Finish the sentence ...

Well, I'm back at work today for the first time in a week. We let out at 1:30 p.m. last Thursday and have been "snowed in" due to a massive ice/snow storm since.
So, what better way to jump back in to things than with a link-up, right?
1. My favorite Christmas was....

Two years ago! I had a brand-new, squishy baby to love on. Funny enough, I didn't get any gifts that year. J and I had bought my car about a month prior and family had done so much for us in preparing for Cooper, so I asked not to receive any presents.

And talk about a baby changing things. As I would listen to songs on the radio like "Mary, Did You Know?" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" I would just burst into sobs, because it was totally how I was feeling. Mushy postpartum mom right here.

2. The worst Christmas I had...
I was about 13 years old and had the FLU. This after the year that I had the flu on the Fourth of July. And I think the year prior it was Thanksgiving weekend? I hated holidays for awhile there. Anyhow, I was sick but my parents still drug me around to family stuff, so I basically spent the day passed out in my cousins bed. No bueno.
3. That one gift that made me scratch my head and say, "Hmmmm" was...
A few years back, these crossbody "Ameribag" purses were all the rage where I live so I asked for one. Hubby bought one. In brown. I wear A LOT of black and really don't like to mix black and brown. I acted nice, but hubby could tell I didn't like it, and thankfully told me to go and exchange for a different color :)
Not sure what I was thinking, I would totally use this with a black outfit now!
4. One year I....
Put in a 10-hour workday on Christmas and it didn't bother me at all. I was a high school kid and loved the money :)
{I should also point out, in my family, Christmas Eve is a way bigger deal than the day of}
5. I think the worst gift to give is....
Generic stuff like candles (unless you know I really like candles.) One year my sister-in-law gave me a candle that I must have been allergic to because I sneezed the entire time it was burning. I just put a lot of time and thought into the gifts I give, so it irritates me when I feel like people are taking the easy way out.
6. At Christmastime I typically....
Bake and eat entirely too much! This year I am trying to cut back on the baking, but we'll see. I had the oven going half the day on Monday, and since I have two weeks off for Christmas this year, it may get ugly. I'm really trying to hold back on the oreo balls.
7. Typically, family Christmas....
Which family are we talking about? My in-laws kinda freaks me out because it's so disorganized and last-minute. My family's is amazing, we basically just show up, eat, play Dirty Santa and drink margaritas. Oh, and did I mention that we have built-in babysitters :)
8. If I could change one thing about the Holiday season....
It would be in the summer! I hate cold. Oh, and also the fact that we spend SO MUCH this time of year. Between C's birthday, our life insurance on our house being due, Christmas and property taxes, it's a rough time financially.
9. It is so hard to buy for....
My parents! I feel like they spend a fortune on us/Cooper and we can never repay it. {However, it wasn't like that when we were kids! They've worked hard and are enjoying life & spoiling us.} This year, I'm giving them a photo book of primarily Cooper, took my mom to dinner and a cooking show one night, will help my mom with some household projects one day, and then will also do a gift card to their favorite restaurant.
10. My favorite Christmas tradition is...
Since J and I have been together (I just realized this will be our 10th Christmas - holy geez!) we have never had "family" plans on Christmas. It's always been just the two of us and sure we host/drop in on others, but never any set plans. Now that we have our own family, I love this tradition. On Christmas morning, we get up and have the yummy breakfast pizza I make. Afterwards, we open gifts, which typically turns our living room into a tornado alley. Then we play with/put together gifts. I'm super excited this year because Cooper is getting some awesome stuff, and we will have a blast I'm sure. I mostly just love that we get to hang out in our pajamas all day.
Oh, and I almost forgot! We go to Hardees for lunch! We've done this for about 5 years, since it is the only place open in town that day. Ha!
11. Santa, baby, bring me a ....
Big, fat check so I can pay off my car and finish my basement. LOL! My list is pretty boring this year. I want a garment bag, pajamas, Garmin, and a few other small stuff I can't even remember right now. But hey, if he wants to surprise me with plane tickets for my Cali trip in April, that's all good, too!
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"Curious Coop"

When it came time to pick a theme for Cooper's birthday party, I knew I wanted to do tractors, Cars, or Curious George. I quickly realized that while we can do tractors pretty much forever and Cars for a few more years, this was probably the last year we could do a Curious George them, so I set out.

Problem is, there isn't a lot of Curious George stuff. So I heavily relied on Pinterest and Google to come up with ideas. I'll also say, this party truly was a labor of love. A lot of the decor, etc. was inexpensive, DIY things that just took a lot of time.

