Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Couch Arrest And Why I'm The Worst Patient Ever.

Well, Day One of "Couch Arrest" is behind me and I've learned several things about myself in the last twenty four hours. First? I suck at following directions. 

It's impossible to "mom" from the couch with an almost three-year-old and ten-month-old running amok. I mean, there's only so much Disney Junior two little short attention spans can handle. Even with baby gates barring nearly every entryway in our home, all hell still managed to break loose multiple times throughout the day.  

Second? I hate asking for help. This isn't news to me as I've always been of the mindset that I can "do it all myself" but after seeing the shape that my ankle was in at the end of the day yesterday, it was clear that I was way overdoing it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I win the award for Grossest Text Message Ever Sent as I was snapping pictures and sending my gruesome ankle image to friends everywhere. Thankfully I have some help in the form of friends and family stepping in over the next few days.

Third? I'm a terrible patient but lucky that I have such a handsome little doctor in charge of my care. Don't pay no mind to the fact that he's listening for a heartbeat in my ankle. I didn't want to hurt his feelings by asking him for his credentials. 

My house looks like we've been robbed and I would be lying if I said I didn't feed the toddler whatever he wanted when he wanted it. This means he may or may not have eaten two Oreos and two cups of goldfish for lunch. Que sera sera.

When my husband walked in the door yesterday evening, I was giving the baby a sink bath with my ankle awkwardly propped up on a kitchen chair behind me. Why? Because, at my wit's end, I let the baby feed himself applesauce in the high chair and by "feed himself" I mean I let him smear the applesauce in every crevice and orifice on both his body and the high chair. 

It was the first time I used our awesome all-natural non-toxic Spuds dishware made from reclaimed potatoes from BloomMaternity. Maclane loved it and had no trouble feeding himself with the perfect baby-sized spoon. Clearly I underestimated his talent as I was certain he would have no idea what to do with it. Just look at that concentration! Shame on me! 

I ended the day by mixing myself up a homemade Frappuccino and adding a shot (or two) of Baileys as I sat myself on the couch where I proceeded to pretend as if my family didn't exist or at the very least need my help for at least fifteen minutes. Here's what Maclane thought about it: 

Only four more days to go of this "Couch Arrest..." Is it Friday yet? If you want to follow along with my Tales From The Couch, be sure to follow #APsTalesFromTheCouch on Instagram. I promise I won't post any gruesome ankle pictures... Maybe.  


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Monday, April 29, 2013

Adventures in Diapering as a #HuggiesTester...

When it comes to raising babies, there are few things more labor intensive than diaper changes. I think back fondly to my very first parenting class in the hospital before the birth of my first son and I laugh at the task they set before us: to diaper a stationary baby doll. 

Sure those first few months the baby does indeed lay before you nice and still, a willing subject to the numerous diaper changes throughout the day and night but somewhere around the sixth or seventh month, those days of stationary baby diaper changes are long gone. 

In fact, that's the kind of test that hospitals should place before new parents. Someone should be wiggling that baby doll all around, tossing and turning him, replicating even the craziest of alligator death rolls as they try and attempt the diaper change. 

Throw in a surprise pee squirt or pudding-like poop and that's what I call a test!

Have you heard about Huggies brand new Snug & Dry diaper with SureFit Design? To read more about our new role as a #HuggiesTester and how you, too, can become a #HuggiesTester, click the picture below!

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Because Crutches Are The Latest Hot Accessory, Right?

Not a whole lot happens in our quaint little slice of suburbia, tucked neatly back in the sticks of "CaCo", so on a lazy Saturday afternoon when an ambulance shoots down our street sirens blaring followed quickly by a hovering medivac helicopter that we're certain will land in the field just a block from our house, the adrenaline junkie in me (and "hapto-copter" lover) in the toddler took off on a brisk walk down the street to, for lack of better words, be nosy. 

