A day fit for a princess

Yesterday, my baby girl turned four. She’s growing up so fast right before my eyes, and it’s both amazing and bittersweet to see. I long for the days when I could cradle her in my arms for hours, yet I marvel at the things she’s learning to do and at her growing independence. We were at the park the other day, and she mastered a piece of playground equipment that in the past, she always needed help with. She turned to me and said “I don’t need you anymore, mommy!!” I told her how wonderful that was, and then turned away and cried a little bit. Watching your children grow up is so amazing, yet at every step you long for them to stop growing.  It’s quite a mixed bag.

This was the first year that my daughter was pretty specific about the kind of birthday she wanted. In the past, I could decorate with whatever I thought was cute and buy her some sweet gifts, and no matter what they were, she would be happy as can be. However, this year, she was clear. She wanted princesses for her birthday. And a tea party. And princess balloons, and princess streamers, and princess cups and plates, and well, you get the idea. It’s really funny just how  much a girly-girl she’s become, and it’s not like these are things I really introduced or pushed onto her. Since my children were newborns, I went about dressing them/decorating their room/buying toys in a rather unisex way. I didn’t go crazy on pink or blue with anything, and bought things that could be enjoyed by either a girl or a boy. Yet despite all of those things, my little girl is crazy about all things girly-princesses, dolls, anything pink/purple/sparkly, ballet, and dresses. And my little boy is all about cars, trucks, dinosaurs, superheroes, and anything that has a motor. It just happened naturally.  So yesterday, along with my parents, we had a lovely tea party at a place called Alice’s Tea Cup in NYC’s upper east side. It is a charming little place with a sort of Alice in Wonderland theme. (my favorite Disney movie) It was absolutely adorable and everyone loved it. It was my first time sampling different types of tea; I’m more of a coffee gal, but this was delicious. There were also yummy little sandwiches and scones, and a little birthday cupcake for Zoe. Tea was followed by dinner, cake and presents at our house with family. It truly was a day fit for a princess.

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The day truly was a success as Zoe told me it was her “most amazing birthday ever!!” I can’t wait to see what this coming year will bring for my amazing little princess.

Check out Alice’s Tea Cup here: http://alicesteacup.com/

flowers and popsicles

I’m struggling this week. Getting back to normal after vacation is difficult. I can’t seem to catch up on cleaning. I haven’t really cooked much this week and I just finally got back to the gym today. It’s not like I flew to Europe and have major jet lag. I’m just being lazy and want to be sitting on the beach, and not doing that every day just plain sucks. Sigh.

I did do a couple cool things this week. Sort of. Well, I did a couple things. I finally made one of the 3,000 recipes I have pinned on my Pinterest account. (I always pin these awesome looking recipes thinking “I’ll totally make that”, only to never, ever do it.) But I didn’t set my goal too high-I made popsicles. They’re something I thought my kids would love, so we went out and bought the popsicle molds and all the fixins. They were so excited and the chant of “posicles!!! popsicles!!” went on all day. However, I had forgotten that a blade from my blender had broken, and I don’t own a food processor (gasp!), and the popsicles called for pureed fruit. So….first I tried doing it with a hand mixer. Ever do that? Well, don’t. Fruit basically flew everywhere, all over me, and both kids. The option I had left was to hand mash all the fruit. That’s 2 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of strawberries. Not fun. Not fun at all. But whatever, they came out cute and here’s the results:

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That happy face is because I told the kids they could have popsicles for breakfast. They weren’t ready until this morning, and there’s only strawberries, blueberries, yogurt and honey in them, so totally appropriate, I thought. And fun. But after only 3 licks, Brody decided he didn’t like them. Zoe took about 7. Fail. Well, I liked them. You can find the recipe here: http://www.thenourishista.com/2012/06/red-white-and-blueberry-popsicles-for.html.

One of the first things I did this week was to make a beautiful flower arrangement. When I’m kinda feeling like I’m in a funk, I like to buy flowers. They just make me happy. So I bought some mums, hydrangeas, and lilies, all in white. I usually cut the stems down pretty short and make several short arrangements, but this time I wanted to make one tall one. DSC_0289

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I love that my daughter has taken such a liking to flowers. She always asks to have some put in her room, which I think is so sweet. She can also identify many different types. (Much like my son can do with cars. So funny.) I really wish I knew what I was doing when it comes to arranging flowers. I’ve read a few little things, but would love to get really good at it. I’ve been considering taking a class at some point with all the free time I have. (Please note sarcasm.) I just found this one and love the idea of doing it from home: http://nicolesclasses.com/portfolio/floral-arranging-101/

Other than that, the kids and I went to the movies, went swimming, and did lots of little things. This weekend is my daughter’s 4th birthday, and it’s the first year when she’s had a real wish list. And it all involves princesses. So I’m up to my eyeballs in princesses. I’m really looking forward to it and cannot wait to see how much she likes everything we have planed.

