Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Favorite Reads

Here are some of the best things I've found to read on the Internet this week:

Hope you enjoy! Tell me what your favorite link is in the comment section below!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


other 1
Clockwise from top left: Bathtime!, funny sleeping position, playing with Raggedy Andy, and another funny sleeper.

Other 2
All dressed up for a wedding, congratulations to Chris and Carolyn (Jason's fellow 1st grade teacher), fancy-schmancy, and lots of lady teachers + Jason.

Other 3
Mother's Day gifts from my students to their mothers, a sweet sidewalk chalk note from a neighbor to Jason, Mother's Day breakfast for me, and my beautiful Mother's Day necklace from Janie and Jason.

Other 4
Sliding time, swing away, a baby maple tree, and our repointed chimney.

One Awesome Little Girl.

Okay. I need to warn you all that I am about to brag about Janie. Seriously. If you don't want to hear someone brag, you should stop reading because I can't help it!

Really... let me just show you a picture of what I look like right this moment.

Brag list :)
My brag list. I told you I wasn't kidding.

Here goes... (you were warned!)

Janie has been growing and changing up a storm the past week and a half - it's truly astounding. Here's how:

1. Last Saturday morning, Janie woke up and nursed, and then I brought her into our room. When she saw Jason, she started saying, "Dada, dada, dada." Ooooh so precious.

2. The very next morning, same scenario - I walked into our room with Janie. First she said (as clear as could be), "Hi, Dad!" Then she turned to me and said, "Mom, mom." Ah. I can hardly stand that. May 1 - mama.

3. A couple days later, Janie really started babbling and saying more sounds. She also started making those sounds a lot more clearly. On Tuesday, she said to Aggie, "Dog. Gie." Over and over again.

4. The next day, I was at the grocery store, and each time I turned to get something off the shelf, Janie said, "Mama!" When I came back to her, she would say, "Dada?" and look all over the place for Jason. So sweet!

5. On Friday, Janie woke up with one of her top teeth! Woohoo!

6. Saturday morning, Janie and I were hanging out in the office, and we were playing around. She was laughing this cute little laugh with a snort, so I decided to videotape it with the webcam. I was thrilled when this snort/laugh morphed into the cutest high-pitched giggle that I have ever heard!!! It was so fun to catch it on tape, and I've been watching it over and over again. Hope you enjoy! (Turn your volume up because the webcam sound isn't that great.)

7. Mother's Day was on Sunday, and Jason and Janie spoiled me in the morning with breakfast and a beautiful necklace (more about that later!). After I ate, we were talking while Janie was rolling around on the floor. Suddenly, she pushed up on all fours and started (very slowly) crawling! Yay! She's still not too sure about it but she is definitely moving in a forward direction on all fours. I'm so proud of my baby!

Janie crawling

8. On Monday afternoon, Janie came home from Grandma and Grandpa's with her 2nd top tooth! Since then, she has been making the most hilarious faces with her lips and tongue because she is still getting used to the feeling of having four teeth. So funny.

9. (This is the last one!) Janie went to the playground yesterday and played on the swings and the slide for the first time. I can't even describe how cute this was - I'll just let you check out the pictures and video!

Janie swing

Janie swing

Janie swing
The very silly tongue thing.

Janie swing

Janie slide

Janie slide

Well! This is why I think my little girl is awesome - I hope you enjoyed these little stories as much as I did!

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Favorite Reads

Some of my favorite finds from the past week... hope you enjoy as much as I did!

When to Add Rice to the Slow Cooker from One Dish Dinners - Really helpful tips about using slow cookers!!!

How to Truly Hug Your Children from Raising Homemakers - I thought this was a great post about physical affection and how important it is for children. Makes me wanna hug and kiss Janie even more than I do now!!!

Lemon Blueberry Pancakes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Just in time for some yummy summer time blueberries :)

Strawberry Lemonade from Good Life Eats - Makes me thirsty just reading it.

Healthier Cheese Dip - a Velveeta and Rotel Recipe Knock Off! from Heavenly Homemakers - I love Velveeta and Rotel but I really want to give this a try!

Organization? Not my strong suit... from Bring the Rain - This post has a really cool idea for organizing weekly meals. I love it and think I might use it in my own kitchen.

Knock You Naked Brownies from The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Haha this name makes me laugh and the pictures of them make me drool.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of Mother's Day, I wanted to share some things that my mom has taught me over the past 26 1/2 years.

Mother's Day - smiling
My beautiful mother this past Christmas.

