Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is It Too Late To Re-Think This Whole "3rd Baby Thing?"

Just yesterday my girlfriend sent me this link to a horrifically hilarious post on what it's really like to have three kids. It came on the heels of a photo she sent me only a week before, of what I can only assume was one couple's well-styled attempt at a Christmas Card picture with three small children. Let's just say one of them was hanging upside down and I'm not telling which one. 

I think she's trying to prepare me and I have to admit it made me laugh. Hard. Uncomfortably so, because there are moments every single day when I think we're downright insane for having a third baby, but I laugh nonetheless. Why? Because it helps me feel less... terrified. 

After all, what were the boys doing when she texted me said article? They were playing swimming pool in the dog's water bowl. An act that they both know is forbidden but they insist on doing it any way and they've worn me down so low that all I can think now is, "it's just water. It won't kill them and at least I can drink my cup of coffee while its still hot."

I'm not scared about having the baby or what to do with the baby. I mean, by now, I have all of that down pat. I do my hair and makeup and show up on a pre-appointed date to have my insides rearranged and a baby pulled from somewhere within. The following six to eight weeks are a nightmare of little to no sleep and nipples that hurt like hell, all the while trying to stuff my floppy parts into clothes that make my floppy parts seem not so floppy. The truth? That's the easy stuff. I'm not at all worried about that. 

What worries me the most is how I'm going to keep my other two heathens alive during the process. I mean, I can hardly handle them now and it's a miracle that we make it to bath time each day without someone running away or requiring stitches. Go ahead and laugh but I'm about as serious as a heart attack. 

My youngest is a climber and a lock opener. Each of these in their single-ness wouldn't necessarily be so bad- I could handle the climber, perhaps by duct-taping him to the floor or putting those cute little exercise ankle weights on his legs. As for the lock-opener, I could easily dissuade his attempts by hiding any and all lock-picking tools and any tools that could be mistaken for lock-picking tools and be done with it. But a lock-opening climber with a penchant for letting himself out the sliding glass door? It's like the trifecta of Why Mommy Drinks In The Morning. 

My oldest, well, he just follows suit. Sensitive and kind, he knows he's supposed to listen to the House Rules but when he sees his little brother running a mok, he's all balls to the wall not caring one iota about those rules. "What's good for the goose is good for the gander, " is his life motto.  In fact, I'm fairly certain I've caught him acting as a step stool for his younger brother so as to aid him in his attempts at escaping the madness.  

I get it, guys. Believe me, there are many days when I would like to run away, too.

Like the day not too long ago when I realized that all children will eventually have to turn three and a half. Did you know this, too? I don't know why I hadn't thought about it sooner. I wish I could go back in time and slap myself silly for thinking that two and a half was shortening my life. I would have grasped my delusional self's face in my two hands, shook it vigorously all the while muttering a string of curse words and "just wait's." 

This means that Maclane will eventually have to turn three and a half and so will baby number three and they will have done so at just the right time when I would breathe a sigh of relief and think "Whew. We survived."

Motherhood is a bitch. 

I know it's possible to have three kids and not suck at life and I'm not the first mother to ever have three kids and not know what to do with one, or two of them at any given moment. Who worries about leaving one behind or how terribly these childhood moments will haunt them later in life.  Deep down somewhere inside of me there is a tiny, quiet voice that reassures me, "You'll be okay. You can do this."

It's just really hard to hear that voice over the constant din of life with two little boys. I have to guess that the voice will become all together non-existent when we add the third into the mix in just a few short months. 

But I have to remind myself that because I care, because I'm worried about how each of them may require therapy later in life, that deep down, I'm a good mom and we'll all be just fine. 

We will survive and if we don't? It will certainly make for a good story... one day. 

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking Back... The Flops & the Favorites!

I've never really been a "New Year's person." Sure, when I was younger and kid-less (and apparently much more fun) I went out and rang in the new year as one does with both good friends, strong drinks and an ensemble that now makes me cringe with pain when I think of the shoes it required or twitch with an itch when I think of the scratchy sequins it typically entailed. 

