Halloween 2011: With a side of fries

10/31/2011 at 9:48 pm | Posted in just plain fun | 4 Comments
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Don’t they look good enough to eat?

Tonight was rainy, cold … and pretty near perfect. Sophie was a trooper in her costume. Didn’t mind it a bit. And Lily loved telling everyone she was a “hambugger.”

We made rice krispie treats, lit up our jack-o-lantern and wiggled into costumes early. I love seeing Halloween through their eyes. Having kids changes everything, big and small. And on days like today, I’m reminded how awesome my life is with these two amazing little people in it.

How was your Halloween? Tell me about your costumes! And was yours a starry or rainy night?

Screech owl

10/31/2011 at 3:47 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, videos | 2 Comments
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She’s been doing this ALL DAY LONG.

Maybe we should make a last-minute Halloween costume change?

i heart faces: Halloween

10/31/2011 at 3:20 pm | Posted in Small Fry, snap happy | Leave a comment
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I had a feeling this year’s Halloween might be different with Lily. I was right.

She really got into pumpkin-carving last night. She scribbled all over the pumpkin, wrote her name on the back and helped me design the face. Then, when Marc lifted the “hat” from the pumpkin’s head, Lily delighted in pulling out the “ooey gooey” seeds and muck.

In fact, she’s carrying around her little plastic baggie of seeds today.

I love this shot because it shows how intently she decorated “Seed” the jack-o-lantern (her name of choice).

And I can’t wait to watch her trick-or-treat tonight. This year, she gets it. And girlfriend is ready for some candy.

Happy Halloween!


Where the rest of the world's like a little bitty spot

10/30/2011 at 10:01 pm | Posted in oh the places we go | 2 Comments
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Every year for the past I don’t know how many, Marc and I have made a fall trip to his alma mater for a football game.

He love his team. I love the mountains, the grilled hot dogs and the candy barrels at Mast General Store. Boone is gorgeous this time of year. Crisp air, vibrant leaves, and if we get lucky, a flurry of snowflakes. Even when it pours rain, we have a ball. (In one such year, I hid out at a coffee shop on King Street while the boys warmed their feet under our little hibachi grill. Good times.)

We weren’t quite sure we’d get to make the trip this year, with two kids now. But thanks to Nonna, Papa and Aunt Amy, our girls were well cared for while mommy and daddy snuck up to the mountains for a night.

And in the middle of all the action, this arrived on my phone and stopped me in my tracks. Oh hello, adorable smiling baby.

Of course I couldn’t resist one of these …

The Deputy and I both married mountain men (who went to college together and have many a story to tell). How lucky I am to have a partner in crime on these trips! She always keeps me laughing.

Approving of Marc’s genius flannel-shirt-scarf:

Storming the field after a big win (Oh yeah. There was a game, right?):

For a peek at our other Boone weekends, click here (pregnant, 2010) and here (not pregnant, 2009).

Hope your weekend was fun! I can hardly wait for Halloween tomorrow!!

P.S. I got a secret thrill seeing the choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms … don’t tell.

Friday weigh-in: the pity party edition

10/28/2011 at 3:58 pm | Posted in me | 6 Comments
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I had no intention of ever publishing this photo on my blog.

I love lots of things about it … the light on Sophie’s sweet face, her belly button peeking out, those cool clouds in the background. But I can hardly look at myself. And my 16 chins.

This is me one month ago. And I’m embarrassed to report today that I don’t look any different. Yet.

I know the camera angle is unflattering (even though the composition is really cool — good job, husband). And I know we all get the squishies when we cock our heads back like that. But still. This is a reminder of what I don’t want to look like.

There were others. Full-body shots. But I seem to have deleted them all after we got home from vacation last month.

This was not a good week. My “monthly visitor” came with a vengeance, so I’ve been comfort-eating all week. My only exercise consisted of a short walk on campus. And all that state fair food must have settled in.

Never fear, you guys. I’m not down and out. Definitely not.

This just fuels the flame. I am determined to post a loss next week!

Here are my stats:

The scale says: + almost 1 lb
Fried chicken count:
Exercise: one short walk
Highs: writing this post (for real)
Lows: feeling oh so mushy and B-I-G
Moral victory of the week: eating a veggie sandwich on Mexican-casserole-day at my favorite lunch spot
Moment of weakness: sweet tea after sweet tea
Progress toward goal: 1.6 lbs down, 18.4 to go

How was your week? I’ve heard good things about My Fitness Pal and Lose It … are there any other diet/weight-loss apps you guys recommend?