Until Monday!!

Please give me strength…

This time of year is really tough for me. There are end of season sales going on everywhere I look, and I lack the strength to resist. Every day my inbox is overflowing with sale notices. I even lack the strength to unsubscribe from those. What am I to do? Every year my husband gives me that look when the credit card statement comes in- and I truly am sorry. But I can’t seem to stop myself. I try, I really do. And there are certain sales that I just cannot resist. They’re just too good. I picked up a couple tops from JCrew and Madewell (two of my favs) that were so cheap, they were practically giving them away. I would have been a fool not to buy them. (When you get emails from JCrew and Madewell that say 40% off final sale items, you take a look. I’m no fool.) And now, two other places are having sales that are off. the. hook. Hello, Zara and Shopbop. (I can hear every man that follows this blog rolling their eyes and leaving this page now-except for my husband, who wants to know what I spent.) Nearly everything at Zara is on serious sale, both online and in-store, and I have browsed both. It’s insane how good it is. And Shopbop is offering an additional 25% off their sale items until tomorrow. I’ve already taken advantage of both. I picked up a pair of sneakers from Zara that I’ve been drooling over for months for $29.99 (normally $130). They’re pony hair leopard sneakers with spikes. Because what girl doesn’t need those in her closet? And I picked up a cute cover up/dress from Shopbop for $20. (was normally $75 and has since sold out.) But that hasn’t stopped me from continuously stopping by both places. I was in Zara tonight, and just actually left the Shopbop site. And with that, I just thought I’d share with you some of my favorite things that are out there right now.

Here are my Zara picks:

printed trouser with side stripe 29.99

I love me a funky trouser. This is the printed trouser with side stripe. $29.99

boho linen skirt 19.99

I really wish this fugly sweater wasn’t covering up this skirt, because it really is gorg. And would have come home with me tonight if they had sizes bigger than a 2. It’s the linen boho skirt and it’s $19.99.

leather effect horts 19.99

Leather effect shorts. $19.99. Bam.

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These are my new loves and I got ’em for $29.99. Buy them so we can be twinsies.

And now over to Shopbop:

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Free People Lacy Day Tank | SHOPBOP

Isn’t this the sweetest little summer tank? It would look so cute over a bandeau or bikini top. Love. $54.60 (And remember, if you buy today or tomorrow, take an additional 25% off.)

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Tory Burch Multi Straw Tote | SHOPBOP

I do believe Tory Burch has perfected the beach tote. This one is $185.30.

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Young Fabulous & Broke June Drizzle Stripe Maxi Dress | SHOPBOP

I really love Young Fabulous & Broke-their pieces are so cool and casual.  This maxi dress is just perfect. $117.00

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Young Fabulous & Broke Montauk Maxi Dress | SHOPBOP

Another YF&B maxi. This one also comes in black. $165.60

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Rachel Pally Preetma Maxi Dress | SHOPBOP

Rachel Pally is a go-to for beautiful, easy and timeless pieces. Her dresses flow so beautifully. One of my favorite dresses that I own is by her and I reach for it time and time again. You’re bound to love anything RP you buy, and with this sale, now is a good time to do so. This beautiful one is $93.60.

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ONE by Marna Ro Shirred Waist Dress with Leather Bodice | SHOPBOP

I have to tell you, I really, really want this dress. I am so in love with the leather bodice. (and anything leather, really) This dress would get serious, serious rotation in my closet. $171.50

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Diane von Furstenberg Lips iPhone 5 Case | SHOPBOP

How cute is this case? I’m a HUGE DVF fan, and a huge fan of her lips print that was everywhere the past couple seasons. It will look really great on your phone, too. $24.00

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Dolce Vita Valentina Lace Dress | SHOPBOP

I think I love lace just as much as I love leather. This little white number is so, so sweet. And we all need a LWD in our closet. $137.50

Seriously, I could go on and on here. There are so many beautiful things to choose from. I just can’t stop looking. I think  may need some help.

