Saturday, August 31, 2013

Java like the coffee. Add Mama to it. And a Starbucks Giveaway.

I won't ramble on and on about what I love about Becky. I mean, the name gives it away already. She's a pretty cool mama and I have enjoyed following along her motherhood journey for a while now. She's even offering one of you readers a $25 gift card giveaway to Starbucks. It's just that easy. We did a fun little Q&A below, and I loved Becky's answers.

1. You take beautiful pictures, can you share some tips with a beginner? Any favorite websites or programs that you like to use?

Once I had a child I decided to invest in a good DSLR camera. I knew it would be the best investment I could ever make. Pictures are priceless and like I always say I have never regretted taking ONE photo! I have a Nikon D7000 (In case you were wondering). Once you figure out what camera you want you can start to invest in lenses. My favorite lenses are my 50mm and wide angle lens. I also have Photoshop and Lightroom, which are great editing programs. If you are a student you get a significant discount on Adobe products, so I'd suggest finding someone in school who can purchase them for you. I have a few sites I love to frequent. Ken Rockwell has amazing photography advice and compares every camera known to man. If you are ever researching for a camera head to Ken Rockwell.

Also, a site called Lynda has every tutorial you could ever dream of about photography. It's a monthly subscription service, but well worth the money for the education.

2. What are some of the things you want your child to grow up remembering of his childhood?

Oh gosh this is a tough one! Honestly, I hope that he grows up to be a Godly man. I pray that we instill good qualities in him. I can already tell he's a sensitive boy with a big heart. I hope he knows how hard his Daddy and I work to make sure he has the best future possible. How much we've prayed for his life and we love him. I want him to grow up knowing that no matter what he does we'll always love him. I'm constantly trying to plan fun activities with him and he remembers those moments. Even if it's just 15-20 minutes out of your day. One on one attention means so much to him.

3. How do you balance blogging into your every day life? I read a post that you wrote one time of stepping back and refocusing, and thought it was a . Any advice on this topic?

I struggled with finding the wife/mom/full-time working/chef/maid/ AND blogging balance for a long time. It even caused a few arguments between me and my husband. Eventually you just have to not worry about it. Everyone is different, every blog is different. I've been blogging for 7 years and finally got the point if people want to read they will. If they don't they don't have to. I'm not doing this for them. It's for me and on my time. It’s meant to be fun!!!  The minute you realize that and don't put yourself on a personal deadline or time clock you are FREE to write and post what you want.

4. What are some of your favorite things to do during "me-time"

I don't get much me time these days. When I do I love spending time visiting with family and friends. Watching a good movie on Lifetime and eating ice cream. I love reading too, if only I had more time to do that! I'll paint my nails, or take photos of random things that make me happy. I also blog :)

5. If you could change one thing in this world, what would it be?
There are so many things in the world that need changing right now. It's beyond fixing in my mind. We just have to pray that God will hold us and keep us in His protection. As Americans we have this mentality that nothing bad will ever happen to us. When things do happen (i.e.: The Boston bombings, 9-11, kidnappings, murders, crime, etc.) we feel so sorry for ourselves and immediately want retribution. What we don't realize is things like this happen EVERY.SINGLE.DAY in other countries. So many people are dying and suffering because of all the hate and vengeance on one another. It's awful. I just want our eyes as Americans to be opened to how lucky we are that we don't deal with these issues on a daily basis. Of course it's terrible when tragic things happen, but try and be thankful 
we don't live in anguish. We are so lucky!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
**Winner of $20 target and $15 Starbucks giveaway was picked here. Shane P!

Friday, August 30, 2013

I confess....

I'm not really good at braiding my daughter's hair. At all. Sides are never even. I start too high. I miss hairs. I just want to put a hair bow in it to make it all better.

Speaking of my baby girl, how is she going to be three in a few months? I confess... I'm just not ready for it. At the same time? I'm loving how much she communicates, makes her own decisions, and analyzes situations. I already daydream of shopping dates, and going out for lunch and manicures.

I put 8 packets of sugar in my coffee. EIGHT.
Not sure why I even consider buying the Trader Joe's Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies. They're gone {the whole tub} in a day. Then, on top of that, I buy two tubs. So? They're both gone within a week.

