Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jack Bauer

My cat of 14 years, Casey, got sick on December 24th and passed away a few days later.  I was devastated.  Even though Casey was a nasty cat who spent his days hiding under the sofa, he was still my pet for 14 years.  I got him in college and he made the move with me from PA to VA and then from VA to MD. Casey hated everyone but me.  No joke.  He hated my parents, sister, ex-boyfriends, Rob, and my children.  Even though he would bite people from time to time, Rob and I couldn't bring ourselves to give him up because we knew that such a nasty cat would surely be euthanized. 

Even though we still miss Casey, we made the decision in January to adopt a kitten.  We went to the Frederick County shelter and found an adorable male kitten named "High-Five."  He was picked up along a country road in Thurmont by Animal Control two weeks before Christmas and brought to the shelter.  I dare say that this saved his life because we had snow over Christmas and the kitten might not have survived the freezing conditions.

The people at the shelter gave "High-Five" his name because when you put your hand out and said "high-five!" the little kitten would tap your hand with his paw.  I'll have to take their word for that because we never got him to duplicate this trick.

All four us got to meet High-Five in January and we thought he was the most adorable kitten. Alaina so badly wanted a female kitten so we could name her "Lily" but she was okay with the idea that "High-Five" was a male. We thought we'd be able to take the kitten home that day after filling out the application but that was not the case.  After we filled out the application, the shelter reviewed it and then called me that Saturday afternoon to schedule an in-person interview for that Tuesday (January 8th).  I put on my best June Cleaver outfit (complete with pearls) and went to the shelter for my interview.  I passed the interview and was able to take "High-Five" home with me.

Thus began the process of choosing a name.  We considered the name Cosmo (after Kramer on "Seinfeld") but finally agreed on Jack Bauer from "24."  Now we just call him Jack.

Daddy/Daughter Dance 2013

Alaina and Rob went to their very first Daddy/Daughter Dance on February 2, 2013.  The dance is hosted by the Frederick County Division of Parks & Recreation and was so popular last year, that this year they had two dances to accommodate all the guests.  Rob and Alaina went with our group of friends from church (they all have daughters!!) and they had a wonderful time.

As I was getting Alaina dressed and doing her hair and make-up, I flash-forwarded to her prom night and got a little misty-eyed at seeing the beautiful little girl in front of me; knowing one day she'll be a beautiful young woman.

Here are some pictures of Alaina & Rob from their very first Daddy/Daughter Dance:

Top Row: Gabe Benton, Rob, Chris Auth, Dan Long, Eric Anderson, Mark MacDonald
Bottom Row: Caroline, Alaina, Charlotte, Maurlea, Molly, Bella, Elizabeth, Taylor & Riley

Rob & Alaina's official portrait

Valentine's Day 2013

If you're a faithful reader of my blog you will know that Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays.  I always go all out for Valentine's Day:  homemade lollipops for the kids' parties, a gift or two for Alaina & Brady, a balloon for each of them, and Valentine's cookies.  One tradition I began last year is to decorate the kitchen in a Valentine's theme and we eat our dinner by candlelight.  It's very sweet and the kids love it.  Here are some pictures from Valentine's Day 2013:

Downton Abbey -- my new favorite show

I've always loved period dramas -- from Titanic to Somewhere in Time and everything in between, if there is a romance set in the 1910's with lavish costumes, you've hooked me!  Imagine my delight when I learned that Downton Abbey was broadcast on PBS in the US.  What a treat!  I missed the first two series so I didn't begin watching the show till this past January with series 3.  Series 3 opened with Matthew and Mary's wedding.  This was all well and good but I felt a bit lost since I had missed the first two seasons.  I immediately joined Hulu and got caught up on the first two series.  I watched all 16+ hours of series 1 and 2 in a little under one week!

All of us were stunned with how series 3 ended and are looking forward to seeing how Lady Mary begins life anew in series 4.  Here's hoping the US airing of series 4 will coincide with the UK airing so there isn't a several month lag which results in plot spoilers for fan over here in the US.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Christmas 2012

I almost didn't blog about Christmas this year because so much time has elapsed but I decided to write a quick account of this year's Christmas season.

We love Christmas in the Pond family -- the whole Christmas season.  We begin decorating the house the week prior to Thanksgiving and relish it throughout New Year's.  Every year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, we head over to Mayne's Tree Farm where we embark on the Great Tradition of picking out the Pond Family Christmas Tree.  This year's tree (a Douglas Fir) was exceptionally perfect -- 8' tall, full, and completely symmetric.  We decorated it with about 800 multicolored lights and 200 ornaments and it was a glorious sight in our front living room window.

