Friday, December 28, 2012

INTRODUCING: The Mommy Chronicles

Ok chickadees!!

I was BRUTALLY honest about my fears and reservations with being a "Failing Mom" a few weeks ago. As it turns out, I am not alone. You can read ALLLLL about that here.

After the GREAT response I got from TONS of readers (you guys are freaking AMAZING), I decided that every friday, I am going to ask a guest Momma to get her honesty on and help other moms connect and share. I have a feeling this is going to be therapeutic and eye opening for a lot of people.

The goal is for everyone to know that they aren't alone, have some laughs, and share their own stories/get feedback. If you are a parent, you'll relate to this. If you don't have kids yet (or maybe just furry babies) you can laugh, cry, or use this as a tool to help you decide what you want to do with your kids if you decide to have them.

I am asking people to fill out a questionnaire and send it back to me. It can be COMPLETELY anonymous or you can let people know who you are. Let me know if you are interested in being a guest blogger!! You can email me or message me on facebook. Some of you have already been contacted...


(drum roll please)

FIRST UP!! My lovely friend Katie. She has 2 kiddos under that are 15 months apart. She is hilarious and wonderful and amazing. She writes Way off Base. It's hilarious.

Are you a home engineer (SAHM) or do you work?

I prefer the fancier sounding, Domestic Engineer, but yes my job is to stay home with the kiddos

Why is that the best choice for your family?

Lots of reasons. I had working parents when all my friends growing up had SAHMs and I felt like I missed out on a lot because my parents weren't there. So I always said if my family could afford it, I'd like to stay at home. Then as the specifics of my future and family played out, it's really a necessity. My husband works shifts in the Air Force putting him gone strange hours, and my career field of choice is Theatre Management, which also lends itself to a lot of nights & weekends. Even if I could find a job I love, it's not really standard day care hours. This assignment is probably the last perfect one to purse my MFA (Masters of Fine Arts), given the abundance of shows in Sin City, so we've been discussing hiring a nanny so I can go back to school.

What is your favorite thing to do with your kiddo(s)?

Tough to answer this when we're all getting over sickness & the holiday craziness, haha. My kids are both young (2 under 2 because I swear I'm part rabbit) so there's still not much to do that sounds super fun; we don't have crafts time or they're not yet helping me bake cookies. But, I think my favorite thing is reading or doing learning activities that don't feel like learning. Looking at pictures of animals and having my 18-month old tell me what sounds they make puts me in a really happy mood.

What do you love about it? What do you hate about it? (being at home or working)

I love that I'm home for everything. Kids are hilarious and adorable. There are so many moments throughout the day that make me laugh or feel really lucky that I was around to see it. And they're not big moments, because half the time I don't even remember to relay them to my husband. It's stupid stuff like the first time my daughter threw all her foam letters in the air, put her hands to her cheeks and exclaimed, "oh no!" Those aren't the moments you catch on camera, or put in holiday newsletters. But I'm glad I'm the one who gets to watch it.

I hate that I'm home for everything. Kids are whiny, needy little creatures. They don't have intelligent discussions. They can't even wipe their own asses. There are lots of days when I wish I were leaving to have adult interactions. That someone would say to me, "Could you please bring me that?" instead of "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. MOMMY! Milk." Plus, I feel a lot of pressure being their only influence and teacher. If they're not prepared for school, well it's on me because it's not like I can say 'oh well the nanny didn't read to them enough' or something. It mostly kills me see how big they get so fast, but there is a part of me relieved for school time so I can finally be not solely responsible for their knowledge & upbringing.

If you are a stay at home mom, what do you do for "you" time? What do you do to recharge (since really, you work full time)? How do you get adult time?

I'm good at recognizing that dishes can wait and laundry doesn't need to be folded immediately when the buzzer goes off. If I get a rare moment when their naps line up, I generally don't feel guilty about sitting down with my TiVo or a book. I'm also pretty good about telling my husband what's what when he's at home. It's taken a couple discussions to hit the point home that yes when he comes home from work he wants a chance to recharge, but so do I. When he has a particularly bad day at work he gets to leave his job. I don't have that luxury, so sometimes he needs to come home and take over for a while. For the most part we split duties until they go to bed and then we take our time however we need it - often it's together, but sometimes it's just going to do our own things.

