White Pine, and the world over, according to Carina: the ordinary is extraordinary. A day filled with events that we adults often overlook as nothing more than routine, mundane, and normal is cast in a completely different light when viewed through Carina's wide eyes: it is an adventure into Wonderland.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Brrrrrr, ice! COLD!'--Carina

Tennessee is getting ahead of itself lately what with all this 'Winter' weather, most especially considering the 1st official day of Winter is not until the 21st. It's beautiful to look at, lovely to hold, but if it gets icy, consider us HOLED (up)!

 She just finished wiping off the glass with a dish towel so she could see out. And, yes, she did that all by herself, no prompting. :-)

Hiii, Mama, brrrrrr! (Mama outside-looking-in)

With 1/4"-1/2" of ice on everything yesterday, we hunkered down at home with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, fuzzy blankets, and Carina's antibiotics for her ear infection. 

 Jacques loves to be around his people: even if it means icy paws and slippery seats.

 Jared's Windshield

 The icicles were supposed to be in focus, not the tire. Oh, well.

 Took these for Carina. She loves Mamaw's bus.

  It was pretty blissful to have a full day together that wasn't a weekend since those seem to go by even faster than weekdays for us (boo!).

By the end of the day, we were all starting to feel a little cooped up and rapidly headed for 'stir crazy'.
Here's how we entertained each other:

You're jealous of our fun, aren't ya? ;-)
Carina was SOOOO excited to be going to 'skoooo' today for the first time all week and she's feeling so much better, too!

Happy Friday and only 8 days til Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Yes, you read that correctly: 'sssssnnnnnnnneeeeeeeewwwwww'. That's 'snow' spelled how Carina says it. Like how 'new' is pronounced, but take a deep breath and add a few S's to the beginning. 

We woke up to a world of white today and what a beautiful, fluffy snow it is! 'White Pine' is surely living up to its name today! Now, we understand that there might be a few 'Snow Grinches' out there reading this post who are probably far less than thrilled about the 1:40 ratio of rain:snow (some areas in the mountains already have 42") in our area, but we love, love, LOVE IT! We had about 2"-3", I'd say. Even driving in it wasn't all that bad. Just remember: always assume that everyone else doesn't know what the heck they are doing, 'slow and steady', and DON'T PANIC! 

Following those simple rules, we made it to Mamaw and Papaw's house for Carina to spend the day with them (and with Wee and the kitties) since her school is closed, then Jared and I made our trek together to work. During the ride, we had a conversation that went like this:

Jen: Snow Days just aren't the same when you get older. Remember how much fun Snow Days were when you were a kid?
Jared: Yeah...  (probably thinking fondly of snowball fights, hot chocolate, and collapsing snow forts)
Jen: We used to get out of school for a few flurries in Nashville. People just freak at the first sign of a flake there!
Jared: (laughs) Yeah, when we got out for snow, we definitely had SNOW up North.
Jen: I think growing up in the South and going to school down here have given me unrealistic expectations about Snow Days and what they're really like when you get to be an adult. Just another way that school doesn't necessarily prepare us for 'Real Life' scenarios...
Jared: How's that?
Jen: Well, the whole world doesn't stop for us now just because of a few flakes: adults go to work. So I definitely don't get to stay in bed watching cartoons and drinking hot chocolate today.
Jared: Yeah, it sucks. At least Carina will have a great day looking at it all out there through the window...
Jen: I'm sure she will...but I'm still dreaming of snuggling on the couch all day with hot chocolate and you two.
Jared: Me, too, babe...me, too.

Today's Snow (though these photos don't do it justice)

Wheeler Road, coming up on Mamaw and Papaw's... 
Out-of-season, but festive no less.
To Jared, From Jen

Mamaw's Pretty Wreaths

Sunday's Flurries // Christmas Card Photo Shoot Take 1
 Brrrr, baby, it's cold outside!

 She had to bring her friends: Lolly and Arrreeee (her frog sound)

 Tasting snow for the first time...

 Ugh, jeez, Mama, why'd you let me taste this stuff?!

 Taking it all in...

 These flurries move too darn fast to be so light and fluffy!

 Here, Mama, you taste it! It's delicious...I promise!

More Share-worthy Photos Taken During The Past Week
 Dada helping me put on my 'ring bracelets'. I must do this EVERY bathtime.


 Dada turned me into 'Toddler Santa'...

 and I think Honey Shea Johnson and Johnson's Baby Wash bubbles are delicious!

 Hanging out with Dada. He taught me how to play XBOX 360 like he does, complete with unbreakable, intense stare.

<3 I love Jacques <3

 Full-steam ahead on Mamaw's bus!

 'Byyyyye, bus!'

 Jacque's expression while Carina is running towards him: "Oh, crap!"

 Carina's expression while she's running towards Jacques: "I'm gonna get you!"

"Mama, bus?"
I'm sure Carina and Mamaw are having a blast hanging out together today. Maybe Jared and I can have a snowball fight after Carina goes to bed tonite. We would hate for her to get caught up in the crossfire...well, at least until she's big enough to hurl snowballs back at us!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Black Friday ---> Here Comes Santa Claus = Who-T-H put NOx boosters on my clock?!

