Friday, April 27, 2012

Planning a party...and a trip

3 yr old Mia, birthday morning
On the spectrum of don't care to this is über-important and must be perfect, I think I fall somewhere in the middle.  As we're getting ready for Mia's birthday party tomorrow (again, at the park, weather and seating permitting!), I'm reminded of the first birthday party we had for Mia two years ago. I was all nerves and antsy; there was so much to do the week leading up to her birthday party I seriously wasn't sure how we'd accomplish it all. Since then, I've backed off quite a bit, and am learning what to make important and what to let be. For instance, while I want her to feel special and for the day itself to be special, since it's toddlers we're talking about here, I don't feel compelled to go to the ends of the earth making it look perfect. Sure, I'd love to post about it on Pinterest and having it look amazing and like it came out of a parenting magazine or Real Simple or something of the like, but it just ain't gonna happen. She's way more jazzed about the "cakes" (cupcakes) and bustin' moves at the park with her friends than my setting paper lanterns from trees and lysol-ing the picnic table.

Sometimes for these events, the to-do list feels incredibly long, but at this point we're down to the last minute things: the second batch of these "Reeses" cupcakes and I'm going to sub the frosting with this.  I tried the original sunbutter frosting and just wasn't loving it. Tasted like straight peanut butter on a cupcake, and while I could probably eat the cupcakes as so, I don't know how much of a hit they'd be at the party.  Sometimes, you just expect a little sugar (that one's for you, G-Unit).

Beyond that, the Gabester and I will be traveling northward this weekend to visit family and attend Mamaw's funeral.  It's a bittersweet trip, as they always are. I'm really looking forward to seeing my family and all, but I know various elements of it will be sad. I haven't really even mourned yet, because there's been a little girl's birthday to celebrate, a party to prep for, and items to coordinate before we leave.  One must always run through Target before such a trip as this. (Am I the only one who feels drawn to the aisles of Target before any "major" or minor trip??)
In years past, flying with an infant by myself at this stage in the game would've really rattled me.  Maybe it's because it's Gabe, or maybe I'm just a little more confident, or maybe I'm starting to realize for everything in parenthood: whether it be molars, the terrible twos, or an inconsolable babe on plane--none of it lasts forever.  That's both a comfort and a sad truth, so I'm taking it for what it's worth.

Greg will be with the Mia-meister completely on his own for more than 24 hours -- I believe this is a first. I have no question they will conquer it just fine, but having your other half gone for what seems like days on end with the tall task of taking care of a spunky 3 year old, well, that can seem daunting too. I'm sure they'll be fine and hopefully have loads of fun.

Well, laundry and last-minute packing are calling my name.  For now, I bid you, adieu.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Happy birthday, Mia, and goodbye, Mamaw.

Dancing, making noodles, cookies, and pie. Laughing, sunning, spending days at the Lake. Riding in a bumpy car, sewing, crafting and playing with Mamaw's toys and thinking she'd always be 63 (and I'd be 4). Life opens and closes so many doors. While we celebrate Mia's 3rd birthday today we also say goodbye to Mamaw Jones who passed peacefully last night surrounded by her children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Right now...

...If you were to take a peek into our house, you'd see me propped up on the loveseat, Gabe sleeping in his swing (now moved into his room), and the door to our garage open, with a little fan rigged up on the trash can whipping around some fresh air so that Mia, who fell asleep on the ride home from the mall, can get some peaceful shut-eye after a couple of busy days.

It's been a crazy chaotic and FUN month of April. There have been a few curveballs thrown in, like the passing of Greg's maternal grandfather last week, whose funeral he attended earlier this week in KY.  I barely knew him as Greg did, obviously, but from everything I know he was a top-notch man. From what I've been told, I'm so glad we chose Gabe's middle name from him (Charles).
There's also been the gradual decline of my maternal grandmother's health and hospice care was called in for her just a couple of weeks ago.  In some ways we're kind of waiting on pins and needles to hear the news, but life is a constant swirl of activity regardless, and amidst these sad truths, we've been busily moving along.

For instance, Mia turns the big 3 tomorrow. In some ways it doesn't seem possible, but when I look back at the person I was 3 years ago and who I am now, I feel very different, so I know even though it's hard to utter the words, "I have a three year old," something has changed within us that helps me understand how to mark this time: growth.

Mia at about 1 month
3 years ago on this day Greg and I were having fun, hardly realizing this would be the last day of just the two of us. We put off a trip to IKEA in Orlando since they didn't have the piece of furniture we wanted, and opted to drop some items off at Laura Hinely's "y-art" sale, and ended up that night at 5 Guys with Jackson and a friend, stopping off at Lowe's on the way home.  We read some pages from the Bradley book and went to bed quite late for us, especially on a Saturday night.  Little did we know just a few hours later we'd wake up to the start of contractions, and life, as we knew it, would never be the same again.

