Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rest in Peace Riley

I am very sad to report that we lost a member of our family today. One of our Dachshunds, Riley, passed away this morning. We're not certain as to why he passed away, all we know is that he passed away in his sleep. He could not have gone in a more peaceful manner and we find a little bit of comfort in knowing that he was not ill, suffering or in pain. He simply laid on the couch to take a nap and never woke up. 

I'd like to take some time to reminisce about a few of the fond memories we have of Riley...

Run Riley Run - We only had Riley for a few weeks and during a trip to the dog beach, he took off running when he looked around and didn't immediately see us. He ran toward our car and with the help of my sister, Ian was able to quickly find Riley. 

Riley Slept Around - When we adopted Riley, we adopted him with the understanding that he had to sleep in bed with us. Back in our days of constant travel, we sometimes left the dogs with friends or family. Over the years, Riley slept in bed with our friends the Newports, the Pelusos, the Tancks, as well as Grandma Ruth, Pop and Uncle Donald. He really got around...

Senior Wiener - At the 2009 Doxapalooza, Riley took first place in the senior wiener races. He was running to his beloved mommy, and I think in his mind, couldn't get to me fast enough. 

Bringing Home Baby Bella - Riley was totally unimpressed with having a newborn baby in the house and was simply happy to have us home from the hospital. He even laid in my lap when I nursed Bella... such a strange but loyal dog!

We are devastated to have lost an important member of our family. We love him very much and miss him dearly. Hopefully the tears subside and we can remember all the good times we had with Riley. Rest well, sweet Riley. 

I'd also like to share a poem that was sent to us by a member of DARE and that always brought tears to my eyes. This poem has even more meaning now...

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

-Author unknown

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the road again...

We woke up, packed our bags and hit the road bright and early this morning. We're heading southwest to the mountains of North Carolina, for a wedding in Asheville. We left our beloved Bella at home, but don't worry, she's in good hands. She has a sleepover planned with Pop tonight and Dee-Dee tomorrow night. With the exception of the drive, it will be a nice little weekend getaway for Ian and me.

We are driving to Asheville to attend the wedding of our friends Will and Ali. Will, Ali and Ian used to work together at KPMG and have remained good friends since. Will was actually in our wedding and so it will be nice to celebrate their special day with them. It will be a reunion of sorts because we will be surrounded by old friends from the KPMG days. And Will and Ali are getting married at the Biltmore Estate, so the location could not be more perfect for this time of year. I will be sure to post lots of pictures and a recap of the weekend's festivities.

Well, we nearly got run off the road by a wreck less driver, so I'd better go and be a good co-pilot for Ian.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

For as long as I can remember, we've always spent Christmas Eve with my mom's side of the family and this tradition continued this year. Unfortunately my grandparents, Poppy and Ms. Dot, aren't in the best of health, so our usual Christmas Eve dinner at their house has been moved. Last year we went out for dinner and this year we gathered at my Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Brad's house. It was a relatively small gathering, as Ms. Dot, my sister and brother-in-law and cousin and cousin-in-law did not join
us this year. All of that is a really long story, that I will get into at another time.

We enjoyed our traditional Christmas Eve meal of ham, turkey, potato casserole, green beans and oyster dressing. We exchanged presents with one another and Bella received some really nice presents! I think her favorite present was a stuffed Ernie doll given to her by my aunt and uncle. She also enjoyed torturing the two dogs and cat at my aunt and uncle's house, but luckily for them, they did not go home with us. She enjoyed chewing ice with Poppy, her great-grandfather, who is the patriarchal ice chewer in the family. When we got back to my dad's house, she informed Pop that, "Poppy chews 'anye' (ice)." How observant is she?!? I managed to take a few pictures, but the uploading of all pictures will be delayed until I have access to an actual computer and not just an iPhone or iPad.

We got home pretty late and our little trooper watched Winnie the Pooh on the way home. We (well, Bella and I) are now dressed in our annual Christmas pajamas and we're all ready for bed! This is my 4th year of buying myself new pajamas for Christmas and it is Bella's 2nd year... it's a tradition I absolutely love! Santa will most certainly be stopping by Pop's house tonight because everyone in our family has been very good this year. We are so very thankful to be spending the holidays with my family, so whatever is left under the tree is just gravy... although I can't wait to see the look on Bella's face when she wakes up to presents under the Christmas tree!

And with that being said... Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We're here!

Last night we went to bed early, not only because we were exhausted from our busy day but because we knew today would be a very early day. We were up and at 'me by 5am and out the door by 5:45am. With a full loaded car, complete with 3 humans and 2 Dachshunds, we were off to the airport. Our flight departed Tampa at 7:20am and we were in Baltimore by 9:30am. We were greeted by Pop at the airport and spent the remainder of the day relaxing... and napping.

Bella was an absolute angel on the plane and I love her for that! It's not easy being 23-weeks pregnant and flying with a toddler, but Bella made it a pleasant experience for all of us. She flies so much better in her car seat and we don't mind paying for the extra seat, even though we have 4 more months of free flying with Bella.

The weather is relatively warm in Baltimore, as it's 60 degrees here! It doesn't feel like winter in Baltimore, but it's supposed to get chilly tonight and we are looking forward to some colder weather. It definitely won't be a white Christmas and that's okay. We are happy to be here and are looking forward to spending time with family and friends.

