i <3 faces - fall

It's been a while since I've played along. But, I actually had taken some fun pictures of The Bear to celebrate fall. I LOVE fall. It's my favorite season, and I have to start the brainwashing early :-) We had gone to a local college's arboretum one morning. The colors were beautiful. How can you not love New England? I realized just now that most of the pictures are of his back (I do what I can with a small child). There was one that just captures the essence of him.

He was captivated by all the leaves on the ground. At first he was a little intimidated by the crunching noise, but in true boy fashion it didn't take long for the jumping to begin.

Don't forget to head over to I Heart Faces to check out everyone else's fall pictures!


holidays: toddler style

I refuse to quit doing fun things with The Bear once Baby arrives. While a lot of things are going to change (I'm not in complete denial), I don't want to stop things that are educational and stimulating for him.

I just got an email from our local children's museum with their schedule for the next few months. I was so excited to see that they have a special event for New Year's Eve. It's called "Countdown to Noon". The event there runs from 11 am - 1 pm doing all the NYE festivities ... just 12 hours before Dick Clark. There is hat making, confetti, snacks, making resolutions and ending with the big ball drop at 12 noon.

We'll be going this year, and I would love for it to be a tradition. I know we won't be here long enough for it to be a real tradition, but it wouldn't be hard to do something similar at home. I just thought it was an awesomely easy idea that allows little ones to celebrate in a way that won't wreak havoc on their sleep schedule.


giving thanks: day 13

Today was a rainy, rainy day here for us. There were gusts of wind up to 40 mph. It rained basically all day. It never poured, but there was a steady rain all day.

Because as you all know, I strongly dislike Saturdays I try to jam as much as I can into them when Hubby is gone.

Despite the rain and my cold, The Bear and I adventured out to see Thomas. THE Thomas. Like Thomas the Train. He was visiting a local train station and it was actually quite cute. It would have been a wonderful day if a) it had not been raining or b) I had a maternity rain coat.

None the less, The Bear loved the train ride. He loved all the train tables set out. He loved the electric train set. He was given a Jr. Engineer certificate by the conductor (cheapest engineering degree he's ever going to get). He had a fabulous time. We were able to go with some friends, and so I had a pretty good time, too. Trains don't excite me as much as The Bear, but I can now say I have seen Thomas.

It was nice to have something that filled our gloomy day. And, I definitely earned some good mommy points. Bear, remember this when you pick out my nursing home :-)

do you shutterfly?

I love shutterfly. It's an all in one photography site. I upload our pictures there to have them backed up somewhere safe. I have a "share site" where I have monthly posts of our family's adventures to share with family and friends far away. I order prints from there (they'll mail them to you or you can pick them up at Target). I order gifts from there - calendars, books, mugs . . .

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a Shutterfly House Party Host. I had some friends over and shared my love of Shutterfly. It was like a reverse Pampered Chef party; people came over and got stuff for free.

Because life happens, I have some extra freebies left over. Each guest got a free 20 page 8 inch by 8 inch hard cover book AND 12 5 by 7 folded holiday cards. You have to create your own account, upload your pictures and pick your designs. The one catch is you do have to pay for shipping. But $8 for a personalized bound book is a pretty great deal. The codes expire November 23rd so you don't have a ton of time, but a totally reasonable deadline.

If you would actually use them, leave me a comment. I have 4 free books and 4 free sets of cards. I'm no MckMama or DesignMom so I'm doubting there will be a huge rush on these. Just let me know which ones you would want and what you would use them for :-)


giving thanks: day 12

I've been feeling pretty crummy lately. It's a combination of allergies and being very pregnant.

At this point of the pregnancy with The Bear, I was in the hospital being induced. As of tomorrow at 3 pm, I will have never been that pregnant before. While I'm not comfortable, I am grateful this baby is bigger and stronger than The Bear was. I am glad Baby does not have these health issues and I have a fighting chance of having Hubby he here for the birth.

Thank you for giving me a full term baby.


If there are any moms out there that use or want to try gDiapers?

They are an amazing compromise between disposables and cloth diapers. The outsides are cloth and come in super cute colors. The insides can be thrown away or flushed! You can also compost them, but I haven't tried that.

