Thursday, November 28, 2013

$50 MasterCard Giveaway

Just in time for some post-Thanksgiving shopping deals I have an amazing giveaway for you.  One of you lucky readers can win a $50 MasterCard Gift Card, which is completely awesome because you can use it to buy almost anything, however you will be required to provide a W9 in order to receive the gift card.  I had to do it and it's no biggie.  And don't we all sort of struggle to find the perfect gift?


 Here are some tips when it comes to finding the perfect gift:

  • Dining with a Top Chef? Box seats at the Super Bowl? MasterCard helps you give the gift of experience with its Priceless Cities program, which gives cardholders extraordinary experiences, exclusive offers and privileged access to culinary, shopping, sports, travel and entertainment events.
  • Want to avoid the unfortunate yearly tradition of returning or re-gifting? Give your tweens or teen a SpendSmart MasterCard Prepaid card. The card will help teach how to budget and with instant text alerts, keep you connected as purchases happen.

Some tips from MasterCard in regards to holiday shopping:


  • Divide and Conquer:  Don’t do everything yourself. Empower your kids to make their own gift purchases. Set budget limits by loading a MYPLASH Reloadable Prepaid card for them—it works everywhere Debit MasterCard is accepted.
  • Build a Budget:  Write down how much you can afford for gifts, travel and other expenses. Use one credit or debit card for everything to help keep an accurate record. A prepaid card limits spend to the amount on the loaded on the card.

When you're traveling for the holidays

  • Fuel Your Trip: Join a free loyalty program that helps save money at the gas pump. MasterCard’s partnership with Fuel Rewards Network  allows members to do just that.
  • Check Your Offers: Check with your membership associations or credit cards for special travel offers. For example, World and World Elite MasterCard cardholders get valuable saving, upgrades and experiences including ‘best available price’ across all travel categories—air, private jet, cruise, chauffeured car service or rental, packaged tours and concierge.

·         Website for more information; www.priceless.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**I received a free gift card in exchange for hosting this fabulous giveaway**

Thankful

So many wonderful things to be thankful for this year.  Here's a top ten to keep it short and sweet.

1.  My two little girls.  Love them both to bits.  They bring me to my breaking point daily, but they also bring me to peaks of happiness.

2.  Andy.  I couldn't do this thing called life without him.  He has my back in all things, as small as making my lunch and as big as supporting me through all the ups and downs.

3.  My house.  I always joke that this house is a money pit, and it totally is (cue $2,500 to replace the fireplace), but it's in a great neighborhood and I love that my kids have a huge backyard and a basement to play in.  I love all the holidays and memories that we are making in this house.

4.  My job.  The commute sucks.  The politics sucks.  But I love being a teacher.  That moment when a kid "gets it".  When I hear my words coming out of my student's mouth, or even better, when they take what I've taught them and put their own ideas into it.  There's nothing better than that.

5.  Weight Watchers.  I am currently down to 126 lbs.  One pound away from my pre-pregnancy weight and 6lbs away from my goal.  However I am not counting calories today so those numbers may be skewed.  It's a sin to diet on Thanksgiving.

6.  Friends who became family and family who became friends.  Christie, Meaghan, Crotch, Lara, Christina, Teresa, Ally, Monica.  I've grown in my understanding of what friendship means.  It doesn't mean spending every weekend together.  It doesn't mean talking on the phone all day long.  It means being there for each other, showing up for each other and understanding that everyone has their own lives and respecting that, but also trying to fit in the time to be present in each other's lives.  I'm happy to share my life with them and am happy to share in theirs.

7.  My mom.  That woman saves my ass on a daily basis.  She drives me nuts and I drive her nuts, but I'm sure my own daughters will pay me back in their turn.

8.  Coffee and alcohol.  'Nuff said.

9.  A disposable income.  It's not as large as it once was (see #3), but we're able to go out to dinner or take the kids out for ice cream or go see Disney on Ice on occasion.

10.  Isabella's teachers.  She loves school and I know it's because of them.

What are you thankful for?


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Girl

My cousin Christina just found out that she's having a baby girl and I'm so excited.  She's a close friend of mine, besides being family and I think it's so awesome that her and Arya will not even be a year apart.  My cousins and I all grew up so close together and I think it's wonderful that all of our kids are close in age so they can recreate our childhood experiences, without all the bad 80's hair of course.

And I might just be biased because I was never able to shop for a boy, but shopping for little girls is just so much fun!  I love Miss Grant dresses from Strawberry Children and adorable little diaper covers and headbands with obnoxiously sized flowers on it.  I know that she'll wind up with a ton of stuff because we have the same family and I had a ton of stuff for both of my girls.  I had newborn clothes that neither one of my kids got to wear, so I'm thinking instead of just getting her the standard newborn or 0-3 outfits I can get some baby girls designer clothing range from 6 months and up.