I haven't watched TV {longer than 15 minutes} in months. I've talked about cancelling the cable, and somehow my husband got the company to just bring down the bill. That's how they get you. My linen closet is so unorganized that I try my hardest just to avoid it in general. If I don't look at it, it just doesn't exist. Right? But now that I have talked about it... it's on my "must-do" list this weekend.

Speaking of organizing drawers... I decided it was time to organize Graham's clothes, get rid of clothes that don't fit and make sense of the clothes that he has now. By doing so, I found clothes that he had never even worn. Also while doing so, I stopped and thought about how I always managed to change Elliana muliple times a day. Even with the smallest of stains. G-man? Eh. Not so much. Stains no longer bother me.

I have not had a haircut in probably 5 months or so? Maybe.

That hair? I'm thinking of turning blonde. And not telling my husband so... just surprising him. HA.

Sometimes? When I have lots of things that MUST-GET-DONE...I just do everything possible NOT to get them done. The other day, I had every intention of getting all these {much needed} household items marked off.. and instead, I packed the kids lunch, filled up the car, and we were off to spend the morning/afternoon at the museum. I love days like that.

I am behind on making Graham's baby albums. I have a couple from his birth. However, I do have them {majority of the pictures} uploaded to the printing services... I'm just waiting to put the books all together. I have decided though that I will do the whole, "organize pictures" button. You know, the automatic they will do it for you deal. The time saving route. That.

I drink out of my daughter's straw cups when we are out and about. Often times because I forget my own water. I have to imagine that I get a few stares here and there. I try not to notice. And certainly, I don't care.

We are running out of disposables {finally!} and will be making the switch to cloth diapering. I'm actually really excited about this new adventure. Andrew? Not so much.

I've neglected this little space of mine. I feel like I haven't "written" anything in a long time. Really poured my heart out. Although I have posts sitting in draft waiting for me to bang out on the keyboard... I just simply have not found the time.

Sometimes? I want to just speak everything that is on my mind. Get heated and in the moment. But most the time? I realize that I just do not have time for drama. It's kind of disappointing in a way. Losing what this space truly used to mean

I'm ready for September. And October. November, and December. I'm ready for cooler weather. New holidays. Family traditions. And of course the holidays.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Together. That's what marriage means, right?

I never did write about our anniversary. Our fourth year wedding anniversary. I know, I asked myself the same question... how has it possibly been 4 years?

But it has. Four beautiful, crazy, sometimes hair-pulling crazy, years. Years that I cherish with my husband. Years that have been some of the, scratch that, the best, years of our lives. Our children were born in the past two years. So many "firsts" that we have experienced. Buying our first home. Bringing home our first baby {then second}. Celebrating our first post college {and post-graduate school} jobs. Celebrating birthday after birthday. Holiday after holiday. All while doing this together. That's what marriage is all about, right? Doing it all together.

That means that each and every decision is made with the other person in mind. That each and every mark on the schedule has to effect the other person in one way or the other. Each and every parenting decision. Home decision. Finance decision.


And so when I think of marriage, I don't just think of wedding day and those first 8 months sans babies. I think about that also though. I think about so much more. Everything that marriage means to me. Everything that my husband means to me.

I remember when Andrew first proposed to me and I would stare down at my hand every 2 minutes. For months. Driving in the car I would look down and see a sparkly ring. I envisioned what life would be like, but I never thought past a couple weeks or months. I felt like a princess. I wished upon a fairytale. And everything was going to go exactly how I wanted it to. Life, that is. Now that I have my prince and the ring. You never do think past that. You think about your wedding and that's all. You never truly sit back and imagine what the next few years will look like. What 5 years will look like. Ten. Twenty.  It's just hard to imagine or fathom anything you haven't lived yet.

And so I was driving in the car the other day, after our anniversary, thinking about what this ring meant to me. I love it just as much as I did the day I got it. In fact, more. I love that with every year that passes, every August 15th that goes right on by, I can see it as yet another year of memories. Another year to add on.

This year we celebrated by going out to dinner. The two of us. Out to dinner. For the first time since before Graham was born. We even had a "DD" driver {my sister} and went to a restaurant close to my parent's house {where the kids were at}. We ate dinner. We talked life. We talked politics. We talked about our children. Our future. How many more we would have. Homeschooling. And so much more. We wrapped up our dinner and headed to the bar. We. Headed to the bar. Let me just let that one sink in.