Disposables take 500 years to break down which is gross. I wanted to try cloth diapering The Bear, but Hubby didn't like that idea.

It's a bit of a hefty investment (as are most cloth diapers), but I have some $10 off coupons. If anyone would use them or know someone that would use them just let me know. I would love to share!


giving thanks: day 11

This is going to sound weird. Just hear me out.

Today, I am thankful Hubby goes away. I miss him so and hate him being away, BUT it does give me some freedom and guts I wouldn't have if he was here. I'm not talking doing anything crazy. Just little things I feel I can do without him here.

This underway:
I've made The Bear's birthday invitations. I probably would have bought them if Hubby had been home.
I made some garland and decorations for his party. These could have been bought, too. It's filled my nights, and I really like the homemade approach for a lot of things.
I made a photo collage in our front hallway.
I made duvet covers, pillow cases and curtains for The Bear and Baby.
I recovered our chairs.
I just did a trial run of The Bear's cake.

While I can't wait for him to be home, I'm trying to make the most of these lonely nights. Not too much longer though. And, then I'll gladly give up my crafts for some TV and snuggles.

the ugly chairs

Hubby is older than me - by 5 years. And, since he was one of those people that enlisted in the Navy when he was 18. He had been a "grown-up" before we were married.

The good news: He was able to furnish our first apartment with all stuff he had before me.

The bad news: He was able to furnish our first apartment with all stuff he had before me.

We've slowly replaced a lot of the furniture with things we both like. However, we still have the ugliest kitchen table known to man. (The sad thing is I think Hubby actually likes it.) While we've agreed to handle the ugly table and chairs for one more move, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I still have the ugly, impossible to clean table. It has lots of little cracks which seem to have magnets for crumbs. I still have the country kitsch, yellowish white painted chairs. I was able to make some small changes that make the ugliness bearable for the next year and a half.

The ugly chairs before I attacked them:

The slightly less ugly chairs:

Green plaid really wasn't my thing. I knew I couldn't do anything drastic so I recovered the seats. They do it all the time on HGTV so really how hard could it be. Well, a little harder than I anticipated. I borrowed a friend's staple gun and spent $15 on fabric.

All 4 chairs are recovered and put back together. I'm not sure how Hubby will react, but I like them. And, if you ever need a stress reliever, I highly suggest you find yourself a staple gun :-)


11/11 at 11 am

Veteran's Day.

Originally called Armistice Day and first celebrated in 1919. Wilson said "To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

It was supposed to honor those who fought the war that ended all wars. It's still a day honored and recognized all around the world for the day peace returned to Europe.

In 1954, it was changed to Veteran's Day to also honor those who had fought in all those wars the first one didn't end.

While I appreciate Veteran's Day and the fact that at least one day a year Hubby and all those who serve(d) in the military are given the respect they deserve, it also makes me sad. All those restaurants making a big deal about giving a free meal to vets one day a year are missing the point. Those men and women don't give of themselves one day a year. JFK said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

It also hurts my heart that 90 years ago, we were so sure that war would never come again. World peace had been achieved. We could and would get along. Stability had arrived. There are still wars being waged around the world. While it would be nice for Iraq and Afghanistan to suddenly be turned into miniature Disney Worlds were everyone is happy and gets along, it makes me wonder if it would really matter. Would another group simply step up and take their place as our foes? A new battleground be established?

Regardless, I am grateful my grandparents, father and Hubby have all served so that I did not.

My grandpa in WWII. He took pictures from airplanes while flying over Germany.

My Grandma in WWII. She was in an internment camp. They let her out to join the WAAC. And, she wanted to after the US had taken all her belongings and made her live in a horse stall.

Hubby taking his oath when he was commissioned in 2006.

giving thanks: day 8, 9 and 10

So I fail. Monday was a less than pleasant day and I totally forgot to write. And, once you slack the first day the second day of slacking just comes so naturally. Apparently, the same rules that apply to exercise apply to blogging.

