Monday, November 30, 2015

Under Pressure

Everyone has stress and would probably say they stress about something.  I feel like I'm not a stressed out type of person and I try to manage everything to avoid feeling unnecessarily stressed.

However, I feel this intense mom pressure.

I've only been a Mom for a short time and I find myself feeling pressure from family, friends and complete strangers to do more, do less, sign up for, get involved in and to avoid certain things.  Pressure to research baby purchases on-line for hours before buying, pressure to use certain brands and avoid others, pressure about organics, eco friendly and evening pressure about what items should be in your nursery.  Pressures about baby food, feeding techniques, pacifiers, Basically, you name it and someone has a very strong opinion about it all in the name of "What's best for baby".

It's slightly comical because what's best for your baby is not what's best for every baby.  Babies are so different and every mom has to decide what is best for HER BABY and HER FAMILY.  I'm always hesitant to give advice, but am happy to give suggestions about what worked best for me.  It is standard protocol to start talking shop when you are with other moms.  Talking about the latest products, favorite foods, milestones, etc all happen when you get moms together.

I always try to be the mom that's positive, points out the best and tries to be encouraging.  I'd like to think that I do that in my personal life as well as my mom life.  I enjoy making new mom friends and it's easy to relate to others who are at similar stages of life.  It's also much more encouraging to talk to other moms who are in the trenches with you when everyone shares what works for them without judging.

It seems as though people are eager to give moms advice of all kinds.  Some of it is sweet and some can be rude.  I see it happening all over social media.  People will post a cute picture of their child and then random people will make comments about medical conditions, toy hazards and make a whole slew of comments that are pretty judgmental.  I end up feeling bad for the person who just posted an innocent picture and got bombarded with judgement.

I feel like my mind is always busily thinking of things related to Olive.

Am I spending enough time reading to Olive?
What's the perfect amount of PBS watching?
Is she eating enough veggies?
Why does she seem to avoid meat or certain foods?
Have I toddler proofed things enough?
Could I be doing more with her or for her?
Is this really the safest car seat?
Are her language skills up to par?
Is she interacting with other kids? 
Is she on the wait list for a preschool?
Have we made decisions about her schooling?
Are we reading enough? 
Is she throwing too many fits?
Is this just normal toddlerhood?
Best age for swim lessons?
And all things relate to potty training, pacis and balanced diets.

I think doubt and questioning are a normal part of life, especially when you are just starting out or entering new territory/age.  I imagine with baby #2 that I'll find myself feeling more comfortable in my own skin and questioning less.  I am already noticing that to be true after 2.5 years of parenting most days.  I'm becoming more confident in our decisions and ready to stand up for what is best for our family.  I'm hoping that I can always say that's the case as I become a more experienced parent.

I thought this was an interesting article on Moms and opinions

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Recipe Club: Hearty Chili Soup

The chili recipe I'm sharing with you today is our current favorite.  It's based on my MIL's chili recipe and then I added in several more things.  I love to squeeze as many veggies into our chili as possible so here's my recipe.

 1 yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 orange pepper
*all finely chopped

1 diced tomato or can of diced tomatoes
1 lb cooked ground chicken
1 can tomato soup
1 can water
1 T sugar
2 T chili powder
1 large can Brooks Quick Cook Chili Beans*
* I had a hard time finding the Brooks brand in the South, but it seems to be plentiful in the Midwest.  Substitute for another similar quick cook chili beans if you can't find it.

Combine all ingredients and let simmer for at least one hour.
The longer it cooks the better it tastes.

Top with sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese and Fritos.

Picture directions:

This recipe isn't the easiest to include your kids on so I opted to entertain my toddler with a wide variety of kitchen tools.  She was fascinated by the can opener :)

We love having this chili soup for game day meals!
It's so easy to make ahead and then everyone can serve themselves during the game.

