Turning the page on 2013

Our NYE will be pretty tame this year, which is just fine. It'll be a few years before I am up for the big nights out that we used to have! It is typically the night I set my expectations way too high, so a night in with my husband, favorite girl, and little (big) bump, is perfect. As long as we have good food.

In less than 12 hours, it'll be 2014. The year we go from a family of 3 to a complete family of 4! 

What do you want from 2014? Here is what I want...

1. To keep a clean house. For me, it is so hard to do. It seems like the only time I can keep it clean is during the summer when I am off. If I can stay on top of small jobs here and there and maybe even assign Larkyn some simple chores, I might be able to stay sane in the clutter.

2. Speaking of clutter, I want it gone. We are giddy at the thought of renting one of those Bagger dumpsters for a weekend and going to town. I cannot take the empty containers, receipts, and things waiting to be fixed. I am also slowly donating Larkyn's outgrown items to our loved ones with little girls.

3. To be more thoughtful. I need to send cards, make it a point to celebrate birthdays with people rather than just a text, help them when they need errands or items or just lend an ear.

4. To finally be at peace with friendships that just aren't going anywhere. To let them go, let go of the things they have said to me that aren't true and are projections of their own insecurities.

5. To maintain grace as a parent and wife. I will make mistakes, and I hate to hear about them. It takes me from 0-10 on an anger scale, and I know there are better ways to manage it than to react like a Real Housewife of NJ. Which I don't, but I sometimes imagine. I am not sure how to handle criticism, really. So there's that. Any ideas?

6. To save like crazy.  Now that Christmas is over, it is time to buckle down and get serious if we actually want to be able to move this summer. We need to combine bills, limit the carryout/fast food, sell a few things, and not buy random things for ourselves for about 6 months!

Happy 2014! Hope it is good to you:)


Foodie Friday: Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

It's been a while since I have posted a recipe, but I thought this one was worth sharing. Every day this week, our bananas got spottier and less appealing and I knew I'd have to do something with them...

They were all subsequently eaten.
Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins
recipe from Taste of Home

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease muffin pan. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bow, mix the egg, oil, and yogurt. Add your mashed bananas and chocolate chips to the wet mixture.  Fold the dry mixture into the wet.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, which makes appx. 16 muffins. Bake 22 minutes, (less for the smaller batch) until a toothpick comes out clean.
  •  1 3/4 C flour
  •  3/4 C sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C oil
  • 1/2 C yogurt (I used vanilla)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C mashed ripe bananas (I used 3)
  • 3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini so that every bite has chocolate!)
  • I also added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, which I could definitely taste. Yum.

Christmas catch up

Yesterday's post was pre-written because I knew I'd be too depressed to wrap up Christmas the day after. I needed a list to distract me from seeing sad Christmas trees out on the curb and the 546 cardboard boxes taking over our garage.
 She chose a Valentine dress for Christmas Eve at Grandma's. There was no talking her out of it.


Christmas truly came and went too fast this year. And I didn't get nearly enough pictures. We spent Christmas Eve at Matt's mom's house in German Village. She, as usual, had an amazing spread of Italian food and cookies...the woman can cook!  We got a short time to visit with cousins and in-laws before opening a ton of presents. Once Larkyn opened her tea set, it was all over. She is smitten with it and I appreciate that it has a carrying case for all the pieces!  Before we knew it, it was time to head home with our sleepy girl and get to work.


Matt needed to assemble the Kidcraft farmhouse table and chairs and I needed to rest, big time. Suddenly, I am looking and feeling very prego, and the chaos of the night had finally caught up!  I did take a few minutes to fill stockings, which is a favorite part of mine. Larkyn keeps asking for her "special sock" because it was filled with all her favorite snacks and little trinkets.

I woke up at 5:30, thanks to a dog or a kicking baby or who knows what. It was torture waiting for Larkyn and Matt to wake up, finally at 8:20!!


When she came into the living room, she ran past the million gifts and straight to the table and chairs. We opened her stocking there and she wanted to have an impromptu tea party with goldfish before anything else. And yes, she got her Piggie Polish:)

 blowing out the candle on her cake

 pizza party!

