Extreme Makeover: Life Edition.

You may already know this about me, but sometimes I feel impossible.

Not only that, I worry that “we” are impossible. Cassidy? Our family? The entire operation of the world? Yet for many glorious days, we run like a well-oiled machine. Every now and then a wheel gets loose and puts everything else slightly off-balance, but we still chug along somehow. We’re chugging along at the worst of times. We’re full speed smooth ahead at the best of times.

There are a lot of possible things to be. To do. To see.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(I had to be talked into the helicopter, but I made it in and up.)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(A princess and a horse. Obviously.)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

(Scarlet made Cassidy and me make a pact with her that we’d see a moose together in 2014. And we will.)

Lately we’ve been upgrading bits and pieces of our lives that I feel had reached critical mass. Scarlet and Des had the bare minimums of carseats until I won a fancy new one on a blog giveaway. Scarlet went through a growth spurt and all of her pants were showing some ankle. So off to Target we went, after a paycheck from a photo shoot, and I bought her longer pants and warmer socks. Des ran through all of his pants during his knee scooting phase, so longer, newer pants went on his Christmas list.

Lately I/we’ve started to feel more possible.

The reasons are internal and include being more connected and cooperative. They are also external. We came into a bit more money due to hard work and the generosity of deceased relatives and beneficiaries. All of that is neither here nor there.

We had to find ways to feel and become possible. Fast. What needed a makeover first? Was it the fact that Scarlet had no bed?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Uncomfortable toddler mattress on the floor. But..Hi, WeMontage!!

Or was it the fact that we’ve never been on a family vacation as a family of four?

What I’ll never forget about this week between Christmas and New Year’s, is that this is the year we surprised her twice..

It started with Christmas.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I waited patiently behind and leaning around the (turned off) fireplace.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Cassidy read her Santa’s note.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Realization dawned slowly but surely.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

And that’s right. We’re going to Disney World! (soon!)

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

You too, baby.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

She was also ridiculously excited for her Frozen Ice Palace from my parents.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This is what I call a well-oiled machine.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I call this his “ush face.” He makes it when he’s sleeping or looking down. Totally ushy, gushy, mushy, right? Cheek-pinching.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The Christmas sunset seemed to smile upon us.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Which brings us back home and to our next order of business. The bed problem.

I had been haunted by her bed situation for over a year. She was never one of those toddlers looking to escape their crib. Rather and quite like Des, certain mobility endeavors just never occurred to her naturally. It was at her THIRD birthday party when she saw a friend jump out of her crib that she did the same and hurt her wrist pretty badly. Her crib turned into a pretty cute little bed and in that she stayed, until Des was about six-months-old and had NO business still being in a bassinet. He was about ready to flip right out of there. Her bed was turned back into a crib for him.

We had a hand-me-down toddler bed in the basement, but it was missing a crucial piece. So we used just the mattress as a bed.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I remember coming home to see the change and I hadn’t realized how small this mattress was compared to what she was used to sleeping on. And like with most things, she just adjusted. That’s what she does. She adjusts easily. (she doesn’t get that from me) And I’ve been haunted ever since by that image of her coming home and seeing her dinky little mattress on the floor and just rolling with it and playing with some dolls. She wasn’t upset, but she wasn’t thrilled. Still, it stayed this way for too long.

Until a few days ago when we realized we could do this. We discussed that we could do this. We did this.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I dropped her at a friend’s house for a few hours (thank YOU!) after Cassidy snuck in merchandise from an IKEA trip. And then he set to work while I ran to Target with Des to get her some Sofia the First sheets and a little Princess Belle doll for her pillow.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We wanted the tent in blue but they stopped making it. Really? This green is such a big seller over starry night blue?

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

When everything was done(ish) I went to pick her up and Cassidy got ready. I had to race into the house and get into her room before her, which was challenging at best, but I wanted to stand in the far corner and take (blurry) photos of the moment.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

“When you or Dada ask me to go to bed, I’m going to listen the first time because I WANT to go to bed. I love bed.”

