Wednesday, February 29, 2012

On Finding Balance.

I'm not sure if you know this but I do a lot of things. Now, I never said that I do any singular one of them really well or better than another, but indeed, I do lots. For instance and just to name a few, I wife. I mom. I write. I educate. I photograph. On a good day, I clean. 

As of late, I have found that there are days, many, many days rather, when I tend to do them in the wrong order. In other words, my priorities are way off. And it took listening to this guy speak at Blissdom to really figure that all out. 

I know I'm not the only Mom that heard his words and immediately thought, "Holy shit. He's speaking directly to me. How did he know?" 

For me? Hearing Jon Acuff speak was my hinge moment. More specifically, hearing him say things like, "Learn to disappoint the right people," and "Hang up and arrive. Be present in your family," really knocked my socks off. 

Sitting here writing a post on finding balance while my house is a disaster and I'm still wearing my pajamas at 1pm may as well denote me the Queen of Irony but I couldn't waste another minute without freeing these thoughts from my head. 

I can easily count on both hands and feet the number of times that I've "shhhsh'd" The Toddler as he pulled at my pant leg or climbed up onto my desk while I was trying to bang out that oh-so-important blog post. You know the one. The one about crafting that ruffled burlap wreath or my thoughts on dressing your belly bump.

Those posts were so important to me that I was stealing time and focus away from my 19 month old. From the 19 month old who was practically bursting at the seams to show me how he finally stacked his blocks into the tallest tower he ever made. Or how he learned to zoom his remote control car all by himself. 

Heck, I could name at least 15 incidences when I told him, "one more minute" when I actually should have said, "one more tweet." 


Since when had that stuff become more important to me than spending time with my son? Why have I allowed Twitter, blogging and The Internets to monopolize the waking hours with my toddler that we all know are so fleeting? I mean, I've even dedicated whole posts to how fleeting those moments are! And here I am shhhsh'ing them.  

Of course my next question immediately was, "How do I fix this?" How do I find that balance that I know must exist out there? And the answer is simple. 

Make time for the things that matter. 

All of that stuff that I mentioned earlier? That stuff that I do? That all matters. Obviously it does considering I'm here as a wife, a mom, a writer and a photographer. And I learned that none of those things should or do matter any less than the other. But it's how I make time for them that does. 

Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I can't write. Just because I am a wife doesn't mean I can't photograph. I just need to learn to do them with the right amount of balance. 

Jon encouraged us to "be selfish with that 5am hour that no one in your family wants." And to not "steal the moments from your family." And it was practically a face-to-palm moment. Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?

Perhaps because the thought of waking up at 5am makes me want to gouge my eyeballs out. 

But I've chosen not to let my kid become my content. I've chosen to hang up and arrive. It will always be a work in progress but I find myself feeling even more fulfilled at just making the decision to be present in the right moments at the right time. 

For me, that is what finding balance is all about. Being present in the right moments at the right time. 

I've been home from Blissdom for two days now and I've been making a concerted effort not to blog while The Toddler is awake. To tweet less and to not tweet ridiculous and random tidbits of my life.

Having glanced at my Twitter profile I noted that in a little over one year I had tweeted 20,866 things. How many of them were profound and life changing? I'd venture to say roughly 7. 

Talk about a hinge moment. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On Surviving My First Overnight Away From The Toddler...

It goes without saying that both The Toddler and I survived my four day jaunt to Nashville. It's not to say that I had ever had any doubts, but let's face it. I run The Toddler show. How could life ever go on, seamlessly to boot, without my presence and ever-so-necessary Type-A handle on things?

In retrospect, I question whether or not I should feel slightly offended that after I slipped quietly out of the house life went on. Just like that. I would like to think, however, that it was a testament to the very capable hands of whose care I left The Toddler in. And, of course, my awesome, albeit slightly Crazy-with-a-capital-"C," lists left strategically throughout the house. 

In all honesty though, leaving The Toddler for the first time overnight wasn't nearly as difficult as I anticipated. The truth is, the minute he laid eyes on my Dad that morning, it was as if I had already boarded that plane and left for good. In all of my sentimental glory, I attempted to pose with The Toddler for one last picture before stealthily slipping from his vision- the child wanted nothing to do with me. 

Needless to say, there was absolutely no stealth-sneaking necessary. 

Over the course of my absence, both my parents and my husband dutifully sent pictures of The Toddler as he went about his typical day. Diner breakfasts, romps in the backyard with Sheepie, standing atop his tool bench pointing to his newborn pictures displaying not only his flair for danger but also his impeccable verbal skills as he exclaimed, "baby!" And I swear with each picture they sent, the child grew two inches and aged nearly 2 years. 

Was his schedule followed to a "T?" Of course not. Will that land him atop a government building in thirty years brandishing a firearm? Doubtful. But was he smiling in every picture they sent? Of course. And it didn't hurt to note that his clothes matched as well. 

Except for that picture sent by The Husband with the time stamp of 3:30pm that showed a jammie-clad toddler eating dinner. I'll let that one slide. 

