Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apples & Pumpkins

When I saw the big PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE sign hanging in Starbucks hit me.

Fall is almost here!!!!

I know it's still August and I know it is going to be 93 degrees on Friday, but as soon as Labor Day is over, it's officially Apple and Pumpkin season in the Davis household!! I have always been a huge fan of decorating for fall and thanks to F-ing Pinterest, I have a feeling I am going to go overboard this year.

Here are some of the cutest fall & Halloween decorating ideas I've seen lately.

I am a total sucker for polka dots so this is right up my alley. Just look how adorable these topiaries are!

I also plan to try this little craft. Using black thumb tacks to monogram a pumpkin! SO cute and SIMPLE!

For me, fall decorating is just as much fun as fall EATING!!! So let's not leave out some of the great pumpkin and apple recipes I want to try. Like...

And for the grand finale...

So much for cutting down on sugar right? Oh least apples and pumpkins are healthy :-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dancing in Uncertainty

For those of you who are new to this blog, you may not know that I come from a pretty large family. My Dad is one of 13 children. Can you even IMAGINE being pregnant 13 times?

And almost all of those children went on to have 2, 3, 4 even 5 children of their own. Fertility never seemed to be an issue in our family. There were babies and pregnant bellies every time you turned around. 

So when my cousins and I were kids, we didn't question our ability to have big families of our own some day. We dreamed of being brides (and since we were all in so many weddings, we had a lot of practice. Ha!) 

{My cousin Suzy (top left corner) who is one of my most loyal blog readers, My cousin Diane (bottom left corner) who is equally loyal, and Me (bottom row, second from the right)}

And when we weren't playing "bride" or "teacher", we were playing "mommy" with our cabbage patch dolls. That's just how life goes right? You become a teacher (and about 70% of my cousins did), you become a bride and then you become a mommy. But what happens when life doesn't work out like that? What happens when you don't meet the right partner right away? What happens when your dreams of becoming a parent don't work out the way you planned?

This has become a harsh reality for so many people I love and care about. The word "Infertility" haunts me and I sometimes wish I were a billionaire just so I could help all of these friends and family members with anything they needed from testing and treatments to adoption costs. I realize that all I can do every day is pray, trust in God and be there for them when they need me. They are "dancing in uncertainty" every day and as someone who was blessed with two beautiful children, I can only begin to imagine what that must be like. But if there is one thing I have learned from all these amazing women in my life is that you don't have to have the perfect thing to say. You don't have to tip-toe around the issue. You can skip all the, "It will happen one day" words of encouragement, or "Try not to think about it" comments. The one thing you can do for them is listen. Listen to their stories. Hear their frustrations. Comfort them with hugs and a shoulder to cry on if they need it. Let them share their journey with you and just be there to witness it and celebrate when the time comes. And of course, be grateful for your blessings :-)

I really have learned so much from my sister-in-law Di, my cousin Diane and all of the other amazing ladies who are dancing this dance. I always appreciate when one of them is willing to share their story and I know all of you have been to Di's blog to hear hers, but now you have the amazing opportunity to be a part of another great journey. My cousin Diane has just started her own blog, with the beautifully appropriate title, Dancing in Uncertainty

But please don't be fooled by the title. Although this blog will document Diane and Bill's journey to parenthood, it will also be a great place to talk about couponing, scrapbooking, dancing and fitness, and all the other things I personally love so much. So please, if you all have time today, head on over to Diane's blog and leave her a comment! It's always nice to see some friendly faces when you are the new kid on the block.

Welcome to blogland Diane! I am so happy you are finally here :-) Love you bunches!!

Monday, August 29, 2011

All About Owen

So this post today is pretty much all about baby O. I haven't blogged about him in like two weeks and I wanted to share some pics from his first trip to the zoo AND some of the great family pics my brother and Meagan got this week.

So let's start with the zoo, shall we? Here is Nana, Auntie Meagan and Owen posing for their first zoo picture together!

Doesn't he look so teeny here?

It was the most beautiful day for a zoo trip. It was sunny, 75 degrees and with school back in session, there were hardly any people there! Usually you can't even get up to this kangaroo for a pic, but Addie and Blake had it all to themselves.

Blake wasn't really digging the kangaroo, as you can see, but he was all about some polar bears today.

I don't know if it was the great weather or the quiet crowd, but ALL the animals were out. We never get to see the polar bears swim close up when we are at the zoo, but today this guy was playing with all the kids.

Isn't he precious?!!

And freaking HUGE?

The kids couldn't help but get out of their stroller for a closer look.

And this is how excited Owen was to see the bears. Ha! Babies...gotta love em'.

Pretty soon everyone lost interest. Addie was too busy flirting to even notice the animals. 

So we moved on.

We saw some HUGE birdies...

