Thursday, December 20, 2012

Acts of Kindness

In honor of the children and adults who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook tragedy we are going to join the masses who are out there doing good, and making an impact.  I love reading the acts of kindness on Facebook and I figured this is the perfect time to give back and also show the girls another lesson in humanity.  I promise to update y'all on our acts.  I've read a few, things like, delivering hot chocolate to police officers that are on duty, or delivering cookies or donuts to teachers that just make me feel good, but then there are the ones like leaving a Target Gift Card in a cart for the next person to use it, or paying for the toys people have on layaway - those give me goosebumps.  I have some amazing co-workers and friends that are spreading the love all over the place and giving me lots of great ideas.

Act of Kindness #1 - Baked cookies for Olivia's teachers at Jacobs Road Elementary, and sent them to school with her yesterday.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

First a Goner.

This beauty lost her first tooth yesterday, by way of her father yanking it out of her sassy little mouth. She was so excited and a little embarrassed by how excited we were for her.  Losing your first tooth is a milestone in a little girls life, we did the milestone appropriate singing and dancing and that might have been a little too much for her at 7:30am.

The Tooth Fairy came through with a whopping $2.00 and she was thrilled.  I put her tooth in a little jewelry box, and the Tooth Fairy snagged the tooth (I wasn't sure if the Tooth Fairy left the tooth behind or not) and left behind $2.00.  She came running into our room this morning to tell me all about it - that excitement is contagious!

Tonight we are going to celebrate as a family with dinner together and then we will all read Olivia's new book The Berenstain Bears & The Tooth Fairy. Avery did try and yank her own tooth out this morning because she too wanted someone to bring her money, but I told her that her time would come and to keep those chompers where they belong for a few more years.

Avery is home again today, the double ear infection fever was still bothering her yesterday so hopefully she is back at school tomorrow for their Christmas Party.  And despite some protests Olivia was back at school yesterday after a few doses of her meds, that sinus infection really knocked her out.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Meet the Engel Family...

What a beautiful family!  I can imagine their smiles aren't so bright tonight.  They are mourning the loss of their beautiful little girl Olivia, age 6, whose bright future was stripped by a mad man on December 14th while she sat in her classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School. 

I've been speechless since the news broke mid-day on Friday. I haven't been able to articulate the emotions that I've been feeling over the last few days.  I go from angry, to devastated, to irrational, to terrified, to thankful, to guilty, to ashamed, to painfully sorry, the emotions are raw and never ending.

I fussed at our Olivia yesterday morning, sent her to her room and then broke into tears.  It feels so wrong to punish the beauties when I know the Engel family would give anything to have their precious Olivia back, yet reading about her and the amazing little girl she was, reminds me that I have work to do as a parent, along with providing endless love and support, I still have to help her along her way to growing into a beautiful, kind and compassionate young woman.


Olivia's family shared the following words about her via the Family Facebook Page.
Olivia Rose Engel loved school and she always did very well in math and reading. She was insightful for her age and had a great sense of humor. She laughed a lot and always lit up a room including the people around her. She was very creative and was always drawing and designing things. She was a tennis player and took art ...classes. She loved swimming and her ballet and hip-hop dance lessons. Olivia was involved with her Daisy Girl Scouts, enjoyed playing soccer and expressed passion in musical theater. She was a great big sister who was always very patient with her 3 year old brother, Brayden. Her favorite colors were purple and pink. Her favorite stuffed animal was a lamb. She was involved in her parish's CCD program and was learning her Rosary. Olivia always lead Grace at the dinner table each night. She was a grateful child who was always appreciative and never greedy. Her father said she was a 6 year old who had a lot to look forward to.
The horrific events of Friday stole the lives of far too many little humans, just starting off, ready to change the world and I can't imagine the pain and loss the town of Newtown is experiencing right now.  When I read the victims list my breath caught at the name Olivia, age 6.  And then I saw another list that gave the victims birth dates, and I yelled out loud...Olivia Engel and our Olivia share a birthday.   And then after reading more about her above, I am struck by how similar they were, many of the same interests, both with 3 year old siblings as well, and it just leaves me with a huge painful weight around my heart.
I can't bring their little girl back, I can't make their family whole again,  but I can be the best parent to my beauties.  I can continue to show them love, support, protect them when possible, and raise them to be kind, generous, compassionate souls who when other people read about them, they smile and wish they could give their parents a high-five for a job well done.  My heart is heavy for the families who lost a loved one and my prayers are going up to all of those impacted by this unspeakable event. 
If you would like to donate to the family, or follow their FB page, you can do so HERE.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Santa sans Tears

