Thursday, December 31, 2009

Catch ya later 2009 - Bonjour 2010

2009 brought us:
  • Avery, our sweet baby girl, who was born on February 24th
  • Brad changed jobs in March, oddly enough got the new offer on February 25th while we were in the hospital waiting for news on Avery's condition.
  • I moved into a new role at Capital One in June that now requires International Travel
  • We now have a Family Mini-Van, yes, its a company car, but its still quite entertaining that Brad does in fact drive a "Honeywagon" every single day.
  • And a year full of wonderful memories we will cherish for years to come

My hopes for 2010:

  • Health and Happiness for those I love
  • Perspective, I hope I always have perspective and the ability to see things in a different light
  • Friendship, I hope that I am able to make some great memories with my dear friends
  • Honesty, I hope that my friends and family find a way to always be honest with me and themselves
  • Faith, I hope to better understand faith and the role I want it to play in my life
  • Stress Free Finances
  • Safe Travels
  • Time to work on the relationships in my life

As for "Resolutions", I find myself being very tactical when it comes to declaring a resolution, so here they are. I wish I could put some emotion and energy behind this post, but as I type I am still coughing my face off, its NYE and I am sitting alone on my couch with Riley watching a movie on E that I have seen probably 32 times, sounds thrilling doesn't it? What is it that they say about ringing in the New Year, and starting the year off right? If there is any truth to that I am in some serious trouble, the silver lining is, the girls are both healthy and safe tucked into their cribs, and for that I will always feel blessed.

  • Get my large and in charge behind to the Gym at least 3 days a week
  • Journal my food intake like its my job
  • Leave my work computer in my work bag at least 2 nights a week and focus my attention on Brad and our marriage
  • Read before bed at least 2 nights a week and go to bed before 10pm as often as possible: learn more and sleep more
  • Have dinner as a family at least 3 week nights a week
  • Carve out time each and every day to spend one on one time with each girl (when Brad isn't traveling)
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt and have faith they are doing the best they can. (This one is hands down going to be the most difficult for me. I have very high standards and according to my ex-boyfriend my idea of "doing the best you can" and the rest of the worlds is very different and for that reason alone I will always end up disappointed, dismal outlook, but likely there is a significant amount of truth to it so I am going to do my best to turn that around and give folks a break)
  • Focus on needs vs. wants, this will hopefully help with the stress-free finances hope for 2010.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Feeling Blue...

Not only do I have a super annoying cough that won't let me sleep, but now I am feeling a little blue. Could it be that the Holidays are over and I will be heading back to work soon? Could it be that my husband is shady and fails to mention critical details about his day? Could it be that Avery sleeps like doo-doo? Could it be that I have a lot of work-travel coming up and hate to leave my little doo-doo sleeping darlings? And I am pretty sure being a chubby Sasquatch isn't helping matters. Well ya know what folks, no time like the present to turn that frown upside down. I am well aware of how blessed I am, and how relative to others I have nothing to complain about, but sometimes it feels good to just get it out.

Tomorrow night is NYE and we are headed across the street to ring it in with the Koehler and Harris Families. I love NYE plans that don't involve a car and an uncomfortable dress. I will be sporting some super comfy jeans and likely a sweater and might even break out my cable knit slippers for the shin-dig. I have some resolutions to blog about, but I am not in the right frame of mind right now, so that will just have to wait. I also owe you and myself another post about the book The Noticer, I finished it on Monday morning and if I could get everyone to read it my world would be a better place.

While typing this post I have coughed up both of my eyes are watering and I am about to vomit from all the coughing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Home, Home on the Range

We are H-O-M-E. And while I am thrilled to be home and for the girls to be in their own beds, our house is a disaster and I feel like our to-do list just keeps getting longer and longer. All the bags from our Turner Christmas have joined the mess and added to the chaos we call home. When the girls went down for their afternoon nap Brad and I hurried to re-arrange the Morning Room (aka their Playroom). Santa brought Olivia the ABC play mat square thingys (do you know what I am talking about?) and she loves to play with each individual piece, which makes a big ol' mess, so we decided that the only way to stop that cycle was to put them down on the floor so they could actually be the floor mat Santa intended them to be. I wish you could have seen us, actually, no I really don't, it was embarrassing, we were so exhausted that we got the alphabet wrong at one point, forgot the #5 the second time around, and ended up having to re-do it four times. And what did Olivia do the second she got up from her nap...she attempted to pull up the letters...but we explained we don't play with the letters anymore, we'll see how that goes.

And Brad and I are both sick, I can't stop coughing, he is just a foggy mess, and have I mentioned that Avery not only sleeps like absolute crap, but she has been a cranky mess all day.? Oh I failed to mentioned that? I can't imagine why! The little bugger was so tired tonight that I put her down after her bath around 6:15pm, only to have her wake up screaming her face off at 6:49pm and she cried straight for a good 40 minutes. Brad finally took over once he and Olivia got home from a quick trip to my parents house, and he was able to rock her to sleep. Virtual High Five for Brad.

