Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Preparations: Version 2.0

So I've been a bad blogger again and haven't updated in a while! I would like to say it's been because I have been so busy, but unfortunately I have to cite some of my many character flaws: impatience and laziness, mainly. I HATE dealing with our computer...so I put it off as much as possible. But since I needed to sit down and do some Christmas shopping anyway I decided to make it a point to get an update out! Here's what's going on in our world:

Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving went really well! Andy did a great job on the stuffing and the turkey, and my side dishes turned out surprisingly good too! Our guests seemed to really enjoy the meal--we even had one turkey-induced nap on the couch afterward. My only regret is that I was so busy trying to cook that I didn't take a single picture. So I don't have cookbook quality photos of my beautiful meal, or even a family picture of the three of us. Oh well, maybe next year I'll remember!

First Snow:

It snowed in Texas last week! It wasn't very much, and it was gone after a few hours, but it was such a shock! I snapped a couple pictures with my phone. Unfortunately, I am not a very prepared parent and hadn't even bought Maddie a coat or gloves for the year, so we couldn't go play. Hopefully we will get some more snow soon. It's hilarious when it snows down here, everyone acts like the world is going to end. :)


Maddie:

I haven't given a really detailed Maddie update in a while. She is having fun and learning new things everyday. We have started her in Gymboree, which she absolutely loves. I have also met some nice moms there, and we try to get together regularly outside of class. Her favorite things at Gymboree are Gymbo the clown puppet (he scares the you-know-what out of me, though), parachute time, and dancing to the music. We also always have Chik-fil-a for breakfast before class, and she loves hash browns more than anything on this earth right now! Well, except for her favorite game, which is called "Snag the dish towel put it over my head and run around until I hurt myself and fall down screaming." Fun times.


Maddie loves to "talk." She will grab anything and pretend it is a phone. She'll carry it around the house, hold it up to her ear and say "Hi!" over and over.


Most of the time she just makes alot of noise that I am supposed to understand, but she does say a lot of real words, too. The most common are Mom, Dad, Daisy, Hi, Dog, Up, Cup, Hat, Shoes, Pretty and Happy. It is the cutest thing ever when she says "Happy!" She even uses it in the right context.

video


She is definitely a very smart girl...she knows several of her books and toys by name, and will go get things and put them back if you ask her too. She is also getting very close (I think) to potty training. She always either goes into the laundry room or the bathroom and shuts the door to go potty. Then she will very politely use her sign language for "change me." She is really in to babies right now, and will give kisses and hugs to all her babies if you ask her. Sometimes Mom and Dad get kisses and hugs too, but she is stingy with those! She loves to use Daisy as a chair or pillow when she is watching TV. Poor Daisy, she is a really good sport about it!


Maddie has lots of little friends, but her best friend is Jordana. We get together with JoJo and her Mom about 2-3 times a week to play. They usually play together very well, and are very sweet and loving to each other. Unless, of course, one of them has something the other one wants. The the smacking, pushing, and hair pulling starts. How is it that baby girls are born knowing how to pull hair?!?! This is what they got into this morning when we weren't looking:

She is turning into a big girl before my eyes! I can't believe she will be 16 months old in just a few days!




Andy:

Andy has had another great year at the office and we just celebrated with his Annual Christmas Party. It was different to get all dressed up when I spend most of the time in sweats! Again, no pictures. Andy also has a new hobby: growing a disgusting beard. I have expressed my dislike repeatedly, and have been told that he doesn't care. I'm thinking about growing my armpit hair out in protest.

Travel Plans:

We are gearing up for the big drive up to TN in a couple of weeks. Me, Andy, Maddie, the dog, luggage and a lot of presents are all going to be stuffed in the Pathfinder for a 14 hour drive. We are spending one night in TN, then getting up and driving to Cincinnatti! It is really stressing me out, but we are looking forward to seeing alot of the Ohio family. Then we are headed back for a week in Knoxville. Andy is driving back and leaving me and Maddie for a few more days, then she and I are flying back alone. I'm getting more and more stressed about this trip as it gets closer...so I need a lot of prayers right now!

