Good Golly Miss Mollie

Well hello there Miss Mollie –

I haven’t written you a letter since your first birthday and now you are a big 20 month old!  You’ve been rattling in my head a lot more lately and I wanted to give you a snapshot of your life right now, as viewed by your Aunt.


A buzzword right now is ‘spirited’ when it comes to describing kids, but I think it is a nice way to say ‘hard headed’. You are a bit of both – but that is a good thing, I promise. You know what you want and you are determined to figure out how to get it. Even it requires you to turn on your Barry Charm. Keep that up kid – it will come in handy when you are in the corner office.

You are so, so kind.  I love when your mommy posts pictures of you holding your doll or when you pat Mike on the head.  You are already such a good friend to him and I know in the future you will continue to be friends and eventually partners in crime.  And ugh, the hugs! I love that you are full on wrapping arms around and meaning it.

You have the fashion sense of a socialite. Girl, you got it going on and you know it. Boots with leggings, skirts with understated frills and hair bows out the wazoo. When I am old and grey, will you visit me in the nursing home and make sure I am dressed nicely?

My little chow hound you make me belly laugh any time food is involved. You could be playing quietly and notice I have a piece of food and you start circling like a shark. Then you flash that smile and ‘wander’ over as if you just happened to be in the area and curious. Once I share a few bites I can kiss the rest of my meal goodbye into your open hand. Never, ever be afraid to eat sweet girl.

Another thing I love about you is your walk. It says, ‘I am going somewhere and you can either hang out until I get back, or follow me and try to keep up’.  I have no doubt you will be leading the pack and with your personality – they will want to follow.

I love you Mols! xo

Aunt Jay Jay

What’s Under Our Tree?

Someone is going to have a super fun Christmas this year, and anticipating that means S. and I will have a blast as well. Last year Mikey was six months old and we were trying to convince him to crawl. Now he is 18 months old and we are trying to convince him to sit down for 5 minutes.

We’ve talked for years about how our holidays would look and it was agreed that gifts would never be the main focus. But man, it’s hard. There are so many things that Mike would LOVE. It’s hard not to go overboard.  Also, a toddler’s interests are as fleeting as a snowflake. I made a call to Santa to make sure we didn’t double up on gifts, and he gave me a list of what he is going to be bringing Mike. Along with our gifts – here is what will be under our tree this year:


{Wheelie} This is really a Hanukkah present, but one of my favorite finds. When we went to Chibis they had a few of these, and he loved ‘driving’ it around. Plus, he is into carrying tall things – windshield scrapers, brooms, umbrellas and his corn popper.

{Nerf Balls} S. picked this set out for Mike in hopes of encouraging an athlete who will make lots of money when we are in our old age. Not really (but really), but what toddler doesn’t love throwing things? At least these are soft.  I also like that S. picking out one gift is fast becoming a tradition.

{Twilight Turtle} This is a baby shower staple I didn’t register for, but is going to be the gift I picked out for Mike. Since we are moving a few weeks after Christmas, I thought it might be a nice, calming bedtime ritual that will help ease the transition.

{Books} Of course we got Mike a bunch of books and not because we want to encourage him to read – he has that down pat. I was excited to combine two of his favorite things: The Itsy Bitsy Spider and finger puppet books. We also got him a few Curious George books as well.

{KidKraft Toolbench} I had no idea there were so many tool bench options out there. This one got great reviews and seemed on par with our budget. I think Mike will really like having his own ‘station’ to stand at and do ‘stuff’. In his head he is doing important things, I am sure.

{B. Parum Pum Pum Drum} This kid. If he can hit it and it makes noise, he is going to beat on it. This is SO darn cute with all the shakers inside.

{VTech Touch and Swipe Phone} Mike has already mastered the touch and swipe on our devices, so why not get him one of his own? This was originally a stocking stuffer, but I think it would be better wrapped.  Last year we got him a Fisher Price Flip Phone. It’s time to upgrade, dontcha think?

What’s under your tree?

Keep Rolling

How is it already Wednesday? I try to post twice a week, but the past few days I have been consumed with our next adventure – moving! That’s right. We are heading out of Northern Virginia to Crofton Maryland. We will be closer to family, be able to afford a bigger rental and, well, not have to fight with Route 66 traffic which is slowly but surely stealing our souls.

We are really going to miss our apartment complex and the friends we have here, but at the end of the day, this is a great opportunity for us.  Now we just have to secure daycare, a dog walker, transfer medical files, register our car … and in my case, worry that this move will be discussed in Mike’s therapy sessions down the road. How we RIPPED him from the only home he knew. Of course, I moved when I was about his age and remember absolutely nothing, but what is being a mom without having some sort of guilt? Boring. That’s what.

