December 31, 2011

December 2011 Update

We survived another holiday season. Other than the fact that I was behind on shopping until the very last second, it wasn't too bad.

Skylar was a wee bit skeptical of Santa this year. Not him so much as the fact of whether he exists or not. Red Robin, our Elf on the Shelf, certainly helped her to believe. She loves that little elf and was SO sad when he had to go back to the North Pole. Last year, that elf was on the chopping block as I feared he took away too much of the meaning of Christmas. While there was still some of the gimme-gimme-presents attitude still going on this year, she was much more concerned with making sure her "friend" came back each day. It gave her a bit of a sparkle and left some of the magic alive. It was just the right amount of make believe so I decided he could stay.

One of my new favorite holiday traditions is going to the Nashville Christmas parade. This year it wasn't freezing cold, which was nice and our best parade buds were there with us. Skylar loves the bands and spent the majority of the parade "drumming" with her cotton candy stick. The best part of our little holiday tradition is visiting Krispy Kreme afterwards. What can I say, I'm a sucker for the Hot Dounughts Now sign. :)

Another fun thing for this year was making homemade gifts. I won't say that I'm addicted to Pinterest but it certainly gave me a lot of ideas. I think all of our little homemade gifts turned out very cute. Even Mike got in on the action by making some wooden blocks for our youngest nephew.

We spent Christmas with Mike's family and my Dad, Mimi, & Whitney came up to visit shortly after Christmas. In fact, Skylar went back with them and is spending a few days making her rounds in Alabama. Mike and I are busy trying to get this house back in order. So much has fallen to the wayside in the past few months with me working an extra job and Mike working too. I'm hoping we can get on track to start 2012 on the right foot.

As for Mike and I, we are doing well. Mike has recently started playing the trumpet again and is enjoying that. As for me, I am finally registering to get my doula certification. It's been a long-time goal of mine and I am finally going for it.

Thanks for following along with our little family this year. We are looking forward to 2012!

a look back at my 2011 resolutions

It's the last day of 2011 and I thought it would be a very appropriate time to look back at my resolutions and document how I did. (Stay tuned for my 2012 resolutions.)

In 2011, I resolved to
  1. Have a date with my hubby once a month. We certainly had more dates than usual this year although many of them weren't exactly labeled "date night." It was still nice to have alone time together. As our dear daughter gets older, it's certainly easier to find time and friends to pawn her off on. I love my little village of people (you know who you are)! I did establish a Date-Night Budget as part of our finances, which has a surplus at the moment.
  2. Exercise twice a week. On average, I would say that I exercised once a week. I'm still in love with hot yoga but, with me going back to work, it's been hard to go more than once a week. I love going on Sunday nights and I have tried to do everything in my power to make that class. Even hubby went with me a few times. I really need to work on spending time with my mat at home during the week. Then again, there's just no substitute for Misty and The Hot Yoga House.
  3. Floss regularly. Yeah, I'm just not a big flosser. I just don't see the point really but I did try. I have plenty of those little floss pick thingies but I just couldn't make it a part of my daily routine. I'm sure my mom, the dental hygienist, is cringing at the moment.
  4. Journal often. This one I definitely did. I blogged and I also took up journaling in the traditional way. Our family went through some tough things this year and I wasn't necessarily willing to announce our issues to the world but I still felt the need to document what was happening. Journaling is also therapeutic for me. So, I bought a journal and wrote! Mission accomplished.
  5. Learn to shoot a gun. I can't say that I'm a proficient gun user at this point but I did shoot A gun this year. It was down at my Dad's on the back property with just me and the hubs. It was nice and I wasn't completely turned off by it as I thought I might be. I didn't necessarily love it but I'm willing to keep trying.
  6. Eat dinner together as a family. We did really great at this for most of the year. I had actually forgotten that this was one of my resolutions. We certainly all ate together most nights but it wasn't always at the dining room table as I had initially planned. Now that Christmas is packed away and the dining room has been reclaimed, we should easily get back on track with this one.
  7. Transition to a paper-free kitchen. I'm still working on this one. I'm certainly using much less paper in the kitchen but we aren't totally paper free at this point. I bought some terry cloth pads that I use for wiping down the counters/table each night and we have a designated towel that is used for drying hands. My mom just got me some home-made hand towels that have the little crocheted loop at the top so that I can place them around the kitchen where they stay put. I can't wait to start using those!
How did you do with your resolutions last year?

September 24, 2011

Joy Abounds (a love list of sorts)

So today was quite possibly one of the best days I've had in a loooooong time. It was seriously perfect. All day long I kept adding things to my list that were making this span of 24 hours so fantastic. Technically, it started yesterday around 2:00 and just kept going. So, to mimic one of my favorite bloggers and her Love Lists, here's mine.

Friday -

Finished a HUGE project for work (my new job) that I had been given the previous afternoon and I deemed it impossible to finish by the given deadline. I miraculously managed to get it done and I walked out of Kinko's grinning from ear to ear. I even impressed myself on that one.

Sleepover with my LifeGroup ladies. We had so much fun. We ate, and ate, and ate. Okay, maybe that was just me but it was all so delicious. I was still eating a piece of cookie cake at 11:30 but no sleeopver is complete without late night snacks. Right?! We laughed. A lot. We discussed a variety of topics. Some PG. Some not. It was a blast!

Saturday -

Slept for 8 hours. The last 2 weeks have been nuts. I've been learning the ropes of my new job (which I love, by the way), plus doing my old job, plus fulfilling my consignment responsibilities, plus keeping up with all the other irons I have in fires right now. I haven't slept much. At all. I actually woke up this morning and felt rested. Like, for real. It was a wonderful feeling. Sleep is not overrated. Trust me.

Love letter from my fella. Me & the hubs have been working on some things and boy are they looking up. I arrived home from my sleepover to a clean house and a love letter. *swoon*

Lowe's Build & Grow Clinic. Hubby is now working Saturday's so me and the girl have been going to these free weekend workshops. Today, we worked together to build a firetruck. She did so fantastic following the picture directions. They also had set the clinic up outside because it was so stinking gorgeous out today. However, the wind was blowing the little plastic parts bags everywhere. When we where done, my green girl walked around picking up everyone else's trash. *melt*

Picnic at the park. We had the rest of the day ahead of us and decided to pack a lunch and stroll the wagon down to the pirate park near our house. I'm so thankful that we have such a great little playground within walking distance. We spread out our blanket and munched and talked. It was precious!

The weather. Have I mentioned yet how absolutely gorgeous it was today? Not hot. Not cold but kinda cloudy yet the sun peeked through at all the right moments. The weather had a lot to do with my mood today. It was dog gone amazing!

Sweet statements by my girl. The Little Girl was in a super sweet mood today. I think her heart had an extra measure of joy too. She would randomly say, "Isn't this a beautiful day" or "I really like spending time with you." *more melting*

Hide & Seek. For a while, it was just me and Missy Prissy at the park and we played a rousing game of hide & seek. Behind trees, on the playground, down the hill. She's a pretty good hider, and seeker for that matter.

Snuggles from my girl. Remember all those sweet statements? Well, she was also very open to snuggles and hand holding today as well. She would run off and play and then come back and ask to sit in my lap. When we would walk, she would reach up and grab my hand. *I'm a puddle at this point* We spent some time just laying on our blanket looking up at the sky and chatting about the clouds. Then we just lay quietly for a spell. I was giving back rubs a plenty too.

Spending all day outside. We were at the park all. day. long. It was too perfect to go inside and we were just delighting in the day. Skylar made friend after friend and I adored watching her use her manners and people skills.