Alright, I think that is it for our updates! Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season...now off to Christmas shop!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Holiday Preparations

Thanksgiving is an interesting holiday around the Greiner home. As the vagabond children who moved away, we can't just hop in the car and pop in at this house for lunch, this house for dinner, this house for coffee and dessert, etc. The first year we lived in Texas, we flew home for Thanksgiving and drove up for Christmas. However, because of Andy's busy work schedule, the baby, etc., that's just not feasible anymore. Having just made the drive in October, we are definitley NOT coming up for Thanksgiving. We've been very blessed every year to have been "adopted" by the families of friends and provided a great meal. This year, we recieved even more invitations than we usually do (proof again of the wonderful friends we've made). As much as we love spending time with our friends, it's always a little bittersweet to be involved in someone else's holiday tradition. We always knew exactly what we were missing at home.

I love traditions. I love the idea of "this is how WE always do it!" whatever it may be. It's so precious in a family to just know things are going to be a certain way. Being here and being away from those traditions is difficult, especially now that we have a child. BUT...this year we finally decided to stop greiving over the Thanksgiving traditions we were missing out on, and eavesdropping in on those of other families, and start creating our own. We have our own little family now...it reminds me of a bible verse my Dad quotes often in church: "Where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be in their midst." Our family may be small, but we are still a loving--and fun-loving--family! So the Texas Three are giving Thanksgiving a makeover, Greiner-style!

Andy has often mentioned when he was very young and his family lived in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, that they would host an "Orphan's Thanksgiving". Anyone from his Dad's work that had relocated away from home would be invited for dinner. Andy mentioned that maybe one of our new traditions could be hosting an Orphan's Thanksgiving of our own. So, that's the plan. I'm not going to lie, I'm freaking out. I NEVER cook at Thanksgiving! Sure, I stir this, or arrange that, and I never mind baking...but a TURKEY?!?!? With stuffing? Holy smoke...what have I gotten myself into? I hope my guests won't mind if I have to call Domino's.

I plan on taking lots of pictures of the preparations and finished products. AND this gives us a chance to finally bust out that electric knife we got for a wedding gift almost 6 years ago!

And today is Wednesday...that means just about a week until T-Day! Yikes!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Halloween

Halloween really snuck up on us this year! With all the traveling Andy and I had both been doing, plus being sick, plus the death in the family, I don't think we really ever got into the Halloween spirit, if there is such a thing! So with just a few days to spare I put together Maddie's "Rock Star" costume. I wanted to have something that was made up of actual clothes...because seriously people, this girl hates getting dressed in general, so a heavy costume with something to put over her head was out. It didn't turn out exactly as I pictured. I think I had something more Disney-rock-esque in mind...and it ended up looking pretty punk rock! But it was a big hit and she was comfortable, so that's all that mattered!


The usual tradition at Halloween has been for several houses on our block, along with some friends from other neighborhoods, to gather at our house to give out candy. It was usually a big hit with the kids, since with one stop they got about 5 times the candy! This year was a little more low-key. Our good friends the Hoelzers brought Maddie's buddy Jordana (aka JoJo) and the Mysers came with Abigail. A couple other friends stopped by after trick-or-treating to play cards with Andy (sounds like I got tricked into that treat for him).

Our street gets absolutely mobbed at Halloween. We gave out about 400-500 pieces of candy! And I was really stingy with mine...only one piece unless you had a really great costume. Some of the best ones we saw were Oompa Loompas, a garden gnome, the Narnia kids, and one group of teenagers dressed as the PacMan game (one huge wooden contraption to be PacMan, and then colored tents for the ghosts! It was awesome!). We even had one sweet little girl come up to us and say "Trick or Treat...and GO VOLS!" How great is that?

