Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goodbye high heels, Hello highchairs

Last May, my company announced its plans to relocate to Atlanta.  I wrote then about my dilemma and that I was struggling with what to do.  I've worked at my company for 6 years.  I have worked incredibly hard, been promoted several times and think I've earned a fair amount of respect.  I report directly to the CFO and have a nice office and parking space, and enjoy the people I work with a lot.  Although it hasn't been without its stresses and long days and weekends, it's been a really good place for me to work the last six years. 

So when the move was announced, I was thrown.  Tim and I spent over a year in this strange limbo, where we weren't sure what to do.  We wanted more space but didn't want to do anything more with the house until we knew what our plans were.

There were a lot of advantages to moving to Atlanta for us:  bigger home, warmer weather, leaving Illinois and being able to get out of the declined market value on our home, staying with my job and the security it offered, and a financial bonus to move.

But there were a lot of disadvantages too:  we'd be further from family, Tim would have to find a new job, the location of my new office wouldn't be near the probable location of Tim's new office and trying to find a good location between the two would be difficult.  Plus, being a two-career family was starting to wear on us.

We kept wavering back and forth in our decision, with each of us gung-ho on moving at one point while the other was unsure and vice versa.  But my decision was ultimately made in July/August, when the stresses at work reached their maximum levels.

We decided that moving for my job is not in the cards right now.

This means I will be job-less in June. And I'm going to take the opportunity to stay home with the kids for a while.

This is a scary prospect for me.   I started babysitting at age 11.  I started my first job on my 16th birthday, the very first day I was eligible.  Work has always been a huge definer of who I am.  I worked very hard to get where I am in my career, made a lot of sacrifices to get where I am, and I know that if I stayed with my company, I'd continue to have a lot of success in my career. 

But at what cost?

I really struggle with how little time I'm spending with my children. The time we do have is very meaningful and their mom is still the most important person in their lives.  But I still crave more.  So after my job ends, I'm going to take a little bit of time off and decide where to go from there.  It will be a good opportunity to "try out" being a stay-at-home-mom and decide if it's something I want to do full-time.  If it's not for me, then back to the office I go and I'll find another job.  If it is for me, then we'll make some changes in our lifestyle and our finances and do our best to make it happen for the longer term.

I know it'll be a huge change.  No more high heels, daily routine, quickly running errands on my lunch hour, adult conversations.  Now it'll be the never ending stream of preparing meals, cleaning the house, cleaning up faces, wiping noses, time outs, mediating fights.  But hopefully those mundane tasks will be broken up by lots of hugs, laughs, cuddles, tickles, songs, books and kisses.

I am incredibly nervous about this "new life" I'll be taking on but oh so excited too!
THIS is how I'd rather spend my days!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Big Fat Fall Post

Fall used to be my favorite season.  And then the realization hit me that fall is too quickly proceeded by Winter, which (living in the arctic circle as I do) is my least favorite season.  So now I greet fall with the happiness that wearing boots and scarves, drinking apple cider and eating pumpkin spice hershey kisses brings, but with the apprehension of knowing that cold and dark and ice is coming soon.

Our fall so far:

Labor Day
Does Labor Day count as Fall?  I'm going to count it because a) it's the unofficial end of summer holiday and b) I haven't posted our pictures yet so this is as good a post as any to throw them in, right?  Although it definitely didn't feel like Fall because it was hot, hot, hot!

Per our usual routine, we went to our local town's Labor Day celebration.  They have a great kids area, with a dozen bouncy houses and activities for the entire family.  I had to work Saturday and Sunday but took Monday off and spent a much needed day with the family.
Last year we watched the pony rides but this year, we hoisted Barrett up onto the pony for his first ride. Without hesitation, he held on, even pushing Tim away at one point so he could do it himself.  Such a big boy. 

Little boy with hot pink cheeks.  It was so hot, especially after jumping your heart out in a few bouncy houses. 
 Little Audrey slept most of the time. It was very hot holding her, but she slept great. 

Apple Picking

We made our annual trek to a pick-your-own apple orchard and had a blast.  This was our 4th time going here and it's funny to think that the first we were childless (and carefree. and wrinkle free. and bags-under-the-eyes free), the second I was wearing Barrett, last year I was pregnant with Audrey and this time I'm wearing her.  Pardon me while I get all weepy about how fast time is flying.

Okay, I'm back.

So we had a gorgeous September day to hit the apple orchard.   I was a little nervous about going because this place gets crowded and due to the early spring followed by a freeze and the super dry summer, the trees struggled this year.  But I think we got there early enough in the season and in the day that the trees still had some apples. 

Before we made our way to the orchards, we had to stop for a gratuitous photo op with the two cutest pumpkins in the patch.

(Please disregard Barrett's sock & sandal combination.  He's a two year old boy with strong opinions on footwear.) 

Showing off his picks

After the apple-picking, we went inside for some apple cider and apple cider doughnuts.

The orchard had other kids activities and so we boarded Barrett onto the Apple Train.  I'm not sure how he felt about it, since he was alone, but he hung in there without complaint.  Maybe next year he'll enjoy it more.

