power takes

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29 July 2016

Okay. It's way way WAY after midnight and we leave for the airport in a couple of hours but I'm giving myself ten minutes while the last load (not to be confused with the last three loads that I swore were ALL thee last loads!) of laundry dries. Can she do it?

Let's see.

1. gratuitous photo of some wide eyed and happy children ...

Bosco would live on the swings if we let him. We don't though - don't worry.

2. I always love when Julie blogs (and she's got a new site!!)

3. My birthday was earlier this week and Simon super surprised me with a new bike. I was really shocked and not expecting it at all. Julia and Sebastian were very proud of themselves for not, "spilling the beans" (direct quote) and now I'm in need of a helmet if you have an recommendations. I was thinking something super simple like this but what do I know? Nothing.

4. Julia was invited to our neighbor's vacation bible school this week and the boys rekindled their school year best friendship and constructed this super comfortable bed one morning ... emphasis on comfortable.

They even taped it together on the bottom for good measure.

5. I have to give a shout out to Jolie for turning me onto the best neutral nail polish I've tried. Ever. I'm still working through some top coats but the new Essie gel setter is the winner at the moment.

6. I was SO SO SO shocked when Luke got sent home this week. He looked so stunned but was so gracious at the Men Tell All. I feel like it's pretty obvious he's going to be the next Bachelor, right? Hopefully. I just don't see any of the other guys filling the role quite like Luke but again - I know nothing. As always, I loved Sharleen's insight.

7.  I bookmarked these Jcrew factory denim shorts because even though it's all about back to school everything these days I'm always in the market for a decent pair of shorts and I'm always a sucker for the 50% off clearance sales. Fine, not always - but sometimes!

Alright. My time is up. I suspect I'll be looking a little something like this in a little under two hours at the airport

... if not worse.

Happy, happy Friday.

Oh! And I'm linking up with Kelly - no surprise there!

my big fat reunion post

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27 July 2016

... polishing off the last of our vacation photos just in time to start an influx of documentation from our next trip. Saints have suffered, folks. You'll live.

I'll make this quick.

mmmm quickish. 

All of my siblings were together for the first time in what felt like a really long time so we had to commemorate with a photo in a field. Photo credit to Simon using Andrew's camera.

Sarah, Peter, Andrew, Paul, Emily, Daniel, and ... you know who. In case you wanted name tags.  

Sebastian was totally perplexed over the fact that my mom (his nana) and my Aunt Heidi looked so similar with their haircuts and glasses and asked my mom, "I know that you're Nana but who is that nana over there?"

touché, Bash. Touché.

He took the liberty of dressing himself in Theo's shirt and Julia's shorts. No rules in Moline, Illinois.

My Aunt Heidi (or Nana numero dos) brought over a handmade game of Cornhole which was really fun ...

... even if I was really terrible.

Sebastian walked up while I was playing my usual said terrible game and got a (corn)hole in one.

lucky outfit, I guess.

My grandma was so sweet and generous and had a friend make the great grandkids pillow cases and blankets with their names on them ...

  Bosco was MOST appreciative ...

 ... obviously.

For better or for worse the kids discovered the joy of my Aunt Rebecca's iPad during the trip ...

Here Theo is with my mom doing a puzzle. Thankfully they haven't made mention of getting an iPad of their own but after our next serieS of flights ... I might be the one waving the iWhite Flag. We'll see. 

I have to pause here for a moment of silence because I sadly (so sadly! no sarcasm ... for once) lost the last month of photos in the old, "throw the phone in a purse with a leaky bottle" accident --- so all of my phone reunion photos are toast but with the help of my Aunt Heidi and the photos I took with my camera -- I think we're managing just fine. I had a series of balloon photos thanks to my Aunt Rebecca who is super talented at balloon artistry ... Julia had an army of Disney Princesses, headgear, and bracelets hidden safely under her bed from the big bad Phoebe at one point. Here she is getting the finishing touches on one of her more subtle head pieces.

