Carseat Shopping with Preschoolers- Britax Endeavours

As you know, I’ve been confined, a prisoner, if you will, on bed rest for the last month. For someone who LOVES baby things and happens to be pregnant…and in need of baby things…this was torture. So, one of my first stops on my first day of freedom was Buy Buy Baby to check out all that has changed since Bug was cooking in my belly. And, woah! It’s a LOT! One of my favorite things we checked out was the new Britax Endeavours infant carseat. This seat goes from 4-35lbs, which for a mama with a high risk of birthing a premie, this is great news!

 

Obviously, Bug exceeds the max weight limit! But he approves the comfort level!

With the steel anti-rebound bar, there is 30% less rebound in a front or rear crash.

Even Chuck could maneuver its user-friendly design.

“Baby” the cabbage patch doll appreciates the safety measures present both with or without a base. With latch or auto seatbelts, Baby is riding with exceedingly high safety standards.

Chuck really enjoyed learning about how she can help take care of her new baby sibling in this #1 safety-rated seat. Bug, on the other hand, enjoyed torturing his sister. What can I say, they were stoked to get out of the house, too! I dare you to watch to the end without laughing!

Carseat Shopping With Preschoolers- Video

 

*I was compensated to check out this rad seat. All children and their wackado behaviors are my own.

30 Days

Thirty days of confinement, rest, restrictions and caution. Thirty days of figuring out a new normal and a new sense of purpose. Thirty days to dwell in my thoughts and fears and hopes for this baby and our family.

I haven’t done them well. I don’t know how one does. Two young children who need every piece of me that I can’t physically give and one deep-rooted character of pride sitting in my heart; these have been my companions. I didn’t realize how dependent I am on being INdependent until this last month. Ladies from bible study asked 10 times before they finally TOLD me they were coming to clean my kitchen. A meal train that ended up being a literal lifeline for my family was set up without me signing off…and I am so, so glad. Several friends grocery shopped, played mom-taxi and entertained my minions…all just by DOING. Because, you see, if there is one thing us moms are great at, it’s LOOKING as if we have it all under control….even if that’s not logistically possible. So, I dedicate the last thirty days to those who just DO. Thank you.

Now, the next thirty days? Who knows?! I was tentatively released from strict bed rest! It turns out the complete placenta previa that was aggravated by a pretty large subchorionic hematoma just…moved. I mean, last week it was bad. Really, really “you’re gonna have a c-section if you don’t go into preterm labor before,” bad. And this week, God said, “move!” and it did! Even my high risk doctor was surprised at the level of progress. The hematoma is still there and relatively large, but without the concern of the previa, it’s not as big of an issue right now. I am still on “light duty,” but I am able to leave the house. I can take Chuck to our Classical Conversations community day without reprimand and I can resume our normal dance/Awana/mops routine. Most exciting to me….TARGET! I know, so basic, right? But really, Chip and Joanna have been waiting for me. I must go!

I am 18.5 weeks at this point and while spending so much time with my own thoughts, I began to count down to different milestones. The most pivotal of these to me is 24 weeks. Twenty four weeks…the point of viability. The placemarker in gestation where I will never hear the words “there’s nothing we can (will) do. Just go home and manage your expectations.” Those words still burn in my ears after our traumatic night in the ER in Vegas. So, 24 weeks comes, get this, on Dec. 24! My little minnow will be statistically “viable,” a saveable miracle on Christmas Eve. How’s that for divine?!

This Sunday, Bug turns three and I can’t help but remember these milestones with him. His pregnancy was easy, for the most part, until the end. When I was 18 weeks with him, we were camping out in the mountains near Kern river, roasting marshmallows, blissfully unaware of just how much could go wrong. And here we are with this one, thanking God for each day closer to viability. It’s that way with life in general, right? We go along whistling until someone bumps us…and then someone bigger, then maybe a car or truck and then the whole dad-gum train runs us flat over and we are like, “good grief! I get it now! Life isn’t promised. Each day is a complete and utter gift. I get it.”

