12.31.2009

A Bloggy Year-End Recap {2009}

As the sun starts to set on 2009, I decided I must follow along in the fabulous (and stylishly clad) footsteps of Jo-Lynne and join her fun 2009 bloggy recap carnival. The idea is genius in its simplicity, just copy the first line from the first post of each month this past year.

Without further ado, I bring you my year through the eyes of my blog...

JANUARY

Can you guess what I did this morning?

I realize now that could be seen as rather vague, but there was a picture following that teaser. Oops...now this sounds slightly sleazy. I promise it wasn't. And no, I'm not doing it again this New Year's Day, although I wish I was. Again, not sleazy.

FEBRUARY

Saturday I hosted a little Stampin' Up shindig and thought I'd share the makes and takes with you too.

Yawn! I think I just fell asleep reading that builder beige sentence. You too? Sorry. But, there were several cute homemade card samples and a party on the trampoline.

MARCH

So I was sitting at home Monday morning doing something terribly productive while Annelise was at school.

Like watching a DVRd Oprah, ruminating on adoption and the size of our family.

APRIL

Walk of Shame

There wasn't really a first sentence per se, so I copied the title instead. This post documents my return to Weight Watchers last year. It was so brief and unproductive I hardly posted about it again. Sigh.

I got a letter the other day asking me to come back. Mail that makes me bitter is no fun. Especially when I know it's right. Sigh.

MAY

As we head out of town.

That sentence makes a bit more sense when you have the title as context. My girlfriends and I took a road trip to a tiny Texas town for a fabulous weekend of friendship, spiritual growth and let's not forget, bird nests.

JUNE

One afternoon last week I was struck with the urge to create something and at the same time spruce up our foyer windows.

Again, that sentence has a lot more zing after reading Oops...I Glued it Again as the title. 2009 was the year I embraced my glue gun and mistreated a few of our windows. Fun times with fabric, fringe and hot glue.

JULY

Taking into account that I have not been the faithful runner in reality as much as I think I have been and the fact that it's like 500 degrees outside, I decided to adjust my running intervals.

Look! An actual running themed post (since I am Marathon Bird after all). Complete with a run-on sentence and a hyperbole. The sad thing is, I'll have to adjust my intervals all over again once I get myself together and actually, you know, go for a run.

AUGUST

After reigniting my scrapbooking flame recently, I am pleased as punch to report that I finished the Maine vacation album.

Wait! Don't all click over at once, we don't want to crash the system. After finishing that vacation album my scrapbooking flame dwindled. I hate that I am either an all or nothing type of person.

SEPTEMBER

I'll give you one guess as to what it might be.

September dawned and something went missing...my sweet daughter lost her first tooth. Thankfully, no more are loose so I can continue deceiving myself that she's not growing up so fast that it makes my head spin.

OCTOBER

In an effort to deal with the shoe boxes full of photos, newspaper clippings, cards and ephemera, saved by my grandparents and parents, I made a decision.

Here is where I had the brilliant idea of posting old photos every Friday and calling them Friday Flashbacks. However, I think I only did this two, maybe three times.

Are you noticing a pattern of me not quite following through with my big plans? Yeah, me too.

NOVEMBER

Is there anything sadder than a jack-o-lantern the morning after Halloween?

Your typical Halloween recap post. Instead of dressing up like Laura Ingalls, Annelise decided she had to be Princess Amidala from Star Wars this year. Maybe 2010 will be her prairie year.

DECEMBER

Thanks to Annie at Basic Joy, I discovered this year in review challenge.

I started Gwen Bell's Best of '09 Blog Challenge and made it all the way to Day 18 before fizzling out.

Is it a good thing that I am consistent in my incomplete-ed-ness (my word, feel free to borrow)? Probably not.

Whew! That was quite a trip down bloggy memory lane, wasn't it? 2009 was not in any way a bad year, but it was not a great year either. Looking back I see lots of starts and stops, a handful of changes and plenty of stagnant areas too.

I'm looking foward to a clean slate, a fresh start thanks to the gift of a new year dawning in just a few short hours.

