State of Affairs, December Edition

There were lots and lots of Christmas-related events this month, of course.  We began with our now-annual trip to the local John Deere store to visit Santa and take a sleigh ride.  The girls were still a little apprehensive this year, but ended up having a precious little visit with Santa.  


Other holiday outings included the Christmas parade, the MDO Christmas program, the church Christmas program (both of which the girls participated in), Jeremy's work dinner (complete with Santa, again), a shopping and family evening out at Bridge Street, and various family gatherings.

Elf fun!

Aside from all those things, Jeremy and I:  had our annual shopping date, attended my work Christmas party, attended a surprise birthday dinner for a friend (Happy 30th, Mandy!), hosted a Progressive dinner for the youth from church, saw a movie on Christmas night, and made all manner of small shopping trips throughout the month.

It was quite the whirlwind month, but somehow, I felt much less pressure this year.  I don't feel like we overdid it leading up to Christmas, and there weren't too many obligations keeping us busy.  I officially declare December a success!

Books read: 3
The List--Siobhan Vivian is one of the hot YA authors right now, at least from my observances.  This was my first book of hers, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I am reminded for the ten millionth time how thankful I am that I will never have to go to high school again (and how I dread those years for my children...even if they are good years, they are just SO dramatic.)

Alabama Moon--I saw this book in a local bookstore while we were in Mobile in October.  I didn't have any money with me at the time, so I waited and found it at the college library.  Written by an Alabama native, it's the story of a boy raised in the woods, completely removed from civilization (think Doomsday Preppers to the extreme)...which is all fine and good until his father dies, leaving him all alone.  Alabama Moon is a unique adventure story that is great for just about anyone (young teenagers and up).

Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover--Technically, I've been reading on this one awhile and I expect to return to it many times in the future.  Nearly everyone has heard of Dave Ramsey, and with good reason.  I am looking forward to getting started with some of these principles in the new year!

Movies watched: 3
Pitch Perfect--(This is available on DVD now, but it's still relatively new, so I'm including it on my list.)  My sister and I watched this on Christmas Eve, while I buzzed around preparing gifts for the next morning.  It is such a fun movie!  If you like music, Glee, or anything along those lines, definitely see this one.

This is 40--Jeremy, Laura, and I saw this in the theater on Christmas night.  It's a Judd Apatow movie, so true to his style, there is quite a bit of language.  We laughed a lot though.  I enjoy Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in pretty much anything.

Parental Guidance--Jeremy and I saw this on Saturday night when we got the chance to go on an all-too-rare date.  We both liked this movie very much, and Bette Midler was fantastic.  It's a great movie to watch with family.

I think part of the reason I didn't feel so overwhelmed with Christmas this year is that I laid off a lot of the craft projects I usually spend so much time on.  There were several things I meant to do--tote bags, bookmarks, photo books--but it just didn't happen, and it was totally fine.  I got Christmas cards sent, so I call it a win.

Also, Mama got a new camera for Christmas (well, technically, I got it the day after Christmas), so look out for the onslaught of pictures to come!  I am totally using full AUTO right now, and I haven't even had a chance to play around in the outside light, but I already love it.

Here are a couple of pictures from Jeremy's grandparents this weekend:





And with that, I complete the entire year of these state of affairs posts.  Can you believe it?  I don't know for sure that I will continue to do it next year, but I think I might.  I like having the chance to look back on the month, to find a few things to remember.

2012 was good to us; I look forward to seeing what 2013 holds.  Happy New Year!


Christmas Eve Thoughts

As Jeremy so helpfully pointed out a couple of nights ago, I haven't done all that well with my promise to get back to regular blogging this month.  Like most everyone, we have been busy, busy, busy with holiday preparations and activities.

We accomplished many of the things on the Holiday Bucket List this year, but as usual, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all.  I think that's the theme of Christmas this year:  We don't have to do it all.

