Official start of the holiday season...

Well Thanksgiving and Black Friday have come and gone... and the next thing to celebrate is Christmas, followed shortly after by Abby's birthday! My baby girl will be 2 years old exactly one month from today. Where has the time gone?!? 

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving.  Ours was great, even though Abby was sick and now we're ALL sick.  We left Wednesday night for my parents house and stayed until Saturday morning.  It was a vacation full of food, family, fun and even more food.

 Thursday morning Abby and her cousin Aiden played with their pillow pets while Grandmom got the turkey ready for the oven... yum!

 We took a walk out in the snow flurries to show Abby the lake.

She was tuckered out and took a nap... poor doll wasn't feeling well. :(

 This is my nephew, Shawn, definitely the happiest baby EVER.  I'll take a million just like him!

 Enjoying a movie with some snacks in their special chairs. :)

Coloring at Abby's new table... these two pretty much did everything together all weekend.

 Decorating turkey cookies! Great idea, Grandmom!

 I would have to say that the percentage of cookies eaten to cookies decorated was about 50/50. hehe. 

Roxie spent the long weekend at the dog hotel doing doggie day camp. It wore her out!

My mom made a delicious Thanksgiving dinner... a HUGE turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, noodles with mushrooms, onions and feta (my favorite), crescent rolls, cranberry sauce... the works! We also had a pumpkin cinnamon cake that I made, apple pie, pumpkin pie, brownies, cracker crunch and assorted other desserts. We all ate until we were stuffed and my mom sent us home with a ton of leftovers.  We sure had a lot to be thankful for this year and I pray that next year is just as amazing.


This weekend... was AWESOME!

What a fabulous weekend... relaxing, exciting, inspiring, faithful... I could just about explode with loving life right now.

Friday night we rearranged the living room in preparation for Christmas decorating... and after Abby went to bed (and Mike went out with some work friends) I couldn't resist pulling out the tree and setting it up all by myself.  I turned on some Christmas music, set up the tree, then sat in the comfy chair with all of the lights turned off except for the tree and just relaxed. It was sooo peaceful. Here is a picture of the tree that I took that night:

Just looking at this picture makes me feel peaceful all over again

Saturday morning Abby woke up bright and early and I followed her out into the living room to see her reaction... her jaw dropped, she slowly sunk to the floor and laid on her belly with her hands under her chin, staring at the tree and saying "Wow.... pretty!" over and over again. It was absolutely a perfect moment.
We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon decorating the house and taking a trip to Target to buy more decorations.  Abby was such a good helper and she loooves our newly decorated living room.

 I might just have a SMALL reindeer collection. lol. My mom gives me a new one for Christmas every year... this is the collection I've gathered throughout my life. <3

 We took a decorating break to watch The Grinch!

 My Nativity set... same one every year for as long as I can remember. I love it!

 Four stockings this year... had to include Roxie!

 A little elf REALLY enjoying decorating.

 So proud to pose by her tree

 We had a blast!

While we were in Christmas wonderland, Mike and his dad were hard at work out back tearing up boards and putting down new ones to begin the process of re-doing our deck.  It's going to be awesome when it's finished!  Later that afternoon Abby and I headed over to April's house to celebrate Gina and Aiden's birthdays.  It was a really nice party and it was great to see so many family members.  Abby had a blast playing with her cousins and I loved snuggling up with my nephew, Shawn.  I got some closure and healing from an issue that was bothering me... and I feel so much better not having anything weighing on my heart.

Today was another great day!  We started out on an AMAZING note when we became official members of our church.  We were called up on stage, introduced to the congregation, and everyone welcomed us and prayed over us. It was really powerful and beautiful and it feels great to have a church home. Abby did fantastic in the toddler room and I felt so great about leaving her there today, which was a relief, because she has had a tough time with it in the past.  She talked about "chuch" all day long and was really excited about it.

After church Abby and I took Roxie to get her nails cut and ran a few errands... then spent the rest of the day playing and snuggling on the couch together watching Christmas movies!

So all in all... AMAZING weekend leading into an amazing week! I'm very much looking forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.  I hope that everyone has a fantastic week!


