family fun photography

SPRING! Spotting the signs of my favorite season


We’re getting to that time of year when pretty much every tree has teeny tiny buds starting to pop and a few are becoming downright colorful. Slowly tip toeing into the season. The weather is reaching a point where the temps are high enough to ditch jackets when it isn’t raining (which is often unfortunately) and over the weekend we broke out the grill for the first time this year : we welcomed the start of Grilling Season with some beer brats & grilled stuffed mushroom caps. Our neighbors were also grilling and I’m sure we weren’t alone. We’ll be eating outdoors & wearing sandals for as long as possible here.

Of course the downside to my favorite season is that it’s also the beginning of allergy season which tends to run from early April until late November, just in time for cold and flu season to start! I’ve been trying to decide if one allergy medication will be enough this year or if I’ll need to go back on both of the meds I took last year which were pretty much just enough to keep me mostly alive. Last year was the worst allergy season I have ever endured and I’m hoping for a gentler season this year.

As much as my nose hates this time of year (and my throat, ears & head in general), I love Spring. The flowers blooming, the relief from briskly cold temperatures, the streets and yards finally free of snow and ice. Animals are emerging from hibernation and though this mean that my puppy is even more of a spaz than usual, the signs of life are thrilling and warmly welcomed. The sound of children playing outside can be heard pretty much every day now and sidewalk chalk, bubbles and water tables will be getting used a lot more now. It’s much easier to deal with a case of cabin fever, when you can go outside and enjoy your backyard or take a walk through the neighborhood to the local playground without needing a sweater, winter jacket, scarf, hat and mittens.

What’s your favorite season?


momma loves: pom pom pets with kiwi crate

pom pom pets

It’s been one of those lazy mornings where the idea of taking off my bathrobe is more than I can bear. After deciding that it would definitely be a hide indoors kind of day, I knew that I’d need to pull some fun project out of my hat to ward off those guilty mom pangs that come part and parcel with laziness. A Kiwi Crate kind of day, if ever I saw one.

Around the time that we adopted our dog, Kiwi Crate sent a very timely crate that’s all about making your own pets and a pet playground. I briefly wondered if Kiwi Crate had hidden cameras in my home, then set the crate aside. Having a new pet of our own to care for and keep from destroying everything, I knew that random arts & crafts projects probably weren’t going to happen just yet. We won’t talk about the fact that that was two crates ago and that my office is starting to gather a collection of little green boxes.

Anyway, the dog was safely napping in his crate, my coffee was gone and my daughter was looking for trouble so I diverted her attention with, “Look BB! Let’s make Pom Pom Pets! What color should we make first!!!!Worked like a charm.

These little pom pom pets were super easy to make – I was surprised how little effort was involved. Wrap some yarn around a little c shaped yarn winder (included in the crate), tie tightly in the middle with pipe cleaner then snip the loops on either end and trim if needed. Apparently you could also use a rectangle shape of cardboard, a fork or even just your fingers. Add googly eyes and other decorations to make your own Pom Pom Pet. BB named hers Sofia and Amber because she’d just finished watching Sofia the First.

Of course she loved adding the decorations to her little pets and naming them and she did a little bit of the winding and cutting but quickly decided that it was more effort than she felt like putting into the project – but it took me only a couple of minutes to do the more involved steps. Her favorite part of the project may have been taking her new pets to the living room afterwards to watch more Sofia the First with them, but I’ll still consider this a successful morning project.

motherhood photography

ballet lessons: on overcoming her fears & the power of shoe therapy


When we arrived at the ballet studio of our local YMCA this morning, my brave and spirited little princess morphed into a distraught wallflower for possibly the first time in her life. I’m not sure if it was the strange room filled with new people, the glass wall that separated the mommies from the children or the fact that every other little girl there had clearly been to ballet classes before (quite the feat considering this was a pre-ballet class for kids 3-4 years old!). Little BB seemed totally thrown by their confidence and wanted nothing to do with them. She clung to my legs and sobbed when I tried to lead her into the classroom and pleaded that she didn’t want to do ballet after all and maybe she should just have a snack instead.

