Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have a Walker!

You'll have to tilt your head to see (ahem, technical difficulties) but here is Katherine taking some of her first steps. I love how she is laughing the whole time, so cute!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Friends Rule

Can I just say, I have the best group of friends ever. Hands down. Yesterday a surprise box arrived in the mail. Filled with some of my fav yummy Trader Joe's treats. Thank You! Thank You! This totally made my day. One of the many things I miss about living in CA is Trader Joes. I used to do at least half of my regular shopping there. And especially now with kids, I would love to have one near, but for the moment, it is not to be.

Great friends, you know who you are, my belly is very happy right now, mmm...

Friends rule.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I've been cheating

You may have noticed as of late my posts have been a bit sporadic. I have a confession to make. I have been cheating on this blog. I didn't plan it, it just... sort of... happened. Innocently enough, we were just to be friends. But I got caught up. And have been seeing him on a daily basis. Yes, folks, I have been cheating on Dean and the Dixon Chicks with...


There, I've said it. It's finally off my chest. I've felt horrible about neglecting you, and honestly, it feels great to be back. But I know I will digress again. I've accepted I am not a monogamous internet poster and I am okay with that. So I will continue this relationship, because I do love you so, my precious blog. But you will have to share me with my facebook friends. It doesn't mean I love you any less, it just means I am well rounded. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

In the meantime, Natalie has started her new preschool and now goes every morning. We both love this! She is starting to write her name, which is amazing for me to see. And she's starting to ask all the "why" questions. It's been so fun to watch her develop and start trying to understand why things are the way they are.

Katherine is on the cusp of walking and I love watching her motor around the house. She appears to be more of a daredevil than Natalie and is chattering away non-stop. It is adorable. I love, love this age and just want to bottle it up. I could literally sit in a chair and just watch her all day an be thoroughly entertained. Yeah, I love that gal.

Here are a few of the latest photos for your enjoyment.

Summer Fun - Joan, if you lived here you could hang in the pool with us.

Natalie breaking out the rain gear...

Bathtime fun

First time painting mother/daughter toes!

and ps - if you didn't notice, I have a new URL for this blog: Was having some issues with the other domain, so had to move it. Same great blog, new URL...

Friday, July 17, 2009


Today is Katherine's 1st birthday. Wow. Happy Birthday Kate!!!

Like all parents, I'm wondering where this year went? It flew by in a hurricane-swift gust. And today, my daughter is just a beautiful, happy baby girl. Chattering and laughing. Cooing and crying. Screaming to be heard and oohing and aahing at the world around her. So lovely, this constant state of change. She will soon to be off and running... yet I want this moment to last. I know it is ever so brief, and cannot believe it was a short year ago, that I was huge with child, swollen and impatient to meet her.

Maybe it's because I know this is my last baby... I'm 41 and neither Dean and I have the capacity/energy/patience for another child. We are thrilled with our girls and our family feels complete. But I just want this moment to last a little longer. I want to hold onto the baby cuddles, the coos, the giggles, and the pure beauty of an innocent and all encompassing smile. Katherine brings me such joy everyday, I truly cannot describe this feeling in words. She is just so adorable.

She is on the cusp of crawling and like with Natalie, I'm eager to see where this leads her. Where her curiosity will take her. And of course, how fast I have to chase her to keep up. It's very interesting with a second child to see the similarities and differences to their sibling. Like Natalie, Katherine is a great sleeper (thank you sleeping gods!), pretty easy going and loves to look at books and have them read to her. She is much more animated and silly than Natalie was. She loves to make you laugh and can crack herself up playing with any given toy. This is adorable to watch.

She loves the water as much as Natalie, which is great for FL living and is already a dancing gal like her mama. Turn on a good beat, or punch a musical button on a toy and she gets super excited and moving. We have regular living room dance parties and she loves me to hold her and dance around the room with her. I cannot wait to take Natalie, and then Katherine to their first concerts. And to listen to their first recitals with whatever musical instrument they choose. But for now, I'm going to enjoy holding her, rocking with her and doing anything I can to get that adorable grin on her face. Because I know in a blink of an eye, she will be a teenager and prefer the company of her friends to her mom. So until that day comes, I will soak up every moment of being the center of her universe. It's a pretty good place to be.

So happy birthday Katherine! You are an amazing baby and we love you more than you can know.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Thanks FPD

Just wanted to shout out a thanks to the police officer who pulled me over for speeding today and DID NOT give me a ticket. I owe the smaller Dixon Chicks for this one.

