Saturday, July 30, 2011

A pretty nice little Saturday

Bella treated us to a morning of sleeping in until 8am! I know that doesn't seem like sleeping in, but when your child is typically awake at 7am, it most certainly is. Ian treated me and I was able to sleep in until almost 9:30am. If it weren't for a quick trip into the bedroom by Ian to change into gym clothes, I probably could have slept in until almost 11am. Oh well, sleeping in until 9:30am was still a treat. 

Ian and Bella went to the gym. Bella seems to have more fun at the gym than anyone else in the family, which is good because it means she enjoys the child care center. She has graduated into the toddler section at the child care center at the gym and had a blast! When Ian went to pick her up after his work out, she cried because she didn't want to leave. You see, Bella was playing with B-O-Y in the Little Tikes Tree! She was sitting with her little friend in the tree and Ian could hear her chatting away. It must have been adorable! Next time I think I'll join them, just so I can catch Bella in the act. Hehe!

While Ian and Bella were at the gym, I caught up on a few chores around the house and relaxed. It was so nice and quiet that I couldn't help but enjoy the quiet. I probably should have done a few more things, but that's what Sunday is for, right? We're having out of town guests next weekend, so I need to get the house in order before they arrive on Saturday. 

We met up with our good friends Paul and Lisa, or Uncle Paul and Aunt Lisa, as they're known to Bella. They're very good friends of ours and we don't spend nearly enough time with them, but that will change soon (I hope) as they will be adding the their family in February 2012! Bella will have a little Peluso playmate and we're so happy for them. We caught up over lunch at Hooters and headed back to our house to hang out. It was so hot today, so we spent the majority of the afternoon in the pool and then ordered dinner from a new pizza joint in our neighborhood called Cappy's. After dinner we put Bella to bed and watched a movie and before I knew it, it was nearly 10pm! 

Ian and I are now catching up on a few shows we DVR'ed last week. We're addicted to a show on A&E called "Storage Wars." It's a show that follows several people as they attend storage locker auctions and attempt to make money from other people's junk. It sounds totally stupid and uninteresting, but if you haven't seen it, check it out because it's a pretty cool show. In fact, a guy purchased a storage locker that contained the authentic shoes, worn by Shelley Long in the movie "Popeye." The shoes are estimated to be worth $1800 and he only spent $145 on the storage locker. Pretty cool, huh?!?

We enjoyed the last relaxing Saturday we'll have for awhile. We have quite a month ahead of us, which I'm eagerly anticipating and dreading, at the same time. We're going to be some busy bees during August! And with that being said, I'm off to bed. Nighty night, y'all! Hopefully we'll all be able to sleep in again tomorrow. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Friday, July 29, 2011

Feeling old

Have you ever felt old and out of place at a place you used to frequent all the time? I felt that way last night at a bar we used to go to 2-3 times a week before we moved to the suburbs. I no longer felt cool or like I was the youngest person there, but rather, I felt totally uncool and old. While being there brought back a lot of wonderful and fun memories of nights out with friends, it also reminded me of how much my life has changed over the past 3.5 years.

Here is a brief account of what happened yesterday... we joined a few old friends of ours for a night out in South Tampa. I was under the impression that we'd just be hanging out at a friend's house and making it an early night. Apparently Ian had other plans and we ended up going to MacDinton's... a place I haven't been in many, many years. It was a Thursday night, so it was packed with young 20-somethings dressed to the nines in their cute dresses and heels. People kept bumping into me and making me spill my water (uncool, I know). I think we lasted a total of 30 minutes at MacDinton's and were ready to go home. Luckily there wasn't a cover charge and we didn't valet our car because I would have been annoyed at the complete waste of money.

To be completely honest, I don't miss that lifestyle... at all. I don't miss driving around the streets of South Tampa looking for a half way decent parking spot. I don't miss walking 2 miles just to get to the bar from my half way decent parking spot. I don't miss handing my ID to some bouncer. I don't miss waiting 15 minutes just to get the bar tender's attention to order a drink. And I definitely don't miss the hangovers.

Yes, my life has significantly changed from how it was several years ago and I'm more than okay with that because my life has changed for the better. Instead of spending time and money at some trendy bar, I'm spending time with my family at Busch Gardens. Instead of parking 2 miles away from some trendy bar, I'm parking in family parking spots at Brandon Mall. Instead of living in South Tampa, I'm now living in the suburbs. And instead of driving my cute, little 2-door, red Hyundai Tiburon, I'm driving around in my fully-loaded Honda Odyssey. All of this being said, life is great and I wouldn't have it any other way!

And it was AWESOME not to wake up without a hangover this morning! It's time to get started on some chores and errands I need to take care of... ahh, such is the life of a stay-at-home-mom in the 'view!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

100th post and wordless Wednesday...

Where is Bella?

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To pierce? Or not to pierce? That is the question.

I'm going to take a moment to discuss the often controversial topic of ear piercing. While this may not seem like a hot topic, when the ears aren't attached to your body, it becomes a hot topic. There are pro-piercers and anti-piercers, and I find myself somewhere in the middle. When your daughter is an infant or even a toddler, the decision to pierce her ears is made by you, the parent. Personally, piercing Bella's ears are not something I plan on having done any time soon. Bella's ears belong to her, so how do I know she would even want them pierced? And honestly, what is the point of having a 3-month-old with pierced ears?!? I just don't get it. 

Since Bella was born, I've been asked many, many times, "When are you going to get her ears pierced?" I usually respond, "When she asks me to get her ears pierced." Those cute, little ears aren't attached to my body, so what difference does it make to me if they are pierced or not? I made the decision and asked my mother at the age of 7 to get my ears pierced. Together, my mother and I weighed the pros and cons of getting my ears pierced. I was the one responsible for taking care of my ears, rotating the studs and cleaning my ears. Obviously if I needed help, my mother gladly assisted me, but I was responsible for my ears. 

