Last week, while I was working on Roman’s 3rd Birthday post, I took a little trip down memory lane. I found myself swooning over pictures from his first birthday party and comparing them with those from Marina’s. It really is overwhelming to think that both of my babies’ first birthday parties are behind me.
I don’t think that I will be having any more children and watching these milestones slip by is sometimes too much for my mama heart to handle. I try so hard to cherish all of these precious moments while they’re here because I know too well just how quickly it will all go. It feels like I blinked and Roman turned three. I know that I will blink again and he’ll be ten, and then twenty-one, and so on.
I find myself writing on this topic, of how fast it all goes, quite often. I suppose that when I think about motherhood, it’s just the thing that always comes into my mind. Children are the most beautiful reminder of how precious life is, and also how fleeting.
I’ve said it before, but it’s always worth repeating how much I love to throw special parties for my little ones. I’ve been asked about why I put so much time and effort into parties for such little babies, but I know that one day soon, I won’t have any say in the matter. My littles will have ideas of their own about how their parties should be. Scarier yet, I know that one day I won’t even be on the invite list. So you can bet that I’ll be cherishing every moment of these special tiny birthday parties while I still can.
BRU has always been my one-stop-shop for many of my birthday party needs. We’ve always trusted Pampers for a leak-free day (birthday or not!), and I depend on Dreft to be gentle for my babies, but tough enough to remove those pesky smash cake stains. Both products can be found at your local BRU. From June 1-25, BRU is running a promotion on both products, stop in and check that out.
Babies “R” Us is always there to celebrate all of your milestones, especially your baby’s first birthday! BRU stores across the country are hosting a “Baby’s First Birthday” event on June 25 from 11am-12pm. From 6/1-6/25: PAMPERS VALUE BOXES OF WIPES (800CT) are just $19.99. Head in to prepare and celebrate this milestone with fun activities, prizes & giveaways and inspiration for planning baby’s big day.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of P&G. The opinions and text are all mine.
“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
There’s something so intense about these last few days of spring. School is getting out. The wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Daylight seems to stretch on forever and the possibility for magic seems endless. It has always taken my breath away. These luminous moments when anything seems possible. We’re just on the cusp of summer and there is everything to look forward to — campfires, beach trips, fireflies.
The past few days, the weather has been just perfect. Sunshine and blue skies and a little bit of a breeze. I’ve tried to spend as much time outside as possible. If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat, then you may have seen me buzzing all over the place lately, squeezing in as many day trips as I can. Last month, I started working on a little project with Ford, test driving their C-Max Energi hybrid. So of course, I’ve been taking advantage of having a shiny, new — incredibly efficient — vehicle to cart us around on our adventures. We’ve been all over from the city to the beach to the countryside, and I’ve been thrilled by just how little I’ve had to fill up the gas tank.
It’s been a pleasure driving around in the C-Max for the past month. I love the idea of plug-in hybrid vehicles and the benefits that they offer. Things like reduced dependence on petroleum fuels, reduced environmental impact through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and consumer savings on energy and fuel costs are all win/wins. Good for the environment and good for our pocketbooks. Even though it will probably be a ways off, I will definitely be looking at hybrids when I start shopping for my next vehicle.
Learn more about Ford hybrids and the #drivingonenergi program here and on Facebook, too.
I hope that you’ve been squeezing in some fun yourself and enjoying these last, magical days of spring. Here’s to summer being right around the corner.
I had been trying to plan a trip to the museum for ages. Even though we live less than an hour outside of New York City, it’s still quite a challenge to get there these days. I used to go in often, at least every few months. There is so much to see and do.
I love nature. I live in a very suburban section of New Jersey and we are a very short drive from rural countryside. I spend most of my time in the country, in nature, in the woods. It’s my preference. But that is not to say that I don’t have a deep passion for the city, because I really do. There is something certainly magic about the hustle of city life. The city is rich with life and culture and diversity and grit. It makes my heart beat a little bit faster. I’m so grateful that I grew up getting to experience the extremes at both end of the culture spectrum.
