Monday, January 30, 2012

A Ranting She Will Go

Today was filled with chronos and kairos.  Educate yourself here about two such categories.  So, so true.  And by the day's end the smooth outweighed the bumpy.

Chronos
Our day started in the doctor's office.  I felt like the idiot mom dragging her kids to yet another sick appointment as they happily ran around the office while we waited.  And waited.  Waited for 90 minutes to be exact  Sorry, doc, but after a wait like that I did not feel sorry for you as you suffered through two funky diaper changes in that small office.  My typically sweet, easy going, considerate Garrett just hadn't been himself since Thursday.  Irritable, fussy, decreased appetite, and more rolling-on-the-floor fits than normal.  His cough had gotten nasty over the weekend and since the boys are finally getting tubes in their ears next week I didn't want the pre-op appointment to be a fail if he had yet another infection.  For the record, this makes the 17th ear-related visit in 15 months between both boys.  Mind you that does not count well check ups and visits for RSV, Croup, Rotavirus, and Roseola.  Anyway, my instinct was right: Garrett has another ear infection.  Which also made me instantly recount every single time I lost my patience with him in the last three days...awesome, Mom.  You let your frustrations get the best of you and your kid was only trying to tell you he's sick.  To top it off the pharmacy was unable to fill the prescription until tomorrow.  

BUT

Kairos
The boys behaved BEAUTIFULLY in the waiting room, playing with toys, chasing each other, laughing, eating their entire lunch, and yes, climbing on chairs (but by that point I didn't care).  I stopped.  In the moment.  And took in their sweet giggles, agile legs, tousled blond hair, and loved watching them interact knowing they have a play mate for life.

***

Chronos
Then we came home, the boys napped, and I started another pot of soup.  I looked at the mile-long grocery list, told my brother I'd help them pick up their nursery furniture, and then started thinking about the week ahead and how there was no free time to swap the cars, pick up dinner for a friend, and run these stinkin' errands on my list (because when I tried to run them on Sunday during nap time and I was able to get out alone two of the three places were closed, go figure).  Normally I would shrug this off and what gets done gets done.  But today for some reason my heart raced, I felt flustered, and I just couldn't come up with a logical plan.  I'd rather sit in that doctor's office again for close to two hours than take two restless toddlers grocery shopping.

BUT

Kairos
My mom called.  At the exact right moment.  How do they know how to do that?  She said she wanted to help out and see the boys sometime this week.  After I explained my silly anxiety she simply said, "Great, I'll be there at 1:30 tomorrow."  And poof, just like that everything fell into place.  It also helped that I was able to get Gavin back to sleep mid-nap; some part-time work fell into my lap thanks to a friend's recommendation; and my neighbor could supply the one missing ingredient for tonight's girls' night dinner.

AND

Kairos
When the boys woke up I decided we needed a treat.  So we headed to Sweet Frog.  And instead of loading them into the stroller we held hands, walked across the street together, and enjoyed a late afternoon snack date.  They each got their own yogurt cups, filled them with strawberry and vanilla with my help, sat in the high spin-around chairs, and with every bite held their spoons high like they'd just won a first place trophy and shouted, "Wooooaaa!"  I don't have a picture to capture their sheer delight, but I definitely took one in my mind.  It was one of those 'I'll never forget this ordinary afternoon' moments and I smiled to watch their sticky faces swallow huge, cold bites and couldn't really believe my babies have gotten so big.

***


And even though it's almost midnight and I'm supposed to be up in 5 hours for a morning run to do it all over again tomorrow, tonight I'm thinking of...

How sweet it is to watch a sleeping child, even if it means he's sick because it's the only time he'll really snuggle in my arms, let me run my hands through his hair, and rub his head, only for me to feel his first scar that was caused by an over the handlebars tumble just before Christmas.

A local heartbroken mother who's mourning the loss of her sweet twin girls and their father.

A nervous friend, who tomorrow will share the story of losing her son the day he was born.

And I'm thankful for what I have.  Even the stupid, frustrating chronos moments.  And more importantly, the stop-you-in-your-tracks-this-is-what-it's-supposed-to-be-about kairos moments.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the Kitchen - Soup's On!

