Thursday, February 28, 2008

a girl's gotta accessorize

i'm the queen of the world!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I went home over the weekend and spent some quality time with my family. This included some one-on-one time with my niece, Evelyn, my sister's daughter. Ella and Evie adore each other, and over the last four years, have grown almost as close as sisters. For as much as Evie loves playing with Ella, it seemed she was happy to have me to herself for a couple of days.

Evie has an imagination like no other child I know. She can tell the most amazing story, you'd swear the characters and storyline were straight from a children's book. This weekend, I had the honor of becoming one of Evie's characters...

She adorned me with a handmade crown (sheets of paper held together by scotch tape), draped me in a beautifully woven robe (my mom's bed sheet), donned me with white silk gloves (from Homecoming of '97) and had me perch on my royal throne (a barstool). She crawled onto my lap and proclaimed us to the nations (my Dad, brother and sister), "Queen Amanda and Princess Evie!"

Our rule lasted all of one minute, until she crawled off of my lap and asked me to go play "hibernation" with her.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

the ultimate fight sister club

She looks as sweet as pie, doesn't she? Ella is my sensitive, creative, introspective child. As the oldest, she tends to take control of situations and likes to do things her own way. She loves Britten dearly, and in recent months, they've become incredibly close, never wanting to do anything or go anywhere without each other. It's really sweet. But like any sibling relationship, they fight. Not just your average fight, where one may kick, hit or pull the other's hair. They have taken sibling rivalry to whole new level. It usually involves toys getting thrown across the room and screams so loud the windows rattle (believe me, I'm not exaggerating). It's not as though I sit on the sidelines and let them have it out. I do my fair share of intervening, doing my best to teach them how to play nicely together. But there are times, like yesterday, where I'm not able to prevent a fight from escalating into a volcanic eruption. I was upstairs, taking care of Chloe, when I heard the scream. As parents, you know that your children have a variety of unique screams; the happy scream, the mad "don't take my toy away" scream, the "I want to annoy you" scream, and the "I'm really, really hurt" scream. Well, this was the "I'm really, really hurt" scream, and it was coming from Britten. I rushed down the stairs to find her laid out on the floor holding her nose. Ella was standing by, looking incredibly guilty. Within seconds, the bridge of Britten's nose looked like this...

and this...

Apparently, what I gathered between sobs, Britten had been trying to take a ball away from Ella while Ella was playing with "the ball toy" (a big plastic toy that shoots balls out of it). Ella didn't appreciate the fact that Britten took her ball so she decided to pick up the "ball toy" and throw it at Britten, hitting her smack between the eyes. Ouch! So much for diplomacy! Of course, Ella knows better (hence the extreme guilt she had written all over her face) and I dealt with it her accordingly.

Moments after the assault, they ran off playing together, as if nothing ever happened. Funny how siblings are. Later, I overheard Britten say to Ella, "You're a nice big sister, Ella." And she really is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

looking for a photographer?

Then look no further than here! My friend, Jennifer, is one of the most talented photographers I know. An artist by trade, Jennifer has the knack to capture the real moments (as opposed to staged!) with a click of her camera. I've personally hired her to photograph my children, and if you've been to my house, you'd have seen her work in almost every room! As a mother of 3 very young children, like myself, she has a gift for working with kids (although, you'll notice from her website that she has the talent to take beautiful pictures of anything and anyone!). She's not only a GREAT photographer, but is very patient and incredibly fun to work with. Check out her website by clicking here. You will NOT be disappointed!

the queen of the nile bed

At almost 4 months old, Chloe is still sleeping with us in our bed. I know, I know, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), this is something you seriously frown upon, but at this stage in life, it's the easiest and most convenient way to do things. I do, however, intend to transition her into a crib as soon as we transition Britten into a big girl bed in Ella's room. As I lay in bed last night, wide awake at 4:00am, having been woken up for the third or fourth time by cramped limbs, I realized this transition needs to happen sooner versus later. As I watched my sweet baby sleep, as peaceful as can be, I thought to myself, how on earth can a 14 lb. baby take up over half of a California king-sized bed? So, alas, the days of co-sleeping with my baby will soon be over. For as much as I'll miss her warm little body next to mine (and the convenience of nursing in bed), I know a good night sleep is in order. I guess we'll just wait and see how she feels about it!

