Monday, December 15, 2014

Unplugged but here

    I'll admit it - I've been a bad blogger. I haven't been online in weeks! I have been unplugged but still around. I pop online every now and then but for the most part I've been off my laptop. 

   If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that as a personal challenge I took up a seasonal part time stocking position. Compared to my lack of mobility last year due to a rib injuiry I am celebrating and challenging myself with a very physical position for a few weeks. And let me tell you, it's quiet physical. I swear I walk over 10 miles per shift! I'm lifting up boxes, pulling, pushing and so much more.

   I've never worked that part of retail before. I've always had a desk job but never hesitated if someone needed help moving or setting up anything. I'd like to consider myself a hard worker. I consider being at work doing labor - if it wasn't that then it wouldn't be called work. (Relate-able side note - there are some pretty miserable, ungrateful people out there! Sheesh!)

    The shuffle and lack of sleep is hard to get use to but sometimes we just have to go with the flow of where we wander. And coffee doesn't hurt the least bit - lol. 

    I just wanted to let y'all know I'm still here and I haven't forgotten about you. My position is only for two more weeks then that is it. I'll be back to controlling the chaos of all three kiddos during Winter break and posting away! 

    In the mean time, enjoy your holiday season and I'll be back after the break.


Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm 90% ready for Christmas are you?

    I'll admit it. I shop year round for things with the intention of gifting it later. It's a fun habit I started after my first Christmas shopping for both sides of the family, which later progressed after having a kid and then kids. So basically for 7 or so years I've been doing this and perfecting my craft. 
    Not just preseason shop for gifts or baskets, but also clothing, leaving nothing out of prebuying consideration. With clothes it has become so much easier since my kids are in the "generic Toddler" sizes and now even "Big Kid" sizes so I no longer have to count months and anticipate big growth spurts. 

    But lets get back to the gifts. I have a huge gift closet in the basement that I keep stocked. I always have something on hand for a birthday party or an unexpected gift. I rotate the stock to make sure it stays current with toy trends and if I just want to start weeding out odds and ends. I recently just went through and had a massive purge. The rest of the purge will be donated when those toy tubs are out in the stores since everything is brand new in boxes. 

    My kids receive three gifts from Santa and a stocking full of fun goodies. Why three gifts? That's our way of keeping the "reason for the season" in the gift giving. The three kings brought baby Jesus three gifts so they get three gifts. The gifts range small, medium and large in value. It's just easier and keeps things on track for expenses. 

    Wonder what my kids are getting this year? Here's what I have so far, although things may change. 

    Bear - 2 years old 
            A Mooska Sing around the Rosie doll like this one
                 The Ariel Duplo set (price matched at TRU - awesome!)
            A Minnie Mouse board book library set

    TW - 4.5 years old
            A LeapBand (that I have to switch out blue for green now - of course)
            A Melissa & Doug wooden car kit 
            **Insert a Lego set here - not sure yet - maybe Batman)

    Lulu - 6.5 years old
           The Lego Heartlake Friends High School (price matched at TRU - score!)
           Frozen Elsa trunk box (for her Legos)
           The Rare Little Live Pets Butterfly 
               (on fence over this gift for her I might switch it over to a sibling gift) 

    The kids give each other sibling gifts - one gift from the other two. This year the girls are giving TW the limited Lego fire hall set (which was a sale freebie and is a Toys R Us exclusive from a few weeks ago). Not sure what the girls gifts are quiet yet. I have a few items in my gift arsenal for them that I keep going back and forth on. 

    I've decided that next year I'll start having the siblings pick out books for each other and have that be the traditional sibling gift. Which reminds me of a traditional gift my cousin and I do for each other's kids - we gift silly socks every year. It's perfect because they're not super expensive and the kids all have a blast picking out fun socks for each other. Besides kids always need socks!

    It might seen weird to shop year round thinking of holidays and birthdays but that's what I've done and continue to do. 

     Do you shop year round for gifts? 
     Or wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday?
     Do you always keep the holidays in mind or just birthdays? 
     What are some hot items on your list this year?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Woes of #PottyTraining the Last Kid

    The last kiddo is currently in the depths of potty training. Technically we were already there but then summer vacation hit us and with the older two kids home, who really wants to learn to go on the potty when you can play and run around? 
    All summer long I tried to encourage her to continue. We were so close to nailing that routine. We had Minnie Mouse undies, mini M&Ms, the infamous little blue potty seat we got from Ikea when we potty trained Lu and fancy skirts to help her go potty easier. Nothing. The force is strong with this one. She is a train and she is on her own track. 

