I love the lights, the cheer, the colors, the decorations, the fires, the cocoa, the cookies, the gifts, and of course the reason for the season. And this year is sure to be an exciting Christmas now that Josie is old enough to really experience it all. But this is also the one time of the year that I fight back serious feelings of loneliness.
This is the one time of year that there is no denying the fact that I don't live near my family.
I love my life. All parts of it. And it seems to get better and better every year. So I'm not quite sure where these feelings come from. Really, the choice to stay here in Georgia was the right one. After all, who wants to live in a place that sees temperatures below 0 degrees?!?
But 7 years ago, I had 3 options; Florida with my Dad, Minnesota with my Mom, or Georgia with the love of my life. No matter what I chose, I lost. So I did what I always have done and kept the peace. I made sure each parent knew that they are immensely loved equally and I stayed in Georgia.
There have been periods in our life where we had the opportunity to move to be near one side of my family. But that was the problem. I would never be able to chose which side of the family to move to. I guess that's the child of divorce in me coming out.
Since then, Andrew and I have made a great life, great memories, and great friends.
But at this time of year I find myself craving time with my family. I'm jealous of everyone getting together in Minnesota and I miss watching the game with my Dad.
So to all of you in chilly Minnesota and my all time favorite Swamp Family, please know that I love you and I miss you. And while I am completely happy with where I live, my heart will forever be torn. While one piece will be sunbathing 400 miles south, another piece will be wearing a sweater 1200 miles north.
Love Love Love
My whole wheat lasagna ended up really runny because I used a recipe where you don't cook the noodles first and just add extra water to the sauce. I must have added way too much water. So I'll be tossing that recipe the next time I try!
The Homemade Chicken Pot Pie was really good except that I didn't use enough chicken. We will for sure make this one again.
The Baked Ziti was really good and super easy to make. It needed more cheese, but other then that we all really liked it.
We had steak last night and moved the meatloaf to tonight. I also moved the stew to Saturday since we had pizza when we were supposed to have that.
So only 2 meals were replaced. Hopefully this next week will be even more successful. Even with the little things we had to run to the store for, we still came in WAY under budget! We go back to Whole Foods Friday night so we'll see if I can do it again!
Now for the next two weeks menu plan...
Saturday - Beef Stew and Homemade Biscuits
Sunday - Baked Talapia, Baked Potatoes, Yellow Squash
Monday - (Darlene is out of town so we're on our own!) Chicken Fettuccine with Broccoli
Tuesday - Beef Kabobs and Mashed Potatoes
Wednesday - Chicken Quesadillas (Ravioli for Josie)
Thursday - (I have a jewelry party) Frozen Pizza and Peas
Friday - Driving to Florida
Saturday - Florida
Sunday - Florida
Monday - Darlene's!!!
Tuesday - Chicken Breast stuffed with cheese and spinach (YUM!) and Sweet Potatoes
Wednesday - Burgers and Fries
Thursday - Taco Ring
Friday - Breakfast for Dinner (Eggs, Pancakes, Fruit)
It's lunch time and I'm starving so all of this sounds really yummy to me!
What are you eating this week???
David and Amber, Scott and Amy, and the O'Prys (who need a blog!) meet us there and we had so much fun!Keep in mind that Andrew NEVER drinks. I am pretty sure the last time he drank was on his 21st birthday. So I was a little nervous about everyone buying him a few shots. Luckily they were pretty watered down so he only said slightly embarrassing things instead of full on humiliation!
Amy got him a fruity drink that was quite yummy! And we got to keep the glass!In this next picture you will see Andrew and Scott toast Andrew's birthday. As you look at this picture and then the one right after it, pay close attention to their faces. They are drinking the exact same thing.HeHe!
I had to cut Andrew off when he started grabbing his man boobs and talking about marrying Scott.
Then we all acted like teenagers and played games for about an hour. Amy and I learned that we suck at basketball and we all raced each other on the group racing game. I would have won if Andrew hadn't rear ended me right at the finish line. When you ask for a girl group picture you get this...
I am 100% sure that I have not become addicted to the idea of making felt food for Josie's play kitchen. I don't think that it is the cutest idea in the whole World. Of course, for now it will have to remain an idea seeing as it seems to be me who in fact does NOT have any spare time! (anybody know a good place to buy felt food???
When Andrew's mom asked if she could take Josie to the Family Thanksgiving Feast even though Andrew and I decided we wanted to skip it this year, I know that I didn't answer "YES!" before she was even finished asking! I love Saturdays with my girly and have never once considered letting her Nana have her even though I was at home!