It's so great that she's having a baby and it's also so great that I wont be the only friend in our crew to have kids.  I always feel like such a stick in the mud because I can't always meet up with them for dinner or wine, cheese, and crackers or for a stoop party.  I need like 24 hours advanced notice of anything so I can make sure I have someone to stay with the kids and that I have enough bottles to pump into.  I know that as Arya gets older it will get easier, but I really miss my friends and I'll be glad to have one on this motherhood ship with me.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting Your Halls Decked

We are full effect in getting ready for Christmas over here.  We're sorting through decorations and scouting out places for our creepy, hypocritical Elf on the Shelf to hide.  It's been about a year since we've moved in.  I remember the first night that the three of us spent together in this house was Christmas Eve.  I remember rushing to just get the tree up so we could have ourselves a proper Christmas morning.  I remember feeling my baby move and kick inside me, wondering if it would be a boy or a girl.


A full year later and I can't believe how far we've come!  We've taken the money pit and turned it into a full fledged home.  There's still a lot to do though.  Our bedroom is in dire need of some TLC.  Even some cheap eyelet curtains would help bring things together.  I'm looking for something in yellow to tie in with our throw pillows.  I'd also really love to redo the floors in the family room because they're tile and they freeze my feet.  And the green carpeting in the attic needs to go, but it costs a lot of money to recarpet stairs, so we're holding off. 

My favorite part about spending the holidays in the house is the fire place.  I love how cozy it is, how homey.  When I was little I grew up in an apartment and I always wished I could have a fire place and it's so nice to see Isabella getting a chance to enjoy it.  I wrote a week or so ago about my Halloween party and how we played beer pong outside, I think it would be awesome to get a wall mounted flame effect fire type thing for the back porch to keep us warm while we're out there plus bringing in the fire place effect.  

It's been a trying year in regards to the house.  A lot of stress, a lot of money, and a lot of things breaking and/or getting struck by lightening, but I'm still happy to be raising my kids in this house.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

6 Months


Weight: 17 lbs 8 oz
Height: 26 inches

Sleeping Habits: We're a bit on and off with the sleep lately.  Arya is still going to sleep around 7:30, usually nursing to sleep (I'm creating a terrible habit right?) she sleeps in her crib on her tummy and she'll wakes up either once to eat at around 3 and then will sleep until around 7 or she sleeps straight through and is up around 6.  Or sometimes she totally throws us off and is up for the day at 5:30 am or will wake up twice to eat.  Usually she goes right back to sleep, but sometimes she's party rocking for an hour in the middle of the night ::yawn::  Her first nap is epic 1.5-2.5 hours but everything after that pretty much sucks, I'm talking like 30-45 minute naps.  

Eating Habits: We still EBF and she takes bottles of pumped milk when I'm at work.  She eats every 2-3 hours.  She'll take 4 ounces in a bottle. We've also let her try sweet potatoes, peas, and carrots.  She loves sweet potatoes and peas and is so-so about the carrots.   

Milestones: Sitting.  She still needs someone to "spot" her, but she's doing great with sitting up all by herself for a few minutes at a time.  

Best Thing This Month: Her Christening!  Such a great day and she was such a good girl.  She's a really interactive and happy baby.  She loves being around people.  


Challenges This Month: Getting her to go to sleep on her own.  I love rocking her to sleep at night, but I'm hoping that I'm not making bad habits.  What if that's the reason she's waking up at night and her naps are so short? Just want to make sure I'm not turning her into a psycho killer or something.  

Looking Forward To: Thanksgiving!  I love when the house is full of people and there's always something so nice about having a baby around for the holidays.  



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christmas Gifts

It's so that time of year again and there's something just so magical about Christmas, especially when it's Arya's first Christmas.  While I love almost everything about Christmas, the decorations, the lights, the treats, being together, sometimes I can get major anxiety about what to get people.

The girls are easy, Arya would be happy with anything that I let her put in her mouth and Isabella is happy with anything that is covered in glitter or has to do with art.  Easy.

It's the other people on my list.  I know that Andy loves watches and Tag watches make a great gift so there's always that option.  My mom likes anything with pictures of the kids on it and my dad likes anything that comes in a wine bottle.

It's those little people that creep up on you, like your office secret Santa or your new mom friend who you're not even quite sure that you're exchanging gifts with.  My sister has also been hinting at a new watch, womens Cartier watches are amazing and she has been really awesome this year doing all my keratins for free and coming up to help with the kids.

