Saturday, December 31, 2011

So long 2011...it's been real.



Real stressful, that is.

2011, you have probably been the hardest year of my life.  We moved to North Dakota in January, and Brandon's job here had him gone over 175 days this year, which means for almost half of you, I was alone with the two kids and our insanely spastic dog.  I've dealt with drama queens, gossip, boredom, a flood that destroyed half the town, a crappy house that's falling apart, severe depression, sickness...you name it, we've dealt with it this year.  So much so that you, 2011, have felt like three years instead of just the one.

I'm ready to say goodbye to you, 2011, and hello to your sister 2012.  I'm hoping 2012 is the hotter, more fun sister, cause I'm ready for some hotness and fun.  I'm ready for organization and motivation.  I'm ready for running.  For weight loss.  For a healthier lifestyle for my family.

I've got plans for you, 2012...and you better not get in the way of them.

I'm going to be more active.
I'm going to read at least 12 books.
I'm going to read to the kids every night.
I'm going to eat paleo and cook real foods for my family.
I'm going to maintain this blog.
I'm going to take a photograph every day, and keep up with my Project Life album.
I'm going to build up a stock of ready to ship items for my shop.
I'm going to show Brandon I love him rather than just tell him.
I'm going to organize more family activities.
I'm going to write letters.  And send them to people.

Peace out 2011.  I'd like to say I'll miss you, but I won't.


Cause you sucked.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

WIP Wednesday-Handmade Christmas edition!

This week, I decided to do a little spotlight on all the handmade gifts I gave this year!  I'm hoping to get started on presents early next year in order to give a little something special to all our loved ones instead of just a few.  Someone remind me to get started in June! :)

I still haven't gotten decent photos of the kids' blankets, but I'm hoping for a little sunshine tomorrow so I can snap a few.  Here's what I have though:



The top photo is what I had done four days before Christmas...I added another twelve squares and the border in three days.  Insane.  My wrist is still recovering.  So much crocheting! 

The next photo is her blanket all done. I chose a simple chain-loop border...I originally wanted to do one that had flowers sewn onto it, but yeah...zero time.  



Beck's blanket was such a joy to work on.  I loved both of them, of course (same pattern and all) but I really, really, REALLY love the colors on his blanket.  I love the grey, and the sapphire blue is my all-time favorite shade of Vanna's Choice.  It's so calming and exciting all at the same time.  


Beck was still awake the night I finished his, and kept climbing up into my lap while I was working on his border.  When it was done, I threw it over both of us and we snuggled for about two seconds, when he decided he'd rather play peek-a-boo.  I think this is my new favorite photo of him :)



My husband's squadron has a spouse's group that I've been involved with for a few months; I really look forward to our monthly get-togethers and I love the volunteering and doing stuff for our hubbies!  This month, we had an ornament exchange, and I was oh so excited to crochet an ornament!  Eventually, I'll have time to make a whole slew of them for my own tree, but for now, I'll settle for this one.  I used this pattern and will definitely be using it again.  I did end up adding a stem, but didn't get a photo before I took it to the party.  My mom suggested using cinnamon sticks for a stem; I think I might try that next time!


And finally, I made a little stocking for Piper's teacher :).  I very loosely followed this pattern from Lionbrand...I made the medium sized stocking and changed colors for the heel.  I wish I had changed it for the toe too, but I think it came out really cute!  I stuck a Barnes & Noble gift card inside with a note thanking her for the difference she's already made in Piper's life this year.  We also gave her some white-chocolate dipped pretzels in a mason jar. I couldn't find the lid (I've had this jar for a while), so I just covered it with plastic wrap and tied some yarn around the rim.


I really did love giving what few handmade Christmas presents I did give this year, and would love to give even more next year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Christmas!

For those of you that celebrate Christmas, how was it?!  I'm still recovering over here; staying up till 2AM Christmas eve made falling asleep at a decent hour last night difficult, so I'm going on two consecutive days of 5 hours of sleep :(  Good thing there's no school this week!  We're going to be taking plenty of naps and spending most mornings watching cartoons in my bed I think.  

I took so many photos over the last two days! It's my favorite thing about having a phone with a decent camera; I take way more photos with my iPhone 4S than I ever did with a camera!  