  • My mom has taught me to love others. She has done this mostly by example, but this also makes me think of her strategy for reconciling bickering siblings. If two of us were fighting (which happened a lot with 6 opinionated and stubborn children), she would make us sit next to each other hugging or holding hands (or sometimes even kissing!!!) until we were laughing or at least tolerating each other once again. Pretty clever, and very clearly telling us, "You will love one another." And you know what? We do.
Mother's Day - whole family
Our whole family this year at Christmas Eve - me, Jason, and Janie, Mom, my sister Nicole and her husband Nate, my sisters Jaime and Cassidy, my brother Zachary and his girlfriend Ana, my brother Andy and his wife Rachel - these are the people whom I love. Big time.

Mother's Day - wedding
All of us again (minus Ana - we didn't know her yet!) at our wedding.
  • My mom has taught me to be generous. My parents thought nothing of giving of themselves, their time, their money, and their other resources. I am so grateful to have been raised in a home where generosity was modeled daily. The things that my mom has done to be giving to others are the kinds of things that you read about in magazines and hear about in sermons at church. I love that about my mom.
Mother's Day - Smiling
The best thing about her generosity - it is always with a cheerful heart.
  • My mom taught me to have fun. My mom is known for sometimes doing some crazy things. Most of these can be seen at the airport. She loves to dress up (and have the whole family dress up with her) and go to the airport to pick up whomever may be visiting, or returning from a trip, in some crazy outfits. These adventures started at Christmas time when Andy came home from college (think elves, Santa, Mrs. Clause, reindeers, and loud singing and shouting), and have grown to include 4th of July outfits, gator outfits, and most recently, large and crazy costumes from the skating rink. 
Just in case you thought I was kidding. :)

Mother's Day - laughing
I love seeing my mom laugh!
  • My mom taught me to keep traditions. My mom is a big keeper of traditions. I love that about her because those traditions make us all feel so loved and safe. The pickle on the Christmas tree, fireworks for every holiday (even my wedding!), our annual New Year's Eve fondue party, and even those crazy airport pickups are things that I always look forward to and make us so so happy!
Mother's Day - traditions
Reading the Christmas story on Christmas morning.

Mother's Day - monkey
I love that my mom remembered this tradition this year. Every year for my entire life, my dad gave me a stuffed monkey for Christmas. This year, my mom gave one to Janie. That meant so much to me. (Also, I think Janie's face is priceless!)
  • My mom taught me to work whole-heartedly. My mom puts her whole self into her job as an elementary principal, and that clearly shows if you spend some time in her school. I'm glad that I was able to work for my mom for awhile before I moved up to Pennsylvania with Jason because her example of putting her entire self into work was exactly what I needed to experience before starting the job I have now!
Mother's Day - Mom and Janie

Mother's Day - 3 generations
  • My mom taught me to be creative. I remember as a child that we had a closet full of craft materials to do whatever we wanted with it. It was the best! And I can't ever remember my mom telling me to do this or do that, she just let me do what I wanted. I realize now how important that was.
Mother's Day - Janie
  • My mom taught me to support my family. Between the six of us, we had a lot of activities, and the one thing that I realize looking back on it is - we supported each other. We went to gymnastics meets, we cheered at football and basketball games, and we drove all over the state for baseball and volleyball tournaments. It was never really an option but none of us ever really wanted it to be. That's what we did - showed up for our family.
Mother's Day - ten years ago
Mother's Day about ten years ago in Miami.

Mother's Day - Wedding
  • My mom taught me to love my husband. I am so grateful for the example that my mom set for me in her marriage to my dad. She loved him for their whole life together, and then mourned him in the most loving and incredible way. I'm so proud to be their daughter.
Mother's Day - 3 of us

Mother's Day - down the aisle
My mom walking me down the aisle for both herself and my dad.
  • My mom taught me to fellowship with others. We always had people over at our house, out to lunch or dinner with us, or piled in our car for a fun trip. I love that about our family! And I love that my mom encouraged us all to have friendships and to make those friends a part of our family.
Mother's Day - Kisses

Mother's Day - The whole gang
Our whole gang at Andy's graduation in Vermont.

I love you, Mom. Thanking for teaching me so much. I hope to be as wonderful a mother to Janie as you are to me. Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day - smiling

I also want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my mother-in-law, Norma. I'm so grateful for our relationship and for the care and love you give to Janie each day. I love you.

Mother's Day - Norma

Happy Mother's Day to my grandmothers as well! I love you, Granny and Grandma!

Mother's Day - Granny

Mother's Day - Grandma

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dear Jaime


Dear Jaime,

Fourteen years ago today, I was 12 years old and I stayed home from school that day because I wasn't feeling well. I remember that Mom had a check up with her doctor, and that she was pregnant. Pregnant with what I just knew would be a baby sister... I deserved that, you know, after spending my entire life with brothers and boy cousins!!


