Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Third time is the charm...I hope...

In December of 2010 we spent a week at Disney with AG seeing all the holiday splendor and it was so beautiful. It was a great trip but it was also hard because all three of us were sick. (I was also 3 months pregnant with Avi-Kate.) Since then we've tried to go back to do all the Christmas stuff again just not sick. And the last two years we've had to cancel for various reasons. As it is last year everyone but Avi-Kate came down with a stomach virus...so I was grateful we ended up canceling. I told Andy that I can't keep planning on a Christmas trip and then having to cancel it. So here's hoping that this year we actually make it to Disney! Once again the kids don't know this trip exists but they have been asking daily when are we going back to Disney so the timing couldn't be better! For this trip we have a voucher to try Wyndham's Vacation Club at Bonnet Creek and we are curious to see how it stacks up next to Marriott's. Then we'll finish the last two nights at one of Marriott's Vacation Club resorts. We are going to try a new to us Marriott by staying at Harbour Lake. (At some point we plan to do a trip and stay here when it is hot so that the kids can take advantage of the amenities...they have a pirate ship water feature, putt-putt course, etc.) This will be the first trip where we have to pay for AG and I'm sad that our kid free days are numbered. Oh, well it had to happen sometime. Avi-Kate has another year of being free before we have to pay for her too. Our plan is to take advantage of this and get our monies worth out of the fact that we have to pay for AG while Avi-Kate is still free. 

This trip is going to be really low key and we are going to do everything that the kids want to do. Andy and I will be back in January for race weekend so we'll get to ride our favorites then. Also, it looks like we'll get to overlap with my dear friend, Evan, and her crew for a day. Last fall our trips lined up like this and we had an absolutely perfect day together. I'm really excited about getting to spend some time together with all our kids in one of our favorite places. I've booked a few dining reservations and analyzed the crowd forecasts to maximize our park time so the kids get to see everything they want. We are trying to really hard to prioritize trips like this right now when they are so little because they LOVE everything about it and get completely wrapped up in the magic of it all. Avi-Kate is going to be beside herself because in this last year she has come to love all of the princesses. Andy and I can't wait to see their faces and watch them take it all in. So here's hoping that in less than fifty days we'll all be at the happiest place on earth enjoying some much needed family time with our gingers.

Every year we go I pick up an ornament with the date on it...this is a special one from 2011 because it commemorates the Magic Kingdom 40th anniversary. And we also pick up an ornament or two for each child based on what they've loved that year.

I love seeing the castle like this. And I love the fact that we get to see it lit up in January for Marathon weekend. It's so beautiful to run towards it as you are running down Main Street U.S.A. 

(Sigh) Is it time to leave yet?!? These pictures make me wish we could pack and go right now. Thankfully at the rate that the weeks are flying by it'll be here before we know it. :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall To Do List...

A month ago I started thinking I needed to do this post again and I got it all set/prepped and then didn't get back around to it. BUT here I am a month later still wanting to post it and hoping it helps get me ready for these last few months of 2013. Good intentions...I promise I really had them and I really am working hard to find my blog groove again. My goal today/this week is to work on finalizing my holiday notebooks. I made one last year for the Christmas season and LOVED having it. I've already found myself wishing I had it made up. In all honesty I should have already made a Fall/Thanksgiving one and my Christmas one. Ideally next year I'd like to get these made over the summer so they are ready when school starts and I don't have to worry about them. Anyways, here's this year's To Do list with my notes in red. If you want to read last year's list look here.

* Launder down comforter, autumn duvet and shams. Pulled out the fall/winter bedding for the master bedroom last month and got the bed made up. There is something nice about changing it up every six months or so.

