traveling on planes with children

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21 November 2017

The usual and massive disclaimer that I'm not an expert and greater travel veterans have gone and written more helpful posts before me - of that I am certain. Take this all with a grain of the pink Himalayan variety.

about to hop on a flight that took off right as our kids should've been going to bed. Don't do that - if at all avoidable. 

Over the course of the past three months we've been on twelve flights with our kids. Some with all of the kids and some with only one or two but kids in tow nonetheless. We've busted out our dinosaur of an iPad one time on one flight and that's not because I'm a screen nazi by any stretch of the imagination. If we were ever to do any sort of transatlantic flying you better believe I'd be investing in a few more screens but we've found a few ways to make the flights as pleasant as possible for the kids, their parents, and their fellow passengers.

Remember! Salt, folks.

1. I don't need to tell you that flying with kids is pricey and living where we live (and have lived) makes it difficult to drive to see our families without tacking on a couple of days on the front and back end of the trips so we finally got a credit card that will earn us miles at the suggestion of my airline miles savvy brother. We've earned enough miles since signing up that we've only paid $60 for all seven us (Abe is still a lap child, praise the good and gracious Lord) to fly a couple of times. We earned a ton of miles by just signing up for the credit card which helped immensely too. Will I ever forgive myself for not signing up for an airline mile happy credit card many moons ago? I don't know.

2. Backpacks - I've found that making a big deal over every kid (yes, even Bosco (2) cares) having their own bag helps make the trip feel more special (and therefore elicits decent behavior) for the kids. The older kids bring their school bags and I found a few of these on eBay but had I seen these first I probably would've gone that route for the younger kids. I'll be honest and admit that sometimes I take full and obnoxious control of what is packed in those bags and sometimes I have NO idea what they pack. It's sweet to see Sebastian pull out a random truck he thought to pack for Bosco and not so sweet to see that Phoebe packed herself a rather large ziplock of semi-sweets while flying through the air but I don't think it makes a HUGE difference either way.

Abe loves flying. So much.

3. Art without the mess - My kids now associate flying with these mess-free drawing pads and they are worth every single penny. All five of the older kids love them and sometimes I think I should stock up in the tragic event that they are discontinued.

4. Snacks - since we often fly on airlines that offer no food or drink without a fee I'm always sure to pack plenty of our own. I try to deviate from our usual snacks a bit so it feels special and exciting but again - I'm not always on top of my game and they get the usual fare they find in their lunches and are just fine with that stuff too.

5. Boarding Last - unless we're flying Southwest where you'd get a random assortment of middle seats smattered throughout the cabin if you wait till the last minute to hop on the flight - we wait to board until the bitter end. The kids are mostly fine on the flights but they're still kids and it's much easier to get someone to the bathroom at the gate than when everyone is boarding and you've been buckled up for ten minutes and counting ...

6. Stroller - Bring one! I mean unless your kids are way beyond the stroller stage they are always useful to pile high with bags, let the slow walkers ride, and gives babies a place to nap. We always bring a carrier as well (SO much easier to go through security wearing a baby than trying to juggle the shoe removal etc while holding a baby) but it's nice to have both options handy.

7. Changes of clothes - We learned this the VERY HARD WAY a few years ago when Theo got really sick on a flight and everything was in our checked luggage. I have two pairs of pants (one for the older set of kids, one for the younger) that will fit various sizes and a couple shirts stashed in my diaper bag in a ziplock JUST in case. If you have them - nothing will happen. Murphy said so.

Not sure if my favorite part of this pic is that her headphones are plugged into nothing or that she somehow snuck and painted her nails right before our trip and did a decentish job.

7. packing cubes  - I was skeptical but I kept reading how much people loves them to put inside suitcases and so I took the plunge and am an official devotee. You can organize them by day (all the outfits for Monday in one pod etc) or by person (the route I go - and treat them like mini dressers on our trip) or by category (pajamas in this one, pants in this one etc) and we've been able to fit alllll of our clothes and shoes into one checked bag and one carry-on because the cubes really do help compact everything. I can't sing their praises enough.

8. Chill Out - I've come to the realization that you can pack backpacks to snack and distraction perfection, time the diaper changes and bathroom breaks just right, and sit across the aisle from the kindest grandmother under the sun but something could/will still go wrong. Flight delays (on the tarmac - anything worse? Yes, but barely), suddenly sick kids, diaper failures, etc etc etc. I know you know that kids can sense your stress and while I'm not one to not stress in stressful situations it helps to know that there's not much to be done and if the lady in front of you turns to glare because your baby is fussy or your threenager kicks their seat - it's fine. She'll forget the inconvenience the second she's off the flight. And if she doesn't - she'll live!

