Wednesday, October 30, 2013

For the birds

We've had some super busy weekends, especially the last one since it was finally, finally cooler outside!  As soon as I saw the forecast, I knew we had to fit Busch Gardens into our schedule Saturday morning.  We're lucky enough to live less than a half hour from Busch Gardens so we keep yearly passes so we can go as often as we like.  During the summer, you will not catch me dead there since it's so darn hot, so we hadn't been back in nearly five months.

There's an awesome area for kids five & older to hang with the kangaroos.  I stayed out with Reese so that Mike & Cam could check it out.  Mike took a video & I could not believe how sweet & tame these wild animals were!  I kind of wish we could take one home as a pet!

We've been taking Reese to Busch Gardens since she was newborn, so it's really cool to see her finally be able to go on some rides & do more.  She was pretty ticked off when she was too short to go on a hippo ride with Cam, but she got over it after she was able to drive the cars.  She went into this rope/jungle gym area & ended up getting stuck in this tube system & I nearly peed in my pants as I watched Mike cram himself in to save her!

One of my favorite spots in Busch Gardens is the Lorikeet cage.  A $5 cup of nectar at first seems expensive, but it's so worth it when the birds land all over you to drink it.

 Cam has fed the birds a few times before, but it was Reese's first time & she absolutely loved it!

This bird kept pecking at Cam's face & it really seemed like it was trying to kiss him.. so sweet!

Somehow we made it through without being pooped on!

Other than enjoying the weather, we've also been getting ready for Halloween which is the start of my favorite time of year!  Cooler weather, my kid's birthdays, Thanksgiving & Christmas.. it doesn't get any better than that.  We also try & head down to my parent's house in Sarasota at least every couple of months, so two weeks ago we spent the weekend there.  It's always relaxing & the kids get to run wild with their cousins as we all catch up.  My little girlfriend Reese grabbed a magazine & sat down next to me to read; she's so sweet!

I love having my sweet little friend by my side everyday!

Reese is finally starting to get hair, so I've been practicing my pony/piggy-tail skills!  I'm not so hot just yet, but I'll get there.  Mike gets the kids ready in the morning, so he's been practicing his skills too which is really cute.

And here's what Cam will be wearing tomorrow for trick or treating!  He had a dress rehearsal with his costume on Saturday night when he went to his classmate's birthday party.  This will be Reese's first time trick or treating so we're really excited for her to wear her ballerina costume.  Our pumpkins are carved & chilling in the fridge in anticipation for tomorrow & I'm making Trisha Yearwood's chicken tortilla soup today so that we're ready to go for dinner tomorrow night.  Nothing like hot soup to warm you on a Halloween when the temperature is supposed to be close to 90 degrees!  Hop over to Cam & Reese's blog to check out their pumpkins.  Have a very safe & fun Halloween, everyone!!!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Being content with what YOU have

I remember being pregnant with Cameron when my mom said, "sometimes I think it was a good thing that we had no information while I was pregnant with you guys."  Don't get me wrong, I think that the information that has come to us from the internet & social media is awesome & has so many benefits.  But just like anything else, with the benefits come the drawbacks.  Because of a clotting disorder we incidentally found during Cam's pregnancy, I was seen by a high risk OB & had many detailed ultrasounds.  It was so incredibly amazing to see his face in 3D on the big TV screen in front of me... he had my lips, Mike's nose, and we knew that before we even met him!  Then my doctor told me that I had slightly elevated levels of amniotic fluid.  He begged us not to Google it because it would bring up a lot of (likely) unnecessary worry.  I obligiged, trusted my doctor & looked at nothing.  What did Mike do?  He Googled it!!  With that, he worried about issues with neurological function, issues with Cameron's swallowing.. but then two months later, praise the Lord, a healthy baby boy was born.

Typical evening in our house.. kids are put out back with food to entertain them so I can clean the kitchen!

