Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charlie with Santa

This picture cracks me up. Call me a mean mommy but the expression on Charlie's face is priceless. Santa's two helpers were supposed to be helping Charlie to not cry for the photo, but instead are trying their teenage best to look a bit seductive. Why Santa is sitting in front of an open bank vault and next to a saddle, we'll never know.

The best part about this photo - we didn't have to wait in any line. I guess you can kind of tell why this Santa isn't in high demand!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Detox

Is anyone else sick of eating? After several weeks of holiday celebrations and the rich food that goes along with them, I can't stomach it anymore. Pun intended. Since we got back from Texas/Arkansas, I can only handle bland food - oatmeal, bananas, toast, etc. I also don't feel like drinking wine. That almost NEVER happens.

I may also be a tad sick. I've been so exhausted since we got home two days ago. Can't seem to sleep enough. Charlie's almost back to normal on his schedule, so I'm hopeful we'll all be back on track tomorrow.

No big plans for New Year's Eve, mainly because it's so dang hard to find a babysitter. We're going to cook some dinner, open some wine (I'm trusting I'll be back to normal by Friday) and probably watch something on TV. Boring.

I remember a few years back this kind of NYE would have been unthinkable. Not spending a night packed into a crowded space paying tons of money for bad service and mediocre food?? Actually some of them were fun. A couple were REALLY fun. But you never actually end up where you plan to be at midnight, don't you think? We'll probably be in bed asleep this year, though the inevitable neighborhood fireworks make Zoe so jumpy and she barks a lot.

Saturday we're celebrating Christmas with my in-laws in Williamsburg, as well as MIL Sue's birthday, which is today! Happy Birthday Sue! They actually came to Richmond and went to dinner at Can Can Brasserie tonight, but our babysitter dilemma extends throughout the holidays, so we couldn't join in. I'm not sure what my stomach would have said to French food anyways. Can I get the LIGHT cassoulet?? No?

Sunday we leave for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans!! Woohoo! We will have 3 nights to make up for our lame New Year's Eve and be able to sleep in to our hearts' content the next morning. It's going to be a blast. Assuming I can figure out what to pack.

I looked up the forecast tonight and it's going to be in the mid-50's while we're there. Brad replied that that's a tough temperature to pack for. Wha??? I guess it's somewhere in the no man's land of needing a coat and not needing one.

Anyways, that's what's up around here. Lots of blog posts to catch up on, including my sister's shower and our Arkansas Christmas, once I get copies of some of the pictures. Not to worry, though, we're about to order a new camera, too - yay!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Crain Family Christmas

Since we were spending Christmas in Little Rock with Brad's family this year, we celebrated a few days early with my family.

The Crain Family Christmas carries many traditions with it, and even has its own soundtrack. We had to modify things a bit, since the rest of my family would also be celebrating on the actual Christmas morning, but we all remarked how it actually did feel like Christmas was over after that. We found ourselves getting annoyed at the mall the next day when there were no after-Christmas sales to be found, forgetting that the rest of the world hadn't celebrated yet.

Christmas morning at the Crain house includes a very specific breakfast: mimosas, egg casserole and monkey bread. Brad and I ended up having this breakfast twice, cooking it again when we got to Little Rock. The rest of my family showed some self restraint and just had it once.

We held off on the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas and jewelry gift until the actual day. Same with the stockings - my mom sent mine with me. But we exchanged some gifts and had a nice Christmas dinner later in the day.

As was the case last year, every gift was Charlie's gift. He loves ripping paper. And climbing in boxes. He does not typically care what is in the box... until he realized one of his gifts was a tent! He squealed and climbed inside and had a blast playing with it the rest of the day. So did my sister's dog, Elvis.
Charlie scurried back when he realized more of 'his' gifts were being opened without him. I'm sure we would have all been exhausted if we'd had to unwrap our own presents without him.
A few hours later we took Charlie to downtown McKinney to see Santa Claus and get a picture. In retrospect, that was kind of a funny thing to do right after we opened gifts. Anyways, Charlie figured out what was going on a lot quicker this year and the tears and panic started immediately. I need to scan the pic so I can post it. It's hiiiilarious.

It ended up being a nice, warm 72 degrees that day. We sat out back in the sunshine that afternoon and I tried to remind myself it was, in fact, December. The next day was so warm I had nothing to wear - just sweaters! Since I left Richmond in a snow storm and came back to several inches of snow, my flip flops didn't make the luggage cut.

Charlie had a great time running around the back yard with the dogs, though. There was also a dog next door who had a lot to say.
The next day we went to Northpark to see the trains exhibit. Charlie has been getting more into trains and loved it. He likes to point out cars, trucks, trees and windows. And there were many in the exhibits.

After lunch at the zoo of a food court we hit up Nordstrom. Charlie was not going to sit in his stroller, no sir, and I now realize how easy it is to lose children in department stores. They slip through one rack of clothing and boom, they're gone. Between my dad and me, we could barely keep track of Charlie! He was on fire and thought it was all a very fun game.