Day 8: Monday, The Bear and I ran some errands. I bought some of those things that we didn't save for Baby - like pacifiers. No one needs used pacifiers, and apparently you're supposed to replace them every 3 months anyways. It was fun to buy those final little things. While I am definitely at the uncomfortable stage of this pregnancy, I am so very grateful that Baby is growing properly. We had a scare where we thought Baby might have IUGR also, and I am thankful he's developing as he should.

Day 9: Every other Tuesday, we have MOPS at our church. MOPS is amazingly wonderful. If you have small children, I strongly recommend you look for a local MOPS group. The kiddos are down the hall with grandma types and the moms get to have real, grown up conversations. We did a super fun craft. I made mine for my mom as part of her Christmas gift. I love handmade gifts; it's just so much more personal than buying something. It warms my heart to make things for other people, and I'm really excited for Christmas to come.

Day 10: Today, The Bear had his two year old pictures. It's still 3 weeks until his birthday, but I'm trying to get things in before Baby comes. I would feel awful is we skipped pictures or his birthday party because of Baby. I know siblings have to share, but sharing doesn't involve blowing off someone's big day. His party is in a week and a half, and I like having some pictures out at his party. I also found an amazingly awesome idea on etsy that I wanted to be able to for his party. The photographer was the same one that did my maternity pictures. Sara is amazingly patient and kind and wonderful. With all the Christmas pictures going on, she said it would take about a week and a half to get the files on a CD. She was kind enough to email me one earlier tonight so I could use it at his party. How amazingly nice is that? So here's your sneak peak.

I can't wait to get the rest of them! I can't believe he's almost 2!


digital card templates

I'm hunting for a place that sells (or gives away free) templates for boy birth announcements and/or Christmas cards.

I've found a few places that can print 4x8 or 5x7 cards so either size is fine. I have Photoshop Elements. I would rather put my own pictures and text in versus paying someone to do it for me (yes, I am a control freak).

Legacy Digital Design has templates for $1.99. But, I haven't determined if I really like any of them. Lettering Delights which I've used before and love has 14 layouts for $8.00.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I've searched etsy, but those have someone else putting the things in and sending me a final file.


giving thanks: day 7

Today, I am thankful for a twitter's "World's Thinnest Book." Funniest thing I have seen in quite some time.

Some of the entries included:
"How to Dress Age Appropriately" by Mariah Carey
"What Men Know about Women" by any woman
"How to be Modest" by Kanye West
"Home Style Cookin" by Victoria Beckham

I know Hubby would be so sad, but it is slightly funny - "Our Victorious Decade" by the Chicago Cubs.

I love when people can find humor in things. It was just so silly and trivial it made me smile. Anyone have any funnys they want to share?


giving thanks: day 6

This afternoon, there was a baby shower for Baby. Baby is a boy, and we kept everything from The Bear so we didn't need anything. (On a side note: the 2 year gap works out well for storing things. I could not imagine the tubs we would have should there be 4 years of stuff being kept.)

There was no baby shower for The Bear which made me feel like a failure of a mom before he was born. There have since been other things that have made me feel like a failure and I'm over the no baby shower thing. It was nice to have something special for baby 2 that baby 1 didn't get. It makes things seem slightly more fair in my world.

It was so fun to get together with friends and eat and play silly games. I loved the low key part since it was for baby 2. No pressure to buy huge gifts; just a fun Saturday afternoon. I am so very grateful to have made good friends here. They make the days pass when Hubby is gone. I know if Baby should make his arrival before Hubby returns, I have a great support system here.

I did find it amusing that there are 4 of us with kids ranging from 23-25 months. And, we're all pregnant with kiddo 2. At least there's one thing that's reliable in the military world :-)

big brother training

I've been trying to slowly introduce The Bear to baby things. I don't want him to feel like his world has been invaded, and honestly after digging something out and setting it up I get pretty worn out.

The boys' bedroom is all done. Crib is up. Tummy time mat is down. Baby clothes have been washed and put in drawers.

We have the pack n play in our room up. The bouncer is out.

The newest addition was the swing that goes downstairs. The Bear is learning which things are "baby" and which are things he can play with and climb all over.

As soon as I had set up the swing and told him it was for Baby, he got his stuffed elephant. He put him in the seat and starting patting his head.
He's going to be a good big brother.

