Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013- A Year in Review!

How the heck is 2013 over? Doesn't it seem like just yesterday it was 2012?!
In all seriousness, these are some of my favorite posts to write even if they always make me cry.  If you're new here, sit back and get to know me a bit. If you've been around awhile, laugh with me as I look back on the highs and lows- which lets face it are always funnier- of 2013!
January- Ringing in the new year allowed me to share the toys a 1.5 year old loved for Christmas, as well as some of my many Mom Fails.  I received many words of encouragement for that post, and it let me know that I am not alone in feeling like the worst parent in the world from time to time.  January was also the month I received the most overwhelming amount of support when a nasty anonymous commenter left a heinous comment about Grayson. I responded with Dear anonymous, because no one should ever attack someone else's child behind the veil of anonymity. Overall though, January kicked butt. I did a few DIY projects, spent time with the two loves of my life and I told Emmitt Smith to stop whining on the Anderson Cooper show. Life=complete.
February- Superbowl Sunday calls for awesome snacks, which is why I made these BBQ Chicken Crescent Rolls, which are still a quick dinner night favorite. I also shared one of my personal favorite DIY tricks to get rid of the bathroom nasties. You know what I'm talking about, that crud that forms in the grout around the tub no matter how hard you scrub. Who knew that getting rid of it would be so easy, or cheap. I also kept up the Mom Fails by talking about the things I never imagined I would have to say, although now I know that these were only the beginning.  Keeping the food coma up, I shared my favorite sloppy joe recipe and some adorable pictures of a kid in a desk chair.  Another February high? A friend got married and I got to party with these beautiful ladies!
March- In March I officially had a one and a half year old. I chronicled the day with a Day in the Life of Grayson where I followed him around and took pictures of what his life was really like on the day he turned 18 months old.  To help beat the winter blahs and prepare for summer fun, I shared a list of fun things to do with kiddos in Pittsburgh.  I had a few more tips and ticks to share, and I posted the recipe for the only fried rice my picky husband will eat.  Easter was also in March this year, making for a SUPER LONG stretch between Christmas and Spring Break for this teacher momma.
April- They say April showers bring May flowers, but all I know is that it brings out the crazy we cant be in the house no more feelings around here.  It even made the hubs crazy enough to blog, when he shared secrets about his wife.  I shared the way I DIY'ed the superhero cutouts for Grayson's first birthday...only six months after the party, so that's not too bad, right? I also took some pictures of the crazy toddler playing with the non-toys that he considers more fun that the real ones.
May- HELLO SPRING! Once again, the hubs ran the half marathon (and once again, I ate doughnuts). Only this year Grayson decided to get a stomach bug as I was trapped downtown until Patrick and his Mom were done running. Yeah, that was fun. I think next year I'd rather run the race than go through that again.  After learning such a life lesson, it was only natural to share what motherhood has taught me so far the only way I know how, with humor and sarcasm. We touched some trucks, celebrated Mothers Day, and taught Grayson that he has the most awesome parents in the world because we went to see and ride on Thomas the Train.  Trust me if you're two, this is a much bigger deal.
June- Mommy was officially on summer vacation and that meant it was time for the list of things to accomplish this summer. Im glad to say we made it through most of these things, which makes me feel better for letting some things just fall off the wagon. I opened up and admitted my child needed some help in the speech department when I shared A Child of Few Words, and so many of you came forth with similar stories and successes.  I don't know if you all will ever know how much those stories meant to me, as I was sitting here in the lowest of parenting lows.  Thank each and every one of you for those sweet words. We also hit up Idlewild, which was on our bucket list for like the past five years, so it was really about time.  We also built an awesome swingset, which I realized I never blogged about. Woops.
Don't freak out- the Grandfather just jumped out of the picture, Grayson wasn't up there by himself. My Dad is a bit camera shy!
July- I started the month with sharing my beach essentials for a toddler, because I love to see what is in someone else's bag. I made lazy spaghetti meatballs, which are fantastic and I want to make them again right now. Then I took you on a room by room tour and shared the house bucket list. I'm glad to say that since then we've taken a few ticks off of the list, and added some more. Crap. I wrote some amazingly sarcastic Friday Letters, linked up with a few amazing ladies, and we hit the road for our first big family beach vacation.  (I didn't get the post up on the trip until August, but humor me on this one!)
August- That meant it was almost time to go back to school. After seeing countless people on facebook/twitter that I will refer to as jerk faces complain how easy teachers have it I decided to share what my life really is like as a teacher. I also talked the insane-ness that are toddler mood swings. Yikes. Not wanting to only think my child was a three headed monster which lets face it, they can be when those mood swings strike, I wrote about toddler moments I want to remember. So that I could remember his sweet face when he gives snuggles, rather than the crazy toddler wildabeast who ripped curtains off of my front door while I was on the phone. True story!  We were also in full fledged birthday party prep around here, Thomas the Train Style, prepping for a certain guy to turn Two.
September- Mommy was back to work but birthday plans were still in full swing. We celebrated our boy turning two without the need for sedative meds (HOWWW do I have a TWO year old?!!), and had a blast. I shared what it looks like to be a Mom (sans the Mom jeans, of course), and three books that I actually thought were worth reading. I let you in on how we manage to not eat out five plus times a week by meal planning, and answered some of the best random questions out there.
October- The month of two of my favorite things, our third wedding anniversary and Halloween! I participated in my first #TBT with a little gem from high school. We hit up the pumpkin patch, got our 32 pound pumkin and even picked some of the most delish apples ever. Then we had to go see the Duck, because when a 40 foot rubber duck comes to town you cant NOT go see it. I had a few confessions after hearing an Usher song on the radio that made me laugh out loud.
November- the sugar high wore off and I got my Halloween recap up, as well as the pumpkin carving pictures. I shared how I make parmesan crusted chicken fingers, a favorite meal around here. I got the birthday party recap up for the big Thomas the Train Party, and shared some details on the DIY elements.