This holiday trip is bittersweet, because it may be our last trip up here for the holidays for awhile. Next year we'll have two kids and I think it may be a bit too much to schlepp up here for the holidays. Once the girls are a little older, we will probably resume our annual holiday trip. Family and friends are more than welcome to join us for the holidays in Florida, complete with sun, sand and palm trees!

Well, it's been a very long day and we're all exhausted. Our beds are calling our names and I have a feeling we'll all be zonked out as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Nighty night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday hustle and bustle

We have SO MUCH to do this week! It's only Tuesday and I'm already exhausted. I blame pregnancy for my exhaustion because I really I have yet to accomplish much. I suppose being out of town last week didn't help, because I feel like I'm behind on everything. I thought I was really behind on laundry, but I only had two loads to do. I thought my house needs to be cleaned, but it's pretty neat and clean. I thought I had shopping to finish, but all gifts are neatly wrapped under the tree. So what am I forgetting to do?

My "to-do" list beginning tomorrow is a mile long. There's a few odds and ends to pick up before the weekend. The car needs to be dropped off bright and early tomorrow for routine maintenance. I "need" a manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax at the salon. The house needs to be cleaned before the weekend. And I will be flying solo for much of it, as Ian has work to finish up before he can take a few days off. Umm, what am I forgetting? Oh, I have a 20-month-old to take care of! Thank goodness the babysitter is scheduled to come tomorrow!

The holidays are such a busy time of year, but all the hustle and bustle are worth it. Tonight officially began the holiday season for us, as it is the first night of Hanukkah. We lit the first candle and gave Bella a gift. We decided to give her books for Hanukkah rather than toys and will probably make this a tradition. In my opinion, kids can never have enough books and receiving 8 books during Hanukkah each year will make for a very nice library. Tonight she selected a Mickey Mouse book and has already asked Ian to read it to her twice.

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Monday, December 19, 2011

Envy & Greed

I had a conversation with my dad tonight regarding coveting what others have. Sure, people often wish they had things all the time, I get that. But when you allow envy and greed to get the best of you, that's when it really becomes a problem. Envy and greed are two of the worst character flaws a person can exhibit. It's not becoming of a person and often has a negative affect on relationships (i.e. isolation, jealousy, etc). I do think it's human nature to always want more, however the degree to which a person displays greed varies from person to person.

What people fail to recognize are the sacrifices that are often made to achieve certain things in life. Little do people know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side... trust me, I know. I have envied others, but I have yet to let that envy get the best of me. I have never allowed envy to negatively affect a relationship because obviously I value the relationship more than anything. I have also been the subject of envy, and trust me, it's not a good a thing. Envy can be a slippery slope and once the envy begins, it is often difficult to stop it.

Being that it is "that time of year" I just wanted to remind everyone to be thankful for what you have. Stop wasting time worrying about what others have and worry about what you do have. The time, thoughts and feelings wasted on coveting what others have would be much better spent being thankful for the things in your life. There will always be people in this world who have more than you and there will always be people in this work who have less than you. That's just the way it is.

So please, take a moment to say thank you for the blessings in your life, no matter how big or small they may be. Today, I am thankful for my family and friends... the two biggest blessings in my life. For me, the rest is just gravy.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Sunday, December 18, 2011


As mentioned in a previous post (or two) Doxapalooza 2009 and Doxapalooza 2011, we have been avid supporters of a Dachshund rescue group called D.A.R.E. or Dachshund Adoption Rescue and Education. It's a group of Dachshund lovers who devote their spare time to rescuing, fostering, adopting out and educating people on the Dachshund breed. We adopted Riley through D.A.R.E. over 4 years ago and have been supporting the group ever since. 

I was reading the paper today and came across the COOLEST article: Kansas City Dachshund! Basically, a stray Dachshund turned up at Hillsborough County Animal Services and with the help of D.A.R.E. will returned to her family in Kansas City, Missouri on Monday. This story hits close to home and who doesn't love a story with a happy ending?!?

Kaiser and Riley are both micro-chipped, however I'm not quite certain that we have ever updated the contact information associated with the micro-chip. This story serves as a reminder as to how important it is to keep that information up to date and you can be rest assured that I will be looking in to updating their information today. You never know when a service worker is going to leave a gate open or when the dogs are going to dig their way to China just to get out of the backyard.

Being that it is the season of giving, be sure to consider giving to D.A.R.E. so that the kind folks can continue to do what they do best: adopting, rescuing and educating people on Dachshunds! And for the record, while their main focus are Dachshunds, they often help foster and adopt out other breeds. If all you do is read the article, then that's cool, too. Way to go D.A.R.E.!!! 
Kaiser and Riley 
Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2... and Kaiser & Riley, too!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Where in the world is Mama Lasher?

I am blogging from a very unexpected location. Here are some hints: I'm with about 125 of my closest friends. I'm not quite sure of my exact geographical location. I have a window seat. In case you're still stumped, I'm on an airplane! I'm en route from Baltimore to Tampa and I'm about 30,000 feet above the ground and somewhere over North Carolina (at least that's my guess). Pretty cool, huh?

