Friday, November 29, 2013

Five on Friday: Hubby's List

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with laughter, love, good food and family and friends to spend it with. As for me, I kicked off the day baking pies and going to the football game then rushed back home to get dinner rolling. We hosted Sean's mom and brother and stuffed ourselves silly. Topped the night off with a girls night out with Addie Mae to see Frozen.

I don't know about you, but I do not go anywhere near a store on Black Friday. No thanks. Instead, we enjoy the day with a hearty breakfast followed by an entire day of decorating for Christmas. But even though I'm not brave enough to venture out I'm still thinking about what to get people for Christmas. The most difficult person for me to shop for is my husband. Mostly because the things he really wants are out of my price range. Here are a few of my top picks this holiday season for the man in my life.

1. I didn't come up with this on my own. This drill set is something my hubby has been eyeballing. We'll have to see what Santa thinks!

2. My husband is a Bruins & Bobby Orr fan, but you can easily find any sports themed or city specific book to fit the men in your life.

3. If your guy likes to head out into the wilderness with the boys or spend long hours in the garage this would be the perfect gift (Caution: He might not come back anytime soon!)

4. Last year I bought a shaving kit and supplies for my hubby from The Art of Shaving. Nothing beats a man with a clean shave. I love my bearded man but when he is ready to shave it all off again he'll need a refill of this.

5. If you know a real outdoorsy kind of guy who loves the cold and chopping wood, consider this axe from Best Made Company. This is another item straight off of my hubby's wish list!

Are the men in your life as difficult as mine to shop for? What do you get your hubby? Dad? Brother? Leave a comment below - I need more (budget friendly) ideas! And if you missed my lists for the kiddos click here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Linen Closet Upgrade

Last week I shared with you my coat closet makeover. It was a big mess that could not be avoided any longer. Our linen closet is actually in decent shape but needed a little upgrade. I had a few things that could be moved into storage (Mason has outgrown the infant tub and Addie has declared herself a big girl and can use the toilet without assistance now, hooray!) and a few things that could be neatened up a bit. Overall, though, it was fairly clean & organized! Take a look...


It needed something. I know where all of the essentials are: cold medicine, band aids, swim diapers, etc. but I wanted to make sure hubby and our sitter knew too, without them having to dig through all of the drawers & containers. A few months ago I used my Staples rewards dollars to pick up these Martha Stewart bookplates and her metal rimmed tags.  Quick and easy to apply they make any space look neat & organized! 

1. I used the larger size bookplates to label the bins (mine store swim suits, beach towels, & pool gear.)

2. The smaller ones were perfect for labeling what was in our drawers.

"Runny Nose" - all things cold related
"Boo Boos" - Band Aids, gauze, Neosporin, etc.
"Mani/Pedi" - nail polish, nail scissors, etc. 
"On the Road" - travel size toiletries & samples
"Lotions & Creams" - for our dry skin needs
"Pearly Whites" - extra toothbrushes, toothpaste & floss

3. The kiddos each have their own basket, marked with their name, for their washcloths. 

Much better, don't you think?

If you have a few extra days off of work over Thanksgiving this is the perfect little project for organizing your home. These labels would work great in your pantry, play area or garage too! I'm sure there will be some Black Friday deals at Staples, too! Happy organizing, er, I mean Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Keep Calm and be a Stay at Home Mama

I am so excited to host Andrea from Hand and the Heart today! She is a beautiful wife, and mama to son Ben, and is here to share her experiences as a stay at home mom as part of the Keep Calm and Mommy On series we kicked off last week to support real moms doing really tough jobs! I hope you enjoy reading about her life as a mom as much as I did! Her line below about moms rallying together to support one another really summarizes what this series is all about! I'd love for you to share your story and experiences. Contact me here for more information! 

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Hi friends! I'm Andrea and I write over at Hand and the Heart. I'm so humbled that Michaela asked me to contribute to this fabulous series about motherhood! I've talked about this before, but I think it's so important to break down all these silly barriers we have and understand that mothers would lay their life down for their children. So while some of us might stay home, and others work outside of the house, there are no real differences between us at all when you look at it from that perspective. The motherhood journey is already crazy and confusing enough without all the judgement and hate.

