the peanuts gang

Preschool Graduation

The time has finally come (again!) for my next little Mister to say goodbye to preschool. Lucky for us, he’ll be back at this school for Kindergarten, but the preschool years are behind him. It’s crazy how quickly they grow and just how much they seem to age in the span of a school year.

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Onward to Kindergarten!

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Nature-Inspired Baby Shower

This past weekend, I was thrilled to be part of hosting a baby shower for one of my dearest friends due with a baby boy in late July. When thinking of a theme, I was immediately drawn to her love of nature and found the perfect locale – a Great Room in the school where my boys go and went – across the street from the Chapel in which she was married. Located on a Children’s Farm, the rustic setting and log cabin themed room were the perfect place to host a nature-inspired baby shower.

Woodsy Baby Shower

The shower theme was simple to put together with a little help from Target and Hobby Lobby. Everyone pitched in and the elements were nature-inspired while also keeping mom-to-be in mind.

This banner was created with elements from Target’s DollarSpot.

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I found these adorable signs that doubled as decor and will work as a great addition to baby’s room!

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Balloons at the entryway instead of outside, so as not to give our secret away.

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Little Bub – ready to meet us in just a few short months!

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Fresh flowers as centerpieces were the perfect beautiful accent throughout the room – they also made great prizes for games and for the hostesses. These additions by mom’s friend were beautiful!

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Food from Papa Joe’s – YUM!

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A calendar to guess when baby will arrive and an extra invitation since the shower was a surprise!

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The tables were cream tablecloths, burlap runners, cups with accent stickers, striped straws, favors, and hues of green, blue and beige. The floral centerpieces were the perfect POP of color (tins from IKEA).

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We asked guests to bring books to start baby’s library and I found those adorable wood block letters at Hobby Lobby – the perfect addition to this table, but also now baby’s room. And nope. I didn’t make those pom-poms – Grandma and Grandpa separated pre-bought ones out for me!

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Cute critters and soft colors were throughout the room. Let’s not forget CHEVRON!

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Adorable favors put together by grandma and auntie – Ready to Pop! filled with popcorn and with a beautiful poem about baby’s arrival.

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We also added flower seeds with fertilizer and mulch in a purple hue for guests to grow their own little bed of nature at home. These tags were the perfect addition, put together with twine!

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More poms, more burlap, and another cute sign!

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Nostalgia with adorable pictures! <3

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A beautiful day was had by all!

Have a wonderful weekend!

I Want to Be Handsome.

The walks to school can sometimes feel like an eternity and other days, they are the blip on a busy day of madness and scheduled activity. On other days, I find they are the most significant times of bonding with my boys – holding hands, shooting the breeze, and talking excitedly about the day ahead.

On this particular day, Jack and I were discussing his upcoming preschool graduation (he’s five, this is the big time!) and talked about the need for a haircut so desperately (his wayward curls need to be tamed and if it were up to him, they would be cut right off and make him grow up in one instant.

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In our hairy conversation, he muttered, “I want to be handsome. I want my hair to look handsome.”

When I asked him to elaborate, he told me about how he hopes his teachers think he does and I assured him that yes, they do. To which he replied, “I want them to tell me I am.”

And suddenly he aged ten years and we were in the throes of teenagedom wrought with insecurity, questioning, and the longing for acceptance.

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We often talk about the pressure to be something that women and girls experience every day, but through the eyes of my five-year-old son and a simple conversation, I became keenly aware of his own desire to be loved in all of his boyish glory.

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And I stopped in my tracks, looked into his eyes, and assured him that he was perfect, that he was handsome, that he was loved.

And made a vow to do that more often.

Could I instill in my boys the confidence needed to combat what the world would throw at them? Could I pass along an attitude of self-celebration that is a delicate balance of pompous and humble? What happened to placing a band-aid on a scraped knee?

Suddenly, I was reminded of just how much they need to be reminded that they are so deeply loved, just as they are. With curls or without.

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I want to raise him with such confidence that when he is finally big enough to fill this suit (which is hopefully never) that he will never wonder if someone thinks he’s handsome.

Rather that he will know that he is because I told him so.

Red, White, & View: The Perfect Options for Memorial Day Streaming

I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party || Sharing the Netflix Remote || Let’s Get Political || May-ny New Hours of Netflix

With a three day weekend coming up and the kick-off to summer, you know what that means — THREE FULL DAYS TO STREAM ALL THE THINGS.

