Tuesday, July 30, 2013

There's one at every story time.

Fort Worth has a plethora of story times. Seriously, there is one every single day (weekends included) in all different places (besides the 16 public libraries, think Chick-fil-a, Barnes & Noble, the Kimbell Art Museum, etc.) at different times of the day. It's one of the great advantages of living in a big city. Growing up in my town of 25K (which I loved, not hating here,) story time was at 10 AM on Wednesday at the public library, and that was that. (And that will always and forever be my favorite public library. The smell reminds me of my childhood for a myriad of reasons.)

This summer we've been making the story time circuit. One, I want to instill a love for reading in my kids, two, it takes us out of the house which is necessary for me, and three, it's free, air conditioned entertainment. And when I say entertainment, I mean for both children and mommy.

It's not a cool storytime without a craft.

There are all kinds of moms and kids there. The kid that wants to stand in front of the book the entire time. The overly enthusiastic mom (oops, that's me.) The crying baby (oops, also occasionally us.) The mom who looks outnumbered. The kid who wants to be playing puzzles in the corner instead. The kid who is actively engaged and is a story time pro (we're getting there.) The mom on her cell phone (at times also me: trying to get a pic for Fort Worth Moms Blog.) There is also at least one grandparent and sitter there. I don't want to leave them out.

I could go on and on.

No matter which story time we go to, the same bit players are there. It's this excellent melting pot of motherhood and childhood where crunchy granola moms and store-bought moms are living in harmony. At story time, everyone is happy!

Especially at the story time where the reader passes out Cheerios.

Do you find the same characters at your story time? Which one are you?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Five on Friday - Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know that currently Nordstrom is hosting their annual, very awesome sale. I'm back today with an anniversary sale-inspired Five on Friday!

Here are my top 5 basic picks. When I say basic, I mean quality go-to pieces that everyone can use/wear/love.

ONE: Michael Kors Chain Link Bracelet. I love the chain link detail. I do not need another watch, but maybe you do? If so, this one is a great price! And did you know that Michael Kors timepieces are actually made by Fossil? Very good quality, repair, and warranty.

TWO: The Kate Spade Hancock Park - Stacy wallet. I have another metallic wallet by Kate Spade that has lasted beautifully for several years. This one has a bow, and I love that. It's marked down almost $45 from the regular price. Bargain!

THREE: Vince Camuto Mikey Crossbody. This is a good, low-key crossbody--perfect for traveling. And the suede and pebbled leather mixed? Winner. There aren't any reviews on the site, but based on some other VC items I own (shoes) I imagine it's well made. I'd remove the hang tag, but that's just me.

FOUR: Caslon Knit Tunic. This is such a great, easy throw on and go tunic, which would have been equally perfect in my prior life at the office, as well as now playing trucks with my little guy. Good price point and comes in fun stripes that wouldn't look like "whoa! stripes across the rear" if you know what I'm saying. I would probably pair it with grey leggings and a long gold necklace.

FIVE: And last but certainly not least, New Balance 990s for little boys are on sale for $29.90-$39.90, depending on the size. These are never on sale, so this is a great deal! They even have wide sizes online. I've already placed the order for our next size up.

{all images from Nordstrom}

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Babies are not Staying Babies!

I have been completely gobsmacked over the past couple of days because Jack has transitioned to his big boy bed.

Yes, the bed has been in his room since before he was born, waiting for this day.

Yes, I have been asking him about once a week for a month if he was interested in napping in it. (Answer: "No, Mommy. I sleep in my little bed.")

But this week? He took me up on it.

I wasn't ready for it. But he was. He's done it on own his terms, in his own time, which is what I wanted. And I will be okay with it. Hopefully before he goes off to college.

Annabelle is already in the exersaucer. She took to it like a queen on her throne, rotating around in the seat, surveying her domain. Where did my tiny girl go?

It's heartbreaking and a total delight both at the same time.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Family Vacation at Hyatt Regency Hill Country

Last week, we headed off for a short vacation with some friends and their children. From the moment we arrived at the main entrance of the Hyatt Regency Hill Country in San Antonio, I knew my expectations would be exceeded. It was totally decked out in Independence Day trim, and I LOVE patriotic holiday celebrating, from July 4 to Veterans Day.

They had me at bunting.


I really didn't know anything about the resort other than it had a lazy river and did s'mores and movies under the stars at the end of each day. Just that and a pool was good enough for us.

