Archive for January, 2012

  • ANTM

    Date: 2012.01.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Sarah | Response: 16

    Look who has learned to find the light, push her competitor out of the way, show off her dimples, showcase the product AND smeyes. Tyra would be so proud.

  • Chop!

    Date: 2012.01.25 | Category: Family, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Sarah, Style, Travel | Response: 16

    I chopped my hair off and I love it. I can fix it so much faster and am no longer tempted to throw it in a pony tail every morning. I feel more grown up and put together, which goes right along with my goals of embracing myself.

    My hair minus six inches or so.

    Other resolution updates:

    1. The reading is going swimmingly. I’m on Book 3 from the Game of Thrones series. These books are fantastic, but I swear I have hit a point (or two or three) in each volume where I got so mad at the writer for what he puts his characters through that I’ve been tempted to put them down and take a break. But then I keep reading and I’m so glad that I do.

    2. The travel. I’ve planned a big trip this summer to visit my friend Tammy in Indianapolis and Cassie in Pittsburgh. There is also a possible trip to Florida in the works. Yay and Yay!

    3. Home beautifying. We are getting ready to get a desk for my awesome new iMac and shift things around drastically. We’re grown ups with a baby, time to (mostly) retire the tv trays and let Sarah sit at the dinner table with us.

    Progress!

  • Sip and See

    Date: 2012.01.23 | Category: Baby, Food, Friends, Home, OMG YAY! | Response: 20

    Way back forever ago in December I helped hostess a Sip and See for my friend Angela. She wanted her 3-year-old to be a big part of the festivities, so the theme was “Two Princesses in the Castle.” And with the help of Angela’s friend Heather and some ideas from Pinterest, we pulled together a fun little party.

    I was rather proud of our decorations and all the yummy goodies we put together.

    The invitations.

    I designed these in Adobe InDesign and printed them on invitation stock from Hobby Lobby.

    The banner.

    I made this with the help of a printer, some ribbon and pink cardstock from Hobby Lobby.

    The spread.

    The food was delicious and almost all made from scratch by Heather (though I did manage to contribute some chocolate chip cookies). The table cloth came from Oriental Trading Company. I made the food tags to match the banner.

    I was particularly in love with this punch/ducky idea from Pinterest. The princess duckies came from Oriental Trading Company.

    There was a hot chocolate bar courtesy of Heather!

    There was a picture frame of photos I took of the girls, along with princess favor bags for all the kids (big and small) who came.

    There were crowns for all the princesses present, including Miss Mia. (Also courtesy of OTC).

    And Susan (holding honoree Baby Evelyn).

    And beautiful mama Angela with her friends Randa and Gillian.

    I think little Miss Evelyn loved all the attention, and was only slightly disappointed when we didn’t load her bottle up with hot chocolate.

    It was a great party and I’m so happy I got to be a part of it!

  • Rough Week

    Date: 2012.01.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Photography, Sarah | Response: 17

    You guys it’s been a rough week and I’m exhausted.

    Mark’s grandmother passed away. Sarah has the beginning stages of pneumonia and fever with the most horrible cough that’s keeping all three of us up all hours of the night. I had to miss the funeral to stay home with our sick baby girl. It was deadline week for the magazine. We went to the doctor twice. I was in and out of the workplace like a ghost despite said deadline. There was a lot of grieving and even more anxiety.

    Good news is that we found the pneumonia early and started medicine.  Also good news is that it’s finally the end of this long week.

    Needless to say I’m not up for writing much this week, but I did want to share some photos with you that make me happy.

    My Aunt Amy is a photographer based out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She still photographs with film and hand prints every picture in her dark room. She is super talented and has been taking and printing photos for well over 20 years. As a baby gift she did photos of our family at Thanksgiving. She took so many amazing photos, but here are two that she’s posted online for me to share. I can’t wait to hang them up in my home. We have one more gorgeous print coming of just Sarah too.