I promise to share the progress with the Morning Room just as soon as I make some...HA!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Operation Declutter

I follow The Thrifty Decor Chick Blog and last year she hosted a De-clutter and Organization Party and while she isn't going to do that again this year, I got a lot of great ideas by re-reading her post from last January. I get super duper motivated to just ransack the house and start over, throw out things we don't need, pack up stuff we never use and donate it to folks that will use it, but I always lose some momentum before the job is done. And while I go into the project fully motivated to toss whatever we don't use and need I always end up pulling back the reins a little bit and end up holding onto more than I anticipated, isn't that always the case. But this year, I am uber motivated, but lack the funds to buy the organizational tools necessary to get the job enter creative means to organize. And by enter I mean, begin brainstorming what we already own that can function as a means to organize our stuff, because we are still in Bassett and my brain is working overtime not being at home and being able to kick this project off. And in all honesty, who am I kidding? I am going to be home with two children under the age of 2.5 for the rest of the week, when in the world will I find the time to de-clutter and organize. I was telling Brad on the way down here that we need a Staycation, you know the kind of vacation where the kids go to daycare for most of it, we stay home and get stuff done around the house. BUT this year is full of real vacations that leave us with negative time to take for our Staycation, so that will either have to wait until 2011 or the weekends will need to be super duper productive.

Another project I have been putting off for really cleaning out my closet. I have four different sizes in my closet, and while I likely won't get down to the smallest one, I still am holding out hope and haven't purged the clothes yet. I am going to give myself until September to lose some weight and then the closet is going to get hit..BIG TIME.

What are your projects for the New Year? And just wait a post about New Years Resolutions is just around the corner...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oh Containter Store where art thou?

For those of you that know me well you know I am nut-so about organizing. I love to plan, to organize and to decorate and right now I am in a bit of a stand-still. I am not sure what to do with the girls play area. Right now its in our Morning Room, just off our kitchen, and I love the "location" of it, because I can easily see them playing while working in the kitchen and usually can see them when I am sitting on my bum in the Family Room, BUT with all the latest additions to the toy collection we are running into a bit of a space constraint. I just don't know how to organize and make the best use of this space. We had toyed with turning the girls loose in the Formal Living room and making that room theirs for the taking, and that is still on the table, but in the short-term it looks like we are going to attempt to make a go of it in the Morning Room. Which means we need to slide the "Kitchen" table down to make room for more toys and give the girls more "play space". BUT here is where you all come in. I would love some advice on how to store their toys, all the little parts and pieces, the ones that Avery tries to eat the second she spies them, and we need to get Olivia into the habit of putting the crayons back in the art drawer, etc. Right now we have a four drawer cabinet-thingy, its canvas and black and it goes well in the room, I love that the cabinets are just that, cabinets, not the open baskets that you just throw stuff in, that can get a bit messy looking, I like the clean look of the actual drawers, but I am at a loss, do I just buy a few more cabinet thingy's and stack them all together? At the end of the day we need more space and more tools to help us organize the girls toys...I dream of a big closed off room dedicated just to the girls, full of space to let them be little girls, just like the play rooms in the PBK Catalogs. But like The Noticer is teaching me...I am grateful the girls have a roof over their heads while they play and that they have toys to play with, and most of all that they are healthy enough to play...but putting all the perspective stuff aside, I really would love some advice on how to organize and store toys. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

PS: I just realized how boring this post is without photos to give you the tour and truly share my debacle with you...soooooooo sorry, but I am in Bassett. But if you go back to my SAHM Day 1 Post you will see the toy area at its finest...

The Milestones...oh the Milestones

The first is D-Day, as in the first day at a new school day and my stomach is in knots for the girls. They have no idea what is coming their way, but you better believe I am anxious, nervous and even a little sick over it for them. I know more than ever we are making the right decision, getting them out of their current in-home daycare, I just know it. BUT it still doesn't change that fact that its all Olivia knows, Avery too, but I am more worried about Olivia and less about "Skinny". I am prepared to take a half day on the 4th to give me the time I need at TCH with the girls, and to prepare myself for a good cry on the way to work. Another milestone is approaching and the girls are growing up...I know, I know, Skinny is only 10 months old, but seriously folks, where does the time go?

I have a feeling Olivia is going to be moving to a big-girl bed in the near future, likely in the next few weeks. Sure she could stay in her crib, for all we know until she no longer fit in it, but after a night and a nap in her little/big-girl travel bed, and a nap with Mommy in Mommy and Daddy's bed on the 23rd, I think she is ready to at least give her big-girl bed a try, which of course that means, I need to find her some new we just move her right to the full size bed, or give her Toddler bed a whirl? Thoughts? Most people have said, go straight to the full-size bed and avoid another transition.

I bought some bedding for Olivia a few months back, but after spending a few months looking at it, and yes, I still love it, I am thinking it will actually go better in Avery's room, and with Avery's unique wall color, I feel as though finding bedding I love for her room is almost like finding a needle in a hay stack, and that finding the right bedding for Olivia's room might be easier, so why not just keep the already purchased bedding for Avery's room, you ask? Well, here is the debate. IF we have another a few years, the girls will likely end up sharing a room and I will want to have their bedding coordinate. The good news is, the already purchased bedding was very if I could find an affordable option for Olivia for the next few years it might not be a waste. Okay, glad I got that out. That was more for my benefit, not really to update you all on the scary debates that happen in my head.

