Friday, December 25, 2009

Jingle Bells...

Merry Christmas everyone!!! We hope that the arrival of this holiday brings joy, peace, and lots of time with family and friends. We ourselves are still in the Big D...enjoying our first Christmas "at home" with Camden. We'll fly out later this evening and head to North Carolina to spend the next week and ring in the new year with family and friends there.

Before we get too engrossed in the present unwrapping and the breakfast casserole eating, I wanted to share a quick video of Camden's Christmas carol performing debut. I'll apologize in advance for my singing (and for the fact we're in our pajamas) - but if you can tolerate the singing, I promise it's worth the suffering. Personally I love watching him "snap" his fingers. :o)

We hope to cross paths with many of you who follow this blog from God's Country (better known as NC) while we're in town next week, and we wish all of you...from NC to NE to TX and beyond the merriest of Christmases and nothing but blessings for the new year!!!

Love - Mandy, Ryan, and Camden

Jingle Bells from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And laying his finger aside of his nose...

Camden loves to be read to. I think he could sit in my lap for hours and listen to "The Belly Button Book" or "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" 100 times and never lose interest. Every morning when I go into his room to get him up he picks up his blanket and Ciggy (the stuffed piggy) and promptly says, "book peas". We spend a good 30-45 minutes every day in the "rocking and reading chair" - usually starting our day with "Hey Wake Up" and ending most every night with "Pajama Time". Seriously, I have done more reading the past year or so than I did the entire time I was in college...but I don't know if that speaks more to my child's love of reading or my love of doing other things in college besides the actual school part.

In the past couple of weeks we've been reading all Christmas books, all the time. He especially loves the "What is Christmas?" book his Great Granny Wagoner got him last year. He's also a big fan of the ones that have places for his picture in them. But his absolute favorite is "Twas the Night Before Christmas". We read that one at least 10 times each day. I pretty much have it memorized at this point so if it's ever a "party game" to see who can write it from memory, watch out because I am ready to thrown down on that one.

Last night we were reading it - as usual - with much feeling and dramatization. I squeeze his cheeks when I read the line, "his cheeks were like roses" and I jiggle his belly when I read the line, "that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly" - you get the picture. But last night brought a new "commentary" from Camden that I hadn't gotten before.

When I turned the page to read the lines, "And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose" Camden pointed to the picture and said..."Ahhhhh a booger. Ho, ho, ho got booger" And you really can't argue with the's the picture he was referring to.

So...I did what any good, self respecting mother would do, I told Camden that yes, even Santa sometimes had boogers and that he should be using a tissue rather than sticking his finger up his nose. I finished the book as best I could and then went in the other room to laugh my head off. We've read the book a few times today and once he pointed to the picture and said, "no, tissue" - but I still can't look at the picture without laughing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Best Santa Picture Ever

This past Friday night our neighborhood had it's annual tree lighting in the park. After bundling up and walking a block or so to the park, we were able to enjoy some hot cocoa, popcorn, cookies, the tree lighting and a chance to sit on Santa's lap. Here are a couple of pictures from our excursion...

Camden with his "girlfriend" Amanda - these two are inseparable and thick as thieves when they get together. :o)

Remind you of that scene in "A Christmas Story" or what? :o)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful...

There are so many things that I have to be thankful for. I thought about making this blog posting just a list of all the things I am thankful for...but it may take me forever and I am sure I'd still leave someone or something out. Like most of the posts I've read on Facebook lately, I would also list things like my health, the health of my family, my friends and God's provision of all our needs...and even most of our the top of my list. But I got to thinking, what are the things that I am thankful for that are often taken for granted?

So this week I started paying attention to all the things that I am grateful for that might otherwise go unnoticed...and made a "Thanksgiving Day Resolution" to start being more aware of them each and every day.

I am thankful for the ducks that live near our house. Camden and I have spent many sunny afternoons sitting on a bridge on the walking trail by the canals feeding those ducks. I love to watch his reaction when they all swim up and start quacking like crazy.

I am thankful for the cabinet full of Tupperware and other assorted plastic items that Camden can play with while I attempt to make dinner around him. I am thankful for the fact that he is content to sit at my feet and play with a bowl so that he can be near me rather than in his room or in the family room playing with one of the 4,972 toys he has. I'll try to remember these days when he's in junior high and thinks that his mom is totally lame.

I am thankful for my mommy friends who have been so transparent with me that I have learned I am not the only one who has my days where I feel like I am climbing "Mount Guiltmore" - at least if I am climbing it, I am not alone in my adventure. I love having other women that I can call when I feel like all I have done all day is give time-outs and say "no, stop, give that to mommy, don't throw that, put that down, that doesn't go in your mouth"...and so on, and so on, and so on...

I am thankful for hand-me-downs...yes, I do realize this cuts into my shopping opportunities...but I figure while they're little and could care less, I can save money for when they think it's only a totally lame mom that would think they would want to wear something someone else has already worn...and heaven forbid, was last year's fashion. (And I am especially thankful for all of my "mommies of girls" that have offered their adorable "preowned" clothes for our expected bundle of joy. I could really get carried away shopping for a girl - and I'm pretty sure Dave Ramsey would not least that's what Ryan tells me.)