Burgers are always a hit when we're watching games.
My husband grills and I make some yummy sides.
Raspberries & homemade sweet potato chips for the win today!!
I just wash, peel and evenly slice the sweet potatoes.
Bake them at 425 for 20 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 10 or so minutes.  Salt when they come out of the oven and they are so tasty! 

I hope you have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love most.
I'm thankful for you and always appreciate your love for my blog.
I'm signing off for the rest of the week to enjoy my family, some delicious food 
and maybe even a little shopping.
See you back here on Monday :)

Linking up for Recipe Club with Momfessionals today

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Talk: Organizing Your Christmas

(Christmas 2014)
I love organizing - anything and everything so the holidays just give me another opportunity to organize fun things for my family and friends.  I have a great system that has been working for me for several years.  I thought it was high time I shared my organizational tips for this time of year with you!

I keep an excel spreadsheet on my computer and print it out to use.  I update it on the computer once a year and make little notes, add new babies or cross things out throughout the year.  I also put a dot by every name as I address their card envelope, highlight their name when they send me a card & confirm their address.  This helps me to know who sends cards and who doesn't from year to year.  I rarely remove someone from the list and find that my list grows from year to year as we make new friends.  I love keeping in touch with people this way and I always get feedback that people enjoy seeing how our family is changing, where we are living and such. 
Do you mail out cards every year?  My mom started doing photo Christmas cards 30+ years ago long before they were ever popular and I've been continuing the tradition with my own family ever since.

I am a paper planner person all the way.  I cannot wrap my head around keeping my planner on my phone and not writing everything down.  Maybe one day I will, but I really can't see it happening.  I keep gift lists in the back of my planner for the year for birthdays and for Christmas.  I also write out wish lists for myself, my hubby and for Olive since our families often ask for suggestions.

My system is easy to maintain, handy and works really well for me.
I list all the names of people we buy for on both sides of the family.
I pencil in gift ideas with my husband after we brainstorm for a bit.
We set a gift buying budget for each category of people and I make note of that by their name.
Then I start shopping - online, in person or Kevin does it.
As I start buying gifts, I write the gift and the cost.
When I'm done with that person I highlight their gifts and their name in yellow.
I then move onto the names that aren't highlighted.
I buy for the majority of our people and assign Kevin just a handful of people to pick up things for.
(a mock up of my gift buying checklist)
Once the gift buying is done, then I start wrapping.
This will be the first year that I'm going to try hard to get everything wrapped, tagged and ready to go well in advance.  I keep all the gifts sorted by side of the family/event they are going to - Christmas Eve, my family, Christmas lunch, etc.  We are always out of town for Christmas and presorting the gifts keeps me from having to dig through presents the day of an event.

I also wrote a post last year with 8 Tips to Simplify Your Christmas Shopping
that might be helpful to you this year.

We establish our gift giving routines early in the year so that we are able to start shopping for people weeks if not months in advance.  On Kevin's side of the family, we buy for everyone.  He's got grandparents, parents, siblings and nieces/nephews.  On my side of the family, we give my parents dinner gift cards, do not exchange sibling gifts and then focus our attention on a Cousin Christmas exchange.  
I've volunteered to be in charge of coordinating all the details for the last few years because I love it.  There are 8 little cousins this year so it makes for an even exchange.  Last year there were 7 so we added my parent's dog into the mix to make sure everyone got a gift.  I either write out the letters or type them out, personalize them for each child and decorate the envelope.  Last year I put snowflake confetti in them and this year I had Olive help me decorate the envelopes with Christmas colors.

We set a budget, send three different gift ideas for our cousins and start our shopping.  We wrap all the gifts and this year we are going to make sure that the cousin slow down a bit and hand deliver the gifts for each kiddo to open Christmas night.

I was inspired to sit down and write out my systems after seeing my bloggy friend Whitney @ Come Home for Comfort do a vlog of her Christmas organizing.  Go over and check out her systems!

