Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tastefully Simple

Since I don't have enough going on in my life (ya know...Stay At Home Mom, part time Help Desk Engineer, Events Coordinator for my Moms Group, preparing for our trip around the world in less than a year...), I thought I would become an Independent Consultant for Tastefully Simple. This idea came to me when I recently had a Tastefully Simple party and learned that Consultants make 30% from the sales they receive. These sales can be through taste-testing parties, catalog parties, or online orders. I LOVE Tastefully Simple food, so why not make a little money while promoting a fabulous product.

I also know quite a few people who are Tastefully Simple fans so I figured finding people to host parties would not be a problem. Thankfully, so far, I was right! Right now, I have four people who have expressed an interest in having a party. And, why wouldn't they - all they have to do is open their house to a few friends and make a few Tastefully Simple dishes with samples that are provided by me. It's kinda like having a bunch of friends over for a party, but the good thing is that Tastefully Simple supplies the food! And, as an added bonus, the host gets free product based on the sales amount of their party. I received $97.50 worth of free product from the party I hosted last weekend!

I am excited about this new business venture! I am sure that I am not going to be able to become a millionaire by doing it, but I will be able to "party" with friends and get paid while doing it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 Video Year in Review

I read a lot of blogs and over the past few weeks, a lot of people did some sort of Year in Review highlighting what 2010 meant to them. I wanted to join in the fun, but I decided to do it a little differently. I have taken so many videos over the last year (mostly of Jacob, of course!). And, I had all intentions of sharing them, but then life got crazy busy and before I knew it, the videos were just sitting on my computer and no one but Keith and I got to see them. So, in celebration of 2010 coming to an end, I decided to do a "Video Year in Review". Here goes...

January 2010 - We rang in 2010 in PA visiting Keith's family, Jacob turned 7 months old, and life with a little one started to get really fun!

February 2010 - We endured our third snowstorm of the season, Jacob turned 8 months old, he went on a nursing strike and he started crawling!

March 2010 - Jacob turned 9 months old & had his first real bad sickness - coughing, wheezing & an ear infection . My niece, Chyler, was born and there was some concern that my MIL's cancer was back.

April 2010 - We visited Keith's family in PA for Easter, Jacob turned 10 months old & started pulling up to stand, and we spent some family time in Richmond for my niece, Sierra's 2nd birthday party.

May 2010 - Jacob turned 11 months old and started standing on his own & walking with a push toy. I celebrated my first Mother's Day and started working a part-time job from home. Jacob & I made the long trek to Rochester with Katie & Reid for my cousin's baby shower.

June 2010 - Jacob turned one year old and started walking! We traveled to PA to celebrate his birthday along with my MIL's birthday & Keith's cousin's high school graduation. We also had a party for Jacob at our house & to beat the heat, trips to the pool with Katie and the boys became a weekly ritual.

July 2010 - Keith and I painted our front porch over July 4th weekend, Jacob turned 13 months old and started to demand more independence, and we went on our annual vacation to Corolla, NC with my family.

August 2010 - Jacob turned 14 months old, Keith & I took at trip to Norfolk to tour the MV Explorer (the ship we will live on from January-April 2012), and my MIL came to visit for a week.

September 2010 - The weather FINALLY cooled off a bit and we spent a lot of time outside, Jacob turned 15 months old and he started climbing on everything!

October 2010 - Jacob turned 16 months old, we went apple picking, to the Bounce & Play and the Children's Museum (all for the first time), we spent time with my family for my nephew Reid's birthday & then again over Halloween weekend, and Jacob dressed up in his first costume!

November 2010 - We enjoyed lots of time outside in the beautiful Fall weather, our driveway got paved & we had a bunch of trees taken down around our house. We spent a week with Keith's family in PA for Thanksgiving. Jacob turned 17 months old.

December 2010 - Jacob turned 18 months old, we spent a lot of time getting ready for Christmas & then enjoying Christmas with my family in Richmond, and we said Goodbye to 2010!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Family is the most important thing to me - it always has been and always will be! I grew up with my extended family - my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins - all living relatively close to us . We all got together often for family events, holidays & just to visit and be together. I have such wonderful memories of large family gatherings and fun stories from the "kids table".

