Friday, May 15, 2015

They're (and We're) Still Hangin' Tough

It's officially the morning after the big concert.  Exhaustion, sleepy eyes, and a super whiney kiddo hasn't kept me down, though.  I think I must be running on adrenaline because that is truly the only thing I can think of that could have helped me muster the energy to get up this morning.  Thank goodness all my classes are blogging today for their warmups because that means I get to give all of you a little review of the totally amazeballs concert!

Let's start this off right with some pictures from before the concert.

My little New Kids fan!
Ryley, Tommi, Chloe, and I once we got to our seats.
And, the lights went down!
Like mother, like daughter!
Making memories!
The view of the stage from our seats!
Kiddo bathroom break, but first, let's take a selfie!

After I got home last night, I was reminiscing about all the concerts I used to go to, and all the shenanigans I used to find myself in.  (Talking my way onto the BSB bus, ending up back stage at Clay Walker, working "security" at Metallica just so I could get backstage, stalking various celebrities and following them back to their hotels...the list could go on...)  Boy, has my definition of shenanigans changed a lot over the last 15 years.  Now, it's bringing along a three year old to see the greatest boy band on Earth and trying to hold her the whole time while screaming, yelling, and acting a fool.  I can remember the young 18 year old Lori sneaking past umpteen security guards and pushing my way to the front of the stage during Jordan's solo days being my NKOTB "shenanigans."  Last night was a whole different NKOTB experience.  I took Chloe with me and Tommi took Ryley.  (Tommi's my BFFL.  We met in fourth grade.  She was new and her teacher posted her picture on the bulletin board.  She was wearing this bright neon colored New Kids shirt, so I knew she had to be cool.  The rest is history!)  Back to the kids...Ryley did awesome!  Chloe, on the other hand, did awesome for the first half of the show.  What was I thinking?!?!  She slept the whole second half of the show.  HOW IN THE WORLD can she sleep at a time like that?!?!  I mean, she was four rows from the greatest men on earth! Okay, maybe that's an over exaggeration, but they are pretty amazing and not to mention the noise level was off the hook.  Yet, there my little girl lay, fully asleep while Tommi and I screamed sang our hearts out.

Getting to the show, it all started with Nelly and TLC as the opening acts.  Nelly....well, to put it in the nicest way possible, I hands down, totally, without a doubt could have never seen him and been okay with that.  He screamed into the mic the whole time, his voice sounded pretty terrible, his back up dancers must have had a night off from the club and really really needed to put some clothes on, and he and his "crew" cursed way too much.  I'm not sure why he signed on to tour with NKOTB, the audience certainly doesn't suit him, but having to cover Chloe's ears a few times was annoying.  Just listen to this video.  He's literally screaming into the mic.

TLC was better! They kept it clean, sang all their hits, and danced their butts off all while wearing the most atrocious, hideous, what were they thinking gold shiny overalls.   Overall, they entertained, though,  However, I did come to one conclusion.  T Boz, her voice is just strange, and I couldn't think of what it reminded me of for the longest time.  Then, it hit me.  She sounds like she's trying to channel her best Britney Spears voice while going hoarse! Seriously.  YouTube her.  She so does.  Here's a snippet of her singing Creep.

Once the New Kids took the stage, the fun could finally begin.  Chloe was excited but totally fighting off the sleepy eyes from song one.  She did wave at the guys a few times when they came near, sang a few songs, and was full of smiles. 

The guys opened the show with a few new songs from their album, 10, but quickly sprang into all our favorite hits.  Here's the song list for the two hour show.

