Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Friday!

It certainly was a Happy Friday today. . . just LOOK at what I found at the cute Farmer's Market at the Country Village:
These are fresh boysenberries!!! If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you might know how incredibly hard these are to find (or you might have never tasted one before). Everyone up here sells blackberries, but I can never find boysenberries! And I found them today!!! I bought four pints of them and oh, they're so amazing! TONS more flavor than blackberries!

Some other happy-Friday-worthy stuff:

*Yesterday I had to take my dreaded glucose test at the doctor's (notice this post is not called Happy Thursday). When I took it on my last pregnancy, I barely failed it and had to come back for the 3-hour test of torture. I was just hoping and praying this would NOT happen again! It was bad enough to do it once!
Then today I noticed the doctor's office was calling, and my heart sank (basically, no news is good news. A call usually means you failed it). BUT, it turns out my glucose test was fine! WHEW!!! They were actually calling to tell me my blood count was way too low, and I need to start taking iron pills. No wonder I felt like I was seriously going to pass out after walking around the Farmer's Market in the sun with the kids for about an hour. Anemia and the third trimester usually go together for me, unfortunately. But I passed the glucose test! Whoo-hoo!!!

*Slurpees. I am all about the Slurpees lately. On a warm day, nothing hits the spot like an extra-large Cherry Slurpee! And 7-11's are so easy to find. They really are everywhere!

*Homemade Rice Krispie treats! (Yes, most of my Happy Friday stuff is about food. I'm pregnant, give me a break!) I made a whole pan of these for our camping trip and couldn't believe they were totally GONE by the end of the two-day trip. And Stephen didn't eat any! They were delicious and I'm totally making more this weekend. (They must be homemade to make me happy. I can't stand the blue foil-wrapped ones!)

*Hansen's Cherry Vanilla Cream soda. Does anybody else love this stuff? We usually only buy them when we go camping, so drinking one makes me think of camping every time!

*Watermelon, if it's a really good one. The perfect watermelon is like a slice of summery heaven! Hard to find, but very worth it when you do!

*The Route 44-sized Dr. Pepper with cherry and vanilla flavoring from Sonic. My guilty pleasure, for sure! We don't live very close to a Sonic, but there was one on the way (and the way home from!) our camping trip. Loved it!

*Discovering new ways to get Kirsten to ingest some veggies into her body, since she refuses to touch them if they're on her plate!
Veggie cheat #1: Goldfish Garden Cheddar crackers. There may not be a lot of veggies in each serving, but every little bit helps!

Veggie cheat #2: V8 Fusion Vegetable and Fruit juices. Since Kirsten wants to pretty much drink her body weight in juice every day, I feel a lot better giving it to her when she's getting a full serving of fruits and vegetables in each sippy cup!

What are some other ways to trick young kids into eating veggies? And what are your favorite summery foods and drinks lately?

Fun Finds!!!

I've decided to change the way I post reviews. So here's the new format:

1. Fun Finds- Adorable, awesome, and too-cute-not-to-share stuff for kids and babies! This will include items I've received to review and love, as well as things I randomly find and just want to share with all my readers!

2. Fabulous Finds- This is along the same lines as Fun Finds, except it will be stuff for moms and adults!

3. Frugal Finds- Deals that are too good to pass up!

Today's Fun Find I'm dying to share with you is. . . the most precious, adorable car seat cover in the entire world!!!

I waited all the way until I had my second baby to get a car seat cover. And let's face it. . . the Graco infant car seats, while incredibly safe and functional, are not known for their looks. Mine is navy blue with Winnie the Pooh fabric, and pretty much ugly as can be. I fell in LOVE with this car seat cover from Redbird Couture the minute I saw it online. I HAD to have it! And I have been loving it every day since then!!!

What I love about it:
1. It's GORGEOUS and just can't get any cuter!
2. The quality is amazing! Thick, extremely soft fabric that I wish I could ride around in all day the way newborns can. Natalie loved the cushy, wooly white fabric on the inside and she slept in it so well!
3. The Redbird design that I chose works equally well for boys and girls (someday. . . I WILL have a boy someday!)
4. Little loops are included on the sides for attaching toys and links.
5. I have seen a lot of car seat covers and this one is by FAR the softest, most adorable, and best quality of any I have ever seen! I will recommend it forever!

The price: $59! A true bargain for such a quality product that you will get tons of use out of!

*If you're not worried about keeping things gender-neutral, I also love this blossoms design!

