Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day wistful

is not a recognized Holiday in the US, which is a shame. While my office is actually stocked today, my guess is many other people's offices are not.

So, Christmas Eve and Christmas were absolutely lovely. I strategically planned to put Mia down for her nap at 3:30 (instead of 12:30) so that when she woke up, she'd have a full tank of gas. And, it worked out perfectly! She was her happy, friendly, and hilarious self until 10:30, when she finally went to bed! We went to some family friend's house for Xmas eve, and really had a great time. There were games, libations, and excellent Filipino food. Then, back to our little home to put Mia down and set up for Santa's visit. We forgot to leave him cookies, but thankfully, he dropped the presents off anyway!

Mia, at 2 and 1/2, really got into it this year. We left the Santa gifts unwrapped and around the tree, and she was in absolute awe as she made her way down the stairs. She immediately noticed the pink tricycle from Grandpa C, and before we could direct her to any of her other presents, she had to do a lap around the kitchen island. Then, so on with the rest of the gifts. She'd open something, exclaim: "For me? This mine? Thank you! You open it, Mama?". I'd have to gently coax her into opening another, ad assuring her that she'd be able to play with everything eventually. She got several books that she wanted to stop and read, art supplies she'd want to stop and color with... (Also, I put a few aside to bring back out in a few weeks. Let her enjoy her new toys little by little.) She was absolutely delighted with everything, less enthused about clothes, but put her new pair of Toms from her Godmother right on.

After about an hour of relaxing and playing with Mia's toys, we got dressed and headed out to the movies to see Frozen. I didn't have any expectations about the story, but it was absolutely terrific! Mia was captivated and I definitely recommend it to anyone (with or without kids!). We had a little Christmas lunch at the only restaurant open within walking distance of the movie theater and spent the rest of the afternoon with friends.

It really felt like Christmas. Mia was just so happy, and even though B and I were on our own with her that morning, it felt so special and happy. Our little happy family. Mia is such a sweet little girl, that we seriously could not have been luckier. I hope everyone else had a fantastic holiday!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I do my relaxing at work

As with every year, it feels like this pesky thing called WORK is getting in the way of my Christmas. I am here, everyday, all day, puttering around with little projects not requiring my immediate attention. I have one measely little report to turn in to court on Friday, and I'm slowly gathering the required documents to just stretch it out, while also wandering around the office asking people how many people they intend to bring to the holiday party.

While there isn't much shopping left to be done (though a little -- just stockings), when I get home at night, I race around the house with varies beads and wires and gift boxes and shipping envelopes. Stop for dinner, sit down for 15 minutes to play with Mia, then upstairs for her bath and bedtime. Once she's settled, I sit down and put together the gifts for daycare, wrapping and tagging each item. After spending some time trying to remember everyone's names, I just write "love, Mia" on every tag and hope they don't have more than 10 staff members. At least that was last night. Then, at 9:45, I pull out my knitting needles to finish up some co-worker gifts for 20 minutes, and then, 10:15 bed, because as it turns out, I am also getting a cold.

Tonight, I do the same (minus the beads and wires and gift boxes unless I get more Etsy orders today!) except putting together gifts for work. Every year, I organize Secret Santa (except this year, when a new girl totally stole it from me which I hate her for) in the hopes that people still stop buying individual gifts as well, but every year, a bunch of little gifts show up on my desk. So, individual gifts it is, but always of the handmade variety, which, while it may be easy on the bank account, is NOT easy on time.

All of this while my husband, sits in his usual spot and wonders why on earth I am so tired. B, can you at least tie some bows or something?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

One item crossed off the Xmas to do

Mia may not be smiling, my hair may be in a ponytail, and people may not get it until after the 25th, but I think we still managed to look like a happy little family.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Birchbox: First Impressions

So, I think my turning 30 this year has made me much more aware of my quick descent into middle-age. I've always been somewhat mildly interested in make up, though in my adult life, my "daily beauty routine" never consisted of anything more than moisturizer and concealer. As I started working, I added on tinted moisturizer and blush. But that was it. Really.

But, since my pregnancy, I really started getting down on my appearance whenever I did a quick check in the mirror on bathroom breaks. Blame exhaustion from growing a person, and then exhaustion from raising a child, just yeah, blame exhaustion. That's really all it comes down to, isn't it? When you're tired, or stressed, or sick, you age?