And some monkeys...

And posed for pictures...

And then took a little pit stop before heading to lunch.

Sadly, Auntie Meagan has to go back to work next week so I am glad we got to squeeze in our trip to the zoo. She is feeling a mix of emotions today, but I think overall she is looking forward to starting her new routine and getting back into the swing of things. We will miss getting to see her and playdate during the day, but that just means that lots of fun family weekends are in store for the months to come.

And speaking of family, I wanted to share some of the BEAUTIFUL shots that Meagan's sister Tricia snapped for them this past week. Owen is awake and happy in EVERY picture. These are some of my favorites...

Isn't he a doll?!!!!

He looks just like Ryan in this picture!!!

I just love this little peanut to death!!! I'm so happy we got to spend another day with him before he heads of to "baby school" and Auntie Meagan ventures into the Working Mommy world. I pray for a happy, easy transition for both of them :-)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Beautiful Weekend

There is one big advantage to living in the hurricanes. I feel bad even bragging about the weather here this weekend but it was truly BEAUTIFUL in Chicago. The perfect weekend to spend downtown with my sweetie.

We've been planning our little anniversary weekend for a while and at first, I wasn't sure if it was worth paying for a hotel room when we live so close to the city. But the idea of a peaceful night's sleep with no interruptions from kids or dogs was getting more appealing by the day. So after I found a pretty fantastic price on a hotel room, we booked it. And friends...I am SO GLAD we did!! Here we are all dressed and ready to head out on the town.

Our date night started with a fantastic dinner at Fulton's On the River. We couldn't have picked a better night for outdoor seating. They have the best patio in the city I think :-)

We spent a good two hours here just relaxing, having some wine, eating some delicious food and indulging in the best piece of banana cream pie I have EVER had!!! We will definitely be back to this place. Yum :-)

After dinner, we took a nice long stroll through the city. It was such a beautiful night and we were right in the heart of downtown. We had every intention of stopping at a piano bar to have another drink and relax but let's be honest...we're old. And we're parents who rarely get a night to ourselves and the idea of lounging around our gorgeous hotel room was a lot more appealing then drinking at a piano bar. I's pretty sad...but we enjoyed ourselves. A lot :-)

I actually expected to get the best night's sleep I've had in a long time, but I didn't! I tossed and turned all night! My kiddies were in great hands with Nana and Papa so I wasn't worried about them. And after two glasses of wine at dinner, I was finally over my whole school night fiasco. But for some reason, I was just totally restless. Is anyone else like that when they are away from home? Don't get me wrong, I loved sleeping in 4,000 thread count sheets. And not having to make the bed in the morning. But I wasn't as rested as I thought I would be. Eric, on the other hand, slept like a baby and told me this morning that getting a room was the best idea ever :-)

What made the night worth it for me was our delicious breakfast at the hotel and my solo stroll to Starbucks for a big mocha :-) Eric stayed back at the hotel and played Angry Birds while I went to get coffee. Haha! My parents told us we could stay in the city for the day but we both agreed that we would rather get home to enjoy the gorgeous day with our babies.

This little chick right here thought it was the perfect day for a bike ride...

So daddy went with her...

Blake still can't peddle, so he went for a drive in his car instead. And then left it in the street when he was done :-)

Even this little fatty was excited to get some fresh air and exercise. He mostly laid in the shade but whatever. He was still outside :-)

Now my entire house is napping and I am going to sneak in some blogging and Pinterest time with my windows wide open. Ahh...if only I could walk to Starbucks again :-)

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend too!!! And Nana and Papa...thank you SO MUCH for keeping all the kiddies (including Howard) for us this weekend. We are so lucky to have you :) And Eric...thanks for giving me such a wonderful Anniversary week. Love you so much babe!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why You Should Always Listen to Your Momma

A few weeks ago, I sat down at my desk with my computer, iPhone, planner and dry erase calendar from the fridge. I was determined to get all of our schedules updated for fall. We are going to be super busy around here this September and I wanted to make sure that Eric and I both knew his schedule, Addie's preschool and dance schedule, and of course my teaching schedule.

For two months, I have been prepared to start teaching on September 1st. I started getting my syllabus together after my faculty meeting last week and planned on getting everything else squared away this weekend. You that I was more than prepared for my first day next Thursday.

Well, yesterday afternoon my mom called me and told me that the assistant at her Chiropractor's office mentioned that he started classes this week at the same college where I teach. She asked me if I was sure that I started class next week and I explained to her that the date had been on my calendar since June. I also told her that there is another make-up faculty workshop for those adjuncts that couldn't make the meeting last week. I mean...why would there be a workshop after classes start? Plus, some night classes do start a week later due to holiday schedules. I just figured this was the case for mine this semester.