On Christmas Eve, we headed over to our friends' house to enjoy a yummy ham dinner with lots of fixins. The kids also got to decorate cookies for Santa; they had ridiculous amounts of fun!  The two boys (they're both 2) were literally dumping sprinkles on the cookies...so funny, and completely inedible hahaha!  





We got home from dinner around 6, and could not for the life of us keep Beckett awake.  Brandon was shaking the car seat, tickling him, yelling...anything we could think of but the little guy's eyelids just wouldn't stay up!  Skipping a nap'll do that to an over-active two year old, I guess!  We just put him straight to bed since not even carrying him in the house would wake him up.  He hasn't been sleeping well lately, so we figured an early bedtime would help tomorrow go smoother anyway.  

After we got Beck all situated, Brandon and Piper and I all changed into our Christmas jammies and snuggled on the couch to read a couple Christmas books and watch Alvin and the Chipmunks (Piper's favorite).  I found a free app on my phone to track Santa, so we had fun watching where he was going to be next.






After the movie, Piper and I set up the cookies, milk, and snacks for the reindeer.  My gramma sent the kids some reindeer food which was super adorable (oats and colored sugar crystals); they were supposed to spinkle it over the yard so the reindeer would know where to stop, but Beck was in bed already and it was really windy outside so Piper didn't want to go out. Lousy North Dakota.  I had some plastic cups though, so we put a little in each of 8 cups (I just realized we forgot one for Rudolph..sorry Rudolph!) along with a big ole carrot for Santa to take to them up on the roof. 


As soon as Piper and I finished getting everything ready, Beck woke up. *sigh*  

I changed his diaper and put his Christmas jammies on him (they say "I've been good his year, just ask my Mom!") and Brandon used his magic touch (and about four cups of milk) to get him snoozing again.  


We waited an hour or so to make sure they were asleep, and then it was time for my least favorite part of Christmas: wrapping presents.  Oh, and eating a sugar cookie.  :)


Pretty wrapping paper helped me to get through it though...that and some egg nog and brandy :)


Brandon seriously played with this train table for a good 10 minutes before we went to bed. So funny.  


Finally, we got everything wrapped and set up.  I really do love the way our tree and presents looked this year!  Such pretty colors :)


Santa always wraps his presents in Santa wrapping paper that doesn't match the rest of the presents...gotta do everything I can to keep the magic alive for as long as possible!  Brandon and I think next year will be the last year Piper believes in Santa; she's just so smart and picks up on everything.  


I wrote the  kids a little note from Santa; Piper got a real kick out of that.  


Christmas morning, Beck snuck into our bed around 6AM.  After going to sleep at 2AM, we obviously were NOT ready to start the day, so we just snuggled with him for another couple hours.  Finally, we all went downstairs to wake up Piper (yep! We had to wake her up...again.  Every year!) and let the kids go check out their goodies.



Beck was beyond excited for the Spongebob toothbrush holder Santa brought him.  Really. A toothbrush holder.  This kid loves anything with Spongebob on it!  


I just love his profile.  




Piper LOVED her blanket!  She had seen the squares before, but not the whole thing, so she was really excited to actually have it and be able to snuggle it.  Beck opened his, pulled it out of the box, and threw it behind him like it was tissue paper hiding the real present.  He's been snuggling with it all day today though, so it's okay :)

 After all the presents were opened, I snuck into the kitchen to make some less-than-stellar cinnamon rolls. They came out okay; super sweet and I think I really did need bread flour (all I had was all purpose). Next year, it's back to pillsbury cinnamon rolls in a can!

While I was mixing, I poked my head around the corner to check on Beck, and yeah...that's what I found.  My parents got the kids this train table, and they both love it....but this is how Beck likes to play with it. He sits on it and races cars and/or trains all over.  So funny.



Here's a little before and after for ya.  It's so funny to me every year how quickly things go from being pretty and shiny to destroyed and trampled.  



We spent the rest of the day just hanging out as a family, enjoying eachother's company and our gifts.


Beck's insane milk guzzling that night depleted our supply, so I ran to the Shoppette on base (which was packed, by the way) in my jammies.  nbd. 