Leading the charge...the oldest beauty!

Mark it down, it happened in 2012, our first official Santa visit without tears, which officially logs it as a success in my book. 

As close as she was willing to get, but she didn't throw a fit!!

As I mentioned a few days ago we took the girls to my Parents Neighborhood Party, the girls go to sit on Santa's lap, talk to him and he also read them a story, which was a pretty classy addition to the evening. 

Avery's Craftiness on Display

The girls also loved the craft-time and goodie bag filled with cookies (Mommy liked the goodie bags too!).

Olivia showing off the finished product

Olivia had it all planned out, she knew EXACTLY what she wanted to ask Santa for, and her strategy was genius.  She planned to ask Santa for the two things Mommy and Daddy said she shouldn't be putting on her list when she is 5 years old...high-heels and a make-up set.  So now what do we do?  Have Santa let her down?  Give her the speech that Santa supports Mommy & Daddies wishes and he won't give you things that he knows Mommy and Daddy don't approve of? I think I am going to attempt that route, because you bet your bottom dollar I won't be procuring high-heels for this little lass for quite some time! And make-up...lip gloss maybe!

Tori & Jennie: Christmas Stars

My two gals from the original Beverly Hills 90210 are staring in Christmas Movies this year and I had the pleasure of catching both of them in the last 15 hours.

Last night the girls and I watched Mistle-Tones, staring Tori Spelling - and according to Avery "That girl is NOT NICE" - she played a rather rude and mean character and Avery was not a fan, which I found to be a good thing, I would hate for her to align with the meanies. The movie was a bit "old" for the girls, but we were all feeling under the weather and it kept us entertained for 2 hours. It was a Christmas Musical on ABC Family.

And then this morning, since Olivia is home sick and I am working from home, we watched A Christmas Wedding Tail, staring Jennie Garth.  We have it on DVD, but its going to be on The Hallmark Channel on Tuesday December 18th.  It was so-so, not great. But I do love Jennie Garth.

Olivia is sniffing her little face off, didn't sleep well last night with a super high fever, and is coughing a bit.  I am hoping she rests a bit this afternoon and is feeling better!  We really don't want her to miss anymore school!

What I am Pinning...

Food, Food and lots of Food...this time of year I just drool while strolling through the pages of Pinterest. I can't imagine having the time to bake or cook like I would love to, but I am trying to pick out a few new recipes to try out.  Depending on what our Christmas Meal turns out to be, these potatoes might make the menu.

I am also crushing on Holiday Crafts and Decorations...some people are crafty, aren't they? Great day these gals have talent.

I am dreaming of the good ol' Spring Spray Painting Days and all the things I would like to whip up and add to our home decor

And of course Printables, I am just a sucker for Printables, they can spruce up a boring frame in two shakes of a lambs tail and you can trade them in and out by Holiday, so its a simple little addition.

I am still thinking about giving the Yarn Wreath a shot myself, and not dishing out money to a lovely Etsy seller. I might just give it a shot AFTER the holidays, maybe while on winter break?

And more food...

And hold onto your socks...yummy goodness at its finest.

Buckeye Bark...could these replace PB Balls? No Way Jose!

Happy Pinning!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Short Skirts & Plain Clothes Santa

Avery showing a little too much leg...