An hour after getting off the phone with her, Addie, Aunt Dana and Nia and I headed to the girl's new Ballet studio for an open house. While we were waiting in line to buy shoes, I heard a mom telling another mom that her daughter started classes at my college this week. I said to Dana,

"Wouldn't it be awful if somehow I got my start date wrong and my class started TONIGHT!"

Dana then reminded me of the time she didn't remember that she had to work until a few hours before she had to be there and had NO babysitter lined up. And Dana is a surgical nurse so when she is on the schedule...she has to be there ON TIME!

After my mom's phone call, the woman in line, and Dana's recollection of forgetting about work...I thought I had better just double check the course calendar online. I KNEW it was going to say a start date of September 1st, but I checked anyway. As soon as my phone stopped loading, my heart sank.

My class started in 28 minutes.

The next half hour was a blur. I was able to get in touch with my awesome adjunct coordinator who informed my waiting students that I may be a little late, I literally threw Dana, Addie and Nia out of my car, grabbed my class books and drove the longest 10 minute drive to campus ever. I then sprinted through the ginormous parking lot in ballet flats and at one point, I hurdled a bush.

I walked into my classroom at 7:07...and there were still students arriving. No one seemed put out by my slight tardiness and since I have taught this class many times before, I was able to do 95% of what I usually do on the first night (aside from being able to give them any copies of material). I guess this semester is just as good as any to go green :-)

I am so relieved that the class went as well as it did. They were talkative, energetic and to them...I hopefully seemed more put together and prepared than I felt. But good Lord...was my anxiety and stress running at an all time high! I haven't been able to shake this feeling today either! In 9 years of teaching, I have never been late to a single class. I have never arrived unprepared and now I know feels AWFUL!!!

I have so many other things that I wanted to blog about today. You know, like an eco-friendly post on back-to-school essentials from, or a welcome post for my cousin Diane who just started a fabulous new blog, or even a little sneak peak at what Eric and I have planned for our anniversary this weekend (and I will eventually do all of these things). But instead, I am reliving my traumatizing night because I need to know I am not the only idiot that has ever done something this. Has anyone else been completely convinced that they were suppose to be somewhere on a certain date and found out at the last minute that it was the WRONG date? I know a family friend of ours showed up to our reception hall the day after our wedding. There was another wedding going on and they were totally confused...and embarrassed! She had just wrote the date down wrong.

I know this has to happen pretty often I'm sure...but last night I felt like a jackass. I guess I should just be grateful though that I did finally take my mom's suggestion and double check my class. If I hadn't, I would have had 22 VERY upset students last night.

So thanks Momma!! I'll say it because I know you are waiting to hear it. You were right. You really hit the bullseye on this one...

Haha! I love every opportunity to use this picture :-)

So there's a lesson for ya friends...ALWAYS listen to your momma!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Anniversary Special: Funny Things You May Not Know About Us

After 3 years of blogging and 3 very romantic anniversary posts, I think I have pretty well covered the sappy stuff. You have all seen our wedding pictures a million times and in case you you haven't heard the story of how Eric and I got together, just check the "about me" tab and you can read all the lovey dovey details.

This year...I wanted to keep it real. Eric and I have been married 5 years now and we have two young kiddies sucking the life out of us daily. Long gone are the days of slow dancing in the living room or having spontaneous romps in the kitchen. Oh crap...did I just write that?

But those days will be back. Eric and I have learned a LOT about each other in the last 5 years and a LOT about making a marriage work. It isn't easy and things aren't always sunshine and roses. But if you love someone...and I mean really love figure it out. You figure out how to be real and take things day by day. You praise each other for the things you love about them, and accept the things that you don't love quite as much. You learn to compromise and take an interest in each other's lives. And most of all, you try to make the most of the moments you have together. I am just so grateful that I married a man that I can be myself around. I can be crazy, overdramatic, high-strung, controlling, obsessive...good Lord...why did he marry me? Haha :-)

And even in my worst moments, Eric has been there to pick me up. He NEVER sweats the small stuff, whereas I sweat everything. I think that's it actually...the reason we work so well together is that we are the polar opposite of each other in so many ways. For example:

* Sleeping: Eric sleeps like a vampire. On his back, arms folded over his chest, and he won't move an inch until morning. It kind of freaks me out find him in the EXACT position he was in when we fell asleep. I, on the other hand, flop like a fish all night. I am in at least 30 positions before I wake up .

*Eating habits: Eric would eat beef with a side of beef if that was an option at a restaurant. He could care less about sides and doesn't even eat them half the time. I could actually base a whole meal around sides. Do you see why this works so well?

