Monday, July 28, 2014

A Pirate's Life for Me

I think my brother said it best, when he asked me this weekend:

You really commit to a theme, don't you?

Um, have you met me?!

I LOVE party planning. And I'm sorry in advance kids, but you'll have a themed party long after you've outgrown them. 

Sock-monkeys (just realized I never blogged that one... throwback post in the future...) choo-choo trains and this year pirates? 

Yo ho! Let's go!

Henry loves Jake & The Neverland Pirates Lately, so we already had some of the toys around the house, but anything I bought is already being put to good use by my little pirate. (You be Hook, Mom. I be Jake.)

We had a blast!
Yep, those are votive candles on the cake. Mom of the year over here couldn't find the birthday candles.
Jake & The Neverland Pirats. Everywhere!
Cake Table! Details Below.
Signage is important. You wouldn't want your guests forgetting where they are.
 Details, details! Doubloons, "Fish N Chips," Cannonball Swords...
Treasure Dig, cake table and Pirate Garb table.
Want the details?

Pirate Garb Station:
Inflatable swords (Party City)
Eye Patches and pirate earrings (Party City)
Pirate Hats (Amazon)
Pirate Tattoos (Amazon)

Buried Treasure Dig:
Bones (Party City)
Gold Doubloons (Amazon)
Jewels (Amazon)
Water Table (Amazon)

Cake Station:
Instagram Prints (Snapfish)
Happy Birthday Sign (Target)
Pirate Plates & Napkins (Target)
Cake (Creative Cakes)
Jake Sword (Amazon)
Bucky Pirate Ship (Toys R Us)

Invitations, not pictured (Tiny Prints)
Pirate Ship Bounce House and Slide (Midway Rentals, NW Indiana & Chicagoland)
Small Chalkboards 14"x14" (Amazon)
Large Chalkboard (Ikea)
Treasure Chest Pinata (Party City)
Treasure Chest Goodie Bags, not pictured (Amazon)
"Fish N Chips" Jake Buckets (Party City)
Jake & The Neverland Pirate Wall Decals, not pictured  (Amazon)
Pirate Ship Tent, not pictured (Amazon)

What was your favorite party theme as a child? What was your favorite to create for your kid?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stroller in the Skies

(Below is a copy of an email to Southwest after a minor inconvenience. Their response to follow. I was limited to a certain number of characters or I would have been more descriptive.)
First off I would just like to say that you are my preferred airline.

That being said I feel the need to let you know about a recent negative experience. I'm notifying you, so that you have the opportunity to make it better for your customers in the future.

A business man may claim that his laptop is his most important carry-on. A leisurely traveler might say its a book. A mother on the other hand will tell you: I would lose my mind in an airport without a stroller.

I recently checked our stroller at a gate for a return flight, a regular occurrence. It's always there waiting for me on the jetway upon arrival. I've never given it a second thought.

However on this flight it was not waiting for us. I checked with a flight attendant and a gate agent, who were friendly. Both told me the stroller was likely sent to baggage claim and that I should check there.

Herein lies my problem. We have a toddler (3) and a baby (9 months.) The baby is a solid 21 pounds. And the toddler moves at a rate that nearly has him moving backwards, especially in an airport with so much to see. You can imagine how much fun it was getting said baby, said toddler, and all of our gear from the gate to baggage claim, where we continued to wait another 20 minutes for every last bag to be claimed, before I was allowed to file a claim.

John at claims was very friendly. But my 21 pounder was definitely weighing on me. (Sidenote: I also noticed the blatant mistreatment of another couple by the manager on duty, who refused to file a claim for them.)

Yesterday, the stroller was waiting for us on the front step. Thank you for returning it.

I know mistakes happen. But, the real problem? At no point in all of this were we offered any help getting our family from the gate, to our vehicle.

It was a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience none-the-less. I'm looking for a minor advantage in exchange. Suggested options:

-A1 boarding on a future flight + VIP treatment at check-in and security
-A massage
-An adult beverage. Or 5.

I will give you one last option:
-A video of your CEO in my position: carrying a 21 pounder plus his carry-on and a kiddy bag from our gate to the terminal at the slowest rate possible. This rep must answer a constant steam of unending toddler questions. Preferably he/she is at the end of their shift or a very long day of travel.

Thank you in advance for making sure every parent who needs one, has a stroller ready for them in the future.

What was your best airport experience? What was your worst?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Looking Back

-C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Parental Time Warp

There's this strange time-warp phenomena when you're a parent. Time slows down, speeds up, turns around on itself in seemingly impossible ways. And you can't keep track. It's impossible. Time runs away from you before you even think to try and grab at it.