One thing we're not good at here is date nights. We need to get a regular sitter or two so we can see movies and eat at restaurants without a kids menu. Attention Vegas area teens - as long as you can drive yourself here & home we pay really well! :)

Are you worried (in any way) that your choice (no matter what it is) might affect your child? In what way? Lay out your fears...

Absolutely. I think that there's a worry section of your brain that goes into hyperdrive when you have a child. Maybe it's just me. I've touched on some of these issues in my earlier answers, but I'll try and bullet point everything in my mind right now:

I worry that they won't be socially well-adjusted because they see me & each other 90% of the time. A childcare environment could give them daily social interaction.

I worry that my daughter will grow up to lose respect for me not having a career or grow up thinking that she can't do whatever she wants because she didn't have a role model in that aspect.

I worry that I'm not giving them everything they need. That I'm not smart enough or creative enough or dedicated enough to be mother, disciplinarian, and teacher.

But I would be having just as much worry if I did the opposite. I have anxiety issues, and have had them since long before I had kids, so it's not new territory, just different material my brain uses to torture me. I think all parents live in some constant state of worry, even if it's barely there, because you made a person. You want that person to be a happy, healthy member of society. And there are about a billion choices along the way that you have to make - rolling the dice and hoping you're doing it right.

If you could have a day away from your kids, where you could do anything, what would it be and where would you go?

Is this like magic, don't think about travel considerations or cost? Because I need a beach. A fancy resort where sexy, shirtless pool boys make sure my glass is never empty and I lay in a floating bed in a cabana reading & listening to the sounds of the ocean. And probably spend a few hours in the resort spa getting massages and other such pampering.

What is the most embarrassing thing you have ever done as a mom/what have your kids done to embarrass you?

My life is an embarrassment. I kid, I kid. I'm not sure what I've done as a mom. I'm sure there's tons stuff I just can't think of it. I generally shake it off and forget things unless they are truly mortifying. I have a story from 6th grade that I can't get out of my brain no matter how hard I try. With children my public attitude is kind of like 'well this is parenting, they're going to be crazy and I'm going to be crazy because of it'. Same goes for them embarrassing me. The only time I'm embarrassed is when my toddler is throwing tantrums in public. You never know who is going to side with your ignore it philosophy or who's judging you.

I guess there was the time in New Mexico when she was biting, and she bit Avery. We weren't really friends yet, just the only playdate option and I was afraid you'd be really mad or tell everyone I was a horrible mom.

What does your husband/family do to support you? What do you wish he would do (wish upon a star my can be anything)?

My husband is a pretty good support. He's not a good as I'd like him to be, of course, haha. It takes a lot of asking/reminders to get him to pitch in sometimes. Which I hate because then I feel like the cliche naggy wife, but he's usually awesome at doing it once he's asked. No arguments, no big sighs, no "fine"s. Just "sure, baby". And he's great at stepping up when I'm sick or am really really obviously at my breaking point. So even though he's good, I wish that he'd just think a few steps ahead and do things before I have to ask him. He always notices & appreciates when I do it for him, but he just can't get himself to think that way I guess.

I also wish he would invent something so we can be super rich and I can get weekly massages or hire a cleaning service for all the floors, countertops, appliances, etc. I've been asking him to for years, but it just doesn't seem like a priority ;).

As far as family goes, I wish they were here more often. I know that's not fair because they all have jobs and lives and we can't go visit them very often so why should I expect them to come here? It's not their fault, but I wish we saw them more. I wish we were like a lot of our friends from college/high school who drop their kid(s) off at the grandparents for a weekend every now and then and just be. What I would give for a pants-free, sleep-full weekend in my own home.

In regards to the stay at home mom vs. working mom debate, why do you think there is so much controversy? Be brutally honest.

I think it's mostly because of insecurity. It is a difficult and very personal choice. And everyone wants to feel that they're doing the right thing. Instead of supporting each other, though, I think we tear each other down to feel better about our own choices. So stereotypes get made about lazy women who live off their husbands and stay at home eating bonbons (I really really HATE the bonbon comments) while they plop their kids in front of the TV. Harsh words are said about working women not caring enough to be there for their kids when they most need it.

