Monday, December 31, 2012

January - To Do

Okay, so it is officially the last day of the month, which means it is time to look at what has to be done in January!

Key Dates
January 1st - give Banshee her meds
January 3rd - Father-in-law's birthday
January 5th - Little Christmas
January 6th - Brother-in-law's birthday
January 9th - Two more Brothers-in-law's birthdays
January 21st - Mother-in-law's birthday

Here's what has to be done...
- Give Banshee her meds!!  I always forget to do this.
- Put away all Christmas decorations.
- Send birthday cards to all Brothers-in-law.
- For the inlaws (who are divorced), figure out a small gift and/or schedule time for a visit and/or dinner for each of their birthdays.  Bill's dad lives in California and is leaving on the 5th, so this one has to be done basically this week.
- Buy gifts (if necessary) for Little Christmas.  We have this every year at my mom's house.  She has 5 brothers and 2 sisters we would see every Christmas (along with my 15 cousins).  It was always a mad house, so she started Little Christmas wehre she invites only her two sisters and their kids over the week after for a more intimate gathering. 
- House Fix-its.  We have a few small fix-its that need to be done around the house, and I'm sick of looking at them.  So, we're knocking all of them off our list this month.
- Start the Big Purge!! 

What is the big purge you ask?  Well, basically, I want to go through all the rooms in our house and get rid of as much stuff as possible.  I cannot believe the amount of stuff we have emassed since moving into our house in 2009.  I'm trying to simplify my life, and I want to be surrounded only by things I really love or that serve a purpose.  I'm going to use two boxes for each for items to donate, and one for items to sell.  Then, I'm actually going to donate and/or sell them!!   

Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I hope everybody enjoyed the Christmas holiday!

I officially completed everything on my Christmas to-do list:
- Bring Madeleine to see Santa
- Buy Christmas Tree

- Decorate for Christmas (tree, interior, exterior)
- Christmas Shopping (We have 20 people to buy for!)
- Christmas Eve Meal - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Christmas Cookies - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Wrap Christmas presents (make sure I have boxes, paper, and bows)
- Attend mass (last year we missed this due to an urgent care visit with Madeleine on Christmas Day)
- Christmas Cards - Create / Buy / Mail-out
- Mail Christmas gifts to out-of-town family
- Clean the house for Christmas Eve

I left work on Friday around 2:30pm.  Since I don't normally pick up Madeleine until 4:30pm, I stopped home first and wrapped all our Christmas presents.  When we were all home, we made a yummy bacon and goat cheese pizza for dinner.  Bill was still under the weather, so he rested while I made the dough for the sugar and gingerbread cookies.  I also made a final list of everything I needed from the store for my Christmas Eve dinner and cookies.

Saturday, I meant to set my alarm to get a bit of cleaning in before Madeleine woke up; but I forgot.  Of course, that would be the day she didn't wake up until after 7am too; so I lost some time there, but it did feel really nice to sleep in a bit.  Bill watched her while I headed first downtown to our favorite Italian grocery store, Gloriosos's, and then to the regular grocery store.  After I got home and we unpacked everything, Bill counted; and we had over 10 pounds of cheese in our fridge!!  Then we were basically in a state of flux the rest of the afternoon, as it was too early to cook; and the house wasn't terribly messy either.  So, we just sort of chilled out and played in the house.  Bill did fix our back storm door though.  It has only been broken since April 2010!  We capped off the night at Bill's sister's for pre-Christmas get together.  We had a nice ham dinner, and Madeleine had a blast chasing a ball around and playing with her older cousins and Uncles.

Sunday Bill got up with Madeleine.  I was up by 8am ready to get started on basically everything that needed to be done for Christmas Eve, but unfortunately the past few days of being sick caught up with Bill and he crashed on the couch.  He literally slept on the couch until noon!!  Thankfully, Madeleine was super good and entertained herself while I baked cookies.  I baked mint chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and gingerbread men cookies.  Madeleine helped decorate some of the sugar cookies with sprinkles...a lot of sprinkles!!
After Madeleine went down for her nap, I was so tired from being on my feet all morning that I joined Bill on the couch for the Packers' game and napped a bit myself.  Bill finally started to perk up, and made his contribution to the cookies - chocolate chip/coconut bars.  Afterwards, I got all my linens ironed and laid out on the table; and did a bit of cleaning (seriously...why wasn't our house more messy?).  I did one final run to the grocery store to pick up a few last minute items.  For dinner we just did leftovers.  Then, after Madeleine went to bed I spent the rest of the evening decorating the remaining sugar cookies and gingerbread men with Royal Icing.  This was only the second time I have worked with it.  I think I'm slowly getting the hang of it. 
On Christmas Eve morning I finished cleaning the house; which didn't take too long.  My parents showed up around 11am to help me with dinner.  We always have lasagna on Christmas Eve, but I have actually never made one before.  My mom helped me with it while Bill and my dad kept Madeleine entertained.  Around 3pm, my oldest sister arrived with her twins (also age 2), and my little sister arrived too.  My little sister, Bill, and I watched the kids while my two older sisters and parents went to mass.  (I have 3 sisters total, 2 older and 1 younger)  Bill's dad arrived 4pm to join the fun too.  I had dinner mentally planned for about 6pm.  Everybody got home from church around 5:45pm, and the chaos began (good chaos though).  There was a mad dash to get dinner on the table, but other than those 20 minutes of craziness everything went off without hitch.  We sat down to eat about 6:15, and it was all delicious!!  We had lasagna, Italian sausage, garlic bread, green beans, and salad.  After that there was all my cookies for dessert and of course presents!!  It was completely crazy with 1 three year old and 3 two year olds, but a lot of fun. 
Those headed back home were gone by about 9:30pm.  My little sister, Bill, and I went to 10pm mass; while my parents stayed with Madeleine.  We got home a little after 11pm, set out all the remaining presents, cleaned up a bit, and were in bed by midnight.

