Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas Traditions

For as long as I can remember, its been a dream of mine to have my own family. I can just picture us gathered around a big kitchen table, eating wonderful food, talking, and sharing memories and traditions. I was talking with a good friend of mine recently about this deep drive I have for family traditions and wondering why that was and where it came from.

This good friend, we will just call her Bestie T, is so wise.  At least when it comes to me and getting into my head.  She said that she felt a similar urge and that she thought it had something to do with her childhood being a bit rocky.  She lost someone very close to her at a young age causing quite an upheaval in her life and things were never quite the same.  They weren't stable.  She wondered if I could feel the same urge that she did to make the most stable and close knit, indestructable family possible.

Let's just say I think she is on to something.  My parents divorced when I was very young, and while I feel certain they wouldn't want me sharing the details of that divorce with the world, I will try to share a little of my perspective.  Divorce is incredibly hard on kids, everyone knows that.  People tell parents to act unselfishly and think of their kids.  And yet, our parents are just people... normal, flawed, and in this case, heart broken people.  I see that now as an adult and a parent myself.  Most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, but guided by love (and survival instinct I guess!) I make it up as a I go along and pray that what I'm doing is right.  So, I'm sure that my parents love me and felt that what they were doing was right.  But hearing one parent speak ill of the other hurts.  Always being shuttled back and forth and missing your mother hurts.  Feeling torn because any comment you make might come across as seeming to loyal to the other parent and therefore disparaging to the one you're with tears a child up inside. 

I think having family traditions is so important to me because I always want my children to feel safe and secure.  I want them to know what's coming and to look forward to holidays, not dread them.  I want my children to have a place in a family and a home that they will hopefully be strong enough to leave someday, but know will always be there if they should need to come back to it. 

I've come to realize through some self-reflection after the conversation with Bestie T, that traditions won't make or break a holiday or my goals for my family.  They are nice, but you shouldn't push them.  I'm pretty sure that traditions that are worth having will happen to us organically over time. 

With that being said, I've done a couple of things this year that I hope will become traditions in our family.  The first is something that's just fun.  Amanda over at Dixie Delights had the most wonderful idea of making a hot cocoa station and I just couldn't resist creating one in our home.  So far it has been a huge hit!  Peanut asks for his hot cocoa every night with three marshmallows (that's as high as he can count or I'm sure he would ask for more!).  The other tradition is one my mother did with me and my brother and sisters.  Each year we would get an advent calendar with the little books that tell the Christmas story.  You read one little book each night starting December 1st.  I took the tradition just a bit further and bought a little Christmas tree for Phillip's room.  He picked out the star topper and LOVES it.  He's telling people all the time how there is a star on top of HIS tree, ha!  Each little book in our advent calendar is actually an ornament so I plan to let him read a story each night at bedtime and then hang it on his tree.

So, I'm dying to know what Christmas traditions any of y'all have and hope to start with your families?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thankful Thursdays

Loved and Lovely

I've decided to link up today over at Loved and Lovely for Thankful Thursday, because I really do have a lot to be thankful for today.

I'm thankful... for my sweet, smart, beautiful son who says so many new things each day and is really becoming a little person before my eyes.

I'm thankful... that my little girl is feeling so much better and sharing her beautiful smiles with us more.

I'm thankful... for our Christmas tree and Christmas music.

I'm thankful... that I get to go out tonight for an hour of mommy alone time and catch up with a friend I haven't seen in a while.

And as always, I'm thankful for the weekend, and hopefully some on on one time with my wonderful husband.

Update and a Recipe

Well, there's nothing like parenthood to humble you just a bit.  I read a pretty hilarious quote the other day, and it really resonated with me: "My child is standing in the way of me being the parent I always dreamed I would be."

I love my son to death, but he challenges me in ways I never knew I could or would be challenged.  Let's be honest, I was probably a bit naive, but I just assumed that if I did all the "right" things, then he would basically turn out a certain way.  I'm certainly not downplaying my importance, or the important role of parents in general, but I think maybe parents (read ME) would be a lot less stressed if they accepted that there are so many things you can't control.

For example, I was always told that if I ate a varied diet while pregnant and breasted that my son would have a natural taste for lots of varied foods, including vegetables, which I love!  Sounds great right?  I was also led to believe that if I made my son healthy baby food, held back grains, did baby led weaning, etc. that he would naturally learn to explore and love a variety of foods.  But, Phillip had his own special plan. 

Needless to say, my tough love two days just did not work.  He basically didn't eat at all.  And it made us both incredibly stressed.  One thing I have learned about parenting (at least when it comes to me as that parent!), is that if something doesn't feel natural to me, it can be the best idea in the world, but it just won't work.

