Holiday Card Lists

Cards are on my mind these days. I started working on our Valentine's Day cards this weekend. I also just wrote a post for TheChicagoMoms.com about why I think we received less holiday cards this year.

Answer: I have a hunch we're getting bumped by people who keep a check list each year and only mail to those who sent them a holiday card. Have you heard of this way of putting together holiday card lits? Well, we don't send holiday cards, but send Valentine's Day cards instead. So, does that count?

I just think that only mailing to those who mailed to you the year previously kind of takes the spirit out of holiday cards. Do you agree?

Check out my post for TheChicagoMoms.com here.


Critter Control

In the middle of the night on Thursday Howie jumped off the bed, barking ferociously, and ran into the kitchen like a rabid beast. Then he stalked our mouse zone. Something was clearly in there, yet the traps were mouse free. I woke up every hour for the rest of the night.

First thing Friday morning I called Critter Control. Matt left for his ski trip Thursday after work and, seriously, the thought of chasing a mouse around the house with Howie, W, and my sixth month pregnant self all weekend was well worth the cost.

I had no other option if I wanted to sleep while Matt was away for the weekend. They were here within a few hours. The guy was friendly, found the point of entry, and verified there was not a nest or colony.

I specifically told him I wanted to know how many eyes were staring back at him when he climbed under there. He saw none. Good sign, right?

Then he sealed the entry point and mentioned that if there were any others still inside, they won't be able to make it back outside and may barge their way out another way. As in through the house.

That's when I mentioned that my husband was out of town for the weekend and I wasn't down with chasing a loose mouse around the house. And then I realized I just told a complete stranger, who had done a review of the entire exterior of my house that I would be alone with a 2 year old. My mind flashed to every Dateline episode I've ever watched.

I followed it up with mention of how crazy my dog is, so crazy that I had to send him to my parents knowing Critter Control was coming over. (This is true, Howie is not good when people come to our house for work of any kind, he just barks and jumps all over them.) I neglected to mention that he's a cuddly, long-haired, adorable 25 pounder, but he didn't need to know that. And to make matters even better, I continued to talk myself into a hole and said that I might make my dad stay over just in case anything happens... with the mice.

He seemed genuine, totally nice, but the idea of a random guy knowing I was home alone just didn't sit well. Deep down I knew I was fine, but I did check all the windows and doors a little obsessively. And my dad came over to reset the traps for me. I'm sure the poor Critter Control guy left thinking "That pregnant lady is delusional if she thinks I'll be coming back to attack her and steal her dumb laptop."


How To Catch a Mouse

Last week I woke up to Matt whisper/shouting my name, telling me he needed help. I assumed it was W waking up with another bout of stomach flu, but instead Howie had cornered a mouse behind the couch. That's right: Mouse in the house.

I *might* have raised my voice and scared Howie off to the bedroom (not good, considering he was our best chance of actually catching it). This only resulted in our scampering around, coming up with a plan, shrieking (me, not Matt), and then focusing on the plan: Matt would use a broom to usher mouse into the empty shoe box I was holding, then release outside. It was an intense couple of minutes.

But, then we got him, and as Matt steadily came down with the broom, the mouse stopped moving and there may have been some blood. And our little mouse friend was done for. The shoe box would be his final resting place.

I came up with some very logical reasons for how the mouse got in: An open door, the drier vent hose-thingy broke that was broken earlier that week, maybe he crawled down the chimney. All seemed like logical answers for the fact that there was only one mouse seeking warmth and we took care of him. I went to bed feeling good that night, confident it was a done deal.

And then Matt decided to investigate further and found traces of a mouse in the uninsulated area way under the kitchen sink, a corner of the house you can barely reach. We set a trap with a little cheese to see if our deceased mouse had left behind a friend. Nothing. Trap went unsprung for days. Then one morning the cheese had been snatched, but no mouse was left behind. Apparently our mouse had an accomplice.

