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I'm a twenty-nine year old Army wife currently living near a large Army post. I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper, the Internet, cloth diapers, and ridiculous TV shows. I'm a stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, AJ and Amelia. We also have a 6 year old beagle named Abby who is as dumb as a box of rocks.
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Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, 2012!

I haven't been the best at keeping up with the old blog since I made my triumphant comeback, but I think that is okay.  It means that my real life is taking a front seat, and that is what its all about after all.  It also means that being pregnant with an almost 3-year old is kicking my ass everyday and its taking every ounce of my energy to sit on the couch and watch tv at the end of the day, much less come up with something interesting to write on ye olde blog.

Its been a few weeks since I updated here, so I'll fill you in on what happened during my absence. 

December was busy.  Long days (and sometimes evenings) at work meant that we cherished every free moment we had as a family.  In the middle of the month we hosted a Bears vs. Packers party for the Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers football game.  I made a ton of food, including a knock-off of Portillo's famous "Chopped Salad," along with heartburn inducing Buffalo Chicken Dip and a bunch of other yummy munchies.

We also attended the holiday party for hubby's unit, which was held at the post ice rink.  AJ was able to ice skate for the first time ever with her daddy, which was the cutest thing ever.  Overall, it was a fun and low-key holiday party, which is always nice.

That same week we pretended it was Christmas at our house and woke up one morning and opened all our gifts that had arrived at the house.  I got a new phone and a case from hubby and AJ and AJ got a lot of books from us.  We didn't go crazy this year because I knew that our families would get her tons of gifts, and I was right!  She definitely made out!  I am planning to put some stuff up again this year to save for the summer when she hits her "present dry spell" after Christmas and birthday time are over!  Haha!

The weekend before Christmas we packed the car and headed south to spend the holiday in sunny Florida with my family.  My parents have a place by the beach and we were lucky to get some nice, warm weather while we were there.  We spent a few days at the beach, went to the zoo, cooked, ate out, swam, built sandcastles, looked for shells and enjoyed the company of family.

We returned home on the 30th and spent New Years Eve unpacking, doing laundry and relaxing.  We put AJ to bed a little later than normal, but still at a reasonable hour.  Hubby and I watched some episodes of the Walking Dead, ate some snacks and caught the countdown and ball dropping at midnight.  By the time we finally got to sleep it was close to 1 am and I was really regretting the late night this morning when AJ woke me up at 6 am.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meal Planning

I mentioned briefly that we've been following the Dave Ramsey plan to pay off debt and get in control of our finances.  One of the main focuses (foci?) for us has been setting an actual budget and sticking to it.  One of the ways we are able to stick to the budget is because we basically went through our spending and tracked what we had been spending in each category and that was the budget.  Ha!

Basically, we saw that we spend about $400* a month on groceries and set the grocery budget to $400.  Smart, no?  The main way I'm able to stay within budget for food is by meal planning.  I always, always, always go over if I don't make a meal plan.  In fact, I just randomly buy things because I have not been gifted with the ability to know what ingredients are included in the meals we eat.

Another way I go over budget is when I take the husband to the grocery store with me.  Its not that he grabs stuff and puts it in the cart, he doesn't.  I just feel rushed.  I get overwhelmed and don't take the extra 2 seconds to look at the prices and end up spending more.  Also, he tends to think that if something is on the list we should purchase the largest available size, regardless of how much we actually need.

But that problem is neither here nor there.  Moving along.

On a semi-regular basis I sit down and decide what meals we will have based on our calendar.  I plan it this way so that I don't accidentally schedule us to have a full Thanksgiving dinner on a night when I have a 6 pm meeting or D is going out to eat with co-workers.  Our household basically runs from my MacBook/iPhone/iPad calendar, so it works.  Whenever D has something for work he either gives me the dates or plugs it in himself and makes sure to sync it with the Cloud.  Yay Apple!

I also go through any new cooking magazines and pick out any recipes that we want to try and I add those to the mental list of meals we will make.  This is where using the calendar to plan meals comes in super handy, mostly because I have zero ability to remember the foods we typically make and enjoy (partially due to pregnancy brain, but also because I just have a terrible memory as it is).  I can easily go back more than a year if I want to and see what we had for dinner the week of October 12, 2011.  Its fabulous.  I can't tell you the number of times I've looked back and seen something that we loved and completely forgot to ever make again.  Its fun to pull random stuff out and surprise the hubs!

Skirt Steak with Parmesan Polenta*, Salad (I don't like gorgonzola, so we'll use Parm)
Flounder with Spicy Remoulade* and Broccoli
Steak Fajitas with Guacamole** and Tortilla Chips
Pasta e Fagioli Soup** with Salad and Bread (freezer meal)
Spaghetti with Sausage** and Garlic Bread (partial freezer meal)
Roast Chicken with Balsamic Bell Peppers*, Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
Mozzarella Chicken Sandwiches** (Hub's all time fave)
Spicy Tofu and Veggie Curry** over Rice

We also have simple meals like pork tenderloin or chicken breasts fairly often.  Those are usually accompanied by a veggie, rice, and salad or some other easy side dish that we have on hand.  I have a canister of Greek seasoning that makes plain grilled chicken breasts taste gourmet and hubs likes to use a dry BBQ rub on the pork before he grills it up.  When we have these nights I usually make more meat than we need so we can use the leftovers on salads for lunch.

All of the above recipes are either ones that we are excited to try (*) or tried and true family favorites (**).  If there is a recipe available online, I've linked it up for you, so go ahead and click away and start trying some of the stuff we eat and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

25 Weeks

So I'm a little behind on posting in general, which means that my ever-so-exciting pregnancy updates have fallen by the wayside a bit.

This past weekend I turned 25 weeks pregnant with this second baby girl.

Physically:

Not only am I exhausted (what happened to second trimester energy?) but I'm physically hurting.  I don't know if its because I'm so much busier this time around, but by the end of the day I can only manage to lay on the couch for about 30 minutes before I have to go get in bed and lay down.  At least my sleep has been pretty good.  I keep thinking that any day now I'm going to start waking up to pee and toss and turn like I did with AJ, but so far nothing.  I'll consider myself lucky there!

I did have to break down and buy some Pepcid for the heartburn this week.  I had it really bad with AJ and so far it hasn't been as bad as before, but I'm just hoping that the intensity doesn't increase too much in the next few months.

Mentally:

Its hard to imagine having a different baby.  By that I mean, I can imagine having a baby around the house, but I always seem to picture AJ when I think about it.  Just recently I've started subconsciously realizing that it will be different, but still familiar when she arrives.  I am excited to see if she looks like AJ did as a baby or maybe she'll be the opposite!

Preparedness:

We're pretty prepared as far as gear and stuff goes, clothes are the only items we really need as of now. Having another same-sex baby helps with that aspect.  If only I'd held onto all those newborn and 0-3 clothes!  Ha!  I'm really focused on a bunch of other stuff right now, so I wouldn't say that mentally I'm prepared.  Once I get through the holidays, then I will start to focus on baby time.  I think that if we can ever decide on a name that will help, too.

What I'm Looking Forward To:

Last time I posted it was painting the room and getting stuff ready for baby, and we did that a few weeks ago!  D painted and I really like the way the room turned out.  Now I think I'm starting to look forward to stuff that means baby will be here soon, like ordering newborn cloth diapers and washing clothes.  I am also looking forward to her being here so we will be forced to name her!  Haha!

That's it for now.  Hopefully I'll be back here more regularly in the new few weeks, because then I'll most likely be taking a little break for Christmas and New Years while we travel.

Monday, December 3, 2012

November: The Month of the Car Repair?

Remember back at the beginning of November when I said that it was going to be the month of the freezer meal?  Well, it turns out that was a good thing I have a stocked freezer since we had several hundred dollars in unplanned car maintenance and repairs over the past month.

