October 14, 2010 - Showing Her the Hood

It's funny how places look so different through eyes that have lived there, laughed there, cried there, learned there and loved there. I look upon a city called Helen, Georgia, through eyes that hated the place growing up. I lived nearby and worked in the town from age 16 through college. It is a town that relies almost entirely on tourist dollars for survival and the tourists do come. I still don't entirely know why, but again, that's looking at it through my jaded eyes, eyes that saw a lot of pain-in-the-butt people on vacation over the years.

So during our time in Georgia, my husband mentioned he wanted to walk through town. And with Helen being a town that strains to re-create Germany here in the good ole U-S-of-A, it's Oktoberfest there. I must admit I balked at first, but we ended up in town. And I guess it's good to take Georgia through one of the places that helped shape me and make me who I am today.

So off we went.

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And to prove it touristy tackiness, in the middle of the fudge shops and blown glass shops and "stuff from Germany" shops and "can you believe we put that on a T-shirt" shops, there's a photo booth smack dab in the middle of downtown.

My husband, for some still unknown reason, gravitates toward photo booths - this one no exception.

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It took horrible pictures of the three of us as we tried to cram three people into a seat big enough for one.

But I must admit, there are some beautiful parts of this town that I guess get erased from my younger day memories. They must have been pushed out by the memories of rip-roaring drunk old men yelling at me as I tried to kick them off the go-karts or women in the 40's/50's walking around the tourist trap shops in clothes meant for 20-year-olds. But yes, there is beauty here, and as I'm sure we'll come back here through the years, it's that beauty I'll point out to my daughter.

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October 13, 2010 - Need I Say More?

Happy Birthday to my little girl with the lovely smile, the dark chocolate eyes that gleam, the infectious laugh, the still chubby legs, the never ending curiosity, the love of books, the independent streak beyond her age, the dis-interest in walking, the sparkling personality, the occasional temper tantrums and her mommy and daddy's hearts beating to her every breath.

Every mother says it, but it's because it's so true - I can't believe one year went by so quickly. Slow down little one, your mommy can't keep up and I don't want to miss a moment. You are one... wow, one! It was one year ago today you came a little early and a lot unexpectedly. But you brought with you a joy this family so desperately needed and you saved me. You blessed me. You made me the woman I didn't know was inside me. And you gave me my favorite title so far in life: mom. I don't think any will ever beat that one.

At one you are finally getting some thicker hair, that Mohawk you were sporting is gone.

At one you have several words. No longer do you say mama and dada only, but mommy and daddy, drawling out the "ee" sound at the end. You say "tee" for tree and "dee" for dog. You say "hey" when we're not paying enough attention to you. And you babble on and on with so many other words that you know well, we grown ups are just a little slow to catch on.

You love to shake your head "no." You know what the word "no" means, but you usually ignore it's meaning when we direct the word at you.

You point your finger at everything. You love to suck, not your thumb, but your index finger, usually your right index finger.

You eat solid foods, turkey and turkey sausage are some of your favorites. You'll also eat cheese, yogurt, buttered bread, cake, icing, ice cream, pancakes (mostly blueberry) and chicken. You also still take formula in a bottle, but that's about to end.

You crawl all over the place, crawl up onto things, pull up and walk along while holding something and you giggle when you walk while holding our hands. But you seem to have no desire to walk on your own. I know it will come one day.

You have the best laugh of anyone I've ever known. Seriously, you do.

Your chubby baby legs still catch many people's eye. They comment on them and grab your legs and say how adorable those legs of yours are. It's true, they're addictingly adorable.

You still wake up one to three times a night on average, but usually go back to sleep within minutes. This of course happens after mommy or daddy pick you up and walk you in circles. That seems to be a requirement in your book and we oblige.

On that note, you seem to know well you have both your parents wrapped around your little fingers... wrapped very, very tightly.

You love our dogs, Bacchus and Bailey. You laugh when they come near. They are patient with you, even as you pull their hair, ears, paws and Bailey's tail.

You love books and will sit for quite a while by yourself just turning the pages as if you were reading the stories already.

You are smart and beautiful and fun and I love you to the moon and back.

Happy Birthday darling!

And what's a birthday without all the things you like.

Like waking up to playtime with daddy and mommy...

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Or heading out for some ice cream, birthday cake flavor of course!

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And the sweetness didn't stop when I was making your cake.
(thanks for the picture Georgia's Aunt Jenna!)

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Then there was your very first birthday present!!! Thanks to great-grandparents Marjie Mearns and G.P. Your sweet cousin Avery helped show you how to play with it.

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Then it was cake time...

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And let's end the day with one more present,why not? Papa got you a UGA (Georgia) rocking chair that you fell in love with immediately!!!

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Happy, happy birthday to you!


