Sunday, May 31, 2009

{Two Dancing Princesses}

My girls love, LOVE, to dance. For the past three years Sasha has taken dance lessons at Clarissa's in Greencastle, and Clara has taken lessons for two years. The instructors there are wonderful and the girls have so much fun.

This weekend was recital weekend. There are three recitals: Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night. Unfortunately, the girls were not placed in the same recital which meant that Cory and I had to sit through two two and half hour recitals and all of our family had to choose which one to attend. Sasha danced Friday night and Clara danced Saturday afternoon. It made for a long weekend!

For the girls, recitals mean a couple things: they get to dance on a real stage, they wear sparkly costumes, and they get to wear makeup. This is a big deal!

Sasha was all smiles and poses when I dropped her off backstage.
She did a FABULOUS job dancing! I wish I could post pictures of her on stage, but I have none. No photography allowed. :( I was able to videotape the dress rehearsal, but I'll have to figure out how to load the video onto my laptop in order to post it. Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen.
I picked Sasha up backstage at the end of the very long recital. She knew from past years that her family would be waiting with gifts. Last week she even asked me if she would get presents for dancing. I asked her what she wanted and she replied, "Flowers, jewelry, books . . . " At least she knows what she wants! And she got it, too. MeMe, Nana, Daddy and I all had bouquets of flowers for her, and Nana also had a silver necklace that says, "Dance like no one is looking". Sasha was thrilled. MeMe's flowers ended up on her nightstand so she could see them before bed.

We're very proud of Sasha and I love the fact that she gets so much joy out of dancing. Next year will be a little different for her as she has "graduated" from the Kinderdance series where the kids do ballet, tap, and jazz. She now has to choose what kind of dance she wants to do and will take half hour focused classes. The only kind of dance she absolutely wants to do is ballet. She loves the look of ballet. I think Barbie has a lot to do with this - she loves to watch Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses and other Barbie movies that involve ballet. I'm hoping she'll also do jazz and a gymnastics class, but we'll see.
Clara isn't quite the poser that her big sister is. When I took her backstage on Saturday for her recital she had no patience for my wish to take pictures of her. She just wanted to play hopscotch and run around with the other girls. This was the best picture I could get of her all dolled up for the big day.
Clara danced to an adorable song called "Me and My Teddy Bear". She's been singing the song for months at home and we could see her singing along as she danced onstage. It's so much fun to watch the little ones dance! This was her first year dancing on stage and I'm really impressed with how well she did. The girl has no fear!
When I picked her up backstage, the first thing she said was, "Where are my flowers?" This girl knows what she wants, too. We didn't let her down, either. The bouquets were waiting!

In April the girls had their pictures taken at the dance studio, and I thought I'd share two of them. These are pictures I took, and I'm sure the professional ones are much better. But this shows the girls costumes (minus Clara's teddy bear and Sasha's mirror that were dance props).

As much as I love dance season and watching the girls learn new moves, I'm glad it's over for the summer. We all need a break! In July both Sasha and Clara will go to a mini-dance camp for three nights, so that will be nice. Plus, it's a Tinkerbell theme, so I know they will have a blast.
Until September rolls around, we'll be dancing in the family room!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

{A Memorable Weekend}

Last weekend was jam-packed with activities, and it was great! Jen and Adam and their kids came up to visit and got to meet Dixon for the first time. It was fun to watch how each of their kids responded to him. Aidan was sort of aloof. He acknowledged Dixon, held him for a bit, and then he was done and ready to go back to his legos. Kari was very intrigued by the baby and kept saying she wanted to hold him. But when we tried to put Dixon on her lap she would balk away from him. Eventually her curiosity won her over, though, and she held him several times with an adorable smile on her face.

