Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fragmented

That's my state of mind. So this might not be the best time to write but I've been ghastly at keeping in touch with my fellow blog writers these days so not sure who's paying attention anyway. Just a little warning, this will be extremely fragmented but I have a free hour and feel the need to wrap up this month in some way because it is after all, the 29th!

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Today Sam turned 17mo old, and his toddler bed arrived. He will spend his first night in the toddler bed. Oh the celebrations we had getting in and out of bed and reading first book on bed. I demanded husband get the safety gate out of the garage, you know the one that keeps them safely tucked in like they are still in a crib because I literally cannot sleep thinking he will roll out, even though it's only a one foot drop. Husband disagrees and thinks the boy needs to just learn to stay in bed. I win.

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I'm 25 weeks pregnant tomorrow. In my doctor's appt. yesterday I learned that I've gained 9lbs in 7 weeks. See, that's what holiday's and only the occasionally pre-natal yoga class will do for you! This coming from a women who in prior pregnancies walked 3 miles a day and gained a modest 25lbs per pregnancy. What has happened?

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Today I said goodbye to a dear friend at work who's moving on to something better so I really can't be too sad, I'm just sad she won't be there every day to talk to. Now I'm stuck with three rowdy guys, oh wait, I know there is a silver lining here somewhere? I'm joking, honestly they are all great guys, I just miss having a girl friend around every day.

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I made lasagna tonight. Why do I continue to trick myself into thinking I can do it like really fast, in 30 minutes. I'd like to establish right now that it takes a full hour to assemble, and that's even with pre-made sauce and pre-cooked sausage and pre-cut onions. One.Full.Hour. So when coming home from work at 6 and already hungry, just remember, it takes one hour to assemble and 45 minutes to cook so you will be eating at 7:45 - but it will be so worth it.
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I've given up on grocery shopping. Even without the kids I come home exhausted. So now I will make elaborate lists for husband, with contingency notes like "cottage cheese must be Breakstone's 4% small curd or put it back and don't even think about substituting store brand"! I just have to be very detailed and I'll get accurate results.

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Back to the baby update, nothing to report except that I missed a spinal something test. No one called me to say I needed it and now it's too late. Oh yeah, and I need to call the perinatal center back for a follow up ultrasound in two weeks because my doctor told me to. By then I'll be 27 weeks, a good time to get caught up on babies weight and development.

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I had a freak accident at work when I tried rebuilding my Mac Entourage email program and accidentally moved everything to my desktop and off the company server. Mind you I've worked with Mac's for 11 years and have done this like once a year and never had a problem. Soooo, in the process of tech guy moving everything back to the server, I randomly lost phone contacts and appointments. It's been a strange week of discovering who's missing in the phone and what appointments I need to show up for. My husband's been saying for years that we need to have a paper back-up of all our contacts and I scoffed, but honey, they are backed up at the trusty work SERVER!!! Well, he wins this round.
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So I guess we are 1/1 and at least he gets lasagna for dinner. A well deserved meal for putting Sam's bed together and washing the dog all in one night.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome to the last week of Welcome Mommy Wednesday for 2011. Today's prompts are:

1. Highlight your best post of 2011!

2. Name the most important thing you've accomplished in 2011.

3. Name the one thing you are thrilled to leave behind in 2011.

-------------------------

Things I'm thrilled to leave behind in 2011:

1. Small Jewels - our daughter is obsessed with small jewels and it drives us crazy because she constantly drops them in the lawn or house. We really hope she drops this obsession!

2. Pregnancy - okay I can leave half of it behind! Now up to 24 weeks.

3. Baking - well at least the cookies part, husband has declared I'm on my own if I bake any more cookies.

4. Clutter - oh how I long to have a clutter free home! Someone please visit and take whatever you fancy (except the Christmas gifts of course).

Only four things? Well that's all I can think of right now! Looking forward to catching up with everyone this week, please link below.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day for the workoholic

I LOVE this day!

At first I was kinda dreading it. Of an office with 9, only 2 are present today and I'm one them. What? I have to go to work with just one other person? My entire client base AND Hong Kong office is on vacation. Come on!!!

But I have never felt so productive! No distractions, I can choose silence or blasting my favorite music. Lunch at my desk. Quick jaunt out to get new tires on my car, back in 15 minutes. This is turning out to be a really cool day!

Maybe the quiet time is cathartic after a weekend of squealing, hyper kids maxed out on sugar? Yes, that's what it is. Quiet time. I love this!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I really feel for single mom's

On Friday's and Saturday's I get a little taste of what it might be like to be a single mom. Husband works these two days in retail. Over the month of December he works extended hours which means leaving on Friday from 2-12am and then 7am-5pm on Saturday. This means I do all his night time chores along with getting the kids to bed by myself and up again on Saturday. It's alot of work!!!

Last night they had hot dogs for dinner, anything more elaborate would likely create tons of mayhem and I've learned to not make any noise while they nap so I can't get an early start.

I got Sam to bed first at 8pm because if I do them both together, Charlotte does things she does not do when both parents are present such as talking excessively, banging feet and keeping Sam awake. So she gets to sit on the couch and watch "Shaun the Sheep" while I get Sam to sleep. Then she wants a bath, which is actually fine because putting them both in the bath together by myself has become a series of difficult steps I'm no longer willing to do while pregnant - think dragging almost 30lb wet boy in and out of tub and monitoring water battles. So we do Charlotte's bath solo, put her in pajamas which she promptly covers in toothpaste, change pajamas and get her to bed by 9:15! Ah, so much for an evening to myself.

Finish dishes, let dog out, feed cats, read for 15 minutes and sleep.

Saturday morning husband wakes me to say goodbye at 7am, I must have forgotten to set alarm because I meant to wake up and make his coffee. Get up, load laundry, walk dog and take out trash. Come back get shower and get kids up. By 8am Sam has bit Charlotte on the head before I can manage to get breakfast out.

