Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pictures of Christmas

Well, it's obviously not Christmas, but Jillian and I went to the Kennedy Krieger Festival of Trees on Friday, and it sure felt like Christmas!

I go mostly for the crafts. I stocked up on dip mixes, got a cashmere scarf for $10, and picked up a Christmas present, too. We also learned that Jillian is definitely NOT going to sit on Santa's lap this year. The first time we tried, it was at the end of a long day, so we thought she may have just been at the end of her rope. This was not the case, and Santa is, in fact, terrifying. The scariest thing she has ever seen apparently. Oh well, there's always next year.

I dressed Jillian in one of her Christmas dresses (I got three for her at a consignment sale for a whopping $12 total) in hopes of getting some seasonally appropriate cute pictures. Ahem. That being said, I did a little cropping and editing and ended up with two that are pretty cute, if I may say so myself!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What I Learned This Week

I've been neglecting the ole blog over the last couple weeks, and as you read what I learned this week (and last...), you'll know why.

Over the last couple weeks I've learned more about early pregnancy problems than I ever knew before.

A couple weeks ago, I learned that I was pregnant. After my first round of blood tests, I learned that my beta protein levels were low. After my second round of blood testing, I learned that they weren't rising very quickly. After my third round of blood tests, I learned that I may have an ectopic pregnancy.

And on and on. By today, I've learned that the pregnancy was not ectopic, and that my beta protein levels are decreasing = miscarriage.

Since we identified a problem very early on, I'm not heartbroken, just disappointed.

I learned that if you are prepared for the worst case scenario (in this case, ectopic pregnancy), news of an early pregnancy miscarriage isn't as devastating as it might have been.

I also learned that American Radiology won't allow you to take your toddler back in the ultrasound room with you, and that you have to have someone with you to watch your little one while you're having your procedure done. Thank you Lisa for coming to my rescue!!

I learned that friends and family are wonderful to have and a support network is SO important!

I also learned to be grateful. Despite the miscarriage, my stepson's grandmother lost her battle with cancer this week, and I'm grateful that I have my family and we're in relatively good health.

So that's what's been going on in our world.

I'll probably still be a little blog slacking this week, with the holiday coming up, but should be back to the "regularly scheduled program" next week.

Head over to Musings of a Housewife to read about what other bloggers learned over the week!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

2 out of 3 isn't bad...

Yesterday turned out to be a bust for us because of some last minute things that came up, so we didn't get to visit the zoo. :-(

Today, since Daddy had a meeting in the morning, I decided to take Jillian to the movies for the first time. Back in October, we went to the Baltimore train museum and checked out Disney's "A Christmas Carol" Train Tour. One of the movie theaters near us was showing the movie in 2-D, and had an early showing (10:10am), so I thought we'd try out the movie-going experience. For those of you that are local, Cinemark Egyptian 24 (formerly Muvico, at Arundel Mills) has an early bird movie special where tickets are just $6 each!!

We arrived just before the previews started, and I admit, Jillian was restless during the previews. Like any determined mom, I bribed her with M&M's. She settled down as soon as the movie started. And sat quietly through THE WHOLE MOVIE. There were a couple scary parts where she held on to me or covered her eyes, but she did great! And I really enjoyed this interpretation of A Christmas Carol.

This afternoon we were scheduled for our Christmas pictures at Target. That went pretty well also. We got a great family portrait, a couple good pictures of Jillian alone, and our Christmas cards ordered. I tried to snap some pictures of Jillian in her pretty Christmas dress at home before we left.

Since she was all dressed up, we decided to take her to see Santa and have dinner at the mall afterward. We got there just after Santa's dinner break (or break to "feed the reindeer") and were third up in line. She was very excited about Santa; until we got to within six feet of him. At which point she started clinging to us, shaking with fear, and crying. The closest we got was her touching the fluffy ball at the end of his hat while Daddy held her. Santa last year made her wary, but the Easter bunny was her absolute favorite. We'll try again before Christmas, but my hopes aren't high for a Santa picture this year.

I guess two out of three isn't bad on the day, though!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tot School!

I feel like we had a tough time carving out time for tot school last week, and unfortunately, this coming week's schedule doesn't leave room for much more. :-(

This week was "H" week.

We watched "Heidi" which we checked out of the library and Jillian was completely into! Too bad the DVD was scratched and we could only watch about half of it. :-(

We read books about being happy and being helpful, and learned the word "help".

We spent time playing with some of our favorite learning toys this week, too. The stacking rings are always a fun time!

And Jillian helped mommy rake twice (when it wasn't raining...)!

Then it was time for Jillian's driving lesson! Just kidding ;-)

Jillian got a lot of phys ed this week. Saturday we went to my stepson's Cub Scout Pinecar Derby and were there for what felt like for.freakin.ever. Luckily the gym at the school was open and Jillian spent probably three hours running around and around the gym. I was worn out just keeping an eye on her!