Today I learned that I am thankful for silly Thanksgiving songs that make my child laugh. I had to sing "Hello Mr. Turkey How Are You?" about 900 times tonight. I sing and Camden, Ryan and I all do the motions together. As soon as we finish he says, "more, more, more" and we do it again...and again...and again. I will also try to remember this one when he thinks that my music is totally lame - and trust me, it's not...there is nothing lame, nor will there ever be, about Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band.

Most of all, I am thankful for laughter. One of my favorite quotes is from Nicolas de Chamfort and it's "the most wasted day of all is that in which we have not laughed." I try to remember this every single day. Whether I am laughing at something hysterical my child has done or said or just laughing at the overwhelming circumstances I find myself in, I have found it best to just laugh. I am a worrier by nature and I cling to the verse "Can worrying add a single moment to your life?" (Matthew 6:27 NLT).

So my Thanksgiving Day Resolution is really a two-part deal - in focusing more on what I have to be thankful for...which is SOOOOO much, I concentrate less on what worries me. I know that all the good things I have to be thankful for come from God - and if He's in control, what do I really have to worry about anyway? So on this Thanksgiving Day I want you to know that I am thankful for all of life's "little things"...and for craft time with my kiddo. I think his Picasso-esque turkey is a true work of art.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

To share...or "snot" to share...

So I debated on sharing this story...but the more I think about it, the funnier it is so why not?

We were coming home from having lunch with our Sunday Bible Fellowship class this past Sunday when I noticed that Camden had gotten really quiet in the backseat. Fearing that he may have gone to sleep and the 15 minutes in the car was going to undo any chance of a decent nap at home, I turned around to make sure I didn't need to blast the radio or roll down a window.

What transpired over the next 30 seconds put us in stitches...

My sweet child had his index finger two knuckles deep into his nose...when he pulled out his finger he had a "surprise" on the end of it. He looked at me like, "what am I supposed to do with this?". I asked him what he had and, speaking of surprise, he plainly replied...a boo-gah - and with a tone that said, "I just pulled my finger out of my nose, what else would I have on it?" Honestly, I have no idea where he learned this term and I am not so sure I want to count this word when the pediatrician asks me how many words he's up to at his next appointment.

We tried our best not to laugh, knowing that a response like that would only encourage such behavior, but we failed miserably. So, now, whenever Camden wants to get a laugh out of you, he just points to his nose, says "boo-gah" and laughs hysterically.

Oh, the joys of parenthood...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sugar and Spice...and Everything Nice

For those of you that haven't heard the news, we learned on Friday that the gender count will even out in the Foster house come April. That's's a GIRL!

I must admit, as a former middle school teacher, my mind immediately fast forwarded to all the drama that comes with female adolescence and I was not initially as thrilled as one might have suspected. As he could see my apprehension building, Ryan quickly reminded me that adolescence is a long way off and there are lots of days for playing dress up and having tea parties between now and then.

And speaking of Ryan, I think he's pretty excited. I know that he really wanted to have at least one boy and since our first child got that task checked off the "to do" list, he was thinking that it might also be nice to go to father/daughter dinners and to have someone to walk down the aisle on her wedding day...albeit it'll probably be after he's had to sell all of his non-essential organs on the black market to pay for said wedding day. I think at this point, he's really just hoping for a head full of curly red-hair when she's born. :o)

Once I stopped fixating on adolescence, I started to get more excited about having a "mini-me" running around...although I don't know that I could survive trying to raise a "mini-me" so I'm hoping that if she does have that red hair that Ryan so desperately wants, that she'll get his temperament and not mine.

What I do know is that I treasure the relationship that I have with my mom and I am already praying that my daughter and I will share that same kind of bond someday...even if it does take stopping just short of strangling her during her teenage years to let her live long enough for both of us to see it come to fruition. On a side note - thanks, Mom for not strangling me even though looking back I deserved it on many, many, many...many occasions - your "revenge" will come in watching me go through it now. :o)

So bring on the pink, the ruffles and the bows...we've got a girl on the way!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fun at the Foster House

So for those of you that aren't on Facebook, you may not have heard about our exciting ordeal this week. Camden now has a bright, NC State red cast on his left arm courtesy of the spiral slide at the park.

On Monday we were at the park with some other moms and kiddos when Camden decided to try to put his feet down and stop himself while coming down the slide. This resulted in him toppling rather than stopping and he must've thought the best place to land was on his elbow.

After a couple of hours of "watching it" and seeing that he had the use of his arm (both for picking up objects and rotating his hand around) we figured it was just bruised and that it would be fine. By Tuesday night, I was starting to have my doubts that it was okay because every time I tried to change Camden's shirt I was met with ear piercing, blood curdling screams. After deciding to err on the side of being overly cautious, I took him in to see his pediatrician on Wednesday morning. She promptly sent me on to Plano Pediatric Imaging for x-rays which confirmed that there were no broken bones and that the joint itself was still intact.

