January 28, 2011

Work, Work, Work

This week I have been SLAMED with work! One of my accounts is preparing for an audit and they have been sending a lot of dictations. At last count, it was 143 files. The saving grace is this is my account that pays the best so I really don't mind all the work. My daily account has been sending work as usual but they also had some makeup dictations too. Then there was some work on a new account that I helped out with. Aren't I a wonderful employee? You wanna hire me too?

This week I have worked 7-8 or even 9 hour days trying to get caught up. I know that doesn't seem like a lot for those of you who work full time anyway, but this is non-stop sitting in a chair and moving my fingers and my foot pedal as fast as they can go. After all, my job pays on production meaning, I only get paid for as much as I complete.

Monday was the longest day. When I finally got up my hips were cramped up and my neck was on fire. I felt awful. Tuesday was slightly better but not by much. Needless to say, I've taken a nice, HOT bath every night this week. It's Friday and my neck and shoulder are still all junked up. I'm pretty sure there is a visit to Dr. Baston in my very near future. That and yoga class.

There was a snow day on Wednesday, which made things extra interesting. My little one was not gonna stand for me being locked in my office all day. Luckily, we have Grandma. I'm so thankful for Grandma. It's bad enough that I'm way behind on my regular house chores and life responsibilities but she saved me from getting buried under all that transcription work.

I was so exhausted that when I finally got caught up on Thursday morning, I was like a vegetable for the rest of the day. I couldn't be productive to save my life. I should have been catching up on cleaning but I literally sat around day dreaming. It's another coping mechanism of mine. When things feel out of control, I sit and think and plan out my future. Only in this case I was planning out the next 10 years. Speaking of, I think Mike & I actually have a plan but it's going to involve some big changes so I'm still praying about it.

All in all, it turns out that I made more money in 3 days then I typically make in a month! This was a prime example of "when it rains, it pours." Granted, I wouldn't mind working like this if it was only once a month. Then again, I kind of like things being spread out a little more. More like a nice, consistent drizzle. :)

Then, today I realized that I totally forgot to send in my invoice for the work I completed. I seriously should re-name this blog... The Irony That Is My Life. I worked like crazy all week and then forgot to get paid for it. Thank goodness for Starbucks. I literally pulled in their parking lot, fired up my laptop, and used their Wi-Fi to submit my pay sheet for this week.

Here's hoping next week is a bit more calm. In the meantime, I have to go shave my legs. Yes, it's been another 10 days. See my current excuse above. :)

How was your week?

January 27, 2011

My Favorite Consignment Sale

I'll be honest. I haven't ever actually paid for Skylar's clothes. Ever. Granted, the grandparents also help me stock her closet but mainly I buy and sell at consignment sales. The money I earn from the fall/winter sale purchases her spring/summer wardrobe and vice versa. I've bought and sold at a lot of consignment sales but my favorite, hands down, is Encores and More North. Why?
  • The sale is HUGE!
  • They have a variety of name-brand clothes.
  • Items are organized and sorted.
  • They use a barcode system that makes checkout fast and accurate.
  • They have many consignors and buyers, which is a win-win for everyone!
Each year, I get clothes, shoes, and toys at a fraction of the price I would pay in retail. Some of the items look brand new. I also am able to sell clothes in one spot. This is much easier than trying to list each individual item on Ebay or Craigslist. I usually tag close to 100 items and bring home less than 10-15. Granted, the sale gets their cut (30%) but I have found this is the easiest way to get paid for clothes in one fail swoop. :)

This year I am going to be working at the sale for the first time. In exchange for a few 5-hour shifts, I will get a chance to shop early before the consignors and before the public. I'm actually working 3 shifts and providing drinks one day, which also earns me a $50 credit. I've heard that you work, work, work during those shifts but they provide your meals, which is a big plus!

Here's my schedule for the 2011 Spring sale.

Saturday, March 5th 12p-5p
Monday, March 7th 9a-2p
Saturday, March 19th 2p-7p

Go here to sign up for shifts and get more details about the sale.

January 26, 2011

REVIEW: The Lucky One (Nicholas Sparks)

Nicholas Sparks is one of my favorite authors. I've read all of his books, though I'm a little behind at the moment. I think I started reading him in college and he has continued to pump out book after book. Besides, the man just has a knack for writing books that turn into screenplays. Currently, seven of his books have been adapted to movies.

I can see why The Lucky One was no exception.

Logan Thibault is a marine who recently came home from Iraq and has basically walked across the country to find one, specific woman. There's a lot of mystery in the beginning as you meet certain characters and learn Thibault's back story but, by chapter 4 or 5, their lives start to intertwine.

I love that Nicholas Sparks leaves just enough hints along the way for the reader to start putting the puzzle together on their own. He eventually spells it out but I like reading a book and picking up on the clues in advance.

Basically, Thibault finds a random picture of this woman while he was on duty overseas and his friends start to suspect that this photograph is some sort of lucky charm. It certainly seems that our main character fares better than his fellow marines during his 3 tours in Iraq. Namely being that he survives.

Once he finds this woman, the story is just getting started. She's a teacher but her family owns a local dog kennel where Thibault conveniently finds a job. Elizabeth is single mom with an ex-husband who is a real piece of work. Thibault doesn't come right out and tell her that he's come all this way to find her because even he is trying to figure out what the purpose was. As with any good Sparks book you can see where their relationship is headed. Nice Guy + Attractive Woman = Love Story.

Thibault also has to determine how much he actually believes in the power of the photograph. He actually gives it to someone else just days before the town floods. I was on pins and needles (and ferociously reading) to finish this one. I knew that a tragic accident was brewing considering that the family business sits right next to a huge river now at flood stage. Her son also has a rickety old tree house that sits above the water. I just had to know if these two would get their happily ever after or if the absence of the lucky charm would mean doom for him and everyone around him.