Aunt Rebecca was ALSO responsible for creating a little fairy outside for Julia. Every night she would add a little piece of furniture (or plant a garden of baby carrots - nothing crazy) for Julia to find in the morning. She even typed little tiny notes for her to read toward the end of the trip ...

Julia was completely enamored, as you can imagine. Posey has been asking for our address via Facebook ... I'll keep you posted if she makes an appearance here.

Posey's abode. Before her garden was planted and before one of Julia's brothers may have bulldozed through it.


Speak of the devil ...

We made trips to Whitey's a plenty and Simon and I even snuck out late one night for an ice cream date sans kids. Heaven. Sorry angelfaces.

My youngest sister Sarah swimming in the big, bad deep end with Julia ...

Not that the kids are on any sort of Phelps track but after four swimming lessons -- there is a world of difference in their water confidence. All hail, swimming lessons.

Not sure which is my favorite pair here ... 

the older boys, or Phoebe and Bosco having a glare-off.

Chicken ... 

I wasn't there for this so I don't know who won, sorry.

My mom and aunts took the kids to a pet store to look at ... pets.

Phoebe and Theo's enthusiasm is positively contagious.

And last but certainly NOT least ... a collage of snaps from the children's museum. My grandma treated my mom, aunts, and the three oldest kids to a trip while the two older kids napped and I had the quiet house allllll to myself. It was awful.

Anyway, the kids had such a wonderful time that I'm almost motivated to try to take everyone to the children's museum here in Tampa. Or maybe just a few kids at a time to start.

And the end! You survived. Pour yourself a drink and ask someone to give you a hearty pat on the back.

And now I'm off to try to polish off the remainder of my book before the kids wake up. Can I? Will I? appendages crossed.

bikes, blouses, and books. oh MY.

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22 July 2016

Ohhh, I know you're jonesing for more travel/reunion posts and I will not disappoint in the coming days but I'm linking up with Kelly for a real quick Friday post.

1. Fine, one reunion photo.

Safety first. Phoebe shrieked, "ride!!!" as soon as she woke up every morning which worked out well because I've always wanted to throw, "Clydesdale" on my resume. 

2. Okay! a video too.

Sebastian was very proud that he learned how to ... "dive".

3. I picked up The Hypnotist's Love Story while we were in Moline and so far - so great! I thought I'd read all of her books but I thought wrong. I'd forgotten how much I love Liane Moriarty's writing.

4. I was able to watch The Bachelorette in real time at my grandma's this past week and of COURSE they pulled a, "to be continued ... " WHY. I always listen to the AfterBuzz show/podcast and James F was on this past week and offered a lot of interesting insight if you're in the "insider info but no spoilers please" market like I always am.

5. I've been eying this (embroidered - my love language) top forever and it was finally restocked in my size and arrived today. It's not that I'm opposed to tank tops (at ALL) but I love finding lightweight summer tops with sleeves (another winner) that aren't sheer so they don't require an undershirt/cami situation. Love.

6. And while I know the (trumpets) #nsale is all the rage ... I've always got my eye on the Nordstrom rack deals and saw that these Madewell flares are on clearance ... all sizes stocked (almost spelled: stalked). Everyone keeps saying that they are so happy flares are back in style but I was unaware they EVER LEFT.

7. Welllll, the older two kids have organized a party complete with a bowl of ice, a large bowl of milk (??), and a huge bag of popcorn so I'm off to paint the living room red. And then sweep it up.

Happy Freakin' Weekind.

family reunion: the food edition

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20 July 2016

There are many highlights of our annual family reunion that I love but I have to admit that one of my very favorites is the FOOD. We are always spoiled with my grandma's cooking. She's always planned and frozen batches of delicious homemade food accordingly and so this year I thought it might be fun to give her a very well deserved break.

Oh, that's nice Grace! You made a meal one night? Well, sort of. Blue Apron kindly (so kindly!) sent us two family meals one night and I kindly (so kindly!) put my mom and my Aunt Rebecca to work with said meals.

Two chefs and an imposter/supervisor.

