Friday, December 30, 2011

30 Before 30 500th POST!!!

30 Before 30
  1. Purchase a beginner piano book and learn a simple song
  2. Take a train ride --Although I did ride the Santa Train at Pullen park, I'm hoping to do a "real" train if possible.
  3. Walk through a corn maze
  4. Write 5 handwritten letters to friends
  5. Fly a kite with my boys
  6. Plant daffodil bulbs in front yard
  7. Take a meal to a new mom
  8. Pay it forward --I've decided what I'll be making, so that's a start!  Hopefully I can deliver them close to Valentine's Day :)
  9. Visit Connor
  10. Try out a new recipe
  11. Go Christmas Caroling  --Yes, the boys learned "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish you a Merry Christmas"
  12. Post my 500th blog post  --THIS IS MY 500th POST!
  13. Donate to a charity  --Donated to JDRF
  14. Have a party (not for my children) This is the one I'm most excited about, well that and the hot air balloon ride.  My ideal party will be a house-warming party when all the renovations are complete!
  15. Take a good friend to lunch
  16. Do something nice for a neighbor  chased down a yard waste barrel that was flying through the air like a kite and e-mailed neighbors to find it's owner.
  17. See a movie at the theater with Derek
  18. Decide where Chandler will go to Kindergarten --We will know the answer to this in late March!
  19. Visit a new city
  20. Read one book for fun
  21. Update our mailbox
  22. Figure out how to upload videos to the blog  I crossed this one out with fingers crossed that I've FINALLY figured this out with NO help from Derek.
  23. Have a progressive dinner party
  24. Bring a meal to somebody who is sick/has sick kids
  25. Try a “fancy” cupcake  Tried going to GiGi's one time, but they were closed :(
  26. Volunteer at the preschool
  27. Bake & Decorate cookies with my 3 messy boys
  28. Have a live Christmas tree for the first time in 10+ years  --Never did get around to posting about my not liking the watering part.  Luckily we have a large stand and Derek did it mostly :)
  29. Visit the Biltmore House, or at least plan the trip
  30. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride, or plan it!
Hopefully this is a random video of Brighton just to prove that I can do this by myself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Children change your life

Me & Maverick 3/18/11
Growing up I always knew that I wanted to have kids.  I was a only child and didn't have the benefit of knowing beforehand what having a "large" family entailed.  Or having one child for that matter.  Children change your life and in ways I had no idea that they would.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) they have caused the end of many of my friendships.  There are so many questions that come up when you have children such as:

  1. Should you have children at all?
  2. How old should you be?
  3. How many should you have? and how many is "too" many?
  4. Where will you deliver your child?
  5. Should you circumcise?
  6. Will you breastfeed, bottle feed, or both?
  7. Will you co-sleep?
  8. Will you use attachment style parenting?
  9. Should you give up your career to stay home with your kid(s)?
  10. How will you discipline your children?
  11. How will you educate them?
Believe it or not, these questions have caused me to really evaluate who I remain friends with and apparently who remains friends with me.  When it comes to children it seems that people have VERY strong opinions, myself included.  Luckily, I have a wonderfully supportive husband who has very similar morals and values as I do and respects my decisions when it comes to our children.  

I never expected that the relationship that you have with a person pre-children would be so changed after children.  There are people that flat-out disagree with my choices as a mother.  Sometimes it is very hard to remain strong in your beliefs when others are pointing out so called flaws.  I know that I'm not alone in this.  I have God to help guide me on this journey all I need to do is ask for help.  I'm certainly asking!  Parenthood is hard work!  

Chandler turns FIVE next year and that is when he is eligible to start Kindergarten.  This is something that I never thought I would think about and pray about so much.  I thought it was a no-brainer.  Boy, was I wrong.  This has been the thing I've been praying about the most lately, asking for God to help guide me (and Derek) in the decision.  Where we stand right now is that we will apply to a few Charter schools or we will homeschool.  For this year that seems like the best "fit" for our family.

My prayer is that where Chandler ends up will be the best choice for all of us and that we will all make strong friendships with those that have similar values to our family.  We are looking for people to encourage us in this journey called life, not drag us down.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas has come!

