The past four days

We were blessed with a fabulous respite from our daily routine and four days with lots and lots of family surrounding us and our girl. My favorite highs and lows from our trip...

~ Suffering through Addie throwing a major tantrum the first night away at the horror of having to sleep in her Pack 'n Play three feet away from us. At one point in her 40-minute-long screaming, growling, stomping fit I actually yelled from our bed, "Out demon!" It didn't work.

~ Enjoying the Clayton family fare--enough to feed the army that we are.

~ Listening to our husbands laughing at us as my cousin-in-law and I enjoyed bourbon slushies while the men corralled the kids, if only for a moment.

~ Chasing and tackling Curt's four-year-old Godchild and tickling him until his giggles turned into squeals.

~ A lovely nighttime drive through Kentucky and Indiana on Thanksgiving night with Addie asleep in the back and Curt and I laughing and chatting together... Until, in the bleak darkeness that is Hoosier National Forest, we hit an animal that smashed in a part of the grill and left a disgusting tuft of fur under the car. Luckily there was no permanent damage.

~ Keeping my family up as late as possible in fear of putting Addie to bed and having to endure another frightening Pack 'n Play episode. Luckily there was just the one.

~ Sitting down to leftover Thanksgiving dinner with my husband, daughter, parents, sisters, brothers-in-law and grandma. I swear that food is better reheated.

~ Getting a call from our dear friend and neighbor Kim, reporting that Hancock Fabrics had a huge online sale. My sisters and I sat side-by-side with our laptops open and credit cards in hand. Fantastic!

~ Watching Addie learn how to blow bubbles and the face she made when the wand touched her lips and got soap in her mouth.

~ Knitting in the middle of the day while Addie and my mom played together tirelessly.

~ Knowing that this time, when we said goodbye, it will only be four weeks until my sisters and I can see each other again.

~ Opening a gift from my Aunt Joan: framed copies of two pen and ink drawings by my late grandmother. She died when my dad was eleven and any piece of heritage from her is a true treasure--I can't wait to find the perfect place for them in our home.

~ Skyping with my cousin, Laura in New York, sneaking a peak into her apartment and her life in the big city.

~ A short but very sweet escape with Curt to have a baby-free lunch and shopping trip, which included a stop at Trader Joe's and the purchase of a few cases of the highly coveted "Two Buck Chuck."

~ Quieting Addie when she shouted out for her Pepere after realizing that he is the man in the pulpit at church. I think my dad secretly loved it too.

~ Having the peace of a quiet ride home. Addie slept, Daddy drove, Mommy knit and no animals were harmed.

~ Coming home to find that our orchid is not only alive but also bearing new buds.

We are oh so tired but already looking forward to the festivities to come in just under a month, along with all the stories they bring.

Giving thanks

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and like so many of you, I am filled with thoughts of all that I have to be thankful for this year. In so many ways, I feel like I have shared many of those blessings with you in this space and simply put, they seem to all boil down to five f's: faith, family, friends, fun and food.

Today I want to focus on one person that I am incredibly thankful for: my mom. A few weeks ago, I had the intention of giving her public props for all of her crafting abilities. I still want to brag on her a bit, but I also want to say that my mother has done so much more than develop an unbelievable variety of skills and create numerous works of art. She has been an incredible mother and has taught me what it means to be truly selfless and nurturing.

I will never forget the epiphany I had when Curt and I were trying to get pregnant. I wanted to have a baby so badly and all of a sudden it hit me--I don't think I ever made an effort to try and understand how much my mom really loves me. In that moment, I wanted to curl up on the floor and cry because during that time of desperately wanting to have a child, finally I felt like I knew. All of these years I had taken my mom's love for granted and never stopped to think about what that meant in my life.

Over the phone and through my tears, I attempted to thank her for all that she has done. But really, how could I? No words would ever be enough to express my gratitude. Once I had Addie it sunk in even more. With her in my arms and Mom looking with pride over my shoulder, I felt this indescribable connection that has only grown stronger since Addie has been alive. Any and all of the dedication I have for my girl has come from one place, from the greatest teacher I could ever ask for. In everything I give and give up for Addie, it only increases all of the appreciation I have for my mom.

