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Friday

Five On Friday!

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join along!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

O N E
Do you ever love something so much you just wanna sqeeeeeeeeeeeeze it?



Me too, Camille. 


T W O
I've got a new Bella Tunno bag and I'm so excited to share! They recently debuted their BOSS BAGS for the mama-on-the-go who wants to look stylish. If you're currently carrying a diaper bag with a giraffe on it, pay close attention.

I chose the cognac color. There are tons of pockets, a full clutch inside, a changing pad, a cross-body strap, I mean basically everything you'd want in an everyday bag. And the vegan leather is so soft. They have passed along to you the coupon code SMIDGEOFTHIS25 for 25% off starting now through next Friday, 3/3. Now is an awesome time for you to snag this bag!

And remember, this Charlotte-based company is doing it right. For every product sold, they donate one full meal to a child in America.



T H R E E
As I mentioned recently, I've been enjoying having gel polish on my nails recently. On my last salon trip, I tried a new nail color. It's pinker than what I had on last time, which was OPI's Let's Be Friends. This one is called Mod About You and you can also buy it in the non-gel polish HERE on Amazon. It's a beautiful opaque light pink.

 OPI Nail Polish, Mod About You, 0.5 fl. oz.



F O U R
I posted on Snapchat earlier this week about the cake batter overnight oats we enjoyed for breakfast. Oh mah GAH y'all. Delicious. Camille and I were both big fans. And, contrary to the name, it's not a sugar-laden calorie bomb. It's quite healthy!

So, my friend Caroline (you may know her from this blog) recently started a meal planning and menu service called Pots & Plans that is based around delicious food and saving money. Two things I love. If you're interested in the overnight oats recipe, check out her Facebook page HERE, and I'm sure she will also send you a sample menu plan if you're interested!




F I V E
We had this impromptu family photo taken last weekend at a birthday party by the talented photog Lindsay Hart. Love it!



I also love love love the Lilly tunic I'm wearing. I am wearing the XS and it fits true to size. These are $98 usually, but 6pm has several on major sale right now. They are great for this transitional weather when it's a little chillier in the mornings and evenings. Also so pretty with cute shorts for summer beach trips!





TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!

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Thursday

Toddler Meals (Send Help and Wine ... For Me)

I'm struggling with toddler meals, and it's not just what's ON her plate, it's just the whole thing. Let me start from the beginning...

Camille has always been a great eater. She'll try just about anything and she eats a wide variety of fruits and veggies. Proteins are a little more hit-or-miss (excluding peanut butter). I love feeding her all types of food in major hopes that she won't end up being a "chicken fingers only" kid. But sometimes I'll slow-cook some delicious organic chicken breasts all day long only to have her refuse them.

only parents will be able to truly understand this, but it is so true ;):

But now, at nearly 3 years old, she's getting a lot more particular about what she eats, and mealtimes are taking foreverrrrrr. Many nights she will just dawdle and dawdle and next thing you know, I'm setting the timer on my phone for two minutes and telling her that when it rings, dinnertime is over. We also end up missing the window some nights for bathtime which she truly loves. So that can be a struggle. But she goes to bed right around 7 and I'd rather have her miss a bath than go to bed late.

And some nights I yell, scream, lose my temper. It's horrible. I've always been so patient, but the Groundhog Day dinnertime battle is apparently a hot button for me.

Currently it's really only dinner that is so tough on us. Lunches are easier -- PBJs, sliced fruit, heck she will even chow down on some frozen peas. But for dinnertime, I always feel like we're racing against the clock, like we are forcing her to eat, like my meals are sub-par. As much as I love to tell myself that adding peas and ham to Easy Mac is acceptable, I'm leaning on things like that far too often. As a stay-at-home mom, I should be taking more time to prepare healthier meals. I don't know, black bean and tumeric roasted pork empanadas or something. (imagine the eye roll and shoulder shrug emojis now)

Oh, and eating together as a family. It's something we will do for sure when the girls start going to bed later. But for now, we aim to have the girls in bed by 7 which then gives me time to come downstairs and finish preparing the dinner for us adults. And, to be frank, it's one of the more relaxing parts of the day we experience as a couple right now, and to try to have dinner for everyone done by 5:45 and then eat together with toddler tantrums and a baby flinging bananas is just too stressful for us to take on at this point. Just even typing that out is giving me a sweat-stache.

Here's where I'd love your input: what does your toddler eat for dinner? How do you get creative in the kitchen? When you go grocery shopping, what are the healthy staples you pick up? How do you encourage your toddler to focus on their eating to keep dinnertimes from lasting 60 minutes?