9:13 - both are fed but I can't find Charlotte's shoes - the only pair she will wear and Sam is creating more havoc! So I'm signing off to find shoes and get these kids OUTSIDE TO PLAY!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Charlotte

I came home from work tonight to find my little girl watching "A Christmas Carol". Her brother bounced off me a few times and bounded around the room while husband made dinner. Charlotte was quiet. I marveled at her attention span for such a serious movie. As dinner was served, I realized she had a fever so husband took her to the bedroom for some medicine and temperature while I served Sam a grand dish of bean and ham soup. We finish and he's taken to bed by dad while I resume the movie with Charlotte. We let her stay up late and she gets to eat blackberries for dinner. By movies end she's feeling better. I guess an extra hour up with mom and dad with special treatment will do that because she assured me she was all better. Lots of "I love you's" hugs and kisses. Some days my little girl can be so sweet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Dig Deeper

Jill would be 30 this year, if she had not died from a drug overdose 2 years ago today. I found out about her death a year after it happened, because I was an absent friend.

Jill's death changed me in a profound way. I learned to dig deeper into the lives of those actively participating within my orbit. In this past year I've tried to push beyond my quiet introverted self to be more involved in my friends lives and I can honestly say I'm a happier person.

Phone calls, text messages, Facebook, in person get-together with girl friends from high school - all priceless moments in this year.

In addition, I've tried to reach into my blog community for those in need or just looking for encouragement. I hope I've made an impact in your lives, you certainly have in mine.

I'm still a work in progress as I learn to dig deeper. I hope to never again go a year without calling a friend back.

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome to another week of Working Mommy Wednesday! This week's topics are:

1. What "Christmas activity" did you over commit to this year?
2. Do you find yourself more organized at work or at home?

#1
I find it so easy to over-commit during the Christmas season, but the momentum is built in the prior months. First we have Halloween and Pumpkin patches in October, then Thanksgiving in November and finally Christmas! It's three months of changing decorations, seasonal movies, non-stopping planning of activities and baking!

I have noticed Twitter is blazing with blog posts full of advise on how to not over-do it this season. My personal favorite was written by a dear bloggy friend, The Poorganic Life, who advises to not be a "Charity Slut" this year. It's particularly funny because I know this person already gives far more to charity then the average bird so for her to write this was hilarious.

So where did I over do it this year?

Baking.

I have lost track on how many pumpkins I've cooked and pureed. Well over 10, the last tragic act was dumping an entire pan of pumpkin muffins upside down into the oven. Wouldn't you know it was the last pumpkin available to me of the season! How will I go on?

I have baked 11.5 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 10.5 dozen peanut butter cookies, 4-5 dozen muffins, 1 sheet of tiger butter, 2 sheets of Christmas bark, 1 banana bread and 1/2 dozen of apple/cherry turnovers which may be the best thing I've ever made!

I'm done.

I have shipped out packages to 8 friends and family and I'm incredibly sorry if you were not included on the list. Honestly I had planned on sending more but I ran out of time and energy and I think my husband might be tired of cleaning up after me, or at least of cleaning up after the entire house I've ignored. My kids might also be a little tired of the intense attention my kitchen has received and my bills are lagging.

So I bid you goodbye dear kitchen. I must return to a normal life!

I'm looking forward to your stories. Please link up below and I'll be sure and stop by your bloggy pad later this week.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Random Tuesday



Hi random Tuesday, I've been absent for a few weeks. Sorry about that. I've been baking cookies for two weekends straight and working with a few bloggy friends on some exciting projects.

Oh did you notice the Fall boarder is STILL UP? Yeah, I've been THAT busy! Oh well, at least the colors are pretty and calming. I promise to put winter up before January hits.

Christmas season with the kids has been fun. We put our tree up on a trunk (like Stacy), great minds think alike! It keeps the ornaments out of kids way. Another friend put a gate around their tree. I love how innovative parents have to be to keep kids away from ornaments!

Random image of sibling love


Have a great Tuesday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My little girl takes care of me

When my kids are accommodating I will pack in as much as possible. Today began with us leaving the house by 9:35am, a record with two small ones under four. We started at Old Time Pottery where I bought six tins for $1.22 each - is that phenomenal or what! Charlotte enjoyed ooohing and ahhing over all the Christmas decorations.

We moved onto our church thrift store where the kids ran wild as I tried to check prices on bunk beds and realized that Charlotte is afraid of heights, maybe we won't be going this route after all.

Third stop, Costco - on a Saturday. Packed store at 11:30 with hungry kids. My imagination says we can be in and out in 30 minutes. Reality is 1.5 hours! Well we did stop at every food station, Charlotte and Sam have become little foodies, wanting to try everything! Even fish spread on crackers! If I tried half this stuff at home it would be soundly rejected. But the allure of Costco vendors is impossible to resist. There is Christmas bark, brownies, brie with hot pepper raspberry sauce on crackers, Pillsbury crescents with spinach dip inside, roasted deli chicken on a toothpick, special juices and on and on. Oh the wonders of Costco! Thankfully I have the sense to know they will not eat these things at home so I stay on budget. Somehow we manage to weave through the masses and collect our goods. Stopping briefly so Charlotte can play a piano and play inside a kids kitchen that is a stunning replica of a real kitchen! We finally make our way to the front and stop for pizza and hotdogs before leaving.

Home by 2, Sam in crib by 2:30 - is it any wonder I was completely exhausted in my 22nd week of pregnancy. I put a movie on for Charlotte and laid down for 10 minutes to rest my eyes. She came in after 10 minutes, removed my socks and covered me with a blanket. All the while telling me to stay asleep. It was so cute. She took "care" of me! She came back in 30 minutes and told me I needed to keep sleeping. So I did! I must have really needed it.

These things are impossible to plan, these little moments in life just happen unexpectedly and yet so perfectly.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Adventures in Baking!

Year 2 of marathon baking cookies, candy and muffins for friends and family as gifts. I've got a few tips to share after baking 11.5 dozen cookies, 2 dozen muffins and 1 sheet of candy (so far).

Christmas Tins:
* Before Black Friday, Big Lots had an entire aisle of tins $3.00 each!
* Old Time Pottery has same priced tins at this time, I'm going out for 6 more this weekend with a 15% off coupon.

Ingredients:
* Buy bulk at Costco, my happiest day was finding a giant bottle of vanilla at Costco for the same price as one 1/4 of it's size in the regular grocery store.
* Don't use specialty ingredients on Friends and Family. Just go with good old white flour, even if your little family is on board with white wheat or regular wheat, snacks just taste better with white flour.

