for a few minutes.  Today was one of those days and the subject of playtime was Mr. Tay-to, as she calls him.

This below was her own creation.   Sarah Beth turns down all my suggestions.   Apparently, I know nothing about how to select appropriate eyes and noses and such.  It's all "No-no Mommy.  Not that one."  Good thing we have a potato head expert in the family.  Otherwise, Tay-to would be a hot mess.

Day 240 {iPhone + Photoshop}

Gold Hill. {365 - Day 239}

After a lazy morning of French toast and The Lorax on DVD, we decided we should actually get off the couch and do something.  Historic Gold Hill has been on Kurt's to-do list for a while, so off we went.  It's about an hour's drive from Charlotte.  We weren't sure what to expect.  The website said it was an old Gold Mining town, with shops and a restaurant and a park.  We were pleasantly surprised when we got there to find several quaint shops to browse in along the wooden sidewalks and fields dotted with old barns.

 Day 239 {Canon 5D Mark III + Photoshop}

Our first stop was The Stamp Mill Cafe for lunch.  
Very cute spot with nice people and a great menu.

After stuffing ourselves, we wandered through the old buildings 
and found the metalworker's shop.  
The coolest thing about this shop, other than the metal sculptures, was that it was on the honor system.  There was no shopkeeper.  Take what you want and just drop a check or cash in the box.  And if you don't have either, take a self-addressed envelope and mail it later.  Hello, have we traveled through some time vortex back to when people trusted one another?  We had to buy something just to show our appreciation for the owner's faith in humanity, so we purchased a metal quail to add to our yard art collection. 

 The roof of the metalworker's workshop had a flock of metal birds gathered on the roof.  I can't tell you how much I loved this.

After that, we stopped at the general store for ice cream.  Chocolate, of course. 

The old general store.

Did a little browsing, then walked over to the park.  There was a playground there for Sarah Beth to try out.  She approved.

Also at the park were some of the old mine shafts.  Not your usual park attraction.  There were several fenced off areas that I imagine are very dangerous and very scary.  There was one shaft you could look down into, and there were even stairs so you could see if from underground.  I chose to stay in the daylight, but Kurt peeked down there and said it was very cool.

An ore mill.  I've seen old millstones like these all over but have never seen one mounted.

The jail.  Guess back in prospectin' days, theft was a real  problem.
Before we left, we stopped at the Indigo Teahouse, a lovely little shop with a garden outside chock full of butterflies.  Sarah Beth was most impressed with the shop cat, who woke up long enough to say hello and stretch before resuming her nap on the antique sofa in the shop's living room.  We would love to have stayed for a cup of tea and chat with the owners, but we had to get on the road and took our tea to go.  
Indigo Tea Market

Apparently we missed out, because yesterday was a big bluegrass festival.  They have a nice stage in the park, and bluegrass is played every Friday night in the summer.  They also have special events throughout the year, even at Christmas time.  Everyone was so welcoming here.  We will definitely be back.   If you find yourself near China Grove some day, make the trip to Gold Hill.  You'll be happy you did!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Behind Bars. {365 - Day 238}

For those of you following the Sleep Study saga from the other night, we've had mixed results.  Night one went relatively well - Sarah Beth woke up once at 2:30AM, but I managed to get her back to sleep in her own bed for the rest of the night.  Night two, however, did not go as smoothly.  She woke up at 3AM, looking for water and "Mommy's bed."  I walked her back to her room and snuggled with her a little, trying to relax her back to sleep.  She stared back at me with eyes wide open like a lemur.

Finally, after 37 minutes of stories (not that I was counting) she dozed off.  I foolishly sneaked back into our room, only to be followed shortly after by the pitter patter of little feet.  Back for round two, she was even more wide-eyed (closer to a tarsier, maybe?)  If I closed my eyes for a minute while I was telling a story, I could feel her stare burning through my eyelids.  If I stopped talking or singing, she would sit up and demand more entertainment.  Finally, I gave up and shut off her nightlight, told her she was closing her eyes and that was it, and went to sleep.  I woke up in her bed with stacks of puzzles and books on top of me and a demanding toddler inviting me to a tea party on the floor.   Oh boy.  Hoping we fare better tonight.