I much prefer the comfort of my couch, a bottle of requisite bubbly, fuzzy slippers and a bed time that naturally falls just short of watching the ball drop. This year, however, I'll be swapping out the requisite bubbly with something a bit less alcoholic. I'm thinking... a giant sundae of mint chocolate chip ice cream with all the fixings. 

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the holiday, I do however enjoy a good hike down memory lane. It's always fun to look back on our year and one of the many perks of blogging is that it's all archived for me in a neat little chronological package. 

So, if you're new here, grab a drink and a comfortable seat and stay a while. Read a little bit of what we''re all about. If you've been following along for a while now, hopefully I'll have recapped just a few of your favorite moments of our year. 

In early January, I contemplated what kind of mom I was and took a minute to ponder the various labels that come with procuring a baby. Who knew there were so many? I decided then and there that I wanted to be a Renaissance Mom since there's just no way to pigeon hole myself into one category. Many of you could relate! I also joined forces with the fabulous ladies of the Christmas Cash Giveaway Extravaganza to bring you a series of winter project challenges. My post on How To Organize Your Changing Table and Changing Table Must-Haves continues to be a popular post on Pinterest. Re-reading it makes me excited to plan our final nursery, something I should probably get started on!

Coincidentally, February rolled around and in the same month I posted this delicious recipe for Sugar-Dusted Brownie Bites and this amazing recipe for Monkey Bread Muffins while tackling my personal struggles with Postpartum Weight Loss. Obviously I wasn't indulging in too many brownie bites and gooey muffins and had decided to give up my beloved daily coca-cola only one month before. I made it nearly ten months soda-free and it wasn't until I became pregnant with baby number three that I fell off the bandwagon. Nothing is more encouraging than progress and it feels great to be able to look back on this post and know that I can (and will!) eventually lose this baby weight after number three arrives. I just need to remind myself that it's a slow and steady process. I giggled as I read about how difficult it was mothering a two and a half year old. If only I knew then what I know now about 3.5 year olds, ha! In perhaps one of my most favorite posts this month, Failure versus Fairytale, I wrote about celebrating the fairy tale side of Motherhood, rather than always relishing in the failures.

March turned out to be kind of a lame month for me. I threw in my two cents on Living The Pinterest Life and bared a tiny bit of my soul when I admitted to needing just a little extra help around the house. Looking back that post is a hoot considering my "help" in the form of a house keeper only came to clean our house a few times this year. With baby number three arriving in early Spring, you know I'll be working just a little harder to factor her back into my monthly budget and I won't be feeling the least bit sorry for it. 

In April I wrote a letter to our two boys, titled Dear Sons, Our Future Is Not Guaranteed and it was a letter that struck a cord with many of you out there. I talked about many things including our hopes and dreams for them as well as the promises we made to them the moment we knew they existed.

May started off rather fun as I shared the finished pictures of Maclane's Whimsical Baby Boy Nursery. For those keeping track, he was 10 months when it was finished. Better late than never, I suppose, but what fun I had putting it together. At the rate we're moving now, baby number three may just move right into Maclane's old room and never have a dedicated nursery of his own and I'm kind of OK with that. Maclane started walking this month and our lives would never, ever be the same with two mobile children. What a game changer. 

In two of my most popular posts ever, I wrote about how I consciously put my children before my husband and how I'm so grateful to have a husband who understands how and why. I ended the month of May by asking for More Grace as a Mother, something I rarely allow myself to do.

I spent much of June planning and executing Maclane's Where The Wild Things Are first birthday party. We had a blast and it was so much fun celebrating our little wild thing. Days later we hopped on a plane and took a family vacation to New Orleans where we proved that The Big Easy Isn't Just For Big People. When the post-vacation sads wore off, I got myself back into the kitchen and shared this delicious recipe for Grilled Banana and Nutella Paninis, something that I'm now realizing I didn't make nearly enough this year. 

