Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to you!

I know I am quite far behind...I want to share what I have been up to, but have been bogged down with technical difficulties. I should just bite the bullet and just share my photos as is...I will do that.

BUT, in the mean time, Merry Christmas to you!

Enjoy your day and the magical peace of the world standing still for just one day.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Christy B. has done it again!

Check out her blog for a sampling of some of her recent pics of Samuel.

Oh! And here is his slide show...I love this guy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


And how does one counteract the effects of the Navman, you ask?

Cake! Cookies! Muffins! Brownies!

Here are two more of my FAVORITE Things, both of which were Christmas presents.

The first is 101 Things to do with a Cake Mix - a book full of recipes that have a box of cake mix as the main ingredient. My copy is well loved and used...I am even using it tonight! When I use it tonight I will be using ingredients that I have on hand and just need to use - have that in your pantry? I do.

I even used it the other day when I had a chocolate craving and found the perfect recipe for Death by Chocolate Cake. Here's the recipe for a tasting of what the book has to offer:

Death By Chocolate Cake

3/4 Cup Sour Cream
4 Eggs
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Oil
1 Chocolate Cake Mix
1 Small box instant chocolate pudding
1 Cup chocolate chips
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350*

Beat sour cream, eggs, water and oil together in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed. Add cake mix and pudding mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Place batter in greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a fork inserted into cake comes out clean.

While still hot invert cake onto a serving platter. When cool, sift powdered sugar over the top of cake.

*I had this with Cool Whip and it tasted like a Hostess Cupcake. Yum!

My second Favorite Thing ties in with baking and also just general cooking. It's my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer - courtesy of Matt a couple of years ago. Ever since I got this baby I can't imagine my kitchen without it. It helps me quickly bake cakes, cookies, brownies, shreds cheese, mashes potatoes...the uses go on and on.

OK, so one favorite thing is very affordable, the other is an investment. Both definitely worthwhile in my book.

Happy Day!

Monday, December 3, 2007

You can always go... Downtown

Chicago has many wonderful things to offer and one of those wonderful things was Marshall Fields. No need to go into the bitter details, but Macy's sweeped in and purchased Field's a couple of years ago and to the dismay of Chicagoans decided to change the name of Marshall Fields to Macy's.

Marshall Fields is a historic piece of Chicago history, particularly the beautiful department store in downtown Chicago. Every Christmas the windows are decorated with the Nutcracker theme and holiday tradition is to go downtown to see the windows at Marshall Fields - now Macy's.

So while we were in Chicago for the week of Thanksgiving, Matt, Sam, Mom, Dad and Marissa and I drove downtown to see the windows.

We even got to see the main tree decorated by the one and only Martha Stewart - it was so pretty that we had to take pictures in front of that too.

Check out Sambo with his Titi Rooster, Mita and Grandpa. We had a lot of fun!

Running along...

Happy Monday! I continue with my favorite things, a la Oprah...

Now this one is not generally sold in the states, but it can be found and if you really want one you can go with the Garmin model.

It's my running GPS! I strap the Navman R300 on my arm and off I run...anywhere! It doesn't give me a map if I get lost, but I can go for a run and turn wherever my hear desires and it tracks my average pace, my total milage and calories burned. It has a pace alarm that will tell me if I have gone above or below a goal pace and even gives me my maximum pace. Lots of information to use.

I love it. It's been great to have and I highly recommend you get a running GPS if you ever get into running.

Next up? Some favorite things that counteract the effects of the Navman...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


We flew from Nashville to Chicago this trip and Sam was such a good baby boy! He really does get an A+ for good behavior this trip. He is so great.

When we arrived at Midway, we took turns taking pictures before Uncle Ben arrived...Here is the boy with his mom and dad!

It's been a while

We all went to Chicago for Thanksgiving and spent a whole week with family and friends. It was a great time and I can't wait to share pictures of our trip! Those are coming later.

While I was in Chicago, my mom was watching Oprah's Favorite Things show (did you know that it's on at 9am in Chicago?). I guess that show highlights Oprah's favorite new things and everyone in the audience gets to take those things home - can you imagine?

That got me thinking...what are my favorite things? I thought I would share those with you. They are things that I use and like and maybe you might too...Ariana's favorite things. Not worth the prices of Oprah's treasures, I am sure. But maybe you can find something new?