She has never been this girl – in the face of new adventures, she tends to be fearless and though she’s never quite been a social butterfly, she’s always been friendly and self confident. Did she not sleep well? Was she sick? Was she really terrified of trying something new? Is this a sign of things to come? My mind raced with possible reasons for her meltdown as I tried to think of a solution and also tried not to cry as my heart broke for her. My own inner struggles growing up, trying unsuccessfully sometimes to fit in when finding myself again and again the New Girl ran through my mind and the Warrior Mother within me tried to send telepathic messages of strength and resilience to her.

I insisted that she had to stay for class and sit with the other girls unless she wanted to go home. I bribed her with the promise of a cookie afterwards if she tried. I’m not proud, sometimes you just have to do what works. For a few minutes she did sit there with the other girls, arms crossed with the surliest expression the Midwest has ever seen. But when class started, she absolutely refused to join in. The teacher tried to break the ice with an extended hand and a cheerful encouragement to join the fun, but BB scowled at her, and turned to me as if to say, “I’ll sit in this room, but you can’t make me participate.” A few minutes later, having seemingly had her fill, she got up and walked out of the classroom, giving me her best pout as she coaxed her way back into my arms.

After a few minutes of quietly talking to her, I finally found the apparent source of her angst – the shoes. Those damned shoes. All the girls had them except her and BB found herself filled with envy or perhaps just a sense of not fitting in because of her lack of footwear. Isn’t she too young for this, I wondered? I’m sure as she gets older, we’ll have our battles over owning the right jeans or what length of skirt is acceptable. But at three and a half years old, it surprises me how important fashion is to my daughter. Clearly this was the source of our problem though because when I told her firmly that I wouldn’t buy her ballet slippers unless she participated in class, she nodded calmly, found her inner confidence and marched timidly back into class.

I won’t say that suddenly she morphed into a ballet savant, she continued to be somewhat hesitant in her involvement, but slowly with each passing minute, she eased into it and by the end of class she was smiling and confident again. I rewarded her participation with a trip to the adorable ballet store at the nearby shopping center where a very kind salesperson helped her pick out her first pair of ballet slippers and a new tutu to wear as well. A lot of the other girls were rocking leotards and tights also, but I decided to be somewhat frugal and start with the basics that I knew would win over my little fashionista ballerina.

It’s been an emotional day for both of us, but we came out of it with new shoes, a cute skirt and a happy girl with high hopes for next week’s class. I am very proud of her for overcoming whatever fears she found herself faced with this morning and for giving it a shot.

my girl

Is there anything that new shoes can’t fix?

family fun

What I’m Into Lately: April 29, 2013


You know how people say that beauty is all around us in tiny details and that we only need to look closely to find it? I was reminded of this again over the weekend when we were outside grilling dinner on Sunday and the kids were running around the yard playing with nothing in particular but having a blast and suddenly MM stops in front of a tree and says, “There is a heart on this tree!” He is filled with excitement at his discovery and I’ll admit, I didn’t even get up at first, thinking it would probably be a very loose interpretation of a heart and my dinner was delicious.

But hubby got up to check it out and when he also seemed impressed by the tree, I got up and lo and behold – there is a heart on our tree. It’s probably been there the whole entire time we’ve lived here and none of us ever noticed, never bothered to look. It was so beautiful, I of course had to photograph it pretty much immediately. MM decided he had to try to climb the tree pretty much immediately, using the heart as a hand hold ; and suddenly he and Dan were both climbing or pretending to climb trees and even BB wanted to get in on the action.

What’s that? Did I climb a tree, too? Don’t be ridiculous. But it was a beautiful moment, found by looking close enough to see it.

What I’m reading:

Pretty in Plaid by Jen LancasterPretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster, one of my fave authors and always sure to deliver when I need a good laugh kind of read.

