We’re Going On An Adventure! – New Zealand Edition

To wrap up our great 2018 year of adventure, we decided to make the trek to Middle Earth aka New Zealand! While I’ve made the trip a few times as a singleton, this was my first trip this big with the family. (John thought the travel to S. Korea was long…HA!). I’ve covered the basics of traveling with kids in other posts, but this trip was epic. The heroes of the day(s) were the kindles loaded with all episodes of Puppy Dog Pals, several movies and games (thanks John!) and headphones for the kids. I’ve realized that my sanity was all-to-closely linked to the happiness of my kids. I had two books with me and got through exactly 5 pages during the combined 50+ hours of travel to Auckland and back. When the kids were entertained, I slipped into some sort of zen state and blankly stared at strangers. Lol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My parents met us at the airport and what a relief it was to pass the kids off to someone else. Ha. During our two weeks, we spent about a week in Auckland. There is SO much to do and see within an hour or so around the capital.

 

One Tree Hill:

 

MJ Savage Memorial Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mission Bay:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waitakere Ranges National Park:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piha Beach (on basically every episode of best beaches in the world)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ferry to the city center:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sky Tower:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John and I got away and visited Queenstown for a few days. We left the kids with my parents and headed to the adventure capital of the world! We didn’t bungee jump (invented here!) but we did do some awesome things. I would have never guessed that I would have done one of them:

One of the best places we ate was Fergberger. It was our first stop off the shuttle from the airport. It had a line around the block and we soon found out why. Two things of note here: 1) Coke Zero is EVERYWHERE in NZ (score!!) and 2) We sat where Ed Sheeran sat! (ahhhh!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rode the Shotover Jet and I would HIGHLY recommend it. We had a fun driver and whipped among the canyons and did 360s in the open water. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled by the other companies offering similar experiences. Shotover

Jet has the rights to this part of the whitewater and in my opinion has the best views and experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown:

Not only were the views so crazy (the Remarkables aren’t called remarkable for nothin’) but the ice cream and street performers kept us entertained. (John: “Jess the Mess”- need I say more? LOL)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In some parts of the city, I felt transported back to merry old England:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Hayes Loop Track:

 

Ok, I was lead to believe by my better half that this “walk” was going to be an easy “beginner” hike. I knew I had been duped when we “started” the hike with a walk up a hill so steep my feet were at a 25 degree angle to my leg (think: Lombard Street in San Francisco). We finally make it to the start of the hike and see people with walking stick and Camelbacks on…I had tennis shoes on and one water bottle. Lol. The sign also mentioned that this is an intermediate to advanced hike. (JOHN!!!) Once we made it to the forest area, the temperature was awesome and we wound around the mountain taking breaks to enjoy the scenery (and catch my breath). Several of the hikers were encouraging as we made our way to the summit, but others were complaining that the hike down was even harder. I had some choice words for those people – luckily they thought I was joking. Anyway, once we made it to the top, the view was INSANE and I had a major feeling of accomplishment. Maybe there is some outdoorsy person in me hoping to come out. Ha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queenstown Skyline Gondola:

I guess by now you know that I’m afraid of heights. This gondola ride took us to the top of the sister mountain that we just climbed. Tons of mountain bikers hooked their bikes to the gondola and flew down the mountain. I was just freaking out as we flew up the mountain in the gondola.

Once we got to the top, we took the luge ride about midway down the mountain (3 times, ha). John and I raced down and got some serious air. Major MUST DO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matamata:

One of the bucket list items for John was Hobbiton, and it didn’t disappoint. This private farm still hosts the set from the Lord of the Rings Series and Hobbiton. We were transported to the Shire and couldn’t get enough! There were some HARD CORE Hobbit fans there (this one guy had “the ring” and took pictures with it at every Hobbit door). We had an awesome guide and got the scoop on behind the scenes info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest:

I was so low-key excited to hang where the Royals (Prince Harry and Megan Markle) were visiting a couple of months ago!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davenport:

NZ has some of the most awesome playgrounds and I think my parents located ALL of them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t have been luckier with the kids on the long flight. If you get the chance, make sure and reserve the “sky couch”. The cushions pop up and create a flat couch-like area. A cushiony mat is put on top of the seats, big pillows and fluffy blankets are provided. It helped these babies get a good 8 hours each way. PTL!!

