Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Hallway...Step 1

This is going to be a beauty...Brad and Brian were busy on Sunday - this is the hallway from the garage, and it is going to be fantastic, bright and beautiful when we are done. I can't wait. I am still trying to figure out what the paint color on top of the Board & Batten is going to be, I am thinking a shade of grey...

I found our inspiration on Pinterest...but our hallway is broken up by corners and a half we had some challenges, and our hallways aren't quite as big, but it will be fantastic once its finished.

You better believe I am already looking for a large "T" to put on the ledge...JoAnne Fabrics here I come!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Avery Being Avery

Avery has been super bossy lately, she crosses her arms, pouts and lays the bossiness on thick, sometimes to the point where you can't help but laugh and then she snaps and says "It is NOT funny", because remember she doesn't speak in contractions...

Tree #4 is the open foyer area, so you can see it from the road.

Over Thanksgiving Avery tried a deviled egg...which she now calls them "Egg Noggles" - we all laughed.

Then we were packing up the car, she was sitting in the drivers seat, and asked me how to "Pork the Horn"...which I am guessing meant, "Honk the Horn".

Her fits have been messy lately, and she is having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night, some nights she is still up and fussing 90 minutes after going into her bed...its exhausting to put her back into her bed 10+ times a night. But...we love her, and when she snuggles up close, you just want the world to stop and soak it all in.

Donald goes to Cali...again.

Donald at our Salinas Office...back with his friends.

Donald and I hit the road bright and early yesterday morning, we took a 6:15am flight out of Richmond, landed in the balmy 14 degree city of Minneapolis, where I had to procure Moose Socks to keep my feet warm.  Silly me wore flats on the plane and my feet were in serious pain by the time we landed in Minneapolis, I had to find socks so the 4 hour leg to San Jose wouldn't be as painful.

I joked with my work friends who were traveling with me that I wouldn't be able to find a normal pair of socks, and turns out that was a reality, there were plenty of the Moose variety to choose from, but I landed on the Chocolate Moose pair because they only set me back $6.95 instead of the cooler, more girlie $14.95 pair.

I am thankful I have great co-workers to travel with, one of which is my good gal pal Susan.  We dined on In & Out Burger on our way from San Jose to Monterey...yummo!

I am in Cali for work until Thursday night, then I will take the red eye back to Richmond, land at 9am, drive straight to the office for a 9:30am meeting that I will be late for, sporting some Yoga Pants, rocking a side pony...oh and did I mention my 9:30am meeting is with Leadership? That is going to be a doozie.  And to top it off...I am sick.  The big silver lining is that my Parents are in Richmond now, my Mom is a saint and helping us out a ton while I am gone and also, this week marks the first week Olivia will only go to After School Care 2x a week, Thanks Mom!! I know Olivia is going to cherish her time with YaYa.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black Friday Rookies

Molly and I set alarms and joined the world of Black Friday 7am, so nothing too wild and crazy, but we were still trying to get into the crazy spirit.  We ran around a few stores, despite the fact that there wasn't a crowd to beat just to take in the moment...we did however capture the one and only line we had to stand in on "film".

Line waiting for Barnes & Noble to Open

Our first stop was Michael's because I was in desperate need of potted, lit, porch trees and I just didn't want to pay an arm & a leg for them, so when I saw the $29.99 deal at Michael's starting at 7am, I was sold.  Well...lets just say, maybe I should have paid a little more, I opened the box, immediately broke out the silver metallic hammerhead spray paint, the "urn-like" pots were a strange greenish black color and needed some sprucing up, and they were already cracked a bit, and the trees are dinky, could use more lights and in general are $15 I guess I got what I paid for, it just amazes me that people would pay $69.99 for those trees, which was the original price.  I did happen to drop the huge box the second I picked it up and caused a huge commotion in the store, that was our wild and crazy moment.

Scariest Thing we saw - Owl at Michael's - Eeks!

Second stop was Old Navy - we had time to kill before B&N opened and they share a parking lot. We ended up scoring a few good deals for the girls, but really scored a few fantastic deals for ourselves, including some super duper sexy "Ho Ho Ho" jingle pants for me to sport on Christmas Morning...$8 - Boo Yeah!

Next was B&N, where we had to wait for the doors to open for a few minutes, everyone was there for a specific item, so the crowd was easy to deal with for the staff and they were super helpful and friendly - I highly recommend the B&N in Swift Creek!

Fourth Stop was Target, which was a bust - the deals we thought they were having weren't marked and we were the rookies that didn't bring the fliers, and didn't feel like asking, so we just walked out.

