Monday, March 31, 2014

We went to Nashville this weekend to visit family. Jonathan's brother, the talented Stephen Jerkins, lives there, along with his also-talented wife Amanda (they are quite the power couple), and their precious son, Reason. They are expecting another little boy at the end of May.

I cannot get enough of this photo. I mean.

(Stephen Jerkins kills it once again.)

The kids are getting to an age where they can play together more and more. It can be a lot of work at time managing travel with these small buddies; but it is so worth it to see the smiles on their faces when they are playing, laughing at each other, or giving each other hugs (Jules has been getting better and better/gentler at this, thank goodness).

I am so thankful my children will grow up surrounded by so many cousins (the current count is 5-almost-6). There is nothing like having childhood memories making mischief with your cousins, am I right? And on Jonathan's side, having four boys as dads means we all have the same last name! That's a little awesome. I do hope their cousins end up being some of their greatest friends.

Despite a very teething Molly (she had three teeth break through her gums over the weekend, eeesh), we still had so much fun visiting! Saturday night we ate dinner at a delicious Nashville eatery, Baja Burrito. Stephen went by and documented the place a few weeks ago--please check out this post. Genius. Photo sets like these are just candy for the eyes.

Stephen also was kind enough to take some photos of our little family, which I will share soon.

Thanks for having us, Jerkins!

water bottles! (oh boy)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Water bottles? Has it really come to this? Are we scraping the bottom of the barrel for post ideas? 

Nah. Drinking water is a huge part of my day, and hopefully yours too. Even before the cycle of pregnant/nursing/pregnant/nursing began, I have always been a pretty avid liquid consumer. Thirsty all the time! Not sure why this is, anatomically, but it must just be life in the fast lane.

After I first had Jules and was nursing all the time, I had one of those giant Tervis tumblers filled with ice water by my side constantly, with a lid and a straw (love straws!). I love these cups so much, as people do--they have many good traits (don't sweat, keep things cold/hot, etc). When I went back to work, I just carried one of these with me every day (and everywhere, practically!). Somehow, I made this work for a long time....until Molly came along. Suddenly (surprise), the juggle of infant car seat/large bag/wiggly toddler left me out of hands and out of ways to balance a cup with a lid that could (easily) spill at any moment. 

Thus began the search for the perfect water bottle. 

As I've been telling you for the past week, I'm not a particularly exhaustive shopper. I like finding something that works and just going with it. So when I was rushing around Target one night after the kids' bedtime, my eye caught on the Aladdin water bottle (I have the clear one, which I can't find online?). It has this genius screw top so you can put ice in it before filling it up. Bonus, it was only $10! It fits into normal-sized cup holders, which is awesome, and rarely sweats. I love putting slices of lemon in here before filling it up. This one is a definite winner! 

The bkr bottle had been on my wish list (literally, my amazon wish list) for a long time, ever since I saw it on a blog somewhere a while back. Thanks to this past Christmas and my family's secret Santa (thank you, Marth!) this baby is now mine. It's a glass bottle, a little shorter than the Aladdin, with a silicone sleeve that feels really nice to hold. And drinking out of glass is a superior experience to plastic. I love drinking ice water, so I bought those skinny ice cube trays and they work great (I keep one in the freezer at work too). I know this one is a little on the pricier side at $28, but maybe it's like having nice sunglasses instead of cheap ones, you take care of them better? A great gift to receive anyway, and wonderful quality.

Hmm, what else can I type about water bottles? ...

To each their own with this, right! There are certainly a million personal preferences, and a millionchoices to match, but these are my two faves that I love rotating between. Having water constantly handy is just part of my day, so I'm glad to have two that are easy to use and carry around between all the bags and locations of daily life.

Is there a water bottle you're married to, that shouldn't be missed?


Monday, March 24, 2014

Jonathan matched in Memphis for residency! We get to stay here!

