Monday, November 30, 2009
Here is the website about the movie.
Here is the trailer I found on You Tube.
It chronicles the first year in the lives of four babies born around the globe. I SO hope it comes to a theatre near me! How 'bout you?
Ugh! I want to see this so badly I almost wish it was 2010 already! Almost.
Seriously, watch the trailer ... I dare you not to smile!
Sunday, November 29, 2009
But boy did he look cute when he was finally dressed! And, as usual, my sister was impeccably attired even on a cold day.
Little B is able to walk but he isn't very fast and isn't so sure on his feet just yet, so we decided to strap him to someone again this year. My burgeoning belly kept me from hauling my little man around, my dad and husband had to carry the tree, and my sister has back troubles, so the duty fell to my mom. She handled all 28 pounds of him pretty well, though! Baylor, on the other hand, wasn't too thrilled about it at first.
Eventually, though, he got to smiling, even laughing a bit when Oma would "run him into" a tree.
My parents have a cathedral ceiling in their office where the tree was going to go, so we had to head down the giant hill at the tree farm to find a bigger, taller tree. Big B carried Little B down the hill so my mom wouldn't have to shoulder the weight.
Then he got to try walking in his new boots and snowsuit ... it didn't go overly well unless he had someone to hold onto.
Every year my dad measures the tree ... it's gotta be at least up to his fingers, if not taller. (He's 6'4" tall, by the way.)
My husband got my mom and son on the truck going up the hill so no one would have to carry the little man, then the remaining four of us cut down the tree and got it up the hill. Okay, the guys did most of the work, but I did take pictures!
After a little hot cocoa and getting the tree strapped to the roof of the car, we headed off to Real Food Cafe for a little lunch. I think my little man was happy to finally be free of his snowsuit.
Once we finished our awesome lunch, we headed back to my parents' house to put up and decorate the tree (and watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation). Little B took a nap during the whole extravaganza which was probably for the best.
Dad and I got the lights on the tree, pausing a little bit for his favorite part of the movie (where Clark goes to the mall to do a little adulterous shopping). Don't the lights look pretty?!
Then Dad put on the angel ...
We had to cut off a couple of the top branches, and we were in awe of how sappy this tree was. Take a look at that!
My mom made some slice and bake cookies for us to eat while we decorated. Homemade slice and bake, of course.
My maternity pants got wet while we were out getting the tree, and my mom offered to throw them in with the darks she was going to do so I took her up on it. Instead of getting another pair of maternity jeans dirty (I only have so many of them, you know?) I decided to decorate the tree in my skivvies. Jealous?
My husband threw his pants in the wash, too ... luckily he was wearing exercise shorts underneath! Here he is admiring all our handiwork.
My sister looked fantastic and was cheery in spite of a cold! That's the spirit, Christine!
When Little B finally woke up, he was in awe of the tree and all its wonderful lights. My sister promptly taught him how to turn on and off said lights (thanks again, Christine!) and he set to work.
Boy oh boy, was he excited!
We hung out for a little while longer, then headed home to decorate our own tree. After we got all the Christmas decorations upstairs, Baylor took it upon himself to strength test the Rubbermaid containers. Yes, yes, he climbed up there himself.
He was pretty proud of himself to say the least!
We have the same on/off switch as my parents, so Baylor quickly set to work turning our living room into a disco!
We couldn't put all our ornaments up this year because a certain little someone isn't quite old enough to be around uber-fragile things, so it took a bit of reorganizing to get the tree all decorated. My husband isn't overly keen on decorating for Christmas, so he kept Little B occupied while I scurried around filling the house with Christmas cheer.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
So why is it always so hard to remember all the good stuff we have? I have all these things every day, and yet it takes a day like today to remind me that things in life really are good - not perfect, but most certainly beautiful in their own way. So I am thankful for days like today that focus on the good and sort out all the bad, that refocus life toward a more thankful spirit. How can I not be thankful when I get to see a happy little face like this everyday?!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Like that idea, huh? Well, if you do any of your holiday shopping online, like many people do these days, you should really check out Mr. Rebates. All you have to do is register with Mr. Rebates, visit their site to start shopping, then access your choice of one of their nearly 2000 participating online stores through the Mr. Rebates site. (They'll walk you through it when you register, in case my instructions are less-than-clear.) The rebates range from 1% to 50% of the price of your purchases, though some online stores feature flat dollar amounts. Last year we got about $25 back through Mr. Rebates - in the form of a check, not a gift card or credit somewhere - and it can really take the edge off holiday spending. Plus, they often have the inside scoop on deals and coupon codes you can use on their participating websites!