*Academic skills: Eric will spend an hour writing a Facebook status update because he never knows what to say or how exactly he wants to say it. But...the man can do long division in his head and whip out numbers and estimations that make me go cross-eyed. I can't even subtract fractions or multiply properly half the time, but I could write my way out of a paper bag (is that a real expression?) I guess we can rest easy knowing that our kids will get all the help they need in math and English. Sadly, they are both screwed in science.

*Music: He's a country boy, and I'm a dancin' queen. I would rather listen to the classical station for 24 straight hours than listen to 5 minutes of country. Okay...there may be a few country songs and bands I am starting to like, but I will never fully admit that. And Eric would rather stick a pen in his eye then listen to one song by Britney Spears or Jamiroqui. Oh least we have Train!

*Getting "In the Mood": I think I speak for a lot of ladies when I say that most men don't try hard enough to get their wives "in the mood". I mean...we aren't that hard to please! Put on a little Dean Martin, say something sweet, fold a pile of's not rocket science! But Eric, like most men, can be in the mood in the drop of hat. I could sneeze in a "sexy way" and he'd be ready to rock-n-roll. Men are so easy.

I know I am doing a lot of joking here and spending an awful lot of time pointing out our differences, but  Eric and I really have a lot in common too. And the good thing is that all of our similarities are about important things. Things that matter greatly to both of us. I think the most important thing that we both believe in is saying "I love you" as often as possible. We never hang up the phone or leave the house without saying it to each other, even when we are angry. Sure, I might give it a sassy tone if I am upset, but I still say it. And mean it. I never want the last words we speak to each other to be anything but words of love and I know Eric agrees with me. Life is too short.

Okay...I promised no sappy love stuff so I will stop there and leave you with my FAVORITE picture of Eric and I. It's not a posed picture and I'm pretty sure my teeth couldn't get any bigger...but it is real. The laughter and the love. Just like our marriage :-)

Happy Anniversary Babe!!! Thanks for giving me the greatest 5 years of my life. I love you with all my heart :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Birthday Nia!!

You see this silly little peanut?

Well she turns 4 today!!!

I can't believe it. My little Nia is 4-years-old!!! She has grown into one of the sweetest, smartest, funniest little girls you will ever meet. I love that she wants to call and talk to me every morning and I love that I get to be such a big part of her life. I am one lucky auntie :-)

Because Aunt Dana and Uncle Kevin have a big birthday fun-day planned for Nia today, they had her birthday party last night. And boy...was it FUN!!!

It rained for most of the morning and we were all a little worried that the sun wouldn't come out for the party. But wouldn't you came out just in time for the kids to arrive!

And they were mighty happy to see each other.

No one loves being outside more than my little Nolan. Isn't he such a cutie? I love this picture of him. He looks so grown up!

The girls and Brennan spent a good 15 minutes hugging each other and rolling around the yard.

And then Miss Audrey joined in on the fun.

There was a lot of wrestling going on but don't worry...Great Grandpa was out there to supervise :-)

Meanwhile, Blake was in the house doing a little bonding with Papa Steve. I have absolutely no idea what they were watching...

But Blake was totally into it :-)

Well...that is until he heard all the fun outside.

I'm pretty sure that all the kids would have stayed outside all night if we would have let them, but as soon as they heard the words "FOOD" and "BIRTHDAY CAKE" they came running. These kiddies don't shy away from a meal :-)

OR a ginormous princess cake. Doesn't it look delicious?

Do you know who is responsible for making this gorgeous cake? This girl right here...

I think it turned out AWESOME and Nia definitely agreed. 

So here is the birthday girl (and her BFF sidekick) singing Happy Birthday

And here is her HUGE pile of birthday loot. These kids aren't spoiled at all are they?

I think it's amazing how excited kids get about presents, even if the presents aren't for them!!

Just look at them swarming the pile.

Nia got so many cute toys and clothes tonight.

But one of the coolest things she got was a Tinkerbell TV from Mima and Papa Steve! The kids couldn't even wait 10 minutes before they were begging Aunt Dana to hook it up and turn on a movie. Here they are waiting in Nia's bed. Such cuties :-)

And speaking of cuties...(I'm talking about Addie, not me. Ha!)

After my post yesterday, I listened to my bloggy friend Tri-Star's advice to start cutting some sugar out of my diet and if you can believe it...I didn't have a single bite of cake!!!!!! I might have had some wine and a sickening amount of taco dip but hey...we all gotta start somewhere right?

We really had such a fun day and night celebrating Nia's birthday and even though we won't see her today, I am sure the kids will be singing Happy Birthday to her for at least the next two weeks. Ha! We had a mini birthday party playdate yesterday and this was our celebration. Please disregard the fact that I am using old Halloween plates for the kids. They didn't even notice :-) But cute are their singing voices?

Happy Birthday Beans!!! Aunt Jen, Uncle Eric, Addie, Blake and Howie all love you to pieces!!!