When we checked in, they provided us with a schedule of activities for each day. And as a matter of fact, at 7 PM that very evening, Betsy Ross was narrating story time in the lobby. (It was Independence Day week.) That was after the s'mores but before the movie (The Incredibles.)

After shimmying into our swim suits (and considering the baby I had four months ago, shimmying is probably an apt description for the tugging, pulling, and otherwise huffing and puffing I did to get into mine. I'm working on it.) we headed off to the water area.

I present to you: Things that are adorable, Exhibit A

We probably only swam around for an hour that day. It was overcast and during that crazy cold snap we had here in Texas. I think the high for the day was 88. I would never have guessed that in a million years when I booked this trip. About the time we got used to the cold water, it was time to jump out for s'mores. The girls building the fire in the s'more fire pit were definitely not girl scouts. It took forever. But it was worth it for the little guy's happiness!

Melting a marshmallow with Dad

That evening we grabbed supper at one of the resort's outdoor grills. It was perfectly passable for hotel food, and I had a delicious hand-squeezed cherry limeade. We lucked out and got rooms on the main floor of the hotel that were close to all the activities, so we ran back to the room to change into comfies for the movie.

We missed out on the hotel-provided blankets for the lawn, but I had actually packed one so no worries. This is one of the times when it paid off to be traveling with an infant: I pack everything under the sun.

Things that are adorable: Exhibit B.

The following day, the guys spent the entire morning floating and playing in the sand (there is a little beach), while the girls hung out riverside. Our kids are still nappers, so that's where we spent the second half of the day while our friends stayed and played.

We took it off property for supper at Mi Tierra in the San Antonio Mercado, a quick pass by the Alamo, and a short walk down the Riverwalk for dessert. Downtown San Antonio was about 20 minutes away, and we were right across the interstate from Sea World. Great location!

After another morning at the river area and the baby pool and OH, a Revolutionary War re-enactment/presentation, we checked out and headed back north to good old Cowtown.

This was a great first vacation as a family of four, and it was nice traveling with friends, as always! Jack loved being with the big kids. The Hyatt actually had a family package that we took advantage of, in order to be placed in adjoining rooms with them. We were able to socialize but also have privacy when we needed it. Two nights was a good stay length with children as young as ours.

I can't say enough good things about how wonderful this resort is for young families who want a little getaway. There are tons of children's activities and contests, plenty of shaded lounge chairs and pools for the fair skinned littles, and of course, the hospitality was wonderful.

Two thumbs up for the Hyatt Hill Country!

(I received no compensation for this post. Hyatt has no idea who I am!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Annabelle is 4 Months Old!

Our sweet and beautiful daughter is already four months old!

(Actually more like 4 1/2, but I didn't even keep up well doing these types of posts with only one child, so there you go.)

Cliche, yes, but the time is passing so quickly. Her check up was last week, and she was in the 90th percentile in weight and height. She's hitting all her milestones, sitting up in the bumbo quite well, and this week I introduced her to the exersaucer which quickly became her favorite. She can see all the action, and her joy knows no bounds!

She started rice cereal a few weeks ago, and my pedi backed me up that she's fine to have it. I mix a little baby applesauce and formula in it for the right consistency and feed it to her in the evening to help satisfy her. I know some people have differing opinions on this stuff, but it works well for us.

She smiles all the time--she's just happy to be here. We are so blessed to call this sweet soul our girl!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We've Been Married 8 Years!

Today we're off celebrating our 8 year anniversary!

Picture of a picture because our pics were on film.

Yes, we are that old!

Eight years ago today, we started one of our biggest adventures. And eight years ago tomorrow, we were off on one of our favorite vacations--our honeymoon to Maui where we stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Kea Lani. We still talk about the chocolate shake we got daily (sometimes twice) from the poolside grill and the harrowing experience we had driving back from the road to Hana.

It's fun to do life with the one you love, and we are so blessed!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pure Barre Fort Worth Review

ETA: I updated on my Pure Barre journey post-baby here!

I probably should admit that in the time between my two pregnancies, I did very little to get in shape. Shame on me. Since I was working, I felt that the excuse of wanting to spend every waking hour not at the office with my baby outweighed any time I would spend trying to work out. I know people that have the attitude, "If it's worth it to you, you'll make time for it," but for me, it was more worth it to spend that precious time with my little guy.

Working moms with new babies are nodding their heads with me on that one. In retrospect, I probably should've just bought a jogger and hit the pavement with the babe, but I didn't.