9. Caveat - Right before our 12 hour drive up to Mississippi I do have to share that I bought two of these because I got nervous. We really held them over the kids' heads (after lunch and after a quiet time etc etc) so they felt like a big treat once they got them. Simon and I loaded them up the night before with shows they'd never seen and one movie on each and while they didn't even come close to plowing through all of that - it was nice to have when Bosco was about to lose it at the tail end of our return trip. I much prefer them to our iPad but our iPad is super old and we'll only use them for travel and they fit that bill perfectly.

Alright. Godspeed! 


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17 November 2017

1. With Halloween sandwiched between Paul's wedding and Sebastian's birthday - halloween2k17 didn't get any blog love so here's a framer before we blink and it's 2018 ...

... the whole crew too.

2. I always loved this blogger/author but this particular story gave me a real good and literal L O L.

3. Do you still need a turkey for Thanksgiving? Did you see this deal? I hadn't -- until just NOW.

4. Speaking of food - Simon's sister made this breakfast bake (casserole?) for us last week and I made it as soon as I got home and I've been eating it for breakfast/snack/lunch/snack/snack/dinner. Make it! Love it!

5. I don't have any new books to report but I will shamelessly admit that I pre-ordered this book. Oh SO shamelessly.

6. Thank you for your coat input both here and on Instagram! It seemed like this was the clear winner so I'll let you know if/when I pull the trigger. While scouring my usual e-haunts I came across this dress that I think would be super cute with tights and ankle boots - I think. We'll see.

7. Finally and most importantly this deserves a WHOLE lot more than a "take" but I'm scared if/when I start a post I won't stop so for now - a take it is. I wanted to ask if you could spare a prayer for Simon's mom as she approaches the end of her battle with breast cancer. It's easy for me to say she's a special soul as she's my mother-in-law but if you know Ann you know that she really is one of a kind in all of the most wonderful ways. She is on hospice care and Simon and I were able to go up last week to see her and let Abe kick around next to her - moments I will cherish forever.

from our visit to Wichita back in September. We would all live that special week over and over again if we could.

Simon has had some extended time with his four younger siblings and his parents and we'll all head up again soon. Thank you to those of you that have reached out - Simon and I are so touched and appreciative.

I don't care how much of a cliché it is but life is certainly precious, isn't it?

I'll leave you here but I hope you have a wonderful weekend heading into Thanksgiving.

decisions, decisions ...

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16 November 2017

I know I mentioned a few posts back that I'm in the market for a new winter coat (as opposed to a summer coat). While my current coat hasn't gotten a ton of wear since we moved to Florida it's 10+ years of wear are showing and if I sew the top button back on one more time I think it might revolt and run away forever. Maybe. As a terrible creature of habit I'm looking for a coat almost identical but perhaps a little bit higher quality than my current situation. I'm committed to the funnel neck (also called a "stand collar" I recently discovered) but can't decide between navy or black. Here's what I've been perseverating over for the past few days ... 

Will I likely let it go for one more year and chew my nails down to nubs because decisions like this are just TOO MUCH? Yes. But it's still fun to lay out all the options. Funnish.

1. Wool Blend Coat - If this one came in black or navy I wouldn't be writing this post because it would already be safe and sound in my closet. I LOVE it but don't love the color. Not sure why I included it ... maybe I'll have a change of heart?

2. Pressed Bouclé Coat - This might be my top choice - maybe. It's on sale and it doesn't look cheap but it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.

3. Stand Collar Coat - Actually maybe this one is my favorite. I love the sleeve detail and that it's a trustworthy brand. And on sale.

4. Wool Blend Topper - this is a close second (technically third?) but I can't decide if I like the hidden buttons or not?

5. Funnel Neck Wool Blend Coat - If I got this one I think I'd want to replace the buttons to the ones on the green version which I know I'd procrastinate for a very long time.

6. Wool Blend Stadium Coat - this reminds me so much of the much pricier J.Crew version but I feel like this is something I would've worn in high school? Which actually isn't necessarily a bad thing ...

7. Charcoal Wool Blend Coat - I have a few things from this brand that I love so I included it but wish it came in black or navy.

8. L.L. Bean Boiled Wool Coat - went off the beaten path a bit and found this - I'm guessing it's the warmest of the bunch but it also doesn't scream, "quality coat" -- does it?

Anyway, so there we have it. Do you have a favorite? Purchase a coat recently that you'd recommend with a funnel neck? Please - do share!!!

baptism and MORE

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13 November 2017

1. Much to the chagrin of many a blog reader I used to do a meticulous job of recording any noteworthy (and not) events on this here blog. Now, I'm posting a photo from Abe's baptism that happened back in September.

