Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Amazing Highs and Lows

The past two weeks have been ones where life swung wildly from extreme to extreme, giving me some tremendous highs and some pretty big lows along the way.  It's just so... how life is for me at the moment.  Great stuff followed by some really crappy stuff.

Obviously, examples help here, right?

For the high points...

* My sweet baby girl turned 1 year old!!  I posted about it yesterday, but I still can't believe she's no longer a baby and now a toddler.  Every parent says, "Where has the time gone?!"  And I get it now, because it seems like only yesterday she was a tiny little baby I was bringing home from the hospital and snuggling with in the wee hours of the morning.  Seeing her grow up has been a true blessing.

* I accepted an amazing new job a few weeks back, and start on 8/31!  Until recently, I couldn't discuss it online because it wasn't fully known to everyone at my current job.  But since it's now "out there", I felt better about sharing with everyone here.  My new job is at a higher level and is more appropriate for me at this point in my career, with a significant pay increase and some flexibility to work from home in the future to boot.  The company is also in a completely different field where I'll be able to learn a lot of new things and stretch my base of knowledge, not only in my specific job area but in the world of business.  While I'll miss my current job tremendously, my new one is sure to be full of great challenges that will excite and motivate me!

* My new niece, Claire Michelle, was born this past week.  We share a middle name, which makes me such a proud auntie!  See our picture below... Isn't she cute?!?!  She looks similar to her big sister, but with a less pronounced chin and smaller mouth, hands and feet.  Oh, those adorable, teeny, tiny feet!!  Maybe Claire be the dainty one of the two, since my other niece is such a rough and tumble kid!  No matter what, I adore her.  She's one sweet, snuggly little girl.

* We are having some areas of our yard professionally re-landscaped and it's finally set up for this week!  I can't wait to see what our yard looks like when it's got proper bushes, mulch, rocks, and plants.  In the past, we've done some of this ourselves, but we just don't have the time or manpower for the amount of work that needs to be done quickly, and a professional can do it fast and without it breaking our bank.  We've had most of our trees trimmed recently, and that's made a huge difference, but now we're saving to have 5 trees removed completely.  3 of those are gigantic Washington palm trees planted by the prior owner of our house in the backyard, which are 30 feet tall now and will grow to be 60 feet tall in the non-so-distant future.  It's very difficult for them to be trimmed now, but at 60 feet, it will be impossible.  Anyone familiar with palms knows that when the wind blows, untrimmed dead palm fronds will fall and could seriously injure someone (including my darling child or one of her friends or relatives), and that's not a risk I'm willing to take.  We're cutting those suckers down once we have the money saved, and it's a priority for us.

* I had a very sick aunt who made it through a very tough surgery and it making a miraculous recovery.  It's honestly a miracle, and even the doctors are shocked.  I cannot say enough about this wonderful woman, and I'm glad she'll be on this Earth a little longer.

As for those pesky, frustrating lows...

* I was mistaken for my 9-months pregnant sister by her neighbor this week. The neighbor saw my husband and I loading Avery into our SUV and asked me if I was on the way to the hospital to have my baby.  I know I'm overweight, but... really???  She even knows my sister, brother-in-law and 2-year-old niece pretty well, and my sister and I don't even look that much alike (yes, we're twins, but fraternal).  Ugh.  Even though I've lost 30 lbs, that was like a stab in the heart.  This also happened with a different neighbor of my sister's not long ago.  I went to visit on a solo weekend trip about 6 weeks ago, and that neighbor asked me if I was ready to have my baby.  She clearly thought I was my sister.  I'd lost 22 lbs at that point and I was so mad.  Mad at myself, mad at her, just mad in general.  I told my sister and she told me that neighbor was an idiot.  My sister clearly has a HUGE baby belly and has outgrown all of the maternity clothes I'd given her while I was pregnant with Avery, yet this woman thought I was her, in my non pregnant, no-baby-belly state.  Again, humiliating, disheartening, disappointing... there aren't enough words in my vocabulary to express my feelings about this subject.  As I've stated before, I'm steadily working to lose weight in a healthy way, and I don't hate myself for my weight or how I look, and health is still my priority over looks.  But damn, those comments stung.

