5 Things I Wish I Would Have Done Before the Second Baby

New baby with his big brother

Loving these moments as a mom of two boys! But there’s some things I wish I would have done beforehand.

The first time around, I was prepared over-prepared.  I had my bag packed a month before he was born.  I had my nursery designed and finished in May, and he was born in October.  I read up on the latest and greatest in baby technology, took classes in breastfeeding and prenatal yoga, and discussed my birth plan with my husband and the doctor.  I was ready and couldn’t wait for my first little one.

The second time around, I wasn’t over-prepared.  In fact, I only got prepared a couple of weeks (uh…the weekend) before he was born.  The last pictures were hung on the nursery wall at the last minute.  I didn’t have new tubing for my breast pump ordered.  What was I going to pack in my bag again?  It was, I felt, a stressful mess.  But now, three weeks later, here’s five things I wish I would have done before the peanut was born…

  1. Enlist more help.  I didn’t ask for help the first time around because I wanted to “do it on my own.”  Let me tell ya, that’s for the birds.  When they say “it takes a village,” it really does.  In fact, I wish I would have added more people to my village before the baby was born to ensure I had my life together as much as possible.  But I’m not saying I did a shabby job – in fact, quite the contrary!  We hired someone to clean the house, asked friends to help fold clothes and put things away in the baby’s room, and my brother helped me run errands in the days leading up to delivery.  After he was born, my mom came over and helped prepare some freezer meals for ready-to-go dinners and a few of my students’ parents got together and dropped off meals for us. 
  2. Go to the grocery.  I don’t know why I didn’t think about this beforehand.  I wasn’t able to drive for a few weeks following delivery because of the pain medication and the general healing process.  Plus, my husband isn’t the frugal grocery shopping type.  It would have been nice to stock up on things like snacks, breakfast items, etc. prior to having the baby.  Right now, we’re still in a holding pattern where my husband runs to the grocery for essentials like milk and muffins because I can’t do a big shopping trip just yet.  But believe me, when September rolls around, I’m headed to the grocery to get my pantry and refrigerator back in order.
  3. Snuggle my first baby THAT much more.  My first son will be 5 in October, so he’s hardly a baby anymore.  But, he’s still MY baby.  I got really consumed with work and preparing for the second baby at the last minute, that I didn’t focus on Andrew and spending extra quality time with him before Thomas arrived in the way I would have liked.  I also wish I would have asked his daddy and grandparents to take him out of the house a little bit more, considering those last few weeks in the Louisiana heat were BRUTAL for this pregnant mommy.  He doesn’t seem to have suffered because of it, and I am focused on spending time with him now – between feedings, baths, homework, cooking, cleaning…the list goes on and on.
  4. Get a massage, manicure, pedicure, haircut… Ok, I know this is like my “vanity” list, but for real.  Can you imagine doing any of these things with a newborn?  Or, better yet, an exclusively breastfed newborn?  Now my life consists of planning things around 3 or 4 hour feedings, hoping the baby doesn’t wake up wanting to eat earlier than that, and praying that my husband doesn’t lose his mind.  He’s great, and I’m not taking anything away from him, trust me.  It’s just frustrating when you have a crying (hungry) baby that can’t be soothed by anything you do, and that’s his dilemma.  Plus, we don’t want to take stored breast milk out of the freezer and then not need it.  These things are all able to be planned around the baby, but it would have been great to get one final hurrah done before the baby was born.  Oh well!
  5. Stop sweating the small stuff! In the grand scheme of things, the stuff I was worried about not getting done didn’t matter.  So what if his closet isn’t Pinterest-worthy organized?  It will get done eventually.  So what if my closet looks like a bomb went off?  I’m not wearing half of those clothes right now anyway.  So what if I didn’t finish all of the work in my business before taking a mandated maternity leave (per my office manager, who is an absolute doll)?  It will still be there when I’m ready to get back to it.  Meanwhile, I have a first-born that craves my attention, and a husband that wants family time.  Those are the important things to think about before having a baby, not the cleaning and preparing and anticipation of the new baby.  I know that sounds a little like I’m brushing off the new one, but that’s totally not the case.  I’m merely saying that they don’t stay little for long, and these moments are to be cherished, not brushed aside for the things we think are more important.

Well, there you have it.  The five things that I wish I would have done before I had baby #2.  And as I’m typing this, I have a big boy who wants help with an iPad game and a little peanut grunting for feeding time.  So, I’m going to go enjoy the moments while they last.  Until next time, ya’ll!