With no Abe. (Thanks to Simon's brother's sweet girlfriend Marquel for this photo!!) 

2. On a culinary note - my mom made the best zucchini bread growing up and so I decided to make some in muffin form the other morning before the kids woke up as a nice change of pace from the, "grab a granola bar or string cheese" as everyone tears out the door for school. So, I did. Long story short? I accidentally used turmeric instead of nutmeg and they tasted awful. Unfortunate story unfortunater? The three big kids and Simon still gobbled them up while tearing out said door. Yum. I also royally screwed up the world's easiest and most delicious pb+chocolate delicacy around tonight so maybe I should just call it good on 2k17: kitchen edition. 

3. I was hoping to get this up by Friday but now it's Monday and I'm wondering if I should just pretend I'm REALLY on the ball for this upcoming Friday? Probably. But, we all know the truth.

4. THANK YOU for all of your wonderful book recommendations! My hold list at the library is a million (give or take) miles long all thanks to you! I'll admit that I dove right into a lighthearted romance (I can't help myself!!!) and am a big fan thus far. 

5. On Riverdale - we happily forged ahead but I'll admit it was killing me (pun alert) and I totally Googled, "who killed Jason???" -- ha. I surprised myself because I hate spoilers; I don't know what came over me. 

6. Abe, Simon, and I went up to Wichita this past weekend and while it wasn't COLD cold it was coldish and I'll admit that I stopped to admire a pair of these pretties (ugglies?) this morning at Nordstrom Rack (got sidetracked looking for dress shoes for the girls - as one DOES) and then I saw that they're having an online flash sale this week. Fortuitous? Perhaps! Perhaps. 

7. Maybe I just haven't noticed in past years but doesn't it seem like a lot of retailers are jumping the Black Friday gun this year? I'm not complaining - merely noting. Any sales in particular that've caught your eye? I'm pretty skilled at dragging my feet until the week before Christmas but in an effort to be more fully present during Advent (yes, we've all heard that phrase a zillion times but it doesn't make it any less true, right? right) I really want to pick out thoughtful gifts prior to December. We recently discovered these at Simon's sisters house and they are an easy stocking stuffer no-brainer since the kids love them + they're useful. I'd like to get Simon some interview trail accessories and aside from scouring this fall sale ... that's about as far as I've gotten.

Anyway, that's THAT.

Hope your week is off to an above average start :)

the SNOO: a review

08 November 2017

I don't get many people sliding into my DMs but when they do it's often to ask my thoughts on the relatively new SNOO they see in the occasional story a la Instagram. Does it "work"??!! Is it as amazing as it seems?! Where did you get that bassinet?!

Well, I'm here to report back that yep, it's pretty amazing. It works. I really, really wish I'd had it for the other kids. Abe is our best sleeper (10-12 hours at night!) despite being constantly woken up for school runs and several trips that messed with his schedule the first few months of his little life and I just don't think it's a coincidence.

Happiest Baby rocking my happiest baby.

It's such a genius concept: combine the safety + security of a swaddle + a very slight rocking motion + just the right amount of white noise = magic. If you've read this blog for any amount of time you know what a big sound machine/white noise fan I am and I love that this has it built right in.

Let's break it all down, starting with the swaddle. The swaddle is removable and machine washable and comes in different sizes (Abe is currently in a medium) and is made out of stretchy but breathable material. Step one involves the straps that come together with velcro ...

... this is when Abe gets excited (think Pavlov's dog) because he is that bizarrely happy kid but I tell myself it's because he knows the value of a good nap.

Next and final step is to zip him up ... and say goodnight ...

The SNOO can sense/hear if the baby starts to fuss or cry and rocks slightly faster and the white noise gets louder in an effort to soothe him or her to sleep. These can also be controlled from across the house via the SNOO's handy dandy app. As the baby gets older and you'd rather they not be rocked throughout their naps or through the night you can set the SNOO to  the "weaning" setting to wean them off the rocking/noise.

First baby able to consistently nap in a light room without blackout shades. It's the little things.

I'm wondering if they'd design one for adults? Weird? No.

One of my favorite things about the SNOO is that if (heaven forbid) Abe is woken up by a wandering toddler or curious Phoebe - he can easily fall right back to sleep. The SNOO is the safest baby bed on the market because it keeps the baby on his/her back all night long. The swaddle wings that attach to the clips on the sides of the mattress prevent any accidental rolling.

Abe doesn't need them but if you're child needs to sleep on a slight incline - they recently came out with little risers to put under the bassinet pad. They've thought of everything.

Want to win one? Of course you do. Well, it's your lucky day because Happiest Baby is generously giving one away to one Camp Patton reader over on Instagram.

