Monday, September 30, 2013

Daddy's Girls

Girls in a good mood during playtime + an antique filter on my phone = cute mommy/daughter photo session.
Kumquat never sits still long enough for a picture, so this is pretty amazing! When she allows us to take a picture, I usually try to snap about 10 at a time, so I have the best chance of getting one where we're both looking semi-normal.

Squirt's a total ham, so I don't have to worry about her cooperating. As soon as I take out my phone and point it in her direction, she's ready!

I love this picture! Taking shots on my phone means they don't always come out as clear as I'd like, but it's worth it to have the camera right there with you at all times!

Like I said, she's ready to pose and primp for the camera in a moment's notice!

A Little Collage-Happy Lately

Yep, my iPhone has officially sucked me into a dark hole of amazing technology. It's (just a little) sad how excited I get when I figure out how to put a filter on my pictures or make a collage with a new app.
On Thursday, we met my friend Deanna for lunch at McDonald's and the girls got to play on the playground. I like the picture of Evelyn grabbing Bella's hand away from the ketchup!
We had our first fire pit of the season on Sunday night! Bella mostly tortured and burned the marshmallows instead of eating them, but the weather was gorgeous and we had fun!
A sneak peek at Halloween decorations coming together! I've never decorated for Halloween before, but I'm throwing Steve a birthday party this year, which will be just a few days before Halloween, so I decided to go all out and decorate like crazy. In my next life, I would like to be a party planner. Just sayin'. And somehow, miraculously, the girls haven't been scared at al by all of the spiders and skulls around the house. As long as I tell Bella they're "silly" instead of "scary", she's good. She's a gullible lil' sucker.

 Evelyn and I, hamming it up for the camera today. I'm going to post some fun pictures of the girls and I that I took today. The camera on my phone got automatically switched to a filter, so all of my pictures came out with a nice, antique-y look to them. Win for me!
So that's our life the last couple of days - all wrapped up in collages for you!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back On The Wagon

This is the first post that I'm writing entirely from my phone. And since autocorrect just tried to change the word "phone" to "hooey", I may regret this.  We are in desperate need to get back on the wagon in this house! My two biggest areas are school and food. When everything with Lily happened in late-August, the rest of my schedules and normal ways went out the door. Not in some tragic, crazy way, there was just so much going on. People we're bringing dinners, family was here - our normal routines we're definitely not in place.

It's a month later, but I finally feel like I'm getting back to normal with having some sort of schedule in place. I've completely forgotten about gymnastics class for two weeks in a row, which means for an eight-week class (that it took me two months to save for), Bella has already missed it 3 times. She really enjoys it when I actually remember to take her, so I'm going to at least finish out the last two weeks (I think there's two; honestly, I have no clue, so I need to call them.).

In school, we are moving on to the letter "I". We have been babysitting these first two days, and the girls will be with a babysitter for a big portion of the morning tomorrow, so we'll either do a few activities on Thursday and Friday, or wait until next week. I'm so thankful I decided to this whole "home" thing for preschool and not first grade - it would have killed me!

Ah, dinnertime. We have been having way too many "special treats" of Coke and fries this month, and spent way too many nights eating at the counter instead of the dining room table. I don't know about anyone else, but I love eating at the table in the dining room! There's just something that feels cozy about sitting all together with the girls (okay, Bella) telling Steve about their day. Between fast food snacking, sucking on my budget lately, and crazy schedules, I haven't done a great job of having healthy meals and snacks planned. 

This week was my redemption! I made whole-wheat cranberry orange muffins (from scratch!) for Steve to take to work for breakfast and planned out a week of dinners from meat that was in the freezer. It feels really good to have meals planned again and not just look at Steve when he walks in the door like, "Welp, whaddya feel like? Spaghetti again or grilled cheese again?"  Not that there's anything wrong with those two; they're just better when they're not thrown together in 10 minutes. 

So, deep breath! There you go! Hoping I can continue this energy kick and stay motivated! Wait until you see pictures of the house and Halloween decorations for the party I'm throwing for Steve's birthday! I'm way more excited about it than he is!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rememering My Grandpa Zinn (Yep, Zinn)