By the time we arrived, the helicopter had already touched down and a very large crowd of looky-loo's had gathered around. From hushed whispers I was able to piece together that there was a nearby car accident and once it was deemed necessary for the patient to be airlifted to the city hospital, a detour was made and the helicopter met the ambulance in our neighborhood, an ideal location for a helicopter to land, for the patient transfer. Apparently this is a common occurrence in these situations.

A midst all of the commotion, from a safe distance away, I began pointing out all of the emergency responders. As the toddler ooh' and ahh'd over them, I knew he was excited to have a front row seat to the action. I explained to him that we would have to pray for the young man who was being transferred from the ambulance to the helicopter. I explained to him that he was being flown to the hospital where the doctor's and nurses will fix his boo-boo's and as the helicopter lifted off the ground, the toddler cheered.

The crowd began to disperse and as I scooped the toddler up onto my hip, we began to walk away from the field, he, excitedly recanting the experience. "The hapto-copter pick up the boy. Doctor's check him. Me me pray at night night time." He really got it. Sometimes I forget how much he really understands. 

And then, suddenly, I was on the ground, the toddler in my lap, a searing pain radiating from my ankle to my knee and back. I had stepped in a six inch hold, twisted my ankle and fell like a ton of bricks.  

In front of all my neighbors. Because I had insisted on being nosy. 

Quickly, one of the neighbor-dad's asked if I was alright, if I could stand. Biting back tears and the sting of humiliation, I said I was alright, that I had definitely twisted my ankle and that I couldn't stand. He asked if I thought he should grab one of the EMTs. You know, the EMT's that were lingering after am emergent patient transfer from ambulance to medivac helicopter. 

As the EMT's gathered, assessing my ankle, asking the usual questions, I couldn't help but laugh at the toddler who was reenacting the experience. He was jumping into the hole, sitting down exclaiming, "OH MY BOO-BOO!" I swear at one point he even asked me if I needed to "wide in the hapto-copter" so that the "doctor's could check you out." 

Smart boy. 

But I digress. I couldn't stand and I definitely couldn't walk the toddler back home. I refused to ride in the offered ambulance to the hospital for recommended xrays and called my husband to come pick us up, saying that if I needed to go to the hospital, he could take me. After a few expletives and stuffing the baby into the car, I'm sure, he arrived, shocked to see me sitting on the ground surrounded by six EMT's and our good neighbor friends.

The same EMTs who had to carry me to the car. CARRY ME TO THE CAR. As if I wasn't already embarrassed enough. I signed the waiver saying that I refused a ride in the ambulance to the hospital and said a silent prayer that it was just a really bad sprain, nothing a couple ibuprofen, some ice and maybe a margarita couldn't fix. 

Three bags of ice, two sleeping kids on the couch next to me and a husband who has no idea how to maintain a sane household with a laid up wife later, it was time for bed. I hopped up onto my husband's back for a piggy ride upstairs and realized that, yes, it was indeed possible to feel even more humiliated. I hoped that by morning the swelling would improve and I could at least bear some weight on my foot. If not, I knew I would need some X-rays.   

And that's exactly how I spent our Sunday morning, at the local urgent care center, after I woke up unable to bear weight on my right foot. Unable to pick up either of the boys. Unable to change diapers, dress them or make their breakfast. Unable to stand up in the shower, unable to walk downstairs. 

Talk about a hot mess.

The verdict? A grade three sprain with torn ligaments and possible hairline fracture. There was too much swelling to determine if there was, indeed a fracture, so I left with strict instructions to stay off the ankle, ice it, elevate it and take ibuprofen around the clock. To only move around with the fancy new crutches I was provided, if absolutely necessary. To return in 5-7 days for re-imaging if the swelling has not improved.

Let's just say this week suddenly got a whole lot more interesting.  If you need me, I'll be on the couch while my two little kids patiently and quietly play at my feet. 

Because that would be nice, wouldn't it? That's the last time I play the role of nosy little neighbor... 

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Ultimate Crossover Stroller? Good Question. A Review Of The Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Jogger.

One thing I've learned as a parent is that there is no single stroller on the market that does it all. From every day errands to a quick two miles on the pavement, it's difficult to find the form and function you desire in one piece of baby equipment. 