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Gratitude at its finest:

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

This was the only place to put the bed, so we will put our WeMontage in another, more central room in the house.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Scarlet and Cassidy liked putting a TARDIS blanket over the green tent.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

We’re still working on the fort below. We’ll be adding curtains. For now, that castle door unlocks to be a mirror!

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

The star lights (barely seen here) are a favorite too.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

I hope you’ve been thoroughly heart-warmed today. Once my parents surprised us with a fluffy white puppy when I was nine-years-old, but that’s a fantastic story for another fantastic day. It’s probably obvious to you by now that there will be a pet surprise in our future. We don’t know when. We just know it’s in the works. Stay tuned.

Surprises. Worth EVERY penny, and beyond.

About Tamara

Tamara is a professional photographer, a mama of two, a Lifestyle Blogger/Social Media Influencer/Brand Ambassador, and a nearly professional cookie taster. She has been known to be all four of those things at all hours of the day and night. She is a very proud contributor to the book, The Mother Of All Meltdowns, the Stigma Fighters Anthology (volume 1), and The HerStories Project: So Glad They Told Me. She is also a proud Community Lead and a regular contributor to the SoFab Food blog, and the Target Made Me Do It blog. After two cross country moves, due to her intense Bi-Coastal Disorder, she lives with her husband, daughter, son, dog, cat, and 11 chickens in glorious western Massachusetts.


Extreme Makeover: Life Edition. — 127 Comments

  1. ohmygosh. Completely heart-warmed. Thank you. I needed that. That bed/fortress is ah-mazing. I want one for my room!! The look on her face for both surprises are priceless. And Des' face is totally ushy, gushy, mushy. Everett has a similar face and I can't resist it. I had him on my lap today after he had been running around screaming and yelling at everyone at my in-laws. I sat him down to have a talking but he looked me with that face and then smushed his face into mine and I started laughing hysterically. Oy. Happy and Merry to you!

  2. What an awesome bed! (i’ve actually been contemplating getting that same bed for our little ones to share.)

    Also – have an uhhh-mazing time at Disney!

    • Thanks, Roaen! It's so affordable and you can do ANYTHING with it. In fact, when I first posted a photo of it on Facebook, a bunch of my friends said, "I have that same bed!"

  3. So amazing. Scarlet's facial expressions are just priceless in almost all of these photos! Just melts my heart to see kids to thoroughly happy. And I have to admit that I am completely distracted by that Siberian husky with the sheriff's hat on! Have fun at Disney!

    • That’s Oreo! I won him in a raffle when I lived in San Francisco. Norsled is an organization we donated money to for our wedding. I think you’d like him!
      And of course, having kids, the stuffed dog is no longer mine. Boo.

  4. I'm going to take your advice and be kind to myself! And I need to upgrade a few things of my own. If everyone could see my jeans with holes in the knees…ugh.

    I really recommend the montage!

  5. Honestly, I kinda want to leave the one-year-old at home with a sitter, but I think he'll be coming with and I do feel brave or crazy.

    Excellent points about the IRL thing..

  6. I was eye-ing that Frozen castle at Walmart for weeks, but decided not to buy it. I love that picture of Scarlet playing with it in her princess dress! My girls did get Elsa and Anna dolls from their aunt, so they are playing with them together right now. 🙂 Scarlet's new bed is wonderful!

  7. I love bringing the kids to do or see things that Matt I shared together, it's makes it even more special! The look on Cassidy's face is awesome…you can tell how utterly happy he is to make his daughter happy…those moments are the best. Making our kids happy and building memories together just rocks =) best…thing…ever….



  8. So great! I love your daughter's new bed! We always underestimate ourselves but look at these great surprises you and your husband pulled off. I love it!! I feel like I was there when you did the Disney surprise because you captured such beautiful shots. I'm so excited for you guys to go and have a wonderful vacation together. I know it's going to be magical!

