Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bucket Update

A few months ago, I posted a "bucket list" for our family for 2013.
  • Visit Upcountry History Museum
  • Take Bimmer to the zoo
  • Buy a kiddie pool to go swimming in the backyard
  • Family vacation to the beach  
  • Family vacation to the mountains
  • Hollywild and/or Riverbanks Zoo Xmas lights
  • Trip to Sassafras Mountain (the highest peak in SC)
  • Drive part of the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Visit the NC Arboretum
  • Make a craft project with Bimmer

    And halfway through the year, we've actually done some of them, so I thought it would be a good time for a recap!
    #1 - Upcountry History Museum
    It was a bit of a bust. They had a good exhibit about photography in Greenville, but other than that, it was not nearly as interesting as I had hoped. Next time we are thinking of a SC based museum, we'll try The State Museum in Columbia.
    #2 - Take Bimmer to the Zoo
    Bimmer has now actually been to two zoos, one in SC and one in the Midwest. Bimmer loved the big animals that she could see, especially when they were moving around. Next year, we'll get a zoo pass so we can check out all the zoos in SC.
    #3 - Buy a Kiddie Pool
    Bimmer got a kiddie pool from us for her 1st birthday. Unfortunately, late June and early July were always wet, so we haven't used it as much as I would have liked, but I'm definitely hoping to pull it out as much as possible the rest of the summer. We have such a water baby!
    #4 - Family Vacation to the Beach
    We hit the road to Hilton Head back in May and Bimmer was obsessed with the beach! She loved the sand (playing AND eating) as well as sitting in the low waves. We have another trip planned for later this year, so hopefully she will still enjoy it as much then!
    #5 - Family Vacation to the Mountains
    Back in April, we took Bimmer on her first trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was a long weekend of some tacky goodness. I think it will be awhile before we go back there, but I am definitely looking into other spots (Asheville, Boone, etc.) for possible future mountain trips!
    #6 - Make a Craft Project with Bimmer
    For Valentine's Day, I had Bimmer make footprint hearts to send to her grandparents for the holiday. She makes more projects at school, but I am hopeful with the better weather later this year to get her out on the deck to make even more projects!
    Not too shabby for half a year, right? I'm not sure we'll hit all of our goals, but I definitely think we're on track. How is your bucket list going for 2013?

    Thursday, July 25, 2013

    Rally Together, Moms

    The longer I'm a mom, the more I want to smack other moms in the face.
    Here's the deal... your kid isn't perfect, so quit trying to make it seem like they are. Having a kid is difficult sometimes, so quit trying to pretend you've got it all under control. Your cover has been blown. Other moms are looking at you like you're an idiot.
    Do I love Bimmer unconditionally, despite her flaws? Of course. But I would never try to pawn off on you guys that she's some sort of angel. Nope, she has officially played in the toilet. An angel wouldn't dare. She's a spastic, chaotic, and busy child.
    If your baby sleeps through the night from an early age, count your blessings. It's OK to mention it here or there, but stop bringing it up almost every day in conversation at work. Especially when you are fully aware that one of your co-workers has a 9 month old who wakes sometimes every hour. You are insanely lucky, but you can stop bragging about it. Plus, we don't always believe you anyway. You'd say anything to trick yourself into thinking your baby is better than everyone elses.
    And for the love of North West, will you stop whining and complaining on Facebook about how horrible it is to send your kid to daycare. If it's so bad, just stay home with them then. Yes, I will occasionally post about daycare (like the day her shoes wouldn't stay on so she had to sit on the bench on the playground, or the time they fixed her hair into white-girl cornrows) but it's not a daily whine-fest about the fact that I have to take her to begin with. I understand you want to spend more time with your child. I get it. I share that daily struggle. However, most of the women I see who are so vocal about it are people who don't work Fridays or whose kids are only in daycare part time. Seriously? There are times in my job where I am lucky to be home by 8pm to spend ONE HOUR with Bimmer before she goes to bed. If you work an 8am-5pm job (or less) then enjoy your child. Spend as much of that time with them as you can. But please stop trying to make the rest of us feel bad for sometimes having to work more. You are lucky, not deprived.
    Lastly, while I am on the topic of moms who are lucky, but don't realize it... if you have your family nearby, and they even occasionally take your children, you are the luckiest people on the planet. I am so tired of moms not comprehending that there are situations out there where family is not an option. I live more than 400 miles from my closest family member. There are no regular date nights. There is not the option of Grandma keeping Bimmer if she's sick and has to stay home from school. There is no one who can pick her up early from daycare just to snuggle with her when I have to work late. Bimmer is missing out on the constant connection with her grandparents that I was lucky enough to have with mine when I was young. I have zero sympathy for people who complain when their family is actively involved in the lives of their little ones. I never would have even thought about this had I not become a mom.
    I have good friends who have sick babies. I have close friends whose babies had trouble nursing or sleeping or were late to crawl or walk. Bimmer has come with her own set of challenges, mostly in the areas of food and the fact that she's just non-stop. I complain sometimes, as we are all entitled to do. But I know how lucky I am to have her. I am lucky she is healthy. I am lucky that, in general, she is a content child. Life could be a lot worse. I just wish that some moms I've run across would understand the same. We need to support each other, not knock each other down. Brag when it's necessary, and hold back when you know others are struggling. Be aware that you're not the center of the universe, nor is your child.
    And on that note, my work phone is ringing at 6:45am and Bimmer is stretched asleep across the middle of the bed and Puff is already out the door. Just another day in my paradise.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2013

