Friday Letters

I can't believe I haven't done this one yet, but here are my Friday Letters.  Pop over to Adventures of Newlyweds and see what everyone else is writing this week too!

Dear Sister,
I cannot wait to see you and your family in a few hours.  By the time this publishes, I'll be packing up the kids and waiting for Nate to get home to load up the crew, drive the seven hours with a few stops at McDonalds and gas stations for snacks and head your way.

Dear Portable DVD Player,
In case I don't tell you enough, I love you.  See above letter for reasoning.

Dear Dora and Boots,
I love that Avery is finally watching TV and buying me some time during the day where I don't act as her personal pillow/jungle gym/trampoline, but I really really wish she would have fallen in love with someone else.  No offense.  I'm sure this is not the first time that you've heard this either.

Dear Bloggers and Etsy Sellers,
I've got September spots open for you!  Be sure to check out my amazing packages and super affordable rates {here}!

Dear Olivia,
You will be 4-years old in 18 days.  Please try your best to remain little for a little while longer.  You're getting too big too fast and I don't like it.

Dear Neighbors with the Free Chest Freezer,
Thank you.  Thank you.  So excited.

Dear Pinterest Freezer Meals Pins,
Thank you.  Thank you.  So excited.

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September Instagram Challenge

It's that time again to grab those smart phones and link up with Fat Mum Slim, and the rest of the cool people in the world.

Here's her monthly challenge for us this September, be sure to use the new hashtag #FMSphotoaday

Chantelle also explains the method for her promts this month {here}

Happy snapping!

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My Life in an Instagram #12

Sorry about being MIA last week.
As promised, I'm here - hope you are too!

According to L 

If you want to follow my Instagram for the moment-to-moment fun, be sure to follow me {here}

Here's a few of my faves from the last week (or there-abouts)

First carnival ride at Como Town.  Well first for Avery anyway.

Maaaammm, I'm not sleepy.

Another Monster at the End of this Book.  iPad app.  Must have, in my humble opinion.

Date night in the big city.

Fondue.  Yum.  Melted cheese and a bunch of meat, what more could you want?

Glitter mani, thanks to Daring Digits.  Giveaway COMING SOON!

I just can't help myself.

My Alexandria bib.  So amazing with anything!

Your turn!  Play fair and visit a few others too while you're at it!!

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So What Wednesday

Did you miss me last week?  I missed you!  So happy to be back in the world of ME and talking about ME here at the blog for ME.

Be sure to check out the other me-me-me's at Shannon's spot {here}

This week, I have a lot to say SO WHAT about:
  • I started taping crappy daytime TV shows to watch during naptime.  I needed some background noise while I do 27 other things (quietly, of course)
  • One of the shows I started taping was Dr. Phil.  It's like Maury, with a southern accent and fewer paternity tests, cat-calls from the audience and censor bleeps.
  • I had drinks downtown on Saturday night and wondered if I looked as out of place as I felt.  But I still had a great time!
  • While on the topic of reality TV, I think Ven on Project Runway is a bitch after the last episode with "real women."  Maybe he should check the mirror because he's shaped more like a "real woman" than I am.
  • In keeping with my better blogger promise, I'm starting the running draft of this list at 10 PM on Sunday while watching Gallery Girls.  Those rich bitches have no idea what life could be like!  A $4 Old Navy tank, glass of Three Buck Chuck and Sesame Street on the DVR.  Who lives the high life, I ask you?
  • I have grown my hair out in the hopes of doing some beachy-cute waves, and by god, this week I am going to forgo the ponytail and actually DO one!
  • We scored a free chest freezer from the house down the street.  It may, in fact, be older than I am, but it runs cold and will keep my family stocked in bulk proteins and Bagel Bites from Costco all winter!
  • I sent out invites for Liv's birthday, but didn't do a "theme" like she wanted.  It's a cute pic of her - without any princess or mermaid or anything that she wanted.  I'm sure she'll get over the disappointment because I let her pick hot pink envelopes to mail them in.
  • I'm really excited for Liv to start preschool, and being able to spend more alone time with Avery. But I'm afraid I'm really, really going to miss her for those two hours.  And it's only TWO hours, crazy lady.
  • I love my DVR.  There are very few shows I have intentionally watched LIVE since having this beloved devise in my home:  the ER finale, the Lost finale, and now the Teen Mom finale.  Plus, Nate was at the Twins game, so I didn't have any complaints from the Peanut Gallery.
  • I hit {fast forward} at least 4 times during the 90-minutes.  I hate those little shows between my real show.
What are you saying SO WHAT to?  Please tell me I'm not the only crazy-town around...

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Eight Fears

Totally loving this link party concept:  each week sharing a certain number of things about yourself with the world.  I mean, let's face it, we're not here in the blogger circle to NOT occasionally talk about ourselves!

