Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekend Roundup

The last of our nonbusy weekends is gone.

From here on out it's go go go until after New Years! I have to admit that as someone who has introverted tendencies that seems a bit daunting, but it's all things that I am looking forward to doing and people I am looking forward to seeing.

So how did we spend this weekend? In typical deMontaigne fashion we did nothing too exciting at all.

Friday night was exciting for me because I got to go see the movie Twilight. I went with my friend Rachael and two of her work friends that are equally addicted. We ordered the tickets online last week and were going to an early showing because Rachael had to leave that night to go out of town. The theater was five minutes from my house and the movie started at 4pm. I figured leaving at 4 gave me plenty of time to get there, park and meet up with them to get my ticket. At 3:45 Rachael called and said that the electricity was out at the theater but they were giving them passes to go to anothe theater nearby, but 10 minutes further than the one we planned on going to. I continued to get ready to go and five minutes later Rachael called back saying that it was for the 4:15 showing. Of course that meant I had to go flying out the door in a bit of a panic to get there on time. I was waiting for Rachael where you have to give your tickets and I must have looked pretty pathetic because the ticketer (?) guy told me to go ahead and just come back with the ticket.

That was my big night (although I don't think 4:00 counts as night time!) out. Saturday was a wonderfully lazy morning. When we were all finally out of bed we through on clothes and headed out for a breakfast at McDonalds. Ella's fear of the Chic Fil A cow has suddenly expanded to include all fast food restaurants. The whole way there she was afraid that Ronald McDonald would be inside. Can anyone tell me the last time you've actually seen Ronald McDonald? I mean, where did she even get the idea of Ronald McDonald? She told us it didn't matter if he was there or not there, she didn't want to go inside. So we parked nice and close the entrance where we could keep an eye on the car, locked the door and ate inside without her. We did check on her a few times and she was quietly reading a book and was happy where she was. At this rate Catherine is going to be ready for Disney World (no trip planned, just hopeful thinking that someday they'll conquer these fears so we can take them) before Ella.

The rest of the day was pretty uneventful. Matt did a lot of cleaning and work up in our attic. It's hands down the most overwhelming place in our house and it was great to start weeding through the bags and bags of stuff up there. While we worked the girls played really well together for the rest of the afternoon. I feel horrible saying it, but no one stopped for lunch, including the kids. It was one of those days where you weren't super busy but also got a lot accomplished.

Sunday was church, watching the Eagles lose and being thankful that I'm a Steelers fan. I mean, that game was so painful I was begging Matt to change the channel.

That was our slow, but relaxing, weekend.

This week we leave on Wednesday to head down to Baltimore to visit Matt's family for Thanksgiving. My parents are joining us as well which is always fun because both our parents enjoy getting to spend time together. Friday we'll be waking up early to do some shopping, it's crazy, but the prices really can't be beat. That night we'll hang out for a few hours with some friends who live in the area. Saturday we live the kids behind and drive up to Harrisburg for the wedding of a dear friend. We're staying the night and heading back down to Baltimore to pick up the kids and head home, and stopping to visit some friends along the way.

I'm tired just thinking about it! But as tiring as it is, I love the time with family and reconnecting with friends is always worth it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Good Night's Sleep

In the past two weeks I have become just a tiny bit obsessed with the Twilight series written by Stephenie Meyer. In case you don't watch TV and haven't seen the trailer for the soon to be released movie advertised over and over again, it's basically a love story....oh yeah, and there just might be vampires involved! (Edited to add that there may be some details/spoilers about the series in the comments so if you are reading or planning on reading them, you can still leave a comment, just don't read the others! I know, I know - overkill, but I'm one of those who wants to know nothing about endings or plot twists at all!)

It was similar to reading the Harry Potter books because once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. The big advantage with Harry Potter was that I read them as they were released so I had a few years to wait in between each book. A few days of obsessive reading = no big deal, right? But with this series, all four were already published by the time I got hooked. So that meant I had four 600 (approx, the last one was more like 750) paged books to read. Because there was just no way I could stop and take a break when I didn't have to!

