Friday, November 29, 2013


I am overwhelmingly thankful for the life that I lead.  I know that I am lucky and privileged.  I am thankful for my happy and healthy family and the opportunity that I am presented with to have my full time job be caring for them.  I am thankful for a steady income that provides for all of our needs and then some.  For our home, for our cars, and for all of the food that fills our little kitchen.

Here are a few randoms for which I am thankful that put the icing on my cake:

A car with a remote starter and heated seats.  Because it is COLD!  On that note, I'm also thankful for my heated blanket and my husband's sweatshirts.  These things help me survive until spring.

Yoga pants.  Because real waists and zippers are just unnecessary when you're home with littles all day.

Regular work hours.  Mark does some working from home but his at-work hours are pretty predictable.  He's had a few late(r) days this week getting things ready for the post-Thanksgiving shopping rush.  It's reminded me to be thankful for regular hours that allow him to be home in time for dinner almost every night.

Modern appliances.  Because my life would be decidedly more difficult without my oven, microwave, dishwasher, and washer and dryer.  Every time I grumble about unloading the dishwasher I try to remind myself just how much more I would dislike handwashing dishes.  I also would not be such a proponent of cloth diapering if I had to wash them by hand.

My Keurig, which is a modern appliance, but deserves its own mention.  Because when I'm trying to get two kids up, fed, and settled, the ease of popping a little cup into the machine and having perfectly brewed coffee seconds later is a life saver.  I'm not a morning person.  One of the best gifts I've received; my hubby knows me better than I know myself.

Amazon Prime.  We recently broke down and signed up for Amazon Prime and I am loving the convenience of free 2-day shipping.  It has come in especially handy for holiday shopping.  Online shopping in general should probably make my list.  It's my favorite way to shop.

Good books.  Like this one, this, and this too.  (I could go on, but those are a few recent favs.)  And also for a more regularly and longer napping baby, preschool days, and plenty of football watching which allow me to sneak in a little extra reading time!

Friends Thanksgiving episodes.  Because they're my favorite.

Soup season!  Because it's my favorite too.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 24th

Woohoo!  Turkey week!

This weekend passed by in a blur.  Saturday morning I shadowed a doula at a prenatal visit.  We have another visit scheduled next weekend and it's a great opportunity for me to get some hands-on experience.  So exciting!  Later that same day I went wedding dress shopping with my sister.

The usual Sunday things happened and then it's Monday again.  I'm thankful for a shortened week due to the holiday, but this is the first year Mark has worked in the retail industry so it's going to be interesting seeing how his job is impacted by Black Friday/Cyber Monday shenanigans.  I have my fingers crossed that things don't get too hectic.

And also, it's COLD here right now.  Like, really cold.  Now I remember why I always want to be a hermit once this time of year hits.  It's dark by 5pm and I'm freezing all the time.  I just want to hibernate until spring.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Zuppa Toscana with Garlic Butter Breadsticks

Monday:  Freezer Meal

Tuesday:  Beef Stroganoff (Crock Pot) with Whole Wheat Egg Noodles and Broccoli

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Thanksgiving with family x 2!

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Apps Night

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Monday, November 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 17th

We had a pretty low-key weekend.  Saturday, Jack and I went to see Planes at the movie theater.  We went with friends and it was Jack's very first movie theater experience.  He did great and loved it!  He also loved the popcorn (and ate plenty of it!) and enjoyed the movie.  He wasn't quite heavy enough to hold the folding seat down unless he sat towards the front so he spent part of the movie sitting on his seat and part of the movie sitting on my lap!

We got a new couch on Saturday.  It's growing on me.  I don't like the look of it as much as our old couch, but it's comfy, and hey!  It's not falling apart!  I guess when I say I don't like the look of it as much as our old couch I'm really talking about our old couch before I started falling apart.  Yeah... :/

This is what our old couch currently looks like:

So sad.  And anger inducing.

Well, certainly it must be time to replace it because it's falling apart, you may say.  Yes, it's falling apart, but it's only 5 years old.  We bought our furniture brand new from a furniture store 5 years ago and now it looks like that.  Makes me so. angry.  It was great until it hit about 4 years old and then it started falling apart.  It hit a point a few months ago where it started to get worse fast and obviously it looks terrible now.  Add to that Molly tries to pick off pieces and eat it.  Little stinker.

I was tired of looking at it, tired of picking pieces of the darn furniture out of Molly's mouth, so it was time to replace it.  I would have preferred to replace it with something similar, but I was too afraid that it would fall apart in just a few years.  Plus, I'd like to hold off on investing in expensive furniture right now.  We're hoping to move next year and we might end up wanting something different than we would purchase right now.  So we decided to go with a basic fabric couch for now.  I need to get some throw pillows for it, but overall I'm happy with it at the moment.

