Monday, January 31, 2011

Casseroles I Mean "Bakes"

I have always been somewhat opposed to casseroles...well REALLY opposed. I don't like how everything is smooshed together and how slimey and gooey they usually are and how they stick to the pyrex pan and become a pain and the butt to clean even after a few soaks. I also didn't like cheese for a long time growing up and most casseroles have them as well, another negative in my book.

In the interest of preparing meals ahead of time to make my dinner time routine as easy as possible, I bought a casseroles magazing that had TONS of "one pan recipes" in it. Andy picked out some that looked tempting and we tried a few. I am still not super SOLD on these mushy dishes but I did find one that was ok - for a casserole.

I have never been one for following a recipe to the "T" so here is the recipe with my little twists...before I list ingredients, one of the things I will say is that Sprouts, one of my favorite grocery stores, had Turkey Breasts like same as chicken but it was turkey, and I bought 2 of them - totaling about 1 - 2 lbs. It will also be a pretty good way to use all that leftover Thanksgiving Turkey! Lastly, this is called a "Turkey-Wild Rice 'BAKE'"...not a casserole...So that said, here is the recipe.


- 1-2 lb. turkey breast

- 1 6-oz. pkg. long grain and wild rice mix (remove the seasoning and discard...only use the rice...which I did though I might try it with the seasoning next time...why not, seasoning is always good in my book!)

- 1 tbs. butter (do not cook with is too short and it is too full of chemicals)

- 1 large onion chopped

- 3 cloves garlic

- 1 10.75 oz. can cream of chicken soup

- 1 c. milk

- 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil (I messed up and ended up doing 1/2 tbs. which seemed about the same...)

- 2 c. shredded swiss cheese

- 3 c. chopped cooked turkey breast

- 1 pkg fresh mushrooms (either alread sliced or not...) (recipe calls for jarred...yuck)

- 1/2 c. parmesan cheese

- 1/3 c. sliced almonds

- poultry seasoning

- garlic salt

- black pepper

- bottle of extra virgin olive oil (as Rachel Ray says - EVOO)

1. Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle turkey breasts with a little bit of evoo and heavily sprinkle them with poultry seasoning, garlic salt and pepper. Bake until cooked thoroughly - about 30 min.

2. Prepare long grain - wild rice recipe as says on the box, discard the seasoning packet.

3. While turkey/rice is cooking, chop the onion, garlic, and slice mushrooms. (Be sure to wash the mushrooms but wetting a paper towel and wiping them off. Do not put under running water as it will make them tough)

4. Once the turkey is finished, pull it out, chop and set aside.

5. Melt butter in a skillet (moderatley big size) and then sautee the onions until clear and soft. Add the garlic, be sure to continuously stir so to not burn the garlic. Then add the mushrooms and might have to add some olive oil as the mushrooms tend to eat up quite a bit of oil! Once the mushrooms are cooked, salt and pepper the onion/mush/garlic mixture.

6. Stir in the cream of chicken soup, milk, and basil. Heat through. Then slowly sprinkle in the cheese getting it to melt as you stir. Stir in the turkey, rice, and transfer to a 13x9 baking dish (I used pyrex). Sprinkle almonds on top of the casserole and put in the oven.

7. Cook at 350 degrees until (as Dolly says in Steel Magnolias) gold n bubbly (about 30 min).

I also steamed some broccoli to go with this and it was really good mixed in with the casserole!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pumping and Breastfeeding - Update

Hopefully the title either sparked your interest (as in you are doing the same and are wondering what my experience has been) or discouraged you from reading the post so that either you are ok with reading the probably tmi post I am about to write or you have choosen not to read because it is tmi.

Either way, I apologize if this is tmi but this blog has become my journal from which I can reference back and this post in particular will be helpful on my next children so, SORRY if it is too much. You can stop now if you are worried of that...

Pumping and breastfeeding for the most part has been successful. I wanted to keep track of my progress so I could resort back in the future for reference. The reason I thought to do this is becasue I just recently made the decision to cut out two pumps.

I didn't pump until I went back to work (except to stock up the necessary amount for E while I was at school) and when I came back to work on the first day of school in August, pumped at 4am before going to the gym. That pump was enough for E to eat when she got to mom's around 6/6:30. I then pumped on my way to school around 7 and then at 9:45 (planning), 1 (because that was when E was eating next) and then at 3 when school was over. If I could make it home by 6 I would feed her and then again at 9 before bed. If I had to work late, I would pump on my way home and then just feed Eleanor at 9.