2010. Bring it!

12.29.2009

Tippy-Toe*

As I stumbled out of bed this morning on my way to the kitchen for my first cup of brew, this sweet slumber scene caught me by surprise.

My heart burst just a little when I saw her hugging her new Build a Bear friend, Kit (thanks to a gift card from Pappo and Grandma), slumbering away on our sofa. And then, of course, I tippy-toed over to grab my camera and take a picture, holding my breath that the shutter wouldn't rouse her. It didn't.

She must have woken up early, and since we (Scott and I) are in late-night-no-routine-lazy-holiday mode we have been sleeping later, so she nestled into the couch and fell back asleep.

Capturing a moment like this is increasingly rare because she is usually functioning at full-tilt, 95 mph, live action animation with full commentary. In this moment I see her small hand and her beautiful face in their full innocence and child-like repose. Moments like these make me wish I could freeze time and savor them for a while. Maybe even a little longer.

*Can you name that Seinfeld reference? (What would life be like without Seinfeld references?)

12.25.2009

Merry & Bright. And a Little Bit Squeaky.

We were off to a bit of a rocky start this fine Christmas morn when Annelise dashed into our bedroom at 7:02 with worry in her voice exclaiming, "Santa didn't take my picture! He ate the brownie and drank the milk but HE FORGOT THE PICTURE!! WHY?!?! DIDN'T HE LIKE IT?"

Great, way to go there big guy.

We mumbled some sort of weak excuse plausible explanation which she eventually accepted and then skipped off to shake her presents.

There may or may not have been a not so merry moment in the kitchen when I was trying to do five things at once while keeping an eager-to-help 6YO occupied with breakfast making tasks before I had a cup of coffee and I asked Scott for a little help. And when I say help, I mean I basically wanted someone to listen to me talk myself through the assorted possibilities of the best time to put the eggs in the oven. Yeah. There may or may not have been a reminder of how vacuuming was done the day before and there may or may not have been subtle slamming of the refrigerator door and aggressive-yet silent-dish washing for a few minutes.

But we soon worked it out and had a group hug.

For Christmas breakfast this year we had baked oatmeal, shirred eggs, pigs in a blanket, fruit and bubble bread. I had big plans of photographing our meal, but then I think I forgot about it. I did later snap one of the bubble bread carcass. Hmmm...you think we liked it?

Annelise helped roll the little piggies into their blankets, which kept her distracted from the presents (we wanted to wait until my dad and Peggy came over). When she couldn't wait any longer and we felt sorry for her, her stocking came to the rescue.

A blank Hello Kitty notebook, markers, a couple of easy reader books, PEZ and a pack of gum sent her over the moon. It's so easy to forget that children are easily pleased and really don't need a bunch of the latest and greatest toys or the most expensive toys. Seeing her respond to her simple stocking was refreshing and sweet. Of course it didn't make us return her bigger gifts, but I still appreciated the reminder.

Now, I don't know about you, but we (okay, I) like for the gift opening process to last a little while. We try to take turns opening so each gift gets its own little moment of glory. It doesn't always work out that way, but we try. While the eggs were baking (yes, I finally reached a decision) Annelise started opening her gifts.

She was SO excited that Santa came through with these squeaky battery operated rodents, also known as Zhu Zhu pets. Santa wasn't able to get any accessories, but I have a feeling that once the holiday shopping dust settles these little guys will have some toys to play with and get their daily battery supplied exercise.

But our new little furry friends better watch out, there's a new sheriff in town and her name is Annelise.


Pappo and Grandma gave our daughter her first firearm. Isn't that sweet? I do love the fact that the holster is pink, don't you?
As the morning turned to afternoon it was apparent that little bits of Christmas had spread throughout the house in no particular order.
Meet Katie, a Liv doll, who came with a few wigs in order to match her hair to her mood. She's hanging out next to the Chixo condo in her salon chair patiently waiting for her stylist to get back to her.

But she forgot to pick up her clothes.

Now that they are here, these little wig heads are kinda creeping me out.

