The purpose of our family blog is to share our life journey with family and friends. Our family consists of Ben and Barbara (married Dec 2002), Caroline (born Sept 2006), Andrew (born Feb 2009) and Dixie (our dog). We hope that you will enjoy following us and all of our adventures and mishaps!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Additional Christmas Card Photos

Anyone who has ever sent a photo Christmas card knows that although one picture makes it onto the card, there are always several shots that are left behind. Here are a few of our out takes:

Location for our photos: We actually took our picture in October this year. Just down from the Appling cabin in Blairsville stands a lone fireplace (the only remains of where a house once stood). I have always thought the fireplace would make a cool photo spot. As we drove away from the cabin this Fall, I looked at Ben and told him I actually had the kids Christmas pjs, and that I had planned to take their Christmas photo at the fireplace down the road...much to my surprise, Ben said, "then let's do it!" So we pulled over and changed the kids into their pjs and did a quick photo shoot before heading home. It was very spontaneous and lots of fun!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pictures with Santa

I guess it is obvious what Andrew thought of Santa!!

Best of Fall

Fall came and went quickly this year, and I did not get around to posting any pictures so here is my attempt at catching you up with a few pictures.

We took our annual trip to the cabin in mid-October to enjoy the fall foliage. We visited Brasstown Bald, enjoyed GoldRush in Dahlonega, spent lots of time outside and just enjoyed "playing" together.

This year for Halloween Caroline dressed up as Sleeping Beauty, and we dressed Andrew as "Little Man" complete with a tie, mustache and sport coat. Caroline and one of her bestfriends, Harper, were quite the glamour girls in the Costume Parade at preschool. Caroline waved like she was a beauty queen to all of the was quite a hoot!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Double Check!

While Caroline was riding with Mrs. Cheri (who keeps our kids on Tuesdays), they were discussing the word "Wolf." Caroline is really into phonics lately so she sounds out and what letter each word begins with. While Mrs. Cheri was driving, Caroline says, "Wwww...olf" wolf starts with a "Y." Mrs. Cheri kindly corrects her and says, "Wwww...olf" actually starts with a "W."

Caroline comments from the back..."ummm...I think you better double check that!"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Picking out Glasses

So after I made myself realize this was not such a BIG deal (and as Caroline would say this was just a "little" deal), I was reminded how thankful we are to have Doctors, Scientists and Engineers who have perfected a way to help the vision impaired. I mean I could be a Mom hearing that my child has some sort of incurable disease, but thankfully this problem has an easy remedy....GLASSES!

Following the vision screening, we met with a girl to pick out Caroline's glasses. Like any other 4 yr old, Caroline immediately ran to the board and found the pair of "PINK" glasses she had chosen before the appointment. I then proceeded to pick out a sleek pair of metal rimmed glasses. Thankfully, the staff member had good sense to pull me aside and remind me that unless Caroline buys into the glasses and likes them, she is NOT going to wear them. I then search the board for a pair that was pink but not so "PINK!" We settled on a pair of plastic frames that are an almost opaque rose color. Caroline seemed happy throughout the fitting of her glasses and was in good spirits the entire process. Of course, I don't know that she realized the impact this appointment would have on the rest of her life!

They said the glasses would take two weeks to arrive, but they actually arrived early. We got a phone call that they were in on Friday, October 22nd. Ben and I decided to make it a family outing so we all went to pick up Caroline's first pair of glasses. We arrived just 30 minutes before closing time, but we were able to pick them up that night. Caroline was just starting to show signs of a cold coming on so she really was not feeling well. She was a great sport and tried on her new glasses for the lady to fit them to her face. She was most excited about buying the Princess glasses case to put her glasses in. As we were leaving, instead of wearing her glasses out of the store, she carried them in her case. I really think she thought getting glasses was a lot of fun, because it provided her lots of special attention! We did not push her to wear her glasses much the first weekend since we knew she was not feeling well. We have been slowly easing into having her wear them more. Currenlty we have her put them on when she sits on the couch to watch television and she carries them to school each day (but I am not so sure how much she is wearing them at school). Of course, the first day all of her friends tried them on and everyone made a big fuss about them.
We are currently starting to experience a little bit of push back on her wearing the glasses. I think she has started to recognize that they make her "different" and she does not like that. We will soon have to start being firmer with requiring her to wear the glasses. I know that she "sees" a difference when she wears them, but she is still trying to get used to the idea of wearing them. I don't think she understands that they are a "permanent accessory."