Thankful Thursday

Today is another Thankful Thursday! We're only one week away from Thanksgiving, can you believe it?!
This week I'm thankful for:
*Our house... it's the perfect size for us, sturdy, warm and homey.
*Modern medicine... I'd be a mess without it!
*Facebook, message boards, email, the internet in general.
*The fact that we're putting up our Christmas decorations this weekend!!!!


Terrific Tuesday: "Oldies but Goodies"

Do you have someone in your life that no matter how long you go between visits, you can pick right up where you left off?  Someone that you know you can turn to at any point in your life, no matter what the situation is, and they'll be there for you?  Is there someone that you would be there for, unconditionally? I am fortunate and lucky enough to have THREE people that I can say this about.

Today I want to dedicate this Terrific Tuesday to three very special people in my life... years and states may have come between us, but I am blessed to still consider each of you among my best friends.

Jennifer Lancaster

Jen and I have been friends since we were pretty young... we met in middle school and spent pretty much every weekend together hanging out at one of our houses.  We became close with each others families and always had a blast together playing sports, dressing up and taking pictures, walking around the neighborhood, having sleepovers, sharing inside jokes, dreaming about boys, babysitting, cooking... we did everything together. Then one day in the beginning of high school Jen's parents announced that they were moving to Virginia.  It was sooo sad... but we continued to make an adventure of it and visited as much as we could.  We had fun exploring Jen's new VA neighborhood and she would also come back up here sometimes to see other old friends.  Over the years the visits became less frequent... and then stopped altogether... but I can still count on Jen to remember my birthday (and I remember hers), a random "thinking of you" text, a holiday message and congratulations on all of the big events in our lives.

Rebecca Cotterell (now Barnes!)

Becky and I became friends in High School.  We were both in honors classes and got along well right away.  We had a small core group of friends that we spent a lot of time with but we also hung out "just us" quite a bit.  I have great memories of spending time at Becky's house... playing Mario Kart, making word collages from pictures cut out of magazines, watching movies with dreamy Leonardo DiCaprio in them... lol. We loved each others families and were so comfortable spending time in each others homes. Becky was the voice of reason for me in a lot of situations. She has always been a hard worker and made good choices... and I'm so proud of how far this has gotten her in life! Becky has saved me from myself more times than I can count and has never been afraid to give you tough love and tell you how it is... and yet she somehow remains one of the sweetest women that I've ever known!  Becky  and I went away to different colleges after HS and now live in different states and don't get to see each other that often... but she remains someone that I truly love and adore.  Becky is one of those women that has that balance between career woman and homemaker that so many strive for. (How many lawyers do you know that make homemade holiday cards?) Becky always tries to make room for a visit when she's in town and is geniunely happy for me when good things come my way. (As I am for her!) I know that I can call her up on a whim and not only will she have the right thing to say, she'll probably teach me something as well. :)

Amanda Shumski

Amanda and I met when we were both assistant pre-k teachers at the same school.  We clicked right away and found each other hilarious. LOL! Initially we were not the BEST influences on each other... but we had a lot of fun making mistakes and through the years we have learned a lot and grown up a lot. A few years ago Amanda moved to North Carolina to start a family with her husband (at the time) and though they are no longer together, she is settled down there and has found the life she was looking for with her boyfriend.  Amanda is one of the most kind-hearted people that I know and she has always had a soft spot for children with special needs, which I think was God's way of preparing her for her true love.  Amanda and her boyfriend have an amazing blended family made up of Amanda and her two daughters and Chris and his daughter (who is autistic).  When Amanda was first becoming really involved in their lives, she jumped in with both feet and did a TON of research about autism diets, the best schools, anything she could to help make this little girls life the best it could be.  Their family flourished and I know that Amanda see's Chris' daughter as one of her own. Amanda and I have seen each other through some dark times and now that we're both in such AMAZING places in our lives, it's wonderful to still have each other to lean on and bounce ideas off of... we have so much in common, more than ever, with our children, families, faith and just daily life! 

So to Jen, Becky and Amanda... you guys are terrific and my life wouldn't be the same without you!!!!  


Happy Birthday, Aiden! (and weekend update)

Hello! I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend. :)

My little goofball enjoying an early morning breakfast of bananas, wheat toast and milk. :)

We had a great weekend and I hope that you did too!  Friday night we did our normal weekend cleaning because we knew we would be busy the rest of the weekend and wanted to get it over with... after that we just relaxed as a family.

