Friday, November 30, 2012

A Sock Monkey Christmas Stocking Moment Of Clarity

My childhood was ridiculous amounts of fun. At twenty-nine, if pressed to think about why my childhood was so fun, I would have to say it was because my mother put aside (for the most part) her personal wants so that my brother and I could grow up thinking we had everything we ever desired. 

This dawned on me as I began decorating for Christmas this year. As I went to pull our Christmas stockings from storage (and order a fourth one for Maclane), I stared down at our monogrammed LL Bean stockings and thought, "Geez, what fun are these?" In that moment I realized that now matter how much I wanted the perfect Pottery Barn Christmas tree or Restoration Hardware tablescape, I wasn't being true to who I really was. 

A Mom. 

And that's not to say that as a Mom you can't have the perfect Pottery Barn Christmas tree or the perfect Restoration Hardware tablescape because you obviously can. But for me? I thought about Carter and Maclane and how much more fun they would have seeing childish stockings hung from the mantle and bright, bold colors decorating our tree rather than the stark red and gold ornaments that I've gone with in years past or the rather adult-looking looking stockings hanging from the mantle. 

As soon as I had placed our stockings back in their tissue paper, I jumped online to Personal Creations to see what they had to offer. I had previously heard great things about both their selection and their customer service and never one to miss out on cute personalized items, I knew I wanted to check them out. 

As soon as the page finished loading I stumbled upon these adorable Sock Monkey Stockings and I knew they would look perfect hung from our mantle. Measuring 18.5 inches long, these stockings are the perfect size both for decorating and stuffing with lots of Christmas goodies. 

I especially love their retro look not to mention, how cute are those sock monkeys? Not only do they add a little something extra to the stocking but they are also removable and can double as ornaments for your tree! 

Be sure to take a closer look and note how different each of the sock monkeys is. There's a Santa monkey, a Mrs. Clause monkey and two little monkeys bearing red scarves. I mean, really. It doesn't get much more fun than that. There are two other additional monkeys to choose from; one with a striped scarf and one wearing reindeer antlers. The possibilities are endless. 

As soon as The Toddler laid his eyes on the mantle, I knew I had made the right choice. He absolutely loves his new stocking and asks each morning to "play with the Sandy Monkey." I have plenty of years ahead of me when I can decorate my house like the pages of a magazine but the years that I'll be able to hang these adorable sock monkey stockings from my mantle are numbered and I want to make the most of them while I can, starting with these stockings. 

In the midst of shopping for friends and family? Looking for great gift ideas that you can personalize with names and important dates? Be sure to check out Personal Creations and use code "Blogger25" for 25% off of your order. Happy Shopping!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this post however I did receive all four Sock Monkey Stockings in exchange for my honest opinion of both the product and the company. As always the opinions expresses are solely my own.

Maclane Allen :: Month Five

Dear Mackie, 

I've said this before with your brother and I will say it again with you. Please, please slow down sweet boy. You're growing too fast! I really try my hardest to live in the present and not dwell so much on how fast the time is flying by or how quickly you're outgrowing clothes or surpassing milestones but as I sit down and go through the notes I keep, I can't help but feel my heart leap into my throat when I think about how this time next month you will be half a year old. Oh my.

{Pictures taken November 18th, 2012 in California!}

Weight: 20lbs.
Hair: Dark brown
Eyes: Green!
Diapers: Size 3
Clothes: 9 month and 12 month sleepers, 
6-12 month GAP onesies and miniBoden

This has been your busiest month yet, Maclane and I think it should be aptly named "The Month of Rolling Over and Sitting Up." I can no longer set you down without the worry of you scooting off somewhere. The minute I set you on the ground, on either your back or your belly, you immediately take to rolling all over the place. You've even begun to shimmy and army crawl your way around. To think you were hardly doing these things just a few short weeks ago and now you're on the move. Everyone says you'll be walking in no time and as much as I laugh it off, I know those days are only just around the corner. 

Maclane, you had so many firsts this month I don't know where to begin! You took your first trip to California with your first time flying on an airplane. As always, you made Mommy and Daddy so proud by going with the flow and amazing everyone around us with your mellow, happy-go-lucky personality. Left and right people commended you on how well you behaved saying, "Wow! We didn't even know there was a baby on this flight!" You adjusted to the time change without ever missing a beat and took to your usual schedule like clockwork. 