I think it's wrestling with a history of patriarchy and the feminist fight for us to "have it all". But we can't. We are mothers who want perfection for our families and human beings, who fail at it. We want to be a successful, independent, powerful role model AND we want to be the classroom mom who goes to the park and makes all the cupcakes and never ever misses a moment. But unless you're mainlining Adderall that's not going to happen.

Thanks for letting me be a part of your guest blogger mommy-interviews. I hope your readers enjoyed my responses. I tried to be real, truthful & a little funny. If you're a parent who wants to give your take on this questions, leave a comment. I'm sure Natalie would love to have you :).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Making Freezer Crock Pot Meals

I think this is a common emotion that many people feel when it comes to the execution of projects, recipes, or home decor on pinterest:

I have really really been trying to have more execution of pins. On days that Troy and I both work all day, we have this conversation around 430 or 5 when we both get home.

Natalie: What do you want to do for dinner?

Troy: I dunno. Whatever you want.

Natalie: You're cooking if you don't tell me what you want me to make.

Troy: Uh, chicken something.

Natalie: We had chicken last night.

Troy: Okay well don't ask me what I want for dinner and then shoot me down when I tell you.

Natalie: Frozen pizza?

Troy: Okay.

And then we high five the lazy.

To stop the frozen pizza cycle, I started searching for some crock pot recipes on pinterest. Then I found this one. 8 meals. MAJOR win.

I made a list of things that we needed and the meat was definitely the most expensive part. I needed 8 chicken breasts, 3 lbs of beef stew, and 2 lbs of ground beef. I got everything from Costco and probably spent about 25 dollars just on meat. Most of the other stuff was stuff we had on had already (potatoes, onions, and carrots). If you click on the link, it has the recipes I used and also a whole list of grocery items.

It took me about 1.5 hours (during Avery's nap and Troy's homework time) to do all the prep and cooking required for these meals. There are 8 bags and 4 different recipes with 2 bags of each recipe.

Here is the beef stew and the teriyaki chicken up close. I wrote ON the bag if there are any additional instructions (add water, serve over rice/egg noodles, cooking time, etc) for each recipe.

This is the BBQ chicken and beef goulash.

Troy stacked up 4 in the freezer outside and we stacked the other 4 inside. There are only 3 bags in the picture because we decided to have the bbq chicken recipe for an early dinner the next day and wanted it thawed, so that one is in the fridge.

And here is the BBQ chicken cooked and served up hot. It was delicious. Highly recommend so far. Happy cooking.

We had the beef goulash yesterday for brunch with egg noodles. DELICIOUS! I liked it better than the BBQ chicken. YUM.

PS. The author of the original pin (the website with the recipes above) suggested some changes to the recipes that were a little bland. I did the additional ingredients she suggested to give them a little oomph. So far so good. I'm all about easy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Morning at the Barnes House!

When we woke up Christmas morning (Avery slept until 8:30!!) we came downstairs to find that Santa came for a visit. Santa doesn't wrap Christmas gifts at our house, so he had left everything down in the living room on the sofa!

He enjoyed the cookies and milk:

The tree was trimmed and surrounded with presents :)

Here is the activity cube that the elves snagged and a bunch of stuffed farm animals. Santa (Troy) felt it was necessary to set up the mommas and babies in a "natural" state. Aka eating/nursing. Which I thought was HILARIOUS:

And here is Avery playing with her presents from Santa. I promise she was super excited. This was the only picture where she wasn't moving with super human speed, blurring up the camera.

And here is Avery playing with her kitchen for the first time!!! She LOVES IT! We let her play for about 30 minutes until we ripped her away to open gifts from under the tree.