Sometimes there isn't enough storage, other times it's not a smooth ride. The handlebar is too high, the wheels aren't big enough to move from pavement to hiking trails or maybe baby just isn't comfortable enough for any sort of trip longer than a quick jaunt around the mall. 

And then you are given the opportunity to test out the Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Jogger and suddenly you think you've come awfully close to having it all in a single stroller. 

To read my personal opinion on the new Graco FastAction Fold Click Connect Jogger, click the picture below! 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

5 Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Shopping for a few fun ideas for Mom this year? Take a look at five of my favorite picks for that special woman in your life! Whether she's expecting, just welcomed her first baby or even her third, there's something for every mom! 

I have had the privilege of working with most of the business owners you see listed above and I can guarantee that not only will Mom love any one of these gifts but the women behind these businesses are wonderful, passionate and dedicated mothers themselves. 

There may even be a discount code (or two!) that you can use so please check them out! 

1. The Reagan Necklace from Bridier Baubles: A beautiful and affordable lookalike to a very popular and expensive version, this necklace would make a great addition to any mother's Spring and Summer wardrobe! It's also available in blue and yellow. You can purchase this necklace here for $35.00.

2. A Monogram Pocket T from Lil Sweetie Designs: Everything is made sweeter with a monogram! Mom could easily pair this t-shirt with a pair of shorts for chasing after the kidlets or dress up a pair of black yoga pants while out running errands! You can purchase this t-shirt here for $23.00. Use code "ilymtc20" to receive an additional 20% off!

3. A gift card from mom and baby maternity boutique Bloom Maternity: Shopping for an expectant mother or a new mom? She could certainly use a gift card to one of my favorite online maternity and baby boutiques! Whether she decides to put it towards a new diaper bag, a padded car seat carrier or even a new maternity dress or nursing tank top, the possibilities are endless! You can purchase a gift card to Bloom here. If you happen to stumble across something else she might like, use code "carrots" for 10% off your purchase!

4. Bottomless Champagne: Okay, maybe I'm the only mother who has this on her Mother's Day wishlist. Sleeping in late, cuddles with my boys followed by breakfast in bed, a jaunt at the local spa for a massage and a day full of bottomless champagne sounds right up my alley. 

5. A Mixed Bag tote from Peekawhoo Boutique: Who needs paper or plastic when you have these alternative stylish and durable options? Whether Mom is off to the market, the pool or the beach, this tote would make a great catch-all for all her favorite things! It can even be used for storage in the playroom or laundry room. And like I said earlier, you can sweeten it up with a monogram for no added cost! You can purchase a Mixed Bag here for anywhere from $16-$24. 

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Getting Honest In The Bathroom.

I can remember all the way back to high school chemistry, afternoons spent working with caustic chemicals behind hoods, goggles and other protective barriers, learning how they mixed (and did not mix) with other substances and what type of effects these chemicals had on the environment around them and on those who used them frequently. 

A few of these chemicals were ones that I now see in my every day life, chemicals such as phosphates, chlorine and sulfur oxides. Chemicals that I once used to disinfect and clean the surfaces of my home. 

As a mom, my outlook on the use of some of these chemicals in the home has changed. I try my best to be mindful of what products I use around my children and the effect it may have not only on their little bodies but also their environment. As cheesy as it sounds, I try to be more mindful of leaving them a world that will be safe to grow in.

But, I also want a sparkling clean, germ-free bathroom! Is that too much to ask? I would be lying if I said I once thought I couldn't achieve that without harsh chemicals!

That's one of the main reasons I was so excited to test out some fantastic household products from The Honest Co., a company devoted to embracing the belief that we can make the world a better place for our children through the use of non-toxic, safe and healthy products and with more than twenty products to choose from, they are succeeding at redefining the "family brand."

To read all about my sparkling review of the following safe, healthy, non-toxic products in the bathroom and how I decided to make the switch, click the picture below!

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You Had Me At "Sexy, Loose Bun."

Several months ago and on a whim, I walked into a hair salon in my hometown in New Jersey, the same hair salon that I've been going to religiously for more than ten years, and begged my stylist to chop my hair off. 