Wow!  Christmas is here.  We spent Christmas Eve doing our usual going to church at 4 p.m. and then heading over to a friends' house for dinner.  The boys were off-the-wall excited.  It was a little stressful managing all that excitement (at least for me!)  Once we finally got home, the boys left out cookies and milk for Santa and then Daddy read the big boys "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  We had to wait a very long time before Santa could come because the boys were SO EXCITED!

Daddy was still dressed up from ushering at church.

 On Christmas morning the boys bounded down the hall and Chandler immediately dumped his stocking out.  He then grabbed Maverick's stocking and helped him discover what goodies were inside.  Maverick just had a ball taking it all in.

Brighton asked Santa for a flashlight (that broke less than 6 hours later, but we've since replaced) but the biggest hit for him was a camera that is like a view finder.  He loves that thing!

Granddaddy Bob and Mimi got the big boys walkie talkies.  They were something the boys weren't expecting, but have already been used for many games of hide and seek.  They are a good set, so hopefully we'll take good care of them (fingers crossed).

We ended the day in the bath.  Maverick was very cranky and fussy most of the afternoon and this is one of the things that keeps him happy.  Brighton even said, "when are we going to bed?....I'm tired!"

Overall it was a wonderful Christmas, and we are so very blessed!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Adam with the Family

If you are wondering about the title, Adam came before "Eve" so.....

We spend the afternoon of the 23rd hanging out with Aunt Erin, Uncle Joel, Aunt Elizabeth and Granddaddy Bob at our house.  Grandma and Nanny were there too.  Unfortunately Mimi had to work and didn't arrive till almost bedtime.  It was great to see everybody if only for a short while.  

We feasted on honey baked ham sandwiches and chips and opened a few presents.  The boys were bouncing off the walls and everybody else too.

Maverick hangs out with his namesake.

Brighton doing flips with Aunt Erin

Everybody was laughing at how rough it looks like Uncle Joel was being in this picture.  He really wasn't----that bad!

Except for the boys, we all drew names for gifts.  I got Aunt Erin and bought her a book about how to make things out of clothing you no longer want.  This was my attempt at one of the creatures in the book.  I thought it came out very well for a first try.  Very cute.  I wonder what she'll name him/her.

Tuckered Out

I love sleeping pictures of my boys.  They just look so peaceful when they are asleep and you just love to see them that way especially when they have had a cranky day.  This little guy is cutting four teeth!  He also has a slight cold.  Add all the excitement of Christmas and all the activities going along with it and you have one tired baby!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Leading up to Christmas

In the week leading up to Christmas, there was much to do.  Of course we baked cookies....

But I think the boys had more fun once Daddy took off work and we could get out of the house and do things.  We went to Marbles kids museum and had a ball.  Chandler really liked the hockey rink and was actually quite good (I hear).  I was in the ball area with Maverick.  

Maverick enjoyed himself too.  He loved grabbing the cars as they rolled down the ramp that the boys were playing with.  He also enjoyed the various spots to stand up and watch the big kids play.  In one of the ball pits he even made a friend who was his size, but already crawling.  

I love the smile on Brighton here.  He really enjoyed driving the bus once it was finally his turn!  Being a little brother means you usually have to wait your turn.  Brighton also enjoyed dressing up in the pretend area and was a vet to an owl with a splinter in her wing.

Monday, December 19, 2011

9 Months in....9 Months OUT!

Wow!  How is it that my little guy is already 9 months old?  Today we had his 9 month check up so I have some stats for you!

Maverick is 18 lbs, 1 oz putting him down to the 15%.  This is the smallest for age he's ever been and definitely the smallest of any of my babies to date.  That's okay.  He's growing fine, and much easier on my back to carry around.  He's 27 3/4" long (30%) and has 45 cm head (65%)

He has one tooth on bottom and one tooth (upper right) on top that came in Friday (12/16).  He is no where near crawling and doesn't really roll or scoot yet.  Here's his newest trick that he also started this weekend.  He can stand for very short periods if you put him there.  He's still in the leaning on things mode to support himself, but I know his legs will get stronger soon.

