Friday, May 29, 2015

Birchbox Breakdown: May 2015

I've realized that I hardly ever buy makeup in the summer. Beyond sunscreen and mascara I don't wear nearly as much as I do in the winter, so I rarely shop for it between May and September. This means that I hadnn't even been thinking about my subscription when the box showed up and it was a delightful little surprise! Woohoo! (You have to imagine me saying that in the Target Lady voice).

I chose the "Beauty Solutions" box because I'm all about problem solving even when your problems are, admittedly, just first world ones. Here's what was inside:

CoTZ Flawless Complexion SPF 50


CoTZ® Flawless Complexion SPF 50 

I loved this, hands down. It's a slightly tinted sunscreeen that's not too oily or greasy. I liked that it didn't turn my pale face orange, which many do, and it didn't sting or slide off throughout the day. I like it enough to wear it alone, or you can put it under foundation as a moisturizer and it will add little extra coverage. I'm a huge fan of it being SPF 50 since I turn all sorts of freckly and blotchy after too much sun. It's $20 which is really reasonable for a sunscreen this nice.

Juara Candlenut Body Creme


JUARA Candlenut Body Creme 
This body cream (or creme if we're feeling the need to parlez Francais) is nice. It's very rich and has an inoffensive smell. The sample size was miniscule so it only covered my arms (no, I don't have giant arms, it really was that small) but I'm not quite sure it's worth $35. I think you could find a drugstore brand that performs the same.

Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel
Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel 
The name of this product is entirely too long. So many words. That being said, I really like this gel. I used it as more of a serum and put it on under my regular moisturizer, but it would be sufficient if you have oily skin. I have read that vitamin C is supposed to be magical, anti-aging, brightening and create a mystical barrier from UV rays....or something like that. I just liked the feel of it. It had a cooling sensation when you put it on and smelled like cucumbers. It's $24 which is approaching my threshold of "too expensive" but it might be worth it if you like a lighter moisturizer or spend a lot of time in the sun. 

Number 4 Blow Dry Lotion

Number 4™ Blow Dry Lotion 

This is supposed to help your hair dry faster and keep it from getting frizzy when you blow dry. I only tried it once but it seemed to work as promised and my hair dried pretty quickly. It's $32 which is quite pricey for me since I blow dry my hair about four times a year. 

W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara

W3LL PEOPLE The Expressionist Mascara 

Let's ignore the fact that they used a 3 in their name instead of a letter and give them the benefit of the doubt. I did not have high hopes for this mascara as I had tried A LOT of mascaras and am really picky. It was described as "all natural" which I realize doesn't mean much but I was thinking it might be made out of clay and charcoal or some nonsense. I tried it and was blown away. This mascara is amazing and gives you thick black lashes without clumps. I love it. Of course it's $23.50 because good things are rarely cheap and now I have to decided if I like my money or my eyelashes better.

*all photos are from the Birchbox website*

Overall, I think this box was a hit. I appreciated that it was products I'd actually use in the summer and not heavy perfume and glittery eyeshadow.  Seriously, sunscreen and mascara are all almost all I wear and they sent me two amazing ones. Nice job guys.



Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Box of Nuts

video
Finally figured out the time lapse feature on my
phone. Of course I only managed to capture the boys playing with America's #1 toy and going completely bonkers. So I set it to music, as one does, and instead of a shaky home movie I can call it art. Behold.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3 Things: Science and Oboes

 

The warm weather is back, and feeling slightly reminiscent of Charleston with this ridiculous humidity. The kids beg to go out and play and then rush back in before five minutes has passed because it's so gross outside. We've been spending a lot of time in the library instead, and I'm sure the librarian is just thrilled we're there so much. Anyway, here are some things we've been watching and reading this week:


Reading:    


 The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe

 The Elements by Theodore Gray.  A fellow mom recommended this to me because her son also eats, sleeps and breathes science and it did not disappoint. This book covers the known elements, breaks down how the periodic table works, and has photographs of almost every element which is AMAZING. The text is very witty and not at all dry, so Aiden loves it and even I find it to be really interesting.


