Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Living Room

....or family room, whatever you wanna call it. I'm finally posting some more "before" and "after" pictures! Everything is all cleaned up and ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow, so it was the perfect chance to take some pictures while everything is uncluttered ;-).


Only 2 before pictures. The red walls were hideous.



This is the right side of the room as you step in the door from the kitchen.

This is the view from the kitchen doorway.

The view from the basement doorway in to the living room. Yes, the door to the basement is in the living room. Seems odd to me that it's not in the kitchen, lol.

Another one from the basement doorway, but in this one you can see the front door in this one and our family pictures hanging on the wall ;-).

Just a close up of the bookshelf and other closet.

Our picture wall ;-). I love love love having all the pictures hanging up everywhere. And that is the basement door on the left.

Wordless Wednesday

She makes me laugh.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Not Even Thanksgiving Yet...

...and our Christmas tree is up! Not only up, but decorated, too. I don't think I've ever had the tree up before Thanksgiving before, at least not that I can remember. But Joe wanted to have it up for turkey day (we're hosting here) and I love having the tree up, so I wasn't about to complain. Hopefully Brooke isn't too terrible with it this year. Last year I ended up moving all the ornaments from the bottom so only the top half was decorated, see?

This afternoon we started going through the Christmas totes. Brooke thought Cole's stocking would make a good sock.

She was not cooperating for pictures, so this is the best I got.

Joe's parents brought dinner over and we ate and then got busy decorating the tree. I won't lie, it was a little stressful for me. Brooke was just grabbing everything she could get a hold of and the first few ornaments she tried to hang, she kept ripping the hooks off or she would hang it on the tree and just pull and pull on it for some reason. She finally seemed to get the hang of it and did pretty well from what I could tell. Even with having 2 extra adults here to help, it was hectic! These kids have no patience. LOL. Anyway, they had fun and the tree is still standing, so it's all good ;-). Here are a few pictures of them decorating and then a set of me trying to get the 3 of them in front of the tree when we were done. They are pretty funny.

I wish I would have tried to take more without the flash. I love how this one turned out.

This was the beginning of trying to get the 3 of them together. Ryan was all for it because I bribed him with a Christmas lunch cake. Brooke was having fun running around the tree. And Cole wanted no part of it.

I edited this one on I like the coloring.

See what kind of a smile a bribe will get me? If only he always smiled so well.

So mad this one came out blurry. It's cute.

As good as it gets ;-)

Jake's new favorite place to lay. Aren't the eyes creepy??

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Hair, (Sort of) New Glasses

I didn't take a "before" picture last Sunday before I got my hair cut and I don't have very many recent pictures of myself, so the "before" picture above is from March. My hair was actually even a little bit longer than it was then. I got the glasses in the spring, but I didn't start wearing them until last month because I changed my mind and wasn't sure if I liked them. Now I love them. I think they look so much better than my old ones.

Can you believe my hair used to be straight before I had kids? In high school I would often get my hair cut in a chin length (or a little bit longer) bob. All I had to do was curl the ends under with a brush while I blow-dried it and it would look great. Nice and smooth. Now my hair is naturally curly...yep, that is *all natural. It got curlier after each kid. Now I spray Frizz-Ease Dream Curls (or something like that) on it after I get out of the shower and scrunch it up and I'm good to go. Some days it curls better than others, though.

My hair has always been thick and it not only got curly after having kids, but it got thicker, too. I have way too much hair, but I guess I shouldn't complain because at least I have hair, right? It doesn't look bad when I have product in it, like in the pictures above, but if I just let it dry without product in it, it is huge and looks ridiculous. I got my hair cut in a just-above-the-shoulder bob when Ryan was a few years old and tried the whole curling-under-with-a-brush-while-blow-drying thing and WOW, my hair got so poofy (I don't think that's a word) it was ridiculous. No more straight hairstyles for me unless I take the time to use a straightener on it, but who has time for that with three kids? And I have a really hard time doing the back so it looks right anyway. So curly it is. I pull it back a lot, too, so it's not bothering me. I just can't stand feeling it on my neck sometimes.

