So...What Do You Do All Day?

Whenever someone asks me this question, I have to try really hard not to roll my eyes so hard that they get stuck up near by brain. Sometimes I say "nothing" just to see their reaction.

Kidding, I'm only that brave in my head.

However, this isn't actually a post about what I do all day as a stay at home mom. Disappointed? I know you thought that was going to be riveting. I am going to talk about things I do with Liv, though. Entertaining a toddler isn't always the easiest and with long Summer days on the horizon, I'm digging through my arsenal of toddler entertainment tips and laying 'em out the non expert I am. 

I like to get out of the house as much as possible with her, so that's what the majority of these are geared towards.

1. Bounce Houses

There's nothing like an indoor bounce house/inflatables venue to kill some time, wear out your kid, and provide some cheap entertainment. We have a bunch nearby, they're usually in the $6 range and she just goes bonkers in there. The best part? Come July when it's 110 degrees here, the AC is free.

2. Water Tables

What is it with kids and water? They love it - at least all the kids I know. I 'grammed a shot of our backyard setup recently and all you need is a water table (I got ours at Target for $30) and a chair for yo self. I fully anticipate that my mom friends and I will be found here the majority of the summer. That is if we aren't at the splash pad.

3. Splash Pads

They're rampant in Texas since Summer here is like living on the sun, but it's a great alternative to swimming. Some kids don't dig the pool like my fearless toddler (hello, swimming lessons this summer) and the splash pad is especially awesome for toddler moms. Getting to sit on the side and catch up with friends while your kid runs wild through 10 glorified sprinklers? Perfect. My friend with a new baby claims that splash pads were invented for moms with babies so they could sit on the side and nurse while the toddler runs it out. You can be the judge of that since I'm not currently in the process of nursing a babe (although I did accidentally buy a nursing bra and kept it because it was so comfy).

4. Bookstores

I never understood why my mom always wanted to take my younger sister to the bookstore, but now I get it. First thing: Starbucks. Second thing: lego tables, train sets, a tiny little stage for tiny little divas to twirl on. Books to read, snacks to be snacked, other kids to side eye. We killed 90 minutes there this morning like it ain't no thang.

5. Bowling

Think your toddler can't bowl? Think again. Many places have special lightweight balls and a little ramp for them to roll the ball down. That plus bumpers = a solid hour of nonstop fun for my kiddo. She just tosses that thing down the ramp, runs for another ball, and does it again rapid fire. This is my new rainy day favorite. It's usually dead during the day and the kids have the place to themselves.

6. Music Classes/ Gym Classes

When O was 1 we did the Little Gym and really loved it. It was like a mix of music and gym class and it was something to break up the middle of our week. My friends with younger babies really love music class as a way to get out of the house, meet other moms, and keep the kiddos more entertained than they might be at home. Basically, we all need to mix it up.

6. Whatever the activity, shoot for the morning

Whatever activity we happen to choose for the day, I usually try to schedule it for the first half of the day. I figure she can run out all her energy and that bodes better for nap time. Good naps = better afternoons. You get where I'm going with this. If we get an errand like groceries and 1 toddler activity in before nap time, we can usually whittle the rest of the afternoon away with nap, bikes, bubbles, some Little Mermaid, dress up, and just straight up pandemonium running around the house.

I know that absolutely none of this is particularly ground breaking but sometimes I like to see what other people are doing with their kids since we definitely get stuck in our own rut/routine and forget/are too lazy to try new things.

And with that, friends, I'm out. I took 2 Benadryl an hour or so ago to help battle these relentlessly vicious allergies so I'll be unconscious soon.

Around Here

So, what's been happening over here in suburbia?

Just the usual, plus a serious case of toddler with 'tude. The past couple of weeks with O have been pretty interesting, since she's challenging us constantly and has perfected this really fantastic public screech, but we're about to turn the corner. I'm sure of it. Ish.

Since she's comfortably tucked in bed with her Frozen backpack, two lambs, one unicorn, one elephant, and three blankets (while wearing her full Elsa costume) it's time for me to scroll through the old camera roll, throw some super high res iPhone pics on here, and fill you in on what's been happening.

Let's start with the search for white denim. My favorite, favorite pair (from the Gap factory store) left me pretty thoroughly traumatized last week when I squatted down to retrieve a jettisoned bath toy and they split from the zipper clear to the back of my butt. It's safe to say that's the harshest thing that's happened to my self esteem in quite some time. Since a trip to the outlets requires more stamina than I currently have, I've been searching TJ Maxx and Old Navy for a substitute pair.

reversible tote (Target, $30) | sweater (H&M $20)

Pants searching requires lots of Diet Dr. Pepper and the reluctant acceptance that I'll probably have to size up in order to avoid treading into that awful territory where white pants + a slim fit leg = sheer enough to see cellulite through. Anyone else know what the heck I'm talking about?

