Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was our anniversary.  We got married in a beautiful mountain side chapel in the Smoky Mountains (on Black Friday!) :)  We’ve been together for five years, married for three years.  Three sounds like such a small number.  I feel like I’ve known Mark my entire life.  But I’ve actually lived 28 years without him.  Those 28 years without him have made me appreciate the 5 years I’ve had with him.

I seemed to always end up with the wrong guy while I watched my friends end up with their right guys.  After a divorce and meeting some more wrong guys, I met Mark.  It all started on Match.com. 

I was a divorced single mom.  I worked during the day and went to graduate school at night.  Any and all free time I had (which wasn’t much) was spent studying or with Nolan.  Even though I was extremely busy, I still longed for that “perfect” relationship.  So I gave Match.com a try and I’m so glad I did. 
When I came across Mark’s profile, it was one I think many women would pass over.  He had one picture, and he didn’t have much information about himself posted.  He kept it simple.  I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I do remember it said something about finding someone who likes to take walks.  It was refreshing to me, as I had gotten sick of reading through profiles of men who went on, and on, and on about themselves.  Mark’s profile seemed real and down to earth.  And  hey, I love to take walks!  I sent him a “wink”, and the rest was history.

Our circumstances since we met have never been perfect or easy, but we always make it through together.  It seems that we have had one stress after another – and I’m talking about major stressful life events that many people never have to go through in their lifetime.  Things that the statistics say break up marriages.  Amazingly, somehow Mark and I manage to keep our relationship insulated from the various stressors we’ve been given. 
I think it’s because we are actually soul mates.
 
I know, it’s cliché, and mushy, and I used to roll my eyes too.  Until I met Mark.  No one has a perfect relationship, but we are perfect for each other.  I am strong where he is weak, and he is strong where I am weak.  We bring out the best in each other.  We are on the same page most of the time.  He is the friend, husband, and father that I wanted, but thought I would never find.  But the best part of our relationship I can’t put into words.  I’ve sat and tried to think of the words that would accurately describe why we work and I can’t.  He makes my heart smile. 
We spent our anniversary at a viewing.  My dear friend lost her mother the day before Thanksgiving.  We were happy to be there for my friend, and spending our special day at a sad event seemed like it was par for the course.  We still managed to enjoy the evening and had good conversation during our car ride. 

Cheers to many more years together!  I love you Mark!!
Oh, and on a funny side note: When I was in elementary school (I think 4th grade maybe), my science fair project was “How Cows Make Milk”.  We could choose anything we wanted.  I had no connection to dairy farming….didn’t live on a dairy farm, didn’t know any dairy farmers.  But for some reason, I felt compelled to search out a dairy farmer, visit his farm, and learn all about how cows make milk.  I even made it to the state finals with my project.  Now, how funny is it that years later, I marry a dairy farmer?  I’m telling you – soul mate! 

Now you can go puke due to my soul mate references :)   

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday weekend

Turkey day was a success.  The meal was great, and we all enjoyed having a day to hang out together!  We ate like pigs, took a 3 mile walk to try to burn off some of the excess calories/fat, and then generally crashed.  Here are some pictures from the day!

How can you pass up an outfit that has the word "Gobble" on it?  Too cute!


Nolan's stamp of approval of my peanut butter apple dip (it was very good, and I think it's something Luke will love once he can have peanut butter!)


Mmmmmm.  My tiramisu cheesecake :)  It was pretty good - although there are some things I will change the next time I make it.


The boys hard at work putting together Luke's bike trailer/joggling stroller.  We had an outdoor nighttime activity planned and we thought he'd need it to keep warm.  It's my early Christmas present - looking forward to getting back into biking when the weather gets warmer! :)


Luke exploring his new contraption



Testing it out.  The verdict: success!  We like pushing it, and Luke likes riding in it.  Can't wait to try it out as a bike trailer :)




Today we celebrated the beginning of Advent!  We found a beautiful stone Advent wreath, which I was thrilled about.  We bought the supplies to make our own, but I never feel like those are very stable.  This is one we can enjoy for years, and it is sturdy.  I love it!