Fifth Stop was Walmart where we scored some $4 Barbie Movies - the girls love these things! And I snagged a Gingerbread House kit so I didn't forget!  At this point, it was time for some fuel so we sauntered over to Chick-Fil-A for some Breakfast Chicken & Sweet Tea. After we finished eating we joined our lady friends Lauren & Amy who were dining at IHOP (they share a parking lot) we chatted it up and bonded over our Black Friday Adventure.

I can't say we scored any amazing deals, but we had a lot of fun, and the experience was worth it, I am hoping that we make it an annual tradition, and I am guessing when the girls get older and their toys cost more than $26.99 each, we will need to do it to save a few clams, but we had a great time and it was super easy, no lines, no crowds and lots of laughs!

Oh Lucy...

Lucy perched WAY UP little hands can't touch her (Day 1)

She has arrived, our new elf friend, Lucy, and I missed the girls reaction, Molly and I decided to "brave the Black Friday crowds" with the crazies and left at 7am, missing all three girls reactions to the arrivals. Holly, Campbell's Elf arrived on the same day, which was very convenient for all parties involved.  I had however prepared the girls for a phased deployment, I had told them some kids of my co-workers already had their elves I was prepared.

I got everything all ready - set out the book, placed Lucy and put together the letter for the girls, from Santa of course.  The letter explains the Elf concept again and reminds them that they can't touch Lucy, she is a special magic "Naughty-Nice Reporter" and she works for Santa.

I found the letter idea on Pinterest and just personalized it for the girls, turned the "he" into a "she" and added a few extra pointers about being good! Had to take the opportunity to push my agenda! You can find it here!

Lucy on Day 2

Like I've mentioned a few other times - we need to keep Lucy out of arms reach, we can't tempt these beauties just yet, their restraint is dismal.

Brad said that Olivia had a great reaction, her facial expressions were priceless and she was beyond excited to see that Lucy had arrived.  He then mentioned that it took Avery a solid 10 minutes to pick up on what was going on and then she got it - oh boy! I wish I would have been there to witness it, but apparently they missed the book and the note too, so Brad read them the note after I got home.  At least I got to see Olivia's reaction this morning - too cute.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Five on Friday: Holiday Cards

I am kinda in love with Holiday Cards - I love shopping for them, I love scouring the world wide web in search of the perfect card, and I love getting them in the mail from our family and friends around the country, I just love them. I even love the assembly process of stuffing the envelopes, putting the return address label on (I love shopping for those too), the stamp and this year, we beefed it up a bit with a fancy sticker on the back, the girls are all about stickers, and if you can add one, why the heck wouldn't ya?

There are tons of fabulous card vendors out there.  This year I ended up scoring a Groupon Deal for Cards from Zazzle.  Zazzle had some amazing designs, some of which were applicable to the Groupon deal, so I was able to find one I liked and it turned out well, and for the price, I was thrilled.  I ended up needing to order about 30 extras, and didn't feel like paying the extra money for the non-Groupon prices, so I ended up ordering a different design from Costco - so this year marks the first year we will be sending out two different designs.

My favorite vendors are generally the ones that are a small fortune, but I am thrilled when I can find a good deal. I am loving the card stock papers this year vs. the photo paper ones, but I can't pass up the $14.99 deal from Costco.  50 cards for $14.99 - that is a steal.

I am drawn to a diverse selection, but when it boils down to it, I am a "Happy Holidays" or "All things Merry" type of girl, I don't end up selecting the Merry Christmas versions - and believe me, we celebrate Christmas, but I have several friends that do not, and for us, these cards are about the Holidays in general, so I like to keep it open ended...

Here are some of my favorite vendors: - but I have to admit, the user interface wasn't very friendly, I had to employ Brad's help because I was about to lose my mind. The Groupon deal didn't allow me to customize the back, but one feature I like about Zazzle is that you can customize the backs - it would have been neat to share some family memories on the back of our card. - amazing value, perfect when you have to buy 150 cards like we do.  Please Note: Costco now partners with TinyPrints and offers a 20% discount - HOLLA.

TinyPrints (I love a single photo look with design on top - classy!) - I haven't met a TinyPrints card that I haven't loved. I just adore TinyPrints but the prices, I don't adore those so much! I love that TinyPrints sends a catalog in the mail too, I love being able to look at a sampling of their cards. And PS: all the models and photos are simply perfect! - We got a catalog in the mail from Shutterfly this year, and while I haven't used them in the past, I saw some great designs. - there are so many talented designers out there who are making a living with small businesses out of their home, the prices are reasonable and then you can print them on your own, at either Costco or Walmart.  We've gone this route several times before, and generally find an Etsy shop to create our Birthday Invitations too, I highly recommend spending the time time to search, the options are endless, and if you have something in mind, or find something on another site, but don't want to pay $1.39 per card, maybe you can find a designer to make it for you, and then you can print at Costco for $14.99.  Some designers only charge $8-12 per design - peanuts in the grand scheme of things - and I love supporting the gals who do this work.

