Sunday, January 29, 2012

ALOHA! (Warning: long with lots of pics)

Mahalo T-Mobile! Our Maui trip was amazing!

In November, Mike received the Peak Achievement award from T-Mobile. It is one of their highest honors, and the award is an all expense paid trip for two to Maui, Hawaii. We decided to make it a family affair, as many other T-Mobile employees did, and added Brennan to our itinerary.

We left January 19th. After an EXTREMELY long day filled with a motion sick toddler, puke covered momma, and lost luggage (at the hotel) we fell into bed and slept wonderfully. We all woke up well rested and ready to go at the nice time of  7 a.m. Maui time, which felt like 11 a.m. to us, a nice little treat. Our days all started with a buffet breakfast on one of the lanais at the resort. The weather was amazing! Especially since we were leaving winter behind. Highs were in the 80s and lows were the 60s or 70s. We spent most of our days by the pool or at the beach. There was a scheduled lunch one day, and a trip to the Maui Ocean Center and the town of Old Lahania another. The pool was designed as a lagoon, with a water slide built in and a wading area for the children. The beach was beautiful with smooth sand a little darker than the gulf. It was hard to clean off, even with baby powder. The ocean was a gorgeous crystal blue. Whales swam all along the coast. We saw them jumping and blowing daily. We were comfortable in shorts and such throughout our trip, it never seemed too hot or too cold. The water was chilly, but was pretty comfortable by the afternoon.

Star fish at the Ocean Center

Most nights we had fun events to attend. Thankfully, our first night was a come and go buffet dinner as we arrived at the hotel. We were able to eat and run, since we were exhausted and no one could find our luggage for me to get clean clothes. Finally, around 1 a.m. central time another T-Mobile employee called to say that our luggage had been delivered to their room. They had arrived late and just found it. There last name was Brenner, so I guess the bellhops mixed the names up. Our second night was the awards dinner. The dinner was very casual and we all attended. Mike had his picture made with the company CEO and COO. They had a nice kid friendly buffet of pizza and such, and then an adult buffet of steak and lobster. The dinner was on a lawn by the ocean, decorated with Chinese lanterns and Hawaiian tablescapes.

The third night was an even more laid back beach party on the same lawn. We had our pictures made with parrots. A fun band played and there were beach balls and toys for the kids. Mike and I ended up refereeing a beach ball game played by 2,3, and 4 year olds. Brennan had no problem finding friends to play with everywhere we were.

The fourth night we all attended an authentic Luau. Our seats were pillows on the ground at a low table. After a buffet of roasted pig straight from the ground, fried rice, banana bread (B's favorite), and a few other traditional foods, we enjoyed a show of hula dancers.

Our fifth and last night we were on our own. We decided to go back to Old Lahania and ended up eating at Bubba Gump's. I guess I've unofficially begun a tour of Bubba's since this is my third or fourth. The areas we had access to were very commercialized and touristy. We thought there would be a lot of seafood, but actually found mostly burgers. We did get great gelato and Hawaiian shaved ice though.

Every night when we returned to our room, there would be a gift waiting for Mike. He received: sunscreen, a bamboo cutting board, a watercolor print, a Samsung tablet, and accessories. We both got to pick out Maui Jim sunglasses and T-mobile shirts and hats. Yep, we were a little spoiled.

We left Tuesday at 6 p.m. and were back in Huntsville about 12 p.m. Wednesday. The flights back were much easier, although we had a roller coaster ride of turbulence before we reached Dallas.

Overall, our trip was amazing. I don't know if I've ever enjoyed warm weather so much as I did with this little escape from winter (if you can call it winter here this year). It truly felt like paradise! We are still trying to adjust back to our normal routine, and not having the little pink card to pay for everything. I'm now even more ready for spring, and a return trip to Hawaii!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Picture Post

#8 Your Sky

The sun shining through the clouds on Maui.

#11 Closeup

A Lionfish at the Ocean Center

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Picture Post----Catching Up AGAIN

When I was teaching I tried to never have a bulletin board, project, etc. that I had to update everyday. I could never keep up if I did, and would get so frustrated when I got behind. (i.e. 100th day of school count when I taught first grade--ugh) This picture challenge has proven to be just as hard for me, maybe that's why it's called a challenge. Anyway, I do have fun when I get around to actually blogging and that's what really counts I guess.

#22 Shoes
Women's Hearthside Slippers, Scuffs, Medium B, 7, Persimmon
I love these slippers from L.L. Bean. I've had a red pair for four or five years. They are so cushy and comfy, and have held up really well. Today we got a new catalog with a $10 gift card in it. When I looked up the slippers they were marked down to $19.99. So I just got a new pair for $10! Woo Hoo!

...........And apparently that's all the catching up for today. I can't get any pictures to upload :(

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Picture Post

#17 Water
We've had our toes in the sand for most of the day today!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Our Travel Must

The Maclaren Volo

This stroller has been amazing on our trip! If you've shopped for baby gear recently, you know there are so many styles, choices, and prices for strollers. It can be pretty overwhelming to select the best for you, especially if you don't have the baby yet. I actually bought a different umbrella type stroller before Brennan was born . It seemed great at the time, and of course the big clincher--it was a cute polka dot pattern. It turned out to be the hardest thing to push with a baby in it, and it pinched my hand because of the way the handles folded. I sold it on Craigslist, and found this one (which a friend had recommended in the beginning by the way) at a consignment shop. 