On Christmas morning we had a little family snuggle time in bed.  Madeleine joined me in bed while Bill showered; then we switched.  I wanted us all to go downstairs together, so we'd both get to see Madeleine's reaction to her presents.  Her big Santa gift was an art easel with a chalkboard on one side and a dry erase board on the other.  I thought she would be super excited, but she was actually a little timid about it all.  It was still cute though.  My parents and little sister had spent the night, so they joined us for presents.  Madeleine enjoyed opening presents, but wanted to play with each one after it was opened.  So, it took a little while for her to make it through her pile.  She definitely like the easel.  We also got her kitten slippers that she did not want to take off.  I think her favorite present was a $1 LED flashlight thingy I picked up for her stocking.  You press a button and it lights up and spins, and she loved it.  Go figure.  We probably could have just gotten her that and she would have been totally content.
After presents, Bill and I made French toast and bacon for everybody.  Then around 11am, we said goodbye to my family and headed over to my Mother-in-law's.  It was more presents there literally the minute we walked in the door.  We had a turkey dinner around 2ish.  It was after dinner that we realized we had forgotton to put Madeleine down for a nap, so she did that after dinner; while Bill and I got to relax and just visit with everyone.  We woke her up around 4pm, said our goodbyes, and headed home.  Madeleine played with her chalk board the rest of the night.  I wanted to get us back on our normal schedule since I had to work the next morning, so we put her to bed 7pm as per usual.  She went right to sleep.  Bill and I capped off the night watching the Doctor Who Christmas special on BBC America then headed upstairs to bed.  Exhausted, we went to sleep at 10pm. 

So, that's our Christmas run-down.  We survived, and like I wanted, it was super stress-free.  I told Bill to keep reminding me that everything didn't have to be perfect.  That really helped.  I planned everything really well though, so even though it didn't have to be basically was.   

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Fun

It's been a long week in my household with a sick little girl, and now husband.  Madeleine woke up Monday morning with a runny nose and fever that at its highest reached 103.8.  She still has a runny nose, but is otherwise better.  For once (knock on wood) I didn't catch her cold, but Bill actually did; which is rare as he hardly ever gets sick.  He's now currently fighting the same fever and nasal congestion.  We also both had work holiday dinners on different nights this week, so I feel like we've hardly even seen each other.  To top it all off, we got our first major snow storm here in Milwaukee.  I was actually driving home in it last night, and it wasn't fun.  Thankfully, by our house we didn't get too much (thank you Lake Michigan).  I don't think Bill would have had it in him this morning if he had to fire up the snow blower.

So, I didn't get around to the couple of things I wanted to post about this week.  I wanted to end the week with something though, so I'll leave you with something that made me laugh.  Have you seen the sheer ridiculousness (awesomeness?) that is the Kardashian Christmas card?
My first reaction to this card was that this family is crazy and full of themselves, but the more I think about it the more I think it's awesome!!  Come on, there is a white fluffy cat sitting in a plexiglass box for goodness sakes!
I have never watched an episode of their show, yet I know the name of almost everybody in this picture.  Are they all overexposed, yes; but you have to give them props for marketing themselves so well, and staying relevant.  I think they are the epitome of the saying "there is no such thing as bad press."
So, kudos to them for celebrating the fact that they are all rich and beautiful.  How wonderful would it be to be able to spend your money on matching designer outfits, and a professionally taken (and photoshopped) family portrait.  You don't even have to be all together...a few of the family members couldn't make it, so were just photoshopped in.
Oh, and if you're looking for more ways to waste time on the Internet today...just type "Kardashian Christmas Card" in Google images and you won't be disappointed.  They've been doing over the top Christmas cards for years and years, and they are all hilarously awesome. 
I hope everybody enjoys the holidays!!  I'll be back next week with a rundown of our Christmas activities.  Merry Christmas!
Photo Source:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

You Taught Me Everything I know About Exterior Illumination

Bill and I just watched Christmas Vacation over the weekend, so the title of this post is a nod to what is still one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Although it is hardly worthy of Clark Griswald, we did decorate the front of our house for Christmas.  We never really done this before, so we kept it small and simple this year. 
On the front porch we hung pre-lit garland we picked up at Stein's.  We wrapped it around the railing going up the porch steps, and then across the front of the porch with a red bow in the middle of each swag.  Then we wrapped red plastic ribbon around the end columns of the porch like candy canes.
I hung my jingle bell wreath (from Williams-Sonoma) on the front door.  Finally, we put interior white lights on all the front facing windows on the first and second floor.
It's kind of funny for me to look at the front of our house.  We always enter from our back door, so we hardly ever even see the front.  It definitely needs a little TLC come spring.  And does anyone else think its weird that we only have 3 columns on our front porch instead of 4?  For the life of us we cannot figure out why a column wasn't put in on the left of the stairs.