After a couple of weeks, my principal asked me to cut out the 1pm feeding and instead pump at lunch which forced me to drop a pump. I know the comments will come that that was not allowed but I chose to not fight it and complied. Because of that, I did have to start supplementing with formula. I was upset about it at first but it has been fine since and definitely took off the stress of "would I pump that extra ounce to get enough or would I have to pump at midnight just to make enough?"

We supplemented with a bottle of formula a day until she started solids. I feel like at that point, my supply started dwindling. I still made enough to keep her happy on solely nursing on the weekends but my pumps were nowhere near the 8oz. I used to would get in one pump. Lately, I am lucky to get 3 or 4oz.

Over Christmas break my intentions to get up at 4 and still pump were shot when I wanted to sleep in and so I think that might have messed me up a little as well. Eleanor is now getting ONE BREASTMILK bottle and the rest formula during the day. I feed her at night and somehow make enough milk during the day on the weekends to make her happy. She sometimes will get frustrated at night though and we will give her a 4oz. bottle (1/2 of a full feeding).

Other new developments are her top teeth. When her bottom teeth came in at about 4 months, she bit me a few times, more when she was finished and would get bored and just KNAW down. She quit that though but since her top teeth in have bit me a couple of times. One time so hard that when she nursed the next few times it felt like the first few times I ever breastfed - QUITE painful.

Eleanor is also probably getting frustrated with the extra work she has to do when she nurses as opposed to the bottle as she will often suck for a bit and then sit up, then lay back down and the cycle continues. I don't feel like she gets as much as when she eats anymore so anyway, I am thinking we are nearing the end.

My goal at first was to make it to 6 months which we did easily. After that, it kind of just became a month to month thing - you know my competitive nature...wanting to make it to the next month each time. SO we have made it 8 months and are close to 9 months, so that is the current goal!

Sale - Baby Stuff! is having a SALE!

Dallas/Ft. Worth residents enjoy 10% off your entire purchase when you use promo code "DFWBUMP"
You must have it shipped to a DFW zip in order to get the discount. I have blogged about this website before...they have everything you would need from Babies R Us or Buy Buy but also more unique gifts. You can also register with them and more importantly do so if you aren't finding out what you are having and they have an exciting system for those of you who are patient enough :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eleanor is 8 Months Old!

My sweet baby girl turned 8 months old yesterday! I can't believe how the time has flown! SO MUCH has happened in this 8th month!

It has been incredible to see her growth especially now that she is crawling, which she began in her 8th month...NYE 2010 to be exact! She also has started to bud her top teeth. They are adorable coming in, much bigger than her bottom teeth which of course makes sense but it will be so weird to see her smile look so different. You can see them if you lift up her lip but they of course will take a while longer to come down all the way.

Eleanor has known who we are for quite a while and when we say "Where's _______?" concerning me, Andy, Marmi, or Pop Pop, sometimes the Aunts too, she knows. It wasn't until recently that we would say, "Where's Pop Pop?" and she would look at him and start making the Pop Pop Pop Pop movement with her lips. A slight whisper sometimes come out like she is breathing and saying it but it is definitely her word for Pop Pop. SUPER cool! So we haven't decided if it is her first "word" persay, because she doesn't really voice it.

In reference to her noises - she also still does the bah and mah sounds and has recently discovered her HIGHEST pitch. It is hilarious, she talks in a little chirping high pitched noise and all the time. She loves to talk to herself now, especially in the car or when she is trying to make herself fall asleep at night. The funniest instance of this was when we were driving to Andy's dentist appt., I was driving, and in a rush. I was speeding of course and flying around cars - nothing less than you would expect from a typical Dallas driver on a mission to get somewhere, and Eleanor is doing her high pitched scream and Andy is narrating behind each shriek, "Oh no, Mommy is going to KILLLL USSS!!" You had to be there I guess and of course E wasn't shrieking in response to my driving...let's hope :)

On the crawling note, she is going EVERYWHERE! Not just to get a toy a few feet away. She now crawls circles around and through her room/bathroom/hallway when we are getting her bath ready. She crawls into our bathroom and all around the apt. The funniest is when we are getting ready and she crawls into our bathroom which has mirrors over the closet doors and laughs at herself in the mirror. She has always loved looking at the mirror but when she is as clsoe as she can get on the floor, she will run into the mirror like a little bird in glass - luckily she doesn't splat like the bird! I was also told today that, at Marmi's house, she followed Pop Pop from the living room all the way to his bathroom to watch him shave. I used to do that when I was little too and he would pat aftershave on my cheeks like him and then I would shine his shoes with a towel. Oh memories :) Maybe Eleanor will get to help him do that too!

