Tuesday, February 26, 2013

February - Status Update

Well, February completely flew by, but it is the shortest month of the year.  I think I got everything done on my To-Do List.

Give Banshee her meds.  I completely forgot, but thankfully Bill remembered.
Send birthday card to Brother-in-law.  Done
Valentine's Day.
- Do something crafty or bake something fun with Madeleine.  It wasn't much, but I found some break and bake Mickey Mouse Valentine cookies at the grocery store.  She loves Mickey right now...or just the "Mouse" as she calls him.  I thought she would love them, but I don't think she really cared, and they actually weren't very good.  So, this one was a bit of a bust.
- Get Valentines & candy for Madeleine's daycare group.  I picked up some Valentine's and lollypops from Target and put these together on time.  
- Date night with Bill.  Madeleine's daycare had a Parent's Night Out on Feb. 16th, so we had free babysitting from 4-8pm.  We went to the movies and saw The Hobbit.
Finish any outstanding House Fix-its.  Done.
Find a plumber.  Done.
Continue the Big Purge.  Done. 
Put the house up for sale!!  Done.  It's been up about a week now.  We had quite a few showings, a successful open house, and got an offer!!  We countered and are waiting to hear back.

It's been a very busy month, but we accomplished a lot.

I didn't take any pictures, but for Valentine's Day we also got Madeleine some candy hearts and chocolates.  Bill sent a lovely boquete of flowers to my office, and got me some candy.  I gave him a card, and as a joke put $5 in it.  I told him he could spend it on whatever he wanted.  Seriously though, are wives supposed to get their husbands something for Valentine's Day?  I'm always happy with flowers, so there's really no male equivalent to that. 

Then, something that wasn't even on my To-Do List that caught me completely by surprise was Mardi Gras!!  It was so early this year, but I remembered the Monday before.  I usually like to get us a King's Cake for fun, but I forgot to order one.  A quick trip to the grocery store though, and we had ourselves a little celebration.
I was going to take another picture of the cookie without her hand, but this one is much cuter and more accurate as to what was happening while I was trying to take a picture.
We all enjoyed the cookie, it was actually really, really good.  Madeleine kept singing "Happy To You" which is how she sings "Happy Birthday".

So, essentially, that was our February.  How was yours?  Did you do anything fun for Mardi Gras or Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Reports

One of my "hobbies" that I do not get to do enough of anymore is reading.  Picture me using my fingers to make quote marks when I say hobbies because I sometimes think reading is more of a personality trait than a hobby.  I think there are readers and non-readers out there.  I'm definitely a reader, and have been my whole life.

Last year I had hoped to get through at least 24 books, but only ended up reading 16.  Besides not having enough time, my choice of book sometimes slows me down too.  There's usually a non-fiction book here or there that I like to read, but although they're interesting, I don't usually devour them like I do fiction.  Then, on the fiction side, I like to occasionally read a classic here or there, and they also tend to take me awhile to get through.  So, I kind of felt bad that I did not even come close to reaching my goal, but I'm trying not to worry about it too much.  This is definitely one of those things that should be quality over quantity. 

It's funny too, the differences between readers and non-readers.  When I mention to each that I read 16 books last year the reader response is "only 16?" and the non-reader response is "wow, 16 books!!"

So, here we are in 2013, and although I didn't make a formal resolution to read 24 books again, it is my unofficial goal.  I'm three deep so far.  This is what I've been reading:

