Lights All Aglow


Baking cookies, visiting Santa, decorating the tree, finding “Jerry the Elf” each morning . . . .all of these things have been so much more fun with Joe this year. He’s still not 100% sure what its all about, but he seems to be full of enthusiasm and delights in everything having to do with Christmas. I’m still looking forward to taking him to see the lights and decorations one night, taking him to church and singing Christmas carols, and taking him sledding (weather permitting). Oh, and of course, seeing his face on Christmas morning.

Joseph 2.9


What a busy month! I had a ton of fun at Thanksgiving. Grandma Cathy came to visit for the week, so we had a great time playing and reading books together. Thanksgiving was awesome because all my favorite people were there! I think I had more fun playing with Luke and Grandpa that eating, but Grandma, Auntie Roz and Auntie Ashley made sure I got plenty of treats so I was just as stuffed at the turkey. IMG_5856.JPG

I’m really excited for Christmas this year! I love decorating the tree (every day) and looking at the lights. We even have our very own elf, Jerry, staying with us!  Mom and I have been baking cookies and watching Rudolf a lot! I am getting more and more excited about Santa and Christmas every day!IMG_5876.JPG

Now that the weather isn’t the best to go outside, I’ve really been having fun playing with play dough, painting, coloring, and doing other crafts with Mom. We also go down in the basement and make obstacle courses, play ball, and spend a lot of time playing with my trains. Daddy and I have fun wrestling and chasing each other and playing “rocket ship” too. IMG_5864.JPGI’m REALLY looking forward to the holidays! Hopefully, it will snow. I want to sled and make a snow man so bad!!




Sometimes the littlest thing in life bring you happiness. I am a list maker, a planner, a scheduler of all things. I usually have multiple to-do lists going on -both written and mental- and hell hath no fury like (ahem) someone who’s grocery list has been tampered with. Just ask Shawn.

Most people use their smartphones to keep their schedules and calendars, but I have found that I am much more organized and aware of things when having a physical planner to write things down. Oh, I still use my iCal, but its more of a supplemental tool. The more ways I can keep track of things, the better.

A friend of mine who shares my obsession  fondness for organization mentioned how much she loved her Erin Condren life planner. I’ve never heard of the company before, but after a little research I found that she has an amazing following for her products. Desperate to find a better system than a pile of post-its, note book paper, and note pads, I decided to place an order.

I received my planner in late September (EC had an option to add the remaining months of 2014 to the 2015 calendar!) and I have to say that it was love at first sight. Plenty of room to make my lists, week my monthly and weekly schedules, track my Stella & Dot business, etc. I’ve been using washi tape to help highlight certain dates/appointments and it makes things much easier to track, not to mention way cuter to look at.

I also took my friend’s suggestion and bought these pens. OMG these are the best pens on the planet! They are ERASABLE! No smearing, or teared up paper either. Gel pens and erase!! I’m never buying another pen again. EVER!

What do you use to keep things organized? Do you prefer paper or having it all on your computer or smartphone? I’d love to hear how you handle keeping a handle on things.



Joseph 2.8








Mom’s really sick. She told me to post my photos for today and will transcribe my notes once she’s feeling better.

UPDATE: Sorry for the delay, but mom’s feeling much better and was able to add my notes from this month! 

This past month has been a lot of fun. We played outside in the leaves at much as possible. I absolutely loved kicking them around, diving into piles, and going on “treasure hunts” to find red, yellow, orange, and brown ones. I also liked being able to dig around in the dirt, throw sticks for Walter, and run all over the place.

I’ve been doing pretty well on potty training this month! I’m wearing big boy underwear all day, my favorites have Thomas and Lightening McQueen on them. I still have a few accidents now and then, but nobody is perfect!

Halloween was a bit of a bust. I had fun dressing up, but the weather was awful and none of the neighbors were home! Mom saved the day by putting some candy and rice krispy treats in my bucket. Hopefully, next year will be better.

Now that the weather has been making it hard to get outside Mom has been making sure we do lots of fun things around the house. We bake cookies, paint and color with crayons, play with play dough, and play with the vacuum. Gosh, I do love that machine.

I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving! Everyone is coming to our house for dinner. Plus Grandma Cathy is coming to visit for a whole week! She is so much fun and always brings me the best presents.


Joseph 2.7



Things have definitely calmed down a bit this past month and we’ve settled into the new house. It feels like we’ve been here forever!

