Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Charlie!

Our sweet baby boy turned two this weekend! And he seemed to have a wonderful time. So much fun that he is still sleeping it off. Though it is grey and rainy outside right now - prime napping weather - so can you blame him?

My sister Meredith came down from New York to celebrate with us and it was so much fun having her here. She loves to play with Charlie and have little conversations with him. He calls her Mimi. She was also a huge help with the party and dinner that night and took lots of photos. At the last minute she decided to stay until Monday morning so we could stay up and watch the Oscars together. We ordered pizza, drank wine and judged the celebs. Good times.

Saturday morning was Charlie's birthday party at the Children's museum. He had so much fun there. We had cupcakes and Chick fil A chicken biscuits and juice boxes. The kids rode the train, played with the parachute and enjoyed the museum.
Charlie even rode the train by himself with his very good friend Ben. They talked and waved from their train car - it was so cute!
Brad tried out his new camera while we were there and a few of the pictures turned out, which I need to get on my computer and load on the blog. He's still learning and I realized I have a lot to learn before I can use it. I think he had fun shooting pictures of all the kids, though. Moving targets! A challenge!

My mother-in-law, Sue, made the invitations, goodie bags and cupcake toppers in a train theme and they were soooooo cute. I'm so lucky to have her - I could have never pulled off anything nearly as cute if left to my own devices.
After the party, we headed home for a nap and then Papa, Didi and Aunt Clare over for dinner that night. They drove in from Williamsburg and Charlottesville to be here for it, which was so nice. Charlie was excited to see them and even told his Aunt Clare 'Love You!' when she was leaving! I've only heard him say that once before, to Brad when I prompted him.

We had this incredible spinach artichoke dip from Cooking Light (SO GOOD), and the seafood lasagna I've posted before, which didn't turn out as well as the first time I made it. Maybe because I made it the day before? It was a tad runny. And then the Barefoot Contessa's coconut cupcakes - there is nothing Cooking Light about those.

We had a really great time! Charlie opened his gifts and even blew out his two candles on his cupcake when we sang to him! I guess he figured it out since the party in the morning where he just kind of stared at the cupcake, kind of confused. Charlie got a lot of neat gifts - trucks and books and cars to play with. And a Mr. Potato Head from Aunt Mimi, which he loves! My sister Megan sent personalized placemats with family pictures on them - so cute!

Sunday morning, Charlie's actual birthday, we got up and went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast so we could have Charlie's favorite food - pancakes! He ate a TON of them. They messed up his order and brought him pecan pancakes, but he either didn't notice or liked them because he dug in and told his daddy No No N0 don't pull his plate away because he's not done yet.
A little while after breakfast, Charlie was ready to go to bed - just too tired from all the action the day before. He took a long nap and then woke up and played with Mimi and had pizza for dinner - another favorite food. I gave him a leftover cupcake for dessert and he made a huge mess eating it. Mimi told him at one point that she was going to take his cupcake and eat it and he said NO NO Mimi, is MINE! Let the 2 year old behavior begin!

Overall, it was a great weekend and so busy that I couldn't really get all sniffly that he's reached the age of two. I think despite its bad reputation, two is going to be a really fun age. We are so blessed to have such a loving, sweet, fun little boy! Happy Birthday Charlie!

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Little Munchkin

I can't believe he's almost two. I thought the second birthday would be easier?!?! Nobody told me it would be bittersweet, too. Each month it seems like a bit of the baby departs and a little boy arrives. It would probably be sad if it wasn't so much fun. Charlie is such a hoot and the more he can talk, the more funny things come out of his mouth. He's still talking constantly - it's just that more of it is understandable now.

I guess he's used to getting praised for naming things because he's started pointing out trees and cars and birds and other things to distract me when I catch him doing something we both know he should not be doing. I may be about to flush my toy down the toilet but LOOK MOM a TREE!!

His other new favorite game is crawling up into our bed and pulling the covers up and pretending to go night-night. This is especially fun when one of the dogs is on the bed. Going night-night is hilarious.

He also loves putting on the sombrero and running around, but the outfit only works if he has some sunglasses on too. Preferably upside down. If you want to upset Charlie, try to turn the sunglasses right side up. Paws off the shades mom. I did eventually get them away from him long enough to pull the sticker off one of the lens.

We're getting ready for Charlie's birthday next weekend. My sister Meredith and possibly her boyfriend Lucas are coming down from NYC. We're having a party for Charlie's little friends (aka, our friends' kids) at the Children's Museum of Richmond. Brad's dad and stepmom are coming for dinner that night.