Guess you will have to read it to find out too. :)

Or you could just wait to see the movie, but the books are always better. Speaking of, I was thrilled to find out that Zac Effron is playing the lead. Here's a sneak peek photo from the movie. It's in production now and will be released in 2012.

January 21, 2011

Me and Murphy Made it Snow

I think I'm causing the snow.

No, really. I honestly think I am.

Actually, it's not me but my BFF Murphy.

I have a long-standing relationship with Murphy's law. You know, "what can go wrong will go wrong." Only in my case it's more like "what can go wrong, WILL go wrong." This is bad news for my Type A personality.

Let's take the snow for example. For the record this is not a rant about my dislike of the fluffy white stuff. It's about the irony that is my life.

I have been wanting to go to observe at Sky's new school since December. I've actually scheduled it and put it on my calendar three times (Dec. 14, Jan. 11, & Jan. 21). Guess what. It snowed and school was cancelled on all three of those days.

I have also scheduled, booked and paid for two sessions at Paint Along. One night was going to be a girl's night (Jan. 1o) and then I was going with the hubby for date night (Jan. 20). Guess what. Yep, it snowed and class was cancelled both times.

Murphy loves me. The feeling is not mutual.

So, if you are a snow lover, just call me up and let's plan to do something. Murphy would love to cancel our plans. But, snow.... he's pretty good at making that.

Darn you Murphy! *shakes fist in air*

Snow Day Snuggles and Conversations

Today is snow day #.... well, I've lost count. Snow days throw our schedule out of whack and I don't like not having my routine. However, on snow days I sleep until Skylar comes and climbs in bed with me (still well before 7 am). On mornings like today we get a chance to snuggle in the warm bed and have conversations like this.

Skylar: Mommy, will I still fit into your hand when I grow up?
Me: Probably not but we can still hug.
Skylar: Will you still love me when I grow up?
Me: Yes, of course I will.
Skylar: Will Dad?
Me: Absolutely.
Skylar: Mom, I love you.
Me: I love you too sweetie.


Skylar: Does Jesus live in a ball?
Me: Ball? Um, no.
Skylar: In a heart?
Me: He can live in your heart if you ask Him.
Skylar: Mom, did you pray last night before you went to bed.
Me: Yes, honey, I did.
Skylar: Did Dad?
Me: I'm not sure but you can ask him when he gets home. Did you pray before you went to bed?
Skylar: Yes.
Me: What did you pray for?
Skylar: My rocket and my doggie.

:::::::::::::::: pause::::::::::::::::::::

Skylar: Mommy, you are beautiful. Do you like being beautiful?
Me: Well, I guess, yes but everyone is beautiful.
Skylar: Am I beautiful?
Me: Yes, you are beautiful.
Skylar: Is Bryce?
Me: Yes, he is beautiful.
Skylar: Bryce is handsome! Boys are handsome and girls are pretty.
Me: Ok, that sounds good too.

:::::::::::::::: pause::::::::::::::::::::

Skylar: Mom, I love you.
Me: And I love you!

That's how my day started and I wouldn't trade it for any amount of non-snow days.

January 19, 2011

Today: Shopping, Meal Prep, Linens, Mooommee

Today went a little something like this...
  • Wake up. Check email, FB, and Google Reader while still in bed.
  • See this deal, hop up to go view it and purchase on my laptop.
  • Shower
  • Wake up The Little Girl, dress her, fix her hair and brush her teeth all while she is sitting on the potty. I know, I'm very talented. :)
  • Fix her lunch while she eats bfast and then head out the door.
  • Swing by and pick up B then drop the kiddos at school.
  • Go straight to Publix, shop. Shopping there really IS a pleasure.
  • Stop at Goodwill and get sheets. See a bunch of things I really want to buy but put them back because $ is tight this week.
  • Drive home. Consider stopping to get car washed then remember that more snow is coming. Ugh!
  • Dinner prep for the rest of this week's meals including making bread dough, roasting and peeling peppers, chopping onions, grating cheese.
  • Pack up items for the Food for Fines library drive. I owe almost $7. Gasp!!
  • Heat up a bowl of chili for lunch. So much better as leftovers.
  • Check e-mail.
  • Write this blog post for Coupon Queen Diaries.
  • Start the blog post you are reading now.
  • Create a button for my new blog.
  • Pick up kiddos from school and drop B to his Grandma. I tried to convince him to come home with us but Grandma had promised they would build a village in the living room. I can't compete with that.
  • Come home, strip linens and start a load of sheets (including the new ones).
  • Play Cinderella's castle.
  • Request The Lion King from the library at The Little Girl's suggestion.
  • Start rice to go with our Sweet N Sour Chicken.
  • Serve & eat dinner. The hubs said it was G-O-O-D. Score!
  • Start watching Sleeping Beauty.
  • Mike's sweet tooth is craving cake so we pause the movie and bake a cake. We also made homemade icing.
  • While waiting for the cake to cool, I stick The Little Girl in the tub and put clean sheets on her bed.
  • Listen to her yell MooooooMmmmmEeeee for no reason at all. I ask her to please not say my name for 3 minutes. She does not oblige this simple request.
  • I put another load of sheets in the wash.
  • I wash, dry and blow dry my dear daughter.
  • Cake is ready. Yummy!!!!
  • Read 2 books, bedtime prayers, snuggles, hugs and kisses.
  • I go eat another piece of cake. Mwuhahaha. :)
  • Hubby is watching Criminal Minds so I decide to come finish this blog post.
I have no idea what time any of these events occurred. Some days (like today) are just a blur. I'm only aware of 7:30 a.m. (when we leave for school) and 2:30 p.m. (when I leave to go back to school). The rest just gets scrunched in the middle.