In an effort to be prepared, I'd been so intent on not setting my mind on any one place, that I didn't really think through all of the things I'd be feeling after we found out, besides a to-do list if facing a move.

Standing there with my kids and all of their grandparents and my sister ... I was just like, yes. These are my people. So relieved and excited we can stay in our house and with our family and dear friends.

Now that we know we're staying, there are several changes we can go ahead and plan to make on our house, so that's a little exciting. I actually dreamt about kitchen tile last night. Hmm.

Saturday night, we got to go to our big party celebrating all of this. Here's how dress #2 ended up:

It was fun to wear and fun to dance in! Put it with these shoes, also from Modcloth.

Imagine a prom, but actually the best prom ever. You're there with your husband so you're with your lifelong perfect date, the band is totally awesome, you and everyone else there have nowhere else to be, you're comfortable in your own skin because you're (almost!) 30, and everyone there is giddy to be celebrating the same thing--making it through the same colossal task of medical school. You're (almost) on the other side and you're happy. That's what Saturday night was like! It was so so so much fun. Maybe one of my favorite nights ever!

Weekend snaps of my cuties:

Molly watching a little basketball. She freaking loves that AppleTV remote.

Jules trying to open the baggie of dried cranberries I brought to Match Day. That girl was running around that huge lawn like a wild banshee.

What a wonderful weekend. Such a fun several months ahead!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

I can't even believe I'm writing this post like I know anything because historically, I am the world's worst at hair and makeup. I am also the world's worst at caring much about it either, which is weird because in general, I like to look nice and all of that. But...whatever. It's just never really clicked. Blame it on my fourteen years in an all-girl school if you want, but all I'm ever interested in is quick and easy. And I can't even blame having children, because budgeting next-to-zero time for this is nothing new.

Also, hair posts? I mean, every single person's hair is different, what may work for one person may not work for another blah blah blah. However--I do like reading these kinds of posts from time to time and trying out new easy/quick techniques, so here's mine. Plus, I feel like I'm finally figuring out what works (it only took a little under three decades!).

Hair trends come and go but I love the wavy-ish, volume-y, messy looking thing I'm seeing on the internet/TV these days. Especially since it requires very little time once you get your method down, and it seems to work with the slight natural wave I have.

So here's what:

I always towel dry my hair really well, comb it out completely, and then dry my bangs with a blow-dryer. I bumble around the house in my bathrobe, get the kiddos breakfast, make coffee, etc etc and the hair starts looking pretty wonky with the air-drying that's going on.

Then I sort of shake it out upside down a little, and then figure out where it should be parted (a little more difficult with bangs but also a little easier because it doesn't matter as much). I comb my fingers through it and then start spraying in the magic stuff: Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray. Worth every penny. (Also note: in keeping with previous dresses post on reducing brain damage while shopping, I've only ever tried this brand but it works great, so why scour the market needlessly?)

I spray it on top and underneath, flip over, fluffing the hair upwards a little with my fingers. This helps it start realizing what it's supposed to do. I let that set for a minute and air dry a little more. Then right before I'm leaving for the day, spritz the top layer and my bangs with just a little of this B&B holding spray (this stuff is for real. Do not overdo it.).

Day two (I try to only wash hair every other day): I do some more rounds of the surf spray and then sprinkle in this volume powder in the roots for some more volume. Sometimes I re-wash/dry my bangs to look a little fresher overall.

I may regret ever writing this post, like I know anything at all. But there you have it.

Special thanks go to my pal Hannah for encouraging me to quit blow-drying in the first place. FREEDOM!

Picking a Party Dress!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

This is a big week for us, as I've mentioned a million times. Friday, we find out where Jonathan will "match" for residency. Yesterday, we found out that yes, he did match. So much thankfulness receiving that news!

