Welcome to the full swing of my favroite season, Fall.
It is a time of falling leaves, rainy days, cooler temperatures, and cinnnamon spice everything.
Yankee Candle company makes one of my favorite fall scents, Autumn Harvest. Too bad it seems they stopped making tarts? I'd love to have a stash of them in this scent to burn everyday from now til January. It is a mix of crisp Fall leaves, cinnamon, firewood, and a hint of something sweet - vanilla, maybe? anyways, it's delish. Truly Fall in a jar!
We have celebrated a few milestones since my last post and had a few visitors travel through our humble home. Lunabell, our American Staffordshire Terrier, turned 5 on October 19. Grandma and Papa came to visit, as did Autnie Joy, for Squeak's third birthday November 14th. We made the decision to travel north to Michigan for the holidays this year, and I am looking forward to seeing all our family and some of my close friends as well. I'll miss our little snuggly Christmas from last year (truly one of the best Christmas holidays we've ever had) but am excited to resume the huge Christmas of the past! The kids are at ages when they should really understand and enjoy the holiday this year, and I'm hoping we will have some cozy time to remind them of the REAL reason for this amazing season.
We had an Under The Sea mermaid party for Squeak's big day and I am sad to say I didn't get any pictures that day. Grandma took quite a few but I neglected to transfer those over before they headed back north. We decorated a lot (crepe paper seaweed hung from the ceiling, homemade clownfish and jellyfish, tissue paper anemones, a homemade mermaid cake, etc.), got all her fave foods (hawaiian pizza, Chick-Fil-A nuggest and fruit, Goldfish crackers, cut up veggies and a red pepper octopus in the dip), and had a truly great day. Perfect weather, good friends and family, and the little Squeak was happy, happy alllllllll day. Truly an accomplishment for a three year old!
In other Squeak news, she has been lovin' gymnastics and I (we) are so happy for her! I do have a lot of pictures of that. It's hard to get close though! Grandma and I spoke about getting her in a dance class, also, so I will be researching it, too. Here she is on the mat, post somersault. (Impressive, since I was in 4TH GRADE before I learned to do one! Haha)
Bug has been doing amazing - he is such a MONKEY! Climbing and getting into everything, but better on his feet, so not as many bumps and bruises as of late. Combining the kids bedrooms has worked out well so far, although he is still the early riser. I was thrilled he let me sleep til 7:45 today, but on the flip side, Squeak didn't even stir until 9. Haha. You can tell which parent she takes after!
Halloween was great, we had good weather, and an amazing turn out for Trick or Treaters. Geez! As soon as dusk started, they were ringing our bell. I had to refill our candy bowl three times! Squeak was Ariel and Bug, a lion. We waited til Daddy got home at 7 to start our trick or treating and it was a sucess. We made it down two streets, as opposed to the one street of last year. Bug was a little freaked out at first - he'd approach the house with Squeak but once they opened their door, he'd bolt back down the driveway. we finally walked him to a door and made him stay there til the woman offered him some candy. Bingo! That changed his mind. He only ever took one piece, though, no matter how many pieces they would offer him. He'd take the candy, giggle, and then say his version of "Thank you" as he toddled back down the driveway. Priceless.
Let's carve pumpkins Daddy!
I adored (as did the kids and Jeff) having family here for Squeak's birthday, especially Auntie Joy. She is someone I miss terribly and after living in the same house for 2.5 years over the past 4, it never gets any easier to seperate from her when it's time to do so. Love you so much SISSY! And thank your husband for letting you for the week instead of just a couple days. :)
We recently did a family picture session with a family friend and the pictures turned out amazing! I have already used them to order prints and Christmas cards for this year, and saved a bundle over last year - and am SO SO much happier! There is something about doing photos outside that makes a huge difference. Thank you JEN!
I have yet to begin Squeak's homeschooling and with all the craziness of the holidays coming up, I am dragging my feet indoing so. I am nervous about starting a "curriculum" (and I use that term losely) with her, only to lose whatever ground we've gained over the holidays, and have to start over again. I am also really thinking about enrolling her in an actual 4yo preschool program next fall and just forgoing the whole homeschool thing altogether. I, often, try to do too much all at once..... I am fearful this is one of those instances.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded to slow down and dwell (I love to DWELL!) on the things this past year that I am thankful for.... and to thank the One who blessed me so richly with all of them. Here is my little list (so far):
My husband, a man who not only puts up with my organizing, far-fetched dreams, stressing out, sometimes laziness, but loves me and enjoys me for it, not in spite of it.
