Maternity/Family Photo Shoot

BeFunky Collage

With my due date fast approaching, I wanted to have maternity/family photos taken to capture the belly before it’s gone. I reached out to Ashley Halas, our go-to family photographer, to get a date in the books. (She’s also the one who took the photos for my Adult Cake Smash Photo shoot.)

We set a date for March 19, but there was snow in the forecast. A lot of it. Fortunately, we didn’t get as much as expected, so the show went on. The snow actually made the perfect background.

I love how they turned out! I especially love that we were able to recreate some of the photos we took when I was pregnant with Miles.

BeFunky CollageBeFunky Collage

I also took a silhouette photo that I absolutely LOVED when I was pregnant with Miles, so I decided to do it again. I found the directions here.

BeFunky Collage

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Today I was a good mom

Today I was a good mom.

I woke up at my usual 6:30 so I could get my hair and makeup routine out of the way. When the kids woke up, I greeted them each with a big hug, kiss, and cheerful “Good morning, sunshine!” I asked them how they slept and what they dreamed about. We chatted about what we were going to do today, and we sat down and ate breakfast together. Nothing fancy- just cereal- but they were thrilled to have me sitting with them instead of bouncing around the kitchen trying to pack lunches, unloading the dishwasher and wiping down the counters.

When I got home from work, I purposely left my phone in the kitchen and went to greet my babies. I asked them about their day and they told me every detail. I listened with my full attention and showed I really cared and was interested in what they had to say. Then we spent the next hour having uninterrupted play time. When I got in bed at night, I felt really good. I knew I gave my kids the best version of myself that I possibly could and that they felt loved.

Yesterday I was a bad mom.

I woke up grumpy from a restless night’s sleep. The kids woke up before I finished my makeup, and instead of greeting them with a big hug and kiss, I simply said, “You guys are up early. I have to finish my makeup, so come sit on the couch and I’ll put Mickey on.” There was no chatting about our plans for the day, no snuggling, and no real conversation. I gave them each a bowl of cereal and busily made our lunches and straightened up the kitchen.

When I got home later, my phone came with me. I was exhausted from a long day at work. (Of course, being 7 months pregnant makes even the easiest days seem tiring.) I said hello and asked them about their day, but only gave them half of my attention. I plopped down on the couch, looked through my emails, and scrolled through Facebook while the kids played on the floor in front of me. When I got in bed I felt like crap. I knew I had failed them as a mom, and I told myself I’d do better tomorrow.

And you know what? I did.

I think all of us moms are way too hard on ourselves. We’re constantly looking around at what other moms are doing, and it either gives us an ego boost or it makes us feel inadequate. Who cares if Suzy’s mom packs a lunch worthy of a Pottery Barn Kids catalogue. My specialty is rolling up pieces of turkey. Brenda’s mom perfected the French braid? That’s awesome. I mastered the sideways ponytail. Tim’s mom got store-bought valentines? That’s great. I made something crafty for Chloe to hand out. We all have different strengths and weaknesses.

You know what our kids see? Suzy and Chloe see that their mom packed all their favorite treats for lunch. Brenda and Chloe rocked their hairdos and were just happy to have it pulled back out of their faces. Tim and Chloe will be equally excited to pass out their valentines to all their friends, regardless of who’s is “fancier.”

My point is, none of these things make us any better or worse as parents. We need to stop worrying about what everyone else is doing, and start focusing more on being the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be- because at the end of the day, we’re mom. There’s no one in the whole universe who could possibly love our babies as much as we do. There’s no one who could make a better mother to our own children than we could. This is a fact. Don’t believe me? Go ask your child right now who their favorite person in the whole world is. I guarantee they’ll respond with an enthusiastic “Mommy!” Unless they’re older. Then they may be too cool to say that – haha.

For now, I’m just taking this parenting thing one day at a time and working on meeting my own personal goals. For me, that means trying to be more present. It’s so easy to run on autopilot when you’re going through the, sometimes monotonous, routines of everyday life. I don’t want my kids to have a zombie robot for a mom though, so lately I’ve been trying to stay unplugged until I get them in bed. This is something that makes me feel better about my parenting, so I’m making it more of a priority in my life.

Today I was a good mom. I hope I’ll be a good one tomorrow too. One thing’s for sure- I’ll never stop trying.

xo

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Snow!

There’s something completely magical about snow. I absolutely adore it.
Yesterday the first flakes of the year fell. It was a perfect winter Saturday…snow falling, candles burning, homemade chicken noodle soup in the crock pot, and very excited kiddies.

