The Best Kept Secret of Back to School

Last Tuesday I was on my weekly outing at Target.  At first glance everything seemed to be normal and in place but after a few moments I was something different in the air.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it at first.  It was calm, the moms all had a little twinkle in their eyes.

Then I realized what it was.  School was in session and we all had gained our freedom back! After a long hard summer we could (kind of) do what we wanted to! There were NO school aged children in the isles begging their moms for toys or the sugary cotton candy flavored yogurt. All seemed right in the world again.

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Moments after I had my epiphany I felt a tap on my shoulder.  It was a fellow mom I knew casually from the gym.  She asked how I was and exchanged pleasantries and I asked if her kids were in school (she was flying solo).

“Oh yes. I miss them so much. I’m so sad!”

Liar!!!

I can see it in your face! You are relaxed.  You got showered and dressed without interruptions! You ARE WEARING MAKE-UP.  But of course I just smiled and told her that she deserves a few hours to herself and we went on our (very happy) ways.

This year September brought a few big changes to our household. Charlie has started full-time school and Henry is going to tot class two mornings a week.  That means I have FIVE glorious hours every week that I just have an (easy) infant to care for.  It gives me a moment to breath and remember WHY I love being a mom in the first place.

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So far during these few special hours we get together,  Whitney  and I have gone to Target (duh), taken a long walk and spent an amazing half hour getting a pedicure. What are my plans of how to spend the rest of these great mornings? I might get breakfast with another ‘childless’ mom, hang out at home and cuddle my baby or spend it at the gym. The point is I can do whatever I want! And that really has not happened in a long time. I will enjoy every moment of it without apology.

You see, there is this crazy thing happens to me when my kids are in school.  I actually start to miss and appreciate them! The saying that ‘distance makes the heart grow founder’ is so true. They are awesome kids and I realize that SO MUCH MORE when I’m not with them every moment of everyday.

So, mama, when that moment finally happens and you find yourself having a few hours to yourself.  Don’t be sad! Enjoy it and embrace it.

 

I’m Back!

It feels so good to be back writing! I have missed connecting with all of you amazing women! I have missed the friendship, support and honestly even the debates!

The past several months have been a world-wind! In April I had a beautiful baby girl (Whitney Catherine). Read about her birth story here! She’s Here! Whitney’s Birth Story We were also in the middle of selling our home and moving across town to what I can only describe as my dream home.

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I’m not going to lie.  It has not been easy, but I am so in love with life right now.  We are so lucky to have three healthy and happy children and a roof over our head. With all of the horrible and scary things going on in the world I’ve been thanking God everyday that we have these simple things that mean so much to us.

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So now that the school year is imminent (sniff, sniff, my oldest is starting junior kindergarten) I will be back on schedule.  And for those who know me, know I love a schedule!

I will be sharing my trials and tribulations on decorating my home (mostly by myself), parenting, having a life outside of ‘mommyhood’ and my attempt at balancing all of that withing losing it!

Thank you again for reading along and I can’t wait to hear from you!!

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Baby Registry Must Haves

I am about to have my third baby! And at this point, I feel like I really know what I need for her and what is just ‘extra fluff’ this time around.

There are SO many options and everyone is trying to sell you the latest and greatest! I have a three point criteria that all need to have a ‘yes’ answer for me to buy.

 Is it useful? Is it convenient? And is it good quality?

All of these are super important.  When you are in the daze of having a newborn you want these products to help you. Not want to make you scream because you can’t figure out how to clip something properly or it falls apart after one wash!

Here is my ultimate list designed to make the life of a new mom a (tiny) bit easier.

{This post contains affiliate links.  But, rest assured I ONLY promote products that I have used and LOVE}

Fitted Bed Sheets

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Get a few of these (you will probably need to make a quick late night change after a blow out or huge spit up).  You don’t want to be left in the dark.  No need for a large bedding set! Just find a design you like and order about four of them!

Circo Burp Cloths

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I have bought this brand for all three of my kids.  They come in so many different patterns and are the perfect size and absorbency.  They have multiple uses in the first few months.  Burp clothes, small blanket for the stroller, snot wiper, using as a changing pad in a clutch….get a few packages. I go through several a day.

