Friday, October 30, 2009

Thanks

I love my blog readers... everyone is so sweet and encouraging. I knew my last post would be a surprise to most of you. I figured I could finally go public with the news when we told Chad's parents and our grandparents. It kind of made it "official," I guess. We would definitely appreciate your prayers for this precious child! And I selfishly covet your prayers for this horrible nausea to end SOON!

I am due June 6th (which is just your typical "calendar" due date; I opted to get my first ultrasound in January, when we find out the sex; I need to save the last ultrasound for the end of the pregnancy, in case this baby is big like Mary Ella.) So basically I'll get an official due date, the gender, and find out if I'm having one or more babies in January. Should be a fun visit. :) (No surprises, please Lord.) For those that have asked, yes, we were trying, and YES we are super PUMPED!
We're up in Florence; we came up yesterday. A lot of you have called, but don't think I am being rude. I get absolutely ZERO service here at my parents' house. I can text but I can't call out, for some reason. And my phone will ring, but if I try to answer you will not hear me. So I do plan on returning some phone calls; just don't want to run up their long distance bill. Sorry friends!
Oh yeah, I bought Mary Ella's pumpkin big sister t-shirt on a website called Zoey's Attic. Super cute stuff, so check it out! I just googled "big sister shirt" and found the website. And was lucky enough to get one that was themed for Halloween.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The T-Shirt Says it All...

Tonight, we went to visit Chad's parents and grandparents. Mary Ella wore her new pumpkin shirt.

This is the front:


And this is the back:



Surprise!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I celebrated my 27th birthday this past weekend here in Birmingham. Chad took Mary Ella and me to a new breakfast/lunch place in Hoover called "The Egg and I" and I highly recommend it. They are only open from 7am-2pm and it's super cute (think polka-dot plates on the walls) and super delicious. I ate the Baja Breakfast Tacos and Chad had the southwest burrito. I'm not usually a fan of the Mexican-infused breakfast, but this hit the spot, for sure. Three soft flour tortillas filled with eggs, cheese, and chorizo; then on the side, ranch potatoes *YUM* and a plate of guacamole, sour cream, pico and salsa. It was so good. Mary Ella ate a piece of their signature french toast which was drowning in butter and I had a hard time keeping my fork from drifting over to her plate. :)
After we ate lunch I bought a couple of things at Ross for myself while singing "Happy Birthday to Me" and Chad pushed Mary Ella around in the stroller. Then we went home and watched football the rest of the day. Sunday was my actual birthday and Mary Ella had coughed her head off the night before so we stayed home with her. Chad cooked us pancakes and Mary Ella had a side of Motrin followed by a looong nap. Then that afternoon we ate at Jim and Nick's and then Chad had to leave for his flag football games that were that night. Mary Ella helped me make some special fall recipes in the kitchen then we both went to bed early. Overall a good birthday weekend...
And the celebration continues, because yesterday Jamie brought me a gift certificate for a manicure, which I desperately need, and then tonight my best high school girls are meeting me at P.F. Chang's for an Asian feast followed by the Great Wall of Chocolate, as always. If you've never tried their chocolate wall, you NEED TO TRY IT. It has this raspberry drizzle on top that is oh-so-divine, I could put my face into the plate. I'm super pumped about that.

Plans for this week include working tomorrow then another birthday celebration with Chad's parents tomorrow night. Chad's dad's birthday is October 30th so we usually celebrate together. Then Thursday we are headed to Florence for a quick trip where we will attend CrossPoint's Harvest Festival, Stony Point COC's Fall Festival, and celebrate my birthday (AGAIN, WOO HOO!) with my family on Saturday morning. My Grandmother is cooking a big country breakfast as my birthday meal. Can't wait!