Don't forget to meet one of the Chixo girls waiting for her pillow and rug to dry so she can decorate her condo with more sticky plastic balls. Be sure though to ignore the dog and cat hairs that will inevitably get stuck in each and every ball configuration because you chose to work on the floor instead of the table.


LOOK! Here's Paul Mc Cartney in the flesh, right here in our family room.

Wait, that's just Scott playing Beatles' Rock Band. Or trying.

These little fur balls finally nestled in for a nap. Okay, they are kinda cute.

While Annelise concentrated on some new Legos. Still in her PJs at 5:00.

And I flipped through this delightful eye candy conveniently bound together in a cookbook.

I want to cook everything. Right now.

But I settled for making our yummy taco soup standby for an easy Christmas day supper.

Now, somehow, the day is almost over. Christmas is over. I always feel a little let down (while at the same time relieved) as Christmas day draws to a close. Not really over anything in particular, certainly not a feeling of disappointment over a gift not received or something like that. Just a gentle whisper of melancholy after all the built-up anticipation and preparation these last few weeks and it's all over in a whirlwind of ripped wrapping paper and two bags of trash.

But, thank goodness, I know I'm blessed in so many ways, so those silly feelings don't linger too long.

Especially since I sweet-talked Scott into watching The Proposal with me.

Just because I'm curious (some might say nosy), do y'all open presents on Christmas eve or on Christmas morning/day? Is it a free for all or is there a semblance of organization?

12.24.2009

This Christmas Eve...

We tracked Santa's progress then...

set out a little treat for him once we knew he was on his way.

There's bubble bread rising overnight and the table is set for our Christmas breakfast.

Annelise searched high and low for the hidden glass pickle. After nudging ornaments, enlisting the help of a flashlight and causing numerous needles to fall, she finally found the elusive green gherkin. Each year she looks forward to this Christmas eve tradition (which I think originated in Germany) of pickle hunting and getting a small gift for her efforts (this year it was a book of 100 Bible Stories & songs).

We three snuggled into the couch to read The Night Before Christmas and then listened to Annelise read the story of Jesus' birth out loud. (Y'all...my little girl is reading!!)

And tried not to float away on our fluffy clouds of joy and parental pride.

Then it was time to tuck our little elf into her bed and wish her sweet dreams. We soon heard her sock clad feet patter down the stairs clutching a picture she drew for Santa (she keeps a jar of markers right beside her bed, never knowing when creativity will strike, but confident she is ready when it does) We ushered her back to bed and saw her appear once again, this time terribly concerned because we forgot to put the corn out for the reindeer. Sorry fellas!

We assured her that Santa's reindeer will be okay since lots of other families weren't slackers like us.

This must have reassured her since our little elf finally fell asleep.

Now it's time for a little last minute wrapping.

Again, with the slacker.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and to all a good night!

12.23.2009

Christmas Card Angst {Part Two}

In my last post I shared our attempts to take a family photo for our Christmas card. Last year, with our mid-December trip to Disney World, time got away and we never sent cards, so I was determined not to let that happen this year.

In a perfect world I would craft a handmade card using my stamps, pretty papers along with festive embellishments and include our picture. We have never sent a Christmas letter, not that we have anything against them, but I've never known what to say in one. I do like to write a small message with actual ink and handwriting and in that perfect world, on my handmade card, I would do just that. Of course, in this perfect world I would do this early in the season, possibly even make my cards over the summer, and mail them out right after Thanksgiving.

That's how I dream, but that's not how I roll.

Photo cards have gotten extremely popular these last few years and I must admit my handmade dreams have been shelved thanks to the convenience of them. There are oodles of companies that offer reasonably priced selections. Two years ago we used Shutterfly, this year we used SmugMug. After I placed our order, I stumbled across Tiny Prints, which I'll file away until next year. This year we went with the 4x8, but might consider the larger folded style next year.

I knew I wanted at least three photos because I like odd numbers and I wanted to say Merry Christmas. I quickly found two styles I kept coming back to, yet each one had a small glitch.