Anyway...with this, my December to-do list officially looks like this...

- Bring Madeleine to see Santa
- Buy Christmas Tree

- Decorate for Christmas (tree, interior, exterior)
- Christmas Shopping (We have 20 people to buy for!)
- Christmas Eve Meal - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Christmas Cookies - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Wrap Christmas presents (make sure I have boxes, paper, and bows)
- Attend mass (last year we missed this due to an urgent care visit with Madeleine on Christmas Day)
- Christmas Cards - Create / Buy / Mail-out
- Mail Christmas gifts to out-of-town family
- Clean the house for Christmas Eve

Other than wrapping presents, all that is left is cooking/cleaning for Christmas Eve.  Oh, and we have our plan for Christmas mass as well.  My parents and little sister are sleeping over Christmas Eve, so I think Bill and I are going to go to midnight mass that night.  Let's hope we don't fall asleep during it!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Decor - Dining Room Edition

Alright, let's wrap up the interior Christmas decorations with a quick look at our dining room.
Over by the bay window I've been displaying all the Christmas cards we've received so far (just taping them to the window).  I also put up my Waterford 12 Days of Christmas bells.  They are discontinued now, but you can still get them at various places online.  Bill had given me the first two, but forgot last year.  He surprised me earlier this month with three and four!  They're very pretty, and definitely fall into the "fancy" category of my decorations. 
Next our corner cabinet has our childhood stockings displayed.  Mine is the striped one on top, and Bill's has Mrs. Claus on it; which I think is hilarious.  His was handknit by a family member who thought he was going to be a girl.  I love that he still used it all those years.
On the dining room table I have my table cloth from Williams-Sonoma.  I bought it last year the day after Christmas for super cheap with six matching napkins.  In the middle of it I have my Santa cookie jar and salt/pepper shakers.  They were a gift form my sister last year, bought at West Elm.  I was hoping they would have the set again, so I could get the matching milk pitcher and mug to complete the set, but they didn't.  However, a few days ago, I was able to score the milk pitcher on eBay!  It's new-in-box, so I'm pretty excited.  Now I just have to track down the mug.
Finally, on the bar, I set up my nativity set.  For the life of me, I do not recall where I got it; but I've had it for a number of years now.  It's very modern, and I love all the colored glass.  I just really like how different it is.
So, that's that for our interior Christmas decorations.  It's really just the two rooms.  Next year, I'll have to figure out a way to bring some Christmas touches to the kitchen and bathroom too, maybe with some cute dish/hand towels.

Now all I have to do is keep it clean until Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Decor - Living Room Edition

I think I'm pretty much done with our interior Christmas decorations.  I have such a random collection of items that it's not quite as cohesive as I would have liked, but it's done!  I seem to have a few different tastes when it comes to Christmas that I'll classify as traditional, fancy, and modern.  I don't have enough of any yet to do the whole house in one style, so everything I had went up this year.  I already talked about the tree here, so let's take a look at the rest of the living room, shall we?

Our living room is pretty wide, so I couldn't get a shot of the entire room, so these are shots of each side; plus our built-ins.
Here's a closer look at the details...on the black console table we have the Nutcracker Ballet snowglobe I got Madeleine for her first Christmas (from Gump's, still available here).
Next, a new purchase this year, I picked up felt Holiday Lights Garland (from Land of Nod, still available here).  I saw them last year and was hoping to get them cheap in an after Christmas sale, but they were gone.  When I saw them again this year, and then they went on sale (and still are on sale), I decided just to get them.  They look cute above our French doors, and Madeleine seems to like them.

On the other side of the room, I had fun adding some touches to our new built-ins.  Bill just recently finished building the bookcases around the television, and it was fun to have new surface to decorate!  We hung Madeleine and Banshee's stockings (from Annie's Woolens).  They are so cute, and a Wisconsin company too, so I was happy to buy local.  I'm going to get Baby Boy's from here as well next year.
I picked up these mercury glass trees last year after Christmas for super cheap from Williams-Sonoma.  The little snowman candle was a gift someone gave me last year as well.
On the otherside of the television I put my Nutcracker; a Christmas gift from my mom ages ago.  I also had a little gold wire present box.  I got it as a gift last year.  It was filled with candy.  I thought the box was cute though, so I saved it.
Then we hung some felt tree ornaments above the television, and on the small window above our couch as well.  They were from Target last year.
So, that's the living room!  Oh, and I didn't get a close up shot of it, but you'll notice our Buffalo head (from Cardboard Safari) is donning a Santa hat.  We also have a stack of Christmas books on the end table we read to Madeleine daily.
So, that's the living room all dolled up for Christmas.  It's a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but it's festive.  I'll be back tomorrow with how we dressed up the dining room. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Time Flies When Your Having Fun

If I thought time was going fast prior to having Madeleine, since her arrival it now moves at warp speed. 

We just recently had her 2 year old portraits taken, and I just keep thinking...How can she possibly be 2 years old already!!