I mean, seriously?! Where IS the time going? YESTERDAY was practically Black Friday and TODAY there are only 22 days until Christmas! This just further proves it for me:  

Thoughts? Anyone else's life flying by?

Yeah, I thought so.
I, Mama, have been one of 'those' people on Black Fridays for a few years now (while only taking a one year respite from this Holiday For Retail Insanity during pregnancy for a better cause: sleeping) and look forward to it just about all year long. Julie, you understand: you were with me at Opry Mills those Black Fridays of yore--and Opry Mills of yore, nowadays.  As any good, deal-loving, and thrifty Mother would, I took Carina as my partner in deal-hunting this year. 
Teaching the value of money early is important, you know. 

We hit Wal-greens to pick up photos (they can be seen further down) and then Kohl's for 65% off practically everything we purchased. Woo! Carina was Mama's Big Helper during our shopping trip because we didn't take her stroller along, however, this was not intentional. I had forgotten it in Jared's trunk since that's not it's usual place, so I was worried at first about losing her in the crowd, someone grabbing her (etc.), but she did incredibly well, stuck right by my side and she either held my hand or was right in my sight. 

There are just lots of strange strangers out there who seem to think that an adorable child is reason enough for them to get creepy and attempt to pinch her cheeks, tousle her hair, or try to get her to smile at them, which is especially disturbing when 'The Stare-er' is someone who resembles a pedophile, by definition. IF you're loved by us, then it's acceptable to coddle, tousle, and even lovingly gaze, but only as long as Carina is OK with it. Otherwise, don't invade our personal space and get offended when I ask you not to touch my child or we get the heck away from you, leaving you standing there saying,"Uhhhhhh, I was just lookin' at her. She's so purty and she was thinkin' 'bout smilin' at meeeeeee, Mama...". 
I mean, really.

*Dear Carina, your Mama and Dada are like a Mama Bear and  Papa Bear when it comes to you, at your current age, at least. We will strive to give you all of the personal freedoms, privacy, respect, and treat you as the age-appropriately maturing sweetheart you are in the years to come, but for now, the claws are out and the teeth are BEARed.*

While Black Friday shopping, Carina got to play with her current favorite article of clothing in the whole-wide-world: SHOOOOOOOOOES! And not 'baby' shoes, only 'Mama' shoes. She was completely uninterested in the baby shoes section, meaning I picked her up to see the selection, she pointed her index finger at them and blew a raspberry: PFFFFFFFT! Her favorite 'Mama' shoes was a pair of maroon crushed velvet ballet slippers with big, floppy bows. She scooted at her running pace up and down the aisle and didn't bump into a single person! 
I was so proud to have my Big Girl shopping buddy along! :-)

 Shoe Department at Kohl's: Carina's Inaugural Black Friday 2010

From the Shoe Department we moved on to the only department that truly matters: THE TOY DEPARTMENT. We found an unpopulated corner and parked our shopping bag and my purse so we could try out all of them! We've never been toy shopping in this capacity because normally we just pick out something we think she would like or hand her a few things to try out while she's buckled into either her stroller or the shopping cart. After tasting the freedom of THE TOY DEPARTMENT, I doubt she will ever be satisfied with just looking at the toys on the shelves again. So many things were already strewn on the floor that her playing with them, riding on them, and pushing the many noise-activating, ear-plugging-inducing buttons didn't make a difference in the organization of it all...since there was none. 
She really got excited about a few (65% off!!!) 'pretend play' toys, so while she wasn't looking I slipped them into our Kohl's bag. Carina is all about Little People and Weebles at school, so they will play a part in her Christmas this year. When she finished up and we left THE TOY DEPARTMENT without wailing and screaming (honest, she's a very well-behaved and calm babe unless she's well beyond over-tired), we made our way to the checkout counters. 

 Oh wait, what's that? 

There's a line forming? 

Oh, okay, honey, let's go get in line...at the end of the line...20+ people-ahead-of-us at the end of the line. 

At least the ones nearest us in line were very sweet women who were diehard Black Friday-ers like ourselves. A reasonable wait later, we made it to the front of the line, had our items scanned and I set to digging out my wallet from my oversized (terrible idea) purse. It wasn't there. 

***Insert ALL of the expletives that I was silently screaming: HERE!***

The very kind cashier held our not-quite-yet purchases while we power-walked out of the store and to the car. The whole way I was saying "Ohhhhhh nooooo..." to let Carina know something was wrong...and to keep from saying what I was REALLY thinking. Found the wallet in the car, wedged between the passenger side seat and the door, returned to Kohl's, bought the items, and crisis averted. Had it actually been lost or stolen, they wouldn't have gotten a whole lot from me except for a gift card with $95 left on it for The Fret Store; everything else I could have easily cancelled or replaced. 

