We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Not Me Monday

I'm confessing along with others at MckMama this week.  :-)

Even though I really don't like crowds, I did NOT get up and go somewhere on Black Friday around 7 in the morning to get something for my husband.  My husband, the real hero, did NOT go to Toys R Us at midnight to get Cate's birthday present (her birthday is at the beginning of February and we're done Christmas shopping for her) since it was such a good deal:

If you bought the train table, you got the whole train set (normally $80) for free!  She loves the train tables at the various bookstores we frequent and she'll love having her own come February.  My wonderful hubby said it was crazy at Toys R Us at midnight!

I do NOT think Cate is adorable in her hat and mittens.  Her mittens are NOT way too big because they came as a set with her hat and her head is NOT so big I had to get her a 4T (she's not even two yet), which meant the 4T mittens came with it.

I do NOT think this picture more accurately captures some of the kiddos in our small group better than the ones I posted here.  

Only 3 of the 6 kids are looking at the camera.  There is one kid (behind Cate) falling down, so you only see her legs.  And who knows why Cate has her hands in the air.  The whole scene does NOT make me smile every time I pull up this picture.

I did NOT eat way too much this weekend.  And I am NOT so thankful for being able to eat (my medicine is finally really, really working so my stomach issues have stayed away). I do NOT need to start running again.  Good thing training for the Flying Pig Marathon starts soon (yes, I'm being ambitious and am hoping to do the whole 26.2 this spring...I've always wanted to do our hometown marathon in it's FULL glory--I've done the relay and the half in the past).

What have you NOT been up to lately?

~Melody :-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

After getting our fill of Thanksgiving goodness on Thursday, we headed to Hudson, the town in northeast Ohio where I spent life from 6th grade until I moved back to Cincinnati after college.

We put up our tree (not decorated yet though) before we left and I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures of Cate before departing. 

I think she's the cutest little elf ever!  It was considerably colder for being only 250 miles to the northeast.  Cate had to bundle up to play at the park on Saturday.

One of the things I love about Hudson is the way it looks all lit up for Christmas.

We took Cate to see "downtown" all lit up on Saturday after dinner.

Cate particularly enjoyed looking at the mouse on the clocktower.  There's a story that goes along with him about how he lives in the clocktower and was trying to get home for Christmas.  I looked for it online, but couldn't find it.

We ended our tour of downtown at The Learned Owl Bookstore, one of my favorite places. 

We're back home now and picking up where we left off with Christmas decorations.  Only 3 weeks of work for me and then it's Christmas vacation!!

~Melody :-)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Monkey See, Monkey Do

And monkey slippers too!

Once she figured out how to get Mommy's monkey slippers on...

...she didn't want to take them off.  Too bad they don't make them in her size. 

I need to go down in the basement and dig out my sock monkey (made for me by one of my best friends, Jenn, when I had my wisdom teeth out in high school).

I think she'll like loving on the real thing even more than wearing the slippers.  Well, knowing her, she'll want to love on the monkey while wearing my slippers.

~Melody :-)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Who Needs a Tree...

...when your toddler decides the garland is for decorating herself?

Happy almost December!

~Melody :-)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend Kickoff

We kicked off Thanksgiving weekend with a trip last night to the Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights. It was a zoo members' night preview of the festival, which actually opens tomorrow.  Our weather, which has been in the 50s and 60s for most of November (unusual for our part of the Midwest) started to plummet last night.

All of the families in our wonderful church small group have zoo passes, so we headed together (minus the one family that was traveling for the holidays...we missed you).
Miraculously, we got all of the kids to look the same way for one picture.

Cate has had a thing for penguins lately (penguins on the movie Happy Feet, the penguin window clings we put up, penguins on a pair of pajamas she inherited from someone).  She calls them "pen-gies" and it's absolutely adorable.  She was very excited to meet a giant one last night.

After a ride on the carousel, we headed home, way past Cate's bedtime...but hey, isn't staying up late part of the holiday fun?!?

Happy Thanksgiving!  We're off for a weekend of celebrating in various places. 

~Melody :-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Not Me Monday

I'm confessing along with others at MckMama this week.  :-)

I have NOT been trying to put pony tails in Cate's hair every chance I get.

I do NOT think she looks like the absolute cutest thing in the whole world with pony tails.

