Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I think this Christmas may have been my favorite of all time.  This was the first year that Elizabeth sort-of understood what was going on and that just made everything so special.  Sickness grabbed our house early in the week and we were plagued with snotty noses and yucky coughs.  Grandpa Barry came just in time to go to the doctor and entertain Rachel while Elizabeth got a "no-infection" bill of health.

Luckily, a little tylenol and some kisses and hugs got us on the road to recovery.  Just in time for Christmas!

We didn't really talk about Santa to Elizabeth.  She knew who he was from TV and she also knew that there were Christmas presents (or birthday presents, as she called them) in our closet that she wasn't allowed to get in yet.  We got her the Fisher Price nativity set and put it out the day before Christmas and told her about Jesus being born and that we give each other presents on His birthday to show each other how much we care for each other because God loves us so much.  Our two-year-old took all this in...and then promptly took most of the nativity players and threw them in a mesh basket in her room.  So now the stable has the baby Jesus, Joseph and the angel...and that's how she's kept it ever since.  

Christmas morning, Rachel woke up first, so Scott and I got up, made coffee, and turned on the tree.  We had placed the presents under the night before, leaving a couple unwrapped for fun.  When Elizabeth woke up, she ran in to check on her Grandpa, and then walked in the living room and STOPPED at the presents.  She was more than ready to unwrap those puppies!!

Rachel, watching her big sister for guidance.

So let me get this straight...now I'm ALLOWED to rip the paper?!

Yay!  A toy!  Now where's some more paper?
Elizabeth had no problems opening her presents - and everyone else's

The inspector had to check everything out.
And then it was time to PLAY!
The day was just perfect.  The house smelled like turkey and we were warm while the wind blew snow around outside. 

I am so thankful for this year - for our two children and my wonderful husband and our healthy friends and family.  This Christmas, more than any other, I thought about Mary and her role in the original Christmas and the trials and challenges she must have gone through.  What faith she must have had - mixed with doubt and joy and questions...  To KNOW that you are a virgin, and yet here is a child - YOUR child!  And here are these strangers coming to worship Him.  

I thought about when Elizabeth was born and we had just gotten up to our room when Ida Brown, the wonderful woman I worked in the library with, walked in with flowers.  And after she left, our preacher, Terry Pleasant came in.  And then came the Campbell's.  And then the Swoffords...  Some we had called or texted but some had called the hospital or found out through word of mouth.  I remember thinking, "How did you know?  How did you know she was here?  How did you know we were here?"

I can't imagine what Mary thought...instead of a phone call, Angels told the shepherds.  Instead of a text, a star guided the wise men.  
They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the feeding trough.  After seeing [them], they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them.  Luke 2:16-19

That last sentence makes me want to cry because as parents, we can identify with her ten-fold.  How many things have I treasured in my heart, wonderful memories of our girls?  Watching our children understand, get excited for and celebrate Christmas opened up a whole new level of joy for me - and made me realize how fitting that the whole holiday centered around a baby.

Merry Christmas!

Working out the post-Christmas sludge

Does anyone else feel like their blood is running just a little bit heavy?  We have done nothing but eat and stay in the house (we've had some sick little elves here) and eat and watch TV and eat...  I got to have my favorite leftover sandwich today (turkey, cheese, Stovetop stuffing and cranberry relish...yum) and we've had dessert after every meal. 

So today, we jumped at the chance to go to the Y and get everyone moving just a little bit.  

My father-in-law came to share the holiday with us and joined Scott and me in our workout today.  We worked hard for a good hour and shared sweaty hugs and pats on the back when it was done.  There is something about performing a great workout with another person that bonds you - I'm not sure if it's the common thread or the commitment of health for yourself and the other person.  You can pray together and talk together but it's that final element of being active together just completes such a powerful triangle. 

Scott and his dad
Our workout went something like this...

10 supermen (or superwomen!) - each part
10 pushups
10 body-weight squats
10 pushups
10 military sit-ups
10 pushups
10 bird-dogs (tutorial to come)

Rotate through 3 times:
10 snatches into 5 shoulder presses
8 reverse pull-ups on bar
8 jump switch lunges

Rotate through 3 times:
10 each shoulder plate circuit (tutorial to come)
10 incline DB press
10 lat pull-downs

Rotate through 3 times:
10 cable bar curl
10 ab wheels
10 tricep rope pushdown

Then I had to race to get the girls before the nursery closed!