Wednesday

Kids' Birthdays: Tried And True $15 Gifts

This past Saturday we attended two birthday parties, one at 10 and one at 12. Both babies were turning one which is such a great party to attend ... the smash cake part is my favorite!

(By the way, regional readers with babies, did you know you can get a free smash cake for your baby's first birthday from Harris Teeter? Just ask for the form from the bakery. That's where we got Camille's cake seen here, and we will do the same for Charlotte!).


Buying gifts for kids' birthday parties can be pretty daunting -- you don't want to spend an arm and a leg, you don't want to repeat a toy they may already have at home, and you don't want to bring a DUD!

Below are some tried-and-true favorites around here, and they are all under $15. Because you REALLY don't have to spend any more than that on a kid's toy!

You'll see that there are a few recurring themes here: bath toys, musical toys, educational toys, and art supplies. In our home, these things are always welcome.

1st Birthday:
The first birthday toys are so fun! Colorful, simple, and engaging. These Water Wow books truly are my favorites and Camille still uses them all of the time. You can reveal the color on the white pages just by using the water pen -- so it's mess-free. And that hedgehog accordion is so, so adorable.

first birthday



2nd Birthday:
More fun bath toys, because this allows the mama to toss the mildewy old toys and introduce something fun for bathtime. More art projects, and more imaginative play like the doctor set (Camille has this very one and loves it!). Our friends also got us the matching cupcakes for Mill's 2nd birthday and that is also a huge hit around these parts. We can pretend with them at Camille's play kitchen, we can talk about colors, shapes, and play fun games to see who can make the most matches.


3rd Birthday:
So this birthday is around the corner for us! And we do have some little friends who have already turned three. Play-doh is not the cleanest thing around but man alive, kids love it. Camille's really into puzzles these days, and it's so nice to have extras on hand once she masters one. The bath dropz and foam letters together are still less than $15 and we love playing games with them -- can you find the C? Can you find the M? Can you put all of the red letters in the basket?

third birthday

play-doh fun factory // mermaid puzzles // bath dropz and foam alphabet // birthday legos (unisex)


I would also love to hear from you -- what are your tried and true birthday party gifts?
And how much do you usually spend on birthday party gifts? 

Monday

Monday Meal Planning

Kicking off this week by sharing what's on our menu this week!



Monday:
Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Garlic Sauce (recipe here)
Roasted Parmesan Green Beans from Skinnytaste (recipe here)
Stewed White Beans

Tuesday:
Egg Roll Bowls (recipe here)

Wednesday: 
Slow Cooker Balsamic Chicken (recipe here)
Parmesan Roasted Carrots (recipe here)
Braised Kale

Thursday:
Takeout!

I'm way excited about the cilantro garlic sauce that I have planned tonight and also the egg roll bowls for tomorrow night. This menu is an easy way for us to enjoy a wide array of healthy foods and still stick to our lower-carb weekly goals (don't worry, we eat like college kids on the weekends ... pizza, Chinese, beer, ice cream).

After ballet today, we are headed to Trader Joes to pick up a few ingredients -- ground pork, coleslaw mix, sesame oil, cream cheese, canned tomatoes, lime, onion, carrots, kale. We also need more coffee and olive oil. Can you get coffee pods at TJs? I'm not even sure. I'll also try to pick up a few lunch-type items to have around the house like some sliced cheese (I could eat grilled cheeses daily) and deli meats. And if I can make it out of the store without picking up a jar of cookie butter, then it will be a big win.

What's on your menu for the week?

Saturday

Saturday Steal: Cedar Raised Garden Bed


Today's Saturday Steal is still $50/$60 depending on what size you go with, BUT investing in a garden is something that will truly pay for itself!


I purchased the 49x49 size and it arrived yesterday. We can't wait to put it together in our backyard! 

It will house lots of herbs (my favorites: rosemary, basil, oregano, lavender, fennel) and some veggies. Not only will it bring out the inner-herb-nerd in me, but it is also an excellent learning tool for Camille. Learning how plants grow, how they need water and sunlight, learning how we can all be a little more self-sufficient and take special care of things. Plus, it's a great activity to get us outside daily!

You can find these cedar raised beds HERE. The image above is also clickable, which is a little easier if you're reading on a mobile device. 

Friday

Five On Friday: Dinner, Wine, Ears, Cheeks

It's time for another edition of Five on Friday and I do hope you'll join along!