Bonus: - y'all know about my love for Erin Condren - enough said.

I have also loved using Pinterest for some Card ideas as well - people post their cards, and you can pin them for inspiration.  I can't believe I've gone two whole years without our monogram on our card, but I've done it.  Pinterest is also great for holiday photo inspirations as well, if I had a little baby, I would totally wrap them up in Christmas Lights, adorable!

Here are some ideas I've pinned on Pinterest.

How precious is this photo idea?

What a great idea when the kiddos get a little bigger?

And I couldn't forget an idea to bring Riley into the mix

I love the idea of using the Chalkboard to bring in the holiday or the year, but funny side note, this photo is from one my friend's blogs - I got the idea from this photo that I thought a cute, funny photo would be a nice addition to the card this year, and we almost captured a really funny one of us trying to strangle the girls, but it didn't work out quite how I thought it would, there is always next year! HA!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all

We are knee deep in (and by we, I mean my saint of a MIL) Thanksgiving Dinner prep, I am waiting to take a shower and I can't find Brad anywhere..Happy Thanksgiving! We hope y'all take a few minutes to reflect on what you are thankful for today (and everyday) and make an effort to remember those thankfuls all year round!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Yarn Christmas Wreaths

I haven't bought the bullet and procured one of these beauties just yet, but I am loving these yarn wreaths.  I would love one for every single season. I am also wondering if I could make one of these? I am thinking I could easily accomplish the yam piece, its the felt flower decoration stuff that makes me a bit nervous.

I am debating whether I want red & white, or whether I want to introduce a grey scheme, which is what I am leaning towards for the walls in our open foyer areas.

Or maybe even a splash of green?

I am a little perplexed by the diverse price points, but I am guessing there has to be something to it, right?  Think I should buy one, or think I should attempt to make one? Maybe I can procure the felt flowers?

Impending Arrival

On our way to Bassett last night we talked a bit about the impending arrival our Elf.  I was telling the girls that some of my friends at work already have elves living in their houses, that Santa has started to deploy the elves and I am wondering when we are going to be assigned our Elf.  The girls are excited and can't wait to find out if we are getting the same Elf as last year (Cameron) or whether Cameron has graduated to a "3 Kid Family" and that we will get a new Elf that was recently promoted from an "Only Child Family".  Somehow I came up with the idea that we might be getting a new Elf assigned to us this year, mostly because I had my friend Kristen snag us a skirt last year and I am dying to try it out this year, which means our Elf is going to be a girl...

So we brainstormed names IF Santa sends us a new Elf...And this is what we came up with:

Sloppy get the picture

Shea Shea
(insert the rest of the girls in Avery's class here)
And Brad's and I's favorite...LUCY.  We are hoping we land on Lucy...keep your fingers crossed for us! We should know on Friday Morning, because I have a feeling Santa is going to deploy our newly assigned Elf on Thursday Night!

Side Note: I am impressed and annoyed (all at the same time) at the Mom's that go gang busters every single night with the Elf, the ones that have the Elf positioned in Powered Sugar making Snow Angels deserve a medal (super cute), but holy smokes, what a mess.  The Elf alone stresses me out - having to remember to move it every single night - goodness me! I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night wondering if I have moved said Elf and I go flying down the stairs, find the Elf a new perch and drag myself back to bed...the ideas are adorable and inspiring, but holy smokes, talk about making this Mom feel inadequate.

All things thankful

I loved that we started our "thankfuls" before November 1st this year, but holy smokes, I have really fallen down on the job, I haven't shared our thankfuls with y'all at all...and that is just unacceptable. For the record, we have all our thankfuls documented on notebook paper - I am going to search for the perfect journal and copy them in so we can bring it out every year and fill it up year after year.

Avery generally is thankful for the here and now, if she is eating mashed potatoes, she is thankful for mashed potatoes - if she is playing with her toys, she is thankful for her toys - if she is fighting or fussing at her sister, she is thankful for everything EXCEPT her sister.

Olivia is the thoughtful, bum kissing thankful child.  She is always thankful for "her sweet Mommy" or thankful that she has a Mommy and Daddy to take care of her.  She is thankful for her house and her home, for heat when others don't have any, etc.

