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Last Saturday, Jim, Molly and I rode with my parents to the mountains to get our Christmas tree. We told Molly we were going to a tree farm and then I immediately regretted that, realizing she’d want to see cows and horses and sheep and ducks. And a barn. I was able to quickly interject that the farmers only had time to grow trees and that there’d be no animals. Luckily, she accepted that.

M was such a good traveler, tree picker-outer and winery guest. {Yes, that’s two times in two months that I’ve taken my two-year-old to a winery.} After we picked out our trees and wreaths, we drove a little farther up the mountain to have lunch at a cute little cafe where we almost got into a scuffle with an older woman about a table. No blood was shed and we got the table, so all was good.

 

We finally found the perfect tree:

And if fit perfectly in the middle of our family room. Ha! {Ok, it was a *little* bigger than we originally planned.}

Then Molly was a great helper, putting all of the ornaments on the same branch.

When she finally accepted that branch would hold no more ornaments, she was happy to tell me where to put the ornaments.

The stocking are hung and the tree is decorated…now I just have to get to the rest of the decorations!

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For the first time in I don’t know how many weekends, no one at our house was sick.

We had a great weekend together and enjoyed the beautiful weather – Mexican food Friday night, the park (for Molly, Nana, and me) and golf (for Jim) on Saturday, dinner with friends Saturday night, errands and lunch on Sunday, and then Beverly and I had a Sweet Birdie’s Nest meeting.  We wrapped up the weekend with family dinner at our favorite pizza joint, Hawthorne’s.  I felt like we actually had a good mix of productiveness and fun.  {Although for me, productive and fun usually go in the same sentence!  I’m a dork like that.}

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The park in our neighborhood is situated right by the railroad tracks and this weekend, I have a whole new appreciation of that train.  Usually, I’m annoyed because it’s so close to the house and it never fails to come when I have no time to spare.  And then it’s really hard to turn left off our street.  Or, I remember when I had a 45-minute commute home from work and I’d be 30 seconds from home but the lights would start flashing as I approached the tracks.  However, watching Molly watch the train speed past was one of the coolest things I’ve witnessed.  Mind you, we see the train every day.  She can see it from her crib in the winter when there are no leaves on the tree and I’m worried we’re going to lose the blinds on her window because she pulls them back and chants, “Choo Choo” or “Twain Twain” while she’s supposed to be napping.  And she sees it on a regular basis from the car.  But she saw it up close for the first time on Saturday, and her mouth formed a big “o” and she pointed and gasped and then ran the length of the park like she was chasing the train.  It was pure wonderment and I loved it.

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I know I’ve mentioned this before, but there’s a Dairy Queen less than a mile from our house.  It’s one of the “old fashioned” ones where you stand in line outside and order from the window.  My parents used to take us there as children and now I love that I get to take Molly.  Well, usually I love it.  I gave up sweets for Lent, but Jim and Molly didn’t.  After pizza last night, Jim wanted ice cream, so I sat in the car while he and Molly shared a Blizzard.  A Snickers Blizzard, which is my favorite.  I have a feeling Lent is going to be a loooong 6 weeks this year!

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I’m wanting to make some small changes to our house; we’ve lived here five years this month and with the exception of a few new pieces of furniture and Molly’s room, everything has stayed the same.  I really want to freshen things up and organize the house so it works for us.  It’s so funny because Jim thinks we’ve made a lot of changes {which we have done a lot, mind you, it just depends on who you ask as to HOW much we’ve done!} and I think it looks the same as it did when we moved in, except for the paint colors!  But anyway, my first priority {well, today’s first priority – it could change tomorrow!} is to paint the family room and update some of the accessories.  I bought new pillows for the couch last week that I love and we tried out two paint colors.  Jim likes the one we currently have on the wall, and while I do too, I think the room will seem bigger if we go lighter.  And, as you can tell, we will obviously – eventually – do something, since we already started the job.

I’ve already decided which one we’ll use but could probably be easily swayed…want to vote?  Let me know “left” or “right” in the comments.  I’d love to see if your opinion matches mine!

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What a gorgeous weekend!  We were busy, of course, but made some time to spend in the sunshine.  Molly loved swinging in her swing and figured out how to climb up her little slide and then get her feet under her so she could sit down and slide down the slide the right way.  Once she figured that out, it was a constant up, down, up, down.  She loved being outside and made sure to let us know that she didn’t want to come in.  She did learn a new word this weekend:  dirty {although it sounds more like “dooty”}.  She would fall and her dirt or grass on her hands and she was quick to say, “dirty.”  At one point, she was swinging and she pointed to the porch light filled with bugs and told Jim, “dirty.”  {That’s my girl!}  The daffodils and crocuses have bloomed, so Molly got a good lesson in being gentle with the flowers.  She had fun walking to each one and saying “ye-yo” and “pu-ple.”

