Friday, January 31, 2014

American Girl Experience

When the girls were little, we always thought Breanna would be our little Miss Priss and that Caitlin would be the one we would have to pry out of the dirt and find every way possibly to keep clean. Oh, we were so wrong on that one! Breanna is our athletic, tomboy and Caitlin is so prissy and girlie. When we mention dolls or real girlie things around Bre, she will cringe and let us know quickly how dolls are simply not her thing. Yet, as the teenage years have quickly snuck up on us, she is quick to add a touch of make up and stylish clothes before leaving the house.

Caitlin, on the other hand, is in love with dolls of all types and sizes and still has such a sincere innocence about her. One that I adore and pray she keeps. It amazes me to watch her as she is still a child and not growing up too quickly, nor is she trying to be something that she isn't ready to be.

With both girls, we let them be who they are in life. Of course, with limitations if needed.

For Caitlin's Birthday, she asked all of our family and friends that were attending her birthday for money or American Girl gift cards. She told us all that she would love to purchase an American Girl Doll at the American Girl store in Alpharetta, GA.

The Saturday before Caitlin's birthday, we held her party at our house. We kept it small so that Kevin could handle it, yet sadly, none of Caitlin's friends showed up after they told her they would. It broke my heart to see the tears flow when she realized none were coming. It is something I will never understand about this area and something that hurts me more than words can say. Both girls have now experienced this and it breaks my heart. Thankfully, our family was amazing and helped make sure Caitlin enjoyed her day.

Leave it to Paw Paw to give all ones...
After lunch, Caitlin requested she opened her gifts first, so of course without any questions we let her. She was so excited to see that everyone gave her money and gift cards and it would allow her to pick the AG doll of her choice.

Caitlin was one happy little girl at the end of her party and so thankful for everyone that attended and all that they did to make her wish come true!

Caitlin's special day out ended up being the Saturday after her actual birthday. The two of us left our house a little before 9 in the morning and headed to Kennesaw to pick up Terri (Grannie) so she could spend the day with us. The three of us headed to North Point Mall in Alpharetta to shop at the American Girl Store. As we arrived, Caitlin began scanning the mall, in search of the red and white American Girl logo. As soon as she found it, her tone went up a few octaves and pure excitement kicked in! The mall was already becoming crowded and she restless I as searched for a parking spot. She was in awe as she looked at the mall and saw American Girl on the lower level  and a carousel on the upper level.

When we stepped out of my car and bundled up, I made Caitlin face me so I could capture her excitement with the American Girl store behind her. I personally think all of the photos of her day turned out very cute and showcased her happy she was.

Walked into the store, she could hardly contain the excitement that had built up inside and could not pick where to start looking! She was in amazement of all the dolls, the clothing, and accessories. Then could not believe her eyes when she discovered there was a hair salon for the dolls, as well as a place for their ears to be pierced. The cafe was a bit crowded, which was good because I could not see paying as much as they were asking for the little amount of food they were preparing per person. Thankfully, Caitlin was perfectly content with not eating there. Which, who can blame her - she was on a mission to find the perfect doll.

After searching and searching, Caitlin found the one that she wanted. It wasn't the one we originally set in for, but when she saw the Just Like You dolls, she knew without a doubt, she had to have one that was like her. The only problem we had was finding one with freckles, blue eyes, and hair like hers. The one she picked has bangs and her eye color is a little different. Other than that, she was able to find one with close to the same color hair and the same length, which made her one pleased little girl.

After picking her doll, Caitlin found a cute outfit to also purchase as well as a hair accessory kit. The kit includes curlers, a brush, spray bottle, and a few other things. It is perfect for her to maintain Elizabeth's hair. She decided on Elizabeth for her doll since Elizabeth is her middle name.
Caitlin showing the doll she picked out.

 After spending an ample amount of time in the store, we walked around some other stores, browsing through their displays before deciding on having lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. What an awesome choice that was! The food was delicious, but so filling that we all left with leftovers. A few of the servers came over and sang Happy Birthday to Caitlin and gave her a sundae, which I thought was super nice of them. Caitlin also decided to order an Oreo Milkshake, which was also very tasty. I ordered an Oreo Cheesecake slice to take home with me. It was HUGE! So much so, that when we finally made it home that night I only had a couple bites. The next day Kevin and I split what was rest, enjoying it all. It was by far the best cheesecake I think I have ever tasted!

