It's the final countdown!

I hope you sang that post title.

The final countdown is on until school is out. As much as I love these two classes and their families, who doesn't look forward to summer break? After Memorial Day weekend, it is a killer to go back for six more days. Make that five, since this post took me two days to write and publish (SYTYCD auditions invaded my TV, sorry)...

We had a great weekend!  The weather in Columbus has been amazing (windy, sunny, and not TOO hot), so we spent a lot of time outdoors. Which makes for a happy baby, which makes for a happy mama.
Off we go! 
Saturday was a playground day and then cookout with the neighbors. We are so lucky to be able to just walk nextdoor with our food, walk back to change diapers, and not have to drive home when it's all over!
We choose to hang out at their place because they have a fabulous patio. And a dog who doesn't eat whole chickens and dirty diapers. Sorry, Mike and Declan, your feet didn't make the cut.

On Sunday, Larkyn and I took a perfect zoo trip, again with Mo and Declan (neighbors). We couldn't have ordered a more beautiful day. The zoo pass that grandma got for Larkyn for her birthday has already been used three useful!
He thinks her pirate face is charming. Argh!

Speaking of Grandma, we headed downtown to her house for the night. German Village is by far the most interesting neighborhood in Columbus to walk around, and that night was beautiful for a walk around Schiller Park. She made a million things to eat, and I still took the leftovers to work today for lunch! Have BBQ sauce-will eat.
Ducklings at the beautiful park.
I used to pack lunches into little containers and a cute lunchbag. Until I had a kid. Now, I grab whole containers and a grocery bag!  Much to my mother's dismay...

The weekend was wrapping up as I made a favorite summertime dessert for a cookout at my parents'. Just use break-apart cookie dough, vanilla ice cream (scooped in flat scoops with a spoon), and roll in sprinkles. Freeze! Monday was off and on rain, but for a few hours, we were able to eat out on the deck with Nana and PawPaw. He doesn't think much about it anymore, but I always think of my dad, the WWII vet, on Memorial Day. No big deal, he thinks, just out savin' the free world.

Pre-gaming with goldfish

We need to train Nana to call Larkyn's name whilst taking the picture ;) This was the best of our family pics, until my arms gave out from wrestling someone who wanted no part of it.

But ice cream and cookies makes everything better!

Her new fave activity, drumming. On anything and everything.

See? She is drumming on my dad.

The final way to end a perfect weekend?
That's right. Men all over America can rejoice!  The women of the house will be on the couch for 2 blessed hours of The Bachelorette. Desiree was my favorite right out of the gate last season, but her brother pretty much sent that relationship down in a blaze of trashy glory. Last night's men included a knight wearing armor, a psycho rapist who kept physically moving her toward a dark room he had set up to be a "Fantasy Suite", one who kept using the term "hashtag", and one whose shirt never made an appearance. I hope she can find someone normal in this all-star group of weeeirdos. Anyone else watching?

Happy List

OK back to this blog challenge, only NOW I make the rules and pick the topics I like from the list.

Fifteen things that make me HAPPY!

15. Blogging. Even if no one reads it, I like to write it.

14. Larkyn's developing vocabulary and mannerisms. I adore that she says "hi! wave!" to everyone and calls umbrellas "brelellas".

13. Going out to lunch!  I hate packing it and love a little break with my coworkers.

12. Perfect weather: Warm, sunny weather with a breeze and low humidity.

11. The beach. Specifically, uninhabited beaches.

10. Starting the day with a Starbucks latte, McDonald's vanilla iced coffee, or Tim Horton's English Toffee cappuccino. This is about a twice a week deal and makes my day!

9. Making desserts to share with people.

8.  Having plans for the weekend. Not being "booked", just having a zoo trip or cookout in my mind makes me settled rather than stir-crazy.

7. Movie time, whether it be girly movies on the couch (Big Fat Greek Wedding never gets old!   "Yes, inside the lump was my twin. Spanikopita!") by myself or Netflix night with Matt,  I do love movies! 

6.  Putting outfits together, either virtually on Pinterest, or for the 10 minutes in my head before I finally roll out of bed // Not putting outfits together. If I'm not going to work or out for the day, I live in North Face sweatshirts and yoga pants. You know, for all that working out I do.

5.  Party planning!

4.  Phone calls, emails, and visits with my family and my friends. The countdown is on for our family beach trip (like Christmas to me!)  It's also fun to see how excited Larkyn gets to see them, especially as she is remembering all their names (or "cutie"/"sweetie" for the grandmas)

3.  Oh yeah, Christmas, And all holidays I can decorate for and watch Larkyn enjoy.

2.  Shopping. All kinds.

1.  Waking up to my sweet girl saying "HI MOMMY!" and my hubby giving me a kiss when he leaves.

Is this real life?

