Friday, December 28, 2012

Xavier's First Yule


   We were excited to celebrate Xavier's first Yule which was the winter solstice on December 21st. We had a fun time decorating an outside Yule tree. We don't have any evergreens in our yard so we just did a regular tree. I strung popcorn and cranberries to go around the tree and Nick put peanut butter and birdseed on pine cones to put inside the tree for the animals and birds. Xavier had fun hanging outside with us and helping decorating the tree. 





   We then came inside and stayed warm while we read about Yule and lit our candles to symbolize our days getting longer again. It is always fun to celebrate new holidays with Xavier. I have to admit that sometimes I like the simplicity of our pagan holidays much more then other holidays. It seems like many other holidays have so much "stuff" and "things to do" that the pureness of the actual holiday and what it symbolizes are gone. We are doing new customs with our pagan holidays to be able to incorporate Xavier into them as much as possible. This makes them new and fun to us. I hope we are starting traditions that will always remind us of the reason for holidays not just the "stuff".


Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Infamous Christmas Card

   
    We have not done a Christmas card in a while. Actually as I write this I am not sure I have ever done a Christmas card. However, I love to get them. It is a nice way to know that our friends and family are thinking about us throughout the holiday season. Since we now have Xavier I really wanted to try to do a Christmas card. Especially since we never did birth announcements (we had our hands and wallets full with baby needs at the birth). So I thought this would be a great opportunity to get a good picture of Xavier to all our close friends and family.
    We really had great intentions. In October I was thinking about our Christmas card picture. I wanted us all in the matching red shirts. Our dog Vito with reindeer antlers on. Us in Santa hats. I could picture the whole thing in my mind. We are always on a budget so we would have to do the picture ourselves or have a friend volunteer. We even borrowed a friends' Santa suit to see if we could take a fun picture of us all in the Santa suit.
    October and November came and went and no picture. The entire month of November Xavier was ruthlessly teething and was always in a miserable mood and not feeling well. Vito, the dog hates wearing the reindeer antlers.  The extra strain of that plus the holidays plus normal everyday life made the idea of family photo day dwindle and dwindle. Not to mention getting us all in nice, clean outfits and bathed at the same time and in happy moods just was not working with our busy schedule.
   Finally one day I got fed up and decided I would at least try to get a good picture of Xavier for the Christmas card. So I put him in his Christmas outfit when he wasn't as grumpy, took out some Christmas props and took tons of photos. Out of all the photos I took that day only these three were really usable on a Christmas card...







   Although he still took some adorable and funny shots, Check out my blog post Christmas Photo Mess Ups for those shots. I decided on the middle picture for our Christmas card. We also decided to make the card say Happy Holidays since we celebrate Yule and Christmas and New Years and knew that many of our friends celebrate different holidays as well. So I uploaded the photo to CVS and made a card and got them all in an hour for an extremely reasonable price. I highly recommend using CVS for all your photo needs. We use them a lot for photos, cards, canvas prints, etc. So here is our Christmas/Holiday card we sent out!


    Needless to say I have learned my lesson this year and I will be prepared much better for next year. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Falcone's Italian Restaurant







       During the hustle and bustle of this holiday season Nick, Xavier and I were finishing up our last minute Christmas errands and decided to try a new place for lunch. We found this wonderful, new restaurant in the Leland, Waterford Shopping Center called, Falcone's Italian Restaurant. Since Nick and I both are Italian we are picky when it comes to Italian food but we are always looking for new restaurants especially here in Leland. I had heard good things about Falcone's from the North Brunswick Magazine. It is a nice, quaint restaurant which makes it easy to carry out, order just a sub or slice of pizza or sit down for a nice lunch or dinner. We opted to sit down. One of their specialties is the Sicilian pizza. It is one of Nick and my favorites but it is very hard to find cooked correctly. We ordered it with lots of veggies. Xavier loves vegetables. There is a little wait time for everything ordered because it is made fresh. We could actually see them making the pizza, which was fun to watch. When it came out and was served to us we were in heaven. Thank you Falcone's for finally making a correct Sicilian pizza! It was so delicious, the crust was cooked perfectly and you could really taste the freshness of all the ingredients.
     They were extremely friendly and nice, the place is very clean and easy to stop in while doing your shopping. They had a lovely waitress we enjoyed talking to as well. Falcone's has a very large menu of Italian favorites, including lots of pizzas, subs, seafood and pasta. One of their menu items that I particularly like and will definitely be taking advantage of is the "Overworked Mom Specials" which you order a head of time and pick up. They come with a half tray of an entree, two loaves of garlic bread, and a garden salad. They have many different entrees to pick in a $30, $35 or $40 price range and they all feed around 6 people. That is a great idea to offer especially since there are not a lot of take out or delivery places here in Leland.
   If you live in the Leland/Wilmington, NC area get out and visit Falcone's Italian Restaurant and get yourself a slice of Italian heaven!

