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

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With the Old, In with the New...Year

I can't believe it's been a whole year since this post. Even more unbelievable to me (and a testament to how quickly time passes) is the fact that this June will be ten years since I graduated high school. While it was fun, I wouldn't want to go back, but still don't feel like it's been that long since I left. In a time where many people live well into their 80's and 90's though, I guess ten years isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. But I digress...

We rang in 2010 as "Mario and Lola Talent" at our friend Emily's Academy Awards themed murder mystery New Year's Eve party.
I'm not sure how I feel about Eric's accusing me of being the murderer (which I was not).
My grandmother graciously sat with our cat, dog, and Cate's baby monitor while we were out. Before we went out, Eric made us a delicious dinner of grilled tuna steaks and portabello mushroom w/ smoked mozzarella.
2009 was a rollercoaster of a year for us. The ups of a great vacation (or two), watching Cate grow, a U2 concert, and getting more involved at our church and small group. The downs of digestive issues that went undiagnosed for me for several months and a falling out with Cate's former sitter. Overall though, I'm thankful for everything-- up or down. And without further ado...some of our 2009 "Best Of's":
Best Book (s) Read (somehow I managed to get in 21 books this year): Cold Tangerines (Melody) and Jesus Wants to Save Christians (Eric)
Best Movie at the Theater: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (both of us)
Best New TV Show(s): Flashforward and Modern Family (both of us)
Best New Music Discovery: Matisyahu (both)

And no New Year's post would be complete without some resolutions. Here are mine from next year along with a progress report:
1. Start National Board Certification or take some more classes-- well, since Ohio pulled funding for National Board Certification and I didn't want to spend $2500 to do it, I opted to take 9 more credit hours to get advancement on the payscale at work.
2. To experiment/learn more about photography-- I think it's pretty obvious how much I love my Canon Digital Rebel 12.1 Megapixel DSLR! And how much I've loved learning how to use it. Any reader of this blog also knows Cate is my favorite subject.
3. To shop local more often-- We definitely made many more trips to farmers' markets and Findlay Market this year. Can't wait for them to open up again this spring.
4. To spend less time on the internet-- I think I did pretty well on this one, but it could still use some work. I tend to lose myself some times reading blogs and writing my own. I have cut my Facebook usage down though.

Not too bad huh?

This year's resolutions are simple:
1. To be present-- I tend to always be looking to the "next" thing. Just because my body is physically somewhere doesn't mean my mind is right there with me. So I'm going to try to make more of an effort to be in the moment and not let my mind wander to that "next" thing so much.
2. To learn how to knit and sew more-- I enjoyed my sewing time spent with my grandmother this past summer and can't wait to learn more. And I'm thrilled that I learned how to knit something besides scarves. Hopefully this year will bring more than just scarves and dishcloths in the knitting realm and more cute clothes for Cate in the sewing realm.
3. To make more of an effort to grow spiritually-- I've struggled with this for a few years now...just finding out how I connect with God and come to that peace. I often get frustrated or burnt out and so I give up, content to just let church and small group fill my spiritual voids. This year I don't want to give up so easily and want to strive to find a way that I can connect more personally with my Creator.
Happy New Year!

What are you resolving to do?

~Melody :-)

Passing Time

Eric has had quite a bit of time off while I've been on break from school (thankfully). He had some vacation days to use up along with already getting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day off. With Cate feeling a bit under the weather from both the stomach flu and the regular flu (both of which hit her within a week of each other), we've been lying low at home. And you know what? We kind of started to like it.

We bought a puzzle and started working on it one night over break.
It's a Picture-Eka! puzzle meant for the whole family-- so half of it has larger pieces. 350 pieces in total, and when you finish, there's additional stuff to "hunt" for (kind of like Where's Waldo?).
It was fun putting it together over the course of a few days. My parents and siblings even helped out while they were in town. We kept it on one of the leftover carpet tiles from the basement so that we could move it around or put it up and away from little hands.
We liked it so much, we're going to tackle another one. It's a 1000 piece-er that Eric picked out of the Santa Barbara Mission.

