Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Outside Girl

Avery is an outside girl! She spends a good portion of the day trying to put her shoes on and banging on the door. We usually take an afternoon stroll around the neighborhood walking trails to burn some energy and since daddy was working from home today, we took our stroll during Parker's quiet time, just the two of us.
She is loving playing in the crunchy leaves!
Absolutely out of focus but cute nonetheless!
Such a happy girl!
What a ham!
I hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Post for Parker

Sometimes I feel like I write a lot about Avery because she's SO all over the place, she offers up a lot of good writing material.... such as climbing onto our kitchen table and practicing her gymnastics by hanging off the kitchen chandelier. It happened...Pray for us.... whew.

Then there is Parker. He is focused. He finds one thing he's really into and pours himself into it. His daddy is the same way. They're loyal. We went through an ONLY Toy Story phase, then Cars, then back to Toy Story and now we're ONLY into Thomas and Friends. I say "we" because it is a family affair. I can't tell you the last time he watched Toy Story or played with those toys with the exception of wearing TS pajamas and the day we went to Disney on Ice.

He role plays with those trains ALL DAY LONG and recreates movie scenes. Today I was James and I shunted Henry to safety no less than 15 times. Sir Topham Hatt was cross with me when I lost my "coal special" but Henry saved the day and found my tender of coal in the abandoned mine. He makes his trains apologize to one another, puts them in time out when they've been "naughty" and always uses "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" in his conversations between the trains. I like to think he treats his actual human friends the same way. Sweet, sweet boy.

My boy has the most compassionate heart. Lovie asked me to snuggle him Sunday night (when he should have been in bed) but how do you say no to that?! I laid on the couch with him on my chest like you would a newborn and we watched football. When someone would get tackled he would declare "Oh no! Are you OK?!" You need to say you're sorry!" "Go to time out!" He would get concerned when a player would come off the ground dirty and tell me, "He is dirty! He needs soap!" Daniel and I have accepted that Parker will not likely be a football player in the future but I sure enjoyed hearing his deep concern for the players.

With the exception of leaving the Disney store toyless, when Avery Godzilla's the train table or when she is mean to him, he is a really, really sweet boy. We're out of the tantrum phase (Praise the Lord), he sleeps 12-13 hours nightly at our house or away now and no more night terrors (mega answer to prayer)! What a difference a year makes!

Parker, this post is for you. I ALWAYS want you to know how VERY special you are to me. You told me today "you have 2 babies but I was 1st." I love that you still view yourself as my baby.... because you are and always will be. I love you because of your compassionate heart, your sweet words of encouragement, how you treat your sister and friends and your loyalty. You are literally the sweetest and most thoughtful 3 year old I've ever known and your father and I love you all the way to God's house and back, Parker Wise!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Good Customer Service Experiences

I feel many people are quick to complain about poor customer service (myself included!) but slow to praise great customer service experiences so today I thought I'd share some with you! Who knows.... maybe it will sway you to use their products/services and that would reward their friendliness/conflict resolution skills and CLEARLY spark a customer service revolution. Well.. we can dream...

I may be a bit obsessed with their clothes.... particularly their smocked bubbles that Avery wore all summer. They have great knits, play wear and church clothes. Their smocked goodness is my weakness! Recently I ordered an Owl Romper that I was DYING to have! Unfortunately, it took FOREVER to get to me and by the time it did, it was torn and too small :/ I've NEVER had quality problems with Smockadot until this. They sent me a new romper before I could even request they do it but it was still too small. I sent an email with some concerns I had about sizing, shipping and quality of this item and received the nicest email back from the head of production and another (bigger) owl romper. I was more than pleased with my experience and the resolution was better than I expected. While shipping is still 2-4 weeks, I still love their clothes, quality and now customer service!