Well, I didn't really plan on writing a book about my hair, but I guess I just did. Kudos to you if you got this far and didn't just look at the picture! ;-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts

  • I cannot believe November is over halfway over. Wow.
  • I'm really bummed that the kids won't be here on Thanksgiving this year because they'll be at their dad's. It will be the first Thanksgiving I've ever missed with them. I know I'm going to cry. I want to cry just thinking about it now. We'll be having our first Thanksgiving dinner at our house and Ryan and Brooke won't even be here :'(.
  • We're going for family pictures Saturday at the Picture People. I hope they turn out and I hope what we've decided to wear ends up looking okay.
  • Homework with Ryan has been ROUGH the last few times he's had it. I don't know what the sudden problem is, but I hope he gets over it soon.
  • He has yet another ear infection. He had one at the end of August, another at the end of September, and now one the beginning of November. I took him in last Wednesday and he's on antibiotics again. He goes back to the ENT on Thursday. We'll see if they want to put tubes in. The worst part about these infections (aside from the pain/discomfort for him) is how they cause him not to be able to hear. It's very frustrating.
  • Brooke is still pooping her pants. Every time. Ugh.
  • Ryan's teacher is 9 months pregnant and going out on maternity leave soon. I'm nervous about her leaving and the class getting a sub.
  • When I find a new blog to read, I will often go back and read every post from the earliest to the most recent (over time). My new favorite is Christopher and Tia. She's just so....real. I wish I could blog like her. And she has adorable kids!
  • I got my hair cut Sunday....and cut some more today. LOL. It needed more layers...and I got my bangs cut shorter. My hair hung down between my shoulder blades before I got it cut. Now it hits *just at my shoulders at it's longest! I'll post pictures...eventually...maybe :-P.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I always sit and think about how I should blog, but I'm not sure what to blog about. I'm not even really sure why I HAVE a blog.

Joe is doing paperwork and watching the Steelers game. And I'm bored.

I just started typing out a big long blog post about our weekend and then realized....nobody probably even cares to read it. LOL. It's not like we did anything exciting....well, other than get to go see our new baby niece again tonight. Well, she's not technically *my niece yet, but I don't think anyone objects to me calling her that. She is SO. FREAKING. CUTE. She's about 6 1/2lbs. and I cannot believe that Brooke was smaller than that when she came home from the NICU (she was 4lbs. 11oz.). They grow so dang fast.

This was a "kid-free" weekend. This will probably sound bad, but I really look forward to these weekends. It's so nice to have the time alone together. Life is crazy at times with 3 kids and some days I feel like I'm just getting through and don't have the energy to put in to being a fiance. I hate days like that.

I often think that sometimes I wish that Joe and I had met years ago, before kids....before first marriages. But then, I don't think things would be as good as they are now. We're older and while neither of us expected to end up divorced and single parents, I think the things we've been through helped make us more aware of what we do want out of a relationship/marriage. I just wish we had more alone time sometimes. I love our "blended" family, though :-).

And now I think I'm going to go get something to eat. I'm hungry and if I don't eat something soon I'm going to get a stomachache. That only happens to me in the evenings if I'm hungry and don't eat. Luckily we usually eat late enough and I go to bed early enough that it doesn't happen often, but we ate kind of early tonight.

Nighty 'night!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Taking a Break...

...from the 30 Days of Thanks. I'm still posting it on Facebook every day, but I just haven't had much to blog about it.

This week has pretty much sucked, to be honest. I don't know if it's the time change or maybe this nagging headache that won't go away and STAY away...or maybe it's both. I feel crabby and irritable. Almost feels like I'm PMS'ing, but it should be too early for that.

Three kids is exhausting. I don't know how people do it with more than three. We don't have a lot of rules around screaming, no jumping/running/climbing on furniture, no throwing things, no pushing/hitting/kicking/etc. But for some reason they seem to find them impossible to follow. I can't turn my back for one minute without one (or more) of them being broken.