They are a little pricey new, but it would be so worth it! It is super lightweight. I can fold it with one hand while holding a toddler in the other. It has a nice size basket and a nice size hood. The best part is that it maneuvers like no other stroller I've tried out. I can easily stroll it with one hand while opening doors, etc. Brennan seems to love it too. He rarely complains about being in it. The seat of ours is mesh. He is so hot natured, and that has really kept him cool on hot days. They do sell a seat cover if you need to use it in colder weather and want some protection from the wind. 

At the airport I was able to quickly and easily fold it to go through security, then Brennan rode in it and we checked it at the gate. Once we arrived at the resort it became even more useful. The grounds are expansive, so we've strolled Brennan everywhere and piled all of our gear in the basket. We can easily throw in our diapers, sippy cups, purse, camera, swim gear, toys, and not feel like pack mules trying to get from point A to point B. 

If I were registering again, this would be my number one pick. I have seen two of these at Marshall's for a little less also, so it might be worth watching for if you're in the market. 

Picture Post

#11 Where I Sleep
Where I sleep this week. Let me tell you, after 24 hours of travel, puke, missing bags, and a cold this bed was the most amazing sight. We started our travel day at 2:30 a.m.Thursday and ended at 2:00 a.m. Friday central time (10 p.m. in Hawaii). Thanks to a great nights sleep, our first full day in Hawaii was much nicer!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Picture Post

#1 You
ALOHA! Hawaii is wonderful and we are having a great time already! There aren't many pictures I like of myself, but it does help to have a fresh flower lei and a beautiful backdrop.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Picture Post

#26 Color

A few grays for this gray day. It's kind of funny that I love bold colors, but chose to share these grays as my color picture. I'm still trying to decide on a gray for our bedroom. Since I decided to paint it all myself, and we aren't quite ready for that part yet, I haven't rushed to choose the right color. The top left color is our bathroom already. The aqua swatch turned horizontal is the accent color I would like to paint a piece of furniture. The white is covering another color I had tried, and the rest are my current gray choices. So far I think I like the larger painted middle gray, but I also want to try the swatch on the right. Of course, they all look pretty different in the actual room. I'm going for a soothing palette of gray, cream, and aqua. It will be mostly neutrals with a little pop of color. Hopefully I will decide on a color and get started in February. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Picture Post-Packing Up

#13 In Your Bag

Is anyone wondering how we plan to entertain a toddler for 10 hours on an airplane? We have a bag full! Trust me, I've put a lot of thought into it. I've been putting books and toys back since we found out in November that we would be going to Hawaii. I've also found some ideas on other blogs and websites. I finished loading Brennan's carry on bag last night after he went to bed, so everything we pull out will be a surprise. Many of the items he has never seen, and then some are his favorites that I'm sure he'll look for over the next few days. Mike got a really nice backpack somewhere, and all of it's pockets and padded straps make it perfect for this task.

It looks like a jumbled mess here, but that's an example of all I have.

 Brennan has loved these books from Chick-fil-a kid's meals, and wants to read them over and over. This is one thing I started putting away, so we have several that he hasn't seen yet. I like how light weight they are.

I found this activity on a website, and there are more similar to it on my Stay At Home Fun Pinterest board. It is to practice using buttons. He can button pieces of felt onto the ribbon. A button is sewn on one end, and a solid piece of felt is sewn on the other end. The other felt pieces are cut to fit the button.

He also has: seek and find books, trucks and cars in a bag, a wood board puzzle, a blank notebook and stickers, a Color Wonder set, a small magna doodle, a blanket and stuffed animal, and various snacks.

Our first flight is a two hour early morning trip. Then we have a layover, and then fly 8 hours to Hawaii. I hope some napping occurs during that time, and the layover will give us a chance to get some energy out. I think we will be ok. Any other suggestions?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Two Year Old

It's still hard to comprehend that we have a two year old! Brennan does remind us often though. He is so much fun, but such a handful at the same time. He wants to be independent most of the time, and meltdowns are a regular part of each day right now. Thankfully so are hugs, kisses, and I Love Yous! He is a very snuggly, affectionate little boy. He loves playing on his own with trucks, puzzles, and books. We are often asked if we would like to play trains with him. One of his favorite activities is parking all his vehicles. He lines them up in nice neat rows.  He is learning new words and phrases constantly. He has this little way he tilts his head and asks questions that just melts me. His favorite question at the moment is,"Where did that come from?" I never realized how hard that question could be to answer! A few Brennan highlights:

He is 34 1/2 inches tall and weighs 30 lbs. He wears 2T and 3T clothes and a size 8 shoe. We moved to size 5 diapers (because they had some on clearance at Walmart :) and they work well.