After we lit our Advent candle, we ate a yummy meal (lasagna -- my specialty!), and then decorated for Christmas.  Our tree looks semi-ridiculous, but we don't care.  We kept everything up high so Luke and our pets don't get hurt/break things.  It looks funny because the lights and everything stop midway down the tree :)  I figure there are many many years to have a beautifully decorated tree.  This year just isn't one of them! 

I hope everyone enjoyed time with family and was able to relax a little too.  Now, it's on to the busy days leading up to Christmas!!  <3


Monday, November 21, 2011

Preparations

I'm getting very excited about Thanksgiving!  I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year, and it will just be our little family of four.  However, I'm still going all out and making a feast!  I'm putting my own spin on the meal.  We don't like many of the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  I finalized our menu this evening and made my grocery list.  I'll hit the store early tomorrow in hopes to avoid huge crowds.  Exciting stuff! 

Here is our menu.  If anything turns out to be amazing, I'll post the recipe after Thanksgiving. 

For starters....
Sorbet punch
Sliced apples with peanut butter dip
Spinach artichoke dip and chips

Main meal...
Turkey roast and gravy (taking the easy way out with the turkey!)
Cheesy potatoes
Broccoli-cauliflower salad
Garlic-cheddar biscuits

Dessert...
Peanut butter cup cookies
Tiramisu cheesecake

We'll be eating leftovers for a few days!  Or I'll send it with Mark to share with his employees.  And I'll be taking extra long walks for a few weeks to work off the extra calories :)

Nolan is so excited.  I posted the menu on our Moo Town Cafe board, and he about flipped out when he saw it.  That boy likes to eat! 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this year!  <3

 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Picture lady

In case you haven't noticed, I love to take pictures.  I'm not especially talented....I just like to capture moments so I'll never forget them!  This post will be picture mania :) 

My boys have been keeping me busy lately.  Lukie is ALL BOY and I love it!  He is busy, busy, busy.  I call him the speed crawler.  He zooms across the floor so fast, it's hysterical.  He's also getting better at walking - still just takes a few steps before falling, but I can tell his confidence is growing.  He attempts to walk many times throughout the day.

Nolan finished out his football season last weekend, and starts basketball this week!  Basketball will keep us all very busy for the next few months.  He's learning really complicated math and grammar at school - I don't think we learned the things he is learning until 5th or 6th grade.  He's taking it all in stride and doing an awesome job.  So proud of him! 

Here are some pictures I've been snapping lately :)

Nothing is safe....


After he got my book, the attempted destruction began (I caught him before he ruined it!)...



Taking a few steps...


  "Running" with his walker...after he tries to walk he either does his speed crawling, or he goes super fast with his walker.  Kinda funny.


Love this one.  He is playing with his favorite toy, his "popper car".  He zooms that thing constantly.  He even drives it on walls.  (and faces, bodies, windows, etc.!)


 
Nolan with his new book -- he was sooooo excited!  It released yesterday, a Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.  

 

My lovelies, posing for a pictures <3



This is the face Luke gives to people he doesn't know.  It takes him time to warm up to strangers.


And that's all for now! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekend reflections

It's been a pretty okay week in our household.  A couple really good things happened! 

1.  We accepted a bid to get our backyard fenced in.  Wooooo-Hoooooo!  My life is going to get exponentially better.  No more taking our dogs out on a leash.  I seriously can't even imagine!  Well, I can imagine alright....it's just hard for me to believe.  In a few short days, I can simply open the door and let them out.  They will have the freedom to run amok and get all their energy out.  That means they are going to annoy me less, which is always a good thing.  But the dogs are only one of the reasons I'm so excited.  The other reason is....Luke will be contained!  Once he has mastered walking I will have a glorious outdoor space for him to freely roam.  It would not be any fun for either of us if I'm constantly chasing him down to prevent him from running into the road or other forbidden areas.  Mark earned some major brownie points for agreeing to the fence -- I think having a safe enclosed area for Luke was the main selling point.  Thank you, Mark!

