Officially A Soccer Mom

That's right, with the three digit temperatures behind us (fingers crossed), all the fall sports have started up here in Phoenix; and Madeleine and Seamus are bona fide soccer players now!
The kids got to pick their team name, so everybody put your hands together for the SUPER ROCK STARS! Not just Rock Stars, mind you, but SUPER Rock Stars. They're playing through i9 Sports (which is a national program btw), that is purely a rec league; so no keeping score or anything like that yet. 
That being said, Madeleine totally scored her first goal!! She's such a natural at all things athletic.
Seamus? Well, Seamus was a bit more...let's say - hesitant. He got kicked in the leg before practice even started, then pretty much refused to go in the game at all. 
He did eventually give it a go, and I'm betting next week will be better (here's hoping). I forget how young 4 is still, you know? Wish us luck, I guess.

What fun extracurricular activities do you have your little ones in? This is Seamus' first, but Madeleine also does karate, Brownies, and piano lessons. 


My New Jams - Malibu

You guys, I'm totally digging Miley Cyrus' new song, Malibu.
It's slow and soft and much more mellow then I've ever heard her before. I just love that deep, twangy voice of hers.

What are you listening to lately?


Wedding Weekend - Day 2

The next day of our California trip we spent in Newport Beach! We headed down to the bay and let the kids go on the rides at the Balboa Fun Zone. 
There was jumping...
 And climbing...
 And Ferris Wheel fun!
They also played arcade games...
And funnily enough, Bill ran into an old friend from college. Small world!
Next up, was a planned activity for everyone in town for the wedding. They booked us a Duffy Boat  (aka Electric Boat) tour of Newport Harbor.
We had such a nice time chatting and looking about. Beautiful scenery and gorgeous homes! We all picked a favorite.
My father-in-law did an excellent job navigating the busy harbor. The place was definitely hopping for 4th of July weekend.
After the boat tour, the kids wanted to ride the rides again. We had gotten them all-day passes, so we made sure to get our money's worth.
We headed back to the hotel to rest up a little bit, then it was off to Fashion Island for the rehearsal dinner!
We had a fun dinner with the family at the Yard House. There's a bit of an age difference between my oldest nephews and niece and their cousins, but they are all so sweet and patient with the kids it's always a joy to watch. 
From left to right, it's my niece, Emily (the bride), Jordan (the groom), Madeleine, my nephew, Noah, Seamus, and my nephew, Evan.

Stay tuned for the wedding day and one last stop on our way home.


Wedding Weekend - Day 1

We're back in California for a family wedding. We made the drive Friday night, then Saturday, spent the morning at the beach!
First though, a quick bite to eat at Ruby's Diner on Huntington Beach Pier. It's one of my favorite little traditions each time we're in California. It was an exciting morning, as someone had caught a Thresher Shark from the pier and hauled it all the way up right in front of the diner. When I actually went to check it out though, I found the whole thing pretty disturbing. Needless to say, we didn't linger, and headed off to Huntington State Beach.
We spent the morning looking for sea shells, building sand castles, trying not to get knocked down by waves, and relaxing.
After beach time, we headed to my father-in-law's place to say "hi" to the family and hang out for a bit. Good times! 


Let's Go To The Movies - The House

Earlier this week, a friend and I saw a sneak peak of the new movie, The House.

When the full-ride college scholarship their daughter wins falls through, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) start an illegal casino in their suburban neighborhood to earn the money needed for her tuition.

I was looking forward to seeing Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler finally onscreen together - as they surprisingly had yet to do a film together before this one. They're both a joy to watch, and putting them together should have guaranteed one hilariously funny film. The House didn't quite live up to that expectation. Again (like with this and this film recently) it went a lot darker than I would have expected, and ended up relying too heavily on shock versus smart comedy. It was amusing enough, but no need to rush to the theater for this one. It won't lose any of its entertainment factor in its transition from the big to the small screen.

What new movies are you looking forward to?


This And That

I put together a bunch of randomness for your reading pleasure today. Enjoy!

1 - Bill and his dad took a bike trip together from, get this...Pittsburg, PA to Washington, DC!! Crazy, huh! Super proud of them both.

2 - Has anyone seen The Dressmaker? I was totally loving it, and then, took a really strange turn. Just wondering what others may have thought. Beautiful costuming though.

3 - Remember here, where I spray painted a terracotta planter that came with the house, and then planted a dwarf citrus tree in it?  Yeah, that didn't work out so well. I swear, I have the blackest thumb. No idea what happened with the pot here either. Just keeping it real for you guys, you know, in case you mistakenly thought my life was blog worthy all the time.

4 - I'm so excited for Game of Thrones to start back up soon! About time, right?

That's it from my next of the woods. Our schedule was quite hectic this last month. We have one more trip to California coming up this weekend; then I'm hoping we can slow down a bit and start enjoying the summer (as much as you can enjoy summer here in Phoenix - hot, hot, hot!). I do enjoy traveling, but this constant traveling, like we've been doing lately, is really, really exhausting.


