Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas and Birthdays!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas!! It has been a crazy weekend and week for us. I'm only just now able to sit down and put it all together. I really need to tell you about the Christmas party we went to. It was probably some of my best memories of this year's Christmas season.

Today though it's the Christmas post.

We had such fun. Ali was hysterical. She just loved the opening of the presents, she did not care what was in it, just wanted to open the next one and the next one and the next one. Did not really even care if it was for her.


we got to this.

It is an Elsa cape and wand. For anyone without knowledge of Frozen, I apologize, the appeal won't make any sense to you. For anyone with children, you probably know Frozen. It's pretty big in our house, although she still says Cinderella is her favorite princess.

Anyway, she loved this cape. LOVED it.  It's from my sister in law and I knew it was coming so I saved it for last because I was sure once she opened that, nothing else would be accomplished for the day. I was pretty much right, however, the other present from that same sister in law was this:

Ali literally spent about an hour in there, with the cape on, playing and reading books with first my mom, and then me.

I don't have any pictures of Elle during Christmas because she was pretty much running around stealing the wrapping paper and attempting to eat it.

Did I say running??


My little stinker is full time walking and on her way to running after Ali. They currently play 'chase' in the house and Elle does her very best to keep up. It is way, way too funny to watch. The two of them cackling and screeching back and forth the whole time.

I have to share these also. My mom brought over a snowman decoration that her neighbor found in a closet somewhere and didn't want. The neighbor thought my girls would like it and so sent it over. My mom brought it, thinking it was going to be a complete bust and no one would care about a snowman decoration. We both figured it would be a goodwill donation.

We figured wrong.

They both loved it.

Ali didn't want to share at first.

Elle was completely fascinated

Love this one with my mom.

Look at that belly!!! Really Elle was trying to eat the nose but they just loved this silly little thing. So, it stays! 

It was a fun day. Lots of food, lots of drinks, and a lot of napping actually. My husband ended up with the same cold that I had (still have) and my sister, who flew in from Germany on the 23rd, arrived with a stomach bug, so they both took naps Christmas afternoon while my parents and I made the dinner.

And, now, for the really big news.


My baby is one year old!!!!!!

Ah!!!! I can't even believe it!!!!

She's such a sweet, happy girl and I am so, so blessed to be her mom. 

We didn't really have a party because her birthday is two days after Christmas, we'll have one later when everyone can actually travel and be a part of it. But we did have a few presents and just had a special day together.

 Pancakes for breakfast, with whipped cream, shaped like the number one!

The cupcake. Wasn't sure at first.

 Ali and Big M offered to help.

And then she figured it out...

My sweet girl offering to share...

Big M offering to clean

That afternoon my mom actually took Ali back to her house for the night so I had Elle all to myself the rest of the day. It's so nice to have one on one time with her. This was cupcake part two, after dinner that evening. The chocolate one went down pretty well too. I cut it into smaller pieces this time and it was a little easier for her to handle. Not quite the same photo op, but still a sweet messy face.

The New Year is pretty much here and I think I'm ready for it. 

This has been a challenging year that I could never have believed we would ever have had to deal with. Our little bubble of safety and ignorance was burst in one of the worst ways possible. In so many ways we are still reeling and adjusting and waiting for the final chapter, which is still pending and I fear greatly. 

But, I am ending this year in complete gratitude that I have my girls. We are all happy, healthy, safe and together. I cannot ask for more than that.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Week 2 Dinner Done....Done

I did manage to get my second dinner menu post up.

I guess it's a little silly starting this now because it's the holidays and with family, and parties and travel, the weeks aren't really staged for needing a week of meals done, but that's ok. That's kind of the point, it's here for when it's needed.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Best Laid Plans...

Well, this last week was not what I had hoped for.

I ended up sick Tuesday through Friday last week and on Friday decided I had to get out of bed and do something or the house would fall apart. I had no laundry, no food, no clean towels, no clean sheets on the guest bed and my in laws were due in Friday night.

Add to that, I had already planned and did not want to cancel, a 'date' with one of my girlfriends to take our daughters to see a Madeline Christmas Musical. Just Ali, not Elle, I left her at school. And that evening my husband had RSVP'd us to a friends Christmas Party.