My early driving years were filled with angst for my parents. I rear ended someone in my first car on an overpass. I then rolled the same small hatchback car, stuffed with three friends, off a highway due to speeding and other stupid teenage antics while driving. Totaled that car. Then, I almost drove myself and a friend over an embankment while driving around an L turn in a new mall and simultaneously trying to change a tape. So, you think I'd have learned by now. Especially with my own children in the car. Sigh.

To get to our house we have to drive almost a mile on a 2 lane road that circles around our neighborhood for 4 miles. The speed limit is 30. I regularly speed on this road for various stupid reasons:

- Apparently, I like to drive too fast.
- I hate hearing screaming children in the backseat and just want to get home.
- I'm constantly late.

So I pull onto this road, speed up, and then immediately see the 2 motorcycle cops; one writing a ticket and the other just getting back onto his motorcycle. So I slow down quickly, but not before he pulls right out and flashes the light. Damn! I pull over and he comes over and asks for my license and registration. He then comes back and tells me he pulled me over as I was going 45 in a 30 zone. Then he asks me why I was speeding. I tell him my daughter was screaming in the back seat because she was hungry and I was trying to get home to feed her. (while not entirely true at that moment, it does happen often) He looks back at Katherine and then at Natalie and smiles and says she must be hungry too. I give him a lame smile and he says that the ticket is $241 and that he'll give me a warning this time. I am so thankful I could kiss him! I was fully prepared to accept the ticket I deserved and come home and have Dean be really angry, but today I got lucky. And you know what? I'm going to take this lesson and drive 30 on the road from now on. All the neighborhood teenagers will hate and curse me I'm sure, but I don't care.

In the meantime, as I drove home from the incident, another 1/2 mile, by the time I turned into my neighborhood I had five cars behind me. And guess what? They were all going 30mph.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Girlie Fun

Natalie had her very first ballet recital yesterday. She was adorable! It was so fun to get her all dressed up in a fancy tutu, feathers in her hair and ballerina bun. She loved it. I remember how much I loved getting dressed up and finding out what our costumes would look like each year when I danced as a child. So it's very fun to relive this with Natalie.

She takes classes at the local YMCA, so it's fairly low key and more fun just to watch the little kids react to all the crowd watching them. Her 3-4 year old class did great, a fun swing song and she alternated between dancing her heart out and looking around. I'll have to get video soon, but here are a couple photos.

In the blue, waiting for the show to start

Still waiting...

Post show cupcake!

And in other matters, we have successfully created the second binky addict in the family. I know. This is how I find Katherine after most naps. Think she likes her bink(ies)?

We put 3-4 in her crib so if she wakes up in the middle of the night she can find one. Works well as she's been sleeping through the night for months now. Looks like there will be another visit from the binky fairy at some point in the Dixon household...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Four? Really? Already?

Wow, how did this happen? Just yesterday you were so tiny and helpless. I had to do everything for you. And now, suddenly, you are becoming your own little person. With your own sense of humor, kindness and sweet personality. Oh Natalie, I'm so proud of your four year old self!

You have become such a social gal... you freely go up and introduce yourself to other kids, you say hi to everyone and almost always remember to say thank you.

I melted at your birthday party when you went to every kid and gave them a big hug and said thank you for coming to my party. I was so proud. I see that you actually do listen to what your dad and I try to teach you. And that you are kind, emotional and happy. I couldn't ask for more.

This may be my favorite age yet. You are beginning to understand the world, and have endless questions. I love that.

I love that every single time I pick you up from preschool, as soon as you see me you yell "mommy!" and come running for a hug.

I love that you tell me, everyday, in the sweetest voice "mommy, I love you. You always take care of me." And while I know you are starting to get a sense of how that makes me feel, you really have no idea. When you're in that sweet mood, I just melt. In that moment, there is nothing I would not do for you. Or say yes to. Thank god you don't yet know the power you yield.

I love that you still wake up singing every morning. (not so much at 5:30 in the morning, but it's still pretty darn cute)

I love watching you swim in the pool with your dad. And that at almost four, he got you to jump in off the edge.

I love how sweet and caring you are to your baby sister Katherine. You get so happy when you make her laugh. And you are the best little helper.

And to be fair and honest, there are a few things I don't love so much:

- the newly found high pitched screaming. Yeah. That's got to go.
- the daily rounds of "I don't waaaant to play by myself"
- the fact that on school days, I have to wake you up at 7:00 to get you to school on time, but every other day of the week you like to start your morning singing around 5:45/6:00. Really, what's up with that?

But those complaints are small and minor to the joy that you have brought your father and I. We love you so very much Natalie, and look forward to all the adventures your fourth year brings.

And here are some highlights from the weekend birthday extravaganza.

