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.