Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Annabelle is 6 Months Old!

A total sweetheart.

Our beautiful daughter is 6 months old today. I honestly do not know how we have traveled six entire months since the day she was born! She is such a sweet addition to our family. All smiles, all the time. Unless she is hungry, and really? She comes by that quite honestly.

She's started baby food and so far we've tried peas (not her fave), green beans, carrots (thumbs up), pears, apples, and peaches. She's sitting up almost unassisted and plays with her little (pink!) toys very well. Her favorite is a little pink teething handbag. Or perhaps it's my favorite. Most likely.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Weekending and a Birthday

Last Friday was my birthday, so I've been celebrating since sometime around August 1st. At the last minute last week, however, my husband had to go out of town for work for several days, coming home the evening of my big day. It was one of those situations where staying home with my children allows for life to be much less complicated than it would be if I were also juggling a 40+ hour a week job. The blessing of this is not lost on me.

We had a playdate on Thursday with Fort Worth Moms Blog at a local park. It was a great turnout and a fun way to meet some other Fort Worth Mamas. That's one reason I love FWMB--it's allowed me to widen my circle a bit and make new friends. I've also learned a lot more about Cowtown and fun things to do with my children around the area. Total bonus.

Speaking of, here's one of my most recent posts about the Amon Carter Museum's Art After Dark. I'd never been there. It was cool, and they had free frozen custard. We are all over that!

After the playdate, I loaded up my babies and headed to my hometown to visit my family. I love that my kids will grow up knowing my town and my old haunts. Even Jack is convinced that the best snow cones in the world come from there (because it's true.) We had a great visit, and my parents kept them so we could go out for my birthday.

Outtake from a train ride at the Zoo last week.

I came home on Friday for a birthday date with my husband. He took me out to Mercury Chophouse in downtown Fort Worth. We had a good night of catching up and ... quiet! Our house is so strange without our cuties at home. It was a great birthday, and I'm excited about another year with my sweet little family!

Does anyone have any fun little kiddo plans now that big kids are back in school?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters

This read like a movie script. It flashes between present day and past, during the making of Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra. It was about a young actress from said movie, who was sent away from the set to a small Italian village along the Cinque Terre due to a love triangle during filming. In the present day, it's a search to find out what happened to the young woman. I'll be honest--the first few chapters bored me a little bit, so I had a hard time getting into it. I felt like only one of the characters had any redeeming qualities. However, the author did a great job of weaving together everyone's story.

Ultimately, it's about a mother's love and sacrifice, and I think a lot of ladies who read here can appreciate that!

I read Beautiful Ruins through our public library's e-reading system. I was able to easily download the book directly to my Kindle library. It gave me a certain amount of days to read it before it expired, which was great--it kept me on track to finish even when I was bored in the beginning. The service was genius, and I can't wait to use it again.

Have you read this one? Do you think I'm off in my "boredom" assessment? What are you reading these days?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

A friend asked me just the other day if I had a book recommendation. I was so sad to say that the most recent things I had read were a series of Pride and Prejudice continuing stories that I absolutely and positively could not recommend. And I had last cracked those open several months before Annabelle was born!

I don't know what it is about pregnancy and postpartum, but it took a long time for me to find the will to pick up a book during/after both my kids. Oh wait, I guess do know what it is. Exhaustion.

But that question was enough to shock me out of my postpartum reading funk to start on a list of titles I had been storing for when the time came.

First on deck: Where'd You Go, Bernadette?
by Maria Semple

Set in Seattle, this is a story about an eccentric woman who has lost the person she once was. It's narrated by her gifted 15-year-old daughter, during a pivotal time in the mother's life where she's really coming unglued. Or is she? It kept me up fairly late one night because I needed to know the ending. The author, Maria Semple, wrote for Arrested Development, and that probably tells you a lot about the humor. I found it entertaining and smartly written, albeit somewhat dark and sad at times.

There are a lot of digs on stereotypical Seattle culture: Microsoft, Subarus, helicopter parents (okay, those are everywhere,) coffee, rain, etc. There are also digs on private school parents, and parents who think their kids can do no wrong. Just a lot of satire.

While not always a light-hearted read, it was an easy read and moved along quickly for me. You know how sometimes a book is long and drawn out? This one wasn't. I think it would be a good one to pick up if you're going on a trip. Or anytime, for that matter.

So tell me, what book is hanging out on your nightstand these days? Should I add it to my list?

Click here for my past book reviews.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mama Monday: Weekend Review and a Meal Plan

What a weekend, what a weekend.