Then I have to get something small for my students because I need to give them at least a little something.  And it has to stay little because I have 26 of them.

I feel my bank account bending under the burgeoning weight of Christmas costs and I know Andy's cheap butt will blow a gasket at the cost of all these presents, but unless he's willing to take over the reigns of Christmas shopping he's going to have to get over it.  I've been chewed out before, Christmas is worth it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

God Bless Arya

Arya's Christening was last weekend and it was such a beautiful day.  It really was.  My sweet bug was so good.  She was all happy and smiley and she was "talking" so loudly in church it was hilarious.  We had a great party afterwards and she just kind of soaked up all the people and the music.  She's such a good girl.  And her big sister actually got on the microphone to tell everyone how much she loves her sister.  ::melts::

Big shout out to Godmother Nicole :)

Here are some shots of her special day.











Overall it was a great day and I couldn't have been happier.  Like my dress?  Stitch Fix.  Huzzah!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Stitch Fix

I kind of love Stitch Fix.  Like for real I love them.  And before I profess my love for Stitch Fix you need to know that this post is not sponsored.  I'm not getting any cash or Fix's for this post, it's purely from the love of my blackened heart that I write this.

If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, I shall enlighten you.  You go online to www.stitchfix.com and you fill out a whole style profile.  It's very detailed and talks about what styles you like, what you hate, what body parts you want to keep under wraps (pooch please) and what you'd like to show off (my ankles are pretty thin, let's showcase them).  They show you pictures and it's a whole mess of fun!  Then based on your style profile a stylists chooses items to send you.  You pay a $20 styling fee that you can put towards the purchase of the clothes they send.  Whatever you want you pay for and whatever you don't want you ship back in a prepaid envelope that they send you.

Here's the pics from my last fix, don't mind the way I look, it was about 10 pm and that's kind of just what I look like when I get out of the shower and air dry.

I wasn't nuts about the fit of this shirt.  I loved the feel and color of it, but I thought it made me look a bit boxy.


This was probably the most comfortable dress ever.  I loved the way the fabric felt on my skin and if I was about 5-10lbs lighter I would have kept it, but I'm still a bit too insecure about my jelly rolls in the middle to feel comfortable wearing it.  But it would be an awesome dress to wear for Thanksgiving or to my work Christmas party with a pair of tights and some boots.  


This is a bad picture, but I loved this top and necklace and wound up keeping them both.  It's hard to see the silky floral underlay, but the shirt looks flattering and I really like the fit.  And if I could wear the bauble necklace everyday I totally would.  



I don't have time to browse the mall.  But I do have time to open a box of clothes hand picked for me and take bathroom selfies like a frizzy haired, no makeup champ!  If you want to try Stitch Fix use my referral code so I can get some credit and my husband won't blow a gasket when he sees the box come in.  https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3147177 Seriously, if you're gonna order, don't be douchey, use the link.  And put lots of pics up of yourself cuz I really love Stitch Fix pics.  


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Time

If there was one thing I could have more of, no questions asked it would be time.  Sleep, better clothes, and a fast metabolism would be close runners up.  I feel like there's just never enough time in the day.  


I always feel like I'm in a huge giant rush.  A mad dash every morning to get out the door, at work I always feel frazzled, like there's just not enough time to plan my lessons, grade my tests, file my paperwork, and my desk pretty much looks like a paper factory exploded on it.  Some days I have to stay late just to finish up and other days I bring my work home with me.  

Then it's the rush ride home.  I walk in the door and pretty much it's time to whip out a boob, rush to get dinner on the table, unpack all my crap from the day and then pack it all back up again for the next day.  Sometimes I feel like I spend the majority of my time just getting set up for the next day. Get the kiddies in bed, straighten up, and then get them back in bed. Then I have to sort through the bazillion papers that get sent home from Isabella's school every day. And Andy always helps, but it's still a lot. 

Forget about the millions of pictures in my camera that need to be uploaded.  The blog posts swimming in my head.  The projects I want to start.  The reviews I need to write.  The eBay crap I need to ship.  The attic I want to organize.  The coats that no one ever puts in the damn closet.  

But I always take at least an hour every night to myself to spend with Andy.  We have a glass of wine or a cup of tea and we watch a show or two.  I need that each night.  But man wouldn't it be nice to have an extra hour a day or a whole day just to myself.  I probably still wouldn't make a dent in the things I want to do, but it's nice to dream isn't it? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Halloween Party

A day late and a dollar short, as per my usual.  But every year Andy and I host an adults only Halloween party and it's super fun.  No kids.  Lots of food.  Even more alcohol.  Great friends.  I hope you'll forgive me the fact that it's mid-November, but time is in short supply these days and since you're probably all Halloween'ed out I'll keep it brief and show you pretty pictures.