Being able to talk to God anytime I want. I used a lot of the quiet moments today just praying for the things that are heavy on my heart and thanking Him over and over again for the peace and joy and happiness I felt today.

Roasted vegetables for dinner. I just learned how to make roasted vegetables last year and it has become one of my favorite things to eat. I was gonna make some chicken to go with them but I ended up slicing so many veggies that I was content with just that. Plus, I got to use fresh herbs from MY garden. Man-O-Man they were delish! I also used the left over olive oil brushed on some French bread. Yummy doesn't even describe it.

The day is still going. Hubby just gone home from work and tucked the wee one into bed. Who knows what the rest of the day will hold but I'm perfectly happy and full of joy right now. I wish every day could feel as good as this one did.

August 31, 2011

Why you should NEVER ask a woman if she is pregnant

*Disclaimer:* I needed to get out some emotions and frustrations today. However, I do think this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Feel free to skip to the Public Service Announcement at the bottom. Just doing my part to educate the masses. :)

At church this past week, I got asked not once but TWICE if I were pregnant. I'm indeed not. I'm pretty sure there is a cardinal rule out there that you never, and I mean NEVER, ask a woman if she is pregnant. You might as well walk up to her and say, "how much do you weigh?" Tisk. Tisk. (See update below for offender #2)

The fact is that I get asked if I'm pregnant a lot. I can recall for you each and every time, where I was, who asked me, and what I was wearing. The reason I can remember what I was wearing is because I have never worn those outfits again. Even my little (ha!) black dress from the most recent incident is in danger of going down in flames.

The problem is that I know how my tummy looks. Trust me, I see it every day. The bigger problem, it isn't going anywhere. Even when I was 10 pounds lighter (at the end of my breastfeeding era), the tummy was still there. I've been doing hot yoga regularly since last October. Still there. It will always be there for a couple of reasons.
  1. I have a hideous C-section scar that is indented down to the muscle thus making the upper part of my tummy stick over and out. Basically, I have a surgical muffin top going on. How's that for a visual?
  2. I have a rectus diastasis, meaning that my abdominal muscles are separated, never to go back together again.
I suspected that I had a small diastasis before I was pregnant. Why? Because the first time I was asked the infamous question was before I was married. I blame it on the coach in high school who made us hold leg raises every day for 1 minute. If one person dropped their legs then we had to start over. So we all struggled to get it right no matter what the cost. If you don't do abdominal exercises properly, they actually do more harm than good. After gaining excessive amounts of fluid in the last months of my pregnancy and delivering my nearly 10-pound daughter, there was no going back for my poor abs.

I didn't even know that there was a proper name for this until I started working for a plastic surgeon's office. You know what? This diastasis issue is pretty common. Lots of women come in with this exact problem. At least I'm not alone, right?! I always thought that a tummy tuck was just removing fat. Nope. In fact, the main thing they accomplish is sewing your stomach muscles back together. It's kinda like when you suck in, because that forces the muscles back together for a second. The surgeon does that permanently for you. Nice, huh? Sign me up. Seriously, it's next on my list. Not kidding.

The reason the pregnancy question offends me so much (other than the fact that it is just plain RUDE) is because I don't necessarily want to have other children. That's not to say that I won't change my mind (MUCH) later down the road, but it's not even on the horizon for me right now. Mainly because I have my heart (and hands) full with the child I already have. I don't think I could cope, mentally or physically, with another one. Also, if you haven't noticed, pregnancy was not kind to me. My delivery was less than ideal to boot. In fact, the whole thing was a nightmare and the exact opposite from what I wanted. Agreeing (or being forced) into that C-section is quite possibly the worst decision and event that has ever happened to me. It still haunts me. So, every time the "are you pregnant" question is raised, my mind automatically reflects to all the negatives that I experienced. Naturally, the every day Joe can't possibly know this about me but the effect happens just the same.

Asking someone if they are pregnant, when they are indeed not, is the kind of thing that could make a woman jump off a bridge. It can be detrimental to her self-esteem. Luckily, I'm in a good state of mind these days and I have a decent sense of humor. Plus, I'm pretty forgiving. In all honesty, the pregnancy question is getting quite comical. I mean, each and every time is emotionally scarring and inflicts insecurity, but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Do NOT ever, ever, EVER ask a woman if she is pregnant!

*Update: One of the folks who questioned my midsection did approach me today (before this post went live) and apologized profoundly for what happened. Said they have felt horrible about it since it happened and generally always follow the above rule. Since I'm a nice gal with a good sense of humor, and because they were genuine and sincere, I forgave them. I guess there is hope for humanity after all. :)

RECIPE: Chicken Parmesan Lasagna

I made a little dish the other night that got rave reviews by my family and several folks requested the recipe. The truth is, I don't have a recipe. I totally made it up on the fly. Don't go thinking that I'm Betty Crocker. I'm not. I just got lucky this time.

I was making my meal plan for the week and asked hubby if he had any special requests. He threw out Chicken Parmesan. Easy enough, except I didn't have any spaghetti noodles on hand. He mentioned making some sort of lasagna instead but with chicken. I mean, Italian is Italian after all. The ingredients are basically the same just paired in a different way. Kinda like Taco Bell. They are the only chain I know of that can take the same 5 ingredients and continue to make up new stuff. You know it's true. Marketing, it's a wonderful thing!

So, here is my "recipe". Feel free to alter it and make it your own.

9 lasagna noodles
2 cups chicken breasts
1 egg
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 jar spaghetti sauce, garden variety*
1 package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package parmesan cheese
coconut/olive oil
some picky but unsuspecting dinner guests

Cook noodles according to package directions. Chop chicken into bite size pieces. Put in egg bath then cover with bread crumbs. Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken. Cook until no longer pink in the center. In your 9x13 pan, cover the bottom with a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Put down 3 noodles. Top with a thin layer of sauce, 1 cup chicken, 1/2 cup** of both cheeses. Repeat. Cover the top layer of noodles with more sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes***.

*If you have super picky eaters, you could puree the sauce so they don't see the vegetables.
**Seriously, I didn't measure the cheese. I just sprinkled to my heart's content. We like cheese!
***I have no idea how long I let it cook. Technically it's all precooked and you are just wanting the cheese to melt. I left mine in until the bread was done.

No picture of the dish. Maybe next time. I wasn't expecting it to be so popular but I'm glad it was. In the words of Skylar (before EVERY meal), Bon Appetite! :)

August 17, 2011

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

1st Day of PreK

The new school year has started. I'll be honest, I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. I find this highly unusual for me. I LOVE routine. I like knowing what to expect and being able to plan based on those expectations.

Mainly, I think I'm just having a hard time letting go of summer. For one, the weather has finally cooled off just a smidge (also unusual for August) so it's actually enjoyable to be outside in the evening. Don't get me wrong. I love ALL of summer, even the heat, but this July was a scorcher. Even for me. Secondly, there was no real agenda this summer other than to have fun and keep our household running. There was no rush to be in bed by a certain time. No rush to get out the door every morning. We just kinda went with the flow. Fast forward to now when the clock is set for 6:00. Oiy!

Skylar, however, appears to be adjusting well to with returning to the school schedule. We've managed to get her in bed by 8 each night, with no major fussing, and have gotten to school early every day (granted, we are only on day 3). I think the ease of this transition has a lot to do with something we put into place last year: Morning and Bedtime Charts.

These are really helpful for me too, especially the bedtime routine. Because there is an associated time for each item, I know that I must stop whatever I am working on by 7:20 or else it will be my fault if she is in bed later than 8. The time stamps are also helpful for Skylar who can easily drag the nightly routine on and on and on. We have a portable clock that we carry from room to room as we complete the chart. If she gets behind on an item, she runs the risk of mom choosing the uniform for the next day or being cut short on books (her two favorite parts). It's also helpful because it isn't "me" telling her what is next. I blame it on the chart. "The chart says it's time to brush your teeth." That usually eliminates the power struggle.