I helped her put on the hat and apron and she was ADORABLE! She was intensely concentrating. I couldn't take it. SO cute. Look at her cooking mommy a breakfast souffle:

Here is a video of her playing:

We finally dragged her to the front room to open presents from family that arrived in the mail. Here's what we all made out with:

Some of Troy's include (you can see most of it in the picture):

1. A box of 3 Dremel tools
2. A HUGE bottle of ranch (OMG Dick and Emily...DYING laughing)
3. The new Ken Follett book
4. 2 Dave Ramsey books
5. Remote control helicopter
6. Season 1 of Duck Dynasty
7. Clothes (northface fleece, a running top, and 2 casual button downs)
8. Random fun (Chick-fil-a gift card, tervis cup, catch phrase)

Natalie's summary of gifts include

1. Random clothing articles (pajamas, a homemade scarf, a couple shirts)
2. 2 puzzles
3. 2 DVDs (Pitch Perfect and Dexter Season 6)
4. Giant 31 Barnes embroidered bag for organizing things
5. Gift cards (Amazon, VISA)
6. Various doo-dads (pocket calendar, cards, decorative wine corks)

AVERY CLEANED UP! I could not believe how generous our family and friends were.

1. A homemade sock elephant and hanging letter "A" to match her nursery
2. Red Riding Hood puppets and book
4. New floating bath toys that make fountains

5. Doug and Melissa toys...TONS - 4 puzzles and stacking blocks...LOVE WOODEN TOYS
6. A bouncing Benny. Avery is in love with this toy right now:

7. A dancing and singing Santa. We actually had to hide this in the next room so that we could continue opening gifts. She played with it for about 10 minutes before we took it away:

8. She got A TON of clothes. 2T and 3T clothes. Major win for Mommy. And her bank account. Troy's grandma pretty much cleaned up here. Ask and you shall recieve :)

9. Aunt Taylor got Avery a dress up box. She came to visit about a week ago and got the box and started filling it with TONS of dress up things. A feather boa, princess outfit, 2 purses, 2 hats, some shades, fairy wings, etc. Avery LOVES it. She is super into hats and necklaces right now.

We had a WONDERFUL Christmas and we are so grateful to everyone who spent time and money buying/mailing things. We love you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

DIY Play Kitchen Part 4: The Reveal

Here is the planning of the kitchen.

Here are some decor decisions for the kitchen.

Here is the cutting and painting of the kitchen.

And here we finally the big reveal!! And Troy and I could not be more proud!!!

We hung the art from part 2 to cover the hole in the back of the cabinet. There is a $1.99 towel bar from Ikea with S-rings for hanging utensils, pots and pans, and hot mitts on. We got 2 tap light from Lowes (one for over her head and the other for inside the oven). And there is a basket under the sink to contain the crazy from Target. With all of the food components, it was starting to get a little crazy.

Here is a little close up shot of the stove top and sink.

This is a close up of the bottom of the cabinets, the plexiglass installed (gorilla glue on the back), and the knobs...AHHHHH!

Here is a little bit different angle. Can you tell we're proud? It was definitely a group effort by Mom and Dad...ahem, Santa and his elves ;)

I would like to thank:

1. Laura, for picking up most of the kitchen food from Ikea
2. My dad for helping Troy with the manual labor portion
3. Wendy for getting the pots and pans that were sold out when Laura went to Ikea
4. And Troy for letting me purse some bigger projects lately :)

Without you all, this may not have happened and you all had a hand in this great gift for Avery and she loves it!!! I am writing this post on Christmas Day while she naps :) I just couldn't wait to share!!!

love you all and Merry Merry Christmas!!!

I'll be back tomorrow with Avery's Christmas and a round up of gifts for Troy and myself! I have videos....

Monday, December 24, 2012

DIY Play Kitchen Part 3: Drilling, Cutting, Painting

You can read about the planning here.

You can read about the decor here.

Since then, my Dad has come for another visit and the hole for the sink was cut. The hinge for the oven was switched from the side to the bottom. The hole for the plexiglass piece for the oven was also cut and sanded. The wooden trim was added to the top to cover the weird mounting brackets.

Progress here:

All of the holes have been caulked. All of the holes that are needed (for dials and handles) are drilled. And ready for paint.

I picked a can of white semi-gloss paint and primer in one that cost $7. Laziness people. I'm not painting twice. I picked semi gloss even though I did a coat of clear on the top. The semi gloss is nice and shiny and very easy to clean. It's the kind of paint used for trim in houses (you know where fingerprints are). I picked a tester can for the color for the "countertops" and then to paint the trim at the top for $2.95. I already had brushes and the clear finish from other projects.

It's a little yellow-y because the garage light is kind of orange.

