Mother Nature was very good to me for my birthday! We had sunny skies and temps in the 70s & 80s for my birthday weekend, and it was nothing short of delightful! Friday was my actual birthday, and it was a school day for Miss Shelby...so I was up early as usual getting us ready to get out the door by 8:30. Shelby came bounding down the stairs at 7am to give me a big birthday hug. Her excitement quickly waned as she started grilling me asking me where my balloons and streamers were. ;)  Needless to say, she was less than impressed with the lack of frills that comes along with a grown-up's birthday. ;)  Once Shelby was at school, Hadley and I treated ourselves to breakfast at Chick-fil-a! She is always a fun date!

After school, I got the girls fed and put down for naps as quickly as I could b/c my friend Angela was coming over with Panera for lunch. Her hubby had the day off b/c he had just finished up night float, so he held down the fort with all 4 boys so Angela & I could have some rare girl time on my birthday! It was such a nice treat!

After the girls' naps, we headed to the playground to enjoy the gorgeous weather until Derek came home from work with Freddy's in hand for dinner. I couldn't believe I ate "out" for all three meals that day...but if you can't do that on your birthday, when can you do it?! The girls were very excited to make birthday cupcakes that night with me after dinner!

Hadley had already gone to bed by this point, and Shelby was anxious to sing to Mommy before she had to go to bed too...so we quickly iced two cupcakes and put candles in so we could do the birthday song! Shelby is singing to me in this picture :)

Of course she wanted to help me blow out the candles!
Two squeaky clean girls after bath :)

On Saturday morning, the Gallimores surprised us by dropping by for a visit with Shipley's donuts...it was a great start to our day! Then that evening, Derek & I had a sitter scheduled so we could celebrate my birthday with a date night! We had originally thought about doing dinner & a movie, but it always ends up being somewhat stressful trying to squeeze both of those in without being pressed for time. Invariably, we'll get to a restaurant only to find out there's a longer wait than we'd anticipated, and then we're left rushing to get to the movie in time...it seems insignificant, but date nights are special treats & I don't want them to be spoiled by us having to rush..that's not any fun! Anyhow, Derek suggested that we just go to La Cantera for dinner & then walk around window shopping....and I'm so glad he did, we had the most PERFECT night! We went to one of my fave places for dinner--Cheesecake Factory! Of course there was a 30 minute wait, but instead of that stressing us out as we frantically watched the clock worrying we'd be late for a movie....we got to leisurely enjoy some people-watching while waiting for our table . It was so nice, and it didn't hurt that we got to wait for our table in the beautiful weather! After dinner, we walked around and Derek let me indulge in some birthday shopping. :) 

I felt like we were re-living our pre-kids days on our date night! When we lived in Virginia, my hair salon was in an upscale mall. I would always get my hair cut on a Friday evening after work, and then Derek would meet me at the mall afterward for dinner at Cheesecake Factory. After dinner, we would walk around and shop before heading home. It may not seem like a big deal, but it was so fun to celebrate my birthday feeling like our old selves! ;)
So far 32 is off to a great start...here is how we spent our day today! ;)
I was sitting in the shade "supervising" :)

Can't wait to see what else 32 has in store for me!!


Throwback Thursday, Birthday Style!

When I was looking through old pictures yesterday to find the snow pics for my What's Up Wednesday post, I stumbled across this gem! And since my birthday is tomorrow, I figured a good Throwback Thursday post was in order for today! :)

Of course Derek's eyes are closed and he looks ridiculous, but I had to include this picture--three of my favorite people in the whole world!
My first ever birthday celebrated with Derek! Hard to believe this will be my 13th birthday that we've celebrated together! Time flies! This was my 20th birthday and it fell on a weekday, so my mom drove up to my apartment in Athens with 20 balloons and cupcakes for me. :)

The weekend after my birthday, I went home to celebrate my birthday with my parents & sister..and Derek tagged along, too. :)  These are among the first pictures we have us together once we started dating. :)  Doesn't Derek have such a baby face?!


What's Up Wednesday!

I haven't done one of these in a couple months, but I thought I'd give it another whirl! The What's Up Wednesday link-up is the last Wednesday of every month..hard to believe it's already the end of January!!

What we're eating this week...

We have a broccoli cheese soup recipe that we LOVE, but it's a bit spicy and Hadley doesn't like it. She is however a HUGE fan of Panera's broccoli cheese soup, as am I! So when I found a copycat recipe for Panera's soup {HERE}, I was thrilled!! I was so excited to make it on Monday night, but I was soooo disappointed. It tasted NOTHING like Panera's soup! We'll be sticking to our old recipe {HERE} for sure! Last night we had leftovers of {THIS} meal we made over the weekend. Then the rest of the week will be rounded out with some taco soup {recipe HERE} that we have left over in the freezer & French dip sandwiches.

