Prepping for Baby #2′s Arrival – A Comparison

By bri {

PreppingForBaby2Arrival

It’s amazing how different preparing for your second child can be.

For me, it is an entirely different experience.

When I found out I was pregnant with Roree, JT and I knew we had to move out of our cute little 1 bedroom apartment and find something closer to my sister (since she watches her) and definitely something bigger.

So, we started looking for houses.

Little did we know it would, literally, take my entire pregnancy to complete the home-buying process.

We signed the mortgage papers on August 1st and moved in August 3rd. Roree was born August 20th.

Needless to say, there was no real nesting for me, except for those last two weeks in which I had to put together an entire house.

I was restlessly living in boxes for most of my pregnancy, which drove me half insane.

This time around, things are a bit more structured.

I’ve been able to start nesting fairly early on once the motivation struck. And thanks to Asana, I’ve been able to schedule all the things that need to be done easily.

One of the first things we had to do was transition my toddler into her own room.

Since Roree has experienced some big changes recently (please see: night weaning), I didn’t want to even attempt to transition her into her own room by herself.

Therefore, we used part of our tax return to purchase ourselves a much-needed king-sized bed and moved our queen bed into Roree’s room along with her crib.

Our sleep-plan when Violet comes is for her and I to be in the master bedroom while JT sleeps with Roree in her room.

Eventually, when we feel Roree is ready (i.e. when she doesn’t creep over into the big bed from her crib for snuggles/comfort in the middle of the night… and once she is over the shock of having a new baby sister), JT will move back into the master bedroom and Roree will be in her room by herself.

Honestly, I think JT is a little better off sleeping in Roree’s room! He’ll be getting way more sleep than me!

Since Roree’s room was essentially a toy storage area previously, when we moved the bed and crib in there, we also had to convert JT’s office into a playroom and move JT’s office into my office.

This was quite the undertaking, so I recruited my sisters and mom to help out with this.

My office had become a dumping ground for all things we never really got to unpack in the house and all things we had no idea where else it would go.

JT’s office was basically the dog room and needed to be thoroughly cleaned.

Roree’s room was stocked full of a million toys and books that needed to be organized and moved out.

I seriously thought this would take the duration of my pregnancy, but we got it done in ONE weekend thanks to my family.

JT moved all of his stuff and dumped it into my office while I organized all of Roree’s toys and books.

My sisters and mom organized my office and integrated all of JT’s belongings into it.

My sister, mom, JT and I organized all of the toys and brought the changing table station into the playroom.

Prepping for Baby #2 Toy Storage in the Playroom

We didn’t have a big budget for this project, and honestly didn’t need one. All I did was purchase some shelving from Big Lots, plastic boxes from the dollar store, and shelving and fabric bins from Target. And lots of plastic zip bags for toy organization.

We spent around $150 on the playroom/changing room.

Misc New Baby Prep

- We assembled the Pack N Play with the bassinet and changing table next to our bed and stocked it with diapers, coconut oil, wipes, extra blankets, burp cloths, extra PJs and swaddle blankets. I also have a My Breast Friend pillow next to the bed.

- We installed Violet’s car seat next to Roree’s.
The first time Roree saw the car seat next to hers, she looked at it curiously, so I said, “That’s Violet’s car seat. Your sister will be sitting there next to you.” To which she responded, “No. Roree’s.” Yikes.

- We packed our hospital bags (me, JT and Violet’s) along with Roree’s overnight bag and put it in the trunk of my car.

We still have yet to make freezer meals, but that is on the list of things to do this weekend or next!

After that… I think we’re as prepared as we will ever be for Ms. Violet to make an appearance, whenever she is ready!


Melissa And Doug Busy Boards: A Product Review

By bri {

Melissa and Doug Busy Board Product Review | All's Fair in Love and Words


After a friend of mine showed me pictures of this amazing busy board that her husband made for their son, I became obsessed.

Roree absolutely loves turning lights on and off and doing other fine motor tasks with household items and I knew this would be perfect for her.

I scoured Pinterest and had big plans for JT to make her a busy board.

Toddler Busy Boards | All's Fair in Love and Words

And then I remembered that my friend’s husband used to build houses and JT, though very brilliant in his own way, um… doesn’t.

He likes to think he is handy, but more often than not he ends up breaking things rather than fixing them.

DIY becomes very expensive at our house.

Side note to JT: I love you Honey Bunny! Don’t be offended :D

So, when I came across these Melissa and Doug busy boards, I got super excited! Not only would it save us scouring Home Depot for products we didn’t understand, a lot of frustration and possibly some loss of fingers, but it would actually get here in time for Roree’s birthday.

The issue, I have found, is that when it comes to buying gifts for Roree… I’m terrible at not giving them to her immediately.

Therefore, Roree’s birthday lasts all month long as her gifts trickle in.


Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board – A Review

Melissa and Doug Latches Board Review | All's Fair in Love and Words

I was excited about this, however, also hesitant that my very determined daughter may not be able to figure out how the latches work and it would only serve to frustrate her instead of keeping her busy for any significant amount of time.

I was both right and wrong.

This board most certainly kept my almost 2 year old busy, and it also frustrated her. But that is actually a good thing as far as the learning process goes.

