Five for Friday: My favorites at Trader Joe’s

So last Friday, I mentioned that I felt like a Trader Joe’s run needed to happen soon for some reasonably priced flowers. The truth though is that when we lived in Arlington we were about one mile away from one, but I didn’t go there that often.  But there are a few things that Trader Joe’s sells that you just can’t get anywhere else.  So after five months of living down here, I decided to finally take the thirty minute trip there, and it didn’t disappoint!  The store is spacious and SC seemed to enjoy the trip herself (I didn’t waste any time like I do at Target).  So even though I know you are not curious, here are the things that I love at Trader Joe’s.

Everyone loves Trader Joe’s mandarin orange chicken.  It took me a while before I discovered it, but it is good and an easy meal paired with rice and broccoli. It is their top selling item for a good reason!

My husband and I are obsessed with this kettle corn.  I think we probably just like kettle corn, but for some reason this stuff seems especially good. As a side note, I also got their white cheddar popcorn, and it seems better than what I usually buy too.
I became obsessed with the dark peanut butter cups last year for some reason (well, I don’t think it’s any mystery;  I love chocolate and peanut butter).  They are not a health food, but definitely a decadent treat. I had to arrange the last few pieces for this picture, so probably shouldn't be buying these again anytime soon.
I love their red Thai curry sauce.  I’ve blogged about how yummy the red Thai curry recipe is before, but it is one of my favorite meals to make in the fall and winter.  It is a comforting meal that is somewhat healthy and so easy to make. I seriously bought three jars. Another customer asked me if it was good, and like a crazy person I gave her the recipe while we were standing in the aisle.
Like everyone else, the real reason I would wander up to Trader Joe’s is for the inexpensive flowers.  You can get a beautiful orchid for under $15 and roses, tulips and hydrangeas for $5.  I bought two orchids last Tuesday, which may have been a bit crazy, but it is so much cheaper than Harris Teeter (the closest grocery store to us).
So thanks for bearing with me as I shared my list!  I definitely looked a bit bonkers as I filled my cart full of flowers and other frozen treats, but I think I’ve gotten my Trader Joe’s fix for a while! Is anybody else as obsessed?

Sarah Catherine is 15 Months!

Yesterday Sarah Catherine turned 15 months, so I couldn't resist an opportunity to do a quick post!
Stats: Probably around 24/25 pounds.  She was weighed  a few weeks ago at the allergist and she was 23 pounds, so she is probably around that.  She is wearing 12-18 month clothing and some 18 month clothes (but the pants usually drag to the ground so she isn't quite in them). She also has 12 teeth!
SC took a step or two on Halloween, but really started walking in mid-November.  I think story time helped her because she saw all the other toddlers walking about and wanted to be part of the fun.

She knows the word stinky and whenever there is something smelly she will put her finger to her nose and sniff.  It is hilarious and makes a part of me think we should start thinking about potty training, but I'm not sure if I'm up for all of that just yet.

She also knows her nose, toes, ears and belly button!

My FIL gave her a slide for Christmas and she can climb all the way up it, so between that and the stairs, she is keeping us on our toes!
Dislikes: When SC seems the vacuum, she will wave bye-bye to it because she is afraid of it.  She doesn’t like loud noises, with the exception of the hair dryer.  She is also a bit afraid of dogs (she hates the barking), which we are trying to work on. The husband's dream is to get a dog, so I'm hoping she will outgrow this soon.
She loves getting and giving claps.  She will clap when you finish singing or reading a book or just when anything delights her.
When she sees bananas, grapes and tomatoes at the grocery store, she furiously starts signing more and turning around in the cart to get at the food.  So grocery shopping is especially fun these days…She is very determined to get something once she decides she wants it.  One day, she found a 2 pound bag of grapes in the grocery bags, pulled it out and then hauled it around the house to make sure she got her point across.  Yup, SC’s favorite foods are bananas, grapes, tomatoes and whatever you might be sampling at the time.