Here is an up close of the oven door (that got the most work) with the caulked holes painted over, the pre-drilled holes for hardware and oven dials, and the window cut for plexiglass.

And here she is from a different angle. We are planning to put together all of the details seeing as Christmas is tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Made in China

So about a week ago, Troy walked with Optimus down to the mailbox and came back with this gem.

Troy: What is this?

Natalie: What is it?

Troy: Did you order small pox from China?

Natalie: What? NO. Gimme that!

(Opens package while Troy picks up Avery and covers her eyes as if whatever is in there will explode and pour acid into her eyes)

Troy: Well, what is it? It better not be a Christmas present for me. I don't want nothing from China.

Natalie: Are you kidding me right now? I bid on it on ebay and got it for a DOLLAR. I mean the shipping was 8.99, but that's still cheaper than I could have bought it for in the US.

Troy: That doesn't change the fact that it was probably made by a 2 year old in a sweat shop for a penny a day.

Natalie: Well if the US could make such nice things for this price I'd buy it from them instead.

And then I looped the necklace over Avery's head to annoy him.

So look at THIS one from J.Crew. FOR 150$$$$ - WHAT!?!?!

Bubble Necklaces are all the rage on pinterest right now.

Evidence here:

So here is my identical one. OH WAIT. Troy was protesting my support of China and covered it up for a few shots.

Here it is for real. Doesn't it look EXACTLY like the 150$ one from J. Crew?? Except mine is MORE awesome because I only paid 10$.

I LURVE IT! Merry Christmas to me. You can see that Avery likes it too. Her hand is all outstretched like "gimme gimme, let me touch, I lurve it!"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Best Goodwill Find to Date...

I found this guy at Goodwill while my sister was visiting. FOR 5 DOLLARS!!!

Isn't it a beautiful beautiful toy?!?!? I love that it's wooden. It was a hot mess when I snagged it off that concrete floor...But here she is all clean.

I took some serious Clorox wipes to it. Like half of a container. For real. So Avery is going to have a blasty blast with it. I figure Santa's workshop makes wooden toys (mostly) so this fits right in with the wooden toy theme we have going this year for Avery's gifts.

Wooden play kitchen?? CHECK!

Wooden activity cube?? CHECK!

It makes my OT heart so happy with all of the cognitive, gross, and fine motor things for her fat little hands. The top has the bead wiring and little tracks that you move animals through.

One side has 4 little doors that open and show an animal and the word. One side has these knobs that slide up and down through these long tracks. One side has all of the letters on little blocks and then they spin and have a picture of a word/animal that starts with the corresponding letter. The last side has blocks that spin on axels shaped like triangles that match up (top and bottom) to make an animal.

I cannot tell you how excited I was about this find. Truth be told, I AM A TERRIBLE SANTA! I already let Avery play with it. And then Troy saw us playing and we stashed it in the guest room when she wasn't looking...too bad she knows how to open the door and still plays with it when Troy isn't home...MUAHAHAHAHAHA. Seriously though...I'm the worst Santa ever. Hopefully she won't remember this next year and be all "SANTA ISN'T REAL" when she's 2 years old. Bad mommy points right there.

I retails on Amazon for $89.99. HELLO!

It retails at Target for $62.39. I think we can all agree that I got a great deal. WAHOOOOO

PS. After Christmas, we'll do a full gift round up of things that we got for her for curious minds.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Do You Think Joseph Would be on Maury? And Mary Would be Grumpy?

I have a friend who is due with her 2nd child any day now. Send her labor thoughts ASAP. She is feeling particularly ready to be done being pregnant. She sent me this text and I was DYING laughing.

Funny as that is, it really got me thinking about Christmas. Mary must have been so scared. And cold. She was so brave. And poor Joseph. Can you imagine if a story like this had happened now? It is a story worthy of being on Maury where they do all of the the paternity tests. If this happened now and a young girl said that she was pregnant with the Son of God, she would get put away in a looney bin. And I don't think that Joseph would have believed her. Lets be real here. He would have left her so fast for being a cheater. He would be on 20/20 trying to make a buck on Mary's crazy story.