As I sit here on Christmas Eve afternoon, in my warm house with the tree lights glowing, my children playing with gifts from this morning's celebration, thinking of all the joy that is yet to come over the next two days, I can't help but feel that we already have all we could ever need.  Why worry about that one last gift I meant to buy or that dessert I intended to finally make this year? 

Here's to a fabulous Christmas full of family, friends, food, and the celebration of our Savior's birth.  Indeed, we do have it all.

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!



Holiday Menu Planning

I don't normally put a whole lot of thought into the meals we eat around the holidays, but this year, Jeremy and I are more interested in food and cooking than ever before.  We are having Christmas morning at our house for the first time this year--a gathering that has always been at my mom's.  I feel like I should contribute a little more than usual in that area, which requires some planning.  And we are having Jeremy's parents and sister over on the Sunday before Christmas, which adds one more meal into the mix.

Here's what I have in mind:

Sunday, December 23:  Christmas with Jeremy's family

Smoked ham (J will do this during the day)
Potato Salad (made by my MIL)
Green Bean Casserole (made by my SIL)
Macaroni and Cheese (Largely for A & M)
Stuffed Eggs
Green Vegetable--maybe asparagus or brussels sprouts?
Chocolate Trifle

Christmas Eve:  Christmas with my Dad 
*If we get together with my Dad at his house, which now seems likely, I'll fix the soup anyway and we will have it for supper.

White Chicken Chili (awesome crockpot recipe I need to share!)
Assorted toppings:  shredded cheese, sour cream, corn chips
A dessert, most likely provided by my stepmom

Christmas Day:  Breakfast/Brunch with my Mom and family

Breakfast casserole (likely one with eggs, so I don't feel like I have to scramble more)
Sausage stars
Biscuits and/or toast
Leftover smoked ham
Warm Strawberry Compote

Have you planned your meals for next week?  Anyone have a great vegetable or baked mac n' cheese recipe to share?

Happy one-week-til-Christmas! 

After the Christmas program at school


State of Affairs, November Edition

{I was shocked to realize just now that I only blogged TWICE in November.  Unacceptable.  I hereby pledge to post at least five times in December!}

Geez, since I obviously didn't have time to blog, you might think we were just busy, busy, busy during November.  Sadly, I can't remember much about the month at all.  Maybe I'll just call it The Lost Month?


Looking at my calendar, I now see that we went to a friend's wedding in Tennessee, attended Grace's 4th birthday party (an artist party, where the girls painted a butterfly on a canvas and they LOVED it), and had our best friends over for a dinner/play date.  We had Thanksgiving at church, which provided meals to over 100 people this year (!!!), and a second impromptu Thanksgiving that night with just the four of us, comprised largely of leftovers.  I had four holidays from work--Veteran's Day and three days for Thanksgiving--and again, I really can't tell you much about those days at all.  Obviously, we were very exciting in November.

Love these kiddos!

My sister did come home for most of Thanksgiving week.  We stayed up far too late, shopped, ate, watched movies, and crossed several items off the Holiday Bucket List.  It was a great visit, and left me looking forward to more time together over Christmas.

Books read:  2
The Leftovers-- It felt like it took me forever to read this book, and judging by the fact that I only read two during the entire month, it did!  I liked it okay, but it took me about half the (considerably sized) book to start caring about the characters at all.  Still, kind of a nice ending.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-- I'm picking back up with my re-read of Harry Potter.  It's about this point in the story that I start to really be amazed at the huge amount of plot planning that went into these books.  I've heard it said that J.K. Rowling knew the end of the story from the time she created it, and I can definitely see how that would be true.  She had to have had SO MANY details pre-planned for the series to flow as well as it does.  Just amazing...


I went on a clean out & donate spree this month.  I cleaned out the big hall closet, which contains all of my craft supplies, wrapping supplies, spare gift items, and lots of other random junk.  A couple of hours and three donation bags later, it was neat and organized, with lots of space to spare.  