Melissa and Doug Latches Board Review | All's Fair in Love and Words

It isn’t the type of toy I can set in front of her and then walk away. This is definitely a toy that we play with together so that I can help her out.

She figured out a couple of the latches fairly quickly, but a few others she needs to be reminded of how they work. Initially, I definitely had to show her how all of them work.

It is obvious, though, that eventually she will learn all of the latches and be able to fine tune her skills.

Another great thing about this board is that she had a great time simply opening and closing the doors when she was bored with the latches. To make it even better, inside the doors are colored and numbered animals for her to learn as well.

Melissa and Doug Latches Board Review | All's Fair in Love and Words

We are in the process of teaching her how to count and her colors…she’s already pretty good at naming animals, so this is a fantastic learning tool for those items as well as fine motor skills.

All in all, I’m very happy with this product, though it is a little pricey, I know it will last a long time due to the quality of Melissa and Doug products and Roree will have fun with it for a long time.

I even picture her showing Violet how to use it one day :)

Buy the Latches Board on Amazon, now!


Melissa & Doug Basic Skills Board – A Review

I was very excited about this board for the same reason I was excited about the latch board… I know Roree loves this type of thing.

She has been absolutely obsessed with buckling and unbuckling things lately, though it frustrates her to no end.

Melissa and Doug Basic Skills Board Review | All's Fair in Love and Words

This board has a nice combination of items for her to play with and learn, however, I’m not as happy with this item because of the “puzzle” feature. Instead of being stuck to the board, the different activities are each their own puzzle pieces which come off, making it hard for her to use.

I feel like this should have either been a puzzle or a busy board, but not both.

She definitely enjoyed the Latch System board more than this board, but I think as her motor skills get better, she will enjoy this board a bit more.

Buy this Basic Skills Board on Amazon, now!

 

Disclaimer: This review was made completely on my own, no prompting from Melissa and Doug, however the product links are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

 

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Have you come across any great products recently?


In The Kitchen: Pasta with Chicken, Veggies & Lemon Caper Sauce

By bri {

In-The-Kitchen

Today was an amazing day for all the little reasons.

Mother's Helpers

I scored some great finds at the dollar store, I got to see a friend (albeit very briefly – thunderstorms like to ruin our playdates) who made me a KICKASS diffuser necklace, my niece and nephew played with Roree all day and even got her down for a nap while I continued my “nesting” spree, JT and I were thoroughly entertained by Roree’s jewelry-making skills … and her photography skills.

Toddler jewelry making

I’d been snapping pictures of Roree and her cousins all day (and of dinner), so when I had my camera up in her face, she finally started reaching for it.

I decided to let her take it and see if I could show her how to use it.

toddler photographer

Nailed it.

Here are some of her photos:

Roree's pictures

Photographer in the making? I think so.

And to top it all off? I had a total dinner-win.

It is rare that all three of us absolutely love what is made for dinner. Typically it is either Roree or I who turn our nose up at dinner (yes, I refuse dinner, even if I make it myself. I blame pregnancy.)

But tonight? Tonight, we all loved it.

What’s even better is I totally made the recipe up myself.

 

Pasta with Chicken, Veggies & Lemon Caper Sauce

Pasta with Chicken and Veggies in Lemon Caper Sauce


This recipe was the perfectly decadent mix of lemony buttery goodness. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

 

Ingredients
A whole lotta love
3 thin cut chicken breast cutlets
Half a package of whole wheat pasta (pick your pleasure)
½ jar of capers
1 can of quartered artichokes
¼ cup+ of white wine
¼ cup butter
½ cup flour, divided
Swirl of extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt, black pepper & garlic powder mix for seasoning
Handful of grape tomatoes
½ container of feta cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
A handful of fresh baby spinach
1 tablespoon thinly diced onion
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups+ chicken stock (or water with chicken bouillon cubes)

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce Ingredients

Man, that is a lot of ingredients, but when it comes to the veggies, you really can add whatever you like. I was going to add mushrooms, but they didn’t survive the week. They were super shady-looking when I took them out of the fridge, so I had to toss them. Also, normally, I wouldn’t add the tomatoes, but JT and Roree like them.

You can also, probably, sub the fresh onion and garlic for the powdered version.

 

Directions
In a large ziplock bag, dump in enough flour to coat the chicken. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Drop in chicken and mix around until coated.

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce browning meat

Meanwhile, swirl the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Place the chicken in the pan and cook until done (liquid runs clear, meat is firm and white throughout).

Set meat aside in a warm place (I put it on a plate in the microwave.)

Deglaze pan with the white wine. Add in lemon juice and butter. Reduce. Whisk in the chicken stock.

You definitely want to thicken the sauce, and you can do this by making a rue initially, or, how I did it, was take a ¼ cup flour and slowly mix in the lemon/wine/butter/stock mixture until it was a paste, then whisked it in.

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce adding veggies

Add the onion and garlic to the mixture. Next, slice the chicken and add it as well. Whatever other veggies you decide to add can be mixed in, now. (Tomatoes, spinach, artichokes, capers).

When it came to the artichokes, I cut off the bottom and added those only since the leafy part can be kind of tough to eat sometimes.

After the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes begin to soften and burst, add in the feta cheese and let it get all nice and melty.

