May 30, 2014

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday! I could not be more excited for this weekend because on Sunday we are off to the beach. For a whole week! I'm ready to park myself under an umbrella with a stack of beach reads and magazines. This mama has not been on a vacation for nearly five years. It's long overdue! Here's a few things that I have to share this week for Five on Friday.

One. Fruity Drinks

We went strawberry picking last week and we ate all our strawberries before I could make this strawberry watermelon lemonade. If you have the chance to go strawberry picking, DO IT. It actually became addicting, searching for the perfect bright red berries, and they were as sweet as candy!

Two. Seriously Delish

My favorite food blogger, Jessica from How Sweet It Is, is coming out with a cookbook! I could not be more excited to get my hands on it. I started reading her blog over five years ago and her blog inspired me to start my own. She's hilarious, her recipes are absolutely amazing, and I look forward to reading her posts daily. You can now pre-order her book, I can't wait to receive mine!

Three. Party Planning

Planning for Miss A's second birthday bash is already under way. Nap time is spent crafting, cutting, gluing, taping, and browsing Pinterest for all things Minnie. I ordered these stickers from Party On! Designs and I absolutely adore them. 

Four. Packing Printable

Because we could all use more printables in our life, this is the printable I'm using to pack for our trip. It has everything I could possibly think of and more. 

Five. Sun, Sand, Surf

This is where I'll be all of next week so I'm signing off until we get back. Have a great weekend and I'll be back with lots of fun pictures to share!

May 29, 2014

What We've Been Eating Lately

It's been awhile since I've shared a new recipe. That doesn't mean I'm not trying out new things in the kitchen; quite the opposite really. I get bored of our meal rotation and aim to try at least one new recipe a week. Sometimes more if I have the time. Here are a few meals we've had recently that all three of us have enjoyed.

Chicken, Black Bean & Quinoa Enchiladas

I love making Mexican food at home. These enchiladas were delicious. I don't like enchiladas that are weighed down with sauce and spice and that have a pound of cheese. Peppers, black beans, and tomatoes go into the filling, along with quinoa (I didn't have any on hand so I used brown rice) which makes these enchiladas a healthier version than the original. Definitely a keeper!

Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon

We went a while without eating salmon because I got bored of making it the same way. I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs and figured I'd give it a try. It's SO easy there's really no excuse not to make it. The first time we tried it we couldn't believe it. So simple, so tasty. Another meal I'll be adding to our rotation, seeing as I've already made it like six times since. 

Mustard & Herb Marinated Chicken

I apologize for the crappy iPhone picture. I've got to get back into the habit of taking pictures of our food with the real camera. Anyway. Now that it's hot out, we've been grilling a lot. Mostly chicken and sausage. This is my favorite summer marinade and I make it so often that I think it might be time for me to find a new one before we get sick of it. Any recommendations?

Baked Pork Chops with Herb & Cheese Breadcrumbs

I saw Rachael Ray make this on her show a few weeks ago and it looked so good. She made it using chicken breasts; I thought it would be just as good with bone-in pork chops. Delicious! The dijon mustard coating is something I never would have thought of and pan frying it first then putting it into the oven is a great way to prevent the meat from drying out. Loved it!

I'm always looking for more things to try, so please tell me, if there's been something new you've made recently that you enjoyed!

May 27, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up- Memorial Day

Three day weekends are not the norm around here. We're lucky if we have ONE weekend day together as a family. Miss A and I were more than thrilled to have "Dada" around for an entire holiday weekend! We made the most of it with a visit from our good friend, spending lots of time outdoors, at the pool, and grilling out on the deck.

It's been a year since we last saw Sheena. We met Sheena while we were living in Michigan; she was a fellow med student who became more than just a friend. She became family. The day Miss A was born, she was there just a few hours later, with a turkey sandwich for me, something I had been missing while I was pregnant (I didn't do deli meat while preggo). She was our first babysitter, the first person we trusted to take care of our daughter. To say we were devastated to be moving across the country is an understatement, yet at the same time, we were so happy for her as she was accepted into her first choice program.

Miss A took to Sheena immediately, as if she remembered her from when she was ten months old. They were pretty inseparable for a few hours; she only wanted Sheena to pick her up and dragged everywhere by the hand. It was so sweet!

We wanted to show her around, so we went to a few of our favorite spots in the Triangle. Our favorite places to eat, explore, and walk around. The weather could not have been more perfect with sunny days and gorgeous blue skies.

We let Miss A run around in this giant field and encouraged her to get dirty. She is such a girly girl already! If you look closely you'll see in the picture above that her toes are curled. She hated the dirt in her sandals!

On Saturday night we went to listen to some live music at our local mall and had dinner out. It was a lovely warm evening, with lots of people out and about. Miss A loved watching all the other kids dance. Eventually she got out of her shell and pulled Sheena to dance with her, and no one else, until the end, when she danced with her Dada. Poor Mama was left out of the fun!