Friday was her preschool party, which mommy got to make 40 cupcakes for. Yay. The Montessori school does a cute birthday celebration where you walk around the world and say the four (or whatever age) things you want to do that year. In case you can't make it out Natalie's were, in order:

1) Help mommy make pancakes
2) Help mommy do the dishes (right on, but I've no idea where that came from)
3) Play with my baby sister Katherine
4) Play with my friends

And a couple photos from the birthday weekend.

For more birthday photos:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back from Cali

We're back!

After almost two weeks in CA, we are settling back into our routines and timezone. Fun was had by all. It was a great combination of a good quality family time, and a little friend time too. I've many tales to tell, but no time at the moment. However, I did have to post my favorite photo from the trip. It is of the cousins, and recreates a photo of Pete and I and our cousins from back in the 70s. I love it!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This photo sums up my St. Patrick's Day for 2009:
- The hat was decorated by Natalie at our St. Patrick's day party on Saturday. Green m&m's were also leftover from the party. Shockingly, it had a green theme.
- The Smithwick's is what I am drinking tonight, leftover from the party. I intended to drink a Guinness, but they are all in the cooler, now warm. While I am an Irish American, I am pure American in my beer temperature preference. Don't like it warm, Guinness or no.
- Though it is not a Guinness, it had to be drunk from the Guinness pint, borrowed by Dean from the The Temple Bar in Dublin. Dean and I were in Ireland for Sherry's wedding and it was at the Temple Bar we got to tell the first person (Melissa) that were were engaged. He had proposed the day before. So I will always love Ireland for many reasons.
- I've been talking up Ireland to Natalie over the past few days, showing her the photo we took on Lettermullen Island right after Dean proposed and promising to take her when she is a little older. I'll get the travel bug in that girl yet!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I am surrounded

Okay, enough already!

When we moved into our house in FL, you couldn't walk out the front door to the driveway and not see at least half a dozen lizards scattering about. I actually liked this then, and still do now. I enjoy watching them and Natalie loves to chase them.

When I found the lizard in my shopping cart, I impressed myself by my calmness.

However, when moving the couch in our living room today to try out a newly purchased rug from Costco, along with the expected dust bunnies, was a dead and slightly petrified lizard. ew! Thank god for Dean as there was NO WAY I was going to touch that.

I shudder to think what else, deal or alive is roaming in my house.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Things Change

What happens after you have kids and you're relaxing with a cold one...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Epcot Fun

One great thing about living in Florida is inexpensive Disney tickets. (well, inexpensive by Disney standards) Dean's sister was out last September and he took Natalie and upgraded to the three day pass as it is such a good deal. So we headed to Epcot last Thursday. And will be off to Magic Kingdom this Friday as the tickets expire in two weeks.

Since we had two days, I was going back and forth about Epcot vs. going to Magic Kingdom twice. We've been to Animal Kingdom, which was very cool, but the Tampa zoo is so amazing, I hate to go back until Katherine is old enough to appreciate it. After much googling about taking a preschooler to Epcot, I decided there was enough to make a trip worthwhile.

So the day of, I was really excited. I have wanted to go to Epcot for years. I love to travel and was really excited to see the countries. Dean and I have been wanting to to by ourselves ever since we moved to FL, but haven't been able to make the babysitting factor work out. Well, we should have waited. We did have fun, but honestly, with a preschooler, it was a let down. Natalie could only go on three of the rides because of height limits and her fear of loud movies. And one of the rides had a scary troll which she did not dig.

The highlights were the female taiko drummers in Japan, absolutely incredible. Even Katherine was wide eyed! And Natalie loved the chinese acrobats. Even though we were sitting right next to the speaker and I had to cover her ears (no, it's not really that loud, but she is very sensitive to loud noises). She loved the Nemo ride, although Bruce the "friendly" shark as proclaimed by mom and dad, was still a little scary. And the boat ride in Mexico was a hit with both girls.

The problem was, there was a lot of walking and waiting between rides and shows. We didn't really get to see all the cool stuff in FutureWorld as the kids were too small and we didn't get to explore the countries because again, the younger set wasn't really down with that. So basically, all the great things about Epcot I've really wanted to see, were missed. While Natalie did have fun, she kept saying the "other" Disney was better. So lesson learned. We won't head to Epcot with the kids again for several years, at least until Katherine is four or five. Hopefully Dean and I will get to go by ourselves at some point before then. That said, the fact that you can drink beer and cocktails at Epcot highly increased the enjoyment factor for Dean and I. And the popcorn and frozen lemonade factor kept Natalie pretty happy. I think Katherine enjoyed it the most of all, she was basically wide-eyed the whole time. And that was pretty great.

