Meeting Cinderella

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The first morning waking up in our hotel room….we had two happy girls!  They were so eager to get the day started considering the night before, we were sitting pool side watching Brave on a big screen and they were up past their bed time.  Addisan continually said to us the sweetest things to show her appreciation of this trip.  She is wise beyond her years.

The first morning there, we were allowed to enter the park before the general public.  My parents had given us breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle for our Christmas gift.  This was better than anything they could have unwrapped and put on their shelves.  This memory was priceless!

It was so quiet when we entered the park.  It was so nice just to take it all in with the girls and not have to fight our way through lines.


We walked around a little bit before going to the castle.  They were so nice there at the castle and were able to seat us before our reservation.

When we entered the castle, we got our pictures taken with Cinderella.  I did not know this was part of the breakfast package.  We were quite pleased!  The girls were sooooo in heaven.

The little details around the castle really made you feel like you were back in time.


When we were seated, they gave each of the girls a wand.  Throughout our meal, they would have some magical words and the kids were to wave their wands around in the air.  It was precious!

They even gave the girls wishing stars.




Throughout the meal, the princesses would come and meet the girls.  These actresses truly took on the characters from their mannerisms to their appearances.

The food was pretty good too!  Disney never let’s you down.

This was one of my favorite memories as a mother so far.  Going to Disney World as a child was fun, but as a parent, it is truly magical to see the world through your daughters’ eyes.


The Home Stretch to the Magic Kingdom

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We were very fortunate because I had a snow day from school on the Friday we were leaving.  We were able to get a head start and get down to our hotel in South Carolina earlier than expected.  We even managed to find a Sweet Frogs along the way to stop at off of I95.  

We have discovered Hampton Inns.  They serve a great hot breakfast….for a hotel that is.  We could make our own waffles, there were muffins, omelets, cereal…and the list goes on and on.

The girls were such troopers when we arrived at Disney World.  Addisan is such a wonderful big sister to Campbell.  She truly looks after her.  I love this picture of the two of them because they are still smiling after a long car ride while Tommy checks us in.

When we arrived in our room, it reminded me almost of a cruise ship.  They did our towels into fancy shaped animals.  

The first thing the girls did when we arrived to our hotel room was go out onto our patio overlooking the “safari.”

Here is what we saw daily outside of our window.  It was amazing!

On the first day, we were not in our room for more than an hour before catching the shuttle bus to Downtown Disney.  The shuttle system was fabulous!  We did not have to wait more than fifteen minutes for any of our shuttles.  We often took advantage of the wait by taking pictures. 

There was so much to do and see there.  We did not have as much time there as we would have liked due to our dinner reservation at our hotel at Boma.  The food was AWESOME!  They had entertainment and kid friendly choices for dinner.  The girls dined on chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

This is what my plate looked like…..many African dishes that were so yummy!!

This was my dessert plate.  I had some of the best bread pudding in the world!

Addisan started noticing all the subtle Mickey Mouse symbols throughout the hotel and parks.  This was the one that was on the back of her chair that began her quest to locate more Mickeys.  

She even started making her own.

After dinner, we walked to the site at our hotel where we could use night goggles to watch the animals.  It was pretty cool!


The Beginning of a Trip to Remember

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The girls’ big Christmas gift this year was a trip to Disney World.  This has been in the works for months.  Tommy and I are doing our best as parents to emphasize to the girls that creating memories with the ones you love is more important than something that sits on your shelf that you forget about.  To be honest, the only things my girls play with on a consistent basis anyways, are their dress up clothes and art supplies.  


So on Christmas morning, Ariel called the girls to inform them that they would be going on a trip to Disney World very soon.  Campbell was indifferent, being that it was not concrete and in front of her.  Addisan on the other hand…

We went with a Disney theme for their gifts this year.  On Christmas Eve, the girls receive a pair of pajamas and a book from us.  This year, it was a Minnie nightgown along with a Disney Book.  These nightgowns were on clearance at Target (on-line) for only $6!  I love a good bargain!



There are some years that I will also purchase matching pajamas for the “big” girls too.