The Get Ready Chart doesn't have time stamps because she wakes up at various times each morning. I wish her wake up time was more predictable but it never has been. It may be 6 am tomorrow and then I have to drag her out of bed at 7 the following morning. You just never know. I try to be up by 6:15 and showered and ready so I can help her when she wakes up. If she gets up before I'm ready, she gets to snuggle in my bed until I'm done. The ultimate goal is to be downstairs by 7:15 for me to make her lunch and be pulling out by 7:35. If she gets ready early then she gets to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse until it's time to go. I've learned to turn the TV off as soon as Mickey goes off. Otherwise, she hears the start up music for Jake and the Neverland Pirates. If that happens, getting her in the car looks more like trying to put a cat in a swimming pool.

I have been really pleased with how well she has adjusted to getting back on track with our school routine. Now, if I can only get myself to get with the program. Somehow 11 pm has become my new bedtime and 6 am comes pretty quickly. I'm a 9-hours of sleep per night kinda gal. Then again, I haven't had 9 hours of solid sleep in Lord knows when. :/

How are you and yours getting back into the swing of things?

August 9, 2011

Sentimental... that even the right word?

I'm not sure.

All I know for certain is that The Little Girl is growing up and I don't like it. Not one bit. She's always been big for her age. She came into the world practically weighing 10 pounds and hasn't stopped growing. I never got the chance to snuggle an itty bitty. She's always had her own little line on the growth chart well above the 95th percentile. When she finally made it onto the chart for weight, she made up for it in height. Even recently, the child grew 7 inches from age 3-4!!! People always assume she is older than she is. It's happened several times this summer that I've been asked if she is going into 1st grade this year. Um, no. Pre-K.

I remember the 1st time I flew with her and received all sorts of nasty looks when she decided she was O-V-E-R being on that plane. One woman even said, "Oh, she must be 2." Not quite, we were just a few months out from her turning 1. Skylar was a passy-holic and held onto it for dear life until 2.5, except that she was as tall as a 4 year old. That didn't go over well with some folks. And when those terrible twos rared their ugly head and public tantrums were common, I didn't get much sympathy from the public because they "assumed" that she was much older than she actually was and therefore "assumed" that she should be in better control of her behavior. Not so. Or the time when she was in swimming lessons and had the skills to move to the next class but her teacher didn't realize that she wasn't emotionally ready to be in a class without mommy. The other kids were 3-3.5 and my baby had just had her 2nd birthday. That was the year she refused to swim at all. Looking back, I'm not surprised.

And now, my "baby" is physically too big to be held but, at a mere 4.5 (BTW, she's quite proud of that half), she still wants to be held and emotionally needs to be held. As her mommy, I still want to hold her and need to hold her. I remember someone telling me once that "they are always smaller in your arms." Oh this is so true. I remember nursing her when she was almost 2. The feet that used to be cuddled up in my lap now dangled well over my legs but she was still just a baby in my eyes. Even now, I can tuck her up into a ball and she seems smaller but those legs are O so long.

I'm in a strange emotional place these days. I'm wondering if this is what "baby fever" feels like? Is it when you realize that your babe has grown too big to be picked up and held and you yearn for another little warm, snuggly body to hold? I want that, I really do. However, I don't want a new little body to snuggle. I just want my big girl to be a baby again. I want to do it all over again, with her.

In some ways, I'm downright mad that she has always been accused of being older than she actually is. I've even been guilty of expecting things from her because she appears a more mature age. I wonder if she has been emotionally scarred in some way because expectations are always higher for her. Especially those emotional and behavioral expectations that she can't or isn't ready to meet. In other ways, having her look older has provided some opportunities for her to do things that an average-sized child couldn't.

Regardless, I'm having a hard time with the sheer size of her these days. I desperately want to scoop her up and slather her with kisses and put her in a sling and carry her around with me. I miss that part. I miss having her fall asleep in my arms. I miss having her snuggled into my chest. I miss baby breath.

I remember trying to cherish the moments when she was little. I really took notice of the comments that "they grow up so fast" and tried to stuff my brain with those memories. I also remember getting to a point where I wanted to help foster her independence to get her out from under my every move. I wish I had the patience back then that I have gained now.

There is really no good way to end this blog post. I've come to no great revelations after typing out my feelings. I'm some ways, I feel I've been cheated. I feel she has too. Basically, I just want my baby to stop growing and be little again. End of story.

August 1, 2011

Life Lesson: Go For It!

I took The Little Girl to Monkey Joes over the weekend. She had been kind enough to be stuck at home with a sick mommy and not drive me insane. I thought we both deserved a treat. I got a milkshake for my sore throat. She got to play and bounce around. Win-Win!

Parents can't play at Monkey Joes so she had to do the inflatables on her own. I knew she was happy just to be out of the house so I wasn't too concerned that our impromptu trip was without friends. She did great for about 15-20 minutes be-bopping from one slide to another but I could tell she was getting bored, fast. Then, Monkey Joe himself comes out from a birthday party and begins to make his way back to the office. Skylar stopped dead in her tracks. She looked at me and said "C'mon Mom" and we started off in his direction. She stayed at a cautious distance. Every few steps she would turn to make sure I was right there with her. Some other kids had rushed up to him and their mom snapped a quick iPhone photo. Skylar still stood a safe distance away. Having been a school mascot before, I know for a fact that if you aren't directly in front of the character, they have no idea you even exist because they can't see you. After the photo with the other kids Monkey Joe headed for the break room. Skylar stalked after him and then turned to me in utter disappointment when she realized he wasn't coming back. "But, Mom, I wanted to see him."

We took our popsicle and headed to sit down. With my arm around her, I said, "Honey, I'm gonna tell you something that is called a Life Lesson. This is something that can be used in many different situations. When there is something that you want or something that you want to do, you just have to go for it. You can't be worried about what other people will think and be wondering if there is someone to go with you. If you truly want something then you just have to go for it on your own."

We talked about the situation with Monkey Joe and I left it alone hoping she somehow grasped this important lesson that I was trying to share with her but she was still pretty pouty. A few minutes later she got up to go play and then game running back to me saying, with great excitement, "Mommy, you know what? I made up my mind and I decided to do something!"

"Okay, honey. Great! What is it?"

"I decided I am going to make a friend and play" and off she went.

Now, I could end the post right here and be so proud but the part after this is another lesson to be learned.

I saw that she had her eye on a little boy probably twice her age, so probably 7 or 8. He had on a green shirt. She followed him in and out of every bouncy thing he tried. Let me tell ya, he was fast. I heard her call out to him "Wait, wait!" He was so fast that she never even got a chance to catch him and ask him to play with her. He was clearly uninterested.

I can't tell you how sad I was as a parent to watch her try so hard to make a friend but never even get the chance to introduce herself. I thought about intervening. Trying to explain to her that this boy was a lot older and was playing with his brother and she might want to try to find someone closer to her age to play with. I refrained. Eventually, she did make another friend, all own her own. She made friends with the green-shirt boy's even older sister. Ha!

Moral of the story: If you can't get a boy to notice you, make friends with his sibling.

Oh, wait. Not that! I meant....

Always go for what you want and keep trying. You might find something better along the way.

July 29, 2011

Mommy Sick Day(s)

I posted yesterday that I was sick. I worried that it might get worse before it got better. Oh how that proved to be true. My fever got up to 101 and then 102 and was inching ever so closely to 103. For the record, that's where I draw the line.

