Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Follower Q&A #1

Q: How do you find the time to blog with everything else going on in your life?

A: I literally have to make the time. I've always enjoyed writing. It's my escape. It's my way of working through difficult situations. It's also my way of self-expression. Until just recently I'd completely forgotten my love for writing. I'm the type that gets super excited about receiving snail mail. I actually still hand write letters and cards to my grandparents; there's just something so special and powerful in those written words.

When I first opened my personal FB account, 9 years ago, I used it as a sort of diary for a while: "Danette is...heading to the movies with Ken tonight!" OR "Danette is...feeling nervous about our first appointment with our midwives this afternoon." Every single one of my friends on FB knew every second of my life; it was too much. When I became a mom in 2010 and the normal, every day of motherhood became the new priority in my life, FB took a backseat. It was truly a blessing in disguise. I can't tell you how many times, over the last 9 years, I'd sit down to check my e-mail or quickly scroll through FB and suddenly, 3 hours later, dinner had yet to be started and the dog was begging to be let out. Oops...there went 3 hours of my life I'd never get back again. So in the last couple of years I've limited my social media use, saving my posts for those all-too-important moments that family and friends across the country wouldn't want to miss.

But those "snippets" of our life aren't always enough. My true friends and family know they're missing so much of our lives in between the random FB posts about Girl Scout events and school activities. There was a lot more behind those one or two sentence thoughts posted for the FB world to see and I wanted to let it all be known, put it all out there...so I knew what I needed to do..."I'm going to start a blog," I told my husband one evening at dinner. "That's a great idea," he said "you love to write and you always have something to say." Thanks Babe ha! However, the big question was, how in the world was I going to incorporate this into my never-ending schedule? Not everything I have to say is prepared and ready in my head at all times. I was going to need time to gather my thoughts and to edit my posts and I was already lacking extra time in my life as it was. For a split second, it felt like I was adding another chore to the list and that's exactly what I didn't want this blog to turn into, another checklist item, so I evaluated my schedule and figured out that dedicating an hour to my writing after the kiddos went to bed wasn't a huge sacrifice from my Me Time in the evenings.

During the week our children are in bed no later than 8pm. Some evenings it's a bit earlier, around 7:30, but typically it's closer to 8. Ken and I usually go to bed around 11, so for 3 hours I have the freedom to read, watch TV, catch up on the laundry, tidy the house, clean the kitchen, start the dishwasher, sometimes I talk to my mom and sister, and now I have an hour to dedicate to writing. So, to let you in on a little secret, the blog posts you read on a day-to-day basis are usually written the evening before. 

I am truly so excited over the outcome of my blog. So far, it's exactly what I had envisioned in my head. I am always looking for feedback, though, so if there's something you don't like or something you think I should do differently or even something you don't see that you'd like me to blog about, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm brand new to this and just learning the ropes, but I do have you all to thank for your continuous support and for the growth of my blog in such a short amount of time. If it weren't for you guys, there wouldn't be a blog, it'd quite simply be a diary, so thank you all from the bottom of my heart...

...and for those of you who may also be on the fence about starting something new in your own lives, take my advice...make the time! It's the least you can do for yourself.

*Have a question you'd like to ask? Something you'd like to know more about? Send me a message! I'd love to hear from you and I'm happy to answer your questions.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Rollo Family General Store: Blanket Ladder

     As most of you should already know from my earlier posts, as soon as our offer was accepted on our new house, the wheels began spinning in my head. At that time, I lived and breathed Pinterest and interior decorating. Actually, who am I kidding? I still do, but that's not the point. As my list of ideas grew longer and longer, the dollar signs became bigger and bigger, so to accommodate my expensive taste and Joanna Gaines style, my husband decided to turn part of our basement into a workshop. With every purchase I made, delivered to our home, Ken would study and inspect each piece and set to work replicating it. 

     The rustic blanket ladder was one of my first purchases for our new house. I am a sucker for collecting a variety of cozy, decorative blankets. No matter the time of year, you can almost always find me cuddled beneath one with a good book or perusing Netflix or OnDemand. I wanted a creative, eye-catching way to display my blankets and while browsing Pinterest one day, I came across the idea of a blanket ladder. I quickly set to work locating a seller on Etsy that made ladders like the one I was envisioning in my head. I finally came across the perfect ladder. It cost me a total of $88 and that included shipping. Although I'm in love with the ladder I chose, Ken on the other hand, was not happy with the price, so he dedicated his time and efforts in creating his own blanket ladder. 

     Over the years, Ken has had many hobbies, including golfing, bowling, shooting, fishing, and now finally, wood-working. When he finds an interest in something, he most certainly puts his heart and soul into it. I never thought he'd ever find something he enjoys more than shooting and fishing, but he has proven me completely wrong. He has truly blown me away with his skill and craftsmanship. His blanket ladder is strikingly similar to the one I purchased from Etsy. It stands exactly 5ft tall and is made from Douglas fir wood with a dark walnut finish, but can be customized to your liking. This one is $45 with free local pick-up/delivery. 

     This is only the beginning of this new adventure for us. Our inventory is on the rise and once we have enough in stock, we plan to take our homemade treasures to local farmer's markets and craft fairs and maybe even take to Etsy ourselves. Keep your eyes out for other projects that I'll be posting to my blog upon their completion. He has some very unique and beautiful pieces he's currently working on. For local friends and followers, we plan to have various items available for sale, at our home on the weekends from Spring-Fall, so keep your eye out for our "Open" sign and when it's on display, feel free to stop on over and take a look. 

General Store Hours:
Saturday & Sunday: 9am-4pm (Spring - Fall; closed during the winter to re-stock inventory)
Available by phone, text, or private messages 24/7

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Just Breathe

     So yesterday's blog post reminded me of a funny parenting story I have. Although not at all funny at that exact moment a year ago, it was still a pivotal turning point in motherhood for me.