We have always thought our little one to be strong, she was lifting her legs to her face at a young age and has always been able to pull herself up. She now has accomplished the feat of lifting what I would think heavy toys and moving them. She has a little toy train that she literally lifted with the handle and moved from one side of her body to the other while sitting. She didn't drag it, she lifted it. I know this is silly for me to be raving about but I couldn't believe it. She is getting SO BIG!

Also in reference to her movement, she is starting to try to pull up on things. She pulls up on the couch on me and other toys. I most noticed this when she and her friend Katie were playing with her piano. They were kind of not sharing well so I took the piano away and put it on the couch. Eleanor crawled over to the couch and tried to pull up on it to get to her piano! Crazy girl! On that note, she is very assertive already and knows exactly what she wants - I am in trouble!

In the food department, Eleanor has tried more foods and has even accomplished the feat of drinking through a straw! She still snacks on her little puffs but because she is expending so much more energy with her crawling has switched to three meals a day and a couple of snacks in between. We are still trying to work out what she should have aside from the puffs which she, as a friend put it, "is addicted to them like crack" but she has had little pieces of cut up banana (super slimey though) and then just sometimes gets smaller versions of her meals fed to her. She is taking 8oz bottle feedings when she gets a bottle and when I feed her (I always feed her when she is with me, she is still getting bottles at mom's during the day.) and eats about 4-5 times a day from the breast or bottle. My milk supply is really down though...not sure she only gets about a bottle a day of breast milk plus I feed her at night so is getting 2 - 3 formula bottles but somehow is satisfied on the weekends when I alone feed her. She has added the following this month to her diet:

- green beans

- apples

- pears

- mangoes

- butternut squash

- egg yolks scrambled (didn't really like but they have a pretty strong flavor anyway, I need to try again)

Eleanor also still LOVES to read books, especially before she goes to bed. Her favorite books are, "I Love You, Goodnight", "Goodnight Moon", and her two bilingual books, "Animals/Animales" and Colors/Colores." She absolutely loves "I Love You Goodnight" as she laughs and smiles everytime we read it and even now when I am feeding her her night feeding in the rocking chair she pulls off, reaches up, and grabs for it! This makes my heart melt not only because it is so cute that she recognizes something she likes but also that she likes a book that is nothing but a bunch of SIMILES! The R/LA teacher loves this! :)

In the napping department, we think she is trying to give/gave up a nap. She takes a pretty good one in the morning and in the afternoon but sometimes doesn't nap in between. She is starting to love to play more and can stay up longer! It is crazy watching her grow! Speaking of growing, you upped to size 3 diapers and are wearing 9 months clothes in Carters and Ralph Lauren and 6-12months in Old Navy/Gap/Gymboree clothes. I don't remember the Target sizes but somewhere around shoes you are wearing 2's but are probably ready for 3s and the little 0-6 month baby UGGs and MEA bought you are JUST now fitting you!

Sweet baby girl, you make your Daddy and I SO HAPPY! We love getting to see your smile when we come home from work each day. No matter how tired we are, you energize us and make our day so perfect! We couldn't imagine life without you and have loved seeing you grow and accomplish so much in this 8th month of your life! We love you and pray in Thanksgiving for you every day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lazy Mismatched Days

Modeling her new "style"

So Andy has been gone since Thursday night on a silent retreat and we are locked up on a rainy and cold Saturday. When I got Eleanor out of bed this morning she had wet her PJ bottoms. I would have just put her clothes on but I was about to feed her breakfast and there was no sense in potentially dirtying her clothes so I decided I would just put her baby UGGS on to keep her feet warm and throw the pants in the laundry. Well then she started crawling and rubbed rug burns onto her bare knees so I thought, why not use these leg warmers that are super cute but have yet to find something they would match in her closet. Then, in the spirit of the mis-matched as my sweet friend, EEN would call, "Homeless" look Eleanor was taking on, I added her little snow hat and some pink ruffle butts and we got a "silly Mommy and Daughter weekend in the house with nothing else to do" look. Maybe it will be the new fashion for Winter 2011?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A New Year - Here's to 2011

Eleanor and Garrett playing
Katie's new thing - she loves to stick her tongue out!
Sweet little Garrett, we loved getting to spend some time with him finally!

