Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mom Fail...Almost

We visited Santa at Columbia Mall before Thanksgiving, and afterward, made a quick stop in the Disney Store (Jilly's favorite place). There she saw a ton of things that she wanted for Christmas, but she grew really attached to Shenzi (the Whoopi Goldberg character hyena from the Lion King).

Obviously, I told her that NO we weren't going to buy it, and that she could put it on her list for Santa. Big mistake. On Black Friday, I went online to the Disney Store to see what wish list items of hers I could pick up and what good deals I could score. Shenzi - SOLD OUT. My mom looked at the Disney Store at the beach for it (since she's out there this week)...SOLD OUT. I just got off the phone with the four closest Disney Stores...SOLD OUT. Dagger. When you ask Jilly what she wants for Christmas, this is the first thing she lists. And I keep asking, hoping it'll drop in position on the ole wish list. No such luck.

I went online to, my last hope. And they have list a store selling them! Only ONE left. So I bit the bullet and bought it, for about $10 more than the Disney Store sold them, and had to pay shipping since it's a third party store selling through Amazon. But...PHEW!!!

I won't be completely relieved until I see it on our doorstep, but fingers crossed that all will go as planned and Jilly will be able to unwrap the prized hyena on Christmas morning!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Weird Weather

Besides enduring a very wet early fall, we've now been experiencing unseasonably warm weather. Now, I'm all for mild temperatures, but post-Thanksgiving days shouldn't post temperatures nearing 70 degrees in Maryland. The summer clothes have been put away. I'm ready for my fall clothes. I don't know how to dress me comfortably. I don't know how to dress the kids so they don't get sick. Blah, blah, blah.

After we picked up Jilly from her preschool program today, we went for a walk on the Patuxent Branch Trail that connects Columbia to Savage.

Jilly always loves looking out at the water...

Jess is pretty interested in it too...

Love this picture of the girls walking/running together...

One of several self portraiture attempts...these just get worse and worse...

Jilly is still a climber...

One last attempt for a self portrait...

I love that the girls are now old enough for me to let them both walk and not bother with the stroller for, well, strolls. If I'm out for exercise, they still both get thrown in the stroller, but for some fun outdoor time, I can set them free!

A Real Tree!

We've been putting up artificial trees for Christmas over the past, at least, four or five years. We bought a pretty nice a year or so before Jillian was born, and after that Christmas put it in storage, since it's pretty big. For Jillian's first Christmas, we bought a smaller, narrow tree that we put up inside the pack-n-play to keep the toddling one away. And we've used that "Charlie Brown" tree each year since.

Maybe it's this unseasonably warm weather that's made me want to be outside, but I got the urge to go get a real tree for Christmas this year. And not just go buy one, but grab the family and have John cut one down for us. We trekked out to Gaver Tree Farm, where we picked pumpkins earlier in the fall, and picked ourselves out a Canaan Fir.

It was really a good experience. Even John said he didn't mind it so much. When we got there, they had a sample of each type of tree. They directed us to the right field once we decided which type of tree we wanted. We borrowed one of their saws and a tree cart and headed over to pick out a tree. John and Josh cut it down, we hauled it back to the barn, they shook and wrapped it up for us, and we paid. It was nice because the trees are priced by type of tree, rather than by type AND size. So $40 for the tree seemed pretty reasonable. And we have a luggage rack on the new family-mobile that made it easy to get home.

Considering the prospects...

Finding the 'right one'...

Too busy for a picture...

Getting ready to take it down...

Putting the boy to work...

The girl who doesn't want me to take pictures of her anymore...

Jilly 'helping' to push the tree cart...

Guess I'll have to post pictures of it once it's decorated. I've had it in three different locations and think I have found the best place for it now!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

After the last couple years, this word has been my self-imposed mantra: gratitude. Because we’ve had a tough couple years. It’s hard to remember to be thankful in the midst of a struggle, or struggles. But here are some things I’m thankful for this year, and why.

Family – my older cousin and his family moved out of state this summer, my grandmother is aging and after a pretty bad fall has had to be moved into an assisted living facility, where she is not particularly happy. But we’re fortunate that we all get along pretty well, love each other, and that John and I still have our immediate family all within about an hour’s drive of us. What a great thing for the kids to be able to see all their grandparents on a regular basis, and what an awesome help it is to us for them to be near!

Friends – though I don’t get to spend time “out” with my friends the way I did B.C. (before children), we were able to celebrate our birthdays this year with friends that we haven’t seen in a long time. It was a great evening, and even though I don’t “see” my friends all the time, having sites like Facebook have really helped me keep in touch with people WAY more easily than I would have been able to otherwise.

