Monday, September 29, 2014

28 Month Update

 
* I am pretty convinced Bimmer now knows just about anything and everything she will ever need to know. She is constantly busting out with new and random things, like recognizing a seahorse and a badger. She can officially sing all the words to certain songs. And she has started to use the word "probably." Like when she sees Puff's car in the driveway and she's all like, "Daddy is probably inside." She likes the word "already" too. She also has started to say "I love you" more often and tells me that I am her friend. Love!
 
* She has started to let us know when she is happy or when things make her happy. One afternoon, she told me "Doggie jammies and a big, heavy bottle make me happy." Well - then let's get on that! (And have a nap!) She also sometimes tells us that she is giggling - as if we didn't already notice. Although I have realized that sometimes when I am taking her photo, instead of having her say "cheese" (which yields a typical toddler goofy face - which Puff has yet to outgrow) that I tell her to "give me giggles" and she will actually laugh. Makes picture taking a lot easier!
 
* We have had a bit of a regression in the biting area. She just has such a temper and I hate it because I think she has gotten some of that naturally from me. I try not to get too frustrated in front of her, but I know that at age 2, it's hard to control that anyway. We are discussing with the teachers and the new director at her school for some options.
 
* She has started to assert her opinion and independence a little bit more in the area of her clothing. I'm OK with the wanting to put on her pants by herself. She actually can do it herself, for the most part, so that's fine. She also usually only insists when it's her pajamas, so we have more time to take at that point anyway. She definitely is very indecisive on which bow she wants to wear and sometimes throws a fit if I pick out one she doesn't like. So I have to convince her that it matches. Such a little fashion diva... just like her daddy!
 
* She likes to tell me that I have been a "bad mommy" and then when I ask why she always says, "You make a mess." And then she likes to wipe off my kisses and have me pretend cry. Then she says "I make it all better" and gives me a hug and a kiss. And she tells me that she won't wipe off my kisses anymore. She gets super excited when she can see that we are doing/wearing/acting like her. She will say "You wear glasses like me, Mommy!" and just giggle. Or she will say "I eat pizza like you, Daddy!" I love that she is noticing these things and that she still thinks it's cool to be like us! She has also been super with saying "Thanks" when you do something for her, without prompting. I hope to continue to raise a polite little girl.
 
* As much as I hate to admit it, the past month or so, I have been letting the TV babysit much more than I want to. Puff has been working crazy hours and I have been playing single parent a lot, so I am having to make the house run at the same time that I am keeping her. She has started to watch "Thomas & Friends" a lot more often, and "Paw Patrol." I don't mind so much since they aren't totally mindless. I think she is definitely learning some things from the few shows she does watch. Hey... gotta make myself feel better about this somehow!
 
* Out of no where, while we were in Hilton Head, she busted out with saying her full name... which is a mouthful. I love that she puts such a southern accent on her middle name. I suppose she is my southern belle! (Although if you ask her where she's from, she says "The Baby Patch.")

Friday, September 26, 2014

Find Your Euphoria

As I'm sure you are well aware by now, Puff and I like to attend approximately 290,435 events a year. So when I was awarded some free tickets to a food festival in Greenville, we promptly scheduled a late late night with our babysitter, hit the road and checked out Euphoria.
 
 
 
I have heard about it for years and even contemplated suggesting it as a trip with my parents, until I realized how expensive the tickets were! We attended the Friday night "Taste of the South" and the price on the tickets was $125 each! Cue the yikes!!! Definitely not going to be something we ever attend on our own dime! Especially since going into it, I was skeptical about whether or not I would even eat anything, since I'm a super picky eater.
 
Look at me wearing my wedges and trying to make it the Fall of Sexy Mom!
 
 
At least it was a good excuse for us to get sexed up for a date night out!
 