Timing:
* Don't assume your three year old has any interest in helping except to eat the batter and beg for more. She will say "but I HAVE to eat more!" Such drama!
* Just do everything after they go to bed! Or while another adult is supervising, although even a barrier in front of the kitchen will not stop the most determined child from getting through and seeing what his mama is up to.

Equipment:
* Buy a cookie scoop, it will change your life! No more sticky fingers scraping cookie dough from a spoon. AND your cookies will finally come out in the quantity the recipe states! Seriously I don't know how I lived before the cookie scoop!

Know when to quit:
* I just had to do that last pan of muffins at 9:45pm! I forgot the sugar topping and not seeing a pot holder nearby, reached in to pull the pans out bare handed! It worked for the 1st pan but the second was hotter and I dropped it! Upside down into the oven!!! Requiring us to turn off oven and spend a half hour cleaning!!! Pumpkin muffins that I had just lovingly pureed that morning and let drain all day just for this purpose! I was devastated to say the least.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

2011 Christmas Card!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Working Mommy Wednesday

Hi Ladies, welcome back to another week of Working Mommy Wednesday. I'm sure you are all busy with getting ready for the holiday's, I sure am! Here are the posts for this week:

1. Every January we get the question, what are your New Year's Resolutions. Well before that hits, let's take a minute to reflect on the goals we had for this year and what was a success or non-success! This can be work or home related.

2. What toys (gifts) are on your hot list for the kids?

TOYS
Oooh what's the toy designer going to get for her kids??? I know you are breathless to find out. Actually my attitude towards toys and my kids is surprisingly casual. I like to watch their interest in a particular subject and then encourage that activity. A few examples:

Sam - is into lots of noise, he's loves maraca's and drums so I settled on the First Act Disney Acoustic guitar for $18.88 at Walmart. He also loves balloons so I might just fill a box with balloons for him. Can you imagine, a big wrapped box filled with balloons for a 1 year old???

Charlotte - got a matching guitar because if she see's Sam with one she will be green with envy and they do a really pretty one for girls. However, she's proving a little more challenging to shop for because she changes her mind every day on what is cool. Tonight before bed, she asked for a purple present for Christmas. That could be anything! Recently at Target she fell in love with some red sparkly shoes so I'll probably go back and get those. And she loves her shirts covered in sparkly things so I thought a bedazzler might be a good idea but husband totally nixed the idea - I think it's because he doesn't want to be caught doing the bedazzling. She loves Squinkies but we had to ban them because Sam kept putting them in his mouth. She believes her collection is resting safe in Texas with Mema, she said so tonight, six months after visiting Texas. Good memory little girl!

That's my list so far! I'm looking forward to your posts. Link up below and I'll stop by your bloggy pad some time this week!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome back to Working Mommy Wednesday! We took last week off to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope everyone had a truly restful weekend. Our prompts for this week are:
  1. So, did you get sucked into the excitement and drama of Black Friday? If so, what deals did you snag?? And for our international gal, has our shopping madness spread to your area?
  2. Four day weekends are nice but the transition back to work can be challenging! How are you doing with the transition?

BLACK FRIDAY

I was so determined to not get sucked into the consumer madness this year. I had plans for baked gifts and photo books for friends and family. I wanted a day off from consumerism.

Black Friday husband says to me, I'll keep Charlotte home if you want to run out and get a few things. Oh really? Now that's a game changer. If you've ever shopped with a three year old you may agree, they do not make good shoppers. Mine has gotten to the point that she'll say to me "mommy I'll stay in the van and watch another movie on your iPhone while you run in the store". I'm like sweetie, that's illegal, you HAVE to come into the store. Which of course she doesn't understand so I spend 5 minutes trying to negotiate going into the store as a "family". Suffice it to say, she's tricky to shop with. So after considering my options, stay home on principle? Or shop with surly threeager on the weekend while husband works? I think I'll just pop into a few shops and get a few things.

So there you have it, I'm a hypocrite and I will never disparage black Friday ever again!

I got the kids Christmas clothes at Khol's for $23.95. I got a bag full of tins at Big Lots for $15.00, husband's birthday present for $6.95 and a free 8x10 photo at Walgreens in 2 hours. Those deals were good!! I get it! It's a shopping day that works if stick to a strict budget/game plan.

I look forward to hearing your stories. Link up below and I'll stop by your bloggy corner this week.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

To be truly victorious, one must fail miserably

I've had weekends where I do everything wrong and fail miserably at parenting. I may have the right intentions for my family, like spending a morning doing the grocery list while letting the kids watch TV as I did last weekend. It resulted in angry kids, tugging and pulling at me to get away from the computer and downright surly that I was ignoring them. The store experience just got worse from there.

This weekend, probably due to the extra days of Thanksgiving, I already had my grocery list complete so when breakfast finished and first tugging started, I said, let's go to the park!

Hurray! Say's both kids as we put shoes on and clamor out the door.

We have this lovely tropical gardens/mini parrot zoo nearby for only $3.00 entry - total! I haven't been in over a year so Charlotte forgot about it. But now that Sam's walking I figured he'd enjoy the rustic paths and interesting little stone characters they place throughout the gardens. Actually he enjoyed splashing in the water pots even more but that's okay.

Sam is at the age where I love to watch kids learn. He's been walking for 2 months now and has the most adorable habits. When he approaches a steep down hill or really rough path he gets down on two hands and crab walks along. I love this age. I goes by so fast. He doesn't say much but you can see his little investigative mind taking in all the sights. Picking up nuts and rocks, studying each intently.


Charlotte has alot to say these days and she's learned a good deal since we were here last. She can now name every stone animal in the tropical jungle! She can clamor up into chairs and run so fast that she even got lost once or twice - which doesn't bother me in the least because the garden is gated in and we are the only ones here. She hops up into a chair and announces herself as "Queen Charlotte".

While the kids play, I take photos of Florida's beautiful and unique tropical plants. These photos are also for all you folks already experiencing winter! Enjoy!


