Saturday, February 28, 2009

First Hair Cut

Another first for Mr. Sam -- his first hair cut. Ella was two years old. Sam was 10 months. Guess, that is the difference in girls and boys.

It was time. Sam had become Shaggy Sam with hairs growing over his ears and bangs into his eyes. His teachers were giving me a hard time because I was resistant to get it done.

For the most part, Sam did great. He had no idea what was going on, but overall the boy was a good sport. I swear he looks so much older now. Who knew a hair cut could age a kid so quickly?!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Three Years Old, Three Birthdays

The idea of having a simplified birthday for Ella was nice in theory. Instead, it meant: turn three years old and get three birthdays. You can't have birthdays without gifts of course and CAKE. And boy did we have cake.

Dude, this rocks

But I wanted a cake THIS BIG!

Making a Wish

Ella's first celebration was a bit of a surprise as our friends the Comers threw a small, private party for Ella. We gathered together under the impression we were having a long overdue dinner. Instead, we walked into a house decorated with balloons and streamers, and we were fed an amazing dinner of blue-cheese stuffed sirloins, twice-baked potatoes and sauteed asparagus. (My mouth is salivating remembering that delicious dinner.) We then ended the evening with cake and presents. The night definitely lifted our spirits and reminded us of what good friends we are blessed to have.

On Ella's actual birthday, we started the day with a Mr. Stinky Feet concert and ended it with S&T coming over to celebrate. Originally, my mom and stepdad were slated to be there but an avalanche of snow decided to hit Omaha that weekend, so my mom wisely opted not to make the trip. However, she had cake duty. Instead of being stranded without cake for Ella's birthday, Tricia graciously offered to bring cupcakes. She had a bit of a dilemma though. Ella's original cake request was for a blue cake with balloons. From the above picture, you can tell Tricia more than delivered.

Finally, this weekend we wrapped up the nearly month long birthday celebration with my mom. On her birthday, we had wanted to treat Ella to her first Build-A-Bear experience. Forgetting that her birthday is Valentine's Day, we were a bit taken back by the line. It was an hour and a half just to get into the store. Yeah, we skipped that and saved it for this last weekend. I think it was a success, and we managed to get out of the store without spending a fortune. Oh, if you ask Ella about the experience, be prepared to be corrected. It was not Build-A-Bear, it is Build-A-Frog.

So Happy with Huggie

Now, we move on from reflecting about Ella turning three to planning for Mr. Sam's first birthday.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to My Special Valentine

Three years ago today, I met this beautiful creature.
under the warmer.JPG
I was in awe of her, yet overwhelmed at the responsibility of being her mom. We learned a lot that first year. Ella learned to sit up.
Sitting up with some help.
I learned I no longer had possession of my heart.
Party Girls
She made her first friend.
Playing well with others
Through her, we rediscovered the joy of Christmas.
Christmas Magic
And the simple pleasures of a park.
Losing by a hair
We learned even under the most watchful eye, trouble always presents itself.
What happens with no parental supervision
We relished in watching her explore the world around her.
Sweetness and Softness
As we added to the family, she lovingly accepted her new role and opened her heart to her little brother.
Sisterly Love
In three short years, my amazement of my daughter continues today.
Do NOT Disturb the Princess
I love my chatty, sassy, expressive toe-head. Happy Birthday Ella. Thanks for making me a mom, a role I was unsure would fit. As we celebrate the third year of your birth, I hope to treasure the milestones of your life and celebrate your uniqueness. Love you baby girl.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Buried Under Expectations

Life is not fun right now. I know we all have various ups and downs, but I am completely exhausted and frustrated. My work is draining my soul and sucking the life right out from me. It also doesn't help that I internalize the stress and it has caused many sleepless nights that translate into zombie like days. This cycle must stop.

I truly do I like my job and I don't mind the various demands being placed on me, but I have no balance. NONE! I am normally happy to be a working mom, but lately I have been spending more time working than being mom. With my husband out of work, I am thankful for my job and I am keenly aware of my family responsibilities. I happily accept them, but I worry about the impact this is having on my sweet kids. They are getting the leftovers of their mom right now and I want to give them so much more. A good friend reminded me that this is short stint in their lives and they will not suffer irreparable harm by me putting in extra hours and being a little more agitated than usual. It cuts deep though when you precious girl says, "Don't be a mean mom."

I need a break. I need to relax. I need to laugh. I need a date night with my husband.

For these reasons and many more, I am thankful we decided not to have an actual birthday party for Ella. Instead of spending Saturday preparing to entertain guests, I will be spending some much needed quality time with my daughter and son. I have loved having parties for her. This year, it seemed so important to just focus on Ella and to give her the best of me. i am hoping by Saturday I can find that part of me.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Those on Facebook are quite familiar with this meme. I had pondered what items might make my list, however, I never took the time to completely develop it. Before I did, there was the inevitable backlash, so I figure rather than posting it on Facebook, I'll add it to the blog. Here is my list in no particular order:

1. I am specific about the order of ingredients when building a taco. Meat of course is the first layer, which is followed by cheese (I like the cheese to melt slightly), lettuce, tomatoes, and then topped with taco sauce or salsa. Much to the dismay of my husband, I am adamant that cheese must be on top of the meat. Who wants wilted lettuce?