    • I’m so glad you like my shots because it was a dark room with color cast, and you know me and my love for natural light only. Oh well! You can still see how surprised/happy she was!

  9. I have been heart warmed!! I love the pic of Scarlet giving her dad the happiest kiss in the world! The bed is pretty awesome too, I love that she can go to bed seeing all the wonderful images of family. Perfecto. Scarlet is having the best week ever!

  10. My take away from this story? Sometimes, we are willing to make the impossible happen not for ourselves but for our children. I am amazed every time at what we are wiling to plow through for them – even if not for us. I love the bed/castle. Just love it. Can I sleep there when I come to visit?????.

    • Yes you can! I was just telling Alison that I’d like a king-sized version, but it’s still up on stairs and a ladder and you have a giant cozy tent wrapped around it. What could be better?

  11. I love bed too, Scarlet – I always have. And mine's not evenly remotely as cool as yours. I remember my daugher's first big girl bed – she went from a crib to a twin then a full and now a queen bed. Whew!

  12. Sounds like you had a magical Christmas! Love the bed ( especially the Tardis cover, omg!). We are thinking about getting a loft bed for Spygirl for her birthday. Can they step on those stairs to the right? Enjoy! Happy new year! Btw, my maiden name is Cassidy and I smile when ever you mention your girl! 🙂

    • Yup, the staircase was there in case she didn’t like the ladder! She has already mastered both, but the staircase is really a shelf unit from IKEA so it is good for storage.

  13. Totally was smiling through this whole post. I loved seeing Scarlet (and Des’s too) reaction Disney, but then the bed was such an added surprise and bonus here. And I agree with Scarlet, that if I was told to go to bed, I totally would, because the bed is just awesome!! 🙂

  14. Wow that is one very “possible” bed and Disney world. Amaaaazing.
    Although I am new over here it is very obvious you are an amazing, loving mum and that is worth gazillions more than anything else. Tamara be kind to yourself and totally revel in the good fortunes when they come and they do. My daughter would so love that montage by the way.

  15. OMG that bed is awesome! I just want to tell you that we all have our too-short-pants areas of our lives… remember that what you see online and even of most IRL people is just the “highlight reel” — not all the messiness of life. We remodeled the upstairs of our house about a year ago (new paint, scraped off popcorn ceilings, new carpet) but we still have no doorknobs, no cover on the air return duct, and we just upgraded from dangling bare light bulbs to actual light fixtures a week ago. You are brave to take two little kiddos to Disney! I want to do that with my kids someday, but I’m waiting until the youngest is at least 5. I went for the first and only time when I was in 8th grade (my dad had a work conference in Florida that we piggybacked onto) and I loved it even then.

  16. That second picture of Scarlet made me well up! My mom reported the same look on Alice’s face when they went to American Girl Place last week. Have a great time at Disney!! We loved it, especially the Princess brunch!

  17. Awwww I love Scarlet's new bed! Feels like I wanna be a kid once again, seriously yes! Ahaha. I dreamt of having that kind of bed before where I could just stay in the entire day. It's so heartwarming and I love how you captured Scarlet's facial expression every step of the way from the Disney surprise to the new bed surprise.. Wow, I love every bit of it!

  18. Oh, that sounds so sweet! American Girl isn't on Scarlet's radar yet. I had a Samantha doll when I was a kid. We haven't scheduled the princess brunch yet – we are the worst!

  19. Yeah, she looks so happy and so does he!

    Co-sleeping is awesome. Scarlet was terrible at it as a baby, but now does it occasionally in the morning. Des was great at is when he was a baby (I miss that) but now he won't snuggle to sleep. He'll just bounce around the room.