All-in-all this was a trip of a lifetime and it was so special that I could share it with my family. NZ is so beautiful and would totally recommend that everyone visit!!

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Things I Bought and Liked – All Under $40!

There have been a few things I found this fall that have made me feel like have SCORED in the staying-sane-and-keeping-myself-and-small-humans-alive department (#winning). Some I have found in random shopping trips or browsing online, one was a stocking stuffer (ULTA, you hooked my husband up!) and a couple came on recommendation. Here they are in no particular order😁:

Corduroy Jumper

This cute corduroy mini-jumper has been one of my fav fall purchases from Birds of a Feather (BOAF)! I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis with this purchase because of the length, however I made all the girls at BOAF promise that I didn’t look like I was an old person trying to look young. 😂 I had an extensive convo with Jill (many many pics and texts) about how to style this and what kinds of places I could wear it. I’ve been so focused on building up my professional wardrobe, that I have sadly forgotten my fun, casual wardrobe. I was able to wear this to a concert for a parents’ night out! I paired it with a black mock turtleneck, black tights and leopard print flats. You could also add booties or a white ribbed shirt underneath.

Ice Roller

Don’t get me started about this. This $12 item has brought me so much joy in the past two weeks. I have been using it first thing when I wake up to “de-puff”. It also is great for headaches. I keep this in a plastic bag in the freezer and have it ready for use. This is so worth it – go get yourself one.

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer

This little bronzer packs a huge punch for its size. It is super pigmented, so you only have to use a small amount to create a bronze goddess look, use as blush or to contour. This size is great to travel with too! 

Firearm Kids’ Clothes

If you are a fan of Mini Boden, you will love Firearm. I’ve found some great dupes for half the cost! Best of all…it’s all available on AMAZON. The fabric is soft and breathable – enough for my two year old.😅

Universal Thread Booties

These adorable cut out booties are TARGET dupes for the more pricey Free People ones. They are only $32.99 (and there is a BOGO 50% off going on right now)! They are comfy and very on trend for Fall.

As a fellow (working) mom, I hope some of these ideas help you to stay chic, have $$ in your wallet and generally make life easier!

Xx,

Lauren

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An Open Letter To My Daughters: Letting Go Is So Hard!

Hey Y’all!  It’s been a while.  We’ve been soaking up every.last.second of summer.  Family time is everything in our household.  Sometimes it’s good to take a step back from our social media lives to focus on our real lives and the people that mean the most to us.   My girls are growing at the speed of light.  This summer I feel like if I looked closely enough, I could’ve actually seen them grow.   We’re heading into major transition times in our household.  This week begins a whole new world for both girls.   Tonight I put my big girl to bed for the last time as a “little kid.”  Tomorrow she wakes up and heads off to Middle School…..MID-DLE SCHOOL.  I can’t even believe I’m saying those words.  While every parent out there knows just how fast time goes, there are often moments that slap us in the face and make us realize that our babies aren’t quite babies any more.

My sweet toddler is officially a Pre-Schooler now.  Not just that pretend “pre-school” where you say the word Pre-School just to sound cool.  But she’s actually in a class that counts attendance, gives out tardies (I can only imagine how this is going to go…..I’m sure my just-turned-4 year old really understands the idea of tardies when there is no actual bell that rings) does class work and gets a progress report.  Like, she’s in legit pre-school.  And honestly, I’m not here for it.    When I look at her, I still see a baby.  She’s still my cuddle bug that can’t go to sleep each night unless momma lays with her.  How is she capable of writing her name, saying her ABC’s and being graded on her social, emotional and educational skills.  I’m not ready for someone else to “judge her,” even though I know she’s progressing just fine.  I want her to just be my baby a little longer.  To live in that stress free world of constant fun and entertainment.  Babies don’t keep and that hurts a momma heart.

