Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Holy crap, it's almost November! We've been quite busy this past month; month and a half, rather.

Alex headed to Pensacola and Mississippi for work stuff mid-September, so the girls and I drove up to Orange Park to stay with family like we always do when Daddy goes out of town. I'm so glad that we live close to family and are able to spend so much time visiting them. During dinner one evening, McKenna said, "I'm so happy that we are here, Mom!" Nana and Papa were beaming.

On the day that we arrived, the girls and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo with my mother-in-law for her work's Employee Appreciation Night.

Neither of the girls had taken a nap that day and the event started at 7PM, which is their normal bedtime, so I was prepared for a meltdown... And boy, did Kendall deliver! The zoo was packed and she refused to stay in the stroller and wanted absolutely nothing to do with hand-holding, so, after the most epic, ridiculous fit, she and I ended up in the car for the rest of the event.

Meanwhile, McKenna got to feed the penguins with my sister-in-law; she's a keeper there!

On the 18th, my Mom turned the big 5-0 and we were there to help celebrate, of course.

I had no idea what I was going to make for her that was going to be on par with my Dad's "50 sucks!" bouquet . After browsing Pinterest for "50 and Fabulous" ideas, I decided to go with a mini wine bottle bouquet because... Booze ;-)

Here's what you'll need:
Desert foam
Spanish moss
Flower basket
Artificial flowers
Wooden dowel
Mini wine bottles
Wine charms
"50" candles
Hot glue

First, cut the wooden dowel into four parts of equal length and hot glue them to the mini wine bottles. Then, stuff the basket with the desert foam, Spanish moss and arrange the flowers. Add the wine bottles, "50" candles and attach the wine charms to the rim of the basket and voila!

My Mom loved it, even though I totally got her birthday wrong. Like posted on my Facebook, bought the cake, shouted the big "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" on the wrong day kind of wrong. Made plans for a night out with my friends, leaving her to tend to my hooligans alone on her birthday kind of wrong. Ughhh.

For months leading up to her birthday, I thought that September 18th was on a Tuesday (and no one ever corrected me! Thanks, guys.), so my Mom got a bunch of phone calls and texts the day before her birthday because of my embarrassing little faux pas :-\ Oops. I'm blaming it all on mommy brain. Better the day before than the day after, though, am I right?! We... Or, I... just pushed everything back a day and all was well. Thank goodness.

Also while we were there, we went to the beach, I had a couple of margaritas with my Gomer, and Kendall went pee-pee in the potty for the very first time! Woo hoo!

Two weeks after that, we were back in Orange Park to celebrate "Jotoberfest" - my mother-in-law's everything pumpkin/Fall-themed birthday get-together with family and a few close friends of hers. I had so much fun planning and putting the party together with my sister-in-law. I'm already looking forward to next year's celebration!

There was also Brew at the Zoo, a Jags game (0-8 so far this season, woh woh) and some grown-up Halloween fun with our grown-up friends.

Whew. Alex left for out-of-town work stuff again this morning, but I decided to stay home this time. It's nice to have all of the extra help with the girls and to visit with everybody in Orange Park, but... I do start miss our routine here at home. I miss our friends, I miss the peaceful solitude at night after the girls turn in, drinking wine and watching chick flicks all by myself while the Mr. is away. I miss my bed...

Slumber party! :-) Gooood night.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Everything PUMPKIN!

While Florida's endless summers have their perks, I sometimes wish that we lived in a place with definite seasons. Winter here is nonexistent and Spring and Fall last maybe two weeks. Maybe. My closest encounters with those gorgeous red, orange and yellow Fall leaves occur only in the aisles of the craft store. Sigh. I have to fight the urge to break out all of those adorable Autumn decorations in September because... there's just something funny about pumpkins and bathing suits! I'll wait, as I do every year, until October 1st to finally get my hands on a Pumpkin Spice Latte because THAT is this Floridian's first day of Fall, y'all.

6 things you look forward to this Fall.

1. Pumpkin Spice Latte

2. Pumpkin patch 
McKenna's first trip to the pumpkin patch | October 2011

3. Pumpkin carving
My very first Jack O'Lantern! | October 2012

4. Pumpkin crafts

Skinnytaste's Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

6. Pumpkin buckets
Trick or treat! | Halloween 2012

Monday, September 9, 2013

Alright, Weight Watchers. Let's do this.

