Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hot Dog!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family Portrait Session

One of my biggest problems in life is I always have high expectations, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but when you throw a 2.5 year old and a 15 month old into the equation you are bound to be disappointed.

For example, take our family portrait session this afternoon with Black Thumb Studio. For weeks, I have been staring longingly at our 16x20 framed family portrait that sits mounted on our living room wall and have been imagining how great our new portrait as a family of four will look in that same spot. An hour into our session, I was crossing my fingers that Grace's tears would stop and Jacob would stand still long enough so that he wasn't a blur in every photograph. All in all, I must say that today went much better than I anticipated after the morning we had.

Our day started out pretty nice considering how the afternoon went. I woke up around 8 AM to Jacob jumping on my bed which seems to be how I wake up most mornings these days and we went to get Grace and headed downstairs to change diapers.

We decided today was a we-don't-want-to-make-breakfast day and so we ventured out to Dunkin Donuts where I bought each kid their very own blueberry muffin (or muffs as Jacob calls them).

We came home, ate breakfast, played with mega blocks and then the kids watched 30 minutes of Dora while Mama cleaned the squished blueberries off her kitchen floor. I could hear Gracie in the Living Room yelling "OH, MAN!!!!" when Swiper the Fox crept across the screen.

I decided that even though we had slept in that morning I needed to attempt to put the kids down for early naps so there wouldn't be a meltdown in the middle of pictures so we headed upstairs. As they settled into their beds, I hopped in the shower only to emerge 30 minutes later to a noise that sounded like metal scraping metal. Jacob decided he wasn't tired so he thought he'd dismantle the heater cover in his bedroom . I peeked in Grace's room and she was sitting there happy as a clam shaking her baby doll.

I closed their doors and attempted to blow dry my hair, but apparently the kids had plans of their own and naps was not on the agenda. I brought them downstairs and tried my best to finish getting ready and pack the car with the outfits we had laid out the night before. I was not about to put the kids in their clothes before we got there for fear someone would puke, drool or leak all over their brand new, freshly pressed clothes before a picture had been snapped. I threw some lunch at them, tossed them in the car (still in their pajamas) and we were off.

The kids did finally sleep for an hour in the car and we arrived right on time at 2 PM when the skies became an ominous shade of black. We hurried into the park hoping to beat the rain, but the clouds seemed to scatter and we even had sun shining for a few minutes. We decided to let the kids run around and burn off some energy for a few minutes while Jeff and his Intern, Katie, set up.

Once they were ready to go we sat down on a set of stone steps for the first shot of the day. Jacob lasted 15 seconds before he wanted "DOWN!" and started "the maneuver"... you know the one. That slick, toddler trick where they stick their arms straight up in the air so they can wriggle out of your grasp, which I might add, is very effective. This is where Jeff and Katie save the day. We whipped out Jacob's neck pillow for the car which just so happens to be shaped like a monkey and started singing some silly songs and managed to get a few good shots out of them.

Next, we headed off to see if we could get some shots of the kids in a pile of leaves. Newsflash: Grace is TERRIFIED of leaves. Tears, tears and more tears. Jacob was having a blast and I can't wait to see those pictures, but Grace wanted nothing to do with them AT ALL. The only thing Grace wanted to do was run as fast as possible towards the RIVER and try to hurl herself over the rock wall into the fast moving current. I am pretty sure I owe Jeff and Katie for saving her life once or twice.....

At the end of our session, Jeff and Katie showed us a few of the shots they got and I am happy to say I think these are the best portraits yet! Even though the day didn't go as smoothly as I had it planned out in my head, the foliage was PERFECT! We couldn't have timed the peak better! The weather held off (it started raining as soon as we were packing up the car) and best of all I don't have to worry about this again until this time next year! I seriously needed a nap after we were done! I can't thank Jeff and Katie enough for all of their hard work!

We headed back towards home and stopped for some dinner. Both kids chowed down so I know they were hungry from running around like crazy for two hours non-stop. We also picked up a little treat for dessert at Cupcake Charlie's to take home. Meet my friends (clockwise from top) Pumpkin Spice, Chocolate Overload, Oreo Madness and Peanut Butter Pleasure. I think it is safe to say South Beach Phase 1 is over:

I can't wait to see the proofs from today!! I should be getting them back right before Thanksgiving so I will post as soon as I can with the finished product. Just to tide you over here is last year's result. This was taken in May of 2009 when Jacob was 14 months old (10.5 months adjusted)and I was 28 weeks pregnant with Grace:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Catch a Wave Wednesday

I am thrilled to be the featured blog on this week's Catch A Wave Wednesday blog hop!