So I started on my hair experiments, which have been pretty successful. As an update to that, I've noticed dryness creeping back into the picture since I am not conditioning as often (damned if you do, damned if you don't, amirite?) so I'm on the hunt for a deep conditioner, if anyone has any recommendations.

With a hair routine now set, and with results that have really made me feel good about myself, I decided to start spicing things up with my skincare, too. I started reading The Small Things Blog a little while ago, and have been trying a few things out. I've added eyeliner, and even lipstick! I also want to do a bit better in taking care of my face, eyes, etc. So, when I started hearing about those monthly beauty box subscriptions, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. I think there are a few out there, but I decided on Birchbox because of the price ($10/month) and its general popularity. I got my first one a few weeks ago, and I was pretty underwhelmed until I started using the products. With Birchbox, you get 4 samples of products based on your member profile, every month of varying sizes. You get one additional non-beauty item, like teas, chocolates, things like that. I've found the sample sizes of the beauty products to be pretty decent. I've been using some of them daily and still have product left to take me through the end of the week, at least! So, here are my thoughts on what I got in my box in November.

I got:

DDF Amplifying Elixir: This stuff is nice, I feel like my skin has gotten some nice hydration. I don't think I'll be buying this product full size, since it costs $70, but I will consider adding in a serum if I can find one that is more affordable but still not greasy, like this one.

Ayres Body Butter in Midnight Tango: As far as body lotions go, it's nice and thick but the smell is not at all my style. It's musky and strong - kind of like patchouli. Maybe in another scent?

Supergoop CC Cream: This stuff was the best. I absolutely loved it, and it was leaps and bounds better than the BB cream I was using. I've been using BB creams for about a year now, but whatever the difference is that elevates a BB to a CC is significant. I ordered the full size yesterday and just squeezed out the last dollop from the sample, so I hope it gets here fast!

Fatty Sunday Pretzels: A tiny bite - tasted good, so a nice little treat, I guess?

and a dark blue nail polish, a brand I had never heard of. It is a pretty shade, but I haven't had any time to do my nails. Maybe Saturday!

So, all in all, I'm pretty thrilled with my decision to subscribe to Birchbox. I'm super excited to get my December box, which should be on its way to me any day now! I'll take pictures of my next one to include in my review.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Hurdle

In addition to the aforementioned sickness, whose lingering effects are evident from the bottle of pepto bismol safely tucked in my desk drawer just in cases, this was THE week I've been dreading for several weeks. My mind has looked at every event and related it back to this week. I remember hearing about the Sound of Music live on NBC being on December 5th, and my stomach tying itself in knots thinking of it as my deadline to submit some documents to our outside counsel. Everything related back to this week, December 9th, 10th, and 11th. I realize I'm being cryptic on what was going on, but I assure you that it is only to do with work, and completely beside the point.

Things did suck, for those three days, culminating in less suck on the 11th, where I managed to play my own role very well. I was proud of myself and felt very well prepared for the 11th (date of hearing), so going into the morning, I wasn't too anxiety ridden. Anyway, things weren't as fine as they could have been (we didn't win anything) but now I've got time to do work on everything, and know exactly what needs to be done. So, all in all, R.E.L.I.E.F. December 12th, and I (and the Company) am alive and well.

So relieved, that I am finally finally allowing myself to think about the holidays! I already decorated our house (in an effort to distract myself from the fact that everyone was away from their desks during Thanksgiving week when hello! there is so much to be done, why are you all away when all I want to do is call you a gillion times a day!) So, now, with very little on my calendar between now and January, I am officially in Christmas mode. Unfortunately, it also means I only have 2 weekends left to do ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS!

As soon as I got home last night, I wrangled my two unwilling family members into some nice clothes, set the camera on automatic timer and took our Christmas photo. It may not be the nicest quality, and we may all look a bit haggard, but I'm sure I'll manage to find a decent enough photo. It may not go on Pinterest, but it will do just fine. I have been working on Mia's annual calendar (our yearly gift to all sets of Grandparents) throughout the year, so hopefully just a few finishing touches will do the trick.

This Saturday, B and I are hosting our second annual holiday get together with two sets of couple friends. I briefly considered having a bigger, real, Christmas party to solidify some of our newer 'friends', but in the end, a dinner party was all my brain could muster at the beginning of the month when invitations needed to be issued. B is making the dinner, and I will make homemade ceasar salad, and a bundt cake. I did the majority of our Christmas shopping online just a few minutes ago and decimated my Etsy bank account, but it's all on its way to the happy recipients (and one to my own house for B).

