2011 in Review

Looking back on the year is always fun for me. It allows me to remember the ups and downs of the year. 2011 has been a busy year with us having just moved back to the states, buying a home, having a baby and still managing to have some fun. While looking back on the year, one month stood out to me - March. Nothing really exciting happened that month. We didn't go anywhere and nothing really worth reporting happened. I am going to blame it on being smack dab in the middle of Ian's busy season (he's an accountant). Because of March 2011 being such a mundane month, I am going to work on making sure March 2012 rocks!

And without further ado, 2011 in review:

January - Ian started his new job and I came to grips with living back in Modesto.

February - I found out I was pregnant with little miss Isla, though no one else (besides Ian) found out about it for a while. I also started house hunting . We took Connor up to the snow and were once again reminded, he doesn't like the snow!

March - Uhhh...

April - We went into escrow on our house and told everyone I was pregnant. I turned 30. And we went camping.

May - We got the keys to our house and moved in.

June - It was a bumpy road moving into our house...with ants moving in with us and all. And, Ian and I celebrated our 8th anniversary.

July - Those pesky ants came back. We got out of town . And also hit up the fair.

August - Our friends from Scotland came to visit!

September - We finished Isla's room. And I made laundry detergent for the first time, which by the way works GREAT!

October - I went to the pumpkin patch too many times (wrote about it here and here). Oh, and I had a baby!

November - We went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and "saw" the US Capitol Christmas treewhen it passed thru Modesto. And my baby little boy turned two years old.

December -  Well December was filled with Christmas related things - like twelve dates of Christmas, visiting santa, Christmas parties and the actual day itself.

This year was filled with some great memories and a lot of happenings in our life. I am excited to see what 2012 has in store for me.

Christmas in Review

I love Christmas. Christmas eve service is my favorite service of the year. Watching Connor enjoy the lights and presents made this year even more special. Some of this years highlights included:

Isla enjoying the lights on the Christmas tree. She laid under there for almost an hour staring at the lights and grabbing the branches.

Connor opening presents. Of course, as soon as he would open one, he only wanted to play with that one and not open any others. Except if it was clothes. In that case, he threw them and moved on.

Connor wore his kilt on Christmas day...and looked so adorable.

More present opening; this time at my parent's house. And more trains as presents!

Isla with her stocking from my parents.

Isla was definitely enjoying her first Christmas. She was all smiles, having just woken up from a nap.

Isla enjoying one of her Christmas presents. She was staring at herself in the mirror and pulling on the toys. It was really cute.

Though Christmas can be stressful with running back and forth between families houses, it is still fun seeing everyone. And, we started a little tradition of our own this year. We did Christmas eve as a family - went to church, came home and had dinner, the kids opened their presents (well, Connor opened his AND Isla's), then we read the Christmas story (from the bible...a kids bible this year) and off to bed the kiddos went.

It was a great time. I look forward to watching the kids grow up and hopefully love Christmas (and the reason behind it) as much as I do.

Merry Christmas


Wishing you a wonderful day with family and friends. Never forget the reason Christ was born. To die on a cross for YOU (& me). Merry Christmas!

Twelve Dates of Christmas {seven}

On the seventh date of Christmas, my true love gave to me I gave to my true love...


A quick coffee break


With both babes down for a nap, Ian made us lattes and we enjoyed a quick minute to ourselves. We could actually carry on a conversation (and hear ourselves think) in our own home. Pretty nice! 
 
Now I realize that Christmas is tomorrow and I am barely halfway thru my twelve dates of Christmas. But that's ok. It will just be the gift that keeps on giving. I'm not giving up. There will be twelve dates...hopefully finished before the end of January! 

Twelve Dates of Christmas {six}

On the sixth date of Christmas, my true love gave to me I gave to my true love...


A different date than planned
 

You see, given that we are on a budget and all, I couldn't afford for us to go out for all our dates. So, I planned something nice for us at home. I arranged for the kids to go over to my parents house and I was going to make Ian a nice dinner at home...that we could enjoy in peace. But, when Ian got home from work, he told me get got a little Christmas money from work, so we used that money to go out instead. It was a fun, unexpected surprise for me. 
 
 
We went for sushi. Yummy!  While at dinner, I managed to make Ian spit out beer all over, like something you would see in a movie. I said something (something not even that funny) while Ian was taking a drink. Apparently, he found it extra funny and couldn't contain his laughter. Thus beer everywhere. And, weird looks from people sitting by us. Because of this, neither of us could stop laughing until we left the restaurant. Good thing it happened at the end of our meal.