We laughed a lot. Held hands. Maybe rubbed a leg or two. Talked to the bartender. Told the bartender the story of how we met and how 19 year old Becky had convinced 19 year old Andrew to take a shot with her in a basement of a house belonging to who knows who on campus. And he did. Only later, I would find out that he hated shots and hated vodka. So naturally, the bartender convinced us we had to take a shot together.

For memory sakes.

We did. And maybe we even took another. And then we ended the night, were home by 10, gave the children kisses and off to bed we went.

The next day was August 16th. Although one would think that our anniversary was "technically" over, to me it is one that never ends. Everyday that we live our lives will be a constant reminder of the day we said our vows and made the commitment to do all things in life, together.

Four years down, only 70+ more years to go.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guest Post: Finding the Balance

Finding the balance. Can we just let out a big sigh right  now. For exaggeration purposes. Because just saying the word alone makes me dizzy. Nauesous as I begin to think about my to-do list, reminding
me of things in my life that are not balanced. Such as, household chores. Those {household things} get put on the backburner more often than not. "Tomorrow I'll do this.... {tomorrow comes}... okay, no, really, tomorrow I'll get this done...{one week later}... oh those windows that I've been talking about... about that."

I'm glad that Katie asked me to write about this topic as it is one that interests me the most. It's something that I enjoy reading on other blogs and getting tips from. For me though, I'm not one to throw out advice as much as I am just sharing my story and experiences. I believe that things work for some people, and they don't for others.
Some things come easier during certain times in your life, and some things are just not feasible at all. Regardless, balance is definitely something that is important in my life {our life}, and finding the right balance for those crucial elements {marriage, parenting, household  duties, me-time, work, and more}, is what I am seeking on a daily basis.

Read the rest of my guest post over at Katie's Blog!


I've mentioned on how I have really been slacking in the "picture taking" department. No apologies in this, nor am I dwelling on it at all. However, because I want to make sure that I am still capturing my children growing up and our every day lives, I have made a little "pact" with myself to take the big girl camera out 10 minutes every weekend and just capture the now. Doesn't necessarily have to be 10 minutes straight, but 2 minutes here, 1 minute there, 5 minutes there, and so forth. By doing so, I will hold myself accountable.

Will they most likely be in the same place every weekend? Us lounging in the living room, just hanging out. Probably. But sometimes I will try and take it out with us on our adventures.

So every Wednesday, I'll share our 10 minute capture and anything that I want to share about those captures.

This week:

* The first two pictures crack me up. Ellian is saying to G: "Let me have your face little man. Come here, let me grab your face"

*Elliana is loving the "Where's Waldo" book. We have a couple more in the attic that we are going to dig out and I actually just purchased some other books with the same concept. She thinks it is so funny.

*E loves to feed G snacks. His snacks. Actually, she loves to take the puffs out as an excuse to eat them herself. She gets about 10 to his 1. Ahem.

*G loves cars. We have never pushed any "boys" toys on him, however, he chooses to play with anything that has wheels. The toy in the pictures is one that his grandma bought him, and his new thing is flipping the cars over and playing with the tires. All I want to say about that is... where did my newborn go?

We had a great weekend with friends. A day at the zoo, park trip, lots of time outside, gymnastics class, ice cream run, and more. We have another relaxing weekend coming up with hopefully our in-laws coming into town. I'm ready to just do nothing.

I'm even more ready for FALL.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Graham 8 Months

Graham man, Where do I begin?This past month has flown by just as fast as the last, and I am still utterly amazed at how simple and easy you have made this transition from family of 3 to family of 4 for us. Your personality and presence lights up the room, and your calm demeanor is a constant reminder for us to always slow down and enjoy the little things in life. This past month has been a fun month, as you continue to explore the world around you. You're getting up on everything, crawling everywhere {and fast], and climbing stairs and walking with a walker. I mean... I can't even. When I look at you, I can't help but squeeze you. You smile instantly, you warm my heart in a split second, and you just fill our lives with so much more love than we ever thought possible. We cannot wait to see what the upcoming months have to offer, and we are just waiting for the day those little legs decide to start walking... then running... right after that big sister of yours!