If anyone has any recommendations about how to get a toddler and preschooler to successfully share a room, by all means, PLEASE send them my way!

Monday, February 25, 2008

home again, home again, jiggity jig!

I had the wonderful opportunity to escape reality this weekend and go back home, the town I grew up in, to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday. I had one of the most relaxing days I've had in a long time, and I owe that to my husband. While I was celebrating with my family, enjoying great food and better company, he was at home watching my oldest daughters, Ella & Britten. My little companion, Chloe, was an absolute angel and handled the traveling, the activity and of course, all of the handling like a trooper. I know Chloe looks a little concerned in this picture, grabbing onto my shirt for dear life, but for the most part, she was all smiles.
I also enjoyed some quality time with my sister, Jen, and her family. Even though we live 1/2 hour apart, we're both so busy that we rarely get to see each other. We've recently vowed that we're going to have play dates every other week and make a "sister date" once a month, so I really hope we can make that happen!
This is my little brother, Adam. He's the baby of the family. Although he looks a little creepy in this picture, he's really one of the coolest guys I know (btw, he tried to look creepy for the picture, so I'm at liberty to say whatever I please)! He was my traveling buddy this weekend and we had a riot, reminiscing about old times. See the "mini-me" version of Adam in the background? That's my Dad. :)
Here is the birthday girl herself. Or should I say, birthday girls? This is my beautiful mom, on the right, and her equally beautiful identical twin sister, Joyce, on the left. Can you believe they're 50 (or to be more accurate, turning 50 on Wednesday)? I can't. In fact, nobody can. My mom is constantly mistaken as one of my sisters. How can she be a Grandma, everyone asks. A Grandma of 9 (almost 10) grandkids, mind you!

So, my trip back home was a success all around. I had a wonderful time with my family, some quality time with Chloe and even a chance to SLEEP IN until 8:30am! Amazing, I know.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Money, Money, Money...MONEY!

Ella: "Daddy, I want another piece of chocolate."

Daddy: "No, Ella, you've had enough."

Ella: "Daddy, I want another piece of chocolate!"

Daddy: "I said NO, Ella."

Ella: "Daddy, I really want another piece of chocolate!"

Daddy: "And I really want a million dollars, but that's not going to happen."

Ella, with a confused look on her face: "Daddy, you sound like Mr. Crabs." Ella exits the room.

For those of you familiar with Spongebob Squarepants (like us, unfortunately) would know that Mr. Crabs is the money hungry and very frugile crab who's always looking for ways to make an extra dollar.

Monday, February 18, 2008

while the cat's away, the mice will...

...SLEEP. Today, I had the first opportunity in weeks to take a nice, relaxing and oh-so-necessary siesta. Ahhhhhh! It felt so good. I can count on one hand, literally, the number of naps I've taken since Chloe was born. Having three children, ages 4 and under, doesn't allow for much down time. It's go, go, go from the moment the rooster crows (rooster being Ella, as she's the first to rise at 6:45am) right up until we tuck the kiddos into bed at 8:00pm. Fortunately, Chloe is finally developing a routine of her own, going to bed at 9:15pm. This allows a bit of "free time" before we fall into bed around 10:30pm. Needless to say, in the last three months, I've developed grayish-black bags under my eyes that I'm hoping will disappear once Chloe starts letting me sleep through the night.