I can't believe her feet touch the ground. Barely.

I don't know if it is a phase or her personality, but Larkyn could only handle one gift at a time. Meaning, she wouldn't even look at another gift until she had completely opened and experienced the one before. It made for a pretty long opening ceremonies, but I'm actually glad she doesn't just pull the paper off and keep going.

She was so adorable when she opened some things, gasping "Wow!" and "whhhhaaaat?!" like she couldn't believe they were hers.
 

 "Nana, it's Muno!"

And Foofa, of course.

Her favorites? The Melissa and Doug layer cake, the tea set, the Yo Gabba Gabba talking plush guys, and her beloved mini MMs. And when she finally got around to looking at them, the silver Hunter boots were a hit, to say the least. She keeps them on all day with her new nightgowns and has mentioned once or twice, "I'm a queen" while wearing them. Ha!


I loved the tall black Uggs Matt gave me, and can't wait to use the external hard drive he put in my stocking to back up all my photos. My mom got us a nice warm blanket for our bed, some pajamas, and lots of sweet gifts for baby boy.

Speaking of pajamas, we stayed in them all day. It was just the kind of Christmas I crave: My own house, a slow pace, TV showing holiday fluff all day, and not getting dressed up to go do anything!

And dinner did not disappoint. I tried this pot roast recipe and it was fantastic. If you are hosting a small group, I would really recommend using the crock pot to buy some precious prep time. I took a few minutes in the morning to throw it all in, and at 5:00 when grandpa came over, it was ready to go! Just add a pretzel salad, and you've got serious Midwestern comfort food.


Yesterday, I took the day to organize Baby's clothes and go through all of Larkyn's toys she has not been using. They either went to our neighbor, into a toy rotation box to reappear later, or into the trash (adios McDonalds toys!) We all piled into bed to watch Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (for literally the 4th time in 24 hours). And today? We actually got dressed and came out to Lattes and Lollipops for some fun and blogging time.

I hope your Christmas was fabulous!

Things to do before Baby 2

1. Since he won't have a nursery (yet), I need to at least change out the few nursery items where he will have a bazillion pictures taken. First on the list, changing pad cover and boppy cover!

2. I am a little superstitious. Last time around, Jill and I got pedicures 2 weeks before Larkyn was due. I am definitely looking forward to another one right before baby arrives.

3. A nice dinner out with Matt. One last date night before we are on man-to-man defense at home! We got some restaurant gift cards for Christmas that I hope to use at Cap City or Bonefish. Yum.

4. Read one more book.  It could be my last for a while.

5. Learn to shoot my camera in manual. I am so sick of having to choose between a noisy shot or using the flash inside. I'm demanding better pictures from myself this time around!

6. Throw Julie a fabulous baby shower. Though she won't admit it, she deserves it! It has been way too long since I've gotten to shower a friend and I CAN'T WAIT. My secret Pinterest board is exploding with ideas.

7. Buy some big sister/baby brother books for Larkyn. I found a great list here.

8. Fill up the calendar with her favorite places: Lattes & Lollipops, Polaris Mall playground, Cracker Barrel, Orange Leaf ("Elems and sprinkles, mommy!"), and lots of time for art and cooking! Where can we do that?

9. My list of "essentials" is shrinking quickly as time is slipping away!  Luckily, friends are handing down a Rock N' Play and mini co-sleeper for him to sleep in. I need to buy a new bouncy seat, diaper pail, blankets (because EVERY one we have is precious but pink!), terry cloth bibs, bath towels, and a cute little hat/bunting for nasty March and April weather.

10. Luckily, most of the stuff we already have. Now I have to dig it out:( I did a good job labeling the tubs in the basement, but finding this stuff does not sound like fun.

11. Um, pick a name. We might actually do the old "We will name him when we see him" from our list of 3. I like all 3 so much that I told Matt he could choose. 

12. One more Girl's Night dinner. I am already looking forward to it.

What am I missing?


Merry Christmas!