 

It’s the First Day of School ‘Round Here

A lot has happened since I wrote wayyyy back in November about the never-ending negative pregnancy tests…

Big Brother with New Little BrotherYep.  Shortly after all those negatives, we got a positive on December 4th and our 2nd baby boy Thomas was born on August 3rd.  It was a distracting pregnancy to say the least, what with having the busiest season EVER at my dance studio and having a 4 year old to chase after.  But, here we are.  A family of 4.  It’s been an amazing and beautiful journey.

Today was the big boy’s first day of Pre-K, and I’ve been battling with carving out enough time to spend with both little guys.  Normally, since school starts later than most around here, we spend these last few weeks of summer heading out to the zoo and the aquarium…not this year! Mommy was way too tired from taking care of Thomas since we are exclusively breast feeding and dealing with overproduction issues – more on that later.

Last night consisted of trying to get Andrew to bed early – he is so much like me in that he stays up late and wakes up late – and getting everything together for the next morning.  I realized that in my “nesting” phase, I threw out BOTH of Andrew’s nap pillows from last year and without enoFirst day of school readyugh time to get a new one before the big first day, I had to put one of our throw pillows in the backpack and call it a day.  #momfail.  It may not be a “cool” pillow, but it will work for the time being – though this doesn’t help with the mommy guilt!  It’s tough being a newborn mom and having a kid in pre-k all at the same time.  I know some of you moms can relate. 

We are a little obsessed with Mario all of a sudden, pushing aside his three year dinosaur obsession.  Thanks to his cool Rae Rae, he got a fancy new Mario backpack and lunch box.  (I hope this makes up for the un-cool pillow scenario.) 

I printed that cute little sign from The Shady Lane and filled in all the info with a chalkboard marker.  After sticking it in an 8 X10 frame, it was ready to go.  Notice my guy said he wanted to be a “mountain climber” when he grows up?  I don’t even know wherIMG_5401e he gets this stuff from.  Then it was time to figure out a first day teacher gift.  I know it’s not necessary to do, but as a dance teacher, I love it when my students think of me!  I wanted to do the same for his teacher, so we got her a candle from Bath and Body Works.  I didn’t have time (or energy) to print out a fancy little tag, so I just wrote it by hand.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  I had Andrew write his name himself – hopefully he gets a little better at it this year!

Breakfast is never really something Andrew does, but I thought it might be nice to make him a “special” breakfast of Mickey Mouse pancakes to start his day off right…but he didn’t eat them, as usual.  At least now I have a whole batch of buttermilk pancakes to stick in the freezer for another day.  So now it was time to head off to school, and Mommy didn’t even cry one bit!  He jumped out of his seat, kissed me goodbye, and walked to his classroom all by himself!  So now, the little guy and I just sit and wait (and nap, hopefully) until we can go pick up big brother from school.  We can’t wait to hear how his awesome first day went!

IMG_5389Proud PreK student on his first day

When a Negative isn’t What You Bargained For

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The standard answer I’ve programmed myself to say when asked “when are you having another one” (another what?  Puppy? Husband?  Just kidding…) is, “Well, hopefully one day.”  But what I really want to say is:

Oh I’ve been tracking my period on an iPhone app for three months, stopped taking my birth control and all medications in August, stopped drinking the occasional glass of wine just in case I might be pregnant, and I stopped going shopping for clothes because I won’t be wearing them long anyway since I’m trying to get pregnant right now.  Wait, according to my app, I’m in my fertile window.  Gotta go, bye!

My husband knew all of this was going on inside my compulsive brain, and I’m sure it made for some of my sexiest times in life.  Not really.  I think he was too nice to tell me that I was a schedule obsessed crazy person who should probably pour myself a glass of wine (or three) and online shop for clothes for a few hours.  Needless to say, sex was a chore – a means to my desired end of pregnancy. 

With our son, I didn’t even have to “try” to get pregnant.  It was just a month after deciding we were ready to be parents that I got the positive pregnancy test result.  I didn’t even see it coming; I mean, doesn’t it take a little longer than this?  I was 25 at the time and we had just gotten married.  I was happy, relaxed, fresh off the honeymoon, blissful – the perfect baby-making scenario.

But how soon did I forget what got us there in the first place!  This time around, I was calculating due dates before I even conceived.  I tracked my period and took pregnancy tests as soon as two weeks before my missed period.  I started reading message board stories of women who just “knew” they were pregnant the moment they conceived and got a positive digital test right away.  A friend of mine knew she was pregnant right away because her Fitbit tracked her heart rate at higher than her normal rate.  Every time I heard one of these stories, I’d convince myself I was pregnant, obsess over taking a test, and then take one.  And each time, the result was the same. 

A single pink line.  The bold words “Not Pregnant.”  Just a flat-out “No.”