I'm trying to find a few things for Baby to give Teddy when he arrives. So far, I've found 2 big brother books. He has one we read already and another will be for the hospital. I finally found a blue stroller. The Bear loves to push things - including his stroller when it's empty. Based on his past driving experience, I wanted to give him a stroller that Baby wouldn't actually be in though.

I'm currently hunting for a boy baby doll. He likes to take care of his stuffed Curious George and he mimics everything I do. I thought it would be good to give him a little baby doll to take care of also. The only reasonable one I've found is $20 on Amazon. I really was hoping it wouldn't be that expensive. I don't have much doll buying experience though. Is that a reasonable price? I don't want the freaky kind that talks and eats and poops. Just a little doll.

I have found lots of unreasonable dolls though. My personal favorites:

Found at Target.com should you want to buy it

This wouldn't seem unreasonable unless you take into account I searched "boy baby doll" at Walmart.com and this was the only result I got. Something seems a little off.

small talk 6: never a survivor winner

I remembered the fun world of Small Talk Six today and thought I would play along. The Bear and I are having a lazy morning of jammies and Curious George. I used to do these things all the time in high school through email and my first blog (which was quite advanced since it was like 2000). Head over to MomDot to play along. It's an excellent way to feel like you've accomplished something when you really haven't :-)

Today's topic is “6 reasons why you would be doomed if you were stranded on a deserted island all by yourself.”

1. I am a very picky eater. I would say I was the world's pickiest eater, but it seems my friends are just as picky. We're drawn to each other, I guess. Nothing that comes from the sea. I'm not really into meat; the thought of eating bugs makes me gag. So unless island has a potato field, I wouldn't last long.

2. I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Going from running 24/7 to being all alone with no responsibilities would surely insight a mental breakdown. I can't even handle more than a night of nothing now. I always have to be starting a craft or project to occupy myself. There are only so many sand castles I could build.

3. Grass and sand. I can not stand sitting in grass or walking in it barefoot. It grosses me out. I can handle sitting in sand (as long as I'm dry), but I could never sleep on it. I would have dreams of little crabs climbing all over me. You can only last so long standing.

4. I would worry about The Bear. While a break would be nice, I have a feeling Hubby might not handle being alone with The Bear for forever and a half alone. It wears on me, so I know it would get to him. It would be interesting to see what he ended up dressed in every day.

5. I would also miss Hubby. The Navy has gotten me accustomed to him being away for long periods of time with limited communication, but I don't think I could handle being the one away. Emotional wreck - check. Wracked with guilt - check. Nervous breakdown - check.

6. Right now, I'm very pregnant. 36 weeks, 1 day to be exact. There is no way I could deliver this boy by myself. It would make an awesome TLC special though. "I did know I was pregnant, but I gave birth on a deserted island because I'm an idiot and thought I could do it myself"


giving thanks: day 5

I need all seasons. I'm the type that thinks the 4th of July should be celebrated in shorts and Christmas needs snow.

Fall is my favorite season. I love the activities and the crisp air. Lately, I've been able to sleep with the window open in our room. It's chilly, but perfect snuggle under a blanket weather. (Granted it would be more perfect if Hubby was home to snuggle with, but I'll take what I can get.)

This morning was the perfect morning. Nice and chilly in the morning, but not too cold if you're under a blanket. The Bear slept until 9 am this morning. It was fabulous. I woke up at 7:30 which is the normal time. It was so nice to be able to stay in bed, read the NY Times on my phone and spend quiet time alone.

The Bear's window stays closed so don't fret about him getting sick(er). His room stays a nice and comfy temperature. He also has those warm jammies that have the feet.

It was a wonderful start of the day.


giving thanks: day 4

Today, I am grateful for The Bear. While we have our trying times, he really is a good kid. He doesn't mean to be bad; he's just testing the world.

September 2008 - Exploring his world

The last week has been really rough on him. He's been getting breathing treatments with his nebulizer every 3-4 hours for 4 days. He doesn't like them, and I don't blame him. He has to sit still for 15 minutes at a time. He has a loud machine strapped to his face blowing something up his nose. I can't imagine it's fun if you understand it which means there's no way he would enjoy it since he doesn't understand.