To all of you who catch up on our lives by reading this little blog, Merry Christmas!  This is a camera picture of our beautiful cards because...I have no idea how else to put them on here.

Hope you have a fabulous time tonight and tomorrow, seeing family, giving and receiving fun gifts, eating good food, and pausing for a moment to appreciate the fun moments in life:)



These pictures don't do them justice-- the quality is amazing. Even if they arrived forever late. Next year, there will be 4 of us!

Christmas Love List

I can't believe tomorrow is Christmas Eve!  It seems like I was just watching the morning shows, learning how to brine a turkey 5 different ways. And then I put it in the oven upside down anyway.

Well, 4 weeks later and the holiday season is almost over. There are so many things I love about it; even more things now that I am a mother.
{one}

The FOOD!  This topic is on my mind a lot. I look forward to seasonal menus, potlucks, parties, and things that only come around once a year...like Chick Fil A's chocolate peppermint shake, cheesy potato casserole, trays of Christmas cookies, stuffing, pumpkin rolls, meat that has been roasting all day, cranberry drinks...
 
{two}
Recipe here. PS- 1 bag of white chocolate chips tastes much better than candy melts.
Along those lines, the annual Christmas treat I give to coworkers and friends. For the last two years, it has been this white chocolate popcorn. It is so easy that I usually make another batch for us to eat at home!  We substituted kettle corn for one batch and it was mind-blowing.

{three}
Shopping!  Not exactly the money-spending part, but making list upon list of everything I think my loved ones could use or wouldn't buy for themselves. And I definitely do get shopper's high as soon as I put them in the cart. Just being honest. I did a lot of online shopping, which I learned has downfalls as well. No hassle of going out with a toddler, but more than one of our items arrived damaged (like an entire smashed set of glasses). I cherish (strong word, I know) the personal day I take from work each year on the 17th to shop, wrap, and eat a glorious lunch by myself.

{four}
Columbus Zoo Wildlights. The only "event" we made it to this year, thanks to the weather!
A full calendar. This year was an exception because every weekend, the weather was awful!  But I love going to the Wildlights, meeting up with friends, meeting Santa, tree-lightings, Christmas parties, and would LOVE to do a cookie swap one year in the future.  


{five}
 Sending and receiving Christmas cards. Although because of "events out of my control" (ie: an unexplainable and unconcerned 20 day delay by the photographer), mine will be more like New Years cards, I still love addressing paper cards. I love stamping our return address, finding the perfect pen to use, and opening up the mail every day to see new cards. Call me crazy, but I especially like the letters people send to tell us their life updates. Much better than opening bills every day for the other 11 months of the year.


{six}
I miss those little hand dimples!
A home decorated for Christmas. I decorate the day before Thanksgiving just so that it is all ready to go on the official kick-off of the season!  A house just looks better with white lights and a big tree, doesn't it? I will miss it when I take it down soon:(

{seven}
last year with his little Hendrix
Time with family. Although much of this time is spent in the kitchen, cleaning, or rounding up toddlers who have cabin fever, the time we get together goes too fast!  Seeing Larkyn watch a movie with Matt on the floor by the fire, bringing home a gingerbread house she made with my mom, and letting her "help" me in the kitchen are the things I try to remember (rather than spills, falls, dogs barking, food burning, etc)

Take a moment to soak it up. Too soon, it'll be over and January will be here!

Currently...

via
Happy that:  I am officially on Winter break. Even though there was one less week to read all the fun holiday books to the kids and get them all worked up for the holidays, I was definitely ready. I don't think I could have taken one more story about someone's "Elf" being in the fridge or TPing the bathroom.

In disbelief: that I am entering my last trimester of pregnancy. What?! I am well aware that it is about to slow down and feel like slow motion until he is born, but I have no idea where the second trimester went. I still feel fine most of the time, it's just getting (much) harder to bend over, unload groceries, and there may or may not be a snoring issue. Sorry Matt- it's retribution for all the hours I've lost with the giant dog in the bed at your request ;o)

Excited for:  Well, what else?  The big day is less than a week away! I can't wait to give everyone their gifts, have family over for TWO meals that day (breakfast and dinner), and watch A Christmas Story over and over.

