Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post Holiday Blues

Normally my blues would've kicked in on Sunday after my family left, but Robert had his two days off Sunday and Monday.  So today was that day when I realized the holidays were over and it was back to the normal routine of life.  Not that the normal routine isn't great - because honestly, getting out of my routine is what usually drives me crazy - but the holidays are different.  I plan and look forward to the holidays for at least six weeks.  With that kind of build up and then only a few days to spend celebrating - well - it takes a toll.

Most of the world still has this week to look forward to with New Year's right around the corner, but unfortunately, Robert's job holds him hostage on New Year's Eve.  Evidently counting inventory is more important than sipping champagne and kissing your loved one at midnight.  Thank you, Landry's, for making that decision for all of us. You'll find me in bed watching a bunch of crazies in Time Square freezing their butts off while waiting for the ball to drop. I'll probably be accompanied by a a carton of ice cream or maybe a package of Oreos.

In other words - I'll use this week to feel sorry for myself.

In the eight years that Robert and I have been together we were able to celebrate one New Year's Eve - 2006 at Amanda and Scott's house in Fort Myers.  So for memories' sake:

Katie, Me, Spencer & Kenny

Spencer & Robert

I think we had a pretty good time.  And come to think of it, Spencer and Katie are in the same no celebrating new years boat.  So Katie - wanna share my ice cream on Thursday night?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Out with the Old, In with the New

I made the decision to concentrate on preserving memories this Christmas.  The first step in doing this was investing in a quality camera.  I did a great deal of research trying to find the best fit for our needs - these being - 1. an SLR camera that I can grow with and learn about photography 2. high quality video so we could avoid having to purchase a camcorder as well.  We settled on a Canon - and man, am I happy!  This camera is high quality AND shoots high definition video.  Even my mom was annoyed with how many pictures I took of Evan today.

I received my camera yesterday afternoon.  Unfortunately, I was not able to use it during our "Christmas" time because we opened up our gifts Christmas Eve morning so that Robert could actually spend Christmas with the family.  (He had to work all day today.  Horrible, I know.)  So I used my good 'ole point and shoot yesterday but didn't get many good pictures.  I used the Canon today - check out the drastic difference below.

Point and Shoot

New Canon

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

We have actually had our tree up since the beginning of December.  That is a record for us - literally crushing any past records.  I think we got last year's tree up right around the second week of Christmas.  So I've been feeling pretty accomplished to say the least.

As far as the decorations go - not so accomplished.  But that's not entirely all my fault.  Due to weekend plans and out-of-town visits we weren't actually able to decorate our tree until the second week of December.  We're evidently not truly motivated until mid-December if you haven't gathered that yet.  So Robert and I put the lights on the tree (realizing we really needed an extra strand, but instead rigged it so it wasn't noticable) and hung up all of our discount ornaments.  Just as I did last year, I looked at the tree and thought to myself, not very impressive.  What should I expect from a one-stop shopping trip to Target last year to take advantage of their "Right Before Christmas Sale."  Oh well - I'm really just waiting until I collect enough of Evan's handmade school ornaments to have the tree of my dreams.  Yes, I am a traditionalist.  I have fond memories of our tree growing up that would literally sag to the floor.   All of our handprints, popsicle stick creations, and anything we could make with yarn covered our tree year after year. Now THAT is what Christmas is all about. I hope Evan gets just as excited over arts and crafts as I did - something tells me he may not be quite as enthusiastic.

I knew all the glass balls on the tree would be somewhat equivalent to a tree full of shiny glass cars.  Evan went nuts when he saw all the balls hanging on the tree.  He does this high pitched scream thing now when he gets really excited so my ears were just a tad bit annoyed with my decision to decorate with this particular shape.  I knew it would be a struggle to keep him away - but hey - they were on sale, remember?

