favorite things

For my favorite things today, I looked no further than my own home. I’ve mentioned before that I think it’s so important to fill your home with things that make you happy, whether it’s a framed piece of your kids’ art or a ticket stub from your favorite concert or a delicious candle. Your home is your sanctuary. Here’s just a few of the little things (and one not so little) that have made me smile today:

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My daughter and I went to the mall the other day and we came across this little Eiffel Tower ring dish in Anthropologie. She immediately picked it up and announced loudly, “Eiffel Tower!!!! Eiffel Tower!!!” So the Eiffel Tower dish came home with us and is currently housing her little hair clips. It’s adorable and made her so happy. How could I not pick it up?

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This is my little cross-body bag from Madewell and my current favorite sunglasses. The bag was a Mother’s Day gift to myself; as unromantic as it is, my husband and I often buy ourselves what we really want for special occasions and pass it off as a “gift”. Kinda sucky, I guess, but at least we both get something we really want. A week before Mother’s Day I went out shopping and came home and told my husband, “You got me my Mother’s Day gift.” Most of my bags are ginormous, so having a little one is actually pretty nice. The sunnies are from Anthropologie.

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The same day I got Zoe her Eiffel Tower dish, I also picked up this sweet coral salt cellar. It’s perfect when you just need a pinch of salt, and it’s just so cute.

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Oh, how fresh flowers make me happy, I can’t even explain. There’s just something about them. Today, I was thrilled when my local Whole Foods had a ton of gorgeous peonies. Peonies are my absolute favorite-they look equally beautiful when they’re closed up and fully opened. I also picked up a bunch of white hydrangeas, which I also adore-they’re so big and full and you only need a few to make a full looking bouquet. My table is so pretty right now.

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This is my latest score from Bauble Bar. I love a good statement necklace, and this one more than makes a statement. It’s pretty in-your-face. I love wearing it with simple pieces like a solid dress or tee. It gives any outfit just a little bit of edge and I’m obsessed with it right now.

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And my most favorite thing of all today: solo time with each of my kiddos. I love being with both of my little ones, but it’s really nice spending one-on-one time with them too. When my daughter is at preschool, I get that time with my son. Those 2 1/2 hours are all about him and what he wants to do. It’s usually spent on the floor playing with cars, trucks, superheroes and dinosaurs. I cherish every second of it. I get my time with my daughter when Brody takes a nap, and that time is usually spent watching a Tinkerbell movie and doing arts and crafts. It’s so fascinating just how different these two are.

So that’s just a little bit of what’s made me smile today. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and do plenty of smiling of your own.

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the best laid plans

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Whenever I’m planning a trip for our family, I always imagine it a certain way. First of all, everyone is happy. All of us. All the time. Secondly, we all have such a great time, we’re practically skipping with joy. Hand holding, laughing…it’s  like a scene out of a Disney movie. And at the end of the trip, everyone is so reluctant to go home because of all the zippity-do-dah fun we’re having. Mind you, this is all going on in my head. So when I planned our mini getaway over Memorial Day weekend, the same scenario played out in my mind. I had originally wanted to go to the beach, but becuase of cooler temperatures, opted for something different. I booked us a hotel room at a place with an attached indoor water park-a place that online, looked like the ultimate kid fantasy. It looked so fun, in fact, that I got us tickets for 2 days in a row. ($$$$$$$) Because of all the fun we would have, one day simply would not be enough. I thought how fun it would be to stay in a hotel with the kids. I booked us one room for all of us. How cozy is that? (Don’t say anything.) So we packed up the car and took off for our family fun adventure.

The drive was completely smooth. We put a movie on the ipad and they were captivated and content right up until we pulled up into the hotel parking lot. However, after waiting in line at the front desk for about half an hour, we learned that no rooms were ready due to overbooking, so we ended up here for a bit:

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Dunkin Donuts. It was that or Carl’s Jr. Traveling with kids, I have learned that it’s best to go with the flow. Something I am still working on…. An hour or so later (and a carpet of munchkin crumbs left behind), we were able to check in our room. I remember the thrill of a hotel room as a kid-it’s so new and exciting, and I could see this in my kids’ reactions. They were giddy as soon as we walked into our room. It is so fascinating seeing things through the eyes of a child. Everything is such an adventure. I wish I still felt that way about hotels. I can’t get past the awful pillows and hearing unpleasant mystery noises from the room next to you.

