Friday, September 30, 2016

Friday Favorites...



Happy Friday Everyone! It's homecoming in this neck of the woods & it is going to be a very crazy 48 hours for me - but I love it so I can't complain! I'll be sure to share a recap of all the festivities on Monday, but for today I want to share some of my favorites with you all! 

- one - 

Right before Disney, I picked up a leave in conditioner for my hair at the salon. I knew my hair would take a beating in the Florida sun & didn't want the color to fade as soon as I got it done. So, my stylist recommended Paul Mitchel Curls Leave In Conditioner & I am obsessed. The whole trip, I'd shower then put my hair in a braid or let it air dry. The conditioner protected my hair & made it smell amazing! Back in the real world, I still use it a few days a week - showering at night & letting my hair airy dry as I sleep. 

Paul Mitchell Curls Full Circle Leave In Treatment for Unisex, 6.8 Ounce

- two - 

Apple Pie Fritters are back at Tim Horton's & I may gain 20 pounds by Thanksgiving. They're just so good. 

- three -

I have binge watched the first season of Quantico in the past week. Eric keeps coming upstairs for bed at night & finding me still wide awake freaking out over Alex Parish. Last night, I finally finished season one & OMG. I couldn't believe it! And now I'm watching Season 2, which just started again on Sunday. Can't wait to find out what happens next! 

Image result for quantico

- four - 

I have been searching for an affordable pair of cognac booties for quite some time now & my prayers were finally answered by Target! They're from the DV collection - which is an affordable line by Dolce Vita just for Target. I wore them to my friends' wedding with a dress last weekend & my feet felt amazing. So comfy! I've worn them with jeans & dress plants for work a few times too & they're awesome! 



- five - 

My last favorite for the week is Ella's duck boots! My mom snagged these with her GapCash and they're too adorable! It's supposed to be raining & chilly for our parade tomorrow, so you can bet that she'll be rocking these all day! 



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What's Up Wednesday

What? What?! I've posted three days in a row for the first time in forever! That's a sure sign that we're settling back into our school year routine! I'm finally starting to feel comfortable in my new role at a new school, Eric & I have finally figured out a pick up/drop off schedule that works for us, and I feel like I can breathe after drowning for weeks. I'm so thankful for all of the help and prayers that have been extended to me these past few weeks. I was living off kindness for a few days, so thank you! We have a lot to catch up on, and I couldn't think of a better way than with What's Up Wednesday! 



WhatsUpWedUpdated

What We're Eating This Week...


We are all about simple school night meals at our house. I shared one of my favorites a few weeks ago & we'll be eating it again this week. I'm a huge fan of fresh mozzarella, and this new Ragu Homestyle sauce is amazing! It reminds me of my Grandpa Bill's sauce that I grew up on! 




What I'm Reminiscing About...


Fall is one of my favorite seasons because we spend so much time together as a family! It has me thinking back to pumpkin picking with my little loves last year. I'm trying to find a time to go to the Pumpkin Fiesta again this year, but can't seem to find a date that works. We're definitely going to hit up Stokoe Farms again though because as much as Ella loved it last year, I think she'll be the perfect age for it this year !





What I'm Loving...


It's almost embarrassing how much I love my mini-van. We were at a wedding this weekend & we piled all of our friends in it to make the drive from the ceremony to the reception. I was thinking to myself as Eric was driving, "what did we ever do without our van?" That sentiment is echoed over & over throughout my week as I load up supplies for cheer, haul our groceries, or pack in extra passengers. You can call me a soccer mom if you want, I don't care, I love my mini-van. 





What We've Been Up To...


This past weekend, Eric & I celebrated the wedding of two of our very good friends. They've been together almost as long as we have, so to see them finally get married was very exciting! 



with some of my girls before the reception
And while we were at the wedding, my parents came to watch the girls for us! Gramps looks pretty comfy with his girls :) 



What I'm Dreading...


Eric is going to be traveling for a week in October, November, and December. It's open enrollment season & he works in insurance, so it's inevitable. It will be really challenging though, as my sister is due with my niece in December too & I know I'll be stretched thin with my normal extra help out of commission. I'm secretly hoping my dad will come up to help in November so that I don't lose my mind, but he hasn't actually offered yet. If October's trip is as hectic as Septembers was, I'll just have to swallow my pride & flat out ask him. 


What I'm Working On...


I am currently planning two big events. The first is our homecoming float for this year! We decided on a Toy Story theme & it has been really fun to plan it with my team. I can't wait to see it all come together! 


