Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Goals for 2012

I guess you could call them resolutions, but whatever you call them, here they are. I do okay with most of my goals but there are a few that have gotten me each and every time I make them so maybe if I write them down, I will feel more accountable and follow through. So here goes:
1) STOP YELLING (or at least only yell when I really need to)!!!! This gets me every time. I am so horrible with this and fly off the handle so quickly with the boys. It's embarrassing when I think about what the neighbors have heard. I do not curse and don't say hurtful things but I feel like everything I say, I say LOUDLY! So, my first goal is to calm down, take a breath and stop yelling. I know this one is a necessity because I see, rather HEAR the boys copying me.

2) And on those lines--learn the fantastic skill of patience. Every time I read about a parent who says they have learned patience since having children, I want to know how? I feel like my patience went from minimal to nil (hence my #1 Goal to stop yelling). I must have missed this one in parenting classes.

3) Last year, I lost a good amount of weight and reached my goal of 125 lbs. I went from a 12 to a 6 and was so excited. Well, after my surgery in October, I hit a really really really bad place and my exercise pretty much stopped and my eating habits went to pot. Every time I say I will get back to the way I was, I find myself stuffing fudge or a cookie, or a brownie or ice cream (or all of it....) into my mouth. How I have only gained back 4 lbs I don't know. I am holding onto the 120's, but I can see the 130's battling their way back. Tomorrow, I get back to the way I was last year. Am I giving up the sweets? Heck no. But I lost a lot of weight with portion control so I will lose those pounds that creeped back up and hold on for dear life! I will be back!

So there you have it. Goals/Resolutions for 2012. I know if the husband were to read these, he would bet money that I would be yelling within 30 minutes so I must prove him wrong!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Year in Pictures

As each year ends, I always like to go back through our pictures. There are so many to share, but these are just some highlights of our year. I hope that 2011 was a wonderful year for all of you and may 2012 be AMAZING!
Jan=Yucky weather=lots of indoor fun (which=lots of cleaning for Mom)
 February's Annual tubing trip! This year, Will gets to enjoy too
 March brought a lot of Will asserting his independence--particularly in dressing himself
 Easter with my boys! Poor Troy had taken a horrendous fall and had scars but I couldn't bare to put the close ups of those :(
 May was Relay for Life! Troy really got into it and Will helped entertain

 June--Troy's favorite thing: Mid Atlantic Power Sports Show and Carnival. Dirt bikes and ATV's galore!
 July=Vacation in the 1000 Islands and lots of fun with the cousins!
 August brought us a huge change with Troy starting Kindergarten ♥
 Summer overall was LOTS of pool time!
 September, Troy decided to try Tae Kwon Do and he's loved it!
We were also blessed with a short overnight trip to Wintergreen! The boys loved it and we had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back

 October with lots of Halloween fun! This was their favorite thing
 November Will turned 3!!!!
 December with Troy turning 6!
 December also brought lots of fun with Christmas (when they boys weren't bothered by that nasty stomach bug)

 Unfortunately, we did have a huge loss to our family this year :( My poor little girl Buffy left us in September and she is missed terribly :(

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Problem with Being a SAHM

I love being a SAHM. There are times when I wish I did work just for the extra money and responsibility and then I think about it. That money I would make would go to child care anyway so it really doesn't make sense unless I got a job making a good amount (which wouldn't happen as I let all my certifications go). Also, then I would just stress about when I would be able to clean, cook, do laundry, run errands...etc. Sometimes I truly don't understand how working moms do it?? I know there's a huge debate about what's better and in my opinion, there truly is no right answer. I personally think working moms and single moms are amazing! I just don't know how they manage sometimes. But anyway, back to my original idea:
The problem with being a SAHM? For me, I get so excited for holidays and school breaks because that means the boys and I have more people to play with and I am always left a little blah. I forget that for my family and friends that aren't SAHM's:
1) May not get much of a break at all
2) Usually have TONS of stuff they need to do (appts, errands, projects..)
3) Want to just enjoy their family and time off
4) Actually want to be at home

I personally get bored being at home, so I plan a lot of activities to get out of the house and take advantage of the time I get with the boys. Plus, the more I am at home, the more projects I see that need attention so I work more on that and the boys entertain themselves. Therefore, I get out of the house so I can focus on fun (and procrastinate a bit). However, I know my sister and her kids just enjoy not being on the go and running here, there and everywhere. So when I get a big idea to do something fun, I forget that it's not actually fun for her--she would rather be home where the kids can actually enjoy their own toys and she can simply enjoy her own home. Like I said, I enjoy staying at home with the boys, but that doesn't mean I actually HAVE to stay in my house all the time. Plus, it gives me time to be more social and actually talk to people and not just those I chat with through or Facebook (or my imaginary friends as the husband calls them on occasion)--as great as they may be ;)