Falcone's Italian Restaurant
2013 Old Regent Way
Leland, NC 28451
910-371-3442


Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.


If you have a business or product that you would like reviewed, feel free to send me an email at
ReneeArbia@yahoo.com. Local businesses in the Wilmington, NC area are encouraged to apply. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Story Time




    When you become a parent you will inevitably end up having certain goals or aspirations for your child. It's ok to admit it. We all really just want our kids to be happy and healthy but secretly you know you want your child to maybe find a cure for cancer, or be the next president or do something fantastic. Of course, why wouldn't they? They are YOUR child and they are spectacular! I have to admit I never had high goals for Xavier. Not that I do not think he is spectacular and can do anything he wants, but I have a belief that if I think of a goal for him I may be missing out on something spectacular he will think up for himself. So going into mommyhood, I really only had two goals for Xavier (other then the happy and healthy). I wanted to try to get him to be a good eater and a good reader. So far the eating is taking off, and I'm pretty sure that may not have been the best thing to hope for since my grocery bill is slowly sky rocketing. However, the other day he did something that melted my heart and made goal #2 a reality.



    If you know me at all you know that I am an avid and fierce reader. I have always read. I have worked in libraries, and I am a huge fan that knowledge is power and you can get that knowledge from books. I made a point to always bring this into Xavier's life. At my baby shower we had guests bring a book for Xavier with his present, which even now is still really special. I may not remember who gave us what outfits and baby items, but inscriptions on the inside of his books are read to Xavier every time they are opened and they remind us that we are loved and supported.
    We make a point to have books accessible all the time. We always read to him before bed, and before naptime. We also periodically read stories throughout the day. We take books along on trips as if they are toys and I put some books out everyday for Xavier to play with as well as toys. It was important to me for Xavier to see them as fun and always available not always right before sleeping.



    I have no idea how well my method was working until the other day. I was sitting in the chair on the laptop. (No doubt probably blogging). Xavier was playing on the floor in front of me. I noticed him playing with one of his books, which he normally does. Then, the next thing I knew the book was plopped in my lap and he was tugging on my leg to get up in my lap. "AWWWW" He wanted me to read him his book. Of course I scooped him up and we read the book together, (pretty much through tears that my son actually wanted to read) and he really seemed interested in the book. I could not have been prouder of Xavier. Even though I am with him every day, there are still certain things that wow you and take your breath away. I guess that is one of the many amazing things about being a parent.



On a different note, just to let you all know that this is my last blog post until Wednesday, December 26, 2012 due to our Yule and Christmas holiday. We are very excited to celebrate Xavier's first Yule and Christmas and don't worry there will be lots to share when we come back. I wish you all a Happy Yule and a Merry Christmas. I hope you spend the holidays with your friends and family and if you are traveling have safe travels.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole





     Lentils are a great thing to add into your diet. They are a good source of fiber, protein and folic acid. You can enjoy lentils as a side dish or in soups and casseroles. This is a great, cheap and easy to make casserole that you will love. Xavier even ate some (minus the cheese) and he loved it! Definitely my favorite way to cook, put all ingredients in a pan and pop in the oven. Little mess and easy to make. Try it out.

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole
Recipe courtesy of www.recipezzar.com


Ingredients
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 3/4 cup green or brown lentils
- 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
- 3/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese grated

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix all the ingredients, except the cheese, in an 11 x 7" baking dish.





Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese on the top.




 Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes. Serve hot 




Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: JVC GZ-EX210BU Wi-Fi HD Flash Memory Camcorder


    A very important thing when you have a baby is to make sure you have very good recording equipment. You need to have a nice and easy to use digital camera and video camera. Nick and I were lucky to have already had a nice digital camera that we knew how to use. (Well, he did I am still learning it). However, we were in need of a new video camera. Let's face it once your little one starts moving it's much easier to catch all those great moments on video then trying to get them to sit still for a still photograph.