Staci's Fever Rule: No fever-reducing agents unless said person is absolutely miserable or has a fever greater than 103.

Otherwise, those meds do more harm than good. Remember, the body spikes a fever as a natural method to ward off infection. Let it do it's job.

I don't think I made it to 103 but at one point I stopped checking. If I heard that "BEEEEP" in my ear one more time I was gonna sling the thermometer. I never made it off the couch until around 7:30 last night. I even held off on going to the bathroom because it took sheer amounts of will power to even look in the direction of the half bath, much less drag myself the 5 steps to get there.

I literally thought I was dying yesterday. At one point, in my fever stupor, I thought to myself "so, this is what dying feels like." I'm not even kidding. I even went so far as to write out mental letters to all my family & friends with what I wanted them to know. It was pitiful. I tried to watch TV but that was irritating. Especially because it was left on TLC, which was showing A Baby Story and Make Room for Multiples and various other birth shows with C-section after C-section. Bah! I didn't have it in me to channel surf. Most of the day I just laid on the couch in silence left alone with my thoughts. Dangerous stuff right there. I prayed often when I could find the strength to collect my thoughts for a moment or two. I'm telling you, I was in BAD shape.

I eventually collected enough umph to meander to the pantry where I dug around and found a can of chicken noodle soup. I put it on to cook and then went straight back to the couch. Several minutes later I realize I'm going to have to go get my soup, but I just couldn't do it. It was in the danger zone of becoming scorched soup but I managed to climb off the couch for a second time. After lunch, I remained on the couch indefinitely. My back was killing me from all that laying. Ouch!

At some point, I made the call to my dear mother-in-law who said she could pick up Skylar from school and take her home until hubby got off work. Praise the Lord! So my afternoon continued in silence and the occasional attempt to watch TV without much success. When I wasn't freezing I was sweating and my throat started burning. This is definitely worse!

Around 7ish I decide that it might help my back to take a hot shower. It took me 30 minutes to finally drag my booty upstairs. Turns out I hated every bit of the shower. I was in one of my freezing moments and no matter how hot I turned the knob, it was never enough. I eventually tried soaking in the tub but it wasn't much better. Washing my face caused me to touch my neck and realize that my lymph nodes were VERY tender. Uh oh!

Hubby arrived with The Little Girl right when I got out so then I had her to wrangle her into the bathtub. It was rumored that she was also running a low-grade fever so I wanted her to get a bath that night to avoid making her take one when she was in the throws of a big fever that makes you freeze/sweat. Her listening ears must have gotten left at school that day. She knew I wasn't up to a battle and wasn't really interested in my agenda to get a bath nor was she in any sort of a hurry to do anything. I'm guessing that part of this was the fact that she hadn't seen me all day and was wanting to drag things out in order to sneak in some Mommy time. I wasn't having it. Sorry kiddo.

I attempted to eat some chicken noodle soup that hubby's mom made for me. It was so delicious and definitely homemade. However, my throat was so raw and tight that every single bite burned like the dickens. I tried to power through as many bites as possible before I had to give up. I was so sad because it was SO good. And because I was REALLY hungry. :(

Hubby suggested that since us girls both had a fever that we should both sleep together and he would sleep in the guest room. Probably best to quarantine ourselves and I had to agree. We need at least one functional person around here.

Skylar slept through the night just fine and woke up with no fever. Whoo hoo!! I woke up soaking wet again from sweating and noticed that now it hurt to even swallow my own saliva. Not good. You know your throat hurts when you resort to spitting EVERY TIME you need to swallow. Have you ever noticed how many times you swallow during the day? Trust me when I say, its a lot! When I did have to swallow it, honest to goodness, felt like my throat was a pin cushion. It was beyond painful.

Despite the fact that my fever was gone, the lymph nodes in my neck were now the size of ping pong balls. Eating was out of the question, so we got dressed and headed straight for The Little Clinic. Thankfully, I was seen right away. The PA said I had all the classic signs of Strep and since I didn't have insurance she wouldn't even bother to test me. She said that even if it came back negative, my fever and swollen glands were enough for her to treat me for a bacterial infection.

I took my prescription straight to Publix because it was for one of their FREE antibiotics. Had I been able to eat I may have chosen to hold off on the antibiotic one more day. I've read studies that Strep can clear up on its own. But, without nourishment there was no way that I would get better on my own. So, I came home, held the counter tightly, and swallowed a double-dose of antibiotics. At this point, I really wanted to die! Oooooowwwwww!

I tried to lay down to take a nap with Skylar but that meant I couldn't spit so it was a no go. For the record, I know how gross it is to spit. It's gross to write about it much less do it. Still, it's either spit OR swallow & scream. I think the later would probably do twice the damage.

I finally told Skylar that Mommy can't talk any more because even opening my mouth stretches the back of my throat and is ooouuucchhhyy!!

I'm really bummed about taking antibiotics. I haven't taken them in almost 5 years! I know there are folks who think I'm hard headed about this stuff but I much prefer to let my body work the way it is meant to. We are self-healing creatures. But, at this point, I just want to feel better. I'm hurting in a bad way. After that dose of antibiotics I can't even convince myself to go through the pain again to take ibuprofen.

So, that's my update for the past two days. Hopefully I will be in better spirits tomorrow.

Now, please excuse me, I have to go spit! ;)

July 28, 2011

Mama Down. I repeat, Mama Down!

I'm sick. Like in the bed kinda sick. Ok, technically I have moved to the couch but there will not be much moving around for me today. I've got a low-grade fever, headache, and really sore throat. My eyes have finally stopped burning, which I'm hoping means the fever is on its way out!

Naturally, no one likes being sick but, for me, I know exactly why I'm sick. I'm a 100% believer that we let ourselves get sick. It's the same reason we don't vaccinate. I whole-heartedly believe that God made our bodies amazingly well and that if we take care of them (by resting, eating healthy foods, and exercising) they will be strong enough to fight off germs both big and small.

Our family is in a little bit of an adjustment period right now. I've been reluctant to write about it but since I'm incapacitated today, there's no time like the present. Right?!

Ok, I guess it's best to start at the beginning. Here goes.

About six weeks ago Mike lost his job. It was sudden and unexpected but we both believed that it was for a reason and that better opportunities awaited us. He had been unhappy there for a while so we counted this as a blessing. I was calm. I was trusting. I was really impressed with myself because, as a Type A, my default response is to FREAK OUT when things are out of control or different from the norm. One, two, three, and four weeks went by. We had no leads and had been denied unemployment. Mike was home every day, and while he spent a lot of time tinkering in the garage, he was still in my "place of business." Our norm was way off kilter. During the summer, I feel like it's all I can do to stay afloat anyway with my work, my home responsibilities, and Skylar here. Besides, now I was drumming up appointments to deal with his 401K, Cobra insurance, IRAs, and various other items that go with loosing a long-time job. I didn't really mind hubby being around but my dreams of him being the extra help that I needed didn't exactly pan out. The panic about how we would pay for this or that started to creep in and I became cranky. This is the stressful part.

Because Mike had no work to report to the next day, he was content to stay up late. I tried to stay up too but we've known for a while that he simply requires less sleep than I do. This is the exhausting part.

