11 months of you...

My sweet George,

My letter to you this month is few days late. I could blame it on the busy events of last week, preparing for your first Thanksgiving and going out of town but, to be honest, I think it is more because I cannot believe that my next letter to you will be on your first birthday. The past eleven months have been filled with countless joys and my heart and life are fuller than I could have ever imagined because of you.

At 11 months you...
  • stand on your own for brief moments, until you remember you are supposed to be holding on and grasp for the closest surface.
  • walk around the house behind your push toy. You are so fast, quickly learned to maneuver around corners and away from walls and say "voom, voom, vooooom..." as you go. Pretty much the cutest. thing. ever.
  • initiate peek-a-boo several times a day, whether it is from behind a chair or around a corner. You'll start the game and let out big, long belly laughs when you make eye contact with whoever plays with you.
  • are headstrong. You want what you want, exactly when you want it and will stop at nothing to get it. This includes scaling the couch, using your toys, pillows or whatever else can serve as a step stool - unassisted. Oh boy!
  • eat, eat and eat some more. You still have a terrific appetite and continue willing to try anything. You are still eating purees in addition to whole foods, mainly to help give you enough to eat because chewing with only two teeth is tiring work.
  • have slept though the night several times in the past month. Then, you hit a growth spurt and your sleep took a dive again. Then DST started and complicated things further. One day you'll figure it out.
  • are wearing 12 month clothes (though some pants are already too short!) and size 3 diapers (size 4 at night).
  • are saying: Mama, Dada, Yia Yia (grandma), voom (vroom), this, and got.
  • love books. You flip through the pages of your favorite books several times a day and hold them out to us to read to you. When we read the Mr. Brown book one page says, "He can sound like a hand on a door. Knock, Knock, Knock." Mama will knock on the floor and you'll crawl over and knock, too.
  • have some separation anxiety. You want to know where your Daddy and I are every moment when we are at home. If one of us goes in another room, you will crawl over and knock at the door, yelling for us.
  • will pick up the tiniest piece of nothing from the floor and put it in your mouth. When I attempt to retrieve whatever it is you will either 1) smirk and crawl as fast as you can in the other direction or 2) fish it out of your mouth and proudly hand it over. Let's work on developing #2 a bit more, shall we?
  • play well with others. We have had a few playdates this month and you have played so well with the other babies around your age. You will share toys and are very gentle when you touch other kids.
  • enjoy music. You fall fast asleep to your music in the car and bounce/dance to the Toddler Tunes music channel on cable or the songs on your toys.

You have grown so much in the past month and, every once in awhile, I catch a glimpse of you as the big boy you are becoming. It both thrills me to see you thriving and saddens me (just a bit) that you are a baby for just a few more weeks. I plan to enjoy every minute of time with you in this last month of babyhood.

I love you with all that I am, to the moon and back,



you better watch out, you better not cry...

He was the best Santa I'd ever seen and such a nice man. We were standing right there. The event was at a private little shop near my parents house, very low-key and no crowds. You'd think it would be the perfect setting for a first introduction. Notsomuch. Poor little boy was just not impressed with the jolly man in the red suit.

G is normally very easy going and will allow himself to be held by anyone, once he gets the nod that his Daddy or I approve.

So, what is it about Santa Claus?

PS - My friend Sara commented about the cell phone in his hand. No, even the shake the dice game on his Daddy's cell phone, which normally brings on fits of giggles, would not quell the Santa terror.
I assure everyone that G was not actually traumatized and that he sat calmly for a photo with a mall Santa another day.


wordless wednesday: aspiring to be spidey...

At the library this morning - can't beat the view or the entertainment value!


yes, you've come to the right place...

In search of a cleaner look for the blog for awhile, I've played around with different templates and have finally landed here. The yellow makes me happy and the little bits in the header art sum up much of my day to day life. I'm still working out a few hiccups and trying to figure out the order of content in the sidebars but, what you see here is essentially the new look for Messily Ever After...

Feel free to poke around and leave a comment letting me know what you think about my facelift.

the gift of christmas, from afar...