    We picked up this brand new JVC GZ-EX210BU Wi-Fi HD Flash Memory Camcorder at Best Buy and we are loving every second of it. It has been a long time since I really have used/needed a camcorder. My husband loves them. However, since I have Xavier during the day it is up to me to catch many of the magical moments he has.



    I love this camcorder. It is by far the easiest camcorder I have ever used. It is extremely light weight. It feels like a toy. It records on SD cards which are perfect because we have a ton of them. It has an easy to use touch-screen and the software to edit the videos comes with it. What is also nice about this camera is it has Wi-Fi. Which is great because you can also use it as a security camera and you can remotely check in on it and use the zoom function. I can set it up to monitor the house while we are away and it can video it or even take a motion picture if the motion sensor goes off. It is always nice to have multiple uses for equipment.



   Here are some fo the JVC's features: 3" Touch-screen LCD display, K2 technology, manual focus, Konica Minolta HD lens, advance image stabilizer, Night recording, photo mode, Dolby Digital Sound, 40x/200x digital zoom, rechargeable lithium battery, HDMI and compostie A/V interfaces, Wi-Fi equipped and Everio MediaBrowser 4 software.



     The battery life on this camera is very good and the software that comes with it is very easy to use. The software is very basic and not a lot of neat things you can do with it, but it gets the job done and for the price of the camera I think it is sufficient software to get you started.
    As a busy mom I wanted a camera that I can grab and record and put videos online as quick as possible. This has allowed me to do just that. What used to take me weeks to covert everything now I am able to record and put online in a matter of minutes. (depending on how much editing I want to do). The lightweight makes it easy to fit in my purse or bring with us and have ready at a moment's notice. I highly recommend the JVC GZ-EX210BU Wi-Fi HD Flash Memory Camcorder, it is definitely a worth while investment to capture your magical family memories.


Here are a couple of videos that we took with this camcorder.




You can purchase your own JVC GZ-EX210BU Wi-Fi HD Flash Memory Camcorders at Best Buy
 www.BestBuy.com for around $239.99 or at other retailers


Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.



If you would like me to do a review of your product or service feel free to send me an email at
ReneeArbia@yahoo.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Black Bean and Kale Quesadillas




   I love Mexican food there is so many great variations you can do to it and all of the dishes are so easy to make. I got this recipe from this month's Kiwi Magazine (it's a kid/parenting magazine). We tried it out last night and it is so yummy and filling and a definite keeper for our family. This is a great new twist to quesadillas

Black Bean and Kale Quesadillas
  There is not a lot of pictures with this because I have a Quesadilla maker so I just put the ingredients in and they are done. However, I put the original recipe that shows you how to make in a skillet if you do not have the quesadilla maker. 


Ingredients
- 1 15 ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup jarred salsa, plus more for serving
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 cup steamed kale, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- juice of 1 lime
- 4 large corn tortillas
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

For dipping,
greek yogurt, chives, salsa

Directions
  In a large bowl, combine the beans, salsa, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, kale, salt, pepper, chili powder, and lime juice.



Mash with a fork until smooth. Spread 1/2 cup of the bean mixture onto half of each tortilla. Sprinkle each with 1/4 cup cheese. Spray a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Fold each tortilla in half and place in the prepared skillet, one at a time. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning to brown both sides and melt the cheese. Transfer the quesadillas to a plate and slice each into four triangles. Serve with yogurt, salsa and chives. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Christmas Tree


      We have been very excited this holiday season to be able to share the holidays with Xavier. Children really do make you appreciate the small things so much more. It has very neat to watch Xavier's expressions on different holiday things, such as Santa (he does not like him), and the Christmas tree which he likes but is still timid around. 
      Nick and I actually decorated the house one night while Xavier was in bed. We thought it was much easier to do without worrying about him getting into all the hooks and ornaments. So we quickly decorated and cleaned before he woke up the next morning. The next morning the expression on Xavier's face that there is a tree in his house was priceless. He just kept looking at it and you could see the wonderment on his face. 



    Since the tree has been up Xavier has been checking it out little by little everyday. I hold him a lot and we look at the tree together. I have encouraged him to touch the tree a little. (I know I will regret that next year when he is a toddler pulling down the tree). It is funny because he will reach out and ever so lightly touch the tree and pull his hand back very quickly. As if he is afraid it may bite him. However, his curiosity always wins because he always tries again to touch it. He just started touching ornaments and lights. Now, every time I am holding him and we walk past the tree he wants to touch it. He is still timid at touching it, but you can see he gets braver and braver each time. 