I have a new little helper in the kitchen these days.  Barrett loves helping me out.
So far this fall, we made some delicious seasonal recipes.

One was this Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage.   I make it once each fall and we gobble it up.  It's not necessarily my favorite meal to prepare, but it tastes really good to eat so is worth it.

Another fall recipe I die over is Pumpkin Pancakes.   I could eat these every day.  I like to spread butter and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and forgo syrup.  But is there really a bad way to eat pumpkin pancakes?  The kids devoured these (I think Barrett may have had three) so I definitely need to make these again before the end of fall.
photo from
But our favorite recipe this year just may be these Pumpkin Spice Cookies.

They are made with Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses.  If there was any way of making these bite-sized pieces of heaven even better, it's to add them to the top of a spice cookie.

I think Barrett agrees
Smelling the deliciousness

waiting patiently until I give him the green light

 He was definitely my little helper on this endeavor, which we did on Columbus Day while Audrey napped.  He loves to smell all the ingredients, pour them into the bowl, and stir.  Evidence of his stirring is seen in flour dusting on his chin in the photos.  He kneels on the stool next to me on the island and waits for his turn to "help."

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
(I can't remember where I got this recipe)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2-3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 package Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap Hershey Kisses and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.
3.  Add vanilla and eggs and beat until light and fluffy.
4.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Gradually add to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.
6. Place rounded tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined or sprayed cookie sheet.
7. Bake 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately press a Hershey Kiss into the center of the cookie. Move to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Run, don't walk, to the kitchen to make these.  They are awesome.  Seriously.  I have a few uncooked in my freezer and it's taken all my willpower to not eat them all immediately.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Audrey - 10 months

Happy 10 months, dear Audrey!  She is inching closer and closer, literally and figuratively, to a year now and it's really catching me off guard.

The first few months, I wasn't completely convinced that Audrey wasn't switched at birth at the hospital.  When I was pregnant, she was the craziest, liveliest little thing in my belly but was born and proceeded to sleep non-stop.  It felt like I barely saw her awake for the first few months.   But now there's no doubt in my mind that she's the same little girl that I was pregnant with.  She is a wild thing!

She has boycotted naps.  She still sleeps great during the night, about 12 hours non-stop, but refuses to quiet down and nap during the day.  She currently takes about one 30-45 minute nap and maybe will fall asleep in the car on the way home at night, if she's really tired.  I think she's afraid she'll miss something.  She wants to be involved in everything and doesn't want to be left out.   A few times she's fallen asleep in her highchair or just sitting on the floor, because she's so tired but will not let us put her in her crib.  Such a change from the first few months.

Her little personality is really starting to shine through and she's a rascal!  She's a total sweetheart - loves to be held most of the time, likes cuddles.  She plays games with us, like tilting her head with a big smile and mimicking us.  She gives us big smiles when she sees us.  When I come into her daycare room, she whips her head around when she hears my voice, gives me a huge grin and comes racing over on her hands and knees to be picked up.  She is a momma's girl, as much as she can be with her brother competing heavily for attention.

But she's also wild and crazy and becoming a determined little miss.  She makes a beeline for Payton's bowls anytime she has the opportunity.  Just like Barrett used to, she'll splash her hands in the water until we catch her and take them away.  She goes after Barrett's toys with the same determination - will sneak up and snatch them and not want to let go.  Barrett gets very upset "No, Audee, that's mine!" and I can't help but feel a little happy that she's so assertive.  She's also 10 months going on 10 years.  She wants to be with the big kids.  She moved up to the next room in daycare and loves to follow all the kids around and play with whatever they have.  She tries her best to keep up and looks so cute, tiny little thing, crawling around after them in her little dresses.

She is wearing size 2 diapers still but they are really becoming too small so we'll move up to 3s when we finish these.  She's wearing size 12 month clothes.

The last of her top and bottom front teeth are coming in, bringing her teeth total to 8.

Her favorite things are:  her brother, being held, Payton's bowls, grabbing noses, bouncing, when I hold her and we chase Barrett, dancing, and crawling away during diaper changes.

Her least favorite things: diaper changes, getting her nose wiped, having her hair rinsed during baths, and being put down for naps.

She's still more reserved in general than Barrett was with strangers.  He was much more social and lively and Audrey is more self-contained.  When strangers make googly eyes at her or smile, she just stares with a very serious expression.  But those of us who know her can definitely bring a smile to her face quickly.  Neck nibbling and cheek kissing are guaranteed to bring laughs.

Her eating continues to astonish me.  She is such a little piggy these days and I love it!  So far I haven't found too many solids that she's refused.  She didn't care for kiwi or raw raspberries but has proceeded to wolf down everything else I give her - bread, cheese, soups, beans, pasta, pizza, pancakes, fruits - she eats it all.
okay, I know food-on-the-face photos aren't everyone's favorite but I'm so thrilled with her eating, I must share! 

People are constantly telling me that she looks like a little doll, with  her perfect skin, rosy cheeks and blue eyes.  For me, words cannot adequately express how much I love my little girl.  Pretty much every time I hold her, I'm still astonished at how beautiful she is, how fun she is and how much I love her.