The rest of my night will probably consist of reading a chapter of The Purpose Driven Life and a new Nicholas Sparks book I started, The Lucky One. Hopefully, I'll get to have a little pillow talk time with Mike before we drift off to dreamland. Our little talks at the end of the day are often my favorite part.

Oops, one more thing. I also need to pack up my car with books that I am taking to McKay's tomorrow. It's my first time to ever go but I hear it's really neat. Here's hoping I get some big bucks for my books.

How was your day?

Meal Plan & Prep

I love being able to get ahead of the game and today I decided to prep our meals for the rest of the week.

Tonight we are having CrockPot Sweet N Sour Chicken. I tossed all these ingredients in the crock pot and chopped up the peppers. All that's left to do on this one is adding the peppers & pineapple and cooking the rice about 30 minutes before dinner time.

Tomorrow, Mike and I have a date planned so dinner needs to be ready quickly. We are having Chicken Swiss Bundles. You need frozen bread dough for these, which I didn't have so I decided to make my own Easy Yeast Rolls. I actually let my bread machine do all the work. All I had to do was roll them out and stick them in the freezer. I halved this recipe which still gave me enough for tomorrow's dish + 12 extra rolls. I also roasted the red peppers and then peeled them. Finally, I shredded a block of swiss cheese. Tomorrow, all I should have to do is cook the chicken and combine them.

On Friday, we are having Cajun Pork. I went ahead and cut the meat (that I got on sale at Publix today) and chopped the veggies for this dish. It's another entree that cooks in the crock pot. It looks like snow again for Friday (which means school will be cancelled), so it's nice to have this dish already started.

The last two recipes came out of the Dec/Jan 2011 edition of Taste of Home Magazine that my mother-in-law got for me. Mike usually goes through it and puts a star next to the meals he would like to try. Each week I flip through and try to incorporate those recipes into our meal plan. I gotta tell ya, it's a great magazine!

What's for dinner at your house?

January 18, 2011

Did I Shave My Legs For This?

Actually, no, I didn't.

Not even for yoga class.

Not even for date night.

Not for a whole week.

Isn't that horrible?!

Wait, don't judge.

See, what had happened was....

Well, first of all, it's winter and that means wearing pants all the time. Who's gonna even notice?

Then, there was the week of freezing temperatures we had last week. I mean, what's the point of shaving when it's so cold that the pricklies just come back as soon as you step out of the shower?

Next, is the fact that school was cancelled for the whole week because of snow and ice, which meant we spent a lot of days in our PJs. Therefore, showering (or shaving) was not high on the priority list.

Let's not forget that I was (and still am) dealing with the Winter Blues, which means my motivation is pretty much nil. Sometimes even hygiene takes a back seat. Sad, I know.

However, last night after 10 days, I mentioned to hubby that I wanted to take a quick shower. He said he would get The Little Girl ready for bed. He told me to go ahead and take my time. And he may or may not have mentioned (Ok, he totally did) that this would be a good time to shave.

Yeah, I'll take that as a hint.

So, I did and that smoothed things over. :)

January 16, 2011

Please Stay 3 Forever - Please?

My baby girl is 4 today.

This really is impossible. I still remember every detail of her birth. Thankfully, the pregnancy memories are starting to fade but I definitely remember January 16, 2007. There is no way that I can remember it so vividly yet the calendar show that four years have passed. Impossible, I tell ya.

Every year I ask her to please stay little forever and each year she continues to age and grow. However, this year when I asked her if she would stay 3 forever, she said "yes!" Oh, how I wish this were possible.

Granted, 3 hasn't been without it's ups and downs but I love her at 3.

The world is a big, bad, scary place and I just don't want her to have to experience heartbreak, or disappointment, or fear on an adult level (on any level for that matter). I want to protect her. Things seem nice and safe here with mommy.

I love her at 3 but I have also loved her at every other age. When I reflect back on the events of the previous 4 years, I have some very fond memories of my girl. They are bitter sweet. I miss those ages and the precious things she did but I wouldn't want her to be any other age than what she is right now.

If 3 has been pretty good then maybe 4 will be even better, but I wouldn't mind if she stayed little forever! :)

Happy Birthday, Skylar!

January 15, 2011

My 1st Etsy Purchase

I finally signed up for Etsy and made my first purchase. I've lurked around the site forever noting things I wanted. Sometimes I just went there to get ideas and sometimes I could find it cheaper on Ebay. Thus, I had never actually gotten an account and made a purchase. Until now....

My friend Kelly told me she had gotten one of these during her recent trip to NYC and we saw a lady wearing one at the Nashville Christmas Parade. I looked at different stores around town but couldn't find them. So, I hit Etsy. They were everywhere. Tons of different shops had them. Plus, there were a variety of styles and colors.

I settled on this ivory one. It came in the mail today. I put it on right away and received a compliment at my first stop. I love it because I can wear it with my hair up or down and that flower is super cute!
Naturally, my mini me wants one for herself so now I've got my eye on this teal one. :)

January 14, 2011

Winter Blues

It happens every year and this year is no exception. I never know exactly when it is going to happen but I am getting a lot better at noticing it sooner.

I've suffered various bouts of depression since my teen years. Typically, it was triggered by an unfortunate situation or loss of someone or something. However, the seasonal depression returns every year like clockwork. I've tried prescription medication with good success. However, I'm not a big fan of prescriptions and I don't see the point in being on something year round that I don't need all the time. However, when I was trying to stop them, the side effects were awful. So awful that, for years, I just continued to stay on them.