You already saw a few photos of the birthday boy in my post last week. Today, I'm going to share the mechanics of the party, and I'll be back soon with the "people pictures!"

Our house and basement are still under construction, so I was actually toying with the idea of not doing a party, until a friend with a dance studio said I could use the studio for basically the cost of electric. Not only did I not have to clean, I saved money because I didn't have to rent tables and chairs!

I should probably go ahead and add, my cousin did the invites, but I don't have PhotoShop on this computer and don't exactly want all of the deets blasted on the www.

I really wanted to focus on bright colors and keep the decorations simple. I found this idea to make the plates/cups like Ted's hat in a couple places online and on Pinterest. I actually just used black electric tape. Total added cost was 59 cents (since I had to buy plates and cups anyhow) and I love how it turned out. We also just bought the helium tank at Walmart to fill up the balloons ourselves :)

My usual cake lady was booked by the time I decided to do the party. After a little searching, I found on etsy where you can buy edible cake toppers and have them customized. It sounded easy enough, so I ordered one (cost less than $12 shipped) and we loved the final product!

Since I didn't know how many would come and if everyone liked chocolate cake, I did some lemon-flavored cupcakes as well. I found a seller on Etsy who made the round "stickers" for me and just sold me the digital file. I attached these to toothpicks. We also used these labels on the water bottles.

I love, love, love the idea of having a "guest book" at each party. Last year it was the baseball bat, so this year it was a collection of Curious George stories.  

 I found the template for George's head on a PBS website. It's actually for masks, but I shrunk it a bit (all in Microsoft Word) and cut out then glued on brown paper sacks I bought at Dollar Tree. They were filled with animals crackers, mini play dough, Curious George Fruit snacks, suckers and mini crayons/coloring books (Halloween clearance.) Dollar Tree was my friend when putting these bags together.

I decided on a morning party so it wouldn't mess with nap time, and also because we love breakfast. We had French toast sticks, two breakfast casseroles (one with bacon and one with sausage), bunches of bananas, my mom's banana bread and fruit. Drink choices were OJ, regular milk, chocolate milk and bottled water.

To jazz up the water bottles, I removed the labels, wrapped around yellow duct tape, the taped one of the stickers on top. Totally worth the time.

I'm very fortunate that one of my friends has an inflatable bounce house that she allowed me to borrow. We had it set up in one of the back rooms of the dance studio. The kids absolutely loved it. My dad kept busy making sure none of them got hurt either :)

I also wanted to set up a coloring table, with more free printables from PBS. This was quite a blessing, especially for the little girls as the boys were a bit rough in the bounce house. Thankfully, my mom has like a gallon bucket of crayons leftover from when we were kids, so I didn't have to mess with going out and buying crayons.

And that's the magic behind the party! I had so much fun planning! If you want any of the specific Etsy sellers I used, just ask!

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Mommy's Little Helper

Someone has decided that he really likes helping Mommy do dishes. He even pushes the chair over and climbs up himself.

I'm going to overlook the fact that I end up having to re-rinse them and stack them properly in the rack. He's learning.

I just hope he still likes helping in a few years!

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I need help

I'm stumped.

I have no idea what to get my babysitter this year for Christmas.

I think I've mentioned before, but my daycare is really more of a husband/wife team. So I feel like I need to give something that both of them will enjoy. Especially since "Mr. Jim" is one of Cooper's best friends. I can't tell you how many nights I walk in the door to find C sitting in Jim's lap while all the other kids are running around like hyenas.

Last year we did a gift card to a restaurant, with a value just over that of a normal day's pay, which I'm told is the going rate. Yes? I hate gift cards though, they seem so impersonal.

I know she likes cookbooks, so I thought of getting one of those and then doing a plate of my homemade goodies. But is that geared more toward her than him?

HELP! This is pretty much the last gift I cannot figure out!

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Cooper is 2!

Cooper turned 2 on Saturday, Nov. 23. I was thrilled that his birthday was on a weekend day, because we could have the party on his actual birthday, which I think is so special! More to come on the birthday soon (it will be at least two posts) but for now I wanted to do a little update on what's happening with our little 2 year old.

irst off, the lovely stats. You weigh 30 lbs. and are 34 inches tall - 75th and 60th percentiles, respectively. I was shocked that you are in such a high weight percentile, you still seem to be such a little bean.

You are a monkey! This month, you discovered how to get out of your crib. I was hoping it was a fluke, but now it's pretty consistent that you will climb out. So I guess we should probably transition to the toddler bed soon, just because it's safer. And figure out how to get you to stay there :)

You have come such a long way in terms of communicating and expressing yourself. It's now a lot easier for you to express what you need, want, etc.