So that has been what I've been doing in my free time for the last two weeks and I am happy to say that now I am done. Last night I powered through the last few hundred pages of Breaking Dawn because I really need to reclaim my life!

What does this have to do with sleep? Well for one thing, vampires don't that's not it! I've been staying up late reading and when I do finally tear myself away it's not because I'm that tired, it's because Matt is next to me mumbling "go to bed", and I finally do. Unfortunately that means that I am laying in bed wide awake, because it's not like I've been reading a book of bedtime stories. So then my wide awake brain starts thinking of all sorts of random things, mostly things I need to do or forgot to do during the day. Or I start thinking about Christmas shopping or planning Ella's birthday party. Just imagine trying to go to bed right after watching your favorite team win a big game or an intense action movie and that's how I am. Unless you are all blessed in the same way my husband is and you can fall right asleep no matter what.

So I've been feeling pretty tired but I can't blame my vampire books totally for my lack of sleep. Catherine and Ella both have had colds/coughs for the past week and just recently Ella started waking up at night coughing and coming in to our room so I was awake with her for a few nights. A side note...we took her and Catherine to the Dr's after their coughs wouldn't go away and found out Catherine has bronchitis and double ear infections and Ella is moving in the same direction! Anyway, a coughing child and intense books have kept me up late a few nights in a row. I woke up yesterday and I had a headache already. Add that to the fact that I was out of my favorite creamer and had add milk to my coffee. Ugh. The headache was a whopper and Motrin eventually did the trick, but I still felt kind of sluggish. I went to the grocery store and to get medicine for the girls and felt like I was in slow motion the whole time.

I knew that I really needed to get a good night of sleep and start feeling normal again. Around 10:45 pm (yup, still awake - I always have more energy at night, no matter how tired I felt during the day) I decided to take not one, but two Tylenol PM's. I rarely take them and when I have in the past I only take one at a time. The directed amount is two, but I have this fear of falling so dead asleep that I am not awoken by my kids crying in need (Matt is such a heavy sleeper that I don't have confidence that he, even in a drug free sleep, would wake up.) It was a big thing for me to actually take two, but I knew that I really needed some good sleep. I remember laying in bed around 11:15 feeling pretty sleepy. I also remember thinking that I better fall asleep soon and then I opened my eyes and saw that it was 6:45 AM! Do you know what a good feeling that was? I shut my eyes and opened them again at 8:00 AM because Ella snuggled in next me and exposed me to the frigid air of our unheated (oops, Matt forgot to turn the heat on after working on the plumbing yesterday) bedroom.

So now I know that two Tylenol PM's really will put me to sleep! I also feel so much better getting eight solid hours of shut eye. I also don't have anymore vampire books to read and Ella has antibiotics and cough medicine so I think my sleepless nights are over!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Christmas Reminder

You can blame my friend Julie whose latest post features a scene from Charlie Brown's Christmas. Now I've got Christmas on my mind!

I figure now is a good time to let you all know that this year I will be hosting Sharing Christmas again. It's an idea I got from the lovely Boomama, when you invite your blogging friends into your home via our blogs to share your Christmas decorations, baking, traditions and good old fashioned Christmas spirit! I had such a fun time seeing everyone's home's last year and I hope even more will participate this year.

It's a fun way to share your home, but also to document that year in your life. I know many of you are in new homes, new states, with new babies - all sorts of new things going on out there. What a great to show us how you will be celebrating Christmas in 2008. Even if it's not the same or even if it is exactly the same, each year is special and full of memories being made. I thought December 18th - exactly one week before Christmas, would be a good day to Share Christmas together!

For those who participated last year, please do so again and encourage your fellow blogging friends to do the same. The more the merrier!

If you plan on joining in the fun, leave me a comment and let me know. It won't commit you to anything, just give me an idea of whether or not I should spring for a Mr. Linky so people can easily add their post when they're ready. I'll have more details as it gets closer....but for now, save the date!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ribs, Trips, Skulls and Birthdays - all in one post!