My cousin did a pick up for Salvation Army and we filled the bed of her truck with items to donate.  I even made a quick decision to toss on the armchair we were just moving out of the living room to make room for the Christmas tree.  It needed to go...which means I get to look for a new one in January!  I am feeling very inspired by all this purging, and I'm ready to tackle other areas of the house as soon as I can make some time.

Christmas lights!

We put Christmas lights up outside for the first time ever.  The experience was, as you might imagine, not altogether enjoyable, but I think we have most of the kinks worked out now.  : )

Now we are just looking forward to a December full of holiday goodness!

(And more blogging from me, of course!)


Holiday Bucket List {2012}

Last year, I made a Bucket List to organize our plans and must-dos for the holiday season.  Though we didn't cross every single item off the list, it was nice to have a bit of direction for the time of year that can quickly become overwhelming.

It's easy to get carried away and think we have to participate in every activity, make every craft, and buy every "must-have" gift.  The rising popularity of Pinterest during the last two years has only added to the do everything pressure (at least for me), but having a list of the things that are most important to us makes it easier to keep a bit of focus throughout the season.

This is my beginning "wish list", if you will, sure to be edited and adapted many times over the coming weeks.  But it's a start, and it sure has me excited about the holidays!

  1. Serve a free Thanksgiving dinner at church and enjoy spending the day with family, friends, and community members.  
  2. Pore over the giant stack of Black Friday ads.  Reaffirm that we like sleep a whole lot and equally dislike crowds, so Black Friday shopping is NOT for us.  
  3. Watch the Alabama/Auburn game while putting up Christmas decorations.
  4. Let Addison & Mackenzie help with decorating this year--maybe the small tree in their room.
  5. Have many family movie nights to watch Christmas favorites.  (We have already watched Rudolph this year and The Grinch is waiting on DVR.)
  6. Introduce the girls to the goodness of real hot chocolate with marshmallows.
  7. Watch Love, Actually with my Laura Jo (hoping to cross this one off the list this week!).
  8. Do some kind of Advent activity.  Make some type of calendar/countdown.
  9. Make and deliver holiday treats for our neighbors.
  10. Bundle up and take an evening walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the Christmas lights.
  11. Surprise the girls with a pre-bedtime drive around town to see the best Christmas lights, complete with pajamas and hot chocolate.  (I saw this idea on Pinterest somewhere, and I love it!)
  12. Have fun reading through the stack of new Christmas books I just ordered for this year.  Some will be wrapped as small gifts and spread out through the month of December.
  13. Get a picture with Santa.  (Done!  At school last week, and M even sat in his lap.)
  14. Visit the Opryland Hotel in all its holiday glory. 
  15. Let the girls do some fun Christmas crafts and help with holiday baking.
  16. Spend lots of late nights crafting, wrapping, and talking with my sister.
  17. Have a date night at home with Jeremy--with the fireplace going, a movie, and some kind of delicious food.
  18. Enjoy a now-traditional shopping date with Jeremy.
  19. Make a list of gifts for each person and STICK TO IT.
  20. Try to incorporate something handmade into as many gifts as possible.
  21. Have lots of fun wrapping the girls' gifts and finding creative places to hide them.
  22. Read the story of Jesus's birth from the Bible with the girls on Christmas Eve.
  23. Host my family on Christmas morning.  (This is a new one--we've always been at my mom's--and I'm pretty excited about it!)
  24. Relax and enjoy the time with family and friends.  Let go of the idea of perfection.  Think less about the messy house and more about the memories being made.  
Merry Christmas

What's on YOUR list this year?


State of Affairs, October Edition

October was one of our busiest months in a long time.  I started out feeling very overwhelmed with all we had planned, but it turned out to be a pretty successful month on the whole.


