The Adventure Starts Here: March 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Guys Behind the Blog | March 2016

I'm back again today with another installment of "The Guys Behind the Blog". I love that each month I get to interview both Chris (here) and Noah (with our new "The Kids Behind the Blog" link up.)   


This month, Betsy and Laura left it up to us to come up with our own questions for the men in our life.  After a little thinking, I decided to come up with a few questions and asked Chris for his input on some things he'd like to "share".  Let's see if you can guess which ones I came up with versus Chris.

1. What was your first car? If money was no object, what would your dream car be today?
1990 Jeep Cherokee, 4 door, red. Bought it in 1996. At the time, it only had an FM/AM radio, not even a tape player! I quickly updated it to have a 12 CD changer, back when those were cool. If money was no object, I'd probably buy a $2 milliom Bugatti Veyron. 

2. What was the first concert you went to? Is there anyone you'd love to see in concert now?
First concert was Lollapalooza in 1996. Metallica, Soundgarden, Wu-Tang Clan, Rancid, etc. I would like to see Guns N Roses in concert during their reunion tour. That could be a cool show. 

3. If you had unlimited money, how would your life be different?
If I had unlimited money, I'd have a massive secluded house with all the possible features and amenities you could imagine. That would include a private plane where I could fly off to any location at a moment's notice. Plus, I'd make sure all of my family and friends were taken care of as well.

4. If you could live anywhere (besides where we currently live), where would you choose?
If I could live anywhere, I'd probably pick a location that always had nice weather, like a tropical island.

5. Who would play you in a movie about your life?
I would have to say Matt Damon could play me in a movie. That wouldn't be so bad.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Currently | March 2016

I love "currently" posts because I love documenting what's going on at the moment.  I'm a huge fan of making digital scrapbooks (both for our family and for Noah) as well as using this blog as a scrapbook of sorts.  I've been doing "currently" posts for a while now, but recently changed up the format.  Here's what I've been up to in March (in addition to celebrating my birthday and going on vacation)...


Cooking Baking: Lots of things... cookies, muffins, and scones!  Apparently I love to bake now :)

Eating: Either loads of junk or doing well and eating lots of fruit and veggies... I really should work on achieving more of a middle ground!

Wanting: To get outside more.  When winter is about to end (soon right!?!), I start feeling like we are inside watching too much TV.  This happens every year and then Spring finally arrives and it just naturally corrects itself.  We are all of a sudden spending most of our time outside and barely watching an TV shows (Noah or myself).  

Looking:  for some new Spring clothes.  I have the basics covered, but there are a few new pieces I would love to add.  Like some distressed jeans (maybe even a white pair), some delicate tops (maybe some floral and lace), and some longer shorts (I am not a fan of the short shorts on me!).  

Enjoying: The ups and downs of a 3 year old.  I know I may be crazy to say this but despite the mood swings that come with a 3 year old, I'm really enjoying this age.  I love that I'm now able to have full on conversations with Noah and really get to know his likes and dislikes.  While he's opinionated and bossy at times, he's such a fun and loving kid.  

Wishing: I was back in Turks & Caicos... or at least for warmer weather!


Hoping:  Spring comes sooner than later.  I know that I seem to be talking about the weather a lot, but man has the weather been unpredictable.  We seem to get a few nice days and then it gets cold, windy, and rainy again.  I even saw a chance of snow in the 10 day forecast!!!

Needing:   To practice more with Lightroom.  I was editing with iPhoto but found that it changed when my computer "upgraded" me to Photos.  So now I'm shooting in Raw and editing all my photos in Lightroom.  While I've watched a bunch of YouTube tutorials, I'm sure theres so much more I could learn.  I also think I could improve on my photo organization and workflow.  So if you have any suggestions on how I can improve, I'm all ears!

Feeling: Grateful for Chris.  Not only is he just a really great and hands on dad in general, but this past weekend he just went above and beyond.  He was away on business, technically for two night, but only in Seattle for 25 hours.  He flew there Wednesday night, had meetings on Thursday, and then took the red eye home.  I would have gone directly home to sleep, but not him.  Instead, he took a quick shower and then spent the rest of the day with Noah and his cousins, bouncing around at the Bounce Factory!  He then spent the rest of the weekend running around with them and being the best dad/uncle ever!  Noah and I are very lucky!

Loving: This little blogging community I've found.  While I've always enjoyed reading other blogs, I've recently found a group of blogging friends.  Not only do we support each other through social media, but we are also a sounding board for blogging (and personal) advice.  I also love that they are just genuinely a great group of women!  I hope to one day meet them all, because I really do consider them my friends!