Just the other day was the first time I really had to reprimand Evan for taking the ornaments off the tree.  For the past week or so he would simply travel by the tree and just gaze at the balls - reach out to them - but never pulled them off.  I guess on this particular day he figured to hell with it!  His attack of the Christmas tree came to my attention when I heard a ball come crashing to the floor.  I ran over in fear that he would walk through the broken glass, but instead he ran far from the crash site screaming and crying.  I cleaned up the mess on the floor and on my way to the trash can I noticed a collection of the glittery balls on the couch.  It reminded me of the squirrels in NC that would hoard all the acorns that fell to the ground .  Well my little squirrel was still screaming and crying even after I cleaned up his mess.  I thought maybe he got a little piece of glass in his hand.  He had both fists clenched and intently stared at them while crying.  I inspected his hands - no glass.  I lathered them with soap and cleaned them off thinking he would go merrily on his way.  Not so much.  He sat there for a second - again clenching his fists - and started crying again.  I was perplexed.  I did a more thorough inspection of his hands and noticed just a few specs of glitter on his hands.  I thought to myself, oh lord, if this is the cause of this ridiculous outburst - I'm outta here!  I scraped the few pieces of glitter off his hands. He looked at his hands, looked at me and then gave me a huge smile.  Off he happily went to stare at Dora on the tv.  I couldn't believe it!

I was not aware that OCD was hereditary - is it too late to change the birth certificate to Robert Lynn Stinnett, JR.?

This incident has now left our tree looking more pathetic than ever.  The top half of the tree is is still decorated with glittery, shiny balls while the bottom half of the tree is - well - completely bare.  I figured who are we really trying to impress with our tree anyway.  My parents, who are coming down, will certainly understand the logic - I won't even go into what they had to do to keep their four hellians from pulling the tree to the floor.  So there it is - our tree is unique this year.  Maybe I can start a new trend.

One thing is for sure - no more glitter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Big 3-0

I officially have three decades under my belt - not literally of course.  Ask me in another decade or two and there may be more under that belt than I'd like to admit.  But I'm not gonna get ahead of myself.  I have the glorious thirties to look forward to - ah!  The thirties are the new twenties, right?

Robert swept me away to North Carolina for my birthday weekend.  As I was nodding off to sleep Friday night he shakes me and says, "Go pack a bag.  We're leaving at 7:30 in the morning."  At that exact moment I realized that I'm definitely not the person I was five years ago.  That person would've said, "Awesome!  Let's just go ahead and leave right now!"  Instead, I began having an anxiety attack.  I thought to myself...well, what about Evan?  I don't have anything packed for him.  His clothes aren't even washed.  I don't have any snacks to take with me on the road.  And how long will we be on the road anyway?  What is the weather supposed to be like?  Is there gas in my car?  Do I need to take a shower tonight or tomorrow morning?...and the thoughts kept rapidly coming.  It was exhausting.  Robert told me to chill out and promised me everything was under control.  hmmm?

I pretty much figured out that we were heading to North Carolina.  So at least I was able to pack without being completely in the dark.  I also assumed Evan would be staying with my parents so that put my mind at ease too.  I was finally beginning to accept this act of spontaneity until Robert informs me that we are behind schedule and that I would need to drive since I'm guilty of putting the pedal to the metal.  Again, anxiety took over.  Punctuality is one thing that Robert and I do not see eye to eye on.  I MUST be on time - Robert on the other hand - well, he just takes his sweet time.  His infamous line is, "we'll make it."  It doesn't matter if we have to go 90 mph down the highway or park in short-term parking at the airport - one way or another, we'll make it.  Let's just say the drive to North Carolina was not a relaxing one.  But once we arrived in Durham all of that quickly changed.

We started off at the University Club where our friends, Jessica and Kelly, work.  We stepped off of the elevator and as I scanned the lobby I see my friend, Sarah, briskly walking by.  I call out her name and she not so elegantly darted behind a potted tree.  After a few seconds I think she realized I blew her cover.  It was a fabulous surprise to have her there to start off the night.  We were seated at our table where Sarah's husband, Dan, was also waiting.  Being that we were behind schedule, we were only able to throw back a quick appetizer and a glass of wine.  Robert was whisking me off somewhere else for another birthday surprise.  Dan and Sarah agreed to meet up with us later.