Brandon, Piper and I played our new Monopoly game while Beck took a nap.  I saw this on Black Friday for pretty cheap (can't remember how much) and thought it would make the game easier for Piper; I was right! It was so fun playing with them, and I'm super excited she's old enough to play one of my favorite board games now!  


Brandon and I originally agreed that we would buy eachother our stocking presents with a $50 budget, so I bought him a video editing program that he's been wanting for a long time and some candy, and that was it.  Well, I feel like a jerk because he broke BOTH our rules and bought me that stand mixer, which is both over our budget and doesn't fit in the stocking, AND the latest Professor Layton game!  I'm glad he spoils me, but it makes me feel like such a butthead every year.  I'm starting Christmas shopping for him in May next year, right after our anniversary. :)

This game, by the way, is the awesome.  There's TWO games...the regular Professor Layton game, and a 100-hour RPG (similar to Harvest Moon, minus the farming) called London Life which I literally played all morning.  So awesome!  


I took this photo at 6PM; the kids loved their gifts so much!  It made me so happy to see them so thoroughly enjoying everything we got them.  


Before I tucked Piper into bed, we got out her new Squinkies playsets and played for a little bit.  Seriously, the cutest things ever.  She got this cupcake set, and Santa brought her the Squinkies mall, which has a ferris wheel that actually works!  So cute and so fun.  

Anyway, that's what our last two days have looked like!  Today too, really...minus Brandon since he had to go back to work today.  The whole holiday was really everything I could have wanted, and just made me so thankful for my sweet little family.  

Hope you all had great holidays as well!  I'll be back tomorrow with a post about all the handmade gifts I gave this year.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Holiday Baking...

....aka The End of Sophie's Excellent Weight Loss Streak.

Sigh.

Why is it so hard to diet during the holidays?  This time of year just makes me want to curl up with a big ole cup of hot chocolate and a few homemade cookies...not a cup of fresh veg/fruit juice or a spinach salad.  The bad news is I've definitely succumbed to temptation this week; the good news is I've only gained one pound. Yay!  I'm hoping to make it through the rest of 2011 with minimal gain, and hit it hardcore again in the new year.  

First, I have to share how awesome my husband is.  I told him months ago that I wanted a stand mixer, but I didn't really want it because they're expensive and I just would rather spend the Christmas money on the kids.  So Monday, I went to the commissary to get some butter and chocolate chips for this epic baking session I had planned...and when I got home, this was on the counter: 


Eep! I was so excited :) He wanted me to be able to use it, so he pulled it out early for me :) I think I'll keep him! 

On to the baking! 

Piper wanted to bake some cookies for her grandparents this year to go along with the pictures she and Beckett painted for them, so I picked out some super yummy recipes!  They all came out amazing. Seriously. So good.  


First up was these insanely delicious and beautiful via Baked Perfection . These were so easy and they tasted way better than I thought they would!  A couple tips though, if you decide to make them: 1. Make sure your dough is wet. I had to add about 3.5 tbs of milk instead of the 2 tbs the recipe called for...if the dough isn't wet, the colored sugar won't stick to the balls of dough.  2. Stick those kisses in the freezer, and wait 3-5 minutes before pushing them into the cookies.  Otherwise, the kisses will melt, which still looks cool (and obviously tastes good still), but if you want the kisses to stay in-tact, wait until you think you've waited too long to push those babies in.  The cookies should be at the point where they're still warm, but you can hold them.  

This was a great recipe for Piper to help with too...she probably could have done everything herself (after I mixed the dough of course).  


Next, I whipped up some chocolate chip cookie dough (I just use the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag) while Piper mixed up the brownie mix so we could make these chocolate chip cookie brownies, also via Baked Perfection . I honestly didn't even get to try one of these, since they all went to friends and family and the rest went into my husband's tummy.  He gave them rave reviews though :)  I recommend this recipe for the second or third thing to bake; it gives you a good 40 minutes to sit down and relax in between baking :).  


These beauties are my new favorite cookie. For reals.  I found the recipe on Pinterest (also the other ones) and have been dying to make them every since.  Pretzels.  Chocolate chips.  Peanut butter chips.  Sea salt.  Seriously.  So. Good.  