    Now we're back in the potty training lane and its going pretty well. I had it much more easier with the older two that is for sure! Now we have stairs and multi-levels of living space. We also have two bathrooms and if we're caught in between those levels its a guess which way to go. Ahh the joys of a split level house. 

   Candy doesn't motivate her. She doesn't care for much clothing so the fun skirts are hardly worn. She doesn't care about the pretty undies we have a stack of in both bathrooms. She has had accidents where she is full blown wet and she doesn't care. Well, they don't seem to bother her too much enough to warrant crying.

    What she does care about is going #2 in those pretty undies of hers. She enjoys a great cheer and clap and fun little jaunt down the hall after she's gone. Sometimes I have puddles to mop up. 4 to 5 times out of 10 she has damp undies but not soaking wet. I basically have a little laundry basket in the corner of the downstairs bathroom for those to get tossed in and then do a load of laundry at the end of the day. 

    Basically, the first two kids were super, SUPER easy to potty train. Like, really easy. I have had to deal with regression and learning how to motivate this galie. I went in with a confidence that I would nail this on the head and we'd go skipping through fields of buttercups and eat ice cream. Oy! 

    I shouldn't be surprised. I have experienced so many things that I never had to experience with the older two kids. Bear is my greatest challenge yet! I should have known. It all started with my pregnancy test results with her. But that's another story for another time. 

   Cheers to the flushes on Potty Training Lane!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Home is where your family is - Right? Right.

    I'm a cautious buyer when it crosses the line from purchase to investment. I search and hunt for the best item for the best price and I take my time doing it. Often I take too much time and often I take so much time I end up missing out on an option. Sometimes I chalk it up to that old phrase "It just wasn't meant to be" and will take me a while to get over it. 
    I don't know why I let things hover in my thoughts. Maybe hover isn't the right word, its more like play pong in my mind. Just as I think the idea has left my mind it hits the board and bounces back in my thoughts. Ps. This drives the Hubs nuts!!! 

   Wondering where I'm going with this? I've become instantly obsessed with the idea of a house that recently came on the market - notice how I said the idea of it since I have only seen pictures online and drove past it (that was a bad idea, I admit). Now I'm having second thoughts about our house - which I shouldn't but it just feels like some force is showing off. 

   We have lived in our new house for just over a year. And let's remember, all five of us fell in love with it when we walked in the door after looking at a few other houses. We convinced ourselves that we would and could make it work with a few updates and adjustments. For the most part it has and continues to work for us. The kids have their own rooms. The Hubs has some space for his office. The kitchen is nicely updated as well as the upstairs bathroom. I can't fester on the fact that the windows need to be replaced, the front door needs to be redone and we now rock base board heaters instead of forced air so there is larger areas to avoid putting furniture with no option to install an a/c unit, or the cutback of land we took choosing this house. 

   I've also had a hard time adjusting to the feeling of this house being our home and not a rental. It's weird. It's like the house and I bonded before we signed the papers and then when we did and starting moving in, we became distant relatives. I get the occasional blurb of feeling at home but that flees shortly afterwards. 

   I know I shouldn't dwell on the fact that the house and land that we were originally looking for has come on the market around the corner from us. I really cant dwell that the front porch is that classic, dreamy porch that is coffee sipping on a glider friendly, there is a separate entrance for the upstairs office area that the hubs would love, a double garage, a slightly bigger basement or the wooded land behind the main back yard all still within the school district that we wanted to stay in and within our looking price range. There is absolutely nothing that we can or will do. I know we wont sell and move over there. I know we can't sell and move over there. But come on - what the heck?! Is this just a big test for me to be 100% true to myself grateful for the house we have and make it really feel like home??!  

   That has to be the case. This is a test. This is a challenge for me to overcome  and open my eyes and heart to. I have to look past what that house has and what our house doesn't have. Instead I have to look at what OUR house has and right now OUR house has my family in and my family is my everything. 

This was the picture that Lulu drew of our house before our move
- each kiddo is waving out a window. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Play and Grow!! #RSVPplayDate

    Toys! What kid doesn't want to come over to play with new toys? We were given an awesome opportunity to play! That's right, I said play!! Vocalpoint sent us a Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair and a Laugh & Learn Puppy's Smart Stages Train to play and review at a #RSVPplaydate.