Santa brought the girls matching pillowcase dresses made by an elf named Etsy.  I thought these would be ideal not knowing what the weather would be like in Florida in January.  I could layer them with short or long sleeve shirts and in the summer, they can be worn without anything underneath.


Santa also brought them two long sleeve shirts along with Britta water bottles in preparation for our trip.


Three weeks later, we were ready for our trip and bags were packed.


I purchased their souvenirs prior to going.  Each item was a Disney themed gift from the dollar bin at Michael’s.  It gets better though….they were 75% off and to top that, I was able to use my teacher discount!!!  Each morning, they could pick  a new souvenir.  


My parents were very gracious and let us borrow their Prius.  I am in LOVE with their car.  It is so high tech compared to our older Hondas.  We spent less than $200 in gas roundtrip.  Not too shabby!

The girls were rock stars during the lengthy car ride.  There was minimum bickering, especially considering we do not own a portable DVD player.  Each of them received an iPod touch for their birthdays this past year.  We do not splurge on gifts like this for their birthdays, but we thought this would be a gift that they can grow into for years to come as well as help the car ride go by quickly for them.  They played several games and listened to their music during the car ride.  


For a good portion of the trip, they played imaginative games as well as did lots of artwork.  They truly amazed me how well behaved they were.

Too much to write for one blog entry…more to come.  All I can say though…this vacation was magical!





Play, Play, Play…and Play

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I thought I enjoyed plays, but I think Addisan has me beat.  She has always been very into the arts and drama.  Not sure how she is my kid  sometimes considering I grew up in a swim cap and cleats year round:)  I really do enjoy going to the theater and do my best to take Addisan (and Campbell) as much as possible.  I try to rationalize it to Tommy by reminding him that we seldom go to the movies (unless it is at the Byrd Theater which tickets are $1.99) and that we are not ones who indulge our kids with purchasing toys throughout the year.  

So today we went to go see Madeline’s Christmas at the Barksdale Theater. This theater is very small and intimate.  The performance was amazing, considering 12 of the main characters were young girls.  Madeline herself was unbelievable.  When leaving, Addisan asked if she could return to SPARC for the hope of one day being able to take part in a performance like this.  


One of my goals this year is to get more family shots and not to worry (too much) how I look in pictures.





Yesterday, we went up to the Kennedy Center (one of my favorite places) to see an Eric Carle series at their Family Theater with some of our friends.  Eric Carle is one of my all time favorite children’s authors.  This puppet crew was from Scandinavia and used black lights to make their puppets glow.  It was AMAZING.  They performed The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Brown Bear; and Papa, Get Me the Moon.


Tommy and his girls before the perfomance.  They have him wrapped around their little fingers.

Campbell exhausted from all the picture taking.

Some girl time.


The girls watching their first snowfall of the season…on the rooftop at the Kennedy Center. 


It is hard to see, but there are snowflake images floating on the ceiling.



All the kids after the show.  It amazes me that they are all actually looking at the camera.


In the beginning of December, Addisan and I went to our annual performance of The Nutcracker.  She has been going since she was 2 1/2 and looks forward to each year.  It amazes me how two kids can be so different.  Campbell, at the age of 4, still could not sit through this lengthy show.  We invited our friends to go with us this year.  We had a wonderful picnic that we brought from home on the rooftop and this was our view….not too shabby!

We have seen more plays this month than we have all year long.  The last play that we saw was How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  It was awesome.  I was a little nervous because it was on a school night at 7:30.  The girls were rock stars!!  I was glad we went on a weeknight because the weekend shows had technical difficulty and the lights went out.  They were not able to get them back on!  

Of course, The Grinch and Max had to join us.


Campbell was asleep within minutes of leaving the performance.  I bet she was dreaming of snow!


We are now in the process of finalizing our plans to see Mary Poppins in February.  This will be my second time seeing it and I am soooo excited.  It is one of my favorite stories of all times!