You can find the recipe at Sugar Cooking . My dough wasn't as chunky as hers, and I am super jealous.  The next time I make it, I'll definitely add more goodies, but still, these were insanely yummy.  I like my cookies on the gooey side, so I baked the ones for us for 10 minutes, and the ones for everyone else (pictured) for 12 minutes.  They were still soft and awesome, just not gooey :)  


Yesterday, Piper had a Christmas party at school, so we made some Apple Pie Chex Mix for her to take.  Umm...I'm really, really, really glad she took all of this to school, but not so glad it was so easy to make. Because it is so good.  We left the walnuts out since I wasn't sure if there were any nut allergies (and I just don't like walnuts), and a triple-ish batch (I honestly just eyeballed everything) gave each of her 20 classmates two handfuls in a treat bag.  


We had a bunch of melted white chocolate left, so I pulled out a bag of pretzel rods and we started dunking!  I packaged up a bunch to go along with the gift card we got Mrs. Fogarty, and Beck ate most of the rest of them :)  


I still have to figure out some sort of breakfast deliciousness for Christmas day, and then after that I am done baking for a while!  Gotta get these 40 pounds off.  

Have you done any baking this year?  Got any good Christmas morning recipes?  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Piper's lunches!

Today is Piper's last day of school till the new year, so I'm posting the lunch round-up a day early!  Let me just tell you, I am beyond excited to sleep in for the next 11 days, even if "sleeping in" means 8:30.  Beckett has decided he just doesn't want to sleep at night anymore, and the worst part is he's not even crying all night. He's just wandering around the house, getting into crap he's not supposed to.  The other morning, he was asking for cheese, but I couldn't find the block of cheese I knew we had anywhere in the fridge. I wandered all over the house looking for it, thinking he had already gotten it out and tried to bring it to me earlier that morning.  I finally found it in his bedroom, along with a butter knife, room temperature.  Two nights ago he threw a box of capri sonnes onto my bed.  Piper now sleeps with her door locked, because if she doesn't, Beck sneaks into her room and tackles her in the middle of the night.  My crazy ass son.  So yes, this Christmas break will be spent doing as much sleeping as possible.  And I will 100% enjoy it.  

On to the lunches! 


Monday, Piper had sugar snap peas and matchstick carrots, pretzel fishies with a present cupcake topper, some bbq pop chips and leftover macaroni and cheese, which she scarfed.  I didn't think she'd like it cold, but she begged me to pack it again, so yay! 


Tuesday, I went for a candy-cane theme :)  I packed her some banana chunks, red and white gold fish (that are totally from a big carton of patriotic gold fish from this summer...surprisingly still not stale!), some mixed nuts with candy cane hershey kisses, string cheese that I drew red stripes on with a food safe marker, and under that, a honey puffed wheat cake (like a quaker rice cake but preservative free) that I broke up.  


Wednesday, Piper had a pb and chocolate chip roll-up with some Christmas confetti sprinkles on it, some matchstick carrots, Christmas Captain Crunch and a present cupcake topper, and some sour cream and onion pop chips.  We just love these pop chips! They're so delicious and so much better for us than any other chips the kids usually eat.  Definitely recommend them!  

  

And this is Piper's lunch today!  She has a Christmas party this afternoon, so I tried to pack her food that wasn't overly sugary so she'd have something good in her stomach before she loads up on cupcakes and the apple pie chex mix we made (post on that coming tomorrow!).  I packed her a banana, some sugar snap peas, 100% fruit snacks (no weird preservatives or added sugars) under a small cookie we made (also in the post tomorrow), some apple straws and a snowflake shaped all natural peanut butter sandwich. 

Can I just take a minute and say how much better I feel about this lunch than the lunches I first started sending with Piper, even with the cookie?  This last week or so we've been eating REAL food...and I just love it.  Real peanut butter, fruits, veggies, homemade treats instead of over-processed store bought crap...it's awesome.  We went to McDonald's the other day since we were out shopping and the kids were hungry; I had maybe half a small order of fries and a caramel frappe (love them), and felt sick to my stomach later that night.  After a week and a half of a mostly fruit and veg diet.  I just feel really good about the changes we're making, and am so excited to be giving my kids REAL food now.  