I may be wrong, but I think he's going to be a late crawler like Chandler was.  He's a very happy guy sitting in one spot, so maybe he's not motivated?

In other news Maverick is eating two meals a day and sometimes a snack.  He's not really mastered the sippy cup but that's probably due to my lack of trying.  He gets frustrated (as do I) and so if I want him to have some juice since he really doesn't "need" it, I put some in a bottle.  He naps about 1 hour in the mornings and about 2 in the afternoons.  He goes down about 7:30 and sleeps until 7-7:30 a.m.

He is babbling some and will say, "da-da-da, ba-ba-ba, and occasionally ma-ma-ma"  In a cute attempt the other night, Chandler encouraged him to say, "Cha-cha-cha" (for Chandler!)  No luck on that one yet!  Maverick, you are such a joy to our lives and we can't wait to see your excitement on this first Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2011

House PLANS!!

So here's a quick and dirty post about the progress of our house!  We have finalized phase one of the design and will be moving forward with selecting a contractor and nailing down the price/budget/financing soon!  Below are two schemes of the new roof line.  Although neither one is "bad" we are going with option 1 unless budget restricts us to option 2.

Roof Line, Option 1

 Roof Line, Option 2

Here's the more up-to-date floor plan.  We are really happy with it.  I especially like the laundry room off the new entrance on the side of the house.  (click on picture to enlarge it)  There are still a few more tweaks to be done such as window and door placement, but overall we are very happy.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

MOPS is a blessing to me

The second and forth Tuesdays of the month are MOPS days.  Oh what a blessing they are to me.  It is a welcome break in my morning, a time to unwind with other preschool moms, and a time to be blessed and be a blessing to others.  Today was a special MOPS meeting because it was our Christmas party.  Our MOPS mentor, is also a very good friend of mine and I had made her a very special gift that I was so excited for her to open.  It was my first attempt at such a painting and I was quite pleased with how it came out.  I have always enjoyed doing artsy/crafty stuff, but I'm such a perfectionist and so critical of myself that I often don't like the end product.  This however was something I could be proud of.

The verse is their family verse and the colors are the colors that she has in her home (hopefully the colors came out okay....they were all hand blended by me using only the primary colors and white!)

Here's my friend, Mindy, holding up the painting.  After a time of food and devotion, there was a presentation of the steering team's favorite things.  There were about 10 different items and then they were raffled off and I was a lucky winner.  I selected the book by Ann Voskamp  called "One Thousand Gifts"  I felt like this book was meant for me and I can't wait to carve out some time to read it.  I've read some of her blog before and I really enjoy it.  I hope that during this season of Christmas that you will take the time to show people what a blessing they are to you and you will be blessed so much more than you can imagine!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Time for a cup?

I rarely post things in "real time" but had to make a quick post about this one.  Chandler came dressed in his football pants and pads and wanted me to play football with him.  I'm not that great at teaching a sport I'm not really familiar with all the rules, so I told Chandler he'd be the Quarterback.  I told him to stand behind me and yell, "Hut, hut.....Hike!" and that I'd hike the ball to him.  We were all set up ready to go and I hiked the ball.  Let's just say I did not hike it that hard but Chandler missed the ball and the next thing I heard was, " penis!"

Let's just say he wants to play baseball now!  I'm still laughing!

We love research studies $$$

I know the above isn't the best photo, but oh well....

Maverick and I have been doing several research studies lately and we love them.  In the past 10 days we've earned over $100 and have also gotten some "gifts" (certificates, t-shirts, bibs, rattles, etc...)

I find it's a nice diversion in our day to have something to do.  Sometimes, it's just me and him, and other times, the big boys come with us.  They have a good time as well and have both participated in research studies themselves.  Usually we do our studies at Duke, but this past week has had us at UNC too.  I much prefer Duke since the parking is not a nightmare like at UNC, but now that I've familiarized myself with the procedure, next time shouldn't be so bad, right?!?

Today was an especially good pay out of $20 for 4 minutes.  Too bad I can't earn that pay rate for an hour or so!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Express

Tonight we went to Raleigh's Holiday Express at Pullen Park.  We went four years ago when they first did it and you can read about that here  

We didn't go the following year, since Brighton was only 1 month old.  The year after that Pullen Park was closed for their renovations, so we are so happy that after TWO LONG YEARS the park has reopened.  We all had a great time and even met up with some friends that I know from MOPS that also has three boys.