  20. Oh wow! I was like a kid when I saw the bed! You guys are awesome! I’ve been wanting to do this too since we have co-slept with the kids ever since and we will once life gets better out here. I just love the look on her face! And that photo of her hugging fer father is priceless!

  21. He is such an 'ush boy! I wonder what kind of surprises we'll have brewing for him one day. Right now he just gets excited for his sister, which is really nice.

  22. This is heart warmed. I love all of the surprised expressions you captured. And I love that new bed. It is super awesome. Disney is going to absolutely blow their minds. I can not wait for y’all to have that experience together.

    • Thank you! I’ve really been enjoying your Orlando posts lately because in my heart, I knew they’d come in handy on the sooner side.
      I just can’t wait to be in warm sun! This winter up here is…not going well.

  23. Love everything about this, Tamara! The expression on Scarlet's face, the excitement and sweet, innocent gratitude for her bed, Des, (well, Des is always adorable, isn't he?!), the way you put it all so beautifully into words to go along with the amazing pictures. All of it. Amazing, just like you!

    • Des is always adorable, yes, and I love the way he’s always in the photos and involved in our shenanigans. I guess he knows that one day there will be big surprises for him too. He is obviously playing with her bed and is coming with us to Disney, but he’s so young and probably won’t remember it.

    • It’s been two days and she hasn’t stopped hugging us yet! I hope it lasts forever. It’s great how much she knows how big it was for us, and now how big it is for her.

  24. Scarlet is quite a lucky girl to get so many great surprises this year! I firmly believe that giving gifts trumps receiving them, and I can't even imagine how much more true that must be for gifts to your children. You and Cassidy are so clever to have a handwritten letter from Santa to Scarlet! Sounds like every kid's dream to me. Also, nice touch on handing out carrots for his reindeer! Never heard of that one, but they must be hungry too! Haha, happy new year, friend!

    • Oh, yes! When I was a kid I think I gave the reindeer apples. It’s funny how we give them horse food but I really don’t know what reindeer eat!
      I do know that Cassidy ate some of those carrots!

  25. Tears and more tears. So much love and joy and gratitude in this post!! I love that Scarlet now has a bunk bed – just like the boys!! So many amazing pictures (as always) but I especially love the one of Scarlet hugging her dada at the top of her new bed. Just adorable! Can’t wait to hear more about Disney 🙂

    • I love that your boys have bunk beds!! I loved one growing up.
      Happy to give you tears! I loved your post today because it was like mine – used to show the excitement we have brought our children this holiday season!

  26. It’s just not nice of you to make me cry at work! Here I was worried about my 22 yo sleeping on a mattress on the floor for the last two years (his bed broke) and here you have Scarlet doing the same thing. I’m so happy for all of you. I just love the look of surprise and wonder in her little eyes. I showed my hubs the pic from Facebook after you told her about Disney because it was too darn cute! I like the tardis blanket on the canopy. It suits you all.

    • Sorry to make you cry at work!
      I think we all go through periods of time where we sleep on the floor. It makes more sense at 22, because he’s technically an adult!
      Although they’re always our babies, aren’t they?

  27. I love every single part of this post!!!

    Scarlet's reaction to the Disney tickets is priceless and that picture of her hugging Cassidy from the top of her new bed about made me cry!!! The fact that she said she would go to bed the first time because she loves her bed is the best thing ever!!! I would feel the same way with that bed!!

  28. the bed is awesome! our kids start out sleeping on mattresses on the floor too. Zachary got his real bed a year ago – well he wasn’t on the floor that long, but that’s when we finally got him furniture!

    • Yeah, it wasn’t such a huge necessity but she had gone from a bed to floor. It would be one thing if she had been on the floor for ages. It really haunted me! I’m so glad that era is over. It’s only a $200 bed! I don’t know what the wait was for. Money is extremely tight but that kind of bed could have been saved for ages ago.