I've already mentioned Liv's testy little temperament, but in other news, the girl is obsessed with her accessories. I bought a grown up version of this Laura Cox necklace a couple weeks ago and ended up getting one for Liv as well once she stole mine and wouldn't give it back.

Dress (Gap, $35) | Bag (Target, $22)

 If I said I wasn't having a total blast with this girly stage I'd be a big fat liar with ripped white jeans. I totally love it and am painfully aware that it probably won't last, so I'm taking advantage now.

Speaking of girly girl, check out those pins.

sneakers (J Crew $80)

I've had sneakers on more in the past few weeks than in my entire life. The weather is Houston is at that sweet (albeit, slightly rainy) spot where it's warm but not hot yet, so we're outside pretty much constantly, running laps around the cul de sac, blowing bubbles, chasing the neighbor's dog, and even hitting the bowling alley on rainy days (the little toddler ramps for bowling are the coolest thing ever and the kid loves it).

The Easter bunny (aka her Gigi and Papa) bought her this Radio Flyer Tricycle and we've easily put 10 miles on that bad boy. We bought the brightest, tackiest, most princess covered helmet we could find and fortunately she thinks its dress up and is wearing it like a freaking tiara. Between the bike rides and trips to feed the turtles, we're pretty tapped out come nap time.

I almost never (never, never, never) take naps when she does. I usually work on WC, clean the house, and lately it's been when I do a lot of dinner prep, but today I vegged out (and eventually passed out) with my laptop, a great big iced coffee, and my celebrity gossip websites.

It's the little things.

So now we're onto the second half of April. For Ryan it means wrapping up his current job and prepping to start a new one on May 1 (same company, new role) and we're pretty psyched about it. We haven't seen a ton of him over the past couple of years since we moved here and this new position is going to mean a lot
 more time at home. Yay!
As for me, I'm getting ready for the WC Summer '15 launch (first week of May, get ready!) and trying to squeeze in all my appointments (dentist, eye doctor etc.) before O's Mother's Day Out program wraps up and I lose those 10 hours a week and we start traveling all Summer.

That's it for us so right now - nothing too exciting, just doing our thing!

Neck and Neck

I don't wear lots of jewelry and I usually stick to simple stud earrings and hardly ever wear any bracelets. The only exception is necklaces. I especially love delicate, dainty necklaces and long tassel pieces and rely on them to make my mom uniform slightly less mundane. I've rounded up a few of my current favorites (including a few from my favorite Etsy shops) for you to take a peek at!

First I'll talk about this gorgeous natural and gold wood bead necklace from Laura Cox Designs

Steph blogged about Laura and her shop a couple weeks ago and I quickly hopped over to her site to snap this up. O loved it so much that Laura was nice enough to make a mini version for me to purchase and it arrived yesterday, much to one little lady's delight. "Mama, our nek-a-ses!".  It's perfectly neutral and is giving my plain tees and sweaters the perfectly understated finishing touch.

The pink tassel necklace is from a local boutique called Anything Bling Boutique and is enough out of my comfort zone to be fun and different without being so far out there that I'm afraid to wear it.

The Kendra Scott Rayne necklace is another go to tassel piece for me (I have the Mother of Pearl color) and is a tiny bit dressier, so it's often found on date nights. 

 Now for the dainty ones!

I truly love small gold necklaces and layering them is my favorite. I've worn my "O" charm necklace every day since Olivia was born and like to add different pieces to that depending on the day/my mood/what I'm wearing. The charm necklace is a 16" length and I buy the others in 18" so they'll be slightly longer. 

The druzy bar necklace is from Dolce Ave, and the gold circle and triangle necklaces are from Mia Earrings. I love shopping small and these ladies all deliver big time! 

So those are my faves! Don't be surprised if you see these popping up nonstop on Instagram or again on the blog because I'm always wearing one of them at any given time!

Lip Favorites

I don't hoard much, but lip products are my exception. While I like to keep most areas of my life pretty streamlined, I'm an addict when it comes to lip balms, glosses, lip sticks, lip salves, whatever. So to give you a full look at the crazy today, I'm sharing my favorite lip products!