We got in the car, which I was starting to grow a dislike for and drove for another 15-20 minutes.  We approached a beautiful glass building new to Downtown Durham.  With Performing Arts Center written boldly across the building I now knew we were seeing some sort of production.  And to my very pleasant surprise Robert purchased tickets for The Phantom of the Opera.  I LOVE this musical! Something comes over me when I hear the music from this production.  I knew this would be emotional for me.  Not only is the music phenomenal, but the soundtrack was a favorite of my brother, Jonathan.  We used to attempt to sing the duets - sounded miserable - but still loved to do it.  Needless to say, I cried through the entire performance.  Tears of both joy and sadness, but mostly joy.  The cast was FANTASTIC!  And Robert scored "the bomb" seats.  We were second row, dead center.

We ended our night with a visit to our old restaurant hangout where several of our good friends were waiting to greet us.  I coerced Dan and Sarah in to spending the night in Durham to spend more time with us.  I love y'all!  The whole night brought back great memories and created new ones.  This trip was well worth the anxiety - Thank you, babe, for being so thoughtful and making this trip seem so effortless on your part.  I know it took a lot to make this happen.  I love you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

One Proud Aunt...and Sister

Tim and Ruth had Izzie baptized yesterday at their church in Chicago.  She looked angelic in her long, white christening gown and matching bonnet.  I regret that I was not able to be there to witness such a proud moment in Tim's life, but I can assure you I wallow in pride every time I look at these pictures.

Good 'Ole Rocky Top

Robert had all of Evan's orange clothing packed in our suitcase faster than you could say "volunteer" in preparation for our trip to Tennessee this past weekend.

The circumstances for our trip were a bit grim, but we were still happy to be going back for a visit. Robert's dad has been in the hospital with various issues, mostly kidney related. His overall condition, however, made a turn for the better as we were leaving on Sunday. The hope is that he will be home for the holidays and able to spend time with his family in a more comfortable, relaxing environment - free of scratchy sheets, bland food and backless gowns. He may miss the sponge baths from his young nurses, but his wife, Kathy, is a fan of Halloween - we'll send her a pair of scrubs in the mail.

We stayed with Robert's mom and step-dad and were able to visit with Granny (Robert's grandmother). Granny was another significant reason for our visit. She is 94 years old, but has recently been diagnosed with vascular dimentia. Over the past few months Dixie and Phil have noticed a decline in her physical mobility and have also noticed signs of memory loss. The doctors have reported that she will never suffer from severe dimentia because the vascular condition will take a toll before she ever reaches that point. We were told that Granny may only have a year left to spend with us - and it's unknown if she will even be truly "present" for the majority of that time. Almost a century old and it's still heartbreaking to think about her leaving us.

(I failed to mention that Evan was terrified of Granny)

Evan with Grandma and Grandpa Bopp

On a lighter note, the trip provided Evan with a lot of "firsts." This was his first trip to Daddy's old stomping ground. Robert recounted his past life to Evan in the car - "this is where I used to play ball" or "this is where my first girlfriend lived" or even better "this is where I drank my first beer" - as if he was really able to process the words. If Evan was a few years older he probably would've been rolling his eyes. I know I was. (You know I love you, babe.)

Saturday morning we woke up to a white, winter wonderland. I don't know what was more exciting - the fact that Evan would be able to see snow or that I was able to see snow. We bundled up as much as we could in our pseudo winter clothing and danced around in the few inches of powder on the ground. Evan was shrieking as he ran across the back lawn. Twenty minutes into our play time he began to cry because his hands were so cold. We attempted bringing him inside, but he fought that pretty hard. He didn't quite understand that the weather was the reason for his discomfort. Otherwise he would have gladly gone inside to thaw out for a little bit. We made several trips out that morning before the snow disappeared. It really was an amazing treat.

And the last of Evans' "firsts" was the notorious experience of Chuck E. Cheese. We attended J.J's 2nd birthday party (Kathy's grandson) along with, what seemed like, a million other children. I was a little worried about how Evan would react to such a chaotic scene, but to my surprise, he was THRILLED. I lost five pounds trying to keep up with him. He ran all over that place screaming as he spotted all the life-size cars and trucks. I'm waiting for him to come down with some kind of sickness after kissing every single character he could get his little lips on. It was pure amusement. He stood at the stage up front and danced with the keyboard playing dog and the singing chicken and made sure to clap when they finished each set. He rode an animatronic horse that jumped hurdles and rode around with Handy Manny in his truck. Handy Manny was a victim of Evan's smooching obsession. All the excitement really worked up Evan's appetite because he polished off three pieces of pizza and a piece of cake before we had to forcibly make him leave. We had an excellent time there.