Without going into too much detail, it all started when D's car failed the yearly state inspection, which is required for renewing the registration.  We followed that with a flat tire repair on my car which resulted in a "sidewall failure"* a few days later and us needing to buy a whole new tire for my SUV.   If you've ever bought tires for an SUV, you know those babies ain't cheap!  Did I mention that we were 200 miles into the drive back to Hometown, USA when this all went down?  Oh, I also forgot to mention that AJ decided she was ready to potty train a mere 5 days before we embarked on the 16 hour road trip.  Sound like fun yet?

Just when I thought we were done with all the car shenanigans, on November 30, I spent the early morning hours preparing myself and a toddler for an outing to the post office, grocery store and lunch only to walk out to a car with a completely dead battery (or so I thought).  Two roadside assistance claims, a tow truck and the weekend later, we are replacing the starter as well as the power steering hose.

Now, things could be much, much worse.  Like thousands of dollars worse.  But still.  I wasn't planning to drop a G on repairing our cars this month.

All in all, I am feeling very woe-is-me today, and am attempting to rectify this by bringing you all down with me, obviously.  I think its the combination of everything hitting all at once that is really getting to me.  With Christmas fast approaching and a baby on the horizon in 2013, I feel that there is way more month than money right now, and I hate feeling that way.

On a more serious note, I want to explain that at the beginning of 2012, we committed to living the Dave Ramsey method of money management and debt reduction.  Up until now its gone really, really well.  We have paid a lot of debt off and still managed to have a bit of fun.  We've been able to manage a few emergencies (Murphies) without touching our actual "emergency fund" until now.  I can't express enough how glad I am that we decided to follow this plan.  If we hadn't we'd be up a creek without a paddle right now.  Just the fact that we'll be able to pay cash for the necessary repairs without putting anything on credit this holiday season is a complete and total win for me.

So anyway, that is my little soapbox for today.  If you're interested in hearing more about our journey to becoming debt-free or the Dave Ramsey plan in general, please email me.  If you have any extra cash laying around that you want to donate to the "This American Wife" Car Repair fund, let me know, I'll gladly accept any and all donations.  ;)

*"sidewall failure" is the technical term that the super-professional mechanic/dairy queen worker at the gas station in VA gave us to describe the problem before informing us that he couldn't fix the problem (thank God!) and we'd need a new tire, which we could buy at Firestone, just down the road a few miles.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

21 Weeks

Its been a little while since I posted about my pregnancy, so I figured I'd give you all a break from the cooking posts for a bit and let you know how things are going so far.

I'm officially more than halfway through this pregnancy, which is insane to me!  I feel like I just peed on the little stick like 3 weeks ago!  I'm not sure I did such a good job documenting how life went when I was pregnant with AJ, and I know I haven't done a good job at all so far this time around, so I think I'm going to start trying to get better about posting on a (somewhat) weekly basis.

Here's how my pregnancy with baby girl #2 is going so far.

Physically:

I'm doing pretty well.  I feel like I'm definitely showing (bigger, sooner, faster!) than with AJ, but that is apparently normal with subsequent pregnancies.  I tweaked something in my back sometime last week and was basically an invalid for about 5 days.  We'd run our necessary errands or do some chores around the house and then I'd lay on the heating pad for the afternoon.   Fun times.  So far though, my back has released and feels much, much better, so I'm definitely hoping this lasts!  Otherwise I haven't really had any of the major pregnancy complaints that I experienced with AJ, so I'm counting my lucky stars on that!

Mentally:

I'm starting to realize that in 4 months (eek) we're going to have another baby around here.  For a long time it just didn't really sink in, life seemed exactly the same and it was hard to imagine a baby in our house at this point.  I even had a fleeting thought like, OMG, what did we do!  Haha! We've been talking about the baby a lot more, AJ seems like she's getting a little more into it and now that we know the sex, I think it makes things seem more real.

As far as hormones and emotions go, D will be the first to tell you that I am crazy.  I'm not emotional at all like I was last time, but rather just have an angry attitude about most things.  I have been trying to stifle it, but by the end of the day I'm usually in a rage.  Lucky D, he gets to come home to the best of me!  Haha!  Sorry, hunny.  ;)

Preparedness:

Well, the nursery closet has been cleaned out (it was basically a store-all before) and the girl clothes have all been organized according to sizes.  I think we're (and by "we" I obvi mean "D") going to paint next weekend and then get the crib set up sometime after that.  I have a big nursery design all planned out in my head, but I'm probably going to need to share that with D before anything really big happens.  Ha!  We're going to Hometown, USA for Thanksgiving and while we're there I think we're planning to pick up a dresser at Ikea, so that will be the last piece of furniture needed.  I feel like we have tons of time left to do all this stuff, and then I remember that we're going to be out of town for Thanksgiving, after that we'll have like 2 weeks at home before we leave for vacay over Christmas.  Then it will be 2013.  Uh..... not prepared for that!

As far as gear goes, I've ordered a few new diapers and covers and my Ergo came in the mail today (yay!).  I was planning on buying one and randomly got an email from Amazon last week telling me that they were marked down to $99 (from $120ish).  So of course I ordered it.  (Side note: how does Amazon know?!?  They are evil, but I love them.)

What I'm Looking Forward To:

Painting and seeing the room come together.  I've got some stuff from around the house that will be going in as decor and I think I'm going to make a few things and order a few others.  Its definitely not going to be a girly-pink room like AJ's was, but I am excited about how I hope it will turn out!  I'm also looking forward to seeing family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

So there you have it.  I'll probably post again in a week or two with any changes related to pregnancy crazies, the nursery, etc.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Breakdown

So, a few days ago I blogged about how I was going to make 75,000 freezer meals during the month of November and promised I'd come back and update you all on how they taste, how easy they were to prepare, all that.  Well, I can officially say that this weekend I made most of the recipes to which I posted links.

Here's how it went.

Saturday afternoon I threw a bunch of stuff in a huge stock pot to make a big batch of Chili.  This recipe is big enough that I can make a single batch and have enough for about 4 meals (one for the night I make it, and then 3 to freeze).  Since its just me and D who eat Chili (AJ refuses), the recipe itself actually makes 8 large servings.  This weekend I made a veggie version of the recipe, mostly because all the other freezer meals I made had meat in them and I didn't want to buy anymore meat than I already had.  It turned out great.

Yesterday morning I set out to make the 7 (actually 8) crockpot freezer meals from this post on the Six Sister's Stuff blog.  I didn't make the Chicken Cacciatore because it called for jarred pasta sauce and D refuses to eat store bought sauce.  Its the Eye-talian in him, I guess.  ;)  I also made King Ranch Chicken Casserole that I split between two square casseroles instead of using just the big 13x9 inch dish.  Again, since its really just the two of us eating certain meals, we don't need a casserole large enough to feed a small country (and I get two meals for the price of one)!

I started cooking at 8:44 and was completely finished with all 8 recipes at 10:26, so it took me just under 2 hours, which was fabulous for 8 (technically 10) meals!

I started by browning the ground beef and onion for Taco Soup (1) and while that was cooking, I got three chicken breasts seasoned and baking in the oven for the King Ranch Casserole (2 & 3).  These are the only two recipes for which I had to actually cook something, so I figured I'd get it out of the way early.

While the meats were cooking, I cut up my slab of pork ribs for the BBQ Ribs (4 & 5).  I bought a 4 lb rack of ribs and the recipe called for 1-2 lbs, so I was able to get two meals out of the one package of meat (yay!).  I poured the BBQ sauce over the meat and had two meals finished in less than 5 minutes!

I moved on to the chicken dishes next.  I assembled the Chicken Fettucini Alfredo (6), Maple-Dijon Glazed Chicken (7), and Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Corn and Black Beans (8) next.  These were all basically dump in the bag recipes as well, but I did have to do some chopping for the cilantro-lime chicken.

Beef Stew (9) was more of the same, a bit of chopping (carrots and potatoes) and opening of cans, then dump all in the bag.  The French Dip Sandwiches (10) were the easiest out of all, just put the roast in the bag, pour two cans of Beef Consomme over it and you're done!

