Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

Happy New Year! Here's what you've been waiting for: the obligatory year-in-review blog. (Here's 2009 & 2012...I'm not very consistent with these, huh?) Because subjecting you to reading about the last year of my life as it was happening on the blog wasn't enough. You must read it again. In survey form.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

 Purchased a home in my name. The first home was in John's name.

 2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

 I did! I made none, so I was able to keep them all! Yay me! I'll do the same for this year. I love getting all A's!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

It seems like there were babies everywhere this year. Mostly blog and online-turned-real-life friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thank goodness, no.

5. What countries did you visit?

Stayed in the U.S. this year. But I did my best to travel around my corner of the U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you didn't have in 2013?

A successful pregnancy.

7. What dates from 2013 will be etched upon your memory, and why?

I don't think there are any MUST REMEMBER dates.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Umm, a continuation of raising the sweetest little girl ever? She's pretty special, and I'll take it upon myself to take some of the credit for her.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Keeping up with friendships. I have really great intentions of keeping in touch with friends, and I never follow through. I hope my friends know I love them anyways, and I'll continue to work on it in 2014.

Umm, this was my answer last year. I just changed the 2013 to 2014. Obviously I didn't work on this very well.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing crazy. A cold or two.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Everyone around me was equally well behaved, so we can all celebrate together.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Did I ever tell the story about the ultrasound technician at my last ultrasound when we confirmed the miscarriage? I don't think I did. Basically, she laughed out loud when I told her the reason for the second ultrasound, that I didn't agree with the dating on the first one and thought there was likely something wrong. Honestly, she scoffed out loud and went on to tell me how many people thought they knew their dates and were off due to this and that and blah blah blah. Anyways, she then fired up the ultrasound machine and said, Oh. You're right. But I never got much apology for her laughing at me when I was already pretty upset about the possibility of my second miscarriage. Way to kick someone while they are down. And yes, definitely changing practices after that, among other reasons. So, Ms. Ultrasound Tech lady made me appalled and depressed.

(The other part of the story is that I tried to explain to her HOW I knew the dates weren't possible because of how early on I took the pregnancy tests so that maybe she wouldn't be so insensitive to someone else in the future and her response was "Oh. I don't know anything about pregnancy tests." Good grief.)

14. Where did most your money go?

Mortgage of course. But if we're just talking about shopping I am 99% certain that I spent the most money on twice.com. I spent $629.70 on that website over the year. But even more exciting, I saved $348.55 with a lot of referral credits and also with coupon codes. My wardrobe got a major makeover this year!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Christmas! Having a child that got it this year made me so incredibly excited!

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?

You see, the problem with this question is that it assumes you listen to new music and keep up with the times. While I do listen to new music sometimes because the morning show I listen is on a top 40 station, I don't listen often enough to have a 2013 favorite so to speak. So, nothing.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Happier/Sadder: Hmm. I think the second baby thing is the only thing holding me back from being happier. It's just leaving me a little less content than I normally am, so I don't know if I can say I'm as happy. But I'm not sad either.

Fatter. Ugh.

Richer: Yes! John's company takes good care of him and he got another nice raise this year. My company gave out raises too which will be completely wiped out when the 2014 health plan premiums kick in. Yay for feeling appreciated!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Camping. We used our camper just a few times this year. Want to do more camping in 2014.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Candy crush. Finally deleted that time sucker and am better because of it.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

It was our first Christmas in our new house so we hosted Christmas Eve for my family, then had my parents come up to see Charley open her Santa gifts Christmas morning, and then went to their house later in the morning to exchange gifts with the family. Basically, same as usual minus a couple small changes.

21. Did you fall in love in 2013?

Nope.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Holy crap I'm about to change this one up for the first time. It's NOT a reality show. John and I finally got into a show we both like only about 6 years later than the rest of the country. We are waiting on season 5 to show up on Netflix so we can continue our obsession. The show: DEXTER. I cannot even fathom watching that show live and having to wait a WEEK between episodes. We just flew through 4 seasons in a few weeks. And seasons 5-8 get added to Netflix TOMORROW and we are both off of work. Too bad it's not a family friendly show or we'd have a marathon.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hates a very strong word and I stand by not hating anyone. I did develop very harsh feelings for a lady that sold kitchen gadgets...