Matt took to the web and -- after some insightful research -- learned that the best thing to put on a mouse trap is peanut butter. So, he put peanut butter on two traps, positioned them in the scary area, and wouldn't you know... I woke up this morning and was informed that we had caught not one, but two mice. Now our mouse issue is a mice issue. (I know, insane, right?)

I worked from home today and BRAVELY encouraged Matt to reset the traps. I listened carefully for any snap noise, kept checking them, totally freaking about what I might find... And nothing all day. It's like a horror movie.

A horror movie that gets worse... Because Matt is going skiing this weekend. What if a mouse gets loose? Seriously! What the heck would I do? I shudder to think of it. Ugh.

I know, I know... It's ridiculous for me to freak out. We have no signs of mouse activity outside of this one area, no chewed open bread bags or cereal boxes or those other gross signs. They're contained. And we have a 50+ year old house and it's been about 50 degrees below zero. Of course a mouse found a way in! What are the chances that we got the three free loaders or that taking a few down will lead any others to retreat and kindly exit stage left?

Let's hope we've won the war.

NOTE AFTER ORIGINAL POSTING: This morning the traps were mouse-free, but some of the peanut butter seemed to be missing. To play it safe, Matt tightened the spring. This could be a good sign.


Our New Year's Eve at Revolution Brewing Company

We had an awesome New Year's celebration this year. Seriously, I don't think I've ever been able to say that before, as New Year's is one of those holidays that constantly raises our expectations and then doesn't deliver.

Call me cynical, but seriously... New Year's just usually ends up disappointing. You pay too much money and have to wait in lines for drinks and eat cold food and the bathroom is always dirty or never has toilet paper and drunk people get pushy and you have to fight for a cab to get home. And then you wake up with a hangover.

But, not this year! We went to the family-friendly party at Revolution Brewing Company after our friends, Kari and Anthony invited us to join them. They hosted a 5:00-7:00 party before their regular party and I was apprehensive at first, but it was pretty awesome. We all had a great time and I'm loving this whole family-friendly New Year's party thing. So, I wrote about it for TheChicagoMoms.com. Check in out here.


My WGN Chicago Spot

A couple of weeks ago I did a little spot on WGN. They all could not have been more pleasant. Dina Bair was sweet and made me feel really comfortable.

In case you didn't catch it, here you go:


Cleaning Out The Kitchen

As I mentioned last week, we finally pulled the trigger (and had the cash) to get a new refrigerator and stove. They've been delivered, installed, used, and we're in love. (Though I have to admit they really make our flooring and countertop replacement seem more urgent.)

My goal was to get through the food we had in the house and I was shocked by what (good) meals I was able to pull together. I didn't go grocery shopping for anything special, but we somehow ate better than we do most of the time:

Monday: Risotto with peas and baked chicken thighs with sweet onions
Tuesday: Salmon, rice, and broccoli casserole
Wednesday: Root vegetable soup (I had this in the freezer from earlier this month, roasted the Brussels sprouts, onions, and parsnips we had in the fridge, added some chicken broth and threw it in the crock pot)
Thursday: Chicken with corn, black beans, and tortillas (the only successful crock pot recipe that I've developed)
Friday: Ordered pizza
Saturday: Oven fried chicken and broccoli with American/Pepperjack cheese sauce

Without shopping for two weeks (except running to the store for milk), we were able to cover all of our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners from food we had on hand. (Yogurt, granola, cereal, and oatmeal for breakfasts and frozen soup, leftovers, and odds and ends for lunch.) And we still threw away a full garbage bag and a half of expired, freezer burned, or half eaten food.

Realizing how much food we had on hand made me feel like a total food hoarder. I'm not sending in an application for the show just yet, but what the heck? And think of how much food and money gets wasted... I'll never again be able to say we have nothing to make for dinner. If I feel that way, I'm obviously not looking close enough.

Hope this inspires you to take a look through your fridge, freezer, and cabinets and see what you can create. Waste not, want not. Right?


Chicago Wolves Game: "More Thunder!"

