Tuesday, July 31, 2012

guest blogging

hey there.

if you've ever wanted to know more about speech and language development, then hop on over to maria's blog for {talk about it tuesdays} where she's invited me to be a guest blogger on a big topic.


see ya there.

Friday, July 27, 2012

beach baby birthday

my little harper turned 4 last week!  isn't it just crazy how fast time flies?  the night before, we dined picnic style in the dining room with our 5th annual blueberry pancake feast.  the morning of her birthday, we decorated the house with streamers and balloons so she would wake up to a celebration.  michael went in late to work so he could eat a breakfast of chocolate chip waffles (as requested) with us.  after breakfast, we quickly packed and changed and headed out to the beach, where we planned to spend most of the day, despite the predicted close to 100 degree temps.  the day was perfect.  by the water, it felt 20 degrees cooler, and we so we swam and swam and swam some more.  we took a break to eat lunch and ice cream, and went back into the lake for more swimming and dock jumping.  what a difference in her confidence and abilities over last summer.  we returned to nana and papa's house for a spaghetti dinner (another request) as we had a house showing and couldn't be at home.  she fell asleep on the 10 minute drive home, so her presents waited until the next morning, although her biggest gift, her new bike, was given to her over the weekend previous.

we had a fantastic time.  here's the video to show it.

harper at age 4...
-she has the comfortability to go sans clothes when we're home by ourselves
-she does not prefer the constriction of underwear
-she has learned lately to cross her arms, scowl her face and stomp off when she doesn't like something or doesn't get her way or isn't happy
-her favorite foods are pb&j, mac and cheese, pizza and spaghetti.  she is hesitant to try new meals, but can be coerced sometimes
-to get our attention, she says "i have to tell you a question" or "excuse me"
-she loves stories before bed, and to delay bedtime by asking for a snack right when we say its time to brush teeth
-she still has her soft taggie, and has to "feed her" before we leave her in the car.  we can't go anywhere without her, and have almost lost her several times.  we're learning to avoid taking her into places with us.
-she has recently only preferred to wear dresses and skirts
-she just asked to take dance class, and loves to dance and sing and make up her own songs
-she has a killer memory for the little things, so be careful what you say
-she is a fish in the water, and has preferred swimming over everything else this summer

i found an idea on pinterest where you ask a set of questions to your child each year on her birthday, so i started this year.  i found it interesting that the answers to most of her questions were related to recent events within the last few days or so.  she needed some help expanding her answers to what i really knew were the answers, but allowed her to respond whichever way she preferred...

How old are you?  4
What makes you happy?  when eeenee and gippin give clover a toy
What is your favorite animal?  monkey
What is your favorite thing to eat?  mac and cheese
What is your least favorite thing to eat?  tomatoes and green pepper
What is your favorite thing to do?  reading berenstain bears books
What is your favorite TV show?  backyardigans
What are you really good at?  swimming and going biking and doing tennis
What is your favorite movie?  shrek 1
What is your favorite color?  lots- purple, pink, blue, yellow, black, brown, red, green
What is your favorite song?  5 little monkeys, lights (ellie goulding)
Who is your best friend?  anna, bryce, hunter, and henry and hazel
What do you and your mom do together?  play outside and watch movies
What do you and your dad do together?  i help with his work and we watch cool movies
What is your favorite sport?  bowling
Where is your favorite place to go?  grandma and grandpa's
What is your favorite book?  berenstain bears
What do you want to be when you grow up? one of those mermaids like tasha and uniqua

Thursday, July 26, 2012

things i love thursdays {chalkboard labels}

another thursday, another link up to maria's blog and her {things i love thursday} post.

i love to be organized, and i love to label.  which is why i am in love with these new martha stewart chalkboard labels.  they stick to most flat surfaces, and can be written on over and over again.  i have used them in my kitchen to label my glass jars for sugar, flour, tea, coffee and cupcake liners.  check 'em out at staples.


