Saturday, December 29, 2012

Shelby Frances 2012

Shelby's 2012 Pre-School Picture
This is by far the best picture Shelby has taken in a couple years and it captures her saucy 3-a-half-year-old personality to a tee! I can't look at this picture without smiling at her little half-smile. Shelby has been walking since the end of summer, but is now starting to initiate it on her own more. She will go short distances between pieces of furniture around our house by herself when she is after something like a particular toy, book, or the iPod. We're actually having to rearrange a few things, so that Shelby can't get to them now that she is into everything within reach. She'll also walk long distances when we are holding one of her hands.

Her favorite toy is still her little wooden piano. We have it sitting on top of the train table and she will stand there and tap away at the piano for over an hour and dance to the music she makes. She is intentional about what she plays and some of it actually sounds pretty good. Trip and I would love to get her a real piano one day and I can see her taking lessons eventually. Shelby has been very into music for a long time and wants it to be playing at all times. She yells for us to turn it on when it stops, "Waaant Mooosic!" and prefers it to have a beat. We are still working on getting her to ask nicely and say please. Her vocabulary improves every day and she can be very demanding and specific about the things she wants, like cookies to eat or wanting to hear Paul Simon. She requests his songs Kodachrome and Graceland several times a day. When she is not playing her piano and bouncing and swaying to music, she is playing with one of her baby dolls or turning pages in her books.

I think that Shelby is going through a growth spurt. She has shot up this fall, and is looking like she'll be tall and skinny like her big brother. She eats constantly and the days when I was worried sick about getting her to chew and swallow anything without choking seem like forever ago.

Shelby has a great sense of humor and absolutely loves to make us laugh with her silliness. She is very good at mimicking people and teases us constantly with her imitations of people's idiosyncrasies. She can yell, "Trip" and sound exactly like me trying to get Trip's attention from a different room and knows how to cough and clear her throat exactly the way Trip does. She thinks its hilarious to shout, "What the heck" and she says "bummer" in a perfect mimic of my Aunt Dearing's voice every time she sees her.

We took away Shelby's pacifier at the beginning of Christmas break, and it feels like she has grown out of being our baby overnight. She is transitioning into being a big-girl, but luckily, she is still the best little snuggler in the world. I absolutely treasure bed time and the couple minutes after she wakes up in the morning because she will snuggle close with her head in the crook of my neck being still and sweet. 

Harding 2012

Harding's Kindergarten School Picture (Fall 2012)
Harding is now 6-years-old. Recently at school, he realized that he could read by himself. He brought his teacher the book he was reading at the time (The Mitten) and proudly read it to her without a hitch. She sent Harding to the principal with the book and a "positive office referral". Harding got to read the book out loud to the principal and she recognized him over the intercom during afternoon announcements. Mrs. McClure informed Trip and me that The Mitten is a 2nd grade book (I realize that I am shamelessly bragging about my child, but this is my blog and I can brag here if I want to). Anyway, Harding is very much into reading on his own right now and since Trip and I are both bookworms ourselves, we could not be happier about this development.

He is also interested in drawing, coloring, and writing notes and he will spend hours sitting at the table working on pictures of superheroes, Star Wars characters, vampires, and scenes from Harry Potter. Speaking of Harry Potter, we just finished reading the first book to him, and watched the movie together as a family last week. Harding absolutely loved it, but I think we will wait another year before reading any more of that series since it is a bit scary.

Harding is also very active physically these days. He's always been fairly uncoordinated, but seems to have figured out to move around in his own body and control it a little better this year. He loves to ride bikes with his neighbor buddies and he is constantly running, jumping, and kicking around the house practicing his ninja moves (complete with sound effects). We signed Harding up for basketball this winter, and he has loved going to practices and learning how to shoot the ball and dribble. He is still figuring it out, but loves every second of being there with his buddies and running around. The games start in January and should be interesting. Harding is pretty laid back and seems to love participating in whatever comes his way. He is still the sweetest older brother I have ever seen. He helps Shelby (and us) in countless ways and delights in making her laugh or snuggling with her on the couch and reading to her. I am starting to see why they say Kindergarten through 4th grade is the golden age of childhood. We are certainly enjoying Harding at this age.