Jim had to work on Saturday, but when he got home, I was determined that we were going to start at least one project, so we recovered the dining room chairs.  I loved the fabric that the chairs were covered in, but after five years, a dog, and a toddler, the silk was looking a little worn and there were water stains on all of the chairs.  My mom found this purple velvet fabric on sale over a year ago, so we finally got around to the using it.  I missed the stripe at first, but think the solid looks great and will hopefully be easier to care for.  And that just means I can incorporate a pattern with some new drapes!

 

Old fabric - that I found out Jim didn't like!

 

Like new!

 

 

And finally, on Sunday afternoon, a years-long search for a new television ended.  {You think I’m kidding about the years part, don’t you?  Well, I’m not.}  So of course Jim wanted to hook it up right away, but we haven’t decided if we’re going to wall mount it or find a console with drawers or cabinets underneath and we haven’t gotten rid of the old tv.  Lucky me, I’ve got TWO tvs in my one family room.  But I’m excited about the new tv – it is not near as bulky and visually-imposing as the old one and I know in the long run {once the old one is gone!} the family room will seem much larger!

All in all, it was a productive weekend.  I can’t wait to tackle a new project next weekend!

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This kiddo just makes my day!

 

Hollywood!

 

 

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Have I told you about Mission:  Organized?  I am working hard to get our cozy house organized and functional, which often means a bigger mess is created as sorting and purging and moving of stuff take place.  Our upstairs office space is a constant work in progress, as is the kitchen.  Last week, I took everything out of the “pantry” cabinet (yes, cabinet; no, not a closet) and threw away the stale crackers and out-of-date baking supplies.  Then I reorganized the items by type and put them in nifty baskets.  Sweet Birdie’s Nest purchased a laminator, so I’m going to make and laminate labels for those baskets, too!  This week, I tackled the refrigerator and freezer.  I did NOT take pictures before or during the task, because, well…I just didn’t want to expose myself that much.  Believe me when I say it was not pretty.

I felt like we had SO much in the fridge and freezer, yet we could never use the items while we were cooking.  The first thing I did was take everything out of the fridge (well, almost everything – there is one drawer that doesn’t come out without the help of a sumo wrestler, so it stayed), wipe off the shelves, wall, and the door and the purge the out-of-date food and restock the fridge with what was left.  Then, I did the same with the freezer.

I may have found the following items in my fridge or freezer while completing this project:

-frozen french fries that expired in January of 2010

-a frozen pie crust that should have been used in January of 2008.  {Yes, that’s an 8}

-1 box of Girl Scout cookies, unopened; 2 sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, unopened; and 1 sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, opened

-peanut butter pie filling from ???  {I can’t remember when I made it last, but it was for someone’s birthday}

-6 bags of frozen berries, 4 of them opened

-4 bags of frozen corn

-2 bottles of open vodka

-random frozen chicken breasts in multiple Ziploc baggies, none of which were dated

-ground turkey from 2009 {I tried, but just don’t like it unless it’s in chili}

-something in a disposable casserole dish that was dated Aug/2009

-2 opened loaves of garlic bread

-mayonnaise and multiple salad dressings that expired in 2008, 2009, and 2010

-corn dip from Jim’s birthday party {I was relatively excited about this find because it’s from just two months ago!}

Instead of being embarrassed about this confession {I know I should be, but I refuse}, I am going to move forward with the knowledge that when I see “clean out fridge” on my weekly cleaning checklist, I should really just clean out the fridge and throw out anything past its prime.  I did find some beef stew that we can still eat, frozen mangoes that MJ might enjoy, and frozen garlic fries that we bought last month that I forgot we had.

{Oh, and I kept the unopened Girl Scout cookies and the vodka.}

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I’m one of those homeowners that is always looking for a new project – I’m constantly finding ideas online and soliciting advice from my mom and sisters on how to maximize our small space and have Pottery Barn decor on a HomeGoods budget.  I’ve got a few ideas in store for 2011 and I think first up is the bathroom.  We only have one bathroom in our house and I think we do a pretty good job of keeping things like our toothbrushes, Jim’s razor and my make-up out of sight.  However, it’s the one room that we really haven’t made any changes to since we moved in.

The black-and-white octagonal tile floor and the tub are original to the house, but the sink and toilet are “updated.”  We won’t be getting any new fixtures or tile, but I think a fresh paint color and new accessories would do the job!  When we moved in, I convinced Jim to paint the textured plaster walls black.  There is so much white tile in the bathroom and it gets great sunlight from the one window and it looks awesome.  I also love white towels (any white linens, to be exact) and have several sets monogrammed with black thread.  However, blue has been speaking to me lately and I’m ready to trade our black walls for blue.  I found some towels I loved at a high-end retailer, but then found cushy, similarly colored, much less expensive towels at Target, so I bought a set to try out the color in the room.  I put them out today and I love them!

