At the beach

One component of The Miller Mix is currently sitting in an oceanfront suite in Wrightsville Beach. Yay! Unfortunately the rest of the Mix is still in Sanford.

If you see my sister out and about with my kids tomorrow, don't judge her. She has to beat them to keep them in line. She just has to. ;)

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Sick Little Javi

Does he look sick to you?

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Another day

I'm doing better today so far, but I won't see the kids tonight, so MY day will be different from theirs. So I'll give you our MORNING IN PHOTOS!

Bella's ready to hit the road. Daycare and "the kids" await!

I tried to get a photo w/ her but she was NOT having it. We both look funny.

Bella heading in to daycare as Ms. Independent.

Finally some breakfast. The whole grain English muffin was lovingly smeared with almond butter and honey (which is straight from a local honeybee farm).

I hope your morning was as exciting!

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A day in the life

Good morning, Bella.

My Javibear is "sick" but NOT tired.

Ready for daycare ... minus socks & shoes.

The gist of my day (notice the 8 programs running at once - I'm a busy girl!):

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Buttering me up

My son must want something. Tonight we were playing Wii Fit and he wanted to "help" me get the top score on Ski Jump.

So as I'm squatting down and moving my dot into the blue circle, he runs up behind me and says "I'll hold you up Mama!" (because obviously my balance is not what it should be). I almost fell straight over with laughter - he was so serious and his arms were stretched so far!

Then I was playing Tennis against Billy and Javi really wanted me to win. I volleyed a fast ball and Javi said "Oh, Mama. That was a fantastic hit!"

What a funny little kid!

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Javi and Bella experienced their first big snow today! I think there was snow once when Javi was a wee babe, but this was his first time really getting out there and playing in it.

When Javi saw the snow, he wasted no time throwing on some clothes and heading out. Of course, after 15 minutes he was crying to come back inside and begging for hot cocoa. Like I just keep cocoa in stock. :)

Bella screamed and cried all morning to go outside, but the snow was still falling as late as noon, so I put her down for a nap. Then it was on. Billy tried to help Javi make a snow man, but they couldn't get the snow to hold. It was light, fluffy and soft ... which made Bella want to roll around in it.

Of course I let them make snow angels. Bella freaked out when the snow touched the back of her neck, but it was totally worth it. She also learned a new word: Snow! Here she is being too cute for words:

It will all be gone by this time tomorrow, but we've enjoyed it while it was here. I hope this is our last snow of 2009!

Of course there are tons more photos and videos on Flickr and YouTube - which you can see if you click around in the sidebar! :)

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Monkey Song

For the past few days, Billy and Bella have been little sick invalids. We've had lots of whining, lots of tantrums, and lots of poo ... and then add in how Bella's been behaving...! Just kidding. :) After a blowout this weekend that involved two carpet cleaners and a now-trashed glider, Bella is feeling much better.

On our way to daycare today, she yelled "OOOOH" and "AAAAAH" until I finally figured out she wanted to listen to the Wiggles' Monkey Song. Cheese and crackers, does that child love the monkey song. She raises her arms, drops them down, claps and climbs when the song instructs her to do so. And, the cuteness level reaches maximum level when the song is over and she says "moh? pweesss?" How can you say no to that?

Unfortuantely, we had just gotten to the middle of the third repeat when I pulled into daycare and turned the car off. Ms. Bella May had a full on tantrum!!! She thrashed and screamed and kicked while yelling OOOOOOH AAAAAAAAH as loud as she could. Who is that child?

The tantrum subsided when we got into the school, but she still wasn't happy with me. It took lots of love from her fellow classmates and a powdered donut to loosen her up and make her smile again. She even blew me a kiss when I left, leading me to believe she'd cancelled the jihad on my head.

Note to self: Just play the stupid song once and move on. Or let her finish the song. But in the name of all that is holy, do NOT give her a little and then take it away. It's not worth it!!!

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Animal Baby

We've been waiting for Bella's vocabulary to explode for a good year now. She was a very vocal infant, so we assumed she'd grasp language early.

Not so much. However, in the past week or so, she has begun identifying animals and their sounds (thank you Little People animal farm!) and using more two-word phrases, as well as picking up more words in general.