Our lucky little man has been able to experience some pretty great things in less than two and a half years. We're still not sure about what he's ready for, but we're willing to give most things a try. When I was invited to attend a Chicago Wolves game for their Social Media and Family Blogger night I thought it would be a great way for us to show the little guy something special and fun.

Everything about the game and events sounded incredible family-friendly, but I was just getting over the stomach flu. (Let's just say if it weren't for the VIP/Media parking pass, I may have had to skip.) We ended up skipping the Fun Fest beforehand (would have been fun), so picked up our tickets and then went to find our seats.

I realized something really quickly: Chicago Wolves games are super family-friendly. I mean, there were kids everywhere, which made me feel good. Honestly, I still get intimidated walking into places with W and noticing that there aren't many other kids. Walking into Allstate Arena for a Wolves game with a two year-old is a very comfortable experience.

We grabbed a couple of soft pretzels and waters, then sat down in our terrific seats just in time to see the pre-game fireworks. Our little guy went crazy for it, except when the the fire shot out of the giant wolf mouth that the players skated in on. The reaction: Pointing at it and asking me to "Make that meany thing go away!" and then trying to blow out the fire. It was sweet.

As the game was about to begin Black Eyed Peas came on and we knew that music-wise W would be very happy. I'm not sure how long he was interested in the actual game, but he quickly started to demand "more thunder" (translation: fireworks) and then got squirmy. Toward the end of the first period, he started to ask to go home. And then became more and more persistent (chanting "Let's go home!" while the crowd chanted "Let's go Wolves!"). Soon we smelled a dirty diaper, but had to be respectful of hockey etiquette and wait for a break in the game. (Later we realized that this was the beginning of the little guy's flu experience.)

Poor Matt had to change a really dirty diaper on a changing table in the men's room positioned over the sinks with kids visibly freaking out about how gross it was (can't really blame them). It didn't go well and we had to head out at that point, which meant we missed the cookie party between the 2nd and 3rd periods.

I wish we would have been a healthy trio for the game, because I'm sure W would have loved to stay longer, especially if the Wolves were scoring (more fireworks). For now I think he might be a little young for it, but I'd be more than willing to give it another try.

Note: We received three game tickets, a gift bag, and VIP parking complimentary. I was not compensated in any other way to write this post.


Crossing Things Off My 2011 List and Frozen Dinners

Remember the little New Year's post I wrote with a couple of things I wanted to do in 2011. Well, consider one crossed of the list. New refrigerator and stove = done.

Wow, you had no idea I was such a go-getter, did you?

Honestly, it's just gotten to the point that we can't handle it any longer. The freezer burn and broken shelves of the fridge drive us insane and the random way the stove cooks and two non-working burners have taken a toll on my psyche. I've dealt with it for two years, but as of Friday they will be distant memories. 'Cuz I bought new ones!

We went to Abt yesterday to "look around" and decided to move forward. With both of us working full-time, we just don't have the time to go from store to store and honestly Abt is the only place I ever want to shop for appliances (or anything) with a two year old. The aquarium, fountain, chocolate chip cookies, games, cleanliness, friendly staff, etc. more than pay for any difference we might find elsewhere. Yes, we have even gone there on a cold Saturday when the kiddo needs something to look at and we can take turns looking at cameras and computers. (It's amazing the things you'll do to occupy your kid.)

This recent development is huge in a way I can hardly explain. Since I work from home on Fridays, I set up delivery for between 7 am and 9 am when I'll be skipping around the house in my pj's, (not so) patiently waiting for their arrival.

But, here's the deal: Our fridge and freezer have plenty of food in them, so I'm determined to make our way through what's on hand this week and did not go grocery shopping. Instead, I've looked through what we have and found plenty of frozen soup that has been in there since last year, chicken, tilapia, brocoli, soy nuggets, peas, and some other random impulse buys from Trader Joe's. A little thawing and creativity and I'm going to work our way through it. When really looking through our cabinets I realized we could live for a few weeks on what we've got in stock. I think we'll make it through this week just fine... Especially knowing there's a prize at the end!

Man, I love a good challenge.