* I haven't had a fully-functional iPhone in over a month.  My initial iPhone was replaced under warranty in July after having a cracked screen and other issues. Within two weeks, the phone became unable to connect to my wireless carrier the majority of the time and kept asking me to re-activate the phone.  After experiencing some extraordinarily poor customer service in-store, I called the store's customer service line and was sent a new phone via 2-day UPS service.  However, the phone didn't arrive until 4 days later (nice 2-day service, UPS!), when I was out of town to meet my new niece.  So what did UPS do?  Rather than waiting 2 hours for me to come home and see the final notice, and come in to their center to pick up the package, they immediately returned it to the sender!  I was hopping mad.  Breathing fire.  Seeing red.  (Insert your own euphemism here.)  I was sent yet another phone, and this one doesn't recognize ANY sim card you put into it.  WTF.  After several aggravating hours on the phone with store managers, call center "supervisors" and others, I sent Hubs to the store to see what he could do.  I knew that if I had to talk to someone in person I might just go postal, and I didn't want to do that.  Apparently they have a 3-strikes rule with their warranty replacement phones, so they ordered me a 3rd replacement phone and the 3rd phone won't get here for at least a week.  Hubs got me a cheap $10 Android trac phone to hold me over until this mess gets sorted out, but it's been ridiculous.  Remember when no one had cell phones and we didn't feel lost without electronic devices, except maybe the TV remote control when it was stuck between the sofa cushions?  Ah, the good old days.

* A part of my car's anti-lock brake system is on the fritz and it almost caused a serious accident the other night.  Now, I'm paranoid about driving my car, and I find driving in heaving traffic very stressful.  I hope we can get this part fixed soon, but this is a very expensive fix.  Coming from a Car Family (most of my family works/has worked in the auto industry), we rarely keep cars past 3 years, and this is the first car I've had this long (5.5 years).  Now I see why I haven't--the thing has become a serious money pit.  While the lure of no car payment sounds awesome, spending thousands in the past 2 years fixing expensive issues just isn't my jam.

So that's it for recent highs and lows.  It's the epitome of life, right?  Sometimes life builds us up and kicks us down mere seconds apart from one instance to the other, but it's how we recover that makes us who we are.  I come from positive-thinking parents, so I'm taking a page from their playbook:  I'm focusing on what's been going great and and remembering that life always gets better.

I hope everyone has a great, positive week!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Avery Jane's 1st Birthday

Happy 1st birthday to my dear Avery Jane!  You were born a year ago and daddy and I's lives have been forever changed in the best of ways.  Now we couldn't imagine life without you, nor would we want to.

Your smile lights up any room, just as it lights up daddy and I's hearts.  Your sweet, loud giggles are infectious and your kisses make my heart skip a beat.   Your adorable noises, dramatic sobs just to get some extra snuggles and love affair with our family doggie only make daddy and I love you more.  

I can't believe you're walking all over the house, getting more and more curious by the day and learning so quickly.  You're totally infatuated with your book collection, and you're growing to love your stuffed animals much more than you did just a few months ago.  You're taking to eating big people food pretty well, but we have a ways to go still.  You and Bella have become co-conspirators, where you purposely drop half of your food to her on the floor rather than eating it yourself, and believing that if you "refuse" food by shoving it all off your tray onto the floor (to a hungry, patiently waiting miniature schnauzer, who will gobble up any food that falls her way), that we'll eventually give you something you like better.  Tsk, tsk.  Mom and dad found you out, but we love how cute and coy your game had become.  Nice try, doll face.  You have fully transitioned form formula to milk, but still won't take a sippy cup unless you want to spike it on the ground like a football.  You are, however, drinking lots of water out of your bottle, so I have no doubt that we'll get there eventually.

Daddy and I had a little birthday party for you on your birthday, just the three of us and our doggie, Bella.  The whole day, we sang you happy birthday, reminded you that you're no longer our baby but now our toddler, and did everything we could to make you smile.  Your big part is coming in 2 weeks, but this was just for you, me and daddy, and it was wonderful.  Here are some pictures from our little family birthday celebration...

