two babies at the beach.

We took the boys to the beach a couple weeks ago and snapped some fun pictures of Ben’s first trip to the ocean. (Charlie’s 1 millionth trip) Ben slept the whole time in my handy ring sling, and in newborn life – that’s considered a success. Charlie on the other hand, tried to throw himself into the water, eat sand and wave at everyone he saw. We’re so lucky that we can take weekend trips to the beach in just a five minute car ride!

the friday post – vol. 16

Hi friends! There has never been such a glorious Friday! I feel like the fog of the first phase of newborn life is lifting, and I’m starting to act like a functioning human again. I actually made dinner all week instead of just pulling things out of the freezer (praise Jesus for all those frozen meals that got us here). I’ve started putting Ben down sometimes, and I showered most days! I still feel overwhelmed when both boys are crying for me, Charlie was home sick yesterday, Ben still screams through most car rides and he slept terribly last night, but we are figuring things out! The days are long, but the years are short, right?

I even started running again this week. Whoa. I know. Even I’m impressed with myself. Ok ok, it’s a run/walk. But it still counts. Exercise is exercise. I’ve used the couch to 5k app before to get back into running shape and it worked really well for me. I’m using it again, starting at the very beginning and working my way to 30 minutes of running. The first week it has you run just one minute and walk a minute and a half and then you repeat the cycle to get to 30 minutes. I finished week one and am on to week two tomorrow! Mike and I will run together with the boys in their joggers once on the weekend and then I’m planning to run two nights a week after Charlie goes to bed and after handing off Ben to the sweetest husband in the world. 30 minutes alone on the road! Glorious!!

It’s still feeling an awful lot like summer out there. The air conditioning has been kicking on endlessly, our little mangos are starting to hang heavier on the tree and my flowers on the porch have ended up wilted at the end of every day. Nothing a gallon of water won’t fix though. They perk right back up.

I’ve been spending lots of time outside lately, not just on our weekend excursions and my freckles are out in full force. I usually take Ben on a walk in the morning, we take Charlie outside after we get home from pick up and runs around for an hour (mostly picking up tiny fallen green mangos and throwing them at the tree these days), and then Mike and I will take both boys on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner (usually with a cocktail in hand!).

I did have both boys home with me yesterday. Charlie was a pitiful little thing with some kind of 24 hour bug. He would play a little then lay down on the ground like the world just too much. It was a day filled with lots of pacifiers (he usually only gets them at sleep time) and Sesame Street. He woke up this morning happy as a lark though so I’m just grateful that it was brief. Fingers crossed that I pick him up healthy and happy later this afternoon from daycare. I just want to say though that having two in diapers is a lot of diapers. 😂 It’s a good thing they’re both cute.

We’re having friends over for pizza night tonight, so I’m going to do my best to get this house clean(er) between diapers, nursing and naps. Tomorrow, we’re debating between strawberry picking (my choice) or a polo match (Mike’s). Maybe we’ll get to both! Maybe we’ll get to neither! With two babies, it’s always a matter of everyone’s extremely variable moods. 😂 whatever you’re doing this weekend, I hope you kick up your feet and relax!!

xx, em

blueberry snacking cake for a spring that feels like summer.

img_5267I like to bake something on Sundays. I used to do it religiously during Charlie’s Sunday nap each week. Something that we can munch on for breakfast or after school or when we need a little something to tide us over until the next meal. It just makes me feel good to have a homemade baked good sitting on the island that screams love all week. Muffins, a loaf of bread, cake, granola. Banana bread was on heavy rotation before Ben came along. Charlie loves baked goods as much as I do, thank goodness. Mike’s just not into the breads like we are. I hope I passed on this wonderful love to Ben too.

My Sunday baking routine has been a little bit rocked by Ben’s arrival though (as have many other things hehe) so we’ve been surviving on teddy grahams and granola bars lately. This Sunday though, I managed to put Ben in the baby k’tan for some baking while Charlie was taking his afternoon nap and Mike was out working on the yard.