2.  We had a photographer come to our house this weekend for family pictures.  It was a wonderful experience!  So much different from going to a studio.  I recently took Luke to a department store to photograph him in his Halloween costume.  I had a special deal, but she went over all the standard package prices with me.  All things considered, the photographer we used was basically the same price.  There was no comparison as far as skill level/convenience.  I always assumed it would be incredibly expensive to hire a photographer, but it really wasn't.  I'm sure some photographers are ridiculously expensive....but if you find the right person it's a reasonable cost.  I cannot wait to see our pics :)   

3.  As of today, I can officially say Luke walked!  He took his first step earlier in the week (when Papa was home for lunch!).  We were super excited.  He took one step several times (not consecutively).  Today he took 6 steps in a row!!  Mark missed it, but I'm sure he'll do it again soon.  I am surprised that he is learning to walk at 10 1/2 months....Nolan walked at 12 1/2 months.  All their other milestones have been almost identical except walking.  I think the difference is, Luke has no fear!  Nolan was very scared to take his first step.  Oh how I miss having a cautious baby :) 

Luke seems more like a toddler than a baby now.  Surprisingly, I'm okay with that.  Seeing him take those steps today stirred a lot of excitement in me.  I started to think about all the doors this opens up for us.  When I take him out in public, he can walk around.  Most people are not happy about that fact.  I wasn't happy about it with Nolan, but that was because Nolan would calmly sit on my lap/sit in his stroller.  If you try to make Luke sit on your lap, you will be sweating within three minutes.  He struggles to get down constantly....and who wants their child crawling around a dirty public floor?  Not me.  The stroller is not good enough for him unless the stroller is moving...which is not always possible.  So any situation that requires us to stay in one spot (like a waiting room, sporting event, etc.) is a complete nightmare.  When he masters walking, I know I'll be trading the wrestling for chasing.  But honestly, I'll take chasing over wrestling.  At least he's happy when he's on the move. 

It was a good week.  Lots to be thankful for.  Cheers to that!  <3

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear 8 o'clock: I love you

I was bouncing Luke on my knees to the tune of "Trot trot to Boston" for the one millionth time.  He was squealing with delight, dimples in full force.  Every few minutes I smelled a whiff of poop or vomit, I couldn't decide.  It wasn't Luke.  No, that explosion had happened earlier. The smell seemed to be coming from the shoulder of my shirt.  Nothing was visibly on my shoulder...and the smell seemed to come and go.  I didn't even care anymore.  My contacts felt like they had been super glued to my eyes.  My vision was blurry from fatigue.  I felt a dull ache in my arm and leg muscles for some unknown reason.  And then a light was seen at the end of the tunnel: It was 8pm.  Oh 8pm, I could just kiss you.  It was time to put Lukie to bed.  The day was done.

It wasn't Luke's fault...he's as cute and sweet as can be.  It's just that he's a very active 10 month old boy.  By the end of the day, I am exhausted.  Especially today.  I had to drag Luke along to Nolan's dental appointment.  Nothing was quick or easy about that.  Let's just say that I spent about an hour or so walking around the parking lot while pushing Luke in his stroller.  Home naps did not happen since we were out and about.  It was just a long day. 

My remedy?  My very own spa night.  I received some new natural bath products in the mail today.  I was thrilled - perfect timing!  It's amazing how rejuvenated a person can feel after a long soak in the tub.  I had Dido playing on my iPod, and my products were great....so relaxing.  It was just what I needed.  No more poop/vomit smell (still never found the source).  Muscle aches have diminished.  Glasses are on.  Coziest pajama pants are on, and my feet are propped up in my recliner.  I'm ready to watch some good TV.  Tomorrow is a new day, and I need to get some rest!  <3   

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Smart Mama

I clearly remember my first Christmas shopping season as a mom.  I was really excited about Nolan's first Christmas and I could hardly wait to buy his gifts.  But I did wait....and wait....and wait.  It was a few weeks before Christmas and I finally got around to venturing out to the toy store.  Not a good plan.