But we did have some fun and here are the pix to prove it:

Katherine meeting her first princess

Princess love...

The Dixon Chicks!

Enjoying the Japanese Taiko Drummers

Friday, February 20, 2009

Happy 70th Birthday Mom

Happy Birthday Mom!

I bet you can’t believe you are 70 years young!! We couldn’t let a milestone like this slip by unnoticed, so I solicited your family and friends to send me birthday wishes and stories from the past for you to enjoy on this special day. I have really enjoyed reading them as they have rolled in and I know you will as well. So sit back, grab a box of tissues before you begin (I know you!) and enjoy...

From: Denny and Joanie Blackburn
Happy Birthday to the little golden haired girl with the Shirley Temple curly locks ---born three score and ten years ago to Bert and Gladys in the back seat of your Grandpa Harrison's 1936 Ford sedan.

After four plus years with little Denny only God knows why Bert and Gladys planned to take a chance on another child; but thankfully they did, and it has been wonderful having you for a sister (and sister-in-law too!)

Happy Birthday, Ann.

All Our Love, Denny and Joanie

From: Gary Blackburn
Aunt Ann!

Happy 70th! I don't even know what you traditionally get for 70? You've long since passed silver and gold. I think carbon-fiber is probably more valuable than both of those these days ;-) I was thinking that if you're 70, that means you were only 24 when I was born! Wow, so much has happened since then. You were probably still a partying sorority girl at 24! ;-)

Seriously, I hope this time in your life brings you much deserved peace and happiness.

Have a wonderful birthday!

All My Love,


From: Pat and Tip Tobias
Dear Ann,

Hooray for seventy!!! What a milestone! The first time I met you, Jim was driving his gun metal gray gas mobile. You have witnessed many changes in the world. Many of the realities of the here and now were just science fiction way back then...We are so very proud of you and are forever thankful to have you in our lives. Enjoy your very, very special birthday. We will be thinking of you, with lots of love!

Tip’s Geezer Philosophy: If you can do at 70 what you did at 40 - you were God damn pathetic at 40. Glad you are on the mend and the doctors finally found out what was going on. Have a very happy day and drink an extra glass of vino for me.

From: Tanya and Michael Mulqueen
Happy birthday Aunt Ann! I can't believe you're 70 - it's just not right. I hope you have a wonderful, special day and take this time to celebrate life. Love, Tanya and Michael.

From: Julie Jones
Hi Ann

Have a good one! You're exactly 1 month & 1 week older than me. I guess we can look at it as surviving. I sure don't feel that old - of course I'm not yet.

Julie Jones

From: Betty Shore
Happy Birthday Ann!!!

I hope your 70th is celebrated with lots of fun with family and good friends. I remember many good times we had when you lived through the block on Pacific St, and then when your family moved across the street from the school playground, and then to the home up on the hill. It's been a treat to connect with you again after losing touch.

There were birthday parties we shared so very many years ago, and I'm very glad to be able to add good wishes for you now across the miles.I hope the years ahead hold lots of good things for you and yours.

Thinking of a story to share, and imagining a birthday cake for you, reminded me of the time I was over at your house on Pacific for the afternoon and an older girl who lived nearby, came over, very proud of herself that she was learning to bake. I guess maybe we were as old as 7 or so, but maybe younger, and maybe she was as much as 11 or so. She invited us down to her house so she could show us that she knew how to bake and didn't even need a recipe. We watched her put the ingredients in the bowl, and my recollection is that she put in Crisco and sugar and beat them up well, as I had seen my mother do for cookies.

I don't remember whether she got much further with other ingredients, but she decided to put in some green food colouring for a little creativity, and the mix became very green indeed. You can imagine her generous with the green as with everything else. By that time, you can imagine also that we were taking tastes by many spoonfuls, with proud encouragement by the new "cook", so we polished off a goodly amount of the bowl's contents, and it never got baked at all. Then of course it was time for us to go back to your place. Well you can picture next, the very green mouths and tongues, and probably hands and faces we both had by that time, and then picture your Mom, faced with these two green goblins.

I remember that at first she was pretty alarmed and wanted to know what on earth we had been eating. We didn't see what the fuss was about, because we had seen what went into the bowl and we knew it was food, and indeed to our taste, quite yummy. When she was satisfied that we hadn't consumed any poison she went for the soap and washcloths and advised us to apply them with considerable vigor. The green food coloring was definitely the long-lasting sort. I can still remember the taste and feel of the sweet green mixture, and also the taste and feel of the soap and washcloth!