Monday, November 26, 2012


I am so thankful to be able to claim these people as my family:

My sister and Grant hosted Thanksgiving this year at their new house in Arden. It was just awesome! The weather was gorgeous and we were able to play our usual yard games outside comfortably without bundling up in coats. The kids ran around, jumped in piles of leaves, and enjoyed being doted on by grandmothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends.

My extended family has been doing the Thanksgiving thing together every year for as long as I can remember. Our traditions have evolved as our families have grown and changed over the years, but the main elements remain the same: love, laughter, fellowship, amazing food, a plethora of pie, and plenty of thankfulness. Nana, you and Grandpa started this....well done!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Soccer

Harding's last soccer game of the season was on Saturday and he managed to score two goals. This fall, he really took to soccer and enthusiastically participated in every game. He wasn't the best kid on the team, but he ran hard and has gotten pretty darn good at defense. His coach was excellent and the other families on the team were really fun.

Going after the ball. 

Coach Jim and the Kodiaks in their post-game huddle. 

Harding and his team-mate Bennett

Harding with would be just fine with me if they get married one day.  :) 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Out of my "Rut" for Halloween

I've been in a blogging and picture-taking rut lately....but managed to come out of it to document Halloween. We went trick or treating in West Asheville again this year, and despite the chill in the air, we were not disappointed with the festivities. Vermont Avenue knows how to do Halloween! 

 Harding was so excited about Halloween this year that Trip and I couldn't resist dressing up too.

 Shelby wore the monkey outfit that Harding wore two years in a row for Halloween when he was 2 and 3. She was not happy about the hat, but my sister managed to distract her long enough to get this picture.

 Getting into character with our vampire boy. 

Harding's grandmother BeBe really came through with this vampire costume....she sewed the cape and pants according to Harding's drawings and specific instructions. Harding LOVED it and has been wearing the cape nonstop since he got it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

our Bailey girl

Some of you may know that we lost our sweet boxer dog, Bailey back in August (during the first week of school). Needless to say, this has been tough for our family. She was almost fourteen years old and within the past year or two, had become a permanent fixture on the couch. Now that she is gone, I am realizing that she was also a major fixture in our lives. We miss her so much.

In September of 2002, Trip and I were looking for a dog, particularly a boxer. Someone posted an ad in the Atlanta Journal who was relocating to a small apartment in DC and was looking for a good home for her boxer. I immediately responded and Trip and I found ourselves interviewing against two other families for Bailey. The lady even visited our apartment to be sure it was appropriate. It is a good thing she picked us to be Bailey's new owners because we immediately fell in love with her and would have been crushed if she had gone to someone else. Bailey was playful, mischevious, energetic, and full of humor from the start and we treated her like our child, spending hours playing with her after work each day. She was a good soccer defender and loved to help Trip practice his ball skills. She always accompanied me on my runs by the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta. I will never forget the time she chased Trip's mom's Persian cat to the top of a tree and the nightmare it was to get that cat down. It took Barbara a long time to forgive Bailey for that.

When we moved to Asheville in 2004, Bailey came too. She was at our wedding in 2005 and barked through the entire ceremony. When Harding was born in 2006, I started noticing that Bailey's hair was beginning to gray and she was calming down. Boxers are known for being great with kids and Bailey was exceptionally loving and patient with ours. Anytime I had to go upstairs to nurse a baby in the middle of the night, Bailey came along and kept me company. She always looked worried when one of them was crying, like she thought they were her babies also. She put up with Harding dressing her like his superhero sidekick and tolerated Shelby constantly crawling onto her dog bed and petting and kissing her.

Bailey dog, our quirky, wiggly butt (a boxer trait), faithful companion and family member....we could not have asked for a better pet. Thanks for all the joy you brought to our lives. The couch looks empty without you curled up in the corner. We love you.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We're All Good

Our number one goal for the summer was to get Shelby walking. Two weeks ago (and right before Labor Day weekend), she took her first steps by herself. This afternoon she walked all the way across the living room slowly, steadily, and with purpose...she started to fall over a couple times, but then corrected herself and kept going till she reached her destination. Nothing short of amazing.

