Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Tradition: Travel Buddies

I picked up The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day by Meg Cox at Pottery Barn Kids (grab it on Amazon, it is much cheaper) and I was in tears reading it on the way home (I wasn't driving). There are some creative and impressive families out there that have come up with some fun and inspirational ways to keep families connected.

Minnie at Brad's Work Presentation

I am only about 50 pages in and there are already several traditions that I am looking forward to incorporating in our every day lives, but the first one we are going to implement is to add some fun to the painful fact that Brad and I both have to travel.  Brad travels every single week and I am traveling a bit more than normal and so we asked the girls to each pick out a Travel Buddy for us to bring with us when we are away.  Olivia picked Brad's Travel Buddy, and Avery picked mine. So this morning when Brad left, Minnie Mouse went with him and when I get on a plane for California next week Donald Duck will be with me.  I am looking forward to it and I can't wait to see the adventures Minnie and Donald experience.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Five on Friday: Fall Activities

I realize that I didn't hit 100% off my Summer Activities, but I am hoping that I am able to come closer for my Fall Activities.  I really do enjoy the Fall, but compared to New England, the Fall weather here is just super inconsistent....the good news is, it has been beautiful so far, and my hope is, that it continues that way. If you have some other fun Fall traditions or activities planned, please feel free to share, I would love to get some new ideas!

1) Apple Picking - this will be our second year apple picking and we've already got it on the calendar, I can't wait.  I will also get to spend some QT with one of my college gal pals and her family since they live in the Charlottesville Area, and that is where we go - Carter Mountain.  The Apple Cider donuts are to die for and Apple Picking is just a fun activity, it can be a bit pricey, but I plan to do a lot of things with the apples this year to make it worth it.

2) Pumpkin Patch & Pumpkin Milkshakes - we typically go to Chestefield Berry Farm and last year Olivia got to go twice (me too since I chaperoned), but this year we will go as a family, and as of now we are planning on going next weekend before it gets too crazy and so we can enjoy the pumpkins longer.

3) Carving Pumpkins - we usually don't do a bang up job in this area, but this year we are NOT going to leave it to the last minute and we are going to make a family affair of it.

4) CrockPot Sundays - I love using the CrockPot on Sunday's, and Brad loves watching Football so usually we are around on Sunday's, which just helps the day feel more relaxed, something we could all use a little more of.  I kicked it off last weekend with Taco Soup and it didn't disappoint. I am looking for some new recipes, and can't wait to try a few out.

5) Baking - I have pinned a ton of recipes on Pinterest, most of which contain apples and pumpkin, both of which I love, so I can't wait to start cranking some out.  I have taken a pause on the whole "lose a sick amount of weight and be skinny and cute" journey...I just have so much going on, I want to enjoy the time, enjoy the girls, be happy and not stress about the # of fat grams I have going into my body.  So I am going to enjoy baking with them, and savor the memories (and the desserts).

Friday, September 14, 2012

Five on Friday: Fall TV

It is that time again, time to kick up your feet after the kiddos go to bed and lose yourself in Fall TV shows.  The always anticipated Summer TV rut wasn't nearly as bad this year as in years past, so I am not as excited about the Fall TV premieres as I usually am, but don't get me wrong, I am one excited-TV-loving gal.

I am still very much looking forward to some returning shows, but I am also going to give a few new ones a try, such as Chicago Fire, can't wait for that one. 

Leigh's Five Favorites
1) Private Practice - I just love this show, I actually like it heads and tails more than I like Grey's Anatomy, and honestly Grey's is still up there for me, and likely will be found somewhere in this top five and if not, easily in the top 10. And if memory serves me correctly, Addison and Jake made out towards the end of the season, so I can't wait to see what happens with that.  But this is likely the final season, I can't imagine the show without Addison and I hear this is her last season.

2) The Good Wife - one of my absolute favorites, and my co-worker pointed out, the fashion sense in this show is super classy - not flashy.  I am dying to see what happens with Will, this show has the potential to flop if they get rid of all the romance...let's hope they don't do that, because I would hate to say goodbye to this one.