    Greek Chicken

    Let me start off with a disclaimer. You should really go check out Rach's recipe site (HERE) if you're serious about cooking. I am not a chef, nor do I claim to be. I like simple, easy, meals that don't require a lot of prep. I pretty much hate to cook. Unless it's baking. Then it's only moderately better because the outcome is brownies. And pretty much anything is worth some effort if brownies are the result.
    One of my quick go-to meals is Greek chicken & potaotes. I got the original recipe from Rach's site, so you can dig through her archives if you want a more legitimate list of steps to follow. I'm a rule breaker. I don't measure anything if I don't have to.
    Start by preheating the oven to 350.
    I use a Pyrex dish and center the chicken breasts. I buy the thin ones, because I have a weird phobia of thick chicken that tastes too chickeny.
    Her recipe calls for quartered red potatoes, but I like them smaller, so they're saucy. In a pinch, I cut up a good ol' Idaho baking potato. The potaotes go straight in the same dish, which makes Puff happy, because he's our resident dishwasher. Now the fun part... or the unmeasured part.
    The ingredients for the drizzle/sauce/yummy goodness that goes on top are super simple: lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic seasoning. Rach's recipe tells you how much to mix of each, but I found that it doesn't yield enough. I like mine to be doused in the stuff. Since I don't want chicken to taste like chicken, the more I can season it, the better. So I mix what I think to be enough lemon juice and olive oil and then the seasoning. If it's not enough to get every last piece of potato covered, I make more. And then I inevitably sprinkle some oregano and garlic over the chicken directly, just to be sure.
    Her recipe calls to bake it at 350 for an hour, but since I use the thin pieces, I've found that 45 minutes is best for my oven. Use your own knowledge of your own oven. Don't serve raw chicken. I would say I normally serve it up with a nice green veggie or some salad, but the reality is that just requires additional work, so most nights, we just get the chicken and the potatoes. But hey... it's real food, right?
    Happy eating!

