Friday, August 28, 2009

Plan B

Sadly, spread the happiness with random acts of kindness week came to a screeching halt on Wednesday when I came down with some sort of cold. I guess it will have to wait until next week. This week has pretty much been a wash.

Between Matt working long hours (in a far away office) training for his new job, me being sick and busy at work, and of course the little munchkin, it's been a bit hectic. And tiring! I've been going to bed a 9 every night.

I will say, the one good thing about daycare is that the kids "play" so much that they are completely worn out at the end of the day. Madelyn typically falls asleep in the car on the way home and sleeps until 6-6:30. Here she is on Wednesday. So tired she couldn't even hold her little head up.

Look at the chub on those legs! I love it.

This weekend we're attending Kristin's husband Matt's 30th birthday bonanza at their new house and then spending some time with Matt's parents. Next week my mom and aunt Sue are coming into town for Labor Day so I have lots of cleaning to do in preparation for their arrival. I'm so excited for them to see Madelyn and her sweet personality. Here are a few new facts about our little pride and joy.

- She likes to be spoken to in adult voices, not baby talk, and she loooves to watch me talk to people when she doesn't think I'm looking. I think it's because she hears my voice the way she heard it in the womb and she's totally captivated. I just can't help but raise my voice a little when I talk to her! It's like a cuteness reflex.

- She wants to stand and "walk" picking up one foot after the other.

- She has started laughing and it is OhMYGoodness precious.

I'm trying to decide what I want to dress her up as for Halloween. The obvious choice would be a monkey since that's what I call her, but I don't want her to look like a little boy! check this one out:

And this is just too much- it's a peacock! She'd kill me when she found these pictures later in life. Seriously. I die. (sidenote: I've picked up saying "I die" from watching the Rachael Zoe Project on Bravo. Those of you who watch know what I'm talking about. If you aren't watching, you should.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Yesterday our sweet neighbor stopped by to see how we were doing and let us know that she was bringing us dinner! I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. She said she had meant to do it when we first got home with Madelyn, but she knew that anyone that has a little one can always use some help so she figured now was better than never. Not only did this save me from cooking (wahoo!) and give me more time with my little sweet pea on a Sunday night, but it was so touching that she thought to go out of her way and help us out.

Well, imagine my amazement when she showed up at 6:15 with not just dinner, but three bags of food! She brough us a huge casserole, garlic bread, salad greens, croutons, salad dressing, AND a huge pan of delicious brownies. She brought us enough food to feed ourselves through at least Wednesday. It was so so kind of her and really meant so much to me that I've decided I'm going to try and do one random act of kindness per week. This week it is going to be making her homemade cookies as a thank you, and also a batch for our pastor and his wife who live on the other end of our street.

Up until I entered the corporate world I had always volunteered, either through church, school, or just on my own merit, and I think I've felt a bit of a void since not doing so. It is very important to me that Madelyn see how meaningful it is to help people, and just to be a generous, kind person, so I definitely plan to take her volunteering as soon as she's old enough.

I encourage each of you to do something nice for those around you this week. Send your parents a card for no reason, wash your spouse's car, pay for the person behind you in line at Starbucks (and hope they don't have 6 people in the car- haha:), anything!! I assure you it will brighten your week :)

Dear Time, please slow down and quit leaving me in your dust. Best regards, Jennifer

Madelyn turned 4 months old on Saturday and thus came the need to start introducing "solid" foods.

Here she is in all of her glory trying rice cereal. She's only swallows about half of it and spits out the rest, but she looks so cute in the process :) (apologies for these pictures showing up grainy, not sure why that is happening)

Sitting like a little lady in her booster seat
Having a bib appetizer for her first course

Concentrating really hard because eating from a spoon is not easy!

She also had her 4 month check up this morning where we found out that she is tall, skinny, and has a tiny head. This is the child I birthed by c-section because of her "95% size head" (direct quote from my doctor) and now has a head size in the 10 percentile. The irony is astounding. Here are a few more pictures of our rapidly growing child from over the weekend:)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Happiness: Find it Here!

Yesterday I was quietly reading Glamour magazine while Madelyn took her early evening nap and read a quote that struck a cord with me. It was from the CEO of Ann Taylor, Christine Beauchamp (yes, a lady no less!). She said her father used to always say "Work hard, have fun, and be kind" and she has lived every day of her life by those few words. I just love that quote.