Here's one: My favorite eyeliner. It's from Milani cosmetics - drugstore. True Black.

It's the little things in life, I have to remind myself of that!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Turkey to You!

There is much to update you on...but had to wish you a great day!

Count your blessings. Thanksgiving is the best!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bailey's Birthday!

My buddy Kelly has a baby girl named Bailey - she is precious and was born about 8 weeks before Samuel.

Kelly commissioned me to do Bailey's first birthday invitations and they are now ready to go to Chicago. Here's the finished project!

Monday, November 12, 2007


These babies keep coming...

Here's a nursing blanket for Shawna. She will be having Cameron this week for sure!

Oh. Then she will start training in 4 weeks for the Knoxville Marathon relay race. What a trooper.

I will start training this week for both the Knoxville and Nashville 1/2 Marathon too...Remind me that I said 1/2 and not whole!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I had to share this with you.

Did you know that the New York Marathon was this last weekend?

Did you know that Paula Radcliffe was the female winner with a time of 2:23:09? (For those taking note that is a pace of 5:27 per mile over the course of 26.2 miles)

Did you know that she had a baby 9 months ago??? No kidding. 9 months ago.

Hmm. Puts things in perspective. I gave birth nine months ago!! She is awesome.

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Kind of Town

What did you do this weekend?

Well...I went to Chicago with my college friends! Every year a group of us picks a city to visit and we all meet there for a fun weekend of hanging out. Whoever is at the weekend trip that year nominates and elects the next city that we will visit.

So far we have visited:
  1. New York
  2. Las Vegas
  3. New Orleans
  4. San Antonio
  5. Miami
  6. Chicago
Up next year: San Antonio. If San Antonio is going to cost us a mortgage payment, then the runner up is Nashville.

Now about Chicago. I know. I am from Chicago. But it is a great city and we treated it like we were visiting any other city. Meaning that I didn't tell my family that I would be in town...didn't stay with them.

We stayed at The Allerton on Michigan Avenue and shopped the Magnificent Mile. We also visited the Field Museum of Natural History and ate at the following places - all recommended!

It was a wonderful weekend and I think I did great being away from the mister. I asked my friends if I talked too much about Sam - they said no. So, unless they are not telling me the full truth, I didn't talk too much about him, didn't call a million times and overall felt pretty good about being away!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick or Treat

We had a monkey for Halloween. Isn't he so adorable?

We stopped at G-mas house to trick or treat and say hello. What else would a 9 month old do for Halloween? :)

I will have much to update you on next week...I am going solo with a girl's weekend starting tomorrow and my little monkey will not be with me!

Woo hoo! I think...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

He is such a boy.

Back in July, Leo (Christy's boy) had a birthday party and Sam was invited. :) For his birthday, Leo got a Cars Racetrack that zooms around a little car in a figure eight. Leo was so excited to get it running that he convinced his mom to put batteries in it and set it up. All the kids gathered around to watch it work...Sam included.

Sam was incredibly amused! He was just this little 7 month old baby and started cracking up laughing at the car going around - he even stuck his hand in the track to stop it!

When we reported this to Mita and Mito, Mita insisted that we get Sam this race track so we could watch him laugh. He did!

The toy has taken a break - it's been out of sight, out of mind. But yesterday I pulled it out for him and decided to try and catch the moment. Forgive my movie making skills...I will work on that.

But I think this will make you smile.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


<---Erin, Shawna and Claudia at the shower

Remember my friend Shawna? Well, she is almost due and we had a shower for her last week. It was fun to meet her husband and all of the people in her life that she talks about. Her baby boy, Cameron is due the week of Thanksgiving - isn't that neat?

Well, for Shawna's shower I made a fuzzy lovey blanket - same as the one I made for Sam a while back. In my scurry to get everything together I missed a step in my sewing and used Velcro instead of a snap for the pacifier holder. I try not to let those missteps get to me...but sometimes they do. That's why I sit and talk about it a week later!

Anyway, I finally have something new to share that is not Sam related - woo hoo! There is more going on than that little guy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Go'in back to Indiana...Indiana here I come

Do you know that Jackson 5 tune?

We went to Indiana this weekend to meet Marissa and Ben for Taylor's Homecoming weekend...it was a good time with plenty of adventure! Did some of that adventure involve Sam? Of course it did. He runs the show...