It wasn’t a blockbuster blizzard by any means, but it was the perfect amount to take the kids out sledding for the first time. Chloe was really into it, but Miles wasn’t a huge fan. Every time we went down the hill the snow would blow in his face. “It’s all part of the experience” haha.

A few years ago hubby and I were entertaining the idea of possibly moving down to North Carolina one day. Mostly because the cost of living is a lot cheaper than it is in Jersey. The more I think about it though, I don’t know that I’d ever be able to move somewhere where it rarely ever snowed. If anything, I want more!! Maybe Boston?

But anyway, now we’re back to our normal Sunday routine. I’ll be patiently waiting for the next snowfall…

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Gingerbread House Cookie Kit

This year we did “Secret Pal” at work. A couple of times a week during December I would sneak into my pal’s room to deliver goodies. (The sounds creepy, and that’s exactly how I felt every time I did it haha). On the last day we did a luncheon where we revealed who our secret pal was and gave a bigger gift. I wanted to include something that she would be able to do with her family, so I searched Pinterest for some inspiration. Lo and behold I found this awesome idea for a gingerbread house cookie kit!

Gingerbread House Cookie Kit

I’m no Betty Crocker, so I couldn’t get as fancy as the original poster did. I stuck to using a premade gingerbread cookie mix, and they turned out just fine. Dare I say- good.

Sidebar- whenever I’m cooking or baking my hubby always jokes that I have a tendency to forget very important pieces of the recipe. Ya know…steps like “put in the fridge overnight.” Oops. Guess we’ll eat this tomorrow and order a pizza LOL. But I digress…

The fun part was getting to fill the craft container with all the goodies (and sneaking a few here and there 🙂 ) I used a craft container from Micheal’s- just like the one I used for last year’s father’s day gift.

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If you click the original link where I found this, you’ll be able to print the cover and add it to the top of your gift.

She said her boys LOVED the kit and had a great time decorating! Yay!

xo

 

 

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It’s a….GIRL!!!

Anytime you’re pregnant you undoubtedly get asked “What are you hoping for? A girl or a boy?” I always just respond with “I really don’t care, I just want a healthy baby.” At the end of the day that’s the most important thing. But when you get asked the same question all the time, you start to think about it a little more.

There are a lot of reasons to want another boy- 1. Miles and the baby will be closer in age 2. Miles has a bigger bedroom which will be easier to share with baby 3. They can rough house together

But there’s also a lot of reasons to want another girl- 1. Chloe is the only girl out of all the cousins 2. Baby will be born in the spring, so I could re-use all her old clothing 3. Chloe really wants a sister

Well today was the big day! Ron couldn’t come to the ultrasound because he’s been really busy at work, so my mom met me there. She was convinced it was a boy.

BOY was she wrong! Ha!

We’re having another baby girl and we’re absolutely thrilled about it! I made an ornament for our gender announcement. The ornament, beads, and ribbon all came from AC Moore.

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Now we have to figure out a name. We have very different taste, so it’s going to be a while. Stay tuned!

xo

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North Pole Breakfast

north-pole-breakfast-2014

Today we had our annual “North Pole Breakfast” when our elf, Candycane, arrived. The kids were so excited he came back again. It’s so simple to do and really doesn’t take much time or planning.

Let’s take a look back at the past 3 years of this tradition shall we?

2014…where it all began 🙂

2015 (I was slacking on the decorations a bit)

Today

All I used were decorations from the dollar store. The best part is you can reuse them every year and the kids are none the wiser.  Then I ran over to Acme to grab what I needed for the actual breakfast.

Menu

Santa Hats- slice of banana, strawberry, topped with a mini marshmallow (held together with a toothpick)

Candy Canes- banana and strawberry slices

Snowballs- powdered donuts

North Poles- stacked powdered donuts held together with a candy cane

Christmas Tree- grapes, apples, strawberries, and pretzels

Stockings- jello cut with a cookie cutter and topped with mini marshmallows

Snowman- waffles and icing (or could use whipped cream) and clementines stacked together

Chloe’s allergic to eggs and dairy, so we keep the menu simple with mostly fruit options. Makes grocery shopping very easy 😉

Like I said this really doesn’t take a whole lot of planning, but the kids LOVE it!! Now that the breakfast is over and done with, I think Candycane may have some tricks up his sleeve this month!

xo

 

 

 

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25 Days of Christmas

Christmas is a big deal at our house. It’s our favorite time of the year, and we love making it special for the kids. Last year I bought an advent calendar from Pottery Barn Kids. I like to fill each day with a little candy cane and an activity we could do together. The great thing about this is you can always switch activities around to fit your schedule if something comes up. I like to save the more time-consuming activities for the weekends, especially now that I’m working.