So, even though i was feeling better, not great, but better, I did not go to work, I stayed home. I did four loads of laundry, grocery shopped, wrapped presents, cleared the bed in the guest room (present stashing central) and got the house mildly together for the approaching in laws.

Then I grabbed Ali from school just before lunch, stuffed her full of food and off we went with our friends to the play.

Ali LOVED it! She adored every minute and watched in complete fascination. I was really impressed with how well she did. It was an hour play and we had never done something like this before. The cast was all kids and they did an amazing job. Really great singing and the whole performance was so adorable.

Ali and her friend sacked out in the car on the way home, which was also adorable.

That evening we stuffed the girls with pizza and attempted to head to the holiday party. At that point my voice was going, Ali was cranky and Elle was a screaming mess after having only had an hour nap that afternoon at school. We got stuck in terrible traffic and it took 30 minutes to drive 5 miles to our friends house, the whole time my husband and I trading looks like 'what were we thinking?'

We ended up having a great time and I could write a whole post just about the party, which I will do later, but to continue this rant...

Just before we left for the party Ali told me her ears hurt. I told her we didn't have time for her ears to hurt and if they hurt tomorrow (Saturday) we'd go see a doctor. Don't you know it. At midnight she woke up crying that her ears hurt. I gave her Tylenol and got in bed with her until she fell back asleep. Saturday (with my in laws there) she woke up fine. Happy. No problems. We went to gymnastics and spent the afternoon playing with my mother in law. She started to get a little cranky as the day went on and so after her nap I took her, and me, to urgent care.

Two ear infections. Her first ones!

I'm fine, just a cold with laryngitis. Such fun. I lost my voice Friday night and it still isn't back yet.

Exercising hasn't happened.
Dieting hasn't happened.
My week 2 post for meals hasn't happened, which I"m really annoyed with myself about.
Christmas Cards never happened.

However, I am currently ready for Christmas, so I pretty much consider that a win.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hunter's Tree Farm 2014

Yay! We finally made our annul trip to Hunter's Tree Farm. This place is great. We love going every year.


We got pictures with Santa, and NO crying!!! Ali was great, she did such a good job. Well, I say that in terms of not breaking down into hysterical sobs this year. She did not cry. She also did not look at Santa, speak to Santa, or smile at all. She did however say 'Thank You' after she was off his lap and he gave her a candy cane. Elle, of course, was picture perfect. Big smiles and completely content to hang with Santa.

After the visit with Santa, we walked around the farm for a bit and took a bunch of pictures of the girls and of me with the girls. One of these days I'll get a shot of my husband with the girls. He exists, I promise, there is just no photographic evidence of it.

This year they also had a little pony ride set up and Ali was so excited to ride a horse. It was her first time and while the pony they had there really was quite small, for a horse, he was still enormous in Ali's eyes.

Loved putting on the helmut (with pink designs) and getting up on the horse.

Her face when we said are you ready for the horse to walk.

Not sure if she's having fun or if she's just completely terrified.

Ok, it's fun.

It was a great time and then we went out for lunch and got home just in time to put two very tired girls down for an afternoon nap.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Week 1 Meals posted

I'm not sure if I'll stick with this format or not, but here is the first week's worth of dinners.

And on a side note, completely unrelated, I had the funniest thing happen this morning getting the girls out the door to school.

I was buckling Ali into her seat and the glass pendant from the necklace I was wearing fell off and broke on the garage floor. I was startled and exclaimed 'Oh no! My necklace broke!'

Without skipping a beat Ali responds:

'It's ok Mama, you have other necklaces. You don't need to cry about it.'


I managed not to laugh at her, she was being very serious about it and told me again, that I didn't need to cry about it.

Gee, thanks kid.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Blog part 2 - Dinner...Done

I know how I struggle with getting everything done during the week and I try to keep my weekends sane so I can actually enjoy my kids and not spend the whole thing catching up on laundry, cleaning and chores that pile up during the week.

I figure I can't be the only one.

The last few weeks of having meals done on Sunday, ready for the week ahead have made a huge difference in our evenings. Things aren't perfect, and a three year old is still going to be a three year old, but it has been smoother.


I'm starting a new blog based on meal planning. Four meals to get you through the week with a shopping list and a step by step plan to get the whole thing cooked and together in around 2 hours. For me that's nap time on a Sunday afternoon.


