Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baby Names

No. I'm not pregnant. (Although my SIL is.)

As Little Man's first birthday approaches I've been thinking back to some of our best pregnancy memories. I instantly think about picking a name, and announcing the name to our family.

Picking a name for a child is one of the toughest decisions, to me, to make between deciding to have a child and their arrival.

We had some fairly normal requirements, like no names that make weird initials or initials that could be awkward later in life like PMS, LOL, SNM.

We also wanted a name that wasn't super common, but one that teachers wouldn't mess up the first day of school. I spent some time playing with the baby name wizard. I loved how you could type in just a few letters and even without the full name it started to chart the popularity of names that were similar. (If you haven't seen it, this thing is really cool, just to put in your own name and see how popular it was at different points in time.)

Another idea was that either the first or middle name come from a family member.

We also wanted to include the future big sister in the discussion - and she had some great ideas.

1. Flip
2. Flop (Named after our fish at the time.)
3. Fiona
4. Shrek
5. Grass (She couldn't decide if this was a boy name or a girl name.)
6. Baker
7. 'Lil
8. Charming (As in Cinderella's prince.)
9. Strawberry

She also came up with regular people names.

1. Tyler
2. Andy (From Toy Story.)

Big Girl certainly had a lot fewer of the normal people names. That may have something to do with none of her ideas making the final cut.

In the end Little Man ended up with a pretty normal name. Except for his initials. They are also the name of a drink - ICB. We'll raise a glass to that one and hope he doesn't have too many when he's a teenager. http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink7774.html

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful

We have so much to be thankful for. My family is healthy, we have a safe and beautiful home. Plenty to eat. As Thanksgiving approaches and we hustle around to unpack from one trip and repack for another its good to step back, sit down and appreciate all that is right in the world.

Okay. Now that I'm done with that, here is a bit of a cheeky list of things we're thankful for.

1. Our washing machine is nine years old and its only had one little problem ever. A leak. Last night. Its still running today - or was when I left for work.

2. Sweet kids who can't get enough of us. Even when its way past bedtime and snuggling more will equal grumpy kids in the morning. They are getting so big, that just a few more hugs is worth it.

3. Hair color. I'm totally getting freshened up before the big weekend festivities. Every one has top primp. Required.

4. Cute shoes and new pants. We always try and keep an eye on the budget and even with the holidays coming and gifts to buy my awesome husband totally encouraged me to buy new pants this weekend. New pants.

5. Loving husband who knows me better than I know myself. Feeling down about the way I'm not yet fitting into all of my pre-baby clothes? "You should get another pair of pants then." You are the best! I totally got two. Thank you Khol's sale.

6. Mama. One little word that lets you know you are the center of their universe. Makes my heart melt. So thankful for my little man.

7. Girl Time. Thankful that as by Big Girl gets bigger she wants to hang out with me. Haircuts. Mani, Peti. Shoe shopping. Can go to Children's Place on the computer and look around? Don't know how she could have come up with such an idea - online shopping? I know nothing about that (smirk). 

I could go on and on. But here is the point. We have a good life. A very good life. I'm so thankful for all of the blessing we have received and for the love of so many friends and family that make the tough moments and days easier.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Food...Again

It seems like I'm always talking about food. From Little Man's crazy eating, being the milk machine myself, making baby food, etc. Then there is the garden. There is seriously a lot of food talk in this corner of my world. And - there is about to be more.

This weekend, after visiting with family and friends, we were driving home around dinner time. We really try to not make a habit of eating fast food and frequently carry healthy snacks or get carry-out instead of dashboard dinning. But tonight. Tonight we went for fast food. McDonald's to be exact.

Here is the thing about McDonald's. While some families with two kids (or more) and two working parents head to the golden arches on a weekly (or more) basis, we aren't exactly frequent customers. And there is a good reason why.

But before I get to the good reason, here is a bit more of the story from this weekend (I know you wanna hear it!).

So, its 5:45 on Sunday afternoon and into McDonald's we go. We walk up to the counter and Big Girl just stops. At Chick-Fil-A she heads right up and places her own order - 6 piece, milk and fruit cup. Here, in the land of "I'm Lovin' It," my kid is lost.

She looks at the menu and looks at me and Dad and back at me as I ask, "what do you want?"

She doesn't know and has quite a difficult time settling on nuggets, apple slices and milk. We order a cheeseburger to go with the pears in a tube and milk I brought in for little man. Husband gets a burger of some kind and we both get water.

To my left Little Man doesn't even want to touch his burger. The 11 month old who can eat more spaghetti with meat sauce than his sister and polish off three nuggets and most of a fruit cup at Chick-Fil-A won't eat a McDonald's burger. He only let one piece of "meat" go is his mouth and promptly spit it out and threw it on the floor. He ate about a third of the top half of the bun, but that too was a struggle.