AirTran was offering wifi for $1.95 today, so I decided to treat myself to a little in-flight entertainment. I thought it would be cool to blog from the friendly skies, so here I am! I've already checked my Facebook and email, all from my window seat.

My trip to Baltimore was bittersweet. It was great to spend time with my family, but I wish we would have been together for a happier occasion. Thursday night we attended the viewing and memorial service at the funeral home. The memorial service was certainly a tearjerker, especially when the minister made reference to my dad and me. On Friday we attended the funeral and a lunch in honor of my god father. In that cemetery, I said my goodbyes to Uncle Mickey and told him that we would one day be reunited. It wasn't an easy goodbye but it was something I needed to do in order to come to terms with his death. I'm not quite to the acceptance part yet, but every day I am one step closer to accepting his death.

For most, in the grand scheme of things, god parents often seem unimportant, but I am one of the lucky ones. My god parents have been involved in my life since birth and even in my adult life. To me, god parents are very special people who provide love and guidance, until they leave this Earth. My god parents have done exactly that. They have attended dance recitals, soccer games, graduations and a wedding. I see my god parents several times a year and have had the privilege of introducing them to Bella. My god parents have seen me grow into a woman, with a life and family of her, but who is grounded enough to return home quite often to be with family.

My family is pretty awesome, including my extended family. I have an extensive network of aunts, uncles and cousins who are all amazing people. We have fun when we're together, we actually enjoy spending time together and, most importantly, we all love and support one another... no matter what. Okay, enough about how awesome my family, because this will certainly go to all of their heads.

I have about another hour until I touch down in Tampa. Ian and Bella will be there to pick me up at the airport and I cannot wait to see them! I've been gone since Wednesday and I really miss them. Ian and Bella had some quality daddy/daughter time today and enjoyed a trip to Busch Gardens... just the two of them! Tonight we will head to a holiday party that we RSVP'ed to before I made plans for this trip. We will be a little, but that's okay, the party will be well worth the extra hustle and bustle.

And that is all... from somewhere over the southeastern United States.

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

P.S. I have forgotten how EASY it is to travel without children! My dad dropped me off at BWI at 2:45pm, I was to the gate by 3:05 and was on the plane by 3:30pm! Carrying on luggage and traveling light is a luxury I miss, although I do love my little travel buddy, Bella!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Back to Baltimore

After spending a fun morning with Bella at a music and play class, I boarded a plane, by myself, to Baltimore. My little munchkin was extra adorable this morning so it was hard to leave her. We exchanged hugs and kisses and said our goodbyes. I made sure I got some extra kisses on that pretty little face of hers. Apparently she cried when I walked away from the car and into the airport. Awe, she really does love me!

I didn't bring Bella with me because I wasn't sure of how things would be scheduled. Apparently my instincts were right, because the viewings are from 2-4pm and 7-9pm on Thursday and the services are at 2pm on Friday. Bella would have been left with my mom because the afternoon is prime napping time and the evening is prime bedtime. My poor little munchkin is flexible but several days of being off schedule would have made for one cranky child. And (in my opinion) a funeral is no place for such a young child.

After a very uneventful flight, in which I was able to listen to music and read, we touched down in Baltimore. I arrived around 4:30 and was greeted by my dad. It was really good to see him and we made quick work of getting caught up. We headed home and went out to dinner.

I spoke with Ian and Grandma Ruth to get the full Bella report. Bella and Grandma played all afternoon and had a great time. They're going to Busch Gardens tomorrow, which Bella will love! It's so nice to have family ready, willing and able to take care of your child in your absence. Ian is busy at work this week, so he really needed Grandma Ruth to step up. And as usual, she did! Thank you Grandma Ruth!

It's late and I'd better hit the hay. I've got a good book to curl up with (err, more like my iPad). It's about 40-degrees, the heat is on and that makes for one sleepy lady... Good night!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Monday, December 12, 2011

Errands & Accidents

Today started out great! Bella and I were ready and out the door by 9am to begin running errands. Little did that our day would take a turn for the worse after Bella's nap...

We headed out early to beat the traffic and crowds at the stores. I needed to run to my least favorite store, Babies-R-Us, because they were having a sale on diapers. I also had coupons from P&G for Pampers, so I wanted to stack my savings. Maybe it was because we were there first thing in the morning, but today's trip to BRU was actually a really good experience. I wanted a box of Pampers Swaddlers for baby #2, because we're starting to stock pile things like diapers and wipes when they're on sale. Online they advertised a box of 234-diapers for $45.99. When I arrived at the store, they only had a box of 210-diapers for $45.99. Obviously I wanted my additional 24-diapers, so I asked an employee for assistance. After she searched the entire store, she found the only remaining box on the floor. Yay! I picked up another box of diapers for Bella and a huge box of wipes. With the coupons I used and the gift card I received, it was like purchasing 374 diapers for only 16 cents each! Not a bad deal, if I do say so myself. I picked up a few other odds and ends for baby #2, using coupons. The coupon fairies must have been smiling down on me today because the cashier accepted my 20% off BRU coupons AND my $5 off coupon from Buy Buy Baby. My savings really added up this trip, despite several impulse buys. 

