Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Just some random happenings

Just some random events that have been happening around here...

Here is Madison and Daddy lounging around on a lazy weekend morning!
Madison loves her "everywhere chair." For you mommies-to-be, this is a great gift!  Pottery Barn Kids.  Here she is sharing it with Daddy.

I've been trying to make hair-bows for Madison.  This is a huge feat for me, I'm just not all that creative. But, thanks to Pinterest, even those of us that can't come up with the ideas - can at least copy them!  I have a love of all things smocked.  And, hair-bows can add up.  So, I'm giving myself a challenge and trying to make Madison some holiday bows!





And, this just goes to show, I stink at house cleaning...

Ryan, can we PLEASE get a cleaner hired again???????

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hello Cool(er) Weather

What a relief...the heat has finally broke here in North Carolina and I am so excited.  Seasons are so great, because just when you've had enough, you get a change!  The weather has been so amazing here - comfortable days with cool evenings.  Fall is truly just around the corner.  We've been taking advantage of the wonderful weather and enjoying some outdoor time and open windows!

Here is Madison in the am on a morning walk
She is too cool for school!  Seriously, this kid has it made in her stroller.  Sunglasses, graham crackers, milk and multiple toys.  I love that it was cool enough for her to wear a cardigan!

We were lucky enough to be able to meet some friends at the park today and we practiced our sliding.  Madison is one cautious kiddo, but she's gradually getting used to the idea of a slide.  In fact, today she actually said "slide!"



This is actually from an indoor park from last week, but here she is again taking on the slide! Madison has some extra daring friends and she is learning how to navigate the playground from them.


As a physical therapist, slides are iffy for me!  I love the coordination, motor planning and abdominal strength that they encourage.  However, experience with broken femurs are enough to make me a "helicopter-mom" as Maddie slides down.  I know it is rare, but I tend to hoover close enough to make sure her little legs don't get stuck!  Hopefully, I'm not holding her back:)

Happy fall to y'all!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Grandparent's Day

Madison is very lucky to have exceptional grandparents.  She (aka we) certainly do not give them enough thanks for all they do for Madison and for us.  She has such wonderful role-models and so, so, so much love! 

Wishing her grandparents all a very happy Grandparent's Day!!


Madison is fortunate to have her Nana that lives in North Carolina, Florence.  So far, Madison has been able to see Nana fairly close to monthly!  Nana is so much fun and is always ready to play and read and snuggle with Madison.  Here's a peek at some of her favorite Nana-moments!
Easter 2012 with Nana

Sweet Snuggles from Nana




Madison's maternal Grandmparents, Lainy & Papa, have done an amazing job playing an active-role in her life, even from Missouri!  Madison get's to see them about once a month and even traveled to MO once to visit them.  We know that she looks forward to visiting again for Thanksgiving.  

  
Madison had such a great time in Ocracoke Island this past summer (2012) with Lainy & Papa

Maddie with Lainy and Papa in NY in Summer 2011.






 Madison loves when Lainy and Papa come to visit.  There is so much playing, laughing and snuggling (when she can sit still long enough)!




Madison's paternal Grand-dad, Paul, is lots of fun!  She had a lot of fun during his recent visit and thought he was so funny!




Thank you so much to our parents!  We are definitely better parents because of you all, our parents!  We are so fortunate that Madison has you all to spend time with, learn from and love.  
A very Happy Grandparent's Day to you all!!!


And, a special wish for our Grandmother's...Grandma Kay and Grandma Angie. Lots and lots of love!
Madison with her Great-Grandma Angie

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cake Pop Fun

I love to bake.  I think it makes for nice gifts and it is an "easy" thing to contribute to any event.  For Madison's 1st Birthday, I had my heart set on cake pops.  I was able to borrow my neighbor's cake pop maker - yes, these things exist.  They turned out cute and so recently I decided it was time to get my own cake pop maker.  Our "new" neighbors were very sweet and brought over a box of clothes and toys to pass along to Maddie.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give the new machine a go!

I actually purchased the Bella brand maker, but I do love the Babycakes one as well.  One thing to note - if you are on the market for your own is to be sure to purchase one that has 12 holes.  The one I borrowed for Madison's birthday only had 6 and it takes  A LOT longer!