Our weekend was plentiful and we were grateful for the time spent. We had such a good time I was even able to stomach Carolina's loss to Kentucky. We look forward to going back really soon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Big Green "Trktr"

My friend Kylie posted a really funny video of her son Noah singing along to "A Big Green Tractor" by country singer Jason Aldean.  The song was on YouTube accompanied by a slideshow of - you guessed it - big green tractors.

Noah is 2 1/2 years old and is developing a new love for music and singing.  He has been a longtime lover of cars, trucks and tractors, just like Evan.  Because of this, my friend Amanda and I thought we would show Evan the same tractor video that Noah watched to see what his reaction would be.  Let's just say Evan and Noah will be really good friends one day...just like their mamas.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Smell is Everywhere

Let me just recap my last couple of hours:

After Evan woke up from his nap we made our much loved trip to Target. I didn't have anything important to pick up and thank the lord for that. As I was pulling into the parking lot I hear Evan coughing and it didn't sound like the congested cough he's had the last few days. It sounded more like a I have something in my throat that needs to come out kind of cough. And if that wasn't the truth - I turn around to make sure he's ok and as I do he starts throwing up all over himself, the car seat, the floor board, you name it - it was covered. I literally panicked for a bit because he's never thrown up before and he wasn't acting sick so I had a brief moment of not knowing what to do. Mommy mode definitely kicked in as I parked my reeking vehicle in a spot.

I opened the back door and assessed the very nauseating situation. I unbuckled Evan and carefully pulled him out making sure his lunch fell from his lap to the pavement. I stripped him down in the parking lot to his diaper. You gotta love Florida when you can do that in mid -November. I looked around in my car for anything I could use to clean out the pile - yes, I said pile - of putrid smelling mess that took up the entire car seat. I'm not even gonna mention the straps of the harness. It makes me want to gag thinking about it. So I take the only thing I can find - a blanket - that I can cover the car seat with so I can get Evan home. I had to use the seat belt in the car to strap him in and we were on our way.

He dry heaved a few times on the way home, but smiled and laughed in between. I wasn't too sure what to make of it. Once we were home I got him inside and secure and then tackled the whole car seat issue. I wasn't about to step-by-step clean out each and every crevice of that seat. Instead, I took the whole thing out, ripped off the covering and hosed down the interior of the seat. I washed the covering, his clothes and shoes in the washing machine. Everything is currently hung to dry.

Evan has been running around ever since we got back. I'm assuming it was something he ate? He doesn't have a fever and didn't turn down dinner either. What I do know is that ordeal was the closest I've come to throwing up in a long time. And I still can't get that smell out of my nostrils! Ahhh!

Something to Fill the Gap

A certain vacant spot on Evan's nursery wall has been bugging me the past couple of weeks. I think the last wall art project I did has brought out the beast in me because I find myself wanting to fill every hole. I'm sure it wouldn't seem like a necessary fix to any one else, but knowing that doesn't resolve the nagging issue either. I needed something small and simple.

I gathered all my random art supplies from past projects and decided to do an easy animal art piece. With decorative paper, spray adhesive and a small canvas I came up with this:

No claim to fame, but it satisfied my need and that's all that matters. On to my new office!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are You Listening?

So, Lottery, I guess what you're trying to tell me is that you don't think I'm quite ready yet. You must see the potential however because the $5 I won will at least give me my money back.

What I'm taking away from this is that I should keep trying - don't lose focus. Or better yet, in the words of my Grandpa Frank, "Put your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole."

One day, Amanda...one day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear Lottery,

I'm just giving you a heads up for tonight's drawing. I bought five quick picks today and I would really appreciate it if one of those picks was chosen to be the winner.

You have my word that I will be generous with my winnings and will not self-destruct like many past winners have. I won't become an alcoholic. I won't start hating my husband and demand a divorce. I won't even spend frivolously until the point of bankruptcy. I will simply make life easier for my family and loved ones. What's the harm in that?

