Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Grace, Please.

For the first time in nearly three years, I wished myself away from my children. 

I wished not just in my head but out loud that I had a job outside of the home, a job that took me away from them so I wouldn't have to talk over them all day, reprimand them, to yell at them, my commands falling on deaf toddler ears. 

Some days I feel like a broken record. "Don't sit on the table. Don't jump on the couch. Don't pull the baby's leg. Don't drag the baby across the floor. Don't throw your trucks. Stop taking his toys. Please share your things. Help me clean up. Just sit down. SIT STILL FOR A MINUTE. NO! NO! NO!"

Most days are good days. Great days, even. But some moments are just bad enough that they almost make you forget the great days. 

It was seconds after the toddler head-butted the baby down the single step down in the kitchen that I lost my shit. He was fine, of course, shaken up no doubt, but I lost it so bad by the time I was done yelling at the toddler, with tears streaming down his face, he was asking for his daddy. 

With tears streaming down my face, I told him I know exactly how that feels. 

It was not my finest mothering moment. In fact, it's one among many that I'm not particularly proud of but this shit is hard. Mothering is no joke. It's not playing house. It's not all dandelions and pancakes, pinterest projects and perfect pictures. 

It's a text message to your husband at 5:30pm asking him to come home because you can't, not for another minute, be in the same house as your kids. Because walking out on them, as crasy as it sounds, actually seems like a really good idea at the moment. 

It's a baby gate on the toddler's bedroom door and quiet time for the baby in his crib as you sit in the cold, quiet basement, monitors turned off so that you can't hear the constant calls, "Mom! Mommy? Momma!" Ashamed for how you reacted, racking your brain for other ways in which you could have handled the situation. 

I've never wished myself away from my kids and almost as quickly as I wished that wish, I regretted it. But I'm only human. I only have so much patience. There is no manual to mothering. I don't know about your kids but mine certainly didn't come with a handbook, let alone a loose set of "guidelines" or shit, helpful tips even. 

I'm so grateful for a husband who, without hearing the frustration or the sadness and regret in my voice, knew immediately that he had to come home. Who walked through the door after a crazy day at work and said, "go." 

He also said, "boys, take it easy on your mama or you're going to leave me with a ragged, empty shell of a woman I used to know," but that's neither here nor there. 

I'm writing this because I know I can't be the only know who feels like this sometimes and it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one who maybe once (or twice) wished themselves away from their kids only to find themselves curled up on the edge of their sleeping toddler's bed a mere three hours later, tears streaming down their face as they apologized to their sleeping toddler, hoping that when he wakes he won't remember Scary Mommy, but rather the mommy who blew bubbles and painted pictures and splashed around in the backyard kiddie pool that hot Wednesday morning.

Mothering isn't easy but I find peace knowing that tomorrow is a new day. I don't know about you but I could sure use more grace, please. 


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

We're Off To The The Big Easy But Need YOUR Help! #mynola

Let's play a little game, shall we? A word association game, if you will. I'm going to throw out a word, two words, actually, and I need you to say what immediately comes to mind. Ready?

New Orleans

So, what did you say? Did you say, "Mardi Gras?" "The French Quarter?" "Hurricanes?" "Beaded necklaces?" If you mentioned any of the above, welcome to my brain. 

I'm not going to lie. When I think of New Orleans, I immediately think of Mardi Gras. The French Quarter. Of Hurricanes and beaded necklaces. I think nothing that screams "family vacation." 

Which is kind of funny considering I'm in the throes of planning our next family vacation there. We leave in two weeks. And that is why, dear readers, I need your help! 

By now you  know I rarely do anything without conducting thorough research and planning a family vacation is no different. After all, it's not just me and my husband that I have to worry about but meals, activities and adventures that are suitable for two little boys, 3 and under, in a city that I've only read about in books and seen on television.

I know The Big Easy isn't just for big people and I'm determined to explore and experience everything that this incredible city, rich in history and in culture, has to offer, starting with eating Maclane's weight in beignets at Cafe Du Monde. I'm not even kidding.

Currently, I'm utilizing two fantastic resources to plan our trip itinerary, Follow Your Nola and the New Orleans Mom Blog. Each of these websites is chock full of information related to everything New Orleans. From where to stay, where to eat and what activities to plan, these resources have been priceless! 