I tell them to stop jumping on the couch and two minutes later they're doing it again. They can't even sit quietly and watch a 20 minute cartoon on the Disney channel without getting rambunctious. Then I make them leave the living room and go to the playroom and they get mad. "No, we're watching it. We'll stop."....two minutes later, they're at it again.

They can't sit and eat a meal without goofing around. Then messes end up happening or Brooke ends up not eating.

They seem to not know how to be nice to each other most of the time. Someone's either taking a toy or book from someone or yelling at someone or pushing/hitting/kicking someone.

I can't turn my back on Brooke for two minutes for fear of her pooping and then removing her poopy underwear and making a mess. She's been getting sprayed off in the shower at least twice a day. She HATES it, but yet she still poops in her pants.

Tonight one of them basically got a chunk ripped out of their big toe because another one decided to fling the bathroom door open when (the injured) one was standing right in front of it. It was a bloody mess. And I felt like I was going to snap.

I feel like ALL I do is YELL anymore. And I HATE it.

I don't know how to stop. I just get SO frustrated. So extremely frustrated when it's the same crap ALL the time. And I don't know how to make it better. Sometimes I feel like just letting them do whatever they want because they don't listen why bother?


Well, I guess this turned in to a big, old vent, huh?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Potty Training Frustrations

Brooke started potty training 4 weeks ago today. She is doing GREAT with peeing. She does have accidents, but usually it's when I don't take her in time because she doesn't always go on her own without being reminded yet.

The pooping, however, is not going so well. I really don't understand, either, because the first week or so she was pooping in the potty every time. She even went in the toilet at church that Wednesday night when we were there for small group and she was in the nursery. She was so proud of herself when she would poop in the potty and never seemed freaked out about it. And then all of a sudden...she stopped. Now she poops in her pants every. single. time. with the exception of when she pooped in the toilet 2 weeks ago when we were at Monster Mini Golf for Joe's cousins' birthday party. I don't know how to get her to stop. We've tried withholding her beloved Pediasure. Didn't work. I've tried bribing with M&M's. Didn't work. Then I discovered her love of lollipops and tried bribing her with them. Didn't work. I've pretty much decided that bribing is NOT going to work for this.

Friday night, Ryan and I ran down to the store for milk and Brooke stayed with Joe. While we were gone, Brooke pooped in her pants. Joe told her to wait a minute while he went up to get her clean underpants and when he came back down, she had taken her underwear off and had poop everywhere. So he took her up and put her in the bathtub and sprayed her with the shower head....and she did not like that. At all. I thought maybe that would deter her from pooping in her pants. But yesterday morning, she did it again (5 minutes before we *had to be out the door to take Ryan for pictures, so no time to spray her off). Then she didn't poop again until this afternoon, so I took her up to the tub and sprayed her off and she still didn't like it. But then she pooped again in her pants a couple hours later.

I have pretty much given up and I'm just hoping that someday (SOON) it will just click for her and she'll start pooping in the toilet. She KNOWS that's where it's supposed to go. In fact, the first time she pooped tonight, she took the liberty of going in the bathroom, taking her pull up off, and dumping the poop in the toilet herself :-X. I heard her at the toilet, so I went to investigate and found what she did. She is such a stinker...literally :-P.


Despite potty problems, we had a great weekend. My parents came Friday night and stayed until late this afternoon. The kids didn't know they were coming and they were so excited to see them when they got here. Yesterday morning we took Ryan to JCPenney for picture retakes. Then we went shopping for a baby shower gift for Joe's sister-in-law Hillary's baby shower that was today. The kids weren't too thrilled about that, but as a treat we went to McDonald's for lunch. It is one that has a nice indoor play structure, so they had a lot of fun playing on that. Then we came home and hung out for the rest of the day. After the kids went to bed my mom and dad and I watched Paranormal Activity. Unfortunately Joe wasn't around all day. He worked in the morning and then went to Ohio to his aunt and uncle's house with his dad. They are getting their kitchen remodeled and were extremely nice and gave us their old cabinets, sink, stove, and dishwasher, so Joe and his dad went out to get that stuff (so we will eventually be getting basically a brand new kitchen, along with the new flooring we're going to put in). Today was the baby shower, but Hillary's water broke this morning, so she was in the hospital in labor (still is) instead of at the shower! I am praying for an easy labor and delivery for her and can't wait to hear that her and Joe's brother Dan's baby girl is here!

