Tag Archives: motherhood

Music is sunshine

How Music Made Our Mornings FUN!

Lilu and I have always bonded over music.  Ever since she could talk, we have made time during every day to sing and dance to our “jams” (generally super-cheesy 80’s music.)

How to have cheerful children in the morning

Like any kid, she’s not always very enthusiastic about waking up for school..  One day last week as I was tucking her in to bed, I told her I was going to come in the next morning with music blaring to wake her up.  That way, I explained, she would have to be in a good mood.

7am rolls around and I forget.  Lilu didn’t.  She sat right up in bed: “where’s the music?”  I quickly retreated to my room to grab my phone.  When I came back to help her get dressed (she still lets me choose her outfits–I’ll enjoy it as long as possible) I was playing “Higher Love” (our official family song.)

Well wouldn’t you know, Lilu hopped right out of bed with a smile on her face, already suggesting which song to play next.  The rest of the morning was entirely pleasant as we ate breakfast together, heads bobbing to the tunes playing from my portable speaker.  Lilu was even ready for school ten minutes early.

Lilu is very big on traditions, so I believe we will be jamming out each morning from now on.  Adding music definitely improved everyone’s mood– myself included.  I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner, but I’m sure glad I found a way to make mornings a little bit easier!

Everyday lip color

Soccer Mom Style: Everyday Lips

I’ve had a beauty revelation.

Let me start by saying I don’t think I’m cut out to be a beauty blogger.  I feel weird taking selfies and think I’m goofy in them.  BUT I’m excited that I have found a super easy beauty “look” that I can pull off everyday.  So, I’m putting my pride aside for the sake of my readers! 🙂

Everyday Lips

I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of wearing lip gloss for basically my whole life.  I just never got into lipstick.  I hate the smearing, the weird smell, the clumps, and for some reason I felt uncomfortable with bold lip color.  So plain lip gloss it was, and without a second thought.  In fact, my entire makeup routine is practically non-existent on a day-to-day basis.

However, as a wedding present, my brother and his girlfriend (they both technically get credit, but we all know who is responsible for the idea) gifted me a subscription to Birchbox.  Last month’s box contained a chunky lip pencil: Mirenesse Glossy Kiss #14 Perfect Kiss.  It was love at first swipe.

It is just the right amount of color– a bright pop of coral-ish pink a little bit outside of my comfort zone, but not so much that I wouldn’t wear it.  Since it is a pencil, it has a matte finish, but still offers a hint of shimmer.  It is incredibly light feeling and has absolutely zero clumps.  It is the perfect lip color for everyday wear.  I finally feel like a grown-up!

A Major Plus: it makes my eyes amazingly green instead of the grey they sometimes appear– the above photo is not retouched at all!  (The only reason I did a selfie is to show how the lip color enhances my eyes.)

Supposedly you can even use this lip pencil as a blush, though I haven’t tried it yet.  Here is what it looks like on my hand so you can get an idea of the color of the pencil itself:

Mirenesse Glossy Kiss #14 Perfect Kiss

If you’re like me you probably think “why bother” putting on makeup just to run your daily errands.  But if you’re like me, most days you also probably feel like a Plain Jane too!  Honestly, I don’t care what strangers at the grocery store think about my appearance, but it is amazing how something so simple as a fun lip color can make you feel better!  And that is what matters!

cookies and cream ice cream cake

Easy 3-Ingredient Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake

Though our family generally has very healthy eating habits, every now and then we just have to splurge.  Hubby made a cookies and cream ice cream cake for a party a while back and it didn’t last long!  I decided to prepare one myself today and share the steps because this dessert is so easy, fast, and delicious that I know many of you would enjoy.  And if I can make it anyone can!

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Cake

You only need three ingredients:

  • 12 ice cream sandwiches
  • 1/2 regular size pack of Oreos
  • 2 cups Cool Whip

**BONUS: This recipe can be made gluten free and/or dairy free by substituting the type of “ice cream” sandwiches and cookies used.  

STEP 1: Chop 1/2 pack of Oreos in food processor until finely ground.

Oreos IMG_3229

STEP 2: Add ground Oreos to mixing bowl containing 2 cups Cool Whip.

Cool Whip IMG_3231

STEP 3: Fold ground Oreos into Cool Whip until well combined– this is the frosting.