With a little less than two weeks until our departure, I'm up to my ears planning! To help me bookmark places I want to be sure to visit, I've created a Pinterest board. Be sure to take a look at it and if you're familiar, let me know what I'm missing! 

Places and spaces that are on our must-see list? 

If you happen to be on Twitter, I would love for you to tweet me any New Orleans must-see, must-eat, must-do's @LvdMoreThnCrrts. Be sure to include the hashtag #mynola and you'll be entered to win one of these amazing prize packs made up of awesome gifts such as Amex gift cards, sunglasses, travel totes, mugs, instant film for your brand new Polaroid camera and more! 

We are so excited about our upcoming family vacation to Nola! Both The Husband and I have a shared passion for travel which has taken a bit of a backseat to raising our boys these past few years but we both agree that it's a passion we hope to cultivate in them and what better way than to start traveling with them while they're young? Packing and planning may be a bit of a headache now but I know the stress will all be worth it when we arrive! 

I almost forgot, I've heard the Streetcars are also a must-do and a great way to get around the city. My husband is especially excited to take a riverboat tour! Have you ever been to New Orleans? I know I've got some readers who are from the area, so don't be shy! I'm asking for your help! Help me plan our next family vacation! 

Don't forget, tweet me or post to my Facebook wall any suggestions for our vacation destination and use the hashtag #mynola to be entered to win an awesome prize pack! From what I've heard it's going to be a hot one! I'll be tweeting, planning and updating our itinerary over the coming week and will be sure to share it with you as we get closer to departing for The Big Easy!

This is a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions expressed are honest and truly my own. I did not receive financial compensation for these opinions. I did, however, receive an all-expense paid family vacation to New Orleans. 

Stop And Watch The Bulldozers Because Babies Don't Keep.

If being a mother has taught me anything at all, it has taught me to slow down. To appreciate the smaller moments. To understand that babies really don't stay little for very long at all.

This may seem like an obvious realization to most but as I sit on the horizon of two very special little boys' birthdays, I can't help but feel like I've been hit with a ton of bricks.  

I can't tell you how many times I've been in the car, my two sweet little boys in tow, driving past a bulldozer or other construction truck, be it parked or in motion and almost immediately a tiny voice from the backseat sweetly demands, "turn around the car, mommy? I see a bulldozer!" 

And who am I to say no? It's not like our typical errands are any more important than blowing my toddler's little mind. So I do just that. I turn the car around and we find a place to park as we watch the bulldozer in action. And for the rest of the day? Maybe even into the next morning? It's all about that bulldozer we watched. Scooping, digging, lifting and building.  

Weather permitting, I try and take long walks with the boys every day. Not only does it tucker them out but fresh air is good for the soul, both big and small. On days where we spend the majority of the day outside? Bedtimes are easier and earlier. I have more patience, am more tolerant, say "yes" more and "no" less. But those walks? Take forever. In fact, I'm not even sure my heart rate ever gets above 70 because we're stopping so often. Stopping to drop small rocks down the drainage pipe covers. Stopping to pick up sticks, stopping to check out the bugs. Stopping to take a rest on a garden wall because stopping so much sure is exhausting. 

But I have to remind myself, one day, these boys aren't going to want to ride in the car with their mom while I run errands. "Quick trips" will be a thing of the past as they whine and refuse to take the five minute car ride with me to the grocery store. 

One day they won't willingly take walks with me. They'll be too big and too busy and too cool to do silly stuff like that with their mom. They'll be into boys things with their boy friends and there will be no girls allowed.

And lord knows, one day, I won't be the number one woman in their life. It may very well be a silly thing to think about while they're just shy of three and one years old but it's a fact that I will inevitable have to face and one that already pulls at my heartstrings. 

So for now? As that little hand slips thoughtlessly, seamlessly into mine and pulls me to a halt on our walk just to bend down to watch a line of ants march around a fallen leaf? You damn well know I'm stopping and bending. 

When that tiny voice asks to turn the car around, adding fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes onto our errand-running? You'd better believe I'm turning that car around and maybe even stopping for ice cream before we sit and watch those bulldozers do their thing. 

Because babies don't keep and before I know it? They'll be too big and too busy and too cool to do these things and this mama needs to soak it all in before then. 

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hi, My Name Is AP and I Love Walmart.