You had such a wild and exhausting day with your pictures being taken and an epic meltdown during your cake-smashing pictures, but after a long nap, you had a great time having dinner and opening presents.  You even ate birthday cake for the first time--and you loved it!  See?  Birthday cake and frosting weren't so bad after all!  You just wanted it cut up in pieces so you could see that the frosting wasn't hiding something sinister, like brussels sprouts or quinoa.  We gave you three of your presents on your birthday, your first teddy bear and two books.  The teddy bear was a huge hit and you have hardly put it down since.

Also on your birthday, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Kelly, and your cousin Elise sang you Happy Birthday over the phone TWICE, and everyone wished they could have seen your face--you smiled so big and knew that it was a special day all your own.  Don't worry, they'll be here in 2 weeks for the bigger party!

Wishing you many, many more wonderful birthdays, happy times, and birthday memories to come, Avery!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Life and Stuff

Wow, it seems like it's been forever since I really sat down to give everyone some updates.  Ready... Set... Go!

*  As I've shared previously, I've been under a lot of stress in the past year.  It seems like Murphy's Law has been in full effect, and we can't seem to catch a break.  Between family illnesses, work stress, homeowner issues, rental property owner issues, parent issues, etc., it's just been a wild ride.  I've been working on several ways to get these things under control, but some of them I can't share just yet. (Yes, I know I said that a week or two ago.  Still the same.  Can't share right now.)  I will as soon as I can though!

*  Hubs and I went to see Dave Matthews Band last Wednesday night and it was PHENOMENAL!  We didn't see them last year because I was 8 months pregnant and fully miserable by that point.  There's no way I could have sat outside, sweating my buns off, and having to use the ladies room every 10 minutes.  Not to mention my slow waddling between the car and the venue in the huge parking lot, getting bumped into by dozens of drunk people, and potentially finding myself in a driving rainstorm wearing only a glorified trash bag.  No ma'am.  This year, though, it was a whole different story.  It rained earlier in the day, and was gorgeous during our tailgate.  (There was much rejoicing over the great weather!)  While it did get more humid as the evening went on, it stayed rain-free and we enjoyed a wonderful show.  I couldn't have been happier with how it all turned out!

*  I'm busy planning Avery's first birthday party.  I can't believe she's almost a year old already!  Where did my tiny little baby go?!?!  She was so small and cuddly, and now she is much bigger and can't sit still.  She's such a sweet girl though, and we're excited to get her birthday party invitations sent out soon.  By the way, I feel like I've lost my knack for party planning since it's been soooo long since I've hosted a gathering.  I need to get my groove back, and maybe this will help!

*  Oh yeah, Avery walked unassisted for the first time last weekend and by this weekend she's all over the house!!  YEAH, I KNOW.  Now we need to finish baby-proofing, stat.  She's already starting to open the lower cupboards in the kitchen and tip over the chairs in our breakfast nook,so time is of the essence!

*  I'm doing pretty well with my diet.  In three months, I've lost close to 30 lbs.  I still have a long way to go, but I believe in the pursuit of progress, not perfection (it's my personal mantra at this point!).  Hubs has lost over 50 lbs during the same period, but that's a guy for you.  Same diet, loses more weight.  Nonetheless, I'm incredibly proud of him.  He weighs less than when we got married and is looking quite foxy, if I must say so myself!

*  I've discovered that Weight Watchers makes excellent low-fat ice cream treats, my favorite being the Giant Fudge Bar.  Remember Pudding Pops back in the day?  They taste a lot like those, but without a creeper like Bill Cosby promoting them. Here's me in my WW bathrobe indulging in one of these delicious (3 point!) treats...

*  It's been raining like its Monsoon season here in Florida over the past 2 weeks, resulting in tons of flooding.  I seriously felt like I should have stayed home to build an ark yesterday, but I somehow got myself to work and only hydroplaned twice during my commute (Note to self:  Avoid standing water on bridges).