I feel like Mary and Jesus are always the focus of the Christmas Story. And to be honest, they should be. However. In light of my friend's text message, it got me thinking about Joseph. And what a good man he was. And this just WOULD NOT happen now. Everything happens for a reason and it's a good thing that Jesus was born over 2000 years ago, because if this happened in 2012, things would have turned out pretty different...

Luckily though, this happened thousands of years ago and Joseph was obedient to God and his will. What a HUGE leap of faith for him. I can't even imagine how that would feel to be Joseph in this incredible situation. But he was obedient to the Lord's plan for his life and stuck by Mary. And they had a baby in a barn. Well, a manger, but a barn. And now we have the miracle of the birth of Jesus and get to celebrate his birthday every year on Christmas Day.

Perspective. Merry Christmas Friends.

Sending happy labor and baby thoughts your way my friend...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Cards a la Pinterest

So this year I decided our family needed to send out Christmas cards. I have always been anti Christmas cards. Why? I have no idea. I think the internet has made it easier to reason NOT sending them. I'm like, "why? If people want to see pictures of us, they can facebook me." Welllllll, the problem with that is, some of Troy's and my immediate family don't even have computers, internet, or smart phones.

And now we have a child and we moved. And truth be told, I LOVE LOVE LOVE getting Christmas cards. LOVE. So what is my problem? Well, I finally admitted it to myself. I'm lazy. All that addressing cards and UGH stamps are expensive. But if I didn't send them out early, we might not get any from people who normally send them to us who don't know our new address. And I want cards too! It makes my heart smile. Or sing carols. And I want our grandparents to hear from us.

I wanted to do something cute and inexpensive (not pay a photographer). I started in the easiest place...Pinterest. Here are a few of the ideas that I found.

Option 1:

I just adore everything about this picture. Avery and Optimus would be ADORABLE. But we have extended family who got some of these cards who have never met Avery in person and if Troy and I weren't in the picture, they might open the card and be like, "huh? Who are these people?" And also I would have to buy all of the cute costume things for Avery and Optimus to wear. Troy is also SUPER anti dressing up dogs in any kind of clothing. So that option (as much as I love it) was out.

Option 2:

I think this is precious. But I was like, there is NO way that Avery and Optimus will sit still long enough for this to happen. Troy and I will both have super forced smiles and it will just be bad...

Option 3/THE WINNER: I used this picture as our inspiration or (PIN-spiration) for our Christmas card this year.

Here is our card that we sent out. Sorry for the poor picture quality, I snapped a pic of the card with my phone....I should have downloaded the "sample photo" from Shutterfly when I ordered it....oops. It says "We wish we could be with your for the holidays, but we're a little tied up." Witty, I know. Troy thought of that. So while we had some pinspiration, Troy thought of the content. He's punny.

We took the photo over Thanksgiving while my cousin Laura and her hubby Dan were here with their ADORABLE son. Dan danced around with Jameson trying to get Avery to smile and look at the camera while Laura took pictures and tried to keep Optimus from chasing Dan around. It was crazy. She took about 15 pictures and we decided this one was the best.

I'm SO glad we sent them out this year. When I called to confirm a few addresses with my Grandma, she was like, "what is this for?" I said, "I know it's hard to believe, but we are actually going to send out cards for the holidays." My grandma goes, "well it's about damn time! You've been married for more than 5 years now." Thanks grandma...

Anyway, Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that you all have been good this year and Santa is very kind to you. Sing happy birthday to Jesus and remember of the reason for the season.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Friend Wrapped ALL of our Christmas Presents. And I Baked. And Burned Cookies. And Suck at Decorating Them.

I had a much deserved girls night this week. And it was a productive one :) Filled with Christmas-y fun! And wine. And movies. And cookies.

My friend Katie loves wrapping Christmas gifts. I hate wrapping Christmas gifts because why spend so much time doing something that gets ripped open and thrown away in seconds? I love baking Christmas cookies. Katie hates baking Christmas cookies because it's messy and makes tons of dishes.

Katie wrapped all our gifts. I baked all of the cookies. Win-Win.

I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, sugar cookies, and chocolate chip cookies and drank wine. Katie wrapped 40+ gifts and drank wine.

This is Katie relaxing and wrapping literally took her almost 2 movies to finish them all. We watched "The Holiday" and "Elf."