Watching: 
Bill Nye is on Netflix!!!! Yes, that deserved four exclamation points. We let Aiden watch it this weekend and, to no one's surprise, he loooved it. A match made in heaven. Or a science lab. Last night he informed me that the earth doesn't move in a circle but in an ellipse, and travels faster as it moves past the sun. On Monday Rory started shoving the table at breakfast and Aiden said "That feels like the tectonic plates rubbing against each other!" Thank you Bill Nye. Science rules.  

Sean and I watched the entire series of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. After watching the pilot I wasn't really interested but we watched the second episode and it was much better. It's about two women who learn that their husbands, who are business partners, have fallen in love and are leaving their forty year marriages for each other.  It has an amazing cast: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen and Sam Waterstone.  It's a surprisingly funny and very honest look at how these two women navigate being single in their seventies and how the two men handle coming out as gay men. Heavy subject matter done brilliantly.
Image result for grace and frankie 

Listening: 

I've been listening to a lot of classical music this week. I tend to have it on in the background when I'm driving or making dinner since it's the only music that Rory likes. After months of listening to it on and off I still know very little about it or the composers but I'm feeling like I need to read about it now. 

Here's a lovely oboe concerto for you:



Look at that sassy oboe playing. Reminds me of Ron Burgundy and his jazz flute. Go get it Oboe Man.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Weekend Recap: Memorial Day

Last weekend, a regular old two day weekend, we went to a parade and mulched the entire front section of our yard and did all manner of things. This weekend, a three day weekend, we did....not much of anything. Not even a parade! Shame on us.

Saturday was hectic because Aiden went to his best friend's birthday party (sounded like he had an amazing time) and then we had to pick him up early to attend a family shindig with all three kids in tow. People always seem disappointed when we don't take the kids with us when we visit but there is a reason. We spent the entire party chasing the two little ones, keeping them from pulling food and drinks off tables and keeping them out of the road. We said our hellos and then....chased kids. That was it. Exhausting and a little frustrating. Those two events don't seem like a lot for one day but everyone was so wound up by the time we got home at 7pm that it felt like a weeks worth of activity.

Party dress!

On Sunday Sean planned to take the kids for a bike ride to the park. Aiden rides his bike and Sean takes the little ones in the trailer. It's HILARIOUS to see those two all strapped in and ready to ride. I planned to meet him there and drive everyone home since the ride back is mostly uphill. Sean left on what I thought would be a long ride and called me ten minutes later to see if I was there already. Uh, no Flash Gordon and Flash Jr., I hadn't left the house yet. The kids all played at the park for a while and then zonked out all afternoon while Sean and I did various, non-important bits of cleaning. At least Aiden made it to the pool with my mom. He'd been asking to go since mid-March so that was a big deal.

"Houston, we're ready for take off". Also, poor babydoll never made it home. I believe she was chucked out somewhere on the way to the park.

Bugs 'n bathing suits. This, all summer.

On Monday we had planned to go swimming and then mother nature had the audacity to rain. Instead, my friend Tierney came over and the kids went bonkers in the living room instead of the pool. Oh joy. Sean had to go into work that afternoon, which was soul sucking and terrible since it mostly involved waiting for other people to do things, which they did not do, and therefore he got no work done and should've just stayed home and napped.  I didn't tell him this though since he was looking mighty peeved about the whole thing.

Going back to the routine was quite painful today and I think it's pretty clear we're all ready for summer break. 

Peace!





Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thor Visits A New Realm, Brings the Thunder With Him

Rory had his preschool visit today. It was not awesome but it wasn't any worse than I was expecting. Sean and I had been debating all week about whether he should come with me or not and we finally decided that I'd be just fine with both kids. Note to self: NO. NO YOU WILL NOT BE JUST FINE. Always bring extra help.

I had talked to Rory about school and about how this was HIS school, not Aiden's school, this school is special and just for him! Yay! So fun. He was very excited and singing about school school schoooool all the way there. We walked fifty feet into the building, all was well. We peeked into a classroom, fine and dandy! A teacher came over to talk to us and Rory introduced himself by freaking the heck out. I was not surprised but they certainly were.

We see these teachers around town and every single time we run into them we get chatting about the kids and try and warn them: he's not like Aiden. Aiden who had a big, tear filled adjustment to preschool but did it quietly while holding their hand. They always laugh because of course! All children are different! We love those spirited little people! Clearly, they didn't quite get it.