Monday, December 19, 2011

Weigh in 12/19/11



Well, I did it! One week of a juice fast down :)  I didn't stick to it nearly as well as I had originally wanted to, especially after the insanely stressful weekend I had, but I still lost 3.4 lbs! Very exciting. I'm going to stick with it this week and see if I can get under 200 before Christmas.

I know I can do it; this whole juice fast experience has really made me aware of how much comfort eating I do.  I'm not hungry while juicing, but I still reach for food.  I'm going to try and be stronger this week and see how that helps.

I have noticed a few detox symptoms, which motivates me that much more to do this the right way. I've had a few headaches and am breaking out like crazy on my chin.  All those nasty toxins are leaving my body...woohoo!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sad Saturday.


That picture up there is exactly how my day went today...and believe me every time Beck cried I wanted to just cry right along with him.  Everything that could possibly go wrong today went wrong.  It was one of those days when I wished over and over and over again that I could just crawl back into bed and start the day over...one of those rare days that makes me hate that my husband is in the military.

His job here is so hard...hard on him, and even harder on me and the kids.  He's at work for four days (this time five though), and supposed to be home for five, but probably half the time it's only two.  And just because he's home doesn't mean he's off; he gets called in for training or pee tests or who knows what else.  He just checked and he's been at work for 175 days this year, more than anyone else in his squadron.  Pretty sucky considering he only started working in the missile fields in February.

I miss my husband. I miss having his face be the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see every night.  I miss having help with the kids.  I miss being able to go and do thing as a family, instead of hoping scheduled activities or appointments fall on a day when he's home, and if not, taking them by myself (like today).

We found out the other day that the Basic Allowance for Housing here is going up a *ton* next year, and I think we're going to look into purchasing a home.  We are really unhappy here, and part of me thinks that if we had a home we actually liked and felt comfortable in, it would be easier to deal with.  It scares me at the same time though...buying a house in a town we are so unhappy in, but this place is only getting bigger and I'm sure if by some miracle we find a way out of here we could easily sell it.  I really, really, really hate our house right now.  We live in some of the oldest houses on base, and it just feels so gross and dark and just cold, no matter how much I decorate.

Sorry for such a downer of a post :( On the bright side, Brandon should be home Monday afternoon and by some miracle will be home until December 26th! Fingers crossed the schedule doesn't change, cause our little family could really use a week together.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Piper's lunches!

It's Friday, which means it's time for our weekly lunch round-up :)


Monday's lunch was crap.  I hated it, but was too tired to try to fix it.  Sorry Piper.  

She had peanut butter sandwiches cut into Christmassy shapes (from left, mitten, Santa's head, Christmas tree and gingerbread man).  Under the sandwiches were mini goldfish and some chocolate teddy grahams, and then she had a big ole pile of apples.  She ate almost everything, so that was good at least :)


Tuesday's lunch was better, in both appearance and quality of food, but this was the lunch I forgot to put in her backpack.  Mom of the year right here.  She ate it when she got home though, so all was well :)

I packed her a mini bagel with cream cheese, some Christmas Captain Crunch with a present cupcake topper, some matchstick carrots which she loved (score!) and mini nilla wafers and a couple strawberry fig newtons.  The Santa is a cupcake pick I bought at Hobby Lobby (also where I got the cupcake topper).  


Wednesday, Piper wanted to buy lunch (cheese pizza), but this is what she had Thursday.  I went grocery shopping and bought nothing processed, which I am super excited about, so if you see any processed junk foods, it's just stuff I'm using up still from the pantry.  I packed her a peanut butter and chocolate chip tortilla wrap (which will soon be whole wheat tortillas), a pile of bbq PopChips which she LOVED, some raisins and mixed nuts and some sugar snap peas. 


Today, I woke up five minutes after Piper's bus came to pick her up, and when I ran into her room to tell her I'd drive her to school, she said, "Can I just stay home? My tummy hurts."  Her door was locked, so I think what happened is Beck, who has decided he just wants to play all night now, was sneaking in her room and waking her up.  She seems fine, just tired, so we've been relaxing on the couch watching Christmas movies on Netflix.  

This is what the kiddos had for lunch.  Peanut butter Christmas tree sandwiches on top of some Cheez-its, a snowman cupcake topper, apple slickes, raisins and a few marshmallows, and a strawberry fig newton.  They were both pretty happy :)