     At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with my third baby. The glorious thing about already having a son and a daughter was the fact that I got to sit back and enjoy this pregnancy with no pressure to buy a lot of things or stock up on clothes. The only item that we were adamant about buying, new, was an infant car seat. We had purchased our daughter's, brand new, about 6 years prior, so it was time for a new one. The nervous nelly momma in me did all of my research and finally settled on the one I wanted, however, I wanted to see it in person, first, before purchasing it on-line and Target (surprise, surprise) had one in stock that I wanted to go take a look at.

     So one sunny, Sunday morning, I had the bright idea to pack up my kiddos and head to Target to check out this car seat. Our closest Target was about 15 minutes from our old house so I utilized those 15 minutes doing what any other pregnant mother with two older kids would do, we went over the rules for Target and the behavior I expected of them. I mean, I legit spent every second of that car ride drilling them with threats. You know the ones I'm talking about...

* If you want to walk, stay close to the cart. If you run off, you'll be in the cart quicker than a flash of lightning.

* We're going in for one thing and one thing only.

* If anyone throws a fit, you my non-napping children, will be taking a nap when we get home. End of story.

     I parked the car and turned off the engine...ready...set...crap, what have I gotten myself into...aaaaaand GO!

     The kids were absolute angels...while walking into the store. We all held hands, singing and skipping in together...ok, there was no singing or skipping but you get the point. We grabbed a cart at the front and continued our way past The Dollar Spot. No sooner had we passed the Target Treasure Chest of all-things-worth-a-dollar than both of my lovely little darlings darted off in opposite directions: one into the women's bathing suits and the other into women's intimates. I plastered a smile on my face, took a deep breath, and muttered under my breath, "You've got to be kidding me." I gave my daughter a look from hell. Luckily with her, one look, and she knows I mean business, so she high-tailed it back to the cart at record speed. My son, on the other hand, is the most fearless child I know. Losing us in the store was the least of his worries. I chased that kid down the best I could with my swollen, pregnant belly, huffing and puffing and purple in the face, still gritting my teeth and smiling away at passersby. "I got this everybody, no need to offer help of any kind and certainly no need to panic," I thought to myself.

     Once I wrangled his strong, 3 year old tush into the cart, I heaved a huge sigh of relief and sped to the baby section as fast as humanly possible. We were nearing meltdown mode, I could feel it and at this point that's all it would've taken to make me completely lose my you-know-what. "5 minutes...5 minutes...just 5 minutes to check this car seat out and get the hell out of here," I kept telling myself. 

     Upon our arrival to the car seat aisle, my son announced, at the top of his lungs, "MOMMY! I NEED TO POOP!" Good....Lord...Almighty...are you kidding me?!?! We've been in the store for under 5 minutes!!!!! Another huge breath...in...out...just breathe. "Mommy is almost done and we'll stop at the potty on our way out," I calmly replied through gritted teeth. "BUT I NEED TO POOP REALLLLLLY BAAAAAAD, MOM!" Done...done...just done, throwing my hands in the air. What was I even thinking trying to do this by myself?! I start high-tailing it back towards the front where the bathrooms are located and I get my son out of the cart so I can return the red, plastic cage-of-safety. No sooner had his feet hit the ground then he was off running...again! With my heart racing and tears stinging my eyes, I chased that kid down for the final time that day and carried him, kicking and screaming in the football hold, out to the van. Oh the looks of pity coming from those passing us by, on their way into Target, looking all smug and excited for their new purchases. They made me want to spit fire. "Look away! Just keep on walking and mind your own business!" I sneered at each and every one of them, under my breath, as I marched myself and my crew to the privacy and quiet of our minivan. I hit the sliding door button, placed my children inside, climbed in myself, and shut the door behind us. For the following three minutes I had the best cry of my life while my children bawled along with me. I was embarrassed, exhausted, and defeated, because I didn't even get what I came for. 

     When the last tear was shed, I took a final deep, cleansing breath (oh my prenatal yoga instructor would've been so proud of me), climbed into the driver's seat, and said to my children, "When you choose to behave that way in the store, you go home." I then turned MY music up, held my head up high, and drove home singing the Pretenders' "I'll Stand By You" at the top of my lungs with the quiet, sniffling of my children coming from the backseat. 

     The moral of this story is that I, along with many of you I'm sure, are guilty of empty threats. But this time, my friends, I stood my ground. My children and their awful behavior were not going to win! Did I get what I needed from Target that day? No. I ended up blindly ordering the car seat on-line knowing I could return it if I didn't like it, but that's not the point. The point is...my children have NEVER acted like that in Target again. That's right...I won fair and square...high five y'all! All hail the strong moms who have finally had enough and have put their foot down for good! Amen!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lead Me to the Village

     I'm going to take a moment to get a little more serious with you today and explain one of the reasons behind starting my blog. I have appeared, as a guest blogger, on my dear friend, Katie's page several times. The most recent post I wrote for her is something that has weighed heavily on my chest for quite a while.

     First of all, I met Katie in a June Mommy Group on FB. Funny I should mention social media, as I'll be further discussing it later in this blog. I was and still am so grateful for her friendship. We were shoulders for each other to cry on during our difficult pregnancies and we continue to be a source of companionship and support as we deal with the everyday of motherhood.