We made a quick trip to Stony Point to exchange a few things, had a very early dinner at Panera, and wanted to get a photo of the girls in front of the huge Christmas Tree, but Mother Nature had other plans, it started pouring the second we came out of Panera so the photo didn't happen.

Since we were going to be seeing Santa for the first time this year at the Amberleigh Neighborhood Christmas Party (and maybe only time this season), I thought I should dress the girls up, but that was a bit of a challenge considering I hadn't procured any special Christmas outfits.  I didn't let that stop me, I brought out their 2010 dresses, threw some leggings under Olivia's and attempted to do the same with Avery, but she wasn't having any part of it, she wanted to wear tights and be done with it.  So I covered her with Olivia's super-cute red trench coat and hoped that we wouldn't be mooning the entire world on our trek around Stony Point.

I have some photos of the girls visit with Santa this evening, but those are on the non-iPhone camera, and that download isn't happening tonight!

Also, if you recall my post about Plain Clothes Santa from about a month ago.  We were assigned two boys and I finished shopping for them this weekend. Their wish lists weren't super detailed, but I managed to get them two shirts each (more like pullover sweaters/jackets), a large package of puma socks each, a CD for one of them with a Target gift card, and a GameStop gift card for the other one considering he wanted PS2 or Wii games, nearly impossible for a gal like me to shop for video games for a complete strange, I don't even know what is cool, and I clearly don't know what he already has.

I hope these boys have a brighter Christmas because of Plain Clothes Santa and everything they do to help those in need. It feels good to give back, and we hope that the girls pick up some of the giving spirit.  We are noticing a lot of interest in receiving, but want to ensure they understand how important giving is.

Hung by the...

Stairs with care...that is how the story goes, right? We usually hang the stockings on a stocking tree, but this year I mixed it up a bit and hung them on the stairs.  Christmas Time is just about the only time of year that I really, really wish we had selected to have a fire place put in our house.  I hate not being able to hang the stockings by the fire, and its confusing to try and explain to the girls how Santa comes in and out.

And while we are on the topic of stockings, it irks me that Avery's is red and doesn't match - the ONLY year that PBK went red on the jumbo stockings is the year I needed one for Avery.  I am seriously considering ordering her a new one, and if I do, I might seriously consider ordering a normal size, these jumbo stockings are LARGE, and of course if I make that change for Avery, I will too have to make it for Olivia, maybe I will hit the after Christmas sales at PBK.

Side Note: how lovely is that air return, good grief!

Greene & Red

Avery at her Christmas Program

Brad and I had planned a quick two night trip away several months ago, but it snuck up on us after just having a quick night away about a month ago.  It was great to get away, to a quiet town in no-where Virginia, just a quick 25-30 minute drive to Charlottesville, which was convenient considering we had some Christmas Shopping to finish up.  We bought a Living Social Deal for the Greene Mountain Inn and spent two quiet nights there.

Downtown Gordonsville, Virginia - beautiful, tons of Christmas Spirit

We had originally planned to spend our time at the many wineries in the area - but the stomach bug was still hanging around and I wasn't feeling up to it, so after leaving Richmond late on Thursday Night (Avery's Christmas Program at The Children's House kept us around until about 8pm), we arrived at Greene Mountain Inn, in Stanardsville, Virginia around 10pm, made our way up to our room and I was out like a light in a cool 10 minutes.

We were lazy on Friday morning, ate a less than stellar breakfast, frozen our buns off (void of heat at the Inn), and finally headed towards Charlottesville around 11:30am. We had a quick, casual lunch and then hit Toys R Us.  It was fun to shop for the girls together.  We rarely have an opportunity to just take our time and walk through the stores, looking around and talking about what the girls would like. While it wasn't the wineries, it was nice and relaxing.