We've never gotten a Blue Apron meal we didn't enjoy but I especially loved the meals they sent this past week. We had the Green Chili Chicken Roll with Lime Jicama Fries ...

(created by a young guest chef from New Mexico! Fate!) and the Beef and Summer Corn Enchiladas ...

Enchiladas under construction.

Grandma and Mom talking meal logistics ...

... and the final Enchilada finished product!

I was a little weary of the jicama fries but they were the perfect fresh and crunchy addition to the entire meal ...

I managed to cut up some limes for the fries ...

with the help of my pink moscato.

In case you're new to Blue Apron here's the genius deal:

+ Blue Apron is a meal delivery service that delivers farm fresh ingredients to your door in a refrigerated box in the exact portions needed for the delicious chef-designed meals.

+ There are two types of plans: the 2-Person Plan and the Family Plan. The Family Plan serves four people and we had two Family Plan meals for nine adults and had leftovers.

+ Blue Apron offers a recycling program and you can return all of your packaging with the provided USPS return label. Learn more here!

+ There's no commitment with Blue Apron - you can skip or cancel anytime

+ Each menu is 500-800 calories per person and most meals can be prepared in 40 minutes or less and has been a huge help to get me out of meal planning ruts. You can access all of their recipes for free here.

Even Phoebe Minnie approves.

I'm a big fan of Blue Apron for our family but also love sending it to friends and family members that might need an extra hand during a certain week (hello new babies! moves! illness! etc).

If you're interested in trying Blue Apron out for yourself - click here to get three free meals with your first order.

Many thanks to Blue Apron for making our reunion quite a bit tastier and for sponsoring this post!

the friendly skies

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19 July 2016

My mantra for our flight up here to the Quad Cities wasn't all that different from the one I use on a daily basis: expect the absolute worst and hope for the absolute best. And it worked! My expectations were exceeded and while it wasn't any sort of dream flight (but it was direct! that was kind of a miracle) - it could've gone worse and I don't think we made any lifelong enemies out of any of our fellow passengers (to my knowledge). 

6:30 in the am. Theo is in a frenzy because he hasn't had his coffee yet.

Simon took one look at his outfit and asked if he was en route to a game of Parcheesi ...

PERHAPS, Simon. Perhaps. 

Anyway, let's just cut to the highlights:

As soon as we got to the airport Phoebe wandered into the gift shop and started looking for GG (great grandma) and then slyly tried to steal a Beanie Baby.

Failure on both fronts.

I was slightly worried when I realized we forgot the carrier we've grown to love but was SO happy we decided to buy a double stroller (fits through doors! folds down easily! has lots of storage! didn't break the bank!) at the very last minute right before we left. It's made the trip a lot more of a breeze than it would've been otherwise. Nice job, last minute Pattons.

And speaking of the last minute - we waited until then to board so that the kids wouldn't be asking how much longer before we'd even taken off and I was so glad we did.

I also broke the one carry-on bag rule (although I think technically you can have a diaper bag with a lap child) ... I think Phoebe's antics distracted them.

Getting up at 4 drove Bosco to mid-flight tears that finalllllllly ended in a little nap ....

... 10 minutes before we landed. Not complaining. Very much.

I thought I had been smart and packed some magic ink coloring pads (I'm saving the water painting for our flight in a couple weeks) but no, no I hadn't. Phoebe managed to only color a smidge of her seatbelt and her entire sweatshirt so -- it was fine.

Julia asked for her sweater as soon as we sat down. 

Like mother, like daughter.
Saving his energy for his impending meltdown ...

smart baby.

post-landing with GG ...

and we decided to go with something simple and compact for our rental ...

dream whip. The kids can spread out so they fight a lot less and we can't even hear the fighting if it's happening in the very back seat because it's essentially in a different zip code.

So, back to minivan reality tomorrow. No one is ready. Especially me. I will survive. I think.

quick takes: travel edition

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16 July 2016

Linking up with Kelly and her adorable new pets.

1. Greetings from the midwest where we are taking in a family reunion ...

... and Bosco's aversion to tan lines.