30 DoT: Days 6 and 7

I didn't get to post yesterday because my parents were here. They got here Friday night and they left about an hour ago.

~*Day 6*~

That may sound like something silly to be thankful for, but it's really my opinion. When I got pregnant with Ryan, I somehow came across the AOL message boards and they had pregnancy ones. There were ones you could join depending on when you were due, so with him I joined the Due in December 2003 message board. And since he was born in August, he ended up being the first baby born on our board. The AOL boards don't exist anymore (or if they do, they aren't very active), but we moved over to an email loop and I still talk to a lot of those same women today, almost 8 years later. I also posted on the preemie message board when it was still around and when Ryan was around 2 years old I started using cloth diapers on him, so I started posting on the cloth diaper board for help. I still talk to people from both of those boards as well. I have even met a handful of women from my message boards and I now live about 20 minutes or so away from my friend, Heather, who is from the December '03 board. I've gotten so much great advice from my online mom friends on everything from sleeping habits to discipline to potty training. The list goes on and on. Of course we talk about things other than our kids, too :-). And aside from my online friends, the internet makes it so easy to look up information. You obviously have to be careful about what you believe, but it can be very useful for random information.

~*Day 7*~
~*~*Our House*~*~

I know this would be better if I had some more pictures to share, but I don't yet. Sorry!

I am thankful we have a house to live in and I am really thankful that we have a house we love to live in. We looked at a lot of houses during our search. As I posted on here, we almost got a different house, but it fell through. We were really disappointed....and frustrated. But then Joe found this house online and we really liked the pictures of it they had posted. We didn't think we would like it as much in person, just because there were a couple others that we had seen online and were excited about, only to go see them in person and be disappointed. But that wasn't the case with this one. I am thankful the first one fell through and that we got this one instead. I really liked the first one, but I love this one :-).

Friday, November 5, 2010

30 DoT: Day 5

~*~*My best friend*~*~

(Unfortunately I don't have a picture to share for this one.)

Jess and I have been best friends since 4th grade. As the years went by, we grew closer and closer. By middle school we were pretty inseparable. Our freshmen year of high school we both joined the color guard in the marching band. Between the two weeks of band camp before school started, practices almost every day after school once it started, and football games and competitions every weekend during football season we spent a lot of time together. And we had SO much and our group of friends. We both joined up again our sophomore year, but our junior year we were sort of talked in to playing an instrument in the band and to make a long story short, it didn't pan out too well and neither of us finished out the season. I remember since we didn't have to go to the football games anymore, a lot of Friday nights would be spent walking around the mall, mostly just window shopping, checking out guys, and getting M&M flurries from TD Treats. Our friendship our senior year ended up being a bit rocky, but thankfully we got through it. We've also gotten through Jess living in Florida for a couple years, so I don't think me moving an hour away will be too rough...hopefully. I haven't seen her since I moved in August and I'm really looking forward to the next time we get to hang out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

30 DoT: Day 4

~*~*My Siblings*~*~

My sister, Diane, was born one month after I turned four and my brother, Edward (he'll always be Eddie to me), was born when I was about six and a half. Diane and I were pretty different when we were kids. I was more quiet and liked to play house and school and things like that. She was more rough and tumble and preferred playing cars and "boy" things with Eddie. I remember trying to bribe her to play with me, sometimes by telling her that if she did what I wanted to do, then we would do what she wanted to do. It didn't usually work, though. I think I was pretty jealous of the relationship the two of them had. They were closer in age and she was a bit of a tomboy, so they did more together. But my sister and I are close now. I guess that's what really matters. I don't remember playing a whole lot with my brother when we were kids. We butted heads a lot and he was really good at annoying me (he would probably say the same about me). I wish my brother and I had a closer relationship. We'll have to work on that....over the phone and/or emails since he just moved to Washington state at the end of September.