It was this guy, Ryan, who seemed the most smitten by Dixon. He was the first to hold him and he was so gentle and loving. He covered Dixon with kisses and you couldn't wipe that smile off his face if you tried. What a sweetheart. What gets me is that I think Dixon resembles Clara, and Clara and Ryan look a lot alike. It'll be interesting to see if Dixon grows up to look like Ryan's brother and not his cousin. We spent Friday evening at my mother and Jim's house visiting with the yahoos. Whenever all the cousins are together the energy and noise levels instantly escalate. They LOVE being together and thankfully they play each other out so a good night's sleep is almost a guarantee. Now that Dixon is here we have an equal mix: three boys and three girls. Can someone please show me three more adorable girls than these three princesses? I know I'm biased, but dang if they aren't the cutest things ever!
On Saturday morning we decided to take the kids to Totem Pole's Community Fun Fest. There were lots of activites for the kids, like decorating crowns and masks and face painting. This is the first crown Sasha made. Somehow it got lost so she ended up making a second one. Go figure.
There was also a clown there who made balloon animals. The girls both asked for a dog. Wait - Sasha asked for a "poodle", and Clara asked for a "puppy". There is a difference, you know. The tail of the poodle has a ball at the end, but the tail of the puppy is just straight. Just thought you'd like to know that in case you ever encounter this clown and ask for a balloon dog.

It was a fairly hot day, so we ate lunch and then went inside to watch a magic show. The kids enjoyed it, and I will admit that the magician had a few pretty cool tricks mixed in with the cheesy ones.
Later that night we went to a friend's house for a cookout. While it was nice to hang out and enjoy the evening with a bunch of folks, I was somewhat nervous because there was a pool in the backyard. I hovered by Clara, who befriended an adorable little girl named Gabby, because she wanted to be right by the pool all the time. The two girls played with pool noodles, splashed their feet in the water, and stood on the pool steps to get wet. Eventually I got tired of being splashed by them and the bigger kids who were shooting super soakers, so I told Cory he was on pool duty. He didn't move closer to the pool, but he was watching.
But it still happened. Clara fell in the pool and not one adult saw it happen. Thank God Ryan saw her and yelled for help. Adam jumped in and pulled Clara out and she was fine. Three years ago the same thing happened while we were on vacation, only it was Sasha who fell in and Aidan who alerted us. Both times there was a group of adults RIGHT. THERE. And both times not one of us saw it or heard it. It just goes to show how quickly these things can happen. I went to bed that night thinking how sickeningly different that evening could have turned out had Ryan not yelled for our attention. So now for my summertime PSA: PLEASE keep a very, very close eye on your kiddos when they are near water!
This is my girl splashing with her friend just before she fell in the pool. Note the somewhat disturbing expression on her face: this is determination combined with pure trouble!
Finally, on Sunday we had a family cookout at my aunt and uncle's house. We all love visiting them, not only because we love being with our family but because we love where they live. Their house is my great-grandparents' farmhouse (see the Dixons in the previous post - this is their home). Several years ago my aunt and uncle completely gutted the house and renovated it for their family. It turned out fantastic, especially because they kept many of the original features that make it so unique. While we really like their house, we especially love the land. The house is totally surrounded by orchards and mountains, and there are no neighbors or roads within eyesight. It is serene, beautiful, quiet, perfect. And just down the road is the piece of land that Cory and I hope to build on someday.
So several of us decided to take a walk through the orchards on the dirt road that connects this house to what used to be my grandparents' house and my aunt and uncle's first home. This road leads to the land that my mother and Jim own, the piece that Cory and I covet. That's a cherry tree in the distance. I remember walking this dirt road countless times when I was growing up and stopping to pick cherries to eat along the way. Apparantly Cory's dad was also chased off this road when he was busted for picking cherries off this same tree when he was younger.
This is just one row of trees that surround the land. I think these are apple trees, but they might be peach trees. I can't remember. But I do know they are gorgeous.
This is the plot of land that Cory and I would love to build on someday. We'd ideally plop our home all the way at the back of the cornfield (which would no longer be a corn field, of course) at the edge of the mountain. The view from that spot is breathtaking: nothing but orchards and trees and pure beauty.
Now we just need to win the lottery so we can afford to buy the land, the infrastructure, and the home. Sigh.
Monday wasn't much of a holiday for us since Cory had to work. The girls and I hung out at home and did some small projects around the house. I thought about taking them out somewhere, but the thought of fighting all the crowds kept me happily at home. But my hat's off to all those courageous men and women who have served and are serving our country. What an honor!
It was a good, memorable weekend.
*** Just a side note: In the midst of typing this post I had the priviledge of being the target of Dixon's projectile poop - again. This time I got nailed from my right shoulder down to my foot and he managed to cover the changing table, the floor and a corner of the couch. If anyone wants either some good birth control or some good laughs, let me know and I'll email you the photos.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

{My Graduate . . . And Her Pretty Sister, Too}

It's almost beyond comprehension, but Sasha graduated from preschool today. My baby girl is going to be in Kindergarten this fall! Seriously, how did this happen? I'm so glad Cory and I didn't try to test her into Kindergarten early since she just missed the cutoff this past year. Having her home with me for an extra year has been so nice, but now I don't know if I'm ready to let her go this fall. She's ready, though!