The kids are in total heaven - I don't think they would have this much fun at Disney World (or so I tell myself) with an aunt that is skilled in balloon art (? correct terminology?), all of Great Grandma's delicious cookies, and a sun that rises at 5:50 in the am -- letting them get their party started with at a most reasonable hour. I can already tell re-entry is going to be a nightmare (Julia said this morning, "I never want to go home" -- wonderful!!) but we're not focusing on that quite yet.

2. Nana and Bosco ...

"can someone please get a picture of me looking like a wonderful grandmother?"

her words not mine.

Bosco has since warmed up to the floating device and Nana (anyone other than Mom is automatic enemy for the first several hours - fun age! fun age ... )

3. As someone who M-U-C-H prefers the heat to the cold ... I still have to admit that I haven't hated the break from the humidity. However, anything dipping below 70 in the morning makes me oh-so happy that we call Florida home these days. I could go on and on about the weather but I won't. For now.

4. So, I'm still working my way through Elin's book (I like it - just lots of characters) but my trusted literary (and librarian!) friend Mandy told me about A Man Called Ove and The Girls so I've got those on deck to read next. Hopefully next week.

5. This 15 second clip prettttty much made my week - many thanks to Heather for posting.

6. Okay, the new (is it new? am I just late to the game?) S'mores flavor of Boom Chicka Pop kettle corn is SO GOOD. So good, so bad. So going to get three more bags later today. Consider yourself warned.

7. Much (exactly) like Prime Day - I've never given a second thought to the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale but this top is making me think about rethinking that decision. Just thinking about rethinking - that's ALL.

Have a great rest of your weekend. More, more, more from the travel front coming next week- worry not. 

Julia Styles

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14 July 2016

While eating bacon ...
Julia: hey Bash, you'll never guess that this chicken is made out of PIG

Watching me make lunch for everyone ...
Grace: you guys must be ravenous
Julia: you can just say, "hungry" Mom

After Sebastian brought me a bouquet of flowers from the backyard ...
Grace: You're so sweet, Bash
Julia: He's not that sweet

While trying to decide what to do one afternoon ...
Sebastian: Oh, can we watch a CVD?
Julia: Bash! I keep telling you! It's called a DIVA-D

Watching me struggle through wall-sits while I did a little workout in the living room ...
Julia: want me to get you a chair to sit in? I think that would make it easier ...

While trying to teach Sebastian all about rhymes
Bash: okay so like dog and hotdog?
Julia: no, not exactly.
Bash: oh
Julia: more like: planet and dammit. 

One morning recently ...
Julia: can we please have juice boxes?
Grace: um, no sorry - we don't have any
Julia: okay, that's fine.
Julia: thinking ....
Julia: we don't mind just having one of your little wines instead

During an imaginary game of "wedding"between Julia, Sebastian, and a left out Theo ...
Grace: hey you guys need to include Theo
Julia: sigh ... okay, Theo I guess you can be the church mouse

Prime Day deals that are worth your time

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12 July 2016

Is it my bad memory and/or imagination but wasn't the last Prime Day a big flop? Maybe not and I've seen a few people grumbling that this time around is no different. I don't doubt they're right but I found a few things worth the click and thought. Just a few ...

I've been eying these New Balance forEVER. And my birthday is coming up. Hmmmm ...

Probably a better use of my birthday funds would be put toward a Kindle so that I can break my terrible reading-on-my-phone-late-into-the-night habit while also protecting my eyes. Probably!

These waterproof crib sheets caught my eye because they claim to be pack-n-play friendly and have a lifetime warranty. They are pretty deeply discounted too!

I've tried these Joe's Jeans on and loved them but absolutely did not need them so I passed. The price is pretty dang good for the quality and all sizes were stocked last time I checked.

I'm kind of wondering if they made a mistake here because these Kelsi Dagger heels
heels are normally $138.99 but they are on sale for $26.99. I have them and love them - comfortable and cute.

Did you find any Prime Day loot worth a second look that you care to share? I'm all eyes.