My poor little guy ran fever both Saturday and Sunday. We had an event to be at on Saturday afternoon, so I was very thankful I had lined up my mom and dad to drive up and keep the kids. According to Jack, he and my mom are like "peas and carrots" (carrots sounds more like curr-ets) so he was fine (possibly happy) when we left. Unless some miracle happened over night, I'll probably be trying to get an appointment with the pedi this morning. I wonder how many calls they field like mine on Monday mornings?

This week I've actually decided to come up with a meal plan. I always have tons of groceries in the house, but sometimes I forget what I've bought so it seems like we have nothing to eat. Am I the only one this happens to? Very similar to opening my closet and having nothing to wear. This week, I'm making a plan and sticking to it.

Monday: Chicken fajitas (pre-marinated and packaged by HEB) with Spanish rice
Tuesday: Foil packet baked tilapia (seasoned with lemon and salt) with steamed veggies
Wednesday: Let's face it, we're going to eat Chick fil a at least one night this week. A preschooler lives here.
Thursday: Chicken and dressing with a side of fresh cooked green beans
Friday: Family in town. I predict Joe T. Garcia's.

Weekends are a wildcard. Usually frozen things and chicken for Sunday lunch. Always chicken for Sunday lunch.

If I do well staying with this plan, I'll let you know. If I don't ever mention it again, then I think we know how that turned out!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Contain Yourself! We have a New Container Store!

I had the great pleasure of being invited to a blogger preview for The Container Store here in Fort Worth yesterday! Tomorrow (Saturday) is the grand opening, and they're giving a ton of things away this weekend, so I wanted you to know about it. School starts in a flash, so it's time to get organized, mamas!

Shop for a good cause! They'll be giving 10% of all Grand Opening Weekend sales from this store to the Lena Pope Home. It's an easy way to give back to the community and also pick up the things you need.

On Saturday and Sunday, they'll be giving away $10 gift cards for the first 100 Facebook Check-ins each day. Go get yourself one! They'll also be giving away a prize every hour, one of which is a $1000 elfa makeover (you know, the fabulous custom closets.)

The store is simply a balm for the organizing or wanting to be organized's soul. It's beautiful and HUGE compared to the old store over near Hulen Mall. This one is located in the same shopping center as Central Market, right at I-30 and Hulen.

Throughout the tour, they gave us so much information about how they operate. There's a reason they are on consistently ranked in the top places to work. They truly care about their Employees and show it through career development and training. The amount of training they give full-time Employees in their first year is nuts compared to other retailers (263 hrs to a paltry standard 10.) They must really know their organization by the time that's completed. The Container Store takes great pride in knowing they offer the Customer a high level of personalized service.

(As a former Southwest Airlines Employee, I am a total sucker for this kind of info. It's in my blood and always will be!)

Those lacquered boxes on the left are totally on trend for home decor. The apple green color made my mental wish list as we moved throughout the store. The rows and rows of colored organizing items really motivated me to get my clutter in order.

(My master closet is still reeling from the purge it got this afternoon.)
Hangers in any color you choose! I've been using their wooden shirt hangers in my closet for years. I just love them. I had to snap a pic of the Lego storage solution. I see lots of Legos in my future. Maybe with something bright and happy and well-organized, those sharp little suckers will be put back up rather than left in the floor where they'll get stepped on?

I could go on and on about some of the special products they showed us. One from 3M (you know, scotch tape and post-its) is a solution to hang your kids' art work (and any other paper) on your non-magnetized stainless steel fridge. That is something I've been looking for since Jack started creating a paper trail. This is exclusive to The Container Store, so ask one of their specialists about it if you go in.

Bloggers at the preview

As part of the day, the provided us with lunch and one of their famous clear boxes with a product from each of their 16 lifestyle sections. There are so many fun things that I already know my family with use a ton. I already have my list and am ready to go shop!

Five on Friday - Volume 3

I've got a random Five on Friday today. Seriously. All over the place.

I finally ordered graduation gifts. Finally. I hope they're here before the grads go off to school, otherwise, I guess I'll be sending a care package. These bracelets from Sweet Auburn Studio were just perfect. Dainty, classic, goes with everything.


It's my birthday month, and I've been inundated by birthday discounts. This would not be a problem except I want to use every birthday discount at every single store from which I received said discount. Do I really need something from Vera Bradley? No. The answer is no.

What is your favorite store that gives a birthday discount? It's a tie for me between Anthropologie and Kendra Scott.

{I've already used the Anthro one.}

I'll post more on this later today, but I was invited to a blogger preview of a new Fort Worth location of The Container Store. If a store can be beautiful (and I believe that Anthropologie has proven that yes, a store can be beautiful), this one was so happy and beautiful. As I was taking the tour, I realized that I have spent a lot of money there over the years. Who doesn't love containers though?