Phew. This week will be pretty minimal with the Tot School too I fear. Jilly is spending tomorrow night at her Granny's house so we can go to a business dinner and then I'm getting a haircut and have a doctor appointment Tuesday morning. Babysitting Wednesday and Thursday. I do hope the weather holds out - we have a field trip planned to the zoo with some friends on Friday!

For some much more awesome Tot School posts, head over to 1+1+1=1 and see what other families are doing!


We were outside this afternoon raking more leaves and our neighbors from across the street came over bearing gifts!

They brought Jillian a tricycle:

and a big girl bike with training wheels:

Their daughters have both well outgrown them and they thought we'd like to have them. And they were right!

Can you tell which one Jillian is more excited about?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Leaves Have Fallen

Well, mostly. There are still plenty left to fall. But earlier this week, the ground had dried out enough so that we could do our first round of raking. And it's a good thing we did, because it feels like it's been raining again ever since. Boy does it seem like it's been a generally rainy year!!

Jillian got to help me rake with the little rake. She did a great job!

Then she discovered the pleasure of jumping into the big pile and playing in the leaves!

Hopefully we get some dry weather again soon. But until then - happy fall!!


I need some ideas, folks. The past two years we've sent out photo cards for Christmas, and we try to do something a little quirky. Not crazy-off-the-wall-quirky, but just a little different than a traditional family portrait.

I have an idea rattling around in my head for this year's but I'm not totally sold on it. And we're getting our pictures done next Saturday. So I've got about a week to figure it out and get our outfits together.

To give you an idea, here's what we did last year:

And here's what we did the year before (which clearly got mixed reviews...):

I thought some of you bloggers and blog readers out there might have some good suggestions, so I thought I'd throw it out there. What do YOU think we should do for our Christmas picture card this year?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - November 9th

I'm a little late on getting this menu plan together today, but I know if I don't do it I'll be floundering to prepare something come Wednesday night. So here goes!

Sunday - leftovers
Monday - steak and sweet potatoes
Tuesday - dinner out (hooray for coupons!)
Wednesday - Pacific Chicken in the crockpot (never got around to this one the other week)
Thursday - meatloaf and mashed potatoes
Friday - pizza at MIL's
Saturday - Chicken Cheese Chowder

Looking for great ideas for your menu this week? Head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie!

Friend Makin' Monday - Candles & Scents

This week, for Friend Makin' Monday, Amber asked about our favorite candles and scents. Since I just totally candled out over the last week, I thought I'd jump in!

Bath & Body Works (or White Barn Candle Company) sells my current favorite candles. The brand is Slatkin & Co., and I've found their small jar candles (4 oz.) are my favorites. I discovered them a year or so ago when we put our house on the market. I picked up the Creamy Caramel to burn in the downstairs basement and it scented two levels of our house!

Just a couple weeks ago, there was a sale on these candles: 2 for $10. Which is pretty good considering they normally go for $9.50 a pop (which no matter HOW good they smell is just TOO much I think). And I had a 20% off my entire purchase coupon. So for $16 I picked up four. Yum, yum, yum!

The scents:


Spiced Cider

Vanilla Caramel

Kitchen Spice

Find out about some more favorite candle scents and make some friends by joining in over at Amber's blog!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tot School!

This week, we extended "F" week through Monday, since we were planning a visit to the National Aquarium with our friends to see "fish"! It was a great visit and Jillian seemed to really enjoy the fish, and the turtles, and the escalators, and the moving sidewalks! You can read more about our fun visit here and here if you're interested.

Our "G" week activities were pretty limited since we babysat all day Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday Jillian went down to my father-in-law's house for the weekend.

But we did get in some good "G" book reading:

We also watched "Goonies" which may seem a weird selection for a toddler, but Jillian loves it for some reason. It has a few bad words in it, so I think in the very near future it may have to go away....

Jillian got to do some rock climbing in historic Ellicott City, and then we attended a free session of "Mother Goose on the Loose".

I got out the pom-poms for Jillian one evening this week again, and she enjoyed playing with them as much as the last time. This time I got out her science toys that came from Chick-Fil-A kids meals, which I thought were pretty neat. So yes, that is a plastic graduated cylinder she is playing with....

I also picked up this fantastic Melissa & Doug peg/block stacking train. At Macy's. Because when cleaning a few weeks ago, I ran across an unused $25 Macy's gift card. Score! She has loved playing with this since I bought it Wednesday.

Last week was cool, but mostly sunny, so we spent a good deal of time outside. Besides the rock climbing, we played at one of our favorite playgrounds and did some walking in the leaves. Jillian loved running and crunching through the fallen leaves!!

This week ("H" week) may be a bit less than organized also, since I have some more continuing ed to complete for my funeral directors license on Tuesday and we babysit again on Wednesday and Thursday, but I'm hoping we can still fit some good activities in!!

Head over to 1+1+1=1 to see what more awesome bloggers are doing in Tot School!

A Weekend Away

This past weekend, John and I used our birthday gift from his dad: a two-night stay at a hotel of our choice and babysitting!

We chose to stay at the Hotel Helix in Washington, DC. It was a bit funky and trendy for us, but the service was nice, it was reasonably priced, the bed was super comfortable, and it was near the restaurant/bar that we wanted to visit over the weekend.

