Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wrappin' it Up

I realize that I haven't posted one single picture of my Christmas decorated house this year, and since hubs is a wee bit OCD, all my decorations (inside and outside) were taken down by 2:00pm on the 26th. It's okay though. I didn't go all out with decorations like I usually do. We have a very curious toddler these days, so our end tables are empty, and our bookshelves are filled with toys. I'm running out of out-of-reach places to put our everyday decor as it is, so I didn't have a lot of options for Christmas decorations this year. The only pic I have from this year is of our very sad looking tree. I had every intention of fully decorating the tree, but Izzy had other plans. The bottom half of the tree was actually dressed with beaded garland for about 5 seconds before she ripped it off and pulled into the middle of the living room. I quickly decided a nice looking tree was not priority this year.

Here's the culprit, decorating the tree with her necklace.

Izzy got to meet Santa for the first time this year. I gotta say, hubs and I both were ready for a major scene. We just knew she would freak out when we sat her on Santa's lap, but we were wrong. She didn't seem thrilled to meet Santa. In fact, she looked a little confused, but there were no tears, and that's all that matters. Maybe next year she can actually tell him what she wants. On second thought, maybe it's better if she doesn't...

In keeping with tradition, hubs and I made it to our four Christmastes this year. Kind of surprising considering neither of us come from divorced families. First was Christmas at Mom and Dad's house with Dad's side of the family. Next was Christmas at Mom and Dad's house with Mom's side of the family. Then we had lunch at Griff's parent's house on Christmas Day, followed by dinner at my Aunt and Uncle's house, also on Christmas Day. All of this is in addition to our own little family present opening and breakfast on Christmas morning. Whew! I love being with our families though, and the food is always delish, so you won't hear me complain about four Christmases....you might hear my jeans complain, but not me.

Round 1 with Dad's extended family.
Round 2 -Mom's side of the family. Izzy loves her new sleeping bag!
Christmas Eve night with just my family. Lane was losing his patience about now. ;-)

Christmas morning at our house. Izzy found the gifts Santa left for her.

Ready for Christmas with Griff's family.

KK and Izzy in their matching tutus from Nanna and Pop-Pop. So cute!

She loves her accessories!

Izzy has reached a new level of spoiled. Santa brought her a fun play kitchen (which she LOVES), a shopping cart, and lots of new wooden puzzles. Her grandparents and the rest of our family spoiled her with lots of toys and adorable clothes. With all of her new toys, in addition to the backyard toys we scored on Craigslist, our house is beginning to resemble a daycare center.

I'm not gonna lie. I was pretty excited about the kitchen.

One of 4 outside toys found on Craigslist, all for $75 - score!

Hubs and I agreed to not exchange gifts this year. I must have been exceptionally well behaved this year because Santa surprised me with a Nook Color anyway, and I'm kind of obsessed with it. It has solved my reading in bed issue - I hate reading with book lights, and hubs hates when I leave the lamp on. The Nook Color is backlit, so problem solved! I was worried that reading on it might strain my eyes, but so far, so good.

Every year, my family gets together to make Christmas candy. I took this opportunity to make some trays for my neighbors. This is junk candy, puppy chow, peppermint bark, and chocolate caramel turtles...good stuff!

I roped my mom, aunt, and mother-in-law into helping me with this project: taggies for the babies in the NICU. Griff and I were very appreciative of all the little hats, booties, blankets, etc. that were donated by volunteers when Izzy was in the hospital, so I thought it would be nice to give the current patients a little Christmas gift. These were a little time consuming, but actually easy and fun to make. Thanks to my helpers!

I also payed up on a promise I made several months ago. One of Izzy's nurses asked for a poster of Izzy's journey/story to display in their unit, and I finally got around to it. Actually, my little cousin, Mallory, was over, and I took advantage of her excellent taping and cutting skills. Thanks, Mall-Mall! ;-) We visited the hospital a few days before Christmas to deliver the taggies, the poster, and lots of goodies for the nurses.

We spent NYE at Mom and Dad's house, eating pizza and playing a friendly game of "Texas Hold'em for Dummies." Dad is regular poker player, and hubs is pretty decent, but we decided that the rest of us should never be allowed to play in public. Ever. We ate blackeyed peas and tosted with champagne in styrofoam cups (we like to keep it classy) at midnight. Great ending to the year! I hope you all had an equally crazy and enjoyable Christmas and New Year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cookie Decorating Party

Our friends hosted their annual cookie decorating party last weekend, and we got to take Izzy for the first time. She had a blast eating, ahem, decorating cookies! Hillarie did a great job with the party. Everything was organized perfectly. Cookies were made in advance and were waiting for each kid in a cute little Christmas themed take-out box, and tables with frosting and sprinkles were set up in the garage. After we finished decorating, our frosted cookies dried in the kitchen while we played outside. We had a great time!