Well here's wishing you yummy food on the day, and nobody turning green :-)

From: Diana Sanders Moniz
Dear Annie: I'm going to write this in two installments, because I can't decide which memory to recollect with you. For the first-how about that time when Jim was a dental student at USC, and because he was in the "hood" you had him stop at one of the local drugstores to get you a box of "Silky Straight" for your hair. This was probably because you had just spent $17.00 at a Santa Barbara beauty salon to have your hair professionally straightened only to have it frizz out on you the next night at the homecoming float decorating in the fog. Did you ever get that problem "straightened out"?

Well, Annie: Happy Birthday-I guess you were the first of our pledge class to get your first legal drink (was it at the Plow and Angel?) all those years ago. My other choice memory is the time the ADPi was having the annual Xmas party at the B Bar Whatever Ranch up in the hills. You bought this lovely elegant blue satin dress-very form fitting-so form fitting (remember the Merry Widow Corsets we wore?) and pegged at the bottom that when we went to the bathroom (actually almost an outhouse outside on the really cold deck at the Ranch) that you couldn't get the skirt up over your hips so you could pee. So we had to undress you out there, right down to the corset. Wasn't that fun? HEHEHE. Love and hugs and many happy returns.

From: Joy Thornton
Happy Birthday, Ann, from Santa Barbara! (Actually, GOLETA!!!)

We all missed you at Di's great party last fall. Hopefully Di will send you a picture if she hasn't already! We all had a super time and were so sorry you couldn't make it. We were all looking forward to seeing you there.

HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! One of my favorite quotes we got from someone recently just sums it all up, especially as we are reaching those GOLDEN YEARS!

"Yesterday was history,
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a GIFT -- that's why
they call it the PRESENT!"

Remember to take each day and make it a special gift to each other. Make each day a wonderful PRESENT!

Love, Joy and Tim Thornton

From: Nancy Jo
Ann, CAN YOU BELIEVE WE'VE GOTTEN THIS OLD?!!! Actually I'm much younger than you - you used to brag about being a month older. My first memory of you was when we were 6 years old and you had the measles. I was invited to play with you since I was the only one that had already had it. You taught me to play 52 pickup (I’m sure you learned from Dennis). I'm sure that many of your mothers gray hairs came from being our Camp Fire Girls leader. Do you remember the camping trip when she brought only healthy food and we were all starving. We tried to find the marshmallows that night to no avail and found out later that she had slept with them.

In thinking back I realize what a huge influence your family had on my life - the trips to Alamitos Bay, your dad taking us to Santa Barbara and finding housing for us IN JULY! - going away to college and joining a sorority (I've always been grateful that I didn't know I couldn't afford it). The Santa Barbara years were a really special time - the boarding house - the sorority house on Sola Street (singing after dinner and bridge instead of studying, complaining about having to be in by 1AM ) - the apartment in Isla Vista ( I still remember you going to student teaching wearing 4" heels and a wool suit. If nothing else we ate well with all the home ec majors and burned up several bread boards making Baked Alaska. I hope you'll be able to come next time Di gets us together (what would be do without her). Love and Loyalty Nancy Jo

From: Nancy Stacy
Hi, Ann,
It doesn’t seem possible that this much time has gone by since our Gaucho days in Santa Barbara! Remember Mother B? And the hashers—and that lovely antique home with all the polished (by us) oak?

How lucky we were to have such a wonderful group of Sisters to share our lives with—and how nice that we are still in touch after more years than I can imagine possible. I don’t know if you have noticed, but in my family my two daughters have finally overtaken me in years and are now older than I am! I expect it’s the same for the rest of the crew!

Dad passed away in 2002. Randy and I still get down to Bakersfield 3 or 4 times a year to see Mom, Larry (and his lovely wife Rebecca) and the rest of the family. It’s always fun, and will always be my core “home”.

I think this is such a thoughtful thing for Erin to do for your birthday—clever, these “kids”!
Have a wonderful 70th—I’m right on your tail!

Love and Loyalty,
Nancy Stacy

From: Carolyn Ross Mitchell Congratulations, Ann, on your 70th. Can you believe we’ve been friends since about age four?!? We have come a long way since climbing the fig tree in your parents back yard. Wishing you the best…

From: Robert and Janet Dixon
Dear Ann:

Congratulations and best wishes on becoming the newest family member of "distinguished" septuagenarians.

No doubt you and Jim are looking forward to enjoying the visit from Erin, Dean, Natalie and Katherine and hopefully one of these days we will get to welcome you both to the Florida peninsular.

We wish you much happiness and the best of health in the many, many years ahead.

