Holiday Card || 2017

I'm ahead of the game this year and ordered my holiday card yesterday! Every year I search around for a great deal and every year I come back to SimplyToImpress because they have a HUGE selection of cards to choose from, and their prices and discounts are always better than any other website (I got 40% off  and free shipping when I ordered yesterday).
This is NOT a sponsored post, I'm just letting you know where I got my cards (that I've paid for in full, with my own money) because I know everyone likes a good deal! They adjusted two photos that weren't where I wanted them within the window pane, and gave me a digital proof within 2 hours of me submitting my order before I approved it. Easy peasy!

As I predicted last year, our card has a slightly different focus this year than in years' past (and I couldn't be more excited about it!)
Don't mind the watermark--I dont want anyone stealing my precious girl's face and using it for their own creepy devices
For those of you getting our card in the mail...pretend like you haven't seen this already (it will also be Watermark-free haha)! :)

Now, I just need to get these and get all of the envelopes printed and mailed, but at least the first step is done!

On another note, Ella is 7 months old today. Where oh where is time going??? Don't mind me, I'll be off in the corner sobbing quietly....:)

{WHW}: Thanks-giving it up!

Hey friends, sorry I was MIA at the start of the week--we were coming off of a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend, and also battling a stomach bug with our little Ella on Monday so it was just kind of a rough start to the week! But I'm back with a recap of our Thanksgiving--Ella's first!
~Wednesday late afternoon, MG's parents got into town and we headed out to eat for the most tasty dinner! Ella enjoyed eating pieces of bread and mashed potatoes, and sucking on our water glasses on the outside (super funny video of that which I can't seem to get to upload)
~Woke up Thursday morning to the cutest Turkey on the block! I could have eaten her up, she was so adorable!!
~We decided to slow cook our turkey this year so MG got to prepping that while we watched the Macy's Day parade and had some play time in the morning before little miss went down for her nap.

~She got dressed in her Thanksgiving outfit and was the model for my FIL's iphone photos

I smell a Christmas card photo!!! lol
~My mom came over early afternoon and we ended up sitting down to dinner around 4:30. Ella even got a seat at the table and enjoyed trying out some pieces of turkey and sweet potato from my plate (everything always tastes better off of someone else's plate, doesn't it?).
P.S. slow cooked turkey is freaking delicious!
(thanks to my pal Lynn for the adorable Thanksgiving/turkey bib!)
~We ate so much good food, and spent some time just hanging out after eating. Then we engaged in some apple pie (we aren't huge pumpkin pie fans at our house)

~The next morning my FIL went to Costco in order to see if we could get me the iPhone8 Plus. We'd tried Target the day before but they didn't have the 64 gig that I wanted and Costco had a much better deal. Well, surprise surprise, my FIL got one (they didn't have the color I wanted, but oh well) in, he got it FOR me for Christmas! Such a super sweet and totally unexpected surprise!!
 I, of course, took full advantage of the Portrait mode immediately (90% of the reason I wanted the phone)
~My in-laws headed back up to PA in the early afternoon which we were bummed about, but were so glad to get to see them and spend time together.

~That night for dinner, MG and I decided to FINALLY get my sushi fix and went to one of our new favorite places and ordered away! It was everything I'd been missing over the last year.
~Saturday morning we set out to put up our Christmas decorations. MG worked on the lights outside while I put up our little tree on the inside. This is likely the last year that we'll be doing this tiny guy as our main tree, but it was fun looking through all of our ornaments that we've collected over the years, especially the ones we got for little miss last year
~We met up with some friends and their son for lunch Saturday afternoon and Ella got herself cute for her lunch date haha
Well this outfit got ruined towards the end of lunch when someone got a mad case of diarrhea...all over mommy's legs (and then my shirt...and sleeves...). The stomach bug had gone through two other kids at daycare and Ella had stayed home from daycare during the week, but apparently it caught up with her. She seemed fine otherwise, but we headed home since one of us (me) didn't have a change of clothes in the diaper bag. Luckily we were done with lunch and with friends who totally understood.