So, on Sunday, we will celebrate another gift of a day with our baby (middle) boy and we will once again get on our knees to thank our Heavenly Father for all the days we’ve had, and hope to have, to bring glory to Him, raising our tribe, sewing seeds of grace and mercy and working so very hard on clipping those ties to pride. Grateful for days and the ways, He shows us gently (or sometimes not SO gently) the reflection of the parts of ourselves we need to give to Him. I do get it now.

 

Secondary Infertility and losses

Last summer, I decided to take a break from facebook. We had just experienced the heartbreak of our second miscarriage. The ridiculousness of political rants and petty complaints became a very unwelcomed distraction from processing our pain. Leaving was good for me. I learned to cling tighter to my Savior, instead of drowning my mind in constantly refreshing my feed. Brent and I worked through our raw hurt together, again, this second time, and came out on the other side stronger than ever.

Then, it happened again. And again. And again. And again. During this year hiatus, we have grasped to a tiny life, five different times, only to be shattered as it slipped away. That’s six in total. Six babies in heaven. I’m still jaw-dropped at those words. Our most recent beloved went to be with Jesus this month, almost a year to the day of his sibling.

I’ve been reminded over and over again that God put us on this earth to live in community, to glorify Him. His love is only reflected by ours. So, this village, the people who’ve brought coffee or embraced snot-drenched sobs on their shoulders…these are the Hands and Feet. These are the ones who, without always the right words, show with action, the cross. Thank you.

There’ve been other tragedies and joys and endless hours of news, both personal and public, through the last year. It’s documented in my heart, instead of my page. Our actions, and inactions, haven’t always been understood or appreciated by those around us, and that’s ok. Healing and grieving and growing are processes, undertaken in intimacy with Jesus. Everyone does it differently. But, all you who’ve suffered, too, know, I know. And I love, too.

My babies all have names. They’ve all been loved for every second of their existence. Every bit of their being was felt and cherished. They will be remembered at due dates and loss dates…even if I have to reference my “list,” because there are so many. What mother doesn’t remember her baby’s birthday? I’m trying.

So, I suppose the point of this is…well, I’m not really sure. Maybe to try to express courage? Or insight for those who’ve wondered? Or just to document some late night, wine-induced rambling from an aching mama-heart.

Chuck and Bug are our world. They perfectly stretch our parent wings and if they complete our family, we are joy- filled. But, we stand in utter confusion at God’s plans for our family. It’s a sense of paralysis. So, I humbly ask, for those who’ve walked through the fire of secondary infertility or recurrent losses, please reach out. I need some anecdotal hope, one way or the other.

And to my husband, thank you for being mine. Thank you for holding my hand so tightly when I’m crashing to the ground. Thank you for carrying the weight this year. You have. All of it. This life hurts, but it’s also full of sweet, sweet joys and I’m so glad you’re the one by my side for them.

 

Snuggle All My Bugs Together

imageChuck is adjusting pretty well. I would say that being 2.5, a precocious little genius and accustomed to being the constant center of attention could all prove to be pretty big hurdles to scale when it comes to adding a baby brother to the mix. But, she loves him, she “just LOVES him SOOO much!” Her words. And actions, as she tries to smother him with All.The.Love!

When Hfoe brought C to the hospital to meet her new comrade, he also brought the Calico Critters and school that I had gotten ahead of time to be the gift her baby gave her. It was a glorious plan in my mind. She would be so enamored with the baby and then he/she would give her a gift, too?! Wow, this sibling thing is pretty awesome! I also thought the little critters would be a perfect “sometimes” toy for her to play with only when I was nursing the baby, thus keeping her both occupied with the “special” toy and blissfully unaware that I was trapped on the couch, plugged in, unable to reprimand her for whatever she happened to be getting into at the moment. The best laid plans…

As they walked into our hospital room, I had baby Bug in his bassinet so the first thing C saw wasn’t HER mama holding a different kid. I squealed with delight to see her and invited her to join me on the bed. We hugged and cuddled and then she said, “Mama, what’s that?” “That’s your brother, G. Would you like to hold him?” “Sure, Mama.” So, hubs took baby boy out of his cozy bed and we cocooned Chuck in pillows as we laid him precariously in her lap. She poked him and kissed him and examined his tiny face…and then she was done. She wanted to explore the interesting hospital room. But, first, the gift! “OOOOH, cooool!” She loved it! That’s it. I was a genius and my plan was going to work perfectly.