Brad is thankful for his right to bare arms, thankful for his right to vote, for bourbon and bikes and on nights he is home, after being gone for a few days, he is generally thankful for his family.

I am a diverse thanker - I am thankful for all dimensions of my life.  I am thankful for parents who are generous and thoughtful, who raised me with values that have served me well.  I am thankful for a husband who loves me when I burst into tears after buying milk, only to realize we already had 7 half gallons at home and likely wouldn't need milk until 2013.  I am thankful for a job that gives me the flexibility to be a working Mom, to flex those adult muscles I need to flex so much, but also flexible enough to skip out a few hours early to lead the Turkey Pokey with 21 other Kinders. I am thankful for those that serve and protect, for those that keep us safe.  I am thankful for my friends and all of our great memories.  I am thankful for my health and the health of those I love and cherish.

Not just on Thanksgiving, or this time of year, but always, we should always be thankful for what we have, steer our focus to all the riches we have in our lives, and forget about those we want for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Naughty & Nice

These shirts are adorable, aren't they? And it is no secret which beauty would wear which shirt? HA!.

You can find them on Etsy, here - they are a little pricey at $52 clams, but they are cute, huh?

Obsession: Groop Dealz

Not sure how many of you are familiar with GroopDealz, it is a flash sale website that is a mix of handmade jewelry, fashion accessories, kids stuff, personalized gifts, like note cards, etc and just a whole slew of things I covet.  And the best thing about it....the PRICES are uber reasonable.  I am snagging necklace after necklace for $9 clams each - and cute little clutches for $7.99, get out of town!

It is perfect for gifts, all the personalized options are perfect for gift giving.  Today there are some good deals, not the best I've seen, but some good ones, and since I decided to blog about it today, I figured I would share some of my current favorites:

Dry Erase Board - perfect for the busy Mom - or even a young kiddo who is learning to write - this one is $15.99, originally priced at $26.99.  This isn't the best deal I've seen on the board, but this is a great price for this item.

Triad Necklace - this beauty is $9.99 - and this is the norm, cute modern, colorful necklaces for very reasonable prices, so reasonable it makes sense to snag up one style in a few colors.

Phone Wallet - for only $14.99, originally priced at $34.99 - this one is adorable and just what I need for traveling. I hate carrying my honker of a purse along with my work bag, if i could just throw this fashion/functional gem into my work bag, we would be cooking with gas.

Bubble Necklace - these are $9.99 each - and truth be told, I scooped up a few colors for presents! I love throwing on a colorful necklace like this with a simple black or white top, jeans, etc and ta-da, you have jazzed up a rather boring outfit and now you look like a trend setter (okay, maybe I wouldn't go that far - but you are picking up what I am laying down, right?)

I encourage you to check it out, and no, they aren't paying me to tell you this, I just love when people share their finds with me, and I can actually figure out where they've purchased them!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lazy Sunday & Oriental Trading

While Brad is taking a concealed weapons class (don't ask!) the beauties and I are being lazy beauties, lounging in our jammies, watching Christmas Movies, playing dolls and waiting until the clock strikes 11:30am so we can break into the yummie cookies we have leftover from Brad's Birthday Bash last night.

So far we've watched Santa Paws (thanks Amy & Ellie) and now "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" is on.  I am shopping online, picking up a few goodies for the beauties, doing some shopping for those in need (not the beauties, silly, for those that are really in need) and making lists. To-Do lists, to Pack lists, to Cook lists, to Buy lists, to Wrap know, all the normal "to" lists.

I have a list making problem, I just can't stop.  I even write things on the list that I've already done, JUST so I can cross it off - problem? Yes? I agree!

The girls are working on some sticker scene Christmas crafts and I have to admit, I can't wait for the Oriental Trading box to arrive, a whole new batch of Christmas Crafts to entertain the beauties for hours on end makes me happy! The quantities at Oriental Trading can be a little overwhelming, but the girls have really enjoyed all the crafts we bought last year and we are almost out of some of them, and with extras, it gives me the ability to bring out the Christmas Crafts in July to spice things up a bit.  If your kiddos love crafts, I highly recommend Oriental Trading around the holidays. Some of the crafts are perfect to use as gift toppers too - a homemade touch from the beauties, classy eh? I wish I could share some of my favorites in images, but I can't seem to make it work, so I will just list them out:

Mouse Candy Cane Craft - $9.25 for 24 kits

Candy Striped Paper Chains - $4.99 for 500 pieces - well worth it!

Jumbo Foam Wreath - $6.00 for 24

Christmas Bag of Buttons - $6.50 for 800 pieces - this is perfect for several different crafts and have come in handy numerous times during school art projects.