The cold temps had me craving soup recently, so I gave these two recipes a go and am hooked!  I'm already making a second batch to freeze.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup - aka "Golden Goodness"
(adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe)

3 T olive oil
1 T curry powder
2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into cubes
1 c chopped onion
3/4 c chopped carrot
1/2 chopped celery
1/4 c minced ginger 
1 T minced garlic
3 1/2 c chicken stock
1 t salt
1/4 t fresh ground pepper

In a medium saucepan heat oil on medium high about 30 seconds.  Add curry powder and toast, stirring constantly for about 1 minute.  Add squash, onions, carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic and saute until lightly caramelized, about 3-4 minutes.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are softened.  With an immersion blender puree soup until silky smooth.  If you don't have an immersion blender you can transfer the soup in batches and puree in a blender.  Simmer pureed soup until ready to serve.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Tips/tricks:
-utilize a food processor - it makes chopping a snap
-buy the jarred minced ginger in the produce section
-any leftover chopped onion can be frozen and used straight from the freezer in your next recipe

Serving ideas:
-pair with a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich
-garnish soup with a dolop of cream and bacon crumbles or chopped cilantro

image from thesensualfoodie.com

California Pizza Kitchen's Dakota Smashed Pea and Barley Soup
(thank you, Aunt Dottie)

1 lb dried split peas, sorted and rinsed
1/2 c pearl barley 
2 qts water (I actually used 4 c water and 4 c chicken broth)
1/2 t salt
2 bay leaves
1 T soy sauce
1 T chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 T dried)
2 t minced garlic
1/2 rubbed dried sage
large pinch ground cumin
2 c chopped carrots
2/3 c chopped onion
3/4 c chopped celery

In large pot combine peas, barley, water, salt ,bay leaves, soy sauce, thyme, garlic, sage, and cumin.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in carrots, onion, and celery.  Cover and simmer until all veggies are tender, another 25-30 minutes.  Check periodically, adding small amounts of water if needed.  Discard bay leaves.  Puree with hand blender if desired.  Simmer until ready to serve. 

image from healthygirlskitchen.blogspot.com














Saturday, January 28, 2012

Craftastic - Craft Night, part 1

Last night got pretty wild and crazy...wooo hoo!  Some fellow multiples mommies came over to take part in our first ever 'Craft Night.'  Yep, craft night.  After some chatter of a much needed girls' night and the desire to show our creative side (thank you, Pinterest) we decided to merge the two and use it as an excuse to get together.  Laugh all you want, hubbies.  I hope putting the kids to bed went smoothly for you.

First things first...there's a few rules we decided to put in place:
1) The hostess mustn't clean her house ahead of time.
2) Guests must be at peace with crusted spaghetti sauce on the floor, stale Cheerios under their feet, and hardened raisins in the corner.  It's also ok for guests and host to have unidentifiable dried food on their clothes.
3) Artistic ability not required.
4) Cheap project ideas appreciated.
5) Snacks optional, wine required.

Secondly...who are these gals that make me feel so normal?

Bethany and I met in November 2009 when we were both furniture shopping.  Our husbands shot each other 'oh-my-gosh-what-the-hell-are-we-doing?' looks from across a nursery display and we all got to talking, only to quickly find out we were both expecting twin boys just two days apart.  Fast forward four months later.  Garrett and Gavin were almost three weeks old and two babies (fraternal boys) were admitted right next to them in the NICU.  It was oddly busy and noisy that night in the NICU and these newborns definitely let us know they'd arrived.  The next morning I recognized Bethany and her husband from our furniture shopping adventure and we immediately reconnected.  We got to know each other much more over the next three weeks as all four of our boys spent some time in the hospital.  On April 1st both of our families were discharged...it was quite an amazing Easter weekend that year:)  These days I get together with their nanny and all the boys for play time at the Children's Museum or at Maymont and our families remain close.  Bethany and I frequently share 'is this normal' emails and texts; dinner get togethers are a circus show; and double date night (sans kids) is a real treat..seriously, thank goodness for chance encounters!

Amanda has triplets (identical boys, fraternal girl) who will be 3 in March.  Coincidentally, I went to high school with her husband and brother-in-law, but we actually got to know each other through a mutual friend (who's now a twin mommy herself!).  Amanda was one of my angels when I was on bed rest in the hospital and a true source of support after the birth of the boys as we navigated our way through the NICU since she'd been down a much more trying road the year before.  She's supplied my boys with over half of their wardrobe since we don't shy away from hand-me-downs and she's my impromptu play date and Starbucks drive-thru buddy. 