I had blueberries in the freezer from a couple weeks ago when pints were going for $1. You know I stocked up. They’ve been on my mind lately, as they tumble out of the freezer with a crash each time I open the door, so I browsed around online for some blueberry recipes during a quiet nursing moment and found this easy blueberry cake on Taste of Home. It looked like just the thing for a summery week of snacking.

I hope this baking session means that I’m learning how to live life as mom of two and can get back to some of my other normal routines – like showering regularly and eating dinner at a normal speed rather than scarfing down as much as I can before someone needs me 😂.

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BLUEBERRY SNACKING CAKE

What you need:

1 stick butter (softened)
1 cup sugar + 1-2 tablespoons for topping
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

What to do:

+ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

+ Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

+ Add eggs, milk and vanilla.

+ Mix in flour and baking powder until just combined.

+ Gently fold in blueberries by hand. If you want to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your cake, mix with a tablespoon or so of flour to cost before adding. I skipping because, babies.

+ Pour into greased 8 inch cake pan OR 9×5 loaf pan.

+ Top with reserved sugar.

+ Bake for 45-50 minutes.

This was such a quick and easy everyday cake recipe. I’m sure you could substitute with other fruits that you might have on hand, but the blueberry was especially yummy.

simple joys: fresh flowers.

Yesterday was a gloomy and gray day in Florida. Ben and I ventured out to the veggie market in the morning for a change of scenery after two cups of coffee and an hour of baby talk. Tucked into the baby wrap, he quietly looked around at all the bins of fresh produce with mouth agape, no interest in his binky (unfortunately, a common theme). We settled on a bunch of yellowing bananas and a pint of fresh raspberries for Charlie’s meals the rest of the week.

Then, we made our way over to the tomato tables, squeezing past other shoppers in the narrow aisles, shooting smiles at those craning their necks to get a peek at Ben. The Florida tomatoes are at their best right now. Deep red and shining, you just know that they’re going to have that distinct fresh summer taste when sliced. We needed two for BLTs tonight (one for munching on with a grind of salt during dinner prep and one for the sandwiches). I picked the best of the pile that I could find after looking them over, as one does, smiling at the small woman across from me doing the same. My hands were getting full, but I couldn’t resist adding a pint of heirloom cherry tomatoes for salads. The colors were too pretty. I scurried over to the checkout counter before anything dropped.

A kind lady crooned over Ben’s little face curiously (and still quietly, thank goodness!) peeking out from his cocoon on my chest while waiting in line. She marveled over his one month old status (So alert! Well, he was a little late so he’s very awake to the world. So big! He was 9 pounds at birth! So lucky to have him! Agreed on that.)

We left with our bag of goodies, but I just couldn’t resist walking down to the flower market just two buildings over. And it’s tulip season! Tulips are my favorite spring flower and they just don’t grow here. Ditto for hydrangeas, daffodils, ranunculus, poppies and all the other beautiful spring flowers that I love. A bunch of tulips were just the thing to liven up the kitchen table this week. Ben and I went into the cooler to hunt down the perfect bunch and found this shy shade of pink near the back. Isn’t it pretty?

Do you ever buy fresh flowers? For some, it’s a weekly treat and it just may become mine too. Okay, okay, not every week (my husband sighs in relief). But maybe now and then. It’s brightening up our house and my mood immensely every time my eye falls on them. Just another simple little joy to be grateful for today!

books lately.

img_5469The day to day life with a newborn at home is a funny thing. It’s filled with the great disparity of frantic activity (Eat! Shower! Dishwasher! Make dinner! Laundry! Quick!) while the baby is sleeping in the bassinet and then long periods of quiet restful time on the couch or in the rocker. During these restful times, I’ve been gobbling up e-books on my phone with Libby – If you’ve ever used Overdrive, it’s an update of that e-book interface. It’s an app much like Kindle, but used with your local public library to give access to nearly every book you want to read, depending on what your library offers. I don’t trust myself to get to the library to return books right now, so while I prefer reading hardcover, an e-book is so much easier. I can also hold my phone with one hand while holding a baby in the other. A book is harder!