Here’s this year’s list of holiday fun!

  1. Decorate the tree
  2. Make and decorate cookies
  3. See a Christmas show
  4. Candy cane hunt
  5. Wagon ride to see lights (We like to drive around and look at lights too, but this way gives the kids a better view. I had an extra set of lights I didn’t use for decorating last year, so I threw them on the wagon to make it a little more fun)25-days-of-christmas-9
  6. Picnic by the tree
  7. Make ornaments
  8. Donate canned food to church
  9. Christmas movie by the fire
  10. Make salt dough ornaments for grandparent gifts
  11. Polar express ride
  12. Write letter to Santa
  13. Buy or make gift for sibling
  14. Sing Christmas carols
  15. Indoor or outdoor snowball fight (I hope we can do an outdoor one this year-fingers crossed!!)
  16. Go to a tree lighting
  17. Visit Santa at the mall
  18. Go ice skating
  19. Family camp out by the tree
  20. Buy a gift for a toy drive
  21. Make paper snowflakes and decorate the windows25-days-of-christmas-1
  22. Wrap gifts
  23. Make reindeer food
  24. Sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn
  25. Jesus is born! Put Jesus in the manger and celebrate Christmas 🙂

Here’s the  printable version of the activities I use, if you’re interested. I included some blanks for different ideas you may have as well as some extra activities.

I also like to do the “25 Book of Christmas” idea I got from Pinterest. The first year I did it, I was scrambling around trying to find Christmas books at the library and Barnes and Noble. Now I have so many that it’s more like the “40 Books of Christmas” haha. I have a weakness for children’s books, what can I say. I wrap each book and stack them in order from smallest to biggest under the tree. Every night in December Chloe chooses a book (or 2, depending on how many we have left) to unwrap and we read it in our “cozy spot” next to the tree. This year Miles is big enough that he’ll probably want to get in on the action too :). Wrapping the books is a pain, I’ll admit, but once that part’s done it’s totally worth it to have that special time together every night. It’s quickly become one of my favorite traditions.

Once our elf arrives, I’ll post about the North Pole Breakfast.

Can’t even believe Thanksgiving is this week and I can officially be in full-blown Christmas mode. Woo hoo!!!

xo

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We’re Expecting!

Ron and I always knew we wanted children, but we could never agree on how many. The decision was made for us when we found ourselves unexpectedly expecting in June. What’s crazy is that Chloe knew I was pregnant before I did. One day she randomly said, “I think you’re going to have another baby in your belly.” Sure enough, I found out I was pregnant about a week later. I’ve always heard that children are intuitive when it comes to things like that, but I never believed it until now.

When we found out we were both shocked but so excited. I was happy that it worked out the way it did, and we would no longer have to have the whole “third baby” conversation anymore. Unfortunately, our joy was short-lived as I had a miscarriage at 6 weeks. This was the first time I ever experienced a miscarriage and we were both devastated by the loss.

I bought myself this necklace, so I would always have something to remember our angel baby, who would have been due on Valentine's Day, 2017
I bought myself this necklace, so I would always have something to remember our angel baby, who would have been due on Valentine’s Day, 2017

After we had time to grieve, we decided we wanted to try for another baby. We were finally both on the same page and it felt really good. It didn’t take long before we found out I was pregnant again. The first few weeks were very nerve-wracking; I overanalyzed every little symptom and convinced myself I was losing the baby on several occasions, but now I’m 16 weeks along and things have been great!

I’m one of those women who absolutely LOVE being pregnant. I love the baby bump, feeling little kicks, and knowing there’s another life inside me. There’s nothing else like it. We’re both in agreement that this is definitely our last baby though, so the pregnancy has been bittersweet. I was so excited when I felt the first flutters around 12 weeks, but then it made me sad to think that I would never feel the “first flutters” ever again. We can’t become like the Duggars though and just keep popping out babies. Eventually these kids have to go to college (insert panicked emoji here). All I can do is cherish every moment of my last pregnancy and realize how very blessed we are to have two healthy children and another one on the way. I thank God every day for the life he’s given me.