And as for Potty Training...Olivia got a personalized Potty book from Zack and his family, so we are hoping if we can read that each and every night before bed, we might make some progress, but I am not holding my breath, nor am I all that stressed about it. Sometimes I think about it and other days I don't give it a second thought, but when I do think about it, it isn't for more than a second, sure I would love to save some money on diapers, BUT I want her to be ready and I want to set us up for a successful transition not a huge battle. I meant to ask our Ped about it the other day when I was there with Avery, but we didn't get a chance to see Dr. S, so it will have to wait until Avery's 12 Month Appointment, but for now, Olivia wants nothing, and I mean nothing with a capital N, to do with the potty or sitting on it. She does however tell us when she "poops", a sign maybe? Who knows!

And as for Avery and her upcoming milestones. I was sure she would be walking by the New Year, but that was based on how quickly she learned to crawl and pull up. She is easily standing on her own, but has no desire to walk, she is a master crawler and can cruise where she needs to get with ease, so much so she doesn't have a need to walk just yet. So there you have it, she is still a crawler. I am hoping she is on her two feet for her Birthday, because her dress is just too darn cute and will only look right if she is able to stand in it. Her two front teeth are in...she got them for Christmas. And she is a pro at drinking from a Sippy Cup, but LOVES her bottles. So we are going to start weaning her bottles away early February so that we only have a night-night bottle before bed, but are fully transitioned to a sippy cup during the day. And we will say bye-bye to formula by her birthday, we have two cans left and will likely have to buy 2 more two-packs, but we are looking forward to the switch over to milk. And ya know what, we are going to be bad parents, and we are going to switch her carseat around ON her Birthday, but not a second before. Now-a-days the experts recommend keeping the little ones rear-facing until they are two years old, and while I am generally the first person on the safety band wagon, this is one I have yet to buy a ticket for. I am going to let that little darling turn around and let her peepers catch a glimpse of that Spanish speaking little minx, Dora, that Olivia has fallen in love with, on the DVD player.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


My SIL Shannon gave Brad and I the book, The Noticer by Andy Andrews for Christmas this afternoon. I am only on page 14 but I just had to share a paragraph I just read, I think its perfect, not only for this time of year, but always. I won't go into a lot of detail about how it made me feel, or what I thought about as I read it, but I did want to take the time to share it with you.

"When you focus on the things you need you'll find those needs increasing. If you concentrate your thoughts on what you don't have, you will soon be concentrating on other things you had forgotten you don't have-and feel worse! If you set your mind on loss, you are more likely to lose...But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life".

Friday, December 25, 2009

Joy to the World

We had a fun, family filled day of presents, presents, presents, and food, food, food. Avery woke up for the second time at 5:45am, so her and I climbed into bed with Brad and Riley until about 7:30am when Olivia woke up and then we all piled into our bed to watch Dora until the rest of the family arrived (My Parents and Aunt and Uncle) around 8am. Brad made his way downstairs to greet our guests and I brought the girls down, its important to us that the girls see the tree and presents for the first time when everything is ready, the lights are on and Brad is in place with the camera. We figured this year might be a little overwhelming for Olivia, and sure enough it was, but it didn't take her long to warm up.

As she rounded the corner and made her way down the stairs she was greeted by 4 grown ups staring at her, which for many children is scary enough and then you have Brad with the camera and a room full of presents, she clammed up a bit and tried to hide between my legs, but it wasn't long before she was off to explore her loot. Don't for a second feel bad for Avery, she was right there with her...Avery had to be watched very closely though as she tried to eat everything in sight and ended up choking many times on wrapping paper after taking a bite into each and every present she could get her grubby little paws on.
Even Riley got in on the fun, and yes, he opened his own present, he is a miracle dog.

It was a long morning, we started opening presents just after 8am and took a break around 10:30am and we had just finished our stockings and had yet to start the real presents. Santa left the girls a few unwrapped presents that distracted them for quite a while, so we didn't actually get into our stockings until probably closer to 9am. You can tell by Olivia's position, she was wiped out.

Our guests left just after 12 noon and Avery hit the hay for a nice long afternoon nap. Olivia was so wound up, she clearly got a second wind and wanted to play with all of her "toys", so it wasn't until closer to 2:15 that she finally settled down for a nap, which was too bad because we had to wake her from a deep sleep around 4:15pm to head to my parents for Christmas Dinner, which BTW was FAN-TASTIC. My Dad made a Beef Tenderloin and it was melt-in-your-mouth DELICIOUS. Kudos to him!

We came home and I was met at the door by a very wet nose and a very loose dog, Riley is always in his crate when we aren't home, but I must have forgotten to actually go lock him in before we left. I knew it was going to be bad news when I saw his nose as I opened the door, and sure enough my nose led me to the really bad news...the poor thing has been super smelly for the last two days as it was, but he ended up sharing his stench all over the family room, morning room and kitchen. YUCK. Brad had to clean up poop while I packed for the girls and put them both to bed.

We will head to The Turner's in the morning after saying our goodbyes to my Aunt and Uncle who are headed back to CT. We are looking forward to our time in Bassett. Brad plans to work down there on Monday and we will head back here on Tuesday to spend the evening with our family friends who are coming to visit my parents from Pinehurst, NC. Tis' the Season...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We wish you a Merry Christmas...

We wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year...

Christmas Eve is almost in the books for 2009 and it was one to remember. Filled with cookie baking, reindeer dust spreading (Olivia tried to eat it not knowing what it was, hysterical, wish we would have caught it on video camera, but the photo below gives you a glimpse), turkey eating, present opening, cookie eating, wine drinking, bourbon drinking, good friends and family from near and far, it was a wonderful Christmas Eve.