The balms:

Move over Chapstick, I've got Baby Lips. The first two are colorless and tend to live in my nightstand in case I should need a 2 AM application. Dry lips are a nightmare in and of themselves. The other two are lightly tinted and ideal for tossing in my purse by the dozen. Little bit of color, whole lotta lip smoothing goodness. I'm linking these at Ulta but they're all over the place - Target, the grocery store, wherever! These are a bargain at $4.50 and I love to stock up.

The glosses:

My perfect pinky nude is the Naked lipgloss from Urban Decay ($20) and the Smashbox in Pout ($20) is a super baby pink that I usually reserve for date night. The Naked gloss has an amazing smooth texture that I prefer to the stickier texture of the Smashbox gloss, but they're both keepers. These are both Sephora or Ulta buys!

The salves:

Used almost as heavily as my Baby Lips are my Smith's Rosebud Salves ($6) in every flavor. Original, Strawberry, and Mint. Personal fave? The Mint. Barely, barely tinted, immediate moisture, and I love the applicator. I always snag these at the checkout of Sephora or Anthropolgie.

The lipsticks:

I don't use many lipsticks as I feel like they tend to look cakey on my lips. I also tend to do a pretty dramatic eye most days (winged liner fo life), so doing a heavy lip is always out of the question. These two, the Julianne by L'Oreal and Dior Lip Glow, are the only two that I've ever repeat purchased. The L'Oreal is a bargain buy at $8 and the Dior is a definite splurge at $33. I love the translucent yet bright aspect to the Lip Glow which allegedly doesn't color your lips, just brings out their natural color, and the soft pink from the L'Oreal is perfect for everyday. I get the L'Oreal at Target or Ulta and the Lip Glow is widely available at Sephora!

The fun and pretty:

This is the newest to my lineup and I'm luh-ving it. This is Royal Apothic Tinties Lip Butter in Pink ($14). I got this at Anthropologie and the sweet little pot it comes in is to die (sucker for packaging) and the color is the brightest in my collection - almost a fuchsia - without being too much. It applies like a balm, isn't sticky at all, and I'm going to have to try the other colors.

The selfie:

Faves Around the House

We're at that point where the house finally feels like ours, not the former owners' but we aren't quite at the place where we'd call it done....

Hold on, I'm just dreaming about the day the house will be "done". I look about 60 in this dream. Anyways.

Regardless of the state of our house, there are five things in and around the house that really make me feel settled here and really help me ignore the tiny pile of crushed cracker on the floor. God forbid I pick that up the first 10 times I walk by it. I'll wait for pass number 11, thank you.

1. Candles

My mom always burned candles when I was growing up and I guarantee you that if you walk into my parents' home unannounced that a. my mom will probably have a stroke ("this place is a mess!") and b. she'll be burning candles and my dad will be cooking. So obviously, good smells are tied to some happy memories for me. While I'm working on filling the house with good smells from cooking, I'm doing a fantastic job of filling it with good smells from candles. I usually keep one in the kitchen and one on my dresser in the master. They're both up nice and high, out of reach of curious little hands and I tend to rotate between a couple different scents. 

- My absolute favorite is Anthropologie's Capri Blue Volcano candle. It's on the pricey end, though it's longevity helps ease the financial sting. It packs a punch in the fragrance department and is heavenly.

- Target has some awesome, big candles for $10. My current living room choice is Sweet Blush and Agave since they've discontinued my old fave, Blonde Woods and Musk. Jerks. Just kidding, I love you, Target.

2. Flowers

I usually grab whatever's under $10 at Trader Joe's and am always happy with what I come home with. Tulips are on heavy rotation right with it being April and all, but I'll take anything, especially hydrangeas. I like to keep them in our entryway and if it's an especially big bouquet, I'll split it up and put some on the kitchen table. I feel like they say "someone who has their crap together lives here, not someone who will pass by a cracker dust pile ten times". 

3. Special photos

Yeah, everyone has photos in their house, big whoop. They matter to me, though. When I've got my favorite family photos hung and displayed, I feel at home. I tend to go for black and white in our master, and color in the living room. All the important moments in our lives are on display and I like to think they tell our story.

4. A Catch All

We have a lot of junk. Junk mail, junk from Mother's Day Out, junk from the bottom of my purse (whoa nelly, it's like a black hole in there), you get it. The organization lover (needer?) in me feels better when there's a place to put bills, backpacks, and spare keys. I got this little shelving unit at Target and between that and the calendar, we stay pretty organized. 

