Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 47)

 7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 188)
I've been trying to do an "update on life" post all week. Luckily, it's Friday which means I can just stuff everything neatly into 7 little snippets :)

1) Last week we headed to TN to visit my family for Thanksgiving. We left on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid traffic. We were mostly successful. Our biggest worry was having to stop a bunch because Joseph was sick (with diarrhea). Luckily, we only had one major blowout on the trip down. (Sorry if that was TMI.)

2) Wednesday, Will and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. We kept it simple and went out to lunch at a nice restaurant with Joseph. AND we got dessert - score!
Joseph also seemed to finally have his appetite back after nearly a week of eating hardly anything. I think that was his anniversary present to us (because he's much more well behaved in restaurants when he's hungry/eating).

3) Thursday we went to mass in the morning then had a nice late Thanksgiving lunch. My dad's turkey, stuffing and gravy were delicious as usual. But, I think my favorite part of Thanksgiving is the sides.

4) Friday we celebrated birthdays. Four of them to be exact - Will's, my sister, Alyse's, my mom's, and mine. We went out to lunch at one of my favorite restaurants then went bowling. Joseph really enjoyed watching us bowl and running all over the place. Luckily, we were the only people there for the first half of bowling (then people started trickling in).

After bowling we had a delicious cookie cake. MMMMmmmmm. If you don't have a Great American Cookie Company near you, I'm sorry. Their cookie cakes are to-die-for (or maybe my family is just weirdly obsessed with them). The closest one to me here in MD is nearly an hour away, so I try to get my fill when I'm back home in TN.

5) We attempted to take some family photos on Thanksgiving, but that was a major fail. I realized after Joseph refused to cooperate that he was probably hungry. Lesson learned: make sure Joseph is well-fed before attempting a photo session.

6) Saturday was Will's birthday. He wanted to watch the Ohio State vs. Michigan game for his birthday. So, I packed while he watched the game. Then we left to come home late that afternoon (again, to avoid Thanksgiving traffic).

7) Unrelated to last week - I'm so excited the Christmas season is upon us. I'm hoping to decorate the house tomorrow. I've already started playing Christmas music. It makes me so happy and calm and happy. We're sticking with our little 4-foot tree again this year, but I can't wait to bring out the nativity sets and Christmas lights. And I especially can't wait to see Joseph's reactions to it all.

That's all for now in Casa de Rayel. I hope you have a lovely weekend. For more quick takes go visit Jen at Conversion Diary.

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm not partial or anything...

...but the fact is my son is a genius.

Evidence #1: A couple days ago he and I were playing with his little fire truck. I dug the firemen out of the recesses of the toy box, but was unable to find the dog that goes with the set. I asked Joseph if he could find the dog. He ignored my question, so I figured he didn’t know where the dog was. He worked on putting the firemen into the truck (you have to fit the square bodies into the square holes) for a few minutes. Once he accomplished this task he walked into the other room. I assumed he was finished playing with the fire truck, but wanted to encourage him to play more. I heard him open the drawer of the desk then start squawking. I got up to see what was the matter and try to bring him back into the other room to continue playing. Within a couple seconds I saw him pull out the little wooden dog. He must have stashed it in there a day or two before without me knowing and remembered it was there when I asked for it. Genius, I tell you.

Evidence #2: Tonight at dinner I made breakfast for dinner (french toast, eggs, sausage). I decided to wait until about halfway through dinner to make the sausage because as soon as Joseph sees the sausage he won’t touch any other food on his tray. He becomes singularly focused on the sausage. Must. Eat. Sausage. Now. So, we sit down to dinner and he starts fussing. He’s been a little sick which has turned him into a picky eater (hopefully only temporarily) and tonight was no different. Everything we offered he didn’t want. We finally just let him get down from his seat, but that didn’t help either. He went over to the fridge and started whining. It took me few minutes before I realized he wanted me to get the sausage out of the freezer and make it. I eventually went to the freezer and as soon as the door opened he was quiet. He saw me get out the sausage and all was well…until he had to wait for me to cook the sausage. But, seriously…the boy knew sausage was a part of this meal and he wanted nothing to do with the eggs or french toast when he knew sausage was coming. What the heck!? He’s only 16 months old. Isn’t he too young for this kind of memory? Genius.