Love you, Barry!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Pasts

I just couldn't resist pulling these pictures up.  It is rainy and cloudy outside and I was just thinking how thankful I am for my babies.

Elizabeth's first Christmas at Carleta's house

Little Santa

Last Christmas - cheesing for Mommy!

This Christmas - practicing the "sleeper hold" on her sister!  ha!

I don't WANT to wear this silly hat!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Dresses

It was the Sunday before Christmas and I had to dress up my girls.  Pictures before church were a no-go because Mommy was running late (of course...).  So we attempted them after church.

I went first and we were still a little agreeable.  Notice Rachel has lost a shoe already.

By Scott's turn, we were in full melt-down mode.  Rachel's saying, "Dude...I'm done being cute, ok?"  Thank you, Grandma Chris for Elizabeth's beautiful dress and I think Grammy Susie sent us the other one for Rachel.  After this, we were downright adorable, going down for naps!

Weekend workout!

I love Saturday workouts because I get to go to the gym with my husband.  There is something very powerful about working out with your spouse - I think it helps all aspects of your marriage.  Plus, Scott and I count it as a date, since we get to drop off the girls at the nursery!  

He put together a great workout for us on Saturday and I just wanted to share it with you.  Of course, you could do it with any partner or even by yourself.  Enjoy!

5 minutes - sit in sauna (we were both a little sinusy)
5 minutes - run on treadmill (I ran at 5.5)
Rotate through 4 times:
     10 - Dumbell 1-arm snatches (after last one, keep your arm up and do...)
     10 - 1-arm military presses
     10 - Large box jumps
     10 - Jump lunges
     Rest one minute in between sets
     3 x 10 Standing calf press
Superset 3 times:
     12 - Incline DB press
     12 - DB RDL's
Rotate 3 times:
     Kimora crunches (keep feet on the floor) - 10, 8, 6
     Scissor legs - 10, 8, 6
     Second plank - 1 min, 45 sec, 30 sec

Shew!  Please let me know if you have questions!

Ugh... cookies...

You know, I was starting to feel a little guilty about making Christmas cookies this year.  Here I am, writing this blog and trying to get back down to size and, meanwhile I'm stocking up on sugar and butter to make little goodies.  You just can't get past the fact that people want yummy things as treats for Christmas though.  I could just see everyone's faces as they opened Ziploc bags of carrot sticks and pretzels from the Shipmans,  smiling while dumping them into the nearest trashcan.

So I baked my little fingers off and I'm so thankful that I did.

Because nothing makes you not want to eat cookies more than BAKING COOKIES!!  Last year, I was pretty pregnant around Christmas and my sweet mother-in-law made all my cookies for me and put them in the freezer.  Consequently, I ate cookies out of the freezer for the next three months.

So I was dreading making more cookies and trying to resist their pull and constant call from the kitchen (am I the only one that hears things call me from the refrigerator??) and then I started on the Buckeyes.  After the millionth little peanut butter ball, I thought I was going to hurl.  I hadn't even tasted one and I was sick of them.  (Success!!)  I baked all day long and tasted very few cookies (of course, I had to sample SOME to make sure they weren't poisonous...).  Yet another example of how giving is better than receiving!! 

Now my challenge is to get them all out of my house before my taste comes back for sweets.  Well, that and to do the dishes...if only I had a maid...  oh wait...

She does windows too, folks!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Poot...

We laugh daily about the things that come out of Elizabeth's mouth.  I swear, the kid remembers words, phrases, songs and even intonation of phrases.  Her favorite thing to say now is basically that she has something or likes to do something too - normally to identify with something on TV or in a book.  For instance, there is one book that Scott was reading the other night and the character had on a pair of boots...

"I wear boots too...,"  she said.

Rachel says, "I look out the window for kitties too!"

All the words tie together so fast that it's sometimes hard to catch.  It's probably better to write with hyphens:  "I-have-pincess-tent-too..."  "I-eat-pizza-too..."  And it is ALL. THE. TIME.  "I-take-bath-too..."  "I-poo-poo-in-potty-too..."