A few tips:
* Use the Babycake recipe for cake pops.  I read a lot of reviews and it seems that some people have used boxed cake recipes, but they often have to alter the ingredients. I'd rather be safe than sorry!

* Fill each hole pretty much to the top. You don't want it to overflow, but if you are too cautious, your cake pops do not come out ball shaped!
These ended up being ugly cake pops and thus were not used!

* Freeze the cake pops for a bit (30+ minutes) before adding the sticks to them

* Dip the sticks in melted chocolate and then put them into the cake pop.  Let the chocolate harden before dipping the balls into chocolate.

* I use a tall cup to melt the chocolate in and then dip the balls.  I then I use a combination of tapping and twisting to get off excess chocolate.  This is the trickiest part of the entire operation!  It is easy to leave too much on and then it drips down the stick.   

* For the cake pops to dry, a foam block works great!  This is what we used for Madison's party.  However, I don't happen to keep those lying around, so we had to improvise.  Luckily Ryan's an engineer and was able to help me come up with a pretty logical solution!  Coffee cups filled with dry rice or beans!



We discovered that Madison has quite the sweet tooth!  She was able to eat her own cake-pop in just a few minutes!



The Madison seal of approval "mmmmmmmm"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sweet Labor Day

We have had such a nice Labor Day weekend.  Friday night was the opening NCSU Football game - while it was hard to watch, it was a nice evening. Saturday was gorgeous and we enjoyed the pool with lots of friends and did some shopping. Sunday, Ryan enjoyed golfing and Madison and I were lazy around the house.  We enjoyed a few BBQs and lots of extra time together as a family.  Our contribution  was dessert and Ryan requested cupcakes!  I wanted to share my favorite recipes with you.  I feel like I've tried a lot of them and these are the best for homemade cupcakes!

Chocolate Cupcakes via Magnolia's recipe - follow this link
* We didn't have any buttermilk, so I used a substitute of 1 cup milk and 1 TBSP white vinegar.  This worked just fine!

I love these cupcakes because they come out fluffy and moist.  Also, I have stopped coating the cupcake liners with any Pam or similar product.  They really don't need it and can sometimes come out greasy if you do add it!

Butter-cream Icing, this is truly the best icing recipe I have found!  This is my go-to and it almost always comes out perfect.  I do add the 1/2 block cream cheese.

For today, I had 30 cupcakes.  So, I doubled the icing.  This yielded way too much, but I'd rather have too much than not enough.  I experimented with freezing icing - so I'll let you know how it turns out.  If you've done this before, do you have any tips?



We did red, white and blue icing in honor of Labor Day!  

Sweet Madison today.  She is one lucky girl to enjoy so much fun with so many friends today. At our first BBQ, she was amazed at all the big kids and loved following them around.  With our dear-friends, the Logues, she was so sweet and loved laying on the floor and playing with them.  Addison is like an older sister to her and is so loving to her.
*By the way, a family friend made this dress for her! Let me know if you are on the market for an adorable outfit for your daughter and I can pass along her info.  She is amazing!*


Sweet kiddos - and Madison trying to flee!

HAPPY LABOR DAY to you all!


Saturday, September 1, 2012

True Confession

I should start by saying that I am trusting that those of you who read this (hi mom! hi dad!) know that Ryan and I keep a fairly clean house.  I say fairly because it isn't perfect, but we do clean on a regular basis and are generally pretty organized.  But, there should be no judgement of us after reading this post.  Ok - disclaimer over.

I just got excited about vacuuming.  No really. I did!
Ryan and I got a little carried away at Sam's Club today - no judgement.  This is the vacuum cleaner my parents bought for me in college. It has seriously been a trooper!

 Then today, on our very exciting trip to Sam's - this was on sale.  Serious sale.


And then, we drove to Durham to purchase it.  Because, all of the Raleigh stores were out of it.  We became a little vacuum desperate.  Remember, no judgement.