My two amazing children, who are constant reminders of God's humor, his beauty, his love of life, and his grace, and who remind me how much love I really have to give.
My puppies and my oft-forgotten lizard
My home and all that is in it
An amazing church and church family
Cherry Coke ( yes, it's an addiction, but I love it and truthfully... I need it)
Entourage Salon & Spa - my "work" family
PBS Kids programming and Animal Planet.... helping me make my children lovers of all animals
My friends - old and new, local and far away, I love you all
The oppurtunity to mother my children, to take care of my family and home, full time
My Lord and Saviour - without whom I would have nothing, and through whome I can do and have everything - you give me strength, purpose, peace, and joy. You have blessed me beyond measure. I love you.
I close with a favorite quote from a favourite blog:
"I’m also learning that while I might feel like a ping-pong ball, bouncing from one child
to the next throughout the day, God is doing kingdom work in their hearts and mine.
Every hug, every book, every kind word, every laugh, every kiss, every correction,
every sleepless night, it’s all working together for something greater. And He promised that
if I don’t grow weary in doing good (and this work is good),
Yes, that's right. We have transferred (mostly) everything over from the iMac to a brand new HP desktop, which I am presently typing away on in our (in the process of being re-designed) third bedroom. (More on that later) The new computer is nice, but has taken a little bit of getting used to; no matter how much the iMac aggravated me, there are a few "short-cuts" I had grown used to. However, I am much happier already with a PC instead of the iMac (sorry tech-y friends).
J and I, after much thought on our current living situation, the housing market, our "other house" (the condo), our life plan, etc. have recently decided on trying really hard to maximize the space we have in The Little House, since we are now (firmly) planning to stay in it until God and the Navy move us elsewhere. J just remarked the other day how this is the first time, in the year and a half that we've lived here, that he really feels like we are "moving in." Strange, but when you think about it, we moved in here much like we moved into the condo: we needed a place now + it was available = welcome! So, my apologies to The Little House for not appreciating you in the beginning and please prepare yourself to be modified and maximized.
Another good side effect of all this power purging and space repurposing is that it is going to force proud Me to post some pictures of Little House (finally) so you can all pat me on the back about my awesome decorating skills.
We are still working into a steady weekly routine here. I had hoped by now to have the printer set up so I could start making my workbooks for Squeak but it hasn't happened yet. We do have a few weekly outings I hope to make habits: the Virginia Aquarium has a great Toddler Trek program on Thursday, that gets the kids outside and learning about animals, and with our membership, it's free! Wednesday nights at church, they offer a "Family Night" which includes a home cooked dinner and kids activities, plus a bible study for adults. It's also the night when they have Adult Choir practice - I'm planning to be a part of that (pray for some courage! It's been a long time since I've sung in public for performance purposes!).
Tonight is Halloween and I am excited for both of the kids to have an active role in Trick Or Treating tonite! We will be staying home to hand our candy at first, as J has to fly tonite until 6:30 or 7pm. I am hoping he gets done a little early and can head home so we can get out to get some candy ourselves. Last year, Big was so little he just stayed in J's arms and it was Squeak who got all the candy. We made it down and around our little Court and that was it, so we will see how we do this time. I'll post pictures later this week of them in their costumes!
On the cooking front, I modified my mom's Monkey Bread recipe to make individual jumbo "muffins" instead of the usually bundt loaf. The original ingredients made 10 muffins and by the next day I only had 2 left! That stuff is so good. I am also making a Loaded Baked Potato Soup in the slow cooker for tonite (from Crock Pot Girls). I'm hoping to make peanut butter cookies with M&M's in them this week with Squeak.
That's all for today! Have a great week!
Hello blogging world.
I need to get back into the swing of this damn thing. Pardon my french.
We have had a happy holiday season, a great 1st birthday for Bug, a busy (and sometimes, very trying) summer, and, with Fall, a lot of changes in our household.