October 12, 2010 - Tuckered Out

Family is lovely but can be exhausting.

Just ask Georgia.

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October 11, 2010 - Hi Mom.

Hello Mom.

I'm home. Georgia and I came by to visit you today. It was so comforting to be near you. Can you believe my daughter, your granddaughter, turns one in two days? I know, it's crazy! The year has been a blur, but a blur of magic and love and happiness and beauty. Georgia is so beautiful and smart and funny. I know you're proud of her. I hope you see her.

Today she played in the shadow of your name. She felt the grass and pulled herself up on the black stone that holds the ocean. You know, Georgia hasn't even seen the ocean yet. I hope I can show it to her soon and watch her play in its warmth. Those waters have always been such a gigantic part of our lives. I'm glad the ocean is now never far from you, at least in picture. It's there on that shiny black stone that rests forever above you.

For the first time in a year, my heart was quiet while I was near you. It was a strange feeling, a feeling that I'd almost forgotten and yet the stranger returned. But sitting there in the Georgia sun, on the grass covering that red dirt, there was quiet. I wonder if Georgia felt it too? I wonder when I'll feel it again?

She touched the ridges of your name. I think she liked the rough feeling of your carved name in contrast to the silky smoothness of the surrounding stone. I like to believe she was closer to her Oma at that moment. I try not to think how different her life would be if you could hold her and teach her and love her. Actually, sometimes I do try but I never get far. It breaks my heart every time. I can't imagine how excited you would have been to have us in town this entire week for her first birthday. How you would have had everything just right for her, you would have had things planned out, you wouldn't have missed a moment.

I don't want to imagine what it would have been like. But yet I still do.

Did you see us when we came by to visit today? Did you see how big my baby girl has grown? Did you watch her as she tried to stand, her chunky almost-toddler legs holding her tall? Were you there? Maybe she kept peeking over your headstone because she saw you in the distance. I'm sure those angel wings are hard to miss. Maybe the reason she started talking up a storm the moment we sat down was because she was talking to her Oma. I'm sure you both had a lot to catch up on. I'd like to think you were there and close to us. Lord knows I could use your presence.

You are still so beautiful in my mind. I can't believe it has been a year since you left. I love you to this day as much as I always have and always will. A headstone does not serve well as an Oma, I'll be honest. But don't worry, it won't be all Georgia knows of you. I will tell her your story as she grows, how you lived and how you loved. My memories of you will become her memories of you, and she will love you.

Goodbye mom. I'm here for the week so I'll be back again. We'll talk soon.

And on this somber anniversary, as a family, we went for a walk through town. My daughter and husband, my sisters, my nieces and my father.

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My niece Emily found some dying balloons on the sidewalk and decided to give them a second life, pulling them along for the stroll.

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We looked in store windows, enjoyed the fresh mountain air and stopped for ice cream with names like "birthday cake."

We were together, family... minus one. But it wasn't lost on me that my niece stooped down to pluck a lifeless butterfly from the ground. My mother wore a butterfly necklace every day of her life, and if you've read this blog before, you've probably noticed my slight obsession with butterflies since her death.

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Mom told me before she left she saw butterflies everywhere, all around her.


October 10, 2010 - Back on That Big Plane, Flying High

Ready or not, we got on the plane at the lovely hour of six a.m. this morning. My husband asks me every time why I find such early flights. We had to get up at 3:30 a.m. for this one. ::yawn:: I get them early because I'd rather get to my destination by noon than six or seven p.m. But when that alarm is going off long, long before the sun has thought to rise, I must admit I'm questioning my logic as well. Thankfully, my memory sucks and by the time I'm booking the next flight, I've forgotten how I swore I never wanted to see 3:30 a.m. again.

So we boarded the plane in Omaha, headed for a layover in Detroit and then onto Atlanta!

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At the Atlanta airport, we found my sister, Jodi, who just flew in from Montana. It's the first time Georgia had seen her Aunt Jodi since my little lovely was just five days old.

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They became quick friends.

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Then my other sister, Jenna, showed up with her two girls in her mom-fabulous minivan to pick us all up. Jodi was like the Pied Piper with those three girls while we loaded up the van with suitcases and a car seat. They would have followed her anywhere. Where she led them was a patch of concrete where they could watch the planes climb into the sky.

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It's so nice to be home. I've lived in Nebraska for almost five years now and it's where my husband, daughter and I all live together, yet I still feel like I'm home when the plane touches down on the orange clay and we head to the pine-covered mountains in the distance.

I take a deep breath in and EXHALE. I feel calmer... and well, maybe we all do.

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October 9, 2010 - Haven't Had This One in There Before...

We leave tomorrow for the big birthday week in Georgia for my sweet little Georgia. Am I ready? No. Am I packed? Only about half way. Is everything ready for the party? Not a chance. Will I get any help to get to the finish line? Hee, hee... I made a funny. (that would be a no) AAAAHHHHHH!!!!!