I'm working on the first meal plan and the goal will be to have it up Wednesday or Thursday during the week so anyone who wants to try it has time to check out the recipes and see what they have on hand, or what they need before heading to the store. I typically shop on Friday's which is why I want it up by Thursday.

If you have time, check it out and let me know what you think. Share with anyone you think might appreciate it. Suggest recipes! I'm always looking for something new.

If I borrow a recipe from your site, don't worry, I'll reference you and link back. :)

Diet Smackdown


Mostly I blame the cold weather for making me hungrier, but I sadly stepped on the scale this morning and found that in addition to the two pounds I gained over Thanksgiving, I had put on one more since then.

That is not good.

I know a lot of it has to do with the food out at Christmastime. On Saturday we went to my husbands company party and I basically made a meal out of goat cheese, brie and crackers. My ultimate weakness. I love cheese!

This was followed by a Sunday afternoon visit with my parents for Eggnog and appetizers, which included more brie as well as a few other tasty indulgences.

It all adds up. There are treats and candy at work and more wine than I really should be drinking in the evenings.

I have been exercising in the mornings, but I've come to decide that I desperately need new running shoes and I'm a little concerned I may be doing more harm than good. I've had problems before with wearing incorrect shoes while running and after ending up in physical therapy last time, discovered I have a severe inward pronation when I run. Watching a video of my feet in slow motion running it literally looks like my ankle is about to break, it rolls so far inward. I'm starting to feel some of the symptoms that I remember from last time so this morning I did a 30 minute yoga routine instead.

Or, I tried to, but then Elle started crying at about 5:20, which she never does, and has had an odd afternoon fever the last few days. So, I had to stop and check on her before getting back to the workout. After that it was kind of over.

I have got to cut out the snacking and the weekday wine. I know that's how I lost the last of the baby weight after Ali and I just haven't been wiling to make the sacrifice yet this time around. I got so close without having to give up the little extras.

Well, even though it's Christmas, and we have several more parties and visits lined up, the eating stops here!

I have a nice healthy dinner planned. This is an easy one that we like to do occasionally. I typically use green beans instead of asparagus because i have children still in diapers, and I'm just not willing to deal with that! (also why my children have not had beets)

I have actually had a really good lunch set up this week. I made chicken wraps with a sundried tomato mix, includes spinach, feta and a little dressing.

It's pretty good and I'll probably do it again for next week.

More salads, less snacks.

More exercise, less wine.

I (now) have six pounds to go to my goal weight and I'm extremely tired of this little roll of chub at my belly. It's time to work.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The tree!

We got rained out on Saturday while our annual Santa was holding visiting hours at the tree farm. It was a little sad, but it was just too damp and chilly to justify taking the girls out. We plan on attempting again this coming Saturday, but, we really did need a tree so I sent my husband over to Home Depot for a parking lot tree. It's a nice looking tree, but I do feel badly that we didn't get to wander the fresh cut selection at the tree farm and have a family photo 'picking' out the tree like we did the last few years. Oh well, plenty more years to come for that.

Ali was beside herself. He came home with it just before nap time and while she was sleeping we got it up and I got the lights on. When she got up from her nap she was so excited to decorate the tree and really she did the majority of it. She loved it! We have a ton of decorations and I've never actually put all of them on the tree before. I've usually just used the prettiest, and had a color theme and spaced things evenly...not how it goes with a three year old, but it looks fantastic and she was so proud.

The pictures are dark, sorry. The room wasn't that dark and I'm not sure what was going on with the lighting, but you can see the tree!

Yes, we are also pants free. Kind of a frequent thing on weekends, I have no idea why but pants just never seem important.

The decorations are rather heavily clustered in several areas. Every so often I would move the step stool so she could reach another section, but the layout is really quite funny.

On Sunday we put up the garland which I didn't get a picture of, but while I was winding the garland around the top portion of the tree, I turned to find Ali stuffing two full extra lengths onto the bottom portion. Literally stuffing it into the branches. It was funny and I quietly removed it a few minutes later while her back was turned. Everything else I left though. Everything is exactly as she hung it.

She's such a funny girl.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Christmas Season

I am very excited for Christmas this year.

I was really excited for Christmas last year too, but last year at this time I was 37 weeks pregnant and it was hard to really focus on much of anything for too long without getting tired and needing a nap.

