Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Decorating

Thanksgiving is done... 
SO NOW IT'S TIME FOR CHRISTMAS! 
Hooray!  Hooray! 
I love Christmas. 
I love gift-giving. 
I love gift-getting. 
I love Christmas music. 
And I LOVE Christmas decorations. 
 
Black Friday is our Christmas-decorating day.
And by "our" I mean MINE.
The Grinch Adam brings up the boxes from the basement. 
And then returns them to the basement. 
I decorate. 
I was particularly excited for this year, 
because Aaron (at 20 months) is finally at the age of appreciation. 
Maybe not appreciate Christmas, per se, but appreciate the decorations. 
And oh how he did. 
I did all the decorating while he was napping, then brought Aaron down for the SURPRISE. 
He was SO psyched. 
He pointed to every ornament, snowflake, and light. 
Repeating each one. 
"On-ma" 
"Sowww" 
"Light." 
So CUTE. 
We also gave him his first present to open. 


His first Nativity! 


He has played with it every moment since. 
 And he knows who Baby Jesus is. 
And by "knows" I mean he can pick out the Baby Jesus Little People. 
To which Adam immediately starts with 
Sigh. 
This is a hopeless, heathen house. 
And now time for our tour... 

Stockings. 


Our Window Sill Christmas Village. 



 My Precious Moments Nativity. 
Complete with little flickering electric tea lights I found buried in the boxes. 
And a whole mess of random decorations I've kept since childhood.
And finally, our little fake tree, 
complete with Aaron's first present.
 Aaron LOVES LOVES LOVES the tree.
We often find him sitting in the corner, just looking at the tree.
As for being "gentle" with the tree, 
I'd give him a solid A+. 

We've stressed "one finger" touching of the tree. 
It took about 24 hours to catch on. 
He had some particular temptation with our White House Car Ornament. 

The first evening with the tree, 
I'm lying on the couch and I hear from under the dining room table: 
"Cah!  Cah!" 
(Car Car)
 "Aaron, what do you have?" 

My sweet innocent angel child RUNS out from under the table, 
TOSSES the car ornament at the tree, 
and runs away shaking his head "Noooo!  Noooo!  Noooo!" 

One of those parenting moments where you have to leave the room because you are laughing so hard. 


Coming up this week, 
I'm going to be posting my other favorite part of Christmas 
(GIFTS) 
including: 
and 

I know you are just BITING YOUR NAILS in anticipation.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving '14

This Thanksgiving was perfect. 

Which is really a jerk thing to say, 
since my parents were in Hawaii. 
I'm not saying Thanksgiving was better without them, 
I'm just saying it was a perfect day.
Which I really needed after yesterday's killer of a day

The day started off with a slow - but enjoyable - 3.5 mile run. 
I wore my new Underarmour shirt and L.O.V.E.D. it. 
 I normally run 11 minute miles, but today was 12 minute miles. 
 Yes, that was a total brag sentence. 

Got back in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. 
And new this year featured a brand new THOMAS balloon. 
Seriously, our house is obsessed

Like Adam's man cave?  I laid no claim to decorating rights. 
Just wanted to disclaim that.

I told Aaron that Aunt Melissa and Aunt Rebecca were coming 
and he stood at the door waiting with baited breath. 



Finally... 
"Betka!" (Rebecca

We munched on day-old cold pizza. 
(Fun fact: The day before Thanksgiving is #1 day for pizza consumption in US.)
And those of us older than 21 sipped on my way-too-fabulous sangria 
(second brag sentence of this post; trust me, there will be more)
and then my17-yr-old sister drove us all to Adam's parents house. 
Score for underage siblings. 

My go-to wine glass.  You know you want one. 


 At my in-laws, we over-ate copious amounts of Thanksgiving Day fare, 
and then piled in the living room to watch the Eagles KICK BUTT on the Cowboys. 
Woot woot. 

At halftime, we announced "cake time" (pie & oreo truffles). 
Aaron drops his toys and runnnnssss to the dining room shouting "YAYYYYY!!!!" 

