January 31, 2012

January 2012 in Photos

Don't forget to read the January Update.


January 2012 Update

I love the fresh start of a new year and this January has been pretty good. Mainly, because the weather has been simply delightful considering it's the middle of winter. Of course, we had a few rainy days but the temps have been exceptionally mild. Thank you Mother Nature.

So, family update. Shall we start with the girl? Let's. She turned five. I got wrapped up in party planning and totally forgot that she was really gonna get older hence the reason I had a gigantic lump in my throat when her little friends sang the birthday song. It's hard to believe she's five.
She's reading like crazy and now has library privileges at school. She's super pumped about this especially since she gets to check out a new book EVERY DAY! She got her second report card and we are thrilled with how well she is doing academically [insert my standard praise for Montessori here]. :)

Moving on to Mike. He just got back from his annual camping trip with the boys. Typically, they have to contend with freezing cold temps. This time, they had to deal with rain and flooding. Of course, they always love some sort of camping challenge. Mike is still working at Bass Pro and really enjoying it. He's been working most every weekend but I tease that he does so to get out of chauffeuring tLG to various birthday parties every Saturday.

Speaking of camping, with Mike out of town, Skylar and I had our 2nd annual "No Boys Allowed Party." She had two little friends who came and spent the night. They painted and dressed up and played and watched a movie and ate popcorn and built a fort. They all had sleeping bags and ended up staying asleep in the fort all night long. I was impressed, especially since it was in my bedroom. Ha! They had a blast! We topped off the next morning with some sliding down the stairs and a dance party for good measure. Fun was had by all. In fact, I can't wait to do it again next year.
As for me, I took time to reflect on 2011 and made resolutions for 2012. Work is picking up more and more and I suspect that will be the case until we go to our upcoming conference in April. In other news, I wrote an article for a magazine last summer that was officially published this month. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty cool seeing my name in print. It makes me giggle.
Finally, I took the plunge and am pursuing my doula certification. I'm so excited about this venture! You can read more about my decision here.

Just a quick note to thank everyone who is now popping over to follow us from our old Easysite. I know change can be difficult but I hope you still find everything you were getting over there (and maybe more) even though it's in a slightly different format.

Until next month....

January 26, 2012

Resolution #4: Eat Whole Foods

This post is a continuation of the details regarding my 2012 resolutions.
Yep, this is the resolution that falls into the infamous health category. There has been more and more talk lately regarding how many health problems can be resolved or prevented simply through diet changes. There is also a lot of chatter about how detrimental "preservatives" are to our bodies. I certainly try to eat healthy but, let's be honest, it's not easy or cheap. Besides, I have a sweet tooth that is out of this world. However, with all that being said, I'm really trying to make an effort to eat more whole foods. Chocolate is a whole food, right? Wait, don't answer that.

You might be thinking, what does she mean by "whole foods". Good question. I think I've been headed in this direction for a while now but I finally decided to slap a name on it and go with it. For starters, it simply means to purchase real food. Like, fresh produce versus canned or jarred or even frozen produce. It means planning our meals around seasonal items. It also means means making more things from scratch, like pizza dough. It means that I shop the perimeter of the grocery store more than the aisles of the store. It means I'm reading labels and trying to avoid preservatives and other things like high-fructose corn syrup.

So far, this one has been going pretty well. The biggest thing was just getting back into the habit of meal planning again. That has made a huge difference as far as what we eat, not to mention the organizational benefits. My type A gene is turning cartwheels. I feel really good about the meals I've been eating. I can't say that my other housemates have "drank the koolaid" so to speak but I'm hoping they will come around. After all, it has been smelling delicious up in my kitchen recently.

Now, do I eat whole foods at every meal? No. However, this is a resolution that I certainly hope to make a habit and evolve it even more over the years but I think this is a good place to start.

January 18, 2012

FIVE

I'm not sure who told this girl
that she could grow up into this girl
but she has.

We don't do a birthday party every year, which is a story in itself, but we do go all out to celebrate milestone birthdays. FIVE is a milestone. It's half a decade. It's the year you go to Kindergarten. Besides, it has a nice ring to it... fiiiiive! So we celebrated for, you guessed it, 5 days.

Day 1 - This was supposed to be her "walk around the sun celebration" at school but she got a snow day instead. This was also the day my mom arrived from out of town. It's always fun to have grandparents around. Just ask tLG who was literally counting down the minutes until they arrived.

