Thursday, September 18, 2014

a simple + cozy porch makeover

When we moved into the 'dream home' I knew that making the outside a useable, inviting space would take a while -- mainly because we had soooo much to do on the inside (catch up here.)

Two years later we still done much to the outside.  A complete overhaul of the backyard is now slated to begin in the spring. 

However, the one area we have done a little something to is our little side porch.  Not a lot, but definitely have transformed it from the dull space it was to a bright and cozy spot to drink a glass of wine and read a book.

Here are some views of the little porch when we first bought the place...

Not exactly a space where I'd like to hang out with my loved ones and enjoy a nice summer evening.  (I especially like the old sink and random plywood just hanging out.)

Thankfully, Hubby and I were able to envision this porch (former entrance to the second unit) as a lovely asset to our home -- someday.   Since we don't have a cool rooftop deck or a big wrap around porch like many homes in our historic neighborhood, we really have to take advantage of the space we do have -- this porch, the little deck above it (Finola's little 'Juliet' balcony!) and our decently sized backyard.

In July, for my birthday, Hubby purchased two lovely white porch rockers and a porch swing.

Even before adding some cozy accessories these additions made me very happy.  My two tiny ones love to sit out there with me during the day.  Sometimes we will all get on the porch swing and rock and I swear they are silent and content for at least three solid minutes.

After we got the rockers/swing I knew it was time to add some personality and coziness if we were to entertain out there...so I tossed on some of my current favorite pillows, a striped throw, and added a little metal table for the aforementioned wine (or beer! or coffee!)

The 'Happy Home' pillow is from Tinyprints.  I didn't even know they sold really cute pillows until I was scouring their website something altogether different.  I fell in love with this one because I could basically put it in any room in our home and like it - the bold typography in black and white...these elements are found in every room in our home.  I personalized the pillow with the year we moved into the 'dream home' which make me love it even more.

The geometric print black and white pillow and striped throw are from Ikea (which, again, I could put in any room in our home and get warm fuzzies from) as well as the round metal table and galvanized pot.  The furniture is from Lowe's.  The rug and teal pillow are from Target.
 I added a few cloth blooms that matched my color scheme to a plain twig wreath to add a little something to the door.  (Pre-made wreaths are expensive! Much better to do it yourself...pretty easy and a fraction of the price!)


BEFORE + AFTER
Clearly there is a lot you can do to any space by painting and adding minimalist yet lovely furniture...and a few styling details to make it personal, of course!   
Linking this post up at...Whipperberry!

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Fall is here! 

The temp finally dipped to the sixties and it feels so crisp + refreshing outside.

I am excited for wine on the porch, fire in the chiminea, kiddos jumping into mountains of crunchy leaves, and sweaters.  Oh, the sweaters!

What are you most looking forward to this season?

Monday, September 15, 2014

a little bachelorette party

Now that I am in my thirties fun events such as bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and weddings even are much more few+far between.  Therefore, I now cherish each event so much more than I ever did in my twenties.

This past weekend I had the honor of hosting a little bachelorette party / girls night out soiree for my dear friend Rebecca, who is marrying the love of her life next month.  Yay!

While I knew plainly that phallic symbols would be out for the night (thirty-something bachelorette parties need to be a bit more classy, right?) I still did my best to make it simple + sassy + fun for all.

We had a signature drink (essentially a champagne cosmo.)
The girls all brought sweet little gifts to fill up a 'Bridal Swag Bag' (and got mini bags of their own.)
please ignore the giant power saw in the background.

 Then we took some fun mug shot photos before our cabs to head to dinner arrived.  Don't we look so very criminal?

Next we we headed to a trendy area of Cincy for a sushi dinner, and then some more drinking and dancing afterward (aka 'subsequent shenanigans.')
These ladies are so warm and sweet and definitely showered our Bex with a lot of love + laughter that night.
There were some very funny moments (mostly involving our super fun Bride-to-Be)...and some not so funny (um, my wallet got stolen right out of my purse while on my arm, engrossed in dancing to eighties music.)