We kicked off October with a trip to see The Fresh Beat Band live in concert.  It was the girls' first live show of any kind, and they really had a great time.  It was so fun to see their amazement that the Fresh Beat Band members they love so much were right there on the stage.  Mackenzie kept waving at them, saying "Hi Kiki!  Hi Marina!"...and then I died of the cuteness.


After the Fresh Beat Band, we had birthday parties two Saturdays in a row, then family pictures on a warm Sunday afternoon.  We watched our town's Homecoming parade and spent an evening at a fall festival at a local elementary school, where Mackenzie rode a pony for the first time.  (Afterward, she proclaimed, "I think I'm pretty good at that!"  Addison was pretty nervous and decided not to ride.)  The following Friday, we left out bright and early, headed to Mobile for a wedding weekend.

We all needed a break after that, so the last weekend of the month was a quiet one at home, thankfully.  Finally, we ended the month on a great note with some fun trick-or-treating for my two butterflies.

"Butterfly fairies"

I don't even know...

It was a whirlwind of a month and we were all ready for a rest by the end, but we had a blast in October!

Books read:  2
I'm kind of in a book rut here...not really sure what that's about, but it's probably mostly due to the fact that I always start to feel a little overwhelmed this time of year.  Between holiday planning, regular work stuff, approaching exams and papers for my students, and all the aforementioned fall activities, I don't feel like I have a lot of time left for reading.  I'm determined to power through it though; this month, I'm giving myself permission to purchase a book I really want to read (that I can't find in the library), even if I have to pay full price for it (gasp!).

The Story of Us--A YA book about a girl on the cusp of major changes.  Just about ready to leave home for college, Cricket is making big decisions about the future of her relationship with her longtime boyfriend, Janssen.  I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it either.  It was just...meh.  Felt like it took forever to read, which I think contributed to my reading rut.

Looking for Alaska--Written by the highly-regarded YA author John Green, this book has been on my list for awhile.  I devoured it in the weekend we spent in Mobile, mostly on the ride home.  Beautifully written and haunting, this is one I most definitely recommend.

Ehh, not a whole lot of time for any of it this month.  Jeremy has joined me in watching Nashville, adding one more show to our weekend rotation.  We record our shows during the week, then watch them together on the weekend when we're home together.  I love our routine, though yes, I realize that makes me sound old and lame. 

Are you watching Nashville?  Any favorite new shows this season?

-- I made an outfit that I gave as a gift for the first time.  My sewing is nowhere near perfect, but I'll keep practicing.
-- Christmas craft planning is in full swing!  Seen any cute ideas lately??
-- I am SO happy crockpot and soup weather is here.  Potato soup on tap for the weekend!!

Can you believe it's November already?  Can you believe I've nearly made it through the whole year with these State of Affairs posts?  I can't...I never follow through with anything!  


Gratuitous Kid Pictures {Fancy Dress Style!}

Last weekend, Addison & Mackenzie attended their first wedding AND got to be flower girls!  I was a little nervous, mainly because the wedding was in South Alabama, which meant a weekend of pretty substantial travel for us.  I was afraid the girls might be so tired from the long trip that they might not be on their best behavior.  Plus, this would be only their second time to stay in  hotel, which could mean less sleep than usual.

Love, love, LOVED our historic hotel!

To my surprise, the entire weekend was better than I dared to imagine.  We packed in the car early Friday morning and had a very uneventful trip down to Mobile.  It was about six hours and we only stopped for breakfast and gas, and Addison & Mackenzie even took a pretty good nap.  A success!

After a quick rest, sandwich, and change of clothes, we turned around and headed thirty minutes north to the rehearsal.  A & M complied well, but quickly grew tired of all the standing around and waiting the rehearsal itself involved.  I assured them that the next day would be better--they would only have to run through the process once and it would be finished!  At some point, the girls started holding hands as they walked down the aisle, which of course, was completely adorable.  I asked if someone told them to do that or they did it on their own and they told me they just wanted to hold hands.  Melt my heart!