I'm not totally against infants, toddlers and children having their ears pierced. As a woman who has her ears pierced, belly button pierced and a tattoo, I'm not completely opposed to modifications made to the body. I wear earrings every day, I wore a belly button ring until I was about 12-weeks pregnant with Bella and I love my tattoo. But all three of these modifications were decisions made by me. Our pediatrician won't pierce a child's ears unless they verbally request it and have the permission of the parents. Now that's smart!

So for those of you who actually care, here are my pros and cons of ear piercing before the age of 5.

Here is my list of reasons to pierce an infant's ears:
1. She won't remember the pain... Right?
2. Cultural... Certain cultures are pro-piercers, I can appreciate and respect that aspect. 

Here is my list of reasons to not pierce an infant's ears:
1. Those ears aren't mine to pierce... Why inflict unnecessary pain?
2. It's dangerous... What if the earring gets ripped out on a blanket or by a friend?
3. Ears grow...  Those lobes are so little! How symmetrical will they look in 20 years?
4. Hygiene... How does a 1-month-old take care of freshly pierced ears? 
5. It looks tacky... A 1-month-old with gaudy gold studs? Umm, no thank you.

Needless to say, for me, the reasons to not pierce Bella's ears significantly outweigh the reasons to pierce Bella's ears. Maybe I am an anti-piercer, but so be it. If and when the time comes, Bella can ask me to get her ears pierced and together we can make a decision. Until then... Bella's ears shall remain un-pierced. And her belly button shall remained un-pierced and her skin shall remain un-inked... until she's 30! 

Ultimately the decision is up to you, and hopefully, your child... it's just some food for thought. =)

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Just whistle while you work"

I strive to keep a house that is clean and tidy. I am a stay-at-home mother and keeping a clean house is part of my duties. But there is one room in our house that I struggle to keep clean and tidy... and that room is our master bedroom. As a child, I always struggled to keep my bedroom clean. As an adult, I suffer from the same problem. No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to keep our master bedroom clean! It's not that we have a super messy bedroom or anything, it's just that our bedroom becomes a catch all for baskets of folded laundry and everything that needs to be upstairs. Today, while the babysitter was here, I took on the task of cleaning our master bedroom.

I stripped the bed, which is something I do quite often, but I figured we should have clean bed linens if our bedroom was going to be clean. It took two loads of laundry, but we have bed linens that are fresh and clean. I then organized and put away three baskets worth of laundry that had been sitting in our room for quite some time. Most of the laundry belonged to Bella, but some of the laundry belonged to me. I put away the eight pairs of shoes that were laying on our bedroom floor, in their proper place, in my closet. I put away a few odds and ends and my organization of the bedroom was complete. Organizing seems to take the most time so once I was finished organizing, I knew it was smooth sailing... I dusted and polished ALL of the bedroom furniture. And by all, I mean, our king size bed, two chest of drawers, two nightstands, two bookshelves and one dresser.

By the time I was finished, it was time for the babysitter to leave. I couldn't believe it took me nearly 4 hours to clean and organize our master bedroom! And trust me, it was well worth the money! I'm happy to have a neat and clean bedroom and so is Ian. It will be so relaxing to sleep in a clean and organized bedroom tonight. I know for a fact that it is relaxing because I took a quick nap this afternoon and had no problem falling asleep! =)

Ian is super busy at work because he has a deadline looming, which makes for a stressed out husband/daddy. On the bright side, he is working from home this week because he's having connectivity issues with his client laptop at the office. It's nice to have Ian home during the week, but Bella and I aren't used to the extra company during the day. She often calls for "da-da" and seeks his attention throughout the day. I find myself asking him to do little things here and there, forgetting that it's a week day and he is working. Ooops! We'd better get used to it, as he will most likely be working from home for the rest of the week. 

Ian is burning the midnight oil (even though it's only 9pm) and I am exhausted (despite my nap), so I am calling it a night. Goodnight! Tomorrow is another busy day...

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lazy Sunday

I love lazy Sundays, don't you? It's especially nice when I'm able to sleep in and my wonderful and loving husband, Ian, lets me sleep in. Today, I slept in until almost 10:30am this morning and it was wonderful! I woke up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated... a great way to begin the day. 

We went shopping at Kohl's today. I'm usually not a Kohl's shopper, but between Kohl's cash, store credit and two coupons, we went to do a little shopping. I ended up returning two dresses, purchased by Grandma Ruth, which were dry clean only! Dry clean only?!? Are you kidding me?!? My kid is 15-months-old and does not need to have dry clean only clothing. We had $26 in store credit to spend so I went to the children's department and went to work. My live-in accountant computed all the discounts and told me when it was time to stop. I think I did pretty darn well for not being a regular Kohl's shopper.

I ended up buying her two dresses for only $20 (pre-discounts) a piece and are absolutely adorable! I then bought her 4 pairs of shorts with matching shirts for $22 (pre-discounts) a set. I also found a cute Oshkosh B'Gosh jumper and shirt that was a must have for $42 (pre-discounts). But, I did not pay $164! The dresses were 70% off, which made them only $6 a piece! The shorts and shirts were 50% off, which made them only $11 a set. And the Oshkosh B'Gosh jumper and shirt were 50% off, which made them only $21 for the set. Before coupons, my total was $77... but I did not pay $77! I used $10 in Kohl's cash which brought my total down to $67.  I also had a coupon for $10 off from Discover, which brought my total down to $57. I then used a 20% off coupon, which brought my total down to $45.60. I had $26 in store credit, which brought my total down to $19.60 and with tax, I paid $20.97 for 7 outfits for Bella. That's like $2.99 an outfit! Woohoo!