Since I got oh so much sleep last night, today was a real joy.  Sarah Beth, of course, has boundless energy so she was her usual perky self as she dragged me around the park this afternoon.  Here she is sitting still for two seconds pretending she's "in jail."   I don't know how she even knows what jail is.  Let's hope this is the last time we get a mug shot like this!

Day 238 {iPhone + photoshop}

Friday, August 24, 2012

Shadows. {365 - Day 237}

This afternoon I was sitting in our neighbor's backyard watching the kids romp around, and I realized the weather was absolutely perfect.  Not too hot.  A little breezy.  Just lovely.  So we headed home and I told Kurt to quit working, we were going for a walk.

We hit the greenway, SB in her stroller for the most part, so we got a little exercise in too.  Mostly, we just enjoyed the slightest hint of Fall in the air.  We let SB run around one of the fountains, which is where I took this picture of the three of us. 

Day 237 {iPhone +Photoshop}

On the way back, Sarah Beth proclaimed that she was hungry and needed something to eat, directing us to a restaurant we were passing.  Ever the obedient parents, we agreed and had a quick dinner before finishing our walk.  Perfect Friday night.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sleep Study. {365 - Day 236}

First of all, this is admittedly a poor quality photo, even by iPhone standards.  But if I ran down to get my real camera, I would have missed the bed jumping altogether.  So please excuse the blurriness. 

Day 236 {Cruddy iPhone}

Sarah Beth has a habit of waking up in the middle of the night, drinking water, then crawling into bed with us.  It's been going on for months, and frankly, it's getting a little crowded. The thing is, it's not about us.  It's about our bed.  If she wakes up before Kurt and I go to sleep, she will just hop in our bed and tuck herself in.  When we were on the road, she slept in her own queen sized bed at the hotels with no late night visits to Mommy's bedside.  So, our theory is her toddler bed is too small. 

To prove this theory, Kurt pulled an extra queen mattress out of our garage and flopped it on her floor.  She helped make up the bed, then proceeded to bounce around in her princess costume, teaching Daddy the proper way to jump on a bed. 

We are counting on this to work.  If not, tomorrow morning Sarah Beth may find herself alone in our bed, and Mommy and Daddy sleeping in her room.  Wish us luck.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

At the Sandbox. {365 - Day 235}

"Mom, I want to go the beach."
"We are going to the beach in a few weeks."
"I want to go to the beach RIGHT NOW."
"Me too.  But we can't go  right now.  The sandbox will have to do."
"Oh, alright Mom. Let's build a birthday cake then."

Day 235 {iPhone}

Hoot. {365 - Day 234}

We took a trip to the Carolina Raptor Center today.  We are lucky here in Charlotte to have this amazing raptor rehabilitation and education center so close.  We joined last time we visited, but hadn't had the chance to come back for a while.  So with the weather being slightly overcast and not too hot, we thought we'd visit some birds.

"Birds" is an understatement.  These raptors are magnificent creatures.  From majestic bald eagles to eerily intelligent ravens, it was a fabulous visit as always.

Day 234 {Canon 5D Mark III + Photoshop}

Monday, August 20, 2012

Insta-Walk {365 - Day 233}

The weather was finally not oppressively hot, and Kurt took Sarah Beth to the playground, so I took the opportunity to take a long walk.  I had already gotten a workout at the Y, so I took my time and enjoyed the scenery, instagram-ing as I went.

Day 233 {iPhone + Instagram, of course}


Charlotte people do you recognize any of these spots?  Is anyone as obsessed with Instagram as I am?  I know I should be used to it by now, but having my phone, music and camera in one device is still the coolest thing ever.  Especially when you're on a long walk with no pockets.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Discerning Palate. {365 - Day 232}

SB  used to eat anything we put in front of her.  We rarely made special "kid food" for her.   Slowly but surely, however, as she approached her 3rd birthday, all that went out the window and she is now picky.  Well, maybe not picky so much as opinionated and stubborn?  If it's not pancakes, cereal, a Lara bar, or some variety of chip, it's about a 50/50 shot whether or not she'll eat it.