I didn’t understand.  How was it so easy the last time? I mean, I’m so much more prepared now.  I’m healthier.  Sure, I’m 30 now, but my age shouldn’t affect it THAT much, should it? Why isn’t it happening for me?

Then my period was 4 days late.  Being the 28 day, extremely regular person that I am, eeach day that ticked by made me more and more hopeful for a positive result.  Maybe I just don’t have enough hormone in my system yet.  Maybe I’m taking the tests wrong.  I convinced myself I had to be pregnant because there was no period.  I did everything I could to ensure I conceived, so logically, it had to be the reason for my late period. 

Then it came.  My period whacked me straight across the face.

First I cried.  I thought about all the possible situations as to why I wasn’t pregnant yet and what the future looked like remaining a family of three.  I called my sister in law to tell her the “bad” news.

Her response?

I’m sorry you’re sad.  I’m not going to tell you it will happen next month because it might not.  You might never get pregnant again.  I hope that you will be, but nothing’s guaranteed.  So, I’ll just say I’m sorry you’re sad.  Just chill out and just let it happen, if it’s meant to happen.

Some of you might want to say…Uh, Excuse me?  Others may criticize her bluntness.  But, it’s probably the part of her personality that I appreciate the most.  She’s hoping to get pregnant soon, too.  Our sons are one year apart, to the exact day – mine was late and hers was early.  I was able to offer insight when she was a new mom, and now, she was returning the favor.  She had already been through the obsessing and worrying phase.   It couldn’t have come at a better time.  And then, she hit me with this gem:

I enjoy being with my husband.  If it makes a baby, great.  But I’m not going to worry if it doesn’t.

So, that’s exactly what we’ve done.  I put down the pregnancy tests, stopped tracking every move, and even opened a bottle of wine.  I’m not worried about every little move I’m making because what will be, will be.  It wasn’t easy to get to this point, that’s for sure.

Some may criticize me, simply because I am blessed with one child and I haven’t been trying to conceive for very long at all.  But I know there are other women in my position, and there will be more in the future.  These are the things I think about each and every day:

  1. I am so lucky to have one beautiful son.  There are many women who can’t have children and want them badly. 
  2. I am not ungrateful for my ability to have had that one beautiful, healthy boy. 
  3. If he is all I ever have, we will be OK. 

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the process and being thankful for what I have.  I mean, practice makes perfect, doesn’t it?  🙂

Until next time, ya’ll!

 

How to Host a Polar Express Party

Right around the holiday season, I host a Polar Express Party at my dance studio for busy parents to enjoy a night out. It always coincides with a big school function that’s parents-only. Our party is kids-only! I thought this idea wasn’t all that original until I mentioned to a dance teacher friend that I had the annual Polar Express Pajama party on Friday and couldn’t make it to her event. The barrage of questions soon followed about the activities, the food, the details. So, here we go – time to tell you my secrets!

Polar Express PartyI start promotion of our event around Halloween, but the signups don’t start coming in until the week of our party.  I passed out fliers at local events, sent out emails to the email list, and made sure I told everyone that came into the studio about it.  I ended up with 19 kids – wow!  That’s actually pretty good for a Friday night in December.

I set up the room in zones.

Each child got a “map” with their “train stations” on it.  Really, it was just a flow chart designed to make them go to each activity in the room.  Our list of activities included:

  1. Pin the Nose on the Snowman
  2. Cookie Matching Game
  3. Christmas trivia
  4. Christmas Tree Ring Toss
  5. Craft Table
  6. Make your own snow (Science Experiment)
  7. Coloring Station
  8. “Snowball” fight
  9. Jingle Butt game

The Dollar Tree has a lot of Christmas games for only $1!

I purchased two packs of Christmas trivia cards as well as the cookie matching game, the Christmas Tree Ring Toss, Pin the Nose on the Snowman, the packages of “snow” for our science experiment, and a few items for the craft table at the Dollar Tree.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to come up with all new ideas for games and construct tons of pieces – this took care of a lot of the busy work.  I will probably have to make the games from scratch if they aren’t available for purchase next year, but it sure did save me some time this year!   The coloring station had a couple of coloring books (also purchased at Dollar Tree) and a big bucket of assorted crayons I’ve been collecting over the years from various camps and classes held at the studio.

Purchase Pre-Made Games for $1 at the Dollar Tree!

Table Cloths are Your Saving Grace at Kids Parties

I learned when it was time for cleanup that table cloths would have reduced my cleanup time drastically.  This is mostly due to the free-for-all that I called the “craft table.”  I basically set up foam shapes, glitter, glue, paint, and some pre-fab craft kids I purchased at Dollar Tree and Michaels.  Everything was set up for the child to be able to do it themselves, even as young as 4 years old.  After a few hours, my nice and neat craft table with items divided into neat containers started to look like this:

Craft TableHad I put table cloths on that table…well, let’s just say I am still picking up sequins and the party was last Christmas.  🙂  I was so impressed with what the kids were able to make, using their imaginations and having a variety of mediums to use.  Many of them had three or four craft projects to take home at the end of the night.