* Buy new flannel sheets/Christmas sheets for the kids beds. Last year it never really got cold due to our lack of having a real winter and so I never got new flannel sheets for our bed. On the flip side last year we did buy AG some Grinch flannel sheets for his twin bed and he LOVED them. Well, this summer when we flipped the kids rooms and moved AKs to the twin bed AG had a major meltdown because his sister had now inherited his twin Grinch sheets. (He's now in a queen!) So we promised him that we would get him another set when Pottery Barn Kids started carrying them again...well they should be here sometime this week. Hallelujah! I had to do some work to be able to track them down but both kids will be nice and warm this winter in their favorite sheets.  
* Review housekeeping routines; adjust as necessary. I'm in the process of reviewing all of this...what worked last year is not working this year. Granted things have changed and life looks different with a husband who is working from home 95% of the time.

* Check on snow gear: boots, jackets, pants, hats, gloves, etc. If anybody needs new things, purchase or order them now. (Not a huge priority but it doesn’t hurt to have stuff on hand in case we get snow.)

* Same goes for winter pajamas and slippers. The kids start wearing footed fleece pjs late in October till at least March. Due to the fact that they wear footed pjs I haven't worried so much yet about them having slippers. Part of the reason we keep them in footed pjs is because our house is old and is mainly wood/tile floors. (Both of the kids bedrooms have hardwoods.) Anyways, I purchase fleece pjs a season ahead when they are clearanced out so I pay a fraction of the cost. AG's retail for around $35 a pair and I pay around $10 while Avi-Kate's retail around $22 and I pay around $6 a pair. The other perk to this is I have them on hand whenever we need them. These have been washed and are ready to go in the drawers. It's suppose to get to the low 40s later this week and we will for sure be putting the kids in them then. 

* Tweak the menu plan to reflect the season - heartier meals, fall fruits and veggies. While painting yesterday Andy and I made a list of meals we need to make that we haven't had in a long time/fit the season.

* Schedule a work-in-the-yard Saturday to rake, clean up garden debris, store outdoor furniture, etc. The leaves and acorns haven't begun falling yet around us so this will be come a priority in the coming weeks.

* Plant spring bulbs (snowdrops, crocus, daffodils, tulips) before the ground freezes. I need to pick some up at the store when I pick up mums/pansies for the pots.

* Plan a fall foliage jaunt for one Sunday afternoon to Berry.

* Prepare homemade cocoa mix, mulling spice bundles and replenish tea drawer as necessary.

* Visit the farmers market for autumn keepers: apples, onions, potatoes, squash.

* Plan Fall Break Trip. Not this year...due to life and the chaos over the last few months we are having a stay-cation. Hence the reason why I'm blogging mid-day in my pjs and the kids are snuggled on the couch watching a movie. We are doing some work projects around the house and doing some fall-ish activities with the kids...it's been a nice long weekend so far.

* Schedule cars for regular maintenance. Acadia is due for a tune-up...

* Plan out football game weekend plans for UGA homegames. Ha. This hasn't gone the way I thought it would this year BUT that's okay. It's been a learning curve and very insightful. As our kids age it gives us lots to figure out/process as far as what we want to do with our tickets.

* Plan a night to visit the county fair. Coosa Valley Fair was last week and we opted not to go on purpose because of Avi-Kate. She wants to ride EVERYTHING these days but she'd be limited due to her height. And she doesn't really understand why she can't do stuff. (Plus AG tends to be more reserved/cautious while AKs is more the daredevil...so she'd want to ride things that AG wouldn't!) Hopefully next year we can try this with the kids.

* Stop by Starbucks for a fall treat. :) Done. The day after the LSU game I had no voice from screaming so on the way to church I had to get a hot apple cider. It was perfect.

* Head to Starbucks the week before Thanksgiving to buy 2013 Holiday ornaments.

* Put away summer outside activities. (Pool, water table, etc. Winterize sandbox)

* Inventory craft supplies and note what needs replenishing. (Keep in mind holiday projects with the kids and long dark winter days ahead.)

* Stock up on cold and flu season necessaries: vitamins/supplements, herbal teas, honey drops, medicines.

