Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Bane of My Existence is Finished!

Many months ago, I took a few of my things to a quaint little shop up in Dallas, GA for the proprietor to put out for sale. While there, she asked me if I painted windows. My reply was, "Yes, I've painted a couple before." This was true, although I think I've only painted one other one in my entire life. So, we walked a couple of doors down to another cute little shop where she showed me this really old, sixteen-pane window. She asked, "If I buy this, will you paint it for me?" Like I was going to say no!

I carted off the window (no small task) and set it up in my tiny painting area in the kitchen. I used to have a nice, big craft room, but that all disappeared when Riley arrived. :-) Anyway, it was a pain to actually paint on. I really didn't have a great place to put it and, since I don't really like using easels, I tried to get creative. I propped the window up on another small chair and leaned the top of it against my kitchen windows to begin the whole process. Not pretty, but it seemed to work.

The owner of the little shop suggested I paint different varieties of flower on each panel and I foolishly agreed. I'm not really big on painting "true to nature" and have never painted like that "on demand." I began painting leaves and stems and the beginnings of wisteria, black-eyed Susans, chicory and the like, but I did not like the results. The paint wasn't adhering the way I wanted it to and I just got turned off by the whole thing! I decided I needed to rethink the process, so I took the window down and left it propped up against the kitchen wall--and there it sat for seven long months.

Many people have noticed it sitting there--my parents, Charles' parents, friends and neighbors--and they all ask about it. "Wow, this looks like it will be neat," or, more recently, "When are you going to finish this; it looks great so far" are usually the comments heard. In the last couple of weeks, my mom has been bugging me to finish it so we can take it back to the little shop when she comes for a visit this Thursday. At this point, I'm just plain mortified to face the woman. Can you imagine? "Hi, remember me? You bought this window for me to paint back in April and it only took me eight months to finish it!" Not finishing a project is so not like me. When I was working full-time, my co-workers used to make fun of me for being compulsive about wrapping things up on time and making sure everything I did was absolutely perfect!

I know this is a long, boring story, but I was so thrilled today when I actually completed the damn thing! I actually did a little happy dance. Here are a few photos of the "bane of my existence."

The entire window--boy, this was a pain to handle!!


Up close shot of the lower-left of the window.


Upper-left side of the window.


Lower-right corner of the window.


A slightly blurry shot of the middle portion.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hell Must Be Freezing Over...and Green Bananas

Well, the impossible has happened--Atlanta got a second round of snow on Saturday! It began coming down at 11:00 am and snowed until about 3:30 pm. This event was just as beautiful as the snow we got on Tuesday, but I think a bit of the novelty had worn off with Riley. She was happy it was snowing, but she wasn't as eager to get out and play this time! Here are a few shots of the rare, second snow...(make fun of me if you will, but this is truly a unique thing here in "Hotlanta!")

The snow covering Riley's playground.

Snow on the UT flag. Go Vols!

The "second" snow covering the back yard.

Now, the forecasters are calling for another chance of a sleet/freezing rain/snow mixture sometime on Tuesday and I'm not sure if we'll be lucky enough to actually see more of the white stuff. I am sure of one thing--Riley has decided she would be happy if it snowed everyday except Halloween. She's worried that if it snows on Halloween she won't be able to go trick-or-treating!

Just a quick little story about Riley: Earlier this week we were all at the grocery store picking up fruits and veggies. She and Charles aimed the cart for the bananas, but Riley became anxious and pulled on Charles' sleeve for him to come closer. When he leaned in, she whispered, "Daddy, maybe you should tell someone that these bananas are green!"

According to Riley, these bananas are "weird."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow...in Atlanta?!?!

I miss seeing snow. Growing up near the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, I was used to getting a few good snowfalls as a child. We used to have at least one or two significant storms every winter--enough snow for a snowman and a kid-sized snow fort! Since moving to Atlanta though, I've seen a dusting or two that never lasted more than a few hours.

Riley and I were extremely excited when it started snowing this afternoon at approximately 4:20 pm. I took a quick video to at least document the snow coming down...

video

I was convinced that the snow wouldn't last long--I even told Riley not to get too excited. About 30 minutes later, the snow was still falling and actually starting to stick to the grass...

video

By the time Charles came home, Riley was ready to go outside and experience her very first encounter with snow! We bundled her up and Charles took her outside to play with her friends across the street.


