Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Snow Angels

I wrote a chapter yesterday. Unfortunately, I had no paper and no pen. No computer to tap tap tap the words in my heart and soul. But it was quickly evident that the thoughts that swirled around in my mind would soon become a chapter in my book. My lovetank overflowed and I felt that I might have just had the best hour of my life.

It was simple. No hoopla. No plan. Just simple.

We woke up.

We dressed.

We walked.

We talked.

We ate.

Sounds pretty normal? It sure does.

Fortunately for you (and me), it was anything but ordinary which made the words sound more EXTRAordinary as they swirled.

The morning started something like this...

"Mommy, it snowed."

And it ended something like this...

"Mommy, this was the best day EVER!"

And now you understand...full love tank?

Why, of course!

I laid on the couch watching the snow fall and deciding what to do. I grew up in the stuff so I knew what it felt like to be soaking wet and freezing after an hour of snowplay. Didn't sound like much fun to me.

And there he sat...just staring at me...one strawberry blonde curl looped just behind his ear and those big blue eyes pleading for me to take action. We won't mention the hands on his hips or the "not so respectful" tone of voice he was using that said, "But mommy, YOU PROMISED!"

I peeled myself off the couch and headed into the laundry room to start robing for a romp in the brutal, oh so cold, SNOW. Once we were dressed, I headed out the door, stopping briefly to grab my camera and look in one last bag to see if I could find my other glove...NO LUCK!

As soon as we walked out the door, there they came, like two teenage boys with huge grins on their faces... Yep, the snowball war began. Fortunately, since I was the camera person, they left me alone.

After the snow battle finished, we decided to take a walk into town and grab some breakfast...

It was less than 1/2 mile walk, but inside I was praying that this spontaneous idea didn't turn into "Mommy, I can't walk anymore" (Well...it kinda did to which my hero husband picked up Beanut and walked her the rest of the way to the restaurant.)

The greatest part? Well, if you were to take a walk down Main Street in my parents little village, you would see a tiny little snowangel about every 20 feet down the sidewalk. And if you looked really carefully, you would notice they were all from the same template and about the same size as the strawberry-blonde, big blue-eyed boy who begged his mommy the hour before.

A quick lunch of bacon sandwiches and PBJ at Johnson's Joint and we were headed back out the door. The calvary arrived to save the "Not-so Snow Princess" and her daddy (whose back was breaking from the load he carried down). I knew the answer, before I even asked, "Buddy, you wanna catch a ride with Mamie or walk back?" "Walk back," he said.
So "Walk Back" it was. But this time, I took slower steps, talked less and listened more. And if you drive down Main Street in my parents' village you might just see a snowangel that is quite a bit taller than the original. That would be mine!

Kin Folk


Short for Kindred?

As in...kindred spirits? Hmmm...

I struggle to find the right words to describe the focus of today's post.

This crew is half to blame...

My beautiful aunties (L to R and Top to Bottom: Kathy, Peggy, My Mom, Uncle Paul's wife, Chris, Lynda, and Laura)...

The other half (to blame) was not photographed because they were tending to the meat on the grill. If they were photographed, they would look something like these people, only OLDER...

So the focus of today's post? No, the people above are not random people I met at the local pizzeria...they are MY (trumpet sound)....(drum roll)...COUSINS (L to R: Me, My Brother, Tony, My Uncle Brian's Kids, Jacqueline and Nicholas, and My Aunt Becky's Kids, Allison and Ashley...Not Pictured? My brother, Rusty and my other cuz, Em) OK...I'll make this a little easier on you. Let's switch to the other side of the family (since I look nothing like the Willemsens)...

Now do you see it (My Aunt Peggy with her two daughters, Al and Mal and Me and Lil)? I think its the nose...the hair? and maybe the eyes...and most definitely...THE ATTITUDE...OK...here's another one of those Mooney ladies (remember that mama looking crew at the top of the post)...

You can spot us a mile away (Me and My Aunt Laura's daughter, Laurie). There are several others floating around the photographer, but I managed to get ZERO more pics...but I think you get my point...

It's strange. I am not super close to any of my cousins since I moved away so young, but I always manage to feel CONNECTED in a way that is not describable. A sense of pride runs through my veins as I cross the Wayne County line and know that I am now in KIN Turf. A place where people know my name...even if they don't know me. Fortunately for me, I have enough of my grandpa Ike on my dad's side that I can still be identified as one of THEM even though I look nothing like the Willemsen Cuz Crew...

And as we get older, the dynamics begin to layer and intertwine in a way that is just beautiful and peaceful and as it should be.

My kids with my cousins (Peggy's daughters, Al and Mal, with Tate and Lily)...