Piece of Paper

In the midst of the great flu attack on our household, I had my 20 week ultrasound, which is an important one for lots of reasons that include making sure the baby is healthy, growing on track, hearts looks good, etc. etc. It is also THE ultrasound that many people excitedly wait for because it reveals the baby's gender.

With W we did not want to find out. I knew that I was having a boy from the second I saw the positive pregnancy test. You could not convince me otherwise. When he came out and they announced it was a boy (I think that's how it went down, it was all rather hazy) I just shrugged. I knew.

This time my instincts say girl. They have from the very beginning. Again, I'm feeling positive. I never thought that I would find out the baby's gender in any pregnancies, but this time I thought it would be a good idea.

Here is how I justified this decision:

1. It will help prepare W for what I fear will be a rough transition.

2. It will allow me to get the nursery ready and all appropriate clothes pulled out of storage, washed, and in drawers.

3. I cannot for the life of me think of a boy name that I like, but we have a girl name ready to go.

4. And here is where I admit that it's really all about me... I HATE being wrong. (Shocker, I know.) What if I'm wrong this time and it's a boy?

All good, logical reasons, right? And then there's this: I never felt a connection with W when I was pregnant. I didn't want to hug my belly. When women say they just can't wait to meet him/her, I kind of shrug (and maybe roll my eyes). I can't imagine chatting with my baby belly. I mean, really... When is the last time you had a chat with your foot? That's what it feels like to me.

I don't think it means there is something wrong with me. I'm just not that Earth Mother, pregnancy lover. It's just not me. So, maybe I'm wondering if this would change anything. Not that I care or feel like it's something that has to be changed...

Anyway, back to my point... So, we went to the ultrasound and started to have second thoughts about finding out the gender. We decided to ask the technician to write it down on a piece of paper that we can take with us. This woman obviously did this before. She enclosed it with layers of post-its and taped it closed around all sides. No sneaking a glimpse, no holding it up to the light. It's locked down. And it's sitting on a table. It's been there for almost five days.

This would drive most people crazy, but not me. I don't hear it calling my name. I'm not thinking about it every moment of the day. It's not really bugging me at all. We'll look at it when the time feels right. I know I'm driving my friends and family nuts, but we don't want to know bad enough to look just yet. Soon enough, I figure.


On Being Wrong and the Great Stomach Flu of 2011

There's wrong and then there's WRONG. And I was totally wrong (and even a little cocky) in thinking that somehow I had successfully kept the flu contained. The Great Stomach Flu of 2011 it took down little W on Monday and, as of this evening, its newest victims are Matt and my mom.

I've done countless loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom again, and cupped my hands to receive puke at least five times now. I've replenished the diaper stash, gone through an economy sized package of wipes in less than 48 hours, and washed my hands dry. I learned even thinking I could control the spread of this flu was ridiculous.

Don't plan on coming anywhere near this house of horrors for a while.


When You're Pregnant With Stomach Flu

Because things are never boring around here, the first weekend we had very little planned and just hoped to play catch up, I got the stomach flu. Ugh. (For us, very little planned means a Wolves game, play date brunch, baby shower, and possible dinner guest.)

However, stomach flu happens. Sure, it sucks. But, we've all had it and deal with the torture for 24-48 hours. When stomach flu happens and you're pregnant and you can't hold anything down for about 10 hours, your doctor tells you to go to the hospital to get an IV.

I fought the whole hospital thing. I really didn't want to spend most of the day there. I kept having long moments of feeling better and convinced myself I'd be OK. I even managed to get some work done, but then a sip of water would send me running back to the bathroom. I was wrecked.

And I was wrong to not want to go to the hospital. Yes, sitting in the waiting room for 45 minutes sucked and the bed was uncomfortable and I was cold and spent a few hours there, but this is what I learned: When you're pregnant and you have the flu and your doctor tells you to go to the hospital to get an IV: GO!