There is a big party for fourth years the Saturday after Match Day, to celebrate everything (the match, graduation, residency, etc.). I realized last week that I'd been putting off acquiring something to wear to this "business casual" event. I don't have much time to shop in stores in this phase of life...if it's not at Target, Costco, or the grocery store, it comes from the good ole Internet.

In general, I'm fairly good at making decisions and not questioning them afterward. This trait manifests itself in both good and bad ways in life, but one neutral/good way is that I can just pick a store or a color or theme or whatever the decision is and go from there.

For this party, I decided to shop for a dress at Modcloth and not look anywhere else for several reasons: 1) they have a giant selection of dresses that are mostly cute/fun, 2) the prices are good, 3) they have free shipping/returns above a certain spend threshold which I would surely meet when ordering several to try on, 4) I didn't want the brain damage of looking at multiple sites, dealing with multiple shipping/returns, second-guessing myself, etc. 5) Maybe I'd get lucky and one of these would also work for birthday, graduation, Easter, etc. etc.

More lists, but when looking at their giant selection, here were the criteria:

  • cute (obviously), dressy-ish
  • not too short (I'm 5'8")
  • not too long
  • not strapless, flattering neckline
  • under $100

I still have some mommy tummy leftover, and so I was looking for dresses that weren't super waist-centric; but alas, the majority of the selection leaned that way, so oh well. Just went with it (see? decision making).

Here's what I ordered and tried on:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7


1) Cute and nice quality, but too tight in the nursing region and a smidge too long for a fun party night.

2) Really cute shape, flattering pattern, great length, looks more expensive than it is.

3) Pretty bleh in person...collar thing a little too cartoon-y, wayyyy too short, wrong fabric for this party.

4) Too tight and weird fabric! Bleh.

5) Pattern just so-so in person...material kind of meh. Neckline/sleeves require more push-ups than I've done recently.

6) Cute but kind of short and bridesmaid-y. This color always looks great on my sister, and I want it to look good on me but it never really does?

7) Not for this party, but I'm keeping it to wear in life. It's pretty cute and will be really fun to layer (and was only $30!), although it's on the realllllly really short side so I'll need to wear leggings or something with it.

The winner is.....#2! 

I'm really excited to wear it and dress it up with some bracelets, maybe some fun tights or colorful shoes? We'll see how it ends up, but I'm excited to have that done.

update: I've been told some people wear tuxedos and some girls wear long dresses. Hmm. I hope I'm still on target with #2 if it is more of a cocktail-to-black-tie type event. Oh brother. To be continued...

Gotta get down on Friday

Friday, March 14, 2014

My girls are excited because their older girl cousins are in town visiting from Texas. We plan to enjoy lots of time outside in the sunshine, and cheering Molly on with her new walking skillz.

A few links to check out:

- It's been a few weeks, but I'm still thinking over Hannah's wonderful post about having four kids. As someone who aspires and prays to have a large family someday, I just loved reading her beautiful words about the love, the hard things, the relationships, the work. Read it if you haven't! So good.

- I still want to make Lauren's coleslaw. It looks so yummy, and I need to just branch out there with buying cabbage. I like eating it and turns out, it's good for you.

- Lots of pics and drivel about Molly's birthday party, of course.

- I bought this cardigan at H&M on our Carolinas trip in January, and it has quickly turned into one of my favorite things to wear. It's the perfect weight and length, and you can't beat $15! (I have it in black melange.) Also picked up this dress in navy for Jules, and it's routinely on her (short) "approved" list. Oh, toddler clothing opinions, I smite you...

Duh, but spring really is late this year--recent example being the forsythia bush right outside our nursery window. It was in full bloom the day we brought Molly home from the hospital last year (call it March 10). Hasn't even started blooming yet this year!

Since we had our snow day, I am now very ready to see everything start blooming. Such a beautiful time of year.

P.S. One week until match day!