Christmas Pom-Poms - $2.25 for 50 Pieces - again, perfect for holiday crafts and school projects.

And I ordered a few sticker scenes as well - the girls love those, and they are perfect for rainy days. Check it out, they are running a great sale right now with free shipping!!

Wish Lists 2012

While Hurricane Sandy came through we whipped up our lists to good ol' Saint Nick. And I thought I would share with the Blogging World what the girls are crushing on this holiday season.  I am always looking for new and clever ideas for presents for the beauties, and hearing what other girls want is helpful in that quest, so I thought I would share as well.  I am badly wishing the Goldie Blox were available already, but they won't be ready until February 2013 - I am dying for the girls to get their hands on Goldie Blox.  I got teary eyed watching the inventor's inspirational video, her attempt to get enough funding to start mass producing these gems, and I can't wait to support her.

I just placed the girls order today and it will ship in April - which tells me that Goldie Blox is going to be a huge success, she already has enough orders that she is backed up two months - that is fantastic.

Anyways, I digress, back to the girls wish lists.

Avery's List for 2012 (3.5 Years Old)
  • "A new special Barbie"
  • Doc McStuffins Time For Your Check Up Doll
  • Finger Paints
  • Doc McStuffins DVD
  • Barbie: Princess & the Popstar DVD
  • Dream Lites - Unicorn
Olivia's List for 2012 (5 Years Old)
  • Bell for bike
  • Pipe Cleaners & Art Supplies
  • Cinderella Vanity Set from Costco
  • Cash Register
  • Lalaloopsy Doll (how ugly are these things - good grief)
  • Dream Lites - Butterfly
I cringe at the thought of a Dream Lite making its way into our house, but they really are crushing on them, so I am guessing I will have to take one for the team, cave in and buy two of those buggers.  If anyone has seen a cool cash register out there, please let me know, there are a lot of junkie ones, but I would like to get one that she can grow with a bit, ideally that may help with math skills as well - would love your thoughts.

If you have any brilliant ideas for other presents for these two, please let me know! I have to admit, I am fairly impressed we have the lists under 10 items each, I recall the days when I would fill up an entire sheet of lined paper, man was I a greedy little monster!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Plain Clothes Santas

My friend Kaitlyn gave me a great idea, given the Angel Tree's aren't going to be available at work, and we are still very passionate about helping two little people this holiday season, Kaitlyn introduced me to Plain Clothes Santas - it is simple and easy - you go to the website here, fill out a super short volunteer form and you are matched with the number of gift recipients that you self select.  It could be a little boy or girl, a teenager or even a single Mom, whose wish lists contains things like: diapers, baby wipes and warm baby clothes. 

I know the holidays aren't all about having a tree full of presents on Christmas Morning, but it saddens me to think that some families wake up to nothing on Christmas Morning.  How do those parents explain that Santa forgot them, or missed their house?  Especially if the kiddos have been good, if they have been bad the answer is simple (kidding!).  I love teaching the girls about giving.  I love taking them shopping with me while we buy presents for other people, its my way of leading by example, showing them the right way to live our values. Some people give through their church, some through their schools, and while we have done all of the above before, its nice to find a new organization to support who is out there doing great things for people who need a little cheer this Holiday Season.

FAQ's, but just the A's.

All forms need to be submitted by November 18th - so if you want to get in on the good feeling of giving - fill out your forms now!

There is no minimum or maximum to spend, the average person buys 2-3 gifts per person and spends about $50.

All gifts must be wrapped and mailed to the Main Street Counseling Center - it isn't all about charity, its about showing another person that you care, and wrapping the presents is a personal touch that conveys that.

All Presents need to be mailed between December 10-December 14th - but not before those dates.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Five on Friday: Target & Holiday Decor

I was running through Target the other night looking for a new pillow, (long story, but this crick in my neck just isn't going away and I thought it would be worth trying a new pillow out, no luck yet, lets hope it just takes some time to work its way out) and I came across the glorious Holiday Decor section that I look forward to every year...I didn't get to tour the entire area because I was running late, but I managed to snap a few photos on my way through the store.

1) Holiday Pillow #1 - how cute is this and it would look rather festive on my white slouchy slip covered couch.

2) Fair Isle Deer Pillow $24.99 - this one would make a killer sweater option too, not that the first one wouldn't as well, but this one is extra festive with the addition of the reindeer's. I am thinking this one would look nice on my couch before Christmas time (hint, hint, MOM).

