12.31.2012

2012 {a photo review}

Since we are about to close the lid on 2012 and unwrap a brand spanking new year in a handful of hours, I decided to throw a little video together of our year in photos.*

 I know, I know, it's a trifle long and who in the world has 9 minutes to watch our memories scroll by anyway (you're in luck because it was originally almost 15 minutes and I deleted a bunch of pictures, which kind of hurt), so don't feel pressured to click play.

Except I'd sure love it if you would just the same.

But guess what?

This year I got all kinds of fancy (read:  a teensy bit more techie savvy) and added music.

(!!)

I was all kinds of proud of myself.

If you visit my blog somewhat regularly than some (okay, most) of these photos will be repeats, but there are a few surprises (like the girlfriend road trip I neglected to blog about).

As I was clicking on photos, choosing music and then eventually watching it all put together I got a wee bit teary, which is odd for me I know. All in all, 2012 was a pretty good year for us, in lots of ways. I love my family. I love my friends. I am beyond blessed.

Can't wait to see what 2013 brings!!

*Edited the video to correct a few things, you know like a gap in between songs, cropping and such. An iMovie professional I am not. But I'm learning.

12.30.2012

Disney 2012: The Parks (Part 3)

I didn't want 2012 to draw to a close without finishing up our Disney vacation recap, because chances are I will get distracted by bright and shiny new things come January twenty-thirteen.

We spent our last day at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Upon arrival we made a beeline for fast passes for this:
As you do.

(We had to go back later in the day for our turn to ride.)

Believe or or not we did not have to coax Annelise into riding, she was looking forward to it with much glee (and a smidgen of healthy apprehension).
Dude.

That ride?

Awe. Some. Sauce.

If it hadn't been so crazy crowded and the wait times so crazy long and if they hadn't run out of fast passes we would've ridden it again and again. And then another time. Tip for the future: try the single rider line (when Annelise is a little older we'll definitely try this since you have to split up to ride).

However, we did not have the gumption to ride Tower of Terror, maybe next time.
One unexpected bit of fun happened as we were walking along and noticed a small group setting up for a street show. We decided to watch and it ended up being highly entertaining!

Annelise, who was chosen to play the part of their secretary, was probably equal parts excited and embarrassed but she was a good sport and played along with verve.
It was so cute! The actors did a fantastic job with lots of improv which was hilarious.

The director (in the truck) gave Annelise a stock holder certificate for In The Can Pictures (their film company) worth so many shares valued in Monopoly money. She was thrilled!
The Star Wars attraction (Star Tours) had been updated since our last visit and we all enjoyed that. Overall we didn't buy many souvenirs (it's challenging because almost every ride or attraction empties you out into the gift shop and you're basically surrounded by in your face Disney merchandise 24/7) but we did let Annelise build two droids.
We were able to ride almost everything that we had planned on, see some shows we had missed before and even catch a few repeats, so we were happy.

Our last meal was at the Sci-Fi Drive In, which seemed like a good idea at the time (when we booked it) because it sounded fun but the food was meh and we felt a little rushed.
It was neat to sit in a car and watch snippets of bad 50s sci-fi movies but in hindsight we wish we'd chosen another restaurant (50s Prime Time Diner would have been better, though a repeat).
We also enjoyed walking through the Osborne lights, which is like Clark Griswald on speed, and very much an assault to your senses, but still fun. 
Once Hollywood Studios closed we planned on hopping over to Epcot for their extra hours but chickened out. Not only were we beat, our dogs were barking and the wait time for Test Track was redonk, so we called it a night and had no second thoughts about it.

We packed as much as we could into our three days at the parks and flew home Saturday exhausted but happy. I am so thankful we were able to take this vacation and create more Disney memories as a family. Of course we're already talking about when we might go again, we'd like to go at some time other than the holidays, but not while it's crazy hot. We're tossing the idea of late October to see how Disney does Halloween or early spring, but definitely not during an official holiday and maybe it won't be so crazy crowded.

At least we can hope.

12.27.2012

And There Was Merriment. And a Hobbit.