I don't think you have to be a mother to truly understand a mother's love. For me, that's what it took. I am so grateful I had the wake-up call that I did to deeply realize how impacted I am by my mom and what she means to me. I am beyond grateful for the relationship my mother and I have and that we have been blessed to become friends. I am joyous that I will be able to hug her on Thanksgiving and share in the happiness of being a family. And I can't wait to eat her food!

I wish all of you a holiday filled with warm reflections on what there is to be thankful for in your lives.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Fun with a fork

The other night all three of us sat down for dinner and ate the same thing. I tell you, I love it when that happens! We were quietly enjoying our pasta bake when Addie decided it would be really funny to put her fork in her mouth the wrong way. Then she thought it would be even funnier to shake her head around and spit the fork out... Over and over again. What was there to do but grab the video camera and capture the hilarity!

The best part is that whenever we showed her the video, she laughed like it was the most hysterical thing she had ever seen in her life. Really, it probably was.

Our turn

Over the weekend we decided to get a head start on our Christmas shopping and ventured out to the wide, wonderful world of Target. We found a few deals and a few items for Addie to open on Christmas Eve. We also learned that our darling girl has reached the age where we can no longer take her into the toy department without some sort of fight.

Anything Elmo, she grabbed as if her life depended on it. Slippers, blocks, you name it--if it was red and fuzzy with big googly eyes, it was Elmo and it was Addie's. At least, that's what she thought. We quickly developed a distracting strategy that seemed to work. Curt took  Ms. That's Mine out of the cart and showed her something new in a different aisle while I put all the crap she pulled into the cart back where it came from. 

Our distraction plan worked out great when both of us were available for execution. However, when our other shopping routine took shape (Curt entertains Addie while I run through the store like a mad woman to try and get everything we need before a meltdown takes place) this plan went straight to the crapper.

I was looking at Christmas cards when Addie spotted a tricycle. She already had a small stuffed Elmo in one hand and a baby football in the other, but that did not stop her. She immediately insisted that Daddy pull the bike off of the bottom shelf so she could pretend to go for a ride. Of course he complied. After all, it would keep her entertained for a few minutes and really, what harm could it do?

For a while, no harm at all. She was thrilled to have her trinkets stored safely in the compartment at the back of the trike and sit on the seat, pretending to ride like a big girl. Everything seemed under control, so Mommy went to go and look at tree skirts in a different aisle. Curt allowed Addie's game to continue for about five more minutes and then decided it was time to move on.

While I was searching through the racks for a tree skirt that wasn't hideous, I heard a kid screaming and growling rather loudly several aisles over. I bit my lip, squeezed my eyes shut and said under my breath, "Oh, that is my child." A few other shoppers within listening range chuckled as I grabbed some maroon felt and got the heck out of there.

Curt was walking with Addie over his shoulder, I drove the cart, and we did our best to make it to the checkout line as quickly as possible. When we were finally driving out of the parking lot, Curt and I laughed together at the events that transpired. He said, "I think all of those people were looking at me like I was this awful parent." I did my best to reassure him and told him that any decent parent would just see our situation and think, "Thank God it isn't my turn."

My theory is that no matter how well-behaved your kids are, they are bound to lose it in public at some point. So many other times I have been out shopping with my girl and it has been someone else's turn to have a kid screaming in the store. Yesterday, it was ours. I feel like we were blessed to have make it this long without an incident, and who knows when our number will come up again. Until we are ready to find out, it's off to the internet with the rest of our shopping list. Free shipping, anyone?

Living room shopping

Addie is still suffering from some sort of something... I think what started out as allergies has morphed into a yucky cold with a little teething mixed in. This has left us trapped inside in an effort to keep her from spreading the love and contracting anything worse.

It's funny how staying home can be so exhausting. Lack of sleep mixed with feeling like I've already pulled out all the stops has me less than inspired with fun activities. This week we spiced up the usual routine by making a tent, creating a new container for Regan's cat food and waving good-bye to all of the trucks and school buses that drive by our house in the afternoon.

What are we left with? Shopping. All morning Addie went through the house with her shopping cart and filled her bag with only the essentials. Just what are the essentials to an almost 20-month-old? I'm so glad you asked.

A piece of ripped paper (a grocery list or perhaps a coupon), some mustard, a cell phone and a bracelet made by Aunt Kate...
You know, the basics.