Here's her best "portrait" shot.  It was really hard to get her to sit still, but we got a few cute ones.
We also got some nice candids.  I thought this one really showcased her natural smile well.
Finally, we did manage a decent family shot.  This is what we used on our Christmas card (which I created and ordered last night).  I had wanted Madeleine in the middle of us to break up our black, but at least we got something.
And just for's my favorites from all the photo shoots we did the first two years.
Newborn (I think she's about 6 weeks old here)
3 months
6 months
9 months

1 year
18 months
2 years
Her face has definitely thinned out over the last six months.  She looks more "little girl" now than "baby."  Seriously...2 years!!  I still can't believe it.

All photos taken by Elizabeth at Photography Atelier, but owned by me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree

I mentioned last week (here) that I created a list of things that needed to be done in December.  I'm trying to have as stress-free a holiday season as possible, and I'm a list girl.  So, here's where we're at.

Here's what December looks like for us:
December 1st - Breakfast with Santa at a work colleague's house  This was fun, and Madeleine had a blast!
December 6th - St. Nick's  We remembered!!
December 9th - Cookie Exchange party at a friend's Changing to Brother-in-Law's going away party - Bill's little brother joined the Air Force and is about to head out to Basic Training.
December 13th - Holiday Open House at my office  We decided we're not going to attend this one.  Remember, sometimes its okay to decline an invitation!  I consistently have to remind myself of this.
December 24th - Christmas Eve at our house with my family visiting
December 25th - Christmas at my mother-in-law's

In addition, this is what needs to be done:
- Bring Madeleine to see Santa
- Buy Christmas Tree
- Decorate for Christmas (tree, interior, exterior)
- Christmas Shopping (We have 20 people to buy for!)
- Christmas Eve Meal - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Christmas Cookies - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Wrap Christmas presents (make sure I have boxes, paper, and bows)
- Attend mass (last year we missed this due to an urgent care visit with Madeleine on Christmas Day)
- Christmas Cards - Create / Buy / Mail-out
- Mail Christmas gifts to out-of-town family
- Clean the house for Christmas Eve

Yes, the holiday decorations are all up.  I know I'm a little wordy, so I'm going to designate a post each to the tree, interior, and exterior.  Today we'll focus on the tree!

I mentioned here we went with a fake tree this year, and I'll confess that I genuinely like it.  I still think we should get a real one sometimes, as I have such fond memories of getting all bundled up and picking out a tree with my dad and sisters (for some reason my mom never came with us - go figure).  We always just went to the Christmas tree lot located on the tennis courts of a local park, but it was fun.  It was our tradition.  I'd like Madeleine and her little brother (to be named later) to experience that as well. 

I know a few people who actually cut down there own tree every year.  I think that would be awesome to try sometime.  You also can't beat the smell of real trees, but I suppose that can be easily duplicated by a scented candle.

But back to our tree...I'm liking the fake tree.  It was so simple to put together, and I love that it is basically perfectly symmetrical.  Also, as we were hanging ornaments, we could manipulate branches if needed to make room for longer/bigger ornaments.

Here's the finished product...
We bought a tree without lights, as I like to use the big C7 colored bulbs.  So, after we put the tree together, Bill strung the lights.  When Madeleine woke up from her nap, we got to decorating.  Oh, and we also put the movie Elf on while we decorated.  That has become a little tradition that Bill and I started.  It's such a great holiday movie.

Most of the ornaments are mine.  Bill has a small box of Hallmark ornaments and homemade ones from his childhood, but other than that they're all mine.  My mom, little sister, and myself are all sort of obsessed with ornaments.  Our favorites are the Old World Christmas ones.  They are very shiny and glittery; most have nothing to do Christmas, but I love them.  I have a number of Hallmark ornaments, and also tend to pick up ornaments when I travel to commemorate a trip.  Here's my buffalo I picked up when Bill and I went to South Dakota.
Madeleine did really well with the ornaments.  Her job was mostly carrying them between myself (who was unwrapping them) and Bill (who was hanging them).  She lost interest after a bit though, so Bill and I just finished it up while she played. 

There are plenty of breakable ones at her level as well.  I just told her not to touch them, and she's been good about it so far.  The only ones that have really interested her is a group of Hallmark ones I have shaped like Disney characters.  Mouse and Duck are new words for her, so she likes to point to Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy and say either "mouse" or "duck".
Once all the ornaments were up I had to think a bit about how to finish it up.  I've always used icicle tinsel on my trees (you know the kind that comes in hundreds of little strands and you sort of throw on the tree).  That's what we always did growing up, and it just makes everything so shiny and glittery.  The's hard to remove.  With a real tree you can just throw the stray strands away with the tree, but with a fake one I would have to remove each individual strand.   So, I wasn't quite sure how to finish things off for this tree.  I toyed with the idea of wrapping ribbon around it or adding bows here and there, but ended up getting gold beaded garland at Target instead.  As this is a first for me, it seemed like the easiest material to work with.

I'll admit it looks a little weird to me.  Usually they are just covered in tinsel, so it's strange to see so much green. 

This was a good exercise for me though.  Let's just say I like things how I like them, and am not always open to change.  I will admit though that I have always secretly wanted to try a theme tree with coordinating ornaments in one color scheme.  So, maybe next year I'll try that.  It would be fun to decide as a family what color scheme to go with each year.  Maybe that will be our new tradition.

