Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: The Paris Wife (Paula McLain)

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Description from amazon.com: Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Going into this book, I knew very little about Ernest Hemingway, so I really can't vouch for the authenticity of any of the events described, but I did enjoy the book overall. I do have to admit, I was much more into the book at the beginning, it kind of started to lose some steam for me by the middle.  While I was rooting for Hadley, she did annoy me in parts of the book....that could be due to the character herself, or the fact that the way she was portrayed was maybe an accurate depiction of the way things were then...I'm not sure.  I found myself swept away in the book completely when it was discussing their courtship and the beginning of their marriage, I was flying through the pages (or whatever they're called on a kindle!).  The second half of the book was not bad, by any means, but I enjoyed the first part more....but it's still a book I'd recommend!

Up next: All That is Bitter and Sweet (Ashley Judd)

Checks & balances

You might have gathered from some of my previous posts that I love a good to-do list.  And while I definitely have a decent sized to-do list for the upcoming holiday season, I've also made a vow to myself that I'm not going to drive myself crazy with it.  I think it's so easy to get caught up in trying to get everything done, and have everything be perfect that you lose sight of what the holiday season really means.  And to me, the season means being able to spend that time with friends and family, introducing the kids to the magic of the season, and being thankful for all that we have. 

I already have the house decorated (and Jake "helped" me this year and had a blast) so that was a huge check off the list.  Shopping is totally done for Jake, and Liam will be getting a toy box so I just need to find one to order.  Other shopping is about 50% done.  Last year, Brian and I made a night out of wrapping while watching "Elf" so I think that's something we'll make a tradition...we had a good time, and wrapping is so much easier when there are two people involved! 

Photos for photo card were taken last weekend, photo cards created and ordered, just waiting for them to be delivered.  My address list is updated and ready to go, I'll probably address the cards on my lunch break one day.

We need to get a tree, and that will probably be done and decorated next weekend.  I hate baking, but I was invited to do a cookie exchange this year...I'll probably make things easy on myself and just buy the cookies.  We'll take the kids to see Santa of course, Jake has already been asking when we're going to do that.  My house is in desperate need of a deep cleaning...since I'm hosting Christmas again, I'm thinking of outsourcing that task.  My mother-in-law was nice enough to give me money for Christmas last year to be used toward house cleaning that I never used.  She's going to be mad if I don't use it for that purpose :)  So I figure this will be a good time to put some of it toward that. 

I'll need to grocery shop for Christmas dinner, but other than that...those are really the only things I HAVE to do.  I'm concentrating on those things, and those things only...anything else that gets done will be considered a bonus.  I'm sticking to that vow and making this month about spending time with my family, rather than running around stressed out about the whole season. 

What do YOU do to make sure you stick with the spirit of the holiday season, whatever that may mean to you?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

One man comedy show

While doing laundry one day, I bent over and my pants must have come down a bit in the back (I have a tattoo on my lower back on the right side); Jake said, "Mommy!  Who gave you that stamper?  It's very nice, you must have had a good day!" (they get stamps sometimes at school if they have a good day)

When talking about Christmas/Santa recently, he confirmed with me that the reindeer live at the North Pole.  Then he asked where the elves live, and I told him they live at the North Pole, too.  Then we had this conversation:
Jake: Oh.  Ok.  That's good that they live there because they have to sell the toys, right?
Me: You mean make the toys?  the elves make the toys at the North Pole.
Jake: No, they sell them.
Me: um...who do they sell them to?
Jake (in his "duh" tone): They sell them to Toys R Us, mommy!

He'll probably be embarrassed later in life that I shared this one, but oh well.   Brian was doing the Jillian Michaels 30 day shred at home the other day and while Jake was watching him, he made this observation: "Daddy...we don't have the bouncies.  The ladies on the TV have the bouncies.  Only girls have bouncies, right?"
I was not in the room at the time, so poor daddy was totally unprepared in that moment to have any type of body part conversation with his 3.5 year old and just made some type of strange noise of acknowledgment then quickly changed the subject :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I had a hot date.

And it wasn't with Brian.  I'll give you a few hints...it involved a handsome little man who has blonde hair, brown eyes, and is about 3 feet tall.  If you guessed Jake, you're correct. (and if you guessed anyone else, I'm disturbed to know who)

I've been wanting to have a day out with Jake, just the two of us, for awhile now.  Last Friday was Light Up Night in Pittsburgh and since I try to avoid that event like the plague, it seemed like a good idea to play hooky from work and take Jake out by himself for the day.  Our day was going to start out with the breakfast buffet at Eat n Park (YUM) followed by the Carnegie Science Center.

As we were loading up the car to leave, I reminded him that our first stop was going to be daycare so that we could drop Liam off...Jake apparently missed the memo of it being a day of fun to ourselves, because he got sad and said he wanted Liam to come with us.  I told him that we were doing stuff that Liam was too little to do, and Jake replied, "But mommy---he's growing so much everyday!"  Where does he get this stuff?? 