A sad looking tree, decorated by Mommy.

Izzy didn't see the need to decorate a perfectly fine cookie.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Signature Chefs

As most of you know, Isabelle was born at 23 weeks 6 days gestation, weighing only 1 pound 9 ounces. She had the odds stacked against her from the beginning, but with many prayers, excellent care from her doctors and nurses, and the support of the March of Dimes, she is a healthy toddler, throwing tantrums with the best of 'em.

We have been huge March of Dimes advocates since her birth. I signed us up for our first March for Babies walk from my hospital bed the day after Izzy was born. We both knew we needed to do something. Our baby was sick. We felt helpless. We needed an outlet. That outlet was the March of Dimes. We've participated in two walks now, and last year we organized a charity golf tournament for MOD. With the help of our very supportive friends and family, our team, Izzy's Angel, was the #1 fundraising team in Tarrant County last year!

We have the honor and privilege of being this year's March of Dimes Ambassador Family for Tarrant County. There are two major fundraising events held each year: Signature Chefs and March for Babies. The Signature Chefs event was held last month. It is a dinner and auction where several of the finest local chefs prepare a signature dish and donate some sort of fancy dining experience to be auctioned. We had a great time sampling about 20 delicious treats (Sadly, I spent too much time talking, and didn't make it to all the tables.) Seats for this event normally go for $250 a pop, but we were generously given two tables to fill with family and friends. After the dinner and auction, this video was played.

Next up is March for Babies in April. I will be hitting you all up to participate soon, so get ready!


Just as soon as I accomplish my goal of walking 60 miles, Griff goes and one-ups me by running 26.2 miles. After several months of training, he completed his first marathon on December 5th at the Dallas White Rock Marathon. He and his training partner, Hillarie, did an awesome job, finishing in 4 hours 17 minutes. So proud of both of them!

Here they are at mile 20. Still looking strong!

Waiting for them at mile 26. Izzy was over it by this point.

There they are - making it look easy!
Just .2 to go!

All that running made Izzy tired.

The marathon man and his fans.

We're proud of you, Daddy! (and also very sleepy)

Monday, November 29, 2010

3 Days 60 Miles 1 Cure

I experienced my first Susan G. Komen 3 Day for the Cure walk earlier this month. I've always wanted to participate, but the fundraising has scared me away. Each walker has to raise a minimum of $2,300 to even be allowed to walk. And to be honest, walking 60 miles over the span of three days didn't sound too appealing either. I put it on my 30x30 list a while back, and this was my last chance to do it before the big 3-0, so I went for it. I'm so happy to have experienced the 3-day, and I would do it again in a heart-beat...with a few conditions: 1)$2,300 is a lot of money. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we met and exceeded our minimum goal this year, but if this were going to be an annual event, I don't think my friends and family would be able to donate that much every year, and I wouldn't expect them to. For this reason, I wouldn't want to do it two years in a row. 2)There were only two of us who walked. I would love to participate again with a bigger group. Again, this goes back to money. We held three big fundraiser events, all of which were very successful, but also a ton of work. And we only know so many people, and we've pretty much emptied their pockets this year. Fundraising with a large group would mean less work for each person, and a larger donation pool. 3)Most importantly, if I were to ever do this again, I will definitely do one of the following: a) bring an air mattress for my tent - seriously, we were like the only ones who didn't have one...stupid rookies! or b) skip the tent altogether and take the party to the hotel - I'm much more likely to go this route.

I took lots of pictures to document my experience...enjoy!

Here we are at the opening ceremony. We were among 2,800 walkers!
The survivor's circle. These ladies are amazing!

Double D Hooter Hauler. There were several of these "sweeper vans" that followed us around for 3 days, picking up people who were injured or too tired to continue. I am happy to report that I never saw the inside of these vans.

This was lunch on day 1. Pretty typical of all the lunches we had.

Day 1 - check! That's our new friend, Natasha, in the middle. We met her at the opening ceremony, and she was walking solo, so she walked with us the entire 3 days. She is a breast cancer survivor, and she was an awesome walking buddy!