The girls and I have also almost completely devoured a loaf of pumpkin bread {recipe HERE} this week, and it's only Wednesday. ;)  Pumpkin bread is a favorite in our house--one of the few foods that all four of us absolutely love!

What I'm reminiscing about...
With all of the snow that the DC area got over the weekend, Derek & I were reminiscing about the big snowstorms we had while living there.

My car was under there somewhere!

My mom was up visiting us during our biggest storm. This was the two of us standing in the entrance to our condos...you know, where cars should be able to drive on. ;)  Look at all that snow!!

I keep thinking about how much fun it was to be snowed in as a teacher...I'm pretty sure I stayed in my pajamas all day and watched marathon reruns of 90210. Heaven! But I seriously cannot imagine living there now...snowed in with two energetic kids?! No thanks! After raising small kids for the past five & a half years in very warm climates, anything below 60 degrees is too cold for us! ;)

What I'm loving...
Shelby and I started Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle this week, and I'm loving reading it with her!! I read a few of Beverly Cleary's books as a kid and then again during my children's literature courses at UGA, but I'd never read this one before! It's so fun!! Neither of us ever wants to stop at the end of a chapter. ;)
Snuggled up on the couch after naptime with Fauna Ponin Smith (aka the Build-A-Bear) for
a chapter of The Mouse and the Motorcycle

What we've been up to...
There's not a whole to fill you in on since I've been keeping up with my "Life Lately" posts!! :)

What I'm dreading...
I'm dreading the thought of leaving Shelby's school. We adore everything about Marvelously Made, and the idea of Shelby staying there for half-day Kindergarten and having Hadley in the same school for preschool is pretty much perfection to me. I'm totally okay with moving, and I'm excited for this next chapter...but I just want to take our school along with us. ;)  Is that really too much to ask?! The actual move, house-hunting, adjusting to a new city...none of that is stressing me out too much.  I mean, I know that will all be hard, but we've done that before and I know we can do it again. But I am definitely dreading the school search. Finding a good Kindergarten program (Shelby's first "real" school) AND a good preschool program (Hadley's first ever school experience!) seems like such a big decision. I know we'll find something wonderful for both of them, but it won't be Marvelously Made. But since we don't have official orders for our move this summer, I feel like that's a perfectly good excuse to completely avoid the inevitable school search..at least for now. ;)

What I'm working on..
For the past two weeks or so, Shelby & I have been hard at work on her Valentines! Just like last year, she decided to hand-make her Valentines for her friends at school. I learned my lesson the hard way last year, so we started very early this year! :)

What I'm excited about...
My birthday on Friday! :)

What I'm watching/reading...
Of course we're watching American Idol & loving it! Shark Tank & Beyond the Tank are also frequently viewed at our house. And, Derek's plethora of survival shows. I'm not a fan of reading more than one book at a time, but I'm reading two right now...only b/c I had been on the wait list for FOREVER for the second book and I was too excited to wait until I finished the first book before I started reading it! ;)  We'll see how I handle this whole reading two books at once thing, so far it's not working out too well! ;)

What I'm listening to..
I'm currently listening to the sound of my washing machine. :)  But we're still listening to our new Pentatonix CD in the car every day. :)

What I'm wearing...
I'm wearing my {BLARDIGAN} today. It was super chilly here this morning {read 40 degree temps}, and I would much rather dress in layers to avoid wearing a coat at all costs.

What I'm doing this weekend...
We have a sitter lined up on Saturday evening, so Derek & I can have a date night to celebrate my birthday! So excited!

What I'm looking forward to next month...
I'm looking forward to celebrating Valentine's Day with my little family & the long weekend thanks to Presidents Day! I'm sure my mom didn't do something for us every single time there was a little holiday when we were growing up, but I do have very fond memories of my mom getting us little special surprises for Valentine's Day every now & again. Now that I'm a mama, I enjoy doing the same for our girls! I've got their goodies all tucked away for Valentine's Day, and I'm excited to see their faces when they see them!