“In Pretty in Plaid, Jen Lancaster reveals how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.”

TV show worth watching:

Is anyone else watching Mr. Selfridge on Masterpiece? I found it recording on my DVR because apparently my DVR is planning to record anything “Masterpiece” on PBS because of how it’s titled in their guide, but I’m actually kind of loving it. Jeremy Piven is so amazing as Mr. Selfridge and it’s an interesting time period to watch. It’s very much in a similar style to Downton Abbey in that the show revolves around a lengthy cast of characters but like Downton, it’s easy to follow after a short while and addictively fun.

In my ears:
So don’t laugh at me but I’m kind of loving Demi Lovato’s new song, Heart Attack. It’s true, my musical taste is often on par with your twelve year old. I like to think that it isn’t creepy or weird yet, but remind me to ask you again in ten years.
Items of Note:
Doc and I went back to puppy training over the weekend, this time just the two of us, and I have to say it went a lot better. I don’t know if it was because he’s older or because we’ve had him longer – or that it was our second class. I think another advantage we had going for us was that I didn’t have to juggle the kids also. The car rides there and back were the best I’ve ever taken with the dog, though I think he prefers riding with the kids in the backseat, it was so much less stressful getting him in and out of the car.
What I’m Looking Forward to:

BB has her first pre-ballet class today and I’m not sure who’s more excited. I hope she has fun and that it doesn’t turn out to be a disappointment. I’m thinking any excuse to wear a tutu and she’ll be totally in – it’s all about wardrobe, you know.

what are you into these days? Let me know in the comments below!


I’m officially awesome – and you can be, too!

reasons I'm awesome

I don’t win awards very often, but when I do, I tend to give them to myself. This is kind of like the mother of all obligatory awards just for participating.

Feel like you deserve an award today? Check out Thousands Under 90.

family fun high five for friday

high five for friday: april 26th


Happy Friday bloggy pals! It’s been a pretty busy week with a lot of sitting in waiting rooms and wishing I was drinking coffee (when I wasn’t drinking coffee). My car now has new all weather tires, a fresh oil change, new brake pads, no leaks in the transmission and it’s been freshly washed. And my bank account has a lot less money in it! But even in the most expensive, waiting room-filled weeks, there is some happy to be found. Here are my 5 photographed high points from this week:

1 : delicious coffee – is this one of my high fives every week? I suppose I wouldn’t be surprised. I sweetened mine a tad less this morning because I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake.
2 : weather warm enough for playing in the backyard, big girls who are nearly outgrowing the play structures they used last year.
3 : awesome waiting rooms and clever children – why doesn’t she organize her toys this nicely at home?
4 : playing with puppy – he is in his glory with a new toy (I took it away three minutes later because he’d already nearly destroyed it – clearly this is the problem with inexpensive dog toys)
5 : still reeling from the amazing Rebecca Loebe house concert last weekend – my kids are going to be pretty disappointed when we don’t have an insanely talented singer songwriter come and sing to them  waaaaay past their bedtimes this weekend.

Goals for today: go grocery shopping at the new to me grocery store in the next town, start the laundry (again, does it ever end?) and maybe wake up.

Goals for next week: take pictures of my son, sit in less waiting rooms, be outside more.

Have a great weekend guys!

 photo H54Fbutton-triangle_zps678b65ba.jpg

family fun motherhood

a place for everything and everything in its place? not quite.


We’ve been dealing a lot lately with the whole picking up your toys and caring for your things issue with BB. Obviously, looking at this picture of her playing with Duplo blocks at our car dealer’s waiting room – the girl can organize and has a sense of where things belong and such. But looking at her bedroom you would never know it. I have, quite frankly, thrown in the towel where her room is concerned. In the downstairs area, we have purchased large cabinets to store all their toys and MM’s is somewhat thoughtfully organized, as is his bedroom on a good day. I’m sure when he was BB’s age that his belongings were just as messy and his concept of cleaning was just as muddled.