Carianne has identical girls who are 15 months old.  Carianne reached out through our local moms of multiples group while she was on hospitalized bed rest (in the same room I'd been).  We chatted over email and set up a time for me to visit.  I could relate all too well what it was like to spend hours on end in room 381 with its hideous green and pink floral wall paper staring right back.  I often wanted to throw the overcooked green beans on my plate at the damn wall.  Turns out Carianne did too:)  The day I paid her a visit Carianne was about 32 weeks along.  I'd planned on sharing some magazines, a baby gift, and any helpful advice to ease her mind.  When I arrived the lactation consultant was in her room and I remember thinking how tiny Carianne looked for carrying twins.  She also looked pale and tired, but sitting in a sterile hospital room for an extended time can do that to someone.  Little did I know she'd delivered her girls the day before!  Healthy and stable, but tiny and premature, nonetheless.  Her husband explained what had happened and I suddenly felt ruder than rude barging in on her less than 24 hours after delivery with my silly, frilly tissue paper filled bag.  Not to mention I had two restless boys in their stroller as well.  Her tired, pale, frail look all made sense.  We stayed in touch throughout her girls' NICU stay and I had the pleasure of having a sleepover with them once they were all home since Dad had a business trip.  These days we like to meet up at a coffee shop complete with a kids play area (genius concept!).  Frozen yogurt happens to be a favorite spot too, as are each of our kids' playrooms.  

And thirdly...our reason for getting together...a craft project!  We decided to create a way to hang/organize/display hair bows using a strip of ribbon attached to a decorative letter (first initial of the recipient's name).  Scrapbook paper, modge podge, ribbon, wooden letters, embellishments, staple gun, and PRESTO!  Oh, and the wine, chips and dip, and cookies were an added plus too.  Not to mention the good company.







Friday, January 27, 2012

World War III

Most common causes of WWIII (in the eyes of two almost-2 year olds) in the Watson household:

1) fighting over the pantry cabinet door to get out raisins or a Nutri-Grain bar
2) scrambling out of cribs to get the "Old MacDonald" farm truck first
3) making enough room for each other on Daddy's lap
4) diaper changes
5) leaving shoes and socks on while riding in the car
6) nightly teeth brushing sessions
7) traffic jams in the crawl-thru tunnel
8) walking from the car to the house and vice versa
9) headbutting in the stroller
10) Mommy boycotting cannon balls in the bathtub
11) wearing bibs

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cabin Fever

For the record I spent majority of nap time today (which, to my benefit right now, is lasting longer than normal) writing this post.  I saved it for later to add a video clip, came back to it, and it's gone.  Gone.  I'm kind of sweating right now and want to throw the computer out the window.  It makes me feel like my only 'me-time' of the day was a total waste and my mind is kind of a blank slate again.  Blogger, I hate you right now.

The gist was this...(minus the clever commentary or side-tracked stories to boot):

Even though today is sunny and 60, the last three days have been cold, wet, gray, dreary, and damp.  This results in no wagon rides, no playground visits, no races down the sidewalk, no kicking the neighbor's soccer balls, no bike riding, and no running through the spider grass that grows wildly at our curb.  When we do venture out it requires moving at lightening speed to get from the car to a shelter, be it the mall, children's museum, grocery store, library, or restaurant.  Enter cabin fever.  

Plan A: couch bouncing.
Plan B: 
crafts (thank you, Joy!)
Ok, so it's a little horror-like, but we're calling it art.
 And plans C, D, E, and beyond:
having friends over to eat breakfast for lunch
playing with Nana
story hour
visiting the ENT (tubes coming next month!)
watching football
music class
coffee break at Chick Fil A
playing catch
building a fire
exploring new library books
climbing (no sitting) on our just-right-size chairs
perfecting our bear walks and penguin waddles
unrolling toilet paper
trying new snacks
playing mailman
reciting reading Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site
practicing new animal sounds, namely sssssssssssnake 




Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Get a Grip

image from maryphillipsdesigns.com
I've been brainstorming in my head how I wanted to recap yesterday's 'mom fail' day, but it turned out sounding like a huge martyr me, fishing for compliments, pity party.  Oh puh-lease.  Yes, I threw a tantrum yesterday morning after Joe left because I must've woken up on the wrong side of the bed and coming downstairs to a dirty kitchen didn't help my mood and trying to reason with two screaming toddlers finally pushed me over the edge.  It doesn't help that all the boys do these days is call for Daddy, which contributes ten-fold to my feelings of inadequacy as a mother.  But to be honest, after seeing their psycho mom in action I'd cry for Daddy too.  However, after taking a time-out and eating my oatmeal outside (yes, it was 40 degrees) on the deck and gulping my quickly-growing-cold coffee, we loaded up into the car and volunteered at church where I was forced to put on a happy face and just get over things.  Because let's face it, everyone has 'those kind of days' and what's so special about mine?!?!

Then last night happened.  Joe and I foolishly crawled into bed well after midnight.  I'd like to say that we had a romantic in-home date night, but really I was at a meeting until 9:30; Joe worked in the garage; and then we stayed up folding four loads of laundry, watching HGTV, and playing Words With Friends.  And right as we  settled into bed Gavin started stirring and began his restless party that lasted until after 2:00am.  Usually I'm the one that gets up with the boys, and honestly, sometimes those late night snuggles are sweet and priceless, so I don't mind swaying in place or sitting in the dark listening to their rhythmic breaths and watching the clock flip its numbers.  But lately Joe has started going in their room because now when they wake up it's, "Daaa-eeee!"  Sigh.  He must have the magic touch, because Gavin's fussiness escalated to full blown screaming as I attempted to settle him back down, so in utter frustration I handed him off to Joe, huffed out of the room, and slammed our bedroom door.  Then Garrett woke up.  Awesome.  Mom fail again.  Wife fail too.  And let me mention that as Joe worked his magic I read my People magazine only to stumble across a movie review about a mother who never bonded with her son and he became a serial killer.  Oh geeze.

Joe left for working this morning after asking me, "You going to be ok today?"  He won't be home till late tonight because more Jeep duty calls in the garage ("Garage Widow" post coming soon).  But yea, I'll be ok even though a dad of teenage twins looked me in the eye today and said, "It's just going to get harder, you know."  This transpired, of course, as I was trying to prevent the boys from head butting each other as they sat in the shopping cart at the grocery store - one that's being remodeled so nothing is in its place and I just needed to find the damn cereal aisle for a box of overpriced Cracklin' Oat Bran that I happen to love.  Actually, I'll be better than ok.  Because despite the few things that tick me off during the day, there are far more things for which I'm grateful, especially perspective.

I'm grateful that my boys have a "Daaaa-eee" to scream for.  Joe is a super hands on, loving, fun, supportive, and considerate dad (and husband too).  In the last twelve hours I've heard of two families who suddenly lost their young dads and husbands.  And I just read an article suggesting that parents of multiples have a higher divorce rate. Unimaginable.  But it happens.

I'm grateful that I can go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a new 'super green' smoothie recipe we want to try today.  And that I can splurge on overpriced cereal sometimes.  And that the boys ate all of their breakfast today instead of throwing it across the dining room.

I'm grateful that the boys held my hand today and walked like little men into church this morning instead of running off like wild monkeys or flopping on the ground like fish out of water.

I'm grateful that we have a yard where my boys can run around even if they are supposed to be walking inside so we can get lunch going.

I'm grateful that when Gavin fell off the brick wall in our neighbor's yard it wasn't actually an injury-inducing one, but a tumble that just scared him.  And I'm grateful that I have two healthy boys who can run and laugh at all because some parents aren't so lucky.

I'm grateful for the ladies in my church group this morning who reminded me this morning that I am indeed accountable for my actions; that there's no need to gossip about others or indulge them in my own woes; and I should never tire of doing good.  But I'm also grateful for having friends that let me vent.  We're all only human.

I'm grateful that I came across this today:

Let us not lose heart.  On tough days you've got to have heart.  Don't quit.  Persevere.  Stand firm.  Be strong, resilient, determined to see it through.  Work on building a protective shield around your heart, stabilizing you.

It sounds like it pertains to a big goal, overcoming a huge obstacle, or one's mantra for life.  I find it most applicable in my everyday interactions with my kids.  I even told my friend I should pin the phrase to their backs or write it on their foreheads.  Because being a mom is a big ever-changing goal with lots of obstacles and the role of a lifetime.

