Bloglovin'

If you use Google Reader, it is time to say adios tomorrow!  Like many others, I have found bloglovin to be a good substitute to house all of the blogs I love in one spot. It is so easy to sign up and then you can keep following me:)



Park of Roses

I'll make this short and sweet tonight! Kate and I headed out with the kids (one in a stroller, one on a leash) for our first trip to the Whetstone Park of Roses. If you haven't been, pick a night this week and go!




Happy 26 months


What's our girl up to these days?  She could probably tell you herself, but you might not understand through the binky, which she STILL loves. We are working on it.

Cute-isms: Her hellos and goodbyes are quite a production. You'll get "BYE!" "Seeya!" "Love you!" over and over until one of you is several hundred feet away. She also likes to tuck everyone in with blankets or towels to put them to sleep. She has also started saying "So pretty?" when I dress her or fix her hair and she knows it is a special occasion. Melt my HEART.    

Vices: Her "Hi-pad" to watch Yo Gabba Gabba at any given time of the day. I try to limit it to an hour a day for YGG, but she would go all day if I let her!  Also, she has formed an attachment to her blanket, which she has had since she was in the hospital. She even wants it in the bath.

Great loves:  Annie's Organic fruit snacks, bubbles, being outside, helping mommy "mixing" (cooking), turning on the sink and throwing in everything she can find until I catch her.

Challenges: She has a low frustration limit and will quickly chuck a paint marker or shoe across the room if she's having trouble with it. Also, allergies are making her a little crank-yanker on the daily. Doctor has us giving nasal spray AND Zyrtec!  :(

Little girl is becoming quite a little lady. I am amazed at the good (manners!)/not so good (whining!) things she picks up every day. Wonder what next month will hold for her?

5 on Friday


1. It is the first day of summer and I have to acknowledge our Columbus weather. It has been absolutely amazing this month, providing us with lots of opportunities for new adventures outside. I know the heat wave will be coming, but I can't remember a better stretch of sunny, cool weather here!

PS, have you noticed that 90% of the cute maxi dresses at Target are maternity? Come on!

2.  I have walked past this hi-low dress at Target for a few weeks and finally threw it in the cart this week. By now, we all know the value of a cute summer dress. One piece to put on and look like I tried? Yes please.

3.  Speaking of Target, it yielded one of my best toddler purchases yet. After a few days of chasing Larkyn around the house for anything involved with leaving the house (getting dressed, getting hair done, putting on shoes, etc.), the last thing I wanted to do was put on sunscreen. I found a combo of Up&Up spray and stick that make the chore much easier than lotion. Apparently, no pictures exist on the internet, but it is in the baby department and is 8.99.

Mikey, complaining that his swimsuit was too conservative, and Ben pretending to be Superman
4. Bachelorette Mondays have gotten better each week. The first week, I wondered what barrel they scraped to come up with such a dud cast (nice, I know). But as we've gotten into the dates, we've weeded out the crazies and the ones with current girlfriends. And we are left with a few who aren't complete pansies/douchebags. If I see one more guy cry though, I might throw the remote through the TV. Looks like next week will involve a big secret being revealed (James only wanted to be the next Bachelor...whhhhaaat?!) and a physical altercation. Real deep stuff, I know.

5. I've been on the hunt for a planner for the upcoming school year. For most people, they would pick one up, take it to the register, and purchase it. For me, it involves online research, seeing them in person, and agonizing over which one to buy. I'll spare you a full-on review of each, but these are the contenders. None will live up to my 1992 Lisa Frank dolphin planner, which started the downward spiral.
  • Erin Condren Life Planner (bought this last year...not sure I need ALL of that or to spend that, but I am stuck on the vertical layout)
  • Sarah Pinto Academic Planner (priced a bit better and without all the unnecessary items, but not vertical. I like the notes spot for each day.)
  • Lilly Pulitzer (cute designs, spiral bound, better price than E.C. But not sure the layout is for me.)
  • May Design (I need spiral bound so it can sit out on my desk. But how cute are these?! I'd just love a bunch with my new monogram to use for a gratitude journal, staff meetings, etc)


When you think you are dying: A PSA

Spoiler alert: I'm not dying. But I thought I was. I still kinda think I am, but I'm not.

