August 26, 2014

My Life With Two: A Year Later

I've written this post a time or two.  Once it was all butterflies and rainbows, raising two small kids.  The next time I was day-drinking because, dude, shit got real.  Now I've been at the game for a little over a year and I feel like I'm somewhere in between. 

Raising two little kids is more than double the work of one.  I truly believe that.  And you moms of 3+ are probably laughing at me, saying, "you think two is tough...".  I know.  I KNOW.  You ladies are saints and are doing a job I don't think I could ever do.  Two is my number, I am tapping out.  

Let's start with the littlest.  James Weston has stolen my heart.  He's made me love like I've never loved before.  When he was born there was nothing like the feeling I felt holding him.  My pride, love, gratitude, happiness, were all overflowing.  He was a snuggly little baby and wanted to be held a lot.  While it made for a messy house, I didn't care.  I knew that precious baby time went fast and so I snuggled.  I should have known that was foreshadowing my future with him.  
James is a very demanding baby/infant/toddler {I don't know what to call a one-year-old}.  He needs attention constantly.  He likes to be held, a lot.  He still cries a lot.  He's into e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  He's definitely the definition of a boy, through and through.  His new favorite thing is climbing.  If he can climb it, he will.  I've recently found him in some dangerous situations, laughing and clapping, proud as a peacock.  He's trouble with a capital T and will be the reason I keep my hair blonde {so you don't see the grays}.  

When James smiles he smiles with his whole face; I've said that since day one.  It's usually the feature that people comment on the most when we're in public, "Look at that SMILE!".  I love it.  He's got 10 little teeth in there too but you can't see them unless he's hanging upside down.  He's a chunky little guy, still, weighing in at 26lbs.  I love his rolly polly legs and yes, I nom on them regularly.  He's starting to get the hang of signing, he can do "more" and "all done" when he wants to.  Baby brother loves to dance and will pretty much dance to anything, even MY singing.  He's getting more adventurous with walking and is starting to stand up and walk without holding on more and more each day.  Dare I say I hope he walks soon?  For selfish reasons, of course {26lbs is HEAVY!}.

He makes me feel all the emotions but I wouldn't have it any other way.  He has completed our family and we love him so.

And that brings me to my big girl, Miss Kendall Paige.  I don't even know where to begin with this one.  When she was born I knew that we'd have a special relationship.  I have always been close with my mom and I can only hope and pray that she and I have such the relationship.  So far so good.  She's my little best friend.  I think the best word to describe Kendall is "spunky".  She's got the sass of a thirteen-year-old but her heart is so tender.  She's very emotional and can go from extremely happy/silly to a full-blown meltdown in mere seconds.  She's full of energy and just when I think she's about to crash she gets a second wind and that blonde, curly hair of hers is bouncing around all over again.  

Girlfriend is smarter than smart.  She amazes me everyday and I will even catch myself saying, "where did you learn/hear that?" and usually she responds with, "I just made it up" or something to that effect.  This summer has actually probably been a disservice to her in the learning department {total mom fail} so I am excited for preschool to start back up so she can get her wheels turning again.  She loves school, her friends and her teachers and I love that about her.  I've had the pleasure of watching her in her classroom and it's such a joy.  I'm always so proud because while she's a little bit more reserved and timid than some of her more rowdy classmates she's a great listener and always does what is asked of her.

Although she just turned four, it's quickly becoming my favorite age.  I love that I can talk to her and have conversations that actually mean something.  She makes me laugh more than anyone can.  The things that come out of her mouth never cease to amaze me.  She's also starting to mimic me and some of the things that I say.  While that can be adorable and hilarious, it's also sometimes embarrassing because I'm not always the best role model.  She's starting to have her own interests and opinions and while that's challenging at times it's also really cool because she's becoming her own person.  She's strong-willed and I hope that is a characteristic that stays with her throughout her adolescence and into adulthood.  

I love this little girl, the one who made me mom.