With the groom on the morning of his wedding

We were able to spend some time exploring downtown Mobile on Saturday morning, along with Auntie LJ, who came over from Baton Rouge for the wedding.  (We crammed six of us in one hotel room--me, Jeremy, Addison, Mackenzie, Laura Jo, and my mom--and it worked beautifully.  It was actually pretty fun!)


Addison was terrified to stand on the wall



They seriously spent nearly an hour in the hotel lobby, watching Mickey Mouse on an iPhone.  Ha!

I'll just let the pictures speak for the rest of the day.  I pretty much put my camera up once the wedding started and didn't even take a single picture at the reception, but everything was absolutely beautiful and we all had a blast.


Hands on the hips!




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 100_3680 - Version 2

A little blurry, but I still love it.

After a delicious brunch with the bride, groom, and some other North AL friends on Sunday morning, we took a few last pictures with Auntie LJ and started the trip home.





I love this moment!

Again, the trip was fantastic, with only one stop this time and some pretty great naps for the girls.  Jeremy drove the entire way (thanks again, honey!!) and I was able to get cozy in the small third row and read most of Looking for Alaska. It was probably our smoothest car trip yet.  Wedding weekend success!


"But we're the SAME!"

Several months ago, I pondered how my children might begin to grasp the concept of their twinship.  I wondered if they knew that their relationship was different from other siblings' relationships, if they realized at all what it means to be a twin.

Since I wrote that post, a couple of incidents have shown me that while they might not know how different their situation is, Addison & Mackenzie are definitely developing an understanding of their relationship to one another. 


The first incident occurred sometime over the summer.  The girls each had a sucker and Mackenzie's got stuck in her hair.  After working to untangle it with minimal damage, I told M we would have to throw her sucker away, since it was now covered in strands of hair.  Naturally, that didn't go over too well and she burst into tears.  I felt bad that she was so upset, but it was a learning experience about being careful with candy. 

At some point in her crying, Mackenzie began urging me to throw Addison's sucker away as well.  I explained that no, I wouldn't throw Addison's sucker away because she didn't have hair on hers, since she was handling it the right way.  After a few minutes of this conversation, Mackenzie exclaimed, "But we do the same things!!!"  She began repeating it over and over:  But we're the same!  We do the same things!

As astonished as I was at the direction that incident took, I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for my girl.  Mackenzie is so accustomed to being treated the exact same way as her sister that she couldn't believe Addison could continue eating her sucker when she no longer had one. 

I just don't know exactly how to feel about that situation.  Proud that my girls are treated so equally that it's such a travesty when they don't get to do the exact same thing?  Glad that they have no concept of preferential treatment?  Or maybe a little sad that they see themselves as such a single unit that M really couldn't understand why I wouldn't make A throw her sucker away as well?  I've done a lot of thinking about the concept of individuality for my girls, and it seems I have a lot more to think about in this area!


Another incident occurred on the way home from Mobile this past weekend.  When we stopped at a favorite shop in south Alabama, my mom let each of the girls pick out a toy.  They both chose small plush dogs that came stuffed inside a little carrying purse.  They each grabbed one quickly--Addison had a white dog and Mackenzie a brown one.  I pointed out several other options, including a precious monkey-in-a-purse, but all were quickly dismissed.  

Everything was great for a couple of hours after we resumed the drive home.  We removed the tags from the toys (though the saleslady couldn't believe we wanted the tags cut off...she was worried about preserving the authenticity...of the TOY my children couldn't wait to PLAY with.  I guess they're like beanie babies and lose their "value" once the tag is removed??) and the girls both fell asleep holding their new friends.  