We are extremely fortunate to have a fantastic preschool at our church, Falling Spring. The program is top-notch and we couldn't ask for better teachers. Both Sasha and Clara LOVE going to school and I feel very comfortable leaving them there with these capable women. Mrs. Kegerreis is the primary teacher (on the left). I think she has been teaching for about 19 years, and she is incredible. She just has a way with little kids and it's clear that she sincerely cares about them. Mrs. Lambert (on the right) is the teacher's assistant for the four year old class. She is a natural with kids, too, and has a ton of fun with them. Mrs. Rogers is the assistant in Clara's three year old class, and she loves the kids and is fantastic with them as well.

This picture was taken on Monday, Sasha's last day of regular preschool. The teachers humor me and my obsessive picture taking - they understand the disease of scrapbooking! :) Yesterday Sasha's class had their last day of school at a park. It was a big family playday / picnic. The kids played games for hours and then we ate some yummy food potluck style. This photo was taken right before a scavenger hunt. All the kids are lined up waiting for their instructions.
They all did a great job with the hunt. One of the items on the list was a live ant, and Sasha managed to get one without crushing it to death. What bravery and skill!
Another game was a race of sorts. They had to run around a line of orange cones and then crab walk back. It was funny watching some of the kids doing their crab walks!
They also had the requisite parachute. Kids love these parachutes! But the real reason why I'm posting this picture is because of who is in it. Lately, Sasha has been telling Cory and I that she's "in love" with a boy named Brodee. She insists that she is indeed "in love" and gets upset when we tell her otherwise. Well, this is Brodee. And apparantly he's "in love" with Sasha, too. Everytime Sasha was called under the parachute, Brodee held onto her handle and called her back to him. They talked and giggled and looked as smitten with one another as two five year olds can be. It was pretty darn cute. At least I thought it was cute. Cory wasn't too thrilled. Sigh.
The girls - and many of the other kids - spent a good bit of time on the merry-go-round. I don't know how they do it. I get dizzy just watching them, but they can stay on that ride for eons and not seem to get sick.
At the end of the day there was a graduation "ceremony" for all the students. Mrs. Lambert presented each of the kids with a diploma and a book of many of the activities that they had done throughout the year. One of the things they had donw was fill out some info about themselves, including what they want to be when they grow up. Mrs. Lambert read each of the students' ambitions aloud and I got a kick out of what some of the kids want to be. Not surprisingly, Sasha wants to be a princess. Little does she know, she already is one.

I'm so proud of Sasha! She's becoming such a big girl and she has learned so much over the past two years. I hope she continues to love school as much as she has at Falling Spring.
Today was Clara's turn to have a last day of school playday at the park. That's what happens when you have kids a year apart in school: you end up doing something every single day. So we headed back to the park this morning so Clara could have her final fun day with her school friends.
Unlike yesterday, today was basically an unstructured playday. They didn't do a bunch of games, they just let the kids have fun on the playground. Clara loved it. She flew to the sky on the swings . . .
and she and Sasha played on the slides, merry-go-round, and bouncy horses all morning. The one thing that really stood out to me is how the girls stuck together. Clara didn't play much at all with her school friends. She and Sasha did everything together and were rarely apart. Maybe I should be concerned about her lack of mingling skills, but I'm not. I find it totally sweet that the girls love to play together and stick by one another even when there are twenty other kids there to play with. They really are best friends.
Because Clara has a summer birthday, the class sang Happy Birthday to her and celebrated her special day today. Typically there is one day each month that all the birthdays in that month are celebrated at school, but since we obviously don't have school over the summer this is how the summer babies are recognized. Clara and two others got to wear their birthday hats and they each brough goodies to share - cupcakes, cookies, and snack mix.
Can you tell that Clara was excited about this?
Here she is enjoying her cupcake. The girl is in sugar heaven.
The morning ended with a candy scramble. Just when I thought our giant bowl of Easter candy was almost empty, we completely refilled it with the candy from yesterday's and today's candy scrambles.
So here's to the end of another school year! Congrats to all the graduates and all the kids who have enjoyed a great year of school. You deserve a fun, relaxing summer!
And I deserve to sleep in tomorrow morning. Think it'll happen?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