A lot of you asked about Mary Ella's costume. It is a BabyStyle costume; they are known for their children's Halloween costumes. Unfortunately, the company went out of business so now you can only find their costumes on eBay. I got into about 7 bidding wars trying to win that peacock, because I knew it would be a winner. Thanks for all your sweet comments. I'm just glad Mary Ella will actually wear it! She was terrified of the thing whenever we tried to get her into it before; but I figured being outside would be a good distraction. Anyway, just wanted to give you all that info. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 26, 2009

She's not a crow...

SHE'S A PEACOCK!

Today we practiced walking the neighborhood in our Halloween costume. Despite being terrified of the costume whenever we tried it on during the past few weeks, being outside somehow distracted her from the fact that she had a 3-foot wingspan and itchy orange tights. We had several joggers stop and stare, and Mary Ella gave her signature greeting, "Cah-cawww!" like true feathered friends should do. (I'm not sure what sound a peacock makes... we'll work on that before Saturday gets here.




Thanks to Jamie for helping us get into our costume and for capturing these pictures with your rockin iPhone. We love you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'm in love

... with this little nugget.

(pardon the nudity)

My first cousin Ashley (who is like a sister to me - we grew up together) gave birth to her second baby today. Jack Jentry Jordan was born at 12:59 pm and weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and was 20 inches long. The perfect little nugget of love. I was supposed to be there for the actual birth; not only to witness the miracle of it all but to photograph his first sweet moments. I even left Birmingham yesterday to make sure I'd be on time. She was going to be induced this morning at 7am and our plan was to just keep in touch until the action started. Well, I missed it. At 12 noon she was 5 cm dilated, had gotten her epidural, and was just sitting in bed talking to her mom and husband, who were there with her. I talked to them at 12:30 and everything was still the same. I was about to leave anyway and was getting ready to go. Well, apparently, around 12:50, Ashley all of a sudden felt some big time pressure; she told the nurse, who paged the doctor, who barely made it in time to catch the little bundle. Seriously?!?! One big push and he was OUT. I thought they were joking when they called me and told me. Boo! What a great way to have a baby though. She's a champ! (I'll admit I'm a little jealous.)

Anyway, he is a precious bundle of pure joy and cuteness. All of these pictures were taken by my aunt Vicki and we are staying with her again tonight. Addie Jane, the big sister, absolutely adores her new baby brother. And cousin Mary Ella just stared, but mostly ignored him. But I guess that's better than being overtly jealous and trying to poke his eyes out. :)


Monday, October 19, 2009

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Ingredients:
  • 4 large green bell peppers
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 shredded mozzarella
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds. In a large pot or kettle, cook peppers in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water, then set aside.
Cook orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Drain orzo and stir into meat mixture. Add marinara, tomato, basil, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Spoon mixture into the peppers.
Place in a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted! (Makes 4 servings.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The past few weeks...

I forgot to post these first pictures earlier when I mentioned my brother's wedding. Their wedding was in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and I snapped some pictures of some of the Mennonite (Amish) people. (I'm sure these guys would not approve of my paparazzi-like tactics but I just think their lifestyles are so fascinating.) We used to go visit the Mennonites all the time when I was growing up and my grandaddy still goes all the time and takes the younger grandkids. They buy everything from strawberries and molasses to wooden rockers and highchairs. A friend of my grandfather's, Andrew Zook, is a carpenter and turns wood that my grandfather collects into usable lumber. That is where my granddad gets the lumber to build his swings. Anyway, it'd be crazy to see something like this in Birmingham, Alabama; but it is an everyday occurrence in Lawrenceburg. They even have "buggy parking" at some stores. The first picture was snapped at Sav-A-Lot grocery, the second as I was driving down the road (and no, Mary Ella was not with me.)



Last weekend we took my oldest child, Lucy, to Bark at the Park, a celebration of all things dog. She doesn't get near the attention that she deserves, but I have one of the sweetest dogs ever (even though I don't treat her that way all the time!) She is super smart and loves other dogs and is a great big sis to Mary Ella. She enjoyed the time at the park.


