Thursday, July 31, 2008

Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg

Mt. Zubba Bubba Day 5

We spent the day in Gatlinburg, TN as tix to Dollywood ($50 each) were too rich for our blood. We were so excited to find the real life Herbie car. Alexander is a HUGE Herbie the Love Bug fan and this was a special treat.
The skies opened up and rained on us on and off all day. It was a warm summer rain, so not much of a nuisance. Nevertheless, Mark and Bubba opted for an indoor mini golf course (black lit and a bit creepy).

They also went through a mirror maze. Can you tell which Alexander is the real one?

Its in reverse of course, but Alexander (AKA: Bubba as named by Sophie meaning Brother) got a new hat at Bubba Gump Shrimp. (if you can't tell, it says Bubba on the front)
Later we stopped by Cooters, as in the Dukes of Hazzard, mainly to take these 2 shots.
Who says rainy days can't be fun?

HapHapHappiest Birthday Miss Lizzy!

Dear Lil Sis,
Enjoy your day. This is for you! We love you!!! XXOO

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mt. Zubba Bubba Day 4

At the bottom of Mount Zubba Bubba is a convenience store. Our new friend we met at the pool says that they sell fried chicken next to live bait. I hear tell if you go in briefly, you come out smellin of grease. I just love the name.

We spent the morning at the pool again and I got a little burned on my shoulders. I think I may have the beginnings of a tan though. (something I haven't had since high school when I stopped worshipping the sun).
The pool is in Norris State Park (1.5 miles from the house). The view from both the kiddie pool and big pool is gorgeous. They both sit at the edge of the mountain giving you a spectacular view. These 2 shots were taken behind the diving board area (Paula and I are both diving queens, though she can do a pretty good jack knife).
flowers behind the diving area

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Last night Sophie started playing Peek-a-Boo all by herself. I caught it on camera this morning! I'm so proud of her.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mt. Zubba Bubba Day 2

Grandma Paula, the kids and I spent the morning at the pool that is near by.
For dinner we went to a BBQ restaurant that was very, very good. Mark will not eat his vegetables to this day unless they are deep fried or hidden in food. Fried green tomatoes and sweet tea hit the spot!
They even had a band for entertainment.
This was the view from the back of the restaurant.
Rain was moving in and the drive home was wet, but helped cool things off.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mt. Zubba Bubba Day 1, or Lions & Tigers & Bears, Oh My

Day 1 on vacation at Mark's folks new home in Tennessee.

In the morning on Mount Zubba Bubba (the name Alexander gave to the mountain his grandparents live on) the fog is thick. Basically, this shot is in the clouds off of the back porch.
Mark stayed at home to work and Papa and Grandma Paula treated us to the Knoxville Zoo.
It was HOT. And I do mean HOT! Ice cream sandwiches and raspberry slushies that stained my mouth blue saved us all.

By the end of the day, I wanted to be carried too.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Visit to the 'loo


It was a whirl wind tour of Iowa. We stayed with my baby sis Kate (thanks again) during our time in Waterloo. Days were filled with family, college friends (or in the case of my BFF Darcy - middle schools friends), lots of cook outs, birthday parties and swimming. Good times.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What do Therapies Look Like?

Sophie has Developmental Therapy (DT) at home 1/month. She has Occupational Therapy (OT, for fine motor skills) at home 1/month. Physical Therapy (PT for gross motor skills) is on site 2x/month. Speech Therapy (ST) is 1x/week at home. We're working on; taking items "in and out" of shiny bowls or coffee cans, etc. object permanence, cause and effect, sitting, pivoting, getting into and out of sitting, reaching while sitting or on tummy, CRAWLING (we're ALMOST THERE), kneeling, index finger usage, movements of her tongue, chewing harder and different foods (taste, texture) and plenty of other good stuff. She's doing great and continues to impress her wonderful therapists.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Birthday, Breakfast, Baubles & B'Art

OK, so it's just art, not b'art...So far my birthday has been a lot of fun, despite the rain. Just the girls were out to breakfast at a greasy diner and back before the boys even woke up.

Yesterday I discovered a new female artist that I LOVE, Erin Smith, and 2 pieces that I couldn't live without. Her work:
"is a collage of acrylic, watercolor, inks, paper, found objects, original paintings, and digital media. The finished product is printed on archival canvas and hand stretched on a hardwood frame. Each canvas is signed by the artist. The prose is original and the meandering lyrics of a day in the life of the artist. and mother. and wife. Some people don't get it. Others can't live without it."