While in California you also caught your first head cold and gave Mommy and Daddy their worst night of sleep since you were born. I think collectively we each got around four hours of sleep that night and it just broke our hearts to see you feeling so crummy. By the next morning, however, you were back to your usual chipper self smiling and laughing with your cousins. Your cold, however, did keep you home from celebrating your first Thanksgiving with the West Coast family but that didn't stop you from dressing up in your finest Thanksgiving jammies and watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on TV with your brother and me. 

Speaking of sleep, you're still sleeping with Mommy and Daddy. Daddy has given us until 2013 and then it's to the crib you go. Your days are numbered in our bed, sweet boy, but I'm still not ready to move you out! You go down for the night at 9pm and wake for the day around 9am. You are getting up to eat twice overnight, once around midnight and again around 5am. 

You continue to be an excellent nurser and we have officially surpassed my breastfeeding record with your brother (by, like, a whole entire month!). You're a boob man, Maclane and you can't help yourself. No matter how many times we try to introduce a bottle you simply turn your nose up at it and look at us like we've lost our minds. We continue to press on...

You still won't take a pacifier either. We've given up on that front. Que sera sera, sweet boy.

While in California your Mommy and Daddy decided to give you your first taste of Oatmeal cereal. We had noticed that over the last couple of weeks that we could hardly get the food in our mouths with you sitting in our laps during mealtimes. You would immediately try to grab our hands and steer the fork toward your mouth. Talk about being ready for solids? 

You freaking loved the oatmeal and your expressions while eating were priceless! Unfortunately, we noticed a slight rash on your chest the next day and it could just be coincidence since that's also the day you came down with a cold- but we're hesitant to try it again! You do love your food, Mac Allen!

You've begun to find more fun with your feet these days and when sitting in the Nap Nanny or propped up against the couch you immediately lean forward or bring them to up to your chest so that you can better grab onto them. Despite your delicious thighs, I've even caught you sucking on your toes a time or too!

You babble and chatter all day long. You just love hearing yourself talk and you'll talk to anyone and everyone who comes your way. Most recently you "Maa-Maa" all day long. It's cute until it's annoying. Just kidding. Mostly.

You are absolutely enamored with your big brother and whenever he enters the room he immediately catches your eye and you begin babbling nonstop. It's no secret that Carter can get the best belly laughs out of you by simply looking at you and smiling. You two already have such a special relationship and I cannot wait to see what the next few weeks bring. 

Let's see, what else? You grab everything, yank everything, pull everything and put it directly into your mouth. This goes for toys, non-toy items, Mommy's hair, Sheepie's hair, your brother's hair, etc. You're quite the grabby and yank-y little man. 

You love your walker (and your brother loves pushing you in the walker), your tummy time mat with kick and play keyboard and being held. It's about time to retire your swing, the Snuggabunny chair and the Bumbo and break out the exersaucer and the jumper. 

Favorite Nicknames:
... you poor kid.

Looking back at your brother's five month update, it's crazy to see how similar the two of you are! 

Happy 5 Months, Maclane! We love you more than carrots!

Monthly Stickers via the incredible Haily of LucyDarlingShop!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Top 5 Lessons Learned While Traveling With Kids

Well, we did it. We managed to fly across the country with two kids two and under and lived to tell about it. We had a great time visiting with family and friends and even managed to sneak in a "date night" which truly made our trip feel more like a vacation and less like for-the-love-of-god-why-did-we-bring-the-kids?

The boys absolutely exceeded my expectations on many travel fronts. They behaved impeccably well on both flights and adjusted with minimal meltdowns to the three hour time difference. 

That being said, I did learn a few things on our trip and what kind of friend would I be if I didn't share them with you? Here are the Top 5 Lessons Learned While Traveling With Kids:

5. Traveling with kids isn't a "vacation." It is merely taking your children somewhere other than your house for a predetermined amount of time, doing the exact same things you do at home, but with much less arsenal and more than likely, much less sleep than normal.