Audrey started crying when Rory did because his volume was completely overwhelming. I ended up whisking them down the hall to the playroom because he was starting to scare the other kids. Rory continued crying in the playroom while Audrey decided she was done sympathizing with him and went off to play by herself. She is ready for preschool despite having another two years of waiting ahead of her. She got out some beach balls and a tricycle and was a happy camper. (Side note: someone at the school asked if they were twins, a question we've gotten about 500 times. I personally don't see it but apparently everyone else does! I mean, they're a year and a half, three pounds and six inches apart. But whatever.)

Various teachers came in and out to chat with us and see if he wanted to play in the classrooms with the other children. He seemed really interested in playing with the other kids he just had no interest in being near the teachers. Of course the teachers kept coming up to try and talk to him and calm him down which in turn made it worse. We finally decided that our brief tour of the classrooms and our extended stay in the playroom were enough for the day. He just wasn't going to calm down.

Despite the rough visit, I'm not too discouraged. We know it's going to be a big change for him and that in the end he's going to love being with the other kids. He is such a spirited kid, and underneath the tough exterior he is so sweet and independent. I just hope that other people take the time to see that and don't chalk him up as being "difficult". Once he adjusts I think he will be one of the happiest kids there. Until then, he just might be one of the noisiest.


 


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

3 Things: Too Much British Fiction Edition

Have I mentioned how insane May has been? There are at least six birthdays that I can think of off the top of my head, plus the school crams in multiple events per week, we've had several doctors and dentist appointments and all the regularly scheduled programming. Yet, I'm feeling weirdly energized by it all. I can't tell if I've just got my stuff together or if I'm about to crash and burn any day now. I think maybe having the end of school in sight is helping me sprint to the finish. That and the gallons of coffee. Anyway, here are some things we've been enjoying this week.

Reading:
The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin. Apparently I've been on a British fiction kick. This is very Downton-esque except everyone is less likable. The book starts strong: it's the late 1800's and Cora Cash is fabulously wealthy and about to go abroad to look for a titled husband. The story is well written and follows several different characters, both rich and poor, which gives a more complete picture but, as I mentioned before, many of these characters have pretty horrible motives. I really wanted to like the story, and it was a compelling read, just a little depressing. Maybe this is a sign I need to break out of this British fiction rut.


Watching:  
 

We've been watching Daredevil on Netflix. We're only three episodes in so I can't make a judgement on it yet, but I'm having trouble really getting into it. I've realized that while I love the Marvel movies (who doesn't at this point) I'm not sure I want to watch an entire season of it. I think it's going to pick up and get good but it's pretty gory and the main character isn't really all that likeable. Must keep reminding myself it's a comic book, stop trying to make it make sense.


Another thing I saw this week was the music video to Ed Sheeran's new song Photograph. The song is good, I love Ed Sheeran, but I'm putting it in the "watching" category because the video makes me cry. It's home movies of him growing up to become a world famous singer but oh man...all the feels. Little boys become men. Sigh.




Listening:

Arkells - Leather Jacket. I don't know why I like this song so much. It's like it's wormed it's way into my brain because I can't stop singing the chorus. I didn't think much of it at first but by now both Sean and I keep humming it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Weekend Recap: There Were Firetrucks


 This has taken forever to post because we took pictures with Sean's phone all weekend. When I went to send them to myself he was busy doing things, how dare he. It has now taken me  until Tuesday to actually get the pictures.  I will tell you though that Monday started with me waking up at 6am because a spider was crawling up my arm, so I'm just glad I made it to Tuesday without burning our bedroom down. We'll chalk it up as a win.

Sean had a three day weekend, which is the best kind obviously. His birthday was on Friday so we spent the day doing whatever he wanted. It turns out that what he wanted to do was buy a lot of mulch and take the kids to the park. He's very easy to please. We grilled some burgers and I made a huge batch of chocolate cupcakes (and bought an ice cream cake, just to be thorough). It was a pretty fun but quiet day which is how he wanted it. He's not much of a birthday person (which I struggle to understand because I like to be the BIRTHDAY QUEEN).