Do you remember that torturous wait as a kid?  I used to sleep til 11 every day until Christmas, then I'd wake up early and sit outside my parents' room annoying them until they came out. My dad used to shave and everything, making me wait until he was photogenic. Meanwhile, I had mats in my hair and looked like I'd been hit by a truck. 

Trying to maintain composure: We got our family pictures taken November 10th, and I am STILL waiting on the Christmas cards we chose from the pictures. For someone who lives for sending real mail and who spent a crapload of money on these cards, this is not a happy situation. At this point, there is no way they will be received by Christmas. Which, to me, is the point. Ours will arrive just in time for everyone to be chucking them into the recycling bin. Besides that, they are probably wondering if I cut them from the list. No, I haven't. According to USPS "tracking", they are stuck in Springfield Missouri.

And not to leave out my little baker on the 21st, which will forever be her "birthday" day, she is currently:

Making us laugh by: What she calls her belly. While I was in the shower this week, she opened shower curtain (because, why not?) and sadly said "Mommy, by Bay Brudder hurts" while rubbing her belly. While stifling a laugh, I asked what was wrong. "I want Apple Jacks" was the answer.

Loving to eat:  Cookies! Sprinkles! "Cereal-Milk-on-it", anything that is carbs covered in sugar

Loving to watch:  The Cat in the Hat movie (until she called Bastian a "dirty ho", then that was shut down. She is also into Toy Story , but doesn't really sit through more than a few minutes of any movie.

Hating:  The dark!  Thank goodness she will sleep in it, but she has a melt down every time she needs to enter a dark room.

Favorite activities:  Creating art of any kind, "helping" in the kitchen, chasing the dogs around the house, picking out her own outfits and shoes (always the glittered "princess shoes")

Have a great last weekend before Christmas!  I know I'm totally out of money, so I'll be finding creative ways to avoid shopping (= no fun)



A Christmas Story

Prologue: 

A mother who lives for photographic moments with her daughter, is anticipating seeing Santa and taking that rite-of-passage yearly picture with him. However, mall Santa lines and prices will not do. The mother waits for the $5 Pancake Breakfast with Santa at the high school yesterday, which coincided with yet another winter storm and the daughter saying "No. No Santa". Then at their fabulous grocery store this morning, a miracle. A sign that says "Santa this way...". How convenient! SANTA at the grocery store!  After asking around, they find out that Santa took reservations for the "Limited Engagement" and they were full.

After deciding that 1. "Reservations" for Santa are stupid and 2. Her daughter had no interest in seeing him anyway, she resigned herself to making this a FUN day anyway. They would buy everything they needed to make cut-out Christmas cookies, go home, and have a grand old time.

Scene 1:  The "Sounds of the Season" TV channel is on, festive music is filling the house. For comparison's sake, the audience should imagine Gene Autry's "Here comes Santa Claus" (foreshadowing a giant cluster)


Mom: "Isn't this fun?"
Larkyn: "Yes. I want fruit snacks."
Mom: "Alright, let's go roll the dough out on the table."
Larkyn: "I want milk."

Scene 2: At the table with the dough and a cup of flour for "dusting". Mom is getting her camera set up with back turned.


Larkyn: "Look! I put in flour!"
Mom: "Oh. Oh no! We don't need that in there! Come on, let's roll it out again."


Larkyn: (laughing) "So fun flour."
Mom: "Let mommy roll it out AGAIN.  No. Hands off for one second. I have to..."

Scene 3:  On the floor, crying.

Scene 4:  Returns to chair after finding a binky somewhere on the floor and smearing face with flour.

Mom: "OK, here's a cutter. Want to make a stocking?"
Larkyn: (Pushing the cutter in the same spot, overlapping the cutout approximately 40 times), "No."