Choice #1:

I liked this one because it met my above criteria, but there wasn't enough room in the blue frame for each of our names. Granted, most of the people we were sending cards to knew our names (I hope!) but I worried there might be someone receiving our card and thinking "The Shaws...wait...what's their kid's name again?", or something like that.

I expressed my concerns to Scott, who in the throws of watching a football game while obsessively checking his Fantasy Football scores was not able, nor willing, to give me his full attention. He said it was fine.

So I came up with Choice #2:

This style was also available in green, but I went with blue to continue with the water theme. Scott said it was fine. I had reservations though because it said Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. But we could fit our names in the blue box. What's a girl to do? I calculated that we would not receive our order in time to mail them out before Christmas, so I decided Happy Holidays would suffice.

Scott said it was fine.

With slight apprehension I clicked submit order and felt my stomach drop just a little when I got my confirmation e-mail a few minutes later. Why? Because I am in the picture on the card that we are mailing out to select friends and family. It would be A LOT easier to send a card with only Annelise, instead of stressing about my appearance and my most flattering angle. It would also be A LOT easier if I had changed my eating habits and non-existent exercise routine several weeks prior to this photo session, but that's another topic for another post. But I decided to suck it up and suck it in and smile anyway because I think Christmas card photos should include the whole family.

Of course the cards came much faster than I anticipated (SmugMug ROCKS!), so I felt guilt all over again with the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas thing. By this time on Saturday morning, Scott was busy raking leaves when I expressed my concern one more time before addressing envelopes.

Guess what?

He said it was fine.

12.21.2009

Christmas Card Angst {Part One}

There are few things as stressful as getting ourselves together to take a family photo for our Christmas card.

Actually, I'm sure there are plenty of things that are more stressful, but work with me here, okay?

We all know I am not a planner, not an early bird and not a professional photographer. Keep all of those things in mind. Last weekend I threw down the gauntlet and declared we were taking a family photo no matter what. Our first attempt took place Friday evening. Notice the quickly fading light. We went to a local park that has several nice features, like this fountain that appears to be growing out of our heads.

We tried several more around the park, on the bridge and in the gazebo to no avail. Did I forget to mention that it was coooold, windy and all Annelise wanted to do was go to the playground? And Scott was hungry? It's a little hard to rally the troops under those conditions, but I tried. Just about all of the photos suffer from poor lighting, awkward arrangements, wrong exposure, fake smiles or spontaneous ear scratching.

So I packed up my tripod and called it a day.

Sunday afternoon after church and lunch we tried a location down by the water.

We tried several arrangements with me making numerous trips back and forth to the tripod and used my remote, which is not as discreet as you would think.

Finally we were getting somewhere...

But then we had a bit of a Hitchcock moment when another family started feeding the seagulls.

Once they calmed back down, we tried an artsy fartsy photo. I bet you're wondering what we are gazing at off in the distance, aren't you?

Annelise kept taking breaks to play around on the rocks. I'm just thankful she didn't get muddy or slide off into the questionable water.

The one below was this close to making it on the Christmas card because it was a little closer than the earlier one. However, Scott and I were slightly disappointed in Annelise's half-hearted smile, so it didn't make the cut.

After almost an hour and a zillion snaps of my shutter later, I was hopeful we had a few good shots to choose from. We packed it up and let Annelise make a beeline for the playground. This was her face when we told her it was time to leave...

and she realized her play time did not quite equal up to her photo torture time and cried FOUL.
Now it was time to weed out the so-sos from the heck-nos and choose the possible contenders. A daunting task that required much consultation with Scott as he tried to watch football. Which went over swimmingly.
Stay tuned...I'll be back soon with the results.
EDITED to add: We obviously did not go all Matchy McMatcherson for our photos. Personally, I think it's perfectly fine if your clothes complement each other and not compete with each other. I also think it's fine to match if that makes your horn honk. Now, I was concerned that my bold print and Annelise's stripes were not necessarily complementing each other, but at we went for it anyway. What's your opinion on the Matchy McMatcherson approach vs. not so much?

12.20.2009

Early Release Day Survival Kit

The Christmas holidays officially began Friday afternoon. Thank goodness I was prepared.