We came home by 11:30, had kids lunch served before noon and Sam in bed before 1pm. Charlotte watched Beauty and the Beast and "willingly" went to bed by 1:15! Now that my friends makes me a victorious mom!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Multitude Monday - Learning to care for myself

I haven't been taking care of myself lately. I didn't realize this when my legs began to hurt last week. I have this weird achy leg syndrome that I've had since high school and it basically means my legs will occasionally hurt all over, not enough to stop walking, more of just a nagging annoying pain. I forgot that if unattended, leads directly to severe leg cramps that wake me screaming in the night for husband to fix it. Which leads to sore calves for 3-5 days afterwards and this morning hobbling to the bathroom. Which leads me to finally do something about it.

Research indicates lack of electrolytes, potassium, calcium and general lack of activity or overabundance of activity. Mental check list, I've stopped eating/drinking milk, yogurt and bananas - yep that will do it! And spent the weekend carting around 15mo who weighs 26lbs while 5mo pregnant (yes he can walk, he just missed me I guess). Again check. No wonder my calves are screaming in pain.

So I've started doing the following:
* drinking Emergen-C packets of 1,000mg of Vitamin C twice per day
* 30 minute bath twice a day to soak legs
* one smoothie per day with banana, blueberries, flax seed, honey, yogurt and soy milk (soy is only because I need to use up the soy milk MIL bought when she was here)
* Absolutely no heels for remainder of pregnancy (not that I've been wearing lately any but was favoring white wedge 3" sandals a few weeks back - hey don't hate me for still wearing sandals, it's hot down here!)

And that's about all I've had time to fit in. I'm also supposed to do morning stretches, night stretches, drink 6-8 cups of water (doing about half of that) get up every hour to walk and take at least one walk per day at lunch. I'm just not good at prioritizing my own needs. I work at an exasperatingly hectic toy company and every minute spent socializing or personal time is one minute longer in the office at the end of the day because the work has to get done when one is in charge of a department. Regardless, I still left at 6:45 and got home at 7 with only an hour to spend with the kids. Soooooooo, you see my dilemma.

Well at least I'm trying!

Last week my yoga teacher said mothers/wives need to take care of themselves because we are the pillars of our family. Our health, happiness and outlook on life is the foundation of our families happiness because they feed off our maternal energy. Happy mom, happy family. Tired achy mom, grouchy family. I owe it to my family to take care of myself! I really do. So if you see me loitering on Facebook or Twitter just give me a shout out to go drink a smoothie and take a walk.

On with the thankfulness!!!

226 - blueberry smoothies
227 - unexpected grace for a mistake made at work
228 - pantry so full of food that I can make 2 weeks of meal plans and still have food left over!
229 - safety for Sam's return to our home
230 - for weekends with the family where we have no goals, just time spent with our kids.

I hope whoever is reading will have a beautiful week with your family. It's Thanksgiving! My favorite holiday!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

LIFE - after 15mo returns (hold me)

Sam is back (my 15mo old)! After a two week trip to Texas with his Mema he has made a grand return with more energy then any of us remember. Seriously folks, go without a 15mo for two weeks and you might be tricked into thinking life is a breeze. Your three year old is content to quietly draw, watch movies and read books for hours with no shouting at anyone for control of whatever she's obsessed with. Only the occasional drama of finding a lost toy or correct Netflix cartoon. Suddenly you have time to clean and keep a house clean. Time to cook and finish 1st daughters baby book! Time to stop and plan the future with husband in a relaxed unfrazzled manor.

Then The Boy returns and ALL HELL breaks loose. Toys are strewn everywhere as far as the eye can see. Competition for toys is fierce and many battles break out. Competition for attention from dad (recipient of first day home with both kids) rages throughout the day with The Boy alternating to clinging to dad like velcro and slinging toys around with wild abandon. Refusal of naps intensifies the drama culminating in The Boy's first slap at sister! That's right, he hit his sister for the first time. He came back with major attitude! Don't worry, we don't lay any blame on TX family for this startling change. Oh no, we have past experience with 15mo attitude and we were anticipating it but still - shock and disbelief remain.

So I'm home from work. I've switched off with husband for our mid-day Friday swap. I get off at 1:30 he leaves for work at 2:00. And I wait, I wait for my children to wake from their naps and go at it full force again. I got my swat gear on and afternoon snacks planned out.

Deep breath mama. You CAN do this!

ps. photo post nap

"What? You don't want all sheets on the floor?"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Random Compliments

Monday night - I noticed our neighbor girl was wearing a beautiful skirt, she must have been going somewhere important. The next day, as we passed on the path I told her she looked awesome in that skirt. She was puzzled by my compliment. It was random but I think the best compliments are unexpected.

Tuesday - I stopped for free curly fries at Arby's. What? I'm pregnant, I can do that. The cashier referred me to the manager who never once tried to make me feel silly for coming in for free fries and nothing else. In fact, she went out of her way to smile. She looked me directly in the eye and smiled as she took my order. She smiled as she went to pick up the fries, she looked down at the receipt to catch my name that her associate had written down, and then smiled as she handed them to me and told me by name to have a nice day. I couldn't resist, I told her she had a very beautiful smile. She made my day brighter.

Random compliments and smiles at strangers are beautiful gestures that make our world a happier place.

Cranberry Orange Muffin Recipe




I lived in Pittsburgh from 1994 - 1997 and I worked in coffee shops to support myself while I going through college. One of my favorite coffee shop memories is Cranberry Orange Muffins. I've looked high and low for a replacement muffin with disappointing results. Recently I decided to make my own muffins but finding a recipe has been challenging. Not enough orange for my taste, or a recipe that looks boring. Finally I decided to just create my own recipe based off another successful one I loved over the summer.

Cranberry Orange Muffin Recipe
  • 1 cup of cranberries, diced in food processor
  • 1 Tablespoon of orange juice
  • 1 cup of White Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 cup oil (use your favorite oil or switch with melted butter)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or yogurt)
  • 1 egg
  • Turbanado sugar (for sprinkling on top of muffins)
Pre-heat oven to 400.

In medium sized bowl, mix flour, sugar and baking powder. In separate bowl, beat egg, add oil and sour cream. Combine wet, dry and cranberries in one bowl, mix only until all dry ingredients are combined.