Sidebar- I realize it’s been about 3 months since I’ve written a post. Turns out being pregnant with two kids, a full-time job, and a husband taking classes for his Master’s doesn’t leave a whole lot of extra time for blogging. I’m going to try to do better though- promise!

xo

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DIY Bookcase Makeover

bookcase makeover 1

With school fast approaching, I felt motivated for the first time in a long time to re-organize and beautify my little classroom. I use the term “classroom” loosely here, because my room is a glorified closet. It literally used to be a janitor’s closet until they put in a window, took down some shelves, and called it a classroom. I’ll admit I used to wish I had a bigger room, but now I’ve grown to love my little space. This year I decided to decorate a little differently and make my room more cozy. I figure if my room is really cute and comfortable, then maybe I’ll want to be there. haha.

Chloe and I went into school to start setting things up and I saw someone was getting rid of a perfectly good bookcase. Sure the back was falling off and it could use a good cleaning, but hey, that’s the sort of thing I like to do. I put it in my car with visions of what it would look like once complete.

Here’s how I took my sad little shelf and made her beautiful again.

Step 1: Remove the back. This was easy for me because most of the old staples were falling out anyway. For the ones that weren’t, I just used a flathead screwdriver to wedge them out.

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Step 2: Sand the entire shelf so you have a smooth surface to work with.

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Step 3. Wipe it clean to remove the dust.

Step 4: Paint the shelf with regular paint or spray paint. I happened to have leftover paint from when we redid our laundry room, so I just used that. Two coats should do the trick.

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Step 5: Attach contact paper to the back piece you removed in step 1. I found this cute chevron paper on Amazon. Order here.  The pattern was printed horizontally, so I had to work from side to side, rather than top to bottom. Very slowly peel the backing off and use a plastic card or ruler to smooth it out and make sure there are no air bubbles. You’ll want to leave a couple of inches of excess over the edges so you can wrap it around the back.

bookcase makeover 5

Alternatively, you could also find scrapbook paper you really like and use mod podge to attach it. OR you could just paint it a different fun color. It’s up to your creative self!

Step 6: Cut the corners of the excess contact paper off to make folding it over the edges easier.

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Step 7: Use a hammer and small nails to reattach the back to the bookcase. Bonus- the nails will hold down the edges of the contact paper you folded over.

Here’s my completed shelf! Isn’t she pretty? Once my room is finished I’ll take you on a little tour. Emphasis on the word “little.” Stay tuned, friends!

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xo

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5 Valuable Lessons Learned From a Lemonade Stand

Lemonade Stand

Summer is just about halfway over (insert crying emoji here) and we have been busily checking off items from our Summer Bucket List. Last week we had a very successful lemonade stand. My friends and I used to do this every summer growing up and we were lucky if we had 5 customers. Chloe, on the other hand, had 15 people stop in the first 10 minutes! I was shocked by how many people came to support our little entrepreneur.

Once we closed up shop and I had a chance to reflect on the day, I realized there are a lot of life lessons a child can learn from running a lemonade stand:

  1. It Takes Money to Make Money. Chloe recently turned 4, so she used some of her birthday money to buy the lemonade mix and cookies. She was so excited about the fact that she was buying something with her own money and got to use the self-checkout machine at the food store. Sure I could have just bought the supplies myself, but what would that teach her? She learned that in order to make a profit, you have to spend a little money first.
  2. Patience. Every time a car drove down the street Chloe would say “Oh look! A Customer!!” Gotta love the confidence haha. Just like any business, there were times that were busier than others. She had to learn to be patient during those idle times.
  3. Social Skills. Running a lemonade stand forces your child to be polite, friendly, and outgoing. Asking the customer questions about their day and thanking them for coming is so important! These social exchanges also reinforce good manners.
  4. Hard Work. When you’re preparing your lemonade stand, your child should be involved every step of the way. Even if it would be faster/easier to just do it yourself- resist the urge! It’s more than likely they don’t realize all the work that goes into having a lemonade stand. You have to go buy supplies, make signs, find a good location, measure and mix the lemonade, etc. When your child is involved in all of the preparations, they will realize it’s hard work, but hard work brings great rewards.
  5. Giving Back. You could also use this experience as an opportunity to teach your child about the importance of giving back to their community. We encouraged Chloe to use some of her profits to buy canned goods we could donate to our church food drive.

Now it’s on to the next item on our bucket list!

xo

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