I made a big mess. I have NEVER used cookie cutters before. Ever. And I SUPER suck at decorating them. I actually burned a batch...ooooops. Too much chatting and laughing.

Evidence here. Luckily, Katie opted to take hers home and frost them later. Or she would have ended up with a hot mess.

Needless to say, we had a good time and both got something tangible out of our evening. Win-Win. Am I right?

So, to my family and Troy's family: You can thank Katie for all of your gifts being wrapped. You're welcome.

They got mailed yesterday. Be on the look out! We were "that family" in the post office. I swear. Military families should get discounts at the post office for Christmas mailing. We mailed 7 boxes and 5 flat packages. UGH! And we packaged most of them IN the post office. With a toddler. Let us all pause to imagine the chaos. You. Are. Welcome.

Anyone else hate wrapping presents? Or hate cleaning up baking messes?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Avery Proves She is NOT a Superhero. She bleeds.

Our family has a free YMCA membership because our home is over 30 miles from our base. It's a great perk. It has free childcare, free classes, an indoor AND outdoor pool, and did I mention that it's free? For some reason, previously, I had associated YMCAs with low income areas with programs for families without the resources for safe activities. I don't know why. Boy was I wrong. It is SO nice. And we are really enjoying it!

I have been going to the gym about 3 times per week, which if you know me AT ALL you know this is a huge deal. I hate hate hate working out. Hate. However, now that I have a child and the child care is free, it's awesome. I am doing something good for me and she gets playtime/socializing time. I get to work out, read, listen to music, watch TV, take classes, whatever. All of a sudden, exercise has become "me" time. Which is amazing and a super motivational reason to go work out.

Recently, I decided that it was time for Avery and I to use the indoor pool every once in a while. They have a therapy pool and it is 92 degrees. AKA BATH WATER. It is SO nice and toasty. And Avery loves it. I think she's going to be a little water baby.

On tuesday, Troy and I took her swimming. She was taking great joy in going backwards down the stairs up to her neck and then climbing out and going to a deeper part of the pool (that was exactly the same height as the water) and lowering herself into the water up to her chest before lifting herself out of the side of the pool. This became a great game for her...of running and seeing how fast she could lower herself into the water from side to side.

Of course, we had already been swimming for over an hour and she was starting to get tired. But if you have kids who love water, it doesn't matter how tired they are, they are going to keep playing. Troy was in the water and I was sitting on a bench next to the area she was making laps and kept "catching her" to keep her from running. Of course on her last lap, she totally slips and goes down face first onto the pool deck and totally splits her chin wide open...

I immediately scoop her up and take her into the locker room to check it out and change her clothes because we were heading to Target to pick up the last of our Christmas gifts.

She quit crying pretty quick (I stuffed a bottle of milk in her mouth) so I could look at it. She has a Harry Potter lightening bolt cut right in the bottom of her chin. She is bleeding line a stuck pig. I change her out of her suit and put her clothes on. And she bleeds all over the neck/chest part of her shirt. It was looking all "psycho" up in that area.

I gather all of our stuff up and we all walk out to the car (Avery included, we try to have her walk all the time) and I'm like "TROY WE NEED TO GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM!" And Mr. Calm is all "Eh, we'll get some new skin at Target and she'll be fine." And then Mrs. Freakout is like "YOU DIDN'T EVEN LOOK!!! YOU DON'T LOVE HER AT ALLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!"

We get into Target and there is more blood all over her face and shirt, which I am continually mopping up with a wipe from her diaper bag (which now looks brown instead of white). And I am now "that mom." You know, the one who grabs things off the shelf and immediately opens them and pays for them later? With a first aid kit.

We taped up her chin and she was not bothered at all. And didn't seem to be in any pain either. This is after we got the "new skin" on there.

And here are the pink "Hello Kitty" bandaids that she has been wearing.

I took her to the gym the next day and while I was waiting to drop her off at childcare, some other moms made me feel so much better when they saw her pink bandaid. They both said that their kids have also had scraped up faces. One mom said "my daughter fell off a curb and scraped her whole nose up and wore bandaids for weeks." The other mom said that her son fell 2 times in 6 months tripping over the hearth on the fireplace and split his chin in the exact same spot both times. At least I know it happens to everyone :) And baby girl seems fine!

