around here

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30 March 2016

Sebastian's pose screams, "just photoshop everyone else out and my senior portrait is all set to slay"

I think I've finally found a small army of allergy fighting soldiers that when combined just right I can handle short outdoor excursions with my human troops. Not pictured: mom photographer in low key hazmat suit. You think I'm kidding.


The polite and thoughtful thing to do would be to just breeze right over the little stomach bug that rocked our world last week but ... I can't. It felt like all of my friends had dealt with the bug in the weeks and months prior and I'd been waiting for it to hit us too and when it ... didn't I thought maybe I had the warm weather and lack of cabin fever to thank. LOL. It was an uncharacteristically optimistic thought, I know. It was actually mercifully swift and since it worked it's way up directly from youngest to oldest Simon and I (youngest spouse first!) were last to be hit. Except that we weren't! Brit had talked about how her family has had great success taking this activated charcoal in the hopes of avoiding a bug that had already descended on her family and it came in the mail after the kids were sick but the parents took it anyway and ... we lucked out. Or it works. All the praise hands for Brit. And the charcoal.

It's both fun and funny watching your kids grow up and see little flecks of parental personality shine bright and unmistakeable every now and again. For example: one child fell ill in the middle of the night, gently woke me up by tapping on my shoulder and saying, "excuse me, Mom but there was a little spit up by my bed but I cleaned it up" and trotted back to his chamber. This child takes very much after Simon. And another child got sick shortly after the other and screamed the loudest most earth shattering and blood curdling scream about the situation and declared multiple times, "this is the worst day of my LIFE" the next day. This child takes very much after Grace. God has a great sense of humor. A great sense of humor indeed.

Third and final paragraph about the minute long plague. At one point one child was sick with no appropriate receptacle to be found anywhere around us and so I asked someone else to run and grab a bowl. They came proudly bounding back with this:

a wildly useful colander.

I'm done. Really.

A photo of Bosco to cleanse your palate ...

Never met a swing he doesn't adore.

In other news, we finally put a hook and eye HIGH up outside the kids' bathroom door to keep one certain almost-two-year-old off the premises and out of the sink that she loves to plug and flood.

Completely unfazed, she redirected her efforts to her parents bathroom and her moms brand new bottle of badly needed (32 going on 16 ... yee to the haw) concealer.

The best part of the situation is that she looked my in the eye, legs completly covered in a lovely shade of Natural by Neutrogena, and answered, "nope" without blinking when I ask if she made the mess.

We now lock our door as well. Fool us once ... we'll figure it out one of these kids.

We'll end things on a cheery note. I was bathing the kids on Sunday night (or 1/2 watching 1/2 reading a book I've been waiting to come off the hold list f-o-r-e-v-e-r judge me good) on my phone when I had to quickly snatch a toppling Bosco out before he fell face first into the water. You know how this ends. My phone fell to a watery but temporary grave as I'm telling myself that in the spirit of the Resurrection ... it came back to life. I just turned it off and didn't touch it for a long time. I don't think my complicated and calculated phone-saving tactics mattered (we didn't have rice on hand) but ... I should probably just put bite the waterproof case bullet.

Life is a dangerous highway, after all.

Have a wonderful Wednesday
(that for some cruel reason ... feels like a Friday)


tunics, and dresses, and blouses - oh my.

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28 March 2016

Nothing jolts you right back into post-holidaze reality than Grace, Grace, Grace, GRACE, annnnnd Grace!! I'm sorry. I've written about my favorite online boutique many times before and here I am, doing it again. Predictable as ever but it's for good reason! White Plum has gotten me through pregnancies, postpartum fun, and all four hot/cold/warm/breezy seasons with their thoughtful inventory full of fun pieces.

They are always killing (or I believe kids these days have moved onto, "slaying") in the legging/tunic/dress/blouse departments and this spring is no exception. I'm a total sucker for a tunic and I still wear my very first WP tunic from a few years ago on a regular basis because they don't shrink or lose their shape in the wash which is so appreciated. And I actually wore a White Plum dress for Easter that I also wore during my third trimester with Bosco because, like a lot of their dresses, it's versatile enough to wear while housing a human and while ... not, like now.