 After lunch, we took our time, but made our way back to the car. We took Terri back to Kennesaw, then decided to spend a little time with my mom, Russell, and Ashton. I am sure glad we did because it was good to see each of them. Before heading home, Caitlin's money was burning a hole in her pocket, so we stopped off at Target. There, she decided to buy one of their Our Generation Dolls, which is the same size as her American Girl Doll. She also picked out some outfits, rubberbands, and hair clips.

We finally made it home after 11pm that night. It was a very exciting, but tiring day!

Me and Caitlin
Caitlin with her Grannie (Terri, Kev's mom)

And yes, she spent her birthday money on her doll and accessories, which made me very proud. Thank you to our family and friends for helping her get the one thing that she has wanted for quite awhile now. I also firmly believe that she will take better care of her doll, knowing how much everything cost. American Girl dolls are expensive and now she has gained a better understanding of it all.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

All I Want For...

All I want for.... well - his birthday???

Nicholas lost his first top tooth! Kevin and I were waiting for him and Caitlin after school in line with the other parents to pick them up when we saw Nicholas bouncing as he walked with excitement. As he got closer, we noticed a gap in his mouth and saw that a tooth was missing! Y'all, I don't even recall that one being loose!!!

And let me just tell you all, it seems the toothfairy must enjoy the raises it gives! I don't recall receiving as much as my little ones do now... Maybe someone should talk to that toothfairy.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Thank You, B

From an early age I came to know and understand what death is... I lost my great grandmother when I was five on the day before Christmas Eve and from there, death just became "common". Over my 30 years of life, I have lost family of all ages, as well as friends. I have seen many give their lives for our freedom, whether it was guys I went to school with or those Kev deployed with. I have seen close calls with my husband from his deployments. And, I have seen my own close calls with death - more than once. The most recent was in 2010 and that is something you never forget that has left me a better person. Life is precious and we are each so fortunate for every breath we take. Life is short and should never be taken for granted, just as we should never take for granted those around us.

Losing someone to death is never an easy thing to go through. To lose them at an early age just seems close to unimaginable. A year ago today a dear friend of mine from high school lost his life in a car accident. When I heard the news on Facebook, I felt like I could hardly breathe and quite honestly, didn't believe it to be true. That night and for quite a few days, I would break down into tears. Even now, the tears come so easily when I think about Brian no longer being here.

In so many high school memories, I see Brian. His sense of humor, smiles, and loyal friendship always made things better. I hate to admit this, but it had been well over a year since the last time we talked before his death. I thought about him often because our friendship has always meant so much to me, but life can get crazy sometimes. It breaks me to even write that because not often do we find true friends in this life, but when we do, we should always value those relationships.

I will never forget how he was there for me both times I went into kidney failure back in 2010. I remember feeling miserable, sitting in my hospital room or in my bedroom and talking to B. He kept telling me that I was going to be okay, then would change the conversation to something with bit more humor. I mean, we all know that there is absolutely no humor in the kidney failure. Yet, having a friend to laugh with made things better. Which, of course, talking to Brian the conversation was always full of laughter.

In many ways, I feel guilty that we had not talked the last year of his life and it makes me go back and analyze the friendships in my life. Allowing everyday life to take over is no excuse to not talk to those that we have real friendships with. How often do we keep the same friends in life? How often do people come into our lives, just to leave a short time later? Not every person that we meet is meant to stay - yet we always learn from everyone we cross paths with. Take time to think about that.  Take time to tell and show those around you how you feel so they never question it. Each life holds so much value and leaves a story to tell.

Tonight, I ask you to say an extra prayer for Brian's family as they look back on their life with Brian and this past year without him. Say a prayer for their strength. I am sure they need it. And keep them in your prayers from here on out.

Brian was more than a person - he was a son, brother, uncle, grandson, best friend, boyfriend, friend to many, loved by many, and so much more. He will forever be missed...

Hold those you love closer and cherish what you have with them. None of us know what tomorrow will bring...

Thank you Brian for being a friend in my life! Keep shining down! We love you and miss you!