Bossypants: by Tina Fey
I thought I would kick off the new year with something light and fun.  I have been meaning to read this book forever, and as I had to do that 3-hour glucose test at the hospital one Saturday morning I downloaded it to keep me busy.  I finished about 90% of the book during that 3-hour span, and then finished it up a few days later.  So, it is definitely a quick read.  I was expecting it to focus more around her childhood/struggling young adult stages, but a lot of it was actually her more current SNL/30 Rock stories.  There were also a few parenting and relationship stories as well.  It jumped around a bit more than I thought it would.  That's not a bad thing, it just wasn't what I was expecting.  It was all very funny and well-written though which is the important thing.  I gave it 3 out of 5 stars, which for me equals "I liked it"
(1 star - didn't like it, 2 stars - it was okay, 3 stars - liked it, 4 stars - really liked it, 5 stars - loved it)
Next up was another non-fiction...
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking: by Susan Cain
As a self-described Introvert, I was drawn to this book when I started seeing it pop here and there.  It took me a month to get through it (like I said, non-fiction sometimes slows me down), but it was super interesting.  I think everyone should read this book.  It discusses Introverts in all sorts of various settings, and looked at them from all different scenarios.  For example, in the Introverts in business section it touched on the "extrovert boss - introvert employee", the "introvert boss - extravert employee", and the "introvert boss - introvert employee" scenarios.  It talked about the best environments for Introverts to work in and how each of these types of bosses could get the most out of their introvert/extravert employees.  There's a section like that for teachers, parents, and relationships.  The parents and relationships sections were the most interesting to me.  Bill is definitely an extravert, and I'm thinking Madeleine is following suit, but it's hard to decide that quite yet.
It also describes how none of us are really 100% one way or the other, and how Introverts can literally flip a switch and be extraverted if the situation really calls for it, but how it drains them and eventually they'll need to retreat to their natural Introvert state. 
I just found the subject matter fascinating, and helpful.  If you're not an Introvert, you know someone in your life who is; so I think the information pertains to everyone.  I definitely recommend this book.  4 out of 5 stars.
Finally, I just finished up my first fiction book of the year...
Gone Girl: by Gillian Flynn
This book, essentially a missing person/murder type mystery novel, had me hooked from the beginning.  It's broken up into three parts.  I devoured the first third super quick...then the major plot question gets answered.  After that, it slowed a bit for me, but I kept reading part two with more of an "okay, where is this going?" frame of mind.  Then, that question got answered.  Part three kept me intrigued as I really wanted the satisfaction of a certain ending, but then that didn't happen!!  It actually ended so abruptly that I was literally flipping the pages going, "wait, where's the next chapter, this can't be it."  But it was, to which I said "boo."  I definitely liked this booked; I just wished it had ended differently.  So, only 3 out of 5 stars for this too.
That's what I've read so far this year.  I have no idea what to read next, so send me recommendations!!     

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter Fun

We finally got some real snow here in Milwaukee, so I made sure to let Madeleine play in it a bit last week.  Madeleine playing in snow consists of stomping around, brushing snow off things, laughing at the dogs playing in the snow, and eating the snow.  Seriously, I could not get her to stop eating the snow!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Resolutions Update

Since it's February now, I thought I'd check in on my New Year's Resolutions to see how I was coming along.  I heard on the radio that most people abandon their resolutions within 45 days of the new year.  We're closing in on that timeframe, so it's the perfect time to check in and keep the momentum going.

1. Record those memories - I've fallen a little behind on a few of my, for lack of a better name, memory projects. I need to catch up on these, and make sure I'm on top of it going forward.
- 2011 and 2012 Photo Books  I've been going through photos and picking/editing ones for the photo books, but I'm only through September 2011. 
- Madeleine's Christmas Memory Book  I typed this up before I forgot the details, but haven't made the time to handwrite it into her book yet.
- Madeleine's Baby Book  Nothing.
- Purchase Baby Boy's Baby Book  Nothing.
- Figure out a video storage system and edit videos  Nothing.

2. Get in shape - I debated making this one public or not, but it is what it is. I need to lose a few pounds. This one is obviously on hold until after the baby is born, but come April I want to lose the baby weight plus an additional 20 pounds.  Nothing, but I'm happy to report that I have not gained nearly as much weight this time around as I did with Madeleine.  I still have a few months left, but hopefully I'll be starting off in a better place than last time.  My super healthy friends in AZ have got me thinking about my eating habits, and the habits I want to instill in my kids too; so I plan to start working on changing those to be more healthy.  That's something I can start now too, and don't have to wait on.

3. Take better photos - I'd like to learn more about how our camera works. In addition, which I think will make an even bigger difference, I really want to learn how to edit the pictures I take. My editing skills consist of removing red eye and clicking the "autocorrect" button in Microsoft Office 2010. That's it. I'd like to start learning Photoshop or some other editing software.  Nothing.

4. Make music - I grew up playing the piano and violin, but I never do that anymore. Bill also gave me a guitar a few years back, that I've really only toyed with since then. I'd like to learn one or two songs on the guitar, and be able to play them well and from memory.  Nothing.

5. The Big Purge - I mentioned this one already here. It's going to be a big project, but I'm actually looking forward to it. This one is coming along actually.  We've sold quite a few things, and have donated a ton.  We've even brought a few car loads of items we know we won't need for awhile, like holiday decorations and seasonal clothes, to my father-in-law's condo to help declutter the house for staging purposes.

6. Work on my style - I feel like I've lost my sense of style in the last few years. Between my weight gain and becoming a mom; I don't know how to dress my body anymore, and even if I did I'm not exactly sure what my style even is anymore.  Nothing, but I've been thinking about it.  I think I might extend this one to make it a family goal as well.  I've been thinking a lot about how I want Madeleine and Baby Boy to dress too.  I think Bill knows his style pretty well, but his wardrobe could use some revamping too.