Wearing:  Everything from winter sweaters and coats, to light layers, to swim suits and sundresses.  Not only is the weather here totally unpredictable, but adding a tropical vacation to the mix and my wardrobe is seriously confused... that is if a wardrobe had feelings ;)  You can check out all of my "mommy style" here.  


Watching: TV shows on Noah's iPad.  I watch most of my shows after he goes to bed and I find it easier to do so on his iPad while working on my laptop.  While few of my shows are taking a break right now, I'm still watching and loving Castle and Elementary each week. 

Listening to: Cake by the Ocean by DNCE.  Sometimes I feel like I'm such a teenage wannabe with the music I like.  While some of it feels a little more grown up, the fact that I'm obsessed with this song and a Jonas brother is in the band makes me laugh.  

Drinking: Diet Coke.  I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I've grown a little dependent on my daily Diet Coke.  I had given them up (and all caffeine) a while ago and then slowly decided to let myself indulge sometimes, usually when eating out.  We would keep them in the fridge for my mom, and slowly but surely I started drinking them at home too.  Now when 3 o'clock hits, if I didn't have one at lunch, I feel sluggish and long for a little caffeine pick me up.  

Planning:  A long weekend in Montreal.  We are planning on going with my parents and meeting up with my brother and his husband.  It will be a 6 hour drive for us and under a 2 hour drive for my brother.  If you have any tips on things to do with both adults and kids, I'd love any and all recommendations!  

Reading:  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  My goal is to read one book a month, but when I finished Me Before You in under a week and was about to go on vacation, I knew I'd need to pick a second book for March!  Let me just tell you that I loved both of these books.  Me Before You is your untraditional love story that will really get you thinking.  And What Alice Forgot is the second Liane Moriarty book I've read this year, and I'm really becoming a fan.  Not only did I love Alice's story, but I also really enjoyed reading her sister's story and found that her infertility struggles and feelings about it to be spot on and very relatable.  I also love that both of these books are being turned in movies.  Me Before You comes out in June while What Alice Forgot is in early production (with Jennifer Anniston cast as Alice).   


I'm linking up with Stephanie's "Reading Wednesday" and can't wait to see what books I should read next!  


What have you been up to this month?  Read any good books that I should add to my "must read" list?

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tips for Keeping an Organized and Semi-Clean House

A clean and organized house... I think that's all something we'd love to have, but either don't know how to do it or just don't have the motivation to keep it that way.  For me, I love being organized.  I love going to The Container Store and finding pretty ways to corral all my stuff.  While I love having a clean house, I don't find joy in cleaning like some people do.  Sure, I do it, but it's something I'll gladly skip if a better option presents itself.  Better yet, if someone offers to clean for me!  Because of my desire to have a beautiful, clean, and organized space, I've come up with a few techniques to keep my house this way.  While I have many room specific tips, I find that in general, it's easier to stay organized when everything has a home and I enlist everyone's help (even my 3 year old son).  If you don't implement these two strategies, you'll be fighting a constant battle.  


Now onto the specifics...  I've broken it down by space...

Kitchen

^^^ I'm about being realistic, not Pinterest perfect.  We have magnets on the fridge/dishwasher, a few things on the counter, and we keep reusable bags in those large baskets under the island.    

Keep the counters clear!
This is the one I struggle with the most, but also the one I think makes the biggest impact!  My rule of thumb is to only keep things out that you use on a daily basis.  For our family, that's the toaster, Vitamix, drying racks (for Noah's cups and pots and pans), our knives, cooking utensils (in a pretty jar), dish soap and hand soap, and a fruit bowl.  Sometimes I wish I could clear the counters off even more, but this is real life, so I go with it.  

Have a system in place so that things are put away rather than building up on the counters.  All that random junk we bring in from our cars and the daily mail, figure out a way to keep it off the counters.   I personally like to go through mail immediately, throw out the junk, and then leave a pile for my husband to deal with when he gets home.  That pile goes down to his office each night to either be dealt with or filed away.  As for the random stuff that comes in from the car... Noah's school stuff either gets thrown away, hung on the wall, or filed in his school binder.

Bottom line, if the counters are clear, it's easier to wipe them down at least once a day.

Help kids help themselves!
Once you feel confident that your kids are safe in the kitchen, let them help.  In addition to helping me bake, I like to give Noah the independence to go grab a snack on his own.  I do this by having a step stool in the kitchen and by keeping mommy approved snacks on the lower shelves.  This way, I don't have to run to the kitchen every time he wants an applesauce pouch or string cheese.  And as he gets older I plan to teach him to help in even more ways... putting his plates in the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher, and even wiping up his own messes.