Most people cringe when they hear the word "Walmart." I, however, tend to get a little excited. I didn't always feel this way, so hear me out.

We kind of live in the sticks. In fact, most people, when told that we live at the end of Route XYZ, express a small level of shock as they quickly reply, "Gosh! I didn't even know you could take the road that far."  Well, it's true. You can and if you did, you would find our house, tucked quaintly among acres of farmland, behind one of those old-fashioned Main Streets you see in movies and magazines. 

Although I give Maryland a lot of flack, it's really kind of nice. 

That said, it's really kind of rural and with rural comes lack of easily accessible retail stores. Now we do have a couple of national grocery chains and one mid-size clothing department store but we don't have a mall. Or a Target. Driving to either of those places requires a 25+ minute car ride and as they saying goes, "ain't nobody got time for that." Especially when it involves toting two disgruntled kidlets in tow.

But we do have a Walmart. It's not one of those fancy super Walmart stores, just a plain ol' regular Walmart but it's still awesome. I never ever thought I would mutter those words but it's true. I love going to Walmart. In fact, each of my boys' first outings after coming home from the hospital was to Walmart for some fresh air and last minute baby necessities. Maybe that's why their immune systems are so awesome?

You want to know why I love Walmart so much and why I was there buying some baking essentials this weekend? Believe me, it's for a recipe you won't want to miss! Click here to read more!
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy 11 Months, MacAttack!

Dear Mackie,

Eleven months. I know I say this every month but this has seriously been the fastest eleven months of my whole life. Although the days sometimes feel much too long, at the end of them, I sit back and think that these last eleven months have gone by in a flash. 

I can still remember riding home from the hospital with both you and your brother in the backseat, ready to begin this grand adventure of life as a family of four, anxious as to how our days would unfold. I worried because I didn't know any better. If I only I could go back in time to that drive home in the car and tell myself just how wasted those worried thoughts would be. 

Maclane, it wasn't until we brought you home that we realized how incomplete our family was. You have brought so much laughter and joy to your daddy, your brother and to me. Our days are brighter, louder and more full because of you and we wouldn't trade it or change it for the world. 

This last month has been such a whirlwind. One minute your taking two to three unassisted steps bridging yourself between furniture and the next minute you're walking clear across the family room of Gammie and Poppy's house in New Jersey. Your Poppy, big brother and I watched on in amazement as you took your first steps and after catching them on video we celebrated and cheered so loud for you, as if you'd just won the Nobel Prize. You were so proud of yourself and each time you take off across the room, the biggest smile stretches across your face. 

Speaking of smiles, you wake up each morning happier than a pig in dirt. It's as if you know how much of a gift each day is and you just wake up bright-eyed and ready to embrace and celebrate the day. I swear, you're the happiest baby I know. 

You're walking, running, dancing, clapping, waving bye-bye and talking up a storm this month. Always in motion, always on the go, always with somewhere to be and something to do. You absolutely love to dance and the minute anyone starts singing or music plays on the TV or radio, you immediately starting clapping your little hands and doing this ridiculous shoulder shake and arm sway. No matter where you're sitting or standing you only dance with the top half of your body and it's pretty much the cutest thing ever. 

You point to what you want and where you want to go. Each of these directions is often accompanied with a, "eeeeeh?" sound. You can be a little bossy when it takes us a minute to figure out what you want. You certainly inherited your mother's patience. 

At this rate, I'm fairly certain I will be nursing you until you enter middle school. Now, I know that won't be the case but good lord do you love the milk bar. You're still nursing three to four times throughout the day, before bed and once during the night. I have no idea how to wean you as this is my first rodeo making it this far but if I'm being honest? I'm in no rush to cut you off. I've always let you dictate your schedule based on your needs and it's worked for us. So, why mess with a good thing?

This month you've nom'd on turkey burgers, salmon, watermelon (a previously disliked food) and just about every other fresh fruit you can get your hands on. You continue to love green peas, corn and steamed carrots. You still loathe broccoli. One of your absolute favorite foods is peanut butter and the minute we give your brother a PB sandwich you immediately take off after him trying to pry it from his hands. You're still not a huge fan of water or even whole milk- you'll only take big gulps from your brother's cup and let it spill out of your mouth over your chin. Can't say we didn't at least try. 