   It is amazing to see how much children progress in such a short time. Although I am not sure how much of this Christmas he will fully understand I still look forward to what he is going to think of everything and how he is going to react. He never seems to disappoint. 
     I hope you all are holding your little ones a little bit tighter and are having a wonderful holiday season so far. 



Friday, December 14, 2012

Sleepy-boy

     This is another cute poem from our favorite book, Good Morning, Sweetie Pie And Other Poems for Little Children By Cynthia Rylant. I hope you are all enjoying your holiday season and have a great weekend.


Sleepy-boy
"Time for bed,"
says Mama-dear,
who picks up Sleepy-boy.
She finds his favorite blanket
and his favorite
sleeping toy.
She puts him
in his jammies
and she carries him to bed.
Then covers him
with little stars
and kisses his sweet head.
She turns his little
moon-light on
and lines up every bear.
She puts the horse
and donkey in
the stable that they share.
Now animals and boys
can sleep safe the whole night through.
'Cause Mama's watching over them...
that's what mamas do. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roaming Free




    One of the things I now love to do with Xavier that he is crawling is let him roam free. The majority of the time I make a "furniture playpen". I actually have a gate to put around everything but Xavier hates it, I think he can tell he is stuck in it too easily and frankly it's too hard for me to pick him up out of so instead I arrange our couch, loveseat, ottoman and chair into a square with his play mat on the floor and he plays there. He can escape but they are small holes so he has to be very motivated to. I love to let him out of the "furniture playpen" and just see where he goes and what he looks at.




    You would be surprised what your baby finds interesting and fun. I think that is exactly where that saying "through the eyes of a child" comes from. Xavier loves shoes. If he finds my or Nick's shoes it is always the first thing he picks up and plays with. He gets very excited to be roaming around the house and discovering things. It is especially helpful on rainy days if we do not get to get out of the house this provides entertainment for him that is fun and he enjoys it. I just am on High Alert for anything he gets into. We have baby proofed our house for the most part now but we were slack in rooms we could close the door to so if I let him in those rooms I am extra careful.



   These pictures I took last night. We let Xavier roam around in the kitchen. After dinner was all over him we took off his clothes and he had a little while before bath time so we let him roam free in the kitchen for a little while. He really seemed to enjoy the linoleum floor the best. It is amazing the simple joys your kids teach you to appreciate in life.








Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Imaginarium Alphabet & Numbers Foam Puzzle Mat 36 piece




     While shopping at Toys R Us this week and taking advantage of a great sale of diapers we saw these Imaginarium Alphabet and Numbers Foam Puzzle Mat 36 pieces on sale. We were given a small mat similar to this as a hand-me-down when Xavier was born. He and I really liked it. These foam mats come in very handy if you have pets. We have a dog and two cats. There is no possible way that I can vacuum as much as I would prefer and Xavier always plays right where we always walk and the pets play so with him crawling I try to keep it as neat as possible. The mat comes in handy. As I pull it out and put it on the floor and put Xavier and his toys on it. The small mat worked for a while until he started moving. It was only nine squares and it was not very colorful and did not have any numbers or letters on it. I went back to just constant vacuuming until seeing this. We got it right away and laid it out on the floor. You can set the pieces any way you would like we set it up just regular to try it out.

                                                        just the letters with no numbers yet

 The 36 pieces were great! It took up a lot of space but gives Xavier plenty of room to play and move around safely. I love how colorful it is. The numbers and letters can come out of the puzzle pieces to play with as well. We had a lot of fun showing the letters and numbers to Xavier.

                                                             without the borders


                                                             with the borders

    What is also nice about this puzzle mat is it also comes with border pieces to put along the edge. I will admit I do not use these on a daily basis as putting them on and picking them up would be extra work, but it makes the mat look much prettier and if you leave it out in a playroom or something all the time I would definitely put the borders on. I highly recommend the Imaginarium Alphabet and Numbers Foam Puzzle Mat 36 pieces. It has so many uses, we use it as a mat, but it is a fun puzzle you can put together, it makes cubes and blocks, and it is a wonderful way to help your child learn numbers and letters. It is recommended for 2 years old and older. As a mat though I did not find any problems with Xavier playing on it. As the foam is very durable. However, if your baby is a "chewer" you may need to be careful with the foam.