Robert and Janet

From: Pete Kelley
Today is my Mom's 70th Birthday, and I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to her and to anyone who reads this to what a great Mom she is and has been my entire life. I didn't always know what a truly great Mom she was though. When I was young, I knew she did really cool things like always taking my friends and I (and my sister and her friends) to the park, or to the movies (and letting us buy candy and popcorn and all that stuff you love to have when you're a kid at the movies).

I also remember though, that she was always busy doing things like being the PTA President, or organizing the Discovery Room at Horace Mann elementary where my sister and I went to school. This was a volunteer staffed "exploration" room where your class got to go once a week and do cool stuff. I remember they had a big car engine in there mounted on something like a sawhorse that you could tinker with in addition to many other activities. I always loved that car engine.

What I didn't know then, was that sometimes the volunteers wouldn't come through and my Mom would end up picking up their shifts. I didn't know then that being the PTA President is really a lot of work. See, for those of you who have known me since those days, you may just remember that I wasn't always the "ideal child" or "model citizen". Some might even say I was just a bit of a handful. For I was always managing to get myself in trouble doing some fool thing that I should have known much better than to do because my Mom had surely instilled more sense into me than that.

But alas, did my Mom give up even though I continued to do such fool things well into my young adulthood? No. She didn't. And then, somehow it happened. I grew up, matured, got married, had a couple of kids of my own, and began to volunteer at their preschool. I became the preschool event coordinator. Then, after that, I began to volunteer at their elementary school. I did things like help pick out a new playground for the kindergartners. I participated in, than ran the auction for the school Parents Club (like a PTA, but a separate non-profit organization). And then, lo and behold, I became the president of the school Parents Club. And then I looked back and saw my Mom in myself, and realized just what a lucky person I am for having such a great Mom, for I had come full circle and was following in her footsteps. For one of the main reasons I did these things was because that's what my Mom did and she instilled the belief in me that
one should do these types of things with one's time. And for this I will be eternally grateful.

So on this 70th Birthday, I want to say to my Mom, thanks. Thanks for always being there for me. And I hope you have not only a wonderful Birthday, but many wonderful days ahead while you are retired, because you deserve them and because you have made Erin and I confident adults who are proud to be who we are today.

Okay Mom, now that you're probably crying because I got so mushy and sentimental, here's some great pictures of your grandkids at Disneyland to cheer you up!

With love, your son, Peter

With Cinderella...

With their teachers brick at the Disneyland entrance:

Jordan dressed as Ben Franklin for a school project:

From: Your daughter-in-law Kathy
Since the day I was brought into the "Kelley fold" I've always considered myself fortunate not only to have found the great love of my life, but also his great family!

Happy Birthday Mom!!! You have always embraced me, and I truly love you for that. I hope you spend your birthday getting all the pampering you deserve! Aren't I the lucky one to have a Mother-in-Law I adore! Can't wait to see you soon.

Love, Kathy

From: Granddaughter Megan - 6 years old
What day is it today? It's your Birthday!! Happy Birthday, love Megan. I hope your Birthday is really nice. I hope you have a good Birthday, hugs and kisses.

Love, Megan

From: Grandson Jordan - 10 years old
Dear Grandma,

I love spending time with you and I hope you have a great time on your Birthday. I really like visiting you because I don't see you very often and it's fun to just talk and play games. Well anyways, Happy Birthday and I hope you have fun on your Birthday. When I see you in April, I'll ask you about your Birthday and I hope you have tons of fun until then.



From: Your granddaughters, Natalie (3) and Kate (7mos)
Happy birthday Grandma! Even though we don’t see you often, we talk about you all the time and love to look at photos of you and grandpa. We can’t wait to see you in April! We’ll be looking forward to lots of story time together… and can you please make sure to have some of those delicious happy face cookies?

From: Your son-in-law Dean
Happy Birthday Ann! You were so welcoming and loving from the first time Erin introduced to me to the Family. I distinctly recall you going out of your way to make sure I was comfortable and at home come breakfast morning when you made sure that I had my favorite morning beverage. English Breakfast Tea. :) I am so glad to be part of the family and to have you as my Mother-in-law and look forward to visiting with you and Jim in April. Hope you have a great day.

Much Love, Dean

From: Erin, the original Dixon Chick (aka, your daughter)
Well mom, I hope you’ve enjoyed this “birthday edition” of the blog. I would bet money that you probably started crying the minute you read the first entry. If so, that is great because I know that means you have been touched by the well wishes of those near and far who care for you very much. It was such fun for me to do this for you, especially hearing from many of your friends whose names I remember hearing around the house as we grew up. Technology is such a wonderful thing in how it connects and re-connects people (something I know a little about!)