Molly's 1st Birthday Party

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I have this no-Pinterest policy for birthday parties; as in, I try not to look at "inspiration images" or anything when planning/scheming to keep myself in check. So far, it's served me pretty well in the effort to keep birthday parties low-key. As I've mentioned before, we have a fair amount of family that lives in town, so we have been doing a family parties with a few friends and cake. It's a good recipe.

Despite trying to keep it simple, I manage to devise several little craft projects in the eleventh hour that end up being fun and cute but required a late night beforehand. Worth it, of course!

Molly had a really great time, I think! She is rarely (if ever) the center of attention, and you should've seen the joy on her little face when we all gathered around and started singing to her.

She started bee-bopping, clapping and smiling, not really believing it was all for her. It was the best.

Probably six months ago, Jonathan and I were talking about Molly's birthday, and Jonathan threw out the idea to do a "Molly Madness" party, it being March and all. (The day of the party, there was a smidge of confusion on my part when I came home from Party City with basketball plates and blue balloons, meeting blank stares from Jonathan. He was just thinking we'd use that name for the party only and still have a girly one-year-old birthday party. Oh well.)...

With help from my insanely talented friend Hannah on the Molly "avatar," here's what I came up with for the party invitation (the blurred stuff is our address--ya know...):

For some reason, I gravitate toward red as a party color for my gals thus far. Not really sure why though, red isn't my favorite color or anything? I threw this blue/turquoisey in as an accent color, hoping to subtly allude to our beloved Tiger blue. But I didn't really think about it too hard until a couple of days before the party, and ended up using more light blues/oranges. Who knows.

The big picture window in our dining room always makes a great backdrop and sort of blank canvas for decorating during birthday parties! So, using the Mollytar (Molly avatar?), I came up with a little banner with Molly's name and some basketballs (wink), and then ended up doing a paper-triangle/bunting thingy to string up above it. I made a quick template on Illustrator of two attached triangles so we could just cut them out and fold them; then traced them on a bunch of different patterned paper I bought at Michaels. My sweet husband did most of the cutting (ah, true love). Then I folded and double-stick-taped the doubled-triangles over some baking twine. (Of course most of this happened close to midnight the night before the party. Oops.)

Unfortunately, this is one of the better photos of the banner(s), and balloons (so hard to photograph a window):

Banner prep:

Then the little cupcake toppers...oh man. Too much cute.

Yall, the cake. Oh goodness.

My sister and I had made this deal of not eating desserts from New Year's Day until Molly's birthday/her birthday (which is the next day). And we did it! But of course, I'd been fantasizing about Molly's cake for actual months and decided to make my favorite, carrot cake. I waffled too long on ordering it from our fave Muddy's along with the cupcakes or not, and ended up making it myself. I'd been really intrigued by this recipe for a while, and decided to go for it. Unfortunately, my first pass at the cake was during the banner-making hullabaloo... I forgot to add a few key ingredients and had to throw it in the trash. Yes, that was a little painful. Not to be defeated, here is try #2:

It sunk a little in the middle for some reason (?), but oh my goodness. If you need a good carrot cake recipe...look no further! I left out the raisins and the nuts for supply reasons and small-child-crowd-pleasing reasons, and it was still SO delicious! Also used pre-shredded carrots to save time and thank goodness. I did the crumb coat of frosting she mentions and wow does that trick work! Where have you been all my life, crumb coat?

The cake redo definitely upped the day-of stress level but it was so worth it. I love having a birthday cake with candles, you know? Even if you do cupcakes, it still makes everything so festive. (Side note: we ended up changing the party time to after naps because of what else? a basketball game, so I had a little more time the day-of than you might think looking at the invite.)

I love using colorful candy melts as an easy way to make a cake look "decorated" but all you do is buy whatever color you want at Michaels and stick them on after frosting the cake. And between the cake, some blue polka dot balloons, and Molly's, Jules', and my shirts, the party was a bit more polka-dotty than I'd planned but it ended up cute and fun! (and who cares!)

One piece left! So worth the dessert wait.