Camera Fun


I saw this idea and thought it was an idea worth stealing trying. Once I figured it out, it was rather fun. And given that this fun was practically free, it made it even better!

All you need is your dslr and some paper. I tried it with two different lenses before I realized one worked better than the other. I also did three different shapes - tree, star and heart. The star was my favorite.

I just taped the "homemade filters" on the front of the lens. Be sure to turn off auto focus so the tape doesn't get sucked into the lens...that may or may not have happened to me. Set your aperture as low as it will go and have some fun!


I tried taking pictures with my kids in the foreground and the fun shapes in the background, but it never worked out for me. One kid can't hold herself up and the other one is extremely squirmy these days. I should have made Ian my test subject...maybe tonight!



If you have a dslr, you should give this a try. And if your husband is anything like mine, he will think you are a dork for doing it...and if you are anything like me, you will think it is ├╝ber cool and addicting!

Twelve Dates of Christmas {five}

On the fifth date of Christmas, my true love gave to me I gave to my true love...


A very unexpected food date


We go to church on Saturday nights. Connor had a cold, so we had my in laws watch him so we could still go to church. That gave me an idea...have my in laws watch Connor a little longer and we could sneak in a date. So during church I slipped Ian a card letting him know of our surprise date.

After church, I let forced Ian to pick where to go to dinner. So to Tahoe Joes we went. It was a nice (and delicious) meal. And Isla slept thru most of the meal. It was a really enjoyable time. And this time, no one was sick!

How the Grinch Stole Jessica

The other day I was chatting with a friend about Christmas. And before I knew it, she called me a grinch. Seriously! Me, a grinch? I thought about it for a second and realized, it is true.

I am a grinch

Let me tell you why.

You see, I love Christmas. Ever since I was a kid, I loved the house being decorated for Christmas, the music, Christmas Eve at church. I loved it all. The older I got, the more I realized there is a lot of stress that comes with this glorious holiday. Running around buying presents, seeing family we don't necessarily want to see, being forced to buy certain people gifts...

Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for people. And if I could afford it (and had the time) I would get gifts for everyone out there that I care about. But that isn't feasible. What gets to me is being forced to buy gifts. You know, things like being at work and everyone needing to "chip in" to buy the boss something. This one always blows my mind. Why do we, the people who get paid way less, have to chip in money to buy the boss something nice? RIDICULOUS!!! This makes me so glad I don't work anymore because that used to drive me insane. Though I would like to say, that I have bough gifts (though small) for bosses before...but only the ones I liked.

The particular thing my friend and I were talking about was gifts for teachers. When I found out how much she spends on her kids teachers I was blown away. And she says that is the same amount other parents spend. What got me was the amount she was spending per teacher is my budget for my family members, so I can't imagine spending that on my kids teachers. Again, I am not saying I wouldn't get the teachers anything, I am just saying, its the thought that counts, right?

Because of this talk, I am now curious...

Who do you buy gifts for? And is it the thought that counts, or is it all about the amount spent?

Twelve Dates of Christmas {four}

On the fourth date of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A romantic outing
looking at Christmas lights


I haven't driven around and looked at Christmas lights in years. I must say, it was rather fun. I forgot how crazy some people go with the outside decorations. And those houses are SO MUCH FUN to look at. I almost want to put thank you notes on their doors for allowing me to enjoy their Christmas cheer lights.

It was fun watching Connor stare at the lights. Every time he caught me watching him, he would get all embarrassed and cover his face. So freaking cute! And that last picture of Connor, that's him standing in front of our front door, with my handy work in the background!

Lately {in Photos}

1. The best cake pop ever...white chocolate with peppermint and brownie
2. Connor reading
3. Floor time for Isla
4. Cuddle time with Isla while dad's out and brother's in bed
5. Starbucks...good till the last drop
6. A treat during bath time
7. Giving the bumbo a try in the bath
8. Sibling love
9. On days like this, I thank God for baby carriers
10. Someone likes bath time

Isla {2 Months}

Weight: 12lbs 2oz
Length: 23 inches

My baby girl is growing up so fast. She has become so generous with her smiles lately. And those smiles, they are worth more than all the money in the world. No joke. Something about my kids smiling at me just melts my heart and makes it all worth it. 