Last year was really difficult for me. New job (Alex), new city, new baby - BAM! Just like that. We moved to Melbourne from Tallahassee within the same week of coming home from the hospital with Kendall. Anticipating all of these major changes and aware of the hormonal and emotional mess that I knew I was going to be post-baby, I tried to remind myself to just take it all in stride and that eventually I'll make new friends and fall into a groove here with my two babies under 2, but it wasn't easy for me. At all.

Despite my husband being here and my parents just a short two and a half hour drive away, ready to be there for me at the drop of a hat if I needed them to be, I still felt terribly alone. So sad deep down no matter how hard I tried - or didn't try sometimes - to smile and act like I had it all under control. Of course I adored my new baby, was endlessly entertained by my precocious toddler and had a husband willing to do whatever it took to help out with the kids, but the emptiness lingered. It became so easy to turn to food for comfort, for happiness! I didn't have the energy to workout or even the strength to muster up the courage to put myself out there and make some new friends. It was so much easier to just open up the refrigerator during nap time on an especially difficult day with the kids, hit up the drive-thrus (yes, plural) after a little tift with my mother-in-law, or order way more than my fair share of take-out while Alex was out of town for work or at the dog track playing poker all night and I REALLY had no adult interaction. Emotional eating at its finest. 

Quite the oxymoron.

"I just had a baby, I still have nine months to drop the weight."

"I'll start eating healthy on Monday."

"I need a gym membership so I can workout, but we really don't have the extra money for that right now, so there goes exercising."

"Okay, starting March (April, May, June, July,...) 1st, I'll __________."

Sadness, anger, exhaustion, frustration, loneliness - food was my only remedy. I don't think I stepped onto the scale even once last year and I convinced myself that I only needed larger-sized clothing so that I could be more comfortable getting down and dirty with the kids.

It wasn't until October that the reality of my weight gain slapped me hard in the face. One of my best friends from high school was getting married and I couldn't find anything to wear to her wedding, even in the plus size section. I was in tears because I really didn't want to go to the wedding at all; I just wanted to stay at home hiding in my sweat pants so that nobody from high school could see how fat I had gotten. For months I had been avoiding hanging out with old friends, sex with my husband was pretty much nonexistent and I couldn't even read a book to my kids without becoming short of breath. Then, while celebrating Christmas at my mother-in-law's, I didn't even recognize myself in the picture that she had taken of all of us just seconds before.

I braved the scale when we arrived home after the holidays, guessing that I was 170, maybe 180 lbs at the most...


...190.2! That's far above the healthy weight range for someone who is 5'3"! I needed to do something, make some changes, and do so immediately; if not for my husband and for my kids, but for me.

So at the beginning of the year, with a lump in my throat and desperately trying to choke back the tears, I went and signed up for Weight Watchers and made a vow to suck it up and get myself and the kids involved around the community and finally make some friends. While the latter part of my New Year's resolution has been hugely successful - the girls and I have made some great lifelong pals here - the former has been a little rocky lately.

In four months after joining, I had lost 22 pounds and was really feeling great about myself. I had more energy, didn't squirm at the thought of my husband seeing me naked, and loved having my picture taken with the kids! I was always either behind the camera or dodging it before, so there weren't many photos of myself with the girls which was incredibly depressing. Around April, however, we encountered one expensive problem after another with my car. I'm not sure if it was the stress of how we were going to come up with the money to fix the car or being stuck at home completely car-less with two kids for an entire month that sucked the most, but, hey! Domino's delivers, baby. Since then, I've been on and off the saddle, skipping meetings and throwing money down the toilet for it. 

I am so done with that. I felt so much better, so much healthier when I was on track and I really want that back... So let's do this, Weight Watchers!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's Thursday, Thursday. Gotta get down on Thursdays.

I really enjoy Thursdays. The girls and I take it easy in the morning instead of heading out bright and early to take Hanley for a walk around the neighborhood before the temperature hikes up. They'll usually watch a movie or PBS Kids while I leisurely sip my coffee and putz around on Pinterest.

Around 10AM, we get ourselves ready and head to the library for Story Time.

McKenna and Kendall look forward to going every week and I do, too, actually; we have made some really great friends there. I also love that our library is right on the Indian River; there's a huge window on the entire east side of the building that overlooks the intracoastal and I can't help but to smile every time we walk in.

What a view, huh?