Sometime after they woke up, Mackenzie decided she wanted to see Addison's dog.  Addison did not want to give hers up, even for a temporary swap, so we told Mackenzie she would have to settle for playing with her dog for the time being.  After some fussing, Mackenzie began insisting that they toys belonged to both her and Addison--"We share these doggies, right sissy?".  Jeremy, mom, and I reminded her again and again that they had each chosen the toy they wanted and Addison did not have to share hers if she didn't want to, nor did she (Mackenzie) have to share with Addison.  

Now, we have more toys than we know what to do with and there is virtually no sense of individual ownership between the girls.  It's not usually a big deal, since A & M switch between toys at the speed of light anyway, and more often than not, they are playing together happily.  There are a couple of items--a bear, a stuffed cat--that pretty much "belong" to one or the other of the girls, but for the most part, everything is joint property.  Still, it was kind of funny to hear M keep insisting that "these are both ours, right?", just waiting for someone to agree with her.  (We didn't.)

I had been thinking of ways that I might begin to give them some sense of ownership over certain items, maybe begin to encourage their different interests a bit, and yeah, the fuss over the sharing of the dogs reinforced that plan.  At the very least, I want to pick out a small gift for each girl at Christmas that will belong solely to her.  Not just a duplicate or slight variation of the same item, but a gift that has meaning for each of them, something that reflects an individual interest.  Now, just to figure out what those gifts might be...


How much do your children share?  Do they have possessions of their own, or is it a free-for-all?  How do you encourage their different interests?


The moments that matter

So last week I was all, "Hey, of course I can find five minutes to put down a few thoughts now and then.  No big deal!"  And yet here it is, more than a week later and I've made no more progress.  I knew this month was going to be ridiculously busy, but wow...some days I feel like I am just spinning my wheels.

I am drowning in a sea of laundry and haven't seen the bottom of a laundry basket in weeks.  Wilting ferns are still lingering on the front porch, as I haven't yet picked up the mums and pumpkins to replace them.  Last month, I bought a new shower curtain and bath mat for the girls' bathroom...and it's still sitting in the bag under the counter.  Every night I have plans to cross something off the to-do list, something in mind to accomplish for the day, but by the time the girls are in bed and the kitchen is back in order, all I want to do is crash on the couch.

But you know, when I consider the things that have gotten in the way of these seemingly important tasks, I just don't feel that badly about it at all.

These last few weeks have been full of birthday parties, a Homecoming parade, visits with A & M's great-grandparents, and movie nights on a pallet in the living room floor.  We made a trip to the library and had breakfast at our local bakery.  There have been loud, rambunctious dinners out with family and lots of (relatively) quiet dinners at our kitchen table.  We tossed a football around the yard and watched the girls learn to throw their very first softballs--pink softballs, at that. 

Homecoming Parade!

Cupcake face

In short, we have been busy living, so really, what are a few baskets of laundry or dead ferns in comparison to all the memories we've made?  The things we are busy doing while we aren't cleaning the house are the important things.  When Addison & Mackenzie think back to their childhood, will they remember the piled up laundry or that their mama didn't get fall decorations out, or will they remember the day we covered the shower walls with shaving cream and 'fingerpainted' for an hour?  Judging by the way they kept squealing with laughter and Mackenzie's declaration that "This is so much fun, Mama!!", I am guessing it will be the latter.


Yes, this is the good stuff, the moments that matter. These are the times when memories are made...and I'll take those over an empty laundry basket any day.


Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose

The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the title:  Sad Desk Salad.  Unique, right?  When I received the book, I was struck by the cute cover.  It's exactly the type of book I can't resist picking up, just to see what it's all about.

Alex Lyons is a writer for Chick Habit, a fictional Gawker-type website.  Alex spends the day working from her couch, tied to her computer and smartphone, always looking for the next big story.  Eventually, Alex realizes she has become so embedded in the online world that she may be losing touch with the real world. 