24. What was the best book you read?

Can you see this link? It lists the books I read in 2013. Or at least the ones I remembered to list on that site. I think I rated all of those books either 4 or 5 stars so I liked them all. But, don't ask for a synopsis on any of them because I can't remember a thing about any of them.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

 I just realized I published this with a big fat blank right here. Apparently I was thinking something would come to me and I'd come back and list it. Nothing has come to me as of yet...

26. What did you want and get?

I wanted a chair for my office. My parents got me that chair for my office.

27. What did you want and not get?

I really want a new lens for  my camera and haven't got that yet. It's pretty pricey, so....

28. What was your favorite film of 2013?  

I went to the movies exactly zero times this year.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 31 this year, and according to the pictures from around that time frame, I went out to a local bar and had a few drinks with friends. Man! That must have been fun!


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30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More vacations! Therefore, more time off!

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2013?

Second-hand chic.

32. What kept you sane?

I have a pretty great family. From my own little family of John and Charley, to my immediate family. They definitely keep me sane.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

I'm not often stirred by political issues. I have my side, think the other side is crazy and that's that.

34. Who did you miss?

All my Blathering buddies. Hoping to make it to the Blathering 2014.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

Met another of my online friends this year, Natalie, and she was just as great as I thought she'd be. Also, a new coworker Kelli was pretty great too.


36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

No.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

No.

Monday, December 30, 2013

2014 Calendar

One of my favorite things at my desk at work is my calendar I created last year after my 365 Day Photo Challenge I completed in 2012. I stole the idea from a friend, but I took pictures from 2012, sorted them by months, and created a collage of each month's pictures to be shown each month on my 2013 calendar. That was really confusing. Basically, in January 2013 I had a collage of pictures from January 2012. Brings back lots of "Oh my goodness! Look how tiny! Can't believe that was a year ago!" sentiments. So I had to do one again, even if I didn't have a picture a day for 2013. I still took plenty of pictures because I am a picture hoarder. I just can't get enough.

I used Shutterfly to create my calendar again because at some point in the last two weeks I got a coupon code for a free calendar (just pay shipping). I'd share the coupon with you except I have no idea what it was or where I got it. Maybe on Hip2Save? I tried searching for it and got nothing. Sorry! Anyways, I used them last year too and only paid shipping last year too, so hopefully this continues because you can't beat a $6 personalized calendar! And they are STURDY too. Several times throughout the year my push pins in my cubie wall will give up to gravity's forces and the calendar will come crashing down. Which just gives me an excuse to flip through all of the pages again before putting it back up.

We had a good year. Squint your eyes and look through these collages and you'll see. I hope for more joy in 2014. (Not you, sister Joy. I mean, actual joy. But, I do hope for continued Joy time too. ::winky face:: )


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This is the cover for the whole calendar which is just a collage of the whole year's pictures.

Jan
January

Feb
February

Mar
March

Apr
April

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May

Jun
June

Jul
July

Aug
August

Sep
September

Oct
October

Nov
November

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December

And now I've exhausted all possible review-the-whole-year-in-pictures-for-everyone-to-see activities, with this and Statigram and Flipgram and who knows what else I've done. I still owe you a review the year in WORDS, but I promise. I'm done reviewing the year in pictures.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013: This Keeps Getting Better

It is the first year in a long time that I let the Christmas tree and decor remain for a few days after Christmas. Usually, due to us both working full-time, I take advantage of the extra days we may have off and undecorate on either Christmas night, or the next day. This year we made it last 4 extra days and I'm sure that's because it was so wonderful with Charley this year that I didn't really want it to end.