I’ll be sharing a Netflix inspired snack mix this weekend (THINK RED, WHITE, And BLUE), but until then, I’ll get you set up so you can line up your queue with the perfect features to stream this weekend.

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via Dallas Observer

Netflix Original – Nick Offerman American Ham

What’s more American than bacon, wood-working, and the comedic genius of Nick Offerman? Born and raised in Illinois, he’s the perfect treat to have you laughing until you cry.

Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots

This documentary gives a look into female wartime heroes and the perspective of what life is like among the ranks of men. Perfectly told in a wonderful setting, Unsung Heroes is a great opportunity to reflect on the great service of individuals in the Armed Forces.

Iron Man & Captain America: Heroes United

Make it a family affair with a viewing of Heroes United in this piece about working together for the greater good. Who doesn’t love the Red, White, and Blue of Captain America partnered with Iron Man?

Worst Cooks in America Collection

Anne Burrell and Bobby Flay pair up to host this competition for $25,000. Watch to learn what not to do, learn how to make yourself a better cook, and to drool over food that you wish you had. Then get up and grill just in time for a Memorial Day celebration!

American Son

It’s easy to forget that sometimes our military heroes are also someone’s son or daughter. This story follows a young man in love, ready to fight for his country, and the struggles of sharing that news with family and friends. Use this piece to reflect on just what great sacrifice goes into serving one’s country.

Ken Burns: The Civil War

This piece covers the Civil War at length and goes into great detail about a time in our country that was both difficult, but also transformational. Follow the series as narrated and told in the perspective of sharing a significant part of American history.

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Go even further back with a peek into the life and times of a cabbage farmer during the Revolutionary War who begins to spy on the British enemy in hopes of sharing what he learns. This period piece will help you start at the beginning of America’s start and will serve as the perfect kick-off for the weekend ahead!

What’s on your list ahead for the weekend – what your big plans for streaming?

Mother’s Day 2016

I’ve shared in this space often about my Dreams Deferred and how I longed to be a mother. Eight years in and those years feel like a distant memory, but the pangs are still with me. Eight years of sloppy kisses, snuggly hugs, and a perfectly imperfect life.

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This year was one of the best Mother’s Days ever – breakfast in bed, church with my loves, Portillo’s for lunch, a family bike ride, a much-needed nap and time with my favorites. It was a perfectly wonderful reminder of how much I am blessed, of how much I have, and how very much we have to give.

I so longed to be a mother and now I am. I could not have imagined my life any other way. If you are longing, know that I’ve been where you are and the best is yet to come.

Because My Blog’s Not Dead: A 2016 Life Update

2016 has been quite the rollercoaster. I’m not talking about the developments from Target big-wigs or the news that beloved Prince is gone too soon. I’m talking about the mundane, every day of this thing called life and how the twists and turns of the past few months have taken me on a ride I never imagined I would travel.

Life begins outside of your comfort zone. It best encapsulates what 2016 seems to be doing for me.

I left an unfulfilling part-time job at the end of December and traded it in for the job of my dreams in January – working from home, working with people, and balancing the laundry with conference calls and meetings. January was new schedules, meeting new people, and learning about a job I love.

In February, I made a leap with my SIL to pursue a business — the Sisterhood of the Patterned Pants (not really that name, but you feel me). After a series of delays, I went to Disney World and our entry into clothing was put off by a few weeks. February was about risks and enjoying a vacation before the craziness.

March brought 300+ pieces of inventory, our first sale, and suddenly balancing the demands of life, business, and a daytime job all while making sure my house didn’t collapse in on itself. The constant state of clutter and hoarder-ish qualities will tell you that this part is probably already happening. March was about learning balance.

And here we are to April. Somehow, we have flown through the first four months of 2016 and I can’t remember the last time I actually made dinner. Leftovers, meals here or there, and finding a moment to just sit are few and far between. April has been about trying to learn how to embrace our new normal.

But I wouldn’t trade it. These harried few months where I try to share just a piece of our day so that I can help friends and family understand what kind of schedule we are dealing with (by choice, mind you, but nonetheless, so very full).

But how do you best encapsulate that this crazy, chaotic life upon reflection IS “having it all?” How do you share amidst your exhaustion that you believe you are in the EXACT time and place with the exact purpose that you should be? How do you share that every time you think life gets ridiculously difficult to balance that some thing, some one, gives you just the oomph you need to remind you that you doing exactly what you were meant to be?

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So if you need me, I’ll be over here living, doing, surviving. And trying to find my way back to this space that I love so much.

