Thursday, December 19, 2013

Abby's Christmas Program

As many of you know, I absolutely love this time of year.  One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is the music.  The day after Thanksgiving, expect to find the Christmas station preset in my car, carols coming from the kitchen while I cook/bake, and evening dance parties with the kids.  And don't think for a second that you can't have a good dance party to O' Come All Ye Faithful.  Don't knock it 'till you try it. :)

So today being Abby's Christmas Program at her preschool, I was super excited.  Nothing better than watching little kids sing their hearts out ... and they did just that.  It was so cute!

Abby's class came on the stage first (along with each class) and as soon as she spotted us in the audience, she started waving and smiling away.  Levi was equally as excited and kept screaming "Abby!!!!" Those two melt my heart with the simplest things.  

After the program, we had lunch and the kids played together.  We took some silly photos, since the kids were all sugared up from the cookies.  :)

Levi photo bombed what could have been a super sweet picture of Abby and her friend, Nickolas.  It turned out funny anyways.  That boy!

And .... here it is.  This picture sums up our attempts at a family photo.  
Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Big Boy!

I just can't stand the cuteness of Levi's big boy undies.

Without much warning, it looks like potty training is happening in our house.

And some video just because ... 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Oakland, are you ready for us?!

One of the reasons I love keeping this blog is because it's almost like a diary at times, a personal space that I can share my emotions and feelings with the people that mean the most to me.  I've been wanting to sit down and write for the past week or so, but didn't have the time.  Or perhaps it was because I just wasn't ready yet.

As many of you know, Jim was traded to the Oakland Athletics at the beginning of the month.  It all started with a day of rumors swirling around the television and different social media networks.  I didn't read too much into it at first ... after all, there is always "talk" and most of the time it's nothing.  Then as the day progressed, the rumors kept on, and I was starting to get anxious.  More anxious than usual ... so much that I called Jim (who was on his way to California for the MLB Union meetings) and asked if he had heard of anything.  Of course he told me what he always does, told me not to worry and that everything would be okay.  But this time, I was still worried.  I couldn't fall asleep.

Then it happened.  I heard the news.  I was in shock and the tears started.  I wanted nothing more than to be with Jim as he learned of this news, but unfortunately he was all the way on the West Coast.  Couldn't even give him a hug ... couldn't even be together to tell each other it would be okay.

Everything came flooding into my mind at once.  I don't think I've ever had so many mixed emotions.  Jim started his career with Baltimore, so it's really all we know.  We've experienced so many things during this part of the journey.  Began dating, got married, started our family.  Jim put down some major roots both in Baltimore and Sarasota, going out into the communities and doing some amazing things to help people.  I began to get involved with a charity that really stole a piece of my heart.  Baltimore was easy to call a second home for us.  We had such wonderful support from my family and many friends who lived in the area.  The team itself felt like a family and I met so many wonderful wives and families along the way.  I made friendships that will surely last a lifetime.  Most importantly, I grew deeper in my faith during this part of our baseball journey.

So I must say that when we heard such shocking news, I felt like our life had been turned upside down.  And that makes me sound so ungrateful.  But a lot of change had happened at once.  Big changes for our family.  Now spring training isn't at home.  Less family time.  Needing to find two other places to live.  Luckily, as all these emotions took over, family and friends reached out with some of the most helpful advice I've ever been given.  I finally realized that we had a choice.  We could either be negative about this situation or we could be positive.  Make the most of it.  From the words of a sweet friend, "It is so hard to not focus on what you think you are losing, but soon you will see that because it is God directed, it is the only journey you want to be on."  Such simple words made me change my whole outlook.

This will be a good thing!  My sister sent me this quote ... "Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together."  It won't be easy to leave so many people we love in Baltimore, but I'm ready for this next part of the journey.  It will be a challenge and won't come without more tears, but it will be exciting.  Our family will get through this ... together.  And while we are enjoying the ride, we'll be cheering "Go A's!" the whole time.  Who's with me?!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Celebrating 6 years ... island style :)

After celebrating our anniversary in Costa Rica last year, we decided to travel again for this years anniversary.  What better way to celebrate six years than in the islands?  It just so happens that our anniversary falls at a time in the year when the hubs and I are in need of a break.  Following a long baseball season, it's always good to reconnect, take some time to relax, and just enjoy time spent together.  