Saturday was our nephew Aiden's fourth birthday party! (Well, his kid party... the family party is next weekend)  Abby had a blast playing with the other kids, snacking on some junk food, playing with Aiden's toys, and running around like a maniac with everyone else.

Happy Birthday, big boy! We love you to pieces!

We got him an origami book and some origami paper (my sister told me he's really into this) and a spelling game. We hope he loves them and the origami doesn't drive his mother TOO crazy. ;)

Yesterday was also a busy day for us as we had a new members class at our church! Abby got to play in the daycare with two older girls (probably 8 and 9) and she thought she was a total big kid.  She sat right down with them and ate her lunch, colored some pictures, played hide and seek on the playground, etc.  The girls told me when I picked her up that they had a blast with her and they loved helping her and playing with her. Good report from the teacher as well. :) This is promising, as she has been upset about going to the toddler room during church recently.  Hopefully this upcoming Sunday she'll be happy to go again. The class we attended was informative and enjoyable and time really went quickly.  As of this Sunday we'll officially be "sworn in" as members of Woodside Presbyterian Church. :)

I hope that everyone has a great week!


Very Late Weekend Wrap Up!

You may have noticed that this past Monday I didn't write my weekend wrap up like I normally do... it's because I was waiting to add pictures to it... but as you can see, that didn't happen... so I'm just giving up and posting it now because it's already NEXT weekend starting in about 7 hours for me. :)

This past weekend was busy, super fun, exhausting and rewarding.  Saturday night we had our Sing Star Party!

I'm a member of a website (http://www.houseparty.com/) where big companies choose to sponsor parties and members can apply to win the "party packs" upon agreement to host said party.  I applied for (and won) the Playstation Sing Star party pack!  This included two playstation move controllers, two microphones, a Sing Star Karaoke video game, a playstation eye (a camera), two cases of soda and a subway gift card.  They also sent along cups, napkins, magnets, score cards and some other party favors.  We (and everyone else who won the party pack) agreed to host a party on November 6th at 7pm, sponsored by Playstation and Houseparty.com.

Saturday evening we dropped of Roxie at the pet hotel and dropped off Abby at grandmom's house and prepared to party! It was a blast!! There were nine of us there and we had so much fun singing, dancing, eating, drinking, chatting and just goofing around.  I honestly don't think I've laughed so hard in YEARS.  I have an awesome group of friends, which definitely helps matters, so we were all perfectly comfortable looking like complete fools in front of each other. :) There was plenty of video and pictures taken, some of which I hope to eventually post on here. 

Sunday morning we all got to sleep in, as there were no morning services at church.  Woodside did not go to church last weekend... we went out into the community and WERE the church! (Here is a description from the church's site if you're interested in learning more: http://www.woodside-church.org/Articles/1000091860/Woodside_Presbyterian_Church/Serve/Woodside_Left_the.aspx) The service project that I chose was to do a worship service and visit with residents at ManorCare nursing home in Yardley, PA.  I read Psalm 139 and other members contributed other readings and we got to visit and have snacks with the residents.  I used to work at ManorCare (about ten years ago) and an extra special surprise for me was that a resident that I've known for years was still there and he remembered me! Here is a picture of us together:

Me with the fabulous Tommy!

This is normally where I would tell everyone to have a great week... but since it's already Friday again... I hope that you did have a great week and are looking forward to fun and relaxing weekends. :)


Thankful Thursday

Today is another Thankful Thursday!

Today I am thankful for:

*My amazing parents... even though they live almost 3 hours away, they still manage to be there for me (physically and emotionally) whenever I need them.  We are just as close as ever... although I do wish I could just "pop in" on them every once in a while.

*My also amazing in-laws... they are always there when we need them, always willing to lend a hand or a listening ear. Mike and I are truly blessed to BOTH have such amazing parents.

*My women's bible study group. I've only known these women for a few short weeks, but they have already added so much support and comfort to my life.  I love having other Christian women to learn with, learn from, share with, and be there for. <3

Something odd is happening...