I'd love some feedback! Do you like the new format for Fun Finds, Fabulous Finds, and Frugal Finds?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Smelling the S'Mores Already!!!

Every summer, I get camping cravings. I just start craving being outdoors in the forest, under the stars, and roasting marshmallows and sitting around a campfire! There's something so unbelievably cozy about it. And is it just me or do people always look their very best in the glow of firelight? This weekend we're taking the kids camping at a lake, and I'm pretty excited about it! There's lots to do to get ready, and of course it's a little stressful to camp with a baby, but I'm hoping it'll be a ton of fun!

One of my favorite things about camping is. . . making yummy s'mores! I bought all my supplies and I can't WAIT!
Do you take your young kids camping? Or do you think I'm crazy to do it? :) What are your favorite things to do with kids while camping?

*As a member of the Mom Bloggers Club (a really fun way to connect with other bloggers!) this post enters me in a contest to win a S'mores prize pack! Sounds good to me!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Pregnant Girl's Best Friends!

My little baby is really starting to move around in there! I've been feeling lots of flutters and kicks for the past few weeks, and they're just getting stronger. I'm at 25 weeks now, which sounds really far until I remember that I still have over 3 months to go. Crazy! It's starting to get really difficult to carry Natalie around with my big pregnant belly getting in the way. (Hint, hint, Natalie. . . time to start walking! I love crawling babies, but it's TIME. I need you to walk!!!)

I figure the nicest thing I can do right now is share some of my very favorite pregnancy things with my fellow baby-expecters. (Or future baby-expecters. Or anybody who will be pregnant at any time!) So here you go. . . my pregnancy must-have, life-saver, best friends are:

#1- (This is a really recent discovery, and I don't know how I lived without them). . .
"Secret Fit Belly" pants from Motherhood Maternity.

I got the khaki ones featured in this picture, and they are amazing! Lightweight fabric that can change from pants into capris, perfect for summer. My favorite thing about them really is the "Secret Fit Belly" top. I've been very uncomfortable lately in any pants that have the below-the-belly bands (you know what I'm talking about), because they're just too tight and constricting and hit at a really awkward part of my belly. But a lot of over-the-belly panels make me too hot in the summertime, with all that extra bulk. These pants have really lightweight, stretchy fabric that is SO comfortable you don't even realize it's there. It's smooth, breathable, and these are the most comfortable maternity pants I've ever owned. I want them in every color now!

#2- My body pillows. I have two, one on each side of me, and they really do help me sleep! I can't even remember where I bought them (it was back during my first pregnancy), and I got fuzzy slipcovers to make them extra soft and cozy.

#3- Tums Smoothies pills
Yes, I've reached that part of pregnancy when the heartburn starts kicking in at night when I lay down to sleep. So I take two or three of these pills right before bed and they really help with heartburn and preventing leg cramps, too. Don't even think about taking regular Tums (they taste like nasty pieces of chalk to me!) Tums Smoothies are the same price and they pretty much taste like candy. SO much better! I like the Berry Fusion flavor the best.

#4- LOTS of ice water!
Especially being pregnant in the summer, I down so much of it every day! I love our fridge's ice and water dispensers. It sure beats filling up ice trays a ton of times a day!

#5- A really comfy recliner chair.
Worth its weight in gold!

#6- Light, comfy maternity T-shirts from Old Navy or Gap Maternity. My long-time faves!

#7- The Kohl's maternity section (when it's on clearance especially!)
They don't always have awesome deals, but if you check back often you'll find some really great stuff. I recently found a cute maternity dress marked down to $7!

#8- Fresh fruit. This is always good in the summertime, and gosh I just LOVE fresh strawberries and watermelon lately. And if I could manage to find any boysenberries here in Washington I think I'd cry tears of joy. Blackberries are not the same!

#9- Ice cream bars!
I crave ice cream LOTS when I'm pregnant, and I find it's really easy to scoop myself a huge bowl of it. Ice cream bars are a much better way to indulge without going overboard. My recent favorites I got to try are the Breyer's Smooth and Dreamy bars. Creamy and delicious, these really hit the spot on a hot day! I love the chocolate chip cookie dough flavor!