So. About this month: You love to play. Play play play. You really have no desire to be held and just sit around. Which means very minimal cuddling for this mama. Although that part {the cuddling part} is something that I desire, I love just as much to watch you discover all the new things around you. You always want to get into whatever your sister is doing and you act like you are so much "bigger" than you are. I can tell that you are ready to be bigger. And it's something that we look forward to, as we watch the two of you interact and play more and more together.

As far as toys go, you're pretty predictable in what you will pick up and play with. Sticks, balls, anything with wheels, and remotes. That means you go straight for the cars {the little that we have}, anything that can be a stick {pool sticks, spatula, spoon, etc}, remotes {to use to bang on the table}, and anything that may be round that you can push around {including the food items such as oranges, apples, and more}. Needless to say, we do not push any specific toy on you, and allow you to make your own choices as to what you play with. It's so interesting to see that at such a young age, you already have a specific preference.

Nursing throughout the day anywhere from every hour to every 4 hours. Most days? Every 1-2 hours. It's not necessarily that you are hungry every time as it is that you just want a little snack and it's your "comfort zone." As far as night time goes? Normally you only wake up once and eat then. However, there was one night this past month that you ate a total of 18 ounces over night for your papa. Not sure if you were going through a growth spurt or what! And interestingly enough, your sister probably ate half the amount {when she was your age} than you do, and yet you are so much more leaner. My theory? It's because you are always crazy on the move.

Speaking of being on the move, you've been crawling now for the past 3 months, standing up on EVERYTHING, and walking everywhere when you have a toy to push. It's amazing to me that you are able to just walk with it. I think E was probably 11 months old before she even attempted that. Again, you never fail to amaze us.

Just like you did when you first crawled up THE FULL FLIGHT OF STAIRS. Last month you were able to take a couple steps up there, but then never showed any further interest. I am on the phone with Grandma for two minutes, turn my head for a second, and then you are not in the place that you were when I last looked at you. I walk around the living room and through the kitchen again to not find you anywhere in sight. I thought to myself, surely he couldn't have gone up ALL the stairs and THAT FAST. I proceeded to go up the stairs to not see you in the hallway, in which I turned around to wake my way down. That is until I heard little baby noises coming through our bedroom. And there you were crawling around with the biggest smile on your face. Well, there went the baby gate! {I promise baby we are not crappy parents to you, we just figured we had a couple months left before you did all these crazy things!}

Back to eating. Lets talk about baby food. You are on some sort of "no baby food kick." About the only thing you will eat is bananas, and then sometimes I can sneak in some spoonfuls of stuff. You are now more interested in "big people" food and I just chop up whatever I have at hand and place it in front of you. You like grapes, peaches, sweet potato, carrots, and apples. But again, only a few bites of everything, and then you are over it.

You love water. Anytime I am drinking a cup of water, you grab my hand to pull the cup up to your mouth. And then you want more, and more, and more. You still show no interest in a sippy cup though. I guess you will just transition straight to cups.

No teeth. STILL. However, the other day, I finally noticed a row of white tryiing to peak through on your bottom gums, so I imagine we should see teeth any day now. You definitely "teeth" though, which is a whole new territory for us.

Which brings me to the fact that we are back to choppy sleep {sometimes}. There was a week there that you were sleeping through the night 7p-6a. However, the past couple of weeks you have been waking up a couple times every hour after going to bed, crying, just wanting to be held. We would rock you back to sleep and you would then sleep for 4-5 hours, and then wake up to eat. So overall, you are still waking up at least once a night for a feeding. That's okay by me. I never had any intention of dropping that, and want to follow your cues. If you're hungry, then you're hungry. Hopefully after teeth start showing up though you may feel a little better and start sleeping a little better.

Overall though, you nap pretty good. You take a morning nap around 9-10, anywhere from 1-2.5 hours. Another one in the afternoon around 2, for about an hour, and then sometimes a third cat nap before bed for about 30 minutes.

You go everywhere. You see so much more of the world. You learn quickly. And you're growing like a weed. I cannot believe that next month you will be 9 months old, and that in 4 months we will be celerbating 1 year of your beautiful life! So grateful and blessed for every part of you.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I said I would Never; 52 Weeks of Blogging

You know, when I made up this prompt, I thought that my list of "never would I..." would be much longer than it is. In fact, it probably is, but because I have the memory of a snail, I cannot sit here and think of many examples. Really, the point of this whole post is to show that you should "never say never" because you'll end up surprising yourself in the end. Some things? You may in fact never do. Other things? Are little things that really turn out to be not a big deal in the long run.