Then, Buddy started to cry. I saddled him up to my boob to nurse (at which he was already a pro) and I didn’t think anything of it. She had her magical toys, after all. Oh the sob that broke from her sweet little gut just about broke my heart. I have actually never heard my girl make that sound before. “Nooo, don’t give him milkies! That’s my milkies, mama! Why, mama?!” It makes me tear up writing this two months later. I had no idea that it would hurt her so much to see me share her special mama time with another baby, without ever asking her if it was ok.

C only gets nursed to sleep now, so I guess I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal to her. I was very wrong and it has taken a long time to make things right. After lots of explaining that he can’t eat the food she can and involving her help to get burp rags while I breastfeed, she now shares milkies with her brother without a fight. In fact, on occasions when Hfoe has to work late and baby Bug is awake when I put his sister to bed, she will ask to “do milkies all together…so I can snuggle all my bugs.” I love her terminology to describe our tandem nursing sessions. It is such a sweet, sweet time where she caresses his head and he holds her finger and I stare at them both in the dark. I know that C will likely be weaning completely soon, so I am cherishing what little time of this we have left.These two precious little beings, my snuggle bugs, all together, doing their “milkies”…I never want to forget it.

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

I like to do crafts. I really like to do crafts with my kid. I especially like new and educational or sensory type of activities we can do together and that hold her attention for longer than two minutes. Chuckles LOVES to paint so when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I had to try it with her!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Action shot.

Marshmallows? Check! Soy based paint (just in case she mistook it for frosting on the ‘mallow)? Check! A stack of construction paper thick enough to create a masterpiece for each family member? Double check! We were ready to create!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

She was too excited and dug right in before I got the “clean” picture.

I’m not really sure where I went wrong, but let’s just say that marshmallow painting turned quickly into an ooey, gooey mess! I’m sure the kid “shaping” the marshmallows into triangles and hearts had nothing to do with it. Neither did the licking of them behind my back. Right?

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Making this sticky of a mess takes great concentration.

Well, despite the mess and the fact that it didn’t quite turn out Pinterest perfect, I think she had fun. More importantly, I made dinner in peace!

Marshmallow Painting: A Pinterest Fail

Obviously, she loved it! (And yes, there is a plastic bag for protection on my chair. I’m not dumb.)

Firsts on Firsts on Firsts

The single most covetable part about being a mother, in my opinion, is the privilege granted to me to be the eyes that witness and the ears that hear all the firsts that come from this tiny little human. It seems like every week is equivocal to a moon landing in one form or another. Chuckles had a big couple of weeks this month! Between her leaps in vocabulary and great first time experiences, I am chalk-full of accounts for September.

"Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!"

“Hey Bear! Look at me, Bear!”