Seriously, I didn't even know that my child knew was cake was. 
We never have cake at home. 
Ever. 
Who is feeding my child cake? 



Then BACK to the family room for more Eagles. 
Which included a reading of Cat in the Hat by PopPop. 



And finally, poor Aaron, stuffed full of food and exhaustion, 
demanded to sit in "Mama's" lap and zone out to the "foof-ball" game. 
This child never cuddles. 
Mommy was in bliss. 
My little Turkey.



Again we were chauffeured home in our own car (so spoiled, tehehe), 
and we are now all camped out on the couch watching Divergent. 
Which is probably the one movie that I love 10,000x times more than the book. 

Like I said, a perfect Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

That Went South So Fast

Today started out great. 
And then it went south all in one hour.

 
I was working from home since everyone at work is doing the same. 
Of course "working from home" is like 5% work and 95% household stuff. 
Adam took Aaron to daycare and the morning was going so well
Our cleaning lady came which is basically the equivalent of Christmas morning to me. 
I organized Christmas gifts, did laundry, etc. 
Our first "snow" has started and I decided to run last minute errands to the KOP mall and Post Office before both become a clusterf**k of holiday madness. 

The mall was quiet and pretty. 



But the roads were getting slick, so I decided to swing by Aaron's daycare and get him pre-nap so we could come home and not worry about going anywhere this afternoon. 

And that's when it started to go south... 

In the parking lot, I slid into a teacher's car. 
Nothing says "thanks for taking care of my child" like a nice ding on the car bumper! 
I take in my insurance info and apologize profusely to the very-gracious teacher. 
I then proceed to LEAVE my insurance info there and not realize until my drive home. 

Well, I sure as hell am not going back for it now! 
I call the daycare director who laughs at my misfortune (I would too) and says she'll hold it till Monday. 
So basically, we can't get pulled over in the Acura this weekend. 
Humph. 

I get home and realize that Aaron's sleepsack never got to the dryer 
(yes, he still uses the sleepsack at 20 months
so I already know his naptime routine is a mess. 

Of course, I get him down just after 1pm and 56 minutes later he's STILL AWAKE. 
Which really means I should have just left him at daycare to nap and pick him up after. 
Lesson Learned. 

THEN... 
just to top it off... 
I decide to reheat some leftovers from the freezer for my lunch 
and find that our freezer apparently thawed and refroze. 
I have no idea when this happened or how long its been this way. 




Anyone have an idea if the frozen raw chicken and raw pork tenderloins are safe or if I should throw them out?  This is usually a question I ask my mother but she's off having a lovely holiday in Hawaii with my dad. 

 Oh, and about 10 seconds ago, I got a scathing email from work about a crappy file I shouldn't have sent on to some important people. 

:: insert multiple expletives here :: 

I might break out the Thanksgiving Sangria a day early.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Day Out with Thomas and Friends!

This past weekend we went to a Day out with Thomas
which was, by far, one of our most successful "fieldtrips" with Aaron. 
We've done zoos and pools and play areas, 
but this was by far both Aaron's favorite AND our favorite. 

  
To back up a little, 
let me first talk about Thomas. 
If you didn't know already, Thomas & Friends is an animated British TV show about talking trains and the lessons they learn on a day-to-day basis. 
Thomas has been on TV for 30 years now (since 1984), 
so while I never watched it myself 
(Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers all the way...)
I do remember it from my teenagers babysitting days.

Adam, Aaron, and I started watching Thomas after our nephew's Thomas-themed 2nd birthday party, where (at the request of my sister-in-law) all of our gifts were part of the Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway set.  
If you haven't seen the show, I bet you've at least seen the train sets. 

Like most parents, I'm well aware of the dangers of TV on little minds. 
I do like Thomas because they are 11 minute episodes, with no frenetic activity. 
Basically, its a perfect small dose of TV. 
(Unfortunately, Aaron will only watch it on our laps... 
so while it gives me 11 quality minutes with my iPhone, 
what I'd really like is 11 quality minutes cleaning the kitchen!)