No one can talk me out of it; I have to believe it myself and I know it will take a while. So I'm in a bit of a self-inflicted funk.

The point of this post is not to have you worry about me (unnecessary), but to get you to call up a dermatologist today and make an appointment.  Long story short, I have a history of bad things happening when it comes to the dermatology area. And I know that a lot of people do. People get things taken off every day and they come back "benign"...maybe "abnormal"...maybe "malignant". This is twice now that I have fallen into the second category. Twice I get to go in a second time for the whole stitched up excision experience.

And it makes me angry. REALLY angry! I was the one who didn't tan who always used sunscreen, who preferred the shade. But I was stupid to think that my legs, though they didn't seem to burn or tan, were safe. Or that my back, because I couldn't reach it myself, was OK. I never used sunscreen there. Do you? You should.

Anyway, I noticed a brand spankin' new mole in February, right above my knee. "Great", I thought. I knew it wasn't normal. But I also thought I had an appointment coming up in May. As it got closer, I checked the appointment card, and realized it wasn't until June 25th. I tried to not worry about it, and did a pretty good job shutting it out of my mind until school ended.

That's when I started thinking I was dying. For some reason, I googled. A lot. And my mind got carried away with my own diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma and who would write my final blog post. I'm 100% serious. Ask Kate. She had to pull me off a ledge when I needed a reality check. I texted my mom with a pitiful text in the middle of the night. Thanks for catching me, you two.

I called the dermatologist the minute they opened the next morning, basically begging to come in and have them take it off ASAP. They worked me in last Wednesday and removed it.

For the past week, you probably wouldn't have noticed it, but I definitely took a good look at what is around me. When your twisted mind talks itself into thinking you have cancer, no matter what anyone tells you, this is what you do.  You watch your 2 year old play in the backyard and hope that you will get to watch her with her little children one day. You take trips and hope they are not your last. You worry about Fathers Day and will both of you be there next year to celebrate it??  You silently feel like an idiot if you say anything about feeling this way, but know that it could be a real possibility because GOOGLE SAYS SO. And life says so. It doesn't care who gets cancer.

There are people much younger than me who have waited too long and a mole turned into a death sentence. There are people who are dead within 4 months, which is how long I waited to get mind checked. Don't wait.

They called today to say it was "not cancerous" but also "abnormal". Ugh. A part of me was so happy, but my glass is never half full when it comes to health. I want to be healthy. I want nothing to be freaking abnormal and I don't want to go to a surgery center to go back in for more cells and then get stitched up.  This is me just pouting. I should be happy that she said I don't have cancer...I am. But I hate that this is my thing. That the days of feeling carefree in the sun are over. And you bet your Banana Boat that my little blue-eyed blondie will be even more protected than ever.

So, make an appointment my friends. A full body check is painless and essential to knowing what's going on. If you are a worrier like me, it might just save your sanity as well.
Point taken: new perspective gained

Celebrating in Hocking Hills

If you aren't from around here, you probably haven't heard of Hocking Hills. Parts of Southern Ohio are in the foothills of Appalachia, and the closest of these is Hocking Hills State Park. Beautifully carved by glaciers and shaded by lush forests, this land is a great getaway for weary Columbus residents looking for some RandR.

It should be noted that RandR do not occur with toddlers. But it was still an amazing weekend to celebrate Matt's birthday and Father's Day, both on Sunday.

We stayed at Country Vista Cabins, owned by a lovely couple (The Montgomerys) who greeted us at the office (offsite) with a smile and lots of helpful information about the area. They could not have been friendlier and their attention to detail was in every aspect of our cabin, the Wild Dove. It was immaculate and included everything but the food!