Some of my favorite gadgets/tips:
My veggie chopper is amazing and saves so much time with cutting vegetables for meals.
I am in love with my Vitamix.  Perfect for our anytime smoothies and I want to try making sorbet in it this summer!
And if your garbage disposal starts to smell like mine does, try lemons.  I keep a bowl full of lemons on my counter.  Each day, I cut half a lemon into small pieces, and run it through the disposal with warm water running.  It definitely keeps the nasty smells at bay.

Bathrooms


Keep two sets of cleaning products... upstairs and downstairs.
Bathrooms are my least favorite thing to clean, so anyway I can make it easier (and faster) is a plus in my book!  Every week, I spray foam cleaner on my shower, squirt some toilet cleaner in the bowl, and then get to work on the sink and mirrors.  Then I can wipe down the toilets and then hop in the shower to finish cleaning in there.

Keep up in between cleanings.
In between big cleanings, I have some wipes underneath the sink that I use to wipe down the counters and sinks... makeup and toothpaste can quickly make a recently cleaned bathroom look disgusting!   We also wipe down our glass shower door/wall with a squeegee after every shower.  It makes a huge difference!

Favorite product: 
Clorox Bleach Foamer Bathroom Spray for the shower.  This stuff is amazing at getting the mold and mildew out of your shower!

Random tip:
A lot of my friends complain about how disgusting their men are in the bathroom.  The biggest cause for complaint is the mess they leave after shaving.  Thankfully, my husband came into our marriage with a great shaving technique... I can't take any credit for this!  He uses a small tupperware like container.  He stores his shaving tools in there under the sink, and then when he goes to shave he places it in the sink.  He fills it with water and uses it to rinse off his razor.  All the stubbly hairs fall into the container instead of getting all over the sink.  When he's done, he flushes it down the toilet.  It keeps the sink clean and prevents clogging!

Bedrooms



Make the bed every day!
The rest of the room can be a mess, but a made bed will make it look a little better!  Even if it means throwing the covers over a mess of sheets, it will help.

Implement a laundry system!
Once the bed is made, laundry is the easiest way for your room to look messy.  Everyone will be different with how often they need to do laundry... but the point is to stay on top of it.  Some people like throwing a load of laundry on each day while others like to spend one day doing load after load.  I personally like a laundry schedule where I do certain items on certain days and then do a random load of clothing whenever the hamper is full.  For instance, I do sheets on Tuesday, towels on Thursday, and clothing usually is twice a week.

But you can't just do the laundry, you also have to fold it.  I know this is usually the least favorite part of the process, but if you can, I find it best to fold and put it all away the same day you wash it.  Otherwise, the laundry process never seems to end.

Random tip:
Hang dress shirts up as soon as the dryer finishes.  Chris has a pretty casual office, so he wears jeans and a nice button down shirt to work each day.  If he had to wear a suit and tie, we'd be having all his clothes dry cleaned.  But since he doesn't, I wash and iron (my least favorite part) all his clothes at home.  To make ironing easier (and faster), I immediately take his shirts out of the dryer and hang up.   While it doesn't eliminate wrinkles completely, it helps A LOT!

Living Rooms

Utilize baskets and bins!
On our main level, we have one living room.  While we do have a play room in our finished basement, Noah has a lot of toys in our living room as well.  While I'm okay with that, I still like to be able to clean up and have the toys put away at the end of the day (or if company is coming over).  I find that the easiest way to do this is having lots of baskets and bins to store like items together.

This is also where having your children help comes into play.  It is much easier for a child to help clean up if they know where it should go and it involves just throwing the toys into a basket.

Set aside time to clean up!
Decide how often you want to clean up a room.  My general rule of thumb is to clean up at the end of each day.  That is unless it's become impossible to walk through the room or we are having company over.  Regardless, it's best to schedule in some time to clean up and get your kids involved.  Ten minutes before bed, we make it a competition to see who can clean up faster.  I usually give Noah a task, like clean up the kitchen toys or Legos, and tell him it's a race.  It's amazing how some simple competition can really get them going!

Storage


Utilize your door space!
We are fortunate to have quite a few closets in our house.  This has allowed me to have plenty of storage for a pantry, linens, seasonal decor, and even gifts.  I turned one of our basement closets into a place to store all of my gift wrap as well as random gifts I buy throughout the year.  While I use the shelves to house all my random gifts, I use the door to hold all my wrapping paper.  No point wasting the door space!