The truth is, I will love my children at every age and every stage.  It’s not that I only want “babies,” it’s just that I know with each new year comes new challenges and they learn more about this cold, cruel world.  With each new stage in life, it’s necessary to have uncomfortable, scary discussions with our children.  While preparing for Middle School today we had to talk about drugs, alcohol and boys who may act inappropriate.  While it’s important for her to know this stuff and even MORE important for her to hear it from me, I wish we could just go back to the days when I could shelter her from literally everything.  It’s no secret, guys.  We live a Mr. Rogers lifestyle – I’m not even kidding.  My kids have no idea how scary this world can be.  For YEARS my daughter thought “the F word” meant “fart.”  And she thought that was so seriously bad.  (Lord, can we please go back to those glorious years. The years when I could shield her from all the bad and heal all her wounds.)  The hardest part is, there is no going back.  I just have to build her up, show her the way, give her all the mental and emotional tools that she will need in life, encourage her and pray that she always knows how much she is loved.  We have to trust that we’ve done everything that we possibly could to prepare them to leave the nest.   Then we have to let them go and watch them soar.

This is the stage I’m in right now.  My oldest daughter has been soaring so high and I’m so proud of her.  We moved to a small town where we know no one.  She’s starting a new school, she’s meeting new people, she’s playing school sports and she’s putting herself out there every day.  She’s walking into a gym full of 70 girls and she knows not a single one.  She’s brave and strong and she’s facing life head on.  She was scared the first day, but fear didn’t win.  She held her head high and made her way through the crowd.  Now she’s packed her bookbag, picked out her first day outfit and she’s put herself to bed excited to start a new chapter in life.  You all, she is actually excited….like really excited.  Now that is BRAVE.  She is going to slay at this thing called life.  And if my 11 year old can be brave like that, so can I.  Sometimes we can all take a queue from our kids.

There are good things about the kids getting older, too.  This year, for the first time ever, I actually enjoyed back to school shopping.  We took an entire weekend and just shopped ’til we dropped.  I didn’t allow myself to be in a hurry.  I didn’t allow myself to constantly say “no.”  I was present with no outside distractions.  There were so many belly laughs and so many good memories made.   It made me realize how, I may not have babies any more, but I’m gaining bestfriends.  This stage is new and different and I’m not totally sure how to navigate it sometimes, but we will survive and we will thrive.  Although I’d rather talk about bottles and blankies than boobs and pubes, I know that this too is part of my job and we’ll make our way through it.

All my love and hugs to you mommas who are sending your ‘babies’ back to school.

XOXO

Jill

 

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The Hidden Danger Of Splash Parks! The Incident That Landed Us In The E.R.

Ok, I’ll be the first one to admit it; I am the safety queen!  I’m always analyzing risk and calculating hazards in my head.  There is constantly data running through my brain – sometimes I drive myself crazy.  I’d say this is mostly a side effect from my day job and, honestly, it makes my husband want to jump off a cliff at times; but here I am still living the worried mom life.  I used to be wild & care free and now I’ve somehow turned into that “be careful mom” that frets over everything (you know who you are!)  The mom who’s always yelling “BE CAREFUL” any time your kid does something even remotely dangerous and you stand there with your eyes closed just praying they’ll land safely.

Well, last week I told my sweet momma that she should take the kids to the splash park one afternoon….”it’ll be fun,” I said.   Famous.last.words.  While they were there, she had sent me a few sweet pictures of the kids playing in the water, splashing around.  My first thought was “WOW!  That water is spraying REALLY high.”  But, I’ve vowed to try to be more relaxed about things so i just let it go, looked at the pictures and smiled.   (I assumed I was just overthinking things again.)  Fast forward about an hour and I get a panicked FaceTime call.  Baby girl was crying so hard i couldn’t understand her and her eye was swollen shut.  (Ok, now I’m allowed to internally panic, right?!)

