Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Lockdown

I like that feeling of a fresh start. Clean slate. Another chance. It's like stepping out of the shower all nice and clean. The new year has that power of bringing on motivation, new potential and inspiration.

I wrote about my 2012 plans. I'm really excited to start on them. We used December to spoil ourselves, and over indulge. It's time to get back on track. Get in control. So we are going on lockdown. I mean it. Everything. Money, eating, tv time etc. It's time to turn our focus to living simply and humbly. To slowing down and soaking in these special times with our growing family.

It feels good to be in control, have self control and set goals and reach them. From setting a budget and sticking to it and working on other financial goals to eating healthier, exercising and building family memories, 2012 is sure to be a great year.

Spoiling yourself is nice sometimes but the happy feelings are fleeting. Putting in hard work, making good decisions and seeing the results of your sacrifices is much more rewarding. I'm totally ready to bring in the new year. What are you doing to make 2012 better than 2011? Any resolutions?

Operation Big Boy Bed- Week 2

Week 2 went smoothly. At bed time. Not nap time. We were on vacation this week and I was so nervous to have to put Evan down for a nap each day. For the first few days, he threw a fit at nap time, crying and ultimately falling asleep on the ground for no more than 40 minutes. It was tough. Then around Wednesday he accepted that it was nap time and played in his room for a bit before falling asleep on the floor. He really only napped in his bed twice this week. Yet, I decided not to be picky. Sleep is sleep.

Bed time got easier this week. He only fusses for a minute before finally laying down for the night. I still was feeling guilty that he would fuss/cry/be upset so I tried something new last night and it works! When he gets out of bed to protest at the baby gate, I go to him and walk him back to bed, telling him it's night-night time and he needs to stay in bed. He lays down, I kiss him and walk out. He does it again and I repeat the steps. Then...he falls asleep, no fussing! I don't like for him to fall asleep feeling sad or upset, so this is important to me. It's worked 2 nights in a row so I will keep this routine up. Even if I have to walk him back to his bed 20 times! Originally I was just letting him cry and then he would eventually go back to bed. I didn't feel comfortable with this so changing it up helped us both.

We did have an incident this week. I left the baby gate open because I eventually want to do away with it once Evan understands that he needs to stay in bed. I wanted him to be able to come out when he awoke in the morning. I wanted to see what he would do. So, Wednesday morning he wakes up. At 4:00 am. He discovered the gate was open and came to our room. He stood quietly in the doorway then turned and left. I went to get him and bring him back to bed with us. He laid there and I thought he would fall back to sleep. He did. An hour and a half later....he was tossing and turning, kicking, playing, crawling around...oh dear. Yeah that can't happen again. It was my fault. I was too lazy to put him back in bed and didn't want to make him upset so early in the morning. I know now, he won't learn unless I put him back in bed. Oh, these parenting lessons are fun aren't they?

On to week 3!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Life Lesson

I recently had a close family member tell me that this blog is stupid and that I sound stupid in my posts. It stung at first, but I had to remind myself that I don't write this blog for her, I write it for myself. I write to have a creative outlet as well as to have a way to record memories and notes for myself and my family. I also have family half way across the country, so this blog is a fun way to keep them up to date on our lives. Lastly, I have hopes that I can help someone the way that other blogs help me both in information and entertainment.

Over the years this family member has tried to cut my confidence and tear me down. I've allowed this to happen, until now. 2012 is the year I say "No." No to negativity, no to mean people and no to mean words. This life lesson is so important because without it, you let people control you. They control your actions and feelings. I say, "No more."

I share this because I'm sure there are people out there that are concerned about the opinions of others. Don't let the naysayers, no matter how close they are to you, keep you from doing what you love. Move passed them and walk on your own path. I think this can be said about most areas in life like career choices, parenting choices and even partner choice. If I continued to let my choices be dictated by the opinions of others, I would be forever unhappy and frozen in confusion.

So I welcome 2012 with fresh eyes and ears that are blind and deaf to mean people and mean words. This is the year I stand up for me!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Scoop- Christmas Edition

It's Christmas! Here is the latest edition of the Sunday Scoop:
1) Today is Christmas and it was a lovely yet challenging day. Evan liked his presents and had a blast in his new tent. He loves to test my patience, though. We fought for 2 hours about taking a nap in his big boy bed. Dad swooped in a gave him a pacifier. Not cool. Swooping in is not cool. So, we'll go through this again tomorrow. Fun.