This post brought to you by the following real-life events I experienced this week:
  • My darling daughter smiling sweetly and saying "hi!" to other Target customers, then as we passed the bras, shrieking "BOOBIES!" until I could speed away in that big red cart.
  • Walking into my bedroom to find my dog eating an entire rotisserie chicken on the bed.
  • Getting schwacked by a toddler size golf club more than once
  • Listening to conversations such as "Do you KNOW how big elephant poop is? It would kill someone if it fell on them" and "I smell like bananas" during my 9-5.
  • A KIDZ ONLY! (one of those music channels that plays Selena Gomez and kid-friendly versions of Madonna, you know) dance party that just commenced in my living room because of this Pinterest discovery: If it is too tiny to read, see the original pin here.
We have a code blue situation around here. She's quite yellow too, but I think we might be able to solve some of the whining with some more active outlets. Since we were "dismissed" from our tumble tots class the first night because she couldn't handle waiting in line, we will need to instill some major dance and play breaks to center her. What do you guys do at home?

And this post reminds me of why I chose the name for this blog. And that I already forgot about that blog challenge.

My top 5 posts

It's time to dust off the archives and share my five favorite posts on this little blog!  It was actually very hard to choose, because my list really would have been all of Larkyn's birthday parties and Christmas stuff. And all the recipes. And then there are the random ones that people have pinned that have 30000 hits and they were more informational than entertaining (Nursery source list, Baby Brezza review, how to make baby barrettes). These are the ones that make ME smile for one reason or another.

Surprise! We got married!

Family Reunion

Our sporting event of choice

Larkyn's Baptism

Living Room overhaul

25 months: The gamechanger

It seems like after her second birthday, Larkyn flipped on some secret switch that was installed on the bottom of the crib when we brought her home that says "GAMECHANGER".
Those little feet belong to our neighbor and her new obsession, baby Declan.

So many developments this month!

Her sleep is all over the place and has no pattern. My 7:30-7:30 baby is gone (temporarily?) One day she will wake up at 6:00, the next day it will be 8:30. She will take a 4 HOUR nap one (amazing) day, then go to bed like a champ when she should be up all night because of that nap. Most nights now, she is up for about 40 minutes in her crib. She's not crying. She's actually having the time of her life jumping up and down, singing, and throwing everything out of her crib.

I have tried an earlier bed time and a later bed time and neither changes this new bedtime routine. She is refusing books and wants to go straight to her crib to go crazy. Thoughts?

She talks for all parties involved now and it is hilarious. On the way from the car into a store, you will hear "Hi Cutie! Oh wow! Shopping! Close the door. Watch your head. Walk." And if she falls, "OK, Yahken?" because that is how she says her name. Yahken.

Her food preferences have dwindled down to about 5 things. Actually, all very reminiscent of this...
Except instead of candy corn, it would be sprinkles.
Fears!  Is this when fears develop? They might as well re-brand Dyson as Lucifer.  Vacuuming is a dramatic event around here. She doesn't want to be held high by daddy right now, which she used to love. And anything with a motor needs to stay the hell away, no matter how friendly the driver of the vehicle or weed whacker operator may be.

She has some fun new interests that keep her busy, like pouring anything and lining her toys up. For now, reading has gone out the window, but I'm hoping it is a phase!  She loves drumming on any surface with anything and is really into writing with a pen.

The countdown is on to spending summer with my little on-the-go girl...

Let it go

Today's topic is "Get real. What is something you are struggling with right now?"

This is not new. It is something I have struggled with forever and is my biggest personal demon. I'm not even sure how to describe it, but it is part of my every day life and is a huge reason why I choose to work with children all day rather than adults.

I have a crushing, stifling fear of people being mad at me. Does it sound silly? Like "Sure, no one likes people to be mad at them"??

I spend a good deal of time going over conversations and choices in my mind after they have happened. I analyze how the person reacted, and if I think I upset them, I obsess over it until I hear the words come out of their mouth that they aren't mad at me. And then I wayyyy overcompensate.

I can choose a car or a house in a frighteningly quick time frame; I think I am pretty sensible and decisive. But these real life scenarios that I think most people don't bat an eyelash at will make me sick...

Who do I spend time with on Mothers Day (my own mom, my own family, Matt's mom?),  Did my joke about ticks offend my friend? Because my kid is sick, do I stay home with her and miss a friend gathering or leave her with Matt and make them happy but myself upset? Do I come home early from my family vacation to administer a test during the summer because I said I would 6 months ago and now I can't?  What will this Bob Evans hostess think of me if I don't leave a tip on my carryout order? 