Evidence #3:  I was doing laundry today in preparation for our Thanksgiving trip. This included washing his cloth diapers, which I usually line dry. I took a load of laundry up the stairs and when I came back down Joseph has gotten an empty laundry basket and was taking all the diapers off the line and putting them into the laundry basket. Never mind the fact that they were still wet. I was just surprised he knew what to do with them! Genius.

Evidence #4: Every night we read Joseph a few stories before he goes to bed. Will is usually the one to read to him, but Will was tired tonight so I read to him instead. At one point in “Sleep Tight, Baby Rhino” Baby Rhino’s mommy and daddy give him a kiss goodnight. When I read this page Joseph “blew a kiss.” I thought to myself, “Aww, that’s so sweet! Will taught him to blow kisses!” Then, when Will came upstairs to say goodnight he told Joseph to blow kisses to me (which he did) and I commented on how cute it was that he taught him that. Will looked at me quizzically and said “I thought you taught him that” at which point we both realized he must have picked it up somewhere else. My best guess is that he saw another child do it and simply mimicked it. Regardless, I believe it makes my kid a genius.

All of these scenarios occurred either today or within the past couple days, which I find amazing. Joseph continues to surprise me with what he knows and how quickly he learns. What will he think of next?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What I Wore Sunday (#4)

What I Wore Sunday linkup

I'd like to start by saying how proud I am of myself. Because of this nifty little link-up I've managed to wear four different outfits to church four weeks in a row. I think that must be some kind of record for me. My goal for today was to try and add accessories to my outfit. Since giving birth I've pretty much stopped wearing all jewelry except for my wedding + engagement rings.
I managed to wear earrings and a necklace this week. Who even knows when I'll ever wear a scarf as a fashion statement because a) the only scarves I own are solid colors and are meant to simply keep me warm and b) I haven't the first clue as to how to wear a scarf in the name of fashion. And I'll probably never wear a bracelet. I feel like they're uncomfortable and always get in the way. So, earrings and a necklace is about the best I'll do for a while.
Although I didn't think ahead on my outfit I had planned Joseph's outfit in advance. Unfortunately, that outfit was kiboshed when Joseph got sick. This morning he curled up in my arms and fell asleep. Poor guy slept until shortly before mass. Knowing the likelihood of me having to change his outfit mid-mass I just threw on some pants to go with the shirt he was already wearing. I still think he looked cute, but can't wait to use the outfit I had planned.
Sorry about the lighting....again. Clearly I'm no photographer, and that goes double for the hubs.

The deets:
Shirt: TJMaxx
Skirt: Motherhood Maternity
Jacket: Ann Taylor LOFT
Shoes: no idea - I've had them for a long time

mmmmmm...pasty legs
Earrings: gift at some point in my life
Necklace: bridesmaids gift from my sister's wedding

That's all folks. Now go check out what other (more stylish) people are wearing at Fine Linen and Purple.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What I Wore Sunday (#3)

What I Wore Sunday linkup

It's Sunday again which means it's time for a little installment of "What I Wore Sunday." Unfortunately, this Sunday I didn't do a whole lot of planning ahead (or even thinking ahead). But it was warm here - a solid 60 degrees out(!!!) - which made my clothing choice much easier. I went with my go-to dress + shrug/cardigan + flats combo. I even managed to spice things up a bit by wearing earrings (although you can't see them in this pic).