And I'm grateful for good naps today so that I can sit in my silent house, regroup, get a grip, put on my big girl panties, and move on.  Woe is me.  Oh puh-lease. 











Monday, January 16, 2012

In the Kitchen - Sweet Tooth

One of the reasons I run is because I love (L.O.V.E.) to bake.  And by bake I mean prepare the good stuff, lick the bowl/sample the batter/inhale the cookie dough, and then give away share most of the final product with willing taste testers and good friends.  It's kind of a problem....no matter if I've eaten a huge meal I'll still want something sweet when I'm finished.  Even if it's 11p.m. I've been frequently known to start a made from scratch batch of cookies just so I can eat a few bites of dough.  And when all else fails or my baking cabinet is empty I go for a scoop of peanut butter.

So when my Aunt Carol had a double batch of Mint Devil's Food Cookies on hand when we were in Kansas I did my VERY BEST to ration myself to two a day, at which I was surprisingly successful.  But then I got my hands on the recipe and made them at home and my self control has gone down the drain.  They're that good.  Aunt Carol calls them lumpy, bumpy, chewy, melty, minty, nutty, chocolate cookies.  I call them irresistibly sinful.

MINT DEVIL'S FOOD COOKIES
-3 (6oz) packages Andes mints (roughly chopped) - I actually used 2 (4.5oz) pkgs and threw in some extra chocolate chips, which worked well too
-1 (18.25oz) package Duncan Hines Devil Food Cake Mix (without the pudding in the mix)
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup chopped dry-roasted peanuts (I used walnuts)
-1/2 cup flaked coconut

Combine all ingredients, sample dough, drop by teaspoonfuls (Really?  Who eats a cookie that small...I went for the heaping tablespoon approach!) onto ungreased cookie sheet (or use a Sil Pat sheet - a non stick baking mat - one of my favorite kitchen tools!), and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.


But here's the best part....the cake mix and other ingredients make a great 'base' for endless options!  So when my dad asked me to bring dessert to dinner last night I made what I'd like to call Blondie Cookies. 

BLONDIE COOKIES
-1 pkg white cake mix
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup butterscotch chips
-3/4 cup white chocolate chips
-1/2 cup walnuts (Pecans or hazelnuts would be good too.)
1/2 cup flaked coconut

Combine all ingredients, sample dough, drop by heaping tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes.



With a base of a cake mix, eggs, and oil you can add whatever you want to make a cookie all your own.  My friend suggested yellow cake mix with peanut butter chips or chopped Reese Cups.  Don't like coconut and/or  nuts?  Double up on chips!  I'm thinking chocolate cake mix and toffee bits might be a good option.  Chocolate cake mix and Almond Joy candy pieces sounds pretty tempting too.  Now matter 'how the cookie crumbles' you'll undoubtedly have a treat to cure a sweet tooth.  And if you hate clean up, note that this just takes one bowl, a spoon, a measuring cup, and a cookie sheet. 

Tonight the running girls and I are getting together to watch our weekly episode of The Bachelor and I'll be bringing these to share because I've definitely had my fill of the dough, which if you ask me, is the best part of baking.  To top it off, one of the girls is making vanilla frozen yogurt, so I'm pretty sure we'll be enjoying cookie ice cream sandwiches tonight...

YUM-O!







Friday, January 13, 2012

TGIF the 13th

Around midnight on Thursday (so technically the start of Friday the 13th) Joe and I were on our way home from Wine Club dinner and my car got a flat tire.

Once we got home and the baby sitters left I discovered our kitchen sink was clogged.

A few hours later Joe had to get to work for a 'all hands on deck' meeting, complete with a vague agenda, alluding to a big announcement. Ok, dreadful.

And anytime Joe leaves the house meltdowns ensue because the boys are going through a major Daddy phase right now.

Ah, Friday the 13th.

I was born on a Friday the 13th, so they can't all be bad, right?

Right.

Well almost.  Albeit the boys boycotting lunch, screaming in the food court, and Gavin's total meltdown in the play area.

Our afternoon actually took a turn for better.  The boys slept for three hours.  THREE HOURS.  This is record breaking in our house.  Everyone woke up happy, a quick grocery store trip was a success, and then our friends arrived and the night started like this:


And when you have a friend that you don't have to clean up for and she can jump right into the chaos, you know she's a keeper.


