Nov 26, 2012

Say a Little Prayer For Kitty Sticks - Baltimore, MD. - November 2012

For the last couple of weeks, we noticed some changes in our kitty cat's weight and behavior. She was hardly getting up to do anything but she was still purring and drinking small amounts of water. We thought she had a bug of some kind or a really bad hair ball, but after several bad days and no improvement, yesterday we took her to the veterinarian.

After an x-ray and several tests they found she did not have any g.i. obstructions, but she was very dehydrated and in acute kidney failure.

They put her on fluids and antibiotics and kept her over night. 
If you have a minute to say a quick little prayer for our Kitty Sticks that would be great! She is a sick little kitty and we love her very much!!!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 25, 2012

Layers of Thanks - Baltimore, MD. - November 2012

On a day where we can so often get lost in the preparation...

The perfect table - Su Casa Baltimore
The perfect runner - Pottery Barn
The perfect place mats - Su Casa Baltimore
The perfect dishes - Sams Club
The perfect flatware - Bliss Knoxville, TN.
The perfect finishing touches 
The perfect food;
Twice baked sweet potatoes, salad, and...
The PERFECT deer tenderloin in a cranberry-port reduction sauce (courtesy of the HUB and his mad hunting skills)

We can't forget what and who we are truly thankful for;

A beautiful day!
This little ladies first time eating meat provided by the hands and feet of her daddy.
And her RAVING review!!!


Happy Thanksgiving!!!


Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 18, 2012

Do You Shop Zappos? - Baltimore, MD./ Las Vegas, NV. - November 2012

NOTE TO READER: Let me start by saying I am getting NOTHING to write this blog post. No contest, no commission, no discounts, no freebies. With that out of the way, I'll get right to the point.
I LOVE ZAPPOS!!!
I discovered this online shopping wonderland about 4 years ago when I found THESE beauties!

I've trusted them with my work shoes, and when I ordered them a half size too small they sent me the new size, overnight, no additional charge, so I could start work with the correct size shoes.

And then last Christmas The Hub and I got each other backpacks.

Over the last 4 years we've gotten winter coats and several other odds and ends and always been impressed by the speed and service.

However in the last week my opinion of Zappos as gone from impressed to floored when a couple of days ago I received THIS.
A hand written thank you note from Autumn, the customer service representative based in their headquarters in Henderson, NV, just outside Las Vegas, that helped me with a warranty exchange a few days before. She also included little gifts for our girls.

You can check out more about their company HERE on Wikipedia, I'm not going to bog you down with all the details, but know that this company doesn't just treat it's customers right, they take care of their employees as well. According to Fortune magazine they were # 11 on the "Best Companies to Work for" list in 2012.

In our 30 or so minute conversation, which felt like I was talking to a long time friend, we shopped for a new backpack to replace the one I'd receiver 11 & 1/2 months before. She laughed at my silly little girls as they giggled and played beside me as we talked. She shared with me that it was the best place she'd ever worked and that although she didn't, they could wear pajamas to work.

Their comfortable work culture is visible in this CBS Story

And also here on Nightline

And in the countless Homemade YouTube videos they are encouraged to make and post. as well as in these super funny commercials.

Emotionally Ready

Jessie

To get you in the holiday spirit - Santa Pants

And my Personal favorite - Deep Fryer

The more I've researched this company the more I like them. With my background being in training I was pleasantly surprised to learn that after a 4 week customer loyalty training program, which includes at least 2 weeks of talking on the phone with customers in the call center, each new employee is offered $2,000 to quit. only 3% of new hires take the deal leaving behind a fiercely loyal team ready to help you with anything, from choosing the right color shoe to wear under the drape of your wedding dress to finding the closest late night pizza delivery place (TRUE STORY).

There are moments when you go from being a loyal customer to a customer for life and this has been one of them. Happy Zappos Shopping!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Nov 12, 2012

Fall Fun - Baltimore, MD. October 2012

Note To Reader: I literally have about 15 posts in "draft" right now and am working to get them out over the next couple of weeks. A few things are occupying my time (posts to come on those soon) but mainly it's that MJ is CRAWLING!!! And E has taken it upon herself to shorten her daily nap. We're working at having quiet time, but when those girls get together there's a lot of laughing and not much sleeping. I LOVE having two girls so close in age and pray that they are close friends always.
***
This year we ventured into the land of fall festivals and pumpkin patches. And I have to say, while I've never really been a "fall"sort of girl, I can definitely see how it'd be easy to "fall" in love with this season as I watch my little girls play in the beauty of autumn.