My dad asked my mom later how I ever get any shopping done. Umm, the internet. That is probably the only reason I don't already have a story of losing my child in a mall or department store.

It was a really fun trip, full of good food and good times with my family. Charlie took quite a few dips in my mom's big bath tub. We even got to go back unexpectedly and spend one more night when mechanical difficulties in Little Rock meant we would have missed our connection to Richmond in Chicago. We rerouted and got to see my family again. Don't even get me started on the joys of flying in and out of Arkansas. What a nightmare.

I just looked through this post and realized (as usual) there are only Charlie pictures. I guess I know my family well enough that they'd rather not be on the blog in their PJ's and sans shower. I assure you, though, despite the pictures, Charlie did not celebrate Christmas alone! Or with only 2 dogs.

Oh, and just so your jeans can feel as tight as mine have been feeling, I wrote out our Monkey Bread recipe below. There are many different versions of Monkey bread (also called Gorilla bread) if you poke around online, but this is the one we've been using for years.

Crain Family Monkey Bread

Rhodes Rolls, 18 count, frozen (in the freezer section with the bread)
1 box butterscotch pudding mix (cook & serve - NOT instant)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we use pecans)
1/2 cup melted butter
Nonstick cooking spray (to grease the pan)

The night before you want to serve, grease a bundt pan with the cooking spray and layer the frozen rolls on the bottom. Sprinkle all the ingredients except the melted butter on top of the rolls. Drizzle butter over it. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool spot (inside the oven or microwave works) overnight for the rolls to rise.

In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before inverting the pan.

If you really want to go all Crain style with it, serve with mimosas and some kind of ridiculously fattening/spicy egg casserole.

Enjoy!

We're Back

Just got back in last night from a whirlwind 12 day trip for Christmas, which included:
  • Leaving in a snow storm
  • Flying to Dallas
  • Throwing my sister Megan a bridal shower
  • Celebrating Christmas with my family
  • Visiting Santa Claus and seeing the Trains at Northpark
  • Flying to Little Rock
  • Celebrating Christmas with Brad's family
  • Trying to fly home, but mechanical delays (can't even blame it on the snow) almost got us stranded in Chicago
  • Flying to Dallas instead for one more night with my family
  • Finally getting home last night at 11
Charlie is exhausted and his schedule is all sorts of haywire. He's actually still asleep right now. Trying to get us organized today and I have a bunch of posts to catch up on! Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and snow storm delays aren't weighing you down!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Surprise Snow Day

This morning when Brad got up at dark o'clock to catch his flight, I got up too and looked out the window. I'm not sure why. But does anything we do that early in the morning make sense?

Everything looked a bit... white and frozen. I thought we were having a bad freeze and rushed downstairs to tell Brad to be very careful, because he would of course not do this on his own without me telling him seven times right as he's trying to get out the door.

I nearly gave him a heart attack since he thought I was still asleep. But then I noticed it was snowing. Hard. An unforecasted snow. The news channels must have been so disappointed. A missed opportunity for hours of 'Winter Weather Event' forecasting in the hours leading up to a whopping 2 inches of snow.

I went back to bed and we woke up later to this:
Charlie was too young last winter to make much of all the snow we got. He wasn't really walking very well until May. This was his first time to stomp around in it and stick his fingers in it. He seemed to really like it until he realized his fingers were very cold and he held them up for me to fix it.
Charlie got his toy rake from the garage and started trying to rake up the snow. He's devoted to a nice, neat yard, just like his father.

Later in the morning the roads just looked a bit wet and it wasn't snowing all that hard, so we went ahead and went to music class. Charlie wore his new snowman sweater. I got him a bunch of new sweaters and the coat he's wearing at the 'trendy' children's consignment shop, Clover,this past weekend. I felt a lot better about buying a seasonal sweater he can only wear a few weeks when it was eight bucks.

After music class we went to Chick fil A for lunch so our house cleaning service could finish up. They were so nice there! We went to the new location on Parham road. They got me a high chair, brought us our food to the table, gave us free refills and different employees came by to say hi to Charlie. Now I know how Angelina Jolie feels when she goes out for fast food.

And after that we got some more playing in the snow in before nap time. A long nap. Snow + chicken lunch = exhausting.
We had a pretty quiet weekend. Brad has an upper respiratory infection or maybe even bronchitis, so he spent a lot of the weekend trying to recover.

I spent the weekend cooking and torturing Brad with Christmas movies. We watched Christmas Vacation (hysterical), White Christmas (my favorite) and Fred Claus, which was terrible. I wanted to watch the Santa Clause instead, but Brad gave me a look that said don't press your luck. I think Tim Allen is hilarious in it.

Speaking of cooking, the next time you are craving potato skins, make these pierogis instead, they are HEAVENLY. This baked ziti recipe was also quite good, couldn't tell it was relatively healthy.