     So...as a mother of three, I should be able to sit here and say "Been there, done that" or "This is a walk in the park," but the truth is, that couldn't be further from the truth. Just as every single one of us is unique and different, so is every single pregnancy and every single child. Motherhood. is. HARD! There...I said it. I can almost hear the gasps coming from my social media "friends" and followers. "What does she mean 'it's hard'? She always seems to have it all together?" NOPE! N-O-P-E! Just like every other person on FB, Twitter, and Snapchat, my posts and pictures are snapshots of my life; snippets of the whole picture. Of course I'm sugar coating and scrutinizing over every single post and picture I make public. "Why?" you ask...because social media has become nothing but a judgment zone. From a mother's perspective, posting to these sites is very similar to being thrown out in the middle of the Colosseum in Rome, just awaiting the moment we're ripped apart by savage beasts. When did motherhood become something judged and criticized, rather than supported by those who supposedly love and care about us? 

     I'm apart of several FB groups and I've played witness to the awful, threatening, bullying behavior of fellow parents that leaves a lump in my throat. Why must we treat each other this way? Aren't we ALL trying to figure this whole parenthood thing out? "What may work for one, might not work for another," isn't that what they say? Or "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." I've watched as people are ripped apart on these sites, families destroyed, and it literally makes me sick. What happened to supporting each other as parents and women? Why is it that we feel better tearing each other down than building each other up?

     Sadly, it's not just social media either. These "Mommy Wars," as they're so sadly called, are everywhere. It's downright terrible. Isn't that half of the problem of being a parent? Needing someone or somewhere to turn to when you've hit rock bottom and all you want to do is cry? We've all been there, believe me. There should be safe places for us to turn to, where others will support you and guide you in the right direction instead of looking to tear you down even more. We need to do a better job of being "that village" that it takes to raise our children. I truthfully think twice about every single thing I post or even discuss in public, because you never know who will attack you or throw you under the bus for being honest and for being the best mother to your children that you can possibly be. 

     Everywhere I turn these days, it's bottle vs breast milk, immunizing vs non-immunizing, disposable diapers vs cloth diapers, co-sleeping vs CIO, organic vs non-organic, homemade vs fast food, baby carriers vs strollers, circumcision vs intact, vaginal vs cesarean deliveries and EVERYTHING...literally E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G is a competition! Whose baby is walking/talking/crawling first? Whose school is better? Whose child is more active in the community? Please just stop. It's literally disgusting what parenting children in this day and age is truly like. It makes me so sad and it's utterly exhausting being made to feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses! But believe me, the Joneses are human too. The Joneses, ladies and gentlemen, are not perfect!

     Absolutely nothing about raising my children is a competition and absolutely none of mine nor my husband's choices, for our own babies, make us any better or worse than the rest you. Why can't we be that "village" that each of us so desperately needs? Sometimes all that means is knowing you have people in your life who love you and support you and know that you are doing the best job that you can possibly do.

     Aren't WE supposed to be the role models for OUR children? Aren't we all raising our children to be kind and respectful human beings? I know I am. How, in any way, is being cruel, judgmental, and a downright bully teaching our children kindness? You never know the battles someone is fighting in their private lives. Can't we all just be nice to one another? In starting this blog, I'm hoping to make a small difference. This is a judgment-free zone. The things I write about are raw and real. There are certainly happy times, but there are also sad times and everything in between. I will write about it all. 

     So please know that as your friend, family member, or even as a stranger walking down the street, I am in no place to judge the decisions you've made for you and your family. I'm here to say, I'm so happy you're in my life. I am so blessed to know you. I support you. I am here for you. 

     I am the furthest thing from perfect. I am still learning what it takes to be a parent. My children will continue teaching me new things for as long as I am their mother. This adventure we're on is nothing but a day-to-day trial and error game. Sometimes my children devour the fruit I bring home before I even have a chance to wash it...<gasp>....sometimes the video monitor dies in the middle of the night and I awake at 6:30 unsure whether my baby fussed for me during the night...<gasp>...sometimes my children go days without a bath...<gasp>...that's right! I'm human, just like the Joneses, but I can guarantee you that no matter what the decisions are that you make for your family, whether they be similar or very different from my own, that we can, as parents, agree on one thing:

We are doing the best we can! Our babies are fed, our babies are cared for, and our babies are loved!

*Disclaimer: I feel like this goes without saying, but there are some truly awful, ugly, evil people in this world that abuse and neglect their own children. In no way, shape or form, am I talking about these individuals in this blog post. They don't deserve a second thought.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

History on Main Pt. 1

     Considering the age of our home, you'd think that we walked into a complete gut job, however, I must say that the previous owner (whom we had the pleasure to meet at our closing; we'll refer to him as W) took such amazing care of this house. There are certainly things we've changed or plan to change to suit our style and make it more of our own, but truthfully the house is in wonderful condition. When you take pride in and care for the place that you call home, it is truly felt and seen in the eyes of everyone that walks through the front door. The outpouring of love, support, and compliments we've received, thus far, on our new home fills me with so much pride, as I know I'm doing right by this house and everyone before us that loved this home just as much as we do.

     The couple that owned our house before us purchased it back in 1985. They raised 3 children, here, as well. W's wife had a stroke about two years ago and passed away shortly afterward and with three grown children who had all moved to Florida, such a big house became more of a burden to W, who really didn't need all of this space anymore, so with an aching heart, he put it on the market. With the money he made from the sale of the house, he bought a small condo down in Florida to be closer to his children and grandchildren. I can't imagine how hard it was to let go of something that served such a huge part of his family's life, but he's with his family now, which can't be beat. I hope, someday, he makes a trip back up here and stops by to say "hello." I'd love to show him the transformations we've made and show him just how much we truly care for this house that meant so much to him.

     Although W is quite a bit older, he sure was a spritely man, wearing a big ol' cowboy hat and cowboy boots to match, when we met him in the office on the day of our closing. You don't often see western wear, like that, here in Connecticut. It took me back to memories of my paternal Grandfather and Great-Grandfather, both named Don, with their Texas drawls; true Texan cowboys! From the moment we met W, it just felt right.