And just so you don't have to scroll back to the's the tree one more time, and once with the lights off to show it off lighted up!
How do you guys decorate your tree?  Is it the same year to year, or do you go the theme route.  We actually came "this" close to buying a white tree, but I decided on this one as I figured we would get more use out of it.  I have secretely always wanted to do a white christmas tree with blue/silver ornaments.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Did St. Nick come to your house last night?

We never did St. Nick's growing up, but here in (the largely German) Milwaukee it seems to be very popular.  I think it is a cute tradition though, so I thought we'd do it with Madeleine this year.  I've heard all sort of different takes on it too.  Some people just give an orange, some candy, some a small present.  Then, some people put their stockings out, and some people put their shoes out.  We decided to put Madeleine's little shoes outside her bedroom door, and got her a small present.

We bought her The Night Before Christmas book, as I thought it would be good to read over the next few weeks to help her understand all this Christmas and Santa Claus stuff; as I really don't think she has any idea what is going on yet.   We bought this edition, as I just loved the illustrations.

Photo Source:
It was kind of funny as this is a pretty big book, and Madeleine's shoes are very small.  I didn't take a picture of it (bad blogger, I know); but I wrapped the book and stuck just the corner of it in her little shoe.  So, basically we had this tiny little shoe with a giant book sticking out of it.
We woke her up a few minutes early, so she could unwrap it; and then we read it quickly once before we headed out.  She seemed to like the pictures as much as I did.  There were lots of pointing and exclaiming "moon", "dog", and "baby" as we flipped through it.

I think this is something that we'll continue to do.  It's fun and easy to do.  The hard part will be remembering every year.  I totally had it on my radar, and still almost forgot about it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Whatcha Watching?

I'll be honest with you...most nights after Madeleine goes to bed I am so exhausted that I just crash in front of the television.  Part of me really wants to utilize these precious three hours before my own bedtime to take care of things around the house, but that part of me usually doesn't win.  So, I thought I'd take a moment to analyze what I watch to help me determine what I feel is really worth my time, and see what (if anything) can go by the wayside.

So, here's what I watch, and why...

How I Met Your Mother (CBS) - I primarily watch this show for the characters Barney Stinson and Marshall & Lily.  Barney is hilarious and Marshall & Lily are adorable.  I actually don't really like the main character, Ted, that much anymore; but am still really interested to find out who the "mother" will be.  I figure this show probably only has another season left, maybe two tops.  I really hope Ted meets the "mother" on the last episode and it just ends with the line "And that's how I met your mother."  If he meets the mom and the show keeps going I'm going to be over it.

Gossip Girl (CW) - I watch this show for two reasons:  1) Chuck & Blair and 2) the CLOTHES!!!  I would love, love, love to have Blair or Lily's wardrobe from this show.  This is actually its last season, and I'm glad as the storylines are getting a little far fetched.  As long as it ends with Chuck and Blaire together I'll be happy. 

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Ben & Kate (Fox) - This is one of only two new shows we started watching this season; primarily because it is on right before New Girl.  I think it is pretty funny, but I'm not 100% sure its a keeper yet.

New Girl (Fox) - Zooey Deschanel is one of my favorite actresses (and singers too).  I love her quirkiness and think she is adorable.  Part of me thinks her character on the show is not too different from how she is in real life.  I love her, and I love Schmidt on this show.  The only thing that kind of bums me out right now is the Nick character.  They are setting him up to eventually get together with Jess, and he's so annoying.  He's kind of become a caricature...always yelling all the time.  I like him much better when he tones it down a bit.

The Mindy Project (Fox) - This is the other new show we picked up this season.  I love Mindy Kaling, and so far am really liking this show.  I think I'll be sticking with this one for sure.

Happy Endings (ABC) - I had to look up which day this show was actually on.  It's set to record on my DVR, and just pops up randomly.  It still makes me laugh, but if it weren't recording I probably wouldn't even miss it.

Modern Family (ABC) - This show came out with a bang, and is still going strong.  It is a must-see for me every week.  I love Phil Dunphy!!

The Big Bang Theory (CBS) - This is my absolute favorite sitcom right now!  Bill and I have both liked it since day one, but we definately agree since they brought on Bernadette and especially Amy Farrah Fowler as "girlfriends" it has jumped to a whole new level of funny.  Amy is my favorite character.  I love her relationship with Sheldon, and her quasi-lesbian infatuation with Penny is hilarious.  This scene is one my all-time favorite moment of the show so far...

30 Rock (NBC) - I love Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin, so I've always enjoyed this one.  It's just so silly, and makes me laugh every week.  This is its last season, and I'll be sad to see it go.

Up All Night (NBC) - This show started the fall Madeleine was born, so I think Bill and I latched onto it because as brand new parents all the material was so relevant.  We totally related, and still do.  Plus, I totally love Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph.

Parks and Recreation (NBC) - This is one we just started watching because it was between 30 Rock and The Office, and it slowly became one of our favorites.  It's very sweet.  This is also in its last season, and I'll miss it as well.  (I'm also bummed Amy Poehler and Will Arnett are getting divorced.  They were so cute together!)

The Office (NBC) - This was one of my favorite shows when Steve Carel was on it.  I was hoping it would keep its charm after he left, but alas, it hasn't.  I probably would have stopped watching it this season, but it's the last season as well for this one; so I'll see it through.  Steve Carel better make a final appearance!!