go check out maria's post and see what she loves this week.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

things i love thursdays {zoku}

my friend, maria, is a children's book author and pens a fantastic blog that highlights many topics, including teaching children values, fun crafts to do with your kiddos, happiness and health tips, organizing and so much more.  she hosts a fun weekly post called {things i love thursdays} where she spotlights her favorite items.  she invites other bloggers to join in, so this week i am linking up and talking about one of my all time favorite things, our zoku pop maker.

if you've been reading along, you know of my love for this fantastic tool.  we bought it last year, along with a recipe book, and we've slowly tasted our way through it.  you can make anything with this, and all in only 7 minutes right on your countertop.  freeze the pop maker for 24 hours (we leave ours in all the time for whenever popsicle mood strikes!), mix up your ingredients, pour and watch them freeze, and in less than 10 minutes, you get to enjoy your yummy treat!  you've got to give them a try.  check 'em out here.  we own the 3 popsicle maker, but they now make an individual maker in many fun colors!


flavors we've made include banana blueberry, cookies and cream, pistachio (my favorite), coconut macaroon, strawberry shortpop, creamsicles, chocolate covered cherry, mint chip, honeydew, watermelon, lemonade, malted milk ball, fudgsicles, chocolate coated cinnamon crunch, coffee buzz, strawberry banana, just peachy.  good thing i have lots of taste tester volunteers.


next up...cookie dough...or s'mores...or mango.  the possibilities are endless.  clearly, this is one of the things i love.  head on over to maria's blog and see what her favorite item is this week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

she's four

what a difference 4 years makes.


my beautiful baby girl is 4 years old.  happy birthday, sweet harper elizabeth.

many more photos to come of a splashingly good party, a birthday at the beach, and fun new presents.  stay tuned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

the blues are back

it's summer and that means the return of loads of fresh fruit, many at the ready for picking right here in michigan.

so we headed back to the blueberry farm we visited last summer and picked up another 5 pounds.  this time, our sitter and the girls' daycare teacher, tanya, came with us.  she became hooked last year when she was babysitting the girls and we had just picked our lot, and has been asking to come with us since.

i'm already planning to head back in a couple weeks to get more.  they're that good, and it's that addicting and fun.  i love freezing them to use in muffins, popsicles, smoothies, pancake batter and more throughout the year.

crosby was so happy to be able to pick her own.  she ate every single one she picked.


harper, on the other hand, grabbed her own bucket and found berries that were growing at her level to pick.  she ate quite a few, but also managed to collect close to half a pound.  she wanted hers weighed separately than mine.  she paid on her own (with mama's money).  and she carried her bag to the car and held it all the way home, snacking a bit here and there.

she's learning the importance of hard work and the rewards that come from it.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Thursday, July 12, 2012


4 years ago on july 10th, i was mentally prepared to have my first baby.  my due date had arrived, and i was certain that i wasn't going past it.  everyone else thought so too (isn't it funny how everyone can tell a pregnant mom is going to go early or late just by looking at her?!).  my hospital bags were packed.  i had checked and double checked that every form for admission was complete.  we had our list of names set and ready for when we first met our baby.  but my body wasn't ready, and the little one growing inside me wasn't ready either.

i remember the day well.  i went to our pediatric clinic for work, and my sister happened to be there with my nephews for a summer yoga for kids class they were taking.  while the boys were doing airplanes and fish poses, my sister and i walked outside back and forth across the parking lot in the heat and sun, tears streaming down my face in frustration that my plans weren't going as, well, planned.  by the next week, when it appeared that nothing was moving, my doctor decided that she wanted to induce.  harper elizabeth arrived on july 17th- a week past her due date.

each and every year at this time, i relive those memories.  i love looking back in my pregnancy journal and reading about what i was feeling at the time.  "7/10/08 due date- still not here!  mommy has had a hard day, pretty sad and depressed.  lots of crying.  took a bath tonight to try and relax."

and each and every year, my mind does double duty and mentally prepares that my girl is growing another year older.  taller.  smarter.  more talkative.  more challenging.  more loving.  and with another year comes a party, for which i also do lots of preparation for.