I spent my entire life working or going to school. My last two years as a working professional were spent teaching fifth grade at a high achieving school, all the while finishing my Masters degree. To think that I could have a baby and "just" stay home seemed absurd. What would I do with my time? (Ha!) Would it be enough? I was tempted to take a dream position teaching part time literacy. Going back to work that fall would force me back only eight weeks after my baby was born. It's a real crime that our country doesn't value the sensitive bonding period between a mother and her child, or acknowledge that by becoming a mother, you can no longer be the same woman you were before. But being the naive pregnant woman that I was, I figured that would be just fine. My mom could watch the baby in the mornings, I could pump at work, and all would be well.

But near the end of the school year in June, I was driving to work down our beautiful rural road, absentmindedly rubbing my belly, and it occurred to me that in the future I wouldn't only be making this drive to work, but I would also be driving away from my son. I turned down the job offer and made peace with my new 'career' as a stay at home mom. I think by the grace of God and support of my husband did I make the right decision. That first year with our son was really, really difficult for us. Our planned drug-free, natural birth ended in an unexpected cesarean. The recovery was rough, I had post partum depression, and my son and I struggled with breastfeeding for the first eight months. I could not have handled the work on top of the work.

I am so grateful I chose this path. Not only because of the hardship it would have been for me to be pulled in different directions as a wife, mother, and working professional, but also because I truly love being home. I love my job as a stay at home mama. I love knowing every little thing my son learns or does during the day. I love getting him up from his nap. I love hearing him say "ma ma ma ma ma ma" all day long (well...mostly). I love wiping up the snot, reading the books, and taking him on adventures outside to throw rocks and dig through the leaves. I can't imagine giving that responsibility to someone else. Don't get me wrong, some days when the pre-toddler 'tude is out in full force, I dream of leaving him with someone I trust and driving off to a land of adult conversation, trading in my pajamas bottoms for skirts, and my unpaid job for one with a few more dollar signs in front of it. But at the end of the day, even the trying ones, I just know me. I know I couldn't leave him with anyone else.

Like Michaela mentioned last week, she was greatly inspired by her own mother. This too is one of my reasons for choosing to stay home and raise my son. I appreciate the sacrifice my own mom made to give up a career in lieu of raising me. Some of my most wonderful and treasured childhood memories were made by my mom's ever presence in my life. Financially, things might be a bit tighter for us, but I think we can all live the life we choose to make for ourselves. I know some women absolutely don't have a choice because they are a single parent or have other circumstances, and I am grateful that the choice for me to work or stay home wasn't forced by outside factors.

My son Ben is now 14 months old, and while he is still nursing twice a day, I made the decision to get back into the classroom from time to time. I've been guest teaching for friends and former colleagues every couple of weeks. I truly believe that being a stay at home mom is the most incredible and downright difficult job I've ever had. And while I don't mean to compare myself to a full-time working mom, this opportunity to be away from my son while subbing for 9 hours a day really gave me a new perspective and I applaud and commend the full-time working mamas. The sheer exhaustion, organization, and emotional juggling is tough! I think I can summarize this point by saying it would do us all well to genuinely and simply support one another's decisions and rally together as mothers. Our kids need to see women who stay and take care of their home, and women who work and plow the way for others. Mostly, our kids need to see us happy and secure in our choices, whatever they might be.

It has saddened me to receive so much unsupportive feedback about my decision to stay home, as if this job isn't worthy. I am a stay at home mom with a bachelors degree in journalism and a Masters degree in education. Years of school later and I'm dressed in my yoga pants, hair in a ratty bun with dark circles under my eyes nursing and playing with my son all day. And some days it's glorious. And somedays it's boring. And somedays it's really really hard. But all of the days I am grateful I am here. I would willingly make this selfless sacrifice time and time again.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Five on Friday: Addie's Wish List

I am excited to share my childhood dream wish list Addie's holiday wish list with you this week for my Five on Friday. If you missed Mason's last week you can see it here. While I don't want to spoil my sweet girl it is still fun to explore catalogs and shop online with her to see what kinds of things she is interested in. Addison is at such a fun age and if it were up to her she would have one of everything from the Disney Store or Target.I know my little girl pretty well though and although she loves a good toy she is also incredibly creative, imaginative and she loves the great outdoors (like her daddy she doesn't mind the cold weather!).

1. I love the idea of a tent for the kiddos to play in but this canopy set from Land of Nod would be absolutely perfect for her room. A peaceful little retreat for reading her books and getting a little quiet time away from her baby brother. And, the fact that it has a gold confetti design? Right up my, I mean, Addison's alley!