Riley, Charles and the McCollum kids had a wonderful time...




Here are a few other shots of the snow--kinda pretty, huh?




It's now 8:00 pm and the snow has turned to freezing rain/ice, but it looks as though we got about an inch here. I doubt it will last long tomorrow, but I was wrong once earlier today!

I've also reached another milestone in parenting...I'll have to get up in the morning to see if Riley's preschool has closed for the day! I remember as a child getting up early after a snow storm and listening to the radio with my mom to see if my school was closed for the day--it was almost like Christmas morning.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Back to School & Happy Birthday to Me!

After a very long Christmas break, Riley started back at preschool on Tuesday. She seemed so excited to tell her teacher and friends about all the cool gifts she got for her birthday and for Christmas--she spent 10 minutes the night before deciding what she should take for her first post-break show-and-tell. She decided on her walking dinosaur and was practically giddy with anticipation. Unfortunately, the euphoric mood didn't last long. As I dropped her off for class, she began using the "whiny voice" and tears welled up in her eyes. "Mommy, I just want to go home," she whimpered. Several minutes (and several blow-ups) later, I left the school with Riley wiping her teary eyes and reluctantly accepting her teacher's invitation to have a seat with her friends.

What happened? I wish I knew! Riley's been attending preschool since last October and seemed to really be enjoying her time there. I was so worried when I dropped her off on her very first day of school--I just knew she would fall apart (and me right along with her!). But, just the opposite happened--she immediately began taking to the children in her class and drawing with chalk provided by the teacher. I gave her a hug and a kiss, told her "bye" and turned to leave expecting the tears to flow...instead, I got a cheerful, "Bye, Mommy!"

Riley's very first day at preschool!

Every day since those first days has been pretty much a carbon copy until a few days before the Christmas break. She suddenly started getting very clingy and wanting me to stay with her. She needed more and more reassurance that I would be back for her just after lunch and even wanted to know how many hours she would be staying at the school. Tears came more and more often, but we both managed to brave through it all. The long break for Christmas only made things worse--Tuesday morning she really started to panic when I dropped her off. I just wish I knew how to get things back to where they were!

Her teachers say that the minute I'm out of sight, she's fine. She's playing and laughing and getting along great with all her friends. Hopefully, this trend will reverse itself very soon and I can drive away from the school guilt-free.

Riley and Madison at the school's Halloween party.

Riley and her friend Arwin at the school's Thanksgiving dinner.

In other news, I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday (#34!) and had a wonderful day with Charles and Riley. After we picked up Riley from preschool, we drove to Pappasito's Cantina in Marietta and had an awesome meal. Of course, Riley blabbed that it was my birthday and I pleaded with our waiter not to embarrass me by making me wear the huge sombrero that is the standard humiliation for those celebrating a birthday. He agreed, so I got a delicious dessert presented to me after the meal and turned only slightly red when he and the other staff sang a birthday song. Our waiter later informed me that I got out of wearing the sombrero because their camera was out of film to capture such a proud moment in my life!


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Have I Spawned the Child of Satan? Oh, and Happy New Year!

Riley has been bugging us for a couple of months now to go spend the night with Papa and Grandma (Charles' parents). She has stayed overnight with them before and loved every minute of it! They have tons of toys for her to play with and even have a train set that she can put together and play with for hours.

So, over Christmas, we all decided that Riley would spend the Sunday and Monday night before New Year's with them. Riley argued for three nights instead of two, but finally relented. The plan was for us to drive down Sunday afternoon, drop Riley off, and then have Papa and Grandma bring her back to our house on Tuesday for our annual New Year's Day dinner. Charles and I were so excited--two nights without Riley! We planned on going to a movie (something we haven't done in about six months) and out to dinner--just the two of us--at least one of those nights. We figured we'd do something fun on New Year's Eve, even if it was just sitting around the house until midnight and enjoying each other's company.

Sunday afternoon, we arrived at Papa and Grandma's house as planned and had a great lunch and visited for a couple of hours. As we prepared to leave and catch a movie at a local theater, Riley suddenly decided she didn't want to stay--didn't want to make "jiggly jello" or play with the trains or help Grandma redecorate her childhood doll house! She just kept repeating, "I just want to go home! I just want to go home!"