Day 2 - This was the biggest celebration day. We started with a party for her closest friends at one of her favorite places, Art Life. It was an All Art, All Animal party. They did a printmaking project followed by clay sculptures.
It was so much fun and we finished up with cake and presents! I'm not gonna lie, I was totally choked up with a lump in my throat as her sweet friends sang happy birthday. I think I had gotten distracted with all the planning and was in complete denial about this turning 5 business.
That night we had a family party with all of her cousins and Mike's family. I served baked spaghetti at the tLG's request and I don't even think she touched her plate. Imagine that! The kids played, the adults chatted and sipped wine, and my mom did the dishes (bless her). At the end we all sat and watched the year 4 video that I had been working on.
Day 3 - Exhausted doesn't even begin to explain how we felt after day 2. Skylar slept until 9:30, a new and very impressive personal best for my non-sleeper. We didn't quite make it to church but saw Yah Yah and Paw Paw off and played puzzles and LeapPad for the rest of the day. Sunday night, the celebration continued with leftover wine, birthday cake, and the Golden Globes. Okay, so maybe that was my own little party. :)

Day 4 - The ACTUAL birthday. Skylar woke up saying "I'm five, I'm five, I'm really five!" Very sweet. School was out due to MLK day so we celebrated by going to see Beauty & the Beast in 3D.
We ended January 16th with dinner at Sakura. The birthday girl was not impressed with the "fire" nor was she amused by the loud drum they played to sing the birthday song. However, she cherished the little paper umbrella they gave her as a souvenir so all was not lost.
Day 5 - We finally were able to make up her "walk around the sun" ceremony at school, which is a Montessori style birthday celebration. Basically, the child holds a globe and walks around a sun figure placed on a mat. The parents get to tell interesting facts about the child at each age and show pictures. Then, they sing a little song for each year and the child completes their rotation. So, this year, Skylar was able to "walk around the sun" five times. She had been looking forward to this for weeks and it actually turned out perfect that this was the final stop on the birthday train express.
I still can't believe this kid is five. We have been so blessed to nurture her and watch her grow for half a decade. Lord only knows what the next five years will hold.

January 15, 2012

FOUR revisited

Tomorrow my baby girl turns five. Whoa! But, today, we are all about celebrating FOUR. If you love me or my child, you will spare 10 minutes to watch this video. I promise you will be entertained. It's the usual slideshow video with the interview at the end but there are lots of surprises mixed in. :) I wish I could show you the HD version (so much better) but Blogger has those pesky size limitations. Oh well. I hope you enjoy it anyway!


Now, some of you might be asking about the song. The past few years, I've chosen very traditional and sentimental songs. This was the year that my girl became very opinionated about many things including fashion and I thought this music selection was a little more appropriate. In fact, I love the way her 4th video turned out. Okay, okay, I'll admit. Part of it is because I'm now using iMovie to edit these little jewels. Love my McWater. :)

January 6, 2012

Resolution #2: Buy Second Hand

Here's another 2012 resolution that I've been working on for a while but I want to really focus on it more and more.

I've been a fan of Goodwill for quite sometime and I've both bought and sold on Ebay & Craigslist. I recently discovered Southern Thrift, a local second hand shop in my area. When I think back over the deals I have gotten, I've really never gotten a bad deal. In fact, right now I'm typing on a used MacBook Pro that I bought on Ebay for half the original price and I love it! I can think back to other purchases like furniture and clothes and toys and home decor. Everything works fine and looks beautiful. In fact, most people would never guess that I bought said item second hand unless I brag on it.

At the end of 2011, I started making a list of all the items we need for our home. The budget is tight so there is never really any extra for things other than necessities. We decided to use a portion of the monetary gifts we received at Christmas to purchase some things we need for the house. I didn't have a lot to start with but I wanted to make it stretch as far as possible in hopes of getting everything on our list. Second hand seemed the way to go. In fact, there is only 1 item on the list that I can think of that I will have to buy new (pans & rings for stovetop).

So far, I have bought...

Cooler for the lake (with wheels!!!), $10
Hanging Canvas Shoe organizer (28 cubbies), $15
Queen Egyptian Cotton Sheets (2 pair), $22
Queen Mattress Cover (padded), $15

*Let me just add that vinegar and hot water go a long way when washing second hand items. In fact, our bed has never felt more cozy and smells so good! I love it.

Knowing the types of deals that I can get are good motivation to keep buying used. It's not just the deals that motivate me to buy used either. Part of it is knowing that I'm being "green". Reduce, reuse, recycle. Buying second hand has all of those wrapped into one. I know that there may be times when I have to buy new but I am going to do my best to shop second hand first. It's amazing what you can find used if you just look for it. Sometimes it's available immediately. Sometimes you just have to keep checking back. I'm going to do my best to practice patience and not run out to buy something new.

I was joking around on New Year's that my 2012 motto will be out with the old, in with the USED! Kinda catchy, don't ya think?