~We had a low key afternoon at home, took Ella for a walk since it was nice-ish weather out and just enjoyed the day/evening....and Christmas lights!
~Sunday we ran errands and had another low key day together, watching football, and spending time with our girl (who was still battling the 'rrhea....)

~We busted out Ella's high chair to try and start doing some more solids with her. I think we're leaning towards doing Baby Led Weaning since she is NOT a fan of purees it seems. We stuck to teething crackers Sunday night which she enjoyed, despite gagging throughout (and giving me a heart attack)
So that was our weekend in a nutshell. Family, food, and fun--just what we'd want out of a weekend (minus the poop hahaha)! Hoping your Thanksgiving was perfect and poo-free! haha

Link up with Jessi and I to share what's hap-"pinning" with you!

{WHW}: Minnesota'ing

Happy Wednesday, and pre-Thanksgiving day, friends!!
I'm back today with my recap of our super fun trip to Minnesota!

This weekend we:
~managed to make our 8:10am flight after MG realized on our drive to the airport that our flight wasn't at 8:30 like he had thought (oops)

~had a successful first flight with Ella. She took two short naps on the plane and only screeched a few times.
~Made it to MN and got picked up by our friends at the airport. We ordered in lunch at their house from our favorite place there--Yum!--and then Michelle and I went to get our nails done while the boys stayed with the kids.

~Ella bear got her first taste of what Winter really feels like
~Ella conked out for bed on east coast time, and then MG, Michelle and I went and had drinks at a speakeasy, and then went out to dinner at Freehouse and Kev joined us later after his team meetings
(the food and drinks were soooooo good)
fried cheese curds and their specialty beer-cocktails
~Woke up Sunday morning to lots of loving from the kids. Ella was definitely a star attraction
~Got ourselves ready for the game and left the little girls at home with their trusted babysitter.

~Got onto the field pre-game and got to see all kinds of players up close and personal, in addition to our traditional photo with Kev before the game
~The game was SO good--and the Vikings put a hurting on the Rams who are also leading their division, so this was a HUGE win!
~Michelle noticed that 3 of the girls from The Bachelor/Bachelor in Paradise were at the game, a few rows in front of us (Lauren, Emily and Haley), and I ended up getting a pic with two of them (the other twin is in the background) #superhighlight
(Lauren complimented the color of my big deal lol)
~Tailgated in the players'/coach's parking lot after the game and had celebratory drinks with them as they came out--so so fun!

~Had dinner in at home (Ella tried pieces of pot roast carrots for the first time and was a big fan), and just spent time hanging out until we all crashed for bedtime

~We woke up Monday, had breakfast and then headed to the airport around 10am to catch our flight. Even the second time around, it was easier (we learned from our first mistakes). It also helped that we got upgraded to first class (although I felt that much more nervous when Ella would screech). She was a trooper and napped for an hour and ten minutes of the flight though. 
first class at 6
The only glitch we had was that she decided to poop during the final descent, when we couldn't get up to change her. And it leaked through her that was a fun clean up after de-planing but we still survived it!

The whole trip was fantastic! It was SO great to see our friends, get to spend quality time with the boys, see a Vikings win, meet the Bachelor girls, and get Ella's first plane ride under our belts! Time went by way too quickly, as it always does when you're with great people and it just makes us wish they lived closer so we could do it more often.

Now it's your turn to share what's hap-"pinning" with you!

Weekly Wins

Happy freakin-Friday, friends!

Let's dish about some wins from the week, shall we?

~Despite a cold, Ella has slept through the night every night this week. Only downfall is she's been waking up around 530 in the morning super stuffed up and only able to go back down after nursing.

~There's a 2nd grade girl at my school who is slow to warm up to people, but this girl has recently been giving me hugs every time she sees me in the hallway. Even on days that she's in a bad mood. It's nice being someone that she feels safe with.

~Hearing from a special education teacher that a 6th grade student has the best relationship with me out of any staff member in the building. (Ironically also the one that my administrators don't seem to be able to take my professional opinion on...)