Our first stop was Santa.  I thought Maverick looked so cute in his matching Santa suit.  He is fascinated by Santa and everybody said he was the best baby!

Next, I let the big boys have their turn.  They are sticking true to what they want.  Chandler wants a real fish and Brighton wants a flashlight.  I also think it's funny that Brighton says he needs a new one because Daddy broke his!

After seeing Santa we rode the carousel and the train.  Then we ate dinner that I had packed at the playground and played for a little while before catching the bus back to our car.  We can't wait to do it again next year!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Backwards Binky Baby

Maverick has some quirks that are truly his own.  His is definitely more of a talker/screamer than the other two were at this age.  He needs to have his voice heard in this loud house.  Another thing he does that the other two never did is put his binky in backwards!  I've yet to catch a picture of this until now.  He usually does this when he first wakes up and not at other times.  Silly boy!

Monday, December 5, 2011

House Plans Update

So, here's the house plan that we are liking the most.  Click on the picture to enlarge it.

There will be some tweaks to this plan including enlarging the master bath (Lindsay wants a separate bathtub) and possibly adding a garage onto the front right of the house.  Then there's the question of affordability.....

Compromises ahead!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wild Elf Chase

Meet, our elf elves, Simon & Samantha.  Our elf, Simon (left) has been a part of our Christmas tradition for a few years now.  The big boys love finding where he's hiding each morning.  Well, yesterday morning a fight, whining, pouting, and an overall general bad attitude resulted from one brother (B) finding the elf before the other brother (C).  I decided right then and there at the breakfast table that Simon was leaving early to report to Santa.  I announced that I looked down the hall and Simon was gone!  I said that he must have flown home early to tell Santa about all the arguing and fighting that was going on, and that Santa was going to be really upset.

Wow!  What a reaction that ensued.  There was crying over that one.  Simon stayed away all day and I also decided that Simon needed to get a brother or a sister to add to the "fun" at our house.  It had been on my mind for sometime that I'd like to eventually have one elf per child so that they can continue the tradition with their families when they are older.

Anyways, I set out after the kids were in bed to get another elf to join the family.  Well, Target # 1 was sold out.  They had called Target # 2, and put one on hold for me, so off I went.  Target # 2 did have an elf for me.  Unfortunately it was black.  Derek laughed out loud when I told him that.  The black elf just wasn't working for me, so off I went to toy store # 3.  They were also sold out!  Finally at B&N I found one that would work.  I had also bought at girl's elf skirt at Target # 1, mainly so it would be easier to tell the elves apart, but also it was cute.  Since I bought her, I'm naming her Samantha.  I wanted an "S" name to sound good with Simon.

I'm going to leave a note with the two elves explaining that Santa decided to have Simon bring his sister back to our house to keep an extra eye on C & B and that he would expect them to have better behavior and to show more sharing and kindness to one another.

Hopefully that will work!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

New Tree, New Tooth!

Today we finally got our Christmas Tree!  We have decided to get a live tree from now on since we gave our artificial one to a family in need last year.  It was quite the experience.  I haven't had a real tree in probably 20 years, so I really have no memory of what getting a real tree is like.

I learned some important things today, that hopefully I will remember for next year.  First thing is, when you see a tree on the lot that you like, guard it.  If it's a nice one, somebody will like it too and they will end up with "your" tree.  (Note: the one that I picked out was ultimately taken by somebody else, but it would have been on the smaller side)

Next, wear gloves when handling the tree.  That sap (or slap as Brighton calls it) is hard to wash off.

Also, place the "pretty side" of the tree forward when putting it in the stand, since it's hard to adjust after the fact.  We got a Krinner Christmas Genie stand, and it works well.  We've defiantly learned that once it's in there it's going to stay though!

The boys loved the lights so much, Chandler kept turning out the overhead light to see them better.