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    I hope this weekend gets better for us and that you have a wonderful one as well.

  • Farewell to a Great Lady

    Date: 2012.01.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, Mark, Nostalgia, Style | Response: 20

    Saturday evening we got the phone call that Mark’s grandmother had passed away. It was sort of expected and sort of not. When we visited her New Year’s Day, she was doing better than she had in months. She remembered things, laughed, ate cupcakes and delighted in playing with Sarah. So we were a little shocked when we got the phone call.

    It’s hard for me to reflect on her life, because I’ve only known her the past 8 out of 88 or so years of her life, but I do know she meant the world to Mark. So much so that our daughter is named after her.

    Grandmother and Mark in 2007.

    Personally, I was always struck by her kindness and stubbornness. She immediately adopted me into the large Italian family, but sternly told me that I better take care of her grandson. She always had a smile and a laugh and insisted people did too much for her. She shared many a Christmas Eve with us and constantly asked when Mark and I were going to have a baby. And when we did have Sarah, despite her despair over her recent strokes and trouble speaking, she always lit up as soon as she saw our little girl. She would hold her, smile, play peek-a-boo and laugh at Sarah’s constant mobility and babbling.  And the woman could make some mean spaghetti and meatballs and never failed to bring them to a Thanksgiving feast.

    Visiting with me on our wedding reception in 2007.

    Mark loves to reflect on his experiences with his grandmother. Last night he told me about the train set she bought especially for him and his sister to keep at her house (and that’s saying something considering she had over 30 grandchildren and even more great grandchildren). He told me about how they would play ambulance and he and his grandmother would cart his sister around on a board like it was a stretcher. His grandmother loved to talk about how Mark was as a baby, kicking his legs when it was time to eat (something Sarah does now). To say he loves her fiercely is no understatement.

    Tomorrow we will bid our final farewell to her at her funeral. The giant families of her seven children will come together. I imagine it will be a very difficult experience, but good all the same.

    I’m sad that I didn’t get to know her longer, but thankful that I was a part of her life, even if it was a short time. I’m even more thankful for the giant, positive impact she had on my husband and all the joy she brought to him in his 35 years of life. And I’m glad she got to meet her great granddaughter, her namesake, and delight in her at the end of her life. I know Sarah won’t remember her, but I’m glad we have the photos, the videos and the experiences to share with her when she’s older. We’re proud to have our little girl named after such a great lady.

    Sarah, Mark and Grandmother at her house in September.

  • Murakami

    Date: 2012.01.14 | Category: Books | Response: 11

    Part of my New Years resolution to do more things that make me, “me” includes an intense consumption of books.

    One of my favorite authors is the super weird and talented Haruki Murakami.(I promise I liked him even before 1Q84 made the top 20 must read list of 2011). At any rate while I was researching some of his books to read, I stumbled upon this Haruki Murakami Book Reading Challenge and decided to take it up. My goal is to read three of his books this year. I feel the need to space them out because they are mind bendingly weird and my brain needs a break between volumes.

    For some reason every Murakami I’ve “read” thus far has been an audiobook. Something about listening to his stories with various voices tends to draw me in. So when I learned I would be on the road for work quite a bit last week, I downloaded one of his shorter titles, After Dark.

    This morning I was trying to think of how to explain the plot and in my head it went something like this:

    Boy recognizes girl at Denny’s from a double date he went on with her and her gorgeous sister several years ago. Somehow boy gets girl involved with translating for a beat up Chinese prostitute at a love hotel managed by a giant woman who used to be a wrestler. Man who beat girl up works nights at a computer company that somehow is connected to the girl’s beautiful sister who goes to sleep for many weeks and gets sucked into a room inside a television screen. Also, there are cats, but there are always cats in Murakami’s books.

    See what I mean about weird?