After I finished all those recipes, I went back to the ground beef and added it to the bag of canned and frozen ingredients.  Once that was done, I cooked the onions and peppers for the casseroles and then you have to simmer all the other ingredients on the stove before combining everything into the casserole dish.  Again, super easy, just dump everything into the pan and stir it up.  After that you layer it kind of like a lasagna, top with remaining cheese and I covered with parchment paper and then tin foil and popped one in the freezer and one in the fridge for dinner last night.

This really was a super easy cooking "day" and so far things have been yummy.  I will have to see if the crockpot meals are as good as the casserole, I've never made freezer crockpot meals before, just casseroles.  As long as they turn out good, then I'd definitely say that they're worth the time it took to prepare them.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November: The Month of the Freezer Meal

In an effort to curb grocery costs and make life easier for myself, I've been researching and saving recipes for meals that I can prepare ahead of time that freeze well.

When I was pregnant with AJ, one of the best things I did was make and freeze about 7 meals that we were able to pull out of the freezer after she was born.  In the first days of new motherhood, it was invaluable to know that dinner was in the freezer if sh!t hit the fan.  I'm planning to do the same preparation a few weeks before baby #2 arrives.

In the past three years, it seems that crock pot cooking and freezer meals have become way more popular and I've found a few websites that have some great-looking recipes I'm going to test-run before the baby arrives.  One main site is the Six Sisters' Website.  They claim that you can prepare and complete 8 dinners in just over an hour.  I am planning to test their theory this month.

I also have a few of my own recipes that I know freeze well that my family likes that I'm planning to make this month.  I think I'll have more than 10 meals in the freezer that we can pull out as life gets crazy and we start to travel for the holidays.  I can't wait to just be able to pull a pan out of the deep-freezer when we get home from a trip and have a home-cooked meal the night we get home!

Here are the meals I'm planning to make this month:

The only two of the above recipes that I've made before are chili and homemade pasta sauce, which, technically I don't make, since D makes it.  The chili recipe I make is loosely based off the one I linked above, but I've changed it so much that its really different from the above recipe.

I'm kind of excited to get all these prepped and frozen, there is nothing better than having a fully-stocked freezer, and not just with frozen pizzas, but actual meals.  I also feel like most recipes for freezer meals are big enough that we can eat off them for at least an extra day with the leftovers.

So, if you'd like to join me in cooking up a storm, feel free, but I'll be posting about how these recipes come together, if we like them and what my overall thoughts on them are.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How I Met Your Father

I'm linking up with Becky at From Mrs. to Mama this morning because I thought the questions were cute and that you all would enjoy reading about my relationship with D.  If you'd like to participate and link up, you can find her blog, here.


1.   Tell us about how and when you met your love and what attracted you most to him.

D and I met twelve years ago when we were Juniors in high school.  We went to different high schools, both private.  His was an all-boys Catholic Military school, mine was a co-ed Catholic school.  Because we lived in the same general area and both went to Catholic schools, we actually had a lot of mutual friends.  In fact, I think its almost funny that it took us so long to meet, given the facts.

When he was in primary school, he had a few close friends, Mike*, John*, and Jim*, and they both ended up going to my high school.  Well, it just worked out that my three closest friends in high school ended up being Mike, John and Jim.  Right before our junior year of high school started, John found out his family was moving to California, so we had a big going away party for him.

It wasn't just our usual group of friends that attended, though.  This time, all his friends from growing up were there, and that included D.  We were at another girl's house and I remember thinking how cute he was.  It didn't take long before we were flirting with each other and eventually exchanged numbers at the end of the night.

He didn't wait long to call, which is always a plus.  We didn't really waste any time getting our relationship started.  Almost immediately we were jamming up the phone lines in our parent's houses, talking until all hours of the night.  We continued dating until around prom time senior year, when we mutually decided that it didn't make sense for either of us to be tied down going into the next stage of our lives.  D was enlisting in the Army and I was heading off to a Big Ten university.

2.   Tell us some of your favorite memories that you two had together.

There are so many memories from the last twelve years, that I don't even know where to begin.  I might have to say the random nights we spent parked at Dunkin' Donuts with our friends, or meeting his HUGE family and being completely overwhelmed at his grandfather's 80th birthday party.  It could be the family reunion on which he accompanied me where he was the only one with an actual plane ticket.  Or "sight-seeing" at the site of the Johnstown flood.  However, the day he graduated college, commissioned and proposed all within 2 hours ranks up there.  Or maybe its our wedding day.  It could be the night we reunited after 3 years, talking and drinking in his parent's basement.  Or maybe its the first kiss we shared after deciding that we were going to start dating again.  I also love all the memories of us from the adventures we had so far in our Army life.  Moving from GA to TX, to WA, to MO, to NC and exploring new terrain together.  Reuniting for R&R and after deployments are some of the happiest, while sending him back after R&R was one of the worst.  We've also found out we were expecting and going to have babies.  AJ's birthday was one of the most hazy, but wonderful days of my life.  Seeing him jump right into baby duty after my C-Section and knowing then and there that I chose the right person.  Watching the way he looks into our daughter's eyes.  Right after we got engaged we went on a cruise in the Carribbean, that was pretty awesome.  Holidays that we've spent at home with family, and those that we spent on the road, hotels or furniture-less in new homes.  We've been through a lot in the past twelve years and I'm so happy that we've been able to share it all with each other.

3. Tell us your favorite qualities about this man, what makes him "the one."

One of my favorite qualities of his is also one of the qualities that drives me the most insane at times.  I'm talking about his inability to ever give less than 150%.  This is a quality that is obviously very desirable for me, but when it means he's still at work at 8 pm on a Friday night, I can't lie and say that I haven't wished that he'd just leave the work for someone else to do.  Haha.  I do understand however, that almost everything in life is a double-edged sword, and I've come to take pride in his work-ethic.

4. Tell us what your "date nights" typically look like.

Hahahahahahahaha!  We so rarely have date nights that its funny to talk about what they "typically" look like.  But basically, they take one of two forms.  We either dress up and head out to an expensive restaurant where we order steak, seafood and alcohol to enjoy, or we go see a movie and get Jimmy John's on the way home.  I think both are important to a relationship.  We've never been the type of couple who needed to impress each other, so having those low-key dates are sometimes the most fun for us!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Verdict Is In!

So as I stated earlier this week, I had a follow-up ultrasound on Tuesday to get a few more pictures of this little one, and to see if we could get a look at the "goods."  They wanted me to come 2 weeks after the initial ultrasound so when I made a reservation for AJ to go to hourly care the only time slot they had available was from 8:30-10:30 and my appointment was scheduled at 9:30.

I'm usually out of there with plenty of time to get back and pick her up, but for some reason, they were really far behind on Tuesday.  I finally got called back at 9:55 and was in the ultrasound room by 10:00.  I was worried that the tech would have trouble seeing the gender again and it would take longer and make me late getting AJ (which I was anyway and they charge $1/minute you're late...highway robbery, I tell you!).

Anyway, I don't want to keep you all in suspense any longer than I already have by rambling on and on...

We found out that Baby #2 is a....


We're very excited to have a baby sister to add to the family and are furiously trying to decide on names that go well with AJ's name.  AJ, however is in a state of denial, I think, because when I told her that she is going to have a baby sister she told me that she is the big sister.  I agreed with her and said, yes, but the baby is a girl baby, to which she then replied that the baby is a boy baby.  Haha!

Oh well, she'll understand eventually, and someday they'll be arguing over clothes, make-up and who knows what else!

As far as how I'm feeling, I am very happy, but very, very surprised because I really thought that we were having a boy this time around.  I'm thrilled that we'll be able to reuse the clothing that we have saved from AJ, and also a little relieved because I know girls.  I know what to expect and how to handle things like diaper changes, etc.

After it was determined that this baby is a girl, the ultrasound tech was scanning and she casually asked me if we were going to try again after this one to get a boy.

My response?

Nope, two girls is enough for me!  ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pink or Blue: Part Duex

If you've been following along for the past month or so, you know that I had my anatomy scan a few weeks ago and all looked great!  We were able to get a good look at the little guy (or girl) and it was wonderful to finally be able to see the baby.

You may also remember that the ultrasound tech was not able to get a good look at the "goods" in order to make an educated guess on the gender of our baby.  Well, tomorrow we go back for another try.  I'm really nervous, but also not.