I finally gave up the Rx meds for good when I was pregnant. Even then, it took me until I was about about 6 months along to quit. My hormones and emotions were all over the place anyway so I had to taper extremely slowly and carefully. That was in 2006. I've seen 5 winters since then. Spring has a special place in my heart because it means I've survived another winter. Honestly, that's exactly what winter is for me: surviving.

I've tried various methods of natural remedies and alternative therapies. Some have definitely lessened the symptoms but it returns annually without fail. Ironically enough, it gets a little better every year no matter what I do. It has become less of the panicky and overwhelmed feeling to more of a blah, can't get motivated kind of feeling. Some years it has taken me weeks or even months to notice what is happening but now I can usually pick up on it within days to a week. There are just certain symptoms that I notice. This is not an extensive list by any means but the major culprits are
  • eating out of boredom or no reason at all (Not eating is also a sign).
  • difficulty getting up in the morning (Not sleeping is also a sign).
  • crying or becoming upset over trivial things (Not caring about anything is also a sign).
This year, it hit last Thursday. I think I had been working up to it for a few days but I finally noticed that I was literally standing and staring at something to do (for who knows how long) but I could not muster up the energy or willpower to move forward and accomplish the task. I'm talking about just regular old household chores. I was just standing (or sitting) and staring. That's it. I couldn't talk myself into it. I couldn't make myself get up and do it.

Last week I was off work and The Little Girl had started back to school so I should have been checking things off my list like crazy. Yet, I got nothing done that I really wanted to. I did manage to get Christmas taken down but it took 2 days and this normally only takes me half a day.

I loathe winter for so many reasons but this is definitely one of them. It's like the cold and wet actually encourage me to curl up as a little hermit. I'm can't stand to be cold. So, if I manage to get still and warm then chances are that I am not getting up anytime soon. In the winter, there are actually times where I don't step foot outside for days on end. No, I'm not kidding. It certainly hasn't helped that it snowed this week and school has been closed for 5 (Yes, F-I-V-E) days. We've spent a lot of time inside. A lot. Too much.

I deeply miss my afternoon lunches outside in the nice warm (even HOT) sun. Just sayin.

This year I've tried taking a double dose of daily vitamin D. As always, it hasn't prevented the seasonal depression from returning but I was pleased with how quickly I noticed what was happening. Me noticing is usually the first step I need to actually deal with it and get over it.

Another thing that helps me to move forward is working my routine. I know that some people think that a boring routine could actually make depression worse. For me, it at least gets me moving. If I'm doing my routine then I am at least doing something.

I always have a to-do list a mile long. I think my hubby actually despises this about me. It's a coping mechanism, really. If I am always busy then I can't slow down enough to be bored or get depressed. Lazy days get me out of my rhythm, which is usually (but not always) a recipe for disaster. I'm a type A, worker Bee. I need to be doing.

I really have no good way to end this post. Probably because I'm knee-deep in the winter blues. :/ I guess I'm writing all this to say...

Hi, my name is Staci and I suffer from seasonal depression.

January 13, 2011

Unspoken Resolutions

I make resolutions because I believe we can always strive to better ourselves. These are a few things that I always resolve to do but don't neccessarily write them down.
  • Grow closer to the Lord.
  • Improve my marriage.
  • Be a better parent.
Why? I don't write these down because I don't know that I will ever reach an attainable goal for them. Heck, I don't even know what success really looks like for me in these areas. Sure, I have ideas of how these relationships look but they are always evolving. These are areas where I can grow for a lifetime and still need work.

For example, when I first made this list I put them in the exact opposite order. See? I have to constantly work to make sure my priorities are in the right order. I tend to put parenting at the top because, out of the 3, a child is the most needy. Their needs are usually urgent and I tend to put more weight on myself in that area because I am shaping a life, which is a huge responsibility. However, that doesn't make that relationship more important than the others.

In all actuality, in order for me to be the best mommy possible, I have to have the other two relationships in order and working in good harmony. I'm coming to believe more and more in this trickle-down effect. It's definitely something I have to be constantly aware of and eagerly trying to work on.

This completes my list of 2011 resolutions. Better get started. :)

January 12, 2011

Resolution #7: Paperless Kitchen

This is my resolution that falls into the "green" category. :)

A few months back I read a post about going Paperless in the Kitchen. It really got me noticing how much paper we actually use and then toss. It's wasteful and expensive and not exactly great for our landfills that continue to pile up and up and up!

I do pretty good about using cloth to dry my hands and while cooking. My biggest problem comes with cleaning. I'm kinda (ok, I am) hooked on Clorox wipes. Mainly it's convenient but I also like the antibacterial factor for cleaning my stove and counter tops.

I'm going to have to sell this resolution pretty hard to the hubby. I don't think he minds using a cloth towel to dry his hands, but he wants to make sure that it's clean. If I try to hand him the towel I am also using while cooking dinner, he's not going for it.

When trying to implement a paperless kitchen, the biggest issues I foresee are locating where to store the cloth (needs to be easily accessible) and determining which cloth is to be used for what. Of course, I want it to look pretty too.

First of all we are very limited on space. I have a very small prep/work area in my kitchen and I can't spare even an inch of room. I would like to get some baskets similar to these and have them mounted under the cabinets.
I want a separate basket for hand drying towels and napkins. I also still plan to use my current cloth storage drawer for cleaning towels. This will keep the old, dingy towels out of site and only the "pretty" cloth will be visible. Color coordinating is also another idea. That way there will be no mistake as to what each towel is for.

Finally, I'm going to have to find a cleaning liquid that I can live with. Preferably, I would love to make some of my own but I'll start with just getting the paper under control. Maybe we'll see homemade cleaning products on my 2012 resolution list.

When I finally get this one set up I'll definitely post it so you can see it in action.