Saturday was the annual community day in our town so that was a lot of fun. We went down to the parade with Sean's dad and sister and the kids went bonkers. The parade it self is small and mostly just local groups but there are always firetrucks and Rory was just beside himself with excitement over all the trucks. Even Aiden was impressed, and of course, there was all the candy. We spent the afternoon doing yard work (with all of the Birthday Mulch) and then Aiden went to the fireworks in the evening.

Sunday was spent outside finishing some projects and playing with the kids. We pulled out the water table and there was actual harmony between all three kids as they played and soaked themselves.  Moments like that give me hope that this summer might be filled with fun and happy memories and not just one long heat induced scream fest. It's a good omen.


Best seat in the house




Blowing kisses to the peasants from her carriage




Water table!!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Party People in the House

Today is this guy's birthday.






He is one of the hardest working people I know. He has no problem putting his head down and powering through the hardest parts of life with nary a complaint. On the flip side he is also one of the most happy-go-lucky people I know.  Nothing is impossible to him. Everything will be okay. There is a joke and a silver lining just waiting to be found.

I have a tendency to be a defeatist. I can always tell you six hundred ways it which things will not work out. On one hand, I am always prepared for anything. My purse has a first aid kit, snacks, extra sweaters and a flashlight. But on the other, it can be a grim way to go through life, always expecting the worst and trying to constantly predict how things will go wrong.

Since meeting Sean my life has been turned upside down in the best way possible. It was like I had been looking at my future as if I was on a very specific road and he came along and unfolded the rest of the map. You could take that route or you could go here, or here, or over there. The possibilities suddenly seem endless.

It is so wonderful to have him as a partner. There is nothing so freeing as having someone who will listen to your crazy plans, your wildest dreams, and say "we can do that".

So today we're going to have cake, and burgers and ice cream and we're going to chase babies around the yard and decide what the next adventure will be.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

3 Things: Utter Nonsense Edition

I fully admit that I am a news addict. I am constantly checking the New York Times and we have NPR on the radio every morning (that sounds weird. Are we the only people who still listen to the radio? From actual radio waves and not on the internet? Maybe yes?). Anyway, today is one of those days where I feel like it's just leaping from one tragedy to the next and, not to minimize these events, I could really use a distraction. If you too could use a distraction then come with me and I will take you down a rabbit hole of inane things that have kept us entertained this week.

Reading:
InStyle. Oh, this is pretty embarrassing. I'm an avid reader, sometimes one book at a time and sometimes five at a go, but I am always reading something. Except this week apparently! In my defense, I have a huge stack of books on my nightstand that I intend to tackle rightquick. However, Sean is about to have his work hours ramp up so I'm trying to save some stuff for the nights and evenings when he's gone.
In the meantime I've been reading InStyle. I received a free subscription (because I'm not spending our own dollars on it) and I think it might be tied with Vogue for my favorite fashion magazine. If Vogue is a Picasso then InStyle would be an in-depth guide to cubism. Vogue shows you the fashion and InStyle explains how to actually wear it. The photography and styling in Vogue is not to be beat, but I like that InStyle doesn't try to be anything other than a fashion rag. I would go to a far more legitimate source for news and I appreciate that they get this and stick to explaining how to make marsala lipstick work instead.
Okay,  I promise I'll have a real book next time.


Watching:


 Drunk History. We (accidentally) renewed our Amazon Prime account. I was considering cancelling it because it went from $79 to $99 and I really only use it for the free shipping at Christmas. I..uh...forgot to cancel it and it renewed and I was a little angry until I realized that I now have access to Prime Music, which has an amazing library of music you can stream on your phone, and Prime movies and shows. It's not as easy to use as Netflix but it's got a solid selection of shows, and this is how we stumbled across Drunk History (which is normally on Comedy Central but we're weird cord cutters who don't do cable).
It is literally drunk people recounting historical events. Sean doesn't find it nearly as funny as I do but I love it.  It's chock full of famous people acting out the historical scenes and it has me laughing/crying every time. I will say that there is salty language and occasional vomiting, and yet, none of that bothers me in the least.
Not on television, but in the same vein (minus the vomiting) is The Adventure of George  Washington. These are just historical paintings that people have captioned but, again, SO FUNNY. Unless you're Sean who doesn't get it.