I can't tell you how much better I felt once I had a bag of fluid and some anti-nausea medicine pumped in my vein. Don't get me wrong, I'm still not feeling terrific, but I would have been in much worse shape if I didn't get the nausea under control and some fluids in my body.

So, if you're like me, and try to avoid the hospital and think you can power through anything... Well, here is one situation where I'm admitting that I was wrong. (Shocking, I know! It doesn't happen often.)

Luckily, everyone else in the house seems to have dodged this bug and I'm pretty much over it. When you're a sick mom, the first thing you think is to contain the germs so your kid doesn't get sick. And that was my first thought: Wash hands and be careful. My mom came over while I was at the hospital and washed the towels and wiped down everything she thought I might have touched. And then when I woke up Saturday morning I scrubbed the bathroom clean. (I even took a tooth brush to the toilet - not kidding. It was oddly fulfilling.) And that's where we are now. I have yet to eat a meal, still living on crackers and Gatorade, but I'm better.

Again, moral of the story to all the pregnant ladies out there, when the doc says it's IV time, take the offer.


This Isn't Intended To Be A Political Post... But I'm Sure It Is

I was just getting ready to write a post about the insane flu that I had yesterday and my lovely trip to the hospital to get an IV, but as I sat down I saw the news of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in my Twitter stream, so I checked the NPR web page and turned on CNN. And, yup. Wow.

I'm not an FBI agent, but from my point of view this was obviously a politically-motivated attack or she would not have been shot point blank in the head by an idiot 22 year old during an outreach event with her constituents at a grocery store (which was publicized). It's horrific to think that we're basically witnessing an attempted assassination of a political figure, but that seems to be the case. The last confirmation I heard said that 18 were shot: 6 were killed, many gravely wounded (including Rep. Giffords). A child is included in these victims.

Is this what our country has come to? It's been brewing... the hate, violence, conservative vs. liberal rhetoric pot stirring. Bottom line: It's scary. I want to say I'm surprised by this. I wish I could say I was shocked, but I can't.

Sarah Palin created a hit list of people she wanted voted out of office, so her little Tea Party Cronies had something to do when they weren't busy making grammatically incorrect signs and spouting off ignorant hate. She just happened to use cross hairs to show her targets. No, I don't think that Sarah Palin planned this attack. But, I do think that her hateful discourse and the outstanding ability she has to take advantage of the least educated among us have only encouraged radicals looking for someone to blame their problems on.

Violent, hateful rhetoric is never ok from politicians. Especially when we're dealing with a country full of under-educated, desperate people. (It's true: Year after year we hear about how far behind our education system is and how high the rate of unemployment and poverty is in our country.) Politicians should be our leaders. Leaders are supposed to set an example. I'm just glad W isn't old enough that I need to worry about explaining all of this to him. Where would you begin? I hope that morality is at a low point in our country and it gets better from here.

This isn't intended to be a political post. I'm just trying to work it out in my head. And I'm hoping that we can all raise a next generation to be better, more thoughtful of others, with a better moral compass guiding them through life. It's only possible if we teach them how and give them an example.


Is It Just Me Or Did I Look Eight Months Pregnant on WGN?

Did you see my little spot on WGN? If not, you can check out the video on the WGN site. I'll get the video and post it here soon, too.

I'm glad I did it. I had a lot of fun, wasn't nervous, and it was a good experience over all. But, holy cow, I looked about eight months pregnant. I totally pulled the under belly hand clasp and was trying to stand up super straight. After all, I'd rather look pregs than like a mom who enjoyed too much merriment over the holidays. I think I pulled it off -- And then some.

For the record, I'm five months pregnant.


Family Travel Safety Products

Thanks for stopping by! I'll feature some great, mom-created products to help ensure safe travel for the family on WGN's Thursday Midday News.

I wish I could say we're going to personally try these out on a tropical get-away, but we'll see... In the meantime, here are some reasons I think the items are cool.

Baby B'Air
$34.95 *The great thing about traveling with a little tyke is that you don't have to pay for their seat, the bad thing is they have to sit on yours and you have to hold down a squirmer. This harness helps keep your kid in place and safe in any moments of turbulence.