Speaking of which...

Sometimes I am stumped how to teach the girls things except to just tell them that this is this and that is that.  Like directions.  How else do you teach up and down?  This is up and this is down.  Got it.  Somehow, my child hasn't gotten confused.  This is red...red apple.  This is yellow...yellow banana.  I expected to teach all of these things.  But yesterday, I almost died with the next required lesson.

I'm picking up the living room, and Elizabeth comes in YELLING, "Mama!  Poo-poo in potty!!  Mama!!  YOU potty!!"  That means, she wants me to take her to my potty.  Fine.  So we go in and get all set on the big potty.  She gets all serious and red-faced and...farted...

I mean, it was a loud one.

She was so proud!  "Mama!  I poo-poo in the potty!!"  And then she gets down and sings the potty song (I own the copyright...), "Poo-poo in the pot-TY!  Poo-poo...(she stops) Hey!  Where the poo-poo?"  

I had no idea how to go about this in the right way, so I just went with the same manner that I had described everything else.  "Honey, you pooted.  You didn't poo-poo, you pooted."  

My two year old took that in, paused a moment and ran out to tell Rachel.  

"Rachel, I-poot-too..."

Annie - 1, Pomegranate - 0

I don't think I told you that I finally got into that stinking pomegranate. 

I could never find the technical way to get into it, so I just hacked it open and pulled out the seeds.  It was a messy and very staining process.  The result?  Disappointing, I must say.  The seeds tasted...well...seedy.  They were sweet, but had a bitter center.  Elizabeth didn't like them.  Scott wasn't crazy about them.  This definitely won't be an easy snack in our household.  I did read that some people put them on oatmeal, but even that doesn't sound great to me.  So I will stick with just squeezing out the juice.  

Maybe you will have better luck one day...please let me know if you do!

Packers Pasta

So, I don't claim to be much of a cook, although my family is far from starving.  Last summer, we got into quite the pesto kick and my husband's favorite dish quickly because chicken pesto pasta.  I mean, we had this at least once a week - more, if you count left-over night!  It is his go-to when I ask him what he wants for dinner, the same as Elizabeth's is pizza.

"What do you want for dinner?"

"Ummm (insert sly grin)...chicken pesto pasta?"

Well, I attempted to plant a bunch of basil and killed most of it, but I ended up with quite a bit of pesto in my freezer.  (Turns out, you're not supposed to strip one plant of all it's leaves...WHO KNEW?!)  So when I heard my husband's request this week, I thought it might be something you'd be interested in.  I like it because it is yet another way I can sneak vegetables and chicken into Elizabeth.

But wait, Annie...  Vegetables?  Ah...I forgot to tell you that the sweet man that runs Bobby and Judy's produce stand talked me into three yellow squash when we were there last week.  (He was making my baby giggle by tickling her toes - I wasn't going to say no.  Good salesman!)  So I needed to use those.

I cooked my noodles (I love Ronzoni's smart taste and also the Barilla plus...because Miss Picky won't eat noodles unless they're white...sigh...) and saved a little water when I drained them.  I threw the pasta back in the pot with the leftover water and a little butter.  Added pesto (I had 1 cup frozen) and chicken (I had 2 cups shredded, also frozen).   When I was cooking the noodles, I chopped up the squash and tossed it into my electric steamer for 10 minutes.  So it was ready at the same time and I threw it into the pot too and mixed it all together.  Seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder and plated with Parmesan cheese.

I thought it looked pretty and if Stacie was making it, I bet she'd call it Packers Pasta (cue the title).  I liked it.  Elizabeth liked it and actually ate a couple pieces of squash before she was onto me.  Scott crinkled his nose at the yellow in his favorite dish.  He hates when I mix in vegetables and would like them better on the side.  Me?  I like when they end up in my two-year-old's belly and mixing makes that happen.  


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Exercise, Mama!!

Tuesdays are our crazy days and there really isn't time to get to the Y, so Elizabeth and I exercise in the house.  And exercise, for my two-year-old, requires a headband.

There is nothing that will make you giggle more than exercising with a little one.  So if you're looking for something fun to do this afternoon, crank up some 80's music and rock out.  Our workout is below!