We're proud of her ... and, as you can tell, think she is hilarious!

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Daycare drama queen

My little Bella is loving her new daycare, but she definitely isn't as well rested as she used to be. We're four days in and I know exactly what to expect tonight.

She'll be sweet and happy when she gets home, though she may be dirty. If it's warm, I'll strip her shirt.

Then something small will go wrong and she'll pout.

If that doesn't get her what she wants, she'll fall apart.

Then something will distract her attention and she'll be my sunshine girl again.

This roller coaster will play out all night until she's finally in bed. We've moved her bedtime up an hour and that seems to be helping. Hopefully as she gets more into the new routine, she'll take a good nap and not be so tired in the evenings.

One can hope, right?

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Sausage & White Bean soup

I make this soup about once per week and it lasts a few meals. You could even divide it into containers and freeze it for a week's worth of lunches.

Lean turkey sausage (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 15-oz can white beans (rinsed and drained)
4-5 medium-sized red potatoes (quartered, then sliced)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels
1 box low-sodium, fat free chicken broth (or broth from bouillion cubes)
1 cup water
2-3 leaves of kale (torn into bite sized pieces)

1. Brown your sausage in the bottom of a soup pot. You may need to add a little olive oil depending on how lean your sausage is. I usually use turkey so I have to add a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Give your sausage 3-4 minutes in the pot - this will help it brown up and give it more texture in your soup.

2. While your sausage is browning, empty your beans into a strainer and rinse them well. When you're ready, add them to the sausage.

3. Add your broth, water, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn. Bring everything to slow boil until the potatoes are soft.

4. Add the kale pieces and let them boil with the soup for a few minutes.

All total, from raw ingredients to finished product, this meal takes about 30 minutes. When I'm serving it with cornbread, I try to put the cornbread in about 10 minutes into the process so everything will be ready at once.

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I like this one-minute writer prompt because it brings up a big issue in my home.

If I had to lose one of my five senses, I'd want to lose my sense of smell. My sense of smell is so acute that the slightest scents can send me into a three-day migraine. I try to explain that to my husband but he insists on dousing himself in cologne. Okay, so he says he light spritzes but it smells like he rolled around in a bathtub full of fragrance and alcohol.

I also don't allow him to burn scented candles or those scented plug-ins. When I have my way, our home smells like absolutely nothing. I like for my car to carry no scent, either. If you want to smell a rain forest, buy a ticket to Brazil!

And, just last night, Billy was on the couch eating chips and salsa and I could smell them ... and they smelled GOOD. I couldn't believe he was sitting there eating (it was nearly 11 pm) one of my favorite snacks. He couldn't believe I could actually smell his mini-meal. But I could - strongly.

So, of all the senses, that sense of smell is the one that causes the most trouble in my life. I'd be okay if I had to give it up.

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Letter to Bella, month twenty

Dear Bella,

The holidays passed in a blur, but you did much better than I could expect from a toddler. No matter how your schedule changed or how much running around we did, you were able to go with the flow. This is a huge signal to me that you are officially a big girl and the baby days are behind us.

PhotobucketBut I have an even bigger sign: you're using the potty ... and not in your diaper! I don't think I can adequately convey the kind of the type of celebration that goes on in the bathroom when you tinkle - which has happened three times, the last two on purpose. However, you began making toots on the potty and the week of Christmas - you made a poo! You got a big piece of chocolate for that one and you were so proud of yourself.

I can tell that you know what to do on there on now because you try very hard to make some business so the candy and chocolate will flow. I should point out that your real favorite activity in there is flushing. You lose all focus when it's flushing time - and we have to scrape the little chocolate fingerprints off the metal.

Even more fun than making business in the potty? Gymnastics! You started the "Me & My Folks" gymastics class through Parks & Rec at the beginning of this month and immediately fell in love. From the moment we walk into the building, you want your coat and shoes off and you spend the full session running. Running from one station to the next, from the front of the cavernous room to the back, and from one child to another.

Your mobility and agility are pretty amazing. You aren't content just to jump on the trampoline or scramble through padded tubes. No, not you. You love to swing on the bars and the rings, walk the balance beam, climb the makeshift ladder (which is as tall as I am), and tumble down the huge padded ramps. Your friend Cera also attends the class, and the two of you show everyone else who's boss. The last day before holiday intercession, I asked the coaches to play music and that's when you started showing off - dancing, singing, and tumbling to your heart's content.