    Overall, the story was interesting, though compared to some of his other epic novels, the ending was a bit disappointing. One of my favorite aspects about his books is this constant sense of mystery. Something weird is going on, something otherworldly and you wonder about it the whole book. This time it was the sleeping sister’s story and the t.v., but that plot line was never really resolved.

    As per his other volumes, there were great characters in this story. I particularly liked the love hotel manager and the main character, Mari. There are also several interesting sinister characters who have something disturbingly wrong with them. Despite the unsatisfying ending, the story kept me interested until the end.

    Over all, 3 stars out of 5.

    I’ve heard this book is kind of a precursor to 1Q84, so I’m glad that I read it. I will most likely listen to that book next for this particular challenge.

    Are you familiar with Murakami? What have you read and what would you recommend?

  • 9 Months

    Date: 2012.01.12 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Life, Sarah | Response: 19

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    I have to admit these photo sessions are getting tougher and tougher and Sarah gets more and more mobile. Getting her to stay still is so difficult. Which is why we finally caved and gave her a book to hold so she would sit still long enough for a decent photo… even if it meant her tongue was sticking out (which I love).

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    This past month Sarah has absolutely fallen in love with books. There is something about turning the pages over and over and over that will put her in a trance. Speaking of, she has also become a pro at entertaining herself. She crawls off into her wonderland of books and toys and has fun all by herself, that is until mom and dad sit down for dinner. At which point she tosses everything away and makes a bee line for our plates.

    Sarah is now old enough to feed herself cut up table food. Since she’s started eating it this month, she staunchly refuses to eat most baby foods now, though we still have success with fruit and yogart. She has loved every table food we’ve given her, including sweet potatoes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, avocado and even tilapia!

    Helping her eat all that baby food are her top two teeth which popped in around Christmas, giving her four working chompers now.

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    She has also mastered the sippy cup and straw and thinks water is just about the best thing ever.

    This past month Sarah also mastered the fine art of crawling on to and out of everything. Put her in a highchair? She will be out of it in less than two minutes, wiggling those wiry little legs out the the holes and standing up in the high chair. This means we have to lock her down the best we can and stand guard at all times.

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    She also started walking while holding on to things this past month. She literally runs around the coffee table while holding on to it, or while hanging onto her Christmas dino. She can stand on her own, but if she realizes she’s doing it, she slowly squats to the ground where she feels safe.

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    She also now randomly laughs at things, not just when we’re trying to make her laugh. All kinds of strange things get her to giggling, including a fluorescent stuffed cat she saw a Build-A-Bear the other day.

    Another thing she’s started doing is rubbing her face on soft things. If I leave a blanket on the floor, she’ll crawl over to it, lay her face in it and rub and rub it. She does the same thing with soft toys like her teddy bear and her little lamb.

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    In the past month she’s also figured out how fun it is to smash things together to make noises and can paddy cake when prompted.

    Speaking of noises, she lets out a cackle whenever she sees the cats. She thinks they are hilarious!

    But perhaps most exciting of all, she can put herself to sleep now. I was nursing her to sleep forever, but after a couple of weeks of going to bed awake and crying, she’s learned to go to bed awake, entertain herself for a bit and then fall asleep. Such a huge relief!

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    I am so proud of our beautiful, growing girl and I am still constantly amazed at everything she does.

  • Louisiana Pride

    Date: 2012.01.09 | Category: Family, Food, Holidays, Home, Travel | Response: 14

    I didn’t always love where I live. Growing up I was frustrated because there wasn’t much to “do” in northwest Louisiana. Though looking back, I was sort of an idiot because there was plenty to do. I spent a lot of time playing outside, watching one of my braver girlfriends catch crawfish in muddy, clay filled ditches. An experience unique to our state for sure.

    But as I’ve grown up (and our city has grown up), I find that there is more and more to love about living here.