And probably trying to figure out a way to get dinner on the table again.

April Shows Bring May-ny New Hours of Netflix

I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party || Sharing the Netflix Remote || Let’s Get Political

It’s no secret that one of my FAVORITE Netflix binge marathons almost always involves The Office, but it might surprise you that I also occasionally find the time to branch out and try something new instead of spending every waking moment with Michael Scott (and yes, my kids frequently reference things they’ve seen on The Office and we laugh out loud together. Sue me.)

Sweet dreams of Netflix favorites…

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April brought a few new favorites that had me swooning at their awesomeness:

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – Season 2 

Titus, Kimmy, and the whole gang are back in this series about Mole Women turned modern-day citizens. If you haven’t watched this yet, you have TWO seasons to binge on, so get watching!

Erin Brockovich

Although I don’t fall over myself for Julia Roberts, I love me some good legal drama. This single mother turned all-star attorney is inspiring, captivating, and will have you up in arms. It also eerily reflects the Flint, Michigan crisis and will have you charged up to see what you can do for the greater good in the coming months and years!

The Princess Bride

I’m just going to leave this right here. If you haven’t shown your children this yet, then be good parent and start streaming. Or I just might send R.O.U.S’s after you!

How to Get Away with Murder — Season 2

Although I watch this series live, I cannot get enough of it. Jump on and watch from the beginning – the likes and times of Analise and her crew. You won’t want to stop watching…

For the Kiddos: Minions

In case you haven’t taken up all of the free television time, check out the addition of this family favorite. Your favorite yellow mischief makers are back and better than ever – with a new Mission and new antics. I know this is one of Jack’s favorites, so we will DEFINITELY be catching it this month!

What are your newest finds in April that your family can’t stream without? 

Let’s Get Political: What to Watch When You’re Ready to Say #ByeFelicia to Election Coverage

 I was asked to be part of the Netflix #StreamTeam and share posts each month based on my experience. We are longtime Netflix users and cannot wait to share our experiences with you! All opinions are of course are own!

October || November || FRIENDS || Stream Team Finds || Lifetime on Netflix || Kimmy Schmidt || Friday Night “Liars” || Netflix “Families| || Stop & Watch || All in the Family || SummerTime || On the First Day of Netflix || Rewind Time || Netflix Viewing Party || Sharing the Netflix Remote

If you’ve turned on the television or the interwebs for even 20 seconds, you’re probably bombarded with the antics of the current election cycle and if you’re anything like me, you’re just about ready to call it quits on Making America Great Again (at least for the next 7 months or so).

Don’t worry. We did our civic duty. This post is also in honor of Primaries Week in Illinois.

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If real life politics reminds you of something out of an M. Night Shyamalan mystery flick, Netflix has you covered and gives you an opportunity to imagine what politics COULD be without having to actually commit to it in the ballot box.

Ready for a cutthroat president?

Check out the likes of #FU2016 and House of Cards. Now in Season 4, Kevin Spacey masterfully calculates how to take names and run the Oval Office like a boss. Accompanied by the classiness of Robin Wright Penn as first lady who is her own political force to be reckoned with.

Think a woman is ready and capable to lead?

Tea Leoni BRINGS IT in Madam Secretary. I may or may not have binge watched the majority of this and LOVE the elements of her having a leading first man and balancing life, home, and kids.

Interested in campaign antics? 

Election with Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon: The life and times of the election for student council president will give you a bird’s eye view into what running a major political campaign must look like.

How does the West Wing work?

Watch the show (Hint: The West Wing) You will find out. Maybe. Perhaps. Or you’ll just burn through 7 seasons and be just as confused about the office as when Gerald Ford when he took office upon Nixon’s resignation.

Documentary lover and want to see all about money doom and gloom? 

Check out Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve. Because nothing’s quite as sobering as watching real life information about tragedy and the economy crashing to the ground.

How do you use Netflix to escape the political mayhem? 

Spurring Others on to Greatness {A Fight for Air Climb Story}

Two years ago, my brother, niece, and nephew embarked on the Fight for Air Climb in Oakbrook Terrace in honor of our Aunt Joan and her battle with lung cancer ten years prior. We came back again this year with two more climbers, ready to face the fated stairs again.

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The Alumni received special pins to wear in honor of our second climb.

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And I wore leggings that best exemplified my feelings. I would finish this Tower climb when pigs flew…

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But alas, it was still time to get things moving.