My love for my vacuum runs deep. The day I opened my first neato, I promise I saw rainbows and sprinkles shoot out of the box. It's the BEST vacuum I've EVER had.... when it works. Unfortunately, every issue that can happen to the robot, has.... so I'm on my 5th. I've had fatal wiring problems, wheels stuck, fans stuck, one was stuck in Japanese mode.... I even had one melt to the charger. All freak issues that make me leery to recommend the product BUT their product (when it works right) is incredible and saves me at least 30 minutes a day of vacuuming 3500 sq feet of carpet myself. Their customer service is easy to get ahold of, they're open late and send you a new robot pretty much no questions asked for free since all of these items are under warranty. They also let you keep all the extra filters and brushes. SCORE one for Neato.

This is a chain of kid's hair cutting salons. I went to the one in Blakney (Charlotte, NC) so I can only speak for that salon. You be be thinking I'm about to tell you about how Parker got a great hair cut.... he did... a few weeks ago... today was mama's turn. How genius is this? I needed a hair cut, Daniel's schedule was too crazy for me to commit to an appointment anywhere I could go kid-less, the kids would terrorize Great Clips in a fit of boredom or walk out the door while I'm getting my shampoo on... what's a mom to do?! Well.... you get your hair cut in a kid's salon while the little ones play on the train table collecting other kid's snot as they suck on community trains and watch a movie. I fought the urge to get my cut while riding in a firetruck and sat in the normal chair. The lady that usually sweeps hair and blows bubbles for crying kids watched my kids play so I could enjoy my hair cut. I was nervous I'd look 6 but I'm really happy. I mean, I'm no Kate Beckinsale like the picture I brought in, but what did I expect for $23? Overall, great experience and I'm slightly ashamed to admit I'm pretty sure I just became a frequent client of a kid's hair salon.

This is the photo I took in to the salon as my inspiration... I'll have to give you "my version" tomorrow since she only half blow dried it so I could leave in a jiffy when a mom walked in and announced "I think my daughter has lice. It's going around her school." I'm pretty sure I threw $30 at the stylist, grabbed the kids and RAN!

Have you had any great customer service experiences lately that you'd like to give a shout out to?!

*I wasn't paid to write this or given any incentive. In fact, I paid for the romper, vacuum and hair cut so quite the opposite! I just genuinely enjoyed my product/experience and thought I'd share!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Neighborhood Halloween Party

This is our 1st Halloween in our new neighborhood! We were excited to go to the Halloween party and haunted trail the social committee put together Saturday night. They went ALL OUT! Parker dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and Avery was a fairy. I was hesitant to buy her a costume in case she wouldn't wear it so I just got fairy wings and everything else I found in her closet. I thought she was SO cute! Parker was happy to be Buzz but as usual, not happy to have proof on camera.
I think she looks 5 in this picture. So grown up!
What did I think would happen if I gave her a wand? Straight to the mouth!
This wagon has been worth its weight in gold! Best mode of transporting kids around a neighborhood ever!
Avie eventually jumped ship and pulled her brother. Strongest 17 month old EVER!

We have amazing walking trails through the woods and the social committee converted a small portion of it into a haunted trail. They let the little kids come through at 7 and didn't spook them (even though it was still pretty creepy!) and then ramped it up with zombies and people jumping out at you at 8. 
Parker staring at a "dead" kid.... like I said... still a bit too scary for the little kids! Whoops! We didn't know. Thankfully, no nightmares!
After the haunted trail we all went to the clubhouse for yummy food and one of the Charlie Brown movies. Parker and his friend, Jonathan, sat for the entire movie but Avery... not so much. We decided she must have thought she was dressed as a social butterfly instead of a fairy because girlfriend worked the room over and over! 
Parker and Jonathan were content to watch the movie together
I'm not sure if you can see Avery's face but it is CLASSIC. She was pretty excited to see "A DOG!" (Snoopy) 
The kids had a great time and we were really impressed with the detail that went into planning the party. I'm so glad we took the kids to this because actual Halloween night is supposed to be in the high 40's! BRRR!!!! Plus it's a Wednesday and who really wants to keep their kids up late and sugared up on a school night anyways? I think Halloween/trick or treating should always be the 4th Saturday of the month of October. Who's with me?!
I hope you all have a fun Halloween week filled with pumpkins, costumes and candy... but only the good stuff worth blowing all those calories over!!!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Goin' to the Lodge...