There was still much concern over the pain that he was experiencing (and that Ryan and I were experiencing as a result) so today we went to Pediatric Sports and Spine in Grapevine where the Pediatric Orthopedist said that there were some "wrinkles" in the cartilage of his elbow. The fear is that if the elbow wasn't stabilized and he fell again (which is a real possibility since he doesn't know how to slow down and has no fear of heights...) that he could do some real damage and need surgery. The other fear is that with a kid his age, most of that cartilage will eventually calcify and become bone and if there's something wrong with it and it "grows that way" he may not be able to straighten his arm later...and if he's going to be a major league pitcher, he's going to need that arm. :o)

Here are a couple of pics from our evening. He seems to be doing okay with it so far...he's only asked a couple of times for help getting it off. It's going to be a loooooong four weeks. :o)

Is it wrong to say that the tiny sling is "cute"?

Nothing can come between my boy and his "bites"!!!

Check out the cool glove I made (out of a sock) to help keep his cast clean while he eats.

0 to 60 in 3-Days

This past weekend I participated in the Dallas/Fort Worth Breast Cancer 3-Day. Together with my dear friend Charrisa we each walked 60 miles and raised $2300 to benefit Susan G. Komen for The Cure.

It was an amazing experience and I met so many wonderful people along the way. I was really inspired by these two gals who pushed their mom in a wheelchair the entire 60 miles b/c she was too weak from chemo to walk it herself.

One of the most generous stories I hear came from a lady who I was sitting next to in the medic tent getting first aid for some blisters. First - a little background info... In order to participate in the 3-Day you have to raise a minimum of $2300. If the walk dates arrive and you haven't made the goal, you have the option of dropping out or of giving the 3-Day your credit card info and getting 30 days post walk to finish your collection. At the end of the 30 days, whatever you have left gets charged to your card. Now...back to the story...

So the lady was telling me that she was riding on one of the sweep vans and got to talking to the rest of the people on the van about their fundraising. She asked them if they all had met their $2300 required goal and they all had met or exceeded the required amount. Another lady then asked her about her fundraising situation. She told them she was still about $600 short - she said that she had faith that she could meet the goal so she gave them her card number and went ahead and did the walk. The second lady then reached in her backpack and pulled out an envelope full of checks made out to the 3-Day and gave them to the lady that was $600 short. She said that these came in to her after she met her $2300 goal and rather than just exceed her goal by that amount, she brought them to the event hoping to find someone that needed the money to reach their goal. There was over $400 worth of donations in the envelopes. The gal who received the checks said she was so blown away by this woman's foresight and generosity that she could barely get off the van at the next pitstop b/c she was crying so hard.

The other people, stories, events that will stick with me forever are too numerous to share. Let's just say that it was such a wonderful event that even while limping from blisters and sore feet, Charrisa and I went to the 2010 tent to begin registration for that one.

Here are a few pics from the event... 0 to 60 in 3 Days!!!

Walking through Turtle Creek

My prize waiting on me at the finish line!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Halloween...a couple of days late!

I hope that each of you had a safe and fun Halloween this past weekend. My mom and dad were in town and it was really special to spend the week preparing for the big night. We had a costume playdate on Thursday with a few of Camden's friends (a dinosaur, a chicken, Superman and a Halloween cat were all present and accounted for). Camden went as Batman this year and it was hilarious that we would "sing" the Batman music and he would chime in "Mat-man" at the appropriate time.

Friday night our church had their annual fall festival where we, along with about 900 others from the community, enjoyed and chili supper, moon bounces, pony rides, and all sorts of games. Camden started out playing the games and having a great time doing so...then he realized that he would get candy at the end of every game and so he decided it was best to skip all that work and just ask those running the game for the candy...why waste time throwing rings on sticks or beanbags through holes if they're going to give you the candy anyway? :o)

Ryan and I went as the knight in shining armor and the fair maiden...again. I think those costumes have been moved about 5 times and worn every year since college... Perhaps we'll go as something different next year. My dad went as a pirate - he figures if he's going to have a prosthetic leg, might as well put that "peg leg" to some use. :o)

Saturday night we started out just hanging out at home and handing out candy. Then we found out that a house down the street was giving out stuffed animals instead of candy so we decided to leave Oma and Papa at our house on candy detail and we walked Camden down the street for some loot. Once we hit that house, we figured this would be a great way to meet some of our neighbors so we spent about 30 minutes in our cul-de-sac meeting neighbors and loading Camden up with more candy than he's had in his whole life. Too bad most of it's chewy or nutty and he can't have it...oh well, guess I'll have to eat it since he can't.

Unfortunately, most of the pictures we got from the holiday's events are on my parent's camera and I didn't get them before they left to go home. Mom's going to send me a CD of what she's got later. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from our outing to the pumpkin patch. Camden really loved "driving the tractor" and riding in the wagon with his friend, Amanda.

Happy Halloween...a few days late!!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Account ending in 5394

This week Ryan and I had a first...we became the victims of identity theft. Someone used my debit card number to make a fake card (b/c I still have mine) and spend almost $6,000 at Saks 5th Avenue here in Dallas - at least they have good taste. :o)

Fortunately, if we had to have something bad happen, this is the best bad thing. The thief/thieves don't have any of my personal information like my SS#, DOB, etc. - they just had my debit card number. So while they can't steal my identity and open fraudulent accounts in my name, they still have caused me to lose a lot of patience and a couple nights of good sleep.

We also have total consumer protection from Bank of America so (eventually) all the money and any overdraft fees we've incurred will be put back in our account...but there are lots of hoops to jump through and many, many, many phone calls to make before it's a done deal.

