baby in a tin, a note on being resourceful.

Who needs a baby pool anyway? This first weekend of summer break was too, too good. I’m feeling all sorts of happiness about it. The first weekend is important, you know? It sets the stage for the whole summer. And it’s going to be a good one – I can feel it in my bones. How could it not be, with this kid?The heat and humidity swooped in with a vengeance this weekend, so I pulled the little tin beer cooler out of our outdoor side table, gave it a good wipe, filled it to the brim with the hose, moved it to a shady spot (all talk of not hanging out under the mango tree aside 😂) and tucked Charlie in it to splash away to his heart’s content. When I pulled him out thirty minutes later, happy & tired, I wrapped him and his wrinkly toes in a big striped beach towel. He took a solid two hour afternoon nap after that. Such goodness! Just love this little man so much. So, moral of the story? You don’t need to buy a thing to have summer fun. Running water? Something, anything to hold it in? You’re good! Or really pull out all the stops and hook up your hose to a sprinkler – or even just a sprayer head. No need to go out and buy anything. Although you certainly can if you so fancy! Find summer fun around you wherever you are! I’m finding that Charlie doesn’t care (nor I!) one bit if something is new, old or found. He loves his new shaker toy as much as the little Tupperware I filled with rice. And clearly he loves the tin as much as a baby pool 😊. But let’s be honest – I’m reeeeelly excited to put him in a real pool when we’re home in Indiana next week!! The tin was such a sweet solution for a hot, humid Florida day, but nothing beats the real thing. Just a note to remind (mostly myself) that money need not be spent for summer fun! ☺️

happiest of summer breaks.

Just popping in to say that it’s officially summer break over here at the Metroka house! I go back on Monday to turn in my school keys and to have lunch with my teacher friends, but Charlie’s tagging along for the day so it hardly counts as a work day. ☺️

Mike is at a golf outing for the day, so Charlie and I are making lists and mango bread, plotting out our summer plans. The real fun begins next week with a visit gulfside to see our sweet college friends, then up to Chicago home to Indiana to see friends and family. There’s a tightness of excitement building in my chest! I have a feeling this summer is going to go by in the blink of an eye with a million memories to keep! These are the days and we’re going to make the absolute most of them!!

the friday post – vol. 12

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Ahhhhh Friday! And ONE WEEK LEFT OF SCHOOL! I could not be more thrilled. I had my last classes in the library today (movie week!), and it feels good. Even if you work a “regular” job, I’m sure you’re celebrating this Friday especially because hello long weekend! We don’t have anything special planned which will make it feel even more relaxing.

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It’s been so rainy lately that we have these sweet little mushrooms popping up all over the garden! The rain has been fantastic for my herbs and the grass, but not great for our enjoyment of the great outdoors. It’s raining as I write this and I’m feeling like this weekend may be a cozy and peaceful one with pitter pattering on our rooftop.

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I made Ina’s chicken parmesan this week with a side of garlic bread from my loaf of no-knead bread. It was especially good. Mike emphatically stands that it’s not really chicken parmesan because it doesn’t have a red sauce. He thinks it’s really just a salad with breaded chicken which is totally fair. But still delicious. I had this recipe on the menu this week for my *new* recipe, but we didn’t get around to it because of a few extra after school events! It’s getting shifted to next week and I’m still excited about it.

It’s officially rosé wine season, and I have jumped right on the bandwagon with my whole heart. So refreshing! Such an easy summer bevvie! I want to try this recipe for rosé sangria which sounds amazing. I may just have to host a happy hour so I can try it. 🙂

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Everything is blooming around us right now! Trees, flowers, bushes! I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m noticing all of it especially much this year. We had our jasmine vine on the front porch in bloom a couple weeks ago, and now it’s the roses. What’s next, I don’t know!

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I’m so looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with my two boys (plus Wendy) , lots of snuggling, too many belly laughs, and happy hours every night. 🙂 What are you looking forward to this weekend? Something wonderful, I hope!

xx, em

the show i’ve been waiting a year for.

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I read about pbs’s new show in July of last year, and I’ve been ticking off days on my calendar! The Great American Read finally debuted Tuesday night on pbs, and it was everything I had hoping for and more. Okay, okay. I did fall asleep about halfway through. It was two hours long! It’s hard for a tired schoolgirl mama to stay up that long! The list of 100 will be talked about in episodes over the next months, and voting will determine the number one Great American Read. I think it’s so fun! I love book hype.

I printed the list off in checklist form the other day so I could track what I had and hadn’t read. I’m embarrassed to say that I’d read not even half of the books. Some of the books included surprised me! The Notebook!Gone Girl! FIFTY SHADES OF GREY!!? THE best?? I just don’t know. Harry Potter though – my number one as of right now. What do you think? You can vote for as many books as often as you want, and I’ve already gone in to vote for five or six. I haven’t even read them all, so it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around which one is going to be the best! I need to get reading this summer. 🙂 I may just have to do a few re-readings too! I’m trying to talk Mike into a couple’s book club with me, but I might have more luck convincing my mom of a mother-daughter club. Right, mom?