But it's a new day. And here I sit, staying at home spending all the time in the world with my kids. I sincerely love that, but it really obliterated the "I don't have time to get in shape" excuse I had (not) working for me. I have time to focus on what is going in all of our mouths each day and time to drop this baby weight.

I saw where a Pure Barre franchise was opening over here on our end of Fort Worth. They were running a new client special for 5 weeks of unlimited classes, so I signed myself up as part of my Mother's Day gift.

So what is Pure Barre? From their website:
"Pure Barre is a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs and burns fat in record-breaking time. Utilizing the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to fantastic music, Pure Barre is the fastest, most effective, yet safest way to change your body. Students see results in just 10 classes."
I don't know if all those claims are true, but I saw results in 10 classes. I was hooked.

First of all, the music is pumping, loud, and fun. The class starts with a warm-up, moves straight into arm, thigh, then seat work, and ends with about 15 minutes of abdominal work. The movements are all really small. It's really more of a muscle flex, then release.

The instructors (who are very intentional about knowing everyone's name--love that) come around and make corrections to form (in a non-embarassing way), and I love it because then you can really feel the burn. During final moments to "really burn it out," the instructor cranks the music volume, and the intensity in the room really goes up. It's fun! I've probably attended an average of 3 times a week since June 8th, with my longest stretch being 6 classes in a row before taking a couple days break.

After 30 days, I see muscle definition and am pretty excited that I went from not being able to do a forearm plank for longer than 5 seconds to now up to 60 seconds on a great day. The goal is 90. My posture has improved (no more post-pregnancy swayback), and I can feel a difference in my clothes and see a difference on the scale. Also, that weird place in my back where I knew my epidural had been? Can't feel it anymore. I'm attributing that to the strengthening of my back muscles. Overall, I feel stronger.

The Fort Worth location is owned by the very sweet Kelsey, who is also an instructor. Everyone is nice and friendly. It's a really encouraging community. Really, I can't say enough good things. Others in the class are so busy focusing their attention to the movement that no one notices when you mess up! I recently renewed for 3 months unlimited because it's the first workout in a long time that I've enjoyed. It's partly the cute studio clothes, partly the good company, but mostly the great results I'm seeing. I hope I can keep it up!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Five For Friday

Here are five things I'm loving right now!

Jack's First Movie Experience! My mom and brother were in town, and we took him to see Monsters University yesterday. I didn't have high expectations, but he did well! The movie was cute too.

Hyatt Regency Hill Country Spa and Resort. That's where we vacationed last week with some friends, and we had such a great time. I can't tell you how perfect it is for young families desiring a low stress getaway. More on this coming soon.

Priscilla Shirer's Gideon Bible study. Some friends of mine and I are following Beth Moore's online study of this. We're two weeks behind because we started late. It's about bravery, and so far, I've connected so much with it due to the season of life I'm in (motherhood). Tuesday night we had a very rich conversation in being brave and how to raise children to be Christ-followers in today's culture. The first week of homework was slow for me, but the second week really captured my attention.

This toddler tricycle wash, featured on Design Mom. So cute!

Library Story time! I love that any given day, there are no less than 3 story times for us to choose from when we need a laid back outing. Such a great benefit of living in a large town! That's what we did today, then hopped over to meet Mr. G for lunch. It was a great start to our weekend.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Long Time, No Blog

Why, hello!

I feel like I should re-introduce myself here in this space since I've been absent for more than a month. I thought that staying home with my children would give me an abundance of time to blog, but I'm finding that I stay far busier (with fun things, mostly) than I anticipated.

During my absence, I went to church camp with our Middle and High School students, helped with VBS, went on a first family of four vacation, and did a lot of Pure Barre. That one deserves its own post.

Other notables: Annabelle hit 4 months old. We had our first experience with vomit in a restaurant. (I feel like we earned some real parenting stripes with that one, so it gets a mention.) We celebrated Father's Day. With congratulations to my cousin and his wife, we welcomed a new baby to our family just last week!

I have a post up on Fort Worth Moms Blog this week on what I wasn't expecting about being home with my kids. It is by no means a complaint session. I'm savoring the pace and richness of being with them all day. After working Jack's first two years, being home seems like a wonderful indulgence, like an infinite number of vacation days. I'm so grateful for it.

Also? I'm grateful for the perspective that comes with knowing both sides of the coin.

This week we're staying close to home. I'm loving on these babies and putting my house back together after so many weeks of busy-ness.

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