    For one, there’s Mardi Gras. Now we’re not in New Orleans, so it’s not a naked gunshot fest (usually), but it’s fun. For people who have never been to Mardi Gras in our corner of the state, I liken it to a giant tailgating party that starts at 5:00 a.m. and lasts until 7:00 p.m. or so. You can walk up to buildings and purchase daiquiris, or just bring your own supply of booze for a day full of public drunkenness. But there are also family sections with no alcohol allowed. Plus the parades are a lot of fun and we always get loaded down with beads, cups and even the occasional inflatable sword or basketball. Plus there’s king cake!

    The actual Mardi Gras season starts the day after Epiphany. At that time Christmas decorations come down and Mardi Gras decorations go up. Some leave their Christmas trees up and swap out Christmas décor for Mardi Gras décor. Personally I just put out a wreath and a flag.

    My wreath!

    This past weekend I felt particularly happy about living in Louisiana. After walking around our neighborhood in the 70 degree January weather and looking at Mardi Gras decorations, we went to my parents for an amazingly spicy and yummy dinner of crawfish etoufee and a fantastic Saints game.

    At that moment, surrounded by Mardi Gras, a crawfish dish and the Saints, I fully appreciated what a unique place I live in. We’re not New Orleans, but we know how to have fun Louisiana style. And the Saints won to boot!

    Tonight is the BCS championship game. LSU is playing Alabama in New Orleans and everyone here has lost their minds. The LSU decorations and clothing are everywhere today, and if anyone even mentions supporting Bama, yelling erupts. We may be five hours away, but we support our Tigers dangit.

    It’s a unique place to live, and while it sucks when it’s 107 outside, for the most part I really do love this place. If you ever make it down this way, let me know and I’ll treat you to some amazing seafood and a drive-thru daiquiri. And if you come during Mardi Gras, I’ll serve you up some king cake and take you to a parade.

  • Embracing Me

    Date: 2012.01.03 | Category: Books, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Sarah, Travel | Response: 23

    I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions. I have enough to worry about without that added pressure. But I was participating in this marketing project a few weeks ago and had to name some resolutions. After thinking about it for a bit, I decided on one very important one: Make more time for myself.

    It’s so easy to fall into the permanent role of “mom.” And being a mom is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But it’s a part of who I am, not all of who I am.

    I’ve had a very difficult time figuring that out and what it means since having Sarah. She needs so much from me and I willingly give it, but what about the other things I’ve put on the backburner?

    Now that I no longer have a newborn, I’m going to make time for those things. After all, reading is one of the few things that pulled me through the baby blues.

    So this year I resolve to:

    1. Keep up my reading pace. Books have always been good for my mind and my spirit and help me relax and escape.

    2. Do “grown up” things. Yesterday my mom watched Sarah while my sister in law and I went and saw an R-rated movie. It was fantastic.

    3. Travel. I really miss going places and now that Sarah is older, she can go with us. We can share that experience with her and how much fun it can be. We already have two trips planned for this year. I’m excited about hitting the road and taking to the air again.

    4. Take care of myself. I haven’t had my hair cut since before I had Sarah nearly a year ago. And while my husband loves my long hair, it at least needs a trim. I haven’t bothered to paint my nails and don’t wear my hair down enough either (at least to work, no way I’m wearing it down with baby hair yanker around).

    5. Get back on beautifying our home. It still needs work and we have re-organization and decorating plans. We’re excited about setting up my office space at home. Having a separate office space on my iMac for work instead of bringing my laptop into the family space has been good for my work and personal psyche.

    6. Spend time with my husband. The baby is sleeping through the night now, it’s ok to stay up later and hang out with my spouse and I look forward to it.

    7. Return to my exercise regimen. I have an awesome jogging stroller and it’s relatively mild outside (thank you Louisiana!) Now that the days are starting to get longer again, we can hit the pavement and feel better. We’ve already started, and while I’m a bit footsore, I feel so much better.

    I know I can’t do all of these things all of the time, but as long as I regularly take time to do things I love and take care of my family, I know I’ll be happier and healthier.

    What helps you feel more like “you”?