Thanks to Jack and Puppy for so graciously modeling for us.

Our old couch went straight out to the curb and I am SO looking forward to it being picked up on trash day tomorrow.  It has only added insult to injury watching my 5-year-old falling apart couch sit on the curb all weekend being rained on.  Ugh!  Just want it to be gone already so I can try to forget about it.

We still need to pick out a chair to replace the one we have (which matches the couch, it's also falling apart.  Grr...).  That's next on the list.

Sunday was grocery shopping, football watching, playing, book reading, trying to avoid the nasty weather, and Mark cleaned up his part of the room, which was getting way messy for my taste!  He's currently on my good side.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Chicken Parmesan Panini (made with leftovers) with Baked Zucchini Chips

Monday:  Mom's Night Out!  Making pizza for the boys before I leave

Tuesday:  Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese with Broccoli

Wednesday:  Lentil Tacos

Thursday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Apps

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Randoms


Tuesday afternoon, during the mini-marathon that is getting the kids fed, Jack ready for school, and out the door in a timely manner for preschool drop-off I couldn't locate my keys.  ::cue panic::  We needed to leave right. then. and my keys were MIA.  Where were they?  I discovered them just in the nick of time sitting very conveniently on my trunk.  Great place to keep them, right?  ::face palm::  Lucky for me the snow that had fallen on them overnight had melted by lunchtime otherwise there's no way I would have found them.


Mark brought me home an early Christmas gift: a new heated blanket!  I can't tell you how exciting this is to me.  Our room gets so. cold. this time of year.  Add to that I'm pretty much frozen from mid-September to mid-April and it's not a good combination.  We've used a dual-controlled heated blanket for a few years and it's awesome, but it seems that the stupid things need replaced every other year (what's with that?  Does this happen to anyone else?).  My side always goes bad.  Mark says from overuse (because he could basically do without the blanket to begin with), I say that's bullcocky because how could I use it improperly?!  So what if I crank it up to the highest level?  It's there for a reason!  Anyway... new blanket.  Happy (warm) me.  Hope this one lasts more than 2 winters.


I have The Purge in hand and I'm super psyched to watch it tonight.  Hope it's good!


I bought this little food mat thing the other day and it's definitely one of my new favorite things!  I picked it up at Tarjay for, I think, $6.  It's made by Gerber and it's awesome!  We had something similar with Jack and it was horrible; it didn't lay flat, didn't stick to the table, basically it was worthless.  The mat I just bought is nice and flexible so not only does it fold easily for storage, but it lays nice and flat on the table.  It also clings to the table to keep it from sliding around and it even has a short lip around the edges, which although not super rigid, does help to keep food on the table.  It's dishwasher safe too!  This definitely helps to simplify feeding Molly on the go.  Love it!


War on Thanksgiving.  I complain about it every year.  It's really not the holiday season until I make my annual grumbles about the situation.  It drives me insane to see stores putting out Christmas items immediately following Halloween (or earlier!  I can't even...). One holiday at a time and being that Thanksgiving is my favorite of holidays I hate that it gets lost in the push for early Christmas.  Anyway, I typically don't even give a thought to holiday gifts until after Thanksgiving (to be honest, I don't love general gift-giving.  I just don't think I'm very good at it.  I stress.), but this year I'm kind of proud to say that I've bought a few gifts in the last week or so.  It seems that because Thanksgiving happens to fall so late this year (and retailers seem to compete more every year for consumers' business) I've seen some great deals pop up so I've taken advantage of them.  I have two people checked off my list plus a gift for Mark!  I'm never, ever going to be the kind of person who starts shopping over the summer (I know plenty of people who do, and I get it to a certain extent, I guess), but look at procrastinator-me being all proactive and on top of things.  ::pats self on back::

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Molly - 9 months

Lots to report this month!

Molly wasn't exactly an early crawler (she started crawling last month), but her motor development sure took off from there!  Very quickly after she figured out crawling (maybe 2 weeks later?) she was pulling up to standing.  Now she's cruising side-to-side along the furniture, can let go and stand on her own for a few moments at a time (and it seems her balance and duration improves every day), and she's walking behind things like a pro.  Slow down, Little Miss!  I'm interested to see when she starts walking.

2nd time she ever pulled herself to standing

She has two teeth!  The first one popped through just a day or two after she hit 9-months-old and the second one quickly followed.  I think she's working on her top teeth now.

You can see her two little teeth poking out on the bottom.  So cute!