Blocks were the hit of the night - probably should wash them after the three babies drooled on them so much!

Play time in the morning while all the Daddy's sobered up :)

Silly David...

We decided to take a shot after midnight to toast 2011...Wes and I had Patron, Andy and David had Jack, and Ashley Peppermint Schnapps, and Kortni champagne. I think that was my first shot in over a year and a half ha!

Hard to believe it is only our 2nd New Years together as Reinbergs! And we have a 7 mo. old!

The Vaniceks, Kortni and Wes

The Jones', David and Ashley

The Jones', Reinbergs, and Vaniceks celebrating a new year - 2011!

So sweet! Eleanor loves grabbing feet

The Coaches and their Babies

Eleanor and Garrett playing waiting for Katie to get there on NYE

PS the pictures are backward in order of when they occurred but I can't get my computer to let me move them so in the very "Beautiful Mess" fashion they will stay as is :)
This year we decided we would celebrate New Years with friends who were in the same boat - a baby under 1 and no money to pay a babysitter/spend a lot on an evening out. We all agreed that decision was so much better than anything else we could have done. The Jones and Vanciek Family spent NYE 2010 with us and we had a great time!

Here is what the Reinberg family did to ring in the new year, 2011:

We invited the Vanicek and Jones families over for a New Years Eve celebration, babies and all. With my dad and sister being gone, mom and Kel were so sweet to take the twin beds in the office and offer up all the queen/king beds to us. So each couple got a bedroom and brought their pack n plays for their baby to sleep in. We put the kids down around 7:30 and spent the rest of the night enjoying food and drink!

I wish I could have taken a pic of the food spread. We had appetizers including spinach and artichoke dip, chips and guac, perrano and brie cheeses with crackers and grapes, veggies and hummus, meatballs in an alfredo sauce, and pepperoni pizza bread. I hope I am not forgetting another. Ashley made this really fun poinsetta punch with 1 part vodka, 1 part cran, 1 part pomogranite and 1 part champagne. The girls enjoyed that drink while the guys drank beer and whatever else they could find.

After playing a few games on the Wii to work off all the heavy apps, we sat down to eat an amazing brisket Andy and Wes had smoked all day. Along with the brisket we had a green salad, cornbread, pinto beans, and a very special recipe for green beans and new potatoes we got from the McGehee family where you put the two veggies in the bottom of the smoker to let them steam and season from the brisket drippings. Probably SUPER unhealthy but it was good!

We then toasted at midnight with my favorite, Martini and Rossi Asti Champagne (well it isn't from that region of France so it technically can't be called that but I call it Champagne anyway). All the women then hit the wall as we usually are in bed way before midnight. We tried to stay awake and chat but eventually all petered off to bed. The guys stayed up playing "champagne pong" and who knows what else.

The next morning brought babies ready to party nice and early. I got up with Eleanor and we made blueberry and apple cinnamon muffins and put out a fruit spread. Everyone stayed to hang out for a while and then went home.

Andy, Mom, Kel, Eleanor, and I rotated napping throughout the day and then the Vaniceks came back for dinner. We have made it tradition to eat chicken fried steak ( I refuse to cook it more than once a year) with mashed potatoes, homemade bisquits, and black eyed peas (and of course a salad or some kind of green vegetable to make us feel a little healthy), and gravy on New Years day. Usually it was to sop up all the alcohol from the night before but I didn't have that issue this year. Also, it is tradition to eat black eyed peas on New Years day for good luck in the coming year. Not sure why but we do it...we enjoyed the rest of the evening once again stuffing ourselves and have now resided that meals in the Reinberg home will consist of salad, vegetables, and lean meat - probably chicken breast, until bathing suit season! I have GOT to get the rest of this baby weight off!