Playing games, like Bananagrams has also become a fun way to pass the time together. Especially by the light of the Christmas tree (which will be coming down soon...sniff, tear, boo hoo, sniff). Cate can't really "play" games yet, so we play after she goes to bed. Although she did enjoy dumping all of the banana tiles out and then putting them back in the banana.
We've also been doing a lot of reading...all three of us. Even though we're not reading the same book, it's nice to just sit on the couch after Cate goes to bed and read with Eric right there, reading too.
Sometimes we sit on the couch and watch movies. Going to the movies is EXPENSIVE! We love Redbox $1 rentals and free rentals from the library. Just pop some popcorn, pop open a cold beverage (or brew a hot one), and enjoy!
We've also been making a mess in the basement! The new toys are so much fun!
We used to be a very on-the-go kind of family...and we do still enjoy going places and seeing things. But over this break, we've also discovered more of the comforts of home. What things do you enjoy at home?

~Melody :-)

P.S. Yeah, I've been doing a lot of this too... :-)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eye Candy

I made these yummy snow pops to take to Book Club tonight. They look (and taste) delicious. They weren't too hard to make, although next time I make them I will make sure my husband or someone else is here to entertain Cate. She watched a lot of Elmo's World while I made them. Wouldn't red, pink, and white ones be cute for Valentine's Day? I can see them being a good treat for Cate to bring to school on her birthday in a few years (let's not rush things, okay).
I think the vase makes for cute display, however it means that the other dozen or so will be arriving in ziploc bags and will replace others as they are eaten (aka: they don't all fit in the vase). If you want to make some yourself...the recipe is here (luckily I didn't have to add rolled oats).

And because no Eye Candy post would be complete without this girl:
Ahhh...I love me some blue-eyed toddler in brand new fleece sitting in a Cracker Barrel rocking chair drinking milk out of a sippy cup!
~Melody :-)

P.S. Our latest book club read: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Up next month: 1000 White Women by Jim Fergus (already downloaded to my Kindle...I love that thing).

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Only 363 Shopping Days Until Next Christmas

While it's safe to say that Cate was definitely more "into" Christmas than last year, she wasn't completely herself Christmas morning either. She ran an off-and-on fever for most of Christmas Eve and woke up really hot on Christmas Day. She was only half into opening presents and checking out her new kitchen.
Until the Tylenol kicked in...
Then she started enjoying her official Cracker Barrel rocking chair (thank you Nanny and Poppy), her kitchen, play food, shopping cart, blocks, and the dozens of other toys she received. Santa, my family, and Eric's family were all way too generous.
Cate still wasn't feeling great on Saturday either, when we celebrated a little more Christmas (and a milestone birthday for my aunt) with more family that came into town. Again though, when the Tylenol kicked in, Cate was all about playing with her new Little People castle (thanks Aunt "B" and family) and her pots and pans from her Great Grandma.

Things seem to be on the mend now though. Cate was pretty much her perky, happy self on Sunday. She stayed home with Daddy and "helped" him move all of her toys down to the basement while I went to a baby shower in Maysville for one of my dear college friends, Rachel (she got a little practice in with a friend's baby).
This week's project is definitely cleaning out the toys and putting away the ones that are now too "baby-ish" for her in order to make sure she has plenty of space to enjoy the new ones. And to make room for what I'm sure will be more toys come February when Miss Cate turns 2. Cate is enjoying all of the new stuff to the fullest now that she is feeling better.

Even the pets are enjoying their Christmas presents:
(a catnip cigar for Sierra--seriously the strongest catnip ever, I had to put it in a plastic bag before putting it in her stocking because she kept trying to knock her stocking down to get it early)
(rawhide bones for Zoey)

Cate and I got something in common for Christmas this year too...electronic readers!!

Hers is a Tag Junior from Eric's parents (thanks Grandma and Poppy). Uncle Ed also gave her two books. Cate caught onto using the reader quickly and loves using it to interact with her new books.

And mine is a Kindle! I know, I have the BEST husband ever!! I absolutely love it and am thrilled to already be subscribing to The New Yorker. I also downloaded the January book selection for my book club. Yay!

I hope all of you dear readers enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends! Hopefully next year Cate will be a little more healthy.