If you missed it – you can watch for free online here!

first mother’s day.

My heart is so full after the sweetest weekend with my two boys. I’m feeling spoiled!

Mike sent me off to have my nails done on Saturday while he snuck to the store with Charlie to pick up groceries for the most delicious Mother’s Day dinner. I’m fairly no frills when it comes to self-care, but getting pedicures is my guilty little pleasure. I only go if Mike sets it up for me for a special occasion or if my mom is in town. 🙂 The last time I got a pedicure, I was 42 weeks pregnant (natural induction attempt 548), so it was such a thoughtful treat. Saturday night we went out for ice cream on the beach with the happiest baby on earth. I had blueberry, Mike, salted caramel. We shared little bites with Charlie and he would’ve eaten the whole cup if we had let him! Rain fell all through the day on Sunday so after Facetimes with both of our moms, we headed to the Norton Museum of Art, our favorite rainy day outing. Charlie’s first visit! He wore his Eric Carle “I Love Mom” hungry caterpillar shirt and everyone commented on what a handsome, sweet boy we have which warmed my mama heart. The Norton is undergoing some major renovations, so open now are only a couple wings of their permanent art collections. The perfect size for a six month old art newbie, and a nice no-fuss outing for our little family. It was my one Mother’s Day request since it clearly was not panning out to be a beach day. Our dinner was amazing. We had an appetizer of shrimp with St. Elmo’s cocktail sauce. Mike made the steak on the cast iron skillet (rain!) and it was so so tender that I think it may be our new favorite way to make steak rather than the grill. Asparagus, smashed red potatoes, and mushrooms cooked in butter topped it all off. My mouth is still watering. And the best part? I didn’t lift a finger. Mike did it all while I played on the floor with our little man and drank my wine. 🙂 Best Mother’s Day ever. The first of what I hope will be many homemade Mother’s Day gifts. 🙂 I hope each and every mom was spoiled rotten on Sunday. You deserve it!

the friday post – vol. 11

Oops. It’s a Saturday post again, isn’t it? Oh well! I was enjoying my post work cocktails too much to muster up the energy to post last night. I made a blueberry simple syrup from Charlie’s leftover baby food and mixed that with torn basil, a wedge of lemon, vodka and soda water. It gave me new life. Happy Mother’s Day weekend you guys! Godmothers, Mothers, Grandmothers, etc. you all rock! Mikey (sweetest man alive, have I mentioned that?) made me an appointment to have my toes done today. I feel like a new woman! It’s been such a good weekend already.

Charlie is seriously on the move now. His scoot has turned into this little crawl with kind of a bum leg that kind of scoots along with him. He’s all over the house! We really have to keep our eye on him – especially because he has an endless fascination with electrical cords and all things Wendy (her food, her toys, her tail). Three weeks left of school! Next week is book fair so it’s going to be a little crazy in the library. The kids love book fair so so much though so it’ll be fun. I put up little string ball lights on the front porch this morning and am just tickled by them. They’re so festive. I tried to capture a picture but it just doesn’t do it justice. I’ll have to try again at dusk. Have an amazing Mother’s Day weekend all! I only wish I could be with my own mom this weekend for Mother’s Day. Then it would be complete. But a FaceTime will have to make do this year.

make time to go outside.

ac983487-c73f-497a-aa50-89acf3e740e3It’s been a hectic couple of weeks at our house. Last weekend was full of friends and extra happenings which carried over to this week. There are just phases like that, you know? Weekday grocery runs, broken glasses, morning work events, lizards in the kitchen, diaper issues. I won’t go into details, but phew it’s been a week!

We’ve always been lovers of walks. They’re so good for the soul. But the last couple weeks we’ve fallen out of our nightly walk habit. And because of it, I feel like we haven’t had time to really catch up with each other. I mentioned it to Mike earlier this week, and the last two nights we’ve made time to go outside. Just a little walk around the block to the water with Charlie in his stroller. There’s something about walking next to each other outside that takes conversation to the next level. We’re so much more likely to dig deep and talk things through for real rather than if we were sitting at home. It just gives me a little sigh of relief at the end of an extra busy day.

There are tons of studies that show spending time outdoors reduces stress, increases creativity, and causes a shift toward more positive moods. I know I feel so much more connected and relaxed after a daily constitutional around the block. So this is just a little reminder to make time for yourselves to go outside and run, bike, walk or just sit. You’ll feel better afterward! And guess what? If you have a baby – they’ll feel better too! Going outside can actually help them sleep longer and better at night.

thrift store toys and cleaning them for your baby.