I got to go with her, and I remember Mom coming out of the office and saying, "Okay well I guess this baby is coming today..." I remember that she was so so calm about it. Granny and Papa took me home, which I recall not being happy about because I wanted to go to the hospital now, I think my new bed was being delivered to our house, and we also had to go to school to get Andy and Zachary.


We finally made it to the hospital, and I'm sure we still had to wait a long time, but eventually, I was able to see and hold my brand new baby sister (as you know, I had guessed that correctly). And I had never been more happy!


I'm telling you this story because I want you to know how much I waited for you, and how thrilled I was for you to join our family.  I want you to know how much I love you and how blessed I am to have you as my baby sister (or not so much anymore).


You amaze me, Jaime. You are funny, so so silly, caring, smart, and so talented.


I love watching you with babies and children, especially with your niece, Janie. You are really a natural, and that's not a gift that everyone has.


I also love to see you play volleyball. I know that is something that will take you very far in life if you continue to play and get better and better. I'm looking forward to the next time I can see you play, because it's been a very long time!


You have big dreams. I love hearing you talking about your cupcake shop. I hope that you do that one day - I know you'd be so great at it, and it would be incredibly successful. Just make sure that, if you hire Cassidy, you actually pay her.


I miss you every single day, Jaime. The one thing that is still so hard about living in Pennsylvania is being away from you, Mom, Cassidy, Zachary, Nicole, and Andy. It makes my heart hurt sometimes when I think about all that I'm missing not getting to watch you grow up. But that makes the times that we get to visit even more special.


I will always remember the weeks that you guys spent up here waiting (unsuccessfully) for Janie to arrive. I know it was disappointing to wait for no reason, but believe me when I say that I don't think I could have made it through those long weeks without all of you here.


I can't believe you're 14 now. I actually had to count the years and figure that out before I wrote it because it just seems too old! It doesn't seem possible that you'll be in high school next year.


I love watching you grow up, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you, my sweet and lovely little sister.


I hope you have a very happy birthday!


PS - Jason and Janie say "Happy Birthday!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sweet Shot Tuesday

Janie playing with her friend Olivia - they are just one month apart!

Janie and Olivia

I'm linking this photo up to Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Check it out and join in if you'd like!

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Favorite Reads

Each week, I'm going to be sharing some of my favorite things I've read on the web lately. I always wish I could share the great things I read with my friends and family, and I think this is one easy way to do it. I hope you enjoy!

Things I'd Like to Cook:

photo by Erin

Recipe for Pizza Penne Bake from One Dish Dinners - I made something like this before and totally forgot about it! It's really good.

Grilled Chicken Salad with Feta, Fresh Corn, and Blueberries from The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Oh my. I have seriously been dreaming about this salad. I don't know why I haven't made it yet! It's made just for me. 

Things I'd Like to Bake:

photo by Bridget

Beer Bread, 4 Ways from Bake at 350 - Jason and I both love beer bread, and this post gives some interesting ideas for some new recipes. I can't wait to try them!

Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Cake from the Tasty Kitchen Blog - One word. Yum.

Homemade Hot Dog Buns from Good Cheap Eats - I've been wanting to make these for awhile. And you can follow the same recipe to make hamburger buns. What a great idea - I bet they're delicious!

Around the House Tips/Shortcuts:

photo by Kara

A Peek Inside My Laundry Room: Caring for Kids' Clothes from Simple Kids - Ever since my friend Colleen gave me some homemade laundry detergent, I've been so interested in all the possibilities! This article got me even more excited about cheaper and better alternatives to Tide.

Stock Your Freezer with "Overripe" Bananas and Save from The Plan to Eat Blog - I recently saw a bag of overripe bananas for sale at the grocery store, and I was so close to buying. I decided against it because I just wasn't sure if I'd be able to find uses for so many bananas. Turns out, there are so many possibilities!

Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Why I Eat Butter from Keeper of the Home - I'm being more and more convinced that our country's love for low-fat and nonfat foods is actually very unhealthy (unless they're naturally low or nonfat foods, of course). I think this post makes a lot of sense and could really change your way of thinking, if you're interested!

Parenting - Words of Wisdom:

photo by Katie

13 Things Parents Do that Inhibit Real Play from Having Fun at Home - I love this post, and it's great reminders for me as Janie starts to play and interact with the world around her. 

Baby Treasure Basket from The Imagination Tree - A great tool that promotes interactive, open-ended, and imaginative play. I want to put together one of these for Janie

Marriage - Words of Wisdom:

One Better from (in)courage - Such a great encouragement for choosing to do the right thing in my interactions with everyone, but especially my husband. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.


photo by Susan Keller

How to Take Zoo Pictures from I Heart Faces - I can't wait to go to the zoo and take pictures with my new camera after reading this post!