Monday, April 30, 2012

Less Crazy, More Routine

I need to stop with the craziness, the insane schedules, the taking on too much, making too many plans and freaking out when things don't go as I dreamed they would.  Of course they don't, I am trying to fit a mountain into a mole hill - trying to do too much. I need less crazy and more routine.

Our lives are hectic with a capital H.  Brad is usually gone 2 nights a week, but rarely is it the same two nights, so we don't get in a good rhythm, everyday is different and the girls don't know which end is up, which parent will take them to school and which parent will pick them up day to day and for a while that worked for us and maybe it will again in the future, but for right now, it isn't working.  I need less crazy and more routine.

The one on the left is me, the one on the right is Molly...

I want to work out - can't seem to find the time - need to build a schedule so I can schedule workout time.  This one is actually a lie. I don't want to work out, rather, I NEED to work out, even if that means taking a walk in the evenings - of course the evenings when Brad is home, those Child Protective Services people would frown on me strolling the hood while my children are being supervised by a 7 year old hound.

I want to plan meals better - so that during the week we are eating healthy and at home every single night, so that I am not realizing at 6pm when I am rushing to pick up the girls that Brad is out of town and I haven't planned a meal.  I need to plan meals even when he is out of town and it needs to be healthy for all of us, not just kid friendly. And by planning better, it will likely structure my grocery list a little better, which will reduce the overspending and waste, and will also make it so my pantry doesn't invoke a panic attack every time I open it, I want a clean, organized pantry but I just have too much food in it, I want to have on my shelves what I need...not what I might possibly need.

I want to get to work and leave work around the same time every day - come Fall, we will have to be on a better routine because Olivia's schedule is now going to be less flexible, she is going to need to be at TCH by 7:50am every single morning so she can catch the bus to school.

This morning - I think Avery changed her clothes 3 times, cried 7 times and managed to get into at least 3 fights with Olivia, oh wait, and I forgot, she changed her shoes 3 times.  It was a tough morning for Avery, but I was proud of myself, I didn't fuss at her once, I let us take our time, I helped her find shoes that would bring her voice down into the normal range, and helped her take them off and put them on several times until her socks here lined up just right.  I helped her pick out the donut she wanted to take for snack, and despite the fact that she changed her mind 3 times, we got out the door with shoes on and a donut in hand.

I am hoping that routine reduces crazy for everyone involved - that it helps the girls and adds a little structure to their lives, most kids need structure right? I don't want them to be tied to a schedule, I want them to be able to go with the flow, but right now I am not going with the flow very well so I can't imagine its easy for them since I am acting like a crazy person trying to go with the flow and failing miserably!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Mom is Wise

My Mom and I were chatting on the phone the other day - they are now back in Northfield (Olivia has finally stopped crying herself to sleep - thank the lord) - and we were chatting about Avery and some of her latest antics. And she said "Maybe it would be easier on you and Avery if you just accepted Avery for who she is, Avery is Avery" and at first I just dismissed it, I wasn't angry with her, but I didn't really spend a lot of time internalizing what she meant. 

I don't spend a lot of time sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of our little Avery.   I share the stories and I share our challenges, but I can imagine as you read them, you find yourself laughing, she is funny, she does funny things, but there is a lot more to it and a lot more to our sweet Avery that I haven't shared with the WWW.  I am thinking that might change a little bit, I need to document our journey together, I don't want to over share, I want to respect her privacy but I want to be honest and share our story.

I love her, man, oh man, do I love her.  I love her so much it physically hurts, and sometimes my heart breaks that things just haven't gone the way I dreamed they would.  I feel a tremendous amount of guilt even admitting that.  I know that I am beyond fortunate to have a healthy little girl, one who can run around and play, one that can communicate with us and wrap her arms around my neck and say "I care about you Mommy", (she says that now because on Friday she said "I don't care about you" and I fussed at her and told her that hurt my feelings, so now she says "I care about you Mommy") and one that goes to school and absorbs the lessons they teach her.

I know that children are different and I know that it isn't fair to compare them, and I can openly admit that I have failed at this for the last few years.  It is very hard to not compare Olivia and Avery, they are both girls, very close in age, yet they are so very different, it isn't fair to them, and I need to work harder at respecting them as two tiny individuals, and embrace their differences, because I love them too darn much to hurt them, and my fear is that comparing them will end up hurting them.

