Tuesday, April 27, 2010

benchmarks for "B"!

Braxton has had a few benchmark experiences lately.....1. feeding himself with a spoon for the first time 2. getting his first black eye.

One of my favorite ways to teach kids to use a spoon is by giving them a bowl of whip cream!! I used to LOVE telling parents this idea when I was working. Come on, think about it! The bowl of interesting looking whip cream is placed in front of the toddler. A spoon is placed in his hand and directed towards the bowl. Just a small touch of the spoon to the cream is all that is necessary to increase the interest and then the spoon automatically ends up in said toddler's mouth. This tiny taste of pure yummy goodness is all the motivation required to continue the routine of putting spoon to bowl, scooping (or just simply touching!) and then bringing spoon to mouth. Perfect practice :) Braxton totally agreed.

Yes, you read correctly. My sweet 12 month old boy had his first black eye. While we were at the beach for Mymike's memorial service, Braxton was in his high chair eating. When he was finished, I started to take him out while my grandmother was talking to me. As I took the tray off, I looked up at her to finish my sentence, and before I knew it, he was halfway to the ground, falling FACEfirst onto the hard, kitchen floor. I honestly thought he had broken his nose. He cried so hard. And the black eye didn't even show up until the following day. But it lasted over a week....and it looked horrible! So sad. I am sure this won't be the last one, but it was pitiful that it had to be the first one at just a little over ONE year old!

"three and easy"!

Yesterday, Reilly had the first of five "Three and Easy" soccer practices. So. so. cute. The local soccer facility, Strikers, has a clinic designed for first time soccer players, around the age of 3yrs. They don't play any games, but just do fun little drills and exercises to teach some of the basics about soccer. Reilly has been SO excited about this!! And to make it even better, two of her best buds are doing it as well. They were so cute out there yesterday! She kept running over to Shawn and I (yes, daddy even got off of work early to come see!) and telling us "I did it!" everytime she kicked the ball, hit a cone, ran real fast, or whatever the object of the drill was! I just love seeing little kids chase after soccer balls :) Brings back so many memories from my own childhood!! Love it.

Reilly, Grace & Evan

love how Reilly was holding on to Evan for balance!! so cute.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Well, we did it! We took a trip and "did DISNEY"! And we had a blast! It was definitely a quick trip, which was perfect for our first family experience with the most magical place on earth. We knew that for a 3 year old, one of the 4 disney parks would be plenty. We planned to meet up with our friends, the Dreschers, at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and spend a day there, enjoying all the animals, pools, activities, etc. And it was perfect!!

DeeDee and Poppi kept Braxton in Greensboro while we were gone, which was extremely hard for me, but I knew it was the best arrangement since having a one year old at disney world would definitely take away some of the fun!!

Shawn, Reilly and I headed out on Friday afternoon and drove all the way to Jacksonville, FL where we got a hotel room for the night. Reilly was great in the car, as long as their was a mickey Mouse Clubhouse showing on the ipod that daddy had connected to the tv in the car :) Saturday, we got up and set out for our 2 hour drive into Orlando.


We arrived at the Animal Kingdom Lodge just before noon and headed straight for the pool!! Reilly was so excited to go swimming in the gigantic pool. We spent some time checking out the animals on the property, including flamingos, giraffes, and several other savannah animals. It was so super cool to see the giraffes just walking freely around the resort property (of course they were in a contained area, but it appeared as though they were just roaming the land!). After a quick nap, we headed to catch the bus to meet the Dreschers at the Rain Forest Cafe for a fabulous dinner! We were all beat after a long day, so we got to bed early to prepare for Magic Kingdom on day 2!!

These are the best barstools ever.....