The Snowball Fight and Jingle Butt Games Make for a Lot of Giggles

The snowball fight game is quite simple but somehow manages to get a lot of laughs from the kids.  It is played in teams of two, and all you need to start are two cups (we used Styrofoam), some cotton balls, and a barrier to place between the two players.  We used our tumbling mats, but you could use a stack of blankets/pillows.  The first player sits with their back to the barrier and starts throwing cotton balls over their shoulder.  The second player tries to catch the “snowballs” in their cup.

Snowball Fight GameThe Jingle Butt Game is probably the most popular among the kids, and I got the idea from Minute to Win It (the TV show where contestants try to complete difficult tasks in a minute or less).  I took a tissue box and cut two slits in each side.  Then I laced ribbon through the holes I cut, making it long enough to tie around a child’s waist.  Finally, I filled the box with different sizes of jingle bells.  Dollar Tree had a pack of 50 small bells and also a pack of 8-12 larger bells.  To play, the kids tie the box to their backside, the knot facing front.  They have one minute to shake as many bells out of the box as they can.  Some kids figured it out quickly and were able to shake almost all the bells out…others were lucky to get a few bells out of the box.  Either way, they giggled the entire time, which was music to my ears!  The trick to making this game harder is to tie the box to the small of their back, NOT their backside.  This way it’s low enough that they feel it’s on their butt, but it’s high enough that the bells don’t usually shake out easily.

Themed Snacks to Keep Their Energy Up

Our party started around dinner time, so we ordered pizza.  But later in the evening, kids started complaining they were hungry.  I came prepared!  We offered natural juice boxes, milk, and water for drinks.  I prepared some “S’mores snack mix” and divided the mixture into little snack sized bags.  It’s cinnamon cereal, milk chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows.  I like to go easy on the chocolate chips when I’m using milk chocolate because it is so much stronger than semi-sweet.  For kids who are choosy, this mix seems to satisfy most of them because of the three different ingredients.

smores mixWe wrapped up the night with a visit from Santa and curled up with hot chocolate – from the crock pot!

Santa is a very close personal friend of mine, so it was a no-brainer when I asked him to come stop by at the end of the night.  He wore his full Santa suit (as you can see in my title photo) and sang some Christmas carols with the kids.  After having each one on his lap and snapping a photo with my camera (and he took his own “santa selfies” with his iPhone), we said our goodbyes and promised to be good girls and boys.  I played the movie, The Polar Express, using a projector and displaying the image on a blank wall space. The kids brought blankets, pillows, and their favorite stuffed animals to snuggle with while the movie played.  I gave each child a small cup of homemade hot chocolate, which they could garnish with candy canes or large marshmallows.  It was literally the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted in my life!  I’m going to do a separate post on this soon because it deserves some attention.  🙂

When the parents started to arrive at the end of the night, some kids were fast asleep and others were jabbering on about how the “real” Santa came to visit.  I have so many great photos to share with them from our party!  It’s always fun to be a part of keeping the Christmas magic alive for kids.   Let me know your thoughts on my party and what you would add when you host this party yourself.  I’m always up for some new ideas to jazz up what’s becoming one of my favorite new traditions.

Until next time ya’ll!

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

I’m not one to buy cookbooks because they take up space.  With the era of Pinterest and being able to find recipes accessible online, why purchase an entire book? 

I’ll tell ‘ya why!  I found a book at Michael’s craft store entitled The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens.  After flipping through this $19.99 tome of wisdom, I realized there wasn’t a single recipe I disliked.  So basically, 500 reasons to get in the kitchen and gain a few pounds enjoy some delicious baked goods…that’s why you purchase an entire book!

The first recipe I tried was called Pumpkin-Pecan Cookies with a recipe for brown sugar-butter frosting as a topping.  Since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I thought this would be a great first recipe to try. 

pumpkin pecan cookies with brown butter icingAnd boy, was it!!  I had to give some of the cookies away to my BFF Carly, including a baggie of them for her mom, and…I’m pretty sure I ate the rest of them.  I gave her seven of them, people.  The recipe yielded 31.  So…yeah.  They’re just that good!!

I made some changes to the original recipe in order to make things a little easier AND a little tastier for me.  The cookie is not sweet on its own, but when you add the icing, it’s a perfect pairing.

I hope you enjoy making these cookies and giving some away because we all know the holidays are a time to share (and eat, but mostly share, right?). 

