Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A day in the life

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and U by Kotex but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #UbyKotex  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV


It's time to wake up. I rub my eyes, kiss my daughter on the cheek, and tell her I'll be right back as I go to get her crying brother that has recently built this internal clock that deems it necessary to wake up on the 6th hour. Never failing. I slowly slip out of my husband's hold and make my way to the hallway.

I stumble running into the basket of clothes that I had sat out a couple days before {folded mind you} reminding me that I need to put them away today. I open the door, and I see him. I see him standing there, pouting his face, reaching his little arms up at me. I scoop him up, turn off the sound monitor and bring him into our bedroom.

This is one of our favorite times in the morning, as I have the chance to feed him, touch his soft skin, and kiss his sweet little forehead. He attempts to fall asleep, but it isn't long before big sister realizes that he's in bed with her and she can no longer contain her excitement.

"Graham man! You're here! I'm so happy {kiss kiss} to see you! Did you have sweet dreams {squeeze, squeeze."

With his eyes closed, he fling his arms up in the air trying to push her body out of his way.

He's unsuccessful.


We make our way downstairs. The kids each have a banana, and I attempt to begin to clean up what was the remains {as I like to call it} from the dinner the night before. I wait for the water to boil, then pour it into the kids' bowls of oatmeal. Graham sits where Elliana used to sit, and she sits in his high chair. Her choice, don't ask. He gets a bib. A strawberry bib. And a place mat. A pink place mat. Spoons in, and they go to town.

When they finish, I wipe their faces and rush them to go play already. While I try to finish what I started.


Andrew comes downstairs. I finish packing his lunch. Spaghetti and meatballs from the night before. A bowl of vegetables. Three clementines. A bag of pretzels and other snacks. Granola and yogurt on the side. A couple easter eggs in the side pocket. His lunch box is overflowing, and that's just the way I like it. Knowing his belly is full.

He hugs everyone goodbye, and there's a lot of hugs and kissing going around. Except E. She's cranky pants in the morning and there is no getting any kind of kisses out of her. The kids then stand by the window and wave "BUH-BYE" as they watch his car drive on by.

Now, we start our day.

The kids play in the playroom while I finish the dishes and throw a couple loads of laundry in. We then end up upstairs to brush our teeth, switch into our day clothes, and make our beds.


Nap time for Graham. I go upstairs to feed him and put him down, while E plays. After he finishes, I head back down and we begin our school time. We start with writing the date on the calendar, and talking about the weather today. I then write 2-3 sentences about the plans for our day and E reads them out loud. I circle any words that she may have trouble reading and we repeat them and talk about them. I then use those words to focus on throughout the day with different projects like---spelling it on paper, outlining it with glue, and then adding gems to it.

We then move along to "Star-reading" where she picks a star and picks a book and we look for that sight word. She screams when she finds it! A chocolate chip for every word found.

Our daily craft is next.

Then comes brain quest, some coloring, and finally finish it off with a little math. If we have some time left before Graham wakes up, we go to the learning station and find other things to do.


Graham wakes up. I feed him, and then I use the next 30 minutes-hour to devote to his learning--puzzles, word fishing, talking about colors of the cars, flashcards, and anything and everything else that is around us.


Lunch time. I wash, cut, and serve. Repeat. I might sneak in a few bites in for myself as well. Throw the wet laundry into the drier {you know, from this morning}, and do more dishes. I let the dog out at this time to go potty, and go grab the mail while I'm at it.

After lunch the kids are always begging to go outside by this time, and I am always more than ready.


Time to pack my diaper bag for our time out and about.

I run through my list that I have drilled in my head:

1. Extra pair of clothes for Graham, and extra undies and pants for E {haven't had to use it yet, but just in case}.
2. An extra cloth diaper for Graham, cloth wipes, and a bag to put a dirty diaper in.
3. A water bottle to keep refreshed.
4.Sanitizer, floss, tissues, napkins {for the messy kids}, lip gloss, hairbrush, and thermometer.
5. Hair bow & bib.
6. Truck & train for the busy boy.
7. Sunscreen
8. A sticker/doodle pad and crayons for the busy girl.
9. Snacks & sunglasses {because those two go together, obviously}.
10. U by Kotex Sleek Tampons and Cleanwear Pads. Even though I am still breastfeeding, I did unfortunately have the return of the inevitable a few months back, and being constantly on the go meant that I had this added worry in the back of my mind. Now, I prepare myself by having U by Kotex in by bag where I can easily slip into my hand or back of my pocket at any instant.
As an added bonus, you can now head into Walmart and pick up a box of U by Kotex Sleek Tampons or Cleanwear Pads and get a pack of three Goody hair elastics for free, while supplies last.

We're out the door.

"Which park do you want to go to, baby" I ask Elliana.
"Hmm.... how about the neighborhood park" she replies. I never know exactly which of the 8 she will say. They all have a name {even if it's not the real one}, and we're always looking to add more to the list.