Two weeks ago, we went home for my Grandpa's memorial service. We had a lot of mixed feelings going into the weekend since everything had just happened with the baby and talking about death and hospitals seemed to make me cry every time. On the other hand, it was really good to see our family and spend some time remembering my Grandpa and the man he was.
Honestly, I don't have the memories of Grandpa that Mel does. (We're the only grandchildren, plus Rachel.) I don't say that in a "poor me" or bitter kind of way; it's just the truth. Mel has lived down in Florida as an adult, so she's had different experiences with both my Grandma and Grandpa. We first moved when I was 13, and even when we moved back during my college years, I was only home during the summer and ended up working most of the time, so in my mind, I haven't spent significant time in Florida in 17 years. (Wow!)
That being said, I do have wonderfully sweet memories of my Grandpa from my childhood. We always called him "JZ", because of his initials, but telling my friends that always made them chuckle because of Jay-Z and Beyoncé. People would look at us and say, "You call your Grandpa, 'JZ'?"
He always smelled great. He never smelled like old age or medicine when I hugged him; it was always Old Spice and tobacco. When I was little, he would pick me up and spin me around. We always called it "the airplane" (Genius name, huh?). We used to go over to their house for dinner every single Saturday night. Grandpa got out of playing games by saying he had "paperwork". Seriously, every. single. time...he had paperwork. I don't know what he was doing, but it got him out of talking.
He loved boats and fishing. I mean, loved. He would fix up old boats or build them himself. He had the best stories about growing up - becoming a trampoline gymnast as a teenager, a boxer in his twenties, how my grandma would make him peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when they were in college together and then throw them up to his window after curfew.
When we went through his house over the weekend, Mel and I were able to take some mementos that reminded us of Grandpa. Some of Mel's choices included an old, brass diver's helmet that always sat on his desk and a Swiss Army knife with Grandpa's name engraved on it. 

Grandpa had nautical things everywhere as we were growing up. These three "sailors" now sit on the shelf in my laundry room. 

The man loved his guns and knives, which I think stemmed from having a bit of a conspiracy theorist inside of him. Regardless, I seem to have inherited his love of knives and this is one of my favorites. I also have a few of his antique pocket knives on our mantle and his switch blade in my purse. (To be fair, I've always carried a knife in my purse; now it's just a good one!)

Grandpa was famous for splurging on us with what he called his "box money". It's how he paid for lunch on our shopping trips with Mom and Grandma, sent us care packages in college, and even bought our Homecoming dresses one year. (Oh, in that particular experience, when my mom told me that the dress I had chosen was too tight, he said, "Well Sue, if she's got it, she might as well show it off." Seriously. And in a Texan accent. It was awesome!) It was only during this trip to Florida that I learned there was an actual box. I never knew why he called it "box money", but apparently this is where he kept his knick-knacks and cash on his dresser.
He was a man who loved God, loved his family, and worked hard. We will miss him.
This is his obituary from the newspaper.
Zinn, James Edward
Dec. 17, 1933 - Sep. 3, 2013
James E. Zinn, 79, of North Port, FL died peacefully on September 3, 2013.
A memorial service will be held at the Fellowship Bible Church of Venice 720 Alligator Rd. Venice on Saturday, September 7th at 4:00 p.m.Jim and his wife JoAnn lived in North Port since the late 60's. He was an avid fisherman and was always known as "JZ" to family and friends. He will be greatly missed. He is survived by his wife JoAnn Zinn of Venice, FL; son, Steve & Meredith Zinn of Bradenton; son, Doug & Lynnette Zinn of Texas; daughter, Sue & John Meyer of Venice. Jim also leaves behind 3 grandchildren, Melissa Meyer, Katie Wires (Meyer), and Rachel Meyer; and 2 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that any contributions in Jim's memory be made to the Tidewell Hospice House of Venice.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Baby Girl Came Home...With Answers

I picked up Lily's ashes today. I know it seems like going by myself makes me a glutton for punishment or a total martyr, but honestly, I just wanted it done. I wanted her to be home, and I knew Steve wanted that, too.
It was actually a really easy experience, logistically. I was only in the office for about 30 seconds and the woman offered to bring the box out to my car so that I didn't have to leave the girls alone, so it's not like I had to stand around a depressing, stifling funeral home for a long time.
The ashes came in just a simple, cardboard box since we had our own...container. A women's group from a local church knits blankets for the ashes of babies, which I thought was kind of sweet.

No matter what you know in your head, the reality of how small she was, and how that translated into such a small amount of ashes, always defies your expectations.

The vase on the piano that we chose for the ashes. I know there will be some days when it brings me comfort and some days when I want to stuff it behind the piano, but overall, we're glad and at peace to have her home once and for all.

I just liked seeing her name in writing. Even if it was for this purpose.
We got a call from the doctor yesterday morning with results from the baby's autopsy and genetic tests. The results showed something called Triploid Syndrome, or Triploidy, which means that every one of her chromosomes were tripled. It's extremely rare to have the chromosomal disorder where every single chromosome is tripled, rather than just one, like Downs Syndrome.
It was nice to have some answers and also to feel like it was such an abnormality that we didn't need to be scared to try for more babies. We will probably go ahead and do genetic testing on Steve and I before trying again, but at least we have some comfort in our heads about the whole thing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Quick (But Beautiful!) Beach Trip