So, at least for now, until he's capable of a bit more reasoning, I'm going back to my old methods of feeding him.  I homemake 90% of what he eats and try to make the healthiest options I can out of what he will eat, throwing in some rejected and new foods a few times a week.

And, we're back to baking together :)  This is a recipe from the kid's cooking site "Weelicious."  I have her cookbook and have had success with many of her recipes.  This is just one example of the types of recipes that I convert to gluten free and make for Phillip for breakfast.

  Oatmeal On the Go Bars
From Weelicious with a few changes!


  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (Bob's Redmill Gluten Free Oats)
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (I use Better Batter, which is a rice, potato, tapioca blend with the xantham gum mixed in - highly recommend!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cup milk (any kind of milk — rice, almond, soy, cow’s — will work)
  • 3 tablespoons agave
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, and/or cherries)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, and/or pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place the first 5 dry ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
  3. Mix the milk, applesauce, egg, agave, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  4. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, stir to combine and then stir in the dried fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the oatmeal mixture into a buttered or greased 7 x 11 inch baking dish.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until thickened and golden.
  7. Cool, cut into squares and serve.
*Allow to cool, cut into squares and place in a ziploc bag to freeze up to 4 months. When ready, allow to defrost in fridge for 24-48 hours.
*Refrigerating the bars will make them last up to 5 days.

Christmas Shopping

The title of this post is a bit deceptive because, well, it's not really about buying gifts. I've just noticed that this is a great time of year to shop for clothes and snag some great deals! In the last two days, I've picked up a couple of my favorite items for a song!

During the warmer months, which lets face it in Texas means most of the year, I live in the J Crew 3 inch chino shorts. I picked up a fun pink pair (neon azalea to be precise) for only $19.50! Use code XOFACTORY for 30% off all orders at J Crew Factory.

I absolutely love the amazing Elsa Top by Lilly Pulitzer. It's universally flattering and can be worn with everything from shorts and sandals to a pencil skirt and heels. Unfortunately, it's normally pretty pricey. I was able to snag one today on Bloomingdales for $55 with free shipping!! That still may not sound cheap exactly, but trust me ladies, this is classic. I got it in this light purple, but its also available in a pink and an orange (but they didn't have my size, boo).

That's about all the shopping I can do right now with all the real Christmas shopping I need to do, but hopefully some of you can treat yourself to a little something too!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I've been struggling with whether I should even write this post, but I've decided that I need to get it out. I'm also hoping that if there is anyone else out there going through this, maybe this can help to give them a measure of hope.

Having two kids has been HARD.  Much harder than I ever imagined it could be.  It's been a hard few months of crying alone in the bathroom and praying each and every night that tomorrow would be a new day and that I would have the strength to be a better mother.  I think in my heart I knew something was wrong, but I was afraid of complaining.  I was afraid of going to the doctor only to have her tell me "this is what it's like having two.  babies cry.  what, you can't handle it?"

And boy, oh boy, does this baby of mine cry. And scream. At first we thought it was colic.  She would begin crying steadily at around four in the afternoon.  At that point, you could usually hold her, rock her, etc and make it better.  But, by eight each evening I would be shushing and jiggling with everything I had and she would simply be screaming.  I think my husband arrived home to find me in tears more times than not. 

"What is wrong with you?" I thought.  "This is exactly what you've always wanted and you can't even make your children happy.  You can't even handle two, what on earth were you thinking hoping for four someday!"

Besides her evening cry session, Natalie fought me on almost every single feeding.  I found the most bizarre ways to feed her.  For several days, she would only eat if I walked around while she nursed.  "If I can't even comfort her with nursing, what kind of a mother am I??"

A friend asked me when she was about 3 months old if she was a happy baby, and I had to answer honestly, that no, she was not.  She mentioned reflux to me, but when I read about it later on the internet I thought, that couldn't be her because she rarely spits up.

As I'm sure you've already guessed if you have a lick of sense more than me, there was something wrong.  At Natalie's doctor appointment last week, I broke down in tears describing how she was and feeling crazy.  Her pediatrician heard what I said and instantly said "she has reflux."  As she examined her, she only became more certain because of the way she writhed and arched her back and she said that she saw Natalie regurgitate in the back of her throat when she laid her down.

From about the second day on the medication, she has improved and she is a NEW child.  She smiles and coos (!!!!) at us each day.  She will sit in her carseat without screaming!  She often makes it through the day now with almost NO CRYING.  I am thinking "I can handle this.  I LOVE this!"