Listening:
 "Go Go Go" by Panic is Perfect. For the past week Sean has been going on about this amazing new song that starts off in French but switches to English and is AMAZING and FANTASTIC and [insert superlative here]. I finally figured out what song he was talking about and it is in fact pretty awesome. The only caveat, to me at least, is that the lyrics are kind of meh. Sean likes another band called Phoenix, and they are French but sing in English and their songs are also gibberish. It drives me crazy when you're bopping your head want to sing along but IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. Panic is Perfect is apparently from San Fransisco so they have no excuse. I like musicians to use their grown up words and tell me exactly what's going on. Did you break up? Are you happy? What is going on here?! Anyway, I can get past the nonsensical lyrics and enjoy the music, which Sean tells me is really the point of music.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cute Chicks Here

I'm just wondering how many people will be disappointed by that title.


Aiden's first grade class has been taking care of a brood of chicks. They hatched over the weekend, except for one who came partway out of his shell and fell asleep for a day or so (that chick is Sean's spirit animal). By Monday they were all fully out in the world.

It has been so adorable to hear Aiden talk about all the important things they do to take care of the chicks: "They're not in an incubator, they're in a brooder now Mom! You must be careful not to move the table and scare them! They all run over to me when I visit them! They must think I'm they're dad!"

Guys, it's just SO CUTE. He told us all about having to clean and feed them and about helping the poor chick who trips and gets it's beak stuck in the wire floor all the time (that chick is my spirit animal). He has such a strong paternal instinct that he even gets annoyed with his classmates who don't take raising chicks seriously enough.

"We have to be careful because they are so small! They rely on us for their food and someone needs to be here even on the weekend! You can't take a weekend off because they are living creatures!"

It's like he's wise beyond his years. I love seeing this caring, sweet side of him.  He told me even got to name three of them.

"They're called Darth Vader, Car and Strawberry"

Yeah...he's definitely seven.

Poor Car over there on the left. We've all had those days.





Monday, May 11, 2015

Weekend Recap: We Survived Mother's Day

This weekend was jam packed with fun and excitement. Too much excitement. After what seemed like the longest week in the history of weeks, we were all ready to let loose. On Saturday we took all three kids for a long trek around the neighborhood to give Aiden a chance to get out on his bike. We spent the rest of the day relaxing (as much as one can with three kids) and ended up putting the littlest ones to bed early. My friend Kelyn came to stay with them and get Aiden in bed so that we could attend our neighbor's 40th birthday party. I was able to wear high heels, dangly earrings and enjoy two whole glasses of wine so that constitutes a smashing success.
Sunday was, of course, Mother's Day. All week Aiden has been fretting about getting the perfect gift for me which was adorable and so sweet.  Sean made me breakfast that morning and Aiden showed me the little gemstone tree he picked out for me and I read all 487 cards he drew. Very lovely.
I decided that Aiden and I should have some special mother-son bonding time. I spend so much of the day chasing the little ones that it can feel like he only gets a sliver of my attention some days. I decided to take him out for a hike on a local trail. This trail is meant to be more of a glorified walk in the woods than any kind of difficult trek. Despite it being 85 degrees and humid I insisted we wear pants because we have a huge deer tick population in the area and Lyme disease is something I'd prefer to avoid. I even used the real, chemical filled bug spray instead of the crunchy, essential oil stuff I usually put on the kids.
We started our hike and I noticed there were people everywhere, the trail was filled with moms, dads, toddlers and grandmas. It was nice to see everyone out and despite the amount of people it was still very calm and quiet. I did notice that we were the only people in pants. Apparently no one else cares about deer ticks like I do. We followed the trail up through the woods and along a stream and it was gorgeous and peaceful and I just knew Aiden and I were going to have a really special afternoon together, hopefully one we'd remember for awhile.
We had gone through what seemed like the entire trail loop (and a solid forty minutes of brisk hiking up and down slopes) when we came to a sign that pointed to the left AND right with the sign to the parking lot pointing off into nowhere. What the heck kind of Alice In Wonderland crap were they pulling? We headed left and kept going. By now no one else was around. All the babies and grandmas and guys with puppies were gone. Just us. It was sweltering and Aiden was convinced we were lost (we weren't lost, we were right on the trail, I just had no idea how to get OFF the trail). We were both sweating so profusely by then that our pants had become plastered to our legs so firmly it was almost hard to bend our knees.
 We were dripping with sweat, he was panicked, I was grumpy and for some inexplicable reason the farther down the trail we went, the faster we went so we were practically running through the forest sniping at each other when Aiden tripped and fell. He sat up and out from a pile of leaves slithered a snake. Boom, Aiden was up and booking it down the trail screaming bloody murder. I ran off after him trying to assure him it wasn't poisonous (it was all of about 10 inches long) and I when I caught up to him he was crying. Turns out he was over the fright from the snake and instead had a gnat in his eye. Then it started to thunder but OF COURSE.
We stood there panting, dripping with sweat, he was crying and convinced we were lost, about to be poisoned by snakes and devoured by flies.  Up the trail strolls my dentist and his family, all looking fresh as daisies. I stood there nearly drowning in my own sweat, trying to assure him Aiden was totally fine and it was just a fly, all while gasping for breath. Turns out we were on the right track and headed towards the parking lot.
We ran the rest of the way back to the car, despite part of it being up an incredibly steep slope. Needless to say, I don't think he'll ever forget this Mother's Day. We survived and he slept like a rock last night.
Despite my misguided attempts at bonding, it was a great day, and I was so happy to be surrounded by my amazing family. I am so lucky to have these kids, and I swear to never take them hiking again. 









