One last hurrah at the beach

Since I last posted, my family and I have taken two mini-vacations to the beach. My husband has declared that he is officially “beached out.” (For me, there is no such thing. What a weirdo.) Our trips were filled with family, friends, long beach days, swims in the ocean, outdoor dining, and some serious lack of sleep. While that last part I could do without, the trips were really quite wonderful. Our most recent trip was to a place called Stone Harbor, which is about 30 minutes (and a world) away from Atlantic City. It was my first time being there, and I can say that I’m a huge fan. It is such a charming and chic town. We obvoiusly went for the beach, but I really fell in love with the downtown. The flower and tree-lined streets are filled with great boutiques, cafes, bakeries and bookstores, and the people are as friendly as can be. Truly, a quite picturesque and lovely place. Here’s a look at our time there:

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It’s a good thing that that I didn’t have my wallet when I stumbled upon a few of these places. Zoe and I spent some time browsing around a boutique called Skirt (how cute is that?), and it really was a practice in self-restraint. That was followed by finding some delicious mararons (thankfully by then I was reunited with my wallet) and treats for all (my son is covered in his.) I hope to visit this charming town again soon.

Until then, I plan on enjoying the rest of our summer at home. We’ll spend lots of time at the pool and our backyard, go the movies and the park and enjoy NOT packing our suitcases again.  I love going away, but I love coming home just as much. But man, the laundry sucks.

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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!!

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.)

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!

beginnings and endings

It is officially summer. I so love this time of year; the possibilities of the season seem endless. We are spending lots of time at the pool, taking long walks and bike rides nightly, and our beach vacation is right around the corner. I plan on taking lots of day trips to the beach, having cocktails on our porch with my love by candlelight, and snuggling up with my babies to watch fireworks. It’s the beginning of a magical time. However, this weekend also marked an ending for us. Our babysitter just moved to Florida. She had been with us since my son was only 3 months old-and he’s nearly 3 now.  It was an emotional goodbye, as she and my kids have really formed a very special bond. I know they don’t really understand the finality of it just yet, but I feel sad for them nonetheless. They adore her, and she adores them. You can find a babysitter anywhere; they’re a dime a dozen. But to find someone who loves your kids-truly loves your kids-well, that’s something special. She made the kids a very sentimental farewell gift-a homemade story book. One of the things she always did with them was to tell them fairy tales-some that were familiar,  and some that she made up. She wrote out all their favorite stories and drew pictures for all of them. (She also always draws with them.)  In the book, she also included a message for both the kids that was so sweet, it brought me to tears. It was one of the most sweet and thoughtful gifts I have ever seen and better than any store-bought gift she ever could have bought. Just precious. So that is where I find our family right now-at the end of something special, and at the beginning of a wonderful time.

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Some moments from their last day together.

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Some pages from the book she made.

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On our nightly walk/bike ride.

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And the end of a beautiful summer day. I’m looking forward to many, many more summer beginnings.

Father’s day at the shore

The Jersey shore holds a very special place in my heart. My fondest childhood memories involve spending summers there with my family. I have vivid memories of my grandfather teaching me how to jump over waves. Of my brother and I being so excited to go to the waterslide park (in Long Beach Island) that we could barely stand it. Of warm cinnamon donuts from our favorite bakery for breakfast. Of spending a full day at the beach, going back to the house for a barbecue, and then going back to the beach to fly kites. Of nightly walks to go get ice cream. Of walks on the boardwalk. To me, the Jersey Shore is not all about booze and fist-pumping. To me, the Jersey Shore is all about family. So when it came time to plan out what we should do for Father’s Day, spending some time down the shore (that’s Jersey speak for the beach) just seemed right. It’s still early in the season, so the water isn’t exactly warm enough for swimming (at least not for my little ones), but it’s perfect for a day on the Boardwalk. The day called for going on rides, getting ice cream/funnel cakes/any other crappy yet delicious food, followed by a dinner on the bay at sunset.

So after making dad and the kids breakfast and giving dad his gifts and cards, we packed up and headed south. Lucky for us, we are only about an hour from the beach. My parents came along with us too, which made the kids so giddy I thought they would pop. We got off to a rocky start with both kids crying and having to be taken off a ride right before it started, but after much-needed ice cream cones, they both perked up and we had a great day. Here’s how it went:

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We truly had a wonderful day-one that was really special. The true sign of a great day? No one wanted to go home.

I have to say, I am a very, very blessed woman. I was blessed with a wonderful father. One who I thought of as a Superman of sorts. Growing up, there was nothing he didn’t know. Nothing he couldn’t fix or figure out. Nothing he couldn’t do. He had everything but a red cape. And now, I am blessed enough to have married a man who is a wonderful father to our children. I have no doubt that they will look at their dad the way that I looked at mine. Like a superhero. Because after all, isn’t that what fathers really are?