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 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)


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.


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 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!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Mama Heart | I have a preschooler

This morning, at approximately 9:25 AM, I became the mother of an enrolled preschooler for the 2017-2018 school year. Even though we've been preparing for this for the past month, I still can't believe this day is here.

Victor and I have been researching preschools in the area for the past month. There were lots to choose from, but we only visited/toured four: two were at well-known child care/preschool centers. one was a Montessori school, and one was part of a nearby church. Far and away, our favorite school was the first we visited, which was the church preschool. Our back-up was one of the child care centers.

I really wanted Max to get into the church school. The classes are small (only 8-14 kids per three-year-old class), they incorporate Christian elements into their lessons, and I just loved the tight-knit, family-like community that was evident when we toured the school. An added bonus is that the school is walking-distance from our house (across the street from the Starbucks we like to walk to), so I could walk to pick him up on nice days.

I was worried Max wouldn't get a spot because after their church/alumni registration last Thursday, there were only 8 spaces left for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday "threes" program. Registration for the "community" was this morning beginning at 9 AM, and it was a first-come, first-served situation. I wanted to head over to the church by 8:30 AM to get in line, but in classic Rachel fashion, I didn't get out the door until 8:45 (perhaps if I had gotten up at 7--when my alarm went off--instead of 7:15, I could've left on time. Must get better at morning things!). I walked into the gathering room at the church at around 8:50 and I was number 20 in line...T W E N T Y ! My heart sank. I was sure we'd be wait-listed, at best. I buried myself in my book I brought along to pass the time, but I felt a pit in my stomach the whole time I waited. While our back-up school is a great option, my heart was set on this school.

However, once registration started, I noticed that many of the parents ahead of me were registering for the 4-year-old program or the 2-year-old program, and many of those registering for the 3-year-old program wanted a Tuesday/Thursday slot! In the end, Max got the 7th of the 8 available spaces for the Monday/Wednesday/Friday threes program! I happily handed over my registration paperwork and the enrollment check, thankful to no longer worry whether he would get in or not.

Max is so excited to go to school, so to celebrate his new status, I packed his little lunch in his doggy lunchbox today. His school is nut-free, though, so we have until September to get him interested in something other than the PB&J crowd-pleaser.

I can't believe my baby is going to preschool.

Friday, January 27, 2017

DIY Winter Wreath

I'm getting to that point in my adult life where I hate to see a "naked" front door (I'm assuming every woman gets to that point, right? No, just me?). I used to be a simple Christmas wreath type of gal, but I've become a believer in wreaths adorning my front door year-round. At this point, I'm sticking to seasonal wreaths, and I was missing a winter variety, so I got to work last Sunday and whipped one up! It's super easy, and as long as you've got a hot glue gun and a craft store near by (or some extra craft materials), you can make one this weekend, too!

**This type of wreath isn't recommended for front doors that are exposed to the elements (meaning not covered by a roof for a stoop or porch). If you don't have a covered front door, you could always hang this inside your house instead!

What you'll need:

  • one foam wreath in a size of your choice (I used 16 inch, which I think was a good size for a standard front door wreath)
  • fabric (I had some sparkly burlap lying around, so I used that instead)
  • faux flowers
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks

I found these cute bouquets/bunches of flowers, and they were on sale!

What you'll do:

1. Lay your wreath on top of your fabric and cut the fabric to size. Be sure to leave enough to wrap around the wreath fully and glue on the backside. 

2. Wrap your fabric around the foam and glue in place. I wrapped around the outside first and glued. Continue until you have wrapped around the outside of the entire wreath, and try to glue in the same space on the back of the wreath. I had to use two strips of burlap to cover my wreath, so I had to do some planning to ensure the edges met neatly.

3. Before you begin gluing the fabric that will come through the inside of the wreath, turn the wreath over and look at it from the front side to get an idea of how it will look. The fabric will inevitably bunch in some places, so make sure you like it before you glue it in place. Then glue the fabric to the back of the wreath.

4. After your wreath is wrapped completely, gather your flowers and pull them off the stems/bunches. For a more organic look, include some greenery, as well.

5. Arrange your greenery first, then glue in place. Place the leaves so they will peek out around the sides of the wreath, otherwise you might not see them after you glue on the flowers. I like to keep my flowers on just a third of the wreath, so I kept that in mind as I arranged the leaves.

6. Now it's time to add your flowers! Use A LOT of glue to ensure they stay put once you attach them (start-to-finish, I went through 3.5 glue sticks). Hold the flower in place for a bit after you apply the glue to be sure it catches and dries a bit.

7. Hang your wreath and admire your handwork! You can use a wreath hanger, or try out my wreath-hanging hack: install an upside-down Command Hook inside, near the top of your door. Then loop some ribbon or fishing wire around the wreath and over the top of the door. Secure it to your Command Hook inside with a knot. (click here for a visual)

I love how this turned out. I wanted the bright whites and soft pinks and greens, and the burlap adds a perfect rustic touch.

I hope you have a lovely, possibly crafty weekend!