Also, you can refer your friends to the site and get rebates just because they've used Mr. Rebates! My sister gets a little cash every time I shop online and use Mr. Rebates just for referring me. Since you are all my friends, I'm referring you ... if you want, you can enter my registered e-mail address (NikyJ13@aol.com) into the referral area of your Mr. Rebates registration page and I'll get a little something every time you use the website. Then you can refer your own friends and make money off their shopping! Wait, that sounded bad.
Anyhow, moving on ...
The first online shopping website I'd like to spotlight is Shutterfly.com. You can upload your personal, digital photographs onto this site and do anything from print off simple pictures to have your favorite photos turned into a deck of playing cards! Last year I made my husband a calendar and he made me our wedding photo album for Christmas, both from Shutterfly, and we were very happy with their service. Even when his calendar arrived damaged, I was able to get a new one rushed to me in time for the big day at no extra cost!
There are lots of other similar websites that offer photo-related gift ideas, but I haven’t tried them so I don’t have as much familiarity with them. Nonetheless, they might have just what you are looking for!
The second website I’d like to bring up is Etsy.com. This beauty of an online store brings artists and crafters to people across the globe. You can find all sorts of amazing treasures on Etsy, from a great pair of earrings to fingerless gloves to a pen holder made out of floppy disks. Also, many Etsy shops specialize in vintage items. All in all, Etsy is a great place to find special gifts for the special people in your life!
One often overlooked gift idea is one that keeps on giving the whole year long (or longer in some cases): the magazine subscription. Magazines.com is a fantastic website that can hook you up with great deals on popular magazines. And, if you use Mr. Rebates this holiday season, you can earn up to 30% back on your subscription purchases!
Finally, Amazon.com is a wonderful website for finding just about anything and everything. I’d go on and on about all you can find on it, but I think its reputation speaks for itself. If you haven’t been on there and have a hard-to-find item on your list, check it out … you’ll be astounded at the range of products they sell and prices they offer.
Oh, one more site, I promise.
My sister recently introduced me to Wize.com. It is a website that compiles the review sections of many, MANY other sites on all sorts of products, from night vision goggles to perfumes to learning toys for children. If you find yourself unsure of the best X, Y, or Z to purchase, the expert reviews and user ratings on Wize.com can certainly shed some light on the subject!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Introducing, "Paco" ...
My favorite picture. (The blob that is covering up most of his face -yes, I THINK it's a boy - is the placenta ... he's really squished in there!)
He only weighs about 14 ounces right now, but his growth is right on schedule. This was the same for Baylor; his weight didn't really start to snowball until later in the pregnancy.
So that's our new baby! Skeletal, but very cute. With how hungry I've been lately, he'll no doubt gain a lot of weight in the coming weeks.
An hour before the ultrasound (6:15, for those of you with lagging math skills - sorry, I'm cranky) I have to have completely consumed this:
Saturday, November 21, 2009
*Regarding all the holiday gifts I'm going to talk about this season (which hopefully will be a lot) - most, if not all, of them will be things I can personally vouch for as being wonderful products/services. I get a little nervous recommending something I haven't tried out myself, so if you have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment for other readers to see!
Okay, onto awesome games!
Apples to Apples: This is a fantastic game of comparisons. I feel it is best played with a large group (at least 5 people) and even works well when you have little ones around. We played it tonight at my dad's birthday party (observed), and my son was well-attended to even though all the adults were playing. The game changes every time you play and can spark some interesting conversations.
Blokus: This abstract board game involves setting tiles down into a grid, hoping to use up all your tiles and block your opponents. It comes in a regular square block version as well as a "trigon" version; I have played both and have found them to be equally enjoyable. It reminds me a lot of the tangrams you get to play with when you're a kid and can be equally as mentally stimulating.
Settlers of Catan: This board game originally hails from Germany, though it seems to have acquired quite the following here in the States. I like to think of it as a combination of Monopoly and Risk, and though I don't really care for either of those games I do love this one. Expansion packs and other add-ons are available, but the original is classic all on its own. One caveat ... when played amongst very, very competitive people this game has been known to cause a little conflict; beware, and play at your own risk.
Trivial Pursuit: This is a perennial favorite at our house; we have probably four or five versions of it floating around. I personally prefer the Genus versions of the game that encompass all time and genres; I find the specialized ones a little too difficult. We had the 20th anniversary edition and it only took on the previous 20 years, causing most of the questions to delve into the insanely obscure. That said, I received the Easy-Medium-Hard edition last year and have really enjoyed playing that.