Oreos and Cool Whip IMG_3236

STEP 4: Place silicon baking sheet over a cookie pan.

silicon baking sheet IMG_3238

STEP 5: Place four ice cream sandwiches together in center of baking sheet.  Spread a layer of frosting on top.

ice cream cake IMG_3244 ice cream cake

STEP 6: Repeat with two more layers of ice cream sandwiches.

ice cream cake ice cream cake

STEP 7: Frost the top and sides of cake.

ice cream cake ice cream cake

STEP 8: Allow cake to set in freezer for 1-2 hours.  Remove from baking sheet.  Slice and enjoy!

ice cream cake ice cream cake

kid's room decorating ideas for the not-so-crafty mom

Kid’s Room Decorating Ideas for the Not-So-Crafty Mom

As much as I would love to be amazingly handy, I have accepted that I am not a DIY prodigy.  Though I was a dedicated art student in high school, those creative talents did not translate into crafting abilities.

However, there are times when I have little bursts of inspiration, or ideas that somehow just work.  I know that there are other craft-challenged mamas out there, so I wanted to share a couple that are fun touches for a child’s bedroom and most importantly, are easy.

craft letters

These are wooden letters you can purchase for a couple bucks at any decor or art supply store.  I used a hot glue gun to adhere colorful pipe cleaners.  It’s a very simple process, though slightly time intensive.  I do have to admit that it was my mom who suggested this project, but what a great idea–I love how these turned out!

kid's room pipe cleaner letter wall art

Here is a look at the back side– it doesn’t have to be pretty– just make sure there is plenty of glue to keep the pipe cleaners attached.  Also, look for a pre-cut nail slot on the letters you purchase for easier wall hanging.

girl purses

This wall decor idea was even easier!  Lilu’s Grandma loves to buy her little purses, but she had accumulated so many that I started to get frustrated.  What could we even do with all of these?  One day I was drawn to a bare corner of her bedroom and decided to hang a few of the prettiest ones of the bunch.  Four little tacks, five minutes of “work” and voila!  Now this corner sparkles with Grandma’s gifts.

So don’t despair if you aren’t a Pinterest idol!  A kid’s bedroom doesn’t have to be fit for a home decor magazine– it just has to be fun and unique.  Repurposing some of your child’s prized possessions and creating eye-catching name art will make a regular room into their own special space.

West Virginia: A Travel Scrapbook

We are home at last after a whirlwind 4 days in West Virginia!  We spent most of the trip visiting family and I am so thankful Annabelle’s great-grandparents were able to get to know her better.  I look forward to one day being able to bring our entire family together to the place I call home.  We were so busy that I almost forgot to take photos at all, but here are the ones I managed to get– our travel scrapbook.

west virginia springIMG_3179

After two days of gloomy rain, the weather was absolutely beautiful for the last part of our stay.  We definitely took advantage and hiked the neighborhood every chance we got.  Try pushing a stroller up and down hills (something we don’t have in Texas) for 40 minutes– one of the best workouts I’ve had in a while!

tudor's biscuit world

This was the reason I had to exercise: Tudor’s Biscuit World.  I rarely eat gluten.  I don’t really like biscuits.  But there is something magical about Tudor’s that finds me starting my day, every day, with greasy, fluffy deliciousness when I’m in West Virginia.

IMG_3160 IMG_3141 IMG_3154

Annabelle stole the show everywhere she went and managed to convince everyone in the family to play “bouncy bounce” with her– though maybe not as high as Uncle Phil could!


Annabelle decided that this weekend was as good a time as any to master pulling up onto furniture.  Most of it was not exactly “baby-friendly” but we made it without any major boo-boos.  Very exciting to watch her determination!


Four generations: Granny, Mom, Annabelle, and I — so glad to be able to have this time with our family (including aunts, uncles, and great-grandparents not pictured here.)

west virginia state capitol

The beautiful West Virginia State Capitol building.  When the sun hits the gold dome it is a sight to see– I love this view!


Annabelle and I had lots of special time together– but we were ready to get home to Daddy and Lilu!

yeager airport runway

The airport here is tiny– and on top of a mountain!  This is the edge of the runway right before we turned around to takeoff back to Texas.  It’s always an adventure flying in and out of Yeager Airport!

west virginia hills

Our last view of the West Virginia hills– until next time!

baby travel

My Top Five Essentials for Stress-Free Airplane Travel with a Baby

Yesterday was Annabelle’s first time on an airplane, and we made it to our destination without any accidents, major meltdowns, or breakdowns.  We might have just gotten lucky (hopefully not, as we still have the flight home on Monday), but I thought I would share what are my five essentials for stress-free travel with a baby.

A Seat — This is important for both safety and practical purposes.  Yes, if the plane falls out of the sky we’re all in trouble.  However, if the plane skids off the runway (as happened to a commercial airliner last week), an unsecured lap baby might be the only one to be injured.  Not a chance I was willing to take to save a couple hundred bucks.  Second, holding a baby who LOVES to stand, jump, roll, and reach for things on the ground for three hours would be physically exhausting.  I did get Annabelle out for a while to stretch, but her seat gave her a place to relax and let my arms have a break.

baby travel

Sippy Cup — Friends suggested I nurse during takeoff and landing to prevent Annabelle’s ears from popping, but since she had an assigned seat I would not be allowed to do so (I believe it is a liability issue.)  Annabelle ditched her paci months ago, so that idea was also out the window.  She’s fairly new to the sippy cup, but I filled it with water and helped her get going.  She drank and chewed on it as we ascended and showed no signs of obvious discomfort.  (The picture below is immediately after touchdown– somehow that put Annabelle to sleep–the only shut-eye of the trip– flying was too exciting!)