I feel awful that she's been in so much pain, but I'm thrilled that we are doing something about it.  As our pediatrician said "I can tell this little girl wants to be happy." Typing those words now makes tears spring to my eyes imagining how awful she must have felt.

I hope that someone else can read this and it will help them.  Even if your baby isn't suffering with reflux, making the transition to two children is hard and stressful and its ok if you're struggling.  Find someone you can tell and vent.  They won't judge you.  I told my own mother how I was feeling and then immediately felt guilty for some of the things I'd said about my children.  She told me "You can always tell me what you're thinking.  I know you're a good mom."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Natalie's Baptism

A week ago, we baptised our sweet little Natalie Rose.  It was such a special and fun day, surrounded by family.  I was thrilled that Natalie was able to wear the same christening gown I bought for Phillip to wear.  I hope for all of our children to be able to wear it, and someday to be able to pass it down as an heirloom.

After the ceremony, held at the same church where Brian and I were married and where Phillip was baptised, my mom hosted a little get together at her home.

Neither little looking at the camera, but we so rarely get a picture of the four of us!

With my mother and one of my sisters.

Both babies were so good, even though neither one got a nap that day!  My dress is from here, but they don't seem to have it online.

Decking Our Halls

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday weekend. It was wonderful having Brian home for 5 full days, but it would have been a much more relaxing week if the littles and I hadn't been sick the whole time! We had a very low key Thanksgiving and got started decorating for Christmas.

I love our house full and decorated at Christmas time, but right now it has me itching for January when I can do my annual organize and clean out!

Here are a few quick iPhone pics I snapped of our home set up for the holidays:

The Mantle

The Dining Room

Our Front Door - This is actually before I added ribbon, lights, and another garland.  I need to get a new picture!

Some of my nutcracker collection in the foyer.

Our tree!  Note the new Christmas train.  This was a must with our little train lover!!

A couple more nutrackers guarding the stairs.

All of our Christmas books are out and ready to read!

Now I'm off to score a few good deals on cyber Monday before the littles get up from their naps!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Rock 'n' Roll 1/2

Happy Tuesday everyone! I told y'all I would be up to something a little crazy this weekend and that something was running my first ever 1/2 marathon.  I've run on and off for the last several years but never really had the desire to run so far.  My brother was a huge runner though and competed in many marathons.  He even qualified for the Boston Marathon!  The San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon was one of his favorites so my Dad recently suggested we run it in his memory.  Since I just gave birth to the B not quite 4 months ago and hadn't run in over a year, I felt the 1/2 was about all I could handle.

My sister and I ran the entire thing together and did all of our "training" in about 6 weeks so I'm pretty proud that we were able to run 10 miles before taking a walk break and only walked for a mile and a half. 

It was grueling, but I actually enjoyed most of it.  Towards the end, when it was getting really hard, I just kept picturing my brother running in front of me and I could almost hear him telling me to push through. 

Perhaps as amazing as my feat of running 13.1 miles, was the fact that my little baby girl was a perfect angel despite having to wait four and a half hours to eat!  She does not take a bottle and it took us quite a while to make our way back to the hotel, but she hung in there and didn't cry one bit.  Here are just a few pics of the day:

Friday, November 9, 2012

Show Us Your Life: Side Dishes

Today I'm linking up at Kelly's Korner to share one of my favorite super simple side dishes for fall: parmesan truffle french fries. Normally, I keep side dishes pretty simple. Most nights of the week make some brown rice or frozen veggies for sides. About once a week I try to make something a bit more exciting and these truffle fries go perfectly with everything from hot dogs to filet mignon. Saturdays are the night hubby and I put the kids to bed, I cook something a little special, and we enjoy dinner just the two of us with a bottle of wine.


Parmesan Truffle French Fries
  • one bag Ore Ida Shoestring Fries (I use about half the bag to serve the two of us... and we eat a lot)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (preferably grated over shredded)
  • white truffle oil to taste (I start with about 1 tablespoon)
  • fresh parsley (optional)
  • Bake fries per package directions until nice and crisp.
  • Remove from oven and immediately drizzle lightly with truffle oil and toss
  • Add parmesan and herbs if using and toss
  • Best served immediately

Happy Friday!

I am so glad it is Friday! Fridays are great days in my book. They are the one day a week that my mom doesn't work, so she usually helps out with the kids or we go to lunch. Weekends are never really days off with kids, but hubby is home so there are four hands, which makes things a lot easier.

Tonight I'm looking forward to eating this delicious looking pasta recipe I found on ValSoCal.