We woke up super early and caught the bus over to Magic Kingdom. We were walking up to the gates a 7:55am! We were definitely among the first 30 people there...it was cool. After getting our tickets, we hung out in the "holding area" until 8:50 when they started the morning show. IT was so neat to be there first thing and the production they do every single day to open the park. After a song and dance by some random people, Mickey and the gang come up on the big tain and do a fun countdown to open the day!!! "10....9...8....7...." and I strapped Reilly into the stroller so we could take off as soon as the ropes were dropped!! We quickly walked down mainstreet, but couldn't pass up a photo opp in front of the castle before it ws flooded with crowds of people. Our first stop....straight to DUMBO! This was Reilly's first ever "ride" (other than the carousel at Concord Mills). she loved it! It started drizzling during the ride, but we didn't let it affect us one bit! (even though I HATE being wet by rain!). We checked out the Winnie the Pooh ride before shooing over to Toon Town for the opening there at 10:00. We were first in line to meet the princesses! Reilly has no clue who they are, other than being told, since they are on everything you buy for little girls this age! It was still fun for her to meet such "celebrities", and a good warm-up for meeting her true heroes. After chatting with Belle, Cinderlla, and Ariel for a bit, we went straight over to Mickey's house to meet the Big Cheese himself! When we got there, I was super surprised to see Minnie there as well!!! Reilly could hardly contain herself. I was a bit anxious to see her reaction to the characters. I thought for sure she would be a little hesitant and maybe even scared at first. NOT ONE BIT! She was so excited to meet them!! While we were waiting (less than 10 mins) to meet Mickey and Minnie, she was so precious just standing in line, staring at them in complete awe, and jumping up and down every few seconds with excitement. Shawn and I agree that her expressions when meeting the characters were EXACTLY what we'd hoped for.....SO priceless. We toured Minnie's house, which Reilly loved!,

Minnie's kicthen table and her sofa...
and then met up with the Dreschers to ride her first ever roller coaster...Goofy's Barnstormer (which quickly became her absolute favorite ride of all). She rode one time with Daddy and then was ready to jump right on with Ellie...all by herself! She probably ended up riding it about 10 times in all. I taught her to scream the whole way through and she never let me down :)

Even though it was pouring rain by this point, we didn't let it get us down! Our Magic Kingdom ponchos were just perfect and Reilly couldn't have cared less about the rain. All of us headed on over to the Tomorrowland Speedway so the kids could "drive" and then we ate some lunch. Buzz Lightyear also became a favorite ride for all the girls, and we rode it several times. We also hopped on the famous "Tea Cups" (spinning cups!), which Reilly laughed the whole way through...that's my girl!! Shawn and I took Reilly to go meet her other most favorite character, Daisy Duck. We got to meet Daisy and Pluto and then we took off to Frontierland, via the train, to try to catch Goofy and Donald before the afternoon parade. We were the 2 people back from meeting them and they were quickly swept inside due to the rain. Bummer. We decided to miss the afternoon parade since it was pouring rain at this point, and head back for a nap to prepare for the late night ahead. Reilly did so well going straight to sleep once we put her down for naps, which was so great since we were way off her normal schedule! We had an awesome dinenr at an italian style (Lady and the Tramp) restaraunt with the Dreschers and then headed out for more Buzz Lightyear action. James, Shawn and I rode Space Mountain, a super intense roller coaster, INSIDE, in the pitch black. One of the best things about the rides was the use of FAST PASSES. Wow, this is the best way to go! We never waited in ANY line for more than 10-12 minutes. Amazing. We caught some of the nighttime, lights parade, in the rain, and then headed back to Toontown for more Barnstormer rides. Reilly was getting super tired by this point, and even though the fireworks show is one that everyone talks about, we literally watched it while walking to the bus stop. We had high hopes of staying at the park until midnight, but we barely made it past 10:00!! She was cooked!!


We were SUPER lucky to get a breakfast reservation for Chef Mickey's on Monday morning. And honestly, this may have been the best money we spent the whole time we were there!! First of all, the food was awesome!, and secondly, the character interactions were priceless!! We got to see Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy. They all took turns coming to our table one by one, signing Reilly's autograph book, hugging her, taking pictures, and hanging out for a few minutes before heading to the next table. So fun. Reilly's friend let her borrow her Minnie Mouse dress, and I was SO glad! It ended up being super cute for Reilly to be dressed like Minnie during breakfast.

After breakfast, we hung out by the pool with the Dreschers while the girls played, ate lunch, and played some more.

We had an awesome dinner at an off-property restaraunt that Shawn and I LOVE...Sweet Tomatoes, and then headed back to the resort for some arcade fun before bed.


I couldn't get ready and packed fast enough to head home to my BOY! We pulled out of the resort by 7:15, ran through a close-by Chick Fil A for some breakfast, and were on the rode by 7:30 headed home!

