Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beneift of a blended family

So as Juls and I sat at the table having a quite lunch, she started asking about a picture of the Pope we have on the fridge. That lead to talking about priests, talking about Heaven, Angels, Mary and baby Jesus.

She asked, after hearing that Jesus came out of Mary's belly, who was Jesus' Daddy.

"Well, Jesus' father is God the Father in Heaven. He put Jesus into Mary's belly with the help of the Holy Spirit!"
"But, you know how I am Samantha's step-mom?"
"Well, Jesus had a Step-Dad named Joseph who was married to Mary and helped raise Jesus."
Thinking it over..."Cool! What raise mean?"(we discussed)

Then, she asked, "Was Jesus baptized?"
"Yes, actually he was..." And then we talked about how he was not baptized til he was older but he was presented at the Temple.

Having a blended family has it's struggles, but Juliana understood immediately the fact that Joseph could be Jesus' "dad" without actually being his Father. She knows that Samantha is not my daughter because we see her mom weekly but she knows that I love Samantha and that I help Mark raise Samantha when she's here.

Also, having this conversation with Juliana really shows me how fast she is growing. She can be a handful sometimes but that energy, that curiosity, that love that pours out from her is going to make her something extra special as she grows. I just hope her love and curiosity of God and the Church grows with her!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Faves - a song, an app, a recipe and pics

Linking up with Miss Hallie again this week!

Overcomer - the song and video by Mandisa!

It is uplifting, inspiring and the video seriously brought tears to my eyes. Plus, every time I hear it on the radio, we turn it up and have a dance party! Even at 7:50 this morning when I was getting the girls dressed and I hadn't had coffee yet!

It's that good!

Juls also love's her Good Morning song, which she adorably refers to as the "get up, get up" song!

The Fertility Friend App
For all us NFP users, knowing your cycle and body is ever so important whether you are abstaining or trying to conceive. I used when Mark and I first got married b/c I found it to be easier than a piece of paper that I was BOUND to loose! It was nice to know my chart and all my info was in one place that my (then 6 year old) step daughter couldn't just happen upon! ;)
I have since found the app and love it! You can keep track of all your signs, symptoms, temps, additional notes and more!
Best of all, it's free!!
There is a VIP membership that you can pay for, but I haven't ever needed any of their services!
Me: What'd you do at school today?
Juls: We painted a turkey
Me: Cool! A Turkey! Why did you paint a turkey?
Juls: ::shrugs:: Cause my teacher said so...
Well, she is only 3 but on the upside, she followed directions! Hooray!
I am super excited about Thanksgiving next week!!! :) Especially to make this Sweet Potato Casserole recipe! YUM!!
Cousins, matching!

Miriam is 4 months older to the day than sweet Savannah in the back! They live in RI but we got to spend the weekend with them when we visited Maryland this past weekend!
These two plus their 3 month old cousin Oliver are going to be TROUBLE in a few years!
I can't wait! :)
Sisterly love

 I am really not sure which one loves the other more.
Happy Thanksgiving from the 'burgh!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Five, friends and saving money!

Haven't linked up to Five Faves in a long time but, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am trying to think good thoughts!
Heart to hearts with my Husband.
It had been way to long since we sat down and really shared our souls with each other. The nitty gritty. The not so pretty. The demons that plague us.
But, as we sat in the late hours of the evening, openly sharing our hearts, weight lifted off our shoulders and tears of JOY filled my eyes.
The lies that we believe. The doubt that creeps in. The separation that could occur between my husband and I with out the Holy Spirit and our Guardian angels fighting our spiritual battles with us. The peace when it's all out on the table.
Laughter amongst the littles
Juls (3) and Miriam (1) are really beginning to "play" together! It's such a joy to watch them mimic each other, giggle together, chase each other around and inevitably, hurt one another.
The bumps and bruises are a small price to pay for the memories they are creating.
 Miriam can now say "Duwi" (Juli) and if you ask where Juli is, she squeals "Duwi! Duwi! Duwi!
I am so, so pleased that they have each other!
Saving Money!
I mean, who doesn't love saving some dough!
It's cold in Pittsburgh. It snowed yesterday and this morning. Yes, it's only November 13th and the white stuff is already falling...which means, a heavy coat and boots are necessary items!
I have had the same Winter dress coat for 5+ years and it just wasn't doing it for me anymore (vain I know bc technically it's in perfect condition which is why I will donate it!) so I was on the look out for a new dress coat.
I found a lovely camel color coat, very flattering to my figure and on sale at Target! As I had it on, I thought, let me check the Cartwheel App on my phone and see if I can get extra % off...
And I could!
20% more off the already reduced price!
I save $22 on my new coat, which I will have for 5+ years!
Check out the App! You can save on all kinds of items from Milk to toothpaste, throw pillows to Christmas d├ęcor! Every-thang! Even Diapers!
(apparently, you do have to have Facebook to sign up, FYI)
Best Friends
Last weekend I was able to run out to Marshalls by myself (thank you gift cards for my bday!) and try on some dresses. With Mark's Holiday parties right around the corner, I really wanted to have my outfits lined up. Last year I had a newborn and my body was well, not my own and I was panicked the day of the party trying to figure out what to wear!  I fall to pieces in stressful situations and not having an outfit that I feel comfortable and confident in, is stressful to me!
He is pretty high up in his company and I want to look my best when we attend parties with VPs, CEOs and his managing peers. B/c lets face it, I'm typing this post in oversized sweatpants with dirty, greasy hair. Not my best look!
Since I was shopping alone, I had my phone ready to take a pic of my outfits in question and send a text to my friends and sisters.
Don't act like you've never done it.
Well, I texted a pic to my BFF Jen and she texted back that she had bought the same dress a month ago!
I knew it looked familiar! She had sent me a pic from the dressing room asking for my opinion! :)
Jen in her dress!
Me in mine!