It's such an exciting, life-changing event when you first find out you're pregnant. (This time was especially crazy for me, since it was a surprise and I hadn't been planning on getting pregnant until NEXT year!) Of course, my most memorable experience was when I found out I was pregnant for the first time EVER. We had been trying for six months and I was starting to get a little bit discouraged, so to see that positive pink line on the stick brought me the biggest rush of joy and excitement! I recently found out that e.p.t. started offering a free keepsake gift with purchase, so you don't have to save your pregnancy test result in the back of your bathroom drawer anymore. :) Click here to find out more about it. I think it's such a great idea!
I'm off to go sit in my comfy recliner some more. . . but I'd love to know what your favorite pregnancy must-haves are! Anything I've got to try out that I've missed here???

*My review of Breyer's and the e.p.t. keepsake gift were written while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central. I did receive products necessary to facilitate my review. I also received a gift certificate to thank me for taking time to participate. All opinions expressed are totally unbiased and I love sharing my favorite pregnancy must-haves with my readers!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adorable Etsy Shop. . . Made By Jewls Giveaway!!!

I know, it's been WAY too long and it's about time for another giveaway!

Get ready, girls. . . this is a good one!!!

My talented friend Julianne has the cutest Etsy shop called Made By Jewls, where she designs such adorable earrings. They're small, stylish, and would go with pretty much any outfit!
I just love all her fabric-covered button earrings, and this Abigail pair is one of my favorites:

I seriously think I would never have to take those off, because they would match just about everything I wear!

I'm lusting after these Little Birdie earrings. Aren't they too cute for words? And only $4.95 too!

These Flirty Pink Chrysanthemum earrings just scream fun! The flower earrings are $5.95, and a new design for her shop. She makes them in all kinds of colors. I love them!

Jewls is generously offering a great giveaway prize to the winner. . .
A $25 gift certificate for anything in her shop!!!
Yep, that will get you 4 or 5 pairs of earrings to choose! They can (of course) be all for you, or these would make such perfect gifts for your girlfriends and family members. Some come enter! You know you want to win this one!!!

Here's how to enter:
*Visit the Made By Jewls Etsy shop here and leave a comment on this post, telling me which pair of earrings is your favorite!

Get extra entries (up to 10!!!) when you:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Add her shop to your Etsy favorites.
3. Become a follower of Julianne's cute blog over here.
4. Like me on Facebook! Just click the button on my sidebar to become a Facebook fan!
5. Like Made By Jewls on Facebook by clicking here.
6. Go here to follow Made By Jewls on Twitter.
7. Talk about this giveaway on your Facebook status and link to this post!
8. Tweet about this giveaway and link to me!
9. Mention this giveaway on your blog and link to me!
10. Leave a new comment on any of my other recent blog posts (doesn't matter which one, I just love to read your comments!), and let me know you did.

*Please leave a separate comment for EACH entry, and make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner! This giveaway will close on July 29'th. Good luck!

*DEAL ALERT: Made By Jewls has a really fantastic deal going on right now. . . buy 3 pairs of earrings, get the 4'th pair for free! Don't miss it!

The Fun and the Fabulous Reviews. . . Toys!

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about being selected to be a member of the Infantino Test Drive Program (pretty exciting, I know!!!) And now I get to share my absolute favorite item I've received from them so far. . . the Jumbo Wheel Play Space! I thought my kids had outgrown all play mats and baby gyms. . . but not this one!

This brand NEW product (it's not even listed on their website yet) is SO awesome!

Here's what I love about it:

*It's BIG. This play space covers up a lot of ground! I like to spread it out on our living room floor and let Natalie roll and play all over it. As you can see from the photos, Kirsten just has to join her, and she's three years old! So this definitely is a product that will grow with your baby.

*It's covered with all kinds of fun sounds and textures. There's a mirror, teething toys attached, crinkly and squeaky fabrics, and fun animal faces.

*This would be really perfect to encourage a young baby to enjoy tummy time. I'm really excited to try it out with my new baby in the fall, and I'm sure we will get a TON of use out of it! I would recommend this Jumbo Wheel Play Space to any mom of a baby.

*This is Natalie's favorite thing about the Play Space. . . there's a detachable flower that plays music when you press on it. Natalie loves it and she'll crawl around holding it. SO cute!

*A cute, rare moment of Kirsten giving Natalie a hug. Awww, I love those moments!

