Wednesday, November 30, 2011

25 Christmas Challenges

Happy November 30th!

Each year as Christmas approaches, I try to focus less on the commercialism and holiday rush and more on the people I love. I found these on Taza's blog and this Advent season I challenge you to 25 christmas challenges...

  • go out of your way-- befriend someone today that needs a friend and follow through to christmas
  • tell someone you love them
  • make a tree decoration that will remind you of Christ
  • in your prayers today, give thanks for every blessing without asking for anything
  • try to be as kind as possible to others today
  • try not to quarrel with family members today
  • do a good deed anonymously
  • make goals for yourself-- seal a copy in an envelope to be opened in a year
  • visit someone sick or lonely or sad
  • do volunteer work for some worthy cause
  • do something fun for a child or younger sibling
  • try to forgive someone who has wronged you, be reconciled
  • make a "give list" instead of a list of gifts you'd like
  • improve yourself in some way 
  • quietly reflect and choose uplifting activities vs shopping
  • phone or send a card to an old friend or family member
  • listen to Handel's Messiah
  • make a christmas treat for someone else
  • be a calming influence today and control your temper
  • accept the gift of forgiveness-- pray for some weakness and ask for help in repenting of it
  • look at christmas lights... where does all light come from?
  • sing carols
  • do something nice for someone without their knowing it was you
  • be the first to say hello to people all day
  • ask someone to tell you about a past christmas

Monday, November 28, 2011

Still Thankful.

Our thanksgiving holiday was wonderful. Good food, family time, Christmas decorations, shopping, book reading, and a daily afternoon nap. 

 I didn't share any pictures from our Thanksgiving celebration this weekend, so why not on Monday while we are still enjoying the last of our leftovers? Mr. R. polished off the last of the acorn squash for lunch today so I can officially say Thanksgiving is over in our place. 

Also, the risotto was FABULOUS! I followed Giada's recipe, but put all the ingredients in the crockpot and turned it to high for 2 hours. I can guarantee we will be eating risotto ALL the time now. 
I also have a few pictures from our Thanksgiving morning tradition. Coffee flavored with pumpkin spice, doughnuts, and Black Friday ads. Pip was really into the ads this year. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Holiday Matriarch

In the words of Buddy the Elf, "I thought maybe we could make ginger bread houses, and eat cookie dough, and go ice skating, and maybe even hold hands." 

As the Holiday Matriarch, a job I take very seriously, it is my job to create traditions and make memories. Christmas is right around the corner and I am beyond excited. Christmas is my favorite holiday and with the addition of Piper it makes everything even more magical. She looks at everything with a sense of wonder and surprise. This year, even though she won't remember our merriment and celebrating, we are establishing the traditions that our little family will carry into the future.
Here's a look at this years Christmas Memory Making List:
Christmas tree decorating while listening to Johnny Mathis
Christmas movies on Saturday nights
Seeing the lights downtown
Hot Toddies
Baking cookies
Christmas caroling
Christmas pajamas and Sunday morning pancakes
Yacht Club Regatta
Make a gingerbread house
Creating our Christmas card
Hanging our outdoor lights
Write a letter to Santa, write a letter to Piper
Pitman Lights and bakery doughnuts
Red train ride
25 days of Christmas books
Crab bisque on Christmas Eve after church
Mariah's Christmas album in my car
Hot cocoa or apple cider before bed
Driving around the neighborhood at night to admire everyone's lights
Christmas present clues
Festival of Trees
Eating Chinese food and watching A Christmas Story
Visiting the live nativity
Opening one gift on Christmas Eve
Reading Luke 2
Watching the 24 hour Elf marathon
Creating our December Daily album
Watching the Rockefeller Center tree lighting

Deck the Halls with boughs of holly...

or in our case an artificial tree, lots of ornaments, and a santa hat. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Full Bellies, Warm Hearts

Thankful Part 3

Today is the day! I will spend my morning watching the parade and brining our turkey.
Then it's time for food prep.
Dinner is at 2:00.
The cowboys play at 4:00.
And finally we usually round out thanksgiving night with Home Alone on DVD.
But that really isn't what today is all about.
Wednesday afternoon I showed my critical thinking class Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving and we had a chat about why we celebrate this holiday as a nation. And just what we should be thankful for. 
It never ceases to amaze me that the Pilgrim's were able to come to a new land with just three months worth of provisions and build a colony. As a modern woman with a house full of appliances and conveniences I cannot imagine leaving all this behind to start a new life with just a suitcase of clothes, some food, and a toolbox. 
I find it amazing that the Native Americans were willing to take the Pilgrims under their wing. Would I be willing to welcome random strangers from a foreign land into my home? Would I share all the food in my pantry? Would I give people I didn't know the clothes in my closet or the keys to my car? 
When I think of the first thanksgiving it becomes so apparent that God has his hand in the lives of each person who celebrated. He opened the hearts of the Native Americans to allow them to give cheerfully and he guided the Pilgrim's to a promise land were they were free to worship him and prosper. 
The first thanksgiving also reminds me that life is not always easy. Even with God's hand in my life it will never be a constant stream of sunshine and rainbows. The pilgrim's had months of famine, months of sickness, and many died while trying to live the life God had chosen for them. Right now I may be tired, my job may be hard, and my bank account may be less than I am comfortable with and that is OK. 
Even in the darkest of days I am still God's child, I am still cared for, I am still loved and for that I AM THANKFUL. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A few thankful thoughts