So instead of writing about moving woes, I will instead share some pictures from our fall family shoot with Keri from Bows&Burlap Photography. She’s affordable and amazing – which says a whole lot in this area.

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November 2014

Dearest Baby Boy Who is No Longer a Baby –
You are seriously no longer a baby. I mean, you will always be MY baby, but you are clearly a toddler. A running, climbing, vocal, sponge of a toddler and I am loving every minute of it!

Kid, you blow my mind almost every day by popping out with a new word, dance or skill. The other night we were cleaning up from dinner and Daddy-O said ‘say all done’. You looked up and said ‘all done’. While Daddy-O and I stared at each other in disbelief, you acted like it it was no big deal and you’ve been saying it since the delivery room.

Daddy and I were also talking the other night that you are so purposeful now. When you walk somewhere, it is for a reason. We might not know it, but you sure do. You are ‘helping’ around the house by putting your shoes in the basket and carrying the broom around.

You are also very purposeful when you are unhappy. We are working on gentle hands because when you get worked up you tend to slap, but when we say no and hold your hand you immediately burst into hysterical tears. I am thinking it is because you are frustrated and also because you did something that made us upset. You are learning though, just like we are.



Here are some highlights from your November:

{Snuggle Bug} You are our snuggle bug! You stride right on up and settle into our laps and lean back. You also have managed to climb on the couch to sit with us and usually cover us up with blankets. What I love most about this is it’s on your terms. I always joke about stealing kisses from you, but it is the best feeling in the world when YOU chose to snuggle. And damn if you aren’t the best snuggler.

{Words} Your vocabulary is quickly growing and I can’t even keep up with my list! Applesauce (app-o-saw), airplane (air-pain), up, baby (bay-BE), Wubba (bubba), bellybutton (bell-butt), Curious George (or-g), bye bye (buh-bye), Oh Toodles (oh toooooo)

{Thanksgiving} This year’s Thanksgiving was vastly different. You aren’t a baby, remember? You and your cousin Mollie were such troopers with all the activity. Grandma’s carrots were your favorite. You got lots of time with Mollie and even hugged each other!

{Christmas Tree} We were so excited to put up the tree this year because you were going to love it – and we were right! We put it up while you were napping and the minute you saw it you started pointing like ‘look! A tree’! We ‘decorated’ it together and you were very interested in the ornaments. We are letting you take them off the tree and play with them (since they aren’t breakable at your level) and thankfully the newness has worn off. Grandma came over to babysit one day and it was the first thing you led her to.

{Interests} Your interests are changing every day, but you are still a lover of books. Not so much being read to, but reading yourself. We’ve gotten in the habit of putting a book in the crib with you and that buys us a little more time between when you wake up and when you want to get up. Also Curious George, anything stick like (brooms, windshield scrappers, etc), chewy fruit snacks, and doing choreography to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, BINGO and Itsy Bitsy Spider.
The next few months are going to be really busy with the holidays and moving – but just having you around makes it more fun.

I’ll eat you up I love you so!

Rain Drops on Roses

I was laying in bed this morning thinking of all the things I love right now. That’s normal right?

I decided to channel my inner Oprah and compile a list of my favorite things. And guess what? Most are in your budget. How much are bright copper kettles going for these days anyway?

fav things

{Peapod Grocery Pickup} I have always enjoyed grocery shopping, but I’ve been so busy that taking two hours out of my weekend seems like too much. Enter Peapod‘s grocery pickup. I’ve seen this concept for awhile and decided to try it out. I downloaded the app, entered our list and sent it to our local Giant for a pickup window that worked for my commute home. Last night was cold and rainy, but I pulled up to the sign, called the number and a [poor, underpaid] employee came out and loaded up my car. So stinking easy and only $5 charge. BUT I saved a lot of money on not impulse buying in the store.

{Spark of Amber Bracelet} When Mike was teething we used an amber necklace because of amber’s healing properties. I am not 100% sure if it worked, but anyone with a teething baby understands that parents try crazy things to help. Amber is the only fossil resin containing 3 to 8% of succinic acid which acts as a major therapeutic substance to the human body so many adults also wear amber jewelry for their ailments (I make no claims that this is true). Spark of Amber sent me their Mother’s Bracelet (complete with Mike’s, S’s and my birthstone) to try. I’ve been wearing it for a few days and feel calmer. Perhaps it’s just in my head, but either way – being calmer helps! It is also a reminder of those I love. It makes a great gift for a new parent!