July brought with it many weekends spent at the beach which meant I had a lot of time to sit back, relax and contemplate how I mother. I realized two things this month; that I yell too much and that I'm not always sharing my best self with my family. In these two posts, I vowed to change that. We also celebrated my very favorite three year old this month and I'm astonished at just how much Carter has grown since then.


Much of August was spent preparing to tackle the throes of potty-training. Looking back, I was way more anxious about the process than necessary and as always, Carter shocked the hell out of me by proving he was, in fact, more than ready. In what was clearly my most controversial post of 2013, I shared my opinion on Breastfeeding In Public after one woman's radical video went viral. Another personal favorite post is the one I wrote this month about seeing myself through my sons' eyes.


September was kind of a big deal around here as it marked the month I turned thirty. I celebrated by sharing 35 Things Learned In 30 Years and many of you caught on to the lack of celebratory champagne. As a stay at home mom, I also wrote about how sometimes, it's just nice to be missed, a feeling we don't always get to experience. 

In October, I couldn't keep the secret any longer! We were going to become a family of five in April of 2014. I'm currently 23 weeks pregnant and these last several months have flown by. I can only imagine how quickly the next few months will pass and before we know it, we'll be welcoming our sweet baby boy! This month we also celebrated our six year wedding anniversary and I wrote about how I often Do My Best Before Bed. Many of you agreed!

Last month I shook things up a bit writing about how social media can be a double-edged sword. My awesome sister-in-law surprised me with a Thirty Random Acts Of Kindness birthday gift that she had been working on for months and we had a blast sharing the acts with the boys. Speaking of boys, we also found out that baby number three would, indeed, be another boy and we couldn't be more excited. Stay tuned for a post later this month about how "we won't be trying for that girl." 

This month, a midst the holiday chaos, we wrapped up 2013 with a fun DIY project of Melted Crayon Glass Ornaments, my first call to Poison Control and another Badge of Motherhood earned and I shed a little light on what it would be like if the walls of my house could talk. A few of you were surprised that I have an affinity for piles and loads of crap stashed beneath my couches and I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing! 

All in all, what a year it has been! Having seen new places, met new faces and spent more intentional time thinking about the kind of mother I am and want to be for our boys, 2014 has a lot to live up to! In addition to welcoming our sweet addition, I have a feeling it's going to be hard to top! 

As always, thank you so much for reading and following along with my many {mis} adventures in mothering. For the comments, the words of encouragement and the emails filled with support. I'm grateful to write for a community of readers like you! 

Do you enjoy yearly recaps as much as I do? Take a look at a few of my favorites below! You may recognize these ladies as they begin to link up as the Christmas Cash Giveaway girls (and the Winter Project ladies, of course!) They've each rallied the best recipes, projects and moments shared during the course of the last twelve months and trust me, they're each a must-read! 

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

DIY Melted Crayon Glass Bulb Ornaments

Looking for an inexpensive and easy gift idea this Christmas? These ornaments can be made for less than $8 and take no more than fifteen minutes from start to finish. I hadn't planned on sharing this craft on the blog (hence the iPhone picture) but this craft is one of those that's just too good and too easy to keep to myself! 

Personally, I think these ornaments would make for perfect teacher or babysitter gifts or a sweet little finishing touch to accompany any already-wrapped present. More importantly, they allow your child to be directly involved in the gift-making process which makes it all the more sweet to me! 

We gifted each of Carter's three Pre-school teachers with one of these ornaments as well as a Starbucks gift card. It's really the least we could do to show our appreciation for how much they love and encourage our little boy and I love that it made the gift a touch more personalized.

Want to get started? Here's what you'll need: 

- 1 box of glass ornaments (Be sure these ornaments are glass and not plastic!) I purchased a box of six glass ornaments from Michaels for $1.79. 
- Crayons of your choosing, peeled and broken up into tiny pieces (The size of the pieces we used is shown above. My three year old had a blast peeling and breaking the crayons into pieces but I found that using a craft knife to make the pieces even smaller was more helpful). 
- Hairdryer
- Mitten or Glove
- Ribbon for a bow

The How To:

- Start by removing the cap to your ornament and place four or five bits of crayon inside. You (or your child) can choose whatever colors you wish but be sure not to make the darkest colors your larger pieces- the darker colors will overwhelm your ornament when melted!