Additional birthday cash made it possible to pick up some shiny new earrings, also handmade by artist Kathleen Plate. A girl's got to have birthday baubles. So here's a big birthday THANK YOU to Grandma Betty, Mom & Dad, Paula & Dale, Liz et al, Grandma Mary, Mark, Alexander & Sophie for such wonderful gifts! I think I'll pick up some tofu pad thai for lunch and a bottle of Cartlidge and Browne cab (my new fav thanks to Mark's discovery) to go with dinner. What a great day and its only half way over!
Check my sidebar for a better look at the new artwork. I watermarked them, but if you click the pictures, it will take you to her website. Since it's hard to read this small, they say, "everything's been fabulous since I realized my life is just like a Norman Rockwell painting." and "I'm sorry I just please need you to shut up for one minute." Love em.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Time for Some Campaigning, (look for me at the end)

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HaHa You're Irish

I've had a love for Ireland for as long as I can remember. I'll get there in the next 10 years, I vow! Even as a kid I felt drawn there and I don't know exactly why. Perhaps its a past life thing? Although my pedigree resembles that of a mutt, I know I do have Irish blood. Mark, on the other hand is indifferent to "things Irish." On St. Paddy's Day when everyone with a few drops of Irish blood proudly announces it (or admits their green envy), he's always been happy to say that he is Not, in fact, at all Irish. He's mainly Swedish and German with a smattering of others. It's not that he has anything against the Irish. Really, how could a man that loves Guinness and potatoes so much have any issue?

At his maternal grandmother's 90th birthday party last week, Mark's self identity became altered. His grandma had brought with her a packet of information on her descendants. What he learned was that Grandma Betty (Dixon), is the great-great-great grand daughter of John Dixon. John and his family of 4 kids hailed from County Tyrone in Ireland before arriving on a boat in New York in 1832.
Information about the Dixons was engrossing and on page 2 were some jarring facts. James (John's son and 1st generation in America) was a Class A Jerk whose wife was able to divorce him in 1880. The list of cruelty and torture of his wife Rhoda of 20some years is long and depressing. I swear their eyes tell a story.
Then there is Mary, (wife to Robert - James' brother) who was listed as "insane" in an 1850 census. Then again, according to the same census, her abusive brother-in-law James was living with them, so maybe she wasn't insane after all. I find it 'funny' how history has a habit of making the women out to be the crazies. Tangent, sorry...

John Julius (James' son) operated a general store in Bluff City and later opened a packet steamboat line in 1905, operating between Peoria and Henry. In 1916 he expanded the packet line to include St. Louis with the steamboat KEYSTONE STATE. Others were successful business men; owning fisheries and homesteads, some were farmers, and Ohio River canal workers.

A cast of characters to be sure, but the main thing is that


Mark still remains a bit perplexed. I think it's wonderful. Welcome to the Emerald Club.

Parkersburg, I Will Remember You

On our trip to Iowa last week, we paid a visit to Parkersburg where on May 25th an EF5 tornado leveled half of the town. We went to see if we could find where my grandma's old house used to be behind the high school or my aunt and uncle's house next to the Kwik Star.

First let me say that yes, we did feel quite badly going to Parkersburg and New Hartford without being able to volunteer our time. We tried to be respectful that this community is still in the midst of devastation and is a disaster area. People lost their lives, homes, cars, everything. We did not walk around other people's property and were mindful not to get in anyone's way (I hope).

Pay attention to the vast open space where neighborhoods used to be. Plywood signs label the streets. Driveways lead to empty concrete foundations, or holes in the ground. Pile after pile of wood, cement blocks and debris are all that are left of homes. Street signs are bent. Trees that remain look strange, some are still standing with half missing, others were sucked up out of the ground with the roots intact. Most left standing are stripped of their bark and broken, as if a giant had been whittling them. What struck me was the stillness of the town despite heavy machinery and the steps that no longer led anywhere.

It is my hope that this tragedy not be soon forgotten. With that in mind, feel free to take a look at the pictures and video footage. If you feel so moved, I'm sure the Red Cross would be happy to take a donation (see the side bar of the blog to donate).

Still Pictures:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Home Messy Home

There's nothing like sleeping in your own bed after being out of town. We got home very late last night after spending more than a week in good ole Iowa.

The trip in summary:
Waterloo: 5 nights. Urbandale: 1 night. Ankeney: 2 nights. Gas $ (don't want to think about that). We stayed with family, saw old friends and finally met new ones in person (Isabelle, Brigette, & Josie)! There were; 2 birthday parties (baked 40 cup cakes), 4 cook outs, gallons of sunscreen, mosquitos the size of Cessnas, a trip to Parkersburg and New Hartford to see the tornado damage, a trip to Iowa City/Coralville to visit with our college friend Amy and her gorgeous daughter Isabelle~who is already 2, a trip to Train Land train museum in Colfax, visit to the Cedar River (sand bags in Cedar Falls, broken train bridge in Waterloo), 2 malls, 2 pools, 1 trampoline (lots of bruises on Alexander), 3 serious potty/diaper - car seat issues (Alexander had 2, Sophie just 1). Good thing they are both easy seats to clean, yuck!, 1 set of lost keys (car and house), 2 bonfires, many s'mores, mojitos, and a bazillion pictures taken.

