Sunday, December 28

30 looks the same as 29

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At least so far. :)

Friday night Mike gathered our neighbors for some delicious cookie cake, always my choice in cakes.

Saturday morning we got up and headed to Golden Corral for a birthday brunch buffet with the Maddexes. One of the things I love is a breakfast buffet. I hate having to decide what to eat for breakfast. Buffets allow me to have a taste of everything, which is what I love. It was Laurie's idea, so thanks for thinking of me and knowing me so well! :)

And here are the long-awaited pics of Mike & I on our date night.

What do you think of the dress and boots? I had a long jacket (but not a short enough skirt, if you know what I mean) in black to go over it and I was not at all cold uptown.

Dinner was awesome. If you have never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, you should go. There were 16 kinds of meat, and that is not an exaggeration. You sit down and can immediately eat from the salad bar stuff like fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, smoked salmon, creamy vegetable soup, and tabouleh. Then the meat starts coming around. The "gauchos" have the different kinds on long skewers and they just slice off small portions onto your plate. I ate Parmesan pork loin, garlic tenderloin, salmon, leg of lamb, prime rib, top sirloin, and the butteriest filet mignon I have ever had. They even served me a tiramisu-style cake because it was my birthday. Mike and I were in pain just a bit when we left because of the vast quantities of food we consumed.

Then we headed to the movie theater. They actually card at the theater because after 7pm it becomes over 21. Inside the theater is a restaurant and 2 bars. You can bring any of the food and your drinks into the theater. I had a pomegranite martini while watching the movie. The seats were in sets of two together with no armrest between and they were extra-wide and cushy. Each set of two seats had a little table on either side for your drinks and food. AND the seats were assigned, you chose them when bought the tickets.

After the show, we walked around the complex. There is a Howl at the Moon in there and a dance club called Whiskey River. We felt like we were in college again just being there. My boots, while pretty comfy, were not made for dancing so we didn't hit up the club. BUT we want to go back sometime. Anybody up for visiting and dancing?

On the train back, we each received a $50 ticket for not having a train ticket in our possession. Mike claims that he was under the impression his bus pass would also work for the train, but the officers were not under the same impression. Ahhh, well. Still all in all a fabulous birthday.

Friday, December 26

Day before the big day

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Mike decided to count today as part of my birthday weekend so we headed off to do some shopping at my request. I wanted to find a winter dress. All of the dresses I have are for warmer weather. It sucks when you have something specific in mind because it is really hard to find what you are looking for. Eventually I was about to find exactly what I wanted at Penney's for 40% off!

We are headed to Chima Brazilian Steakhouse tomorrow night for my birthday dinner and then to a movie at the Epicentre Theaters in Uptown. I am so psyched to wear my new dress for a night on the town. I will post a picture of me in my new dress after my big night out.

My dad and step-mom arrived today. I LOVE when my dad is here because we cook all kinds of stuff together and plan menus and go to the grocery together every day. It's like a little bit of heaven for me. About an hour after they arrived, my dad couldn't stand it anymore and made us all open our presents. The living room exploded yet again with paper and toys and clothes. My kids got a RIDICULOUS haul this year and I don't see it slowing down in future years. They are lucky enough to have 3 sets of grandparents and two holidays at the same time of year to celebrate. I don't think they will ever want for ANYTHING.

I was just thinking, yet again, about how it sucks to have your birthday so close to Christmas (hear me, Tiff and Christina?). Basically I get all the presents I am going to get all year in 3 days, then I have to wait an ENTIRE year for it to happen again. Mike and my girls have a much better deal, all of their birthdays are closer to the halfway point. It is nice to get presents at different times of year. Oh well, I have lived with it for 30 years now, I guess I will continue to deal. :)

Thursday, December 25

Last few days

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Here are some photos from the last few days here in the Gallers household:

Grammy & her birthday cupcakes

Check out this pose!

Erin reading her morning paper

Price check, aisle 12

All the girls in Uptown

Leah as Ariel and Erin as Mickey (from Aunt Stacy)

Leah & Grammy with their gingerbread house

Carly with her "big towel"

In the wagon they got from Grammy

Girls enjoying their new train table

Leah enjoying Christmas morning chocolate

We had an awesome time with Mom, Lauren, and Carly here. I hope they enjoyed themselves as much as we enjoyed having them. It was so nice to actually kinda "get to know" my sisters a bit. Now we have a small breather before PawPaw and Mimi get here tomorrow night.