Little Giraffe Receiving Blanket

 

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We all know that you cannot let a newborn sleep with this blanket in their crib….but there are times when they will need a little extra warmth (in a stroller on a crisp fall day for example.) The softness of this blanket is amazing and, of course, it is machine washable!

Boppy Nursing Pillow

 

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Regardless if you plan to breastfeed or not, this is such a great pillow for hanging out with your little.  It is great to prop them up a little (of course while being supervised). Or getting some support for nursing. And, of course, the cover is machine washable.

Minilabo Baby Monitor

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I love this product.  The price is right and it works well.  I don’t see the need in buying basically the same monitor from a different brand at twice the price!

Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Mat

 

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This is great! I see it as ‘baby’s first toy’.  They can lie on their backs and entertain themselves for a while and it is great for tummy time too.

Swaddle Me  Original Three Pack

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I have a secret.  I CANNOT use a swaddling blanket to save my life.  I just cannot make it snug enough! My kiddos can wriggle out of them in about three seconds.  These Velcro swaddles have really saved me!

Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Bottles

reg5If you plan on doing any type of bottle feeding I recommend these ones. They mimic nursing and are super easy to clean (not too many parts).  The cap also makes them leak proof….so it wont leak all over your diaper bag

My Little Snugapuppy Cradle and Swing

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I know that there are more sleek swing models out there….but honestly, this swing is the best! It plugs into the wall so you don’t have to spend a ton of money on batteries.  It has a large swinging motion side to side or even front to back and I love that it also has soothing music my babies loved!

Nose Frieda

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I didn’t buy this until my second child….and I was missing out.  You SUCK the snot out of their nose with a straw-like contraption……Yuck!! But it really works.  Don’t worry….I promise the snot won’t get into your mouth. There is a barrier.

Chicco Keyfit 30 Infant Car Seat

 

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I am three for three babies with this one! By far the most convenient infant seat I have seen on the market.  It is fairly light, easy to click in and out of the base and holds up to baby ‘stuff’ (meaning spit up and poop).  It can be easily wiped out.

UPPAbaby Cruz 2017 Stroller

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Yes, this is an expensive stroller. In my opinion it is worth it.  This stroller is extremely durable, has great storage options and add-ons.  It will last you through several children.  You can get the attachment for an infant car seat, and piggy back board (so an older child can get a ride). This brand does have a MORE expensive option, the Vista. The big difference is it comes with a bassinet.  I just don’t think it is necessary for the extra few hundred dollars.

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Six-Position Baby and Child Carrier by LILLEbaby

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I might not be huge into baby carrying, but I can see the value and convenience of a good baby carrier.  This one takes you from 7-45 lbs.  And you won’t kill your back.  I also like this one for the summer.  There is no separate infant carrier, so I don’t feel like baby gets too hot. When you need your hands free…..this comes in handy.

 

Skip Hop Portable Changing Mat

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I don’t usually use a traditional diaper bag.  I use a large tote bag.  But with that being said, there are a few essentials that I need to pack so I can change baby on the go.  This changing mat is compact and easy to get out almost anywhere.  It can slip into a purse for quick trips out!

Graco Pack ‘n Play Yard

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This is an extremely versatile product! It can be used as a bassinet, changing table or even a safe, secure place for baby to play.  We use our pack ‘n play when we travel for sleeping and even outdoors sometimes! Again, this is super easy to clean.

So, there you have my list of essentials! There are so many products out there for babies…..did I miss any of your favorites?

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How Mama Got Her Groove Back

I’ll admit it.  I’ve been in a funk.  After all of the excitement of the Christmas and New Years I got a case of the dull drums.  And, here in Michigan January was dark, rainy and unusually dreary.  All I wanted to do was watch TV in my yoga pants.

But my reality was vastly different then what I fantasized about.  I have two little boys and am pregnant with my third. So, as I do attribute my pure exhaustion from ‘momming’ hard everyday while growing a human being. I also realized that I wasn’t acting like myself. I am used to being the mom who loves to take the boys out on play dates and to museums.  We bake banana bread and play hide-and-go-seek in the basement! Not the mom who turns on a TV show and sneaks upstairs so I can lay down on my bed for a few minutes of peace.