I know we're moving out of legging season (or so I hope most of you are) but I've always wanted to try their warmer weather friendly palazzo pants ... I think I just might using this generous discount code that White Plum is offering to Camp Patton readers: 30% off your entire purchase with code CAMPPATTON30 through April 4th.

And if you want to try your luck at winning a cool $300 White Plum credit (new spring wardrobe, anyone?!) ... be on your merry Rafflecopter way!

Thanks for reading and playing, as always!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

alleluia, indeed

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27 March 2016

One of these days I'll snag some semblance of a framer.


I hope you and yours are enjoying a wonderful Easter. I would say we're keeping things low key but we always keep things low key when it comes to holidays and so ... we're keeping things normal. The Easter Bunny brought candy and green pepper seeds (Sebastian has been on a "grow vegetables" kick and I recently found him burying spinach leaves in the back yard) and the kids were beyond thrilled. In a rare twist of morning fortuity Phoebe slept in until 10am (all of the !!!!!!!!!'s) and missed our little egg hunt which was most definitely for the best. Simon took the four roosters out to grab a coffee for the resident, "given up coffee eight times for lent and finally stuck to it on the ninth try" female. Ahem. Simon has been on call all weekend but the beauty of fellowship is that call means: pager call so he's been around and we made it to Mass on time with minimal parking drama. Wins all around.

In lieu of a family photo (no photographer on the fly) we tried to do girls and boys which worked out well ...

an unwilling Phoebe was happy to jump in with the boys ...

and offered a winning smile.

Noted, Phoebe. Very much noted.

Julia told us during Mass that she wished she was four (cut off age for the nursery) no fewer than four times and Theo all but threw himself on the ground (see top photo) in protest when he realized that there were no post-church donuts to be had because there is nothing Theo loves more. Solidarity, T.

And now I'm going to try my best to ignore the leftover Reese's Eggs taunting me from their pantry haunt while I sneak some pages of my book before tackling Easter dinner prep (not ham or lamb ... sorry tradition) while the kids nap.

Happy Easter!!

wayback wednesday: Seattle

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23 March 2016

Way, WAY back in October Simon had a work conference in Seattle and since I've always wanted to visit Seattle or Portland (or jackpot: both!) I tagged along. It felt almost as footloose and fancy-free as a kidless getaway because my mom so kindly and generously flew out and watched the four older kids with the help of my la-la-la-lengthy single-spaced notestructional novella and we brought the non-verbal four month along for the ride. 

I remember back when we flew from Kansas to Buffalo with three-month-old Julia to one of Simon's residency interviews it felt ... taxing and anything but relaxing. But this time where my umbrella clad drink at? Because paradise in the skies was ours. 

Perspective ... you funny little thing. 

Gilligan and guardian ...

I may or may not have told you how much Simon loves public transportation. But, I'm telling you now that he loves it and takes advantage whenever he can. So, he was in heaven. 

Gratuitous market sign shot ...

You'll never believe that my cellular snaps aren't fulling capturing the beauty of the Seattle surroundings but ... they're not.

I remembered that Jenna and Blythe had gone to this coffee shop when they were in Seattle and so of course I had to copycat.

I'm not a coffee snob or connoisseur and I made the mistake of asking if they had any flavored syrup and got the unamused stare and dee-ny. No, syrups are not for purists, G-unit.

A few people sang the praises of this little bakery and they sang right. It was so good and I've thought about the chocolate pastry of all chocolate pastries often since October. Too often.

Did I think back to Catherine's hometown date with Sean many, many times when we were walking around?

Probably. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about ... you're a better person than I.

And I think this is from the flight in since we took a redeye back to Tampa but we'll pretend it's a nice goodbye snap.

of note:

+ we got to our hotel WAY too early to check in but Bosco was ready for a nap and I was ready for some cable tv while Simon went on his merry conference way so we went anyway and not only did they let us check in early but they gave us a ridiculous free upgrade to a suite more than three times the size of one of my apartments of yesteryear.

+ one night we went to a seafood restaurant down by the water and while waiting for our table we grabbed a drink at the bar. I was wearing Bosco and was kindly asked to step out one foot to my right so that I didn't technically have a baby in a bar. Ooops.