January 11, 2011

Resolution #6: Family Dinner

We used to be in a really good habit of having dinner together at the table but we've gotten lax about it. When my hubby gets home from a long day at work he just wants to chill, which is usually on the couch in front of the TV. Not my preferred eating spot but sometimes I just go with it.

I've read several books and lots of statistics that discuss the benefits of eating together as a family. Even a quick Google search on the topic reveals these results. Basically, there is an overwhelming amount of data to show that eating as a family (sans the TV) is good for you. It breeds healthier, happier and smarter kids. Who doesn't want one of those?

Mike and I have talked about this and we want to get back in the habit. With The Little Girl now in school all day, this provides us an opportunity for me and dad to hear about her day. It's also a chance for us all to be together, which is hard to come by sometimes. If we want to work on her table manners and restaurant behavior, there is no better place to start than At. The. Table.

That's why eating dinner together is #6 on my 2011 New Year's Resolutions.

January 10, 2011

Snow Day Fun (with Pics)

Despite my feelings that snow is not worth the trouble, me and The Little Girl had a rather fun time this afternoon.

First, we had to gather our supplies. She chose a bowl, a scoop, her earth ball and Blueberry the dinosaur. Notice the Ziplock-wrapped hands?
She built a snow house for Blueberry using her scoop.
FYI: My new rain boots did made the yucky weather a bit better. How could they not?
This photo was taken somewhere in the middle of our snowball fight.
The rest of the afternoon was spent constructing this fancy, schmancy snowman.

Now, either I haven't been in the snow enough (which is very possible) or I've never had the "right" kind of snow but I had no idea that you could actually "roll" a snowball and get it to form the really BIG snowballs. I was rather impressed. And so proud of our snowman.

Overall it was a very nice and fun afternoon. We may just get out and do it again tomorrow. ;)

Snow. Worth the trouble (or not)?

This will come as no big surprise to most of you but I HATE winter! and snow.... that would be the exact opposite of icing on the cake for me. This winter we had snow early and we've had it often. Boo. Hiss. Clearly, I'm not a fan of the white stuff.

Today, was yet another snow day. School was closed so The Little Girl was home with me (and my mountain of laundry). She started asking to go outside early this morning. I was able to distract her until after nap time. Come 2:30, she could be held off no longer.

See, another reason I don't like to deal with the snow is because it takes about 10 minutes to get appropriately dressed to go out and play in the snow. Then, we spend about 5 minutes in the dreaded fluff and she's ready to come back in. Then we spend another 10-15 minutes getting undressed, hanging up the wet clothes, and trying to warm up. It's totally not worth the effort.

I put some thought into this and figured out that the reason she lasts about 5 minutes is because that is how long it takes for her hands to get wet and consequently very COLD! I haven't been able to find waterproof gloves for little people so we continue to repeat the vicious cycle every snow day.

Today, I was determined not to repeat the cycle. So, I put her gloves on her as usual. Then, being very resourceful, I wrapped her hands in Ziploc bags and secured them with a rubberband. They looked like this. Voila! Not pretty but very functional. :)
Aaaaaaand, I am pleased to report that today she made it an HOUR AND A HALF and technically I had to make her come in so we could get ready for dinner. Today's score: 1 for Mommy, 0 for the cold, wet, icky stuff. :)

Stay tuned for pics of our fun afternoon. Yes, even I had fun!

Resolution #5: Guns

I have a strong adversion to guns. Why? Well, they are dangerous for starters. I know that people use them for sport all the time but let's be real here. Guns were invented to kill or at least strongly wound an opponent.

My hubby has been wanting me to learn to shoot a gun since we met. He's never pushed me to do it but simply stated that he wants me to know how to protect myself. I politely declined. See, that's where the problem really lies. My fear is that if I have a gun, my attacker will take my own gun and use it against me. Too much Hollywood or a legitimate concern? I don't know and it doesn't really matter because it was enough to stop me. I figured that if I never learned to properly shoot a gun then I would never even think to go for one in an attacker-victim situation.

Then I had this horrible nightmare. I dreamed that someone was trying to take my child from me. It was vivid and I woke up in a panic. It still is kind of haunting. I decided that I need to learn to protect - not me - my child! If it comes down to it, I want to know exactly what to do. If you try to take my child or hurt my child, you are asking for it. End of story.

Naturally, my hubby is thrilled to hear that I want to learn to shoot a gun and he is eager to teach me. He has already tried to teach me the 3 main things I'm supposed to know but he said them so fast and in military fashion that it honestly sounded like Charlie Brown: Mwa mwa mwa, mwa mwa mwa mwa. Just like it has taken me 7 years to agree to let him teach me, it's also going to take some time for me to actually do it!

But I'm going to because it's #5 on my 2011 New Year's Resolutions.

January 9, 2011

No Boys Allowed Party

My hubby went on a camping trip with the boys this weekend. The Little Girl was none to happy that her Daddy went camping without her. So, to make up for it, we had a No Boys Allowed Party. I was making most of this up on the fly but this is how it turned out.

First, I made her favorite for dinner - spaghetti.
Then, we made molten chocolate lava cake - Yum!
We watched a princess movie and wore pink pajamas.
And, if you can't go camping with Daddy, the next best thing is building a fort in Mommy's bedroom.
She loaded it up with all kinds of treasures and then slept snug as a bug in her sleeping bag.

It was a fun night and I'm hoping it will get her through until the weather warms up enough for her to go camping for real.

January 8, 2011

Living Room/Toy Room

We don't have a play room in our house. It would be nice but there just isn't room. We've tried several different ways to arrange our living room and create little nooks here and there for The Little Girl's toys. However, there still always seems to be toys everywhere. Everywhere. After Christmas (which comes with a brand new batch of toys), I decided to rearrange our living room once again. This time, I moved all of her toys to the far side of the living room. Basically, I split the living room. It's now half living room, half play room.