Buckle up

For as long as I can remember Addie eating in her high chair, she has loved playing with the buckles that strap her in. After her meals, we would unbuckle one side and she'd sit there for about 15 minutes trying to figure out how to get it snapped back into place. Never has she been able to complete the process on her own, until this week.

A few days ago, I was sitting with her as she played in her chair. I wasn't really paying attention, but then I heard it--SNAP! I gasped and looked up at her and she had the absolute best expression on her face. Her hands were still on either end of the buckle and she was looking at me with her eyes wide in surprise and pride. Her mouth was open in disbelief, almost as if to say, "Mommy, did you see that?" Oh yes, my girl, I saw it! (Well, heard it, but we all get the idea.)

Since this event was months in the making, it seemed important to make a very big deal out of her triumph. I squealed with her, we clapped, we laughed and I covered her in proud mommy kisses. I immediately got her out of her chair so I could hug her and jump up and down with her in my arms. We ran to find Daddy in the other room and he joined in the party. I mean, you would have thought this child cured cancer. Nope, just snapped a buckle. It was awesome!

Now she can fasten those suckers in a flash and it's still fun to see her do it. It's really the little things, isn't it? Oh, and in case you were wondering, she does not know how to unbuckle just yet. I'm not so sure we'll be dancing for joy whenever that happens. Until then, sweet Addie, you buckle away!!!

One year ago

Today I am celebrating a special anniversary. One year ago, on this date, I wrote my first blog entry. It started in a moment of desperation, of me needing to vent about what we were experiencing at that time. Over the months that followed, my topics shifted and the tone of this space started to take shape.

Eventually, when we made the decision for me to leave the workforce and stay home with Addie, I planned to make blogging part of my daily routine. I wanted to feel like I was connecting with family members, friends, moms, and anyone else who could relate to what I share. Every weekday that I possibly can, I am here and I am writing and I am grateful.

I can't say how much I love what I'm doing. I feel incredibly blessed to spend all of those extra hours with Addie. I love that I am able to devote more time to managing our family and our home. I also have discovered that I truly enjoy writing and all that it brings... I get so excited when I see that someone has connected enough with what I have written to leave a comment. My heart fills with joy when I run into friends I haven't seen in a while and hear that they enjoy my posts and encourage me to continue.

I had no idea last year that this is where I would be. In November of 2008, I was working part time and bringing Addie to work with me on the days I went into the office. Life felt a lot more stressful back then. I was working in a field that I loved, but my heart was ripped in half every day. Now I am lucky enough that I have my whole heart with me all the time. And although this isn't affording us the luxury of paying any bills, it is helping with my sense of purpose and that is a blessing I am so thankful for.

I found this picture of Addie that was taken about a year ago and I can't believe how much she has grown. I see her short hair, her chubby cheeks, her blue eyes that have now turned more green and I am painfully aware of how the time is flying. I also can sense how much I have changed in the past 12 months. I am slowly growing into the role that my girl is now able to name--Mommy. I know I will always be a work in progress and I look forward to sharing the craziness, the tears, the belly laughs, the surprises and everything else that is to come.

Thank you for coming along with me on my journey!

The sICK factor

With the camera equipment for uploading photos still on the fritz, I thought it might be best to share what our last few days have been like... sans pictures.

Apparantly our Addie suffers from fall allergies, or the exact same sort of cold that she only contracts after being outside. This leads to swollen and sometimes watery eyes, sneezing, congestion and a whole lot of snot. Prior to Addie's birth, I swore that I could handle all of the poo in the world, just no vomit. Curt said that was fine with him--he can deal with pukiness. Excellent! We have a deal.

What we did not plan for was my extreme aversion to things that come out of Addie's nose. I had no idea I would be so grossed out by boogars and the like. Really, every time I get in there to clear the area, I have to work super hard to quiet my overactive gag reflex. Curt finds this to be extremely hilarious and I'm sure I look pretty funny with one hand wiping a tiny nose, and the other covering my mouth as my head is turned in the opposite direction, eyes squeezed tightly shut. Oh yes, maturity rules at our house.

I have gotten better over the past several months, and I have done the unthinkable (aka, wiped Addie's nose with my shirt). It's so strange, the things that I do or say as a mom that I never in a million years thought I would...

