Sunday, October 28, 2012

Prepping for Sandy & other musings

 Today has been a crazy day. Here some of what's been going on at our house:

1. Gia was up at 2 am and then again at 2:45. Jon was still not home from work at that point, so I brought her in our bed, where she proceeded to chat and ask to watch Mickey several times. It might have been really cute if it wasn't nearly 3am. Jon came home shortly after our slumber party started so we moved to Gia's room so he could get some sleep. She finally fell back asleep at 4:30 and was up for the day at 7:45. Lucky lucky me.

2. We let Jon sleep till 10 and then I sent him on a coffee run. I actually had coffee with caffeine today. And no heart palpitations. Go me!

3. I'm not usually one to freak out about storms (I tend to think the weathermen are just very good speculators) but with the kitchen demo on the horizon (tomorrow, fingers crossed that Stupid Sandy doesn't ruin it!) Jon and I had a moment of panic. The new cabinets are in our garage! What if water gets in the garage? Thankfully my brother-in-law came over and helped Jon move all the cabinets to the living room. Meanwhile...

4. I was hard at work emptying our 2 cabinets and food armoire and moving their contents to the dining room. I (wrongly) assumed this wouldn't take long. I thought there wasn't really much stuff. Wrong again. I also was ridiculously unprepared and didn't have any boxes to put all the stuff in. So I scrounged up a Rubbermaid tub and my reusable grocery bags, and it worked out just fine. I did the best I could to organize the bags and keep stuff we might need close by. Let's see how this goes...

5. In an effort to use up some food (and, who am I kidding, make sure we have something in this house in case we really can't get out at all tomorrow) I made an oatmeal casserole with rolled oats, strawberries, chocolate chips and almonds. YUM!   You can find the recipe HERE

6. Gia napped for an hour and woke up screaming. We've determined that one of the owl statues in her room is a little too real for her liking and it was scaring her. We removed said owl and back to sleep she went.

7. After nap time I took her to the library--or "liberry" as she says. She had a ball checking out the huge fish tank, playing with their toys, riding the elevator and whispering when we went into the fiction section to get some books for Mommy. (If I'm gonna be stuck inside for 2 days, I want to be prepared with some good, old fashioned books. What if I can't charge my Nook?!)

8.  In an effort to help Jon out I decided to put away Gia's outside toys (probably should have done this a month ago, but, well, we're lazy) and went to open the door to our very cute, but ancient, shed. I yanked and ripped the door right off the shed. Who knew the door opened INWARD?? Oops. Jon is going to have to rig it up tonight when he gets home at 11. Hopefully tomorrow morning he can make a quick trip to Home Depot and fix it.

9. Gia had a total meltdown at bedtime because A.) she's extremely tired, B.) she wanted to brush her teeth for the 4th time today and I said no and C.) because she's extremely tired.

10. I had an 8 am endodontist appt tomorrow for a root canal (my sixth one...yes 6.. lucky lucky me) and the doctor called to reschedule. I absolutely adore her, and we actually spent a few minutes on the phone. She went to NYU and so we bonded over that at my first appointment a while back. She also has 2 small children (one is a bit older than Gia and one is a bit younger) so we have that in common too. She's a total sweetheart and last week when I was there, I may or may not have asked her to meet me for coffee one day. She probably thinks I'm a nut.

So all that long-winded nonsense was my way of saying it was a wild day. (I think it's a full moon. Maybe that explains it?) Here's to hoping tomorrow is better! It kinda has to be.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Last week we had a minor tragedy in the Quinn household. Charlie Birdie was ill and unfortunately, he didn't make it. We told Gia he flew away, and she handled it with her usual aplomb.  She said, "Charlie birdie flew away? I go to store and get 'nother Charlie birdie?"

We had an idea this might happen. Two days after we got Charlie, Gia and I went to Petco to pick up some toys for him and some other supplies. We walked past the bird cage in the store and there was big sign informing customers that the birds were not currently for sale. They were being observed.

"Observed for what?!" I asked. The manager told me that some of their bird suppliers had sick birds and they were observing the ones still left in the store to make sure they were up to "Petco standards".