Bananagrams: Wonderfully portable and easily molded to your time and player constraints, this game is similar to Scrabble but turns it up a notch by adding in the speed factor. No need to count up points and worry about how you are going to best use your high-scoring tiles; this game focuses on making the most words in the least amount of time. Bonus: it can really help you become a better speller!
Scrabble: We love Scrabble at our house and play it more than pretty much any other game around. Our travel version, in particular, gets a lot of use because we can tote it from room to room while we get other things done without worrying about whether the tiles are going to shift. Combine the travel version with a Scrabble dictionary for a great gift!
Yahtzee: As this classic is a bit on the noisy side, we don't often get a chance to play it at our house (we play most games while Little B is asleep), but when we do play I remember how enjoyable Yahtzee can be! It is great to use to teach children about odds and strategy and can be so much fun for adults as it closely parallels poker.
Sequence: Yet another fun game that is wonderful for teaching the nuances of strategy. This board game combines Connect Four with traditional playing cards, and the result is fantastic fun for the whole family!
I highly recommend these games, both new and "classic", for the game-lover in your life!
Friday, November 20, 2009
Her name is Stella, and she used to be my boss when I worked at a ladies' clothing store (that shall remain nameless). I have never encountered anyone like her before or since, and no one makes me feel a whole gamut of emotions like she does - all negative, mind you. This woman tormented me, berated me, belittled and berated customers (which, I believe was her downfall at this particular store - with her, the customer is ALWAYS wrong), and had me in tears more times than I care to remember. I almost quit several times because of her, and every time I saw her I could feel my whole body change; my pulse would quicken, my brow would bead with perspiration, my skin would go cold and clammy. She was, without a doubt, one of the most unpleasant people I have ever had to be around.
So why does this matter now? Why, after probably five years does this woman from my past continue to haunt me? Because she now works at a store in our mall that I have been frequenting recently. And she works a lot, so I see her almost every time I go in there. The first time I saw her, I nearly passed out; I wasn't expecting her to be there and I could feel myself instantly transported back to the summer I worked with her. I suddenly felt both ill and incredibly small, and I quickly exited the store at the mere sight of her.
I don't think she recognizes me when we see each other; we only worked together for a few months one summer, thank goodness, and we didn't work together all the time. I was probably just a blip on her bully radar. But to me she is terror personified.
I want to tell her off, to make her feel as badly as she made me feel, but I doubt that's even possible. And part of me knows she has probably felt some hurt in her life that has made her so cold, harsh, and cynical ... but that doesn't excuse it. And, quite frankly, her customer service skills are abrupt at best; I called her store today - praying she wouldn't answer - and, of course, she did. I knew it was her the minute she said, "Hello" - before she even got out her name. She was curt and impatient with me as I asked my simple questions and answered them as if I was a moron.
And I felt it all over again. Bullied and angry.
So I steel myself up for this woman, this woman who makes me so angry and uncomfortable. She has no bearing over my life; she never really did. But, all the same, if I don't steel myself against her abrasive character I might end up lashing out, stooping down to her ugly level to make her feel something ... anything. And anyone remotely resembling her is the last person I'd want to be.
In the end, I just wonder how I get past her, and others like her I'm sure to encounter as I move through life. I don't want her to have this place in my life; it gives her too much power, too much importance. But how do I forget and forgive?
Maybe I'll figure it out this holiday season ... Christmas is all about miracles, right?
Layered Mexican Bake
Prep: 20 min. Total: 50 min. Makes 4 servings
3/4 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped (I used a large yellow onion)
1 green pepper, chopped (I used a smaller-sized one)
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/4 cups chunky salsa (I used a mild generic brand salsa)
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen corn
3 high-fiber whole wheat tortillas (8 inch)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
3/4 cup Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided (I used mild cheddar)
Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brown meat with onions and peppers in large skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in chili powder; cook 1 min. Add salsa and corn; mix well. Simmer 5 min.
Spread 1 cup meat sauce onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch square baking dish; top with layers of 1 tortilla, 1/2 cup meat sauce, sour cream and 1/4 cup cheese. Cover with 1 tortilla, 1 cup of remaining meat sauce and 1/4 cup of remaining cheese; top with remaining tortilla and meat sauce. Cover with foil.
Bake 25 min. or until casserole is heated through. Top with remaining cheese (I just made sure it was good and covered - no measuring required); bake, uncovered, 5 min. or until melted.