Check it out and link up!

Blogging Hints Catch a Wave Wednesday

Grace's Retro Bedroom - Final Plan

I finally have all of the loose ends tied up as far as Grace's bedroom makeover goes. I went to the paint store last week and brought home about 10 paint chips (with 5 colors on each one) and wouldn't you know none of the colors matched when I finally received my fabric swatches in the mail.

It turns out the colors in the pattern I picked out are an eggplant and berry color and not really a pale purple at all. I decided to stick with the fabric I had chosen and went back to the paint store and found a nice raspberry color that works well. I am going to list everything out below, but I assure you even though it may all look purple on your monitor it is definitely more of a raspberry color. I can't believe how different the swatches look on the monitor vs. in person.

To start, I found a great seller on Etsy willing to make Grace's toddler quilt for me for a reasonable price which was quite the task. Let's just say the first private alchemy I sent out resulted in a quote $40 higher than what I am paying. Ridiculous!

I have decided on a reversible quilt in Orchid Round About and Brown Minky Dot:

The mattress sheet, valances and covered lampshade will be in Orchid Lolli Dot:

I found an awesome lamp at Target this week by chance that matches the green in the fabric perfectly and it has a very retro look to it so I think it will work well in the room. It is from their Room Essentials line and I was so happy to discover that this line at Target has a boatload of matching accessories in both this color green and the exact color raspberry that is in the Michael Miller fabric as well. I am probably going to cover the lampshade in the Orchid Lolli Dot to spruce it up a bit:

When I went BACK to the paint store to find new swatches there was only one paint chip that was in the same color family as the fabric swatch so I have it narrowed down to 2 of those colors, Wishing Well and Hydrangea. They both look darker on screen then they do on the swatch, but the color that was slightly lighter than Wishing Well was way too light. They are both from Benjamin Moore.

I am throwing around a few ideas for decor and I am thinking either wall decals from Etsy, 3D butterfly wall decor (also from Etsy) or paper lanterns in different sizes hung in the corner of the room. I think the lanterns might work well since they are round and it will tie in well with the polka dots in the Lolli Dot fabric.

I ordered my two 2 oz sample containers of paint and can't wait for them to get here so I can pick a color and get going!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The potty train has left the building.

Well, today was a day for the record books.

Jacob has officially mastered the art of removing his diaper. The first time he took it off was right after dinner. He flung his fresh, dry diaper over the gate and I walked in to the Living Room just in time to see him showering my hardwood floors.

After I cleaned him up and put a new diaper on him, I walked in the living room 15 minutes later to a pants-less (again!) Jacob, only this time when he removed his diaper there was a present inside. Luckily, he had only gotten as far as dipping his fingers in it so I once again cleaned him and my floors up and successfully duct taped his diaper on him. I am hoping when I go to get him in the morning the duct tape will still be intact.

We bought underwear and pull-ups last week in anticipation of potty training and we have had the potty chair for about 6 months so I guess it is time. Wish us luck! We'll need it.....

Good night.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday Follow

It's Friday! I am kicking off the weekend with a fabulous list of Friday Follows.

I love meeting new people and reading new blogs. If you want a follow back just leave a comment with a link to your blog! Happy Friday!

Let's Just Give It Away


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Panels, Valances and Sheers, Oh My!

I am having the hardest time picking out window treatments for Grace's room. I have a few ideas, but I am looking for some feedback!

I looked online for blackout panels and was able to find some in a pretty light green color which might work out well seeing as we did finally decide to paint the room purple. I am not sure if I would rather do that or use blackout shades and just make a valance to match the bedding out of coordinating fabric? So far, I have decided that the quilt is going to be Orchid Round About on one side and Brown Minky Dot (not shown here) on the reverse side. I am leaning towards Orchid Lolli Dot for mattress sheets and the walls will be a paler shade of purple with green accents. On a side note, I found the perfect lamp for her room today at Target!