So with the execption of Maddie's having to go to bed at 7--due to yet another day with no afternoon nap--and me getting devoured by mosquitoes (yes, on Halloween, gotta love Texas) it was a great night! Now the real fun can begin...getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas, my two favorite holidays!

Family Pic




Maddie and JoJo trick-or-treating!



Scott and Sarah with Bumblebee Abigail



Madeline, JoJo, and John Hoelzer



Even Rock Stars have to take a bath!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goodbye John...

Last week my world was shaken when I learned of the tragic death of Andy's cousin John. I have been going back and forth about whether or not I was going to write a post discussing it, but in the end I decided it would help me to put some feelings out there in the Universe, like it helped me when my friend Kelly passed away in June. Just like Kelly, I didn't get to say goodbye face to face. But I think John knew I loved him, all the same.

John was what, in the language of teachers, you would refer to as a "good kid." I know his mother, a teacher as well, would agree. So would his father, his older brother, and the scores of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and in-laws that got to love him while he was here. I was one of the last group, the "in-laws." I married into John's clan-like family, and was quickly swept away by the deep love that they all share. I was also blown away by the amazing warmth and hospitality of Andy's Aunt Laurie and Uncle Tom, and the sweetness and fun-loving spirit of their boys, Adam and John.

The first time I met John, it was on my first trip to see the "Cincinnati Family" and Andy and I had been together less than a year. I have a lot of memories from that trip, including one of mine and Andy's first real fights (so silly now!) and being quizzed on everyone's name (and not doing so hot). But "little John Carney"--as I called him for the next 7 years--was a highlight of that trip. He was just a kid then, but a lovable, funny, precocious kid who loved to make me laugh. He was never shy around me, and I felt a little bond with him from the beginning. I remember bribing him with a dollar--a whole dollar!--to eat an olive at LaRosa's Pizza. He did, but regretted it. I have wondered 1000 times since then, "Did he ever decide to try olives again?" I know it's crazy, but I was really concerned I had scared him away from them forever! That trip to Cincinnati was special for a lot of reasons, but my memories of John then, as that cute and funny kid, will last forever.

As time went by, I saw John at weddings, and for Christmas when we could make it. I remember teaching him "The Lotion Dance" at Liz's wedding (maybe not appropriate, but oh well) and cracking jokes downstairs in his basement with all the cousins. Then we moved, and the time started to slip by. The last time I saw John was two years ago at Christmas. I was struck by how much he had changed. "Little John Carney" was a tall, handsome, confident young man. His bright eyes were the same, even though he wore snazzy wire-rimmed glasses then, and his blonde hair was darkening as he got older. I remember marveling at his self-assuredness. He seemed so comfortable in his own skin, even though he was at an age when most boys are either awkward and reserved, or loud and obnoxious. He still loved to laugh, and to make others smile. If I had known it would be the last time I saw him face to face, I would have hugged him so much longer, and memorized his sweet smile. Now I have to wait until the next life to see it again...but I know I WILL see it again!

John's death was so devastating to me. It was harder than others I've faced recently, even my own family members. But it was also completely unexpected and shocking, whearas others weren't. Maybe that's why I took it so hard. I told Andy I didn't feel it was right for me to be so sad...others in John's life had to be hurting much much worse. But even though John wasn't "my" family, and I was only an in-law, I loved him so much. He stands out in my mind like Christmas lights on a tree or candles at a wedding...a bright, shining symbol of some of the happiest times of my life. And that's how I will always remember him, as someone fragile and beautiful that is gone much too soon.

I love you, Little John Carney. The next time I see you, you better have saved me a dance!