Here’s a fancy little printable for you guys.  Don’t be shy – go ahead and stick that on a Pinterest board.  And while you’re at it, take a look at my other pins!

Pumpkin Pecan Cookies withh Brown Butter Icing
Yields 30
A delicious cake-like cookie with a sweet brown butter icing to top it all off. Definitely a good fall flavored dessert!
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Prep Time
35 min
Prep Time
35 min
For Cookie
  1. 2 cups flour (all-purpose is best)
  2. 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  3. 1 tsp cinnamon
  4. 1/4 tsp baking soda
  5. 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  6. 1 cup butter, softened
  7. 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (or make your own)
  8. 1 egg
  9. 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
For Frosting
  1. 6 Tbs. Butter
  2. 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  3. 2 cups powdered sugar
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1-2 Tbs. hot water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a medium-sized bowl, wisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and allspice. Set this mixture to the side.
  2. In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl), beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30-45 seconds, until you see the butter starting to cream. Add sugar and beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the flower mixture and pecans. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls at least 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes until bottoms are slightly browned. Cool on the cookie sheet for two minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. While cookies are cooling, make your icing. Heat 6 Tbs. of butter and 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar over medium heat until the butter is completely melted. Remove the mixture from heat. Stir in 2 cups powdered sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Transfer the mixture to your stand mixer or beat the mixture until smooth. Add 1 tbs. hot water to allow the icing to thin out and become more spreadable. Add the other tbs. of hot water only if necessary (for me, it wasn't).
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens
Adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Better Homes and Gardens
The OMG Life http://www.theomglife.com/

The Best Damn Cake Ever: Ooey Gooey Cake

My friend Daniel is willing to go to the ends of the earth for a taste of some Ooey Gooey Cake.

No, that’s not a joke.  He will drive to unsafe neighborhoods and buy packages of it from gas stations.  I’m not judging.  This stuff is pretty addictive.

So when he helped us move from our little starter home into our beautiful new(ish) house, I offered him money and to my surprise, he turned it down.

“No Jess, you keep your money,” he said.  “Remember that dessert you made at Christmas a few years ago?  It’s real sweet?  If you can just make me some of that, I’d be so happy.”

Let’s get this straight – you will turn down $100 for a pan of cake that would cost me a fraction of that to make?  And you remember the dessert I made a few years ago when I can’t even remember what I cooked for dinner last week? Well, hey, I’ll take it!!

So here’s how you can make the best damn cake ever, winner of friends and moving buddies alike…though, a little disclaimer here…I wouldn’t really call it a “cake.”  It’s more like a squishy, sweet, melt-in-your mouth mix between a chess square/lemon bar consistency and a cake that’s just slightly under cooked.  And more than two pieces just might put you in a sugar coma, so be prepared to share!

DSC_0241I’m getting better at the whole “taking pictures of food” thing, I think.  Might need to sign up for my good friend Erin’s photography workshop over on Sixth Bloom.

Anyway, here’s the ingredients I used for these delectable dessert.  Really, that’s all you need: yellow cake mix, cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and eggs.

Start by melting 8 tablespoons of butter in the microwave at 20-30 seconds.  I cut my butter into individual tablespoons to make it melt uniformly – a lesson I learned from my grandmother.  Looks like this:

DSC_0243Pour the melted butter, one box of yellow cake mix, and one egg into your stand mixer (or into a bowl to beat with a hand mixer) and mix it up until it reaches a doughy consistency.  Then press the dough into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 X 9 inch pan.  Make sure you press some dough up the sides like you see here to create the crust of this cake all the way around.  

DSC_0249Then, in a new bowl (or just clean out the one you had before), beat your cream cheese, the remaining two eggs, the vanilla, and powdered sugar until creamy.  Pour this mixture over your crust and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. DSC_0300

 

When you take it out, the top should be a golden color and should seem squishy on top.  Sorry – lack of a better word!  But really, it’s squishy. 

IMG_0040

Oops!  I ate a piece before I remembered to take a pic.  But really, wouldn’t you be just so excited for this delicious dessert that you might forget too?  I wouldn’t judge.  Here’s the recipe for you guys – a good ole printable for your cookbooks…or Pinterest!  (Check me out on Pinterest while you’re at it!)

