Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vacation Stress

Thursday we leave for 8 days in Maui. We are all super excited and slightly stressed out. I hate vacation stress. It seems that no matter where we go or for how long, the week before and especially the last couple days before seems to be full of stress, tension and snapping. Yes, it could be worse, we are heading on a super cool trip and out of all the kinds of stress there are, vacation stress is the best kind I am sure.

I know as soon as we get unpacked and we all take a deep breath the stress will melt away and we'll be in super happy vacation mode. I just can't wait to get to that point and be done with the to-do lists and packing!

Two days and a 6 hour flight along with some time change adjustments...then we will really be on vacation!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Weekend Away

This weekend I had my first time away by myself since having both kiddos. I went on my annual scrapbook retreat. This year it was at a new location since the place we had gone the last 3 years closed down. Thanks to Vicky and her in-laws we stayed in a "cabin" in Leavenworth. This place was NOT a cabin, it was a gorgeous rustic house in the hills of Leavenworth decorated to the top with beautiful furnishings, along with all the amenities one could want or need. The ladies were so thoughtful and gave me a room all to myself. It was glorious to stay in my bed ALL NIGHT LONG with out getting up to assist a baby or big boy. We did do some scrapbooking as well. Though my motivation this year was not quite as high as normal. The pictures I had with me were from high school, college and other very random events, so I wasn't all that inspired to create. I've really, really grown to love digital scrapbooking through Studio J. But I did complete 50 pages.

Here are a couple of the better pages I completed:

Kenny did a fantastic job with both kids while I was gone. He even completed a bunch of stuff on our list of things to do before we leave for Hawaii. Which was so very helpful to me having been done all weekend long. And the kids were so much nicer, cuter, sweeter and funnier when I got home, too. I am thinking that maybe I should be gone for the weekend every month or so!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thriving Versus Surviving

I recently read a post over at Sweet Anna's where she talked about how some days she thrives with her kiddos and other days she barely survives. I spent a lot of time thinking about that post, mainly because I found it to be really true for myself as well. There are days that go so smoothly and others that are just plain disasters. I really wanted to take some time and think about what happened differently on the days that we thrived versus on the days were we just wanted the day to be over.

I decided the more prepared for the day I am the better it goes.

Being prepared for me includes:

  • having a list of what I want/need to accomplish
  • knowing what we are going to eat for our meals that day
  • having the house picked up each evening for the start of a new day
  • being prepared for new, fun and different activities to keep Shane busy and to do along with him
  • getting out of the house once even if it is just a walk
As I was thinking about these things I thought I would share some of the website I've recently discovered that have FABULOUS activities, games and ideas that I have been using a lot for Shane and even some for Adalyn.

I Can Teach My Child: I am in LOVE with this blog. It is so super organized and brimming over the rim with ideas!!

Productive Parenting: A couple weeks ago I was searching for ideas to do with Adalyn. She just isn't into toys much and wants to explore and tear up the house most of the time. I was just having a hard time figuring out what to do with her all day long. I then found this website. You can sign up and each day they'll send you an age appropriate activity for your kiddo. All very basic things that you can most likely do with what you have on hand. Or you can just search the site as well. Each morning when I open up my email I know that I'll have two great activities to do with each of the kiddos. Love it!!

Preschool Corner: It may take you a few minutes to navigate around this website, but there is just so many cool activities and ideas on here.

Our Little Monkeys: This blog has great printables in units. I've been using a lot of these with Shane. He has enjoyed many of the activities.

Sun Scholars:  More great ideas. I think there are so many fun educational and crafty ideas on this sight.

Unsolicited Advice: Busy bags are all the rage right now. I actually was in a busy bag swap about 3 years ago with my a MOPS group. Shane was only 1, but I thought heck, he'll use them eventually and that he did. He has outgrown those busy bags, but there are so many awesome busy bag ideas out there. This blog has some great ones and she even hosts busy bag swaps some times, too. I can't wait to join one of those!!

I hope this list of ideas helps you thrive during your days, because just surviving is not fun at all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

October's Workshop: Boo Blocks

 My October workshop is: Boo Blocks. They are pretty darn quick to whip up and I think darn cute, too. I had an idea in my head and then found these online which helped to cement what I was envisioning. We had some 2x6 scrap wood laying around and Kenny was very helpful in cutting the wood into 6, 7 and 8 inch blocks for me.
I painted the blocks black. Then I used the new CTMH Art Philosophy Cricut cartridge and cut out the BOO letters. I completed the blocks off with a couple embellishments and some ribbon. I used the Mischief paper packet from CTMH.