It is hard to imagine life any other way now. It's gone through so many ups and down for the 3, now 4 of us, and I know it will continue that way.
photo credit: Laura Hinely

Right now, I'm just enjoying the bliss that comes from a growing toddler and a chubby baby.  We're busy with family & friends, living in a great place and who knew -- running into TWO different Rays players two days in a row. Greg ran into Ben Zobrist yesterday at the airport (same flight even!) and I ran into Matt Joyce at the Apple Store at International Mall. If my iPhone hadn't been in the process of being replaced, I'd have totally requested a picture with him. It's not every day you run into a Rays player.  Or every two days.  If tomorrow we met Carlos Peña, I'll know something is up!

Well, Mia woke up, so I must rescue a probably sweaty toddler from her carseat nap.  Meal from the freezer tonight? Check.  Peace.  See you on the other side of 3 years old!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


If "necessity is the mother of invention," then I really needed this meal.

In the middle of the afternoon on Monday, Greg texted me and said something about dinner. Guys are good for that, reminding you that come a couple of hours, we're going to need to eat.  Sometimes I get a little caught up in my day that despite all my best intentions, I don't get started on dinner early enough and it's a mad dash to get something hearty on the table.  I was afraid Monday was going to be one of those days but I knew I had a few things in the fridge & freezer that might work.  Like a package of chicken thighs.  LOTS of apples.  And some leftover uncooked green beans from Easter.  

So I went to town and scanned through one of my favorite recipe books, Everyday Paleo, and finally settled on Pecan Crusted Chicken.  It definitely helped that I already had all the main ingredients (good sign).  Then I remembered another tasty dish with apples I had made just the other week: Fried Apples.  And for the beans, I boiled them and then sautéed the beans in bacon fat with green onions, and added a little salt & pepper.
It was a pretty simple meal, that despite my lack of planning, really came together. You'd have thought I even meal-planned it, but I didn't.  And it was one of my most popular Instagrams.  Go Figure.

And now, after that brief interlude of food immodesty, and also sort of feeling like Beth in Little Women spieling about recipes, I must go.  Just for a little bit.

I'll check back in on you all later.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


A dear friend of mine had her baby girl tonight. She was a few days overdue and experienced a 40 hour labor, putting my piddly 8-12 hour labors to shame.  But it is her first child and a girl, and I'm so excited for her. There's something about discovering your baby as they are born that is priceless, unmatched by anything else in this world.
Kids on a chair
(Every caption written in this format is scripted in the
"Snakes on a plane" vibe)
Ironically, she's the friend who spurred this post, which was one of my most popular posts last year.  And little did she know that just a couple of months after that post, she'd be finding out she was having a baby of her own!  God certainly works in mysterious ways...

The more I live, the more in awe I am of the system God designed for us here on earth.  It is no longer perfect, indeed it has been tainted by sin and by man's foibles, but God still designed something marvelous on earth, where things that we cannot even see work together in harmony to create the right balance for us.  It is more often when we interfere that we ruin the process.

Which is why getting back to basics, simplifying (in all things!) and trusting in Him when I do not understand are becoming more important to me now.  Definitely the hardest part is letting go of my grasp on earthly things...

Ahhhh, babies.  The thoughts they don't even realize that they stir!

And now I have broken my personal rule not to post anything after 10pm, as it usually makes no sense and is overly dramatic.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some vids of the kids

Not sure how/why these videos got so blurry when I uploaded them, but hopefully you can still catch the gist.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Organized in the brain, not so much every where else...

I remember during one of my fabulous conference night sessions in elementary school a teacher telling my parents I was very organized. I was very proud, if even a little mystified by this report (I was?), but it was my parents' reaction that was even better. "Wait, our child?" I can almost see them now as they peered over to look at me as if to confirm there wasn't another child sitting next to them during the conference session.

Of course, they were slightly teasing because they didn't want to shoot down a) what the teacher said or b) completely embarrass me, but they knew at-home-tidiness and organization weren't my strong suits.  They still are not, in various areas, but I do keep a lot of information organized and swirling around in my head.  I'm still figuring out so much about how I best work as I grow, but I know putting pen to paper is MONUMENTAL for me and pivotal in getting things done, i.e., list-making.  Give me a list or a chart to follow, something that makes sense and seems logical, and points to an overall goal, and I'll go with it. If I understand where I'm going (track girl, where's my finish line?) it really helps me pace myself.

Well, there's a lot going on this month. Our tiny big girl Mia is about to turn the 3!, there's a community garage sale, parties, special Easter events, etc., that will be keeping us and our home busy.  With another tiny tot in tow (I'm looking at you, Gabe), things get even more messy or just plain cluttered, which is why I'm looking forward to this challenge by the Money-Saving Mom:

Putting it out there on the blog will keep me accountable. Dare I take actual pictures of my progress?  Hmm...
We shall see.

For now, I'll leave you with a couple of my favorite pictures from last week:
playing in the crib - I did not leave them there for long!

waking up after a nap -- he's the sweetest!

Wish me luck!