This year we celebrated Christmas at home. It was wonderful to be in our cozy new house. Even though it was 70 degrees the day before, Christmas Day brought some chilly weather. The girls were excited to celebrate and hang out together as a family. It was calm and relaxing. This was the first year in a very long time that we did not travel and we loved it! No where to go, no where to be, no plans to coordinate. Laid-back, family time - just what we needed.
On Christmas Eve we went to service at our church and then had our traditional Christmas Eve supper with extended family. This year we went to Houston's. We planned an early dinner so that the girls could join us. I couldn't believe they made it through a 2.5 hour dinner and behaved so nicely! It was a wonderful meal and we shared great conversation.
That night we left our shoes on the front doorstep for St. Nick. Gigi told us about this great German tradition and the girls love it! He filled them with yummy treats. We slept so well and woke up late (8:00 am) for Christmas morning festivities. Presents, a treasure hunt from Santa (Kubicek tradition) and stockings. Then we all took a nap together. Delightful!
Charlotte received the movie, 'Up' from Daddy. They went to see it in the theater this year together and both really enjoyed it. Finley opening her stocking. Lots of new bath toys.
Mommy opening a gift from Daddy.
Charlotte sliding down her new slide from GBonnie and GDave, holding the bird book from GGSally.
Eating our traditional brunch together - pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and fruit salad.
Charlotte participated in ADC's annual Yuletide Magic production this year. She danced with the youngest group in "I Want a Hippopatamus for Christmas" and in the grand finale, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." Sara S. was her special buddy. They formed quite a bond. She has even asked for Sara to come over and play at her new house. Charlotte LOVES watching the BIG girls dance. Whenever I teach on Thursday afternoons, she comes with Gigi to the studio to watch the big girls practicing their competition routines. She feels right at home at the studio.
We weren't sure how the performance would go, because she cried (read: screamed!) during the entire 2 hours of the dress rehearsal. She refused to dance and cried, "I want my Mommy....and so on." It was very difficult for C to see me interacting with the large group of dancers and their parents, etc. But, the old adage held true. Bad dress rehearsal....great show! And it was fabulous.
First was the Zilker Tree Festival (aka Trail of Lights). It was more 'intimate' this year due to budget cuts from the City of Austin. But we actually enjoyed it MORE! Less headache, more fun! Our group danced on the Candyland Stage, right under the HUGE Christmas tree. We had an awesome crowd - all seats were taken and people were just pushing in and up to see all of the dancers. I was so happy for them to have such a great audience.
Next we performed at Brighton Gardens, a senior retirement home. The residents were delighted by the dancers. They commented on the lovely costumes and the overall preparation of the program. It was so much fun. The dancers used their ADC Dancer's Manners so nicely. After the performance, they shook hands with the residents, gave them homemade cards (we created at dress rehearsal) and wished everyone a very special holiday season. I was so proud to lead this group!
We wish you all a very merry Christmas!
Practicing the finale with her buddy. Backstage at Trail of Lights 2009.
Today was a very special occassion for our family. Today Finley Claire was baptized. It was a beautiful ceremony. We were surrounded by family and feel so blessed to have shared this special, sacred day with so many people. Pastor Larry talked about setting aside time to be joyful, especially during this season. He talked about how important it is to celebrate. So, today we celebrated Finley. We promised to raise her with love and gentleness.
Finley is a joy.
Finley is filled with light and love.
Finley is a child of God.
Our Pastor, Larry C., baptizing Finley. Our sweet family. Aunt Chris, Gigi, cousin Michelle, Carissa, Finley, Andrew, Charlotte and Uncle Sean. We are blessed that our family made a committment to Finley today, too.
Aunt Chris and fin.
Mommy, Daddy and our sweet angel.
Gigi and Uncle Seannie.
After the ceremony, we hosted brunch at our new house. It was so much fun. Finley slept all afternoon, Charlotte and cousin Gavin played in the playroom and the adults got to enjoy great conversation. What a treat! Thanks for coming to celebrate with us. What a joyous day!!
My heart is filled with sadness as I write this note about our sweet Chunnie kitty. Our beloved Chunnie has been with us for 7 years - the entire length of our marriage. We adopted her from our friend Katie (Mommy's friend from Grad school). Chunnie, then named "Phoebe," needed a new home as Katie was highly allergic. Having never had a cat before (and truth be told, not really liking felines at all!), we decided to keep Phoebe for a month until Katie found a permanent home. Somehow, we fell in love with Chunnie and couldn't imagine giving her away. At the time, she was 6 years old. She slept with us every night, right on top of my tummy. She helped me through my MFA program when my anxiety soared because of all of the pressure and deadlines. We took her to the park, on a leash. We bought her Christmas presents - and a stocking full of tuna to boot. We bought her fancy collars in Carmel at the pet boutiques. We were those people. She slept in our window sill above the kitchen sink in our first apartment in downtown Oakland. She found another sunny spot in our apartment in Dublin. She was our first baby. She moved with us from Cali to Texas. I'll never forget that trip. Andrew and his dad drove our cars back from San Fransisco while Chunnie and I took an airplane. Even fully sedated, she yowled the entire way. I apologized for her incessant crying but luckily I was next to a fellow cat lover and she didn't mind at all. We made a new home in Texas and she has found a friend in both Charlotte and Finley.