D won't be with me this time, as he is currently TDY, but I'm excited to hopefully find out the gender.  However, if for whatever reason this baby is uncooperative again I'm not going to be all bent out of shape about it.  I mean, I have tons of girl stuff.  I have lots of friends with baby boys.  I will dress baby in green and yellow for the first day of his or her life until we can figure out what color is more appropriate.  ;)  I do want to know the gender, but it will be kind of exciting to find out on his or her birthday!

I am nervous (in a very excited way) about seeing this little guy (or girl) again, though!  It was almost strange last time.  I may have mentioned that this pregnancy really doesn't feel real to me yet.  It still hasn't really sunk in, despite the baby swing, bouncy seat and breast pump sitting in the bedroom upstairs.  A good friend of mine brought over a car-load of stuff for me to use with this baby.  I am so grateful that she is willing to give me all her stuff.

I mean, that stuff is expensive and to be honest, we got rid of a lot of it.  We couldn't see moving 2 times with an entire room full of baby stuff that we didn't know when we'd use again.  Last year when we thought we were moving for a third time I loaded up some of the bigger items and sold them at Once Upon a Child.  I figured we'd either need it again soon, and in that case we'd buy it right back from them or we wouldn't and I wouldn't have to worry about schlepping it around the country again.

Anyway, mother's intuition is saying boy this time around.  I don't really know why.  I can't explain it, but I am feeling boy.  I refer to the baby as a "him" all the time.  My pregnancy has been much different than when I was pregnant with AJ, but I also vaguely felt like she was a boy (though not as strongly as I feel this time).

I'll be back tomorrow (or Wednesday) after I've informed hubby and my family to let you know the outcome of the ultrasound!

What is your vote?  Are we having a boy or a girl?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Recap

We had a fun and busy weekend with my family.  It was a good thing they came to visit because I think we would have been really bored here alone with D gone!

Everyone arrived late Thursday night (technically very early Friday morning) and went straight to bed.  Friday morning AJ was up bright and early and I tried to corral her into my room until a decent hour so as to let everyone recover from their late nights traveling.

Unfortunately the Marine Corps and their artillery had other ideas and the booms started around 6:45!  That woke everyone up pretty quickly so we decided that lots of coffee was necessary.  We mostly just hung around all morning and decided to head to a neighboring town for a yummy lunch.  After lunch AJ, my mom and I headed back to the house for AJ's (my) nap and the others followed about an hour later.

Friday night we just decided to stay home and cook dinner on the grill.  We got AJ to bed and made a bonfire and just hung around and talked for a while.

Saturday we were going to go to the State Fair and decided that we didn't want to rush to get up there and back, so we chose to stay here.  We had breakfast of pumpkin french toast bake (I pinned it a few days ago, link is in a post last week) and then played in the yard for a while.  We grilled for lunch again and put AJ down for a nap.  While she slept we all watched football (the Ohio State game was crazy) and after her nap we took her to the playground.

At some point this weekend AbbyDog knocked over my kitchen garbage can trying to scavenge for food and she broke it.  It no longer opens when you step on the foot step part.

We came back home and sent my dad up to town to pick up the dinner that we ordered.  After dinner everyone but AJ, my mom and me went to the corn maze at the pumpkin patch.  They got home late and were talking about how awesome it was.

This morning they all had to get up and leave early to make the drive/flight home.  AJ and I got dressed and headed to Target to look for a new garbage can and grabbed lunch on the way home.  I got a garbage can but its smaller than the one we have so I think I'm going to return it and keep looking.  The only issue I'm having is that I don't want to spend $100 on a garbage can.  The one I have now (the broken one) was about $80 and lasted about 2 years.  The new one I'm going to return is much smaller, but was only $50.  I think I'm going to try and get the same one I have at Walmart this week sometime.

I know y'all are super intrigued by my kitchen garbage can dilemma, so I'll leave it at that today!

Tomorrow AJ and I are driving an hour north for an opthamology appointment for her, so that means another day of fun lies ahead!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

If You Don't Hear From Me....

You can assume that I'm buried somewhere underneath the mounds of things that I have to do this next week!  I know I wrote a whole post about it just yesterday, but I've got guests coming to town this weekend.  Six of them, to be exact.  And my husband is gone.  And my two year old is not handling change well these days.

As you can imagine, we're going to have quite the busy weekend around these parts!  Options include pumpkin carving, NC state fair, movie night in the park, another trip to the pumpkin patch, the Volksmarch Festival, and lots of playing at the house.  Oh, and I've got FRG responsibilities, and doctor's appointments for AJ, and an ultrasound for me, and a battalion Halloween party to get through in the next week!

Seriously.  I feel like its going to be Christmas before I can even take a breath, and at that point it might just be too late to stop and breathe, as we'll need to start gearing up to welcome this new little one to our lives a mere three months after that!  Ack!

Next year also brings with it lots of training and a deployment, so I'm definitely looking forward to certain parts (the baby) more than others (the deployment).  Make it slow down!  Life is moving too fast!

I think this is the time of year that I start to figuratively try and slam on the brakes.  I start to realize that another year has all but passed me by and I'm just not ready for it to be 2013 yet.

Is anyone else beginning to have little mini-panic attacks about the amount of "stuff" you still have to cram into the last 2 months of 2012?  I have plans, people, and they include listening to obscene amounts of Christmas music, drinking peppermint in my half-caf coffee every morning, and enjoying the twinkle of those little lights reflecting in my daughter's eyes.  I need to slow down to a reasonable speed these next few months, or I might just miss it this year!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Figures....

In true Army fashion, our plans for the month of October have changed no less than 27 times.  Okay, just a few times, but they were big changes!  My family hasn't been here to visit in a while, so they're all making the trip out this weekend to see us.  We're talking, my parents, my siblings and their fianc├ęs, everyone!

Originally D was supposed to be here and it wasn't going to be an issue at all.  Then in late September he found out that he was chosen to go to TDY for the month of October to support another unit while they did some training.  I was bummed that he wouldn't be here when my family came to town, but at least I would have a little distraction from the month alone with a 2 year old with their visit.

Without divulging too many details, the TDY for the month was scratched last minute.  Things were looking up!

A week ago D came home and told me that he in fact does have to go TDY this month, to do something else, and that the only, and I repeat, ONLY time he can go begins this weekend.  While my entire family is here.  So, D is heading out tomorrow morning, I am holding his company's first FRG meeting tomorrow evening and then late tomorrow night my family arrives.  Should make for a long, yet interesting day.

We've got some tentative plans for this weekend, but I think most of them are going to depend on how motivated we're all feeling to get out and do stuff!  I have a feeling that everyone will be more than happy to hang around and chat as well, so we're likely to do a lot of that as well.  I'm very excited to see my family, but I am sad that hubby won't be here, too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recent Pins: Baking Edition

I have a lot of events coming up in the next few weeks and I've volunteered to bake treats for several of these events, which has led me straight to Pinterest to find some new recipes to try out!  I have a few tried and true recipes that I know I can always fall back on, like PW's Monster Cookies, but I am kind of in the mood to try something different!

Here are a few of the recipes I've pinned for the next few weeks.  I haven't decided which of the cookies I'm going to make, so if you have votes, let me know!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cookies

Snickerdoodles
 My family is coming into town to visit this weekend and I'm thinking about whipping up this French Toast bake for breakfast one morning while they are in town.  I think it sounds heavenly, what do you think?

Pumpkin French Toast Bake
And D is a big eggplant fan, so when I turned on the Food Network today during nap time and Giada was making this recipe, I knew it had to go on my list of things to make sometime soon!

Eggplant and Pesto Pasta
 And finally, D's battalion is having a Halloween Trunk or Treat event next week and we're planning to have a "Cake Walk" at the event.  I volunteered to bake a cake, and this is the recipe I found.  I think it looks super cool, and it is basically a red velvet cake, but using black food coloring instead of red, so its super spooky!