They say to garnish it with chopped cilantro and green onions just before serving, but I didn't feel like getting green onions and my husband doesn't like cilantro.
Here's what it looked like:
Thursday, November 19, 2009
In order to have time to enjoy these things, I have decided that I need to start working on my shopping now. Don't get me wrong; I love shopping for other people, often more than I love shopping for myself. I love the feeling of getting others things they need or want, or never knew they always needed; the joy of giving is imbued in the season for me. But shopping for gifts, the right gifts that people will love and truly enjoy, takes time. And this year is especially difficult; we, like most others, are on a tighter budget, which makes selecting the gifts that much more important. Plus, I now have a 14 month-old to contend with, and I doubt Little B is up for a ton of long, crowded shopping sessions with a very stressed-out mom.
So, starting last week, I have been working on it ... hard. I have lists upon lists going of ideas for people that won't break our bank but that will warm their hearts. I have been bugging people for ideas of what they'd like (that's where you should always start, right?) and pouring tirelessly over websites, magazine articles, online stores, and catalogs we've gotten in the mail for ideas.
I wish I could write out all my ideas for people, but many of my readers are also my recipients so that just won't work. But, in case you're feeling the itch to buy gifts people will love-love this year, I am going to try really hard to share with you ideas I've gathered, products I've received myself, and wonderful things I've happened upon.
For ideas now, check out my label entitled "gift ideas" - I've tried to catalog good ideas in there, in case I or anyone else needed them in the future.
Best wishes and happy holidays to you all!
Now, I can't just start running; at 20 weeks pregnant it would be extraordinarily unwise to start up such a vigorous exercise regimen. If you didn't do it before you were pregnant, you can't start up now. I feel guilty if I even slightly jog to the mailbox, as if the extra exertion might somehow injure my unborn baby. So actually going for a run is out. But I feel the itch.
I've felt the itch before, too. And the pattern I'm seeing in my itches to run is something I should have figured out a long time ago. When stressed, and I mean really stressed, I get the itch to run; to flex muscles that have been bound up by tension, to take in a deep, scary breath and shake up my lungs, to make my heart beat faster, harder ...
And to literally run away from it all ... if only for a moment.
Don't get me wrong, I love my life. It's almost impossible to have a bad day when you have a son like mine; the kid is sunshine personified. I guess it's just that lately everything else has been creeping in; worries about the future and what life will be like when Paco arrives, the loneliness that so often accompanies being a stay-at-home mom, the pressing need for me to get our house in order - these thoughts and more are pressing on me.
And, just for a moment, I'd like to run.
(No, I'm not going to run away from my little family here. I could never, NEVER do that. I would never do that. My run always loops back to home.)
I didn't take any pictures last night, but I did the night before so here they are! (These were taken as Baylor explored my parents' living room and spent time with Grandpa E.)
Now that it's colder out, my parents have been turning on their fireplace more and more to heat things up a bit, and my little man has been infinitely fascinated by the whole of it. That said, we - my dad included - have explained to him repeatedly that it is HOT! and should not be touched.
Curious about the fireplace as a whole, he likes to point to aspects of it and waits for you to explain, since he seems to understand that he's not allowed to explore it himself. "These are stones. They are rough!"
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The show chronicles the lives of three families within the same family: the dad who marries a much younger woman, the son who is gay and has an adopted daughter, and the daughter who is married with three kids. It is hilarious! The interactions that go on amongst all these people are perfect little glimpses into modern family life, if a bit exaggerated for comedic effect. They have touched on topics like the wonder that is Costco, bullying, teenage boyfriends, and many other issues, both trivial and not, that affect people today.
I highly recommend this show. Watch it tonight with your family ... I dare you not to laugh!
Simple & Creamy Tortellini Alfredo
Prep: 5 min. Total: 30 min.
1 can (14.5 oz) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 pkg. (9 oz each) refrigerated cheese tortellini*
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cubed
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup Kraft Finely Shredded Italian Five Cheese Blend
6 slices Oscar Mayer Bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
Pour broth and water into large sauce pan; stir. Bring to boil on medium-high heat. Add tortellini. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer 8 to 9 min. or until tortellini is tender. (Do not drain.)
Add cream cheese and peas; stir. Heat 2 or 3 min. or until cream cheese is completely melted, stirring occasionally.
Stir in shredded cheese and bacon.
Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.
* I used frozen tortellini and cooked it ahead of time for half the amount of time it called for, cooking it the rest of the way as if it were the refrigerated tortellini the recipe calls for.