My husband got home today after almost 4 days of traveling, and needless to say, I was totally and utterly exhausted. I was supposed to bring Ella to a doctor's appointment this afternoon, but after seeing my "zombie-like" state, my husband graciously offered to bring her instead. I was elated! The appointment fell over Britten's nap, which left me alone with ONE very easy, compliant, happy baby. Knowing I had about an hour to myself, I cuddled Chloe into my arms, carried her to my bed, and laid down with her beside me. It felt like a little taste of heaven on earth. Within moments, we were sleeping. Deep, dreamless, sleep. I woke up, 45 minutes later, a brand new woman...Until tomorrow, that is. :)

do you ever...

...get the urge to just squish their little cheeks?!?!

sisterly love

Friday, February 15, 2008

from the mouth of babes

Pulling into Ella's preschool parking lot, still not fully awake and a little cranky, I almost hit another mini-van mom who was pulling out of her parking spot. I hit the brakes and fortunately missed her, but was way too close for comfort.

Ella: "Mommy, what did you do? Why did you almost hit that other car?"

Me: "Oh, I don't know, honey." (The typical response you give your child when you're too tired to answer)

Ella: "Did you forget to look both ways?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess I did."

Ella: "Were you only looking straight ahead?"

Me: "Yeah, I guess I was."

Ella: "You need to pay more attention."

Me: "You know what, honey? You're right. Thank you."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

my valentine

I'll never forget the day I first heard about you. I was still attending college, minding my own business and somewhat seriously dating another boy. Out of the blue, I get a phone call from my older sister, who, at the time, was living in the Twin Cities with her husband and interviewing for a new job.

A few minutes into the conversation, Jen exclaimed, "Amanda, I met the man you're going to marry!"

"What?!" The comment completely caught me off guard. This man she was referring to was someone she had met that morning through an interviewing process at a small web company, and this man just happened to be YOU. After a 20 minute conversation, Jen determined you were not only a wonderful Christian man but someone worthy of marrying her little sister! Wow, you must've made a GREAT first impression. :) Nonetheless, I blew off the comment and thought nothing more about it or you. Fast forward about 3 months...

Jen got the job at the small web company and I was...well...going through a mid-life crisis at age 19. After much prayer and consideration, I made the very difficult and emotional decision to leave school and move to the Twin Cities. I needed to regain control over myself and most importantly, seek God's will for my life. I had every intention of going back to school the following fall, but God had a different plan (as He always does).

My sister and brother-in-law graciously opened their home to me and agreed to let me live with them until I found a job and got back on my feet (this took about 5 months). Jen immediately wanted to introduce us (and even oh-so-subtly placed my senior picture on her computer so you would notice it --- which we found out later that you did, in fact, notice it and even oh-so-subtly asked Jen about it). Considering I just went through a bad break up and had sworn off guys for a while, I wanted nothing to do with set-ups or blind dates. I wasn't opposed to the idea of meeting you, though, as long as there was no pressure involved. Needless to say, I was new to town and lonely as heck. I wanted to meet people my own age and start making friends! Jen decided I needed to casually stop by the office so she could casually introduce us. Which I did, a couple days later.

Meeting you for the first time was something I'll never forget. We said all of 5 sentences to each other, shook hands (and yes, I noticed you had hairy arms), and I walked away knowing you were special. I never would've imagined that you felt the same way, but apparently, you did. A day later, my sister received an email from you that would set in motion the future of our lives.

The email said something like this:

Hey Jen,
Would it be awkward if I asked your sister to the company event this Saturday? I figured since she just moved to town this may be a good way for her to meet some people. I also thought if you and Ryan were going, we could have a lot fun. Just let me know if you think I should ask her or if it'd be better if you ask her.

Jen, of course, felt that YOU needed to ask me so I didn't think she put you up to it. So you did, in a not-so-smooth, but very memorable fashion:

"Hey Amanda, I have this extra ticket for the company event this Saturday and I don't really want a good ticket to go to waste. Do you wanna come with me?"

Of course, I did.