As the oldest child in my family, I am so blessed to have two sisters and a brother that I love so much! Growing up, we always had each other - even if it was just to bug one another! And, now that we are adults, we are closer than ever. It is so nice when we all get together and we can reminsce about our childhood, share stories about our current lives and discuss marriage, parenting and life in general.

I am hopeful that someday Jacob will have a sibling - or two - but for now, he is an only child. These days, between playgroups and spending time with his cousins, he gets plenty of interaction with other kids. We are so very blessed to live close to my sister Katie and her family. We only live about 10 minutes apart and we see each other at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. I love seeing the relationships that are forming between my sweet nephews and my son. Jacob adores both of those boys and is already starting to mimic things he learns from Pierce. I know that their love for one another will only grow over time and I am truly thankful that Jacob has them to learn from and to play with.

It is always a joyful - and sometimes chaotic - time when all of these kiddos get together. And when we are able to add my beautiful nieces into the mix, the joy and laughter is doubled! Unfortunately, my sister Karen lives 2.5 hours from us so the times that we are all together are few and far between. I am hopeful that someday we will all live closer to each other and all of the cousins can grow up together!

In honor of family bonds, the love of cousins and the immense joy that I feel to have all of these beautiful kiddos in my life, I thought I would do a picture timeline. Whenever we are all together, we try to get a picture of all of them, which isn't always an easy thing to do! I think it's awesome to see how much our family has grown as another sweet baby is added. I look forward to the next addition (although as far as I know, we have no babies on the way at this time!)

November 22, 2007 ~ Happy Thanksgiving!
Pierce - 11 months old

September 3, 2008 ~ Duck, NC
Pierce - 20 months old
Sierra - 5 months old

June 12, 2009 ~ Welcome Baby Jacob!
Pierce - 2 years, 5 months old
Sierra - 14 months old
Jacob - 5 days old

July 15, 2009 ~ Corolla, NC
Pierce - 2.5 years old
Sierra - 15 months old
Jacob - 1 month old

October 17, 2009 ~ Apple Picking
Pierce - 2 years, 9 months old
Sierra - 18 months old
Jacob - 4 months old

December 28, 2009 ~ Happy Holidays!
Pierce - 3 years old
Sierra - 20 months old
Jacob - 6 months old
Reid - 2 months old

March 10, 2010 ~ Welcome Baby Chyler!
Pierce - 3 years, 2 months old
Sierra - 23 months old
Jacob - 9 months old
Reid - 5 months old
Chyler - 6 days old

July 30, 2010 ~ Corolla, NC
Pierce - 3 years, 7 months old
Sierra - 2 years, 3 months old
Jacob - 13 months old
Reid - 9 months old
Chyler - 4 months old

January 8, 2011 ~ Pierce's Birthday Party
Pierce - 4 years old
Sierra - 2 years, 8 months old
Jacob - 19 months old
Reid - 15 months old
Chyler - 10 months old

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas is my by far my favorite holiday. I love the decorations, the yummy goodies I get to bake (and, of course, consume), the giving and receiving, the laughter, happiness and time spent with family! I also love that Jacob was old enough this year to start to learn about the REAL reason for the season. Of course, I know that he probably doesn't really "get it", but in my opinion it is never too early to start talking about the birth of Jesus!

As I spoke about in this post, he loves playing with the Little People Nativity Set & Inn at Bethlehem and he really got into reading the story of Jesus's Birth in his children's bible. He also loved when we would light the advent candles every night (and even asked to light them at breakfast & lunch too! "Candles...Candles").

This year, we decided to start a tradition and spend Christmas morning at home. We want Jacob to be able to wake up on Christmas morning at his own house and open his presents before we go to visit with family. We also may have started a new tradition on Christmas Eve this year as we had the Arnold family come over for dinner. Christmas Eve is also my nephew, Pierce's birthday so it was nice to all be together to celebrate!

On Christmas morning, Jacob woke up to see lots of presents under the tree. Santa had made a visit and we had also set out gifts that Keith's mom, aunt & uncle and cousins had sent. So many gifts for one little boy!!

Jacob also got some fun treats in his stocking - matchbox cars & a little stuffed Elmo. It was really cute watching him pull out all the cars once he realized what was in there!