3) Hart of Dixie - this is a new one for me, and one that doesn't really knock my intellectual socks off, but entertains me.  I am a huge Rachel Bilson fan, not sure why, because I don't think she is a fantastic actress, I just seem to like her.  And the new season is getting ready to kick off with a love triangle, so that of course keeps me interested, George Tucker or Wade...that is the question?  This beauty is on The CW.

4) Parenthood - this is just good quality, down home television.  I rarely make it through the 60 minute episode without a tear, the first episode this season ended and I was a blubbering mess thinking about Olivia starting Kindergarten and seeing her going off to college like Haddie. I love the dynamic of the large Braverman family, I just love stories about large families, they intrigue me, likely because I am an only child.

5)  Blue Bloods - Tom Selleck is the bees knees, I adore that man and his character in this show is a perfect fit for him. Love this show - also love the family dynamic here, and how close the family is.

Brad's Five Favorites That I Watch
(If he was choosing his all time five, and didn't care whether I liked them or not, the list would be different and would include things like "Combat Pawn" and "Sons of Guns" or something like that)

1) Strike Back - series on Cinemax - and we just started watching it, but its addicting, picture special forces fighting terrorism

2) NCIS & NCIS Los Angeles - between Gibbs, Hanna and Callen, these boys just can't be beat - we both adore these shows and I love that they are back to back on Tuesday Nights.

3) Homeland - on Showtime - with Claire Danes - great series and we are still catching up on Season 1, but can't wait for Season 2 to start in a few weeks.

4) Castle - we absolutely love Richard Castle - and Castle and Beckett are a fantastic couple and I can't wait to see what happens with their relationship this season.

5) Scandal - we are both chomping at the bit for this one to come back, me more so than Brad, but he likes it too. I love the secrecy and drama associated with all the characters in this one, they all have back stories that keep you wondering.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall Activity = Gymnastics

We want the girls to be involved, and we want them to have fun, lots and lots of fun, but we don't want to plan every single second of their lives to the point that they don't have down time to just play at home with their for the Fall we landed on Gymnastics through Richmond Olympiad. Tt is actually a class called Kindercise, which is focused on flexibility, coordination and brings in the basics of gymnastics.  We will likely schedule a round of Swimming Lessons as well, but that will be a quick 2 week session, and not something that happens every single week.  Gymnastics is 9:30-10:30 on Saturday Mornings, so it doesn't take us out during the week.  And we are considering Dance for Avery as well, but again, that would be during the school day and wouldn't impact their free-at-home time. 

I've read several parenting books about not over scheduling your children's lives, and I agree, but I am also having a hard time with the idea that my kids could be lazy and just hang around the house all the time, but I need to keep perspective, they are 3 and 5 years old. There is plenty of time to worry, now is not the time.   They are at school all day long, they need and want their downtime.  I was a busy kid. I was involved in a lot, and I got a lot out of it, but they are not me, and they are again, 3 and 5 years old.  I probably spent a lot of time at home at 3 and 5 as well.  I am hoping the girls enjoy athletics, but if not, we will find something else they enjoy and if they want to be in the Band...Brad can handle that, because I played Clarinet for all of 2 days, and I only wanted to play it because I thought carrying an instrument to school made me look cool in 3rd grade.

First Homework Assignment

I just got home from Chicago last night (work travel) so Brad was the lucky duck who got to experience Olivia's first homework assignment. It was simple and cute, but a milestone nonetheless.  And I failed to take a photo of the finished product last night after I attached a photo of her, but if you can imagine a beautiful black and white photo of Olivia at the top, while on the beach, you can get the visual in your head.

When I asked her about the whole "Green is my favorite color" she said "Pink was, but not today".  The child changes her mind like the wind - but that is a-okay when you are five.  When you commit to decisions like a dark red paint color in your morning room and you change your mind, your husband wants to throttle you...oh wait, I guess that's because I am not 5.  And Brad and I decided, Olivia can work at a "Teaching Hospital" and kill two birds with one stone.