Roman was so excited about our impending trip to the city and the museum. I wanted to test the limits of his little memory so I asked him, “Who works at the museum?” And sure enough he replied, “Professor Wiseman.” Any of you out there who have watched as much Curious George as I have will greatly appreciate his response, I’m sure.
The long awaited trip was almost cancelled that very morning when Marina woke up covered in little red spots. A quick detour to the pediatrician told us that she had an “amoxicillin reaction” to the antibiotics that had been treating her double-ear infection. But, it didn’t seem to bother her whatsoever and we were given the green light to move ahead with our plans.
Roman was absolutely enamored with the magic of the museum, the dinosaur bones were his favorite, and the beautiful light in that room rendered me helpless against snapping several pictures of him enjoying the scene. The museum with two toddlers is certainly a feat, and not one I plan to attempt again anytime soon, but it was a dream come true for me and a memory that Roman will cherish for a long time to come.
^^^ Way to keep it gully, kid. ^^^
^^^ My little polka-spotted girl. She isn’t at all thrilled with being in the stroller and it was damn-near impossible to snap a picture of her that day. ^^^
Throughout the year, bloggers (myself included) often share gift guides. I tend to like these guides because they give me ideas; introduce me to new brands & products; and frankly, I’m a voyeur — I love to see what other people are buying. However, gift guides often give me pause for a couple of reasons. First, does the blogger only want me to buy an item because she is going to make a commission off of the sale? And second, in the age of Pinterest & Etsy, just because a blogger “loves” an item doesn’t mean that she has ever actually used it or even seen it in-person.
That said, this is my series called, Things We Love (and USE). The emphasis being that these are things that we both love and actually use on a regular basis. Here are a few things that are currently making our lives a little bit easier, comfier, and more beautiful.
Note: This edition consists of all beauty products. After three years of just not spending much time on myself and my appearance, at all, I’ve finally started to take care of me again. I’ve been experimenting with some new products, because — let’s face it — the definitions of “beauty” and “prep time” change a lot once you’re a mom. 😉
1. Big Sexy Hair — Root Pump Spray — I am obsessed with this stuff, I can’t even explain it. I should, however, note that I bought it accidentally and I don’t actually use it for its intended purpose. I must have been in a rush when I grabbed it from the shelf. I was actually looking for a regular hair spray. I’d heard good things about this brand so I guess I just grabbed the first thing that looked like hairspray to me. When I used it for the first time I realized that it comes out as a spray but then it turns into a mousse. I also realized, upon looking at the label, that it’s not hairspray at all. I really had no clue what “root pump” was anyway so I just went ahead and used it the way I had intended to, to style and scrunch my hair after the shower.
Well, low and behold, the miracle of all hair miracles took place. After it had dried completely, my hair basically transformed into the most beautiful wavy coif imaginable. I don’t even know how to explain it. It almost turns my hair into ringlets as if I used a curling wand or something. It’s still soft, but it’s beautiful and voluminous. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now and the results are magic every time, even on the grossest, humid days it makes my hair beautiful and frizz-free. Hallelujah. This can of… hair stuff(?) is my new best friend. That said, I can’t really attest to its value as “root pump” because I just use it as mousse. Here are a couple of Instagram selfies to illustrate: one // two // three.
2. eos Lip Balm — I am such a lip gloss/lip balm addict. I never leave the house without something for my lips in my pocket. I’ve tried lots of options over my lifetime and I’ve had a few favorites. At the top of my list currently are the eos balms which you’ve probably heard of or seen. They work really well. They give my lips just a little bit of shine and color. They smell and taste amazing. And best of all — my number one requirement for lip balm — when you apply it lasts for hours and hours. I also find that the eos formula nourishes my lips so that even if I don’t put anything on them the day after, they stay hydrated which is pretty incredible as my lips used to get chapped if I didn’t put balm on them every day.
3. MAC Concealer — Unfortunately I was one of the lucky ones that inherited dark under eye circles from the gene pool. Blah. I spent years searching for a concealer that actually, effectively covered them. I tried recommendations from lots of friends and beauty experts. However, for me, nothing has ever worked except for this particular little pot from MAC. It’s a damned miracle. I’ve been using it for, gosh, maybe close to ten years now? And I’m committed to it for life. It works like a charm and the little pot lasts me for about a year because it’s so incredibly effective. I do find the formula to be a tad bit drying, so I put a bit of moisturizer under my eyes before I apply it and that works perfectly. I also love the fact that it is SPF 35 so it’s also working to protect the delicate skin under the eyes from the sun. I can’t recommend this stuff enough.