4. Pace the fun. When traveling by air and faced with 5 hours of in-flight time, be sure to rotate your toy and snack options wisely. Don't give up the good stuff early. Chances are you'll need to keep a few tricks up your sleeve around hour marker three point five. Two words: Tootsie pops. Or if you're like me and own an iPad, prior to your trip, spend approximately half of your children's college savings on new movies and apps. 

3. There is no such thing as "over-packing" when it comes to packing for your kids. Inevitably that extra shirt will get messy, those extra pants muddy and just like at home, you will lose baby socks. Less is not more when it comes to packing for your kids. More is more and sometimes then, not enough, and you want to make sure you're prepared for anything and everything. 

2. There is a reason you can buy alcohol on the plane. Take advantage of it. If nothing else, it will drown out your child's eardrum-bursting shrieks. If your child continues to shriek, encourage others around you to start drinking too and tell them it's on you. Of note: alcohol consumption also works when traveling solo and it is not your baby that is doing the shrieking. 

1. Remember, you're making memories. If nothing else, this type of "vacation" will leave you wondering why you so badly wanted to travel with your children in the first place. Sleep schedules thrown off? You're making memories. Both kids come down with colds just two days into your trip? You're making memories. Also? Take plenty of pictures. This way you can look at them for a good reminder when your memory evades you and you begin to feel that travel itch again. 

Speaking of "the itch," we feel it but I can say for certain that our next trip? Will be adults only. Bring on the Mai Tai's.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

They Are Enough :: Guest Post From Meagan Musing

Before you hear from Meagan, I wanted to say a huge thank you to each of the mamas who filled in for me while I was away. We had a great trip- we laughed, the boys learned important lessons on sharing, we wined and most of all, we survived a trip across country with two kidlets 2 and under. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go crawl into a hole and pass out. 

When AP asked me if I’d like to do a post for her while she’s away I thought sure, I can do that. Her readers are fun and they’ll love me!

But then she said I should write about the single greatest lesson I’ve learned from my kids.

Hmmm….that’s tricky. I have learned lots and lots of stuff since I became a mom. Probably I’ve learned more new stuff in the last three and a half years than I did in the previous 10 years combined.


-I can survive not getting more than 4 hours of straight sleep for over a year.
-I really, really love breastfeeding.
-It’s a lot easier to make new friends when you have a baby to take on play dates and to activities.
-Getting in and out of the car can cause great anxiety.
-Toys have the magical power to multiply over night.

I’ve also learned a ton about photography and design and blogging…all things I knew practically nothing about before my kids were born.

But that’s all just stuff; growing my life’s skill set.

You know what Andrew and Caroline have taught me about me?

That they are absolutely enough.

Before they were born I was so afraid that I would be bored. That I’d feel unfulfilled and lonely as a stay-at-home mom. I thought I’d want a nanny so I could rush back to work and running errands and the gym. (The gym? Just typing that make me laugh! I used to go all the time – really!)

And then they laid Andrew in my arms and there was nothing more important in the whole wide world.

And I still feel that way. I have this fancy finance degree that I use very rarely and I’m sure someday I’ll get back to it – when they’re in school and require less of my time – but for now. This is exactly where I should be. Where I want to be.

I feel like I’m making a daily, long-term investment in who they are and who they will be, and to me that’s extremely rewarding. So even when they’re driving me crazy and I don’t want to ever pick up another toy ever again I know that just being their mom is everything I want to be. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning Resilience :: Sarah, It's A Vol

Hi there everyone! My name is Sarah and I blog over at It's a Vol! I'm wife to Christopher and toddler wrangling, coffee drinking, Mississippi Hippie mom to our girl Evie. I write about our crazy adventures including real life stories about raising a baby girl, working momma-hood and life after PPD/A.

Thanks to AP for having me here today and thank you to her loyals for taking a minute to read my words!


It's amazing how much we just know before we have kids, how certain and sure our world is. Then one balmy spring day at 2:55 in the morning your whole world is rocked. Things that were concrete before have become more like, well, pudding. There are mistakes to be made and lessons to be learned. There are days when you just get it right and you fist pump the air. Then, motherhood slaps you back down again, but you get up and you keep going, because that's what motherhood is. It's flying high knowing you might have a crash landing at any time (most often brought on by a nap strike). It's limping away from the crash site and remembering that tomorrow will be a better day. It's resilience.