And my cousin's kid (Allison's daughter Jade pictured with GG)...

All perfectly CONNECTED. And from the looks of it, the tradition will live on (even longer than Grandma's couch...pictured below Ashley's daughter, Skylar, with Tate and my nephew, AJ).

P.S. Special thanks to Mims and GG for the setting of these pics :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Table for 8?

There is nothing I love more than to set my dinner table and prepare a meal for those I love.

In a perfect world, I would have a long dining room table that sits twelve and folding tables in the garage to accomodate those larger parties. I actually had Robbie at the furniture store looking at a new table, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. To me, the dining room table purchase is one of the most important things a family buys. Its the thing your kids remember years from now and fight over after you die...yep...pretty important. Another challenge is the absence of an actual dining room. Oh yeah...I forgot that! Where in the heck do I think I am going to put this dining room table???? Looks like I'm stuck with an 8 seater for now, but what the heck? A girl can dream, can't she?

Before leaving for NY we had our "foster" TN family over for a yummy dinner. Table for 8?
The Hostesses With the Mostesses
Lou Lou and DDK

Iggs and Non
And Iggs with Some Random Guy Off the Street
(Sidenote: I know this dude looks a little like my brother, but read the post below to know why I am making him nameless in my posts)

I made the Willemsen Classic Christmas dinner: Pepper Steak and Twice Baked Potatoes. It sure was tasty...I think GG would be proud. Add in some green bean and sweet potato casseroles and a side salad and we have pure heaven.

A quick meal for the kiddos and a swift kick upstairs, and we were in for some class grown up time (despite a few brief interruptions from The Spice Girls).

We ate a yummy dinner, played Partini, and watched RobBob "make it rain" and beat that random man off the street in a 3 point shooting on the Wii. It was such a great night we were even able to a fire on the back deck.
(2nd Sidenote: No I am not sitting on some random guy's lap, this is David and his wife, Heather was taking the picture and afterall, WE'RE FAMILY!!!)

Merry Christmas to my beautiful friends and family! You are my greatest gift!

Christmas Nazi

Yes...I hate to use the word Nazi in the same title as the word that represents the birth of our savior, BUT...I must. You see, this seems to be the nickname my beloved family has given to me. Let me explain...


I have never tried to hide it and I never expect anyone else to love it as much as I do. I really don't even mind if I sit around in my Christmas splendor while everyone (Nonny, Bobo, RobBob) else sits around in their boring, everyday, never excited about anything funk. Hence, their nickname for me...Christmas Nazi.

So...every Christmas I try to come up with some kind of event/attraction to celebrate the holiday season. Yes, we've rode the Polar Express train at the TN Valley Railroad Museum, we've watched Polar Express at the IMAX, we've gone to the Nutcracker and Ebenezer Scrooge...You get my point.

This year I wanted to take the kids to see the Christmas lights at Rock City. It's been years since we have gone and the kids have never seen them. I "thought" it would be a good idea to wait until Bobo and Iggs got here so we could experience it together as a family.
I'm not going to say BAD IDEA but I might've thought it a few times last night.

Well, let me start at the beginning.

Anytime we're talking about food, we get into the ongoing debate about where we will eat. This is not a simple decision since we have philosophically different views on restaurant choice.
  • Bobo and RobBob would eat at the local Chili's in any town we visit. They find a restaurant or a menu item and they are STUCK. If I hear Olive Garden or Mellow Mushroom one more time...well lets not talk about that.
  • Nonny and Iggs...let's just say their my Tender Tummy Twins. Having a little gastro issues makes for little interest in food and sometimes, not always, but sometimes, a little grouchiness when it comes to dinnertime.
  • Tate and Lily have no mealtime preference except for two requirements: pizza and coloring sheets.
  • And then there's me...I am all about the experience. I want to go somewhere that is local and where the atmosphere is more than just commercialized sports memorabilia.

So, I gave them two options: Crust or Mr. T's. in St. Elmo. Choices were quickly minimized when we pulled in Mr. T's parking lot to see that economic stress has closed the doors of one of my favorite pizza joints. So Crust it was. Dinner was good after some timeout for Lily...She fell asleep in the car and when she woke up in Crust's parking lot all she wanted was Bay. After negotiations were done, she decided she would rather come in and eat with the family. Final reviews from the restaurant choice...Thumbs Up: Iggs, RobBob, Autumn, Nonny, Lily...Thumbs Down: Bobo and Tate.

After dinner, we climbed Lookout Mt. After a brief bathroom break and Starbucks stop, we were headed to the "Enchanted Trail". It's a pretty neat little deal as you wind in and out of all of the caverns and rock formations to see the lights.

It's a little scary with two active kids since it is dark and there are some places where the railings are scarce, but they loved it.