Magic Sleep Suit

*When traveling with a little one, there is a TON of stuff to pack to ensure you're prepared for everything, including various temperatures and bedtime items. This gem keeps the babe warm without having to worry about blankets or ac on too high. Plus, it's quite soft and cuddly.

Air Tamer

*You know when you're on a plane, trying to relax, thinking about your upcoming travels and someone sitting behind you coughs? Suddenly you realize just how little the air around you is being purified. Unless you're wearing this little thing. Purify the air around you to create a clean zone for your family, then no colds when you arrive at your destination!


*Brushing your teeth eliminates germs in the mouth, but what about the germs on the toothbrush? This toothbrush keeps itself free from germs, so when your toothbrush is on a hotel sink or gets loose in your bag you don't have to worry about what icky things it might have on it. At least not quite as much.

Baby Briefcase

*This is great for people, like me, who can use a little help with organization. It's a handy way to keep all your kiddo's important documents in one place and it's compact design means it's good for easily bringing along any information you might need in case of emergency.

$199/$15 per month

*Portable, wireless, easy to set up home security system. Going on vacation, but want to be sure your family is safe in the place you're renting? This is your answer. Or it's a good option if you want your house to be secure while you're out of town without having to enter into a contract or have a home security system installed. Pretty cool, huh?

Hope you all have some travel plans coming soon, check these items to make them a little safer.

Note: I received all of these items complimentary for doing the promotion on WGN-TV, however I was not paid.


Another TV Spot, Another Break Out

I'll be on the WGN Midday News tomorrow to show some great mom-created travel items. (Which is funny since our travel plans are currently on life support due to the cash we just had to throw down the toilet, kinda literally).

So, while this should all be fun, a little piece of this summer's history is repeating itself. Remember when I did the NBC Chicago Morning News in June? Remember my face exploded? Well, what do you know... Six months later, different station, same story. My hormones continue to make a mockery of my face.

A fellow blogger recommended I try tea tree oil, witch hazel, and aloe. At this point, it can't really get any worse. So, I dragged my butt to Whole Foods in last night's frigid temps and invested in a non-toxic, fresh way to handle this. Not that the stuff my doc prescribed before can even be used by a pregnant lady, but I'd rather go natural at this point. And I drank about a gallon of water yesterday to try to flush my skin.

Anyway, here we are again... Showing some cool mom-created items (and my broken-out face) to Chicago. Regardless, I'm super excited, and if you're one of the few people I know who won't be at work, I hope you'll tune in and send me good vibes tomorrow. And, no matter what, tell me I looked ok.


You Know You Have Good Friends When You Have Bad Plumbing

Our living room is full of 13 adults and a few kiddos. A rare moment of silence and Matt jumps on the opportunity to announce: “So, we’re having some plumbing issues. If you all could help by keeping toilet paper use and flushing to a minimum, that would be great.”

"Ok, ok, you can flush the toilet. Just be a little careful with using too much toilet paper." I tried to save face a little, but seriously, our friends didn't seem to care, made plenty of jokes about "if it's yellow..." and carried on with the party. It didn't even seem to make a difference in the amount of beer consumed.

Matt was just being honest. We are having plumbing issues due to tree roots infesting some pipes. It's been going on for four months, but has now gotten to the point that we have to repair the pipe, which means there is currently a 12 foot hole outside of our door. This also means that all the cash we were hanging onto for a sunny trip to Florida is going to pay for repairs. Apparently, our insurance company considers this to be "maintenance" since we had no interior damage. Does this look like maintenance to you?

This is the view from right outside of our kitchen door. There is a 12 foot hole under those pieces of plywood and cones. Lovely, no?

Anyway, the old, tall, big trees that we were one of the things that made us purchase this house in the first place are not good for old pipes, it seems. So, we're repairing some big problems that the roots have created.

We learned a lot about our water use last weekend. We had to be *very* careful, which meant no laundry or dishwasher, quick showers, careful bath draining, and limited toilet flushing. We were a really good example of water conservation. We tried to minimize the number of utensils each day, yet still cooked and carried on normally. But that's not the point of this story.