Today we have to unpack, clean up the cat messes (clumps of fur all over the carpet and a hairball on MY Bed/Blanket that I was too tired to do more than take off the bed last night). My Google Reader is Full. Yes, Iowa does have internet access so stop making jokes about not having electricity. They got electricity and running water at least 50 years ago people! Need to reschedule Sophie's ST and PT today as both kids have colds. Oh, and we're leaving again in a week for Tennessee.

More pictures to come. In the meantime, here is what the sky in Iowa looked like as we approached Waterloo. Ya, I took car photos of clouds. What?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

You Say it's Your Birthday


Happy Birthday sweet girl!! Thank you for swimming with Larkin and me yesterday. Amy
Happy 1st birthday, Sweetie!!! Wow a year goes by fast! Maggie
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOPHIE!! We hope your day is WONDERFUL! God bless you, you little cutie!!! Diane
Happy birthday little one! Hope your day is filled with fun, laughter and cake! Eli
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETIE!!! Josie and I are SOOOO lucky!!! We get to go to Sophie's Birthday party a week from Friday here in Iowa!!! I am so excited to meet Jen and Sophie!!! Brigette
Happy Birthday! Rae
Have a wonderful first birthday sweetie!! Gillian
Happy Birthday Sophie!! Hope you have a great day! Shylo
Happy, Happy 1st Birthday! Terri
Happy birthday Princess. Maxine
Happy 1st Birthday Sophie. Lisa
Happy 1st Birthday Sophie!!! Nancy
Happy Birthday Sophie!!!!! A.
Happy, Happy Birthday Cute Girl! Wow - 1 already! Sending you a birthday hug! Julie
Happy Birthday! I hope it was loads of fun! Tom
Happy Birthday Sweetie! I hope you had a terrific day. Cathy
Happy Birthday! Hope you had a wonderful day!!! Ecki Happy Birthday baby girl. Chelle Happy Birthday cutie!!! Renee Aw.. first birthdays can be bitter sweet..I remember. Happy Birthday SOPHIE! We love you!You are a livin' doll. I hope you got lots of presents and birthday cake!!!! Amy HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY Kelly Happy birthday Sophie! Wow, one already?! Bethany Happy Birthday, Sophie! Anna

Saturday, July 5, 2008

How Big is Sophie?

28 inches long, 20 lbs 11 1/4 oz. (as of her Well Baby visit July 3rd)

oops I mean...

Firecracker Day

Hope you all had a Happy 4th of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To My Sugar Bear

For My Daughter on Her 1st Birthday

12 months ago:
1. I learned that during childbirth, despite what they teach in class, babies CAN fall out.

2. Your daddy became my hero, again, as he prepared to deliver you himself.

3. You stopped breathing in recovery from surgery (and so did I), presumably from too much morphine.

4. You showed me your strength and gave me a glimpse of all you had to teach me.

5. I had no idea that your giggle could stop my heart.

6. I did not know that it would take us 2 weeks and 1 day to bring you home from the NICU & 6 weeks to learn to nurse. You've taught me so much about patience and perseverance.

7. I knew God had entrusted me with your very precious life and I vowed to do my best by you.

8. Your brother got his first inkling that the universe does not, in fact, revolve around him. He quickly went from asking us to bring you back to the hospital to giving you the sweetest kisses every night at bed time.

9. You stole your daddy's heart. You have him wrapped around your finger and he loves you so.

10. I didn't know how many lives you would touch or all of the people you would bring into our world.

11. You made me a mother to a daughter which is a very special thing.

12. You changed me down in the core of my Being the moment I saw your beautiful face in ways I don't yet fully realize.

Thank you for scary baby growls and high pitched squeals of delight. Thank you for chubby thighs and your big Buddha belly that we've worked so hard on. I cannot fully explain the joy you have brought into my life. I am so proud of you and I know my purpose on this earth when I look at you and your brother. There is so much I have learned because of you. Thank you for teaching me about acceptance. Your big blue eyes see into the depths of my soul and you accept me. Thank you. Thank you Sophia Madison for choosing me to be your mom.
Happy Birthday Sugar Bear.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Soak Up The Sun

Thank you Miss Larkin and Amy for a fun dip in the pool. I'm still blown away by L in the water. She is FEARLESS and moves around so well. Wouldn't it be fun if we could live in water? Hugs from Larkin made my heart swell (or am I just sun sick?) Sophie has a lot to learn from our little friend. (Plus maybe you can tame the wild monkey, I mean Alexander) Now you'll never get rid of us!
Prayers for a successful tubes-in-Larkin's-ears surgery tomorrow.