While you’re waiting for the veggies to soften and the sauce and ingredient to marinate together, go ahead and cook the pasta to specifications.

I used angel hair pasta – my favorite.

Once the pasta is cooked, add it directly into the sauce mixture.

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce add in pasta

The little bit of pasta water that gets in will only make the sauce better.

Mix together and serve!

Roree’s plate

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce Roree's plate

JT’s plate (with an extra sprinkle of feta)

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce JT's Plate

I didn’t take a picture of my plate, because it was boring. Like I said, I don’t like the tomatoes and without the pop of the red from them, it looks pretty dull.

Roree really loved this! She likes the more high-maintenance meals I make >_< She ate from her plate, then proceeded to pick out all her favorite ingredients from our plates. (The pasta and capers, mostly)

Pasta and Chicken with Lemon Caper Sauce

 

Your-Turn-Sketch

What have you made for dinner lately that was a total win?

 


Things I Heart: Summer Stuff

By bri {

thingsiheart-sketch

Yesterday, when I picked up Roree from my sister’s house, she was shirtless and sweaty.

Roree, not my sister. ;)

It turns out they were dancing to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. It is, apparently, Roree’s new favorite song. Ironic, isn’t it? My little grumper guss’ favorite song is called “Happy.”

Roree Dancing to Happy
Roree Dancing to Happy

Typically, the drive from my sister’s house to mine (which is only about 10 minutes, if that) is a little shotty since Roree starts getting cranky just in time for me to pick her up. I’m constantly trying to find ways to entertain her during those few minutes. This time, I pulled up my Grooveshark App on my phone and played the song. She sang and danced to it the entire time. I died of cuteness.

That probably tops all the things that I heart recently, but here are a few more:

 

Items I ♥

Items I heart

Clean & Pure Countertop Water Filter
We’ve had this for awhile and I’ve loved it since the day we got it, but I never posted about it. We spent years using a PUR water filter, spending money all the time on replacement filters, so when I came across this, I fell in love. For only around $50, you pretty much have a water filtration system you never have to change.

It’s earth-friendly and cost-effective! We just keep using it to refill a jug of water that we keep in the fridge instead of using water bottles.

Intex Easy Set 10′ X 30″ Swimming Pool with Filter Pump
We are SO loving our Intex Easy Set Pool. We have the 10ft/30″ pool that is the absolutely perfect size for Roree. She can walk around in it without the water going above her head. I’m able to float around and get some much-needed weightlessness-time (not to mention cool off in this wretched heat).

All three (four?) of us are able to fit comfortable in this pool with room to spare and we do it often as it wears Roree out and she adores it so much she sings the whole time she is in it!

I also love that it comes with a filter and it is pretty easy to maintain.

3-Tier Wire Shelving
My sister-in-law told me about her dresser work-around that she uses for her daughter and I decided to do the same for Violet’s room/ play room. Since we were severely limited with space, this was the perfect idea for us that didn’t involve having to buy a dresser.

We purchased two of these wire shelves and some fabric storage bins (8 total, 4 on each shelf) and put them in the closet. It looks great, was easy to put together and was cheaper than any of the dressers we were looking at originally! We also saved a lot of space since the room is so small and it is also doubling as a changing room.

 

I ♥ JT

jt

  • He gives the BEST massages and rarely complains when I request one
  • He lets me rest when I’m exhausted after work because a certain toddler woke up at 12am asking for milk

 

I ♥ Roree

Roree

  • She imitates the dance moves in the “Happy” music video
  • She makes me say random people (and things) names as I’m singing her bedtime song to her

 

Links I ♥

Links I Heart

1) Baby and Toddler Swing DIY from A Beautiful Mess
Must. Make. This.

2) Plan and Prep: Salad in a Jar from Fitnessista
Does anyone else greatly miss McDonald’s Salad Shakers? Because I sure do. This is a great alternative!

3) Zucchini Tots from SkinnyTaste
These look so good, I can almost taste them.

4) 5 Essential Oils I Use Daily from Wellness Mama
The uses are endless!

5) Mini Magazine Notebook How To from A Beautiful Mess
Must do this IMMEDIATELY! This is perfect for making little notebooks that I can keep in my purse or car.

6) Fabric Planter DIY from A Beautiful Mess
I probably wouldn’t use this as a planter, but as storage bins for Roree’s toys or other things in her play room or my office!

7) Portable Activity Kit for Little Travelers from Mama, Papa, Bubba
This would be an absolutely perfect addition to the backpack that I take with me anytime I go anywhere with Roree. I imagine this would be great for restaurants!

 

Quotes I ♥

“There is a voice inside all of us that sings a brave little song. If you can’t hear yours, find your volume button and turn it up.” – Tiffanie DeBartolo

“So rapid is the flight of dreams upon the wings of imagination.” — Alexandre Dumas

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” — Leonard Cohen

 

Random Things I ♥

Randomly winning a Gymboss timer from one of my favorite blogs!
I’m really excited to use the Gymboss Timer when I start really working on getting back in shape after Violet!