Ever since she turned one I have been really anxious for her to give up the bottle, but a few weeks ago I came to the conclusion that she just needs a little bit more time with it.  We’ve been struggling with trying to figure out straws and sippy cups, and it had been pretty frustrating for both of us.  I had hoped that since her cleft palate had been repaired that she would be able to use a regular sippy cup, but they just weren’t working for her.  I finally went back to the 360 cup and she seems to be able to use that and we are also just practicing with a regular cup.  She is getting there, and now that we’ve given up the whole quest to drink out of a straw, I feel so much less stressed.  Sadly, my mom had been gently suggesting just moving to cup drinking the entire time, but I had to hear this from the cleft palate clinic coordinator for it to really sink in.

Speech:  Mama is still her go to word, but we’ve been working with a speech therapist to try to be as proactive with her speech development as possible. She is slowly starting to make a few more sounds, and her comprehension is there which is reassuring.

Allergies:  She has been officially cleared to have egg, so that is one less thing to worry about! She is still allergic to milk but can have baked milk.  She has adjusted fine to the almond milk, which has really helped. It is hard to believe that change has happened relatively recently. I am so glad to have the pumping and formula behind us!
We are so thankful for our dear girlie!

Five for Friday

Happy Friday! This week seemed short because at the beginning we had a few snow days, and it was really great to have some family time. Towards of the end of the week it warmed up and during nap time I finally organized our garage.  It isn't perfect, but it isn't a disaster anymore. It is amazing to think that we had nothing five months ago and now we are well on our way to acquiring our fair share of junk.  It felt really good to make a long-overdue trip to Goodwill.  Since the move, I haven't been super eager to get rid of things, but we definitely had some stuff that needed to be passed on!
We are finally getting a kitchen table!  For months now I had been debating if I should get a white or black table.  A few family members offered us some round tables, but my husband and I decided to hold out to get a piece that we really liked (read: the dumpster dive find from college wasn't going to make the cut). I was starting to despair that we would never find anything, but I found this table on sale from Target and we decided to just order.  I'm still not sure how it will look, but I'm crossing my fingers that it will work.
Speaking of home decor, I really want some fresh flowers now that all the Christmas things are put away. However, we have also spent an inordinate amount of money at the grocery store as of late, so I will be holding off and enjoying this candle centerpiece that my mom and dad gave me for Christmas.  Eventually a trip to Trader Joe's needs to happen though!
As I've previously mentioned, story time at the library is competitive and you have to sign up  as soon as registration opens.  I could tell that SC was really starting to enjoy it as she was becoming less shy, but the husband got to see first hand when they went to the library for the first time together.  Apparently once she realized where she was, she made a mad dash to the story time room and just stood there looking through the window forlornly.  I'm relieved that we were able to register for another six week session so that is in our near future!
One thing that SC has started doing is if I do a particularly good job with my singing and choreography, is clapping for me afterwards.  For the past few weeks Frosty the Snowman has been a favorite, but now it looks like if I am especially expressive reading books I also get a round of applause.  She likes my reading of Eric Carle's Opposites, with no less than five readings of it on Tuesday night followed by pretty enthusiastic clapping.  It is the funniest thing to me!

Even though I'm going into 2017 a bit reluctantly, I am excited about a new planner and a chance to get a little better organized.  While I used to pride myself on time management, I think that with SC I need to re-evaluate how I allocate my time.  If I don't plan for something, it won't magically happen, so I'm thinking I need to come up with at least a few tiny goals to make for myself each week.
This weekend we are heading to my parents' house to do a belated Christmas celebration and my sister is flying in for the visit.  I can't wait to spend time with everyone.  These past few weeks have been tough on my parents and I think it will be great to have this time together.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Goals for 2017

When I started this post, I was a bit worried that it might very well be February before I even formulated my New Year's resolutions, because I feel so very overwhelmed by all the things that I really should get accomplished.  Last year I was in such a state of adjustment that I didn't even think about resolutions. And let's face it, I'm pretty horrible with resolutions. I am tempted to not even bother, but when I look back through my blog, I see that the only times that I actually accomplish anything are when I have a goal. I don't want my life to feel like one big giant checklist, but at the same time, I've realize that my time management skills have deteriorated (maybe they were never that great?).  So here are a few things that I'm going to attempt to work on this year. I'm hoping to "schedule" a few things to accomplish each day during nap time, and hopefully that will help me manage my time a bit better.
Lose 10 pounds:  I still haven't lost the last ten pounds that I gained from being pregnant.  Ideally I'd like to lose more, but if I could lose 10 pounds, I would be at peace. I'll do the Cinch diet because that is pretty effective and works for me, but I don't think I'll be feeling up for that until February.  Regardless it needs to happen in 2017!
Do four yoga stretches each day, and attend yoga classes once or twice a week:  My flexibility has never been good, but after SC's birth, it has declined even more, so it is time to take action.