Here she is in her very FIRST pair of Pink Glasses. We are all having to adjust to "seeing" her differently

Monday, November 8, 2010

Since the time Caroline was about 2 years old, one of her favorite books has been an Arthur book called, "Glasses for D.W." In the book Arthur's little sister, D.W., desperately wants to be big like Arthur and wear glasses.

Although I have read this book many times to Caroline, I did not realize how close we were to experiencing our own, "Glasses for Caroline" adventure!

At Caroline's 4 yr check-up on September 24th, Dr Pitts was going through the drill of all of the different things to watch out for in the coming year. When he mentioned the eyes, he noted that the crossing of an eye or both eyes can be an early symptom for bad vision which can even lead to other eye problems. I didn't say anything at the time since I had both Caroline and Andrew (there for his 18 month appt) in the room, but my mind began racing with doubt about whether I had actually seen this before or not. Upon arriving home and telling Ben about the appointment, I told him the different warning signs to watch out for in the coming year and when I got to the eye crossing symptom, he quickly blurted out, "I've never seen anything like that." I kept quiet for a day or so and then asked Ben to help me watch and see if we notice Caroline's right eye crossing.

I did not think that it was a figment of my imagination, but because it would happen so quickly and only on occassion, I was not sure if what I thought I was seeing was real or not. On occassion when Caroline grew tired -- always late into the evening, I would notice her right eye turning in toward her nose and then with one blink it would be back in place. After a day or two Ben reported that yes, in fact, he had observed her eye crossing.

I took a couple of days to research what this meant and then I did what I think any Mother would do, I found the first Mom I could at church that had a child that wore glasses. I received a recommendation from this friend and immediately called to make an appointment. Low and behold, the recommended Doctor is actually our regular optetrician.

On October the 13th, I picked Caroline up from ballet practice and whisked her and Andrew over to the Eye Doctor. After all of Caroline's shots at her 4 yr appointment, she was a little leary of "Doctors," so I told her we were going to see a "specialist" about "my" eyes....some fibs are okay, right? We got to the Doctor and while we waited we looked at the frames and cases. Caroline picked out a pair of glasses for herself and a pair for Andrew (purely thinking we were just playing). When they called us back, she did well with the video eye measurement screening. I went first and the image was of a barn with a white picket fence. I asked her to take a look at it to see if she could find a pony in the picture? She really liked that. We then were asked to go back to the waiting room.

When the Doctor finally called us back, I referred to him as Mr Ishaque as I quietly pointed to Caroline and told him that I meant no disrespect (He smiled knowingly). The appointment actually went pretty well - aside from Andrew jumping around the room as I tried to help Caroline. Caroline sat on my lap and looked at a bunch of pictures on the screen while holding a paddle to one of her eyes. The pictures were a flashback to 1980's clipart to say the least. I was honestly not sure if Caroline would get some of the images correct since the phone looked like a 1950's telephone (which she has never seen). She did well, but she did a lot better with the left eye than she did with her right.

After the picture recognition portion of the exam, the doctor looked into her eyes with his light and performed a few other tests. Then he looked at me and asked if she has been bumping into things.

This is when my blood pressure surged and my eyes stung with tears. I gasped and said, No, never. He stated that her vision was 20/40 in the left eye and 20/60 in the right. Her right eye was what is defined as a "lazy eye" meaning, that the right eye often does not work efficiently since her brain tells her that the left eye can dominate to allow her to see clearer.

He then told me that Caroline would ALWAYS wear corrective lenses. As hard as it is to admit, this was devestating news to me. I mean we are talking about my 4 year old daughter who has the most beautiful little face and to think she is always going to be hiding it behind GLASSES, huh, excuse me...did I hear you clearly??? Then he went further and said that if the glasses don't help the lazy eye, we will need to patch it.... pause, silence, splitting headache begins to set in.

To Be Continued.....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I've Got My Big Girl Shoes On!