Since the day I became a mother I've felt like that was the lesson this tiny squalling human with the red face was teaching me. She taught me how to love deeply in the face of adversity and depression, she showed me that although this day right here was bad that not all days are to be lived in the dark. She taught me that I am not who I was, and that that's OK, to be flexible, to bend when I wanted to break, and then to bend some more. Then I learned that although the bending and stretching was painful when it was done I was stronger for the pain, better for the remolding.

She has taught me from day one that life doesn't go according to plan, that births and babies and lives can't be made to follow our will, that they will be what they will be and we can either stand rigid in the wind and break or bend in the breeze until we the storm passes and we can once again stand upright. We are changed by the storms in our life both big and small. They may simply leave a few tears behind or barely healed scars, but if we allow them to change us we will emerge as something more beautiful.  

She's a good teacher my nineteen month old daughter, she's taught me all of this simply by being born on a balmy spring day at 2:55 in the morning.

What are the big lessons you've learned from your children?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Red Ruffles Burlap Wreath :: Hey, That's Pin-tastic!

Welcome to Week 11 of "Hey, That's Pin-tastic!" If you've been following along with ILYMTC lately, you would know that we are still in California. I almost can't believe it myself and it feels like we've been gone forever. 

Since I've been doing things like wine-tasting and playing NorCal tourist, I haven't necessarily had the time to get my Pinterest on. That means that today's post comes to you from last February! As always, be sure to follow the official "Hey, That's Pin-tastic" pin board and thanks so much for checking out today's Pin-tastic posts! 

In the spirit of all things Christmas, I thought I'd take a minute to share with you all this pretty little wreath I whipped up to add just a little extra red to our Christmas 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! 

Be sure to link up your posts below! The link up will open at 7am EST tomorrow morning! Don't forget- whether you make, bake, create or decorate- just be sure to pick one pin and DO IT! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Motherhood's Greatest Life Lesson :: Molly, Stilettos and Diapers

Hey y'all! I'm Molly. Wife, boy Mom and southern gal, living in DC with my Yankee hubs. I'm a lover of all things fashion, cooking and crafting. A firm believer that motherhood and wine go hand in hand. You can read a little about all my loves on my blog, Stilettos and Diapers.

I could say that my kids have been some of life's greatest teachers for me. They've taught me things I never imagined needing to know.

I've learned alot about schedules. Strict, it doesn't matter if you got everything on your list, its nap time leave now, schedules.

I've learned how to make and serve meals that appropriately fill the food pyramid.

I've learned what cleaners and non-food items are deemed a problem by poison control and which ones say poisonous just to freak moms out.

I've learned how to wrap a pretty mean swaddle that even very beefy babes (ahem, mine) find it difficult to get out of.

I've learned that moms can survive and actually function quite well on very minimal or no sleep. It's like a Mom superpower. 

But what is the best lesson I've learned from them? 

I've learned love. What amazing and incomprehensible love. When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I wondered how I'd fit in loving a baby and my husband at the same time. How I could magically love another just as deeply as the love of my life husband.

But I did. It was automatic. Indescribable. And then came even more love for my husband who turned out to be an amazing father. 

Then I feared that having a second would take away love from my first. That my love would be divided. But it wasn't. There was only more love for my big boy who was now a big brother. 

My boys have taught me unconditional love. They throw those little arms around my neck no matter how many privileges I've had to take away that day. I hear "Mom, I love you to infinity" every night, even if it was one of those days where one too many tears were shed. 

It's that never ending love that makes Motherhood worth all the work and exhaustion. That makes me do crazy things, like climb in bed with a sleeping child, just for some more snuggles. That makes my life totally complete.