Lo and behold, Mike did find a job and he loves where he is working now. Granted, the pay is about half (or less) that what he was making before but the atmosphere is GREAT! He is truly happy and this is reflected in his attitude. He doesn't mind going to work these days. In fact, he rather enjoys going in early. I love that he has found such a pleasant work environment! There are 2 downsides to this job. One, benefits are only provided to those in management positions. Two, it's retail, which means his hours are often late and his days off may change. Thankfully, they have been giving him the same schedule so that helps me to predict for the next week. Most days he doesn't get home until 7:45-8:00 p.m, which means he misses dinner. It's hard for me to get motivated to cook for just me and Skylar knowing that A) She probably won't eat what I make and B) Mike isn't the biggest fan of leftovers. So I've been eating terribly. In fact, we all have because it's whatever I can throw together. I've also been shopping less due to our finances. I can't get motivated to make a meal plan. I've still been going to hot yoga but I can only go two days a week in the summer because it's hard to arrange childcare for Skylar. So, this is the unhealthy part.

Basically, we are in an adjustment period trying to figure out what our "new" normal is. I prided myself on the fact that I hadn't really been stressing out but, when I look back, the stress was always there. I just chose to ignore it but it was there deep down. From past experience, I know full well that my body responds poorly to stress. I do feel like I've done a better job of handing it over to the Lord to deal with but I continued to let it eat at me instead of not worrying about it at all. I'm not perfect but I have felt myself growing through this situation.

I've always been pretty in-tune with my body. I can notice even the small things and I've been feeling "off" for about two weeks now. I thought I was getting sick last week but I bumped up my herbs and it went away. Saturday I felt dizzy and sore. I also felt like my vision was blurry. Sunday, we made an executive decision that the whole family needed rest so we left church after 1st service.

Then, yesterday I woke up with a sore throat. That progressed to chills and a stiff neck. I can tell if my temp is even slightly high at 99. Mine wavered back and forth between 100-101 all day. I felt horrible! I'm not a fan of fever-reducing agents because I know that the fever has to do it's job to heat up the body and rid itself of whatever is making it sick. But, by 9 p.m. I was done. I popped an Advil PM and headed for bed. I woke up around midnight soaking wet and changed clothes. I'm assuming this meant my fever had broken. It was a restless sleep for the remainder of the night. So far, today, my throat still hurts and my fever is wavering between 99-100. The body aches are better.

Still, I'm just so frustrated that I let myself get sick. I wasn't taking care of my body and now I'm paying for it. My greatest fear, of course, is that because we are all in this same mode of little sleep, lots of stress, and poor eating habits that we will all get sick. Have I mentioned that we don't have insurance right now? Good timing, huh? Not that I necessarily run to the doctor but this thing seems like its gonna get worse before it gets better. I pray it doesn't!

So, that's what's been going on with us. If you need me today, you can find me in this filthy house (because mama hasn't been able to tidy up for 2 days) on the couch. Or the bed. I might just spice it up a bit with a location change.

July 19, 2011

Things I Hope to Never Hear in a Real Restaurant

Tonight I was practicing reading with Skylar. I had the clipboard and was writing sentences for her. She took over the clipboard and proceeded to play "restaurant."

It was hilarious!!

She was scribbling on a piece of paper when I asked for 2 pieces of pizza. Then I prompted her to write the number two because I'm that mom who tries to sneak in education. Her response, "No, we write in English here." Huh?

Immediately following this she says, "This is an Indian restaurant." *scratching my head*

Then she says, "Excuse me ma'am. I have to go to the bathroom." Oh-kay. Well, at least she was polite about it.

Upon returning, we pick up right where we left off with ordering. Apparently, this restaurant only serves Dr. Pepper. She pauses and asks, "Ma'am, have you ever been to this restaurant before?" Um, I can definitely say that I have not.

Now gazing at her clipboard she mentions that her writing looks like Chinese. It looks like something alright!
In taking Mike's order, she asks if he would like to try the Shakalaka Pizza. The description included broccoli and cheese. Cool name. Not so sure the ingredients match the name.

Our restaurant game was interrupted by a little Skype session with my family back home where she proceeded to take their order as well.

Our little waitress went to get our food and returned with farm animals from her toy barn set. I was told I would have to eat a horse. Um, not so much.

And now, she's playing beauty salon with the dog.

Just another night at the Bishop hizzle with The Little Girl.

July 13, 2011

Tips for Taming A Busy Life

We are dead in the middle of summer break and things aren't slowing down around here. At. All. The go-go-go of summer can cause things to get rather hectic sometimes. I'm a big fan of being proactive. It saves time AND money. Trust me. Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite tips and tricks that make my life a little easier and more manageable when we are on the go.
  1. Smart Phone - I love my Sprint EVO Android phone. I can do anything from it that I can do from from my laptop. It's so nice to be able to have access to email and the Internet when we are out and about. I also enjoy having a built-in camera & camcorder with me at all times to capture our adventures.
  2. TweetDeck - Speaking of smartphones, this is probably my most used app. TweetDeck allows me to streamline my social media fix. I can view my Twitter and Facebook feeds, give my own updates, and get notifications all within the same program.
  3. Map Out Errands - I try not to be out and about every single day but it doesn't always happen. When we are headed out, I make a list of all the places I need to stop and put them in strategic order to avoid any backtracking. I also try to save up errands that are in close proximity to each other to be done on the same day thus avoiding driving all over creation.
  4. Pre-pack Snacks - I like to pack up little baggies of Chex Mix, Goldfish, cereal, or crackers so that they are ready and waiting anytime we need to dash out the door. Why? Because it is inevitable that my 4 year old will demand she is hungry within 5 minutes of being in the car. This saves me a stop plus gas station prices! Another favorite is to make up a bunch of PB&J sandwiches and freeze them in individual bags. In the summertime, they thaw out in no time flat.
  5. Google Calendar - Ok, this is my favorite time saver, ever! I love Google Calendar (and contacts) because I can access it from any computer or my phone. The best part is that I can sync with hubby's calendar so that we never double book. Okay, it's still been known to happen but not by me (love you honey!).
  6. Car Packed & Ready - I find it helpful to keep the car packed with an extra change of clothes plus other essentials like bottled water and nonperishable snacks for those just in case times. I always leave our folding lawn chairs and water toys packed in the summertime because you never know when we might just decide to stop off at the lake. Have I mentioned lately how much I love the lake. It's so relaxing. Sitting at the lake would be a nice time to sit back and have a Seattle's Best iced latte. Don't cha think?
  7. Purse Essentials - In my purse I always keep hand sanitizer, lip gloss, and Band-Aids. There's more in there than I care to admit but I find these items essential for a busy mom. I'd love to hear what your purse essentials are.
  8. Fill Up - I'm notorious for letting the gas get to E or below. During the busy summer months, I make it a point to always have gas in the car. There is nothing worse than bolting out the door in a rush, only to realize that you are going to have to stop by the gas station before you go anywhere. Boo!
  9. Front Door Station - We have a little area by the front door where we place items that we will need for the day or our next trip out. This can vary from a backpack, library books, sunglasses, bank deposit, ect. By keeping the items in the same place and RIGHT NEXT TO THE FRONT DOOR I'm less likely to forget them.
  10. Be Flexible - What's that saying, again? Best laid plans often go awry. Yeah, at our house we call it Murphy, as in Murphy's Law. Murphy happens a lot. Sometimes you just have to let it go. Mishaps happen, especially for families on the go. Just smile, take a yoga breath, regroup, and enjoy the adventure along the way.
I always hear about the lazy days of summer but I'm not so familiar with that part. Summertime usually means we are off track and off schedule. We are popping here and there to play and still trying to get all of the same errands done with my daughter in tow. The above tips certainly help to streamline the process.