I found many parts of this book to be so fascinating.  I read websites that update throughout the day, with commentary on gossip and current events, but rarely have I thought much about the writers churning out those trendy articles.  The first half of the book in particular was an insightful look into how a day in the life of a gossip blogger might look.  The author, Jessica Grose, apparently used to write for Jezebel, and it's pretty to imagine that some of her experiences there are relayed in the book, at least in some form.  I really enjoyed the glimpse into this "writer's life" that is so different from mine.  Though Alex Lyons's type of lifestyle can seem glamorous at times, Sad Desk Salad certainly exhibits the darker and decidedly less glamorous side of things.  I could probably count on one hand the number of showers Alex took during the entire book, and the description of the disgusting muumuu she wore over and over was really quite depressing.

Ultimately, it is those fascinating behind-the-scenes details that make Sad Desk Salad worth reading.  The rest of the storyline--hot story that might ruin a young girl's reputation, a Chick Habit hate blog, and the requisite relationship drama--were kind of forgettable.  But for a quick, indulgent weekend read?  Get sucked into Alex's online world and give this book a try!

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I received a copy of this book from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for review.  All opinions expressed are entirely my own.  For more reviews and information about this title, check out the full tour post here.


Five Minute Monday

(I've been having a bit of trouble getting back into the writing habit lately, so I decided to just go with it tonight--just write something and publish, as random as it may be.)

A few random things for this Monday night, free-association style:

It was cold and dreary here today, my favorite kind of early fall weather.  I like the chill right now while I'm still excited at every opportunity to pull out a sweater, jeans, or boots.  Plus, it was a holiday so the girls and I spent the entire day holed up at home, watching movies, reading books, painting with shaving cream, dancing, and napping.  It was glorious!

Related:  My favorite affordable item of clothing for fall/winter is a Target cardigan.  I wear a cardigan at least 3-4 times a week...I'm sure my coworkers are tired of seeing them, but I just can't help myself.  How else can I extend the wearing of my summer tank tops all the way into December?

What is your favorite cold-weather piece of clothing?  

I pulled out my favorite ratty, tattered Alabama sweatpants today, and I smiled about it all day long.

One fall trend I do NOT get into is the pumpkin craze.  I love the pumpkin patch (dying to take the girls, but I'm not sure it's going to happen this year!), pumpkins and mums on the front porch, and of course, Halloween jack o' lanterns.  But pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin spice lattes?  No, thanks.  Luckily, Jeremy's relatives step in and make sure he is covered with at least a couple of pumpkin pies every fall. 

Are you a fan of all things pumpkin?

 In very uncharacteristic style, I have already started making plans for Christmas and ordered one of Addison & Mackenzie's gifts.  What's happening to me??  I'm just so excited for all that the next couple of months bring; I just can't help myself.  I rarely pick up the computer on weekends, but yesterday I happened to check my email and realize that Rosalina was on Zulily.  Again, in a quite uncharacteristic move, I clicked over, saw a dress I loved and bought it within thirty seconds.  (When I clicked, there were only two left in the girls' size, so I pretty much HAD to buy immediately, you know?  And, the two of them together were the same as one regularly-priced dress, so Jeremy was totally on board.)  So, Christmas dresses...done.

It seems my five minutes are up (plus a few!) and I have an episode of Revenge waiting patiently on the DVR.  Happy Monday evening!


Three and a half

Tuesday marked Addison & Mackenzie's half-birthday.  My babies are now closer to four years old than to three.  FOUR!

"Stand in front of the pretty flowers and smile, please"
"Stand in front of the pretty flowers and smile for me"...and this is what I get.

My girls at three and a half are so absolutely hilarious.  It is such a joy to watch them develop their own sense of humor.  They have learned what makes us laugh and are quickly developing the ability to do it just when they're on the brink of getting into trouble.  Addison often cracks herself up and giggles like a maniac at her own jokes.  Such beautiful sounds!

