Oct 29, 2014

Make New Friends {October}

Is there anything cuter than babies holding hands together? Nope. Just in case you're wondering, that's pretty much the cutest thing ever. Julia and her cousins hung out for three weeks straight and by the end of our trip, they would get SO excited to see each other that they'd practically bounce out of their car seats and squeal with delight. Once we'd let them loose, they'd run to each other, give hugs, and hold hands. I melted into a big ol' puddle of hormones every time that happened. 

Don't you wish we could do that as adults? Find a new friend and be that ecstatic about them? Well, here's your chance. Check out four of my friends—read their sites, friend them on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, and...you know...make new friends!


Belle Brita

Brita (pronounced bree-tuh) is no stranger to this blog, but you may remember her under a different blog name (Finding My Virginity). Well, this past year she got married (check out six things she learned during the first six months of marriage) and started a new blog to reflect her new life! She had me at her tagline: "A southern belle trying to make her way back to Paris." Aren't we all, Brita, aren't we all... Dreams of France aside, Brita does her best to weave the three most important things in her life into her blog: faith, feminism, and freedom. But don't worry, she breaks up the tough topics with fun, introspective pieces, like how to love an ugly apartment!

Kayleigh, the traveler behind The Way I Wanderlust, spends her days not only dreaming about what places to cross off her bucket list next, but actually crossing them off. She's a traveler in every sense of the word, and one quick look at her Wednesday feature will turn you into a wanderlust as well. Besides marking cities and countries off her list, she also a goal of accomplishing 30 things before she turns 30—a fun challenge that she's trucking through. She also just moved and her blog got a makeover!

I love Callie's blog. She writes from the heart in a lighthearted, and totally convicting way. I may have a soft spot for her since she's a fellow Air Force wife (and talks about one of my favorite topics: moving to dreamy locations), but I especially love that she writes about her family (she has an adorable two-year-old boy) in a realistic and approachable way. Callie's also spreading awareness about the "teal pumpkin"—have you heard of it? Check it out and spread the word!


website // facebook // twitter

It's a little ridiculous how excited I am about this company and all the awesome products they sell. I'm a sucker for handmade goods, and that giddiness is amplified when you can personalize items, too. A marine vet and his wife are the duo behind Five1Designs—she designs and he burns the designs into the wood. They have everything from military-inspired items (I'm digging these love letter boxes), frames, K-cup holders, and the coolest—Scrabble letters! Y'all, the holidays are right around the corner (less than two months out), so if you're looking for an awesome gift, check them out!

In preparation for the new baby, I'm going to take a wee step back from the way I've been running my sponsorships. They're still available, but I changed a few things to accommodate what I think I'll be able to handle. Once the baby's here (still have a few months to go), I want to focus on her and our family, and not be worried about whether or not I forgot to write a post on a specific day. I've truly enjoyed getting to know everyone I've worked with and I hope it continues, just in a slightly different format. Oh, and how about we kick the new ads off with a little discount? I'm not sure when the next one will be, so take advantage of this31% off all ads with the promo code: ROCKTOBER

Oct 27, 2014

Scarf Swap 14 {Partners Revealed}

The moment you've all been waiting for is finally here...I'm announcing your Scarf Swap partners below! You'll also get an email sometime today with the same information, but I wanted to post here first, just in case it takes me longer than I think it will to send out those emails. (And it probably will, just FYI!)

I hope everything's correct below, since I mostly just copied and pasted the info you gave me, but if something is wrong, just let me know! I also noticed that there were quite a few private Instagram accounts (which was a no-no for signing up). If you're one of them and don't plan on making it public for this, let me know and I'll take your Instagram handle off so it won't confuse people! 

I also separated it into a few different categories (mostly to help me when I was organizing partners), so you can see who's doing what (bloggers, instagram, and those shipping to APO addresses). Everyone was put together at random, so I hope you end up liking your partner!


