Merry Merry Everything!

A few weeks ago I realized we hadn’t done a family photo shoot and we managed to miss all the mini-sessions. I think it’s so important to have a pro do pictures at least once a year, so I reached out to my Facebook friends and found Dana Lorentz Photography.

She got the best photo with Charlie EVER. And despite it being SO windy (we were basically in a wind tunnel) and Mike NOT being happy, we got a few good shots. I mean, let’s not sugar coat it – this is our life with a toddler.

Here’s our 2015 family pictures and our card.

image1 IMG_0894 IMG_0895 IMG_0898 IMG_0899 IMG_0904 IMG_0914 IMG_0918 IMG_0923 IMG_0924

And finally ….card

Friday Five: Holiday Movies

I am not really one for choosing to listen to Christmas music, but when it comes to Christmas movies, that is another story. Sunday afternoons in December (and now November) when Mike and S. take their naps it is my time to snuggle under a blanket and turn on Hallmark or Lifetime to find a holiday movie. The lower the budget the better. And they all follow the same recipe – a rich person becomes poor and learns the true meaning of Christmas, an adorable child asks Santa for a mom for Christmas, a scrooge is met by three ghosts and their life changes. As long as there is love, a life altering event, eye candy and a kid – I eat these movies up.

So for Five on Friday, here are my five favorite ‘made for TV’ Christmas movies. And don’t you dare judge me!

PicMonkey Collage

{Comfort and JoyJane is a self absorbed executive who gets into a car accident on Christmas Eve and is saved by her husband … but when she left the office she didn’t have a husband! She finds out she also has two kids and lives a modest lifestyle. Will she ever wake up to her real life, and does she really want to? 

{Snow GlobeOkay, so not really a Lifetime or Hallmark movie, but it’s ABCFamily so it is close enough. I actually own this on DVD! A lover of Christmas with a crazy family finds a snow globe and, surprise, she ends up being able to travel between her life and the snow globe world. Turns out one of the citizens of the snow globe world travels to her world and chaos ensues. It’s pretty entertaining.

{Will You Merry Me?Ah, a tale as old as time – a Jewish girl from LA falls in love with a Christian guy from the mid west and now they are introducing their families. And his family is REALLY into Christmas. Like, their last name is Kringle. Some say the jokes are offensive, but coming from the same (sort of) situation, where in laws are learning new traditions, it is pretty lighthearted.

{Ebbie’s ChristmasQuite possibly my Momma’s favorite non-traditional Christmas movie. It’s the classic Christmas Carol with a modern (for 1995) twist. Ebbie owns a department store and, of course, hates Christmas. Three spirits visit her and try to change her.

{A Diva’s Christmas Carol I may, or may not, have this on DVD. It’s another take on A Christmas Carol, but is based around Ebony (get it?), a pop singer. Frankly, you had me when I saw the cast – Vanessa Williams, Chilli from TLC and Kathy Griffin.

October and November 2015

Love Bug –

What a busy fall you had! Our family ‘busy season’ usually starts with Daddy’s birthday at the end of September and this year it has been much of the same.

The biggest family news is my new job. I’ve had a few weeks to settle in and the best part is working so much closer to home and having a shorter commute. This has given me some extra time with you in the evenings which means a more relaxed, happy Momma. It’s also a job I really enjoy so that makes the whole family happy.  You came to visit shortly after I started and my coworkers (all 5 of them) thought you were sweet and adorable – I would have to agree.


{Talk} Everyone told us that when you started talking you wouldn’t stop and they were right. We have been working with Miss Lisa from the Infant and Toddler Program every few weeks and it was like a switch was flipped overnight. I love hearing your crackly little boy voice and your big eyes side glance when you are looking for the right word. It’s fun to have ‘conversations’ with you and hear your opinion on things like ‘Daddy’s bed’ and ‘Minion baff’.

{Urgent Care} You had your first urgent care trip! You went to the ER when you were much younger for dehydration, but this time was much scarier because it was a fall. You were FaceTiming with Grandpa and while showing him your fancy dance you got tangled up and fell into the corner of the bookshelf. Thankfully Dad and I were standing nearby and when I picked you up the bruise was already HUGE. Daddy was a quick thinker and off we went to urgent care. By the time we got there things were fine and you were fine, but we had concussion watch for 24 hours. You were not a fan of being woken up every hour that night!