Glee (Fox) - I really liked this show when it first came out, and really up through last season as well.  However, as often happens with shows that take place in high school, now that the main characters have graduated it's just not the same.  Finn takes over the Glee Club while Mr. Schu is on sabbatical?  Santana comes home from college to play Rizzo in the school musical?  Plus, I thought they would focus more on the Junior class from last year, but instead they've introduced all these new characters that I just don't care about.  I do like when they show Kurt and Rachel's lives in New York though.  That's the show I want to see now...Kurt and Rachel Take New York!     

Grimm (NBC) - I always like a good fantasy show, and I think this one is really good.  I couldn't tell you the name of any of the actors in it, but it's pretty solid.  We actually saw (and said "hi" to) one of the actors when we were in Portland earlier this year (it's filmed there).  It was "Monroe" for those who watch it.  We were waiting for a table at a restaurant, and he came in looking for a table as well.  They obviously didn't recognize him, because they told him it was an hour wait.  He turned to leave and I was all...OMG.  I chased him down half a block, yelled "Excuse Me" until he stopped and turned (I told you I don't know his name!), then simply told him I was a fan of the show.  He seemed genuinely thankful to hear it.

Saturday Night Live (NBC) - I still enjoy watching this show every week.  Although, I haven't watched it "live" in a long time.  It records, and we usually watch it here and there throughout the week. 

Once Upon A Time (ABC) - Another fantasy show I enjoy.  I don't know how much longevity this show has (it really should be a mini-series), but for now I still like it.  I like how it tells parallel stories with the same characters in two different worlds.  Plus, I really like Ginnifer Goodwin.  She makes an excellent Snow White.

The Walking Dead (AMC) - And I save the best for last.  This is my absolute favorite show right none.  It's really the only show that I cannot wait to watch every week.  If you're not familiar, it takes place in the aftermath of a zombie apocolypse, and follows a rag tag group of people around as they navigate this new world and basically, just try to survive.  I will warn you that it is so's bloody work killing zombies afterall; but it so well done.  Every week I am on the edge of my seat.  It's truly a show where nobody is safe either.  They kill of main characters all the time.  You literally never know what it going to happen.  The mid-season finale was last night, and I don't know how I'm going to wait until February for new episodes.  If you don't watch this one, it's an excellent time to get caught up.  They are only in Season 3 right now.  I highly recommend this one!!
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Other shows I watch that aren't on right now are:
Cougar Town (TBS) - This show actually was cancelled, but TBS has picked it up and will start running new episodes in January.  I love Courtney Cox and the silliness of this show. 

Mad Men (AMC) - I love me some Don Draper, and have always loved the costumes on this show, but I think I may be done with this one.  It's been a bit boring the last few seasons.

True Blood (HBO) - I am still enjoying this one.  Vampire Eric is my favorite!

Downton Abby (PBS) - Besides The Walking Dead, this is my other favorite show right now!!  Season 3 will air on PBS in January, and I can't wait!!!

Doctor Who (BBC America) - My sister got me hooked on this one.  Another sci-fi, fantasy show, but I like it (Bill loves it!).  We watched all 6 seasons over last summer, and have been watching Season 7 live.  I'm really interested to see who the new companion is when it comes back next year.

So, after analyzing all this, here's what I came up with:

1)  I'm watching about 12 hours of television a week.  That's slightly misleading though, as I also watch rerun episodes of The Big Bang Theory on at 6pm during the week, and The Disney Channel is on for a bit both Saturday/Sunday mornings, and after naps.  Madeleine only watches television here and there in 10-15 minute spurts, so if I sit and watch an entire episode of Good Luck Charlie, that's really on me.  I'm going to work on not turning on the television until the shows I want to watch are actually on.

2)  I tried to find some sort of theme among what I watch, but they are all so different.  I mean, on Sunday night I watch a show about fairy tale characters followed by a show about zombies!  The only thing I could come up with is that I like scripted television.  I watch no reality shows at all.  So, yay for me!!!

3) Four of the shows I am currently watching are in their last seasons.  That will free up 2.5 hours during the week if I pick up no new shows.

4) I think I'm going to drop Glee, Mad Men, and Happy Endings.  Maybe even Ben & Kate too.  I'm going to cancel them on my DVR, and I bet I won't even miss them.  That will free up another 2.5 to 3 hours!!

5) I can't believe the only thing I watch on Wednesday is Modern Family.  I think I'm going to start designating this as a cleaning/project night.  It is set to record, so I can just knock it out another night.

So, that's that.  How do you guys feel about television?  Do you think you watch too much?  What are your must-sees every week?  Is there something crazy good out there I should be watching?  Everywhere I turn people are talking about Homeland.  I'm scared to get sucked in though, but it's only in Season 2 I think, so it wouldn't take long to get caught up.

Oh, and for the record, Bill and I have very compatible television tastes.  With the exception of maybe Gossip Girl and Glee, Bill watches all these shows as well.  In addition, he watches shows on the Discovery and History channels like Pawn Stars and Gold Rush.  He also watches a bit of sports, but thankfully he is not obsessed with them or anything.  He's a pretty well-rounded guy. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Is Coming...