* Make birdfeeders with the kids to hang in the tree out back so they can watch the birds from the big window in the den. Last year I collected a whole bag of pinecones from the farm to do this project and we never got to it. Hopefully we can do this once the leaves fall off the cherry tree in the back. (It's right outside the picture window in the den and will provide a nice spot for them to 'bird watch'.

* Arrange fall mums, asters and pumpkins around front steps. Needs to be done ASAP. Should have been done before Mtn. Day...hoping to do this with AG today or tomorrow while he's on fall break.

* Begin a holiday planner - assemble Thanksgiving and Christmas lists, etc. Excited about making this year's planner(s) now that I have a Silhouette machine to do all the cutting. More on this later when I get it finished. 

* Fall family picture session. I need to get this on the books with Carrie Jo. Thankfully, we see a LOT more of her these days now that Andy is working with her Dad. 

* Fresh pinestraw for the outside beds.

* Launder cozy throw blankets; store in large basket handy to gathering areas. A few weeks back I found a large canvas bin with handles that is perfect for all our fleece blankets. It is now tucked behind the chair in the den and easily accessible.

* Set out fall book basket. Done. I've already started thinking about what I need to add to it for November.

* Set out autumn decor including table linens, candles, garlands and candles with seasonal filler. Started working on this a few weeks ago but it's kind of at a standstill since we are in the middle of painting several rooms at the moment...pictures to come.

* Decide on Halloween costumes early, allow for any orders/delivery time. AG has requested to be a Braves baseball player and Avi-Kate changes her mind every. single. day. I wish this was already done but I need to finalize stuff this week. In years past I've been more on top of this.

* Set up a gratitude tree ahead of Thanksgiving. Been mulling how I want to do it this year...still thinking this one out but I have several possibilities. PLUS this year I can use my Silhouette to help me it. I'm thinking I'll work on this while I'm doing holiday notebook stuff this week.
* Make and freeze pie crusts and sugar cookie dough for the holidays.

* Buy Christmas stamps at the end of October.

* Fall toys rotated out of the attic. We are due for a rotation in the next few weeks before Thanksgiving. Now that we don't keep any toys in the den (minus the current seasonal Little People playset that stays on the bookshelf) I don't feel like I'm going crazy/over run with toys in the living spaces.

* Find a skinny, pre-lit alpine tree for our Jesse Tree ornaments. Last year I used a small tree and placed it on our kitchen table...worked great for last year. However, this year we downsized the kitchen table to a cafe table and the old table is in the attic. Which means I've got some reorganizing to do when it comes to where we put stuff. I may hold off another year on the alpine tree and just use the tree we had last year but put it somewhere else since it can't sit on the kitchen table. In addition, now that we don't have all the kids toys in the den I've been talking to Andy about us getting a small, skinny pre-lit tree to put in the den for the kids to decorate. (Our live tree that we cut down goes in the front of the house in the dining room so that people can see it from the street.) AG likes this idea and has talked about setting up his monorail around the tree in the den. :) We'll see what I come up with.

* Start decorating for Christmas before we head out for Thanksgiving since we will be gone to Disney on vacation following Thanksgiving Day. Growing up this would have bothered me greatly but the older I get the more I enjoy pulling all this stuff out and getting in the spirit early. (I may or may not on occasion already be listening to some Christmas music on my Pandora Station while cooking dinner.) It won't be all done but there is a huge chunk that I can start on before we leave. That way when we return we can get our live tree and do the outside that first weekend back. 

* Visit Bath and Body Works to get hand soaps for all the sinks and a fall candle. Hand soaps purchased already and put out. Candles...I purchased three late this summer and got a ridiculous deal. I got three candles for $22 between sales + coupons + store credit. I was quite pleased. I need to go purchase my winter/Christmas soap that I love so much. A coupon arrived the other day and I need to make a trip to the mall to go pick up what I want before the run out. For the fall I love to use Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin and for the holidays I love to use Winter Cranberry.
* Inventory food and organize the freezer. Need to reorganize and I need to replenish my stock of foods on hand in the freezer. I have plans this week to make soup bases and freeze them. And our new Publix opens Wednesday and I'm beyond excited about being able to shop at Publix frequently now. (Especially with the holiday season upon us!)