Other funny things to note:  Brighton helped Daddy get the tree off the car and then ran around the yard looking for the perfect spot for our tree.  When Derek started carrying it inside, Brighton started freaking out yelling, "No, Daddy, No.....You can't bring that inside!  No! NO, Daddy!"  That's definitely something we'll always remember :)

Chandler helps Dad with the star

Both Chandler and Brighton seemed to have no memory from years' past of decorating the tree.  Granted, Brighton is only three, but I would have thought Chandler would remember.  They thought when we said we were going to put lights on the tree that we'd have to take them off the roof and use those!  It's certainly been a funny day today.  I'm grateful for all these memories that we are making with our boys.

In other news, Maverick FINALLY got his first tooth today.  It's the bottom right one.  He's been a little more fussy than normal, so hopefully it will stop bothering him soon.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Mini Village

Aren't they adorable?  Thanks to my sweetie, I was able to get these done much quicker than I would have alone.  I have been putting this off all week since I knew I could only do it at night once little hands were not "helping".  These will serve two purposes.  They are my "decor" for table I'm hosting at the Christmas Tea on Saturday and they are also my favor.  How cute!

I decorated them in blue, green, white, and silver.  They same colors in my china pattern.  Although the shades of blue and green are much different than my china, it still has the same theme.  I'm pleased with how well they turned out.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the one on the farthest left, I think.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bows for my pretty Girl!

The big boys got haircuts today, and I decided it was about time Katie did too.

Katie has never been professionally groomed before, but I was willing to give it a try.  Her hair has gotten quite unruly these days and I certainly don't have the time to give her the pampering she needs.  Off to the groomers she went.  We decided to go with a "trim-up" and a "furminator" treatment.  The furminator is a grooming brush that reportedly gets rid of the undercoat and thereby reduces shedding.  She came home looking great, smelling like a Christmas cookie, and with pretty green bows on her ears.  Love it!

Derek thought the bows looked silly and wanted to take them out.  I reminded him that she's the only one in this house I can put bows on, so they were staying put!

In other news this is a super busy week for me/us.  I don't know why I do these things to myself, but I practically cram my schedule as full as it can possibly get.  I do like it that way, but I will need to work in more "free days" so I don't get overwhelmed.

There is a Christmas Tea this Saturday at my church where I'm hosting a table.  I could have easily bought favors for it, but no, that would have been too easy!  I'm going to be making them so I better get cracking on that.  I also have a cookie exchange this Thursday where I need 4 dozen cookies.  Luckily I'm half-done with that.  Brighton's 3-year appointment snuck by me somehow, so I squeezed that in on Thursday morning.  I have a research study on Wednesday night and Maverick and I have one Friday morning too.  Yes, it's going to be a busy week.

Oh....and as soon as the Christmas tree stand arrives in the mail, we'll get our Christmas tree picked out and put up (or shortly there after!)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Who says he can't paint?

Granddaddy Bob is quite talented if I do say so myself.  Although he has told me on more than one occasion that he doesn't like to paint, he made something that I was very impressed with.  While cleaning out my grandmother's house in Nashville he stumbled upon something that was his as a young boy and he wanted to pass it along to his grandsons.  He only had a daughter of his own, so this was fitting that he now has the boys (he thought) he always wanted!

I don't remember what clues were given about what was inside the mysterious box, but the final guess before the big reveal was "a turtle!"  We all had a good laugh about that one.
It turned out to be an army helmet that my dad played with as a boy.  It's origin was most likely WWII. My dad said that he had painted it over the years every color in the rainbow, but gave it a new camo-paint job before passing it on.  

Brighton the soldier.
I've never attempted to paint anything camouflaged before, but I know who to call if I need it.  I thought it looked great.  Dad said he even cut out a leaf pattern to add to the realism.  

Of course, you can't play "army" without guns too, so those were the next gift to be opened up.  The boys had a blast with their army presents.  Chandler is wearing a cap that was my dad's when he was in the airforce.  I thought he looked real comando-style here.  So funny!

Dad, thanks for the great fun.  We can always count on you to spoil us!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ho Ho Whole Lotta Shopping!