- Replace the cap to your ornament and don your glove. I suggest wearing a glove on the hand that holds the ornament because it will heat up! 

- With your hairdryer on the highest heat setting begin melting the crayons inside the ornament. Be sure to swirl or rotate the ornament as you heat- this will allow for even distribution of the melted wax inside the ornament. You can continue this until the bits of crayon are completely melted or until they've settled at the bottom of your ornament and you have achieved your desired look!

- Finish by tying your ribbon in a bow on the cap of the ornament. 

Ta-da! A cheap, easy and above all, nearly fool-proof DIY. A few readers suggested that this look can also be achieved by swirling paint inside the ornament as well. Just another option! 

Have fun and Happy DIY-ing!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

If The Walls Of My House Could Talk.

I haven't slept through the night since June of 2012. That's approximately five hundred and sixty nights for anyone keeping track and I'm exhausted just thinking about it. 

I haven't been caught up on laundry since July of 2010. That's approximately 1,234 days of scrambling to find a pair of clean underwear and countless repeated spin cycles. In fact, if I'm being honest, there are at least two full hampers of partially folded clean clothes in our house on any given day at any given time. Most of the time those clothes never make it to their final drawer destination as they are picked through for what's needed until they're replaced with the dirty ones. 

There's a spot in my fridge, in one of those trays on the side door, that's been caked over with a fine layer of Stick for who knows how long. I like to pretend that one day I'll open up those doors and the Stick will have just vanished on its own.

My pantry is a veritable disaster, a graveyard of where canned goods go to die. Truly, it's almost hazardous to your health, as one must dodge various falling objects when opening the accordion door. Nothing like a can of Rotel to the big toe to wake you up on a Monday morning. 

Colonies of dust bunnies, lone toddler socks and renegade sippy cups can almost always be found underneath at least one of the couches in our house. Much like the fridge, I hope that one day this stuff will just disappear. 

On average I cook dinner three to four nights per week. The other nights it's a fend for yourself free-for-all which really means that the kids and I eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Breakfast For Dinner while my husband is left to play Chopped with whatever he can find in the kitchen. Don't feel bad for him though, he's a pretty resourceful guy. 

The floor of my SUV is blanketed with a myriad of empty Starbucks bags, cake pop sticks, probable matches to the socks located underneath our couches, crunched up pretzel sticks and whatever else I tend to hand back to my youngest during one of his infamous "I'm Tired of Being In The Car" fits he pitches. I like to tell myself that all of this will come in handy one day should we find ourselves stranded and alone somewhere. Kind of like Survivor, Mom-mobile style.

I have a horrible habit of making piles of things. Ask my husband and he'll tell you it's probably one of my most frustrating and annoying qualities second to leaving tiny bits of food crusted to the sponge that sits in our kitchen sink. Piles of medical bills on kitchen counters, library books, coupon clippings and grocery store receipts. Piles of half-folded laundry, magazines and to-do lists clutter the dresser in our bedroom. Piles, piles, everywhere but I can tell you with my eyes closed just what's in every single one of those piles. So there. 

More often than not, the boys' playroom is left as-is and what I mean by this is that it looks as if we've been robbed by a fleet of toy-loving Oompa Loompas. I like to tell myself that it's only going to be destroyed the very next day so cleaning and organizing it is just a waste of whatever meager time to myself I manage to find at the end of the day. Who knows, maybe the mess is off-putting to any intruder who may be thinking of breaking and entering. 

For every fancy meal cooked, craft DIY'd and impeccable outfit planned, there's three meals that look like my toddler prepared them, two Pinterest craft fails and numerous days (and evenings) spent in black leggings and my husband's flannel shirts. 