* Map out fall semester Family Dinners with the college family. Done and I've already got tentative dates for a few of them. 

* Prepare for Mtn. Day Weekend (Berry’s Homecoming of sorts.) Mtn. Day was great and we enjoyed having friends and family over all weekend.

* Make pumpkin seeds after carving pumpkins in late October.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Den Update and Fall Book Basket...

I meant to post this weeks ago at the beginning of September and you see how well that went so we'll just call this our 'Fall Book Basket'. And on top of that I meant to post these pictures back in August...seeing the theme that is my life right now?!? Anyways, we flipped the kids bedrooms around and moved Avi-Kate out of her crib. When we did that we moved ALL the kids toys in to their rooms and out of the den. (Hallelujah!) In all of this we moved one of the bookshelves in to the den. I am loving having this shelf in the den now. It's twin stayed with the rest of AG's stuff and holds the rest of the kids picture books.

This shelf  holds the kids most favorite authors in the top left corner. (Willems, Falconer, Dewdney) The red bins hold board books and small toys for the kids to play with. Finally, the top right corner holds a seasonal/monthly selection of books aka my book basket. For years I've wanted a designated section that I could change out every month or so. Currently on the shelf we have the following titles plus this Little People Playset:

If You Give a Moose a Muffin
Fall Leaves Colorful and Crunchy
The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat
Ten Little Pumpkins
It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse!
The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin
The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Night
The Busy Little Squirrel
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
Fall Pumpkins Orange and Plump
Fall Harvests Bringing in Food
Animals in Fall Preparing for Winter
Fall Weather Cooler Temperatures
Fall Apples Crisp and Juicy
Apples for Everyone
Pumpkin Circle
Fall Mixed Up
The Fox and the Falling Leaves
We're Going on a Leaf Hunt
Awesome Autumn All Kinds of Fall Facts and Fun
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

A few weeks back they had all of the seasonal Little People sets on sale and I was able to pick up last year's version of the Pumpkin Party set for $10 instead of $35. I was also able to snag two Christmas sets to add to the Nativity sets we already have. More on those when I get them out later in November.

Since we took this picture we've relocated our diplomas back to over the desk that is back to being on the other side of the den now. We've also picked out a new paint colors for the den, back hall, front hall, and kitchen. The den and hallways will be a shade darker than the color in the kitchen. Both are a soft muted grey. We've painted a test on the walls and we love the results...now if we could just get around to finishing it. Ha. Story of my life. I had Andy rehang the large bulletin board and it is now over the bookshelf. I covered it with some extra fabric I had on hand and hung up a plethora of pictures of our college family. The wheels are turning in my head to decorate the top of the shelf for Christmas and the bulletin board. I'm contemplating putting our Jesse Tree Ornaments and Advent Activities here. I still have a few weeks to mull it over so we will see what I come up with. The other idea we are talking about is putting a small tree in the den this year. (I've wanted to do this for years but we haven't had the space with all the toys in the den.) Now that we've rearranged the layout I think we might be able to swing a small tree and let AG put his monorail around it. He was pretty excited about setting it up around the tree and having a tree that he can help Avi-Kate decorate with their ornaments. Lots to do and mull but I'm excited about all the possibilities. I love this time of year. 

And here's a shot of the bulletin board that I posted on my Instagram...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Running Goals...

Goals. I've spent a lot of time the last six months or so reflecting on this last decade of my life as I head into my 30's and thinking about what I have accomplished and what I want to accomplish. (With a lot of that reflection landing on running...this post has been rolling around in my head for months now. Literally.) There are days that I still sit back humbled and amazed that I've completed two half marathons because in reality I never thought I could do it. I've learned a lot and realized there is so much that I want to accomplish when it comes to running in my 30's. 