This morning I am thankful for...

hot coffee
just out of the dryer pajamas
sleepy babies with bed head
puppy kisses
clean sheets
a dining room table (we didn't have one in our old apartments)
cute rainboots
peanutbutter on cinnamon toast
vacation days
yankee candles that smell like Christmas
radio stations that are already in the holiday spirit
Black Friday Ads
Bathtubs and bubble bath
lipgloss and lengthening mascara
down pillows 
new bathroom towels
The Keurig
Baby Einstein on You Tube
The smell of clean laundry
Lemon Pledge
and this face...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hello Holiday Weekend!

7 hours
(one school day and two labs and a few last minute grades)

 is the only thing that separates me from...
5 days of vacation. 
I am thankful for THANKSGIVING BREAK!
There will be cooking, eating, napping, Black Friday shopping, and holiday decorating. 
Cue the holiday music and pumpkin spice coffee. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

6 months!

Piper turned 6 months old on 11/12/11.
At 6 months she is scooting and rolling like crazy. She is able to move across her playmat and has surprised us twice by rolling from the media room into the kitchen. 
Piper is eating like a champ and loving pears, bananas, sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini, and carrots. She still views apples as poison. 
Pip loves bathtime, running in the stroller, being carried in the baby Beco and riding in the car with the top down. She is an awesome little shopper and is amazed by the noise and colors in Target and Costco.
 We had a Mommy-daughter date at Barnes and Noble last Sunday and she loved looking at all the board books in the children's section. Sister LOVES books. I think we will be frequenting the library for some Christmas books very soon.
Miss Pip celebrated Kristin's birthday on 11/10 and headed out past her bedtime for some awesome food at the Floridian. 
We had her 6 month appointment at the doctor today. 
Height: 27 & 3/4 inches
Weight: 17 pounds
Head circumference: 40 
 Percentiles: 75th for height, 50th for weight, 50th for head size.
I know I say this every month, but this month is definitely my favorite. Piper has so much more personality. She giggles, she laughs, she loves music and dances.
She is such an awesome little person!
This last video is from her 6 month check-up. She charmed the nurses and ripped all the paper off the table!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scenes from our Sunday

1. Pip is in LOVE with this book. It is always in her bag of tricks and I read it to her at least once a day. Today I realized I actually have it memorized.

2. Pip has been on a pear and sweet potato kick this week. She is still not a fan of apples. Tonight on a whim I tried giving her rice cereal again and she LOVED it. So maybe she will change her mind about my favorite fruit after all.

3. A lot of the baby books talk about letting your child learn to feed him or herself. It helps with food introduction, choking, and independence. As you can see Piper has no problem asserting her independence. Clean up is a doozy though. 

4. Our friends loaned us a jumperoo and Pip is obsessed. She is a bit too short for it, (she is a small fry after all), but that is nothing that a throw pillow can't fix. She will bounce for up to 30 minutes! I think Jeff and I might love it just as much as she does :)

And so I cooked.

I really hate to admit this, but I have started to love cooking! I feel at home in my kitchen. With music on, pots boiling, pan simmering, veggies chopping, and the dishwasher (always running now! It's all the baby stuff I tell you), I feel at peace.

 I cook to feed my family and to control the quality of food we consume. I cook because I like to try new foods. And I cook because in truth I really don't enjoy eating out, especially with a baby. In the words of my father-in -law, it's like trying to eat a nice meal while holding a 15 pound watermelon. (Truer words have never been spoken).

Cooking has become a time to turn my mind off.
And so yesterday I cooked.

And we will be eating so well this week.
(FYI: I try to cook 6 meals on one weekend day and then eat those meals throughout the week. The other two days we will eat take-out or leftovers).

I made one squash (sliced in half it serves 4). We split one for lunch yesterday and will eat the other half later this week.

Do not skimp out on the toppings, the marscapone, goat cheese, and bacon are where it's at.
(We had this for dinner last night and I would gladly eat it for all of my meals today)

Follow this recipe, and make 16 sliders instead of 4 burgers. The sliders freeze really well and we will eat 4 for dinner this week (2 each) and freeze the rest.