Here is a picture of today's bargains:

Okay, after this weekend, I think I need to join shopaholics anonymous! I actually googled it and it does exist! Don't worry, I'm not a crazy hoarder and I plan to give away, reuse or resell most of Bella's clothes when the time is right. But for right now, the time isn't right and all of the clothes that Bella has outgrown are neatly organized in one of our spare bedrooms. In the meantime, I just can't resist buying cute clothes for my beautiful, darling Bella!

Anywho... I'm off to enjoy the rest of my lazy Sunday with Ian and Bella. It's time for a dip in the pool and yummy tacos for dinner! Enjoy the rest of what's left of the weekend! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella (and Ian's credit card)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Stuff a bag sale

I received an email early last week regarding a "stuff a bag sale" at a local resale/consignment shop. My friend Sara stopped by yesterday to chat and measure a few skirts she was designing. While she was here, I mentioned to her that Once Upon a Child was having their seasonal "stuff a bag sale" on Saturday. She said that she was game and we would arrive early to ensure the best selection.

We arrived at 9:20am and were not the first to arrive. There was a crowd of about 20 people lined up and were eagerly awaiting for the store to open. At 9:30am, on the dot, the doors opened and directions were given. For $15 a plastic bag was given to each participating customer and any article of clothing that had a white tag could be stuffed into a bag. Sara and I had originally planned to share a bag, but the bags were quite small so we each took a bag. I immediately headed for the 18-24 month section and began feverishly browsing through the massive amounts of clothing. While the clothing with white tags were mostly spring and summer pieces, I wanted to stock up on stuff for next year. 

In 18-24 months, I found some Gymboree dresses, Old Navy dresses, a Hartstrings dress, a Lily Pulitzer dress, a Gap dress and a few other items that were decent enough to stuff into my bag. I even managed to find a few things for Bella's friend, Connor, such as a Kelly's Kids shortall, Ralph Lauren button down and a few things from The Children's Place. 

Sara and I cannot wait until the next end of season "stuff a bag sale" so we can stock up on more clothes for our girls. It's fun to have friends and fellow bargain hunters to go shopping with at consignment stores. My usual partner in crime, Stephanie, is out of town so I had to do the next best thing to shopping with her, which was shopping for her. Getting an amazing deal makes shopping worth while and allows me to continue shopping. Hopefully I can keep up the good work and keep Bella's closet full.

Here are a few pictures of my finds:
All 19 pieces of clothing, for only $15!
A few pieces for our friend, Connor.
I just wanted to share my awesome purchase with y'all. I'd better go wash these clothes and the rest of Bella's laundry. I swear, laundry is a never ending chore... launder, put away and repeat! 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Friday, July 22, 2011

10 things I love about Florida

While I haven't lived in Florida my entire life, I have been a Florida resident for nearly 6 years! Can you believe it?!? It seems like only yesterday I was working for the State of Maryland, planning the next chapter of my life in Florida. I paid tribute to my beloved Maryland yesterday, so today I'll pay a tribute to my new home, Flo-rida! Here is my ten favorite things about Florida (minus all the fun pictures)...

1. Winter - Florida winters are absolutely wonderful! It's 70 degrees and sunny.

2. Siesta Key - The sand is as soft as baby powder. It's beautiful!

3. Disney World - One of my favorite things to do with Bella.

4. My pool - I love having a pool in our backyard, especially when it's open year round!

5. Busch Gardens - It's fun for adults and it's fun for children... Bella loves this place.

6. South Tampa - It's where we started our lives together.

7. Traffic - Rush hour traffic is a joke! 

8. Tropicana Field - Air conditioned baseball games... I am officially spoiled. 

9. St. Pete Beach - It's where we've shared a lot of special moments together. 

10. Sunshine - The year round sunshine is an amazing mood booster!

Although I miss Baltimore like crazy, I can't imagine moving back there any time soon. While it would be neat to be close to my family and childhood friends again, our lives our here. We've made some really great friends, most of Ian's family lives here and, like I mentioned before, during winter it's 70 degrees here. With all of these great things here, why not plan a visit?!? We have plenty of room!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 things I love about Maryland!

I was reading my hometown newspaper today The Baltimore Sun (online) and they ran an article about the top 100 things The Baltimore Sun loves about Baltimore. I decided to take a moment to pay homage to my home state and town. Here is my take on 10 things I love about Maryland...

1. Steamed crabs - Maryland steam crabs are unlike any seafood you've ever had. Delicious.

2. Ocean City - The only Atlantic Ocean beach access in MD and it's one of a kind.

3. Western Maryland - The beautiful mountains and my home for 4 years.

4. Snowballs - It's not a snow cone, damn it!

5. Berger cookies - Short bread cookies with chocolate ganache, need I say more?

6. Ravens - Crab cakes and football, that's what Maryland does!

7. Orioles - So they haven't won the World Series since 1983? I'm not a fair weather fan.

8. Utz Potato Chips - The B-E-S-T potato chips in the world!

9. Preakness - The second race in the triple crown and the only time it's cool to be seen at Pimlico.

10. Charm City Cakes - The bakery that designed and baked our wedding cake.

The heat is unbearable in Maryland this week. Yesterday it was 100 degrees and with the heat index, it felt like 120 degrees! I can't imagine what that must have felt like. I've experienced 100+ degree temperatures in Las Vegas, but that was dry heat. In Maryland, the humidity is awful during the summer and rivals the humidity here in Florida. Today it's supposed to be 102 degrees and the heat index will make it feel like it's 120 degrees... again. So to all of my faithful readers in the North East, crank up the a/c and try to stay cool!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bella's Rocking Horse

Last summer, while Grandma Ruth was on vacation, she bought Bella a rocking horse from an antique shop in North Carolina. I will be honest and say that at first sight, I wasn't the least bit excited about the rocking horse and I doubted it's potential. That being said, I have eaten my words and I am beyond excited about this rocking horse!