In my late 20's I started running on and off depending on lots of various factors. I've done well considering I've been trying to learn a sport that was foreign to me and trying to be mom to two small kids. My focus for my 30's is to dream big and really work on improving my times. Up till now my goal has been to attempt and finish without any care to my time. I simply wanted to be able to say that I did it. For my 30's I want to say not only did I finish but I finished well. That I improved over previous performances. I want to become more dedicated to this sport that I love and hate all at the same time some days. This winter I will attempt my last two race weekends with the mindset of I just want to finish. Starting in August we'll have both kids in school all day and my ability to train will change dramatically. Andy and I will actually have the opportunity to run together! That never happens. I'm pretty excited about the possibility of being able to train together but also being able to run during the day while the kids are in school. Even better I'll be able to drop both kids off in the morning and then run on campus at Berry.

My running bucket list includes being able to say I have a medal from every major runDisney race. Which is no small feat and will take some serious time, planning, coordinating of schedules, and training BUT I feel it's completely doable. Within that Andy and I have several runDisney goals that we'd like to complete before our 10th Wedding Anniversary in 2016. So, here we go:

--Complete the Goofy Challenge...this means you run both a half marathon and a marathon on the same weekend. (Half on Saturday with the full on Sunday.) You are awarded three medals for this accomplishment...both medals for the individual races and a third medal signifying you did both races back to back. We are slated to run this in January and my goal is just to finish. I could care less about my time. Again, my ability to train and train well will improve later in 2014.

--Complete an Inaugural runDisney race...I'm slated to do this in February by running both the new Enchanted 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge. (More about the Glass Slipper Challenge here.) This particular event weekend I'll be running with Andy's sister, Caroline. Considering that I will hopefully have completed a half and a marathon a mere five weeks earlier my goal again is to just finish. Since I've completed a half I'm really not worried about doing the 10K and half back to back for this weekend...unlike some days when I think I have completely lost my mind to attempt a full and a half back to back.

--Run a Disney race with my dear friend, Evan. We both have a deep love for racing in the parks and it's a goal of ours to actually race together as opposed to being at an event that we both happen to be running. We've talked about possibilities for the future and have a few ideas. I'm quite confident we'll complete this before we both turn 40. Right, Evan?!?! :) Maybe the Pink Coast to Coast Challenge? I'd love it if our friend, Erin, would join us for whatever we end up running.

--If Andy and I survive the Goofy this winter our goal for the winter of 2015 is to do the Dopey. (Completing a 5K, 10K, half, and full over four days with 6 medals to your name if you do!) We are tentatively planning on this with the goal of really evaluating this after we run Goofy.

--Coast to Coast/Dumbo Double Dare...runDisney has a highly coveted medal, the Coast to Coast, that they award if you run in events on BOTH coasts (DisneyLand and Disney World) in the same calendar year. Coast to Coast is tricky for us due to having season football tickets with UGA. The Disneyland Half Marathon is always Labor Day Weekend. This year they added a 10K and created a new challenge, Dumbo Double Dare, if you complete the half and 10K. Next year UGA will play Clemson at home Labor Day Weekend and so we will be in Athens. Which is fine...there are a few things I want to happen before we do Coast to Coast. I want to really be in a running groove in order to train ALL summer for a half. (Right now I much prefer winter running.) If we are going to fly all that way I want to be able to compete and compete well. I don't want to just 'finish'...I want a good time. Next I really want to know the parks before I run out there. Part of the reason I love running at Disney World is I know and love all the places I'm running. I constantly have memories running around in my head about past trips and experiences. Ideally, I'd love for us to take a family vacation out there and really explore the parks. Plus, I want us to take advantage of enjoying Carsland while AG is still in to Cars. The earliest we could attempt this will be 2015 giving us plenty of time to work on all of these things before heading west to run.