We spent the next two weeks together before deciding to make it "official." 11 months later we were engaged and 5 1/2 months later, married. Jen's prediction came true: You were the man I was going to marry. We've been married almost 7 years now, the best 7 years of my life. We have 3 beautiful daughters and such a promising future ahead of us. Thank you for being such a wonderful husband, father and friend. I love you!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Here's a stroll down memory lane...

Our very first date, the company event, at The Carousel in St. Paul (March 2000)
Our first camping trip with Jen & Ryan. We are pictured here (with my sister, Jen) on the ferry to our destination - a very remote island in the middle of nowhere - Believe me, it sounds way more exotic than it was! (May 2000)

Our Engagement Picture (March 2001)
Our Wedding (July 28th, 2001)

Our Honeymoon (July 2001)

Done with the "honeymoon"stage and on to the next stage of life...7 1/2 months pregnant with our first child, Ella (September 2003)

hair is a wonderful thing

As you can imagine, we constantly get remarks about Chloe's head of hair. Most comments are uttered in sheer amazement, some funny, some not so funny. But the other day, while strolling my baby around the mall, a gentleman in the elevator had the most unique response yet.

"Wow, girl, you make that toupee look very real. I had no idea they made toupees for babies."

I felt that remark deserved to go down in blogging history!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

the "mother"load of multi-tasking

I wish I would've had a camera so I could've captured how utterly ridiculous I must've looked while running errands with Chloe tonight. I had to make a pit stop at Papa Murphy's in order to pick up a meal for a girlfriend who recently had a baby. As a side note, I did feel a little bit bad about not personally preparing a meal for my dear friend, but really, I barely have enough time and energy to prepare meals for our own family, let alone someone else's. Besides, Papa Murphy's makes a mean Hawaiian pizza. Back to my story. For as much as I wanted to leave sleeping Chloe in the car (admit it, moms, you all think like that!), I obviously knew I had to carry Chloe, bundled in her car seat, into the store with me. An order of 1 large pizza, cinnamon sticks, a side salad and 2 liter of Dr. Pepper later, I was ready to go...But wait! I only had two arms, and ONE was already taken by the car seat! What's a girl to do? My pride wouldn't let me ask anyone for help, and apparently, all those "Minnesota nice" manners flew out the window while those hovering around me were waiting for their pizza. Fortunately, those "mom instincts" kicked right in and I knew what I had to do! Balancing Chloe in the arch of my right arm, I was somehow able to squeeze the 2 liter under my arm, leaning it against the car seat. Next, using my available right hand, I placed the large pizza (uncooked, so a little floppy) in my left hand. Once it was secure, I built a pyramid of sorts by placing the cinnamon sticks, along with the salad, on top of the pizza. I was ready to roll. I had parked close enough to the front door where I only needed to walk about 20 feet, balancing all of this food...and my baby. One baby step at a time, and after one very close call, I made it safe and sound. Everything was still in tact, including my pride, and I drove away from Papa Murphy's, very thankful for my children and the multi-tasking abilities they have taught me.


Need I say more?

i'm all tied up

Everyday, I go into the bathroom to grab a tie, headband or my clip from the bathroom drawer in order to pull back my beautiful "mom hair." Everyday, I open the drawer and find my organizer devoid of any ties, headbands or clips. Everyday, I turn around to find all of my ties, headbands and even my clip wound tightly around the bathroom knob. So I proceed, everyday, to remove them, one by one, and put them back in their organizer, knowing full well, that tomorrow, as every other day, I will find my ties, headbands and my clip back on our bathroom doorknob.

Note: For those of you wondering, I DO have a child prevention latch on my bathroom drawer, but aside from annoying me, it obviously serves no purpose.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

a girl's gotta have shoes

Chloe is SO excited to share a photo of her first, very own, brand new, something never before worn by Ella or Britten, pair of shoes!