Mom: "This is fun. This is fun to make cookies together, isn't it?" (while silently wondering if there was a missing circle of hell in Dante's Inferno that involved cookie baking with toddlers)
Larkyn: Completely ignores and stares mom in the face, daring her to stop her dough massacre.
Mom: Completely gives up at this point and lets her daughter make whatever the hell kind of cookies she wants.

Scene 5: After mom has managed to cut out 7 cookies, Larkyn looks at the chair and floor around her

Larkyn: "Dammit. A mess."

Scene 6: After the clean up and wardrobe changes. Time to decorate!

Larkyn: "SPRINKLES!"
Mom: "Yep."
Larkyn: (after one bite) "Delicious cookies!  Mommy try?"
Mom: "Mmm, ok!  Good job baby!"

Mom: Tries a cookie and smiles at her daughter. They have survived.
Larkyn: Bursts into tears. "I don't like it!! NO COOKIES!"

End scene



Pinball Machine

Pretty much describes my brain. Today, I present a random collection of thoughts...

First, let's take a minute to think about this brave man who truly did change the world. How do you spend 27 undeserved years in prison and not be jaded when you come out? Not only that, you become the president and lead a country out of oppression?  Seriously, an inspiration and someone we should all aim to emulate.


In other news about Great Men, my dad is having a heart procedure as we speak. He has felt so awful for a few months and they are hoping to get in there and find the cause. If it is a blockage, they'll put in a stent while they are in there. If it is not, is is back to the drawing board and hopefully unrelated to the pneumonia he had in the spring.


We have a snow day today!  Thanks to all the students who did snow dances and flushed ice cubes down the toilet last night, the ice storm hit just at the right time and now we get a 3 day weekend. Which will be spent online shopping, because (crap) Christmas is now less than 3 weeks away. 

My absolute favorite baby purchase so far. A $6 thrill. I think this sums up my boy style.

We are almost in our third trimester with Baby Boy, and I can't believe how it has flown by. I know it'll become slow motion as I near the final weeks, but for now, it is crazy to think that he will be here in 103 days (ish).
  • Heartburn is BACK with a vengeance. I started to think maybe I wouldn't have it this time around. Ha. The second I lay down to sleep, there's an inferno in my throat.
  • He is so active at night, and now you can see it from the outside if you look closely. 
  • We have a name list of 3 names. All the same middle name, but no idea which first name we will pick. This might be news to Matt, but he often doesn't recall being part of these conversations;)
  • At this point with Larkyn, her closet was FULL. Her nursery was complete. I feel a little bad that baby boy has maybe 6 outfits and a car seat. That's all he needs, right?  We are definitely saving money by not furnishing a nursery at this point. With the impending move this summer, we are saving wherever we can. But, seriously, we need to get stocked up.


Christmas Photos 2013

If you look to the left on the sidebar, you will see the pictures that Heather took for us a few weeks ago. It has since warmed up in Columbus, but that morning was FREEZING. We had a rough time getting Larkyn to participate in any of it, so I was amazed she got any shots. Seriously, it was a disaster.

I very happy with them and ordered 10 that I just couldn't live without. We will use the one with the two signs for our Christmas card:)

I can't wait to see everyone's cards this year!

Toddler gift-giving

I'm a little sad to say that I am pretty much finished with Larkyn's Christmas shopping. Since her birthday and Christmas are so far apart, we have a lot of time to think about things she might like.  In case you need to buy for a 2-3 year old, here are some items I have spent WAY too much time researching and finding for the best price...

Melissa and Doug pizza set
Last year, she got her play kitchen with some basic one-piece foods. This year, she's more into assembling things and she does love pizza!

Kidcraft Farmhouse table & chairs
We tried a picnic table in the living room and it is just too big. It will be perfect outside, and this one will come in for her snack time, coloring, etc.

Board Books
I made an amazon list of the books she does not have so that I can check them off when purchased. No more paperback books until she stops ripping the pages out! I'll be looking for classics like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Brown Bear, Max & Ruby's Tea Party, You are My Sunshine, Goodnight Moon, and many more.