I've spent the last couple of days with a phone in one hand and something to entertain Camden while I am on said phone in the other. Most of the places I've had to call just took my initial info and then said they'd call me back...but usually NOT during nap time b/c that would be too convenient. :o)

So after speaking to about four different departments at the bank, all three credit reporting bureaus, and several departments within the Dallas Police Department, I think I am all done with my calls. Hopefully we'll get our money back sometime early next week.

On a side note...we've been to the pumpkin patch and we'll hit the fall festival at church next week so we'll have some cute pics of Camden for you as soon as we can get them uploaded.

Have a Happy Halloween!!!


Thursday, October 8, 2009

My sincerest apologies...

I must apologize...of late, I have become a horrible blogger. My posts are few and far between and they almost always promise an uploading of pictures or videos "to follow soon" and yet I never seem to get around to it.

In my defense, I am exhausted from chasing Camden around and growing another person...but really, that's no excuse. Granted, Camden only has one speed...which is run...but still, I need to do a better job of keeping you all updated. So, here's a rundown of all that's been going on with us.

If you read the last post, you know that Ryan and I spent a Camden-free week in Germany at the beginning of September. Here's a link to the Picasa album of those pictures. I haven't had the chance to go in and write a description for each picture...but they basically follow this timeline - trip to Neuschwanstein, pictures from around Germany - including our bike ride through the city, the day trip to Austria where I got to see the gardens and the cemetery used in "The Sound of Music", and our very emotional morning spend at Dachau - the concentration camp used to train Nazi soldiers and others working at various concentration camps throughout during WWII.


After returning from Germany, but not before recuperating, we headed to LasVegas. This time Camden went along for the trip. It was a lot of fun. He really enjoyed all of the animitronic statues at Caesar's Palace and the animals in Sigfried and Roy's Secret Garden at the Mirage. It's where the white tigers and other animals "live" when they aren't performing. He liked the tigers, but he was much more interested in the emus...which he kept calling doggies. :o) Actually, one of his most favorite parts of the trip was waiting for Daddy to get done with his training classes...b/c the training center was right next door to the airport and we sat and watched the planes take off and land less than 100 yards from the car. The other favorite part was pushing the elevator button and riding it to hear it beep at every level. Both of these things we could've done here in Dallas...oh, well. Here's a link to see the handful of pictures we took during that trip.


In addition to traveling, Camden and I are also staying busy with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) where I am serving as Hospitality Coordinator this year. We've also got play dates for everything from going to the Pumpkin Patch to playing at the play place at the mall. I'm also involved in a Bible Study and I have launched my own Southern Living at Home business which has done well in it's first month or so. Ryan's busy researching, working on treatment plans for patients and writing a grant.

On top of everything else, we're also preparing for the arrival of our new little one. Camden loves to be around the babies at MOPS and at church so hopefully he'll adjust well to the addition. Millie still doesn't know what to think about Camden so I'm not sure how she'll do with another one around. She's not a big fan of him when he's trying to use her as a pillow to lay on the floor, but she loves him to pieces when he's eating b/c if there's something he doesn't like, he knows she'll eat it for him. They're sneaky those two...gotta watch 'em.

Here's the first picture we have of the new baby. We'll find out the gender at my next ultrasound on November 13th. I promise to post things between now and then, but you'll definitely want to check back then to find out the big news.

We don't have much in the way of travel for a while, but we'll be entertaining guests throughout the month of October and then I'll be walking 60 miles over the course of 3 days during the first weekend of I'm sure there'll be lots of things to post and I PROMISE, I'll do that sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sprichst du englisch?

One of the many German phrases I've learned to say since getting here last Saturday, "do you speak English?"

Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to Rosetta Stone some German before landing this past weekend, but luckily, many people here speak English rather well. There was a taxi driver that wasn't quite sure where we were trying to go, but he gave his best attempt English and we did at German and we got to our destination no problems.

I've learned please, thank you, you're welcome, etc...but the other big phrase I've learned since getting here, "Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?" As a pregnant gal, you probably need to know how to say "where is the bathroom" in just about every language. :o)

We just wanted to share a couple of pics from our travels so far. We've mostly been in Munich but we did venture about 2 hours out of the city by train to Neuschwanstein which was the castle of Crazy King Ludwig II. It's the castle that Walt Disney modeled Cinderella's castle at Disney after. It was undergoing some exterior renovation/construction so it's hard to see what it would look like uncovered from all the scaffolding...but his backup castle down the hill a way was pretty impressive too.

We're doing a bike ride through the English garden and a day trip to Salzburg, Austria (so that I can sing Do-Re-Mi on the steps of that building where it was filmed in Sound of Music) later on this week so check back later for more pictures.

It's now after 11 p.m. here so I'll just leave you with Gute Nacht!!!

The beautiful Germany countryside


The "backup castle"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Animals and Announcements...

Camden's learned lots of new animal sounds so we thought we'd make a short little video of him demonstrating them for you. The pig's kinda hard to hear...but it's hysterical. He tries to snort but can't figure out how to "suck in" to make the sound so it ends up being more like he trying to "hak a lugi" instead.

So listen carefully for the animal sounds...and for his other demonstration of what he knows that you might not...