 
 
I was definitely right that I was too picky of an eater to enjoy the food much. Puff raved about a tomato pie and some sort of brisket concoction. I was able to enjoy some mac & cheese, a caramel pecan tart, and a candied bacon brownie. I ran into a few people I knew, which was awkward, because we didn't want to chit-chat on our monthly date night! That's our time!
 
 
I was pleasantly surprised by the band that evening. They were Sixwire Band and they were pretty awesome... playing mash-ups of lots of classic rock songs from Kansas to Foreigner to Poco. Puff and I lounged for a long time listening and chatting and people watching. In all, it was a sweet and fun date night. I doubt we'll run to this festival ever again, but it will have to hold us off for awhile since our next date night isn't scheduled until November!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

So Long, Cappy (Updated)

It has been awhile since I stopped and thought a few minutes about how I wanted to word my Facebook status. This morning was one of those days:

Where has the time gone? Can't believe tonight is Jeter's last game at Yankee Stadium. Thanks for a great 20 years, Cappy.



I don't want to blame Puff, but I'm going to anyway. He is definitely the culprit for my lack of following sports these days. I used to follow pro baseball, football, and basketball almost religiously. I haven't watched an actual MLB game in years. But that doesn't mean that I am not still a fan at heart.

I've been a Yankees fan since 1996.

I fully admit to becoming a fan because a of a cute guy named Pete in my freshman Spanish class. He was a die-hard fan. I wanted an excuse to talk to him. Then I saw Derek Jeter and I was sold. They were going to be my baseball team. Forever, til the day I die. And they have been my team for the last 18 years - never wavering.

I am NOT, under any circumstance, a fair weather fan.

I get that a lot of people don't like the Yankees. (Just like they don't like my beloved Dallas Cowboys.) But I like to think that true sports fans can respect another true fan. Our teams don't have to match up - but our sports values do. So go ahead and like your Packers and your Patriots and your Clemson Tigers. I will judge you for your choices in life, but I will simultaneously respect you for your dedication.

Derek Jeter turned out to be a pretty decent player over the years. And a pretty class act too. And there aren't too many athletes like that these days. I loved this article I found this morning on ESPN...

http://espn.go.com/blog/jayson-stark/post/_/id/952/ten-astounding-derek-jeter-numbers?src=mobile

So while I won't be able to spend $9000 for a seat behind the dugout on the first base line (because, yes, that's what they are going for on StubHub according to an article I read yesterday) to see Jeter play tonight, I am rooting for him from home. I hate that I was never able to actually see him play in Yankee Stadium. But I have seen him play 3 times, and I suppose that's better than nothing.

So, thanks for the memories, Cappy. I seriously can't believe it's been 20 years. I promise to still be a Yankees fan... but it will never be the same again.

UPDATED 9/26:

I don't think it hit me until late yesterday just how much I really am going to miss Derek Jeter playing the game. I'm the girl who makes fun of people who mourn the death of celebrities whom they never really talked about, yet I was getting teary-eyed watching a Billy Crystal tribute to Jeter on Sportscenter while I was at the gym! There have been two athletes I have admired for as long as I can remember: Troy Aikman and Derek Jeter. Both high class guys, good teammates, who aren't in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.

In my nostalgia and frenzy to watch every bit of video and read every article I could about Jeter yesterday, I stumbled across this ad that I had seen before, but never really watched. Yesterday, I watched it. And it gave me chills.

 
Since last night's game wasn't on here, I taped Sportscenter to catch the highlights. I think I'm going to need to wait until tonight to watch it. And to read any articles about it. I think it's going to hit me harder than I ever thought possible. I know he has a few more games to play, but last night was it.
 
His last time in pinstripes. ::sigh::

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rushing to HHI

As the summer wrapped up, all I wanted was to have just one more trip away. And since I'm nothing but a "yes mom" when it comes to granting Bimmer's travel wishes, I knew a quick trip to the beach was all my baby girl needed to be happy to say goodbye to summer. Hilton Head Island, SC, was the winner!