After walking around Barracks Road while Brad was on a conference call, we made our way to a new movie theater and saw Red Dawn. (After stopping at Trader Joes for some Candy Cane Joe-Joe's & Toffee) Brad was dying to see it, and while I wanted to see Playing for Keeps, I decided it was my time to win Wife of the Month and I took one for the team.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it.  I even got goosebumps a few times! We then went to dinner at The Lafayette Inn in Stanardsville, it was nice and peaceful, we had the place to our self and our table was right in front of the fireplace. Brad enjoyed a few glasses of wine while I sipped on an extra bubbly ginger ale.

We had a blast just being lazy and relaxing, just being us.  I love that we still get away like this after being together for 10 years.  I hope we continue to do it, it is good for us! We were home by lunch on Saturday, the Inn was having a water problem and we couldn't shower, so we just packed up and headed home!

I should note that Avery's Christmas Program was adorable.  She had told us she was going to be The Christmas Cow, but turns out that was a big-fat lie, and she was a choir girl.  I asked her why she told us she was going to be The Cow, and her response: "I really WANTED to be the cow...they just wouldn't let me".  We laughed!  I love watching 40, three and four year olds belting out Christmas Carol after Christmas Carol, they are little rock stars, its adorable.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Shame, Shame, Shame...

I know your name, and right now, your name sounds a lot like Leigh Turner.  I've been thinking for a while now that Avery just isn't ready for bed at 7:45pm-8pm when Olivia is heading to sleep for the night, but I haven't known what to do about it.  I wanted to keep it fair, have them both go to bed at the same time and selfishly I wanted to have kid-free time start at 8pm, instead of a phased approach, like 1 kid time, and then no kid time.  But Avery is still napping at Pre-School, so the child just isn't ready for bed that early, most nights she is hanging out in her room for sometimes 75-100 minutes after I put her in there, and after hemming and hawing about it for several weeks, I thought maybe I would try a new approach.


I hate thinking about missing out on all that time with her.  I get such a small amount of time with her during the week as it is, and I was forcing her to spend all that time alone in her room, when I could have been making memories with her.  So last night, I decided when she asked if I would lay with her, I would say yes, and we snuggled and talked in her bed for quite a while. 

Olivia - 17 months old

We talked about her day, she told me stories, her eyes lit up with excitement over the smallest things and my heart jumped.  I don't get Avery alone very often, one of the challenges of having two kids, trying to prioritize one on one time with each one, and I haven't mastered it yet, one of the things I need to work on in 2013. She named every single stuffed animal in her bed, which last night was probably a cool 12. And her names just cracked me up, one was named "Lipper", another was name "Slappy". The girl is just plain funny. And I could tell that spending that time with her mattered just as much to her as it did to me, she was so happy to have Mommy Time (and of course to avoid bed). 

Olivia 10 Months Old

I need to get better about cherishing those moments, not rushing them off to bed because I need a break, but really making decisions about what their needs are.  Olivia needs to be rushed off to bed, because the child is exhausted, whereas Avery can go for another hour or so, and why shouldn't I enjoy that time with her?


When I finally left her room, she threw a small fit, which bothered me a bit, because in my mind she should have been thankful that I had given her an extra 30 minutes of Mommy Snuggle-Chat time, but that isn't how her 3 year old brain works just yet.  And when I found Brad almost asleep on our bed he just looked at me and laughed, and asked what in the world she was talking about.  He said he could hear her voice and she was just going on and on and on, and her voice was so full of excitement. He wondered if I got a word in, or if I was just talking quietly...probably mostly the former.

The Beauties

I loved my Avery time last night and I am going to make a concerted effort to seize those moments, say yes more (when I can and won't ruin them for the rest of their lives), and focus on them first, stop worrying about the laundry that needs to be folded, or the Christmas Card addresses that I just collected and need to execute should be about them, those are the things they are going to remember about me one day.  Not that I was always cleaning up (but probably that I was always fussing at them to clean up), but that I was there for them, that I spent time for them, that I enjoyed being with them.  I need to work on that, or my beauties will be remembering me fussing at them all the time.