Want to see more of Molly and her sweet boys? You can do so on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

8 Life Lessons I've Learned From My Kids :: Mandy, House of Rose Blog

*This is a guest post from Mandy at House of Rose Blog.* 

I just tripped over a Matchbox car in the kitchen. I went to brush my teeth only to find that someone {not naming any names middle child - ahem} had emptied the toothpaste in to the bathtub. I found 3 dead worms in my son's sock drawer {apparently having a dog wasn't enough for him}. My lunch today included a hot dog and a lunch-able. The last movie I saw in the theater was something by Pixar and I'm pretty sure it was rated G. Having children has changed me in so many ways. As you can tell my life isn't always glamorous, but it's most certainly better with my boys in it. And although there are many times when I feel frustrated by their silly ways {especially the dead worms - not cool not cool}, I try and always remember the joy that they bring to me. Isn't it true when they say that children teach us, not the other way around?!?! If not for my children here are a few things I would have never learned: 

1. Laugh even when you feel like crying. Your youngest just threw the biggest tantrum in the middle of Kroger over the fact that you wouldn't buy him five chocolate candy bars. Everyone is staring at you and you wish you could crawl into the giant freezer in aisle 10 and disappear until the non-stop screaming subdues. You can't. So instead? You laugh.

2. To think outside the box. Like when I wonder where my son's missing frozen ice pop disappeared to and I immediately eliminate all the logical places it SHOULD be {like in his tummy or the trash can}. Instead I check underneath couches, inside the dryer, or in the flower vase on the counter that, to the naked eye, looks like a beautiful bouquet of fresh red roses but actually doubles as a garbage disposal for any unfinished snacks.

3. Don't take things for granted. I remember when my oldest child begged me for MORE hugs and kisses. We cuddled on the couch watching Tom & Jerry while he held my hand and every few seconds he would lean over and kiss my cheek as if I was the only thing on the planet that mattered to him. Now that he's all "big-time" and in Kindergarten...I'm lucky to get a side-hug out of him when I walk him to the front door of the school for drop-off. 

4. Accept whatever is thrown at you. Literally. Even if it is a poopy diaper that smells like an animal that died weeks prior. Someone, somewhere...has it worse than you.


 5. My actions are influential. Kind of like when my middle child tells me "I only threw that ball at his {the baby's} head because I saw my brother do it too." It's true when they say children's actions are a reflection of what they see at home. Now I'm trying to decide if I should trash all the balls in the house or just have a heart-to-heart with the older brother. Actions = influence. 6. To keep up with the times. I always thought that their dirty slimy hands pawing my overpriced very important electronic gadgets {iPhone, iPad, MacBook} just made my screen dirty and sticky. But, my kids have discovered programs and shortcuts that I would have never knew existed.


7. To pray every day. You can pray for fruit snacks. Or your tv. Or you can even pray that you get good toys for Christmas. It doesn't matter what you pray. God is always listening. And the single greatest thing that my children have taught me? 

8. Love is a language. My oldest child thrives on words of affirmation. The youngest likes quality time and the middle child adores affection. Understanding that each one of them feels loved by something different has taught me that love can not be defined in one sentence. Love means one thing to you and another thing to me. I love my children unconditionally. They don’t have to do anything or become anything to earn my love. They just have it and always will. Even when I find dead worms in their sock drawer. 

What life lessons have your children taught you?   

// A boy mama, wife, decorator and blogger, Mandy Rose spends her days managing her husband's websites and nights chasing kids, bathing kids, feeding kids and blogging. She blogs at and lives in Illinois with her husband, three kids, and one on the way {from the Philippines}. She quit her full time job to blog and her most recent project is a joint one between her and her husband. They co-author a blog about making money online and you can find that at // 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stress-Free Packing For Kids :: Hey, That's Pin-tastic!

If you're anything like me the thought of having to pack for two children two and under for twelve days sounds about as fun as a routine trip to the dentist. I won't even mention that this most recent trip also involved the boys' first airplane ride. If I'm being honest, the thought alone of having to pack for the boys for twelve days is enough to send me into a full blown panic attack what with the tiny shirts, the elusive baby socks, the umpteen pairs of GAP striped footie pants- I could go on forever!

That is, until I discovered the power of the Ziploc (zippie) freezer baggie.

Each of these bags is packed with a full day's worth of clothes for each of the boys from a matching shirt and pants with socks down to what they'll be wearing to bed for the night. Since the baby tends to go through more than one outfit during the day, his baggies are packed with two sets of day clothes and two sets of jammies. 

There are even extra bags packed with additional shirts for the toddler, monogrammed tops, matching sibling tops, extra socks, burp cloths and blankets.

Not only does this eliminate rummaging through the otherwise bottom-less pit known as a suitcase each morning, but it also allows your little ones to pick out their own clothes for the day with ease. Carter loves waking up each morning while on vacation and picking out his baggie for the day. With their see-thru plastic sides it makes it so easy to see what's already been put together for the day. Just grab it and go!