{Snack and Play} We travel quite a bit this time of year to my parent’s house which is about three hours. Mike has decided he doesn’t want to sleep in the car anymore, he much rather throw his books and Wubba on the floor and then cry. What’s a parent to do (aside from move closer like we are)? Buy a Snack and Play Travel Tray. It’s genius. It snaps around the kid and is a soft tray with a lip. Throw some Goldfish on there, unpack the crayons … it all stays on the soft tray. Unless your kid is a thrower of course. It even has pockets on the side for extras. If you are a family on the go, you need this product. Star Kids sent me this product for free to test, but they didn’t pay for my review. 

{Serial Podcast} It is no secret my love of podcasts, but this one? This is amazing. It’s hosted by Sarah Koenig and from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial follows one true story over the course of a whole season. They follow the plot and characters and no one knows what happens at the end of the story until they get there. This season (the first one) is based around a local murder from 1999. I could tell you what happened, but after listening to the podcast so far, I am not sure myself. All I know is a 19 year old was arrested for murdering his girlfriend and was sentenced to life in prison, but the facts don’t totally add up. It’s REALLY well done and worth the binge listen.

{Gilmore Girls} I have never seen the popular teen dramedy Gilmore Girls. Shocking right? I am not sure how I missed this because I now know it is right up my alley. I mean, a fast talking, mother and daughter team, living in a place where it is always autumn, overcoming odds while always being in a love triangle? It’s like my life story. But not. I have been binge watching on Netflix and so far it everything I hoped it would be and more.

Been There, Done That: Cub Run RECcenter, Chantilly, VA

One of the things I am going to miss about living in Northern Virginia is the Cub Run RECcenter. I grew up in a rural area and the only ‘rec center’ we had was the armory which had a basketball court or the YMCA in the next town over. The YMCA had a lap pool, but we didn’t belong and I probably only went a handful of times for birthday parties.

We discovered Cub Run when we wanted to sign Mikey up for swimming ‘lessons’ when he was 6 months. I think the first time we pulled into the parking lot both S. and I said ‘whoa’ at the same time. It was a huge, new building with an enclosed water slide protruding from the side.


Inside the door the smell of chlorine will hit you, but the lobby is beautiful with a wall of windows looking into a very clean, spacious fitness center. The pool is downstairs and it is not JUST a pool. It’s a leisure pool with a 30-foot-high slide that snakes outside the building. It’s a 20-foot-high slide with an open tube, It’s a spa, a vortex, a lazy river, and an open shallow water area with a water playground. What’s a water playground? It’s a zero depth entry pool with a small slide and water spray features.  Basically – it’s a kid’s dream and parent’s oasis.

Of course, there is a lap pool on the other side, but for the sake of a review, let’s pretend everyone has a baby or toddler.

After paying our $8 per adult (in county fee) since we aren’t members and high-fiving that Mike’s admission is free (kids under 4), we needed to change. There is a big locker room and four family changing rooms with a personal bathroom, changing tables and a shower. During peak times there might be a wait, but in the dozen times we’ve been I don’t remember a long wait to change. Don’t forget to pack your swim diapers! It’s a rule.

Mike loves the water and thankfully it is pretty warm so there isn’t the shock of getting in. We’ve gone a few different times during the day and it is never really packed. Make sure you check the schedule though, on the weekends they are closed for lessons before noon, then it’s open swim.

Mike really enjoys putting his finger over the water sprays and trying to figure out how to run in the water. We took him around the bend to the ‘deep’ end and he enjoyed it just as much. It’s a really well laid out pool. His threshold is about an hour and a half before the water and white noise of kids makes him really sleepy. It’s a challenge to keep him awake until we get home.

At 45 minutes after the hour, the lifeguards take a break for 15 minutes which is just enough time to use the bathroom and dry off a little bit. If you don’t want to rent a locker, there are plenty of cubbies in the pool area to stow your stuff and keep an eye on it while swimming.

Cub Run RECcenter is our go-to for some fun on a cold or rainy day.

Quick and Dirty:
CostWe pay $8 per adult and kids under 4 are free
Age Group? Fun for all ages
Parking? A lot of spots in a parking lot
Food Options? Nope! Unless you are having a party or buy ice cream bars from the front desk, the pool is a no food zone.
Stroller Friendly? I am going to say yes. You probably don’t want to take it to the pool, but there is room to stow one.
Changing Tables? Yep! In both men and women’s bathrooms
Safety: Lots of lifeguards and life vests in a variety of sizes to use.
See you there? For sure.