To see them together is pretty cool too.  When James was first born Kendall was cautiously curious. She never wanted to hold him, she didn't get in his face a lot and normally when I'd ask her if she wanted to interact with him she'd do so but it wouldn't last long.  I think it was her age because now that's all changed.  They still don't really play together, yet, but every once in a while, when the playroom is quiet, I'll sneak in on them and they'll be sitting on the floor interacting and it just makes my heart melt into a big puddle of mush.  I live for those rare, rare moments.  She lights up his life, he loves her more than anyone in our family.  When I get him up from nap he immediately looks around for her and when he sees her he smiles as big as he can.  She thinks he's pretty cool too and his biggest fan when he's learning something new, like walking.  She cheers him on every time even when I'm not paying attention.  

These two have made these last 365 days more chaotic, stressful and sleepless.  I'd have to say the past year has been the toughest but has also taught me the most.  I learned how to love greater, be more patient, better prioritize and, the biggest of all, that I'm not in control.  These little guys have made my life so much better just by being in it.  Even on the tough days I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have two healthy, striving, ridiculously adorable kids that I get the privilege to spend everyday with.  Sure, they make life...different but they also make it worth living. 



August 19, 2014

Mediterranean Meatza Pie

Good morning pizza lovers.  I swear, pizza is THE ONE thing I could eat morning, noon, and night and never get sick of it.  I have never had bad pizza either.  I love it all.  Even the nasty frozen Totino's pizza that they serve in elementary school cafeterias.  Are you with me?

So when I decided to go Paleo {you know, two weeks ago} I knew that pizza would be hard for me to give up.  I searched and searched and found a Paleo pizza recipe {meatza} and I was immediately skeptical.  Meat crust?  I wasn't sure if I even liked sun-dried tomatoes.  I knew I loved spinach and artichoke dip but didn't know how I felt about straight artichoke.  But I added this to our weekly menu/meal plan and decided to try it.

You guys!  Words cannot even describe the flavor in this meal!  I do like sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes are just fine even when they aren't covered in grease and cheese!  The meat crust?  Ah-ma-zing.  So much flavor.  Now I wouldn't go calling this a replacement for pizza because it's not.  It's nothing like pizza that I know and love.  The only similarity between this and pizza is the tomato sauce.  And I ate it with a fork.  BUT this will be a staple recipe in the Dew house and I'll be mixing it up with different toppings each time {even though this combination was bomb.com}.


Makes 2.
Crust:
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef {I used venison}
  • 2 Tablespoons mixed dried herbs {I used Tastefully Simple Rustic Herb Seasoning}
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried dill)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Suggested toppings (about 1/2 cup of each topping should be plenty):
  • Tomato sauce
  • Red bell pepper, sliced
  • Sundried tomatoes, sliced
  • Artichoke hearts (canned or packed in oil), chopped
  • Olives, any kind, sliced
  • Arugula leaves 
  • Fresh basil for garnish
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the crust ingredients – ground beef, dried herbs, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the meat in half. Press half the meat into an 8″ round pie pan. Repeat with the other half.
  4. Bake for 10-15 min or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and drain off any liquid in the pan.
  5. Now it’s time to do the toppings. I added the tomato sauce and red pepper first, then popped it back in for another 5 minutes to soften those up. Then, I took out the crust, added the rest of the toppings – arugula leaves, sundried tomatoes, artichokes {and olives for Jimmy}.
Enjoy!!!


August 11, 2014

What Makes Your Child Laugh?

I remember, before I had kids, watching America's Funniest Home Videos with my parents in the basement of my childhood home.  My favorite videos were the ones of babies belly laughing.  That uncontrollable, can't catch their breath laugh that comes from their toes.  It's infectious and quite possibly the cutest thing, ever.  I love babies laughing. Did you know there is a such thing as the Baby Laugh Index™ {BLI}™?  Seriously there is this ridiculously cute quiz you can take to discover what kind of laugh-er your baby is.

When Kendall was a baby she never had a belly laugh.  She was a happy baby, yes, she laughed, smiled, giggled, made funny noises, the whole thing but she never had that deep down belly laugh.  She was more of a snort laugher.  Now that she's a little bit older she snorts when she laughs all the time, along with a little pig-like squeal.

James on the other hand, boy can belly laugh.  I have said it since the day he was born, he smiles with his whole face when he laughs.  His laugh comes from his toes to his nose and it's the only time I can see all of his top teeth.  His laugh is more of an insta-ha laugh.  But when he's done laughing he's done.  Like shuts it off cold turkey.  It's hilarious. Bright Starts™ sent us the 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™ to test out James BLI™ and does it ever.  Of course he's not the only one laughing over this adorable toddler toy, big sister thinks it's the bees knees!