It hit me last night, while I was talking to Brad - that my Mom's words were very wise.  I need to start accepting Avery for who she is. Avery is Avery.  I need to realize that the simple things may be more difficult with Avery, that getting her to brush her teeth and dress in weather appropriate clothing may take 90 minutes a day and I need to plan for that, and stop fussing at her for 90 minutes. That transitions are tough on her and I need to prepare her better.  That things have to be JUST so, or she might lose her mind so I need to be better about communicating with her to understand her needs so I get it right, or at least help her through it when she does lose her mind. That when her dress gets wet, she is likely going to drop to the floor and start freaking out until you remove the wet article of clothing. That her hugs warm my heart.  That saying things north of 20 times to her is likely what its going to take these days for her to start or stop doing what she is doing or not doing. That just thinking about her little voice makes me smile.  That she is loyal and is committed to Lambie and Monkey and can't to sleep without them.  That she loves skirts, dislikes pants, and will be happy to wear leg warmers when its 45 outside just so she can avoid wearing pants. Avery is Avery.

I was strolling the aisles of Target this morning (Target is peaceful on Sunday Mornings - note to self, while Target is almost like a religion to me, we need to get back to church!) and came across this book - "bloom: finding beauty in the unexpected" by Kelle Hampton - this story reminds you that "perfect" is an irrelevant term, and that a mother's love is powerful.  I need to let go of the perfect and love a little more. It isn't going to be easy for me, I find myself fussing far more than I would like and I need to just stop the fussing and focus on the positives. Avery has done a great job of staying in her bed for the last week, and I need to celebrate that, instead of focusing on the fact that we have had to go into her room several times a night - we are still making progress, so I need to focus on that, and celebrate that Avery is now doing a great job of staying in her bed.

By no means am I comparing my situation to having a little beauty with DS, I am just hoping that I can gather some momentum and inspiration to be a better Mommy to both of my beauties, and a good start is accepting them for who they are and embracing them as individuals. I will be sure to fill you all in on how the book turns out, I am already really excited about all the photographs - Kelle Hampton is also a photographer, so they are fantastic!

PS: I can't wait for my Mom to call and say "So, your Momma is wise..." I can just hear her now.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Five on Friday: Riley

I grew up with Dogs. I have always loved dogs, in honor of Riley's 7th Birthday, I thought I would share the five things I love about having a dog, specifically about having Riley in our lives.

1) Unconditional Love & Excitement - when I come into the house, whether I am the one to let him out of his crate or he is already out running around with the girls, he comes running over and greets me at the door with the biggest smile, his entire backend is wagging and shaking with excitement and he just can't wait for me to rub on him and give him some loving.

2) Safety - he makes me feel safe.  When I am home alone I love that he sleeps with me and keeps his big ears open. He protects us - he acts like the "man" of the house when Brad isn't home - its charming.

3) Gentle Snuggler - he is the best snuggler around - he loves to get as close as possible and he is gentle. I can lay on him, put my face in his face, and smoosh all over him and he just takes it and snuggles in.  He drops his head and lets me cozy up - precious buddy!

4) Clean - for a dog, this pup is clean.  He doesn't really shed, sometimes he smells like a dog, but most of the time he feels soft and clean and smells about the same.

5) Understands English - no joke, Riley and I can hold a conversation, he doesn't really have a lot to add, but he is listens well and does just what I say - when we are snuggling on the couch and I casually mention its time for bed or that I need to go upstairs, he gets up, stretches his legs and hits the stairs, checking it out so its safe when I get up there.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Phew - I can't believe it has been two years.  Two years since Jilly and Chase when to Heaven. I will never forget the moment in which Adam shared the tragic news with me.  The emotions and the memories of that day and the week that followed are still as vivid as they were two years ago.

But this post isn't about how horrific and sad Jill's passing was, this post is about the IMPACT my dear friend Adam (Jill's younger brother) has made. He has gone beyond turning lemons into lemonade, he is a true inspiration. He and Jilly were close, each other's biggest fans, and losing Jilly could have paralyzed him.but instead of climbing under the covers,  he put his love for Jill into action and started the Jill E. Harrington Hanzalik Memorial Fund.