He was clearly hungry and sucked all the pears out of the tube and finished off the dried yogurt and puffies and was looking around for more, but flat refused the burger and bun.

To my right (after 30 minutes) Big Girl had eaten one nugget and half her apple slices. She finished her milk and was working on my water. The kid who was whining because she was so hungry didn't even eat half her dinner. Not half.

The good news. I don't have to go back any time soon. The bad news - we'd paid for food to send it directly to the landfill.

Back in the car, we knew we should have stopped somewhere else. Really anywhere the kids would eat. Jinklebells (Bojangles) would even be fine. But we didn't. We stopped where Big Girl wanted to - and clearly it wasn't for the food. Damn marketing to kids.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Birthday Planning

We're planning Little Man's first birthday party. I know he won't remember it, but I want to remember it. I want it to be a special day filled with special things just for him. Things that he enjoys and for the memories to be a snapshot of him at this time in his life.

Cars like those he likes to push around on the floor.
His favorite foods. Um okay - bread and bananas - aren't for everyone....
Fun things to crawl around, over and through.

With all that is going on in our busy lives, it is so important to me to find the time for the personalized touches. Its a way for me to show my son how much I love him. I know he won't recognize it now, but maybe one day he will.

Here is a preview of some of the details.

Personalized Invitations
The invitations set the tone. Personable and fun (Thanks Shutterfly). Not too many bright colors, but they feature a pretty cute little face.

The back includes a personalized message "We'll have some of my favorite foods plus you can watch me get my first taste of cake and ice cream. Hope you can make it. Love, LM"





Birthday Boy Brown Ale
You read that correctly. A custom beer. For a first birthday party. With a custom label. Its a good thing husband is a novice brew master. Ironically he brewed the beer back in September on his birthday weekend and we are going to share it with family and friends for Little Man's birthday in December.

This is the draft label. The art work is going to be cleaned up and the white background will be gone. I really think its going to look great when its done.

Happy Birthday Banner
I was totally inspired by this banner on Etsy. Ours is currently a work in progress, its going to use the same light aqua as the invites and a complimentary green the background colors. The letters are going to be printed on brown craft paper and I'm still working on just the right ribbon to hang it from. I am also thinking of skipping the ribbon between each letter, but we will have to see how it looks.





parents.com
Brown Box Cars
My kids love playing with boxes and so do other kids we know. So, we are combining Little Man's love for "vroom vroom" and cardboard boxes to make cars for the kids to play with. I plan to cut out some number ones to put on the front of each car. They can play with them during the party and if the older ones get bored, I'll also have markers and other supplies on hand for them to decorate their cars.


Cake
Gotta have a cake. I've always enjoyed making birthday cakes for Big Girl and cousin CZ. Now I'm going to make my first boy cake. Again finding online inspiration. This time from Betty Crocker.

I'm going to try for a small car cake for Little Man to have for himself and then a larger car cake for everyone else. Going with the colors from the sign and the invites. We will have to see how that goes when I start baking and decorating.


There will be more details about the party soon after its over (and I have time to upload photos).

Monday, November 14, 2011

Travel Plans

When you have kids you have to plan ahead. To make a normal Saturday run smoothly, I usually have a plan by Wednesday evening or Thursday afternoon.

This Saturday it was:

7:00 Wake Up, Breakfast, Get Dressed
7:40 Leave for Swimming
8:00 Swim Team
9:15 Return from Swim Team, Eat Snack (Bojangles Biscuits!)
      Shower for Big Girl, Finalize Grocery List, Final Coupon Check, Make Bottle and Pack Snack
10:30 Grocery Shopping
11:45 Return from Grocery Store, Unpack Groceries, Make Lunches
12:45 Leave for Toy Store
1:20 Pick Out Birthday Present, Thanks Complimentary Wrapping!, Try not to Destroy Store
2:00  Arrive at Birthday Party, Snacks Again, Cake, Fun Fun Fun
4:00 Pack Up
4:30 Finally Wrangle Kids out of Bounce House and Into Car
5:15 Hope Dinner is Started
6:00 Eat Dinner

It continues until 8:30 or 9 p.m. when I sit down on the couch and fall asleep before making it through even one show on the DVR.

If that is what a normal Saturday takes with two kids, what is a six day vacation going to be like. Air travel, rental car, switching Little Man to cow milk, rehearsal dinner, wedding, family functions, brewery tour, museums, Lego land. Wow.