Moving on... 

Of course, because Adam and I are MATURE adults with Totally Appropriate Humor, 
we have our own interpretation of Thomas:
 
Thomas and his friends are a bunch of fuck-ups. 
Every day they are given a task, and somehow fuck it up. 
They then learn their lesson, and are magically able to "make it right."

Sir Topham Hat, an obese balding dude, manages the railway.
At first, we thought he was a micromanaging jerk of a boss, 
but then we realized he has to be a micromanager 
because his engines are a bunch of morons. 

For example...
One episode, the firefighter train Flynn finds out that Sir Topham Hat's shed is on fire, 
but because Flynn is down and out that day, 
he takes his jolly good time getting to the shed because he doesn't think he's special. 
Finally he gets to the shed and realizes the crowd is cheering for him as a hero
With a renewed sense of purpose, Flynn puts out the fire. YAY. 


For the record, that shed should be in ashes by now. 
If I was Sir Topham Hat, Flynn would be in the scrapyard 
and I'd use my shed insurance money to buy a new firefighting engine.


All of the engines have their own personalities. 
There's dozens of engines (an entire wall at Toys R Us), 
but as a smattering example...

Gordon is a pompous asshole who pulls the Express (he is also our favorite). 
Emily is a know-it-all with a superiority complex (sounds like they named her right)
Caitlin is a new high speed steam engine with severe ADD. 
Ferdinand is a "logging loco" train who probably has brain damage. 
Percy is Thomas' best friend and a little bitch. He's such a whiner. 
Percy was also in attendance at the traveling Thomas show:


So that's the Mature Adult Rendition. 


Back to a Day Out with Thomas... 
Thomas tours around the nation throughout the year, 
including 3 stops at Strasburg Railroad
about an hour+ outside of Philadelphia near Lancaster. 
I found out, after posting our photos to facebook, that many people drive upwards of 4+ hours to this event. So yeah, it's a big deal. 

For $21/person (ages 2 and up), you have a 22-minute train ride on Thomas, a painted fully-functioning steam engine.  It's not cheap, but its pretty cool. 

In addition, they have dozens of activities, food, and - of course - merchandise. 

Now, thanks to my awesome narration, 
I know you are PSYCHED to get to the events of the day. 

Waiting in line. 
Thomas is pulling up!


Walking to the car... 


Boarding... 
Aaron wanted to walk up the steps ALL BY HIMSELF. 

In our seats and staring out the open window. 
Aaron was MESMERIZED. 
He didn't move a muscle the entire 22 minute train ride. 
He would point at the horses (its Lancaster county, after all), 
but he didn't say a thing until the train came to a stop and we started to get out...
"More!  More!  More!  More!"

But we moved on to other activities, 
like riding a miniature-gauge steam engine, 
temporary tattoos (ok, we didn't, but Adam REALLY wanted to), 
eating soft pretzels, 
sending Adam back to the car to find my iPhone because I was certain it dropped out of my pocket... yup, I'm that wife. 


Now that each one of my faithful readers (assuming I have more than one, which is a lofty assumption) is racing to buy tickets to the nearest Day Out with Thomas, 
I should also add in my personal tips/hints

1. For Strasburg, tickets sold out a week in advance. I was surprised at this!
 
2. Timing is key. In Strasburg, parking is extremely limited so if you're part of the later trains, you will have to shuttle bus (via school buses) from a satellite lot. Strasburg recommends arriving an hour before ticketed time to ensure shuttle time. 

3. However, in Strasburg, activities start only 15 minutes prior to first train.  So on Sunday, the first train was 10:15, so all the activities started at 10.  So don't get there an hour before the first train or else your kid will be B.O.R.E.D. and you will be in hell. 

4. Knowing all of the above, we chose tickets for 2nd train time of the day (10:45). We got there at 10, right as activities were starting, but there were still spaces in the adjacent lot.  We will most certainly do this again. 