Friday, May 8, 2015

The Books That Made A Reader



This week Aiden had to sit through various tests at school, some on math and some on reading. I knew he would have no problem on the math test but I was a little worried about the reading one. Up until this point, Aiden has been a reluctant reader. The joy and sheer love of reading that came naturally to me as a kid has not come as naturally to him. We have always read to him, and we've always encouraged him to read to himself but up until now it's been a challenge for him to tackle new books. That inherent challenge is what prevented him from seeing reading as a pleasure as opposed to seeing it as an assignment that required work.

He came home from school and I tentatively asked how it all went. He smiled and assured me it was fine, he felt like he knew it all and wasn't at all nervous. That was good to hear. His teacher sent home the sheet saying he had finished the required lists of words each first grader is expected to know. That was even better to hear. The best, however, was when we got to the library yesterday and instead of zooming towards the picture books and handing me a stack to read, he said "I'm going to go find some books to read by myself". It was like fireworks going off. Houston, we have a reader!

I don't know exactly what tipped him over the edge from reluctantly cracking open the nightly assigned reading to actually looking forward to finding his own special books to read,  but I do know we've put in a lot of work this year. He spent each evening trying his hardest and we did our best to find interesting books that were at his level. We finally found a few different choices of books that seemed to keep him engaged. These are the ones I'm buying extra copies of to give to Rory:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

The first books he was really able to read himself were Dr. Seuss. These are a classic for a reason and something about ridiculous tongue twisters just clicks with kids. I won't lie, I think that letting him seeing Sean and I trip over some of the rhymes ourselves showed him that it's okay to make mistakes.

Frog and Toad 

 I actually hated these books as a kid, but Aiden really enjoys him. The dynamic between the two characters is really sweet and I find I like them much more now as an adult. The story where Toad loses his list is pretty much me in a nutshell. And who can't relate to this one:
 


Pete the Cat

I had no idea who Pete the Cat was until Aiden's teacher dressed up as Pete for Halloween. We found an easy reader series about him for Aiden's birthday. Turns out that Pete is a cool cat. He 's very laid back and manages his way out of all sorts of jams like having everyone tell you what to wear or everyone asking you to draw them pictures (basically, seven year old problems). Aiden loved his oddball friends and relatives and found them extremely funny.  

Non-Fiction

Aiden loves nonfiction. He would much rather  have us read him a description of how combustion engines work than a story about a magical creature. I don't think he's the only kid out there who has five jillion questions about the world and enjoys science. So why is it so hard to find easy to read books about nonfiction topics? We ended up stumbling across a whole series at the library (go libraries!). It's the Scholastic "Rookie" books, and there's a set on geography and animals that we've found so far. These seem to have made the most difference, since it's obviously going to be easier to get a kid to read when the subject matter is something they're actually interested in.


Knowing that Aiden has turned that corner and become a full fledged reader is so exciting. I can't wait to spend the summer finding more books to share with him. These are the books that we will look back  on and say "Remember when you learned to read? Can you believe there was a time when you couldn't do that?" For me, that book was Little Bear, and for him it's Pete, Frog and Toad and a whole world of science. 
 