And although I sometimes used the ‘thaw and serve’ cooking method instead of simple, healthy meals. I had been turning to that more then I liked recently.

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I’ve also noticed that I was not taking care of myself.  In more ways then one.  I wasn’t eating healthy whole foods, I didn’t see my friends as often as I used to and I noticed that I was not social as I had been in the past with my ‘mom’ circle.  I had become so ‘busy’ with being busy I realized I was just going through the motions through the day instead of looking forward and enjoying my days and time with my kids.

What was wrong with me?? I LOVE staying home with my kids! Usually…..So I decided it was time to stop my pity party and get my groove back.  Yes, usually women say this after they are done having kids and I realize I was 32 weeks pregnant when I had this epiphany, but there is no time like the present.

First, I started each day with a healthy, filling breakfast.  No more Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  Scrambled eggs, fruit smoothies and Kodiak cakes seemed to to the job for me.

Next, I decided to get my social life back. Even if it fell under the category of a mommy social life……I didn’t care.   I craved adult interaction during the week with my kids.  I NEEDED play dates so I can sip coffee and chat.  I NEEDED to meet-up for lunch once in a while when I could find an afternoon babysitter. And, I NEEDED to not be with my kids all of the time.

Slowly, but surly I am starting to feel like myself again.  No, the exhaustion has not gone away. And, I know my happy hours with my girlfriends will have to wait for a while.  But I feel like I am smiling from the inside again.

Finding balance is a very hard thing to do.  It doesn’t matter if you stay at home with your kids or work 60 hours a week. It is all hard. But were did we lose ourselves in the process?

In my mind self-care make for being a better mom, wife, co-worker, friend and person.  So, whatever that means to you, go for it.

I know it has made a world of difference to me.

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I’ve Lost a Friend… And it Sucks.

My friends are precious to me.  Throughout my twenties I had a lot of different kinds of friends.  Ones I see on Friday nights for drinks, work friends, friends from high school I see once or twice a year.  But, there were a lot of them.  I could always call the right one for the right event.

Fast forward ten years.  A happy marriage, two kids with one more on the way, a move across states, and living back in the city I grew up in after a eight years. Things are different.  I still keep in touch with many of my friends from me twenties (thanks to social media), but I have had to work hard to cultivate new and meaningful relationships with women that I can connect with.  Often, because my life is consumed by my children, most of my friends are my ‘mommy’ friends.

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The best of the best. This is what friendship for over 15 years looks like.

And I love them.  We can vent about our kids/husbands/lack of sleep/ need for wine, ect….and we all GET each other. In theory we support each other and give each other a little slack.  We all realize that plans sometimes get broken last minute due to sick kids, working husbands and pure unadulterated exhaustion.

But sometimes things go wrong.  Wires get crossed.  One little thing gets way out of hand. Feelings and egos get hurt.

This recently happened to me and it sucks.

I’ve lost a friend.  I know what you might be thinking….just apologize if you miss her! I’ve already apologized….and there is still bad feelings.  Even though I think things we both said things that need to be taken back….I just wanted to move on. But it didn’t seem to work.  Things are not the same and maybe will never be. I don’t want to get into details about what happened, but the root of it was stupid.  Really stupid.  In my mind I didn’t understand why the next day we both couldn’t say something like: ‘Hey! I never meant for that to hurt your feelings….lets just move on!’ But it didn’t happen that way.

I thought I was  pretty kind and passionate (and maybe a little over-sensitive and temperamental) person…..but I guess I still have some growing to do.

Over the years I’ve realized that some friends are only meant to be in your life for a certain stage of life……people move on, but usually not after a fight.  People grow apart and I get that. But this was shocking and abrupt.  I’m sad and hate that there is no closure.  Just nothing.

While I have a bruised ego and unanswered questions, I realize I can’t make someone be my friend who isn’t interested in it. Being right isn’t necessarily the best outcome if it is more important then the person.  If we both can’t have a sense of empathy for each other’s feeling….then maybe it wasn’t the friendship I thought it was.

So, while I will keep my heart open for the future, right now I’ll just concentrate on fostering the relationships in my life that want our friendships to grow.  Like I said, my friends are precious to me.  I don’t know how long any of them will last. So I’ll just treat each one like it will be lifelong.