The rocking horse was made in 1940, which makes it 71-years-old. It has the original label with the manufacturing company and year in which it was manufactured, which will be reapplied once the rocking horse is refinished. Grandma Ruth dropped off the rocking horse about two weeks ago so that it could be stripped. We selected the stain and finish today and I am anticipating the addition of this beautiful rocking horse to our family. The plan is to pass this rocking horse down to each generation and the thought of beginning a new tradition brings me great excitement.

Bella and I met Grandma Ruth in South Tampa at an antique restoration shop this afternoon. We've passed the shop thousands of times, but never noticed it until today. It's a little old shop called Dave A. Nores Antique Restoration and is located just down the street from where we used to live. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it houses beautiful antique furniture. I like unique pieces of furniture, so this place was right up my alley. It made me want to restore and refinish the antique sewing machine I inherited from Ian's Great Aunt Helen. 

The shop should have the rocking horse restored by next week and I definitely will post pictures once it's in our house. Even though it's an antique, it's a children's toy and so Bella will be able to play with it. In fact, Bella can't wait to rock on her new rocking horse! I can't believe Bella will have a rocking horse that is 70 years older than her... that's crazy! 

Okay, that's enough about a damn rocking horse... it's funny how your priorities change once you have kids. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


After 9 long months of physical therapy appointments twice a week, Bella has finally been discharged from PT! We are so happy that Bella no longer needs PT and I am thankful to have my Tuesday and Friday afternoons back. 

We took Bella for a PT consultation in October 2010, when she was only 6-months-old. She was diagnosed by the pediatrician with torticollis and her neck needed to be stretched. Like I mentioned before, she was a large baby and I'm definitely not a large woman, so the torticollis likely developed in utero. It's a relatively common occurrence, but Bella's torticollis was pretty severe. After several months of stretching and exercises, her torticollis improved dramatically. We weren't finished with PT just yet...

Around the age of 9-months-old, Bella was still army crawling and appeared to have no desire to crawl on her hands and knees. I informed the physical therapist of my concern and she agreed that Bella was having some issues with crawling, possibly due to the torticollis. After a few months of working on some gross motor skills, Bella was crawling like a pro. Again, we weren't finished with PT just yet...

When Bella turned 1, she still had yet to take her first step and wasn't cruising yet. She would occasionally pull herself up in her crib, but wasn't consistent with pulling up. I expressed my concerns to the physical therapist and she decided to begin working with Bella on pulling up and walking. Bella hated the exercises but cooperated for the most part. I used to observe Bella during her PT sessions, but she began putting on a show for me and refused to cooperate. Once I left the room, she would work hard and cooperated so much better. And, at the age of 14-months, Bella took her first unassisted steps. But we weren't quite finished with PT...

Today at PT, Bella walked down the long hallway (about 50 feet) from the PT room to the front door. She babbled and giggled the entire way and greeted me with a huge smile. The physical therapist said she didn't see a reason for Bella to remain in PT and that she's made great strides (pun intended). And with that, Bella was officially discharged from PT.

Bella isn't consistently walking on her own yet, but she's improving each and every day. Today for example, she walked around the family room the entire day and walked to Ian when he arrived home from work. Within a few weeks and months, her walking should improve and we'll forget what it was like to have a non-walking child. It was comforting to have the encouragement and support of the physical therapist, pediatrician and neurologist throughout this experience. Now if I could only stop people from commenting and asking questions regarding Bella's walking... oh well! 

Our little trooper worked hard at her last PT session and is worn out. She took a 3 hour nap this afternoon and went to bed this evening without any protest. She is fast asleep and I'm not too far behind her... nighty night y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Monday, July 18, 2011

Girls day in

Our weekly babysitter has family in town, so she took the day off to spend with her family. To be honest, it was nice to have a break from having the babysitter and I will definitely won't feel guilty when she comes next week. I haven't been feeling well, so Bella and I had a girls day in. I'd say we both spent the day in our pajamas, but Bella spent the majority of the day in only her diaper and I spent the majority of the day in my pajamas.

She played very well by herself for most of the morning and I read a few books with her as she brought them to me. This child loves her books! She takes them off her shelf and brings them to us. When we finish a book and try to put it down, Bella picks the book up and asks you to read it again! Some days I read the same book to her 10-15 times! It does get a little monotonous, but I can't refuse reading to my child. We brought a few new and forgotten about toys to entertain her and she was busy for most of the morning. Thankfully she still takes a morning nap, so when 9:30am rolled around, I was more than ready to lay her down for a nap. She napped for nearly 3 hours! Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep but I was able to rest on the couch for a few hours.

After her morning nap, we had lunch and more play time. We stacked blocks and giggled as we watched them fall down. Bella played in her Bumbo seat for about 20 minutes, climbing in and out... in and out. I then came across a Lifetime movie that peaked my interest and so I watched a movie on the couch while Bella played a few feet away from me. Every now and then I'd get off my butt to go play with her, but I'm not kidding when I say the child played very well by herself. She talked to her toys, rocked her stuffed animals in her arms and danced. It's adorable to watch her play pretend with her toys. That little imagination is growing day by day!

Working hard.
Violet in the Bumbo seat.
Bella riding her zebra.
Stacking blocks and cups on the coffee table.
I had a follow up appointment with our primary care physician in the afternoon that turned out to be the longest appointment ever! Maybe it was because I had an over-tired 15-month-old with me or because I didn't feel well, but the appointment seemed to take forever. We waited in the waiting room for about 30 minutes and were finally taken back. We waited an additional 15 minutes to see the ARNP. She went over the ER discharge paperwork with me and explained that she believed the source of the cough to be a viral infection. She said the infection should be clearing up, but the cough could last for weeks! Oy vey! She prescribed a cough medicine for daytime use and one for nighttime use. She also instructed me to use the inhaler 1-2 times a day for the next week. Hopefully these medicines help suppress this nagging cough and I can shake this illness once and for all. By the way, if you're looking for a a great primary care physician in the Riverview/Brandon area, I highly recommend Dr. Mickel Anglin of Anglin Medical Center. His speciality is family and sports medicine and his bedside manner is second to none.