Ooey Gooey Cake
Yields 20
The best damn dessert ever! Creamy, sweet, and fluffy, this dessert will wow your friends AND give you a sugar high like none other. Perfection!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
  2. 3 Eggs
  3. 2 Sticks of Butter (Melted)
  4. 1 8oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened
  5. 1 tsp. Vanilla
  6. 2 cups of powdered sugar (or one 16 oz. box of powdered sugar)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the cake mix, egg, and half the melted butter and mix well with an electric mixer. I use the paddle attachment on my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, but you can also use a hand mixer with wisk attachments. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan. (Note: You can line your pan with foil if you want to easily lift the ooey gooey cake out of the pan to cool. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't.)
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth (I use my stand mixer for this again). Add the eggs, vanilla, and the rest of the melted butter and beat until all ingredients are combined. Next, add a little bit of powdered sugar at a time and mix. If you add all the powdered sugar at once, you could end up with a big puff of white stuff in your face. No good! 🙂
  4. Pour this mixture over the cake batter crust and bake for 40-50 minutes. The center should still be gooey but not liquid when you remove the pan from the oven.
  5. When the cake is cooled, cut into squares and serve!
Notes
  1. Sometimes when I bake this dessert, I get a brown top when it's done and other times I don't. Neither way is wrong or right...they both taste great!
Adapted from Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted from Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake
The OMG Life http://www.theomglife.com/

 

What Comes After the Pumpkin Patch?

IMG_2315

IMG_2315The holiday season is upon us.  Starbucks has broken out their red cups, caramel Brulee latte is ready to make it’s debut (my favorite!), and it’s almost acceptable for me to blast Christmas music from every speaker I own.

Oh wait, there’s a holiday between Halloween and Christmas?

That’s right…Thanksgiving.  The forgotten holiday.  We prepare for Halloween like a vengeance in our family, particularly because October is a whole month of celebration.  Our little man’s birthday and my nephew’s birthday (same day, cool story); our wedding anniversary; the school fall festival; face painting around town; and Halloween night’s major block party all contribute to our feeling lost and deprived in the gap between Halloween and Christmas.

IMG_2259We visited the pumpkin patch the day before Halloween.  Since we live in a major city, the “real” pumpkin patch is an hour away…not complaining, really.  It’s nice to have little man out there with lots of land to run around and play.  Where would you get to play in giant bales of (smelly) hay in New Orleans?  Probably nowhere.  Thankfully.

Due to major rain headed our way, Halloween was moved to Friday throughout the city.  Kind of crazy, but it left us celebrating Halloween on Friday AND Saturday.  Little Man’s costume was a full-blown dinosaur masterpiece, which he wouldn’t really let me snap a photo of because, well, “Dinosaurs don’t take pictures.”  They also “don’t wear shoes” and “love chocolate milk.”  Who knew?  Apparently my 4 year old.

So after two days of Halloween celebratin’, pumpkin patchin’, and trick or treatin’…well, we were pooped.  And now, momma has a kid on a sugar high, adjusting to daylight savings time, and pumpkins of various sizes floating around my house with no where to live. Seems like a rough life for a pumpkin post-Halloween, eh?  I don’t even want to think about the poor jack-o-lanterns.  Sheesh.

So what comes after the pumpkin patch?

The winner from the Pumpkin Patch

The winner from the Pumpkin Patch

First, I’m going to give those pumpkins a few days of being “thankful” since that seems like

the theme around town.  Thankful they weren’t made into jack-o-lanterns.  Thankful they haven’t been made into pumpkin puree yet (oh, but it’s coming!).  Thankful they aren’t being left outside to rot.

Then, I’m going to plan out all of the delicious pumpkin-themed things I’m going to whip up before Thanksgiving.  You can check out some of the delightful things I have pinned in my “Call me Betty Crocker” board on Pinterest.  The pumpkin tiramisu is one of the things I’m most excited to try.

Then, I’m going to start getting excited about one of my favorite events of the year…Black Friday!  Yes, I am one of those people – the ones that go out on Thanksgiving night and shop ’til I literally drop.  It’s something I do with my husband’s side of the family, and while some may criticize the whole debacle, I actually credit the craziness to some of the best memories I’ve shared with people who, though they aren’t blood related, they are the family I’ve married into, and I love them. I wouldn’t knock them over for a deal, either.

So what comes after the pumpkin patch for you and your family?  Tell me in the comments below.

Till next time, ya’ll!

 

Mom’s Night at the Theater

I’m pretty uncomfortable blogging about my outfits mostly because I don’t feel very trendy or stylish most of the time.   I have an hourglass shape, and believe it or not, it’s difficult to fit some of the latest trends on this kind of frame.  Recently I got a message on Facebook from someone I’ve known for years, asking me where I shop and what kind of clothes do I buy.  Having a shape similar to mine, she was interested.  And, quite frankly, it’s not easy!  How can you really search “hourglass mom shape from breastfeeding for 13 months and simply having been blessed with a big ole booty?”  Yeah, good luck with that.