You still hate pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups. You'll suck from a straw cup but still prefer to saddle on up to the milk bar. Like I said, middle school.

You're favorite time of day is bath time and you splash and shriek and shout like a maniac the entire time you're in that water. Similarly, the weather has finally warmed up enough on occasion that I've started filling the plastic kiddie pool out back with water and you are just beside yourself in it. You could spend an hour sitting, splashing and climbing into and out of that $10 pool. We can't wait to take you to the beach!

You weigh 25lbs. and are wearing size 5 diapers and 18-24 month clothes. At 30.5 inches tall, you're 2 inches shorter than your brother at this age but roughly 3-4lbs. heavier. There's no denying that you're a bit of a bruiser, Maclane!


You hair is still brown, as are your eyes! They were looking hazel for a short while but it turns out you take after your mama after all. In fact, you're the spitting image of her as a baby and I just love it so much!

Your favorite toys include whatever your brother is playing with at the moment. This includes the iPad, any of his trains on the playroom train table, his Leaptop computer and his hot wheels cars. You love swinging in your swing beneath the deck and opening and closing all of the cabinet and oven doors on the play kitchen. You also adore chasing after your brother as he runs around the first floor of the house. The only thing that slows you down is the step down in the kitchen and even I know that obstacle will be short-lived. 

Your most-used nicknames this month include Mackie, Smackers and MacAttack.  The minute we say your name you stop whatever it is you're doing (or not supposed to be doing) and flash us the cheesiest grin. You're such a ham, Maclane. No new teeth month either, just those two little bottom ones hangin' tough. 

Happy 11 months, Maclane! Pack your bags, sweet boy! You're birthday party is in less than three weeks and just a few days after that we board a plane for what I hope will be an exciting family adventure! Thank you for being such a BIG joy in our lives! 

We love you more than carrots, 

Mommy, Daddy, Carterito and the Sheepster



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Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Toddler Is A Movie-Streaming Whiz.

Like clockwork, I hear the sound of the toddler's bedroom door open. A minute passes before it slams shut, a sound that is nothing but brain-jarring at six-thirty in the morning. 

In a sleepy daze I vow to punch whomever is slamming doors at this ungodly hour but as the fog of sleep lifts from around me, I can hear the toddler standing outside my bedroom door yelling, "Mom? Mom? You there? I nee halp! Sheepie? Come halp me!"

I clumsily extend an arm from the warm tangle of sleep and pillows and reach for the iPad that sits on my nightstand. Pulling it from it's charging post, I slide out of bed with it and stumble into the hallway where the toddler is standing bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on the other side of the baby gate that promises no late night adventures around the house. 

I hand over the iPad as he quickly runs back into room, jumping into bed with a hearty, "Danks, Mom! Now I watch a movie!" With tiny tech-savvy fingers I watch as he navigated the tablet, a swipe here, a swipe there. Within seconds the screen illuminated with red as the Netflix app came to life. 

I have now bought myself at least another forty-five minutes of uninterrupted slumber as familiar voices begin to flood the toddler's bedroom. 

Want to know what the toddler was watching and how Netflix has a portal in place that allows parents to rest easy, assured their tiny fingers won't wander into inappropriate media selections? Click the picture below!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Putting My Children Before My Husband.

One of my husband's more prominent love languages is words of affirmation and when you marry someone whose love language is vastly different from yours, holidays, anniversaries and even the nitty gritty day-to-day can be a challenge but that's a post for a whole other day. 

It's no secret that one of my love language is gifts and not because I'm selfish and love things. Well, I do love things but as anyone whose love language is gifts will tell you, it's much less about the materialistic nature of the gift and much more about the time and thoughtfulness put into the gift that speaks volumes. 

Recently my husband in all of his "words of affirmation glory"  said something to me that has since resonated, echoing in my ears multiple times throughout the day. He was praising my efforts as a mom and letting me know just how grateful and appreciative he is on the daily that our kids are being raised by me. 

He threw out words like "adore," "incredible" "lucky" and "amazing" and although I'm often uncomfortable when on the receiving end of compliments, even from him, I couldn't help but blush a bit and pat myself on the back for a job well done. 

He joked about how he's my "third biggest fan," close on the heels of my number one fan who may be biased as his affections for me have a lot to do with my breasts and behind even our oldest son who staunchly refuses to let anyone take him up to bed each night other than me. He laughed and quickly followed up by saying, "I come third, but I'm okay with that right now." 