Friday, December 7, 2012

We Are Swingers!

Get your mind out of the gutter! We got a swing set as a belated birthday present for Ms. Avery's 1st birthday. You know, cause we were living in TLF. As much as we LOOOVED it (read sarcasm), there just wasn't room to have a swing set delivered there.

I was looking at swing sets when I realized that we were going to have a yard. Oh. My. Gosh. Some of them are SO expensive. Like many thousands of dollars. Which is straight crazy. Especially when you move all the time and they get broken down and put together multiple times.

My Dad and Elaine (Grandpa Geno and Gigi) sent a swing set to us about 2 weeks ago. Over Thanksgiving, Dan and Laura came to visit and while the girls went to the gym (Avery included), the boys (Jameson included) put the swing set together.

Avery LOVES it. It is the perfect size for our yard. I was worried that anything big would take up all of the astroturf and there would be no room for running and playing ball with Optimus. My worries were ill-founded. The size is perfect. Here she is in all her glory. I love that Avery is still a little too small to enjoy all the parts of it. It means that she'll grow into it, but any future kiddos that we have can still enjoy it too with the slide and baby swing (for kids up to 4 years old). We had considered getting a Step 2 swing set, but they were expensive and then we would have felt the need to buy a "big kid" swing set for Avery when she was older, while having to keep the smaller one for littler kids. This just makes sense for us right now.

It has a slide, 2 swings, and a teeter totter swing. Dad and Elaine bought an extra baby swing that was changed out with one of the big kid swings. We were pretty excited that they did that since Avery is still a little small to grasp the whole "don't lean back or you'll fall off" concept. We sat her on the big kid swing (she was determined) and did pretty well, but when she decided to sign "all done," and let go of the chains, she totally almost did a face plant right into the turf.

She LOVES the slide. She goes down sitting up, face first, and backwards. She's hardcore.

She prefers to hold our hands when going down the slide on her bottom. It picks up some serious speed and she learned that the very first time she went down. She went FLYING and was going so fast, I was worried she was going to shoot off the slide into the side of the house and impale herself on the hose spout. No worries. That didn't happen.

Now she just holds out her hand when she wants to go down:

But, if we don't get there fast enough, she just turns around and goes down backwards or face first. Because THAT'S not scarier than just sitting on your butt, right?

We live in a great community with lots of parks, but having an area to play at the house is great. Especially if it's overcast and I'm worried that we might be at the park that long before she gets cold or it gets dark.

We have had a couple play dates at the house in the past week also and so far, the swing set gets 2 big thumbs up! Or 5 Amazon stars.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Troy's Family Tradition

Troy has this thing where the youngest person in the household ALWAYS puts the star on top of the tree...

Exhibit A: Avery is only 6 months old

Okay, so in that picture she's not exactly putting the star on the tree. And I also didn't realize how bald she was at this time last year. BUT this is a similar set up to last year. Last year, Troy held her like this (see above) and I stood on a chair and held her hands onto a star and she "put" the star on the tree. He was super insistent about this.

This year was no different. Avery was VERY intrigued by the tree and excited about all the lights. Pre-lit tree y'all. It saved our marriage after the first year of Christmas together. We CAN NOT agree about how to put lights on the tree. Pre-lit is the way to go. No more arguing :) Win-win. With WHITE lights. It's the way we roll. Correction: If I would allow GIANT colored bulbs, Troy would be thrilled. But I just can't. I'm a white light tree girl.

She attempted for about 2 minutes to put the star on the tree. It was adorable.

Troy gave her a little help (and held her up at the same time) while I took pictures. She was concentrating hard. Look at that double chin. I just love it :)

After a little furniture moving, here's what we got. We waited until after Avery's bedtime to actually put ornaments on the tree. She's not quite old enough yet. I'm pretty sure that next year she'll be able to help.

Troy pretty much made fun of me the whole time. I would unwrap an ornament and be like, "OH THIS IS MY FAVORITE." And then unwrap the next one and be like "Oh no. THIS ONE is my favorite." I just love Instagram. And I love Christmas decorations. And Jesus. He's the reason for season.

If you want to follow us on Instagram, search BarnesDailyCircus (I know it's shocking, right??)