Camden Knows What's There... from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Friday, August 21, 2009

When Mommy's Not Looking...

A couple of days ago I was laid out on the couch watching HGTV...I mean busy folding laundry while the tv played in the background...when I heard this strange noise coming from the kitchen. For those of you that haven't been to our home, the kitchen and the family room are open to each other with just a bar height counter between them. So, normally if someone's in the kitchen, you can see them...unless that someone is only about 2 1/2 feet tall.

I wait, thinking the noise was the fridge or the dishwasher and then I hear it again. I also hear Camden in the kitchen but I don't think much of it. We have all of the "off limits" cabinets locked up tight and the rest I don't mind if he explores and plays with the pots and pans or the measuring cups. But nothing I can think of that he can get to would be making the sound that I am hearing.

My curiosity finally got the better of me so I laid down my laundry and walked around the edge of the bar to see this...

Evidently I had gotten the refrigerator door closed just far enough that the alarm didn't sound but not closed enough that it sealed tightly. Camden opened the door and promptly found the Reddi-Wip and proceeded to make himself a snack.

Now some of you are probably wondering where he even got the idea to squirt it directly in his mouth...that would be my fault. And I guess it's also my fault for not getting the fridge door shut all the way. And since I already had two strikes against my winning the "mother of the year" title, I decide not to take the can from him, but to get him to do it a little longer so that I could get a good picture to share with all of you.

And since it's been a while since my last posting, here are some other pics from our summer for you to enjoy!!!

Camden jumping to Daddy in the "big pool"

Sliding down the slide #473

How we kill time while drying off before leaving...
Mmmm, Rainbow Pops


Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Cousin's Day!!!

So I am pretty sure Hallmark just makes up "holidays" in order to create more cards and gifts to sell. Nonetheless, we just wanted to take a moment to wish Cousin Jay a "Happy Cousin's Day" today.

So far, this is Camden's only cousin...but none of my three siblings have started having kids yet so I am guessing that number will grow if they ever get around to it. I know I shouldn't pressure them, but I had to deal with the "pressure" for a few years and now it's someone else's turn. it's Matt and Annie's turn - I'm fairly certain I don't want Camden's next cousin to be Uncle Ira's kid. :o)

So, Cousin Jay, enjoy your lone spot of cousin attention today - and have a great cousin's day!!! We'll see you in just four days!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Visit with Friends

This past Wednesday Camden had his first "sleepover" when my dear friend Jenny and her one year old son, Drew came to visit. We had a great time hanging out for a few days and then Jenny was off to a conference so it was just "me and the boys" for a couple of days.

I know there's lots of research out there trying to disprove or prove the idea that boys innately play with trucks and girls with dolls. I'm not sure which side of that argument I fall on, but I learned this weekend that at least our two boys fall on the side that likes to wrestle as soon as you put them together.

We enjoyed watching them so much we decided to take a couple of short videos to share with you. They're our version of a "cage fight" since they're trapped in the crib - but they enjoyed it and only cried when we took one of them out and the match was over.

I really enjoyed having a great visit with my friend and getting to know her little guy better. I will admit, going from one kid to two wasn't easy and took a lot more thinking, planning, patience, and Advil than I had thought it would - but even though they just left to head back to Raleigh/Durham today, I'm already looking forward to the time that we can visit again!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Happy Birthday, USA!

We hope you all had a great Independence Day weekend. Ryan and I enjoyed a nice long weekend where we were able to get all of our "chores" done on Friday so that we could spend Saturday and Sunday just relaxing and enjoying time with friends.

Friday night we took Camden to see the fireworks in "Kaboom Town" which is in Addison, Texas about 15 miles from where we live. They have one of the best Independence Day celebrations in the country as rated by the American Pyrotechnics Association, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal...and they didn't disappoint. We got there in time to enjoy a nice dinner (thanks for the gift card, Mom and Dad) and see the war planes and flight stunt show before the fireworks began at 9:30. Camden loved the fireworks. He sat perfectly still for about the first 15 minutes and then he just wanted to play with the glow sticks a local church group had been handing out. I think they gave him 7 or 8 of them...they bought us quite a few minutes of peace - i.e. when he wasn't begging to get down and walk around.

Saturday night we had some friends over to grill out and earlier that afternoon while I was cutting up the watermelon for our appetizer, I handed Camden a piece...he wasn't quite sure about picking it up to eat it, but hey, whatever works...

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Last Few Days...

We've been doing our best to survive the 100+ temps we've been having in Dallas the last few days. Yeah, right - you'd think we'd at least have enough sense to stay indoors where it's air conditioned. But no...Camden and I spent all day Friday at the zoo, then Ryan and I worked in the yard almost all day Saturday and then we had a church picnic Sunday late afternoon. At least the higher-ups at church did have enough sense to move the picnic from the park back to the church where we could at least have the option to be indoors if we wanted. It's supposed to cool off with this "cold front" passing's only supposed to be 98 today...what a relief! :o)

I just wanted to share a couple of videos we've taken over the past week or so. There's nothing spectacular like first steps or anything...but Camden's a total ham and keeps us cracking up non-stop (I've been told he gets that from me...) and I wanted to share a few funny moments from the last few days. Enjoy!!!