Best of luck!!

Happiest Baby provided the above SNOO for review but as always - all opinions are mine and mine alone :)

first festive things first ...

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07 November 2017

Maybe I'm alone here but all of a sudden my Instagram feed is chock full of decked halls, decorated trees, and holiday spirit galore. I'm more of a, "wait for advent" kind of gal but I can see the appeal of getting started early if you're a Christmas fanatic and want to enjoy the aesthetic finery for more than just December + the 12 days of Christmas. Full disclosure: we won't be in town for Christmas and I'm leaning heavily toward not putting up our tree. Grinch Patton? Perhaps. Perhaps! If the kids show signs of future Christmas Treeless PTSD from 2k17 then maybe I'll relent. However, is it too soon to scour the web for wearable finery for the little ladies in our lives? Of course not. Hypocrisy is my strong suit.

I won't subscribe to the cliché that it's more fun to dress girls than it is to dress boys but I have to admit that it often feels like there's a lot more variety in the girls' departments - especially around the holidays. I love the idea of having a 'special' dress for Thanksgiving and Christmas that doesn't have to be relegated to just November and December but can be worn into the new year as well. I also love the idea of said dress being affordable, comfortable, and play-friendly.

Here's what I dug up:

1. fit and flare gold - Julia loves anything that sparkles and I think this could be dressed up with black tights and gold shoes or dressed down with white tights and boots.

2. black and white jersey - I have to admit that this is my very favorite of the bunch. For Christmas it would be so fun with dark green or cranberry tights. Right? Right.

3. lace dress - I love the subtle bell sleeves and lace detail. Predictable as ever.

4. glittery sweatshirt dress - Both of my girls are big fans of anything involving glitter and I love how comfortable this looks.

5. asymmetrical wrap dress - Just festive enough but also just versatile enough to wear year round.

6. long-sleeved jersey dress - Ruffles and jersey! Best of both worlds.

7. green ruffles - This is my second favorite, I think. Twirl friendly and a brand I've grown to love and trust.

8. flutter dress - Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentines Day all rolled into this pretty frock.

I wish I'd thought to add this adorable number because it looks extra comfy but a link will have to suffice. I'm also loving Pink Chicken's line for Target if you're wanting something with a bit of a truly festive kick.

Do you have a favorite? (#2, right?!)

Okay, that's all! For now :)

yee haw

05 November 2017

I'm tempted to type out the super catchy, "we did it!" anthem a la Dora but I'll spare us all and .... not.

But, you did it (hit the 10k mark on Facebook) and for that I thank you. On one hand I think it's kind of silly to care about followers/fans/likes and that's that - it is silly. But on a little portion of the other hand it's fun to know that people are reading (skimming, ahem) what you put out into the e-universe. So, a little giveaway to celebrate a silly (but fun!) milestone I never thought the Camp would reach.

Here's what we've got ...

Stendig Wall Calendar - this thing is huge and I love it (and the kids love coloring the months as they get torn down)

Balm dot com trio - love this stuff. A lot. 

Puffin in Bloom Collection - Julia wouldn't appreciate this quite yet so instead of gifting it to myself - next best thing -- shipping it off to one of YOU. 

3 Tier Cake Stand - Useful and aesthetically pleasing and perfect for holiday gatherings involving food. 

Rose Gold Wall Clock - love the simplicity of this. 

Pink & Gold Fitbit Alta - you know how I feel about Fitbits and this one is SO pretty. 

Okay, head over to Facebook to enter! Super simple and easy!

And thank you!!!!

hey hey you you

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03 November 2017

I don't like your ... no. I'm sure I'd love your girlfriend -- just wanted to pop back into blogging with a splash - hence that super splashy post title.


1. We've been traveling like well, travelers lately and it's really salted my blogging game because as anyone that has um traveled knows - laundry seems to multiply by the zillion when traveling and how many times can I work the word, "travel" into this run-on? Not many. Anyway, I'd love to dedicate a post to each and every one of our trips but luck is on your side and we've got even more trips on the immediate horizon and realism has always been a favorite of mine so here, have a photo I snapped right before my little brother's wedding.

The five oldest kids were in the wedding and about 3 hours into our 12 hour drive up to Mississippi where said wedding would take place I made the horrifying realization that I had left all of their wedding garb in the closet where I'd put it so, "we wouldn't forget it" -- thankfully a friend was able to overnight it for a small/large fortune but my heart is recovering from the nearattack it suffered.

2. What else ... what else? This kid.

I probably think this with every child and have blogged it several times before but I really think he's one of the happiest babies ever. For now, at least. Phoebe is obsessed with him and I spend a lot of my days pulling her off/away from him for fear she'll smother him with her aggressive affection.