Also this weekend I got my hair cut and tried that Keratin hair treatment I blogged about a while back. I got it on a special at my salon so paid less then a third of what it usually cost. I'm glad about that because I don't think I like it. The treatment softens and straightens your hair so that even if you air dry it, it looks like you flat ironed your whole head. I have really fine hair and now it's kind of plastered to my head and very flat.

I'm disappointed because my friends here who get it done have a constant "just left the salon" look. But I don't think I have the right hair for it. I'm using some shampoo with sodium chloride in it, trying to get it to loosen up some. Fortunately my hair dries in no time and doesn't require product or styling. So if I'm washing every day, at least there's that. It really doesn't need it. I could go days without washing if I wasn't trying to get rid of it. Feels very clean and shiny. Just looks blah.

Anyways. Enough vanity. Some pics below of daredevil Charlie on his tricycle. He loves it and once he figures out how to move the pedals I don't think we'll ever get him off of it.

It was actually really cold out for the picture above. That's why Brad has shorts on. Workout shorts are all-weather apparel for Brad!

All of these pictures were of course with my phone. Sigh. Brad and I are not having a meeting of the minds of the camera situation. I want some immediate gratification with a point and shoot while we take the time to figure out an investment camera. He wants an SLR and sees no point in another point and shoot since I was so frustrated with the blurry pictures our last one took. OK, that's probably a good point. I feel like I need another college degree to figure an SLR out - it kind of intimidates me. But I should probably put on my big girl panties and at least try.

This week we're just getting ready for our big Christmas trip to Dallas and Little Rock! Takes quite a bit of strategery to get Charlie and I out of town. My sister Meredith and I are throwing my sister Megan a bridal shower next Saturday too, so I'm getting ready for that. More snow headed our way Thursday - hope our flight isn't delayed! Kind of sad to miss it. Snow is still a novelty to me.

Happy Monday everyone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pictureless Post

I still haven't found my camera, which is why there are no cute holiday Charlie photos to go with this post. I am also apparently the only blog writer on the planet who managed to miss Shutterfly's offer of 50 free cards if you post your card on your blog, so I'm not posting that either. You'll just have to watch your mailbox in heated anticipation. Since I haven't had a camera in over a month, you can probably guess you've already seen the photos!

Also, I sliced my finger open tonight, opening a FedEx box which didn't technically belong to me, so every word of this post kind of hurts. Or at least any word containing a D, C or E. But I am so devoted to you, blog readers (both of you) that I'll write this anyways.

The Fed Ex box that isn't technically mine: a package for the previous owners of our house from some hospital system. I've called and let the hospital know, but they keep showing up. I have to open it to get the number of who to call this year. Paring knife, meet middle finger.

I've been so busy lately, trying to get all of our Christmas shopping done since Brad has had to work a lot of overtime lately. I've done most of it online and I'm so optimistic that everything that arrives will completely meet my expectations and be the perfect gift. Delusions such as this are probably the only aspect of the holidays that aren't fattening.

I've also been working quite a bit lately. My hopefully soon to be former department loves to stack deadlines for year end, when nobody feels like working and a lot of people go ahead and take off for the rest of the year.

Yes, I'm still working part time from home during Charlie's naps and at night. It was supposed to be just a couple of months and now it's until year end and possibly longer. The money's been nice but it does cut in on the time I need to perfect the domestic arts. Actually it's just harder to get down time in, with taking care of Charlie and Brad out of town every week, but I do manage.

We just made plans to go to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans in early January! We're going with some friends and making a long weekend of it. Brad and I haven't had much time alone together in several months, so I'm really looking forward to it. Stay up late and sleep in for a few days - yippee! Charlie's going to go stay in Williamsburg and will probably talk non-stop while we're gone! And eat. And hassle their dog.

Charlie's become a little parrot lately. He repeats everything he hears and it's amazing to watch him pick up words so quickly. He also has this little demon voice he uses when something isn't going his way. He dropped his teddy grahams today and Ringo started eating them and Charlie said this growly NOOOOOOOOOO! Yeah, Ringo gave that about a half second of attention before he continued eating.

My parents sent Charlie a tricycle for Christmas and since he doesn't get the whole Christmas morning thing yet, we went ahead and gave it to him. He can't really move the pedals, but loves to sit on it or be pushed on it.

When we first gave it to him, he got so ticked at Brad whenever he would stop pushing him. They finally went out to the street to ride on it and Charlie took a spill and got a bump on his noggin. He finished crying and came back inside, played around on it and got a bump on the other side.

Doesn't matter, though - he LOVES this tricycle. It's his new perch to watch his favorite TV show, Zoboomafoo, on. He's gotten quite a bit of Zoboomafoo lately since I'm unsure what to do with him with it being so cold all the time. And motivation to leave the house all bundled up and mess with the car seat and wait for the car to warm up, etc., etc. - very low.

So yeah, that's what's going on around here. If you have this month's Cooking Light, I'm going to try the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas, the Fontina Polenta with Wild Mushrooms and the Bacon Pirogi thingy bopper. All mostly vegetarian-like. Brad will be thrilled. I better roast a chicken or something so he doesn't get the shakes.