~This from Cards Against Humanity. Oh my gosh, this.
~Ordering diapers ahead of time and having them shipped to our friends' house so it's one less thing to carry with us (thanks to Rachel for this tip). Amazon is the freaking best!

~Visiting our friends in Minnesota this weekend. That is, assuming no last minute extra sicknesses that would have us cancel. So looking forward to seeing our friends, getting to go to the Vikings game, playing with the kids, and concurring our first flight with Ella!

On that note, I probably won't be around these parts until Tuesday or Wednesday, so I hope the weekend is awesome, and the start of the week is easy!

A Small Rant

As you know, we're gearing up to fly with Ella for the first time, and of course my fears about her or I (or both of us) having a cold for it are coming true.

That aside, I've never flown with a baby so that comes with its own stresses. I called United yesterday just to check whether a breast pump is considered a carry on item or not, so that when I show up with 2 bags AND my pump I'm not shot down, etc. This is how the customer "service" call went:

Me: Hi, I'm flying Saturday with my 6 month old and will need to bring my breast pump with me. I just wondered if the breast pump counts as a carry on item or not?
Male United Rep: Let me check on that.....(typing for a solid 3 minutes or more)...I see here that it can be checked or carried on to the aircraft, ma'am.
Me: I understand that I'm ALLOWED to bring it. What my question was is whether or not this counts as one of my 2 carry on items or not.
United Rep: Yes ma'am, it can be a carry on item.
Me: So, does that mean that it counts as one of the 2 items that I can bring onto the plane?
United Rep:Yes it counts as a carry on item.
Me: Ok, because I saw online that it is considered a medical device and should NOT be counted as a carry on item, but that's why I was calling to check.
United Rep: What is the medical device that you are wanting to carry on?
Me: A Breast pump...... (inner monologue: "Wtf do you think we have been talking about this whole time??").
United Rep: Yes Ma'am, you are allowed to check a breast pump or carry it onto the plane.
Me (getting more annoyed): I understand that I'm allowed to bring it on to the plane. What I'm asking is if it's considered one of the two carry on items, or if I'm allowed to bring a breast pump PLUS two more items? Can I talk to someone else there since you've now given me two totally different answers to the same question?
United Rep: What can I help you with? My supervisor is currently busy. 
Me: I repeat the question again.
United Rep: It counts as one of the carry on items.

So I continued to look this up online, and then called another United number to check. In actuality, it does NOT count as a carry on item, and it says so on United's page about carry on items and things that do NOT count against your two item limit.

For your information, a diaper bag, stroller and carseat also do not count against your carry on items.

I just wish that people in customer service whose job it is to KNOW these answers, actually KNEW the answers. And, I don't know, actually listen to what the question was that I was asking.

Ok, rant over. Anyone else have customer service experiences that are at least entertaining to share?

{WHW}: Currently

Currently, I'm....

Reading ...
Still reading Reflection by Diane Chamberlain but I'm making steady progress in it lately!
Check out my post yesterday about the other books that I read before I got into my reading rut.
Watching ...
nothing really new lately. Standard Bravo shows...I can't really think of anything new that we've watched lately (which probably means that I've been reading more haha)

On the menu this week:
Monday: Cheesy Chicken And Broccoli casserole
Tuesday: Sun-Dried Tomato and Feta meatloaf
Wednesday: Bean and Mushroom Enchiladas
Thursday: Creamy Tortellini soup
Friday: Ravioli

Looking forward to ... 
our trip to Minnesota this weekend. Just hoping Ella recovers from her cold in time for her first plane ride, otherwise we will either have a really painful plane ride (popping congested ears is no fun) or we will have to cancel altogether.

