30 January 2013

Chickie

Our little chickie is growing up so fast. Truly, too fast. Today, she had her 18 month check-up; 18 Months that have flown by in the blink of an eye. I remember being in the hospital and holding Maddy thinking I had all the time in the world with her - that it would be forever before she turned one and now we're far past that.  And as sad as it is that my little baby is growing up, it's also a great thing. Our little chickie is strong, beautiful, healthy, and happy. What more could any parent ask for?!









22 January 2013

Going to the Chapel?

Tis the season! Wedding season is right around the corner and boy have I felt its effects. Over the past week, 5 of my friends have become engaged. And while I'm over the moon thrilled for them, it has left me rethinking my own views of marriage.


For a very long time now, I've been living under the line of thinking that not being married is no big deal to me. That having a "piece of paper" doesn't define relationships. However, I think this is where my line of thinking is flawed. 

The biggest argument you will hear against marriage is that a piece of paper isn't that big of a deal; that it shouldn't define what a relationship should be. But it's not about the paper. It's not about the ring, the parties, or any of that other materialistic crap. It's not even about the pomp and circumstance of it all. It's about the fundamental emotional connection of spending the rest of your life with that special someone who loves you like no other. And for those of you who will bring up the Christian aspect, it's not about that either. It's easy to put everything off on God. To me, it seems marriage is more of a spiritual bond than that bound by ancient philosophy and rule. 

Marriage makes a statement that no one can argue. It says that out of the millions of people in the world, this one person found you and chose you to spend their life with. That regardless of good, bad, wealth, debt, heartache, trials, joys, and well, life - they love you enough to commit to a lifetime of love no matter what may come. I guess that's the bigger picture - the commitment. 

It takes a lot to fully commit to anything let alone relationships. Relationships are hard. They take work and at times, will test everything you believe about love. To find the one person in the world who is willing to accept you on your worst day and not run is a treasure to be valued. And that's the difference between dating and marriage. 

I'm not sure how many of you will truly understand this post and where I'm coming from. I think I wrote this more as a way to get it off my mind. And maybe in some ways, even as progressive I am, there are parts of me that are classic. To me, this makes sense. And to me, I'm a girl of marriage. 

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Alphabat Soap

Disclaimer: I'd say this post is more of a vent - maybe even slightly a rant. But at any rate, it's my space to do with as I see fit so If you're not feelin' it, head on out. 

OK...On with the show! 

As some of you may know, a couple of weeks ago I posted a status update on my Facebook page expressing my frustrations over the horrible grammar and spelling being used on Maddy's daily take home sheet from day care; Spinach being spelled as spinagh. Apricots being spelled as apricoats. Fragments - overall, a complete mess. 

I know some of you are thinking, "What's the big deal??" Well, here's why it bothers me...

When I read Maddy's take home sheet today, it was the worst I have ever seen. Here's the picture:




SOOOOO...here's what we have: Bananas are Bannana. Vegetarian is Vegitaren. Broccoli is Brocchi. Crackers are creackers. 

A. Hot. Ass. Mess.

Michael and I both work. Even if I was able to (And wanted to be) a stay at home mom I would still work part-time. It's just my thing - I enjoy working. So, the flip side of this choice is that Maddy has to go to day care. We pay $708 a month for day care and that's only the part-time rate. My work schedule allows me to be off on Tuesday's and Wednesday's so to save money and to have time with M, she stays home with me on those days. 

Now, I don't know about you guys but $708/month for child care is nothing to sneeze at. It's a big freaking deal to us. $708 is a rent or mortgage payment. $708 can buy a full set of tires for the car. $708 is money that could be put toward debt or savings. Bottom line - it's a lot of money to spend every month. Don't get me wrong - For Maddy, I will provide anything and everything she needs, no questions asked but in return for our investment, I expect a certain level expertise, knowledge, and care for my child and I don't think it's too much to ask. It is no different than me investing a generous amount of money in anything else and expecting a certain level of results. That is just the reality of the situation. I'm paying X.  I expect Y. Plain and simple.