Remember, all you have to do is post about five things on your mind, add our logo (found at the bottom of this post), and join the party using the linky tools below. Easy, and a great way to find new blogs and be found. :)

O N E
Char's ears ... I have quite an update for you. We had her consult yesterday with the ENT (she's on her 4th round of antibiotics now), and he said her ears are completely clear. Completely clear. And just to keep an eye on them for the time being and not worry about scheduling the tubes. Y'all, I seriously thought yesterday's appointment was merely to discuss the surgery date/specifics and sign anesthesia paperwork. I had NO idea that we may be getting the all-clear to just monitor her. Ian and I left the appointment practically skipping, we were so happy. Here's hoping her ears stay clear from here on out! Thanks to everyone for the prayers and well-wishes!


T W O
I made the most delicious chimichurri sauce last night for our skirt steak. Camille was my little sous-shef and we actually made it right in my baby food maker which is quite hilarious but efficient. Camille loves to help these days -- adding in the cilantro, pouring in the red wine vinegar with my assistance. I used this recipe and halved the olive oil and subbed in extra cilantro for the parsley I didn't have on hand. I served the sauce over skirt steak (delicious, from Aldi!) with sauteed peppers, black beans, and avocado slices. It was really tasty.

I think this sauce can be used so many ways -- drizzled over grilled chicken, quesadillas, a dip for veggies, you name it!



T H R E E
I mentioned at the beginning of the week that I was going to commit this entire week to using the Beautycounter products that my friend gave me. I have really been enjoying them! The Nourishing line to me feels very softening and not harsh at all. Just like it's really hydrating my skin, not taking anything away from it. I also have a sample of their charcoal soap she gave me that I like using along with my Clarisonic brush. So, for any of you who may be curious about the line, I have to say that I am a fan!


F O U R
Great, great wine rec to pass along to you if you like New Zealand sauv blancs like I do! This one is from Aldi and is just $6.99. It seriously tastes amazing ... I am going to pick up several bottles next trip!



F I V E
I wanted to show off this blush I mentioned recently ... Paaarty by Tarte (here). It lasts basically allllll day long and is not the bright pop of color I usually wear by Bobbi Brown, more of a subtle and earthy look. My boho mama look. ;) I really do recommend this color if you're looking for a long-lasting blush that will make you look a little more tan while allowing you to steer clear of the sun!


click image to shop

TGIF y'all, and hope you will join in on Five on Friday this week! Cheers to the weekend!

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Thursday

The Babies are 10 Months and 2 Years, 9 Months

Valentines Day also marked the day that Charlotte turned 10 months and Camille 2.9 years old (is that a thing?). Yep, they were both born on the 14th! Exactly 23 months apart in age.

I have fallen slack with taking Charlotte's monthly photos, which I really regret, but wanted to take a little time to jot down some of the things the girls are now doing that I never want to forget.

is it too much to ask for one photo where they smile at me?
apparently so. 

Charlotte, at 10 Months
Charlotte is the happiest, most laid-back baby. I get her out of her crib after I get Camille at 7:30. She has usually been awake for half an hour or so at that time but is perfectly content rolling around, cooing, snuggling with her paci/lovie. Just recently she has mastered pulling up to standing in her crib! She's got sparkling eyes that accompany her easy smile. She has had a recurring ear infection basically since the very end of December and today is her consultation to have tubes put in her ears. Happy through it all. She is still nursing, eating purees and some finger foods, and napping twice a day.

Our basic schedule with her now is:
7:30 nurse, 8:00 finger foods and maybe a puree, 10:00 morning nap for an hour some days, other days if we are on the go she skips. 11:30 nurse, 12:00 pureed fruit/veggie/protein, playtime, 2:00-3:45 nap, 4:00 nurse, playtime, 6:00 pureed fruit/veggie/protein, bath, 6:45 nurse, 7:00 bed.

She has two bottom teeth and one of the top teeth seems to be working its way down as well. She can follow a few commands -- wave, clap, bonk (bump heads gently with us). She dances (sways) in her high chair when we play music in the kitchen. When she is really happy she will close her eyes for about two seconds and then open them up all dreamily and smiley. She and I attend a music class Tuesday mornings and she has loved it, especially hitting two instruments together. It's a nice thing for us to do together while big sister is at preschool. Yesterday she used sign language to say "more" when she wanted additional puffs to snack on. So proud of this sweetheart. She's still pretty clingy/snuggly with mama but has finally really warmed up to both grandmothers. Loves peek-a-boo, raspberries blown on her tummy and neck, and taking a bath at night with her sister. Also, very interested in dogs -- fearlessly holds her hand out to them for kisses.

Camille, at 2 Years 9 Months
Camille is magnetic as ever. She has grown and learned so much as a two-year-old. She loves Disney princesses, playing outside, the 2 shows she gets after nap (usually Sofia, Mickey, Shimmer and Shine, or Madeline), playing kitchen, Legos, play-doh, coloring, her sand table, reading, and craft projects. She also LOVES to help me cook -- making pizzas, helping me make baby food, pushing the button down on the toaster.