I'm not Super Mom and I can't do it all no matter how hard I try. What's more is that I'm okay with that and proud of my sub-par Super Mom status. There isn't a day that goes by that we don't laugh, we don't play, we don't create and imagine in this house.  

If the wall of my house could talk, they would speak of 2pm dance parties, skyscrapers built from canned goods and shoe boxes, story time with a side of snuggles, food fights, tickle-fests and so much more. They'd tell tales of struggle, frustrations and flared tempers but more importantly, they would share the "I'm Sorry's" and limitless hugs and kisses that quickly follow. 

If the walls of my house could talk they would tell you that above all else, love abounds. And I'm more than okay with that. 

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hello, Poison Control?

Early this morning I undoubtedly earned another one of those "parenting badges" you hear so many parents speak of. It's the kind of badge you don't really want and isn't really all that fun to earn but somehow, you feel like you've earned just a little more street cred as a parent when you achieve said milestone. Other badges in this series include The First Bathtub Poop, The First Stitches Incident and The First Muttered Curse Word.  

Calling Poison Control was not how I intended to spend my breakfast. In fact, in the minutes before dialing their number, I sent a string of not-so-friendly text messages to my husband trying to blame him for the poisonous ingestion. 

"Were you in the cabinet beneath the sink this morning? You have to be more careful! Why aren't you answering me? You're lucky this wasn't a real super emergency!" 

And maybe a "I can't believe we're having another one of these," thrown in for good measure.  

While standing over the stove scrambling the boys' eggs, Maclane was sitting at my feet playing with a spatula and mixing bowl, as he typically does. A second later he's handing me a chomped on, leaky Plink, one of those garbage disposal freshening drops that eerily resembles a lemon gumball. I glance over to the Poison Cabinet beneath the sink. It's locked with one of those child proof locks that's been on there since Carter was a scootch. One of those drops must've rolled out of the cabinet the last time someone was in there.

Oh, shit. This can't be good.

I quickly take note of the size of the culprit, how much liquid I think he ingested, whether or not it had all of its parts (as in, did he bite off a piece and swallow it?) and scrambled to find the package under the sink. All the while trying to rinse his mouth out with cold water and a rag. 

"Call Poison Control immediately and seek medical attention." 

Lovely. I now had visions of his esophagus shriveling up in a burning, fiery mess.

"Hi, Poison Control? I mean, good morning! My 18 month old just bit into one of those Plink garbage disposal freshening balls. He immediately spit it out and handed it to me- and I don't think he ingested too much of the liquid, although he does smell... lemony fresh."

My first time calling Poison Control. The operator on the other end of the line giggled and reassured me that he would be fine. She asked how he was acting and I admitted that he was jumping on the couch in a fit of giggles. Lunch would probably send us to the emergency room. 

It sounded like she was googling the situation. She asked the active ingredient and I read to her straight from the box. 

"Just keep and eye on him. His mouth might feel a little irritated but just offer him plenty of liquids and maybe even an ice pop or two." 

Easy enough, I thought. 

She then proceeded to ask for my name, phone number and zip code. Surely I thought she would send DYFS after me in a heartbeat. I felt like I needed to reassure her that he was literally at my feet when this happened. As mothers, we're always so quick to jump on the defensive. 

"I swear I'm not a negligent mother," I felt like telling her. 

I sighed, thanked her and hung up the phone. Not too shabby, I thought. Two boys, nearly 3.5 and 1.5 years old and we'd made it this far without a call to Poison Control. I'd say that's worthy of a parenting badge any day. 

Although I'm not sure I'd like to earn any more of those other badges any time soon.
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What's REALLY Going On In These Pictures :: Christmas PJ Party Link-Up

Never one to miss any occasion to throw the M brothers in coordinating and/or matching pajamas and snap a few good photos, today I'm back again and linking up with my favorite Darci of The Good Life Blog and a few other fantastic ladies as they host a virtual Christmas Pajama Party. 

You may or may not remember my last attempt at coordinating M brothers in pajamas here for Halloween.