...The Great Wolf Lodge.... darn that jingle. It gets in my head and stays for DAYS! As a former marketer... it's genius... as a radio listener (yes, some of us still listen to the radio) it drives me bananas. Despite their jingle, it's a pretty amazing place!

We were able to nab day passes a few months back and had one of our favorite days as a family ever. This time, my parents found a groupon so we (and by we I mean Daniel and Parker) stayed overnight!  The best pictures are on my mom's cell phone since I was leery of taking the SLR around water but I did capture some highlights.

I didn't know they were offering Trick of Treating but since I packed their Woody and Jessie jammies, no one knew we didn't intentionally pack costumes!

The arcade was closed for renovations so "due to the inconvenience" (which was NO inconvenience since I wouldn't normally pay for that anyways!) many of the games were moved to the lobby and halls and made FREE! Daniel Parker really enjoyed the racing games. Daniel kept exclaiming "We came in 1st!" which really meant "I came in 1st while Parker sat in my lap!" I took a spin on the motorcycle with Parker and it was downright embarrassing! I am certainly no gamer!

Daniel got a little too into it and played the shooting game with P. The only problem is he was shooting meerkats... Parker's favorite animal!  I'm hoping he isn't traumatized for life.
Parker watched the "storytime" while Avery tried to jump the fence to join the show. Eventually I took her back to the room and after 2 hours of trying to get her to sleep, I gave up and drove her home. I was hoping she would sleep at home but apparently she wasn't up to sleeping that night anywhere! The next morning, we hopped in the car and headed back to the boys who loved their overnight stay! My parents joined us soon after and we headed back to the waterpark.
  It was fun having my parents there to watch the kids so Daniel and I could do the big slides together. One of the slides is so amazing it actually made me pukey! Howlin' Tornado was the death of my equilibrium but SOOO addictingly fun. 
Parker wasn't tall enough to do the big slides with us but I know he would have loved them! He was quite content on Fort Mackenzie doing the still scarily high, kid's slides. That smile was worth every mile I drove there and back twice in 24 hours!

There is something for everyone from a baby and toddler pool, to little kid's slides, a wave pool, and multiple level of thrill slides for older kids and adults. The Great Wolf Lodge is fantastically done. The rooms are themed, spacious and clean. The kids had their own little room within our room which Parker LOVED... or maybe it was just the TV hanging over his bed.  The staff was friendly and the facility is resort quality. With the exception of Avery's sleeping issues, it was a blast and I look forward to doing it again when A is a bit older.

I leave you with outtakes of my attempt to get pictures of the kids in their pajamas costumes.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A hodge podge of subjects

What a BEAUTIFUL week! I have loved the chilly, pumpkin spice coffee worthy mornings and sidewalk chalk in shorts afternoons! Of course, this weather doubles my laundry which we already know I'm ALWAYS behind on. The mountain is back.... or maybe it never left. 

Update on my last post: The Dr. called and I'm still cancer free!!! WOO HOO! My remission date is officially 1/31/2013 so get ready for a party 2/2/2013! I may already have a pinterest board dedicated to it. God is SO good!

Parker is STILL sick.... worse, in fact. Even though he's 3, those preemie lungs still struggle to ward off any sickness. What starts as a little cough, ends with 2 weeks of congestion that lands in his lungs. Welcome back, RSV season. :/ I kept him home from school this week because we're scheduled to go to the Great Wolf Lodge Wednesday and Thursday. Thankfully, despite his coughs, he still feels pretty well so we're still going. (Sorry other parents... I HATE to be THAT mom but he's had it for 2 weeks, no fever.... at least he'll be around chlorine).