So, Loyals? I survived my first three nights away from The Toddler and I can honestly say that we're probably both a little better for it. In fact, I may or may not be planning my next getaway as we speak. 

...If for no other reason than to relive that priceless "omgosh-you're-home-i've-missed-you-so-much-let-me-hold-your-hand-mommy-the-WHOLE-way-home-from-the-airport" welcome that The Toddler greeted me with. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

So, Now What?

On Thursday, February 23rd, I boarded a plane bound for Nashville to attend a social media conference that I knew very little about. Unsure of what to expect, I left behind judgment, expectations and my toddler (for the very first time) and hoped for the best. 

Now? I can say without a doubt that attending Blissdom was one of the greatest decisions I could have made for myself and for I Love You More Than Carrots. There's just something so incredible about sitting in a massive ballroom of a beautiful hotel surrounded by like-minded men (yes, men!) and women who shared a similar passion to tell their story. 

More importantly, to tell it in a way that was not only unique to them but inspiring to others. 

You see, I've realized that those who don't blog don't necessarily "get it." They don't understand that compelling feeling to chronicle one's life, one's experiences, the evolution of one's family and share it with an internet full of strangers. But these people? They get it. 

Together they helped cultivate a renewed passion for writing and telling my story. As the community leaders and speakers that I had the pleasure of meeting shared not only their success but also their failures, their knowledge as well as their struggles, I felt stirred to do the same. 

To say that I returned from Nashville feeling renewed would be an understatement. It would also be an understatement to say that I returned from Nashville feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. 

It is my hope to share some of what moved me at Blissdom over the course of the next few days. Heck, if I'm being honest, it will probably take weeks to organize the swirling thoughts in my head, but once again, I feel compelled to do so and hope that it will move you, too. 

My only hope is that I may do so in a way that does justice to what I've learned not only about myself but also the amazing blogging community that I'm so happy to be a part of. 

Oh and The Toddler? Survived a whole four days without me. And I without him. Mind-blowing, isn't it? 

It feels good to be home.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So, You're At Blissdom Too? Well, Come Find Me!

i wife, i mom, i write. 
i D.I.Y, i photograph, i used to save lives. 
{not necessarily in that order}

the readers of 
I Love You More Than Carrots
think i'm pretty funny, 
although after three plus years, 
i still don't see it. 
but that may just be my 
dry sense of humor talking. 

so, what i do here?
i snark and i sass and i write
about the many {mis}adventures of motherhood.

one spilled sippy cup of milk
one 19 month old toddler
and a baby on the way

one day at a time. 

if you're reading this from 
the beautiful Opryland hotel in Nashville, 
come find me. 

i'll be the 6 months pregnant gal
likely wearing electric blue skinny jeans
and bright orange nail polish, 
laughing just a bit too loud and occasionally
casting side ward glances that scream ...

"does my mom-i-form look OK?"



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The {My} Mom-i-Form :: Dressing Your Bump {With "Style!"}

Disclaimer: This is a true "how to dress your BUMP" post, stress on the bump part. I've always popped early and with my 9lb. 10oz. first baby, now have a history of "large babies" so I've had to learn rather early on how to accomodate and accentuate a legit bump. The nice thing about this situation is that I only really had one or two weeks of that "awkward period" where passersby weren't sure if I was indeed pregnant or ate one too many donuts for breakfast. In a sense, this has given me a bit of an upper hand when it comes to figuring out what clothes work best for me and how I can dress cute and still retain my sense of "style." Which, if you must know by now, has moved quickly from JCrew and Boden to Whatever Is Most Comfortable When Chasing A Toddler And Fits Into My SAHM Budget which is, let's be honest, much less likely to be JCrew and Boden.

* * * 

If you were to knock on my door during the hours of 8am and 8pm most week days, you would find me sporting a fairly routine "mom-i-form." Now, the mom-i-form comes in many, many different variations and what one Mama's version may be can vastly differ from another's. For instance, my version of the mom-i-form {thanks to being nearly 6 months pregnant} is often times a mix of both maternity and non-maternity "black dance pants" and either one of The Husband's old T-shirts or a fitted maternity T from Old Navy/GAP. 

"Black dance pants" refers to your standard run-of-the-mill black yoga pant. I should know. After all, I own over thirty pairs. Shhh, don't tell. 

Case in point {Side note: I can't believe I'm posting this picture sans make-up with Mom-Hair}

As you all know, because I've been yammering on about it for nearly a week now, I leave for Nashville tomorrow morning for this little bitty conference known as Blissdom. Although I'm sure everyone will love me for my blogging brains (ha!), it was never an option to pack four days worth of my standard mom-i-form. So for the past couple of weeks, I've been shopping high and low for some fabulous new threads that will clearly showcase and accentuate my awesome baby bump aforementioned blogging brains.

This brings me to the point of this post: How to dress your baby bump and not look like a frumptastic, muu-muu-wearing, doily-clad hot mess. And subtitled: How to do so with a mix of maternity and non-maternity clothes. 

Let's start with basics, shall we?