  29. I love how you said that Scarlet adapts well to everything. Things have changed so frequently in my life that I am very much the same way. Her new bed is so adorable! I love that you and Cassidy always seem to do even the smallest things to make her world so extraordinary. Des in those pajamas and that little face is sooo cute! We also want a dog in our future. I say when the kids can learn how to take care of it…anytime before that will be like a 3rd or 4th kid for me, I think! 🙂

    • That’s such a great way to be! I think I do adapt well when need be, but not as easily as she seems to adapt.
      We love to make their worlds extraordinary, and you’re right, it doesn’t always take a lot of money/time/energy. Just imagination.
      You get that.

    • I feel a group hug coming.
      I’d love to be in more photos, and I do try to get more in my blogs, but these couldn’t have been any other way because I needed these to be this way. However, the other people in my life could stand to slack less and take photos of me!!

  30. Yes! Totally heart warmed. I am reading from a 13inch laptop so I only see one of your pictures on the screen at a time. So I got goosebumps looking at Scarlet – just knowing you were going to capture the best expressions. Loved the “realization dawned” one the most. And of course the ush face.

    As for the $$ I wish no one had to worry about it. I’ve got a scratch off on my nightstand that has a lot of “thinking” involved “Bingo” – I’m hoping one day when I figure it out it’s worth $50,000. 😉

    • Oh, to win the lottery!
      This bout of money has been a reprieve, but only that. Every time we’re granted one, we rush to fill our lives with things that were on the waiting list of needing to be attended to. And then it’s really tight and tough again after that. I think it’s important for me to work on making things a little easier in 2014. And I think I can.

  31. So heart warming. I love her reaction to both the surprises and Des’s ush face. The pics of her hugging her father are so cute The bed is adorable !! I wish I have a bed like that,I could stay on it forever 🙂

  32. I love both her reactions, Disney and a bed. We took our first family vacation this year too. It was amazing and so memorable. It was way easier than I thought. Also, hello DISNEY!!! So amazing. I’m so glad you are able to give her all these things that make her so happy. Super mom award to you Tamara!

    • Thank you! We can’t do very much, often, but we use our imagination a LOT. And we’re blessed with generous friends and family so the kids don’t know at all how much we stress about money.

  33. So when do you go to Disney? Natalie saw the pictures and was like, “Hey! Santa forgot to give me the Frozen castle!”

  34. This is such a heart-wrenching and heart-warming post all in one! My niece was in hardly more than a mattress for a while until a grandparent stepped in. You truly have a sweetheart and it looks like she had an amazing Christmas with her upcoming trip and her new bed. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 with easy bedtimes!

  35. So sweet! I loved every word! And PS, your “blurry” photos are way way WAY better than anything I could ever dream of taking. They are all gorgeous, and I love how you captured that moment. I think my favorite part was the phrase “started to feel more possible.” What a beautiful, inspirational thought as we all enter the new year. Thanks for sharing!

  36. These pictures are just too adorable for words! Seeing Scarlet's reaction to both the Disney trip and her new (and awesome!) bed warm my heart so much. And I absolutely love that she said she would go to bed the first time you asked because she loves it that much. I mean, seriously, could she get any more precious?!

  37. What blurry photos?! Seriously, I didn’t even notice blur! Now I wonder what I’m not seeing in my own photos 🙂

    The pictures of Scarlet hugging Cassidy are so incredibly sweet. I love how she’s so clearly expressing her gratitude for that dreamy bed.

  38. That is just so absolutely fantastic! I would have been over the moon to have a bed like that (and secretly, even now). I love seeing Scarlet’s reactions to both the news of Disneyworld and her new bed…priceless! I can’t wait to read all about your adventures in Disneyworld, I can just imagine how ecstatic she is going to meet Cindarella, Belle, and all the other Disney princesses!

    • I have to plan that – thanks for the reminder! I've heard it's not like when we were kids and the princesses would just walk around the park. We have to pay for breakfast with them or something.

      Scarlet's mind will be blown!