The fact that if I log into Google Chrome from anywhere, all my preferences and bookmarks are loaded!
This is something, I’m sure absolutely everyone knew aside from me up until yesterday. I left my laptop charger at my parents’ house and won’t see it until Thursday, so I had to use JT’s computer. That is when I realized the glory of logging into Google Chrome!

Like-minded MomFriends
It really does take a village to raise a child and I’m noticing more and more how important it is to keep friends around who are like-minded in their parenting style. It makes it so convenient when you ask for advice and get several responses that are aligned with how you want to raise your child.

 
Your-Turn-Sketch
What are you loving this week? What are some of your recent Pinterest/internet finds?


A (few) Week(s) in the Life… Visits from friends, nesting and lots of family time

By bri {

It’s been fairly low-key around here, lately.

There is a plague going around my town and a lot of my friends and their kids have been sick with a nasty stomach bug recently, so I’ve been staying under the radar quite a bit.

My extreme phobia of vomiting + being hugely pregnant + not wanting Roree to go through that has made me a bit of a hermit.

If I’m being honest, I started hermit-ing awhile before the plague hit.

I’ve gotten to the point in my pregnancy where I just want to stay home and nest. I’ve gone on an epic cleaning, purging and organizing spree in my house, pulling JT and other family members into my whirlwind.

Roree helping JT vacuum

It’s been nice having the house consistently in order for the first time in, well, forever.

Usually there are at least 3 rooms in our house that are in pure chaos, but now all of the rooms are cleaned and organized, for the most part. And what’s more? No pile of laundry taller than me! I think we have one small basket of laundry waiting to be done… that has to be a record for my little family.

In any case, here is a quick little update from my world:

 

Happenings

- My BFF/Boo came to visit with her little girl. I can’t even tell you how much it made me miss her and wish that she lived closer. Seriously, just thinking about it breaks my heart.

Renee and Bri

- I’ve had a couple midwife appointments since the last time I updated. All is well in the world of Violet. She is measuring perfectly and always has a strong heartbeat. I’m feeling good, though this heat makes me want to stay indoors (or in water) at all times. I feel much more ready for Violet to come than I did with Roree at this point in my pregnancy last time. Last time, I was hoping Roree would hold off as long as possible since we were in the middle of moving… now I’m ready when she is! Even if she is early!

- JT and I went car hunting during the day on the 4th. His lease is up soon and we were hoping to get a bigger car for him, but it may not be in the cards for us. I’m trying to keep our budget modest as far as cars go, and I’m not willing to sacrifice on quality of the car, so that we can pay down those student loans. I think it will be enough to have one car that fits our whole family. We’ll figure it out.

- Spent the afternoon of the 4th at my brother’s house, just hanging out with the family. We got home around 9pm from his house, just in time to see our neighborhood light up with awesome fireworks. Roree was both thrilled and terrified by the sound. We laid on a blanket (on top of our old futon mattress) in the middle of the driveway and watched all the fireworks. Of course, Roree found it necessary to nurse since she was laying next to me. :) Downside: apparently people of our neighborhood spend millions of dollars on fireworks and continue to set them off well into the wee hours of the morning. Blargh.

 

Things to Come

Like I mentioned, I’ve quarantined myself and have been completely content spending time with family, but mostly organizing and cleaning the house like a crazy person, so there isn’t too much in the near future for us.

JT and I are still on the car search. We may end up buying a used car for the first time… ever. We’ll see how it goes. I’m really wary of used cars! I’m used the brand new ones!

I’m sure there will be lots of swimming in Roree’s little pool. She absolutely loves it. It’s the perfect height for her (30”) so she can walk/jump/splash around without being held. She sings the whole time she is in it… and it feels good for me to be weightless for a time.

 


A Week in the Life: Seeing Violet

By bri {

Happenings

We started having Fridays off at work a couple weeks ago, which is a nice little perk. The first Friday I had off was celebrated by a park date with a friend in which we got rained out of. It ended up being kind of cute because Roree and her friend had a fantastic time jumping in puddles until it started thundering and we had to head home.

Friday night was the first time JT and I went out in the evening sans Roree in awhile. We met up with a few friends and sang some karaoke at a local sports bar. I love that almost everyone who came got up and sang!

karaoke

That same weekend was my birthday and I celebrated it with my family at my brother’s house. My birthday gift to myself was a peek at Violet at a 3D Ultrasound. 28 weeks was a perfect time to look at her because she was already chubby and looking so very baby-ish!

Violet1

We even caught her smiling.

Violet

She was very camera-ready for the first part of the ultrasound and we got some great views of her, but then she fell asleep and put her face in her hands.

If you recall, Roree had a love affair with her placenta whilst In Womb, well, Violet has one with her umbilical cord!

Violet

It will be sad when she has to depart with it.

Roree didn’t attend the ultrasound since she had a bit of a meltdown the first time I got one done at my midwife’s office. It upset her since I couldn’t hold her and someone else was all up in my business.

However, when we returned and I showed her the pictures, telling her that it was her little sister, Violet, she said, “No. Dada.” Apparently Violet also looks like JT. Darn his dominant genes!

 

It is my very favorite thing that, for my birthday, I received 3 Barnes and Noble gift cards. My friends and family know me VERY well and I LOVE it! I know sometimes people feel guilty about giving gift cards, especially if they give me the same gift year after year or if someone else also gives me the same gift card… but seriously… I LOVE IT!

