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!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Here's The Thing...

My name is Emily, and I'm starting this blog because I kind of thought by age 33 I would have my life together.  You know what I'm talking about...awesome body with a closet full of cool clothes to wear, fully decorated dream home, time and money to do whatever I want whenever I want; that sort of thing.  I thought I would have everything down; that my life would be running smoothly like a well oiled machine, and I'd really get to enjoy the next two-thirds of my life.  In a nutshell, life would be IDEAL.

Yeah, that's not happening right now.

My life is a chaotic mess!  I have so many unfinished projects, and so many things I want to see and do.  I feel like most days I operate in survival mode, just trying to get through the day.  It's not exactly "living" in my mind. 

I did get a few things right though. 

I fell in love and married the coolest dude I know, Bill.  We've been together eight years now, married for the last four.
A few months after we got married we got this little pup, Banshee.  She's our 3-year old Old English Sheepdog mix. 
Then, in 2010, this amazing girl entered the picture.  This is Madeleine.  She just turned two.

Oh, and one more thing...baby #2 is on its way; due next Spring!

These are the people that make it all worth while.  However, I want things to better...better for all of us...basically more AWESOME all around.  So, I'll be using this blog as a tool to keep me motivated and on track as I attempt to turn my REAL life into my IDEAL life.  Every aspect of my life needs a revamp in some way or another, so be prepared for posts about anything and everything.

Thanks for reading!