Thoughts for Thursday: Lately

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nothing will make a week fly by faster than having to catch an 8:30am flight on Friday morning. On top of packing, shopping, prepping the house, matron of honor speech writing, and last minute travel to-dos, we also managed to pack in a bunch of other stuff this week.

+ We headed to my hometown's annual street fair (fun fact: it's the largest street fair in Pennsylvania) with my mom. I've gone every year since I was a little kid, except for last year when Hadley was brand new. It's fun to bring the girls now -- there's nothing quite like seeing Carrie's eyes light up on the carousel or eating junk food in the middle of Main Street. When I was in school, they'd give us a half day during fair week and we'd all walk down to eat french fries and sit on rides with cute boys. It still kind of kicks off the fall season for me!

+ I grabbed a drink (and by a drink, I mean a large iced coffee because mom life) with a couple of friends last night to say "see you later" to a girlfriend who is moving to TX. I'll miss you, Annie! (PS - I picked up this cute mug for her as a little parting gift.)

+ I've been thinking a lot about the massive devastation in Puerto Rico. Do you know that almost half of Americans didn't know Puerto Rico's residents are American citizens? If you've found good ways to help, let me know.

+ I have been binge watching Friday Night Lights for about a month and then they announced they're taking the show off of Netflix 10/1! So I basically have one night to finish a little more than half of the last season. But, man, the show is good. So good that I haven't even caught up on the season premier of This Is Us yet. I heard that they reveal a big hint as to how Jack dies during the first episode, which means I'll definitely need to stock up on more tissues before watching. Sigh.

+ I used a gift card from my birthday (thanks Ash!) to get a gel manicure for the wedding and I forgot how much I love getting one. Gel is the only way to go as a parent, as far as I'm concerned. These things are indestructible! ;) In all seriousness, getting my nails done regularly isn't a priority for me BUT it is kind of amazing how put together it makes me feel. 

Well, off to pick up contacts at the eye doctor, drop Steve off at the auto service place, pack our carry on bags, and head to back-to-school night at C's preschool. I won't be back until after the wedding -- can't wait to share pictures! Have a great weekend, friends!

Toddler Meals

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

If you have kids, how does dinner go down in your house? 

Dinner time around here can either be a complete you-know-what show ;) or pretty great because there is complete, beautiful silence while everyone chews. In all seriousness, I aspire for it to be a time when our little family can gather around a table, eat, and catch up about our days. We have a "no technology" rule, so phones are off limits during dinner. We try to sit down together, but I admit that the girls sometimes end up eating before us.

shredded grilled chicken, sweet potato fries, peaches and salad

I usually make the girls the same thing we have, occasionally with a few tweaks. For instance, last night Steve and I had chicken caesar salads so I just cut up the chicken for the girls with some shredded cheese and gave them each a side veggie and a side fruit.

left: minced up steak, rice, broccoli // right: cheesy rice (like knorrs), grilled chicken, peas

There's no "clear your plate" rule here, but I do ask that Carrie (and will do the same for Hadley when she gets a bit older) eat a decent amount of each food before she gets dessert. Dessert is always the driving factor around these parts, and I am not above a bribe. Carrie loves Outshine fruit & veggie ice pops, but she only gets one if she's given a good effort to trying what's on her plate. For instance, she'll polish off a fruit within seconds, but she must also eat at least a few bites of her protein and veggie to earn dessert. Then, when she says she's full, that's fine by me!

a lunch example: all natural pb & j crackers, fresh peaches, shredded cheese

We're far from an organic-only, all natural household but the girls drink organic milk and I try to steer clear of artificial dyes or lots of ingredients I can't pronounce/extra sugar. Like most families, we have limited and sometimes frenzied time in the evenings so dinners are usually simple but we try to make them somewhat wholesome. Some nights are better than others. :) One night it might be steak, veggies, and potatoes and one night it's a grilled cheese and applesauce pouch. It's all about balance, right?

we don't do hot dogs too often but Applegate makes good ones, plus sweet potato fries & creamed corn

I know every family does things differently and I also know every family probably has their own genius tips and tricks, so I'd love to hear... how do you do dinner? What has worked well for you? 