Merry Christmas!

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Santa was very good to us this year. Leah and Erin got a train table (built by Daddy, shhhhh) AND a Jump-o-lene. What is that, you ask? Well, here it is in action:


Leah also got a kids' digital camera from Grammy, a Belle tea set from Aunt Carly, and the book Polar Express from Aunt Lauren (a family favorite).

We have eaten Berry French Toast and leftover brisket so far today. I am not cooking again until my dad gets here tomorrow night. He and I will decide the menu together for the next week (one of the things we always look forward to).

I gave Mike Wii Music and he got Raving Rabbids from Lauren. Wii Music is pretty fun, except I am apparently horrible at handbells. Who knew? :) And the Rabbids game is ridiculous. It consists of various activities like flipping burgers into the mouth of a monster and dancing to Austin Powers-type music. It is hilarious to watch.

We are having a relaxing day, just taking walks with our new wagon, playing Wii, and jumping. Hope you all got what you wanted from Santa!

Wednesday, December 24

Odds & Ends

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I took Erin to the doctor yesterday because I did not want to have to bring her to the emergency room on Christmas if something was wrong. I am SO glad I did, because she has a double ear infection, poor thing. Mike kept telling me he thought she had one, but I didn't think so because she has never really had one before. Anyway, she is on amoxicillin now and will be back to her usual self by Christmas.

Last night I went with Mike for the first time to play volleyball at this church where they have pick up games every Tues/Thurs. Now I have not played volleyball in YEARS except to bump back and forth with Mike so I was quite nervous about how I would perform in front a bunch of strangers. But I actually did pretty well. Obviously I am not a hitter (no height, duh) BUT I can put a pass in the right place to set up a hit probably 8 out of 10 times. And all my serves went over. AND someone asked Mike who the college girl was that he brought. COLLEGE GIRL!!! No one would believe we were married. I guess I have not aged a day since I graduated, which is starting to be a good thing in my old (30 in 3 days) age.

Today I am cooking a Christmas eve early afternoon dinner, then the kids are going to open their presents from Grammy and their aunts, THEN we are going to take a ride and look at Christmas lights. What a lovely Christmas eve! I hope all of you have a lovely day too.

Tuesday, December 23

Oh my God, PLEASE stop the coughing!

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My two girls are currently coughing fiends at night. They are in the middle of a raging cold and the drainage is awful. BOTH of them have coughing fits that last upwards of an hour at night. Thank goodness lately Leah's have been coming AFTER she wakes up in the morning, but Erin's came last night RIGHT after I had finally dropped off to sleep at 12:30. She cried and cried while coughing, so I went in and rocked her during which she promptly fell asleep. This happened 4 more times over a 2 hour period. Then when Leah wandered in at 7am, she laid in our bed and hacked up a lung for like 20 minutes. Over the monitor I could hear Erin start in too and all I could think was, Oh sweet Jesus, please save me from the coughing.

Sunday, December 21

One meal down, one to go

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Channukah dinner is complete and mostly a success. I tried to make it as vegan/vegetarian as possible so I used an egg replacement for the latkes and to make the matzo balls. The latkes came out well. The matzo balls not so much. While they were cooking they pretty much imploded. So the soup ended up being more like a stoup (a la Rachael Ray), but it still tasted good. I decided to make the green beans today instead because Lauren wants to make brussel sprouts. The brisket was a tad dry but if you poured the juices over it, it was yummy. So check, check, and check. :)

Friday, December 19

Bridesmatron?

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My sister Brittany just got engaged to a wonderful man named Jimmy. We are SO excited for him to be a part of our family. Check this out:

He fits right in. Anyway, Brittany just called me and asked me to be a bridesmaid in the wedding (which is set for January 16, 2010) AND asked the girls to be her flower girls! How cute is that?!?!? I am so excited to be part of planning another wedding and my girls get to be part of it too. What a great Christmas present for us.

Love you to the mountains, sis!

Leah revisited

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I think Erin has the same problem Leah had (and has). Whenever either of them get a cold, they have GIANT coughing fits in the middle of the night. The past 4 or so nights almost always at about 3:30am, Erin wakes herself up violently coughing. Good thing it does not make her throw up like it does Leah. Tonight I tried the steamy shower thing and it seemed to help. Last night I tried taking her out into the night air, which did NOT help. It just seems like the coughing runs its course with the cold.