Even though Bella was bored and over-tired, she was a trooper! I wouldn't say that she was an absolute angel, but she did so well. She was talking to people in the waiting room and toddling around for them. She watched as I made my pulse, BP and temperature taken. She appeared relieved when all the poking and prodding didn't involve her. I was a little anxious to bring her with me, but it turned out to be okay. After about an hour of being at the doctor's office, we were on our way home for Bella's afternoon nap. I tried my best to keep her awake in the car and my efforts paid off because she took a 2.5 hour nap! I even had to wake her up because it was getting so late.

I'm going to take some of my nighttime cough medicine and try to get to bed early. Hopefully I'll feel better in the morning after a good night's sleep. Goodnight!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Do you zulily?!?

About 9 months ago, I was introduced by my dear friend, Jessica S. to It's a super cute website that offers daily, private sales to moms. They've had amazing sales on everything from children's clothing, maternity clothing, nursing bras and even the coveted Ergo baby carrier. The company sends out daily emails and has a ton of listings every day. I recently made my third purchase from zulily and I think it's one of my best purchases yet. Thanks to Jessica S., I am now a zulily junkie and browse the various sales each and every day. 

For Easter, I ordered Bella an adorable Silly Goose pink and white smocked Easter bubble. It was so cute and had adorable little Easter bunny smocking. She looked beautiful and the outfit and I paid about half price for the outfit. I didn't get a great deal on this outfit, but I ordered it last minute and it was holiday specific. The outfit retails for $64 and I paid $34.99 for it. 

Last month I order Bella a Rosalina yellow and blue smocked two-piece set with seahorse smocking. I thought it would be festive for her to wear it to the aquarium or Sea World. I paid a little more than I would like to admit for the outfit, but it was really cute. The outfit retails for $68, but I only paid $34.99. 

A few days later, I saw bright and colorful patterns from Claire & Charlie. I bought Bella a pink and white seersucker two-piece outfit with pink polkadot trim. I'll probably have my friend Sara embroider Bella's initials or name on it for me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I also bought Bella a paisley print Claire & Charlie bubble. The two-piece outfit retails for $66 and the bubble retails for $78, but I only paid $68.98 for both outfits! 

I know you're thinking that I paid way too much for clothes for a 15-month-old, who may only wear each outfit once or twice, but I couldn't resist! I love dressing Bella in beautiful clothes and she is worth every penny. I rarely buy clothes for myself any more, so I enjoy splurging on adorable outfits for my darling daughter. Plus, depending upon if and when we have another child, I plan on either reusing or consigning Bella's clothes (depending upon the gender). The best part about zulily is that you can receive $15 for each person you refer once they make a purchase from zulily. Check out the zulily website and use my link if you are new and want to make a purchase: my zulily link. New sales are listed daily and new brands are offered from time to time. 

Anyway, we've had a relaxing day at home and we've been able to catch up on work and housework. Now we're off to meet Grandma Ruth for dinner in West Chase. Enjoy the rest of the day y'all!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Friday, July 15, 2011

A long and eventful day

Like I mentioned yesterday, I developed a cough that persisted throughout much of the afternoon. I thought I had a tickle in my throat because or was irritating it. I didn't feel sick, I just had a nagging, dry cough. When I woke up today, I was still coughing but I couldn't catch my breath. 

Bella and I were playing in the family room this morning and every time I coughed, it felt like my lungs were on fire and I couldn't get enough air. It really hurt to breathe. I called Ian and asked if Grandma Ruth could come over so I could go to the doctor. Grandma Ruth was busy, so Ian said he'd come home because he didn't want me to drive myself to the doctor. He even called the doctor for me, who suggested we go immediately to the ER because I was having difficulty breathing. This F-R-E-A-K-E-D me out! I started crying, which made it more difficult for me to breathe and so I called my friend, Sara, who came running down to our house. I handed her Bella and went to sit down in the family room. I was worried that I'd pass out or something and Bella would be all by herself. Luckily, a few minutes after Sara got there, I was able to calm myself down and try to get my breathing under control. 

Ian arrived home a few minutes later and we went to the ER at Brandon Hospital. I was taken back immediately and then I began getting upset again. I don't like hospitals and I especially don't like being in control of my own body. Every time I coughed, I was in pain and I had difficulty catching my breath. After being seen by a nurse and a physician's assistant, a battery of tests were ordered and I was given an IV. The PA ordered something to open up my airway and for the pain. Within a few minutes of receiving the medications, I was feeling better. It didn't hurt to breathe, I wasn't struggling to catch my breath and I felt in control again. Since I was having chest pains, the PA ordered a blood test and chest x-ray to rule out any blood clots. You see, my sister has Factor II/prothrombin mutation which causes her blood to clot more than normal. It's genetic, so when the PA asked if any immediate family members had any clotting disorders, I had to answer yes. Luckily the test came back negative and my chest x-ray came back normal. The PA diagnosed me with an upper respiratory infection and asthma. 

I felt stupid going to the ER for an upper respiratory infection, but I have never experienced trouble breathing. Our primary care physician recommended we go to the ER, so that's exactly what we did. I still need to follow up with our PCP on Monday and I will discuss the asthma diagnosis. I've had allergies my entire life, but I've never had asthma. Both of my parents have asthma, so it could be a  possibility. The inhaler the PA prescribed works wonders and it really opens up my airways. Hopefully it's just illness induced asthma and not chronic asthma... keep your fingers crossed! The PA also prescribed a pain reliever and antibiotics. I feel much better since taking the medications and a nap. Hopefully I'll be back to normal within a day or two. 