Happy Tuesday.

seriously superb snacks {and a giveaway!}

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11 July 2016

I was a couple kids into my foray into motherhood when a sort of light bulb went off that's probably obvious to most but it changed our lives for the better once I figured it out. I've written about this before but I realized that a lot of bad moods and tantrums (both mine and the kids') could be easily and happily avoided if I kept an eye on empty stomachs and blood sugars. No, I don't test anyone's blood sugar but sometimes when kids wake up from naps and are just downright cranky or are especially whiny right before lunch or dinner it's often because they're hungry! Fancy that. Does this mean we snack all day? Absolutely not. Does it mean I like to have some easy and relatively healthy snacks on hand that I can quickly grab for the kids while I'm holding a baby with one hand and making a mediocre dinner with the other? Absolutely yes.

This goes for outings with the kids as well. While it's feasible to bring a cooler on longer treks out of the house, sometimes we like to take spontaneous(ish - ha) trips to the beach in the evening, or make drives to try out new playgrounds/splash pads for a change of scenery and packing a cooler is definitely not on my radar. Enter the genius (seriously) that is: Bitsy's Brainfood. Developed by two moms and former educators who know their target audience quite well, Bitsy's Brainfood is a delicious line of smart crackers, cookies, and cereal that are all packed full of nutrients and vegetables. Lots of vegetables! (giveaway forthcoming -- in a few paragraphs! hold tight ... )

The Smart Crackers come in three different addicting flavors: Cheddar Chia Veggie, Maple Carrot Crisp, and Sweet Potato Cinna-gram. The crackers come in fun Tangram shapes which makes playing with your food fun and educational. B-b-b-bonus.

The organic Smart Cookies were probably the biggest hit with the kids because they are alphabet shaped and the kids loved fishing out the letters for their names - you should've seen Theo beam with pride when he finally found a T that Phoebe hadn't broken in half or eaten. They come in Orange Chocolate Beet, Zucchini Gingerbread Carrot, and Sweet Potato Oatmeal Raisin. I was fully prepared to pass on the last flavor because I'm not the biggest fan of raisins in cookies, breads etc but I LOVED them - capital letters necessary. I feel like I need to confess that Bitsy's Brainfood kindly sent us lots of samples to try out but before we could snap some photos -- we'd eaten all the cookies. They are that good. And so healthy. And we had to go buy more. Darn.

The other night I went to get in bed when I found a paper towel on my pillow adorned with a "G" cookie - a little surprise from Julia. Most thoughtful child ever? No - but close! Very close ... methinks.

Even Simon who has an impressive aversion to vegetables, and baked goods I try to make healthier was pleasantly surprised when he couldn't stop eating the Veggie Chia crackers at the beach.

We've got a few picky kid-eaters on our hands and it can get really frustrating when they only want and ask for two specific foods over and over again, day after day and I was expecting some resistance from them on the new food front but every Patton child gave Bitsy's Brainfood a figurative thumbs up.

 Bitsy's Brainfood recently came out with a cereal line as well ...

Their cereal comes in two flavors: Berry Blast and Fruity Number Crunch and were both big hits with the kids.

I let them pour their own bowls - hence the slight exaggeration on the portion size front. Both cereals are gluten free, Bitsy's Brainfood Crackers and Cookies are baked in a peanut-free and tree nut-free facility, and the cereals are made in a peanut and egg-free facility.

Bitsy's Brainfood is one of the 20 organic and sustainable brands selected for the "Made to Matter - handpicked by Target" program which makes it easy for Target patrons to find natural, organic, and sustainable options in their stores. 

You can find a link to buy the line at Target here! And a store locator here!

And before you go we've got a fun giveaway for you - one lucky winner will win a prize pack of Bitsy's Brainfood and a $50 Target Gift Card and TWENTY winners will receive coupons for free Bitsy's Brainfood products so your odds aren't bad!

You know the Rafflecopter drill by now :)

Best of luck and a big thanks to Bitsy's Brainfood for doing what you do and sponsoring this post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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