Snacks — I was prepared to nurse if necessary, but let’s face it, West Virginia isn’t a major travel destination so our plane was tiny.  Trying to finagle a twenty pound squirmy baby and avoiding getting hit by the beverage cart or flashing everyone would be tricky.  I fed her some of my burger at the airport to fill her tummy with protein and brought a variety of snacks for the flight.  Puffs, teething biscuits, and fruit melts kept her satisfied.

Paci Wipes — I keep these in the diaper bag from back when Annabelle HAD to have her paci, but would frequently drop it.  If there’s no soap and water nearby, these really come in handy.  It was actually ME who dropped the lid for her sippy cup which rolled all the way under my seat.  Fortunately a quick swipe with the paci wipe meant I could make sure her cup stayed clean for when it was needed during our descent.

trendy teether IMG_3077 IMG_3063 trendy teether

Trendy Teether — One of my top five must-have baby products is the Zipadee-Zip.  I love it so much a wrote an unsponsored review a couple months ago simply because I wanted share what has been a total lifesaver for us.  Stephanie from Sleeping Baby was so kind as to send us one of their new creations, the Trendy Teether, which is a teething necklace for mom to wear.  I knew it would be perfect for traveling, as I could toss it around my neck and not worry about Annabelle dropping it, or it falling out of my purse like other toys.  As soon as Annabelle saw it she HAD to get her hands on it and she clutched it pretty much the entire flight– a total hit.  It’s not obvious that it is a baby toy– one of my relatives saw me take it off to hand to Annabelle and commented “ahh, so that is actually the baby’s necklace!”  Annabelle is cutting tooth number seven at the moment, so she is brutal on toys, but the Trendy Teether is very durable.  I’ll definitely be using it on a regular basis!

Obviously I was also equipped with a fully-stocked diaper bag, extra toys, books, and a blanket (though our plane was HOT), but the above items were what I relied on most heavily to make it to our destination with a happy baby and sane mommy.  I got lucky, as Annabelle did not mess her diaper, but she also did NOT nap, so it took a little work to keep her occupied and in one place for a long stretch of time.  Flying with an infant really isn’t that bad IF you are prepared, so hopefully my experience can help some other brave mamas in their upcoming travels!

traveling with baby

Traveling with Baby: The Night Before

Getting ready to go out of town is always stressful.  I thought that doing so with a baby would be doubly stressful, but here I sit relaxing on the eve of our departure.  Tomorrow morning myself, mom, and Annabelle are flying to West Virginia (which will always be our home base) to visit family.

Our bags are packed, save for a few toiletries I need in the morning.  Diaper bag is fully stocked with diapers, wipes, a spare change of clothes, towel, and plastic bags for dirty diapers.  My gigantic purse is stuffed with baby books, snacks, toys, towel, wallet, lip gloss, and sanitizer– quite different from its usual contents!  Annabelle and I are sharing one suitcase– an amazing accomplishment for a notorious over-packer.

Somehow I’ve managed to get the house in good shape, finish all the laundry and clean the turtle tank.  It’s so nice to come home to a clean house, so hopefully hubby will keep it that way while we are gone.

Speaking of hubby, this will be the longest we have been apart in over three years.  That will be the toughest part of the trip for me, though I know it must be worse for him since he will be home alone!  I’ve told him it will be like a mini-vacation and he can sleep as late as he wants, but somehow I think he’d rather have his girls around.

My number one travel tip and what I think made such a big difference in my level of preparedness is a packing list.  I started earlier in the week and within 30 seconds I had filled an entire notebook page.  At first it looked daunting, but it was a breeze to go down the list and tuck everything into my big suitcase.  I also made a to-do list of household and administrative tasks I needed to get done before leaving, as well as a couple of things for hubby to take care of (don’t worry, just minor stuff like taking out the trash on pickup day.)  I think I’ve become the queen of list-making!

I’m still rather impressed that I’ve gotten so much done– I actually feel like I’m ahead of the curve– I’m hoping it doesn’t mean I’m forgetting something!  And when I think ahead to tomorrow and the unknown of flying with a little powerhouse who might not want to sit still for three hours, and WILL need to nurse at some point whether it be airport or airplane, and always takes an afternoon poop, well, I think that tonight might have been the easy part!