2) Treated myself to Origins Lavender and Vanilla body soufflé. Ah, it makes the days frustrations a distant memory. For real.

3) Get to know your neighbors. It's nice to be able to ask someone if they have nutmeg so you don't have to run out to the store. It's also nice when they give you tamales and Christmas cookies. It also helps when they've been down the road of toddler hood and can give you tips.

4) I have the week off from work. I made a 20 item list of things to get done. One thing I did not add: Relax and enjoy the time off of work. Instead I created work for myself. So, I'm scratching the list and going with the flow. I work too hard to spend my vacation working....

5) I'm eating cereal. It's 10:00 at night. I love it. I think I'll go for a 2nd helping. It's the healthy kind anyway.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pregnancy Update

So, I haven't talked much about my pregnancy. Yes, I am going to use the excuse that my toddler, full time job and typical house duties keep me really busy. I forget to take pictures weekly. I mean to but I don't always get around to it. It's terrible I know. So, I thought I'd do a little update.

I am 29 weeks today. This time around has gone super fast. It's been fairly the same as the first time around. Sick and exhausted in the 1st trimester, my energy returned in the 2nd and now that I'm in my 3rd trimester, I'm slowing down and feeling large. My energy is starting to dwindle and I get winded easily. 

This time around I started showing quickly. I was in maternity clothes by 12 weeks! I also failed my glucose test.....I have to do the 3 hour test next week. I'm bummed about that. Yet, I think it's all my fault. I have been indulging in the sweets of the holiday season and eating very little in the way of vegetables. I also haven't been able to walk nightly the way I did with Evan. We get home and time never allows for us to have a stroll. The light goes down early and it's cold. I try and do some yoga poses daily to keep flexible though. I am experiencing leg cramps again! They are terrible charlie horses that wake me in the middle of the night. I get them at least 3 times a week. I also had some high blood pressure, that was stress related, which was a bit scary. 
I felt the baby move at around 16 weeks and now he dances up a storm. He does most of his moving during the day and seems to sleep at night. Maybe I'll get lucky and he'll be born with a sleep- at- night- and- awake- during- the- day schedule.

Picking up Evan has become increasingly hard and getting kicked in the belly during diaper changes hasn't been fun. Lifting Evan into shopping carts has been hard, too. Feeling exhausted doesn't leave a lot of energy for playing, so I've been feeling guilty.

Last night I was cramping and having a lot of pressure. I thought I might have the baby, it hurt so bad! The pain and pressure would only subside if I laid on my right side. Today I am doing much better. He has a lot of growing to do before he makes his debut, so he needs to stay in there a bit longer! The doc says I need to rest and drink a lot of water, both of which I am not very good at.

We did pick a name but, to keep some mystery, we are not telling until his birthday.

I feel lucky that I've been able to grow a baby plus handle all the requirements of daily life. It's been tough and tiring but we are surviving. I've felt overwhelmed at times, wondering how I'll make it with 2 kids and working and chores and budgets and all the other fun of adult life.

Just like the first time around, we'll make it work. I'm really excited to have 2 boys who can grow up to be friends. I know I'm in for a wild ride but it's sure to be fun and full of hugs, kisses and dirty finger prints!

Operation Big Boy Bed- 1 Week

So, Evan has been sleeping in his toddler bed for a week now. He's done such a great job. The lingering issue is the crying as soon as we leave the room. It's down to a couple minutes, though, so it's not too bad.

Dad has super powers. I wasn't feeling well the other night and he did the entire bed time routine, even putting him down. I listened for the cries as John left his room and...nothing. He even stayed in bed. What?! How did he do it? I was amazed and even jealous. So, it's me then...maybe I linger too long.

All in all, I've learned so much about my little dude and I am so proud of him for being adaptable. Now, when baby #2 is ready for the crib, it'll be free to use and a distant memory for Evan.

Yay for taking the plunge and facing my fears and friends with great tips!

Here's the whole saga here, here, here and here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Hi. I'm just a little blogger in this big blog world. I have my tiny corner here in the blogoshpere. I'm here just writing about my thoughts, goals, interests and mama-hood. I write for me, as a creative outlet and a way to document memories. I'm not out for perfection, I'm out to have fun and share.