+ you know I'm a lover of hot, hot weather but coming off of several months of humidity I thought I might appreciate the colder evenings in Seattle. Nope. It dipped down to 50 one night (crying laughing emoji) and my teeth started chattering and I was already apologizing to Florida for anticipating a humidity reprieve.

+ We were able to hit up the Starbucks Roastery where they DID have an abundance of syrups and coffee concoctions I would never to dream up outside of Seattle.

+ I could type a baker's dozen more bullets here but we're ringing in Holy Thursday eve with an abundance of rather violent flu of the stomach variety and so ... I'll just say that I can't wait to go back when the kids are (much!) older so that we can take in more of the sights.

I hope you all have a blessed Triduum and I'll see you on the flip side.
If we survive.


You Need a Budget

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21 March 2016

I'm one of those annoying people that really hates talking about money but sometimes it's unavoidable - obviously! So, let me type your eyes off for the quickest of minutes.

looking over our monthly budget: in a perfect idyllic dream world

We've never been the strict budgeting kind (I know tsk tsk, seriously) because we've always done a decent job of recognizing and abiding by our spending limits. Despite Simon still in training and making the salary of a trainee while his med school debt sits and accrues interest we still decided to start chipping away ever so slowly at said debt this past year. Our thought was that when he's finished with training in a couple years we won't be staring down an even scarier med school debt mountain than if we hadn't. Factor in the fact that we'll have two kids in school next year and tuition is due soon ... we've had to sit down and do some budgeting and "fun-fund" rearranging to make the next couple of years less daunting on the financial front.

looking over our monthly budget: in the real world, minus a mother soldier and all. Also, sorry about that Jim Carrey a la Dumb and Dumber homegrown (budget-friendly) haircut, Bash. 

As fortuity would have it, You Need A Budget (YNAB) very recently contacted us about trying their brilliant service and sharing it with you all by way of this here sponsored post. And so, here we are.

YNAB teaches these four rules to help people get out of of debt, and save money faster:

1. give every dollar a job
2. embrace your true expenses
3. roll with the punches
4. age your money

What I loved most about YNAB is that their philosophy is not about restriction but rather about embracing what truly matters to you and giving you total control of how you spend your hard-earned dollars. It's also a very flexible system and understands that things come up (in our case ... car repairs galore) and stresses the important of education (old dogs can do new tricks if you teach them!) when it comes to budgeting and offers daily online classes to YNAB members.

During residency, we had grand plans of taking a big + celebratory kid-free trip (sorry angel faces) when Simon was finished. Obviously some happy circumstances by the names of Bosco and fellowship got in the way of our big dream but we're hoping to make it happen when fellowship is finished and it's a great motivator to see our "big trip" goal fund on YNAB grow little by little as we get through these last years of training.

While it's not impossible for Simon and I to sit down together and look over the state of our finances and input all the pluses and minuses on a regular basis ... it's tough to make it happen while we're both alert and awake after the troops have been put put down for the night ... YNAB has an app for that.

So in between diaper changes, child wrangling, and outfit changes (don't look too closely at Bosco's shirt that doubled as a bib that day) I can input that dangerous Target-why-am-I-smiling-run and update Simon instantly. Genius.

Here's a peek at the web interface ....

 ah, nothing like a blank budget canvas.

And this is not our budget -- worry not.

... and a sample of the app (compatible with Android and iOS) interface ...

 ... not our budget either. Hulu & Costco forever.

You Need a Budget is free for students and all you non-students can get three free months by clicking here! (no credit card required)

I'm curious to know if you budget and what has/hasn't worked for you as we get our feet wet in the big bad budgeting pond. Thanks in advance!

Sunday reading

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20 March 2016

Just popping in to say hello and Happy Palm Sunday. We snagged a square foot of standing space in the overflow chapel this morning so we're hatching a plan for next week in the hopes of scoring some Easter Sunday seats. Sebastian is forever tugging on my sleeve and asking if, "it's the last song?" even if it's just the first and Julia always manages to pack more into her teeny tiny backpack than a regular Mary Magic Poppins and I'm always borderline horrified to look down and find that she's set up virtual library/doll/coloring camp before the first ceremonial sleeve tug has gone down. Hopefully those imaginary seats are near the back.

Anyway, enough about that.