The best piece of advice I can impart with you today, Loyal Mamas and Mamas-to-be is to invest in a decent (read smoking hot) pair of maternity jeans. I'll admit that pre-Carter, I was a designer denim snob. Sadly, each of those designer pairs of denim no longer fit these mom-hips but at the time, they were worth every single little designer penny spent. 

Therefore, I immediately turned to Citizens of Humanity and Seven brand jeans as my maternity go-to's. I started out my collection with two pairs of dark wash boot cut jeans and before I knew it, I had added a pair of dark wash Mavi Maternity skinnies to the mix. Believe me, Loyals, as your nether regions, ahem, grow, you'll appreciate how great your bum will look in a decent pair of jeans. 

Now, here's where I need to tell you that you don't need to spend upwards of $250 to get a great pair of jeans. Just this past weekend, I threw on my maternity Citizens and realized very quickly that the circulation was being cut off to my knees. Thanks to the hormone relaxin that is already coursing it's way through my bloodstream, my hips have started to widen {once again} and I've quickly outgrown my maternity jeans. Talk about a slap in the puffy, pregnant face. 

I immediately took off to A Pea in the Pod and stumbled across a gorgeous pair of maternity Buffalo dark wash denim on sale from $130 to $60. Booyah. 

Do I think you're supposed to wear jeans your entire pregnancy? Of course not. You could always spice it up with a snazzy pair of colored denim maternity skinnies like these

Here's where I impart some more priceless wisdom onto you: invest in some quality leggings. By now you all know that I am a major fan of Leggings As Pants and what better time to rock them than while growing a human? Let's be honest, I could only get away with wearing my non-maternity leggings until around week 7. At that point? It literally felt as if I was wearing a rubber band wrapped around my midsection. 

For me, any maternity pants that I wear must be a full panel belly. I just can't deal with anything that cuts below the belly and makes me feel as if I'm going to lose my pants at any second. My favorite maternity leggings can be found here and here. Stock up Mamas, you'll thank me later and you'll be amazed at just how versatile the maternity legging can be.

Before we move onto basic tops, I feel like I need to be honest with you Loyals. If you're anything like me, you'll be wearing your maternity bottoms for at least 6-8 weeks postpartum. You see, no one tells you these things, but it's true. And if you're really like me? You'll be wearing your maternity jeans for a solid three months after having given birth. No lies. As I mentioned earlier, invest wisely.

I've had a few people ask me "How do you get the most out of your non-maternity clothes when pregnant?" And the answer, Loyals, is simple. Long maternity tanks. You can stock up here. For $8 a pop, you can stock up on every single color without breaking the bank and these babies? Are worth their weight (or length rather) in gold.

You'll find that I wear these stretch-tanks beneath everything. Everything. Those adorable JCrew tops that just. aren't. long. enough with the belly? Bam. Add a tank and you've got at least another month's worth of wear. 

Beneath a cardigan and tied up with a skinny belt? Voila! 

Make note, Loyals, that neither of those cardigans pictured above are maternity. In fact, they are both from JCrew. Speaking of skinny belts, these will be a pregnant woman's best friend. One of the greatest things about these belts is that they often help cinch a waist where a waist once was and draw attention to the smallest part of your body- you know, that spot around your ribcage beneath your bubbies but above the belly? Yeah, that one. Every pregnant woman loves a little differentiation between belly and boob. It's truly a fabulous thing.

This place has some great skinny belt options in a variety of textures and patterns.

Cardigans, tanks and fitted T's are what you'll most likely find me in these days. They're comfortable and allow for Toddler-chasing and Human-Growing to happen at the same time. This look can be paired with either a fab legging and riding boot or a skinny jean and flat. Tres versatile. 

So, should you invest in maternity tops? Of course. As I mentioned earlier, I pop early and I grow em' large so for me? Maternity tops are a necessity. But again, choose wisely. Try to pick tops that could simultaneously work for your post baby body. Once again, in those first few weeks postpartum, you'll be all about the camouflaging of certain, ahem, jiggly parts. My go-to's for those kinds of tops are here and here. But mostly the sale rack of that last place. It can get a little pricey.

Don't forget what I said about those long maternity tanks. They can truly help lengthen the amount of time you can wear your non-maternity tops. And another thing people fail to tell you? You will outgrow even your maternity tops. Those last few weeks? You're channeling a pregnant Britney as your belly hangs out from the bottom of that tank. It's not classy- but at that point? It's not worth investing in even more clothes because by then? Trust me, it will resemble a muu-muu.

If you're anything like me and get knocked up in the Fall, by the time you're nice and huge at seven, eight and nine months pregnant, sundresses abound! As do maxi dresses and any other type of dress that feel almost as if you're wearing nothing. Because believe me, you. In those last couple of months? The best attire was nothing at all and since that's often frowned upon in most residential suburban-type areas, lightweight flow-y dresses are the next best thing. 

Since I'll be large and in charge once again this summer, I'll be sure to draw up a quick post about dressing your bump-clad bod when that time draws near.

You can always check out my few-and-far-between bumpdates to see what else I've been wearing these last five months. 