I made this recipe for supper last week - stuffed bell peppers. They were SO good but really spicy. I'll post the actual recipe when I get home from the beach, but they are basically stuffed with Italian sausage, marinara, orzo pasta, onion, garlic, diced tomato... they are yummy!


And this past Saturday we celebrated our nephew Brooks' 5th birthday! I remember going to his 2nd birthday party when Chad and I were dating and I can't believe he has grown up so fast. Brooks is fascinated by wild animals and random Discovery-channel knowledge, and he always has time to share what he's learned about the wildebeest, cape buffalo, or gemsbok (yes, that's an animal.) His birthday celebration was held at the McWane Science Center downtown and all the kids got to touch some wild animals, including a gecko, a spiky dragon thing, a chinchilla and a turtle. Mary Ella was her usual brave self.



Me and Brooks


Here he is imparting his knowledge of the Alabama river catfish to Mary Ella...


She loved this huge piano!



We are enjoying the beach very much! Spent a couple hours at the outlets this morning and got some great deals at Old Navy. Then went to the beach for the afternoon and it was nice and breezy, a warm 83 degrees. Heading home tomorrow!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What do you do when you're sick of the rain?

You head to the beach.

I needed some R&R, and so did Mary Ella. I booked my hotel Sunday night on Priceline and got a great deal with the name-your-price option. So here I am, in sunny Gulf Shores. And boy, is it sunny. When we arrived today it was 88 degrees and I was surprised to see tons of people on the beach, bikinis and all, getting their tan on. I didn't even bring a swimsuit because I figured it'd be too chilly. Not so much.


Mary Ella loves the sand and couldn't get enough of it.


She tried to bury herself in it; luckily I was nearby and able to come to the rescue. (She looks sunburnt here, but she's not; just burning up hot. We were only out there for about 15 minutes!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Favorites

My current list of favorite things:

1. Cargo Wet/Dry Foundation - I am not one to spend money on makeup at all. I am your typical buy-everything-at-Walmart girl when it comes to cosmetics. But this summer I couldn't get the powder to work for me anymore and I needed something a little more substantial. I ventured over to Sephora and was introduced to my new love, Cargo. I buy their powder, which can be applied wet or dry, so it can be either a powder or a light foundation. It's made of nylon (like panty hose) and it just glides over your face and smoothes out every pore, every wrinkle, every line. I wear it dry and I LOVE it. (They tried to get me to buy the mascara too, but I will never part with my faithful pink and green friend, Maybelline Great Lash. Love her.)

. 2. PIPERLIME - I must admit, I found this site when I was checking out Rachel Zoe's website. This is a great site for style tips, what's coming, what's in, what's out. I LOVE their new "Top Ten Fall Trends" page and I'm hoping for a few Target or Old Navy gift cards for my birthday so that I can turn myself into a fashionista by the end of the month.


3. Dove Dark Chocolate - These are heavenly little chocolate bites. You must try them. And dark chocolate is really good for you too. (It can even lower your cholesterol.) Don't eat the whole bag at once.


4. Jordin & Beyonce
I love these girls, and to be more specific, I love these 2 songs - "Halo" and "Battlefield." I think Halo reminds me of Izzy and Denny from Grey's and Battlefield if just a good girly rock-out song. These are currently on my workout playlist and they give me that extra boost of energy when I'm on the elliptical in the mornings. However I was recently told by my 6th grade cousins Annsley and Courtney that these songs came out, "Like, forever-ago." So apparently I'm behind when it comes to the music scene. What are YOUR current favorite tunes? I don't listen to the radio so I never know what's new. I would love some recommendations, particularly any that could be added to my workout playlist. I love some work out music!

