Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Five? Really???

I really can't believe my eyes. My sweet little niece is five..FIVE! I mean for real, it is just insane to me. She is absolutely beautiful and very well behaved. She is an excellent helper when it comes to her little brothers and little cousins (she is the oldest in NWA) It feels like I just wrote this but no.. that was a year ago. She is FIVE!! Oh my!Just like last year and the year before we went to Little Gym for Anna's birthday. I tell you these people I have this thing down to a science. They shuffle us in, play like crazy to make the kids tired, feed some cake and ice cream and then shuffle us out. GENIUS! This is one of those "Why the heck didn't I think of that??" moments. Oh well, I love this place!

Some of the little ones didn't quite listen at the beginning. I am afraid this will be the story for years to come with these two. Heaven help me!

All the kiddos took a turn on the balance beam. I was quite impressed with their skills.
Then it was time to "smack the cake." I think I have memorized the routine here and could probably do it with my eyes closed. But I (as well as the kiddos) love every minute of it. I am still amazed how they can get 30ish 2-5 year-olds to line up on a wall and wait there turn. Talent!
and then "SMACK THE CAKE!" My brother-in-law always gets in the action. It is a good time for all!

We put baby Campbell in a confined circle so she wouldn't get "smacked by the cake" she was happy as a clam!

Ben has recently started this silly face. I did my guesses --fishing? robot? Buzz Lightyear? --He told me no on everyone.. I guess we will have to wait until he tell us what this nonsense is.

Chaz found the foot-hand-hand-foot pattern that teaches a cartwheel. I, of course, had to step in and show him what that was all about. I was in gymnastics for so many years, I think that is why I love this place!
And one of my favorite parts.. Hide and seek. I love this because you have to remember you are dealing with 2-5 year-olds. They aren't the best hiders. Most kids under 3 have the philosophy "if I can't see you, you can't see me" Notice Ben in the bottom left picture. Brilliant! The right side is a bunch of boys (mine is in the middle) who decided to get behind a mat and lean it up against the wall... pretty good one!

Anna and some friends ducked down in the circle (note Ben, at the top, in his famous position) and Jackson got behind another mat. He squished his face in the crack so he could see who was coming.
Then it was time for the big-blowup-jumpy thing. Probably my favorite part.

What are the weirdo dads doing??
Well the chicken dance, of course! Why wouldn't they join in with the kiddos??
And then it was time for cake.

or cheesy poofs if you are too young for cake and ice cream.
After the madness and fun of Little Gym we retreated to Anna's house so she could open her presents and the kiddos could play some more. She got baby doll beds from Mah and Dah. The boys were very excited about these cute little beds. If it doesn't have Toy Story, Phineas and Ferb, Jake and the Netherland Pirates, trucks, ninjas, trains or robots I simply can't relate.
They quickly turned back into boys when they found the trucks. HA!
And Anna was over the moon to get "Silverlicious" from Chaz. Again, I can't quite relate to this little girl stuff. Maybe one day. Happy birthday sweet little girl. You are absolutely adorable and ever so sweet. We love you so much and can't wait for the many years to come!! You are our sweet little Anna Banana!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Work friends" are really so much more.........

When you suffer a loss you tend to migrate to your friends and family. You grieve and share stories. You cry. You laugh. You try and determine how you will move forward with your life without forgetting the wonderful memories of this person who was close in your heart.

I went through this last week. WE went through this last week. Who is "we?" My friends. My family. No, not the family I normally talk about. Not my parents, in-laws, nieces, nephews, brother and cousins but the people who sometimes get classified as my "work friends."

We suffered a tragic and sudden loss of one of our own. Justin Leland passed away early Wednesday morning. He was my co-worker for 5 plus years and my friend for just as many. And on this very morning, I was about to learn how much my "work friends" were in fact my family.

I will never forget walking into work that Wednesday morning. There was an eerie silence about the building. A group from my team, including Justin, was to travel to Dallas that morning but around 8:15 I received an email from one of the guys stating he would, in fact, be in the office that day. This struck me as odd but I figured there was an explanation and I would grab him later to discuss. When I placed my things at my desk I found it odd that I wasn't greeted with the typical "Hey!... what's up?..... good morning." Nobody said a word. One of my coworkers turned around and I quickly realized, from the tears in her eyes, that something was wrong. She told me we had lost Justin. The flood of emotions and disbelief came quickly and the rest of the day really seems like a blur.