{What's in a Name?}

I've been meaning to post this since Robert Dixon was born, but I had to wait until I found the right photos and until I got a new scanner. As I've mentioned before, my old 3-in-one printer/scanner/copier just doesn't scan well at all. It was definitely time for an upgrade, and yesterday I got the perfect scanner for my needs. I'm all set now to do some posts and digi pages of old photos! Yay!

Anyway, lots of people have been asking what we're calling the baby. Last week I decided that I'm definitely calling him Dixon. I just can't bring myself to call him Robert! To me, that's the name of a grown man, not a little baby. And despite the potential for not-so-nice nicknames, I really like the name Dixon. It's different and to me it suits my little boy perfectly. Now, if you ask Sasha and Clara what his name is, they will say Robert. And Cory calls him Robert Dixon 99% of the time. SO, whether YOU call him Robert or Dixon is completely up to you! But I'm going with Dixon.

Cory and I never really discussed many names during my pregnancy. We both agreed very early on that Robert Dixon was a good name. A couple of weeks before I gave birth we tossed around a couple other options, but we didn't agree on anything else. Honestly, it isn't that we both love the name Robert. In fact, I never imagined I would actually have a child named Robert! But the meaning behind the names is what drew us toward them.

Both Cory and I were blessed to have grandfathers named Robert. They were both amazing men, and so our little boy is named after both of them.

Cory's grandfather's name was actually J. (Jacob) Robert Meyers, Sr. Those who knew him called him Bob, and boy did he know a lot of people! Bob was a prominent member of our community. Not only did he have the dairy farm that is now known as Meyers Brothers Dairy (where Cory's dad, uncle, and cousin work), he also was an auctioneer, and was a member of the Tuscarora School Board. He was very well respected by so many people, and Cory simply adored him. Bob loved Coke, traveling, antiques, and most of all his grandchildren.

This picture was taken at Cory's high school graduation in 1995. I love the mutual look of respect between Cory and his grandpap, and check out that handshake! If you've ever shaken Cory's hand before, you know that he has a very FIRM grasp. I think this is where he got it!

And yes, this was the 90's, at the height of Beverly Hills 90210. Cory was definitely channeling some Brandon Walsh with that hair and sideburns - I think he looks SO cute! :) My grandfather was Robert Kriner, know by most as Bobby. He was also highly respected in this community and I have yet to meet someone who could say a bad word about him. He worked for the telephone company for many years and then took over the family fruit orchard and market with my grandmother. He was a Mason and a Korean War veteran. And like Cory's grandpap, he was an incredible family man - he was my Popsi.

I have so many incredible memories of Popsi - far too many to mention here. Some of my favorite memories are from the many summers I worked at the fruit market. Popsi was always there "snoopervising". I can still see him sitting on an apple crate and watching the goings-on at the market. He would usually make this whistling sound when we walked by and he always called us grandkids "toots" (rhymes with "puts"). Popsi loved cats and dogs both. Oddly enough, most of his cats only liked him and would attack - seriously, ATTACK - everyone else. He and my grandmother loved to dance and they loved to travel together. He was an incredible man in so many ways.
As you can see, our little Robert has some big shoes to fill! Cory and I hope that he grows to become hard-working, kind, and firm yet loving just like his great-grandfathers.
The name Dixon is also a family name. My great-grandparents were William (Billy) and Mary Dixon.