{Seriously though, look at the height and pressure of this water!  My oldest daughter is around 4’10” and it’s nearly twice as tall as her!}

So, as luck would have it, my youngest daughter (who just turned 4 and is much more vertically challenged) decided to lean over and look down at the ground right as one of the timed, pressurized water sprinklers went off.  The blast of high pressure water took her right in the eye and since she’s much closer to the ground, it hit her with a lot of force!  It immediately gave her a black eye and her eye began to swell shut.  Long story short, we rushed her to the urgent care because our main concern was eye damage or vision problems.  After they painted her eye balls with this orange serum and flashed all these different lights into her eyes, it was finally determined that they think she will be just fine (PRAISE THE LORD!)  They think the main impact of the water hit her check bone, just centimeters below her eye ball (truly a miracle!)  But talk about a scary wait and lots of praying.   Poor girl was just having fun.

Now, I’m in NO way saying to not ever take your kids to the splash park again – I’m really not!  BUT, I did feel like it was important to share this so hopefully other parents won’t go through the stress that we felt!  Be sure to educate your small children about not looking down or make them wear goggles (I’m ok with my kids looking like nerds at the splash park).  Anything to protect those precious little eyes!!  I mean, honestly, there is just no way that we are the only family this has happened to.

Prayers for a safe summer my friends.

XOXO

Jill

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Major Life Hacks From A Military Momma! How To Streamline The Moving Process And Make Friends Easily!

 

My name is Lorin Beier, and I’ve been married to an Air Force pilot for 11 years. We’ve moved 8 times to 6 cities and one foreign country. At any given time, I’ve got friends on just about every continent, in 10+ countries. We’ve got 3 kids who were born in Alabama, Japan and Georgia; and one on the way.

 

Over the years, I’ve gained some insight that I want to share with you! How about some moving tips?!

 

Moving Tips

  1. Valuables in your trunk! Our first set of movers taught us that. Jewelry, personal papers, etc.  Keep those in your possession!
  2. Plastic totes. We bought 30 from Big Lots and they lasted us through 4 moves and we lent them to a friend for her move as well. It was a tad expensive to do, but I really don’t have to save or buy new boxes every move.
  3. If you prepack, use your linens! Also, paper plates in between your dishes works great.
  4. Label your boxes by room. Make sure the movers place the boxes in the correct room at the new house. It’ll make the unpacking way easier.
  5. Take out your trash. They will pack it. Including dirty diapers {gag.}. I remember thinking surely, they know there’s TRASH in the cans, but if it’s not nailed to the floor, it’s gotta go in the truck or the crate. They’ll also pack drain stoppers, the rack in the dishwasher, and water hoses with water still in there. But heaven forbid they pack non-perishables.

 

Making new friends

In the military spouse world, we call this friend dating. Often times when you get somewhere you have to decide on someone very quickly to be your go-to person for those emergency contacts.

 

  1. Find a church!! And look what social opportunities they have. Whether it’s a mom’s group, playgroup, bible study or couples social group.
  2. Ask ol’ Facebook who you already know in the new location. An option would be to search for ‘Name of City’ Play group, or Mom’s Group.
  3. Once you get your kids in activities, try to recognize other parents who are there often and introduce yourself.
  4. Try to befriend your kids’ friends’ parents at school.
  5. Good golly, go meet your neighbors. Nothing says hello like a box of cookies! We have an inflatable, when we blow it up in the front yard, kids come out of the woodwork.  Great way to meet their parents too!

 

How to help kids adjust

This might be the hardest thing. Sure it’s hard on you leaving familiarity, friends and comfort zone. But, depending on kids’ ages, it’ll be nothing or the hardest thing they’ve ever gone through. And I think it all depends on your kids, their maturity level and your parenting skills.