Favorite item:  Elfa Door System
This door storage system is amazing and can be used for so many purposes.  I use it on my gift closet to store all my wrapping paper and gift bags.  We also have one on our kitchen closet door to store extra apple juices, light bulbs, and saran wrap.

Random tip:
Hang your table cloths on hangers.  I used to fold all my tablecloths and keep in my dining room buffet.  But then I had to do so much ironing whenever I wanted to use them.  So now, I make just a few folds and drape them over a hanger.  It's helped a lot!

So there you have it, a few tips that help me keep our house organized and somewhat clean.  While I love order, I also want my house to look like it has a young family living in it.  I want Noah to feel comfortable to play with his toys and make messes.  But that he knows that at the end of the day we clean up after ourselves.  I hope that my house always maintains this balance.

I'd love to hear some of your tried and true tips.  And make sure to check out my fellow blogging friends for their Spring Cleaning and Organization posts... I can't wait to read them myself!



In addition to these amazing cleaning and organization tips, we are also doing a giveaway! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win one of four Mrs. Meyer's variety gift buckets (a $37 value). Good luck! The giveaway is open to US Residents and runs from Tuesday, March 29th - Monday, April 4th.   

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 28, 2016

Easter 2016

Noah's shirt | jacket | jeans

Easter weekend.  I feel like we went full speed for three days... to say I'm exhausted is an understatement.  It's been a few years since my brother and his family have come down for the holiday weekend.  Since we only see them a few times a year, whenever we get together with them, we plan a lot of fun activities to do with the kids.  And holidays always seem to add to the itinerary.  They arrived late Thursday night and we spent all day Friday and Saturday doing lots of fun Easter themed activities.  The Easter bunny "visited" my parents' house on Friday when we were at lunch (my mom stayed back).  As usual, my mom went a little overboard and got so many cool things for the kids.  In addition to a basket filled with chocolate and little Easter themed goodies, they got a few larger gifts.  Noah's 5 year old cousin got lots of Legos (his current obsession), his 3 year old cousin got the Air Patroller and a few Air Pups (Rocky & Zuma), and Noah got a few Miles toys (Legos and spaceship) and a new Transformer.  The living room looked like a bomb went off (or like Christmas morning) after they were done opening their baskets.  It's definitely more chaotic when the four cousins are together... very different than Noah's normal only child life!

baskets | liners (teal, plaid)



One of the things I love to observe is how much Noah likes to play with his cousins.   Noah's cousin who is his age is very independent and often likes to play on his own.  But Noah's older cousins (5 and 8) are quite happy for Noah to follow them around.  When we first went over to my parents' house on Friday morning, Noah was a little shy, but as soon as Kaitlyn asked if he wanted to play, he went off and never left her side.  It was so cute to see him show her his Transformers and her read him a book.  Later that day we went to the Bounce Factory, and while Noah wasn't as physically able as his cousins, he was very eager to try.  He was constantly asking where Matthew was so that he could follow.  

On Saturday, we had a very busy Easter filled day.  We went to two egg hunts, one at Noah's school in the morning and another with our MOMS Club in the afternoon.  We really lucked out with the weather.  Even though it only made it to the mid 50s, the sun was out and it was a beautiful day... especially since Easter in March can be so unpredictable!  My brother's family and my parents came with us to both of the egg hunts.  It was interesting to see Noah balance playing with his friends and his cousins.  There were times that I had to remind him that he could play with both at the same time because I could see that he was torn.  This is the first time it has ever really been an issue.  

Noah's shirt | jacket | jeans




Apparently we didn't think two egg hunts were enough.  So in between, we took everyone to our local pizza place and frozen yogurt shop... our personal favorites.  We then hurried home to dye some Easter eggs and decorate sugar cookies.  We weren't expecting the kids to be so interested in the actual dyeing part.  My experience is little kids usually think the process takes too long and is boring. But the kids were obsessed with dyeing egg after egg and we wished we had hardboiled more than 30 eggs!  While we waited for the dye to dry, we decorated some Easter cookies with the prettiest icing colors I've ever mixed!  Wilton sure does come up with amazing products!  


^^^ we used regular food coloring instead of the egg dyeing kits.  The box of my food coloring gave instructions on how to much water, vinegar, and food coloring to use for eggs.  

Noah's shirt
These grasping spoons were such a hit... we wish we had bought more than one pair!  We tried to get more last minute but our store was sold out :(



^^^ he had to taste his creation!

^^^ wherever we go, the kids gravitate towards Chris... probably because he's so much fun!