So I'm linking up with Lauren @ Life.Love.Lauren and her co-host Tiffany @ The Austin Family Diary to share my eight fears with you all.  Be sure to pop over and check out what everyone else has to say!

I'll start with the basics: bees.  I just don't like them.  I try really hard to be brave in front of the kids so I don't pass along my neuroses (as much I can help anyway!)  Maybe it has something to do with being stung 28 times by yellow jackets as a kid - but I'm no Freud to figure out that one.

That my kids will be unhappy.  Not the kind of throw-a-tantrum-in-Target-over-a-toy unhappy, but unhappy with their life.  I don't want them to be teased, or picked on.  I don't want boys to break their heart.  I don't want them to hate their jobs, or their husbands or their kids.  This fear will never go away, I'm afraid.

That we'll never move on and get a bigger home.  I'm afraid that as our family ages, the space we have will become exponentially smaller.  However, in that same breath, I am extremely grateful for the home that we have.

That my attempts to stay home and support my family with my own business ventures will fail.  So far, so good.

That my parents will get sick.  And then the next step, that they will pass away.  The thought of not having my mom to go to lunch with or my dad to give my kids big giant hugs and kisses makes me tear up anytime I think of the eventual day that will be my reality.

The bottom will fall out on Nate and me again.  We've hit some bumps in our five-years of marriage.  I think I'm good on those roads for awhile, thank you very much.

That my metabolism is slowing much faster than I am prepared for.  Ugh.

Oh, and probably the most obvious one: scary movies.  Ever since I watched "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (the remake) the fun of being scared and startled was sucked right out of me.  Hated it.  And I hate yucky, scary movies now.

What are two things you're afraid of?

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Sugar Cookie Bars

Remember FRIENDS?  Who doesn't - for 10 years, every Thursday, we laughed and cried and hung on every word of those silly six best friends.  Dreaming of a super cool New York apartment with Rachel's gorgeous hair and having the sharp wit of Chandler.

Remember The One with Pheobe's Cookies?  Monica is killing herself over figuring out Pheobe's grandmother's secret cookie recipe, only to find out they are the same exact ones as the Nestle Tollhouse bag?  Hilarious!  "You American's always butcher the French language."

Being home, I am trying to be healthier, but I also want to be the mom with the fun treats.  And this is a recipe where little hands can help measure the ingredients, count the scoops and help dump everything together.  Then mom happily flips on the Kitchen Aid mixer and let's that little baby do all the heavy lifting.

I used Jaclyn's recipe from Cooking Classy {here}, including homemade frosting.  Tasty, yes.  But the easy of the canned stuff is sure hard to beat!

And while Jaclyn's decorating skills are prettier, but I have to say, I do like the usage of pink frosting and EVERY sprinkle we had in the house to decorate ours!


Sprinkler Sunday and a Revelation

I really wanted to do something SUPER FUN in my first month home with the girls and tell you all about it.
Like our trip to the Children's Museum on Day 1.
Or our trip to Como Zoo with Grandma and Grandpa.
Or the countless trips to the library for story time.

Have I done any of that?  No.  Bad blogger - refer to my apology from Thursday.

But I'm going to be better.

Nate and I agreed, I tried to do too much right out of the gate (by way of supplemental income) I wanted to leave my corporate gig so I could spend more time with the girls, and focus on this blog, and my writing, and my creative output with my Etsy shop.  And then, the fun I've been having with Stella & Dot, I can only go up from here.

I tried to have an hourly job in there as well.  And it wasn't fun.  And the money wasn't anything remarkable.  So, in looking at the time spent doing something that wasn't fun, for not much money vs. my happiness and ability to do other things I enjoyed much more, the choice was obvious.

Nate and I discussed my options at some on Saturday during our date night (we were out until 11:30 people!  This was an awesome night for us!)  And today, the thought just clicked.  We would make due with a little less "security" (and I do mean LITTLE) if that meant I would be passionate, happy and secure about the work I was doing.

And after nap, we let the kids run around the yard in the sprinkler.  It was exactly the kind of time I'd wanted to spend with them for the past month, but had been too distracted, or not even home, to do it.  Granted, Avery was much happier watching from the sidelines or pushing her lawn mower around.  It was my happy little family on a warm, sunny afternoon.

All together ***awwwww*** cute cute music.

But I did get some cute pics of my girls.
So that's a win in it of itself.


Honey Hoisin Chicken

I've made a few Asian vinaigrettes in my days, so that means I have bottles of speciality ingredients to use up, like hoisin sauce and rice wine vinegar.  I love the flavors of these things, but each recipe calls for so little of it.  And I hate to have things go to waste (especially these days - strict food budget, you know!)