4. Neutrogena Makeup Remover Wipes — I’ve finally started wearing makeup again! It’s really been awhile. Especially during Marina’s first year, there just wasn’t time for me to worry about things like eyeliner and concealer. Now, however, I try to “put my face on” at least a few days a week or more. I feel so much better after I do it, as evidenced by the ten-thousand selfies that I post to Snapchat each day. 😉 With that said, however, evenings are always mayhem for me and by the time I finally get the babies down, I just don’t have time or energy for a nightly skincare ritual. Still, my makeup needs to come off at the end of the day otherwise I wake up with raccoon eyes and breakouts. So I went out in search of makeup remover wipes, the easiest way to get makeup off, ever. Even my exhausted ass can manage it at the end of each day. These Neutrogena ones are amazing. They really take the makeup off without a struggle.
A couple of side notes: These wipes do tend to leave my skin feeling a little dry after use, so I apply a thin layer of the NIVEA moisturizer mentioned below and everything works out perfectly. As another point of reference, I also tested out the Alba Botanica Clean Towelettes, which are advertised as a 3-in-1 makeup remover + cleanser + toner. I loved the packaging, the fact that they’re natural, and they smell incredible. However, they just didn’t do a great job at removing my mascara or eyeliner at all. So I will not be repurchasing them unfortunately.
5. NIVEA Soft Moisturizing Cream — I think I’ve written about it here before, but my skin tends to be extremely dry, year-round. Whenever I have time after a shower, I cover my body in coconut oil and it soaks it up like a sponge. I always need extra moisture on my face because every time I get out of the shower my face feels tight and dry. Regular lotions don’t do a thing for me, I’ve tried countless brands and most of them leave me wanting more. Some are even irritating. However, about four months ago I tried out a jar of this stuff that my mom had been using and I fell in love with it. It’s amazing. It’s not irritating at all. It leaves my face feeling completely moisturized and the moisture stays locked in until the next time that I shower. It’s powerful but not heavy and it doesn’t cause me to break out either. I’ve already gone through two jars of it and I’ll keep going back for more.
That’s all for this edition of Things We Love and USE. Click here to check out my past lists in this series.
What are a few of the things that you are using and loving right now? I’d love to hear!
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, then you know that parties are usually a pretty big thing around here. My babies’ birthday parties in particular have always been special affairs created with tons of details and handmade projects. (See here, here, and here.) However, their birthdays are fairly close together (March 20th and May 7th), and after Marina’s epic Pink and Gold Princess Birthday Party, I was all party-planned out.
So I let Roman’s Papa take over all of the party-planning duties for Roman’s third birthday party — and I had absolutely nothing to do with it. I have to say, he did an amazing job. He and Roman decided on a “Transformers” theme and everything turned out adorable. Roman loved it and he had a wonderful day celebrating with his favorite people in the world, his cousins.
I know that this is probably the most cliché thing in the world to say, but I really cannot believe that Roman is 3. It really does seem like just yesterday when we were bringing him home from the hospital in his tiny little newborn outfit that I had so carefully picked out and packed up in the weeks before his birth. And now he is a full-fledged little boy. He is truly the most remarkable person that I know. He is sweet and funny and — my goodness — he is so incredibly smart. He is gifted and talented and wild and loving.
I really do not have words to express my love for him. He is my sunshine and my best friend. He is my greatest blessing and I thank God for him every day.
I hope you had the best birthday ever, Roman. I hope that you have one hundred more and that each one gets better & better!
I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve started this post in my head. How many poems I’ve stumbled upon, how many quotes that have passed over my lips — words that I thought might help explain how I am feeling, where I am at in my life. These thoughts that I have been dying to spill out from my fingertips, desperate as though they’re trying to escape a burning building. I wish I could sit down and pour out the contents of my heart. And yet. Here I sit, stifled. I’ve been thirty-two for more than three weeks now and I’m no closer to putting any of it into words.