10 jumping jacks (count them LOUD!)
10 toe touches to hands on your hips
10 grasshopper hops (we do these down the hallway, feet together)
10 baby-kiss push-ups (she lays down on the floor and I give her kisses as I do push-ups)
10 swing-the-baby squats (she gets her baby doll and I get my 9 month old - on the squat, lower baby, then raise out in front as you come up)
10 tip-toe calf raises
10 side leg raises - a la Jane Fonda (do each side!)

Do it again, mama!!

Do the clothes make the woman?

How cold is it where you are?  Looking at the weather map this morning, I think it's safe to say that it is freezing all over.  I'm sitting here in my husband's sweatshirt, a ratty pair of pajama pants and slippers and it is just oh so tempting to stay this way all day.  Or to switch out the pj pants for a pair of sweat pants.  I'll just head out of the house wearing my "I don't care how I look.  I'm a mom and it's freezing." sign and tell everyone else to worry about their own wardrobe.

Sound familiar?

Me, during our last beach trip.  Would it have killed me to put on something OTHER than my husband's sweatshirt?
Winter gets to be a dangerous time for our waistlines because it is accompanied by this need to snuggle up and be comfortable with yummy food.  Just yesterday, I was cold in our house, so I decided to bake a batch of cookies to heat up the oven.  You know, to keep my poor little children warm.  I planned to pack up the cookies as soon as they cooled and send them with my husband to work this morning.  I continued to follow this plan as I ate four of them right out of the oven. 

You'd never know it by looking at me this morning in my husband's huge sweatshirt. 

Winter casual clothes can almost be too forgiving - finding us in a totally different size come summer.  We are not in the same category as our kids - we should not gain a size every year!  Therefore, I encourage you to continue to wear all things not elastic-waisted.  (As a side note, everyone that knows me has just spit coffee through their nose because I am classic for wearing sweats and putting on a pair of jeans for "special occasions."  I write this because it is something that I'm working on, people!!)

Many of us dread standing on the scales, which I completely understand.  But you have to continue to have a point of accountability when it comes to your size.  A lot of people go by how their clothes fit- which goes null and void when we wear Snuggies whenever the temperature dips.  I encourage you to find a couple pair of jeans that fit and make you feel good.  When they start to get uncomfortable and you can't get them to fit well (no matter how many deep knee bends you do) it may be time to pay attention - not blame the dryer. 

Remember, this has nothing to do with keeping up with the latest fashions or worrying about people judging you for what you wear and all the other blah blah blah we tell ourselves in order to wear fleece 24-7.  It is simply finding healthy accountability points to make sure you stay on the right track with your wellness journey - and that is ALL ABOUT YOU!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pizza night!

Lazy snow day = call to Papa John's delivery.  Scott and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner with a princess and a crust-muncher. 

It's a Dog's Life

Butch has been limping just a little bit lately.  He seems to be favoring one of his hips and Scott made the comment that he thought sleeping on a bed might help him, instead of the floor.  This makes sense to me only because I had to lay down with Elizabeth on the floor ("Mama, yay down...") during our recent trips around the world and my hips hurt when I got up.  

We have dog beds in the garage, but I am grossed out by the thought of bringing them in, so I put them on my list of things to look for.  When I was at Kohl's on Saturday (with the crazies!), they had large dog beds on sale for $11.  Awesome!  I bought two.  

That night, we set one of them up in the living room when we let the dogs in.  Butch sat on it and it looked like a little throw pillow underneath him.  He looked at me like, "What do you want me to do with this, mother?"  As soon as he got off, Tina ran over and mauled herself all into it, so Scott and I decided to take the other back to Kohl's and get a bigger one that I had seen at Target.  

The hard part came when we couldn't tell Butch that.  Poor buddy...there was Tina all warm and cozy on her new bed and he was still on the floor.  He looked at us like, "So Tina can sit on the couch and jump on the big bed and now she gets her own little pillow??!!  What gives?"
Sunday morning was too cold and windy to take our snot nosed, sick kids to church so I ran to Target to get diapers and Butch's new bed.  Yesterday was so cold that they stayed inside all day, even with our heathen children running around.  He must like it!

Oh...and so does Tina...much better than last year at this time.

Merry Christmas, Butchy...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rachel's Up!