I don't know if I can appropriately express how excited I am that Rachael is going to (hopefully! right? write.) treat us to a whole book of her extraordinary writing. I'll be the first in line to click: pre-order!

If you're in the market for a relatively quick and not-so-easy-but-doable at home workout ... this fits that bill.

A few of my very favorite IG ladies: One, Two, and Three!

I really wish this came in my size.

If you're not already a fan (follower?) of this Facebook page, you're missing out. I cry tears of laughter reading and watching her genius.

Aaaand with that I'll leave you ... for now.

happy remaining sliver of the weekend.

Grain Free Granola

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18 March 2016

The other day, I loaded the kids up and made a beeline for the allergy medicine aisle at Target because well, allergies: thee worst seasonal allergies of all time, actually. I thought I'd made a smart choice in grabbing my generic pick ... steering clear of things that hadn't worked in the past and trying to remember what had. Later that night Simon saw the package sitting in the kitchen and gently broke it to me that I'd managed to just buy some overpriced Benadryl.


 So, I'm still in the market for the most magical cure (local honey? essential oils? hermit life?) but while I was there I decided to pick up the ingredients to try my hand at making some granola. Some granola without oats and starchy (but oh so delicious) clusters of wonderful, specifically. I've paid a diamond encrusted arm and a leg for said granola in the past and it was delicious but the price! I hoped I could do a little better.

Of course -- the beauty of granola recipes is that they can be tweaked, tinkered with, changed up completely and you'd be hard pressed to make something truly inedible.

When I make this again I might nix the goji berries (I can't taste them at all so ... what's the point?) and definitely NOT crush/blend/destroy the cocoa almonds.

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (found at Target)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup cocoa roast almonds (Target find)
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup raw and shelled hemp seeds (Target ftw)
3/4 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup dried goji berries (again, Target) (these are very gross until baked - then they are tasteless)
3 tablespoons coconut oil (don't skip this - important for crisp factor)
3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup or whatever sweetener you fancy

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine all dry non-fruit ingredients in a big bowl. Mix, mix. Again, I threw my cocoa almonds in the blender but wish I hadn't so leave them whole or crush their little souls like I did.

Heat coconut oil and syrup/honey in saucepan over medium-low heat until oil is melted. Mix into dry mix until everything is nicely coated.

Spread granola evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle berries in and mix around. Crank heat up to 335 degrees.

I only needed to bake my batch for 12 minutes until everything looked nice and extra crispy (maybe too crispy - oops)

but our oven is a hottie and rather overzealous so ... you might need to wait 15-17 minutes? You'll know. Just keep a super close eye. Set two timers! I trust you'll be fine.

Remove. Eat or store in airtight container. I did both ... you don't have to choose.

Simon HATES coconut and I didn't tell him that the base was coconut flakes after he'd had a bowl with milk AND some sprinkled on yogurt. He then asked how I made it and I fessed up to the coconut flaking and he was surprised. Would he have loved it as much if he'd known the flakes were there beforehand? I don't know. But, don't be a naysayer if you hate coconut -- the taste is not coconutty. I promise.

And now there are one trillion AND ONE granola recipes out there on the line. I just had to add mine to the bunch.


spring basics

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16 March 2016

If you've read this blog for more than a minute or two you'd know that we are big fat thredUP fiends around here. The biggest. While I can sometimes justify "investing" in new clothes for myself ... if I can stay ahead of their rapid growth and the upcoming seasonal changes ... there's rarely a reason to buy new clothes for the kids. ThredUP has a great selection and THE BEST (really! the only way I shop) app for narrowing down styles/brands/sizes (inseams and all) so I don't have to flip through page after page hoping to find the pair of blue wide leg pants to wear with wedges that I've been hunting for ... forever. I can just put in my picky (lightweight but not linen, dressy but casual enough for Costco) specifics and ....


These even still had the tags on and all. I can dig them. I paired them with a silk blouse from Banana Republic from thredUP that can be dressed up or down and is the perfect level of slouch for tucking or not.

You know those loooooong sweaters that are in style right now? I love them but can't quite jump on board yet, in true tardy Grace fashion but! I found this comfy 3/4 length compromise of a sweater from (you guessed it!) thredUP ...