It was almost like the vacuum inspired us to organize.  Before we knew it, we were spending our Saturday evening reorganizing our kitchen counters and pantry.  Then, I was begging Ryan to put the vacuum together so I could try it out.  And I did.  And it was great.  And gross.  Seriously. Remember, NO JUDGEMENT.  This is what the vacuum picked up.  It has been 1 week.  Which is loooong, I know, but it was a looong week.  


I'm a visual person.  I can assure, the C household will never, and I repeat, never go more than 2 days without a vacuum.


And we have these two pooches to thank for all of the dog hair...
                                       


I realize that I just did an entire blog post about a vacuum.  It seems a little odd, and I almost stopped midway, but it just so amazing to me that it seemed worthy of a blog post. I promise to try to blog about more exciting things like Madison and vacations and real life.  Thanks

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ocracoke Island

I've had a bit of a blogging vacation.  Here's why!

Since 2001 my family has been vacationing on Ocracoke Island.  Ocracoke is the southern-most outer bank island in North Carolina and is only accessible by ferry.  It is truly a magical place.  In my opinion, this was by far, the best year yet.  We rented a different house that was a perfect fit for our family!  It is a such a wonderful week filled with beach days, low-key dinners out, games and books in the evening and pure relaxation.  Well, mostly relaxation.  Traveling and vacationing with a 17-month-old was new for all of us!  Madison was amazing.  She was flexible, fun and generally a delight to vacation with!  I have lots of posts I'd like to make, but I wanted to introduce you all to what an amazing place Ocracoke is and see where we ended up.

To get to Ocracoke, you can either drive down the Outer Banks, starting at Nags Head down to Cape Hatteras.  From there it is just a 30 minute ferry drive.  However, we prefer less driving time and a longer ferry ride.  So, we drive to Swanquarter and take the ferry (2.5 hours) to Ocracoke.  
Options on getting to Ocracoke!  


*This isn't my picture, but this is the typical ferry that shuttles us from Swanquater to Ocracoke*

The ferry dock - I love how simple it is!

The view from the ferry - it is so gorgeous

Maddie looking out...

The back of our rental - Anticipation!  The house is "sound side."  There are NO houses on the ocean in Ocraocke.  This is the first year we have been on water and it was amazing.  We were able to take kayaks out and lounge with a great view.  The sand was filled with hermit crabs and shallow to the end of the docks.

Daytime view from our deck

Evening sunset - that little house at the point created a perfect backdrop.  I felt like a movie should be filmed in the house!


Evening sunset - with my parents on the dock.  


It stormed one day and it was really fun to watch the clouds roll in across the sound.  Kate was able to snap some amazing pictures on Ryan's camera!


The beach at Ocracoke - quiet, gorgeous, clean - it really is the best around

The only "downfall" to the beach at Ocracoke.  It is a LONG trip from the parking lot to the oceanfront.  Long might be an exaggeration - but it sure feels like it.  We rent a cart to transport beach chairs, coolers, boogie boards - and then we still end up carrying bags (or in my case a baby this year).  The way down isn't too bad, but the way back is exhausting!


Our family photo.  Thanks family for such a wonderful vacation.  Can we go back next week?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Thankful

Today has been one "dose of reality" after another.  All is well, but they are just little reminders of how thankful we are for our precious baby girl and all that she is - difficult eater and cutie patootie!

We love you Miss Madison! Thanks for blessing us beyond belief!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sweet Snuggles

I get a lot of grief teasing from my girl friends that I still use the Angel Care monitor with Madison.  Yes, I am well-aware that she has passed the typical age for SIDS.  And, I can acknowledge that I am a bit of a worrier.  But for me, piece of mind goes a long way.  For the record, this is Madison's preferred sleep position:



She likes her snuggles, and she almost always snuggles up to the bumper when she sleeps.  We did use the breathable bumpers for many months, but at a year, we transitioned over to the more "plush" variety!  It may seem silly, but that movement monitor allows us to not have to constantly check to make sure she has enough breathing room.  I know it doesn't prevent anything, but it does keep me sane!  

But, for new mommies-to-be...this was probably my number one baby item.  We did a lot of research, but ended up with the Angel Care monitor with TWO crib pads.  Of course there were false alarms and it took us awhile to get the sensitivity right for her, especially when she was small, but I have never regretted it! And, now that they have the video version, you don't even have to carry around two monitors like we do:)  Jealous!