On the same day, I saw something posted on one of my favorite blogs titled Young House Love (formerly This Young House) that resonated with me in the same way. The married couple who write the blog, Sherri and John, had gone shopping at a thrift store and found some charms inscribed with the "keys to happiness". See below for the secret to eternal bliss :)

Free your heart from hatred.
Free your mind from worries.
Live simply.
Give more.
Expect less.

These short phrases reminded me to slow down and remember that the true pleasures come from living a simple, generous life. It is even more important now that we have a little one watching our every move. If I want her to grow up to be generous and content in the "small stuff" I better start living that way!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Happy Two Year Anniversary to US!

Usually people say "I can't believe it's already been (insert # of years here) years! It feels like just yesterday we got married!". Today is mine and Matt's two year anniversay and I would actually say that it feels like we've been married exactly two years. The time is definitely flying by but I feel like we've accomplished so much in two years that I want to give that amount of time the credit it is due :)

Matt and I met by random chance (God's plan I say) at my cousin's wedding. It's a really cute story that I will tell in its entirety some other time, but I knew that day that I was going to marry Matt, and I think he'd say the same thing. I think that anyone who knows him would agree that he is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet. He is very fun and goofy but also very sweet and caring--he is an all around awesome husband and father.

I'm really proud of all that we've accomplished in two years. We bought and basically renovated/updated every single room, paid off some major debt and still managed to save a decent amount of money, survived the hormonal inbalances of pregnancy and had the most beautiful little girl in the entire world (seriously), made it through a tough time with Matt's job, and much more that I won't bore you by listing.

Since things have been a little bit crazy lately, we decided to postpone our anniversary celebration a few weeks, and then we plan to go out to a really nice dinner together which is something we haven't done in a long time. We also decided that for our gift to each other we are going to get bikes so that we can go on family bike rides. We both love to be outside and I really love that it's an activity we can do together and it's something Madelyn will enjoy when she gets older.

Even though we are postponing our official anniversary celebration for a few weeks, we are definitely going to enjoy spending some family time together tonight, and maybe a glass or two of wine :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I've Got the Fever

No, not baby fever- are you people crazy? (you'd be shocked to know the number of people who ask me if I'm ready for number two with a little wink and nudge nudge...are you kidding me? I don't even answer, I just shoot them a look that subtly says "please don't insult me with such ridiculous questions" which I think is answer enough.)

And no, it's not a flu or illness-related fever...luckily the family has somehow warded off the swine flu which is a miracle given that Madelyn constantly has her hands in her mouth...(she's teething, so if hands in the mouth make her happy she can have at it)

I've got new house fever!!

Matt and I drove around last night up in Atlanta looking at new houses and I so have the fever. I of course have to play it cool and can't express this to Matt just yet because I want him to think I'm being rational and subjective about the location and style of our new house. We found two neighborhoods we really liked, both have the rear-entry garages and smaller yards but lots of public spaces and playgrounds which I love. They all also happen to have front porches, sidewalks, nice upgraded features (granite, hardwoods, trim work, etc) which has always been my dream.

See exhibit A. I could just see Matt and I enjoying an iced tea on this porch while we watch Madelyn play in our nicely manicured, fenced in yard (that faces a park!).

While we prepare to put our current house on the market (and I have a momentary "holy crap we have a lot to do" moment), please take a moment to rack your brain for anyone you know who may want to live in the beautiful suburb of Fayetteville, Georgia and send them my way :)

In addition to the beautiful houses in this family-friendly, Truman-show'ish neighborhood (did I mention one of my sorority sisters from college lives in here?) are the abundance of awesome restaurants in the area, close proximity to the zoo, Piedmont Park, and other activities children enjoy, as well as a FIFTEEN minute commute to my office. That's an hour and a half everyday I could spend cooking in my gourmet kitchen or playing with my baby girl that I currently spend in the car. Did I mention Kristin would live appx. 2.5 miles away? Holy fun-ness.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Houses, Much Like Puppies, Can Easily be Emotional Impulse Buys

By even planting the seed of moving my mind is going a million miles a minute thinking of new decor ideas. It's a little out of control. Never hurts to be prepared though, right?

I just happened to mention to a co-worker yesterday that we'd like to move closer intown in a few years and he just happens to be selling his house which I just happen to absolutely love. Weird karmic destiny? I can't say. But, I do know this house has everything we want in our next place, I'm just not sure about the neighborhood or school district. It never hurts to look, but I think houses are a lot like puppies and you shouldn't look unless you are prepared to buy, because you may fall in love and then what do you do?! Walk away from those sweet eyes peering up at you, or that amazing front porch and enormous kitchen calling you to come cook your little heart out?
Decisions decisions....