And of course, Avery is setting trends up and down the East Coast...this morning she is sporting a "What to Wear" outfit that would make your toes curl.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Little Friends

At Unity Park

I love that my friends have little ones, and I love that our little ones love each other, I just wish that we all lived so much closer together. Olivia and Jayden (Adam and Kear's son) have hung out several times, have even spent a few days in a row together when Adam and Kear come to visit, but in general they haven't seen each other all that much in their 5 years of life, yet she adores him. She has been talking about him non-stop since we got home and just wants to know if Jayden can come and live in our house so they can be best friends forever. 

I saw a few glimpses into what teenage years could be like, our first adventure with Jayden was the park at BES and he was playing with some other kids and wasn't giving Olivia 100% of his attention, and her feelings were hurt, it was cute, and totally normal for 5 year olds, but I could just see her spinning up the drama down the line when a boy isn't giving her the attention that she wants.

The girls love seeing "Aunt Bethy's" kids too, it was so cute watching them say goodbye to each other, Austin had to bend down to hug them goodbye.  The girls wanted to spend more time with Austin and Sofia, and I hated that we couldn't just spend a day at their house hanging out, it would have been great to see them all playing together despite their age difference.

Friday Night in Northfield...just a normal pick-up game of TP Football...the girls had a great time running around in the yard with Adam and Jayden, the rest of us just sat back, dined on some yummy A-1 Pizza and enjoyed some spirits.

And who could forget this cute little man...I swear, if I could be around this little face every single day, the world would be a better place - his smile is problem solving!!

And this little girl, while adorable, is likely the one causing the problems, that little Jaxy is solving with his smile.

I just love watching the little ones make friends...and I love listening to them talk about their friends.  Olivia asked when we are going to "Armpittsburg" to visit Aunite Megs and her Baby Aiden...and we can't wait.  These two girls of mine are baby lovers, they were all over Jaxy while we were home...they couldn't get enough.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"American Reunion" and The 413

The four of us flew to Boston on August 29th, bright and early.  We were up and out of the house by 5:00am. Olivia was yapping before her eyes were even open and I am fairly certain she talked for a solid 90 minutes, she finally calmed down on the airplane, but the girl was wound up, she was so excited to see her YaYa.

Monkey, Lambie, Alice and Cowie made the trip too.

The girls were great on the plane - after our flight home from Disney in December I was worried that the TSA might have put Avery on some sort of list and we might not make it out of Richmond, but we breezed through security - much easier without strollers, etc.  Avery kept me busy on the plane, she went through all the packed activities, attempted to rest for a few minutes and freaked out when she had to go to the bathroom "That bathroom is SCARY"...I concur, airplane bathrooms are far from the comfort of your own home.

My Dad's Garden - Olivia wanted to make sure Birds stayed away - so my Dad made a sign - cute huh?

We landed in Boston at 7:50am and as soon as the girls saw my Parents they ran into their arms - it was one of those airport scenes that give you goosebumps - so cute. We had great weather all week, had a great time catching up with friends, and the girls had some quality time with my Parents.  My 15th Class Reunion was Saturday, a picnic midday so we could get to know each others families and then an adults only evening at a local restaurant/bar that has a DJ. 

Bench at Bernardston Elem. School at JEHH Court & Garden - so proud of Adam and so thankful to all the folks around the area who are helping see this dream come alive. (PS: BES playground area is off the chain, 413 people, take your kids there, it is a-mazing)

One of my classmates made a good point, now that we have Facebook, the mystery of a reunion is gone - we already know about each others families, have kept up with what is going on in each others lives...for the most part, but all in all it was good to see the folks that showed up.  We graduated with a class of 53 and 17 classmates came, with 17 children, so it was nice to see people I knew as classmates, become parents.  It was strange, I drove the girls through my high school campus on the way to our reunion picnic, and its just sad.  It doesn't look a thing like the school I spent 6 years at, I loved high school, I know a lot of people didn't, but I really did, and now going back, it doesn't even look like my school.

Pioneer Valley Regional...we didn't have cool flags when I was there.

Silly Girl...
I always feel like the time at home is rushed, probably because I haven't been home in 2 years, and trying to fit everything into a few days is just tough. I want to spend quality time with everyone, but it just never works out as I plan. 

Susan, Robin, "B" & Olivia ("B" was my second Mom growing up, she took care of me when my Mom went back to work until I went to high school)

"B" and Olivia - great photo!!