I am sitting on the couch, laptop on my lap, watching Indiana Jones, recovering from a very large dinner of barbeque ribs, pulled pork, french fries, other types of barbequed meats, and many sides. Matt mom is in town for work and treated us to dinner. We may have over ordered and may have enough leftovers for the next few days. I also may not feel like eating again in that time period.

In other news we had a nice, but quick visit in Clearfield with my parents and my nephews Isaac and Theo, niece Nora and sister in law Chrissie. I'm hoping to retrieve the pictures we took over the weekend from my parents camera and when I do I'll give more details about the trip. We had a good time despite the kiddies all feeling a little under the weather with coughing and sniffling.

Today was spent recovering from making the lovely four hour drive to central PA with just myself and the girls. Ella and Catherine are not easy travelers. They always want something and rarely do they fall asleep. They were both awake the entire drive both ways.

While we were gone Matt got to work on our bathroom. He redid the plumbing so we can install a two sink vanity and ended up fixing some other plumbing issues while he was at it. The good news? We are moving in the right direction and some of the biggest jobs are done. The bad news? We didn't have a working toilet, sink or bathtub from Friday until around 8pm tonight. Thankfully I missed two of those days. Ella was not so happy about not having somewhere to pee in the middle of the night. She insisted that she wasn't a baby and she would not pee in the training potty. Matt had to take her down to the basement when woke up nice and early this morning.

I wish I could find my camera so I could post some pictures of our demolished bathroom. It's truly a sight to see.

In other news, tomorrow is Matt's birthday! I think he forgot until I reminded him so obviously he is not expecting a big celebration, but I'm looking forward to at least making a yummy meal and some cupcakes (his request - not a real exciting request, but hey, it's his birthday) and let the kids help put up some decorations and make a sign.

Indiana Jones is over now and I can't say that I really enjoyed it. Not sure what I was expecting, because I have always liked the Indy series, but this one just didn't do it for me. Sorry Harrison, not this time.

Now I'm off to find a new ringtone for my phone. I've got a busy and important life people, you're lucky I take time away from it to post such interesting updates! ;)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Toys Worth Buying

I had been hoping to get this post up earlier, but I was obsessed with finishing Twilight and couldn't be distracted (aside from feeding the kids and all that stuff!).

Anyway, Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer is doing a WFMW Best Toys Edition. I figured I would take a few minutes to share some of ours. My girls, Ella and Catherine, are 5 (almost) and just over 3. These are toys that both of them have loved and not gotten tired of playing with over time.

The first is the Play Wonder Kitchen found at Target. (click on the picture to link to the site)

The version we have is blue and red and a little different because it's a few years old. I think this one looks like it has a few adjustments that changed the price from $99 to $129. Still very reasonable for a wooden kitchen. Also, on Black Friday it was marked down at least $10. Every kid, boy or girl, that comes over loves playing with this kitchen. Also, it's not obnoxiously big like many of the play kitchens currently out there.

To go with the kitchen I love the various Play Wonder and Melissa and Doug wooden food sets. It does cost a bit more, but I think it's worth it. Many of them have velcro so the pieces can attach together - to make a pizza, a sandwich or a birthday cake.
There are many different options and Play Wonder sells much of their food in little carriers that are great for storing the food in the kitchen and transporting it around the house (which is what my girls love to do!).
Another favorite is the Fisher Price Loving Family Dollhouse. Again, my girls love it and it's one of the most played with toys they have, AND all their friends want to play with it too. The furniture that you can get to go with it is so sweet and adorable. I have to admit that a few times after the girls have gone to bed I have set all the furniture up the right way. I promise I haven't gone as far as actually playing with the family by myself...yet! They sell way more furniture sets than actually fit in the house, but I have a small tupperware bin that we put the furniture in and they set it up according to what they're feeling that day.