     W shared some really cute stories with us, about the house, that I love being able to relay to you all:

* There is this adorable little nook in our master bedroom (keep your eyes out as the MB is currently a work in progress). W and his wife set up a little antique ice cream parlor table and chair set in that nook and would read the newspaper, while enjoying their coffees, every single Sunday morning. Something about that image just warms my heart. 

* There was also the time, back in the 70's, that W had an addition put on to the back of the house. That addition is now currently our sunroom. A crawl space had to be added to the basement in order for the builders to access the addition as they were working. Well, once the project was complete, the crawl space remained open and accessible through the basement and W and his wife would allow their children to play in there and use the crawl space walls as canvases when they were growing up. Their beautiful artwork and little secret notes can be viewed throughout the first level of our home. We don't ever plan to cover or remove them; it's little, special tokens like that, that make the history of our house.

     I used to hate history, as ironic as that sounds, but the older I get, the more I truly appreciate it. I'm currently working on another project for the house that has a lot to do with the history of our street, Main St. I've met some incredibly knowledgeable and kind people throughout my research and work for this project and I value the time I've been able to spend with each of them. This house and this town have so many stories to tell...just you wait!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Farmhouse Chores

     Just as children rely heavily on and function better with a routine, so do I. In truth, I become extremely overwhelmed by the amount of housework that comes with having 3 young children. It is a lot of work being the Main Operating Manager (MOM) that runs a family. With every child we've had, the housework nearly doubles. Then add my daycare business to the mix and I'm suddenly drowning in household responsibilities. So on several different occasions, we have tried hiring help, but even that is costly and, at the end of the day, I was still left with a feeling of dissatisfaction, because it wasn't being  done by me, myself, and I...I know, I know...what am I? Crazy, right? This is a real concern that I have about myself. I am a perfectionist. When Ken steps up and pitches in and it's not done the way I like it to be done, I redo it, in turn wasting his time and efforts and making more work for myself. I just prefer doing things myself and I depend so much on order and routine that I knew I needed to come up with a plan of action; a schedule of sorts that would help ease the burden of my endless To Do List, making it easier and allowing me to actually get it done.

     The schedule above is the final product after years of trial and error; this is the schedule that works best for me and my family. Some people prefer to put off housework until the weekend and then spend an entire Saturday or Sunday cleaning. I used to be this way...before kids. I used to knock out all of the housework in 2 hours. BOOM. Done!...but then motherhood happened and suddenly that two hour cleaning window on a Saturday became more and more unrealistic. I now long for a clean and tidy house TO ENJOY on the weekend so I try to get it all done throughout the week. 

     I quickly discovered the downside to living in a bigger home, as well: the amount of time required to clean it <whomp whomp>. I, personally, felt that by breaking the housework up between the days of the week, it would make it less overwhelming for me. I'm the type of person that when I become overloaded by something, I pull away, accomplishing nothing, but if I keep my expectations realistic, on a day-to-day basis, they become more achievable, hence getting done. A win-win for me.

     I've also had to learn to start accepting help. My husband has set things he's in charge of during the week as do my older children*. Being a perfectionist means having to let go of the unrealistic expectations I had on a 6 and 3 year old and accepting and appreciating their efforts. Regardless of the outcome, my sweet babies were helping me by taking a little of the weight off of my shoulders. I think it's very important to teach our children about responsibility. In the process, they're learning what it means to contribute to the family, to help keep things running smoothly, and to ease each other's burdens. I also want my children to grow up knowing that there are no set male and female responsibilities either. Each and every one of us is fully capable of helping out where needed. With a team effort, as a family, things get done quicker, leaving us more quality time, to spend together, having fun and...that's right...making more messes. Oh, the irony!

     I hope that you all find this chart helpful or that it at least gives you a starting point to gaining back control of your house and figuring out a schedule or routine that works best for you and your family. Our lives are so short as it is; who wants to waste an extra second pairing up socks or cleaning that cobweb away from that dark, forgotten corner if we don't have to? We have lives to live, people! Tackle that housework and get out there and enjoy the world...

*Disclaimer: not seen on the chart above are some of our children's responsibilities. This list includes, but is not limited to, setting the table, clearing the table, helping to load and unload the dishwasher, making their beds, cleaning their rooms, helping with their laundry, feeding our pets, helping to clean sinks and wiping down counters, dusting their rooms, helping to clean windows, helping to put away groceries, and helping to make their lunches and snack bags. Ken and I base this list off of our children's ages and their physical and mental capabilities. Obviously, we, as their parents, know them best. Not all of these chores are expected of them on a daily basis but we do expect them to help and contribute. A few of the above named jobs are done more out of their interest than it being an actual "chore," as we do not discourage their efforts if they have a desire to want to learn something new.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our Farmhouse Gallery Wall


      So during the month-long wait to close on our new home, I spent endless hours on Pinterest, Etsy, and other people's blogs researching rustic farmhouse styles. I also watched hour after hour of Fixer Upper as Joanna Gaines is my true inspiration (#shiplapsistersforever) and something that continuously popped up on Pinterest were these beautiful gallery walls. They certainly caught my eye and are such a creative, unique way to spice up an empty wall. I knew exactly where I wanted mine to go, so I set to work putting it together in my mind, then on paper, and then finally working with different artists and sellers on Etsy to finalize my finished product. I refused to just toss up any old odds and ends; I wanted there to be meaning behind every piece.

     This, most certainly, was not an easy project by any means. It took me about 2-3 months to complete. It wasn't just about choosing the right pieces either, it also meant keeping in mind the sizes and colors of each item as well. It was a super fun and hysterical night when Ken and I worked endlessly to hang each piece, in just the right spot, without error. It was like putting together a puzzle but only getting one chance at it; our wall was a blank canvas but I definitely was not paying to have it fixed and repainted, so let's just say, that part of the project involved a little alcohol consumption on our end!