Black Velvet Halloween Cake
So there you have it, folks!  I've obviously been drooling over sweets lately, which could be disastrous to my already ever expanding waistline!  Hopefully I can concentrate my efforts on baking and not eating all these goodies!  What have you been pinning lately?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dentist Appointment

AJ had a dentist appointment this morning so yesterday I started preparing her for it.  I find that if I talk about how things will go and prepare her for what to expect, everything goes more smoothly.  I warned her that the nice lady was going to brush her teeth and then the dentist would come in and look at her teeth and count them all.

I also told her that if she was well-behaved she would get a goodie bag at the end of the appointment.  Our dentist office gives the kids a little baggie with a new toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, stickers, etc. to take home.  This was the goodie bag to which I was referring.  After I told her this, she asked me if there would be candy in the goodie bag.  Now, I'm not sure what kind of dentist AJ thought we were going to, but I'm almost positive that most dentists don't give out candy.

So this morning we got up and I was tired (someone decided to wake up at 12:23 am and apparently I was sleep-conversing with D only 20 minutes before this), so we were rushed to get dressed, fed, teeth brushed, etc. before leaving the house.  We made it to the dentist with time to spare (thank goodness its right outside our neighborhood) and the whole way there I was talking to AJ about how she could sit in my lap if she wanted to, if she got scared, etc.

She insisted that she is a big girl and could do it herself.

If you don't know AJ personally, let me tell you that this girl can talk a mean game.  I mean, she will tell me exactly what I want to hear, when I want to hear it, but oftentimes it doesn't exactly work out that way.  So when she was insisting that she'd sit alone in the chair I figured I'd go along with it until the time came to hoist her up on my lap for the cleaning.

Imagine my surprise when we went into the exam room and she climbed right up on the chair and told me she was fine without me.  She proceeded to got through the entire cleaning bossing people around and acting like a big girl!  The dentist even commented that two-year-olds never sit in the chair alone and he was VERY impressed.

She was so well-behaved and looked so tiny in the chair by herself that I had tears in my eyes (darn horomones).  When the hygienist asked her if she wanted an orange flower balloon and she replied with "yes, ma'am," I about lost it.  I mean, she is (usually) well-behaved at home, but when we go to unfamiliar places she tends to be shy and reserved, so to see and hear her little well-manned voice made me so proud!

Pink or Blue?

I had every intention for today's post to be a gender announcement post, as we had our anatomy scan yesterday.  Baby #2, however had other plans.

We were able to see a perfect, wiggling baby on the screen, but no matter how hard the ultrasound tech tried, pushed, prodded, turned me from side to side, our sweet baby would not uncross his or her legs to show us the "goods"!

Luckily, I am being seen at a wonderful civilian OB's office and we're going to go back in a few more weeks to try again to get a shot to confirm the gender, but a part of me is a little relieved that we couldn't tell today.  I mean, I really want to know.  Like really, really want to know.  But the moment I know I think its going to seem so much more real than it does right now.  If that makes sense?

I'm kind of happy just cooking this baby, knowing that in 5 short months we will have another little one in our house, but not knowing the gender makes it seem like we have more time than we really do.  I'm still just pregnant.  Once we know the gender I'll be stressed about which pink clothes to keep or what we need to buy in blue.  I'll start to wonder when we should set up the nursery.  D and I will argue over potential baby names.  Pregnancy seems much more complicated once you know.

I will also be honest here.  I kind of wanted to wait and find out at the birth.  I mean, talk about a surprise!  I knew that D would NEVER (and I repeat NEVER) be able to not find out if the tech was able to tell the gender.  He just isn't that kind of person.  He can't even keep Christmas gifts a secret.  So honestly, I'm kind of glad we weren't able to find out.  I do want to know, and the tech not being able to tell is really the only way I'd be able to go "Team Green" until my due date.

Hopefully we won't have to wait that long though.  We go back for another try in a two weeks and I'm crossing my fingers that this baby uncrosses his or her legs long enough to get a glimpse at what lies in between!

So, no news for you all today, other than to say that we are happy to finally be able to see a wiggly baby on the screen.  S/he is measuring exactly perfect.  After taking all the measurements, the tech asked me my due date.  When I told her she pointed to the screen where the computer had calculated my due date based on her measurements and there it was; 3/17/2013.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wedding Frenzy!

Since I figure you are all probably sick of reading about my rambling thoughts on my pregnancy, I thought I'd share the other big topic that is on my mind lately!

Both of my siblings are currently engaged and planning weddings in 2013.

My brother and his fiance are getting married first, and have decided to get married in Colorado, while my sister and her fiancee are planning their wedding in Chicago.  The weddings will take place about 2 months apart, so it looks like we'll be having an interesting and travel-filled summer!

I am a bridesmaid in both weddings, and D will be a groomsman in my brother's wedding.  AJ will also be a flower girl for both weddings, so we have a lot of fancy clothes to look forward to next year!  D tried to teach her how to do the "wedding walk" the other day and it was an utter failure.  At least we've got some time to perfect it!  ;)

Even though both weddings are close together, they are bound to be the complete opposite as far as style, location, just about everything!   My brother is getting married at the Garden of the Gods and my sister is getting married in downtown Chicago at a swanky location.  Can you imagine two more different venues?

Now that my siblings are planning weddings I'm busy looking at stuff online and pinning all the things!  I am constantly reminded at how wonderful it would have been to have Pinterest at my disposal when I was planning my wedding.

Also, this is my first (and second) time as a bridesmaid, so I'm not sure if there's anything specific I should be doing this early on in the process.  I'm out of town, so its not like I can just go dress shopping or other things like that.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Long Weekend

At the beginning of long weekends I always have lots of plans for all the fun we can have and chores we will get done around the house.  A few days later I find myself still wearing yoga pants and making excuses to not leave the house unless its for Dairy Queen or something equally important.

Since D had a 4 day weekend this weekend we got to spend lots of time hanging around and doing nothing.  Friday night we headed out to the sandwich shop and then up to the Halloween movie in the park that our town puts on.  AJ had the best time.  She was running around like a crazy woman and got to star gaze with D, in addition to her nutritious dinner of lemonade and french fries.

On Saturday I did manage to make it out with AJ in tow for some shopping.  We hit up Michael's, Old Navy, the commissary and the Halloween store.  I can't stand those Halloween stores that pop up around this time each year, but we needed a piece of AJ's costume and they were out at Target and Michael's didn't have them, so yeah.  It was basically my last option.

I do think I am officially the crazy lady though because when we were at Michael's we bought a bunch of wooden Christmas ornaments for AJ to paint as a little craft project.  They were only $1.50 each and we had the paint left over from last year's Christmas craft.  On that note, Michael's looked like the holidays threw up on half the store.  Its so weird to see all the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas stuff all jammed together.   Can't we just wait until November 1 to bring out the tinsel and trees?  And I mean, I love Christmas more than most people.

I also bought AJ a winter coat at Old Navy, which seemed silly because it was approximately 87 degrees outside when I purchased it.  What can I say, it was $15 and I know she'll need it eventually.  Apparently though, everyone in town got the same email as me about the $15 coats, because the line to check out was literally from the registers all the way back to the boy's section.  I had been entertaining AJ for 15 minutes by the time we got to what is known as every mom's personal hell.  You know, the toys and candy they put right along the waiting area?  Ugh.

We had a rather uneventful trip to the commissary after that and headed home for lunch and nap.  AJ refused to eat any food, so she went straight to bed and was so tired (probably from being up late the night before and all the shopping)!

After the fun and exciting start to our weekend we kind of fizzled out.  We went to a bonfire at our neighbor's house on Saturday night and just stayed home and watched football all day on Sunday.  The temperature dropped by 25 degrees from Saturday to Sunday, so we wore shorts and t-shirts on Saturday and jeans and long-sleeves on Sunday... Maybe fall is officially here?

Today was another low-key day, D and AJ went out for a run and then he mowed the lawn.  It was chilly again, so I'm hoping that we can at least keep the temps below 80 over the next few weeks.  It really bums me out when the weather doesn't match the season.  I guess its the Midwestern girl in me--I want chilly weather and the opportunity to wear hoodies and boots.  Granted, come February, I'll be done with it, but who cares?!  I want it now!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

17 Weeks: What's On My Mind

One of the biggest differences that I've noticed from my first pregnancy to this one is the issue of weight gain and food cravings.