Charley really started to get it this year. Of course, we pumped her head full of what she needed to know: Santa is coming. He is watching you. If you are good, he will bring presents. And she even understood the advent thing. We did a Christmas book advent calendar where she was able to open one wrapped book each day. Every day after she opened her book and we read it, she would say "When we open allll of these books, it will be time for Santa to come. Right? Right!"

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So naturally, Christmas was really exciting this year. I may have been a tad too excited though when it came to buying Santa gifts. I follow the blog Hip2Save and there were some awesome deals this year that I couldn't pass up. Like this, and this, and this (bath time doll)! Pair those deals with some Halloween dress-up clearance, and even a couple things I snagged during after-Christmas clearance last year and I spent UNDER my budget and just got so much stuff. I agree that it was too much, but, Charley is such a good little girl! Santa thought she deserved it all!

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The Mickey Mouse is what she had asked for every time she saw Santa, or every time you asked her what she wanted Santa to bring her. So I HAD to get that to sort of seal the Santa-believing deal. I actually went out to Walmart on Thanksgiving night to get that Mickey for $10. And that was the only thing I went out for so of course when I went to Walmart a week or two later I saw that they still had plenty of them for the same price. Go figure.

Christmas Eve we had my family over at our house for the first time to do our annual swap game and have dinner. This year we did a game with playing cards that was actually pretty fun for how simple it was. (See the girl scout exchange comment at the bottom.) We ate smoked chicken and had a mashed potato bar. It was so fun, and just tiring enough that Charley went down without a peep, even with being so excited for Santa to come.

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Christmas morning I felt like a kid again. Woke up at 7:15 and for almost an hour, I hoped every little sound coming over the baby monitor was Charley waking up. Finally, she woke up. I figured at her age she would have forgotten about what was supposed to happen the night before and she'd come into our room first like she always does. But she actually remembered and made her way to the Christmas tree first, which left me scrambling and running to get the camera to catch that first glance.

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I of course wasn't quick enough, but I did get this where she said "OH WOWW" and "may I hold it please?" before she picked Mickey up. I quickly called my parents so they could come up and watch her too, and then we got busy opening up (way too many) gifts. She did pretty good with them, but many times wanted to stop and just play with whatever she opened. It took some convincing to get her to finish them all.

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She finally did though and then my parents went back home to get ready for our family Christmas gathering a few hours later. John and I got busy opening Charley's new toys and playing with them with her. It was hard to stop playing and start cooking, but I finally managed to do it. It was like being a kid all over again. Waking up early. The anticipation. The excitement over opening gifts (even though I wasn't opening them and I knew what they all were). I can't wait to see what a three-year-old's Christmas is like after experiencing a two-year-old's. I can only imagine that it keeps getting better.

Then at 11:30, we all met at my parent's house to eat brunch and exchange gifts with each other. There are 18 of us, and we all buy for each other, so it makes quite a bit of mess. But it's fun, it's chaotic, and I love it.

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We made our way back home afterwards and had a relaxing afternoon with couch naps included. (and even a successful couch to toddler bed transfer!)

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We had a wonderful Christmas. And from the looks of it around the blog-o-sphere, y'all did too. Kids, man. What fun little creatures they are.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Deskmas

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We've started something. Two years in a row, John and I have designed and built Charley's main gift from us. So I guess we'll be designing and building her Christmas presents from now on. I hope she likes her wooden car with square wheels we'll build for her on the Christmas when she's sixteen! I'm sure she'll be thrilled!

So this year, before I got this crazy desk idea I had planned on buying Charley the IKEA easel.

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Cheap at just $15, and Charley would really like a place for her art. I'd even decided to put it in our office in this one empty corner. Then, a friend of mine shared this desk her similarly aged daughter received for her birthday. 


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I really liked everything about it, especially that she could sit down and do her art, except one major thing: it was plastic. I didn't want a plastic desk because it was going in our home office and I didn't want that room to also be kid-i-fied. Then the wheels started turning. 

"We could build her a desk with an easel top like that! We could attach it to the wall so it looks built in and paint and hang things on the wall to go with it. I could find cute containers for all of her art supplies and, and, and, and, AND!"