The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, I decided to take her to our vet, Dr. Greenville at Circle C Animal Hospital (hands down, the BEST vet in the world!). Chunnie just wasn't acting like herself. She was sleeping all day and night and didn't seem to want to leave our bed. She also had lost a lot of weight. I wanted to get things checked out, in case she needed medication before the Thanksgiving break. Chunnie was down to only 7 lbs. (regularly 12 lbs.). Dr. Greenville ran some routine bloodwork and found out that she was in severe kidney failure. She was only using 1% of her kidney capacity. Our vet gave her 3 days to live. She said that Chunnie had developed this condition, very common in cats, over the past several months or possibly years. Our recent move to the new place likely heightened her stress level and pushed everything over the edge. We were devasted. We decided to euthanize her so that she wouldn't feel any more pain. It was a quick and peaceful passing, but so very difficult to do. Andrew and I both cried like babies in the vet's office.
Chunnie has been such an amazing part of our life together as a married couple. She has been a terrific companion. We burried her in our pet cemetary on my parent's property. We have told the girls that she is with God now, living in heaven. It is difficult when they wake up in the morning, looking for their Chunnie. I am reminded of what a special friend she was to all of us.
Charlotte reading to Chunnie - something she did often and with great joy.
A little snuggle time with Chunnie in the sunshine.
We moved into our new house right before Thanksgiving. Andrew and I have been worried about this move and it's effect on the girls. Our Scottish Thistle home is all they have known and we were worried that the unfamiliar would be unsettling. Oh, how we were wrong! They have had such an easy transition to the new house. It has been such a lesson for us. Our sweet girls have reminded us of what is truly important. We are learning to be more flexible, living more in the moment. Yesterday, Charlotte even exclaimed, "Mom, I LOVE this house," as she jumped through the door. We've tried to make the transition smooth by setting up their rooms first. So, we're in boxes everywhere, but it's an adventure! Andrew calls it 'camping out.' I'm learning to go with the flow and not stress over the piles of boxes. So what if we don't manage to decorate for Christmas this year....we have each other and that's all we need!
Finley playing at our new "Stick House." Charlotte dubbed it this name because the front driveway is always covered in fallen sticks from the big pecan tree out front. I think we'll have some really special memories here....
Finley loves bath time. Most nights the girls pile in the tub together to splash and play. C has elaborate games for us to play and F goes along, sweetly. It is such a wonderful way to end the day. Most days I am exhausted by bathtime, but something sweet happens in that tub and I wouldn't trade that 1/2 hour for the whole world. Daddy will come in and talk to us about our day and his work and all that's going on in the life of the girls and the dance studio. It's a bit crowded, but we don't care.
Finley after her bath, wearing one of Mommy's 'vintage' nightgowns. This was one of Gigi's favorites for me to wear and I love knowing that one time I was this small, too. Relaxed and ready for sleep.
Uncle Seth moved to Park City, Utah recently to take a job with the new Waldorf Dakota Lodge. He invited us to come and visit and that's all we needed to find a weekend for the trip. Delta flies direct to Salt Lake City and the flight was only 2 hours, 45 minutes. What a breeze! C even thought it was amazing that we only had to take 1 airplane ride to go visit her uncle 'Seffie.' The girls did great on the ride. Charlotte slept in Gigi's arms the entire way and Finley decided she wanted to stay up and coo with Mommy. Despite the weather, it was an easy ride. Gigi didn't even get a headache upon landing! We were lucky and ready for some fun in the mountains. When we landed in SLC, C asked Mommy, 'where are the mountains?' And Mommy replied, 'they're all around us.' We literally were surrounded on all sides by beautiful red and brown mountains, with snow on top. But it occurred to me that she only knew of mountains in books and had never SEEN them before....it was fun to see her experience mountains for the first time.
Riding in Seth's truck, up to the ski lodge. We were so excited to go high up in the mountains. It's just too hard to walk in these boots! Gigi, will you carry me?
Happy snow angel! Finley loved the mountain air.
Our sweet tree-hugger.