The kids play. They run, and go down slides, and swing, and play. I sit {when I can}, and enjoy the beautiful weather. It's the perfect temperature this time of year. Not too hot, and not too cold. It's nice to also have the park all to ourselves. To watch the water from the bench, and hear the beautiful laughter of my children being kids.

I call them back an hour in to enjoy a snack and some water. They scarf it down, gulp it down, and back they go. Elliana's face is red from running, Graham's hair is wet from the heat. They're enjoying themselves. 

Graham then decides he's ready to go home and says "Ca-Ca-Ca" while proceeding to walk to the door. I get it son, I get it. Try telling the sister though it's time to go home. Even though we've been there for two hours.

We make our way back to the car and head home.


We're home. Graham's unhappy, he doesn't want to go inside.  He would live outside if I let him. We head in, I nurse him and then make the kids some granola and yogurt. They chow it down and of course leave a large mess for me to clean up. Thankfully E is now accustomed to cleaning up her own mess, but I have not yet trained that little one. I'll let him pass since he's still 16 months old.

I get the load of laundry out and fold it {if I'm lucky to not get distracted}, and attempt to throw another load in.


Cranky monster is rubbing his eyes and whining at me. Nap time mama, did you forget? Ah yes, so I go upstairs, feed him and put him down.

Books. Elliana and I dive into our bag of library books and cuddle on the couch.  


Graham's awake. I bring him downstairs. Change his diaper {don't worry I've changed multiple today, just haven't mentioned it}, and feed him again. I get dinner started. I pull the vegetables out and start cutting. Peppers. Tomatoes. Onions. Spinach. Pepperoni. Cheese. It doesn't help that I eat a little bit of everything that I am chopping and placing on the pizza.


PAPA'S HOME!!!!!!!!! And yes it's that exciting for all of us. More hugs and kisses go around, the dog gets let out {because he's barking up a storm and jumping all over Andrew}, and then Andrew quickly runs upstairs to get changed.  

We sit down as a family, as we always do. I hope our children always remember the importance of sitting down for dinner, talking about our day, and thanking the Lord for another day of life.

Andrew goes to mow the lawn while I get the kids bathed. This also means that I jump right in with them, because after the day we had---I needed it bad.We splash. We play with the alphabet letters in the water. And we sit in there far too long.

We get out {eventually} and Elliana requests "SANTA PJ'S!!" What else is new? I'm ready for them to not fit anymore, because it is seriously the end of the world when they are in the washer to be washed. Graham is pretty compliant with what I dress him in. For now.


We read a couple night time stories, Andrew comes in to shower, and then we part ways. I take Graham man to go nurse him and rock him. He takes E to go facetime with all the family members and wish them goodnight.

I kiss my sweet boy, and sneak out the door and go into our room where I find my other two loves. I snuggle with E and watch as she falls asleep. It's time for us to walk out.

We get a snack, grab the blanket, and it's couch time with the TV on. Roku since we no longer have cable. And it feels nice. To be in his arms. To talk about the day {mostly the kids}, and to have the house quiet and free of any noise. To think.

I fall asleep way too soon, and then we both head upstairs to call it a night. It's been a good day. A great day, and we are ready to see what tomorrow brings. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 5 Healthier Alternatives

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TENways  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Spring is here. Summer is right around the corner. And all of us are trying to figure out how to drop the extra weight that we gained over the course of the longest winter ever. It also seems like a common theme this time of year---bikini season preparation as some people like to call it. 

Everyone is looking toward dieting. Everyone is trying out all the different work out regimens out there. And changes are being made all around.

People often ask me what diet I am on and what things I like to do for exercise and it's hard for me to answer them exactly. I don't do anything strict. I don't like to restrict myself from things that I normally love, but I am always looking for changes to be made and to be made in a positive way. Changes that do not just last for a month or two, but are those that we can stick to permanently. For the most part. I say for the most part because there is just no way for us to be perfect in our diets all the time. There are factors to consider. For instance, when we are invited to be dinner guests at another person's home. Will I tell my friends that I will not eat their meatballs because she made them out of beef instead of what we normally do, turkey? The answer is no. The same goes for our decision to eat mainly organic, limit our sweets, and have a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

There are always splurges, and for us that is okay. 

At home, I have cravings as well and I like to make the healthier choice when it comes to those cravings.

Here is a list of my 5 favorite options to making healthier changes:

1. TEN Beverages. When I am craving a soda, I like to go for the one that gives me the full taste without the full calories. I don't want to miss out on the delicious taste, and at the same time, I don't want to drink all my calories away with a regular pop. This is where the TEN beverages come in, and my favorite of the four being 7up. I purchased mine at Walmart, and they currently have a great deal going on that ends 4/17. 

