31 December 2009

a little link love

How about a little link love to round out this year? May God bless you all in 2010.

Room Re-Dos: Please tell me I am not the only one in love with Jennifer's kitchen makeover? I am SO inspired. Dan will probably kill me, but I would give anything to paint my cupboards white. I so love that look.

A Single Page: The creativity of some people is just so impressive. Can you believe that these were made out of a single piece of paper?!

New Goal: Looking at these photos, especially the fifth one down of the person on the raft, makes me want to book Dan and I two seats on the next flight to Chile. Some day we are going to visit the world's largest swimming pool. Mark my words.

10 Things You Must Do With Your New Mac: I saw this and thought of a few friends and relatives who all got new macs in the last month or so (or even just this afternoon!) and figured it might help a little.

Spell With Flickr: I can waste a whole morning playing around with this.


Yesterday we went with some friends to Wilmington. Since moving to North Carolina 10 months ago we have heard nothing but good things about Wilmington. It helped that the only Old Chicago in the state is there.

After putting ourselves into a pepperoni coma it was time to check out downtown. Apparently Wilmington has the reputation of being the "Hollywood of the East" with the largest studio east of Hollywood located here. Several TV shows and over 350 movies have been filmed here.

I am sad to report I didn't see a single famous person. Unless you count the autographed photo of Raquel Welch hanging in a coffee shop she once dined in. Which I don't. It wasn't for lack of trying.

While the girls froze walking up and down the streets of downtown Wilmington in search of some fun little shops (which there aren't really any) and/or some famous landmarks, the boys went and toured the USS North Carolina battleship.

We did manage to stumble across this prop from the movie The Hudsucker Proxy that was hanging up in one of the only shops we found.

While the shopping and famous landmark searches were met with disappointment there were all kinds of old buildings and graveyards that got me pretty excited. I could have spent all day there snapping photos. Except it was freezing and Mabry hadn't had a nap (in her defense she was still really good for the most part) and the sun was setting causing really bad lighting.

I am looking forward to going back there again for a photo walk. Maybe sometime in the spring when the weather gets a little nicer.

Have you ever seen a cuter little frozen 2-year-old? Look at those rosy cheeks and little red nose.

I hope you all have a great New Year. We are planning to be bums and just hang out in our PJs all day. I have lots of work to do if I am going to get the blog looking and running the way I want it to before the ball drops.

See you all in 2010! Thanks for a great year!

30 December 2009

aunt dana's

My dad has an aunt who lives about an hour from me. It has been 20 years since any of us have seen her, at my grandfather's funeral.

When I realized just how close we lived the suggestion was made that we should try and pay a visit while my parents and sister were in town for Christmas.

I am so glad we did. My Aunt Dana is such a sweet woman and so funny.

We also met her daughter, Jane, and her son, Johnny. Mabry took to all of them. At lunch she liked it when Jane would run a straw down her face.

At Aunt Dana's house there were lots of squirrels that would come up on the deck. There were berries that they would eat. Mabry LOVED those squirrels. Much of the afternoon was spent standing by the sliding doors just watching.

Hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday. You are half way to the weekend!

how i spent my christmas vacation

These are a few of the photos from our Christmas weekend.

Christmas Eve Mabry was visited by one of Santa's elves. He brought her, Dan and myself all new pajamas. It was fascinating for her to find presents waiting next to the advent calendar when she woke up in the morning. Like her outfit? The girl is all about the tutu some days.

Santa was very good to Mabry this year. Of course she thinks it all came from her Aunt B. Every present she opened she would say, "Oh! Thank you Aunt B."

The baby doll was a big hit. I'm sure it helped having every doll accessory known to man as the follow up gifts.

Check out these shoes, stylish.

Betsy brought her dog, Gunnar, down with her. Mabry loves Gunnar and she also likes hanging out in his cage. This provided lots of entertainment for her one night.

Cuddling with her Gamma. When you hold her like this Mabry almost always pats or rubs your back/arm.

I really liked this photo of Dan. The poor guy was having some sort of an allergic reaction at my great aunt's house. His eyes were all blood shot.

I have some more photos set to publish a little later on today.

One last thing, don't throw out your Christmas cards! St. Jude's Ranch will take them and recycle them into new cards for next year. What an awesome idea and a great cause. Please click the link to find out more.

29 December 2009

silly mabry and other nonsense

All of our Christmas company left early this morning. Now comes the fun part: cleaning the whole house in the aftermath of the holidays.