The funny thing about these pictures is a) they're nearly impossible to take b) they involve copious amounts of bribes (ie: props and chocolate) and c) it's a wonder no one gets hurt during these photos what with all of the ninja moves and toddler-blurring. That said, what else were we going to do for thirty minutes on this snowy day? We can at least say we tried.

Exhibit A: Maclane is growling all the while Carter is attempting to woo his reindeer friend.

Exhibit B: Carter is playing Keep Away with the reindeer. Don't they look like they're having fun, though? Someone may or may not have bitten someone else just milliseconds after this picture was taken. I won't name any names, ahem, Maclane.

Okay, here's where they get a little better. Somewhere around the 78th or 80th picture taken. What I won't tell you is that Carter was repeatedly bashing the poor sweet reindeer into Maclane's book. But doesn't it look like they're enjoying a sweet moment together? Oh, the power of the photograph. 

And for two of my favorites...

You can find the boys' pajamas here, unless they are sold out. When I first bought these two months ago, I had visions of them waking up in them Christmas morning to open all of their presents! Even after purchasing just a few extra pairs of Christmas jams since then, I still think these are the front runners! 

Be sure to  hop on over to Darci's blog and check out the other pajama'd cuties who've linked up! 

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Bumpdate, 20 Weeks :: M3

 "Sparkle Pullover," currently sold out at GAP / Leggings, Target Favorites / Boots, Hunter  

How Far Along: 20 weeks today, December 9th! With a scheduled repeat C-section taking place at 39 weeks, we're officially more than halfway to meeting M3. Equal parts exciting and overwhelming.  

Symptoms: Heartburn has been tolerable with my trusty TUMS although I know it's only going to get worse over the course of the next couple of months. Hip pain is horrible- after spending so much time on my feet this past weekend, I definitely felt it and spent most of Sunday with my feet up. Definitely walking like I'm pregnant now.

Maternity Clothes: Officially grown out of all of my "first trimester" clothes. Size small tops from the GAP are too tight and my size small pants and leggings are getting a bit snug, too. Santa is bringing me a few new basic long sleeve tops for Christmas and I'm excited to spend the rest of my pregnancy in leggings and tunics.

Gender: All boy.

Movement: Mr. AP felt M3 for the first time early last week while we were sitting on the couch watching a movie. With this being our last baby, I'll never forget how excited he gets when he's able to feel him wiggling around in there. It's such a sweet moment!

Sleep: What's that? Pregnancy insomnia is in full swing and every morning I'm awake like clockwork at 3am. Most mornings I have difficulty falling back asleep and will just lay in bed mindlessly playing on my phone until the boys are up for good at 7am.  

Cravings: Spicy, spicy, spicy!

Thinking Names: Mr. AP jokingly refuses to talk any more about names until 2014. He prefers to stick with tradition which means we don't really discuss names until the third trimester. It drives me out of my ever-loving mind! 

Funny Moments: Whenever I ask Carter about the baby in my belly he momentarily freaks out thinking that I actually ate a baby. It's both funny and horrifying at the same time. 

Not So Funny Moments: Feeling winded after walking up the mall stairs and realizing that January will be here before we know and that means we'll have a new baby here in three months. Holy crap.

Nesting:  Starting to think about the boys bunking together and what we'll do with Maclane and the crib situation. Not really thinking about it too much because it's stressing me out.   

Best Moments this week: Feeling M3 on the regular, throwing one heck of a Cookies & Cocktails party and our first snowfall! What a way to end 2013. 

Looking Forward To: Our anatomy scan tomorrow!

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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Riding in {Family} Style.

In our pre-baby days, Mr. AP and I tooled around town in style. Each with our sporty sedans, we had plenty of style and leg room to spare as we drove to and from happy hours to fine dinners galore. 

Now, I can't remember the last time we drove to a happy hour and our vehicular needs have changed greatly over the years to accommodate our growing family. Actually, scratch that. As the primary chauffeur of the tiny humans, my vehicular needs have changed greatly and with the impending arrival of baby  number three in the Spring, they're about to change once again. 