Sidenote, because our nights used to look like this:


Valerie and I were actually friends in middle school, went to separate high schools, and eventually lost touch.  Fast forward 11 years later and we ran into each other at a bar, swapped numbers, and have remained close every since.  Tonight her husband was studying and mine was working on his Jeep, so what better way to spend the night together with our boys!


Which made for a very nice Friday night, indeed:)



Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bun in the Oven (NOT my oven)!

My great grandparents had 10 grandchildren. 

The Orrico Clan

My grandparents have 7 grandchildren (Brandon and I not pictured).

Madeleine, Jordan, Alex, Charlie, and Sam

And as of this summer my very own parents will have 3 grandchildren.

So the cat's out of the bag.

Garrett and Gavin have a cousin on the way!

My BROTHER is going to be a DAD.

My brother, who smeared my friend's new jean jacket in the mud and gave her a bloody nose the first time they met.  My brother, who made his first grade teacher laugh so hard that instead of reprimanding him she had to excuse herself into the hallway to compose herself.  My brother, who chased me around the yard with a gardening hoe until it landed on my head.  My brother, who fell off the high dive, landing on the cement, nearly giving my mom a heart attack.  My brother, who used to read the encyclopedia for fun.  My brother, who used to play 'ring and run' with me and hide in our backyard Army tent.  My brother, who cleaned up too much after the parties he threw, totally blowing his cover to my parents.  My brother, who used a red pen to make my Barbies anatomically correct (sorry Mattel, you forgot the nipples).  My brother, who read my diary in 6th grade and spied on me from the attic in 9th grade.  My brother, who used to ride his bike next to me as I logged miles before volleyball tryouts every summer.  My brother, who stole every base possible in our front yard kickball games.  My brother, who was paid off with a mere $20 to keep quiet about my friends and I sneaking out.  My brother, who used to be one hell of a first baseman, had a damn good forehand on the tennis court, and still hits the heck out of the ball on the golf course.  My brother, who only called me in college to borrow the car.  My brother, who still only calls when he needs something.  My brother, who invited me to 99 cent wing night and watched movies with me as I pouted over a ridiculous over emotional break up.  My brother, who can play the trombone and piano and actually has a decent voice if he weren't so shy about his musical talent.  My brother, who coasted through high school and then graduated from college being able to recite math equations and trigonometric functions as easy as the rest of us say the Pledge of Allegiance.  My brother, who became a neat freak the day he became a home owner.  My brother, who I used to beg to do the Truffle Shuffle until he dropped some serious weight and got buff.  My brother, who can't relax and watch a Virginia Tech football game at the same time.  My brother, who can drink bourbon like it's water.  My brother, who until recently thanks to his dear nephews, had never changed a diaper in his life.

My BROTHER is going to be a DAD.

Now of course none of this could be possible without his wife Lindsay, who happens to be the kindest, prettiest, most patient and tolerant thing that's happened to Brandon.  And her sweet tea southern accent is icing on the cake.  The smartest thing he's done was to hang on to her.  When they got engaged I was as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.  Their wedding was a blast.  And there was no doubt who the boys' Godmother would be.  So, with the news of a baby on the way I'm over the moon!

And baby makes 3! 
Buckle up, get ready, and enjoy the ride:) 
Baby Moss will make its debut in July.



Monday, January 9, 2012

Craftastic - Memo Boards, Candy Wreath, and Wall Letters

When the holiday bug bit last year it sent me running to Michael's, Ben Franklin, and Hobby Lobby.  It all started with my mom telling me she wanted a memo board to put on her desk to hold more of the boys' pictures.  And so it was decided that most of the women in my family would all be receiving the same thing for Christmas.  I can't say I ended up saving a ton of money by going the craft route instead of retail, but I enjoyed the process, didn't spend a fortune, and felt good about giving something made by yours truly.  With some leftover supplies I was even able to make one for my friend's twin girls.


My friend Amy (aka Martha Stewart) also inspired me to make this and shared her know-how here.
 

And while we're talking crafts, another fun gift idea has been making wall letters for baby nurseries!  A co-worker surprised me with letters to hang above the boys' cribs at my shower and I love, love, love them.  After some serious scrutinizing I figured to give it a try myself and my dear friends let me be their guinea pigs as they decorated rooms for their little girls.  Verdict?  Success!