There are two points:
1. Once again, an old house can come up with some unexpected (and really expensive) curve balls. Like plumbing.
2. We have really great friends who aren't going to let a few plumbing issues get in the way of a good time.


Well, Hello Tow Mater

You know you live with a 2 year old when... You just about finish your water and see Tow Mater staring at you from the bottom of the glass.

Not sure how he did it, but he did. Man, I love this kid.


First Annual Packers vs. Bears Party (and a recipe)

Matt and I have a mixed football marriage. He is a Packers fan, I am a Bears fan. Today we hosted the First Annual Hanneman Packers vs. Bears party and decided to feature Wisconsin and Chicago foods and drinks. We had a Wisconsin cheese platter, homemade queso dip, Gino's East pizza, beer boiled brat bites with sauerkraut and stone ground mustard, pretzels, buffalo chicken dip, and a selection of New Glarus beers and Stump's bloody mary mix and hot olives. And then our friends all brought plenty of other good stuff. (New Year's resolutions start tomorrow, right?)

Packers won. So, that means at next year's party W will be wearing a Packers t-shirt (ugh), which is the deal we've agreed to: W wears winning team's t-shirt for the following year's party. Consider this your save the date.

Happy little Bears fans (and one half fan).

Can you tell the majority of guests were Bears fans and wouldn't even touch a Packers cookie?
Here is the recipe for the queso dip I made. It's scary good. My mother-in-law got it from her former hairdresser way before Southwestern food had made its way to Wisconsin. She's been making it ever since and it's pretty incredible. I recommend using a fondue pot (this is the only thing I actually make in ours), but you could use a non-stick pan.
Queso: Melt 2 T butter and add 1 chopped onion, a 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies, and 3-4 finely chopped jarred jalapenos. Saute until tender. Add 15 oz can of tomato sauce. Then mix in 1/2 lb. of shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 lb. of shredded swiss cheese. I've also added monterey jack. Stir often. Delicious.


The 2011 Post

I'm not a huge fan of making New Year's resolutions. Too much pressure. But, I am a big fan of looking around, taking stock, and making mental notes of how I would like to better my life in the coming months and year. I've broken it into categories this year and created tangible goals within each. So, here ya go:

1. Enter Super Mom Mode: Get myself and W ready for the arrival of Baby #2 in May. This will have to include potty training and a move to his big boy room before May, and not putting a ton of pressure on myself when Baby #2 gets here (which is what I did with #1).

2. Grocery Overhaul: We got away from any sort of meal planning and lunch packing this year. As a result, we throw away food weekly and don't efficiently use the stuff we have on hand. We also waste a ton of money on buying lunches and I figure if I make dinners that would cover the next day's lunch, we'll be in better shape. So, I'll do weekly meal lists and buy new tupperware.

3. Work it out: Matt is joining a P90X challenge on January 7th. Obviously, that is not recommended for someone who is 20 weeks pregnant, but we do have a treadmill gathering a ton of dust and I'm really hoping to find a new yoga studio. Bikram stopped when pregnancy started and my bikram partner and BFF Britt sailed off (literally). Three work outs a week will make me feel better and help ensure I don't gain the impressive 45 pounds I did with my first pregnancy.

4. Blog face lift: My blog needs a face lift. And I need to reacquaint myself with updating it continuously, participate with the groups I've agreed to be a part of, and comment on at least one blog a day. Comments make the blogging world go 'round, right?

5. Replace refrigerator and stove. This has been on our to-do list since we bought the house over two years ago. The entire kitchen will have to be renovated at some point and I thought it would have happened by now, but we don't have the cash yet. For now, the stove (with two working burners & a broken broiler) and the refrigerator (freezer burn and a missing in-door shelf) need to be replaced. So, it's time to look for sales.

None of these are too original, but I think it's enough to keep me busy for a couple of months or so. Hope you all made some good plans for the New Year!