I want to say thank you to those that have stopped by and/or subscribed. Thank you for reading my words. My hopes for 2012 is that I'll get a couple of comments. That would be delightful! Even if I don't, I'll still be here, sharing and exlporing my love of writing, food and family.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 4

He did a great job again! The crying is down to just a couple minutes. I kiss him good night and walk out of the room and he runs to the gate to protest but then it's back to bed. He played for about 20 minutes though. I went in to check on him and he had fallen asleep on the floor by his I moved him and he stayed in bed the rest of the night. He woke up about 5:00 but then quickly went back to sleep. I'm about to go wake him up for the day.

He's done so well. This experience has taught me to give him more credit. He is adaptable. It's okay for him to be upset and feel out-of-sorts. That's part of life and I don't think I should completely shield him from those feelings. Yet, he got over them quickly and has moved on. I should never have underestimated his ability to adjust to the change. Ah, these parenting lessons are purposeful aren't they?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday Scoop

I thought I'd do a little something new. Another way to be creative. I want to do a weekly tidbit called the Sunday Scoop. It'll be a handful of things floating in my head, happenings, silly stories, dirt or things I love like blogs, articles, pics and pins or other items. Other blogs do similar things like Wordless Wednesday or I Love Lists Friday or Five Fact Fridays. This is my way of having a little fun and adding variety as well as recording my random thoughts. I thought I'd keep the list to 5 thoughts so I don't overwhelm and so I don't get overwhelmed. I picked Sunday because I actually have the energy Sunday evenings to put something together. The other nights are questionable.

Okay, so here's the first installation of the Sunday Scoop. Oooo that sounds like a good name for an ice cream shop...

1) This is the first year I've made Christmas cards (by made I mean created online and ordered through Tiny Prints of course). I actually got them out on time. This is really wierd for me. I am usually a huge procrastinator to the point where I've sent my Dad a Father's day card 6 months late.....Funny thing is I got that trait from my Dad.

2) Whenever I hear Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, I instantly think of the movie Home Alone. Man, I'm getting old. It's like 20 years old!

3) I'm utterly in love with a new fragrance I treated myself to. Coach Poppy. It's lovely. Fresh and floral. I can't stop smelling my arm. I want to bathe in it.

4) I turned the data off on my iphone. I can access the internet on wi-fi but that's it. I don't miss it! It saves me money on the bill and keeps me from checking facebook in traffic. I work all day on a computer and I have one at home so if I need to get online, I can. I'm totally happy with my decision. I really only checked the weather and stocks before anyways...

5) Whenever I need a laugh I read something at this blog. She and her family are hilarious! Something funny is always happening at her zoo of kids and pets. I love it.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 3

He's doing great!

He was upset for about 10 minutes then played for a bit in his bed and finally fell asleep for the night. I didn't hear from him again until I had to wake him up! I'm so proud of my big guy.

The only issue is the initial "good night" when we leave the room. We use the gate because he's still too young to follow directions and stay in bed. I try to stay in the room with him for a bit. Lights off and glow seahorse on. I try and pat his back to cue him in to the fact that it's night night time. He thinks it's a game though! He jumps around and rolls all over the bed and makes his doggie bark. I eventually have to leave the room because we don't make any progress and he gets upset. He cries at the gate for a few minutes and heads back to bed. It breaks my heart to hear him cry but I can't let him control the situation by coming back right away.

He'll continue to play in his bed for up to 40 minutes! Now, this is after our bedtime routine of bath and reading. He suddenly gets this burst of energy that is hard to simmer down. I really hope that the initial crying stops soon because my heart can't take it. I don't want him to go to bed feeling sad or lonely. I know he's okay though because I can hear him playing in bed before he finally konks out. He makes his doggie bark and makes silly sounds. He's a riot.

Some friends are also doing the transition to a toddler bed or big boy bed and it's so nice to know I'm not alone in it. Parenting is hard enough and then you throw in these parental enforced changes like bed transitions or bottle phase outs or pre-school enrollments and things just get tough for us morally, emotionally and mentally. Having a support team behind you like friends and family to urge us and encourage us is so helpful especially when they've been down the road before.

Thanks everyone!

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 2

It went really well. I can't rave enough about my kid and his ability to adapt. He was upset for about 10 minutes, went back to his bed and went to sleep. I didn't hear a peep from him until 7:30 this morning! I am so proud of him. I didn't want to expect that night 2 would be as good as night 1 so I just kept thinking we could be up all night. I was pleasantly surprised. He didn't even fall out of bed. I'm surprised because he moves a lot.