 

  1. Start early. I will prepare them for an upcoming move several months in advance. Sometimes I know where we’re going, sometimes not. But we will play the “what type of house” will we live in next game. My son’s vote is a red pizza cabin mountain house. My daughter thinks it’ll be a yellow beach house.
  2. Look up their school and find an activity they can join. Special interest groups are instant friends with similar likes.
  3. Google the new city and what to expect. Will there be mountains or a beach? How about an aquarium or skating rink? Of course, find a Mexican restaurant, cause mama needs a margarita.
  4. Find fun things to do. For the first several weekends we will pretend to be tourists. Go find fun places, parks and restaurants, no chains!
  5. If you get farewells, I’d suggest giving stationary and switching addresses; so the kids can have a pen pal. Shoot, that would be great as an adult. It’s really cool at Christmas time getting cards from all over the world.

 

I know the inevitable will happen and the kids will get sad. My daughter is 6.5 and I think this is her first move out of 5, that she fully understands what is happening. Best advice I ever got was to let the kids be sad. Let them cry and feel the weight of the moment. But its really important that they don’t stay there. Kids are more resilient than you think.  It’s going to be fine, momma!

Guest Contributor & World Traveler,

Lorin Beier

 

 

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I Don’t Have Babies Anymore And I’m Not Quite Sure What To Do With Myself!

 

As I sit back and reflect on our lives over the last few months, and all the adventures we’ve gotten into, it suddenly hit me (like a wrecking ball) that I don’t have babies anymore.  And honestly, that hurts my momma heart.  Like, a whole lot.  Our kids seem to be growing at rapid speed.  Our oldest is nearly as tall as I am and her maturity level is off the charts.  Our tiny love  has surpassed all the “baby milestones” and looks much more like a little girl than a toddler.  Right now we have two kids playing soccer and one kid playing volleyball….and one mom coaching volleyball (which really just means that I can’t skip anything.  Don’t even think about judging me, y’all know exactly what I’m talking about.)  We live at ballfields, community centers and dance studios.  Our weekends come and go and we barely see our home because someone always has something going on.  Life seems to move in fast forward.  Recently I’ve been really looking at my children and trying to soak it all in.  Some mornings it’s like they wake up and i can tell they grew over night.  It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

We have one child going in to middle school this fall while another child will register for Pre-K.  I feel like I just had them.  Yes, both of them.  Where did the time go?  Not only do i realize how much they’re growing, but i also realize that I’m getting older as well.  Where’s the young, dumb 25 year old with the infant?!?  How have i been a mother for over a decade?  How am I turning 35 this summer?!?  Am i really done having babies?!  Is that portion of my life really over?!  While it sounds like I’m having a mid-life crisis over here, not to worry, I’m just processing all the random emotions that us mommas have to work through.  We dream our whole lives about the families that we’re going to have then once we’re actually in that situation, it all happens so fast that we can’t really fully enjoy it.

I wish i had all the answers and could tell you how to freeze time, but unfortunately, i don’t have those kinds of magical powers.  I do know that I’m realizing how important it is to unplug and be present; not just sometimes but all the time.  To listen to every crazy, long-winded story; to get in the floor and crawl around like a puppy dog and to play ball in the yard like you have no chores that need completed.  These are all things that we, as parents, would normally put off because we “don’t have time.”  But honestly, the older I get, the more I realize that the chores can wait but my children can’t!  They’re only little for so long.

Each day I’m forced to let go just a little more.  To let them walk a little farther away from me in the store, to let them sit at their own restaurant table with their friends, and to let them choose their own outfits and hairstyles (even when I most definitely disagree with their styling choices!!)  They’re only mine for a little while and I’m realizing that more each day.  This part is probably the most heartbreaking of all.  Who will I be when they’re grown and gone?!  We bring these tiny little bundles of joy into the world and vow to protect them from all evils.  We nurture them and hold them close, but letting go will definitely be the biggest hurdle we have to climb.