After BRU, we headed to Walgreens and Publix. I needed to pick up gift cards for our white elephant family exchange. In our family, not only do you put in an outrageous gift, but you put in a gift that someone would actually want. It's great because you get the best of both worlds. I also picked up a few last minute gifts. Never in my life did I think I'd spend so much money at Walgreens, but I killed many birds with one stone. Feeling productive, we headed to Publix to purchase a few things for the week. And by noon we were home eating lunch and getting ready for nap time.

I planned to take a nap but my mind was going a mile a minute so I relaxed and watched some DVR'ed shows instead. I'm sure glad I relaxed for those 3-hours because I had no idea what was in store for us for the rest of the afternoon. Once Bella woke up from her nap, I went in there with a basket of clean laundry. My plan was to keep her in the crib while I folded and put her laundry away. It's something I do on a weekly basis and usually goes without a hitch. Well, I had forgotten that I had washed her lovies today, so when she saw them she became really excited. What do kids do when they're excited and standing on a mattress? Why they start jumping up and down! But unlike most kids, Bella didn't fair so well... during her gymnastics, she hit her mouth on the front of the crib! Ouch! I quickly scooped her up to console her. As I was loving on her and telling her it would be okay, I went to flip her upside because that usually cheers her up and she'll start to giggle. Well, when I flipped her over her face was C-O-V-E-R-E-D in blood. The front of my chest was covered in blood and blood was gushing out of her mouth. 

Rather than panicking, I "calmly" called my friend, Sara, who responded that she'd be there in a second. Apparently she told me something else during that conversation, but all I heard was "I'll be there in a second." Once Sara and her girls arrived, Bella was pretty much finished crying but the blood was still gushing out of her mouth. With Sara's guidance, we were able to locate the source of the bleeding. Being the awesome friend that she is, Sara not only held my child while I poked and prodded in her mouth, but she helped clean up my child while I called the pediatrician and dentist. Luckily the bleeding stopped after I gave Bella a frozen teething ring and I was able to get in touch with our friend, Patrick, who is a dentist. I sent him a few pictures of Bella's mouth and he deemed the accident as a non-emergency and said it could wait until tomorrow. I picked his brain regarding infection and the chance of her losing the tooth, but he reassured me that kids are resilient and most of the damage was at the gum-line and not the actual tooth. He also reassured me that if the tooth was dead, that it was only a baby tooth and she'd only have a few years of dental anguish. Obviously I was exhausted after the whole ordeal, as was Bella. She is such a trooper and once the hoopla was all over, she was back to her normal, sweet self. I am happy to report that Bella is doing just fine this evening and hopefully won't have any permanent physical (or mental) damage from this. 

It's been one hell of a day around here. The week is only about to get busier... oh joy! I'd say I'm looking forward to the rest and relaxation during the holidays, but that is so far from the truth. Lots of friends and family to see and so little time to do so. If only I could be in two places at once... 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

A nice cold teething ring does the trick!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's the holiday season! And it's underway...

A date night for mom and dad? Yes, please! Last night we attended a holiday party that was posted by a partner at Ian's firm. It was a fabulous party and we both really enjoyed ourselves. I was to catch up with a few friends and I was finally able to meet more of Ian's coworkers. I even met his mentor, who was such a sweetheart and absolutely hilarious! I was reminded by several people, just how awesome Ian really is! He is well respected by the partners and his coworkers and all of his hard work has not gone unnoticed. They assumed that since he was such a great tax consultant, that he was a great father, too. Obviously, they are correct in their assumption and I couldn't say enough good things about Ian as a father AND a husband. It must be nice to be such a well-rounded person, but it is REALLY nice to be married to such a well-rounded person!

Needless to say, we had a late night and we both longed for some good sleep. Ian was up early (as usual) and I ended up sleeping in until nearly 8:30am. When I woke up, the house was neat and tidy, thanks to Ian! Have I mentioned lately how awesome my husband is?!? I hit the ground running with a quick trip to Toys R Us to pick up a a few things for Bella. I had been eyeing up this Alphabet Elmo on, but couldn't justify spending $30 for it. I received an email from TRU and they were having a sale so I ended up snagging Alphabet Elmo for $14.99! And while I was in TRU, I picked up the Leap Frog Fridge Phonics and an adorable purse set. I am OFFICIALLY finished shopping for Bella, mark my words. This child has enough gifts under the tree and next to the menorah for several holiday seasons. But I couldn't resist such good deals! 

Despite being super prepared with our holiday cards, I really slacked on getting them into the mail. I have been forgetting to pick up address and return address labels at Target, thanks to pregnancy brain. So we also made a trip to Target and Publix for labels and stamps to finish our holiday cards. We labeled and stamped all 150 of our cards and mailed them off this afternoon. Thank goodness that is behind us! Now all that's left to do is enjoy all of the cards we receive from friends and family!

We trekked back to St. Pete this afternoon for a couple's baby shower for our friends, Kat and Rich. They are expecting their first child in February, just a few days before our friends Lisa and Paul. To add to all the fun and mayhem, they are also expecting a little girl! Yay! We ate, drank and chatted all afternoon and then showered Kat with lots of cute (and pink) things. Before we knew it, we had been at the shower for nearly 6-hours and we decided it was time to head back to Tampa. Prior to getting home, I had to drop Ian off at a bachelor party. He is attending a bachelor party for our friend, Will, who is getting married later this month. Ahh, to be young again! Hopefully it's not too late of a night because I could really use another night of good sleep. Tomorrow, Lisa and I have a busy morning planned of consignment store and baby boutique shopping! I can't wait!