God is trying to tell me something... at least I think he is! 

Psalm 139, a hymnic meditation on God's presence and omniscience has been following me around and popping up over and over again in my life. It speaks to me about the Holy Spirit being everywhere... that there is nowhere to hide from it... and praying for the "wicked people" in my life to be removed from my company.

1. I did a service project with my church this past weekend and volunteered to read scripture at a nursing home.  I was assigned to read Psalm 139.

2. I was listening to KLOVE and they referenced Psalm 139.

3. I changed the staion and "Wherever you will go" by The Calling was playing ... I heard the following lines:
In your heart, in your mind,
I'll stay with you for all time. 
If I could, then I would,
I'll go wherever you will go.
Way up high or down low,
I'll go wherever you will go.

4. My daily bible quote that pops up on my phone every day... yesterday was Psalm 139. 

5. Mike told me that yesterday on the car ride home Abby was talking about angels again... and she keeps repeating the line "angels watch me" from our nightly prayer.

It's to the point that it's getting bizarre! I want to share Psalm 139 with you today, and hopefully it will speak to you as well.


O LORD, you have searched me and you know me
You know when I sit and when I rise
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down
you are familiar with all my ways

Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD

You hem me in—behind and before
you have laid your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me
too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn
if I settle on the far side of the sea

even there your hand will guide me
your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

even the darkness will not be dark to you
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth

your eyes saw my unformed body
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake
I am still with you.

If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

They speak of you with evil intent
your adversaries misuse your name.

Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

I have nothing but hatred for them
I count them my enemies.

Search me, O God, and know my heart
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me
and lead me in the way everlasting.


Sweet story...

Possibly the sweetest little girl ever... 

I have been saying a nightly prayer with Abby to introduce the concepts of God, praying, etc.  We cuddle up in bed together (we cosleep) and just as she's relaxing to drift off we say this prayer together:

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
May angels watch me through the night,
and wake me with the morning light.

I say a line and then she repeats it, we give each other a kiss, and she falls asleep. Works like clockwork every night and has become a great part of our routine.

Yesterday she was playing with her dolls and animals and laying them all on their sides to go "night night" and I heard her whispering something to them... so I snuck a little closer to hear what she was saying and I heard her whisper "angels watch me" to each one, then give them a kiss and move on to the next one.

I melted into a puddle right then and there. I adore this child!


Thankful Thursday

This month I'll be replacing "What I Love Wednesday" with "Thankful Thursday" in honor of the beginning of the holiday season.

*I'm so thankful that I found my way back to Jesus and the difference that this has already made in my life and state of mind.

*I'm extremely thankful for my loving, hardworking and dedicated husband.

*I'm so very thankful for my amazing daughter... she makes me proud every single day.

*I'm thankful that Mike and I have jobs that pay the bills and afford us the ability to give our daughter not only what she needs, but some extras too.

*I'm thankful for our pup, Roxie, and all the joy and smiles that she brings to our family.


Terrific Tuesday: Sugarmamas and Sugarbabies!

I've briefly mentioned message boards before on this blog, but I didn't go into detail about just how important they are to me... especially my Sugarmamas.  When I found out I was pregnant with Abby back in April 2008, I stumbled upon a website called iVillage, which hosted a bunch of  information on pregnancy and a whole slew of messageboards, including one for women due when I was! It was called the December 2008 Expecting Club.  I registered my name and signed up... not having any clue how much this group would impact my entire life! We started off slowly, getting to know each other and sharing symptoms/hopes/dreams/ultrasound pics/belly pics/etc and before you know it, this group of women from all over the WORLD (we have members in Canada and Ireland!) knew each other on a first name basis and were even swapping phone numbers.  We've been there for each other through some of the greatest times in our lives (birthing our babies, buying new houses, marriages, etc) and some of the worst times in our lives (pregnancy loss, stillbirth, divorce, affairs, job loss, etc).  We eventually changed over to a "playgroup" (and branched off onto facebook and a new board) instead of an "expecting club" and we gained and lost a lot of members along the way, but the same core group is still around and the new women are pretty great too. ;)  These women are my heart and soul!  We have rallied for each other and supported each other in ways you wouldn't believe... we've fundraised to help families that needed operations, we've done gift exchanges, we've had multiple real life meet-ups, we've worn badges (or blinkies) supporting each other, and no matter what time of day or night you need someone... a Sugarmama WILL be there.  I've made AMAZING friends and am lucky enough to live near a toddler "hot spot" (ie. Sesame Place!) so when we had a meet-up this summer... I was able to attend and even host a BBQ at my house!  I've also had the fortune of meeting other Sugarmamas and Sugarbabies that couldn't attend the meet-ups, and I've talked to so many on the phone and through Skype that I consider them to be among my very best friends.  I care about thier families as if they were my own. A Sugarmama even made Abby's flower girl dress for our wedding! It is an understatement to say that we are a group of DIVERSE women... we come from all walks of life... young, older (nobody is old... hehe), wealthy, financially struggling, first time moms, moms of 6 or more!, military families, stay-at-home moms, working moms, single moms, lesbian moms, adoptive moms, birth moms, Christian moms, Jewish moms, moms of all denominations... but we're ALL moms and that is what gives us our strength.