How about you? Do you find life more or less hectic in the summertime? What do you to to keep things under control?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seattle’s Best Coffee blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

July 12, 2011

Summer Week at the Grandparents

As you all know, we recently let The Little Girl spend a week with my parents who live out of town. We tried out this little arrangement last year but it was only for about 3 days. This year we worked up to 5 days. Technically it was a full week but Mike & I were with her through the weekend and most of the July 4th holiday before heading home to Nashvegas. The grandparents practically let her get away with high-way robbery when we are there. I don't even want to know the extent to which they let her rule the roost when we are away. I don't mind. Really, I don't. I think it's perfectly fine for her to have one week of the year where she feels like she's the star of the show. Trust me when I say that, in Alabama, she is!

I think it's safe to say that she didn't really miss us. I mean, if you got to do all of these activities, would you be missing boring old mom & dad?
Wagon Parade on the 4th of July
Night Ride on the 4-Wheeler
Hands On Museum
Being Silly with Aunt Whitney

Other activities included swimming, crafting, reading, and a trip to the movie theater to see Cars 2, complete with popcorn.

Our little chickadee is now home, back in the nest, and re-adjusting to reality, but we've rather enjoyed hearing about all of the adventures she had last week. Plus, we can check off one more item on our Summer Fun list.

July 8, 2011

When the Cat's Away...

the mice will play!

And that's exactly what my wee one has done this week during her summer visit to the Grandparents. She's had a blast!

However, no one ever talks about the cat. What does the cat do when the mice are away?

The usual.

First, I gave myself an impossible to-do list of items I wanted to check off my list while The Little Girl was gone. I was hoping to be extra productive and power my way through it but, alas, it was indeed impossible. I did get quite a bit checked off but it's not 100%. Then again, it's pretty rare for me to have everything checked off. My t0-do list is never done. It's always growing. It's like a cruel magic trick. If I check one thing off, two more get added. It's the epitome of vicious cycle.

When I wasn't busy with my list, I was working. You know, the usual. When I wasn't busy with my list or working, I was wondering about my girl and curious about what she was up to at any given moment. This is not terribly unusual for me but it was a bit amplified knowing she was 225 miles away. If I went too long with out an update I would get anxious. I'm used to knowing where she is at all times and most of the time she is with me. The summer week at the Grandparents is a huge leap of faith for me. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the peace and quiet immensely but you can't turn off Mommy brain.

I wasn't all work and worry this week. The hubs and I snuggled on the couch in the evenings and watched movies completely interrupted. We baked cookies and didn't have to share. We went to bed late and slept in as best we could. You know, 7:30 is sleeping in when you are a parent of an early riser. Oh, and I did manage to sneak in an extra day of yoga. Go me! Let me tell ya, that is the one thing I am most looking forward to when school starts back. It makes me feel so good and I can tell a difference now that I'm not able to go as much.

Nonetheless, the girl has had a great time. I know because there is a sweet little invention called Skype, which I was rather grateful for this week. It's one thing to talk to her on the phone but being able to put my eyes on her is much, MUCH better. It puts my anxious Mommy's heart at ease.

I'm headed to pick her up in the morning and I can't wait. Sounds crazy, but I always love her a little bit more when she's been gone a few days. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Once I weasel some pictures out of the grandparents, I'll be able to better tell you about how they kept her busy for the past 5 days. Or is the other way around? Yeah, I'm pretty sure she kept THEM busy. :)

July 6, 2011

REVIEW: Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen)

I'll be honest. I had no idea this was even a book until the movie came out. I knew I wanted to see this movie. Come on. Reese Whitherspoon can do no wrong in my eyes and Robert Pattinson is rather easy on the eyes. It was a no brainer. Because I have a general rule about reading the book first, I submitted my request to the library... right behind about 100 other people. My turn finally came and I could not put this book down. I started it before we left for a weekend trip and stayed up until midnight on the 1st night of our trip to finish it.

This story is being retold through the memories of an old man now living in a nursing home. The sight of a circus setting up outside the windows triggers his thoughts and takes him back to a much earlier time in his life. Our main character, Jacob, meets unfortunate circumstances when his parents perish in a car accident right as he is about to take his final examinations to become a veterinarian. Emotionally distraught, he runs and ultimately, out of sheer desperation, jumps a train not realizing what he was about to get himself into. He quickly becomes acquainted with the ins and out of a traveling circus and proves to be much use to the team with his veterinary skills. There are parts of the circus that are as glamourous as you can imagine but most of it is downright shameful. The reader comes face-to-face with some brutal realities about life on the road for both the animals and their caretakers.

Jacob meets August (the boss) and Marlena (his wife). The Mrs. also happens to be a beautiful equine performer who is extremely loyal to her horses. A new elephant arrives on the scene and things start to get really interesting for this show but mostly behind the scenes. The new act puts Jacob working side-by-side Marlena and August on a daily basis. The physical attraction builds along with a heap of animosity on the side for the boss man. It's not without due cause as August has his fair share of unflattering flaws. Things get even more heated when the owner of the show solicits Jacob to try and patch things up between Marlena and her husband. If the duo doesn't work things out, Jacob is working against some pretty serious threats from the circus leader.

A chaotic turn of events puts everyone's life in danger but you'll have to read this one to find out who lives and which relationships survive.

One of the things I loved about this book is that most of the bones of the novel were all true events that the author collected from history and combined them all together for one story. Granted, the storyline between our characters was fabricated but it blended nicely with the surrounding events. The best part about the book, was imagining Reese & RPatz in the lead roles. A nice visual always helps when you are reading. I'm looking forward to seeing the movie as I hear they have done a nice job with keeping the storyline intact.

June 29, 2011

Glitter Ain't Welcome Here

Confession: If my child brings home art from school that contains glitter, I throw them away.

I hate glitter. Actually, I LOATHE glitter. I can't possibly understand why this craft accessory was created. It.Sticks.To.Everything. And the things multiply. I swear they do. Let one glitter particle enter your house and you end up with them everywhere.

When The Little Girl was a toddler, we did lots of crafts. Lots. It was the only thing that kept us both sane. I don't claim to be crafty at all but I can copy real well. I'm pretty sure we have done almost every craft that has been posted on this site (also known as a gift from the stay-at-home-mom fairies). I wanted Missy Prissy to be able to experience all mediums that go with art and I suppose that included glitter. I monitored the glitter use very carefully and there was even a box that went under our project to help keep the sparklies contained.

I distinctly remember the day I reached my breaking point with glitter. It wasn't my finest moment as a mom. We had just gotten home from a vacation. You know the kind. The vacation where you come home more exhausted than before you left. The kind where you were in a rush to leave and had to leave the house in less than stellar condition. The kind where you conveniently forgot about all of life's troubles but the stress of life swarms the moment you declare, "We're home." Yeah, it was that kind of trip. We hadn't been home even an hour when The Little Girl obtained the silver glitter and poured it out. I was stressed already and the sparkly stuff sent me over the edge. I screamed. I cried. I was a hot mess. As I said, NOT one of my finer parenting moments.

But, from that point on, glitter was a bad word around our house. Everyone knew that Mama didn't do glitter. I think Missy Prissy missed glitter a bit. Over the last year, she has gushed over any crafts they did at school which involved glitter. She would proudly show them off. I would ooh and ahh right along with her until bedtime when said craft would have an unfortunate encounter with the trash can. I know. I know. I'm not winning any mother of the year awards with this post, am I?

Apparently, the memory of the infamous glitter incident was starting to fade because my favorite preschooler felt the need to do THIS ....
.... while I was in the shower! To make matters worse (although sweet), The Little Girl did try her very best to clean it up. However, the spray cleaner just caused it to stick worse. My blood pressure was rising but I can say that I responded much better this time. No screaming. No yelling. No crying clump of mom in the kitchen floor. I had a much better idea. I grabbed a Ziploc bag and packed up every last container of glitter I could find. I told my dear daughter that if she wanted to do glitter she could do it at school. We made a rather large glitter donation to preschool that day. I'm sure they LOVE me right about now.