Doesn't that top picture make your heart sing or is it just me?

Imagine the possibilities. When packing for a little girl you could even throw in coordinating accessories, hairbands, tights, etc! It almost makes me wish that they sold larger zippie baggies so that I could fit my own clothes in them!

I purchased a box of 30-count Walmart-brand freezer ziploc bags for under $2. Larger items such as bath towels, jackets and our Bitsy Bag were folded and stored in the zippered mesh pocket in the top of the suitcase. Once the zippie bags were all easily packed into the suitcase, I was able to tuck in three pairs of shoes and a couple of the boys' favorite lovies. 

Doesn't that sound much less daunting than having to carefully fold and stack each item of clothing by itself in the suitcase risking a mess of half-folded clothes upon arriving at your destination?

A sanity-saver, indeed. 
The inspiration for this project came from this post that was linked up with Hey, That's Pin-tastic. 

Welcome to Week 10 of Hey, That's Pin-tastic!  This week I'm coming to you straight from the Best Coast! Er, I mean West Coast! Be sure to link up your posts below and follow the Hey, That's Pin-tastic pin board!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Lessons On Motherhood :: from "From Mrs. to Mama"

If you're reading this, it means I've arrived safely and survived the nearly six hour flight to California with The Husband and our two kidlets. I am so grateful for the moms who will be sharing their hearts with your over the course of the next week or so. Today you'll hear from Super Mom Becky. I swear this Mama does. it. all. Always inspiring me to do more and be more when it comes to my kids, Becky is one of my favorite blogging mamas. Not only is she a nurse (like I used to be) but she's also just a couple of months away from becoming a BOY MOM too! I cannot wait to see her sweet Elliana embrace the role of incredible Big Sister and snuggle beautiful little Graham. Read on to hear about the greatest lesson Motherhood has taught her. 

I am so honored today to be taking over AP's little home on the internet while she enjoys some good quality time with her sweet family. To start off with, let me just quickly tell you about myself. My name is Becky, and I blog over at From Mrs to Mama. I have a two {I'm still sort of getting used to saying this} year old daughter named Elliana, and a baby boy {who we named Graham} on the way with an ETA of January 9th. I blog about all things life, and today I will focus specifically on the motherhood aspect, which happens to consume 90% of everything I do, how I breathe, prioritize my day, and function as a whole. Afterall, motherhood is a major part of who I am and how far I have come.

Motherhood has also taught me a lot. In the two years that I have been blessed with this role, I have learned more about life than in my previous 24 years here on Earth. Motherhood has changed me. Molded me. Made me stronger, wiser, and more of a delicate individual. Motherhood has opened my eyes, my heart, and my soul. It's taught me patience and determination. It's tested my limits and questioned my actions. It's shown me beauty in the little moments in life.

And motherhood? Well motherhood all began on November 8th, 2010 when I gave birth to my daughter, Elliana. And without her? Motherhood wouldn't exist. All those lessons learned? Wouldn't be there. And so today, I want to focus on one of the most important things that MY daughter has taught ME.

When I initially sat down to think about what is the biggest lesson that I have gained from my daughter, I had a million and one thoughts run through my head. Although all were valid and important in their own way, there was one that stood out to me the most.

A child's unconditional love. I actually had {have} a post sitting in draft about this. I sat at my computer typing it over and over again trying to find the right words to put it all together. And if I'm going to be completely honest here? I still don't have it all sorted through. Because when I think of a child's undconditional love? I get lost. I lose my speech. And I forget how to think. And any way I write it? Brings me to tears.

Because I hit a moment not too long ago, in between the tantrums, frustrations, and the i'm-not-sure-if-i'm-doing-this-right, when I looked at my daughter and realized... wow... this child loves me no matter what. She doesn't compare me to anyone else. In her eyes, I'm her hero. I don't have to always do the right thing, say the right words, do the most fun activities, or buy the biggest toys. In fact, I could do none of those things and she would still love me all the same.

That's the beautiful thing about children, you know. They truly define unconditional love, and there is absolutely no other kind of love out there like it on earth.