This month's workshop is full. They are filling up fast. November we'll be making fall cards using CTMH's Dreamin' paper packet and the Art Philosophy Cricut cartridge. The cards will look similar to these. If you live in the Greater Seattle area and would like more information on my monthly Close To My Heart workshops, leave me a comment with your contact information.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New Favorite Challenge Week 1

Over at Sweet Anna's, she has challenged us to get out and find some new recipe favorites by digging out those cook books that have gathered dust on them, trying a new recipe from a blog or using one of those millions of recipes that you've torn out of a magazine, but just never get around to trying. Get out of that recipe dinner rut and join the challenge, too.

This week I grabbed a cook book I got for Christmas last year, but may have only used once: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style.  The Penne with Five Cheeses called my name the minute I looked at the recipe. And with some revision I had all I needed to make it. Here is my adapted version of what Ina had.

Four Cheese Baked Elbows

Kosher Salt
1 cup milk (I used whole or you can use heavy cream)
1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. (I had an open jar of tomato Alfredo sauce that I used)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons cottage cheese (or ricotta)
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 lb of your choice of noodles (I used elbows)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Bring salted water to a boil for your noodles. You will only parboil the noodles for about 4 minutes (or half of what the box says to do).

Combine all ingredients except the noodles and butter into a large bowl and mix well.

Add drained noodles to the ingredients in the mixing bowl, tossing to combine.

Put the mixture into a baking dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs (optional), place the butter on top and bake until bubbly and brown on top 10-15 minutes.

This was seriously SO good. Kenny and Shane were both hesitant about it (come on...cheese and noodles, how can that be bad?). But they both loved it.

Menu Monday on Tuesday

Monday -- Five Cheese Penne revised from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. I mean really, really revised. I am participating in the New Favorite Challenge over at Sweet Anna's blog. **This was so good! I'll post my revised recipe soon.

Tuesday -- Bake Potatoes and broccoli.

Wednesday -- Acapulco Delight (a taco like casserole)

Thursday -- leftovers

Friday and Saturday -- I am out-of-town for a my 4th annual scrapbook retreat!! Kenny said he can manage dinners on his own.

Sunday -- I'll be home late afternoon...so something quick and easy....Taco Soup

Sunday, September 18, 2011

10 months

Baby Girl is 10 months old today. I can't believe in just two months she'll be a year old. Kenny thinks it seems like forever ago that she was born. I think I am more just amazed that our baby will be one already.

Beyond the major sleep improvements not a lot else to report on. She walks really well behind a walker and cruises around the house between furniture and window sills, etc. But I don't feel like she has a lot of interest in walking so far. Though she is able to stand on her own longer and longer. Tooth #8 came in today.

And it is beyond difficult to get her picture these days. All wiggly, moving, standing, crawling and watching everything around her. She is still in a couple of these pictures watching Kenny and Shane wrestle.  

Friday, September 16, 2011


I am super nervous to write this post. I've been putting it off because I don't want to jinx anything. It's been about 2 weeks though, so I am feeling more and more confident that we have made a HUGE turn in the sleeping area in our household.

Just abut 2 weeks ago Adalyn got a cold very much out of no where. One minute she was fine and the next her nose was running like crazy and she was super congested. At first I pinned it on teething, but quickly figured out it was more then that. What until this point she was not sleeping well. She was waking hourly at times for a "fix" and eating 2-3 times a night still. She wasn't letting Kenny put her down for bedtime or nap time. Pretty typical sleep habits Baby Girl has had her whole 10 months of life. We had grown use to the bumps and constant waking at night and lack of sleep. She napped but it was often only 45 minutes 3 times a day. It was what it was and some day we hoped it would get better. We had tried everything and nothing improved her sleeping.

When she got the cold we decided to move Shane's humidifier into her room. Having heard that it can help with congestion and colds, we figured we would give it a try. Couldn't hurt, right? And I was terrified that this cold would make her sleep even worse. Not something I was looking forward to. The first night the humidifier was in her room she slept 7 hours in a row with out a single wake up. She woke up once and ate only 2 ounces (she averaged 4-6 ounces 2-3 times a night normally). At one point that night I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep because I was worried there was something wrong with her. I was so accustom to seeing her every couple hours at night. I went in to peek on her and she was sleeping so peacefully. She then slept until morning. Kenny and I looked at each other scared to get excited about what had just happened. BUT we were NOT going to remove that humidifier from her room for nothing now.

