Monday, March 20, 2017

Mama Heart | When Mama Needs a Minute

I had big plans for today's naptime. Lately I've been able to get about an hour of kid-free time in the afternoon when Max and Louisa's naps overlap (Praise the good Lord). Last week, I watched Ellen during that time since I was feeling pretty icky with a cold, but this week, I planned to be more productive. Today I wanted to work out, maybe do some laundry, and get started on filling some of the wall frames I've bought over the past two months. I also needed to tackle the breakfast and lunch dishes that were cluttering up my kitchen.

But after I got Max down and then Louisa down, I decided that I just needed to take a minute. Most days, I'd feel guilty about taking this selfish downtime, worrying about the piled-up dishes and the stacks of dirty laundry and the other tasks on my never-ending to-do list; normally, I'd feel so guilty that I would force myself to get up and tackle all of those tasks instead of taking a breather, hoping to get some time to relax once I took care of all my chores, only to have someone wake up right as I sat down, which would inevitably frustrate me and put me on edge.

Today was different, though. I sat down with a blanket, my book (Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain), and a glass of ice water and devoured chapter after chapter while the kids and the dog snoozed (the book is so good!). I had zero guilt. I knew all those chores would be waiting for me later. I'd get to them eventually. I needed to recharge, to have some quiet time alone. So I took a minute (or sixty, but who's counting?!)



I'll tell you what, I'm so glad I took that time today. Max woke up from his nap and was inexplicably angry with me, so thanks to my quiet time, I had more patience to deal with his moodiness and eventually calmed him down.  After Max was settled with some toys, I cleaned up those dishes in the kitchen...and I also wiped down the table and counters, put away a bunch of dishes, organized my coupons, and started a load of laundry. My little recharge gave me more energy!

I know I could find tasks to fill every second of my day. There's always something that needs to be done. But one really important thing I need to be sure I'm doing is taking care of me. My evenings are pretty jam-packed with making, eating, and cleaning up dinner, giving kids baths, putting kids to bed, and spending quality time with Victor. Louisa is on her third week of awful sleep, so my nights are far from restful. Currently, I'm finding it necessary to take a minute pretty much every afternoon, during that glorious naptime overlap. Some days that minute looks like it did today, with me curled up with a great book. Other days it might include a workout, perhaps some crafting, maybe watching a show or taking a nap. Eventually I'll get back to tackling chores--uninterrupted--during naptime, but for right now, mama needs to take a minute regularly, and that minute needs to be a selfish one.

Don't be afraid to do the same, mamas. Some days, we just need a minute.



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Currently | March 2017

It's time for another Currently post! I can't think of a better way to get back into the blogging swing of things...it's been a while!

Needing | To clean my floors. Louisa's crawling everywhere and the state of the knees of her pants at the end of the day are indicative of how badly my hardwood needs a bath. Don't judge.

Loving | That Max is so excited about going to school. Last Friday, he had me pack his lunch in his lunch box so he could practice for school. Then yesterday he loaded a bunch of instruments into his backpack and waited by the front door, saying, "Fool bus, where are vou?" Never mind the fact that it was 5 PM...or that it was a snow day...or that he will be walked or driven to school...or that he won't even start school until September. He's ready NOW!

Giggling | Over Max's pose after Louisa got her newest set of passport photos taken on Monday (I had them taken back when she was just a couple of months old, but then we never applied for her passport, so we needed to take new ones). I had to have my foot on the stool and have Louisa sit on my leg to get a good photo, so Max thought that was the way everyone got their photo taken there. Too cute.


Louisa was about 2 months old on the left and nearly 10 months old on the right!

Wanting | New couches! We have leather-ish reclining couches right now, and while I love how easy they are to clean (just a quick wipe down does the trick!), I think they're ugly. One of the recliners on the big couch is broken, so we're looking into getting it fixed, and if that doesn't work, we might replace everything. I'm thinking something like this or this. I just have to convince Victor to get non-reclining couches. And that hasn't been going so well.

Listening | On Sunday while Louisa was napping, Max, Victor, and I hung out in our home office and watched Michael Jackson music videos on YouTube. Max loves "Beat It" and pretty much any other song that has a great dancing beat. He's even starting to sing along to the song!