As a result of my mantra-like chanting of "Ohhhhhh nooooo...", Carina has picked up a new phrase and uses it with amazing accuracy. For example: Mama's blueberry waffle slides off of her plate and onto the floor the next morning and Carina says,"Ohhhhhhh noooooo..." with so much sincerity and genuine concern, even shaking her head side-to-side for 'noooo'.
Everyday a learning experience. 

We were staaaaaarving after all that shopping and Carina answered my question to her of: 'What do you want for lunch?' with a 'BOK BOK BOK' for chicken. So, we ate chicken nuggets in the backseat together and talked about our adventure. By the end of her 3rd nugget, she handed me what little bit she had left, said "Mama. Eat." and reached for her beloved gah and gray puppy. We arrived at a red light after about 5 minutes of driving, I turned around to check on her, and this is what I saw:

She had shopped 'til she dropped. So sweet...

Now, about those photos we picked up at Wal-greens. I have been trying out my new-old camera, a Canon Rebel XS (early 90s or late 80s model) and below are my test shots that turned out pretty well, I think.

 I got to pick up Carina early from school, so we played on the playground for a while with her friends.

 Carina's Current 'Flame': Xander

The expression on her face when she first noticed me since I had snuck up to the playground while she was playing. To me it said, "Uhhhh, Mama, what the heck are you doing here so early?! 
We were just about to tie up our teacher and run amok!"

 This one is absolutely beautiful and really captures her candidly. 
I love it!

 Xander and Connor having a rocking contest!
Then Carina joined in...

We had so much fun playing together and with her friends and teachers! 
I hope Jared gets to do that with her soon, too.

I'm still learning how to use this SLR camera, but I'm getting a little better. Carina gets excited when I pull it out. She immediately noticed the difference between it and the digital camera: this one has a  BRIIIIGHT flash!

We have more photos and videos to post, so I'll add those to the next post. We're all looking forward to having the whole weekend together to go to a local craft fair, Knoxville to their HUGE Hobby Lobby, and taking Christmas portraits for those long-awaited annual Christmas Cards! If you want one this year and didn't receive one last year, comment and give me your address. They're just the best! I love taking pictures, but especially of our family. They tolerate me pretty well...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Apologies to Thanksgiving

Dear Thanksgiving,

You are important to us and you will be observed this Thursday just as you are every 4th Thursday of November. We will gorge ourselves to the point of no return and beyond recognition and we won't regret a single bite of it.

This year, however, we have begun celebrating Christmas prior to your passing. This is a first for us, too, so bear with us, and most especially with Carina. She's new at this holiday thing and though she is a master at schedule adherence in her daily routine, she's not yet aware of the order in which holidays occur according to calendar year. Yes, we her parents are fully aware of the hard and fast facts of the Gregorian/ Western/ American-Mayflower-Pilgrims ( etc.) Calendar in which Thanksgiving precedes Christmas, and, yes, we are using her lack of awareness to our family's collective advantage and impulse satisfaction, but, to be completely honest, we just couldn't wait to see the look on her face once the newest edition to our family, the Christmas-Tree-of-all-Christmas-Trees, had been assembled (yes, it's fake) and lit. Please forgive us this time, Thanksgiving, though I have a feeling it won't be the last.

Carina was appointed Head of Ornament Hanging and Arranging and excelled tremendously...

Jared was hard at work cutting and tying hemp twine to hang the ornaments while Carina continued her arduous task of inspecting and gathering shatter-proof (good thing they were, too...) ornaments. We decided to go with hemp twine to hang them because it doesn't feel like a tiny and annoyingly prick-y knife stabbing into your bare foot if you happen to step on it. Good call.

While Jared and Carina were hard at work, Mama was over-zealously playing with her camera (obviously) because...drumroll, please...IT'S WORKING AGAIN! Turns out it just needed new batteries. Thanks for that brilliant insight, Papaw. LOL! All day Sunday was so completely perfect that not much, if anything, could be done to improve on it. We got the tree up, it came pre-lit (score!) so we just had to hang ornaments, spread out a super-soft, neutral colored, and useable-year-round blanket around its base as a treeskirt, and imbibe. It was the first time I've ever had a beer in one hand and a Christmas ornament in the other and it was such an oh-so-satisfying-feeling. Festive in more ways than one, no doubt!
Our recently discovered and current favorite:

And then there was dancing. There has to be festive dancing whenever the Christmas tree is getting decorated. Normally, families listen to Christmas music and get all wrapped up in "Silver Bells", "Blue Christmas", and rock out with "Jingle Bell Rock", but Carina opted for Jason DeRulo's "Whatcha Say". She loves Pop music: the more complicated the beat, the better, it seems, too. Since Christmas music isn't on the radio yet for this Holiday Season, it was a (somewhat) fair trade off. I'm hoping she takes to overplayed Christmas music as enthusiastically as she does to overplayed Pop music...

One can hope, right?

She cares an awful lot about her tree: she says,"Hi, Tree!" when she first sees it (either first thing each morning or when she gets home from school) and says,"Bye, Tree!" whenever she's leaving the room, even at bedtime. Mamaw said it best,"She's really going to get into Christmas
this year..."

It looks like she's well on her way.