Nothing like walking 20 miles to come "home" to this...our super luxurious tent. Not ideal accommodations when it dips below 40 at night. It goes without saying that I was miserably cold.

Our showering trucks. Nuff said.

Dinner - Day 1. The food was actually a lot better than I expected. Most importantly, they had
diet coke!! I got lazy with the food pictures after day 1, so this is it.

Nae's mom got us these cute shirts. Thanks, mama Kay!

Day 2 - check!

These ladies, and many more "walker stalkers" like them followed us around for 3 days, cheering us on the whole time.

The cheering stations rocked! Look what I scored!

This adorable little boy was handing out Oreos...he knows what the ladies love.

Another sweet "cheerleader" handing out tissues.

The crew members worked so hard to make sure we had everything we needed. They also dressed like fools to make us laugh.

Come on, like you could resist.

Sweet baby.

I ran (on day 3) to catch up with this guy so I could get a picture of his shirt. It says, "Mama, I'd walk a million miles to have another day with you." Such an emotional event for so many people.

The pink firetruck was parked at our lunch spot on the last day, and we all got to sign it.

Day 3 - check! Can you guess who I'm excited to see??

This little girl missed her mama! And mama missed her, too!

Oh, yeah...I missed you too, hubs. ;-)

Not everyone can look this cool sporting a fanny pack. I'm not going to lie. It's a talent.

My very own personal cheerleader. I must give hubs credit for thinking to dress her in pink. Good call, daddy!
Closing ceremony - all the walkers hold up their shoes to honor the survivors as they walk in.

Overall, this was an incredible experience, and I would definitely recommend that everyone do it at least once. The passion and dedication of the participants and cheering stations is enough to keep you energized and going for 60 miles. There was one point on day 2 when the back of my knee was killing me. I had to stop to stretch and take some medicine (pardon me while I sound like I'm 80). I started back up, but I was pretty well hating life, and at that very moment, a woman who was obviously battling cancer drove along side us in her fully decorated convertible, tooting her horn, and cheering us on. I thought to myself, "suck it up, sister," and suddenly my little knee issue didn't seem so important.

If you aren't up for the fundraising and the walking, then please consider going to a cheer station to show your support for the walkers. You wouldn't believe how much that actually helps. Each day, we had a card that showed us that day's schedule, including pit stops, lunch, cheering stations, etc. We looked forward to every cheering station, especially on day 2 when we were dragging. Suprisingly, you don't notice how bad your feet hurt when you're walking through tons of people who are cheering, clapping, singing and dancing for you. I will definitely be cheering next year.

If you are considering the 3 Day, I have a few tips for you:

1. Trust me when I tell you that even with all the walking you will do, do not expect to lose any weight. Everytime you turn around, they are feeding you. Not kidding. There is a LOT of food.

2. Do not trust the website when it says there will be no outlets for hair dryers or phone chargers. Lies!! They had a tent set up where you could drop off your phone to be charged, and there were electrical outlets for hair dryers outside the shower trucks. I know it's not a beauty contest, but wet hair is not fun when it's freezing outside. So, while I was standing under the heat lamp attempting to "dry" the frizzy mess on my head, I was not amused to see a seasoned walker with her travel size hair dryer and freshly blown-out hair.

3. Don't be afraid to skip the tent thing. It was like 38 degrees our first night, and it was miserable. I overheard a husband and wife in a nearby tent calling around to see if they could get a hotel room because they were too cold to sleep. Apparently a lot of people stay in hotels, or even at home if they live close. Trust me, you will still get the whole "experience plus a good night's sleep in a warm bed if you go the hotel route.

4. If you insist on "roughin' it" in the tent, take an air mattress. We must have been the only idiots who didn't bring one. We were going by the rules online that said your bags couldn't weigh more than 35 pounds, so we didn't even consider an air mattress. Nobody bothered to tell the rookies that the weight limit rules are not enforced.

5. Day 2 is by far the hardest. You'll be so excited and have tons of energy on the first day. Plus it's fun to walk into camp after the first 20 miles to check out everything. And you'll be so thankful to have a light at the end of the tunnel on the third day, but there is nothing to look forward to on day 2, except for showering trucks and a cold, uncomfortable tent.

6. The bigger the fanny pack, the better.

7. The more over-the-top and obnoxious your outfit, the better.

8. The best bit of advice I overheard all weekend was this: "It's not a race. It's a journey." With that said, take your time, have fun, and enjoy the experience!