Block Party
My Favorite Girl
The Right Stuff
The Whisper / Single / Shout (Medley)
Let's Try It Again
We Own Tonight
Didn't I Blow Your Mind
Valentine Girl
If You Go Away
Please Don't Go Girl
Dirty Dancing
Just a Friend
Good Vibrations
Baby I Believe in You/Give it to you (Jordan)
Sweet Dreams/Twisted (Joey)
I Need You/Lean on Me/Cover Girl (Donnie)
Step By Step
I'll Be Loving You Forever
Hangin' Tough
I won't bore you with a play by play of their every move, but I do want to share some of the highlights and, of course, a ton of videos!  It was Danny's birthday, so they celebrated with us singing to him and cupcakes. His dad is touring with him, so he was up there for their little celebration, too. 
A shirtless Jordan and Joe made for happy arena of middle-aged women.  About mid way through the show, both guys did a few solo songs...shirtless.  It. Was. Beautiful. Seriously...
The stage was set up so that there were these trap doors that led beneath the stage where changing rooms were set up.  In these changing rooms were CAMERAS!  Yes, you read that right, CAMERAS.  I have a lovely little video of the guys changing outfits.  Check it out!
Joe's son, Griffin, joined the guys for "Tonight," and he is so stinking cute!  He looks just like his daddy!  "He sang into the mic "Remember when we said girl please don't go..." and Jordan took it from there.  Then, at the end, he started off the "la la la la la la tonight."  What a lucky little boy! 
We had awesome seats.  We were on the floor, fourth row back and directly in front of a little set of stairs that leads off the stage and onto the floor in front of us.  Lucky me!  Donnie, Jordan, and Jon all came down at different times into the audience where we were.  I think I was the most stoked about Donnie; I was so close to him!   He is seriously such an awesome guy, and I just love him to pieces.  BUT, that moment really was trumped when Jordan came down.  He was on his way to sing to a girl in the risers, and walked right by me and...wait for it....touched my hand! Did you catch that?  JORDAN TOUCHED MY HAND!!!!  I then promptly checked to make sure my heart didn't stop beating. ;)  That moment was definitely, hands down, without a doubt, THE best moment of the night.  I have been loving the New Kids since third grade.  I had to wait until I was 18 to meet one of them, Jordan.  Sixteen years later, I'm now 34 and finally got to touch one of them.  Maybe when I'm fifty I can finally get that picture with them I've been longing for. Hey, a dreamer can dream, right?  Here's the video of him singing to the girl in the risers.  Oh to be that girl...
Look how close Donnie was!
 Jordan singing to a girl in the crowd!
All in all, a good great amazing spectacular time was had by all of us, and I can't wait until the next time we see them.  Oh, and wanna know how the night ended?  When the lights came up, and I went to pick up my sleeping child, she had not only missed so much of the fun, but was covered in green and white confetti.  Bless her sleepy little heart.  We just wore her out!
Here are a few snippets from my favorite parts of the show.
Block Party (the opening song)
My Favorite Girl (part I)
My Favorite Girl (part II)
If You Go Away (probably my all time favorite ballad)
Intro to Cover Girl
I'll Be Loving You Forever
Step By Step
Jordan's swag dance moves in Step By Step
Danny breakdancing
Joe's Solo
As they have done for the last 27 years, they ended the show with Hangin' Tough.
And, just like that, the show was over. :(  We had a blast, though, and made lots of memories! #nkotbmommy #blockheadforlife #lovemesomedonnie

Till next time,

Friday, January 16, 2015

Christmas Recap and 2015 Goals

It's been a few weeks, but after that exhausting year in review, I think everyone, readers and writer, needed a blog break.  This week, as a part of their semester exam, I had my students reflect on their experiences in 2014 and create a few goals for the future.  One sweet student was kind enough to point out that, although I promised in my last blog that my 2015 goals were coming, I never posted them for the world to see.  So, here you have it: a quick recap of Chloe's Christmas (because one day I'll want to remember this), and my 2015 goals. 

 I'll start with a little recap of the past three years.  My girl REALLY needs to stop growing up! :(
Six Months Old

18 Months Old

2 1/2 years old

3 1/2 Years Old


Chloe had quite the year.  She's growing up so fast.  Literally, growing UP.  Her toddler bed was running out of room for those long legs of hers, so we ever so smoothly placed the idea in her head that she should ask Santa for a big girl bed.  Our argument must have been smooth as butter, because she bought right in adding, "Yeah, and a TB, too."  For those not fluent in Chlonese, that would be her word for TV.  We had it all worked out.  When she went to Santa, she had three things on her list:
1. A bid durl bed
2. A tb
3. A reindeer bell (That's what happens when you watch Polar Express.)  And, here is how her Santa visit went...

Needless to say, Santa got an earful of screaming, but when we left, he still had no idea what she wanted for Christmas, only that she had a very strong, healthy set of lungs. No worries, though, we fixed it with a letter to Santa.

You know Santa can't disappoint such a cute, sweet little girl, so on Christmas Eve, Chloe slept in our room, and Santa brought her a TB and a "bid durl bed."  He was nice enough to even put the bed together, make the bed (one of my most loathed chores), and mount the tv away from the prying, destructive hands of a toddler.  When Chloe walked into her room Christmas morning, she threw her hands in the hair and said, "Are you kidding me!?"  I can't tell you how many people have asked me if I got it on video. Nope.  Only smart, well prepared mamas think of intelligent ideas like that. :/  Here she is in all her glory, celebrating with her new roommate, Luke.