  39. Come to Wyoming RIGHT NOW – There is a moose in my back yard! I love coming home because its like I live in a wild petting zoo – however, you do NOT want to pet the moose, bears, bob cats, elk, etc! AH HA HA HA AH!

    And I do love these photos, you captured something very special in all of them, love! 🙂 Happy New Year – I cannot wait to see what adventures you get into with your family!

    • When I read your post this morning and it said you were in Wyoming, I really wanted to ask about moose! I’ve seen many moose in Maine and Wyoming. However I talked about kale instead!
      Happy New Year, Gigi! Many great things for you in 2014, I’m sure!

    • I've always wanted to be surprised with a trip! It actually wound up happening after college graduation. I was surprised with a trip to Vancouver!

      We'll probably be doing it again when Des is older. Why should he miss all the fun?

      Happy New Year, Lisa!

  40. I suppose that it says something about us both, that this post of yours has me with tears, down my face, in the very best of ways. We just this summer, put Tucker in his bigboy room….

    And OMG how big do YOU rock that you are going to DIsney??? When are you going because we are going too, and how awesome if it were at the same time???

    Happy NYE, love.

  41. As usual another great post with amazing photos! I purposely waited so I could post at midnight to say Happy New Years! I just love that look on Scarlet’s face and Des looks so happy for her. That hug that she gave Cassidy is the greatest gift a dad could get. I could see the love between them both! Love you guys!

  42. That bed is AWESOME! LOVE it! Great job mom & dad! I want one too! For me, not the kids….lol

    BTW thank you as always for your kind words and encouragement. It is always so welcomed in my heart. I am so happy 2013 brought you and many other wonderful bloggers in to my life! Cheers to 2014!

  43. Scarlet and Des are growing up in a world where possible is built up all around them. Even when you don’t feel like you have it, you do. And this is a perfect princess story – the princess on the mattress on the floor who is rewarded with a royal bed, and humbly accepts. Nice work, Tamara. Nice work.

  44. Ok, now I remember this one well! I love the WeMontage! I had one done this year for the God son. I know that it will be just as beautiful hanging in some other portion of your amazing home! The new bed is beautiful. I had a canopy (strawberry shortcake) when I was little. I still have the bed (no canopy)! She is going to enjoy.

    OAN – You should really check into that comment reply notification. You have so many commenters and it takes so much time to reply to them and people aren’t receiving them.

  45. This was such a good read! I love how she is so grateful for something like a bed. That's the kind of simple gratitude I'd love my kids to always have.

    • I really can’t wait!! Feel free to join us! It’s so cold and gloomy here right now. I just really can’t handle the three week wait we still have..

  46. that is the coolest bed ever! what a beautiful gift. as virginia woolf says, one must have a room of one’s own. this is a perfect little getaway.

    • Virginia Woolf was so right! I love her bed. I kinda want to sneak in there one night when she’s somehow not there (although she’s always here) and sleep in her bed! Maybe a nap while she’s at school. Shh…

  47. My brother had a bed like that we he was little. I was SO jealous. The TARDIS blanket over the tent makes it perfect, and possibly makes up for them not selling the blue one any more!

    Also…that moose looks shockingly naked without its antlers! I’ve never seen one au naturel, so to speak.

    • Yes, a mama moose! The females never get antlers, although in some deer species (breeds? classes? I have no idea) both males AND females have antlers. Maybe it’s reindeer? For white-tailed deer and moose (both seen kinda around here), only males have antlers.
      Anyway, that’s me dorking out.
      I had a bed like this growing up too and I’m delighted she has her own hideaway now.

  48. Pingback: I Had No Idea How Much I’d Need Her. | Tamara Like Camera

  49. Pingback: Becoming Neurotic for Ask Away Friday. - Tamara Like Camera

  50. Pingback: The Great Bedroom Unveiling, and Other Magic - Tamara Like Camera

Leave a Reply