Annelise and I set up camp upstairs. Why upstairs you ask? Well, that's where our printer is and where our last surviving VCR is located.

So?

So we could make a nativity scene out of toilet paper tubes and patterns from this crafty site.

Annelise got busy coloring.

Taking breaks only for popcorn munching and Christmas movie watching.

We watched The Muppet Christmas Carol (I think we need more Muppets in our lives, don't you?), The Year Without a Santa Claus and The Santa Clause. I realize that sounds like a bunch, but we only get to enjoy Christmas movies once a year and we have to fit them all in. Plus there were about 12 different nativity characters to color. Our jobs were clearly defined: she colored, I cut and glued the figures to the tubes (I repeatedly asked her if she wanted to do that part and she repeatedly declined), the popcorn and movie viewing duties were shared evenly.

I'd show you a picture of our almost completed efforts (she petered out with an angel, a donkey, a sheep and a king left to finish), but I am too lazy to go upstairs right now. They are pretty cute though, promise.

Next, it was time for Annelise to decorate a small tree for her room once Scott arrived home with the lights for it.

I would show you a picture, but again, that would require walking upstairs. It's pretty cute though, promise. (That is if a hodge podge of old, not main tree worthy ornaments arranged in a willy-nilly fashion are your thing.)

Then, for the third night in a row, it was cookie baking time.

Aren't her eyes looking tired yet? Just a little? Nope. Pity.

We just made gingersnaps, but the day before we made gingerbread men. Or gingerbread people. Except I kinda lost interest in piping around the edges of their little brown bodies after, like, five. So I tried a different approach...

Is it just me, or do their beady mini M&M eyes give you the creeps too?

12.19.2009

Happy Birthday Jesus, Cha-Cha-Cha

Annelise's kindergarten class celebrated Jesus' birth with a little class party on Thursday. I was tasked with providing a simple craft. I did what I do best, copy.

Thanks to the brilliance of my friend Kim, kids ages 3 through 3rd grade had made touch and feel nativity scenes two summers ago during our church's Bible Power Hour, so I knew it would be perfect for kindergarten.

I pretended I was super organized by getting all the materials together an entire day ahead of time and sorted into individual kits. I have my moments, but most other times please don't peek behind the curtain (like Oz, get it? Of course you do, now I feel lame for explaining).

I also slaved in the kitchen making these chocolate dipped pretzels. Ahem.

The kids ate sack lunches at their desks, which they thought was pretty fun. The moms thought it was pretty nifty not having to bring in platters of party food.

Then it was time for birthday cake. After they sang Happy Birthday two ways. Can you guess which one the kids sang with the most energy? Yep, the one with CHA-CHA-CHA at the end of each line.

The cake was highly favorable among the 5 and 6 year old crowd. Plus a few parents.

Once they were all kinds of sugared up, it was crafting time. By this time we only had about 10-15 minutes before the half day kindergarten had to leave, so it was a bit rushed. All they had to do was arrange the nativity scene pieces (felt for the donkey, raffia for hay, sandpaper for the dirt, craft sticks for the stable, star stickers) and glue, so it went quickly. They seemed to like it too, so that was good.

Annelise was all caught up in the cute baby that was visiting and felt it was her duty to monitor every baby movement, so she rushed through her craft just a bit in order to get back to baby watching.

On the scale of class party craziness, this one was very low key and simple. You know what? The kids enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than one that was over the top. The teachers appreciated the simplicity factor too since there was less mess and fewer kid frustration/spastic moments. The kids, who were still hepped up just from a simple party, were doomed to stay inside because it was cold and rainy outside and there were three hours left in the school day.

I felt guilty leaving. Just a little though.

12.18.2009

In Which She Bats Clean-Up

As with most things, I hit a little speed bump along the Best of '09 Blog Challenge road. Here's a feeble attempt at a quick catch up:

Day 12 {Best New Food} I'm still kicking myself for not eating Indian food before going to see Slumdog Millionaire. It would have been the ideal opportunity to try a new cuisine but we didn't think about it until later. So, we (I) didn't try anything new this year but we do try to eat Thai or Mediterranean food when Annelise isn't with us. Maybe 2010 will be India's year.