Time for Catch Up

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As many of you know, I tend to get side tracked very easily.  I have SLACKED big time on our family blog.  I have tried scrap booking and other ways to keep my memories fresh and nothing has worked, except the blog (with the exception of the past few months).   Our girls have grown so much, both inside and out.  Addisan has learned to go with the flow more and let the little things roll off her back (which I need to start doing) and Campbell has more spunk than I know what to do with.  I have heard folks who scrapbook say to start with the most current event and work backward.  I think that is what I am going to try to do in order to get caught up.  I want my girls to look back on this blog as they grow as a personal diary of the memories we have created.  As I sit here typing now, I here giggles upstairs and they are “suppose” to be winding down for bedtime.  There is nothing better than the sound of my girls’ laughter…..except maybe the sound of them snoring after some long, high energy wintry days:)


No More Tu-Tus…..at least on Saturday Mornings

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This is Campbell’s first season playing soccer at our local YMCA.  She was very excited at first….pink cleats, pink shorts, pink shin guards….you get the point.  Then reality started setting in.  She would have to wear jerseys to the games and not her stained heart shirt that she loves so dearly, she would have to share the ball with others on the field, and so many other things that were not on her wish list!

Campbell loves to play soccer at home in the front yard. Her coordination is fabulous and her speed is remarkable.  As her mother, I am a little biased, I know!  Somehow though, when she got on the soccer field with 9 other kids and 2 coaches, she would freeze and not do anything.  The only thing she would look forward to would be the water breaks to use her “cool” water bottle.

When the season first started, my only condition was that she had to go on the field the FIRST time the coach asked.  I did not care if she touched the ball or not…I just wanted her to be on the field (and hopefully without tears).

At the beginning, we would be ecstatic if she even touched the ball. 

I am not one to bribe, but I did not know what else to do.  So I told her if she actually ran with the ball, that we would pass her a Reese’s Pieces on her way down the sideline.  THIS WORKED!  Now she is playing and actually making contact with the ball and we do not even have to bribe her anyone.


Now Campbell is a true soccer pro….


Now Addisan even wants to play next year!  There is some hope for my girly girls!

Watching Campbell grow with her confidence makes me smile!


Can You Feel The Love Tonight…

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We went to go see The Lion King with some great friends around the corner from us.  Unfornately, my girlfriend had a family emergency and was out of town, so her husband was my date and chauffeur for Addisan and their three kids.  What a great man (and brave) for taking all of us! 
This girl loves nothing better than going to the theater.  She loves the music and just comes to life watching the actors.  You can see it in her eyes and her imagination starts to churn.  Watching her play make-believe games by herself and with her sister, she is constantly performing as though she has an audience in front of her. 

Below is a picture of her during intermission with her overpriced cookie.  I was hoping to get a picture of all the kids together, but time got away from me.  If you have seen The Lion King, you know why I lost track of time….the music and the puppetry is absolutely amazing!  Even with the show being during her nap time, she was fully engrossed for the whole THREE hours!  On the way home though, I knew she was really tired when she was showing Mr. Patrick how she could gargle her own spit.  I know, I am not sure where she gets these special talents….from her mother or from her father?

I felt guilty not bringing Campbell, but I knew she was not going to be able to handle the performance.  I have mother’s guilt that I have been taking Addisan to the theater since she was 2 1/2 and poor Campbell has gotten gypped.  This past year, we have brought her to two children’s performances and she did fabulous……BUT they are only an hour long and there is no intermission. It is amazing how two girls raised in the same environment can be so different, but it is nice how they compliment each other so nicely.

Being with my little theater critic with great friends makes me smile!

Work in Progress……six years and still counting

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So finally after six years living in this house, we have finally started to think about Carmella’s Room (aka the “formal” living area).  For those who did not know Carmella, she was our guinea pig and this is the room where we housed her cage and the kids took her on stroller rides.  

This winter, I had all of these color samples on the wall.  I have a commitment problem with colors just like I do with choosing photos from our photographer.  I need to take the attitude of a true test taker and go with my first instinct and not look back.
  
Tommy and I do as much stuff around the house as we possibly can ourselves.  “We,” being more Tommy than myself, do our own wainscoting, painting, crown molding, tiling, etc.  These ceilings though we could not reach even with our tallest ladder.  

This is our lovely dog couch…the only piece of furniture that our dogs are allowed to sit on.  Don’t judge us to harshly by how disgusting it is!  We do not sit on it ourselves.