Faith – some of the ministries of which I’m a part at church have faced some pretty big challenges this year. And some of those challenges are still being worked through. But I’m grateful that I have the freedom to worship when, where, and how I choose, and even more thankful to be part of a loving church community that pulls together when things get tough.

Finances – have been tight, to say the least, over the last couple years and we’re not out of the woods yet. But over and over we’ve been blessed with the ability to make ends meet, and after losing several jobs during 2011, John has been able to time and time again find work. We’ve been blessed with means to purchase a new vehicle this year, as my aging Mazda started having problems. And we’re blessed to have family that is local and willing to help out with the kids so that I have the freedom to seek out part-time employment.

Health – the girls and I have been battling colds, John has asthma and needs new glasses, and we have back medical bills to deal with from a HUGE deductible self-insure plan that we had while I was pregnant with Jessie. But we finally have a good, employer-sponsored health insurance plan and we’re relatively in good shape. I found out over the two weeks that I now a second friend whose child is battling cancer.

Our Immediate Family Unit – like every family unit, we have our issues. I try to remind myself that when I get frustrated with my husband, there are those whose loved ones have turned on them, whose spouses have passed away, either at an old age or have died an untimely death. So when I see dirty dishes in the sink and not in the dishwasher (LOL), I feel fortunate to be blessed with a husband who loves me and does everything he can to take care of us. When we have to deal with a logistical or financial issue around the oldest and with his mother, I try to remember that we are extremely lucky that Josh is doing well in school, has a loving family, and John and his ex have a pretty decent relationship, and that there are parents out there who aren’t able to see their estranged children for different reasons. And most of all, when I hear a little one cry out for me in the middle of the night (AGAIN), or Jessie whining, or Jilly throwing a tantrum, I try to remember that there are women out there who have been unable to get pregnant, women who have been unable to bear children, parents who have lost babies, parents who have lost children of all ages. And I give my little ones an extra hug. Because I am SO blessed to have such a wonderful husband and children around me all the time.

It's nice to reflect on the "we haves" on days like today, rather than the "we wish we hads". And to give thanks!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween Weekend Activities

We had a pretty full and fun Halloween weekend. Made a trip to Ikea that Friday to pick up some decorative boxes in a feeble attempt to organize some of the stuff that used to live in our living room and no longer has a home since the living room makeover. For the first time, I checked Jillian into the kids play area and went about my shopping with just Jessie. It was heavenly. And Jilly had a fun time too! When I picked her up, they told me it was kids day and there was free face painting upstairs in the restaurant area. So up we went to check it out. I am glad we did. The lady did a great job, was very quick, and did I mention that it was free?!? Too bad Friday night wasn't Halloween...

On Saturday we went to a Halloween party at Jack's house. It random and unwelcome. Wrangled Jack, Henry, Jillian, and Jessica for a quick costume picture as is tradition, though it was a bummer that not more of the mom's group mommies could make it to the party. :-(

Sunday the snow was gone and the sun was out, so we carved some pumpkins. Now I am not the artistic one in the family, but once John showed me how to trace the pattern onto the pumpkin and carve it out, I loved doing it! I carved the Lightning McQueen pumpkin and we even went to the pumpkin patch to get more pumpkins so I could do a Rapunzel pumpkin on Monday!

Jillian drew some sidewalk chalk monsters while we carved pumpkins.

I took a minute to snap a picture of our rose bush out front that is still budding...thought it was pretty against the fall leaves and blue sky.

Jillian and Jessica enjoyed playing in the leaves. Now that Jess is fully mobile, getting pictures of them together that are decent of both of them has gotten increasingly more difficult.

I took one picture that turned out ok of the girls before trick or treating. Jessica wasn't having fun yet. Jillian was Barbie and Jessica was just Halloween-y. Because the lion I put her in for the party absolutely angered her. We went trick-or-treating on Main Street Ellicott City again this year, stopped by a friend's house in Ellicott City, grabbed a pizza at Domino's for dinner, and then Daddy took Jilly trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. She has a pretty good stash of candy.

Tuesday morning I took the girls for haircuts. Jillian hasn't had one since before Easter, and Jess has never had hers cut. We're scheduled to have Christmas pictures taken next weekend, so I figured it was about that time.

We went up to my parents' house Wednesday to see their cool Halloween decorations. Jessica was fascinated by them!