Dress: Ann Taylor LOFT (non-maternity!!! but baby bump friendly)
Shrug: Ann Taylor LOFT
Shoes: Steve Madden (from DSW, I think??)
Hair: down and freshly cut (after 11 long months sans hair stylist)

I love this dress. It's incredibly comfortable and so versatile. I wear it all the time during the summer, and I especially love that it has space for my growing belly.
I also love these shoes. They're fairly basic flats, but seem to be able to go with lots of different outfits. Being size 11W, I generally have a hard time finding shoes that I like that also fit and are reasonably priced. (Other than buying shoes online, which I generally don't like to do because they usually don't fit right and I end up having to return them. So it ends up being more of a hassle than it's worth.)
As for the hair cut - I'm so glad I was able to get that done yesterday. I've been looking for a new hairstylist since I got married and moved an hour away from my wonderful stylist in Annapolis. I had one not-so-great experience and have been terrified to try someone new since then. The lady I got yesterday did a good enough job, but took forever. I'm not torn as to whether to stick with her or continue looking. I suppose I have some time to think about it...

Ok. Enough rambling. Go check out some other outfits at Fine Linen and Purple!

Friday, November 9, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Vol. 46)

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 188)

1) I read many articles after the election (as I'm sure we all did), and I think this article really got at the core of what needed to be said (or what I needed to hear). It made me reflect on my life in ways I never have before. Specifically when Matthew Warner quoted Blessed Teresa of Calcutta saying this:

“If you are discouraged it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own power. Your self-sufficiency, your selfishness and your intellectual pride will inhibit His coming to live in your heart because God cannot fill what is already full. It is as simple as that."

I had to read that quote several times for it to really sink in. Not because I didn't understand what she was trying to say, but because of my own selfish pride. I didn't want it to be true. But the more I read it the more I realized the truth in that statement. Not only was this true for my disappointment in the election, but in many other parts of my life as well. I have to remember that I am not in control and I shouldn't try to be. It's so hard to let go of all worldly attachments. This is a very challenging lesson to learn, indeed.

2) Last week was an emotional roller coaster for me. For whatever reason I was really fighting feeling blue. I think it started with being cooped up in the house for two days due to hurricane/superstorm Sandy. Then the sun never really came back out until Sunday - and that's where my mood stayed for the most part. It was such an off week for me.
I'm so thankful that Halloween was Wednesday because we were able to visit with some friends in the day and have some friends over for dinner and trick-or-treating that night. The boys were adorable in their little outfits and I really enjoyed watching Joseph trick-or-treat for the first time. The whole day lifted my spirits in the midst of a very difficult week.

3) This week has been a little crazy because Joseph just keeps learning new things. It isn't bad that he's learning new things, but he's certainly giving me a run for my money.
On Tuesday he figured out how to get into the drawer in my night stand and how to get into some of Will's regular clothing drawers. I, therefore, have had to find new places for things/keep a much closer eye on him while he's in our room.
Wednesday he figured out how to open the chip drawer - which had previously been too heavy for him to open (it's a double drawer and sticks a little). He has since broken two chip clips, but hasn't actually gotten into a bag of chips... *yet.* Then, later in the day on Wednesday he figured out that he can stick his hand into all the top drawers in the kitchen and pull stuff out. He's been taking full advantage of that new skill these past few days.
Thursday he figured out how to get out of his crib (boo!) and went aaaaall the way down the stairs backwards - an improvement from trying to scooch down them forwards (yay!).
What will today bring? The realization that he can push one of the kitchen chairs to the counter and have access to EVERYTHING? I dread that day.
He did this last week:

4) All these new abilities have me pondering exactly how much I should baby proof. I can't just lock up every. single. little. thing. in the house. But it's exhausting keeping the house in some semblance of order when he's constantly getting into things.

5) We were also planning on keeping him in a crib when the new baby comes, but now that he can get out of his crib I'm wondering if we should just go ahead and transition him to a "big boy bed." We've lowered his crib to the very lowest setting for now, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he figures out how to scale the crib by another four inches. Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on this one? Should we keep him in the crib, or move him to a "big boy bed"?