Reading | I just finished All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner last night. It was okay; I've enjoyed other books by Jennifer Weiner more. I started reading Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain, and it's already got me intrigued. I always try to update what I'm reading and what I've read on Goodreads, so find me there if you want to follow along!

Watching | I watched the finale of This Is Us last night. There were tears. I'm so glad it's on for at least two more seasons! Victor and I watched Mike Birbiglia's latest comedy special, "Thank God for Jokes" on Netflix last weekend. I thought it was hilarious. I've always loved his stand-up. 

Sipping | All the coffee. Louisa's sleep has been awful lately, so I've been downing the caffeine. I also bought a bottle of watermelon wine for the snowstorm and had instant heartburn after just a few sips. So much for trying to let loose lol

Cooking | I made spaghetti for dinner last night, which Max refused to eat. He's refused it the last several times I've made it, which is discouraging because the kid used to put down two plates full in one sitting before. I also made Astleigh Hill's Shepherd's Pie on Sunday (highly recommend) and for St. Patrick's Day, I'm making baked fish and chips from the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook. A week of good eats!

Look at that enthusiasm. This was taken exactly a year ago yesterday, March 14, 2016.

Dreaming | Of Louisa only waking once throughout the night. Lately she's been waking up screaming 4-5 times. I'm wondering if she's about to cut another tooth, although I don't see any evidence of one popping through. Hopefully this terrible sleep phase ends soon.

Celebrating | The kids' birthdays in May, which means it's time to start party planning! I want to do a joint birthday party with a puppy theme because #crowdpleaser, but Max keeps saying he wants a dinosaur party with a dinosaur cake. I keep trying to convince him that a puppy party will be more fun, but he isn't buying it yet.

Swooning | Over everything Joanna Gaines touches. The kids and I watched a few episodes of Fixer Upper yesterday, and I've decided that Jojo just needs to come and work her magic on this house of mine. Seriously, Jo, take all my money and make my house beautiful, please and thank you.

Going | Nowhere notable in the foreseeable future, and I'm totally okay with that. I need to get this house in order and get my kid potty-trained, so staying close to home is exactly what we need!

Amazed | At how much Louisa is changing and learning lately. When we went to Arizona on March 1, she was crawling at a snail's pace. While we were on vacation, she learned how to sit herself back on her bottom from crawling, and she started pulling up on low-lying surfaces. Now she's a super-speedy crawler, and if you try to sit her down on the floor, she'll refuse to bend at the hip and instead tries to take steps while you support her. She's also becoming very independent and loves to crawl to find whatever strikes her fancy at the moment. I can't believe she'll be one in just a few short months!

She found Supergirl in a sea of Ninja Turtles and other superhero guys.

Hoping | This snow melts and the trees start blooming again. After having late-spring-like weather at the end of February and spending a week in Arizona at the beginning of this month, I am SO over winter!

Wondering | Which of my neighbors received my latest shipment of Chatbooks, because despite what the tracking info says, it most certainly was not delivered to my mailbox on Saturday. We get other people's mail at our house all the time, more here than anywhere else I've lived (which leads me to believe it's an issue with mail sorting at our post office/our mail carrier), and it's super frustrating. Hopefully I can track them down. I've already been in touch with Chatbooks and they're being super helpful, but I think the USPS needs to take the fall for this one. Or maybe whoever received the package by mistake can get it to me soon. Is that having too much faith in humanity? I mean, what random person wants 5 books full of photos of my family?

Hope you're having a warm, wonderful week!



Friday, February 24, 2017

Oh hey, Friday! | Stuff I need to do

I haven't linked up for an Oh hey, Friday! post in a while, so I thought I'd get back on the wagon! We have had a lovely week of gorgeous weather here in Maryland--highs in the mid-70s yesterday and today! I walked around a local outdoor shopping center with the kids yesterday in a tank top (and plenty of sunblock). It was amazing!

And now, time to share some stuff I need to do (meaning I should be doing these things instead of writing this post, but I missed you!)