3. Moving right along. Because Simon is in his third and final (!!!!!!!!) year of fellowship he's started interviewing for real live attending jobs. He's officially finished at the end of June, takes yet another round of boards, and then off we trot to our yet to be determined new location. We'd love to stay here but there just aren't any jobs in his field (something might pop up, but it's not likely - sadly) so it looks like we'll be headed north and hopefully closer to family in the midwest. The kids are thrilled (they really want to see snow - the apples fall VERY far from the mother tree on the weather front) and Simon and I are excited to start "real life" (I mean - you know) and be done with the eternal training aspect of medicine. I'll keep you posted - as you know I always do.

4. Let's talk shows of the tv variety! A few people have told me that they thought I'd love Riverdale but then a few other people said it was awful so I started watching it. And I don't hate it. Simon even indulged in an episode with me last night and aside from his need to Google up a storm about the original comic - he didn't say he didn't enjoy it. I'm waiting patiently for the Bachelor and while I wish Peter were the bachelor - I'll still be ready and waiting with bells on come January 1st. Any new shows you're loving? Oh! We've been watching The Good Doctor and really enjoying it. I know I'm the worst but while I like This is Us - I'm not a fanatic (ducks to avoid rotten eggs) and haven't kept up this season.

5. I've been reading mediocre book after mediocre book and am officially in a book RUT. Any recommendations are welcome with open and admittedly picky arms. One book I AM very much looking forward to is Jen Fulwiler's new one coming out next year. I'm happy to wait, if impatiently so. She was in town last month and we got to hit the town for dinner and drinks and now I'm feeling like I already blogged about this but it was a blast and we stayed out way too late (no regrets, ever).

6. Can I be rill annoying (please tell me you listen to Kaitlyn's podcast and love her "ken you not?!" segment?) and ask for your Facebook like/appreciation? I guess I can and I am. I'm planning a fun and worthwhile giveaway if/when the Camp reaches 10k fans (likes?) ... woo to the HOO.

7. Alright, since we are in for a bit of a colder November and December on the travel front I've been eying some colder weather friendly duds. Wading through the dozens of cute ankle boot options - I think I like these best but haven't pulled the trigger, yet. I did buy two of these for layering/wearing on the daily and highly recommend them.

And that's that! It's overwhelming thinking of all the things I could and would love to blog about and I'll do my best to put fingertips to keyboard asap. Occasional Blogger's Honor.

Linking up with Kelly!

Sebastian Turns Six!

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30 October 2017

I say it every year with every child but only because it rings so true! How is Sebastian turning six when he was just born yesterday? A few months ago? A year ago MAYBE? I don't know, but he is. I think I might always think of him as the jolly little baby planking around the house from three months on and it's been fun having Abe around as his temperament feels identical to baby Sebastian's (minus the planking - I don't blame you, Abe).

Sebastian has caught up to Julia in the height department and if his rapidly growing shoe size is any indicator he's just going to keep on chugging up the growth chart. Did I unabashedly give him a pair of tennis shoes as one of his gifts? Absolutely. He'll need a new size by Christmas and they'll be wrapped and gifted then, as well.

Sebastian lives to go on outings alone with me or Simon so Simon took him out to get a better idea of what he'd like for his birthday (we keep swearing we aren't buying anymore toys ever but I'll give you one guess what he got for his birthday ... ). They found a remote control truck and Simon texted me via his favorite e-lady (Siri) the brand so that I could look it up and order it on Amazon. The brand was Dickie Toys but Siri thought to spell it, "dicky toys" and you can only imagine what that search pulled up on Amazon. I have only myself (and Siri and Simon) to blame.

Anyway, back to the boy of the hour. Sebastian is so eager to please and do things right that whenever he senses that I'm in, "thishouseisapitofdestructionandweneedtocleanfortenyearsbeforeitsanybetter" mode he's the first to get down to business and even pulls out the vacuum to tackle the floors. He recently told me that he forgot if I was 100 or 200 years old, is eternally asking when we are going to do, "fun things" even if we've just pulled in the driveway from long trips or playground outings, and switched beds with Theo when Theo decided he'd rather sleep on the top bunk. We set up his train sets in the guest room (aka away from Bosczilla) and he spends hours up there making complicated tracks with homemade tunnels and cardboard buildings galore.

He really wanted a duplicate of the cake I made when he turned two for his sixth birthday so I made it happen and have the hurricane of a house to prove it. After we ate his requested dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, sang + had cake, opened his presents and let him stay up late to play with them he still asked when we were going to do, "fun things" ...

at least he's consistent and I appreciate the predictability.