     Finally, when every piece was hung just so, we stepped back and admired our work. It was beautiful. It was perfect. The very first project I set out to do for our new house was finally done and it was worth every second spent hemming and hawing over just the right selections to make it both pretty and meaningful. Ken and I slapped each other a high five and settled onto the couch to enjoy the wall...our wall...our gallery...our story...

     I'd like to break it down for you and explain each piece, in more detail, so you can better understand it's depth. To start, the pip berry wreath, vintage tin ceiling tile, and rustic mason jar hydrangea vase were textured fillers for our wall; there's not much meaning behind them, but they are very beautiful pieces. Every other item, however, was purchased and used due to the meaning behind it:

* The key holder represents our new home and all of the memories and adventures yet to come.

* The "R" represents our last name, Rollo, and the "5 Five" represents our family of 5.

* The "Home is wherever I'm with YOU" sign represents our connection with the military. Me, being a military brat, and Ken, having served 5 years in the United States Army, moved around quite a bit. "Home" takes on a whole new meaning when you're apart of the military and so far from your families. Home was no longer a "place" to either of us. It was the friendships we made, it was the love we shared for each other, and it was being nestled, safely, in each other's arms.

* There are 3 framed pictures of each of my babies. It's hard for me to narrow down my favorites, when it comes to pictures of my children, but these 3 are definitely at the top of my list: the heartwarming picture of our daughter with her daddy, my older son looking rather dapper at 9 months old, and our newest baby boy when he was still nestled, safely, in his momma's belly...

* Which leads me to the rustic arrow, which is hanging in such a way that connects the word "Love" and my maternity picture.

* The "Love" and "thankful" signs pretty much speak for themselves. At the end of the day, we're very thankful for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, the clothes on our backs, and the friends and family by our sides. This is a home filled with so much love ❤

* Finally, the ampersand sign which, for us, represents the continuation of our "story." We're not even close to being done telling it yet, because it's only just begun...

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Perfect House" Reality

     To follow-up on my blog post from yesterday about the two questions that have been frequently asked of me since we moved into our new home, we're going to move onto the second question.

1. Is it really possible to raise children in a home with your decorating style?

2. How do you manage to keep it so nice and organized?

     I want to clarify that our home is not a museum, nor is it the subject matter of an interior decorating magazine; it is simply a house where we reside with our 3 young children. Our home is never in perfect pristine condition. Ever!...BUT we live here which, from a mom's stand point, means we play here, we paint here, we get boo-boos here, we spill here, we chase the dog here, we laugh here, we cry here, we make mistakes here, we learn here, and we grow here. The pictures I have already posted, like the one above, and the pictures that have yet to come are quick snapshots of our life. Of course they're edited. What you don't see in that moment is the amount of crap I had to move out of the way in order to capture that perfect shot, like the one below. Shh...don't reveal my secrets!

     For those that know me, I am a very neat and organized person. My husband would probably beg to differ as we have completely different organizational styles but either way, I try my best to instill these same qualities in our children but the reality is, there's always a mess, somewhere, just waiting to be discovered...by me. Everyone else in this family seems to be oblivious to messes. There is almost always a window displaying finger smudges, a sink containing dried up clumps of toothpaste, a laundry basket filled with dirty laundry and another one with clean laundry just waiting to be put away. It's a vicious cycle, trying to keep a house clean with young children under toe. No sooner have I scrubbed something clean than it's in need of yet another scrub...

     To remain somewhat in control of the never-ending housework and ever-growing piles of laundry, I have created a set cleaning schedule for myself that at least helps the household run a bit smoother throughout the week. Having more storage space helps tremendously as well, everything having a place, but we also do a huge de-clutter, as a family, in the spring and again in the fall, prior to the holidays, to prevent unnecessary accumulation and to make room for...that's right...more clutter.

     Someday, however, much sooner than I like, the kids will all be grown, the smudges gone, the toothpaste contained, and the piles of laundry will be more like hills than mountains. So as frustrating and overwhelming as a messy house can sometimes be, I try to remember that this is the reality and "chaotic beauty" to raising a family. The house may not always appear perfect to an outsider, but it's always perfect to me ❤

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Respect is Key

     So there are two questions I often get asked since we moved into our new home. They're rather loaded questions so I've decided to break them up into two separate blog posts. For now, we'll focus on the first question:

1. Is it really possible to raise children in a home with my decorating style?

2. How do I manage to keep it so nice and organized?

Yes, let me explain. 

     Our last house was less than half the size of our new home. The children outnumbered us and the toys, diapers, clothes, and baby equipment were slowly taking over every square inch of that house. I'd lost my sense of style to large, battery-operated, plastic pieces of annoyance and food encrusted, pain-in-the-butt-to-clean baby must-haves (you know what I'm talking about: highchairs, bouncy seats, jumperoos, bumbos, exersaucers, and the list goes on and on and on). By the time our third child was born, I'd not only lost my sense of style but I was beginning to lose my sense of self. Our house, at the time, was so tiny that there was no more storage space available and absolutely nowhere for me to even hide from my own children. I was drowning in early childhood hell! It became imminent to find a new place that suited all of our needs: a home in which my husband and I were free to express ourselves, a place where the children had designated areas to nurture their growth, energy, and creativity, and finally, a place with much more space, but still remaining warm, cozy, and welcoming. 