The next week she continued on this path. Sleeping six hours in a row, not waking up for transitions or "fixes", waking up only once for a 2 ounce bottle and a diaper change, then continuing on sleeping until the morning. Another area of improvement was that she was sleeping past 5am in the morning and waking up more like 6:30-7:00am. Once again this is HUGE for her. She also started eating 8+ ounces at night before bed time. Another major change for her. Normally she would only do 4 or 6 ounces before bed if we were lucky. And all of this was happening WHILE she had a cold, and was majorly congested. We kept shaking our heads and wondering, really!?!

Her napping has also improved during this 2 week time frame. She still is taking 2-3 naps a day, but they are 1-2 hours long! Amazing. Seriously just plain unbelievable sometimes. On top of all of this sleeping improvement she is getting tooth #8 in and it hasn't seemed to mess things up yet. A couple nights ago she had a few more wake ups, but I really could tell the tooth was just bothering her. Even then her sleeping was so much better then it has even been.

Was it the magic humidifier? Did she just finally figure it out or hit the right age for her? Did the cold help in some weird way? I don't think we'll ever know what got Addie to turn the corner on her sleeping. But we'll take it, what ever it is. We do wonder why all those sleeping books we read never once mentioned trying or using a humidifier? I would have bought one of those suckers 10 months ago!!!!

We have two more steps to go: sleeping through the night completely and no more bottle in 2 months. But with this last turn of events we now have hope that it will happen....sooner then later. Ahhh....sleep, it feels so darn good to sleep more then 2 hours in a row.

On a side note: Shane has also improved his sleeping as well. He has finally figured out how to sleep in. He now wakes up between 6:30-7:30am. Not 5am like he was for many years of his life. We just want to thank the Sleep Goddess that visited our house. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Baby Girl LOVES the backpack! I mean L.O.V.E.S it!! We put her in there to get work done outside, while I make dinner or vacuum or just for a change of pace.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The A-Team

The A-Team is growing up: Adalyn is going on 10 months and Arli is 11 months. This particular day both girls were teething like crazy. I looked over and they were just sitting next to each other chewing away on toys. I love when they sit and play together or when they see each other for the first time in the morning. You can tell they are really excited to see one another. I was thinking the other day about how special their relationship can/will be...a built in best friend.

This portrait of Arli was taken by Shane.
This one of Adalyn was taken by Shane.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Monday

We are jumping into our fall schedule this week. Just when I was all ready for fall our summer arrived. No complaints on my part at all. But it did make for a little of a mind shift. The pools had been deflated and I was in the mode of getting summer clothes packed away and fall clothes purchased. Then the heat hit us and it was back to summer mode, but with the start of our fall activities. In order to make sure I am prepared for this weeks full schedule I have returned to my Menu Monday post. For most of the summer I was able to wing it with easy and simple dinners most nights or we were just plain out-of-town and didn't need to figure it out.

Monday -- Crock pot noodles and beef with salad and cantaloupe. (It's my FAVORITE recipe in the crock pot and I have been craving it lately).

Tuesday -- leftovers

Wednesday -- Some version of Lasagna (either in the crock pot or a Rachel Ray recipe) with salad and bread

Thursday -- leftovers

Friday -- Teriyaki Chicken (BBQed if it is working....baked if not) with rice and corn.

Saturday -- leftovers

Sunday -- We'll see how the week goes.

This is what our fall schedule looks like (just in case you cared and were wondering...ya right!).

Monday, Wednesday and Friday: Shane has preschool from 9-11:30
Monday and Friday: Shane has speech from 2-2:45
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday: Cousin Arli is at our house

My fingers are crossed that I won't have to mess up Adalyn's nap schedule too much with preschool drop off and pick ups and with speech!! It will be a busy full week.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Fun Weekend

We just finished off another fun summer weekend. The weather around here is just FABULOUS! I couldn't ask for a better couple weeks of summer....finally. I'll be so sad to see it go most likely this week.

Saturday morning we headed off to a birthday party with pony rides. Shane said he was NOT going to ride the pony and did NOT want to go to the birthday party. He did ride the pony and loved every minute of it. He wouldn't stop asking if he could ride it again. He left the party all smiles and saying how much fun he had. If I could just get that kid to lighten up and be excited to do something before hand. We finished off Saturday by hanging around the house, blowing the swimming pools back up, playing in the water and going for a run/bike/stroller ride.

