Happy 2015!

We rang in the New Year with our family and a few close friends. It was a great start to 2015!
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cotton candy

SPARKLY COTTON CANDY = SPARKLY DRINKS

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And the one that couldn’t quite make it ’til midnight…
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Happy New Year Everyone!

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Happy Christmas Eve!

We are so blessed this year! We get to spend Christmas Eve with our families and children, eating good food and enjoying great company.

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Tonight we will pack a care package for our little Elf on the Shelf, Elsa, and send her back to Santa.  Our kids will open their special Christmas Eve gift which is always new pj’s, popcorn, hot coco, ice-cream treat and a new Christmas themed movie.

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Our little family will snuggle in and watch the movie before bed. After we will place a key for Santa on the door.

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We will get out our special cookie plate and cup and set out fresh made cookies and a tall glass of ice-cold milk for Santa and some carrots for his reindeers. Then it is off to bed to dream of sleigh-bells and magic, I ❤ this time of year!

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Ready to Pop

One of my favorite gifts to bring newbie parents in the hospital is Champagne. When our first child was born we brought a bottle with us and had the nurses put it in the fridge. After her birth we celebrated with intimate family and friends. It truly was a special way to welcome our new addition and one of my favorite memories of her birthday.  IMG_2154
This is one of the cutest bubblies I have found to bring the parents (especially if they have a girl). It is Barefoot brand and the little foot is just too precious. They also make mini bottles which are great if you don’t want to bring glasses to the hospital so everyone can have their own “baby” bottle.

Here is the gift tag I tie on the bottle. Enjoy 🙂

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Hey Where’d Everybody Go?

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There was recently a post I read about Why Once We Become Parents We Don’t Want to Hang Out With You Anymore... and well a lot of what this blogger said rings true with me it doesn’t mean EVER! It seems that once you have a child when many of your friends are kidless you become an outcast. It’s like you caught a disease and are in quarantine. Almost immediately the invitations stop. It’s like the phone has died from the mysterious baby disease you apparently have. If you are lucky you may bump into a friend while running errands to stock up on diapers cause as childless people think that is all you do now days. They tell you they miss you and they would love to hang out but are “worried about calling and waking the baby” or “know you must be tired”. Really? That’s the best you got? Granted I am no longer putting forth the effort to make plans and round up the group to do something fun. I  mean I can hardly keep myself organized much less plan anything at this point but that doesn’t mean I won’t come out.

And then it finally happens you get invited to something! Of course its for something so ridiculous you have to say no.  This is not because you don’t want to go but what they’ve asked you to, which in their mind is kid appropriate, just isn’t. I will not take my 5 month old to the Zombie Pub Crawl sorry. (Apparently some people do, WOW!) pubWhile it does sound like fun I know with baby in tote it will not be. And sure leave the kid with a sitter, I could but the next morning after being sober 9 months and only drinking little amounts due to breastfeeding a pub crawl is not going to end well. (This was an extreme case but people without kids often don’t understand how certain situations with a child along are no longer fun so please check out this adorable video) So guess what? Now you have turned them down to hang out so next time they don’t even bother with you. It’s like they’re saying “Back to quarantine with you!” Uhg will I ever get out of here?

Being a mama is lonely business. It’s hard to imagine you are lonely when you have someone (you’re child) around 24-7 but it is. Please please if you have a friend who is the 1st in your group to be a new parent (dad’s need friends too) call them. Call them just to say hi, call them at 2 in the morning when you leave the bar (if they have a newborn chances are they will have the ringer off if sleeping but if they are up for a late night drink with baby you will make their day), call them when you’re at the store to see if you can pick up anything, just call! Even if you don’t hang out calling lets them know you care, you’re still friends, they still exist outside of parenthood and have not gone away to some foreign island isolation for infantitis. Don’t feel rejected if you invite a new mom to something and she says no. Sometimes it is impossible for others to understand why she can’t make time but she has her reasons so ask again and again and again. Chances are you will be the first one she calls when she is finally up to hanging out. Don’t think just because your friend has other friends with kids she isn’t lonely. Most likely their kids schedules don’t line up and she probably doesn’t hang out with other moms as much as you think. Motherhood is Lonely…It Just Is

And as for you mom, make an effort! Even if it isn’t easy sometimes you need to break routine and disrupt the kids schedules to get in a little social time. Babies go to bed early, have your besties over for a late dinner, card game, or movie. Make a point to have a sitter come once a month to go to ladies night with the girls. You can use a phone too, pick it up instead of using social media like Facebook that only makes you think you have a life. Just say yes, when they finally invite you just say yes! Even if the 4 am feeding is going to be incredibly miserable the memories from earlier in the night are worth it, just say yes.