December- Well I sucked at blogging this month. I got the tree hunt post up, then showed the tree all decorated. I shared ideas on what a toddler would love to receive for Christmas, and the Christmas Recap.  I had every intention to post a favorite Christmas cookie recipe and some cool Christmas crafts that we did, but I just didn't get around to it!
Oh well, there's always next year, right?!
Hope your 2013 was amazing, and if you do a year in review post it in the comments so I can check it out!
Happy New Year, Lovelies!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

Christmas this year was officially fun.  We saw Ho Ho (that's the big guy's name around here), we were excited, we opened presents and now I can not seem to find my house under the virtual toys r us we have going on around here. Seriously, as he opened presents I stuck most of them right into the closet for a cold bored day in February- and I still have no room.  Today is officially build a toy storage system day around these parts- hope the hubs is ready, because I can not go back to work with the house looking like this.
Christmas around here is usually a marathon, and not a sprint. We spend Christmas Eve with my MIL's family, then wake up Christmas morning at our house, then hit my Moms, then my Dads, then My Grandmas, followed by my FIL's family.  This year, we broke it up a bit to allow more time at each house and it was glorious.
Christmas Eve Day we went to see my Dad and my Grandma, and it was so much nicer being able to spend a few hours playing (rather than 1 hour tops!).
This picture makes me so happy, Grandma does NOT like her picture being taken so you usually get the hand.

Later on we headed over to see the MIL's family, and the Elves delivered our early present there. 

Yep, just toss those perfectly chosen personalized jammies to the side to get to the book. I see how it is, kid.

Then it was home to set out cookies and milk for Ho Ho.

Trying out the adorable Pumpkin Butter Kids Jams after our Christmas bath (complete with red water and baking soda "snow balls" for the water, because I am insane).

A reading of the Night Before Christmas.

I would like to point out that we took maybe 20 pictures while I was reading, most of them were of Grayson using Mommy as a jungle gym. Grayson climbing over my back, standing on my butt and falling over, running around like a crazy person, jumping back on Mommy was the reality.  
But when it was time to read a book with Pap? Laid perfectly still.

Once the bean was asleep, it was time to play Santa!

Ho Ho footprints :)

All ready and waiting for Grayson to wake up!
Taking his first look at the presents.

Coming down the stairs saying "Ho Ho!"

A little Mommy bedhead as we open stockings.

Realizing Ho Ho had eaten the cookies and milk and left footprints.

Now, let me at those toys!
Daddy Mooches.

Grandma Gong has a whole table devoted to choo choos. He was enamored.

Seriously, he barely left this chair all night. And Pap in the back there was more than happy to play conductor, making the trains go fast at every request. 

Merry Christmas, lovelies! Hope your day was as full of fun as ours! Now seriously, who's coming to help me figure out where to put all of these toys?!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

That is one big tree!