Charlie goes to daycare every morning with Mike and I pick him up later in the afternoon so I’ve had some time on my hands to do some binge reading. (And watching. I just finished This Is Us on NBC and started in on The OA on Netflix yesterday) Here’s a few books I’ve torn my way through lately:

Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan…I just started this and it’s sooo good. I can’t wait to watch the movie when I finish. Highly recommend if you’re looking for an easy summer read.

How To Stop Time, by Matt Haig…This was good. It’s about a man who doesn’t age normally. He’s 400, but looks only 40ish. All about his life through different times and his search for his daughter. I kind of skipped through the introspection parts of it. There was a lot of internal dialogue that slowed it down for me.

The Flight Attendant, by Chris Bohjalian…A quick read about an American flight attendance who wakes up in Dubai next to her dead date from the night before. Russians, FBI, undercover operatives, and lots of booze are involved.

Wedding Night, by Sophie Kinsella…Another good beach read. The entire time I was reading this I kind of felt like I had read it before. I’m still not sure if I had already read it. Hehe. A good chick-flick romance.

Winter in Paradise, by Elin Hilderbrand…I have this in hardcover thanks to my mom passing it along, and it’s next on my list after I finish Crazy Rich Asians. It’s an appropriate title though, no?

You do have to wait sometimes if someone is reading the book that you’d like, so I have a little digital pile of books sitting on my holds list. Here’s a few I’m waiting on impatiently:

My Sister, the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite…I keep hearing such good things!

Circe, by Madeline Miller…On the shortlist for the National Book Award. The app says I have 5 weeks to wait on this one! Ack!

P.S. I Still Love You, by Jenny Han…The sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. A cute teen romance book. The first was so fun and left on a cliffhanger.

How To Talk So Little Kids Will Listen, by Joanna Faber…I ordered this one on Amazon because CHARLIE. Ha! He’s SO much fun right now, but the tantrums are beginning. The excerpt on Amazon made me laugh because it describes him to a T – “What do you do with a little kid who…won’t brush her teeth…screams in his car seat…pinches the baby…refuses to eat vegetables…throws books in the library…runs rampant in the supermarket? Organized according to common challenges and conflicts, this book is an essential emergency first-aid manual of communication strategies.” I think it’s going to help us immensely.

A first trip to the splash pad.

While everyone up north is reveling in the beauty that is SPRING after a long and cold winter, this weekend in Florida felt like summer. I think it’s here to stay. I’m not mad about it. Yet. Talk to me again in July and I may be singing a different tune.

Winter is just the best season here, but summer has its perks too. Ice cold beer on the patio. Popsicles. Trips to the beach every weekend. Evening walks to the water. Packing away every pair of jeans until September (I can’t even bear to look at pants in the summer).

And best of all, I have the whole summer off with my two boys to look forward to.

Now that Charlie is running around like a banshee and knowing his love of all things water related, we thought it was high time for a visit to the splash pad. Nearly all the local parks around us have one, so when he woke up from his nap on Sunday we threw on his swimmies, packed the kids in the car and drove five minutes up the road.

He was by far the youngest but also the most delighted person there. Mike wore his trunks to help the little man stay safe with all the big kids running around. He fell once, flat on his face, and had a big red mark on his eyebrow to prove it. He cried for a minute, got a snuggle hug from Mike and then wiggled out of his arms to go back to the water.

Ben and I were snug with the baby k’tan in the shade of a palm tree while the boys ran circles.

I have a feeling we’ll end up here lots of weekends this summer. We love our trips to the beach, but coming home without sand was pretty nice too.

meet ben.

The past two weeks have passed in an absolute blur with this new little one at home. Each day has been full of newborn and extra toddler snuggles. Benjamin Lewis arrived on March 1st weighing in at 9 pounds 2 ounces (though he’s already up to 10). His birth story is beautiful and I want to get it all down in writing before the details start drifting away from me (they already are!), but today I’m just checking in with the news that’s he’s here, he’s here!

Charlie is handling things pretty well with just some minor jealousy that mainly involves handing out sweet hugs like candy and trying out every item of Ben’s baby gear.