The second event I'm planning is my sister's baby shower! I cannot wait to welcome Baby MJ & I have been working tirelessly with my mom to plan Britt's shower. We have our venue all set and rough plans have been made/pinned - we have a lot to finalize in the next month though! 


What I'm Excited About...


We're pretty excited about a few things at our house...


  1. It's fall! 
  2. We get to pick out Halloween costumes! 
  3. Baby MJ will be here soon! (Sidenote - the baby's name isn't MJ. It's just what we've called the baby from the get-go when we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. It's short for Matt Jr. after my brother in law, but we know it's a girl now & we still refer to her as MJ.) 


What I'm Reading...


This past month I read "Roommates" by Erin Leigh & Tara Brown. It was a quick read & I really liked it. It's definitely of the romance genre, and a little racy at times, but it was nice to unwind with after a few busy days. 


I'm currently reading "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio with my class & I think every child should read it. The storyline is about a boy who was born with a facial deformity & how he copes with going to school for the first time at age 11. It's an incredibly powerful glimpse into how tough little kids have to be sometimes. Even as an adult, it is an excellent reminder that even the briefest stare can make someone uncomfortable, so choose to be kind. 


What I'm Watching...


So, I started Quantico months ago but got sidetracked & never caught up. Now, I'm bingeing on it while I'm planning in the evenings. It's so suspenseful & thankfully it's filling the void left by Scandal - which isn't premiering until mid-season this year! The new season started last night, and hopefully I'll be caught up soon! 


What I'm Wearing...


The weather has been really indecisive around here lately. One day it's 85 & sunny. The next it is 60 & raining. For that reason, I've been dressing in layers. This is a snap of my outfit Monday...





I'm wearing my new BP tunic, but with shorts because it was 78 in the afternoon. I do love that this tunic is lightweight, so it's been a great transition piece. And for the record, I wore a blanket scarf with this outfit on my way to work while it was still 55 outside. 


And then yesterday was a high of 62, so this is what I wore...




Ok, that picture quality is even worse than normal. Sorry! I wore my navy JCrew Pixie Pants with an older Loft blouse & my new favorite booties from Target. 
What I'm Doing This Weekend...


This weekend is homecoming at SHS! I'm super excited to decorate our float & cheer for the game. Homecoming has always been my favorite week of the school year. We don't really celebrate it here at the elementary schools though, so I've been living vicariously through the snaps & IG's of my colleagues. All the more reason to be excited for the weekend though! 





What I'm Looking Forward to Next Month...


October is a BUSY month for us! I'm looking forward to a long weekend at the country house with my family. I'm looking forward to a trip to Stokoe Farms with the girls. I'm looking forward to decorating the house and trick or treating. I'm really excited about having a Halloween party with my students this year too! 


What Else Is New...


I don't know if I've officially told everyone this on the blog, but Livy started walking at the end of August, about two weeks after we got back from Disney. She is a wild woman now. She climbs up things, runs out doors, there is no containing her! That's made life at practice pretty entertaining for everyone - and stressful for me. I assumed that Ella was this way & I'd just blocked it out, but after talking to some of my cheerleaders that were with me when Ella was that age, they assured me that Livy is going to be my wild child. I'm in for it! 


*This post does contain a sponsored links. If you click through those links, I will receive a small commission.**

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Family Photos at Eastman House Gardens


It feels like forever ago, maybe because it was the beginning of August & summer feels like a dream that slipped away, but I finally had professional photos done of the girls together! I have had my very best friend take family portraits last year, and my sister took six month photos that I love, but neither of them would classify themselves as a professional. So as Livy turned one, I knew it was time to have some true professional photos done of the girls. 


Our photos were done by SBurrit Photography and I cannot say enough amazing things about her. She is a teacher by day, photographer by weekend, but she does phenomenal work. As a teacher, I love supporting other teachers! She did such a wonderful job capturing each of the girls' personality, despite the fact that it was 90 degrees at 8 am & I wouldn't exactly classify their attitudes as ideal. 


Olivia wasn't walking yet when we had these photos, and now she's going full speed at all times, so to look back at her tentatively standing against objects makes me smile. They grow up so fast and I know that I'll cherish this snapshot of our lives for years to come. 



As far as location goes, we faced a challenge in that our city had a serious drought on our hands by early August. I wanted crisp green gardens for the photos, so we decided on one of the few green spaces the city had to offer - Eastman House Gardens. The gardens remind me of Alice in Wonderland - a giant tea party, English garden. I just loved the stonework too. 






I cannot say enough wonderful things about the Eastman House & their grounds crew. They were so very thoughtful & welcoming. We were there before the museum opened, so the staff was buzzing about the property. They stayed out of our way though, and the man I had talked to about using the gardens the day before even stopped over to say hello. If you're looking for a place for family photos, senior photos, or engagement photos in Rochester - this should be at the top of your list! 