Liquid cheeseburger. Enough said.

Dinner #5: Eggnog Waffles
I found pumpkin eggnog at Publix. And then I needed to find a way to use it. It helps that we really like waffles in our house. These also freeze really well. Just reheat in toaster over for easy dinner/breakfast.

I am cooking Thanksgiving this year so dinner #6 will not be made until Thursday. And the leftovers will be enjoyed for weeks to come! I am in the process of finalizing recipes and a shopping list. I do think pumpkin risotto will be making an appearance on our table this year!
Image Source

Friday, November 18, 2011

I have it good.

Today was a fantastic day. My students were engaged. My lab worked perfectly. The weather is amazing. We had just enough food to make dinner tonight and I could put off the grocery store for yet another day. Along with having food, clothes, and a few nickels to rub together my family is healthy and happy. Yep, I have it good. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I started out this month with great intentions of taking time each day to blog about what I am thankful for. And then life happened. So on thus Tuesday night, while dinner cooks in the over, and a very active 6 month old plays in her walker, I will attempt to catch up.

1: Facetime. This summer I splurged and purchased the iphone 4. For those of you who know me I am pretty frugal and my husband is down right cheap. A $200 iphone purchase is rather extravagant for us. But the iphone has facetime and for that I am thankful. Facetime allows us to real-time video chat with my Mom on an almost daily basis. From 700 miles away my mom has seen Piper's first bath, first laugh, first real food feeding, and first time in the walker. The iphone makes distance a mute point and for that I am thankful.

2: My camera. My camera is like my left arm. It is used daily to capture those everyday wonderful moments that could easily go un-photographed and forgotten.

3: My husband. In just 6 months my husband has transformed into a loving father who is an excellent diaper changer, bath giver, bottle maker, and night-time story teller.

4: Modern Family. I LOVE THAT SHOW. It is the highlight of my Wednesday nights and as much as I like to pretend I am not Claire, I secretly love her wardrobe.

5: Uncle Robert. He came for two weeks this month to celebrate birthdays, help out my Grandparents, and spend some much needed quality time with Piper. He kept us updated on the stock market, new books at Barnes and Noble, and the Wall Street Journal. We miss him now that he is back in Jersey, but we look forward to his return in January.

6: Rockin' Elmo. Pip loves him. He provides daily entertainment and he allows me to steal away a few minutes for myself while Pip bangs on her tambourine.

7: Community Season 2 on DVD and surprises from the hubs. He found said DVD on super sale at Target and brought it home Monday night as a surprise. We have been watching an episode a night and it is hilarious. I love that it has given a new nightly routine and a few more inside jokes to share.

8: Our waffle maker. Saturday morning waffles are my favorite as well as breakfast for dinner on week nights. Jeff is a big fan of the banana variety. I like that it means a healthy meal is on our table in less than 20 minutes.

9: The pups. They are always happy to see me. They are always willing to go for a long walk, even in the rain. They keep my side of the bed warm. They are the best alarm clock money can buy. Even with the time change they still somehow know when it's 5:00 AM

10: Pip's walker. She LOVES her new toy. It squeaks, buzzes, plays music, allows her to move around the house. Her walker has given her a taste of independence and girlfriend is loving every second of it.

11: Thankful for KRISTIN! She is one of my most favorite people and I am so grateful she is in my life. She is an amazing baker, a great listener, and a thoughtful friend. She always thinks of others first and is willing to offer her help to anyone in need. I am going to miss her so much when she takes her dream job.

12: My job. This year is not ideal and I am not loving everyday. But I am grateful I have a job that allows me to have nights and weekends off. I am able to arrive home by 3:30 and spend my afternoons taking family walks, cooking dinner, and playing with my girl. My job allows me to have summers off and travel during the holidays.

13: Thankful for Harper. Pip's BFF is currently growing and getting ready to make her debut. I am very thankful that Danielle has had a healthy pregnancy and that Pip will soon have a friend to grow with. I am also excited to have a friend to share Mommyhood with. It helps when someone else understands and is going through it at the same time.

14: My mom. Growing up I highly undervalued my Mom's brilliance. Now that I am "in charge" of my own household and I have to make the decisions I realize how hard adulthood and parenting really is. Thankfully my Mom is only a phone call away and her advice is still amazing.

15: The white noise machine. It blocks out all noise from  phone calls, doorbells, barking dogs, and the fed-ex truck. The white noise machine makes 7:30 bedtime possible AND elongates naptime. I am a happy mom.

16: Smores. I know it sounds crazy, but this summer and fall smores have been our dessert of choice. They are the perfect bite of gooey, crunchy, and sweet. They can be made in the oven or around a bonfire. They make me think of my summers at camp and Missionette weekends.

Stay tuned for 14 more days of thankful!