She was hesitant as she pleaded with me to keep the length that I had worked so hard to maintain over the last few years but having recently had our second baby, I couldn't stand another minute of handfuls of hair falling out in the shower. I told her she had to cut it off and cut it off she did, making me more than seven and a half inches lighter.

I loved my sleek angled bob for a day or two but once I was left to my own devices, it never quite looked as good as it did the day I chopped it off. Does it ever? 

Since that day, I've been in a hair rut. Most mornings I shower quickly while the boys are busy playing and while it's still wet, throw my hair up into a messy bun on the top of my head. Since my hair is just past my shoulders, it involves a little extra help from a handful of bobby pins. If I'm feeling extra sassy, I'll make a quick side part and pull it into a messy low side bun. 

I never wanted to be that girl who wore her hair in the same boring style day in and day out. In the same pony tail, the same bun, the same side braid. And lo and behold, look who I've become. 

Until I stumbled upon this simple, fantastic tutorial from TotalBeauty.com: How To Create A Sexy, Loose Bun Hairstyle and began incorporating it into my drab hair routine. 

I already had the tools (a few bobby pins, an elastic, curling iron optional) and in the short amount of time it took to watch the video, I was able to work my own twist on the simple yet chic style and change up my every day boring bun. 

All that twisting and pinning may look difficult but it's actually much easier than I anticipated. Of course I felt a little "prom-y" at first but after loosening the hair at the crown of my head it started looking less "prom" and more "relaxed mom of two who's actually trying this morning." And it literally took less than five minutes. Total win. 

Are you like me and find yourself in a hair rut lately? What's your go-to hairstyle?

Prizes & Promotions page on Blogher.com: 

Sweeps Rules (4/24-4/30): 

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Monday, April 22, 2013

One Of Those Moments.

I watched as he assembled the same fishing pole of my childhood, the one that spent many summer days cast out into the pond that sat lazily behind our house. There weren't many "big fish" in the pond back then but there was a plethora of "sunnies" that would nibble a line baited with anything from Wonder Bread to hot dogs.

He taught me how to bait a hook, weight the line and cast it as far out into the water as my little arms could send it. More than technique, he taught me patience. He taught me to sit quietly and wait, keeping my eye on the red and white bobber that would no sooner signal the interest of a fish if I heeded his advice. 

I remember sitting patiently on the asphalt, the backs of my legs stinging from the heat of the summer sun as I dug through his bright orange tackle box. Picking through the bright lures that were so neatly organized in those little square cubbies, I never could decide which I loved more- the large gummy-like worms or the fuzzy lures with feathers and long tails that seemed to glisten in the midday sunlight.

He taught me how to slowly reel in the one that almost got away. One slow turn after the next until I was sure he was hooked. Faster then, but ever so careful as to not let him get away. And then the most important lesson: the lesson of catch and release. 

I learned the proper way to slide my hand over the razor sharp top fin of the bluegill so that it fell softly backwards against the weight of my hand. I learned the hard way what happens when you do not handle a "sunny" this way. Imagine a paper cut that travels the entire length of your four fingers, from pointer to pinky, on the inside of where your knuckles bend. 

He taught me how to gently work the hook from inside the bluegill's mouth. He taught me how to celebrate the catch but to quickly release it back into the water where it belonged. In between all of these lessons, he would tell me stories of his childhood. How he spent his summers. When his father taught him how to fish. 

And when that old pole was assembled, I watched as he weighted the line, tied to it a brand new orange and yellow bobber and threaded it with a brand new silver hook. I watched as he carefully secured the end of the line with a slice of cork and handed that old pole over to my son. 

I watched them as they walked hand in hand down the path that led to the pond behind our house. I listened to them as they talked about casting lines and "catching a shoe-ish." I laughed as I heard him explain to the toddler that he has to be "really, really patient." 

As he cast the line out into the water, he handed the pole over the toddler who was already wiggling with excitement at his side, half-whispering half-exclaiming, "me me chance?! me me chance?" 