*  I'm so, so far behind on home projects.  I'm at the point where I'm ready to pay someone to clean up my landscaping, deep clean the inside of my house, wash and detail my car, and put air in my tires.  I know, that sounds ridiculous to some of you, but others know what I mean.  Being a working mom is tough, even when Hubs is a SAHD.  He even has limited time to do chores and things because she's such a handful, doesn't always nap well and has other things to do in his downtime, like put together my new gas grill, do laundry (gotta have clean clothes!) and tend to our geriatric schnauzer.  We're all busy and just getting by these days.

*  My newest niece is scheduled to be born on August 17, so I'm taking that week off work to spend with my family.  I pray that baby is born healthy and mama stays healthy as well.  Her middle name will be the same as my middle name, so I feel a connection already!

*  One of you (you know who you are) noted that you've seen a lack of photos in recent posts that are non-food related.  I had to laugh at that one, but I know you're right.  Part of this is because my usual surfaces for photographing items are indisposed right now... busy being used for other projects and things.  I also haven't been diligent about taking photos at events, as I've been trying to be more present and in-the-moment, rather than hiding behind my camera.  No matter, though, I'll be fixing this and I appreciate you pointing it out.

That's all for now!  Hope everyone has a great week.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Celebrating National Ice Cream Month at Del Frisco's Grille

Summers in Florida are H.O.T., ya'll.   And we need everything we can get to cool ourselves down, from a swim in a refreshing pool to a delicious ice cream treat.

Recently, my husband and I had a date night and visited a new Del Frisco's Grille location in Tampa to try out their Adult Milk Shakes.  I mean, July was National Ice Cream Month after all... How could I say no to ice cream in the peak of the summer heat in Florida?  That's right, it was just impossible, diet be damned.  Ice cream won.

When we sat down and reviewed the menu, I noticed that the cocktail, beer and wine menu took up one whole page and the food took up the entire back page.  50/50.  Equal measure.  With that, I knew I was going to love this place.

So, Hubs and I both had one starter cocktail to get things rolling.  I tried the VIP Martini, made with a delightful "Sweet Hawaiian Gold Pineapple-infused Svedka Clementine Vodka".  Delish and dangerous.  I could have had 3 more before knowing what I'd done to myself!  My husband opted for a beer. (He's a simple man with simple, but great, taste.)

Next, we had an appetizer--the Cheesesteak Eggrolls.  We were starving after a long day of me working and him running after our little one, so we devoured them before I could even grab a picture!  They were to die for though.  Seriously.

Following that, we both had The Grille Prime Cheeseburger and also split a side order of Truffled Mac & Cheese along with our Adult Milk Shakes.  Here are some photos for your undoubtedly hungry eyes...

The Spread -- Check out that adorable little ketchup bottle!

Amazing Truffled Mac & Cheese - The ruffled pasta was perfect!

The Adult Milk Shake

So the Adult Milk Shake was my primary reason for visiting but that Cheeseburger... oh my... I haven't had a cheeseburger in months and it was phenomenal.  Two medium-thickness patties with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and something called "Sloppy Sauce".  Whatever it was, it was yummy.

The Adult Milk Shake was everything my July ice cream fantasies were made of, with vanilla ice cream, creme de cacao, chocolate liqueur, and walnut liqueur.  A great, big, ol' boozy milk shake.  Yes, please!  It was creamy, had the perfect hit of chocolate flavor without being overly rich, and it was so, so refreshing on a hot summer day.

This was such a great dinner to end a crazy, hot day, and I had a great time celebrating National Ice Cream Month on a much-needed date night with my husband.

I recommend that you check out Del Frisco's Grille in Tampa as well, especially for their cocktail menu and Adult Milk Shake.  You can thank me later.  Also, follow Del Frisco's Grille Tampa on Twitter and Facebook to hear about upcoming promotions or menu items.

My photo
Tampa, Florida, United States
I'm a wife, daughter and amazing twin sister. I'm a mom to my adorable dog, Bella. Loves: Shopping, cooking, baking, good grammar and Dave Matthews Band. I'm also a Bath and Body Works addict, a Michigan State Spartans fanatic, and an iPhone aficionado. I see beauty in simple things and little things make me ever-so-happy. Welcome to my world!

La Bella Vita

Designed By:

Munchkin Land Designs Elements by Crisdan Designs


Designed by Munchkin Land Designs • Copyright 2012 • All Rights Reserved