(if you are curious, the answers are: All 3, no, miss it, HELL no but I got in trouble for it and am working on accepting that, and I don't know because I left one and can't resist a tip line)

I feel like everyone else around me is so good at being decisive and trusting that people won't hate them. They choose and don't look back. Or maybe they do, but they let it go. They do a good job calming me down and reminding me that I can't make everyone happy all the time.

Five Fabulous blogs

As part of Blog every day in May, I'm linking up to share five of my favorite blogs with you. Don't be mad if yours isn't on here (please?) I decided to not put any of yours (my beloved followers) on here because I couldn't pick all of you. I chose non-followers so I could share them with you:)

Young House Love
I started following the Petersiks before they knew they were having a baby (Clara is now 3), and it is amazing to see how their lives have changed in that time. Their work ethic and likability (oh and DIY skills that are mind-blowing) have earned them a book deal and tour, TV spots with Nate Berkus, collections in various retail stores, and the mother of all achievements is next up: Oprah! I love to check up on Clara and see what project they are tackling next.

The Girl in the Red Shoes
I don't remember how I found Julie about a year and a half ago, but you can quickly see why I love reading her posts. At first, they were mostly about home decorating, crafting, and clothes. But, after the announcement that she was expecting little Hudson, it has developed into a mama blog as well. She is very thoughtful about the baby products she discusses and just has GREAT taste in everything!

Keep Calm & Carry On
Katie is local, and I love me some local information!  She is also a few years younger than me, so I feel like she has a better handle on the "cool" places to go in Columbus. She reviews beauty products, shares fabulous clothing finds, and a recipe here and there. And her dog is as cute as it gets!

The Larson Lingo
I found Mel through Pinterest, which is appropriate because every moment of this woman's life is pinnable. Her party planning, graphic design, photographs, recipes, and her gorgeous PBK model children (for real, that's what they do). She seems grounded and the kind of mom I hope to be, and she shares lots of useful mom advice to get me there. Plus, she is a math teacher!  Basically, she needs a big S emblazoned on her chambray shirt and a hand knit cape, because she's Supermom.

Life with Emily
This is my new favorite blog, for totally superficial reasons (she's not superficial, I am for lusting after her wardrobe). This (young!) girl has impeccable style and I love to see how she pairs things and accessorizes every day. It is kind of fun to see where her life is going....ah, to be 23! She is also the reason why I linked up on this blogging challenge.

A story from my childhood

May is here, which means that my brain is officially left in my classroom at the end of every day. I could show you a list of all the paperwork that public schools now require for each student outside of my classroom teaching time, but that would depress both of us. Let's just say, my blog ideas have been...well, zero.

So, I'm picking up on a blog challenge (a little late) that will hopefully recharge my blogging mind.

Today's topic is "Tell a story from your childhood". Hmm.  I guess we'd have to go with the most dramatic, which takes place when I was a four year old with a mind of her own.

We were meeting my dad's brothers and sisters in Indianapolis (I have no idea why; I'm guessing my dad was building a property there). I remember being in KB Toy Store at the Indianapolis Mall. Remember that place with all the cool robotic cats and dogs they would strategically place in the doorway to lure you in?  Wasn't into them. I was into a magical Pound Puppies rubber stamp and ink set.

I admired it while I was with my mom and Aunt Sara, but I remember my mom saying "no", that I couldn't have it. Well, that was certainly not the answer I wanted, but no worries, I continued to halfheartedly browse the store.

Later, while everyone was eating, I somehow (?!) managed to go ahead and find my way back to KB by myself. I went and just stood by my muse, the stamp set, without a plan really. The woman asked me (Home Alone style), where my mom was and I was totally calm. I'm sure she was onto me, but I wasn't really worried about where my family was. The stamps would be mine. Somehow.
inspiring thieves and runaways since 1986.

I'm not sure how long I was a missing child, but long enough to know that I caused a bit of a commotion. When my aunt came storming into the store with a police officer (or mall security?), they swooped me up and my plans were foiled. I don't remember crying or feeling like I was ever in danger. I do remember us leaving the mall right away and laying on my other aunt's lap (because I was temporarily terrified of my other aunt, who arrived on the scene of my stamp stealing with the police).

And I do remember getting back to the hotel and the stamp set sitting on the table, purchased before the "incident" as a surprise.  Looking back, I'm not sure if I deserved it or not.  Larkyn will be in a stroller til she graduates.