Creating something is therapeutic.  It's rather mindless, let's me share part of myself, and allows me to show something for my efforts. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wait for it...


Yep, that's steam coming off my coffee because it's still HOT.

Yep, that's the latest People magazine my mug is resting on because I have some serious reading to do today.

Yep, that's the Christmas tree skirt you see in the background because my Christmas decorations are still up.

Yep, that's a tiger ride-on toy just waiting for a joy rider, but wait...

wait for it....

my house is QUIET

with no reason for me to reheat my coffee 10 times before noon; no distractions tearing me away from the latest celebrity gossip; and no joy riders to use the tiger toy because Joe and his dad have taken the boys on a guy-thing day trip to handle boat stuff.  

And I have the house to myself to get things done (if I want), and if I'm productive lucky the decorations will finally be retired to the attic until next year.  And maybe the chili will get made.  And maybe the errands will get done.  Or maybe I'll give myself a pedicure and make these instead.

Better get busy.  Happy weekend!




Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oooooh boy!

When I found out I was having boys I kind of had a meltdown.  I wasn't disappointed.  I was shocked.  Our family was suddenly defined.  What was I going to do with two wild boys running around the house?  I love boys.  I had 15 out of 24 in my class that year.  It must have been a sign.
22 months later I couldn't imagine my life any other way.  Our days are filled with couch jumping (yep, I gave up that battle), sword fighting (oh gosh, wait until potty training begins and sword fights will take on a whole new meaning - gulp), truck racing, fire truck noises, airplane sightings, ball throwing, dancing (think Forest Gump imitating Elvis, running, playground visits, races down the slide, bike riding, adventures in the alley, trying on hats, loving on teddy bears, building and destroying towers, playing with trains, taking wagon walks, 'cooking' in the kitchen, working on the tool bench,  and meeting up with friends. If we don't have an action packed day sleep doesn't come easy and the walls start to close in on all of us.

In a nutshell
THEYNEVERSTOPMOVING!
Ready, set, go!

Airplanes!

Yes, a crib tent fort to contain bouncing babies:)



Southpaw.
Smoothie catastrophe.

Sword fight!

Attack!

Peek-a-boo!

Daddy!

Food fight.  Ugh.

Truck book+construction hat+no pants+snack+milk = happy kid.




Sunday, January 1, 2012

As we gather together this holiday season may our hearts be grateful, our mugs be full, and our pants be stretchy!

Disclaimer:  It's a long one.  But for the past couple weeks we were busily enchanted with a birthday celebration, family gatherings, Santa's visit, playtime with friends, and a great big airplane ride to Kansas.
***
In the week leading up to Christmas we celebrated Joe's big 4-0...lordy, lordy Joe is forty!!!  Our trip to San Francisco in October was anniversary, birthday, and Christmas all wrapped up in one, but there was no escaping an acknowledgement of the special day.  There wasn't much fan fare but we did enjoy dinner with friends, their kids, and our parents. And passed on to Joe were Depends, a cane, and extra large party hats letting everyone know that the big guy was now over the hill. 


Let me brag on the birthday boy a little...he's an active, hands-on dad; a considerate, supportive, and caring husband; and a motivated, do-it-yourself, figure out anything hard worker.  No doubt we drive each other crazy sometimes, but there's no one else I'd rather walk this road with.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOE!!! 

 

***
We kicked off Christmas weekend with a play date at the Youngs' house.  Mission: to create 14 hand painted place mats with the help of three toddlers (and a curious dog that looked on too).
 

Mission accomplished.  Niki worked her magic to make a few horror-movie-like pieces of artwork look festive and inviting. 


Garrett topped the day off with a flight over his handlebars and a 'look-ma-no-hands!' face plant on the pavement.  Minus a lot of blood, he was perfectly ok thanks to an orange popsicle.
 

***
Just before the madness began I enjoyed lunch with two friends I've known the longest.  There have been years when we talk more than others, but without fail we can pick up where we left off.  We're in different places around the country and in different places in life, but it's nice to go back to where we started once in a while.  Moms included too:)

 

***
Then came Christmas Eve and for the past six years we've enjoyed fondue dinner at my in-laws' house.  I'm pretty lucky that everyone gets along because instead of running from house to house we can enjoy the evening together.  The wine flowed, the boys entertained, and the eating was delectable.