To start off, I had way more morning sickness this time around, which is to say, I had quite a bit, since I had almost none with AJ.  I think its like a cruel cosmic joke to be nausea free during your first pregnancy and then have it bad the second time around when you have a child to care for.  Whether the universe is conspiring against me or not, I had trouble finding foods that sounded good to me for the first 15-ish weeks of this pregnancy.

I didn't really keep track of my weight gain when I was pregnant with AJ, but I know that at this point with her I had gained way more than I have at this point the second time around.  I think I've gained about 1 pound at this point.  Part of the reason for my weight gain with AJ was because if I felt dizzy or nauseas I'd eat a snack and that took care of it for me.  This time, it really didn't make a difference, so I really only have been eating when I'm hungry.

I am not too worried about my lack of enormous weight gain so far, but I think I'm so used to watching what I eat to maintain my weight before I got pregnant that I do find myself thinking about whether or not I should eat a certain thing, or whatever.  With AJ I didn't think twice about pretty much anything I ate the entire time I was pregnant with her.  Like, if I craved 7 Layer Bars, I'd just make them and eat half the pan in one sitting.

Last time I kind of had the attitude that "I'm pregnant, I can eat whatever I want!"  This time around I'm looking at it more like this pregnancy is a temporary situation and then I'll go back to my normal life/self after its over.  I think its partially because we don't plan on having any more kids after this one, so when this pregnancy is over, my childbearing phase will also come to an end.

I guess it means I'm being healthier this time around?  I've also found that so far, I haven't been eating the large portion sizes like I did with AJ.  I didn't gain like 75 pounds with AJ or anything, but I definitely gained more than I wanted to (if I had to guess, I'd say about 50 pounds), and didn't manage to lose it all after she arrived.  I was pretty unhappy with the way I looked due to the extra weight on my midsection.  This time I'd like to keep the weight gain under control a bit more and hopefully manage to get rid of it all after the baby arrives.  I'm under no delusions that I'll have time to work out with a 3 year old and a newborn, so I'm hoping that whatever I gain I'll be able to lose mostly by controlling my diet postpartum.

So that is what has been on my mind so far this pregnancy.  Can you relate with this thinking?  How was your second (or third, or fourth) pregnancy different from your first?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Traditions

As time continues to move forward, I'm determined to check items off my imaginary Fall bucket list before Thanksgiving rolls around and I got to thinking.  What are some of your favorite activities to do in the Fall?

As AJ is getting older, I've been trying to plan more fun activities that get us out of the house so she doesn't get bored and because I also want to create traditions as well as fun memories for our little family.  Not that she will remember them yet anyway.

Some of the things we're planning to do in October are:
  • Halloween movie night in the park (hopefully multiple times).
  • Visiting the NC State Fair in Raleigh when my family is in town.
  • Picking out pumpkins for our front porch Jack O Lanterns.
  • Making applesauce in the crockpot with AJ,
  • Halloween arts and crafts to pull out of the attic each year.
  • No Scare Fair for the little kids with our MOPs group.
  • Trunk or Treat with D's battalion.
  • Trick or Treating on Halloween in our neighborhood.
These activities are among our normal weekly activities that seem to be quickly filling our calendar for the month.  How is it that October is always the busiest month of the year?

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I'm interested in the types of fall activities you and your kids and families like to do.  Is there anything that screams fall that I seem to be missing?  I know we're not planning to go apple picking, which is a big one.  We also already went to the pumpkin patch, so we're probably just going to get our pumpkins at the Farmer's Market or the grocery store.  Lame, I know.  ;)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Big News...

If you know me in real life or follow me on Instagram, then you already know that we are adding another little one to our family.  If not, then consider this my big announcement!

We have been trying for a while and are thrilled to be welcoming our second child in March, which makes me about 16 weeks pregnant.  I am due almost exactly 3 years from when I was due with AJ.

It is hard to explain the differences between my pregnancy with AJ and this time around.  Not only do I feel much more relaxed about this pregnancy, but I'm oddly not even worried about the transition from one to two kids.  Maybe that comes later on in the pregnancy?

Its strange, with AJ I feel like all I did for 9 straight months was think about my pregnancy, and my baby, and etc.  This time I feel like I'm lucky if I remember that I'm pregnant on a daily basis.  Of course, that's if its possible to forget something when its the reason you feel like you're going to lose your breakfast at any given moment!  Its not that we're not excited, obviously we are!  Its just, different.  Its hard to explain.

On top of all the changes that come with adding another child to our family, we also have no idea what we are going to name this baby.  Like, no idea.  At all.

We have our anatomy scan next week, so I think we're both hoping that finding out the gender will inspire us into choosing a name for our next little one.  Here's to hoping, because otherwise?  I fear we will be those people who are held at the hospital, unable to leave, until we choose a name for our child.

How did you deal with adding second (or third) child to your family?  How did you choose a name?  Did you have trouble coming up with name ideas?

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rainy Saturday

Yesterday after we dropped D off at the airport we made a trip to Trader Joe's to cheer us up.  AJ snagged a mini shopping cart that she drove like Nascar through the store.  When it was time to leave she threw a massive fit and now won't stop talking about the little cart.  Its too bad the nearest Trader Joe's is like an hour away.  While we were there we picked up some mini pumpkins and some heirloom tomatoes (amongst other things) to snack on.
 
My college football team is playing today and the game is on tv here where we live, on the other side of the country.  Its not often that I get to watch my boys play anymore, so I'm doing what any sane football-loving person would do, I'm DVRing the game so I can watch it and get other stuff done, like a trip to Tarjay with my little lady.  I love watching home games on tv because I get little glimpses of the beautiful campus and Midwestern foliage that I miss so much now that I live in the South.

Anyway, its rainy and cool(er) here today and D is gone, so I packed AJ up and headed down to Tarjay for a little retail therapy/grocery shopping.  What a great idea, huh?  Payday + Rain + Saturday = Worst Idea Ever.  it was seriously so ridiculously crowded there were no shopping carts left.  How does that even happen?  I decided that since it was insanely crowded, and I was already in what I can only describe as Purgatory, that I'd open the Target red card that is linked to your debit card and get the 5% off every time  you use it.  If that wasn't bad enough, it didn't go through so the cashier lady was trying to figure out what we wrong with their computer and ended up just giving me $3 off my bill, which was nice.  I almost never go to Target, unless I'm already running other errands in town, mostly because we live like 45 minutes away so I figured that getting 5% off would be a nice reward for the few times I actually need something there.  No dice.  Oh well.

On the upside, I bought AJ's Halloween costume while we were there and I told D that it was like divine intervention!  They only had one left and it was her size, plus it was only $20!  I even bought a 5 pack of fake mustaches for her to wear.  She is going as a pirate this year because I figure next year (and every year after) she will insist on dressing as a princess and this might be the last year before she has an opinion.


Also, on a super random note, I recently discovered that you can order Peppermint drinks at Starbucks all year long.  Who knew?!  While we were at Target today I ordered myself a half-caf Peppermint Mocha, which was heavenly.  Speaking of Starbucks, I think this is the first time ever that I've actually completed the Millenium Cohort Study that the military conducts every year.  My reason?  They are sending me a $10 Starbucks gift card.  I'd say 45 minutes of my time is worth 2 cups of over-priced coffee.  ;)

So, obviously my life is just about the most boring thing ever right now since I managed to write an entire post about shopping.  My apologies to you all.  I'll try to be more entertaining in the near future.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Boring Life and Toddler Meltdowns

Tuesday morning AJ was not wanting to wear underwear, so I let her wear a diaper for the morning and in the afternoon I bribed her to wear underwear.  Our day basically went downhill from there.  She was not happy about the whole sitting on the potty thing and she made that known (as if I needed reminding).  She sat 3 or 4 times for me (didn't go) and then decided she wanted to go outside.  After a brief lapse in judgment, I decided that it would be fine to go out for a few minutes.