I'd better get some more rest. It's the weekend and we have no formal plans for the weekend. I see a lot of rest and relaxation in our future. Both Ian and I deserve it. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

P.S. A huge thank you to Sara and Ian. She stopped what she was doing, ran down in her pajamas and was ready to drive me (and three kids) to the ER. Thank you so much Sara! Ian left work early and spent the entire day ensuring I was feeling better. Thank you so much Ian!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Let there be light!

We had to cancel on our weekly play date today because we had an electrician come to the house to install our new chandeliers installed. We recently picked out new chandeliers for our foyer and dining room. The fixtures that came with the house were pretty plain and basic. Grandma Ruth found a chandelier at Home Depot that she thought we might like and it turns out she was right, because both Ian and I liked it. Now came the issue of who was going to change out the fixture in the foyer because the ceiling in the foyer is 20 feet. Needless to say the new chandeliers sat in the garage for a few weeks while we got a game plan together.

While Grandma Ruth was here on Tuesday, she called around to various electricians and finally received a reasonable quote. Some places were quoting her $300-500! But Brandon Electric gave her a quote of $105-135, which was much more reasonable. The electric work was all there, we just needed someone to switch out the fixture in the foyer. Grandpa Don was supposed to switch out the fixture in the dining room because the ceiling are only 8 feet. Grandma Ruth decided that Brandon Electric would be the best company to hire and so I made an appointment for today between 1pm-3pm.

Fortunately, the guys from Brandon Electric showed up early and were out of here well before Bella's nap time. The head electrician actually used to be a superintendent for M/I Homes and helped build our house, so he was quite familiar with our house. If anyone ever needs an electrician in the Brandon/Riverview area, I would definitely recommend Brandon Electric. Their prices are reasonable and their electricians are knowledgable and friendly. Here are a few pictures of our new chandeliers:

New chandelier in the foyer
Another angle of the new chandelier. 
New chandelier in the dining room.
Another angle of the new chandelier.
It's funny how something so simply can really spruce up a room. We've replaced all but 2 lighting fixtures in our house since moving in 3.5 years ago. Had we actually designed the house and picked out the fixtures, we wouldn't be doing these little projects, but it probably saved us a ton of money in the long run. So what do y'all think?!? 

Bella and I are off to dinner with Grandma Ruth. We were supposed to stay over night in a hotel room she had booked, but I started coughing this afternoon and can't seem to shake it. I would hate to be coughing all night long and keeping Grandma Ruth and Bella awake. Everyone will sleep much better if Bella and I just stay home. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Change of plans

Last week our play group planned a trip to the aquarium, so when we woke up this morning we were planning on meeting our friends at the aquarium. Bella woke up at 7am and so her morning nap would occur around 10am, however we were meeting our friends at 11:30am, so I put her down at 9:30am. She fought her nap for about 15 minutes and finally fell asleep. I was planning on waking her up by 10:45am so that we could make it by 11:30am. Well apparently we weren't the only family experiencing a crazy morning, so our plans fell through. I figured Bella would take her usual 2-hour nap, but she had other plans and was awake by 10:30am. We were without plans for the day, so I decided we would do a little retail therapy.

Like I mentioned the other day, Gymboree was having their "gymbucks" redemption sale, so we headed to the mall. They recently released new collections that were absolutely adorable! There was also a bunch of stuff on sale from older collections which was super cute. Before sales and coupons, all of this would have cost me $167.45! I would be crazy to pay retail! I only paid $62.78, redeemed $50 worth of "gymbucks" and here is what I got:

Gymboree loot
Bella and I had lunch at the mall and walked around for a bit and then decided to head to Ellenton. I wanted to check out the stride rite outlet after our shoe fiasco yesterday. Ellenton is only about 30 miles from our house so it's not too bad of a drive. I ended up getting Bella a pair of shoes for $32.99, which was about $10 cheaper than the regular stride rite store. They had some better deals, but had limited sizes. It was almost impossible to find size 4.5 shoes that I actually liked! Luckily I found a cute pair of shoes and decided to buy them since they were on sale. We also hit up the Gymboree outlet, but I couldn't justify spending more money at Gymboree today. We left Ellenton and headed home for Bella's afternoon nap. Unfortunately she fell asleep for about 10 minutes on the way home. She is currently in her crib, talking to herself... I hope she talks herself to sleep!

We have dinner plans tonight with our friend Ryan and his parents, who are in town visiting for the week. We usually try to get together with Ryan's parents when they're in town because they are really great people. And we're going to one of my favorite restaurants, Bella's, in South Tampa. I can't wait to have some yummy Italian food! 

Since Bella is supposed to be napping, I think I'm going to try to get a nap in, too. While I was a little disappointed our plans changed, today turned out to be a great mommy/daughter day with Bella. I love days like today!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The joys of womanhood...

Last night was a rough night... I woke up at 3am with the worst cramps! I'm talking about cramps that rival contractions during labor. Okay, perhaps I'm being a little dramatic, but the cramps were pretty bad. So bad that I eventually threw up. I dug out the heating pad and laid with the heating pad until I finally fell asleep around 6am. Ahh, the joys of womanhood!

I didn't know how I would get through the day being so sleep deprived. Fortunately Grandma Ruth was willing to lend a helping hand and came over to watch Bella while I took a long (and much needed) nap. After my nap I was feeling a lot better, thanks to the heating pad, prescription strength ibuprofen and sleep. Stephanie and Connor stopped by to pick something up from our house and Grandma Ruth invited everyone to go to lunch. So we went to lunch at the mall so we could return a pair of shoes. Lunch at Ruby Tuesday was chaotic, but enjoyable because Stephanie and I are on the same page with our kids and parenting. We're not going to leave a restaurant because our kids are acting like maniacs, we just give sympathetic smiles and encourage each other to be patient. The kids had fun sharing snacks and passing crayons back and forth, so it was well worth it. 

stride rite... don't even get me started! I wish there was another reputable kids shoe store but unfortunately stride rite is pretty much it. I know we could order shoes online, but I'd rather be in a store so Bella can try the shoe on. I've never had a great experience at a stride rite store because it always seems to be crowded and hectic. Today's experience was no different and we ended up walking out without returning the shoes and empty handed. Luckily, Grandma Ruth called the stride rite at Citrus Park Mall and they have the shoes we want in the size we need. Bella has extremely tiny feet and so she is limited in which styles are available. She wears a size 4.5 shoe, which is pretty much average shoe size for a 6-9-month-old. But I do love those tiny feet! 