{Halloween} Our new neighborhood goes all out for Halloween and after a few houses you were all in. I made you a dinosaur costume and you loved it! Daddy picked out your dino slippers and you still request to wear them around the house so you can ‘rawr’ at everyone, even Charlie.  Miss Rachel took you to the Halloween parade at the elementary school and reported that you loved seeing the costumes and the kids.
{Feeding Ducks} We took a walk the other day to the pond so you could feed the ducks.  They clearly are used to being fed and swam right up to the shoreline. You kept asking for ‘mo’ bread and throwing it at them instructing them loudly to ‘EAT IT’. It made Dad and me laugh so hard.
{Tent Naps} We put up your tent in the basement and you find such  great joy in running in and running out. You also are pretty insistent on Daddy and me coming in to go ‘nigh nigh’. You cover us up, pat your shoulders, then quickly wake us up by yelling ‘e-boo e-boo‘ (which we are still confused about).
{Favorite Books} You’ve become quite a little bookworm to my delight. Each night you get 2 books and sometimes you can talk us into more. You are able to identify letters (like M, I, K, E, O) and help read some of the words. Your current favorites are Everybody Poops (Ah, Ah Poop), Good Night Maryland (Nigh Nigh Mahlan), 10 Timid Ghosts (Ghosts), Tickle Monster and anything involving ABCs.
{Pumpkin Picking} We headed over to Queen Anne Farm and you had a blast running through the muddy pumpkin patch and watching the farm equipment. You picked out 3 HUGE pumpkins (since you pay by the pound of course) and were pretty obsessed with carrying one everywhere. Halloween was weeks ago and there is still a pumpkin in my car.

{Thanksgiving} Thanksgiving at Grandma and Grandpa’s house is always a busy, fun, filling day and this year was no different. You had a blast running around with Pop-Pop and playing with Mollie. You were a trooper without a nap.

December is going to be even more fun my love!

I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma xoxo

Dear Mike: Be Kind

My Dear Mikey –

Last year I posted a letter to you about September 11th and how Daddy and I hope that you grow up to be kind and see the good in the world. As an adult some days that is hard to do.

So many things are happening in the world right now that make my heart hurt. Some of these things are happening thousands of miles away but they are having a ripple effect and impacting our country. I hope you learn to realize that when people feel scared or threatened they don’t always make the best decisions, like remembering to be kind.

The one thing I am thankful for right now is that you are too young to ask the hard questions because I have no idea how I would answer you. I am actually asking a lot of hard questions myself and searching for the answer.

It’s times like these that Daddy and I want to remind you about the Principles of Unitarian Universalism. These are the ‘rules’ we are striving to raise you with. These principles represent what we believe and act as our moral compass.

I hope that when you are older and lose faith in the world or when everything seems confusing and chaotic, you find comfort in these principles and the strength to live these.


uu we believe kids


I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma xoxo

BTDT: Watkins Regional Park, Maryland

Am I the last person in the state of Maryland who has never taken the kid to Watkins Regional Park? Holy moly, what a hidden gem.

We had Veteran’s Day off and the weather was perfect – chilly and cloudy, but warm enough for just a sweatshirt. Perfect playground weather! I’ve heard good things about Watkins Park, or the Wizard of Oz Park, but I was blown away.


It’s tucked away in Upper Marlboro off of Central Avenue and the park has camping, a carousel and even a train – but the playground is worth the trip alone.  It was closed from January to June 2015 for multi-million dollar renovations and reopened with a cool Wizard of Oz theme.  Think the ruby slippers, yellow brick road, Emerald City and Aunt Em’s farm.

I was a little worried when we pulled up and saw tons of cars, but once we go into the playground it hardly felt crowded. There were lots of parents chatting while the kids ran around being kids.  Mike was beyond excited. I recommend if you have a toddler team up with a partner and wear your jogging shoes.It can be pretty overwhelming!

A few things I liked: 

Well, it is no secret I love a theme. They even had stand alone posts with excerpts from the book at each play structure.

The bouncy, cushy ‘floor‘. What IS that material? When I was a kid we had nothing to cushion our landing or wood chips which was equally painful.

The bathroom is RIGHT THERE. I didn’t have a chance to go inside, but it is good to note for potty training ages how convenient it is.

The bells! Mike loved the huge bells. What a cool, unique activity.

The details. From the ‘faces’ on the trees to the small interactive activities to the tadpole steps. There was something cool around every corner.


Quick and Dirty:
Cost: Nada!
Age Group? Fun for all ages
Parking? I would say on a busy day it would be a tight fit, but it’s a parking lot.
Food Options? None near the playground, but fast food options nearby. There are picnic shelters to reserve. There are lots of benches for a quick snack.
Stroller Friendly? 100%
Changing Tables? I didn’t go into the bathroom, but I am going to assume so.
Safety: As safe as a playground can be.
See you there? You bet!