Alas, if I must cover her edible little piggies, it might as well be with something as adorable of these...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Pumpkin Flax Muffins

If you're looking for a yummy and mostly nutritious snack for your kids, look no further. This recipe for Pumpkin Flax Muffins (it's actually a vegan recipe, although I am not a vegan) is such a hit with my girls and it's sooooo easy to make. Seriously, my girls are the pickiest eaters on the planet and they LOVE these. I thought, if my kids love these, surely, yours will, too. Enjoy!

2 T. Flax Seed Meal
6 T. Water
1 1/2 C. Sugar (I know, it's alot of sugar, but it's the only unhealthy thing in the recipe)
1 Cup of Canned Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Applesauce
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
2/3 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin pan
2. Whisk together flax seed meal and water. Mix in sugar, pumpkin and applesauce.
3. In a large bowl, stir together both whole wheat and all purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cloves. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture; stir until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nothing like PB & J!

With my husband out of town, I was debating between making a casserole or PB & J sandwiches for me and the girls for dinner. After very little debate, I opted for the easier and least messiest of the two, the classic PB & J on multi-grain bread with sliced organic pears as a side.

After a few bites of her sandwich, Ella stopped and looked my way.

"Yummy, Mommy. You made a very nice dinner tonight."

These are a few of my favorite things

1. My red slippers.
2. My black sweat pant(s). I have like 5 pair and they're all great!
3. My coffeepot. I don't know what I'd do without my morning cup of coffee!
4. My Treadmill, aka "My Sanity Saver."
5. My green U of M, Morris sweatshirt.
6. Chloe's little toes.
7. Britten's big brown eyes.
8. Ella's sweet smile.
9. My husbands back rubs...they are better than any professional! If only HE enjoyed giving them! :)
10. My new boots. A Christmas gift from my wonderful husband!
11. My wireless headphones, when they're not on the fritz! They let me watch movies/television shows while I'm running on the treadmill without having to blow out the TV speakers.
12. My B-I-B-L-E, another sanity saver and most important book I own, hands down!
13. All of my Christmas music CD's. I admit, I'm a Christmas music addict and would listen to it all year round, if I could. I also LOVE decorating my home for Christmas and get choked up a little when I have to put things away until the next Christmas season. :(
14. All of my candles. I'm also a candle addict and burn them almost every day, as long as my house is clean. There's something so cozy about having a clean house with candles burning everywhere...
15. My pillow.
16. Chloe's hair. I've had people ask me if I'm going to cut it soon...Are you kidding ?!?! I LOVE it!
17. My adorable girls and my wonderful husband. I didn't feel right about not putting them on my "favorite things" list, but really, it goes without saying. :)

That's it for now.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

From Back to Tummy!

My little Chloe conquered the major feat of rolling from her back to her tummy this morning! Chloe turns 3 months old tomorrow, so needless to say, she's a busy little baby. My other girls weren't rolling until they were just over 4 months old. She's been working on rolling from back to tummy for weeks now, but when it comes to tummy to back, she has no desire to move. She just lays on her tummy, face planted to the floor, fussing for me to roll her over. We'll see what happens, but I have no desire for her to continue conquering these little (or BIG) feats too quickly. With as busy as I already am, I certainly don't need her walking for at least another 9 months!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Half Moon

The only time cellulite is cute...

...And it's oh so cute!

The Culprits!

Before calling a repairman to fix my treadmill, Mr. I Won't Pay Anyone Else To Do Jobs Around the House (AKA My Husband)  decided to open up the treadmill and take a gander at the motor.  Low and behold, to his surprise, he found an assortment of CD's, DVD's, pictures and an insurance card that had been "fed to the treadmill monster."  We never have to wonder about guilty parties at our house...When asked who did it, Ella happily admitted, "Me & Britty!" Fortunately, after pulling out the goodies, my treadmill was as good as new and we found several of our favorite movies that had been missing for weeks!