Hoping to get a new camera soon. Brad wants a fancy pants one that will probably take a lifetime for me to figure out. I may get a cheapie that can take a beating on a walk or at the park with Charlie. But I need something quick! If you see Santa, let him know.

Oh and is it just my computer or is Cutest Blog on the Block not working for anyone? Very annoyed my cute santa blog background has gone missing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You Must Cook This

The most perfect oatmeal I have ever tasted. Add a little brown sugar, some slice banana. Yum Yum Yum.

Seafood lasagna from Cooking Light that will make you cry. It is dinner party good.

I got a subscription to Cooking Light from my friends for my 30th birthday (were they calling me fat???) and I used it some back then, but saved all the issues and now I'm obsessed with it. I made several things while my sister was here and they were all soooo good! Time to re-subscribe.

Below are some links to some of the other things that were very good, but not necessarily 'make you cry' good, like the lasagna:




Fish tacos with lime-cilantro crema (Charlie loved the pinto bean salad that goes with this for those of you with little kiddos)

Oh and you're not missing anything - the oatmeal has nothing to do with the rest of this Cooking Light-type post. It's just really good.

OK, seriously, I really need to get back to work. Deadlines and all that.

Um, OK....

Charlie is so taken with his Aunt Meredith that he has started pointing to pictures of me around the house and saying MIMI! Tonight it was my bridal portrait.

He's also started crying out Zoe's name desperately every time we pass the drawing we have of her that hangs in the upstairs hallway. Makes for a very tiring trip to the nursery, as he lurches towards the pictures. There's one of Ringo, too, but he's so last week.

And yes, I realize the oddest thing about the above statement is that we have portraits of our dogs. They were a gift, ok?? From our realtor in Maryland, who is particularly dog obsessed. She also nicknamed Zoe 'The Princess."

Not much else going on. Charlie got new shoes in the mail today. Pediped had a half-off weekend sale so I bought him two pairs. He thinks he's pretty hot stuff in them. Ran all over the backyard chasing the poodles in his pajamas and new shoes.

I think my camera is really, truly gone. Brad has some Best Buy credit and said he'd get me another. Until then I'm going to try and remember how to use my old one. I just don't have enough brains left to be responsible for a credit-card sized camera I suppose.

That's all. I have to go back to work now. Bleck.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Uh Oh

I think Charlie might have chipped one of his front teeth. It's not a huge chip. And it really shouldn't be a huge surprise. He falls down all the time. But one of his front two teeth is kind of uneven and it has me wondering. Charlie must have a high pain tolerance. I don't recall any tears after any of his recent falls.

Maybe it's from the apples he now insists on eating whole. Big boys don't have their mommies slice their apples after all. Or maybe he bit a piece of corn in a tortilla chip. During the Arkansas game, when I was distracted making dinner, Meredith was on my computer and Brad was watching the game, Charlie managed to get the chips and do this:
The poodles were so pleased.

My sister left yesterday around lunch time and Charlie got sad when she left. There were even some tears! He sat on the front step, kind of amazed that she was actually leaving, saying BYE BYE Mimi! BYE BYE! Then when the car pulled out of the driveway, he got upset. Brad had to carry him back in the house.
Today has been so quiet around here with Meredith and Brad both gone. Charlie's been asking for both of them quite a bit and must have brought up Mimi at least 10 times after getting up from his nap.

He's also been doing this thing she taught him, to hold his hands out on either side of him and ask where something went. Where did it go? I've been asked that about 2 dozen times today. I'm not even sure what or who he's looking for most of the time!

After she left I launched into Christmas decorating mode. We are out of town for the holiday, but coming back on the 26th for the week and I want everything to be decorated. I love decorating this house at Christmas, makes it feel so cozy. People in Richmond put little lights that look like candles in their windows at Christmas. Looks so pretty from the street.

We decorated our fake tree and I went and picked up greenery for the mantel and wreaths for the doors. I also bought and potted a couple of small poinsettias for the table and three other houseplants for different parts of the house.

The signs at the nursery said that are supposed to help clean the air of toxins and are they are next to impossible to kill. One is a snake plant and I can't remember the names of the other two. Chinese Evergreen maybe? It's a trial run - if I don't kill them, I may branch out to other houseplants.

Other than my exciting new houseplants, it's back to the routine this week. I have book club on Wednesday. We read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It was somewhat interesting and a quick and easy read.

When Meredith arrived she brought me Never Let Me Go, which I really enjoyed. Also a fairly quick read, but one that you kind of chew on for a few days afterwards. I'll probably try to rent the movie once it comes out on DVD.

Next up for me is The Glass Castle, which I forgot I had in my book boxes. We are so refined - not bookcases - cardboard boxes full of books in the attic. I really need to rectify that. Maybe if Brad wins his fantasy football league I'll get a bookcase. I typically get a cut from him when he places in exchange for tolerating him all season.