The presents are out and breakfast is made and ready to go, now we must sleep and wait for Jolly Old St. Nick to grace us with his presence...and presents. Get it? Ha! I crack myself up.

Not a great shot of Olivia, but don't you just want to eat her outfit up? Yum, Yum, Yum, Delicious-so, or however they say it on Dora...

Our Santa Babies

From yours. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

As a child, heck, even now, I like to guess what is inside of the wrapped presents, even as I begin to open them I guess what it is, and I don't mean to toot my own horn, but more often than not I am correct.

My parents have been bringing over bags of presents as they finish wrapping them so they don't have much to bring over on Christmas Morning, so the bags are in the formal living room and some have been there for more than a week, but it wasn't until yesterday that the girls started to get into them, or even notice that they were there. Olivia was sorting through the smaller presents, likely the stocking presents, and putting them into piles and as she picked them up, she would feel them and shake them (if they shook) and then it happened...she began guessing what they were. And ya know what, circle got the square, she was right with the first two she picked up, or at least I think she was, I didn't open to confirm, but if you put my guessing skills to the test I would have landed on the same conclusion she did. Medicine and Lotion...what a smart girl I have on my hands.

Also, I forgot to mention earlier that we have kicked off the Elf on a Shelf tradition, we didn't think she would be ready for it this year and while I doubt she gets that the Elf reports back to Santa every night, she does enjoy looking for him every single morning when she wakes up, she comes downstairs and says "Where's the Elf?". Today "Elf", we haven't named him yet, despite the directions prompting us to, is hiding in the #23 pocket of our Advent Calendar. Clever eh?

The thrill of the hunt...

So they say...I can't imagine that hunting on a game preserve, where they lay out the birds for you is all that much of a thrill, but I probably shouldn't throw stones since I am the crowned winner of the Northfield Mass Fishing Derby...and the pond was stocked the night before the derby.

Brad set out at the crack of dawn this morning with his trusty hunting dog Riley at his side, my Dad behind the wheel, Brian in the back seat and Reese and Brayden following in the next car. They are off for a day of quail hunting about an hour south of here. Riley will come home covered in mud and full of scrapes from the brier, poor guy. As soon as Brad lets him out of the truck he will come in with his tail tucked and hide behind me, and eventually curl up next to me so I can protect him, its adorable, happens every time.

As for the girls and I. I am fighting a Sinus Infection, my face is killing me (you too, I know, HA), I have a sore throat and some drainage, lovely picture I am painting for you huh? Both of the girls noses are resembling faucets today as well, and as soon as Avery gets up from her nap we are headed to CVS to pick up her Meds. (We went to the Doctor yesterday, just a Sinus Infection for her, no ear infection).

We had a rough night last night. Avery was up at 12:30, which luckily or unluckily (depends on how you look at it), for me I was still awake, she screamed her face off in my ear for a solid 30 minutes before I finally gave in and fed her, but we are trying to break that habit, so we had only prepared 4oz, which after she had sucked out the last drop, she wound back up and wailed again until I marched downstairs and made her another 4oz, the little porker. I don't know what her problem is, she can't be hungry, some nights she takes an ounce at bedtime and sleeps until 6am, other nights she takes 8oz and wakes up at midnight, what gives? After the second 4oz she fussed and talked until about 1:40am, so I took the monitor into the guest bedroom so as to not disturb Brad's sleep. She was up again screaming her face off at 5:25am. I heard the cry, rolled over, looked at the clock, looked up at the sky and almost burst into tears...why is my 10 month old not sleeping through the night? Actually, why is my 10 month old waking every four hours for a bottle? Could it be a 10 month growth spurt? Does that exist? She has been housing her food too, so maybe, but Avery, give your Momma a break.

At midnight when I went into her room, picked her up and was trying to soothe her back to sleep I was talking to her the entire time, but really I was talking to myself. A few phrases to remember when your 10 month old wakes up screaming during the night:

"It won't be like this for long, or at least too long"
"When you get older you won't let me cuddle you and sing to you, so I might as well take advantage of it now, even if its midnight"
"It hurts Momma's feelings that being held by the woman that carried you and created you doesn't bring a second of peace and quiet to your room" (she screamed the entire time, picking her up doesn't seem to comfort her)

And of course one of my personal favorites is singing all my favorite songs but with made up words about my life. Some of my renditions would likely compete for a spot on SNL, I even find myself chuckling at some of the things I come up with.

So after a bright and early wake up call, and breakfast, I started on another batch of cookies.

Monster Cookies
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 8-10 min
Serves: 3 dozen
• 3 eggs
• 1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1 12-ounce jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, softened
• 1/2 cup multi-colored chocolate candies - I ended up just using a bag of Chocolate Chips and skipping the M&M's.
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips
• 1/4 cup raisins, optional - I chose to omit
• 2 teaspoons baking soda
• 4 1/2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal (not instant)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.In a very large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and sugars. Mix well. Add the salt, vanilla, peanut butter, and butter. Mix well. Stir in the chocolate candies, chocolate chips, raisins, if using, baking soda, and oatmeal. Drop by tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Do not over bake. Let stand for about 3 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool. When cool, store in large resealable plastic bags.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SAHM Day 1

So liked I mentioned before, I am going to be a SAHM for the next two weeks, and today was Day 1. Yesterday was really Day 1, but since I had some work to do, I didn't really get a chance to sit down and play with the girls like a real SAHM would do, so I am counting today as Day 1.