I’m luckily married to my husband in so many ways.  But one of the BEST ways is the fact that his company has VIP tickets to the Saenger Theater in New Orleans.  We are able to see nearly every Broadway show that comes to town, and since I am a HUGE theater buff, I find this honestly thrilling in a way that other people might find annoying.  *Cue bursting into song and dance number*

My mom and I went on a date to see Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.  It was pretty magical, though I was concerned with the number of little girls showing up in Disney princess dresses, hoping for Disney’s version of the story.   They must have been confused – so many differences between the two stories!  But anyway, I digress.  Here’s what I’m wearing on a late October night in New Orleans, at 75 degrees outside but relatively low humidity (darn all you people with a real “fall”)

IMG_1924The top is from Old Navy (similar here), and the skirt is actually a steal I got from Ross for $7.95 (though they have a similar inexpensive one here).  My watch is the Apple Watch (future post about its awesomeness to come – but I must say the timer on my watch let me take these photos without help) and my bracelet is from Forever 21 years ago.  My earrings are from NolaMeg designs on Etsy (here).

My foundation is Clinique (here) and I use a Maybelline Nudes Eyeshadow Palette (here), an ELF contouring kit (here), a Nyx blush (here), and Loreal liquid eyeliner (here).  I’m not big on liquid eyeliner, but I like the way this stuff looks and it doesn’t aggravate my sensitive eyes.

IMG_2140

I promise I’ll get better at this selfie thing.  But my whole outfit and makeup were perfectly within Mom-budget guidelines.  A friend on Facebook said that a Stay at Home Mom Budget is so restrictive that she hasn’t bought anything for herself; as you can see, I can look pretty fab without much effort.  Bring out your sexy moms!

Till next time ya’ll!

 

 

Back at it with the Liebster Award Nomination

It’s been a minute since I posted…ok, well, it’s been almost a year. In that time, I’ve encountered some crazy ups and downs that can only lead me back to blogging. When you think about blogging in your head and what would make a good blog post as part of your daily routine, I’d say it’s time to get back to pen and paper. Or in my case, keyboard and screen.

Thank you to Oh Baby Baby for the nomination!  It’s the very first time that I’ve known someone (other than my mom – Hey mom!) to read my little blog over here.  The Liebster award is an internet-based award that, while it seems like a massive chain letter, is actually an excellent way to recognize other bloggers and connect with other writer-mommies all over the world.  It’s also a great way to gain more blog followers! (Thanks to Oh Baby Baby for the image below).

Don’t forget that Bloggers have to have less than 200 followers and be sure to notify the Bloggers you have nominated!

11 Questions from Oh Baby Baby:

  1. Why did you start blogging?  I started blogging because I love writing and I love trying new things.  First I thought…How funny would it be if I actually starting doing things I see on Pinterest and post my pass/fail?  Then it turned into so much more.  I slacked off writing a bit, but I’m ready to get back at it!
  2. What is your favorite food?  My favorite food is probably ice cream.  Or macaroni and cheese.  Or wine.  Wait, maybe it’s cake?  I just love to cook and eat.  That’s a hard one.
  3. What was your first job?  My first job was a student assistant dance teacher.  It turned into a love for teaching dance that I never quite got rid of.
  4. What are you having for dinner tonight?  Tonight we are having soft tacos with amazing taco skillet sauce and roasted broccoli on the side.
  5. Pick one word to describe your blog.  My blog is…an infant!
  6. If you could go to any place in the world on a free vacation for a week, where would you go? Greece or Italy.  Somewhere in the Mediterranean/European area.
  7. Who was your favorite teacher?  I had so many great middle school teachers.  The most effective was probably my English teacher, who instilled a love for writing in me from an early age.
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?  I hope to have a more popular blog, choreographing and recording YouTube dance videos, and maybe two more children.
  9. Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?  My mom.  I find I’m more like her each and every day.
  10. If you had to be any animal for the rest of your life , what would you pick? I’d pick my weenie dog, Andouille, who is spoiled and has a pretty great life, if I do say so myself!
  11. What is your favorite color?  I love shades of blue; aqua is my favorite!

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I have a ridiculous addiction to broccoli.  I love it just about any way you can cook it, but I don’t like it raw.
  2. I’ve been teaching dance for 16 years.
  3. I love to bake cakes, but I’m not a big fan of eating cake.
  4. I met my husband at a frat party for my college.  The catch is that he didn’t go to my college and he wasn’t in that frat – he was crashing the party!
  5. I really love TV.  I don’t watch anything live though – only DVR.  I don’t even know how I have time to watch it.
  6. I can lose myself for hours in Costco.  Or Michaels.  Or Hobby Lobby.
  7. My sister in law says I’m a really slow shopper.  It’s only because I circle the store multiple times before picking up anything.
  8. I cried when I found out I was having a boy for my first child because I was convinced I was having a girl.
  9. I take really good care of my teeth.  I didn’t even have a cavity until I was 29 years old!
  10. I am a Mac person, not a PC.  I have the iPhone, the iPad, a MacBook, and I just got the Apple watch.  I don’t think I could do business without them.
  11. I’ve never broken a bone in my body…well, except a toe, but that’s not saying much for a dancer/dance teacher.