In the meantime, feast your eyes on these beauties :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Times, they are a changin'

Good news to report- Matt got a new job! Wooohoo!!! We are really excited and it's an excellent opportunity for him, not to mention a great raise and benefits package. The transition is a bit bittersweet because he has been working for a very close family friend of ours, but we both feel it's the right thing for us right now. Aside from seeing more disposable income in our future, I'm really looking forward to the ability to save money again. For the last few months we haven't been able to save a dime as our income just covered our bills, and we also haven't been able to do many fun things because we didn't want to spend the money. We've been lucky that the only thing we really had to pull from savings for was to fix our air conditioner THREE times since Memorial Day...yes, we will quickly begin saving for a new unit as I'm confident the one we have isn't going to make it another summer. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

And, here comes the mom in me again, I'm looking forward to expanding our grocery budget so I can start buying organics again! I never buy regular milk, but when we were crunched I couldn't justify the price of organic produce even though I have very strong convictions about the benefits. Now I can go back to being the green hippie Matt thinks I am :)

We've also decided we're going to be moving in a few years as we're not thrilled with the direction our current schools are headed in. We could move just 5 minutes away and be in excellent schools, but we're also looking at moving closer into the city. I work in the middle of Atlanta and while I do get to work from home a few days a week, when I do drive in it's at least 45 minutes each way with traffic. Since Matt will be working out of the house with his new job but have the entire city of Atlanta for his territory it seems logical that we should be in a more central location. Our goal is to save as much money as we can so that we can put a good amount down on our next house, since at this point we can't count on making much money on our current one. We spent all day Saturday looking at homes and neighborhoods in the 'burbs where we currently are but didn't find anything we were in love with. Next we're going to look in the city which I'm super excited about. Granted, this is very premature, we just want to get an idea of what we want and how much it's going to cost us so we know what we're in for when the time comes!

Anyways, this is a pretty boring post, so here are a few new pictures of Madelyn for you to oooh and aaah over :) She laughed for the first time this weekend. I could have died it was so freakin cute.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reflections on Mommy-Hood Part II

- It is either as a result of becoming a mom or possibly even getting older (or both!) but I'm now convinced that 80% of what is on the radio is complete garbage. Last week I added the "soft rock" station to my line up because I couldn't handle the top 40 anymore. Yes, it's a lively mix of 80's hits and seriously every John Mayer song ever written, but I am quite enjoying it. I'm also looking to beef up my iPod so if anyone has suggestions send them to me!

- I feel more and more like there are not enough hours in the day. Between working, driving, cooking, cleaning, etc I feel like the day could be 48 hours long and I'd Still have a to-do list two pages long. My solution this week was to take a cooking hiatus and it's been relaxing to say the least. As I've said before, I really do enjoy cooking. But when I don't get home from work until 6 p.m. and Madelyn goes to bed around 8:30, the last thing I want to do is spend an hour cooking and cleaning when I could be playing with her! So this past weekend I went to Whole Foods and stocked up on frozen pizzas, salad stuff, ready to make ravioli, things that you just have to heat up, and eggs- incase we got really desperate. So far we are still alive and not starving, so I'd say it's going well. I've also started cleaning in small 5 minute spurts when I have the time. This morning I got ready and had 10 minutes to spare before waking little one so I cleaned the toilets and emptied out the garbage cans. Talk about a productive morning...
A few other timesavers I am grateful for- online shopping, drive through ATMs, and breakfasts that you can eat in the car.

- Yes, every mother is 100% convinced that their child is the smartest, cutest, most well-balanced, and yes they truly believe those things are true. I am no exception :) I have no idea what I'll think down the road (WAY down the road) when #2 comes could they every compare?! ;)

- I've Mom-ified my wardrobe. Gone are the old jean skirts that I so effortlessly lived in while in college and party shirts that I'll never have the chance to wear again. In their place are knit dresses and chino skirts. Much more mom-appropriate. Thank you J Crew and Banana Republic for making these things possible.And yes, I still had clothes from college ok. Even though it was 5 years ago it doesn't feel like it. Wait- does this mean I have to get rid of my old sorority t-shirts??

- I used to live in high heels. I practically wore them to the hospital to give birth. But while on maternity leave I got accustomed to my J Crew flip flops and now I'm having such a hard time going back!! I wear heels at work because I just don't feel like people take me as seriously in flats, but as soon as I get home they are off off off. Why can't someone invent a truly flip-flip comfortable heel? Is that too much to ask?

- I wish there were drive through grocery stores. It seems to silly to park and go in when you only need three things. There has to be a way to streamline this system.
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