Oh boy.  When the time to go back inside to sit on the potty came, a meltdown of epic proportions ensued.  She was not happy at all and the rest of the evening.  It was about this time (5:30) that I realized that I needed a few things from the grocery store for dinner, like fudge.  We headed out and of course she was a complete angel while we were out.  Figures.

I gave her a Reece's cup after she ate her dinner and she looked at it and said, "Oh my word!"  I started cracking up and so of course after that she was just trying to make me laugh and be silly.

This morning we went to playgroup in the neighborhood and AJ had so much fun just playing with all the other little kiddos that were there.  We came home and she told me that she wanted chicken nuggets, ketchup, broccoli and ranch for lunch.  She was happy because I let her get the chicken nuggets out of the bag and push the buttons on the microwave.  The best part of it all (according to her) was that I let her squeeze the ketchup on her plate (with some help).

D is supposed to be home early-ish today, which will be nice since we had a little miscommunication yesterday and I thought he was coming home at 3:30 and that definitely did not happen.  Haha!

Tomorrow my Father-In-Law comes to visit for the weekend so AJ and I are going to head up to "town" early and do some fall clothes shopping before we get him at the airport.  It finally got chilly here and I was scrounging through AJ's winter clothes from last year trying to find something that fits to wear today.  I've known for a while that I need to buy her fall wardrobe, but I just keep putting it off because its been so nice here still.  The real challenge is going to be getting all the things she needs without spending hundreds of dollars.

We don't really have anything planned for the weekend, but I'm sure we'll find lots of fun stuff to do with Grampa here!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Our Weekend

AJ wasn't feeling all that great this week and by the time Friday rolled around, we all were ready for a nice, relaxing weekend at home.  I'm glad we didn't make any real plans because she ended up coming down with some sniffles yesterday and was pretty sad.

Saturday we just stayed home, D mowed the lawn in the morning and then during nap time I ventured out to the grocery store for our week's worth of food.  D recently told me that he wants to eat healthier, so naturally I made some super unhealthy snacks for game day!  In my defense, we were planning on watching some football, and I had planned on making the stuff before he told me that, honest!

I was really considering going to the Commissary for my groceries because its much, much cheaper than our local grocery store, but luckily decided to just stick close to home.  I'm glad I did, because I totally forgot that the Commissary was having a case lot sale this weekend and I heard it was a total madhouse!

After I got home I made the snacks real fast and we got to watch the second half of the Army v. Northern Illinois game while munching on Buffalo Chicken Dip and Lil Smokies in BBQ sauce.  It was super yummy!

Today has been the official starting day of potty training, take 50.  AJ has just been having so much trouble with it, mostly because of the power struggle.  Every time we start to try it I decide she isn't ready and we go back to diapers.  Well, this time is starting out a lot like all the other times, but D and I are ready for her to be done with diapers, so we're going to really stick with it.  She has the ability to do it, but she doesn't care, so that has been our struggle so far.  Not to mention that she wants to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it.  Have I mentioned she's 2?

Cross your fingers for us and if you have any helpful tips or words of advice for us on the whole potty training a strong-willed child, please, pass them along!

This afternoon we're heading across the street for a birthday party.  AJ's BFF turned 2 last weekend and today is her party.  With potty training and the sniffles, I'm not sure how long we'll last over there, hopefully long enough for some cake!

Friday, September 14, 2012

So, I Think I'm Back....

I left this little blog pretty abruptly more than 6 months ago and want to apologize to those of you who missed my random postings (hi, Mom!).  In all honesty though, I did have several people, both family members and other bloggers ask me if I was ever going to start blogging again.  My answer, even until a few days ago was always, no, and I couldn't really explain why.

I just think I wasn't ready to get back into the heavy-duty commitment that I felt blogging had become to me.  Yes, I felt like it was something additional amongst my list of 9,000,000 things I had to do everyday.  That isn't how it started for me, and I knew that until I didn't feel that way anymore I couldn't come back here and start blogging again.

Part of my absence is due to the fact that, for me, blogging was mostly about the community, as opposed to the actual writing.  A few months before I stopped writing I got to a point that I felt like I couldn't spend as much time in real life actually doing things as I wanted to because I needed to blog about everything.  Funny how that works, isn't it?

Anyway, I'm sure you can guess that lots of things have happened since I left you all 7 months ago.  Lots of things are the same as well.  We still live here.  Hubby started a new job which I will never, ever talk about on here.  Many of my friends have moved away, but many new friends have moved here as well.  We're still cloth diapering AJ, with every intention of potty training, like, yesterday.

And AJ, oh, AJ.  If I could even describe to you all the pain, joy, sadness, euphoria, frustration, love, anger and every other mix of emotions that she goes through every single day.  Oh, to be 2.5 again.

She is talking, and knows what she wants.  She has started recently picking up on phrases that we use, like "Mom, I'm having trouble with this," or "yuck, that's disgusting!"  Haha.

AbbyDog is still hanging out.  I think she really likes it when we leave her and go away for the weekend, though.  We have our neighbors come by and let her out and feed her and stuff, but for the most part she just gets to sleep, uninterrupted, for the entire weekend.  Come to think of it, that sounds fantastic, where do I sign up?  She always seems much happier to see us on Sunday after we take the little terrorist out of the house for a while.  ;)

We've gone on a few quick trips, one up to Baltimore, MD to see some of my family and another down to Myrtle Beach, SC for an Army-sponsored marriage retreat on the beach.  Um, more beach, less marriage retreat, please.  But hey, the hotel was beautiful, the food was free (and yummy), and the whole thing was free, and that is all that counts, right?

So there you have it folks.  I glossed over a bunch of stuff I'm not really ready to share on here yet, but I wanted to update you on where we stand.

As far as blogging daily again, well, I can't necessarily promise that, but I am going to try and get on here with some regularity and keep you all up to date on my life.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Haircut and Other Things

We haven't been all that busy since coming back to Hometown, USA. Yesterday AJ and I went on a little Mama-Daughter lunch date and got some real, honest-to-goodness, hometown food. It was wonderful.

AJ has been waking up super early for whatever reason, so we're all a little tired. She was so tired yesterday that she almost fell asleep in the car on the way to lunch. I'll tell you, I did not have high hopes for how lunch was going to go with a sleepy toddler, but it was great. We were there early enough that it wasn't very crowded, plus its not a sit-down restaurant, so we didn't have to wait around forever for a waiter to come and take our order, bring us our food, etc.

We had another early wake-up again this morning, so when I noticed AJ was laying down on the floor with her blankie watching TV, I knew it was about time for nap. I'm actually pleasantly surprised with how well she's been doing since she is so tired. I guess I'm kind of hoping that this will continue through until next week when we make the drive home. Maybe she'll be so tired by that point that she'll nap the whole way home. Wishful thinking.

As for me, I'm excited. We have a big, fun, busy weekend planned! I'm starting things off right by getting my first haircut in a long time(since AJ was a newborn?). I think I'm going to do something drastic. I'm ready for a change. Plus, anything other than a trim would be drastic based on how long my hair is now. After my hair cut, we're heading to the in-laws for dinner. Tomorrow morning AJ and I have a breakfast date with one of my roommates from college who lives in the area. We're going to the best breakfast place around, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

I'm planning on getting my hair cut like one of these ladies below. What do you think?

I like the length of LC's cut without the bangs, though.

Heidi's hair looks great, but mine will never stay styled like this.

I like the way Jenn has her's styled in this picture.

Gwyneth's hair is most likely what mine would end up looking like. We have the same hair "type."

My sister is also making the trek home for the weekend so she can spend some time with us while we're here, even though we'll see her next month in sunny FL. The plan for Saturday afternoon is to take AJ to the Children's Museum now that she is actually old enough to enjoy everything. Following that, we're going to order pizza from the neighborhood joint infamously known as "Little I." (Short for "Little Italian.")

Sunday we have another busy day planned, we're going to hang around in the morning, but then after nap we're going to head into the city to go to the Auto Show and then have dinner at my cousin's house. He and his wife have a baby who is about 8 months old now and the last time I saw her, she was a newborn! Crazy how time flies, especially with little ones!