Oh, and why the hell does a children's shoe store only have ONE sales associate working?!? This chick was out numbered and completely overwhelmed. She will probably never have children after working at stride rite. 

Well, I've got a date with a heating pad and some ibuprofen. Such an exciting evening! =)

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Monday, July 11, 2011

Busy Day

It's amazing how much I can accomplish when Bella is with the babysitter! This morning I went to the gym, ran errands, got a pedicure and did multiple loads of laundry while the babysitter was watching Bella. Thank goodness we have a regular babysitter because otherwise I wouldn't be able to accomplish so many things, so quickly. And Grandma Ruth is always ready, willing and able to watch Bella when we need her. 

I hadn't been to the gym in several months and I've been meaning to get back into a routine, it just took a little longer than expected. Our gym is a mecca for moms and kids during the summer because it has multiple pools and a mini splash park. The parking lot is full but once I went inside, the gym wasn't nearly as crowded as I had originally thought. I did an hour and a half worth of cardio and it felt good. Being physically active is something I've always enjoyed, it's just a lot more difficult to get to the gym when you have a toddler who naps twice a day. My goal is to get to the gym 2-3 times a week before Bella's morning nap. She does well in the childcare center at the gym and it gives me peace of mind knowing that she is having fun while I'm working out. 

I stopped home briefly after the gym to shower and said hi to Bella. I treated myself to a pedicure and even splurged on a shellac nail polish. The shellac nail polish is different than typical nail polish in that it dries instantly when placed under a UV light and lasts up to 14-days without smudging or chipping. The nail technician said since I was getting a pedicure, the shellac nail polish should last 4 weeks without chipping. Like I mentioned before, it's a little more expensive than a regular pedicure, but if it lasts 4 weeks and looks as good as when I walk out of the nail salon, then it's worth the extra money to me. I'll let y'all know how long the shellac nail polish lasts and if I recommend getting it done or not. 

I ran errands and returned home to finish up a few loads of laundry. I really need to devise a better system of doing laundry. Currently I wait about 2-3 weeks to wash all of my clothes and so I have 3-4 loads of just my own laundry. Add another 2-3 loads for Bella and another 1-2 loads for household items and I'm stuck inside the laundry all day! Ian typically washes his own clothes (yes, he does his own laundry) and so that lightens my loads of laundry a little bit. I did 6 loads of laundry today which means I'll have 6 loads worth of clothes to either hang up or fold and put away in drawers. Geez, laundry really is a never ending chore!!!

It's been a long and productive day and I'm exhausted! I also haven't been feeling the best and so I'm hoping to get into bed early tonight. Hopefully I'll wake up feeling better tomorrow. So it's off to bed for me with a heating pad and some Advil. Nighty-night!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Down on the farm

My friend Stephanie called me today and invited us to go with her to a farm located in Lithia. Bella was with Grandma Ruth and Ian, so I accompanied Stephanie and Connor to the farm. She had heard there were animals to see and grapes to pick. I figured it'd be fun and we hit the road in the early afternoon. 

It was H-O-T!!! THe farm is located in Lithia, which is pretty much landlocked and there was not a breeze to be had. The moment we got out of the car we were sweating bullets. It was a relatively small farm and the gentleman who owned the farm dabbled in many different fruits, vegetables, herbs and animals. We were quickly greeted by two dogs and a flock of chickens. There were chickens, turkeys and ducks to feed and a pony to pet. Connor seemed to enjoy himself and it will be fun to go back with Bella one day.

Figuring out the various seasons in Florida can be tricky. Tomatoes and strawberries are no longer in season and it's not quite time for citrus fruit, so it was slim pickings (literally) in terms of fruits and vegetables. Except for grapes... but Stephanie and I quickly realized that we've been spoiled by seedless grapes from the grocery store and these grapes were not seedless. The grapes were small because the farm doesn't use pesticides or fertilizer, and taking the seeds of of the small grapes would leave nothing left for the kids to eat. We snipped a few bunches of grapes for the adults to enjoy. We also snipped parsley, rosemary, dill, basil and chives. The herbs smelled so good and were pretty much the highlight of our trip. We also picked some squash and a few onions. 

The farm charges $1 per pound and after weighing my loot, I only paid $2 for an onion, squash, a bunch of grapes and all the fresh herbs. Can't beat that! We also stopped by a produce stand on the way home and picked up a few locally grown things, like corn and cantaloupe. Yum!

Stephanie and I plan on finding more local farms so we can provide fresh fruits, vegetables and maybe even milk and eggs for our families. It's fun teaching the kids where their food comes from and it's nice to provide healthy food options from local growers. Plus it's fun to take the kids to new places and watch them explore new things. Bella will definitely be joining us on future trips to the farm. 

Well, I've got homemade mashed potatoes to make (with fresh chives) and fresh corn to steam. Sunday family dinner... what a wonderful way to end a great weekend. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Beach Baby

We packed up the car and headed to Treasure Island today for the Deloitte summer party. Neither Ian nor I had been to Treasure Island in awhile so it was nice to have a change of beach scenery. The best part of the drive was passing Crabby Bills, the Don Cesar Hotel and Spinners Restaurant on St. Pete Beach and taking a quick walk down memory lane. 