The kids are one month into the school year at a brand new school and they are thriving. They love their teachers, they are making new friends and learning, and they are happy. We have an incredible babysitter who picks them up from school and brings them home. I don't have to rush out the door at work leaving multiple things undone to pick the kids up from two different daycares and then rush to get somewhere else in a hurry. These days, doctor appointments and therapies are much less frequent. Trip and I have even found time to exercise regularly.

I am thankful that Shelby's care is finally getting easier (there have been some very tough times in the past three years). I am slowly and intentionally learning how to not put so much pressure on myself to be perfect. In so many tangible ways, things are really going well right now and I am grateful. I'm also terrified that something will happen to upset the sweet spot we've found this fall. What if Shelby's shunt fails like it did a year ago? What if her migraines come back? What if she starts having seizures? These are the anxieties that surface when I wake up in the middle of the night...I'm dealing with these fears. But for right now, we're all good and I am embracing it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Watch the video below for some exciting Shelby news:

Can you believe it?  Our amazing little girl is walking!  I think it's hilarious how Tiffany and I have been working so hard with her, and getting frustrated as she resisted.  But, of course, when Adam (her OT) works with her, viola - she takes ten steps without assistance.  For some reason Adam has no trouble making her do things we struggle with.

But, whatever it took, we are ecstatic that she has made this progress.  I hope her walking will progress quickly now that she has confidence in her ability to balance and take steps. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to School 2012

Our back to school this year has been pretty momentous. Harding and Shelby are at a new school together and their classes are on the same hallway. Harding has now entered the big world of kindergarten and Shelby is in a Head Start preschool class.

As a teacher, I am usually pretty anxious when I have to go back to school at the end of the summer and this year was no exception. In fact, I have been a complete mess because of all the changes the kids were facing this year (H in kindergarten at a school where we don't know anyone and Shelby with new teachers and all new therapists). Somehow, we made it through last week unscathed though, and now that we have met all the teachers, been in the classrooms, and the kids have the first day of school under their belts, I feel much better about the whole situation. 

Harding came home from the first day full of excitement about hunting for the gingerbread boy in the library and making a new friend named Isabella. He proudly demonstrated to us that kindergarteners need to walk on "marshmallow toes" instead of elephant feet. We're hoping that skill will be used at home too!

Shelby's transition is off to a better start than we expected. She has pitched tantrums at the end of music time each day, but is eating and playing in the classroom just fine. She has also really taken to her speech therapist, Sarah, which is good news. I hope she'll warm up to the new PT and OT this week.

Harding at meet-the-teacher with Mrs. McClure. He wanted to stay all day!
Shelby at meet-the-teacher with Ms. Kathy, Ms. Maria, and Ms. Rebekah. She did not handle it as well as Harding, but allowed Kathy to hold her briefly for this picture.
Daddy helping Shelby feel comfortable in her new classroom.
Harding was excited about the dolphin mural and said, "Take my picture swimming with them Mommy".
My big boy on his first day of kindergarten. He was so excited! Trip texted me this picture at drop-off because I was busy teaching my new students on their first day of school.

Friday, August 10, 2012

july instagrams

We went on not one, but two week-long vacations in the month of July (yes I realize that we are incredibly spoiled). I will post about these soon, but in the meantime, here are my latest summer instagram photos:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Potty Princess

One of my summer goals has been to get Shelby comfortable sitting on the potty. We help her pull her pants and diaper down, and then lift her on to the potty. She has gone from screaming every time we put her on it, to sitting on it and singing and bouncing, to accidentally peeing on the potty, to telling us when she needs to sit on it, to going on it about 50% of the time (both #1 and #2). She has certainly exceeded my expectations for her in the bathroom this summer and I am very proud of her. I am still hesitant to get her out of diapers though...I don't want to push too much or put any kind of pressure on her when it comes to the potty. She gets more than enough pushing from us in other areas of her development. For now, we are going to continue doing what we're doing and see what happens.

Harding's 1st Race

Harding has enthusiastically cheered me on in several races that I've done and had expressed some interest in doing a race of his own. We signed him up for the Bele Chere family fun run and he has been "training" for three weeks by running around our block (0.7 mile). Running with Harding is amusing because he runs his mouth faster than his legs, and I've enjoyed our time training together. He begged MoMo and Bop to come watch him race this morning and warned them that he would wave to them when he saw them, but couldn't stop and talk because it was a race. He also told them to cheer loudly, which they did! 
Pre-race, Harding was excited!