So Christmas came. And then it went. As it's wont to do.

This year was a little bit different for us because 1.) Scott didn't have as much time off as he's had in the past and b.) my dad and Peggy went on a trip with friends to Branson, MO so we've been a small crew of three over the holidays.

Monday, AKA Christmas Eve, we had to do some shopping, not much really, but still, ugh. Here we are showing our crazy as we pulled into the parking lot at World Market (we also had to make a brief detour into Barnes & Noble).
Honestly though it wasn't that bad because it was only 9:00 in the morning and we weren't there that long.

After a restorative breakfast at IHOP we spent the rest of the day around the house. Annelise helped me bake cookies. This year (so far) I've only made Brickle cookies and Julie's White Chocolate Cranberry Snickerdoodles and seriously, you must make some ASAP, not only are they easy, they are truly scrumptious (a la Chitty Chitty Bang Bang).

Over the long weekend, on a whim, we decided to watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I had seen the first two movies years ago and was always rather meh about them (even snoozing through portions) (no offense) but I'd never read the books so I never really got it (I do plan to read all the books now, or at least attempt it). I wasn't sure if Annelise would like them or if they were appropriate what with the PG-13 rating and all, but we have allowed her to see the Harry Potter movies (at least through the Order of the Phoenix so far) so we decided to venture into Middle Earth together.

Well.

She ate them up. And? I get it now. I mean, I'm not planning to starting speaking elfish any time soon, but I enjoyed the series just the same. We finished the final movie Christmas Eve, then finished up our Advent readings, managed to fit in A Charlie Brown Christmas before reading A Night Before Christmas and setting out cookies and composing a lengthy note for Santa.

Hobbits, Elves, Wizards, the birth of Jesus, Charlie Brown and Company and Santa, um...yeah, that might be a lot of mixed messages all packed into one night (not to mention the fact Scott and I toggled between Christmas Vacation and A Christmas Story marathon after Annelise went to bed and I prepped a few things for breakfast).
Christmas morn dawned, at least for us, somewhere around 8:30 with Annelise getting the all clear to come downstairs once she heard us stirring (me stumbling toward my Keurig).
This year we (loosely) tried to follow the want, need, wear and read theme for gifts, which I think is a wonderful plan but we still got a little carried away (I'm fairly sure the idea is to give only one thing in each category, oops). 

She was thrilled to find a new Lego set and BeyBlades waiting for her under the tree (not pictured).
Annelise adores all things Diary of a Wimpy Kid so this shirt was a definite hit. She also got a few other long sleeve shirts, a puffy coat, new Nikes and socks and undies.
Along with a Lego Harry Potter book she also got the latest DOAWK, Third Wheel.

But she couldn't contain herself once she discovered this hiding near the back of the tree.
Do you think she likes it?
Scott got a new A&M shirt and a two new Playstation games and I got a new book and new Nikes.
A singing card from Pappo and Grandma (filled with some exciting greenery) was a highlight for Annelise. They also gave her a Lego Ninjago watch and Batman set.
Aunt Jerry sent a special book from Maine. So sweet!
Guess who found the pickle?
And got an extra treat.
This year for breakfast we feasted on shirred eggs, pigs in a blanket, and crescent cream coffee cake, oh, and pear slices for a bit of fruit.
We ignored the mess, as you do, and focused on our new toys for a while before getting ourselves together and venturing out to the movies.
We had never been to the movies on Christmas Day before and underestimated how crowded it would be. We ended having to split up and sit way down front. Oh well.
We saw The Hobbit, which we all enjoyed even though it wasn't quite as magical (little darker, lots of dwarves) as LOTR. However it's much nicer to watch an almost 3 hour movie in the comfort of your home where you can hit pause when you need a break.

All in all we had a wonderful, low-key Christmas, although we certainly missed my dad and Peggy (but know they were having a grand ol' time in Branson). 

Scott had to go back to work Wednesday (boo) but will have a bit more time off next week. Annelise and I are fine tuning our laziness skills. I may or may not have stayed in my PJs all of yesterday (today was much better).