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After Christmas

I adore Christmas. I love everything about it--buying gifts, wrapping, unwrapping, the food--oh man how I love the food...., visiting with family and friends....EVERYTHING. However, I have to be totally honest. I dread getting up the day after Christmas. As a child, it was the best day of the year. No place to go, no school, no big plans. We could simply enjoy everything we were given. As a parent......well, the day after Christmas is dreaded. Not because I don't want to see the boys having fun with their new toys, books, videos, music....Not because I don't want to put new things together. Not because I don't want to enjoy my new items. It's this. The aftermath. The clean up. The figuring out where to put everything and what old toys need to be boxed up again. If only there was a cleaning fairy to come along and help. SIGH. Now it's off the computer and up to tackle the chores at hand. Although, I may get distracted with some of my new gifts along the way.....Merry Christmas all and may 2012 be simply fabulous!

The gifts nicely arranged in a Troy and Will pile

The After:
Gifts from everyone opened and everywhere, totally taking over the house....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Pictures from 2005-present

I love looking back at the pictures we have sent in Christmas cards over the past few years and seeing how the boys (and Jay and I) have changed!

2009--Sears Portrait Studio
We sent this one to most everyone
But some of our family got this one as well

2010--Taken by JNicole Photography

2011--This was this year's picture for some

But most got this wonderful picture made by a Siggy Maker on
And the only reason not everyone did is because I ran out of copies :(

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holiday Memories

It's so much fun having children for so many reasons. One of the best things is telling your children stories about your childhood and people that were in your life. The other day when Troy was sick and I was rubbing his achy belly, I told him all about a cousin of mine I adored. The one that Troy happened to be named after. Troy was so fascinated and it really helped take his mind off of how bad he was feeling. Since then, I have really started telling him stories about my past. Of course, the running joke is that I just don't remember things like they really were so apparently, I had or have a vivid imagination. I guess I should say that I tell him stories of things I *think* happened. (And no, I have done nothing to alter my memories just in case you were wondering). Anyway, the holidays are always a great time sharing what we used to do so these are just a few stories that I have shared with the boys lately.
* My family is HUGE on games, particularly card games. We were always playing some type of card game--Spades, Hearts, Set Back, Rummy and my ultimate favorite--Spoons. I played this so many years and we always looked forward to getting together after eating Christmas dinner and playing. I remember teaching my cousin Laura when she was young and we played very slow and let her win as all good older children do. But the most fun came when she really learned and was a force to be reckoned with! Oh the games of spoons we played. I think there may have even been a few minor injuries fighting over that last spoon! Guess what I taught Troy to play today ;) It won't take him long at all to figure it all out as he whoops me regularly at Uno.

* Dad at the holidays was hysterical. He always acted like he could care less, but he LOVED the holidays, mainly because he loved tormenting us. Let's see: 1) When we were old enough to sleep in, he loved coming in and ripping the covers off our bed or turning the light on because "Mama was too excited and wanted us to open gifts". 2) Every year, he threw gifts in the tree for us to find--and did this even after Troy and Anaka were born so this went on for years. My sister and I couldn't wait to finish opening so we could see where the gifts landed. And yes, after hearing this story, I have to do this for my boys every Christmas. I just can't wait until I can make it a real challenge :) 3) He always swore he never bought anything for Mom and would cause my sister to panic because she knew Mom would be devastated if Dad didn't get her anything. She even bought an extra gift and would wrap it "just in case". He never failed though (although his gift was almost always a candy dish--sorry Mom, had to throw that in there). 4) And oh man how he used to torture us when we were kids. He would go hunting and would always tell us he shot Rudolph. and 5) I swear he would find his gifts early and know what was in each one. I remember Mom smacking his arm all the time when he would "guess" what the gift was.
Sure, he hated the holidays......(hope you can sense my sarcasm)

* For a long time, I was the WORST gift giver. "I am not going to tell you what it is, but it's NOT a ____________" but I think they quickly figured out that it always was exactly what I swore it wasn't.

* I am going to really date myself with this one, but whatever. On Christmas Day, we always got together with my Dad's family. We just lived across the road from Grandma and the cousins came in from another county. So all the cousins would eat and visit for a bit and then they would ask what Jackie and I got. They really didn't care about anything but what fun Atari games they could play. We would then go back across the street and play Atari for quite a while. I will admit, the Wii is fun, but I do miss those Atari games!