    We welcomed our party guests to a "create your own snack" bar with some very nifty tote along snackers that were sent to us. We also made sure that the crew of kiddos had their liquid refreshments set in some unique travel sippy cups from Fisher Price before venturing over to play at the play mat. (Unfortunately, this is as far as two of our little guests got as one of the girls had a upset tummy still lingering from the day before..., so sad to see such cute little faces have to leave the fun but tis flu season starting. Luckily, I was able to arrange for them to check out the toys after the party at their house so they still got their "play on"- whoop whoop Clorox wipes!!)

   Our remaining crew finished loading up their snackers and we gathered on the incredibly sweet play mat that Vocal Point sent us. I introduced the "fun, yellow party chair" highlighting a few features and we set it to our 18mo guest. Wondering what I mean by "set it"? The Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Chair features a new technology that adjusts with your child's developmental stages. Below is from the Fisher Price website to further explain the differences in the stages:

    Smart Stages™ Technology 
    Level 1 – Explore – 12M+ First words and sounds spark baby’s curiosity 
    Level 2 - Encourage – 18M+ Prompt baby though questions and simple    
    Level 3 – Pretend – 24M+ Imaginative fun and early role play

  The kids checked the chair out. They liked the songs and the flip of the seat. Our 18mo was a bit too big for the chair (she's in the higher percentile) and our 3mo was a bit too small for the chair - talk about Goldilocks and the Three Bears! The green leaver on the side was a tab perplexing since it didn't cue any songs or commands but overall it's a fun chair that can be played with for 2+ years. 

    I then introduced the "party train and crew" aka the Laugh & Learn Puppy's Smart Stages Train and it became the instant life of the party! This train has it all! Puppy, Monkey and Frog are all aboard for some fun. 

    This one again, has the Smart Stages Technology and expands and grows with your kiddo. The numerous songs and interactions cues were a blast for all the kids, even our little 3mo party go-er. One feature that all the parents liked was it's switch to keep the train stationary or to activate it's motion. 

    We had a little dance party and some more snacks and play time then called it a play date! Our littlest party go-er was all tuckered out. How adorable is this??!! Play hard, sleep hard!! (And look at those Cookie Monster socks!)

    Many thanks again to Vocalpoint for choosing us to host a super fun #RSVPplaydate! The adults and kids all had a blast and we definitely know a few kiddos that have a train on their Christmas list this year.

PS - How about a little pre-playdate blooper? How cute is this? I still giggle seeing Daddio's assembling kid toys. 

    The Not So Fine Print - we were sent the toys to play and review. All opinions are our own. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Falling in love with Fall and #Starbucks #FallBlend

 My favorite season is Fall. The colors, the temperatures, the scents, the local attractions, everything - well everything but the occasional sleeting rain. There is just something about being outside bundled in a soft sweater that makes me feel happy.

  Another thing that is perfect during this cool weather is curling up under a homemade afghan with a fresh brewed cup of coffee. Pressing the cup against your chest as it cools warms the soul and livens the senses. A peaceful cup of coffee is a great way to wake up for the day!!

   Many thanks to Modern Mom and Starbucks  for sending me some 2014 Fall Blend coffee and I truly mean it - many, many, many thanks!! This is by far the best blend of coffee I have ever had! It is a warm and rich blend of three coffees that fill this medium roast in flavor. 

    How can you not enjoy the start of the Fall season with a delish cup of warm, amazing coffee?? Especially when Fall means its Back to School time!! 

    Starbucks did a great job selecting this blend for sure! Sumatran beans bring warm spice notes to the bright citrus Kenya beans both blended with a subtle nuttiness of Peru beans. A serious full-bodied, medium roast. 

    You can pick up a bag or two or three at major grocery stores for $8.99 per 10oz. package. Hurry up though before they're all gone. 

     Are you a savvy shopper? Visit Starbucks here and click on the top of the screen for a special savings. 

     Want to see more pics? Join me on Instagram!

   Not so fine print - Many thanks again to Modern Mom for the coffee - All opinions are my own and I really do mean it - this Fall Blend is awesome!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beautiful, Strong and Amazing

    I want to share a story about a strong, beautiful woman I am so fortunate to have in my life. It's my cousin. We joke that she's the younger sister I never wanted but truth is she is the younger sister I really did want. My brother and I sure put her through the ringer growing up but what did we know? We might made her scared to use aloe-vera gel telling her it was Slimer from Ghost Busters but she was an only child so we gave her experiences only kids with siblings could get. (In all honesty I am sorry but we were kids.) 

   She is so incredibly strong, much stronger than I will ever be. She is beautiful and kind and thoughtful and simply amazing!!

   Over the past few years she has traveled beyond her path and her shoes are worn, her soul and heart have been tested, pushed to the limit and she has stood tall and strong.  