Tonight was a hit.  Brown rice pasta and walnut pesto using basil from our garden.  She loved it and ate almost the whole plate.  Score.  We have plenty leftover, so I'm guessing she will change her mind and hate it tomorrow, demanding rice cakes instead.  

Day 232 {iPhone}

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Swingin' {365 - Day 231}

Family trip to the park today.  We tried to think of something different to do, but we were overruled by someone screaming "PLAYGROUND!" over and over at the top of her lungs.  So after a visit to the Farmer's Market and lunch at Brixx, we headed over to Princeton Park.

We didn't stay long because there was a birthday party at the shelter and they had speakers bigger than a small car.  It was a bit loud for us. 

Day 231 {Canon 5D Mark III + Photoshop}

  We stayed long enough to get some quality swing time in though. There is something magical about a swing that guarantees lots of giggles and a few squeals of delight.

For the grand finale of the day, we walked over to the snack truck and SB picked out a hideous Dora ice cream on a stick.  Her eyes were gumballs so I had to pluck them out before serving it to Sarah Beth.  Creepy.  She ate about three bites before losing interest.  It tasted worse than it looked.  No more weird ice cream for us.  We'll stick to chocolate in a cup.  No eyeballs.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Prodigy. {365 - Day 230}

Well, maybe "prodigy" is a bit of an overstatement.  She is very enthusiastic though.
For a while now, I haven't played much piano since little Miss Bossy Pants was not a fan.  She would cry and yell and attempt to force-ably push me off the bench.  Everyone's a critic.  So rather than put up a fight, I let the piano collect dust for several months.

Today, I thought I'd try again to see what happened.  I'd really like to start exposing her to the piano so when she's old enough for real lessons, she'll maybe enjoy it as much as I did as a child.  She did try to evict me from the bench, but gave up after a few minutes and played quietly, putting up with my "noise" as she called it.

Then, it was her turn.  She flipped through the sheet music "looking for a better song" as she put it, then started to play and sing.  The lyrics were something like "I love Gnomeo"  (she's still obsessed with that movie) and "going to the playground" followed by a section about Daddy.    Cuteness.  Hopefully it won't turn into songs of teen angst and heartbreak anytime soon.  Gnomeo sounds good to me.

Day 230 {iPhone + Photoshop}

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Lollipop {365 - Day 229}

This afternoon we skipped across the street to visit our neighbor Gavin.  Gavin's Mommy had a  big surprise for Sarah Beth....a huge swirly lollipop.  Sarah Beth was delighted.  She had never seen such a thing.

About 10 minutes after I took this snapshot of her concentrating on her lollipop, she came running back over to me with a big chunk of lollipop stuck in her pigtail.  Oops.  The hazards of mixing pigtails with sticky candy.  We got it unstuck, fortunately, but that was the end of the lollipop for a while.  Next time we'll switch to a ponytail.

Day 229 {iPhone + Photoshop}

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Conversation with a 3 Year Old. {365 - Day 228}

At the ice cream parlor today...

Me:  So, Mommy got her hair cut this morning.  Do you like it?
SB:  I got a haircut too!
Me:  Oh really? Which one?
SB:  This one right here!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tunnel. {365 - Day 227}

Day one back in the saddle here in Charlotte.  After  4000 hours in the car this week, I was dying to get some exercise, so I took a brisk walk along the newest section of greenway.  The greenway here follows a picturesque creek, chock full of pretty foliage and wildlife.  There are quite a few underpasses, however, that clearly flood when it rains.  Just a smidge on the creepy side too.  This one also had a big drain on the side wall with water rushing out of it.  Hoping it was clean, at least, as I ran through and kicked water up all over myself. 

Day 227 {iPhone + Photoshop}

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Long Road Home. {365 - Day 226}

You know how the last leg of the journey of an epic trip is always the longest?  Today was that day.  We drove from Martinsburg, WV back to our home sweet home in Charlotte.  We tried to plan a stop midway for lunch and something to do, so Roanoke looked like a good option.  I googled "Things to do in Roanoke" and came up with a little village-type shopping area with restaurants that sounded fun.  I plugged the address into Google Maps and away we went.