I am listing below all of the coordinating patterns from the Feeling Groovy line and need some suggestions on what pattern of fabric you think would look good as a valance:

Orchid Round About:

Feeling Groovy:

Orchid Lolli Dot:

Lavender Lolli Dot:

Soooo.....which pattern do you like best?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Grace's "Big Girl" Room Makeover

When we found out we were pregnant with Jacob we decided to do a gender neutral nursery so that all of our kids could use it. When we were pregnant with Grace we started making over the spare bedroom into Jacob's big boy room so we could move Grace into the nursery. I wanted very modern bedrooms with specific color palettes that could stay the same as the kids got older. I am not a fan of the Toy Story and Sesame Street themed bedding sets that would need to be changed year after year as the kid grows out of it. With that being said, Grace's crib is falling apart...literally and it is a drop side which I don't like at all. We are hoping to start the transition to a toddler bed around the first of the new year so I have a few months to get this room finished.

I had a very clear image in my head of what I wanted and had no luck finding any fabric or patterns that I liked. After searching Land of Nod, PBK, etc. for MONTHS and finding NOTHING I decided I would have to find a fabric I liked and have someone make the blanket, sheets and valances. Easy enough, right? Wrong! I have spent the better part of 3 months searching high and low for the perfect fabric that incorporates purple, green and brown (the color palette I selected for her room) and again NOTHING! Last night, I was on Etsy (big surprise!) and finally found IT! THE ONE! It is from the Feeling Groovy collection and it incorporates everything I was looking for!

Introducing Michael Miller Orchid Round About, Michael Miller Lolli Dot and Brown Minky Dot:

I think these options will work well together and there are even more coordinating fabrics in the Michael Miller line if I should decide to try and make some accessories to match the room. Maybe some fabric wrapped photo frames or a lampshade? I am also looking at vinyl wall decals on Etsy. We bought some of these for Jacob's room and it is an easy way to decorate the room in an age appropriate way without permanently changing the room. They come off easily with some heat from a blow dryer!

My next step is selecting a paint color and I can't decide if I should stick with one color for all four walls or paint an accent wall in a different color? I am open to any suggestions! Her furniture is white if that makes any difference. Any ideas?

If you're in the mood join me in some Blog Hoppin' today:
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Monday, October 18, 2010

South Beach Diet - Phase 1

When I was pregnant with Jacob I gained a whole 14 pounds. That's what happens when you have a micro-preemie at 24 weeks. I think I lost 12 of that 14 pounds giving birth to him! For the next 4 months, I commuted back and forth to Boston daily (45 minutes each way) to visit him and I was pumping every three hours around the clock to keep my milk supply up for when he eventually came home. The lack of eating and sleep plus the combination of stress and pumping resulted in another 9 pound loss after his birth! I hadn't been that skinny since college and it was nice while it lasted.

Grace's pregnancy was a different story. Fueled by my nerves, and the possibility that I could have another micro-preemie, I ate anything and everything I wanted during that pregnancy. My excuse? If I go into pre-term labor I want to fatten my baby up so they have a better chance! Well, eating that box of Snackwell's Devil's Food Cake cookies every night worked! I gained a whopping 47 pounds during her pregnancy and I did NOT have a preemie. ::does a little happy dance:: Yes, some of that was retained fluid. In fact, it was determined at my last appointment that the last 7 pounds of weight gain was all fluid and it had taken up residence in my (c)ankles. I couldn't walk more than 10 feet without my feet throbbing, but I digress.

I had no problems dropping the first 30 pounds, but after that I only managed to drop another 5 leaving me +12 pounds today and it's all in my belly. I didn't think it was that noticeable until we were at the hospital for Jacob's broken leg and the nurse at Jacob's bedside said, "Are you expecting?" (Note to self: Burn fold-over waist gaucho pants) My response, more to be polite than anything, was, "No, I have a 12 month old daughter at home." I was quite taken aback when she added, "Oh, so you're still working that off." Yikes. She's lucky I am a nice girl. Let's just leave it at that.

So today begins Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet to rid my body of its sugar addiction. I may end up in rehab by weeks end for severe withdrawals, but it is worth a shot. I would like to have a third and I can't start 12 pounds above what I did for the other two pregnancies. That will just lead to a snowball effect which I am not comfortable with so off I go!

I attempted this diet once before right after I graduated from college when I was working full-time and it was a big, fat fail. It didn't help that I had no time to cook and was looking for convenience foods to pack in my lunch that didn't exist. I went to bed the first two nights in tears because I was starving! On day three, I quit. Looking back, I didn't have much to lose and probably would have benefited more from some exercise and toning, but this time I definitely need to lose 12 pounds. That is it! If I can accomplish this now it will save me from spiraling and ending up with a sugar/carb habit and needing to lose 20+ pounds down the road.

So far it has been relatively easy and I think being a SAHM has helped. I can cook the foods I need to eat as I go throughout the day so I don't have to worry about relying on easy, pre-packaged, convenience foods like I did the first time around.