I guess we really started the month at the end of LAST month with a trip to visit the cousins in Oregon. Chuck loved waking up every morning to the giggles of her built-in family playmates. There is just something so special about watching your kid bond with their life-long buddies. Knowing that these tiny people will grow and go their separate ways over the years, but will always be able to come back together to reminisce about breakfast around the table with “not-so-hots” and cousin craft nights that got a little TOO glitter-heavy makes my heart so happy. While we were in Oregon, we decided to take a little detour to see some friends who had recently moved from our area up that way. What a refreshing time of fellowship with some sweet friends whom we have missed! Somewhere along the way, we decided to make the stop at Wildlife Safari. Have you heard of this place or a place like it? It’s a drive through zoo where the animals roam (mostly) free. I remember going to a place like that in Arkansas called Arbuckle Wilderness when I was little and it made quite the impact on my aspiring Zoologist self. However, I don’t remember it being THAT cool! Wildlife Safari turned me into a giggly kid and turned my giggly kid into quite the chatterbox! “Hi Bear! Hey, look at me bear!!” Her mantra of the drive has now become a Crunchy house catchphrase because it made us laugh endlessly while in the park. Her favorite animal in the park was the “scary chicken” that kept coming up to the window for food…of course this was an emu, but “scary chicken” actually seems more fitting. Needless to say, Chuck’s first time at the drive-thru zoo was a roaring success!

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This is her reaction for the Frozen float in Mickey’s Soundsational Parade at Disneyland….You’d think she’d appreciate my rendition.

Another first for this growing kid of ours recently has been her usage of certain phrases, correctly, that send us into stitches. C has always had a great vocabulary and was able to express herself from an early age. But this level of comprehension (and wit) is new. For instance, she, of course, loves “Frozen.” Like it has for every other two-year old girl on the planet, Disney’s latest princess flick has found it’s way into our sweet girl’s heart as an instant favorite. She would listen to the soundtrack on repeat if allowed. So, it stands to reason that her papa and I know ALL the words to one notable song in particular. C has decided, though, that our sing-along sessions just don’t do the film justice and as we head into the hook with great gusto, our dear girl will shout, “Hold it!” with her hands held up and a furrow on her brow. Kills us every time. In addition to her lofty musical critiques, she has crafted quite the imaginary scenarios of which we are expected to partake….and know all the rules. One example of this is the tea party she likes to host on a daily basis. The cups must face a certain direction and we must only eat cookies (not biscuits) off the plates. If I “eat” something I’m not supposed to, I will receive a stern, “No mama, like this.” from my bossy strong girl. My favorite phrase at the moment, though, is “I no hafta (fill in the blank), mama.” The most common blank-filler is “I no hafta nap now,” but you can also fill in with “eat that” or “clean that” or “do that.” While I know at first read this seems like she is talking back and perhaps in need of some nose on the wall time,  it’s actually funny because she is such a little mini-me that her inflection and tone make her sound EXACTLY like my “persuasive” voice. When I am trying to convince Hfoe that I don’t really need to clean the bathrooms today or that I don’t really “hafta” cook dinner tonight….my tiniest ears are listening and mimicking ME! It’s both a funny and humbling reminder!

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First Fish!!

We had a proud moment first while we were all in Colorado this month for hunting season. Since Hfoe harvested his elk on his second day out in the woods (thank you, Jesus for a full freezer for the next year!), Chuckles and I got to enjoy a little more family time with him than we were expecting. On one of those days, we decided to head down to the community pond at my grandma’s cabin and try C’s luck at fishing. After a couple of slapstick moments of chasing after grasshoppers for bait, we were ready to cast the line. Papa threw out the first cast and asked me to hold tight to the pole, while Chuck, in all her mini-fisher glory, manned the reel. It was truly a group effort…and it paid off! C was so excited as that bobber disappeared under the water and I helped her snag her first little trout. She reeled it in with papa and squealed uncontrollably as it flopped and flipped at her touch! This was one of those moments that, despite her age, I really hope she remembers, at least partly, because it was kind of magical….and a little slimy!

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Kicked in the head by “Brother-Sister”

A couple of my favorite firsts from this month involve C’s “brother-sister.” She got to feel baby kick for the first time as we were laying down to nap one afternoon and then she told the baby “I love you, baby” completely unsolicited for the first time soon after. Talk about melting a mama heart! I sure hope this sweetness continues once the runt is born!

As we head into the last 8 weeks of this pregnancy, I am reminded to take every opportunity to step back and enjoy each of Chuck’s “firsts” because soon we will have another first-timer on our hands. I am most excited to see my TWO babes meet each other for the first time. Now, THAT is sure to be a monumental first for our whole family!