Our trip to Turks and Caicos was the perfect little getaway.  The resort was amazing ... pool and beach were beautiful, staff was super friendly and accommodating, spa was quite relaxing, and the restaurant had great food.  During our stay we ate at some great local spots, met some belongers (natives) that were full of knowledge about the island and other interesting stories.  :)

We spent our days on "island time" with no set itinerary.  We're so used to the everyday hustle and bustle that it was such a good feeling to just go with the flow for a few days.  Relaxing on the beach, by the pool, and curling up on the balcony with a good book was simply the best.  We snorkeled, went bonefishing, played some golf, enjoyed the fish fry that the belongers put on each Thursday night, relaxed by a bonfire, went shopping, and drank way too much wine. 

Turks and Caicos, you definitely showed us a good time!  The setting was beautiful, some of the skylines were the most beautiful I've ever seen.  Happy Anniversary to my sweet, thoughtful, and handsome hubby!  Here's to many more ...


Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween, did that really just happen?

Just like any other holiday, Halloween came and went super fast.  This year it totally crept up on us, leaving little time to plan our family costumes.  I guess it worked out better this way since Abby knew she wanted to be Sofia the First, a Disney princess.  Gone are the days of Mommy and Daddy conspiring together to plan coordinating family costumes.  Duck Dynasty surely would have been a huge hit! 

We had thought about dressing up as a royal family, dressing the little man as a prince.  But we simply ran out of time and truthfully I got a little lazy with costume hunting.  So for 2013, Abby went as Princess Sofia the First and Levi went as a dragon.  The hubs and I ... well I guess we went as ourselves.  So boring! 

Same as in years past, some of our friends joined us for dinner and trick-or-treating.  Abby was super excited this year, knowing exactly what to do, and anticipating how much candy she would receive.  Needless to say, the kids were NOT into picture taking and were ready to RUN!

Seriously... RUN.  Out of 8 adults, none of us could get our children to stand still for a picture.  There were no cute photo ops this year, no pictures of Abby and Levi together ... just pictures of kids running around in circles and they hadn't even eaten any candy yet.  Ugh.  This Mama was sad.

The kids first house.  Abby, Nick, and Isla ran to the door with giggles and shrieks of excitement.  And with a quick thank you, they took off for the next house ... and so on.

Unfortunately, Levi was grumpy.  He wanted to run, not ride in the stroller.  Scary, tempered dragon!

After trick-or-treating, these two party animals were ready to live it up.  (just like their Daddies ... uh hummm...)

Levi has the biggest crush on this sweet girl.  Aubri is just precious!

Who wants candy?  These kids were just happy to eat Fritos late into the night! :)

Thanks to everyone who came and enjoyed the evening with us.  Hopefully next year we can snap some more photos and have less mosquito bites by the end of the night. ;-)


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Preschool Trunk-or-Treat

Abby's preschool hosted it's annual "Trunk-or-Treat" event yesterday.  Being new to the school this year, this was our first time participating.  The hubs stayed home with the little man so that I could volunteer in Abby's classroom for the day.

It felt really good to get back into a classroom (especially as Abby's Mommy) and I just loved hanging out with these sweet kiddos! Parent volunteers decorated their trunks and the kids went from trunk to trunk collecting treats.  It was so cute and some of the parents really went all out decorating for the kids.  It looked so fun that Jim and I may have to be on trunk duty next year! :)

As you can see in the pictures, Abby is dressing up as Sofia the First (princess) this Halloween and amongst her class we had a waitress, ladybug, ninja, hotdog, Ariel, witch, cat, and a skeleton.  All adorable of course!  Abby talked the most about Collin's costume (hotdog), even weeks before the actual party.  All the kids thought it was hilarious.

After trunk-or-treating was over, the class headed back into the classroom for some fun.  Another parent volunteer and I headed up some Halloween activities.  We played "Pin the Broom on the Witch", made spider hats, and the kids enjoyed yummy spider cookie treats made by Miss Abby herself.

Once the Halloween festivities were all done, it was time for chapel.  It may have been my favorite part of the day.  Seeing all the kids come together, sings songs, and learn a lesson from Pastor Steve made my heart smile.  Abby is learning the most valuable lesson of all ... the love that Jesus has for us all. :)

It was such a fun day!  I'm so happy that we love the school, Abby's classmates, and the things she is learning.  It's such a perfect fit. :)


Monday, October 21, 2013

Life. Happens.

Here I go again, apologizing and seeking forgiveness for not posting anything in over a month.  I really can't keep saying I'm sorry over and over again, so I'll just say this ... life. happens.

It's been a crazy whirlwind the past month and a half.  Here's the rundown, friends.  Kids and I flew home mid September, with hopes of returning to Baltimore for playoffs in October.  Our house renovations weren't complete so thankfully dear friends let us stay in their condo in a nearby neighborhood.  Kids began a new school routine ... Abby started PreK (seriously!?) and Levi is still doing his three days a week.  Florida had lots and lots of rain.  I'm talking like four straight days of rain.  More delays on the house renovations.  Orioles ended the season, earlier than we had hoped and Daddy came home.  Still at temporary house.  Hubs had to sleep on sofa since Abby was bunking with me.  Not a fun way to start the offseason.