How do you keep yourself organized for the holidays??
It's time to link up with my favorite ladies!!
Join us with you best post from the week.
Keri - Living In This Season  ~ Christina - Waltzing In Beauty
Lauren - Simply Free ~  Becky - BYBMG
Jess and Katie - Sweet Little Ones ~ Whitney - Polka Dotty Place
Laura - Life Is Beautiful ~ Elizabeth - All Kinds Of Things
Sarah - Abiding In Grace ~ Stephanie - Wife Mommy Me
Polka-Dotty Place

Monday, November 23, 2015

4 Things

Happy Monday!!  Hope you had a great weekend and are excited for some Thanksgiving festivities this week.  I'm mostly excited about pie and some delicious meals with our families.

I was inspired by the 3 Things posts I see Momfessionals writing so I thought I'd do one of my own today (except I don't care for odd numbers so I opted to go with four things).
Here are 4 things that are true for each of us RIGHT NOW. 

1. The declared the best part of his job is that he gets to read all the time - for pleasure, for class and in his area of expertise Psychology.  This is also the guy who often took 21 credit hours per semester in college because "Did you know that they charge you the same tuition if you take 18 or 21 hours?!?"  He's a cute nerdy guy :)

2. He loves sampling craft beer and gets so excited to hunt down a new variety.  He'll text pictures of his latest IPA finds to friends and it's his favorite hobby.  Our fridge has a craft beer section and he's pretty proud of it.

3. Kevin has recently discovered Starbucks Iced Coffee in the glass bottles at the store.  The Coffee + Milk version is his favorite and I've only seen them sold individually.  It's low calorie - 100 calories per bottle and it's $1-$1.50 a bottle.  Much cheaper than swinging through Starbucks every day and they are actually delicious.  I'm not a huge coffee drinker, but these are tasty.

4. Thankful for: slip on dress shoes.  He's gotten several pairs lately and has decided that they are far superior to other dress shoes.

1. I am thrilled to have reorganized all of my Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving decor in storage containers.  Most people get excited to buy Halloween candy or costumes on clearance, but I get excited to buy holiday storage bins on clearance.

2. I'm starting to think about fake wedding ring shopping - my wedding band is getting tight and I don't think it's going to remain on my finger for my whole pregnancy #2.  I'm excited to pick out a new, fake set to wear for a while :)

3. This is my 20th week of pregnancy and I had a mini panic moment because A. this pregnancy is flying by, B. we're going to have a new baby at our house in less than 20 weeks and C. Am I ready to be responsible for two little people??  Hopefully, yes and hopefully we start getting some baby related things done soon.

4. Thankful for: All of our upcoming holiday plans with family.

1. She refuses to wear any pants that aren't leggings.  I put her in a pair of pants with ruffles at the feet the other day and she laid on the floor refusing to move until they were removed from her body.

2. She is currently working hard to memorize lines of songs, phrases and repeats everything she hears.  She twirls around singing songs and dancing all day.

3. Olive has been on art making machine lately.  She found out how to get paper from our printer, colors beautiful masterpieces in her preferred medium of crayon and then sweetly demands I hang them up.  She has currently covered the bulletin board over my desk, our fridge, I've mailed out a huge stack to family members and we are working on Thanksgiving cards now.  I think I'll have enough to wallpaper her bathroom with them by the end of the year.  It's very sweet and fun to see her being so creative.

4. Thankful for: Bath time and always asks when we are going back to the ocean.

What's something that's true for you right now??

Linking up with Still Being Molly today

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Highlights

It was a wonderful birthday week at my house.  Lots of yummy food, fun with family and cheesecake for dessert.  The weather has been cool and it's been great to wear lots of layers.  My hubby got the "man flu" aka a cold this week so he was a bit under the weather.  He's feeling much better now, no one else seems to have caught his cold and we are looking forward to a little weekend getaway to Chicago.

