Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Girls' Lunch

Saturday I met 3 of my good friends for lunch to celebrate my birthday. I realize my birthday was a month ago, but have you ever tried to coordinate 4 schedules on a Saturday? It's very hard to do! Especially when we all need to arrange some one to watch our children. That's right - it was a lunch WITH OUT children.

It. Was. Great!

Between the 4 of us, we have 5 children under the age of 18 months, so all of us eating out with our children is not an option. I love Brandon and Mackenzie, but I really enjoyed talking, eating and laughing with my girlfriends for an hour or two!

We met at Chuy's for an early lunch and it was delicious! In fact I'm having my leftover's today for lunch.

Have you ever eaten there? I had only eaten there a few times until they opened a new location near us. We didn't really like it the first time we ate at the new restaurant because they put me and Brandon at this really small table where there were tables on either side of us that were probably only 18-24" away. After that we stayed away for a little while until recently we went with Mackenzie. There are many blessings for having children - here's one - restaurants tend to seat you towards the back if you have a small child. I guess they figure you will disturb less people if your child acts out. For the last 3 or 4 times that we've eaten there, they've given us a table in the back and we had lots of room around us. I know that sounds weird, but I don't like being crammed in like sardines when I'm eating my lunch or dinner - do you?

Back to my lunch with my friends. We really enjoyed each others' company and they even paid for my lunch. We said we should start doing this to celebrate everyone's birthday and then we realized that all 3 of them had September birthdays. I told them I didn't mind paying for their lunches, but they would have to decide which 2 were going to change their birthday so I won't pay for all 3 meals at the same time!

I ran errands afterward and finally returned home around 2 o'clock. Ahhh, 3 hours to do what I want without worrying about a diaper bag or nap time (thanks to Brandon and his mom). It was very nice and a great way to celebrate my birthday...again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pink Hats

Last weekend Mackenzie and I went to visit Granny and Papa for a few hours. Mackenzie has finally opened up, become less shy and really enjoyed playing at their house. Just before lunch I gave her one of Granny's hats to play with. After walking around like this...
...she decided it was time to turn it around so she could see where she was going.

"Much better. Finally I can see!"

While Mackenzie enjoys hats herself, she doesn't really like to see others wearing hats. This is the picture I got when she realized Granny and Papa put hats on also.
She wouldn't turn around to look at the camera because she was too busy staring at them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Flashback - Up on a Horse


This is my great grandfather with my Granny and her older Brother Bobby. I'd say it was taken about 1942. I love that Granny is just sitting up there next to the boys and that they all look so natural and comfortable on a horse! I've ridden a horse a couple of times in my life and both times I can say I was very uncomfortable.
I can't imagine putting Mackenzie up on a horse right now. We can barely get her to go near my parents' dog and our friends cats, let alone a HORSE! Not only would I be afraid she'd fall off, but there's no way I'd get a picture of her since I'm pretty sure she'd be crying the ENTIRE time!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

House Rules

Yesterday my sister-in-law posted her house rules. Since I've been struggling for blog ideas, I thought I'd piggy back on her rules and add my commentary and/or my version of the rule.

Aubrey's Rule #1 - Chores are divided among the participants
Chores are divided in our household. Brandon typically does yard work, vehicle stuff, a/c filters, vacuuming, toilets and trash. I typically do laundry, dinner, dusting, tubs, sweep/mop. Depending on our schedules, we take turns doing dishes and going to the grocery store. My biggest issue is not asking for help and then getting so stressed with my tasks that it finally all comes out in a huge emotional outburst/breakdown. I'm working on that.

Aubrey's Rule #2 - Everything has it's place...in a drawer or cabinet.
I agree that things have their places, but we have a lot of stuff on our counters. Our realtor said that when we sell our house next year, I'll have to clean off about 50% of the stuff. Maybe then, I'll try and keep the same rule. Unfortunately for me, during the week our house gets cluttered, but I put it all away on Friday nights. For 2 whole days my house looks fairly organized and then the work week begins again!


Aubrey's Rule #3 - Bills are paid right away and papers are filed immediately thereafter.
Not so much in our house! Most of our bills are paid electronically, so only a few I actually write checks for. They are usually paid within a week of receiving them and then the paperwork placed in a stack in the office to sort/file later. At least I get them off the kitchen counter!

Aubrey's Rule #4 - Dishes are rinsed and put in the dishwasher immediately.
This is one I wish was more consistent. There are some weeks when all the dishes are put away and the sink and counter are empty. Then there are those other weeks...

Aubrey's Rule #5 - Spring cleaning is done quarterly.
I probably clean and purge our stuff twice a year, but I do it more sporadically. I'm better with Mackenzie's clothes just because she grows out of them so quickly. I currently need to clean out my kitchen cabinets and reorganize. I know there are several items in there that can stand to be thrown out.