 

First things first, here's where we ate:

1) The Cottage - Located in historic Bluffton (before you get to the island) it was a great quick and easy stop before hitting up the outlet malls, without having to eat at a chain
2) Roastfish & Cornbread - Not your typical touristy restaurant (in fact, we were the only tourists there) with a more southern, soul food kind of vibe. I wasn't in love - Puff was
3) Salty Dog Cafe - Yes, it's super touristy, but we got there early and had no wait (a perk of traveling in shoulder season) and I loved my blackened shrimp with au gratin potatoes
4) Fiesta Fresh - My assistant was raving about this place. The food was defintely fresh, but my quesadilla was bland. Didn't live up to the hype for me.
5) Sweet Carolina Cupcakes - We stumbled upon this one afternoon and they had giant pink cupcakes that Bimmer insisted on eating. I didn't stop her. We maybe fought over whose it was.

 
 
Outside of eating, it really was the most perfect, relaxing, family beach vacation we have had. We spent every day at the beach or in the pool... even after dinner one night! I drank pina coladas and we took a 3 hour nap one afternoon. We bought Salty Dog and Piggly Wiggly t-shirts (yes, one for each of us) and visited the lighthouse at Harbor Town. Isn't that a must-see when in HHI?
 
 
 
Bimmer grew up on us a little bit over the trip... she busted out by saying her full name one day, out of the blue. And her name is a mouthful! It's pretty much the cutest thing ever. Or well, isn't everything she does the cutest thing ever?
 




 
 
I hate that the summer is wrapping up. We have actually had a night or two recently where wearing jeans was kinda maybe possible. I know October is just around the corner and we will be super busy with life and all the fun things that fall brings to us here in SC. I'm just so happy that all of us were able to take this quick little getaway... just us... as a family.
 
 
 
They are my world. Even if it sometimes feels like I have two children.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

More Photos to Dump

Yup - it's that time again! Time for a little photo dump!
 
We just got back from a trip to Hilton Head and I'm gearing up for my busiest month at work. So enjoy this for the time being! A few pics from the past few months!
 





Bimmer made her first batch of homemade cookies!


 

And for those wondering, the latest update on the FIL is that they have moved him back to his small town hospital, since he was stable enough to be moved. They did a catheterization of his heart and didn't find anything, so we're still not sure exactly what was going on. So, we're still in a bit of a holding place, but he is doing better. We greatly appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers and concerns.





Thursday, September 18, 2014

Party All Night

Ever since I moved in with Puff, he has wanted us to host a party at our house. I'm gonna let you in on a little secret - throwing parties aren't really my thing. They require a lot of prep work, and with a rambunctious toddler who takes up a lot of my time, I just was never all that keen on making it happen. However, with all the tension at work recently, it was high time I bit the bullet. Especially after a handful of us realized that those in the offices that surround our cubes were having parties and not inviting us.
 
Cue the "Cubeland Party!"
 
No doors allowed.
 
 
 
I had a sick day that I had to use or lose, so I took it the day before the party to prep. It just so happened to be the day that Puff had to unexpectedly head to visit his ailing father. But that meant both he and Bimmer were out of the house, so I could get my cook on.
 
Yes, you read that correctly. I was going to actually prepare food for this soiree!
 
 
 
The first thing I tackled was the item I thought would be most simple - Cheesecake Fruit Dip. Yes, I got the recipe from Pinterest. And yes, it was delicious. I kinda sorta wanted to lick the entire bowl. And outside a mishap with accidentally turning the mixer on higher, instead of off, it was super easy and quick to make. I served it with strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, and apple slices. I will definitely be using this again for any future parties!
 
 
 
When searching Pinterest for recipes, I realized that most of my board is covered with desserts. So I had a great selection to choose from. However, I wanted something super simple and quick and easy. And chocolate. Or well, Nutella flavored. Since I'm a whore for some Nutella. So I stumbled across some Nutella Gooey Butter Cookies that looked easy enough, so I went with it. (Another co-worker was bringing some blondies in case my Nutella fascination wasn't shared by all in attendance.) They were amazing and got rave reviews. I sent lots of them home in baggies. And they were fresh for several days afterwards too.
 