*****************

John T. Carney
(May 20, 1989 - October 19, 2009)

Carney, John T., beloved son of Thomas and Laurie Carney (nee Beck), dear brother of Adam Carney, loving grandson of Betty Beck, nephew to many aunts and uncles, and many, many cousins. He is also survived by his many SAE fraternity brothers. Graduate of Madeira High School, 2008. October 19, 2009. Friends may call on Friday, October 23rd from 9AM until the time of Mass of Christian Burial at 10AM at St. Gertrude Catholic Church, 7630 Shawnee Run Rd. (45243). The family asks that memorials be made to the Madeira Resident Homes for the Mentally Retarded, 6667 Euclid Ave. (45243). Thomas-Justin Memorial has been entrusted with the arrangements. You may express your condolences at www.thomasjustinmemorial.com

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Back to Life...Back to Reality...

Attention, I have re-entered the blogosphere! Sorry it has been so long since my last post, but up until a couple of weeks ago, nothing really interesting had happened! And then, since what happened was Andy and I getting deathly ill, I didn't really feel up to posting! According to the friendly neighborhood "Doc-in-a-box" Andy had H1N1, and I had an upper respiratory infection. I was a little confused as to how Andy and I could be sick at the same time, with the same symptoms, and he had swine flu and I didn't. Regardless, the most important thing was Maddie never got sick, and Andy and I are both better now (although I am JUST NOW better, over 2 weeks later!).

Also since my last post, we made a quick trip to Tennessee. It was extremely complicated (due to me). I didn't want to fly, because I didn't want to pay American Airlines a thousand dollars in airfare and checked bag fees, and because they wouldn't let me take my carseat on the plane. They said the plane was too small, and I could either hold Maddie for 2 and half hours, or buy her her own seat. When I asked how I was supposed to get a 1 year old to sit still with only a lap belt to restrain her, the lovely help desk employee told me, and I am not making this up: "Umm, I don't know. Like, can you like, just hold her down?" Click. Airline Fail. I hate American Airlines, and they hate me.

So we drove. I told Andy I was perfectly capable of driving me and Maddie myself. Luckily, he knows better and flat out refused. So he drove me, flew back, then few back the next weekend so he could pick me up. Husband of the Year? Absolutely!

The drive down was HORRIBLE. I convinced Andy it would be a great idea for us to make the 14 hour drive OVERNIGHT. The baby could sleep, we could take turns sleeping vs. driving, etc. Yeah, I was completely wrong. Thanks to an unfortunate encounter with a Mucinex-D, I didn't sleep one minute the night before we left. So during the drive I was going on two nights without sleep and couldn't drive at all without my eyes crossing. I also couldn't rest because of Maddie waking up and screaming for 4 hours. Then Andy was so tired he needed me to stay awake to keep him awake. Then we gave up and pulled over at a rest stop to sleep for an hour or so. We finally made it home alive, thank God. Needless to say, we drove during the day on the way home, and it was 1000 times better. Everyone was happy and rested, and the addition of a DVD player made Maddie handle the drive like a champ.

I didn't take alot of pictures, but in summation we had a great time! Andy got to go to the Georgia game on the first weekend, and we had so much fun at the monthly Greiner Family Day. Maddie had a ball with all her aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course her Grandpa and Mimi! We also got to spend some time with my family and my fave lil' buddy, Rylan. Just for the record, Gigi was there, she was just hiding from the camera!

Maddie and PeePaw


Having a snack with Granny


Cutie Pie Rylan


Cousins!


With Uncle Al


He really does love me...can't you tell by his face? ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...

I decided to copy my BFF Audra (check out her blog here) by posting how my fall decorating is going. Now, I'm never going to be as crafty as she is, but I do my best. In fact, today I dedicated a couple hours to pure, undiluted CRAFT TIME! with my friend Madeline H. She brought over her little one, and while the girls played, the mommies crafted and enjoyed some "coffee talk." Loved it! We decided to make some Rag Wreaths to celebrate Halloween. If you are interested in how to make these super-cute wreaths, check out this excellent how-to guide--written by the aforementioned Queen of Crafts herself, Mrs. Audra Lynn. I made only a few modifications to make it more "Halloween-y."