Sheena left Monday morning. We were sad to see her go but we hope to schedule a trip to see her in Washington sometime soon! The rest of the day Miss A and I spent outside while the hubby had some quiet time in the house working on a presentation. He eventually took a break so we could all go to the pool. It was a hot day, the cool water was perfect and so refreshing. Our clubhouse has a separate pool for toddlers that they're able to walk into and she loved it. I can't wait to go again.

Happy unofficial start of the summer!

May 22, 2014

Dealing with Mommy Guilt

Every Thursday a group of bloggers are linking up for One Year and Beyond, a series that's all about toddlers and the struggles we may face raising them. I liked today's topic: mom guilt.

As women, I feel like we are constantly beating ourselves up over something. Spending too much Target. Not spending enough time with your husband. Not spending enough time on yourself. Not being there for your kids. I hate that annoying, nagging feeling I get every time I say, "no" or "hold on" or "just one more minute" when I'm trying to finish up something. A chore, getting dressed, washing the dishes, talking on the phone...whatever it is, we all do it, more often than we'd like to admit.

 As a SAHM, what do I have to feel guilty about? I'm there every day to get up with Miss A in the morning, make her breakfast, take her to the park, on play dates, to give her a bath, and tuck her in at night. It's the best job I could have ever asked for.

But everyday is not a walk in the park. And that makes me feel guilty. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for this "job", there is nothing else I'd rather be doing than staying at home with my girl. However, just like with any job, there are plenty of days I want to rip my hair out. Like when she dropped an entire container of yogurt on the floor, at a restaurant, after refusing everything else to eat. And when she has a tantrum in the middle of that restaurant because she's "all done". When everything you suggest is answered with a quick "NO." Those are the days I want to escape, retreat on the deck with an iced cold drink and sit, by myself, with a stack of magazines.

I feel guilty when I compare other children sitting quietly at the table or playing happily at the park. I feel guilty when I put her in a time-out when I know she needs it and guilt about the fact that we aren't keeping up with discipline. I'm guilty of not making sure she's had her share of veggies for the day or giving her crackers and goldfish while we're out because I know that's the only way to keep her occupied. I feel guilty when I ask my husband to be with her so I can do some stuff on my own. I'm also guilty of counting down the minutes to bed time after a hard day and when I want to go back in there to tell her how much I love her just one more time. Luckily, those are the only times I feel guilty. I do my best to be there for her whenever she needs me, to get down on the floor with her and play, to stop what I'm doing (most of the time) to let her grab my hand and lead me away, to enjoy those sloppy kisses and tight hugs. It will all be over so quick, I want to soak up as much as I can now.

Yet, I've always struggled with guilt. From leaving my family, raising Miss A away from her grandparents, missing out on holidays and other events, letting people down. It's a feeling I hate and a feeling I hope I can spare Miss A in the future. Whatever she wants to do, whoever she want to be, I will be there and support her. She is my number one priority, along with any other kids we may have in the future. I love being a Mom.

What are some ways you feel guilty? How do you deal with it?

May 20, 2014

Currently: A Mama Collective

Whew, what a day! I'm beat and ready to turn my brain off. Know what I mean? Just sit back and relax. Before I do so I really wanted to get something written down today. I came across a new link-up this afternoon, called Currently, and loved the message behind it. I also thought it would be a good way to jot down a few quick notes about what's going on right now.

A Mama Collective

Thinking about: Showering. We had a busy day- strawberry picking, park, Target, and I can't wait to get into my pajamas and curl up on the couch.

Reading: The Kitchen Daughter. I don't love it, but I like it. It's been on my to-read list for months and I finally picked it up at the library a few weeks ago. I hate that it takes me so long to finish a book now, this would have taken me a few days to read before baby.

Listening to: the hum of my laptop. Otherwise known as silence. The baby is in bed, hubby is at journal club, and I'm sitting at my desk with the dim light of the setting sun. It's peaceful.

Watching: After my shower I'll probably go downstairs and watch Devious Maids. Do you watch that show? Total guilty pleasure. This season is so much better than the first! Then I'll watch 24 when hubby gets home. We're huge 24 fans and we're so happy it's back!

Thankful for: a great day spent with friends. It'll be a year soon since we've moved here and I'm grateful that we've met so many wonderful people and play mates for Miss A. I couldn't ask for more.

May 16, 2014

Five on Friday- Sales, Cookies, and More!

One. Rain, rain, go away

Yesterday it rained for pretty much the entire day. Normally I'd be annoyed by that kind of weather but we've had so many beautiful, glorious sunny days lately that I was okay with it. We made the most of it by meeting up with our friend and her daughter at the mall to play and have lunch. The girls were so mesmerized by the rain that they didn't want a bite of their lunch and stared out the windows.  