Friday night we went to Churchkey DC, a newly opened bar/restaurant just around the corner from the hotel that has a menu of 555 beers (500 bottles, 50 taps, 5 casks). And if you know me, you know that that sounds pretty close to heaven for me, since I am a beer LOVER. We tried a variety of beers. We sampled the food, which was also very good. It got quite crowded as the night went on; I'm glad we got there a little after 4pm, shortly after they opened. A note for any of you that want to check it out...many of the beers are high in alcohol content. I counted. 38/55 of their tap/cask beers were rated at 6.0% ABV and up. And I mean WAY up. The nice part is that you can order a 4oz. glass of any of their beers at a lower price and still get to taste a lot of them. Here is a list of what we got to enjoy. I tried to write them all down!

Duck-Rabbit Wee Heavy Scotch Ale (John)
*cask* Peak Organic Espresso Amber Ale (Mel)
Bell's Rye Stout (John)
Dogma (Mel)
Two Hearted Ale (John)
Bashah (Mel)
*cask* Olivers ESB (Mel)
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen (John)
Troegs Java Head (Mel)
Aventinus (John)
Rogue Mogul Madness (John)
*cask* Ola Dubh Special 18 Reserve (Mel)
Smuttynose Baltic Porter (John)
Vertical Epic Ale 09.09.09 (Mel)
Otter Creek Russian Imperial Stout (John)
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron (Mel)

Friday night while at the bar, my cell phone breathed it's last breath. So Saturday, we found a Verizon Wireless store, and with a little persuasion, we were able to get me an upgrade to the new Droid by Motorola. Score! I'm still figuring it all out, but so far, I'm liking it. I especially liked the walking maps feature, which we used during our many hours we spent walking around yesterday. Oh yeah, and I downloaded an awesome Geocaching app (FREE!). I'm still trying to figure out how to turn off the audible notification when the phone is fully charged, since last night it randomly said "Droid" in it's robotic voice to us to let us know it was charged. Weird. I think I'm going to really enjoy this phone.

Today was spent sleeping in and getting back to my father-in-law's house to pick up Jillian. State Farm finally paid John for the blue truck that was totaled a while back and he had to clean all his tools out of it since they are picking it up tomorrow. And since the time change, daylight hours are severely limited in the afternoon.

Now I'm catching up on some Facebooking, Twittering, and blogging. I should be back in the swing of normalcy by tomorrow! Overall, it was a great weekend and my husband and I had some good, quality time together to reconnect and have fun, toddler-free! Thank you SO much Bubbie and Paw-Paw!!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I Think I Missed One!

Ever look through your blog posts and then realize you completely forgot to post about an event about which you totally wanted to post? I guess I thought I did it, because I did post some fall pictures of the corn stalks in this post.

Yep, I forgot one. Somehow it just slipped right through the cracks.

The weekend before Halloween, we drove up to River Valley Ranch for their Maize Fest, which of course, included a giant corn maze that sprawled over six acres.

Jilly rode on Daddy's shoulders for a lot of the maze navigation. I might add here that navigating was ALL him; I have a TERRIBLE sense of direction. If not for him, I might still be there, lost in that maze.

Jillian couldn't be contained for too long though, and had to check out the corn.

Here she is walking the maze.

Climbing up to the bridge to cross over to the exit!

We checked out the corn kernel "sandbox" afterwards, and that was fun!


And Jillian can NEVER pass up a pony ride. She was very impatient waiting in line...

Finally her turn!

The helmet was just a TAD big for her head.

So there you have it, my lost post!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

As Promised...

When we were trick-or-treating in Historic Ellicott City Saturday, Jillian saw the big rocks that line parts Main Street. Of course, she wanted to climb, but we were on a mission and it was crowded. So this morning, we headed back to EC for a free "Mother Goose on the Loose" session a Little Sunshine Trading Company, and I let her do that rock climbing beforehand. I was hoping to get some good fall pictures of her.

Here is how it went. Who needs a playground when you've got big rocks?!?

Monday, November 2, 2009

What I Learned This Week

Yep, you guessed it. It's "WILTW" time again!

I learned that Jillian likes candy. I know, no huge surprise that a toddler would like candy, we just hardly ever give it to her.

I learned that I still love Pixy Sticks and can sit and eat them. Indefinitely. Really. I've just put down more than 15 and am no where near done. YUM!

I learned that even when a Fantasy Football win looks out of reach, it ain't over til that Monday night game is over. Woohoo!!

I learned that Jillian can be social when she wants to be. At the aquarium today, she held the hand of the little boy we were with and even gave him a hug. All on her own! It was very cute.

I learned that I can't get terribly excited about a weekend away when there are three days and some toddler packing between now and the time that our "date weekend" starts. When we check into the hotel, I'll get excited.

I learned that jellyfish aren't just blobs of goo that freak you out in the ocean. They can be truly beautiful! Just look at these guys!

Well, that about covers it for me this week. Head over to Jo-Lynne's blog to read more about what folks are learning!