3) Plate - Set of 4 = $13.99 - this one would be a cute, cheap, festive addition to our plate collection.  We have Holiday Dinnerwear, and the girls have tons of kiddie plates, but this one would be more appropriate for the causal Pizza Nights when Adults don't want to eat on Paper Plates.

4) Modern Placemat - Set of 4 = $15.99 -  this one is a little funky, not really in line with the rest of my decor taste, and believe you me, my holiday decor taste is all over the place, so if this is out of line, it is saying something....with all of that said, it still caught my eye and I thought it was cute.

5) Cable Knit Wall Star -$19.99 -  this one is likely going to make its way into our home this holiday season, I've put it in my cart two times, once it even made it to the check out counter and then I saw it was a little ripped and I didn't have time to take it back to get another one, so I just left it at the counter. I love it, and I plan to hang it on the mirror/window thingy that is on the wall near the kitchen/living area.  It also comes in a white/cream color.

Do yourself a favor, get your tush to Target and check out their Holiday Decor section, while I can admit other years they've knocked my socks off, this year my socks are still on, but I am still crushing on some of these items - in a big way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Happy Birthday My Love

35 years ago my love came into the world, I can't imagine my days without him, and I am beyond thankful that our girls have him for their Daddy.  Our world is a better place because of him!

Happiest Birthday Wishes to my partner in this crazy life!! I can't imagine going through the craziness without you!! Cheers to you, your health and many more years of this life together.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kind Hearts

The girls are really getting into the helping and giving spirit.  My dear friend and neighbor Amy is a First Grade Teacher here in Chesterfield County and she told us about this little girl named Emily Hubbel who is on a mission to help others while she is battling neuroblastoma differential.  You can read about Emily on her website and blog.  The girls wanted to help, and so help we did.  Emily wants other little boys and girls to have something to smile about while they are getting treatments or having their blood taken, so she is on a mission to collect fun first aid bandages.  Impressive isn't it? This little girls is fighting for her life and she is worried about other little boys and girls? Her Momma must be so very proud of her!!

And we are pretty sure that Brad is going to pony up some serious supplies to help out Emily's First Annual Band Aid Drive. 

Hey NY & NJ

"We have piggie banks and we aren't afraid to empty them...we want to help"

We've been telling the girls about all the people in NY & NJ who don't have roofs over their heads, who don't have heat or power, and who would give anything for a warm meal and we suggested that we do something to help and so the girls offered up their piggie banks.  So we counted out some money and made a donation through the Captial One No Hassle Giving Site to the Red Cross.  I wish that we could have put together some supplies and sent them to NY & NJ, they would have gone further, but at least we are doing something.  Like my friend Kear reminded me, we can't do everything, but everyone can do something.

We are proud of our beauties, we are proud of their kind hearts and their generous spirits!

We FOUND her

Monkey has been missing for well over a week - and we have been lost without her. Monkey & Lambie go together like peas and carrots and for the last week Lambie has been trying to keep this beauty happy on his own, while Monkey was MIA. That was a tough job for Lambie!

This is the second time Monkey has been MIA, the last time we scoured the house and on the morning of the Yard Sale Avery came outside and said she had found Monkey, and that Monkey had been hiding under our bed.  She was telling us a fiddle (our version of a fib) because when she took me upstairs to show me where she found Monkey, Lambie was with Monkey and they were hanging out from under our bed, a place we had clearly looked multiple times, so it lead us to the conclusion that Avery planted Monkey there.  We believe a similar situation happened this time around because Monkey was found by Avery in Olivia's toy chest, a place we looked no less than 5 times without success. 

I was worried sick about Monkey.  I scoured the World Wide Web for a replacement, only to find that the Pink Ty Monkey is a tough thing to find and therefore is tres expensive.  They were going for $80+ on eBay.  My gal pal Kear suggested we check Motherhood stores or Hospital Gift Shops but we didn't have any luck, so I am beyond thankful that Monkey surfaced and is back in our lives.

We are trying to keep Monkey in Avery's bed so that we don't lose Monkey again, but that is proving to be difficult, Avery totes her around wherever she goes!

MRSA...Oh My

So now Olivia's Eczema has morphed into folliculitis and a case of MRSA, the MRSA is contained on her bum so she is able to go to school per her Doctor, but she is on a topical antibiotic and an oral one, lets hope those kick this MRSA infection in the rear (pun intended), because this poor beauty of mine is having a tough time sitting without pain. 

We are hoping that once we get through this dose of meds we are on our way to a healthy girl who is pain and itch free, fingers crossed.

I am itching (another intended pun) to decorate for Christmas, I can't wait, I am chomping at the bit.  I am thinking that I will start to get stuff out next weekend, we are already planning for the Elf's arrival on Friday Night, with a North Pole Breakfast on Saturday Morning. Look for a post on this one, its a cute idea I saw on Pinterest.