This makes 8 regular sized muffins or 24 mini muffins. I use an ice cream scoop for regular size muffins to create an even batter per muffin cup. Once muffins are happily sitting in the muffin tin, sprinkle turbanado on top of each (also known as sugar in the raw at coffee shops).

Bake mini muffins for 12-14 minutes. Bake regular sized muffins for 22-24 minutes.

Best while hot! If you try it please let me know, I love to get feedback!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome to Working Mommy Wednesday! This week's prompts are:

Let’s talk about toys! What toys are you excited to purchase for your little ones for Christmas?

Are you excited about Thanksgiving? What plans do you have?

Thanksgiving
Five years ago (pre kids), my husband and I went to Texas for Thanksgiving and made dinner for the entire family! I think it was our last with family because we've been stuck in Florida ever since due to his job not allowing off time for Oct - Dec. This has not tempered my enthusiasm for preparing an entire Thanksgiving meal for 2 adults - well not too much.

Last year I hit my limit with turkey. I've struggled to find the smallest bird and wrestle it through all the pre-day preparations - brine soaks, etc. I've spent the entire morning of Thanksgiving tending the bird every 30 minutes and timing all other meals around this one object taking up my entire small oven. I've grown downright resentful of the turkey! The mess to clean up after dinner, family not wanting the leftovers after three days.

Last year, we got so hungry at noon we went to Whole Foods for lunch! We found they have turkey and the entire trimmings in the buffet bar! An idea formed. What if I prepare all my specialty dishes - and just buy prepared turkey from the buffet bar? Sure I'll miss the pretty bird sitting in the center of the table but with two small ones underfoot I'd rather just enjoy the day with as little stress as possible!

My Thanksgiving Menu

Breakfast:
  • Cranberry Orange Muffins
  • Chorizo Egg and cheese burritos
Lunch (which can be packed in a cooler and taken to a park or beach):
  • Cold Fettuccine with red peppers and chicken (can be pre-made)
Dinner:
  • Cornbread Sausage Stuffing - my only regret is not being able to stuff it, however, with a crock pot, I might be able to replicate the results. I make the cornbread at least one day before Thanksgiving.
  • Cranberry Sauce - from a CAN! That's for husband and only special because he loves it!
  • Plain Mashed Potatoes
  • Canned Green Beans Organic (from Whole Foods)
  • Turkey and Gravy (from Whole Foods)
  • Homemade Pumpkin pie with pumpkin puree that I've made from fresh sugar pumpkins - totally worth the effort and the puree can be made weeks in advance.
I put the most effort into the pie and stuffing. All other dishes are quick and easy to make, low stress!

I'm looking forward to your stories! Link up below and I'll be sure and visit your blog later this week.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Random Tuesday: A 3 year olds curious movie references


How often do you find yourself, as an adult, struggling to remember what movie "so and so" acted in. You find yourself saying things like, it had that guy who's bald and always acts in extreme adventure movies and his name is....... At this point a friend might helpfully chime in Jason Statham!

However, a three year old has less ways to reference her favorite movie, and a parent would do careful justice to watch all movies at least 2-3 times to catch all obscure references a 3 year old might remember and thus demand said movie by obscure title.

Key examples (as experienced just this past week):

"Mama, mama I want to watch "The Hand" movie." Huh? Honey, go ask daddy, I don't know of any movie with a hand in it. Daddy unfortunately has no visual memory of a movie predominately displaying a hand. Finally, mystery solved as we discover "Flushed Away" tucked away in an oft used DVD player and our joyful daughter demands to watch it twice in one day. Finally, we get to the scene where the little boat disappears down the falls and waves back at it's owner. Finally, my daughter shouts out with glee, THE HAND! Thus solving a cinematic mystery for her parents. Breath big sigh of relief.

Another example only requires a little background knowledge. Yesterday there was a demand for "Shrek Tinkerbell". Apparently in the Netflix offering of Dreamworks scary episodes, one titled "The Ghost of Lord Farquaad" has Tinkerbell and Shrek. A quick phone call to husband solved this one, thus an another afternoon was saved.

Sigh! The things we go through to keep our darlings happy!!!

On a totally different subject, here is a still life created by our daughter. We call it "Bear at campfire".

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Multitude Monday - Thankfulness

Last week I spent every day at home with Charlotte and husband, recovering from a cold that turned into bronchitis. I worked from home so I wouldn't fall behind on work duties, and it was lovely to do so in a home environment. While I'm thankful to be better, I'll miss being home this week as I go back to the office.

In no particular order - haven't applied make up for one week, wore yoga pants most days, had frequent snacks and meals on time without interruption to discuss random work topics, took naps when I needed to, had lunch with family every day at noon sharp, didn't shave legs for a week and had dinner every day by 6. What a great schedule! It's alot of work to get a body "office ready" plus on a schedule that accommodates family meals!!!

And with that, I'll jump right into my list of 1000 things I'm thankful for:

217 - that white blood cells work in my body and this cold is finally going away!
218 - $1.00 bag of discount oranges
219 - fresh squeezed orange juice on a Wednesday morning outside on the porch, with home made cranberry bread and tea.
220 - daughter whispering stories into my ear, randomly throughout the week.
221 - Christmas outreach programs and how they give us a chance to give compassion to total strangers in another continent.
222 - a comfortable home where I have wifi and can work in any room when necessary.
223 - a comfortable bed piled high with 4 pillows so I can breath when I have a bad cold
224 - extra time while baby boy is in Texas, to file a year's worth of paperwork that's been nagging me for months.
225 - extra time while baby boy is gone to clean every room of the house.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Charlotte's 1st Pony Ride

This one's for the grandparents, who can't get enough stores about their grandkids!

While Sam's away visiting his grandparents in Texas, we are focused on spending special time with Charlotte. I've had the idea to take her for a pony ride since she was born! There is just something special about little kids and ponies! But I wanted to make sure she was the right age to really love the idea and enjoy the experience. Some kids are scared of big animals so I really wanted the timing to be perfect.

We started the day by showing her pictures of ponies on the internet and she fell in love with the idea of seeing ponies.

She picked our her favorite Princess dress and we added the cowgirl hat!