Day 13 {Best Change to the Place You Live} We have not made any large scale changes to our home in several years, if you don't count the shower pan failure/major water damage repair and a hurricane. Other than the occasional furniture rearranging and re-purposing, I am not constantly decorating our space. Once I have it the way I like it, I leave it (mostly). Over the last year I took The Nester's advice and introduced more fabric into our home through the art of mistreating our windows. Up first were our family room windows, followed by some black toile in our kitchen and finally dressed up our foyer windows with burlap. I can not tell you how much a few yards of fabric, a couple sticks of hot glue and a blister or two made our home, well, more home-y.

Day 14 {Best Rush} I honestly can not think of any rush unless you count a sugar rush, brief shopping spree euphoria or the not so frequent rush of a good hair day.

Day 15 {Best Packaging} I've got nuttin' on this one either.

Day 16 {Best Tea} Tea? Seriously? I am a java junkie pure and simple. I am in giant, puffy heart love with my Keurig.

Day 17 {Word or Phrase} Sigh. For the last two years I always say I am going to choose a word to be my word of the year, like a goal to work toward. I always like everyone else's choices and think to myself, "Self, that's the perfect word for you! Go forth with that word!" and I end up with a list of several favorites yet never cutting to the quick and making a decision. 2010 will be my year to choose my word. Really.

Day 18 {Shop} Target and Amazon got waaaay too much of my discretionary $$ this year. Add to that Half Price Books and TJ Maxx. 2009 was the year I discovered Down East Basics and Shabby Apple and predict they will receive more of my $$ in 2010. Fingers crossed.

12.16.2009

Decorating Our Tree: A Seven Step Process

Step One: Have annual discussion about whether we should use our artificial tree or purchase a real one. As with the past four years, this discussion always ends with the same result, yet we feel obligated just the same to talk about saving money, protest the slaughter of trees, pine for the Christmas tree smell (hahahha, get it? Pine? Oh, how I crack myself up!), and whine about the eventual carpet of needles on the floor.

Step Two: First weekend after Thanksgiving plan family outing to choose the perfect tree.

Step Three: Reschedule due to nasty, cold, wet, weather all weekend. Feel defeated and depressed that total tree enjoyment time is slipping away.

Step Four: Second weekend in December make pact with family that NOTHING will prevent said family from bringing the perfect tree home that weekend.

Step Five: After browsing tree selection at Not the Normal Tree Place realize it's just not the same experience. Drive to Normal Tree Place and sigh with relief. Within fifteen minutes drive home with the point of a Frasier Fir poking you in the shoulder.

Step Six: Watch husband lug tree inside while offering helpful advice. Wait for husband to tinker with lights and hang lights on tree. This process might take a few days. Watch eager 6YO, whose philosophy is, "Lights? Who needs lights?" begin to hang ornaments anyway. Watch husband take ornaments off. Repeat as necessary until husband finishes hanging lights. Stifle giggles.

Step Seven: Decorate the tree, which in itself is a multi-step process, a subset if you will. First, Annelise and I hung some ornaments yesterday afternoon after school. Once she lost interest, I hung a few more. Then, later after she went to bed, I dispersed her groupings a little more evenly across the tree. Today I pulled something new from my tree decorating bag o' tricks (although I bypassed purchasing the grapevine garland I coveted from Rochelle's gorgeous tree, maybe next year) and clipped favorite family photos from throughout the year on several branches. It might be a teensy tiny bit over the line of Too Much...

but I'm downright giddy over them.

p.s. See that large circle ornament that looks like it came from a tree trunk? Well, it did. The tree lot guy cut it off our tree and told Annelise to make an ornament, which she joyfully did bright and early the next morning. I love it.

p.s.p.s. As of now, we only have one tree this year. I know. It hurts. Our other little trees have bit the dust, or at least the lights on them have, and we haven't replaced them. I miss them. Especially my flamingo tree.

p.s.p.s.p.s. We don't have a tree skirt. Do you? Growing up we always just put a sheet around the base of our trees (and sometimes it wasn't a white sheet, there were flowers) so that's what we do now. Except I make sure it's a white sheet to simulate snow. And of course I haven't done it yet. I felt justified by my anti-tree skirt policy once I read The Nester's stance on the issue. What do you say?