The BEST parts of my week were:

1. I got a new Kate Spade diaper bag for my birthday from my hubby!!  We picked it out during the last big sale and it's so pretty!  It's the exact same style I've been carrying for the last 2.5 years and I can't wait to start using it when baby boy arrives in April.  Any birthday that includes a little Kate is a good one in my book :)

2. I did a little birthday clothes shopping for myself this year.  I've been wanting a new vest and when I saw this polk-dotted one at Kohls I knew it was perfect.  It was on sale for less than $20, is thin yet warm and comes in 16 different patterns/colors!!  I also picked up some new maternity pants, cardigan and striped cowl neck sweatshirt at Motherhood that will be perfect for Fall & Winter.
via kohls

3. It was my first birthday that Olive really understood what was going on.  She kept smiling and saying "Happy Burf Day Mama!" all week long.  She made me a card, helped me open gifts and was introduced to cheesecake for the first time.  Her reaction was, "I lub cheese cake!!"  It's my favorite treat and I always love picking up one of those cheesecake assortment packs where you get to try 6-8 different flavors.  I tucked her into bed on the night of my birthday and her last words before falling asleep were "I lub you.  Happy Burf Day Mama" completely on her own.  I may have cried a little bit at her sweet goodnight send off to me.

4. I have got PIE on the brain this time of year!  I can't wait to make and eat some delicious pie next week.  I wrote out my tips for Pie Perfection earlier this week.  I'm planning ot make a pecan, pumpkin and maybe try a new recipe for a pumpkin chocolate chip pie this year.  What's your favorite pie to eat at Thanksgiving??

5. My parents came in town for the day to celebrate my birthday.  Olive was convinced that they were here to see her and she probably wasn't too far off.  Grand kids trump kids most days :)  We shopped, Olive took a car nap with Papaw, drove around to look at houses and then grabbed dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Olive ate her weight in peanuts and then we enjoyed a delicious dinner.  Mimi also taught her the art of blowing your straw paper.  Olive doesn't mess around and ended up shooting paper at a nearby table.  Thanks for the new party trick, Mimi :)
Any fun plans for your weekend?  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving for KIDS

I love planning holiday things for kids to do and it was always one of my favorite things to do when I was teaching.  I thought I'd share some turkey activities today that would be fun for lots of ages since Thanksgiving is just one week away!!  I can almost smell the pies baking, the turkeys roasting and all those delicious sides waiting to be eaten :)

Glittery Hand Print Turkey Cards:
We did these hand print turkeys when Olive was an infant.  I used glitter tissue paper and we made Thanksgiving cards for our families.  She loved having her hand traced and I loved documenting her tiny hand.
My original post here

Do a Step by Step drawing of a turkey:
Give kids directions one at a time to draw their own turkey.
Something like this could be your inspiration and then it's really fun to see how the kids interpret your directions to make their own unique turkeys.

Water Color Turkeys:
We did this project last year and it was very doable with a one year old.  I let her paint tons of pages of white paper with water colors and then traced her hand print to make turkeys.  She loved painting and the little turkeys made the cutest cards.
My original post here

Turkeys in Disguise:
Ask your kids to come up with a costume to disguise their turkey and save them from becoming Thanksgiving dinner.  I'd assign this for homework to my students and they'd come back with the cutest turkeys.  I'd then ask them to write a short story about how their costume saved their life.
My original post here

Turkey Recipes According to KIDS:
Ask your kids to write out a RECIPE on how to prepare a turkey.
It's hilarious the things they come up with and their methods for cooking the turkey.
I didn't give much help other than a word bank of ingredient options to my third graders.
You could even dictate the recipe your younger children tell you and then compare it from year to year.  My original post here 

 These are some fun Thanksgiving books to read with your kids

I have plans to do a painting / turkey project with Olive this weekend!

 What fun Thanksgiving inspired things do you do this time of year??

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Good Reads

Unrelated picture that had to be shared with you as a favorite today: 
Norman the squirrel is a favorite at our house.  He's happy to be making his bloggy debut - isn't he the cutest, chubbiest things you've ever seen??  We are NUTS about Norman :)  He comes up to visit us on the patio every day.  My cats and toddler adore him and I'm pretty sure he has mastered the art of posing for a picture.