1 | Pack. The kids and I head to Arizona next week! I'm so excited, and thanks to the warmer weather here, I've been able to easily get into the frame of mind necessary to pack for desert weather. I had to buy Max some new shorts since he's outgrown all of his from last summer, as well as new bathing suits for the three of us (I've gone full-fledged into mommy-bathing-suit mode with my two new one-piece suits. I'm actually super excited to be fully covered and comfortable, plus they're cute!). I started throwing stuff I wanted to pack into a plastic storage bin this week and storing it up on a shelf, since packing it in a suitcase this early is a surefire way to have it all emptied onto my bedroom floor by my curious toddler multiple times before we leave. Also, I'm a notorious over-packer, so I'm hoping that this way I can reconsider everything as I pack it into the suitcases and maybe weed out some unnecessary items.

This photo is from our trip in 2015. Can't wait for daily walks among the palm trees with my sis!

2 | Fold and put away Max's laundry. It's only been sitting in the dryer since last night. Not too shabby. Also, half of the stuff can go straight into the Arizona bin!

3 | Write thank you notes. I've slowly been working on thank you notes for Louisa's baptism (I wrote a post with tips for writing thank you notes a while back. Check it out here!). She received some pretty amazing gifts. I was truly blown away by the beautiful, heartfelt gifts people gave her. Items she will treasure forever.

4 | Convince Victor to turn our formal dining room into a music room. Seriously. We never eat in there. The space just collects dust. The room is too small for the table we have anyway. We should sell it, then buy a piano, move Max's drums and Victor's guitars in, and have family jam sessions in there on the reg. I'd even go so far as to take piano lessons myself to sweeten the deal. We can always turn it back into a dining room again someday if we want. It's a great idea. I know it is.

5 | Play outside. As I mentioned earlier, it's going to be in the mid-70s again today. Must go outside with the kiddos! Perhaps we'll picnic in the yard again.

Hope you all have a great weekend! Any fun plans?


Linking up with 
Karli and Amy



Monday, February 20, 2017

Mama Heart | My pancakes are the worst

You guys...how on earth do you make a decent pancake?! No matter how many times I try, I mess them up somehow; they're either too thin, undercooked, rubbery, or burned. I can never seem to get them right!

Is it too much to ask for my pancakes to look like this? (Perhaps I should try this recipe)

via

This morning, I tried a new recipe for homemade pancakes. While the batter was perfection and they were the fluffiest pancakes I've ever made, they still were all slightly burned (if I hadn't burned them, they would've been undercooked). Seriously, what's the trick? Do I need to get a big electric skillet? I just use a ceramic skillet/frying pan on the stove. Today I tried cooking spray on the skillet. In the past, I've used butter. Regardless, I still burn them. Is a big, nonstick skillet--like the one Christina Braverman uses on Parenthood--the way to go? (I tried to find an image of her making pancakes from the show and I can't find a single one...which is weird, because I feel like she's always making pancakes on the show).

Tell me your secrets! I don't want my kids to forever joke with one another about how mom sucks at making pancakes. There are many other things that I'm fine with being terrible at: soccer, making pork chops, playing with Play Doh, taking the clothes out of the dryer before they get wrinkled beyond recognition. However, I refuse to botch pancakes for the rest of my days. Unacceptable. I won't do it.

So help a sister out and tell me your tricks. Because I don't want my kids to have to settle for these their entire lives.


I will say, they were delicious once you got past the burned outer layer. But toddlers don't eat things that are burned. There's gotta be a better way!







Friday, February 17, 2017

Currently | February 2017

I'm back with another Currently post! I mentioned last month that I wanted to make this a monthly occurrence, and so far, I'm sticking with that goal!

Needing | A mani/pedi. If you saw my Instagram story last night, you know that I attempted to paint my nails after the kids went to bed, only to ruin them nearly immediately. I took all the polish off this morning. I think I'll treat myself to a professional one in the next week or so.