I finally convinced him to leave Liam at school, and we were off to the buffet!  The highlight of breakfast for Jake was the discovery of "rainbow Cheerios" (translation: Fruit Loops)  The kid has never really had sugary cereal before, so you can imagine his reaction to the bowl of sweet goodness in front of him.  Don't worry, the server will still bring your kid a free smiley cookie, even for breakfast!

We got to the Science Center right when it opened; it was our first time there and I have mixed feelings.  We had a good time, don't get me wrong...but for the price, I don't think it's somewhere we'll frequent until he's older and can take advantage of more things.  A lot of the stuff was geared toward older kids, but we did spend a good amount of time on the top floor where they had water play, construction stuff, and some lizards to pet.

I present to you, the next Demetrius Ivory

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Happy 1/2 year!

It's hard to believe that Liam has gone from this...

to this....

in just 6 months.

I shouldn't be surprised at how quickly the time goes since this is my second time around, but it never ceases to amaze me.  He's really starting to develop such a little personality; he's such a happy little guy and his giggles are contagious.  

He doesn't sit up unassisted yet, but if you kind of put him in place using his little arm as a kickstand, he can prop himself up for a few seconds.  I sense that his love affair with the bouncy seat is coming to an end, as his interest in it lasts for only a few seconds at this point.  He is much more of a fan of sitting upright these days, so he's really been enjoying the exersaucer, jumperoo and bumbo.

We don't go for his check up until the first week of December (somehow we fell behind on these visits), but my at home estimate using our scale the other day put him at around 16 lbs.

He's still struggling with the reflux, despite the fact that we started him on solids a month ago.  Unfortunately, the quantity of the spit up remains the same, the consistency of the spit up is the only difference.  It also started bothering him again last week, he was doing his usual symptoms of needing to increase the dose (which is why I weighed him at home) so I called the office late last week, he had definitely outgrown the previous dose.  We increased it right away, hopefully we'll see some results soon. 

So even though the food isn't helping his reflux, he looooooooves it.  His little feet start kicking a million miles a minute and we can't ever spoon it in fast enough!  So far, he's had carrots, peas, squash, applesauce, bananas, pears and peaches.

Happy 6 months, my little man!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Laughing Liam

Liam, showing off his adorable giggles...brought on by the person who can make him laugh the most, his big brother :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and Genuine Lies

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

From amazon: Steel Magnolias meets The Help in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom.  Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell. In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer. 

It probably sounds cheesy, but I would best describe this book was "heartwarming".  Seriously. It was a good balance of a sad story, mixed with funny, light-hearted moments that made you love the characters.  Definitely worth the read!

 Genuine Lies by Nora Roberts

 This was the first book I've read by this author, and overall I enjoyed it.  I would categorize it as romance/mystery (if that's a real book category) and the mystery aspect of it kept me guessing the whole time.  There were some parts that seemed to drag on, and the author was a bit wordy for my taste at times...I found myself kind of skimming a lot of parts.  But other than that, it was good & I would read more by the same author.  

Side note-this book was written in 1991, so I was entertained a lot of the time by the description of the "high fashion" of the time, the lack of airport security, and the fact that people still had to rely on letters and home phones as their main way of communicating.  

I would also like to note that I was able to read both of these courtesy of my library for FREE on my kindle!!  YAY for the new library sharing feature!!

Up next: The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain 

Go Gracie, it's your birthday!

You're gonna eat apples & peanut butter like it's your birthday....

Peanut butter is difficult to get out of a dog beard, just an FYI.
Gracie's birthday was last Saturday & we celebrated with her favorite special treat.  Hard to believe my baby girl is 7 years old!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stay away from my kids!

I'm looking at you when I say that, stomach flu virus.  ICK.  Last Monday, Jake was sent home from daycare (along with a handful of other kids) with the stomach flu.  I stayed home with him on Tuesday (and spend his afternoon nap time sanitizing the house, washing sheets & towels, etc...trying to keep it from spreading). 

Fast forward to Saturday, Jake was in better spirits, but Liam didn't seem like himself as much.  Brian was out of town on a man weekend with his dad to fish (he picked a great weekend to not be home, right?), but fortunately, my mom was at my house helping out with the boys.  We noticed that Liam seemed clingier & fussy, although I was initially chalking it up to the tooth that is trying to poke through.  But, by mid afternoon it became obvious that he had also come down with the flu.  I will spare you the nasty details, but let's just say there was a LOT of clean up involved.  Ourselves, his clothes, my floors, towels, sheets...the list goes on & on.  He was up a few times throughout the night and was just a mess in general.

A big shout-out to my mom for being there to help---I would have lost my mind (more so than I was already doing-on Sunday, I declared I was ready to go back to work, which I never say!!) had she not been there.  Thanks, GG!!!