Who can start their day without a little "Coffee"?

Or without a good stretch of the legs?

And when its too cold to go outside and play, we can just look out the window and hope our big sister doesn't pull us down and crack our head off the hardwoods.

And we would never let our nose run and chew on bath toys...

It brought a little tear to my eye watching them play together...they will always have each other and for that I am grateful.

And then it was time for the little darlings to take a nap and for Cinderella to get to work...just so they can tear it apart when they wake up.

On a side note, Olivia has started calling Avery...."Skinny", its hilarious. That is now Avery's nickname, which is ironic since she is anything BUT.

Sweet Girls from da Hood

When we made the decision to move build in this neighborhood we had no idea that we were going to hit the neighbors Jackpot. We are super blessed to have such a great neighborhood, sure there are some houses that I wish would just vanish, and there are some neighbors that I have never spoken a word to in my life, but for the most part we have lucked out. When we moved in we thought that we were going to be at least four years away from having children...four and a half years later and we have two little darlings - whoops. The year Olivia was born she was one of five girls born in our neighborhood and this year Avery was one of six babies, four of which were girls, so we have our fair share of girls in this neighborhood to play with, and for that I am forever grateful, I just can't wait until they reach the whole "I'm going over to Campbell's House to play" phase...right now it requires a lot of supervising and a lot of parenting, which in reality is still great, because that means we get together with our pals more often so the kids can play. Actually, we get together with our neighbors because we love them and the kids playing together is just a bonus. I need to get better about telling it how it is from the start - HA!.
Saturday Night four of the girls got together, (a few have moved away already), Madison was home welcoming her new baby brother (Ryan) and Maya was spending some QT with her Grandparents.
(Olivia - almost 2.5)
(Avery - almost 10 months)

(Juliette - 6 months)

(Campbell - 1.5 months)

Do you think they will be friends for years to come? I sure hope so!

Christmas Meals

I love planning the menu for Holiday Meals, and Christmas-time means there are a few meals to plan and I can't wait!

So here is our run-down by meal. It all starts on Christmas Eve. My Aunt Martha and Uncle Bill from CT will be with us this year for Christmas, so we will have a big Christmas Eve dinner at our house. Our family, my parents, my Aunt and Uncle and The Koehler Family, we are looking forward to starting our Christmas Eve traditions with our neighbors so the kids will have something to look forward to each and every year. So back to the oh man I can get side-tracked like nobodies business. Sorry bout that.
Christmas Eve at our house

Potato Casserole (Insley is in charge of this)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Cranberry Fluff Goodness
Another veggie of some sort...still brainstorming, any ideas?
And for dessert, Montana Mud Pie and Pumpkin Pie. Eat your heart out Kris and Justin. I am still deciding on an appetizer, but it might just be a simple cheese and crackers platter, not sure yet.
Christmas Day Breakfast at our house
Sausage Rolls
Cheesy Ham and Egg Casserole
Baked French Toast
*so far the only thing I have purchased is the Champagne and OJ...clearly my priorities are in order, right?

Christmas Dinner at my Parents House

Shrimp Cocktail as an appetizer, this is a standing tradition in the Worden (maiden name) Family, one of my favorites.
Beef Tenderloin
Green Bean Casserole
Potato Casserole
Popovers or Rolls, still undecided.
And dessert will likely be Mud Pie again, but if I have some time I am going to try out a new recipe from my Paula Deen Baking Cookbook I bought by mistake, long story.

What do you all enjoy on Christmas? We will be heading to Brad's Parents mid-day on the 26th so I imagine the eating will continue straight through New Years, and then January 4th its serious business. I thought about asking for an eating disorder for Christmas,but I didn't think that would be appropriate, maybe not, but very much needed. HA.

Santa at School?

Yup, he sure was. Olivia and I set out to visit TCH yesterday around 10am, it turned out that Brad was able to meet us. It wasn't a great day for us to be there, it was a bit hectic, Olivia's teacher is off on Monday's, and with the low numbers they combined two classes, so we didn't really get to see it in action, it was just all free play while we were there. And then the man in the big red suit decided to show up and take pictures with all the kids, cute, but scared the ba-jeeezes out of Olivia. So we are hoping she doesn't associate Santa with school, because if so, it will likely be a battle to get her in the door.

All in all it was an okay visit. I have decided that daycare is a necessary evil and that I am never going to find a perfect daycare, but at least I am moving the girls to a place that will help them grow and learn whereas their current situation is just filled with play-time. My parents were so fortunate to find "B", the woman who watched me from the time I was 3 months old until I went to 7th Grade. To this day she is one of the most important people in my life, she is like a second Mom, and I was also lucky to gain two older "sisters" in the deal, as "B" has two daughters. My Mom had her oldest daughter Robin in class while she was pregnant with me and commented one day about needing daycare, Robin went home and asked her Mom if she would be interested and the rest is history. Does that happen in big cities like Richmond? Or are those miracles isolated to super small towns where everyone knows everyone? I have so many amazing memories of "B"'s house and I just always grew up thinking that was the norm, I never imagined the heartache I feel over the daycare dilemma. I wasn't prepared for these decisions.