He is a picky eater at the moment. He still wants baby cereal for breakfast, just plain with no fruit. He loves peanut butter, chicken nuggets, grapes, bananas, apples, potato chips, green peas, chicken noodle soup, carrots, and macaroni and cheese. He loves all crackers and goldfish, a little more than I would like.

He still takes a pretty good nap each day, usually around 2 hours. He sleeps around 11 hours at night but still often wakes and needs to be settled back into bed. According to his doctor, this might be because he is so active during the day that his brain has trouble slowing down at night. Can you say EXHAUSTING! Because he's so active during the day, and doesn't sleep through the night, I think my brain has completely shut down!

He astounds me often with his vocabulary and how he knows how to use the correct words. One day I was fumbling through my purse obviously looking for something before we went into Chick-fil-a. He said,"You got a coupon Momma?" Yes I actually did, but have never gotten coupons out there before. He doesn't miss a thing, ever.

There are several changes we will begin working on when we return from Hawaii. He still takes a pacifier, mostly for sleeping but it does sneak in at other times too.He often looses them and then has a melt down. That's a habit I'm ready to break. He now tells me when he is going potty but doesn't want to use the big potty. When I ask him to he says,"No I use my diaper." I want to give potty training a try. He likes to be a big boy so I think he may do well.

Overall, I'd say parenting a toddler is a little more difficult than the baby days but it is also so exciting. I love watching him learn and grow! Our third year is off to a great start!

Picture Post #14

#14 Something You're Reading
I have two books that I'm reading weekly right now. Living the Lord's Prayer by David Timms is the book our Sunday school class is studying. It breaks the Lord's Prayer into phrases and talks about how to apply it to life today. We say the Lord's Prayer every week at church, but it is interesting to slow down and really think about it's relevance in our Christian walk.

 Last week I started a new study with a Wednesday night group. We are reading Dr. James Dobson's Essentials of Discipline. This topic came along at a pertinent time for us with a two year old, and I'm looking forward to getting to know other parents at church since we haven't been there that long. Not too surprisingly, most of the parents attending have toddlers. So far we've talked about why we discipline. As a teacher, I know discipline in masses and I know some tricks for the ages I've taught. The biggest difference I'm finding with my own child is that it is 24/7, and being consistent 24/7 can be exhausting. It will be great to hear other perspectives during this study.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Picture Post

#7 Favorite
My favorite furry guy all snuggled up at his Pop's feet for a long winter nap.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Picture Post Catchup

Ok, this week has been weird and busy, although I couldn't really tell you what's made it that way. Maybe it's the fact that for the first time in three weeks we aren't getting the house ready for company this weekend. We loved entertaining three weekends in a row, but now it's time for my focus to shift and I've had trouble making that happen. I say all that to say OOPS, I have forgotten to post any pictures! Here's a little catch up:

#2 Breakfast
This wasn't actually his breakfast, but it is what he fixed himself while I fixed his breakfast. He got the box off the counter and poured his own cereal on the table. The picture doesn't really do it justice. There were Cheerios all over the table and floor. Just another chance for Wells to earn his keep.

#20 People I Love
My two faves celebrating Alabama's win Monday night.

#25 Something I Made
I made this camera strap cover for myself today, finally one I like for me.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Picture Post

#10 Childhood

  • A time when playing was one of the most important activities in your day.
  • A time when you might could get by with wearing a dinosaur hat backwards, fleece jacket, and sandals while reading a Thomas catalog and sucking a paci. 
  • A time when your mom learned to choose her battles wisely.
That's life with a two year old!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Picture Post

#19 Sweet
Chocolate topped with chocolate, topped with chocolate. Yum!

A Birthday Under Construction

The birthday celebrations continued at our house this weekend. We decided to try having Brennan's friend party a week after his big day. With his birthday smack dab between Christmas and New Year's, this date has been much less rushed for us. We also kept the party a little smaller. I was determined to have a nice party, but not go overboard. Of course it did get a little more involved than I initially planned, but I still kept it reigned in I think.

The theme was Brennan's infatuation, construction equipment. He can name most big machines and especially loves backhoes. Lucky for him his Uncle Pick also loves construction equipment, that's his business. He parked a backhoe in our front yard.

I probably don't have to tell you that a lot of the decoration ideas came from Pinterest. I used Brennan's construction toys, printed road sign clipart for the table decorations, and added balloons. My favorite decoration was the road table covers. I topped yellow plastic covers with a runner of black plastic (just a black plastic cover folded) and used yellow Duck tape to mark the road.

The food was very simple. I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing and crushed Oreo "dirt". There was ice cream, cheese puffs, and chips.

The favors were also pretty simple. For the younger guests (three and under) I made play dough to look like rocks. I placed the rocks in a plastic bag and topped each one with a small CAT construction machine. The older guests (5 to 11) happened to all be girls. I made each of them a personalized notepad, and added a couple of mechanical pencils and a fun eraser to their bags.

When the guests arrived, they each grabbed a personalized construction hat and headed downstairs to play. We served the food in what will be our bedroom in a few months, an actual construction zone. After gifts, they played some more. I think the birthday boy had a blast! He hasn't stopped yet!