James is just getting comfortable walking and holding onto things, the couch, coffee table, potty {insert eye roll}, he will pull himself up on anything he can put his chubby little fingers on.  A lot of people cringe and want to push their baby down when they start to learn how to walk but we want James to walk.  So far this has been the only thing that has gotten him to take some steps.  Usually I hold his hands and Jimmy will dangle some keys but he plops right down, and crawls the fastest crawl, the minute we let go.

We have other push behind toys but none of them induce the kind of fun that this one does.  James mostly loves pushing the lions nose and watching the balls spin around his mane.  Like I said, he's starting to get more comfortable with pushing it, until it starts going too fast for his chubby legs to keep up with. Kendall loves riding on it and being that the majority of our house is hardwood, she can get pretty speedy.   This toy should also come along with a Baby Cry Index because both of my kids love it so much that they are constantly fighting over it.  Oh the joys of raising two children.

What toys do your kids fight over?  Share your answer in the comments below for a chance to win one of these Bright Starts™ toys: Jungle Fun Ball Climber™, Hide 'n Spin Monkey™, or 3-in-1 Step 'n Ride Lion™ which debuted at BlogHer 2014.

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July 24, 2014

Monster Cookies

Raise your hand if you have pinned things thinking, "I'll totally do/make/try/recreate this later" and then never looking at it again.

::raises hand::

I think the board I'm most guilty of "pinning & forgetting" is my Food! board.  It's my biggest board in term of number of pins and therefore it's probably the one that I look at the most and just stare with complete overwhelming dumbness and close out of it before I wind up making that awful buffalo chicken pasta again {insert pukey emoji here}.  

I pin lots and lots and lots of desserts.  It's my inner fat girl coming out, what can I say?  When we get invited to a cookout, potluck, anything I always race to see what Pinterest has that I can make but then I always fall back on my tried and true fruit pizza

Until last weekend.

Last weekend we had friends over and I knew I wanted to try something different.  I knew kids were going to be here and so I thought I would do something kid friendly and something that Kendall could help me make.  Her favorite thing to make is cookies, because she likes to eat the dough {girl after my own heart}.  So I've never had a Monster Cookie and I've heard nothing but delicious things about them so Monster Cookies it was.  

And I will add...I am not a cookie baker.  Every cookie I make comes out like crap.  Chocolate chip come out hollowed out underneath and super crispy.  Peanut butter cookies come out too dense.  Snickerdoodles come out too bitter.  Those ones with the Hershey kiss in the middle, too hard.  I fail time after time with cookies but these?  These turned out amazing and I will never bake another cookie in my life. 


Monster Cookies

INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 350F Degrees

1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 box (3.4oz) vanilla pudding 
1 tsp. baking soda
1 stick of butter, softened 
1/2 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. mini M&Ms
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. peanut butter chips

DIRECTIONS:
In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, and vanilla pudding- set aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add egg and vanilla. Scrape down sides. Reduce to low speed and add flour (dry) mixture. Combine until just incorporated. Add oats, M&Ms, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. The batter should be thick enough to work with and roll. 


Scoop 2 tbsp. ball-you do not have to worry as they spread very little. Roll into ball shape between palms and space cookies 2 inches apart. Slightly press down on cookie balls to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling wrack.

These cookies are like an oatmeal cookie, peanut butter cookie, chocolate chip cookie and an M&M cookie got together and had a baby!  Who doesn't love the sound of that?  Seriously amazing!  And, I've said this before, my husband doesn't eat sweets {he's a freak of nature} and he ate more of these than I did, I think.  Husband approved!  

Enjoy!

July 23, 2014

SO WHAT! Wednesday

Life After I DewThis week I'm saying SO WHAT if...


A $5 bouquet of "managers special" flowers makes me happy.

Lately I've started a new weekly tradition of hitting up the supermarket for clearance flowers.  I don't know what prompted me to do it three, or so, weeks ago but I think it was that I was tired of our table looking "blah" and decided to check out the floral department.  I found a whole section of flowers that had been seriously marked down but were still gorgeous bouquets.  I'm not talking just carnations and babys breath.  These bouquets are full of lilies, roses, daisies, sunflowers, some wispy spiky yellow flower that I love, they're beautiful.