I told John my idea when I got home that evening and he agreed it was doable. I first checked Pinterest for DIY Toddler desks and found next to nothing! I was shocked...especially since there are so many DIY kitchens on there. No worries though. I could come up with something myself. I began looking for things to make up the desk at resale shops since yard sale season was practically over. I didn't want to spend a lot since I knew that I could spend very little on the bones of the project and still have it come out cute, like last year's kitchen.

I ended up finding two white squares at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $5 each. I had no idea what their prior use was, but maybe shelving of some sort. They were white, they were wipeable, and they were the right size. Sold.

I recalled also that earlier in the year I purchased several stair spindles from a yard sale 4/$1. I liked that they had some shape to them and had held onto them for possible future table legs if I ever needed them. The need had arisen, so I grabbed the spindles to use as the tables legs. The tabletop pieces and those spindles then sat in the corner of the office for the next several weeks. I picked up some other things as I found them (IKEA!) and stashed them in a closet until we were ready to put it all together.

December 21. It's time to start working on this project. John begins to assemble what we've got and hits a snag. The tabletop pieces are particle board on the inside and are cracking when he tries to drill into them....or something. He tells me something along those lines and I start to panic so I sort of tune him out. We've got to come up with something else in the next um, 3 days. Plennnnnnnnnnty of time, right? Heh. heheh. I am sure that we are going to end up with a flat piece of wood across the top and four straight and boring 2x2s as legs. We're doomed.

My mom has a few pieces of furniture in her garage that never found a home inside her house. She invites me to "shop" there first to find something for the bones of our project. Almost instantly I see it. A foyer type table with a pretty rounded tabletop and non-stick-straight or boring legs. It even has a cute little drawer that is lined with cute little flowered paper. This is it. My Mama saves the day!

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It didn't even require that much work. It was dirty and needed paint of course, and the legs need to be shortened to Charley size. We also needed to come up with a way to make that easel top I'd wanted to do. But, this tabletop is much smaller than the other one we were going to use, so the roll paper holder I purchased at IKEA wasn't going to fit. We struggled to come up with a way to make it work AND look good.

Eventually I suggest not using the roll paper holder and John gets an idea. He builds a little box to go at the back of the table against the wall to hold the paper. He cuts a slit in the top of it for the paper to feed through. The paper can then be pulled across the desk for when Charley wants to draw or paint on it, but it doesn't have to be used if she's just playing with Play-doh or something. He quickly constructs it, attaches it, and then primes and paints the whole thing. It's now Christmas Eve. And, no, of course I didn't take any pictures of the whole process up to this point.

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The paper slot and the added piece. Not the best handiwork in the world, but come on, she's 2. She's fine with a seam here and there. And maybe we were a bit short on time.

I had worked on a couple things earlier in the day for the desk. I didn't want the desk to look too kiddy, so I knew I wanted colors that would go with the decor in the office for the most part. I chose the same off white the builder used on our walls for the desk color (since I know we'll repaint in the office soon, and, hello! It was leftover and therefore FREE!) I also decided I was okay with just a couple of fun little accents of color, so I used modge podge to adhere some scrapbook paper onto the drawer front and onto some wooden magazine files also from IKEA.

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At 9 something on Christmas Eve night, John taped off the wall and started painting the chalkboard up. It said to wait 4 hours in between coats. He wasn't interested in waiting that long so used a hairdryer to speed up the process. Painted a second coat, removed the tape and called it a day. It's extremely likely that we'll have to repaint the chalkboard paint really soon. 

He then installed this other IKEA item I'd purchased: a bar and storage cups for her art supplies. I wanted this hung out of her reach so that she wouldn't be able to reach markers at any time of the day to then go draw all over walls and furniture when we weren't looking. The great thing about those cups is that they come off of the bar really easily and can be set down on the desk for when she's using them AND she's being supervised. And when she's done, back out of reach they go.