So much to do to get ready! Must plan and shop and cook and order and then run around like a crazy person for the things I still managed to forget. It does help keep my mind off the fact that my teeny tiny baby is turning two, which is just wrong. He's a baby! Babies aren't two!

The party has a train theme. Not Thomas necessarily, though we do admire his work quite a bit. Just choo choos in general. I'm about to order some wooden trains and things off Etsy. For some reason I only remember Etsy around Charlie's birthday. The last things I ordered were for his first birthday. I found him a cute little t-shirt that will read Choo Choo, Charlie's 2. Can't wait for that to arrive.

I ordered Charlie a bunch of gifts off of Amazon and then, because he doesn't really understand the concept anyways, gave them to him the minute they arrived in the mail. Even though I sent Brad the online receipt so he could see what we got Charlie, he didn't look at it and was instead shocked at all the boxes when he got home Friday.

I figure we stiffed the kid for Christmas because we were traveling, time to make up for it. As the one who stays home with him, I have a very vested interest in keeping Charlie entertained during the day!

So far the favorite gift is the shopping cart.... Ringo doesn't really appreciate when his squeaky toys get carted around in it, though.
We played outside a lot this week after we got home from Dallas. The weather here was amazingly beautiful! Charlie didn't want to come in from the backyard for his nap or after it got dark. I couldn't blame him. The poodles got their first major exercise in quite some time.

This weekend we had a birthday party for my friend Karen's son, who was turning 1. They have a great house for entertaining - both adults and kids. A big patio and play set in the backyard and a playroom full of toys. Charlie didn't want to leave and took an awesome long nap when we got home. It was a great party, we all had so much fun. That baby packed away his cupcake - I was impressed. He and Charlie are going to get along juuuuust fine! They will bond over their love of frosting.

Other than that we took it easy. Watched the movie Salt, which was enjoyable and totally set up for a sequel or 4. I do not understand how anyone that emaciated could perform stunts like that, but that's just me. We also watched the final episode of Lost. I've been chewing on that one for the past day. What a fascinating ending.

And then after 2 rough nights of coughing, Brad had to go to the doctor this morning - bronchitis. Travel + asthma + allergies = frequent respiratory infections the past few months. He's on meds now and hopefully on the mend. He's been working insane hours the past few weeks, but that will hopefully let up a bit towards the beginning of March.

Brad spent a lot of the weekend reading the instructions and playing with... his NEW CAMERA! It's an SLR so I'd say the photo quality on Bad Poodles is about to improve. Though I think it can only go up considering all the iPhone photos I post on here. I've just about had it with my pocket camera and it's fuzzy photos. Charlie does not stay still enough for regular camera technology. My iPhone actually takes better, though still fuzzy, shots.
Speaking of my iPhone, if you and I play Words With Friends and you're waiting on a move from me, well, it's because that app is so buggy and is locked up on my phone. I have even reinstalled it and it still won't work. I have a request in to the support team, but given how "support team requests" typically work out for me in my workplace, I'm not holding my breath. I'm having WWF withdrawals, sniff sniff.

This week we're just getting ready for the party weekend! Brad is taking a later flight out so we'll see him in the morning, which is a treat. I also have six (!) books sitting on my nightstand that I need to tackle, they are as follows:
I'm also in the very painful process of figuring out how to recover my dining room chairs. So far the chairs are winning. I'll do another post about that.

Oh - and we finally put our Christmas tree up in the attic today. Ha!

Well, this turned out to be about a lot more than the Munch! But that's about it. Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Megan's Bridal Shower

I realized after I posted the bachelorette pictures that I never posted pics from Megan's bridal shower! My sister Meredith and I threw her a shower the week before Christmas at my very good friend Kristy's very cute house. The cuteness of her house was a hot topic of conversation at the shower.

I mean, how pretty is her living room? Made me want to plop down with some egg nog and belt out a Christmas carol or two. But I thought that might embarrass Megan.
As an FYI, I got the steroided-out poinsettias at Home Depot. They had unusual colors, too. Take note for next year. Or I guess 10 months from now.

We had a whopping 30 ladies attend the shower! While this translated into a majority of finger sandwiches being consumed (here and here), we only got halfway through the double decker red velvet bundt cake I got from Nothing Bundt Cakes. I guess everyone was trying to be well behaved before Christmas. It was delicious.
I promised this recipe to a bunch of people back when I should have posted this blog entry, so FINALLY here is the recipe for the Cranberry Champagne Punch. It was pretty tasty and also quite popular with my mom's bunko group last month. I can't say I really followed the proportions to a T, since you need a very large punch bowl, so I did half recipes. Still it was good.