The first week of having clearance flowers they lasted over a week so when I went to the supermarket that week I bought another, and so on and so on.  Each week they last almost exactly a week and for that entire week they make me happy when I walk into our kitchen/dining room.  I don't know why I waited so long to start buying myself flowers before.

Jimmy, that was a hint ;-).

It feels silly to write a whole post on a silly little bouquet of flowers that no one really sees except me and Jimmy and the kids but it's really been a game changer.  Seeing them makes me smile, it makes our room seem happier, Kendall loves watching the flowers bloom and talks about all the different kinds, it's really fun.  Silly, yes, but that's what life is all about, right?

What are you saying SO WHAT to this week?  Also do you have any silly splurges, like clearance flowers, that make you happy?

July 22, 2014

An Open Apology

Dear Bloggers and Blog Readers,

I am sorry for the way I've blogged over the past year or so.

When I first started writing this blog it was mainly for my wedding party.  I was a newly engaged twenty something and I wanted a place to put all of my wedding ideas.  My goal was to have all of my bridesmaids read the blog and be on the same page when it came to wedding preparations.  I quickly found out that I really enjoyed blogging and other people were actually reading.  It made me excited and made me want to keep going.

As my followers grew so did my head.  I wanted more, more, more.  Let's be honest, reading comments from readers gives you a sort of high.  It lets you know that people support you, people like you and that feels good.  You're lying if you say that's not true.  While I'm not saying that was the sole purpose of my writing it always helped to know that the comments would come flowing in with each new blog post.

I branched out into the sponsorship and advertising world. The first month I accepted sponsors I got 10 paid spots immediately {they like me, they really like me!} and I saw the potential to make some money on this "hobby".  I joined Blogher and started accepting product reviews and got paid to promote products which opened up a whole new world of making money.  Throw in social media touts which were super easy and paid pretty decent.  They were annoying, they clogged up people's feed but they were an easy way to make $50 so I did them.

Did I like writing those posts?  Not really.  I always put them off till the absolute last minute.  Was I good at them?  Not at all.  Some people have a way with words where they can sort of conceal a sponsored post and make it readable. I am not one of them.  Mine always read "sponsored, sponsored, sponsored".  Annoying, annoying, annoying.

I would get comments here and there, "oh, surprise, another sponsored post..." and I would scoff and say something like, "if you don't like it, don't read it" in my head.  I still think that people should just click that little red X in the corner of their screen if they don't like something they are reading BUT I get it.  I got lost in why I started this blog in the first place.

I started seeing it as an opportunity to make money rather than keeping my heart and soul in it.  I liked getting the extra little bit of money each month and at one point I made over $1,000.00 in one month and thought I was the bees knees.  At that point I didn't really care that I was putting unworthy content out there. I didn't care that I was clogging up people's news feed.  I saw that money go up and up each month and it made me feel good.  Call me delusional but to me, at that time, I thought I had "made it" in the blog world.

What can I say, money is the biggest motivator especially when you don't have much of it.

I have the Timehop app on my phone, as many of you do, and one year ago, two years ago I was sponsoring, touting, clogging up feeds left and right.  It's annoying for ME to see in my Timehop app so I can only imagine how annoying it had to be for YOU to see at the time.  Hard to believe that it took seeing my "one year ago..." history to realize how annoying I had become.

I am sorry.

I got caught up in the business part of my blog and started to lose focus of why I really wanted to be a blogger in the first place.  My intentions got lost and I saw green.  I kind of turned into a blog slut.  That's now how I want this blog to be.  I want this to be a place where I share my life, my thoughts, my likes, my dislikes, like it used to be.  Back to basics blogging.  Not to say that there will never be a sponsored post or product review ever again BUT I am going to be MUCH more selective about what I chose to share and get paid for.

For those of you who stuck it out through the horribly written blatantly obvious sponsored posts.  For those of you who didn't "hide" me on your news feed.  For those of you who are still reading after all that garbage.  THANK YOU.  I wasn't a good blogger to you but you stuck it out and are still supporting me.