We're going to attempt to get a babysitter this weekend and maybe catch a movie. I want to take Brad to the Cinebistro that just opened near our house. I met my friend Karen there last week to see Harry Potter and we had a great time! The chairs are huge, comfy leather rockers and I had a glass of wine and we ordered some appetizers. Such a lovely way to watch a movie.

Harry Potter was awesome - the movies just get better and better. I think I felt that way about the books too. It's funny to think of them being children's movies at this point. The story is so dark by the end of the series that the film is kind of haunting and sad. I can't wait to see the next one and what they do with the very last scene.

So that's it for us around here. Time to get cracking on some online Christmas shopping!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gobble Gobble



Happy Thanksgiving! Well, a little late. Ours was rather... memorable! As most events that involve Charlie end up being. It was also really busy, a lot of fun and we all ate too much. So, your typical American holiday.

We drove to see my in-laws in Williamsburg for the day, with my sister Meredith entertaining Charlie in the backseat. Starbucks was in order before we hit the road. Charlie seemed to really enjoy his. Fuel for the rest of the day.
Charlie spent most of the time before dinner playing out back. My father-in-law was grilling oysters (side note: YUM) and their dog Bennett was working on a peanut butter container. There were also leaves. So many leaves. And a hill, perfect for running down as fast as your 21 month old legs will carry you.
It was really cute watching Charlie run up and down the hill and roll around in the leaves. Right up to the point where he was so overexerted he threw up all over himself. Twice.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to pack extra pants. Unfortunately I didn't realize they were too big. They kept falling down over his little diapered butt and he looked like a toddler gangster.

Good news for Charlie: dogs don't care if you smell or your pants are too big.

It was so pretty outside and I had my sister's camera, so I was originally determined to get this year's Christmas card photo. Even before throwing up, though, Charlie didn't want to cooperate.

We also tried to get a picture of Charlie with Clare for their holiday card, but he wasn't having it. This is the closest we got. In hindsight we should have just posed the two them around the dog - Charlie might have cooperated then.
Right after Thanksgiving dinner Charlie went down for a nap and slept for a good 3 hours. I think it was all the rice dressing he ate - it was yummy. When he got up he was still tired and grouchy so we decided to get on the road and head home.

On the way home he was just inconsolable, so I suggested we pull over and get him a milkshake and grilled cheese at Sonic. If I hadn't been so stuffed from dinner I probably would have wanted some Sonic myself. I miss Sonic.

Anyways, that seemed to do the trick and a little while later we heard Charlie slurping the dregs of his milkshake. He played with the cup for a while and it was dark so Brad, Meredith and I just chatted for a while.

All of the sudden Charlie shouted YUCK! And Meredith replied "Oh my gosh!" .... Because she had just gotten pelted with Charlie's milkshake covered Ugg boot. Somehow he had gotten the shoe or his foot in the cup and the rest of the milkshake was soon all over the backseat.

That was a fun final 20 minutes home. When we got back to the house it was chaos trying to get everything cleaned up and Charlie in the bath. I asked Meredith to watch Charlie in the tub while I got the car seat cover in the wash. When I came back upstairs, she and Charlie were in the nursery and she had a really alarmed look on her face.

Apparently, on her watch, Charlie had a big, um, accident in the tub. I will never forget that panicked look on her face. Hilarious!

I would really like to forget, however, the state of the bathtub.

By that point in the evening, we were all really ready for Charlie to go to bed. Which he did, right before kickoff. :)

Meredith promised Charlie this morning to retell this story many times in his lifetime. In response, Charlie dumped about 50 crayons on the floor. Meredith is here until Sunday, during which time Charlie plans to keep impressing her with his feats of strength. Something tells me she's going to want a long nap when she gets home!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OK Seriously, WHERE is my camera?

I'm starting to get really nervous I've actually lost my camera. It's making me panicky because every time Charlie does something cute, I think to myself EGAD, this isn't being documented!!! I'm very photo-high-strung these days, realizing how quickly the phases of babyhood/toddlerhood pass and knowing how bad I am at remembering to take pictures.

So all I have to offer are a bunch of lousy iPhone pictures, which were a lot better in quality when Charlie didn't move so much or so quickly. I'm about to start using my really old camera just to have something. At least it's digital.

Behold, fall color:

And here's Charlie watching the tae kwon do segment on Yo Gabba Gabba. I've already forgotten the little girl's name that does the segment, but Charlie was quite taken with her for a time.
Unfortunately for this Yo Gabba Gabba chick, Charlie has a new crush: my friend Leslie's daughter Tori. She's 12. Charlie likes older women. He watches her every move and follows her around like a devoted little puppy. She taught him how to say Zoe's name (Row-Ree) and now he thinks he's pretty hot stuff.

It's been a pretty typical week for us - gym class, music class, errands, walks around the block, a visit to the park. Brad gets home tomorrow and will be home until the Monday after Thanksgiving. He doesn't know it yet, but we're going to decorate the house for Christmas next weekend while my sister's here. His favorite part of any year. Forced family fun anyone??