In summation Loyals, remember these things: 

1. Invest in quality bum-accentuating denim.
2. To get the most out of your non-maternity tops, 
stock up on long maternity tanks and lot's of them!
3. When choosing maternity tops, look for ones that could 
work post-baby to camouflage {in style} those leftover jiggly parts. 
4. Leggings, leggings, leggings. 
5. Skinny belts, skinny belts, skinny belts.

Hopefully this post answers some of those burning questions you've all had in regards to how I dress my bump! Happy Wednesday, Loyals! The next time you'll hear from me, I'll be in Music City! Yeehaw!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stupid Things People Say to Stay-at-Home-Moms Cheat Sheet - Guest Post by I Pick Pretty

Show of hands - how many of you have been asked something remarkably insulting about your job? *frantically raises hand* Not only have you been asked, if you're like me, you think up the perfect, devastating response - ten minutes after the dumb question is thrown out there, that is.

Fear no more, Loyals - I'm Melissa from I Pick Pretty, and I'm here to help. I'm a wife, stay-at-home-mom to my darling 1.5 year old boy, retired lawyer, and non-retired smartass, which obviously makes me qualified to give you life advice. Obviously.

(Let's just pretend I'm not completely terrified to do this guest post for AP, one of my blogging sister wives and all-around star, and you eleventy billion fellow fangirls who also adore her. Breathing, breathing . . .)


Anywhooo, my Facebook feed has been buzzing lately with this gem for us stay-at-home-moms, based on this article - the sort that has you nodding your head furiously as you guzzle your pinot and contemplate why your FB page has changed appearances yet again:

And I'd thought the insults I got about being a lawyer were bad. This isn't to say SAHMs get the worst of it - I imagine all of us parents, whether we work outside of the house or not, get some howlers - but I can personally attest to being asked most of these, the "What do you DO all day, anyway?" and "Oh, so you don't work?" ones a regular, regularly irritating basis.

Here's where I got crafty, not in that awesome, Martha Stewart style sense that our AP impresses us with regularly, but in the revenge sense - I've devised a cheat sheet of responses for the "10 Things" list above. I've listed these in numerical order of response, though these can apply to a number of idiotic questions, number 9 being a standby here. All you need for my "craft" here is (1) pair of scissors and (1) tape, to cut the following out & affix to the inside of your diaper bag for heat-of-the-moment reference; (1) icy, withering glare is helpful when delivering these too:

Voila! Remember that, like most favorite dishes, these are best served warm with a side of sarcasm. 

What's the dumbest question you've been asked about your job? Any parenting whoppers you want to add here?

(Thank you, AP, for the chance to spotlight here while you're getting your Blissdom prep on - if I weren't such a prude, I'd offer you an open-mouthed smooch of gratitude. xoxo)

* * *

As a fellow oft quip-y and slightly snarky mom myself, this post is hands down one of my all-time favorites. I cannot thank THE smug-est of all smug mommies, Melissa, for continuing to snark and sass the heck out of this tiny slice of the internet. It's clearly evident why she is one of my forever favorite bloggers, no? Now, if she and the Wee CEO could just permanently relocate to, say, Maryland for the rest of their lives, my life would be complete. Ah, and I guess Anonymous Husband could come too? 

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm MIA and Shannon from L.A.I.D Has Stepped In With WINE!

Psst, Loyals! You're in for a treat this week. As much as I would love to snark and sass around these parts all day, every day, I really need to get my tush in gear and focus on packing my entire closet for Blissdom. As I'm sure you all know by now, I'll be leaving for Nashville on Thursday and needed a little extra help around ILYMTC. Of course, I'll be back on Wednesday with a post that hopefully nails just what I'm all about. 

Until then, a couple of my favorite bloggers have stepped up to the challenge of filling in for me. Today and tomorrow you'll be hearing from my two of my absolute favorite internet-loves as they dish what they're best at. Be sure to give them a nice, warm welcome, ya hear?

* * *

Good Monday Morning fine ladies, or should I say Loyals?!  Shannon here from Life After I "Dew", you can call it L.A.I.D. for short {all the cool kids are doing it}.   AP is off getting ready to have a fabulous time and making us all sorts of  jealous at Blissdom so I'm here to fill in, today at least.  I don't need to tell you how hilarious, witty, creative and downright fabutastic our host is but I will anyway.  

I think ILYMTC was one of the first blogs I started to read way back when and there was just the right amount of snark, funnies, and honesty that just drew me in.  AP has a way with words, does she not?  She can pretty much make anything funny and the shenanigans she gets herself into are worthy of their own reality show.  I'd watch.  So I was more than flattered {and a little bit intimidated} when she asked me to guest post while she's getting her Bliss On {not really sure why I capitalized that} but I'll do my best, in true L.A.I.D. fashion.

I've noticed a few things missing from ILYMTC lately, well just one really.  WINE!  I mean I know AP is pregnant and if you drink when you're pregnant it's a bad idea.  I'm a mom too you know.  So to show a sign of solidarity {or not} I have been drinking all of the wine that AP can't.  What can I say, I'm a good, true friend.  Also I'm a bit of a wino so this has not been a tough task for me to take on.