I mentioned the whole idea behind this blog is to aid me as I transform my "real" life into my "ideal" life...the countless small things I need to improve on to help my life run a bit more smoothly.  I should note too, that I'm not trying to achieve my dream life or anything here.  I can tell you right now, unless we win the lottery, that is not going to happen.  This is my day-to-day life I'm talking about.  I just want it to be a bit more special.  I want the mundane things, like housework and chores, to be on auto-pilot, so I can really enjoy the limited amount of free time I have with my family. 

To give you a concrete example of what I'm talking about, let's take Bill's birthday last Wednesday.  Now, that was the day we learned we were having a boy, so that part was really fun; but other than that I feel like I really dropped the ball.  It was all too last minute and rushed.  I managed to order him a present the Friday before, and thankfully it arrived by his birthday.  However, it wasn't much, and I wanted to get him more.  I also wanted to pick out something cute for Madeleine to give or make for him, but didn't get around to that either.  I didn't even get him a card!! 

Then, for dinner we were having fish tacos which we make fairly regularly.  For some reason, when we were at the store we were not seeing the tilapia in the fish case (which we usually use), so we bought another type of fish instead.  I don't remember what it was, but it did not taste good at all in the tacos.  After they wrapped our fish, we had a "duh" moment and saw the tilapia in the case.  Of course, we didn't bother to exchange it because the place was a mad house.  I wish we had though.

Finally, he asked for a big cookie instead of a cake.  Of course, I didn't order one or anything from the bakery, so his birthday cookie said "Happy Thanksgiving" on it.

I know he didn't care because he is super laid back...Mr. Chill if you will, but that's not the point.  It's not like I wanted to throw him a huge party or anything either.  I just didn't want it to be an after thought.

This is my long winded way of saying that I need to work on my time management / planning skills a bit.  So, I thought it would help me to at the end of each month take a moment to see what's coming up in the next month, so I can give myself a bit more time to prepare for everything.

December is obviously a big one with Christmas.  We're actually hosting my family for Christmas Eve too, so I want to make sure I'm on the ball.

Here's what December looks like for us:
December 1st - Breakfast with Santa at a work colleague's house
December 6th - St. Nick's
December 9th - Cookie Exchange party at a friend's
December 13th - Holiday Open House at my office
December 24th - Christmas Eve at our house with my family visiting
December 25th - Christmas at my mother-in-law's

In addition, this is what needs to be done:
- Bring Madeleine to see Santa
- Buy Christmas Tree
- Decorate for Christmas (tree, interior, exterior)
- Christmas Shopping (We have 20 people to buy for!)
- Christmas Eve Meal - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Christmas Cookies - Plan / Buy Ingredients / Make
- Wrap Christmas presents (make sure I have boxes, paper, and bows)
- Attend mass (last year we missed this due to an urgent care visit with Madeleine on Christmas Day)
- Christmas Cards - Create / Buy / Mail-out
- Mail Christmas gifts to out-of-town family
- Clean the house for Christmas Eve

I'm happy to say I can cross off two items on the list already.  We were stopping by the mall to pick up Bill's new glasses prior to visiting his brother over the weekend (they just had a baby), so since Madeleine was with us I decided to just take her then to visit Santa.  At 11:30 we were first in line to see Santa at noon.  Madeleine did really good waiting in line, then of course when we she sat on his lap this happened.  I totally love it!!
We also went to Stein's and bought a fake Christmas tree (50% off!).  I'm normally very anti-fake Christmas tree, but Bill convinced me of its merits.  It's much less messy, we don't have to water it, and now we have it going forward.  So, next year, buying a tree won't even be on this list!  I agreed with the one caveat that we would still do a real tree from time to time.
Are you guys already mentally preparing for Christmas, or is it too soon yet?  Do you have any tips for a stress-free holiday season?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving holiday!  We certainly did.  We celebrated at Bill's sister's house with good food and football.  Madeleine loved playing football, and I snapped this picture of her.  I love it.
Besides Thanksgiving, we also celebrated Bill's birthday last week, and had the big 20-week old ultrasound.  We found out we're having a BOY!!

We're really excited.  I really just assumed we were going to have another girl, so it definitely caught me off guard.  I'm a little nervous about it too.  I feel like I have the whole little girl thing down pat; I have no idea what to expect with a little boy.

There's also the fact that Madeleine was literally the best baby ever.  She was always happy, hardly ever cried, and was sleeping through the night by 7 weeks.  I'm already mentally preparing myself, as I think she might have been the exception not the rule.

I also am having trouble remembering all the stuff we did when Madeleine was an infant.  My whole life was measured by ounces and hours for so long, and now I can't remember a lick of it.  We were in survival mode, and as she advanced from stage to stage all the old information just vanished to make room for the next.  I'm sure we'll figure it all out again real quick.

Oh, and in case you were wondering...
- we have a name, but we're not saying.  It's actually the same boy name we picked out before we knew Madeleine was a girl, so we've had it in our pocket for awhile.
- this will be our last kid.  We decided awhile ago that two was it for us.  If there was any doubt for either of us, this one being a boy sealed the deal.  One of each is just perfect.

I can't believe I am halfway through this pregnancy already.  It is going by much faster than the first, as Madeleine keeps me to busy to think about it much.  I'm glad of it too because I don't particularly enjoy being pregnant, and this one has been much harder than the first.

So, as you can see, we had a lot to be thankful for this year.  I cannot believe November is almost over.  This year went by so fast!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day Date

Bill and I were a little sneaky this week.  You see, we both took Monday through Wednesday off from work.  Combine that with the Thanksgiving holiday, and we end up getting 9 days off in a row while only sacrificing 3 vacation days.  We do it every year, and I love it.