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Being a good big sister, feeding bear.

 

5 Reasons I’m the Worst Mom Ever

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I try so hard to not complain about this pregnancy. It’s a blessing and miracle in so many ways, not the least of which is that this baby is sticking! I am 28 weeks along and I feel so much more secure knowing that if all H-E-double hockey sticks broke out and this kid decided to make an early appearance, his/her chances are looking pretty good. Beautiful miracle and all considered, there are a couple of not so awesome things about being pregnant for the second (third) time while wrangling a toddler with the attention span of an ape. This leads me to what I have learned are the top ways to be a truly awful mother….at least in my own mind…and why I’m convincing myself it’s ok.

1. Why I am the worst mom ever: Today is day 15 of the last 30 that will include peanut butter in some form at all three main meals for Chuckles. Creativity around here is at an all time low and unfortunately, her dietary experience suffers. If I have to think up a Pinterest-worthy dinner for this two-year old who will likely turn her nose up before a single bite is chewed ONE MORE TIME, I am going to lose it. So, I won’t.

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Why it’s ok: I mean, peanut butter is totally a protein, right? Nevermind the sugar content…I buy organic, natural, have-to-stir-or-you’re-eating-oil peanut butter, so it can’t be that bad…right? Right?

2. Why I am the worst mom ever: I let Chuck have LOTS of independent play. At least that’s what I am telling myself as I lay on the couch concentrating on breathing through the baby laying on my lungs and trying not to fall asleep so C isn’t TOTALLY unsupervised. Let’s just say we have taken the “Montessori” approach to learning around here. In the last three days, she has poured an entire bottle of water on the carpet in an attempt to “play tea party” with Mickey Mouse, drawn a masterpiece on the laminate wood floor with a dry erase marker and drank half her body weight in soapy water after she begged (and I obliged) to stay in the bath just a LITTLE too long…in the middle of the day.

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Why it’s ok: Hey, she’s learning! Water on the floor= you gotta clean up after yourself. Art on the floor= cause and effect (translate: Mama loses her mind a little before she realizes dry erase marker WILL erase from laminate! Yay!) Drinking bath water= learning about anatomy…and digestion…and soap may lead to less than favorable bathroom experiences. So really, I rock as a pre-school teacher.

3. Why I am the worst mom ever: C has learned and implemented some new phrases. She now speaks like a 15 year-old, angst ridden teenager and I have realized it can only be coming from one place. I mean, how many toddlers look their mother in the face and say with all seriousness, “I just can’t do this right now, Mom.” This is in regards to finishing her cereal, I might add. Perhaps telling her “I just can’t do this right now, C,” in reference to sitting in the bathroom with her while she poops and I try not to gag on heightened pregnancy senses was NOT the wisest, but I had no clue she would soak THAT in. Sure, I throw out plenty of “please” and “thank you’s” but THIS is what she latches to? Sheesh.

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Why it’s ok: She’s advanced. Truly, she has to have a pretty quick little brain to pick up on such things, right? I will just keep believing she is a genius with a stellar vocabulary. That belief makes me feel better when she holds up her hand and says, “Hold it, Mom,” as I sing my rendition of “You are My Sunshine.”

4. Why I am the worst mom ever: She seriously knows all the words to at least three Bubble Guppies episodes and 4 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episodes. Notice I said all the words to the EPISODES…not songs, not rhymes…entire episodes. Apparently, this kid has been allowed to watch so much TV that she can recite the script for her two favorite animated shows…WITH inflection! Who does that? Who lets their toddler watch so much tv that she could play understudy to the characters? Me. Giant, pregnant me. That’s who.

Why it’s ok: One part of classical education, which is the philosophy behind most homeschooling curriculum, is learning through memorization. I like to pretend that someday, when it’s time (in two years or so, eek!) I will be equipped and prepared to homeschool Chuck and her sibling. Well, we are well ahead of the curve when it comes to memorization because let me tell you, C can recite her ABC’s as well as the whole lunchtime scene from Bubble Guppies episode 1.4. Again, I rock as a preschool teacher!