That's the big excitement around these parts! I'll be back Monday to update on the weekend, hopefully with lots of pictures (if I remember to charge my camera tonight) of everything, including the new hair cut!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Settling In...

Well, we made it to Hometown, USA yesterday afternoon. AJ was, once again, a delight in the car (seriously, she's pretty good on long trips for a 23 month old). We didn't have to get up super early to leave, so we got a chance to spend the morning with my Aunt before we left. We hit some snow and sleet for about the first hour, but after that, it was all smooth sailing.

We stopped for lunch at our normal lunch time and I decided to treat AJ to one of the restaurants I grew up with, Steak 'n Shake. We don't have any around where we live right now (or really any of the duty stations we've been at) so it was the first time she has been. She thought it was great! I mean, you get an awesome hat, AND a milkshake? Win-win!


She clearly was loving the hat.

Speaking of milkshakes, after we finished eating, I was trying to get AJ loaded back into her car seat and I set the almost full milkshake on the center console while I wrangled her. It was that moment that my devil-child, AbbyDog decided to jump from the backseat to the front and knocked it over, spilling the ENTIRE milkshake on my leather seats. Awesome. I tried to get her to lick it up and she looked at me like I had three heads, undoubtedly thinking to herself, "I would NEVER eat something that isn't mine." Thanks, dog.

After managing to clean that up with the 4 napkins the Steak 'n Shake waitress so kindly gave me we got back on the road again. (FYI Steak 'n Shake waitress, 4 napkins is NOT a "bunch.") AJ fell asleep almost instantly and took what is, to date, the longest car nap on record for her, 55 minutes.

We didn't encounter any other real problems the rest of the trip unless you count the numerous $3.80 tolls coming into town. $3.80? Seriously? That is crazy! I can get a drink at $tarbucks for that amount, but no, you're charging me the same amount to drive on a highway. Brings new meaning to the term, "highway robbery."

We beat my parents to their house, which I knew we would, because they were flying home from CO yesterday, so we let ourselves in, got unpacked and ran to Trader Joe's to get some stuff to make dinner.

AJ decided to get in this basket and it tipped over, so naturally, I took a picture before helping her up.

She was "cooking" in her kitchen before I could get her jacket off her.

Can I just say how wonderful it is to live in an area that has so many options for grocery shopping? When we were stationed at Ft. Lewis, we were really spoiled. We had everything (except Whole Foods) and the stores had great products. I honestly loved grocery shopping when we were there. I also love grocery shopping here. There's WF, TJ's, and more, all right around the corner. Its fantastic! In fact, this morning we went to WF and stocked up on some of the things AJ likes to eat and I got my lunch from their deli bar (which is to die for, BTW).

Speaking of being spoiled, this afternoon I'm heading out, sans bebe, to get a 90 minute massage. I'm anticipating it to be heavenly. My mom gave me a gift certificate she has, so its going to basically be half price. I can't wait.

Ah, this is why I can't come home all that often, my wallet can't afford it! ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bloggy BFF Meet-Up!

I didn't really mention it before, but AJ and I are on a little road-trip of sorts. Its the same one we make about every six months or so, we drive from our house to my Aunt and Uncle's house, stay a few days, see all my grandparents and relatives and then drive the rest of the way on to my parent's house. We're going to be in Hometown, USA for about a week before we head back to our house to welcome the man home from the field.

Well, last time I was here I took AJ out for Skyline Chili and ice cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams as a Mama-baby date. This time we had an extra person on our date with us. My bloggy BFF, Moe, is back in town and she met up with us for a late lunch and ice cream yesterday! We had tons of fun, we chatted, we laughed, we wrangled AJ, we shared food!

We were both laughing because we told our significant others that we were going to meet a relative stranger and neither of them really seemed all that concerned for our safety. ;) We both said we were glad that we aren't axe murderers or something!

The three of us at Jeni's.

It was so much fun to finally meet Moe in real life, and I hope that I get another chance to come through town again so we can expand past Skyline Chili!

After eating ice cream (in the dead of winter, mind you) I realized that we were close to the neighborhood and house I lived in as a little girl (from ages 3-5) so I drove past it and took a picture of it for my parents to see. I was lucky that there was a For Sale sign in the front yard, otherwise I would have felt like a huge creep!

My old house. I promise there is a "For Sale" sign just to the left of the picture. ;)

I also have AbbyDog with me on this trip, and she has been making herself feel right at home at my Aunt and Uncle's house. So much so, that my Uncle had her doing tricks last night for a little snack before dinner.

AbbyDog doing tricks.

Abby, right at home. Jumped up and sat at the kitchen table before dinner.

We have another day here before we hit the road again. Tomorrow we are going to see my mom's parents and a cousin of mine who still lives in this area. It should be interesting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Money Game

I'm not going to get into the specifics of our financial situation (obviously) but since one of my 2012 goals is to save more and pay down debt, I thought I'd share what our financial plan is for this year.

We haven't exactly been the most responsible financially and we are definitely paying for it. Its obviously not that dire of a situation, because people gave us money to buy a house a year ago and who would have done that if we were downing in debt? But overall, we have more petty debt than we are comfortable with. Its also coming to a point where we want to pay off the debt before we die of old age, so we're paying more than our minimum payments, therefore leaving us less money to have fun with.

I'll be honest with you, I am not a budget-er. I'm the type of person that pays my bills at the beginning of the month and then does whatever I want with the rest of the money. I somehow manage to completely forget month to month the amount of incidentals that inevitably come up. This situation leaves me scrambling more often than not. Its not a good feeling to know that your car needs a tune-up and you spent the money that should have been budgeted for it at Target on things you don't need.

I know I'm not the only one like this, and I have little to no willpower or self-control, so if you're thinking that you would never be able to stick to a budget, you're wrong. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is not even mentioning the fact that I live with Mr. Spendy. ;)

Here's the secret. Create a budget that takes incidentals and "allowance" into account. If you have a set amount that you can afford to spend at Target each month and you know what it is in advance, you're less likely to go over, plus you're going to think twice before buying something on a whim. The awesome thing about budgeting for incidentals is that if you don't spend all the money you budgeted for that category one month, then that money can go into savings or the "fun" category next month.

Another secret that I learned from another blog is to create an estimated budget and an actual log. If you look at what you spend in each category every month you can add up all the totals and then divide the amount over the year. Basically, if you spend $1200 a year on your water bill, you put $100 as your budget for water each month, even though your bill in January is only $75, you know that you're probably going to have a $125 bill in July. If you put the "overage" into a savings account, you won't have to cut back on another category come July because you saved the money from your January budget to cover the extra cost.

Also, if we know we have a large bill that will come due at the end of the year, like our Property Owners Association bill, I divide the total amount by 12 and put that amount into a separate savings account each month. Then when the bill is due at the end of December, I just transfer it to my checking account and pay it without worrying about where the money will come from.

Here's what our budget categories look like:

Auto
Registration
Gas
Misc. Auto.
Loan
Credit Card
Christmas
Savings
POA
Dog
Entertainment
Clothing
Dining
Mortgage
Grocery
Household
Electric
Garbage
Cell Phone
Cable
Water
Insurance

You can see that I broke the categories down into sections that make sense to me. I basically grouped "like" things so I can keep track of everything a little easier.

In addition to the estimated and actual budget worksheets I keep a computerized account register for both of our checking accounts. I am not the type of person who is going to carry around an old school register and write everything down, so doing it on my computer works for me. As soon as I write a check or get home from the store, I type in the amount and calculate my account balance. This helps me more than checking my account balances online (though I do to update hubby's register because he always forgets to bring me receipts). I don't have to worry about remembering to take the checks into account that haven't cleared yet because on my register, the money is already taken out.

It sounds like a lot of work, but if you sit down every day for like 5 or 10 minutes, its done and it can really help you manage your family budget. So far, this is my preferred method, and I've tried basically everything!

What do you do to keep track of your finances? Do you use a program? Do you budget?