Molly liked her cupcake OK, but didn't absolutely devour it. Both of my girls are really in it for the frosting, at this point. Seems smart to me.

Oh, and the hat! I made one of these for Juliette's first birthday, so did a repeat for Molls which included less trial and error (always nice). 

I used this template from Oh Happy Day!. The bottom layer of the hat I made out of card stock, and then I rubber-cemented the patterned paper layer on top of the card stock. Let that dry. Then I cut out a template of an outlined "1" printed from the computer (that font is Reverie--I think it's such a cute 1), traced it on some felt, which I cut out and edged in embroidery thread stitching, and then backed that with card stock (glued those together). Then I stapled the back of the hat together instead of doing the exacto knife cut-thing from the tutorial (you don't see it anyway and it's way easier). I made the pompom out of leftover yarn following Hannah's tutorial here, then pulled it through the top hole and just taped it on the inside of the hat. Then I rubber cemented the felt 1 to the front of the hat. Punched two little holes on the sides for the ribbon and tied little knots on the inside and voila! Elastic would've been preferable, but didn't have any on hand. It took me much less time to make this one than it did Juliette's, but it still isn't quite a super quick project with all the steps and gluing and things. So worth it though! And this probably cost me $1.50 or less on new materials (felt and patterned paper), since I had everything else on hand. I will treasure forever these photos of her in her birthday hat! (We were prepared with multiple cameras at the ready because she didn't want it on her head for very long, obviously). Whoa, that's a lot about a paper hat!

More party pics (handsome daddy alert):

Obvious iphone pic, but you can see the basketball plates, hee hee (and my pretty mommy)...

Thanks to my sweet sister for bringing the pigs-in-a-blanket ("game day" food, you know!) to go along with the beautiful fruit plate from my mama and this random punch I made up (cranberry juice, ginger ale, and the leftover crushed pineapple/pineapple juice from the carrot cake).

For those of you wondering how our stage-loving Juliette handled Molly's day--she exceeded our expectations! She "helped" blow out the birthday candles, but genuinely did not try to steal the spotlight at all during the party. We were really proud of her. She was a little confused seeing our traditional race car birthday banner up in the kitchen that morning, hoping it was "my turn to be 3." Not yet, sweet baby...

We took some pics of Jules in her crib on the morning of her 1st birthday, so we tried it again with Molly, who cried until Juliette climbed in there with her. Sweet sissies. I just love these two so, so much. I know she won't remember this fun day, but I will. It's fun to celebrate her.

Happy birthday my sweet Molly. The world is a brighter one with you in it.

Molly is One

Sunday, March 09, 2014

We had so much fun celebrating Molly's first birthday this weekend! 

We are just crazy about this little lovey. 

I'll do a separate post about her birthday party, but I wanted to write a little about what Molly is like at a year old (so I can remember). 

The Lord surely knew what I needed in this baby's temperament when he sent me Molly. With Jules being pretty young when Molly was born and still demanding a lot of attention (as most 19-month-olds do), I have been so thankful to have had a baby who just rolls with the punches. You can often find Molly in hers or Juliette's room, playing contentedly with toys, looking through books by herself, or crawling around to find something to get into. She is pretty good at keeping busy by herself, but you better watch her because she loves to put ANY tiny bits of whatever she finds on the floor into her mouth (this includes: crumbs of food, dust bunnies, pieces of paper, bits of leaves or grass, etc.). Yum.

She has been pulling up and cruising for ages, but is just (in the last three-four days) starting to let go more often and take more than a couple of steps on her own. She always does so smiling really big before getting to her destination (me), and falling into my arms. 

Already, she does not like being told no. She will either a) get her feelings hurt and cry giant alligator tears, or b) arch her back and throw her head back and start crying. Eeeesh. Amazing how quickly they can develop little tempers! 