Obviously this dollhouse is filled to the max with accessories, but you really don't need that much to start with. Most stores sell them with a room of furniture included and you can gradually add to it. Plus, you can find older versions of the furniture at yard sales and consignment sales for pretty cheap. Also, on Black Friday Toys R Us had them on sale for buy one get one free - a great deal if you're craziness enough to go out shopping (obviously I am!).
This can be found at all the normal stores, Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, etc, so I didn't put a link to any specific place. I did find that it was sold out online as Christmas approached, but I did see them in stock in the stores.
Those are a few of our favorite toys. To get more ideas head over to Shannon's for this week's themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Only a few days late - a Halloween post

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. It was a double wammy for us, and I'm assuming you, with Halloween one night and Daylight Savings the next. I remember the days when the Fall Daylight Savings meant an extra hour of sleep. Now it just means the kids wake up an hour early for a few days.
If you're on the East coast I imagine you enjoyed a seasonably warm Halloween evening. This is the second year in a row with this weather so we're starting to get used to it. I remember clearly last year that Catherine refused to put a long sleeve shirt under her cheerleader costume and it was warm enough out that I didn't feel like too bad of a parent for letting her go out that way.

Anyway, back on track, our costumes this year were completely chosen by the girls. They each came up with what they wanted to be on their own and I have to admit I was a little surprised by their choices. Catherine wanted to a pumpkin, which is definitely an easy costume to find. Ella, on the other hand, wanted to be a Dalmatian dog and never swayed from that decision. I was secretly pleased that neither one of them picked princess, because it was nice to have a break from all things princess. That said, I saw so many beautiful princesses and I'm not down on that at all - it's more me being glad that the girls branched out a bit from their typical love of all things sparkly and pink!
I decided to make a big pot of vegetable soup so I wouldn't have to be messing around with dinner at the same time we were trying to get the kids into their costumes. Also, I figured all the vegetables would help to counterbalance the candy that would be consumed later in the night. Ella has become quite a help in the kitchen. Here she is peeling carrots...

And here is a big pot of soup simmering away all afternoon

On Thursday I cooked and pureed a pumpkin for the first time. On Friday I used the pumpkin puree to make Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies. I made some substitutions to make the cookies a lot less sinful and with the pumpkin and whole wheat flour I can honestly say they might have been a bit healthy. Just a bit, because I didn't skimp on the chocolate chips. The girls love to help with baking so I am going to be experimenting with healthier substitutions and alternatives so we can enjoy the results without packing on the pounds. Most of you know that I love baked goods and have no control when faced with fresh baked cookies!

Here is a batch of cookies cooling before they get gobbled up....

After dinner it was time to start painting Ella's face. Matt did a great job because Ella really doesn't know how to sit still. The concept just eludes her. At one point after Matt had asked her a million times to sit still, she finally did. And then she started singing.

I don't have the greatest picture of our cute little pumpkin. Catherine was very distracted by our neighbors' cat who was right outside our door. She kept telling him he couldn't come in and to go find his own Halloween. Not sure what this face is all about, but she's cute!

Here is Ella with her whole costume on and her Dalmatian pal Lucky.

We added Wyatt, AKA Captain Jack Sparrow, to the mix and the kids were ready to go.

We had a great night hitting the houses on our small street. I have a philosophy about Trick or Treating. If the lights are one, we go. I feel like when someone leaves their lights on they are essentially inviting you in and I don't like to refuse that invitation. Honestly, it's not at all about the candy because goodness knows we don't need it. Because we live on a small street and not a big neighborhood not many trick or treaters come through. But still a majority of the people stay home to pass out candy. I hate thinking about someone sitting there with a bowl of candy and not having anyone come to their house.
In fact, on our way back one of the side streets we made a small detour because I saw a light on at a little house on the street before ours that I drive by a few times a day to get out to the main road. I knew that the girl who lived there was in some sort of walker despite being young. Sometimes I would see her outside being picked up by a paratransit vehicle when I would pass by. We went up to the house, the only one with a light on on that street. The home owner was there and I assume that the two people with her were her parents. They all were dressed in festive attire and invited us to come in. As the kids picked out candy we chatted and I told them we live nearby on another street and I always drive by so when I saw their light on I wanted to stop by and say hello. They just seemed so happy that we stopped by, the mother said thank you at least three times. I left reminded of the reason that I like Halloween. Not the spookiness or creepiness of it, but the idea that you have opportunities to make connections, however small, with the people who live close to you. Whatever else comes of it, at least we made someone's night a little brighter.

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