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Date Night in Detroit

 

Matt and I often go out for dinner ‘dates’ around the Royal Oak area we live in, but to make a reservation downtown Detroit a week before and buy tickets for a show at a beautiful theater?? This was a special occasion.

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My handsome date.

First things up, we went to Republic, for dinner.  I have been meaning to go there for over a year, but every time the opportunity came up I was not able to get a reservation.  I must have lucked out! It was a foodie’s dream.  So flavorful and I wanted to order everything on the menu.  The restaurant was buzzing, but not overcrowded and although I was not able to partake in the cocktails……Matt seemed to enjoy his.

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Almost too pretty to eat……Almost.

After that we drove over to the Fox Theater to see: Straight No Chaser.  They are an AMAZING a cappella group that were doing a holiday show and we scored tickets! The Fox is also one of my favorite places in Detroit.  It is a historic theater built in 1928.  Walking in there is like taking a step back in time…..and decorated for the holidays? Makes my heart happy.  People were in such a festive mood, and the show was wonderful.

We had a wonderful date night in Detroit and once we spend time downtown, we always ask ourselves why don’t we come down here more often? It’s only twenty minutes without traffic. We will be back!

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I love Santa, but my child does not. 

I’ve always envisioned my children gathering around Santa Clause laughing and smiling with starry eyes. Wondering and hoping that they were good enough this year to get what was on their list.

I remember fondly from my childhood reading The Night Before Christmas and savoring every word. Can you imagine?!? Someone catching Santa in the act? Seeing him take off in his sled with all of his reindeer? Magical.

Not to Charlie.  At four-and-a-half years old he wants none of it. Although he does believe in Santa- he wants nothing to do with him. In the past month every time I’ve mentioned that we were going to see Santa soon he just shakes his head.

“That’s okay mama. We can just email him my list. I don’t need to see him.”  Hmmmm. And, of course I would just brush it off and say something like:”Of course you want to tell him what you want! You better be good!”

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My happy boy before we left to see Santa.

I needed (desperately wanted) that magic picture. Him and the baby perched in their perfectly coordinating outfits grinning from ear to ear. It’s taken me a month to secure these outfits. I’m not kidding. I was an obsessed woman. I had a vision and I was determined to get that perfect Facebook moment!

So the day comes. I bribed Charlie that there would be pancakes after if he dressed in THE outfit. We got to our venue and waited in line. Our turn came. After  A LOT of cajoling and bribery we kind of got a picture with him and Santa…..and me and my husband sitting on Santa’s lap. Not what I thought was going to happen, but at least I got it!

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After we got home and were taking some quiet time, I came the realization that I might not be getting anymore pictures of him and Santa.  And I was okay with that. Lets be honest…..all of their lives we drill into their heads to stay away from strangers. But, one moment every year, we use this man as a tool to control our kids behavior. Oh, sure….usually don’t go talk to strangers…..but that man in the velvet suit and long white beard? Go ahead! If my child still has an apprehension to SIT ON A STRANGER’S LAP…..I’m not going to push it anymore.

I LOVE the magic of the season, but going against Charlie’s (correct) instincts are something I’ll let go.  I think he also believes in the magic of Santa and Christmas, but from afar.  And, I’m okay with that.

DIY Poinsettia Centerpiece

I love Christmas.  If I could, I’d start celebrating in October.  But, Thanksgiving wont allow that.  So, usually the weekend before Thanksgiving we put up the tree and start the festivities.  How can you not be happy with all of the music, decorations and treats around?

This year I wanted to add some fresh florals to my decor.  But, didn’t want to spend a ton of money (story of my life).  I found some cute little poinsettias at Home Depot and remembered I had some pine branches on the back deck from when we put the tree up a few days ago.

I figured I could put something cute together! I found a small, rustic looking wooden crate from the craft store and was ready to go!


This was as simple as simple could get.  First, to get the poinsettias at the right height, I put some empty Tupperware in the bottom of the crate.  I cut smaller branch pieces about 6-8 inches long.

I arranged the branches in a fan like design around the poinsettias until it looked full enough.  Any branches that stuck out I simply snipped them.



And, voila! A fresh, festive centerpiece that will last through out the season…..made for under $20 and in 15 minutes!