Because when all is said and done? All that matters is a happy healthy baby.

1. Have my baby out without shoes or socks on. I remember seeing babies in grocery carts with no socks or shoes on, and for whatever reason, I just could-not-believe-it. I would think to myself... they have feet just like us for a reason. Would we come into the store barefoot? Now, this doesn't include babies walking. Just in general babies out in public being held barefoot. I know. Weird thing for me to say I would never do.

2. Co-sleep. For no real reason aside from... "Oh no, you can't possibly sleep with your baby! Haven't you heard all those stories." I just sit here and snicker now thinking about all the co-sleeping that we have done in our lives {and still do}. And so so happily.

3. Breastfeed past 6 months. This is kind of a strange one to me, and I don't recall why I ever had this thought in my head that I would only breastfeed up to 6 months. Obviously this was pre-Elliana, and pre-pregnancy period, but I think I just had this notion that once babies formed teeth and could talk that the world was better off not breastfeeding. Ahem.

4. Lose my patience. I thought I would always be the mom that had it all together at all times and never let the crazy tantrums get to me. You think that way until you have your first episode, and second, and then third. And during one of those few episodes... you're all like... what is going on here! This is not what I expected! Funny. That's exactly what motherhood is all about. Not what you expected at times.

5. Let them watch more than 1 show at a time. I was so adament about this. That was until I was pregnant with G and had the worst morning {you mean, all day} sickness. That's when more than 1 show was a necessity in our household and it was a total life-saver. You know what this taught me? Just go with the flow and let them be kids. We are so uptight as parents sometimes... why? Because we want to make perfect flawless children? Pshhhh...

6. Let my child go a night without a bath. How dare a mom not bathe her child everyday. Ha. Although we can probably count on our hands the number of times that we have missed bath times, I have to say that each and every one of those misses were well justified. And if they weren't? SO WHAT. Right? I know that there have been times that I didn't get a bath/shower in a day. Somehow, I survived as well. A sleeping toddler exhausted from the day's activities? May not want to hop right into a bath. And that's quite alright.

7.  Allow my child to be just in undies outside: Ever. However? If she's inside and her papa comes home and she wants to run to get him? In a diaper? In underwear? Go for it. It's amazing that I ever thought that that was a big deal... and it's not like she plays outside in underwear... she's just running out there to wrap her arms around her favorite man.

8.  Go out in public with a shirt stained kid
This is a funny one to me. I judged SO bad back in the day when I would see a kid that had a stain on their shirt. If they looked "dirty" at all, I assumed that the mother just didn't take care of them properly. I laugh at this now. Now that I am a mother myself. Knowing that you can leave the house perfectly clean, and in between the drive from home to work, who knows what could happen. And even if you had to leave the house in a rush after lunch? A stain on the short? Pshhh...the least of your worries. Missing hairbow? Hair out of wack? Yup. Been there, done that.

It's funny to me. Looking at this list. Realizing that the majority of these "nevers" have to do with "public image" and the fear of what others think. After becoming a mother, I learned a lot of things. Two of those things being... 1} Never say never. And 2} Just let those kids be kids. Dirty, non-showered, in undies, barefoot kids.

Because at the end of the day... where is the harm in being a kid.
Next Week: What Being A Mom Looks Like
For the complete list of topics: Here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Double the Fun, Double the Read, and Double the Giveaway

I have two ladies to share with you today. If you are looking for what it is like to live in another country and explore a life that only one may dream of, check out Casey's blog. Karissa, on the other hand, shares budget tips, and her journey through marriage. There's a little giveaway at the bottom. A chance to win $35 in gift cards to Target and Starbucks. 


 1. One of my favorite recent posts of yours {Pros & Cons of living in Germany} talks about some of the cultural differences between the United States and Germany.  What are some things, if any, do you miss about living in the US?

 -I miss how convenient everything is in the states. America is truly the land of instant gratification. Here in Europe, it takes 20 different steps to get one thing done. Granted, this new way of life has taught me patience, but I'll be happy when I can finally go through the drive-thru at Starbucks again. And roam the aisles of Target. MY GOSH do I miss Target! Online shopping is the devil. I also miss not having to pay to pee when we're out in public. I can't tell you how many times I've almost peed my pants trying to find 50 euro cent for the bathroom while out sight-seeing. It's an embarrassing number. America, I miss you.

