Thursday, October 31, 2013

{halloween memories}

I have fond childhood memories of Halloween.
Our costumes were never fancy.
Always put together from thrift store purchases, 
items we already owned, 
or were worn by older siblings.

Dad always walked with us all over the neighborhood, collecting candy.
This was back when you actually had to walk up to the door and ring the bell and yell trick-or-treat, 
instead of just walk by the parent sitting at the edge of their driveway, chatting with the neighbors and drinking beer, and grab a handful.
Or is that just my neighborhood???
fairy, hobo, crabby bunny and patchwork mouse (???) 
 This was all stuff we already had, thrift store, or, in my case, my sister's old dance costume...
cool dude (??? - not sure but love the avs), dancer, and  cowgirl
I never took a dance class.  Surprising, right?
My baby bro's superman costume below was also worn as pajamas all that winter...
since when did superman wear swim goggles?
This is my older bro and sis and our cousin...
um...methinks my sister needs a diap change.  but could she be cuter???
 ...and me in the exact same Rapunzel(???) dress and wig five years later...looking a little less enthused...
knight, nurse, and disgruntled rapunzel
I adore looking back on these photographs.
This is why taking a million photos of your kiddos throughout their childhood is 100% worth it.
I can't wait to dig the rest out of our basement!
Anyway - 
finally Hubby and I have made it to an stage in parenthood where Halloween is actually fun.
Cormac is now two and actually excited for it.
Sure, we dressed him up the past two years,
and I loved it...
but now he can love it.
Which is a million times better.

This year I was charged with getting both of our kiddos costumes for under $20, which I did almost successfully!
Pics to come soon!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

surprise date : wine and guns

I shot a gun for the first time on Friday.
I'd like to say it was a really cool experience and I loved it and now am addicted to shooting things.  
But no.
I knew kind of already that I had a gun phobia.  I once burst into tears and had a panic attack when a friend tried to show me an {unloaded} pistol he had purchased.  I wouldn't calm down until he had put it away in its little box and the box itself was out of sight.
However, my sweet hubby didn't know this and decided to plan a secret date.
I love surprises from Hubby so I was pretty excited.
We left the sweet kiddos with the grandparents for the day and started driving to the secret destination.  I of course was guessing the entire time.  Sky diving?  Hot air balloon ride?  Mini golf?  
The morning weather was absolutely gorgeous - frosty, but sunshine and not a cloud in the sky.
Perfect fall day!
We took the scenic route (Dad, you would be proud!) and I was enthralled with the beautiful Kentucky countryside.  A million times I wished we could have stopped to take pictures of pretty tobacco barns and fields...but we had to our destination since we had a limited window to do whatever activity it was we were going to do.
Finally we turned toward Elk Creek Winery, and I was instantly relieved I wouldn't be thousands of feet in the air for anything, but happily on the ground drinking wine.
But we kept driving past the winery until we got to a place called the 'hunt club.' 
That was when I realized our date included more than wine...
but guns as well.

We were going to be shooting clay targets with a 12 gauge shotgun.
I grew up with two brothers who shot guns frequently on our farm, so you would think I would have done this before.  
I had avoided all gun shooting for 32 years...
but now that streak was over.

I knew I couldn't wimp out.

Our first "station" I watched Paul and pushed the buttons to release the clay targets.
Then, at my turn, I skittishly danced around
not wanting to really even hold the gun.
Finally, after asking if the safety was on about a hundred times,
I held the gun as Paul instructed 
(it was just me and him so I could be as 'fraidy cat as I pleased)
and shot my first shot.

I hated it.

It was scary and loud.  
My teeth rattled from the kickback.  
The gun was heavy.
I kept thinking of how easily it could kill someone
and worked myself up into a psychological tizzy.
I burst into tears, but then, after some convincing, 
shot it again.
(we weren't even pulling the targets...there was no way I would hit any in my emotional state.)
Still hated it.
So for the rest of the time Paul happily shot at each station solo.  I took photographs of him shooting - marveling at how he was surprisingly a very good shot - and of the gorgeous scenery on such a lovely autumn day.  I had a fine time riding down the steep hills in the golf cart through the woods and being the designated 'button pusher.' 
Okay, I did try to shoot one more time, two or three more shots.
But my hate had lessened to a strong dislike.
yes, I understand I look ridiculous holding a gun.
So while I wasn't a fan of shooting guns myself, it was still a fun morning.
(Plus, dearest Hubby, I saved us some money on bullets.  
You're welcome.)