On how my kid has a tablet before I do (LeapFrog review)

10/27/2011 at 8:09 pm | Posted in Bloggy, Small Fry | 2 Comments
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At three-and-a-half going on 40, Lily loves to “read” books, type on the computer, write her name and talk. And talk and talk.

We’ve been reading to her since she was born, and it astounds me how she can remember so many stories VERBATIM. Like, if I miss a word or use an incorrect one (or skip a sentence or two in an effort to speed up bedtime), she totally calls me out.

She also loves to play the educational games loaded on my iPhone and quickly became adept at powering it on, finding the correct icons, starting up the games and controlling the volume by herself. Insert worried mom face here.

My kid is going to be more technologically advanced than I am, in like three more months.

So it’s no surprise that I jumped on the opportunity to review the new LeapFrog My Own Story Time Pad. LeapFrog is big in our house. Lily has been playing with a hand-me-down My First LeapPad since she was two, and she loves the Scribble & Write. We love that she’s learning while having fun. A win-win.

And this newest gadget from the brilliant minds at LeapFrog? Totally rocks.

LeapFrog My Own Story Time PadIn about five minutes, using the USB cable that came with the pad, I had personalized it with Lily’s name; her favorite color, food and animal; email messages from Marc, me and her cousin/BFF Olive; five stories and five of her favorite songs.

I wish I had captured on film the look on her face when she opened her first “email.” And, when she played the alphabet game for the first time, pressed the letter “L,” and her name popped up on the screen? Pure delight. Scout greets her by name each time she turns it on, which to her, is totally rad. And she can’t get enough of the “make music” feature. Each letter key makes a different sound (including cowbell, FTW) so she jams to the beat of her own drum. Literally.

My only complaint has more to do with (my) human error than anything. I got confused with the LeapFrog Connect interface and accidentally chose the “toddler” learning level for Lily, when she should have been “preschool.” I had a hard time going back in to change this, and then discovered that it didn’t really matter, in terms of the content of the pad. I’d convinced myself that I’d have to re-sync the pad to “upgrade” the learning level, but that isn’t the case. The product is developed for kids 2-4, so the content is relevant for that age range (duh, Suzanne).

The bottom line? Lily loves having her own “computer.”

And we love how it’s helping her little mind grow.

What are your favorite “techie” toys for your kids? Anyone else worried about being technologically outpaced by a preschooler? Just me?

Thank you to LeapFrog for sponsoring this review. While LeapFrog provided the product to me for this review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest point of view. #MyOwnStoryTimePad #spon

Sittin' pretty

10/27/2011 at 9:34 am | Posted in baby sunshine, snap happy | 4 Comments
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I discovered these photos on the laptop last night and just had to share with you. They totally crack me up. The way Sophie’s just sitting there, like “Hey Mom, what’s up? Just chillin’ here in my Boppy. I can’t really move. But I’m good.”

Baby is too much.

Happiness is: preschool art

10/26/2011 at 2:34 pm | Posted in just plain fun, Small Fry | 5 Comments
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Lily made this abacus. Isn’t it cool?

I love seeing what she carries home from school at the end of the day. She’s painted with her feet and elbows … and with her eyes closed. We have sculpture, musical instruments, a paperweight and a bird feeder that she’s created. My favorite is the “telescope” that she made out of an empty toilet paper roll.

Right now, everything is stacking up on the shelves in the playroom. And there’s a rotating gallery on the door in our kitchen. But I’m thinking about trying this idea from Pinterest. Or maybe this one.

What sorts of treasures do your kids bring home from school? How do you display them?


And speaking of art, our friend (and Love to Zaria sponsor) Laura Loving is just about to kick off a new campaign that makes me smile: it’s called Laura Loving Happy. I adore the bright, cheerful prints, clever greeting cards and that funky Buddha tote. They’re raising funds right now for the November launch. If you want in on the action, check out this site. And keep an eye out for my interview with Laura next month!

How to stay sane (or at least appear to be) with two kids under 4

10/26/2011 at 9:46 am | Posted in Motherhood | 5 Comments
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Thanks to Tervis for sponsoring my writing. Visit their website http://www.tervis.com to learn more about the world’s first smart cup.

Dr. Brown's baby bottles

A time-saving trick that looks like chaos? These things work in our world.

We’re almost six months in to this newfangled life with two kids.