^^^ going over with Noah that they were allowed to collect 5 eggs, but he was more interested in telling us he was 3 :)

Noah's shirt



kids' placemats (plates, bowls, and cup from PBKids)

We had a little break from the cousins on Easter morning.  My brother and his family went to church with my parents while we did our own thing with Chris' family.  Before heading over to his parents' house, we had a quiet morning at home complete with another visit from the Easter bunny.  Noah came downstairs to find his basket and some hidden eggs.  While his immediate reaction to the mini muffin game was less than thrilled, he loved it once we opened it and showed him what it was about.  He said the scooping tongs were like a hippo :) 

Noah's shirt | scissor skills - a huge hit!


Then it was off to Chris' parents' house to meet up with our usual brunch crew.  Each year, we go to the country club for a huge brunch buffet.  I love getting to dress up and catch up with the family each year... and the food is pretty great too!  Noah was shy at first, like normal.  But he quickly warmed up to his Great Gram when she brought out her collapsible cane.  It literally provides Noah endless entertainment... we were calling him a magic man whenever he'd "put it back together"!  We were also shocked at how well and how much he ate!  Before even leaving for brunch, he ate a whole bowl of orange bell peppers and a scrambled egg.  I honestly didn't expect him to eat anything at the country club.  But he surprised me by eating lots of fruit, bread, and a whole glazed donut!  

My dress - Talbots, 2 years ago | Chris' shirt - Tommy Hilfiger | Noah's shirt - Gap, no longer online


^^^ I love that he went over to chat with Granddad and Great Gram all on his own while Chris and I went to get more food.  He told them all about school and our recent vacation... he's getting so grown up!


^^^ he was a little bummed he couldn't go for an actual ride on the golf cart

After brunch, we stopped over at my parents' house for one last visit with Noah's cousins before they headed home.  While all they wanted to do was play with their new toys, I did make them pose for a few pictures in their beautiful Easter outfits.  I'm such a sucker for flowers, plaid, and pastels!  


After such a busy and wonderful Easter weekend, I'm sure we will be happy to take it easy this week.  

How was your weekend?  

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Friday, March 25, 2016

Five on Good Friday

Happy Good Friday!  I've been looking forward to this Friday all week.  Chris was away in Seattle for business and landed this morning (he took the red eye home).  Noah's cousins arrived last night, so Chris is taking the day off and we hope to do some pretty fun stuff with the four kids.  And of course, I'm looking forward to the Easter weekend.  I wish you all a wonderful holiday weekend :)  

One

In case you missed it, here's a recap of this week's posts.  And in case you missed our Easter Basket Link Up, don't worry, because there's still time... the link up will be open until Wednesday, March 30th!  


Two

Baseball season is about to begin, and while I personally don't get excited for the sport, I love any excuse to dress Noah up.  Chris is a huge Mets fan and loves to show his team pride with Noah :)  Some of my favorite blogging friends are hosting an Opening Day Link Up from April 4 - 10!  Here's your chance to show off some team pride by sharing a photo of your loved ones in your favorite team's apparel :)  Don't forget to tag your social media photos with #hoorayitsopeningday !  




Chris and Noah from last year :)

Three

We are in full Easter mode this week!  Being that there was only 10 days between St. Patrick's Day and Easter this year, I feel totally rushed!  I made sure Noah wore his bunny shirts nonstop this week and will continue to do so this weekend... I made sure to do his laundry last night!  And on a side note, I love that he's started wearing his hair spiked again.  Each day I ask him if he wants it up or down.  He either says "up like Ryder" or "down like Rubble"... who knew Rubble wore his hair down?

Gap (last year) | Gap (this year)

Four

Noah's class had an Easter party yesterday.  Each parent sent in 6 eggs filled with treats for their kid to find in an egg hunt.  I filled Noah's with a bunch of his favorites...  

squishy lizzards (Target dollar spot) | Easter stickers (Michaels) | temporary tattoos | matchbox cars

I was also in charge of the healthy snack this week.  And since they were having their Easter party, I decided to send in some baby carrots (because bunnies love carrots) and some flower shaped cucumbers (because they are just so spring like and cute!).  I know Noah loves both veggies, so I hope the other kids did as well... if not I'm sure they enjoyed the Easter dessert ;)


Five

I'm so excited that Noah's cousins are visiting this weekend for Easter!  I hope to have lots of fun activities to blog about next week!  We haven't seen them since Christmas, but we did get some St. Patrick's Day photos texted to us last week :)


Today, I'm linking up with The Farmer's Wife and September Farm for "Oh Hey Friday" and with A. Liz Adventures for "Five on Friday"!



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