When Addie coughs really hard and I'm afraid she might make herself sick, I instinctively cup my hand under her mouth. GROSS! What in the world am I thinking in those moments? Thank heavens my tiny makeshift vomit receptacle has never been used. Who knows what the results could be? Nothing good, I am sure of it.

Also, when Addie is really squirmy on the changing table and I'm dealing with a particularly messy mess, I have yelled to her, "Addie, stop moving around! I have to clean the poo out of your vagina!!!" I admit, I have shouted this many, many times. Definitely not the fantasy I had in my head when I was rubbing my swollen belly, imagining what life would be like with my darling baby girl.

I have cursed wicked obscenities under my breath in the middle of the night as I trudge to her bedroom for the fifth time. I have somewhat violently shoved my soundly sleeping husband when I return to our bed after multiple visits to our screaming, sick babe. I have cried myself to sleep because I am so tired and feel so guilty for the wicked obscenities and the violent shoving.

In the midst of all the ugliness, I have to remember that I am getting up in the night. I am wiping her face and her bottom clean. I am rocking her back to sleep. I am being a mommy. Certainly not always pretty, but always there. And funny enough, there is a silver lining to all of the sleepless nights and the ickiness of a sick baby--all those extra snuggles. It may sound strange, but oh how I love those really good, nestled in, arms wrapped around her, so tired I can't keep my eyes open, warm, precious cuddles.

Those priceless moments are God's way of turning my dial back from the brink of insanity, down to comforter and nurturer. Works every time.     

Hitting the ceiling, and it ain't glass

Today is my mom's birthday. In an effort to celebrate her and all that she is in our lives, I planned to write a sort of tribute to her and her craftiness. I took pictures of all the things she has made for Addie, from a woven blanket to cross stitched bibs to a gorgeous handsewn baptismal gown that she made from my wedding dress. That's right, handsewn.

But alas, for whatever reason, the camera isn't working and I can't figure out how to upload the pictures onto our computer. Really? Are you kidding me? I guess I shouldn't be that surprised when this is how the entire week has been...

Feeling exhausted from our weekend trip, I had a lot of difficulty getting motivated on Monday. I usually unpack, clean and get on track even after just one night away relatively quickly. The bag of dirty clothes sat in our kitchen for three days before I decided to deal with it.

Addie chipped my Madonna and Child statue I got from my father-in-law for Mother's Day AND broke the zipper on the bag of knitting supplies my grandma gave me. Both of these things happened during a quick trip to the bathroom. I swear, I couldn't even pee without some kind of disaster. I think that actually might be one of the things I miss most about working outside the home: peeing in peace and in private.

I ate an entire 9 x 9 casserole dish of corn pudding this week by myself. When I told him I made it, my husband's exact words were, "No thanks. Corn and bread together in a pudding? That's what you love, honey, not me." Fine. I'll eat it myself. And I did.

And last but not least, my monthly bill that has taken its sweet time getting here (9 days late, to be exact) woke me up an hour early this morning with cramps from hell that radiated down my legs. Happy Friday! I'm definitely not pregnant so I can continue to have as much coffee as I wish, which is a LOT, but get ready for nine extra days worth of fun, funFUN!

Sigh. It has always been important to me to keep this space from becoming a sort of dumping place to confess the ugly side of motherhood. While I always want to be honest, I feel like there are enough places where mommy rants and raves are abundant, and I want to keep the focus on the humor and beauty that I try to find every day. This week, that has been tough.

I don't know if it's the raging hormones from Aunt Flo taking her sweet old time, or that I miss having my grandma here much more than I thought I would. For whatever reason, I find myself typing the blues and I'm working on feeling like that is OK. After all, as a stay-at-home mom, sometimes there are weeks that are just hard and there's not much to be done about it. I can wait for Daddy to get home and then break into the stash of good wine, but until then, it's me and Addie for better and for worse. Here's to looking forward to next week--it's got to be better!

Oh, and Mom--I love you. Have a Happy, Happy Birthday!!!

No means no

In the great quest to eliminate some of the whining that goes on around here, we decided to teach Addie the word, "No." That way, if there's something she doesn't like or want, instead of making awful sounds that send my head to the brink of exploding, she can simply tell us, "No." Are we crazy? Perhaps. But I will tell you, the whining has decreased incredibly and it has been replaced with a pointed finger, furrowed brow, puckered lips and an adorable, "No, no, no."