Wanting | To decorate upstairs in our house. We've done a pretty good job decorating the main level and basement of our house, I think since those are the levels that most people see. But upstairs is bland and boring. The only areas that have decorations are Max's room, Louisa's room, and the guest room that my sister stayed in when she lived with us last summer. We have nothing on the walls in the hallway or in our master bedroom. I've been collecting frames and other items to make a few gallery walls, but nothing has come to fruition yet. Hopefully soon!

Loving | That Louisa seems to have come out of her sleep regression and is back to only waking once to nurse overnight. Of course, now that I'm bragging about it, she'll probably start sleeping crappily again just to spite me lol

Listening | Most recently, we've been listening to a lot of the Toddler station on Pandora. It's full of Disney songs, which is amazing.

Reading | I finished First Comes Love by Emily Giffin last month. It was a pretty good read, so I'd recommend it. I also just finished The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines. I just love those two. Their story and relationship is so inspiring. I'm currently reading The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain. I've never read one of her books, but my sister loves the author and just lent me a bunch of her books, so I'm getting started on the pile. So far, so good!

Watching | I went down the rabbit hole of watching Parenthood on Netflix again, and now I can't stop. This is my third time watching the entire series (I think...maybe the 4th). It's just so good. I love the Bravermans. I'm also watching This Is Us on Tuesdays. For some reason, I don't cry often when I watch TIU despite the often heavy plot lines, but I always cry watching Parenthood

Sipping | Coffee and water. B O R I N G. Sometimes I'll have Sprite with a splash of grenadine (Shirley Temple, anyone?!) Also, this was my answer last month. I'll say it again: B O R I N G !

Cooking | Chrissy Teigen's Pot Pie Soup (I shared an article with the recipe on my blog Facebook page yesterday). OMG it's so good. I made it Wednesday night for dinner and I've had it for lunch the past two days. Make it before the weather warms up! It's savory and scrumptious!

Dreaming | Of spring and summer. The weather here in Maryland has been all kinds of wonky lately. It goes from highs in the 60s to highs of 30s with crazy winds at the drop of a hat. We're getting more spring-like weather this weekend, which we'll enjoy hopefully with a family walk to Starbucks and some backyard adventures. I just want the warm weather to stick around, though. My sinuses don't appreciate the back-and-forth nonsense.

Celebrating | We're getting close to a whirlwind three months of birthdays for our family. My father-in-law at the end of March; my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and hubby in April; my dad (in heaven), Max, and Louisa in May. We're going to be eating so much cake! Gonna rest up now in preparation lol

Swooning | Over my Chatbooks! I've heard friends gush about this service, so I had to check it out for myself. I've already done all the work chronicling my life on Instagram, so I love that Chatbooks picks up where I left off and puts all my photos in a book! I'm playing catch-up and going back into my Instagram archives, receiving 5 books per month until I'm up-to-date. I just received my second shipment of 5 books, and I'm in love! The app is super user-friendly, too. If you love to share photos on social media but never do anything with them afterward (like me), check out Chatbooks! (I shared my affiliate link, which will get you your first Chatbook FREE!)


Going | To Arizona in less than two weeks! I have so much laundry and packing to do! And I need to mentally prepare to fly by myself with both kids...just to Indianapolis, where my sister will meet up with us and then fly the rest of the way to Phoenix. I'm so excited. Arizona is one of my most favorite places ever.

Amazed | At how quickly laundry piles up. I have so much laundry to do. And ironing. I hate ironing.

Hoping | To take a little nap this afternoon during the kids' naps. A little midday snooze is always a good idea.

Dreading | Potty training. We've dabbled in the act here and there, but after Arizona I'm kicking it into high gear. Any tips? Best practices? Words of encouragement?

Wondering | How long the clothes will sit in the dryer before I fold them.


Have a great weekend!



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Baptized | Louisa Maria

On February 4, our little Louisa was welcomed to the Catholic faith through the sacrament of baptism. We chose my cousin, Lauren, as her godmother and our good friend, George, as her godfather. After the ceremony at the church, we hosted a huge party at our house (70+ people; it's the Portuguese way lol) and enjoyed delicious Portuguese food and a wide variety of desserts. It was a lovely celebration for a sweet little bitty. We're so grateful for all who helped us celebrate. She's one lucky little girl to have so many people who love and care about her.