I am hopeful that over the next year or two some of my friends from home will be able to vacation down here and we can spend time together away from the good ol' 413.  I am always so torn at home, so many people to see, things I want the girls to see and do.

Avery having a picnic with YaYa & Olivia 

Olivia & YaYa

My Mom did a great job with the girls though, she let them play at home, she had the basement set up as an art studio for them and the girls painted until the cows came home.  She took them to the library and they got to pick out some books, she took them to the Nursery School to play, they had a great time.

Olivia with two of my favorite people on the face of this Earth - Pattie Jo & Bill.

There is just something great about waking up in your own room, the room I grew up in. Brad was in a ton of pain, and we didn't sleep all that great, but with the girls sleeping in my Mom's room we were able to sleep in a bit, which was a nice treat (Thanks Mom!!!). 

At Logan, waiting to board our plane back to RIC

I always look forward to trips back to the 413, and one of these summers we are going to vacation on the Cape, and I am going to rent a house big enough for all the 413 crew to join in.

Monkey & Lambie all strapped in for a safe flight home

Five on Friday: Fall Finds

The Lands End catalog arrived yesterday and I am a HUGE Lands End fan, some might think Lands End is a bit dorky, but I happen to think its a perfect blend of classic, preppy and fresh. Not to mention it fits me well and their overstock deals are out of this world.

The new catalog is all about the 10 pieces you need for Fall, but for me, to keep with the Five on Friday Theme, I thought it would be appropriate to pick the Five I am most excited about.

1) Georgette Ruffle Dress - $90 - how cute is this beauty? The price is a bit steep for me considering dresses can only be worn every so often, but I do dig it and plan to keep my eyes on it, the price will drop eventually, right? I would likely order the redish color and throw a cardigan over it - perfect work outfit, right?

2) Milano Rib Knit Blazer - $95 - again a bit steep in the price department, and not certain this is the blazer for me, but I am fairly certain that I do want to add a blazer to my Fall wardrobe. I am thinking that I might want a camel color, but I haven't given it a ton of thought, maybe a navy would work too, but I can't imagine wearing a navy blazer with jeans? Too much matchy-matchy going on for me.

3) Stretch Slim Cords - $50 - best part of these puppies is the ankle length, I absolutely love the ankle length - I think ankle length is perfect to wear with flats, at least for me.  I have a cute pair of the mustard color already, but not in ankle length, so we shall see what colors I consider in these beauties. The midnight tulip is calling my name, which is the light purple color. Cute, huh?

4) Luxe Wool Swing Car Coat - $220 - for the last two years I have lusted after a green wool coat, and I also have loved some light blue ones I have seen, and this beauty happens to come in both - what is a girl to do? I can't possibly rationalize both colors, can I? Of course not, but they are both beautiful!!

5) Vivian Venetian Flats - $95 - Animal Print Flats - Yes Please.  I am not crazy about the top cut of these beauties, and likely won't be procuring them, but Animal Print Flats are on my list of things I am crushing on these days - so if you find a cute pair that is a bit more polished/refined than these beauties, send the link my way. And I just checked, if I ordered these now (which I wasn't planning on), they wouldn't ship until the day after Christmas - are you kidding me? Good grief!! I guess the whole "Seen in Real Simple" stamp of approval goes a long ways!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School 2012

It was 100% excitement here in the Turner House on Monday evening - Olivia couldn't wait to go to sleep, she even refused "book time" in favor of going to bed earlier - which is unheard of in this house. 

The First Day of School Fairy sprinkled our house with a few surprises for the Girls...I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought it was too precious to pass up, and I am pretty sure the girls thought it was "super cool", despite Avery telling everyone she go her new watch from the Tooth Fairy...

We picked out our clothes the night before, and Olivia came bounding into our room within seconds of her alarm going off (we set her new alarm clock for the first time, and set it for 6:45am) all dressed and ready to start the day. 
I planned out her lunches for the week on Monday, so I didn't really have to think about it all week, just assemble my plans in the morning.