We’ve switched from zone to man-to-man defense. We’ve adjusted our routines. We’ve embraced a new “normal.” And we’re surviving.


People ask me all the time how I maintain balance in my life, with a 30-hour-a-week job, two kids, volunteer commitments and my blog. After I finish laughing and wipe away the tears from my eyes, I answer: there is no balance. It’s more like a well-maintained juggling act. One that both Marc and I work very hard at, so that one day (soon, we hope) we will achieve that holy grail of parenthood.

We’re learning every day (and making up stuff as we go, complete with high-fives when a new trick works). Here are a few things that make our life more organized, healthier, easier:

The defcon 3 toddler warning system. Simply stated: tell your child over and over and over again what to expect and when. For example, Lily is playing in the living room. I holler at her to wash up for dinner. She screams in protest, face-plants on the floor and thrashes around dramatically. In scenario #2, I give her a 10-minute warning, a 5-minute warning, a 1-minute warning, then ever so gently, when the time has come, tell her to wash her hands for dinner. She gets up from her coloring, walks into the bathroom without complaint and washes her hands. Drama averted. Mommy is still one of the good guys.

Let them eat veggies. Mealtime with a little one can be so very stressful. Even when we serve a plate full of her favorite foods, she’s been known to leave the table without touching a bite. So when she’s hungry, we capitalize. On occasion, I’ll give her a little Lily-sized bowl of raw carrots and “dippy” (reduced-fat ranch dressing) while I cook. She quits begging for a snack, and we knock out vegetables before the meal has even begun.

Get moving in the mornings. This is probably the most difficult hurdle we face each day. How to get two kids out the door in under six hours? We’re still figuring it out. But one thing that’s really helped: prepping bottles and lunch boxes the night before (see photo above). We lay everything out, label it a zillion times, and boom. We’ve saved at least 20 minutes the following morning. I also picked up a trick from one of the other moms at Sophie’s school: because each bottle has to be dated twice (body and lid), we use masking tape and regular pens. When washing the bottles, the ink rubs right off, but the tape stays put. So we can just write the new date the next day (instead of re-sticking a bajillion little pieces of tape). Genius.

Multi-tasking in a healthy way. When Lily was a baby, if we needed a couple of things from the grocery store, I’d plop her into the stroller and walk there. She loved the scenery, I loved getting exercise and knocking out an errand. I’m currently in the market for a double-stroller so I can start doing this with both girls.

Space for me. I am STILL working on Lily’s first year scrapbook (yes, she’s turning four this winter). The supplies have been gathering dust in a corner of our bedroom. So, just last week, I cleared off my desk (which had become the holding space for everything from Halloween costumes to receipts) and set up a scrapbooking station. Now, when I have a few minutes to myself, I can sit down and knock out a page or two. The added bonus? It gives me peace not only to have that time to myself, but also to be finishing a project that’s been sitting on my shoulders forever.

Get and give. Just after Christmas and birthdays, we help Lily gather a big box of toys she no longer plays with to donate to kids in need. She doesn’t love this exercise yet, but I know she will. An interesting byproduct? She completely forgets she ever had those toys to begin with.

What are some of the tips and tricks your family uses to make life easier? Does it also take you fifteen years to get out the door in the mornings?


I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective. To learn more about Tervis, visit their website http://www.tervis.com. #clevertervis #spon


10/25/2011 at 4:01 pm | Posted in baby sunshine, Motherhood | 10 Comments
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My eyes pop open. Stomach lurches. There it is again. Her little squawk piercing the night’s stillness.

Three in the morning.

Is she sick? Hot? Cold? Heaven forbid, awake for the day?

I dig out from under the covers, heave myself upright. Two feet find the carpet. Eyes adjust.

Trip down the stairs and whip up a bottle half-asleep, in the sliver of brightness that the stove light affords. My hip catches the corner of the kitchen counter. Like always.

I trod back up the stairs, wondering … should I feed her? Should I just rock her? Should we let her cry? Grumbling. Pissed. So desperate for a good night of sleep. Wondering, will such a thing ever exist again?

Fumble with the stupid gate. Catch my finger in it. Like always. Grumble some more.

And then.

I swing open the nursery door. Her scent washes over me: vanilla and diaper cream and baby pee and that indescribable Sophie-ness. I lift her out of the crib, enveloped in her sweet warmth. Little hands find my face, grab my hair. Her smile, even in the darkness, cuts right through me.

Here is my confession: I secretly love our middle-of-the-night dates.

I never want to let her go.

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