If all I ever got as gifts from anyone for anything was Barnes and Noble gift cards, I would be just as happy.

Needless to say, the very next day I went out and spent all but $11 at Barnes and Noble. I got 4 interesting books from the Bargain Bin and 5 Kumon Work Books for Roree.

The $11 left on the gift card is currently burning a hole in my pocket.

 

The same day as the B&N shopping spree (and Father’s Day), my parents and I took Roree to the Highland Rec Center where they had a special Father’s Day celebration. Dads got in free and there were free hot dogs and ice cream.

JT was spending the day gaming at a friend’s house, so he didn’t partake, but Roree had a great time.

Granted, she didn’t want anything to do with the spraying water and ended up just playing in the kiddie pool, sliding down the baby slide… but at least she had fun and we wore her out enough to have her take a second nap so that I could drive home without a screaming toddler in my back seat!

 

This past Thursday my boss threw me a baby shower at a beautiful little tea house. It was such a sweet gesture considering I haven’t even been there a full year, yet. I’m so grateful for this job and the people I work with.

I also forgot how exciting it is to have a baby shower and see all the adorable little gifts! Not to mention it got me very excited about Violet’s arrival just when I was starting to freak out about all I had to do to prepare for it!

Babyshower

 

JT has every other Friday off and this past Friday was the first one.

We decided to take Roree on a Jungle Safari Tour at Dade City Wild Things since I picked up a Groupon for that and a monkey feeding for two for only $25. Roree loves animals and was such a good girl on the tram ride the entire time.

Her favorite part was feeding the lemurs and the buffalo.

Dade City Wild Things

 

The rest of the weekend was spent prepping for Violet’s arrival and I definitely was not expecting to get as much done as we did. However, both of my sisters, my niece, nephew, and mom all came over to help out and we got SO MUCH done.

I’ll post about the preparation separately since there is so much!

 

Things to Come

I have a midwife appointment on Thursday. Since I’m 30 weeks now, I will be going every 2 weeks until 36 weeks and then will begin going every week until I have Violet.

Just typing that out is surreal! Where did this pregnancy go? I can’t believe I’m going to see Violet in 10 or so weeks! Eep!

 

A very good friend of mine is in town and I get to see her this weekend! I’m so excited! Last time I saw her, she was pregnant. Now, it is my turn (again).

 

I’m also planning a trip to IKEA to obtain a dresser for Violet’s room as well as some sort of closet organizer so that I can start washing Roree’s old clothes and Violet’s new ones and getting them hung up or folded!

That is my favorite part of baby prep! I’m sure there will be misty eyes as I go through Roree’s old clothes. *sniff*

 

Your Turn!

What did you do these past couple of weeks? What is upcoming?


Things I Heart: Make up, morning hair and more

By bri {

This week has been FLYING by and I’m ok with that.

I have some fun things coming up, like the Jungle Safari Tour and Monkey Feeding at Dade City’s Wild Things that I bought a few weeks ago from Half Off Depot. It was only $25 and we’d only have to pay an extra $12 so that Roree can feed the monkeys. Other than that JT and I are included in the tour.

I’ve been dying to take Roree to feed monkeys since she’s been obsessed with animals, lately. I think she’s the perfect age right now.

Anyway, I’ve been gathering a list of things I heart and here it is:

 

Items I ♥

Super Fat Eyeliner by Nyx

I’ve been on the hunt for a fat liquid eyeliner marker and happened upon an Ulta store near my work which had Nyx make up products on sale. I was also on the hunt for more mascara, so I bought that along with this eyeliner for only $13! Steal! I used this mascara for the first time today and fell in love with how easy it is to apply. I’ve always had trouble with the typical applicator brush that liquid eyeliner comes with, but this is super easy. It makes my morning work makeup routine a lot faster!

Let’s Sticker and Paste Kumon Workbooks
Kumon Workbooks
Fun fact: my first job was working at my sister-in-law’s Kumon Math and Reading Center. I’ve always been impressed with Kumon and when I came across these workbooks for 2-year-olds, I thought they’d be perfect for Roree. She loves stickers and I recently bought some cheap-o sticker workbooks from the Dollar Store for her that she absolutely loved. I figured she’d have a great time pasting as well, and I was right! It is a great way to keep her busy and refine her motor skills as well.

Nectarines!
Nectarines
photo credit: travel oriented via photopin cc
This time of year, nectarines are AMAZING. While I love peaches, nectarines are my personal preference. Something about eating hairy ball-shaped food kind of weirds me out. :P Roree is also obsessed with them and between her, JT and myself, we go through at least 6 a week. I wish there was somewhere close by where we could pick some!

 

I ♥ JT

JT

His uncanny ability to ignore me when I’m grumpy and say something unnecessarily mean.
This happens more often than I’d like to admit. Why he puts up with me, I’ll never know.

How receptive he is to criticism.
Constructive criticism, I should specify. I love that we can have conversations about parenthood and life in general and he is very open to ideas and implementing them. I know this is a rarity and I appreciate it.