Cooper, you have begun to be a bit of a picky eater. I know keep things like canned chili and ravioli, spaghetti-o's and such in the pantry so we have a back up in case you downright refuse to eat what we are having.

Chocolate milk continues to be a demand at our house. It's your absolute favorite and you refuse to drink plain milk for daddy and I.

Some of your favorite foods are beans, salad/slaw (I think this is crazy!), bacon, apples and noodles. You aren't a huge fan of bread anymore. You've developed a mild obsession with suckers as well! You aren't much on snacking, so eat 3 solid meals each day.

You are wearing 24 month and 2T shirts and primarily 2T pants, I don't like the way 24 months fit you. You are in a size 7.5 to 8 shoe.

We are beginning to work on potty training you, and you seem to be catching on. I am hoping to fully potty train you when we are home over Christmas break, hoping I can get a few solid days to focus on that and nothing else. I have bought you some "big boy" underwear and it's pretty adorable to see you wearing it!

This month you and Daddy met me in St. Louis for a work trip and you did well in the hotel, considering you are a little guy who likes to be on the move. You had your first trip to Hooters and the St. Louis Zoo.

You give great hugs and kisses. We've started "stealing" kisses from you, and you take your hand, act like you are "grabbing" one from our mouths, then place it in yours. It's adorable.

You are a daddy's boy. Actually a man's man, because I think you prefer your Pa Pa Sam over me - ha! Probably because he has tractors, which continue to be a fave, along with Lightning McQueen, Curious George, and "Mouse" AKA Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!

We like to play peek-a-boo. You cover up your eyes and we say "Where's Cooper" until you remove them while giggling uncontrollably.

You love to watch TV. You really love to roughhouse, especially with your best friend Asa at Mrs. Robin's.

You take about a two hour nap every afternoon. You are starting to fight us on going to bed, so most nights it's around 9 and you wake up between 6:45 and 7 a.m.

I seriously cannot believe you have been here for two whole years! It feels like it's flown by, and it also feels like we've been this little family of three forever. You make me a better person and have taught me so much. I don't know if I ever really  knew what love, pride or anything else like that was until I had you. You make me see the world through a totally different set of eyes, and I love that. I love you soooooo much and am so happy that God chose me to be your mommy.

XOXO, to the moon and back!



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Thanksgiving weekend

Hi friends! We had a fabulous Thanksgiving weekend.

It actually started for me around noon Wednesday, when we got an email that we were closed "effective immediately." Nice. By the time I got home and had lunch, J arrived home, so we got to work cleaning up around the house. Mid-afternoon, we took a little break.

For Christmas, my parents are buying us 1/4 of a beef, and it was ready, so we decieded to head up and pick it up from the processor, since we had cleaned out our freezer the previous weekend. We were kinda close on time, so we went ahead and picked up C. We had to stop at my parents for boxes, so my dad grabbed Cooper and decided to keep him with them while we ran to the processor. En route, I was looking through the Black Friday ads, and we decided to go ahead and run up to Cape to grab some items already on sale.

Once we got home, we did more prep work getting the house cleaned and food prepared, as we hosted Thanksgiving for my in-laws on Thursday.

Once the festivities were over, we had a short break before heading up to my uncle's for Thanksgiving dinner with my mom's family. We stuffed our faces yet again {calories don't count for holidays, right?} but then headed home decently early because J had to work the following day.

On Friday, after a bit of debating, I decided to brave the Black Friday crowds {with Cooper} and try to catch a few deals. I found all but one thing :) I think I'm down to only about five gifts to buy. Thankfully, the crowds weren't horrible, it was just my terrible little 2 year old.

That evening, I met a few girlfriends at a local winery for our ornament exchange and girl time. I shared my Christmas candy gift with the boys, and I think they enjoyed :)

Saturday was spent decorating around the house. I think I'm done. Cutting back a bit this year so the aforementioned terrible 2 year old doesn't break some priceless items.

And Sunday was just a reaally great family day. A wonderful way to end a wonderful weekend - Crazy "fashionista" kid wearing shorts on top of his jammie pants and all!

Coming up this week: Cooper's 2 year post! (Dragging my feet on this one, in case you can't tell :))



For the first time in several years, I did not partake in the "Thankful" series of posts on Blogger and Facebook.

It doesn't mean I'm not thankful. It's a lot of things. Life is so hectic right now. Not to mention the criticism I feel like I (and others) get for this because "we should be thankful all year."