Cate did NOT pull all of these pony tails out on our hour-ish car ride to visit one of my college friends on Saturday.  Our car did NOT eat the pony tail holders so that I couldn't put them back in (still haven't found them). 

I'm NOT a little worried about teaching Eric how to put pony tails in Cate's hair since he's the one that waits for her to wake up in the mornings, gets her dressed, and feeds her breakfast before he drops her off at the sitter.  He's a fast learner, but we'll wait until her hair gets a little longer before we try to teach him.

~Melody :-)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Before and After

Before this week, our basement looked like this:

Well, actually, when we first bought our house, we had carpeting in the basement and used it as a workout room/computer room/storage/temporary apartment for my cousin.  But our house is 100 years old and the shady waterproofing job someone did on our house way before we bought it finally couldn't hold during some heavy rains the spring that Cate was born.  So we ripped up the carpet and just let it sit for a year.  Then we had it waterproofed the way a 100 year old house should be waterproofed last spring (with jackhammers and waterproof exterior walls and a lifetime warranty and stuff).  Our intention was to make a basement playroom.

We finally got around to ordering carpet (we wanted carpet tiles because they are easy to install yourself and if we spill things and stain the carpet, we can just lift up the tile and put down a new one (we ordered quite a few extra for this purpose). 

Eric, Cate, and I (but mostly Eric) spent a lot of time down there these last couple of weeks getting things done.  Thankfully Eric had a few more vacation days to spare before the end of the year.

The result?  The fruits of our labors?  The place where I'm pretty sure we'll be spending most of the nasty days this winter?
Introducing---- Our Brand New Basement Playroom!

Plenty of storage for the many, many, toys we have already managed to accumulate.

An old coffee table (rescued from some random neighbor's trash) makes a great art table.

And many of Cate's outdoor toys have found a winter home in the playroom.

Her sand and water table is now full of dried beans and pasta to play with (since she's so tactile anyway).
Her swing is secured tightly into a support beam (she loves that she can swing and watch Elmo on TV at the same time).

Even her princess cafe table is a good place for a snack!

The playroom is already a hit...Cate didn't want to leave it to come upstairs for dinner.  We still have some work to do: we got rid of the drop ceiling in there so everything is exposed and we need to clean that up a bit, the bathroom also needs some sprucing up, and I need to do something about fun window treatments.  I'm already making my wish list for things I want to buy from the children's section at IKEA to help finish off the space. 

Now all we need is for Christmas to get here so Santa can bring that toy kitchen and shopping cart!

~Melody :-)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Giving Thanks

It's no secret that our economy isn't as great as it was a few years ago.  But it's getting there.  While Eric and I try to be thankful and live out lives of gratitude every day of the year, this season reminds us most that we have so much for which to be thankful.  Eric and I have jobs we both love (most days), are relatively healthy (as is Cate), have a home, lots of family that love us, a strong marriage, wonderful friends, cars that run smoothly, clothes that keep us warm, and I could go on and on about both our intangible and tangible blessings. 

We want Cate to grow up grateful as well.  Right now this mostly consists of teaching her to say "please" and "thank you."  But includes other things as well...things we teach her by example. Like cleaning out our closets once a year and getting rid of things we no longer need or use.  Or giving money at church.  Or donating our time by volunteering. 

Every year our church does a Thanksgiving food drive.  This year we had the biggest response yet.  The boxes collected (each one will feed a family) are expected to feed 240,000 people!  Our church has a sister church in South Africa, so in addition to feeding people in our local tri-state area, we collected food to send to Mamelodi as well. 

Last year, Eric and I challenged ourselves to fill one Thanksgiving box for one family in need.  This year we filled another box, and a box for South Africa (because of Customs and Shipping Specifics, we were given a box with specific items to buy...in our case it was a dozen canisters of powdered fruit juice mix).  In addition, Cate brought in a jar of peanut butter (all of the kids in Kids' Club, which is kind of like Sunday School, were asked to bring in peanut butter to send to South Africa).  We know Cate didn't understand where the peanut butter was going or even why she was carrying it into church (she thought it was a toy), but we know that instilling an attitude of gratitude in her starts early. 

It's so easy to enjoy life when we are blessed with plenty.  But there are many people this holiday season that are worried about keeping the heat on and food on the table, not presents under the tree.  Buying an entire Thanksgiving dinner for a family costs money, and required a little sacrifice on our part.  But one or two less dinners out at a restaurant for us, means another family will sit at a table on Thursday to share a meal. 