~Melody :-)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas

Our new pajamas are on (a tradition we started last year at Cate's first Christmas-- everyone gets new PJ's on Christmas Eve so we look marvelous on Christmas morning), the presents are all wrapped, Cate is having visions of sugarplums, and Eric and I are curled up with mugs of hot tea. :-) We already celebrated Christmas with Eric's side of the family tonight. They were way too generous with their gift giving-- especially to Cate, she is one spoiled kiddo!Yes, that is a cute, Cracker Barrel rocking chair that Cate will be getting tomorrow from her Nanny and Poppy.
And isn't that grocery cart adorable?!? It will go great with this kitchen:
We got it used and Eric replaced all of the hardware on it as well as really cleaning it up. There's a fridge too. Cate will be cooking up a storm come tomorrow morning.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Christmas Cookie Tradition

Paintbrush cookies have long been a tradition in my family. In fact, I blogged about them once before, here. That was the last time I made paint brush cookies. We decided that this year, Cate was old enough to get in on the tradition.

Paintbrush cookies are essentially cutout sugar cookies that you "paint" with an egg yolk/water/food coloring mixture. Yes, using paintbrushes.
As a kid, I looked forward to making paintbrush cookies with my cousins and my grandparents' house every year. Cate was interested in helping paint the cookies for the first cookie sheet. Then she lost interest and took a nap.
Eric and I finished the cookies and put them in cute Christmas tree tins...perfect for sharing with friends and neighbors.
We think Cate will be more into them next year. Although she did enjoy digging into them to eat them when she woke up from her nap.
~Melody :-)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Not Me Monday

I'm confessing along with others at MckMama this week. :-) It's Not Me time...Christmas style. I am happy to report first though that no one else came down with Cate's mystery bug, so we think some kind of food she ate on Friday is to blame for her 3 or so hours of puking.

With Cate being under the weather for part of the weekend and really not herself until today, we did NOT watch the following about 6 different times.
She is NOT watching it again as I blog this. I do NOT secretly enjoy watching it as well since the guest appearances by people like Ben Stiller, Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Hudson, Jamie Foxx, and Charles Gibson are so entertaining to watch.

Cate has NOT been really getting into the whole "pretending" thing lately. In fact all weekend (once she was feeling better), she has NOT been pretending to do everything with the little penguin shown in the picture below (reading the book Aunt Jenn...aka...my best friend since middle school got her for Christmas).
Cate does NOT pretend to feed this penguin, give it milk, brush it and read to it. That penguin did NOT come as kind of a joke from my student teacher (whose last day with me was on Friday) because I love this video so much.

We are NOT still trying to get a few last presents wrapped a mere four days before Christmas. My house is NOT a filthy mess despite the fact that company is coming in three short days. I do NOT have a lot to do this week. At least it's all to get ready for Christmas...we canNOT wait for our little peanut to open her presents on Christmas morning.

~Melody :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not the Way to Start Christmas Break

I did get one wish...snow! We did get a little bit last night, but most of it's already been washed away by rain. So I don't know that we'll be having a white Christmas. At least we got to see some of the pretty white flakes before the holiday though.

My break from school officially started yesterday. I was very excited to see our church's Christmas show last night with my grandmother (mom's mom) and Eric's mom and stepdad (click the link to see videos and download songs from the show). We got all dressed up after dinner and headed out. The atrium of the church was beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, lights, a train display and more. We walked around a bit before heading to our seats in the auditorium. Just as we were entering the auditorium though, Cate decided to redecorate the aisle with everything she'd eaten that day.

Eric's mom and stepdad stayed for the show with my grandmother while we took Cate home. We had hoped it was just a one-time fluke since Cate had been running around at home before we left and seemed fine. But after she got sick again on the five minute drive home, we knew we were in for a long night.

Eric was my rock. Anyone who knows me well, knows I don't handle vomiting well. Eric stayed with Cate in the bathroom for awhile, helping her to the toilet when she started getting sick. He let her fall asleep on his lap once the sickness subsided, and got up a few times during the night with me to give her Pedialyte (dehydration is a major concern after what happened last time Cate got the stomach bug).

Thankfully, Cate hasn't gotten sick since late last night/early this morning and has kept down Pedialyte, water, crackers, and banana. We know she's staying hydrated because of her wet diapers and tears. And thankfully, Eric and I are both feeling fine right now (please pray that this bug misses us and neither of us ends up sick). Cate is feeling much better tonight and "played" a little Wii with Daddy.
It's a scary thing to watch your kid be so sick. And it's an embarrassing thing when they do it in public. We're thankful for the very gracious church staff who helped us get Cate cleaned up and cleaned up her mess. I'm looking on the bright side of things too-- at least it was now instead of this time next week when our Christmas celebrations will be in full swing.