We still have to visit Santa, see the holiday flowers at the Bellagio conservatory, wrap and put together daycare gifts, co-worker gifts, and friend gifts. This is a to-do list I will happily check off!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sick part two millionth

I hate writing about when we've all gotten sick. I wish I could just gloss over it when it happens, but when all three of us are sick, it is just so debilitating that I'd just let the silence go on until something new and exciting happened. And maybe that's what I should do instead, but I really don't like it when it starts creeping up on one week of no posts.

Anyway. Enough blathering.

We're sick! Weird, I know. On Saturday, Mia and I went to an indoor play gym, which was tons of fun but it turns out, infested with rotavirus, or norovirus, or whatever virus it is that makes all family members gag at the sight of food or dashing to the bathroom every forty minutes. We'll go back to the play gym, hopefully by the time we go back, we'll be immune to that place's virus lord. It feels like a stomach bug hits us every time we get exposed to some new child-dominated place. Once when daycare started, another time when Mia started hanging out i the 2 year old room, and now, the indoor play gym. Yuck.

This week though. The worst week for me to get sick. While B and Mia malaised at home, I had to be at work for some meetings. Excuse me rotavirus, I am booked until Thursday, didn't you get the memo? So, here I am on Tuesday, still feeling ill while my family has returned to their own respective places, quite perky from their day of rest.

One more full night's sleep and I'm sure I'll be right back to normal, though by then, I'll be able to take a sick day.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Teaching a 2 year old a second language

I'm bilingual. While my fluency in French may be rusty, it's there. Up until high school, I went to French language schools, read in French, spoke French to my friends, everything in French. In High School, I spoke French for an hour a day, because there was a little program in my high school for French kids. There were three of us, and one teacher, and we did correspondence courses, culminating in a French high-school equivalency exam at the end of my Junior year. The program was intended for those who were planning on going back to the "mother country" at the end of their parents stints abroad. While none of the people in my class actually went back to France, we could have.

My Dad's family is all in France. The younger folk speak English with a lovely and thick French accent. The older generation? Not a lick. I mean, my grandmother gets confused when B answers the phone and they can't even make basic small talk with one another. My grandmother turns 90 in March, and Mia and I are flying there for the party to meet up with the rest of my family. That's 4 months away. I'd like Mia to have at least a basic understanding of French by then, or my dual citizenship might be revoked.

So, I've been casually looking for tips on how to do this, but most are short articles listing various methods. (Bilingual toys, Dora/Diego, almost everything is Spanish) How about someone real? So, while I'm doing it in real time, I'll try a few things out, and share them here. Realistically, I know that me speaking French to her 100% of the time would be the best and quickest way for her to learn, but I don't think it's realistic for me. B doesn't speak French, and how exhausting would it be to have to translate? Very.

Instead, a few months ago, I had decided to start French Saturdays - the only day Mia and I are consistently on our own while B is at work. But, truthfully, I've been really bad at it. Saturday mornings, I usually plop Mia down in front of a movie while I do some housework. At first, I would switch the movie from English to French and she didn't seem to have any objections to it, and reply to her multiple requests for cheese in French, but then I kind of... forgot about it. So, here I am, creating some accountability for myself. FRENCH SATURDAYS.

I'll write about how it's going, whether I manage to find anything else to help, some french speaking toddlers who will just teach my kid for me, perhaps? Probably not. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Family seeking three row automobile

Full disclosure: I was invited to attend the Las Vegas Motortrend Auto Show by some Toyota reps, the opinions on the vehicles are 100% my own. Truth be told, we were already planning on going, so the email was just a bonus!

So, cars. They remain on my brain. Last year, we thought we were going to trade in my car for a bigger, mommy-type car. And then we weren't, because we wised up and realized that having two car payments sucks (and still does) so let's wait. And waiting we are, but I am determined not to make an emotional decision this time around.

The earliest we could possibly be looking at trading my car in is March 2014. If we wait a few months longer, we're in better shape still. A few more payments towards my car means a bigger trade in value, etc. So, we're aiming for the summer of 2014 unless something comes up to derail us (or to speed up the need...). Either way, I'm doing my homework and test driving three row cars until I am fully decided.

What better place to go to get an idea of what is on the short list but the Las Vegas Motortrend Auto Show? This was actually our second time going, because, well, we thought we were buying a car last year, too! But, the last time we went, we concentrated on two row cars, and I've 100% ruled that out. 3 rows, or just stick with the same darn car.