As I pave my way into becoming ‘middle aged’ and begin to tread the waters of being the momma to a Middle Schooler, I am reminded that each day is a blessing.  And even if I don’t have babies anymore, I know that they need me just as much now as they always have.  They just need me in different ways.  I may be taking the backseat for a while, but i’ll always be their biggest fan.  The truth is, I’m as lost as they are, but we’ll figure it out together….one laugh and cry at a time.

XOXO

Jill

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Some of My Favorite Christmas Sweets and Treats for Every Occasion!

For the Big Guy in the Red Suit:

If you have been watching the Food Network over the past couple of weeks, you have seen a million different recipes to make a party special/get into the holiday spirit/surprise Santa (does anyone really think Santa has time to sit down and enjoy a raspberry galette while delivering presents to all the children around the whole world in one night??). If you want something a bit different than cookies, but will still travel well and satisfy Old St. Nick, try Christmas Crack!

Photo Cred: Gal on a Mission

My Aunt Nancy introduced us to this delicious treat a couple of years ago and I was hooked at first bite! It is a great treat to keep around the house to munch on or spread the holiday spirit to your neighbors. (Shock! Horror! I may actually get to know a neighbor.)

 

For Your Child’s Class:

We all want to be that parent that brings the tasty, yet somewhat healthy treat that brings just the right amount of Christmas cheer to the classroom.  *Insert* Fruit Kabobs and Santa Hat Brownies!

Photo Cred: Daisy’s World

Both of these treats were easy to put together (tip for the santa hat brownies: buy the mini brownie bites, add a strawberry, put some icing in a sandwich bag, snip the corner and use it as a piping bag, make a circle of icing around the strawberry and a dot on top). It seemed like most of the kids popped off the strawberry, ate it and threw away the rest. Ha.

 

For the Dips and Desserts Party:

Some of my best holiday memories are making the next dessert – Pecan Tassies!

Photo Cred: Hi Cookery

These mini pecan pies are SOOOO tasty and taste better and better throughout the week. I can’t remember a Christmas without them.

As I started looking through family recipes (and had some major #fails as I tried recreating them), I think what makes them so special are the memories of flour all over the kitchen, feeling exhausted after adding the first ingredients and watching my mom finish the rest (he he), back and forth arguments with my brother about what dessert/how to make it/who would eat the most, my dad eating the lion’s portion of the sweet treats, and everyone passing out on the couch with a plate of tasty cookies/brownies/cake and watching Christmas movies or playing games.

This makes me think about my family of four and the traditions we will create. My son is super into baking right now (which I LOVE) and I am soaking up every minute of it. We have made enough cakes/cookies/muffins to last the whole year!

What are your favorite family traditions and tasty recipes?? Do you have something special that you wouldn’t miss this holiday season?

Here’s to the next few weeks of sweets and treats!

XOXO,

Lauren

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7 Cringeworthy Phrases Every Mom Dreads

 

Whether your child is 2 or 22, there are just certain phrases that every mom has heard that makes her cringe before she even spots the damage! Here are what we think make the top 7 on the LONG list of cringeworthy phrases we hear as mothers:

 

1.” Your child has been exposed to Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease” – NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Where did this dreadful disease come from and why does it hit the schools at the most inopportune time?!  It’s always when you have big plans; it never fails.  That ‘parents only’ trip you were taking this weekend…yeah – it’s cancelled!

 

2. “I think I’m going to throw up” (or in our house, it’s usually just the dreaded gagging sound) – Of course, you are always in the car when this happens. First it’s the dry heaving, then the kid leans into the cough?! “Come on! Stop trying to throw up, kid!” As you drive 90 mph down the interstate trying to pull off like it’s the Daytona 500 and you’re going in for a pit stop.  Literally jumping out from the car while it’s still rolling.  Nothing raises your heart rate quite like this situation.