The lights are up on the house and it's now getting dark enough in the evenings that they're frequently on by the time I get the girls picked up and home. This is Ali's new favorite thing and every day we have to run out of the car and check out the lights.

Elle is a little hesitant about them when we get up close, but is clearly fascinated. I have a feeling we're going to have some losses off the tree this year from little fingers.

I am very proud to say, my Christmas shopping is about 90% done. I need to get a Secret Santa present for Ali's class and some gift certificates for her teachers, and I need a little something else for my niece.

That's about it. My husband is in charge of a gift for me and a gift for his father. I know he's made a few purchases for me, but I think my father in law might be the only one left to buy for!

I'll need to start wrapping and stashing things soon. I have a pile of boxes in the office at home that is getting a little overwhelming, with more on the way.

We haven't got a tree yet, but plan on doing that Saturday. I love the tree farm we go to. We go every year and they have the best Santa. It's really too bad that Ali hates him. I have three years of screaming baby photos. I love them!!

This year I've told her she doesn't have to sit in Santa's lap. We'll see what happens. We'll definitely get a photo of Elle, who I expect will adore Santa, but Ali may change her mind when it comes to the Candy Cane dilemma. Santa hands out Candy Canes to the kids and last year, she really wanted one, which is how we got that photo. This year, we may get a hesitant version. Maybe I can get her to at least stand next to Santa.

Fingers crossed.



Apparently I don't have 2011, her first Christmas, on my work computer. So excited to see what we get for 2014!


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Thankful Thanksgiving

A week late, but we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my husbands family. I thought of Max and his family frequently but our family visit was so full and lively that it was impossible to linger on sadness. The whole crew was there, us, my in laws, my husbands twin brother with his (pregnant!!) wife and their daughter (my awesome niece) and my husband sister with her boyfriend, plus Big M came with us and my in laws dog. It was a very full house!

The girls had a blast. Normally when we visit my in laws we go to their 'cabin' in north Tennessee. They actually live outside of Nashville until they retire and then they'll move to the cabin permanently, but the girls had never been to the Nashville house. So I had to explain to Ali that we were going to see Mommy & Bobby at their other house. (She calls my in laws Mommy & Bobby. I know it's weird. I'm Mama, my mother is Amommy and my husbands mother is Mommy, it's confusing).

She knows about the cabin and the 'tree house' on the mountain, so I told Ali we were going to Mommy's running house. The little neighborhood they're in is one street with maybe 35 houses and behind the houses is a big open field, solid football field size, that my father in law keeps mowed and maintained. We set Ali loose out there with her 'running shoes' and we had the happiest little girl ever. She of course then wanted us to run with her, and so there was a lot of chase and tag and falling over, but she loved it. The weather wasn't perfect, it was cool, but we ran so much that it wasn't too bad, and she didn't mind at all.

For the late afternoons, when it really was a little too chilly, I had come prepared with holiday craft activities. I had hoped my niece would participate too, but she's only just two and not quite into it. Ali however, loved it.


I had come with the leaves and letters cut out, and Ali pasted them onto the cards, then we strung them with twine. My mother in law was thrilled to have Granddaughter art work for Thanksgiving decorations.

This was the Friday afternoon activity.


They did end up looking a little like party hats instead of Christmas trees, but they were still cute and Ali had a great time with the stickers and glue. My mother in law happily kept those too. I think this weekend I'll sit Ali down to make a few more because they are cute and I'd love a couple on my mantle place as well.

Sadly, I"m up two pounds after all the eating and drinking from Thanksgiving. So the last two days have been 'back at it' days and I've hit the treadmill at 5 am to do my thing. This morning I was actually pretty proud, I ran a mile in 15 minutes and 15 seconds! For me, that's pretty good. I had been at 20+ minutes with mostly walking. Now I'm at 15 with mostly a light jog and a little bit of good running. I do walk the first five minutes at a brisk pace. I hope to be able to get to a point where I can comfortably run two miles in the morning under 25 minutes.

I am excited about the holiday's. This year will be fun for Ali and Elle's birthday is on the 27th! She'll be a year old already!! How did it happen?? She is my sweet little snuggle bug though and i"m so glad she's still a snuggler. Ali was never one to cuddle much.

Happy December Everyone!