Easy Peasy Sunday Pot Roast

I love to cook.  Before having kids I could spend a whole afternoon looking through cookbooks and creating a special, intricate dinner.  Now, often I am looking for shortcuts. Quick, easy and yummy things to get on the table for dinner.

But, sometimes on Sundays I like to take my time and make something special.

Just imagine, a pot roast simmering in the crock pot all afternoon as you curl up on the couch watching football and putting up the Christmas tree.  That was our day today.  These days make my heart happy. Everything seemed to align.  The baby, Henry, had a long nap and Charlie was so excited to decorate the tree.

This is a recipe I have come up with and tweaked it over the years.  My dad first showed me how he makes his pot roast, and from there I have adjusted it and it comes out tender and flavorful (if I do say so myself). Honestly I will tell you my not-so-secret ingredient.  Steak Sauce! It really makes it special.  And, it is really easy to do!

Easy Peasy Sunday Roast

1 Chuck Roast (Mine was 1.8 lb)

3-4 russet potatoes

2-3 carrots

1 yellow onion

beef broth

worcestershire sauce

steak sauce (such as A1)

red wine (I use cabernet)

salt

pepper

garlic powder

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Turn on your crock pot to high.

Start by seasoning the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder,  My rule of thumb, once you think you are done, add a little more.  Remember it’s a big piece of meat.  It needs more then a little sprinkle.

Heat up a large pan with a few tbsp of olive oil. Once hot sear the meat on each side for about four minutes until there is a nice crust formed.  I find this helps develop the flavor and gives it good texture to the finished product.

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Next, place in crock pot.  Cut up the onion into small wedges and place on and around it.  Add 1 cup of beef broth, 1/2 cup of wine and several large shakes of worcestershire and steak sauce. Don’t add the potatoes or carrots yet.  If you do it this early- they will turn to mush!

Now……go make some hot chocolate and watch a movie on the couch……or take a nap.  You will leave it on and not touch it for at least two hours (depending on how large the piece of meat is).

Once you start smelling those delicious smells two hours later, get up off the couch and peel your potatoes and cut those and the carrots into about 1.5 inch pieces.

Now you can finally open the pot! Add potatoes and carrots and give it a gentle stir….your meat should be starting to fall apart. Add another generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.

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Wait two more hours…….until the veggies and meat are fork tender.  At that point I usually add several more large shakes of steak sauce…..trust me on this.  It adds amazing flavor! Let simmer ten more minutes after the final shake of steak sauce.

 

Once ready, dole onto a plate and add some fresh crusty bread.  Dinner (and lunch the next day) is served!!

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Breezeway Refresh

After our we made the decision to build a house, we then came the realization that our current home needed a bit of work before we put it up for sale.  Those little things that you don’t like just become invisible after staring at it every single day our lives.  The obvious start: Our boring breezeway.

Many, many moons ago a previous owner decided to enclose the entrance from our kitchen to the garage.  In theory it was a great choice.  Extra storage is always a plus.  But, my vision of a cute little nook for us to keep our jackets, shoes and umbrellas quickly turned into a dumping ground.  Kings sized package of toilet paper from Costco that does not have a home? Throw it in the breezeway! Two months worth of empty cans waiting to be recycled? There is PLEANTY of room in the breezeway!

So this was it.  I was going to make it cute right before we sell our home (that’s what always happens, right)?

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Yawn. This is our breezeway that we have looked at every day since we moved it.

Matt and I decided we didn’t want to spend a ton of money, but it needed some work.  So, first thing first.  The floors.  At first, we were going to have pergo hardwood floors installed.  But, our handyman confirmed that the floors were very uneven concrete.  So, we would have to use something that had a little ‘give’ to it.  He suggested laminate! (My first thought was EWWWWW.  I pictured ugly eighties bathroom floors).  But, laminate has come a long way!  Together we picked out a pretty light colored self-adhesive tile.

Then, I wanted cubbies to put our stuff in, but was not going to dole out the cash for custom lockers.  I found the perfect substitution on wayfair.

Then came the ‘cute’ part.  Indoor/outdoor carpet? Check.  Pillows and accessories? Check.  I also painted a old canvas painting with blackboard chalk and the frame a bright yellow for quick messages.

It came out bright and cheery like I had wanted!

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