We took the rest of our photos in the side gardens & along the entry way that is covered in ivy. I think that Livy looks like a little fairy in these photos! 




If I had to pick two pictures that completely captured their personalities at one and four, the ones above & below this would win. Olivia is completely devious. She's my daredevil, always on the go, always looking for something to do that she's probably not supposed to. And my Ella? She's so incredibly curious. She loves pretty things. She wants to be a princess, and this fountain reminded her of being back at Disney. 



Sunday, September 25, 2016

Healthy Snacks on the Go for Miss Livy

Miss Liv helping herself to a snack at practice Friday afternoon! 

As you all know, we live our life on the go! Whether we're at the gym, the playground, shopping, or in the car - we go nonstop. For that reason, I'm always looking for snacks that are a) portable & b) healthy. That's why I'm so excited about Gerber's new product - Lil' Beanies


Miss Ella picking out snacks for her sister at Target!
The first bean-based snack in the baby aisle, Gerber Lil’ Beanies are made out of navy beans! Each serving is packed with protein, fiber, and Vitamin E! They come in two flavors & have been a huge hit with Livy - who doesn't even notice the difference between these & other not so healthy snacks. It's a #GerberWinWin - Livy is happy & my life is easier. 


My two girls snacking together at practice!
Right now, your life can be easier too - and at a discounted price! Ibotta is offering $.75 back on every qualifying purchase of Lil' Beanies at Target! Be sure to stock up on this great deal!




Monday, September 19, 2016

Disney 2016 - Day 3

The third day of our trip was all about Animal Kingdom! Now, I feel like Animal Kingdom is a polarizing park. People tend to either love it or hate it. Personally, I love it. But after being there with my kids, I can see why it isn't most family's first choice. There just weren't enough kiddie rides & princesses to compete with the Magic Kingdom or Epcot. 

The one thing that Animal Kingdom does have going for kids is the Wilderness Explorers program from Up! There are tons of stations throughout the park & you can earn badges throughout the day. Ella was pretty little for this still, but I saw a lot of elementary age kids that were loving it. The guidebook they gave her was pretty informative too. The picture below is of her taking her oath :) 


Animal Kingdom was HOT - probably the hottest of all the parks we visited. The reason for this is that it's built into a bowl so that it traps the heat & keeps the temperature suitable for the animals that live there year round. We were really sweaty though!


Our favorite ride of the day was the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. We did it once when we arrived at the park & then again at night after we'd come back for dinner. I loved it both times & we heard some different information each time.


Livy was pretty interested in the animals and Ella was REALLY interested in the animals. She knew tons of the lesser known savanna animals because of the Lion Guard and I really enjoyed listening to her explain what an Okapi is to my dad :)


Since it was so hot, we did a pretty long afternoon swim & break this day. Livy loved being in the baby pool with her Aunt Britt. She was able to walk around and play with her toys without anyone bothering her. They also had a toddler pool party at the larger pool & Ella loved that! One day the theme was Disney Junior & she was SO into it.


After our swim break, we headed back to Animal Kingdom with my parents for a bit while Britt & Matt went to Disney Springs. I think they needed a break from us :)


We had dinner at Restaurant-o-saurus and then the adults took turns riding Mt. Everest again. We spent a little time at Dino-land where Ella rode the Triceratop Spin, and then rode the safari again. At that point, we contemplated staying for the Jungle Book show, but it was already a mob scene and we were exhausted. We decided to just call it a night - so we grabbed another dose of Starbucks & headed for the buses!


And in case you missed it...

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Little Bits for My Little Liv



One of the biggest challenges I've faced since starting Olivia on solids, is the balance between nutricious food & being on the go all of the time. While I can obviously pack fresh fruits & veggies most of the time - that takes a lot of preparation - which I'm honestly not always good at! #insertmonkeywithhandsovereyesemoji I found myself missing the ease of baby food, and then I discovered Gerber Little Bits!

Gerber now has 3rd stage foods that are a traditional baby food puree with little bits of actual food thrown in. So if you're child is like mine & doesn't really do "traditional"baby food anymore, these might just be what you've been looking for!



We stock up on our Lil' Bits at Target, because not only do they have a huge variety of flavors, they also have great deals too. Like right now, you can save an additional 5% off with the Cartwheel app!


Livy's favorite flavors are Broccoli Carrot & Cheddar Cheese - which reminds me of Panera Cheddar Broccoli Soup - Butternut Squash & Potato, and Apple Blueberry! We keep them on hand so that whenever we're away from home, we can toss them in the diaper bag and feed her a healthy dinner that we know she'll enjoy! We're also working towards Olivia using a spoon independently, so these are great foods for her to practice with!