Avery is now only getting up once a night which is a HUGE improvement from the 4-7 times she was getting up the last 2 months. I'm starting to feel like a new woman. 

Today was picture day at Parker's school so I did swing him by to snap a shot then we skedaddled. (I've never typed that word before... I kinda like it). Afterwards, we went to early vote which apparently the rest of Waxhaw also decided to do so we once again SKEDADDLED (I promise I won't use it again this post... but seriously.. such a fun word). We'll try again tomorrow morning on our way to GWL with daddy in tow to help wrangle the lovies. 

{Quick jump on a soapbox} Go vote... I won't tell you who for... just do it. It's it's a privileged many of us take for granted. Local friends... you can vote early almost any day of the week so NC, local friends.... no excuses not to! {Off soapbox}

Because Avery is sleeping at night, she's having a hard time with naps (Heaven forbid she do both) so we headed outside to walk the trails in our neighborhood with camera in tow. Parker forbid me to take his picture politely so I respected his wishes (sort of) "No pictures, please, mommy." So here are a few cute shots of Little Miss who is, despite taking a walk, still fighting her nap in her crib. She will loose but she'll put up a good fight. Feisty little red head!

Love them! I'll be back soon with a Great Wolf Lodge update!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Peace of Mind and Pumpkins

Since finishing my last round of chemo for Hodgkin's Lymphoma on January 31, 2008, I am no stranger to the oncologist office. Thankfully, as time passes I'm able to go less frequently. I'm down to just 2 visits a year which is both exciting and terrifying. There is something comforting about having CT scans. I know in my heart that I am healed from cancer but I treasure a piece of paper confirming it. I wish I had the faith to TOTALLY put it behind me but I'm human and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to thinking about the "what if's" ... particularly around the time I see "Dr. Hellner 9:30" on my calendar. Yesterday was the day!

I'm SO close to being considered in remission (January 31, 2013) that instead of having my usual CT scan, my oncologist agreed to a chest x-ray instead. It's a happy/sad for me. I just assume have a PET scan that would catch any little bit of cancer but the risk are higher and its a lot of radiation.... and $8,000. Have I ever mentioned how much I loved having PET scans?! They wrap you up in warm blankets like a burrito, give you a zanex, place you on a tiny table in a circular machine and play chirping birds while you stare at the ceiling painted with cherry trees and birds overhead. Its so relaxing that I usually fall asleep.

The x-ray was quick, less radiation and WAY less expensive so we went that route this time. I'm sure if anything looks questionable, they'll perform a CT scan but I am pretty excited to be moving closer to my remission date even if it does mean less check ups (aka... medical peace of mind). I know God will use this time for me to find more peace in His healing and less in a piece of paper with images I don't understand anyways.

My mom and Avery joined me while Parker was at school and Daniel was at work. I LOVE taking my miracle babies to the oncologist office! Avery was such a little ray of sunshine in a typically less than cheery place. Miss A ran around the office making people smile while I had blood work, a check up and my x-ray.

My appointments are usually a family affair. We've all come to love Dr. Hellner. If you ever end up with cancer (which I pray you don't!), I encourage you to look up Dr. Hellner with Levine Cancer Institute. She's been a real God send.

Afterwards, my mom, Avery and I did a little shopping, had lunch and picked up my new laptop from Best Buy. I am SO thankful Daniel was able to retrieve my files but the hard drive was DEAD. It was such an old netbook that it made more sense to buy a new computer than a new hard drive so here I am... typing on my new HP! It's twice the size of my netbook so it's taking some time to get used to but I'm really liking it!

We picked Parker up from school then headed to Hall Family Farms to enjoy some outdoor time on a GLORIOUS day! The kids enjoyed a hayride, getting dirty in the sand box and picking a pumpkin! Parker picked the biggest and most expensive pumpkin left in the patch... he is MY son... he's got nice taste.