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We added Aunt Joan’s name to the wall in memoriam and so began our journey. David Nathanael hustled up the steps, determined to beat his record from last time. Jonathan and Jim weren’t far behind and David and Kaeli kept pace with their hearts beating out of their chests. I brought up the rear and kept a pass that rivaled a snail. But I was still climbing.

As I was making my trek, I met Debbie. A 50-year-old woman with persistent back pains and herniated discs who had climbed the tower once last year. We stayed near one another. About halfway up the first time, she asked if I would consider sticking with her and be her cheerleader because she was really hoping to make it up a second time if I would walk alongside her.

And so we climbed. 

On the second time up, I spent much of my time behind her, encouraging her to keep pressing on, despite the pain and difficulty. She persevered and at Floor 20, I asked if she would take a picture with me near Aunt Joan’s sign.

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We stopped for water, but didn’t accept a paper towel for our sweat because in her words, “This is how we show our beast mode.” Our pace was slow and steady, but I was reminded that sometimes life isn’t a race. Sometimes, it’s about being the cheerleader. The support. The partner. The one who pushes someone to be their best self. It’s about doing life together and in that stairwell, I was reminded of just how much we need one another in this life.

A lesson that Aunt Joan was often teaching people – just how much we need each other and need to be their through thick and thin.

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We also laughed about this sign and I think that spurred us on to finish our second climb up.

At the top, I bid adieu to Debbie and thanked her for journeying with me. We hugged, we selfied, and she was on her way, determined to do three times up next year.

One last climb still awaited me. 

David N., Jim, and Jonathan were taking a snooze after they finished their flights in record time. David and Kaeli were already up on their journey. As I turned to start again, David Nathanael reminded me to grab Aunt Joan’s sign.

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I was a woman on a mission. Last climb – all by myself – and ready to get to that sign. I climbed. And climbed. And climbed. And as Floor 20 came closer, I could think of nothing more than to reach her. Checked my phone – Kaeli and David were done. Must keep moving. And then I turned the corner to Floor 20…

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It was gone. She was gone. The sign that I was journeying after, suddenly gone. And I felt the wind rush out of me because it was that reminder, much like I experienced in 2014, that she was really gone. But I still had 11 floors to go. I still had life left to be lived. And in that sobering thought, I knew that is what she wants. For us to carry on her legacy, to live our life in her absence.

And so I pressed on. And I finished. And we did this big thing – all for her.

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Because sometimes, you have to find a way to keep living. Living the best life as she inspired us all to do. She continues to spur us on to greatness. And that is a life worth celebrating and a legacy worth carrying on.

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13,260 steps, $3,113 raised, 558 floors, 12 years gone, 6 climbers, in honor of one amazing woman.

All for you, all the time, Aunt Joan.

You can still donate here or join our team next year. #FortWayneFighters would love to have you!

Pretty in Pink & Pine Needles: A Love Story

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I could share many stories today – such as the one about our Proposal or our plans, but instead, I’m opting to share one about a different kind of love. A story that I remember vividly and ironically fit with my plans for today to see Pretty in Pink for its 30th Anniversary at the theaters.

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It started with a Dream Box and the loss of our first baby. Fast-forward two years later, same time of year, just weeks after Christmas, with the news of our second loss fresh in my mind. And I was angry. Really, deep to my core, angry that I would have to deal with yet another loss and our family plans would be halted.

In my frustration, I looked at our Christmas tree still hanging out in the corner of our front room and did the only logical thing I could think of. I dragged that wretched tree to our balcony and chucked it over the edge, pine needles and all. Along the way, the dead tree dropped thousands of its needles and embedded them into our carpet.

It was not my finest moment. But it felt ridiculously good to throw that thing amidst my anguish.

My best friend in the universe called to see how I was and I think she could tell that I had reached a breaking point with my grief.

Within an hour, she dropped everything in her life – family, responsibilities, and obligations – to come and help me pick up each and every one of those blasted needles. And help me clean up the mess I was in.

She didn’t ask questions. She didn’t wonder why. She just cleaned up with me.

Because that’s what LOVE does.

Because love is action and not always words. Love is difficult, but Love is worth it.

I will never forget the love I experienced that day from my dearest friend. And on this Valentine’s Day, I hope you know that LOVE isn’t just the romantic kind.

It’s helping someone pick up pine needles embedded into a carpet.

So you’re probably wondering what Pretty in Pink has to do with it?

Well, that sweet friend also brought along a little care package – filled with a heart sucker and the movie Pretty in Pink.

Because there is not quite anything compared to the love of a friend.

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