The Lunch Struggle

The lunch struggle is real ya’ll. How many days in a row can I eat yogurt, a banana, turkey and cheese (sans bread) and a random ‘healthy’ snack?

The other challenge is my new job. I’ve been here a month and so far I really really love it. And I am BUSY. Most of the time I am running around so much, so I am so focused, I forget lunch. Next thing I know I am in a meeting where I realize I am hangrey or someone brings their own lunch and eats it DURING the meeting (FYI – this is never okay).

What’s a girl to do? Progresso Soup Bistro Cups!

I’ll be honest, I am not a soup person, but when Progresso asked me to check out their new Soup Bistro Cups, I was game. I wasn’t expecting much, but I went in with an open mind. Guess what? I’m all in. They are convenient, easy to make and filling. Plus, you can make them in a mug and drink them during a meeting and no one has to know it is something other than coffee.

All you have to do is open the packet into a mug, drop the K-Cup into a Keurig brewer (even those annoying 2.0 ones take these Bistro Cups), stir it up and in mere minutes, your lunch is ready.


I tried the Tomato Parmesan, but they also have Broccoli & Cheese and Creamy Southwestern which are both ready for my lunchbox next week.

If you are in the Northeast USA and want to try them don’t forget to download a $2 off coupon.

Friday 5: Halloween Movie Edition

I’ll be honest – I am not a Halloween person. I mean, I get it. But I don’t get INTO it. I think when Mikey gets a little older it will be more fun, but right now I could take it or leave it.

I am kinda the same when it comes to scary movies. I am for SURE not a gore type movie fan, but I do enjoy a psychological thriller. During the day. When it is on in the background and I am doing something else. And I know the ending.

So for my Friday Five I thought I would pay homage to my five favorite scary movies (in no particular order)!


{The OthersThis is by far one of my favorites. Nicole Kidman and her two photo-sensitive kids live in a huge house towards the end of WWII. Three house servants arrive and Momma kinda loses her mind and thinks the house is haunted. But wouldn’t you if you were stuck in a dark house all day waiting for your husband to return from war? By the end of this movie you will want to immediately start over to see if the ending makes sense.

The intruders are leaving, but others will come. Sometimes we’ll sense them. Other times, we won’t.

{The Happening}  I get a lot of crap from loving this movie because it is more hacky then scary. Basically nature starts turning on humans by releasing a chemical that makes humans off themselves. Mark Wahlburg, and his wife, Zooey Deschanel try to save their best friend’s daughter and well … humanity. I have to admit, on a windy day I have to convince myself it isn’t Mother Nature finally seeking her revenge for my love of styrofoam and bottled water. 

My name is Private Auster. I’m stationed at Westover Military Base about ten miles back. I think they’ve been affected by whatever’s happening. I lost communication with them. When I approached the base, I saw military personnel in… the barbed wire in… the fence. So I suggest no one take that road.

{Blair Witch ProjectIf you live in Maryland, you have to like this movie by default. It was pretty groundbreaking at the time with the shaky cam and ‘found footage’ style. I think that approach just covers up horrible acting since they are ‘real people’.

I’m afraid to close my eyes, I’m afraid to open them

{The Bad SeedI’ve talked about this movie before because Rhoda is a bit of a messed up kid. But in the perfect way. I think what is scary about this movie is it all seems so normal. Hey. It’s all normal until your 8 year old kills her classmate for a penmanship medal. Watch this movie if you are having a tough day with your kid and you will instantly feel better.

Christine Penmark: Rhoda, what happened to old Mrs. Post in Wichita?

Rhoda: There was ice on the steps and I slipped and fell against her, and that was all.

Christine Penmark: That was all?

Rhoda: No. I slipped on purpose.

{CarrieLet me be specific. The ORIGINAL Carrie. This movie has all the makings of a a terrifying story. A high school outcast with telekinetic powers. A whack-a-do momma who has a prayer closet (and I’m not talking a calming meditation type closet either) and pig’
s blood at Prom.

Margaret White: I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.

Carrie: Breasts, Mama. They’re called breasts, and every woman has them.

My First ‘Real’ 5K

So I’ve completed two virtual 5Ks and really enjoyed them. I felt relaxed, was in the moment and bursting with pride when I finished. I know some people don’t see virtual 5Ks as ‘real 5ks’, or just paying for a medal – but I took them seriously. I didn’t even HOLD the medals until I was done and my time was submitted.