     We lucked out! Our new home has all of those qualities. The kids have their own rooms and we use our sunroom as a shared space; a family room so to speak. It's not that we don't allow our children the run of the entire house; they are most certainly free to explore and play wherever they'd like, however, we do have set rules in our home and we expect our children to follow those rules. In our family, having respect for each other and our belongings is extremely important to us. We work very hard for the things we have and we want our children to learn that when we take good care of our things, we can enjoy them for a long time. We hope that in raising our children to be mindful of others' feelings and possessions, that they will continue to carry on such a significant quality, not only when they're guests at other people's homes but later, in their own adult lives as well.

     It's very important that Ken and I be the best role models for our children that we can possibly be. We know that in demonstrating the exact behaviors we expect from them, they're more likely to follow suit. For instance, when preparing for our move, we were trying to get rid of things we no longer needed, used, played with, or wore and my children had 100% say over the items they chose to throw away or donate, because who am I to say what is or is not important to them...or, just the other day, I asked my daughter for her permission before using her chapstick. We treat people the way we want to be treated and in raising our children this way (mistakes aside because we understand accidents do happen) we will be able to own nice things, we'll keep a tidy, organized house, and we'll be invited back, again and again, to our friends' and families' homes.

     We've been in our new house for almost 6 months now and our children have truly shown such kindness and consideration for our home and everything that adorns it. I will overhear them reminding their friends to "take their shoes off at the door and use their walking feet" and now that the baby is crawling and getting into everything, we're patiently teaching him to use "gentle touches" and that we "sit down on our tushes" while sitting on the couch. I couldn't be more proud of the sweet and caring people they are growing up to be.

     So the next time you're eyeing that new piece of furniture or an expensive, new vase and don't think it'll last very long in your home, due to a curious toddler or that energetic 7 year old...remind yourself that, first of all, you deserve it! If you're anything like me, you probably don't treat yourself to nice things very often, so go ahead...splurge a little. Second of all, make sure to go over the rules of the new purchase so everyone is on the same page and your expectations are clear; and, finally, keep those receipts...you know...just in case...

Saturday, February 18, 2017

From Farm to Table: Alfredo Sauce

     I don't know about all of you, but when the words "quick" and "easy" are used to describe a recipe, I'm throwing my hands up in the air...Hallelujah! With 5 mouths to feed and one of them being extremely picky, I struggle to find something that makes everybody happy. I refuse to be a short order cook. What I've made for dinner is what we're having, end of story. 

     I found this recipe on my All Recipes app. This go-to app is a must have! I've discovered so many delicious, family approved dishes and when you're at a loss for something to make, it has an option that assists you in figuring it out based on ingredients you already have and your allotted cooking time. I mean, you can't go wrong. 

     This alfredo sauce was delicious. I'm not usually a huge fan of alfredo sauces but this one was so light and tasty. Add a salad and some garlic bread and voilà!

     Believe it or not, I don't really like to cook. Baking and breakfast foods aside, it's not my cup of tea. I see it as a burden during the week, honestly. I'm being pulled in so many directions Monday through Friday, that by the time 5pm rolls around and our day slowly comes to an end, the last thing I want to be doing is standing in the kitchen, mulling over a meal. I'd rather be cuddled up with my kiddos, hearing about their days, reading books, playing, and watching our favorite shows together. So when I do happen across a recipe that is fast to make, simple to throw together, and yummy to boot, I immediately want to share it with others who may have crazy, busy lives as well.

     When I'm faced with a dilemma, as a mom, like my dislike for cooking during the week, I try my hardest to come up with a creative solution that satisfies all involved, so I've been encouraging and welcoming my older two into the kitchen lately to help me cook and gain life skills while they're at it. My older son, who will be 4 next month, practically made this alfredo sauce on his own. He helped me measure out all of the ingredients and was fully capable of mixing them all into the sauce pan, when the recipe called for it, all by himself. While we cooked together, I heard all about his day at school, the friends he played with, and what he wants to wear next week for his first ever School Picture Day. Two birds, one stone - a delicious meal made and quality time with one of my babies; I call that a win-win in my book.

"Creativity can solve almost any problem."
~ George Lois

Enjoy, my friends!

Alfredo Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


* 1/4 cup butter
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 clove garlic, crushed
* 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add cream and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through. Then add parsley and serve.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mom's Best Friend

     After the week I've had, I feel like it's an appropriate time to introduce you to my very best friend. She's been in my life for as long as I can remember and she's been by my side every day since. She has a pretty strong personality, but I prefer when she's her warm, sweet self. When I'm too tired to get out of bed in the morning, she's there for me; when I'm in desperate need of a supportive shove to make it through that PTSA meeting, she's there for me; when the baby is up 8x a night, she's there for me. I truthfully don't know where I'd be without her. She helps to keep me sane, patient, and oh so jolly. I'd like to introduce you to my best pal, Coffee!

Many of you have asked me where my energy comes from...


"How does she do it?" 


"When does she ever slow down?" 


"Mommy!! The baby pulled my hair!!" 


     I am not even kidding. Coffee is a serious staple in my life. Before my feet even hit the floor, I begin longing for the glorious sound of the Keurig machine, preparing itself for a full day of fuel-ups. Sometimes, between the making of lunches, prepping of snack bags, getting the kids dressed, hair done, teeth brushed, dog fed, beds made, laundry started, dishwasher unloaded, and breakfast made and served, that cup of coffee serves as my only breakfast.

     I'll be the first to admit that as bubbly and positive as I always appear to be, that isn't always the case before that first cup of Joe. Until I've had that very first sip, my brain is unable to translate whine, it's unable to determine whether or not Pirate's Booty is an acceptable breakfast, and it most certainly is incapable of answering one of the thousands of "Why Mommy?" questions that are asked of me throughout the day, like "Mommy...why do I have a penis?"...Coffee.

     Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are to me, what Disney World is to a child or what retirement is to the full-time employed. It's my reward after a long day, my incentive to surviving a shopping trip with the kiddos, sometimes it's just my escape after dropping my older two off at their schools. When that delicious cup of caffeine, cream, and sugar is safely in my hands, all is right in the world.

     When it comes to parenting, I am far from perfect. Just like everyone else, I'm doing the absolute best I can. I spend every waking second playing referee, personal chef, life coach, art teacher, nurse, maid, tutor, translator, private investigator, and the list goes on. I'm tired, I'm worn out, and sometimes I lose steam...but I love my life and I love my babies! With a cup of coffee in my hand, anything is possible...that is...until 5pm rolls around and it's time for wine...

...bottom's up, fellow moms! 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Our Harvest Table

  1. 1
    the process or period of gathering in crops.

    "helping with the harvest"

    synonyms:harvesting, reaping, picking, collecting
    "we all helped with the harvest"
    1. 1
      gather (a crop) as a harvest.

      "after harvesting, most of the crop is stored in large buildings"

      synonyms:gather (in), bring in, reappickcollect
      "he harvested the wheat"

           Clearly, as seen above, part of the meaning of the word harvest, is to gather. I've always wanted a place in my home for our family to come together to make memories, talk about our days, plan special events, have those important life discussions, complete homework, do arts and crafts, and enjoy meals. Being a young family of 5, with children who are active in multiple activities and a mom who needs to learn how to say "no" a little more often, our life is crazy hectic. We often don't get to eat breakfasts together in the mornings and we most certainly do not eat lunch as a family, so having one designated meal a day and a comfortable, welcoming place to gather where we're all free to share our feelings, stories, and opinions, was very important to me.

           When our real estate agent walked us through, what would eventually be our new home, for the first time and my eyes landed on our dining room, a huge smile slowly spread across my face as I realized I had found our gathering place. "A farm table will fit here perfectly," I thought to myself. As Ken was busy asking the important questions of a potential home buyer, I was secretly researching farm tables on my phone. I soon located a Connecticut business that specialized in farm tables. So over the course of the next 5 months, I helped the owners of the business design and build our table from scratch. Geoff, the owner of Chic & Antique LLC, collects abandoned and weathered wood from various farm locations throughout New England. I was able to choose the type and condition of the wood used, along with the stain and finish for the finished product. Geoff's wife and I designed the table's base, so it's unique structure is perfect for our family's needs and they even color-matched it to the paneling in our dining room. I decided on one bench rather than two, to leave optimal choices for varying seating preferences, so of course they also made a bench to match. I couldn't have been happier with their dedication, hard work, and communication. When I first laid eyes on my new table, it brought tears to my eyes. It was perfect!

           We've had the table for only a few short months, but so far it has truly served it's purpose. When I call the kids to dinner, it's always a race to see who can get to the table first; I've often found them hiding underneath during a competitive game of hide-and-seek; and when friends come to visit or business meetings have been had, people just tend to gravitate to it and it makes my heart so happy. My daughter often asks me why we bought such a big table when there's only 5 of us, "For more babies, mommy?" That always makes me giggle. So if you're ever in need of a listening ear, a good laugh, or a warm meal, always know there's an empty spot at our table awaiting you...

      ****definition came directly from Google search***

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    A Valentine's Day Miracle


         I had the perfect Valentine's Day blog post all written out and prepared for yesterday; all about the night that Ken and I met, in honor of this lover's holiday, but unfortunately, romantic love was not my main focus yesterday. The only thing I could think about instead, was the deep, passionate love we so desperately cling to for the amazing people in our lives who are taken from us way too soon.

    ***To protect the privacy of our family, I will refrain from using names and intimate details. Thank you all for your understanding ❤***

         Nothing reminds you more of how fast and precious life truly is, than the death of someone who is so close and dear to your heart. Then add to that equation someone who is young, with their whole life ahead of them; someone who was happy, vibrant, and relatively healthy only days before and you're left with such a shocking, empty pit in your stomach that renders you speechless.


         Oh, those awful, hated, unanswerable questions. We spend so much of our lives dwelling and obsessing over the "What if's?" If only life was that easy to change, but sadly...it simply is what it is...or is it?

         We started our Valentine's Day, certainly not with the excitement of lovers, but with the heart-crushingly difficult task of having to say "goodbye" to a beloved family member. Just 12 hours before, he was pronounced 90-95% brain dead. Just sitting beside his hospital bed, watching the machine that was keeping him alive...a feeling of pure agony, for my husband's family, came over me. They would never again be able to talk to him, see him smile or laugh, teach him life lessons, take him fishing, celebrate a holiday with him by their side. I watched all of the memories of him and regrets, that we often torment ourselves with in the midst of such devastation, flash before their eyes. The decision this family was faced with was unimaginable.

         I don't believe we ever truly heal after the death of someone we so deeply care for; we just learn to accept it and live with it, but these heartbreaking moments remain with us forever. They're our everyday reminders to hug a little tighter, kiss a little longer, laugh a little louder, and love a little stronger.

         As the neurologist came in for his final observation before the devastating decision was to be made, something happened!! He gave the doctor a thumb's up!! First of all, I am not an overly spiritual person. I do not attend church regularly or read the Bible every night, but what I witnessed, yesterday, was nothing short of a miracle. There have been no promises or guarantees made. The next 48 hours are extremely critical for him, however, the one thing we do have now is a little bit of hope. He may need extensive therapy for the rest of his life. He may never be the same person we've always known him to be, but the important thing, right now, is that he's still alive and he still has a fighting chance. 

         Life is a true gift. We never know what tomorrow may bring. So as you're smelling your Valentine's Day flowers or indulging in your heart-shaped box of chocolates; whether you  enjoyed a night out , last night, with your SO or chose to stay in with the kiddos...just remember, that at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much money was spent or who went over the top with red and pink surprises...what matters most is LOVE. Love each other! You may never have this moment, together, again...