It's been a really great weekend and I'm sad it's slowly coming to an end. Weekends are so wonderful, especially when spent with family and friends. I have a chick flick, couch and some popcorn calling my name, so I'd better get going. Night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Friday, December 9, 2011

"It's easier to leave than to be left behind..."

Uncle Mickey and I at our wedding in August 2008.
This afternoon I received some bad news from my dad. My godfather, Uncle Mickey, passed away around 1:00pm today after a battle with kidney and liver failure. He had been in the hospital for several weeks and after being told he was too weak for a liver transplant, things quickly went down hill. Things haven't really set in yet and I think I'm actually still in denial. 

In terms of godparents, I really lucked out. My parents chose two of the most amazing people to help guide me through life. They have always been there for me and even though I'm a thousand miles away, we have always made it a point to keep in touch. My godfather was an amazing man, who overcame adversity to become a very accomplished professional in the field of banking. He was married my Aunt Laurie for over 20-years and they loved each other in a way I always admired. In my opinion, Uncle Mickey was one of the smartest, most charismatic, most handsome and most down-to-earth man, I've ever known. I hope I can be half the person he was. 

I was able to spend some time with Uncle Mickey this past year during our various trips to Baltimore. We even spent about 30-minutes alone, picking up pizza, so we had a chance to talk. It was during this quick trip that he confided in me just how sick he really was. I didn't want to believe it and I knew I would eventually come to terms with it, but I just wanted to enjoy our time together. I have so many good memories of Uncle Mickey, that will never be forgotten. I've enjoyed reminiscing about these fond memories, but I miss him already. I'm always thankful that he was able to meet Bella and spend some time with her. If only she could have gotten to know him the way I was able to. She would have loved him as much as I do. 

I take some comfort in knowing that he is no longer suffering and that Uncle Mickey is in a much better place. He has been reunited with his parents, who passed away when he was just a child. And I know he will continue to watch over me, just like he did here on Earth. I really do miss him.... 

So please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers, especially my Aunt Laurie. She could really use the extra strength right now, as could the rest of us. We miss him more than words can say and are truly devastated by this loss. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Thursday, December 8, 2011

2011 Holiday Play Date & Cookie Exchange

It's days like today that remind me of the phrase, "time flies when you're having fun." It blows my mind that we've been with the same, small group of friends for over a year and we've celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah twice now. It was another fun-filled play date and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. All 11 kids and 10 moms had fun, ate lunch and yummy cookies and exchanged books. It's a tradition I'm glad we started: exchanging cookies and exchanging books. 

I kept lunch simple today and made chicken salad sandwiches for the moms and PBJ's for the kids. I also made a batch of turkey noodle soup, which turned out to be perfect with today's cooler weather. The fresh fruit salad was also gobbled up by the kids. I opted to forgo making a dessert, as this was a cookie exchange as well. Everyone made extra cookies, so we snacked on the various cookies everyone brought. Last year's cookies were okay, but this year's cookies were AWESOME! We all really stepped up our game and made some really delicious cookies. Between the Rolo cookies, chocolate cherry cookies and the homemade iced sugar cookies, I'm not quite sure which were my favorite. Now I have 4-dozen yummy cookies sitting in the kitchen, calling my name... yay!

The kids looked adorable in all of their little holiday outfits. A few of the more talented moms made shirts and dresses for their kids and I dressed Bella in her adorable romper from Barefoot Designs. We have some cuties in our group and the outfits make the kids even cuter! Oh! And my little arts and crafts project was greatly appreciated by the moms and the kids! I made personalized ornaments for each kid and they turned out to be really cute! 
An ornament for each kid.
What a bunch of cute kids!
My little cutie.
Our book exchange went well, too. The moms placed the books in the middle of the family room and the kids each selected a book of their own. Bella picked a really cool Mickey Mouse book and started reading it as soon as she unwrapped it. I love that Bella loves to read as much as I do! She's my little book worm and I wouldn't change it for the world. 
The pile of books. 
Bella unwrapping her book.
Getting down to business...
I am exhausted as I was up late and woke up early this morning. Ian's flight didn't get in until after midnight last night, which brought him home around 1am. Blah! I was up early to prepare for today's play date and the lack of sleep has caught up with me. I didn't take a nap this afternoon, as I needed to clean up from the play date and take care of a few other things around the house. I really regret not taking a nap, but hopefully this means I will get a good night's sleep tonight. And with that being said, good night!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Making the most of a BEAUTIFUL day!

So what do YOU do when you have AMAZING weather and a toddler?!? For us, we head to one of the many things to do in Tampa and since we basically have passes to everything, this meant the zoo today. We also take advantage of the amazing weather by taking marathon naps. What a perfect day!