My New Jam - Young Lady, You're Scaring Me

Bill turned me onto this great song by Ron Gallo called "Young Lady, You're Scaring Me".

It's got a great 70's rock vibe to it, and perfect for dancing.

What are you listening to these days?


Dress The Part - La La Land - The Blue Dress

Are you ready for more La La Land inspired fashion? Today, we're looking at the gorgeous cobalt blue dress from the number, "Someone In The Crowd".

Cobalt is such a striking color, and really looks good with all skin/hair colors. Combine that with the universally flattering halter neckline and A-line silhouette, and you got yourself a dress, am I right? If you want to make a statement, give cobalt a try.

You may notice, that the thrifty Mia Dolan (played by Emma Stone) pairs the same cobalt heels here that she'll later wear again with the yellow dress. (She is, after all, a struggling actress, and those exact Kurt Geiger shoes from the film would have cost her $280!). Anyway, what, do you think of the matchy-matchy monotone look?  A little bridesmaid-y? I personally would probably style the dress with a metallic sandal - either silver or gold. Whatever shoe you go with, make sure you can dance in them, because that's really what this dress is all about. Check out the movement on the skirt!

I rounded up a few fun and similar cobalt blue cocktail dresses that would be perfect for the dance floor.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4

What do you guys think? Are you "yes" or "no" when it comes to cobalt? I had a cute cobalt dress that no longer fits (too big now!), so I'm definitely looking for a replacement. It's one of my favorite colors.


The Best Layering Tank

I found another great basic wardrobe piece to add to my closet.  It's The Essential Tank from The Loft.
I picked it up awhile ago in white and was so impressed. It fits great, holds it shape, is soft and light weight, and absolutely perfect to layer under everything!! When they went on sale for $5 during a recent flash sale, I picked it up in black, forever navy, ecru cloud, pink fizz, and 3 more in white. Believe me, if I need a tank now, I totally got it covered.

Happy Shopping!!


Let's Go To The Movies - Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie

It was just me and the kids hanging out on a Saturday recently, so I took them to see Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. In case you were wondering, it was their pick, not mine.

Best friends, George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) love hanging out together and working on their comic book series about a superhero they created called, Captain Underpants. When their principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) threatens to put them in separate classrooms, the two inadvertently hypnotize Mr. Krupp into thinking he is the real Captain Underpants. The evil villain, Professor Poopypants (Nick Kroll) then poses as a substitute teacher at their school with plans of ridding the world of laughter; Captain Underpants, despite having no real superpowers whatsoever, takes on the Professor with George and Harold by his side.

Sounds gripping, right?

I can honestly say that the kids really enjoyed Captain Underpants. They are at the perfect age where simply saying the word "underpants" or "poopy" enlists tons of laughter. So, I knew it wasn't going to take very much to impress them.

Me though? Well, I surprisingly enjoyed it as well. It's not going down as an instant animated classic or anything like that, but it did make me chuckle. Captain Underpants was just so...enthusiastic, that it was hard not to crack a smile. Plus, there's something about Kevin Hart's voice that always makes me laugh.

There's definitely no reason to rush out to the theater to see this one, but if you're looking for a fun family movie night, check it out when it hits DVD.

P.S. Have your kids read the children's book series this is based on by Dav Pilkey? Mine haven't, but Madeleine does enjoy his other new series, Dog Man.


May I Please Have Some More Throw Pillows?

I picked up new throw pillows for the family room...AGAIN!! I'm building up quite a collection because I can never seem to make up my mind, and I have serious trouble matching throw pillows together. It's my decorating Achilles Heel.
The throw pillows are from Target, but I don't see they're available online anymore (similar here though). They're really squishy and comfortable, which is perfect for those weekend naps that tend to happen when the kids ask to watch the same episode of Paw Patrol for the umpteenth time in a row.
At least with my ever growing collection, I can switch them up when I get bored. Otherwise, I'm hoping through enough trial and error, that I'll eventually come up with a combination that works. Odds are, it has to happen at some point; even if it's by accident, right?

P.S. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes In The Family Room | Throw Pillow Drama


Children's Book Report - What Do You Do With A Problem?

It's been a little while since I shared a children's book with you. So, today, I wanted to introduce you all to What Do You Do With A Problem? written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom.
From its simple premise to its sweeping illustrations, there is so much to like about this book.
It attempts to answer the question: what do you do when you have a problem? The "problem" in the book manifests as a small storm cloud that grows and grows the more the child attempts to ignore and overlook it.
The illustrations are mostly black, grey, and brown with just the slightest color found only on the child.
It's only when he starts to face his problem that the illustrations turn from dark to golden.
As I was reading this book to my kids, I kept thinking to myself what good advise this is - not just for them, but for me too. There are so many times I drive myself crazy with anxiety thinking about my problems only to find afterwards how small and insignificant they actually were. It's so much better to just face your problems right away rather then letting them fester in your mind and cause you stress. The situation is never quite as bad as you let yourself think.