Lined up at the start (H hated all the waiting). Notice that every kid was #1. :)

A good action shot...

Showing our family solidarity....the last bit of the race was uphill and Trip and I had to practically drag him. :)

About to cross the finish line!

Post-race pose with Harding's ribbon.

Harding with his loyal fans! Thanks for the support MoMo, Bop, and Shelby!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Max Patch

The next time we visit Max Patch, it will not be in the middle of summer. It is a beautiful spot with 360 degree views and no shade. There were bees buzzing around, and Trip got stung while rescuing Shelby from one of them during our picnic. We did manage to have a lot of fun hiking on the bald mountain that is so reminiscent of the opening scene in The Sound of Music. Instead of singing "The Hills Are Alive" though, we belted out Shelby requests like Old McDonald.

Our picnic spot

Shelby did a bit of hiking too!

Notice Harding's newest missing tooth? His smile keeps changing and getting cuter!

Harding took this one.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Atlanta wedding

Trip and I attended a friend's wedding in Atlanta at the beginning of June. The reception was at the Cherokee Town Club in Buckhead, so we felt very posh in our fancy clothes and had a great time catching up with old friends from high school and college. We left the kids in Asheville with my parents and it was really nice to sleep in Sunday morning too.

Loved wearing this dress borrowed from my sis. The shoes were also on loan from my friend Nicole.

Trip looking a bit like Don Draper. Any other Madmen fans out there?  

Graham and Blair

Just two Georgia Tech guys posing in front of the Ramblin' Wreck. Go Jackets!

Trip went to high school with all but two of the people in this photo. Sorry about the picture quality.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Since I got my iPhone last November, I have used Instagram religously to take pictures. I share some of these on facebook, but have noticed how some people turn instagram pictures into a collage and then put it on their blogs. I just learned how to do this are some of our instagram pictures from the past month or so:

Saturday, June 30, 2012

summer of the allergy shot :(

I just know that when Harding starts kindergarten in the fall, they will have some type of assignment where he has to write about or draw what he did all summer....Harding will probably draw himself receiving allergy shots. We decided to bite the bullet and undergo immunotherapy (shots) in hopes that he never has to endure another spring like this past one that was full of sneezing, wheezing, and oozing infected eyes. These shots are quite the commitment though. Harding has to get 28 sets of 3 shots in before he is at the maintenance stage where he only goes once every other week. That means that every weekday we are in town this summer, we go to the allergist and H gets three shots. Sounds like a kid's version of hell, right? After the first few rounds, Harding has gotten used to the routine and he has befriended every nurse and receptionist there. His favorite nurse is Katrina (pictured above), because she knows just how he likes the cold spray, then gets the bandaids ready so that they can go on immediately after he gets each shot.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Happiness = A day at the Bay

We traveled to Richmond last week for 4 days of an intense PT "bootcamp" for Shelby (which I'll post about later). But while we were up there, we were so lucky to get to spend a day at my cousin Kate's house on the Chesapeake Bay in Deltaville with her family and my brother and his wife. I have so many happy cousin and family memories from being here as a child and it was fun to add to those. This day really was great--the perfect combination of relaxation and summer fun. I think my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Thanks for hosting us Kate and Jake! Photo credits go to Kate and me....we were picture taking machines all day.

When we arrived late Friday night, Stephen and Jake were out on the dock reeling in Croaker fish right and left, which we feasted on the next night!

Shelby's first boat ride on Saturday morning--she LOVED it!

Harding got to "drive the boat" when it was tied to the dock.

Shelby and Allie Grace enjoying the water table.

Harding decided to get in on the fun mid-change.

My aunt Dearing lovin' on her babies.

Trip and Harding took a nap in the hammock.

Shelby being silly on our second boat ride.

I think Harding was begging Kate to go faster at this point.

Uncle Stephen being silly with H-man

The perfect ending to our day!

I just love this baby girl.

The actual perfect ending to our day was feasting on the crabs and fish that we caught and the shrimp that we bought!

Harding contemplating life.