Within hours leadership came together to make sure everyone was able to take care of themselves. There was fellowship. There was food. There were hugs, anger and tears. There was little to no mention of work as this was bigger. Bigger than work. Bigger than any concern we had when we left the day before.

Since having Chaz, I have become the person that says "Work is work." Although I really like my job and I have passion for what I do, I realize I am not a brain surgeon. I don't save lives. I know my work is not life changing. I have actually battled this before. "Am I doing enough? Is this where I need to be? Could I do something that would be more impactful?" The obvious answer is yes. Yes, I could do something "life changing" but I like where I am and Wednesday of last week, I realized why.

The people. The people I work with are who kept me here for nine plus years. These people are full of strength and compassion. These are the people who gathered in a small room to cry, tell stories and just give a hug at a time of great loss. These people who I pass in the hallway every day and ask "How is it goin'?" really care. They cared about Justin. They care about each other. They care about me. We are all suffering together. As a family.

As the days have passed, they have not gotten any easier but there is comfort in the fact that we are there for each other. We are going through this together.

There was a celebration of Justin's life Saturday night that I was honored to attend. Within moments of walking up to the tent I confirmed what was already known amongst the people who knew and loved him. Justin had left his mark. He was an incredible man who had an impact on so many. Justin was quite simply one cool dude. Or as it was so eloquently put that night.... a badass. Justin was a badass. (which still makes me grin.) He was undeniably one of a kind. He could make you laugh. He would make you think. He would make you ask "why?" He had the most unique, quirky mannerisms that just made you love him. He was Justin. There will never be another one like him.

I remember about 3 or 4 years back Justin and I were working on an ummm....challenging project. Needless to say, there was a lot of stress, frustration and many long hours. The turning point was a moment with Justin. He looked at me and said "Thill, you know how I figured out you were cool? When you cussed back" ... that makes me grin too. He was right. Once we let down the "work guard" and started being real, we became friends. He was real. He was true. He called it as he saw it. This is what he taught me. Be true. Be real.

The night of the celebration, there were people there who had been gone from the company for years, who lived in different states and who I honestly never thought I would see again.. except for Facebook, of course. During the still, moments of silence, you could see people scan the place to give a smile, a wink or a head nod. It was as if to say "We are in this together. We are not going anywhere." There were moments of kind words, tears, music and wonderful stories. There were hugs with no words. Just hugs. All of this with the background of a beautiful moon and crackling bonfire. This was just as Justin would have wanted it.

I love my "work friends" now simply known as family. It is sad that something tragic has to happen to have you realize what was there all along. But I think we learn from all experiences in life, or we should. I have learned to slow down. When I ask someone how they are doing.. I need to really listen to the answer. Really listen. I need to check in on those who need it the most. We need to really appreciate the ones around us. Really appreciate. This goes for both at work and outside of work. We take far too many things to granted.

I will never forget this week. I wish I could wake up from this terrible dream. But I can't. My family can't. We never will. Rest in peace, my friend. There will never be another you.When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile~ unknown

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

February Randomness....

February randomness, oh how I love you!! We have a few stragglers from January but I figured they needed a home as well. So here you go..

My sweet pea and I at Chuck E Cheese. He never, I mean never, sits still for this picture machine. I love, love, love the pictures that come out of this but usually we get half of Chaz, the top of his head or a screaming kiddo. This one is gold in my book.
One evening at my parent's house Chaz was doing everything in his power to avoid bedtime. He is three, you know? This one was too funny not to get a picture. He laid on the floor and used a tinker toy as a weight. "I am working out!" I haven't a clue where he got this from because neither his father nor I work out.

One Sunday, Cameron and Marcy were taking Jackson to Tulsa to see a Mickey Mouse show at the Expo. Mah and Dah were also going to take Anna and Ben as Brandon was on the mend from a recent tonsil surgery. We, of course, decided we couldn't miss out on this bit of fun! We hopped in the car with the boy and headed that direction. Chaz was beside himself with excitement. I couldn't tell if he was more excited to see his cousins or Mickey.
When we stopped to meet up with all the Hills, Mah gave Chaz a bag of powdered donuts. He was over the moon!! And a big mess!
All the kiddos were very good. For the most part they remained in their seats or on laps. It was very dark, so I wasn't able to get many pictures but you can tell by this one that the boy was having a grand ol' time!
Mah also brought a bag of candy. Yes, total grandparent! But the kiddos LOVED the treats. We knew naptime wasn't going to happen anyways so what the heck! Chaz quickly discovered a love for Starburst. Although, this video is only a half a second long (I had my phone on video instead of camera) I giggle at the lick every time I see it.