The cabin was situated on top of a grassy hill (again, mowed to perfection) and was hidden by pine trees. This was actually the right amount of woods for us. I didn't know how much we needed that open green space until Larkyn got out there with the ball (provided by CVC) and never wanted to leave.

Our backyard felt like we had the world to ourselves, looking out over the other side of the hill. We got to check off another Summer List item, making S'mores!  Larkyn ate all 3 items separately before we were able to put them together. We put her to bed and ate the rest....heaven, I tell ya.

The bottom of the hill had a swingset (that sealed the deal when I was searching for the perfect location) and a stocked fishing pond.

All day Saturday, we headed out to the parks. We were a little further away from them than I realized, but the drive was pretty and it was a fine trade-off in my opinion (the closer you get, the less privacy you get). This is where things got interesting.

2 hours before we left Columbus, I got a little nervous about having Larkyn walk these trails with us. There are "DANGER: Cliff Area" signs everywhere. But we couldn't take a stroller....so enter the backpack carrier. That I bought an hour before we left. And that she hated. Oh well. They sure looked cute with it, didn't they?

Old Man's Cave was so cool because around every corner, we saw something new. Maybe a rock bridge, a recessed cave, a tunnel, or a waterfall. Because Larkyn was grumpy about being in the carrier, we kind of zoomed through it. But, we decided to let her out and held her hand during the last half and she LOVED it!  It was one of those moments when you feel you know your child and if you felt unsafe, you wouldn't let them do it. She was finally happy!


I loved watching daddy/daughter time, especially in nature. Ash Cave was really where we all enjoyed ourselves because it was an easier walk without too many dangerous places and the largest recessed cave East of the Mississippi. Pictures can't capture how huge it was. A couple was getting married in it, actually. We got married in Hocking Hills, but missed the whole part where we could have done it in a cave! Oh well. Larkyn was fascinated with the waterfall and then throwing rocks into the pool.

We had a fantastic lunch at Millstone BBQ, suggested by the Montgomerys. Good call. The staff was friendly, patio was perfect, and all 3 of us ate our weight in BBQ.

But the biggest hit on this vacation? The hot tub! That was Matt's dream come true. Unfortunately, it wasn't very restful because *someone* wanted to go "swimmin" every time he got in. Her version of "swimmin" is standing precariously on the steps and pouring water in and out of a plastic cup. But not getting in. A waterbaby she is not.

It's safe to say we will be back soon. There are several other caves to visit, local stores, and spas (please?) to try. Happy birthday and Father's Day, Matt!  Love you.

The details:
We stayed at Country Vista cabins, which has been fabulous two times (we stayed in the Wild Dove). It is perfect for a couple, fine with one child (they provide a pack and play so you don't have to pack that--just ask!), but we probably cannot make it work with two adults and two little ones (older kids might be fine). Country Vista is not located very close to the parks, but we did not mind the drive in order to maintain our seclusion. The cabins have every amenity you need and thoughtful touches everywhere. The family who owns the group of three cabins is delightful and easy to work with.  There is no bedroom per se, but a sleeping loft. For some reason, we couldn't discern that from the photos, so we were a little surprised. The cabin is definitely warm in the winter with a heater and an amazing fireplace, and it is air conditioned in the summer. PS- your cell phone will probably not work and there is no phone in the cabin.

The parks with kids:
We tried three parks, as noted above. One was perfect for kids, one a little concerning, and one was a huge mistake. Ash Cave is by far the best bet for little walkers. It is safe and interesting for them explore. And the overhang cave is pretty cool! This can be your starting point so you feel comfortable. After Ash Cave, you can try Old Man's Cave, which is the most popular park and the most crowded. If you have a child below 2, you definitely need a carrier of some sort or you will lose your mind chasing them around. There are lots of steps, cliffs, and hills. It is a long trail that you can't easily turn around and go back to get a carrier. Cedar Falls was a total disaster. 5 billion tall steps that are impossible for toddlers and for the person carrying the extra weight of the child, a killer. I actually wanted a rescue helicopter to come get us at the bottom so we wouldn't have to climb back up.