And now for the photo dump. 

Madrinha (Portuguese for "godmother") dressing the babe

Louisa's baptismal dress is never-worn vintage. Victor's maternal grandmother bought that dress when my mother-in-law was pregnant with Victor, as she was convinced he was a girl. My mother-in-law has held onto that dress for 36+ years, hoping she would have a granddaughter who could wear it one day. Louisa was happy to oblige and I was so glad we could honor Victor's late grandmother on this special day.


These two. The cutest.





Father John has baptized both of our kids.


Padrinhos




Louisa's godfather is well-versed in raising girls: here he is with his beautiful family.


Lauren's parents (on the left) and my Aunt Sue drove all the way out from Ohio to celebrate with us. It was the first time any of them had been out to visit us here in Maryland. It was great to have them stay with us.

Our two kiddos and their godparents


My Aunt Sue is both my godmother and my cousin's godmother. It's going to be hard to top Aunt Sue in the godmother department; she's quite possibly the best there is.




So grateful for my mom and sister and their help in tying up all the loose ends the two days before the baptism. I had done a lot of prep ahead of time (including setting up tables and chairs in the basement the weekend before with my in-laws--also so grateful for their help!), but there is always more to do than there is time to do it! My mother-in-law also ordered all the food and set that all up right before the party--I wouldn't be able to throw such a big gathering without her expertise and assistance. She makes it look easy!


I just did a few DIY decorations and some mason jar flower arrangement centerpieces for the decor. Simple but very pretty. The wooden heart sign has hung in Louisa's room for forever, but I gave it a little facelift the week before the baptism. The fabric for the garland is leftover from the crib rail covers I made, and I already had the paper and glitter letter stickers on hand for the boho flags.


For favors, we gifted everyone with a framed photo of Louisa in her baptismal gown. We still have lots left over if anyone wants one (I kid...but I'm also serious).




My Aunt Sue made Louisa's custom onesie, as well as the quilt on the wall in the above photo. She's a very talented seamstress.


Max and his cousin Jayden might start a band one day. They were so cute playing together.


So many desserts





I made Louisa's party tutu from ribbon, strips of fabric, and tulle. I'm planning to do a tutorial here soon! Her moccasins are from Sweet N Swag.

Thanks again to all who helped us celebrate this blessed day!



Monday, February 13, 2017

Mama Heart | To the people who love my kids

I just wanted to send a big fat thank you to all the people in my life who take an active interest in my kids. Nothing warms this mama's heart more than knowing that there are slews of people out there who find joy in my kids. Their lives are more enriched by having you in them, and they look forward to spending time with each of you.


To my mom and sister: thank you for your frequent trips to Maryland, either by car or plane, to spend even just 24 hours with these kids. Max anticipates your visits and is so sad when you leave. Louisa is learning who you both are and is beginning to understand that you'll be permanent figures in her life. Our FaceTime dates are so important to them, as well. Our visits to your neck of the woods are just as special.

To my mother- and father-in-law: thank you for playing with these two babies every week and for all of your free babysitting. Max loves going to Vovo's house on Wednesdays, and they both are so lucky to have such involved grandparents who live just around the corner.

To my brother- and sister-in-law: Max is floored whenever he can see and play with you. If either one of you is absent from a big family dinner, he's asking where you are. Louisa also loves the extra snuggles. Thank you for being the "cool" and "hip" titios. We'll happily return the favor when you start having kids.

To my aunts, uncles, and cousins back in Ohio: thank you for welcoming my little kids to all of our family events and catering to our crazy schedules. It's quite a departure from the norm as it's been over a decade since we had a baby or toddler in the family. They both love seeing and playing with you all, and I love witnessing you guys interact with little people...you all light up!

To our friends here and elsewhere: thank you for sharing your families with ours. I'm so glad our kids will be friends and grow up together. Even if they only see you and your kids when we visit Ohio or plan a reunion of sorts, it still warms my heart to see our kids together.

It's true when they say that it takes a village to raise a child. Your involvement in my kids' lives is such a blessing, both for them and for me as their mom. I'm so grateful for this village of mine!