I was very fortunate to have them in my life for many years. My great grandmother, Nan-Nan, passed away when I was a junior in high school, and Pap-Pap joined her in heaven several years later. They were extremely active in my life and the lives of my sisters. We spent so much time at their home in the orchards. We would sometimes stay there for a week at a time and my memories of being at their home are some of the best I have. I can still hear the squeak of the screen door that led from their kitchen to what was basically a mud room. I remember helping Nan-Nan trim the grass along the walkways and around the flower beds with little electric trimmers - I can't believe none of us ever snipped off a finger! I remember how 35 cents would buy us a Mountain Dew from the old soda machine that was up at the work shed. There was always a bowl of M&Ms in a kitchen drawer and a box of Whitman's assorted chocolates in the den for Pap-Pap.
Their house was an old farmhouse, and it seemed like a castle to me. There were hidden stairwells and oodles of rooms upstairs filled with old stuff - note: old clothes and jewelry! - that my sisters and I loved to explore. We would spend hours going through these things, dressing up, and playing with our found treasures.
Nan-Nan was the most generous person I've ever met and was really a second mom to us girls. She would often pick us up from school and take us out for a frozen yogurt. She always had treats and gifts for us. But most of all, she spent TIME with us. And man, could she cook! Pap-Pap had a tough exterior (he was very well known for his hot temper!), but he was really a softie when it came to his family. He almost always had his green work clothes on, and when he was home he could be found in his den watching TV or sleeping. But a quick tickle of his foot would wake him up!
Cory and I are incredibly blessed to have a son, and it's an honor to name him after these fine family members. And if we have anything to do with it - and we do! - our Robert Dixon will become the kind of man that future generations will want to name their children after as well.
Now to make things even sweeter . . . Dixon is also forever connected to my paternal grandfather, Claude Witmer. I didn't realize it until my mother told me, but Dixon was born on my Pappy's birthday! I think Pappy was tickled pink to learn his great grandson shared his birthday, and I'm pretty giddy about it, too. I love these sentimental details! Pappy has always been a cool grandfather. He and my Grammy live in State College so we don't see them as often as we'd like, but when we were kids we spent a fair amount of time at their house. Pappy was always lots of fun to be around. He made the BEST homemade kettle corn in his seasoned cast iron skillet. He told bawdy jokes and always made us kids laugh by popping his teeth out - hilarious to a kid! He loved (and still does) to have his back scratched, so I would dig my nails in and give him a good scratchin'. Spending time with Pappy and Grammy is always fun, and we're blessed to do just that occassionally throughout the year.
The weekend after Dixon was born, Grammy and Pappy were in Chambersburg. So we of course took Dixon to my dad's house to meet them. Check out the birthday boys and Grammy at their introductory visit!
I know this is a long post, but there is nothing more important than family and that is well worth a lengthy commentary. Cory and I have truly been blessed with incredible families, and we are thankful that we are able to honor some of those individuals by making them namesakes for our boy.
Now go be a good boy, Robert Dixon! Your family is watching you . . .

P.S. For some reason, Blogger will NOT put a space between the paragraphs in the second half of this post. It's driving me craaaaaazy!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

{My Cover Guy}

I can't resist posting about my cover guy. It's not everyday that you know someone who's on the cover of a magazine! OK, so it's not Men's Fitness Journal or GQ or People's Most Beautiful People, but it IS the cover of a real magazine that people - some people, somewhere - read. I'm just so dern proud!

Check out the cutie in the middle. Yep, that's my guy! All the vets but one from Cory's practice met for a photo shoot about a month ago. The photographer took lots of pictures and this is the one that made the cover. I love how they photoshopped the Nittany Lion symbol off of Cory's hat! I also love the article subjects advertised on the cover: BVDV and Testicular Injections, Dairy Calf Gut Health and Pregnancy Toxemia. I'm thinking you have to be a vet or a dairy farmer to be lured in by those teasers!

The guys were also interviewed and they answered questions via email about surviving and helping clients survive the economic turn. It appears as though Cory got the last word, but he has no memory of saying what is quoted in the article! He even went through his email comments and can find no record of making the comments. Oh well! It sounds good, right? That is, if you have super vision and can read the tiny print.
This is just part one, folks! The magazine is going to focus on Mid-Maryland's practices and how others can apply them to find economic success and security in two more issues. Rock on, guys!
Now go out and pick up the May/June issue at your local newsstand today! :)