I briefly mentioned here our need for a bigger car and I'm so grateful for the many of you who chimed in with what has worked and didn't necessarily work for your larger families. What I'm realizing more and more is that I have a lot more research to do and this isn't going to be the easy decision I had envisioned it being.

Some days I wish it was just as easy as walking into a dealership, say BMW of Rockville, and choosing one of their mid-size SUVs like the BMW X5 that didn't sacrifice style for the growing needs of a family. They even have a great selection of certified pre-owned vehicles which makes owning a family BMW that much more affordable.

Right now my thoughts are occupied by things like captains chairs or a bench seat? Third row or not? Minivan or extra large SUV? Hybrid or gas-guzzler? 

The truth is, I just don't know. Just when I think I have it all figured out, someone somewhere tells me their story of what worked and didn't work for them and it completely throws me for a loop. 

I want to love the next car that I drive and not only that but I want to feel safe driving it with my precious cargo in tow while still maintaining some semblance of style. 

I don't think that's too much to ask, right? Back to the drawing board, I go!

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide, Pre-School Boys Ages 3-4

Whether it's a birthday or a holiday, I always struggle with what to buy for boys, which is kind of funny, considering that I'll soon be a mom to three of them. There's just so much out there for them that a mother could literally go cross-eyed trying to find the latest and greatest "thing" whether it be a toy, educational game, or whatever.

As always, I try to strike a balance between the amount of toys we bring into our house with the amount of fun-but-learn-y type things as well. This year we will be following the much talked-about "Want Need Wear Read" schema for buying each of the boys' Christmas presents. Some of these items will be coming from Santa himself while others might be gracing the lists that the grandparents have requested.

Similar to most "pre-school aged boys" out there, my oldest continues to be very interested in trucks and trains. If I had to guess, these are probably two of his very most favorite things. The Melissa & Doug train table that he was gifted with for his birthday last year continues to be the number one played with item in our house. I'm talking uninterrupted hours of fun nearly every day. Accessories for this table are always a welcome gift but the drawer to our table is nearly overflowing with train parts!

Within the last several months, he's become an avid storybook "reader" and for the first time ever, I'd like to start replacing some of the educational "puzzles" in our house with board games. It's also about the time that I begin weaning him from our iPad and introducing him to a more kid-friendly tablet which is why the LeapPad will be on his list this year.

All that said, here's my picks for the Holiday Gift Guide for the Pre-School Age Boy!

1. Bruder Mack Granite Dump Truck I'll be honest with you, any Bruder truck will do just fine for your pre-school age boy. After buying Carter's very first Bruder truck for his third birthday earlier this year, we are hooked on this brand. Pricey, yes, but I know a secret. I recently stumbled upon a hoard of these trucks in our local HomeGoods store for nearly 50% off the retail price. What's so great about them? Not only do they have tons of working, operational parts but this trucks are TOUGH and can withstand even the biggest blows! A win-win in any boy Mom's book!

2. Bicycle With Training Wheels If you're seriously considering buying your pre-school aged boy a bike this holiday season, I suggest you take him to a nearby cycle shop and have him fitted for one. I have an unusually tall three year old and it turns out the typical "entry-level" 16" bicycle was too small for him! Not only will Santa be bringing him an 18" bicycle with training wheels, but he'll also receive all the accouterments as well- which I'm tempted to include knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards. 

3. LeapFrog LeapPad2 Learning Tablet I've heard nothing but great things about this tablet and the bundle of educational games/apps that you can purchase separately for it. It's an eReader, photo lab, music player, art studio and more! And it's time that my three year old start using something geared more towards his age than our personal iPad. 

4. Board Games like the Super Why ABC Letter Game and Cootie. For the last year or so, most of our educational learning activities have been in the form of flash cards and puzzles. This is the first year I'll be introducing more "board game-type" activities with Carter and I'm kind of excited! I'm glad I waited to start these because prior to now, there was no hope of him sitting still long enough to learn and play!

5. VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Playset This one is purely for fun. Have you heard of or seen the Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Play Sets? These things are awesome! There are a variety of electronic "smart cars" and various play sets (train station, racetrack, construction zone) that work together for hours of fun! The SmartPoint vehicles respond to different points on each play set with various songs, phrases, learning rhymes and more! I first found these items in Target and have been slowly stocking up on the cars and trucks- thankfully they each have on/off buttons because they can get pretty noisy! Carter absolutely loves them and I can't wait to see how excited he is to see what Santa brings! 

6. The Day the Crayons Quit And Other Stories Although it took a couple of years, my three year old finally looooves his books and no matter what the occasion, there is always room for more books, I say! Never one to miss an opportunity to stock our home library, Santa will be stuffing each of the boys' stockings with books this year. Two that are on Carter's list include The Day The Crayons Quit and Boy and Bot. Looking for additional recommendations? Some of his other favorites include Steam Train Dream Train, Night Night Construction Site, Mr. Wolf's Pancakes and Where Do Diggers Sleep At Night. 

There you have it! Just a little glimpse into what Santa will be bringing the oldest M brother this year. Are you a parent to a pre-school aged boy? I would love to know what is on his list for Christmas! Happy Shopping! 

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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Where I Confess How Much I Hate Meal Planning.

love being a wife and a mom and most of the responsibilities that each of those glorious titles entails but if I can be honest with you for a minute, I want to tell you just how much I hate one of the major weekly "chores of domesticity" that falls into my lap. And when I say "hate" I mean, "really, really dread and would rather not do but then my family would go hungry and what kind of mother would I be then?"

If you haven't guessed by now, that "chore" is meal planning. Just the thought of it makes me cringe.

If there is one thing I don't have time for each week, it's to sit down and flip through the pages of a cookbook or click through hoards of Pinterest boards to plan the meals my family will eat each week. 

I mean, I barely have time to sit and think and pee and don't think I haven't once thought about killing two birds with one stone; peeing and meal-planning simultaneously. But seriously, what's more is that not only do I not have time for either of those things, but I also don't have time to then painstakingly organize my grocery list based on said gathering of recipes.

Recently I came across an online resource that has literally saved both my sanity (and a little grocery money) each week. It has taken the guesswork out of planning meals for my family and allows me to take all the credit for preparing healthy, delicious, home-cooked meals each night. 

Curious? Click on the picture below to find out what I'm talking about! 

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is.. $1000 CASH?! {A Giveaway!}


This post might look a little familiar. If you've been following along for the last year, you'll remember that this very same group of ladies came together to bless one family with $1000 cold, hard cash for the holiday season as a way to say "thanks" for all of your support and encouragement over the last year.

To keep the spirit of thanks and giving going, we've decided to do it again! 

Are you ready for the best giveaway EVER?

Whether you need a little extra help this holiday season or perhaps you've already completed all of your shopping but wouldn't mind a little bit more money in your pocket spoil your friends and family rotten,  then you must enter this giveaway!

Before you enter, take a minute to get to know the fabulous ladies behind the cash! I've been working with these women for over a year now and they each bring such fantastic attributes to the blog world whether it be through their kind hearts, keen eye for decor and design, honest stories of motherhood or their hilarious sense of humor. Please check them out, you won't be disappointed!  

meet the bloggers

Chelsea from Making Home Base
Jennifer F. from The Francis Family
Jennifer M. from Blissfully Ever After
Aimee from It’s Overflowing
Liz from Liz Marie Blog
Carmel from Our Fifth House
Mandy from House of Rose
AP from I Love You More Than Carrots

No purchase necessary. To enter, participants must use the Rafflecopter form above. This giveaway is in no way affiliated, administered or endorsed by Facebook. The giveaway closes on December 8th, 11:59 a.m. EST. The winner will be notified by email by 12/10/13 and will need to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. Winner must be 18 years of age or older and a US resident in order to win. Prize is valued at $1,000. Winners are responsible for paying any necessary taxes on winnings. Good luck 

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