Adam is beyond determined and he has done amazing things with this foundation in just the two short years it has been around. It is a damn shame that the fund exists at all, but one thing is for sure, Jilly is smiling down on Adam and beaming with pride when she looks over all the children's lives the fund has enriched.  The JEHH fund has already given out close to $50,000 in grants - impressive huh?  The mission is simple: give kids a chance to chase their dreams.  It could be as simple as getting an aspiring gymnast private lessons for a few months, or paying for art lessons for kids who have always wanted to give their creative side a try.

The accomplishments to date are impressive, jaw dropping some would say, but I can't say I am surprised.  I get goosebumps when I think about how proud of Adam I am. Adam and I have been close for years, but lately I have found myself reflecting on the remarkable man he has become.  So today in honor of Jill's passing, Adam and the Fund have established a day of IMPACT, a day to make a difference, a day to donate to a great cause.  I usually donate on Mother's Day, but I couldn't miss out on making an IMPACT.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Restaurant Week: Water Grill

I love Restaurant Week, it gives me a great reason to get out during the week, contribute to a good cause and try out a new restaurant.  It is hit or miss, sometimes I end up loving it and other times it is more of a forgettable experience.  Last night fell into the later category as far as the food goes, but the company was stellar. 

Insley, Molly and I dined at The Water Grill, we are all huge fans of Shrimp & Grits and so we picked Water Grill because their Restaurant Week menu included Shrimp & Grits, but I hate to report the grits were cold, tasteless and mushy (I know, grits are always mushy, but still), the shrimp was good, but there were huge chunks of fatty, fried crisp bacon thrown in there, but it didn't have a bacon-y flavor, which was disappointing.  The She Crab soup to start was wonderful, not the best I have ever had, but I would order it again, and the Key Lime Pie that Insley and Molly had for dessert was great as well, my Coconut Custard Pie left a little to be desired - but that was my own fault for not sticking with the old faithful, etc.

I don't think we will get out again this week, but I am already looking forward to the next Restaurant Week - it happens twice a year, and we already have a short list of our options for the Fall.  By then, Baby Sam (baby in Insley's Belly) will be living in the outside world, and it will be entertaining for us to leave Justin, her husband home with all three kids - I can't wait.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Report: My Fair Lazy

I am a big, big, fan of Jen Lancaster, she is beyond witty, she entertains me like no other, and I can relate to many of the topics that she explores and writes about - I can't get enough of her.  I have also read Such a Pretty Fat

I find myself laughing out loud with the turn of every page - this girl is a hoot and I find her fashion sense to be right up my alley - the girl loves her some Lacoste Polo Shirts and I can see her rocking madras every now and then and madras is good for my soul. 

I highly recommend either of these books, I just started Pretty in Plaid (this is one of those books that I would have purchased based on the cover - it is A-dorable with a capital A

And I just picked up Bitter Is The New Black at the Barnes & Noble! I am reading her in a strange order, but I love her just the same - she makes me laugh, she is witty and I love reading books by gals who I would love to call a BFF. If you haven't read any of the Jen Lancaster books yet, get out there and get yourself one - she just wrote her first novel too, I can't wait to get my feminine paws on that one.

Sunday....Rainy Sunday

We haven't had a lazy, rainy day in quite some time and I think we are all very thankful for it. We just woke the girls up from a short rest (bedtime is a nightmare if they get any real sleep during the day, oh wait, its a nightmare with Avery regardless) and it looks like we are all going to curl up on the couch and finish watching Despicable Me (our movie from last night - Turner Family Movie Night).  Avery likes to call it "Spicable Me"!

We ventured out to Costco in the rain this morning for the weekly berry stock up (I am obsessed with yogurt, granola & berries for breakfast in the mornings and Costco has the best deal on berries these days), had a delicious lunch at Awful Arthur's, stopped quickly at Sweet Spoon, returned a book at Barnes & Noble and I put clothes away sobbed while watching Private Practice from last week - you know, just your normal Sunday around these parts!

My Parents are coming over for a quick visit this afternoon before they head back to Northfield early this week.  We will all miss the VERY much, but we know they are ready to head North, my Dad is ready to start planting his veggie garden and my Mom is just excited to "return home".  We likely won't see the until July, so we plan on lots of Skype conversations!!

