Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas that zoooomed on by

Family shot

Christmas 2009 is officially over. December was such a busy and hectic month for me that I don't know if I fully enjoyed Christmas like I wanted to. By the time the last few orders were rolling out of the studio, we were headed to New York City for a few days and then when we returned it was Christmas Eve with lots of wrapping and more wrapping and then on Christmas we drove to my moms for the day and then we had a day off and my in-laws drove in. See... crazy schedule. Next year I think a slower pace would be better, more relaxation and more simplicity. We did have a wonderful Christmas and New York was truly fabulous. We even had a little snowstorm in the mix before we left for the city, that helped put us in the Christmas spirit too but now that it is all said and done, I am beat. I hope to take it easy and do nothing that I don't want to do over the next few days.

I did have a week off from work and typically January is my slowest month but orders are coming in so I will be back to work in some capacity starting tomorrow. I also am not a fan of having the holiday decorations around for too long and I find that I get a 'spring cleaning' type of urgency to reorganize and clean at this time of year. Thursday is D-day for tree and outdoor & indoor decorations to come down. I cannot wait. In the meantime, I already cleaned out our master bath closet. I have literally wanted to do this for at least a year. It looks so much better now and every time I open that closet door, I smile. I also cleaned and reorganized my work office. I have a lot of friends that don't care for cleaning, they see it as a tedious chore, but I have always enjoyed it and once it is done and everything is looking the way I want it, there is no better drug for me. I have probably just labeled myself as a major nerd but I so enjoy it...I do tend to inhale those Mr. Clean chemicals a bit longer than I should...that must be the attraction.

NYC was a quick little getaway but it was wonderful. There is an energy about Manhattan that you cannot get anywhere else. Life, living, moving, breathing, experiencing. It all happens there. Ellie kept telling us how much she loved it all. The buildings were huge and her eyes were even bigger as she hurried down the crowded city streets holding onto my hand or Steve's. She was pointing out little nuances or landmarks that she would spot with a big grin on her face like we were trapped in one of those 'I Spy' books. The freezing temperatures helped us keep a quick pace as we walked to all of the points of interest that we had on our list. We spent some time in Rockefeller plaza looking at the tree and the skaters. We spent a fun morning at the American Girl Doll store. Ellie brought one of her dolls (Marisol) that needed some professional hair work and off to the salon we went. Emma who has experienced all of this years ago, had a good time too as she enjoyed reliving it through Ellie's eyes. We went to FAO Schwartz, Toys R Us, the M&M store, the NHL store, Macy's and many fine dining establishments. We took several cab rides and enjoyed our hotel room on the 49th floor. The elevator was so fast, your hair would blow up if you were standing too close to the doors. Believe it or not the city sounds of police sirens and beeping taxis could be heard all the way up in our room. We even had some excitement at our hotel as Rudy Giuliani gave a press conference there. It definitely was a whirlwind with lots of people and rushing around but I am glad we went. Steve and I would love to go in the spring, just the two of us, so we could see a show, hang out in a club or dine at some non-kid friendly restaurant and loiter around just talking. We will have to plan on that one.

Planning on working a little, relaxing a lot and drinking it all in over the next few days. Life continues to treat us well and Ellie and Emma are healthy and happy. Those are truly the best gifts for us this holiday season.

New York City ~ December 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

I ♥ Faces 'Pets Only'

Here is my contribution to the Pets only themed week at I ♥ Faces. It was a tough decision because we have so many pets and they are all so adorable but I chose a photo of Phoebe and Ellie. Phoebe is Ellie's best friend. She sleeps with her (on her) each night and is always aware of where ever Ellie is. She came to Memphis with us to cheer Ellie up during treatment and she has provided much TLC and healing. Phoebe was found with her sister Edie in our woods back in 2004. She and Edie are tons of fun literally as they both tip the scales at 15+ pounds. That's a lot of cat to have sleeping on you but Ellie doesn't mind

This photo was taken this past Spring on one of Phoebe's rare outside outings. This photo demonstrates their bond of friendship.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cold and Rainy

Ahhh.... can you feel that? It's some breathing room. Finally seeing the light at the end of the never ending tunnel of orders. Woo Hoo! Now I need to finish up the stragglers as well as my Christmas shopping. We head to NYC to enjoy the city during Christmas for a few days on Friday. To me there is nothing like being in New York City in late December. The lights, the santas, the holiday cheer, the big tree...a magical time for sure. Ellie is excited to bring her hair style challenged American Girl doll to the AG doll store for a new hairdo. Emma and I had done this years earlier when she was 8 and she loved the whole experience. We are all excited to eat at all the amazing NYC diners/restaurants and to go to Macys and shop shop shop.