Rachel up??

*Looking for Elizabeth*
Mama!  Rachel up!!

Little Talker

So I have to admit that Elizabeth is a completely different animal now that she can talk.  Scott and I both are amazed at the conversations we can now have with our daughter.  I may be crazy, but I swear her behavior has improved now that she can tell me more about what she wants or needs.  Well...at least we're back to even-keel after our post-traveling-and-getting-spoiled-by-every-relative-that-sees-us behavior roller coaster last week.  

Anyway, last week, we had gone to the store and one of the things I picked up was ice cream.  Elizabeth clearly noticed, asking me for it through most of Kroger.  She is a sucker for sweets (gets it naturally!).

So that night at dinner, I can't remember what we had, but Elizabeth did a pretty good job eating and we were getting up to clear the table.  My child barely glanced in my direction and turned to face Scott head-on.

"Dada, ice cream?"

Scott didn't answer, but looked at me with an expression that both asked if we even had ice cream and expressed disbelief that she had asked him without consulting me.

Before he could answer, she decided to give it another go...still looking at him, expectantly...

"Babe?**  Ice cream??"

I'm not sure who shot water out of their nose further, but regardless, it was her daddy that said, "Of course, honey, you can have some ice cream."  And went to fix it.

Pulling out the bowls, my dear husband asked me if I would like some too.

"Well sure, babe, if you're fixing it, I'll take some ice cream too."

And our little girl was very happy. 

**We have tried to explain to Elizabeth that when we call each other "Babe" or "Baby" it is just another nice name that mommies and daddies call each other.  It's been pretty confusing for her to comprehend and pretty confusing for us to explain as well.  Therefore, I completely understand why, on the Swiss Family Robinson, they always referred to each other as Mother and Father...ha!


Patience is not my strongest gift...especially when I lift biceps.  I have to admit that time-and-time-again, my arms have suffered simply because I "don't have time" to alternate curls...I would rush through three sets of quick curls and move on.  

And I would have flubby arms.  (The same holds true for lunges and my wobbly "tookus".)

So, I figured it was as good a time as any to refocus my workouts - especially on my dreaded biceps and triceps day.  My tool?  21's! (Which my husband informs me have been around forever, but they were new and exciting for me.  ha!)

You can really do 21's with most lifts.  Choose the exercise and take it through the full, first half of the concentric movement.  Then, bring it half-way back.  Then, back down.  Repeat this lifting of the lower part of the movement seven times.  Then take it back to the half-way point and go to your beginning point.  Back to half-way and back to beginning (seven times).  Then, do seven of the full lift...equaling 21 movements total.

I like to do these with single-arm cable bicep curls.  So I curl the weight and then bring my arm down half-way and then back up for seven.  Then all the way down and to the center for seven.  Then full curls for seven = dead in the water.  

If I do these on my first lift, then I know I've given it my full effort and all other bicep efforts afterward will be gravy.  I am trying to work up the guts to try these with squats...but I would just hate to fall-out at the Y!  For the record, I've been doing these for biceps for the past three weeks and can really feel a difference!  

Here was my bi's and tri's workout today  (all done in super-sets)
Warm-up 5 x 10 pushups alt. with 5 x 12 ab wheel (WEEKLY CHALLENGE!)

3 x "21's" single-arm bicep curl
3 x 15 over-head tricep press

3 x 12 cable bicep curl - with long bar
3 x 12 tricep press with rope

3 x 15 bicep cable curls with rope
3 x 12 single arm tricep pushdown on cable handle

Speaking of Breakfast...

Mama E got me thinking about breakfast foods after the shake post and I have to admit that I get in a huge breakfast and lunch rut with the girls.  I still look back at my mom and think she was brilliant for having a different, hot breakfast scheduled for every day of the week.  Thinking back, I never remember it changing.  

Mondays - poached eggs and toast
Tuesdays- pancakes
Wednesdays - oatmeal and cinnamon rolls
Thursdays - omelets
Fridays - cream of wheat or cocoa wheat
Saturdays - waffles
Sunday- Dad cooked

We always went to school with breakfast in our bellies and I now look back and admire my mom for getting up, getting ready, and preparing this for us before she went to work.  I even have friends who ask if we still have waffles on Saturdays (memories from spending the night) and my dad even made breakfast for my bridal party the morning that we got married (it was a Saturday, so he made waffles, of course!).