And it hit me. 

He's right. For a while now he has come third. As anyone with kids as little as ours will tell you, it's difficult to make time for anyone else, including yourself, when you're busy neck-deep in raising them. Between the fog of newborn-dom and the terrible twos, lack of sleep and let's call it what it is, trying your damnedest to keep them alive and out of the ER each and every day, there isn't a whole lot left for anyone else. Emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually.

I would be lying if I said that my wifely duties both in the kitchen and the bedroom have suffered a bit (maybe moreso than I care to admit) since we had the baby. I'm only human and I'm only one person and hot damn, raising two little boys under three is exhausting! There's just no two ways about it. 

I applaud the women I see in social media who appear to do it all. Believe, I am not one of them. When I bake? I don't cook. When I steam clean the floors? I forget about the laundry. Too many Mondays have come and gone where my husband hasn't had any clean socks to wear to work that morning. Shame on me. 

That's when I take a minute to remind myself that without my husband, we wouldn't have these two beautiful blessings that take up so much of our day to day energy. The foundation we lay for them now as husband and wife and mom and dad will be the foundation that their entire future is built upon. Nobody wants to build upon a weak and shaky foundation.
I'm no expert when it comes to marriage, although I have to say we have a pretty awesome thing going these last five and a half years and I'm certainly no expert when it comes to raising kids either. I  mean, have you heard my child tell you to "mine your bizzies?" What makes our marriage so successful, however, is that it's made up of two people who allow each other to falter. Who show each other patience, understanding and forgiveness even when it isn't the easiest to do. 

After all, he's a yell-er and I'm a door slammer. 

I'm thankful to be married to a man that doesn't mind "coming in third" to our children in this stage of life. I love him so much more for realizing and understanding that this is not a permanent season in our life. That it's also a learning process for the both of us and that I'm really trying my hardest to accommodate the needs of everyone in our family. 

Even if that means I occasionally fall asleep in the toddler's bed at night or forget to move his laundry to the dryer. Regardless, I'll always be his number 1 fan.

 2007, Our honeymoon on Kauai.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mackie Walks! The Incredibly Amateur Video.

Let's face it. New Jersey is better than Maryland for many reasons and it's not just because my parents live there (but it is) or because of the awesome bagels and pizza (but it is). It's awesome because it's also where Maclane took his first steps and a few days after that, started running. For real.

Now, please excuse my incredibly amateur video editing skills. You see, this is not my forte and not only am I on a laptop in New Jersey that I don't normally use but I'm converting video files and splicing things and using shady software and really making a fool of myself when it comes to editing movies.

Forgive me, okay? One day I'll get the hang of this and register whatever ridiculous video converting software I downloaded from god knows where (sorry husband) so that there isn't that annoying watermark. 

In the mean time? Here's a video of Maclane's latest and greatest accomplishment. On May 9th, nine days before his 11 month birthday, he took his very first steps. Within days he was up and cruising like a pro. Carter started walking on his 11 month birthday and I will never forget the day I saw him toddle down the hallway in our kitchen. Big boy status, achieved. 

Way to go, MacAttack! We're so proud of you. I, on the other hand, need a stiff drink. Two bipedal kids is no f'ing joke and Maclane is at the exact head-height of every single object of death in our home. It's time to put the ER on speed dial or buy the kid a helmet. 

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Monday, May 13, 2013

I Vote For A New Holiday, The Day After Mother's Day Day.

"1,034 days. You've been a mom for 1,034 days and if you really think about it, you've had maybe five days off in all that time," said my husband on the phone last night. My reply was simple, "Well, I certainly don't do it for the vacation days!"

I guess I had never even thought about it like that, but he's right. Almost. I've spent six nights away from the boys in almost three years which means I've technically had six days "off" from being a mom. That makes me laugh, mostly because I knew when I decided to become a mom that days off weren't exactly a part of the package. 

Although the benefits are priceless, being a mother certainly isn't a job one chooses for the recognition much less the hours. Bankers hours this job certainly is not. While we're on the subject, I have a hard time calling this a "job," kind of like how I hate asking my husband to "babysit" our kids while I spend a couple of hours running errands on a Saturday.