The couch I have been looking at for the past TWO years is from Pottery Barn.  Anyone who knows me, knows I am a sales hunter and pride myself on good finds!  I cannot find another couch that I like nearly as much and is as comfortable as this one.  This is the first time I have not been able to find an appropriate substitution for what I want.  So, I have been putting a little bit of my tutoring money aside each week to purchase it this summer.  My rationale was if I have to look at it each and every day and it has to be functional for humans and NOT dogs, I want to make the investment instead of looking at a so-so couch and always wishing I got the one I really wanted.

Our neighborhood uses a fabulous painting family.  They are the nicest people and love dogs…..so they fit right into our house!  They helped Tommy move the final pieces before starting the painting process this winter.  

Here are the final photos of the painting.  We decided to use two tones of blue to highlight the vaulted ceilings.



Dogs are already to claim their couch again while trying to get another picture of the painting.

I have already ordered and bought frames to make a collage of pictures above the couch.  That is going to be my summer project along with purchasing curtains.  I have found some curtains that I like on Overstock.com, but I am nervous about ordering them sight unseen.  I hope to have more pictures in the next couple of weeks of the completed room.

Painted rooms that I do not have to paint myself make me smile!

Winter Fun!

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So we returned from our weekend away at Smithfield Station to find our friends had decorated our house with GOP garbage….I mean ads:)  I had to laugh, once we thought we collected them all, I would find more in my cake pans and other odd places.  I am not sure what the joke was….the reaction from us or the thought Romney is going to win the Presidential race:)?  Props to the Putneys for a good joke either way:)!

Since then, we have been slammed with “life.”  My dad had another operation and is doing better.  It has been a slow, but steady recovery.  Tutoring has taken off where I now have a waiting list.  At one point, I had 10 kids a week.  This has been all through word of mouth which is the best compliment.  I have met so many wonderful families that I now consider friends through tutoring.  This on top of working full time makes for one tired mommy some weeks.

We try to make the best of any free moments that we have.  This winter we took a trip to go tubing at Wintergreen, but due to the warm weather this winter, that did not happen.  Instead we went to Auntie Kris’s school where she works and went to the playground.  They have an AMAZING playground there.  The picture below just shows part of it!

This is the view from their playground.  I think if I taught here, our recess would be twice as long than in Richmond with that view!
Campbell LOVED this balancing section.  It was tougher than it looked because each of the colored steps wiggled.
Watching these two girls play with each other warms my heart.  They really are each other’s best friend.  Having them create all these wonderful memories together, I hope will only strengthen their friendship to come.

We also went to go see the CYT production of Mulan at the local middle school with our friend Violet.  It was phenomenal.  The amount of talent that these young children possessed just blew me away.  I was not expecting it to be too crowded.  Well needless to say, we got the last few tickets and seats right up front.  Luck was on our side! It was truly amazing!

We did get one snowfall this season.  It was the best type of snow….it came early enough in the morning to cancel school without delay and it was melted away by dinner time!  Perfect, huh?

My snow bunny!  I know I am a little bias because I am her mother, but no matter what she puts on, she is so stinkin’ cute….even in a one piece marshmallow suit!

After a 20 minute temper tantrum inside because her snow pants were not “girly” enough, Addisan finally joined us outside.

 Trying to catch up on some overdue blogging makes me smile!

Smithfield Station

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So for the first time since having Addisan, Tommy and I went away for the night.  I purchased a Groupon awhile back for a quaint night away at a hotel in Smithfield, Virginia.  It was not too far away, but far enough to not have Richmond on our minds.



There was nothing much to do in this small town which was perfect for an overworked mama!  It was so nice to relax in our room and watch something other than Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  I told Tommy this needs to become a regular thing….getting away now and then without kids for a night.  As much as I love my girls, it felt nice to return to them recharged and well rested.  This was the view from our room that we had to leave…



For dinner, we walked downstairs for dinner.  It was so nice not to have to cut up anyone’s food or have to wipe anyone’s sticky hands other than my own!!



The next morning, we took the ferry to Williamsburg to do a little outlet shopping.  I went to White House Black Market and got some awesome deals….like jeans for only $20!  So of course, I had to buy a few shirts to go with them.  




Being able to sleep past 5:30 makes me smile!