Monday, October 5, 2009

15 Months Old & A Brief Recap

Agh! My sweet baby is 15 months old and is going, going, going, all the time! In the past month she has learned so many new things and is saying so many new words. This age is so much fun because they pick up on things so easily and start repeating things more frequently too. I have tried to write down everything Mary Ella says and have counted over 40 words (which includes names of her favorite people) and there are new ones every day it seems. One of my favorites is when we are reading, she will turn and look at me and point to my face and say "My mama." It is so sweet! And when she hears the garage opening as Chad gets home in the evening she goes straight to the top of the stairs and yells "Dada! Dada!" until she sees him walking up the steps. He just eats it up and it's so sweet. She is also saying "Bets" for my sister Betsy and "Buzz" for my brother (that's his nickname.) Other favorite words are hot, ball, sit, nana (banana), dog, pumpkin (puh-kin), ghost, kitty, Meh-mo (Elmo), teeth, TV (teeh-beeee), movie (meee-beee), and apple. I have enjoyed "teaching" her about Halloween through books and different crafts and she can spot a pumpkin from a mile away. In fact, I picked up a small pumpkin at a pumpkin patch in Florence and she rarely lets it out of her site. It's in her crib as we speak.

Fall always seems to be the busiest time of year! I love it. I would take fall all year round. I love the colors, the weather, the decorations, Halloween is my FAVORITE, and I love making soup and going to football games. I love the festivities too - the Halloween parties, the magazines that are FULL of fun crafts and recipes, the trips to the pumpkin patch and the annual murder mystery put on by one of my girlfriends. I love it! AND my birthday is October 25th. So you can see why this is my favorite month. We've been pretty busy over the past couple weeks. My brother married his best friend Ashley on September 25th up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. My sister and I were bridesmaids and the wedding was beautiful. Mary Ella was the flower girl and she did a great job; at rehearsal she stole the show and walked down the aisle all by herself. She got a little nervous on the actual wedding day but overall we were proud of her. She looked so cute in her little dress. I am so thankful that my brother found someone like Ashley; she is perfect for him. They are best friends, have the same sense of humor, and they enjoy the same things - they love the same music, they exercise together, and she even has a fantasy football league. She's very down to earth, very low maintenance and she is always so happy to see Mary Ella and has a genuine love for every member of our family. I am really happy for them. She looked gorgeous at the wedding so I had to post this picture.

As far as a general update goes, we are enjoying being at home this week. I am working on getting all my fall decor in place and I purchased my mums at Costco so they are ready to be potted and porched. We still need pumpkins and are planning to go to either Old Baker Farm or to the pumpkin patch in Calera on the old railroad. I can't believe a year has passed since we took my little munchkin to pick out her first pumpkin... what a chunk! We are looking forward to Halloween. Her costume is top secret! :)


We ate my BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA for supper tonight and let me tell you, it is DIVINE, if I do say so myself. You should try it. (I came up with this recipe because I LOVE BBQ chicken pizza and I LOVE California Pizza Kitchen's BBQ chicken chopped salad... so I decided to combine the two and the result is delicious.) I would have taken a picture but I stuffed my face so fast that I didn't have time. :)

INGREDIENTS:
-1 pizza crust (I buy a 2-pk whole wheat thin crust from WalMart)
-1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (I use Great Value Walmart brand, but use your favorite)
-1/2 lb of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins, cut into bite-sized pieces
-1 small red onion, chopped
-1 bunch cilantro, chopped
-1 small can shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained
-1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 cup shredded lettuce (I buy the pre-shredded bag at WalMart)
-1-1.5 cups mozzarella cheese

Saute your chicken pieces in a small pan on the stovetop until they are cooked through. Add about 1 T of BBQ sauce to the pan and coat the chicken pieces. Spread the rest of the BBQ sauce on your pizza crust. Top with the red onion, the cooked chicken, and about 1/4 cup of the cilantro. Then top with cheese. Bake according to your crust's instructions.
While your pizza is baking, rinse and drain the beans and corn together in a strainer then empty into a small bowl. Combine the beans and corn with the rest of the cilantro and the lettuce shreds. This makes a cold "salad" to put on TOP of your delicious pizza when it comes out of the oven. The flavors are yummy. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What's Cookin?

Don't ask me. Ask the chef!



[real update coming later]

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