PLUS! Here are some more ideas for simple toddler dinners:

scrambled eggs (my girls love them!), whole grain toast, turkey sausage

meatballs, spaghetti, broccoli

baked chicken, potatoes, peas

homemade pizzas - veggies on top or a side salad (do your kids like salad?)

chicken and veggie quesadillas sliced up, side of fruit

soup with the "guts" scooped out (C loves chicken noodle, H did well with chili)

grilled pb&j with carrot sticks and side of fruit

black beans, brown rice, chilled corn

Five on Friday: 5 Fall Basics

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Autumn, officially! 

It's in the mid-80s here in NJ, but the house is all fall-ified (making it a thing) and I've had more than a few pumpkin spice coffees, so... we'll just pretend the air is crisp. :)

Today I wanted to share 5 pieces of clothing I've purchased so far for fall. Here are a few things about shopping these days: 1. Most of the time it's for the girls, but I realized I deserve to feel/look put together occasionally too ;) and to not wear stretched out sweaters from my college days. Most of my old clothes actually don't fit me well anymore since my body changed so much after having kids. 2. I love fashionable yet impractical dresses, skirts, shoes, you name it (and I do mean love) -- but for every day, I need to focus on spending my money on pieces I will actually wear often. They need to be comfortable but also cute. 3. Speaking of spending, there are enough expenses with two small kids without breaking the bank on said pieces of clothes. Luckily, there are many inexpensive yet quality places to shop and most stores run great sales often. 

With all that said, here is the wrinkliest clothing photo you've ever seen:

1. Sweatshirt with tie. Love this for cooler temps, and love the tie detail. I bought this during the Nordstrom anniversary sale for $29, and it's actually on sale now too! Size down (way down) -- I got an xxs petite.

2. Dark skinny jeans (with stretch waistband!). I have sung the praises of these jeans before -- another anniversary sale purchase so I got them for around $40. The stretch waist band is life changing. Keep an eye out for a sale!

3. Green top with crochet detail. This was a Target find and I've already worn it more than I care to admit.

4. Three quarter sleeve twist top. I just bought this yesterday at TJ Maxx (another great place for quality + great prices) and can't wait to wear it. So comfortable and I love the twist detail at the bottom. I linked a similar top, though a bit more pricey.

5. Peplum hem t-shirt. Another Target steal that is so. comfortable. I can picture throwing this on with jeans (or even shorts) now, and layering a sweater over it during the winter. Another one I couldn't find to link, but linked a similar style. Take a look in-store at Target for this one, though - you can't beat the $15 price tag!

So there you have it! Five fall basics that you'll wear non-stop until it's borderline unacceptable. Notice that each piece has something unique about it. That's what I love! It's all in the details. ;) Have a great weekend, friends!

Bright Lights, Big City

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I didn't really plan this post, it just sort of happened, the way some of the most fun and memorable things sometimes do. My cousin Gina, who has been by my side since I was born (she lives a state away but we still manage to see each other pretty often), is getting married in a little over a week! I'm the matron of honor and Carrie is the flower girl. A few months ago, I met her in NYC to accompany her to Kleinfeld to look for her dress (any Say Yes to the Dress fans? Camille was her attendant!). She found the one, and yesterday she invited me to go with her to her final dress fitting. After confirming that my in laws were available to hang out with the girls, I bought my bus tickets and found myself in the middle of the big apple in a little under two hours. 

First we walked to a couple of shops and then hopped on the subway to grab some lunch at Eataly before the appointment. Nothing will make you feel like a country bumpkin quite as much as sliding your metro card about 4 times before realizing that it's charged you $2 each time and you should've pushed your way through the metal spinner. Not my finest moment (and I should know better -- this is far from my first time in the city), but I digress. ;) Lunch was delicious: fresh bread, a tasty salad, and a (generous) glass of prosecco to celebrate the occasion. After lunch we made our way to Kleinfelds. If you've never been there, it does look very much like it appears on the show. The lobby is pretty grand and, of course, the dresses are to die for. As we waited for Gina's appointment down in alterations, the owners walked past us, clearly in the middle of some sort of business meeting.