Despite living in a warmer climate, I keep a sweater on me at all times because people tend to overcompensate for the warmth with their a/c and this is perfect to help a perma-cold mother out.

I recently read that the hi-low trend is DONE which makes sense since I knew I had to have this breezy blouse as soon as I spotted it. I will always love embroidered anything and thought the hi-lowness of the hem was subtle enough that I can get away with it for a few years yet ...

rebel fashionista that I am.

My jeans are Seven For All Mankind and in great condition and the wedges are like new AND embarrassingly comfortable because you know who makes them? Dr. Scholls. Both from thredUP ... I'm sure you're sensing a theme here. I hope.

But the kids, Grace. What about the KIDS.


Julia's had this great blazer from Gwen Stefani's Target line (years old) since she was 2 or 3 and I was SO excited to find the same blazer in a bigger size (with tags!) so that Phoebe can play heiress to the old blazer and they can be twins ... if they'd like.

... they'd like. Sometimes. I hope.

BUT back to me me me me me me.

I dressed down this dress (har har) with a fun plaid shirt from Old Navy. I'd been eying that same shirt when it was on sale at Old Navy but I'm so glad I waited because I got it for a fraction of the price and it's the great near-tunic length (when untied) I was hoping it would be. I was also SO excited to find these J.Crew mules in my size.

thredUP triplets.

fine, that was a stretch.

Anyway, I used to love, love, love going to secondhand stores and finding great deals and while I know some moms can take their kids in and browse with no problems at all ... I am not that mom and my kids are not those docile children, sadly. So, it's for this reason that I love the ease of thredUP. I sell a lot of our clothing to them in exchange for store credit and if ever (rare) I don't love something I ordered - they have free and easy returns which is really nice. Much of thredUP's inventory still has the tags attached and the formerly loved clothing is always in great shape. 

ThredUP is generously giving away a $100 credit to one lucky Camp Patton reader. We're taking it back old school with the Rafflecopter drill but old habits ... die never.

Thanks for reading and best of luck!!

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tips for transitioning kids into sharing a room

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14 March 2016

As kind of an addendum to Thursday's post ... I've gotten a couple of emails (a couple - as in two - as in who really cares how we do) asking how we transition kids into sharing a room and while I'll never (ever E-V-E-R) be an expert on anything in the parenting realm ... here are a few things that have helped make the switch a little bit easier on everyone involved. Emphasis on the parents.

No, I have not suddenly morphed into the world's worst mathematician (that is only one child in a room littering a post about two childs sharing a room ... we'll just call this the: before!)

Anyway ... here we go.

1. stagger bedtimes the first night we put Julia and Sebastian in the same room together we put them down, closed the door, and were stupidly shocked and frustrated to find that they didn't just drift off to sleep. No, they immediately got out of bed and went to work so that when I went to check on them a few minutes later I walked into something akin to this  ...

different house, different room ... same exact tornado whiplash.

I didn't mind the mess as much as the fact that they did not actually fall asleep for many, many hours which was fine until the next morning when they woke up in badittude mode that spanned the majority of their sleep-deprived day. We quickly realized that it was best to put one kid down, wait until they fell asleep, and then put the other down soon after.

For example with our current setup (girls sharing and boys sharing): Julia goes down earlier than all the other kids because she doesn't nap and she's usually up first to get ready for school. I put her down with the light dimmed because she doesn't like the dark, and about 20-30 minutes later we put Phoebe down with the light all the way off because Phoebe doesn't mind the dark and I don't even think she realized Julia is in the bed next to her. Same goes for Sebastian and Theo because Sebastian usually doesn't nap but on the days he does (2-3x a week) ... we let them play with blocks/trains/legos in their room for 15-20 minutes before "lights out" and by some bizarre miracle they generally obey. The Julia and Sebastian of yesteryear would have never ever.

2. sound machine I could probably rename the blog: sound machine addicts not-so-anonymous because I blog about them a lot because they are almost like extended members of our family. We use these but I know there are bigger and better machines out there. I just like how portable, reliable, and inexpensive they are in the event that they get forgotten on a trip or lost in a move. Not that we've ever done either. Ever.