Irvine Nature Center had a Fall festival that was too inviting to pass up. We met a friend there and had a great time. It was E and MJ's first encounter with a pumpkin, up close and personal.

E loved every bit of picking her pumpkin... 
and MJ's too!
MJ wasn't sure what to make of them...
But with E by her side she'll try anything!
I also discovered that E is pretty much fearless when it comes to giant mascot type animals. This owl was making the rounds throughout the day and if she saw him she RAN to him!
NO FEAR!!!
***
We also took a short day trip with our good friend Annie and her three kids to visit Weber Cider Mill. This place was AWESOME!!! 

There was a kid size tractor ride.
A hay ride with E's best friend Joe (More to come on this).
And a MASSIVE cloth sack slide... 
I'm contemplating installing one of these in our back yard it was so fun!
We ate a picnic lunch with good friends and by the end of the day I had to very tired but happy little ladies.
Thanks Annie for lunch and a GREAT day!

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 27, 2012

Summer Friends - Baltimore, MD - Summer 2012

Over the summer we've had the extreme pleasure of becoming friends with two very special people.

Kristen...

And her sweet little girl.
(The cutie pie on the right.)

We did a lot of swimming and met up a bunch at our near by nature center.

Did lots of baking.

Became ball popper pros!
They even let a certain little sister get in on the fun.

There was even a little time for some "Mickey Mouse Club House".

Unfortunately, the circumstances that brought them into our life have just as quickly taken them back to their home.

For the last week, every time we've gotten in the car E has repeated the same 2 words "See Halle"? I know she doesn't understand when I say that Halle has gone back to her home, in snother town, in another state, and we can't see her anymore. She just say "See Halle, please Mammy".

It's one thing to know you'll be somewhere for 3 months, or a few years and then move, but now, I'm not the only one making friends.

It was such a blessing to have them in our lives over the summer and I hope we remain more than just Christmas card friends.Thanks for a wonderful summer!

WE MISS YOU KRISTEN AND HALLE!!!

TIll next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 16, 2012

Welcome to the Family - Baltimore, MD. - October 2012

With two children, two cats, and two adults, 8 year old Eureka just wasn't getting the job done.  So, we recently made the leap into grown up cleaning products and welcomed two new members to our family.  And let me just say that these two have made cleaning an "experience"!

Meet Hoover (steamer).and Dyson (vac)
Kicking Ass (and other unmentionable or unknown substances) and taking names!

Till Next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 6, 2012

Good Bye Dr. Martens - Baltimore, MD. - October 2012

In 1999 I was in college at the University of Tennessee. There was a small "emo" boutique down on the strip that sold all manner of strange things; from tie die T-shirts to vinyl records. They also sold Dr. Martens. I'd wanted a pair since my freshman year in high school but there was no way we could spend a hundred dollars on shoes. Payless knock offs would have to do.

Fast forward 5 years and there I was with an on campus job, a scholarship, a little bit of extra money each month, and the still fresh dream of owning a pair of those chunky leather shoes. The buckles made a distinct little tinkling clunk when i walked. You could tell my mood by my "Dr. Marten walk". They were perfect! 
I saved for 4 months, which is an eternity for a college kid, and visited my shoes each week. Finally in mid December just before Christmas break I went down, cash in pocket and bought these shoes.

I think they were just over a hundred dollars. I remember walking in and telling the clerk I'd like them in a 5 and 1/2 please, He disappeared into the back and returned a few minutes later with the familiar box in hand. I slipped them on and felt a little giddy. I even asked if I could wear them out, not caring that it was in the lower 40s. I wore these shoes EVERYWHERE. They took me up and down The Hill, to football games, and all over France in 2001 and although I don't wear them as much these days, I still bust them out each summer and they remind me of college every time I put them on. I love these shoes!