My menu so far today has looked like this:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs sprinkled with reduced-fat cheddar cheese, a turkey sausage patty and one cup of skim milk.

Snack 1: 15 dry roasted peanuts and a cup of tea.

Lunch: Salad loaded with lots of fresh veggies and grilled chicken topped with fat-free feta cheese and crystal light.

I will try and update the blog regularly since this is a good way to be held accountable and stick with this.

Guess when Phase 1 ends? Monday, November 1st. Someone keep the Halloween candy away from me!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Slacker Mom

The one thing I am ashamed to admit more than anything is the fact that Jacob's baby book has more empty pages than it does filled out ones. He will be three in March! I am even more ashamed to admit that I haven't even started one for Grace. In fact, all I have for her is a random piece of scrap paper with a few milestones and dates that certain teeth came in scribbled down.

When I was pregnant with Jacob, I searched high and low for the "perfect" modern baby book. This was a hard task because I absolutely despise the ones with cartoon animals, Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse on the cover and they are the only ones that stores seem to sell. I finally settled on a gender neutral, generic looking one with a "sweet pea" on the cover and purchased it for a whopping $35 at Babies R Us in my fifth month. I dreamed about sitting down with a cup of tea, filling out the pages with stats and milestones while my child napped soundly in his/her crib.

Less than a month later, I was in the hospital giving birth at 24 weeks and 5 days. He was 16 weeks early and spent the first 4 months of his life lying in the hospital. I think I got discouraged more than anything because as I turned the pages, month 1, month 2, month 3, etc. I didn't know how to fill it out. For the first few months of his life he had been lying in an isolette (or as the nurses called it his "womb with a view"). I didn't know if I should fill out the book with his actual age or his adjusted age. For the first few months, I filled it out with his adjusted age and then, for some reason, I changed midway to his actual age. Now the thing is a hot mess and I don't even want to open it for fear of a panic attack. I am a perfectionist and even bought a special pen for the book so that the ink would match on all the pages, so imagine what my brain does when it sees overlapping milestones and statistics for different months!

Enter a little online shoppe called Edna Mae! When shopping on my favorite website EVER, Etsy, I came across the Edna Mae store and instantly fell in love. She makes modern baby books that are refreshing, unique and perfect for someone like me who wants something without characters or cutesy child themes all over the cover and inside pages. At first, I thought that $60 for a baby book was outrageous, but then I thought about the fact that Jacob's book cost $34.95 and it is a piece of junk that I hate. After dwelling on that for a few minutes, $60 (they are normally $65, but I used a coupon code) seemed pretty good. It is only $25 more than I spent on Jacob's and I have the option of removing and adding pages and there are photo sleeves for 100 photos which is an option you don't have with any other baby book on the market.

I opened my tracking e-mail this morning to check the status and noticed it was getting delivered today. I practically attacked the mailman when he reached my door! I tore open the package and it is everything I had hoped it would be and more. In fact, I am so IN LOVE with this book that as soon as I finish up Grace's book I am ordering another one for Jacob and starting his all over again! I will be chucking the sweet pea book in the trash!

Edna Mae is currently having a Fall sale on their website (go here and enter code FALLSALE at checkout) I just had to pass this savings along to you! If you are looking for a modern baby book in bold fresh fabric and patterns then this place is for you. The code gets you $5 off your purchase so hurry before the sale ends! You won't regret it!

**Edna Mae Baby is in no way affiliated with this blog and I was not compensated in any way for this review. This is a review of a product I purchased myself.**

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pumpkin Patch

With nothing planned for the Monday holiday, we took an impromptu trip to Bog Hollow Farm in Kingston for their annual pumpkin patch weekend.

It was very crowded and very warm. The forecast was calling for temps in the mid 60's so we dressed accordingly in long sleeve tees and jeans, but it had to have been at least 75 out there. Poor Gracie was beat red and starting to drag after being out there for only 20 minutes! Jacob was running around in typical Jacob fashion and the heat didn't seem to bother him a bit.

The kids had so much fun! There were hay rides, ponies, bunnies, a hay jump, a hay slide, a train ride, two pumpkin patches, face painting, two mazes and even more! Jacob LOVED the ponies and Grace had a blast in the hay jump. On our way out, there was a line to get IN never mind the wait for the hay rides. I was glad we got there when we did!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Black Thumb Studio

I have been meaning to post Grace's first birthday portraits for awhile, but I just got around to ordering the high resolution images this week!