Lately we've been pairing the Broccoli Carrot & Cheddar Cheese with Orzo pasta for a dinner that she absolutely loves and is totally healthy for her! She is able to use a spoon to feed it to herself, and as I mentioned before, it's very similar to a broccoli cheddar soup with whole grain pasta mixed in for additional nutrients!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Favorites

Week two of school (aka our first full week) is officially in the books & I am thrilled to say that it went leaps & bounds better than the first! That probably was in large part due to the fact that Eric was home to help out and I wasn't running around with a cast on my hand. I don't want to get my hopes up that this is an official blogging comeback, but I do want to share some Friday Favorites with Andrea, Erika & Narci



Last weekend we had a HUGE benefit to raise money for my neice Ophelia & sister in law Kari, who were both recently diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension. The benefit was absolutely amazing & I was overwhelmed by the generosity of our community. We had over 250 raffles consisting of baskets, big ticket items, and gift cards - plus a 50/50 raffle, a bake sale, and concessions. I'm not sure of the exact total that we raised, but I know that it was over $5,000 and every cent of that will go towards the medical care that these sweet girls need to stay healthy. I can't imagine our lives without Aunt Kari & Ophelia, so please continue to keep them in your prayers! 

While at the benefit, I put in a ton of tickets for baskets - but didn't win anything! My brother in law Kevin did though.... a Coach purse! He is the ultimate bachelor & I'm positive his younger sisters put his tickets in that bag. They wanted the gift certificates inside though, so I got to keep the purse for myself! It's absolutely beautiful & the perfect gray/tan for fall...




A huge favorite of mine has been watching Ella go to school every day. She is loving it & I feel so at peace knowing that we made the right decision. I remember telling my best friend Jackquelyn last spring that this program was an answer to prayer - and I truly believe that. I can't wait to see how much she grows this year! 

her horrible fake smile..
My next favorite is actually a huge one. We got a minivan! Now I know some of you just shuddered as you read that sentence, but with a lifestyle like ours, a van is essential. We do so much traveling to see our family and we just couldn't fit everything in our mid-sized SUV this summer. So, we went out and bought ourselves a Kia Sedona. I totally love it & so do the kids. Even our friends who pick on us for having a minivan can't help but admit that it's extremely convenient! 


And as crazy as life has been, I have to acknowledge that this group of girls will always be my favorites. They have been insanely supportive of my new job and have done everything that they can to help me out! I'm so lucky to have a team as amazing as them! 



And my last favorite - my sister. I would never have made it through back to school without her. She's been picking up Ella for me a few days a week and it has been such a huge help. She went with us to go get groceries and run errands last Saturday and was sitting between the girls in back (we have 8 seats, so the middle row seats 3). Ella leaned over and asked me to take  a picture of her and Aunt Britt :)


That's all for now! Thanks for hanging in there during my dry spell. I'll try to get caught up soon! 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Back to School Chaos

Back to school is always hectic for a teacher, but this year has taken it to a whole new level. I'm working at a different school, in a different grade level, with totally different hours. Ella started Pre-K & Livy still goes to Miss Jennie's every day. I'm in a carpool with friends & ended up on duty this week because Eric is out of town for work. I'm still coaching & had practice every day. It was seriously the perfect storm.




Thankfully, Ragu came to the rescue for dinner! Otherwise, my kids would have been eating drive thru every night & I'd have been eating Easy Mac for lunch every day. #notthattheresanythingwrongwiththat #nojudgmementhere

Ragu's new line of Homestyle Pasta Sauces are simmered in traditions that go back as far as back to school. They truly taste like my in-law's homemade sauce & I can definitely taste a touch of basil, oregano & fennel in each bite. I personally love the Thick & Hearty Meat Sauce flavor, but my husband prefers the Thick & Hearty Mushroom Sauce for something different!




Since it was just the kids & I at home this week, we used some store bought cheese tortellini, our Ragu Thick & Hearty Meat Sauce, homemade meatballs courtesy of my father in law and fresh mozzarella to create one delicious meal! I precooked the tortellini, heated the sauce, stirred everything, then topped it with slices of fresh mozzarella. Once it was thrown together, I baked it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 in our favorite skillet. It would be just as yummy if you didn't have meatballs though because the meat sauce flavor is excellent!



Be sure to check out their website to learn more about the new line of Ragu Homestyle sauces and find a taste of home! They have tons of recipes that are far more exciting than the one I threw together :)


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