We were confused, but tried our best to remind her that this was her idea and that just a couple of hours before, she was excited about the prospect of spending a couple of days with her grandparents getting spoiled rotten. What had happened? We asked her the reason she didn't want to stay and the only response her confusing, yet awe-inspiring, little brain could come up with is: "Because Snowy (Papa and Grandma's dog) always bites me!" Okay, just to clarify, Snowy has never in his life bitten Riley--at worst, he's licked her to death. I guess that's just the excuse she came upon and she decided to stick with it.

Needless to say, Charles and I became extremely frustrated. We had just driven 45 minutes in the rain and cold weather to drop our daughter off for a child-free, fun-filled, sleeping-in-late weekend and all our hopes had just been dashed. No movie, no nice dinner out, no sleeping past 7:00 am! Things began to deteriorate fast...suddenly, everyone was in a bad mood and voices were raised and the crying (hers and ours) ensued.

We scooped her up, re-packed all her bags, and shuffled her off to the car for the 45 minute drive back home. It was a very quite car ride aside from a few sniffles from Riley and muffled sobs from me!

When we got home, Charles took a photo of Riley and, oddly enough, something very strange appeared in the picture...

Our little Hell-Raiser!

There is a little good news to add to the story, though. Charles and I decided not to let this incident ruin the night so we loaded ourselves back in the car and went to eat at a great Japanese restaurant called Mo Mo Ya. We had planned on going there (minus Riley) anyway, so we figured we'd press our luck and take her with us in an attempt to salvage what was left of the day. Amazingly, we had a wonderful time! Riley was enthralled with the chef who made everything right in front of her and loved watching him perform and toss food for us to catch in our mouths. She tried almost everything and made a new friend with a young girl who sat across from the table from us. It was a fun and relaxing evening. Here's proof...

Riley enjoying her fried rice.

We had a wonderful New Year's Eve watching TV and playing with Riley and had a delicious New Year's Day dinner with Papa and Grandma--a great start to 2008! We hope all of you had a marvelous beginning to the New Year as well!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Eureka!

I've found it--the perfect picture for next year's Christmas card:

Charles being Charles.

Look What Santa Brought!

Santa was very good to Riley this year! This is what the living room looked like Christmas Eve...


Santa must have enjoyed his milk and cookies and appreciated the reindeer food Riley left for Rudolph and the whole crew. Here's another view...


Riley just couldn't believe all the amazing stuff left under the tree. She practically dragged Charles out of bed Christmas morning saying, "Dad, you've just got to see this!"


She really enjoyed the Smart Cycle Santa gave her. According to Riley, it was just what she wanted!


Here are a few other photos from Christmas morning...

Riley opening the one "girly" thing she asked for--a Meadow Mansion.

Riley digging into the presents.

Riley with her new digital camera.


Christmas & Becoming Alcoholics?

Christmas was really crazy this year and with Riley's birthday and the holiday, it seemed as though we were engulfed in one big tornado of wrapping paper! We celebrated Christmas at my mom's and dad's the weekend of December 14th and then had Christmas with Charles' parents on Christmas day. We all were so thrilled with all our wonderful presents!

Riley in front of our tree.

Riley & I created this ginger bread house. (Thanks Aunt Carolyn!)

Riley opening her stocking at Gami's house.

Helping Papa Doug open his gifts.

Mom's look of shock when she opens her new digital camera.

Dad & Cathy's new dog, Spanky.

Gee, I don't think Dad & Cathy bought enough presents...

Dad enjoys his new book. (I know it's by Glenn Beck--it's his, not mine!)

Dad & Cathy opening presents.

Overall, we received some wonderful gifts, but the most interesting were from Dad & Cathy. Now, Charles & I enjoy an "adult beverage" every now and then, but then it's not like we drink on a daily basis. I asked for a bottle of Pama and didn't get it. Instead, we got 25--yes, 25--bottles of liquor. Don't believe me? We actually had to buy a stand from Pier 1 just to hold it all...

We could open our own bar with all this stuff!

We also had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with the Collins family. We were super excited to spend time with Charles' brother, Mike, his wife, Pam, and daughter, Ann.

Jack & Nancy holding a very happy Ann.

Pam helps Ann with a new present.

Mike gets a new apron--he's such a great cook!

Pam and Ann play with her new blocks.

Speaking of alcoholics, should we worry about Ann? :-)