Last night I whipped up a batch of Beef Burritos and Chicken 'chaladas, and while I enjoyed the burrito, and Brad chowed down on the 'chalada, the girls turned their noses up and dined on strawberries and leftover Don Pepe rice. 
This girl can really dress!!!

I took the girls to Walmart to pick up some groceries on Saturday Morning while Brad went for a ride, and for goodness sake, it took about 45 minutes longer than it should have.  I had to remove so many items from the cart, this was the first trip where their strong opinions really came out - we procured Angry Birds Cheese Nips and Phineas & Ferb Mac n Cheese...the character marketing really sucked them in.

We had beautiful weather all weekend, we got some quality time outside with the neighbors and were able to enjoy the Fall Football Festival at Olivia's school for a few hours on Saturday.  All of the girls in the hood are riding real bikes these days and Avery can't stand her balance bike, so I am thinking the balance bike is going on Craigs List and she will be getting a new bike for her Birthday in February.

I am enjoying a bank holiday while the girls are at school and Brad is working.  Riley and I are holding down the fort and I am gearing up for a few hours of wrapping presents - I love preparing for the holidays, and I love wrapping paper so I am giddy!  We have Olivia's first Parent-Teacher Conference this afternoon and I have to admit, I am a little nervous - I know the beauty makes me proud day after day, she gets a new color of the rainbow every single day, and no thinking clouds (their behavior tracking) so I shouldn't be too worried, but I just want the best for her and I want to support her the best I can, so I am anxious to hear how she is doing!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Excema - Woof

Our oldest beauty has been battling some "dry-itchy" skin for the last several months and over the last few weeks it has gotten much worse, to the point where the darling is breaking the skin, bleeding through her clothes and onto her bed sheets, it breaks my heart to see her so uncomfortable.

We've been to the Pediatrician twice now and the second visit yesterday (I missed it because my 1 hour meeting turned into a 3.5 hour meeting - and I almost missed voting too - jeesh) gave us some more direction on how to help Olivia. She is now on a steroid cream, we changed her cleanser to Cetaphil, and we changed her shampoo from J&J to Burt's Bees.  I am dreading the Wet PJ routine though - sit down for this one, it sounds like torture.  As soon as she gets out of the bath, within 2 minutes we have to apply her steroid ointment and then lube her up until she "glistens" with Cetaphil Cream, we then need to wet a tight t-shirt and pair of undies, put those on her, and then cover her with dry clothes.  She needs to sit in the Wet PJ wrap thingy for an hour and then we can remove the wet PJ's - doesn't that just sound horrible? I can't imagine she is going to dig this routing at all, and this now means that shower time will start at 6:30pm instead of after 7, just so we can get her out of the Wet PJ's before she goes to bed.  The poor darling.

We are hoping & praying that these small changes will make a big impact on her and she will be healed and feeling better in no time. If you have any ideas for us, or magic bullets, we are very open to new ideas, relief for our beauty is our top priority!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Do it...

Go out and vote...doesn't matter who you vote for, just vote. It counts and it is a right a lot of people across the globe don't have, some kill for the right, and we often take it for granted. Stand in the lines and cast your ballot.

In our house, we are a house divided.  Olivia told me to vote for Barack Obama and then she turned to Brad and told him the same, I was afraid he was going to send the poor child to her bedroom - ha!

8 Things...

I've mentioned the daily Family Minute emails I get...and yesterday the topic was 8 Things to be Thankful for, and given its "Thankful Month" in our house, I thought that I would share the message with all 4 of you(I am guessing thats the # of people who are still reading this blog considering I rarely update with anything eye catching) I will also add my own personal flavor as well.

1. Be thankful for family.

We are all where we are today because our parents or guardians raised us. Hopefully, we have taken all the positive lessons from them and are applying them to our lives. If you are married and have children, be thankful for the blessing of your family. If you are single, be thankful for your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins.

Me: I am thankful that our family is so very supportive.  They are supportive of our children and they are supportive of our marriage.  Brad surprised me with a night away, which we very badly needed, and his Parents came up to stay with the girls - we are very thankful for that.  And my Parents are so generous with their time when they are here, we are so thankful the girls are able to spend so much time with their grandparents.  I am also very thankful that my immediate family is so forgiving.  I often raise my voice (shame on me) and feel bad about it later, I carry the guilt far longer than the girls carry the hurt, they are so forgiving, its inspiring. And my darling husband, holy smokes, that man, he deserves a medal, I take most things out on him and he doesn't deserve it, but he handles it like a champ - so thankful for him.