Uh, nice try Buddy.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fresh, Clean and Green: My Favorite Scents

I have never been a perfume person. I know people who collect all sorts of scents, and have special perfume they wear to parties or different perfumes for different seasons. That is just not me. I have several bottles, and I would wear some occasionally and decided the constant, in your face scent bugged me. None of them smelled like "me", all of them were too heavy and some would even give me a headache after a few hours.

Finally I stumbled across a perfume that wasn't simply inoffensive but was downright delicious. Not too strong, not too heavy, just perfect and subtle. I looked up the various notes in the perfume and have since used that as a guide to find other scents I like.

I have found that I really prefer lighter scents. Typically, anything labeled "fresh", "floral" or "green" is my sweet spot. These are scents that I would wear year round, but many people prefer these as summer scents since they're so light and won't overwhelm you in the heat.  If you're someone who swears they don't like perfume or just finds most scents to be too heavy, give these a try:

Folle de Joie by Joie
This is my absolute favorite perfume in the entire world. It's my everyday, all the time perfume. It's described as citrusy, floral and woody. To me, it smells like a sunny day, a little hint of orange and rose but not too astringent or overwhelming. It's very light and some people might not like that it fades after a few hours but I prefer to simply reapply than have something too strong. Also, the name means "crazy happy" and I think we can all agree that's a good feeling.

Bianca by Tocca
Tocca is an Italian line and describe this perfume as "tea time in Italy". It's a pretty apt description as this is another scent with light citrus notes (lemon this time), with green tea, rose and jasmine. The green tea scent is what sold it for me, I love that scent especially combined with the rose. Another very summery smell, clearly I have a thing for summery smells, that I find to be quite unusual. The bottle for this perfume looks like a tiny crystal decanter, so it will also look nice on your vanity.

Chloe by Chloe
This scent is a little more mature than the other two. It has notes of peony, freesia, jasmine and amber. It's floral but fresh and has almost a powdery scent beneath the floral. It lasts quite long but is not overpowering. It's both subtle and classic. This would be a good perfume for someone who wants a signature scent that's a little more restrained. It feels very clean and fresh, and who doesn't want to be clean and fresh?

Parfum D'Extase by Marchesa
So the creators say that this perfume is meant to embody elegance and glamour, and I'm not sure that anyone would ever describe me as elegant or glamourous but I still like this one. Some of the notes are iris, freesia, Jasmine and musk. Like the Chloe perfume, it's more mature although it's still sweet and floral. Imagine an energetic walk through a garden.


All of these are perfumes that are pretty but subtle, not your typical heavy and over the top fragrances. I'm glad that I finally figured out what types of scents work for me because it's nice to have a go-to scent on those days where you need a little something to make you feel special. I may be in yoga pants and only venturing out to the grocery store but at least I smell like a fresh summer day. 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

3 Things: Mental Vacation Edition

The weather is still unseasonably warm over here and it feels like vacation is just around the corner when in reality Aiden has over a month left of school. That's just....inconvenient.  He has testing for most of the week and a field trip smack in the middle, with various other activities and projects happening also. With everything going on right now it's not a great time to mentally check out so I'm really trying to keep my game face on...but I'll be honest, it's hard. I mean, come on, it was even Cinco de Mayo this week! I call for everyone to put down the number 2 pencils and pick up tacos. And maybe a margarita. 

                         
               
                                                       My brain the past five days

Here's what we've been into this week.

Reading:

I'm finishing up The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. I started reading this book, I kid you not, three year ago. Yeah. It creeped me out so bad that I had to hide it behind all the other books on my night stand. It's not even what I'd consider a typical horror book, no guns or knives or anything of that nature. Just a creepy tale of a mysterious old castle and the odd elderly sisters who live there. I am a really huge chicken so you may not find this as goose bump inducing as I did but it's still quite good.