Being a mom is something I chose to do. It's a sacrifice and a blessing all wrapped up into two little bodies. It's consciously making the decision to be selfless, to put your needs second and the needs of your family first. Three years in and I still struggle with that some days. 

Being a mother is hard work. The hardest work I've ever done and I think that says a lot considering I've held the hands of the dying and been witness to miracles. Every day I feel the pressure of raising my boys to be kind, respectful, humble contributing members of society. Especially when one of them is standing in the middle of the grocery store shouting at me to "mine your bizzies."

Mother's Day is much like Valentine's Day in so much that it forces your loved ones to buy you a card and shower you with niceties and the occasional present. That said, it's nice to have a day come around each year where others are forced to recognize your sacrifices and accomplishments and you, as mom, have an excuse to politely demand sleeping in and no diapers to change before 11am. 

What really makes me laugh is that a mere 24 hours later, you're back in the trenches wiping noses and slinging dirty diapers like they're going out of style but with flowers to keep alive and a box of chocolates on the table teasing your ass out of the shape you worked so hard to get it in over the last several months. 

But hey, at least you got to sleep in and mom, you'd better appreciate it because those few extra hours you got are going to have to last you another 364 days. 

I vote we induct a new holiday into the calendar year, The Day After Mother's Day holiday, when reality sets back in and you're left clinging to the extra hours of sleep you won't see again for another whole entire year while you're two kidlets hold a screaming match at the kitchen table while simultaneously throwing their breakfast that you worked so hard to make to the dog.  

And while we're on the subject, is it so much to ask for just one decent family picture? JUST ONE? I'm seeing all these perfectly posed, perfectly coiffed mothers and their offspring popping up in my news feed, tweet feed, blogroll and I can't help but wonder "where can I get whatever sedative they gave their kids?" 

I'm kidding. I take that back. That picture you see up there? Is just perfect. That's my family and those two little boys you see? They're the ones who blessed me with the work that is being a mom and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Happy Day After Mother's Day. 
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Make Your Own :: Watermelon Slushie Shakes.

The smoothie craze hits in waves here in our house. Months will fly by where my husband and I are feverishly making smoothies in the morning before our day begins and then winter usually sets in and we retire the Magic Bullet until the warmer months reemerge. Our smoothies aren't fancy by any means, usually just some frozen fruit, greek yogurt, vanilla whey protein and juice (orange or a tropical fruit blend) to ease the blending process. We buy the frozen fruit in bulk from Costco and it will usually last us a few weeks before we have to replenish our stash. 

Even though the weather here has been less than desirable for the month of May, I started making smoothies a few weeks ago when the temps were in the high seventies and although most mornings it's still in the forties around here, I wake up looking forward to an ice cold shake for breakfast. 

And in this case, a pre-dinner snack. 

As the boys were ramping up winding down in the final hour before my husband was due home, I decided, as I was chopping up a fresh watermelon, that I needed a frosty little pick-me-up. Although I would have much rather brewed a pot of coffee for a late afternoon frappuccino, I knew this was the healthier option. Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious.

Watermelon Slushie Shake (More slushie, less shake)

What You'll Need: 
- 2 cups of fresh cut watermelon, preferably seedless. If not, you will need to de-seed.
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar or 1 packet Truvia (as I used)
- 2 cups of ice cubes

What You'll Do: 

Throw it all in your blender (or in my case, the Magic Bullet) and blend until desired thickness. I prefer for mine to be a bit more on the icy/slushie side so I do not blend until it is 100% smooth.

After whipping this delicious watermelon slushie up, I took to the internet to find ways that I could make it thicker and creamier on the days when I might want something more shake-y and less slushie. I found this recipe that calls for frozen watermelon chunks, erasing the need for ice cubes, thereby rendering something that much closer resembles the milkshake. 

I already can't wait to try it! What are your frozen/fruit smoothie go-to recipes?

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life Lately. "Shup-Up, Mom!"

Things are great here. They really, really are. I mean, of course they could always be better, right? It could be warmer outside (hello, schizo Mother Nature), it would be awesome if I wasn't up to my ear-balls in laundry every godforsaken day, I would appreciate it if my ankle would heal one hundred times faster, etc. but those are all trivial things. 