Note: I did manage to save the beloved blue art table despite that I may have threatened it to go straight to the dumpster. However, our patio is currently, by far, the sparkliest in the neighborhood.

June 22, 2011

10 Time-Saving Tips for Mom

Moms are busy. Plain and simple. Here are my time-saving tips to help you be proactive as a mom, because being RE-active takes twice as long. You'll see from my list below that the main time killers in our household revolve around food & laundry. Haha!
  1. Meal planning - This makes things SO much simpler during the week. I already know what's on the menu and what meat to lay out to defrost each morning. Without a plan, I'm more likely to get to 5:00 and realize I've totally forgot about dinner. Yikes!
  2. Grocery lists - I do not go to the grocery store without one. Otherwise, I end up wandering aimlessly around. I even try to make my list according to aisle to avoid any backtracking across the store.
  3. Cooking ahead - This has been a lifesaver especially during really busy times. It's nice to be able to have a casserole ready when everything else has fallen apart during your day. Frozen casseroles are also helpful for benevolence meals. I also like to prepare big batches of pancakes, muffins, and breads in advance for quick and easy breakfasts.
  4. Laundry day - I got tired of feeling like I could never tackle the mountain of dirty laundry. I was washing almost every day. We now have Laundry Monday at our house. We stick close to home during the day and I just run one load after another and it gets all taken care of in just 1 day. In fact, I usually have all 6 loads finished & folded by the end of nap time. Yay!
  5. Universal laundry basket - I just implemented this not long ago and it saves me so much time on laundry day. I took away all the baskets in each individual room. Now, everyone is responsible for bringing their dirty items to the laundry room, which is conveniently located in the middle of our house. When Monday rolls around, I don't have to spend the time sorting colors. I just get right to it.
  6. Vacation laundry sorting - When we are on vacation I go ahead and sort the laundry as I'm packing up. I put all the like colors together in separate suitcases. That way, as soon as we get home I can get started. Because, let's face it, moms are usually more tired after vacation.
  7. Routine charts - I'm type A all the way so I love a good routine. We were having trouble getting our 4-year-old to cooperate with the bedtime routine so we made her a chart with pictures. She follows along with the pictures to see what comes next and now she has it down pat and gets in bed on time.
  8. News via social media - I'll be perfectly honest here. I just don't have time to sit down and watch the news every night but I like to stay up to date on current events. I make sure to follow the popular news channels on Twitter and Facebook. I figure if it isn't good enough to get a tweet or status update then it wasn't really newsworthy to begin with.
  9. Phone calls on the go - I'm not good at talking on the phone and folding laundry at the same time. Actually, I end up wandering around and pacing back and forth while I'm on the phone, which is the exact opposite of multi-tasking. I am, however, pretty good at talking and driving at the same time (handsfree of course). I reserve returning phone calls for when I'm in the car on the way to pick up The Little Girl from school.
  10. Task list - This is my all time favorite time saver (and another shameless shout out to Google). I love Google Tasks. I can have my to-do list with me at all times, on my computer at home, or on my Android smartphone. I'm never left wondering what's to do next. You know as well as I do, that a mother's jobs are never done.
So, that's what works for me. What are the time killers at your household? Have any time-saving tips you want to share?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Starbucks blogging program, for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

June 20, 2011

Random Comments & Good Advice

There have been several things happen or be said over the last few days that I've thought, "that would make a good blog post" or "I need to write that one down." So, here I am jotting them down all in one post.

God gives us what we need when we need it.

We were at Publix picking out Father's Day cards. Technically, I already had the patriarch cards handled much thanks to & Tiny Prints freebies. I was on the hunt for uncle cards. My loathing for the greeting card aisle is a post all on its own and I'm saving up for that one. Anywhoo, the selection was slim, my blood pressure was on the rise, and my dear daughter was proceeding to open every musical card her little hands could reach. I quickly sent her with her Daddy to... wait for it... look for coupons! Bahahaha! They were very successful in their search and, when we reunited at the checkout, she had quite a little stack. She quickly noted that her coupons would stay together much easier if she had a paper clip. I agreed. Apparently, she thought I should be able to produce one out of my purse on command. Let the record state that I am not a magician. I tried to appease her with "we'll get you one as soon as we get home." The Little Girl was unamused. "But, I NEED one!" Lo and behold, I looked down by my foot in the Publix parking lot and there was a green paper clip shining up at me. I literally could not believe it. I pointed, she looked, beamed from ear to ear, and picked it up. (Spare me all the germ comments. I'm fully aware.) We had a nice little chat about how God gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. It was a lesson I needed to hear again that day too!

Funny statements from my 4-year-old
  • When flies die, do they go to fly heaven? - Um, not so much.
  • When taking a big bit of something, you should close your eyes so you don't see it but you feel it and taste it. - Must try this next time I eat Nutella. :)
True comment from my husband
  • Honey, we found this turtle outside. He is injured with a boo boo. Do you think maybe you could put some Coconut Oil on it. - It's a running joke around here that we put coconut oil on everything. Hey, it works!
Practical advice from the guy at Home Depot
  • Anytime you buy a power tool, you should also go to Lawn & Garden and buy your wife a plant. - This guy is a very smart man!

June 18, 2011

What do a muffin tin and tacos have in common?

I have a little dilema every time I make tacos. There are about 8,000 toppings that go with them. Unfortunately, I like them all but I don't want to muck up that many ramicans (also known as small bowls - seriously, who came up with such a fancy word for a bowl?) in the process.

Let me just tell ya, we eat tacos a lot but this muffin tin idea didn't dawn on me until just the other night. It's one dish with six holes. Score! On this particular taco night, I chose to top off my shells with lettuce, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, and bell pepper.

The best part... clean up was a snap! Now, that I have an excuse to use a muffin pan a little more frequently, I might just invest in a good one. :)

So, are there any other brillant ideas out there that I have yet to discover? What are your dish saving tips for the kitchen?

June 12, 2011

How NOT To Make All Your Dreams Come True

This morning I was awoken to something rather unpleasant. The Little Girl came bounding up the stairs super excited to tell me that we HAVE to get a Happy Napper. Why? "Because they make all your dreams come true."

Wait. What did you say?

"I have to get a Happy Napper because they make all your dreams come true. I want the doggy one."

Oh really?

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. You mean that some company is actually advertising such ridiculousness as a stuffed animal that can make all your dreams come true? WHAT!?!? I felt certain that she had misunderstood the words of the jingle but she kept repeating this one phrase over and over. I mean, this is a knock off Pillow Pet we are talking about, right?

It gets better. Or worse.

My favorite 4 year old then proceeds to ask her father, "Dad, do you want all your dreams to come true?" (I guess). "Well, then which Happy Napper do you want?" (Um, none of them).

Then she comes and asks me the same question, even suggesting that I get the unicorn with a castle. I was a little annoyed at this point. How in the world do companies get away with this harkey mularkey advertising?

We went on to church but my girl had not forgotten the infamous commercial. After service, she was still talking about it. Even reminding me to make sure I go to CVS this week to get her the doggy Happy Napper.

What do I do? I came home and looked up this commercial on YouTube. Indeed, the jingle does promise that "they'll make all your dreams come true" all while being sung to a cheesy but catchy tune.

Seriously? If the product promised to help my child nap, I could buy into that. Maybe. Then again, my child broke the mold on sleep patterns. But, making dreams come true? That is impossible both literally and figuratively.