I know we all thought Leah had cough-variant asthma, and I guess she may, but it only surfaces when she has a cold. So it didn't seem like it was necessary to keep her on daily medication just on the off chance she caught a cold. And anyway it didn't prevent the coughing completely, it just lessened the severity of the attack. I really feel Erin has the same issue.

Leah has been coughing some the last few nights too, but not nearly as bad as Erin. Maybe the cold isn't as bad or maybe she is outgrowing it a bit. Here's hoping...

Thursday, December 18

Cupcakes, cupcakes, and MORE cupcakes!

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I am FINALLY finished my cupcake platters and we delivered them this evening. I have one more kind to make, a vegan one, for my sister who arrives tomorrow. And I have to make rugelach on Saturday. But those are my last two baked goods this holiday season. Oh wait, I forgot about the butter balls we are going to make with my mom. Maybe I will just "let" her make them with Leah. :) Anyway, here are the promised cupcake pictures.

Left: Gingerbread cupcakes with ginger cream cheese frosting
Right: Eggnog cupcakes with cinnamon whipped cream

Peppermint cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream frosting

Spice cupcakes with coconut pecan frosting

Wednesday, December 17

I am the bomb

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Today I was super mom. Things I did:

washed, dried, folded and put away every piece of laundry in our house
mopped all the bathrooms and laundry room
scooped kitty litter and took all the trash to the curb
dropped Leah off at school, came home and made her lunch (that I forgot to make), & brought it back to her
made 3 batches of cupcakes (gingerbread, eggnog, and peppermint)
made ginger cream cheese frosting and frosted gingerbread cupcakes
decorated gingerbread cupcakes
washed mixing bowl, beater, and various cooking utensils 4 times
straightened up guest room and made the bed with clean sheets
fed everyone, dressed them, undressed them, changed them, etc.
played a good amount with my kids

Thank goodness today was Leah's lunch bunch at school. That extra hour (when I can get Erin to nap) is SO helpful. I really get things done during that time so I can interact more with Leah when she gets home.

I am gonna make white chocolate buttercream frosting for the peppermint cupcakes and frost them tonight. Tomorrow I will make the spice cupcakes with coconut pecan frosting and I have the cinnamon whipped cream for the eggnog cupcakes. Then I will take pictures of all the completed cupcakes.

Monday, December 15

Last minute swimming training

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Our pool is closing for refinishing from Dec 17-31. Mike was none too pleased about it and of course he made some calls and let them know it. Anyway, we only had two days left to swim so I had to bust it out today. For the first time since I started training, I swam the 500 yards straight without stopping to catch my breath. Then I did some backstroke and sidestroke for 200 yards. Then I swam 300 more yards freestyle to finish it up. I was so impressed that I was able to swim 1000 yards in 29 minutes! It feels so good to see improvement, that's what keeps you going.

I am running around like a headless chicken this week trying to get all of the items for my cupcake platter, Leah's gingerbread house building activity at school, her school party, Channukah dinner, a few vegan things for my sister to eat when they come on Friday, a few last minute presents, and still getting to the gym. While this week is not packed schedule-wise, I feel like I have a million places to go and things to get everyday. I know it will all work out but I am a wee bit stressed. When my mom and sisters finally get here in 4 days, I will be able to let it all go and just hang out.

Friday, December 12

I (heart) food

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I am addicted to meal planning and cooking elaborate dinners for special occasions. Today I have spent 1/2 the morning coming up with my menus for Channukah and Christmas Eve dinners. Here is what we are having:

Channukah dinner
matzo ball soup
20 clove brisket
latkes
vegan noodle kugel
baked cheese blintzes
homemade rugelach

Christmas Eve dinner
Christmas Cornish game hens
creamy spaghetti & beans
baked zucchini, potato, & rosemary pancake w/salmon cream cheese
garlic green beans w/ shallots & hazelnuts
fudge & butter balls

And for Christmas morning breakfast, I am premaking my Berry French Toast to pop into the oven when we get up.

I am also planning to make a cupcake platter next week for Mike to take to work. I will blog about those more with photos when I make them. Hi, my name is Angelle and I have a food obsession.

PS If you would like any of the recipes not linked, just let me know.