5. Why I am the worst mom ever: I use other people’s children to wear mine out…so I don’t have to. Back in the olden days…read: pre-pregnancy…the kid and I took daily walks or park dates and I would chase her and squeal and slide right alongside her sweet, smiley little self. I pushed her on the swing endlessly and swam with her in the community pool. Now that I am a whale, such physical exertion feels nearly impossible. Or, I’m just lazy. Either way, my friends’ kids have slipped into this role beautifully! She wants to be pushed on the swing? Set up a park date with my friend and her 7 year old! She wants to be chased? Invite her friend from next door to play tag. She wants to swim? Make friends with the preteens at the community pool who, “just LOVE” babies and watch them all screech with delight as Chuck jumps in and swims to them. These are my solutions to my lacking and her rising energy levels.

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Why it’s ok: She’s socializing! She has a more complete calendar than I do and her social skills have benefitted from it. Isn’t it what we strive for as parents? To help our kiddos grow into caring, empathetic, well-adjusted mini- humans? The only way for that to happen is for them to have regular interaction with other littles. So, in essence, my laziness is just giving her a leg up on overcoming potential social awkwardness.

At the risk of judgment from my pre-parent self, I throw all this out there to let other pregnant moms know you aren’t alone. I’m tired, too. I’m not the same mom to Chuck now as I was 8 months ago and although this makes me sad and hard on myself at times, I know this is a season. The next season of our mother/daughter journey will include another little being and I am sure the dynamic will change once more. What doesn’t change, EVER, is my love and adoration for the sweet cheeks that grin up at me to tell me she feels the same. Hopefully, as I try to go with the flow, C will learn to be a flexible, forgiving human as well. If nothing else, she won’t ever be able to tell a therapist that I ruined her childhood by never letting her express herself…even if that was in dry erase marker!

Merry Monday Roundup!

So many of my favorite bloggers do a weekly roundup of things that are making them smile at that moment. I believe imitation is the HIGHEST form of flattery, sooo…here’s my Merry Monday roundup.

1. I put Hershey’s in my coffee…

       Inspired by my husband’s reminiscing around the campfire when we were camping last week about his step dad who made hot cocoa with milk and a chocolate bar, the realization we were out of creamer this morning wasn’t so daunting when I saw this left over Hershey bar in the fridge! Yum!
2. Paper clips…

        Seriously. Ok, a few of you may remember a plea from after the Fourth of July for suggestions on how to get a coin out of a car CD player. Apparently, one little Miss Chuckles decided the car stereo was more “jukebox” than all around entertainment center and shoved what we thought was a quarter in the compact disc slot while we were joyfully roasting marshmallows right next to the car, completely unaware of her shenanigans. Well, a month later we were finally able to get the car in to the shop only to be told the damage would equal about $1100! I find it extremely ironic that this is almost the exact amount of C’s college fund at the moment! Obviously, I’m too cheap for all that mess. I quickly said, “thanks, but no thanks,” and resolved with Hfoe to figure this out for ourselves! And, we did! A few strips of tape, steady hands, a plastic fork and knife and TWO PAPER CLIPS in and we have made not .25, but .30! She had shoved a nickel AND a quarter in the slot and we saved $1100. I’m digging it!
3. The Rain, Rain app…

      Chuck sleeps with a sound machine and although she CAN sleep without it, she goes to sleep much faster WITH it! So, when we had a sleepover with friends a few days ago and forgot the happy wave sounds she’s become accustomed to, I, of course turned to the Apple App Store. This free app not only has five different types of wave sounds, but also boasts rain, transportation, appliances and several other types of white noise for your choosing. I love that the sounds will stay on indefinitely unlike some of the other white noise apps out there and that you can close the app to multitask in other programs while the sound still plays. And did I mention, it’s FREE?!
   