Watching: 
 We've been watching this clip from Last Week Tonight all about standardized testing. When Common Core was first introduced, and everyone was losing their heads over it, I kept reading about the overarching goals of the program and it seemed like a good idea. I get the whole concept. Now that I have a child in school I also see how monumentally awful the implementation has been. There is frustration and confusion all around. Students hate it, teachers hate it and I am certainly not a big fan. I still think we need to hold students to a higher standard if we want to compete globally, but that means the objectives need to be clear and there needs to be a clear cut way to achieve them. That's the part that's lacking. We can tell students they're not measuring up but how do we help them move ahead? Anyway, John Oliver manages to make the whole thing a little more entertaining: John Oliver on Standardized tests.

Listening: 
My best friend texted me a song by Brandon Flowers and it was really good. Brandon Flowers is the lead singer from The Killers, and Sean and I love The Killers. We listened to them a lot when we were first dating and their album Sam's Town was on repeat while I was pregnant with Aiden. I went going back and was listening to some of their music when I came across a whole slew of songs I'd never heard. I realize they were released in 2012 and, well, that whole year is a blur so that may be why I don't remember them. I really liked "Shot At The Night" so here that is:
 



Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Toddler Dictionary

Are you kidding me? You thought yes meant yes?

Toddlers can be hard to understand. Frequently, they don't even understand themselves. They can talk, they have words, but what do these words mean? Usually not what you think they do. Here are some translations that might help you avoid misunderstandings in your next conversation with a pint sized person.

They say: "Up/ Down, On/Off, In/Out"

They mean:  The exact opposite. Opposites are hard and toddlers frequently mix them up which leads to them being led indoors (usually screaming) when they thought they had clearly stated they wanted to stay out in the yard. However, this is only true until they learn the correct meaning, in which case they mean what they say. It's your job to figure out which. Shouldn't be too confusing right?


They say: "You do it"

They mean: "I know how to do this and it's such a simple task that I no longer care to do it for myself. I'd rather you stop all the boring stuff you're doing and help me with this ridiculously easy thing because it's good for your character"


They say: "I do it"

They mean: "I am not physically capable of completing this task but I have every intention of making you stand there for twenty minutes while I try to lift this 40 pound box. I'll be crying in frustration all the while but that's nothing compared to the thunderous fury I'll unleash if you dare try and help"


They say: "I have to go potty"

They mean: 30% of the time - "I have to use the bathroom"
                    70% of the time - "I want some M&M's and you suckers give them out whenever I pee"


They say: "yes"

They mean: "I have no idea what you're talking about but it might involve cookies. Why don't you just go ahead and I'll let you know if I've changed my mind by throwing myself on the floor and wailing"


They say: "no"

They mean: "No" or "yes" or "I haven't decided" or "I don't really care which and this conversation is boring". Good luck.


They say: Nothing at all, they're calm and content.

They mean: They're asleep. Back away slowly.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Weekend Recap: From Winter to Summer in Under a Week

This weekend felt like summer! The weather was in the upper 70's, the kids ran around in shorts and we spent almost every waking moment outside. Saturday we went to the park and then came home and started on some house projects. Let me tell you, when I found out how warm it was going to be all weekend I was so excited to finally wear some sun dresses and skirts but I ended up in painting clothes instead. Such is life. Also, I was explaining to Sean how I was wearing sweaters last week and shorts this week and have completely skipped over my Spring clothes. It's a good thing Fall is so nice around here because Spring doesn't exist.

We were able to tackle so much this weekend: we got a lot of yard work done, painted the front entrance to the house, took the kids to the park and for approximately five hundred walks and finished all the boring stuff like laundry and grocery shopping. Yet Sunday afternoon rolled around and I started to hyperventilate about all the things we hadn't done. Sean was staring at me like I was crazy because some of the things we'd done were projects that had been on the back burner for years.  This happens every time the weather gets warm: I get excited about all the fun and relaxing things we can do and also attempt to finish ALL THE PROJECTS! This never ends well. Hopefully, since it's only the first weekend in May I can nip this craziness in the bud and slow it down a little.


 
Fairy girl

 
 It was in the mid 70's and he'd rather get heat stroke than listen to me.

In the playhouse

Marbles and matching

They feel the need, the need for speed!

Talk to me Goose!



Princess Audrey ready to meet Princess Charlotte*

*Aiden thought Princesses were made up, like Dragons. He was absolutely floored to find out they're real. I remember feeling the same way when my Dad explained who Princess Diana was. Now we're just waiting to find out that wizards and Hogwarts are real.