Finally we moved back HOME a couple of weeks ago.  My parents were here and thank God for that ... we needed all the help we could get!  We are enjoying being home and are looking forward to everything being done with the house.  It's an absolute dream to call this house our home.

So as you can see ... it's been crazy.  But life. happens.  Life IS good!

Here are some pictures from the O's family day... just a few months late, but can't pass up not sharing the fun. :)

Little boy with the field all to himself.

Playing baseball with The Bird.  

Levi is mildly obsessed with him ... 

One of the best face paint jobs ever.

And here it is folks.  Abby played catch with The Bird and Tucker.
Those of you that know Abby, know her dislike for mascots.  
This was the closest she has been to him, at least with a smile on her face!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Sweetness.

Levi loves this little guy at my parents house .... 

So much sweetness.  Just makes me laugh :)


Friday, August 23, 2013

Ahoy mateys!

Arrggghh! For Abby's 4th birthday we celebrated in true pirate fashion aboard a pirate ship!  Back in May, Abby and I joined some friends on "The Fearless" and had a blast, which gave me the idea to invite more family and friends along for one, big party!  A party to celebrate Miss Abby's 4th birthday.... (4th?! Really?!)

It was a beautiful day, a bit warm but thankfully not as hot as it had been.  Everyone participated in the pirate fun ... a little dancing, a little singing, and some pirate games.  Levi and Abby both got to steer the ship, which Abby of course thought was super cool.

We all dressed in costume, got tattoos, and wore eye patches.  It was such a fun time catching up with old friends and new .... 

I put together a slideshow that best shows the fun everyone had.  All photos in the slideshow are courtesy of a fabulous photographer and friend of mine.  Thanks, Jewell - you captured the day wonderfully! :)

And to sum it up - this is just some of the fun :)

Happy Birthday, Abby! :) Arrgghhh!


Friday, August 16, 2013

A little getaway

Since having kids it's been a bit more difficult to travel with the hubs on road trips.  I guess it was more of a decision that the both of us made, that being on the road is sometimes exhausting enough and to throw the kids into the travel can easily double that exhaustion.  It's easiest for our family to let the hubs travel and for us to stick back to our everyday routines.  When the kids get a bit older, we'll start to travel a bit more, but until then the occasional road trip is enough.

I also like to go on one road trip a season, where it's just me and the hubs.  Last year was Seattle and this year when the schedule came out, we knew it would be San Francisco.  This trip would allow me to get a little getaway in the midst of a long West Coast road trip, including a rare off day.  What better way to spend an off day in Cali?  Napa Valley?  Yes please!

And that's where it all started ... First stop, Nickel & Nickel Vineyards.  Friends (and neighbors) of ours from Florida met us there and helped set up this fabulous day.  Nickel & Nickel, one of Jim's favorite wines was a spectacular tasting.  The property itself was amazing, our one-on-one tasting was so special, and I actually enjoyed some of the red wines.  For those of you that know me, you know I love my whites!

Such a beautiful setting ... everything was perfect!

I loved this old barn on the property.  The owners of Nickel & Nickel located this barn in New Hampshire, loved it so much that they bought it, and had it taken apart piece by piece.  Each piece was numbered, transported to California, and then put back together.  It was gorgeous!

I especially love this picture on the bottom left.  Jeff with a classic photo bomb.

Next two stops ... Bevan Cellars and Archstone.  Both wonderful tastings!  This lady from Archstone had a pretty special story.  Her and her husband bought this property with no intention of growing grapes.  Someone recommended they have the soil tested, which they did ... and now they make some of the finest wine in Napa!

It was the most gorgeous day in Napa with friends that made our day a memorable one we'll never forget! Thanks Jeff & Barbie! :)

The rest of my stay in San Francisco was packed of touristy moments.  I wanted to make the most of such a short visit.  Cable cars, Alcatraz (will tour next time), Pier 9, Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street, Bay Bridge, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge.  

The wild sea lions at Pier 9 were fun to watch ... they can put on quite the act for you!  Jim and I indulged in some yummy food and desserts too.  Flour + Water had amazing homemade pastas and Epic Roasthouse was one of the best meals I've ever had!  Definitely recommend it!