Family, specifically siblings
This weekend, I' taking the littles down to MD! My sweet nephew (bro's first babe) is getting baptized and we wouldn't miss such a blessed occasion! My sister from RI and her daughter (8 months old) will be in town too! My sister from MS won't be able to make it but I am sure there will be lots of FaceTiming! It's rare for all of us to get together but MAN, do I cherish the moments we have when we can gather. It's super exciting that Juls, Miriam and their 2 cousins are all so close in age! And it's so amazing to see my siblings (older) grow into their roles as Mom and Dad. It's not often that I, the youngest sibling, gets to experience something before they do but I was a Mom before either of them were a parent. It's kinda cool to watch your older brother and sister grow up! :)
Thanks Hallie! :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

First Birthday Shinanigans

New born week old - Vandyke Photography

One Year Old!! - Vandyke Photography

I can not believe that my sweet Miriam is One year old!

The saying that the days are long but the years are short is very true.
Some days I just didn't think I'd make it through and swore up and down, left and right that she is my last baby forever! Then, the first smile, the first giggle, the first word. The soft, quite snuggles in the early mornings while trying to not wake the others. The first time on all fours, first time crawling, pulling up and then, first steps! Those are the moments that keep me going. They recharge my battery, that and wine or ice cream after they're in bed! :)

Okay, so let's get down to the Par-tahy!

I wanted to do something fun to celebrate this beautiful little girl God gifted to us a year ago. The first thing that came to my head was Rainbows! They are fun, colorful and easily executed!

 To Pinterest I went!

I created a First Birthday board and wasted spent way too many hours on that website!

Rainbow decorations can be a tad creepy (unicorns, creepy clowns, etc) or can support issues that I as a Catholic woman, am well, not a supporter of...if you catch my drift!

So, after searching many stores and websites, Walmart, of all places, came up with some great options! I wanted to make some of the decorations but I wasn't set on a color scheme until I found
^ these plates at Walmart!

I loved how they gave the rainbow effect without actually being a rainbow. Also, they are chevron, seriously, who doesn't love chevron!

I also found the streamers, pennant banner, cupcake liners and candle at Walmart! All of those items cost me $15! Oh there are also yellow napkins not pictured! I don't like to spend a fortune on dinnerware items because they just get tossed at the end of the party!

I used the streamer to make a rainbow back drop for behind the high chair

I needed cardstock for a #1 banner and Happy Birthday banner I had in mind but nothing spoke to me at Walmart. Thankfully, Joann's came through with having the EXACT same color scheme in a cardstock package (pictured above)! Cardstock was 30% off and I think came in less than $10. I wasn't worried about that price because I know I will use it another time.

I found a #1 outline online and printed it on cardstock. I cut it out and Mark hung it for me.
not the best lighting for a picture, but you get the idea!

I also printed out Happy Birthday on the cardstock, cut it out and put it against white circle cardstock

Got the ribbon from the $1 bin at Micheal's! It's all glittery and such! So pleased with how this turned out!

I also really wanted to try making colorful tissue paper tassels because I have seen them on Pinterest but hadn't found a good tutorial until I stumbled upon this one. I also found this other one helpful too. Both lay out the process with written instructions and pictures for each step.
Found my tissue paper at Dollar Tree, 25 sheets for $1!
I tried making one myself earlier in the week and after a failed first attempt, I made one that looked just like the picture! Cutting the strips thin is very important. If the strips are too thick, it looks all jacked up!

I enlisted the help of my sister who flew in from MD for the party and my step-daughter who loves to do crafts and this is how it turned out!

I love it! I would probably add more of each color if I do it again but...It really did add some extra pizazz to the living room!

 Now onto the edible portion of the party!

I saw this pin way back in the day that raved about how easy it was to make swirled icing for a cupcake. Essentially you paint a piping bag with food gel and the butter cream comes out swirled with the painted colors. Of course it looks easy and truth be told, it wasn't hard but it wasn't a walk in the park either!

I made the chocolate cake and cupcakes the day before with THE MOST AMAZING chocolate cake recipe in existence!
I found it about 2 years ago and have not baked another chocolate cake recipe!
Try it. You will agree. I bet ya!
 (this recipe is for a 3 layer cake so it make ALOT of cupcakes! Darn, just might have leftovers! :)

And then I made a vanilla cake and cupcakes with a recipe from the The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook recommended by a trusted friend. I have had a hard time getting fluffy, moist vanilla cake from scratch. So, this recipe used a white cake mix (Duncan Hines Classic White) and "doctored" it to make it taste more, "from scratch". Well, the result was delectable and there was not a vanilla cupcake left by the end of the party!

I used Wilton Food Gel Colors to paint my bag and placed my 2D tip on my bag and realized I didn't have the coupler part to secure the tip, so most of the gel seeped down next to the tip instead of going into the tip. The effect is cool and I will try it again but you can only use the bag once so, disposable is the way to go! This was the outcome of the cupcakes


For the cake I stacked a vanilla on top of chocolate, buttercreamed it and decorated it with M&M minis in a classic Rainbow. Miriam LOVED the M&Ms, her first experience with those delicious candies!


And last but not least, my #1 made up of pictures of the Birthday Princess. I could have made 2 more. I am picture obsessed!

Laid it out on the floor first to make sure it was going to work!

Final product on the wall!
The party was a blast! We were all wiped by the end of the day and with Daylights saving time ending that night, we were all thrown off on Sunday! But, nothing a little cake and coffee for breakfast can't fix...

Even let Juls join in on the deliciousness...

Happy Birthday Miriam Ruth! Can't wait to see what 1 year old fun you bring to this family! :)

One Year old