Cowgirl hat traded for proper helmet. AWESOME! We see ponies nearby!

Here she is! My 3 year old, on the smallest pony in the field!


Mama runs around the fence to take a better shot!


Very special day with our first daughter.

Fight Indifference with Empathy

This past week the news has been saturated with stories about the Penn State sex scandal. I've read the various stories of parties involved with the usual disgust but what stood out the most in this case was indifference of those who protected the pedophile and moral decline of the Penn state students who protested and rioted the firing of the protector, Joe Pa.

Indifference - lack of difference or distinction between two or more things
My moral barometer is horrified that these students misunderstood the social and legal justice in firing a man like Joe Pa. They seemed to only care about losing a winning coach. What will become of these students who care not if a man protects a pedophile? What kind of adults will they be?

I pondered indifference for several days.
It's easy to stand in judgment of such an egregious act of indifference.

It's harder to admit the indifference in my own life. Indifference for the Facebook friend who is in such constant daily extreme back pain that I forget to pray for her healing. Indifference for the random prayer requests strangers throw out on Twitter. Indifference for the child who knocks on my door one night to ask for bread, why didn't I follow up with her the next day to make sure she was okay?

I realize these daily indiscretions pale in comparison to disregard for sexual abuse but my bigger concern is to challenge myself to more empathy for children and those who are suffering. I don't want to be the person who misses obvious clues of abuse. I don't want to be the absent minded parent trusting a potential predator. I want to be vigilant for those around me.

Vigilant - alertly watchful especially to avoid danger
Dear Lord,
I pray for an empathic heart towards children you have placed in my life and those who are suffering. Increase my capacity to love and care for these dear ones. Give me the wisdom to know when to stand up for those in need.
In your name, Amen

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Working Mother - finding balance

In a typical week, as I wrote about on Oct. 25th, my children see me rushing to get ready for work in the mornings. I stop to eat breakfast with the family, finish my make up and then I'm off to work until 6 or 7. I get home just in time for the one or two hours before bedtime in which we try to fit in dinner, bath, book and bedtime cuddle.

On Friday's I come home at 2 and switch with husband, he leaves for work. Usually the kids are napping and wake up around 4 to find me busily working on the weekly meal plan and budget. I stop to put out a snack for them and am then right back to the computer to finalize plans. Our weekend shopping trips depend on this first step. By 6 I stop to make dinner. By 7 we get ready for bed. By 8pm I'm back on the computer.

They have me all day Saturday and Sunday. They see a busy mom doing laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and a little play mixed in. It's the life of a working mom.

They've also seen mom travel to Asia for 6 weeks out of this year + 1 week to Europe. That's almost 2 months of gone time.

So when the opportunity came up to let little Sam travel to Texas with his Mema, I thought to myself, hey - a chance to reconnect with Charlotte, like we were before our precious son arrived! Now, I don't mean this to sound in any way like we are anxious to get rid of our little guy. He's an extraordinarily happy boy! He makes every day an absolute joy to be around. In contrast, my daughter has been struggling with issues like constant sadness , anger and not eating. To the point my husband has seriously considered therapy. We thought, perhaps if we can give her undivided attention for a few weeks, we can figure out how to make her happy.

The first weekend was a disaster. Screaming fits and everything I suggested she did the exact opposite. Charlotte, come sit on your bed so I can put your shoes on. No, I'll sit on the trunk. Okay that's not a big deal. But when I decided to take our dead plants to the trash in our trusty red wagon, she walked along next to me screaming to go home, she didn't want to visit the trash. Now the walk is like 5 minutes max! She's used to half hour walks! She finally tripped and fell in front of the wagon, likely making it look to any stranger that she'd thrown herself in front in an attempt to stop me. Bewildered I picked up my sobbing child and turned around, dog leash in one hand also tugging wagon back to the house.

Husband came home that night and we compared notes of his first week home with her, after Sam left. We thought, maybe she misses him and her world is upside down and she doesn't know how to express it? She had been acting off all week but she had been sick with a cold.

Sunday we couldn't take her to church due to her persistent cough so to make up for it (she loves her Sunday school class) we promised a pony ride. She was thrilled and enjoyed the experience tremendously. Of course she came down with an earache later that evening which put a huge damper on the rest of the day but at least we started well!

Monday she had no more pain from the ear ache! I was home from work, sick with a cold so we spent the day with her. I noticed by this point she had become very loving, she would walk up to me and give me long hugs. Still would not eat much, eating is a consistent problem with this one but she was cheerful about it.

Tuesday I realized my cold had developed into bronchitis so we did the rounds of doctors. First mine where she was an absolute angel and got to hear baby girls heart beat for the first time as my OB-GYN consolidated check up with bronchitis care. We then went to Charlotte's pediatrician who diagnosed double ear infection but no bronchitis. Prescriptions for both mom and daughter. Dad went off to Target to get them filled. We stayed home to eat lunch. I tried to get some work done on the computer but I noticed her getting frustrated so stopped and went outside to sit while she played until dad got home. Our deal that once he got home it was nap time. She responded well to these conditions.

Wednesday morning, I sat outside with my devotions before she got up. As I sat there the door opened and she came out and just stood next to me where I hugged her for more than 5 minutes. Not moving, not talking. Just holding my daughter. She finally stopped and smiled up at me the most beautiful smile and I knew, I just knew we had reconnected. The business of life was not in this moment, it was me and her. We were completely relaxed and happy.

If I can only hang onto the lessons learned from this week of sickness as I go back into the work world, I think I can find balance.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome to a new week of Working Mommy Wednesday. Today's prompts are:

Are problem solving skills used at work useful at home with the family? Or vice versa?
Share a cause you enjoy supporting.
Today I'm going to write about a favorite cause I enjoy supporting. It's Operation Christmas Child which is run by Samaritan's Purse.

The objective is simple - fill a shoebox with Christmas gifts for a child who lives in a poverty stricken country. Drop box off at a church. Box get's delivered in time for Christmas!

Today I assembled 4 boxes - I guess we bought at least 4 pairs of shoes this year! Actually I'm sure we bought more but these are the only boxes I managed to save.