Yesterday (Saturday) I co-hosted a baby shower for my dear friend and college roommate Allison in Northern Virginia.  Her and Austin are expecting their first late May, the gender is unknown and it is driving me nuts, I tell her almost daily what a pain in the neck it is for me to not know the gender...because of course with this being her first child and all, its all about me - HA! It was great to catch up with my JMU gals and spend some time with the beautiful Mom-To-Be!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Five on Friday: Websites I frequent

I don't get much time to surf the World Wide Web these days, but I am always fascinated by the websites that exist and the information they are sharing with the world and what they have to offer.  I have a few that I visit on a regular basis and figured that others did too, so thought it would be fun to share.

1) Facebook - I can't help it, I am nosey, and love to know what is going on in my friends lives, and it is a quick and easy source of information that otherwise would take me days or weeks to find out.  I love finding out that a friend is expecting, or that someone bought a house, I love being able to celebrate all the great moments in peoples lives, and while I hate hearing about a loss, I do like knowing that someone is going through something tough so I can be extra understanding or offer my support.  Sometimes FB drives me a bit batty, I don't need to know what people are making for dinner every single night of the week, but I can't get enough of photos of my friends kiddos, so I would rather skip over the menu planning and go straight to the kiddos.

2) Pinterest - while I did just comment on not visiting Pinterest all too often these days, it doesn't mean I love it any less, in fact if I had the choice I would spend hours scouring Pinterest. I love being able to save ideas, know that I don't have to scour the WWW to find them and I love seeing what other people are into and thinking about.  The biggest areas of interest for me are the recipes, the DIY projects or the home decor, but the fashion has been fairly hip these days too. Again, I am nosey!

3) Wells Fargo/ING Direct/ - those are the financial websites that I am visiting most often - I don't check in all that often, but find myself paying bill after bill and those sites are my execution points.

4) Rue La La, Zulily and One Kings Lane - these are my three favorite flash sale sites. I am very impressed with Rue La La and their service, One Kings Lane and Zulily are hit or miss, some ship quickly and others take much longer, but I am still a huge fan of their offering and love to browse their sales.

5) - I can't help it, I am a sucker for gossip and photos of famous people doing everyday things. I use it to find out the latest information on who is engaged, who is having a baby and who was removed from an airplane for playing words with know, all the uber important stuff.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A tease...and a rant!

I have to admit something...I have been a bad, bad, bad blog follower these days. I generally love to read blogs, I usually check in on several on a religious basis, but lately I have been scared to tease myself.  I often find myself reading blogs about home improvements or home decor, I can't get enough of the DIY blogs, but I just haven't had the time to dedicate to a project, therefore I didn't want to tease myself with all the amazing ideas out there in blog land.  I haven't been on Pinterest in ages, for the very same reason.  I am in a funk.  I am a tad stressed at work, lots of responsibility and a lot going on, I am more than a tad stressed about being a Mom to two children that are full of sass and don't tend to listen the first or tenth time you ask something of them and I have struggled to prioritize things like picking up a Cashiers Check for our refinance, how in the world would I feather in a home project? So my response is to just avoid the blogs, avoid anything that will tease me and remind me that I don't have the mind I want to have to dedicate to home projects.  Olivia's room has been a work in progress for months now, I have been dying to give a blog tour of her room, but it just isn't quite there yet...I can almost taste it, but it still needs a few more hours of Leigh-Time, of which doesn't seem to be available these days.

And some of the avoidance of blogs is an effort to be more content in what I have and what is ours.  Not to want for what others have, not to yearn for something different or better, but to just be happy and content with what we have, and truth be told, that requires me to shut down, avoid, avoid avoid, that is my strategy.

Molly and I have been trying to walk in the evenings...haven't done it yet, haven't had time.  It is pure chaos at our house after the girls go to their rooms, Avery is out of her bed no less than 14 times a night, so we are required to stand guard on the second floor - I frankly can't remember the last time I watched TV downstairs - it is getting so bad that Brad is shopping for a bigger bedroom TV.