It's time for my monthly good reads round up.  
I have read lots of fun things this month so I hope you enjoy my favorites. 

I'd LOVE to give these Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Marshmallows from Style Elixir a try this year.  They look delicious, are so pretty and sound really doable.

Lauren Elizabeth's skin always looks fabulous so I bought some Urban Decay De Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray to set my finished make up each day.  I'm hoping it'll live up to its hype to help my make up last all day and look as great as hers does.

I really enjoyed this perspective from Cupcakes and Cashmere on Social Media vs. Real Life and how they are different.  I feel like social media is the highlight reel of people's lives and I am always aware of that.  Her thoughts on the subject were great.

Have you ever heard of The Kindness Elves from The Imagination Tree?  I just read a great blog post about this alternative to Elf on the Shelf and LOVED it!  I'm not an Elf on the Shelf hater, but this Kindness Elf project really spoke to me and would be such a fun thing to incorporate into your holiday traditions.  I've already purchased our elves and will have to post about the kind/service things we are doing in December.

I always learn so much from Kate at The Small Things Blog.  Her hair tutorials are so well done and I love seeing her techniques.  Her Polished and Volumized Ponytail is the perfect look for scarf wearing season.

Pasta salad is always a delicious side in my book, but this Tortellini Pasta Salad from Christina Lea Loves could stand alone as a meal.  It sounds amazing and would really be great for tailgating or football gatherings.  I think my family would enjoy it, too.

Joey from Hodges Podges wrote a really great post about Real Talk: Marriage, Babies and Family that helped bring awareness to the idea of having kids, couples struggling with infertility and how insensitive people can be.

I've never been a huge pumpkin pie fan, but I might have to rethink my stance on the matter after seeing this recipe for Mom's Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie from Crazy for Crust.

This article on Over Parenting by Emma Brown from The Washington Post was fascinating and eye opening.  I loved reading the perspective of the ex-Stanford dean on this helicopter issue today.

I got a copy of Good Night, Little Love in the mail this week.  I was drawn to the cover of a mother bunny tucking her baby bunny into bed.  The illustrations are so sweet and so is the story.  The illustrations are great throughout, it has rhyming text and repetitive lines of the book so your kids will quickly catch on to read the book with you.  There is so much to talk about on every page.  It's the perfect story to read with your little ones before tucking them into bed at night.  My daughter loves it and I'd highly recommend it for any bedtime routine.
*I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review of it.

Have you read or written anything great this month?
Share a link with me in the comments.

wiww: Maternity Edition

 I finally took the time to have my husband shoot some outfit pictures for me.  It's tricky to take outfit pictures during the day, it's getting dark so early so I really have ot plan out a time to snap a few pictures.  I'm hoping to making more of an effort in the coming months to A. document my growing baby bump - 19 weeks and B. Give myself some accountability for putting together cute outfits.  It's definitely possible to put together stylish looks that work for everyday moms.  I've been making more of an effort lately to change up my scarves, wear cute boots and fun accessories so it's nice to document it.  

My favorite looks of the week:

// Chambray //
Chambray shirts are so easy to wear and I've worn this one with corduroys. black pants and colored skinnies.  It's so easy to throw together an outfit around it.
Chambray shirt - Old Navy
black pants - Motherhood Maternity Secret Fit Skinny (NEW)
gray booties - Mejier (NEW)
statement earrings - Wal-Mart (NEW)  
gold stacking bracelets - Kate Spade & Misc

 // Pattern Mixing //
Strips and animal print is such an easy combo right now.  I've worn this dress so much this fall and it's the comfiest thing ever.  The only thing I'd change about it would be to add pockets.
dress - Old Navy (NEW)
scarf - Wal-Mart
earrings - Kate Spade 
tights - Spanx from Kohls (NEW)
leopard flats - GAP

This cutie wanted in on the fashion photo shoot.
Olive is wearing: top & leggings from Target & patent boots from Meijer

Thanks for stopping by my blog!!