--Food and Wine Half Marathon...this is a night race and is done in early November. Due to when it is run we have to try and schedule it around football. It is possible that we might be able to attempt it in 2014. If they keep it the same weekend that it is currently scheduled then next year UGA will have an away game. Lots of moving factors with this one and we aren't planning on it yet...just keeping it in the back of our minds. 

--Tower of Terror 10 Miler...currently this race is scheduled for the first weekend in October. I have a feeling this will probably be the last runDisney event we check off our list due to the date. The first weekend in October is always Berry's homecoming weekend, Mount Day Weekend, and we never miss it. As it is, next year UGA has a home game that weekend. Plus, it'll require training all summer for it and again, I have yet to get in to running in the summer. 

--Ideally, Andy and I would love to complete a marathon to start our 30s. (We'll both be 30 in January before Andy turns 31 in February.) And we'd like to complete Dopey and Coast to Coast before our 10th wedding anniversary. Those are our three major race goals between now and 2016 to do together. I'm not sure if we'll tackle them all but I'm really looking forward to the challenge and the possibility of it all. Grateful that two years ago I took the plunge and decided to take up running because it has completely changed my perspective on so many things. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Changing of the seasons...

I absolutely love fall and I absolutely love fall in our town. The above photo was taken on a run last year on our street. Breathtaking, isn't it? I am eagerly awaiting the next few weeks as we slowly slip in to cooler nights and the trees around us begin to put on a show. Now that we are in to September I started pulling out everything related to the upcoming season. My goal for this week is to get things organized around the house and switch some stuff out. On my agenda is getting the fall themed books, rotating toys, changing out bedding, and looking at my fall to do list.

Sad...I started this post at the BEGINNING of this month and now it's the LAST day of this month and I'm finally around to finishing it. (Sigh) This is just the season of life we are in. Everything is going 90 to nothing with me hoping I get everything done only to realize an entire month has come and gone. At this rate it'll be AG's birthday in a mere week or two. (Reality is that it's not till January but at this pace we'll be there before we know it or I'm ready.) On the flip side this is my favorite time of year. I love everything about the next three months. And I can't wait to take runs in our neighborhood when the trees look like this again.

So, I got the books on the shelf in the den, fall decor out, changed the bedding in our room, and have yet to tackle my fall to do list. We'll see what I get done this week. I'm praying it's productive and I can get back in to a blogging groove. For now, I'll get this posted and start fresh and pray that I find my groove!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weekend at Hilton Head Island.

I can't believe that we are now in September and more than that I can't believe how little I've blogged this year. I've pondered a lot why that is and why I have been so apathetic. I love it and I love being able to look back on past seasons in our lives...and yet, most days this year I have yet to document our life in this moment. 2013 has been a hard year. It has been an emotional year with some pretty deep moments. Some of these moments in time I may be able to blog about and other moments might not ever get recorded here. If you are still reading this know that we are good and the kids are good. It's been a hard year but God has been gracious and has sustained us. 

This past weekend we went with Andy's mom and sisters to Hilton Head Island. This was the first time our immediate family had been to Hilton Head and we LOVED it. We stayed at Marriott's Barony Beach Club and it was fabulous! Within the last year they had remodeled the pool area and it was AH-Mazing. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more the kids or the adults. It will most definitely be on our list of Marriott places to return to. (I seriously wouldn't mind if we went back yearly.) I loved that it was only 5 hours from Rome and that it was easily doable for a long weekend. For this trip we went Thursday night to Monday afternoon. I left wishing that we had been able to stay a full week. Next time! :)

 We took advantage of the lower crowds and spent time each day at the beach and pool. I loved that our room overlooked the pool. In the afternoons we were able to leave the little girls up in the room napping with an adult while the older two swam all afternoon. I even managed to read an entire 400+ page book cover to cover over the weekend. Which is quite the accomplishment these days with small kids. I remember the trips we use to take to the beach before kids and I would read multiple books in a week. One day again...when they are older, right? :) Here are some pictures on the beach and at the pool...