We are so blessed to have been given another year of gifts and blessings and look forward to see what surprises 2011 may bring. 2010 was incredible and I don't know how we could top it but I am sure God has many more exciting events in store for the Reinbergs!

Here are our "Top 10 in 2010":
1. The birth of our first child and daughter, Eleanor Ann Reinberg - May 18th, 2010
2. Celebrating our FIRST wedding anniversary - July 18, 2010
3. Eleanor's reception of her first sacrament and becoming a member of the Catholic church in baptism - June 4, 2010
4. Moving to Lewisville, closer to family and St. Ann - April 2010
5. Getting to meet so many of our friends' children all within months of Eleanor (we can count at least 10 and are probably forgetting some)
6. Trips to College Station to visit Andy's family - August, November, December 2010
7. Introducing Eleanor to one set of her GREAT - Grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa of Maverick, Texas - June 2010
8. Eleanor's firsts including smiling, rolling over, starting solids, clapping, talking (in of course her own language), Halloween, Thanksgiving, St. Nicolas Day, Christmas, haircut, crawling, NYE
9. Andy's nearly (by one game) undefeated football season coaching 7th grade football
10. Lindsay's first time teaching 4th grade and every subject (it has been a learning experience)

Happy New Year and Here's to 2011!

Eleanor's Photo Shoot

Below are a few shots of something fun Eleanor and I did over the break. I wanted to use this little "get-up" in her 6 month photos but never got around to getting them done so here are some of us playing on Mommy and Daddy's bed...

We are mobile!

Eleanor is crawling! We witnessed it for the first time on New Years Eve. At first she was only taking a few arm/leg movements at a time but moving forward was key and why we officially dubbed it "crawling" (she has been able to move backwards for quite a while now)!

NOW she can move accross the room! It is amazing! She hasn't quite yet started chasing me when I leave the room but comes when we call her/when she wants something. It is so cool to watch her arm move and then her leg move in conjunction with it. It is just amazing to me that 7, almost 8 months ago she was learning to open her eyes and what her hands were and NOW she can move! The first year of a child's life, I have decided, is completely miraculous! There is no way someone can watch their child grow in the first year alone and not think a higher power thought up when and how that child would go from the beginning of his/her life at conception to a walking and talking little person at age 1! I am SO excited to see what more is to come!

Look out world and Mommy and Daddy's un-baby proofed apartment, HERE COMES ELEANOR!

Christmas Blessings and a WONDERFUL 2 Week Break

Our Home this Christmas...

We had a wonderful Christmas visit with both our families! Our break began with Andy's 27th birthday on the 18th of December. His brothers, and best friend, Greg came up to celebrate and his cousin, Elizabeth, along with my sister and dad and our neighbors, Robbie and Cami, and David Jones, Andy's friend, along with Jake and Courtney, our friends from college/Andy's old roommate joined us at Billy Bob's for Reckless Kelly. It was a fun concert and we enjoyed listening to the good music! The pictures below are at dinner in Sundance square before dancing.
Andy's sheet cake with 27 candles on it - he got them ALL out in ONE blow!

At Billy Bobs...

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with Andy's brothers and cousin.

Then we got serious and finished Christmas shopping/gift making (my family's tradition), baking, laundering, and cleaning before we could leave town. I also had to start and finish my defensive driving course ha! A lot to cram into only a few days but we did it! We finished mopping the floors/showering/packing and loading the car by 8:30 just in time to leave. With the car packed to the gills with Christmas presents, enough pre-made food to last Eleanor while we were gone and all of the "stuff" necessary for 4 days in college station we stopped by Which Which and Costco gas and headed for College Station.

We arrived around 11pm Wednesday night and Eleanor, rested from her 3 hour sleep, got to play for a few minutes with Grammie and Grandpa as they reunited after a few months of not seeing one another.

We put Eleanor to bed and enjoyed the conversation with Andy's parents for a few hours. This was the beginning of many late nights at the Reinberg household. I sit here exhausted and decided I need another week of vacation to get back into my routine and relax from my vacation...typical though.

Eleanor was up bright and early on Thursday morning and excited to play...Daddy ws not ready to wake up...

Thursday morning we got a special visit from The Wentrcek family. Eleanor hadn't seen her godparents in a month or so and it was so wonderful seeing sweet Reese Wentrcek!
She has grown so much since we saw her when she was born!