So I did a little Google searching, found a few recipes that sounded good and then of course, made my own spin on them.

Today, I bring you honey hoisin glazed chicken.  It sounds fancy, and it tastes even better!  A nice change from those plain grilled chicken breasts.   This glaze makes enough for one pound of chicken, but actually, you probably could get two pounds done if you're cooking for a larger crowd.

To make the glaze, mix together:
** remember, I am not a measuring kind of girl, especially with sticky ingredients like honey, so eyeballs are just fine for this mix! **
4-5 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flake (depending on your spice preferences)
about 4-5 Tbsp olive oil (to mix and emulsify the glaze)
salt and pepper to season the chicken before glazing

Set your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with foil (easy clean up - work smarter, not harder)

Season both sides and brush each side with the glaze.
** You could separate the glaze into two bowls and brunch another layer of sweet, sticky goodness on halfway through baking too.  Separate bowls prevent contamination of raw meat juices mixing in your delicious gloves.

Bake about 35 minutes, or until cooked to the standard internal temperature - I think it's 165 for chicken.


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Labor of Love

As I sit to write this birthing story for Kelley, I have to think back to how the day actually went. For those of you who read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien in high school, you’ll remember he talks about real truth and story truth. The book was about combat during the Vietnam War and how the men each recounted their experiences differently. And not merely from a different perspective, but literally, having the memories form uniquely in their minds.

I’m sure the memories of my daughters’ deliveries are more on the story truth side of things. It would have to be, otherwise women would only ever have ONE baby after the trauma and pain. But the bundle they place into your arms magically washes all of that horror and gore away, doesn’t it. Thank goodness. Otherwise we’d be laid up for a lot more than 2 days in the hospital!

Here’s what I remember from the day Avery was born:

I was induced, just like I was with my first. I was contracting and dilating, but not always at the same time, so at my 38 week check, I was at a 5, so my doc scheduled an induction for two days later (when she would be on-call and available to be present for the delivery)

For Olivia, we brought in a portable DVD player because we’d have all kinds of time to relax in the hospital after the baby was born. HA! I used it to watch Ocean’s Eleven in the early stages of my labor and that was the only time that sucker ever got switched on.

This time, I planned to distract myself with movies again. Worked well enough the first time. I packed Ocean’s Thirteen (in honor of the first go-around) and The Hangover. Don't judge.  The Hangover is hilarious and laughter is the best medicine. I wanted to try to go a again without an epidural. 
I’ve done this before, how bad can it be.
Wait, this kinda hurt. 
I don't remember it hurting this bad.
I am an idiot.

My labor progressed rather quickly; all told I’d been in the bed for about 3 hours now. I went from mild discomfort to overwhelming agony – I called the nurse back, who was just in checking on me. I went from a 7 to a 10 in a contraction.

I am ripping in half.

My water still hadn’t broken at this point, and when my doctor poked her head in the door, my nurse said “You’d better go change before I break her water, or you’re going to miss it.”

Yeah right lady. You’re just trying to be encouraging and make me think things are going faster than they are.
Wait, you're taking the bottom of the bed out - that means we're close, right?

They broke my water, and I swear it felt like Avery was just going to come out with the rest of it. The pressure was so intense and I was scared to move, let alone push because I didn’t want it to hurt anymore. My nurse encouraged, "Push against the pain, it will feel better."

Easy for you to say, lady.
It still hurts, but I don't hate you as much as I did a moment ago.
Four pushes,
five minutes
and out she came.

Now, if you’ve read my blog, you’ll remember that Avery wasn’t exactly in the schedule and I had a lot of anxiety about her arrival and integration into our family. {more here and here} To this day, I have a lot of guilt for that, but know that it was a stepping stone in our relationship – required to make the bond that she and I have today. In that moment, that first long moment she was wrapped and handed over, when she and I were the only people in the whole world – I knew she had chosen right when she picked me for her mom.

After everyone was cleaned up, I looked at my doctor and said a very tearful “thank you,” and she choked up and said “You’re welcome.”

My baby was here in this world. And I still work every day to make her proud that she made me her mom.


So Sorry

I have been a bad blogger.
I missed So What Wednesday yesterday and then dropped the ball on my own link party this week!
But I am only human.

I promise I will do better.
Check back tomorrow, I promise to have a cute Avery story for you.  And let's be honest, pretty much all of my Avery stories are cute.


Pillow Talk

I've already admitted that I am a sleepy-kiddo watcher.  I have to say, since the girls have gotten bigger, and more lovey and sweet (or on the contrast, louder, wilder and more sassy at times) my addiction has not weakened.