5. If you're with a big group (like we plan to do in the future), line up as soon as you can for your train departure.  There are no assigned seats, so if you want to sit together, you need to be among the first to find space to sit together. 

6. What to do with kids in line for 20 minutes?  FOOD. 
A soft pretzel entertained Aaron for 15 minutes, and then we boarded. 

7. Bring ear-plugs if you're going to ride Percy. 
Percy is a fake-steam-engine (IMPOSTER!) and Percy's train is actually pulled by a diesel engine, which is quite loud.  Aaron didn't mind the noise, but some kids do. 

 

Overall, a great experience. 
All the way home, Aaron repeated: 
"Riiiidde.  Riiiddde.  More.  More."
I later found out that one of my NYC facebook friends
(you know, that single fabulous friend that we all live vicariously through...) 
works at the agency that does all the PR for Thomas. 
My only suggestion? 
Mimosas for the moms. 


Friday, November 21, 2014

Aaron's Stories

Aaron is rapidly approaching the age where he has a lot to say, 
but not enough words to say it in. 



Although his vocabulary is limited, he wants to tell us about things. 
Here are my favorites. 


On the way home from daycare... 

Aaron: "Maya." 
(reference: Maya is the little girl at daycare he has a total crush on) 
Me: "What about Maya?" 
A: "Siiiiiide." 
Me: "You went outside?" 
A: "Uh oh." 
Me: "Did something go uh oh outside." 
A: "Maya. Uh oh." 
Me: "Maya went uh oh outside?" 
Silence.  
Story is complete.  
We'll never find out exactly what happened to Maya.


One night after visiting MomMom/PopPop's house, 
who have a beautiful porcelain polar bear from Alaska... 
PopPop = "BopPop"
MomMom = "Mama" (same as "Mommy")

Aaron: "Bayer." 
Me: "Yes, did you see a bear today?"
A: "BopPop" 
Me: "Yes, PopPop has a bear."
A: "Mama." 
Me: "Yes, MomMom has a bear too." 
A: :: growling noise :: 
Me: "Yes, bear growls."
 End story.

Another on way home from daycare... 
A: "Nuk" (Milk)
Me: "Did you have milk at daycare?" 
A: "Uh oh." 
Me: "Did the milk go uh oh?" 
A: "Faah. Nuk." 
Me: "Did the milk fall down at daycare?" 
End Story. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Kitchen is Trying to Break Up with Me

My kitchen is trying to break up with me. 
It keeps giving me all these subtle hints that it doesn't want me around. 
I am standing strong, but I fear this is a losing battle. 
And soon our relationship will be unrepairable. 

Let's recap: 

First there were the frozen meatballs 


And tonight, my kitchen hit me TWO big whoppers: 

First, the shattered measuring cup: 

(cue Aaron's little voice "uh-oh, uh-oh")



And then Spiced Rum Cupcakes with the forgotten oil: 


When I googled "cupcakes without oil" the response was that the cupcakes could be ok, but they would just be very dry. 
However, when I taste-tested one, the one without oil was actually INSANELY moist 
... maybe even TOO wet (maybe its the 3/4 cup of rum??). 
Tomorrow I'll do a comparison between the half with the oil and the half without. 

Short Story: My Kitchen Hates Me.


Yet, no matter how cruel my kitchen treats me, 
Aaron still loves the kitchen like the greatest play toy of all times.

and 
now the fridge water dispenser. 


He figured out how to push the lever with the water bottle... 


... So the water comes pouring out on him. 

It's so funny that I can't even bear to tell him no. 

:: laughing :: 
"Ya!  Ya!" 
(Water! Water!) 
:: laughing :: 
"Ya! Ya!"  

Yes, yes, Aaron, water is fun.
 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Random Blurbs from The Day

Tonight I was supposed to cook this blush mac&cheese for tomorrow night's dinner, 
but I got distracted by a mountain of pkgs and am now sitting here writing a blogpost.
Looks like we'll have buttery noodles again tomorrow night! 
Nutrition at it's finest: white carbs and pure fat. 
My dietician mother would be so proud.