"Are you kidding me!?"

This didn't take long at all.  Her first thoughts were, "Now Wookie (Luke) can sleep with me.  AND, he can watch the TD!"

Then, she discovered the reindeer bell Santa left on her pillow.

Isn't it just too cute...

Who knew the simplest of gifts could bring such joy.  This bell has had LOTS of play time the past few weeks.

Her overnight room makeover was a success! (and still a work in progress)
The sheer joy this sweet smile brings me is insurmountable.  Look at that face!  She was so excited Santa liked her cookies and milk.
Chloe and her new roommate.  I promise Luke is thrilled with getting to sleep in Chloe's room on her bed with her.  This is just his poker face.

Their first night as roomies. <3

 Christmas was a success.  It doesn't escape me that not every child is as lucky as Chloe, and yes, I know we spoil her, but as long as she is a good, sweet little girl with a loving heart and a giving spirit, we will try to always make these holidays as special as we can for her.  That said, we also reinforce the reason for the season.  Chloe can tell you all about the Christmas Story and why Christmas is a celebration, and that, my friends, is the biggest gift of all.

Now, on to 2015 goals.  I don't do resolutions.  If I want to lose weight, then I buckle down and lose it.  If I want to get fit, then I do it.  I don't need the first of the year to resolve to make changes in my life.  I do have goals I try to make for myself, though. 

It has hit me pretty hard recently with the realization that, if we start Chloe in Kindergarten on time, and that's a big IF, she only has a year and a half left before starting school.  Saying that literally puts a lump in my throat.  Chloe is a summer baby, and I have seriously thought about waiting another year to start her in school.  I mean, there will be kids in her class almost a YEAR older than her!  We all know what a difference a year can make.  I do feel like she will be mentally ready to start on time, and she already knows so much, but I can't help but be sad that in a year and a half, her whole life changes.  Being a teacher, this next line might be hard to believe but.....wait for it..... for pete's sake, let her just be a kid.  Let her have her time to enjoy being a kid without any responsibilities, knowing what it is to wake up without a required place to be, required work to do, and living your life according to a school calendar.  It's sad to think that from Kindergarten all the way to retirement, each and every day most everyone wakes up with an expected place to be, required tasks to accomplish.  That being said, I want to go into this year as if she will be leaving the nest to start school soon, and really savor every moment together.  I'm too busy right now.  I take on too much, wear too many hats,  and drag Chloe along for the ride most of the time.  She's such a trooper, but I want this to be her year.  My goal is to simplify our life (I have a plan but I'll save that for later), and find the time to spend and savor doing what SHE wants to do rather that what I have to do. 

Another goal, which directly aligns with simplifying my hectic life, is learning to be more patient and less controlling.  Kids are kids.  They're messy, do things "their way," get into everything, and have their own ideas that don't always match up with ours.  Let it be said, I am a control freak.  I like things done my way, and I can sometimes not be patient enough.  It's the worst when I'm stressed out and lacking in time to do the basic things around the house.  I see it in myself. I'm a good mom, I don't doubt that, but I see those moments where I need to let loose, not feel like I have to control every second of every day, and let Chloe lead the way.  I'm really trying hard at this one.  The last thing I want for her to remember of me during her childhood was that I couldn't let loose, couldn't let her just do things her way, was nitpicky,or that I wasn't any fun.  Truthfully, it takes a lot of discipline for me to just let go, but here are two examples from tonight of me forcing myself to let loose of all control.  Goodbye perfectionistic ways, hello home with a toddler.  Chloe helped me fold the towels and put away the silverware tonight.  She did an excellent job, she really did.  Is it the way I would do it?  No way.  The old me would go behind her and fix it all, or worse, on a stressed out kinda night, just not want her to help me.  It feels good to let her help out and see that bright smile so proud of what she has done.

Seriously, she's three.  This is pretty darn good.
A perfect job with just a hint of chaos to it.

Those are my two main focuses this year.  I don't like to overload myself with too many goals at once.  It makes them less achievable and certainly less difficult to focus much time on.  Aside from those, though, I would also like to:

*Find a church home that we all three love
*Read a few "raising a daughter" books
*Buy my very own custom URL for my blog
*Redecorate most of the house

I'll keep you posted on my progress throughout the year.  Exciting things are coming, my friends!  On the first day of January, I donned this year the year of change, and I promise, there will be lots of it!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: Our Year In Review

And, just like that, it's over, folks. How can it be that we live so many years in such a short amount of time?  Life is really too short.  This year has flown by.  These past three years have flown by. Father time, ssssllllllooooowwwww down.  I want to savor every moment, live in it, breathe it, love it, appreciate it.  I truly believe that these are the best years of my life.  My girl is small, cute, sweet, and thinks I am worth spending every minute with.  Before I know it, she will be a sassy teenager bound and determined to not hang around her parents any more than absolutely necessary.  Someone, please, tell me, where is the pause button?!?!?