How I Spent My Nights Before Baby  

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How I Spend My Nights Now

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You can’t really have it all, but you can enjoy what you have

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Shonda Rhimes gave an amazing commencement speech at Dartmouth, the typed version can be found here, or you can find the videos on YouTube….anyway, in the speech she talks about people asking her how she does it all and her honest answer to the graduates was that she doesn’t. If she’s rocking the work life, she’s missing the home life and vice versa. ObvIously I’m not some awesome and well known person like she is, but I definitely feel what she said resonates with me…and probably with most parents.
I’m in a professional position that has me working well over forty hours per week and also requires me to be on-call essentially 24/7. I miss a lot and absolutely hate that. When the kids ask why I have to work so much or ask why I can’t just take the day off, my heart breaks. “But mom, you’re the boss,” my daughter will say as she frowns and gives me puppy-dog eyes always. I pretty much always have the same reply, “yes, honey, I am…and that is exactly why I can’t take the day off.”
Missing things is taking on new meaning now that we have a baby again. When Zakariah, Dominic, and Ryann were babies, we were fortunate enough to have a schedule worked out so it didn’t require daycare and allowed me to be with them a lot. I didn’t feel like I missed out on too much. I can’t quite do that anymore and I think as Kenley grows this is going to really eat at me. I am grateful to be in a position that allows me some control if I need to rearrange coverage so I can get to an appointment, concert, etc. but it doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed.
Broken hearts aside, I worked to get where I am. It was never what I thought I would be doing but it’s where I landed and it has definitely grown on me over the years. As much as I want to stay home with my kids and enjoy every minute of their lives, I think I would also feel a bit of a void if I gave it all up.
Shanda also brought up a great point when she said she’s teaching her kids about work. That women work…that women can hold powerful positions. I truly feel my kids learn valuable lessons from seeing both parents work (and this really applies to men and women, just happens that her viewpoint comes from being a single mother). My kids have learned that when someone calls in sick it can really impact someone else. While it has been a painful lesson at times, I hope that sticks with them when they enter the working world. They also have a great sense of pride about their parents jobs…getting to come to mom or dad’s work is a treat they frequently request. I suppose they might not feel quite the same as they get older, but we will cherish that for now.
Mixed emotions are a frequent thing on parenting…..heck, in all adult life! There will always be times where you’re going to feel like you can’t do it and someone else does it so much better. But as you’re thinking that, remember that while they may be doing that one thing better, (as Shanda so eloquently put it) they’re inevitably failing at something else.

Nobody is perfect and we are all just doing the best we can. Live in the moment, do what you can and enjoy every minute wherever you are, be it the joys of home to the joys of your career.

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*apologies for how disjointed this post may have become…my minds kind of a jumbled mess these days and I’m just getting the hang of this blogging thing 😉

Delicious crockpot meals

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I love anything I can make in the crockpot. The whole idea of throwing it in and coming home to a ready dish is awesome…and if you happen to be home while it’s cooking, you get to smell the yumminess all day long 😉

I have pinned insane amounts of meals like this on Pinterest. You could honesty spend all day looking at them. To save you a little time, I’m going to show you a few that I’ve tried and the family has enjoyed.

Mississippi Roast This is seriously amazing. I was a little leery of the ingredients but I’m so glad we tried it.

Crockpot Lasagna
I go a littler heavier on the sauce and cheese but this is another super easy and well liked meal.

Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
Another winner…just make sure the cream cheese is room temperature before you try combine it or you’ll have a lumpy sauce.

Crockpot Monkey Bread
Ok, so it’s not exactly a meal, but it’s still good!

Crockpot Chicken with beans and corn
This is awesome as a taco, burrito, or on chips or over rice. You can adjust your salsa choice to meet the preferences of you and your family.

Crockpot Italian Soup
This one smelled a little weird but tasted great. Again, be sure to have the cream cheese at room temperature!

I also love to make pulled pork in the crockpot. I’ve never really followed an exact recipe when I make it but here is the general idea:
1 pork butt or shoulder roast, salt and pepper, chili flakes, Worcestershire sauce, beer and water to cover most of roast in crockpot. Cook on low for 10 or so hours. Dumb water, pull bone if there was one, stir to shred pork, add BBQ sauce of choice and mix it in. Let it sit for a bit to soak in the sauce and serve on buns.

There’s many more I could post for you but we will save those for another day 🙂

*disclaimer–all recipes, except pulled pork, are from Pinterest and I make no claim to them being original or cited correctly by pinners.