water, coffee, and the Coldbuster last Friday...wishing I had more of them this week

morning smiles from my Ella bear...even on mornings where her nose is stuffed up beyond belief (in which case, I LOVE the Nose Frieda...mamas know what I'm talking about)
Getting an Instant Pot. I keep hearing amazing things about it, and it sounds right up my alley, but I'm always hesitant to get another kitchen appliance that will end up collecting dust, like what happened with The Ninja that we got for a wedding present. It did things, but nothing as well as my crock pot...and it was a huge thing to use as a "stove" I just found we never used it.
Anyone have experience with it and recommend it? My mom had mentioned getting it for us for Christmas if we wanted one.
#toinstantpotornot #thatisthequestion

getting through the airport for the first time with Ella. I feel so overwhelmed by the prospect of it all. Hoping my fears are worse than reality on this one.
Also, for mamas who have traveled before, does your breast pump count as a carry on? There's no way I'm checking that and risking it getting lost!

That MG's best friend and his wife just had their baby girl yesterday! His wife and I have been texting periodically over the past week, and even through her labor at the hospital. Yesterday was spent checking my phone obsessively for the first pics of the gorgeous babe!

Needing ...
my professional opinion to actually mean something instead of feeling like I'm always being questioned, especially in specific situations where I've logically and rationally explained WHY my opinion is what it is MULTIPLE times (and have been backed up by other professionals in my field). I did get a Master's Degree in my field....I just wish that and my 11 years of experience counted for something with certain people

Wearing ...
warm weather everything since temps dipped below freezing last weekend. They've steadied off into the 50's this week thankfully.
I have my Loft order that I talked about last Friday arriving today after work sometime--just in time for Minnesota!

Grateful For...
cough medicine and tissues

Now it's your turn to link up and share what's hap-"pinning" with you!

Books Books Books!

I know I've shared that I've fallen off of the reading train for a while since Ella was born, and especially since being back at work, but I'm getting back into it and making time for it because I love reading.
In the meantime, I realized that I never shared all of the books that I read this summer while I was on maternity leave (and before), and there were some good ones!

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
The Goodreads synopsis: "No stranger to the injustice of racial hatred, five-year-old Peekay learns the hard way the first secret of survival and self-preservation - the power of one. An encounter with amateur boxer Hoppie Groenewald inspires in Peekay a fiery ambition - to be welterweight champion of the world."

I got this book from my friend Christy who has yet to steer me wrong with a book recommendation. I must say, the description of the book made me less than excited to read it, BUT this book isn't about boxing. Boxing is the thread that ties this story together but it's more about life, and how meeting certain people can influence and impact you in different ways. I really enjoyed this book--it's over 500 pages and I read it in 2 weeks, reading it every chance that I got. I really enjoyed and loved the main character and everything that he stood for.
There were parts that were VERY descriptive, but I think it added to the book. Overall I gave this one 4.5 stars.

Deal Breaker by Harlan Coben 
The Goodreads Synopsis:
"Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret, and a man's lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed."

This book passed the time fine. It wasn't my favorite Harlan Coben book, but it still held my attention and had me wanting to know what happened in the story. If you like a mystery read, this might be up your alley. I gave it 3 stars.

No Way Back by Andrew Gross
Goodreads Synopsis: "A chance meeting with a stranger in a hotel ends in a shocking murder. Wendy Gould is an average mom--and the only witness. Nanny Lauritzia Velez knows a shocking secret that could prove to be deadly. Both of their lives in danger, this unlikely pair must work together against a network of dangerous men who want nothing more than to see them dead."
I stumbled on this book because I was interested in another book by this author that had amazing reviews. I think this one was $1.99 on Amazon so I figured what the heck? I wasn't impressed at all. The story seemed really far fetched, I didn't really like the main character and it just didn't do much for me. I basically skimmed the last part of the book to finish it.
I gave this one 2 stars and wouldn't recommend it. (Keep reading for a rec from this author that I DID love, though!)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
The Goodreads synopsis is really long, but basically this is about a woman who has been married for a while, and her marriage is kind of on the rocks. When she chooses a work obligation over holidays with her family, tensions get higher between them. Her family goes off for the holidays, and Georgie (the main character) discovers a way to communicate with her husband from the past, when they were dating which makes her think about and re-evaluate their current relationship.
It sounds far-fetched (and yes, it is), but the story here was actually really cute and kept me interested. If you've read and liked other Rainbow Rowell books, you'll probably like this one. It's a quick and easy read and makes you think about relationships.
I gave this one 4 stars.