Caroline was having a bad night - acting out, talking back, etc. We were out to eat at Wendy's and Ben finally broke it to her that her attitude and actions had just ruined her chance of getting a frosty. As you can expect this did not go over well, so Ben took her out to the van for a little "chat."

Ben: Caroline, I'm sorry we were unable to get a frosty and had to come out to the car. If I didn't know better, I'd say you are acting like the "baby" in there.

Caroline: But, I'm not a "ba-by" daddy (pause, kicks up her feet)... See daddy, I have my BIG Girl shoes on!! (smile)

Ben: sigh* (smirk)

Caroline: I just act out when I am tired.

We get back to the car and Caroline says: I'm sorry I was acting out Mommy. I'm just kinda tired that's all.

You have to love this age (smile)!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Our First FAMILY Campout

Last weekend we experienced another FIRST for the Appling clan. We were invited to go camping with friends and in an effort to include the kids and do it on a budget - the decision was made to just keep it simple and camp in the Carr's backyard. Now if we had done this in our backyard, this would seem quite silly since we would basically be sleeping on bermuda grass with no big trees or leaves to be found. BUT, Jon & Bonnie, on the other hand, managed to create an entire campsite in their backyard.

The campsite included two large tents, a real fire pit, and even trees to nestle the tents into. Their backyard is a wide, long rectangular shape so where the campsite was carved out, you could not even see the house. This was really key in making our campout seem "real." We did all of the typical camping activities - made hobo dinners (silver turtles as Bonnie calls them), s'mores, used flashlights, slept in sleeping bags and stayed up late chatting in camp chairs. Although, I will mark this as the first Appling family campout, Andrew might have to do a redo for his memory book -- he and Emily cheated and slept in the house in the comfort of a crib and pack n' play. The girls sacked out around 9pm and the adults held out until midnight.

We all had a great time and awoke around 7:30 the next morning, but instead of coffee brewing over the fire, we decided to do breakfast on the yes, we did cheat a little bit! It just made for easier clean-up (at least that is how Jon put it).

One funny story from the night: Caroline did not go to the bathroom before going to bed and I told Bonnie that she may wake up in the night and need to go (the girls slept in their tent - another nice treat for us). Around 3:30 am Caroline woke up and said, "I need to go tee-tee!" Bonnie called out, "Bar-ba-ra!" I am such a sound sleeper that I didn't hear a thing...but Ben jumped up to help out and when he did, Caroline and Bonnie were already headed toward the house. We all laughed about this since I had predicted this would happen, yet I slept through it all.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Reminder to Always Have a Plan (by Caroline)

So yesterday from about 4-5pm was the longest day of my life. Here's what was going on - Caroline doing everything and anything to annoy Andrew, Andrew crying because he was tired but there was no time to nap again before church, Caroline crying because Andrew was crying, Caroline with her nose in the corner, Andrew poking Caroline while she was in the corner, Caroline getting aggrevated with get the picture! Yes, my head was throbbing and I was reminding myself to stay calm and not overreact, to exhibit Christ in how I treat my children and to remember "I am the Mommy not the child!"

Well, things smoothed over after dinner - perhaps everyone was just hungry and acting out because of it. We were trying to get out the door and I had both kids in the car. I told the kids that I had to run back inside really quick to put Dixie in her room. When I got back to the car, this was Caroline's insight on the situation:

"You know Mommy if you had of put Dixie in her room 'before' we came out to the car, you would not have had to run back inside."

My response: "Yes, you are right. I'll have to remember that for next time. Thank you for reminding me." I know she was right, but Arghhh! is what I was thinking in my head. I have trained that girl too well and she really does constantly remind me of my own rules and tidbits of advice. Gotta love a 4 yr old that is so wise :)

Glad I was off to a Parenting class at church that night. I need it!

Got any advice on how to 'parent' preschoolers. What works for you and your family?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Little Mini - Me!

I am still trying to figure out how to add blogging into my already hectic schedule. I am hoping to blog more often and use it as a way to record and save memories of our crazy family life. Even if no one reads this blog, I think I will still take a stab at a weekly posting -- sounds easy and doable, but I'm certain it will slip by most weeks.