Once upon a time, I worked as an intern at a little company called Putnam Investments. You might recall them and a little firestorm they started called "market timing". It was there in 2002 that I began my career in Finance and "met" Jeff Turner, who was also slaving away as a full-time cubicle dweller in the financial industry.

After 3 years at that company, I received an offer from a company in Quincy called CitiStreet and subsequently accepted that offer. Imagine my surprise when I showed up for my new job and the person occupying the cubicle next to mine was Jeff Turner! We hadn't been formerly introduced at Putnam (which is why I put "met" in quotations above), but we were finally introduced at CS and ended up sharing a cubicle wall for the next 3 years. We would knock good morning, banter back and forth and comment about the weather and what people were doing in the parking lot since we were lucky enough to score window seats.

Jeff had always been a hobbyist photographer and one day, as he was showing me a wedding he had recently shot, we got to talking about his interest in pursuing a career in photography. He was looking to break into the business and I just happened to be on the wedding message boards looking for information on vendors for my own wedding.

For months, every time someone posted on the boards looking for a wedding photographer, I threw Jeff's name out there and raved about him to the best of my abilities. He had done our engagement photos and I had the hardest time picking out the few I wanted to mat and frame! I had seen his work first hand and knew that someday his company would take off. Pretty soon the word was out and brides were ringing his phone off the hook trying to book with him.

Shortly after I had Jacob in 2008, Jeff was able to quit that financial job and went full-time with his Photography business as Jeff Turner Photography. His business has now grown to THREE photographers, the occasional intern and has been renamed Black Thumb Studio! He is almost booked for 2011 and even booking into 2012!! He shoots weddings, engagement sessions, family, children and senior portraits, etc. Pretty much anything you would need photographed! He has even done pets! He is talented, dedicated, hard working and most importantly....he is just a great all-around guy! I am looking forward to our family portrait session with him at the end of the month!

If you are in the market for a professional photographer I highly recommend Jeff and the crew at Black Thumb Studio! I promise you will not be disappointed! In fact, I guarantee you'll be a customer for life! Just like me.

Here are a few of the pictures from Grace's first birthday portrait session that I purchased:

**I was not compensated in any way for this review. I just love BTS and their work!**

Monday, October 4, 2010

Apple Picking 2010

This weekend we took our annual trip to the apple orchard. We usually go to Berlin Orchards, but this year we wanted to try something different so we headed to Tougas Farm in Northboro. They are rated one of the top 10 orchards in the country by USA Today so we figured we would give it a shot. I was pleased at the variety of activities they have there that are geared towards the whole family. They have a little petting zoo, playground equipment, a pumpkin patch, the orchard itself and a nice little kitchen that serves everything from hot dogs and chili to apple crisp and cider donuts.

I fully intended to start this post off with a picture of all four of us apple picking last year and a picture of us this year, but let's just say Jacob didn't have a good afternoon. There are no pictures of all four of us. He started off great and was running around for the first 30-45 minutes we were there, but I think after that first hour his leg started getting sore so he would run for a minute or two and then have a meltdown complete with tears while holding his leg. Only problem was he didn't want anyone to carry him and he refused to be buckled into the wagon. Basically, we had to let him walk and deal with his meltdowns every 50 feet or so. Other that that we had a great afternoon and finished the day off with dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Their cinnamon honey butter is to DIE for!

We had an absolutely PERFECT Fall day for apple picking. It topped out around 60 degrees and there was a nice Fall chill in the air. It was nice in the sun and there was a cool breeze in the shade so we were able to wear our hooded sweatshirts comfortably and nobody was stung by a bee this year! We snacked on apple crisp and cider donuts before we headed out with our half a bushel bags and filled them up with Cortland, MacIntosh and Jonagold apples. We also took a run through the pumpkin patch on our way out and let the kids explore. We are planning a trip to Sauchuk Farm in another week or two to pick pumpkins so we didn't buy any at Tougas, but we have plenty of apples and apple crisp and baked apples are on the menu this week.

Here are a few pictures from our adventure yesterday:

We have a busy week ahead of us. Jacob has PT this afternoon and I am headed out with my girlfriends from high school tonight for our annual get together. It used to be a monthly thing back when we were all out of college and just working full-time, but now that some of us have more job responsibilities, husbands, kids, etc. it has become an annual thing instead of monthly. I am excited to see them and catch up! On top of that, Jacob has his weekly play group for Early Intervention and I need to catch up on some housework before another busy weekend arrives!
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