Nominees for the Liebster Award:

Sixth Bloom

Aubrey Avocado

Rickie Lee Jones Blog

The Greenish Mommy

11 Questions My Nominees Need To Answer For the Liebster Award

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. What is your favorite food?
  3. What was your first job?
  4. What are you having for dinner tonight?
  5. Pick one word to describe your blog.
  6. If you could go to any place in the world on a free vacation for a week, where would you go?
  7. Who was your favorite teacher?
  8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  9. Who would you say has been the most influential person in your life?
  10. If you had to be any animal for the rest of your life , what would you pick?
  11. What is your favorite color?

 

10 Christmas Songs You Haven’t Heard

 

Christmas Songs You Haven't HeardI love Christmas music.  Like, I really, really love it.  I really try to hold off until after Thanksgiving, but having satellite radio made me cross over to the jolly side early this year.  It’s not my fault that one of my preset stations changed over to seasonal music before Thanksgiving!  🙂  I can’t bring myself to turn it off, and I’ve learned a lot of new songs or remakes of classic songs that you definitely want to add to your playlist RIGHT NOW.

  1. “Little Toy Trains” by Raffi – My husband actually introduced this whole album to me because his parents played it for him when he was little.  At first, I’ll admit I thought it was…different.  But now, it’s one of my go-to Christmas staples and kids LOVE the simple arrangement and easy-to-understand lyrics.
  2. “Celebrate Me Home” by the Nashville Cast – I love this show!  When I found out they made a Christmas album, I kind of did a few fist pumps.  Ok, ok.  I’m downplaying my excitement.  But really, the Nashville Cast has such a wide vocal range that this song’s layers are beautifully arranged.
  3. “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” by Jonathan Jackson – This is a great remake of an oldie!  Jonathan Jackson is part of the Nashville cast, so you can find this one on their Christmas album as well.  It’s great to see an actor from my childhood (of whom I can remember having teen posters on my wall) being a success in his adult years.
  4. “What Do I Do With the Blue” by Tim Rushlow – This song has a great Big Band sound, with just enough blend of old-school and pop music.  TIm Rushlow doesn’t have many songs on iTunes; his Christmas album was released right before Thanksgiving.  I think we might be seeing some future success from this newcomer.
  5. “Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Pentatonix – You might have seen their video of “Mary Did You Know” circulating Facebook.  But this Mash Up is really clever, and let’s face it – the list is about songs you haven’t heard!  Pentatonix does a great job of making listeners hear musical instruments that just don’t exist.  As an acapella group, all of the sound is made with the bandmates’ voices.  So freaking cool! The dance teacher in me is drawn to their version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” too, especially since this song is originally done with no vocals.
  6. “All I Want For Christmas is You” by Idina Menzel – Most people know the song made popular by Mariah Carey BEFORE all artists were releasing the quintessential Christmas album.  But this remake by none other than Elsa herself is a beautiful rendition that adds a retro feel to the music.
  7. “Christmas in Dixie” by Alabama – My dad does not claim to like country music, but it never stopped him from playing this album every Christmas I can remember.  It’s such a great classic Christmas song, and I consider it an essential song for my personal Christmas celebrations.
  8. “Deck the Rooftop” by the Glee Cast – Yet another great mashup by the talented whiz kids of Glee.  It’s a mix of Deck the Halls and Up on the Rooftop, but it’s literally mashed together in the same line.  Pretty creative arrangement, and kids love this upbeat and fresh version almost as much as adults.
  9. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid 30 – This song is a remake of the 1984 song to raise funds for Ethiopia; an all star cast comes together again to raise funds to support West African nations as they fight the ebola virus.  Artists on this track include: Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande, Ellie Golding, One Direction, Bono, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
  10. “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” by N’Sync – I was a teenager during N’Sync’s heyday, so when this Christmas album came out I had to play it about a million times.  Even though it’s been a decade, playing these songs are my own special Christmas tradition.  There are some upbeat ones as well as their take on classic staples.  It’s worth listening to, even if you never were a fan of the boy band era.

That concludes my list of songs you may not have heard.  Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list!  What are some songs you think I should add?  Leave them in the comments below.

Until next time ya’ll!

 

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