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Operation: Get in Your Crib

    The time has finally arrived.
    Mommy and Daddy needed their lives back. It was time for Bimmer to get in her damn crib.
    To recap quickly... from birth, Bimmer has been super spoiled in the cuddling-while-sleeping department. She would almost exclusively nap while being held, but at least slept part of the night in her crib until about the 4 1/2 month mark. Then I went back to work. (You can read about our first, horrible, attempt to cry it out HERE.) After that debacle, aka the worst parenting decision we've made, Bimmer has been in bed with us. I set goals on dates on when to make it happen sooner, but then either I would have an insane week at work and be too tired, or Bimmer would be sick. Finally the end of June came. She was 13 months old. It was time. We were doing it. I was committed.
    The first night was a disaster.
    Puff was out running errands, so I fed her in bed like normal, all snuggled up and cozy with Mommy. Then when she went to roll herself over after her bottle, to snuggle, I stood up and took her to her crib. Now, she's been napping in her crib for about 4 months now, and we always just drop and run. We let her cry (it's usually only a minute or two) and then she's out. Well, for some stupid reason, that first night of CIO, I decided to stand there and rub her back while she tried to fall asleep. Epic fail. Since I was there, she was all like, "Bitch, I know you're there. Why are you not picking me up?" So instead of drifting off to sleep, she ended up standing up, wailing, with her arms reached out for me to pick her up. Broke my damn heart. So, up she went. Back into bed with me. We would try something different the next day.
    Round 2 went infinitely better. I snuggled up in bed with her, as we have done for her nighttime bottle since she as 8 weeks old, and when she went to roll over to snuggle, she went in her crib. And she cried. For 10 minutes. And then it was silent. For an hour. Then she cried for 5 minutes. We didn't go in to intervene. She slept then for 7 hours. IN HER CRIB. I was doing cartwheels in my head! She woke up a few times whimpering, but went back to sleep in less than a minute. When she cried a different cry at 5:30am, we got her a bottle and changed her poopy diaper. Yes, she ended up cuddling with Puff the rest of the morning, but that was a victory for us.
    I could be totally OK with morning snuggles for the rest of my life.
    Round 3 started with 10 minutes of crying, followed by a slight pause, followed by more crying thanks to a thunderstorm. When all was said and done though, she was out for the night and slept until 6am. She whimpered throughout the night (which didn't help Mommy sleep very well) but it was a positive move. Round 4 was heaven... she went down without so much as a peep! Yay! And then she slept until 5am, had a bottle, and went back to sleep with Puff in bed until 7:30am. Round 5 yielded no cries either, but she woke at 3am. I gave in after awhile and gave her a bottle, but she went back in her bed. And slept until 8:30am!!!!
    It's so exciting to realize that she was ready for this transition, but I'm not sure I was! I miss having her next to me, all snuggled up, or her foot in my face. Or waking up with her next to me. Waking up with her is the absolute best. I know every child and every family is different. Some are lucky enough to have babies who are chill in their crib from the get-go. Other moms I know are struggling every night with a child who wakes up multiple times. I know there were nights I complained about having to go to bed early or sleep with her crawling on top of me to get as close as humanly possible. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I never thought co-sleeping was for me, but it was. It was the perfect arrangement.
    I miss her already.
    My little girl is growing up.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Celebrating our Independence

    I've never been a big fan of fireworks, even though growing up, we always went out to see them on the big "firework holidays."
    And (thankfully) Bimmer is still too young to notice that we conveniently skipped them this year. In between the breaks in the rainy long weekend, I dressed Puff and Bimmer in their best red, white, and blue and headed to a local park armed with a flag to get some photos. Even the holidays we never used to celebrate are now worth a photo shoot with my cute baby girl!

    The best part of this holiday weekend, however, doesn't have much to do with flags, and much more to do with hillbillies.
    We are big fans of the Saluda, NC, Coon Dog Days festival and this year, we convinced Kimhead to drive up to join us. We had taken Bimmer last year, when she was only about 6 weeks old. She slept through the entire thing, including the wails and sirens from the fire trucks! This year was definitely different.
    Bimmer *LOVED* the parade! She was waving and clapping at all the floats. She got beads (since mean ol' Mommy wouldn't let her have any candy) and was a super trooper in her backpack carrier through the crowds.
    It seems like such a minor thing, but since Puff and I enjoy going so much to things like that, it warms my heart to see Bimmer enjoying life the way we like to live it.

    Saturday, July 13, 2013

    Yo Ho Ho...