I’ve been trying lots of new things lately. One of my favorites has been painting. It is so much fun to pick out the colors to use and make pictures for everyone. Mommy helps me with the brushes and water, but I am definitely in charge.


We have been having so much fun in the fall weather. I love to play in piles of  leaves outside and picking them up to see what color they are. We have also been going to some fall festivals! Going on all the rides -my favorite is the giant slide with Daddy and the cars – and eating yummy donuts, cupcakes, and other treats! IMG_5589-0.JPG

We went to Brookfield Zoo this month, I loved it! My favorite was the turtles and the giraffes. I got to ride a giant carousel there and even got my face painted like a tiger. GRRR!IMG_5559.JPG


Mommy has been taking me to lots of playgrounds, too. I love to climb up to the top and go down the twisty slides. Mommy says she can’t believe how quick I get up there, I’m just like a monkey!

It hasn’t been all fun and games around here. Mom and Dad gave me the job of feeding Walter and giving him a treat when he comes inside. I also have been working hard on cleaning up my toys after I play, helping mommy with the laundry and picking up leaves. It’s hard work, but I’m a good helper!


101 Things: 9. Go to the Brookfield Zoo


This past Sunday Shawn and I took Joseph to the Brookfield Zoo. I have not been there since I was a kid, so it was a bit of a surreal experience. I must admit, it isn’t quite as amazing as the Columbus Zoo, but Columbus was recently voted one of the best zoos in America – plus it has Jack Hannah!

Anyways, back to our Brookfield trip. It was a gorgeous day on Sunday, perfect fall weather. Perfect for walking around outside and checking out the animals, fountains, and carousel. Plus, there was barely anyone there because of the Bears v. Packers fiasco game was going on.

Joe loved the carousel, we went on it once in the beginning and again right before we left. He like checking out the giraffes and walking through the primate exhibit, however I think his favorite was playing on the playground equipment and going to the children’s zoo exhibit.

I was excited to carry on a Torto family tradition by getting him a figure from the Mold-A-Rama machine to bring home. I remember getting them when we were little, Roz has gone with Luke and he has quite a collection at this point, now we can work on Joe’s.

I’m looking forward to taking him there again in the future, plus going to Lincoln Park Zoo sometime as well.

Banned Book Week 2014



For this year’s Banned Book Week, I decided to go with a classes and read John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. Steinbeck is the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories; he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962; but an unfortunate part of his legacy is that the American Library Association lists him as one of the ten most frequently banned authors from 1990-2004. Often synonymous with American literature, he’s considered one of the greatest author of the 20th century. His novels are considered classics and taught from grade school through university graduate courses here and around the world. Nevertheless, his three most notable works- The Grapes of Wrath (1939), Of Mice and Men (1937), and East of Eden- have also been repeatedly banned or challenged.

I hope that many of you are participating in Banned Book Week. I’d love to know what you’re currently reading and what your favorite “banned book” might be. Want to see what new, and old, books make the list? Check out Band Books Week here.


101 Things: 40. Get a Library Card

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the St. Charles Library and got myself and Joseph library cards. Its a great local library that is a five minute drive away from the house. I’m looking forward to taking Joe to some of their story-time programs. He loves to look at books and be read to, so I hope this turns into a love for reading as he gets older.

Joseph 2.6

Happy Half Birthday to Me!

This past month has been a big one because we moved into our house! It’s been a lot to get used to and I have to admit that I’ve had a bit of a hard time transitioning. I miss Grandma’s house. I knew where everything was, I liked my room and crib there, and got to be around Grandma and Grandpa all the time.

It took a while to get used to things. I didn’t want to nap AT ALL, even though I was super tired. I also would wake up in the middle of the night for a few hours, maybe because I wasn’t used to my new/old crib and room? I’m settling back into things now, but I still occasionally give mom a hard time about napping.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the new house a lot, there is so much more room to play and I have all my toys again! Mom and Dad set up a play area in the basement and I can use my tent, play with my trains, cars, and blocks and don’t have to worry about the mess! We have a big driveway where I can use my wagon, cars, and draw with chalk. Plus, I have my very own bathroom! (Mom says I have to share it when Luke comes to stay, but I don’t mind.)

I also started to go to “school” at the recreation center at the park. One day we go and sing songs and play instruments. I’m not too sure about this class yet, I wanted to leave half way through but Mom said we had to stay. The other class all about Cars and Lightening McQueen! We get to play, do crafts and read a story. I liked this one much better!