Buy above items here: http://www.shopbop.com/  Additional 25% off until 11:59 tomorrow with promo code SALE25. And here: http://www.zara.com/us

Happy shopping!

Back to reality

So, we’re back from our vacation. Every year, I’m excited yet hesitant about our trips. Historically, they’ve been a bit rough. There have been a lot of sleepless nights, tantrums, unfortunate swim diaper incidents and much, much more. But this year, we didn’t pack one bottle or diaper. Both of my kids have dropped their naps (which means no trips back to the house, but a mixed blessing), and both kids are out of cribs. So I was pretty excited. But still hesitant. However, this week turned out to be really, really nice. Every year, my family and I go to Long Beach Island, which is part of the Jersey Shore. I have been going there all my life, as has my mother. It makes me so happy to now bring my own children there. Despite the wonderful time had by all, it was hard not to notice how Hurricane Sandy affected the island. We saw many closed businesses, and the island almost seemed deserted compared to how it normally is. On the flip side, it was nice to see how LBI rebuilt and came back. As the saying around here goes, “We are stronger than the storm.” Seeing this rebuilt community made me proud to be a Jersey Girl.

We had a week full of beach time, ice cream, great food, rides for the kids, bike rides for all, and runs and long walks on the beach. Coming home sucked. Just really, really sucked. I always get a little down after coming home from vacation. And because of crappy planning, my husband and I had a triathlon planned for the following day. Although the race went great, we are nearly comatose right now and I’m really not even sure how I’m able to type at the moment.

I just wanted to share one of my favorite nights from our trip. We went onto the beach around sunset, which is actually my favorite time of day to be there. The sand is nice and cool and feels so good on your toes, the beach is deserted, and the light and colors are spectacular. There was a nice breeze going, so we took the kids down to fly kites. Try as we may, the kites didn’t stay up for too long, but the kids were thrilled. So naturally, so were we.

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Batman and Barbie may not have had a lot of flight time, but it was  pretty fun while it lasted. But now, it’s back to reality. Sigh.

Ten things I’ve learned.

This summer, both of my kids have birthdays. My daughter will turn 4 at the end of this month, and my son will turn 3 at the end of August. In these last 4 years, I have learned so many things. Things about motherhood, myself, my husband, and everything in between. Lessons that I would never have learned if it were not for having my two little ones in my life. Here’s just a few of the nuggets I’ve picked up along the way:

1. On almost no sleep, I can take care of 2 children, clean the house (many, many times), take care of a dog, go food shopping (to more than one supermarket), do the laundry, make breakfast, lunch and dinner for everyone, read many books, run around at the playground, give baths, and re-clean whole house. I take back every complaint about being tired pre-kids. I knew nothing. In fact, if I could ever go back in time and hear myself say “I’m so tired!” at any point before children, I would slap the crap out of myself.

2. The toilet is the best seat in the house. And it is sometimes (sometimes) the only place I can get 5 minutes of privacy. It is ideal for sorting through mail, reading magazines, checking email and even having a snack. Sure, my feet may go a little numb, but that’s a small price to pay. I’ll lie about pooping to get as much time in the bathroom as possible. And now that my kids are old enough to stay alive on their own for a few minutes, I use that lie a lot. My kids think I poop several times a day. My response to “Mommy!!!!!!!! Brody hit me!!!” is “Mommy’s pooping!!!”

3. I could probably get by with doing my own laundry once a month. Ok, so not things like underwear, but the rest, yup. I am so on top of my kids laundry it’s ridiculous, but when it comes to my own, I slack off. The jeans I’m wearing today? They probably haven’t been washed in weeks. Do I care? Have they been puked, peed or pooped on? If not, then no. (In all honesty, if the answer is yes, I’ve probably used a baby wipe on them and kept wearing them.)

4. My marriage can withstand a lot. For a very long time, we had screaming infants at all hours of the day. It took a toll on us, but we came out of it stronger. Closer. I strongly think that how you handle situations helps to define you. Well, I think we did ok there. We are a better couple now. We got this shit covered.