Gymboree Clothes
I always hit up the 50% off sale and stock up on long sleeve tees and leggings that will last this season and next (ie: I got 3Ts that she can wear a little larger this year and we can pull out next year). LOVE this Mousing Around Collection, but restrained myself at 3 shirts and the layered leggings.


Alex Toys Tin Tea Set
Trying to find an unbreakable tea set that isn't made of nasty Chinese chemical plastic is hard! We settled on this one, which I also chose because of the carrying case for the pieces.


M&D Birthday cake
This girl adores anything related to birthdays, and again, she can assemble it herself.

Art Supplies
Just a few basics here for our little artist: toddler scissors, M&D sticker pads, new crayons, Magnadoodle, and lacing cards. Any other ideas? Please don't say Play Doh.


Lalaloopsy Loopy Hair
This is our one commercial indulgence (so far). She likes this show a lot and when the commercials come on for this doll, she goes nuts. I think she will love the hair (who wouldn't...great weave:)


Fisher Price Doctor Kit
Just something every kid needs, right?


M&D Slice and Bake Cookie set
I couldn't resist rounding out the food set with her favorite food to help me bake!

As for the stocking?
  • headbands (her accessory of choice)
  • mini MMs
  • flashlight (so she stops stealing Paw Paw's Maglight!)
  • coins for her to put in her bank
  • Piggie Polish (toddler-safe nail polish)
  • Bath crayons
  • Dora straw cup

Almost all the items were purchased through amazon.com. And as I looked at them a second time, some of the prices fluctuated anywhere from a few cents to over $10. My advice, if you see the price drop, get it before it goes back up!

Mama's wish list

Come on. Let's call a spade a spade (am I old for saying that?) The cute "gift guides" that I keep seeing in blog land are clever disguises for "here is what I want".  It is fun to look at them, get ideas for everyone and of course, do a little dreaming myself! Typically, my list has a LOT of clothes on it. But this year with a bun in the oven, things are a little unique. If I handed my list to Santa today, here is what would be on it...do you have any of them or have them on your list?

Canon Elph 330 HS camera- Everything I've been looking for to complement my DSLR. Wifi capable, smaller, good in low light. Thanks to some amazing sales on Thanksgiving, I have a feeling it might be in Santa's sleigh already ;o)


Plush blanket- We need another layer on our bed in a color that won't get destroyed.

Infantino Sash Mei Tei carrier- Since I returned the Moby, Ergo, and Bjorn last time around, I'm hoping this is the answer for wearing Baby Boy around this Spring.

Mooseberry iPhone case -Since my monogram changed, it is time I update the phone. And I love this wintery case!

Adobe Photoshop Elements- I've been wanting it for a while and finally the price has been cut in half. I hope to make lovely mood boards (instead of inserting one picture at a time into blog posts) and help bring the photos of my kid(s!) to another level. Advice?

Maternity pajamas- I have no link for these because I can't find anything that doesn't make my blood boil. Long sleeve tees and knit pants, anyone? And for a reasonable price? 

Hunter boot socks-  Love my Hunters, and I'm excited to make them transition from rain to snow boots!
No Slip Sparkly headbands-   I think these will do the trick for rushed mornings. Who doesn't love a little sparkle? I like the silver, black, and gold.

A few Winter reads- The girl who fell from the sky, The book of lost things, Sarah's key, The pillars of the Earth, and Kite Runner have been on my must-read list for a while. I will never be able to read all of these any time soon, but it is nice to have a book ready to go when I have some time.

Charming Charlie anything!  Have you been yet?  It is the perfect place to find gifts for every girl on your list. I love it because everything is organized by color and accessorizing is such an easy way to change your wardrobe. And since I'm not buying clothes right now...



Clump Crusher black mascara- Thanks to Kate, I have a new favorite beauty product!

Starbucks gift cards- They are like gold. I actually deleted a gold watch off of this list and added this.

And the seasonal chocolates! Holy caloriefest, this is my favorite time of year for treats like Ghiradelli squares, Peppermint Hugs, Ferrero Rochers, and the new Dove Peppermint Bark Promises.

So there we go, a few of my favorite things and perhaps some ideas for you and your girlfriends!






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