5. Pretty Hand Towels

towel from Target

Totally unnecessary and unnoticed by most, pretty hand towels is what separates me from my current "grown up" life and when I was  living in a 400 square foot studio apartment outside of Boston after I graduated from college. My hand towels then were really just the 10 pack of washcloths you can buy for $3 and some change at Target. I also spent $40 a week on groceries and often had to call my parents for gas money to get to my first job, but that's a whole other sad (and character building?) story. Surprisingly, I look back on the whole time with a certain fondness, although I'm almost positive I didn't enjoy being broke as a joke at the time.

Anyway, those are the five things that have really gone a ways towards making this a home, not a house ; the personal touches I've added that didn't require paint, spackle, or a trip to the ER with a broken toe.

Our Easter

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful Easter (or Passover!) with your loved ones! This was our first holiday spent just the three of us and it was really low key and lovely. We had the chance to start some new (hopefully) traditions of our own and enjoy lots of time together.

O loved her Easter basket and about 30 seconds after she ripped into that bad boy we left to get some brunch.

When we got home we did a little Easter egg hunt, the nugget and I snuggled up to watch Sleeping Beauty for the first time (for her, it was about the 1000th time for me), I had a mimosa, and then we all took naps. By nap I mean lay in bed on the phone checking Instagram, and then falling asleep 5 minutes before little one woke up. I will never learn.

I thought it might be sad to be away from family, but we ended up really enjoying our day, even though we missed them! The house was full of flowers, I made seafood chowder like my grandmother does for holidays, and a restful day was just what the doctor ordered, especially for Ryan. He had Friday off, so a three day weekend with him was the icing on the cake and I think we spent more time with him this weekend than we have since we moved to Texas!

We wrapped up the day with a walk to feed the turtles and burn off a teeny tiny fraction of the calories we consumed.

Spending all this time together, starting traditions, and watching her really understand and enjoy a holiday does a lot for my willingness to add another baby to the mix. While I don't think we're quite there yet, it was so fun to think about Easter next year or the years after and filling our house with our own family and adding even more insanity to the equation. Now that I've said this, I can almost guarantee some kind of toddler episode tomorrow that will make me rethink the whole idea, but for now, it's nice to imagine.

Some links from today's post, just in case you're interested!

Liv's Dress: J Crew Factory
Liv's Purse: Target
Radio Flyer Bike: Amazon

So I Decided to Start Cooking...

You may recall that one of my New Year's resolutions was to cook more often. I think we all know how that went.

There are lots of reasons why I don't cook much - Ryan's almost never home for dinner, I'm a little intimidated by cooking, I'm lazy about food prep (that's 95% of it right there), the list goes on.

Lately we've been spending way too much on take out and restaurants and it's motivated me to get back into cooking more often, and trying to stick to restaurants on weekends.

So on Sunday I hit Pinterest with a fervor I haven't had since I first learned about Pinterest and found some recipes that I thought would work for us. My requirements:

- Easy to make. I'm not using some fancy tool I'd have to go buy, I'm not mincing anything, and I'm not going to spend an hour wandering the grocery store for some obscure ingredient. At least not until I successfully execute the new plan for a few weeks and build up my confidence.

- Can be made in advance and warmed up later.

- Toddler friendly

- Can be made in small batches. We're two and a half people - if it serves 8-10 it's too much, even if I eat leftovers for lunch (which are actually a favorite of mine).

So here's what I made this week:

Monday: Baked Spaghetti with the recipe from The Gunny Sack. Served this with mixed veggies on the side (Frozen Foursome from Trader Joe's)

Tuesday: Stuffed Peppers. I didn't follow a specific recipe for this, but the inspiration came from A Beautiful Mess. I used marinara sauce, ground turkey, quinoa, shredded mozzarella, and leftover Frozen Foursome veggies.

Wednesday: Skinny Chicken Fried Rice from Skinny Mom.

Thursday: Honey Mustard Chicken from Simply Recipes with Garlic Ranch Roasted Potatoes (from Damn Delicious) and Salad. I'm really enjoying the Zoe's Kitchen dressing for salads - simple and delish.

I was able to prep part if not all of these around 10 in the morning while Liv was watching The Little Mermaid (every. single. day.) and then Ryan would text me when he left work and I'd get things finished up. He did his part by really making an effort to leave work earlier and I did the menu planning aspect. It worked really well and for four meals it cost $50, an amount we'd easily spend on two takeout dinners ( or one even), which gets a little crazy.

So now you need to tell me, what are some of your favorite (and easy!) recipes to make for your family?

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