And we waited. And waited. And reeled in empty line after empty line. 

But then the bobber bobbed and the toddler let out an excited shriek. My breath caught itself in my throat and I watched as my dad helped my son reel in his very first fish in the very same spot of the very same pond that I had caught my very first sunny in some twenty-odd years ago. 

Slowly at first and then faster and faster.

And just like he had convinced me to do some twenty-odd years before, he told the toddler that he had to kiss his very first sunny fish and unlike his mother, he was much too smart for that nonsense. So he touched it with his pointer finger.

After explaining to him why it was time to release the fish back, he happily stood by and watched as my dad, his Poppy, gracefully removed the hook from its mouth and lowered the sunny back into the water. 

I watched as the two of them waved goodbye to the sunny, my son excitedly bidding the fish farewell, "g'bye shoe-ish! see you later!" and my dad carefully grasping the back of the toddler's pants so as not to end our memorable experience with a swim...

In the very same spot, of the very same pond with the very same pole that I caught my very first sunny with some twenty-odd years ago under the very same guidance of one of the best fisherman I know.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Mac Allen :: Month Ten! Yowzers!

Dear Mac Attack, 

Some days it feels like just yesterday I was kissing your brother on the forehead as he slept soundly, his last morning as our only child, before I hopped into the car to head to the hospital, just hours away from welcoming you into the world. Other days it feels like a lifetime that you've been apart of our family and I have to laugh at myself for ever worrying how we would ever transition to being a family of four. 

You have fulfilled each of us in ways no words could possibly describe and our family feels more complete now than ever before. I cannot believe it has been ten months since that early Monday morning. 

We left off at the end of your ninth month with my first trip away from you. Everyone survived my absence and for the most part you exceeded my expectations across the board but let's just say that three nights away from you was plenty enough for a long time. And by a long time, I mean at least until you are weaned. 

You welcomed me home with hesitation but it wasn't long before you were laying your head on my shoulder and stroking my cheek with your small chubby hand. It didn't lake long for me to notice your first two, brand new pearly whites that had taken up residence inside that angelic little mouth of yours, something that all three of the adults left in your charge had overlooked. It did explain, however, the previous night's lack of sleep and constant fussy behavior. It's evident now that you will not escape the throes of teething  hell unscathed like your brother. That boy could cut teeth and we would all be none the wiser. It breaks my heart to see you so uncomfortable but between Tylenol, Ibuprofen and frozen rags, it looks like we may have found some reprieve.

You are constantly on the move this month, Maclane! When you're not crawling across the floor at lightening speed or up on your knees half hopping-half-crawling, you're standing up and cruising along anything that will hold your weight, Sheepie included. You have even begun to bridge yourself between the kitchen table and cabinets and from the couch to the end table. If I had to guess, you'll be walking before your first birthday. You've mastered climbing the stairs and under careful eye and close watch, you can climb all 14 of them. Both 
sets, ahem. 

You're wearing a size 4 day diaper and size 5 overnight. Your Spring/Summer wardrobe consists of 18 month and 18-24 month sized clothes and I'd venture to say you're wearing a size 4.5-5 shoe. You fit in your brother's first pair of Sperrys but absolutely detest wearing them. I guess I can't blame you considering it would be the first pair of hard-soled shoes I've ever tried making you wear. Shoot, did you throw a fit when I tried to make you wear them early this month! 

Last month I was almost certain you were getting ready to give up your second nap of the day but thankfully that was a short-lived phase. After waking for the day between seven and eight in the morning, you typically go down for your first nap of the day around 11am and will sleep anywhere from 1-3 hours. Now that the weather has turned a corner and it looks like Spring is here to stay, we spend much of the afternoon hours outside playing which means you go down for another nap typically around five for anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour.

Speaking of sleeping, you start off bedtime at 8pm sleeping soundly in your crib with nothing but your nightlight and Sleep Sheep keeping you company. After your first wake-up around 1am,  I've taken to whisking you into bed with us where I'll feed you and you'll sleep until you wake again around five. Another nursing session and you're back to sleep until between seven and eight in the morning. It's usually around the time that your brother stands in the hallway and starts screaming, "MOM! HELP ME! MAC? HELP ME!"