What else is new...
Nothing else is really new for us, we're just in "waiting mode" for Derek's orders to come through...which could be a while. ;)  But since nothing is new, I'll share a random pet peeve of mine b/c I witnessed it yesterday at the library. ;)  Why in the world do parents buy kid-sized character backpacks for their toddlers and then wear it on their back or shoulder as a diaper bag?!?! Do they not realize how ridiculous this looks?! If you want your kid to have a backpack, then let them have them backpack! If you need a diaper bag, please for the love of Mike...carry a diaper bag!!!
Happy Hump Day, Everyone!! :)


Life Lately!

We had a great short week! Here's a little peek at what we've been up to around here...

More fine motor activities...this time we were painting with Qtips cut in half :)

Every Tuesday we go to storytime at the library, and it's one of the highlights of our week! I love our library & the fact that there is an amazing park right behind the library is just icing on the cake! We walked over to the park after storytime to play with a couple friends, and the girls had the best time as always! I never really thought about it before, but my friend at the park commented how amazed she was that Hadley held her own on the playground with the other "big kids" and didn't stay close to Shelby at all. Again, I never really thought about it until Anne mentioned it, but Hadley really is a lot more confident and outgoing in new social settings that Shelby was at this age. I think that confidence in Hadley comes from having her big sister with her though. I love that they have each other!

We had to wake this sleepyhead up from her nap on Tuesday, I guess all that running around the park wore her out! She cracks me up b/c if she ever has a hoodie on, she always has to put the hood on while she's in her crib. ;)  She was also trying to hide from my camera in this picture!

Waking up our sleepyhead from nap again on Wednesday, the flash made her start to stir which is why the pic is kind of blurry. Ever since she was little bitty, she's always liked to snuggle with her bumper pads. :)

Between these next two pictures, I felt like I was channeling my inner Emily! ;)  I texted my sister this next pic b/c I knew she would be so proud..my first time ever wearing leggings with a long tunic! It was a big moment for me. ;)

And I always love when Emi wears glitter on her nails, so I totally did it this week, too! It was fun!! Of course Shelby {who always does patterns with her nail polish and weird color combinations} told me that putting glitter only on one finger was "pretty weird." ;) 

Aside from dinner with the Goins at Bigz on Friday evening & church today, we've been home pretty much all weekend and it's been delightful! With all of our time at home, I was so happy we finally got to decorate gingerbread houses! We got all the fixings for gingerbread houses & gingerbread men and had planned to do them over Christmas with my parents, but we just ran out of time. The box of stuff has just been collecting dust at the bottom of our pantry ever since then. The girls were thrilled with this activity on a cold morning, and I was thrilled to reclaim the space in my pantry! ;)

Have a great week, everyone!! :)


Top Five Friday: Good Reads!

Here's a few good books I've read lately! I'm always looking for new book recommendations, so if you have any please feel free to leave them in the comments! :)

5. Winter Stroll by Elin Hilderbrand

I posted about the first book {Winter Street} in this trilogy {HERE}. Winter Stroll is the second book in the series, and they're all set at Christmas time...the third & final book comes out next Christmas, I can't wait to read it and see how everything turns out!

4. See Me by Nicholas Sparks

This one is by Nicholas Sparks, and back in the day I used to love Nicholas Sparks books. It's been a while since I've read anything by him, and this one definitely took me a while to get into but once I did I really enjoyed it! It's pretty suspenseful!

3. Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle

This book is by the author of the Big Mama blog Melanie Shankle. This is her third memoir, and I've loved all 3 of them! The first one was about marriage, the second about motherhood, and this one about friendship. Reading Nobody's Cuter Than You made me so thankful for the friends I have in my life!

2. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
If you've read Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train, you'll love this one too!

1. My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

This is a children's trilogy that I read aloud with Shelby. As well-versed as I am in children's literature, this series was brand new to me! Both of us really enjoyed it!

Happy Friday, Everyone!! :)


Organization Inspiration

I stumbled across the "Hi, Sugarplum!" blog the other day and read {THIS} bathroom organization post she wrote a while back. It reminded me that I've been wanting to make a visit to our local Dollar Tree store. It seems like every organizational blog post I read raves about the cheap yet practical storage solutions that the Dollar Tree carries. So I finally went, and I'm so glad I did!! They had a bunch of little white plastic bins in varying sizes that are perfect for organizing drawers! I had tons of baskets just like these that I used to use in my classroom for all sorts of things, but they've all been re-purposed somewhere in our house. I'm so happy to have a new stash of these handy little bins to use whenever the organization bug bites!