Most of the time, I don't mind that Addie is using this dreaded word, because it has been quite helpful thus far. We know the answer to whatever issue she is having much more quickly and we can then fix the problem and move on. The times that I struggle, are when she's telling me, "No," and I can't honor her wishes--especially when it has to do with her body. If she has just pooped, for example, and I tell her I need to go change her diaper and she doesn't want me to, or when it's time to undress her to change into pajamas and she tells me, "No," as I take off her shirt.

As you probably already know, I am painfully aware of how my former work has impacted me and how I view the world. I also am aware that this case is no exception. It has always been so important to me that Addie knows what the word, "No," means and that she has the right to say it whenever someone is doing something to her that she doesn't want. Of course, she's only 19 1/2 months old, so I understand that she will not fully comprehend why that is important for quite some time.

But really, how young is too young to teach this? The word, "No," can have such power. For the first time she is able to tell us exactly what she thinks and we can then react. However, she also just likes saying it and sometimes shouts it with a smile while she emphatically shakes her head, yes. (We are now working on, "Yes," and what that means as well.) As her mom, how do I teach her when, "No," really means, "No," yet show her that sometimes we don't always get what we want?

Of course, when I have to go against her wishes, I try to explain why. "Mommy is sorry. I know you don't want your diaper changed, but we have to make sure your bottom is nice and clean. You don't want to stay in a poopy diaper all day, do you?" Sometimes, adding insult to injury, she nods her head that she would in fact, like to stay in her poopy diaper. Mercy.

Curt often tells me that I'm too sensitive to these kinds of things and I need to relax a bit. In some ways I agree, but I also think that as Addie's Mom and as an advocate for ending violence against women, it is my job to freak out about her safety. Even if it's a little over the top and even if I scare myself to death every time I think about it, what else are my options?

There is a saying about understanding the movement to end violence against women: Once you know, you can't un-know. A small part of me wishes this wasn't true. I wish I could relax and trust that somehow Addie will simply be OK. I wish I could just say, "Too bad, kid. We're changing your diaper!" and not even think twice. Instead, it sends me into a whirlwind of overthinking and I'm left feeling overwhelmed, ineffective and terrified.

I'm not quite sure where to go from here, except to keep doing what we are doing. Teach her in the best way we know how, take it one step at a time, ponder and ponder again why we're teaching the things we are and hope to God that she takes some of it in... and also hope that in the process I don't nurture social phobias, fear of relationships or the inability to trust others.

Next topic for discussion: Is it inappropriate to send a child to kindergarten with a keychain of pepper spray? Discuss.

The zoo

While I was out experiencing the great shopping expedition of 2009 on Saturday, the rest of my family took Addie to the Indianapolis Zoo. I finally got out the camera to see what they were up to, and boy does it look like they had fun!

She explored the playground with my dad...

And went down the slide like a big girl for the first time, even though she's still trying to suck on those two fingers while she does it!

She went to the petting zoo and actually touched an animal!

I'm not exactly sure what she's looking at here, but my best guess would be Nemo. He's still very popular around here, you know.

Imaginary celebrity connections

Addie has a short list of songs that she really adores. At the top of the list is Paul Simon's Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes. It takes over her and puts her into a kind of trance--a little strange, but at the same time, I'm not messing with a good thing. OAR's Shattered will get her shimmy shaking no matter what. It's adorable and she always lights up when she hears those three notes at the beginning that remind Mommy of The Twilight Zone, but in a good way. I'd say we listen to that one at least twice a day, if not more.

The other evening, Curt was telling me about how Chris O'Donnell was on a late night talk show sharing about how his son loves Shattered as well. Supposedly Mr. O'Donnell has to negotiate with his three-year-old for how many moments of silence he can have in the car before they play this song of choice. Clearly without a thought in my head I said, "Oh that's funny. We should send him a note."

What? We should send him a note? I'm really sure this actor would love to hear all that our kids seem to have in common. While I'm at it I might as well tell him about the time Addie tried to put her hands in a poopy diaper and then lick her fingers. What is it about being a parent that makes you feel connected to every other parent out in the world? It's like we're all members of this secret, strange club where cute and gross stories bind us all as one. Apparently I was in "club" mode that evening and talked about Chris O'Donnell like we have him over for dinner on a regular basis.