Instead my days are spent in a beautiful & terrible blur of changing diapers, refereeing toddler disputes, naps (or lack thereof), long nights of comfort-nursing every ninety minutes, days of loneliness, and fear, and joy — there is always joy, still.
Here’s what I know about thirty-two, and about life. Sometimes things really do have to fall apart so that we can put them back together. That’s how life works. It’s terrifying, but it’s necessary. Everything is a choice. Every single moment, we make choices. The greatest choices that we are faced with, moment by moment are: sadness or happiness; fear or gratitude.
Recently, a friend wrote to me saying, “You look like you’re coming out of a shell, re-birthing maybe.” Yes, I am without a doubt having a period of rebirth. It’s beautiful. It’s about the most liberating thing I could ever have imagined. I feel empowered and it’s wonderful. I am also scared, afraid beyond anything that I’ve felt before in my life. But it’s right. It’s all right. Things have to fall apart so that we can put them back together.
“Long ago, God drew a circle in the sand exactly around the spot where you are standing right now. You were never not coming here.” –Hafiz
Thank you ACME for sponsoring this post. Check out the new Signature family of brands from ACME, with more than 4,000 Signature products available and a 100% money-back guarantee.
Can we just stop for a second and talk about how crazy the past couple of months have been? Maybe it was retrograde? Maybe it was just me? Anyway… on top of the really big life changes that I’ve been going through (and will talk about one day) there’s been all sorts of other craziness. Namely, that plague that I wrote about in my last post ended up lasting for three weeks! In fact, Roman is still hanging on to a bit of a cough. I mean, we’ve all had colds before, but three weeks, going on four?! For real?
I finally took Roman to the doctor on Tuesday. Even though I knew we were all on the right path, I just couldn’t stand the thought of it being something more and letting it go untreated. Sure enough, the pediatrician confirmed that it really was just a lingering cold from hell and that he should be back to 100% soon.
On top of that craziness, I had an unfortunate series of events that led to me having a tooth pulled last week. Recovery from that has been slow-going and just a general pain in the… jaw.
At any rate, things have been stable for a few days now and I’m just starting to come up for air. It’s amazing how far “out of the game” my head goes when me and the babies are under the weather. While we were sick, I truly had to put life on hold. All of the big, pressing issues that have been weighing me down for the past few months were pushed to the wayside. Not to worry, however, they were all here waiting with a vengeance as soon as the dust settled.
In an effort to regroup, I took the quick drive up north to my parents summer home in the woods. One of the things that I love about coming up here is stopping into the grocery store and stocking up on our favorite foods & snacks. We always stop into the local ACME right before we hit the final stretch of drive into the campgrounds. By the time we get here, the babies are ready to tear into something delicious–usually graham crackers or something sweet, if I’m being honest. (Can you blame them, though?) 😉
So since I already love ACME, I was really excited when I was invited to try out their NEW Signature line that includes more than 4,000 items–from coffee to juice, soup to cereal, fresh produce to fried chicken, and delicious prepared foods to trusted home staples–all with a 100% money back guarantee.
We’ve spent the past couple of days taking long walks in the woods and picnicking by the lake. Signature graham crackers and apple juice have been a welcome addition to the babies’ afternoons. And, Mama has been happy to add a little bit of extra sweetness to her afternoon tea, as well.
Cheers to products that we can love from stores that we can trust. To celebrate the new line, ACME invites shoppers to join in the conversation by sharing Signature stories, photos and videos online using #MySignatureMoments. I’m also really excited to be giving away a $25 gift card to ACME to one lucky reader. Use the giveaway widget below to enter. See terms and conditions for details.
No matter how crazy life gets, I’m so grateful to have these little, peaceful moments to sit back, take stock, and be grateful. Even when it’s really hard to find, there is always a bit of wonder & beauty tucked inside of the insanity somewhere. If you don’t see it yet, keep looking. ♥
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
“We cannot start over, but we can begin now, and make a new ending.”