 On the flip side of our unhealthy meal, 
I went for a run after work / before daycare pickup.
I started this habit a few months ago when I realized that 4pm is when the kids play outside, and Aaron does NOT want to leave daycare during outside time! 
So I leave work at 4, go for a 2-3.5 mile run, then pick up my baby.

So how was today's run? 
Well, let me sum it up this way.....

IT'S F**KING COLD OUT. 

Both yesterday and today were a high of 31 degrees. 
 I repeat, 31 degrees.  
 BRRRR!

(Obv, the daycare does not go outside in this weather, but now Aaron is used to being picked up at 5 so I still run after work.  Just wanted to clarify this so I didn't sound like a horrible mother who picked an insane daycare that lets toddlers outside in 31 degree weather.  Tangent complete.)

I bundled to the max, but still had this awkward exposure between my running leggings and my socks.  Solution? These bright yellow wrist bands from a company event. 
Works great as ankle bands!


This is yet another moment of me being proud of my victorious solution and needing to share it with the general public.


Getting home from work, we had a MOUNTAIN of packages at our front door. 
And while six of them were Christmas gifts 
(because I'm an proactive online shopper like that), 
there were two here-and-now pkgs: 
Aaron's snow gear and my StitchFix!

Aaron looked pretty darn cute in his snow suit. 


Although now that we have the snow suit and boots, 
I can GUARANTEE you that we will not see one snowflake this winter. 
The entire city of Philadelphia should be sending me thank you cards!

I also got my StitchFix box, which I previously blogged about here
I kept 3 amazing shirts and sent back 2 (1 too big and 1 not my style).
I took this fantastic grainy photo to show just how much I love one of the blouses I kept. 
Metallic polka dots on black?  I just died and went to Shirt Heaven.
 


And onto my favorite humorous moment of the night... 

In order to prep our healthy dinner of buttery pasta, 
I let Aaron play in the [dirty] dishwasher with his Little People. 

I know it sounds BEYOND gross, but I swear there was no raw meat and all the dishes were no older than last night. Judge away, but that's my justification! 

All of a sudden, I hear: 
"Eh!  Eh!  Eh!"

I turn around to this: 

Me: "Aaron, are you stuck?" 
Him: "Eh!" (not releasing finger) 
Me: "Do you need help?" 
"Hap!" 

Lemme tell you, that finger was stuck GOOD. 
I started planning what oils and butters and vaseline I could use to lube it up. 
But I finally got the finger out, without a chirp of pain from him. 

And what does that thankless little dude do? 
Goes ahead and tries to get it stuck all over again. 
Sigh.

And finally, a throwback to last night:
Let's talk parchment paper.
I made these sweet potato biscuit 
and although I usually just spray the damn cookie sheet, 
the recipe said to use parchment paper. 
Since it was the first time making said biscuits, I complied. 
Fact: I CANNOT properly tear parchment paper. 
It is not in my DNA. 


 And you know what? 
That sad little misshapen biscuit made from scraps that didn't make it onto the parchment paper? 
It turned out just fine!

So take that, Parchment Paper Advocates!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Work

As a working mom, I spend ~40 hours of my week away at my office. 
Assuming I sleep 10-6 every night, 
that's 36% of my waking hours. 
(That number seems low, but I triple-checked my math)

It always interests me what working moms (or anyone, really) do for a job. 
To me, a job says a lot about the person and what they hoped to do with their life. 
I say "hoped" because I think a very small % of people are at their dream jobs. 

So in my typical narcissistic way, 
I figured I'd do a little post about my job. 

I work in Finance at nationwide construction-products manufacturer, 
with a parent company in Europe (international accounting, YAY!). 
I won't say who only because there are enormous legal implications if I talk smack. 
In fact, those legal implications are one of Adam's firm's specialties. 