When I sat down to put together this little year in review, I literally teared up a few times.  It's been an amazing year for us Thompsons, and here's a few of the highlights.

We kicked January off with a bang.  Phase one of Operation Bye Bye Paci was officially under way.  It was gut wrenching...and lengthy.  The paci didn't finally go bye bye until the end of May.  If I'm being completely honest, and at the risk of having to duck and cover from my husband, I really kinda miss my paci baby.  She was the cutest paci sucker ever.
Just see for yourself, my friends!

I also traveled to San Francisco for a few days at the end of January, leaving my baby for the first time ever.  The night before I left was so much harder than I imagined.  I looked so forward to this little get away, and boy did I need it in the worst way, but when it came time, my gut literally hurt at the thought of getting on a plane without her.  I was up all night, anxious, nervous, and just a general mess.  While I was there, I hardly got to talk to anyone because we were so busy.  I was missing my baby girl like crazy and literally walking in the freezing cold night to dinner in Fisherman's Wharf when I finally got to FaceTime with my cutie.  I'm not gonna lie...there were teary eyes to be had.

 This year was the first year for Chloe to really "get" what the different holidays mean.  Here she is on Valentine's day with her yummy gifts she picked out for Jade and Jenna.  

I also turned 33 in February.  Like I said, time. is. flying.  Usually, Rusty isn't in town on my birthday, and, of course, I always have to work.  Last year, he was out of town, so Chloe and I met Mimi at Chuck E Cheese after I got off work.  Yes, I spent my 32nd birthday at Chuck E Cheese.  This year, I worked past 8 o'clock with Chloe in tow the two consecutive nights prior.  So, my birthday night was spent relaxing, taking in sweet snuggles with the cutest girl in the world. Photo creds to my old, crappy iPhone.  #peaceoutiPhone4s #terriblepixelation

March. March was BIG.  
For us Thompsons, March means baseball.  March means dusting off the Rangers gear, pulling out the glove, and taking in a few home games.  Chloe loves baseball.  Have you ever seen a two year old actually watch the game and cheer them on???

Chloe also got her first passport in March.  It took me 27 years to get a passport.  It only took her two and a half.  Afterwards,  she got rewarded with ice cream for being such a patient, good girl during the hour and a half wait. 

The biggest part of our March, though, was our Spring Break.  We, along with 24 other students, my mom, and a few parents, traveled to Washington DC and New York City for some Spring Break fun.  It was amazing.  It was exhausting.  It was SO WORTH every penny I spent getting there, every hour I spent planning out all the details, and every freak out, second guessing moment of "What AM I doing taking middle schoolers AND a two year old under my wing for 5 days?" We had a blast.  Here are a few of the highlights.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again; my kids are simply THE BEST.  All my pictures from March were deleted from my junky iPhone during a reset (thank GOD that phone is gone now), so I had to grab these pictures from my Instagram.  Sadly, the quality is, well....blah.
 Miss independent got her own luggage.
NYC from the top of the Empire State Building.
 At The Capitol Building all bundled up.  Did I mention that an artic blast hit the day we arrived and it was FREEZING the whole trip?
 We were waiting on President Obama to drive by.  Eventually, we decided he wasn't worth the wait and that lunch sounded way more appealing.
 In the elevator, headed up 86 floors at 20mph to the top of the Empire State Building is kinda scary.
FAO Schwartz was a must stop.  Anyone ever seen the floor piano in Big?

We were on the ferry headed for the Statue of Liberty.  She was SO good the whole trip.

The boys at the Statue of Liberty.

Briley and I were braving the subway for the first time.

Finally, one day, when Chloe asks to go to the White House, I'll tell her how boring she found it the first time she went.

Happy Easter! As always, remember the reason for the "season."

Matthew 28: 5-6
And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.  He is not here: fore he is risen, as he said.

John 11:25-26 

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

He is risen, we are saved, and I stuffed just a few eggs.

May brought on a busy month of "end of school year" hoopla, but nothing compared to Chloe's end of year FIRST DANCE RECITAL! She did a great job and we were all SO VERY PROUD of her!