Photobucket Photobucket

this year's party is at her swim school.  she has been in lessons since last august and has loved every single week she is there.  she never whines about going.  she is excited to swim with her teacher, ms. maggie.  she has made so many gains, both in and out of the water.  we decided it was the best place to have the party, to celebrate our soon-to-be 4-year-old.

i can't not plan a detailed party.  even if i'm short on time, i will cram it all in to make it all memorable.  sometimes what i decide to take on is very stressful and mind boggling, but in the end, it's all worth it.  fish bowl cake pops.  gummy fish baggies.  homemade fish-in-a-bag soaps.  this year, my little harper asked and willingly chipped in to all my tasks, and she was an amazing helper and provided comic relief to any stress i may have felt.  what a difference a year makes.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

the party preparations are almost complete, and i can't wait to see how it all turns out this weekend.


Sunday, July 8, 2012

arts and oops

i have not officially written out our summer to-do list yet, so i've been pulling ideas from pinterest and ones i've saved in my head for activities to do on the days we've been home.  i feel the need to do this to a) avoid the draw to the television, b) help defeat summer boredom, c) keep the girls engaged and active and creating, and d) allow me a few minutes to check an item off of my own personal checklist.  it's been so extremely hot outside that we've had to find things to do inside, or be engaged with water if we are outside.

since we went on vacation 2 weeks ago, it seems that nap time has essentially disappeared for harper.  she's almost 4, so i was expecting it soon.  she still gets an hour or so of rest time to lay in our bed and read books and relax her body and mind, but it means that she needs even more engaging activities every day.  on thursday, while crosby was still napping, and knowing that we had swim class at night, i decided to pull out this little activity that has been sitting idle in my "want to do this" file in my mind for a while- colored shaving cream.


i squirted the shaving cream into a muffin tin and brought out the food coloring.  harper chose the colors she wanted, and she helped me drop them in and stir them with toothpicks.  she hopped into the tub sans clothes, and off she went.  she created a masterpiece on every surface and seemed to really enjoy it.

Photobucket Photobucket

crosby woke up and we watched the artist at work.


in the end, the muffin tray was emptied, there was color on every side of the shower, and both harper and the tub were in need of a rinse.  i then discovered the problem with this activity- stained grout.  so next time, i limit the canvas to the tub only and not the shower walls, i put up a garbage bag as the canvas, i find a non-staining dye for the shaving cream or i just deal with the additional task on my list and chalk it up to being a mom and creating fun things for my kids to do.  such is the nature of summer.


always looking for more fun ideas, so if you have any that your kids love, please share by leaving a comment.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

pitching in

in between current updates to our summer days, i am catching up with old happenings.  here is the first installment...

may 2012
to get our house ready to put on the market, it meant 3 weeks of checking off many items on our to-do list, some that we had been sitting on since we moved in.  leveling the driveway.  painting the stairwell.  re-grouting the bathroom.  adding mulch and planting flowers outdoors.  touch up paint.  de-cluttering and re-organizing closets and toys and cupboards.  it took a lot of time and a lot of work.  we put a full effort in every night after work and both weekend days for several weeks.  and everyone in the family had to chip in.

Photobucket Photobucket

we were finally able to get our house presentable and ready for showing.  it's never been so clean and organized.  and now we just have to keep it this way.


and in every day of work, you must have a bit of fun.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Friday, July 6, 2012


it's strange, but since i started my interest in photography over two years ago, my eyes have opened up more to the details.  at the start of a storm, i notice how green the trees are against a dark blue sky.  when the winter snow begins to melt, i pay attention to the first blooming buds.  when my girls sit and play quietly, i observe their faces, their tiny fingers and toes, they way harper's hair falls in her eyes and how she so casually brushes it out with the palm of her hand.

i pick up on the details that make each holiday its own, and do my best to highlight the special colors, events and celebrations for my girls, despite the fact that they may not fully understand what my motives are yet.  i feel that i am planting the good seed, that will continually be watered and nurtured with each event, both big and little, and will blossom into happy childhood memories for my little ones to one day look back on and possibly share with their families.

on the fourth of july, i unconsciously grabbed the red and blue mugs for our morning coffee.  i turned a pinterest idea into a patriotic breakfast and made "flag toast" with cream cheese, strawberry jelly, bananas and blueberries, even though i was the only one who ate it (but it was really good).  throughout the day, my eye wanted to wander to the reds, whites and blues and the traits that make july 4th the quintessential summer holiday- from the foods we ate to the clothes i picked out for the girls to accessories that other people chose.