I left my position at the Spa, although I loved my co-workers and loyal clients, just a few weeks ago, to be a full time stay at home mom to Bug and Squeak. It has been excited and interesting, sometimes exhausting, so far, and it's only been a week! I am loving all the time with my babies, though, and I think it is going to work out swimmingly. We attending our first MOPS meeting this past Monday and it was amazing. I already know I am going to love my two Mondays a month with this amazing group of Moms. If any of you have not tried a MOPS group, I can really encourage you to find one! They are faith based, uplifting and inspiring, and totally dedicated to the most important job we as moms have - being a happy, healthy, and successful CEO of our families! It really was a great morning; I can home with a little girl who knew "This Little Light of Mine" and an apple crisp all ready for the oven or to be frozen to use later, plus lots and lots of reinforcement that Moms are Important! I froze my apple crisp- we already had blueberry muffins and Biscuit & Cherry Mini Pies made for this week!- but look for the recipe at the end of this post.
I am disappointed that we missed the registration for story and rhyme time at our local library; we will have to wait until January to register again! Geez. Who knew it could fill up so fast! It goes for 8 weeks after the holidays when it starts up again, so that will be a great addition to our Tues/Thurs schedule.
Right now, as far as the "school" section of our days, I am still researching and formatting what I want to accomplish and how structured I want it to be. I am strongly leaning towards the ABC curriculum I found at Totally Tots with the intention to move Squeak into her Rock Stars curriculum over the summer or when we run out of letters :) . (Those of you that are familiar with our kids and the daycare we were going to before, she had moved into the preschool classroom in June, ahead of schedule, but when the kids returned from the Michigan trip in August, she was put back into the 2s room and regressed terribly. She started having bathroom accidents again, an awful rude attitude, and has lost a lot of her letter and number recognition skills. So depressing. I think if I had pulled them at the end of the summer, pre-trip, we wouldn't be doing as much of the Totally Tots curriculum as I plan too. Oh well! It's good stuff anyways!)
The kids are blossoming everyday and have developed so much of their own personalities. Squeak has always been very strong-willed and a "force of nature" (I think she gets it from her Grandma Bobbie and Grandma Jeanne. It's definitely an Ostrander trait!) and progresses much in that direction still now. She is very bossy when she wants to do something or have something, and I think that (altho somewhat frustrating now) will make her a strong leader as she gets older. She can explain herself quite well and is very articulate for her age. She also needs focus or can get into trouble.... hence the need for some sort of a daily/weekly schedule and some sort of activity! :) She is tall for her age and strong, the pediatrician said according to the growth chart, she's as big as a 5 year old! Can both be good and bad.... sometimes, just by glancing at her, some people forget she is young and expect too much. She's only (almost) three!
Bug has just started to come into his personality. He is still quiet for the most part and very very snuggly and sweet. He is also very sneaky and mischevious. Here come the "boy" traits! :) It has made being home extra fun, as the two of them are so very attached to eachother. Squeak is very attentive to Bug and Bug follows her and mimics her to no end (both good and bad things!). He has finally started throwing little "fits" when he doesn't get something he wants and he lets you know (loudly) when he's hungry! He loves milk and will eat until you take the food away. I think he is making up for being so petite in the early days. He has gotten taller too and is finally in clothing close to his actually age (18mo shirts and 12mo pants!). He loves the dogs especially and BOOKS. Good Lord, doe the boy love his books! He can sit for a half hour and just look thru book after book. Hopefully this is an early indicator of a lifetime love of reading! I am so blessed to have both of my kids like books!
I think this will be the end of my update for today. Thank you for staying up to date with us.
Blessings on your Fall season from here in Virginia!
Make-Ahead Apple Crisp
Apple Peeler (if desired)
Apple Corer (if desired)
Two large Ziploc Bags
4-5 Good sized baking apples (I like Granny Smith, but I like tart!), cored & sliced (peeled if desired)
1 Tbsp Orange Juice
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 Stick of butter
1/2 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Quick Oats
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
In one Ziploc bag, combine sliced apples, orange juice, sugar and cinnamon. Shake well to coat all apples.
In the other ziploc bag, squish butter, packed brown sugar, flour, quick oats, and nutmeg together until well blended.
**You can now freeze the two bags for future use or bake right away!
When you are ready to bake it, pour apple mixture into a greased baking pan and srinkle on the topping from the other bag (you do not need to thaw them!). Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, slightly longer if frozen.
This weekend was a gorgeous one, filled with a beautiful wedding down in Manteo NC (Rhi was a excellent flower girl, my husband a dashing groomsman), and much needed time at home after our first week back to work for this Mama and "school" (which is what we are calling daycare) for Rhi & Jamey.
However, it also got me to thinking about a few things.