Our first baby just turned three. But, yesterday--wait wasn't that just yesterday?-- we were bringing him home from the hospital in a newborn-sized diaper. How are we at big boy batman underwear already? How? 

Not rhetorical.

How could three years possibly have passed in what seems like overnight? Is there some mathematical formula for this?

More impossible, still is that in that blink of an eye there were some impossibly long moments, too. Moments that dragged on forever. Night feedings and tantrums and flights that would never end. 

And still thousands of tiny spurts of perfect moments, too. Laughs and smiles, and oh look you're rolling over, crawling, walking, running... wait for me!

Seriously, wait.

I'm sure many of you are more familiar than I am with the parental time-warp. You probably blinked at one point to find fully grown humans in your household, eating through your pantry faster than you can stock it.

Were they ever really little? Or did you simply imagine that?

And still more of you glanced away for a second--it couldnt have been more than a second, right?-- to find your babies having babies.

As if that were even possible.

Some days I want to rewind. Some days I want to fast-forward. Some days I don't even know yesterday from tomorrow.

But I don't think I'll ever understand how the long days and nights add up to impossibly short years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Eventual Man.

I remember a moment in the hospital after Henry was born. It was the very first time I was alone with him. After all the doctors and nurses had left, and Mark had gone to find coffee.

He was all bundled up, lying in his little hospital cradle. So tiny, so sweet. 

Eyes wide.

Those wide blue eyes startled me. My heart raced.

Because in the twelve hours since he'd arrived in our world, I hadn't had a chance to let it sink in. Let him sink in. And he was just looking at me... connecting. Intensely, yet calm and serene like he'd already been here for a thousand years.

Here I am, mom. Are you ready for this journey?

And in this moment I really saw him: This little person. This eventual man.

It occurred to me then, that this little nugget was already himself. He already had a personality. He already had opinions, hopes, dreams and talents. He had it all. He has it all. And three years later, it's starting to shine through.

He can say things like I love you, Mom.

I don't like that.

Me happy.

It's okay, buddy. (to Will, when he's crying)

Me come, too, Daddy. Me help, too.

Sometimes there's a naughty little twinkle in his eye. Sometimes there's a big belly laugh that catches me off guard because, really how can he already understand my humor? 

He'll only dance to jazz. He memorizes his favorite books faster than I can. Getting him to sing is nearly impossible. But ask him to roar, and you'll think you're at the zoo. 

Occasionally there are tears. Big, fat tears that I wish I could halt immediately. I want to be on his side always. Even when I don't, even when he's wrong. Does that even make sense?

My little person? This eventual man? I get to meet a little bit more of him every day. And his little journey in this world brings me great joy. He brings me great joy.

Henry, you grow more and more into the person you were meant to be every day. I love that person and I love you.

Happy 3rd Birthday, my sweet Henry. Here's to many, many more.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Grand Old Flag

A happy and safe 4th of July, folks!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Your Moment: A Mighty Roar

This post is part of a new blog series called Your Moment. Details below.

Copyright @Katie
Meet Jack. He is roaring at the ocean. Because when you're 16 months old, if you want to be bigger and badder than the entire ocean, you can be. Let's all approach the world and our fears with a roar today and do something great! Thanks for the inspiration, Jack!

Thanks to Jack's mom, Katie from North Carolina for sharing this moment. Katie is a work-at-home mom to two wonderful boys and wife to Patrick who, "inspires me everyday," she says. You can find Katie and her food blog HERE or her crafty Facebook page HERE

Your Moment is a series featuring you, my dear readers and all of your heartfelt, hysterical or heavenly moments. Each post will include an image (copyrighted to you, professional and amateur photos accepted!) a caption, and a link-up to your blog or business (if applicable, but not neccessary) with your approval on all copy and photos before publishing. Email your moments to me at to be featured or for more details! I'm looking for some great photos to feature!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Laurealism Library: Volume 2

I received a lot of great feedback (and so many messages!) from those of you who enjoyed Laurealism Library: Volume 1. So here I am with a second dose for you. And like last time, you'll find the below list in order from least enjoyed to most enjoyed.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnavon
Pick this up if: You like detailed, historical non-fiction. You like books others tend to think are a bit boring.
You'd also enjoy: I have no suggestions here because I hardly read non-fiction!
Rating: 2/5

Notes: This was just a little dry for me. I was looking for a little more gossip, a little more juice. Non-fiction that reads like fiction. And this book just wasn't that for me. I'd rather watch Downton Abbey!