The first one comes courtesy of Ryan's mom. She mailed Ryan a gift for Father's Day and Camden found the packing peanuts to be much more exciting than the actual gift. We agree with the YouTube video of the kid cracking up when his dad rips the paper...why buy expensive toys?

The second is Camden's assessment of his trip to the zoo. Here are a couple of still shots of Camden checking out the animals and then doing his impression of a'll understand the lizard thing a little better when you watch the video...

In this video, we're at home and Camden's reading one of his favorite books. It's the touch and feel Baby Animals book he got for Christmas from Great Uncle Wayne and Great Aunt Betty. He loves the gorilla on the last page - he thinks it's a hilarious animal. While we were at the zoo we saw all kinds of animals, but Camden seemed to be most intrigued by the lizards and quickly learned to do his impression of one...

The last video was taken just before bedtime when Camden discovered that his mommy has ears too. He's been pointing out his own eyes, ears, mouth, etc...but would never point at mine or Ryan's when we asked him about ours. The other night we tried again and he finally "found mommy's ears" - perhaps he thought I didn't have any since I seem to not hear him when he's whining. :o)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009 last

I know I am getting close to being a month overdue on posting about our Hawaii trip...but it's taken about that long for us to recover from it so cut me some slack. :o) You'd think being gone on our first actual vacation...a trip that doesn't involve Ryan attending conference sessions or the pinball movements that come with a trip to North Carolina...we'd come back rested and ready to tackle everything on our "to do" lists. But the trip seemed to have the opposite effect for me. I came back so laid back and relaxed that I just haven't yet been able to get back into the groove of everyday life. Now that things are starting to get back on track, I am finally posting the pictures from our trip...another thing on my to do list can officially be checked off.

We had a wonderful time - it was great to get away from the normalcy of everyday life and to reconnect with each remember what life was like back in the B.C. (before Camden). It only took me about two days into the trip to stop telling the hostess "two and a highchair" when we went out for a meal. I did almost cut Ryan's food up for him once...but I caught myself just in time. :o)

We had such a great time that we're already planning our next trip. And I promise the pictures from that one will not be a month old before they're posted.

Click here to view our photos!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Making it Easy

My child loves me...and he wants me to be happy. He knows the anxiety I've been feeling about leaving him next week and he's taken it upon himself to make it easier for me to go...

Today I put Camden in the Mother's Day Out program at our church from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. He normally naps early in the morning (around 10:30ish) and then again around 2 or so. Since he was at MDO, he got off his typical schedule by having just one nap around 12:30. Knowing that he'd be rotten this evening without another nap, I gave him a banana and some chocolate milk around 4:30 and decided to put him down for a late afternoon snooze. Since he'd managed to get banana everywhere but in his mouth, I left his sticky banana covered shorts off after his diaper change and I stuck him in the crib with just his t-shirt and diaper on.

About 10 til 6 I hear him stirring and when I open the door to his room I am met with the foulest of smells. Today is trash day which means the diapers in the DiaperGenie have been there for several days so I didn't think much of it. I continue into his room, turn on the lamp, and there stands my sweet little angel...naked from the waist down. I walk over to the crib where I find an enormous steamy pile of poop right in the middle of his bed. To make matters worse, as I go over to lift him out of the crib to keep the poop from getting anywhere it isn't already, I promise you, he looked straight into my eyes, smiled, and then peed through the slats on the crib rail all over the carpet below.

Once it's all contained and we've moved on to another snack, I call Ryan - who I actually been on the phone with when I discovered the pile of poo and immediately hung up on - to tell him that everything's okay and that I was sorry to drop his call like that. I proceed to tell him all that's just transpired...complete with a change of diaper, clothes, changing pad, sheets, blankets and all...and I get no sympathy - I can barely get the story told from having to wait for him to stop laughing so he can hear the next part. All Ryan had to say was that this one is even better than the one from June 2nd of last year - if you haven't read it, it's pretty good too. And I have to's events were pretty funny.

I am just so thankful to have a child that is willing to go the extra mile in order to make it easier for me to leave him here with his Granna for a week. I'm pretty sure I'm ready for a vacation!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

One small step for man...

Many of you know that Ryan and I are heading to Hawaii this Saturday on our first "child-free" vacation since Camden's arrival almost 14 months ago. Many of you also know the immense anxiety I am trying to fight off with leaving Camden here. Now, before you jump to the conclusion that I don't have faith my mother-in-law's child care abilities, let me remind you that I know what a fine job she can do taking care of little boys...I am married to her first attempt at child rearing and I'm pretty satisfied with the finished product. I did leave her a seven page (single spaced) document outlining every piece of information I could possibly think that she might need to know. Don't give me any grief, most of that is about how to program the coffee maker, use our gas range and activate the alarm system. It's not Camden or my MIL that I am worried's me...

Along with all of the "normal" fears (that something will happen to Camden that would require a visit to the hospital for stitches or a cast...or a stomach pumping after all of the junk food he'll probably get while I'm gone) I also just had a fear of being disappointed... Meaning, I was afraid he'd accomplish some developmental milestone while we're away and I would miss it. I know, it's a selfish fear...but we've been working hard on certain words (ball, dog, bath, love you, etc.) and trying to take more than one step before face planting in the floor...and I was afraid that I would miss the fruits of all my labor.