During a usual night, I tuck Liv in, give her kisses on the forehead,
ask for a big, tight hug to last me all night,
and ask her "what was your favorite part of the day."

Usually she's got more than one, and usually they're not always from the DAY, but the recent events, or things she wants to do in the future.  It's a fun thing we do and I get to climb into her 3-year old world and see things the way she sees them.

iMom has a list of 20 things to ask your kids at bedtime, so I thought it only wise and fitting that I share with you all:
  1. What do you like to dream about?
  2. What is your best memory this school year?
  3. Who is your hero? Why?
  4. How would you describe your family?
  5. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  6. What are you most proud of yourself for?
  7. Who is the kindest person you know? Why?
  8. What do you like most about your best friend?
  9. What is one thing you would like to learn to do well?
  10. If you were an animal what one would you be and why?
  11. When is the last time someone hurt your feelings? How did you react?
  12. Do you know someone who is going though a hard time? How can you help them?
  13. What is the scariest thing that happened this year?
  14. If you could keep only one thing, out of everything you have, what would it be?
  15. Who do you think is really successful? Why?
  16. What’s the best thing about your teacher this year?
  17. When do you feel misunderstood by grown-ups?
  18. What three words best describe you?
  19. What’s something that makes you angry?
  20. What’s the best compliment you ever received?
Some of these are meant for older kids - but they can be tweaked into versions that are age-appropriate.

For instance, maybe instead of asking about a "compliment" ask "what's something nice you heard/saw/did today?"

You get to hear about the good and the bad and get to know them a little better - beyond the love for Dora and Nutella and banana sandwiches (which are also critical points to note in your children's' lives.)

They're going to kill me someday for taking these photos, but I'll enjoy it while I can.


Red Stamp Must-Have iPhone app

I was introduced to this app by my Stella & Dot sponsor, Leah, and it is absolutely amazing and cute!

Red Stamp is an app for iPhones, sorry Driod, that allows you to basically text e-cards to your friends and family.  And the best part, it's FREE!  Hello!

You're a smart cookie - obviously, otherwise you wouldn't be here.  The app is very intuitive and easy to maneuver with their prompts and icons, but here are a few tips and tricks I've discovered while playing around that warrant sharing:

**You can link to your Facebook and Instagram accounts from the home screen.  These are also methods of "sending" or posting.  This is a wonderful feature to share an upcoming sale or event with your fans and followers.

**Save your favorites with the touch of a {heart}

**See previously sent cards and edit and reuse.  Want to send a personal text invitation for cocktails to all your girlfriends?  Easy peasy with the access to your previous cards.  Just edit text and hit "send" again"  You'll see I send a card to My Molly (my sister) who I miss terribly while she is far away in her home seven hours from me.

**Tons of options - some I feel are probably better suited for snail mail (like baby showers, family reunions or weddings -what?!) But they do have cards for cocktails, wine tastings, just because... So much more fun that the "what are you doing tonight?  Wanna come over."  And they have "date night" cards.  Kinda a cute way to say "hey" and "love you."

**Each card has 2-4 other color pallet options that you can easily choose from.  There are lots of designs that you can add in your own photo/image on cards, adding that personal, silly touch (for those of you who are really good at the self-portrait thing.  I, however, am still struggling with that talent)

**I mentioned text messages, but as you can see, there are lots of options for sharing you cards with the ones you love.

**Mailing postcards is also an option (going back to those that may not be super appropriate in text/Facebook form, you have the design cuteness for a small price)

I hope you give this a try!  That is, if you have an iPhone.  If you don't - sucks to be you.  Add it to your Christmas list.

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Crunchy Edamame

I pinned this recipe months ago, bough the frozen package at Target the next day, and then let them sit in my freezer.  Wonderful.

But, during nap time, the urge to snack hit me and I instead of eating potato chips and hating myself later, I thought - hey I'll make those edamame thingies.


You'll need:
* 1 package of frozen edamame (16 oz)
* 1 Tbsp olive oil (eye ball it)
* 1/2-1 Tbsp sea salt - half for before roasting, half for after (eye ball it)
* 1 Tbsp fresh grated parmesan - more or less to taste
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper (you guessed it, eyeballs!)

Preheat oven to 400.  Thaw beans by running cold water over them in a colander for about 5 minutes (probably less)  Dry on paper towels WELL.  Be gentle when you blot them so you don't damage the little beanies.

Toss dried beans with the rest of your ingredients - saving out some salt and parm to garnish when they're done roasting.

Lay beans on a baking sheet in an even layer, grab a Diet Coke ice water, turn on Project Runaway and roast for about 15-18 minutes.

Let cool slightly before enjoying.

The perfect salty snack to satisfy the craving.  And this is coming from a Doritoes junkie.

And nap time is over.
And I had to share.
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