   Two years ago she found out she was expecting her second child which they found through a series of tests had a terminal condition. Through a network of bereaved parents they were given a recorder to capture their daughter's heartbeat forever. They later put that recording device in a bunny as a keepsake. And as those who have been pregnant know, hearing your baby's heartbeat is one of the most treasured sounds that will grace your ears in your entire life! 

    Her baby was born and while some may think the nine days she spent on Earth were too short, she will forever carry live on in our hearts. She was just like her mama - beautiful, strong and a fighter. 

   Over this past weekend my cousin held a bike run to raise money and awareness for the organization that gave them the recording device so that others can have this piece of their baby with them. She did an awesome job for a first annual event and raised over $1000! And I am so thankful that I was there to help. 

   I'm hoping I can talk her into having a dedicated page or two on social media so that we can raise awareness and even fund-raise year round. When that happens I will post any and all links here as well as on my social media accounts. 

   I am happy to finish up this post with letting you know she did end up having a wonderful "rainbow" baby who is just as beautiful as her sister and mother. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

We can because we can - Its #canningseason

    You read that right, it's canning season. My mother-in-law cans peaches and tomatoes that they get at a farm up where Great, Great Grandpa use to live. I have yet to tag along on a peach canning day but this is my second tomato canning afternoon since being with my Hubs.

    Lulu and I drove out to her house where she was already blanching and peeling away. Once we washed our hands, we dove right in. After a few batches and lunch we started picking up and I asked her what happens to the skins. She kind of look at me weird and said she just tosses them out. For some reason I felt like there was just something that could be done with them so I took them home with me (Lulu stayed to play while the jars cooled and the MIL would drive them both over before dinner.)

    I got home I started in on my search and found that many people dry the skins, grind them up and use them a lot of different ways. So TW and I started sorting our bag of left over tomato parts and pieces. I pulled out the skins, flattening them on parchment paper and scrapped away any extra meat.
TW had a blast until his belly was full. 

My little kitchen co-pilot 
(He found a tiny tomato that slipped past the cans)

Separating the skin from the rest of the left overs

    Once I had three trays full they went into my convection oven at 200 degrees for about three hours. In the mean time TW and I continued to sort through the bag of skins and parts. I put all the extra parts in a pot and boiled it up for maybe about an hour or so then ran it all through a sifter creating tomato juice (the Hubs was happy). 

How purdy is that??!
Dried tomato skins are delish as is - like fancy tomato chips - lol

    When my MIL came I shared with her what I found and she was over the moon. All these years she's been tossing out all of that thinking it was just waste. Looks like I may have updated the family canning process for the better. Use it all up! 
That's all that's left when I was done - into the compost it goes!

Ran it through my herb grinder and voila! 
Tomato skin powder

    Wondering what you can do with dried tomato powder? 
    ~ Make a paste using a one part water, one part powder ratio. 
    ~ Need a soup base? Use a two part water, one part powder ratio
    ~ Add to marinades, dips, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes
    ~ Lots more!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Getting my #flawlessfinish on with Sheer Cover Studio

    I've been unplugged from most social media and online with all the recent events that have popped up over the past few weeks, but things have settled down and I'm back! 
    As many know I am a mom of three beautiful children and for a year now I have been a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children. What a job that is! Some mornings its rough to survive until the coffee hits the system and those are the days that I wear pajamas or yoga pants or lounge wear or whatever you call it all day long. 
    Thanks to running around and making sure things go smoothly, everyone is dressed and everyone has everything they need I often forget about myself and will just toss something on and tie my hair back. Shower? That would be nice. Blow dry? Nope. Nail polish? Whatever is left on from a few months ago. Makeup? If lip gloss counts then sure. 
    Guess what? Not any more! Before it was just a thought to pamper myself or fuss with how I look but now I'm taking my time. The kids are getting older and I've come to the bridge where if they forget something they'll learn for the next time. (Of course I'll still check on the important stuff like lunches, letters and homework but show-n-tell things are on their own). I have to show my face at two schools daily and I don't want to look tired and worn down. I don't want to showcase my wrinkles, bags and uneven skin tones. 
    I was recently given the amazing opportunity by Modern Mom to try out the Sheer Cover Studio system and it is heaven sent. At first it was a bit intimidating but it really is easy to use. 
The Sheer Cover System - 5 steps to a beautious face

The super to easy follow guide aka the Sheer Cover Bible 

    Armed with my guide and all the pieces of the system I locked myself in the bathroom to experiment and play around. Digging the base perfector primer. I applied after I washed and moisturized. The concealer took a bit for me to master but wasn't too bad. I like the brightener and could see the difference between my eyes. Cover up and illuminating were fun with the blush brush but my favorite part of the system right now is the eye lash mascara and fibers. My lashes are so lush and plump and it only took three "sch-wipes". 
Can you see the difference between the left side and the right side? 
My right (your left) has the makeup and mascara on - much more even.
Check out those lashes there!