We enjoyed catching up, eating Layne's (Andy's FAVORITE fried chicken finger place only found in sweet home College Station) and the girls' first real time to interact and play on the floor. Well, Eleanor was kind of rude and more interested in her toys than talking to Reese but Reese was so sweet and just stared at E the whole time. Soon they will be playing together and will be the best of friends! :) We just love that sweet little bug and hate that we live so far from our dear friends! After they left we made a quick trip up to St. Mary's, where Grammie works, to let Eleanor meet her coworkers and also people Andy and I worked with when we worked at St. Mary's in college. We snuck into Grammies office for a few shots, this is my fave of Eleanor in Grammie's chair :)

Thursday night we went to Koppe Bridge, Andy's favorite burger place, and his childhood friend, Amber, joined us.

Andy's childhood friend, Amber, who also sat with Eleanor as she slept while we were at Midnight mass. Thanks Amber!

We were going to go to Santa's Wonderland but the line was over a mile long so decided to go home and play games/watch Christmas movies instead.

Friday morning (Christmas Eve) we woke up and 'Nell and I went to get pedicures. What a treat, we even picked out red for Christmas to don our toes (and my fingers). We just hung out the rest of the day wrapping presents and watching more Christmas flicks and then ate tostadas, another one of Andy's favorites he usually can only get in CS (I am not one to cook refried beans in bacon grease and then dolloping them on grease saturated fried tortillas so I leave that to his mom and dad ha! Maybe one day I will attempt to learn to make them. Anyway, tostadas were Andy's birthday request and we celebrated his birthday with his family on Christmas Eve.

We showered and put Eleanor down after putting cookies out for Santa. My only regret was that in the rush of getting ready for mass we forgot to read Eleanor "The Polar Express." My family's tradition is to read it before going to midnight mass/before Santa comes. We kind of also hesitated reading it because we thought Pop Pop might read it when we got home but it never happened. Oh well, Pop Pop will read it next Christmas when Eleanor is a little older and can understand.

Mass was beautiful, Fr. David's homily perfect and the music beautiful! We came home and Andy's family kept up with their tradition of eating tamales and shrimp cocktail before going to bed. I had a glass of wine trying to keep my eyes open ha! We put our stockings out and went to bed to so excited, almost as much as when I was little, to see what Santa had brought. We didn't go to bed until almost 4 that night AH! Not good when your 7 month old wakes up at 7.

Eleanor let us sleep in a little on Christmas morning and we awoke to her talking and clapping excited to see what Santa brought (or just in a good mood ha but we can assume what we want).
I fed her and then we went down the hall to wake up the rest of the family.

We had a wonderful time opening presents and for me watching others open what we gave them. That is my favorite part! Grammie loved her apron with "Grammie" monnogrammed up top and Eleanor's handprint and the date at the bottom. It is going to be somewhat of a "charm bracelet on an apron" as Eleanor and other grandkids to come will stamp their handprints each year at Christmas! It will be fun to see how much they grow and who all appears over the years! Eleanor got a little kitchen from Santa and a star stacker that lights up and makes music that she loves from Grammie and Grandpa.

Andy's and my favorite gifts were relics that Andy's mom had blessed and touched the relics of my saint, Maria Goretti, the veil of Mary, and Andy's touched Saints Andrew, Jude, Anthony, and all the apostles. An incredible gift we will always love. Andy's relic is a rosary and mine a gold cross on a necklace.

Eleanor also was given an "elf outfit" by Andy's parents and she ended up wearing it all was quite hilarious!
Andy's dad smoked the most amazing smoked turkey I have ever tasted for Christmas dinner and we stuffed ourselves with that, all the usual sides, and wine of course. We loaded the car so we could leave first thing the next morning and enjoyed visiting with Amber and her mom, Linda and drinking wine/eating desserts along with playing a very boistrous and wild game of "Apples to Apples."

Our visit in College Station was super special being our family's first time to celebrate Chrsitmas with Andy's family AND Eleanor's first Christmas. We feel like we don't get to see his family enough so it was great getting to spend a few days with them and not have an agenda! We truly got to just relax and hang out which was much appreciated.