So when I think I've failed as a mom....when I've had one of those "oh man" moments... when I feel like I've done it all wrong... I remind myself that my child {and future children} will love me nonetheless. That tomorrow is a new day. And that to them?

We, their parents, are as perfect as perfect gets.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You Learned WHAT From Your Kids?

Prior to having kids I guess you could say I thought I knew it all. 

Not just about mothering but about everything in between. Prior to having kids I thought I knew what kind of parent I would be. If nothing else I knew I would be relaxed. Chill. A go-with-the-flow parent, if there ever was one. 

I imagined a life of mothering side-by-side with vacations and cocktail-filled lunches with my girlfriends as my well-behaved and impeccably dressed children looked on in wonder. I imagined seamless bedtimes and nights spent curled up on the couch with my husband catching up on our day and our DVR with the house as silent as it were without being home to two small kidlets. 

Prior to having kids I imagined hosting play dates in my pristinely clean and well organized home, sharing homemade hors d' oeuvres and mouthwatering baked goods. I imagined doing so while dressed to the nines in the latest JCrew catalog pages. Keep in mind, I imagined I would also be back into my pre-baby size 2 skinnies within minutes of returning home from the hospital.

If having kids has taught me anything it's that prior to having kids, I had quite the overactive imagination.

Real life, at least our real life, looks nothing like the pages of a magazine or the set of that hilariously funny romantic comedy about those two  stylish parents with a brand new baby. 

My boys have taught me that the best laid plans will always go awry and on the days when there are plans made and it's absolutely necessary the baby nap, he won't but on the days where you have absolutely no where to be? He will sleep for three hours if you let him. 

I've learned that it's OK to have a glass of wine at 2pm in the afternoon and what's better, there is a reason that champagne mixes so well with orange juice. It's called Mothering.

I've learned to always, no matter what the errand, pack a change of clothes for everyone involved. Even if you're just going to the grocery store. Why? Because diaper blowouts know no bounds. They can happen at any time, anywhere and in anyone's lap and it's best if everyone has an extra set of clothes, just in case. 

Much like the whole napping when necessary thing, the diaper blowout won't occur until you actually forget to pack a change of clothes for everyone. I learned that from my kids the hard way. 

Speaking of clothes, on the days where I finally change out of my standard uniform of black yoga pants and no-I'm-not-still-pregnant maternity tank tops, around 4pm in the afternoon mind you, I can guarantee that within just minutes of putting on my definitely-not-size-two-skinnies, the baby will undoubtedly throw up on me. 

My kids have taught me that it is possible to love someone more than half your size with more room in your heart than you ever imagined. That with each baby born your heart will grow exponentially, making room to love them even more than you did the second before. 

My kids have also taught me that there will be days where even that overwhelming love isn't enough to keep you from locking yourself in the powder room, sinking to your knees and having yourself a good cry because you can't, for just one more minute, stand to be in the same room as them. Especially if they are anywhere between the ages of 18 and 27 months and happen to be impossible to reason with.

I've learned that the saying "don't cry over spilled milk" was never uttered by a breastfeeding mother, that I am physically incapable of letting either of my babies cry it out (much to the dismay of my husband and my desire to get more than 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep) and that I am a bit more crunchy and attachment-y than I ever thought I would be. 

I've also learned that some Rules of Parenting are meant to be more or less "guidelines" and that sometimes mothering is more like Survival of the Fittest in so much that I'll let my child play with just about anything short of the kitchen knives just so that I may sit down un-needed for 7 minutes of the day. 

I never thought I would have those kids who wore their pajamas on an errand to Walmart. I never thought I would have those kids who screamed and yelled their way through a civilized lunch at Panera. I never thought my baby would be sleeping in our bed at five months old and with no end in sight, thankyouverymuch and I certainly never thought that it would be so damn difficult to leave them in the care of someone else, just for the night, regardless of how much they may get on my nerves some days.

My kids have taught me that I knew nothing about mothering before I became a mother. 

* * * * * *

Loyals, are you in for a treat! Throughout the next couple of weeks you'll be hearing from some of my favorite blogging mamas about the most significant lessons they've learned from their kid(s). Having already seen their posts and scheduled them all, you won't want to miss them.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are We There Yet?

I used to laugh in the face of feeling overwhelmed. 