You can purchase your own Imaginarium Alphabet & Numbers Foam Puzzle Mat 36 pieces at

Toys R US
www.toysrus.com 

for only $24.99 regularly priced




Disclosure
   No products,compensation or services were given to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC guidelines.



If you would like me to do a review of your product or service feel free to send me an email at
ReneeArbia@yahoo.com


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Good Morning Sweetie Pie



  We got this book from Nick's sister, Marianne and it has the cutest poems in it and pictures. Xavier loves it. I thought this was a cute poem to put up. Hope you all enjoy it!

This poem is from the book, Good Morning Sweetie Pie And Other Poems for Little Children By Cythia Rylant and Illustrated by Jane Dyer

Good Morning, Sweetie Pie
When the birds begin their singing
and the sun begins its sunning 
and the morning glories
open up all blue...
there's a mama or a papa
or a gramma somewhere saying:
"Good morning, Sweetie Pie,
how are you?"

And a child is slowly waking,
slowly taking his sweet time,
he's been flying in his dreams
the whole night through.
But his little ears hear someone
and he knows it's someone dear
who is saying: "Morning, Honey,
I love you."

There's a kiss upon a finger
and another on the nose
and a tickle on some tiny baby feet.
There's a wiggle under covers
and a giggle in the dark
and an "Oh, Cutie Dumpling, you're so sweet!"

And a child is peeking out now
on this warm and yellow day,
he is peeking at the dear one by his bed.
It is Mama or it's Papa,
maybe Gramma come to visit,
saying, "Where's that little Apple Sleepyhead?"

And the sleepyhead is up now,
he is rubbing sleepy eyes,
he is yawning big and stretching out his toes.
And his mama or his papa
or his gramma-come-to-visit
tells him, "Let's get us some cruncy Oaty-O's!"

So the child comes into morning
where the birds are gently singing
and the glories are still
blooming in the sun.
And he sits up at the table
with his dear one right beside him
who is saying:
"Morning, Angel, you're my One."

And then Sweetie eats his breakfast
while the dear one calls him "Sugar"
and a puppy licks
his little baby toes.
It is morning in the kitchen
and there's nothing could be better
than a dear one
and some cruncy Oaty-O's. 
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Xavier Loves Pita Delite


  It is no secret for anyone who knows me that one of my favorite restaurants is Pita Delite. They have delicious Mediterranean food. We are frequent visitors. I especially loved Pita Delite when I was pregnant. I ate their hummus pita multiple times a week. It got to the point that when I would walk in they would start making me two hummus pitas one to eat and one to go for later. When Xavier was born they even gave me a free hummus pita as a congratulations. He has since frequented the restaurant many times with us. However, Friday was the first day Xavier got to eat at Pita Delite with us. Of course I ordered him his own side order of hummus and pita bread. He loves going out to eat no matter where we are the sights, sounds and smells just make him overjoyed but the hummus he really loved eating as well. He would get a spoonful, swallow and get all excited until we gave him another spoonful. The pita he liked as well, but the consistency was a little hard for him to swallow since he has no teeth yet so we will probably hold off on the pita until he gets his teeth but the hummus is definitely going to be something he gets to eat more often.

If you live in Wilmington stop by, they have two locations one in Monkey Junction and one on South College.
www.pitadelite.com

Pita Delite Monkey Junction
5916 Carolina Beach Rd.
Wilmington, NC  28412
Phone: (910) 799-6692
Fax: (910) 799-6693
(Mon-Sat 10:30 am - 9:00 pm)
(Sunday 11 am - 8 pm)
Pita Delite Wilmington
317-B S. College Rd.
Wilmington, NC  27403
Phone: (910) 392-0028
Fax: (910) 392-0048
(Mon-Sat 10:30 am - 9:30 pm)
(Sunday 11 am - 8 pm)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Photo Mess Ups


   I have been trying to get a good Christmas card picture with Xavier. However, lately he has been teething and very grumpy combine that with our busy schedules and we still do not have a picture to put on our Christmas card. So yesterday I decided to try to get a good picture of at least Xavier if not all of us. I took out the Christmas props and dressed him all up and I got not even one really good photo. He was not having a good day so no real smiles and most of the props (especially the nutcrackers) he loved playing with. Even though we will have to try again for our Christmas picture I did think Xavier had some funny out take photos that were cute, so thought I would post some Christmas Mess Up photos for you to enjoy!











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