Opening presents with Jacob this year was definitely different than last year, but it was still a loooooong process. It is hard to explain to an 18 month old that he needs to put that fun toy that he just opened aside because he has five other presents to open. After awhile, Jake finally finished upwrapping (with help from Daddy) and he took a break playing with his new toys to watch "Elmo's World Happy Holidays" while I made blueberry waffles for brunch. [Note: "Happy Holidays" became an instant favorite for Jake and even now, on January 15th - he still wants to watch it.]

After eating and more playtime, Jacob took a nap and Keith and I packed the car for our trip to Richmond. When Jake woke up, we headed to my parents' house. Originally, we were supposed to be celebrating Christmas with my entire family on the 26th, but because of the potential snowstorm that was to arrive on that day, everyone actually arrived at my parents' on the evening of Christmas Day. My grandparents flew in from Rochester and my siblings, their spouses and all the kiddos were there - 17 of us in all. We had dinner and then we let the kiddos open a few presents before bedtime. It was a bit chaotic, but it's fun to all be together. Here is a picture I took (while standing on a kitchen chair) of the "fun". Everyone except my niece Chyler (who was already sleeping) is in the picture.

Once the kiddos were all in bed, we did the adult present opening. It is a much more organized process and we go from oldest to youngest, each opening a gift one at a time. It usually seems to take forever, but this year it didn't seem to take as long. We were TRULY blessed to receive wonderful gifts and I really enjoyed watching my family members open up the presents that we bought. Sometimes I think giving is so much more fun than receiving!

Once again, it was great to have my grandparents with us on Christmas Day! They have been flying here from Rochester for the past few years and it is wonderful to get to spend time with them. I loved watching Jacob interact with them and was glad that he warmed up to them so quickly.

Jacob and "Nana"

Jacob and "Papa G"

The day after Christmas, my sister Katie and her family went back home, but the rest of us hung around. Some of us got all bundled up and went out to play in the snow that had fallen on Christmas Day & the day after. It was Jacob's first time walking around and playing in the snow and he seemed to enjoy it. It was fun to see him in the snow, but I am REALLY glad that we don't live in an area where it snows a lot. It takes a lot of effort to get a little kid all bundled up for just a few minutes of outside play time!!

Here is a video that I took of Jacob and my niece, Sierra playing in the snow:

On Monday the 27th, Keith came back home since he had to work December 28th-30th. Jake and I stayed at my parents' house and enjoyed time with my parents & grandparents. My brother & sister-in-law also recently moved in with my parents for a short while, so we were able to visit with them also. It was great to get to spend so much time together although it was bit rough at times since Jacob is going through a "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" phase (as in, Mommy must be able to be seen or heard at all times or he completely loses it - even with people he knows like my parents!). This meant that even though I had people around who could help me do things like bath or bedtime, he wouldn't allow it. Even so, it was still like a mini-vacation for me because I didn't need to worry about cleaning the house, doing laundry or cooking meals. I always feel a bit spoiled when I am at my parents' house and this time was no different!

Here is Jacob watching a video (probably "Elmo") with my mom on his new portable DVD player while my dad and grandpa watched an old western movie on TV.

Jacob enjoyed his daily "talks" to Daddy while we were away. He learned to say "Miss you" and "Love you" in addition to his other two favorites "Hi" and "Bye-Bye".
On New Year's Eve day, Keith came back to Richmond. I had to work my part-time job online that day, but that night, we went to my friend Trish's house for a New Years Eve party while Jake stayed with my parents. It had been a long time since I had been out on New Year's Eve and it was really fun catching up with old friends. We didn't get back to my parents' house til 2am so the next day was a bit rough, but it was worth it!

Because of our desire to be home on Christmas Day and us having to work (and Keith went to NYC for a workshop the first week in January), we decided not to make a trip to PA during the holidays. I know that Keith was disappointed that he didn't get to be with his family, but I think it was the best decision for us. We are hoping to make a trip up to visit them in February.

I am a little sad that Christmas is over. This year was definitely one of my favorites!! It seemed to get here so quickly and then it was gone in a flash. And just like last year, 2011 is already flying by - January is half over!! I am trying to enjoy every moment and take it all in because I know that before I know it, we'll be preparing for Christmas again!