I remember walking in and being blown away by the amount of people in the store.  And the rudeness!  Shoving, grabbing, angry stares, etc.  Christmas cheer was NOT in the air.  It was impossible to stand and look at things.  If you did, you were in someone's way.  I ended up hurriedly grabbing the toys that looked good, and then proceeded to wait in line to check out for what seemed like hours.  I vowed to never put off my Christmas shopping again.  I've kept that promise to myself, sort of.  I do a lot of internet shopping, so it's not as much of an issue.  Plus, Nolan's Christmas list is no longer filled with toys.  That makes a huge difference.   

Toys are back in my world now in a big way!  I am really excited about Christmas, and I wanted Mark and I to pick out Luke's presents together.  Luckily he was able to have a day off work and we ventured up to the toy store.  It was so much fun!!!  The store was not crowded, so we could spend a lot of time looking at things without annoying someone else.  It's exciting to see all the cool toys Luke is almost old enough for.  We wanted to get him diverse gifts.  I remember Nolan would end up with several toys that were only slightly different.  That resulted in him getting bored with his toys fairly quickly. 

Looking over the list we made for Luke, we did a good job choosing a variety of toys.  We chose a few toys that light up/talk/etc., but tried to find as many non-talking toys as possible.  Sometimes the "old school" toys are the most fun.  Now that we know what we want, I'm going to search the internet for the best price (and watch store ads).  It just feels good to have the looking/choosing part over with. 

This smart mama will not be part of the toy store madness this year.  Yessssssss!  :)      

Thursday, November 3, 2011

It's good to have you back, Lukie Luke!



This picture says it all:  Lukie is back to his happy little self.  Thank the lord! 

As I've mentioned in previous posts, he was battling teething, a flu shot, and a bad cold...all at the same time.  Plus I am wondering if he was going through some sort of growth spurt.  It was a tough couple of weeks.  Then, as quickly as Mr. Grumpy appeared, he disappeared.  

It's awesome.  I get to enjoy my little guy once again :)

Here he is, tearing apart his chair.  He loves to remove the toy ring and take out the orange lining.  He's a mini destroyer....

 
This evening, he decided to drag the orange liner over to the couch, and then use it as a step to help him reach forbidden items from the couch.  We're not sure if he discovered that trick by accident, or if he planned it out.  If it was intentional, we are in trouble!  lol


We notice his play is becoming more sophisticated, which is very cool to see.  He is able to put a ball into his shape sorter and figure out his activity blocks.  Toys used to mainly be chewing objects for him, and now he seems to actually play with some of his toys. 

A surprising development: Luke gave up his pacifier!  I was floored!  There seemed to be a connection between him not being able to breath well through his nose (due to his cold) and pacifier refusal.  We seized the opportunity to get rid of them.  He hasn't used a pacifier in two or three days.  It's funny to me that I recently wrote a post about pacifiers, and then he gave them up days later!  I love not having to look for a pacifier every time we wanted him to sleep.  And I'm excited that we'll have one less battle during toddlerhood.  Thank you, Lukie!

He is saying Mama a lot more the last few days....he used to only say it if he was upset and yelling for me.  He's said it a few times now when he's not upset, which makes me happy!  He even said Papa today for the first time!!  Sadly, Mark was washing his hands in the next room and didn't hear it. 

The first year of life definitely comes with it's own set of challenges (well, all ages come with challenges!), but it sure is packed full of exciting developments!  Nolan is almost 10 years old, and so far no year has been as eventful as the first year.  I intend to fully enjoy the last 6 or 7 weeks of Luke's first year.  Time flies!  <3