Now, almost 13 years later, they've finally walked their last mile. They are literally falling apart.
So it's time to say good bye. It's been great walking with you!
The good news is I've got my eye on a new pair, less chunk and a little more girl.
Till next time,
Bon Voyage!

Oct 3, 2012

Oct 2, 2012

Cooking With E: Applesauce - Baltimore, MD. - October 2012

A couple of weekends ago we took a day trip to a local "Pick it Yourself" farm. The main goal was to find apples but we also got tomatoes and supplies for peeling and canning.

To be completely honest, I'm not the best of cooks. I like to cook with a recipe and play it safe. The Hub on the other hand is WAY more free form. I think my main problem is that I'm not all that comfortable in the kitchen, so just like when I go to a place I've never been, I like to have a map and DO NOT like surprises.

Note To Reader: Surprises for my birthdays, Christmas, Mother's Day, and any other special occasion are perfectly acceptable!

All this to say I would love for my girls to be comfortable in the kitchen and I think the way to do that is to start at a young age and keep it fun! I also agree with my good friend Annie in that I want them to know where their food comes from. So here's our journey into "applesauce".

We started the picking day with tomatoes and she REALLY love that because they were right at her level.
.
She loved spending time with daddy!
The cherry tomatoes were her favorite.
By the time we got to the apple orchard E was so tired she decided it was better to be a passenger. With 27 lbs of apples and two kids we neglected to take any pictures of the actual apple picking (and eating).

Back at home we imediately put this new toy to work E loved turning the crank...
and much to my surprise was actually pretty good at it.
All of this while little sister cheered her on.
After all the apples were peeled and cored, we filled the crock pot to the very top (about 18 apples), put it on high, and let them cook for about 7 hours. When they were finished cooking down I mashed them with an old school masher and we gobbled it up. This was by far the BEST applesauce I've ever had.
I promise next time I'll take more pictures because I LOVE cooking with this little lady!
(Thanks Megan for the "applesauce road map"!)

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!


Oct 1, 2012

Part 2: MJ's Arrival! - Baltimore, MD. - February 2012

The story of MJ's arrival wouldn't be complete without recounting our hospital stay. I'll skip the details of foley catheters, pain killer induced paranoia, a liquid diet, and a few of the other unmentionables of the aftermath of childbirth, natural or surgical, and skip to the fun stuff.

First off we LOVE our peds group!!!  They came every day and were so gentle and loving to our sweet baby girl.  They didn't make me feel silly asking questions and gave us wonderful advice on how to help E with the transition to "big sister ".
(Dr. G. checking MJ without even waking her up.  Impressive)

This time it was fun to have a few visitors to welcome this little lady into the world,.  On day one MJ got her first visitor when Megan came by after work.
(Megan and MJ)

And on day two, Katie brought a yummy lunch from Einstein's Bagles!
(Katie and MJ)

And as one of the perks of being a hospital employee, on our final night in the hospital we enjoyed a fancy dinner brought to my room.
We dined on Lobster Tails and Ribs...
While MJ slept a few feet away.

One thing we did differently this time was that after the first night, the Hub and I decided that it'd be best for E to spend nights in her own bed so at the end of each day he picked her up from Katie's and took her home.  This gave them some really good one on one time and it gave me a chance to decompress and process every thing that had happened.  I took advantage of the nursery every night so that I could rest.

These 2 didn't actually meet until we came home because E was under 2 years old and it was flu season but when she held her for the first time I think she realized on some level that her world would never be the same.

Looking back, although there were major ups and downs, our hospital stay was good.  Thanks to a brand new food service program, the food was wonderful!!! 

I know this may sound strange, but it was nice to be "taken care of".  food brought to me, water at the push of a button, someone to make the bed while I was in the shower, it was nice.  There is an acceptable amount of fear that comes with being a new mom and adding another little one to your family.  Having people there to bounce questions off of and cheer you on feels good, especially if your family doesn't live close by and isn't able to come into town to help.  I take away a new found LOVE of Lorna Doones shortbread cookies and an EVEN DEEPER LOVE of these two.

Till next time,
Bon Voyage!