Thank you, Seffie for an amazing time. We loved it! There really is something amazing about the clean mountain air. We loved seeing your cabin, going to dinner at spruce, walking around Park City, seeing your new office and fancy hotel, but mostly, just hanging out with you. We love you!
I can't believe our little peanut is 5 months old. She is doing really, really well. She is a joyful baby - full of smiles and laughs. Her favorite person to look at and be around is Charlotte. Whenever big sis comes near her, she lights up. It's too sweet for words. Lately C has been playing more with baby dolls (before Fin I don't think she even touched one!). She likes to help with diaper changes and she nurses her babydolls when Mommy is nursing Finley. The first thing C says in the morning is, "let's go get sister!"
5 months old on 10/08/09. This is yummy!
Sisters hanging out on the couch - a little chill time.
Building with blocks. Painting...always with hands.
Outdoor water station.
Smelling the flowers at our picnic.
We have been wanting to make it to the McKenna Children's Museum in New Braunfels for a very long time. We finally made the trip! It is a great museum for kiddos Charlotte's age. Finley had fun, too...checking everything out from Mommy's bjorn. The girls laughed and played and had a great time!
Today was Charlotte's first dance class. Since we slept very little last night, we were scrambling a bit this morning to get out the door and across town to the studio. We have been saving our dance attire (leos, tights, etc.) in a very special place for this day. Today was the first time we put on the ballet outfit. We talked about each thing as we put it on - why we wear leotards, the smooth texture of tights, etc. I wasn't prepared for such an emotional response to such an ordinary action. Who knew getting dressed could be so wrought with emotion? As Charlotte stood before me, a sweet ballerina, my sweet daughter, I was filled with joy for her. I am so blessed to be a mommy. And I am so blessed to share my passion for dance with my daughter. I don't care if she becomes a dancer. I just care that she finds something that truly makes her heart sing. For me it is the world of dance....I wonder what it will be for my daughter.
Hanging out before class, getting a special skirt. Each dancer picked their favorite color. All the moms waited in the lobby while the girls eagerly went into class with Ms. Adele. Excited for class to begin - Charlotte and Ms. Adele.
Lollipops after class!
Hanging out with ballet friends.
All in all, I was amazed and impressed with this first 'Twinkle Toes' class. As a dance teacher and a studio owner, I understand that going into class without Mom and participating is a huge thing. At the studio, we generally count on 8 weeks for kids in our young dancer program (2-6 years) to get into a groove and feel comfortable in the studio environment. I was so happy today that the dancers in C's class felt safe and comfortable to enter class freely, participate with all of the lesson plan and just enjoy moving about the whole space. They were engaged the whole time. I was so proud! Kudos to Ms. Adele. What a fun class!
1st Day of School at Westlake United Methodist Church
Today was an emotional day. It was the first day of school. I use the word 'school' in the very loose sense of the word - it is a total of 7 hours a week. But still it marked the end of summer. Mommy was really sad b/c I have had the amazing opportunity to hang out the whole summer with these two amazing little people. I am so honored and blessed to be their Mommy. Now we're back to regular schedules and classes, etc. It is an exciting time, but we will miss our lazy summer days and all of our travels!
This picture shows Charlotte with socks on her hands. This is one of her favorite things to do. They are her 'mittens.' It started in the winter time when we would wear real mittens (maybe for a week?!?) and now she does it all the time when she is playing in her kitchen.
Well, this morning she made "Tomato & Lettuce" soup for me. She brought the soup downstairs to share with me at the dining table. I had walked down the stairs just before her. Anyway, as she walked down, the pink bowl of 'soup' launched out of her hands. Charlotte bent down to pink it up and slipped on the carpeted floor with her carefully mitted-hands. She log-rolled all the way down the stairs. Her poor face was so red and so surprised. This was our very first tumble all the way down the stairs. I knew it would happen one day; I just wasn't ready for it to happen today. Anyway, luckily I was right there and caught her on the second-to-last stair. Thankfully she didn't hit the hard tile floor.
It was quite a day. Luckily C loves her new school with her new teachers, Ms. Jane and Ms. Cathryn. Mommy was a real mess. My little girl is growing up....
Eating dinner in Cambridge, MD. Charlotte loved watching the boats and the drawbridge. Having lunch - Gigi with an armful of girls!
Hanging out at the pool.
We just returned from our trip to the Washington D.C. area. We spent time with Grandparents in Purcellville, VA and with Mommy's friends from college, Michelle and Tim in the Silver Spring area. It was so much fun! We were totally off-schedule but the girls were real troopers and had a blast. Thanks for the great memories!
Andrew and Carissa are parents to three bright, creative, compassionate kids - Charlotte (age 4), Finley (age 2) and Benjamin (7 months). We're doing the best we can to enjoy life, laugh at ourselves often and give thanks to God for this incredible journey.