But don't get me wrong, I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home Mom. My favorite part of the day is coming home to the girls and spending every waking second with them and I love the excitement I feel picking them up everyday and I worry I would be counting down the seconds until naptime if I were to stay at home with them. I like that I can cherish each and every second with them. And honestly, I think I am a better Mom when I am working. I can imagine I would get into a routine staying at home, but I love that we are all socialized, the girls with children their own age and me with people that speak about a 2.5 year old level. I need the mental stimulation of the workplace, but I miss my little darlings something fierce. Its a tough balance and has continued to be a huge internal debate. I would love to work part-time and get the best of both worlds, but we all know that doesn't work out for many.

But for the next two weeks I am going to try out this SAHM thing, wish me luck.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big Day Tomorrow

Olivia and I are going to visit TCH (The Children's House), the girls new school tomorrow at 10am in the hopes that it won't be super foreign to Olivia on January 4th when her first day rolls around. I am nervous for her, and even a little sad. This is another milestone in her life, she is growing up, starting pre-school. I can't wait to take her "First Day of School" pictures, I am already laying out different outfits, a bit crazy right? I can imagine Olivia throwing a fit and wanting to wear anything BUT what I have laid out, so I am not going to hold my breath or get my hopes up that her outfit will even remotely match or coordinate. Oh well, such is life.

Olivia seems to think that she is going to take a School Bus to school, its the only thing that she talks about when we talk about her new school. I have tried to level set her expectations, but it doesn't seem to be soaking in, its like talking to a wall, I wonder where she gets that from? Hmmmm.

My Mom is going to stay with Avery while Olivia and I go check it out and then I am going to head into the office for a few hours. I don't get people. For those of you familiar with Outlook, I have my calendar blocked as "Out of the Office", which in Capital One culture that means do not schedule a meeting during that time if you want me to attend, BUT apparently tomorrow is an exception for at least three different people, because now I have three meetings tomorrow afternoon on my day off. GOOD GRIEF. And I know these meeting schedulers think I am just making an exception for them and coming in for their meeting, but honestly if I did that for everyone would I ever get to have a day off? Not likely.

Tightening the Belt Straps

That's right folks. The Turner Family is getting ready to kick off the new year on a crazy strict budget. I know I have mentioned many times before that the girls are starting "school" on January 4th and with that comes a hefty increase in the daycare expense category, so we need to be prepared. About 80% of our bills hit on the first of the month, good gracious. I almost threw up yesterday when I did all the calculations and figured out how things are going to work. In fact I might have just a little bit, but just in my mouth.

And by crazy strict I mean we aren't even budgeting for Brad's lunches, so that means he has to pack a lunch every single day and he hasn't done that once since starting this new job. We will see how that shakes out, but based on the financials we can't afford for him to eat out every single day the way he has been since March. So that also means no eating out for us on the weekends, grocery shopping is going to become a math equation and I will be the girl tracking her grocery bill as she drops every item into the cart. (Those ladies crack me up).

So I ask of you, if you live on a budget, please share any tips you might have to help manage, track expenses, etc.

And the second meaning for Tightening the Belt Straps...the diet of 2010 begins on January 4th, I am already psyching myself up, I am looking forward to it but I know its going to be tough. I have about 9 months until I need to be in tip-top shape, how much do you think I can reasonably lose in 9 months? I am thinking 50lbs or so? Too audacious? I figure I will have to work out at least 3 times a week. I am hoping to get to the gym at work at least twice a week, and do a workout DVD or Wii Fit at least once a week. I am hoping that I get a Weight Watchers Cookbook for Christmas because with the new budget I won't be purchasing one on my own, lets hope I can find some good recipes online.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm dreaming of a White Christmas...

Now if only we can hold onto this snow for about a week, I will get my wish. Ya see, growing up I expected to see snow on the ground each and every Christmas, that's what you get for growing up in New England, you always have a White Christmas. And I worried that when my parents made the decision to move down here that I might never again see a White Christmas and that my children wouldn't get to experience a Christmas like I had growing up, but low and be hold...that all might change this year. Right now we probably have about 8-10 inches of snow, which is nothing compared to folks just an hour West of here, they are dealing with about 2 feet of snow.

Olivia's first time playing in the snow...

The snow started here around 5pm yesterday and its still coming down. Its beautiful and I hope to have some more pictures to share with you tomorrow after I break out of the house, but for now you will have to do with pictures taken from inside, because as it stands Avery isn't ready to watch herself and we don't have the right clothes to take her out to play in, so I have been inside with her all day while Brad, Olivia and Riley went outside and played with our neighbors.

Riley, the poor thing had to come inside, his legs were turning a deep purple-red color. Poor thing, he was wanted to be outside with his friend Grover so badly. Brad was throwing snow balls for him and he was catching them in his mouth and attacking them, he loved it. But being that he doesn't really have a whole lot of fur, and he doesn't do well when its super cold and wet outside.

It was my night/morning with Avery, so since we were up at 9pm, 5am and then 6am for the day I figured we might as well make the most of it and bake until our hearts content. So I turned on the Christmas Tree's, put the Christmas Music on, lit the Yankee Candles and pre-heated the oven to 375. The first thing on the menu was Peanut Butter Blossoms. (above)

Next was Chocolatie-Mint Goodness...these cookies are a little bit of heaven and they happen to be some of the easiest cookies to make.