But this is where the Trailer Park {capitalized for obvious reasons} takes over AP's little slice of preppy, monogrammed, JCrew wearing, and perfectly manicured part of the Internets.  We drink box wine over here.  As in there's a box with a bag inside that is full of the sweet nectar of the Gods.  It just makes sense.  

Let's see, if I'm going to be drinking for two I need to do it in the most economical of ways.  Box wine is just that.  You get 5 liters, 5, for the comfortable price tag of {on sale even} just $13.99.  In AP land that would only get you ONE bottle o' delicious.  I'm getting like, a lot more than that {I never said math was my strong point}.

Also?  It stays fresh for up to 6 weeks people, 6!  I mean not that it lasts that long in my house but IF it did, it'd still be as delicious as the first day I clawed through that cardboard window and pulled the spout through. Yes it comes flowing, graciously, from a spout.  It's like wine, on tap, 24/7.

But I don't feel even a little bit embarrassed sharing this wealth of wine knowledge with you, not at all.  You know why?  We recently went to a wine tasting, as in wine being poured from bottles, and I divulged this not so little secret to the Sommelier.  The look on my husbands face.  But anyway, the nice lady informed me that box wine?  It's not so bad.  About 10-20 years ago I would have gotten stink eye over such a confession but these days?  It's totes acceptable.  Therefore, I wear my box-wine-drinking badge proudly.

My favorite you ask?  Gladly. It's got to be Franzia House Collections Crisp White.  It's just what it says, crisp.  Almost like a thirst quencher but not really because it leaves you wanting more! more! more!  It's pretty sweet though.  I conned Kristen into trying it and she broke my little heart when she told me this was the one thing we couldn't have in common.  So beware.  I've recently tried the Shiraz variation, you know to be sure I'm a little more cultured with my red wines, and surprisingly it ain't so bad.  Actually I know one thing for sure, I got tipsy off of one glass of the red stuff whereas it takes approximately 3 with it's white counterpart.  I know they say blondes have more fun but in this case I think reds may just know how to do it right.

OMG did I lose you at Trailer Trash?  No?  You love box wine just as much as the next broke girl?  Cool!  We can be friends and you can hop on over to my little slice of the Internets anytime.

Big hugs and {slightly}open-mouthed kisses to AP for letting me invade her space today.  The pleasures been all mine.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Leaving {My Toddler} On A Jet Plane {For The First Time} ...

What, those aren't the words to that song? Crap. Well, those are the exact words I've been singing these past few days as I began getting ready for my trip to Nashville next week. Did I mention I'm leaving in four days? I am. And I'm trying not to think too much about the "going away" part. Why? Because, Loyals, it will be the first time I've ever left Carter over night. Ever. In his whole entire short little 19 month life. 

I know. We'll be fine. He'll be fine. I'll be fine. It's healthy. I get it. But that doesn't mean that I'm not internally fah-reaking the heck out. 

Can I let you all in on a little secret? I'm a control freak and Carter is my full-time job. That means every single waking second (and sleeping, for that matter) of every single day is consumed by my thoughts of, "Routine!" "Is he eating enough?" "Did he nap long enough?" "Why isn't he napping at all?" "Did we work on letters today?" "Numbers?" "Spanish/French/German/Mandarin?" "Routine!" "Routine!" "Did we play enough?" Etc. 

Together, Carter and I, have worked long and hard to establish our routine. It certainly didn't happen over night and within the last few months it has become a true staple in each of our lives. Lord knows we both lose our shit if The Routine hits a bump in the road. 

So the thought of leaving The Toddler in the {very} capable hands of my husband and my parents kind of, sort of gives me The Freakouts. 

Thankfully, I know the both of them so well that if and when The Routine isn't followed, they certainly aren't going to tell me. They're going to let me continue on my merry little way of thinking that they've followed every single little sign, post-it and letterhead note that I've left for them around the house to an absolute "T." 

In case you needed proof of my control freak nature, I now present to you Exhibit A:

Now, don't be fooled Loyals. This sucker has been laminated and is tacked to our fridge and I may or may not have laminated a second copy to leave for my parents in the guest room. Do you think it's a bit much if I include a copy in the guest bath as well? Let's just say they're lucky that I ran out of room for sub letters when I drew this up. And for those of you saw my tweet and have asked/emailed where I made this? The answer is I simply uploaded a blank MS Paint document and added in the text. 

So, like I mentioned earlier, I'm leaving my son for four days in the {very} capable hands of both my husband, clearly the child's father and my parents, two brilliant individuals who have successfully raised two incredible children. 

What am I so worried about?

I can't help but think to myself, "They won't know how to tuck him in at night!" "Will they remember to add glow sticks to his bath?" "What about his meals? They won't forget to give him milk or juice, right?" "Do they even know that juice only goes in the straw cups and milk in the sippy?"

I'm sure you're laughing and yes, the truth is that this IS slightly comical, but it's the truth nonetheless. These are the things keeping me up at night. 

The girls I'll be joining in Nashville for Blissdom have some serious work in store for them. They may not know it yet, but I'm counting on them to occupy and entertain me enough that I don't for a single second think about turning around and getting right back on a plane to Maryland. No pressure, right? 