Isla is a champion eater, but obviously also a champion grower. Up until a few days ago, she has seemed to be on no type of schedule. I was afraid I was going to have to figure out a schedule for her and all the sudden she seems to have put herself on one. Awesome! Last night she even slept from 10pm until 6:30am! Me, on the other hand? Well, I woke up twice and checked that she was still breathing. When Ian's alarm went off this morning and I informed him that Isla was still asleep, he asked the same thing "Is she still breathing?" I think we were both in amazement at this accomplishment.

Isla definitely prefers to be held. Because of this, I have taken to wearing her in the house. It does allow me to get some things done, but still there are a lot of things I can't do...like the dishes. Bummer, right? Isla really likes music. When I sing to her, she settles down. Ian played his ipod for her when she was crying and she settled down from that as well. So, I play music for her in the morning when I am getting ready. She seems to like it.

I am still in bliss over this babe God has given me to raise up. I will never tire of hearing Connor say "Isla" in his little voice. And it melts my heart whenever I ask him "Connor, is Isla your best friend?" and each time he says "yes".




Twelve Dates of Christmas {three}

On the third date of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A coffee date with the kids! 


We went to Barnes & Noble. That way Connor could play with the train table and entertain himself a little. And Isla, well she slept for most of the time. Given that it was a date and all, we splurged and got ourselves some breakfast sandwiches along with our coffee. Yeah, we are crazy kids like that!

I am really enjoying this whole little "date" thing, even if all of them aren't true dates. If in the end Ian feels special, I succeeded. I have date number four all planned out. Hopefully it's a good one.

What I Wore {two}

We had Ian's work Christmas party on Friday night. Because of this, I had to at least change out of my spit up covered clothes dress up. Friday was a rather long and trying day. I really didn't want to leave the house, but I made it out and enjoyed myself. Plus, I think it helped to have a couple hour break from my colicky baby.

Here's what I looked like:


Shirt: Gap
Skirt: from Scotland
Tights: H&M
Boots: from Scotland

Oddly enough, both my sister-in-law and my soon to be sister-in-law have the same shirt. We all bought it at separate times. And none of us really dress like each other either. I guess it shows just how versatile that shirt truly is. Oh, and the shirt has buttons on the back...my favorite feature. It makes me feel a little dressed up even when I am just wearing a black t-shirt!

Twelve Dates of Christmas {two}

On the second date of Christmas, my true love gave to me...I mean, I gave my true love...

A wine night for two.




Sure, it didn't go exactly as planned. Things don't always rarely do with kids around! One kid cooperated. The other one, well, she wanted to be a part of the party. And she wanted to be held the whole stinking time. I love you Isla! 


I guess its the thought (and in this case, the partial action) that counts. We did get to each enjoy a glass of wine before little miss wouldn't leave us alone, so that is a plus. 

Next time I am thinking a babysitter is a must.

Twelve Dates of Christmas {one}

I got this idea here. But I added a twist to it. Every date is a surprise to Ian. He doesn't know when they are happening or what we are doing. Let the fun times begin!

With my parents in town for a night, I decided it would be a good time to start this new tradition. I also decided I will announce every date with a card. And this time, Ian got a little something sweet with his card...candy cane hershey's kisses. SO FREAKING GOOD. Connor was all about them too. He wasn't too happy that he was only allowed to have one. Such a hard life being two.




Off to Papa & Memaw's the kids went and out by ourselves we were.  We went to BJs for our first date. It didn't go quite as planned. You see, Ian was sick today. But he said he thought he was up for going out. So we still went out. Right when the appetizer was set on our table, Ian ran to the bathroom to throw up. Unfortunately the super good stuffed mushrooms (I still enjoyed them!) smelled really bad to sick Ian and made his lunch come up. But, being the good sport that Ian is, he didn't want to leave. So, we (well, me) enjoyed our dinner. Even if Ian didn't get to eat, it was nice having some alone time together.

And now my poor husband is asleep on the couch...it appears he has the flu. Bummer. Hopefully he will be better soon and ready for date number two.

Family Walk


I love crisp, cool weather. I love bundling up and being out in the sun. So nice.

Yesterday we went out on a family walk. It was nice getting out of the house, getting some exercise and being able to have Ian with me through it all. Our walk took us by a playground. Connor freaks out whenever he sees a playground. If we don't stop, it's drama. Thankfully, he has really cool parents, so he got to play.