 

3. “[Child’s name] tell your mom what happened in class today” – it’s the dreaded teacher’s note for bad behavior.  Or even worse- when you see the school phone number pop up on your Caller ID in the middle of the work day.  Your heart immediately races as you imagine that your child has experienced the worst playground injury of all time.  This literally sends shivers down our spines.  Whether the issue is big or small, the anticipation is a nightmare. (Then sometimes you find out that your child pulled down his pants on the playground and peed on a tiny patch of grass and basically you want to frame the “incident report” or file it away for the wedding slide show.)

 

 

4. “You have been selected to be in charge of the class Christmas Party” – This is especially fun when you have to coordinate with other parents who don’t really want to participate.  Everyone wants to bring plates and cups and no one else is available to bring anything else.  Except for the lady who would be glad to provide cucumber sandwiches for 3 year olds.  {Insert eye roll.}  Thanks, Deborah.  I’m sure those will go over just swell with the toddlers.

 

 

5. “Your child had a blow-out” – Usually you can tell this right away because your kid is not in the same clothes you sent them to school in. Even more fun is when this happens at home. You know what I’m talking about.  When it literally runs all the way to their shoes and you have to practically hose them off in the yard.  It’s like a total hazmat situation up in here!  Yeah, that’s my favorite.  Sometimes, you just want to burn all those clothes and start over.

 

6. “I need a cup of water” – You all know exactly what we’re talking about – the bedtime stall routine. You put your toddler to bed five times and they keep reappearing needing things like water, snacks, hugs, and want to know the meaning of life. We’ve recently been hearing it all, including needing “fresh water”. What are you? A barn animal?!  This isn’t the Ritz Carlton and I’m not your bellhop!  Get back in bed!

 

 

7. “No!  Stop!  MOOOOOOOOOM” {Insert lots of blood curdling screaming!} – Two words: sibling rivalry. It’s the dreaded shrieking from the other room when you don’t know what’s going on or who has been harmed. You’re not quite sure what you’re going to walk in on and you just want to put yourself in timeout, so you don’t have to deal with it! #ITapOut

 

I feel like my blood pressure is elevated just writing these phrases. Ha. What are your dreaded phrases? (We know you have them….)

 

Here’s to a cringe-free week (and even if it’s not, know you are not alone!!)

 

XOXO,

Jill + Lauren

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Super Simple, Yet Delicious, Chicken Casserole That Your Kids Will Actually Eat

 

If your kids are anything like mine, then meal time can be challenging.  As my kids have gotten older, their taste buds have definitely expanded, but this recipe has been one of their favorites since they were both tiny.   Best part is, it’s quick and easy to prepare.  Below are the items you’ll need:

 

  1. 1 Bag/package of frozen or thawed chicken breasts (I use the 3 lb or 5 lb frozen bags.)
  2. 1 Can of Cream of Celery Soup
  3. 1 Can of Cream of Chicken Soup
  4. 1 Box of Stove Top
  5. 4 Tablespoons of flour
  6. 1 cup of milk

 

  • To start out, I make my chicken in the crockpot.  I usually put the chicken in the crockpot before I leave for work.  I cook the chicken on low for 6-8 hours, so it’s completely cooked when I get home.  (You could also cook the chicken in an instant pot or pressure cooker for a quicker option.)
  • Once your chicken is cooked, in a saucepan, on the stove top, combine 1 cup of cream of chicken soup, 1 cup of cream of celery soup, 4 tablespoons of flour, and one cup of milk.  Stir gently and often (be careful not to let this burn – it heats up quickly.)  Warm this mixture over medium heat, and stir thoroughly, until all “clumps” have disappeared.
  • Shred your chicken, either by hand or with your KitchenAid Mixer, then spread the shredded chicken all over the bottom of a baking dish (or cake pan for a larger serving.)  Completely cover the bottom of the dish with shredded chicken.
  • Pour the warm soup mixture over top of the shredded chicken.  Completely cover the chicken with the soup mixture.
  • Pop the casserole baking dish in the oven.  Oven should be heated at 350 degrees.  Baking time should be roughly 25-30 minutes depending on your oven.  (Mixture will appear more firm when it’s done with a golden brown tent.)
  • Make Stove Top stuffing, per the Stove Top directions on the box.
  • Once stuffing is complete, pour the stuffing on top of the casserole.
  • Cool and serve.