 Two Sugarbabies getting to know each other at Sesame <3

 A bunch of Sugarbabies, Sugarmamas and even a couple Sugardaddies and Sugarpartners (Sugarwives? haha) at my house for a BBQ :)

Another Sugarmama meet-up!

I loved meeting all of these women that I've come to know so well through the years

I am so thankful and lucky to have this group of women in my life <3

These are the people that I run to when I'm struggling... they are the people that I want to share my good news with... they are the women that I ask for advice, recipes, information, and sometimes just a shoulder to lean on.  The Sugarmamas are TERRIFIC!!!


Halloween Weekend!

Well Halloween weekend has finally come and gone... and we had a blast! Friday night my dad came and we all went out to dinner w/ him and a couple of his good friends.  We went to Langhorne Ale House.  The food was delicious and the company was great. :) After dinner my dad stayed over at our house and we opened up the package that we received from Playstation/Houseparty earlier that day.  (I won a contest and we get to have a "Sing Star Dance" Karaoke party next weekend... more about that at a later date.) The men had fun playing some sports games with our new Playstation Move controllers and then Abby and I sang and danced to some Paula Abdul. LOL.

Saturday morning my whole family arrived (my mom, Erica and her boys) and we had some family bonding time before getting ready to head out to our first Halloween party!

Here is my little sheep!

Big thanks to our gracious hostess, Erica Cook, for inviting us to her Halloween bash.  Abby had a blast and it was so fun seeing her actually participating in "big kid" activities.

 There was pumpking painting...

 Bobbing for apples...

 She did give it a shot... but ended up just grabbing an apple with her hands. :)

Abby lined up with the big kids to play a Halloween game...

Playing with her cousin, Aiden before exploring the outdoor "graveyard" play area.

After the party we ended up playing outside at home and refusing to nap until 5:20!  She woke up from that nap at 8:20 and went right back down to sleep for the night at 9:30.  We were supposed to go to another Halloween party, but with Abby's crazy nap schedule and Mike working late, we never did make it there.

Sunday was a busy day as well... we did some cleaning, spent some more time outside, dropped off cupcakes at church for today's blood drive... and before we knew it, it was time to get ready for Trick or Treating!!!  Our first stop was my MIL and FIL's house to meet up with SIL and her family.  Abby got to do a little trick or treating with her cousins, Jack and Adam.

Ringing some doorbells with Jack (Ironman) and Adam (Mario)

Here dad, hold this for me! It's getting heavy!
She did an awesome job saying "Trick or Treat", "Wank you" (her version of thank you) and "Appy Halloween!" at almost every house.

After spending some time with her cousins we headed over to Abby's favorite teenage babysitter (and my cousin), Samantha's house! It was so nice to see everyone (and meet Sam's boyfriend!) and Abby had a blast playing with their dog, Tica.  After wishing them a happy Halloween we ended our night with a trip to my BFF Michelle's house where they had two special candy bars waiting just for Abby. :)  Abby had a FANTASTIC Halloween...

...and ended the night with a huge haul to show for it. :)

I hope that everyone had a great Halloween weekend and is getting ready to dive right into Thanksgiving and the start of the Holiday Season! So exciting!!!!