Of course to add to the stress, I have started work on redoing my blog look for the new year. Don't be alarmed if things seem all messed up for the next couple of days. The goal is to have it the way I want it by the first of the year.

In the meantime, I thought I would leave you with some silly videos of Mabry taken over the weekend.

Yes, those are pants on her head. My sister put her up on my dresser and honestly, I don't know what Mabry was doing. She gave us all a good laugh, though.

27 December 2009

winner winner

The winner of the book giveaway is Jennifer! I will have it in the mail for you in the morning. Hope you enjoy it.

26 December 2009

belated christmas wishes

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! We sure did.

I will be back at the beginning of the week with all kinds of posts and videos. In the meantime there is just too much fun to be had with a house full of company. Hope you all understand!

See you in a few days.

23 December 2009

book giveaway

As you may know I am a book reviewer for Thomas Nelson Publishing. A week ago a daily devotional book by Beth Moore and Kim P. Davis called Voices of the Faithful: Book 2 showed up for me to read and review. The next day another copy of the same book appeared in my mailbox. I called the publishing company and they agreed that a giveaway would be a great idea for the second copy.

This book covers a devotional and prayer a day for the entire year. What a great way to start 2010 off!

If you are interested in what others have to say about the book, check out some reviews here.

If you are interested in winning a copy of the book, just leave me a comment before Sunday the 27th at 5pm. I will pick a winner at random that night and post it back here. I will send the book out first thing on Monday so that you have it in time for the new year. Please make sure that I have a way to contact you if you are the winner so there is no delay.

all i want for christmas is a big box of bubbles

Yesterday the UPS man visited our doorstep and dropped off a huge box filled with presents and lots of packing peanuts.

Mabry walked into the living room just as I was finishing unpacking the box and declared, "BUBBLES!"

No time was wasted climbing in the box and making herself cozy.

Once she discovered the joys of throwing the bubbles, the entertainment was limitless.
Which meant, of course, that Daddy had to get in on the action as well.

She begged to be allowed to take her nap in with the bubbles. At one point even trying to shut the flaps of the box in protest. We refused, promising her that the bubbles and the box would still be there when she got up.

There was a compromise of having a story read to her while still in the box. Silly girlie.

(Side note: Santa Claustrophobia is a great children's book. Also, Murray Saves Christmas is another great one. I have them both on the must get list for the next holiday season. I know these will both be favorites for years to come.)

More bubble fun:

Thanks for the hours of entertainment Oakes Folks!

22 December 2009

christmas exchange

I may have mentioned a time or two on here that Mabry is Christmas crazy.

Every morning when she eats her breakfast she begs for us to put on a "Kiss-mass moo-bee." Yes, Virginia, Prep and Landing, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer have been getting plenty of airtime at our house.

She loves to yell, "Merry Kiss-mass" at anyone and everyone. Christmas books from the library have been her most prized possessions all week. They are especially grand when she has managed to drag the entire tote bag filled with books out to me and I can't help but read every one to her.

Of course the best part of all is Santa. Mabry loves her some Santa. She has sat on his lap a total of three times this year. Each time she tells him that she wants a baby doll. That's it, just a baby doll. Any old baby doll will do. I can't tell you how much this cracks Dan and I up. We have never prompted her with what to ask for and not only that, but before she came up with this request I had never seen her play with a baby doll. I mean stuffed sheep and bears? Oh yeah. A baby doll? Nope. Never.

Ok, that last statement is a lie. There was that one time way back in August...but other than that seriously, there has been no baby doll talk/play until Santa came on the scene.

Being the only child and grandchild has its perks. For instance when you tell Santa you want a baby doll, you not only get the doll, you get the whole baby care package. There are bottles, cloth diapers, a stroller, outfits, etc., all wrapped and waiting for Christmas morning. My parents had bought her a baby doll, but since that was coming from them, Dan and I decided we better buy a second one to be from Santa.

We both firmly believe in keeping the magic of childhood alive as long as we can. Once you loose it you don't get it back and honestly it is worth fighting to preserve. So if having two baby dolls on Christmas morning, one being from the Jolly Guy himself, helps keep the magic alive, so be it.

That is unless you make the mistake four nights before Christmas of asking, "Hey Mabry, what do you want Santa to bring you?" anticipating that you will get the same response you had the last 100 times you had asked.