I feel so fortunate that I get to stay home and raise my girls...therefore, I really don't have any excuse that my breakfasts and lunches are so...boring.

This morning, I was cooking and Elizabeth peaked over the counter and yelled, "Yay!  Toast!"  


Which leads me into the fact that I am eternally fired up for the $5 dinner mom's NEW breakfast and lunch cookbook!  I LOVE this woman and found her through a link for her baked oatmeal (which was a lifesaver during a particularly picky eating spell by my daughter).  I have learned so much through her shopping and cooking tips and have really saved our family a ton of money.  I use her meal planning calendar and probably reference her dinner cookbook at least twice a week. 

She is easy to read and has a great sense of humor.  I don't think the cookbook will be out by Christmas, but here is the link to pre-order it and you could always print off the picture to stick in a Christmas card for someone.  Or you could order the dinner cookbook, which I highly recommend.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Shake it, baby!

I was talking to a good friend of mine the other day who was telling me that she wanted to start making smoothies for breakfast but didn't like yogurt.  She was looking for some healthy options that she could try.  It's really no surprise to our friends, former athletes, or the Fed Ex guy that we would suggest making a shake.

Our supplement delivery - Christmas once a month!

My husband and I are big believers and partakers in shakes and supplements.  A very easy way for my friend to make a shake would be with whey protein.  Whey is an easily digestible protein source that is derived from milk.  You can find it almost anywhere - normally it comes in a 2 lb. tub and runs between $15 and $20.  I tend to be a brat and only drink things that I like the taste of so I normally stay towards the chocolate end of flavors and stick to brands that I know.  (Right now, we have Pure Protein - which you can find at Target or Walmart.)

My husband has a lecture that he gives on the importance of eating protein as soon as you get up, accompanied by a little voice he gives to muscles that yell, "I'm starving!"  If you're interested, I'll get him to chime in on my blog one day.  But for my purposes, I know if I don't eat protein in the morning, I don't lose weight.  Therefore, I make sure I either eat eggs or have a shake.

So...back to our shake.

Get out your blender and decide what kind of shake you want.  Throw in a scoop of your whey and some skim milk (or rice milk or 2% or soy...whatever flips your skirt)...just be sure to measure your liquid with the glass you're going to drink it in.  Now your additions are up to you.  If you like chocolate, be sure you get chocolate whey.  Add some fruit (a banana or some frozen strawberries).  Maybe you want to skip the fruit and make your liquid half milk, half coffee (like a little whey mocha).  

If you want something that sticks to you, throw in a little oatmeal.  If you want something totally fruit flavored, then I'd get vanilla whey.  I've seen some shakes brewed with vanilla whey, milk, brewed green tea, apple sauce and a little cinnamon.  Yum!  I would steer clear of adding peanut butter or something with a higher calorie content unless you're making a post-workout shake (which we'll talk about at a different time).  We normally sprinkle in a little ground flaxseed to get a dose of Omega-3 fatty acids as well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look...

This may be the best Christmas ever.  If you are not around small children and get to experience their Christmas excitement, please come to my house and breathe in Elizabeth.  I have never been more pumped about a holiday than I am this year.  And it's all because of her.  

"Mama!  Kiss-muss tree!!"

"Mama! Yights!!"

Sunday, we decorated the house and she could not get enough of the lights and decorations - it really makes me wish we had more stuff.  (My husband just choked reading this, I know...)

Elizabeth, sticking the peelie ornaments on the window.  Thank you, Aunt Teresa!
I got the biggest kick out of decorating the tree.  Elizabeth would hand me ornaments and Rachel would try to eat the paper they'd been wrapped in.  "Mama, hang it ov-ah the-yah...on the kiss-muss tree!"  Of course, they all had to go high, so the poor tree is top-heavy and the girls jump all over the floor on the colored reflections the LED lights put off (like a colored disco ball).  Well...Elizabeth jumps.  Rachel swats at it.

Daddy taking a break from hauling in boxes to hold his girl.

She fusses at me to turn on the lights (yights!) as soon as we walk in the door and they both especially love the fiber optic penguin Aunt Lynn gave us.  Rachel has tried to grab it several times, with no success...yet...