I have such love and respect for you mom. As I’ve said before, I don’t think I really knew how much you did for Pete and I until I became a mom myself. And I am so, so appreciative. Your hours volunteering in the school library when I was a kid taught me to be active in my community and to think about others. You instilled in me a love of dance and music, which I have already begun to pass on to my girls via our living room dance parties and Natalie in her ballet class, which she loves. You taught me how to stand up for myself (think the keg “incident” in college) and to truly believe in myself. This has mostly served me well. Though there were a couple times in Vegas where I believed in my ability to play 21 a little too much, or a few times at UCSB where I thought I could “hold my own” drinking with the frat boys, but I digress.

My girls are still very young, but I already look forward to the paybacks. The many nights of proclaiming “yuck” in response to you’re telling me what we were having for dinner. The complete lack of respect for most of your opinions from age 14 -18 (then amazingly, after I went off to college you suddenly became intelligent again). And good god, if they start their driving careers as I did… enough said. I know you will chuckle hearing the stories from Pete and I as the grandkids give us the same run through the ringer we did you. And that you will be happy in knowing yours has been a job well done. Because if it weren’t for all your love, support and quiet wisdom, we wouldn’t have the families we do today. So mom, here is a virtual toast your 70 years today, and to creating more memories in the many years to come.

Now what I really want to see is a photo of you in those 4 inch stilettos and wool suit. Anyone? Anyone?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day!

Natalie came home with quite a bag of loot from preschool yesterday. When did Valentines day become the new Halloween? I think she got more candy in her Valentines Day bag than her Halloween bag!

I've come to realize that preschool is not really to prepare the kids for school, but to prepare the parents for all the parties/crafts/cupcakes/outfits/paperwork/school supplies/party favors/ you have to provide for your kids in school. We were told to bring Valentines for all the kids in her class. Which would be 36. But Valentines are sold in boxes of 32. So well I should have just bought 2 boxes, I'm too cheap and just printed out extras from a parenting website. I know I won't be able to get away with this for too many years. But since most of the kids can't read yet I knew I good this year.

But I know these days are short lived. You know I'm not going to be the parent that embarrasses their kid by forgetting to bring something in or doing it "wrong". I had no idea how things are done now. So luckily, I've been schooled and will be better prepared next year ( talk to other parents beforehand to compare notes). So we should all have it down by grade school. Right? Right?

Here is Natalie with her bag she decorated and all her loot:

And here are my two favorite little Valentines...

Tonight, Dean is making me dinner and I'm making dessert. There will be chocolate and champagne after the little ones are in bed. Perhaps a dip in the hot tub too. Perfect!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cold Weather

We went through a cold spell here the past few weeks and I've been loving it. Cold weather is a luxury not often found in Florida. And by cold I mean down into the 20s at night (yay, fire time!) and 50s during the day. I know that is nothing to you midwesterners, but we are feelin' it here.

And Katherine looks so cute in her cold weather gear, I just wish she got to wear it more often. See for yourself...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Vaporizer Hair

So the Dixon Chicks are all still sick, but I think there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Both girls are a little bit better, so I may only have to wipe noses 30 times today. Yippee!

We have been running cold mist humidifiers in both girls rooms for almost two weeks now. Yesterday, I noticed the effect this seems to be having on Natalie's hair. Wow. Throw in a bi-level cut and she could be the new poster girl for 80s big hair.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Florida Grocery Shopping

This weekend I had the luxury of grocery shopping all by myself. Even though it was Saturday afternoon, and the store was crowded with everyone getting their Superbowl supplies, I did not mind. I was alone.

Or so I thought...

While reaching into my cart to throw in my first item, I notice one of Natalie's tiny dinosaurs in the cart. Thinking it must have fallen out of my bag I reach down to pick it up and it moves.

Oh no folks, that was no toy dinosaur in my cart. It was a live lizard. Yep. Good times. So while mildly freaking out, I do what any Floridian would. I calmly walk the cart outside, leave it and get a new one. All in a day's shopping.

So yeah, I think when all is said and done, I may have officially acclimated to living in Florida. Help me!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Kate has had a cold for a week now. After two nights of being up every hour-on-the-hour, I was exhausted. Then we headed to my in-laws for a whirlwind surprise 70th bday party for my father in law. After coming home from that, Natalie woke up with a cold yesterday so I had two sick girls home together. Needless to say, today I am feeling like I'm getting sick. Will be heading out for chicken noodle soup and Zicam soon.