Scarf Swap Partners:

Rachel (Blog Legally @rachelbrenke) ---- Joy (Quilty JoyJoy @quiltyjoyjoy)
Melissa (Two Miracles @brenam22) --- Cat (Raising Monkey, Loving Sarge @raisingmonkey
Acacia (Hello Lovely @acaciaduh) ---- Beth (Life with Bethie the Boo @bethietheboo)
Katie (Going Coastal @kplume1028) ---- Kristina (Kristina Grum @KristinaGrum)
Ines (Discovering Ines @johnsonines) ----- Laura (The Muddled Mom @Lauranthornhill
Sierra (The Tervo Times @sierratervo) ---- Lizzy (Minnesota Night @minnesotanight)
Sarah (Year of Sarah @yearofsarah) ---- Rheanna (Cammo Style Love @rhechristine)
Maranda (Jolts and Jollies @mannadonn) ---- Sue (As it Seems @lovefromsue)
Malia (Just Wandering @malialilinoe) ---- Heather (Traveling Navy Wife @travelingnavywife)
Mallory (My Camo Painted Canvas) ----- Ashleigh (When Three Becomes Two @itsashroberts)
Elisabeth (The Elisabeth Chronicles) ---- Natalia (My Wild Things: Adventures in Raising Boys)
Jessica L (Jessica Lynn Writes @jesstagirl ---- Kim (She is Fierce @reccewife)

Shipping to APO addresses:
Jessica (Bleudress Jes @bleudressjes) - Mrs. B (World Traveling AF Wife @worldtravelingafwife)
Jenna (Shallow Roots Living @jennab124) - Megan (History & Hockey Sticks @thefamilysaunders)
Misty (Thoughts to Hold) ---- Courtney @cadelethompson

Abby @crabbyayab90 ---- Sarah @clearbluewater33
Carolyn @sassyfrass75 ---- Cassie @themes.taylor
Karen @bykarenj ----- Lindsey @ligoree
Alison @mrsalisond ---- Cece @dillpicklepicnic

So there you go! Now it's time for you to get out there and "meet" your partner (and other new friends, too)! Find out what they like or don't like, their style, colors they love (or colors they don't need more of), what type of scarf they'd love to get, set a price limit, decide if you're sending along anything else, etc.

Oh, and look! Here's a handy little visual reminder with all the upcoming dates! Write them down so you don't forget :) You can also see a more detailed version here.

Additional notes:
  • Scarves must be new (purchased and/or made specifically for your partner). There's no set price range, so use your best judgement or set one with your partner. (All you have to send is a scarf, but last year some went a bit further and sent an extra little gift—like matching nail polish. Talk to your partner about what your limits!)
  • Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and my Facebook page! I'll post reminders about all of the deadlines, and other fun things here and there about the swap.
  • Out shopping and see a good deal somewhere, or just want to chat about the swap? Use the hashtag #ScarfSwap14 so everyone can see what you're saying.
Any questions? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and I'll get back to ya!

Oct 24, 2014

8 Books We're Loving Right Now {18 Months}

Okay, so she's actually 19 months and closer to 20 months, but for simplicity's sake, 18 months (or a year and a half) is more generalized. Also, she's been reading these book for several months, so it's more like "Books We're Loving Right Now (1 year—18 months)."

Oh, and I say "we," because goodness knows the parent needs to like the book, too. There are several books now sitting on the top shelf, because I frankly can't stand reading them. Either they're too old for her (too many words at this point), or the story just annoys me. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?

These are the books that we practically have memorized. They're the ones she'll ask for either by name or by pointing to them, and she's learned something from all of them, which I love. Of course we read more books (we try to stick to three each night, otherwise I'll be in there reading to her until the sun comes up), but these are the favorites:

1. Night Night, Baby. I picked this book up on a whim from TJMaxx many, many moons ago, and I'm SO happy I did. We both love this book! The colors are bold, and the characters are cartoony, but there are enough things for her to point out while I'm reading it to keep her entertained. She reads along with this book during parts, which is just adorable. The rhyming and repetition are good (keeps things short and sweet), and for awhile there she would ask to read this over and over again at night. I really need to buy more from this author.

2. If Kisses Were Colors. We got this as a gift and I'm actually surprised she loves it. The illustrations have a hand-drawn look, and are almost a little quirky and whimsical, while the text is a little more advanced (but still simple enough for a baby). I'm not sure why I didn't think she'd like it, but she loves it. She points out all of the animals, the rocks, the flowers, and trees, and it was in our top three rotation for a very long time. (She actually would bring it with her when she'd leave the room, and we lost it for awhile, but recently found it again.) This is another book that I need to buy more of from the author.