7. Go Green - I definitely want to start being a bit more eco-friendly. I don't see myself setting up a worm compost system in my basement or anything, but I'd like to start making some small changes here and there. I especially want to start switching some of our cleaning agents to more green options. I don't want my family exposed to a bunch of chemicals anymore.  We used cloth napkins for dinner one time.  I'm still hoping to make that a regular thing, but I keep forgeting!!  I've also switched laundry detergents from Tide to Seventh Generation.  I've used Tide my entire lift, so this was pretty big.  I wish I could say I did some research on Seventh Generation and made an informed choice, but I didn't.  It says "Natural" on the bottle, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm not sure exactly how much more "green" it is over Tide, but I have no complaints about it so far.  It cleans just as well as Tide, and the cost is about equal as well.

8. Learn to sew/crochet - I've been wanting to learn to both sew and crochet forever!! My mom gave me a brand new sewing maching like 3 or 4 years ago, and I've literally never even turned it on; crocheting just looks really fun to me. So, I'm hoping to add these new skills to my repetoire this year.  I had one crochet lesson!!  I took Madeleine to my sister's for a play date with my niece, and while they played my sister taught me some basics.  She showed me how to make a chain, single, and double stitches.  She also gave me some supplies and books to practice.  Unfortnately, I haven't picked it up again since that day, but I plan to this week.  My fingers were pretty awkward holding everything, but I think with a little practice I can probably get pretty good at crochet.

So, there you have it.  I'm plugging away at a few, and reminded myself of a few others.  Writing them down is definitely key.  I think the more you keep them on your radar the better chance you have of achieving them. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Babymoon...Sort Of

Bill and I just got back from a quick weekend in Arizona.  I actually had to go for work, and since we have good friends down there Bill decided to tag along.
I flew out Wednesday afternoon, and landed in Phoenix around 7:30pm.  I met my two best friends Dawn and Lauren (identical twins) for dinner at Four Peaks Brewery in Scottsdale.  I've known these gals since the 8th grade, so we pretty much took off just where we left off.  We joked that it felt like we were just getting together for dinner like we do it all the time even though we haven't seen each other since last May.
Thursday morning I headed to the office.  I mentioned here that my company merged with another company recently.  Well, the headquarters are now located in Scottsdale, AZ.  So, my boss and half my team are all located there.  This was the first time I got to meet most of them.  Everyone was really nice, and it helped to calm some of my nerves about my new job.  I'll probably have to go to down there every couple of months for the forseeable future as well, which is fine with me because I love it there and get to see my friends. 
Bill flew down Thursday, and met me at the hotel around 5:00pm.  That night we went out with my friends again, and Dawn's husband Jason joined us as well.  We went to Mia Francesca also in Scottsdale.  I had awesome ravioli with scallops.  It was delicious.
This is really the only picture we took all weekend.  Even the one above is from a previous trip.  We were too busy just hanging out I guess.
On Friday, it was back to work for me.  My new boss graciously gave Bill a ticket to the Phoenix Open that was going on in Scottsdale last weekend.  He got to hang out at the famous 16th hole for the day.  I'm glad too because I wasn't sure what he was going to do all day.  After work we met up with Dawn and Jason again.  Lauren headed out to San Francisco for the weekend to meet up with her boyfriend.  Dinner tonight was fancy pizza at Caio Gratzi followed by ice cream at Sweet Republic.  Again, excellent food.  We capped off the night hanging out at Dawn and Jason's house for a bit.
Saturday we packed up and checked out of our hotel.  Bill and I decided to go for a drive and check out the area a bit.  We headed South and drove through Mesa and Gilbert a bit just taking it all in.  Lauren texted us that morning to let us know she got engaged!!  Her boyfriend in San Francisco surprised her with a trip to Napa and then proposed.  After our little jaunt we headed back North to meet Dawn and Jason for lunch at True Food Kitchen.  Dawn and Jason are super healthy eaters...seriously they do things like substitute broccoli for french fries.  This restaurant was super healthy.  We ordered vegetable crudite as an appetizer.  I don't think I've ever done that in my life, but it was good.  I had the turkey lasagna for lunch, and it was also really yummy (I'm running out of adjectives to describe good food!!).  After lunch we drove around and then ended up back at their house again.  We watched the premier of that new show The Americans starring Kerri Russel.  We all thought it was really interesting, I'm going to watch again.  For dinner we went to Tom's Thumb Fresh Market (and gas station??) for barbeque.  It was an odd little place, but the pulled pork was fantastic.  We topped it off with fruit cobblers for dessert too.  After dinner we watched American Reunion before calling it a night.
Sunday we weren't there for long.  I made eggs for Dawn and I, and she made fresh squeezed orange juice from oranges a friend of hers grew in their yard.  We headed to the airport around 10am and were back home in Milwaukee by 5pm.  It was a fun little trip.  We didn't do too much, but we sure ate a lot!!!  We were both so excited to see Madeleine though...we sure missed her.  My flying days are numbered, so I think this is the last trip for us until the baby comes.  Only 8 1/2 weeks left!!