    My drink of choice since the summer of 2001 has been Malibu rum and orange juice. I hardly drink anything else. I can thank a super hot Austrian bartender named Wolfgang for this.
    Back in college, there were certainly plenty of parties that started with a Power Hour followed by nights spent out at the bars until the wee hours of the morning. The photos from those years are pretty hysterical. (I am glad Facebook didn't exist way back then!) Since the moment I finished my classes, however, my drinking hit a brick wall. Sure, there were occasional nights of debauchery for a bachelorette party or some other celebration. But I have never been drunk with Puff. Nor have I seen him drunk.
    Puff is a bit of a beer connoisseur, so he will have one or two, here and there, with dinner at a restaurant. I rarely order a cocktail with a meal, since orange juice doesn't pair well with a lot of food, plus, they're expensive. We are definitely not anti-drinking. We don't have issues with people who drink more frequently than we do. I gave up all alcohol in May 2011 when we were starting to try to conceive Bimmer. My friends brought me a bottle of Malibu to my hospital room in celebration once she was born. It took me awhile to even get around to opening it.
    I mention all of this backstory because lately, I have realized just how much other people drink! And I don't have a clue how they (1) stay as skinny as they are, and (2) drink that much in general. One of my good friends actually goes home and has a cocktail almost every night. I couldn't even fathom. First off, I have an insane toddler running around, so getting tipsy probably wouldn't be in anyone's best interest. But I also don't have the desire to drink every night. It would make me fat and lazy and tired. I don't like waking up with dry mouth.
    Then there are my co-workers. I love them all dearly, but they go drinking more than any people I have ever met. My boss will routinely bring in champagne to make morning mimosas. And then he'll treat people to a round of drinks (or four) at the bar in the middle of the afternoon. When we have manager outings, there are always cocktails at 9am and more at lunch. I have had more alcohol in the 10 months I have been at this job, than I probably had in the past 3 years combined.
    And I can't do it anymore.
    I've tried to keep up. I've tried to play it cool that I am super interested in going out with them for cocktails. I don't want them to make fun of me or to start pregnancy rumors. I've got some tricks... I will ask the bartender to go light on the alcohol. Or I'll secretly be happy when the bar doesn't have Malibu, so I can act like I don't have any other option but to have a water instead, since they don't have the liquor I prefer. Even times when I want to have a drink, I only want one or two, not seven. It blows my mind to see these girls drink the way they do and then function the next morning. A lot of them even have small children!
    I'm in my thirties now. I want to have a good time, but alcohol doesn't always have to play a role in that. In fact, I think Puff and I are way more fun sober. Probably helps that we don't have many inhibitions to start with! Good luck to all of you drinkers out there. My hope is that none turn into alcoholics (because I know someone that's teetering on that cliff) and that they will someday realize that you can have fun without a cocktail. Or at least realize that it's OK for ME to not have a drink, even if they are having one. That's my choice, and I'm fine with it.
    On that note.... I sure do wish I was on the beach with a pina colada in hand. Virgin, of course. :)

    Wednesday, July 10, 2013

    Garden Party

    As you are fully aware, we like to "rush toward life" around here, which translates to not many days of sitting around on our butts doing nothing. We like to always have at least one outing per weekend... if not more! So on the last weekend in June, after I was stuck at work on Saturday, we knew we had to find some family outdoor time on Sunday. We hemmed and hawed about our options, but finally settled on the drive to Clemson to visit the SC Botanical Gardens.
    It was also a great excuse to try out Bimmer's new backpack carrier. Since she has long ago outgrown her Bjorn, we've been lucky enough to get away with using the stroller. But we've got some festivals and nature walks/hikes coming up that just won't jive with wheels. So after some back and forth on what type of carrier we wanted, I let Puff win that battle, and we came up with this guy. Bimmer totally loves it.
    The gardens are free and a lot of it is shaded, so it's mostly tolerable in the South Carolina summer heat. Although carrying 30+ pounds on his back kept Puff sweating the whole time! We spent all morning wandering the trails and checking out the maintained gardens. We let Bimmer down a few times and she was in heaven. She loved running her hands over the flowers and clapping at them. She did really well and didn't really try to pick any off, which is a far cry from what she does in our yard with our begonias!
    We definitely have a little tomboy on our hands though. She loves to pick up sticks and leaves and run her hand through piles of dirt. Any time she was down, she would start a little collection of twigs and leaves from the paths. She would even stop sometimes to pull up the weeds in the cracks between the pavers. A woman after Puff's heart, he says!
    I absolutely love that we choose to live the type of life that keeps us busy. We are also lucky enough to live in a state where there are tons of things to check out within a day's drive, and a lot of them are free! (This was one of those free excursions.) It's no wonder my photo album is bursting with pictures from all of our adventures. Bimmer is a happy little girl. We are blessed to keep her that way.