     I’ve gotten big, y’all! This baby bug is determined to be huge and healthy and although that makes me so over-the-moon happy, the ensuing stretch marks and itchy skin are a little less appealing! So, this little sample that has been sitting under my sink for the last few weeks since the “Blogger’s Night In” event, broke out yesterday! And it is so perfect! It glides on my baby bump so smoothly and mess free and it smells just delicious! I have to get more because as you can see, I drained every last smidge from the sample packet!
5. Savannah Guthrie…

     I used to watch the Today Show every morning. This was, of course, before a particular toddler took over morning TV with her love of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Bubble Guppies…my kid watches TV. Oops! It allows me to drink my morning coffee in peace and really, that’s better for everyone. Anyway, I have missed my morning crew! How exciting it was for me to see that one of my favorites of the gang was pregnant! I have been following Savannah Guthrie’s pregnancy journey in snippets since I don’t get to watch the show every morning, but the pieces I have read and pictures I have seen of her growing bump make me happy. She is a normal, weight gaining, maternity clothes wearing, mama-to-be! And she talks about it! All of it. This is so refreshing in the Hollywood baby bubble of “I only gained 10lbs while pregnant and it was all baby.” Yeah right. But this lady, this paragon of pregnant pretty…I appreciate her candidness! 

What’s waking you up happy this Monday morning? I’d love to hear!


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Jamberry, BAMberry!

Ok, so I have been super curious about this Jamberry nail thing everyone is so crazy about right now. When one of my best friends from back home decided to have an online party, I thought this would be a great time to check it out. They have some really cute prints for your nails! Surely this stuff couldn’t really be that great, though. I mean, I am a mom of a VERY busy toddler. We go to the beach and the pool and the park and my manicures always last about 2.5 minutes unscathed. That is when I get them done, almost every NEVER! Unfortunately, the week of her online party, I missed out on ordering because I was mid-travel and I lost track of time. I did, however, manage to win one of her party games due to my uncanny Disney trivia knowledge. That’s a whole other story.

Anyway, when I missed out on ordering from the party I was bummed. But, the Heather announced that she was going to become a consultant and she approached me to do the “7 Day Challenge,” talking about it to all of you. Challenge accepted! She sent me a sample in the mail and the day I got it felt like that day in 5th grade when I got my first pen pal letter! So exciting! I quickly opened the envelope and ogled the adorable prints she had sent me. I promised myself that, tonight, once the nugget was sleeping soundly, I would treat myself.

The best laid plans….

Around dinner time, the kid started melting down. She stubbed her toe or something else just as common that I can’t completely recall right now, and I had to do something to calm her down before she would settle for bed. Instantly, I thought of the fresh little present sitting on my counter in the bathroom! With the promise of “pinkies” as she calls painted nails, we headed to the bathroom for a quick pick-her-up.

She’s pretty pumped about her “pinkies.”

It worked! These things are so easy and quick to put on that even my two year old could sit still for the process. She was so in awe over her flowered ring fingers that the tears automatically dried up. We did her nails on a Monday night and since I’m a mom and my days blur together…I finally took the challenge “after” picture 9 days later instead of 7! I am amazed. The painted nails looked horrible after only a couple days of chlorine and sun and playing in the dirt. But, these Jamberry accent nails still look like day one! If they do this well on a kidlet, I can’t wait to see how they will look on me!

Freshly painted and ready to rock!
Nine days later and still JAMMING! Paint looks icky, but the accent nails are hanging on!

When I finally make time to do myself, I will report back and maybe I will have a little giveaway in store, too! Keep in touch! Until then, check out Heather’s website!

I received free product to conduct this review. As always, the opinions are my own.

A Date With Chuck At Stonefire

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.

As a blogger, sometimes opportunities come your way that excite you even more than they probably should. Usually for me, those opportunities involve food. Because I love food…free food is even tastier!