Today it is pouring rain and cold. A few degrees colder and we would be having a snowstorm. Definitely a good day to finish up orders. The girls are playing nicely together on Club Penguin (for now) and later this afternoon I am taking Ellie to see the 'Princess and the Frog'. I still have a list of movies I wanted to see but I don't know if I will have the time before they are long gone... There's always DVD I guess.

More holiday photos from around the house.
I love Williraye folkart. This group of kids places the finishing touches on their snowman. It sits on my dining room table as the centerpiece.

Favorite spot
Kanye has found that he loves sleeping under the tree. He is such a sweet boy.

One of my favorite Christmas ornaments.

OK.... I said they were upstairs playing on Club Penguin... guess not... Emma just came in to inform me that Ellie had taken a nasty spill down the stairs. As I quickly whipped around thinking the worst... this is what I see... Ellie's head is bandaged, a large bandaid(hope I don't need that someday soon) graces her face, oxygen mask to help her breath and 2 broken arms. Don't you just love a cold rainy day. I think I am the one that needs the oxygen.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Life and Stuff

What has been going on? Where have you been? Are you guys alive in there? Those are the questions and here are the answers... work and a sick child has been what's going on... I have been in my studio working and yes, thank God, we are all alive. It's that time of year for me when I am super busy with work. It's been a family event lately with Steve and Emma helping out a good deal. The economy and not really knowing what work would look like prevented me from hiring on additional people. I do have my Julie on call but she has a new opportunity that is turning out great so I am trying not to rely on her so much and give her time to do her thing... so that is where Emma and Steve come in. So appreciate their help and Emma rocks. She is really helpful...don't think I haven't thought of pulling her out of school to work full time. hee- just kidding... So as with most small businesses, we didn't hire on and had to beef up our own productivity and that means working a whole lot more. It's been very busy and I am grateful for that. So that covers work... next... sick child.

My sweet Ellie has had a lot going on the last 6 weeks. She received the H1N1 vaccine and then came down with whatever was going around. Was it the flu? Maybe, never had a professional diagnosis but it really wasn't that bad for her. The bad part was the hives she had for about 5 days after being sick. A combination of the vaccine, being sick and taking the over the counter meds all in a week's timeframe was the cause. She was placed on steroids to stop the hives. She was fine for about 3 weeks. Tuesday night her stomach started to hurt. I thought it may be gas pain. Steve was out of town so I got her all set up in my room to keep her close. That night the pain came. She had such abdominal pain. I could see her stomach was distended and hot to the touch. The pain was there but not constant. Her pediatrician thought she may be constipated. It had been a full day since she had gone to the bathroom so that made sense. By midnight it wasn't improving and I called her pediatrician back. Ellie was able to jump up and down without too much pain so she ruled out her appendix. (professional test I know). The pain was there and I know Ellie has a high tolerance so I was really concerned. We actually headed to the ER around 3am but Ellie said sitting up made her feel a lot better so we turned around and got some gas x and were able to get some sleep for a few hours. The pain was there on Wednesday but the milk of magnesia and laxative they advised us to use did it's job and she had two bowel movements, unfortunately the pain was still present. That night a friend of ours who is a surgeon dealing with gastro stuff came over and performed an examine. He saw she was swollen and didn't think it was constipation. He also didn't think it was her appendix. He said it's so hard to tell with kids as they present differently and sometimes it can be something serious. He said to take her to get scans in the morning if she was still uncomfortable. Her pain was much improved but still there so her pediatrician sent us off for CT, Xray and ultrasound. She examined her that morning and was concerned about her liver. That was the sensitive spot on Ellie's body. Can I tell you that Steve and I were so scared. When your child has had cancer before and there is something wrong, all of those emotions and fear come storming back in. I kept thinking about 'secondary cancer'. All of the treatment Ellie endured to kill her cancer can cause new cancer some where in her body. It's rare but it can happen. Steve and I had our weak moment and then tried to focus on being positive and awaiting the test results and giving our worries over to God. The Xray looks fine and this morning we received word that the CT and Ultrasound were normal... Thank God. We are off to do some lab work this afternoon to make sure her levels are all normal. Ellie feels better this morning and is eating again. I have peace that she is fine. I didn't have it yesterday but it has flooded me today. Ellie is playing and not complaining this morning. Steve came home a day early so he was here all day yesterday. He hates being away especially when something like this is going on. Ellie hardly ever get sick but the last month or so my sweet girl has had her share. I know she will be fine and this may be just a combo result of everything she had. She does have a cold currently and that vaccine being so new may be the cause...perhaps we will never know. But she is feeling better and I am so grateful the test have been fine so far. Woo Hoo!