How was your Christmas?

12.26.2012

The Christmas Card: 2012

As you can probably guess we waited until almost the last minute to take photos for our Christmas card this year. As per always.

(I often wonder what it must be like to be a planner and follow-through-er. Sigh.)

We tried to take them one late afternoon but after an unexpected vet trip for one of our cats, Spooky (she's had an ongoing allergic reaction/stress episode resulting in the loss of hair all around her neck, which has nothing to do with our photos other than almost derailing them) and traffic we pretty much ran out of light.

So we got ourselves all ready and put the same clothes on the next afternoon and tried again. We headed to a park near our house in the hopes of finding somewhat appealing backgrounds.

The first attempt was near the water, the light was good but still a bit harsh directly (although now that I'm looking at these again maybe we should have stuck it out there) or it was too dark with the water and sun behind us.
We found another spot with a bridge and were making our way toward it when another photographer and family beat us to it. Rats.

We noticed a pergola (?) nearby and a fairly neutral background (except for those owls, but, oh well) so we set up there instead. 

(All of these shots are straight out of my camera, not edited, just fyi.)
I used my tripod and remote clicker, which is what I usually do, but this time I made an exciting discovery after, oh, years. My remote has a two-second delay option which gives me time to activate the camera shutter and put my hand down. Can I get a DUH? No more trying to hide it not so discreetly in my hand while trying to take a natural looking photo.

Did you know it's a little awkward to pose three people along the same plane? A standing-holding-hands-pose wasn't my first choice mainly because we did that last year (against a brick wall) but it's certainly easy.
Of course we snapped several due to closed eyes, weird head angles (Annelise is in a tilt your head almost sideways like the girls on Disney channel phase) or possible fifth position feet.
Then things got crazy up in that pergola and we got our jump on.
Which was surprisingly fun.

I couldn't resist a foot photo. Or lower half photo. Whichever.
We even played with props.
By this time the light was really fading so we tried to scramble in a few more poses. As we were getting started these two stray kids ran up and hovered nearby waiting for me to take their picture, which, um...weird, but I complied just the same. We brought a chair from home, just for something different than a bench and played around with that some, but the light was bad, Annelise was rocking the sideways head again (this picture was the least offensive) or random people/dogs turned up in the background.
Then we perched on a tree stump and tried to get a close up before the light completely packed up its bags.
And of course we had to wrap everything up with a bit of silly.
This year we ordered our card through Tiny Prints (thanks to a 25% off coupon code) and I fell for one of the first ones that popped up on my computer, mainly due to the chalkboard theme and candy canes (what a coincidence, right?!). I also really liked the larger size and heavier card stock feel (a change for us from the photo cards we've done in the past), the rounded corners were a nice touch too.

Now, big surprise, but in the rush to place our order I didn't fully realize nor utilize all of the possible layout/style options. Like I could have added text. Who knew? I also could have chosen a semi-gloss instead of matte for free (although the matte was fine, the card just wasn't as clear--of course--as a photo card and we wondered if semi-gloss would have been sharper).

I also lost sleep that night over the fact I actually ordered cards with us jumping. Part of me was all it's whimsical and fun and the other part of me was hiding under a blanket wishing she could take it back.

Anyway.

Here is a wonky, and slightly blurry photo from my phone, complete with thumb, of the front...
and back of our card.
Going to the mailbox this time of year is so exciting! I love opening cards from friends and family and seeing their happy faces pop out of the envelope and taking a moment to think about them and catch up with the goings-on in their lives. It's such a treat! We leave our cards displayed for a good long while because it's fun to look back over them long after Christmas is officially packed away.

For the past several years I've exchanged cards with bloggy friends as well as those IRL, which has been fun to exchange something tangible with friends around the country that live in my computer. You know? Is that weird? Maybe. I know it's terribly late and possibly odd, but if you read my blog and would like to exchange cards--or even actual real letters from time to time--hey, whaddya say, let's do it. You can leave a comment or drop me a line with your address, my email is marathonbird@gmail.com.

xoxo
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