Aubrey's Rule #6 - FIFO - first in, first out
This isn't necessarily a rule, but we do follow it. We don't typically open a new box of something before using all of the other box.

Aubrey's Rule #7 - Don't buy things that are hard to clean.
I would say that we generally follow this rule. Other than the occasional piece of clothing that has to go to the cleaners, our clothes, furniture and "stuff" is easy to clean and not really a hassle.

Base on this synopsis, I'd say that we would get an "F" if graded by Aubrey. My first "F" - oh well! In my book F stands for fantastic!

PS - Aubrey, I have nothing against your rules! I'm just glad I don't have to follow them!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Laundry Detergent

About a month ago I found out that one of my friends makes her own laundry detergent! I have mixed feelings about this. One one hand, I think it would be really cool to make your own detergent for a lot less than you pay to buy brand name detergent. On the other hand, it's more convenient to just buy it at the store and be done with it.

This particular friend has 3 kids, so I can see the benefit of making your own when you have that much laundry to do. I however, am only washing 3 peoples clothes. I do 5 or 6 loads a week and my detergent lasts me forever.

For the first few years of marriage I used powdered detergent and then I started using liquid detergent for my colors. For several years I bought both detergents and recently realized that I was wasting my time and money buying both. I now only use liquid detergent. This brings me to my strange/random question of the day - what kind of detergent do you use? Powder or liquid? Do you make your own?

BTW - here's the recipe to make your own detergent. (it's listed with other food recipes, so scroll down till you find it)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Flashback - Corn

This is my brother eating corn on the cob! I would say he's about 2, but he could be a little younger. Isn't it hilarious how he held the corn up using his other arm? I'm glad he doesn't eat corn like this anymore!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Movin' on up" (cue the Jefferson's theme song)

We're "movin' on up". Well not really - but Mackenzie is "movin' on up" at school. Mackenzie moved up to the toddler class today at school. While they don't normally move kids up just because they turned 18 months, this was a request by us. We asked that she be separated from the little boy who did this:

This is a picture after we got home yesterday. A little boy had bitten her while they fought over a toy. This is the same boy who bit her about a month ago and I think the same one who had scratched her before that. This first picture doesn't clearly show how bad the bite is, so here's the picture from this morning:

And here's what it looked like tonight - 24 hours after the bite.

By the time we go to the doctor on Monday for her 18 month check up. it should be a nice shade of purple for the doctor to ask about!

I can't remember if I've blogged about this, but my mom said when I was younger (about 2 or 2 1/2) I had a boy in my class that also liked to bite. My mom says she taught me to scream when the boy came near me so that the teacher would be right there if he tried to bite me. Unfortunately, Mackenzie is too young for me to teach her that, so we'll just keep the boy away from her by putting her in a new class. Anyways, all is fine and I think she probably cried more about having a new teacher than she did with the bite!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Earls and Ladies and Castles, Oh My!

When I was a junior in High School, my English teacher had all of us do a small genealogy project. We had to go back 5 generations, including ourselves. For me, this was super easy since my great grandparents were still alive. All I needed were the names of my great grandfather's parents and siblings. We obviously had to do other stuff also but as far as creating the family tree, that was easy for me. This project spurred on my interest in researching my family tree and going further than just 5 generations. In college I sent out letters to all of my family members asking questions about their immediate family and bought a genealogy/family tree program so that I could track everyone on my computer. A few years ago, I got a new updated program and was working on the family tree again. I was able to make further progress, but wasn't willing to pay any extra money for any of the online programs that help with tracing your genealogy.

That all changed last week when I was at home with Mackenzie. I decided I would use some of my birthday money to buy a one year subscription here. In less than a week, I have traced my grandmother's family name all the way back to the 1200's in Scotland. Apparently the Gordon Family was once Earls and Ladies and lived in Castles! I think this is really cool and can't wait to dig a little deeper with each person to see what else I find.

I'm also planning to look at all of the lines in my tree as well as Brandon's line. My ultimate goal in all of this is to print a book with the trees, family sheets, pictures and any stories I have of any family member. My aunt's mother-in-law once showed us a book she had made of her family tree and I really liked it. I think it would be awesome to have this history wrapped up all in one book and pass it on to my children. I've already started adding a few pictures here and there for the family members I have photos of. The pictures I'm scanning of my great-grandmothers will also be added.