2. I'm loving all your tasty looking recipes that you post {like this one}. Can you share some healthy food tips for someone wanting to make changes in their diet. 
 -Don't set unattainable goals or try fad diets to jump start your healthy living journey. The worst thing anyone can do when starting to revamp their current diet and exercise regimen is to think they're going to be able to drop 10 pounds in one week or cut out all dairy, carbs, and sugar and maintain that forever. I can tell you right now, they'll make it through one week, won't see results, get discouraged, and then fall off the wagon again. Set goals that are attainable for yourself based on your lifestyle, body, type, fitness and weight loss needs. Don't jump on board with diets that completely cut out a single nutrient if you know it's not something you can maintain for the long haul. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is the perfect body. Give yourself short-term goals and don't place so much importance on that number on the scale (muscle weighs more than fat, folks!). Choose healthy, well-balanced meals, practice portion control, and exercise regularly…the rest is all mindset. :)
3. I can't pass up the opportunity to mention how adorable you and your husband are together. Please, share some secrets to a healthy, happy, loving marriage!
-My best advice? Marry your best friend! Don't settle for anyone you couldn't see spending every waking moment with. From the mundane afternoon cleaning house or to the exciting 2 week backpacking trip through Europe…if your significant other isn't the person you could see yourself doing both those activities with AND loving it, then maybe you should find yourself another significant other. Marrying my best friend was the best gift I could have ever given myself. Having grown up together (we started dating our Freshman year of high school), D and I know just about everything there is to know about one another. He's been by my side through every significant event in my life and knows the innermost workings of my mind, sometimes better than I do! But what makes our relationship so great is that even on those Friday nights spent on the couch in our PJ's, there's no one else I'd rather be with.

4. Tell us 3 things you would like to accomplish in the next 5 years.

-I'd love to finally start to grow our family (baby fever is a real and dangerous thing), start up my own business (whatever that may be has still yet to come to fruition…but I'm brainstorming!), and mark Niagara Falls, Napa Valley, Vegas, and Costa Rica off my travel bucket list.
5. Lastly, tell us why you blog.
-I started my blog as a way to keep our family and friends updated on our move to Germany, but it's morphed into one giant travel log and memory book from our time here abroad. These days, I still blog to chronicle our adventures in Europe and keep our families in the loop, but I also blog to inspire others to see the world, to share my affinity for good food and wine & beautiful spaces, and to connect with other like-minded people all over the world. This blogging community is amazing! I never thought my little creative space would grow to be what it is today.

1. What are your favorite budget tips?

-To eliminate going to Target as much as possible, it's impossible not to over spend for me there. 

-make a list when going shopping, makes you less likely to buy stuff you don't really need. 

- trying to really think about need versus want when I'm deciding to buy something. Thinking about how will use this? Will it just become clutter? Asking myself these questions has prevented a lot of impulse purchasing. 

2. Where do you see your life 10 years from now.
- (family)I will have a 16 year old then so I hope I'm surviving been the mom of a teenage girl. I hope to have a couple more kids, don't know many. I see myself still married to my husband and about to celebrate 20 years of marriage. 

-(career) I see myself continuing with blogging or something in the social media/communications field. I hope to feel successful and fulfilled by what I am doing. I like being a part of this blogging world and want to grow in it. 

-(lifestyle) I hope to be living in my forever home, wherever that may be.  We aren't for sure where we will end up. It depends on so many factors. I hope we are able to travel with our children and see more of the world and expose our children to new places. 

3. List 3 things many people may not know about you.
1. I'm pretty equally shy and outgoing. I'm naturally an open person so that helps me be outspoken but things make me nervous and insecure so I have to push myself to try new things. 

2. That I can't drink since my stroke. Mostly due to the medication I'm on but also I think it's not really recommended. So it's been a long time since I've drank alcohol. I wasn't a big drinker before but a drink occasionally would be nice. Over 3.5 years is a long time.

3. I love infomercials. For some reason I find them really entertaining. It's ridiculous and I don't know why I like them. 