Photobucket Photobucket

(sidenote: oh my gosh, have i become addicted to taking my photo in mirrors.  but i like to show that there is a mama behind all these kids pictures.)


we started our mid-week holiday day off with a spinning class for me, and a restful morning at home.


after which, we put on bathing suits and headed out to spend the afternoon with our friends kellie, blake and anna at their swim club.  the girls swam hard for a good hour in the extreme heat before retreating to the cabana for drinks and snacks and lounging.  i took crosby back in the water for a bit longer, but harper only wanted to rest.  she had kicked and dove and freestyled so much that she wore herself out.

Photobucket Photobucket

we headed over to heboo and ta's house for a bbq and some fireworks, since we missed the late one's the night before.  although we had to set them off quickly to avoid the pending storm.

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

exhausted and happy, we packed up and headed home.  thankfully we did baths and jammies at heboo's, because the ride home zonked both girls out cold.  whether or not harper and crosby caught on to my detail madness, i felt happy knowing that i made the best out of a special day.  and by golly, i have the freedom to do just that.


and the following day, because summertime isn't summertime without s'mores, we continued the holiday joy by sharing these special goodies with teachers at school and swimming.


happy fourth to you!

Monday, July 2, 2012

a catch all vacation post

i sit at my computer desk back home, sunshine and heat right outside our door and windows, crosby snoozing, harper chowing on a peach.  we're quickly back to our summer routine, but amidst the daily grind of our chores and activities, i have the happy memories of our vacation last week.


it was fantastic.  we packed as much as we could into those 8 days, but also lazily enjoyed our mornings with little to do.  we filled the days with family.  with being silly.


with staying up way past bedtimes and sleeping in.  with antiquing and shopping.


with meeting brand new little cousins and catching up with bigger ones.

Photobucket Photobucket

with sightseeing.  with doing the touristy thing.


with skipping naps and taking marathon ones.  with swimming.


with whipping up homemade smoothies and milkshakes after home-cooked meals.  with all family dance parties. with being close and being together.


our week ended on saturday with a wedding.  my cousin, david, got married and was the main reason for us making the voyage to the area.  friday night, on our way home from the rehearsal dinner, a wicked storm kicked up, with 80 mph winds, thunder, lightning, pounding rain and hail.  it knocked out power to over 1 million people.  included in the no power area was the church and hall where the wedding was held.  so in over 100 degree heat, with the small church lit only by candles and the stained glass windows and doors all open, we watched as he and michelle made their vows during a 90 minute traditional tridentine latin wedding mass (only the vows and homily were in english).  it was followed by a short reception across the street with cold cuts and potato salad for a wedding meal, no music to dance to, only candelight and sunlight.  no one was less bothered by it all than the bride and groom.  they became husband and wife.  they said i do and it was all that mattered.  and it was so joyful to see.

ironically enough, believe it or not, this same thing happened the night before my uncle john's (david's father) funeral 2 years ago.  a mean storm came through, knocking out power, and we held the funeral in a church with no lights.  i remember candles being the only lighting for visits to the restroom.  so, in all my spiritual belief, it only makes me feel that uncle john was there for david and michelle's union.  i just wish he could have let us know in a different way, instead of knocking out the power and cool air conditioning.

these photos are only a taste of our week.  if you care to see more (and have 11 minutes to spare), i've included a video.  (you'll see in the wedding photos the massive trees that were destroyed and how everyone is glistening from the heat!)  if you care to watch, enjoy.