Megan got all sorts of wonderful gifts and I got to see many of her sweet friends again. Afterwards we were all pretty pooped, had to get out of our shoes, but ate that bundt cake for about 3 more days! They're a franchise - you should try it.

Ok, I should be all caught up on wedding stuff by now. Next stop is the actual wedding weekend, which is in just a few weeks!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Megan's Bachelorette Weekend

We went to Dallas this past weekend to throw Megan a bachelorette party before she gets married - her last weekend as a single lady! Well, except for the six other weekends before she gets married. But you get the point.

Meredith and I were planning most of the party and I am happy and relieved to announce it was all a success, despite planning from out of town and having almost no idea what we were doing. It's been more than 6 years since I've lived in Dallas and bachelorette parties were quite different in my day. That statement makes me feel almost as old as going out with a bunch of 26/27 year olds until 2am did.

Charlie came along with me so he could spend the weekend with Nana and Paw Paw. Brad stayed in town until Wednesday so he could brave the flight with me and it was our most painful yet! It was AWFUL! The flight back was a bit better, but I was doing it alone, so almost as exhausting. I'm just going to stay in denial that we are flying again in a few weeks for the wedding.

Brad left Friday for the bachelor party in New Orleans and we went to Megan's house for dinner and to spend the night. We brought Charlie and my mom took him home that night for the rest of the weekend. It was so cute - he finally started saying Megan's name! He calls her "Meggie" but it sounds a bit like "Monkey."

Megan and I were debating something about the lasagna in the oven and I could hear Charlie saying something over and over again as he stood by us and by the 5th or 6th time realized he was calling Megan by her name! So exciting! He didn't want her to talk about lasagna, he wanted her to pay attention to him! We've been working on that one for a while. He's had Bruce's name down pat since Christmas.

After some Guitar Hero and dinner, Charlie headed home with my mom. It is always so hard to say bye to him. Especially when he's being so stinking cute.
Saturday morning we got up and had brunch in the courtyard at Breadwinners. Yum! We went by the bridal shop to pick up the bridesmaid and junior bridesmaid dresses. And then we went to a psychic! You know, just for fun, except 4 of us got readings and she hit the nail on the head on quite a few topics so we all left a little creeped out.

I liked my reading, it was quite reassuring! I got a tarot card reading and a palm reading. I kind of think of the experience as similar to gambling - you spend the money for the entertainment value. And entertaining it was. We discussed it the rest of the weekend1

After some down time back at Megan's house, it was time to check in to the Hotel Zaza. There were six of us and we had a suite with an extra room. I wasn't prepared for how awesome it was going to be - it was HUGE! Dining room, living room, kitchen, 2.5 baths, big balcony. It was fantastic. We felt quite spoiled.

We got ready for the party and set up drinks and food. Brad stays at the Zaza almost every week he's in Dallas for work and had talked to them about delivering some champagne and strawberries, which was so sweet. They showed up at the beginning of the shower and Meredith popped one open. Very fun.

Megan got lots of cute lingerie and we named each outfit. She's going to put them in envelopes and let Bruce pick based on the name each night of their honeymoon. I did something similar - have no idea where I heard about it from. But the girls seemed to have a good time naming everything. I'd say the naughtiest outfit came from my MOM!! Funny.

Dinner was at Nick & Sam's Grill, which was awesome. They had a big table for us, the service and food was awesome and they even separated all the checks without being asked. I left a huge tip, I was just so grateful I didn't have to spend half an hour figuring out the bill.

After dinner we hit up Penguin Dueling Piano bar, where we had some sofas reserved. It was dead when we got there at 9, but packed an hour later. Go figure. Megan got up on stage for a little dance to All the Single Ladies. It was a hoot!
After the piano bar, we made it to Teddy's Room and Urban Oasis for dancing. I am proud to say I made it to the end of the night, even though I was wearing my very highest sexy heels. Not sure my feet will ever be the same, but I hung in there! I wish I could say the same for the pecker wand Meredith bought at Fantasy World in the West Village for Megan to carry around. It did not last long at all. Sad Mer.
Overall I am feeling quite good about the whole thing because everyone seemed to have a great time and Megan had a blast and was so happy. That was my number one priority, that the bride have a great time. And that I was able to function the next day. Mission accomplished on both counts. I didn't feel great, but gosh darnit, I survived.
Charlie and I got back in town yesterday evening after another superfun flight. At least it's shorter flying East. When we got back to the house I couldn't find Ringo anywhere and was in a huge panic, thinking something had happened to him.

Turns out he'd figured out how to lock himself in the powder bathroom sometime between the last dog walker's visit and us getting home. After the panic died down, I just had to shake my head.