Christmas has always been a lot of fun. It's hard since Dad and Grandma have passed but we are so lucky to still have so many relatives close by to reminisce and share with. Oh and Laura, get the spoons ready ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Am I the Only One?

For the past few years, I have noticed something. It's probably been this way for years but I never paid any attention until having kids but whatever. At our local (well, 30 min. away) mall, the Santa area is set up right by Victoria's Secret. Makes me wonder why they feel this is the best place? Sure, the kids see it when they walk by to other places, but am I the only one with boys particularly fascinated with half naked women? A little too fascinated for their ages, but maybe they are different?? I don't know since I haven't noticed it with other children before. Anyway, I guess I wonder if I am the only one who finds this odd? I would think they would want the Santa closer to more kid related stores or the kid's play area. I have a few theories though. 1) Having it near VS keeps men from grumbling too much when the kids want to go. I mean, the line today was SOOOO long so what better displays to look at, right? 2) The moms who stand in line for as long as they did today may look over and decide they should treat themselves to something nice since they just dealt with mad chaos for who knows how long? 3) A female decided on the location to show men what they *should* buy their wives.
The husband has his theory which makes perfect sense about how putting Santa near the stores geared towards adults is simply better. The kids are going to want to see Santa wherever he may be so putting it near these types of stores is just smarter. Period. Makes sense, so now I am changing my question to "Am I the only one who has children that are overly fascinated with a 1/2 naked female??? You should see them at the beach! (They have yet to see Santa at the Mall though--not because of this, but because I am too cheap to pay for the picture)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Making Snowman Pops

It's become a necessity to take treats to your child's class on his or her birthday so today was my turn. Troy is not a cake or cupcake child. He loves the idea, proceeds to eat the icing, then say "Mommy, I don't like this" and throws the rest away. It makes me cringe everytime I see all that food go wasted and I personally don't want to eat every single one that he or Will (who is the exact same way) throw away. I wasn't sure what to do and came across Snowman Pops in Parents magazine. They are oreo cookies, marshmallows and vanilla and chocolate coating. PERFECT! However, I am not great at reproducing these awesome ideas I see so I enlisted some help from the husband. We tackled this chore Sunday afternoon. Yes, we passed up watching football so you know just how important this was for us!
What you need:
Mini chocolate chips for making eyes and mouth
Orange candy or orange icing for nose
Large Marshmallows for hats
Vanilla Candy Melts or Vanilla CandiQuick
Chocolate Candy Melts or Chocolate CandiQuick
Lollipop Sticks
Foam Block
1) Melt the vanilla candy melts as directed and dip the oreos in it to completely cover. I did this by hand and smoothed the edges/adding more coating as needed with the back of a spoon. Set on wax paper. Add the chocolate chips to eyes and mouth while it's setting so that they set into the coating. Trim the orange candy or apply the orange icing to make the nose

2) To make the hats, melt the chocolate candy melts (I used a fondue pot). While melting, twist oreos to separate the 2 halves. Set them out filling side up (I applied vanilla candy coating to those that twisted off with no icing) on wax paper. Dip marshmallows in chocolate to completely cover, let excess drip off and then place on top of the cookie while wet. Shake on white snow (you can use powdered sugar or white nonpareils) while wet.

This is where it got hard for me and the husband had to take over as he's much more patient and steady handed than me!
3) One at a time, dip the tip of the lollipop stick in the melted vanilla coating (you will need to reheat and stir in 15 sec intervals as needed). Dip the end of a cookie in the coating and then "insert" (It doesn't really go into the cookie, but more the candy "glues" the stick onto the cookie).

Set aside on the wax paper and let set (this doesn't take long at all). When all are finished and set, move to the hats.

Have foam block ready!
4) Dip the snowman head into vanilla coating (again, reheat as needed) and add the hat. Jay found that holding it upside down onto the hat to let the candy start to set was best. Then put into foam block to set. Repeat with all and voila!

Now, we had lots of candy left over and couldn't waste it so we just dipped more oreos in it, sprinkled with whatever sugar/nonpareils we had left and I took those as a special treat for the teachers/school staff! These were super easy and just as yummy!