That's not the sneaky part though.

The sneaky part was that we decided to send Madeleine to daycare Tues/Wed to have a couple of days to ourselves.  Today we had an appointment and errands to run, but yesterday we had ourselves a DAY DATE.

So, after a yummy French Toast breakfast, we spent an exciting day at the mall!!

And for all you How I Met Your Mother fans, I was totally singing "Let'g Go To The Mall" to myself all day.  Go Robin Sparkles!!

We got to the mall pretty much right when it opened, and headed to VisionWorks to get Bill some new glasses.  While he was getting his eye exam and picking out frames; I headed to The Loft to return a shirt and then to Barnes and Noble to buy some books for Madeleine for Christmas.  I had a big stack picked out, but those picture books are crazy expensive!!  I narrowed it down to three:  Madeline, Curious George, and The Night Before Christmas.

When Bill was finished, we did a bit more Christmas shopping then had lunch at the food court.  After lunch we went to GAP Kids (which has maternity clothes).  I picked up a pair of jeans and two tops.  I was pregnant with Madeleine mostly in the summer months, so I needed to pick up a few warmer options to get me through the winter.

After that, we headed to the movies.  We saw "Skyfall," the new James Bond movie.  We both really liked it.  It was definitely worth seeing it in the theater; a long movie though.  By the time it got out it was after 3pm.  We headed home, picked up Madeleine, and it was business as usual for the rest of the night.

It's so rare for us to be alone together in the middle of the day like that.  It's a much different vibe than the more standard evening date; more casual.  It was fun.

Have you guys ever played hookie like we did?  Did you do something more exciting than going to the mall?  We'll have to be more creative next time (and there will be a next time).  Have you seen Skyfall yet?  Are you looking forward to any other movies?  I can't wait to see Anna Karenina and Les Miserables.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pin It - Did It!

If you're an avid blog reader like I am, then you're probably pretty into Pinterest too.  They kind of go hand in hand.  I love it, but my Boards got crazy out of control really fast, so eventually I just started "liking" everything instead of pinning them to individual boards.  I currently have 1,340 "Likes".  One of the things on my never-ending To-Do List is to organize my account better, but I also want to start doing some of the things I've pinned.  That's kind of the point, right?

So, I decided to pick something and do it.  I picked this...
It's a growth chart ruler.  I know we're not going to stay in our current house, so I thought this would be a fun way to start tracking Madeleine's height that we could also take with us whenever we decide to move. 

We used a combination of the tutorials here and here to make it. 

Here's what you'll need:
- 6 foot tall piece of your favorite wood.  We used Pine because its cheap.  Also, our board was 9" wide because I thought 6" seemed to thin.
- Your favorite stain
- Pencil
- Sharpie markers (preferably brand new with a good tip)
- Framing Square

Bill took care of prepping the board.  He got it cut to size, roughed it up, and stained it.  Since I'm preganant I didn't want to be around the fumes.

When it was fully cured and didn't smell anymore, I got to work on the details.  Using a square and pencil I marked the board at every inch.  Then, I went back with my pencil and made the lines.  The small lines are " and the long lines are 3".  Then, I went over my pencil lines with a Sharpie marker.  I was doubtful that a Sharpie marker would look as good as paint, but it looks awesome and is much easier to work with.

Next, I made my own stencils for the numbers.  The tutorials offer a few other methods for the numbers, but I was doubtful I had the necessary skills to make it look crisp and clean using their methods.  I printed off numbers 1-6 in Times New Roman font sized to 250 on card stock.  Using scissors I carefully cut each number out.  I made sure to cut the number out in one continuous cutting motion, so there was only one entry point on the card stock.  Then, I taped that off to make my stencil.

Lining it all up was a little difficult, as my stencils were not see-through.  However, using the square, a few fixed points, and my eye I was able to line it all up pretty good.  The bottom of each number is 5" away from the left of the board.

Once I had each stencil in place, I traced and filled it in with the Sharpie.  I put two layers of Sharpie on each one, and ended up with a nice crisp, dark number.
Oh, and watch out on the 4 and 6.  It was impossible to make a stencil that took into account the dead space in the middle of the 4 and 6.  After I cut out each of those numbers, I saved the cut-out.  Then, I cut the dead space out of each of those and taped the scissor entry point again.  When I had my main stencil in place for these numbers, I fit the cut-out back in the original space and using a fine point Sharpie traced around the dead space.  When I removed it I could tell where it was safe to color in with the thick Sharpie.

So, that's how we did it...and here's the finished product!!
And yes, ours does not line up 6" off the floor the way it is supposed to.  We have 6" baseboards, so it didn't work out.  However, I really liked the symmetrical look of starting the ruler at 6" and ending it at 6'6".  It's mostly just functioning as just art right now.  Most likely our next house will have standard 4" baseboards, and if it doesn't I'll figure out some way to hang it so the measurements will be accurate.

I'm thinking I should probably seal it with something, but don't know with what yet. 

Oh, and we tried to measure Madeleine, but she really did not want to stand up against it for some reason.  We just had her 2 year old wellness visit and she was 33¼" tall.  She's rocking the 25th percentile!!