 

I ♥ Roree

Roree

How she says her name: “Ra-Ree”
I think I mentioned in a previous post that Roree has been obsessed with saying her name and staking claim on different items and people. “This is Roree’s,” she says as she placed her hand on her chest, tucks her chin and looks up at you through those long, dark lashes. You can’t help but agree… even if it is most definitely not hers. It’s how she shows she really likes things these days… by letting you know she owns it.

Her songs, especially when they are about me or people in my family.

Taina and I were riding in the car the other day and Roree was singing in the back seat. Taina stopped and looked back at her because she realized Roree was singing about her. It’s one of the cutest things.

Her crazy morning hair.

crazy hair
She is definitely my child. This kid cannot lay still for more than 20 minutes at a time at night, therefore, when she wakes in the morning, she has an epic bird nest on the back of her head. It is both hilarious and adorable at the same time. Sometimes, I don’t want to brush it just so that I can laugh at it all day.

 

Links I ♥

Why You Need a Time Budget — and How to Create It from WiseBread
I love the golf ball metaphor in relation to time: “Standing in front of a lecture hall, a professor shows his students that you can fill a jar with golf balls — it’s as full as it can get, right? But then he squeezes some pebbles into the jar, and then sand. The point is that as busy as you think you are, you can always make more room for the things that matter most in your life, including taking time to enjoy your relationships.” I definitely want to implement some version of this. Time management is something I struggle with and I think most people do.

The Greatest Commencement Addresses of All Time from Brain Pickings
It may be weird, but I adore Commencement Addresses. Good ones, anyway. It’s like a great Ted Talk, so when I came across this article from one of my favorite blogs, I got ridiculously excited and desperately wished I had time to watch them all. I’ve seen a few and loved them, so I know this list is a good one.

Brown Butter Popsicles from A Beautiful Mess
I’m sorry, what?
Usually when I look at recipes, I immediately give up when it has too many ingredients that I don’t buy on a normal basis. This, however has a very simple ingredient list! I can’t wait to try them!

LET’S MAKE MOCKTAILS! from A Beautiful Mess
I’m not a big drinker, so these tips for making great mocktails is perfect for me!

Avocado Coconut Popsicles by SkinnyTaste
My dad has been making a delicious avocado milk drink since I was little and that was immediately what I thought of when I saw this recipe! Must. Try.

Protein Pancakes without the Protein Powder from Fitnessista
This is why I need a membership to Costco (and why there needs to be one closer to me!) Apparently you can get Hemp seeds from Costco! Anyway, these pancakes sound delish!

Microwave potato chips from One Good Thing by Jillee
My world has changed.

 

Quotes I ♥

I am dedicating this portion of “Quotes I ♥” to Shonda Rhimes’ Commencement Address.

“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams — fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them — it’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So… ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.”

“But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky. We have been given a gift… Now it’s time to pay it forward.”

“If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother.”

“I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them…I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.”

Random Things I ♥

Doing laundry every day.
Why in satan’s overflowing laundry basket would anyone like doing laundry every day, you ask? Because it is actually my favorite chore (which works out because it is JT’s least favorite.). Not only that, but we have a ridiculous amount of laundry for a relatively small family (I can thank cloth diapering for that) and for so long I would get completely overwhelmed by the amount of laundry that would pile up in various places throughout the house. Now, however, it is perfectly manageable to do one load of laundry pretty much every day.

Keeping the house consistently picked up.
Like laundry, stuff used to accumulate throughout the house. In the craziness of being two full time working parents and having a toddler, messes tended to be left around the house. Now, I make a conscious effort to clean up after everyone, if not right after we are done with something, than at least before I go to bed. Now, it is much less stressful when I come home from work or get up in the morning because the house is somewhat presentable. Next step is vacuuming and mopping the floors on a more regular basis, but we all have to start somewhere.

Asana
As an avid list-maker, Asana is pretty much my dream come true. It’s lists within lists within lists and promotes incredible productivity. We use the program at work, but what’s even better is that it has a “Personal” section as well where I’ve invited JT to lists for groceries, weekly meal plans and stuff that needs to be done around the house. I use it for my blog, for thoughts/ideas and so much more.

 

Well, that’s all folks! Until next time… what are you loving this week?


Mom

By bri {

When I was in elementary school, I was obsessed with R.L. Stein. I devoured all the Goosebump books I could get my hands on, then as I got older I moved on to his Fear Street series.

During those years, I wrote several stories that were obviously influenced by those books. They were about ghosts, witches and nightmares. I believe I wrote a 5-part saga called The Midnight Madness Club when I was around 10 or 12 years old.

The stories I wrote during the later years in Middle School and the first couple of years in High School had male characters that held uncanny resemblances to Justin Timberlake, Leonardo DiCaprio and Devin Sawa. I’m pretty sure a character in one of my stories was named Justin Timberriver.

As I progressed through high school the stories I wrote (in the journal that I always carried around with me from class to class), started taking on more emotional topics that were derived from my earth-shattering teenage experiences… like when my best friend stole the boyfriend I didn’t really like in the first place. (It was the principal of the thing. My life was ending. I was horrifyingly betrayed, obviously.)

Somehow, during those High School years, the male characters in my stories resembled Justin Timberlake (still), Josh Hartnett and Matt Damon. (Thanks Pearl Harbor and Good Will Hunting!)