Not much going on this weekend. I have a cough and really hope it goes away, as I have a very important Thanksgiving preemptive exercise strike planned for Saturday and Sunday. Spin class both days and Awesome Abs taught by the teacher whose ab exercises I can actually do (read: they're easy). And then the same again next weekend. Just beat the holiday cheer right out of myself!

I'm also starting to get some Christmas shopping done - though what would the holidays be without last minute gift-panic? We'll be in Dallas and Little Rock for Christmas this year. I'm glad Charlie is too young to realize what's going on so we can keep the gift thing simple and not have to ship everything all around. For him, it's just another day, albeit a day with a much cuter outfit on and more pictures than usual.

Ahhhh pictures... reminds me I can't find my camera!

Monday, November 15, 2010

What Happened to Me??

I lost my blog mojo there for a while. I'm not even sure it's back but for a while I just haven't felt like writing anything. Is that normal?

I also can't find my camera (sob) so I don't have any new pictures of Charlie to post! I've been trying to get some video of him because his talking is hilarious, but he clams up the minute I turn my Flip on.

I wish I had a bunch of exciting things that have been keeping me busy but really I've just been taking care of Charlie and continuing to work part time. Between that and holding the house together while Brad is out of town, I am low on time. And energy. I add one thing to the mix and I have to drop something else.

For instance, I have been putting effort into being a more diligent book club member and actually, you know, reading the book. This month's selection is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It was interesting an easy read. But it didn't change my life or anything. If you're looking for a decent page turner, go read it.

I'm hoping next month we read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Looks so interesting. I also want to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, that the movie is based on. I love that kind of futuristic Handmaid's Tale type stuff. I always have more things to read then I have time for.

Can you believe it's almost Thanksgiving? My sister Meredith is coming down from NYC next Wednesday to visit for it! I'm so excited! I know Charlie is going to be thrilled to see her. He loves Aunt Mimi.

For Thanksgiving proper we are going down for the day to Williamsburg to have dinner with my in-laws. Charlie's already working on his power eating so he can impress everyone with how much he can pack away.

I'm making a Crain family tradition to take with us for Thanksgiving dinner: Blueberry Banana Cream pie. Yummm. The recipe makes 2 pies and I will go ahead and predict that Meredith and I will eat the second one directly out of the pie plate while watching some really bad television at some point during the weekend. Because that's what Thanksgiving is about: tradition.

Also to occur around Thanksgiving: the new Harry Potter movie! I'll be viewing it with my traditional date, Karen, who loved the books and tries to love the movies as much as I do. We both love butter on our popcorn too.

And finally, in exciting news, our good friends and former neighbors, Jason and Kristen, just had their baby boy over in London! Welcome Baby Charlie! Now, yes, I do realize our sons have the same names. But then, so did our grandfathers. :) It's a good name!

I hope we can go over and visit them and meet the new baby next spring or summer. I sure do miss the Fosters. The USA just isn't the same without them - too much wine and not enough sarcasm around here with them gone!

Ok, maybe I got a little mojo back just writing something. I've GOT to find my camera, though. Has anyone seen it?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween

Charlie seemed to have a fun Halloween night, but it went by so quickly! We left the house around 5:15 and were home getting him wound down for bed by 7:15. Someone needs to tell Charlie it's a marathon, not a sprint. Our neighbors dropped by for a visit around 8:30 so we didn't feel too lame sitting at home by 8. It was a whirlwind holiday before Charlie got pooped out.
So as you can see, I managed to get Charlie to wear the monkey hat long enough to get some photos. I was a picture snapping fool, trying to get a money shot before he got impatient with the hat. Luckily he was too distracted watching his da-da blow leaves off the driveway to notice he was wearing a hat he hated. After he had this realization, the monkey hat experience was over for the night.

Just for fun, I put some bright orange monkey socks from Crazy 8 on him with his costume. I love crazy socks. We should do more crazy socks. I'm going to put that on my to do list.
Our neighbors' party was incredible - I've decided she is Martha Stewart's secret niece. There was delicious chili in cute Halloween bowls, apple brandy cider, homemade mac and cheese, candles, tables and chairs set out, a flower arrangement of hydrangeas from her own yard... it was impressive. Everyone had a really nice time.
Our neighbor's son, Owen, was also a monkey and the two monkeys sat next to each other for dinner. Owen ate a good dinner and Charlie sucked on a dum dum in between taking bites of his hot dog. Ugh, so nasty.
After dinner we headed out to trick or treat. The neighborhood was covered in kids running around. A lot of our neighbors decorate and set up tables outside of their houses with candy. It's a nice way to walk around and meet people.

It was a crisp night, but not uncomfortably cold - no coats needed, but chilly enough not to get hot in the costumes. Fire pits were burning every few houses and there was a nice smell of firewood in the air.

Charlie really got into the trick or treating - I think from watching the "older" kids. The ones in our group were all of 4. But he was running around like a crazy man and tearing for the front door of whatever house we were in front of. He would up and drop his candy bag periodically and run off without it, so we started taking it away from him after he trick or treated - that really ticked him off.