Thank God my husband loves me. He shrugged off my little comment as if it was totally normal and said, "Yeah, I thought it was pretty funny." Good man. Love him.

Grown-up friendships

Last weekend, my best girlfirend, Carmen and I gifted each other with spending an entire day together. We spent the hours shopping, listening to fun music in the car, eating delicious food and mostly chatting and catching up. It had been almost a year since the last time we hung out alone, which is the longest we have ever been apart. The funny thing is that on Saturday, it felt like no time had passed. We were our old selves, just having a ball, being girls and enjoying the time we set aside just for us.

Carmen and I have been close friends since high school and we lived together for a year in college. Back in those days, we spent endless hours together doing fun and silly things. We danced on our back porch to Habanera, ate Doritos with cheese and bean dip for dinner, put sponge curlers in our hair, discovered Sex & the City, spent too much money on shoes and so much more.

As young women, we also were touched by devastating tragedies and loss that we cried through together and came out the other side as wiser and closer friends. Through our post college years, as it is for so many, we have not been afforded the luxury of living in the same city. We frequently talk about how amazing it would be if we found ourselves even living in the same state again and what it would be like to get to see each other more often.

The thing that stands out to me, is that as I get older, I seem to get farther and farther away from the people who were closest to me growing up. No matter how hard we may try, life moves in and we physically drift apart from one another. As we get married, have children, and plant lives of our own where we live, it's harder and harder to keep up with those weekly phone calls and almost daily emails. The every-other-month get-togethers turn into once a year or longer.

I think back to the glory days of grade school and college, when I took having proximity to my friends completely for granted. I didn't know how easy we had it. Whenever I moved away, I did my best to keep in touch--sometimes I was consistent and sometimes I wasn't. The amazing thing is, that with most of the friends I've had, it doesn't seem to matter how long it is in between visits or phone conversations. Somehow, whenever we reconnect, we are able to go right back into the groove we once had. We are still "us" and no matter what has changed in our lives, we are able to find common ground in each other again.

As adults, these relationships have gone through a subtle, yet significant shift--at some point we stopped just being friends and became family. Somewhere along the way, it stopped being a choice and we know that we are and will be in each others lives forever, no matter what. I still feel sad that we can't have lunch or impromptu slumber parties whenever we'd like. But this grown-up stage of friendship has a different kind of comfort that I wouldn't trade for anything. Not even for living in the same zip code.

Priceless memories

Today we are taking my grandma back home to Indianapolis. I was just telling Sweetie this morning that I will be lonely next week without her, and I think Addie will be too. I am so grateful that she was able to come down, share our week with us and make some incredible memories. Some of the things I am most thankful for, and what I will miss the most...

~ Hearing anecdotes about Sweetie's childhood and her marriage to my Pop-pop.

~ Addie mixing in Gi-Gi with Mommy and Daddy when she cries out from her crib in the morning.

~ Having help with keeping Addie occupied, especially when it's time to make dinner.

~ Addie grabbing Gi-Gi's hand after breakfast and leading her to the couch for their morning story time.

~ All four of us sitting down together as a family for a tasty evening meal.

~ Cocktail hour.

~ Hearing Addie and her Gi-Gi playing and laughing while I grab a few moments to myself at the computer.

~ Impromptu lunch out after story time at the library.

~ Trying to take a picture of Addie and her Gi-Gi without a book in between them.

~ Conversing with my Sweetie as fellow mothers, sharing stories about parenting and learning from her wisdom.

~ Addie using Gi-Gi's cane as a walking stick, wand and whatever else is in that precious little imagination!

Thank you, Sweetie for taking a break from your life to come down and experience a slice of ours. We love you and can't wait to have you come again!

Money well spent

It's been quite a journey, this making apple butter. Back when I first got the incling to try it, I thought I would prep all of the apples by hand. I saw a fancy apple peeler at the orchard when we picked our delicious fruit, but I didn't even really look at it. How hard can peeling a few apples be? HA! Shows how much I know!

Last weekend when I started working on the apples Friday evening, everyone asked if I needed help and I said, "Oh, no, I've got it." About 20 minutes later when I had only finished four apples, my sweet family had enough and they came in to quickly form an assembly line. We were peeling apples with regular vegetable peelers and slicing them by hand. While it took a little time, it wasn't so bad with everyone pitching in.