2. I love sailing. I have had the pleasure of sailing twice in my life, but I remember so vividly how easily I grasped the concept. I felt like a natural in the boat. My favorite sailing experience was during a team building exercise at a company retreat. We had to maneuver our yachts through various buoys and secure the best time. My team, largely under my direction, went undefeated in the competition. I long to sail once again.

3. On the same company retreat, we ended our final night with a neon volleyball tournament on the beach. On the very first play of the first game, a colleague went down with a bad ankle sprain. A few games later, I went up to spike the ball and as I came down, I rolled my ankle, and that was unceremoniously the end of the tournament. I ended up being loaded into the back of a GMC Jimmy for the 40 minute drive to the nearest hospital. That 40 minutes was pure hell, but the return trip was so much better thanks to the darvocet the doctor prescribed for me.

4. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I just love the simplicity of the holiday.

5. After coming out of the Lincoln tunnel for the first time, I instantly fell in love with New York City. I can't wait until I can introduce Mike to the city. I also have dreams of taking Ella before she graduates from high school.

5. If I had more leisurely time, I would read and bake more.

6. I hope one day to learn how to play the violin. Guess that will be in retirement.

7. I used to be an avid jazzerciser. Attended more than 1,000 classes. Miss the class and the camaraderie with the other jazzercisers. Make fun of it if you must, but I miss it. Our budget and daily schedule prevent me from going back.

8. I am a better mom because I work. (I stole this from my friend Jennifer.)

9. Mike and I knew our first girl would be named Ella nearly three years before our actually Ella was born. In some ways, I think the name picked us. I just had the pleasure of witnessing my good friend Rene give birth to sweet, sassy Miss Payton. Mike and I ventured to the gift shop to find something for her because we were unprepared for Rene to go into labor that day. In the gift shop, we found a rack of baby Gund animals. Mike and I started reading the names for each animal. When we came across the elephant and we heard Ella, we knew without saying anything to each other that we had found our name.

10. Motorcycles. I understand the appeal of the open road. One of my favorite memories with my dad was riding on the back of his moped/motorcycle. I can't think of anything that gives you such freedom and unique perspective of the world.

11. I am a Brothers & Sister's addict. After every episode, I find myself wishing I lived closer to my brothers. However, after a long weekend with them, I leave thinking maybe some distance isn't such a bad thing. :)

12. One talent I wish I had but don't is singing. I can barely carry a tune. It's quite pathetic. Thankfully my children haven't realized how poorly I actually sing.

13. I have trouble just being and sitting still. I am working on this, thanks to the patience of my wonderful husband. He was shown me how to truly appreciate the moment and a beautiful sunset.

14. My husband and I dated for two months in college before he dumped me after a disastrous Halloween date. We didn't rekindle our friendship until the summer after my graduation. It took us quite a few years before we were ready to take a chance on us again.

15. I am a water child. I need to be near, in or on the water.

16. I didn't grow up camping. I went to camps, but never actually pitched a tent. It wasn't until I started dating my husband that I truly discovered the joys of camping, complete with an air mattress.

17. I believe ice cream makes everything better.

18. My favorite sandwich is grilled cheese (must include some Swiss cheese) and tomato.

19. I have amazing, thoughtful sweet friends who mean so much to me, but sadly I don't get to see them as much as I wish.

20. I have never seen The Godfather trilogy. (But Mike has never seen West Side Story. No real relevance, I just wanted to throw that in.)

21. If I am going to consume a beer, don't give me a pansy light beer. I am more of a dark ale or lager girl.

22. When I was seven, I won the city's "little queen" contest. What is memorable to me is standing on stage answering the judges' questions. I vividly remember giving the answer "oranges" and "Fraggle Rock" to the questions: "What is Your Favorite Fruit?" and "What is Your Favorite TV Show?"

23. Cheese was one of my favorite snacks as a child. My best friend Susie and I would see who could fold a single piece of cheese into the most pieces.

24. I can't drive a stick shift. No one had the patience to teach me.

25. I hate cutting onions but love to cook with them. I cry each and every time I chop them. They burn my eyes so badly that it feels like someone has poured Tabasco sauce in them.

Note: This is Amanda's list not Mike's list as the blog states.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Happy Monday

Lots of pictures posted on Flickr from our adventures this past weekend. We enjoyed the beautiful weather on Saturday and ventured to the zoo. It actually was bribery for Ella. There has been an increase in accidents at daycare. She claims that "I'm too busy to go potty." She was just refusing to stop playing and use the facilities. To encourage her to "listen to her body," we promised her a family fun outing if she had at least two days in a row. She did her her part, so we fulfilled our promise by a trip to the zoo. What a gorgeous day we had!