He cries. He pouts. But, he knows not to take off the mask. He knows not to fight it (now at least - when we started these it took 3 adults to keep it on).

He's a good boy though. He loves to color. He loves to give me (and his stuffed George) kisses. He loves to point to every picture of Hubby in the house and remind me that's DaDa. He can make me smile no matter how awful I feel.

February 2009 - Reunited with Daddy

He is a fighter. But, that kept him safe. No matter how feisty he may get, I know it's the reason he's with us today.

December 2007 - Feisty and opinionated already

While he's preparing to be a big brother, he'll always be my baby boy. For that, I am grateful.

November 2009 - Practicing be a big brother; he put the elephant in

the personal touch

I LOVE all things personalized. I am a complete and total sucker for anything with a name (preferably mine or someone in the household) on it.

Luckily, I was born in the 80s and given a name every 5th girl had. The other 4 were normally Jennifer, Sarah, Jessica and then some girl whose parents thought outside the box. To keep this completely factual, I just googled. Apparently, Stephanie was the 6th most popular girl name in the 80s. Sorry I forgot about you, Ashleys.

While it drove me crazy to be Stephanie H for the majority of my first 18 years, I loved being able to get those cute little pencils and cups with my name.

The Bear and Baby both have names that aren't on the top 10 list. They're the old fashioned sit on the porch type (I totally stole that description from another blog but I can't remember who). While I love them, it makes those personalized pencils harder to find.

I was recently introduced to VistaPrint.com which lets me make all sorts of fun things with the boys names on it. And, it's insanely cheap. Most of the things have free offers where you just pay shipping. Depending on what it is and where you live, shipping can kill the free deal.

I just got my "mommy cards" in the mail. They have my contact information and "Mommy of The Bear and Baby" on them. 250 cards I got to design for $5.67 works for me. I doubt I will ever need 250 cards, but I'm one of those dorky moms.

I ordered return address labels (the kind with our names and little caricatures). I've ordered a pen twice (you only get one free one at a time). I also have sticky notes, notebooks and a t-shirt coming. It's all cost less than $15 total. Some of the things are gifts (what grandma wouldn't love a "Nanny of The Bear and Baby" shirt?) and some are just for me.

Just wanted to pass along the site. I might be addicted. I was limiting myself to the "free product" area until I discovered almost all the tabs have something to offer free. Not as fancy schmancy as etsy, but way cheaper. Happy shopping :-)


giving thanks: day 3

The logical object for today's thanks would be The Bear. But, we had a bit of a rough day. While I'm still thankful for him and love him to bits and pieces, there are times to be honest.

What I was really thankful for today was Target. Shallow? Perhaps. But, honest.

Dollar section you always get me.
Food area that serves me popcorn AND a large slurpee for $2.12 you bring hope to my day.
"Halloween" pajama pants (they were black and purple striped) for $1.75 amaze me.

While these are not the most important things in my life or the biggest things to value, it helped ease what would otherwise have just been a bad day.

So my dear Target, today I am thankful for you.


giving thanks: day 2

So I have a feeling by the end of the month, my OCD is going to get the better of me. I really should have started on the 1st so my days match the date.

Lesson learned.

Since yesterday was my momma, it seems fitting that today I give thanks for Hubby.

He's my anchor. He keeps me level headed and supports me - financially, emotionally and mentally. We've only been married 3 years, but they've been 3 jam packed years. While I never would have guessed I would be a Navy wife (I believe our pastor might have told me he was shocked when we were doing our pre-marital consultation), I love the journey it's taken me on.

At Military Ball in 2006 - My first dip into the strange world of the Navy

Jamaica on our honeymoon

Watching the 4th of July Parade this year

Thank you, Hubby. For being mine. For forever and ever.

top ten tuesday {wishes for The Bear}

There's a website out there called 1001 rules for my unborn son. It's slightly humorous especially more now that I had a son and am pregnant with son #2. I decided for this week's list of 10 over at OhAmanda, I would list 10 things I would like for The Bear. Probably not the most important 10 things, but at 35 weeks pregnant this is about as clear as I'm thinking.