I spent the following per box:
  • Bar of Soap $0.66
  • Toothpaste $1.66
  • Notepad $0.99
  • 2 Pencils $0.12
  • Hard Candy $0.62
  • Cost to deliver box $7.00
  • Total: $11.05
I'm a bit of a frugal nut so I've actually saved toothbrushes and combs from my hotel stays - just for Operation Christmas Child!

I still need to get some basic toys (jump rope for girls, dinosaurs for boys) but after reading this article about children in the Philippines who live near a giant garbage dump outside of Manilla, I want to get a few more useful things like socks and shirts.

It's such a small thing, a shoebox. It costs less than $20.00 to put one together. When I think of the money we spent on 4 pairs of shoes verses giving back the box with a few gifts? Well, let's just say I feel so blessed with all we've been given that this is a small price to pay for a child's happiness.

Looking forward to reading your stories this week! Please link up below so I can find you.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Random Tuesday




Did anyone see this bit of news from NPR yesterday? A mom in Nashville, TN advertised Lollipop's laced with chicken pox virus for $50.00. That's definitely the strangest news I've seen all week!!!

-------

We recently had our condo painted and had to bring our plants inside for 3-4 days. Husband was concerned about ants getting into our living space so he put our "hardiest" plants out in the garage. Strangely enough 4 died a horrible death. They just completely withered and died within 4 days! Not just died, I mean every single fluffy leaf gone and the tomatoes had been eaten through! We can't figure out what would do this. Is our garage possessed with a killer plant virus??





Oregano

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That's all I got! Hope you all have a great Tuesday!!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Multitude Monday - Thankfulness

Ann Voscamp is one of my favorite bloggers and she writes a beautiful post every Monday about all the things she's thankful for. She's challenged her readers to make a list of 1000 things they are thankful for. I've been keeping a journal and I'm up to 205. I'll continue it in this space for Monday's.

Psalm 100:4 "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name"

This past weekend I've been dreadfully sick with a cold, while pregnant so I can't take much medication. My daughter's been getting over a cold and on Sunday added an earache to the mix. Fortunately husband is not sick so he can take care of us. Where is Sam? Oh he went to Texas on Nov. 1st with Mema and took his cold to the grandparents. So how does one sick family find thankfulness in this sickness? Well I thought about this last night, as I tried to sleep in a sitting up position. I recalled all the days I'm not sick and realized this is such a fleeting time, it will be over before the week is out.

206 - I'm thankful that I'll eventually sleep and tomorrow will be a new day. Yeah I know that's not a "living in the moment" thought but some days we really do look forward to sleep and a fresh start.
207 - I'm thankful Sam and Mema made it safely to Texas.
208 - The joy in a little girls eyes on her first pony ride. Yes we did manage to fit this in before the earache hit. We thought she was on the mend, the earache hit on the way home.
209 - Remembering photos of my childhood on a pony, my mom's proud smile and joy in taking her little ones to a memorable experience.
210 - Discount apples, they make the best pies! I made an apple pie Sunday morning and it's incredible.
211 - The smell of a crock pot meal as we come home from a day out.
212 - Teamwork with husband in caring for a sick child.
213 - We are thankful our condo didn't flood in the torrential downpours that brought the center pond almost to the sidewalk!
214 - Spicy chili that clears out my sinus's!
215 - Friends who ask for advice. I don't know why but it's just nice to be useful to others.
216 - Long distance friends that say they wish they could bring me soup while I'm sick - two different friends (one new, one old)! How cool is that!

That's it for this week. If you are the praying type, please keep a prayer out for my Charlotte. It's her first earache and in both ears. She's taking it badly and hasn't eaten since noon, which drives us crazy.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Five Minute Friday: Remember

Welcome to 5 minute Friday, hosted by The Gypsy Mama. The rules are to write for 5 minutes. Unscripted and unedited.

Remember …

Last week, I attended a blogger conference where I knew no one; except the roommates who I had found through Twitter. Do email conversations count? I was the first to arrive and had the absolute joy of meeting a friendly blogger in the airport who offered me a ride to the hotel and lunch at Chili’s. I was welcomed! But we had to part ways eventually.

Later I found myself in a room full of chattering women, the 4pm meet and greet. Everyone talking at once like a room full of magpies. I circled, looking for a familiar face, unable to walk up to a total stranger. They all seemed to know each other. So intimidating.

I finally found safe haven in a familiar face who I had chatted with briefly in the airport and relaxed as she told me about her company DIY.

Finally time for dinner, claimed my wandering roommate and made safe haven at a table in the back. Made room for remaining 2 roommates who were coming later. Finally a mission, a purpose, hold space for future friends. Hold vigil by phone for them to make contact so I could bring them into the safe table I had secured.

Confidence? I don’t have it in a room of strangers. I long to be more like my dad who had never met a stranger. Confidence.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Working Mommy Wednesday

Welcome to another week of Working Mommy Wednesday! Today's prompts are:

How was your Halloween?

Show photos of autumn in your area.


Halloween:
Last year I noticed many of the children in our neighborhood did not have costumes or bags to collect treats. They would use backpacks and shameless run around the condo buildings asking for candy. My perception was they didn't belong because they were not following the rules.

This year my heart for these children changed. I found them hanging around my porch constantly, wanting to pet my dog, spend time with my children. I finally realized these kids are just looking for something to do, they are friendly, they wave at me when I drive by, they like my kids. I finally warmed up to them (kinda sounds like a Grinch story huh?). I got to know their names and finally asked what they had planned for Halloween.

Our mom's don't let us dress up for Halloween, they say it's bad. Oh, well I grew up in a church that didn't celebrate Halloween so I can understand this - but the girls did not go to church. Maybe their parents can't justify spending money on another holiday.

An idea formed. What if set up an arts and crafts table and let them make a Masquerade mask, it's not a mask that has anything to do with the dark side of Halloween, just a simple decorated mask to hold up to one's face while gallivanting around the neighborhood participating in Trick or Treat.

It worked! I had 8 kids in my home, some already had masks but just wanted to participate in the arts and crafts table. They happily worked on their masks while Charlotte commanded a chair and painted hers. I cut faces and opened craft jars until everyone was satisfied. Noticing some were using backpacks to collect candy we found paper bags to hand out.