Visiting Indiana was great, though. So nice to see flat open fields of land of corn and soybean. I am not being funny! There is something beautiful about it and the sky is just so big!

We stayed at The Loft Inn, a local B&B in Fairmount, Indiana - the proud home of James Dean and Jim Davis, Garfield's creator. Interesting, huh?

Here's some pics from the weekend - I hope yours was great too!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Is there a banana on my face?

Considering that Sam is now 9 months old, I thought I would take the plunge and give him finger foods...I know. I am late.

I decided to give him some cut up bananas after his smooshed banana and oatmeal breakfast. At first he didn't quite know what to think of it, but then he figured it out. When I looked over at him after a couple of bites this is what I saw. It was screaming cute. I had to share!

By the way, I think I have sufficiently made up for my lack of Samuel pictures. I just might start showing you some other tidbits of my life, lest you think he consumes me. He kind of does...

Friday, October 12, 2007


Happy Friday!

I am so glad the weekend is here...aren't you? The Fall has finally arrived and I love the cool mornings and the sunny days. It's my FAVORITE time of year. The best!

Samuel has just finished eating some Cheerios and has gone back to sleep - babies just love Cheerios and it's so cute to see them picking them up with their little fingers and putting them in their mouths. Of course Sam likes to take them by the handful and shove them in his face, but it's still cute. :) Here he is taking a break from eating Cheerios...do you see the one down on his shirt?

Today we are preparing for a garage sale. Wish us luck! I have been gathering and cleaning out closets this week in preparation for the sale. I have put some clothes on consignment and even had some eBay sales! I guess instead of spring cleaning it's cleaning out for the winter.

Either way it's been good to get rid of extra stuff around the house... One man's junk is another man's treasure!

Catch you soon,

Monday, October 8, 2007

Go Vols! and What did you have for Lunch?

It has been a bit since I have updated and, honestly, I have been lagging with the Sambo pictures. I do, however, have a picture that I took of my boy on a recent Saturday in Big Orange Country. Never mind that the photo was taken on the day we had an embarrassing loss to Florida. No, think of this past Saturday when we whooped on Georgia, OK?

What about lunch? Do you sometimes get on a kick and just eat the same thing for breakfast or lunch all the time? I do. I fluctuate with dinner, though. The weird thing is that this new lunch fascination is not something I would have ever eaten until Sam came into the picture.

You see, I never liked peanut butter growing up - EXCEPT for when it was with chocolate. I hated peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, something to which my Titi Cucha can testify and reminds me of all the time (I used to throw my uneaten PB&J lunches under the bed).

Then I got pregnant. One day my good friend and coworker Julie was eating her usual peanut butter on bread for lunch when I just had to have some. WHY? I never liked it even when I tried. Yet somehow being preggo changed that. I had peanut butter on lightly toasted bread for lunch very often while pregnant and still continue to this day...

Except for one thing. Now it's with Lay's chips. And let me clarify. It's Jif Creamy (not chunky, low-fat, natural, etc...) on Pepperidge Farms Natural Whole Wheat bread and Plain Lays (not flavored, baked, natural, etc...). Occasionally with a Sprite Zero (not regular).

Am I weird? Yes. Never claimed to be normal.

What did you have for lunch? Makes you think, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Come and get me!

Phew. I think we are moving along with creating more computer storage space at our place. We got an external hard drive from Sam's Club on Sunday so we could back up and create space for Samuel's pictures.

In addition to creating more technical space, Matt has done an excellent job creating more play space for Sam! When we bought this place we were excited that there were two extra storage areas in the house...one of them right off of my creating room.

As of Sunday morning that space was filled with seasonal clothes, a drying rack and some other random things. Then came Sunday evening....while I was gone stamping at Jen's house I came home to a cleaned out room! The space is awesome for a little person...there are lights, a window, a heating/cooling vent and plenty of room to move around.

You see, Sam has become quite mobile. He is fast. Turn around and try to do something and he is making a bee line to the dog food bowl (his favorite) or right out of the room you are sitting in. Long gone are the days of sitting him down around his toys and leaving him there for a moment!

I took Sam up to the room yesterday to see what he thought. He loved it!! He crawled around and expected me to chase him. Then he crawled over to the book shelf that had books that he could touch! Check out his excitement. Sam's going to have a play room - and I will be able to contain him when necessary. :)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

Friday, September 28, 2007

What I have...