So Bear, I wish that you . . .

1. Live a life so that you are never ashamed to look at yourself in the mirror. Realize that you will not be perfect and mistakes will be made (by yourself and those around you). However, you should never act in a way that you can't look yourself in the eyes.

2. Find what makes you happy. While money and fame might have their appeal, I want you to find something in life that makes you happy. As long as this does not hurt you or others, I give you full permission to follow your dreams.

3. Surround yourself with positive people. It makes a difference.

4. Have a good relationship with your family. I know there will be times over the next 20 years in which you will truly test our patience. That's okay. Please know your Daddy and I are doing the best we can. And, when we get too unbearably embarrassing you can bond with your baby brother.

5. Stand up for yourself. Standing up for yourself does not translate to being mean or hurtful. It means valuing yourself and your emotions. You do not have the right to push someone, but you have the right to tell people not to push you and leave the situation if they don't stop.

6. Celebrate. The big stuff and the little stuff.

7. Are a life long Cubs fan. While Daddy just wants you to like them because he does, it goes deeper than that. Cubs fans have a sense of eternal optimism. No matter how awful things are going you stay devoted. You always have that hope of things getting better. There's always "next year."

8. Don't cheat. Ever. No matter how big or small you think something is, cheating is not excusable.

9. Love to learn. Whether you learn through books or travel or playing, please be a life long learner.

10. Know how loved you are. By me. By Daddy. By your grandparents. By this little brother you will be meeting soon. No matter what, you will always be loved.


giving thanks: day 1

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. It's warm and cozy and just perfect to me.

In my attempt to make Thanksgiving more important (and to help improve my mood), I've decided to make a point of listing something I am thankful for. I should have started yesterday on the 1st, but I'm not perfect.

Day 1: My Momma. She seems like a good place to start. She's a rock if you ever met one. For the first 5 years of my life, it was just the two of us. She's the type you can call at 3 in the morning because you don't know which section of Psychology 101 to register for (No joke. Happened in November 2002) She's my momma. And for that I will always be grateful.

1990-Vacation to Mackinac Island

2002-Football Game @ U of I


The Bear entered our world the day he was considered full term - 37 weeks. I was induced since he had IUGR.

We were told that the risks associated with him being 3 weeks early were less than the risk of him being still born should we wait any longer. Not a tough choice from our point of view - we wanted a living son. Not much else really mattered at that point.

The Bear did have some issues when he was born. He was super small. His lungs weren't fully developed which meant a trip to the NICU and troubles breathing. He didn't know how to suck which made feeding him difficult and trying.

I would gladly take any of those challenges to have The Bear with us today.

There are still consequences from his early entrance into the world that we are discovering. He has had pneumonia on two different occasions in the last year; the first being last Christmas when we were in the PICU. Those little lungs have taken a beating. He's still small although almost comparable to his peers now.

Today, he was diagnosed with asthma and the beginning stages of pneumonia again. The asthma I can handle. It's just a label, and I had it myself when I was a kid. We're back to having breathing treatments every 3 hours until he clears up a bit.

I know we made the right choice. But, I wonder how long we will be discovering the consequences of our actions. How many small little things will The Bear have during his life that remind him of his rocky start? When will I stop feeling guilty for it all?



Feeling a bit like a juggler. Lots of balls all in the air that I need to catch and quickly toss back up.

Some things are big but really light. Some things are small but very dense. All different sizes. All different weights. Some things need to be handled gently. Some things must be tossed with great force.

Some things only I can be responsible for. Some things I have because I can't tell people no. Some things I just picked up because they were sitting there looking like they ought to be taken care of. Some things would really be better if other people had but somehow managed up in my hands.

Even the best jugglers can only handle so many balls. It's time to sit down and evaluate which ones mean the most to me. Which things are those that really matter - to me, my family and my morals. Which things are the ones that I would be sad if I let fall.

I can't do it all. I know this logically. It's time to evaluate it all.

If I act promptly, I can pass balls to others or simply set them down. Otherwise I might drop them all. Some will bounce and be fine. Others might just shatter and never be the same.