    Monday, February 13, 2017

    Kloverbox Review February 2017

         As a WAHM to 3 kiddos, I am in high demand around here. First of all, WAHM stands for Work At Home Mom. "What do you do?" you ask. I'm a licensed and insured family child care provider. I've been working, professionally, with children for 15 years. When Ken and I decided to have children, there were several factors that played a huge role in our decision for me to work from home and care for our children until they started school: 1. Childcare in Connecticut is very expensive. On average, a full-time slot is anywhere from $200-450/week depending on the type of program it is and the quality they demonstrate; 2. It's so hard to trust just anybody with your children these days and neither of us felt comfortable hiring a stranger to care for our most prized possessions; and finally 3. I wanted our children to have a home-like environment to grow and learn in, while also allowing them the social interactions and benefits of a childcare setting...soooo...I applied for my license through the State and voilà! Here we are 6.5 years later, business booming, babies prospering, and I'm running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. 

         On top of motherhood and business ownership, I'm also Secretary of the PTSA at my daughter's school, I'm a member of two local committees, I'm a co-leader for my daughter's Girl Scout troop, I'm in charge of a local Book Club, and last but most definitely not least, I'm apart of the Parent SEE alumni of Connecticut, which basically means I advocate for our children and the education they so desperately deserve. 

         So it shouldn't come as a surprise to you that about 99.9% of the time, I'm a frazzled, exhausted, fed up, emotional train wreck. Whoever said that motherhood is a walk in the park is totally lying out of their back end! I often find that after all is said and done (daycare closed for the day, meetings attended, homework complete, dinner cooked/served/cleaned up, laundry put away, baths given, and kiddos tucked in for the night), I have forgotten about myself.

         As a New Year's resolution, this year, I decided to stop neglecting ME. In truth, if I let myself go uncared for, my children suffer. I find that I'm most impatient and easy to snap when I haven't replaced the fuel in my own gas tank, so to speak.  So as I contemplated the ways in which I was going to treat myself this year (manis, pedis, massages, etc), I suddenly remembered close friends of mine discussing these monthly box subscriptions they'd signed up for. So I spent the better part of an evening googling every single box subscription you can imagine and I narrowed it down to two that seemed most interesting to me: Peaches & Petals and Kloverbox. It's like Christmas, twice a month, as these boxes arrive filled with adorable, unique odds and ends; just a variety of miscellaneous treasures! What a fantastic way to treat myself! So I thought it would be fun to review the results of my boxes on my blog when I receive them.

         So as not to keep you waiting, here were the contents of this month's Kloverbox (my personal review of each product will be below each description):

    1. Shop Wrenn - The Becki Studs in Rose Druzy- $26.00 - Shop Wrenn's Becki Rose Bezel Druzy Stud Earrings are petit but full of sparkle. Each 6mm round Druzy is set in a rose plated brass bezel setting for elegant finish. The post comes out of the center of the stud, and sits very nicely in the middle of the earlobe. Visit Shop Wrenn and check out all the beautiful jewelry and wonderful nail polish at www.shopwrenn.com. Use coupon code Kloverbox15 and save 15%. 

    *Absolutely LOVE these! They were the first item I pulled out of the box and they immediately caught my eye. They are very much my style for date nights!

    2. Cypress Skin Care - Foot Love - $20.00 - Foot Love is the answer to your cracked heels. Take a few minutes and massage the oils onto your tired feet. You'll feel it absorbing, while the uplifting peppermint scent melts the stress of the day away. The oils are specifically formulated to penetrate the tougher skin on your feet. Foot Love is 100% organic, cruelty free and vegan. Please take caution once you apply your Foot Love, as your feet will be very slippery! Find out about all the wonderful products @ www.cypressskincare.com. Use coupon code KLOVERBOX and save 20%.                                                            

    *This is a product that this momma so desperately needed; my poor feet lol. I don't get as many pedicures as I probably should. The spray bottle doesn't squirt very cleanly so it does leave behind a bit of an oily mess but the wonderful peppermint scent plus my feet's happiness made it well worth it.

    3. The Isle Co. - Soy Lotion Candle in a 6oz jar - Scent Love Struck $14.99 - This isn't just a beautifully scented spy candle, it's can also be used as a lotion! Take a dip into this soy lotion candle for silky feeling skin! These lotion candles are made from 100% pure soybean oil and are naturally rich in Vitamin E. As the Soy Lotion Candles melt, they form a pool of warm soy oil. After extinguishing the flame you can safely dip your finger into the melted soy oil and use it as a moisturizing body lotion! The Isle Co soy candles do not contain petroleum, paraffin, or beeswax product. See all the wonderful products available at www.isleofcandles.com and use coupon code KLOVER20 for a 20% off coupon, valid for the month of February and good on any Soy Lotion Product.                                           

    *This candle smells just like Victoria's Secret Love Spell. I am a huge fan of Love Spell so this candle is perfect for me. I can't wait to try it out!

    4. Rose & Basil - Vegan Truffles - $2.90 (flavor may vary) - What's Valentine's Day without chocolate? And if we're going to eat chocolate then let's make it vegan and gluten free! Rose & Basil offers a variety of products such as these exquisite Chocolate Truffles. All their products are 100% organic, with gluten free vegan options, and have no refined sugars or artificial flavors. Rose & Basil is located in East Village, New York at 104 East 7th Street! www.rosebasil.com. Purchase in store or order by phone (917)530-9018. 

    *Not going to lie, I was not a fan of the chocolates. Like I've mentioned before, I love sweets and these were not sweet enough for me but they were certainly a nice touch.