This is particularly disturbing as I was doing so well with my gym routine and resolution to get fit. The first 2 weeks of Jan I made it to the gym 4x/week. Was beginning to feel really good. Then Kate got sick which meant no gym time. This week I expect I won't be able to hit the gym all week because I want to make sure Kate is fully recovered before going back. I'm slightly worried she may have picked this up from the gym, so we'll have to see. So this week I'm focusing on eating healthy and perhaps if I have any energy left I may get in some Wii Fit time. But I'm trying to stay positive and focused and realize that this is my life. It will always be this way and I just need to work around it. While it's frustrating to have setbacks that are out of my control, I know if I stay focused the weight loss and fitness gain will happen in time.

But two things are making me very happy today. First, I'm getting my haircut today, which I just love because it's two hours of leisurely salon time by myself. Pure joy. Second, we are starting to plan a trip to CA in April to see my folks, and that is making me very happy as I miss them and can't wait for them to meet baby Kate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Single Parents, I Bow Down to You

Dean has been in Portland all week. I. am. tired.

I don't know how single parents do it. For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to accept my first design project since Kate was born. A simple 2 hour powerpoint cleanup. While my husband is away. While Kate has been having 2am parties all week. While Natalie was not in preschool. Yeah, smart, I know.

After a horrible morning, the project is done. I have clearly learned that one cannot work from home with two children home without childcare. Especially when neither of them napped this morning.

I am headed to the liquor cabinet.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

1st Beach Trip of '09

And little Kate's first trip to the beach ever! Too cute. Natalie has learned to bury herself in the sand and is becoming quite the seashell collector. One thing about the gulf coast beaches in FL, seashells are in abundance! Watch for some crafty seashell projects coming soon...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Playdate Lessons

What happens when the parents are too busy chatting and not keeping an eye on the kids:

Basically the entire contents of Natalie's room was moved into the dining room because they were playing market and needed items to sell. Hard to argue with that logic, but doh!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Happy 2009!

Like most things in my life these days, I am a bit late on this post. But I do have a reasonable excuse this year. We have been busy. First, we hosted Dean's folks for Christmas, which was wonderful and so exciting as Natalie really "got" the whole Santa factor this year.

Then, a few days after they left, our good friends Kim & Ron came out with their daughter and spent an evening with us. Now, you think a one night stay wouldn't take up that much time. Except that I haven't seen Kim and Ron in a long time. We had to make the most of it which meant consuming three bottles of wine between the four of us. We might have stopped at two, but being the Floridians that Dean and I are becoming, when your midwest friends visit, it is obligatory to get them in the hot tub so they can visualize the great FL winters when they go back to the subzero temps. And of course, if you're going into the hot tub, wine is a must! Hence the opening of bottle #3. We stayed up until 12:30, which in my San Francisco days would have meant the evening was just getting fun. But in my mother to an infant days means that while I have been up at 12:30 many times, I haven't stayed up that late in awhile. So the next morning, I was a little tired and surprisingly, not too hungover. But unfortunately, it was also NYE day. We bid farewell to our friends and then...

That night we went over to our neighbors to celebrate. The girls had a pajama party with tv, popcorn and candy. And some very cute party hats.

Bliss to the under five crowd. We had some great appetizers, pomegranite martinis, good wine, champagne and wii fun. We left about 10:30 when the meltdowns were about to ensue, then Dean and I stayed up and watched the NYE shows. I'm showing my age here but am I the only one who LOVES watching Anderson Cooper with Kathy Griffin? She is perfect for that venue! I love her humor and how she seems to make Anderson nervous and giddy like a schoolboy. Anyway, Dean and I outdid ourselves and ended up staying up until 2:30. Yeah, we had our groove on until the next day. Ugh. Natalie "slept in" until 7:30, for which I should have been grateful. But let's just say it was a painful day.

And then yesterday, my darling hubby turned 40!!! So while we didn't go big, we enjoyed some good food, drink and presents at home. Today we are heading to Siesta Key for some beach time and then to his folks for another celebration.

So, with all this celebrating I'm looking forward to getting back to our routine and achieving a major resolution this year. I am going to lose weight and get active again. I have a few things going for me this year. 1)Today we join the local YMCA that is just up the road and has great childcare. 2)I got Dean the Wii Fit for his bday and we set ourselves up with is last night. Let's just say when it does your fitness evaluation, it is painfully honest. Ugh. And 3) I am motivated. I'm tired of feeling frumpy and looking at a closet full of clothes from before my pregnancy with Katherine that I want to wear again. OK, in full disclosure, there is also a stack of clothes from before Natalie was born that I want to wear again. So I've given myself until Katherine's 1 year bday. Whatever doesn't fit by then is getting donated.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. I have lots of other resolutions I'd like to tackle, but am focusing on only one this year. I'm hoping that will help me achieve success. Stay tuned!

And here is to a healthy, wise and prosperous 2009 for all.