Both girls love books right now, a love that I hope will only continue to grow.  As their interest and listening skills improve, we are able to read longer books, which is a lot of fun for me.  Gone are the days of the five-word-per-page board books, thank goodness!  I can imagine a day in the not-so-distant future when we might begin to delve into short chapter books.  I can't wait to read things like Ramona Quimby and The Boxcar Children with my girls.


Addison & Mackenzie have both mastered the tricycle and can speed around the driveway with ease.  Addison seems to enjoy riding a little more, and is picking up on the bicycle (with training wheels) pretty quickly.  I am fairly certain there will be plenty of bicycle races by next summer.

I think we may be easing into the "question" stage.  The girls ask questions about all kinds of topics, and once they get started, the conversation can continue for hours.  I am amazed at the depth of their thoughts, and I struggle to find a good way to answer some of their most difficult questions.  I am definitely getting what I deserve in this department, at least according to my family who graciously put up with my constant chatter and answered my never-ending questions.  Though I can get frustrated trying to explain difficult concepts, I love the new depth to our conversations.


Three and a half definitely has its share of challenges, particularly in the attitude department (oh, the attitudes!), but for the most part, it's a blast.  Somehow, this parenting thing just seems to keep getting better.


State of Affairs, September Edition

We kicked off September with a trip to Atlanta to see the first Auburn football game of the season.  Though I can't quite bring myself to cheer for AU, I don't exactly cheer against them either, and it was a fun day with friends.  Addison & Mackenzie had a great time with their NiNi & Grandpa, as always.

From the AU game in early September... #latergram

The big event of the month, of course, was our beach vacation.  Not much left to say there....except it stinks we have to wait an entire year to go back.

Last Friday night, I went with two friends from work to the Atlanta Braves game.  The season is winding down and this was our last chance to see Chipper Jones, a player we have all watched since childhood.  I was bummed that Jeremy didn't get to go (work--boo!), but it turned out to be a fun girls' trip.  I need more nights like that in my life, I think!

Books read: 5
A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald--A fascinating look into the life of Jeffrey MacDonald, the so-called "Green Beret Killer".  Did MacDonald kill his pregnant wife and his daughters?  Maybe.  Did he get a fair trial?   Definitely not.  If you're interested in legal dramas or true crime, take a look at this book.  (Full review here.)

This Lullaby--Sarah Dessen knows her craft, and she does it so well.  This wasn't my favorite book of hers, and the plot was pretty forgettable....but still, it's always a joy to experience another Dessen book for the first time.

The Candidate--Not as great as I hoped it might be, but a fun look at some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of national politics.  (Reviewed here.)

The Guy Not Taken--A collection of short stories by Jennifer Weiner.  I suppose it says something about my opinion of the book that I didn't realize I had read it before until I was halfway through the first story.  I have a lukewarm relationship with short stories--they have to be really outstanding to make a lasting impression on me--and nothing here struck me as extraordinary.

Sad Desk Salad--An interesting first novel from former Jezebel writer Jessica Grose.  Review to be posted next week.

All hail the return of fall tv!  I'm cutting down to only the shows I really enjoy and deem worthy of my time, but I am super excited for the return of my favorites.  (For the record, current favorites would include Grey's Anatomy, Revenge, New Girl, and The Big Bang Theory.)

The new Mumford & Sons album was my splurge purchase of the week, and I'm loving it right now.


-- The dynamic duo spent their first night ever in a hotel.
-- I made my first semi-long-distance drive alone with the girls--from home to Montgomery.  It was just fine, not really a big deal at all, but I realized that was the longest trip I'd made with them by myself with them in the car.
--A & M tried calamari for the first time at the beach.  Addison liked it quite a bit and kept eating even after she found out what it was!
--Addison also had her first run-in with a crab at the beach.  We were playing in a small tide pool, looking at shells and little fish, when A saw the tiny legs of a sand crab poking out a shell she was holding.  She dropped it quickly and was ready to run, but finally calmed down and examined the creature from a slight distance.  It was pretty amusing.  : )

How was your September?