Yesterday as I gave Millie a haircut and a bath Camden kept repeating "dog,, bath" so I am pretty sure I can check those two words off my list. And (drum roll please) we've made the transition from the "one step-face plant move" to several steps with even a little balancing act in between. I wouldn't say he's "up and running" just yet - he's still much faster when he crawls so he'll opt to do that if he has to cover a long distance and sometimes his upper body is moving faster than his legs can go, but we've definitely hit a milestone in the fact that he'll even let go and take the 5-7 steps that allow me to comfortably get on the plane and take off.

Once he put his mind to this, he caught on really quick and went from the one step-face plant to the 5-7 steps in just a day and a half. I'm sure that as quick as he caught on to this, he'll be running circles around the house by the time we get back on the 31st...that is, if my MIL will put him down long enough to give it a try! :o)

One small step for man... from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
-- Queen

This weekend marked another monumental occasion in the life of Camden Foster - his first bike ride!

For those of you that may not know, Ryan and I love to ride our bikes. We've gone on many vacations solely for the purpose of riding our bikes...from the Virginia Creeper Trail to the Cowboy Trail to the Wabash Trail Taco Ride and several routes in between. We also ride our bikes in various "bike rallies" like the Corporate Cup in Omaha and (a first for us) our upcoming ride in the 6th annual WildRide! Against Cancer on May 16 where we'll be riding in memory of Appie, Papaw Jay and Papaw Foster and in honor of LaLa! This is a fundraiser benefiting Richardson Regional Cancer Center... the satellite clinic Ryan works in and home of the Lance Armstrong Shaped Beam Surgery program (which is a funny name to me, b/c it sounds like the beam is shaped like Lance Armstrong...). :o) We're pretty excited to get back on the bikes after a year+ hiatus because of me being preggo and then Camden not being "big enough" to ride...until now.

To get those bike legs warmed up, we went for a ride around the neighborhood this weekend. We were worried that Camden might have the same initial reaction he did to the swing in the backyard...sheer terror. But as soon as we strapped him in his seat, he was schooching back and forth like he was telling us, "c'mon, let's go!" so we did just that. Here are a couple of pics and a video of the first big ride...

CMF First Bike Ride from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


A little known fact about me...I am a seven year old trapped in a 31 year old's body. Let me explain thorough a couple of examples...

In the summer of '07, Ryan took a business trip to Minneapolis and I tagged along. Most 30-something wives tag along to visit another city's museums, art districts, fine dining establishments, etc. I tagged along because Ryan said we'd come back home trough DeSmet, South Dakota. What's in DeSmet, you ask? Why, the homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder - the main character in my most treasured book collection ever! When I was a kid I used to get in trouble all the time for hiding under my covers and reading all about Laura and her adventures in the unsettled west. I loved to imagine that I was Laura - playing with my corncob babydoll, grinding my own flour, etc. (Even though I am certain I wouldn't last 1o minutes in house with no indoor plumbing and winters in South Dakota with no central heat would kill me for sure...but it's fun to imagine.)

So after a few days in Minneapolis (one of which we found out we were having Camden), I could finally stop imagning what it was like and actually experience it for real - me and all the other little 5-9 year old girls on the guided tour. It was awesome...I made my own corncob baby doll, I ground flour and I even got to drive the covered wagon! The couple of days we spent in DeSmet were some of the most fun days of my life - someday I hope to have a little girl who loves Laura as much as I do and I'll get to take her there too.

Fast forward to the delivery of our first child. I'm in the hospital and labor is beginning - I am trying to decide what to have for last "non-mommy meal." UNMC actually had pretty good food so it wasn't that I dreaded "hospital food" it was just that nothing sounded good - not the chicken tenders, not the cheeseburger, none of the salads...untill I flip to the last page and there they are...Spaghettios. You need to understand...I have a pretty refined palate...I love a good sushi roll, I love a good aged steak, I love a glass of really good wine...but I also love Spaghettios. When I eat them, it's just a nostalgic moment for me. They are always served with a grilled cheese sandwich (cut on the diagonal, of course) and a glass of chocolate milk. As I ate my lunch that day, I told Ryan that while I was looking forward to raising our child, to staying home with him everyday and having so many opportunities to teach him about the things around him and about how much God loves him...I was also looking forward to the day when we could share our first bowl of Spaghettios together.

Today was the day...and he truly is my child - I think he ate more than I did. He at least wore more than I ate. I have lots and lots of things on my list that I can't wait to share with my child - but check this one off...we love Spaghettios!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Before and After

I am not going to use this blog to post cutesy stories and chain letters. If you know anything at all about me, you know I am not a fan of most of those things anyway - I'm pretty certain God's blessings in my life are not dependent on whether or not I "forward this message to 10 people in the next 5 minutes". But my good friend Sarah, a mom of twins that are exactly one year to the day older than Camden, sent me this and I just had to post it here for you to read. Almost every one of them is already true for me...and the ones that aren't yet are just waiting to happen. Enjoy!