It was so sad leaving. ALL the planning, ALL the anticipation, ALL the waiting and traveling, and then it's over SO FAST! We simply cannot wait to go back, do more, and soak up all that Disney has to offer! It truly is a magical place. Reilly had some birthday money that she got to spend, and she purchased a small Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto to go with her Minnie doll. She literally has been walking around the house with all four of them since we got home. They are her new friends and she keeps saying "When we go back to Disney World...." as if there's already a trip being planned in her mind!!! Can't wait til next time :)

For a FULL LENGTH (10 minutes!!!) video with tons more pictures and video clips, CLICK THE LINK BELOW:


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A legacy.

On March 31, 2010, my precious grandfather went to Heaven to be made complete with God. I never imagined the day that Mymike would leave this world and enter the gates of Heaven. I never believed that day could or would come...not for a very very long time. But Alzheimers is a dreadful, disgusting disease, and I am so relieved to know that he will NO longer suffer the horrible effects of it. His life was celebrated with two different memorial services; one in Ocean Isle and one here in Charlotte. He left a legacy. His life was full of service, commitment, honor, and discipline. He was an amazing man and an awesome grandfather.

There are several stories that stick out in my mind when I think about Mymike. One of the things that I'll never forget was how my brother and I would sleep out on the floor of the living room at the "farm" when we were younger so that we would hear when Mymike woke up around 5:00am to head out to the trash "dump" and then to the convenient store and then to Hardees for breakfast. If we weren't out there, so that he would literally have to step over us on his way out the door, there was no way we would get to go. It was such a special time, before the rest of the family, or anyone really, was awake. My favorite thing to get at the convenient store was those little carmel cream candies. Mymike was a pipe smoker and another thing I remember was sitting in his chair making all kinds of shapes, people, structures out of his pipe cleaners. I would sit there for hours just twisting and bending them and then pretending with whatever I created. Mymike had stories about everything. I remember his favorite story to tell about when he was a young boy was when he and a friend would tie a piece of fishing line to a wallet. They would then lay the wallet down on the sidewalk and jump behind a bush. Just when somone would bend down to pick up the wallet, they'd yank the fishing line, pulling the wallet out of their reach and totally freak the person out. Pranksters.

Mymike LOVED, and I mean LOVED, Reilly. He just had a special thing with her. During the last year or so of his life, it seemed like she was really the only thing that could make him smile and laugh. We tried to get those two together as much as possible b/c it was such a joy to him to have her around. They really had a special thing going. Mymike would just clap his hands and "rap" (his language was very jumbled and limited in the later stages of his disease) while she would dance and clap along with him. It was super special.

I'm so blessed to have gotten to spend such special times with my grandfather. I just wish there could have been more. But, we'll have all of eternity for that!

Michael Gregory Allen Mr. Allen, 77, of Ocean Isle Beach, NC, formerly of Charlotte, NC, died Wednesday, March 31, 2010 in the Universal Healthcare System, Bolivia, NC. Mr. Allen was a Graduate of Fork Union Military Academy. Upon graduation, he joined the United States Marine Corps and was proudly selected to be a member of the Presidential Honor Guard stationed at 8th & I in Washington, DC. After leaving the Corps, he joined the Continental Insurance Company in Richmond, VA. He continued in the Insurance business and was relocated to Charlotte, NC where he was elected as Director of the Insurance Advisory Committee. He became a partner with McPhail, Bray, Murphy & Allen that later became McPhail, Bray BB & T. His dedication to Civic work led to him receiving outstanding recognition. He was a member of the Charlotte Rotary Club for over 30 years, being named a Paul Harris Fellow; elected to appear in the 1967 edition of the Outstanding Civic Leaders of America, two consecutive years received the Outstanding Young Man Award from the Jaycees and Junior Chamber of Commerce: served as scout master at Sharon United Methodist Church for many years; a volunteer fireman with the Sharon Volunteer Fire Department; served for 5 years as Mecklenburg County Fire Commissioner and a member of the Charlotte Fireman's Relief Board of Trustees for over 30 years. He retired in 1991 after 23 years with McPhail Bray Murphy & Allen. Upon retirement, he moved to Ocean Isle Beach, NC to develop and run the Pelican Pointe Marina with two of his children. He became involved with the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department and was instrumental in the planning, location, and construction of the present Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department. He later became Chairman of the Board of Ocean Isle Beach Fire Protection Association, Inc. Mr. Allen was preceded in death by his brother, Earle Watts Allen. Surviving are his loving wife, Frances P. Allen; five children, Debra Allen Cash, husband William Boyce Cash, Michael Gregory Allen, Jr., wife Terri Barnhart Allen, Clay Babcock Allen, wife Dawn Eads Allen, Clarke Davis Allen, George Watts Allen; six grandchildren, William Brandon Cash, Lindsey Cash Turner, Michael Gregory Allen, III, Kristina Maria Allen, Carson Davis Allen, Cooper Clarke Allen; two great-grandchildren, Reilly Virginia Turner and Braxton Thomas Turner. Memorial services are planned for 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at the Shallotte Presbyterian Church by The Reverend John Causey and 11:00 a.m., Saturday, April 10, 2010 in the Sharon United Methodist Church, Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