Learn how to use our camera: We have a nice camera, and I should really learn how to use it.  I think if I just watch a few tutorials that would help, but it is just a matter of making it a priority.
Read at least one book every month: Taking SC to story time allowed me to start reading again and made me feel more like myself, so I'd like to make sure I keep doing this.
Blog at least twice a week: Twice a week is enough to keep up with the simple happenings of our life and also keep it from being overwhelming.
Attend church as regularly as possible (hopefully at least two times a month) and get involved in the church community (maybe join a group?)

Cook one new recipe a week
Meal plan
Follow and adhere to the grocery budgetOrganize our pantry
Organize kitchen cabinets
Make labels for office organization
Organize desk
Organize linen closet
Create and implement a cleaning schedule

Here's hoping for a healthy and happy 2017, even if I am a little late in coming up with my goals!

Our Snow Adventure

This past weekend we got a bit of snow, which was perfect weather for cozying up and binge watching House of Cards.   I felt a bit under the weather at the end of last week, so the snow didn't really change our plans.  There was a bit of running around on Friday to make sure we had enough supplies (although there wasn't a snow shovel or ice melt to be had for miles around).  Saturday afternoon we decided to got outside to take a few pictures, but it ended up being quite the adventure of the weekend. First, a few pictures of   SC enjoying the snow.  It was something new, and she was fascinated by our little winter wonderland.

We decided to stay outside in the snow for awhile, and then headed in before SC could get too cold.  When we turned the knob on our backdoor it had automatically locked, which we had both forgotten about.  It didn't seem like too much of an issue though, since we can get in through the garage door...but then the keypad wasn't working.  It was then that we both started to panic and SC (probably sensing our worry and getting cold at this point) started crying.  We weren't really sure what to do because we knew a locksmith wouldn't be coming out in the weather, so we decided that the most rational option would be to try to use a brick to break through our backdoor.  Not our finest moment as homeowners.  But we didn't have the heart to break the glass (aka that glass is way stronger than you would think), so we headed over to our neighbor's house to try to get SC warm and figure out if they had any ideas.  We are both so glad that we did because they helped us realize it was just a battery issue with our garage keypad, so it was an easy fix. But it sure did feel pretty dramatic as we stood locked outside of our toasty house in the snow with a wailing toddler.  The upside of this whole adventure is we met some new neighbors and didn't actually damage our house...but what a homeowner fail on our end!  Needless to say, we spent the rest of the weekend safely ensconced in our house, with the exception of the husband spending hours shoveling the driveway on Sunday.  It's probably a good thing that this area doesn't usually get too much snow, because we are clearly not up for the challenge! Anybody else have any snow adventures?  Hopefully none as exciting as ours!

New Year's Day Recap!

For New Year's Eve the only thing I really want is a cheeseball (I know everyone makes fun of them, but they are a holiday staple to me) and some sparkling wine to ring in the new year.  This holiday SC went down at her usual time, despite the fact that our neighbors celebrated with fireworks all night.  Who knew we would be getting a free show?
On New Year's Day, we decided to go visit my parents.  They were still under the weather a bit (we kept SC away from my dad, which is why there are no pictures of him), so here's hoping that we won't get sick, but it was really nice to be able to celebrate with them. My parents got her a book that sings "Old Macdonald" when you push a button and she was a huge fan.  They had also gotten her a similar book that sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and at various points over the weekend she had them both going simultaneously.  It was pretty hilarious how seriously she took it upon herself to keep the  nursery song round going.
Her big gift from them was a Smart Trike.   The husband put it together and she was pretty obsessed with having us push her around in it. 
That evening the husband made crispy collard greens and black eyed peas. 
While the husband was forcing himself to choke a few down, SC was happily chomping away and asked for more three times.  So hopefully we will have a lucky 2017!