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful to have been born the USA, the most powerful free democracy in the world.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for Velcro tennis shoes. As well as saving valuable time, now I can hear the sound of my son taking off his shoes -- which gives me three extra seconds to activate the safety locks on the back seat windows right before he hurls them out of the car and onto the freeway.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for the recycling program that will preserve our natural resources and prevent the overloading of landfills.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for swim diapers because every time my son wanders into water in plain disposables, he ends up wearing a blimp the size of, say, New Jersey, on his

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for fresh, organic vegetables.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for microwaveable macaroni and cheese -- without which my children would be surviving on about three bites of cereal and their own spit.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for the opportunity to obtain a college education and have a higher quality of life than my ancestors.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful to finish a complete thought without being interrupted.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for holistic medicine and natural herbs.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for pediatric cough syrup guaranteed to "cause drowsiness" in young children.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for all of the teachers who had taught, encouraged, and nurtured me throughout my formative years.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for all of the people at Weight Watchers who let me strip down to pantyhose and a strategically placed scarf before getting on the scale each week.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for the opportunity to vacation in exotic foreign countries so I could experience a different way of life in a new culture.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful to have time to make it all the way down the driveway to get the mail.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for the Moosewood Vegetarian cookbook.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for the Butterball turkey hotline.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for a warm, cozy home to share with my loved ones.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for the lock on the bathroom door.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for such material objects as custom furniture, a nice car, and trendy clothes.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful when the baby spits up and misses my good shoes.

BEFORE CHILDREN: I was thankful for my wonderful family.
AFTER CHILDREN: I am thankful for my wonderful family.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

It was high time Camden got to see the baseball team for whose stadium he is named. The Orioles came to Dallas to play the Rangers this week so he finally got the chance. We went to two of the three games in the series b/c of church on Wednesday night (but with the butt-whoopin' the O's got that night...I'm kinda glad we weren't there...) The two games we made it to were great - close down to the last out and the O's came out on top both of those nights.

Camden did great - despite the fact that he's usually in bed at 7:30 p.m. and the games didn't even start until 7:05. I finagled his naps to allow him a late afternoon siesta and that seemed to do the trick - and when that didn't work, cotton candy did. :o)

Here are some photos from the game - enjoy!!!
Daddy and Camden on their way in to the game.

Camden - just taking it all in...

Mmmmmm...cotton candy

Daddy and Camden at the game...go O's!!!

He'd have made it if the game hadn't gone into extra innings!!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

The Easter ham leftovers are in the fridge, the dyed eggs reconnaissance missions were all successful and the chocolate bunny has met his demise... Camden probably won't remember much of what we did today but I am glad he was here to help us celebrate. A few years ago Ryan and I would try to "get in the Easter spirit" by dyeing eggs just for the two of us - but putting all that effort into decorating only to have our finished works of art sit in the fridge until it was time to throw them away just wasn't as fun as Easter with a little one.

Here are some pics from our Easter holiday - and while the baskets, bunnies and jellybeans are great, I'd be remiss not to give thanks for the reason we celebrate - the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus!!! Happy Easter to you all!!!

Camden with all of his Easter loot!

Dyeing Easter eggs...okay, watching mom and dad do most of the work... but I did help a little!

That bunny is mine...all mine!!!

Our finished eggs... when Camden has a little brother or sister we'll have to make sure their name isn't more than six letters long or we'll have to buy more than one dozen eggs! :o)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mom's Two-Cents

The party is over, the "baby" is sleeping and now that I finally have a chance to catch my breath, I wanted to take a minute to write my birthday post.

I really want to write something sentimental - to tell you all about how my life has changed in the last year and how much I love being a mom. I want to jot down all that's going through my mind about this past year...but somehow the words just fail me. There just aren't words to describe how much I love my child - even on his (and my) worst days - and how I can't imagine life without him. I can't figure out how to explain how even though being a mom can sometimes be the most difficult job I've ever had, it is far and away the most rewarding. Words also fail me when it comes to expressing how grateful I am for my husband and how much I have enjoyed watching him grow as a father this year.

So before I get all water-head on you, let me just post a couple of pictures of Camden with his cake...laughter is the quickest remedy for tearing least you can say you're laughing so hard you're crying...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to ME!!!

Hi everyone...Camden here. Mom and Dad are too busy reminiscing over the past year and mourning the loss of my "baby status" to post a blog, but I wanted to post a little something on my special day.

Today was very exciting. I woke up at my Granna Jane's house to Honey Nut Cheerios and not the old plain ones that I usually have. The Cheerio snack was followed by some good 'ol southern style sausage gravy and biscuits - yum-o!!! After breakfast I played a little and then I took a nap before I (along with my entourage - mom, dad, Oma, Papa, and Granna) went to get my very first haircut. Not that needed one or's my "before" shot...

"Aunt Sherrie" (my stylist) kept me entertained through most of the haircut with a lollipop. I was so excited about the sucker I hardly noticed she was coming at my face with scissors.

The haircut was a huge success. I got a little fussy b/c I knew they'd keep throwing treats at me. By the time it was all said and done, not only did I have a stylish new "do" but I had two lollipops, three cookies, and had played with three new toys and two combs.

After my haircut I went out for lunch with the same entourage and then home for a three hour nap - all that lollipop and cookie eating wears a boy out! Now I am just hanging out with the fam and gearing up for my birthday party tomorrow.

I'll leave you with a video my mom worked long and hard to put together to commemorate my first year... She'll debut it tomorrow at the party, but I thought a sneak peek on my actual birthday would be better...