 
 
Inspired by this post of a Strawberry Spinach Salad, I sorta winged it with putting this one together. I wanted something green and healthy for those in my group who like to eat that way. (I don't care for spinach, so I actually didn't eat any of this.) But since all it took was emptying out a bag of salad, slicing some strawberries, and tossing in some sliced almonds... I was down with that. I actually threw it together right before they arrived at the house. As for dressing? Well, I didn't get all fancy and try to make my own. I'm not that adventurous. (Nor did I want to buy things like paprika that I knew I would never use again!) So I just bought some poppyseed dressing and also had on hand Ranch and Italian. That way they could pick their own option.
 
Since I was preparing everything the day before, the spread pretty much became all cold items. (I did hem and haw about this for half a second but decided to not worry about it). I did a Pinterest search of a bunch of pasta salad recipes and just decided to throw something together that sorta kinda sounded about right. I mixed and matched a few and while I was at the grocery store, I threw in my cart some spiral pasta, zesty Italian dressing, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. Total crap shoot - especially since I don't normally eat tomatoes, or, ya know, cook in general. But I thought it at least looked pretty!
 
 
 
The item I was most scared about making was the dip. I found several variations of a loaded potato dip, but this Neiman Marcus dip won for me. I also cheated a little bit and bought already shredded cheese. No sense in making more work for myself, right? I wasn't so sure I would like this dip, but ohmyheavens. It was everyone's favorite. And I could seriously just make a bowl of it and eat it for dinner.
 
 
 
So how did the party go after all of that prep? WONDERFULLY!!! All 8 of us who work in Cubeland were able to make it and we hung out for a few hours, had some frozen drinks, (and my new fave Malibu rum mixture - with raspberry lemonade) and ate and chatted and played with Bimmer. (Since Puff had to go to visit his dad last minute, she was an unexpected guest at the party, but she was so well behaved!!!) I am so grateful for the relationships I have with these girls. I know there will be changes coming soon to the dynamics of our office and I cherish the time I get to spend with them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Queen City Overnight

My tolerance level with my job has hit an all-time low in recent months. So much so, that I actually spent a night or two casually perusing job websites searching for new openings.
 
It's been a long time since I have felt that desperate.
 
So when I found out I was being forced to co-mingle at a conference in Charlotte, I was less than excited. A night away being stuck in boring meetings, complete with a mandatory presentation that I had to give? Shoot me in the left foot, already!
 
 
 
Although a night away in a hotel room with no snoring husband or kicking/screaming/clingy toddler? Eh... maybe I can get behind this yet.
 
 
 
Add in a wine tasting? Maybe it's not THAT bad???
 

 
The boss also treated us to dinner at Vida Cantina. It wasn't too shabby.
 
For the life of me, I can't get this photo to rotate!
 
 
But the real reason I was excited about Charlotte (and one of the major reasons why I brought my car) was that I wanted to go to Amelie's. Puff and I had taken Bimmer there back in March when we came to town (read about that trip HERE) and I was dying for their strawberry cream cheese croissant. And I may have also gotten a lemon cream cheese pastry. And a lemon macaroon. And a salted caramel one too. And then regretted not getting a chocolate croissant. Touch decisions, man!
 
The rest of the trip was uneventful. And while there is a definite gap in my job between departments, I was actually OK with going in the end. Mostly because I got to have a bed to myself and an evening to do whatever I wanted in a hotel room. (Which meant online shopping and uploading vacation photos! Both things, that are near impossible to accomplish with Bimmer around!)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Visit: Cincinnati

A few months back, I proclaimed that this blog would swing back to include some travel info a little more often. (Read the proclamation HERE) So I thought I would start with a few posts about some not-super-in-demand locations that are within a day's drive of South Carolina.
 