And finally, p.p.p.p.s (I have lost all track of the right way to do multiple p.s., or make it plural) The only present under our tree is a gift Annelise made at school and brought home yesterday. I'm obviously in denial. How many days until Christmas? Wait, don't tell me.

12.14.2009

Why I Wore Spanx and Heels on a Saturday

(Except they were the copycat brand from TarJay called Assets, but same general constrictive idea.)

We got ourselves all gussied up and headed into downtown Houston for the afternoon.

(I went with bare legs for three reasons: 1) it wasn't drastically cold, 2) after spending $20 on the knockoff Spanx--yes, I'm now thinking I should've just sucked it up and bought the real deal--I didn't want to spend more $$ on tights, and 3) I thought I had sheer black hose anyway, but, of course at 12:42 Saturday afternoon, I realized I was wrong. I saw women with hose/tights and without, so I thankfully didn't feel too oddball-esque. Aren't you glad I explained my rationale to you? You're ever so welcome.)

We told Annelise we were going somewhere special, but we didn't tell her exactly what. For a good part of the drive she thought we were just going to The Galleria. As we got closer to the Hobby Center, we started giving her clues. It wasn't until we were looping around in the parking garage and Scott sang out, "High on the hill was a lonely goat herd, layee odel, layee odel, layee-oo... and then we heard, "ARE WE GOING TO THE SOUND OF MUSIC?!?! ARE WE REALLY?!?! SQUEALLLLLLL and then our car windows shattered.

Almost.

So, um...yeah, she was a bit excited.

Scott was too and they practically left me in the dust as they raced toward Will Call (we had PLENTY of time, but they did not listen to me). Notice Scott's Hurry-up-and-take-the-picture-we-don't-have-time-for-this-nonsense face. Also notice Annelise's feathered fan and costume jewelry. She took the whole dress up thing quite literally.

This was her first real play to see (we've seen the local version of The Nutcracker and a few children's theater shows) and she was excited to have her own ticket and her own program.

We had GREAT seats in the center and not tooooo far back. Former President George Bush and Barbara were sitting several rows in front of us to the left. It was sweet to see them somewhat up close and in person.

Once the curtain lifted and Annelise saw Maria perched on a hill singing, she was HOOKED. Enchanted. She sat on the edge of her seat, completely captivated by the songs and the story. It was terribly, terribly difficult for her to refrain from singing along, but she did. A few times her excitement bubbled over and she stage whispered that this was the best present ever, thank you, thank you, thank you!!

My heart immediately grew 3x larger.

We paused for a family self portrait at intermission:

We had a few rough moments as Annelise witnessed various people and children purchasing extremely overpriced snacks during intermission. I kicked myself for forgetting to grab a box of raisins before we left and dug my heels in against the whining. We did break down and buy a $3 Sprite to share three ways, but ignored all other desperate appeals. We are so mean.

Soon Maria and Captain Von Trapp were married and performing at the festival and escaping the Nazis and then making their way to freedom all as they merrily sang.

And then it was over.

We made our way outside to anxiously watch the Stage Door,

with the fervent hope of getting a few autographs.

Not only did she get the autograph of the actor that played Max, she got Captain Von Trapp himself. Well, at least the actor. Sadly, she missed getting her favorite character's autograph, Leisel. She is fascinated by all things Leisel.

By the time we got to our car and waited patiently for parking garage gridlock to subside, we were all STARVING. And maybe just a tad snippy. Maybe.

We then made our way over to The Spaghetti Warehouse so that we could wait 45 minutes to eat. Thank goodness for iPhone games and toothpicks.

Seeing this musical was one of our family Christmas presents and definitely worth every penny. And worth the wearing of knock-off Spanx and even worth the blister I got from wearing my heels.

Memories like these are priceless.

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