He woke up at 7:30 and I heard him playing. I didn't go in right away, I waited until he called for us. It bought me and extra 30 minutes of rest. When he did call out, I went and made a big deal out of him sleeping so well in his big boy bed. Again, he was all smiles.

Naps.'s a different thing. Yesterday he went down late in the day and had no trouble. Dad laid him in his bed covered him and walked out. He fell right to sleep for an hour and a half. Today though...well, I'm listening to him cry, I've tried a few times to go in and lay him down and pat his back but as soon as I leave he gets upset. It's been about 20 minutes and he's still putting up a fight. Can't win 'em all I suppose.

I'm still so happy that this transition is going well. The crib will be a distant memory for Evan when baby #2 starts to use it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Operation Big Boy Bed- Night 1

It's about 9:00. Evan cried for 10 minutes then fell asleep in his new toddler bed. Slept of for 45 minutes and is crying again. I patted his back and he went to sleep but as soon as I left the room he was at it again. This is going to be a long night.

We decided to start the transition now because we don't want to buy another crib or try to transition after the baby is here. I don't want to spark up any jealousy or possessive issues or make things harder than they need to be. We got Evan a toddler bed from Amazon since I wasn't pleased with the crappy choices in the store. It's a great frame and matches our current furniture, too. We had to buy another crib mattress since that's what fits the toddler bed but the bed holds up to 50 pounds so he can use it for a while.

I'm hoping things won't be awful for too long since he is good at taking naps on his mat at school. We had to use a gate on his bedroom door. I had a terrible nightmare that Evan came out of his room in the middle of the night and the dogs mistook him for an intruder. It was a sign. It'll prevent the dogs from going in to his room and bugging him. Also, I can picture Evan getting up before us and playing in the cat box. Not cool. Plus, since he is too young to follow directions well (stay in your room) this will help him understand that night-night time means you stay in your room.

I'm hoping by Monday night, things will settle down. We'll see!

Update: He did sooo good. Much better than I anticipated. I thought we'd be up the whole night. He was up at 9:00 and again at 2:30. At 9:00 I patted his back and he went back to sleep. I wasn't so lucky at 2:30. I tried to pat his back for 45 minutes but he wasn't going back to sleep. I kissed him and said "night-night," and left the room. He cried and I stood around the corner feeling horrible. He cried for a couple of minutes and walked back to his bed. He slept until 7:30! I heard him get up and play a little before yelling for us. I made sure to make a big deal about him doing such a good job. I went in with a big smile and gave lots of hugs and kisses while telling him how proud I am of him. He was all smiles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

surviving the grocery store.....with a toddler

There are some things we have to do. Some things aren't fun. They are boring and you'd rather be doing something else. If I feel like that at times, imagine how an energetic and adventurous toddler feels.

I actually don't mind the grocery store, if it's just me. It's sort of therapeutic in a way. My toddler doesn't feel the same way. He's like this little ticking time bomb. He'll do really well in the cart for about 15-20 minutes but then get antsy and frustrated with being strapped in. He'll wiggle and try and get out, he'll yell and whine and throw all of his toys out. I carry a pacifier for extreme measures and meltdowns but I don't rely on it.

I've learned a couple of tricks to keeping his frustration at bay so that we can make it through a trip to the store, no matter how lengthy.
  • Snacks. Have a few different choices in your bag. I bring small containers of graham crackers, grapes, cheese chunks, pretzels, apple slices or even a cubed almond butter and jelly sandwich. He holds on to the container and leisurely munches while I get the shopping done. This helped me survive an hour long trip to the grocery store today. 
  • Toys. Bring ones that he hasn't played with recently. Maybe ones that he only sees when you go to the store. Give them to him one at a time. He'll be interested in it for a bit then trade out the toy for a different one. This will buy you some time.
  • A box of pasta. I give Evan a box of rotini (which I buy weekly) to play with. He can shake it to make noise and he examines the package. I look for other items like cereal or something with a crinkly package that will entertain him. This will occupy him for a few minutes so I can get through the checkout line.
  • A water bottle. I keep one in my purse because Evan likes to open it and close it and drink out of it and shake it. If it's a disposable one, he likes to crunch it up to make sounds.
  • Go for the friendly looking cashier! I've found it really helpful to get the cashier who talks to my kid. It quiets him down and gets his focus on this new person that is paying attention to him. This is a life saver since the meltdowns come at the end of the trip which happens to be in the checkout line when you are in tight quarters with a lot of people. 
So there you have it. My grocery store survival guide. What do you do to make the trips to the store more bearable? 