Now a couple tips:
1) We thought that we could use a popsicle stick. It didn't work like shown, but I am thinking if you dip the stick in coating and the cookie in coating and set the cookie on the stick, it will "glue" together and save that step that I had so many problems with.
2) Someone said that Double Stuffed oreos would have been better LOL
3) Get some willpower because these are really good and you may find yourself with no treats for the class!
4) Don't put final products near A) a clumsy person (ie. like me as I knocked 3 hats off and Jay politely told me to find something else to do) or B) a 3 year old with no impulse control.....

Happy Birthday My 6 Year Old!

Dear Troy,
Today, we are celebrating your 6th birthday! Well, it's 1 of the 3 days we are celebrating your birthday as we are really drawing it out this year so enjoy every minute! These years have flown and it feels just like yesterday that I was in the hospital on a snowy Monday holding you in my arms that first time. That is a day I will never forget as it was one of the happiest in my life. You have made me a very happy and proud Mom and I hope you always know that.
You have had another wonderful year and have accomplished so much. I will admit that I was very nervous for you starting kindergarten since you were so anxious, but you have adjusted better than I could have ever imagined and I love seeing your excitement to go each day and hope that this continues! I love when you read me stories, when you show me what you learn in your specials, when you tell me all about your day and when you simply want to just sit with me and chill out after school. I will cherish these moments always ♥
Thank you for being such a sweet, caring child. Thank you for being a wonderful big brother and I thank God everyday that you are my son!
Happy Birthday Troy!
♥Some pictures from the past year♥

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Imaginary Friends

I can't believe I am telling this story but I feel the need because of something that happened today. When I was younger, I don't really remember how old, I, like many other children, had an imaginary "friend". Her name was Jennifer and she hung out with me quite a bit. That's not really all that unusual, but my "friend" was  a little different. You see, my sister used to pick on me and could get a little mean. Pretty much like all older siblings really. I still worshiped my sister regardless and wanted to be like her--in every way. Drove her nuts, but well, that's what baby sister's do, right? So anyway, my imaginary friend, Jennifer, was more of an imaginary little sister to me (I actually say now that she was an imaginary enemy) so I spent my time being mean, fighting, arguing and bossing her around. My family still makes fun of me to this day, which is why I probably shouldn't even be telling this but oh well. I had to explain so that people could appreciate today. After dropping Troy off at school, Will was playing. I was busy cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry but all of a sudden I heard him yelling. He was carrying on a full conversation with someone and it was mainly yelling and bossing. I asked Will who he was talking to and he said, "Just a baby". So I think Will is following in his Mama's footsteps and creating his own little sibling to boss around. Great. Let the teasing commence....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Showering Baby with Love--Get Creative!

I love love love love baby showers. I just love seeing all the beautiful outfits and cool toys or gadgets that others give. I love showering these tiny little babes with love and things they need or things parents could use.  I often hear comments that bother me though. "Showers are for welcoming a woman into motherhood and only for 1st children". "Why is she having ANOTHER baby shower? She already has 2 (or insert another number here) children." "She already has everything she needs so why is she having another shower?" "I swear some women have children just so they get gifts." (And yes, I really have heard someone say that) "I think it's tacky to have a shower for someone if it's their 2nd (or 3rd or 4th...) child". And so on and so on. These comments bother me because why is only the 1st child okay to shower with love? Why shouldn't EVERY baby be celebrated--regardless of the mother's situation? Remember, showers are about the baby who had no choice in the situation so why should the 3rd or 4th (or more) baby be slighted? And people who make the comments about the mother having children just for gifts, let me ask this. How many moms actually organize their own shower? Usually it's someone in their life that wants to do this for them. Now, there are some exceptions and you run across a mom who organizes her own or demands someone throw a shower for them, but that's a whole different post. What I am referring to are showers given out of love and kindness for whatever pregnancy this may be. Of course, the question still remains about gifts. What if the mother truly has everything they need? Well, then you just have to get creative. Here are a few ideas I have run across in my years of going to many showers. Maybe just maybe one will help you if you ever run into this issue!
1) The gift of the major (and truly very expensive) necessity. Find out the diaper brand the mom prefers to use and bring a package in the various sizes and a package of wipes. She's cloth diapering? No problem. Find out what she has or needs and you can add to their collection! Or do a GC for a site that sells cloths and accessories like Or get the supplies they need to launder them like Rockin Green soap.
2) Pamper Mommy gifts--Get the mom things that could help her relax or help her when the baby comes. Think spa type GCs with free babysitting if you are able(or money to pay a sitter). Plan to have someone come in and clean (if the mom is okay with this) or again, arrange for childcare if the mom prefers to do it herself (not that I know anyone like that.........).
3) This was something a friend of mine did and I thought it was awesome. Help the mom by giving the gift of ease. Prepare 1 or more meals ahead of time that can be frozen and then she or the hubby could just pop it in the oven for a yummy meal that required little to no effort.
4) Gift certificates for a photo shoot or GC to a site like Shutterfly or Snapfish. You know mom is going to appreciate the gift of pictures!
5) If you know the mom will relish some time out with hubby, think about GC's for a Date Night. Again offer or arrange child care, and get them a night out to eat or to the movies or whatever.
6) Does the mom like scrapbooking? Get an album and some supplies for her so she can do it without having to fork out the money. That stuff gets expensive so help her out!
7) As a person who loves books, the gift of books is always welcome. So get the baby started with a wonderful assortment--think board books, the classics and ones they will enjoy as they get into toddler or preschooler stage!
8) And these are some of the cutest things I have seen and I would have loved them for my boys to show growth month to month: Culpeper General. There are also some cute shirts for the expectant moms!
I am sure there are tons of other creative ideas out there so if you have other great ideas that aren't the "norm", share! We all know the basics, but what have you done or seen that would be an awesome idea???