This may be the biggest tree we have ever purchased.
An easy 10 feet tall with a circumference at the bottom of a whopping 22 feet, I give you the 2014 K Family Christmas Tree.  Or as it is affectionately called around here, Shamu 4.0.
We always get a big tree, but this guy is by far our biggest.
He also has about 1400 lights on him, which give off the prettiest glow in the foyer.
Not only is this our biggest tree, but it is also by far the most annoying. We had to re-string the lights three times (first there was not enough lights, then we bought more and one burned out so we had to replace it because of course it was the one in the middle) and the branches are incredibly soft and don't really hold onto ornaments all that well. But he sure does look nice!

Why yes, that is a drunk Irishman dancer nestled next to Dorothy's Ruby Slipper.
That's how we roll in this house :)
2010, 2011, 2012
They just keep getting bigger!
So tell me lovelies, how big is your tree? I need someone out there to let me know we're not the only Christmas Crazies!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Toddler Gift Guide

A few people have emailed asking me what is on the Toddler's wish list this year for Santa. So I figured since I'm sick in bed with a horrible cold I can whip up a little gift guide for all of the 2-3 year olds out there.  I've been asking Grayson for awhile now what he wants Santa to bring him, going through toy catalogs when they come in the mail.  He wasn't very into it at first, but we've been talking up the jolly red guy- and now he'll point to something and say  "Ho Ho" to let us know that he wants Santa to bring him this.  Mostly all he's picked out are Thomas Trains or Chuggington, but there are a few other items that Ho Ho will be bringing this year.

1. Melissa and Doug Art easel- Grayson loves to paint, color and draw.  When we go to the Children's Museum we cant get him out of the create space, so this was number one on Santa's list. We wanted him to have his own space where he knew he could make art, without it being on my floor or walls. He will also be receiving the paint cups, brushes, crayons, paper and smock to go along with this cool present.
2. Step2 Cozy Kitchen- In order to get Grayson talking more and trying more foods a speech therapist friend of mine suggested a play kitchen.  He has a play grill and he does like playing with that, so I figured what the heck.  However, since I wasn't sure if he would LOVE one, I didn't want to spend a lot or purchase a monstrosity.  This small guy was just the trick. I saw it on lightning deal not too long ago for $38, and of course it sold out instantly.  Luckily, Toys R Us price matched on their website and when I was in the store and I showed them the price online they price matched it in-store as well. Nana got him some play food to go along with it, so hopefully he'll love it.
3. Chuggington StackTrack Brewster's Big City Adventure- no surprise here that the toddler is train obsessed. We have Thomas and Chuggington sets, and he likes the Chuggington because they have ramps and he can race trains down. The die cast Chuggers are held together with kind of a ball/clamp mechanism that keeps them together on the crazy track. I love that these sets break down and set up quick, and can be stored easily.
4. Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair-  Oh Pottery Barn, how I love thee.  These chairs are cute, easy to move, easy to clean and not ugly. Win!
5. Fisher Price Wheelies Loops N Swoops Amusement Park- We purchased a similar toy last year, the Wheelies Stand and Play Rampway, and Grayson loves it. He enjoys making the cars race, so I know he'll get a kick out of them going upside down.  His stocking may or may not also contain a few extra Wheelies as well, because they are just so stinking cute. I also think they are a little easier for two year old hands to use than say a matchbox car, because they're chunkier and easier to hold and push.
6. Chuggington StackTrack Wilson Carry Case- Because all of those action Chuggers have to go somewhere, right? This little box has a lot of storage for trains and keeps them all neat and not under my feet. Nothing feels quite like finding a well placed choo choo train with your foot! Hopefully this box will help keep all of the choo choos that Ho Ho will be stuffing in his stocking nice and neat.
7. Tonka Steel Dump Truck- This toy is all from hubs. He had these as a kid, and now he wants to start Grayson a collection.  I have a feeling these will be super fun outside in the backyard moving mulch and dirt around the yard with Daddy.
8. Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site Magnetic Characters-  We are obsessed with this book, so I knew when I saw this at Marshalls a few weeks ago that he would love it. The magnetic pieces can be driven on the pages, so its a perfect toy for the car or for when we are waiting at restaurants.  Plus he can work on his digger noises as we play, because there is nothing better than hearing diggggrrrr diggggrrrr coming from his little mouth.
What is on your little ones wish list for Ho Ho this year?