The cotton picking boxwoods, that aren't boxwoods, that are some type of Holly Bush Thingies, are dead, almost all of them, and it makes the front of our house look darn near tragic - curb-appeal my tush - there isn't much appeal in all those dead (I want to call them Boxwoods) Holly Bush Thingies. So I tell you this because we have to take on this project - do I want to? Not for a second? I loathe landscaping and planting and dirt, and weeding, I outsource lawn care for a reason - but this just isn't going to work - Not Boxwood Holly Bush Thingies look awful - and the mailbox post, you know, the one I just refinished...yeah, that one, well it is leaning, and by leaning I mean, Molly is taking bets to see what day it just falls into the road, it is THAT bad. I finally told Brad to just prop it up with something, that getting a new mailbox post is way down on my priority list, so it is standing upright again....we'll see how long that lasts.

And the 30 Day Enough is Enough Challenge has not yet kicked off in our house, we are going to start on May 1st - but don't fret, I am still pumped about it, the stress has just pushed it out a few weeks!

I am hoping that my stress level goes down, my energy level goes up and that my free time multiples, because this recipe I have going on right now is likely only going to end in disaster.  I do have to say though, venting in this post is helping a lot, I can imagine it is painful to read, but sure is making me feel better.

And for all of my friends that have had babies in the last few months, I have well thought out gifts, some are already executed on, just haven't made it in the mail, others are still ideas in my head, but I promise you I haven't forgotten about you or your special addition!!!

Kindergarten...say WHAT?

Can you believe this little beauty is going to start school in the Fall?  Today was the big day! Brad and I took the day off to take Olivia to Kindergarten Registration, we thought we would make a fun day of it, take her to lunch, then Sweet Frog, maybe run a few errands, just the three of us...we were not prepared to spend almost 4 hours at Jacobs Road Elementary...waiting around.  Thankfully a few of Olivia's friends from Pre-School were there so they had each other to entertain, but seriously...that place was a zoo and no one prepared us for such a long wait, everyone told us maybe a 30 minute wait...wrongo!!

We started the morning with Blueberry Pancakes and Bacon - the girls did NOT dig the blueberries, they didn't understand why they were warm, they only like cold blueberries. So Avery picked around the blueberries and God forbid she took a bite of one, that bite quickly made its way to a napkin - WOOF.

Olivia was thrilled about a day with us and has been talking about Registration for weeks now.  We wanted to do something special for her, but didn't know exactly what. I thought it might be a good idea to marry a small present with a lesson, and ta-da, I came up with the Have You Filled A Bucket Today book.

If you haven't heard of it, read up, it is adorable and Olivia was using the lingo on my Mom at dinner, she was telling us that Avery is a Bucket Dipper - ain't that the truth!! Now if only this book could help turn her dipping into filling, we would be in business.

It was a nice day, so after sitting around inside the gym of Jacobs Road Elementary School for a few hours we decided to go to lunch with one of Olivia's friends Meredith and her Mom.  It was nice to sit out and just relax knowing that the action of registering was behind us, and it was a celebratory meal as well - Olivia did a great job, the tester said she is very ready for Kindergarten and that her teacher is going to love her. Talk about making your heart swell with pride!!!

While at lunch at Panera I thought it would be prudent to whip out the camera and have Olivia pose for some Senior Photo type shots...I mean, come on, the kid is starting Kindergarten in the fall, it is never too early to work on that smile...I had retake session after retake session, Senior Photos were brutal for me. (Especially since no one told me to wax my eye brows - good lord, I had to wait for my college roommates to bring my crazy eye brow situation to light - thank God for them!!!)

Today was a busy day, and everyone is exhausted, but it was another milestone is raising these beauties and we are two very proud parents.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"We have a new brother?"