And Isla, well she slept through most of our adventure. She did wake up at the end and want to be held. And being the wonderful mother that I am, I obliged. There's just something about cuddling with a baby. And that phase goes by so fast so I need to enjoy it while I can!



I love spending time as a family. And I love getting out of the house. It was a good morning.

Baby's First Christmas Party


And how adorable does Isla look, all ready for her first Christmas party?!? She was the talk of the party too. Practically everyone there (there were 270 people!) stopped and looked at her. And she remained adorable the whole time...as long as the music was playing. The music stopped for a couple minutes and she cried until it started again. No joke. It was pretty funny. And, some 'grandmas' at the party took turns holding Isla. It was fun having people dote on my baby girl so much.

Oh, and Isla's outfit, it magically showed up in our mailbox today! Some friends of ours sent it to us. It was a fun surprise. 

Santa


I took the kids to meet Santa the other day. A couple interesting (to who?) things about that trip:

1. I took them to the mall all by myself. I went there just for the santa picture. And I didn't press my luck either. Both kids were well behaved, so we got in and out.

2. Since when are pictures with santa so freaking expensive? And you can't buy just one picture! What's the deal with that? But I was already suckered in there with both kids dressed up, so I decided to buy a picture package anyway. Now what to do with 100 pictures (slight exaggeration) of my kids with santa...

3. I bribed Connor with a tic tac. He didn't care about santa, but wanted to play with all the fun things they had to entertain kids while waiting in line. The tic tac worked.

4. I said my kids were well behaved, but that didn't mean things went completely smooth. Connor did run out into the mall as soon as the picture was taken. I went running after him. And who was left tending to Isla? Well santa, of course! I kid you not.

5. This is both Connor and Isla's first picture with santa. Oops. But, Connor doesn't know or care who santa is anyway. No harm done.

Irony


 The other day Connor brought his stool in the bathroom and brushed his teeth like a big boy. When I was looking at the pictures I took of him doing this, I was struck by how grown up he looks. He isn't my baby anymore. And then I realized...I don't even remember the last time he fell asleep in my arms. It made my heart kind of sad. Sad that my little boy is growing up more and more every day. But at the same time, he is so dang cute. I can't stay sad for long because every time I look at that adorable face, I smile.

Since Isla was born, I have let her do her own thing as far as sleep goes. That means, she has pretty much always fallen asleep in our arms. Last night I decided to put her in her crib and see what would happen (she has been sleeping in bed with us). Low and behold, she went to sleep on her own, without crying. I was so proud of her.

Then I realized, I was sad over one of my babies no longer sleeping in my arms, yet happy because the other one actually went to sleep somewhere else besides my arms. Oh the irony!

What I Wore {one}

Remember how I said it is a boost of confidence for my fat post baby body to look put together? And also remember my issues about not leaving my children behind?

Well, on Saturday night I got dressed up and went out with the husband and some friends. My mom was still in town, so I had to take advantage of having a babysitter I trust around, because she has already blown this town...rumor has it she left because she fears I will ask her to babysit too much. It was a fun time together...even if I did leak boobie juice all over myself. I had to go home to pump and change part of the way through the evening. Non-the-less, it was a fun time. I enjoyed getting out of the house again and getting dressed up.

Here is what I wore. Well, the first outfit anyway.


Dress: Anthropologie
Shirt: H&M
Tights: H&M
Boots: Camper

Thanksgiving


Aww, the holidays.

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. I love them because of family getting together, days off work (well, for Ian), good food and more. I hate them because of the chaos they cause in my days. Shuttling children from one house to another to celebrate with both our families. Feeling like we have no downtime at all. And being at people's homes who aren't child friendly. It all stresses me out a bit. But still, we got to see our families, dress our kids up cute and eat a lot of food. Even though it was stressful, it was still good times. 




And in case you are wondering, I hit up the black Friday deals...with my 6 week old. Not the brightest of ideas. I know she has her fussy time in the late evening (usually lasting until about 1am). And even out of the house, that fussy time still happened. At one point, while waiting in line for Target to open, I went and sat in the car to avoid the stares of others in line...I was getting a lot of them due to my screaming babe. I do need to give a shout out to my mom and friend Chandra who both took turns holding a screaming Isla for me. Thanks ladies!

Next year, I will be up for black Friday again. This time I will leave both kids at home. And, I won't hit up the mall. It was way too crowded and not very many good deals.
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