Aside from all of that? Things are really, really good. Which might explain why I haven't had a whole lot to say. I haven't been baking up a storm so I don't have any recipes to share. I don't really have any wisdom regarding how (or how not) to raise your children to impart and you certainly don't need me jumping on any soapboxes. So? We've kind of just been kickin' it. M Family style. 

We're busy and I mean busy with a capital "B". I just finished co-hosting my sister-in-law's first (of many) baby showers this summer and I had so much fun exercising a little creativity around a very simple primary color theme. We had a blast showering her and baby Gavin with love and presents and I cannot wait to squeeze his little guts come July. You see, she's due with G Baby just one week before Carter's birthday and each time she posts a pregnancy update, I can't help but think back to each of my summer pregnancies. 

And within seconds I'm reminding myself of this year's goal. It's a good thing I'll get my baby-fix in the form of a brand new squishy nephew in just a few short months.

With Maclane's first birthday party right around the corner, I can now dedicate 100% of my energy to planning his Where The Wild Things Are party. I apologize to my husband in advance as it looks like we may be eating tuna noodle casserole and Kraft Mac-n-Cheese the last two weeks of this month as I may have already spent some grocery budget on party necessities. Maybe. See my blonde-haired little sister-in-law up there? She was in a sorority in college and therefore she is a creative genius when it comes to all things crafty and party decor. She's come up with some amazing ideas so here's to hoping we're able to pull them off in a little more than 3 weeks. 

Maclane is days away from walking unassisted. Sure there is a small part of me that wants to push him over and sit on him so that he stops growing up so damn fast but at the same time he's at such a fun age that I can't help but love what each new day brings. Exploring, moving, interacting, dancing- I just love it so, so much. 

Can we take a minute and talk about how much fun it is to have a small human living with you who has his own thoughts and opinions? I'm serious. Carter is pretty much the coolest, most hilarious kid I know and I find myself waiting with baited breath to hear what's going to come out of his cute little mouth next. 

We've been waiting patiently for Carter's vocabulary to explode and over the course of the last several weeks it has just exploded by leaps and bounds. Our pediatrician was never concerned (are they ever?) and always said we would evaluate him at his 3-year appointment in July if need be. He always said the "right amount" of words and was stringing two to three of them together at a time but wasn't really ever conversing with us or parroting what we said consistently. With a recent onslaught of ear infections I was concerned that his ears might be the cause of his delayed speech  but it turns out he was just waiting until he was ready. 

I would like to point out that I really did have faith in him all along. I really felt like he was just waiting until he was ready. Well, we're at the point now where I rarely have to translate for him and he's speaking in full sentences and asking questions and pretending like he runs the show. Which, if we're being honest, he pretty much does. Just don't tell him that.

I, on the other hand, really have to watch my mouth now that I have a little Repeater Ronny running around the house. Just the other day, my SIL and I, along with our friend and babysitter, had been having a rather loud conversation at the kitchen table. Apparently we were too loud because without warning Carter shouted at the top of his lungs, "SHUP UP, MOM!" At first I thought I was hearing things but after he repeated himself a few more times, I tried to stifle both my laughter and mortification by ignoring him. 

Then I decided I should probably tell him that we don't speak like that and it's better to say, "Please be quiet." If only "Please be quiet, Sheepie" was as effective as "SHUT UP, SHEEPIE!" Believe me, I take full responsibility for that one and after sharing the story with my mom she did say, "Well, Ash, it could have been much worse" and she's right. 

If you follow me on Facebook then I'm sure you've already seen this hilarious and slightly inappropriate video of Carter sharing his new favorite number. I have no idea where he comes up with these things but EVERY day EVERY thing is all about this number. 

We spent this past weekend finally planting bushes in our front garden beds, the same beds that have sat empty since we bought our house three years ago. It was getting to the point where our house looked rather vacant from the front and truth be told, it was a little (okay, a lot) embarrassing. Especially since our neighbor's lawn resembles a manicured golf course. My thoughts on shopping for bushes and shrubs? They're awfully expensive for just sticks and leaves. Happy Mother's Day to me. 

The Straw-ber-itas flow freely after five (okay, seven o' clock at night) even if the laundry isn't folded and has sat in the same baskets in the same spot on our floor for the last several days. I haven't baked a single dessert in weeks which probably accounts for the fact that I can wear the same pairs of shorts I wore my freshman year of college. 