Long story short, midway through the trail Bobo, Iggs, Nonny, and RobBob try to coerce my children out the exit. WE HADN'T EVEN SEEN SANTA YET!

Then, Bobo sat and made fun of us as Team O'Bryan sat and listened to the Christmas story. I believe his exact words were, "They're just freakin' Christmas lights". I do believe those words should put someone on the "naughty list" for life.

Regardless, the kids and I (and sometimes Robbie) had a great time, despite our boring, non-Christ loving family members that went with us.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas: Round One

This morning we had our first round of gifts. Having family so far away means strategic planning of the gift exchange. Mamaw and Papaw came down on Friday and Bobo and Iggs drove into town late last night to celebrate Christmas. Throw in Nonny and Team O'Bryan and there was quite a bit of gift giving going on...

One of Robbie's family traditions is to leave the presents under the tree unwrapped. Since Santa will not be coming until we go to NY, we left the gifts from Mamaw and Papaw unwrapped and placed them in front of the tree. As you can see from the pic below, the kids were really excited...

That Mamaw is committed to getting her boy whatever he asks for. So this summer Tate told his Mamaw he needed a fly swatter for his house, she got her boy a fly swatter. Here's a pic of Tate going after Nonny with his new gift...

And what would Christmas be without a sweet baby doll compliments of QVC? This one talks and sucks on her bottle. Needless to say, Lily is still rocking her baby as I type this post.

And then the grand moment occurred. With a joint effort from Mamie, Pops, Mamaw, Papaw, Bobo and Iggs, the kids got a Wii and several games for Christmas. Here's Tate doing the Wii dance...

Hours of entertainment...I am right now watching Nonny and Tate practice hula hooping on Wii Fit.

Looking forward to Rock City tomorrow and our big trip to NY on Tuesday. Happy Holidays everyone!

She Said Yes!

We started our family Christmas week with a sweet proposal from Uncle Bobo to our Iggs.

What a perfect Christmas gift! A beautiful bride for my baby brother. And even better...a sister for me! And as we have learned (even more last night), Iggs will fit right in the family. She has mastered getting the eye roll and huff and puff from Rusty almost as well as I do. How do I love thee, Iggs? Let me count the ways...
1. You carry your blankie around with you just like my beanut.
2. You LOVE my cooking!
3. You celebrate...Christmas, birthdays, Groundhogs Day...You love holidays as much as I do (hence the lecturing Bobo about Christmas music and gift wrapping).
4. You have now broken Aunt Lynda's 15 year streak and moved into the #1 slot for my "Favorite Christmas Cookie" award. It is a coveted prize and tremendous honor.
5. You knew the words to Bread. Enough said!
I am thrilled to share a lifetime with you. Welcome to the fam, girl!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

I really tried to...

I thought about it for a long time...

I even talked it out with Mamaw...

But I couldn't do it...

I just couldn't do it...even when daddy tried to bribe me...

I'm sorry I wouldn't sit on your lap, I am just very afraid of grown-ups that are dressed up. I told mommy it was your beard, but I'm sure its more than that.

Tate told me he would pass along my Christmas list, but in case he didn't I would like:
A pink DS and games
Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, and Belle
Princess and the Frog PJ's
A Baby and Paci
Baby Clothes
Christmas PJ's
Pink Flower Clothes

Love, Lily
P.S. Tate thought he should put his on here too in case you forgot his list:
Wii and Wii Games
DS Games
Toy Race Car
Toy Castle
Golf Clubs

Cupcake Divas

We had a plan...Get those nasty boys out of the house and have a day just for the girls...So we packed them up and sent them on their way to the UK vs. UNC basketball game...

Due to technical difficulties, I will not be able to load the boys' weekend pictures. If I could, you would see pics of the basketball game, dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings where Tate played GoldenTee and drank sweet tea, and a tour of the Christmas lights at the Kentucky Horsepark with a surprise visit from Mamaw and Papaw.

Enough about the boys, once they got on the road, we were so excited to go outside and play in this!

Yep...that's snow. This was Lily's first time in a real snowfall and boy did she have a blast. I think she would have stayed out there all day if we would have let her.
After rumbling and tumbling in the snow, it was time for gussying up and heading for an extreme girl afternoon. We met Stef, Heather, Non and Fred for lunch and then headed to the Nutcracker for the girls to enjoy their first ballet.
We were quite surprised that these 4 year old girls actually sat through the ENTIRE nutcracker. There were a few moments of boredom, but for the most part, they were just gems.

What would a totally girly day be without a visit to the new cupcake shop in town. These two cupcake divas wrapped up a wonderful day covered in icing and hyped up on some sweet sugar.