We quickly realized that Google did not account for safety and crime statistics when choosing the best route, because before we knew it we were in what you may describe as the 'hood of Roanoke.  Boarded up buildings, random mattresses on front porches, sketchy people eyeing our family truckster...not a good scene.

We made a hasty retreat and headed towards the downtown area, back towards the interstate.  On our way, we found a decent little area with some friendly-looking places to stop for lunch, so we parked the car and strolled around a bit.  It looks like they're trying to revitalize this part of town.  Lots of farmer's market space along with some neat new shops in these cool old buildings.

Not a bad place to stop if you're in need of a break on I-81, but do your homework when deciding which exit to take!

Day 226 {iPhone + photoshop}

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Twins! {365 - Day 225}

We continued our tour of New Jersey today with a trip to LBI to visit the newest additions to our family tree, my cousin's adorable twins, Max and Evelyn.  Sarah Beth got a kick out of meeting her new cousins (two babies?!) and we enjoyed catching up and talking about the things parents of young children talk about like poop and sleep deprivation.  Before we left, we snapped a few pictures of the 3 cuties.

Day 225 {Canon 5D Mark III}

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Twin Lights. {365 - Day 224}

We took a little drive down memory lane today, heading out to Sandy Hook, then driving up to Twin Lights in Highlands.  This was one of my favorite spots growing up.  The view is pretty amazing, but getting to the top was not easy for me. 

Apparently, I have what one may call a phobia of open staircases. You know the kind, you can see right through to the ground below.  Especially bad for me are spiral staircases. Oh, and I'm not a big fan of tight spaces either.  Like lighthouses, for example.  So, overall, this was not a good plan, but I put on a brave face and made it up the steps, trying not to look down at the open stairs below.  After all, I had done this dozens of times as a kid, so it should be a piece of cake, right?  Wrong.

Sarah Beth got a little scared too, so Daddy carried her up to the top.  Lucky her.  The view was lovely, but I was already worried about the trip down.  Down is always worse.  You kind of have to look down to see the steps, and that's when I get panicky and a little dizzy.  I had to force myself down the steps, one by one, with Kurt and Sarah Beth chanting "you can do it Mommy."  Great.  I love that my 3 year old was less scared than I was.  When I got to the bottom, my legs were shaky and I looked at Kurt and said "never again."

Here are my two cheerleaders, on solid ground.

Day 224 {Canon 5D Mark III}

The Twin Lights.  Tower of Doom in the foreground.

Cutie Patootie. {365 - Day 223}

I know I know, I posted a super cute photo of this little one yesterday.  But I can't help it.  She's about the cutest baby of all time, after all.  Miss Gracie looked just divine in yellow this afternoon.

We tried to go to the beach this morning, but after a nice breakfast in Avon, the storm of the century unleashed and we had to flee back home.  So today's photo opp occurred in the foyer, post nap.

Day 223 {365 - Day 223}

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Peaches. {365 - Day 222}

We are in New Jersey visiting my best friend since the age of three and her family.  Jen has a son, Colin, who is all boy and the object of all of Sarah Beth's attention, and a ridiculously cute little girl named Gracie.  This was the first time I got to meet her and I've been dying to snap a few pictures of her precious little face.

This afternoon we went peach picking.  For those of you not in the know, New Jersey really is the Garden State.  SB had a blast chasing after Colin, and I finally got to point my lens at Gracie and her big blue eyes.

Day 222 {Canon 5D Mark III}

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Op Love Mom {Charlotte Family Photography}

A few weeks ago I met this family on a Saturday morning to do an Op Love Shoot.  Mom was being deployed for a year to build water wells in Africa.  She is leaving behind 2 beautiful children, ages 3 and 1, and a loving husband.  As a mom, I can't imagine leaving my child for such a long time.  It broke my heart, listening to her talk about how her little son will be talking by the time she gets back.  Her little ones will miss her so much.  I hope the time goes by quickly for them and their Mommy is home before they know it.

Disclaimer:  The photos and other content of this publication do not imply any endorsement or recommendation by the Department of Defense.