We love you Sebastian! We hope you had a happy and semi-fun birthday! 

things I'm extra excited about

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30 September 2017

extra extra.

the photo that candid built.

1. London LittlesMy friend Janssen and her husband launched a line of kids' rain boots yesterday and as an unofficial connoisseur of kids' rain boots I'm here to report that they are GOOD. She didn't ask me to share and this isn't sponsored but if you've read her blog you know that she wouldn't put her name on anything less than perfect. If you follow the, "something to play with, something to read, and something to wear" rule of thumb for kids' Christmas gifts might I recommend a pair of rain boots? I might! I might.

2. Movies - I always feel way out of the movie loop so I get excited when there are flicks on the horizon that I've heard about AND want to see. I just rented The Big Sick but Simon and I decided that 9pm was too late to start a movie (L to the O to the L) so we'll watch it tomorrow and we're excited like the party animals that we are. I was hoping that Home Again would be out too but no luck, yet. Right now we're watching Grey's Anatomy while Simon tells me how unbelievable the entire show is like the grinch that stole vapid television.

3. Books - Well, one book. I just started Little Fires Everywhere and so far, so great.

4. Podcast - I'm starting one!

jk jk jk jk jk - gotcha! No, I probably didn't. It seems like all of Bachelor Nation has started one though and I might be the only happy human about that fact as they'll pull me through the Bachelor/etteless fall.

5. My little brother's wedding - it's coming up! It's a ten hour drive and I'm going to throw out the conservative estimate that it will takes us thirteen to get there. You know I'll circle back to report how laughable that estimate actually was.

6. Backyard Margaritas - we had them in Wichita and they were GOOD. Beerita, whatever - still good.

7. Shoes - allllllll the shoes on sale right now. Hunter boots! Ankle boots! Tennis shoes! You get the photograph.

Happy Weekend :)

Julia turns 7!!

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26 September 2017

"My mom never threw me elaborate parties but she was always sure to put up a celebratory blog post a few days after my actual birthday."

- future Julia

Her one and seven year pictures bear a striking "smile" resemblance. It was the best she'd give me and beggars can't be choosers, I suppose.

I'm going to have to argue with the old, "time marches on" adage because someway and somehow we've got a seven year old in the house and it feels as though time is doing more of a sprint around here. I remember feeling like we were "old" parents when Julia turned four and then five and then six and now SEVEN ... so I can't imagine what the high school years will feel like. Dentures + orthotic shoes, probably.

Julia has always loved drawing but this past year her works of art have taken on new meaning as she's started making herself, "drivers lisenses" and tucking them into her purse, rigid agendas for playtimes with her younger siblings, multiple heartfelt cards for the entire family and her friends ...

... and even room decor made out of pizza boxes she fishes out of our recycling bin.

I think (and she would agree) that she's earned herself an abbreviated stint in purgatory for the years that she's spending sharing a room with Phoebe. Julia is a very neat and tidy person and Phoebe .... is not. As soon as Julia gets home from school she runs into her room to survey the inevitable damage incurred by her roommate.

I see a lot of Julia in my former child self and I'm not sure if it's because we are both oldest girls or just that she's my child and the apple doesn't fall far from the mother tree but it's entertaining to relive my own quirks through a parent's eyes.

Ever since we moved to Florida she's been VERY dedicated to growing out her hair (you can see how short it was in her 5yo photo above) and has remained vigilant in her quest - only letting me trim it when absolutely necessary. She keeps a brush in her backpack just in case and is very proud that she can get the majority of her hair in a low ponytail all by herself. Emphasis on the majority.

We were in Wichita for her birthday and her Aunt Mary and Uncle Andrew very very generously rented a bounce house and set it up in their yard as a huge surprise for her birthday. She was so surprised and excited and I'm still trying to figure out a way to erase Sebastian's short term memory as he's expecting the same exact treatment (flight to Wichita and all). I'm enjoying the age where her biggest birthday present requests are a fidget spinner and a repeating bird although I might've rethought the repeating bird had I known what it was exactly :).

Happy belated birthday to our sweet, thoughtful, curious, and smart firstborn Julia Grace!!

Irma y mas

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18 September 2017

1. I've sat down to pound these out more times than I can count (lies! maybe three or four) but then Irma and um, excuses upon excuses got in the way. Better late (or extra early for this coming Friday?) than never, says I.