3. nightlight A new thing around here as the older kids have started to express that they're afraid of the dark to which I can say: nothing because if Simon isn't home I generally sleep with ALL the lights on. Nightlight your hearts out, like-minded offspring. The boys use this one but sometimes like to keep the lamp on until they fall asleep. In the spirit of end-of-the-day battle picking ... I let them.

caveats ...

Of course there will come a night when someone wakes up crying about the upper left quadrant of their right knee cap aching and it just might wake their roommate up but I've found that over time and actually pretty quickly ... the roomie learns to just sleep through the melodrama. Sebastian was thee lightest sleeper in the history of light sleepers as a baby but he now sleeps through Theo's insanely early wake-ups and occasional SOS cries for ... a sip of water. With ice.

I don't have kids nap in the same room. I'd rather let someone nap in our room than risk a double nap cut tragically short because someone woke someone else up etc.

Another misleading snap because these two most definitely do not share a room. As much as Phoebully would love that. 

Our old house had blackout shades already installed and helped my resident roosters "sleep in" to a more godly hour than they'd like but our new house doesn't and Theo is always quick to tell me when he can see the tiniest sliver of sun. A lot of people have sworn by the toddler clock ... I just need to bite the bullet and try it too.

I'm sure many, many people have gotten toddlers and babies (twins do it all the time, I know!) and tiny dancers to share a room no problem to which I say ... you're the bomb emoji. Everything has to be a process around here, I suppose.

I welcome your other and better strategies! And Happy (Bachelor Finale!) Monday!

One more ! for good and excited measure.

the boys' room

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10 March 2016

I always feel a little bit silly and ridiculous sharing decor-related things because of my blind design eye and the fact that there are thousands of other blogs (Sheena and Jenny come to mind!) with much dreamier room set-ups but here we are: sharing like the considerate Care Bear that I am.

So here's the before photo that I yanked from the listing ...

I know I've told you before but the inside of the house was completely BATHED in beige (my nemesis) when we bought it. Oh, aside from the girls' room which was BRIGHT orange but ... details. Anyway, we hired someone to paint a few rooms that we knew we wouldn't get to with Bosco being a week old when we moved and Simon staring his boards and new job down and I'm SO HAPPY we did. So happy. We've been chipping away at the rooms they didn't paint but it was nice to have a few rooms bright white from the get-go.

Okay, enough House History 101.

Nothing makes you realize everything you hung on the wall is crooked like taking a spate of monstrous photos. Also, I bet you can't pick out the one that I made myself (I big fat fail inspired by Sheena). 

Sebastian caught me snapping these and settled into his position as prop right away ...

Almost believable, Bash.

Simon made those shelves a few years ago using this book shelf tutorial and when I mentioned maybe making some more for the playroom he said something to the effect of, "do people sell those?" because the memories of putting them together was apparently not fond? Oops. 

We keep a lot of the kids' books (the nice ones and ones they've been given) in our closet because everyone has gone through their adorable, "destroy/eat/rip to shreds" all the books phase. Even the board books! So, we wised up and keep them out of reach so that Bosco will have a bit of a library to choose from once he decides that books aren't just for eating. Anyway, these made the boys' room cut but some of them are missing the entire second half -- don't be fooled. We have some other books (mostly in tatters) in Ikea spice racks in Julia's closet as well -- a post for another fun time, worry not.

Both the boys' and girls' rooms are somewhat small (not teeny! but not huge) so even though I'm not sure how much longer Sebastian can get away with sleeping in a toddler bed before he has to hand it over to currently crib-caged Phoebe ... I'm happy we went with toddler beds for the time being. I know bunk beds are probably in our not-so-immediate future but for now ... we're good.

For a long, long time the boys refused to sleep with any covers beyond their baby blankets which isn't a huge deal but it does get chilly here at night and was so excited when Natti Natti sent these adorable duvet sets for the boys. Now, I'm not waking up at 3am and sneaking in to cover them up with random blankets from the linen closet because worrywart is my middle name. The boys love the pockets to keep their stuffed animals in. Sebastian has had some night terror issues and takes great comfort in having a buddy (aside from big, bad Theo three feet over) tucked in with him at night.

The boys tucked Sebastian's blanket (a rejected blanket of toddler Julia's - story of his life) under the sound machine and told me now I'd be comfy when turning on said sound machine. I appreciated their creative thoughtfulness. 