4. What are some of your pet peeves
- bullying is #1. I hate people being judgmental or mean to others. 

- excessive cussing. An occasional bad word here or there doesn't bother me but non stop cussing annoys me.

- When people start smoking around children, if you want to smoke fine but don't do it around my kid or other kids, they don't need it.

5. As a mom, what is some advice would you like to offer to a new mom?
-take peoples opinions with a grain of salt. Trust your instincts and listen to the people you really trust but you can't please everyone.

- don't let people talk you out of things you want to do. I wanted to deliver med free and I did, so many people believed I couldn't. I wanted to breastfeed for a year, was told I wouldn't make it but did till 15 months. People tried to discourage me to prepare me in case things didn't work out. I was aware that things out of my control could happen and prevent me from doing things the way I wanted and I would have dealt with that. I  still tried to push through and be the mom I wanted to be even with all the negative people around me. Its the only way to parent I feel. Decide what you believe in and what matters to you and do everything in your power to do it. 

-Being a mom is hard but it is so worth it so stay strong in those hard moments and know they will pass. The first year was horrible for me. My daughter had colic and was a terrible sleeper and so it was pretty much 24/7 crying for months. I thought I would never survive, I kept trying to tell myself it's just a phase she'll grow up and it will get better. It did she's an awesome kid and no year from 2-7 has been that hard compared to the first. 

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Last day---> HURRY UP, HUGE SALE!

It's the last day for this amazing sale by the cutest boutique out there... Kiki La Rue! Hurry and get your goodies with code: VIVALASVEGAS


This & That

Did This

Gymnastics has officially started and it went great. So great that E cried not wanting to go home when we went to meet her downstairs. Yes, I just said that. It was a solo gymnastics day. That means no more mama & me classes. And I am SO pleased to report that she did wonderful. G man cheered her on with lots of babbling. Lots.

Our friends are in town. This one. Remember how we met up in Chicago, and then she came to visit me last fall? She's back again with the whole fam-dam and we have lots of fun stuff planned for the weekend. I cannot tell you how exciting it is to hang out with adult friends with children.

That's actually two times in a week that we have had people over with other children. Adult interaction + baby interaction= happiness all around.

Loving That

We have really been into the brain quest cards during "School time." and E really seems to want to talk all the time {surprise surprise} about the monkey and what he is doing. Also, we have been working a lot on our sight words and utilizing our flash cards. The more I do this with her, the more I have this desire to homeschool.

Instagrammed This

Bought That

Baby gap had yet another fabulous sale with 50% off additional sale items. I got E a couple pairs of skinny jeans and G man a couple pairs of cargo shorts for next summer. Each item only cost me $7-8 each {with free shipping!}. 

Deal on This

We bought Elliana this backpack for $40. It's on sale for only $12! With that kind of a deal, it was silly of me not to grab one for Graham. There are 11 different styles to pick from!!

Also, there is a deal on the iphone idefender case for only $9. That's a huge savings and since I have now gone through 2 phones in 1 year, I think it is time for me to get something that can actually not protect. Not just look cute.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eating Clean? Paleo? Organic? Gluten Free? WHAT ARE YOU.

More than ever before, I hear about diet trends. It seems that everyone is trying something new. The past 10 years alone has shown a rise in health concerns when it comes to what we eat and products that we use, and the biggest question out there being "What is the safest." Interesting, as before, it was more around the lines of…"Which one will make me lose weight the fastest." Although that question is still very much so linked with diet trends, I believe the new thing I am hearing more about is healthy. When I say that word, healthy, I think of specific terms flying around. Organic. Clean eating. Paleo. GMO free. Gluten free.

Sound familiar? I assume so. Being on instagram alone will make you aware of these terms. #cleaneating #glutenfree #paleo.

I think about what we were told back then versus now and am astounded to hear about how different the trends are. For instance, remember when everyone was on the "artificial sweetener" kick, because you know no caolories=good for you. Don't drink regular pop, but fill yourself with all the diet in the world. Righhht...

For my family, key word here, my, we do not follow a specific trend. Although I hate to call it a trend, because I think finally we are figuring out what is and what isn't healthy. Finally. But who knows what we will be told 10 years from now? Will all the experts still agree in the future? Do some of them even agree now? I have to think not every, but lets just talk about what my family does or doesn't do when it comes to our diets.