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
Pick this up if: You want an easy to read, historical fiction.
Rating: 3/5

Notes: This was an entertaining idea, and I got through it very quickly. Definitely pick this up if all you read is historical fiction. But if you're looking for something to change your life, this probably isn't it. Though it did inspire me to do a little more research on the history of Indians in North America. 

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Pick this up if: You're overdue for a classic or want something you can finish in an afternoon.
You'd also enjoy: Of Mice and Men and The Sun Also Rises
Rating: 3/5

Notes: This is a simple book. It's a simple story about a simple man. But it resonates and is worth reading. Maybe even while fishing!

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Pick this up if: You're curious about all the hype.
You'd also enjoy: The Hunger Games
Rating: 3/5

Notes: I like a good dystopian novel, and Divergent didn't disappoint.

The Vacationers: A Novel by Emma Straub
Pick this up if: You need something to read by the pool. Or on the beach. Or in the sun (take me with you?)
You'd also enjoy: What Alice Forgot
Rating: 3.5/5

Notes: It was easy to like The Vacationers. Straub does and excellent job of making the relationships in this novel very real. And she ties everything up in the end into a nice, happy, little bow. Which is definitely a quality you want in a summer read.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Pick this up if: You want a little adventure, a little imagination and a good message.
Rating: 4/5

Notes: If you've seen the movie, you may want to skip the book. But if you haven't seen the film yet... go for it, so worth it.

Orphan Train: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline
Pick this up if: You don't mind a few tears.
You'd also enjoy: The Book Thief and The Other Boleyn Girl
Rating: 4/5

Notes: This book got better and better as I read it. And even though I just finished it last night, I miss it already.

A Trip to the Stars: A Novel by Nicholas Christopher
Pick this up if: You want a solid novel, filled with great writing and characters to really fall in love with.
You'd also enjoy: And the Mountains Echoed
Rating: 5/5

Notes: I just really, really loved this one. I often highlight all of my favorite passages in books, and this one had so many. There's a touch of heartache, magic and mystery. But it is a story to fall in love in with. It also inspired me to do a little more research on constellations, which is fun!

Rating Scale:
1- Um, there are grammar errors.
2- Skip it. I likely didn't finish it.
3- A solidly good book.
4- Must-read list
5- My All-time Favorites

Disclaimer: The above links will likely send you to Amazon, for which I am an affiliate (and where I purchased all of these books.) All opinions are my own.

That should keep you occupied for awhile! What are you reading? What book is next on your list?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Me Happy


Remember me? I know it's been awhile, but life has been happening around here. Crazy, busy life.

There were a lot of moments I should have blogged. Henry pooped in the backyard, and then wanted to shovel it up (apparently paying more attention to the dogs than we thought.) William has started scooting around on his belly, but I'm doubtful he'll crawl because he's getting everywhere he needs to with his little belly method. 

You know, regular life things.
A different side of Vegas.
Mark and I took a trip to Vegas for a friend's wedding-- it was great to have some "we" time. Mark turned 30 last week, and we had a great weekend celebrating with friends and family.

Too much fun at Mark's birthday party.
But when I woke up this morning, I promised myself a blog post,  and so here I am. I'll find something to write about, I thought. Like finding something with a toddler and a baby is hard.

As I type, William is napping and Henry has just put his pants in time out. Why are your pants in time out, Henry?

Pants hit me, Mom. Hit me on my back. I didn't see his pants hit him, but I'm just gonna go ahead and trust him on this one. (Cue stern mom-voice) 2-minute time out, pants. Starting now.

The words out of his mouth lately are just hilarious. This morning we were putting together a space puzzle, and once it was complete he was pointing to everything and asking, what's this? Here's a transcript of the conversation:

H: What's this?
Mom: The Sun.

H: What's this?
Mom: Mars.

H: What's this?
Mom: Earth.

H: What's this?
Mom: Uranus.
H: My anus? Oh. Yay, myanus!

I can't make this stuff up, folks.

But sometimes its the simplest statements that are the most memorable ones. Like a couple of weeks ago, when Henry said Love you, Mommy. Or this morning when in the middle of playing a silly game, Henry looked up at me, smiling and said:

Me happy, mommy.

Me happy, too, kid. Me happy, too.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Water is Life

It's no secret: I LOVE books. And I just wanted to take a second to point out a book that is literally life-changing... what an incredible idea:

Learn more about WATERisLife and their amazing programs here.