Despite that icky fiasco - overall everyone had a pretty great time celebrating this lady:

Rebecca, I love how much you have grown and evolved in the years I have known you.  You are a sweet and positive light to many!  Yet, you remain your hilarious, outlandish and 'real' self...thank goodness.  

So thank you, my gym 'warrior' friend for letting my throw you a par-tay...it was a grand time and I love you!  Less than one month til wedded bliss!

Monday, September 8, 2014

lucky number seven

Seven years married.
To this smart, logical, non-judgmental, fair, and handsome man - complete with dimples and superhero chin.
When I was a little girl I sit on a fence on our farm, staring up at the stars, praying for a romance someday -- a romance for the ages.  My love would be handsome, and smart, and successful, and he'd put up with all my crazy, and we would do all kinds of exciting things.  And on and on.  It would be magical.

Yes, perhaps I watched too many rom-coms and Rogers+Hammerstein musicals as a child.

Be that as it may, in my mind, my prayer was answered.

There were quite a few hiccups on the way to marriage -- but there are in the movies, too, right?  Oh, and the actual marriage has had plenty of fights and moments of drama and mistakes made.  I mean, sweet pictures and Disney movies aside -- let's just be real.  Marriage is complicated and raw and hard.

But I think that is part of what makes it so phenomenally good.

To read our "love story" click here (Start at #5 Meeting Future Hubby!)

To see a glimpse of the past thirteen years (eek!) watch this slideshow -- because I am nerdy and love seeing images set to good music...

I couldn't feel more lucky- and blessed - to have had seven years with this man.  Year seven has us in the middle of maybe one of the more challenging parts of parenting/marriage - the tiny baby/toddler stage.  Getting sleep, finding time and energy for romance, and really getting anything done besides him going to work and me raising the kiddos full-time.

So happy to be going through it all with such a great man, who loves me and appreciates me like none other.  Who always makes me feel like I am the most beautiful person in the world, inside and out.
And keeps it light...when I am often so serious...
I love you, babe.  
Happy seven years.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

my school kid

Yesterday was Cormac's first day of school.
Well, not officially...but I was told in no uncertain terms that it was obligatory for me to post about the experience.  Welcome Day.  Basically he went for about forty-five minutes to meet his teacher, classmates, and check out his classroom for the first time.

I have, of course, been hyping this event for a while...so he seemed mentally prepared.

A bonus was Finola having a doctor's appointment so Hubby took her to that while I got an hour of one-on-one time with Cormac before taking him to Welcome Day.

During that time, as we ran an errand, strolled around a store and looked at toys, and waited in line for a coffee for mama, I couldn't help but flash back to when it was just me and him.

So, so easy.

I liked being able to focus on him and really "hear" what he was saying,
rather than having him repeat the same thing at least eight times
while I chase Finola around and try to pay attention to both of them.

Sigh.  
We really, really need to start scheduling weekly mama-son dates.
But I digress.

Anyway, we had some sweet mama/son time
and then it was off to school.
School!

We were greeted at the door by one of the teacher's assistants
and headed to the classroom.
Even though there are only about sixteen kids in his class the room was mass chaos due to all the parents and siblings crammed in.  Cormac's teacher warmly invited him to join "circle time" and he tentatively took a place on the carpet.  First, they sang a song designed to calm them down and get them focused.  I observed Cormac watching his teacher with serious eyes and rapt attention, mouthing the words as he learned them and doing the 'actions' as well.  

(For some reason this made tears well up in my eyes.  Yikes.  I mean, wasn't it just yesterday I was announcing his birth, and now he's in school?  WHAT????)

Then she read them a book.  During this I took the scene in and noticed just how different every kid was acting.  One girl clung to her mama and didn't want anything to do with the circle, while another child had planted himself directly in the middle of it, smiling an irresistible grin,  I imagine completely proud of himself for bucking the system.  Some looked bored, some stressed, some happy and attentive.  And Cormac?  Very serious, not cracking a smile, but participating in the songs, answering questions and watching his teacher, as I said, completely enraptured.