So now we're at a 6 week countdown until the wedding! Megan of course has tons to do and a bridal shower in her fiance's hometown next weekend. I need to get my bridesmaid dress altered and finalize Charlie's wedding attire - he is the ring bearer.

I think I may get a tie made for him in a fabric that coordinates with the bridesmaid dresses. I'm trying to convince Brad that I should get one made for him, too, so that he and Charlie match. Brad gave me a very skeptical look when I brought this up. Sometimes he has no imagination! Doesn't that sound cute??

Anyways, a great weekend with a great group of girls. So glad it was a success. Have I said that yet??? We love you Megan!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tuesday Night Hodgepodge

Random thoughts, in bullet form:
  • We are running a special on meltdowns here at the Spooner house right now. Buy one, get 15 free! I've had a draft post on the onset of the terrible twos, but no luck finishing it just yet. What is there to say really? They're here. They stink. We had to leave Romp n' Roll after 10 minutes today. So I guess they now officially cost money, too.
  • We're leaving for Dallas tomorrow for my sister's bachelorette party this weekend. Brad is going to work the rest of the week in Dallas and then head to New Orleans for my future brother-in-law's bachelor party. Fun for all! Charlie is staying with Nana and Paw Paw in McKinney, where pancakes and swimming in their big garden tub are a certainty.
  • Snow in Dallas is of course making our departure look iffy. Take off or cancel, but please, please, please don't let us sit on the plane for several hours on end. Our portable DVD player only has a 2 hour battery.
  • Plans for the bachelorette party Saturday night include staying at Hotel Zaza, Nick & Sam's Grill for dinner, Penguin Piano Bar for the show and Teddy's Room for some dancing. Urban Oasis if there's any energy left before last call. Fun times! And best of all - sleeping in the next morning. Maybe a bubble bath too. Zaza has great tubs.
  • Brad is working insane hours right now. Like until the AM most nights. He's home until we leave for Dallas, which is nice - Charlie and I visit him in the room he's working periodically and we were able to go out to dinner tonight. Brad is looking rather run down, though. I'll be glad when March gets here and things lighten up for him a little bit.
  • Are you on GoodReads? It's a web site where you can list the books you've read, the ones you want to read and the ones you're currently reading. There's a rating system and you can read others' reviews of books. You can also friend people to see their books. I'm trying to get my book club to join. I've gotten great book ideas from my sister and some of her friends. If you join, please friend me!
  • Speaking of books, I'm halfway through Under the Dome by Stephen King. It's a page turner, but I'm losing steam. It's also too large a book to haul around to waiting rooms and other places where I actually have time to read.
  • I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. What a fascinating book. I'm not usually one for nonfiction since I love the fantasy and adventure and escapism of fiction. But this is an amazing book with an amazing story. Please read it.
  • My book club has picked Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother for this month. The library doesn't have my copy ready for me yet so I haven't started it. I understand I'll want to punch this woman after I read it. Stay tuned.
  • I'm trying not to talk about my back, but I saw my regular doctor today and formulated a game plan of steps we're going to take to get me back in fighting mode. It was such a relief to get all my questions answered and feel like we will find something to help me. I asked about a chiropractor and he was hesitant to recommend it given my spine is curved in 2 places and I don't want to do more harm than good. I've always heard doctors are leery of chiropractors, but that does kind of make sense, so I'm going to hold off for now.
  • Also got a copy of my medical report from the orthopedist and saw that one curve in my back is 18% and the other is 25%. I thought that was interesting. Ok, I'll stop now.
  • Ringo has to go back to the vet tomorrow for his annual appointment and his eye is still messed up. He is such an expensive dog. I blame the inbreeding. Did you know Ringo is inbred? His mother and grandmother are the same dog! So are his brother and dad.
  • I'm going to attempt to recover my dining room chair seats myself once I get a strong enough staple gun. I hope they don't look like doo doo when I'm done. I'll try to remember to take pictures.
I think that's all I've got. I've got to get some work done and wake up super early tomorrow to get us all packed up for the trip before Ringo's vet appointment. It's going to be quite a day. Fortunately, my parents always have a delicious dinner and wine waiting for me when I get into town! Night night!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Charlie on the Phone

Charlie loves to talk on the phone. He has long conversations sometimes. He always begins with a big HEWWO? and ends with a definitive BYE. It's what goes on in the middle that I can't figure out....

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Stupid Back

I remember at the end of her pregnancy (which wasn't an easy one), my friend Lakshmy said she was tired of hearing her own complaining. That's exactly how I feel about my back right now. Sick of hearing myself talk about it, complaining about it, thinking about it. Just go away Back, ok? I've tired of you.