Since I am afraid to load anything else onto my already full computer I will share things that I haven't shared yet - even though they may not be recent.

I love this picture of Matt and Sam...I don't know exactly why, but I love the way Matt is looking down at him. And Sam with his swollen eyes and wild sleepy hair just all over the place. That was Saturday morning at our place.

Happy Friday to everyone and I can't wait to share more of my weekend later on...

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ding Dong

The doorbell is out too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sam, Sam, Sam

Sam before Olivia's Party

I have recently had demands for more Sam. I don't blame you...I have more than this, but I am waiting to post because we are having computer issues at our house. Actually, we are having more than computer issues. Lots of issues such as:
  • Refrigerator out of service for 1 month so far. No ice, no cold. Thank God we have an extra fridge in the garage.
  • Air conditioning out on my Isuzu along with funny extra noises.
  • Key fobber on the Maxx is out - batteries do not fix the problem.
  • Old computer is full on memory.
  • New computer is being sent back to Dell because it's broken and won't start.
  • Projector TV out for over a month (this is where we watch any TV in this house...do you know that Fall shows are premiering this week!?!?) Sent it back to the manufacturer for the second time already.

Enough of that. Roll with the punches is my motto!

By the way, I am definitely an analytical person. Sometimes I over analyze things. So that's why I was thinking about that post that apologizes for the me, me, me...But really. Aren't blogs about what you are up to??? So I understand that in some way that didn't make sense.

The reason I blog is to give family and friends insight into what I am up to since I am not near many of you and sometimes life is so busy it's hard to tell each and every one of you about what's up in person...So, I hope you get some enjoyment out of reading and seeing the pictures of what's up in my life. I hope I have kept the me, me, me in check. But I can't help that you will run into me here! Ha.

Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Thank you!

I am behind on many thank yous. I hate that...I don't ever want people to think that I don't appreciate their kind gestures!

Here is the series of cards I made for my most recent thanks.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I made a card yesterday, but the background I used to take a picture made it a bit boring looking...sort of washed out. I decided to share it anyway, because I know some people might find it interesting....

The card was for Olivia Lown's first birthday! Sam is getting invited to birthday parties and I think it's so cute! I am looking forward to planning his big day when it gets here in January. My little pumpkin is going to turn one in a few months...I can't believe it! I know, I know. I sound like a mom. Weird.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

shower card

I forgot to show you the card I made for the shower last weekend...Here it is!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and get much accomplished...

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Baby Cold

Everyone in our house has a cold now, except for Simba, that is. She seems to be left out of a lot these days...poor dog. We love her still, but Sam is a handful and Simba is fully trained. Don't they say that the good children always get the least attention? I digress...

So Sam woke up barely breathing through his nose...but still happy and just fine. He is playing and talking - ate his oatmeal with peaches and everything. Does that look like the face of a baby cold? I think he's handling it well!

So we will just go on with life at a bit of a slower pace. No running for mom today - maybe the evening. We will see...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Baby Shower!

Christy's family had a shower this weekend for baby Sophia who is almost here!

In addition to making her a nursing blanket exactly like the one I made for Renee, I also made a couple of burp cloths and cards for her to use as thank yous.

Is posting about my creations about me? Does that count? Because Sam is with me most of the time and he is involved too. ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I know that I have been a bit slow to post these days...just trying to get back into our life routine at home after being away so long!

Well, it's been a while since you have seen Sam. Have I been talking about myself this whole time? Hmm. I should monitor that. No more me, me, me...

I just got these shots of Sam today as he was preparing to eat dinner. I just love his face - drool and mocos included (for those of you who don't know Spanish slang, that's boogers).

I wanted to share. Here he is. I love that guy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A different kind of challenge...

Many of you have asked me how the Chicago Half Marathon went for me. I was soo excited to run this race! Christy, Melanie and I trained for 17 weeks to prepare for the event and it was my first half marathon.

So here is the story of my race: Saturday night Matt and I stayed at a hotel downtown and went out to dinner with our good friends Kelly and Brian Jackson. We decided to go to Carmine's, an Italian restaurant in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. It was a wonderful dinner. We had the best olive oil and Parmesan cheese with bread before dinner and I ordered a penne with meatballs as my main course. We even enjoyed dessert, although I must say that I tasted Kelly's cheesecake and hers was better than mine...