Dah had a GREAT time. HA!
Mah on the other hand, oh poor Mah. When they were dimming the lights she was in the middle of moving a row down and missed the step. In her defense, the step is a pretty tricky one AND a portion of the railing is missing. Seriously? Anyways, of all the Hill's that were present I was the only one paying attention. Somehow my little self leaped over a woman and managed to grab Mah's leg before she tumbled down to the bottom of the stairs. Yes, it was a sight to be seen. When she fell she managed to spin and hit her head on a pole. It wasn't until they turned up the lights at intermission that we noticed the gash on her head. Oh, what you do for your grand kids! As time progressed, she also realized she has a badly bruised/twisted ankle and an infected cut on her leg. Poor Mah!!
In true "Disney" form the hallways leading to the exits were covered with stands of goodies. Mickey wizard hats, snowcones, snowcone holders, cups, straws, weird light-up thingies, foam hands, etc... The boys were a little excited about this.We got suckered.. Snowcone and a Mickey wizard snowcone holder for us. So as if a snowcone in an odd Mickey Mouse cup wasn't bad enough... they only had the dreaded red/blue snowcone juice combo. Ugh, who came up with snowcone colors?? Obviously they were not a mom nor did they EVER do the laundry. We were actually lucky and made it out with minimal mess. I asked Chaz to show me his messy mouth.. Pic 1--Fail.
Pic 2- Success .. Although you cannot see the detail of the damage.
Cameron had to take one for the team and eat Anna's snowcone. For some terrible reason the girl cup didn't have a screw on lid but rather a flipback one. WHAT?? Again, not a mom and didn't do the laundry!
We had to make a quick trip to Babies R Us before we left Tulsa. It is a little absurd but no matter how big our little NWA area gets we are missing some MAJOR retailers -- i.e. Babies R Us. We have a Toys R Us but it just isn't the same. We went to look at car seats for Campbell. I guess we were testing the attention span of the little ones because they discovered this empty endcap and decided to put on a show. You can tell a few things from this video 1) Anna is the oldest and wants to give direction 2) she is the girl so she gets frustrated with the boys 3) the boys pay ZERO attention to her direction.. or even her talking. Get used to it girlfriend! Such is life.

As I was wondering through the aisles, my attention span was tested as well, I noticed this little beauty. Remember: It is not my fault that I notice these things. I have learned this from My Friend. She notices EVERYTHING and I guess I have started picking up this little illness. Oh well! I think this is hilarious. "Honey, just get in the cage by the fire. Mommy promises it is ok. Stay put while I mix myself another drink." Really? Someone didn't think this one through...
As you are well aware...we had a little, well maybe a lot of snow in February. One day before it melted this little guy escaped on the way to the car. When I put him in the car he had a little snow on his shoe.. Well, lets just say he took care of that problem.
A little stopoff to one of my favorite shops in town--Riffraff. While we were there we happened upon these cute little "lips on a stick" We just had to break the shop rule of "no pictures" I think it was worth bending the rules a little. I heart him.
According to my husband, one of the "musts" when building our house was a television in the bathroom. I know. We wired for everything but held off on getting the actual T.V. until this Christmas (Thanks Mah and Dah!) Note: the mount just had to be in the most perfectly thought out place, says my hubby. What is that place? Perfect line sight from the potty. Yep. There it is in print. In my blog. I can't believe I shared that. But there is a reason I tell you this. One morning Ryan found Chaz on the potty, lid down just using it as a seat, eating his breakfast (I know) watching Phineas and Ferb. Needless to say, I was a wee bit grossed out when Ryan sent me these but once I got over that I realized it was actually quite funny! Note: I cannot be held responsible for the nutritional value of this breakfast as I wasn't present at the time of consumption.

Nothing makes a day better than a 3 year-old laughing hysterically! Nothing.

I was flipping through Ryan's phone one day to ensure I had every cute picture of my boys possible....and I found these. Yes, there ARE pictures of me out there and I DO get to enjoy the fun..sometimes :)
This is hands down my favorite picture of 2011, so far. I was blogging away one night and looked up to see this. Why wouldn't you perch on top of Daddy to watch cartoons? And can I just point out how my hubby just goes on like there isn't a toddler sitting on him. Love it!
Another random morning photo. Ryan often sends these to me just to brighten my day. Success.
Yeah, so as you saw a few pictures back this kid is odd when it comes to where he sits to watch television. This day .. in a bucket. My life is randomness. Thanks for visiting.