Here are some random photos from the week...

Logan the Elf
Logan the Elf is a new tradition we started this year. Ellie still believes in all the Christmas magic and she loves finding this little Elf each morning as he finds a new place to rest after his flight to the N. Pole to tell Santa how well behaved Ellie... and... um... Emma have been.

A newly neutered and declawed Kanye. He is healing well and has already managed to knock some ornaments off the Christmas tree.

Breakfast time!
Northern Cardinal coming in for a bite.

Mr. Squirrel teetering on the plant stand chowing down on the seed I put out for the birds.

Looking Back
River Road in Richmond, Virginia

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I am a little more rested since I last wrote - still crazy busy but I have been trying to head to bed around midnight instead of 2 am. I use to be able to work really late without a problem... this turning 40 sure has put the kibosh on a few things. However I am not complaining. I am so grateful for the work because even though Wall Street seems to be back to fat bonuses and people are out stimulating the economy by shopping, I know too many people that are looking for work or have had to take pay cuts and forgo raises. So, I remind myself of that when I want to be doing other things instead of working...like sleeping. The crazy hours will be over in a few short weeks and then I can sleep.

This weekend we decorated the house for Christmas. I still have more to do but we are off to a very good start. The tree is decorated and Steve has done a fantastic job lighting the outside of our yard. You cannot see our display from space but it is pretty bright. I am so proud of my neighbors. All of my immediate neighbors have their lights up and it looks so festive. It's magical to look out and see every one's lights twinkling. Makes my heart happy and Ellie just loves to look at them. It's been raining the past two days so I haven't gone out to take photos. Hopefully this weekend I can snap off a few shots to share. I can show off some of the inside though. We set the tree up in living room (you know that room near the stairs) in front of the window. White lights are featured inside but on the outside we have lots of twinkling colors, a polar bear we have lovingly named Shane after our beloved Shepherd and a snowman that well at night looks like a blob of lights but he does look like a cool blob of lights. Inside we have two trees. Our living room tree and then a smaller tree up in the big window in our entry way.

View from the couch
living room tree

I so love putting the ornaments on the tree with the girls. We have the homemade, sentimental ornaments that the girls have made in school or at Brownies, then there are the ornaments that Steve and I acquired before kids, then there are the milestone ornaments like Babies First Christmas, Babies Baptism and photo displays that sort of thing. Then there are the kids ornaments; Dora, Arielle, Pooh Bear etc. and a new one that I have yet to give Ellie - Tom and Jerry. She watched this cartoon during treatments last year and loves it. Lastly there are the ornaments that I just love. The Williraye, the Krinkles, The Hallmark ones... as you can tell we have an eclectically decorated tree. Each ornament holds a happy memory and it's a true joy putting them up.

Mr. Frog
this is one of my favorite ornaments - a Krinkles tuxedo frog with a little Christmas tree.

Tree Trimming
the girls trim the tree

I am off to print some more notepads, laminate luggage tags and print out holiday labels. I have Law and Order on the TV and a nice cold cup of cranberry juice. The rain is pouring down and I have another 2 hours of energy left. I leave you with a photo of crazy Kanye. He is off to the vet bright and early tomorrow for a little lasering. He is getting neutered and being declawed. His days of scaling my window treatments and hanging on the porch screens are coming to and end. Oh, and that 2 am howling, we hope his cries looking for love will be much quieter after tomorrow too.