The bottom line is, we may not have always gotten along, but looking back I can't imagine growing up without them and I can't imagine them being in my life now even if we don't see each other or talk to each other as much as we could/should. I know they are both there for me if I need them and I hope they know that I'm there for them, too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

30 Days of Thanks: Day 3

~*~*My Parents*~*~

I don't think I can say enough good things about my parents and my upbringing. We didn't have a lot of material things growing up and money was tight for most of my childhood, but I never remember feeling deprived or anything like that. We had plenty of the most important and support and I think just the right amount of discipline. My parents are hardworking people that don't expect things to just be handed to them and they brought me and my sister and brother up to not expect it, either. They successfully raised three kids up to adulthood with no major catastrophes. That's not to say there weren't bumps in the road, but I think they did a great job of dealing with issues when they came up. I'm sure they had their moments of stress and wondering if they were doing the right thing, but I know they did the best they could and I think they did a great job. My mom had a rough childhood (that's putting it lightly) and I am so proud of her for coming out on top and being such a great nurturer even though it doesn't sound like she had a whole lot of that in her life growing up. She is amazing and I don't know what I would do without her. The same goes for my dad. They have both been such an amazing source of support for me always, but especially the last couple of years when my marriage really started to fall apart. I know they would both do anything for me (and the kids), while still making sure that I'm doing all *I* can for me (us) and I think there's no greater gift that a parent can give their child than knowing they will always be there.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November - 30 Days of Thanks: Days 1 and 2

Yesterday one of my friends on Facebook posted that she was going to participate in this and I decided I would play along as well. And tonight I decided that I would carry it over to my blog in an effort to (try to) blog every day this month. I'm starting a day late so today I'll post for yesterday and today and now try to stay on schedule. Some of these things are going to be big, important things and other things may be small and silly. Some things may be hard to write a whole blog post about, but we'll see what I can do.

~*Day 1*~
~*~*My kids*~*~

I suppose it goes without saying that I am thankful for my kids. But I can't NOT say it and they are my reason for living, so obviously day one should be about them. I went through a lot with my kids, especially the first two. But they have all taught me a lot.

I had barely processed the fact that Zachary was already here, 4 months before he was due, before he was gone (he passed away when he was 11 days old). But I have Zachary to thank for helping me find God and even though it was unbelievably painful to lose him, I knew (know) that everything happens the way it is supposed to, even if we don't like it and even if we don't know why. He wasn't here with me, but I knew he was somewhere safe and that he wouldn't ever suffer or know pain. I know that a lot of times when someone loses a child, they are angry at God and turn away from him, but for some reason (and I'm not sure why) it did the opposite for me.

Ryan has taught me that anything is possible and that miracles do happen. We almost lost him twice in his first 6 months of life. The fact that he is still here with us is a blessing in itself, but the fact that he is so healthy is just amazing. Ryan has also taught me patience (although I still have a ways to go with that). He seemed to take forever to reach milestones as a baby and toddler, which was expected but still nerve wracking because I always wondered in the back of my mind if he would be able to.....crawl, walk, talk, etc. But alas, the worrying was for nothing. He just needed a lot of extra time and still does with some things. He is definitely, no-doubt-about-it, my little miracle and I am SO thankful that he is here with us.

Brooke taught me that an extra four weeks in the womb (and being a girl, who statistically do better than boys) can mean a world of difference and it is possible that being born three months premature *might not be a huge deal....although I guess that all depends on a person's perspective. After enduring six months in the NICU with Ryan and all the surgeries and infections and struggles to stay off the ventilator and gain weight, etc. etc. etc.....the seven (and a half) weeks that Brooke spent in the NICU, basically just gaining weight and getting off the oxygen, seemed like nothing. Brooke has also taught me what it is like to have a "typical" baby and toddler. She has hit all her milestones on time and even seems to be a bit advanced in some areas, like fine motor skills and language. Brooke taught me that I didn't need to be nine months pregnant and have a full term baby in order to feel like I had a "normal" birth experience.