Josie has been playing by herself so nicely lately. So I paid no attention when she was playing with her babies and kept saying, "Baby, ewwww" on the other side of the room. When I did finally look, I know that I did not see my daughter standing over her baby who was NOT buried under a pile of white powder. I'm pretty sure Josie wasn't holding an empty bottle of baby powder either. I always keep a very close eye on her and powder is never within a toddler's reach.
It did not take me 8 months to actually order Josie's new birth certificate (with our names as her parents!!!). And after I did (not) finally fill out the papers and send them off to the vital record gods, I know that I did not get a little nervous and start thinking that maybe we weren't really her parents! Never once did I think of running away with her to Mexico, just until the certificate came in and did, in fact, list us as her parents.
I am SO glad that I was NOT a part of that group of crazy, wild, acting like a bunch of teenagers, adults that I saw at Dave and Busters Friday night! I'm sure it was the first time they'd gone out with a big group of friends with absolutly no children in sight in a very long time, but come on people. Act your age! (and for Andrew, that would mean acting 27!!)I love a good bargain. I mean, I REALLY love a good bargain. So I totally claim this one: I DID get Josie 4 pairs of PJ's, 14 full outfits, a new swimsuit, and a pair of high end shoes (ALL Gap and Gymboree and hardly ever worn!!) for $60 (that's like less then $3 an outfit!). I will not have the best thrifty shopping mom dressed 2 year old in all the land!
After not being able to decide what kind of curtains would be affordable and still look nice for our living room, I was about to give up. Then half way through our IKEA trip I remembered that my mom had bought us red curtains back when we moved into our first house that would work great!!!
I am going to get it with this pattern on one side...And this color brown on the other side!Since there is pretty much not even a small chance that Josie will let me carry her in it now that she is Miss Independant, I suppose I will try to convince one of my MANY pregnant or brand new Mommy friends to wear it until I convince Andrew we need a new Little Pope.
Winning is really fun!
Enter Menu Planning.
I found a blog (and for the life of me I can't remember what it was) that a whole bunch of bloggers post links to what they will be cooking for that week. So I spent my lunch one day last week reading menu plans and coming up with one for us. Then I listed ingredients that were needed and crossed off what we had at the house. I even organized my grocery list by department!
Sweet Lord, was it a great experience. After having already toted Josie around shopping for 4 hours before we even made it to the grocery store, it was awesome to have my list organized.
What used to be a two hour experience, was cut down to about 45 minutes. What used to cost $75 per week was cut down to $65 for 2 weeks!!!! I'm sure we will need to pick a couple things up during the week, but we will still be WAY under budget which will come in handy for Andrew's birthday celebration Friday night!
SO without further ado, here is what the Pope Family will be eating the next 2 weeks...
Sunday - Whole wheat lasagna; spinach; yogurt
Monday - (we always eat at Andrew's parents)
Tuesday - Homemade Chicken Pot Pie
Wednesday - Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries
Thursday - Baked Ziti; broccoli; garlic bread
Friday - DAVE AND BUSTER'S!!! (Andrew's 27th Birthday!)
Saturday - Meatloaf; Mashed Potatoes; Squash
Sunday - Beef Stew; biscuits
Monday - Something Yummy at Darlene and Curt's!
Tuesday - Tacos (Ravioli for Josie)
Thursday - Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Friday - Grocery Night (Eat at Whole Foods)
We'll see how we do sticking to it! What are you eating this week???
It wasn't that there wasn't anything that I should have been doing, I was just really unmotivated, finicky, and indecisive. So we just did what we did and enjoyed our time together. Next weekend I HAVE to start all the invitations and crafts that have to get done for birthdays, baby showers, Christmas, and really to just clear off my to do list.
First task : Quit looking at crafting blogs! Every time I do I seem to add about 5 things to my to do list!! We spent Friday night visiting with the Glovers and loving on this sweet little man! Ean is so precious! However, my plan of exposing Andrew to the cuteness that is a newborn seems to have backfired. He announced on the way home that he does not ever want a newborn and prefers the method we added Josie to our family. I think he was just scared of how teeny Ean is!
Josie on the other hand, thinks Ean is pretty cool! We brought them dinner, but I decided we're not very good at things like that. We were an hour late, I made something with brocolli not thinking Tiff can't have gassy food, we didn't bring plates, and once we ate I was so in love with Ean, I didn't help clean up. Opps, sorry guys!
On Saturday I decided to venture out to IKEA to see if I could find a good deal on curtains. I was unsuccessful in my curtain hunt; but 3 hours, a new train, some play kitchen utensils, and a lot of pretty bathroom decor later, we felt the trip was a success!