We went to bed early Saturday night and woke up at 5:45 a.m. so I could get ready and get down to the Museum of Science and Industry campus where the race was scheduled to start and finish. Matt went to pick up Sam, my mom, Titi Cucha and Benjamin.

My cab driver got me to the race site just fine and so I went to meet up with Christy and Melanie. We found each other and were just so excited to get started with our race. I decided to go to the bathroom before the race and joined the lines of hundreds of people who were waiting at the port a pottys that were lined up for the runners. It was about that time that my stomach started to rumble. Ooh. Nerves? Maybe. I wrote it off and decided to start the race with Christy, but told her that I wasn't sure how I would be because my stomach was starting to get crampy.

Christy and I lined up and started the race with the group scheduled to run at about a 10:30 mile pace. I started my stop watch as soon as we crossed the starting line. No less than 3 minutes into our run I HAD to stop because my stomach was again rebelling. I told Christy to go on without me and actually managed to run across the flow of runners who were still starting their race. I had to make it to the nearest port a potty.

I called Matt and Ben to tell them that I was sick and didn't think I could do the race. They offered to bring me stomach medicine because at this point they were still on their way to the race. I was feeling sick, my stomach was crampy, and I was in tears. I was so disappointed that I had trained and was so excited for this event and here I was at the end of the race line.

I will admit that I had many negative thoughts. Embarrassed to come back and tell my family and friends that I didn't meet my goal. Disappointed. Oh. And I had this crushed pride about being at the end of the race with people who were in the just starting the race and they were already just walking!

Don't get me wrong.I admire anyone who gets out there and exercises, joins an event and goes for it. But, I knew I could do better than that and I trained for that exact reason. I wanted to run the best race I could. Believe me, I am not a really fast runner by any stretch. Just average, and I wanted to run this race in about 2 hours and 17 minutes (10:30 minute mile pace). There I was barely running at the back of the race.

Matt called to check on me. I explained that I didn't even think that I made it past 1 mile at that point. One of the walkers said, No - we had just passed the 2 mile marker. I kept running.

I found Ben at the 4 mile marker - thank God I brought my cell phone with me. I had made a total of 3 bathroom stops by then. I was crying at this point...and just felt so sick and that I couldn't finish the race.

Ben and Matt got me medicine and water, and then insisted that I go on. They encouraged me SO MUCH by saying that I couldn't stop and that I had to go even as I sat there unsure if I could make it. I agreed to go - and figured that if I felt sick or weak that I would just walk the rest of the way. If I passed out from dehydration there were ambulances waiting for just that occurrence. An hour had passed and I started running at the 4 mile marker.

As I started to run, the cramps came and went. I decided to just keep running. I passed my mom and Titi Cucha along Lake Shore Drive. It was so encouraging to just slowly move up towards the runners. Slowly, but surely I started to pass walkers, and runners and just kept running along. I took Gatorade Endurance Formula and/or water at every water stop.

As I ran along, I was thinking of this awesome new song by Kanye West - Stronger (CLICK on this one. It's a great song!) "That, that, that, that don't kill me, can only make me stronger." And then, I started getting deep...what was I supposed to learn from this experience now? Is God reminding me that I am not invincible?

What did I learn? To be thankful and persistent no matter what. Really! I started to just be thankful that I could be running, period. When you run a race this large, you start to see all kinds of people. People with Cerebral Palsy running a marathon. People limping with hurting knees and feet. I realized that no matter what that I should work to do my best and complete this race under the circumstances that I found myself in.

Matt and Ben sent a text message to tell me to look for them at mile marker 9. I passed mile 9 and didn't see them there. I called and they said that they were after 10 now. But after passing that 9 mile marker I realized it - I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT!!!

I ran all the way to the finish line (walking as I grabbed my fluids along the way). My official finishing time was 2:40:46.

So...I finished. It was not the challenge I expected - it was a different kind of challenge. I am thankful for the experience and so happy I finished the race.

Now I am looking for another Half Marathon race. I will eat crackers and water the night before and am just aching to see how I do under "normal" challenges. ; ) (No more olive oil!!)

MANY Thanks to my supportive husband and brother who pushed me when I wanted to quit. Love and hugs to you!

And thank you God for teaching me something new.

Hebrews 12:1
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

I Corinthians 9:24
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.