If you have the time, I highly recommend researching your family genealogy. I think it gives you a whole new perspective on your family and how far they've come. I realize my family is no longer earls and ladies of Scotland, but they did make the trek to the states and with out that, I would not be here!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Flashback - Let's Eat

Is my uncle ready to eat or what?! I'm sure others are at the table and just not in the picture, but it looks like it's all for him! I also like all of the tea glasses and then the baby bottle at the end of the table.
I love that I can tell this is Christmas Dinner. Even without the placemat I knew it was Christmas because there is turkey AND ham at the table. It's been 25 years since this picture was taken and that's still what we eat at Christmas. The first dish is Granny's cornbread dressing. Mmmm! This picture makes me hungry - how about you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Baby Shower

My mom gave me a party favor idea for a baby shower I was helping host this past weekend. First the finished product, then the details for those who care to know.

My mom had made these favors for a baby shower she hosted, so she gave me the small glassine bags and some left over pink M&M's she had ordered. I borrowed the baby stamp set, but the rest of the stuff I actually had. I had to break out my art supplies from school, but I found my colored pencils and I used some sharpies I had to color in some of the stamps. The biggest issue I had was finding more M&M's when I ran out of the ones from my mom. Luckily since Easter is right around the corner, there are plenty of pink M&M's around. Well, there are plenty when you buy several bags! After I realized I was going to run out of pink M&M's even after I had bought 3 bags, I decided to use other colors as well. Here's a close up of the favors and the toppers.

Here is the decorated table for the shower.
Everything was so nice. My friend made homemade cupcakes that were absolutely delicious and another friend made these cute little onesies for the new baby.

Also, if you ever need a punch recipe, I have the perfect one for you! I'm not a big fan of the punch that is usually made at baby showers, so since I was assigned punch for the shower I wanted to be sure it was one I would drink. Here's the recipe:

2 liters of Sprite
2 liters of Hawaiin Punch
1.5 quarts (or however much you want to add) of rainbow sherbet

It was delicious. I have leftover sprite and sherbet here at the house. Now all I need to do is buy some more Hawaiin Punch and I could make a little thing of punch everyday!!! ;)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

8 percent

During my senior year at A&M I took a photography class where I learned how to use an SLR camera and adjust shutter speeds, apertures and all that good stuff. My mother-in-law let me use her camera for the class and I still have it. It just occurred to me that I may not have actually asked to permanently keep the camera. (Cindy, let me know if you need it back.)

Anyways, I used it along with my rather large digital camera until I received my small digital camera for graduation from grad school. Once I got the small digital camera, I rarely used my film camera. I was so excited when I got my digital SLR camera last year because I was really looking forward to using the manual settings. While I was super excited about it, I actually never really used it.

A year later, I finally touched the manual setting. I had another mini photo shoot with Mackenzie outside and kept the camera only on the manual settings. The problem with using the manual settings while taking pictures of a 17 month old, is that they move too much!!! ;) By the time I looked at the light meter and adjusted the shutter speed and f-stop, Mackenzie had changed positions, looked the other way or had quit smiling altogether. I took 38 photos and only about 3 pictures are worth printing. That's approximately 8%! It's a good thing it's digital otherwise I would have wasted A LOT of film!

This morning I played with the manual settings while inside - which is kind of difficult to get right with so little natural light inside. This time it was only 1 or 2 photos of about 40.

Slowly, but surely I'll get better. Maybe by this time next year I'll be using the manual setting much more and will have some awesome pictures. In the meantime, here are the few photos that were decent from the manual settings.




Monday, March 8, 2010

Right on Schedule

Since Mackenzie was about 9 months old, she has gotten sick 1 or 2 weeks prior to or just after every well check visit.

9 months - originally thought it was strep, but something else with a fever and rash
12 months - flu
15 months - strep and double ear infections

As it's a couple of weeks before her 18 month check up, she's right on schedule with being sick again. Once again its strep and double ear infections! There weren't any other symptoms until she woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. We now have medicine and hopefully she can go back to school on Wednesday!

We'll see what kind of illness comes with her 2nd birthday!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Toot! Toot!

Do you remember last Fall when I showed you this building that I worked on? Well, there have been several magazine articles written about it, but this magazine is the one I like! Do you want to know why?

Look closely!
Do you see it?! Do you see my name listed with the other Architects on the project?! How cool is that?!!!! I know it's only my name, but its MY NAME!!!!

I just think it's really cool and had to share my excitement with you guys! Hope you don't mind that I'm tooting my own horn!

By the way, the full article is shown in the link above, if you feel so inclined to read about the project.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nook

Did I tell you I got one of these for Christmas?

I love it! I've promised Brandon not to go crazy on buying books, since it's so easy to rack up the bill since you aren't feeling the weight of the books like you would in a book store!

I also received 5 real books for Christmas, so I've been taking turns reading a real book and then a nook book, real book...you get the idea. My first book of the year was this one:

I really liked this book and received the movie for Valentine's Day. While the movie is good, I think the book is soooo much better!