I live a charmed life, blessed with a warm home, a wonderful husband, a healthy child and the love of family and friends. While the normal day to day annoyances crop up and there are inevitable bumps in the road, I am grateful for every one of my many blessings and count them often.

For years now, I have donated gifts at Christmas time. Sometimes they have gone to Toys for Tots, other times they have gone to my own workplace and children in the foster care system. But each year, when I am carefully choosing gifts for my own loved ones, I make a decision to also give to a child in need. This year, I'm filling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

If you are looking for a place to donate a gift this year, you may want to consider this amazing project and fill a shoebox for a child in need.


it's good to be back...

The last I sat down to scrapbook was in July of 2009 at the last full-day crop I attended. That day feels like a lifetime ago, with so many changes since. But, I've missed the creativity and longed to find a way to get back to the hobby that I love. Determined, I dragged papers, letter stickers, punches and my trimmer out of the dust on Thursday night. I started organizing a bit and pulling together boy-friendly patterns and colors (who would I be kidding otherwise, there is only one scrapbooking subject right now) with the intention of making page kits. It just wasn't happening. I couldn't get inspired and everything continued to sit, littering the kitchen table.

Last night, I figured I'd try another approach. Dive in. Pick out one single photo and just do something with it. And, you know what? It worked! Once I set my mind to it everything started to come back to me and in minutes, the layout came together, my trimmer was slicing and my dusty tape gun was functioning once more.

There wasn't a thought in my mind about creating for a magazine or feedback from fellow crafters online. This was purely for the love of the hobby and for G. Getting a start on documenting his story is important. As is doing something that I love and believe in.

I'm back, baby!!! And, it feels wonderful.


holiday shopping help: deal of the day...

We're all aware that it's a tough economy and that the frenzy of Christmas shopping and excess may not be as possible as in years past. Even knowing that the true meaning of Christmas is not in how many gifts one can give or amass, it's easy to get caught up in the slick advertising, the enticing sales, the "please, Mom?" and go a bit overboard.

Early bird sales can help, internet shopping linked with free shipping deals, shopping early. All good strategies. Lately, I've been seeing some really great sales and offers in unconventional places. Groupon is one of those spots. It's a site with a daily deal per city (although you don't need to live in that specific city to take advantage) for goods or services at, many times, incredible prices.

I took advantage of one for the first time today and, if you are thinking about custom photo albums as holiday gifts you might want to take a look:

$100 worth of Picaboo albums for $35!
If you buy the deal, it's good for one year and can even be applied toward shipping and handling. Enjoy :-)

I have no affiliation with Groupon or Picaboo, just thought it was too good of a deal not to pass along.

maybe there is a resemblance after all...

G is a miniature version of his dad, right down to that oh-so-cute dimple on his right cheek. Whenever we are out as a family, people stop us just to comment on the striking resemblance between father and son. They look at me and say, "Well, maybe he got your eyes? Maybe." He may not have gotten much, if any, of my appearance but he did inherit a couple of other things.

From an impossibly young stage, he took to raising one eyebrow in expression. Classic mom.

Then, there is his love of books.

I've been reading to G every day since we arrived home from the hospital after his birth and there is no denying that he is an early bookworm. The past month or so, he has been determined to teach himself how to flip though his board bocks page by page and about a week ago, he got the hang of it (mainly he'll get them right side up...ha). He'll flip to his favorite pages in his favorite books, hold them up to one of us and grunt for us to read to him. You've got it, buddy!
And something else he learned this past week? Clapping! He knows the word "clap" in both Greek and English and will clap if we ask him to or along with us. Love it! 10 and a half months is SO much fun.


giveaway thursday...

I've been reading Beth's blog, I Should Be Folding Laundry for awhile now and had to share this fun giveaway on her blog today. Click on the link and hurry on over if you want a chance to win a very fun, chic dSLR camera strap slipcover from Eclectic Whatnot's Etsy shop!

Comments close at 11:00 pm CST on 11/11/10

If I win, I think I might just step out of my box a bit and go with this one:

So what are you waiting for? Go here now -----> Giveaway


merry and bright, a bit early...