Of course I took in some baseball while in San Francisco ... Quite a unique ballpark, overlooking the water full of boats, kayaks, and cars.  Yes, you read that right ... there were two cars driving in the water!  My favorite part of the ballpark - Levi's Landing. :)

A special thanks to Sue & Mike ... the kids had a wonderful getaway of their own!  Thank you for giving Jim and I some "couple time" - it's something we look forward to and appreciate so much. :)


Thursday, July 25, 2013

All Star Break

When baseball is such a huge part of your life, three words can mean so. so. much.  All Star Break.  Three whole days of family time ... something so simple, yet so amazing halfway through a busy season.  Last year when Jim was selected as an All Star, our break (or lack thereof) wasn't as relaxing as it usually is, but it was an incredible experience and I would love to do it again.  Hopefully his career will allow that to happen in the future!

The weekend before the break, Levi had been sick with a stomach bug.  I honestly thought that maybe he had just eaten too much the night the vomiting began, but later it seemed there was more to it.  After the game on Sunday we headed to my parents house for the first night of the break.  After dinner Abby started to complain that her tummy didn't feel good and before we knew it, we realized it was her turn.  Then the next morning, I started .... the stomach bug had officially taken over and it was NOT how I was hoping our break would begin.  :(

Thankfully everyone else kept the bug away and had a good time.  Baseball in the yard, sprinkler fun, and some slip-n-slide action.  I wish I had video of Jim sliding on this thing.... he was one, big kid out there!  

Later that afternoon, while I was laid up on the couch, Jim went on a boat ride with the kids, Heather and Emily.  Despite the heat, I think they all enjoyed it!  

Thankfully everyone was feeling better on Tuesday, so we were ready for some fun!  We headed out to Port Discovery with the kiddos and Sue and Nick joined in on the fun.  Abby always loves this place ...  the market, the gas station, the diner ... she can always find something to keep her busy.  This was the first time Levi was able to explore on his own and he enjoyed soccer, sitting in the car, and the toddler area.  Such a great place for kids ... and adults. :)

Tuesday evening was all about some adult time!  Some of the Branca gang joined us for a water taxi ride, dinner, and a relaxing night.  Jim and I picked a new restaurant based on some recommendations.  Food was yummy, wine was tasty, but the time spent together was much better than both of those combined!  :)

Our last day of break was spent relaxing .... some down time at the house and a small BBQ with friends.  So much fun and many wonderful memories made.

Baltimore has become such a special place for our family.  I hope we stay here for a long, long time!  Now let's get the second part of the season underway ... Go O's! :)


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Pout Pout Face

Poor little guy just wanted to eat the paint ... sorry bud.
Still the cutest, even with a pout pout face :)


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Picture Overload, Chicago Style :)

Earlier this month, Abby and I went on our first roadtrip of the season.  We had debated taking both kiddos, but ultimately decided that Abby needed some one-on-one time with Mommy and Daddy and Chicago was the perfect city for that.  Chicago is not only a beautiful, clean city (one of my favorites), but it offers a lot of different things for children.  Abby was so excited for her "special" trip .....

And special it was.  We stayed at the Trump Tower, which of course I was super excited about.  The nicest hotel I've been so far.... and Abby was spoiled like a little princess during our stay.  Slippers, robe, stuffed animal, snack upon arrival, cookies and milk, coloring books .... She was in heaven!

The first day in Chicago was an off day so we spent the afternoon at Shedd Aquarium.  Wow, what a place!  Abby took her own pictures with her Daddy's phone ... so cute.  

The aquatic show was amazing... the best I've seen besides shows at Sea World.  We were able to see beluga whales, dolphins, and penguins in action.  Abby was really into it and didn't take her eyes off the show!

Even though the show was a favorite, Abby's favorite of all was the penguin exhibit.  We watched them for a long time.  Watched how fast they could swim and watched a Daddy penguin with his baby.  So sweet.  Then Abby dressed like a penguin (Mommy too) and had fun with all the other kids.  :)

The next day, Abby and I went on quite the adventure to the American Girl Store.  I was overwhelmed as soon as we entered this place, haha.  Girls of all sizes, from little to preteen, wanting this and that and everything else.  It was crazy!  Thankfully my girl was content just pushing her dollies around in the double stroller.  And thankfully she didn't throw a fit when I told her the stroller wouldn't fit on the plane ... sweet deal, birthday gift ordered! :)  Abby enjoyed watching her dollie "Maddie" get her hair done, along with a special facial treatment.  Then we took Maddie to dinner in the restaurant, where she was able to dine with us!

We were busy from sun up to sun down.  Aquarium, American Girl, movies, swimming, bowling, and baseball.  The hubs and I were even able to sneak in a Mommy/Daddy dinner date after a game.  

Abby felt special and she enjoyed having our full attention while on our trip ...

... and this little guy enjoyed his time away from his sister.  Levi had a little vacation of his own!  Full of playtime with the Branca gang! :)