2. This one is all her! She is completely and totally 100% into princesses right now. She's been eyeing Cinderella's Castle for a few months now. We'll have to see what Santa thinks!

3. I much prefer the idea of a multipurpose dollhouse, like this one. It looks like it can accommodate small dolls right up to Barbie size and doubles as a bookshelf! This is a little pricey but I bet hubby and I could get our inner craftsmanship going and construct our own version.

4. My sweet girl, like her daddy, loves the cold and the snow. So she is going to need a new pair of boots if we're going to be out building snowmen and hiking the trails this winter. I love my bogs, so naturally, mini me should have a pair too! LL. Bean has this adorable pattern.

5. Addie is a painting, coloring, decorating, crafting fool (like her mama!). We're pretty good on supplies right now but I love these paint brushes and table top paper holder. It would be the perfect addition to this kid friendly space I created for Addie a few months ago.

Do you have a little princess that you need to do some holiday shopping for? What are your favorite go-to gifts? Do you set a budget? How much is too much when it comes to buying your children's gifts? Do you prefer store bought or handmade? I love anything handmade and there is no shortage of handmade one-of-a-kind prints at our house with little Addie Mae around! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Coat Closet Makeover

It is no secret that I'm a neat and orderly kinda gal. In fact, most of my friends and family would argue that I'm borderline obsessive when it comes to cleaning and organization. So I'm really going to shock the socks of the people who know me best when they see what the inside of our coat closet looked like up until a few weekends ago! This space became the "catch-all" location for random things that didn't have a home when we first moved into the new house. It was too easy (and therefore became habit) to just toss homeless & random items in there anytime I needed to pick up. Now that there is a chill in the air and winter is on it's way it was high time I tackled the coat closet!

Yikes! As you can see - this closet was a mess! Between winter gear, fabric I purchased for our living room curtains, diaper bags, Addie's puzzles, picture frames, a moose head, empty boxes & baskets and the mismatched hangers it's no wonder I put this closet off for so long!

The best way I know how to clean a mess is to make an even bigger mess! I pulled everything out of the closet and dumped it all out in our living room floor. I picked up these boxes for storing hats, scarves, gloves & accessories and purchased these hangers to get the fresh, clean & matching look I was going for. Only coats & outdoor gear were allowed back in! Anything that was leftover had to find a permanent home elsewhere!

The Kassett boxes from Ikea were perfect for sorting & separating our winter accessories. We each have a box with our name on it. When the weather is warm again I can swap out the winter gear for sun hats & flip flops! There are a few extra hangers that can be used for guests when they come over.

I love the look of the white hangers and couldn't resist using this little crate (a HomeGoods find) for our rain boots & umbrellas. Do you have any small areas of your home that could use a little organizational makeover? And don't forget to cast your nomination for November's Mommy of the Month!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Keep Calm and Mommy On: New Series for Real Moms

Whether you stay at home, work in an office, work part time or full time, work from the home or on the road, there is one thing we all have in common: we are all full time moms. Motherhood requires a very special and unique skill set. Boogie wiper, nurse, amateur chef, teacher, master of folding laundry, play date planner, and chauffeur.  We do it all and usually on very little sleep and sometimes with what may feel like little or no support. (Side note: Not a dig at the hubs. He is amazing. But, there are certain things that only a mama can do or relate to!)

Motherhood is a beautiful thing and should be celebrated and supported. Our values may differ and our styles vary but we do what we do for our family and for our children. At the end of the day it doesn't matter if you work or if you stay at home, or if you are balancing something in between. What matters is that you are making the right choice for you and your family. I am excited to return to my original vision for my blog with a new series that embraces & celebrates motherhood. The self-titled series “Keep Calm and Mommy On” will be a collection of personal anecdotes, guest posts, resources and support for moms everywhere. More importantly it is a judgement free zone for moms to share their story, seek support, shed tears, have a few laughs and build community. Real stories. Real life. Real moms.

To kick off the series I want to begin by breaking down the barriers between working and stay at home mamas. Today I'm sharing where my decision to be a working mama stems from. Stay at home mama Andrea, from Hand and the Heart will be here next week sharing her story. Many mamas, are fortunate enough to be able to choose if they want to work or stay home. Others might have to do one or the other depending on their family or financial situation. I am lucky enough that I get to choose - and I made the decision to go back to work after each of my little loves was born.