Friday, December 9, 2011

chicken with apples, raisins and olives

I don't want to talk about how tired I am at the end of the day or how much I'd love to soak in a hot bath because my back is aching from growing this baby or how I just want to spend some quality time playing with my toddler who I've missed all day. I don't want to talk about any of that.

Lets talk about how quickly throwing together some ingredients can make a dish that warms my tummy and puts a smile on my face. Lets talk about how getting crazy in the kitchen can dust off those creative muscles and help you forget the day.

I first saw this recipe in a Rachael Ray magazine but I added my own twists and now it's among my favorites in the week night rotation. My heart sings for these flavor combinations. This dish feels so cozy and fall-ish but it's easy on the waist and wallet. I love how versitle it is, too.

I LOVE the combo of warm, sweet apples and raisins with tart green olives. Reading the recipe, I thought it was strange, too, but I was oh-so wrong. It makes me ravenous. I really think the couscous helps unite the whole dish, so don't try and sub flavorless rice or something for it. Plus couscous is so quick, you'll cheat yourself if you try rice instead. The other ingredients though, they are totally game for substitutions.
chicken with apples, raisins and olives

1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1-2 chicken breasts, cut up into bite sized chunks
salt and pepper
1/2 of a large sweet onion
1 apple (I had Jonagold on hand)
1/2 c raisins
1/3 c water
1/4 tsp cinnamon
handful of green olives, chopped
1 package of garlic and olive oil couscous, prepared

Make it:
Heat butter and oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chicken and season with salt and pepper. When chicken is done, remove from pan and set aside. Add onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add apples, raisins, water and cinnamon. Simmer for 5 minutes until apples are fork tender. Add chicken back to the pan and simmer for another 2 minutes. Add in chopped olives and stir to combine.

Serve chicken mixture and some of the pan juices over the couscous. I added zucchini on the side to round out the meal.

This meal is so easy, cheap and yummy and can be tailored to your taste or what you have on hand. I'm going to try making it vegetarian by using roasted butternut squash instead of chicken. A handful of walnuts would be awesome for added crunch. Black olives would work just as well. Get creative.

Note: This made enough for my family of 3 (2 adults and 1 toddler) with no leftovers.

You could totally make this in 10 minutes if you prep a bit the night before!

  1. Chop chicken, onions and olives. Store separately.
That's it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Plans for 2012

I'm a nerd. You may have noticed when I confessed my love for my planner. I also love to make lists. And check things off. So, I can't help but begin thinking about what 2012 might bring. Like a lot of people, I end up making new year's resolutions that I forget about by January 2nd. I want to change that this year.

It's just a list to guide my focus so I can manage my time better and achieve my goals. In 2011 I was unfocused and my energy was spread too thin. I tried to do too much at once and at times, didn't enjoy any of it. I felt all over the place. I feel like getting in control of my time and focus will allow me to accomplish more and enjoy more. It will also let me get a lot of use out of my awesome planner!

Balancing a full time job, toddler, housekeeping, husband tending, dog tending and a few hobbies have left me drained and frustrated. I am on a mission to change this. I've rekindled my love for cooking and found shortcuts and ways to make it happen so I'm optimistic I can do a better job at balancing the rest in 2012.

Adding another baby to the equation makes this even more important to me. More like a method of survival. My plan is to use a monthly outline of what I want to focus on. Then, after the month is over, I'll move to the next focus area and I can choose to keep up any routines or processes that stick. I'm hoping this will get me on the road to better habits because of the month long practice. So here it goes......

Of course the monthly focuses might change depending on certain circumstances but it's a start and a reminder that I don't have to do everything at once. I can spread my goals out over time and still achieve them.

So, the expanded version of the "2012 General Outlook": Save money (no big projects or purchases in 2012), home organization (make the most of our small space), memory making (pictures, baby books, photobooks, outings), health (exercise, eat less meat, more veggies and more water).

To get a jump start on my year long project, for December 2011 I'll focus on home organization (garage cleaning, closet purging, cabinet organizing, pantry organizing).

I have to remind myself that these are simply guidelines and if it doesn't happen, that's ok. These have to be kept loose or I'll beat myself up every time something slips through my fingers. I'm excited for 2012 and all the fun and hard work it's bound to bring.

What are you planning for 2012?

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