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I Love Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for such a long time. As a child, of course Christmas was my favorite, but as I got older, I started looking most forward to Thanksgiving. There are so many reasons why and I know my family and close friends are thinking it has to do with the food (which is HIGH on my list of reasons why, but is not the main reason). Let's look at some of the other holidays.
Christmas--I love Christmas. It's fun and festive and exciting. Having children makes it even more exciting as you get to see it through their eyes. However, the true meaning of Christmas is often ignored. Sure, people go to church or see a play about the birth of Jesus and remember why we celebrate, but it's become so much more about getting the "right" gifts. What should you get this person or that person? Will your children be disappointed because you can only afford to get them 1 or 2 gifts when their friends are going to get so much more? Will this gift be meaningful enough? Is it the right size or will you offend someone (and yes, this has happened in my life)? Did you ship your gifts in time for people to get them on the holiday or will they even get there??? It becomes so much more stressful and people forget the joy of the season (yours truly included). Many people say that it doesn't matter and they will appreciate whatever they get but we ALL know people who complain about what they did or didn't get, so you know they not everyone appreciates the gesture.

Valentine's Day--I hate this holiday. Period. I personally would rather my husband say on Jan. 10 that he loves me and is so happy we met than HAVING to do it because of a holiday. I get the meaning behind the day but again, it becomes more about getting the "right" gift, doing the "right" thing. I worked in a Florist for a few years and this holiday was almost a joke. Poor men running in at 4:45 because they forgotten to order something early and having to take home a bouquet of yellow and orange carnations knowing their loved one was going to be disappointed. This is why I have always told boyfriends and of course, my husband that gifts are not exchanged. Period. Our anniversary is Feb. 15 and people who don't know me well always say that was horrible to do that to Jay. "Oh the pressure you put on him to get your VDay gifts AND an anniversary gift...." Got a secret for you--I don't believe in anniversary gifts either so he actually has it pretty good. All I ask is that we go out just the two of us and do something fun somewhere around our anniversary. To me, it's about quality time, not gifts.

Easter--pretty much the same as Christmas. The holiday can be so wonderful and a time for Christians to really celebrate and again, what happens? It turns into gifts and candy and what are we doing on Spring Break. The meaning of the season is pretty much forgotten. Not by everyone of course, but in general

Before I continue, let me say that I love the holidays. I enjoy the gift giving, seeing the excitement in my children's eyes and being together to celebrate. I love picking out things I think family and friends will enjoy. I am in no way a Bah Humbug person, no matter how it sounded, but in my opinion, Thanksgiving is simpy the most wonderful holiday. It's about being with family and friends reflecting on the many blessings in your life. A time to get together and eat some really yummy food (yes, I said it was a big reason, just not the main) and there is no pressure with gifts. It's about fellowship and that all important , quality time. Yes, I know that there are stresses associated with Thanksgiving, but if you look at the big picture, the holiday is just fabulous! I personally cannot wait for Thursday to spend time with my spectacular family, watching football, catching up with those I don't see often enough and just enjoying the true blessings in my life ♥ THAT is why I love Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 14, 2011

This 3rd week of November, I am thankful for....

Music and Laughter! And in our house, there is lots of it. My two boys absolutely love to dance and sing and just be silly whenever possible! Want proof? Here are a few examples of music in our home and lots of pictures of the boys just being silly ♥