We spend our days reading stories, laughing, singing songs and playing. Your brother absolutely adores you, as he always has, and he loves tickling you and playing the "I'm Gonna Getchyou" game. I've even caught the two of you wrestling/tackling each other and as much as I want to blame your brother for inciting wrestlemania, sometimes it's you who is to blame! You love crawling over to him, grasping his shoulders (and hair) and pulling yourself up to slobber all over his face. 

There hasn't been a food you've tried that you haven't liked and you will eat anything that's placed in front of you as long as it's not pureed. That being said, you will abandon it all for a chance at the milk bar. You still absolutely love to nurse and continue to do so every 4-5 hours throughout the day and those two-three times overnight. 

You're saying "Mamama" and "Dadadada" and "Bababababa" but I don't quite think you're associating those words with your Daddy and I just yet. You will, however, plant a big, slobbery, fantastic open-mouthed kiss on our mouths the minute we ask you for one. Those kisses are often accompanied by a loud "Mmmmm" from you as well! 

You are cruising, clapping, waving, "dancing" and one of my absolute favorite baby tricks, showing us that you are "so-o-o-o big!" when prompted. You love your rain stick toy, Sophie the Giraffe, your stacking rubber blocks, your LeapFrog Leaptop and these little lights and sirens police and ambulance cars that belong to your brother. I swear it doesn't take you long to emulate his actions. You love so much to zoom any type of car along the ground while making the "phhlubbbb" motor noise with your lips.

You love going for walks in your stroller or the wagon, sitting on a blanket in the backyard while your brother blows bubbles and emptying the large basket of toys in the family room. You make your presence known wherever you go and you're truly the happiest baby on the block. 

Nicknames: MacAttack, Smackers, Mac-a-doodle, Mackie

We love you so much, Smackers! What a month it has been. Onward to one! Let the party planning commence...

We love you more than carrots! 
Mommy, Daddy and Carter-ito!
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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dear Sons, Our Future Is Not Guaranteed...

Dear Sons, 

  As parents, I believe the moment we opened our hearts to the idea of you, we silently took an oath to forever put ourselves, our needs and our priorities second. We knowingly committed ourselves to this responsibility and although at times the weight of it may seem heavier than we can bear, we shoulder on with the hope that one day when you're fully grown, we'll look upon you with pride and know that the blood, sweat and tears shed, on both of our behalves along the way, was more than worth it. 

  It has never been clearer than it is today that our future is not guaranteed. Navigating the unknown waters that lie ahead may not be easy but it is because we love you more than life itself that we have committed ourselves to guiding you along life’s path.
  Long before you were born, your father and I spent countless nights dreaming of your futures. When we learned that you would be our sons, our hearts could hardly contain the joy we felt at the task that lay ahead of us, the task of raising gentlemen.

  It was then that we began making promises to you, our sons. Promises that, although at times may prove difficult to uphold, they would become some of the most important undertakings we would ever commit ourselves to. 

  We promised each other to teach you humility but not so much that you doubt your own significance or lack the confidence to stand up for yourself and your ideals. We promised to teach you bravery in the face of adversity, strength in the form of words and actions. We promised to support you and encourage you in your endeavors, to be your biggest fans whether that meant celebrating victoriously or humbly accepting defeat.

  We hope that each of you will always love intentionally and unconditionally. We want for you to maintain a kindness in your hearts to strangers and those less fortunate. We hope you will be able to look upon your neighbor with compassion and sympathy and most of all, we hope you will always treat others the way you would want to be treated.

  You'll learn that the world around you doesn't make fulfilling these hopes and promises easy. Everywhere you turn you will see malice, violence, hatred and those who will intentionally go to great lengths to steal your joy.

Do not allow them this thievery.

  Your father and I promise to protect you as best we can but sometimes our protection won’t be enough. As much as we may want to shield you from the horrible nature of the world we live in, we know we would ultimately be doing wrong by you.