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The shelf was something we used at our old house but had been sitting in the dreaded decor room ever since. Those jars were in there as well. The chair is also IKEA, but was something I got for $5 at a yard sale a while back. I just relocated it from her room to her new desk. I may paint it something other than red at some point since it doesn't really go with the room.

We framed some of her recent artwork, hung up a hook for her smock, and tied a couple of balloons to the desk to get her attention on Christmas morning.

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I also have a piece of molding (another yard sale find - $1!) that needs to be installed to frame out the chalkboard so her chalk drawings stay where they belong which I assume we'll get to over the weekend. It was getting late on Christmas Eve and we didn't want to risk waking her by using the nail gun. She was listening for bells after all, not nail guns.

And that's that. She absolutely loves it and the office is getting close to being our next completed room. I love that Charley now has her own place in there as well.

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And just because we're already on the topic of the office, here's where we're at with the office right now. Lots of things to be hung, painted and created. But it's up next on the docket so hope to be able to share the rest of it with you soon!

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Craft Night 2013


We still call this annual family tradition craft night even though there is no way we could do all of this in one night any longer. It's more like craft day now, but it started out being called craft night, so craft night it will remain.

Anyways, for anyone who doesn't know, my sisters, mom and I have a tradition where we get together once a year at Christmas to make some Christmas crafts. We each bring a craft and enough supplies for everyone else to make our craft and take turns being the 'teacher'. We've done this for at LEAST 15 years, maybe even longer. It's pretty great.

I wanted to share a couple of the crafts from this year and even a couple from last year as well since I never got around to posting about last year's craft night. Actually, the last time I shared our crafts on here was 2010. Whoops. (And for fun, here's 2008, the only other year I shared.)

I also want to mention that pre-Pinterest, the process for coming up with a craft was much more difficult. I would usually go to the craft store, pick up a holiday craft magazine, flip through it to find something I liked and then run around the store to find the supplies. These days, I find something on Pinterest or on a blog that I like and it is so much easier. There were some craft-failures in those pre-Pinterest days for sure. One of my failures included making a snowman out of an old spoon and I wish I could say I was joking...

Here's what we made this year. I consider the 2013 crafts to all be very successful!

My sister Joy's craft was a snowman ornament made out of a battery powered tealight.

 

Very cute and so easy! My sisters opted to make theirs into pins instead of ornaments also. 

My sister Christy went next. We found an entire gigantic box of old Christmas light bulbs at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore a few weeks ago so we knew that her craft would have something to do with those. They were priced at 5 cents a piece, but Christy bought the entire box for $5. We used some of the bulbs for her craft, and then divied up the rest as jar fillers for Christmas decor. Such a great deal!

With the bulbs we made reindeer...


...and then just glittered up a couple more bulbs each for another bulby ornament: 



My mom went next and her craft were wooden snowflakes made with clothespins. Very simple, again, and they turned out so cute. 


Mine was actually whitewashed, but for whatever reason I didn't take a picture of it. Joy's was awfully cute too!

And then it was my turn. I threw these together at the last minute (as you know), but I really love them! I got the idea from Pinterest, of course. Two other contenders I was deciding between were this and this.

 

Felt. Wooden craft balls. Hot glue. And that's it. Will have to be careful in storing them but packed by themselves in a shoebox should keep them safe until next year.

And then of course the obligatory family picture with our crafts.

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And since I never shared last year's craft night, I just want to share my craft from last year too. I got the idea from a friend Megan, who got her idea from Anthropologie. So basically mine was a knock-off knock-off Anthropologie snowglobe. They came out so cute though and I spent next to nothing making them.

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We got the jars from a yard sale for $.50 or $.25 each. The trees were from JoAnn's craft which you know I used a coupon for. And the lanterns and people and snowmen were all from the dollar store. I used poly-fil for our snow on the ground, and some type of snow in a jar to add a little extra on the trees and lantern. See Megan's instructions for more details. But it was pretty much fool proof. I will say the wide-mouth jars were much easier to use than the not-wide-mouth ones.