For us, we do a mix of everything. We try to do what we feel best for our family. Making decisions based on research we have done, as well as the lifestyle that we live. If I had it my way? I'd have a backyard full of chickens, cows, and a garden of produce that takes up an acre of land. And someone to take care of all that as well.

Because that is not possible, we make do with what we have available to us. I would never tell someone that we are 100% anything; paleo, all organic, gluten free family. We have cheats and we live life. Wondering what kind of diet we follow? The gist of it....

"We make the healthiest decisions for our family when we possibly can."


We, including the children, only drink water. Andrew will drink orange juice on weekends sometimes, and Elliana will randomly have a glass of milk. Otherwise, water water water. She does not know any different and has never asked for anything else. She has had apple juice about 5 times in her life, and every time it is a "treat for her." Honestly though, she can down water like it is her job.

Our cheat: Once a month {lately every other month} we will buy a 12 pack to share over the weekend with our bad food that we eat too. It's our "cheat weekend" we call it. 


We cannot say we are 100% gluten free, in fact, not even close. I do not study every little thing to see if it has gluten in it, but I will tell you this… we have cut out a lot of pasta and wheat products in comparison to this time last year. Our dinners just look completely different these days. Before? We had pasta, rice, or potatoes with every meal as a side. Now? Our sides contain only vegetables. We try to spice it up by changing out the vegetables, however, we have not missed pasta. 

Our cheat: Once a week we will have pasta, or I make a homemade pizza. We rarely eat rice {except when I make my Mexican dish}, and it has been about 6 months since we have had potatoes. I don't miss them at all. Sweet potatoes are usually our substitute. 


We try to shop only organic, except when we cannot find products in organic. This is pretty rare as every year more and more products are becoming available in organic option. Have you heard of the list of 15 products that you may buy not organic? Read the list here. 

Our cheat: Well of course on our cheat weekends, or once a week we eat out, it's obviously very rare that those products are organic. I would never tell someone we are 100% organic simply for this matter alone. I don't know many restaurants that are "all organic." And us? We like to eat out once in a while.


What foods have those? Most commonly, deli meat. Ahem, subway. I know, I know, I used to be a big deli meat sandwich lover myself, but after reading about the risks involved with nitrites, we decided that we would try to steer clear from these foods as much as possible. Other foods include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and so forth.
Our Cheat: We will grill hot dogs in the summer {a couple times a year}.

If I cannot find a product that is all organic, and even if I can, if it is something new, I check the label. If it has any of these products it is a no go for me. Now? I'll dump 7 packets of sugar {pure cane} in my coffee if that means that I stay away from artificial sweetener.

Our Cheat: No cheat really, except when we are out at restaurants and may not know what is in the products.


Definitely a new thing for us here. We usually cook with organic extra virgin olive oil {and still do}, but we are using coconut oil with some recipes and I have to say it is not bad. You can definitely taste the coconut, but it's not as bad as one may think. 


This is the first year that we are testing out our own vegetable garden. Although we are already buying all organic fruits and vegetables, how awesome would it be to just grow your own? We have a small one right now, but we have plans to really expand next year. I am really excited about this and am learning more and more about it. No expert here, definitely beginner {that sort of failed... eh}, but a new little passion of mine, that's for sure. I'm sure it will takes years {and lots of learning} before we master it, but that is our goal. 

At the end of the day... we love food. We love to try new things and we love to indulge in sweets and other food choices out there that may not be the "healthiest." Most of the time? We are strict and want what is best for our family. But? Sometimes? It's okay to just live a little, and we know that our kids will have the opportunities to experience all of the above that we mentioned that we may try to avoid. We have no desire to force them to follow certain diets, however, we do hope to steer them towards healthier options available in hopes of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Because pictures always make me smile

I know that I haven't been taking pictures a lot. Lately. I'm lucky if I pick up the big girl camera once a week. Lucky. I certainly don't get in the pictures as often as I would like. And that tripod? Might as well have dust on it. So when I do get those 10 minutes of laying on the floor and capturing the now. When I do get a chance to actually level the tripod, tell E it's ready, and run to jump in? Then I do. And when I finally get a chance to sit down and sift through them on the computer {one month later}? Then I smile.

Makes you wonder what kind of an affect pictures will have 20 years from now.

I'm going to put my money on... tears.

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