This week's posting is simply a brief list of some cute things Caroline has said/done lately:

  • While shopping for a gift recently - Me: What do you think we should buy? Caroline: Let's look for sale items first and then we can decide (is she not a mini me or what?)
  • Caroline's new form of interruption is - "I have a question" or "Can I ask a question?" What this really means is, I want to talk and tell you something.
  • At her first day of ballet, the class learned how to leap frog in order to strengthen their muscles. Waiting outside of her class, I hear Caroline ask, "When are we going to really learn how to dance?" (This was said with total sincerity).
  • Caroline has two best friends now, and she loves to talk about "me and my friends."
  • Her bed is filled with just about every stuffed animal she can find. Her comment, "they were lonely and wanted to sleep in her bed."
  • She is already planning her birthday party for next year (perhaps I did outdo myself this year) Ha!
  • She asked if Ben and I remembered how we took her trick-or-treating last year and left Andrew at Gigi's...and then she said, "Can we drop him off there again this year?"

Well, that's all I have time to list for now. I'm sure I'll think of more. That girl is always coming up with something!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pampered Puppy Party

This past weekend we hosted Caroline's 4th birthday party. Her birthday was actually on September 3rd, but we chose to drag out her celebrations for two full weeks (what were we thinking?)!

On her actual birthday, we took a quick two night trip up to the Appling cabin (located near Blairsville). She woke up on her birthday to several birthday surprises. I'll have to post pictures of her riding her new bike (with training wheels of course). Ben and I had a hard time enforcing the helmet rule (it's a wonder we survived our childhood without one). We spent most of the time up at the cabin prepping crafts and items for her "friend" birthday party.

As you can see from the photo, although a somewhat odd theme, The Pampered Puppy Party was a HUGE success!

The party included:

1. Pet Grooming Spa (pink nails, personalized dog tags, fluffy dog ears, face painting) Each girl was asked to where lots of PINK and a tutu.

2. Photo Session for each new "posh pup" out in a custom doghouse (made by Ben and the Mrs.)

3. Puppy Hunt (we hid puppies in the yard and had the kids hunt for them and return them to their kennel).

4. Puppy adoption Ceremony. In true "Baby General" style, we had the kids claim a puppy and name them. We then presented them with an adoption certificate.

5. Freeze Dance to "Who Let the Dogs Out" (I'll have to add this video clip)

6. Bead necklaces for their new puppies

7. And what party would be complete without CAKE & ICECREAM! The shaggy dog cake was purchased from Publix and I added the pink bow and candles. The kids ate their cake out of their own dog bowls personalized dog bowls (another craft we did at the beginning).

8. Gift Time - Caroline received lots of fun toys!

9. Free Time and then last but not least, Caroline gave out "Doggy Bags" to all of her friends. My mom helped her make bone shaped cookies.

The party was a lot of FUN, and it is definitely an idea I hope to redesign and use for Andrew - perhaps with more of a firetruck/dalmation theme.

I just still can't believe my baby girl is "FOUR!!"

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Andrew at ONE!

EATING – You are like a little birdie when it comes to eating. You open your mouth wide and wait for us to drop the food in. You get aggravated with us if we are not quick enough for you. If we leave the table, you make a mess by reaching to grab whatever was left within reach. You basically don’t stop eating until you are removed from the table :) You are really good at picking up your own food. Some of your favorites include: bananas (but you don’t like the slimy texture and won’t pick them up, you prefer to eat them from the peel – like a big boy), green beans, sliced cheese, you used to love tomatoes – but not so much recently. For breakfast you are still eating the lil’ concoction I developed for you when you were 6 months old (oatmeal, applesauce, whole milk & CINNAMON…warm for 20 seconds – YUM!). By 11-1/2 months you were completely rid of the bottle and now always drink whole milk from a sippy cup.
SLEEPING – You still continue to be a great sleeper. You typically go to bed around 8pm, and you basically sleep until we get you up (8 – 9 a.m.). You never cry out in the morning. One of my favorite sounds is hearing you sucking your first 3 fingers and making happy sounds while you suck your fingers (mmm, mmm, mmm…). This is how I typically know you are awake in the morning. You are NOT like your sister as far as sleep positions go. We never find you in the same position – side, fanny in the air, back, stomach, whatever works! You tend to stay sitting up in the bed when we put you to bed. It’s as though you are contemplating what your sleep position will be for the night :) We have had you sleeping on a boppy pillow for about 4 months now (it was helping with your runny nose), but now we always find you off of the pillow.
WALKING – You started cruising around 10 months and you still love to pull up on everything. Although, you have not yet found the confidence to walk on your own, you are starting to walk holding onto our hand. You still crawl a lot. Sometimes you crawl with great determination (one arm, then the next as hard and fast as you can go). You have made it up to the second step on our stairs, but have not ventured beyond that.
PLAYING – You are enjoying your new birthday toys – trucks and little people are your favorite. You like things that make noise. You love your Thomas the Train ride-on which you received from Santa. You like to get into whatever Caroline is into. We have packed away all of the typical baby toys – excersaucer, bumbo, swing, Johnny jumper, etc. You are our BIG, adventurous boy now!
WHAT’S NEW – You are babbling more and more. You love to clap on command and sometimes clap just for our attention. You are a giggly boy. You learned how to “high 5” about a month back and you like doing it. You love to play peek-a-boo. You are enjoying being read to more and more. You LOVE bathtime and make sure everyone knows it! You squirm and giggle, kick and splash everything in sight!!
MOMMY’S FAVORITES – By far, my favorite thing about you is that you love to cuddle! I love hearing your sounds when you suck your fingers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Saying goodbye to 2009