Where am I starting today?
 
Cincinnati, Ohio
 
 
 
Random, right? Well, I've been there a bunch of times throughout my life visiting extended family and I think it may actually not be so bad. My top "Do Not Miss" items all revolve around food.
 
 
 
 
I'm a bit of an ice cream snob. But two of my faves come from Cincinnati, randomly enough. My favorite flavor at Graeter's is their caramel. It's an actual caramel flavored ice cream, versus vanilla with caramel ribbon through it. I also love their chocolate malts. And once upon a time, years and years ago, I had a watermelon sorbet that was amazing. They have locations all throughout the city and you can even have it shipped. (In SC, they have a few signature flavors - like the black raspberry chip - at Publix grocery stores.) They do also ship nationwide and their vanilla ice cream was featured on Oprah a few years back.
 
 
 
 
While I'm discussing ice cream, might as well throw this one out there too. It's a bit strange to actually go into a UDF (they're located all over the city) since it's basically a gas station. If you randomly told me to go into a gas station to get delicious ice cream, I would probably laugh at you. But trust me - it's so worth it! My favorite is their cookies 'n cream. Gotta get the "Homemade" brand though. (They sell this in SC at Fresh Market.) It's hands down my favorite ice cream. (Maybe not EVER but the kind I've been able to get most frequently.) It is super rich and has tons of cookies in it. Sometimes, you can get an entire Oreo in your scoop. I'm making myself hungry just thinking about it!
 
 
 
 
This is a place that my family always has taken me to whenever I visit and I am obsessed with their BBQ sauce. They have a few locations, the most fun being one that is located on the Ohio River. I actually have a relative ship me bottles of their BBQ sauce once a year so I can use it. It's the only kind I use! I am not a rib eater, but I get their chicken and it's never disappointed. I also love their chips. They're a homemade chip and you dip them in warm BBQ sauce. Oh yeah - and onion straws too. Delish!
 
Once you get outside the food, one of my favorite stops is always the Cincinnati Zoo. It is one of the coolest zoos I have been to and they have a gorgeous botanical gardens as well. The museums at Union Terminal are pretty cool too. I haven't been to all of them, but have been to a few over the years. (Not sure if they update or do rotating exhibits or whatnot.) It's in the old train station in the city and the building itself is just so neat!
 
 
 
A neat touristy thing to do is to take a riverboat cruise along the river. I actually did that years ago visiting with The Ex.
 
 
 
You can have dinner on some of them or just do a ride on the boat. The river isn't all that pretty (let's be real - it's a major river in a major city) but the views of the town are interesting from that vantage point. There are lots of rolling hills, which makes it a visually stunning city from the water. They have two newer stadiums on the river (for the Bengals and Reds) and a new Freedom Center museum, although I haven't been there to give you any run down on that.
 
I know the city has lots of quirky cute little areas and lots of different vibes throughout. I haven't been to them all, but I hear that downtown has a more revitalized nightlife scene these days. And that Mt. Adams is cute with bars and museums and views of downtown and a big park. (Lots of parks all over the city actually!) And Over-the-Rhine has become trendy too I hear, although I've never been there.
 
So, if any of my mid-western readers wanna hop on over to Cincy for a few days, I think you could find some cool stuff to do there! Tell them I sent ya!
 
(And hopefully it won't be too terribly long before I can come back and do another little city done the "Rushing Life" way!)
 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Prayer Warriors Needed

OK, prayer warriors. I know I've got to have a few of you out there. Right? I haven't turned all of you off yet, have I?
 
Seriously though... Sunday afternoon, Puff got a call from his brother that the FIL wasn't doing well. And that Puff needed to head to The Great White North as soon as possible. The BIL wanted Puff to see his dad before he was incoherent.
 
 
 
Wow.
 
Ton of bricks, officially dropped.
 