Driving through the countryside of Great Bridge and Deep Creek Chesapeake and into NC before you hit the hustle of OBX made me feel so warm and fuzzy and homey...... all the things that I don't feel in VB, unless I am actually in my home.
I may have fought this realization for a long time, but it turns out this city girl really craves the easy, carefree feeling of country living. Here in VB, every moment is so rushed and packed to the brim with meeting this criteria or living up to so-and-so's standard of living, competing for every parking space and friend's time and best-behaved child..... it makes me sick just thinking about it. All things that, especially in the long run, don't matter one bit. The things that really matter: good solid friendships, stolen moments spent with your family doing simple things, meals cooked from scratch, a job done well and to last... are lost in the 8-lane roadways, double turn lanes and privacy fencing.
I started a job last week. Working almost 40 hours a week, Tuesday through Saturday, at a salon & spa down by the oceanfront. I put the kids in a daycare program. All decisions I made and I still take responsibility for. I think some important people in my life may disagree with those decisions, say I am wasting the most precious time in my children's lives on pursuing a selfish need to work this craft I am licensed for. And in some ways, those people may be right. I am a firm believer, though, that the kids will be happier in the long run because I was a happier person. Staying at home was making me feel stir-crazy and in turn, cranky and short-tempered. Just in one week, I have felt that start to lift and I know my time with my family has been better for it.
But driving down to this wedding this Saturday, passing by those small Mom-and-Pop stores and restaurants, seeing "big" pieces of land, expanses of grass and trees, smelling a fire burning...... made me feel more fulfilled than any job probably ever could. So, I am stuck once again, faced with the thought that maybe what I needed wasn't to work this craft I am licensed for, but to work so that I can come home to an expanse of grass and trees, a porch, and no streetlights..... I feel like that is a sense of freedom that I am crying inside for my children, these two and those to come, to have every day.
So.... does that mean I need to work a job to stash some money away for that home in the country, so it's a little more within reach a little sooner? Is that my fulfillment, what I was craving that pushed me out of the house and my children into school? (However, let me note that daycare has been fantastic for Rhi and is providing her with an opportunity to expand her social skills and learn a lot. It's definitely been a great thing for her, despite whatever reason it started.)
This job terrifies me in a lot of ways. I am under an immense amount of pressure. But, I have the opportunity to do something I love, yes.
I am still struggling with what is more important, though: working as a hairstylist or working and coming home to that house in the trees, far away from the things I dislike so much about where we are, where the salon is, (things that, in my job, I help people to perpetuate?) right now.
Hello everyone! We are doing wonderfully down here in VB. We have had my mom, the GG, here for a few days and have gotten even better settled in to our little house. We are all thankful she was able to come down and spend some time with us, and thankful, also, of the help that Grandma, Papa, Grandma Bobbie and Auntie Joy were able to provide us on the initial trip! There are only a few boxes left now. :) As some of you know, Rhiannon has been having some gastro-intestinal issues since we began the packing/moving process, experiencing only loose stools/diarrhea. Unfortunately, it has yet to improve (going on three weeks now) and since we were unable to resolve it with some diet changes at home, we have made two trips to the pediatrician here to get an idea of what is going on. The pediatrician has decided to cut all milk from Rhi's diet (can have soy milk only), no fruit (only one banana per day has been cleared and a small amount of applesauce), no juice, no oily/greasy foods. She can have three meals, two snacks, per day and they should be as "dry" as possible (bread, crackers, dry cereal, noodles, etc.), and 8 ounces of Pedialyte every other day. We are to keep her well hydrated, 16oz of soy milk and water always available. Then, we are also to make an appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist at the hospital and see what they have to say. It could be another month before we can be seen by that doctor, so we are to maintain as well as possible until then. We had a stool culture run on Saturday and it came back negative for everything, so infection has been ruled out. The ped. said today that this has been going on for such a long time now, that "just an upset tummy" or moving stress can be ruled out. Something in her gut is not happy, so these are the steps we have to take to find out what it is and how to fix it. She is also nursing a cough/runny nose right now, so our little girl is fairly unhappy most of the time. :( We are making do, though, and many trips to the beach, playing in the yard, and a heavy dose of Barney on the bad days has been making it okay. Please keep her in your prayers as we continue to work thru this! On another note, Jamey is thriving. He is getting bigger everyday, more alert, and is an all around very happy and easy-going Little Dude. He smiles often, especially at his sister. Jeffery and I are well.