Then the tables were explained to them, where they would eat their snack and work on art projects. They were given a coloring sheet to work on, then they moved through the different "stations" - a kitchen area, a dress-up area, a math area, reading area, etc.  

Then it was back to circle time for another song and to say goodbye.

The assistants handed out "parent survival kits" - basically tissues and chocolate.  Nice.  I accepted them gladly.

Kiddos were given a tote back with the school logo on it, to decorate however they choose.  No backpacks yet for these little ones!  

Then we were sent on our way.  

Phew!  Now just to survive the "goodbye" on the first day.

Apparently I am not allowed to come in the building to say goodbye to him...one of the teachers will meet us at the door and they all go up to the room together.

I am dreading this moment.  I know I will cry.  

I will try to wait and do it in the car.

No promises, though.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

stitch fix : fall edition

My second Stitch Fix arrived last week!

{I receive nothing from Stitch Fix for blogging about my experience...I just love writing about it and sharing with you what I get!  :)  However, if you want to try it...use me as your referral by clicking on this link and getting started.  If you do decide to try I get a $25 Stitch Fix credit whenever you receive your first shipment of lovely clothes! I would adore you for this! Plus, if you refer others you will get the same awesome incentive! :D}

If any or all of the following apply to you, you should try Stitch Fix:

- you love fashion
- you want to try new trends but have no idea what to buy/where to start
- you are a mama with no time to shop
-you like surprises
- you thoroughly love getting stuff in the mail...especially clothes!
- you feel more comfortable trying things on in your own home with your own accessories
- you can't afford a "real" stylist...but think you might like one.

These are all reasons I like it, and...
it is really fun!
Plus, you have control over it all (yay for control freaks!)
You decide when you want it to arrive.
You tell your stylist everything about you, what you like, 
what you want to typically spend on an item, 
and what types of pieces you want to see in your fix.
You put whatever you don't want in the shipping bag they give you and drop it in a USPS mailbox.
Simple.  Stress-free. Fun. Totally non-committal.

Click HERE to check it out and schedule your fix!

This time around I requested my stylist send mostly tops --
no dresses (where would I wear them???  I have way too many dresses!)
and pants basically are impossible to get right on my short curvy frame.

And she complied - all tops!

This Fix's photo shoot called for a messy bun -- basically how I've been wearing my hair all summer (besides side pony and fedora.)  Oh, and there was no way I was going outside in these fall clothes -- we are at 90 degrees and sauna-like conditions every day lately here in KY.

Item #1: Mauna Mixed Print Sheer Open Cardigan by Papermoon

I loved this kimono top instantly.  The tags were ripped off and I have already worn it twice.  I had been searching online and my usual haunts or something like this, but never found one I really, really liked.  This print is really fun, yet not too crazy.  The cut is exactly what I was looking for.  I didn't want one that was too long, and I like that this could be worn dressy or casual.  Definite keeper!

Item #2 Ivy Abstract Print Tab-Sleeve Blouse (by 41Hawthorn)
Okay, I would probably have kept this shirt if I worked in an office.  I really liked it for a professional yet fun piece.  The price was really reasonable, it was silky and comfortable with a very fun/eye-catching print.  I liked that I could wear the sleeves pinned up or down and loose.  But it is not my idea of a "going out" shirt, and definitely doesn't fit with my SAHM occupation (I don't think stains would come out of the satiny material well!) so this one is going back.

Item #3 - Durango Twisted Seams Striped Knit Shirt (by Kensie)
Um...a big fat "no" on this t-shirt.  (Can you tell from my facial expressions?) It was super boring.  There was nothing really that I liked about it.  Not a flattering fit for me, nothing unique about it - just boring.
That is all I will say.  