Josie was AWESOME the whole time! I was so proud. The only time I let her out of her stroller was in the kids area and she thought that was the coolest! Since we weren't on a schedule or in a hurry to get anywhere she was able to play as long as she wanted. She tried out every toddler bed, sat at every kid sized table, and rode the rocking moose. After IKEA we figured we might as well go to Whole Foods while we were down town. I had wanted to try out Trader Joes but without Andrew I know I would have gotten lost so Whole Foods it was. And do you want to know how amazing I am?!? I know you do.
I got 2 weeks worth of groceries for... $65!! Man I'm good! I guess having a list really does work!The World's largest Pottery Barn Kids just opened at Lenox Mall and it really is amazing! Josie and I had a blast playing with all the kitchen sets and climbing on the furniture! That place is so pretty! Sunday was spent practicing Josie's skills with a big girl cup and doing puzzles. This little girl amazes me at how fast she learns. The first time we did the puzzle she just kind of stared at it, but after I did it two times she could point where they went but couldn't get the pieces to fit, but by the end of the day, she was doing it by herself! Smarty pants!
Then it was Bible Study and bed.
Pretty unproductive, but fun!
I did not, in any way shape or form, thoroughly enjoy my last weekend of party/holiday/invitation making freeness that we'll have until FEBRUARY 12th when we board our plane to Arizona. I am not one to ever over plan my weekends and I surely do not enjoy planning parties!
I was not give Andrew the silent treatment the whole way to the Glover's on Friday night after he got all uppity about me putting his dessert on the floor for the ride. And once he uttered out his humble apology for freaking out over where the dessert rode in the car, I did not smile super big. I do not get a kick out of apologies.
I did not convince myself that I needed to go to IKEA to price out some curtains for the house only to end up buying lots of little things that were not curtains! When I am on a mission, I never get side tracked!
Surely it was not I who decided that there was nothing wrong with buying Josie a dress for our Christmas pictures and then returning it right after our photo shoot is done. That is ghetto and I am most defiantly NOT ghetto!
Andrew did not take me out on a much needed, Josie-free, no talking about work date on Saturday night. And if he had, I know I wouldn't have loved every second of it!
We are Health Food Fanatic Wannabees at the Pope House. Unfortunately, Josie has decided to protest every and all vegetable that isn't tomato soup or served on a pizza. That being said, I am not shamelessly asking for ideas on how to smuggle veggies into my daughter's belly at least once a day. I mean, I wrote all the books on healthy toddler eating (I don't mean healthy ways to eat your toddler!), so why would I need ideas?!?
*Seriously though, any ideas???
It took about 2 hours, but I sewed it all by hand. It would be way faster if I used my sewing machine. I think it turned out so cute! And the total price: $2.15!
It's a little off centered and the proportions are off a little, but with a few adjustments, the next one will be perfect! And as for the Princess, I think she approves!I also have fallen in love with all the cutesy throw pillows they sell at Pottery Barn Kids, but since we are decorating on a budget, a $20 pillow for a 1 year old to drool on is out of the question. So I decided to make those too!
Here is my first attempt at a pillow. It hasn't been stuffed yet so the left side is still open. I love putting her name on things and birds, owls, trees, and flowers are going to be the theme of her room. Kind of like a magical forest.
- She says, "don't push" anytime we put a hand on her while she's walking
- She sings "A B" but still refuses to go any further. She gets very upset if we keep singing after that!
- She loves all pasta, tomato soup, french toast, and cheese
- She does not like meat or most veggies (we mash them into her mashed potatoes and she's none the wiser!)
- We have resorted to reverse psychology already! ("Oh, don't kiss your Daddy!" guarantees a kiss for Daddy!)
- She still uses that dang paci, but it is now only for night night (or severe melt downs in public places!)
- She ends up in time out about 1x per day. It still works to correct her behavior immediately.
- She LOVES to read "Babies", "Goodnight Moon", and "Where's Elmo"
- She makes a pig sound anytime she sees a coin (indicating a need to put it in her piggy bank)
- She loves to go see Boomer as long as he doesn't touch her
- She feeds her babies everyday
- She likes to "cook" and then feed us her creations
- She is still wearing 12 month clothes. Tops fit perfect, bottoms are still big in the waist and are starting to get too short
- She is obsessed with her Aunt Amy and asks for her every time we get in the car.
- She can pull her pants up by herself (and unfortunately can pull them down as well!)
- She goes to daycare 2 or 3 days a week, spends Monday's with her "Nanny", 2 days with Andrew, and 2 days with me.
- She thinks it's hilarious to give out spankings
- She just started to really play by herself and to act out things with her babies and other toys
I'm sure the list could keep going. She makes us laugh everyday at how sweet and sour she can be! She is a full fledged, Independence seeking, toddler! Slow down baby girl. No need to grow up so fast.