We then all got our bathing suits on and headed down to the water park. (Imagine a choir singing ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!)

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And that is only a portion of that place. There were multiple levels. Multiple. Like a never-ending torture chamber.

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The kids were ecstatic. It was really, really cute. Immediately, Brody ran into the kiddie area, but ran too fast, tripped and fell, and his head went under and he took in a little water. (Ok, a lot) He lost his shit (rightfully so) and wanted no part of anything else. Zoe, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to see the whole park. So I took her walking around and we went by the area in the picture. But every 10 second or so, huge waves of water came down on everyone, and one of them hit us both square in the face. As much as I tried to convince her it was ‘fun’, she was screaming and wanted to get the hell out of there. Walking away, she tripped and scraped her knee, causing further distress. And this was all in the first 10 minutes. Sigh. Go with the flow, mama, go with the flow……

We eventually did have some fun on the lazy river (after I had to scold some hooligans that were shoving us-yes, I’m that mom), and Brody ended up really enjoying himself. But the noise level in that place was making my ears bleed and I think I have some permanent hearing loss. (And some emotional trauma caused by whistles.) Needless to say, we sold our tickets for the following day. The thought of having to do that all over again….well, let’s just say pouring a vat of acid into my eyeballs would have been more enjoyable. Instead, we decided to go to the big aquarium on Camden, NJ the next day. We were in the area and I had been wanting to take the kids there for a long time.

The next morning, everyone was quite tired (awful pillows, mystery noises and a constantly buzzing/vibrating alarm clock) and we started the day off like this:

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Go with the flow, go with the flow….

I love aquariums; I find them so fascinating. And I had hoped that my kids’ first trip to one would be truly memorable. And this place was the motherload of aquariums.

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(To answer that question, about 5 seconds, which is 5 seconds too long…..)

The aquarium really was pretty amazing. It would have been nice to really see it, not in a “ok move on before the kids get bored and lose it” kinda way. There were a few meltdowns, a code brown (read: diaper situation) and a couple falls, but all in all, not a total bust.

We had a snack:

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Took in the view:

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And packed up and went home. At the end of every trip like this, my husband and I often ask each other “why do we do this to ourselves?” The trip NEVER goes as I imagined it, but then again, what does? No, no one was so happy they were singing zippity-do-dah out their aholes. There were meltdowns. Many. No one really slept much. We spent way too much money. But we made some memories. Some I’d like to forget, yes, but some things I’d like to remember for the rest of my life. And that is why we keep doing these trips.

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I hope you all had a very happy, healthy (and memorable) Memorial Day weekend.

welcome, summer

So we have arrived at Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial beginning of the summer season. The weather here in New Jersey is looking pretty dismal, and although we won’t be able to hit the beach or pool, we still paln on going down the shore (that’s NJ speak for beach) to walk on the boardwalk, eat some really bad food (think pizza, ice cream and fried dough) and go on some rides. I’m really looking forward to it, and I just know my kids are going to have a blast.

With summer right around the corner, I put together a few beach essentials for both you and your kids. If you live in the northeast, you might not be able to put any of them to immediate use, but before you know it, your facebook news feed will be filled with people complaining about how hot it is. (the weather complainers bug me…)

First, for the ladies:

for you

Topshop high waisted bikini / Topshop underwire bikini / Topshop / Madewell sandals / J.Crew j crew tote bag / Pendant jewelry / Multi strand necklace / J.Crew palm leaf straw hat / Ava Tortie Shades / Fouta Beach Towel Midnight / drugstore.com

These a few of my favorite things for summer. I know I went on and on about one piece bathing suits, but then I came across this high-waisted bikini. It covers up my tummy funky bits and is really very flattering. It also comes in pink and red. The tan towels are a must for me in the warmer months, as my pasty ass burns after being in the sun for 15 minutes, so I bathe in SPF 5000. But I don’t like to look like Casper the ghost either, and Tan Towels give me the perfect glow. Also pictured are my latest sunnies from Anthropologie-I’m obsessed with them. And I looooove Turkish towels for the beach. They are incredibly cozy and chic at the same time. The cover up and necklaces allow you to go from the beach out to a restaurant, and the sandals, hat and bag are my summer staples.