We've created a dessert monster.  ERS loves pumpkin pie!!
Why are you taking a picture and not picking me up, woman??!!
Elizabeth in her new warm-up suit that her Aunt Andrea gave her before gymnastics.
I am really looking forward to December and experiencing these firsts with our girls.  Much more to come!!


What is it about cold weather that makes me crave carbs? I'm talking breads, rolls, cookies, cakes, yummmmm....  Last winter, I reasoned that I was pregnant and I had a picky 18 month old that didn't want to eat dinner. I couldn't let her starve, could I? So I made some sort of bread product to go with almost every meal.  Because she would eat bread.  With butter.  And so would Mommy.  Did I mention I gained over 50 pounds with my pregnancy??!!  

Homemade cinnamon rolls...yummmmmm

Therefore, you would imagine my surprise when the temperature dropped below 60 outside and I started flipping through cookbooks...  hmmm... So much for my excuses.

I don't pretend to have a cure for this disease.  I know a lot of people gain weight over the winter and suffer from a similar craving, in addition to Thanksgiving dinner (and leftovers!) and Christmas cookies. 

I've attempted to combat this in a couple ways...

1.  I have purchased new clothes.  They are fitted and cute and in style and I want to wear them.  Those of you who know me know how cheap I am, so this is a big commitment for me.  It helps in the motivation department - plus my husband is a little more than thrilled to see me put HIS sweatshirts back in the closet. 

2.  When the craving hits, drink water.  I know people say that if you're craving something then you're lacking something.  Well, I'm not lacking cinnamon rolls in any part of my being, so when the craving hits, I start drinking water or a cup of hot tea.  Most of the time, that solves my problem.  If not, then I make a batch, EAT ONE, and then package the rest and take it to a friend.  The daycare ladies at the YMCA love baked goods!!

3.  Don't make bread with dinner (duh).  I suppose my daughter isn't going to starve and she'll be forced to eat broccoli.  I tell her there are worse things in life.  And I save money at the grocery store.  Pillsbury still calls to see why I'm not buying stock in their little canned biscuits anymore!  If I truly want bread, then I make it...from scratch...a talent that I do not have.  Nothing will turn you off bread more than homemade, hard-as-a- rock, burnt bread.

4.  Eat your carbs early in the day.  If I just have to have them, then I eat them for breakfast.  I'll have pancakes or waffles or biscuits.  That way, I have the whole day to use them as energy (which is what carbohydrates are for!).  It never fails that the more starchy carbs I eat for dinner, the more weight I gain.  It just sits dormant in my hips until morning!

5.  I also crave chocolate - but instead of making a cake, I pick at chocolate chips or hot chocolate or small containers of pudding...really, anything small that I can grab and put back the container that gives me a taste and not the calories.

What about you?  How do you combat the cold weather cravings??!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving - just a little late!

I have to admit that I fly around most of the time like a chicken with my head cut off.  I have always been a busy-body, but add in taking care of my kids and a house and preparing for travel and trying to get the best deals for the holidays and squeezing in a workout and pretty soon, those pesky walls begin closing in on me.  That’s when I tend to snap at my husband and fuss at my kids and yell at the dogs…

Sound familiar?

Last week, I was dealing with mushrooms (Yes, mushrooms!  I got a good deal!).  I was making cream of mushroom soup and blanching some to freeze and chopping some for dinner.  All in all, a fungal mess…if you will.  Dishes were stacked up in the sink to be washed.  My washer was buzzing to let me know I needed to move the laundry to the dryer.    And my iron was popping steam, reminding me to press Scott’s shirts.  It was in the midst of my created mess that Elizabeth wanted held.

“Mama, rock?”

I am thankful that realty hits me gently sometimes and I gladly scooped up my daughter to spend some time in the rocking chair.  Sighing away my stress, I tried to take all of her in:  the baby shampoo smell of her hair, the feel of her little hands, the weight of her head laying on my chest.  Soon, she’ll be too old to rock and hold like this and she’ll be slamming the door to her room and hating me instead of loving me. 