3. Love You Forever. I actually had this book on the top shelf for awhile, because I figured it'd be one for her to read when she's older. There's a lot of text, and even though it's super popular, it's not exactly a board book for babies. But she proved me wrong. I can just now read almost everything on the pages before she wants to turn to the next page, but before that she was infatuated by the pictures—she would stare at them for minutes (which is like hours for a baby), and luckily there are enough items to point out to her to keep her entertained. Before I could get around to reading everything on the page, I'd just rock her back and forth and say the familiar "I love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." 

4. Who is Coming to Our House? This book is full of animals, which is the main reason she likes it, and I like it because it tells a super basic story of Mary and Joseph looking for a resting for Jesus, which is a great introductory into the Christmas stroy. The words rhyme and it tells a cute story of the animals preparing the manger for the arrival of their guests.

5. Hey! Wake Up! We have several Sandra Boyton books, but this is one of my favorites. The rhymes are fun and it has a good flow to it. There are fun things to act out: "Yawn, stretch, touch your toes. Shimmy, shimmy, shimmy, wiggle your nose!" Ironically, we read this book mostly at night.

6. If You Give a Cat a Cupcake. This was on sale at Kohl's last summer, and the cupcake lover in me couldn't resist it. It's a little advanced for her, but she really likes looking at all of the pictures. I usually make up my own shortened version of the story, because she wants to flip the pages so quickly, but I have a feeling this will be a book that she'll grow up with.

7. Goodnight Moon. This was another one I was hesitant about, and I don't know why. I just couldn't understand why it was so popular and I wanted to give other books a chance first. But low and behold, she loves this one. Its simple wording and big graphics make it appealing for little hands and eyes. She stares at the pages and after she's found everything she's looking for, she'll turn the page.

8. Go the F**k to Sleep. Have you heard about this book? It's effing fantastic, especially for those nights that your child just won't sleep. And, okay, she may not love this book, but she does point to it and beg me to read it to her some nights, despite the fact that it's on the top shelf. I omit the bad word, of course, but I do get a huge kick out of her wanting to read this. I think she's attracted to the tigers on the front, since she always says, "Roar!" when she wants to read it. If you need a baby shower gift (for a couple with a sense of humor), this is an awesome choice! Also, there's a new one out by the same author called, You Have to F*****g Eat, that I plan on buying ASAP.

We have a lot of other books we read, but these have been the biggies for the past few months. If you need a book suggestion for a one year old, any of these would be great, since they'll grow into them (so to speak).

I'd love to hear what your kids' favorite books are! Leave a comment with their favorite books and how old they are! This mama needs some ideas for someone's Christmas gift and upcoming birthday!

Shameless plug: don't forget to sign up for the Scarf Swap! 

Oct 23, 2014

Thursday Things

I was up last night thinking about things, so I jotted them down in bullet point on my phone so I could elaborate later. Well, later is now!

Some things on my mind this Thursday morning:

+ I want to get one of these pictures (below) printed on canvas, but I'm having a really hard time picking one. Ideally, I'd like it to be horizontal, which stinks, because I think the vertical one (in the middle) is the overwhelming favorite. I took these last year and they're just so cute I need one of them hung up during the autumn season. I can't wait to get her little sister in a pumpkin next year! So tell me in the comments, which picture do you like the best?

+ Since I don't know what random thoughts are going to flow out of this post, let me at least put this plug here so I don't forget it later: Have you signed up for the Scarf Swap yet? Please do! I'm closing the sign-ups tomorrow when I go to bed, and I'd love to have more people join. Right now we're sitting at 30+ and I'd LOVE to have 50 people sign up—how cool would that be?! So tell alllllll of your friends to join!

+ Last night I couldn't decide what to have for dinner (a familiar tale over here these days), and I finally went with a baked potato topped with leftover taco soup. I almost threw the soup away since it's pretty much at the end of its shelf life, but I'm glad I saved it for last night—it was such a fantastic decision. I forgot how much I like baked potatoes. Yum.

+ We've kinda been under house arrest over here. Last week Julia came down with a cold and it's just lingered and lingered and lingered. Lots of snot and a cough, but no fever. Because of that, we've been hanging out a lot together. Usually I'll take her to a mom's morning out program (a HUGE lifesaver so I can have a break), but I didn't want to be that mom who knowingly took her sick kid around other kids. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), that means we've spent a lot of time at home.