There's a corner for all of her baby stuff.
There's the toy cabinet.
And an entire corner dedicated to her art obsession. Love this about her!
Plus, there is still room for all the living room furniture.
After living with this for a day I really like it. I like that all of her things are contained to one side of the downstairs. I'm actually taking this picture from the kitchen, which is where most of her toys managed to end up. It was a walking (and cooking) hazard. However, I think I'm going to move the TV cabinet down a little bit further. I originally wanted it centered on the wall under the boxes but it doesn't really matter. Besides, we have plans to take the boxes down and repaint anyway.

I wonder how long it will stay this way before I decide to rearrange again?

REVIEW: Grace-Based Parenting (Tim Kimmel)

This book really got me thinking. Actually, it changed a lot about the way I think as a parent. I kept reading this booking waiting for the chapter(s) where it would give me tried and true "techniques" that I could use on my nearly 4-year-old. They never appeared. Simply put, grace-based parenting isn't a technique, it's a lifestyle.

What is grace?
  • Grace is receiving something we don't deserve but desperately need.
What do kids need? LOVE, PURPOSE & HOPE
  • A love that is secure.
  • A purpose that is significant.
  • A hope that is strong.
How do we give them those things? FREEDOM
  • Freedom to be different.
  • Freedom to be vulnerable.
  • Freedom to be candid.
  • Freedom to make mistakes.
Basically this book shared with me something that I've known for a long time but could never really wrap my head around it. I still may not do a good job of trying to put this into words because it is such an abstract concept. I should parent my child the way the Lord parents me, with grace. I have to look at each situation and determine if it causing issues spiritually because, ultimately, nothing else matters.

This is one of those books where I think the concepts will be of great use to me when my child is older, especially in the pre-teen to teenage years. Half-way through I considered putting it down and waiting until that time to finish it. However, I constantly feel like I am on the reactive end of parenting. This book at least gave me valuable knowledge that I can put into practice right now! I love being proactive. :)

Basically, here is what I know. Children are emotionally-fragile little creatures. Everything we do or don't do adds up. I am going to let my child down in one way or another because I'm not perfect but I only want the best for her.

Here is what I learned. There is no parenting book like the Bible but it is passed-down parenting. I grow in my relationship with my heavenly Father and it spills over into the parenting of my own child. I show her grace that she doesn't deserve but desperately needs. Just like me. It's like the trickle-down effect.

After reading this book, I still feel inadequate as a mom. Parenting is such a HUGE responsibility and I take it very seriously. I want my child to experience a love that is secure, determine a purpose that is significant, and develop a hope that is strong. That's a tall order for us as parents. The flip side is that the Lord trusted me to raise this little girl (how awesome is that?) but ultimately He has control. I just pray I can surrender my control (and my child) to Him.

January 7, 2011

Resolution #4: Journaling

Journaling is #4 on my list of 2011 resolutions.

This one is in the bag! Why? You are reading it right now. My new little blog is where I aim to document my little life this year and hopefully make it a habit!

You can also read more about why I started this blog.

January 6, 2011

Resolution #3: Flossing

I really try to only do one resolution in each category but this year I have two in the health category. First up was exercise and now I've added flossing.

My mom will actually be thrilled about this one. She's a dental hygenist. I'm not a dental nightmare by any stretch of the imagination but I don't like to floss. All that winding it up on your fingers and jamming that little string this way and that way takes a lot of time and effort. Time is not in great abundance around here. I'm guessing that with practice I could probably master a good flossing technique but it just hasn't been on my priority list. Until now. I am going to try to do better about flossing. I used the vague term "regularly" just in case I can't quite master this one at first.

In hopes of making it a little easier on myself I have purchased a bag of Dentek floss picks. There is no finger-wrapping required with these babies. Thank goodness!
Honestly, I'm not sure how long I will keep this one up because I don't have a real good reason to do it other than I "should." I don't have cavities and my gums are in pretty good shape. Besides, I've made it this long without flossing. Ok, enough with the excuses. I can read the picture. Hope Dentek is prepared to be a miracle worker. Here's to flossing in 2011!

January 5, 2011

Today: My Goodwill Trip

I keep having the best luck at Goodwill. I seriously may never shop retail again. The prices are just too good. I can easily get items for 1/4 of the retail price (or less). Today I had coats and boots on the brain. Here's what I found.

First up is this cute green jacket. I can't wait to put this on with a nice pair of jeans.
Next, is this super cute pink coat from Old Navy. I love longer coats.
Then, we have this denim jacket by Will Smith. This will be perfect over shirts or dresses that might be a bit too revealing up top.
My favorite find of the day are these adorable ESPRIT rain boots. Don't you just love them? I even had another shopper notice them in my cart and she had a fit over them!
My grand total for today was a whopping $24.26! I already feel chic on the cheap and I haven't even worn them yet.

Side Note: I have been eyeing this pair of rain boots online, which are priced at $24.99. Look how much I got for the same price?! hehe. Besides, I think I like my new boots better!

I'm not a fan of yucky weather, like today, but being able to wear these fun boots might make the cold rain a wee bit more bearable. So, I'm gonna peel off the price tag, slip them, on and go pick up The Little Girl. She's gonna flip over my new shoes!

Resolution #2: Exercise

I'm not really a fan of exercise. I hate that stiff feeling you get the next morning after a tough workout. I cringe just thinking about that feeling. However, it's become more apparent that I should exercise for my health. Not so much for my girlish figure because, lets face it, I haven't seen it since my junior year of high school. Luckily, I have actually found a form of exercise that I like: Hot Yoga.