     I want to also note that the real stories that came in the literature are amazing! This makeup system is awesome. It doesn't feel like I am wearing makeup. It is smooth and light. 
     Many, many thanks to Modern Mom and Sheer Cover Studio. This mama is definitely going to be taking more time for herself before getting in the car to shuffle off to a school for a kiddo or two.
     Win a year's supply of Sheer Cover Studio #FlawlessFinish.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Mom Confession #35448 - Selling NIB toys

    Normally I space out gifts that the kids have received from Christmas and Birthdays but lately I've been selling them. It's true. They haven't asked so I'm not going to offer up. 

   My eldest usually recalls gifts that she has picked out to tuck away but the entire Summer vacation just passed and she did not ask once for one of her toys. Not once. So I grouped them all up and took pics, listed them and sold them. One of my selling features is that "its not too early to get ready for Christmas!!"
    So what have I been doing with the money? I'm splitting it. Half has gone to clothes and school supplies. The other half has gone into envelopes to put towards their big Christmas gift. If they ask me for a toy that was sold I'll just tell them it was sold to someone who really, really wanted to play with it now. It's cool.

     Do you space out opening gifts or let them have them all?
     Do you regift any of them? (I'm guilty - I've done that a few times) 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Not bad for first time bowlers and rusty old bowlers 

Do you follow me on Instagram yet? 
Send me a request! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Community supplies at school? I say Bah!

    35 sticks of glue, 24 pencils that are sharpened, 5 boxes of Crayola branded crayons as per supply list, 3 boxes of Crayola branded markers (again as stated on the supply list), 4 boxes of tissues, 1 Sharpie (really? just one? the list is already outrageous why stop at 1?), 5 bold colored dry erase markers (Dear Teacher, did you know these come in backs of 4 and you want 5??! Guess you're getting 4), 3 pocket folders and 1 colorful folder, a pencil case and oh yeah.., 1 composition notebook to be decorated with anything sparkly or shiny to be the poetry notebook for the school year. 

   Is anyone else's supply list a bit out of hand? I mean come on, this community bank of supplies in the classroom is nice but ultimately stinks in my opinion. There is no way my child is going to use 35 sticks of glue. I've seen her in action, she's all about making her glue sticks stretch. So I guess while she is working with her first glue stick, Little Jimmy will be covered with another glue stick after he eats his? Yeah, that's a stretch but you know what I mean. I remember (yes here is a back in my day speech) I had a supply box with all my items labelled. They were ALL mine and no one else's. It was my responsibility to care for my supplies and make them last. When did schools start doing community supply banks? Do they keep track who uses what? Where is the lesson in preserving and being responsible for your supplies? 

   I am sure I sound harsh and "old school" and maybe even bitter that now I have to be a deal seeker on obtaining 35 sticks of glue for under $2 to maintain a back to school budget that isn't blown on supplies but I also think we're missing out on a lesson of taking care of supplies. 

   To leave this post on a positive note - I do "donate" crafty stuff throughout the year like stickers, seasonal cut outs from my Cricut, odd little things like cotton balls or even fabric scraps. 

   What are your supply lists like? Does your teacher have a community supply or is your child responsible for their own supplies? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Aunt has a nice ring to it

    Did I share with y'all that I am a real Aunt??!! How awesome is that? I'm finally an official real live Aunt. I have a few cousins who their kid's call me Aunt which is awesome but now I'm an official Aunt by blood.

    The kids were ecstatic when we went to their house to visit them - well the kids visited I brought over a crock pot dinner to prep and ended up doing some cleaning around the house - you know the normal like the dishes and putting away Easter decorations in July when he was born the last week of June (my ocd kind of kicked in and luckily my mouth kept it on lock down - lol)
    My three kiddos would have eaten his cuteness up if I hadn't taken them home when I did that day. I cant stop hearing how adorable he is - and he is but I'm biased as an Aunt. 

    I can't wait to spoil this little boy! Just love him to pieces!!

Hello Little Man!! Welcome to the world!!

So tiny!!

Lulu and Bear loving their baby cousin

TW - so gentle

So tell me - what would you get a new nephew to spoil him??