The dress appointment went well, and afterward we had just enough time to grab some coffee at Starbucks before she headed to her train and I headed to my bus. On the drive home, I reflected a bit about being in the city. I'm from a small town but I live in the suburbs of a pretty big city now, and growing up I always had dreams of moving to NYC to work in the magazine business. I've traveled there for work and play quite a few times and have had the chance to see some pretty cool places: the New York Times building, Wall Street, the New York City ballet, the offices of some major lifestyle magazines, and more. I've learned over the years that I don't think I'm made to live in the city, but I love to visit. I love that all around you are people from every walk of life, every age, every stage, with every type of style and personality you could dream up. It's kind of nice being part of a sea of people -- it takes the pressure off of you and makes you realize that you really are an individual piece of a massively large puzzle.

Until next time, New York!

Fall Cookin': Crockpot Chili

Monday, September 18, 2017

How was your weekend? Ours was good. It was one of those perfect combinations of eventful, lazy, and productive that almost never happens but is so nice when it does. On Saturday we went to a fall fest at the park across the street where we ate snow-cones and sweated our butts off. Carrie sat in a police car and went down a big blow-up slide and poor Haddie cooked in her stroller (she's a runner, guys) while sneaking sips of my smoothie. Yesterday we went to a friend's 3rd birthday party and ran some errands. We also hung a few things on the wall, did some overdue laundry and cleaning, and I watched Friday Night Lights until Netflix asked me if I was still watching. ;) Yes indeed, a weekend well spent.

On the menu was crockpot chili, and I had been looking forward to making it all week. I followed a new recipe from Chowhound and it did not disappoint. In fact, all four members of the family (five if you count the dog, and she did enjoy some thanks to Haddie's generosity!) ate it -- you moms know how rare a 100% approval rating can be. In my mind, fall = crockpot and chili is a staple. Top with some shredded cheddar cheese and corn bread crumbles and you're good to go! 

If you're going to prep chili, you need to be sipping on pumpkin coffee. As my three year old would say, "those are the rules." :)

The messiest & cutest chili eater of them all.

If you decide to try it out, let me know how you like it. Wishing you a great start to the week! 

First Day of School + The Best Play Clothes

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Last Friday Carrington had her first official day of 3s preschool! 

Dress ($8!) // Shoes (I got these on a ridiculous sale for $10 - looks like there is just pink now, but still super cute!)

It was a beautiful morning -- it really felt like the first day of school, if you know what I mean. We were all excited (except Layla, she wasn't too thrilled). Carrie has changed and grown so much in the last year and even just over the summer, and I couldn't wait to send her off on this latest adventure to see what else she might discover and learn. 

She has the same teachers as last year and even a few friends in her class, so I think the familiarity will really help with a smooth transition. She barely looked back at me as I tried to give her one last kiss and squeeze, instead running over to drop her goldfish in snack trey and "check in" with one of her teachers. For tradition's sake, I had her pose before we left with her first day of school chalkboard which is pretty simple and just says how old she is and what she wants to be when she grows up. She told me, "a doctor and a mommy!" I love that girl.

Haddie still naps in the morning and it actually perfectly overlaps with school hours, which has given me a couple of solid hours to work, and has already been so helpful. When Hadley drops her morning nap, I'll look forward to taking her to library story time or some other activity and having that one-on-one time with her. Second kids don't get that too often. :)

On a totally random note, but because I wouldn't feel right not telling you: the Jumping Beans line from Kohls has the best and most affordable play clothes. This is not sponsored in any way and if you know me IRL, you've heard me say it a million times -- but it's true! The prices are excellent and the quality has proven to be great, too. It's become a staple in both of my kids' closets! I love an adorable Janie & Jack outfit or something precious from Tucker + Tate but I also have come to realize that sometimes you just want less than $10 clothes that can be splattered with paint and withstand a game of tag at the playground, all while looking cute. 

Happy Wednesday!

Remembering Dad

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I remember when I was ten and in fifth grade, a classmate asked me out on the playground when my dad died. I told him "four years ago," and in my ten-year-old mind, that seemed like an eternity. I guess it was nearly half of my short life. 

Twenty years later, and the number 24 circles in my mind. A big number. A lot of years. 

When my dad died on September 10, 1993, the world was so different. Pre-2001, of course. Computers were big and boxy and still pretty mysterious to many. My dad loved technology, and I can't help but wonder what he'd think of iPads and phones barely larger and more heavy than a playing card. I wonder where he'd be in his career; maybe almost retired. I wonder if he'd still sneak out to play tennis on sunny mornings, and if maybe I'd join him. I never pass a tennis court without thinking of him. I wonder whether he would have made his dream of owning a bagel shop come true. More often than I'd like to admit, I wonder what it would feel like to hug him; to say, "Hi Dad," like most of you do. Like it's the most normal thing in the world.

As I get older, I wonder how many of my limited memories of him are actually real or if I've made up some out of the stories other people have told. It doesn't matter, really. I like them all. My favorites, though, are the ones where it was only him and me: those I know must be real. Like holding onto his back while he swam across the pool, or sneaking ice pops into the camping tent he put up right in the middle of the den. Or the time he picked me up at the bus stop, a rare and special treat. I remember, one night as we sat in the firelight listening to records, asking him how he knew all of the words to the songs. It amazed me. He assured me that one day I'd be able to sing along, too, and to this day I have this uncanny and mostly useless ability to quickly memorize and recall lyrics to almost any song. You were right, dad.

As much as I miss my dad from a daughter's perspective, as I've gotten older I've missed him in so many other ways. Mostly, I miss him for my mom, who lost her husband in the damn prime of their lives, with two small children and so much still ahead of them. I miss him for my brother, who looks so much like him and embodies so many of his qualities. I miss him for his siblings, and I miss him for his one-time friends. I miss him for all of the people who passed in and out of his life but who he made an impression on. My mom met a woman only a couple of years ago who had worked at the front desk of the racquet club he frequented and who immediately remembered him and how sad she was when she had learned of his passing. 

But then I think about how each of these people -- my mom, especially -- has helped him to live on. What a powerful thing, right? That somebody can be gone for 2.5 decades, and yet we still grieve them, think about them, wonder if they'd be proud. They still count, even though they're not next to us anymore. And in that way, are they ever really gone? Do we die so long as our spirit lives on in others?

I'm not sure... but I like that idea. So today, 24 years later, I'll feel him in the warmth of the sunshine, recognize him in my restless soul, see him in the eyes of his grandchildren, and I'll smile.

Five on Friday

Friday, September 8, 2017

Was anyone else majorly thrown off by the short week? Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that it's already Friday, but for some reason losing a day this week completely threw me. Maybe it's because it was back to school week for us, too! In fact, today is C's official first day back -- she's there as I post this, and I can't wait to hear all about her morning at pick up. 

So because it's already Friday and because it's been a strange and busy week, here are five random thoughts for you this morning:

+ Of course, Florida has been on my mind as Hurricane Irma looms close. I know everyone is feeling extra terrified, and rightfully so, because of the devastation Harvey caused in Houston so very recently. We have friends and family in Florida and I'm keeping them close in my thoughts and prayers. I just read about this interesting new way to donate -- 100% of the proceeds will help hurricane victims.

+ C is still loving gymnastics. It's fun as your kids get older to explore various activities and see what they seem to naturally gravitate to. I love uncovering Carrie's interests, and can't wait to see what Hadley becomes interested in, too. 

+ Let's talk Halloween costumes. And the fact that I already have them. C has been asking to be a unicorn for a couple of months and insisting H be one too (#secondkidprobs). So when we came across the most adorable costumes at Target, I scooped up two.

+ Have you heard of Tuckernuck? They have the cutest stuff but they're one of those places where I fill up my online cart but never actually buy anything (anyone else?). Well, they're running an extra 25% off final sale and here are three of my favorite pieces to take you from summer into fall, all well under $40: 

The back on this one is adorable.

Ohhh, how I love this. Originally almost $200!

Everyone needs a fun jacket. For under $20, you can't go wrong!

+ What are you guys watching right now? I'm a little ashamed to admit I'm still tuning into Bachelor in Paradise. Oh, it is so cheesy. Worse than ever before, really. I could go really, embarrassingly far into it so if you're watching and want to chat, let me know! Ha! Other than that I'm in the middle of Friday Night Lights and The Keepers on Netflix, and I can't wait until This Is Us comes back.

Enjoy your weekend!

Thoughts for Thursday: Privacy in the Era of Display

Thursday, September 7, 2017

As excited as I was about re-starting a blog and as sure as I was that this was the avenue I wanted to pursue, one pesky hesitation lingered: how would I blend sharing my life and thoughts in an authentic way while also protecting the privacy of my family?

I know it seems kind of crazy; the two goals (sharing what's precious to me, and guarding what's precious to me) couldn't be more opposing. If blogging was just about sharing thoughts through words, that would be one thing, but let's be honest: it's all about images. Remember when Facebook statuses were mostly just text? How often do you see text-only statuses now? Instagram and Snapchat are so popular because they revolve around images (and now videos), and Facebook has mostly turned into a platform to share pictures, as well. Do you use Pinterest? Then you know what I mean. Most of us are visual beings, so it all makes sense. Except: how do we find balance in a world that is designed to put it all on display while also protecting the safety, privacy, and dignity of our loved ones?

If it were just me, I wouldn't be too concerned. I'm a consenting adult who can carefully, thoughtfully think through the effects of the decisions I make. I can share the images that I feel best represent me, don't embarrass me, and don't put me at risk. But because what has inspired me to re-join this world are my kids (motherhood and all that comes along with it) -- I've found myself stumped. Sure, I'll share a photo here and there on the blog of my daughters, but I question each and every one. Will they be embarrassed I posted this one day? Does this put them in danger in any way? 

It is the main reason I keep my social media fairly private (although you can find The Lucky Lifestyle on Facebook here). I'm a proud momma, and my Instagram, for instance, is basically made up of daily pictures of my kids. It is an authentic representation of my life right now: our world very largely revolves around our girls. So while I'd love to connect with you all on Instagram, right now I'm asking that you send a request my way so I can still vet who has such access to the little people who mean the most to me.

So back to that original question: how do I blend sharing my life and thoughts in an honest way while also protecting my children? I haven't found the answer. Maybe there is no answer. Maybe I'm overreacting. Maybe I'm not acting enough. So for now, I do what I feel is right in my gut and take it step by step, post by post. I do share images and will continue to do so, but until I figure out the right balance I understand that the growth I'd love more than anything to see here might be slow going. Thank you for your patience and support as I figure out what's best for this space and, most importantly, my family.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. There is no right or wrong -- the above has just been my personal tug-of-war and I'd be so appreciative of hearing how you navigate this era of putting everything out there into the world (whether on a blog or on social media, or all of the above). How do you handle it?

The Best Advice for Love, Loss, Friendship & More

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I have always found great comfort and inspiration in reading quotes. I love the bite-sized wisdom they offer in all areas of life: love, loss, work, conflict, and so much more. In high school and college (aka pre-Pinterest) I kept a notebook that I filled with quotes that inspired me -- whether they were from songs (I can vividly picture Dave Matthews Band lyrics jotted in there) or a greeting card. These days, I'll sometimes make a point to peruse my Pinterest "Inspires Me" board while I drink my morning coffee to set the tone for the day (I also scroll through my "So True" board if I'm in need of a laugh!). Do you have a piece of advice that's made a difference to you? What is it? 

For Your Career (Day Job or Day Dream) // 

In my moments of doubt, I've told myself firmly: If not me, who? If not now, when? -Emma Watson

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan. -Eleanor Roosevelt 

Ain't nothin' to it, but to do it. -Maya Angelou

Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed. -Unknown

Never give up on a dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. -Earl Nightengale

Trust the timing of your life. -Unknown

The harder you work, the luckier you get. -Gary Player

Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise. -Frank Ocean

I realized this week that I just cannot do it all. So I will choose to do what I can, fabulously. -Clinton Kelly

Say yes, and you'll figure it out afterwards. -Tina Fey

If you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind goes when it wanders. -Bernard Byer

For Your Love Life //

What I love most about my home, is who I share it with. -Ted Carpenter

Loved you yesterday, love you still. Always have, always will. -Unknown

Never love anybody who treats you like you're ordinary. -Oscar Wilde

In you, I've found the love of my life and my closest, truest friend. -Greeting card

You are my sun, my moon, and all my stars. -e.e. cummings

Marry your best friend. I do not say that lightly. Really, truly find the strongest, happiest friendship in the person you fall in love with. Someone who speaks highly of you. Someone you can laugh with. The kind of laughs that make your belly ache, and your nose snort. The embarrassing, earnest, healing kind of laughs. Wit is important. Life is too short not to love someone who lets you be a fool with them. Make sure they are somebody who lets you cry, too. Despair will come. Find someone that you want to be to be there with you through those times. Most importantly, marry the one that makes passion, love, and madness combine and course through you. A love that will never dilute - even when the waters get deep, and dark." -Unknown

For Conflict //

 I took it off. I did not want to carry it with me anymore. -Unknown

They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds. -Mexican Proverb

I am self-propelled, fueled from within. I appreciate people's opinions, but I am not attached to them. I learned a long time ago that if I give them the power to feed me, I also give them the power to starve me. -Dr. Steve Maraboli

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. -Harriet Beecher Stowe

Pressure makes diamonds. -Unknown

In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. -Albert Camus

We have the tendency to want the other person to be a finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve. -T.D. Jakes ***This is so true, and I think can help greatly in times of conflict in family, love, friendships and more.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning. -Unknown

For Friendship //

There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. -Jane Austen

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one." -C.S. Lewis

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. -Audrey Hepburn 

My friends remind me, by their very steadfastness, that truth, beauty, and goodness exist in the world, and that, no matter what, there are and always will be people loving people through thick and thin. -Unknown

For Loss //

Change is never easy. You fight to hold on, you fight to let go. -Daniel Stern (The Wonder Years)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. -Winnie the Pooh

You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body. -C.S. Lewis

We're all just walking each other home. -Ram Daas

i carry your heart with me 
(i carry it in my heart)
-e.e. cummings

(Long) Weekending

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hello! Are you enjoying your long weekend? We are so far. We did taco night on Friday followed by a family swim. It was H's first time in a big pool and she was not impressed initially, but warmed up after about 10 minutes. C had a blast -- she's such a fish! Saturday was wet and chilly so we made blanket forts, went grocery shopping, and Steve grilled steaks out in the rain... ha! Yesterday afternoon we headed to the boardwalk to meet up with some friends, eat greasy food and go on a few rides. It was both girls' first time on the ferris wheel -- so much fun!

By the way, do you know the history of Labor Day? I didn't, which is kind of silly considering it's something we "celebrate" with days off and barbecues every year, so I looked it up. Here ya go, if you're interested.

I made the twice-baked cauliflower dish on Saturday. It was... okay. ;) 

If you have a Lord & Taylor nearby and you happen to be on the market for boots/booties, please run there right this minute. They have a big selection that are 75% off the original price -- and then you can use the current savings pass for an additional 25% off. For example, I tried on a pair of Vince Camuto booties that were originally $150, so with all sales included, they'd come down to about $27. Insert all of the wide-eyed emojis here. 

I took advantage of the sales at Gap, Old Navy, Target, and H&M to grab a few fall things for the girls. Cat & Jack (one of our favorite playwear lines!) is 20% off, so I got some leggings for Hadley for $4 each. Favorites from Old Navy were coordinating tutu dresses for $10 -- these are the best because C feels fancy but they're also comfy and practical. I have a thing about dressing kids like kids, know what I mean? H&M had 2-packs of long sleeve shirts for $7! Don't mind if I do.

Next up on our house project list is replacing the light in our foyer. Oh, friends, the current one is a beaut: A single white globe hanging form a brass chain. Here's the one I've been eyeing along with a flush mount for above our stairs. What do you think?

One last thing: you can find me on Instagram @jenpadrontucker. Since I mostly share photos of my kids, I like to keep my account private. But if you'd like to connect there, please send a request my way!

Five on Friday

Friday, September 1, 2017

Happy Friday & Happy September! 

I can't believe summer is coming to an end. Proof of my denial: I dressed both kids and myself in full on summer outfits this morning -- shorts and t-shirts for C and me, and a sleeveless romper for H. I ran outside to drop something in the mailbox and BRRR. It was chilly. Came back in with goosebumps and promptly changed all of us into more appropriate clothes, ha! I'm such a summer girl, but if I had to choose, fall is a close second. I guess it's time to get excited about sweatshirt weather.

Here are five things on my mind as we close out the week:

+ The devastation in Houston has been incomprehensible. The loss of lives, of homes and personal possessions that hold so much meaning, of business -- it makes my heart ache. Like most others I know, I've been eager to know the best ways to help from afar. I've seen videos of volunteers sorting through mountains and mountains of clothing, food, baby supplies, and so much more. So many organizations, both large and small, have been receiving so much support, monetary and otherwise. We personally chose to donate to the Red Cross (it's as easy as texting HARVEY to 909-99) and I'd like to also donate to their local SPCA. Amidst the tragedy, it is heartening to witness help coming from all over the country, and world.

+ My sweet friend Hillary (hi Hil!) has been such a wonderful supporter of this little space, and she recently sent me a really excellent idea to share with you all. There are so many places deeply discounting their school supplies (Target, Walmart... and there's always the dollar store!). Hillary thought that a great way to take advantage of these sales would be to scoop up some leftover supplies for those in need. Teachers can only provide so much, and I've seen many parents talking about their long list of "to buy" school supplies. I feel for these families -- it can seem a bit over the top sometimes! But Hillary reminded me that there will always be kids who don't have a thing to their name on the first day of school. More kids than we realize, I think. Why not share extra school supplies with teachers, counselors, and other adults posted at the school in case they come across a kid in need? I absolutely love this idea and Hillary's caring heart. 

+ Are you planning on checking out any Labor Day sales? To be honest, I'm not that impressed with some of them! I think you can find better sales year round on things like clothing. But JCrew Factory is always a favorite and is running 50% off this weekend. Old Navy and Gap are also running pretty good sales -- 50% off most things with an extra 20% on top of that. My (and C's) favorite tutu dresses at Old Navy are only $8! 

+ At the end of this month, C and I are headed off on a "Mommy/Carrie" adventure to North Carolina! She is the flower girl and I'm the Matron of Honor in my cousin's wedding. So much fun! But I'm also pretty nervous. This will be her first time on a plane, and I haven't been on one in five years. Any tips or tricks for flying with an almost four year old? It's a quick flight but I still want to make everything as easy as possible for us! Please share!

+ I have been on a KICK this week making some different dinners for a change. Nothing fancy in the least (or particularly healthy) -- ha, I should have my own cookbook, right?! ;) But super sometimes easy and somewhat balanced is the name of the game around here. Here's what was on our menu this past week:

MONDAY: Leftover pizza and salad (we had friends over on a play date so we had delicious leftovers from the night before -- a kid pleaser, for sure)

TUESDAY: Breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs with a bit of cheese, tater tots, and bacon)

WEDNESDAY: Baked potatoes with cheese, broccoli, and leftover bacon crumbled on top

THURSDAY: Garlic pasta with roasted brussels sprouts

FRIDAY: Taco night! Beef tacos, rice, and corn on the cob

SATURDAY: Grilled steaks with cheesy cauliflower mash (My first time making this -- I'll let you know how it is!)

I'm shocked we got through the week with no chicken, but sometimes it's nice to switch things up. Did you have anything tasty on the menu?

Have a wonderful long weekend, friends!
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