Sickie update

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Yesterday, for a combination of reasons I won't get into too much right now, we went house hunting in northwest Charlotte. I picked Mike up at noon and we headed over there. We looked at 7 houses. Leah was great, she loved seeing other people's houses. But my poor, poor Erin. At about the 4th house, she was DONE! She had not napped yet (she only slept 5 minutes in the car) and I think she was starting to get a fever. By the time we got home at 4pm, her fever was 103.5 and she went straight to sleep. She woke up at 12:30 and 2:30 crying but went right back to sleep, thank goodness. This morning, no fever. She seems happy and is eating a little bit.

Ahhh, house hunting. We are still unsure of where to look because Mike is debating on taking a new job. If he takes said job, we don't have to move right now because it is closer to home. We could then wait until we had enough money to actually get a boat before we move. But if he doesn't take that job, he feels really strongly about moving us closer to the city so that he has more time with the girls. We shall see, I guess...

Wednesday, December 10

Conjunctivitis

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Erin has pink eye. Don't know how she got it, probably from the gym day care. She was awake last night from 12-1:30 talking to herself. She never cried, just chatted away. So she is kinda cranky today. She is not pleased about the antibiotic drops for her eyes either. Erin has so rarely been sick that she doesn't even know how to act when the doctor checks her out. Leah had been to the doctor for sick visits so many times by this point in her life. Erin has only had one stomach bug, 2 or 3 colds, and that's it. She is one healthy little girl.

Tuesday, December 9

A weekend in pictures

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Here are our Gator girls getting ready for bed after our big win over Alabama. I love that the girls stand on the stool and brush their teeth together at night.

Mike and Stacy helped Leah and Landon make these menorahs out of letter blocks and washers. They said that they made ones like these as kids. Can't wait to use them!

These are their funny faces. I LOVE these sweaters I got them at Old Navy this weekend. Adorable!

This is Erin's dirty look. I am telling you, this child has a better evil eye than most. I guess Mike had told her is was time to go to bed.

Sunday, December 7

SEC Champs!

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Stacy & Landon came to visit us this weekend. On Saturday, we shopped at Old Navy (I got 6 shirts, including two sweaters for $95!), ate lunch at Five Guys, went to the gym, watched the Gators take the SEC title, and Stacy & I saw Twilight. Now that was a fun day. Erin did lots of cheering.

Friday, December 5

Meeting celebrities

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Last night we got a babysitter and I met Mike at Village Tavern for the 12 Wines of Christmas tasting event sponsored by a local radio station. As we sat in the bar waiting for the event to begin (we heard it started at 5, but it didn't really start until 6), we looked around at all of the people in their 20s having martinis after work (1/2 off on Thursdays!) and were so excited just to be there. I wanted to have a martini so bad, but I knew that I had to drive home and I still had 12 wines to taste. I only ended up tasting like 4 or 5 of them, they weren't my taste. I did like the pinot noir though which was surprising.

Anyway, I don't know how many of you have heard of Bob & Sheri from the radio. They have a morning show based out of Charlotte. I used to listen to them driving to my internship in Gainesville/Lake City in the fall of 1999. Then we moved to Tampa and didn't get their show anymore. When we moved to Charlotte and there they were again. So I have been listening a LONG time. When you listen that long, you kinda start to assume you know them. The wine tasting was their event, so they were there. Mike walked up to them halfway through the night and said, "I wonder when Bob & Sheri are gonna get here." :) They laughed and we talked to them for like 5 or so minutes. It's weird to talk to someone you know so much about, but they don't know you at all. It's kinda like stalking someone's blog, but they have never read yours.

That was our adventure for the night.

Tuesday, December 2

The aftermath

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Getting unpacked and back into your routine after a vacation is always tough. We currently have two suitcases that have exploded into out living room. I have no idea what I am making for dinner. I need to get to the gym sometime today. Right now my children are putting one thousand hairclips into their hair. The dishwasher is running AND the sink is still full of dishes. I did manage to go to Target this morning and buy Leah a lunch box to take to her "Lunch Bunch" at school tomorrow AND get toothbrushes for the girls since we threw out their old ones after that stomach bug last week.

I called my mom this morning and left a message asking her if she was interested in taking home a free 16 month old when she comes to visit us. I swear Erin has entered into the terrible twos already. She screams and whines about EVERYTHING. She spent almost 2 hours this morning fussing about EVERY little thing that happened to her, from diaper changes to eating to playing with toys. Ugh.