Now, one thing about this recipe is that the sauce is a smidge on the runny side. I didn't mind it so much, but my husband thought it could be thicker. Next time I might take his suggestion and leave out the cup of water and see what happens. Or I could add more cream cheese. I also think I might sprinkle in the cheese more slowly (instead of dumping it all in at once) as there tended to be clumps of cheese here and there.
Also, I don't personally like bacon so I left it out of my portion. The bacon, however, was how I got my husband to eat this as he generally hates peas and dislikes tortellini most of the time. He still liked it and thought I should make it again.
This is a really good and kind of unusual dish. I highly recommend it!
Oh, and I got it from the Kraft Food and Family Magazine, but I couldn't find it on their site so I don't quite know what is up with that. Anyhow, enjoy!
In all honesty, I started writing this blog for two reasons: to have an outlet and to make a little money. I have succeeded in the first goal times ten; in the second goal I have failed completely. The second goal didn't mean as much to me, though, so I'm not too worried.
A third purpose for this blog came about unexpectedly, and I can't tell you how excited I am about it. Somewhere along the way, this blog also became a way for me to keep in touch with people I love who live far away. This includes my grandparents! My grandparents (Hi, Chuck and Betty! I miss you!) who live over an hour away but with whom I am so excited to share all the ups and downs of life. I never thought I'd see my grandparents actively using the computer, but they do now and part of the reason is to see what I've posted. And for that alone I am humbled and yet so proud.
Whatever the reasons I started it, and whatever reasons I picked up along the way, I hope you all have enjoyed this first year as much as I have. I'm looking forward to many more years of blogging and sharing my life with you all, friends, family, and relative strangers alike.
Have a wonderful, beautiful day!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
My point is: where do these socks go?
I had an idea while I was loading the washer just a few moments ago. What if you put all your socks into a lingerie bag and then into the wash? Has anyone ever tried this? Is this too neurotic for words ... or genius?
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Isn't it the most perfect little tweed creation you've ever seen?! I already used it - big surprise there - and it worked very well as a small diaper bag/purse. I was able to squeeze two diapers, a disposable changing pad, wipes, Little B's toy cell phone, my wallet, our assorted health and beauty accessories, and several packs of Puffs Plus in there! Amazing, huh? I probably could have fit more, but I didn't want to stretch out my new purse on its first outing.
It seems like he did something else momentous, but my pregnant brain is keeping me from remembering all the super cool new stuff he does everyday. I feel like it all happens so quickly I don't have time to write it down before it leaves me forgetful brain. Anyhow, even though he is sick (and it seems his cold has moved into his chest - not good) he is still so happy and so very busy!
Saturday, November 14, 2009
The instructions for the pan said to spray it well with non-stick cooking spray, so I sprayed the pan then stepped outside to spray the divider grid, making sure to get every nook and cranny. After mixing up the batter, I poured it into the 9" by 9" pan, sans grid. The divider grid went in a little tough because there are chocolate chips in the batter, but with a little wiggling it slid in and seemed to be ready to go.
About 36 minutes later, I pulled out one of the most delicious looking pans of pre-cut brownies you could ever imagine.
Because I'm pretty sure the divider doesn't extend perfectly to the bottom of the tray, I had to use a spatula to coax the brownies off the tray, but all in all it was blissfully easy. Usually my brownies are a mangled mess after I extract them from the pan, and half of them end up stuck to the knife.
Sheer perfection! And they tasted great, too! My only caveat is that the grid was a bit of a pain to clean up, but if that's the only problem I'll take it!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
So yeah, he's sick. But he's not letting it get him down, which I truly admire about him. I can tell, just by listening to the monitor, though, that sleeping - naps or at night - is going to be a struggle unless we can get that congestion under control. Any advice?
Remember to smile!
In honor of Veterans Day, Little B wore camouflage pants all day and we talked about the people who defend our country. He didn't seem to understand, but someday he will I'm sure.
The day's events were much more bland and mundane than I'd hoped, but sometimes that's just the way the ball bounces. We first had to go to the car dealership to get my oil changed. At $14.99 the oil changes are very popular, so we had to wait for an hour. But, true to form, my little man was patient and happy with his surroundings.
He asked to turn on and off the lights numerous times, and pleaded to play with the thermostat, but I explained to him that the dealership wouldn't want us to. He eventually seemed okay with that.
One of the other ladies in the room, offered him this little McDonald's age 1 to 3 toy since he was being so good. It was still in the packaging, so we happily accepted and he had a blast playing with that for the remainder of our time there.
Clapping for himself at a job well done!
Oh, time to stand on his head a little.