6) I got to have dinner with a friends from college last night. I haven't seen her since my wedding nearly three years ago, so it was really nice to see her and have a chance to catch up.

7) And last a preg pic. I have been really bad about keeping up with these. This one is from 26 weeks + 1 day. Next up - my date with the orange bottle of disgusting.

I hope everyone has a lovely Veteran's Day weekend! Now go visit Jen to check out more Quick Takes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Budgeting - Fixed Expenses

In my first post on budgeting I talked about why we (finally) decided we needed to come up with a budget. In this post I would like to share the first step we took in coming up with our budget: finding our fixed expenses.
Once Will and I realized we needed a budget we sat down and listed out all of our fixed expenses. We included all expenses that we could expect on a regular schedule whether it was monthly, bi-annually, annually, etc. Here is the list we came up with:

Faith Direct (a monthly donation to our parish)
Cardinal's Appeal (a monthly donation to our diocese)
Student Loans
Disability Insurance
Bar Dues
Will Cell Phone
Betsy Cell Phone (we're on different plans at the moment)
CFCA (we sponsor a young man in India through this agency)
Car Insurance

*These items are variable, but tend to be pretty similar or average out over time, so we simply listed the average cost per month for these two line items.

With this list in hand we were able to figure out our monthly expenditure for our fixed expenses.

We pay our car insurance bi-annually (it's cheaper that way if you can plan ahead!). So this expense doesn't come out of our bank account every month, but we were able to come up with how much money we need to set aside each month in order to have the money in our account when the bill comes every 6 months.

Our fixed expenses (theoretically) don't change on a month-to-month basis, so we were able to figure out how much money we had left to allot to our variable expenses.

For most people their fixed expenses represent the largest portion of their budget, so if you're spending beyond your means (aka - spending more money each month than you're taking in) cutting back on some of your fixed expenses is the best place to start.

Will and I have already discussed which items on this list we will cut when our budget becomes tighter (assuming we have more children). For us those include: cable and cutting down on our monthly contributions to savings or eliminating these contributions altogether (if that becomes necessary). We've also discussed possibly cutting back on our cell phones and getting a pay-as-you-go plan instead because we hardly ever use our cell phones anyway (we both already have the most basic plans available). But, we haven't done enough research on different phone plans to know if we would really save much money.

If you're not sure where to start with creating a budget for your family start by making a list of ALL of your fixed expenses. There are lots of software programs you can buy to help you track your spending, but we chose to just set up our own spreadsheet in Excel. Using Excel is fairly simple and, best of all, it's free!

Up next: Budgeting - Variable Expenses

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I Wore Sunday (#2)

What I Wore Sunday linkup

This Sunday I tried the layering thing again. I think I pulled it off a little better this week. Sorry about the lighting - I was on my own for picture taking and had to rely on Photo Booth + my kitchen counter for these.
with cardigan
without cardigan
Cardigan: "tulle" - I bought it a long time ago, but still wear it quite frequently.
Dress: New York & Company
Leggings: Motherhood Maternity
Shoes: they say "Classified" but I've also had them for a long time and don't remember exactly where I bought them

Thanks again to Fine Linen and Purple for the link-up. I'm finding this a great way to take some extra time and put a little more thought into my Sunday attire. Go check out the link-up for more Sunday outfits!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Our Little Giraffe

I bought this giraffe costume for Joseph to wear last year, but it was WAY too big. So he got to wear it this year. I'll keep from blabbering too much and just inundate you with pictures instead.
giraffe race car driver
enjoying the Halloween party
hangin' with his buds at an impromptu get together on Halloween
ready to trick-or-treat
Joseph's buddy, Julian, ready to trick-or-treat
so proud of putting the candy in his bag
walking with daddy to the next house
post trick-or-treating picture with mom
Happy Halloween and All Saint's Day, ya'll!