I also got lucky enough to review another toy from Ebeanstalk. Check out this cute Jumbo Knob Pets Puzzle by Melissa and Doug! They make my very favorite puzzles for little ones. . . SO sturdy and durable, as well as being adorable! These big pieces are the perfect size for Natalie to play with (as long as she's not throwing them across the room. . . ouch! They're kinda heavy!) This puzzle is geared towards babies Natalie's age, around 1 year old, and Ebeanstalk makes it SO easy to find baby toys that are exactly right for your child's age! I love the way they set up their website, so you can search for toys by specific age (down to the month!) I could find this puzzle easily by searching for toys for 1 year olds, and then find toys for her older sister by looking at their fantastic toys for 2 year olds. Love it!
*I am a participant of a Mom Central campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products as a part of my participation. I also received a toy from Ebeanstalk, but was not compensated for my opinions.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Guess Who's 3???

I can't believe I'm the mommy of a 3 year-old! WOW!!!
Our cute Kirsten turned 3 in May! (And I'm just now posting about it. . . yeah, did I ever mention I'm a little behind on my blogging?)

We had lots of rainy days and bad weather throughout the entire month of May, so I was a little nervous about her party being rained out. But I planned it for a Saturday towards the end of May, and we actually got sunshine! It was a little cold and windy, but sunny and bright!

Her party was so much fun! We had great friends come celebrate with us, and lots of yummy food! Stephen was the master griller of hot dogs and brats, and I put together the fruit tray with caramel toffee dip and the chips and dip platters. The cute butterflies and the flower-shaped platters actually came from Pier 1. LOVE that store!

I thought it would be easier to make cupcakes for everyone instead of a regular cake. We were laughing (kind of) when my "easier" project turned into us working on these cupcakes until around midnight the night before the party. At least they turned out super cute! The flower-topped cupcakes were made by cutting up marshmallows with kitchen scissors, sprinkling them with sugar crystals, arranging them to look like petals, and giving them candle centers. Time-consuming, but adorable!!!

Kirsten was so thrilled by her special birthday balloons. I wonder what age she'll be when she actually gets more excited about presents than balloons? It hasn't happened yet!
*She actually took the entire balloon bouquet INTO bed with her for a couple of weeks after her party. It was funny but so adorable too!

Here are a bunch of the birthday girl's favorite things:

*Favorite things to do. . . Go down slides, play with balloons or balls, take baths with Natalie, go swimming or play in the water at the splash parks, bounce on trampolines, play in the sand at the beach, blow bubbles, and spend time with her favorite people.
*Favorite color. . . PINK!
*Favorite books. . . The Little Critter books. She loves finding the spider and the grasshopper on every page, and she constantly asks for these books every day before nap and bedtime.
*Favorite TV shows- Sesame Street and Play With Me Sesame, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse, and Little Bear.
*Favorite movies- Monsters Inc, Enchanted, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion King, and Follow That Bird.
*Favorite thing to wear. . . Hot pink sunglasses, and her hot pink "sandal shoes". She's not too picky about her outfits yet (which means I can still choose her clothes, hooray!) but she does insist on wearing her pink sandals, rain or shine.
*Favorite music groups. . . The Beach Boys and Abba! She also seems to love songs by Kelly Clarkson.
*Favorite animal. . . Probably dogs. She also loves the monkeys, giraffes, and gorillas at the zoo.
*Favorite foods. . . Ice cream, cake, suckers (pretty much anything sugary), hot dogs, french fries, chicken nuggets, watermelon, peaches, and cheese. She's a pretty typical picky toddler who won't touch vegetables and loves all the junk food. And no meal is complete without juice!
*Favorite thing to carry around the house. . . Balloons. She has a strange obsession with "tiny balloons." She wants us to blow them up so they're really small, and then she takes them to bed with her and takes them into the bath tub to wash them off too. Weird, huh? She doesn't like dolls or stuffed animals, yet gets attached to balloons! She's a funny girl!

*Kirsten had lots of fun playing at her party with her cute little friends. Saide even gave her a birthday kiss!

Kirsten's least favorite things- (This list really hasn't changed a whole lot since she was a baby. She still seems to hate a lot of the same things, such as. . . )

*Getting her hair combed, especially when it's wet. She still cries and screams, and always has.
*Being left in nursery at church without Daddy. She cries and cries until they bring her to come find us. It's hopeless, really!
*Hearing other kids cry. She's pretty much the most sensitive kid I've ever seen, and usually cries when her friends or other kids cry.
*Vegetables. She used to eat green beans and carrots really good, but not anymore.
*Talking on the phone. Even to people she loves, like Grandma. She's just not interested in the phone.