She's still waking overnight, but after a rough period with multiple wake ups she's up more like once a night now.  Sometimes twice.

Naps... ugh.  Recently she's hit a point where our old schedule isn't working too well.  She's ready for longer awake periods between naps and it's becoming increasingly hard to balance her sleep needs with a working schedule for the other things we have going on (like Jack's preschool pick up and drop off).  This is a pretty new development so we're currently working on figuring out a new routine.  This has definitely been a point of stress for me this month as I feel like every day I'm working hard to try to balance everything and it's not easy right now.  I'm really looking forward to when she drops to one nap a day.  It will certainly simplify things!

Molly is an eater!  She's taking about 6 ounces at a time in her bottles (still on the lower end of normal), but she loves real food.  She'll eat anything you put in front of her!  She's doing great with her pincer grasp so we're doing a mix of finger foods and bigger chunks like we've done in the past.  It's actually to the point where the finger foods are pretty handy (less messy, easier for her to eat), but we still incorporate the bigger chunks as well because I think it's good for her to get continued practice with biting off the appropriate chunks of food and that sort of thing.

Sharing some of her peas with cousin Rilynn at Ri's 1st birthday party!

Right now she's to the point where she's pretty much just eating what we eat, which is SO awesome and stress-free.  She hasn't refused anything so far and has tasted a wide variety of foods.  She likes flavorful things and interestingly enough she seems to really love meat.  This is surprising to me as I'm not a huge meat-lover and Jack eats very little meat.  Miss Molly is anything but picky with food right now.  I'm really hoping this trend continues!

Molly is a huge copy-cat right now. She loves to try to mimic sounds and inflections as well as things like sticking her tongue out, clicking her tongue, smacking her lips, waving, etc.  She's so happy if someone will just sit and blow raspberries back and forth with her!  She's also babbling lots of new sounds and loves to just chatter away.

She also has to be right in the middle of everything and likes to jump right in and wrestle around with Jack.  Jack is definitely struggling as Molly gets more and more mobile.  She wants to play with everything he's playing with and it's a difficult adjustment for him after 3 1/2 years of being left alone to do what he wants.  This is definitely going to be an ongoing process of adjustment, but he is starting to learn.  Sometimes he takes things back to his room to play (I always keep Molly out of there so he can have some private space) and some things he doesn't take out unless Molly is sleeping.

Jack sometimes tries to blockade Molly by setting up a makeshift fence, haha!  She doesn't appreciate it a bit.

9-month stats:

Length: 27 1/2 inches (25th percentile)

Weight: 21 lbs 6 oz (75th percentile)

Head Circumference: 18 inches (90th percentile)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 10th

We had a busy week last week!  Every day we had something to do whether it was playing with friends or Jack going to school.  On Thursday we had our first parent-teacher conference and got to hear all about what Jack is doing at school.  His teachers had nothing but good things to say, which wasn't all that surprising considering how much Jack looks forward to and loves school, but considering he hardly tells me what goes on there I wasn't really sure what to expect!  A good report was reassuring :)  They described him as a quiet observer, but said that he often has plenty to say once he digests the information.  Definitely accurate of Jack.

Tuesday evening I had a meeting and then on Thursday evening I went to a consignment sale and scored some great deals!  Just in time too as Jack's cold weather wardrobe was lacking and it's only getting colder!  Tomorrow is supposed to be a high of 38.  I'm already missing summer.

Saturday we were at my niece's birthday party.  She just turned one!  I can't believe she's already a year old and that Molly's first birthday is just around the corner.  Sunday, other than a grocery store run, we just relaxed around the house and it was much needed down time!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Leftovers

Monday:  Enchilada Pasta Casserole

Tuesday:  Chicken Pot Pie Soup

Wednesday:  Leftovers

Thursday:  Crock Pot Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti Squash

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Homemade Pizza

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tried & True Recipe: Buffalo Chicken Chili

One of the few things I look forward to as the weather turns colder is an excuse to make yummy soups for dinner.  I'm a huge fan of soup (consequently, that's why so many of the recipes I share are for soup!) and as we move away from grilling weather that means more time for soup!  I made this Buffalo Chicken Chili for the first time recently and it's so good I just had to share!  It comes together super quickly, has tons of flavor, is a crowd pleaser, and makes for great leftovers.  That makes for a recipe win in my book!

Try it out this weekend, it's great football watching food.

Happy Friday!