He had been in the hospital for a week or so with an infection, but we had no idea it was getting to this point. We talked to him several times on the phone on Sunday and he didn't sound THAT bad. So Puff made the call to drive up Monday morning. However, at 9:30pm on Sunday night, the BIL called and said that the FIL was having heart trouble. His pacemaker and defibrillator had gone off 23 times on Sunday alone and they were moving him to a CCU. Puff wanted to jump in the car immediately, but I knew that driving 12+ hours in the middle of the night with no sleep, speeding I'm sure, wasn't best. He didn't need to die on the way getting there. Not when he has Bimmer at home to think about.
 
I talked him into leaving Monday morning and I didn't even see him before he hit the road, since it was so early. As of Wednesday, the update was this:
 
They moved him to a hospital in a bigger city, about an hour from his house. This was actually good news to me - I always am concerned that the tiny town he lives in doesn't have the best medical care. His infection has been getting better and he is currently undergoing a procedure for them to catheterize his heart to see if they can find the problem.
 
So, yes, I need prayers. Lots and lots of them. Puff, being the ever practical thinker that he is sometimes, even packed a suit for a funeral. I hated to watch him put that in his suitcase. I definitely hope this isn't the time for that. He has been on the brink like this before and has bounced back. I know he won't always be able to do that. I know that he will ultimately go to be with God. He has lived a fun and full life, but I just think there's a little bit more in there for him. Or I'm hoping so anyway. For all my hatred of my MIL, I truly love my FIL. He is a genuine and sweet and caring and giving person. And I hate that he lives so far away that he isn't an active participant in our lives.
 
Thoughts and prayers are welcome. Thank you in advance.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shopaholic

For whatever reason, I became a little addicted to online shopping in 2014. There were a few months when it seemed like I was ordering something all the time. In July, there was one week when I not only ordered from J.Crew THREE times online, but I also went into their store TWICE.
 
Not normal!
 
In my defense (if there is any type of defense for that kind of behavior) they were having a 50% off clearance stuff, so I stocked up on some awesome deals on good, quality, clothes for the entire family. Including some Christmas gifts!
 
What were my mid-summer spoils, you ask?
 



 
Again - to defend my actions, I must point out they were all on sale! And while they weren't all things I desperately needed (although I did actually need new work shoes) they were things I had been wanting for awhile. And I waited until I could get them on sale! Brownie points? Anyone? Gold star? No? (FYI - the jeans are Gap 1969 always skinny and they are fab!)
 
So, without telling anyone or saying it out loud, I gave myself the challenge for the month of August to not buy anything for myself in the way of clothes or home goods. (Good finds on stuff for Bimmer for fall/winter was not on my "do not buy" list.)  I made it until August 3rd. That's good, right? No, but really... (here I go defending my actions again) I had been searching for months for a new pillow for the couch. I had fallen madly in love with this one from Serena & Lily...
 
 
 
But it was $63. And that was just for the cover. So when I stumbled across a $17 pillow that I loved almost as much at Target, Bimmer grabbed it from me and threw it in the cart. I knew it was meant to be. Ha! So, my couch pillows have now been replaced. And I can live with this sofa a bit longer... or at least until Bimmer is old enough to be trusted with a different color.
 
(The color is horribly off in this photo and I just was too lazy to try to fix it)
 
 
How did I do the rest of the month? Well, actually pretty gosh darn well... until the Annual Lilly Pulitzer big-ass blow-out sale (that's the technical term.) And how can you resist insane discounts like the ones they were offering?!?! For around $125, I managed to rake in the following items....
 
 

 
 
 
And while I was desperately in love with this color sweater, they didn't have my size... Boo!
 
 
 
But my most favorite score from that sale was this dress for Bimmer for next Easter/3 year old photos!
 
 
 
Now... for real... I have put a stop to my shopping. With the exception of fall/winter clothes for Bimmer. I just need to reign myself back in because last year, I regretted buying everything before winter and when I found super cute stuff in January, I wasn't able to buy it!
 
Stay tuned for a post about my faves for the new season for toddler girls!