I think I'm an excellent candidate - perfect for the job. I hope you take my request into consideration. If you don't, well, life will go on. But just for shits and giggles...

Most Sincerely,

Monday, November 9, 2009


I could not have picked a better weekend to visit my brother and his family in Chicago. My mom and I flew in prepared for a blizzard, but instead got beautiful blue skies with a high of 70 degrees both Saturday and Sunday.

We took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and spent most of Saturday at the city zoo. Evan was completely enthralled with the gorillas. He would have peered through that glass all day if I had not dragged him away. The same was true for the sea otter and the turtles.

Tim and Ruth were able to thoroughly enjoy themselves because Izzie is, by far, the sweetest, most well-behaved baby I've ever witnessed. She only cried when she was ready to eat and that was even rare. She was constantly smiling and she already sleeps through the night! I actually had baby fever after spending the weekend with her. That quickly vanished however after my plane ride home with Evan. Never again will I travel alone with a toddler. Not that Evan was bad, but being on edge for three consecutive hours doing anything in your power to prevent a tantrum is not what I would eagerly sign up to do again.

Tim treated my mom and I to a broadway show Saturday afternoon. We saw Jersey Boys, the story of The Four Seasons. It was AMAZING! We both walked out of the theater completely wowed by the singing. We began rattling off all the other shows we were desperate to see.

Ruth picked us up from the theater and we met Tim and Evan at a local Italian restaurant in Irving Park. This was a favorite spot of my mom's from the last time she visited my brother. The food was incredible and the kids gave us no problems. Fortunately, Tim didn't start quoting "The Godfather" while we were there.

We had a wonderful visit to the windy city. I can't wait to go back soon to love on my beautiful niece and spend time with my brother and Ruth. I will definitely wait until after winter!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween 2009

It's almost frightening how good this look is on Evan. He had the strut and the attitude to perfect his character. To clarify for everyone, Evan is dressed as L'il Joe Dirt. We assumed that wouldn't have to be explained, but I guess it's a bit presumptuous to think that everyone has seen the movie. My Aunt Debbie thought he was dressed as Daniel Boone. Even though it looks like an animal would be living in there, don't mistaken the wig for a coon skin cap. That stylin' hot mess is a mullet...and a damn good one if you ask me.

At first we thought it was going to be a huge struggle to get Evan to keep his wig on. The first few times we struck out. He would leave it on for about 10 seconds then whine and take it off. Eventually he realized we all thought it was funny and he left it on longer for the attention. Once I gave him the popsicle (also mistaken for a corn dog - ha!) it was like he became one with the wig...he accepted his Halloween fate.

I am almost certain the adults had waaay more fun this Halloween than Evan did. He will either look back at these pictures and think wow, what cool parents I have or he'll take offense and wonder why we would be so desperate for a laugh at his expense. Either way, we had a GREAT time. And we were, without a doubt, in great company. Come back to visit soon, Amanda and Scott!
View my gallery for more Halloween shots!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tar Heels Disappoint

The Tar Heels had more than enough support from our family last night to pull out a win. Evan and Isabel did not go to bed happy...that's fo' sho'! The things parents do to their children to try to get luck on their side...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

On Second Thought

The patterned background was not that great of a choice after all. The yellow silhouette was not defined enough amid the green squares. This made the whole project pointless considering you could barely make out the fine details of Evan's features.

I've replaced the patterned background with a solid green background. The change is remarkable. Now I really am happy with the turnout.

I realize this is a poor excuse for a picture, but I haven't figured out how to take a picture without getting some sort of reflection in the glass. Tips, anyone?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Silhouette Gentille Silhouette

Evan's nursery has been somewhat finished for awhile now. There are certain touches that I've been meaning to make, but just haven't gotten around to - one being the vacant wall space above his changing area.

I decided a few months ago that I was going to make a silhouette of Evan's head, frame it and hang it up above his dresser/changing station. I finally got around to doing it and I really love how it turned out. I'm now not certain that it is large enough to fill that vacant space, but I will definitely find a spot for it.

Here is the picture I used to make the silhouette:

And here is the framed silhouette:

I thought about doing the traditional black silhouette on a white background, but I wanted to add more color to his room and I like the idea of a patterned background.