Apparently Charlie was not up to Petco standards. Sadly, Charlie wasn't meant to be with the Quinns for long.


Not to worry. We have some good news.

We adopted a kitten!

You didn't think Gia would be happy without a pet for long, did you?
Meet Abracadabra!

Gia and I went to the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge and adopted her.  She's 9 weeks old and she's a sweetheart.

She was in foster care for most of her life, so she is very social and has adjusted to living with us very quickly. She's super affectionate, playful and mischievous. Gia adores her. They play together and Gia is very good with her. The other day Gia was running around and dragging a string behind her. She was belly-laughing because Abby was chasing after the string. All I could hear was laughter and Gia yelling, "Let's go Kitty!" 

Yet again we had a hard time with names. We chose Abracadabra because she's pretty much all black and it's close to Halloween. We call her Abby.

Welcome Home Abby!!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Crazy house

I feel like my house is always a mess. No matter how many times a day I put things where they belong, 20 minutes later the house is a disaster again.

We've only been in the new house for 2.5 months and I know a lot of it has to do with the fact that we're not completely settled yet.  I only have 2 kitchen cabinets and our couch is totally the wrong size and shape for the family room.  The fact that I have a 2 year old doesn't help either.

Oh wait. You're still hung up on the fact that I only have 2 kitchen cabinets?  Yeah, it's true. The people who lived here before us were going for a country look, and they ripped out all but TWO cabinets. I have some small decorative shelves above my one tiny strip of counter space, and a large armoire (the kind meant for sweaters) next to the fridge.  That's it.

Truth be told, it's a complete nightmare. It's tough to cook (and I LOVE to cook) and there's always crap all over my kitchen table because there just isn't anywhere else to put stuff.

I'd show you a picture, but I'm saving the horror for when I can post "Before" and "After" pictures. Kitchen demolition is scheduled for October 29th. Yippee!  (Right now the new cabinets are in the garage, the knobs and pulls for them are in the living room, and the floor samples are, well, on the floor, just begging to be picked.)

As for the family room, it's also a bit of a crazy mess. Our L-shaped couch has the L going the wrong way, and a large part of it is in front of our fireplace. So no fires till we get new couches, which really stinks because now that the weather's cooler at night, I'd love to get a fire going! And our entertainment center is too small for the wall it's on. It looks like a pimple. According to Jon, our tv is too small, too.

And, the list goes on.

I know Rome wasn't built in a day and all that stuff, but it's so hard, living like this. One day at a time, right? We'll get there....eventually.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Apple Picking at Pennings

Every fall we go apple picking. Before Gia was born we went to Maskers in Warwick, NY. Last year, we decided to try something different and ended up at Pennings Orchard. We had so much fun that we went back again this year. They have apple orchards, a country store and a little petting zoo.
We went on a Thursday to avoid the crowds and, let me tell you, it was awesome. We practically had the entire orchard to ourselves.

Gia had a ball running around and eating the apples. She wasn't so sure about picking them off the tree herself, though. She'd tug really hard and the apple would go flying and the branch would bounce back and smack her in the face.

But she did pick a few:

 She had the most fun putting the picked ones into our bag.

After we filled out bag, we headed down to the store and the petting zoo. Gia loved the animals (as usual) and she fed all of them fearlessly.

There were 2 goats and of them was really aggressive. He would head butt the other one to get to Gia so he could eat all her food. If she came near the fence with her hand out, he'd jump up and try to kick the fence to get at her food. She wasn't scared at all though. She thought it was hilarious that he was kicking.

video coming soon!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesdays are Tough

Tough with a capital T.

I love being a part-time working mom, but man, Tuesday's are not easy for me. I teach from 8-11:40 and then again from 4-4:50. Add in travel time and I'm gone for the better part of the day. When I am home, Gia's napping.

I noticed that bedtime is different on Tuesday nights. Usually we read a book, turn on Gia's Twilight Turtle and then I leave. About 3 minutes later Gia calls me back to fix her covers ("arms in, cover me with lovey AND blankie!") and then I don't hear from her again. She goes to sleep.