I can't leave Cole out of this. Cole has taught me that a child doesn't have to be biologically mine in order for me to love them just as if they were. Cole was actually adopted from Russia by Joe and his ex-wife when he was about a year and a half old. But I never think of him as adopted. He is Joe's son and there's no way they could be any closer than they are, even if Cole was his biological son.


~*Day 2*~

I am SO thankful for my amazing fiancé. I can't imagine my life without him. He makes me smile and laugh. He is there to comfort me when I'm upset and he never makes me feel like I'm being a baby when I cry. He helps ease my fears and anxieties. He makes me feel respected and like my opinion matters. He makes me feel safe and loved and cared about and appreciated. He treats Ryan and Brooke exactly like he treats Cole. There is no doubt that he loves all of us and wants to make sure we are happy. He is smart, funny, strong, caring, easygoing, and attentive. He is everything I always wanted and more. I'm sure that sounds cliché, but it could not be more true.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy November!

I love November...and December! I just love the holidays and the excitement that comes along with them. I love spending time with family and I love all the yummy Thanksgiving food. I love pumpkin pie. I love putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it and turning the lights on every night. I love Christmas shopping (except for the crowds, so I try to get done early). I love watching the kids on Christmas morning, especially now that they are old enough to really get in to it. I love thinking back to my childhood and thinking about all the great memories I have. I just love it all!

Yesterday we were shopping at Walmart...on Halloween...and there was Christmas stuff everywhere. And they were playing Christmas music. It was bizarre and just felt SO wrong. They couldn't have waited at least one more day for the Christmas music? Well, I'm going to be bizarre as well and post some Halloween pictures in this post that started with me talking about Thanksgiving and Christmas ;-).

A couple weeks ago we took the kids to Idlewild for HallowBoo. They decorate the park for Halloween and have most of the rides open and the kids can trick-or-treat in Storybook Forest. It was B-U-S-Y. The kids had fun, but they ended up only riding a couple rides because the lines were so long.

Getting ready to trick-or-treat!

Luckily Brooke was content to ride in the stroller for it. It made it so much easier since it was so busy.

I think this was them leaving the shoe (from the nursery rhyme There Was An Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe).

Love this!
(This picture has lead to Brooke trying to sit on every pumpkin she sees. LOL.)

One without the masks.

Waiting for the train to leave the station.

He's a little ham for the camera :-).

It's SO hard to get a good picture of him! This is a good one :-).

Brooke LOVES people in costumes. And she loves Clifford. She would have taken him home with us if she could have. LOL.

The day after Idlewild (Saturday) we went to the pumpkin patch at Schramm's Farm (Sunday). It was really busy, too, but the kids had fun. They got to play on the little play structure there for a little bit and then we picked pumpkins and took some pictures and went on a hayride (camera battery died before we got to that part).

Ryan refused to get in the picture :-P. These two were little hams, though.

Charlie Brown and the gang.

Brooke climbed on the pumpkin all by herself. Ryan wouldn't look at the camera (he was a grump!).

Best picture I got of him there!

Looking for the perfect pumpkin. Of course they wanted to try to pick them all up.

There goes Brooke trying to sit on the pumpkin. LOL.

In addition to The Proposal Pumpkin, Joe carved four more. One for him and one for each of the kids. He drew them all freehand and did an AWESOME job :-).

Iron Man (Cole's)

Tinkerbell (Brooke's)

A minion, from the movie Despicable Me (Joe's)

Mario (Ryan's)

We also went to ZooBoo at the Pittsburgh Zoo last weekend, but I don't have pictures of that on my computer yet. I'm not sure how many we actually took there, but maybe I'll put some up on here eventually. I'm such a slacker :-P.