And, when we paint, I might have two other small projects – I’d love to add a small glass shelf under the medicine cabinet and a larger shelf over the door to hold some of the rarely used items (like my hot rollers and a basket of extra toiletries) that are currently residing on a baker’s rack in our hallway. I saw the over-the-door shelf idea in a magazine and I think a piece of wood, some white paint and some brackets sound easy enough, right?!  {Famous last words, I know!}

You can see the paint swatches we like taped to the mirror.  I used to have a framed black and white print where the wreath is now, but I forgot to switch the wreath out after Christmas!  Oops!

I’ll be sure to share “after” pictures once we complete this project and I’ll share the rest of the house to-do list with you soon.

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Last week, we traveled to Ohio to be with Jim’s family for the Thanksgiving holiday.  When we started out, the weather was a balmy 80 degrees but four states and nine hours away, it was 32 degrees.  Hello, winter!  We planned to run/walk in the Turkey Trot but it was pouring rain and Molly only slept about two hours on Wednesday night, so we thought she might be too tired to run.  Ha!  Molly was a total sweetheart in the car but didn’t sleep a wink, and then she wasn’t too happy about sleeping her pack ‘n play, so Jim and I finally relented and let her sleep in the bed with us for the first time ever.  I can totally see why families do that – it’s so sweet and cozy and after hours of screaming, quiet.

Peaches got to spend quality time with her aunts and uncles and grandparents and although it took her some time to warm up, she was her usual charming self by Thursday and was even giving out hugs and high-fives on Friday.  She also got to experience some true winter weather and we had to buy her a winter coat at Target on Wednesday.  We took several jackets for her, but they just weren’t going to cut it in the Ohio wind.

Although Molly didn’t eat any turkey or yummy side dishes from Thanksgiving dinner, we did find out that she likes McDonald’s and Wendy’s chicken nuggets.  Go figure!  Jim made fun of me because I picked the fried skin off of the nuggets, and several people have pointed out that’s probably the most “real” part of them.

We drove home Saturday in time to put Molly to sleep in her own bed and she was out within minutes.  Jim and I unpacked and went to bed ourselves to prepare for Sunday – I had an 11 mile training run and we celebrated my dad’s birthday with family dinner at our favorite Sunday place, Hawthorne’s.  This week is the last week of the fall semester for me, so I’m busy with final grading and preparing the exams.  We got our Christmas tree last night and Jim managed to get the lights on it for us; we were hoping for more of a reaction for Molly but she just looked at it for a minute and then grabbed a book.  Hopefully she’ll be more interested once it’s fully decorated!

We’re looking forward to this Christmas season and seeing Molly’s reaction to the decorations, lights, and festive holiday events.  It’s so fun to watch her experience things for the first time.  Although this isn’t her first Christmas, she’s so much more aware of everything now so I’m expecting a lot of fun “firsts!”

 

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This afternoon, when I got home after picking Molly up from school, we were standing in the driveway talking to the neighbors.  Molly was being super-sweet, hanging out on my hip and resting her head on my shoulder.  After a few minutes, she saw the house key in my hand and started playing with it.  I realized she was pressing the buttons on the key fob that goes with our alarm system and I told her I needed the keys back.  I jokingly said to my neighbors, “The alarm is probably going off now!”

Fast forward three minutes.  We’re in the house, the alarm is NOT going off, and I’m getting Molly ready for her nap.  I immediately forgot about the key incident.

I was coming out of Molly’s room, having just put her down for her nap, and there’s a loud banging at the door and a police officer busts open the door with a huge, heavy flashlight in his hand.  “Police!” he yells.

I pretty much peed in my pants at that point.  He walks right in, starts looking around the house and asks who I am.  I tell him my name and state that I live here.  He gives me a once-over and asks if I’m ok.  I say, tentatively, “Yes.”  He then tells me that the panic alarm was pressed and I sort of laugh…”My daughter was just playing with my key fob and I was worried she would set off the alarm.  I guess she did!”

The police officer, on the other hand, was not laughing and proceeded to lecture me about how security alarms are not toys and I should not let my toddler play with the key fob.  Although I realize this, I also wonder how calculated Molly’s pressing of the buttons was.  I mean, really, it’s not like I said, “Here, honey, play with the key fob and press these two buttons AT THE SAME TIME.  It’ll be funny to see what happens!”

I wanted to ask him, “Do you have a toddler?  Have you ever tried to squeak out 30 more seconds of a conversation by shoving the nearest shiny object in her hands?  It was just a key; it didn’t occur to me that she would call 911 for us!”  But I didn’t.  I was polite and said, “Yes, sir, I’m terribly sorry for the inconvenience but I do appreciate your speedy response.”

Oh, Molly, I sure hope today wasn’t an indication of any future run-ins with law enforcement.

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