He's too young to completely get the trick or treat concept, though. Brad took him up to the doors of most houses but I took him up once.... and he walked right into this man's house and started poking around. Checked out his kitchen, his den... eventually he was done and came back out. Fortunately this neighbor found it funny.

By the time we reached the end of the street and another party, it was clear Charlie had had enough. There were lots of fire pits out up and down the street and he was just staring at one, kind of dazed. Time to head back and go to bed.
It was a really nice Halloween as Halloweens go. I haven't lived anywhere that does up Halloween like this since I was kid in Austin and it brought back a lot of fun memories of running around with my friends, trick or treating. I hope Charlie has something like this every year.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Pre-Party

Happy Halloween Weekend! One of my friends was asking when Halloween became a week long holiday. My answer: the minute you gave birth.

We ended up skipping our first Halloween event, the candy walk at work, because we had so much going on with Ringo getting sick. Charlie and I attended our play group's Halloween party on Friday and it was fun.

I took the very best chocolate chip cookies ever, from the Williams Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook that MIL Sue gave me for my birthday. I also took juice boxes for the kids, which I found out upon arrival the hostess didn't approve of. Sigh. Her very virtuous family only drinks water. There were many fellow heathens there though - there were no leftover boxes at the end of the party.

The main attraction was the resident 3 year old's electric car in the backyard that actually moved when you hit the accelerator. It also backed up. I'm still amazed nobody got hurt. The 2 year old set just doesn't understand the instruction not to go when another kid is standing right in front of the car.
Earlier in the week we went to Maymont, which is a park and psuedo-zoo. They have eagles, owls, foxes, goats, etc. The wild animals all have injuries that prevent them from being released back into the wild.

Charlie enthusiastically pointed at anything with four legs and shouted DOG! If the animal was clearly not a "dog", such as the owl, he yelled CAT! I have such high hopes for my naturalist son, but we obviously need a few more visits to Maymont.

What's funny is how sure he is of himself when he yells out about an animal. If I correct him, he looks at me skeptically.
Ringo got to come back home on Friday after we payed the staggering and gut wrenching vet bill. I mean, I love the dog, but MERCY. He's on a limited soft and low fat diet for the next month. That's been a real picnic to enforce since Zoe wants Ringo's food and he wants his old dry food that's out for Zoe and they both want whatever Charlie has or is on the counter. It's a losing battle.
Charlie's napping right now and I hope getting very well rested for some major party hopping and trick or treating. We now have four neighborhood parties to stop by and trick or treating.... if anyone is home. I'm probably just going to leave a bucket of candy out on the front porch. Once the first batch of teenagers comes by, it'll be gone.

I have to admit, I'm a bit of a Halloween scrooge. I don't like dressing up, we haven't carved a pumpkin in years and I rarely go out around Halloween. Tonight's outfit is about all I'm capable of - it's orange and black and I think I have an old witch's hat from a few years ago. I'm hoping to make up for it by eating way too much candy. :)

Will post some costume pics of Charlie in a little while - but he refuses to wear the hat and I have my doubts he will actually hold the banana, so he might not be a terribly convincing monkey!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sick Puppy

Poor Ringo is really sick and has to stay at the vet for a few days. He started vomiting Sunday night and has been really lethargic so this morning I took him in. He has a really high fever and was drooling a lot and has abdominal pain. The vet thinks he has pancreatitis.

When they did x-rays they didn't see anything foreign in his digestive track, which didn't surprise me because Ringo doesn't ever really eat non-food. But his poor intestines are all filled with gas and indicate he's in a lot of pain. They're going to give him an IV with fluids, pain meds and anti-nausea medicine.

They'll take more x-rays in the morning and make sure the gas is leaving his system. If it's not than something else is probably wrong. Hopefully, though, things will look improved and then he should be able to come home on Friday or Saturday.

I'm sitting here feeling so guilty. Pre-baby Kara would have had Ringo in the vet's office by Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning at the latest. Instead, I just haven't been paying close attention and he's been in all this pain. Poor Bobo. He has such a distracted, deadbeat mother.

I'm not sure if I should go visit him in the vet's office because I don't want to get him excited that he's coming home and then have to leave him again. He will be drugged up, too, and hopefully sleep a lot until Friday. At the same time, I know the vet's office scares him and I want to go comfort him. I need to give this some more thought.

Anyways, that's what's going on here today.

Monday, October 25, 2010

October Weekend


It was a gorgeous fall weekend. The leaves are changing and it feels great to be outside. Don't even think about leaving Charlie outside for a second though - he is FAST. He will be into something you didn't even consider before you can say "where did I leave my diet coke?".