Only this time you hear, "Um...a truck."

SCREECH. Back up. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. WHAT?!

"I'm sorry sweetie, what do you want Santa to bring?"

"Um...a truck."

"A truck? Don't you mean a baby doll?"

"NO! A truck."

"Sweetie, I think you want Santa to bring you a baby doll. That is what you told him. You want a baby doll."

"No! A truck!"

Of course this only leaves you with one option. After putting her to bed, you unwrap her baby doll and race to the store to pick out the perfect truck.

I can assure you that there will be no talk of Santa bringing her anything for the next four days, let alone asking what Santa will bring her. She is a fickle girlie it would seem. No sense in tempting fate yet again.

I will however be sweating bullets that I did the right thing by getting the truck and returning the doll. The last thing I want is to have Santa disappoint her on Christmas morning.

21 December 2009

big apple dreams

I practically grew up on a farm. The need for a yard and space were pretty much ingrained in my DNA.

We currently live in a development and there are days when I am ready to climb the walls because we have neighbors who live in houses I can see from inside my own house. As a kid, I liked it when I would look out the window and see nothing but fields.

Having said that, there are also days when I just want to sell 90% of what we own on Craigslist and run away to New York City. I think it would be so much fun to spend a year or two living with Dan and Mabry there. Seeing posts like this one, doesn't help either.

Of course, this whole post can be in direct response to the fact that I haven't cleaned my house in two weeks and it must be done today. A task that would be much less daunting if it were only a five room apartment.

Hi Ho Hi Ho its off to dust and mop I go!

Ps. Sorry for the lack of photos. I am hoping that I might just catch a break in all the rain we have been having to go play with the camera later this afternoon.

PPs. TOTALLY disappointed Natalie won Survivor last night. Love to hate him, Russell should have won. I'm just sayin'.

18 December 2009

the year in photos

I found this while passing some time tonight after I put Mabry to bed. I can't help but share. Some of these photos are really inspiring. If it wasn't pouring down rain right now I would probably be out with my camera instead of typing this. Some of the photos are just amazing. Others made me sick to my stomach, especially the 39th photo in the first set. I just sat at my computer and cried.

If you have a chance. Take a minute, ok well more like 30 minutes and check out 2009 in photographs.

dear mabry and a christmas party

Dear Mabry,

Please don't grow up too fast. I feel like the other night I put my baby to bed and when I woke up I found a big girl in her place.

That is all.



Last weekend was the big Oakes Christmas party in Western North Carolina. Dan and I loaded Mabry up and made the three hour drive to spend some time with family. Mabry even had a sleepover with her cousin Lindsay so that Dan and I could go to Charlotte after the party for our anniversary.

The party was a lot of fun. There was a pretty tree with presents for Dirty Santa and bags of candy for the kids underneath.

Lots and lots of yummy food.

Little girls dressed up so cute they couldn't sit still with excitement.

Lots of visiting.

But most important, spending time with family and celebrating the holiday season.

Dan, Mabry and I are already looking forward to next year.

17 December 2009

i heart faces constructive feedback

For my constructive feedback photo, I picked one of my favorites. I have only had my Rebel T1i for about four months now and am still in the process of learning all about it. This is one of my favorites that I have taken so far and I would love to know what I did right, what I could have done better, etc.

This was a photo that came straight out of the camera. F3.5 with an exposure of 1/2,500

To see more photos check out the i heart faces website by clicking the button below.

Ps. Anyone who reads the comments to this post, please understand that I am asking for constructive feedback.

16 December 2009

german jump wings

Every year for the last twelve years Fort Bragg has done a Toy Drop event where soldiers can earn foreign jump wings. You can read all about this year's drop here.

Out of the 700 parachutes that were available, Dan got one and earned his German Jump Wings. Mabry and I braved the freezing cold and were there to watch him take off, jump out of the plane and earn his wings.

Dan is one of the paratroopers you see in up in the sky in this photo:

The large German solider who pinned him was a rather intimidating fellow. Especially when he would pound the wings into your chest.

I took a video of the end of the pinning ceremony for the people on Dan's flight. The German solider is telling them that it is a German tradition that once you gain your wings the person who pinned you says something (I missed that part) and you respond "three times loud" with the German word for up. It is a little hard to hear at first because another plane load of paratroopers was taking off just behind us.

German Jump Wings from Jessica O. on Vimeo.

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