Bella and I invited our friends Stephanie and Connor to accompany us to the zoo today. The weather was gorgeous and the zoo was deserted, so it was really a perfect day. The kids were able to do all of their favorite things, including a ride on the carousel and the train. We were even able to take the safari tour, which is a very popular attraction and is usually filled up by the time we get there. The kids had fun and were pretty tuckered out by the time we headed out around lunch time. In fact, both Bella and Connor fell asleep in the car and took a quick nap before we ate lunch at Steak and Shake*. 

I didn't bring my real camera today since we were just at the zoo, but I was able to take a few pictures with my trusty iPhone. All in all, it was a perfect day. The kids were in good moods, Stephanie and I were in good moods and the weather was absolutely beautiful. There is nothing like quality time with good friends to make a day really feel complete. 

Well, I have a few things to finish preparing for our annual holiday play date and cookie exchange. I have a book to wrap for our book exchange with the kids, which is probably my favorite thing about tomorrow's play date. Bella loves books and we love to add new books to our repertoire. I finally finished my arts and crafts project and I think the moms and kids will all be impressed with it. And I have a few things to finish preparing for lunch, including a batch of turkey noodle soup. Yum! Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE play date Thursdays?!? 

So this mama is going to finish up a few things and head to bed. Ian is due home tonight, but won't be getting home until midnight. He has been in Dallas since Sunday and we have missed him! Too bad Bella won't get to see him until tomorrow morning, but she will be excited to see her beloved daddy! And I'm pretty excited to see him, too. Nighty night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

*Steak and Shake is definitely not my favorite place to eat, but there are always coupons and I was craving a mint chocolate chip milkshake. And in case I haven't mentioned it before, I am lactose intolerant. So I definitely paid for my indulgence later, but was able to take a nap to give my digestive system a chance to recover. During nap time, it started raining which made for perfect napping weather. Bella took a 3-hour nap and I took a 2-hour nap, so the rain most certainly provided some calm and soothing background noise.
We're going on a safari!
Sleepy head.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookies, cookies and more cookies!

Today started early and I am exhausted. I had a to-do list a mile long and I accomplished every task on my list. I love productive days! 

I spent the morning participating in a market research study downtown. I was instructed to arrive early, as a $15 incentive was being given out to those who showed up early. I made it a point to have the babysitter arrive super early to our house. She is as punctual as I am and she arrived by 7:30am. I was out the door by 7:50am and arrived to my destination by 8:30am. I was the second person to arrive and so I qualified for the $15 incentive... woo-hoo! In less than two hours, I made $140 for simply giving my opinion about a product. 

I ran a few errands in preparation for our play date on Thursday. I went to Whole Foods to pick up a some tasty treats for our friends, including the most beautiful looking kiwis and strawberries I have ever seen. I picked up a few other things, but those will remain a surprise until Thursday. I also stopped by Publix for a few ingredients for my cookie recipe. We're having our annual cookie swap at our play date and I am making homemade peanut butter cookies. It's such a simple recipe and I love passing on quick and easy recipes to my friends. I did add an extra ingredient or two, but those will also remain a surprise until Thursday. 

When I returned home from my errands, Bella was down for her afternoon nap. I walked the babysitter out and started baking... and baking... and baking. I ended up baking 6 dozen cookies because I wasn't happy with my first two batches of cookies. The first two batches are delicious, but they just don't look pretty. Part of cooking/baking is presentation and I definitely failed on my first two batches. Oh well, I had more than enough ingredients and time to bake another 2 dozen cookies and so I did. And just a side note, my house smells absolutely wonderful!!! There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies to make a house feel like a home!

Once Bella woke up from her nap, we took a walk around the neighborhood. The weather was cool and it just seemed like good wagon walking weather. Bella LOVES taking walks in her wagon and I could use the exercise. We then headed home to get ready to go out for dinner. Mexican sounded good, so we headed to a local restaurant for some yummy Mexican food. After dinner, we ran a few errands and then headed home for bath, book and bed time. I am now catching up on a few DVR'ed shows and relaxing with a glass of... water. Oh how I miss wine, but water will have to do until April. 

I am so thankful that I was able to get so much accomplished today. I am very grateful that my body was able to keep up with my mind. It makes my less than productive Sunday feel like a distant memory. I am grateful for all of the sweet moments I shared with Bella today. While she may have had a meltdown or two, the moment she patted my belly and said, "baby... tummy" made those meltdowns melt away. I am also thankful for a sweet friend who reminded me that we need to be grateful, even when it isn't always easy... thank you, Ursula! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

P.S. The babysitter sent me an adorable picture of Bella wearing her shoes today. I just thought I'd share the cuteness with everyone... enjoy! And might I just add, this little girl LOVES shoes!!! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Headaches and Heartaches

Thank goodness Bella was with Grandma Ruth last night because, I was sick as a dog last night. I woke up yesterday morning with a headache, that progressively got worse throughout the day. Once I returned home from Lisa's baby shower, I was in a lot of pain. I decided it was time to take some Tylenol and relax for a little while. When I went to lay down, my headache was so bad that I couldn't get comfortable. I tossed and turned for almost 2-hours and finally managed to fall asleep. When I woke up, I thought my headache would be gone, but I was so wrong. My headache was still there and I felt even worse. 

I tried every trick in the book to get rid of this headache. I took a bath... drank some tea... chugged water... rubbed my temples... applied an ice pack to my head... ate a snack... you name it, I tried it. Nothing worked. The headache was so awful, that I ended up getting nauseous. So not only did I have a pounding headache, but I felt like I was going to throw up. 