I know I'm not the only blogger who has gotten off track and let the money making part take priority over the real content.  I know there are other bloggers out there who think that that is the way to "make it" in the blog world too.  That's why I'm OK with sharing my faults and failures.  For some people they can have a healthy balance of both and hats off to those who can. I am not one of them.

So back to basics blogging for this girl.  Back to sharing my life and what I like.  A little bit of recipes, a little momming, a little fashion, a little fitness, maybe some celebrity gossip here and there.  I hope you're OK with that.

Sincerely,

A Formerly Money Hungry Blogger Who Lost Sight Of Her Real Passion But Promises To Get Back There,  Mrs. Dew.





July 21, 2014

Right Now I'm...

Listening to:  Sam Hunt.  I think he's classified as "country" but I don't know.  I mean sure there's that banjo-y part to his music but its kinda like hip-hop-ish too.  I don't know how to describe him but me loves him.  I can only find like 5 songs on Spotify so I play them on repeat.  I need to see if he's on tour because I need to see him live.

Reading:  I just finished My Husbands Secret per everyone in the worlds recommendation.  I have to say, you let me down internets.  Although I'm fairly certain I am the only person who wasn't mesmerized by this book.  I just hated how the chapters skipped around between different character sets, it was like I had to relearn everyone's story with every new chapter.  I also thought there was a lot that was fluff and could have been left out.  And, without ruining anything, I wasn't that surprised by any of it.  Next recommendation?

Watching:  Candidly Nicole.  I love me some Nicole Richie.  Now back in the Simple Life days she was a bit annoying and I kinda cringed through every episode.  But now I think she's just hilarious and I'm happy to have a new guilty pleasure in my life.  I'm not digging the blue/purple hair though.  Thank you Instagram "discover" button for letting me know to check out VH1 because I couldn't tell you the last time I tuned into that channel.  And then I saw the previews for Leann & Eddie...should I be watching that too?

Planning:  Kendall and James's 4th and 1st birthday party.  For those that don't know, their birthdays are only two days apart so combined parties 4-eva.  I admit it was one of the first things I thought about when we found out I was pregnant with James, we tried to avoid another August birthday.  But now that I'm doing it I'm kinda loving that I'll only have to do this once a year.  One and done.  Luckily Kendall picked the theme this year, Paw Patrol, and it is gender neutral so it works.  I'm sure future years will not be so easy.

Shopping for:  Dare I say I'm looking at fall clothes already?  I know, I KNOW.  It's ridiculous, it really is.  Summer is my favorite.  I love all things about it but mostly the clothes.  Summer clothes are cuter and cheaper and well summer rules. But, hear me out, last fall/winter I was fat.  I didn't get to wear the boots tucked into skinny jeans.  I was afraid to try the combat boot trend- something about being 50ish lbs lighter gives me confidence to wear things I wouldn't otherwise.  So this year I'm excited to be in a different place so I'm buying a few new pieces to celebrate.

Realizing:  I am so lucky to have the friends that I do. This weekend we spent a lot of time with our friends and both Friday and Saturday I was reminded how thankful I am to be surrounded by these people.  My "neighbor" has such a good heart, she loves her kids with every fiber of her being, she is a kick ass wife to her husband and always makes me aspire to be a little more giving of myself.  My other friend and I have been friends since we were five-years-old.  We've seen each other at our best times and our worst and no matter what we love each other.  She is the closest thing that I will ever have to a sister and I love her.  How many people can say that they are still BFFs with the same person as when they were five?

Writing:  I'm trying to get back into blogging on the regular.  I miss writing daily but that's not going to happen anytime soon, sadly.  I am trying to make it more of a priority, for me, because it makes me happy and I hope it makes you happy too.  This week I've got a post about how a $5 bouquet of flowers is making me the happiest girl on the block and also a monster cookie recipe.  Yay for blogging!

Wishing that:  The weekends never had to end.  Jimmy has been so busy with work that I have really started to cherish our weekend time together, so much.  Everything is so much easier with another parent to tackle two kids.  Family outings are more fun when he can be a part of it.  And staying up a little later talking about the future is even more sweet on the weekends.  I hate to see them end, every week.

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.  Here's to making Monday a little less Monday-ish.