***
After we were all snuggled in our beds Santa worked his magic and left the boys their first tool bench, among other toys, books, and Hokie gear on Christmas morning.  In no time they'll be helping Joe in the garage.  Will that mean a quiet house for me?  Time to slip out and get a pedicure?  Ok!  Build away, boys.  Build away.


It was then off to Oma and Opa's for breakfast (French Toast Souffle & Hot Curried Fruit - yum!) and more wrapped surprises...a Keurig coffee maker, a play kitchen, handsome clothes, running attire, toy trucks, and more...THANK YOU, Joe and Karin!

 
 
That afternoon we spent time at Nana and Pops' house with Great Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle Brandon and Aunt Lindsay, and Oma and Opa too.  My dad (with mom's help too!) indulged us with beef tenderloin, red pepper risotto, garlic sauteed brussel sprouts, salad, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie....ooooh mouth watering.  Even though we agreed not to exchanage gifts this year, there were still plenty to open...not sure how that happened.  No complaints, though.  Who doesn't need Thomas the Train and the Dinosaur Train books that play their own music, dump trucks that roll with the push of a button, some cute accessories, pre-recorded narrated stories from the great grandparents, a new Dustbuster, and a cookbook of family recipes (thank you, Aunt Kris!)?

 
 

***
The REAL BIG gift, however, was the purchase of four roundtrip airplane tickets to Kansas to see my two of my dad's sisters, Carol and Dottie, and my dad's mom, whom the boys have never met.  Of course Uncle Chris was there too and he pleasantly tolerated the Watson tornado for five long days.  4 adults that included 1 super anxious mommy, 2 toddlers, a lot of bags, and 2 airplane rides to the mid west.


The good (kind of) news: 

The boys traveled beautifully.  

3 out of the 4 flights.

And the one leg of the trip that didn't go so well included a 20 minute all out screaming melt down from my dear, sweet Gavin, who almost got to experience his first parachute ride out of the plane as I sweat through my clothes and stared back at the young, hot guy who wouldn't stop glaring at me as if to say I was the worst, most incompetent mother he'd ever seen.  "Sorry I'm ruining the start to your bowl game trip, you college drinking frat boy!"  I dared him to say a word.

However, Gavin's meltdown didn't compare to the gentleman a couple rows over who forgot to put on deodorant that morning.  Why hello, BO.

And if you ever thought sitting crammed by the window with a squirmy toddler on your lap while trying to fish toys out of the bag at your feet while your parents tried to help but couldn't might be fun, thinking again my friend, think again.

The bad news:
My mom booked my ticket under my maiden name?  Ah, the best laid plans...

This resulted in the purchase of another ticket, a phone call to a friend directing her to break into our house, go through all of our most important files to locate our marriage certificate, and faxing it to my uncle's office.

You know, just a small favor.

I owe you big, Whitney.  Big.


***
So there really is nothing like family...it's sometimes funny to see myself in people I see only every few years and re-hash stories that we've all heard before but still laugh at.  And like everyone else, I'll look back on this trip with Norman Rockwell-esque memories and say that there were frequent tense many blissfully happy moments.

Good food, hallway races, tickle fights, Eggnog lattes, truck books, photo sessions, toddler meltdowns, Sesame Street, swim time, cat chasing, Ring Around the Rosy, no naps, trips to chauffeur Grandma, frequent nighttime wake ups, slobbery M&M kisses, and visits to the pool, museum, and nature center were enjoyed by all.  

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

***
And by New Year's Eve evening we were all happily back in the comforts of our own homes, certainly not in Kansas anymore, looking at a year ahead and reflecting on the year gone by...

So long 2011:
-the boys' first words, first steps, first shoes, first dip in the ocean, first birthday
-G & G's baptism
-RSV, croup, roseola, Rotavirus, a million ear infections
-trips to Naples, FL; Greensboro & Oak Island, NC; Bloomfield Hills & Higgins Lake, MI; Cookeville, TN; San Francisco, CA; Lawrence, KS
-Joe making progress on 'Big Jeep'
-nursing a hurt heel and many missed runs
-getting to know new friends and staying connected with old ones

And hello 2012:  
With resolutions to be less high strung and more patient; to stress less, play pretend more, and savor the moment; and to make more time for Joe and me.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson











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