Of course, I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to some adult conversation. Some Me-Time. Some time away from the Toddler without having to constantly worry about Routines, Meal Times, Activities and Stimulation. I'm absolutely excited for that. Remember, I AM human after all. 

So, what will C be doing while Mama is away? Hopefully coping beautifully with my brief absence, sleeping late and behaving like the little wildebeest angel that we all know he is. 

With hopes of softening the blow, I thought I'd put together some little gift bags and boxes for C to tear into each day that I'm away. Something that, if only for a few minutes, will redirect his attention from the fact that his mother is off galavanting in Tennessee without him. 

So, where did I turn to? The dollar bins at Target, of course.  Literally a Toddler's heaven. For less than $30 with a few additional non-dollar-bin items thrown in, I was able to turn this stash.... 

... into these darling little bags chock full of books, crayons, coloring books, balls, bath time glow sticks, animal cracker snacks and more! All I have left to do is tag them with their special "Open Me" day and add in a little note to my sweet C. Not too shabby!

Now that C's activity bags are taken care of, that's one more thing I can cross off of my "Blissdom Prep" to-do list. 

Tell me I'm not alone, Loyals? I'm not being completely irrational, am I? I'm leaving my baby over night for the FIRST time EVER. 

Cue The Freakouts. 

I'll be taking a step back from blogging these next couple of days in order to soak up an inordinate amount of Toddler Snuggles and finish packing what I'm sure {but have no idea if I'll truly need} for Blissdom. Don't fret- I'll be back on Wednesday with a sort of All About AP post and in the mean time, you'll hear from not one but two of my most favorite bloggers, ever! 

Happy Sunday, Loyals. Thanks for listening!


Friday, February 17, 2012

Kid-Friendly iPhone and iPad Apps - A Guest Post!

Hi Loyals! Please welcome a fabulous guest today here at I Love You More Than Carrots! Andrea so lovingly volunteered to write a bit for me as I get my act together for Blissdom next week! Like me, Andrea is a fellow boy Mama who is all things creative and crafty and today, she's sharing some of her and Coop's favorite iPhone and iPad apps! Be sure to show her some good ol' ILYMTC lovin'! Thanks and Happy Friday!

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Hey friends! I am so excited to be here guest posting for you today! AP, thanks so much for having me! My name is Andrea, and I’m a 33 year old mom of a 2 year old boy named Cooper. My blog is My Chihuahua Bites – one part mommy adventures, and two parts crafts, cooking, beauty product reviews, humor, NOTD (Nails of the Day), and makeup tutorials.

(This is how pictures look when you have a busy 2 year old.)

Today I want to talk to about kid-friendly iPhone and iPad apps. I’ve been part of the iPhone family since Verizon started selling the iPhone in February 2011. I had been dying for an iPad, but we didn’t pull the trigger until last month. It has turned out to be such a great purchase for the whole family! My son loves to play educational games. I use the iPad to keep up with my blog, Twitter, and Facebook. My husband, who is in school, can access his study documents while we’re on the go. Definite win!

Here are some of my favorite apps for kids:

This is one of my favorite apps for toddlers! I knew you could read children’s books on the iPad, but I had no idea the books were so interactive. You can set this app up so that either you read to your child, or Grover and Elmo will read the book. Each page has some way for your child to participate – remove the paperclips Grover uses to stop Elmo from advancing to the next page! Knock down the wall of blocks Grover built to keep you from moving ahead in the book! This book is $3.99 in the App Store.

Cooper’s favorite book is Mickey’s Spooky Night Puzzle Book. Cooper loves Mickey, and this book features his favorite character and is interactive! Every other page is a puzzle, which you must put back together to reveal a special spooky surprise. Throughout the book are ghosts, which you must collect to complete a task at the end of the book. This is on sale for $.99 in the App Store.

If you have any of the Hallmark interactive characters (Cooper Bear, Abigail, etc), the books are available in the App Store. If you aren’t familiar, Hallmark has developed a line of books with corresponding characters. You purchase the book and the character, and as you read the book, the character responds to your words. We have Cooper Bear, and the books are free in the App Store.

Our favorite game/teaching app is definitely Monkey Preschool Lunchbox. This app teaches your child letters, counting, colors, and shapes. Cooper’s favorite part of the app is the matching game – you are given a series of blocks you must turn over to find the matching fruit. This is a great way to build your child’s memory! Your child earns stickers for completing tasks, which he or she can add to his/her sticker wall. This is $.99 in the App Store.

Photo Touch Farm Animals is great for younger children (1+) to learn about animals. What I love about this app is that it features animals (goats, goose, lamb) that other apps/children’s shows don’t really talk about. This is free in the App Store.

Shapes Toddler Preschool is a great tool for when your child is learning about shapes. You can set up the app to quiz your toddler (where is the circle?) or it has a flashcard app, which shows pictures of different shapes. The toy box has different games you can play with shapes you have learned about. This is also free in the App Store.

ABC Go would be an excellent app for older children (2+). The app teaches your child new words through sight, sound, and touch. For example, if you press on “race car” above, the app will show you a picture of a race car as well as the spelling of the word. It also has video that shows you what a race car is and what it does! This app is $2.99 in the App Store.