My next book was a nook book:

I knew this was a fictional book, but I thought it would have a little more about FLW's architecture. Since it's based on a true story about FLW and his mistress, I unfortunately ruined the ending for myself when I tried to google a picture of the mistress. I know I had heard the story at one point while in college, but I completely forgot until I read it on the internet. If you choose to read this book, don't google anything until you are finished! ;)

My next book was a real book:
I read most of this book in one night. It's a fairly easy read and I just couldn't put it down one Friday night. I would recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it.

The book I'm currently reading on my nook is this:
I'll be honest, I'm having a real hard time getting into this book. I'm halfway through and I feel like I'm just forcing myself to read this. I don't really know why I don't like it. It has a good concept and I like cooking and blogging. ;) I feel like it could be the language, but that doesn't usually completely turn me off from a book. I don't know...I really want to see the movie, but want to finish the book first. While most books are better than the movie, I'm really hoping in this case the movie is much better.

For my birthday I received a gift card to buy books for my nook and so Friday night I went shopping online using my nook! I am so proud of my $18 spending spree! I bought 5 books, one of which is the NIV Bible and one of them is a collection of 7 Jane Austin books! So, 10 books and the Bible for $18!!! I definitely have plenty of books to read for the next year!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Flashback - Photo Comparison

While looking for photos tonight, I stumbled upon a picture of my grandmother (aka Granny). As soon as I saw it, I thought of my cousin Chad. I then searched all of my scanned images looking for the picture I saw in my head. I finally found it and this is the comparison.



I don't know if they really look alike or if it's just the furrowed brow. You tell me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Playing Outside

I'll be the first one to admit we don't spend much time outside. And I mean hardly any time outside. The main reason is that we get home about 6 pm and at 6:30 we start our dinner, bath and bed routine. As far as the weekend, I can only say that those are my 2 days I can run errands and do my "chores", which unfortunately don't involve playing outside.

Now that Mackenzie is running everywhere and not really falling at all, I try to let her play outside for a little bit each week. Locking us out of the house didn't exactly make me want to spend more time outside, but I'll get over it! ;)

On Sunday afternoon/early evening, I decided to let her play in the backyard for a little bit while I had a mini photo-shoot. It was a little chilly, so we put her jacket on. These pictures make me think of some sort of work out video.
This would be the running in place.

And this is touching your toes or squats!

Brandon kept zipping up Mackenzie's jacket and...

5 seconds later she would do this!

At the end of every work out, one always needs water...and a girl scout cookie! I'm thinking as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, we'll spend more time outside. I think we will also buy some sort of playset this spring so that Mackenzie has more to play with than a tree and a charcoal grille!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

30 Day Countdown in Cards

For 30 days before my birthday, my mom sent 30 cards to count down my birthday.

Most were hand made, and some were bought, but all of them filled with cute little birthday wishes or very sweet and loving words from my mom. When most of us communicate through email, blogs or cell phones, it was really great to receive snail mail everyday for 30 days! The best day was on the Friday before Valentines. My parents were going out of town that weekend and the following Monday was Presidents' Day, so my mom mailed cards for Friday, Saturday, and Monday. She also mailed Valentine's Day cards for me and Mackenzie. I'm pretty sure the post office thought we were crazy receiving 5 cards from the same address!

The very first card was this one:



That one was a top 10 favorite for sure! My other 9 favorites are these:

This is definitely going on the list of things I want to do for Mackenzie when she turns 30!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Birthday Celebration

To celebrate my birthday, we went to my parents' house for dinner with my family. We had buffalo burgers and all the "fixins". Everything was delicious including the cake which is made to look like a giant oreo cookie.
There are 2 photos for me and Mackenzie sitting here. In this picture I'm looking at my sister taking the photo and Mackenzie is looking at Granny. In the other picture, I'm looking at Granny and Mackenzie is looking at my sister. That's probably how it will always be, huh?

Waiting to blow out the candles - it's a good thing I only had 2 candles! 30 might have set the decorations on fire! ;)

Me being silly. I need to mess with this photo in Photoshop and maybe I could erase the cake stand!

This is me and my fake smile while Mackenzie whines and complains because we aren't cutting the cake fast enough!
Mackenzie enjoyed the presents - or at least playing with the bags. I really like this picture of her. I don't know who she's smiling at, but it's really cute.

As you can see, Mackenzie started getting tired, so we went home after a wonderful night full of family, food and laughter - always lots of laughter!

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Socks

Mackenzie received another package from my aunt Rhonda. This time it was full of beaded or crocheted socks! Mackenzie loves them!
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