Going to Mayne's for our Christmas tree is one of the many annual Christmas traditions we enjoy each year.  Here are some others:
  • The Kris Kringle Procession in downtown Frederick. This year we were joined by the Lawvers, the Doyles, and the Auths
  • Christmas Pageant at church.  Every year all the children's Sunday School classes at church put on a Christmas Pageant telling the story of Christ's birth.  It's always so wonderfully done with assistance from folks helping with the costumes and sets, to the children who memorize their lines and put in a few hours of rehearsals the day prior.  Alaina's preschool class dresses up as either angels or lambs.  The past two years she has wanted to be a lamb so we'll see if next year she'll want to be an angel.
  • Breakfast with Santa.  Every year our church hosts Breakfast with Santa as well as a Secret Santa Shop where the youth take the little children through the shop and they can buy their family members $1 and $2 gifts for Christmas.  This year, my gift from Alaina ROCKED.  She got me a gold makeup bag filled with brand spankin' new Avon makeup.  I WAS SHOCKED!  It was awesome!  You see, last year she gave me a frog tote bag so I was expecting a similar gift this year.
  • Watching "The Nutcracker" at the Weinberg.  This was my first year taking Alaina to see "The Nutcracker" at the Weinberg in downtown Frederick and I was thrilled with Mom, Cindy & Lauren decided to join me.  We had a wonderful time and are planning to make it an annual tradition.
  • Carriage ride in downtown Frederick.  This year we celebrated Rob's birthday on December 14th by taking Alaina & Brady on a carriage ride through the Baker Park area of downtown Frederick.  It was a chilly night but not overly cold so it was just perfect to look at the beautifully decorated homes surrounding Baker Park.
  • Baking cookies!!!  Lots and lots of cookies are baked throughout the month of December.  Our church holds a "Bake a Batch" fundraiser on the second Saturday of December so I bake a bunch of cookies for that, we bake cookies for our family to enjoy, we bake cookies for Santa, and then finally we bake cookies for my mother's Christmas dinner on the 26th.  It's no wonder we gain weight during the holidays!!
  • Attending church on Christmas Eve.  Every Christmas Eve we attend the Children's Church at 5pm.  This is the perfect church service for our family because both Alaina & Brady are so young.  The service is only 45 minutes long, features lots of Christmas carols, and an interactive Christmas message.  Alaina's choir sings at this service too so it's quite an enjoyable time.
  • Birthday Party for Jesus on Christmas Eve.  Following the Children's Service is our church's annual Birthday Party for Jesus.  Many of the moms & wives bakes cakes and cupcakes for the party and everyone sings "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.  It's always lots of fun.  After the birthday party is over, everyone wishes we each other a Merry Christmas and then they head home to wait for Santa to come!
Christmas Eve is my favorite night of the year.  The closeness.  The peacefulness.  The quiet anticipation.  The cookies and milk have been set out for Santa.  We have read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Alaina and Brady and tucked them into bed.  I love nothing more than sitting with Rob as we gaze at the Christmas tree with all the gifts under it, while we sip on a cocktail while watching "A Christmas Story" on TV.  This year Christmas Eve was even more special because it SNOWED!  We had about 2" of snow on Christmas Eve so we had a white Christmas!  It was perfect.

Then it arrives... Christmas morning.  I always wake up early to do my hair and makeup before I come downstairs to start the monkeybread for breakfast.  By the time Alaina wakes up I'm ready and waiting for her.  We then go in to get Brady and then the children come downstairs together and Rob & I eagerly anticipate their reaction to what Santa might have left for them under the tree.  One word: magic.  Christmas is magical.  There's really no other word that does it justice.

We always spend Christmas afternoon with my family in Chambersburg.  Then last year we began a new traiditon of eating Chinese food on Christmas night. All the other restaurants are closed so we decided to start this tradition last year where we would get Chinese takeout on our way home from Chambersburg (ala "A Christmas Story"). Fra ra ra ra. Ra ra ra ra.  It works out really well and Rob & I love our new tradition.

On December 26th we always head back up to Chambersbug for the annual Lucas Family Christmas dinner.  This year Chambersbug got about 5-6" of snow so everyone cancelled but we still somehow made it up to Chambersbugr (we brought Zoey and our overnight things because we figured we'd be snowed in).  The kids had a good time sledding in my parents' front yard.

Here are some pictures from Christmas 2012:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Alaina's 4th Birthday

It's hard to believe but Alaina turned 4 last week. 4!  Seems like just yesterday when I was in the hospital holding this 8lb, 10oz baby girl in my arms and now she's a beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, energetic preschooler.  I cherish every moment with her but I wish that time would slow down.

Due to being born at Thanksgiving time we've always had to spread her birthday celebration over a span of about 10 days.  This year was no different.  I suppose you can call it Alaina's Birth Week instead of birthday?  She's not going to be feel entitled AT ALL when she gets older.

Alaina's "friends" party was on Saturday, November 17th at Chuck E Cheese's (per her request).  She absolutely LOVES it there and gets excited every time we drive by it.  We did things a bit differently this year, though, because she's old enough now to have her own friends.  We didn't necessarily invite friends of mine and their children as much as we invited playmates of Alaina (though admittedly, her playmates' parents are all friends of the family).  Nine children celebrated with Alaina this year:
  • Brady
  • Sophia Bostian
  • Sebastian Duthoy
  • Emma & Mady Lawver
  • Riley & Taylor MacDonald
  • Catherine Waskey
  • Rory Wilson
The kids had a great time at Chuck E Cheese's.  They played games, ate pizza and cupcakes, and danced in the show.  Alaina is already asking to go back next year (though I'm hoping she might opt for a bowling party).  Here are some pictures from Alaina's party at Chuck E Cheese's:

On November 24th we had Alaina's "family" party at our home.  Alaina's parents, brother, Meme and BawBaw, Uncle Jeffrey, Aunt Michelle, Ryan, and Uncle JB were there to celebrate with her. Later that afternoon, Aunt Cindy, Lauren & Andrew came over to celebrate with us.  Alaina chose to have a Barbie cake this year.  We had a great time!

Then finally, it was Wednesday, November 28th.  Alaina's 4th Birthday. Officially.  Alaina's preschool teacher scheduled Alaina to be Star of the Day on her birthday so I provided cupcakes for her class.  Alaina brought her new Angelina Ballerina stuffed animal (see picture above) with her for Show and Tell.  At snack time, Alaina got to wear a birthday crown and her class sang to her:

After school was over, we went home and had lunch with Daddy and Brady and ate cupcakes from Wegman's.  It was a great day!  Thus ends Alaina's Birth Week Celebration till next year.  :)