Sufficed to say, I put all my plans on hold for the afternoon and evening. I wanted to finish up my arts and crafts project, but couldn't. I wanted to mop my floors, but couldn't. My afternoon and evening to catch up on things around the housed, didn't happen. I was disappointed, but I physically couldn't do anything. I hate it when I have plans and my body doesn't allow for me to follow through with my plans. 

I have said it before and I will say it again, this pregnancy is SO different than when I was pregnant with Bella. I had 12-weeks of nausea with Bella and I'm going on 21-weeks of nausea with baby #2. I had a few minor headaches with Bella and I've had many debilitating headaches with baby #2. I had zero complications with Bella and I'm having to go for a level II u/s with baby #2. I had some back pain during the last trimester of my pregnancy with Bella and I've had terrible back pain since the first trimester with baby #2. Bella was a dream baby and is a very well-behaved toddler, so God only knows what baby #2 has in store for us! 

It's not even 10am and I have already called Walgreens to refill my prescriptions for anti-nausea medication. I refilled both (yes, there are two) so that I have an arsenal of anti-nausea medications for the week. I need to hit the road to go pick up Bella from Grandma Ruth's and run a few errands. Bella and I have a busy week ahead of us... appointments, meetings and play dates. The weekend won't bring much relief, as we have a really busy weekend planned. Unfortunately, there won't be much time for rest and relaxation until after the holidays.

And on top of me not feeling 100%, I received some heartbreaking news from my dad yesterday. My god father, Uncle Mickey, is not doing well at all. He's been in the hospital for the past few weeks and needs a liver transplant. Unfortunately his condition is too far gone and he is too weak to qualify for a liver transplant. My dad went to visit him yesterday and he is now in a coma. His arms and legs are strapped down because he is having such bad tremors. I called his wife, Aunt Laurie, yesterday to tell her that we loved him and that we were thinking about him. It's funny because Aunt Laurie and Uncle Mickey aren't biological relatives, but we have always treated them as such. My dad and Uncle Mickey grew up together and have been best friends since childhood. He is the brother my dad never had and has always been there for our family. My heart aches so badly, as I cannot imagine life without him. So, please keep him and our family in your thoughts and prayers.

Well, I'd better get a move on and pick up my beautiful little girl. I haven't seen her since Sunday morning and I can't wait to see her! I hope Monday is good to y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lisa's Baby Shower

Today a few friends and I hosted a baby shower for our dear friend, Lisa. She and her husband, Paul, are expecting their first child and so this afternoon we showered her love, food and gifts. They're having a little girl, Daniella, who is due in February. I'm selfishly excited that they're having a girl because it means lifelong friends for my two girls. 

We found a cute, tea room in Brandon at which to host the shower. When we looked at pictures online, we knew this place would be perfect, as it is so pink and girlie. It turned out to be the easiest shower to plan and host. The venue was perfect! It was decorated beautifully, so we didn't have to do much in terms of decorations. The food was delicious! It was great not having to cook anything. So if you're looking for a venue to host a bridal shower or baby shower, be sure to check out Tabitha's Tea Room in Brandon. 

Guests arrived around noon and Paul took care of getting Lisa to the shower. You see, the tea room is located near a local restaurant, so Paul told Lisa they'd be going there to watch football. And Lisa bought it! I didn't think Paul would be able to keep such a secret, but he was able to do so! Lisa arrived and was totally surprised! I love surprising people, especially good friends. We spent the afternoon drinking tea, eating yummy treats and showering Lisa and Daniella with gifts.

Beautiful pink cupcakes.
The cupcakes and shower favors.
Table of gifts (diaper cake made by yours truly). 
The beautiful tea set.

Personalize m&ms, just for Lisa! 
The glowing mama-to-be!
Shower games! 
Yummy tea sandwiches, chocolate chip scones and desserts. 
Another shower game.
Opening gifts.
Yet another cute gift. 
Lisa is going to make a great mama!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Why I love Saturdays...

When I woke up this morning, it was just Kaiser and me in the house. Ian took Bella and Riley to run a few errands. They stopped at Publix to pick up some fruit for breakfast, returned a RedBox movie and even picked up a few chicken biscuits at Chick-Fil-A. It was a very nice way to begin the weekend and having a quiet house is something that doesn't happen often. Once Ian returned with Bella and Riley, he took Bella to the gym and I enjoyed some additional quiet time. 

Our Saturday began with a trip to the Winthrop Winter Fest, which is a holiday festival that is held not too far from our neighborhood. We originally planned to walk with Bella's wagon, but the lack of sidewalks caused us to change our plans. We met our friends, Stephanie and Connor, at the festival and the kids immediately went into the bounce house. Connor and Bella bounced, jumped and climbed their way through a mini obstacle course. They had a blast! The giggles and squeals were priceless. We walked around for a bit and returned to the bounce house for another round. Again, the kids had a blast! We said our good-byes to Stephanie and Connor and headed home. We left right before lunch so that we could get Bella home for a nap. 
Connor making his way through the tires.
And out they come... 
"Mommy, stop taking my picture and let me bounce!" 
"I'll just walk over here..."
"Hmm... now how do I get around these tires?"
"Maybe if I hide behind this, mommy won't see me?"
During nap time, Ian and I kept ourselves busy with various things around the house. I worked on an arts and crafts project for our holiday themed play date this Thursday and Ian headed to the office to take care of some work. I really wish I would have participated in nap time because Bella took a 4-hour nap. That bounce house workout must have really worn her out! Ian worked at the office for a few hours and returned home just in time for dinner. We had big plans for the evening and I was really excited to get a move on.