Monday, December 9, 2013

More is always better at Christmas (and Cottonelle Cash Giveaway!)!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cottonelle.
It goes without saying that at Christmastime around here, more is always better. For example,  the 11 foot Christmas tree we carted home, even though our ceilings are only 10 feet tall. Need more proof, how about the 4,000 white lights we then crammed onto the tree?  Still not convinced, how about the roughly 10,000 lights that adorn our front porch and dance and sing to music? Christmas cheer in excess is never a bad thing around here.
We bake cookies, decorate the house, put up three trees, leave neighbor gifts on the porches of our favorites, have breakfast with Santa, drive to see Christmas lights and spend time searching for the perfect presents for everyone. Last year I may have even pretended to be a reindeer with a few colleagues and pranced in front of the entire student body while pulling a principal dressed as Santa singing our own version of the twelve days of Christmas.  
When people see our house and tree they always ask if I know I married Clark Griswold. I am aware, and I may even encourage him from time to time, because Christmas is just so magical and a little more Christmas never hurt anyone.
As he was pulling the tree up the hill and was slipping, he was reciting this line from Christmas Vacation- I kid you not.
Yep, he's Clark alright.
But the one thing I would LOVE to have 25% more of this holiday season? Time. Each day I make my to do list and there is always something I just do not get to. This weekend I had it on the list to decorate the tree, the house, bake cookies and get our Christmas cards made and addressed. Well of course we got the tree up and the lights and ornaments on, only for the 300 count strand in the MIDDLE OF THE TREE to go out. There went three hours of my life, un-decorating, heading off to buy a new strand of lights and then re-decorating the tree that I had already spent four hours decorating. (I told you, the thing is a beast.)
Even if I didn't need the 25% more time to get things checked off of my to-do list, I would love to have more time to just hang out with the crazy toddler and just enjoy him enjoying life. He's a pretty awesome tiny human, and amidst the crazy of things that need to get done I don't get to enjoy that enough. 
No matter what you wish for more of this holiday season, its easy to see that 25% more of anything can make a big impact. More is always better. More time, more money, more love- its a win win.
You know what else is a win-win? Cottonelle!
When I say I want more time around the holidays it makes sense that I don't have time to be running out to the store every few days to stock up on essentials- like t.p.  Cottonelle Clean Care makes it easy by having 25% more sheets per roll than the competition- meaning it will last longer and keep everyone in the house happier.  The toddler loves to pull some off of the roll and pretend to blow his nose in it, just so he can toss it in the potty and flush it down (which is apparently thrilling when you are two).  I don't need to worry, because with 25% more I know that there is always enough on the roll to last through a few fake sneezes.

Another awesome thing about Cottonelle? They are working with some awesome bloggers and  giving away some serious cash this holiday! One winner (from all 30 giveaways) will be selected daily to receive a $500 American Express gift card for themselves AND for a charity of their choosing!!! The giveaway will be open Monday December 9th  and end Friday December 20th. All winners will be announced daily on the SITS Girls facebook page.  You can also follow the conversation on twitter #Moreisbetter!

So what are you waiting for- enter today and tell me in the comments, what would you like 25% more of this holiday season?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cottonelle.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas Tree Hunt 2013

Where the heck is this month going? It is flying by, that's for sure! Things around here have been so crazy with attempting to redo a bathroom, getting ready for Christmas and my big girl job. One of the things that was a priority when I was on Thanksgiving Break was definitely getting the Christmas tree.  We go every year with the hub's family, and its easily one of my favorite things about the holiday season. 

It was about 40 degrees when we went out, so it wasn't too bad. There was about three inches of snow, so it kept the ground from being a mud pit, which is always a plus.

One of the things I am most thankful for are the two ladies in this picture. I totally blame them for spurring on the crazy Christmas obsession in this house, and I'm not complaining about that one bit.  They also share my love of Mexican food- which makes them even more perfect.


Taking pictures of her cutting down her tree- the hubs is such a good helper. If looks could kill hubs, you'd be dead.

If you saw my instagram picture earlier you know, its a large tree. It was probably around 11 feet when we cut it down. The toddler picked it, the hubs seconded, Momma was outvoted.

Meet Shamu 4.0, the K family Christmas tree!

Dada! Tree over! No!

Why do we always find a tree at the bottom of the big hill?

Even after ten years, those eyes still get me.

Pictures with toddlers are tough.
Now, the tree is in the stand, all that's left is to decorate it!