I thought it was time to run my first in person 5K and thankfully our local volunteer fire station was holding their annual 5/10K. I will be honest – I didn’t do much by way of training. I did a few runs in the weeks leading up, but I knew I was doing it for fun – not to win or PR.

So this past weekend when S. dropped me off at the starting line early – I wanted to barf. Everyone looked so … runner. Running groups showed up, everyone had a friend (or so it seemed) and I was instantly transported back to middle school. No one was mean, but they had their people and routine and I did not. It was like they had this language I didn’t speak at all. Granted,  I didn’t really WANT to run with anyone else – I am very slow, and typically mix in walking when necessary. I figured others would do the same.

I got towards the back of pack and we were off! Well. Everyone else was off. I was doing a pretty fast walk, but double strollers were passing me. A three legged dog passed me. I am not making that up. A three legged dog. The 5K course was a complete circle and the 10K weaved in and out of the 5K course on side streets. So even when I was dead last, there was always a few of the 10Kers behind me. Most of the time.

I pretty much spent the first hour of the run fighting my inner mean girl. She was out in full force and loud. I couldn’t even hear my music. It was to the point where I even considered calling S. to just come pick me up on the corner. I really wanted to stop and cry – I was overwhelmed and embarrassed. What made me think I could do this? I thought a group would motivate me to push myself, but it had the opposite effect on me.

Basically by mile two I was chanting ‘just f*cking finish‘ in my head. I might have said it out loud. By mile 3, I was feeling a little better emotionally, but I realized I should have Ape taped my ankle, but I was just going to ‘f*cking finish’.

The finish line was ahead and I saw Mike and S. and my MIL there waiting for me. And I kept going. M. had to see his momma finish what she started right? Even when she wasn’t in her comfort zone, even when her body hurt, even when she was mad at herself and exhausted from fighting her inner mean girl. He had to see his momma finish. And he did.

After 1 hour and 7 minutes his momma just f*cking finished.


New Beginnings

Well hello old friend. It’s so nice to see you again! I realize I have been the worst blogger, because well … life. It’s funny – I am so busy living my life to write about it! It’s not a bad thing, but this is such a great outlet for me, I need to keep up with it.

What’s been going on with me? Well I started a new job! I have been here a week and was reflecting on the way in this morning.  I realized I never had the first day of work butterflies, which seems odd for me. I walked in feeling confident that this new job was a good move for me AND my family.

After commuting over an hour one way to the last job, I was convinced I was getting the worst of Mike. I was the one to wake up my non-morning friendly kid and rush out the door, and then the minute I would come home after a frustrating day and long drive it was the dinner, bath and bed rush. I had a solid 2 hours with Mike a day and I freaking hated it.

The past week I have gotten a happier Mike because I am a happier Mom. I still get the morning grumpies, but the evenings are more relaxed. I really enjoy what I am doing now, membership for a small association and have a lot of experience to share.

I feel like things are finally falling into place and I am rejuvenated.

working mom

Dear Mike: September 2015

Dear Mike –

Whoa, September blew by! I have to admit – this is my favorite month! The weather is cooler, it’s Grandma and Daddy’s birthday and it’s when Daddy and I got married. It was a pretty laid back month for you – just hanging out and being a toddler.


{Speech Therapy} Daddy and I decided to get some extra help with your speech. You were talking a lot, but it was really hard to make out what you were saying and you weren’t saying many sentences. Well kiddo, that has all changed. Miss Lisa has come over a few times and I am not sure you’ve stopped talking since! She thinks you are charming and catching on really quickly – but we knew that would be the case.

{Food} I am really worried about our grocery bill when you turn into a teenager. You are eating EVERYTHING in sight. I am pretty sure you ate 5 mandarin oranges today alone! I really like pudding (punning), macaroni (ma-nonie), chicken (shick-in) and anything that is on someone else’s plate.

{Playtime} Stickers are where it’s at kiddo. Bonus points if they are Minion stickers. You also are obsessed with cars – specifically the die cast cars from the grocery store. You always seem to find the Scion Xb and shout ‘Mommy car’ proudly. Also coloring and chalk are popular these days. OH! I can’t forget. You love to write your name. Well, spell it (over and over) while someone makes your hand write it.

{Books} Every night you get to read 2 books and it seems like we are back to Llama Llama Share (yamma yamma shay) or any book that has counting or the ABCs. You’ve been doing it for awhile, but you really like when we pause and you fill in the word.

Well my love bug, October is already turning out to be amazing.

I’ll eat you up I love you so,

Momma xoxo