Here's the finished product:


And a close up of the cute fabrics I found at--drumroll, please--Hobby Lobby, the happiest place on Earth!

In another tribute to dear Dra, I'm including a picture of my Fall Mantle Makeover. I didn't think to take a before picture...but here is the after!

Happy Fall, everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adventures in Aggie-Land

We spent last weekend enjoying the hospitality of our good friends the Spences. Brian, Dawn, and Nathan live about 3 hours away from here, right next to Texas A&M University. Since they are A&M alums ("Aggies" if you will), along with neighbor-pal Scott, all the guys decided to take in the football game on Saturday while the girls hung out at the house. Andy had a great time at the game--A&M is rich in tradition, and Brian and Scott really enjoyed showing Andy their Alma Mater. And of course I had a fabulous time hanging with the girls. Maddie and her "boyfriend" Nathan definitely had their ups and downs, however. While they did share their first kiss while watching Baby Einstein, there were a lot of issues sharing toys. Soon enough they'll learn what their parents have...love is all about compromise!

Playing with "George" and "Duck"--the most fought after toys of the weekend!




The lone Vol fans!





She'd rather read than watch the game...




Maddie is looking irritated, like I interrupted a private moment or something!



She would not get out of the dog's bed...poor Allie!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

First Haircut (for Maddie and Mommy!)

When your baby is born bald as a cueball, and stays looking like Bruce Willis for a looooong time, you kinda forget about haircuts. I never thought I'd see the day when needing to give her hair even the teeniest little trim would be necessary. However, over the last 13 months or so, slowly but surely...her hair has been growing. Maddie has what I deemned the "Reverse Mullet." Long on top, short on the sides. Party in the front, business in the back. Not very comfortable for her, I'm sure. We tried rocking the "blowhole" ponytail (you know, the one that sticks straight up), we tried little pigtails, but today I had to admit it...she needed her haircut. She looked like a sheepdog. I was scared to death of making her look goofy, or worse, like a boy. I contemplated taking her to one of those little kid hairsalons...but I finally found enough courage to tackle it myself!

Here's the before....


during.... (at this point I was really freaking out, not to mention the fact that I was having to CHASE HER around the room holding scissors!)


and after! I was convinced I had made a huge mistake. All I could think of was being approached by a million well-meaning old ladies saying "Oh, how cute! How old is HE?"

So, to make myself feel better, I grabbed the closest hairbow and voila! Instant baby girl!


The evil glares are because I was getting in the way of her Baby Einstein video. So no damage done, no eyes poked out, and she can actually see now! About an inch and a half of baby bangs are taped in the baby book, and we can move on to the next milestone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

One Year Portraits are Here!

Many of you have already seen these, or will see them when I email them out here in a few, and upload them onto Facebook, blah blah blah. But without further adieu, here are Maddie's amazing One Year Portraits from Erica Joyce Photography. Jake even blogged about how great the shoot went (see the link on the right). They are just fabulous and I think that the family photos turned out awesome, even though Andy and I joked about how we look like the Pasty Family from Whitetown, Canada. Not much chance to get a tan when you are chasing Maddie around!

Anyway, hope you enjoy. Family, I am emailing these out right now. Thanks EJP, you rock!

Click Here to See Maddie's Slideshow!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Delayed Birthday Post!

As you know, Maddie celebrated her first birthday on August 11! We were all so excited for this big milestone. The day was a little bittersweet, I have to admit. As much as I am proud and excited of how much she has grown and learned in the last year, I can't help but be sad that she isn't a "baby" anymore! She is eating grown up food, walking (sometimes), talking (sort of) and just turning into a big girl before my eyes!