But what really bothers me more about this whole situation is this - these are the people who take care of my child on a daily basis. These are the people (Along with her father and I) who are supposed to be teaching my child basic language skills, motor skills, and social skills to prepare her for school and life in general. But what in the heck are they able to teach her if they can't even speak and spell properly themselves?? I can only imagine how they speak when the parent's aren't around. My ears cringe to even think about it. It's a very frustrating situation. You see, for a parent who has a child in day care, you want everything to be as close to perfect as possible. If you aren't able to take care of your own child, you want to know that the people who are are doing an excellent job. In this case, I don't feel that the level of excellence is where it should be. When I see speaking and writing like this, it makes me question where these people were found. Are they educated? Do they even have have the qualifications to work with children? Overall, it just really makes your center look low class. I do plan on speaking with the director but I really don't expect anything to change. 

The other centers in the area that we've considered are full and don't have openings so unfortunately, we're stuck for the meantime. At the end of the day, it leaves me longing for Maddy's old day care in Virginia. She had an amazing and wonderful care giver - Miss Annie. Miss Annie provided in home child care and is well-educated and very well spoken. Her major in college was childhood education and she had all the certifications a parent would want in someone taking care of their child. The group of kids Annie took care of was small and Maddy really thrived in the environment. The added bonus (HUGE bonus, actually) was that I've known Annie for years so I knew her background, her beliefs, and her morals when it came to child care. Unfortunately, being in a new city and not knowing anyone, I'm just not going to leave my child with an individual I know nothing about. A child care center is the best option at this point but I'm not happy. 

So for now we are making the best of it. I know this is just one of the many issues we'll have to deal with as parents but it's not easy. One of the things I've always felt that Michael and I do right is always putting Maddy's well-being first in all of our decisions. We really do an excellent job of researching and analyzing our options before we make any decisions. Where this situation is concerned, I feel very guilty. I feel as if a poor choice was made and now Maddy has to suffer with the consequences when she shouldn't have to. In the end I know everything will be fine but for now, it just sucks.

Forward we go...
Courtney, Michael, and Madeline


05 January 2013

Songs I Love Lately (Worth a Listen!)



Madness by Muse


Home by Phillip Phillips


40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros




Carries On - Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros




Gold on the Ceiling - The Black Keys




Electric Feel - MGMT



(All videos provided by YouTube)

03 January 2013

Well Hey There, 2013!

(Photo from istock)

I don't believe in resolutions. I think people set themselves up for failure with them. It's like when you start a new diet and you say, "I will never eat another french fry again!" and what happens? You eat every fry in sight. 

What I do believe in is continual self-improvement. Actions and thoughts that are constantly with us regardless of the time of year or our circumstances. Because really - if you can't keep a promise to yourself, how good is your word to anyone else?

I'll never be stick skinny. I like my curves and feeling like a woman - not a 12 year old Korean boy, I'll never stop cussing completely, and I already drink enough water but what I do know I can improve on is to just be a better person all the way around; mentally, physically, and emotionally for myself and to those whom I come in contact. 

Before New Years, I came across a quote that seemed to sum up my feelings perfectly:
"One day, you'll be just a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one."

 So, I don't have a laundry list of resolutions but what I do have is a collection of quotes; ones I will try to remember when I need them most. 











(All photos from Pinterest)


Happy New Year! May you all have a fantastic and blessed 2013!

XO,
Courtney, Michael, Madeline

02 January 2013

How I Provided All My Christmas Gifts for Family for Only $17!


Having just moved to Colorado at the first of November (OK - I know I keep saying this in most of my posts but it has had a lot to do with transition for us!) a lot of our time has been spent on setting up our home, adjusting to new jobs, helping Maddy to adjust to new surroundings, and learning the area. While Christmas is my favorite time of year, I had absolutely no enthusiasm for shopping this year for many reasons. 

First and foremost, money. I hate how "commercial" the holidays have become. What I despise more is how most people buy into the notion that in order to have a successful or meaningful Christmas, you must go broke doing so; that's it's OK to deplete your savings, explode your credit cards or deplete your bank account. It's just not so. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to do any of those things. Case in point, the best gift I received this year? A reindeer head that Maddy made at day care from construction paper - her foot is the head and her hands are the antlers. Too stinking cute.

Second, being in a new city and still learning the area, I had absolutely ZERO desire to try and figure out where certain shopping centers are located while fighting traffic, rude people, etc. It's just not worth it to me anymore. 