I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite apps for children?

Disclaimer: I purchased all of these apps with my own money, and the opinions concerning the apps are my own.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Swear, I'm Not Eating A Bean. Or Tripping Balls. Or Smothering The Donkey. I'm Just Pregnant.

{Sidenote: I don't even know what "smothering the donkey means,"  but after having turned to Twitter for some help with "catchier phrases for 'doing drugs,'" it just seemed fitting. Especially after some of the ones my fellow tweeps shared with me.}

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If I had to guess, I would liken pregnant hormones to being something akin to dropping acid. Forget mild haze inducing marijuana. We're talking balls out mind-altering, hallucinogenic craziness here. Shrooms, even. Totally tripping balls, for sure. 

In case you don't remember my last pregnancy, I wrote here about some of the crazy dreams I'd been having. These included but were not limited to being chased by the lion from Narnia and a lovemaking sesh with Captain Jack Sparrow, dressed in full pirate garb, mind you, that could rival any porn video.

I'm not kidding, Loyals. These pregnancy dreams are nothing to laugh at! Okay, so maybe they are and clearly that's why I'm driven to share them with you. As pregnancies tend to go, these dreams have returned but with a vengeance. Literally.

In the beginning, the dreams I'd been having were violent with a capital "V." As a matter of fact, they would often leave me waking up in the middle of the night, sweating profusely and practically jumping out of bed to make sure all doors and windows were locked. 

For example, one of the earliest dreams I can remember having involved both my brother and my husband. Now, these two love each other dearly but in my dream? They might as well have been mortal enemies. Sadly, I cannot remember what sparked their feud but before I knew it, I had dreamt them into an all-out battle, complete with ninja swords and brass knuckles. As I slumbered, both my husband and my brother were virtually beating each other into bloody, shredded messes. Granted, this may or may not be attributable to the fact that I was simultaneously reading The Hunger Games during my early weeks of pregnancy. 

The following week, I dreamt myself into incarceration. For stealing not one, not two but thirty-seven packs of watermelon Bubble Yum. How did I conceal these packs of gum, you ask? Oh, obviously I meticulously velcroed them into the lining of the trench coat I had been wearing before exiting the store. But not without first yelling, "MY BABY NEEDS GUM!" Thirty-seven, Loyals. Thirty-seven.

Most recently, I saw the movie The Vow. Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that this is the new sappy and utterly romantic love story based on a true event starring the most handsome Mr. Channing Tatum. You see, Loyals, I went to this movie with high hopes. Upon seeing Mr. Tatum's nakey tush, I willed against all things pregnant and hormonal and hoped and prayed that I may slumber that night having inappropriate dreams of him, similar to the ones I'd had with the pirate-clad Mr. Depp just two short years ago. You know, minus the pirate costume because truth be told, I'm not really into that. Arrrgh.

I'm here to tell you Loyals, no such luck. 

Instead, I dreamt that I had gone fishing, by myself, in a big ol' red canoe. No Channing Tatum or his nakey hiney in sight. In fact, the lake in which I was fishing was completely barren. Save for the toddler that I caught. Yes, Loyals. I said toddler. And let me tell you the fit I threw when I realized what I had caught. I mean, who freaking goes fishing for a TODDLER? Didn't I already have one of those? Clearly I didn't need another. Oh boy, was I tickled. 

No sane person has these dreams, Loyals. Rather, no sober person. Had I explained these dreams to anyone unaware of my human-baking situation, I'm fairly certain they would have demanded that I pee in a cup on the spot. 

The moral of the story? Don't mess with pregnancy hormones. Too bad I couldn't bottle this stuff up and sell it on the black market. 

Happy Thursday, Loyals! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bumpdates :: 19 to 22 Weeks, Because I'm Awesome At Documenting This Pregnancy

All I have to say is.. Thank god for Instagram and iPhones 
or else this poor second baby would have even less documentation 
of his existence. 

{ 22 Weeks Pregnant, Baby Number 2 }

Total Weight Gained?: No idea. I'll get back to you. 

Maternity Clothes: Heck yes. Elastic waist bands fo-eva. No, seriously. 

Sleep: Like the dead. Actually, that's a lie. I just wanted to say that. I live in a constant state of exhaustion so falling asleep is no trouble at all. You know, after I've gotten myself into a comfortable position. Which alone, takes roughly thirty to forty minutes. Once I'm asleep, I usually stay this way until getting up to pee around 3am. And then? I might as well be up for the day. I've been having the hardest time falling back to sleep after waking up at that ungodly hour. 

Best Moment of the Week? Well.. The Husband first felt the baby from the outside on January 31st, so that was pretty cool and worthy of documentation. 

Movement? All the time. M2 is ridiculously active in the early evenings and right before bedtime. He also loves to move around after snacks and when loud music is played!  

Food Craving? Salt and peppered avocados, guacamole, Mexican. Fruity sour candy. 

Food aversions: Whatever sounds good at the moment works for me. No real aversions this time around. 