EASTER at Verizon.

Last year, our church took on a HUGE new format for the Easter service.....hold it at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. Well, this year, Meck went back to Verizon for Easter...bigger and better! It's pretty cool to see the people lined up at the gates waiting to enter, and then see the lawn at this huge amphitheatre full of families with children jumping on bounce houses, climbing through mazes, and then picking up thousands of eggs during the egg "hunts". And then, to see everyone pile into the seats and watch one of the most amazing services ever. The worship, the drama, the message, all kicked up a notch. This year, Shawn and I were asked to be a part of the service for a special part after Jim's message. It was called "cardboard testimonies" and it was extremely impactful. About 30 church members from all stages of life basically gave their testimonies in anywhere from 1-5 words on a piece of cardboard. The front side of the cardboard stated what life was like before Christ came into their life and then the back side was displayed and their "new" life was described. Things like "Abortion"/"Forgiveness", "Rejected by the world"/"Accepted by Christ", "Addicted to drugs"/"Addicted to God's love", "Explosive Anger"/"Found Christ's Love", "Father of Lies"/"Father of Truth" were shared. It was really cool. There were about 3500 people in attendance and it made me proud to be a part of Meck. It took about 400 volunteers (all members of the church) to put on the event. When I arrived early to do some photographing, I found about 50 of them hand wiping EACH AND EVERY one of the seats in the amphitheatre to clear away the pollen that had coated them all. What service. The hands of Christ.

Easter....a tad late, I know.

We've had quite a lot going on in the last couple weeks, but I do want to take some time to update the blog for my own personal memory sake!

To celebrate Easter, Reilly's preschool class had a super cute Easter Egg hunt and picnic out on the playground. Being the fabulous mother that I am....I left the house forgetting the Easter basket, which I had to turn around and rush back home to get, and then got out of the car to see my precious daugther with her Easter bunny ears on, ready to go hunt some eggs...pulled out the camera to snap a pic....NO MEMORY CARD. Perfect. So, the only documentation I have of the special day are a few pics that the other moms took of my daughter. I swear, if I've done it once, I've done it a 100 times...why do I ALWAYS check to make sure I have fully charged batteries and memory cards when I leave for a photo shoot with my "big" camera, but never when I grab the "small" camera for a family photo opp??!

Friday, April 2, 2010

yes, 80+ degree weather, you are welcome anytime!

Ah, finally the temps are getting to the range that I LOVE! It has been in the mid-high 80s for the past few days and we have been loving it! The kids have enjoyed lots of outside play time and we are all looking a bit sunkissed already! Fabulous! Yesterday Reilly and I colored with some sidewalk chalk for a while while Braxton walked around the driveway. We've been eating lunch outside on our newly redecorated frontporch (pics to come!) and dinner out back on the screened porch! Last night, Shawn took the kids for a picnic and to watch the airplanes land out at the Concord Regional Airport while I had a photo shoot. Today, the kids and I went over to the Dreschers "ghetto beach" set up in the backyard with a beach umbrella, water table, and lawn chairs. My kind of afternoon!! After dinner we headed out for a special treat: ice cream at Baskin Robbins!! Spring, I love you :)