  It is because of this that we promise to introduce you to a most faithful God, someone who loves you even more than we do and we promise to encourage you to foster a relationship with Him. We hope that you will learn throughout your years that it is only He who can protect you in this life for He is the only one who both creates and takes away.

  As your parents we take our responsibilities to you seriously. We don’t make these promises to scare you but rather to prepare you. Not a day goes by that we don’t already worry about each of you, as our worries began long before we held you in our arms.

  We know as you continue to grow that these worries will only multiply. It is then that we have to remind ourselves that your ultimate future is not in our hands but in the mean time we will dedicate ourselves to protecting you the only ways we know how.

  We promise to not let a single day go by without reminding you of just how much we love you. How we would sacrifice anything for you.

  We are so thankful that we were entrusted with each of you and we happily accept and commit ourselves to the responsibility of caring for you, cultivating you and continuing to love you with every fiber of our being. We promise all that and more. 

                              All our love,
                            Mom and Dad

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

That Time I Almost Cried In The Checkout Line.

(kissing market buggy brothers)

I could hear the buzz of his hearing aid long before he spoke. When he did, it was louder than usual and a little bit hoarse but you could tell it was full of pride. He told me how happy it made him to see two brothers loving on each other. 

It reminded him of his younger brother, the one he lost only two years before. His brother was 83 at the time. His brother passed of cancer, something he said he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy. 

He asked how old the boys were. I told him their ages and that they are twenty-three months apart. He tells me about the sixteen month difference between him and his brother. They were best friends although they could "fight like the best of 'em" he tells me. 

His hand trembled as he reached out to touch the toddler's blonde curls. Normally such an act would make my skin crawl but he was so gentle. I tried to imagine how he must have looked when he was younger. I couldn't picture it though- it was difficult to guess his hair color being that he was completely thinned and graying now.

He said his wife had curls like the toddler's. They met in a dance hall in 1939. Her name was Annabelle. She, too, had passed. 

As tears began to prick my eyes, he told me again and again how happy it made him to see the two of them together, reaching out to one another over the handle bar of the grocery store push cart. Laughing at each other's jokes, jokes only the two of them could understand. 

He asked the toddler for a high five, who was more than willing to oblige. I told him that it was like strolling around with the mayor of the supermarket right there in my own buggy. He waved to everyone, offering up the heartiest of "hello's!"

I could do nothing but smile. 

As he turned to shuffle off with his small cart of groceries in tow, he whispered something that didn't resonate with me until I had pulled up alongside our car and began to unload the boys into the car. 

Blinking back tears, I buckled each of the boys into their seats. The toddler, no stranger to our usual after-errand tradition of grabbing a cake pop from the Starbuck's drive-thru, had already begun chanting "cake pop! cake pop! cake pop!" 

He said "bless you and those brothers" as he turned and shuffled off. Writing about it and I can feel the lump in my throat start to grow once more.

It made me pause right there in the parking lot and think. I really am blessed. 

Sure there are days when I'm constantly reminding the toddler to use his "gentle hands" and other days when I'm practically blue in the face from trying to teach him the joys of sharing, but I couldn't have asked for a sweeter, more loving big brother. His heart is so big, bigger than I ever thought such a tiny body could hold. I'm so proud of him and the way he loves his brother. It's evident that he loves him with every little bone in his toddler body. 

I'm so proud of my husband. I'm proud of us as husband and wife that we've laid the foundation to foster and share a love like that. After all, it starts with us.

I really am blessed and so thankful for the stranger who reminded me so on a day that I sure needed the reminder. As I buckled myself in, I silently whispered a prayer of thanks for him and for those sweet little brothers giggling in the backseat.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sleep Like A Baby :: aden + anais Dream Blanket & Discount!

From the moment I was gifted a set of aden + anais muslin swaddle blankets at my baby "sprinkle" for Maclane, I was hooked on the brand. Within months our collection grew from a set of four swaddles to over fourteen darling print-laden blankets. The lightweight fabric and generous size were perfect for our summer baby and I loved how the blankets could easily double as both nursing and car seat covers. 