Needless to say, two kids kept us quite busy in 2009! We apologize for being out of touch for such a long time. I am in the process of going through our 300+ Christmas pictures so hopefully, I will have some to post soon.

2009 was a great year for our family. The addition of Andrew in February of '09 was definitely the highlight of our year. Andrew is now 10 months + and into everything! He, unlike his sister at his age, has already started crawling, pulling up, cruising and is even trying to climb our stairs. He currenlty has 4 bottom teeth and his 2 front teeth are starting to drop down. At his 9month appointment he was 22 lbs and has dropped to around the 70th percentile for both weight and height. He is talking (well, babbling really). His primary word is bye-bye, bbbb...bye-bye...(repeat, jabber, jabber, repeat). Our experience has definitely been that girls talk a lot more and boys are more active. Andrew is full of energy and a lot of fun! It is hard to believe that the time has come for me to start planning his ONE YEAR birthday. While it has been a great year, it will be said to say good-bye to Andrew's "baby" days (sob, sob!).

Caroline still enjoys preschool and was excited to start back today. She loves the fact that Andrew is becoming more active and able to "play" with her more. Our BIG Christmas gift this year was the fact that our BIG girl is now 110% potty trained (day and night). Around November Caroline spotted a Beauty and the Beast tea cart in the Disney store and asked if Santa would bring it to her on Christmas. Why I chose the response I did, I don't know...but, I said, "if you are potty trained by Christmas, I guarantee you that Santa will bring you that cart." Well, that was all it took for our strong willed Miss Priss to go home and ask to put on her BIG girl panties (prior to this she was going potty but she was not willing to let pull-ups go - they were just more convenient she once told me). We are LOVING our new pull-up free life with Caroline. To better explain just how trained she is let me give you three good examples: 1) awoke us last night at 2:30 am by knocking on our door and asking to go potty, 2) likes to go "all by herself" & 3) 2 nights ago she even got out of the tub to go "tinkle!" To say we are estatic at her sudden breakthrough is an understatement!! And yes, everyone of you did say, "Don't push it, she'll do it on her on time and when she does that will be it."

As far as Ben and I go, we were blessed to celebrate our 7th anniversary in December and we truly are more in love today than we were the day we said our vows (mushy, mushy I know but it's true). We are still grateful to have our same jobs -- I will celebrate my 10th year at my Company this year, and Ben continues to enjoy his work with the State. Ben completed his 3rd TSO Orchestra event December 20th (where he truly "rocked" our church with some awesome guitar licks) and he continues to participate in our church's orchestra and teach guitar lessons to 7 students. We absolutely LOVE our Life Group at North Metro and are looking forward to 2010 as we continue to grow closer friendships.

Overall, we are just grateful that God has afforded us so many blessings in 2009. While many looked forward to saying farewell to 2009, we will definitely miss the moments we have enjoyed over this last year. We are eager to learn what God has in store for our family in 2010!!