+ + + + + + 

Then it was off to the portion of the date I could fully appreciate:
the winery.
We ordered lunch in the beautiful lodge
and I had a strawberry and brie salad that was honestly the most delicious meal I've ate in a long time.  All that fresh air and gun shootin' had given me quite an appetite...
...and a thirst!
We did a wine tasting, ate our lunch, walked around the art gallery and talked while drinking a surprisingly good cabernet franc, then ordered another glass of wine to bring out for a stroll through the vineyard.

Nice work, babe.  
You got me to try something new, and I love a new experience once in a while.
Plus, you topped it all off with some wine drinking.  Good man.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

why 'two' is not terrible at all

Friday night the hubby was out of town - so I was solo with the babes.

I was kind of dreading it, as it is kind of a bummer to be without your spouse on the weekend, and by 6pm on any night I am ready for a break from the kiddos.

Trying to make the best of it, I declared to Cormac that it was Friday Night Movie Night!  {insert exaggerated enthusiasm used by all parents to try to get their kids who don't understand quite what you are saying to get excited}

"I'm gonna put Sister to bed, then we are going to get in our jammies, make popcorn, watch Cars, and snuggle on the couch!"  I must have said this sentence about a million times throughout the dinner process.  Then of course he would repeat it back to me and mimic my enthusiasm.  He repeats everything nowadays and when you get them to say the right things it is actually kind of awesome.

Anyway, when 'Friday Night Movie Night' finally commenced, and we were snuggled on the couch in our pj's with a plate of cookies and a sippy cup of milk in front of us (he didn't want popcorn), animated movie was a moment that made my heart swell three times its normal size.  Truth be told I barely watched the movie, as I'm not that into animated kiddo flicks.  I spent the entire time hugging him tighter, smelling his hair, handing him cookies (he goes into zombie mode when a show is on) and resting my eyes, enjoying the calm and quiet.

Then when I put him to bed he said, "I like Friday Night Movie Night, Mama."
Me, too, kiddo.  Me, too.

Anyway, two has its challenges, for sure.

Daily meltdowns - he stomps and screams if you turn the light off in his room or put his toothbrush away or put him in his carseat rather than let him climb into it, because "That's MY job!!!!"

Extreme possessiveness - anything you put in front of the baby for her to play will all-of-a-sudden be something he HAS to have, even if it is simply to take it away from her and "put it back."

Super OCD - don't you dare put a toy in the wrong spot, or his sippy in the wrong spot, etc.

Testing the limits - sometimes I will ask him if he wants a 'spank', and with a smile he responds, "Wes. Wes, I would.  That would be nice." It reminds me of when my little Gram used to threaten to spank me, and I would say cheekily, "Go ahead!  It won't hurt anyway!" and she would chase me around the house with a flyswatter.  Anyway, other times Cormac will just have a giant meltdown at the mere mention of a 'spank' (which, by the way, equals a light, barely felt swat on the butt.  So far.)

But, the awesome things about two far outweigh the hard things.

Such as...
  • How much more fun everything is now (pumpkin patches, Halloween, getting him pumped up for Santa/Christmas).  
  • Singing - he sings!  With you!  Entire songs.  For this show-tune singing mama it is sheer awesomeness.
  • He sleeps in his big boy bed.  Finally.  Entire nights.  Without getting out - well, for the most part.  It is just so much more fun having him sleep in a big bed for some reason.  
  • He gets excited for mealtimes. (Well, unless he is doing something 'important,' such as 'working with Dada's tools,' which, by the way, is 'hard work.')  I love to feed my family - and when I get to say those magic words "Come and eat - dinner is ready!" I feel like such a mom.  I love when he pulls 'his' stool out and tries desperately to climb up into his booster seat.  I love that I still have to help him into it.  I love putting the food I've prepared in front of him, whether he eats it out not.  But the best is when he eats it and declares, "I like this!"
So while I sort of get why some think the 'twos' are 'terrible'...
it is still pretty much my favorite age so far.

Friday, October 18, 2013

finola - 5 months!

 Dear Fin,
Five months have flown by, and, just like with your brother, it just gets more and more fun.  I like that you are more talkative, with new sounds every day...particularly shrieks and squeals.  I love your activeness -- you jump like crazy, swing your arms around, and try your darndest to move, move, move during tummy time.  Mostly you just end up "swimming" but that's okay - builds the core!  I love your sweet smile...and your ears!  Where, oh where did you get those lovely ears that stick out?  We have no idea, but it is one of my favorite things about you.  Your Grumpa Ron would say, "Keeps you humble." I say they are fantastic.  :)

Sweet.  Expressive.  Determined.  Observant.  
The jumperoo.  The Bjorn.  Cormac.  Dada.  Sleeping.  Lights on appliances - especially the refrigerator.  Smiling at yourself in the mirror.  Tony Chestnut.  Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Grabbing the pages of books and trying to turn them.  Water bottles.  Colbie.  
Being forced to sit on my lap and read a book.  She seems to like books - grabbing at the pictures, trying to turn the pages and flip the flaps...but not being forced to sit and listen to me read them.  This makes her book-nerd mama very sad!  You also dislike being awake when you would rather be napping/sleeping.  One night, halfway thru story time, you just decided you were done and started screaming until I put you in your crib...where you immediately fell asleep.