Buffalo Chicken Chili
Adapted from Rachel Ray as seen on Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1T extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2T chili powder
1T ground cumin
1T smoked paprika
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2c low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce (like Frank's)*
1 (15oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 (15oz) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.  Add chicken, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.  Once chicken is browned, add carrots, onion, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened (8-10 minutes).  Once veggies are nearly soft, add garlic and spices and cook until fragrant (~1 minute).  Stir in chicken broth, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits.  Stir in hot sauce, tomato sauce, tomatoes, and beans.  Bring the mixture to a bubble and simmer for 15-30 minutes to allow flavors to combine and veggies to soften.

I enjoyed this chili topped with a little shredded Monterey Jack cheese, a few blue cheese crumbles, some crushed tortilla chips, and a scoop of sour cream.  Sliced green onions or chopped white onions would also be a great addition and any kind of cheese will be tasty.  Whatever you typically like with your chili will probably work well here.

*I found that 1/2 cup of hot sauce was surprisingly enough to lend flavor and a touch of heat to the chili.  If you would like more buffalo flavor and heat increase the amount to 3/4 cup.  You could also add the hot sauce to individual bowls if some people want more than others.  


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Fun

I'm a little behind on documenting our fun as of late.  I finally got pictures uploaded so here's what we've been up to lately!

A few weekends ago we went apple picking with friends.  I've always wanted to go apple picking but always seem to miss out so I'm really glad we got a chance to do it.  We had lots of fun!  Apples were picked, fresh pumpkin spice donuts were consumed, and I'm already excited to make this an annual experience moving forward!

Molly enjoyed picking, but mostly she just pulled leaves off.

This is a little more representative of Mark's feelings about our apple picking adventure:

I made and canned applesauce with some of the apples we picked.  It was my first time canning anything and now I kind of want to can All The Things!

The next weekend we were in need of pumpkins for Halloween purposes so we headed to the pumpkin patch!

Jack was extremely selective about his pumpkin.  Not just any old pumpkin would do!  He really searched for just the right one.
Had to bring the muscle.  The farm had a deal where you could get as many pumpkins as you could carry in from the field for $14.  Lucky for Mark we only needed 4.  

And then the Halloween festivities were upon us.  Jack was so excited leading up to Halloween that he talked about it everyday and always asked in the morning what day it was and if it was Halloween yet.  It might have had something to do with his excitement over his costume!  This was the first year that he really cared what his costume is and he requested to be a truck.  I asked him for weeks what he wanted to be and he just kept saying a truck.  Then I had to figure out how we were going to pull this off!  His costume turned out pretty cute though, I think!

The day before Halloween we had a party with friends.  Molly and her little friend Hallie were both ladybugs!  Too cute!

On Halloween Jack had his party at school.  He got to wear his costume and they had a parade, which was just adorable!

Trick-or-Treat was supposed to be that same night, but we ended up having some thunderstorms, which is pretty strange for this time of year, so they rescheduled our community Trick-o- Treat for 2 days later on Saturday.  I thought Jack would be pretty bummed considering how much he was looking forward to it, but he was surprisingly okay.  I think it helped that he had his party earlier that day.

From left to right: Mark's (always) angry pumpkin, Jack's pumpkin, for which he instructed how the eyes, nose, and mouth should be carved, Molly's pumpkin with bangs like her (haha) and her two little bottom teeth, and finally my (always) happy pumpkin.  That's a fine looking pumpkin family!  :D

We Trick-or-Treated on Saturday and this was Jack's first real time going.  He loved it!  He did a great job of saying "trick-or-treat!" and "thank you" and was very serious about staying in his truck character the whole time :)

Trick-or-Treat at my parents' house was rescheduled for Sunday (odd, I know) so we headed there to do a little more Trick-or-Treating with my nieces.

Both Molly and Rilynn were dressed as ladybugs.  We didn't plan it that way, but it was really cute for them to have matching costumes!

They were too cute Trick-or-Treating together!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - Week of November 3rd

Wow!  November already!  I feel like this whole year has just flown by.  Some days I don't even know what has kept me so busy all day, but before I know it the kids are in bed and another day has passed.  I feel like it wasn't all that long ago that I was very pregnant, heading into the holiday season, and trying to figure out how we were going to get everything ready before the baby arrived!  Meanwhile, that was nearly a year ago!  And the baby did come and we were ready :)

I have so many pictures to share, but I need to get a minute to upload and organize them.  Maybe later this week.

Now that the fun of Halloween is behind us we can look forward to my very favorite holiday: Thanksgiving!

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday:  Parents' house

Monday:  Turkey Apple Panini

Tuesday:  Tortellini-Sausage Soup

Wednesday:  Leftovers/Freezer Meal

Thursday:  Homemade Pizza

Friday:  Out

Saturday:  Family birthday party

I'm linked at Menu Plan Monday hosted by