She is strong-willed. She is not quiet! She knows what she wants and she will make it known. Her vocabulary is awesome and impresses us. She retains stories well and can help us "read" books. She has become quite the puzzle superstar and can do the 24-piece puzzles quickly and with very little or no help.

She got rid of her paci several months ago and has never looked back. We are working on potty training and she definitely gets it but we haven't done the full-fledged training yet. She naps daily from 2-3:45 or at least stays in her crib during that time. She can sing all of her ABCs and count to 10, sometimes up to 14/15. She can make numbers 1-5 using her fingers. Sometimes for the number 2, she will hold both pointer fingers up beside each other. She says "paybe" for maybe, has started to say "nevermind" which is hilarious, and has recently started calling herself "Ta-meel" instead of "Mill-mill."

She is sort of over Katy Perry (but still loves "Wide Awake") but her new favorite songs are the following: "You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals, "Genghis Khan" by Miike Snow, and "Casual Party" by Band of Horses. She is also into "Whatever, Wherever" by Band of Horses which is an amazing song -- on YouTube here if you're unfamiliar. It's her special song with Ian and she loves sitting in his lap in his office to watch the music video.

She has extremely sweet moments and typical toddler tantrums, too. We do timeouts for 2 minutes on a time-out step and sometimes have to take away favorite toys and put them up high on the mantel. Disciplining is probably my least favorite thing ever behind cuts from broken glass and rabid attack dogs. Hate all of those. But disciplining is important and I just hope that she forgets the moments where I lose my mind because she is whining. whining. whining. again.

She's a creature of habit and every night after reading a book or two, she wants to "tackle hug" Ian three times in a row, then push him out of the doorway, then go check on him. Every single night. Then she comes back to me and we sing the same four songs in a row -- Twinkle Twinkle, then a made up song "Hmm Hmm Mama", then the "I Love You" song from Barney, then the chorus from "Let It Go" as I'm tucking her in. Then she reminds me to set her clock and I tell her it's already set. Lights out, door cracked. Every single night, this is how it goes.

My girls are my favorite thing in the world, and being able to stay at home with them and see all of this good stuff is the most priceless gift I have been given. It's not easy, no siree, but worth every darn precious minute.

Wednesday

Wednesday Schtufffff

Sometimes I sit down at my computer in the mornings and I'm not sure where a blog post is going to take me. So I write a "placeholder" title like the one you see above, telling myself I'll change it after the blog post takes more of a recognizable shape. And half the time that title ends up so wacky that I just leave it.

So, here you go ... Wednesday schtufffff.


First things first, Valentines Day. We had a good day. It's different now -- and that's okay. Let me reminisce for a moment, maybe back to 2012 or something. We were DINKs, dual income no kids. Ian was never really a "send roses to her work" kinda guy. I'd come home from work to flowers and we would have a lazy night of making a Valentines dinner and maybe watch a movie or something.

OKAY this is funny but I just looked up our 2012 Valentines recap and I pretty much nailed it right on the head. Tulips at home, dinner at dining room table, movie. You can read it here.

So now it mainly revolves around our daughters which is a blessing in itself. It's just different! Ian got home around 4, came to see us up in the playroom, he mysteriously disappeared downstairs for a minute, and the front doorbell rang and the Valentines Man had run away too quickly for us to see him! He left some heart-shaped pink marshmallows for Camille, a single rose for each girl, and a dozen red roses and bottle of red wine for the mama.

After getting the girlies to bed, we cooked dinner, drank wine, had a little champagne with our chocolate cake, and watched more of the Amanda Knox documentary on Netflix until our internet started seizing up and Ian was all "efffffffffffff this I'm outta here!" and he went to bed early to prep for a busy day today. We'll give it another try, no idea what was happening last night with the streaming or whatever you call it.


BUT, I do consider V-day to be a success for these reasons: 1) the steak we cooked last night was DOPE and I never say that word but it just felt really appropriate there ... recipe here. And 2) The wine that I got for a gift was truly a great red wine, and it's called 3 Girls. It's a cabernet and I just love that Ian picked that one for the name. :)


the teeniest chocolate cake - perfect size for us!

And finally, did some online shopping this morning before the girls were up and just had to share a few Old Navy faves. They are pretty much constantly running a sale, but a lot of what they have is up to 50% off now and then make sure to use code ENJOY on top of that for an additional 30% off. Some of my favorites below are now under ten bucks using that code.

old navy faves



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