She will eat just about anything. Her favorites are cheese, bananas, cheerios, Lara bars, turkey bacon, eggs, or crackers with hummus. The only things I can think of that she really doesn't like are blackberries or strawberries, sadly. She still nurses in the morning and evening and gets two bottles during the day at school. I'm not sure if I see an immediate end to the morning/evening sessions (which I don't mind in the least). She will only really nap once/day at school unfortunately, but still takes 2 on Saturdays (for the most part). Because of the nap situation, she is tired very early in the evenings and goes to sleep around 6:45 or earlier, and sleeps until around 6/6:30 AM. 

Molly loves to dance to music, clap her hands, and generally be "in" on the party. No one is funnier than her big sissy, who can in fact be (yes, still) pretty rough with her sometimes. This never fazes Molly...I guess because it's been her lifelong trial. She just smiles real big and laughs whenever she gets wrestled to the ground or put in a headlock if we can't get to her rescue fast enough.

She doesn't have many words yet but babbles all the time. "Hi" and "bye" are the main ones, but she says something akin to "Dada," and I think I'm "Baba" for now. She can sign for "please," "more," and "all done" at this point. She wears a size 4 diaper and 12-18m clothes (still working on getting her to keep shoes on!).

Since I really dropped the ball on monthly updates (blah blah second baby), I thought I'd put these photos into a collage, for posterity's sake. My collage skills are lacking as you can see, but I love watching her grow! It went by in the blink of an eye.

She is an easy one to celebrate. I can't wait to watch her little personality develop even more.

Happy birthday sweet Molly!

Thank you to Auntie E for our precious handmade quilt! A treasure indeed.

A 2nd First Birthday

Thursday, March 06, 2014

My baby turns one in a couple of days.

When Juliette turned one, I was 10 weeks pregnant with Molly already. This fact (wonderful surprise though it was) really helped me deal with all of the conflicting emotions surrounding Juliette's first birthday. I was mentally relieved somehow that I would get to do this baby thing again...because I wasn't ready for it to be over. Like any first-time mom, I was equal parts bursting with pride and wanting to dissolve in tears over this child whose infancy was ending. It was all very emotional and like I said, I was pregnant (wonder if that had anything to do with it?).

This time is so different! Molly is still such a baby (in the best way!). Jules probably was too at her birthday, but she was the biggest kid I'd ever had when she turned one, and I thought at the time that she was "so big." But hello! Molly still needs me a lot (duh), and her signs of independence are relatively few compared to her very busy and opinionated older sister. Plus, now I know how much FUN comes after the first birthday.

I'm also not quite as wistful for thinking "a year ago, I was still pregnant at this time" blah blah blah. It's still fresh enough in my memory to not quite miss it... yet.  :)

So, we're putting together a little birthday party for little sissy (which I will share, whether or not it comes together as I imagine)..."Molly Madness," if you will.

Stay tuned!

The Snow/Ice Cometh

Monday, March 03, 2014

Sunday, the temperature sat at 33 degrees for hours while it poured rain. Overnight, the water turned to ice and was followed by some snow, resulting in slippery roads and cancelled daily activities for all four of us. We loved spending the day at home together.

I love [non-sick] days at home with my girls and their daddy. We made pancakes, played, and enjoyed not having anywhere to be.

Molly is going through a fairly Mommy-loving/clingy phase. Juliette never went through it to this extent, and I can't say I really mind it. You should've seen the look on her face while we were all playing today, climbing into my lap over and over, smiling and just glad to be home.

I haven't had the opportunity to stay home full-time with my kiddos, so when snow days or sick days happen and any cabin fever sets in, I have to remind myself that "being home" every day doesn't look like these days (meaning, you are not homebound daily when it's your norm). They are exceptional days for everyone. 

Sue me, but I love winter. I love how pretty snow is. I love enjoying steamy soup for lunch and dinner. I love crackling fires and decaf coffee. I love that it's March and we [finally] got our snow day. 
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