My Uncle Keith

One thing I didn't mention in my Christmas recap is that my uncle passed away on Christmas Eve.  He had been sick for several months and, to be honest, did suffer at some points during the end.  We are thankful that he is no longer in pain, but it is still sad. It is especially hard on my mom because he was the last of her three brothers.  My mom's side of the family lived out west, so in a way it all feels very surreal.  Growing up we would go visit every summer, and now there are very few people left from all of those happy memories. 

My Uncle Keith was never one to complain and always put his family first.  Every day after work he would come visit my grandparents.  I remember those afternoons, when my grandpa would sit in his rocking chair in the breezeway, my grandma would fuss over his arrival and bring out some cookies, and my brother, sister and I would be buzzing around-riding bikes around the block, racing up and down the stairs, and finally collapsing on the glider porch swing.  The conversations were never really about much at all, but the important thing is that we were together.  The last time I saw him was when he, my aunt, my cousin and his wife made the cross-country drive to my wedding.  My aunt had previously suffered a stroke and truly the journey defied the odds, but my aunt and uncle were there to help us celebrate one of the most significant days of our lives. My Uncle Keith always made the effort, even when it wasn't easy. He knew that time is how you spend your love.

Children of the heavenly Father
safely in His bosom gather;
nestling bird nor star in heaven
such a refuge e’er was given.

Neither life nor death shall ever
from the Lord His children sever;
unto them His grace He showeth,
and their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne'er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
to preserve them pure and holy.

A Winter Beach Visit

The day after Christmas, my sister and her husband came to visit!  Originally, my parents were going to come too, but they were both recovering from bronchitis (and my dad from surgery earlier this month).  My brother and sister-in-law had also thought about coming down, but they are adjusting to both of them having pretty crazy work schedules and a two month old baby, so it was just too much.  As soon as my parents are feeling better, we will celebrate together, but I was so glad that I could have a few days with my sister.  While we both just wanted to relax and regroup a bit, we decided that a little afternoon trip to the beach would be fun, so off we went!

We just went after SC's nap, and the sky seemed so beautiful.  I really do love being by the water.
I love watching my sister and SC interact. They kept trading a little shell back and forth.
SC actually did a good job walking along the beach, which I thought was pretty impressive.  It's crazy to think the last time we were there she had just turned one and wasn't steady on her feet yet.
That was the main event besides a trip to the park and a viewing of Bridget Jones' Baby during SC's nap time.  It was good to have a little sister time!

Christmas 2016 Recap!

This was our first year celebrating Christmas in our new home and our first time hosting!  The Thursday before Christmas my FIL arrived to celebrate with us.  Since the husband had work on Friday, we met him downtown during his lunch break and then just hung out at home afterwards. His mom arrived later that evening and then Saturday was Christmas Eve!
We kept things pretty quiet for SC, but went to the family Christmas Eve service.  It was really wonderful.  A great message over the sounds of restless babies and children, and singing Silent Night with glow sticks instead of candles.  A joyful service indeed!
That evening we played a trivia game after SC went to sleep, and then on Sunday morning it was Christmas Day! The husband made cinnamon rolls for our Christmas breakfast.
Meanwhile SC had her banana muffin and apples in her high chair.
I felt a little bad because my husband and I actually didn't buy SC gifts this year, but her grandparents, great-grandma and great-aunt made sure Santa was good to her! 
It was so much fun to watch SC explore the presents under the tree.  She enjoyed opening this gift for about thirty minutes!  It's clear she is an only child!
SC's great-aunt and uncle gave her these really nice silicone blocks, which so far I think all the adults may be enjoying a bit too much.  Fortunately SC usually is down with sharing.
That night we went about making the ham, green beans and crescent rolls.  Originally, I had a bigger meal planned, but no one seemed overly interested, so we just kept things simple.  I had never made a ham before, so my FIL assisted.  We tried this new glaze recipe, which was delicious and easy. 
So, all in all a wonderful Christmas Day celebration!