This book is also a great conversation starter between you and your kids. Every time we read it, I ask them if they are having any problems. It's a great way to find out what things your little one may be struggling with in that little head of theirs.

Beautifully written and illustrated, I highly recommend adding this sweet and simple book to your home library.


The Best T-Shirt

You guys, I found the best t-shirt that I just had to tell you about it.  It's the Relaxed Linen-Blend Curved Hem Tee from Old Navy.

Here's why I love this t-shirt.

- It's fitted at the bust, then gradually flares out. So, it hugs the thinnest part of me, but still hides my tummy.
- The scoop neckline is the perfect blend between a crew neck and a v-neck. It shows a little décolletage like a v-neck, but still feels modest like a crew.
- The cut of the sleeves is extremely flattering to the arms.
- It's linen, so it's nice and light and can easily be dressed up or down.

Then, to be fair, because I said it was the best t-shirt, not a perfect t-shirt; I'll tell you the two smallest cons I've uncovered from my experiences wearing it.
- It's slightly sheer, which may or may not be your thing. It's not mine, so I always wear a cami underneath.
- It pills slightly. Not enough that it's terribly noticeable to anybody except me, but enough that I've noticed.

It's only a $17 shirt though, so I don't expect it to last forever, you know. However, my wardrobe is still in transition, and this was a great, inexpensive find, and exactly what I needed to get me though the summer.  

I bought it in three colors: Cream (above, which reads as white), Marionberry, and Dark Charcoal Gray.

8/14 Update: The shirt is on sale now for $10-$14. I seriously picked up four more - another Cream, Peach Gelato, I Think Olive, and Coral Tropic. 


Date Night - U2 Concert

On the last night of our trip back home, Bill and I headed to Chicago to see U2 in concert at Soldier Field, and it was everything!!

It took forever to get to Soldier Field from Milwaukee, and we literally rolled into the stadium right at the 7pm start time. We grabbed some food and drinks and settled in for the night. #nerdsinlove
Bill was excited to see the opening act, The Lumineers! He's a big fan.
I'd say I was more of a casual fan, in that I knew who they were and a couple of their songs. Let me tell you though, they put on a great show; and I loved that they have a cellist in their band (Neyla Pekarek). They completely won me over. 

Around 8:30pm, the moment we were waiting for finally arrived. U2 took the stage - Larry, Adam, The Edge, and Bono!! 
This was "The Joshua Tree Tour 2017" celebrating 30 years since their epic 1987 album "The Joshua Tree" was released.
They started off on a B-stage and played a few of their early hits - "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "New Year's Day", "Bad", and "Pride (In the Name of Love)".
Then, they moved to the main stage and literally played "The Joshua Tree" album cover to cover in its entirety. I've never been to a concert where they've done that before. It was such an awesome tribute to the album.
If you're unfamiliar with "The Joshua Tree" album, the song list went as follows: "Where the Streets Have No Name", "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", "With Or Without You", "Bullet the Blue Sky", "Running to Stand Still", "Red Hill Mining Town", "In God's Country", "Trip Through Wires", "One Tree Hill", "Exit", and "Mothers of the Disappeared".
And of course, it wouldn't be a U2 concert without a little (or a lot) of political imagery and rhetoric. Let me tell you, there was a lot of love in Soldier Field that night.   
They left the stage, but of course, came back for an encore - "Beautiful Day", "Elevation", "Miss Sarajavo", "Ultra Violet (Light My Way)", "One", and "I Will Follow".

I don't know if it was it because it was U2, or because it was at Soldier Field, or because I got to experience it with Bill, or if it was a combination of all three; but it was, by far, the most amazing concert I have ever been to. It was a bucket list experience for the both of us that I will remember always.

P.S. Fan Girl - Bon Jovi | Date Night - Cooking Class


Vacation Recap - WI

Midweek we headed north to Wisconsin to spend some time with Bill's side of the family. The highlight of the trip, for the kiddos at least, seemed to be their new found skill of tree climbing!
Seriously, every chance they got, they were scurrying up trees.
In between visits with all my in-laws, we took the kids to Lapham Peak in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. 
Lapham Peak is the highest point in Waukesha County, and we decided to climb to the top of the 45 foot observation tower and check out the views.
Image from here.
Lapham Peak family selfie!!
It was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular. This was actually my first time visiting here as well.
We also snuck in a trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo. We used to take the kids there all the time when we lived in the area. It's one of my favorite zoos ever.
We took in the "Oceans of Fun Seal & Sea Lion Show", which we had never done before. Let me tell you, I had no idea how big a sea lion was until I saw it looming ominously above my children. They're huge!
The rest of our trip was visiting with family and doing your basic summer activities - there were barbecues, sparklers, and we played this game a ton.
But our vacation was not quite done yet. Bill and I headed back to Chicago for one last special event. Stay tuned!