We're all pinching pennies where we can in an economy that's trying to recover (and we're all trying to save a little too so that we're more prepared should we encounter more economic troubles in the future).  But I promise, if you sacrifice a little to give a little, you get so much more in return.  So skip that latte at Starbucks one morning and put the money in that red Salvation Army pot.  Or pick up an extra toy the next time you're at Target and donate it to a toy drive.  Find those few sweaters that you really don't wear anymore and drop them off at Goodwill, or a homeless shelter, so they can keep someone else warm.  Volunteer a few hours at a soup kitchen.  Grab your kids and make cookies for your neighbors or make cards for patients in nursing homes.  The opportunities to give of your time and/or your resources abound!  Make the most of the season.

C'mon...this has got to be inspiring (pictures from cell phone earlier tonight at our church's box drop off...sorry for the low quality):

(we cause quite a traffic jam during box drop off...humor helps when you're sitting there stuck)

And if you have the time, check out this article

~Melody :-)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Telephone on a Leash

Cate is obsessed with the fact that Zoey, our dog, walks on a leash.  In fact, if we even mention the word "walk," she immediately says "doggie leash" (or sometimes "leash doggie"). And if we let go of the leash, with dog attached, she completely freaks out and goes running and crying after Zoey, picks up the leash, and hands it to either Eric or I.  It's adorable and I'm not gonna lie-- sometimes we let go of the leash on purpose because her little freak outs are just so stinkin' cute.

Anyway...Cate has had this Fischer Price phone (one of their "retro" toys-- I had one when I was little) since last Christmas.  Only recently has she discovered that it has a leash.

So now she is obsessed with it and pulls it all over the house (it's not exactly quiet).

We've even taken it outside a few times.  But at least when she drops this leash, she doesn't freak out.

Maybe it's because the phone doesn't run away like the dog does.

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Heartfelt Blogging

I like to read a lot of blogs.  I think it's fun to get a glimpse of what other people's lives are like (in a non-creepy kind of way).  I read the blogs of people I know and people I've never met.  Sometimes, it's the only reading I have time to do.  Anyway, one of the blogs I enjoy reading is Becoming Briggs and JMBerrygirl just passed on an award to me. 

The rules state that I need to pick 9 other blogs for the award.  I like variety, but found that several of the blogs I read have already received this award.  So here are 4 blogs I love and who I don't think have already received this award.  They can play along and continue to share some bloggy love. 
1. Texas Life-- I know this blogger as she's from my hometown.  She's expecting a baby and I'm super excited for her. 
2. Marchand's Musings -- Another friend from high school and amazing pastor's wife who is also expecting.  I'm so excited for her too.
3. Carly's Photography -- This blogger and I survived high school marching band together (it was fun, most of the time) and now she has way more time to play around with her camera than I do.  I love her pictures!
4. 100 Musings -- Ms. Musings and I also went to high school together.  I love her posts and musings and am jealous of her world traveling and the classes she gets to take (yes, I teach school, and yes, I miss being a student).

And here's the thing.  I totally think everyone I nominated in my Honest Scrap Award post is deserving of this award as well.  If that's you, accept this award and play along if you like.  
~Melody :-)

PS...I set up this post to publish on Wednesday since I already had a post for today (Tuesday, when I'm writing this).  So I thought it would be weird to notify these bloggers via comments before the post published.  So if you're a recipient of this award, and I haven't notified you yet, that's why...but feel free to go ahead and share.  :-)  And hopefully I'll remember to let you know I'm giving you this award. 

And thanks again JMBerryGirl :-)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Orange Balloon

Maybe you've heard of "The Red Balloon."  Maybe not (but if you haven't, you should check it out...it's Cate's first foreign film).  Instead, this is the story of the orange balloon.

The orange balloon that Cate got this weekend at the grocery store. 

We clipped it to her shirt and she happily walked around all afternoon wearing her balloon.

Eric and I decided that we should attach a balloon to her next time we're in a really crowded place.  Then she'll be easy to spot.

It's deflated now...and the cat, who likes curly ribbon, chewed part of it's ribbon-string so that it's pretty sorry-looking.  But it was fun while it lasted.

~Melody :-)