What motherhood has taught me

This post is sponsored by and dedicated to my own Mama, with whom I celebrated Mother's Day at Panera this morning. Ohhh how we love our souffles and mochas! And sweet baby girl was chipper as ever, cracking us up with her Gangnam Style dance-along and saying "Hi cutie!" when she greeted my mom. She's something else. As a gift to myself, I dressed her in my favorite new outfit.
You know, gotta live up the seersucker and chambray before she wants to pick her own outfits.

This year, rather than a sappy post, let's talk about some "teachable moments" I've had in the last year. Moments that made me want to laugh/scream/cry at the same time. Enjoy. And Happy Mother's Day to you! Even you moms of fur babies; that counts too.

10. Toddlers + Voice Control/Face Time= very awkward phone moments

9. Magenta Sharpie comes out of brand new Hunter boots with an alcohol wipe. My chest just tightened as I thought of that moment when I saw the vandalized Wellies.

8. DJ Lance Rock and Psy are magical men in the iPhone who provide an extra 10 minutes of happy shopping for mommy.

7. Crisp, delicious grapes are hard to digest for toddlers. Take my word on this one.

6. Hearing your baby call you "mommy" or say "Love you" works like the Men In Black thingy, erasing the memory of whatever cereal tantrum that may have just occurred minutes earlier.
I've just learned that it's called a neuralyzer and is available on ebay for 11.99.

5. When I was pregnant, advice was a little annoying, a little overabundant. Now, anyone could end up as an unsuspecting target for my diaper/binky/sleeping/teething questions. Sorry, women of the Target diaper aisle and parent volunteers at school.

4. Catching father-daughter moments is like hunting an elusive snow leopard. There it is! Catch it with your camera! Now be cool and pretend you were checking the weather on your phone...

3. Laundry is an art. Maybe I can get semester hours for it.

2. Your best girlfriends really rise to the occasion to help you out. Who doesn't even flinch when my kid pulls french toast or eggs off of their plate when we go out to eat? (Kate and Amber, that's who). And who rocks my child during her own kids' sacred nap time because mine won't sleep at her house?  Rock star sister-mama, Jill. Fairy Godmother Julie jumps in to kid-whispering mode wherever we go and reminds me to buckle my newborn in during the new-mom-brain phase. Hillary Clinton was right.
But these giraffes are cuter. Sorry Hillary. But yes, "it takes a village".

1. There is no other job that is more fulfilling, surprising, and exciting. I am grateful to have this job.

What mom really wants

Ladies and gentlemen, you have 24 hours to do something nice for your mom. Now that I am a mom myself, I can tell you that it matters NOT how much money you spend. It matters that the day is set apart from others (even if it is celebrated from miles away). Make her day different...special. It doesn't require a dozen roses or an expensive brunch. It doesn't require an hours-long Pinterest project that makes you resent the day. Just a few simple acts and the gifts no woman will ever turn down (and no, the text alone does not suffice!)...

Mamas out there, what would make you happy on Mother's Day?  Hope it is a good one for everyone tomorrow!

Quick and Easy Mother's Day gift

Well, hello!

I wanted to link up with Kristin to share a quick and easy (and cheap!) gift you can make for the grandmas on Mother's Day. I made 43 of these with my students this week, so if you are a teacher, these are a great Mother's Day or Christmas gifts as well.  Here we go:

You need:
  1. Mod Podge. Don't try to make your own. Just don't. It's 4.99 at Hobby Lobby.
  2. A brush or sponge brush
  3. Tiles: I chose a box of ten 4x4 tiles from Lowe's for $3.47. For my kindergartners, I did bisque 16 cent tiles, which are just as cute (but only the best for the grandmas, you know)
  4. Photos, trimmed to fit on the tiles. If you choose slate like me, I'd suggest trimming smaller than I did because of the rough surface. My photos had a few spots where they didn't stick all the way because of the bumpy surface. If I were doing this over again, I'd look for tiles with a smoother surface!
  5. Felt furniture pads. We had these on-hand, but you could also cut a 4x4 piece of felt to fit.
 Get gluing!
  1. Spread Mod Podge all over the surface of the tile. A thin layer will do.
  2. Stick the picture in the center.
  3. Spread another layer over the picture and the tile (cover the entire top so that the photo is sealed to the tile). Make sure brush strokes are neat and going the same direction, because you will be able to see brush strokes.
  4. Let them dry. Walk away and make yourself busy so you don't check them obsessively.
  5. Come back and admire the cuteness. Add felt pads to the bottom so they don't scratch the table!
Hope this is useful, and please excuse the terrible phone pictures...we ran out of daylight on this project!
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