But, on Tuesdays my little boss says, "Mommy, LAY DOWN!"  So I do. I just lay there till her eyes get heavy and I can slip out.

Tonight I didn't even wait for the demand. I just stayed with her, without her even asking. I know that, in the blink of an eye, she's going to be too big and she's not going to want me to lay down and she's certainly not going to need me to. It made me sad to think about that time and I got all teary-eyed as I watched my baby fall asleep.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


My eyes popped open at 2 am last night because I remembered that I didn't post anything yesterday :(  So much for posting in October.

But, I had good reason! Yesterday was a busy day. First we celebrated my brother in law's 30th birthday, and then we had some friends over for dinner.

I haven't seen these friends in a while (shame us on all for being so darn busy) but they are the kind of friends that you pick up exactly where you left off, without missing a beat. I've known them forever, and it was so nice to relax and catch up and eat tons. (Laur, I need the bean dip recipe. And Claud, I need more banana crack, I mean pudding, ASAP!) Can't wait to do it again soon.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Back to the farm

I had a million things to do today.  From gym class (for Gia, not me) to lunch with my dad, to cooking dinner, and finding time to go grocery shopping and clean the entire house, I really packed it in. Oh, and Gia only napped for an hour, so there was little rest for the weary in this house.

While Gia was napping and I was emptying the dishwasher, responding to some work emails and making a list for Shop Rite, I stopped for a second and looked out the huge window in our kitchen. It was just so gorgeous out--especially for October. After all the days of rain we've had, the sun and warmth were even sweeter. As I was literally basking in the sun, Gia woke up.  I went up to her room to get her and found a very cranky child-- because, ya know, she barely slept.  Out of no where I suggested we go to the farm. Instant happy kid, and truthfully, happy mommy too. Because life's too short to worry about food shopping on the most beautiful October day. It could wait (and it did, till after dinner, when Gia was soundly asleep.)

There is little in life that makes me happier than watching my beautiful girl run around the farm, squealing in delight.
Thinking about how to best approach the hay maze

Gia kept saying "Hi goat. Eat!"
Scare crow Gia & Daddy

Look, I'm feeding him!
Jumping amongst the hay bales

Cheese, mommy!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pinterest Muffins

In the past week I made 2 different kinds of muffins and I got both of the recipes on Pinterest. (I go on Pinterest binges, where I pin, pin, pin... and then I take some time to try some of the stuff I pinned. Cause if not I just get overwhelmed looking at all those gorgeous pins and trying to figure out when I'm going to have time to paint our piano, refinish our floors, and do sixteen different holiday crafts with Gia.)

So, first I started with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Pecan Streusel.  I make the streusel sans pecans. I didn't have any in the house and Gia's not a fan of nuts. So, mine were just Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins with Streusel.

 Gia helped me bake:

And they turned out to the be BEST pumpkin muffins EVER. I didn't have vanilla extract so I used vanilla bean paste in the cream cheese mixture and it was divine. You can find the recipe here.

We devoured those in a few days, and I love having muffins in the house, so yesterday I made some more. They're so easy for me to grab and eat on the go when I'm working.

Yesterday I made French Toast Muffins. Upon reading the ingredient list, I was skeptical because the actual muffin itself is so plain. I had everything I needed on hand, which usually isn't the case when I want to try a new recipe. 

But, I went for it anyway, let me tell you---YUM! They were so so good. I made them around 4 pm and Gia, Jon and I ended up having one each after dinner. They are simple, but so buttery and sweet and delicious. And, yes, they DO taste like french toast. You can find the recipe here.  (Ignore the annoying blog post that goes with the recipe. And, DO cut the topping ingredients in half. I doubled the muffin recipe, so I figured I should make the normal amount of topping, and I still have more than half left over.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WW: This one's for you, Emily!

Wordless Wednesday this week is brought to you by my favorite author, Emily Giffin.

I told Gia to pick out a book to read before bed, and here's what she chose.