{I am. It's just nice to really think about it for a month rather than take it for granted.}

So today, I wanted to post what I am thankful for. It may be 30, it may be more or less. Obviously there are many more than 30 things I'm thankful for. Like I said, to me, it's about really contemplating all of the blessings in my life.

  1. God and his amazing timing. So many times in life, I shake my head and am just amazed at how he takes care of every little detail.
  2. My son. He has brought so much joy and happiness to my life, and made me all the more grateful for all of my blessings.
  3. My husband. We by no means have a perfect marriage, but it's our ability to get past the hurdles that make it strong.
  4. My parents. After a very strained few years (before Cooper) we have been able to mend our relationship. I count on them for so much, and am grateful they are there to step in to help and support us any time we ask for it.
  5. A good job. There are things I would change (wouldn't we all!) but it provides well for me and my family, and I get to do something I enjoy and am very passionate about.
  6. Electricity. Tornadoes and such ripped through the area just over a week ago, and so many lost power. I can't imagine not having heat, a microwave, and so many other luxuries we have due to electricity.
  7. A great babysitter. Mrs. Robin and Mr. Jim are so great with Cooper and the other kiddos they watch, and he thrives there. Not only that, she is great about letting me drop off early if needed due to my crazy schedule.
  8. Our local Parents as Teachers program. We love getting verification we are doing things right, or ideas on how to raise our little.
  9. Our health. Other than the little colds, our entire family has been very healthy this year.
  10. Our family doctor. She is absolutely amazing and we love her to pieces.
  11. Great friends. These gals (and guys in J's case) are our biggest support system.
  12. Our home. It may not be luxurious, but it's perfect for us and gives us a ton of projects. We love living in the "country" but still being close to town.
  13. My car. It gets me where I need to be safely.
  14. My phone. It allows me to work mobile-ly, as well as keep in touch with my boys when I'm working late or out of town.
  15. A full fridge and pantry. Sure there are more processed meals than I would like in there, but we are fed. And nine times of of 10, we sit around the kitchen table to eat as a family.
  16. A closet full of clothese. I should never have problems choosing what to wear.
  17. I had such a great pregnancy with Cooper, and was able to nurse him for a full year.
  18. The Internet. It not only gives me information in a snap, it allows me to keep in touch with friends & family.
  19. Our dog, Coco. We love her so much, and she is Cooper's best friend.
  20. Cartoon movies, especially Cars. Sometimes mama needs a break, and that definitely distracts little man.
  21. Teething tablets. They work like a charm, every time.
  22. Great food - the product of being raised "southern" and on a farm.
  23. The fact that I was raised on a farm. I learned life lessons (and had chores and responsibilities) that are now invaluable.
  24. That my parents supported me and paid for my college education. I have so many friends that are still paying off student loans.
  25. The amount of activities and servies (a lot FREE) in our community. We have something to take advantage of nearly every weekend.
  26. Cameras to capture all of life's amazing moments.
  27. DVR that allows us to watch all of our favorite shows, but put more important things first.
  28. The wonderful benefits at my job. We get ample time off for holidays, and several sick/vacation/personal days each year. I have my insurance deductible reimbursed to me. It's a great, family-friendly environment.
  29. Clean drinking water. I sit here and sip my bottled water like it's nothing (and could drink from the fountain but it's HOT!) while others would be thrilled for that hot water from the fountain.
  30. Music. I can get lost in it ... and relate it to so many situations in life.
  31. Small business. They are so great to work with and go above and beyond to help!
  32. Internet shopping. It's a lifesaver for me a lot of times.

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Cooper :: 23 months!

Seriously? It's shocking to type that. I keep wanting to say "11 months" or "One month from turning 1." But my baby will be 2 in one month a couple weeks? Pretty unbelievable!

I've been a bad mom and not updated since he was about 21 1/2 months :(

You are very smart and according to our PAT coordinator, have already hit all of the 24 month milestones. You like stacking items. You also like to line things up - it's not at all uncommon to walk into the room and see all of your tractors in a row. Your daddy teased me that this may be a sign of autism {not funny!} but your PAT coordinator assures me that it's actually a sign of math skills. Go Coop!

You are getting in an attachment phase with your "possessions" and like taking your tractors, puppies and choo choos to bed with you. Some days, you get mad when we take off your clothes and just hug them.

Cooper, you love the outdoors. You could play outside all day I think.

You also love being in the middle of things. You are so observant and love to mimic us. And you try to help - which oftentimes turns into more work for your Daddy & I, but it's so hard to discourage you from pitching in - in a few years, we'll want your help and you'll want nothing to do with it!