1 Box of Chocolate Cake Mix

1 Box of Chocolate Jello - Instant

1 Bag of Andes Mint Candy Pieces (Wal-Mart)

1/2 Cup of Oil - usually I use a little more to ensure they stay super moist

2 Eggs

Mix all the goodness together and bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Do not overcook, in fact they are much better if you under cook just a bit.

Brad actually found Olivia's "Snowsuit" at Sears yesterday after checking several places, I was worried we were going to be stuck with the Red, Black and White Camo one from the boys section because at first they didn't have Olivia's size (3T) in the girl colors, but after looking at them long enough we decided to take a chance on the 2T one and it FIT. Phew.

So this is Brian, Molly and Campbell's House, if you recall I haven't stepped foot outside yet, so this is the best I could do, this is my deck view. I wanted to show you what our house looks like in the snow, but no luck, so since we have the same model house I figured this would give you a good idea of what our house looks like right about now. Picture it Gray with Navy Shutters and there you have it.

I just finished making Buffalo Chicken Dip, Chicken Casserole and "Chicken 'Cha-ladas", we are going to be clucking before you know it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Son of a Nutcracker

So I am not ready to reveal our Holiday Cards just yet, I want the folks from out of town to be able to see them for the first time when they check their mail, but I will post the card soon...but I couldn't resist posting about the card. I bought a design on, went back and forth with my favorite card designer for 8 proofs, finally we had it perfect and I sent it off to Costco to be printed...150 of them. I went to pick them up yesterday....not ready....they promised they would be ready, but they simply said "Check back tomorrow", like these are just run of the mill cards? Like they don't need to be sent out I did as I was told, and I checked back today. I picked them up, gave one to Miss Donna (daycare lady), gave one to my Mom, we "ohhhh and awwwwwd" over how much we love them and then as I started stuffing the envelopes for our neighbors I realized....that Olivia's name was spelled wrong. Instead of Olivia, it says Oliva. Whoops. Son of a Nutcracker!

But this isn't the first time I have managed to screw up the proof reading process. I had about 27 people proof read our Wedding Invitation and we still managed to put the wrong day of the week on our invite...idiots.

But its all in good fun, despite my control freak personality things like this don't really phase me, I just laugh it off.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thank You SS

You have heard me mention my March Mommy Friends many times...well we all drew names for Secret Santa's this year and exchanged gifts, both for our little ones and something for each other. Our SS gift arrived late last week and Avery (and Olivia) had a lot of fun trying to open it.
I set it up right by the tree and put Avery down on the other side of the room....and just watch how it all unfolded.
And the present is down...
After several minutes of jumping on the box, Olivia trying to open it with her bare hands I had to step in and help the girls out...not to mention, I was dying to know what was inside.
Ta-Da...a growth chart for Avery's room and Baby Proof for me. - Thank You SS.

We are all going to guess when it gets closer to Christmas, but I have a pretty good idea who mine is, only because I looked at the Return Address. :)

Santa or bust....BUST

Well, just as expected we had another dramatic visit with Santa...when will the tides turn? When will this child realize that Santa is the one who brings all the great presents, who stars in all the great movies on TV this time of year? There is always next year.

But I was smart...yup. Olivia's First Christmas she was 5 months old, sat on his lap and smiled pretty for the camera, I was clearly a rookie and went for the Mall Santa Experience...never again. We paid an arm and a leg for the picture! Last year we saw Santa at my parents neighborhood "bring your grandchildren to meet Santa" party, it was a nightmare, she screamed as soon as he entered the clubhouse, but no crazy prices, so we were making progress, at least from the financial side of things. And now that brings us to this year. I saw an advertisement for Free Pictures with Santa and Crafts at Bass Pro Shops, a place I have wanted to visit, but had yet to make time for, so yesterday morning we set off with YaYa and GaGa (my parents) to meet Jolly Ol' Saint Nick.

We spent a lot of time coaching Olivia, preparing her for what was to come, she was excited, spent the better part of the morning talking about seeing Santa Claus, the line was already 30+ families deep when we got there, so Olivia and I ran around the store while Brad, my Dad and Avery waited in line. We made our way back to the line, which was oh so conveniently stationed near the "snack bar", which meant Olivia "needed" some popcorn to snack on while we waited.

She was great up until it came time to walk down the red carpet to meet the Big Guy...then the protests started and got louder and louder and louder, she went limp and it was downhill from there. Take a look...
Please excuse: the quality of the phone, I have no idea what Brad was doing, and secondly please excuse how crazy overweight I am. Focus on Olivia's face...can't you just hear the screams?

At least one of my darling daughters enjoyed her time with Santa...I have a feeling next year might be a double whammy with both girls in tears, so I am going to cherish this picture and think of it often.

So we collected the pictures from the nice elves and what to our surprise, FREE KIDS MEAL COUPONS galore. So of course off to the Restaurant we went.

