Tuesday, November 25, 2014

And they lived happily ever after...

Dustin and Jessica get married...

My brother-in-law started dating a special someone last year around this time. He was one of those guys who we thought would never get married, let alone start a family with. Jessica has a young daughter who is just smitten with Dustin and the girls love having another person to play with when we are all together.

On November 15th, Dustin and Jessica became man and wife in the most unusual way.

They are both die hard fans of our local hockey team and they jumped at the chance to get married at center ice during one of the breaks.

It was a very small wedding with just close family and friends and they asked me to take the formal pictures. We had a limited amount of time on the ice before the game so I didn't get as many pictures as I would have liked or had planned but the several I got turned out well.

A family picture before the ceremony at a local park.

Lilly getting a smooch from mom and her papa.

The bridal party. Aren't my girls adorable?

We had to get the funny picture of Dustin pretending to leave.

The Blankenship crew.

Their rings.

They had a small gathering afterwards where cake and hot cocoa was served.
Dustin wrote vows to Lilly and presented her with a ring as well. It was super sweet.

Saying "I do" on the ice.

The wedding was very informal as you can see and it was done so quickly that we didn't have time to plan a bridal shower so I'm throwing them a wedding shower in early December. I wish them the best and hope that they live happily ever after.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Family Pictures

I mentioned in my post about Bandit how I lost a cousin this past year. In September my 33 year old cousin, Trina, passed away very unexpectedly. It hit all of us very hard as we had just lost our grandmother in January.

Trina was one of the most loving and compassionate people you would ever have known. It's been a couple of months now but everyone is still having a hard time understanding why someone so young and loved was taken from us. Her birthday is around Thanksgiving and with all of the holidays coming up the family is going to be going through a really rough patch.

Her death was so out of the blue that I decided to have family pictures taken as soon as possible. I had a photographer whose work I had admired for a few years take them and they turned out perfect. I figured I needed to stop putting it off because tomorrow wasn't promised to any of us.

I look at these pictures and just smile. God has blessed with me such a beautiful family and my baby girls, well, they just melt my heart.

I can't believe this baby is going to be five in a just a few short months.
My sassy almost four year old. Boy does she keep us on our toes.

My wish for them is to always be the best of friends.

It was so cold the day we shot these but both ladies were troopers.

My absolute favorite picture of the entire session. I'm so glad I chose blue as our wardrobe color.

I own the copyright to each and every of these pictures. They are not to be copied, or redistributed without my permission. You can find the photographer at the link below.

Hilary Sievers Photography

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bandit Leroy

Our family has suffered a lot of loss this past year. I've lost my grandmother, a cousin, a nephew, and a few extended family members.

We've always been very open and honest with the girls about death and going to Heaven but it wasn't until recently that they truly understood the grief that comes with death.

On November 3rd we lost our dog, Bandit. He was hit and killed by a vehicle while the girls were at school that afternoon.

Now, I've known grief. I've felt the pain and despair of losing a close family member and in my thirty-one years of life, I've lost my fair share of family pets. Losing Bandit however has thrown me into a downward spiral. Daniel and I found him and had to remove his body from the side of the road.

Everything happened so quickly that my mind still hasn't come to terms with things. He had literally just been let out in the backyard to use the bathroom and in just a few short minutes he was gone. He was trained to stay away from the road and for whatever reason on that day, he decided to go near it. We don't know who hit him, as they left him on the side of the road without stopping.

In the moments of realizing what happened, all I can say is that my body just went into hysterical mode. There was screaming, crying, I may have thrown things around. It was a drop to my knees in the front yard kind of hysteria.

This dog was my baby when I didn't think I could have babies and I can honestly say he was the most well behaved dog I've ever had the privilege of knowing, let alone owning.

In the weeks since his passing I've suffered with terrible nightmares, insomnia, and I've even lost weight. My anxiety which was already becoming unmanageable without medication went through the roof and now I'm back on three different anxiety medications. My Crohns is back, my dog is dead, my anxiety is crazy. For anyone wanting to say I'm being over dramatic over the loss of my animal can kiss my butt. Grief after the death of a beloved animal is real people!

The girls took his passing very hard and were so confused. Addison had a break down after about two days and she couldn't grasp why Bandit had been alive when she left for school on that Monday but why he wasn't when she returned home. She expressed anger and blamed Daniel and I for not watching him properly and then even blamed herself for not staying home from school that day to watch him. His loss was terrible for me but seeing the pain in my babies was even more heartbreaking.

We had his body cremated and he now safely resides on the bookshelf along with our Great Dane, Wagner. We lost Wagner back in 2012 and I don't think Bandit was ever the same. They were the best of buddies and it's reassuring to know that they are together again at the Rainbow Bridge.

Many people do not understand how the passing of a family pet can be so difficult but it can be. The girls almost immediately started talking about getting a puppy and after a few months of having been wanting a puppy myself, I baited the hook and hoped Daniel would bite.

The Friday after Bandit's passing we welcomed the newest member of our family, Axle Zebidiah. Zebidiah is the name given to him by his breeder so we kept it as his middle name. He's a pure bred Great Dane who was born this past August. Daniel loves his Danes but has never had one as a puppy. I knew once I mentioned one he wouldn't say no.

Daniel was apprehensive about getting a dog so soon after Bandit passed, but he's fallen madly in love with his boy. Just as I knew he would. They are cuddle buddies and the best of friends already. Before long I'm going to need to move to the guest room because I won't fit in the bed anymore.