What's your favorite organizing tool, and do they sell it at The Container Store?

Here's mine. These boot shapers are a must have.

I don't hang them up though, they're just standing on a shelf, waiting for a break in this heat.

Speaking of heat, I know that if you live in Texas or you have any friends in Texas, you've been annoyed by the posting of car temperature gauges because it's so hot here. Personally, I'm a summer girl and love the heat, but it's a totally different ballgame with little kids. While the infant carrier has its advantages, it's a roasting oven in the summer days so I feel bad loading Annabelle into it. I'm ready for it to cool off so we can have some fun outside again, preferably during the daylight hours. Our backyard has great shade in the afternoon and evening, but the heat is just stifling.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading the past couple of weeks and have some book reviews coming up!

What are you reading lately?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Aftermath of Planking

Y'all, I've been consistently nailing my 90 second forearm plank at Pure Barre. The days that I don't hit it, I know I'm just wimping out at this point. It was a goal I set for myself, and it feels good to hit it.

There are, however, some unexpected consequences of forearm planking--specifically, dried out forearms or for me, right around the elbow. As I was pondering this situation, I remembered a purchase I made back while I was pregnant. I had some pre-delivery maintenance done over at Bliss Dallas (a spa) in the W and decided to treat myself with some product purchases after it was over. Why not?

Found at Sephora or the always free shipping Nordstrom. Don't ever change, Nordstrom!

I dug this fabulous Bliss lemon+sage Body scrub out of the depths of my cabinets and slathered it on my elbows. It's creamy and refreshing and exfoliates very well. If you love the smell of lemon, you would love the Bliss line of bath products.

I'm pleased to say it has negated my forearm plank issue, and it's left me with absolutely no excuses to not make it the entire 90 seconds!

What bath product are you loving right now?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School with Staples

Last week I was invited with a group of bloggers to a back-to-school event at Staples. Since we all love school supplies, I simply couldn't resist the invitation!

(I think I should also disclaim here that Staples provided lunch and a $25 gift card along with a lovely parting grab bag for attending. Done and done.)

And, side note here. I had never considered that Staples actually had school supplies. They have office supplies, and office supplies are basically adult school supplies, so why didn't I make this connection? All that to say, when you need school supplies the first day of school, you have other options than just big box stores.

But they had even more than just regular school supplies. Oh happy day--they had stuff for preschoolers too! We were so excited to find these dot art paints. As in, both the toddler preschooler and myself did a dance right there in the aisle when we found them! I've been searching for these since I started staying home. They were his favorites at Mrs. Amy's house, and every single time he would sit down to color, he would talk about them.

So moving on! The reason Staples had the event was to educate on their school supply features. Here are the highlights of what I think you should know, via bulleted list:
  • You can purchase a $10 Back to School savings pass for a 15% discount on school supplies through 9/21/2013. Here is what you can save on.
  • If you join the Staples rewards program, you earn 5% back in rewards (with few exclusions) plus free shipping on
  • Teachers who join the rewards program earn 5% back in rewards and free shipping on, along with an additional 5% back on teaching and art supplies. I know a ton of teachers who would probably rack up through this since they spend so much of their own $$$ in the classroom. (Don't get me started. My mom's a teacher.)
  • As a parent, you can sign up for the Reward a Classroom program. In addition to earning your own 5% rewards, you can designate a teacher who will earn an additional 2% of what you spent, up to $50 from 40 different parents. That one I loved. Imagine signing a whole classroom up to support their teacher! Cha-ching!

For boy moms, they had an awesome line of Lego supplies. Giant Lego block pencil box, sharpeners, and lunch boxes. We had a hard time not walking out with the pencil box.

Along with some art pads for our new dot paints, we grabbed one more item that should come in handy while Jack's learning to write his name. One side is lined, and the other is blank for drawing. Only $3 during their back to school savings days. Perfect!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Feeding Journeys: Choosing Formula

It's World Breastfeeding Week, and in celebration, Fort Worth Moms Blog is talking about feeding journeys this weekend!

This is such a prickly topic among young mothers (why, I do not know) that I was a little hesitant to put it out there. At the risk of having cyber tomatoes thrown at me, I'm talking about the decision to exclusively formula feed my children.

I think a lot of formula feeding moms are made to feel guilty about their choice or that they are failures if their first choice was breastfeeding and it didn't work out. But I have good news for you today! In a year, you'll feel parenting guilt about something completely different, and you'll also have had a pay raise because you won't be buying formula anymore.

I think you'd enjoy each of the stories that are being told over there, plus there are great giveaways everyday. And please, don't throw tomatoes in the comments of my particular blog post. Thanks!
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