And of course it didn't help at the St. Jude Partner-in-Hope telethon was on XM 57 this morning. I called Brad in tears after listening to parents chime into "My Wish" by Rascal Flats, and talk about what they wish for their children who are fighting a scary disease.  Some of them wished to just see their kids laugh and play, while others wished to see their kids learn to drive, graduate from high school, get married, all the things I likely take for granted every single day.  I need to stop fussing at the beauties and be thanking my lucky stars they are healthy.  Stop pointing out when Olivia's J's go in the wrong direction and high-five her for getting the other 25 letters right. I've sure got a lot to work on. But thankfully, they love me, and are the most forgiving creatures I know, so I might as well start now!

Christmas Card Photos - 2010

Lucy's Life...

Lucy has been trolling around, checking out the different modes of transportation that we have available in the Turner Household.

Day 5

Day 6

Lucy gets a lift from our local reindeer on Day 6...the girls are having fun with Lucy, and love running downstairs in the morning to see where she will watch them from.  They are starting to ask more questions about her magic, how she gets back in the house every night and what would happen if they touched her, how would she get back to Santa to get the care she needs to get her magic back...I am hoping these questions are just little minds working, not little minds working to see how they can test out the magic, etc.

Day 5 brought the girls color-me Placemats from the Target Dollar Section, and they loved them.  They opened them around 7pm last night, gave up TV time and colored until it was time to read Llama Llama Holiday Drama (one of my favorites).  We even talked about Llama Llama Holiday Drama after we were done reading it, the message is a simple but good one.

Avery has her school Christmas Program tonight, we can't wait to see her belt out the tunes.  She practices in her bed every single night! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Southern-er: Window Wreaths

When I first moved to Richmond (The South), I couldn't understand why everyone put wreaths on their windows, I thought it was overkill and I think I probably spent a few years bashing the crazy ladies that made their husbands put those things up (Because aren't husbands in charge of outside decorations in every ones house? No? Not really here either, but I try and put him in charge)

But over the last few years I have grown to admire those homes that sport wreaths on every single window and in fact I started to have window wreath envy, and finally at the end of last year made the decision that I too would join the window-wreath-crazy-lady-world this year and ta-da.  I made it happen, and truth be told, I did it by myself, Brad didn't have to get involved at all.  I wanted to have the wreaths hung with beautiful red ribbon from the tops of the windows, but it just wasn't going to work with our set up, so I made the best of it.

I promise to do a tutorial on how I made it happen, (too dark now to take photos) but it was easy-peasy! Command hooks and floral wire are silver bullets for Holiday Decorating!!!

Today was Day 4 (Days of Christmas) and the beauties enjoyed two "Dumb Dumb" lollipops, and while Avery was hankering for a present, Olivia seemed okay with it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Biscuit, Ollie & Lucy

Day 3 brought the girls "Biscuits Christmas Eve" book - they opened it just before bed, so we didn't get a chance to read it as a family (Mondays are crazy with Olivia's Gymnastics class), but we plan to read it tonight, but they both had a chance to flip through it in their beds. It was a hit since it has flaps to open!

My Mom is in on the Elf Spirit, she moves Ollie every single day, EVEN if the girls won't be at her house, but last night Avery wanted to see Ollie, so my Dad took a photo of Ollie and sent it out way.  My Mom has always gotten into the Christmas Spirit, but now that she has young ones around again she is even more into it. Cute, right?

Lucy is brave, testing the waters about being within reach and goodness, today she is even taunting Riley with being on the floor. We are getting more creative, but I just don't know if I will get to the spot where we are making rice snow angels (Haha, Molly!), I just can't imagine cleaning it all up!