With it being my first Christmas away from my family you could only imagine my excitement to make it to Dallas to see them and spend time enjoying Christmas #2. We arrived right around noon on Sunday the 26th.
Eleanor all ready to open more presents, now at Marmi and Pop Pop's

Marmi and Pop Pop, Aunt MEA, and Aunt Keekda were ready with cinnamon rolls in the oven and coffee made. We started opening presents as E had just awoken from her road trip nap and was in good spirits. Eleanor got so many more fun gifts including a piano you can hook up to the TV...what will they think of next!? My Aunt also sent her this adorable little mailbox that she loves!

Dad got Tiger Woods golf from the kids and all of us got a Dance game for the Wii from Santa so we played on the Wii all day and enjoyed an amazing dinner ( as you call tell our break has been marked with delicious indulgent and not so healthy food) of Dad's famous London Broil and all the fixins. As you can see, Marmi got an apron as well with Eleanor's handprint.

We capped the night off with desserts and wine with the Walhoods for an impromptu Happy Birthday Jesus party without the cake...

The next morning Aunt Mea and I went shopping and spent the rest of the day preparing her and Dad for their long-awaited trip to visit Aunt Katie in "Nica." That night, Andy and I took the packed car home, unloaded it, and I unpacked and started laundry that still has not been finished and we are now two days out from school starting up again...

Tuesday, I had a hair cut appointment and after discussing with my sweet hair-cutter, Michelle, decided Eleanor needed her first hair cut. Andy brought her up and she was so good. You can see more about that in her haircut post. Afterward, Andy and I made some returns and ran by Marmi's to get the remainder of the Christmas presents that couldn't fit in the car the night before.

We then enjoyed a super fun day with Amanda, Annabelle, and Hallie.
Eleanor and Annabelle playing in her room before we went shopping. Hallie was napping and missed out :(

They came up for a few days and we were so excited to get to spend some time with them. Hallie napped at Granna's and Annabelle and Amanda, and we went to Buy Buy Baby and shopped with the girls and then went back to Granna's and got to play with Hallie for a bit (Eleanor had to get dropped at home for a nap). I miss my sweet bosom friend so it was such a treat to get to catch up and spend some time together and to see her sweet babies who are just growing way too fast! That night, Andy and I made a really yummy tortilla soup and margaritas and watched movies. We have so enjoyed this time to be together and not worry about work!

Wednesday Eleanor and I went downtown for a Dr. appt. and then met up with Heather, a friend from school, and her 10 mo. old son, Jace. We had so much fun with the kids interacting and of course did some shopping.

Eleanor insisted on me carrying her instead of being pushed in the stroller...we will need to break her of that preference! Wednesday afternoon we got to meet Casen Place, Andy's gradeschool friend, Clifton's third son.

He was so sweet and made me probably a little closer to being ready for another baby. We still would like to wait a little while longer but it was so funny watching Eleanor interact with him.
She was actually a little jealous when I was holding him which makes me wonder if she needs a sibling before she gets too old and used to being the only one! :) Until then, we will just enjoy all the babies our friends have! That night, The Vaniceks came over and ate Pot Roast and played 42 with us. The girls played and them went to bed, it is so fun that we can put them down and have time just the four of us to hang out! The girls are such good friends, we love how much time we get to spend with sweet Katie Jo!
Thursday was such a treat! Andy watched Eleanor while Mom, Kelsey, and I (the ones left behind while the other three of our family are in Nicaragua) spent the morning and early afternoon at the Spa at the Crescent. We got massages and then lounged around for a while in the spa, sauna, and steam room, took our time getting ready and then enjoyed a lunch at Breadwinners. What a fun day! I hadn't felt so relaxed in a LONG time! My massage therapist said I need to do this more often...maybe I can convince Andy of that ha though I wished he was able to enjoy the spoiling as well because I know his neck needs it just as much as mine! That night, mom treated us to a date night out. She came over so we could go see "True Grit" at Studio Movie Grill with a gift certificate Andy got from his students!

Friday morning we woke up and Andy headed to mom and dad's with Wes to commence the day of smoking the brisket for our NYE feast. Eleanor and I hung out at home getting random things done such as cleaning out/organizing the freezer, writing thank you notes, working on but still not finishing laundry, and straightening up the house/getting ready to head to mom's for NYE. More New Years Eve dets to come in the New Years post. We had such an amazing Christmas with family and friends and are gearing up to be motivated as we go back to school next week!