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Spring started to bloom and then a cold wave came in. It killed most of the early spring flowers and blossoming trees. It was so sad to see the colors freeze over, turn brown, and shrivel away. A cruel trick of mother nature. At the same time, the babies and I came down with a spring cold (see also: plague from hell). It’s been nearly a week straight of sore throats, fevers, constant coughing, and noses that just won’t stop running.
It’s been a little rough, consisting of bottomless cups of hot tea for mama and the occasional frozen pizza for lunch. But I keep telling myself, “Whatever works.” There’s plenty of time for the pursuit of perfection. Sometimes life is more just about surviving each day and making it through until bedtime by the sheer grace of God alone.
Despite all of that, the sun came out today and it was warm enough for a nice long walk. And what do you know, just as soon as that warm sunshine started hitting the earth again, new blossoms began to open up where the old ones had fallen away. So we got out and enjoyed it, runny noses and all.
On March 20th, 2016 my sweet girl turned one-year-old. We celebrated the day before with a great big pink and gold princess birthday party. It was such a fun and beautiful day. Our family and closest friends were with us to celebrate. We had great food, lots of love, and lots of fun. My baby girl is blessed to be surrounded by a family that loves her so very much.
I spent nine months planning her special day and her pink and gold princess party. I really wanted it to be a true celebration of her first year of her life–a celebration fit for my gorgeous Princess Marina Grace. I spent a lot of time searching for all of the perfect pieces for the day. From the venue, to the catering, to her outfit–every detail was carefully planned out with love and intention.
A few of my favorite details:
Each child’s place setting came with a special treat–a magic wand for the girls and a golden sword for the boys
Adults were greeted at their place settings by a piece of baby’s breath tucked into a handwritten name tag, placed on gorgeous handmade napkins from Dot & Army
The centerpieces were designed by me & assembled by Ringwood Florist. There were several different flowers in various shades of pink–including Geraldine roses, Eucalyptus, and wax flowers.
I didn’t like any of the vase options for the centerpieces. So I went with a square glass vase and then went to work on a little DIY project. I painted each vase with modge podge and then poured on gold sparkles. I’m obsessed with how they turned out
Marina’s high chair was an antique that I found on Craiglist. I had my dad spray paint it white
All of the catering was done by Kim’s Cafe & Catering. I designed cute little, tent cards for each food item to go with the princess theme, such as “Princess Pasta Salad” and “Beauty & the Beast Burgers”
All of the printed items were designed by me and printed by my friends at Printing Images
The day was captured by our absolutely incredible photography team–Stolen Glimpses. I can’t say enough good things about Leda & Jeff and their gorgeous work. Taking off my photographer hat for a day and allowing someone else to capture the special moments in my life is always a hard thing. Stolen Glimpses nailed it
The day was a dream come true. Everything came together and I couldn’t be more grateful for the love & generosity that surrounded my sweet girl. I hope that one day she will look back at the pictures and see how truly loved she was from the very start.
“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go. Acceptance is a small, quiet room.”
Sometimes I feel that I am dealing with more than a human soul should have to bear. I grasp in the darkness for a light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes I fumble madly, overcome by fear. I think, how can a body withstand this?
But there is light in my days. There is light that I haven’t yet come to terms with. A fleeting glimmer that I wonder, at moments — Is it real? Sometimes, in the warmth of it, I stop and actually ask out loud, “Am I dreaming?” The reality of something beautiful contrasted against the pain is almost too much. Like sitting in a dark room for years and then being suddenly cast out into the harsh light of noonday, a cloudless sky, the brightest fire of the sun.
I turn toward faith. I shut my ego down and ask the divine to fill my spirit. I become an empty vessel, begging to be filled. I pray: Lord take away my fear and replace it with courage. Lord, take away my anger and replace it with kindness. Lord, take away my frustration and replace it with patience. Lord, take away my hurt and replace it with peace.
These are my prayers — whispered over and over to God. I know that these pains that I feel are messengers. I listen to them. I beg that the Universe turns them to sweetness. I can’t do it on my own. That’s the one thing that I am certain of. My God hasn’t failed me yet and I know that He won’t fail me now.
When I feel like I can’t go on any further, I turn to my breathing. Just take one breath and then another. If I can do that, I can keep going. And I do. And I will.