She's getting more independent as she gets older, and braver about going on the playground by herself. But she's still really attached to me and always wants me with her. I know I'll really miss that someday!

She also loves playing with Uncle Chance, one of her favorite people in the world!

Time to light the candle and sing "Happy Birthday". . .

Of course, Kirsten loved her cupcake!

Natalie had her first cupcake experience, and she was pretty excited about it!

The great thing about having a birthday party at the park (other than the nice scenery) is how everyone can be entertained at the playground. Natalie was really rocking it out in this police car!

Kirsten loves having Natalie with her. . . some of the time. I guess it's pretty typical. Sometimes they play together so great, and they laugh and it's just the cutest thing in the world! And other times Kirsten takes toys away from Natalie and hides them from her, and Natalie pulls her hair, and Kirsten cries, and Kirsten hits Natalie and goes to time out, and you get the picture. Normal sisterly behavior, so I've heard.

It's just amazing, all the stuff Kirsten knows how to do now! It's hard to believe she was ever as young as Natalie, and couldn't talk or run around by herself. Wow!

I didn't bring their swimsuits to the park, even though it's right on the shores of a beautiful lake. I figured they wouldn't get very wet. Yeah. . . guess who ended up carrying two soaking wet girls the long way back to the car after the party was over?
Kirsten had such a great birthday! I'm really grateful for the friends who came and celebrated with us at the party, and I missed everyone who lives too far away to come.

Kirsten is such an adorable, fun 3 year-old and I'm just excited to pieces to see her grow and learn even more this year!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

5 Things

I love lists! And I have a lot of random stuff to blog about. So here goes. . .

5 Things We've Been Up To Lately:

1. Going to parks on sunny days! I just LOVE this picture of Natalie. When this girl is happy, she's just completely adorable!

2. We took the kids to see Toy Story 3 in Imax 3D last Saturday. Just like everyone else, I loved it! And got teary-eyed at the end. Kirsten really enjoyed the movie too, and thought it was a great reward for doing so well at potty training. Natalie just liked the popcorn. :)

3. Since we saw the movie at the Pacific Science Center, we played in the exhibits while we were there and Natalie was pretty fascinated by the butterflies.

4. Playing the harp for Saturday weddings. It's been COLD for most of the outdoor weddings (including one at the beach. . . bummer!), but this last week I actually played for one with nice weather! It was great!

5. Picking up large messes. The house is just in a never-ending clutter cycle, because the kids pick stuff up and just leave things everywhere, all the time. I'm dying to know the answer to this question. . . at what age do kids actually start playing with their toys? Kirsten just likes to scatter hers around! It's just getting old!

5 Things I'm Really Looking Forward To:

1. I'm SO excited to go see Eclipse tonight!!! Most people I know have seen it already, and I just can't wait!

2. The Lilith Fair concert at the Gorge (really breathtaking outdoor ampitheater!) this Saturday! I am loving Sarah McLachlan's new CD and have been dying to see her in concert for the longest time. With lots of other great girl bands playing too, I am really excited!

3. Going camping in July at Steamboat Rock State Park. It's a campsite on a lake, and I've never been there before but have heard great things about it. Now we need to buy a bigger tent for our family!

4. Spending a weekend in Utah in August for my cousin's wedding, and then heading down to San Diego for a week with the kids and my parents. San Diego. . . it's just been too long!

5. Camping again at Lake Wenatchee for Labor Day weekend!

5 Things That Are New Around Here:

1. Our plastic pool, complete with slide, that is Kirsten's personal heaven on earth. When it gets warm enough (which has only happened. . . um. . . once since we bought it), I set it up in the front yard and Kirsten has such a blast playing in the water! She asks to go in the pool every day.

2. I'm wearing ALL maternity clothes now (or my longest shirts and pajama pants) and nobody would be in any doubt that I'm pregnant. I suddenly look really pregnant! And I'm starting to feel it too. It's weird to be the pregnant lady who's also carrying a baby around. Also getting difficult and not so comfortable. :P

3. Making bread with my new bread machine! I made a Honey Whole Wheat loaf yesterday, and it is GOOD. Slathered with honey butter, it makes the perfect snack. I love this machine!

4. Kirsten's obsession with sunglasses. She always wants them when we go outside now, even on cloudy days, and sometimes she won't even take them off inside the stores. It's pretty funny!

5. The cute little princess trike we bought her for her birthday. She still has some trouble with the steering, but it's SO cute watching her try to ride it and seeing Stephen help her with it.