And now, for the kiddos:

for them

Dripstik Ice Cream and Popsicle Holder Various Colors, Red / Old Navy Hibiscus Print Swim Trunks For Baby / Old Navy Reversible Canvas Sun Hats For Baby / Pink/Green Butterfly Beach Towel / Old Navy Sueded Cork Sandals For Baby / Gap Scalloped Trim Straw Hat / Lobster Beach Towel / Gap Piped Two Piece / Gap Embellished Flower Jelly Sandals / Jason Mineral Natural Sunblock SPF 30, 4 Ounce

Since becoming pregnant, I’ve really tried to switch over a lot of our health products to organic/natural/a little less full of chemicals and crap. An easy switch out was sunscreen. Most of them are loaded with a zillion chemicals. I like the Jason line quite a bit. Chemical-free sunscreens tend to be a bit thick, but worth it. And I must mention my favorite thing here-it’s those funny looking things in the middle. They’re called Dripstiks. I noticed a family at the beach last summer using these, and had to approach the mother and ask about them. They’re ice cream/popsicle holders. One side holds a popsicle stick and the other a cone-and all the drippage goes into the dripstik and not all over your little one’s hands. It’s just brilliant. Do yourself a favor and go pick some up. Like now. And of course a couple cute little bathing suits, sun hats, sandals  and PBK beach towels. My daughter insisted on getting a new “pikini” this summer, so of course I obliged.

So there you have it. I hope you all have a very happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy every last minute!!

A trip to Ikea and a rite of passage

First of all, I’d like to address one little thing: as I am still very new at this, it has come to my attention (thanks to the husband) that the emails that this blog sends out are chock full of typos/crap. I am constantly getting the ‘preview’ and ‘publish’ buttons mixed up, and have many times sent out a post that wasn’t ready. So I yell out “OH SHIT” and frantically correct everything that I can in warp speed, thinking that I can get it done before anyone reads it. Little did I know that it is that first, crappy draft that gets emailed out. Oops. Sorry to all that have had to read those crappy emails. I will do my best to not be such a spaz in the future.

Anyway

I have been talking about getting bunk beds for the kids for awhile. My kids share a room that is short on space, and having two cribs (one converted to a toddler bed) was taking up a lot of space. Their toys were spilling over-scratch that-taking over-our  living room. With all the extra space, I could take back part (a very small part, but still…) of my downstairs. So we went to Ikea to look for one. I wasn’t sure how the kids would take to it. Zoe would be on top, putting her up pretty high, and Brody would be giving up the comfort and familiarity of his crib. The trip to Ikea turned out to be not just about our search for a bunk bed, but also about a day of hanging out at a furniture store. But not just any furniture store-how many others have a full restaurant (with pretty good Swedish meatballs), a gigantic play area- complete with ball pit, and ice cream and sweets on your way out? That place is ginormous and pretty fun, actually. We spent at least 2 hours there. Here’s what we saw that I thought was was pretty cool:

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This is the Maskros light fixture. I have been eying it for a long time. It is so modern and cool. This is the smaller of the two and is only $49.99.

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Here’s the shot of the bigger one, which is only $89.99. In my opinion, the bigger one is waaaaaay cooler.

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Aren’t these cool? They look like little lockers. I love them for kids’ storage. Only $99.99.

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These chairs totally look like high-end chairs that I’ve seen sell for hundreds of dollars. These? $79.99 a pop.

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Yup. And bread. Oh…and this print is a whopping $12.00.

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Darling prints. I could see these in a playroom. So fun. These are also $12.00-for ALL THREE.

And now onto the kid stuff….

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Brody LOVED getting into all the “big boy beds”. He was especially drawn to this one because the bedding was his favorite color-“yayow”.

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The shoes came off.

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And Zoe got to see what being on the top bunk would be like. She loved it. It was short lived, however, as apparently it’s against the rules to climb up top. So she got down, we waited until the meanies left, and she got back up. So there.

After walking through the entire store, having a bite to eat, playing in the kids area, and having ice cream, we left that day with a brand new bunk bed. However…..anyone who has ever bought furniture from there knows that not only does it come with names like Fjell, Ektorp, Lugnvik and Sniglar (love the Swedes), they come in 8, 000 pieces. Two days (and a ton of mess) later, we had this:

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Brody’s transition from his crib was seamless, and Zoe mastered the ladder in about 5 minutes. It was great to see them so happy about their new bed. But for mommy, it was bittersweet. The same day the bed went up, I also took out the changing table mattress and a basket of cloth bibs. I rearranged the room, and although we all love it, it doesn’t look like a room that babies live in. It looks like a big kids’ room, and that is just something I am not yet ready to deal with. With “yayow” as a favorite color, I think I have a little time before I have to.