With Cameron's pregnancy, I was not at all into blogs, Facebook or any other social media other than MySpace.  Do you remember MySpace??  I think my account is still active from over five years ago!  We started Cameron's blog as soon as he was born so that family & friends could check in on the little bugger.  Fast forward to two years later & I had a Facebook account, followed many blogs & had two blogs myself.  It was great to see what my Chicago friends were up to as I sat in my living room in Florida at 9pm.  By following one blog, I'd stumble onto another & another.  I found many, many heartbreaking stories of pregnancies ending with an empty nursery, women losing their babies at the bitter end of their pregnancy.  Don't get me wrong, I had my share of worries with Cameron's pregnancy, but with Reese, a whole new can of ideas had been opened & my worry skyrocketed.  The sad stories made me both thankful for my healthy child & thus far healthy pregnancy, but also fearful of what could potentially happen to these now healthy babies.

On top of causing unnecessary worry, I find that blogs, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram (amongst others!) make us very competitive with one another.  It makes us feel bad about ourselves & creates way too high standards for what we think our lives should look like.  For me, the reactions are mostly based on my mood.  I could look at a seemingly perfect life on a blog with an insanely organized, large, lavish home, perfectly groomed children, and feel no jealousy at all.  The very next day I could be PMS'ing, feeling fat & disorganized after having a rough evening with my misbehaving children & feel very inadequate while reading that same blog.  Mike will sometimes call me out on my mood shift & I'll admit that it's probably from comparing my chaotic life to the perfect life I'm looking at on my computer screen.  He'll then shout, "Stop reading that crap!"  But now that I've found it, I can't!

  Social media is too hard to avoid with our laptops & smart phones.  And really, it's my issues I need to work on.  I know that I have an awesome life & have been so incredibly blessed to have two healthy pregnancies/children, a job, a home & family that loves me.  I know that no one's life is perfect & everyone is sharing similar insecurities & issues, but sometimes it just nags at my brain that my life is less perfect than that of others.  I also know that I'm guilty myself; we all want to put our best face forward & highlight the good parts of our days.  So yes, I do realize that as that mom from the perfect blog is hitting publish on her perfect picture, I'm sure her children are yelling & fighting in the background too.

  With that being said, I think it's also important to be real & cut the crap from time to time.  Motherhood is NOT easy & definitely not always pretty... here's a post from a few years ago when I blogged about the complexity of motherhood.  I often post pictures of tantrums & meltdowns on Facebook.  Why not?  My kids aren't perfect & neither am I or you or him or her... we're just human & trying to do the best that we can.  It's really important for women to support each other rather than compete with one another.  I love, love, love the message on Nick Jr that says, "We're not perfect, we're parents!"  Give yourself a break, you're doing the best that you can & I'm sure you're doing a great job.  Your kids will turn out just fine whether or not you made that birthday cake from scratch or picked it up from the local grocery store.  Trust me, I'm talking to myself right now too since I am my own worst critic & put way too much pressure on myself.  But, it's a work in progress & every day brings something new!

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkins in the patch

Since it was Grammy's last weekend in town before heading back to Chicago, we decided to hit one of our favorite local pumpkin patches on Saturday.  We've been going to Sweetfields Farms for the past three years & each year it's gotten better since they've gradually added more things.


The funny thing is, we never buy pumpkins there since we can find them cheaper at Walmart or another local grocery store!

I love this picture of Reese, it is so her!

Come to think of it, so is this!  We decided to try out the corn maze which was a big mistake.  It was nearly 90 degrees outside, took us nearly 40 minutes to get through & this chicky didn't know what she wanted.  One second it was up, the next second it was down!  I was so relieved when we finally found the exit! This girl is too much.. yesterday as I picked her up from daycare, her teacher told me that she had an excellent day, other than spilling her cup of water on the snack table.  She did it on purpose moments before I arrived & went from all smiles after seeing me, to hysterically crying when I questioned why she did that.  Then I re-told the story to Grammy in the car, but Reese quickly sushed me since she was embarrassed.  She's too smart for her own good.


My big five year old hit a milestone this weekend when he finally moved up in our church's children's ministry.  Since we started at Church of the Suncoast, Cameron was always in the Mangroves & started as a four month old.  After becoming members, we began watching the kids periodically, so it was a big deal that he move to the Beach since we've always had him in the room with us.  I definitely shed some tears on Sunday morning.  I am not good with change!  Speaking of change, we're already giving kindergarten a thought even though it feels like Cam just started pre-K.  We're figuring out which school he'll attend & where he'll go for wrap-around care.  Education is so incredibly important & I want him to start on a really positive foot.