Parker is a bit under the weather so I brought him home, put him in his PJs and laid him on the couch. I put on Beauty and the Beast and was SO pleased he wasn't begging me to put on Thomas! Come to find out, he fell asleep 5 minutes into the movie but I'd be lying if I didn't admit to enjoying it. I still knew EVERY word to EVERY song. Watching it got me a little excited for Avery to enter the Disney princess phase as long as the princess sass doesn't come with it. Girlfriend is sassy enough as it is!

I don't have my x-ray or blood work results back yet but I'm sure they're fine. I have peace in my heart about the results but my human mind is looking forward to the "you're all clear" phone call. Only 3 more months and I'll be considered IN REMISSION! Which I will be celebrating by throwing myself a party!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I'm Lovin'...


I will admit I am NO fashionista. I try to get the biggest bang for my buck which usually means boring clothes I can mix and match to make different outfits and adding a necklace or scarf. Now that I'm out of the itty bitty baby phase and I'm able to shower and occasionally shave my legs, it's time to step up my game. I refuse to be the mom in yoga pants while her daughter wears smocked dresses and more expensive shoes than my own. Which happens... and I'm out of excuses as to why other than LAZINESS. I've focused this season on buying myself some "out of my comfort zone" clothes. So far, I'm feeling sassy in my colorful skinny jeans and funky shoes!

I've started using chevron in some of my appliques... particularly in this turkey and I'm LOVING it! So are customers because we're running out of this material FAST! 

I have some yellow skinny jeans that I thought gray would look fantastic with but I'm really trying to buy printed tops so I immediately thought of a gray and white chevron top Lolly Wolly Doodle had on sale recently. Of course, I haven't seen it sold since I've had this epiphany but if they do, I'll grab it! I was unable to find a picture on google but it was cute... really cute... non- buyers remorse cute.

That got me thinking... which can be scary... but it got me thinking that chevron is a print without it being too crazy of a print so it's just outside my comfort zone but not too far that I feel silly.

I bit the bullet and bought my first chevron piece.... this dress for Clemson games that received rave reviews on facebook!

Compliments fuel the fire so now I'm all about this trendy new "print"! I've done a little research to round up some pieces I'm lovin' for your viewing pleasure:
I am DYING over this! I can't find it anywhere in a store but I LOVE it!

This one is OUT of my comfort zone because of the bright colors but I love it on her... and her skinny body.  If you're skinny and 21... go buy this dress and that belt!

This is the MudPie dress I bought in purple and orange. They have so many cute colors for gameday! (non Southerners.... in the South, we dress up for football games. It may sound crazy but it's some ladies FAVORITE part of the college football experience!)

So cute for summer and early fall. I love the skinny belt and cut of the top.  Once again, couldn't find it in stock but I may have to hunt for it this spring!
LOVE... it's cream and black and I want it. This is from   Of course, it too is out of stock but I may be on a "notify me when it comes available" list. This I can totally do. Classic colors. Defined waist. Some sleeves for warmth. I hope it comes available soon!
We can't leave out the kids. How precious is this gray and white chevron dress that was on Smocked Auctions recently?! I didn't buy it because of Avery's hair color and skin tone (yes I think about these things with my 17 month old) but it would be adorable with a yellow or aqua monogram! I'd be all over it if the dress were aqua chevron or pink chevron for Miss. A!
This fun little number is from Lolly Wolly Doodle. It's obviously too bold for an adult but it's too cute on this elementary school girl!
Whatcha think? Cute, right?! I know there are some crazy colors in the mix and other than for game day (which is clearly Clemson colors) I'm not quite ready for the bold color chevron dresses YET but that cream and black one is screaming "TAYLOR, BUY ME!" Have you found any fun chevron pieces this fall? If so, post the link in the comments section!