 

I usually serve our chicken casserole with green beans and a salad.  (The kids prefer fruit over salad, because well….they’re kids.)  This meal is always a huge hit at our house!

For super picky kids, I suggest that you “mix up” the casserole on their plate, rather than leaving the stuffing on the top.  If you mix it all together, the soup takes over and makes it look more like creamy chicken rather than casserole.

Kid tested, Mother Approved.

 

 

XOXO

Jill

PS:  Also, if you notice, we broke out the fine china for this dinner.  (I should probably be embarrassed, but i’m not.  Didn’t have to do dishes that night – total mom win!)  And yes, my oldest was eating on the couch.  We keep things really classy ’round here.

 

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The Weekly Downward Spiral – Mom Edition

Whether you are a working mom, stay-at-home mom, or somewhere in-between, you are probably like us, and feel like your ability to get everyone out the door, fed, dressed, and happy, becomes a slow downward spiral throughout the week!

With the help of my artistic hubs, here is a look how every mom has felt throughout the week, at one time or another:

 

MONDAY

We’re feeling pretty good! We packed snacks and lunch for the kids the night before and the backpacks are laid out, with all of the necessities. All outfits are ironed and hair is fixed. We’re on time and everyone is happy. Our outfit is on point, we have our coffee in hand and we’re ready to take on the week!

 

TUESDAY

Welp, we hit that snooze button an extra time which has left us scrambling to find one of the kid’s science homework, soccer gear for practice after school and matching outfits. It was a little hairy there for a minute, but we got it together. We know that Dad is picking up/making dinner tonight, so we can breathe a sigh of relief.

 

WEDNESDAY

So, catching up on Game of Thrones or Fixer Upper last night wasn’t the best idea. We are rushing around to feed and clothe the small humans in our homes; while trying to make sure we look presentable for that client meeting/PTA/play date. Of course, on top of everything else, there are several spilled cereal, leaky bottle and knotted hair incidents. Everyone seems grouchy but after a rousing car-karoke rendition of “Let It Go”, everyone is back on track. Thank goodness for that frozen Rocco’s lasagna in the freezer (a bag of salad makes that a well-balanced meal right?)!

 

THURSDAY

O.M.G. is it only Thursday?! This is a ponytail/bun hair day FOR SURE. Between the kids eating breakfast in the car and putting makeup on in the rear view, this day is off with a bang. The screaming and crying in the backseat is just about enough to make you “pull over”, but you keep it together and profusely apologize to the teachers for the the tardies. By the end of the day, you are pretty well spent. This calls for take-out, baths, and then we’re ready to fall out.

 

FRIDAY

Am I sleep-walking?! Are these screaming banshees my kids? Did I wear this outfit this week? Does my hair look THAT bad? As we are dragging our kids to the car, we are on auto-pilot. We hope the kids got to the right classrooms, with the right backpacks/lunch boxes. We remember, at the last minute, to turn in the after-care forms and then race to work. At some point throughout the day, we start to perk up – IT’S FRIDAY!!! Excitement turns into adrenaline, as we decide where we are going to eat tonight, who is coming to the tailgate tomorrow, what family fun can we get into.

 

Life is coming at us fast and furious, and mommas we feel you! We’ve all been there and will be there again. We hope you had a great long-weekend!!

 

Tell us your funniest or most memorable “downward spiral” moments! We love hearing from you. Also, be sure to subscribe, to get the latest from Glitter Jungle.

 

XOXO,

Lauren

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