The thing is, every time I try to help her – by bringing in some thing to help her clean her room – it just becomes a new thing for her to climb on and / or use as a step stool. She is fearless and too clever and innovative for her own good (and mine) and thus most of our organizing methods have not lasted long in her bedroom, the one place in the house where she is largely unsupervised.

She is growing more and more every day and every day she is smarter and capable of more. She talks more clearly, is more out going, learning new skills and impressing mommy constantly. I know these days are just another phase in her childhood that she will mostly outgrow and that someday I can buy her a bookshelf or a toy box without worrying that she’ll use it to scale the walls. But in the meantime, please don’t look at my daughter’s bedroom, because it’s a disaster area.

photography wordless wednesday

ww: first signs of spring

signs of spring

For more wordless fun, check out 5 minutes for mom – Don’t worry, I’ll try to talk your ear off tomorrow.

books & reading nightstand

Nightstand 2013: April

I feel like April kind of just started but it’s actually nearing the end of another month – and it’s time for the monthly What’s On Your Nightstand carnival hosted by 5 Minutes For Books. The premise of this blog carnival is pretty self explanatory – blog about the books you are reading, read recently and / or plan to read soon. What books are on your nightstand either literally or figuratively?

Since we last spoke of Nightstands together, I ended up abandoning The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling which you may have noticed I wasn’t enjoying very much. When it became clear that I wouldn’t finish in time for book club, and I found myself mustering through another chapter, I thought “Why am I doing this?” And I put it down and picked up the book I wanted to be reading. The writing in this book is good, the story… interesting. But there is not one single relate-able character who I could root for and it made it very hard to lose myself in the story and get invested in the ending. Plus, I had other books sitting impatiently waiting for me to read them instead. So I did.

This month I have read and loved both:

  1. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman – Finished April 10, 2013 – This book really resonated with me. There were aspects of French parenting that I thought made a lot of sense, some were surprising but great ideas and of course there were some that are just not for me – but I loved reading about how differently other cultures raise their kids and the potential pros and cons to different methods. I think there is a lot of positive things to be said for French parenting and I’ve already implemented some of these ideas in my own life or plan to soon. I loved the recipe for yogurt bread included in the book – my son and I made it for his birthday last week and it was delicious. – full review
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (April Book Club Pick) – Finished April 16, 2013 – LOVED this one. It was one of those awesome books filled with snark and sassy humor but with a plot that is heart wrenching and keeps you reading later into the night than your internal alarm clock would advise. Green does a good job of balancing the light with the heavy, so it was never more than I could bear but often came close. – full review

Pretty in Plaid by Jen LancasterRight now I’m reading Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster, an author that I quite frankly adore. Her books are witty and hilarious and cause me to stay up late into the night giggling and quoting passages out loud to my husband even though he’s sleeping. This book is all about “how she developed the hubris that perpetually gets her into trouble. Using fashion icons of her youth to tell her hilarious and insightful stories, readers will meet the girl she used to be.”

Since I’m in the thick of the Spring Reading Thing, the books I read next will be titles from my personal challenge. Here are the three I’m planning to read:

  1. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (May Book Club Pick) “Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.”
  2. The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen – Book two in a promising middle reader series, I’m very anxious to read this one. “A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen’s blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE! Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?
  3. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – Book two in the delirium series. I have to admit, I’ve been putting this book off because the end of book one is majorly depressing, but I am definitely anxious to see where the series will go from here and I think this reading challenge is a great excuse to force myself to soldier on. Here’s a description of book two but there are spoilers : “After falling in love, Lena and Alex flee their oppressive society where love is outlawed and everyone must receive the “cure” – an operation that makes them immune to the delirium of love – but Lena alone manages to find her way to a community of resistance fighters. Although she is bereft without the boy she loves, her struggles seem to be leading her toward a new love.”

What about you? What are you reading right now?