This morning I got up bright & early to take Grammy (and her dog, Lucy) to the airport.  We're always sad to see her go, but at least we know she's coming back for another visit in January.  If it wasn't so darn expensive to travel & we had endless vacation time, we would head up more more often than we do!

Reese went gaga over this precious four week old baby goat.  It was positively adorable!!  When a worker finally came to take it away, I had a very ticked off girl on my hands!

I love fall weekends & all of the activities that go with it!

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Down on the farm

We recently heard about a local farm near us called McMicky's Farm so we headed over to check it out on Sunday.

Despite it being nearly mid-October, it's still pretty darn hot here, but the heat has let up a bit.  During the summer you would not catch me on a farm.  A hot Allison = a miserable Allison & that's no fun for anyone!

Our farm visit was a little tricky since we got paired into a group that toured around for an hour & a half.  They asked that everyone stay together which is never easy when you have an almost two year old with you who has a very determined mind of their own!  Besides a few fits & meltdowns, Reese had a really great time & so did Cam!

The kids loved holding & petting the chickens!  Reese is so bossy so she kept yelling, "Mommy, pet it!"  Don't get me wrong, I really love animals but I just didn't care to pet the chicken!  I also heard no less then fifty times, "Mommy, let's go!" as she dragged me where she wanted to be.

Cam's favorite part was riding the horse.

 And Reese took her first ever horse ride on a mini pony too!  I wasn't sure how she'd react to it, but she loved it!

I love getting the kids out of the house during the weekend since when we're home, it's nearly impossible to pull Cam away from his Mario video games.

Reese enjoyed rocking her new Bears dress for the game that they sadly ended up losing!

I also discovered that Reese doesn't exclusively boss humans, but also animals as well.  I overheard her shouting, "No, come here!" and realized she was talking to the baby goat.  That girl is unbelievable.  But, funny enough, the goat listened to her & followed her over to this little bench where they both rested!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

DIY Halloween wreath on the cheap!

I love putting wreaths on our front door for each holiday, but because they're so darn expensive, I don't have any for Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving.  Most run around $50+ a piece & we have 2 front doors, so that just ain't happenin'!  I am by absolutely no means a crafty person since I lack the patience, time & skill, but when I was browsing Pinterest one day, I noticed a simple DIY Halloween wreath & decided to give it a go!  Click here for the site I referred to.  I hit Hobby Lobby & it ended up costing me about $12 total for the orange burlap, 2 straw wreaths, black mesh backing & large rubber spiders from the dollar store.

Lauren came over to make one too, we had a glass of wine & got our craft on!  If you decide to make one yourself, I have a few tips.  #1 Leave the plastic wrapping around the straw wreath or you'll have a major mess on your hands.  I learned that the hard way.  #2 Burlap is very messy so there was orange fuzz all over myself & the carpet.  #3 If you live in a very hot climate like me, don't hot glue the spiders on because they will melt off.  Again, found out the hard way.  I ended up sewing the spiders onto the wreaths.  

But, they ended up coming out great & I love the finished product!  Now that it's officially October, I busted out the rest of our Fall decorations.

Our Fall leaf runner is on our kitchen table,

I picked up this skull runner for only $2.99 at Ross & added it to our kitchen island.

I picked up this hurricane glass from Pottery Barn many, many years ago & change it up depending on the season.

I created scary pictures of each of us on PicMonkey & popped them in to $0.95 4x6 frames from Walmart.  I know, I really splurged on that one!

Last year Grammy made us these pumpkin place mats to represent my little pumpkins, Cameron & Reese.

And I put fake pumpkins & leaves that I bought a couple of years ago up on the fridge.  All of my decorations are extremely inexpensive & I reuse them year-to-year to save money.  Making your house festive for the holidays doesn't have to break the bank!

Hop over to Cam & Reese's blog to see pictures from Cameron's SpongeBob party Sunday.  We all had a great time!

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