Yes, Today is Black Friday!  My favorite shopping day of the year.  I couldn't decide whether I wanted to stay up until Midnight for some deals, or just get up early to shop a little before the boys woke up.  Midnight is usually way past my normal bedtime, and I'm not a night person.  Anyways, that's what I decided to do.  Just before midnight I headed down the  street to my local Target.  I expected I could just pull up at 11:45 p.m. and stroll up to the front of the store and wait with a small crowd.  Boy way I wrong!

IT WAS PACKED!  I guess it was worth the wait.  I did find the three items I was looking for and actually scored the very last one of a certain hard-to-find item.  I was happy and back in bed by 12:30 a.m.  (that was the even better part)

Once the rest of the crew woke up and Maverick had his morning nap, I took all the boys to the Christmas Carousel Craft show at the Fairgrounds with the promise of a visit with Santa.  Grandma and Nanny met us there and they watched the boys while I "power shopped" for about 1 hour.

It was worth it and I scored a few more items off my shopping list, so I'm pleased.  This was the best picture of the boys with Santa.  I think it came out good!

Apparently, Maverick was very interested in the long white bearded man.  He wasn't looking at the camera in many of the shots.

Chandler told Santa that he wants a fish for Christmas.  Brighton wants a flashlight, and Maverick wants his two front teeth!  Ha!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grandmother Cooke's Dressing

I'm definitely in the mood for Thanksgiving now!  Growing up, Thanksgiving was my least favorite holiday.  I associated it with arguing.  There was always arguing about getting ready, who was doing what, cooking what, bringing what.....etc.  Then we'd get to Grandmother and Granddaddy's house and everything would be great.  All the smells coming from the kitchen would be wonderful!  You know what I mean.  

I think that we actually counted up the dishes my grandmother had prepared (solo) one year and it was SEVENTEEN!  She liked to have just a little taste of everything.  My absolute favorite thing she would make would be her dressing.  We would have it for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.  I'm not sure when I decided that I needed this recipe, but luckily I had her "help" me make it one year and tried my best to write down how to make it.  

This will be the first year I've ever made it since, much less, without her guidance.  I really hope it turns out well.  This has been an all day event for me in between taking care of three little ones....I'm pooped.  Sweetie, I'll be ordering a pizza for dinner FYI.

First, I woke up before 6:30 a.m. so I could hopefully have an hour or so to prep before my "day" began.  I guess I should note that grandmother would already have most of these ingredients on hand as she made things ahead of time and would freeze them.  Maybe I'll try that approach next year.

Here's my first step.  I had to make "cubed loaf bread crumbs".  I cut up bread and baked it at 200 until crispy.  I boiled my six eggs while that was baking.  That's about all I could get done in my hour.  The next step would have to wait until naptime # 1.

This next step was going to be the hardest.  I had to make corn meal bread crumbs from scratch.  My instructions were to combine equal parts corn meal and flour, some shortening, and milk.  Get this to a "dough-like" consistency and cook until it crumbles. 

After getting my "dough" I spread it thin on a cookie sheet, preheated the oven to 450 and baked it.  It came out great for my first try.  While this was cooking I began working on the celery.

I diced up the celery (very explicit instructions on how to cut it) and then diced up the eggs I had boiled earlier.  The rest had to wait until naptime # 2.

Now I decided to finish while I had at least 1.5 hours to myself.  I diced up the onion and began sautéing it.  Now, I did not have chicken stock from scratch on hand, but had to used canned.  Hopefully that will be okay, grandmother.  I also used a small amount of Pepperage Farm stuffing for seasoning.

Since my MIL doesn't eat onion, I split the mixture into 1/3 and 2/3 portions.  I really can't remember what kind of bowl we'd mix this up in, but it certainly would need to be a big one!

Below is the mixed up onion version, and the non-onion before I added the chicken stock and mixed it. You also were supposed to add pepper to taste.  It tasted great to me.  I hope I can cook it right.  I wasn't quite sure about the amount of liquid to add since that was a ballpark figure too.  The onion kind was a little drier and the non-onion was a little wetter.  We'll see which one cooks the best.

The last step was bagging it up.  I froze half of it for Christmas and saved some to try and cook tomorrow.  A little extra incase the first batch burns or something.  The "O" means onion :)

Can't wait to taste the cooked version tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Happy Thanksgiving!