After all of that work though, our sweet treat didn't stick around very long and I quickly determined that I must make another batch. With two of my peeps back home in Indy, I had lost my crew so I finally decided to cave in and splurge a bit on an apple peeler/corer/slicer.

When it arrived yesterday, I was so excited I could hardly stand it. Such a sight for sore fingers and hands! When I realized just how quick and easy my job had become I got more and more ecstatic. All of those perfect peelings had to be put to good use... They made fabulous edible neclaces! Can't you tell how thrilled my models are?

OK, I am willing to admit in the privacy of this space that I might have had a few glasses of wine before I began. Mommy was feeling good and was quickly falling head over heels in love with a simple kitchen gadget. It was a Wednesday night from heaven.

This morning we woke up to apple sauce, which was pureed in the crock pot and cooked some more to make delectable apple butter. Yuuuummmm!!!!! This stash should last at least a week.

Christmas knitting

I started my serious Christmas gift planning about a month ago and I think I finally might have everything I need. I have been gathering my Christmas yarn all year long--at least, that's what I tell myself in July while I'm buying $35 worth of wool that feels so good on my fingers I can't pass it up. As I was bouncing ideas off of my husband, he just laughed at me and told me it was too early. Really? Is October too early? Not when we're talking about a lot of kids' gifts and a wife who is not the fastest knitter in the world.

Well now it's November, which could be my favorite month of the year, and I am slightly concerned over how I will complete all of my projects by Dec. 25th. Actually, it's even before then, as I need to ship several of these gifts all over the country. Panic. Gather. Breathe.

I think I have around 20 projects I hope to complete this fall, which seems like a lot, but hopefully won't be that bad. A few fingerless gloves here, a lot of hats there, maybe a coveted dishcloth thrown in if things get tight... So what if I'm listening to the final episodes of Project Runway more than I'm watching as my fingers click away on the needles? If there is anything better than getting a handmade gift, it's giving one. I'll work to that!

Gi-Gi's stuff

Addie is facinated by all of her Gi-Gi's things. A few of them have gotten special attention, like the cane. My Sweetie has always been a very hip and cool lady, so when she decided to get a cane, it needed to be pretty snazzy as well. I would say she succeeded. Addie definitely agrees.

Yesterday, on our way to the grocery store, I looked over next to me and Sweetie was wearing these pink sunglasses. I said, "Look at you stylin' in those shades!"
She replied matter-of-factly with, "Yeah, how 'bout that?"

What a weekend

The past few days were filled with really high highs and some low lows. Friday afternoon didn't exactly turn out as planned, but we had a really great time, nonetheless. We made it to our parish "Trunk or Treat" and Aunt Em shared Addie's costume.

Then on Saturday, everyone helped to can homemade apple butter. It was my first canning project and it was definitely an adventure! The canner I had wasn't made for glass cooktops so we had to use the gas burner attachment on the grill outside to seal the lids. It worked great, but it was quite a process. How many people does it take to can fourteen 4 oz. jars of apple butter? As it turns out, three! (Aunt Em gets a very honorable mention for keeping Addie occupied throughout the operation.)

We went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood and I was reminded just how much I love where we live. It was really nice to see so many families out with young kids, enjoying a perfect chilly fall evening with adorable characters holding our hands.

Sunday, the wind shifted a bit and Addie had a rough day. She had some serious meltdowns and incidents of hitting me in the face. No, no, no. Incidently, while Addie was throwing a mega-fit in her crib, screaming, crying and yelling for "Mommy," I was in my room crying and trying to reach my mom on her cell phone. At the time, not so funny, but now I find incredible humor in her and I doing pretty much the exact same thing at the same time, even if it was for different reasons.

The weekend ended on a very high note, with a drive to Louisville to pick up my grandma, who is staying with us for the week. After dinner at Lynn's Paradise Cafe, we enjoyed a quiet car ride home as Ms. Addie finally slept most of the way.

I can't say how much I am looking forward to all of the time we will get to spend with my Sweetie and Addie's Gi-Gi, seeing them bond in a way they haven't been able to before. I will count this week among one of the many perks of staying home. The magic is already beginning...