I've always been intrigued by yoga but it seemed illusively complicated. I like the idea that it is a total body workout, inside and out. I also like that it always strives to align the spine and keep the body in balance. This goes hand-in-hand with my love for chiropractic health care. However, the "poses" always seemed WAY too hard to master. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to get my out-of-shape body to bend and contort like I see in pictures? Besides, they all have funny names.

My friend Hannah had been raving about "hot" yoga and took me along for a class. I loved it! I felt so good afterwards. Granted, I was hating it about half-way through my 1st class but the feeling afterward was amazing enough to make me want to go back.

So, what is "hot" yoga? Well, it's regular yoga but in a room that is close to 100 degrees and 50% humidity (WAIT! - keep reading). Basically, you sweat. A lot. (stick with me just a bit longer) The flip side is that your muscles warm up so much faster and that helps to eliminate that stiff feeling. Granted, I am sometimes sore after a hard class but not so stiff that I don't want to get out of bed the next day. All that sweating is also good detox for your body. Sweating is the body's natural method for detoxification. The hot room just enhances the environment to help the process.

I found The Hot Yoga House in Rivergate and it's a perfect fit for me. Classes are only $10 each and everyone is so nice. Plus, the instructors are amazing. They encourage you to push yourself but only to the point that it feels "good." They remind you that "yoga isn't supposed to hurt." The best part is that there is no competition. They don't want you to focus on how far other people have progressed but to focus just on yourself, your mat, and your practice. This is one place where it really is all about you! Surprisingly, the complicated poses I was worried about really aren't as bad as I thought. It just took a good teacher to talk me through it. And, you know what? I really don't even notice the heat anymore. My favorite part, by far, is the cold cloth infused with essential oils that they give you at the end of class. Honestly, this may be the sole reason I continue to go back. But, hey, whatever works!

So, my goal for this year is to exercise (for my health) at least twice a week. I don't know that I will always make it to "the house" 2 times each week so I'm planning to practice once at home and once in the studio. I fell off the bandwagon pretty hard over the holidays but this Sunday night I'm starting fresh and going to one of my favorite classes of the week. Anybody want to join me?

January 4, 2011

Organization: Picture Files

I love to take pictures, LOTS of pictures. In the first year of my daughter's life, I took nearly 3,000 photos. No, I am not kidding. She was so new and so cute. :)

Even before the little girl arrived, photography was a hobby of mine. Most of the memory on any given computer at my house is taken up by photos. Again, lots and lots of photos.

I have always had a hard time organizing photo files. I've tried by subject, by event, by season, by age, ect. and they are always just a mess. I have pictures from multiple sources (i.e. My pics, friends pics, Grandma's pics, professional pics) so they are never named the same way. I couldn't find what I was looking for quickly or easily. Until last year.

I now organize my photos by year and by month. I start at the beginning of the year and get all my folders set up. I name each file by putting the # of the month followed by the month name. It looks like this.

The reason I use the number is for sorting purposes. This way, when I choose to have my computer arrange them by name, it puts them in chronological order. Now, whenever I move pics from my camera's memory card, I just place them into the appropriate month.

If we have a really active month or there is a big event I may create a subfolder within the month. For example, this past November we went to Disney. I wanted to make sure those photos had their own little spot so I made a subfolder under 2010>11-November>Disney.

This has made it so much easier to find a particular picture or even groups of pictures! I love it when I find something that works well.

So, that's my little tip for organizing picture files.

How do you organize yours?

January 3, 2011

Resolution #1: Date Night

As you saw in my 2011 New Year's Resolutions I would like for me and my hubby have a date at least once a month. I wanted to share more about my specific plans to make sure this happens.

First, I should probably define what I mean by "date." In my little world, a date is anytime we go out of the house without the little girl and have plans to do something fun for a few hours. It doesn't have to be on a specific day of the week. It doesn't have to be at a specific time of day. It doesn't even have to cost money. It just has to be me + the hubs - the kiddo = FUN!

In order to make this resolution happen, I need to figure out what has kept us from doing it on a regular basis before now.

1) Most often, the biggest obstacle to us going on a date is money! We actually don't even have a line item in our budget for entertainment. We're pretty busy just trying to pay the bills. However, I think I have a few ways to fix that.
  • Gift cards. We received several restaurant gift cards for Christmas this year. We can save those and use them throughout the year to offset the cost of our dinner.
  • Bargain hunting. There are often great local restaurant and entertainment deals on Groupon and Living Social. I've already got a few of those tucked away to use this year. For example, I can't wait for us to get artsy together at Paint Along.
  • Coupons. I also plan to get a new 2011 copy of the Entertainment Book or Citipass. There are tons of 50% off or BOGO coupons for food and entertainment.
  • Freebies. One of my favorite things we used to do was walking around the Opryland Hotel. I'm so glad it is finally open again. I also would like to incorporate some outdoorsy stuff into our dates this year for the hubby's sake. I'm even considering camping. I hate camping! But, somehow, the idea of calling it a date makes it sound a little (teensy tiny) bit romantic.
2) The next obstacle is typically childcare. Well, not finding it so much as having to pay for a babysitter. Here here are my solutions for both.
  • Find 12. I plan to go down my list of family and friends and select 12 people who I trust (and who would agree to said babysitting). Then, I'm gonna assign them a month. When their month rolls around I will contact them to work out the details of when and what time we would like to drop her off and pick her up. Best of all, I have some folks on my list who I trust overnight (and would agree to it). Anybody want to go ahead and pick out your month? I am totally willing to be one of your 12 too! ;)
  • Out-of-town grandparents. My entire family lives in Alabama and they are always itching to see Skylar. So, whenever they are here or we are there (and time permits) we are gonna put those grandparents to good use. Mike and I get time alone and they get 1-on-1 time with their only grandchild. It's a win-win!
3) Finally, the last obstacle is finding the time. I am a big time planner but my hubby is not. Sometimes date opportunities come up at the last minute. Sometimes they don't.
  • I'm gonna designate the last weekend of every month as date weekend. If something hasn't come up by the 3rd weekend then that gives us a week to figure out what we want to do and line up childcare.
I think I have solved all my "date" obstacles. I'm curious, How often do you go on a date with your significant other?