My senior year I had my first real…well…real to me at the time… heart break thanks to an older boy who was in the air force. Suddenly, stories weren’t potent enough to relieve the kind of shockwave that first heartache induced, so I resorted to terrible poetry that focused more on rhyming than depth.

All those years, I would type up these stories and poems, print them out and give them to my mom to read. A day or two later she would hand them back to me, not with a nod and a “good job,” but with a smile and the pages filled with ink. She would underline phrases and circle words. She’d write in the margins about what moved her about a certain scene or even how impressed she was with how I worded something. How certain dialog made her feel.

This is why, despite how silly those stories I wrote then were, I never stopped writing. Why my stories became more and more potent as I grew older as my experiences and heartaches and happiness influenced my writing. Why my poetry has morphed into what it has today. Why I do what I do for a living.

My mom never corrected grammar or spelling or punctuation. She didn’t suggest that I change the storyline to make it better. She just praised the work that I did.

She told me once that though others may have frowned on her praise and her unwillingness to correct these things, she never felt as though that was her job. Her job was to encourage. To show positivity. To celebrate and congratulate. We, as maturing humans going out into the world would face enough criticism and negativity and correction from the world. From our teachers and friends and strangers. She wanted to be that solid foundation of support.

And that’s what she was: The gleaming rays of sunshine that broke through the clouds, even on my very worst day.

She’s why I parent Roree and plan to parent Violet the way I do. The way she did. With big celebrations of tiny victories.

Thank you for that, mom. I hope you have the happiest of birthdays.

1077_1070746771903_9232_n


The Birthday Week

By bri {

In a desperate attempt to fit in all the things I won’t be able to do immediately after having Violet, I’ve been filling my weekend calendar with all sorts of fun events.

Whether these events are for myself or Roree, I can’t entirely say, but it has been a busy several weeks. And will be a busy several weeks to come.

 

Happenings

Instead of attempting to write about each of these events, I’m just going to list them:

- 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Tea party

- Blueberry picking
blueberrypicking

- Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour show by Cirque du Soleil (Amazing!)

- Pure Romance Pizza Party

- Birthday parties for friends
birthdayparty

- High School graduations for work and for my niece

- Birthday dinner

- Blackberry picking & fun on the farm
farm

 

Aurorah Lyn

Roree has been constructing sentences like a pro lately and it never fails to amaze me. It feels like not too long ago, she was just a little infant, crawling around and I couldn’t picture her walking and talking!

beachbaby

Her new favorite thing to say is her name, which absolutely kills me every single time. She LOVES her name. Hearing her name, saying her name and claiming things are “Ra-Ree’s.”

Every night I sing “Close to You” to her before bed and just recently I started adding her name and “mama” and “dada” to the song, which absolutely cracks her up.

ex:
Just like Mama
Dada longs to be
Close to Roree

She has such a hilarious sense of humor and her personality is really starting to shine.

 

Violet Jayne

As for Violet, she is SO active! While it is entertaining to feel her bouncing around all day long, it also worries me… I mean, does this kid ever sleep?? I’m scared. Very scared.

 

Things to Come

This week is super exciting! Why? BECAUSE IT IS MY BIRTHDAY WEEK! Yippie!

My last year in my 20′s will begin very soon. (In case that went over your head, I’m turning 29.)

Thursday is the first of my 3rd Trimester (holy crap!) prenatal appointments. Thankfully, I passed my Glucose test this time around and managed to escape the 3-hour test yet again.

belly

I will have Fridays off starting this week and ending the last week of July, which is nice. More time to fit in all those fun things I want to do!

This Friday will consist of playdates and a karaoke night. I haven’t karaoked in public in far too long! I absolutely cannot WAIT!

Saturday morning we get to see Violet in 3D at Sneak a Peek Boutique in Oldsmar and since that location is very close to my brother, I’m throwing myself and my mom a birthday pool party at his house. He is forced to love it. Like I told him, maybe don’t buy a party house and I wouldn’t throw parties in it. Just sayin.

Saturday evening my sister and I are seeing a show at the Straz Center. It isn’t normally something I’d be inclined to pay for, but the tickets were free, so why not?

Saturday night I’ll be staying at my parents’ house with Roree and we’ll be playing at the Dunedin Splash Park in the morning, then heading home. JT will be celebrating father’s day with his boyfriends (hehe) at a BBQ, so it’s just Roree and I all day.

splash

And that’s ok. We’ll have a mama-daughter date day in celebration of Father’s Day this year.

 

Links I ♥

I’ve come across some pretty great articles recently, and just had to share before ending this post:

My Favorite Branding Trick from Enjoy It

I love the idea of using rubber stamps for branding on all sorts of things! She uses them on anything that corresponds with her business, which is such a great idea. I imagine using branded stamps on shipping boxes, labels, tags, business cards, leave behinds… anything!

Lazy Guy Real Food Dinners from Kath Eats Real Food

These are great, quick and healthy dinner ideas… not just for guys! Totally works for working moms, like yours truly, too :)

Before & After: Little Tikes Plastic Playhouse Paint Job from Apartment Therapy

Roree recently acquired a second-hand play house from a very generous friend of mine. She absolutely loves it, and when I came across this article I got really excited about the possibilities of colors for her playhouse! It’s such a great way to make something second-hand seem brand new.