Item #4 - Huebert Space Dye Open Cardigan (by Renee C)
Alright, so the huge style that everyone is wearing now and every body type can pull off is the long cardigan with skinny jeans and tall boots.  I mean everybody can rock this look.  I really do like this cardigan, the heather gray color will go with ANYTHING,  and it is really drapey and cute.  
Buuuuuut...I may have recently looked at my fall wardrobe and realized I already own a lot of cardigans.  As in way too many.  I may seriously have a problem.  So while I think this is cute, for the price I cannot really add it to my already crazy collection.
I highly recommend it for anyone else in need of a cardigan like this, though!!!!

Item #5 - Malcolm Slub Knit Dolman Sleeve Shirt (by Renee C)
Ahhh....I adore this shirt.  I specifically requested something "off-the-shoulder and sexy" and my stylist delivered (no pun intended!)  I love that I can make this top really casual with jeans or wear it with these black faux leather pants and some sassy heels, adding some edginess for a night look.  
I love that it is dark yet slightly sheer.  And as I mentioned last month, I really like the dolman-sleeve shirts that are trendy these days -- so even though I passed on the one in my last fix, this baby is definitely a keeper!

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So, from this fix I got two fabulous tops, that are on trend and make sense with the stuff I've been pinning on my clothing Pinterest board (you stylist makes choices for you based on your fashion board on Pinterest if you share with them the link in your Style Profile!  Do it -- definitely helps!)

That's it for this Fix! 
I'm saving my next one for the holiday season...
I can't wait!

Linking up with A Whimsicle Life!

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Hope everyone had an awesome Labor Day weekend.
We had a crazy Sunday -
our first kiddo ER visit 
with Fin getting seven stitches in her thumb.
Everything should heal fine and she basically was acting her normal silly self as soon as we were home from the hospital, but...
pretty stressful!
:(
Definitely hugging my kiddos a little tighter 
than usual since then.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

mamarazzi : a random update

Summer is waning, and school is on the horizon.
I can't believe it. 
We are here already.
School - I will have a kid in school.
Okay, just 3-year-old pre-school, but school nonetheless.

I don't know about any of you...but I loved school.
Especially as a little one.
It is exciting going back to structure (and friends!)
 after a long, lazy summer
(because that is what they were back then, rather than the short blips that they are now.)

Having kids is pretty amazing because you get to feel that way again, vicariously.
The shopping for new school clothes.
The school supplies (oh, how I love school supplies!)
Meeting your teacher the first time.
Just the whole process of learning new things.
(Yep. Nerd.)

I cannot lie - I am petrified for Cormac to start school.
I stress mostly about the social aspect. 
Will he have trouble making friends?
Will he be bullied? 
Will he be a bully?
Will he just be socially awkward?
Will he be the kid no one wants at their birthday party?

Ugh.  I feel nauseous just thinking about it.

Thankfully he is too little to be worried about any of these things.

I know all I can do is pray that the Lord guides him and protects him
so that school is a good experience and something he loves as much as I did.

Oh, and pray I don't cry buckets of tears on his first day
(at least not in front of him!) 

+ + + + + + 

The summer has been so lovely.
Very laid-back.
Lots of parks and running through fountains and exploring.
Trips to the grandparents' houses.
Swimming at the pool.
Digging in the dirt.
Lugging toys to water parks and sand boxes.
I like that this was such a simple + low-key summer.
I read recently of motherhood being compared to the movie Groundhog Day.
That is pretty apt.
Every day seems a lot the same.
(especially if you are a 'schedule mama' like I am.)
You get up, feed them, play, nap, feed, play, nap, play, feed, play, go to bed.
We keep it fun by doing different things for the 'play' portion and eating different things for the 'feed' parts...but it is generally the same day over and over.
Cormac going off to school three days a week will change that up a bit --
which will be kind of nice!