Mia in the front seat of the 2013 Highlander. Pretty nice-looking dash!

We went through two of the cars pretty thoroughly. I didn't get a good look at the Sienna, mostly because I'm not that interested in having a minivan, and it was occupado for a lot of the time we were there. First, the 2013 Highlander, which seems like the logical choice. Decent gas mileage, three rows, nice looking. The seats were easy to maneuver, and it was low enough to the ground that getting out didn't require a step ladder. The driver's seat was comfy, the passenger seat was comfy. But, there wasn't much cargo room with the third row out. While that isn't a deal breaker, it was a bit of a downside. There was limited access to the 2014 Highlander since it isn't out yet, but we're told that it's expected to have additional trunk and leg room in that 3rd row, so we'll take a look at it when it does come out at the dealerships.

We also looked a the Sequoia. Now... I am not sure what it was about that car, but I was so into it. It looked big, like, from the outside, but when I was sitting in it, it just felt good. Like, it felt like I had lost 20 pounds when I was sitting in the driver's seat, and I did all the fiddling with this one that I did with the Highlander, and it all just seemed to click better. This car and I were one. I even sat my butt down in the third row, and you know what? It was comfortable. Like, I could sit in this back row for hours and I would be fine, comfortable. Like a minivan, but sexy.

This is us in that luxurious 3rd row - see how my legs don't touch the second row? Yeah, me too. More leg room in this 3rd row than in my current car's 2nd row.
Alright, so back to reality though. With the Sequoia, you can't have your cake and eat it too. While I was gushing about the car, my husband, ever the environmentalist, steered me towards the gas mileage card. 17 mpg, highway. That is probably pretty good, compared to most full-size SUVs, but considering my car current gets 45 mpg (Honda Insight) - that's a tough pill to swallow. We'll have to check the pros and cons on that one, whether we'll have enough family in town to justify a full size SUV, whether we'll make more children, whether we want to pay the price for the comfort.

Having never driven either car, both are on the list. B likes the reasonableness and absolute convenience of the Highlander, while I am being a bit cheeky and leaning in the Sequoia direction. The latter might be a better option for a different family - you know, one with older children, with many activities and many THINGS to go with those activities.

After visiting the rest of the show, we also have on the list the expanded Hyundai Santa Fe, the Honda Pilot, and the Nissan Pathfinder.

Monday, December 2, 2013

2 Week Update - with pictures!

It's been two weeks. I'm not sure how that happened, but there it went anyway. We've done a lot in the past two weeks, and not much of it was done in front of a computer, so that could be part of the reason.

Two weekends ago, we took a nice trip to L.A! More specifically, we were in Santa Monica. We left early Saturday morning, to get in around lunchtime on Saturday, and took an unfortunate 7 hours to get home, but LA to Vegas traffic is no joke, especially during a holiday week. It was really fun, though. We checked out Shop House, the new Asian restaurant by the Chipotle folks. My opinion: definitely delicious, but, like Chipotle, will take a few visits to figure out the right combination. We spent an evening at the Santa Monica Pier. The girls rode the ferris wheel - the boys were too chicken. The boys played some games and won a couple of the very small stuffed animals. One went to Mia, the other, to their own baby (a yorkiepoo).

I took Monday off, so it was a quick 1 and a half day work week for me (our office closed at 1pm on Wednesday), and then, a nice few days away. I spent Wednesday afternoon at the grocery store, Wednesday night prepping, and Thursday morning cooking pumpkin pie, scalloped potatoes, and mini hotdogs. We spent thanksgiving with Brian's co-worker and her family and had a lovely time.

A kids table! It was excellent - not having to fuss over whether she was eating or not! And she did! Eat!
 The rest of the weekend, I obsessively made earrings for the Etsy Shop. I decided to try my hand at some earrings, and once I got started, I just couldn't stop. Twice my budget later, and I've made about 25. I know what I'm giving the daycare ladies!

Promptly the day after thanksgiving, I went through the Christmas boxes and everything was up by Saturday night! Including our newest addition, Pippin the Elf on the Shelf.

Lastly, and sorry to end on sad note, but we said goodbye to our Chloe last Friday. If you'll remember, I had posted a while ago about Chloe being on her last leg. Well, almost a year and a half later, and it was true. She started having some blood in her urine and wincing when her abdomen was touched. And most alarmingly for our little glutton, she stopped eating. So, it was time.

Goodbye, Chloe. We miss you, but as we explained to Mia, you went away to rest.