I see a big future for the monitor in our home.  For instance, when Madison transitions to a big-girl bed, it will alarm us if she gets out.  Or, when she's a teenager, if she ever tries to sneak out.  Kidding! (kind of)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(re)Sleep Training

We have had a serious sleep regression. Serious.  It is probably pay-back for her being a great sleeper in the past.  Let me rephrase.  Madison has been sleeping through the night since almost three-months.  She has never been a great napper, but we were at least consistent.  You might remember that Madison dropped to one nap at the beginning of July during "daddy daycare" and she has been taking roughly hour and a half naps daily.  Well, that was since this weekend.  Since Saturday. she has either had to be held or slept in the car.  We thought maybe it was her teeth, but even after baby Tylenol, she still isn't napping!  It has been quite the struggle for our dear nanny and Aunt Michelle.  She just cries and cries, but calms quickly when held.  Ryan and I are at a loss.  We did sleep training, no judgement please, when Maddie was about 6-months old.  It was the right thing for all three of us and I have never regretted it.  But, I cannot imagine doing it now, at 16-months!

Here is the thing - she is tired.  Like really, really tired!  For instance, "fall asleep while eating lunch" tired.  Take a look at this video that Aunt Michelle captured today:

video

So...tomorrow we try again...please wish us luck with this tricky kiddo!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Nana's Pancakes

Ryan's mom, Florence, otherwise known as "Nana" makes the best pancake breakfast!  I was first introduced to this delicacy way back when Ryan and I were just dating.  To this day, I have never been able to successfully recreate these amazing chocolate-chip pancakes, they truly are only this delicious when made by Nana in her own kitchen!  Trust me, I've tried - but she adds something special!

This weekend, we traveled to Ryan's hometown to visit with his mom, younger sister (Aunt Michelle), older sister and brother-and-law (Aunt Christy and Uncle Brad).  It was a weekend filled with pool time and visiting.  And, while Madison is totally off on her sleep (nothing like traveling and adjusting with a 16 month-old, right?) it was a nice time.  But, ask Madison what her favorite part was and I'm sure she would tell you it was Nana's chocolate chip pancakes.  She could not get enough!!!

Somehow, Maddie put away 2 pancakes for a "second" breakfast!


Check out that right leg, covered in chocolate!


Crazy how Maddie's eye's look green and not blue! Also, look at  that wild hair!!! It was a "no-AC" night, so I think the humidity and how she slept created some serious curls.

Thanks Nana for introducing Maddie to your breakfast delight!!!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paint Palette

Well, it only took us two-years and eight-months to do it, but we finally painted the main areas in the downstairs.  And by "we" I mean "we" finally bought paint and hired painters.  It would have taken me a hundred years to do it myself and I guarantee the final product would not have been anything pleasant!  Ryan and I had such a hard time making a decision about paint color - no surprise there!

This is what we looked at for two weeks:

Obviously, the paint color on the far right was an immediate no.  The irony is that we had 3 other cans of paint samples close to that color.  So, quickly we returned to Sherwin-Williams for two other colors (the middle and bottom swatch).  I did a lot of really in-depth "google" research of colors, and during my search I came across the top color "Oyster Bay" and immediately fell in love. It took Ryan a few weeks, but he finally came around too!  And, thank goodness, because the final product is perfect!



Oyster Bay was a great fit for our home!  The mantel looks a little lonely, so hopefully we will find some new pieces to add to it.  

Thanks to several of my girlfriends that "pushed" for us to paint the wall that goes up the stairs.  I'm so thankful for ya'll's input, as it really looks great!


This view is a little off, the ceiling looks a lot higher and not true to the proportions of the room.  However, the picture display to the right of the TV was a new purchase.

This space has made me crazy for several years.  I couldn't find the perfect fit for this awkwardness space.  We made a few purchases, but nothing was "right" and they were returned.  But, we found this one at Pier1 this weekend and so far, it is a great fit!  


And, unrelated to painting, we took Madison on a sweet evening walk to "tire" her out!  She had a blast:
She carried this pine-cone the whole way and was so proud!