When I had Chuckles, our church family rallied around us with support and dinners. For two weeks after we brought our little bundle home, we had dinner magically delivered to our door by our brothers and sisters in Christ who wanted to help a new mom and dad to just relax and enjoy bonding with the new baby. It. Was. GLORIOUS! One of those memory-making dinners was from Stonefire Grill. I had never eaten at this place before, but whether it was post-delivery hormones talking or not, I was hooked on that scrumptious barbecue and garlic bread to write home about!

Lucky for me, I was presented with the chance last week to be a part of a media tasting event at Stonefire Grill introducing their new summer menu options. I, of course, jumped at the chance! I rsvp’d for me plus one, thinking this would be a wonderful date night for Hfoe and myself. After all, it’s not so hard to shell out $10 an hour for a sitter if dinner is comped! But, alas, hubby had to work on the night of the event. So, with a very deep breath and a few meditative  moments of preparation for the unpredictable toddler emotions, I took Chuck as my “plus one.” My good friend Melissa over at MelissaDell.com has a daughter that is Chuckles’s age and they are buddies. She was in the same boat, so we made it a double mama-daughter date.

On the drive over, the girls sang Disney songs and held hands across carseats….this was looking promising for good dinner behavior! And they didn’t disappoint. From the moment we walked into the restaurant patio, both girls were so well behaved. I am sure they were just as impressed as I was at the reception we received from the Stonefire crew. We were greeted by the owner’s son and summer menu co-creator, Justin, and presented with our choices of seasonal brews, wines or in my case, passion fruit tea. Sensing the toddlers’ short attention spans, Justin intuitively asked if he could pull together a couple children’s menu items for the girls to get them started. Sure! And the mac ‘n cheese was the hit of the evening for one blondie with discerning  taste!

Leave me alone, mother. This mac ‘n cheese is divine!

Now, for the mama food. Yum! That is pretty much the summary of my experience. My first bite was from the new Keen Green salad, with it’s kale, quinoa and avocado. It’s not something I would probably generally order at this place I love for barbecue, but I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh, delicious flavors that were perfect for summer! Next came the roasted cauliflower pita and the Capresse sandwich. Which one is my favorite? I can’t choose. I never prepare cauliflower at home after I had an unfortunate experience once with a mushy restaurant side dish, so when I saw the pita, I was hesitant. But, so as to be able to give an accurate review, I tried it anyway. I am so glad I did! Chuckles even liked it! My highlight of the sandwiches I tried, though, was the turkey salad. Oh my goodness…and I mean GOODNESS! I would NEVER have thought to order this light of an option and receive this explosion of flavor! Over all, the dishes presented to us this evening were a smorgasbord of tasty choices fit for warmer weather, but still filling enough for lunch or dinner.

Golden State Kale Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Pita and Keen Green Salad
Capresse Sandwich and Traditional Turkey Sandwich

The cherry on top of our evening was dessert. With a powder sugar-covered brownie and a slice of cheesecake, my plans of taking the girls to get yogurt after dinner for their good behavior quickly went out the window…gladly! Chuck couldn’t even wait for me to snap the picture before she dove right into the brownie!

Someone was a little impatient!
Baby bug approved, too!

To say the food was delicious would be redundant and an understatement, but my overall experience for this fun evening at Stonefire Grill was exceptional. I was happy to see how kid friendly the staff and menu were and how mama friendly the new summer menu additions are. It’s good to know on those nights Hfoe has to work late and I just don’t have one more creative dinner in me, I can take the kidlet down to Stonefire for a thoughtful, healthy meal.

My girl and me…excited about the full bellies!

We visited the location at 6405 FALLBROOK AVENUE
WEST HILLS, CA  91307, but please visit Stonefiregrill.com to find a location near you and run there for dinner tonight!

Thank you so much to the folks at Stonefire Grill who made our evening so enjoyable and yummy!

I was asked to attend a media event where food and beverages were given to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. As always, opinions are strictly my own.