A wine inspired table scape



 Spider cupcakes and cake pop eyeballs





Zombie Wanda and living Wanda.  This was not planned!


Beer pong in full effect




Andy harassing my very sober cousin.


Drunk duck face


I look forward to this party every year.  I'm thinking maybe next year to try and throw a themed one.  What do you think? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Idea Village Bright Light Pillow

When our Bright Light Pillow arrived in the mail, Isabella was practically giddy with excitement.  The

Bright Light Pillow is a pillow that lights up.  It's outer covering is super plush and soft and just perfect for snuggling.  But it also lights up in a multi-color pattern, going from red to blue to yellow to green and so on.  Isabella loves to watch the colors change.  Every night after bath and books we snuggle in bed and I shut off the lights and she turns on her pillow, the lights stay on for 15 minutes before automatically turning off, although she's usually so knocked out from school that she can barely make it even 5 minutes.

The Bright Light Pillow comes in a white square or a pink beating heart that glows red.  It requires 3 AAA batteries that are not included.  You just tap to turn it on and then it automatically shuts off 15 minutes later.  At only $19.99 the Bright Light Pillow would make an awesome Christmas gift for a boy or a girl of any age.  I couldn't wait until Christmas to give it to Isabella and I'm so glad I gave it to her early because she just loves it.

It's perfect for bedtime, travel, and sleepovers.  A big thank you to Idea Village for allowing me the opportunity to review this product.




Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Commute

I live in New Jeresey.  I drive into Brooklyn.  Every.  Single.  Day for work.  Commuting is brutal.  It is officially the worst part of my day.  It used to be a close second to pumping, but commuting takes the cake.

What should be a 45 minute drive into work can take me close to, or sometimes even over, 2 hours.  I've been commuting for 8 years since I left Brooklyn to buy a house here.  It's never been this bad.  I mean sure, every so often there's an overturned bus or an eight car pile up that causes you to be late for work, but the Staten Island traffic is the worse it's ever been.

Blame sun glare...blame long running construction that doesn't have an end in sight.  Blame numerous and ridiculous merges.  Blame rough roads.  Blame it all.  Staten Island traffic sucks.  Commuting sucks.

People keep asking me why I haven't tried to find a teaching job closer to home.  The true answer is fear.  I'm scared to loose 9 years of teaching towards my retirement.  I'm scared to start over.  I'm scared to lose my tenure.  I'm scared to take a pay cut.  I'm scared to leave what's comfortable and familiar.  I'm scared no one will want me.

But that's just my tune isn't it?  I let fear hold me back...cripple me.  I can't tell you how many things I want to do or try, but my fear strangles me.  Chokes me until I put the thought in a box and bury it far away.  How do you shake fear's grip on you?

Monday, November 4, 2013

I See You

Hey there mom.  I see you.  Sometimes you feel invisible, like you're made of cellophane.  Sometimes it feels like you spend all of your time tending to other people's needs that no one sees that your needs go unmet.  I see you.

I see you lying in bed at night promising yourself that the next day will be better, that tomorrow you'll be better.  Tomorrow you won't loose your patience or your temper.  Tomorrow you'll speak gently to little ears.  Tomorrow you will read more books and give more hugs and really get it together.  I see you staring at the ceiling, your doubts consuming you, feeling like you're not good enough, feeling like you're not enough and wondering how you'll ever do it all.  I see you.

I see you worrying about every decision you make.  Worrying about how you make little hearts feel and how you worry if they're warm enough, happy enough, normal enough.  You worry about how the actions you take today will affect them tomorrow.  I see you.

I see you ridden with guilt.  Guilt over working outside the home.  Guilt over missing that holiday show.  Guilt over not wanting to play.  Guilt over putting on the television.  Guilt over letting the kids eat macaroni and cheese again.  Guilt over not feeling like being a mom for a few moments.  I see you.

I see you mom on the iPhone trying to escape for one moment, to have one moment where no one is tugging at you or crying for you or needing something or demanding something.  I see you.

I see you wiping little noses, kissing boo-boos, cutting off crusts, reading Goodnight Moon for the 50th time.  I see you changing diapers, setting out crayons, creating a pillow fort, scheduling play dates, telling stories, mopping up spills, snapping up onesies, playing dress up, doing the dishes, making lunches, and all of the million other things that you do day in and day out to keep your family running, to keep your family happy.  I see all the things that you do that no one sees or notices or appreciates.

I see you.