As a high school assistant principal I spend every day juggling my responsibilities at school with the needs of my family at home. Weekdays are hectic and rushed but I balance that with quality time in the evenings and on weekends with my little ones. I absolutely love my family but I also love what I do. Thanks to an amazing and supportive hubby I get to do both. I choose to be a working mama. My inspiration? My own supermom of a mama! Growing up she made being a mom and a career woman look so easy. Having a mom who worked full time but still made every moment of my childhood magical is why I never even considered anything but continuing to work after having children.

Some days are definitely more of a struggle than others and I'll be sure to share all of my own pros and cons, and the guilt of being a working mom with you through this series! But I want to hear your stories too! What kind of a mama would you describe yourself as? Do you ever feel like you are being judged for either being a working mama or for being a stay at home mama? What are some of the stereotypes that you would love to put an end to?! Leave your comment below - remember, this is a judgement free and supportive zone!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five on Friday: Mason's Wish List

I decided to add my own little holiday twist to the ever popular Five on Friday posts. I am truly grateful for my perfect little family and our beautiful home and really that is all I need in life. It is still fun, however, to make a wish list of the things we want! This week I'm sharing the five things on our little man's list to Santa:

1. LL Bean Infant/Toddler Puffer Jacket

2. Crane with Blocks from Ikea

3. Virre Indoor Slide from Ikea

4. Green Toys Dump Truck available at Target

5. Land of Nod's Wooden Tool Set

What is on your little one's wish list this year? Stop by next Friday and I'll share with you Addie's top picks! 

P.S. I'm linking up with some other great mom-bloggers today! Check them out!

Joyful Life

Monday, November 11, 2013

10 Months

I am refusing to accept the fact that my sweet little baby boy is 10 months old already. This year is flying by way to quickly for this mama! Our monthly pictures continue to get harder for me to capture because this little guy is constantly on the move. He is starting to walk already - taking up to 4 quick steps before falling back down into crawl mode. I'm giving him until Thanksgiving to have this whole walking thing down.

Want to catch up on the last few months? Click here for more month by month photos of my little man. 

The only bright side to my baby love getting one month closer to the big O-N-E is that I can officially enter party mode! Anyone who knows me knows that his first birthday party theme has been in the works since before he was born. But now that we are just two months out, and because the holidays are going to be crazy busy, I have no choice but to start working on the planning & prepping now! I can't wait to share all of the details with you!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honoring Our Veterans

Today is so much more than a day off of work. Today we pause to honor the brave men and woman who have served our great country. As a daughter of a Veteran, and as someone who grew up on military bases, days like today hold special significance and importance. Add to that the fact that I'm a former history teacher - you know, the whole Armistice thing, it's kind of a big deal. I took these pictures of Old Glory while we were down the Cape and I thought they'd be perfect to share with you today. The flag is torn and is scheduled to be replaced but i love the way it contrasts against the blue sky. 

Thank you to all who have served the United States of America, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. And thank you to the wives, husbands, children and parents of the men and women who serve today. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Good Week & Winner of My 1st Giveaway!

I haven't posted anything new this week but boy it's been a good one. Like, a really good week. We're talking the I cooked dinner each day, built a fairy house, baked cookies, did laundry and kept the house clean, got the kiddos to bed on time each night and even worked a late night at work kinda week. 

I should have taken good notes!

Motherhood is a funny thing. Some days I feel so incredibly overwhelmed and I'm in up to my elbows. Others I rock the whole mama gig and feel like supermom. This was a super mom kind of week. How about you? How was your week? Was it a tough one? Or did you luck out like me? Give us a recap in the comment section below.


I am so excited to announce the winner of my first ever blog giveaway! Thank you again to Three Chicks Bakery, Hattie Designs and Tupperware for hosting this great raffle.  If you are looking for any holiday sweets or treats definitely check theses great businesses out. You won't regret it! Today's winner is going to receive the following amazing prizes:

$50.00 Gift Certificate to Three Chicks Bakery

$20.00 Gift Certificate to Hattie Designs

And without further ado....the winner is:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It's the Little Things

It's the little things that count. 

Like stopping to pick up leaves in the parking lot. Slowing down long enough to find the perfect one. It doesn't matter that it's cold. It doesn't matter that it's windy. It doesn't matter that we still have more errands to run or that my hands are full. 

What matters is that pausing, even for just a minute, to pick up leaves or watch a caterpillar crawl, or spot an airplane flying overhead or searching for the perfect rock is what they'll remember at the end of the day. 

It's the little things that count. And that is what its all about.