After Story Time is over, we either take a walk out on the dock or play at the playground with our new friends before heading home to carry on with our day as usual - lunch, Learning Time, laundry while they nap, a movie and coloring for them while I cook dinner. Once the girls are both bathed and in bed, I plan our meals for the next week that usually includes a couple of new recipes to try and write up a list for our grocery shopping adventure the following morning. I love cooking, so this is a lot of fun for me! 

Publix BOGOS renew every Thursday, too, and then there's this at the Ice Cream Depot:

"It's Thursday, Thursday. Gotta get down on Thursdays."

Find a tweet you shared last week and elaborate.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"50 Sucks!"

What a great Labor Day weekend! Alex didn't have much to do at work last week, so he took off Friday and we headed to Orange Park a little early to spend our four day weekend celebrating my Dad's 50th birthday.

50! Half of a century.

Men are hard enough to shop for, but my Dad, impossible. He has been frequenting garage sales and flea markets every weekend for as long as I can remember, so not only does he have everything he, you or I could ever want or need, but he gets it for peanuts. I racked my brain for months trying to come up with a special gift for such a momentous occasion in his life.

...Cue the Jeopardy music.

If you know my Dad, you know he has a ridiculous sweet tooth - cake, cookies, chocolate, jelly beans, ice cream, frosting - as a dip - you name it! I think it all stems from his early childhood when he took a whole stick of butter out of the fridge, dipped it in sugar... and ate it. True story! So when I came across the "50 sucks!" bouquets on Pinterest, I knew I had a winner, hands down.

Here's what you'll need:
Metal bucket
Styrofoam ball
Black spray paint
Hot glue
50 candies on a stick

McKenna, Kendall and I went to the candy store in our mall and hand-picked all of the sweets for our project - suckers, jelly pops, Sugar Daddies, anything and everything on a stick. The "50 sucks" lollipop was purchased at Party City, the bucket we found at the dollar store and the Styrofoam ball was purchased with a 40% off coupon at JoAnn's.

First, you'll need to spray paint the bucket and Styrofoam ball. Once they've dried, set the Styrofoam ball in the bucket and hot glue the two together at the rim for added stability - it will be heavy! Then, arrange all of the candies on the Styrofoam ball using the giant "50 sucks" lollipop as a focal point.

I was thrilled with the way it turned out! A big thanks goes out to the Mr. for helping me to get everything just right - the engineer in him just loves those tedious little details ;-) I couldn't wait to get to Orange Park and give it to my Dad! I knew he was going to love it.

And he did!

Happy 50th Birthday, Dad! I love you!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

(Not) Tan Mom

A trip to the beach used to mean planning at least a couple of days in advance, setting your alarm clock for the butt crack of dawn, packing everything from food and drinks to chairs and extra clothes for the drive home, and pretty much reserving an entire day for the glorious sun and sand. With kids, there's diapers, hats, sunglasses, toys, a jug of SPF 1000 sunscreen...You get the picture.

Not anymore! We live only four short miles from the beach now and getting there is anything but a hassle. The kids are begging to go, only to be begging 30 minutes after you arrive to go home for a peanut butter sandwich? No problem! A little garage sale-ing and some house hunting first, Mr. Murphy? Let's do it!

Last summer, we were at the beach every weekend. McKenna was almost 2 and perfectly content with playing in the sand right next to our chairs while Kendall, 6 months old, slept the entire time. It was great; Alex and I just kicked back with a good book and soaked up the sun. Two words: Bronze. Goddess. If I do say so myself ;-) White shorts, neon pink manis and pedis, sundresses, cute metallic sandals, and all things summer look and feel so much better over tan skin.

This summer, however, has been much different. Some weekends we hit the beach, some weekends we don't. Both of the girls want to be in the water from the minute we get there to the very last second we leave - I don't blame them, of course - but neither of them can swim yet. (See drowning: one of my biggest fears as a parent.) McKenna knows to stand right back up after a big wave knocks her over, but she doesn't go too far in, anyway, and we're always right there. Kendall, on the other hand, wants to get out there and swim with the dolphins! "Let. Me. Gooo!" I translate as she very persistently works to wriggle her tiny slippery body out of my momma bear grasp. So, after all of the chasing and lifting and squeezing and swinging the girls around, we're all pooped and ready for naps just a few hours later.

...That's hardly enough time for this momma to work on her tan, though.


Oh well, beautifully sun-kissed summer skin along with peeing alone and casually enjoying a warm meal are all cherished things of the past.

They're lucky they're cute!