The One Man by Andrew Gross
The Goodreads Synopsis (it's a long one, but good): "1944. Physics professor Alfred Mendl is separated from his family and sent to the men’s camp, where all of his belongings are tossed on a roaring fire. His books, his papers, his life’s work. The Nazis have no idea what they have just destroyed. And without that physical record, Alfred is one of only two people in the world with his particular knowledge. Knowledge that could start a war, or end it.

Nathan Blum works behind a desk at an intelligence office in Washington, DC, but he longs to contribute to the war effort in a more meaningful way, and he has a particular skill set the U.S. suddenly needs. Nathan is fluent in German and Polish, he is Semitic looking, and he proved his scrappiness at a young age when he escaped from the Polish ghetto. Now, the government wants him to take on the most dangerous assignment of his life: Nathan must sneak into Auschwitz, on a mission to find and escape with one man."

This was the original reason I'd looked into the other Andrew Gross book because this one had such good reviews. The story line was super intriguing and I've been into historical fiction since The Nightingale. This book did not disappoint! It was fast-paced, full of tension and drama, and kept me reading. It is intense!
If you love a good historical fiction, mixed with a thrill of a ride, I definitely recommend this one to you. Andrew Gross made up for the dud in No Way Back with this one!
I gave it 4.5 stars

Any must-reads to recommend for me??

Weekending: Frrrrrreezing

But for real, temps dipped below freezing this weekend. It was in the 70s a week ago. What in the actual you-know-what??? I'd like to experience Fall for more than a nanosecond, ok Mother Nature?

Anyway, this weekend was supposed to be jam packed with my best friend visiting, MG's best friend in town with the Vikings, a Friendsgiving, the Vikings game...and only one of those things happened but it was still a great weekend!

The highlights:

~Discovered a new drink at Starbucks to help when you have a cold thanks to Sarah--the Coldbuster--it definitely helped!
~Friday MG got to stay home with Ella, and brought her to visit me at work along with some lunch--she was an adorable bright spot to my day :)

~Our oldest niece had her signing day for college! So so proud of her, her hard work, and talent!
~MG, Ella and I went and grabbed pizza out on Friday for dinner, and later in the evening found out that MG's best friend had a cold and didn't want to bring any sickness to us, so wasn't going to come by on Saturday night after all

~Ella slept a whopping 13 hours Friday night! 

~After the amazing night of sleep, she went on to be an amazing napper and took two hour and 40 minute naps! So mama took advantage and got in a bunch of reading since I was basically just sitting there expecting her to wake up any second

~In the late afternoon we got ready to head over to my friend's house for a small Friendsgiving get together. I wore the Target top I mentioned the other week:
~We got there right at 4 because we weren't planning on staying long since we'd said originally that we couldn't stay because of our friends coming in town. But since that didn't end up working out, and another couple ended up not coming, we were able to stay for dinner. The set up was really cute, the food was great, and the friends were fab
~MG and I had to head home a little after 7 since it was after Ella's bedtime and she was making it known that she was overrrrrrr it lol

~Sunday morning started around 6:30am, but included apple pancakes a la MG

~Errands followed by football and a Vikings win--Ella was intrigued by the game
~We ordered Chuy's for dinner and picked it up because it was too cold out and Ella was sounding like she might be getting my cold (boo), and we didn't want to take her out in the cold. Chuy's is never a bad idea :)

~We Facetimed with family, and played before Ella's bedtime
~Got in some more reading, a little pre-bedtime snooze on the couch and tv downtime before hitting the sack!

Woke up to Ella having a stuffy nose and a cough--she didn't avoid my cold even though we did our best to avoid it...round 4...
Hoping that the cold temps warm up enough to feel less like the dead of Winter and more like Fall.
Hoping your weekend was friend-and-fun-filled, too!