Everywhere we go, you manage to steal the spotlight. Yet, that's not often a good thing. For Javi's birthday, we had a party for him and his friends at McDonalds. All 12 of those little boys couldn't manage to worry the playplace staff the way you did. You climbed, ran, hid, and jumped your way into a heartache for the woman keeping the room in order during the party. I think I had to tell her 1800 times to just not worry about you, that we had you under control, but she didn't listen. I think when we left, she breathed a very deep sigh of relief.

But that's your personality. You go at the world full force with all the intensity your tiny body can muster. And you are pretty tiny. At your well-baby visit, you weighed a whopping 23 pounds and stood 31 inches tall. That puts you at 50th percentile for height and 25th percentile for weight - which is not so bad, but is a slight drop from your last visit where you were 50-50. I think you hit a growth spurt that translated to an inch of height but didn't come with an appetite increase. All the holiday sweets and heavy foods will surely bring you back up to average by the time of your next appointment.

Speaking of Christmas. We had four of them: Christmas Eve at Grandpa's, Christmas morning at home, Christmas day with Grandma, and Christmas night with Nana & Poppie. To our surprise, you had a blast at each and everyone, though you never really showed much interest in opening gifts. You are definitely a mini-Billy because unwrapping has always been my favorite part of gift giving. But for you guys? You want what's inside. This year, your favorite gifts were: the Mickey Mouse rocker from Daddy, the Little People animal farm from me, the storyteller bear from Grandma, and your megablocks from Granny Gwen (the babysitter).

I fight the urge to hide those megablocks from you. They, along with the rocker and your Little People animals, are always in the middle of the floor. And you won't leave them in the bag. No, they must be scattered over every surface. When we zip them up into the bag, you hook the strap onto your arm and drag it around the room while whining and whimpering. Yesterday you drug that bag all the way up the stairs and into your bedroom and then had a meltdown when I wouldn't let you dump them out. However, when they are out, you will play with them for hours, so I can't really complain.

While I'm happy that Christmas is over, I can't help but smile when I think about how much you loved the sounds, smells, and sights of the season. I thought were going to strip the Christmas tree but then I realized that you only messed with it because you wanted the lights on - all the time. If you were in the room, then those lights had to be on - including the star. If the star wasn't on, you'd point up at it and yell "gar!" until we followed "the rules."

While it's nice to have our lives back to normal, I will treasure the memories from this holiday season: your first photo with Santa, your first time unwrapping your own gifts, and, most importantly, the first time our family has seen its traditions come effortlessly and without any forcing. This is how we do things, and you fell right into step. You are our perfect fit.

Love, Mama

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Mama's little helper

For a few month, Javi has been obsessed with helping me cook. When made homemade chicken soup in November and he told me he needed a Kiss the Cook apron so that a) he'd have an apron and b) I'd have to kiss the cook. Yes, he's an overly affectionate mama's boy.

I ordered one for Christmas but it didn't even ship until Dec. 24 (which is why I'm not linking the site - who takes 2 weeks to ship?). However, the joy it brought was worth the wait. Here's my boy in his new garb:

He is so proud of himself. Last night, after a long day of grocery shopping, I spent an hour cooking dinner, chopping vegetables, and getting prepared for a week of healthy eating. My son ran for his apron and chef's hat. I put him charge of making the corn. He is a great little helper!

Tonight we're making sausage and white bean soup. I'll report back on how it goes.

You want to smooch him, don't you? Go ahead and admit it!

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So. I'm behind on everything - birthday photos, christmas photos (from all four events), new year's photos, etc. But don't worry - my behind-edness extends further than ye old blog. I'm also stuff lots of work into the now.

What I need is a really good planning/organizing system that helps me a) remember everything I need to do and b) feel motivated to actually look at said system and c) actually record information into said system.

Any suggestions?

Ideally, I want something cheap or easily DIY. I want something with lots of pockets so I don't have papers strowed everywhere, so I was thinking a binder of sometype - but nothing too big or bulky.

Yes, I know. I'm not very demanding at all. :)

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