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Rushing Life Redo

    A few months ago, I randomly stumbled across a list of blogs that were recommended for moms. Now, we all know I totally pimp YHL and Bower Power pretty regularly over here. I'm also a huge fan of The Bloggess. A little bit of humor thrown in the mix of some DIY that I will never try to replicate. I want to emulate these amazing ladies, yet also keep my own "Gail flavor." However... when I read that article, I found a new blog that just blew me away.
    It's not a family that you would think would intrigue me right off the bat... five kids, one adopted from China with a cleft palate, living a rural life in Oklahoma, homeschooling, crafting, thrift store shopping. Their home isn't decorated in any way that I would want to decorate mine. They raise chickens, and I scoff at the idea of a dog. However, I can't stop reading. And I can't stop wanting to make Rushing Life much more like her page.
    Problem #1? I'm not a professional photographer like she is. BUT, BUT, BUT... I take a lot of pictures. Maybe it's time to start being more conscious of what I am taking, try some new things, and share a lot more. Maybe it's time I put to use the Photoshop I just had to have when I bought my new laptop two years ago. I've never even opened the program. But beyond just the amazing photos, I love the look of her page. It is inspiring.
    I'm not making any mid-year resolutions to reinvent the wheel here or anything, but I have definitely caught the bug. I am definitely hoping to revamp some things around here. Let's add it to the list of things "Gail wants to do to better herself and her life" that is always growing and evolving. My top life priorities are to get my scanner fixed (so I can work on a massive photo project I should have accomplished while I was unemployed) and catching up on my scrapbooks (because I'm still somewhere in a December-2012-no-mans-land and it's bothering the crap out of me).
    I'm open to thoughts and suggestions. A little redecorating never hurt anybody, right?

    Thursday, July 4, 2013

    Birthday Photos

    It's a photo dump kinda day.
    Back around Bimmer's first birthday, as you know, we traveled back home to The Fort to visit family and friends. While we were there, our regular photographer took an hour out of her busy schedule to meet up with us to do Bimmer's 1 year photo shoot! (She also did our engagement, wedding, maternity, and Bimmer's 2 month and 7 month photos.)
    Of course I just had to share some of my faves. It's still hard to believe so much time has gone past since we were holding her in our arms for the very first time. She is a spunky, busy, and chaotic child. And we love her more and more every day!

    Monday, July 1, 2013

    Turning Green

    In general, I try super hard to not be a jealous person. I do sometimes have to remind myself of how lucky I am and how blessed my life is. I have my moments. But it seems like I've been having more lately than usual, and I'm not sure why. Yet, I've realized that sometimes I hear things that aren't really said. I distort the reality of the situation in my head to twist the truth, making myself mad or upset or jealous when I shouldn't be.
    For example:
    I hear: I'm going on a super fancy vacation, but you're not.
    Reality: They're sharing a beach house with 10 people in Myrtle Beach and will be cooking dinner every night. There's sand involved. I wouldn't want to be on that vacation. I'm just jealous of the fact that I am at work and they are not. I have my own, Gail approved, vacation coming up soon.
    I hear: I make more money than you do.
    Reality: I chose my profession, knowing it wasn't going to be the most well-paid. I chose my department because I enjoy my work, more than I would enjoy theirs. I am not eligible for their bonus structure. I have my own bonus structure. I make enough money to live the life I want to live. And I busted my butt and reached my goals to get my July bonus.
    I hear: I have a hot and sexy boyfriend, and you don't.
    Reality: I closed that door years ago when Puff and I got married. Yes, I will fully admit to still occasionally wanting a super hot guy to check me out, but I'm not looking to replace Puff. I have a hot and sexy husband, who treats me well, takes care of me and Bimmer, and is there for me every day. I don't want to ever have to try to date again.
    I wish there was a switch I could just flip whenever I have one of those jealous moments. My own personal therapy for it is to sometimes blog (in my personal blog) about how much is going right and awesome in my world. It's not meant to come off as bragging (although it maybe does) but it's just my way to right the train before it derails.
    So go on and enjoy your beach house with your sexy boyfriend.
    I'm going to watch "Wipeout" with Bimmer and let Puff throw hot dog buns at her. That's how we roll.
    Who's jealous now?