I was also a little sad that we had to celebrate her big day so far away from family. We were really conflicted about whether to have a big party or not. We could have very easily filled up the house with all our friends and their kids...but in the end we decided that having to host a party would distract us from really enjoying Maddie's day, and making sure she enjoyed it. I think if we had been at home, it would have been a different story. But we still had a great time with our little party of Mommy, Daddy, Gigi, and Maddie!

Maddie got some really cool presents from family and friends including pretty clothes and shoes, new toys, books, and two very special baby dolls. Thank you to everyone who sent gifts, cards, and called to wish Maddie a happy birthday! We all appreciate it so much.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the day!

Maddie and Daddy sharing a birthday smooch...




Maddie and Gigi...



A new red wagon from Mommy and Daddy....




Her very own chair, from Gigi...



Cruisin'...


All smiles!


Keep an eye out for my next post (I'm sure the excitment is killing you)...I'm including a link to Maddie's awesome One Year Portraits!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birthday Week So Far...

If you are looking for a birthday update, you will get one--soon! We are all super swamped this week since my Mom is visiting, and we have had a few unexpected events that took up some time as well. Just a few tidbits to tide you over until I can post more....

1) Monday we had our One Year Session and Family Portrait with Erica Joyce Photography. We also did a fun "cake smash session" for Maddie. I think the pictures will turn out great, and as soon as they are ready I will post a link!

2) Tuesday was Maddie's 1st birthday...oh, I could write a book all about it! And I will write a much longer blog post, including pictures, completed devoted to her big day. Just not right now!

3) In case you didn't hear, Maddie can walk! It happened last week, but I couldn't ever catch it on video until her birthday. Here's the video if you haven't seen it!


video

4) I got such an unexpected surprise on Saturday. Through the magic of Facebook, I discovered that a good friend from high school, who I also lived with in college, was driving from Knoxville to San Francisco on her way to begin Seminary. I hadn't seen Carmel in about 5-6 years and I was so thrilled when I saw she was stopping to spend some time in Fort Worth! So of course I let her know she couldn't leave Texas without seeing me and my family. Carmel is a great person, beautiful inside and out, and has devoted her life to serving Christ in whatever way she could. She even spent a year in Africa doing missions--she said the heat here in Texas reminded her of Botswana. Nice.

We had a fun lunch in Sundance Square, and I got to introduce her to Andy and Maddie. We chatted about friends from high school and college, and did a little reminisicing. She seems to have forgiven me for the horrible roommate I was. She is definitely in my prayers as she begins her Seminary training.

So that's all for right now, but I will get a post up as soon as I can about Maddie's big day! Love and miss you all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Babies, Babies Everywhere...

This past weekend we had another visit from Audra with Aidan and Neely in tow. Hank-dog stayed back in Louisiana, and the cats were very appreciative. As usual, we had a lot of fun and got into some crazy adventures...well, as crazy as two mommies with 3 kids age 3 and under can get! (Audra, I'll get all this pics to you ASAP).

The girls at the pool...


Nee-Nee being flippin' adorable...



Ditto...

Aidan burning off some energy...

We took the kids to Cabela's too. Why, you ask? Because Cabela's is awesome. The one here has a huge walk-through aquarium of freshwater fish and turtles, plus several museum-like displays of stuffed animals (the shot and stuffed dead kind, not the cute and plush toy kind). Probably not the most cheerful thing for a kid if they know the difference between an animal that used to roam free in the wild and a "furry statue"--but luckily none of ours did.

Maddie: "Fish are cool!" Neely: "Meh."


Excited Aidan...


Cabela's has great clothes too. I though about buying these shoes...

...to go with this swimsuit.

Andy, aka "Uncle Pants" also had a good time with the kids, although he conspicuously stayed "busy" most of the time. Hmmm.

I was sad to see everyone leave and hopefully they can make a trip back soon. Or maybe I'll make the trek to Shreveport again! The kids have more and more fun together as they get older. Luckily I don't have to worry about not having houseguests for too long--GiGi gets here on Friday!!!