Speaking of Cormac...
here is a mini-update on the sweet little guy...
                                        Cormac is as loving and affectionate as they come...
and, well, exhausting!
He never stops.  Never stops playing, never stops talking - just goes and goes from waking until bedtime (and sometimes not even then!)
The thing with Cormac is that he loves to be engaged in something at all times.  Even if he is watching a TV show he wants to ask questions about it and for someone to sit with him and watch, too.   If you do not sit with him while watching a show, snuggle him, and answer his questions about said show then he will not sit and pay attention to it.  This worries me slightly - and so much for using the TV as a babysitter!  Nope, not in this house!  I am lucky if they are both distracted by Daniel Tiger for 15 minutes while I make dinner!
jumping on beds is his jam!  and tossing clean laundry everywhere!
I actually experienced a moment of silence on the way home from a playdate the other day only because I let him have a giant gumball.  Sure, by the end of the car ride he had green gumball dye dripping down his face and had dispensed the giant wad of gum in the compartment on my car door (yuck!) but gosh he was quiet for those fifteen minutes!  What works with Cormac -- bribes!  Errrr, I mean REWARDS!  :D

He does not miss a thing, remembers EVERYTHING (so don't try to pull one over on him...he knows.)
He keeps us in check.
He will question/challenge pretty much everything.
He is incredibly bossy.  
He is no pushover and is persistent as they come.
He does not love certain things -- like chaotic water parks or swinging too high.  But I have slowly learned to "meet him where he is" and be okay with his skepticism about things I just assumed all kiddos loved.  
Despite his caution/dislike for some things, with other things he is the complete opposite.
He loves and hugs and runs with reckless abandon!
He is attune to other people's feelings (well, at least mine and Finola's and Hubby's) and loves to comfort and be physically affectionate. 
I will take all the craziness and loudness in the world -
as long as he keeps his tender heart.

Now for Finola.
Oh my goodness.
Finola.
A lot of personality has sprung forth since her one year update.
Particularly since she began walking about six weeks ago (just shy of 14 months.)

She is, I believe, going to be our little athlete.  The girl is pretty good at kicking balls around,  playing "basketball" (putting the ball in the big plastic hoop, at least) swinging around a golf club at whatever little plastic balls are on the floor, climbing, running, and wrestling.

Oh, and dancing.

And spinning herself in a circle.  She is adorable when she plays ring-around-the-rosies by herself!

She is a mover just like her brother -- but she seems maybe slightly more coordinated.

She is pretty fearless when it comes to, well, anything.
beast mode
Still doesn't LOVE sitting still for more than one short book.  She definitely loses interest quickly if you try to read her a longer one.  However, she loves looking at books.  She will grab one and sit and open it and turn the pages and stare at the illustrations and babble as if she is reading it herself.  Now whenever we try to put her in her crib to sleep she insists on having a book with her.  She will "read" until she falls asleep.

Still a really, really good eater.

Still sleeping from 7:30pm until 7am.

Her hair is wild and curly and crazy!
She is a total flirt and ever the instigator.  She loves to catch your eye and grin flirtatiously.  She wanders up to strangers and stares at them until they inevitably acknowledge her and tell her how precious she is.  She waves "Bah bah!" and sometimes blows kisses.

She, of course, wants whatever Cormac has.  Always.  That makes for interesting interactions.  (aka lots of screaming from both parties.)  

Here they are in a rare "sharing" moment:
Cormac is obviously still bossing her around.
Being a mama with two toddlers is a lot to handle.  (Well, I guess Cormac is no longer a toddler -- he is a pre-schooler!  Eek!)  

That being said, I am constantly looking for guidebooks and advice to help me through it.  I am currently reading a book called Peaceful Parent, Happy Child by Dr. Laura Markham -- which at first I wholeheartedly dismissed but now I am devouring like it is the Bible for parenting.  At least when it comes to a kid like Cormac.   It has made me question my whole outlook on discipline and my reactions to behavior that I thought required "discipline"...and truly has started to make me calmer to the constant chaos going on in my house every day.   

Despite that chaos, I am still loving staying home with the babes.  I welcome breaks from my seemingly endless motherly duties, of course (thank you grandparents and hubby!!!!) but I cannot imagine doing anything else full-time with my life right now.  
Hope everyone has an amazing Labor Day weekend
full of fun and celebrations
with your loves!