Morning sickness? Has been replaced by the world's worst case of flaming heartburn. With Carter, I had heartburn my entire pregnancy but was able to keep it at bay with Tums. This time? No dice. It's so painful. So much that I have plans to ask for an Rx to help quall the volcano in my esophagus at my next doctor's appointment. 

Gender? C's going to have a little BROTHER! 

Labor Signs? Braxton Hicks have started rearing their ugly head about week 21. Those suckers are such a pain in the ass. 

Belly Button? Out. Like way, way out. And never going back. 

What I miss? Non-pregnant clothes. Being skinny. Seriously. The Husband and I went to see The Vow in theaters right before Valentine's Day and if you've seen it, you'll understand what I'm about to say. Post-Accident Rachel McAdams? Might as well have been shopping in my closet. The cropped skinnies? The cardigans, the blazers and the tailored button downs? The flats and loafers? Gah. I miss my old clothes. I didn't start feeling like this until closer to the end with Carter but as it seems, everything rears its ugly head just a little bit earlier the second time around. 

What I'm looking forward to: Cleaning out the office, ordering M2's bedding, working on C's Big Boy room and beginning the nursery details! 

Well, Now That That's Over With...

Now that the infamous "Hallmark Holiday" has come and gone, I'm feeling the sudden urge to share with you all a single conclusion that I've drawn regarding the Feast of St. Valentine. 

Over the course of the day yesterday, as noted quite well by both my Facebook and Twitter feeds, there appears to have been two distinct schools of people celebrating (or in this case, not celebrating) the day. The two distinct groups of people I am referring to, of course, are those who go crazy on Valentine's Day, proclaiming their undying love and affection for their Valentines and those who like to brag about how amazing their husbands/boyfriends/baby daddies and significant others are every other single day of the year that they don't "need" to celebrate Valentine's Day. 

Well then. Why don't you go rain on someone else's love parade, huh? 

I am all for any excuse, or day of the week rather, when dark chocolate, candy and flowers abound. It's true. I'll be the first to admit that I have a great husband who, after nearly five years of marriage and nine years of dating, knows that I need to hear (on a rather constant basis) how much he loves and adores me and how wonderful he thinks I am. I've trained him well and I'm not afraid to admit that! 

What better than a "Hallmark Holiday" to dedicate an entire day to this vomitous love fest and adoration party? You know, for once, having something else put the pressure on our Husband's to come through, rather than the subtle hints and constant nagging from us, their wives?

Believe me, Loyals. My "neediness" is no surprise to The Husband. In fact, I'm almost certain it just might endear him to me even more. So when the opportunity arises to shower one's Valentine with candy, flowers, words of sweet, sweet nothings and heck, even an annual romp in the hay in something one would only find in an S&M catalog, so be it! 

Let it be known that I do not spoil The Husband near as much as I should. So for me? Valentine's Day is a reminder that I should be doing more for him. Making a valiant effort to show through actions (and not just words) just how much I love him. 

And who am I kidding? It gives me a great excuse to drown some strawberries in chocolate and whip up some other tasty treats that would make me a veritable fat-ass if concocted on just any ordinary Wednesday. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ruffled Burlap Wreath :: Valentine's Day Craftiness

In the spirit of all things Valentine, I thought I'd take a minute to share with you all this pretty little wreath I whipped up to add just a hint of red to our otherwise run-of-the-mill February decor. The great thing about this tutorial is that you can really choose whichever color burlap you're in the mood for- so if you're looking for something a little less punch-y and a bit more versatile, feel free to make this wreath using one of the more neutral colored burlap pieces! 

I promise you this wreath is super simple and will only take an hour to an hour and a half of your time from start to finish! Unless you're like me and have to spend extra time chasing down your Toddler who repeatedly runs off with the burlap, the scissors, the cut squares, etc. 

Start by cutting your burlap into long strips. Ideally, you'll want your strips to be at least 5 inches wide. Never one to measure, I eyeballed the width and went to cutting. Once you have your strips laid out, you can begin cutting your individual squares. I found it easiest to layer two pieces of burlap strips together and cut my squares that way.

Aim for squares that are at least 5"x5". 

Once you have a pretty little stack of squares, the fun part begins! 

1. Fold your square into fourths. You know, into "half and half again."

2. Round the edges of your square so that they'll gather into a pretty rosette-type form.

3. Gather (or bunch) your square together to create that pretty rosette form and begin pinning down to your wreath. Be sure to pin at the fold of the fabric. Note, if you so choose, you can wrap your wreath with a few strips of burlap prior to starting, although it's not necessary. The pins are "full" enough that once against a wall (or door!) you aren't able to see the back of the wreath.

5. Keep pinning.

5. Continue to pin your gathered ruffles around the wreath. As your wreath fills in, you'll need to step back and fill in gaps/even out the sides. Once complete, go ahead and pin your chosen ribbon or lace to the back of the wreath and hang! 

Feel free to email me with any questions at iloveyoumorethancarrots (at) gmail (dot) com and if you decide to bust out this wreath, be sure to come back and let me know! 

Happy Crafting and Happy Valentine's Day, Loyals!

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