My background is in public accounting (Deloitte - where I met Adam) 
and a brief stint at a helicopter-manufacturer that I often refer to as the 
Toxic Work Environment. 

My commute is a grand total of 8-12 minutes, depending on traffic.
Which is completely unheard of in the Philadelphia area. 
Most of my friends (and husband) average 45 minutes to an hour+ commute. 
I walk out the door at 7 and am work by 7:15.
In comparison, Adam leaves the house at 7:45, drops off Aaron at daycare at 8, catches the train by 8:25ish, and walks into his office in Center City around 9. 

Lemme say it again: 
I heart my 8-12 minute commute.


Now, for the anticipated office tour... 
(just admit you're on the edge of your seat)

As OCD as I am about our house, my office is generally a mess. 
A sanitary sterile mess, 
but still a mess. 

View from my office door: 



Notice the open Nalgene bottle. 
I've only spilled it ONCE. 
Which is amazing 
and also means I'm overdue for another spill.

The wall you can't see from my office door: 


With the whiteboard that I NEVER use. 
Why use a giant whiteboard when billions of trees have sacrificed their lives for 8x11 printer paper?
 
The view from my chair. 
 
See that stripe of white and pink duct tape? 
That's my crafty Macgyver solution to the window shade gap. 
Because I pumped until Aaron was a year old. 

Occasionally, someone new will come in and notice the pink duct tape. 
I'll casually explain it was for pumping. 
And then they awkwardly make their exit at that time. 


And the barely-visible-gray exercise ball is from when we had an educational seminar on ergonomic posture.  So I brought in an exercise ball to sit on. 
As you can tell, it gets a lot of use over there in the corner.


My actual desk. 
CLEARLY, I don't believe in staged photos. 



My shoe pen-holder, shoe daily calendar, and shoe tape dispenser. 
(I've never once used tape, just fyi)
Plus shutterfly calendar and random pics of my child from daycare. 
The column of post-its to remind me about things I always forget. 
Mostly passwords.  
The apple that's been there for 2 days because everyone keeps bringing in their leftover Halloween candy, dammit.

Oh, and the wrapping paper is for our Finance department's Holiday Angels. 
I don't normally keep wrapping paper on my desk year-round. 
But the rest of the mess is pretty typical year-round mess.


So now that the tour is complete, the BURNING question, of course, is:

Do I love my job? 
No, not really. 
But I certainly don't hate it. 
I call it my "mom job" : 
my 7am-4pm job that pays very well 
and I very rarely have to work outside of normal business hours 
(both my previous jobs had 12+ hour workdays
I really like my coworkers. 
They are a really nice assortment of just-out-of-college peeps,
(the kind that make me feel grossly older than I should at age 29
coworkers with elementary-age kids, 
and coworkers with college-age-and-beyond kids. 
I believe the term for that is "diversity." 
Go us for being diverse!
I don't hang out with my coworkers outside of work 
(unlike previous jobs --- like where I married my coworker), 
but everyone is polite with a great sense of humor (key!).  
None of that catty back-stabbing crap that sometimes goes on in workplaces. 


So then... 
What would be my dream job? 

I'm SO GLAD you asked!

My dream job wouldn't be so much a "job" as a "progression": 

1) Win the lottery (crucial)
2) Go to a Culinary Arts school and actually learn how to cook 
3) Also go to "Wine School" to get my sommelier certification 
4) Open a Wine & Tapas bar, where I am the "silent investing partner" 
and my co-partner does all the real day-to-day grunt work.

If anyone wants to help me out in this dream, PLEASE let me know.

Would I ever want to be a SAHM? 
(Stay-at-home-mom, though I suspect if you're still reading this, you are already knowledgeable of the mom-blog-world lingo). 

Eh. 
As an actively-nursing mother, the answer was a RESOUNDING YES. 
1,000,000 times over yes. 
Pumping is the world's worst torture. 



But now with a non-nursing-toddler? 
I don't know. 
Too many variables to discuss here. 
That's another blogpost for another time.