You are such a manly little boy. You already are very aware that you are a boy and want to do everything other boys do. Sadly, that means Mommy sometimes isn't "supposed" to do things and you push me away. And it breaks my heart. Everyone tells me this is a phase and you will go back to being a mommy's boy, and I hope they are right, and this is a very short phase. It really hurts my heart when you push me away.

You have a great appetite! Per usual, you love anything tomato-y. We had chili a few weeks ago and I swear, you ate as much as I did. I buy the oatmeal squares for quick, easy breakfasts on the go (from Sams) and you really like them as a snack. Toast is a fave. You'll pretty much always eat fries. Anything beans and honestly, most fruits and veggies are great in your book, too.

Your vocabulary is starting to explode and we can have "conversations" now. You like to talk on the phone. Anytime Daddy or I aren't home, we are at "work." Ha! A couple weeks ago, you stayed with Grandma and PaPa since your babysitter was off, and the night you stayed, you had it in your head that we were at work, according to Grandma.

You are getting really good at waving, saying bye and blowing kisses. Thankfully, the separation anxiety seems to be behind us, as you now realize that we will come back for you.

You like drinking out of a straw. You really like ice - especially when we use it to cool down soups, etc. You like wearing hats and your boots (sometimes with only a diaper on other than those two pieces of clothing!) You really love tractors, and when we drive by an equipment lot, will yell "Tractor! Tractor! Tractor!" You also spot them in the fields when we are driving.

You're the best thing that's ever happened to your daddy and I. Thank you for choosing us. And stop being so mean, OK?

To the moon and back!





A must-read!

I don't think it's any secret that as moms, we struglle. We never feel like we are good enough. We always think someone is doing it better.

This morning was particularly trying. My child didn't want to be undressed. Then, all he wanted was Daddy. Once Daddy left, we got dressed but refused to put on our shoes. When we got to daycare and would usually be taking our shoes off, we wanted them on. And then proceeded to have a tantrum.

Ugh. It was definitely a morning that I breathed a sigh of relief once I was in the car and headed back to work.

Then while on Facebook, I came across this video/article. Go there, NOW. It totally helps put life in perspective. What matters isn't the expectations we set for ourselves, all that matters is what our kids think of us. 

I need to remind myself of that, almost every day. And you probably do, too :)

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Life Lately

I sorta just fell off the whole 31 Days thing, huh? I do still have a few things I want to write about, life has just gotten so busy. My little man is less than a month from turning 2 (EEK!) and I still have to put the final touches on that post, too. Not to mention I leave tomorrow for a three-day work trip in StL. So life is just a bit hectic right now :)

  • I've been mentioning how we are working on our basement, and things are moving along. Our builder says we will be in touch in the next week or two and I am ready!
  • Tonight, we are going to pick up the furnishings for the bathroom so hubby can begin installing the plumbing.
  • Sadly, we won't be able to have Super Cooper's birthday party at the house. However, we have a friend with a dance studio who said I could have it there for $20 rental. Seriously? I couldn't say yes quickly enough!
  • A little hint for the party ... To say I'm excited to execute this one would be an understatement.
Girl Curious George party
  • After a crazy running year (hot, allergies, etc.) hubby and I finally started running regularly about a month ago. To keep the momentum, I signed us up for a 5K that was last weekend. It was freezing ... like low 40s. But an excellent course, and I ended up with another PR of 28:33. Not to mention, I finished first in my age group. Yay! There is, obviously, still a lot of room for improvement, but I'm so proud of myself, the girl who, 1.5 years ago, couldn't run half a mile without thinking she would keel over.

  • Hubby signed us up for another on Saturday, through one of his accounts. It was only $10, so if we don't make it (and likely won't) it isn't the end of the world.
  • One of my best friends, Bel, has been training hard to run the New York Marathon this weekend. As part of running, she needs to raise a minimum of $5,000, for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Fund. Right now, she is at 72 percent of her goal. If you feel led, PLEASE make a donation to her HERE. Every dollar counts.
  • We are soaking up as much outside time as we can, since it's going to get cold so soon!

  • Last night while playing outside, my boy handed me this "rose." So sweet.

  • Our sitter was closed last Thursday and Friday, so my parents kept Coop. Since they are about a 30 minute drive out of my way, they kept him overnight. Therefore, hubby & I did a date night on Thursday! We went out to a nice restaurant, then over to Applebees for $2 drinks and to watch the rest of the Cardinals game.

  • Speaking of the Cardinals - I am really hoping we pull out Ws the next two nights and clinch the World Series.
  • Two weekends ago, we did family pictures, and I love them. Even though someone was a bit difficult. Can't wait to share all!