I loved that one too, Gia, but we don't have enough time to read it ALL in the 30 min between now and your hot date with your new big girl bed. Can't blame a girl for trying though.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gia's trip to the farm (this week)

I was going to save these pictures for tomorrow's Wordless Wednesday post, but there's a really funny story that I just had to post with the pictures. Which kinda defeats the whole 'Wordless Wednesday' thing.

This morning my mom watched Gia while I was hard at work teaching the future of America to not write run-ons and fragments.

Before the rain started, they went to Secor Farm, which is a very cute little place close to our house.  (Last week they went to Abma's in Wyckoff. Apparently they are on a mission to go to every farm in a 50 mile radius.)

Anyway, back to Secor. It has a hay maze:


 and those things you stick your head in so you can take silly pictures.

They also have a hayride, a pumpkin "patch" and a small store that sells fresh produce and other goodies.

Apparently they have a very large sheep at this farm, and Gia was having a ball feeding it. When she walked away, the sheep baaaa-ed at her really loudly and it scared the crap out of her. She ran back over to my mom for protection.

Gia couldn't wait to tell me about the excitement with the sheep. I barely had both (soaking wet) feet through the door today (hate hate hate all this rain) and Gia goes, "Mommy! Big sheep at a farm! Baaaaaaaa!"  She said the baaaa part in a very deep and very loud voice. It was hilarious!

After the sheep, she was a little skittish around all the animals. Here's a little snippet of a video so you can see what I mean. She's hilarious :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Musings on being a working mom

I should be grading papers right now and planning tomorrow's lesson, but instead I'm thinking about the term "working mom". 

Before I got pregnant with Gia, Jon and I had planned for me to stay home with her. At that point it was just a discussion though, and something I thought sounded good in theory.

Once I had Gia, I dove into motherhood. It took about a week for me to hit my stride: to trust my mommy instincts and fully realize how deep my love is for this little person that had been in my belly for nearly 42 weeks. Don't get me wrong, not every day was peaches and cream, but Gia was an exceptionally good infant (and now she's a great little kid) and life was really really good. I loved staying home with her and cooking and baking and making our house a home for our new family. My theory was correct--I loved being at home.

When Gia was 5 months old I went on an interview at a local high school just for the fun of it. (I didn't even wear a suit! The horror!) They were looking for a full time, tenure track English teacher. I thought it would be fun to see if I still had it.

Well, apparently I did still have it. They called me back before the day was over and wanted me to come in for a second round of interviews and do a sample lesson. I hung up the phone and started bawling. Seriously, it was the ugly cry times 10. I was changing Gia's diaper and crying my eyes out and Jon walked in the door. He, of course, wanted to know why I was hysterical.  The conversation went something like this:
Jon: Why are you crying? What's wrong?
Me: I don't want to go back to work (sob sob sob). I can't leave Gia!
Jon: So I take the interview went well?

I told him what had happened and my adorable, supportive, wonderful husband told me to call them and tell them thanks, but no thanks, which is what I did. Tough phone call to make but I wasn't ready to leave my 5 month old just yet.

Fast forward 8 months: it was a summer morning and Gia and I were hanging out. I got a text from a very good friend of mine who is also a former colleague. She now teaches developmental English at the local community college. (Developmental English is for all the students who didn't place into 101 and need some extra reading and writing practice before they take 101.) They had an opening and she told her boss about me. The next day I interviewed for the position and got the job. I was so excited to be going back to work. It was the perfect gig at the perfect time--2 days a week, 4 hours a day. Just enough to keep my teaching chops, and earn a little money, but not something that took me away from Gia for too long.

Over the course of the 2 years since Gia has been on this earth, I've met plenty of new people and I've often been asked if I "work". That's a tough question though--and I think all moms would agree with that. Even if you don't work outside the home, you still work. Hard. And, a lot. Being a stay-at-home mom is the hardest job--much harder than teaching all day. 

So I guess, after this long winded explanation of my work history these past few years, what I'm trying to say is this: being a mom is a full time job. Anything else I get to do that earns me some moola is just the icing on the proverbial cake.  At the end of the day, I'm lucky to have so many jobs that I love.