Ben is more alert and sweeter by the day. We love him despite his evening witching hour and his habit of waking up the moment we set him down. Today is the beginning of what I’m considering phase four of maternity leave (phase one: waiting. Phase two: arrival of Ben with my parents here. Phase three: Mike’s paternity leave. Phase four: just me and Ben) We’re sending Charlie in to daycare until summer break, so I can get to know and love on this little mush. I’m not quite ready to have a 15 month old and a two week old all to myself just yet. We’ll get there though. I’m holding the little man as I type this. He’s snoring away, one arm flung above his head and I’m thinking about joining him in a little mid afternoon nap before the big one gets home and demands dinner.

thanksgiving in north carolina.

This may be belated, but I wanted to share a few pictures from Thanksgiving! I didn’t take nearly enough pictures, but here are a few at least! img_9705

We celebrated a chilly Thanksgiving break in Charlotte this year with Mike’s family. It was so fun to get all the (very active) cousins together again. The last time we were all together was this past summer at the beach! We didn’t venture out of the house for much other than fresh air in the yard. LOTS of food was consumed though. img_9765img_9750

Charlie on a plane was a different experience this time around as all he wants to do is run! He fell asleep after terrorizing everything for half of both flights. Happy terrorizing at least.

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We are so thankful for everyone and everything in this beautiful life!

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the friday post – vol. 15

It’s December! Finally, or already? I can’t decide. Either way I’ve been looking forward to this month for weeks and I’m so happy it’s finally here. Days of decorating, hot chocolate, cookies, and cheery music are here! We opened the first of our advent calendar boxes this morning and are headed downtown tonight for dinner and the Christmas tree lighting!

I was not ready to go back to school this week after our weeklong thanksgiving break. Charlie is going through a traumatic transition to the toddler room at daycare so nights have been touchy and mornings reluctant. He’ll get used to it all in good time, but the extra tears have been pulling at my heartstrings.

Our house is feeling awfully cramped lately with Charlie’s toys everywhere and only more to come. I feel like my nesting is kicking in hard this weekend. I’ve already cleaned the bathroom and have plans to rearrange bookshelves to accommodate some toy baskets. It’s been driving me batty to have everything out! Updates to come.

I made Chex mix last weekend which always makes it feel like the holiday season to me. My mom always had a tin of Chex around for holiday munching and I’m loving the salty snack at home and taking in a baggie for school. We have tons of Chex leftover so I’m making mike’s holiday favorite next – puppy chow.

And the weather has been perfect lately. Charlie only wants to be outside after school and has figured out how to open the door. Good thing we keep it locked!

What are you up to this weekend? Something nice I hope. Make some sweet memories this weekend friends!

diy advent calendar

img_9877I want so badly this year to really appreciate and make the most of every moment of this holiday season. It just goes by in the blink of an eye, and I feel like if you don’t try to enjoy it, then it seems to be over before it even began. Charlie is becoming a very curious (too curious sometimes!) and aware little person and it’s been so fun to see him watching the lights go up around the neighborhood, in stores, and in our house. To say he is interested in these little boxes that popped up on the kitchen windowsill overnight is an understatement.

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I can’t take credit for the design. I browsed Pinterest (of course) for ideas and found so many! I toyed with an calendar of envelopes on the wall, jars on the windowsill, but settled on a modified version of this cute one from Oh Happy Day that uses small boxes with trees hot glued to the top. I adjusted for what I found at Michaels (small boxes, a set of 21 holiday trees for $10, and bought some pinecones and bells to fill the last 4).

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I’ve been wanting to do an advent calendar to celebrate the season for the last few years, but while I could have done it, it seemed silly to make one for just Mike and I. I also still don’t feel like Charlie needs gifts of toys or chocolate every day like most traditional advent calendars, so ours is one of easy festive activities like drinking hot chocolate, watching a christmas movie, or taking a walk around the neighborhood to ogle lights. Some are activities for Charlie, and others just Mike and I, so it’s a nice little combination of holiday activities.

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A few are pre-planned weekend activities like getting our christmas tree, going downtown to our town’s christmas tree lighting, and taking Charlie to sit on Santa’s lap. I can’t wait for December to begin so Charlie can open up the first box! I love how it turned out, and am planning to make this an annual tradition that our kids will look forward to.