You still take a two hour morning nap and a two hour afternoon nap - which is awesome!  Your bedtime is between 6 and 7pm, and you wake up for a feeding once or twice a night.  Awakens for the day between 6 and 7am.  Still haven't slept through the night, but I'm okay with it.  I just want to enjoy this stage, since you might be my last little babe.  This is such a short period in the grand scheme of things.

Still mostly breastfeeding, with one bottle of formula before bedtime, oatmeal added.  I have been pumping while Hubby feeds you the bottle to keep my supply up, but my goal is to make it to six months and then see if I want to continue or go to formula.  Happy I've been able to at least make it this far (twice as long as with Cormac!)

Sibling relations:
He is your favorite.  He is the best at calming you (he sings so much now!) and making you laugh.  He loves to grab your cheeks and "bop" you -- which thankfully he does gently.  He comes up and gives you kisses and bear hugs, and one morning we couldn't locate him and he had climbed into your crib with you!  He now says, "I like to ent-tain my sister!" Sometimes you just stare expectantly at him while he ignores you.  Like in this photo:
I love the smiles and looks of adoration you give your big bro!
Mama's feelings:
I am feeling pretty decent, despite the renovation chaos in our home at the moment.  This month has been interesting, as I have really noticed my body changing back to "normal."  I now have to shave my legs every day again *tear*.  My hair has been falling out all over the place - no more thick pregnancy mane!  I'm technically back to my "pre-baby weight."  Now I am working on toning up!

in your efforts to learn to crawl you faceplant a lot - and knock things over, like that jamba juice cup.

Below: Your mama (six months) and You (five months) little doppelganger!

This Month's Memories:
* First trip to the pumpkin patch! Uh, and this photo pretty much sums up the experience for you...
first time in baby tights!  
 *First 'solid' foods.  You still are not sure about this.  We have given you oatmeal and green beans, neither of which you seem to enjoy.  Mostly you spit them out, and spend the time trying to grab the spoon and feed yourself.  We shall keep practicing, though!

* First overnight alone with grandparents!  Your dada and I went for an overnight date in Chicago, so you spent one night and the better part of two days with your Mimi and Arcey.  Overall it went pretty well, and I am very excited for you to get to know your grandparents more! :)
staring into mimi's eyes
* First time in the gym and church playrooms!  I have no pics of this, but the feedback has been: "She is very talkative!"  and "She looks just like her mama!"  and "She is a happy baby!"  However, we only do about 30 minutes max at the gym...for now!

*First attempts to crawl!  You have started to get up on all fours and rock back and forth vigorously, which is what your brother did when he was learning.  You seem very determined to have forward mobility.  However, you don't roll around at all.  You only like to roll onto your tummy, because you hate being on your back.

*You weigh a solid 16.6 lbs!  Not much gain since last month.  Of course, I weighed you after your once-a-week maybe it is more?
*Wearing all 6 month or 6-9 month clothing.

Look how you have grown!  
I love you more and more, little girl.  I now realize I could never have imagined our family without you.  You are essential to our 'pack.' 

Love, Mama + Dada

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

the renovation : chaos and a doorway

Our home is chaos, and has been for the past four weeks.

Even as I type there is some sort of very loud power-tool whirring in the hallway upstairs.  If my babies remain asleep it will be a miracle.

All the renovation chaos/mess has had me quite creatively sapped.  Having dust everywhere from contractors boring holes through three layers of brick, cutting through both drywall and concrete walls, and 150 years worth of yuckiness from the attic/ceiling dropping down into the all the upstairs bedrooms frankly has this blogger feeling a little beaten down and feeling like I am in survival mode.
They tell you kitchen renovations are the worst, but I will contend after having gone through both (a kitchen reno twice) that having the ductwork completely redone for your HVAC system is a million times worse.  Particularly when you are living in the house and stay at home all day with two little ones.    Basically every room has been invaded at least twenty times.   They have been on the roof pounding, in the attic, in the basement.  No room is safe from this project - from noise or dust.