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I like to take a browse through our local thrift stores once a month or so. I always have a little list of things I’m idly on the hunt for – a new chair for the dining room table, a small table to go next to our couch, some summer shorts for Charlie, a browse through the baskets and baby toys. Nothing urgent, but things that I’d like to find eventually, and would prefer not paying full price for.

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We have a giant thrift store right down the road from our house that is my absolute favorite. It’s the biggest thrift store I’ve been in, and their things are alway high quality. It’s not like you’re buying junk. You’re buying really nice things at a discounted price. And when I’m buying something that isn’t a necessity, then I love a good deal. I usually end up with a few things that weren’t on my list too and when you’re only paying a couple dollars, that’s okay.

1b56513f-e11a-419f-9d7e-ae57adef280dI was a little bit worried when I found these blocks though. For $1, the price was right, but I was a little bit concerned about buying a used toy for my baby. Were they germ-y, dusty, coated in who-knows-what? (Honestly, Charlie’s in daycare, so I think he gets germs and then some from there, but still) I did a little research, and I found that used toys are really easy to clean, even wood toys.

You just have to give them a good douse in hot, soapy water, dry them out, and ta-da – they’re ready to go directly in your baby’s mouth. It was a hot and sunny day when I washed his new blocks, so I stuck them outside in the sun for an hour to naturally de-sanitize. Another option is to add a little vinegar to your water instead of soap. This will kill the bacteria on your used toys. I bought a basket to put the blocks in, and I went ahead and rinsed that out in the soapy water and set it outside to dry too. Clean as a whistle! For a day at least. 🙂

728050b7-f2e8-41c0-8008-6a50bdbf3098A little elbow grease was worth it for a new-to-us $1 toy and the $2 basket to go with it. I may have to go back next week for the set of little Schleich dinosaurs I spotted for $2.

Are you a thrift store lover? I find some people are adamantly against them, and others love it! I just think it’s fun to browse around and give something old a new life for a few dollars. 🙂 I did also find a pair of striped and a pair of chambray shorts for Charlie from baby Gap and Boden. All for $1 each! What’s not to like?

 

the friday post – vol. 10

5eb46899-4e41-4a1a-8bf3-3ff09e3ea87dIt’s Friday! We’ve had our dear friends and their little girl in town this week so we’ve gone over to their Airbnb for dinner one night and had them over to our house for another. It’s kind of made the week fly by in a daze of Cuban food, extra glasses of wine and fancy macaroons from the Island. Whenever we have visitors I find myself getting little caught up in their vacation, forgetting that I actually have to work the next day. Oops!

a57e4196-e353-4a55-84ff-4b54d83533e1At school the kids at school are getting more defiant and restless, clearly ready for summer. It’s making days a little more difficult. Let’s be honest, I’m ready for summer too and it’s making me more difficult. But the good news is that there are only four weeks left of school, today is the last day of testing and I can officially be in serious countdown mode now. Our first ripe mango dropped the other day and it’s just the first sign of the seasons changing in Florida. Hot, sticky summer is on its way!

0867d0f1-8e00-461d-bc57-5c1b1e9dcd77Speaking of summer, Charlie is suddenly in need of a new sunhat. His little bucket hat is basically just balancing on top of his head (I swear it fit last week, and this week – it doesn’t!) I found an adorable free pattern with instructions for a baby sun bonnet the other day. I haven’t broken out the sewing machine in months and am feeling the itch for a good diy. I even have enough fabric at home already. I’ll let you guys know how (or if) it goes!

03d0a89e-4fee-4828-acea-3df7fe2e79c5I made these hilariously big banana muffins that I have been munching on for snacks all week. I’ve always used Betty Crocker’s recipe for my banana bread. It’s very forgiving, and I’ve never had it turn out badly. Anyone have a good quick bread recipe though? I love trying new ones. I’m on my last muffin, so I picked up ingredients for muesli at the store to make a big batch up for weekday breakfasts. I’ll share the recipe next week. 🙂

7e4cac0e-61b2-4f28-97d2-57a27c565cf3Our friends are in town for the weekend too, so we’ll be bopping around with them pretending like we’re tourists. Mikey also has a couple work events to go to (boo hiss!). It may be one of those weekends that just breezes right by and we’ll ask ourselves, “Monday, already, really??”

the most beautiful beach day.

Is anyone getting tired of hearing about the beach? I really hope not. Each trip just feels so distinct that I have to capture it! The ocean, the air, Charlie, and our experience changes every time.

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This Saturday the water was crystal clear and calm. The sun shone high and bright. Charlie had just woken up from a nap so he was happy to go into the water and splash.

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After a while, Mike dug him out his own personal swimming pool which he loved. He splashed, tried to eat sand, and sat looking out at the ocean.

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I just keep thinking that life can’t get any better and then it suddenly does. And then Monday rolls around (insert crying face). But I’m counting my lucky stars for such special weekends with these two loves.