January 2, 2011

Yes, I Paid My Child To Eat

I swore I would never be the mom who made umpteen different entrées to appease each family member at dinner time. Boy, did I ever eat those words (yeah, pun totally intended).

When the little girl was a baby, she ate everything. I never gave her baby food out of the jar. She ate pureed or mashed table food. Honestly, I took great pride in knowing that she was getting fresh fruits and veggies with no preservatives made with love by momma. Lotta good that did.

She went through a picky toddler stage where she ate little to nothing. I took the approach of making sure she had something I KNOW she would eat for lunch and then making sure that she at least had milk with dinner. That way, even if she didn't eat any of her meal, she would have something in her tummy to get her by until morning.

I can still honestly say that she will eat any fruit I put in front of her and, for that, I am very thankful! However, during the holidays I noticed just how picky she had gotten. We had tons of left overs to be eaten, yet I was making her popcorn shrimp or a sandwich or spaghetti. At almost 4, she's become quite vocal about her mealtime preferences.

I came across this new e-book, The Happy Housewife's Guide to Picky Eaters. I was intrigued and it was FREE! Why not? I got frustrated as I was reading because I have literally tried ALL of her suggestions, plus some, over the course of the last 3 years. Then I came to page 13 entitled, "Pay Your Kids To Try New Foods."

I talked it over with the hubby. He was concerned that she wouldn't understand the money concept. I decided I would word it like this...

We are going to have a new dinner time game. Do you see this? This is a dime. A dime is money. Every time you try a new food, I will give you one dime. When you get 10 dimes, that is enough to go to the store to buy a new toy.

I saved her the speech on sales tax. I figure if we make it to 10, I'll gladly chip in a tax bonus. :)

The first item up for bids was Taco Soup and, by George, she ate it! Not the entire bowl, but she did have 4 bites all on her own accord. I'm still in shock. I don't know that it will always be this easy. Maybe we just had beginners luck. Who cares? My kid ate taco soup with no tears, no drama and NO WHINING!

So, yes, I paid my child to eat. I think the score will rest at 1 for the Little Girl, 1 for Mommy. I rather like a tie now and again. :D

Today: New Year's Day & The Bacon Explosion

I didn't make it until midnight. Mike was sound asleep by 10. I was in bed jamming to iTunes with my headphones and working on my laptop but decided to call it quits around 11:30. Happy New Year! *insert noise-makers here.*

My dear hubby let me sleep in until 8:30 on New Year's Day. Ahhh....

We poked around all morning and finally got dressed to have our traditional meal at Cracker Barrel. We typically go for dinner but did lunch instead this year. The wait wasn't too bad at 30 minutes. However, we counted that we have been going to the same Cracker Barrel for the last 6 out of 7 years on NYD. Next year, I am seriously going to contact them about a VIP card so we can skip the wait. Surely my loyalty is worth that much. :)

The little girl refused to eat the black-eyed peas again. I know they are just superstitions but, I won't lie, this thought did cross my mind: Last year she refused to eat the peas too and our year was horrible. I wonder if SHE is the reason. I even offered her a jelly-covered pea but she wasn't having it. :(

Back home, I put my picky eater down for a nap and started reading my book. Well, that combined with my nice, big lunch made me very sleepy so I took a nap. I can't wait for next week so I can get back to my regular schedule. The holidays have me all out of whack. I stay up late. Than I am cranky and tired the next morning. That usually results in a nap, which usually results in me going to bed late again and the cycle repeats. I NEED my routine back, badly!

I woke up to the smell of bacon. A powerful smell of bacon. My hubby and his buddy were creating something called a Bacon Explosion. I lovingly started calling it The Baconator. Basically, it's TWO pounds of bacon, TWO pounds of sausage, and a whole lot of time on the grill. Otherwise known as A-Heart-Attack-Waiting-To-Happen. Oh, mercy, it was delicious (but my house STILL smells like bacon)!

We spent the remainder of our New Year's Day munching on the "Culinary Coronary" at our neighbor's house and hanging out with friends. Not a bad start to 2011!

My 2011 Resolutions

Drum roll please......

In 2011, I resolve to

January 1, 2011

New Year's Day Superstitions

On New Year's Day I follow certain "rules." Some call them superstitions. I don't know that I'm extremely superstitious but my MeMaw is who got me started with these. Growing up, she would remind us of these year after year. I'm a creature of habit and once I start with a tradition, I usually stick with it.

So, here are the the superstitions we will be observing (and have always followed) on New Year's Day.
  1. A dark-haired man must be the first to enter your door.
  2. No washing dishes or laundry or taking out of the trash.
  3. Eat something green (money).
  4. Eat black-eyed peas and leave a few on your plate (luck).
The first one is a bit tricky but we usually manage by sending Mike (my dark-haired hubby) out the garage or back door so that he can walk around and knock on the front door. hehe. Number two is clearly my favorite for obvious reasons. Supposedly this is to keep you from "washing" someone out of your family. In order to accomplish 3 & 4 we created a new tradition for our own little family. Since Mike and I got married, we have always eaten at Cracker Barrel on New Year's Day. Best of all, they serve black-eyed peas FREE with every meal on this particular day!

Just to prove that I'm not completely crazy, here's a list of some other superstitions.

Do you follow any New Year's Day superstitions or traditions?