Fortunately, Sunday seemed to be a bit better (aside from the fact that there was so much laundry, my laundry chute actually jammed at one point).  Liam took a nice long nap on my mom in the morning (after barely napping at all the day before), which gave Jake & I a chance to make some FunFetti cupcakes. 

The best part of FunFetti cupcakes?  The fact that there is always extra icing left in the end...but don't tell Jake that, I hid it in the back of the fridge for my own guilty indulgence :) 

So, hopefully no one else is affected by this bug!  On a lighter note, here are the kiddos on a healthier day being their cute & goofy selves:

Happy Monday, everyone!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My 1st and last experience with squash.

Remember my post last week, raving about how easy it is to make baby food?  Yeah, I hadn't ventured into squash yet.  I made a lot of Jake's baby food, but never tried squash for him, he just got good old jars.  I figured I'd give it a shot this time around, because my father-in-law gave me 2 squashes (squashi?  squashes? just squash like deer?  what is the plural?) out of his garden, and then Aldi had them for .97 each, so I figured why not?  (3 of 4 featured here, I had 1 butternut & 3 acorn)

Let me tell you why not...first, I nearly severed a piece of my finger trying to cut them in half.  It was like trying to saw through a boulder.  Once I did manage to cut through them, I was faced with nasty piles of guts and seeds.  I am seriously repulsed by those types of things (which is why I have successfully avoided pumpkin carving every year).  The initial scoop of guts & seeds wasn't bad, but I had to do a lot of digging/scraping to get all of the strings out.  GAG.

THEN, after I baked them for almost an hour, I had to peel off the skin and remove all of the "meat" to blend up.  Again, it was just really gross to me.  And not an easy task, that skin is stubborn. 

 It at least got easier once I got the meat out, it was just business as usual...tossing it in the food processor and pushing a button.

So, the 4 squash(es)(i) cost me a total of about $2 since 2 of them were free and I got about 32 ounces of baby food out of them.  Had I bought those in a jar, it would have cost me closer to $7 or $8 for that amount.  Hopefully this is the only squash he'll ever need while eating purees, since it did make quite a bit...because that will be the last time he gets a homemade batch!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The countdown is ON.

Only 3 more weeks until Black Friday, I'm currently in training.   

Are you ready?? 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Now that we're doing solids with Liam, it was time to blow the dust off of the food processor and fire that thing back up!  I made a bunch of Jake's food when he was a baby, and it was so easy that I had no hesitation in doing it again.  So far, we've made peas, carrots, peaches, bananas and pears.  (and so far, he's loved all of that food)  Here is a quick picture tutorial, just in case you're curious about making your own food.

Cook the veggies as you normally would:

Catch the water when you drain the veggies to use for thinning the food out once it's in the processor (the water has some of the nutrients that are lost in the cooking process).  I find it's easiest to just put a mixing bowl with a pouring spout directly under the strainer:

Put peas into processor, add water as necessary...blend it up!

Once you have the right consistency, spoon the food into ice cube trays (each cube is about an ounce), cover with saran wrap and freeze:

Pop the frozen cubes out of trays, place into ziploc bags for freezer storage:

So simple!!  And so cost effective---the bag of peas was $1.06, and I got 22 oz of food out of it.  Earth's Best baby food runs around .60/jar for stage 1 baby food (2.5 oz), so 22 oz of jarred baby food would run me about $5.40.  That's a savings of $4.34 for less than 10 minutes of work.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Nate & Katie's Wedding: Video Preview

I still need to get a full post up about the wedding, but I'll give you a little preview, via some videos....

Unfortunately, I didn't get my camera on in time to get the full effect of this garter removal.  But let me just tell you, if you know my brother at all, you would have been amazed by it.  Nate is generally very quiet, so when he busted out some choreographed moves while removing the garter, jaws were dropping all over the reception.  It was awesome.

Speaking of sweet moves, I'm not sure where Jake & Ben picked up theirs, but they had a great time.  We practically had to drag them off of the dance floor whenever they needed to use it for the more formal dances.

Meet Jake!

Happy Halloween!!

We had an early Halloween celebration on Friday, which was 1 of 2 parties for Jake at school (they had one on Halloween as well).  He didn't get to wear his costume to the one on Friday, but parents were invited and we were to make a silly hat to wear that day.  (guess who totally forgot about the hat making until the last minute and was then up at 9pm the night before with a glue gun and some foam visors??)

my fabulous face painting job

Monday was the school party AND trick or treat, so it was a big day for the kids. 

Our neighborhood has a parade for the kids right before trick or treat starts, which was really cute.  (you might notice in the pictures below that Liam is in a different costume than what is pictured above--the zebra was a total man down after being spit up on, so we had to switch to this lion, which he was not really happy about).

Jake & our neighbor, Amelia

Liam and I headed back home to pass out candy after the parade, while Brian took Jake around the neighborhood, along with another little girl who lives down the street.  Unfortunately, it was raining, but they still had a great time and made it out for a little over an hour.

Happy Halloween!!
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