How my husband stole my turkey sandwich

I loved living alone. Really, really loved it. I had had roommates for a good part of my twenties, and when I finally got my very own place, I thought it would be boring. Or lonely. I mean, there’s no one to talk to. Or go out with. Or watch movies with. But when I finally got that first solo place, my eyes were opened. It was heavenly. An entire space to do whatever I want with? I took months and months decorating it-getting it just right, and I loved every minute of it. I could watch tv at 3am and not worry if the volume was too loud. (I worked the night shift as a nurse for years, so that is something I often did.) The tv was all mine and I didn’t have to share it or anything else. But I think what I loved the most was the quiet. The peaceful silence. After a long night of working, I came home to nothing. And it was glorious. I developed a few behaviors, if you will, that I enjoyed during my solo time. Sunday night became my most favorite night of all. Sex and the City was still on the air at the time, and I planned the whole day around it and I made sure to be home in time. I ordered a pizza from my favorite place up the street and had it arrive about 5 minutes before showtime so I could eat it and watch the show at the same time. I was so incredibly content. My other favorite thing to do (and this was always done on one of my  weekdays off) was to go food shopping and buy all the fixins for the most slammin turkey sandwich ever. That included a kaiser roll, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo. (If you are single and live alone, you know that most of that will probably go to waste eventually.) I also bought a pile of trashy gossip magazines. When I got home, I put away the groceries, made my sandwich and sat down at my kitchen table with the magazines. I would spend a couple of hours there. That sandwich just tasted perfect while reading about JLo’s marriage problems. I can’t explain why, but it just felt so good. If you were a fan of Sex and the City, you might recall that Carrie referred to this as “secret single behavior.” Does anyone remember this:

Carrie: I need time to decompress, just be alone.
There have to be some adjustments. Relationships are hard.
I miss walking into my apartment with no one there
and it’s all quiet.
I can do that stuff you do when you’re totally alone,
things you would never want your boyfriend to see you do. My SSB:
my secret, single behavior.
I like to make a stack of saltines and put grape jelly on them.
I eat them standing up in the kitchen while reading fashion magazines.
– Why standing up? – It’s weird, but it feels great.
Miranda: I like to put Vaseline on my hands
and put on conditioning gloves while watching infomercials.
Charlotte: Before I was married, I used to study my pores
in a mirror for an hour each night. I’m afraid Trey will think it’s weird.
Carrie: He would. You can’t do that stuff in front of men.

I so related to this. My “secret single behaviors”might not have been weird, but the reason they felt so good is because I was completely alone when I did them. There was no one around to ask me to change the channel, or complain about not liking the pizza (both things that happened when husband entered the picture), and no one to interrupt my turkey sandwich/gossip magazine fest. I don’t do these things anymore, for so many reasons. For one, my tv is only mine after the kids go to sleep, and then it’s for watching DVR’d shows that my husband and I both like. I have since moved away from my favorite pizza place, but my husband didn’t like it, so I wouldn’t be able to order much from there anyway. And the turkey sandwich/magazine fest? For some reason I stopped buying the magazines, probably because I don’t have much time to read them, and any food that I make for myself gets stolen by my two little munchkins unless I eat it standing up in a corner or on the toilet, neither of which are very enjoyable.

Obviously I know that so many things change when you get married and have a family. I’m sure that my husband had things he liked to do alone. (Although I’m not really sure I want to know what they were….) But every now and then, I miss my S.S.B.

5 years

May 10 was just an ordinary day. My husband went to work, I went through the craziness that is preschool mornings, and I went about my day. Grocery shopping, cleaning, going to the gym, taking the  kids here and there. And then I got a text from my mom that read : “Happy anniversary to you and Mike! Love, mom.” The first thing that ran through my head was: holy shit!!  We forgot our anniversary. I then quickly texted my hubby a happy anniversary text-(by that point we had both received the text from my mom and realized we had both forgotten). And I also said, “we totally suck.” Amazing right? And it’s our 5th wedding anniversary. It’s true that we are celebrating this weekend with a mini getaway so maybe in our minds that’s why we forgot. Or maybe we were just so busy with work, kids, etc that it just slipped our minds. Or maybe we just suck. Hard to believe we’d BOTH forget such an important day. I actually had made plans to go out to dinner with one of my girlfriends and had to cancel. I mean, what kind of wife goes out without her husband on her anniversary? My girlfriend for sure must have thought I was lying. I mean, who would really do that??

So in honor of our 5 years as a married couple, I thought I would dedicate this post to my husband. I’d like to share with you 5 things that I love about him for our 5th anniversary. Quite honestly, I could name so many things that I love about him. I am very lucky to have married such a wonderful man. But for brevity’s sake, and because it’s fitting, I’ll stick to 5.

1. Mike is very, very, very, (insert like 1000 more verys here) kind. I mean almost to a fault sometimes. As the saying goes, he would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. And he extends this kindness to everyone. Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, complete strangers…I really don’t how how you can’t like this guy. If you don’t, I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with you. He goes out of his way for people all the time. He extends a helping hand constantly. He’s one of the good ones, for sure.

2. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. Mike is calm. Sometimes eerily so. (And sometimes annoyingly so- but that’s a different post.) He is the yin to my yang. When my head is flying and smoke is about to come out of my ears, I see how calm he is and it has a calming effect on me. (most of the time) I see him in stressful situations all the time, and he handles them like a pro. Or like he’s on qualudes. Either way, it works. I wish I could be more like that.

3. He makes me feel completely safe. And I don’t mean this in a “I’m a helpless weak little girl and I need a strong man around” kinda way. I mean, he makes me feel secure. And settled. And calm. For the longest time, I had a sense of restlessness that is hard to explain-and he is the only one that has been able to put that at ease. I am at peace because of him. I’m safe. And I also know he’ll beat the crap out of anyone who messes with me or my kids, so there’s that, too…

4. That man has swagger. Seriously. His style is ridiculous. I have met my match where that’s concerned. I don’t know many men who could pull off things like neon orange pants, crazy spiked out hair and thick-framed nerdy glasses, but he does. I love that I can buy him something outrageous and he’ll be like “ok, I’ll try it.” He’s totally adventurous with his style, and that’s really fun. I actually think he should start a blog about it. I’d totally read it.

5. Holy. Amazing. Father. Mike was born to be a dad. Really. When he’s with his kids, you can tell how crazy he is about them by the look on his face. He adores them. He’s silly with them. He puts them on his back and crawls around like a horse, even though I know his back is killing him. When he gets home late from work and he doesn’t get to see them for the entire day, he’s heartbroken. He loves to bring them home treats like little cookies or cupcakes. He is always asking how they are throughout the day. He gives great piggyback rides. He’s teaching them to swim.  And his favorite place in the world is cuddling with both of them on the couch watching a movie. There, he is in heaven.

So there you have it. I hope this, in some small way, makes up for my forgetting our anniversary. Happy Anniversary, love, and many more. xoxoxo

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Cocktail hour

I don’t know if it’s The Don Draper effect, or the effect of my children, but I’m really into the idea of a cocktail hour. Mind you, I don’t get to have one very often, (ok, like almost never) but I’m in love with the idea. (There’s just something about 2 screaming toddlers that makes me want to drink heavily. ) And it’s not the drinks of our college/post-college days. Gone are shots with names like woo woo, sex on the beach, and purple hooter. We’re grown-ups now, so we must drink accordingly. Enter martinis, gimlets and champagne. Same idea, but with a touch of (sometimes not…) class. All these grown-up drinks need a place, and there is no place more chic for them than a bar cart. I so love having all the bottles and glasses out on display as if you are ready to entertain at any moment.(But keep your Apple Pucker in a closet.)  I currently don’t have anywhere to put one, but as I am forever planning our next home, I have been scoping them out for quite some time. Bar carts feel so chic. So grown up. Walking into a home where one is out on display, it immediately tells you that the people there like to have a little fun. Or that they have kids and desperately require mass quantities of booze. Either works for me. Here are some of the images that I’ve been collecting for awhile now:

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I’m really, really digging all of these. I really love the outdoor bar cart, too-with summer right around the corner, this could be put to immediate use. I think my favorite idea is having your cart stocked to make one signature cocktail-mine involves St. Germain. (Recipe to follow soon). Great for a party, or just to always have it ready when needed. Like immediately after bedtime. Or breakfast.

Cheers.

Images from my Pinterest.