While interviewing for jobs in St. Petersburg in 2005, I stayed on St. Pete Beach for about a week. Ian and I had just started dating and we went on a date to Crabby Bills on St. Pete Beach. For those of you familiar with Crabby Bills, it's a no frills seafood restaurant throughout the Tampa Bay area. Ian thought I might enjoy some seafood to keep me from getting homesick, but the less than stellar seafood made me miss Maryland and it's delicious seafood even more. It was a sweet gesture and we had fun on our date.

In early December 2007, Ian proposed to me at Maritana Grille at the Don Cesar Hotel. While it wasn't his first choice of places to propose to me, he made the proposal very special for me. Obviously I said yes and we were married in August 2008. We even contemplated getting married on St. Pete Beach but decided to get married in Maryland.

While celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary in August 2009, I surprised Ian with some of the most exciting news of our lives at the Spinners Restaurant on St. Pete Beach. It's a really cool restaurant that overlooks the beach and gives you a 360-degree view of the Tampa Bay area as it slowly revolves. That night I told Ian that I was pregnant and he was going to be a dad! And in April 2010, we welcomed Isabella Eve Lasher into our lives! 

St. Pete Beach will always hold a special place in our hearts and we have some really fond memories of being there. It was fun to take a trip down memory lane, with all three of us on the journey. 

We arrived to the Deloitte party just before 11am and the weather was questionable from the get-go. Luckily the event was being held at the local Lions' Club so we had indoor shelter and air conditioning. We met up with Ian's friend/co-worker Greg and his daughter, Jessica, who are really great people. Greg actually has two daughters who LOVE watching after Bella. Jessica played with Bella in the water and Bella LOVED the water. She crawled out, got smacked in the face by a wave and continued crawling. Bella was fearless and it made me very nervous. Jessica held her in the water and Bella was giggling and shrieking the entire time. Bella had a blast and was worn out just in time for lunch. We ate lunch and left shortly after to head to Grandma Ruth's. Bella slept soundly on the way to Grandma Ruth's and even took an additional 90-minute nap at Grandma Ruth's. The beach really wore her out! We need to get to the beach more often.

Today was a fun day and I'm so glad that Bella enjoyed herself. She is such a fearless child, which is a great thing but causes me a great deal of worry. I'm so glad she is so fun-loving and independent but I worry about her taking a risk and getting hurt. Ah, such is life. 

We are Bella-less and I've been so tired recently, so I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow! Sleeping in is a guilty pleasure of mine so when Bella is away, I take full advantage of sleeping in. 

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Love Groupon!

It's been a long day of shopping so this post is going to be quick. Bella and I ventured out in the treacherous weather conditions to meet Grandma Ruth at Westshore Mall for some lunch and shopping. I had a Groupon at Old Navy to use before July 20th, so when Grandma Ruth suggested getting together, I suggested getting together at Westshore Mall.

About a month ago, I paid $10 to get a $20 Groupon to use at Old Navy. I know it's basically like a 50% off coupon, but it's still saving money, which is an awesome thing. I paid $10 for the Groupon and $3.48 in overage, so here is what I bought for $13.48:
Two t-shirts, 1 onesie, 1 skirt and 1 romper... $13.48!
I should have paid $39.59 for all of these clothes, but with my Groupon, I only paid $13.48. Gotta love Groupon! I especially love Groupon because during a triple referral period, I received two more referrals so I now have a total of $80 to spend on Groupon! I'm patiently waiting for either a Keratin treatment or house cleaning service to come along and I'm going to treat myself. 

Well, it's been a long day so I'd better hit the hay. We have a busy day planned for tomorrow. Goodnight.

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella

Thursday, July 7, 2011

MNO... Mom's Night Out!

Last night I went to dinner with a group of ladies who I've been spending a lot of time with since about October of last year. Here's a bit of background on how our mini-playgroup formed. After a lot of unnecessary drama in the large playgroup we had all been a part of, we decided to take matters into our own hands and form a small playgroup. Our kids were all born within a few months of each other and we live in close proximity to one another. We all invited and attended each baby's 1st birthday party and have been attending weekly play dates since October. It's been a lot of fun getting to know each other. 

We try to have a MNO, or a mom's night out at least once a month. We usually go to dinner, have a few drinks and chat for awhile. We've tried new restaurants that we normally wouldn't take our kids and it's been great not having to order an entree to share or feeding the kids before we feed ourselves. Sometimes at play dates, we're so consumed by the kids that we don't always have time to finish a conversation. MNO allows us to have hours of uninterrupted adult conversation. It's awesome!

We decided to try a pizza and martini bar called "Joia Fabulous Pizza and Martinis" in Riverview. As the name states, both the pizza and martinis were fabulous. We took our time to order, sipped yummy martinis and relaxed with good conversation. And although we love them dearly, it was a well deserved break from our husbands and kids. I ordered a pomegranate martini and a raspberry Bellini, along with a Margherita pizza and everything was delicious. I even had leftover pizza to bring home to share with Ian.

It was a fun evening and I was so glad to be out with the girls. We all have very busy travel schedules this summer, so it was nice to get together before everyone leaves for vacations. We have a trip to Baltimore planned, along with frequent trips to Orlando and the beach. Living in Florida, especially the Tampa Bay area is great because we're close to the beach, Orlando and we have a ton of things to see and do in the area. We have Busch Gardens and Sea World passes, as well as Disney passes and passes to Lowry Park Zoo. It's going to be a great summer!

Well, Ian is working from home today and Bella has a play date at Camden's late this morning. It's my third Thursday of not having a Thursday babysitter and I missed having the babysitter come on Monday because it was a holiday. I'm looking forward to getting back into our normal weekly routine. Grandma Ruth has been watching Bella here and there, so I guess that makes up for not having a babysitter twice a week. Anyway... Bella is napping and I need to hop in the shower so we can be ready to leave when she wakes up. Have a great day everyone!

Love always,
Ian, Kim & Bella