5. I learned how to organize. This is actually a big one for me-I suck at organizing. I used to live with messy piles everywhere. Kids have forced me to become organized; life with kids can be tricky enough-messy piles make it worse. Now, everything in our house has its place. The only glitch? My husband never wants to get rid of anything; he’s a bit of a hoarder. We once had a 30 minute discussion about why he should or shouldn’t get rid of his Polo teddy bear. (Remember Gund teddy bears? It was one of those with a Polo sweater.) The end result? Peace out, bear. But it’s an ongoing battle. Good thing I have lots of baskets. But that damn bear will not be in one of them.

6. I learned I love being a mom. Like really, really love. It is my most favorite job ever. Sure, I might complain that my kids have been screaming all day or that one of them mashed a banana in my hair, but the instant I’m away from them (ok, sometimes it takes a bit longer than an instant), I miss them. I can’t imagine my life without them. They bring me pure joy. Bring a mother is amazing, and I’m one lucky girl.

7. Thanks to my son, I think I have earned an honorary degree in paleontology. I have read more dinosaur books than I ever thought even existed, and know so many different ones it makes my head spin. Every day, between all the books, watching Dino Dan (who is cute but kinda needs a slap in the face) and Dinosaur Train, I have gathered tons of dino information. All those years, I really didn’t know exactly what Ross from Friends did. I do now.

8. I truly, truly know what unconditional love is, and it’s incredible. There is just nothing in this world that could make me not love my children. Love like that is really something else. It’s actually like nothing else.

9. I can make a boo boo better with a kiss. I can make monsters go away by singing a silly song. I can make my kids’ bad day a good one by taking them out for ice cream. I know that my son likes his waffles with syrup on the side and always wants his bread toasted when I’m making him a sandwich. I know just the type of dresses to buy my daughter that will make her happy and where we keep our stash of “secret chocolate”. (Not to be shared with her brother or daddy.) I know how to line-up my son’s stuffed animals/toys on his bed just the way he likes it, and I know to put a box of tissues on my daughter’s bed at night because she’s always blowing her nose. Those things, and a thousand more just like them.

10. I’ve learned that what I like writing about the most is my family. It’s funny, I went back through all my blog posts today, and I was upset that I named my very first post “This is not a mommy blog.” Why was I so intent on saying that? It seems silly now, thinking about it. So silly, in fact, that I went back and changed it to “This is not just a mommy blog.” Because I am, first and foremost, a mommy, and it is my most treasured job. So I am going to write about that, and about all the other things I love.

So, thanks so much for reading my mommy blog.

Oh, and the family and I are on vacation starting this Saturday for a week, so I won’t be writing. I’ll be too busy doing all the same stuff I normally do, just somewhere prettier. Aka, vacation with kids. (An oxymoron.)

summer beauty

I find that from June until September, I am often a hot mess. (No pun intended.) Despite my best efforts to pretty myself up, it’s all undone within 5 minutes of being outside in the hot summer months. Humidity turns my unruly hair into a frizzy helmet, and the heat has my makeup dripping down to my knees. Have you ever left the house one way, only to look like a homeless crackhead when you get to where you’re going? Welcome to my life. So products for me are super important in the summer. I need anti-humidity, anti-frizz, anti-melting everything. You want to look natural in the summer-like you just rolled out of bed with your beachy hair and tan. Like it was effortless. There’s nothing like thick, cakey makeup and crazy eyeliner a la Amy Winehouse to go with your pretty little sundress. (But for me-“beachy” hair is the last thing I want. Like ever. Have you seen me on the beach? I’m scary.) So I thought I’d share just a few of my go-to summer beauty products. I go for easy and minimal when it’s sweltering out. And here’s what I’m reaching for right now:

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Living Proof Satin Hair Serum: Styling Products | Sephora.

I have just starting using the Living Proof line after reading how well their anti-frizz products work. As someone who has tried every single product with the words “anti-frizz” on them, I was skeptical. But I gotta say, this stuff is awesome. It’s light, doesn’t weigh hair down, tames frizz and smoothes. And a very little goes a long way. I’m a fan of this stuff, for sure. Oh and even after a sweaty workout, my hair still looked pretty damn good.

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Revlon Moon Drops – Creme Lipstick, Orange Flip 710 | drugstore.com.

I really love when I find a really good drugstore product. There’s only a few I swear by, and this is one of them. I saw Revlon’s Orange Flip on someone and immediately went out to CVS to buy it. It’s the perfect summer shade and it looks good on everyone I’ve seen it on. Some days, I wear no other makeup but this, and I still look put together. I love it. And it’s under $10!

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Marc Jacobs Daisy Rollerball: Rollerballs | Sephora.