We were gifted 4 Mariners tickets Saturday evening from a neighbor for a game today at 1pm. We graciously accepted and quickly figured out how we could squeeze in a baseball game today when we had a birthday party at 4pm to go to as well. We invited my parents to meet Kenny and Shane at the game. The four of them had a nice afternoon at the stadium sitting three rows behind the visitors dugout and basking in the sun. Best seats any of them had ever been in. Kenny and Shane left early to come home, pick Adalyn and I up to head off to the birthday party where Shane had water slides, bouncy houses and swimming pools to play in. Sounds like a kids dream to me. He wasn't quite in love, but did have some fun when there wasn't any one looking or any kids to be seen. I saw him jump on the trampoline and even go down the slide in the bouncy house. He was adamant that he did not have fun though. He also tried to convince me when I put him to bed tonight that he was NOT tired. Ya, right.

I'll sure miss summer. I think Shane will, too.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Retaining Wall

This is what we worked on over Labor Day weekend. We moved all the huge rocks that were there. As you can see they haven't gone far. We plan on re-purposing them on a project in the front yard. Then we put in the bricks and hauled in a bunch of dirt to fill it in with. We found some free dirt on Craigs List. I think Kenny made 3 trips with the SUV. A tedious task, but free and very helpful.

I plan on planting a bunch of various bulbs and flowers along the fence line here. It will brighten up the dingy backyard so much! 
This corner we'll be planting some trees to block the ugly view of the neighbors backyard. They have a "shed" covered in blackberry bushes.
This is the best before picture I could find. We jumped into the project so quickly I didn't get a chance to take any pictures before we got the wall up.
This is the view from our deck. It's not completely finished, but I am amazed by how MUCH better it looks already!
We had planned on taking the wall almost all the way across the backyard....

But we ran into these suckers. We knew there were a couple big roots we would have to cut out since we have two huge trees back there. As Kenny continued to dig we found more and more.

 Then we hit this one and knew there was no way we could cut these roots with out killing the gigantic tree. Now we are trying to formulate a plan. Take tree out (VERY expensive)? Have wall go around the roots (kinda odd looking)? No wall (we really, really want one)? If you have an idea we'd would love to hear it!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back To School

Shane and I had his 2nd year of preschool orientation today. I believe he is actually in a "Pre-K" class now. He goes Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11:30. Friday will be his first full day back. Today went good for Shane. All morning long we got the "I don't want to go" stuff again. Along with tears on and off. Finally, after a long pep talk he settled down and decided today wouldn't be bad since it was just a short day. He was literally there for 45 minutes.

 He was really goofy this morning when I was taking his pictures and kept wanting to put his fingers in it. I asked him what this meant. He didn't have an answer. Funny kid. Click here to see what he looked like last year and how his first day was back then. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I am frustrated that no matter how much I try to be organize, have lists, keep things clean/picked up and be prepared, it is just never enough. There is always something forgotten, something that needs cleaning or something that needs to be done.

I am frustrated that my going on 10 month old Daughter still is not even close to sleeping through the night. All the sleeping books in the world, all the attempts and tries to get her to sleep haven't gotten her to sleep through the night.

I am frustrated that I can't seem to find a balance between playing and spending time with Shane and Adalyn and getting that gigantic to do list completed. I don't want to look back and think why didn't I just play? But seriously I can't play all day long (though Shane would LOVE that). Does that mean I play with Shane while Addie naps or actually attempt to get something done? Every day I am struck by this question, but I continue to not have an answer.

I am frustrated that we haven't really been able to take advantage of the nice weather we have finally been having. Adalyn and the beach is a NO go. Having a crawler during the summer months is hard.

I am frustrated that my "smart" HE top loading washing machine can't wash my cloth diapers properly. I am so tried of stinky diapers, but I can't seem to do anything about it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Flashback Friday

A little comparison between both kiddos at 9 months of age. 

Shane was 9 months in March of 2008. Two houses ago for us. I have no idea why the boppy is on the couch behind me. I have NO idea what we were using it for at this point?! His blanket looks so new. He had such crazy hair.
He still had a pacifier. But at least he was sleeping through the night (besides once or twice a night when I had to pop the pacifier back in). Unlike Miss Adalyn who continues to be consistently inconsistent. I think we can count on ONE hand how many times she has slept 6+ hours in a row at night at this point.

This was my rocking chair growing up. Here they both are at 9 months sitting in it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Budding Photographer

Shane has decided he likes to take pictures with my camera. He is so darn cute walking around with my big SLR around his neck snapping away. I love to see what he thinks is exciting through his eyes. Here are some of his master pieces: