Monday, May 11, 2015

Wine and Canvas - A Great Girl's Night Out

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This was my mission, should I choose to accept it. I chose to give it my best shot with the help of a little wine.

Have you heard of Wine and Canvas? I was introduced to it through my local mother's club as part of a series of "Mom's Night Out" events. I joked that I hadn't done anything artsy since high school and it was then I realized that a big part me of me missed expressing that creative side. I was pleased to see the painting I was setting out to recreate was something I might actually want to hang on my wall...depending on the outcome.

Wine and Canvas brings the painting party to you, complete with instruction on how to achieve certain painting techniques. Think of it as a grown-up paint by number, complete with cocktails and appetizers. After my first glass of champagne, I was feeling pretty confident about where I was headed.

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I sent a photo to my friend Heather, who is a TRUE artist (see her work on Instagram) and told her that what I was now an artist just like her. Yeah. The same. Exactly. Totally.

After finishing our sky and ocean setting, it was time to tackle the bridge. I was now 1 1/2 glasses deep and the idea of drawing stick-straight lines was laughable. It took all my focus to try to work that brush. Observe:

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That is the face of a tipsy lady that means business.

I ended up laughing to the point of near tears as my girlfriends and I compared various shapes of wobbly bridges. In the end, I ended up with a full-on Monet. You know...from far away, it's OK, but up close, its a big old mess. (Thanks, Cher Horowitz.)

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I would definitely do Wine and Canvas again - it was a hilarious night out with a little bit of productivity and creativity mixed in!

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Disclosure: I was not compensated by Wine and Canvas whatsoever for this post. I just really loved this party. However, if they want to throw a deal my way for next time, they know where to find me and my mad bridge skills.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Four Ways To Find Balance During Morning Chaos

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When you are a mom, every moment is precious. We all beat ourselves up for not fitting all of our plans and desires into the day. Between work, blogging and motherhood, I'm still working on finding a healthy balance between what needs to be done and what I want to do. With Mother's Day on the horizon, I salute all of the moms out there for keeping all the plates spinning.

I'm a very hands-on mom. If my daughter wants to dance with me in the morning while holding a banana and a leaky water bottle, I'm always up for it. If my son says he needs extra cuddles, I drop everything to grab him in my embrace. But my desire to spend quality time with my kids while knowing that I need to get out the door in time for my commute to work is never easy. It requires a lot of preparation and planning.

Here are my tips for balancing work and play in the morning:

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1) Be thoughtful about your morning routine, down to the last minute. We have to get the kids fed, dressed and out the door before 7:00 AM. Lunches need to be prepped the night before and we tend to think about breakfast options before going to bed. Since none of this involves my own morning readiness, I try to think about what I'm going to wear before ending my day - that involves which dress, what hosiery, which shoes, etc. Eliminating these tiny decisions adds extra minutes that help you get out the door quickly and smoothly.

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2) Put down your phone. Whether it is early morning or late evening, I fall victim to checking my work email. And if that wasn't bad enough, I have my blog email to check, as well as a personal email, and all my social media on Facebook and Twitter, and so on. The few minutes I gain answering an email or commenting on a friend's photo are not worth the many precious moments I lose that could be spent playing pretend cooking with my kids. The work can wait for work and when it can't, it can wait until after bed time.

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3) Give yourself a couple minutes for a once-over. Most days, I'm lucky if I can get out of the door smudge-free. Something is always snagged or stained. I find that if I give myself two minutes for a last check, I won't discover a small peanut butter finger print on my behind mid-meeting.

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4) At the end of the day, take some time for yourself. Find small ways to pamper yourself, whether it is a quick at-home pedicure or relief for tired eyes. This is one I'm not as great at completing. I'm fortunate that L'eggs, the brand responsible for the hosiery seen in this post and the brand that has been in my life since my mother wore them when I was a child (fresh out of the plastic eggs!), recognized this need and sent me a sweet care package with goodies for my own personal pampering.

The point is this: with a little bit of planning and a lot of relaxed breathing, you can do this, mama.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by L'eggs and the opinions and thoughts expressed here are my own. And if you want my thoughts on L'eggs hosiery, I can tell you that they are the silkiest, smoothest nude sheers  you will find at an excellent price point. Like I said, my mom wore them and now so do I! You can follow L'eggs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

When Mommy Is Out Of Town

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When I leave town for a day or two, it is always hard to pull myself away from my kids. That is not to say I'm not one of those moms who struggles to leave her children. Trust me, I love my Me-time. But I think about them constantly and I wonder what they are doing at any given moment of the day during my absence.

My husband, Kevin, is great about sending me photos of their various adventures. When Daddy is in charge, sometimes the house rules bend a little bit for his own sanity. For example, I get photos of Sutton, my 18-month old, jumping off the side table onto the sofa.

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There are photos of loud shouting contests. This one apparently centered around Daddy teasing Keagan by saying that the roses on the table were poisonous in efforts to keep small hands off of them. "Roses aren't poisonous!!!" says Keagan, at full volume.

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There are snapshots of messes. Yogurt is delicious. Manners are optional.

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I get glimpses into dance parties in progress and I know that this is likely the 35th time Kevin has endured "Party Rock" by LMFAO in the last 24 hours.

Wherever I may be stationed when I receive these sort of pictures via text, my eyes grow wide. I think about bruised foreheads slamming into various furniture. I think about stained shirts and side-eyes from neighbors as they pass by the cacophony coming from our open windows.

And then I start laughing. I laugh because in every photo, my kids are laughing, beaming, smiling and letting their giant personalities and wild imaginations shine through. I laugh because I can envision Kevin's bemused grin as the one taking it all in and more importantly, as the one taking excellent care of them. He bears the heavy load of managing two high energy kids and if leaping across furniture is what actually keeps them in check, then so be it.

Best of all, these little glimpses into their day keep me just as excited to see them as they always are to see me when I walk through our front door. However, they were not thrilled when Mommy got home and put a shut down on their new couch-jumping game. Mommies can be a real buzz kill.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Birthday Wisdom

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It's my birthday and I'll wear giraffe prints and drink wine at noon if I want to.

Blouse: H&M
Jeans: Gap
Belt: vintage
Hat: Forever 21(similar)
Bag: Banana Republic
Shades: Ray-Ban
Sandals: Target

With age comes wisdom. At age 37, I've learned a few things. I've learned that the key to a nice birthday celebration is to just chill. It's dropping the kids off with the grandparents for the day. It's sitting in the sun eating soft cheeses and drinking some sauvignon blanc. It's catching up on conversations with your significant other when the speed of life slows down a bit. It's wearing a hat because you never get the chance to wear hats anymore and you are totally a hat kind of girl.

Yep, I've got it all figured out until life's next curve ball. I mean, as my son told me this past weekend, "Mommy, you are almost 38 now." Slow down, kid. Chill.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Combining Trends With Functionality

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It's been a long time since I've done an outfit post. These are my play clothes.

Vest: Banana Republic
Tee: Old Navy (similar)
Jeans: Gap
Shades: Ray-Ban
Flats: Target

I follow a lot of style blogs. When I see some blogs with moms with young kids wearing sky-high heels and adorable mini-dresses, I'm in awe of their fashion sense and I'm inspired by their trends. I'm also terrified for them in their lack of practicality. It's a strange dichotomy.

When I started this blog, I swore up and down that I wouldn't lose my sense of personal style just because I was transitioning into mommyhood. Yet as of late, I find myself gravitating away from the styles I used to covet. Beautiful stilettos have been shelved - on most occasions outside of work, I'm racing with my son across grass park fields. I haven't bought a dress that doesn't hit at the knee or lower in fear that I will show all my lady business to the world every time I bend over to pick up my daughter. Earrings other than studs? Forget about it. I'd like to avoid a trip to the ER to get my lobes stitched back on.

So where does that leave me? Honestly, it leaves me in a bit of a style rut which is maybe why I don't post on outfits as often anymore. I want what I showcase to be truly what I wear, not just something I dolled up in for photos before throwing on my actual outfit of jeans and a tee. In other words, I want to give it the old college try (although by that definition, it would mean I'm hungover in sweat pants, so maybe that doesn't apply here...) and find clothes that feel cute, fashionable and put together while still serving the one thing I truly need: FUNCTION. I need pockets for Kleenex and random toys. I need coverage for whatever obstacle I may have to leap over, bend down for or twist towards. I need stability and agility when my kids brush against my full coffee cup that teeters precariously on the living room side table.

While I would love to embrace stacked heels and thigh-length dresses, I am trying to instead incorporate trends that work with my lifestyle. That is why I love this military vest. I expect to wear it quite a bit through the year with tees, tanks, shorts, you name it. If I can feel somewhat trendy while climbing through a jungle gym, it's a win-win.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Review: 2 Legged Mermaid on Etsy

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When I was a kid, I would pretend that I was The Little Mermaid by flying out of the pool by pushing my arms up against the pool ledge, just like Ariel on her rock, and sing the crescendo of "Part of your woooooorld!" (Don't pretend like I'm the only person who has done this at one point in time.)

Full disclosure: I am no mermaid. In fact, I'm contemplating taking some swimming lessons this summer because I am so weak in the water. But guess what I'm really good at? Pool and beach side lounging while wearing a sweet hat.

I'm fortunate enough to be a close friend with Tia, the creator of 2 Legged Mermaid (that's her with the gorgeous purple hair.) She has created a new line of hats for those of us with mermaid fantasies, using her adorable designs, bright colors and even her original photography!

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If I had my way, I'd be on a beach every day. Whether it is while watching my kids play in the sand or sitting near rolling waves while the sun sets, long, sun-filled summer days are my dream. However, I'm an Irish lass with fair skin, so protection from the suns harsh rays is key. These hats offer both protection and style. Here are a few of my favorites:

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I bought two of these for my pool-dwelling nieces for their birthdays and I had a chance to try on the hat. I can attest that it is super comfortable, sitting snugly on my head and resting just at my ears. With the adjustable back, it fit the heads of both my 11-and-7 year old nieces as well. The brim is fairly deep, which for me makes it the perfect summer lounging accessory while I shade my freckles.

Whether you want to let your inner mermaid loose or whether you just want a cute hat to coordinate with your summer swimsuit, you should check out 2 Legged Mermaid. You can find your hat on Etsy or follow along for latest designs on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.

And if that isn't enough to convince you, then check out her dog. How can you say no to this face?

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Disclosure: I was compensated in the form of discounts and a free hat (soon to be modeled on this very site), but more so, I believe in small business entrepreneurship and I believe it Tia, who is an awesome, creative woman that loves to quote movies with me to the point where it probably annoys others, but we don't care because we are laughing so hard. For example, I've fought the urge to say "Mer-man. Mer-man!" about ten times in this post.)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Stepping Out From Behind The Camera: A Mother's Challenge

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This photo pretty much sums me up - iPhone camera pointed towards my kids, silly expression on my face, all for the sake of capturing some memories.

I love taking photos. Some of my family members have joked that my kids aren't going to recognize me without a camera blocking my face. Others have marveled that we live in a generation where every moment needs to be digitally captured. I've read articles that declare we are raising a new breed of selfie-inflicted narcissists who think that everything that they do is special. Well, I'll run that risk if it means that decades from now I will have a lifetime of photos to look back upon with love, joy and happiness. Shoot, I look at photos I took less than a year ago and I know that if I hadn't taken the time to whip out my phone, the memory would have been fleeting and gone. Time rolls by too quickly.

I was fortunate this past weekend when my husband took control of the camera when I wasn't looking. He snapped some photos of me and my kids, just sitting in the sun and enjoying a children's singer at a birthday party. I'm usually the one running after the action with my phone pointed in all directions. On most occasions, I'm non-existent in family photos. This time, I got to see some of what I perhaps miss when I'm busy capturing the moment - I got to see myself actually capturing the moment with the loves of my life.

While you won't see me putting down the camera any time soon, these photos have shown me that sitting back, sipping a beer and watching my kids bounce to "5 Little Monkeys" is a pretty sweet angle to capture.

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