But after I got home from work tonight (at 11 p.m.), I started to finish the out-of-town preparations. And I looked down at the suitcase and smiled and thought "I've never had that in my suitcase before."

Laying there among the jeans and shirts and dresses was a pair of glittery butterfly wings.

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They're for my daughter - she's having a butterfly party. I wonder how long they'll actually stay on her. I give it 30 seconds. But it's a reminder of how much my life and my husband's life have changed in the last year. We (I) now pack butterfly wings.

That 3 a.m. wake-up call will come very early, even earlier with the one hour of sleep I'll be lucky to get. ::yawn::


October 8, 2010 - Last of the Season

One of my favorite parts of summer:

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And now they're no more. This was our last harvest of tomatoes from our garden.

::tear, sniffle::


October 7, 2010 - It Only Took Me... A Lot... of Hours

I wanted a sign to hang outside the party, welcoming people inside. I saw one on etsy.com but did not want to pay $30 for it. So I decided to make one.

You might remember the beginnings of this sign from this earlier post.

Now many hours and a lot of glue and glitter later, the finished product:

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October 6, 2010 - Say Yes to the Dress!!

What is a birthday without a great birthday dress? Georgia's birthday is fast approaching, and it took me weeks to pick out the perfect dress for her.

Now it's here!

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It's not the colors of her party. If I haven't mentioned already, I didn't want a "themy" party. But it's bright and it's fun and I can't wait to see her in it.

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October 5, 2010 - Just a Little Fun Today...

... with my camera and my little girl (oh, and her runny nose. Will the colds from daycare ever stop coming home?). Enjoy! (well, not the runny nose because that's just gross)

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The blue is my shirt, she decided to crawl up and attack.

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October 4, 2010 - There a Piece (or Two) Missing

After our trip yesterday to the apple orchard, I keep finding incomplete apples around the house. Someone like to nibble and run!

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October 2, 2010 - Drumset... No Need!

Instead, Georgia decided to play my kitchen floor today... and my cabinets and my plastic containers.

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After all, isn't that what kitchen spoons and floors are made for?


October 3, 2010 - Fall Means... Apples!!

Oh fall, sweet fall. How I have missed you. And why have you hidden away longer than normal this year, letting summer linger like that "looked better on the rack" skirt in my closet or that container of "long past its date" sour cream in my fridge.

Oh but you have kissed the leaves this weekend, embracing them with that coolness and crispness I so love you for and wait anxiously for every year. My heart is lifted and my spirits are as high as those red and orange leaves still clinging to the highest branches. Please stay and play for a while, dear fall.

With the arrival of a few cool days, I finally decided it was time for my family to indulge in one of my fall favorites - the apple orchard.

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It was Georgia's first trip to the land of hay rack rides, luscious cider, thousands of red globes dangling from trees, freshly baked apple donuts and memorable walks down orchard lanes. Ah, fall.

So we climbed aboard a converted trailer lined with hay bales, and a tractor led the way to rows upon rows of red globes.

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And this was Georgia's reaction when we started moving...

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Everyone on board was giggling right along with her. She enchants.

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And it was a wonderful, sweet day.




And this little girl who has never really liked apples, bit into them in their purest form and fell under their spell.

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And as always, I fell under hers.

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October 1, 2010 - How the Heck Do I Get Out?

This post is proof of how behind I am on this blog. This is my October 1st post and it is October 20th. Yikes!!! Our family has just done too many big things lately where I take tons of pictures. It has me WWWAAAYYYY behind on my editing. Now that trips and birthdays are over, I am determined to catch up. Except for the fact that were going to the pumpkin patch this weekend where I will no doubt take 100+ pictures. OK, new goal... get caught up before Sunday and its pumpkins. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

That said, on October 1st, Georgia was very proud of herself for finally figuring out she can crawl through the chairs and under the dining room table.

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That pride lasted all of two minutes though, when she then figured out she had no idea how to get back out from under said table.

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Oh, a little more learning left to do.


September 30, 2010 - She Loves Turkey, Right?

So why doesn't Georgia want to be a turkey head? My husband picked up this lovely turkey hat from Target the other day, and I thought a picture of Georgia wearing it would make a very cute Thanksgiving card for our family members. (those family members reading this, keep reading before you get your hopes up) Did I get the desired picture...

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Yeah, no. I was lucky to get her in the same shot with it. But she was more than happy to give me shots like this...

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And this...

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Um, yeah, I don't know.

Then Bailey decided the turkey hat was getting too much attention, so he snuck in the shot just as I was snapping it.

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And he would... just... not... leave.

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Then Bailey just pushed Georgia right out of the shot. Camera hog... or dog. (forgive me, it's late)

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