One tip that I especially loved from Hi Sugarplum's post was keeping a his and hers bin of "getting ready" stuff {ie fash wash, lotion, deodorant, etc} tucked away in a cabinet. Whenever you're getting ready, pull the bin out, use what you need, then store the bin back in the cabinet. Why didn't I think of this sooner?!?! Derek & I have been using the his & hers "getting ready" bins since we lived in Virginia, but we've always kept our bins out on the vanity. It never once occurred to me to tuck them away in the cabinet, but it's GENIUS! We keep our bathroom about a million times cleaner now! Even though we always had the bins, one {or both} of us would have a tendency to leave a bottle of something right next to our bin...why we couldn't go the extra two inches and actually place said bottle inside the bin is truly beyond me. Then when one bottle was left out on the vanity, another would soon follow. It was a vicious cycle. But now that we store the bins in the cabinet, everything magically gets put back where it should! It's delightful! And since our vanity is completely cleared off now, it's soooo much easier to keep it clean & sparkling day in and day out! I love it!

The entire bathroom organization probably only took a grand total of 15-20 minutes, but it made such a big difference! We purged sooo much stuff that we no longer used or needed, which felt really good! Now that we feel pretty confident we're going to be moving somewhere {even though we don't quite no where!} this summer, we're starting to feel the itch to purge like we did in the months leading up to our move to San Antonio. I'm thrilled this bathroom organization got us on the right track despite the fact that I accidentally threw away my powder in my haste this weekend..oops! I didn't realize it until this morning when I was getting ready, and of course we'd just taken all the trash out the night before in preparation for trash day today. Thankfully, the trash truck hadn't come yet and the bag of trash it was in was right on top in the trash can..never a dull moment! ;)

Also, totally random....but I loved the Martha Stewart adhesive bookplates {aka label holders} pictured in Hi Sugarplum's photos on her baskets. Over Christmas I reorganized our pantry with baskets, and I thought the bookplates would be perfect for them! Until I looked them on Amazon {HERE}...holy cow!! Why in the world are those things so expensive?!


Life Lately!

Woohoo, I've kept up with my {GOAL} of clearing pictures off my phone for "Life Lately" blog posts for two weeks in a row now! :) 

One of the highlights of our week was my friend Angela's birthday on Tuesday. I had planned on dropping off donuts & flowers for her early that morning on our way to storytime at the library. Even though I love our kids, it doesn't feel very birthday-ish to have a weekday birthday as a stay-at-home mama. Something about mothering little ones all day with minimal adult interaction doesn't really say birthday to me...so I thought this would be a nice way to brighten Angela's special day! Of course, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get some donuts for ourselves, too. ;)  This was our first time eating our donuts inside Dunkin Donuts..both girls loved their little donut tables! :)

That evening we went over to the Goins' house to celebrate Angela's birthday with dinner & cake. The kids had a great time playing together, and we were so thankful to get to celebrate another birthday with this family that is so special to us!

On Wednesday, Hadley and I were out running a few errands while Shelby was at school. I always feel bad for Hadley on school days b/c we have to whisk her out of her crib and jump in the car to get to school on time when all she ever wants to do is sit and read books. As soon as we got home from our errands, she asked for me to read her a story...so that's just we did! Here we are snuggled up on the coach for a reading marathon before picking up Big Sister! :)
Love my one-on-one time with this crazy girl!

This week we had a little impromptu conference with the director of Shelby's preschool who also happens to be one of her teachers about her pencil grasp. Despite the fact that Shelby has fantastic penmanship and can write all day long, she still grasps writing instruments with her entire fist. We're still hopeful this will correct itself on its own in due time, but in the mean time we're going to try to amp up the fine motor activities at home to help her gain more strength in her hands. One of the activities we did that was a big hit with both girls was painting with pom-poms!


We were all pretty pumped for a three day weekend with gorgeous weather! We spent our Saturday morning at the zoo.

After the zoo, we stopped off for a quick lunch at Panera on our way home.

Both girls are a huge fan of the squeeze yogurts at Panera b/c that's something they
don't get at home. :)

Hadley was thrilled to have her own cup of broccoli cheddar soup!

We stayed home Saturday evening and had leftovers for dinner, but the girls enjoyed doing {THIS} rain cloud activity again. We hadn't done this in a really long time, but it occurred to me that this would be another great fine motor activity for both girls.

Love Hadley's look of concentration here ;)

I didn't take any pictures of the rest of our weekend, but it's been wonderfully relaxing! Aside from church and a trip to OP Schnabel park, we've just been at home enjoying the extra time with Daddy! Then we wrapped up the weekend perfectly--we got the girls bathed & in bed by 7:30, so we could enjoy some Outback To Go just the two of us! Such a nice treat for us! Now we're curled up on the couch watching TV & looking forward to a short 4 day week with warmer temps!