Our last full day in Florida was Monday, so we promised Bella we would spend some time at the beach. The water was insanely calm, and the girls loved being able to play without being worried about waves! Whitney will be so proud of me for figuring out my new photo collage app!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cowboy Boots, Dirt, and Cool Whip

I'll write about Grandpa's memorial service at some point, but first, I had to include some quick, joyous moments with the girls! Not just Steve and I, the entire family has enjoyed the wonderful (sometimes exhausting) distraction that comes from having a four-year old and one-year old running around. They have brought me so many smiles this weekend!
On Thursday, my (amazing, crazy, sacrificial, incredible) friend Emily offered to take the girls for a huge chunk of the day while I "packed and cleaned" before we went to Florida. I promise, that was my plan. Instead of actually cleaning, I remembered that Steve had bought me a massage for Mother's Day that I had never used (yep, back in May), so I got to get a massage and then go get my hair done while Emily watched four kids. Bella got to tag along to Ally's ballet class where this amazing picture took place.
The ironic part of this picture is that I can so rarely get Bella to ever pose for pictures when I want her to, but of course, she posed perfectly for Emily while Em was going crazy that her daughter, Ally, wouldn't make eye contact with the camera. I still think Ally looks stinkin' adorable in her tutu and patent leath shoes. And look at her little ballet bag with polka dots on it!
The girls with Miss Lisa. Lisa gives them little stick-on earrings and sprays purple glitter in their hair so it's "fancy". How cute is that! And one last P.S. I think Bella may have her cowboy boots on the wrong feet. We are a stylin' family!

When Steve's parents were here last week, we let Evelyn play in one of my potted plants and may have forgotten about her briefly. And then this happened...she looks like one of Shrek's offspring. 

 There's really no reason to put two pictures, except that her little lips are puckered and she looks adorable. I'm loving the pigtails, even when they're uneven!

At Papa and Mimi's this weekend, Bella experienced the joy of having Cool Whip sprayed directly into your mouth. It's a good day for everyone!
I just had to remember these cute little moments that have happend during the last week. Details of Grandpa's memorial service coming soon!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grief Comes And Goes

We got a call last night from my Dad that my Grandpa had passed away. Grandpa (my mom's dad) has been sick for awhile, with the cancer spreading all through his body. We knew he hadn't been doing well, but in the end, everything happened very quickly. He was only moved into hospice a week ago, and the oncologist said there was nothing more she could do.
I wish I could say that my sadness was mostly due to missing my grandfather, but honestly, the talks of death and hospitals just made me remember Lily. Talking with my parents about Grandpa in the hospital and how his breathing was shallow and they didn't know if he could hear just makes my chest feel tighter.
I told Steve last night that I didn't want to just lay there and cry for ten minutes, but that didn't work. He let me cry anyway and then turned on Friends re-runs. He's a good man.
We're driving down on Friday morning to be there with my parents and my Grandma. I think the memorial service is going to be on Saturday so that my Grandpa's family can be there. I'm not sure how Steve and I are going to do at a funeral, but I'm trying really hard to remind myself that this weekend isn't about me; it's about Grandma and my Mom, and being able to remember the good things about my Grandpa.
Pray for us this weekend! Based on our emotions after a few phone calls, I think it's going to be an emotional experience!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Evelyn Is Walking!

We've had little moments of a few stumbled steps in a row, but we're calling Sunday, September 1, 2013, as Evelyn's "First Official Steps"! The little human is 16 months old, so it's about time. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should add that after the triumphant afternoon that we captured on film, she's decided not to walk at all today. Stubborn babies are swell, aren't they?
Grandma took a few pictures and I got a short video. We'll see if it loads okay...

You can't really tell that she's doing anything besides standing still, but she's walking all by herself! She seems to do better with something in her hands...
You'll have to excuse my "Proud Mama" voice; it gets higher and higher, the farther she walks!

Today Was A Good Day

This weekend had some wonderful "good" days, all in a row. Steve and I got to run out a few times on our own, Dad finished some much-needed projects around the house, and Mom got in some good play time with Bella and Evelyn. It was a relaxing, calm weekend after Thursday and Friday were rough emotionally. God has been good. (I know He's still good, even when the days are rough, but I'm thankful that He's given us good days lately, too!)

Little Squirt, playing the piano

Crashing all together and watching some PBS on our phones.

We decided on a whim last night to bake a chocolate cake with homemade icing. Bella was a great help and it was delicious!

We've started torturing Evelyn by putting her in pigtails. It's just so cute, I can't resist!

Our family at Taqueria Tsunami on the's becoming a family favorite!

Daddy and Evelyn at the Art Fair

Bella playing with the train bell

At the fountain with Grandma and Grandpa.

After naps, Grandma and Grandpa took the girls to the playground in our subdivision and we went shopping!

Playing in the sand...

We came home early and hijacked playtime! 

Evelyn and I on the swing. This may be my new favorite picture...I love her little face.