As much as I loved the brand, I knew I wanted to branch out and try the Dream Blanket that I had heard so many great things about. I made my first purchase of two blankets as gifts for expectant friends and when Cameron from lil sweetie designs contacted me about working together and offered to send us an aden + anais Dream Blanket in the Liam the Brave pattern, I took one look at her darling online mom and baby boutique and couldn't resist!

Carrying everything from bibs and burp cloths, bows and blankets to personalized clothing for little ones and beyond, lil sweetie designs is a wonderful place to find gifts for the special mom and baby in your life. 

Here are just a few things that I've been eyeing for both of the little boys in my life as well as a few new babies who will be joining our family and friends circle in the coming months. 

As for the Dream Blanket? What a dream indeed! I may even love this blanket more than I do the traditional aden + anais swaddle blankets. With a baby who is growing by leaps and bounds and no longer appreciates a good swaddle, this blanket is a great alternative. It's so great, in fact, that even my two and a half year old loves it. 

Whether lounging on the couch, in the car or stroller or heading off to a picnic in the park, the aden + anais Dream Blanket is the perfect take-along. Generously sized at 47" x 47", not only is it great for snuggling but it also makes a great floor mat for the littler babes. 

We recently took our Dream Blanket on a stroll around the neighborhood and just as we were rounding the corner home, our blanket got caught up in the wheel of the stroller, getting dragged along the sidewalk becoming dirty in the process. One of the great things about these blankets is the more you wash them the softer they get! A welcome product treat when used around kids and babies all day long as it's bound to get dirty!

I just adore this pattern, too. The Liam the Brave pup is slightly reminiscent of a certain 100lbs. Olde English Sheepdog that shares our home and loves our boys almost as much as we do which has me loving this blanket even more!

If you haven't already visited lil sweetie designs, please be sure to head on over and check out the great line of aden + anais products in stock. It might be hard to tear yourself away from the personalized children's clothes but I promise it will be worth it! 

Cameron has graciously offered all ILYMTC readers 20% off their order with code "ilymtc20." Did you see that? A discount on anything aden + anais is practically unheard of!  Awesome, indeed. What are you waiting for? Get to shopping! Happy Tuesday!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Let The Wild Rumpus Start :: First Birthday Party Plans

"And now," Max cried, "let the wild rumpus start!"

It didn't take long for me to realize the kind of birthday party we would plan for Maclane as he turns a year old, our little wild thing. I cannot believe that it's time to start planning and that his first birthday is just two and a half short months away. 

Having a June baby is tricky, although not as tricky as having a late July baby. Hopefully the summer heat won't be sweltering and we'll be able to host it in our backyard. A low key gathering of family and friends, great food and lot's of fun. 

I am excited to pull the details of this party together. There isn't a whole lot out there in terms of Where the Wild Things Are decor and party preparation which means I get to exercise some good ol' creativity when it comes to pulling it all together. 

I don't plan to get too "character-y," but I will be using some of my favorite lines and pages from the story throughout the party. I'm thinking of using a color scheme that involves mostly yellow and grey with a few pops of green and maybe even a little orange throughout. Of course there will be a dessert table, favors and plenty of pom and tissue garland. I would even love to be able to build a DIY teepee that we could later re-purpose in the boys' playroom. 

I've already gone ahead and ordered this onesie for Maclane and will soon be ordering a matching t-shirt for Carter. Aliya of Aliya Rinaldi Designs is currently working on our invitations and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with. If time and patience is on our side, I may even try to whip up a tissue paper crown to be used in some pictures of Mac this weekend that we might be able to incorporate into the invitation. 

I'm just so excited about it all! You see, this is one of my all-time favorite childhood stories. I grew up with my parents reading it to both me and my brother and it's been a favorite read in our house during each of my pregnancies.

Are you planning any parties soon? Do you start with a theme first and then plan accordingly or do you choose a color palette first? 

All images in this post are courtesy of Pinterest. You can follow my party planning board here.

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