The baby has had to nap in three different rooms to avoid noise and contractors walking through her room (it is a pass-thru at the moment) and the toddler has had a lot of noise going on right outside his bedroom door during most nap times.

I have a permanent twitch from this issue alone, and I am vigilant about protecting the kids schedule/naps.

We have also been without a washer and dryer for about a month since our former laundry room has been a work zone -- we had to unhook and rewire/reroute electric and plumbing (which is still not done.)  Therefore, we have been doing laundry at the laundromat or at other people's houses.  Kinda inconvenient, but thankful for those folks that helped us out.

A month of this - I am surprised I am still (somewhat) sane.  My psyche does not do well with lack of privacy, lack of peace, and overall lack of control.

But one exciting thing has come out of this...the 'dream home' which was once two separate units is now, officially, one home!

Here is me, not even trying to hide my excitement about this doorway...

Hoping your lives are all peaceful and dust-free!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

story of a little black dress

This is the story of a dress.
A little black dress.

We all have one (well, we ladies.)
Some of us have multiple.

But there is always one that is our "go to."  To feel gorgeous.  That shows off what we want to show off and hides what we like to hide.

Here is the story of my little black dress.

In December of 2001 (yes, twelve years ago) my hubby, then boyfriend, who I was madly in love with, bought it for me.  The company he was doing an co-op position for was having their annual Christmas party, so as one of my Christmas gifts he decided we'd go pick out a cocktail dress for me to wear.  (Can I just say that even at 20-years-old he was clearly the perfect man for me???)

We picked this one out.  We both loved it.  This picture doesn't really show it at all, and sorry for the poor photo quality, as it is scanned from a paper newspaper-type clipping...
whoa...were were babies!  and I was blonde!
Since this is the only picture I have from that night, an apt description of the frock would be: a mid-calf length simple black strapless, fitted in silhouette, made of soft, cotton material, with a pretty overlay of black lace-like design.  It also has a slightly racy slit up one side...but none of my pics seem to show that.

After this event I wore the dress many times during the years between this - our first formal date - and our actual marriage.  During those six years we dated on and off...but I always had this dress to remind me of my 'first love' - that ended up as my one true love!

Even my sister Heidi even wore it several times!  She and I referred to it 'the signature dress' because it was pretty flattering on both of us and could be worn to any number of events.

For some reason after Hubby and I got married the dress went into hiding.  I put it and several other dresses (like my wedding dress) in a portable garment closet down in our basement, wrapped in plastic and then forgotten about.

Until now.

So why did I go digging for dress options in our dark and dungeonous basement?  Typically when we have a wedding or other formal event to go to I will use it as the perfect excuse to buy a new dress.  I love clothes shopping and dress shopping is particularly fun.  However, recently my husband was inspired to be even more frugal in our spending.  Long story short: he dreams of retiring really early and found a blogger who did just that and writes all about it.  Therefore, even though we were already pretty fiscally conservative (got debt-free through Dave Ramsey's guidelines) now we are furthering our efforts to save in order to perhaps enjoy a fairly early retirement.  Basically, we cancelled cable and eliminated a bunch of other little 'unnecessary' things (such as a new outfit for every event), along with aggressive saving.

Therefore, instead of heading to the mall I headed to the basement, and unearthed several viable dress options, including...the 'signature' black dress.

In my head I thought, There is no way this dress will still fit me!  I am ten pounds heavier than I was when I first wore that dress.  I have more curves.  Also, I had two babies, one less than five months ago.

Luckily the dress is made of very forgiving stretchy material.  It even ruches in the center to somewhat cover that last bit of baby belly.  Oh, and I 'sucked it in' all night.  All in the name of fashion!  :)
in our hotel room - between wedding festivities

Since this was my first night away from Finola in nearly five months (I waited much longer with Cormac!) we decided to only get away for one night, so I wouldn't be too traumatized.   We got up and drove to Chicago early Saturday morning, arrived in plenty of time to check in, take a nap (!!!) and get ready.

The wedding was lovely, and the reception was a blast.  Weddings always remind me why I love my husband so much.  Not only does the ceremony get us all teary and reminiscent of our own vows, but the reception reminds how much fun we have together.  This one was no exception.  We drank, we enjoyed an excellent dinner, we danced, we took goofy photos in the photo booth, and drank and danced some more.  
Hubby and I at the wedding 
So, the signature little black dress enjoyed the exact same type of fun night twelve years later on this mama-of-two, curvy brunette that it did on a twenty-year-old skinny blonde.

Somehow, I'm kind of proud of that.

+ + + + +

So, how many little black dresses do you own?
What kind of stories could they tell?