I can't pack the sandwiches the night before, it just grosses me out thinking about the meat touching the bread for that long, so I put those together in the morning, but all the non-cold stuff was packed the night before. I also left her a cute lunch box note, but of course realized that she couldn't read - oh well, its the thought that counts.

And I should also note that Avery moved up a classroom as well, she is thrilled to be in Ms. Lorna's class.  The will repeat the 3 Year Old Curriculum this year since they moved her up so early last Fall, which is okay with us, we liked that she had the opportunity to move up, but for her she is now in a classroom with all new classmates, all of her friends moved up to the 4 year old classroom - it was also nice to realize that she held her own with kids a full year ahead of her in school. You go girl!! And we are also thrilled that Avery's teacher decided to give up her full time classroom and go back to being the floating aid, because that means Avery gets to spend time with Ms. Susan again this year - and we all love Ms. Susan.

Avery picked out her "Crocodile" dress and told everyone about it, and finished by asking everyone if they too liked crocodiles. Cute!

We dropped the girls at The Children's House so Olivia could get used to taking the bus from there, she will also get off the bus there in the afternoons. We watched Olivia and her friends get on the bus, that is when the tears started for me, actually just around the time I snapped this photo of her walking away from me holding Emily's hand I started to tear up...

and then when she never looked back my heart tugged a bit, until my head reminded me that as a Mom, it is a good thing that she faces days like this with courage.

Olivia was beyond excited about riding the bus to school - her favorite part of field trips from The Children's House was always the bus ride.
Just Funny...

We followed the bus to school, basically had to park at our house and then walked in with another Children's House Family, so they helped us find our way.  We met Olivia's teacher, who I just know we are going to love.  This is her last year teaching, I am feeling very blessed that we get to be a part of her last year teaching.  And I loved being able to see where Olivia will sit everyday, and where her days will be spent. After filling out paperwork and dropping off the supplies we said our goodbyes, and truth be told, they were quick and painless...

The girls had great day - I was bummed that I had to work a little later than expected and missed the celebratory trip to Beri Berry for Ice Cream, but also thought it was kinda cool that they got to do that with their Dad - I love Father-Daughter adventures - so I can imagine they do too. Olivia's favorite part of her day was "Art Class" and "Recess was cool too". We are so proud of our girls (if you couldn't already tell) and we are so thankful to all our family and friends who have checked on us and asked how the day went.

In her classroom

Monday, September 3, 2012


Coloring before we left for Graduation

We were home for about 24 hours before boarding another plane back to Boston, but those 24 hours were important ones.  Olivia graduated from The Children's House Pre-School Program, and we wouldn't have missed that milestone for the world.

Brad & His Beauties

We attempted to take some family shots before we left, but Olivia wasn't really digging it - Avery on the other hand was all about it, and we could have been there for an hour snapping shots of her beautiful mug.

Rocking a Maxi...can you believe it?

We were thankful that Brad's Parents were able to join us - they kept the girls for us while we were in Vermont for the wedding, and they brought them home on Monday.  The girls always love their time at Bina and PawPaw's house.  We realized while away that we are going to be losing the flexibility of sending the girls down to Brad's Parents - Olivia will be in real school now, and missing days just isn't an option.

Three Generations...

The Graduation took place at the church right near our house - and primarily consisted of the graduates singing songs - they were adorable.

I love watching the little ones perform - they belt it out like its going out of style - I am already looking forward to the Christmas Program.

Trying to get a photo of the girls these days is a bit tough - usually Avery is more than willing to comply, and Olivia tends to be the non-smiler, but this one captured the challenges pretty well.

Avery doing her thing...

We also learned that Olivia will be in Mrs. G's class this Fall - she is excited - two of her pre-school girlfriends will be in her class as well.  The plan is for her to take the bus to school from The Children's House and to take the bus back to The Children's House in the afternoon - so we aren't saying goodbye to TCH, but we did have to say goodbye to Ms. Leslie and that was a tough one - Olivia loves Ms. Leslie and we know Olivia is going to miss her something fierce.  We can only hope that Avery has her next Fall...this Fall Avery is moving into Ms. Lorna's classroom, and we are all thrilled about that.  Cheers to closing this chapter and the beginning of a new one.