Oh and I was blessed with a small bout of the Stomach Bug - those beauties are the best germ smugglers, but this guy kept me company all day, and boy oh boy, does he make a great "sick day" partner.  I worked almost the entire day from my bed, but did end up taking a quick nap this afternoon to prepare for my evening with the beauties. And how funny does Lambie look all curled up with him? And that just happened, I didn't place Lambie there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Spirit

The holiday spirit is in full swing in the Turner Household, and the holiday spirit train has a ton of momentum, no stopping us now...

I took a risk and Lucy played down at "I can reach out and touch her" level and she had a little circle time with her friends. The girls thought it was hilarious, and they kept wanting to add more friends to the party, which gave me heart palpitations, I was terrified Lucy would tip over.

Day 2 of our 24 Days of Christmas Countdown landed the beauties two Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments. Of course they wanted to put them in their room and play with them, they didn't understand that they were special and meant to be on the tree and used for years and years.  I explained that when they get older they will be putting them on their trees when they have little beauties and gents running around.  Olivia's response was: "I am not going to have any kids", and Avery said "I will, I am going to have 1, a girl and she will be my sister" I tend to think shes a bit confused.

Here is the tree on the second floor landing area, this is the view from our bed. I love having this tree upstairs, it makes me so happy and I cringe every night when Brad unplugs it, I would leave it on all night if I could. I would leave it up all year long, I just love it.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

24 Days of Christmas...Begins

I started this tradition when Olivia was born, but it just started taking off last year, they just started to get the hang of it, and I can already tell this year is going to be the best yet.  So the gist is that I use our Countdown Calendar to count down the days of December, leading up to Christmas, some days its a simple candy cane or piece of candy, some days its a special experience, like Christmas Lights Tour with Cookies and other days its a small present.  Some days the girls each get a present, and other days they share a single present (which is always interesting).  The presents are numbered for the day in which they will get to open them.  Based on what I find and put together sometimes there are several candy & IOU/Event days and some years there are only a few.  Right now the girls are so young, their presents are so inexpensive that I am able to do some days for $1.00, while others are closer to $10 a day.  So for now, while they are small and the Target Dollar Section can still deliver the goods, they will likely have more presents than candy, but I foresee many days of candy as they get older.  I just love the tradition of it.

Countdown Calendar (I know its missing a 7)

Gift Ideas:
Books - I tend to find a few new Christmas Books every single year that I want the girls to have on their bookshelves, so I snag those up and keep them toward the beginning of the month so we can enjoy them all month long. Check out B&N right after Christmas, their book selection is always super discounted!!

DVD's - great movies for us to watch as a family, either Christmas movies or just good family movies.  This year my Mom contributed a few Christmas Movies that are going to be bumped up in the numbers so we can watch one next Friday for Family Movie Night.

Ornaments - I stocked up at Hallmark last year after Christmas and snagged several for $3.00 each and of course you can get great deals at Michael's for super cheap too - this one will always be a great idea, even as they get older, so they can start to build their own ornament collection (they will leave the nest one day - sniff sniff)

Candy Cane marks the day we are on...sometimes we use an elf ornament.

Experience - this is a new one, I just started adding this one in last year.  A few ideas for this one, you write down the experience on a cute printable (found on Pinterest) and stick it in the day.  We always do Christmas Light Tour on December 23rd, with cookies, hot chocolate and Christmas Music in the car.  I may take the girls to have their nails painted this year.  I can imagine as they get older, a special mother-daughter lunch would be a good idea, the options are endless for this one.

$1.00 Target Dollar Section

Craft -  Today was December 1st, so the first day and they each opened a craft countdown calendar, one was a snowman and the other Santa, found in the Target Dollar Section (thanks for the idea Molly), and every night they will add a snowball to their craft to countdown the days until Christmas. Sometimes we just do a craft I have already purchased (Oriental Trading, remember?)

I get simply giddy over Christmas Traditions.  I have even started documenting them in a book, God forbid I kick it before the girls are grown, I don't want them to miss out on a single thing, so its a playbook for Brad. Morbid I know, but its important!

I can't wait to share more Christmas Traditions with y'all as the month goes on.