Before I knew it, here came our "little inspector" with her pat-pat-pat of hands against hard flooring, wanting to see what Mommy and Sissy were doing.  We scooped her up too and I had a giggling, grabbing, crying mess on my hands.  Isn't that the best kind of messes?
It reminded me that the best cure for stress is thankfulness.  Do you ever just sit and think about your blessings?  For me, it never fails to fill the void that tension and stress and worry tends to dig out.  We just finished a whirl-wind tour of Charleston to Wheeling to Pittsburgh and back to Charleston...all in a matter of four days.  I didn't take one picture.  I didn't take videos.  I tried not to fuss with extras but just take in our friends and family and my children. 

During this holiday season, I encourage you to take some time to count and love on your blessings.  Hold your kids.  Hug your spouse.  Rub down your dog.  Kiss your mom.  I swear, you won’t miss the stress.  And when the walls start closing back in on you, just pray them back and be thankful that you have the "walls" to begin with. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas planning!

There is nothing like having no money to make you appreciate having even a little. As I've told you before, last year was the year God thought he would make us be totally dependent on Him for our finances.  Not that we have ever been rolling in it, but when we attempted to make out a budget, we weren't even making what our bills tallied.  Therefore, we had to ride on trust.  Whoa, did God ever show us!

I'll never forget the deals I got on photo gifts for our families.  Looking at our Christmas list, I had no idea how I was going to do gifts (and I LOVE buying presents).  Fortunately, I learned a lot (very quickly!) from mommy bloggers on how to buy from great companies when the deals were hot.  Shutterfly was one of those companies and I was thrilled to see the quality of product they produced.  

I ended up getting my dad a mug of Elizabeth covered in spaghetti.

For Barry, I made a calendar of Elizabeth.

I made photo books with a little story for each set of grandparents.

This isn't even going into how I've used them this past year for collage prints and mouse pads and travel mugs...and their promotions are so good that I've spent very little money on them.

Which leads me into this promotion.  Shutterfly is now running a promo for bloggers to write about their Christmas cards.  YAY!!  I just happen to have these AWESOME pictures that Stephen took of our family and have been looking for a great deal to get some cards made.  (All this shocks you, I know.)   So the great deal is that I can write about how much I LOVE Shutterfly (easy) and share it with you people and they will give me 50 free cards.  DOUBLE YAY!!

Now, which picture to use?  Oh, and which card.  If you haven't flipped through their selection, it is AWESOME!!  I'm not sure which cards deal with the promo but I'd love one of those flip open ones...oooo, fancy!  However, the classic single pane family shot would be nice too.  I love trimming those and keeping them in the photo album of YOUR kids!  Shutterfly is easy to download and quick on delivery.

There's my promo!  I'm off to make my free cards!!
Most Wonderful Year Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Vegas Baby!

As I told you, Scott and I took our circus out West last week to see the family.  We had a wonderful time.  The weather was awesome and we were so blessed to get to spend a lot of time with Susie and Larry and Anessa and her family.  The girls actually did really well on the airplane.  Although the flight out was doomed with night-time Rachel and the DVD player losing battery power half-way there.  ("Watch Elmo!!")  We made it though and just enjoyed the time to relax. 

Elizabeth started saying "Gam-maw" at just the right time to get whatever she wanted out of Susie!  Her favorite thing to do was to point out the mountains along the amazing view from their back porch.  Rachel enjoyed their open living space and commenced to "inspect" all there was to see. 

Scott and I went on two dates during our trip (I KNOW!  IT WAS WONDERFUL!).  We went to the M (a new casino near their house) and played some games and had a great lunch at The Huddle House.  Our last night there, we went down to Green Valley for a couple hours after putting Rachel down and leaving Elizabeth on the couch with her Grandma.  Susie was so excited to have some special Grammy time with her little girl.  And did they ever have a time!  They watched Little house on the Prairie.   They ate goldfish.  They drank egg-nog.  And then my daughter started her melt-down.  When we got back, she had been crying for about 10 minutes- just beyond the point of tired.  We rocked and went right to bed and she was out cold.  I don't think slumber parties are in our future any time soon!

We had our early Christmas with the whole crew (Rachel was down for a nap when we took this picture) and said tearful goodbyes.  All-in-all, it was a wonderful trip and no one was happier to see us come home than Tina and Butchy...who camped out all four days.  ha!