Olivia's Mini Corn Dogs arrived within seconds of placing the order....our meals however...took their sweet time. 45 minutes later our meals arrived. My Crab Cake Sandwich and my Dad's Burger were cold, so that was a big disappointment, the good news is that the manager came over and took them off the bill, so at the end of the day, not only did we get a free picture with Santa, a free kids meal for Olivia, we also got two free adult meals - not too shabby, eh?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cry Baby

Avery is a mess! An absolute mess! She has been less than a stellar sleeper, but this week she has been a downright awful sleeper. She is 9 months old for Pete's sake and the child cannot for the life of her sleep through the night. And the screaming, oh the screaming, it sounds like someone is poking her in the eye with a hot poker. I have never heard Olivia scream like this, I wish I had it on video to share with you guys, but I just can't bring myself to tape her screaming. I mean, yes, she screamed her face off as a newborn when they were moving her IV around and trying to get it back in, especially when they moved it to her head, but these screams rival her newborn IV screams.

Why is Avery sleeping like poop?

Why is Avery screaming her snotty little face off?

Why oh why you ask?

If I only knew...

But I do have a few possibilities...

Maybe an ear infection? Possibly teething? Or maybe she is just turning into a non-sleeping brat. That happens to be Brad's theory. That she just wants out of her room, because if you go into her room and pick her up, she will continue to scream in your arms until you leave her room, as soon as you take her out of the room she hushes right Brad thinks she is just being a brat, I would like to believe there is something else at work here, because I can't imagine what its going to be like to raise this child if at 9m she is already a huge brat.

So tomorrow, we are taking Cry Baby and Liv to visit Santa at Bass Pro Shops. We have been preparing Olivia for it, and she seems to talk about Santa quite a bit these days, so I am hopeful that Olivia can catch a glimpse of him without a monumental melt down...I bet you thought I was going to say I was hopeful she would sit on his lap...nah, I know better, I am fairly certain that won't happen.

Wine & Ornament Exchange

The first year we lived in Richmond I hosted a Cookie Exchange with ladies from the neighborhood and some of my local friends. It was fun, BUT, making that many cookies was a LOT of work, so the following year I came up with the idea of a Wine and Ornament Exchange. We each bring a bottle of wine and an ornament. We draw numbers and we go from there. Some years there is a lot of trading/stealing going on, but this year I think we only had a few back and fourths. It is a lot of fun and a good middle of the week treat for us Mom's to get in some girl-time. Every year we have a few new folks, hopefully we will have even more ladies next year.
Bed time for the girls was a bit hectic for Brad, what with Avery waking up just as we were putting Olivia down, and Avery screaming her face off and then Olivia winding up, good gracious. Avery is still a fussy mess, and sleeping like absolute poo. Lets hope she gets those two front teeth for Christmas...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Mission Accomplished

And no, we aren't talking about how George Bush declared Mission Accomplished in what felt like 43 years ago about a War we are still fighting, we are seriously declaring Mission Accomplished in Operation Holiday Card Picture 2009. It was a long, well fought battle, one that at times looked like Olivia was going to claim victory, but I powered through and overcame the challenges of working with a 2 year old and 9 month old and ta-da, we have our Holiday Card pictures taken, edited, and on their way to our card designer - amen, halla-lu-ya, glory to God in the highest, peace to his people on Earth and though the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust, we got our 2009 Holiday Card into production.

And if you caught a little reference in there to my favorite hymn "Though the Mountains May Fall" - a big high five goes out to you.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

In the books...

Annual Cone Shot...courtesy of Justin F. Koehler...
YaYa and her two favorite girls...
Ta-Da! It was a success. The 4th Annual Tacky Sweater Party went off without a hitch...and without a police officer actually knocking on our front door, long story, but for now, that is all you are going to get about the law enforcement involvement.

Despite the awful weather we had a great turn out, a few folks couldn't make it, but hopefully next year is a different story. Our award for "came from the farthest" goes to Megs, aka "T-T eggs" She flew in for the weekend and we are so glad we got to spend some time with her, we miss her terribly and wish we could see her every single week. Several of our neighborhood peeps were in attendance, some curled up under the tree, some broke it down homeslice style and others just enjoyed the company of their loved ones. It was a great time had by all and we are already looking forward to next year, so mark your calendars, the first Saturday of December, it's on.

Megs & I actually had purchased the exact SAME vest...keep in mind we live in different states, shop at different stores, and turns out they aren't even the same brands - funny huh? We are great friends and even have the same taste in Tack.

The girls had a blast, running and crawling around, entertaining all the guests. They had 2 outfit changes throughout the night and then ended up curling into their beds at YaYa & GaGa's house for Avery's very first sleepover. She woke YaYa up at 12:45am and was super stuffy, I felt awful, she has been sleeping great for us, no middle of the night wake ups all week and of course her first night with YaYa she is up for an hour with snots galore. Sorry YaYa.
Avery's last outfit change before heading to YaYa's house...

That actually isn't her diaper you see, she is sitting on one, can you imagine if it sagged that much? Ewww.
My Mom and I hit up the Bizarre Bazaar this morning and low and behold my Mom won a door prize to my very favorite booth, I did the end zone dance in the middle of the aisle when I heard them call her name, everyone around us gave a little chuckle. She picked out personalized Christmas Plates and Placemats for the girls - super cute. I found these super cute/huge front door decorations that I fell madly in love with, but with a price tag of $55 I passed this time around, maybe next year. BUT I did end up getting a few things, I will post about them this week.

Avery has had a rough day, teething is really getting the best of her...the poor thing. And Riley is still wearing his "hat" as Olivia calls it. Just for a few more days, however this time around it doesn't seem to be helping reduce the ear shake-age, but that is the course of treatment for a broken ear, we know it all too well, as this is his third one. Urg.