Ian suggested we do "something fun" this evening and so I recommended two options: Lowry Park Zoo's Winter Wonderland or the Symphony in Lights at the Shoppes at Wiregrass. After a little research, we decided to head to Lowry Park Zoo. I'm so glad we chose to go to the zoo because Bella had so much fun! She "oohed" and "ahhed" at the beautiful holiday light displays. She rode the carousel with her daddy and loved it. She even saw Santa Claus and took a picture with him (and her daddy, too). All Bella wanted to do was walk... any time we asked her if she wanted to walk, be carried or sit in the stroller, she quickly replied, "walk." Love the fact that she enjoys using those little legs to get around. 
Bella and daddy walking into the zoo.
Eyeing up some beautiful lights. 
A carousel ride with daddy.
Bella showing daddy one of the holiday displays. 
"Oooh... ahhh!"
Bella and daddy visiting Santa Claus.
Walking back to the car.
Around 8:30pm, we decided we had seen everything we needed to see and headed to the car. On our walk back to the car, which Bella insisted she walk the entire way to the car, she surprised us with just how smart she is. We were parked in row 3, but Bella pointed to the "3" and said "M." It took us a moment, but at the angle she was standing, the "3" really did look like a lower case "M." We had no idea she knew ANY letters, so we were shocked. Maybe it was a fluke, but each time she saw a "3", she would point at it and say "M." My goodness this little girl is super smart! And I love the fact that she surprises us each and every day with her intelligence. I guess she got daddy's looks and my brains?!? I'm only kidding... she definitely has the intelligence of the two of us combined. 

Ian and I predicted that within 5-minutes of getting into the car that Bella would be out cold. She remained awake the entire car ride home and read her books out loud to us from the back seat. This kid loves to read! Maybe that's why she is so smart?!? As soon as we got home, it was time for a bath, book and bed. As I type, Ian and I are watching movie and will be calling it an early night, as we both have busy days planned for tomorrow. 

Today was an amazingly great day with the family. I love days like today and treasure the time that we spend together as a family. I cannot wait to have another family member to share days like today with! Goodnight y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

Friday, December 2, 2011

Half way there!

Due to my gross negligence and pregnancy brain, I missed my 20-week anatomy scan last week. We were in the middle of assembling nursery furniture and getting ready for Thanksgiving, so it totally slipped my mind. I realized almost an hour late that I had missed my appointment and so I called immediately to reschedule. I was able to get an appointment for this afternoon, which was more than fine with me. Ian worked from home today because my appointment was the afternoon, during Bella's nap time. I dare not wake a sleeping child and Ian has the ability to work from home, so I took advantage of it.

The ultrasound technician is really nice and unlike most u/s technicians, she actually takes time to explain things as she is doing the scan. Little Miss Lasher is in fact, a little miss. We found out at a previous u/s and that fact was confirmed today. Her measurements look great and she's measuring right on time. She is definitely a wiggle worm and was moving and grooving throughout the u/s. 

Unfortunately, there is some slightly off putting news... at the end of my u/s, I found out there is a slight problem. I have a placental lake, which is essentially a pool of maternal blood in the placenta. The u/s technician showed the images to the OB and so she scheduled me for a level II u/s next week at the local hospital. The OB wants to get a better look at the placenta and this pool of blood. She reassured me that this is nothing to be concerned about, as if it were an actual concern, she would have scheduled the level II u/s for today. Easy for her to say, right? I am going to try to relax and not worry about this, but worrying is what we mothers do best! Of course I came home and googled "placental lake" and was surprised to find that this is a common occurrence. That was a relief... well sort of. If it's any consolation, at least I get to see her again next week!

This little girl is giving me a run for my money. My pregnancy with Bella was practically a breeze. I had absolutely no complications and my pregnancy was completely normal. This pregnancy has been plagued with constant nausea, horrendous back aches and now this little issue. I live off anti-nausea meds, I wear a belly band for back support and I will have to have a more in-depth u/s next week. If this is any indication of what Little Miss Lasher will be like as a child, then we are really in for it!

I am going to try to take it easy this weekend, which will be no easy feat. I have a 20-month-old toddler to chase, a baby shower to host for my friend, holiday cards to mail and a household to run. Luckily Bella is going to Grandma Ruth's on Sunday so I can focus on hosting an amazingly awesome baby shower for my dear friend, Lisa. A mother's work is never done, I tell you! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim, Bella & Baby #2

P.S. I am not worried about this minor issue that is actually a very common occurrence, so please don't worry about me or Little Miss Lasher. If something were really wrong, my OB would have sent me straight to labor and delivery for monitoring and I would not be sitting here blogging about it. Just keep thinking positive thoughts and this too shall pass! =)