Isn't he just the cutest little cherub you have ever seen? I just want to love on him until the cows come home.  Meet Aiden, he is the first born son of my BFF Megs.  My beauties have been very anxious about his arrival, they ask every single day "Did Auntie Eggs baby come out yet?" and everyday I would tell them "Not yet, he is still baking in there" and so the other night when Megs finally went into labor I went upstairs and woke Olivia up to tell her that "Auntie Eggs was at the hospital and getting ready to have the baby". Olivia was excited and said "He's finally coming out? And those are happy tears right Momma?" (She can tell my happy tears from my sad tears, so cute)  At one point over the last few weeks Olivia had offered to help get him out, I told her that we couldn't really help, that it was up to the Doctors to help if they thought he needed help getting out, but that we would just have to wait, I believe her response was "NO FAIR"

The next morning while the girls and I were getting ready, imagine all three of us in my bathroom getting ready...I think Brad was in his closet, they were asking questions about "Baby Aiden" and Avery looks up at me with the biggest brown eyes and says "So we have a new brother?" it was a precious moment...but Brad and I quickly chimed in with: "Oh no honey, not a brother, but a very close friend, almost like a cousin, but not really a cousin" - of course then we got these weird looks and I could see the wheels turning, a cousin, but not really a cousin, what in the world does that mean? They are dying to see him and of course I am chomping at the bit, but for now, we will have to deal with all these cutie patutie photos that they are sending to us.  Congratulations Megs & Tim, we are so very thankful to have you in our lives and are thrilled to add Aiden to our "family".

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five on Friday: Summer Must Dos

I have seen a "Summer List" on Pinterest and I have seen several blogs that create a list and check it off as they do and accomplish. We have talked about creating one for our family as well, but we aren't quite there yet, and not sure we will get there this summer, but I thought it might be a good idea to capture the top five things we would like to do and things we are looking forward to as a family this summer.

May 2010

1) Strawberry Picking - we picked strawberries when Avery was just a wee wobbler, but we skipped it last year, we are looking forward to getting back out there and filling up our baskets.  Yum, Strawberry Shortcake, Strawberry Ice Cream...I can already taste the berry-freshness. 

August 2010

2) Toes in the Ocean - Tush in the Sand - this one is a slam dunk, no chance this doesn't happen for us this summer, but our hope is it happens several times throughout the summer. We plans to spend a week in Myrtle Beach with Brad's Parents and Sister (and of course her family) and we hope to spend a long weekend in Wilmington - Wrightsville Beach, but our goal is to also spend a day or two on Virginia Beach, just soaking up the sun, it is so close, yet we never take advantage of it - likely because our weekends are always so packed, but I hope we can make a few day trips this summer.

July 2011

3) Make Ice Cream - we started making ice cream mid-summer 2011 and it was a blast, it was fun mixing in new ingredients and seeing how they would turn out.  The girls loved it and asked to make ice cream several times, I can't wait to see what "flavors" we create this summer.

4) Drive-In - we have wanted to try out the Goochland Drive-In for the last two years but we just didn't think that Avery would make it, now we know the child operates on very little sleep (not that she operates well, but she operates) and so this is likely going to be the year we give it a whirl - let's hope there is a good movie to break us in.

5) Camping - this one involves Brad and the girls - he has promised he will camp out with them in the backyard, they both have sleeping bags and we have a tent, but we aren't quite sure if the tent will hold all three of them, and I am fairly certain Avery won't make it the whole night, but I said the same thing about Olivia last summer and she surprised me, so maybe they will prove me wrong.  The girls have already started asking, so I am guessing this one might happen before it is officially summer, since it gets a little hot in the summer here. Maybe in a year or two they will even talk me into joining them at a real campsite - not just in our backyard.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Happy Belated Easter

We colored eggs...

We celebrated it, we promise - despite the poor blog showing. We had a relaxing day - we slept in, and by we, oddly enough, I mean Avery & Brad. Olivia was up a few minutes after 7, but I talked her into snuggle & Disney Junior time in our bed, while Brad & Avery caught a few extra ZZZZ's in Avery's Bed.  Of course, Avery slept until 8:10am - please note, this NEVER happens.

We decorated the house...

We had a lazy morning at home, looking for Easter Baskets and checking out the loot that the EB himself brought...

This is where the EB hides your basket when you aren't a good listener and when you give your Parents a really hard time at bedtime (screaming your face off and getting out of your bed 146 times a night)

A certain someone setting her sights on the basket...

Sneak Peek of the Armoire Re-Do...and Olivia's Basket

Olivia finding her basket and a look at the Armoire, it deserves its own post one of these days

This was the first year that the EB really left candy in the basket and frankly I think he over did it, so next year its going to be back to kid stuff and snacks, much lighter on the candy. I forget how long it takes to get rid of it when you only let them eat one piece a day.