+ Oh, and she gave me her cold a couple days ago. I think I'm feeling okay now, and I think she's on the mend? In an effort to not take too much medicine, I've been going a more natural route: hot tea and hot showers. I just need to say that my showers have been dee-lightful. Seriously, it's the highlight of my day. I bought some Herbal Essences Smooth Collection Shampoo and Conditioner (haven't used this kind since high school), and I'm head over heals for it. I catch whiffs of my hair throughout the day and it smells SO good, plus my hair is super soft and full of body! It has life to it again, which is so nice; I have to refrain from washing my hair too much now.

+ One day, to get out of the house, we ventured outside. I gave Julia a pot, she grabbed her "spoon" (a plastic shovel), and she started collecting leaves and twigs, then she proceeded to stir her mixture. It was adorable, and I sat there marveling at how wonderful it is that something like stirring leaves in a pot could entertain such a little person.

+ Speaking of finding ways to entertain her...I gave her another project while I was making muffins yesterday: the muffin cups! This was a big risk knowing they could end up all over the floor, but it actually distracted/entertained her for the entire time I made the muffins! I made these Whole Wheat Apple Walnut Muffins*, in case you're wondering, and they're not too shabby. Julia likes them, which means they're a keeper in my book. *I made mine with pecans, more apples than it called for, and I totally forgot about the buttermilk, so I just used whole milk.

+ Since we've been under the weather, we've watched more TV in the past week than I care to even really admit. I've just been so tired and not feeling well, that I've had to use it. Disney Jr., PBS Kids, and Nick Jr. are my heroes.

+ Speaking of Julia one more time, this girl has shoe fetish! It's a little ridiculous and a lot cute, but any time we walk by shoes at a store, she starts taking off her own shoes so she can try on  other shoes! I don't know where she got this from, because I wear the same ol' boring sandals day after day. Yet, when we're home she'll walk around in my shoes, or go to my closet and try on my shoes. She usually takes her shoes off the second I get her into the car seat, but lately—when I ask her to—she'll put them back on before we get out! It's awesome.

+ And speaking of shoes...head to Target, because right now they're 25% off with Cartwheel...not that I know that from experience or anything. Oh wait, I do. She wouldn't take the pairs of shoes off (pictured below), so wore them out of the store! She's very lucky her mama's a pushover for sparkly, cute, toddler shoes.

+ Also, how come nobody told me to get the Target REDcard when we got back from Italy? I can't even imagine how much money we could've been saving. They ask me every time I'm there if I want one, and I always pass—stupid me. But the other day I was there and I finally caved (because my bill was a lot more than I planned), and I wished that I got it a long time ago. They told me (and I don't know if this is nationwide) that if you sign up this week you'll get an extra 5% off coupon in the mail to use during specific dates next month. So, during those dates you can save 10% with the REDcard and then any additional Cartwheel/coupons on top of that. I heart Target.

+ As for the other baby (the one in my belly), we're just trucking along! I had an appointment a few days ago and they said everything looks great. I can feel her move all the time now, and the kicks (or rolls, or whatever she's doing in there) are becoming more pronounced. I'm pretty exhausted by the end of the day, but I think that's from running after a toddler.

+ I feel like that phrase, "running after a toddler" should be defined a little more. It's not that I'm always literally running after her (I do that, too). But my mind and attention are literally always on her, and I'm constantly checking into what she's doing to make sure it's okay. She climbs on the fireplace, she climbs on her little chair, she climbs on the toy chest. I may be sitting somewhere, but it's not like I can just type away like I'm doing right now (she's currently asleep in her crib). Other times, if she's not in the same room where I am, I'm constantly getting up to check on her—to tell her not to play with Bella's food and water for the millionth time, or to get out of the pantry and not pull down the tea packets (for the millionth time), or to please—for the love of God—to not throw stuff in the toilet (for the second time). And if we're out, there's the process of getting her in and out of the car seat, which is second nature to me now, but all that lifting wears on your body, especially when you're growing an extra human. So while we may not be running laps around each other at the track, my attention is always on her, and that is what's tiring.

+ I think that's it for now. My mind is pretty much blank, which is a nice feeling. Now it's time to catch up on things that I've let slip for the past week.