I suggest:
Going shopping on your way out of town and bringing lots of food with you. There is a good size refrigerator, microwave, and oven. And the fire pit is perfect for s'mores!  We don't want to spend all our time driving, so we only go out to eat once while we are there.

Where to eat?  We have been to Millstone BBQ a few times and love it! They are friendly and definitely good with kids. Their menu is extensive and a good treat for lunch after the parks.

Shopping:
I am a sucker for Christmas decorations and boutiques, so I loooooove the Christmas Treasures Shop.  There is a Walmart and a Kroger in Logan. Kroger is a little more convenient and sells liquor (Walmart does not). Just in case anyone wants to make some bonfire cocktails;)

5 on Friday

My five favorite things of the week...


We have already checked off Alyson's house, painting, and added a breakfast with Kate!

School is out and the fun begins!!  I am so, so happy to have time to do things like deep-clean the kitchen (for real) and go see friends' freaking amazing new houses out in the country. Larkyn's list includes things to keep us busy seeing friends and doing new things to keep both of us happy.
Summer sweaters and a tunic (supposed to be a dress but a little short for me!)

The gift of new clothes always makes me happy!  My morning class gave me a gift card to Boho 72 and Matt always gets me a few surprises from the HUGE Express sale going on now. Thanks, babe!


Girls Night with my team. Over the last 8 years working together, we have done our fair share of lunch. But Heidi's "early retirement" called for an amazing dinner at Figlio. Drinks, salads, bread, entree, AND dessert. Yeah. I have been so lucky to be able to work with one of my greatest friends every day, and I will miss her so much!


THESE GUYS...I was interested when I saw these at Target (what?  I went off the list at Target??) but didn't have high hopes for something that seemed gimmicky. Sold! I got the coconut flavor, which comes with dark chocolate and almonds to "flip" in,  and the peach flavor come with dark chocolate and whole pistachios. They are an incredible dessert, especially if you crave a crunch in your yogurt like I do.
Olympic Stormy Weather

Time for a new color scheme!  No more red wall...we have a dreamy gray palette all over our main area now. I lucked out on picking the perfect gray the first time around to compliment the Revere Pewter I have everywhere else. And I made some chevron curtains to cover the back door! I might have to tweak them because horizontal patterns cause a BIT of an issue if you aren't careful!! ARGH.

We are leaving today for a little vacation in Hocking Hills for Matt's birthday/Father's Day. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back with lots of pictures!

Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle



Looking for a dessert that everyone will love at the next cookout? Here it is. Trifles are my go-to. They are out of the norm, don't require an oven, and always look great. This one is based off the recipe I pinned here, but I did an overhaul to make it work for my time constraints and preferences.

Summer Strawberry Cheesecake Trifle
based on recipe from Taste of Home

1 C cold milk (I used skim)
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 package instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz.)
1 tsp orange zest (optional)
1 container Cool whip (I used store brand)
1 container strawberries, sliced into rounds and into triangles (to make the sides fancy!)
1.5  pound cakes, cubed into 1 inch cubes

1. Cube the pound cakes and slice strawberries, set aside.

2. Using a mixer, mix together the sour cream, dry pudding, milk, and orange zest on medium speed.

3. Fold in the Cool Whip, scraping the bowl to make sure it is blended. Don't overmix!

4. In your trifle bowl, add half of the pound cake. Now add strawberries, using round ones in the middle of the pound cake and arranging triangle strawberries along the sides of the glass.

5.  Pour half of the filling into the area inside the berries (meaning, try to keep it away from the glass).

6. Add the rest of the pound cake over the pudding mix and the berries. Cover with the remaining pudding mix.  Arrange any "pretty" leftover strawberries on the top.  Chill for a few hours, then enjoy!
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