Finally, with us flying to Atlanta for Christmas, I needed gifts that I could pack easily in our luggage because I refused to spend the outrageous costs to ship them ahead of our arrival.

So for these primary reasons and more, I decided that I would take my gifts back to the old school and put some heart and soul into it and I loved every minute of it. I decided that I would capture Maddy's hand print and have it framed. Having a child, my family LOVES getting anything from Maddy. It was the perfect idea. The opposition came in to play when I made mention that I would be making my Christmas gifts this year, I had so many people tell me, "Be careful. Crafting can be expensive too!" or "You won't be able to do all of that on a budget!" 

Well, they were all WRONG. Don't ever tell this girl that "I can't do something". I always find a way to get from point A to B and I will show you how you can too.

If you haven't checked out your local Dollar Store lately, it's worth taking the time to do so. They have really upped their game over the last year or two and you can find anything and everything you need for your home, crafting, every day use items, and more. This is how I made all my gifts for next to nothing and how you can to! Below I will list what you will need for this project and how much I purchased it for (or in some cases didn't purchase because I already had the items) and how it all came together. All of these items can be found at your local Dollar Store.

You will need:
Construction paper - $0, already had
Black Sharpie - $0, already had
Finger/Hand paint - $1
7, 8 x 10 frames - $7
Scotch tape - $0, already had
Tissue paper - 4 packs for $4
1 pack of adhesive gift tags - $1
4 rolls of decorative ribbon - $4
Scissors - $0, already had

Total spent: $17

You read that right. $17 for 7 gifts. Pretty sweet if I do say so myself!

Here's how it came together:

To start, select your color of construction paper. Depending on the color of hand paint you select, you may want to go with the lighter shades of paper so the hand prints stand out. It was very simple to do from there. I put Maddy in her high chair and one by one, I helped her put her hands into the paint and guided them onto the paper. Once we completed all 7 sheets, we set them to the side to dry. Once they dried, I was then able to write her special message on them with the Sharpie. So cute!!!


From here, it was as simple as sliding the paper into the frame


Once this step was completed, I wrapped each frame in layers of tissue paper and wrapped each bundle with decorative ribbon and attached a gift tag for each. 


Voila! There you have it. 7 gifts for $17. 


It CAN be done. 

Our next gift project will be hand and feet mold prints and yep! All supplies will be purchased from the Dollar Store!

These gifts are perfect for any occasion, any time of the year. I encourage each of you to give it a try - your family and close friends will love it!

XO,
Courtney, Michael, and Madeline

01 January 2013

Our Christmas

Having just moved to Colorado, it was nice to be able to fly back to Atlanta to spend Christmas with my family. I've always been adventurous and love expanding my life experiences but it's hard living in a new city while trying to make new friends, so it was great to be able to head back to the ATL to be with family during the holidays. 

It's always a crazy time when my family gets together and we never know what to expect. This time was no different. While it was great being with loved ones, our holiday was somewhat overshadowed with sickness. LOTS of sickness. Both myself and Michael had different forms of the funk and on Christmas morning, Maddy came down with a fever. She later managed to throw up on the both of us in bed while sleeping (Yes...we were bad and let her into the big bed. In our defense, it was the ONLY way we could get her to sleep. She is going through HORRIBLE separation anxiety right now but that's another post for another time...). She then stayed sick for a couple of days. My sister Ashley and her boyfriend both had the stomach bug as well. Needless to say, we managed to make the best of it. Here are the highlights...



Leaving on a jet plane! Waiting at the Denver International Airport, watching the world go by.


Christmas morning. Un-wrapping and trying on clothes with grandma. Look at our little beautiful Babushka! 


Love the bow. Not so sure of the outfit.




My sister's cat, Simba enjoying (And destroying) the tree. 



Sharing breakfast with Poppy. (Note that our princess would like you to know that she sleeps with her tiara on! Such cute PJ's!)


Family game nights - Always losing at dominoes! 



Sister pedicures!  



Out shopping in the dreaded min-van, also known as the death star.




Me and my sister, Jordan



Stealing some sugars while enjoying a delicious family dinner at Cracker Barrel.


I hope each of you had a very Merry Christmas. Cheers to the New Year!

XO,
Courtney, Michael, and Madeline