Axle joined our remaining dog, Sam. Sam came to us this past summer in hopes that his companionship would help Bandit. His previous owner was moving out of the country and was concerned that moving with Sam, who is eight, would not be safe. He was free to a good home so I jumped on the chance to adopt him. Never in a million years did we think we would lose Bandit so soon after and that Sam would become the only dog for a short time but God has a funny way of doing things and having Sam in those days after losing Bandit was so helpful in our grieving process.

We are a pet family and while I know many people think we welcomed Axle to soon after losing Bandit, it's how my family has always done things. With a beloved pets passing comes space to save and welcome another.

We are still suffering from the loss of Bandit but having Axle and Sam has made his passing a little more tolerable. I won't lie in saying though, I would do just about anything to have my boy back.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Halloween 2014

Halloween was like the never ending story for us this year. We celebrated for three weekends in a row and I was so glad when it was all over.

We kicked off our festivities by hosting our annual family Halloween party. We had amazing food, the kids had a variety of games to play, and what made it even more amazing was that my sister and her family were in town for a wedding so they were able to join us after having been absent for a few years.

The second event we attended was trunk-or-treat at the ladies school. I'm pretty sure our trunk was the scariest and we passed out over 600 pieces of candy to all of the kids who participated. It was a great time and the girls loved getting to hang out with friends and other kids around their age without mommy and daddy following behind them checking on their every move.

The third event was trick-or-treat at my mother-in-laws house. Daniel and his mom took the girls out while I stayed back to pass out candy. One of the downfalls of having Crohns disease is that walking around the neighbor is more of a challenge than I'm willing to take on. It's especially difficult after having had a taco dinner. The girls walked up and down both sides of Sue's street and then they were content to come back and help pass out candy.

Halloween is Daniel's favorite holiday. He went full out decorating at our house and he took a few of his pieces with him to his mom's to set up. He also dressed up so he got quite the kick of everyone who was either afraid of the decorations or was afraid of him or heck, even both.

Our next event was the ladies Halloween party at school. I am their room mom this year so I had the privilege of organizing and setting everything up. We had so many parents come and help and the kids really enjoyed themselves. I was so glad that it was a hit for all who participated.

Addison went in her sister's Elsa costume.

Cadence went in her sister's scary clown costume.

We had lots of snacks, play a game, and made paper plate ghosts which were a big hit.
Our final event was trick-or-treating at my dad's house. We brought pizza to fill up on before heading out and it was delicious. The weather was horrible so we only hit a few houses before calling it a night and going back and helping to pass out candy to all of those people willing to brave the weather. When trick-or-treat ended that night we made a short pit stop to my aunt and uncles to visit for a few.

I was so glad to get home that night and begin the process of dismantling all that was Halloween around our house. The outside had to begin right away as the wind was blowing decorations everywhere.

Daniel made the majority of the decorations himself since he isn't working and they turned out great. We had several people stop in the cars and compliment him on his work and everything he had done.

Now he's working on Christmas...Lord help my checking account...lol.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Great Wolf Lodge

Last year we took a family vacation to Cedar Point and this year I decided to treat us all to a trip to The Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio.

We waited until October when most of the kids would be back in school and right after the lodge started their Halloween festivities.

I know it was a family resort, but I truly enjoyed myself as did the ladies. From the time we arrived on Thursday afternoon, we didn't leave until well after checkout on Sunday. It was nice being on vacation and not having to step foot outside of the lodge for anything.

We spent lots of time in the arcade, enjoyed story time each night, and the ladies went trick-or-treating in the lodge once or twice. This place is such a kid friendly environment that we stayed busy. The ladies attended dance parties, painted pumpkins, swam...a lot, and we probably ate our weight in pizza, ice-cream, and cookies.

We wore mamaw out during our four day stay.

I'm so impressed with the ladies and how comfortable they have become with the water. Swimming lessons are definitely on the horizon. Addison loved being in the big kid pools and was like a fish underwater.

We have another trip planned in December so that we can enjoy the lodge's Christmas festivities and I'm not sure who is more excited, me or the ladies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We're Backkkkk!!!

You'll have to excuse me for taking such a long absence from the blog and for making it private. I promise I had a good reason.

So much has happened since my last post and to be honest, I don't even know where to begin with telling it all.

This year has been such an eventful year for the ladies and I just sit back in amazement at how much they've grown. Addison started softball this spring and while she didn't start out great, she ended on a great note.

That's Addison on first base, heading towards second.
Addison and her softball team also got the opportunity to participate in our towns Fourth of July parade. She thought she was hot stuff and Daniel walked with her.

Her 4th of July fan club.

That's Addison on the left waving and Daniel in the gray shirt and ball cap.
Both ladies started soccer this summer. I am 99.9% positive that we won't be playing next year. I don't think it was enjoyable for any of us, especially the ladies. They preferred running around in circles and watching everyone else play ball as opposed to actually playing. I was that crazy mother on the sidelines hooting and hollering on more than one occasion because the girls would just stand there as the ball dribbled by them. I think it's safe to say we should wait another year or two before attempting soccer again.

That's Addison in the #8 jersey.

There's Cadence on the left.
Addison finished her first year of preschool and this past September she started her second year while Cadence started her first. Because of bussing issues and how small our school district is the ladies are in the same afternoon preschool class. I had doubts about whether they should be together but it's working out just fine and it's nice having a few hours break from them in the afternoons. I miss them like crazy but boy is that quiet enjoyable.

More to come...