Our days are full of fun and laughter (even more so now that we have an almost permanent moon bounce in our backyard) and midday 90's music dance parties. When we're not grilling dinner on the deck with the boys, we're down the street making the most of our kid-filled nights with our parent friends in the neighborhood. 

Life is good. No, actually, life is great, even if my toddler does tell me "SHUP UP!" at least 69 times a day. 
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Monday, May 6, 2013

I Did It. I Finally Finished The Nursery.

I feel like most of the rooms in my house are constantly a work in progress. Although we moved into our house, a veritable blank canvas, just a little over three years ago, I've just now begun getting tired of the decorative choices I made back then. Things like paint colors, the arrangement of furniture, bathroom mirrors and even bed spreads are being changed out left and right. 

Back in 2011 when we found out we were expecting another boy, I couldn't wait to get started on another baby boy nursery. Unlike the first time around, Maclane's nursery was 90% finished by the time he arrived. I also took the room in a completely different direction than I did the first time. We don't have to talk about how he didn't start sleeping in there until he was well over six months old. 

Whereas Carter's nursery was more "vintage preppy Peter Rabbit," Maclane's nursery had much less of a theme and much more of a "grey palette with bold patterns and pops of color." Shortly before Maclane was born I shared a rough and dirty "finished product" of his nursery but I would be lying if I said I was 110% in love with how it turned out.  

For one thing, the room lacked a light. Any sort of light. And it took nearly seven months to pick out a fixture that I loved and three additional months for my husband to install it. And then there was the curtains. If you know anything about me, it's that I have a serious rug problem that is only rivaled by my affinity and indecisiveness for window treatments. 

Although I absolutely loved the print on the curtains I found from Target they just weren't the right shade of orange and it literally bugged me every time I would walk by or into the room. 

Then there was the age old question of, "what else to do with the wall above the crib?" 

It took me nearly eight hours to string up that yarn letter "M" and as much as I adore that letter, the wall definitely needed something more. I just didn't know what. Thankfully, The Land of Nod provided me with endless options and after a few returns, I found the perfect bunting to string up with the "M" and paper lantern to hang in place of a crib mobile. 

I think it's safe to say that Maclane's room is finally finished. That is, until it's time to switch him to his big boy bed. See? I'm already thinking ahead...

The view from the doorway:

A couple close-ups of the crib bedding, which I have to add was so incredibly affordable. I may have promised my husband that I would use it again even if we had a girl because I insisted on buying new crib bedding after splurging on Carter's set.

You can read here to find out what's in each of those baskets:

A sneak peek of Maclane's baptism bubble and one of his Pumpkin Butter Kids gowns that he wore while in the hospital:

The Details: 

Grey Wall Paint: Behr Premium Ultra in Porpoise (790-E3)
Crib: Davinci via Great Beginnings
Changing Table: Davinci Rowan in Espresso via Amazon 
Swivel Rocker: Best Chairs, "Mandy" from the Storytime Series

Crib Bedding: "Khaki in the Mix" via Land of Nod
Curtain Panels: Navy grommet panels, Target Home
Ivory Shag Rug: 5'3" Keno Shaggy White Rug via Rugs USA
Grey Knit Pouf: via One Kings Lane

Accent Pillow: Room to Romp via Etsy
Airplane Lovie: Alison Little via aPEARantly sew
Yarn "M" Above Crib: Handmade by me, purchased the large cardboard "M" from Joann Fabrics

Picture Frames Above Changing Table: Hobby Lobby
Matte Prints: Petite Collage Framed Prints via
Orange Canvas Storage Bins: Land of Nod
Orange Polka Dot Storage Bin: Hobby Lobby
Submarine: Green Toys

Giant Sheepdog Stuffie: Truffle Chaucer Large Dog via Jellycat on Amazon
Felt Pennant Banner: Land of Nod
Chevron "M" Frame: Handmade by my sister-in-law
Elephant Picture Frame: Pearhead via

Doggie Bookends: Skip Hop Zoo Bookends via
Colored Wall Hooks: Every Which Way Wall Hook via Land of Nod
Paper Lantern: "Animalantern", Land of Nod
Printed Flag Bunting: Capture the Flag garland, color old out, Land of Nod

I will be linking this post up with Aliya on Friday for her "Refresh Your Space" Spring Cleaning/Organizing link-up! Be sure to check it out!
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