Less than one week!

~Melody :-)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Five Question Friday

It's one of the most wonderful times of the week...Five Question Friday, brought to you by Mama M.

1. Which boygroup did you like most in your teens? That would be N'Sync. Totally loved them. One of my friends got tickets to their concert and a little girl down the row from us puked all over the place. It was also drizzling out. Because of the puke and the rain, the usher/security staff let us move up to the front row. It was amazing! I still love Justin Timberlake...especially when he is on Saturday Night Live.

2. Do you do Christmas cards, letters, photos, nuthin', all of the above? I did a photo card with a letter the last few years. This year I just did a photo card. I didn't have time to put a letter together and really not that much has changed since last year...which is good.

3. If you could meet one celebrity who would it be and why? Bono from U2. I'd like to pick his brain about a few things...mostly the charity/humanitarian work he does. And his thoughts on faith.

4. Favorite thing to cook with (i.e. stainless, non-stick, Dutch oven, microwave, debit card...or, perhaps, a cauldron, etc.)? Crock pot...I have the best recipe for Beef Burgundy and I love coming home to a dinner that's pretty much cooked itself all day.

5. What is the one thing you wear the most, besides your unmentionables? My wedding band and engagement ring. :-)

Come join the fun!

~Melody :-)

MckLinky Blog Hop

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Truthful Tuesday

Confessions from a Working Mom

These blog hops are so much fun. Truthful Tuesdays was started and is run by someone I know in real life, my friend, Elizabeth, from middle school/high school. Tuesdays are normally pretty busy for me, so I haven't had the chance to play along. But I made sure to make time today. Today's question: Do you believe in ghosts?

While I definitely believe that there are weird, unexplainable things that happen, I don't believe in ghosts. It's fun to watch those reality shows about paranormal activity, but honestly, I feel like it's a bunch of people reading too much into noises and sounds that they hear. I do enjoy a good ghost story though. In fact, I just finished Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, which is a great ghost story. And this time of year, A Christmas Carol is always a favorite.

Wanna play along? Enter the blog hop below. :-) Maybe your ghost story will convince me that they're out there.

~Melody :-)
MckLinky Blog Hop

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Celebrating the Season

It's been quite a busy weekend for us all here. Friday night, I had a wonderful reunion dinner with some women from a Bible Study I did in fall of 2008. We enjoyed good food, good wine, and most importantly, good company. I forgot my camera though, so I don't have any pictures. :-( Cate also attended a party hosted by her Tuesday/Thursday sitter, Tasha, on Saturday afternoon. Tasha was so generous with the gifts she gave the 20 or so kids in attendance and we are so blessed that she is a part of Cate's life.

Our small group from church has definitely become a family for us over the past year and has been a huge blessing in our lives. It's still so hard for me to believe that we were all pretty much strangers only last February. Now we see each other at least once a week, our kids love one another, and we're always guaranteed a good time when we're with one another.
Last night we had a Christmas party. After some fabulous barbecue for dinner, the kids busied themselves coloring nativity scene ornaments.
Then the big guy himself showed up! Since all of the kids believe in Santa, they were super excited to see him making a personal appearance at the party.
Cate loved Santa last year, and we were pretty sure she'd love him this year since she doesn't really have stranger anxiety. Sure enough, she was the first one to climb right up there on his lap.
He brought a gift for each of the kids to remind them to be good for the next two weeks and that he's watching them for excellent behavior. He also brought the stockings I blogged about in this post filled with small goodies. Cate loved her Little People Ice Cream Truck that plays music, moos, and is driven by the cutest little cow holding an ice cream cone ever.
I was shocked that Cate made it until 10:30 before she started to get fussy. She occupied herself for about an hour taking Mad Gab cards out of the box and then putting them back in. This morning she slept until 9:00 (for which Mommy and Daddy were very grateful). We were a few minutes late to church because I had to get pictures of Cate wearing the velveteen coat my grandmother made for me when I was little.
And yes, that is an old school Polaroid camera in the picture with Cate. She has been obsessed with cameras since watching an Elmo's World episode about cameras. So now she carries this thing all over the house and asks us to say "Cheese."
It has definitely been a weekend well spent...and we still have a birthday party to enjoy this afternoon.

~Melody :-)