Oh, how I love Marc Jacobs. I’ve mentioned how it’s my signature scent. And this MJ Daisy rollerball is my signature travel scent. It’s so small and compact, you can just throw it in your purse or makeup bag. It’s light, fresh and feminine and perfect for summer. It’s my scent whenever I travel. Another great thing about it? It’s $20.

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Amazon.com: TanTowel Self-Tan Towelette Classic 10 PACK: Beauty.

Summer also marks the time when even more people think I’m my children’s nanny. They have this beautiful Asian skin that tans so beautifully (despite SPF 5,000), and I am the pasty chic who turns three shades of red, blisters and/or peels, and turns pasty again. Sigh. So I have to fake it. I have tried so many self-tanners and have been turned every shade of orange known to man (anyone who has known me for awhile can attest to this), so when I tried Tan Towels, I was thrilled. It gives a very light and subtle shade and really looks natural. It also doesn’t stink like so many self-tanners do. They’re like the moist towelettes you get after eating chicken wings. But waaaaaaay better. These are awesome; go buy them.

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Laura Mercier Mineral Powder SPF 15: Foundation | Sephora.

Laura Mercier is some kind of genius. I have yet to try one of her products that I don’t love. But my favorite one, by far, has become her mineral powder. In the summer, I omit the primer and foundation and just use moisturizer and this. It has a very subtle shimmer and just a hint of color, and at the same time provides a little bit of coverage. I find it doesn’t settle into fine lines and has a really nice effect. It also has SPF 15. Perfect.

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Clarisonic Mia™ Skin Cleansing System: Professional Spa Tools | Sephora.

This one is my top beauty product of all-time and for every season. It’s the Clarisonic cleansing system. It is the best investment  you can make for your skin. It cleans so deep and thoroughly, yet feels so gentle-like giving yourself a facial. When I get lazy and don’t use it for a few days, I can see and feel the difference. If you don’t properly cleanse, it doesn’t really matter what you put on your face. And this is the best way to cleanse your face. I have the Mia model, which is smaller than the original. I can’t say enough about this.

So those are some of summer  must-haves. I would love to hear what yours are!

favorite things

I hope everyone had a wonderful Fourth of July!! I find that the Fourth has a way of unifying people like not many other things do. It’s like everyone forgets their differences and remembers what they have in common: being an American. For one day, people remember all the wonderful things they share-all the freedoms, luxuries and opportunities. Even my douchey neighbors manage to smile and say hello. (Tomorrow it will be business as usual, I’m sure, and they’ll be back to complaining about everyone.) It’s a great day filled with family, friends and patriotism. I wish I could say that my kids enjoyed the fireworks, but they spent the entire time on my lap (not a pleasant thing when it’s 90 degrees and muggy as all get out) and crying about wanting to go home. Sigh. Maybe next year. I said that last year, too.

Besides having a wonderful Fourth of July, there were just a few little special things going on that I wanted to share. Just a few favorite things that have made me smile. And here they are:

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A new candle always makes me happy. And this is one of my favorites-Voluspa Crisp Champagne. It smells like luxury. That’s the best way I can explain it. I dare you not to want to drink champagne while burning this.

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Paper chevron straws. I love little details like this. These little straws make a glass of water seem just a little more special. And my kids love picking one out. So fun. I got mine at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/InTheClear.

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My monogrammed clutch. It came in the most beautifully wrapped box. So beautiful, in fact, that my daughter was convinced it had to be for her. Who else could get such a pretty box? I don’t have a middle name, so the monogram is a little smaller than I’d like, but I’m still so happy with it. And a white leather clutch goes with everything. I got it here: http://www.markandgraham.com

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On Friday night, I told the kids we could have a picnic/movie night in the living room. So we ordered a pizza, put down a blanket, watched The Incredibles and ate. It was so much fun and the kids loved it. We’ll be doing that again, for sure.

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Working out with Zoe. As I mentioned previously, our sitter moved away. We are still in the process of finding another one (had to fire one before she even started; long story), so I can’t get to the gym. So I’ve been working out at at home. It’s not always possible, but when it is, my daughter likes to join me. It’s hard to focus, because it’s so cute and funny. She has so much fun-until we get to the planks. She says, “this is too hard, mommy.” We’ll have to work on that. (Did you notice what Zoe is using for weights? Barbie dolls. Atta girl.)

That’s a wrap. Have a wonderful weekend!