In true fashion, I blinked and June was over.  June is big in our house.  It's goodbye school and hello, summer! With saying goodbye to school, Chloe said goodbye to Jakki (for forever this time), and we let the summer fun commence.  Chloe's last day at Jakki's began by getting up early that morning to make her a goodbye card.

Swim lessons began the first day of summer.

We played hard, acted silly, and stayed up late.

And, of course, we turned THREE!  We celebrated in style with a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed birthday party, took the little miss on a Vera Bradley shopping spree, and made sure her stuffed animals joined in the celebration by blowing up balloons for the birthday girl to wake up to.

Chloe also said bye bye to her paci for good finally.  She was such a brave, big girl as she stuffed them in a Build a Bear that we now have donned Paci Puppy.

Finally, how can I leave out Chloe finally getting her very first haircut.  It was three long, bald years in the making!

Sigh. June was intense.  My baby is never allowed to do that much growing up in 30 days ever again.

In July, Rusty turned 33, and we took a family vacation to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico...and took almost no pictures.  We were in the water most of the time, so you know how that goes.  Here's a few highlights I did manage to capture. 

Our view from the balcony was gorgeous.

 Rusty caught a really big fish...which we then had to pay to be processed and shipped back to the United States.  Thanks, babe. ;)

Chloe was promised she could swim with the dolphins if she gave up her paci before we went on the trip.  She was SO excited until we stepped in the water.  Then, she totally freaked out.  We were in the water with this beauty for over an hour.  It was amazing.  Since I had swam with them before, they let me do an underwater swim with her rather than a boring ole dorsal tow or foot push.  I literally put goggles on, grabbed onto her dorsal fin and flipper, and away we went 15-20 feet down into the water, fast as lightening.  I can't even describe the feeling.  It was such an awesome experience that I have no documentation of.  I do have this beautiful picture of Chloe and I with the dolphin hanging on my refrigerator, though!  Excuse the quality; it's a picture of a picture.

August was marked by another trip, this time with Mimi and Mamaw to Branson, Missouri, and the start of a new school year.

We road tripped it up to Branson and took in countless shows and sites.  It was a great girl's trip!  I also funded the entire trip by selling a mere three dresses from Chloe's winter collection of Sweet Honey.  I know lots of my friends comment on how beautiful those dresses are.  They're not just beautiful, my friends, they're profitable!  

 Here is Chloe outside of Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.  It's a beautiful property, and you can visit all the horse stables as well.  Chloe was in horsie heaven.

Chloe took this picture below.  Aside from the slight blur, I think she did pretty good!

She also managed to cut her finger on a piece of glass at the Old Time Five and Dime.  It scared the crap out of me.  She bled and bled, cried and cried.  Once we finally got the bleeding to stop, she didn't end up needing stitches, but I sure did feel awful for her. :(

Road trips can be fun...and boring.  We took selfies to pass the time and when we got extremely bored...well, see for yourself.

With the start of the new school year, Chloe also started PRESCHOOL!  The first few weeks went something like this...

Talk about breaking a momma's heart!

September brought with it a happier little girl when it came to school, cheer season kicked off, and, oh yeah, we kinda got a tractor.  You know, because everyone living in a housing community with a yard small enough you could pee across it needs a tractor...

Happy Halloween from the cutest little girl horsie I know!

November was exciting.  I took another trip without my girl, this time to Rome. It was beautiful, it was amazing, and it was by far the best trip of the year.  I only wish my little family could have joined me.

Bring on December!  This is by far my favorite time of the year.  I love to decorate the house.  I love sitting in the living room with all the lights off and beautiful Christmas lights illuminating the room.  Christmas means so much more, too, now that we have Chloe.  I think it's super important to not get so caught up in all the hoopla and forget the reason for the season.  A baby was born to be our savior, to provide us eternal life, to sacrifice for our sins.

December just flies by way too quick.  Here are a just a few pictures from our festivities.  Somehow, I managed to not get one family picture this year of the three of us. :/

There it is! My little family's year in review.  I must say, though, what I cherish more than any of these "big" moments are the small ones; the daily morning picture we take of Chloe to send to daddy, the mommy/Chloe selfies, the nightly cuddles in the recliner, the sitting at a toddler table playing games, eating fake food, and putting the same ole puzzles together for the bazillionth time.  Tomorrow is never promised.  Remember that and cherish those average, everyday moments because they're not so average; they're spectacular.  2014 was a great year.  I can't wait to see what 2015 holds.  We kick it off with a big trip to London and Paris in about 2 1/2 months!  See you soon for a peek at my 2015 goals!

Until next time,

Happy New Year!