The boys aren't quite as into nonstop coloring, drawing, painting, writing out the entire family's names over and over and over again like Julia is but it's still fun to have the photo clips up to display their masterpieces when "scribble scrabbling" (as Julia kindly calls their artistry) strikes their fancy.

And in case you're curious ... art/print sources ...
whale print: c/o Lulu & Georgia
fox print: Honeychild forest
Bees Knees: Rifle Paper Co. via Amazon
Bubblegum: Ikea
Flying Pig: c/o Minted
Wood photos of Simon & Theo: c/o Ink Dot
Humpty Dumpty: Mother Goose book
cowboy portrait: Tim Raglin (original from his generous sister who taught Simon in high school and then was one of my patient and kind mentors several years later!)

The lamp was a recent Target find and Simon and I found that dresser on Craigslist and painted it when way back when were engaged. The paint is coming off in spots so don't look too closely. The kids each got a chair for their birthday (so don't spoil Phoebe's birthday next month, thanks) and I guess that's all I can type about those.

And I'd love to put up a St. Theodore icon in the future to match the St. Sebastian one. Soon!

Enough? I think that's plenty. I bet you're SUPER stoked for the master bathroom transformation that's coming at you soon and VERY soon. Get excited.

Happy Thursday, kind readers.

dinner done better

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09 March 2016

Greetings from dinner time around here.

It's general chaotic and messy and poorly planned (understatement of the millennium - I'm working on it!)  but it's crazy because it happens .... daily! Imagine that. While Blue Apron is sponsoring this post, we've purchased loads of Blue Apron meals on our own because we love the service so much.

So does baby B.

I was really impressed and excited to see that Blue Apron really stepped up it's seafood and vegetarian meal game just in time for Lent. They always offer seafood and no-meat options but they variety has gotten bigger and better in the past several weeks which works out well because Friday comes along e-v-e-r-y week just like dinner time comes along every evening like clockwork.

For this particular non-Friday we had the pleasure of making Roast Pork & Smashed Potatoes with an Apple, Walnut, and Goat Cheese salad.

We gathered the always fresh ingredients ...

And I got to work my official culinary photographer documented and Julia pretended not to notice him ...

Here I am nonchalantly searing the pork ... something that was (sadly) formerly out of my comfort zone but the step-by-step instructions held my inexperienced hand through the surprisingly easy trenches.

Sebastian "helped" me cut the potatoes, onions, apples, and lemon ...

... and assembled a little salad of his own ...

... nailed it. The apple doesn't fall far from the mother tree with those presentation skills.

As suspected, the sound of a parental unit doing something productive immediately woke Phoebe from her nap. She got right to down to business and silently thieved the apples meant for the salad ...

... no shame. Ever.

Despite Theo waking up on the worst side of the bed (ever) I got everything cooked, put together, and thrown in from of him in the hopes that a little blood sugar boost would help his mood.

It did, mercifully. 

Despite Julia and Sebastian telling me over and over AND over that they would not be partaking in the meal ... they loved it. 

I even turned up the fancy ambiance volume with some not-quite-dead Valentine's flowers ...


In case you're new to the Blue Apron concept ... a few quick points!

+ Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that delivers farm-fresh ingredients right to your doorstep, eliminating potential food waste (guilty!) and the need for last minute trips to the grocery store (guiltier!)

+ everything comes in a refrigerated box and stays cool even if you're not home when the package arrives and there's both a family plan and a 2-person plan

+ they now have an awesome recycling program where you have the option to return all food packaging to Blue Apron free of charge

+ all meals are between 500-700 calories and there's no committment -- you really can skip or cancel your deliveries at any time.

+ while we love ordering Blue Apron for our greedy little selves (especially when we have out of town guests - lifesaver!), I also love sending it to new moms coming out of the postpartum fog, to family members just for fun, or friends that are in need of a little boost in the midst of an unexpectedly tough week

+ if you'd like to try Blue Apron for yourself and get two free meals go ahead and click right here!

+ and if you're in a dinner rut like I always seem to be ... you can peruse their fun and inventive recipes completely free right here!

thanks for reading AND happy camel emoji hump day.


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