We went to my Parents house for Lunch and had a delicious meal.  My Dad and Brad hid some eggs for the girls outside, so they had a little Easter Egg Hunt at my Parents house - Olivia allowed me to put her in a cute smocked dress, actually the same one she wore last year on Easter, but Avery was having no part of it, and kept with her uniform, a jean skirt. The child wears a jean skirt almost every day...good thing she has 4 of them.

My Mom made an Angel Pie, which is a recipe my Grandma (Dad's Mom) used to make every year on Easter, so of course, big tough Ralphie turned on the sentimental waterworks and reminded us all that he really is a softie deep down in that gruff exterior of his. I absolutely get my sensitive/sentimental/cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat side from him. It was delicious...with a capital D.

We headed home after the Egg Hunt and attempted a nap, I was the only one that executed on it well and the girls rested for a solid 7 minutes.

Later that afternoon we had another Egg Hunt for the girls, but this time at our house.  They had fun running around collecting 24 hidden/stuffed eggs. It wasn't quite the same as years past, since the neighbors and their kiddos weren't around, but the girls had a nice day, filled with lots of family fun!!

To Cut or Not To Cut...

I am taking the girls to get haircuts tonight and Olivia has already told me that she doesn't want to get much cut off, she wants her hair to grow long like Ms. Lorna's (a teacher at her school), whose hair resembles this:

Crystal Gayle

I am not digging the Crystal Gayle look, but Olivia has set her sights on one day being able to sit on her own hair since Ms. Lorna won't let her sit on hers (the fact that she has asked is hysterical) . Olivia has amazing hair, she really does, it is thick, very straight and her air dry look is just knock your socks off good, no blowout needed for this hip little 4 year old beauty.

Avery on the other hand...that beauty has thin, thin, thin hair.  The color is pretty, but it is getting darker, it will be interesting to see if the sun lightens it up again or if her hair is starting to go more brunette and she is losing her blond locks. So the debate is, being that her hair is thin, long and straight, do I cut it into a layered bob to give it more va-va-voom?  The world wide web tells me the worst thing for thin hair is to leave it long and straight, whoops...but I am worried that a bob won't work either, so my question is, do I cut it and give it a try, or do I leave it long and straight?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Enough is Enough - 30 Day Challenge

I was reading Parent & Child Magazine from Scholastic, the girls get it at school and so we get two copies of it on a monthly basis, I usually try and read it, but some months it slips through, but this month I picked it up and came across an article about finding your "Enough" as it relates to stuff and how to live within those means.

The philosophy is quite simple, but putting it into practice seems to be where things are going to get dicey for me, but I was telling Brad about it and I am actually very excited about taking on this challenge. In the long run I think committing to our "Enough" will add a sense of simplicity and calm to our family life that we so desperately need.

Choose Quality over Quantity - "selective materialism" is about choosing and caring for quality items that we purchase and bring into our home.  The thought is that you should buy the best you can afford so that you are buying things that are well made and durable, so that you are grateful for what you have, and less likely to be thinking about the replacement or the next purchase.

Give Children the Ability to Be Happy - raise our children to find happiness outside of material possessions, move away from the gift giving to show low and move more towards rewarding our children with experiences.  Brad's Parents are great at this - they love to create great memories with the girls and with us, and I love that. We have close friends who have tween-age children and the things they worry about frighten me, their son, who is a great kid, wants to spend $16 on a pair of socks, because there is a stigma associated with Nike Socks and having Nike Socks is important - we are talking about a smart kid, who is raised by amazing parents, I can't stress enough that this kid has a great, solid head on his shoulders, but he still wants the $16 pair of socks, the pressure is insane to "keep up" at a very young age these days.  Sometimes I think - phew, we have girls, we won't be competing for the latest and greatest video game system and won't be worried about who gets the newest game first, but then I think about the middle school girls I see waiting for the bus toting a Coach Purse and I change my mind.

Own Less Stuff - how do you get to the "what I need" vs. "what I want"? Owning less stuff and using less stuff also makes us more responsible human beings, we naturally would create less waste, which of course is a huge win for the environment.

Discovering Your Personal Enough - the article talks about 3 steps we can all take to find our "Enough".