I laughed when I first looked at the finished silhouette because it looked a lot like my brother, Todd. Genetics are amazing, aren't they?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall in Florida

We spent most of yesterday outside enjoying the fall-like weather in Florida. The high was about 70, but with the whipping wind it felt more like 60-65. I ain't gonna lie...we were cold. We're those people you see walking down the street in ski jackets and ear muffs when the temperature drops below 60 degrees. That's what happens when you move to Florida.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to Work

My 15 month maternity leave has come to a close. Well, sort of. I begin work today as a writer/public relations specialist for Gage Publishing. What about teaching? some of you might be thinking. And that answer is quite simple. There are no teaching jobs. So what does one do when they want to work, but can't find a job in their desired field? Find a job in another desired field.

I am really excited about this job for two general reasons. (1) I enjoy writing and being involved in the community and love the idea of being paid to do it. And (2) I'm able to work from home. I have found a job that is providing me the best of both worlds. I'm able to work and start feeling productive again AND Evan is able to stay at home - saving on day care is a victory in itself.

I'm starting out part-time (20 hours a week), but my position will grow into full-time over the next few months. This a great way to slowly transition myself and Evan into a different routine and schedule.

I am downright stoked about this new development. And seriously, would you want any day care to have to deal with this face?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

DIYin' It

Project #2. A little something for Evan to encourage his creative side. We would consider a squiggle mark on the chalk board art at this point, but who knows, maybe our encouragement will produce an artist or at least an appreciation for the subject.

My inspiration for this project stemmed from the hundreds of blogs I read raving about chalk board paint. And let me tell you, the rave is absolutely justified. Chalk board paint is the cat's meow. It is so easy to apply and almost magical the way it quickly transforms from a liquid paint to a hard slate-like material. I'm a big fan.

We've had a tv stand in storage for several years now. It's a nice solid piece of furniture that Robert's step-dad, Phil, built over a decade ago. Being in the age of wide screen and flat panel televisions, this tv stand just wasn't functional anymore. But I was determined to find a use for it. *ding, ding, ding* Chalk board paint + tv stand = chalk board/storage unit. I simply painted the tv stand and attached a piece of particle board to the front of the unit that was painted with the chalk board paint. I framed the board with wood pieces that I painted and added the car decorations (that I also painted) to fuel Evan's obsession with all things on wheels. I left the back open because the unit itself is on wheels and can be swiveled. I use that space for storage in addition to the shelf and the drawer.

I was happy with the result. Evan immediately wanted to rip the car decor off the front and take them for a spin...many thanks to Gorilla Glue.



Tuesday, October 6, 2009

We're In The Army Now

The last time I took Evan to have his hair trimmed they charged me the INSANE price of $13. I about gave the lady a "YOU'RE KIDDING ME, RIGHT?" But I just chuckled to myself, paid for it and vowed to never pay for his haircut again. It's amazing how things can backfire on you.

We have trimmed Evan's hair a couple of times since his birth, but nothing too extreme. Over the past 15 months his hair has stayed relatively the same length on top, but has become excessively thick in the back. He was beginning to have this hideous overhang of hair on his shirt collar and we decided we couldn't tolerate it anymore. Staying true to my vow of never paying for a haircut, Robert attempted to give Evan a haircut just to thin out the back a bit...

Robert's attempt left Evan with a Billy Ray Cyrus 'do that was not gonna work for me. I gave in to my unwillingness of wanting to pay for his haircut and took him to a barber.

I explained to the barber that I all I wanted was for him to thin out the back of Evan's hair giving an all over even cut. I wasn't aware that I had to also instruct him on what tools I wanted him to use. I was sitting in the seat with Evan on my lap and all of sudden we were both startled by the loud buzzing of the shears he used to buzz all of Evan's hair off in a matter of seconds. I never even saw it coming. What happened to using scissors? Seeing all those long, fine baby hairs dump into my lap in clumps made me really sad. When the barber was done and I looked at Evan in the mirror all I could think of doing was saluting him...we were already sending him off to bootcamp. Does this mean we have an Army brat? (ha ha) And to really add salt to the wound I had to pay $12 for this insanity!