2. Speaking of Irma, I could and probably should dedicate an entire post to our time with her and her fickle antics but if I wait - I'll never do it so a take or two will have to do for today. So, we weren't too worried about Irma but as the track started getting closer and closer to Tampa and suddenly there was no bread on the shelves (of Costco! impressive, good people of Tampa!) and gasoline was becoming scarce we boarded up our house and loaded up on food and water. Simon prepared for the apocalypse by purchasing large vats of canned peaches (???), canned chicken, and canned salmon (more ?????) and we were all set to hunker down. And then we woke up on Saturday morning to alleged reports that the eye of a Category 4 Hurricane could come barreling through our county and we got a text from Simon's boss that we really should leave. SO! We did. We went to Orlando and stayed at a vacant condo (Simon's friend's friend's wife's mom's condo - you follow? me neither) and it worked out well because we could spread out and Diego had his own little area in the kitchen and the kids could sleep in the hallway the night the Irma hit (overkill? maybe! but the wind was alarmingly loud and I didn't want some flying gutter to shatter a window .. I know - overkill).

Sunshine after the storm. Our terrible view from the condo. 

As irony would have it I don't know if we were that much safer in Orlando (there were huge trees uprooted all over downtown Orlando so the gusts weren't messing around) but we felt safe on the 5th floor of a sturdy building where a tree couldn't crush our roof (a real fear at our house) and subsequently a Patton adult or child or dog.

3. We returned home after 48 cozy hours together to some very minor flooding and loads of fallen branches bedazzling our yard. We felt and still feel incredibly fortunate in the wake of so many people dealing with the horrific and catastrophic aftermath of both Harvey and Irma. Let's all pray that Maria behaves because I think everyone has hit their Hurricane quota for the year century.

4. I know everyone's talking about the new iPhones coming out (Ellen's take was hilarious - worth a watch) but you all know how I feel about my Fitbit -- did you see that they're coming out with a smart watch? One of the articles I read made a point to say how ugly the Fitbit Blaze is (the one I wear - L to the O to the L - I can't argue - but I still heart it) and that the newer Fitbit will be more aesthetically pleasing. Time will tell, I suppose. Punny? Never.

5. All you citizens of Bachelor Nation - did you stick it out to the boring end of BIP orrr jump ship? I stuck it out (barely) but was more interested to see where things stood with the Dean/Kristina/D.Lo love triangle post-show. After listening to multiple podcast (so many podcasts! Even Dean and Becca are starting their own podcasts!) interviews and watching their awkward body language on Ellen it seems like things may pick back up for Dean and Kristina? Maybe? I have to admit that initially I was excited about Arie as the new Bachelor (disappointed it wasn't Peter? of course) because I did like him on Emily's season but after reading a bit about some of his recent behavior - I don't know. We'll just have to see.

6. And on a less vapid note (forced/faux laugh) I've been slow to hop on the tied shirt trend (I was allll over it in middle school) but this version looks doable for an amateur like myself.

7. Oh! books! After a few people suggested Taylor Jenkins Reid's book, One True Loves that I'd already read I decided to try a few of her other books and so I plowed through both After I Do and Forever Interrupted. Enjoyed them both and now I've got to find something else to occupy my time that I should be spending sleeping/cleaning/etc etc etc.

Alright, have a wonderful rest of the week. I trust that you will :)

three months of Abe

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13 September 2017

"While I'm not exactly sure where the last three months have gone, I also can't quite remember life without this little baby" - me with every baby. Predictable as ever. 

While we had every intention of calling him Abe he still gets called Abraham, Babraham, Abey Cakes (??), and Abey Baby, more than he gets called Abe right now. Phoebe is constantly all up in his grill telling him, "you missed me - I know it!" (despite having just hassled him 5 minutes prior) and Bosco only asks to hold him when he's crying (convenient), the big kids like when he naps on their beds, and Simon and I still ooh and aw over him every night like he's our firstborn born just last week. We don't take photos of him like he's our first because I'm fairly certain these are the first non-cellular photos he's had taken by his doting mother. 

Bosco saw the camera, climbed into the frame, and went to work.

I have a distinct memory of craving a schedule and routine when Sebastian was 6 weeks old and Abe is more than double that age and we've yet to get that routine ball rolling. Soon! Soon. He naps semi predictably throughout the day but takes an especially long nap during dinner and the big kids' bedtime routine and perks up juuuuust as I start to think about doing something productive and stays up until Simon and I go to bed. If he wasn't consistently sleeping through the night (although! is it "through the night" if he goes to bed at 10:30/11?) I would probably be a little more motivated to be more regimented.

He seems to have such a sweet temperament but I'd be willing to bet most babies do and I always think every baby has a sweeter temperament than the last so - this sentence is essentially moot.

This photo is ever so slightly different than the first. Trust me.

Anyway, he's super chill in the car (which wins LOTS of points in my book because both of the girls were the opposite of chill and I've got the scarred drums of the ear variety to prove it), tolerates baths, and loves to be held and fawned over which is just fine by me. Usually.