2. Be thankful for friends.

True friends encourage us, motivate us, and push us to do better. Take time to call them and thank them for all the great things they have done. Show your gratitude by also being a great friend to others.

Me: I have always cherished my friendships but have found over the last year that I haven't been able to dedicate as much time to them as I would like, but I am hoping that the New Year will help me prioritize my friends where they belong, towards the top of my list.  I am so very thankful for the social outlet my friends give me, the support they offer and I value the amount of laughter that usually comes along with friend time - in fact, I am very much looking forward to a "hood girls night out".

3. Be thankful for a home and for nourishment.

If you have a home, be thankful you have a place to rest and relax. Hopefully your home is also a place of safety and encouragement. Truly show you are thankful for your home by supporting organizations who help those who have no homes. In addition, we should be thankful we have the opportunity to eat on a daily basis. If you have plenty, please show your thanks by helping to support agencies that care for the hungry.

ME: We are trying to share these values with the girls, trying to help them appreciate the "big things" like having a home, having power, having safe drinking water, but they are so young its hard.  While I don't want to take advantage of a sad state of affairs, like what is going on in NYC, but my Mom gave me a great idea - this is the perfect time to talk to the girls about helping others, having them donate money from their piggy banks so other little boys and girls can have a roof over their head and food to eat.

4. Be thankful for laughter.

Laughter is a gift from God which can bring great joy. Be thankful for the laughter of children, a spouse, or friends.

ME: This one goes without saying, laughing is one of my favorite things to do, I love to laugh until I cry. There is just something about personal jokes that make your sides hurt from laughing so hard.

5. Be thankful for a job.

A job is a great blessing, whether we are happy in the job we are in or not. Take the time to list out reasons you are thankful for your job. If you find this hard, don't look at your job just as a means to make money, but look at it as a way to help people.

Me: And thankfully, I actually really like my job, I am thrilled to work for a company that values work-life balance (despite the long hours this year).

6. Be thankful for the freedoms you have.

We have so many freedoms other countries do not have. It has cost some men and women time away from family, life-altering injuries, or the ultimate price – their life. Take time today to say "thank you" to someone who helped, or is helping, protect those freedoms.

Me: I am ashamed to admit it, but feel like I need to get it out there, I am not good at this, and I am not sure its my fault.  I don't know how to appreciate these freedoms when I really can't imagine living without them.  I very much appreciate them, and very much value the people who fight for our freedoms and I get goosebumps and teary just thinking about those who have lost their lives, I never miss a chance to say thank you, but I feel like I could do more to really be thankful for this one, its just hard because this is all I've know, and I don't mean that in a entitled, ungrateful way, ya know?

7. Be thankful for those who have made a positive impact in your life.

All of us have had people in our lives that have made a positive impact. It may have been a teacher, coach, pastor, youth worker, Sunday school teacher, or a family member. Be thankful that these people were placed in your life and give to others as they have given to you.

Me: I have a lot of solid role models in my life, some I've lost touch with and others that I admire from afar, but I am thankful that I can identify folks in my life that have really kept me on a positive track.

8. Be thankful for your health.

If you are reading this, you are probably a person in good health. Be thankful for that. However, there may be people in your family and community that are not as fortunate. Take time to help someone this week

Me: This is one that scares me, I am always terrified that the "health shoe" is going to drop on our family, but we have been very blessed in this category.  While we deal with small trials here and there, we are blessed and we should do more to help those who could use a little pick me up.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Be Thankful

We've started the "Thankfuls" in our house, in fact we started them several days ago, and every night at dinner while we are all sitting around the table we share what we are thankful for in that moment. And when I say "in that moment", sometimes it feels very in the moment and sometimes its more big picture, but generally speaking, its tough to get Avery out of the moment, she is often thankful for the sandwich on her plate, or the dog sitting next to her...Olivia tends to be more thoughtful and more often than not lands on "I am thankful for my Mommy & Dadddy", which likely is a ploy given she knows Christmas is just around the corner.

I will start to share our Thankfuls as the days go on, and I have a lot to catch up on, but thought I would throw the idea out there so others could join along if they weren't already doing so.  We have a "Thanksgiving" wall hanging from PB Kids, and I am thinking about cutting up construction paper into "paper chain" sized pieces, putting our thankfuls on those pieces store them in the daily pockets of the wall hanging and then we can make our holiday paper chain out of it...just a thought. Part of me likes to capture it in a journal so we can compare year over year, so possibly the paper chain idea won't see the light of day, we shall see.