Love Never Felt So Good – Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson

Oh, Justin, you will always have a place in my heart even if you face is no longer plastered like wall paper (and ceiling paper) on my bedroom walls anymore… This song is kind of like a dream come true. Justin & MJ? Is this real life?

Side note: Justin, please do something else with your hair >_<

Checkout 51 – App

Such an awesome way to earn money by doing something you have to do anyway… grocery shop!
I haven’t used it yet, but I took a peek and it isn’t anything too specific, you can earn money back on buying a gallon of any kind of milk!

 


A Week In The Life: Sick Sucks, but Easter Doesn’t!

By bri {

Violette Jayne

It’s Week 21 and Little Miss has been movin’ and shakin’ lately! Actually, just as of last night, I really started feeling her wiggle around! I was laying in bed and it was almost alarming how much she was stretching and rolling! I’d very nearly forgotten that incredible, surreal feeling and I hope I never do again. It is such an amazing, awe-inspiring thing.

 

Aurorah Lyn

Oh, this silly little girl. She constantly surprises me. I didn’t expect her to catch on to egg hunting so quickly and so well, but she did. We purposely put her eggs in extremely obvious places and she ended up snatching them up so quickly AND finding the older kids eggs!

egghunting

She loved egg hunting so much that we did a reenactment of it later in the day and let her hunt for eggs again.

She also has a new found love of putting change into her piggy bank, since a few of her eggs had some change in them. Granted, she gets frustrated when the money won’t fit (i.e. she needs to turn the coin around to fit into the slit), but she eventually figures it out. It just isn’t a game for the evenings when she is getting cranky.

jtroree

Roree has also been bonding a lot to JT this week, especially since Saturday because I’ve been sick and he has stepped up a lot with helping her out. She asks to go to him more often and even cut me off a couple times while I was singing to her at night to ask for Dada to put her down to sleep! It is simultaneously heart breaking and warming and makes the guilt lift a bit more for when Violet comes and she’ll need to get used to him doing a lot more with her.

 

Happenings

Earlier in the week I finally picked up some easter eggs and some non-candy fillers. One of the items I got were these little frogs.

When I got home and started filling the eggs, Roree was very excited to help me. She kept opening and closing the eggs as I filled them and when I came to the frogs, she fell in love with them to the point where I just let her have them instead of putting them in the eggs!

eggs

She has been obsessively playing with all 8 of them all the time… evening taking them in the bath with her and washing them. So funny.

I had Friday off for Good Friday, so I figured I’d take advantage of my 3 month pass to Glazer and go on a week day in hopes that it wouldn’t be insanely busy.

I was wrong. It was insanely busy, but Roree had a good time, anyway.

glazer

I, on the other hand, was convinced that my allergies were acting up, but it turns out I was getting sick :(

It didn’t really hit me until that evening.

Roree and I played in the museum for a little over an hour, then we played at the park outside of the museum and walked around the downtown area. She had more fun playing outside of the museum than actually playing IN the museum, but I’m just glad she had fun and got worn out enough to nap on the way home!

roreeslide

As we were about to leave to grab lunch, we ran into some friends and ended up having lunch with them at Pizza Fusion, which was also busy, but delicious!

Like I said, Roree napped the entire way home and I was exhausted, so I may have parked in the driveway and napped in the car until Roree woke up. I knew that she’d wake up and not go back to sleep if I transferred her, so I did what I had to do! LOL!

That night I hung out with my still-bed-bound sister and crashed when I got home.

Saturday when I woke up, I felt completely miserable. My throat was on fire, I was congested and sniffly and for whatever reason my neck was in a lot of pain. Luckily, JT let me sleep in a bit, but we had a family gathering at our place, so I attempted to help clean the house.

I really did only minimal work because I kept getting light headed.

I still had a lot of fun with my family, as I always do, but I felt on the verge of passing out the entire time.

I’m telling you, being sick when you are pregnant sucks way worse, even if it is just a cold!

I definitely had to decompress after that and decided to take it easy the next two days I had off. JT really stepped up and helped me the past few days, doing house work and taking care of Roree. I’m hoping this sickness will randomly go away by tomorrow when I have to go back to work! I’ve been downing lemon + honey + warm water and covering myself (and Roree and JT) in The Bomb oils!

 

Things to Come

There is an awesome consignment sale happening this weekend that I’ll be browsing for things I need for Violet and Roree. Gotta love used baby items!

consignmentsale
I designed the flyer… isn’t it cute? :)

I am SO very excited for the Natural Birth and Baby Expo this weekend! As well as The Great Cloth Diaper change! I BETTER be feeling better by then or I may cry!

I recently became a volunteer for Tampa Bay Birth Network since I have a little bit more free time, I figured I’d use it toward an organization I really like :)

naturalbirthexpo

Also, Sunday is a much craved Sushi lunch date with a few friends. Of course, I will be having fully cooked sushi, but still satisfies the cravings!

 

Goals for Next Week

Not be sick

Stay away from my phone when I’m home with Roree <- A very difficult, but much-needed thing. My time with her is precious!

 

Currently Reading

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

 

Songs on Repeat

Sleeping to Dream by Jason Mraz


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