January 2, 2012

Resolution #1: Simplify

If I had to pick one word to describe my overall resolutions for this year, this is it: SIMPLIFY!

I'm over the clutter, over the drama, over all the extra. All of my resolutions have derived from this one word. We are pairing down as far as "stuff" goes and I'm hoping that the hussle and bussle that is our life follows suit. Last year, I practiced saying "no" a lot. No to more responsibilities. No to stuff we didn't need. No to calendar conflicts. No to things that didn't make sense. I aim to continue to do that rather than trying to cram it all in.

I've already been purging our home of items that are just taking up space and I hope to be able to keep the clutter under control this year. To me, simplify = organized. When things are organized, everything is simpler to find and easier to do. In my world, the following is also true. Simplify = routine. Repetition breeds familiarity thus making every day tasks, you guessed it, simpler. :)

Check back to read how this one world intertwines it's way into my other 2012 resolutions.

2011 - Year In Review

Here are my random memories as I think back over this last year. I may add more as they come to me.

I remember snow and LOTS of it. We had SO much snow that you could literally roll huge mounds of it for a snowman. I remember that my rainbow colored rainboots were one of my most prized possessions of the year because they made both snow and rain fun! Well, kinda.

I remember the all-too-brief month that I hired a Mother's Helper. I am so thankful we got to know Karlee. She was a wonderful help when I needed an extra pair of hands and it allowed me to finish a huge short-term project for work.

I remember taking Skylar to the Children's Theater for the 1st time and being so pleased that she has finally reached an age where we could do more outings like that.

I remember venturing a whopping 3/4 mile from home to camp at the KOA. I still hate camping but Skylar loves it so I go. If I'm being honest, the KOA was pretty nice.

I remember spending an ENITRE Saturday doing art with Skylar because she needed a little TLC.

I remember getting up at 5 am to watch the Royal wedding. Skylar joined me after she woke up but we couldn't leave for school until she could see them kiss. That made it official in her eyes.

I remember our School's Out for Summer trip to Chattanooga and how excited we all were. We love that city and plan to make it an annual vacation spot. This trip is also when Skylar decided she was ready to swim again after a 2-year hiatus.

I remember lazy Fridays at the lake with the bestest of friends. I swear, this is the best $30 I spend all year.

I remember writing my 1st article for a magazine. It was so exciting to be contacted and even though I stressed myself out over every word, I enjoyed the process as well.

I remember the day Mike came home to tell me he lost his job. The rest of the year was tough but I finally feel like we are hopefully headed in the right direction again.

I remember struggling over a decision to change Skylar to a different classroom at Stanford but watching her thrive in the new environment.

I remember vacationing at the beach during Tropical Storm Lee and seeing Mike hit the jackpot at the arcade. My favorite part was seeing Skylar give away tickets to other kids.

I remember FINALLY coming up with an online name/acronym for Skylar that I actually liked and getting tickled that everyone automatically new what tLG stands for.

Of all our trips to Alabama I remember 4-wheeler rides with my Dad, Mike & Skylar and creating my first Advent calendar in mom's scrapbook room.

I remember that I needed a job and God provided a PERFECT fit for me in less than 24 hours. Not long after I started, I traveled to San Diego for the first time. It was absolutely beautiful there.

I remember Mike & I finally taking a vacation for just the two of us. I would guess that we slept at least 75% of the trip and I would pay good money to do it again. I remember eating every scrumptious bite of the adventurous food and our beautiful drive up the Cozumel coastline to the best snorkeling I've ever seen.

I remember having 3 friends pregnant at the same time and how exciting that was to experience. I remember meeting baby Silas for the first time and knowing that I could no longer resist my dream to become a doula. I also remember that God provided the money I needed to obtain my certification within days of this revelation.

I remember my birthday dinner with friends and falling in love with Rosemary Lemonade.

I remember many a Saturday at Lowe's helping my girl build all sorts of wooden toys. This became one of our favorite weekend activities.

I remember our annual holiday outing to the Opryland Hotel and letting Skylar wander around at her own little pace. She loved the maze-like sidewalks. I also remember that this year she was truly skeptical about the whole Santa thing but loved and cherished Red Robin. She was so sad when he had to go back to the North Pole.

I remember the super excited feeling I had on New Year's Eve as we looked toward 2012. Oh, the possibilities.

January 1, 2012

My 2012 Resolutions

It's that time of year again. Time to make New Year's Resolutions.

In 2012, I resolve to...
  1. Simplify!
  2. Buy second hand as much as possible.
  3. Complete my doula training.
  4. Eat more whole foods.
  5. Live beneath our means.
I hope to do a post on each of these items to share my vision for each but this will give you a general idea.

THE RESULTS: a look back at my 2012 resolutions