I've been really crafty crazy this Christmas. Have you made anything good lately?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What I Miss

Now that we've spent a good amount of time in our new house, I thought a list of things I actually missed from our old house would be fun to do. You know, those things that you don't miss until they're gone.

1. A place to put my razor in the shower.

I'll just say it: our new shower kind of sucks. It's a separate shower stall and it's one of those insert things. No fancy tile or anything. I bet it's similar to how Barbie feels in her skinny little pink box. Barely enough room to lift up your arms. And can I just say that the builder changed the floor plan a couple months after our house was built and fixed this issue with a slight change that I would have liked SO MUCH MORE. So, yeah, we'll need to also make that little change eventually.

Anyways, our little box shower has a couple of little shelves in the corners, but we have 4 bottles on those shelves already leaving no room for a razor too. I try to shimmy it on the shelf but it always inevitably falls down and makes me do a little mid-shower dance to avoid FALLING RAZORS. It's dangerous, really. The last house had a shower/bath tub combo, so lots of razor placement possibilities.

(I know I should get one of those suction cup razor holder things, but they never stay for long either!)

2. Having a sidewalk.

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Sure, this one will be remedied soon enough but it is pretty annoying right now. After it rains and our front yard gets a bit muddy, I have to do a balancing act on the stone edging around my flower beds to get from the front door to the driveway. And I don't know if you know this or not, but I'm not what you would call very "balance-y". At least we don't use the front door all that often. Sorry UPS and FedEx guys!

3. The fact that Target is now 3.2 miles away versus 1.4 miles. Totally serious about this one. Am I spoiled or what?

THE. END.

Truly, I cannot think of anything else at all. I can't imagine going back to townhouse living after living in our new house. We can go outside and not have to play in a parking lot.

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We can sit outside and talk on the phone without at least 20 neighbors within listening distance. We no longer have these people for neighbors. We can see and hear more wildlife other than just the birds I lured into our old backyard with a bird feeder. Deer! Frogs! Owls! Hopefully not snakes! It's kind of great, y'all.

So, what do I TRULY, truly miss? Absolutely nothing. Which is a good thing since we plan on staying here for forever. We made a good choice in getting to this place no matter how crazy the choice seemed at the time. We're happy. Even without adequate razor placing locations. Something tells me the rest outweighs that. Just, remind me of that when I have a severed toe, ok?

Charley Speaks

Some of my absolute favorite posts from fellow bloggers (like them and her) are basically bulleted lists of what funny things their toddler has said lately. My girl has a lot to say these days so I'm going to start keeping track of them too.
  • When preparing for Charley's birthday party, I drew Mr. Noodle on foam board for part of the decor. The next morning after my art project I showed Mr. Noodle to Charley and enthusiastically asked her who it was to which she replied just as enthusiastically "A MAN!"
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  • When we got home one evening I was reading the mail prior to my just-got-home-need-to-pee routine. After a couple of minutes I remembered that I needed to go pee and said out loud "gotta pee, gotta pee!" as I started to go to the bathroom. Charley came up behind me, patted my butt and said "Yep. Mama's got pee pees." Just like I do to her when she has a full pee diaper.
  • From my sister one day: "Baby Jesus has pee pees. I change him."
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  • "Tinkle, tinkle little star. How I wonder what you are. Apple juice the stars so bright..."
  • while reading a pop-up book that said: 'Foxes are very clever and like to eat chickens', Charley told me to "wait!" while she got up and ran to her play kitchen where she retrieved a chicken leg, ran back to the book and fed it to the fox. She then said "ooh, too spicy" and ran back to her kitchen to obtain some water to wash it down. Hate to break it to her that the chicken that foxes eat aren't prepared in quite the same way as the chicken we eat. 
And, a quick little video of our car chats. She talks non-stop in the car so I held up my phone to video her one day and somehow even managed to not cut off her head in the process.


It took me three months to put this list together and this child makes me laugh daily but I never can remember what she said when I get a second to sit down and write. Why is this?! Will someone follow behind us at all times and transcribe it all? I am going to be so sad when toddler speak is over!