Get this coupon for 0.50 off of two 2 liter bottles or 2 four pack cans of 7UP TEN, A&W TEN, Canada Dry TEN, RC TEN or Sunkist TEN soda. Even better, share it with your friends and that coupon becomes $1.50 off! Offer available while supplies last.

2. Fruit Ice Cream. When I am craving ice cream, especially during the hot summer days, I am craving something cold and sweet. The thing that I have found that helps satisfy that craving is by making my own ice cream out of fruit. It's as simple as blending any fruit you prefer {one flavor or a mix of flavors}, putting them in popsicle mold and placing them in the freezer. My kids love it and cannot tell the difference!

3.  Granola+Yogurt+Fruit. At night is when I have found to have the biggest sweet tooth. I want something sweet and crunchy, and my favorite go-to snack has turned into something my entire family asks for. Daily. I make my own granola, I had a little bit of vanilla yogurt, and then I top it with whatever fruit I have available in the fridge. I even throw in a couple chocolate chips just to satisfy that chocolate craving. 

4. Salads for lunch. I have found that by substituting a meal with a salad {lunch or dinner}, that I have more energy and I just feel better overall. Now, to be honest with you, I used to be that person that always hated salads. I never understood why anyone just wanted to eat leaves for a meal, and most of all, it never filled me up! I figured it out---I was doing it all wrong. I was not putting the right ingredients on. Now, I fill my salad with slices of ham, almonds and walnuts, tomatoes and peppers, and clementines and strawberries. It is the perfect mix of food and I never complain of being hungry after eating a single bowl. 

5. Turkey instead of beef. We made the switch about 5 years ago and we have never looked back. I truthfully cannot tell the difference, and I actually prefer the turkey taste over the beef. We use turkey for our meatballs, our tacos, our chili, burgers, and so forth. There is no special trick to it, you simply just eliminate the beef and use ground turkey instead. And it is so much healthier for you!


There you have it, my simple 5 healthier alternatives that I think are easy, do-able, and most importantly, delicious.

All this food talk not only made me hungry, but thirsty as well. I'm going to go pour myself a glass of 7UP TEN, and make myself a yogurt granola fruit parfait with a side of ice cream as well.

Now just get me a beach and an umbrella and I'm set. 

Want more information on the different TEN beverages? Visit the links below:

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Kentucky Derby Essentials: A List of a Man's GO-TO Needs

 “This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Scandinavian Tobacco Group Lane, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CuberoLuxury http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV
When Andrew and I started dating, there were new and exciting {and sometimes i things that we would introduce to one another.

I showed him what it was like to live in a big city and go to the grocery store without fearing you would run into every person from school.
He showed me what it was like to live in a small town and know every detail about Mary, Bob, and Sue.

I showed him what it was like to come from a different country and try to understand the weird Russian culture that surrounded us.
He showed me what it was like to be born in the United States and actually understand the common phrases that I still struggle with catching on to this day.

I showed him the world of risk taking in Euchre.
He showed me what it was like to risk take in horse betting. 

He opened my eyes to the famous Kentucky Derby.

I attended my first Kentucky Derby when I started dating Andrew. I remembered reading about it, I remembered seeing it on television, and I surely remembered my brother who happens to be in love with horse racing talk about it quite frequently. But had I imagined ever actually going? Not in my wildest dreams.

The best memories have been made during that famous first weekend in May. And since having children, and my in-laws moving out of state, there have been less opportunities of me being able to go. However, because Andrew's entire family goes {and tons of friends}, he definitely does not miss out on this yearly tradition.

And who's to blame him?

Because we will miss him terribly in a few weeks when he goes, and because I want him well taken care of, I made him a small little survival kit of items that can easily all fit into his pockets. All of the items mentioned below could easily be applied to any event for a significant other.

Wedding gift idea. A night out essentials guide. Birthday night items on the go.

All products may be purchased at Walmart
1. Cubero Cigars. I bought mine at Walmart and these will be perfect for him to take on the day of the race. Small, compact, and made with premium tobacco and a natural wrapper. One thing that is essential for all the men at the Derby is cigars. Cubero is one high quality tobacco brands within the cigar industry. The brand was developed by Lane Limited and comes in aromatic and flavorable qualities.

2. Toothpaste with compact toothbrush & Gum.  Fresh breath. This is perfect to slip in the pocket and not having to worry of it taking up a lot of space. Another thing I contemplated on getting instead is the little wisk brushes that come with toothpaste already on them. Those are a great alternative as well.

3. A snack. Because every man needs a full belly.

4. Deoderant. Hot weather and lots of cheering= sweaty husband.

5. Sunglasses. Protect his eyes, and not to mention watch his horse run to the finish line.

6. Money. You have to spend money to make money.

7. Lucky penny. Lastly, this is important to go with number 6. Must have his lucky charm with him at all times.

So there you have it, the go-to survival guide 101.

Everything you could possibly need that fits perfectly in a man's pocket.