Favorites include turning on the hose and getting water everywhere and digging through the pile of rocks behind the garage where the chipmunks live. The poodles spend hours out there trying to catch one. I'm just waiting for the day when we get to see a hawk swoop down and get one. And by "one" I mean a chipmunk, not a poodle.
Charlie's been saying so many funny things lately. He likes to knock things over and then slap his cheeks with his hands (Home Alone style) and dramatically say "OH NOOOO!!!". As in, Did you guys just SEE this huge accidental crisis that I of course have nothing to do with???

One notable OH NOOOO!: my neighbor and her mother in law dropped by and Charlie took the opportunity to unroll the rest of the toilet paper and put it in the toilet. And then get some out. And put some back in. Repeat that until discovered by Mommy. And the visitors. Mortifying!! And what did he say when discovered?? OH NOOOO!!!

When Charlie wakes up in the morning he now has an order of things he asks for: whichever parent doesn't come get him, then Bobo, then SHOW. Show is one of his two favorite TV programs: Yo Gabba Gabba and Zoboomafoo. He can manipulate any topic of conversation into discussing SHOW. Poor Zoe continues to get the shaft and is not requested in the morning. Or ever.

Charlie's favorite book right now is called Dogs and is full of pictures of dogs. He points out each one individually and says dog, like it's a totally new discovery. There are two pictures of a white standard poodle named Pascal in there that Charlie is certain is Bobo. Bobo is famous.
We finally said good bye to Elvis this weekend. He was sold to Carmax. It took us almost a year to get rid of him. We had all these grand plans of selling him for more money on Craig's list. Unfortunately, he kept breaking, as cars with over 100K miles tend to do if you don't keep up with the maintenance.

The guy at Carmax told us after a car reaches a certain age, it isn't even sold by them. They send it to auction. I was happy with how much we got; Brad looked displeased, like if it was this easy, we were for sure getting ripped off. After a year, I didn't care. Rip me off. Just get this car off my driveway. Miss you Elvis!!!
We went to see the Social Network this weekend. It was so enjoyable I really didn't care how true it was. I knew what Mark Zuckerberg looked like obviously, but decided to look up the other major characters in real life.

I discovered that whoever did the casting was pretty generous to just about everyone. And that's nice. I'd like to think if a movie was ever made about me, they'd be just as generous. It's a good policy.
Obviously this coming weekend is Halloween. I haven't paid much attention to Halloween for the past decade or two, but when you have a small child, there is no missing it. There are festivals and pumpkin picking and "Trunk or Treat" and parties. It's insane.

I've been working with Charlie to leave his monkey costume headpiece on his head, but have been failing miserably. He won't even leave it on long enough for me to get a picture. We have the candy walk at work and our play group's Halloween party as dry runs before the big day Sunday. I'm sure we could drum up another excuse to costume it up on Saturday.

On Halloween proper our neighbors are hosting a pre-trick or treat party before we all walk the neighborhood. This is a pretty fun place to live, especially on Halloween. Lots of candy for the kids and cocktails for the parents!

Well I'd better get some rest. Who knows what Charlie's got planned for tomorrow....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Miami Girls Weekend

We had sooooo much fun in Miami. It is really beautiful there. Have you been? It was a lot more tropical then I was expecting - white sand, blue water, beautiful weather. We stayed in South Beach and were able to walk or take a short cab ride to just about everything we wanted to do. It was the perfect getaway.
I'm really lucky because my four best friends from college and I still get together for girls' weekends, more then 15 years after we first met. We talked a lot this weekend about past weekends and the places we've been, when the first trip was, etc. I think they started with each of our respective bachelorette parties and moved on to almost annual visits once we were scattered across the country.

It's gotten harder since babies came along, though, and this was our first trip in several years. Cookie has even moved to Switzerland and back since we all saw each other! So we were really excited to all get together and have some fun! And fun was had. Shenanigans. Ballyhoo. Etc. Etc. Mostly at a club called Mangos.
We ate awesome food (chorizo-stuffed fried olives anyone?), laid on the beach, shopped, went dancing and laughed our heads off. That was the best part - my cheeks hurt from all the smiling. Years of inside jokes rehashed and a few new quotes for the quote book.
After a lot of confusion trying to book a condo, we ended up at the Bentley hotel South Beach. Ocean view, right in the middle of everything and had the required 2 bathrooms. 5 girls in one room means a lot of getting ready at night.

And once you're ready, Megan will accessorize you. I realized this trip I either need to move near Megan or get some more belts. I'm presently running a belt deficit.

There was also a sweet roof top pool and a beach club on the beach that served ridiculously strong overpriced rum runners to your beach chairs. I think I've learned a lesson about ordering anything with a rum floater too early in the afternoon. That lesson is: definitely do it!
We were laughing throughout the weekend about how our trips have changed over the years. We don't have quite the stamina to party like we used to, though we had a very respectable showing Saturday night if I do say so myself! No matter how the trips evolve over the years, it will always mean so much to spend time with these friends who have known me so well for so many years.

We're already planning our next girls weekend for April 2011 in the Texas Hill Country. I miss these girls so much already that I can't wait for it to get here! Love you ladies and thank you again for a wonderful trip!