And drinking some of this. It's probably my favorite inexpensive sparkling wine. You can usually get it on sale at Kroger for only $9.99. And those who know me, know I have to have a bottle of sparkler in my fridge at all times... no celebration necessary for this girl!

I'll be back next week to share some pics of a fun/crazy event I'm participating in this weekend. Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Zoo with My Little Animals!

What a day! Well, technically it's nowhere near over yet, but when you're a mom, there's BN (before nap time) and AN (after nap time). The first part is over! Everyone in the family seemed to have woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning... including me!

I know on days like that, the best thing to do is pack a lunch and get out. So, as soon as B woke up from her morning nap we headed to the zoo. As an aside, if you are a stay at home mom, I highly recommend having memberships to places like the zoo and the children's museum. It's really nice to be able to head out to those places on a whim and not feel required to stay all day just to get your money's worth.

Little peanut says the funniest things these days. For example, when we saw the sea lions, he kept calling them the "rawr fishies." He calls lions "rawrs". So, sadly it made complete sense to me :)

Of course, no trip to the zoo is complete without a ride on the train and a scam trip through the train gift shop (they make you walk through it to exit!).  Here's hoping for long naps.

P.S. I'm seriously considering quitting blogging again because of how terrible blogger is acting.  Everytime I add pictures, it acts so strangely and each time I move my cursor it drags the picture all over the post?!?


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Picky Picky

People, we have a picky toddler on our hands!  I felt like I did everything right when it came to feeding Peanut, but he is full blown fussy these days.  I'm sharing because I feel like I've tried a little bit of everything to help him become a better eater and things have only gotten worse.  For example, in the last week he has refused pizza, a cheese quesadilla, and last night macaroni and cheese (!!).  Last night really clinched it for me, because he requested the macaroni.  This is not about the taste.  Most of the time he will not even touch the food once he's decided he doesn't want it.  There's no "one bite" rule in our house, because there simply is no convincing him to touch something he's decided he doesn't like. 

See?  He used to eat veggies!!

So, I'm doing a little experiment.  People say kids won't starve themselves.  They will eat when they're hungry.  Peanut has been known to defy expectations and the norm though.  When he was five months old, he went on a nursing strike.  Did I mention he also didn't like bottles?  Yeah, so that means he refused to eat. Period. For about a week, I could only get him to nurse once a day.  Usually in the middle of the night when he was quite drowsy. 

Back to the experiment.  For two days, I'm only offering foods that aren't his favorites and nothing else.  No fighting, bribery, or comments.  Just, here is your meal.  Don't want it? Fine.  I'm not getting crazy here with all spinach salads, but I'm certainly not going to offer him a plate of pancakes or he'll just stuff himself with that.  I figure he can't possibly starve himself to death in two days.  So, we shall see.  I may have aged considerably over the next two days, but I'm sticking to my guns!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


We had so much fun on Halloween this year! Peanut actually really loved trick or treating last year, but he couldn't actually say "trick or treat."  This year we practiced throughout October and read a lot of books about Halloween so when the actual night came he was so psyched.

One thing that I've looked forward to about having two children is dressing them alike (what mother doesn't love that?? ).  So for Halloween, of course they had to have coordinating costumes.  Peanut loves Curious George and likes to pretend to be a monkey so when I found a super cute monkey costume at Old Navy that was that.  What goes with a monkey you ask?  A banana of course!

We started off the day with pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  Daddy went into work a little late so he could eat with us.  Dinner was a jack o lantern pizza and then we hit the streets with Peanut's best friend Timothy and some other friends of ours. 

He stayed up way too late and ate way too much candy, but hey, I figure its just one day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Keeping Up and Catching Up

Well hello!  I'm not sure anyone is still reading this little blog of mine, but in honor of national blog posting month I've decided to get back on the wagon.  There have been quite a few changes around here. For one, our little family of three is now a family of FOUR!

Last year, between my pregnancy and my brother unexpectedly passing away, I sort of lost my desire to blog. My brother is a long story for another day, but I'd like to get back to documenting the kiddos and sharing thoughts and recipes.

So here goes:

We found out we were expecting baby no.2 in November, and in January found out we were having a little girl!  We were so excited!!

In April, we celebrated Phillip's second birthday with a Choo Choo themed party, which was only appropriate because he is obsessed with trains of all kinds!

In July, I gave birth to beautiful baby Natalie Rose Kelleher.  She was 5 lbs 15 oz and 19 inches long.  Blessedly, I was only in labor for about 18 hours, which seems mighty short compared to my 50 hour labor with P!


I'll be back again tomorrow (hopefully!) with some more updates and pictures.

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