Kids believe everything they see and hear and why wouldn't they? They've never had experience with scams and skepticism. Their trust is unfathomable. It makes me downright sick that a toy company is using such a ridiculous marketing gimmick to sell their product.

Now, please excuse me while I go have a chat with Missy Prissy about the true elements that make dreams come true.

*I have intentionally left out any links or pictures of this product because I want to do ZERO to encourage you to support this business. I'm even mad about the few cents they are going to receive because I clicked their YouTube video.*

June 7, 2011


We are freshly back from our weekend getaway to Chattanooga to celebrate the end of the school year. Before this trip, The Little Girl called it Chagganooga. It was 1 of only about 3 words that she has ever repetitiously mispronounced in her entire life, and I let her because there were so few of them. [FYI, Peapock (peacock) and 4-liter (4-wheeler) hold the other 2 spots.] After this weekend, she now pronounces it correctly and I'm a little sad. Who said she could grow up so fast? I know I didn't.
Anyway, we had a FANTASTIC time on our trip. We left Friday morning and one of the most exciting moments of the trip was simply leaving. I didn't have that nagging feeling that I had forgotten something, I was 100% caught up on work, and it was just the 3 of us. I grinned from ear to ear as we drove towards the interstate. I was filled with nothing more than the amazing feeling of anticipation. At some point on our trip we realized that this is the 1st time we have vacationed as a family (just us 3) since Missy Prissy was 8 months old. Sure, we have vacationed, but it has typically been with extended family.

No trip to Chattanooga is complete unless you play the Rock City vs. Ruby Falls sign game on the way there. On this trip, Team Ruby Falls was the clear winner. Our 1st stop was lunch and then the Creative Discovery Museum. I'm not sure who had more fun, Mike or Skylar. They both loved all the different activities where you could explore and make stuff. Mike spent the most time creating a working car in the Inventor's Clubhouse and Skylar spent a huge amount of time at RiverPlay. They also had areas for art (always a favorite), music & so much more! We spent SEVERAL hours here and had a blast!
We got checked into our hotel, which was great. It was conveniently located to downtown (without the downtown price), had an awesome breakfast buffet, and an indoor pool. The pool was quite possibly the highlight of the trip for Sky. In fact, she said so.

We headed up to Point Park before dinner. This was not originally on our things-to-do list but hubby couldn't resist the history. Surprisingly, Skylar really enjoyed listening to him tell the story about the Battle Above the Clouds and she also liked the cannons. Most of all, I think she preferred exploring all the trails. This place has some great mountaintop scenery and is only $3 for adults. Kids are free and you pay on the honor system.
For dinner, we stopped back by the Chattanooga Choo Choo and had dinner in one of the train cars. It was a little restaurant called the Silver Diner, which served thin-crust pizza. It was a pretty inexpensive dinner but a cool experience to eat INSIDE a train. We also spent some time walking around the gardens and by the shops. There was no resisting the Sweet Shop. :)
Back at the hotel, we changed into our swimsuits and headed for the pool. Back in the day, my dear daughter was swimming pretty well at 17 months old, but when we switched classes the following spring, she REFUSED to swim and went on hiatus for the next 2 years. Okay, fine with me. I'm not sure if it is her age or if it was the allure of the hotel pool, but she suddenly decided that she was ready to swim again and went for it head first, literally. She swam so hard that night that she got a "stitch in her side" and then KEPT swimming. She was a little rusty on technique but it slowly started coming back to her. I could have cared less about her skills. I was thrilled with her eagerness to be in the pool and UNDER the water!
The only downside to staying in a hotel is the sleeping arrangements. Naturally, we would have loved for her to be in bed by 9, especially after a long, but fun, day! With Mike and I still up, even doing quiet activities like reading, she wasn't buying into sleep. I think she finally fell asleep around 10 both nights. I should insert right here that I was confused about time all weekend long. I had totally forgotten about the 1 hour time difference.
We started day #2 of our trip by visiting Rock City Gardens. Skylar loved climbing all the stone structures. It's really pretty and serene but I have a fear of heights that apparently has increased quite a bit since having a child. I couldn't enjoy the scenery aside from keeping my eyes glued to the very busy preschooler whom I was convinced was going to fall off the ledge of everything we walked on. I was an anxiety attack waiting to happen. Skylar was not bothered by heights in the slightest. Her favorite part was looking for the gnomes that were scattered throughout the entire attraction, as well as the Enchanted Trail. She also mentioned liking Fat Man's Squeeze; although, her skinny-winney self didn't have to squeeze through anything. Naturally, you have to exit through the gift shop. I agreed to a reasonably-priced souvenir and my girl settled on a bag of rocks. Not kidding. Okay, not just any bag of rocks but a bag of really pretty rocks that she got to pick out herself. I suppose that makes it worth the $3 we spent. LOL!
At Rock City, we wanted to recreate a picture we had taken on our honeymoon. There was no one else around so I half-heartedly handed the camera to Skylar. Surprisingly, she's a decent photographer. I feel like we've reached some sort of milestone. Mike and I can actually be in pictures TOGETHER again. No more looking like single parents in the photo albums. LOL!
On the way down the mountain we had lunch at the very quaint Cafe on the Corner. The staff were so great and helpful. They even made a fuss over Skylar's rocks which she loved. The food was delish and the playlist was very cool. Then again, if you play anything by Dave Matthew's Band, I'm a pretty happy gal. We headed back to the hotel for a quick nap which made me feel so much better. At this point, we headed for the mall to let Sky have her first experience with Putt Putt Golf. At Glo Golf, you pay 1 price and get to do the 18-hole course THREE times. However, one time around was plenty for my girl who was just learning. Her favorite part was putting the ball in the little machines to make it glow, which they have strategically placed around the entire course.
This is when the trip starts to veer off the happy course. First of all, if you get a hole in one on the last hole, you win a prize. Needless to say, none of us got a hole in one and The Little Girl was rather upset. Then, as we walked around the mall with all the pretty, pretty, shiny, shiny at every corner the Gimme-Monster came out. I have no idea where she even learned this technique. She was a wee (understatement if I ever heard one) bit cranky and I was getting stares O plenty. Next, we had dinner in East Ridge at Herman's Soul Food. The food was fantastic and they have the best cake I have ever put in my mouth. I know, because we tried every flavor they had. Don't judge. However, the service was extremely slow. I don't hold it against our server because she was literally in the weeds but, when it took 30 minutes just to get the check, we were a bit outdone. This also caused us to miss dusk at Sunset Rock. Boo! :(

Back at the hotel, another dip in the pool seemed to cure what ailed us. Even though the indoor pool was PACKED for a Saturday night and LOUD, that did not deter my little fish from swimming her heart out once again.
We took a laid back approach to Sunday morning waking up and getting packed. We had breakfast and then headed for downtown Chattanooga. We had wanted to go to Coolidge Park but they had the bridge closed off. Instead, we stopped by The Passage behind the aquarium. Skylar had fun playing in the fountains and I loved the sound of the rushing water. Though, the sight of Skylar's footprints made me sad. They're HUGE! Where did the baby feet go? I miss them.
On the way home, we stopped off in Monteagle. In keeping with travel rule #1 (no eating at restaurants that you already have at home), we found Dave's Modern Tavern. Oh. My. Goodness. The entire menu looked scrumptious. We couldn't decide what to get so we ended up ordering a bunch of appetizers so we could try it all. Skylar slept the rest of the way back and we arrived safely at Home Sweet Home.

This trip was to celebrate school being out and I think it was a great way to kick off summer. We've already talked about our to-do list for next year. Dare I say we have an annual vacation on our hands?