Two. Being Silly

Sometimes the best moments are when we're rolling around the floor, not playing with any toys or listening to any music. Just being silly and having fun. This afternoon after attempt at potty training (sigh), we got down on the floor with her stuffed animals and made faces at the camera. Oh how I love this sweet girl!

Three. Party Planning

I might be a bit insane...I'm already starting to plan for Miss A's birthday which is still two months away. I'm knee deep in Pinterest pins, trying to figure out what I can DIY to keep costs down. I came across this tutorial for a birthday chalkboard and I can't wait to get all the supplies and try my hand at this. I love, love chalkboard art but I'm a. not crafty enough for that, b. not patient enough for it, and c. not about to spend $50 on a huge chalkboard.

Four. Old Navy Finds

In preparation for our beach trip, I went to Old Navy searching for a big floppy hat for me and new swim trunks for the hubby. I didn't find a hat, but I did pick up this cute summer dress (in red) for $7 on clearance! Online the price is $, if I were you, check the store first! I also got the hubby two swim trunks, which were also on clearance. Score!

Five. Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Did you know yesterday was national chocolate chip cookie day?! I did not know this until late last night and I'm so disappointed I didn't whip up a batch to celebrate. Guess that will have to be something we do this weekend! I'm thinking of trying out these chocolate chunk cookies with sea salt!

Happy Friday! Hope you have a fun weekend planned- we're going to our neighborhood's pool opening, checking out some food trucks, and tackling some things around the house. Make sure you link up with the ladies for Five on Friday!

May 15, 2014

It's The Little Things- A Trip to the Garden

I meant to get this post up yesterday for the It's The Little Things link up, but somehow that didn't happen. :) So here I am a day late, eager to share some beautiful pictures of a day trip we took to the gardens.

Miss A and I went to meet the hubby one sunny afternoon a few weeks ago at Duke Gardens. Improv dates with my little family are some of the best days. It's a gorgeous park, with water fountains, a fish pond, flowers upon flowers, and a small cafe. I lathered her up with sunscreen as it was a cloudless blue sky day and put her favorite Minnie Mouse hat on and she was good to go!

Of course she loved the water fountain and wanted to splash around in it. Once she saw that there were flowers to pick, she was all about that. I'm sure we're not technically supposed to pick them...but a few lost here and there is okay right?!

Once Dada arrived we started to explore and walk around. There are so many tall trees and fragrant flowers, I was amazed that this was absolutely free! 

My favorite part was definitely watching her walk around and touch every single flower. Currently her favorite color is yellow, so every flower she saw, she proclaimed that it was "ye-looow". Holding hands with her dada and tugging him along melted my heart.

Warm weather is wonderful thing! I could have stayed here all day with a blanket, book, and some snacks. We were there for about two hours which was plenty of time for Miss A, although we weren't able to see everything. We'll have to make a trip back soon to see what else this place has to offer.

I hope to make it to the zoo sometime soon and can't wait to go to the beach in just a few short weeks. Summer time is the best time of the year!

May 13, 2014

A Penny For Your Thoughts

1. It's hot. Like REALLY hot. Temperatures are already soaring into the 90s and no, I'm not complaining, I actually love it. I'm so excited for our pool to open this weekend and for our beach vacation coming up in the next few weeks. This mama is working hard to get "beach ready" and I really hope I'm happy with the results by the time we get to the beach.

2. I've upped my fruit and veggie intake dramatically this last week. I worked out five times last week, a huge win for me! Between Jazzercise, walks/jogs outside, and strength training at home, I'm feeling good and have SO much energy. It's amazing what eating good and working out can do for your body.

3. Mother's Day was low key around here. Hubby was going to bring me breakfast in bed, but he woke up with a sore throat and migraine. :( So we took it easy and went out for donuts later and took a trip to Target, which is one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon. He also wrote me the sweetest message in my card and I was showered with love from our family who sent gifts, cards, and flowers. What a sweet day!

4. Something else that happened on Mother's Day...while we were at Target, we saw a Minnie Mouse potty training toilet. We snatched it up immediately, there was only one left and frankly that was the first time I saw a Minnie Mouse one. Miss A was very excited about it when we took it out of the box and sat down on it right away. That night, right before her bath, I put her on it and she peed! We couldn't believe it. Then she got up, all proud of herself, and proceeded to stick her hand in the bowl...she hasn't wanted to use it again, probably because we scared her half to death when we said "don't touch that!" Sigh. Hopefully that memory will fade soon. We're not in any rush to potty train.

5. I mentioned how much I'm loving the hubby's current schedule; having him around feels like we're all on vacation. We've been living it up family style with lots of time spent outside, playing in the kiddie pool, watching movies once the mini is asleep (finally saw Wolf of Wall Street, whoaaa), and eating dinner together every night. It's heaven.