And now for the fun part - which sibling does he favor? When he was first born I really thought he looked like a chubbier version of Theo (Abe weighed almost 2 pounds more) but now I'm thinking maybe a combo of Julia and Theo with a dash of Bash?

A refresher (I know we just did this with Bosco a couple years ago but humor me)  ...

Julia ...

Sebastian ...

(never has a child grown up to look so unlike his baby photos)

And Theo ...

Theo is 100% my side of the family slash Robin Williams lookalike.

And our sweet little Phoebe ...

glad I was diligent about those headbands to keep those locks out of her eyes.

And Bosco ...

I see zero of Bosco but maybe it's the hair/lack thereof?

I don't know.

I do know that there's nothing people love more than to stare at other people's baby photos - especially old ones. I'm no dummy.

Anyway, Abe's hair is lightening up and falling out at alarming rates and I'd be willing to bet that he'll be bald or blonde by his first birthday. Time will TELL.


play kitchen makeover

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30 August 2017

some might call it a makeunder (that missed spot in the middle bottom shelf - I see you) and I wouldn't blame them a bit.

Towards the end of my pregnancy I stupidly decided I had to give the kids' play kitchen a face lift. Call it nesting or call it crazy but I read a few tutorials and went to work. It was simple but took a lot of time and rather than give you a step-by-step (better blogs! better tutorials!) I'll tell you what I was glad I'd done and what I'd wish I'd done differently.

Let's start at the very beginning with supplies:

grey chalk paint + brush (I'm not sure how important it is to have a dedicated chalk paint brush though - I've used the cheap chip brushes they've worked fine too)
sander (not necessary but SO NICE TO HAVE)
matte clear gloss
gold spray paint (I tried two different colors/brands and this was so much better)
thick wrapping paper of choice
foam board

Maybe the most tedious and time consuming but most important step was taking all of the plastic hardware off because 23947289347289734 screws but it's a necessary evil. Also - I read how helpful it was to put the parts in bags and label them which I would've never ever though to do and would've thought I would "just remember" what goes where but no - never would I ever have remembered.

don't skip it. Don't forget the plastic sheets covering the microwave and oven doors - they probably need a good cleaning anyway (ours did).

I couldn't get the knobs off so I just taped them off while I was painting and then taped off the kitchen (after I made certain it was REALLY dry) while spray painting the actual knobs ... like so.

It worked fine and I was able to sand out that big drip of paint and touch it up with the grey chalk paint.

I went with chalk paint because we had some on hand and it goes go on VERY nicely/evenly and I wasn't looking to put 3-4 coats of paint on a tiny structure with a zillion hard to reach crevices. I experimented with painting the back of the kitchen without sanding beforehand and it went on fine but after sanding the fridge door and noticing how much smoother the pain looked I decided to just sand the entire front of the kitchen.

This is turning into a step-by-step. Sorry.

I did two coats of paint on the kitchen and sanded any rough spots in between (if the paint went on thick where I'd let an eager helper be a little too helpful). Originally I wasn't going to paint the inside but then I just --- did. It looks better and only took like 89 extra hours. The plastic kitchen parts needed two separate coats of spray paint and I decided to just go ahead and spray the few play bowls we have from Ikea with gold spray paint as well.

Originally I wanted to draw some sort of faux tiles on a foam board "back splash" with a gold sharpie but then remembered I had one last sheet of this wrapping paper and figured wrapping some foam board would be a heck of a lot easier than trying to draw perfect "tiles". It worked and Simon helped me use a staple gun to affix the totally practical backsplash onto the back of the kitchen.

I'm shocked it's still intact and untouched because the kitchen takes a beating daily by our resident two-year-old.

If I were to do it again I think I would probably just go with regular high gloss paint that I've used to paint the majority of our dressers. I think it would look better and the paint job would last longer. I would also go with a slightly lighter color of grey but - who cares.

I might also paint one of the sides with chalkboard paint for fun and I guess I can still do that but the painting ship motivation has kind of sailed ever since Abe arrived - riddle me that.

I know some people have put contact paper on to look like marble or granite counters (and it looks amazing!) and to be honest - I have the contact paper but I decided to quit while I was ahead and call it good - maybe I'll tackle that during a potential play kitchen remodel in like 10-20 years.

I made a mental list of things not to forget and now I'm forgetting them so if you have any questions - let me know! I'm glad I did it because the kids thought it was fun to help, they claimed to like the outcome, and it was a good distraction that got me through a few audio books during those last weeks of Abe baking.

I'm not crafty or particularly handy with a paint brush and if I can do it - anyone can, promise! 


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