My MRI came back clear, which is good news. At the same time, it was disappointing in a weird way, because I wanted something that could be fixed, that had a name and a definitive action plan to end all suffering.

Instead, I just continue to hurt and the orthopedist's nurse sounds so pleased with herself when telling me there's actually nothing wrong with me that they can find. Nothing like being told it's all in your head to make you want to lunge through the phone and strangle someone. They want to run blood work, but I think the chance of anything popping up there is pretty remote.

I had my physical therapy appointment last week and it went like I expected. The therapist got to point out all my body parts that are uneven from each other due to the scoliosis - hips, shoulders, sides of my back. He gave me some exercises to do at home, which I have been doing diligently. Charlie likes to jump on top of me while I'm doing them, which makes for an interesting experience. I go back to therapy every Tuesday for the next month and then we'll see where I'm at with the pain.

I also got a massage, but the masseuse didn't feel anything amiss in the parts of my back that are hurting. Just a bunch of knots in my shoulders and neck. They live there permanently. I used to name them. Brad found that quite humorous when we were dating.

I think I may try a chiropractor next, but I have an appointment with my regular doctor next week just to see what next steps he recommends. I also want to give him a copy of medical file from the orthopedist so I don't have to go back there.

I don't really want to go back there because I don't think the orthopedist really interested in determining what's wrong; they just want to make sure it's nothing in their realm and then send me on my way.

In my head this makes them quite evil, because I just want a medical professional to figure it out and fix it, but I do see the practicality of it from their standpoint. All the same, now that I've realized this, I'll just send myself on my way, thank you very much. I don't see the point of a follow up appointment if they've already told me there's nothing else they can do but send me to physical therapy.

So that's kind of the deal. And now I'm going to go try to not talk, complain or think about my back. At least until it wakes me up tonight. Stupid back.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saving some Moolah

While I don't really make New Year's resolutions, I have had some things in mind that I have wanted to do - and one was to start using coupons and trying to figure that whole thing out. I call it a 'whole thing' because it feels like it's more of an art form than a hobby.

I even got invited by someone in my play group to a CLASS to learn how to make the most out of coupons. Of course I have no time to attend during normal waking hours, but can spend quality laptop time late at night to see what Google can teach me.

Like they could read my thoughts just down the road in Bon Air, Young House Love wrote a post on coupons that had a lot of good links and tips. They have a very good point about only using coupons for things you buy already. There is really no point otherwise.

They also write about the Kroger loyalty card - it's very fancy and you can charge up your card with a bunch of coupons that you can use just by scanning it at check out like you usually do. Too bad I absolutely HATE shopping at Kroger. They seriously stink here, especially the two closest to us.

Other than that, some of the coupon sites they link to are decent. I think I saved about 10% the other day. Not great, not bad, but it only took me 5 minutes to go through them and print.

I've avoided coupons in the past because I've had this perception, right or wrong, that coupons are mainly for processed junk food that I don't really need and try not to buy. We just don't eat a lot of frozen taquitos or toaster strudel around here. At least, not since I was pregnant. In fact, Charlie at birth was about 50% comprised of Toaster Strudel and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Please don't tell Gisele Bunchen.

Anyways, I stand slightly corrected on this - I have found some coupons for food we actually eat and even some for organic food, which I buy as often as possible. I would say the coupons I've seen are for junk about 75% of the time. Still, I should make the most of that 25%.

I even managed to find a few web sites dedicated exclusively to organic food coupons and deals. And some of the organic food companies have their own coupons on their web sites They don't have as much volume as the other coupon sites, but I'll take what I can get. We go through a lot of organic milk and yogurt in these parts.
Amazon also runs unadvertised sales on certain organic products. I've never ordered food from Amazon and I have no idea how these web sites find this stuff out, but I may have to give it a try. If you subscribe to the newsletters or Like them on Facebook, they'll tell you when the sales are happening.

So I linked to Whole Foods, but I don't normally shop there because it's kind of far from us and seems expensive. But I saw this interesting article about how it's so dang expensive there for the most part, but there are certain things you should buy there that are the same or cheaper than the regular grocery store. The spices and bulk foods especially - really cheap compared to the regular grocery store.

Another semi-related money saving thing I've been wondering about: wholesale clubs. We joined one here, which I affectionately call the Ghetto Costco. I go pretty regularly and use their coupons a lot - but am I saving money? I can't tell. I'm not sure buying 3 of something is really all that cost effective. The jury is still out on this one for me.

So there you go. If you'd like to send me a nice present with all the money you save, then by all means, go with your gut and do it.