Of course we still needed to do our own trick or treat rounds! Charlotte, in her Princess dress insisted it was her turn to knock and say trick or treat. I absolutely adore the smile in her first picture below.


And Sam (shown here with Mema) was so tired by the time we made it out the door, but he still managed to walk almost as much as big sister!


Overall it was a great night and our kids seemed thrilled with the entire evening.

I'm looking forward to reading your stories! Please use the link up below and I'll be sure to come around your place later today.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Random Tuesday


Stacy

This past weekend I had the ultimate random experience. I traveled to Harrisburg, PA for a Christian blogger conference and the weather report said 40's at night, 50's during the day. That's cold for me - coming from South Florida - so I packed warm suede boots and layers of sweaters.

HOWEVER!

The day after I got there, the weather report changed to snow forecast for Saturday! Snow! In October? Now, I actually grew up in this area and cannot recall snow before Halloween so this was definitely random!

Photos!!!



Poor broken flower!

Sunday, all my flights were on time. Bye snow, back home to sunny Florida and my adorable family!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Muffin Monday Madness - Double Apple Spice!!!

Monday morning and I’m out of baked snacks. Wake up at 6am and analyze fridge ingredients – 1 apple, small amount of apple sauce – that’s it! Apple Spice Muffins it is! Or make that Double Apple Spice Muffins. Yeah!
Next, create personalized recipe. I start by finding a generic base on allrecipes.com. Theirs calls for butter, I’ve found oil makes a more moist muffin. Exchange. Theirs does not call for diced apple, I want MORE apple! Theirs calls for allspice, I prefer ginger and cloves. Exchange. Theirs does not call for a topping, I feel a little oatmeal would be awesome. Since I’ve remade half the recipe, I’ll just call this one my own creation.
DOUBLE APPLE SPICE MUFFINS
Muffin Mix
  • ½ cup oil
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup white wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 apple diced very small (I used Gala, they are so juicy right now)
I mix dry ingredients by hand in my kitchen aid mixer. I have the wet ingredients sitting by in premeasured bowls and dump everything into dry ingredients (eggs, oil, applesauce), blend in mixer only until all dry ingredients have been absorbed. Don’t over mix.
Topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Land O Lakes butter
  • ¼ cup oatmeal
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
Mix topping in food processor, put one spoonful on top of each muffin
Grease muffin container, it should make 12 muffins. Always use an ice cream scoop to measure muffins into tin pan. This is critical because it ensures each muffin is equal is size and will bake evenly. Wonderful tip I picked up from professional cupcake makers.
Bake at 350 for 22 minutes.
Tip – it’s best to dice an apple as small as possible because I’ve found the muffin mix will not always bake as evenly around a chunk of apple so you end up with an over baked muffin to compensate.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Relevant - Chronicle of People Met

If I write about you, I will be more likely to remember you and your blog.  So the following is written as I go through your business cards, which I’ve saved in the order I received them.
Upon seating of a puddle hopper going from Newark, NJ to Harrisburg I heard to Relevant ladies greet each other. Ah ha, 2 on my plane! I’ll introduce myself upon landing.
Meet Krissie Camealy! I introduced myself in the airport as I was wondering where to get the bus. She immediately welcomed me, noticed I was pregnant with a big “oh my gosh how far along are you?” and offered me a ride in the car she was renting! How welcoming is that? She had also offered a ride to Mary Deluth who I chatted with while she was waiting for her bags which never came in so we left her behind to sort out the situation.
Krissie is a really fun girl, she took me straight to the hotel where we checked in and then to Chili’s for lunch where we past a big group just finishing their lunch, we were slightly late at 2pm.  We enjoyed hamburgers while talking about our two very similar stubborn 3 year old daughters.  It’s so enjoyable to talk with someone who has experienced similar issues.
At the end of our meal, we were discussing our churches, mine being Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.  As soon as I said it, two ladies popped over to say hi, one from Boca (Nicole Morgan) and one from Boyton Beach (M.J. Putnik)!  Two bloggers from my area!!!  How exciting.
Back to the hotel to check into my room and meet my first roommate Natalie.  We immediately leave for the newbie’s meet and greet while she registers.  Here’s my first moment of panic – a room full of women all talking at once and I don’t recognize anyone!  I quickly chase after Natalie but she’s gone!  Back to the big scary lobby to find someone, anyone I recognize.  Ah there is some girls I said hi to at the airport.  They welcome me and tell me about their DIY business.  Meet Amy Bayliss and Lisa Boyd, their service has annual fee of $24.95 and you get unlimited tech support for your blogging needs. How cool is that? And they are incredibly sweet to talk with so you can only imagine they must be a joy to work with.
Next card – “A Delightful Home” by Stacy Karen.  I’m sorry I don’t remember meeting you!  But I’ve just checked out your blog and love the Green Resource link up.  Think I’ll try this when I get home!!
At dinner my roommates (Jules, Katrina &  and I met a lovely lady who share’s my first name, Rachel Wojnarowski.  She’s a mom to 7 kids!!!  Astonishing!  She was so casual with her tiny 7mo that I could tell she was an experienced mom but never did I suspect that many kids.
I have Amy Frye’s card but I don’t remember meeting her!
After dinner and keynote speaker we are moved into a lounge for cupcakes and coffee.  One of my roommates breaks off to meet up with another friend and I’m suddenly stranded again.  I stand near the door, considering an opportunity to bolt when Susan from our dinner table reaches out to speak with me.  Oh Susan, thanks for saving me from myself.  We move to the center of the room and as we talk another lady hangs near, looking for an open group.  We welcome Angela into our group and I find she’s from my mom’s home town area of Altoona, PA.  Our group gets just a little bigger as Trina Holden joins and I learn she’s the lovely girl who left an incredibly sweet comment on my previous post.
So that was day 1!  What an exciting day, can’t wait to see what else Relevant has to offer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maternity Wardrobe

It’s a really good thing I put this together in Excel last week when I had the frame mind to plan out my fall maternity wardrobe.  I’m packing for Relevant and just spent 10 minutes staring at my closet, forgetting what I wanted to pack until I remembered my handy chart.  Yeah for charts!