Step 1 - Understand and Embrace the concept of living with Enough
- Donate, sell and recycle the things you can do without
-Think before you bring things into your house

Step 2 - Teach your Children to embrace the concept of Enough
- monkey see as monkey do - be a good role model for your children
- is is more important to spend time together, or more time playing a new video game?
- remind them of all the things they wanted, but never use - likely because they have too many things

Step 3 - Put Theory into Practice
- One for One rule - if you want to bring something into the house - something has to go
- give experiences, not gifts - trip to the zoo, not a new doll as a reward for good behavior
- start small, tackle one closet at time
- don't give into buying things you don't need to show love

Beginning on April 15th you can join the 30 day challenge - HERE - everyday there will be a tip to help us along the path to find our "Enough" and declutter our homes. I personally can't wait. I am very much looking forward to finding our "Enough", I search for contentment every so often and always find myself getting caught up in things that don't matter. 

I look at everything our girls have - they have so much stuff, and frankly, they just don't need half of it. I am so tempted to just go through all their toys and weed out the things they don't play with, but the challenge is, they don't even remember what they have, because they have so much stuff. We need to do something about that!! And clothes, good grief, they have so many clothes, I keep telling myself that I will stop buying them clothes they don't need, but they are so stinkin' cute, I end up caving and giving in, I need to stop that.  I need to be okay passing up super cute clothes at great prices if the girls just don't need them.

Do you think something like this would be helpful for your family to participate in? I just hope it brings us so peace, helps us de-clutter our home and simply things just a bit.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Taking Dress Up Outside...

Little girls love to play dress up, they love to pretend they are a princess, a chef or a ballerina, you name it, there are costumes out there you can procure to help your child channel their inner fireman, etc.  I know several little boys that get a kick out of throwing on a tutu and twirling around. We store all the girls dress up clothes, shoes and accessories in the bench in our kitchen (which needs a makeover), and when they get an itch to dress up usually that means the entire bench will be emptied and they will spend a good hour changing outfits over and over again, I love it, I love listening to the stories they tell each other and the situations they encounter in their imaginary world.  It just so happens that last weekend they thought it would be a great idea to marry dress up with outside play...and when you do that...this is what you get:

(no idea why the photos look so blurry - they aren't blurry in Picasa, but turn blurry as soon as I upload them - I don't get it)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Egg Hunt - Children's House Style

She asks Miss Susan to do her hair every day

My Mom and I popped over to the Girls School today to share in some of their Easter activities, including their Egg Hunt.  We were a few minutes late to Avery's and basically missed the whole thing, according to her teacher it takes about 5 minutes total for them to find all the eggs, so it was pretty uneventful, but we did get to spend about an hour with the class outside - someone seriously needs to teach Avery to pump, she is the only kid in her class who loves the swing, but can't keep herself moving, pushing her on those little swings isn't easy on your back - woof.

In action

Can you tell how low the swings are?

YaYa pushing Avery...

Olivia's class came out around 11, and I witnessed their Egg Hunt from start to finish, and the teachers are right, it is quick, all the eggs were found within 2 minutes, so they spent a few minutes handing out candy for all the eggs they found and then they moved to a different playground so the other 4 year old class could come and partake in the 2 minute Egg Hunt.

Brad and I were chatting this afternoon, the way people at the girls school address us, just cracks us up, to the kids we are "Olivia's Mommy" or "Avery's Daddy" to the teachers we are usually "Mom" or "Dad" and when the teachers really need our attention specifically they will call us "Mrs. Turner" or "Mr. Turner" - too bad for them, I don't even think to respond to Mrs. Turner, I would turn around look for good ol' Sheila (aka Brad's Mom or Mom T).  Brad does NOT like being called Dad by anyone other than Olivia or Avery, it creeps him out for some reason and he has told the teachers several times to just call him Brad - my guess is they can't keep all of our names straight, so "Mom or Dad" is the safest route.
Olivia showed an affinity to the yellow or gold colored eggs...

Olivia's Class after the Hunt - waiting for their candy

We will likely put together an Egg Hunt for the girls on Sunday in our yard - this will be our first Easter without the neighbors so it won't be quite as exciting for them, just the two of them, but hopefully they will still have fun going in search of colorful eggs filled with goodness.