I've sent Christmas cards out to my family and friends nearly every year since college. While I was still teaching paper craft classes, my cards were a major, multi-day (ahem, multi-week) production of sampling designs, cutting stacks of cardstock, setting up an assembly line and spending hours upon hours in my craft space hand-painting, stamping and/or attaching embellishments. I'd like to think that people looked forward to receiving those cards and that some even realized and appreciated the work that went into them.

In the years post-teaching, my focus shifted away from card making and to scrapbooking and as it did, I dropped homemade cards from the Christmas frenzy. Instead, I selected *gasp* store-bought cards with a design and message I really loved and made sure to include personal, handwrittten notes.

As most of my friends got married and started having children, the cards in my mailbox changed from traditional folded cards to photo cards of adorable kids and families with bright smiles, dressed in their holiday best. I have watched those kids grow through yearly cards when time or miles have not allowed me to do so in person. I looked forward to the day when I would have a family, a child, of my own to share in photo greetings.

This is finally the year.

A few weeks ago I started browsing though designs on digital photo printing and hosting sites and found cards I really like on all of them but, particularly like so many of the selection on Shutterfly that I'll share some favorites here.

1) This one because I have a wee bit of an obsession with monograms and have taken to collecting every "B" I can get my hands on since marrying Mr. Boom. I think it's more suited to families with more than one child (therefore more photo variety) but, I have to include it among my favorites:

2) I love the elegance and simplicity of this design - perfect for letting a photo really shine: 3) And, this one. A touch of non-traditional color, yet clean and simple:
So, which will it be? I honestly haven't decided yet and, there are even more designs in consideration though, one major factor remains...that elusive, perfect photo! Wish me luck in getting our little monkey all dolled up on a day with great weather, the perfect surroundings and the ability to coax a great smile or wondrous expression. Or, at least in finding a studio to do it for us!

If all this wasn't enough, there is the little matter of G's birthday being on Christmas Eve. Though the celebration will be small, I still want there to be invitations involved and for him to have a proper 1st birthday party. We are determined not to have our little guy's special day lost in the holiday shuffle!

Required disclaimer: I have received compensation from Shutterfly in the form of holiday cards in return for this review and post. However, I am a Shutterfly customer and had planned on ordering my cards with them before this offer came along for their good quality and customer service. The end.


{nearly} wordless wednesday: quad vision...

That crazy looking bag of plastic heads is not leftover from Halloween. Part of my new job required me to become a CPR/AED/First Aid instructor and that is what the Actar manikins look like disassembled. A little freaky, no? Try being the one snapping together heads and torsos and then tearing them back apart a few hours later. Just weird.

This CPR stuff is exhausting. Teaching chest compressions to novices over and over? Taxing on the body. Add that to a night of almost no sleep because some little person decided to wake-up eleventy-billion times and you have one tired Mama.


mom friendly meals monday: slow cooker chicken in a marsala herb sauce

I came across this recipe in a post by one of my favorite food bloggers, Stephanie Cooks. Though I've used her original recipes many times and certainly trust her ingredients, I prefer chicken thighs in the slow cooker over breasts, wanted a thicker gravy and to get more than one meal out of this. Here is my adapted recipe for 4-5 servings. We'll get two meals out of this, feeding myself, hubs and baby G (who loved, loved, loved it!).

Slow Cooker Chicken in a Marsala Herb Sauce
Adapted from Stephanie Cooks

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1, 14.5 oz. can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup marsala wine
1 packet Knorr Garlic and Herb sauce mix
1 tsp cornstarch

1) Place chicken in bottom of slow cooker (I used our 6 quart). In a bowl, mix together chicken broth, wine and sauce packet. Pour over chicken. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.

2) Remove most of sauce from slow cooker, place in saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix cornstarch with a small amount of water until just dissolved. Add to sauce pan and stir with a wire whisk. Let boil one minute. Sauce will thicken to a loose gravy. Serve over chicken while still hot.
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