Prior to having kids, running a small business and keeping our household in a functioning state, I could tackle a to-do list like a boss. I could work 4 straight twelve hour nights, finish a stretch like that with an eight hour shift like it was nothing, come home, grocery shop, fold all the laundry AND put it away and knock the rest of my to-do list out of the park. Like. a. boss. 

So why is it, now that I'm responsible for two small heathens kids (and let's call it what it is, one giant kid) that I can't get anything done in an orderly manner? We're just mere hours away from getting on a plane and flying across the country and for the life of me I can't seem to cross anything off of my to-do list. 

In fact, just when I think I've finished a task, I go to cross it off AND IT WASN'T EVEN ON THERE TO BEGIN WITH. Talk about a slap in the face.   

While I'm at it, let's talk about packing. Despite my incredible OCD-tendencies and knack for organization in the face of utter chaos, let's talk about how small children seem to require an endless amount of shit just to make it through the day. 

I know where we're going isn't barren and I'm sure I could get to a Target or Walmart if need be but I'm not talking about dire extremes or emergencies here. I'm talking about the day-to-day play clothes and lovies and bath towels and blankets and socks and shoes and TWELVE DAYS! We're going for TWELVE DAYS! 

And why is no one helping me? By "no one" I'm looking at you, Husband. Why am I packing your clothes in addition to our two dependent children? Oh wait, I know this one. Because if I don't pack your clothes, you'll end up wearing the same pair of pleated old-man khakis and lumberjack-esque flannel shirt the entire time we're there. I definitely didn't marry the Brawny paper towel guy so I'd prefer if my husband didn't dress like him all the time. 

This isn't a vacation. This is more like a "business trip." I have a funny feeling I'm going to need a vacation from our "vacation" the minute we return. 

Are we there yet?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I Love A Good Snack Keeper.

I have never met a snack trap I didn't love. 

It's true. A cute kidlet-sized container designed to keep all of those pesky little snacks in one organized little place instead of all over the floor of my car or the cushions of my couch wins my unconditional love any day. 

When the kind folks at Nuby sent Carter the iMonster Snack Keeper to review I would be lying if I said my heart didn't do a little dance. I am a firm believer that, like diamonds, a girl Mom can never have enough snack keepers. One for the car, one for the diaper bag, a few for inside the house, they are the perfect Toddler accessory. 

With it's bright colors and adorable little monster design, the iMonster Snack Keeper was an immediate hit in our household. Of course we both appreciated the soft silicone keeper "teeth" and I extra appreciated how easy it was to remove the lid and fill with snacks. Despite this ease, the lid stays intact despite the many times it was hurled across the room by said snack-munching Toddler. 

The Nuby iMonster Snack Keeper is available at the following retailers:

Burlington Coat Factory

Disclaimer: I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. I did receive this product free for review as I am an official Nuby Mom Blogger.

Darling Chevron Scarf Giveaway :: ella madison boutique

As a {relatively creative} small business owner and mama, I just love it when the Internet connects me with other {majorly creative} like-minded small business owning mamas like myself.

Just last week I was introduced to Heather, brilliant boutique owner, fashion-savvy Mama to Ella and real-life friend of Molly, whom you may recognize as the Duchess of Fork. Heather recently launched ella madison boutique, a trendy online women's shoppe that is chock full of trendy clothes, gorgeous baubles and fantastic personalized gifts. 

Not only is it evident that Heather has great taste in the season's hottest clothing and accessories but she also has a knack for finding some of the trendiest pieces and sharing them at affordable prices. Hello, have you seen these houndstooth leggings? Let's take a minute and talk about this fab color block top. I am in love.

Heather graciously sent me this orange chevron print scarf and I've worn it no less than five times already and received numerous compliments on it. It has easily become one of my favorite Fall accessories and is a bright, bold, fantastic addition to just about any outfit this tired mama manages to throw together.

Lightweight, versatile and most importantly, long (gotta love a great scarf you can tie a myriad of ways!), this scarf is the perfect accessory to punch up your every day style!

Today, Heather wants to give one lucky Loyal their very own Orange Zig-Zag scarf! Be sure to use the Rafflecopter widget below for easy entry. Congratulations on your new venture, Heather and thanks so much for the awesome scarf!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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