With just a few weeks to go, we have tentative plans for each day. Travel arrangements were made weeks ago, but we are still unsure what relatives we are staying with for the first two nights. I've started picking out clothes for the kids to wear, but am still unsure if we have enough luggage for all the gear. We've picked out some activities for non-wedding days, but should go ahead and reserve tickets for those things that need them. Also need to look at the TSA website and confirm all the latest information about traveling with babies - car seats, milk, etc.

Wow. I need a day off from work just to make the lists. Never mind the first birthday party the weekend after the vacation.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Radom Things Part 2

Everyone has their quirks. The strange things that they do - and probably don't notice or don't want to notice.

A few days ago I wrote about things you probably don't know about Big Girl. Now its my turn. This post is a guest compilation by my husbands and me.

1. When they play battle of the sexes on the radio, I always win. I mean. I don't call in, but I always know the man answers to the questions they are asking the women. I credit this to Sports Center every morning and my husband having strangely similar sports and entertainment preferences to the male DJ. Erie. Now if I could just get through when they ask for callers we would be on our way to Disney on Ice.

2. Bananas make me ill. Especially when I am pregnant. The first time, I could throw up with a person in the cube across the aisle from me at the office left a peel in the trash can the shift before. Yea. Peel, six to eight hours old. it wasn't pretty. It got so bad that I would hold my breath and walk to this person's desk when I entered the work area and then take their trash can down a far off hallway breathing as little as possible before running to the bathroom. Not pregnant, I still don't like to touch them. I don't know why, they are kinda gooey and yuck. Yuck. So what do I do, I feed them to my kids. They love them. Eat them every day. Just clean up your own freakin' peels.

3. I go back and forth on being addicted to caffeine. I just realized this. Although, I probably should have realized it when I blogged about it so creatively twice in a month a while ago. I am back to one serving about every other day. I'm trying really hard not to give in. Wait, it would be better if I just embrace the soda and have one in the morning on my way to work like I did when I was pregnant a few years ago.

4. I drink milk for dinner every night (when we eat at home). Skim milk. With Ice. Allegedly, I slurp it. Problem with ice in milk is that the ice cubes stick together and its difficult to drink it. But, I like really cold milk.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Three Random Things

Everyone has their quirks. Kids included. Here are three random things about my oldest that most people don't know.

1. She has a random southern accent. Random. I'm talking one word in a whole conversation and not even every day. Its the deep Alabama type of southern, no Eastern North Carolina here. When it comes out I feel like she should be in the "Roll Tide" ESPN Commercial.



2. For some reason she still isn't good at swings. Okay. Let me restate. She loves to go on the swings at the park. She loves to be pushed on a swing. She isn't good at pumping. Something about it just doesn't work for her. At first I thought she may have inherited my lack of coordination. Then I realized - there is no may about it - she did. However she can ride a bike and has better ball handling skills than me when it comes to other sports (really doesn't take much).

I think she may also be slightly stalled by the fact that when she wanted a swing we got a rope one. No pumping required.


Missed learning opportunity? Maybe. Picking the coolest swing ever, that both husband and I wished we had as kids - for sure!

3. She is a reading machine. Okay. So if you know us well, you probably do know this. She can go through a grade level appropriate chapter book in an hour. Last weekend she cruised her way through four chapter books - two Magic Tree House, one Disney fairy and one something else that the school librarian recommended.

Headed home from the library Halloween party. Books in her hands = one week supply.

P.S. - The school librarian doesn't have any idea what reading level my child is at, that book was done in about 45 minutes and it was 30 pages.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Drawing

When you have kids you learn all kinds of new things.

You learn about nursing and breast pumps. You learn about peanuts and strawberries and that even though you thought babies just ate what big people ate that is far from the truth.

You learn that Curious George is now a TV show and that the Usborne books people rock the kids book world with all the That's Not My... books, and no matter how many times you read your full collection of them you are still going to read them again. (Maybe you didn't learn this, but just go with it, its what I learned.)

You learn sing along songs and can recognize the tune to Elmo's World. Anywhere. Even when a stranger is humming it in the doctor's office.




You learn to draw. Or re-learn to draw. You spend hours coloring and drawing pictures with your kids.




Pictures with chalk on the driveway. Pictures with paint on the easel. Pictures with markers. All for your sweet children to color in.

Then one day it hits you. You are not actually being creative when you draw. You are just drawing to the best of your non-art teacher ability goofy little animals. Then like a pile of rocks rolling down a mountain....

You realize that they aren't just goofy little animals, you are seariously drawing the dancing fruits and veggies and fish from Elmo's world.





They have the same smiles. The same eyes that are just a little bit more open than they really should be, even for the people type of eyes that they have, even though they are animals.

It makes you (okay me) realize that as much as you adore your children, you probably need to get out more. And that you should take a break from Elmo while you can, beacuse soon enough he'll return to your life.