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6.14.2017

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.

6.12.2017

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. 

6.09.2017

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



6.07.2017

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!

6.05.2017

Vacation Recap - IL

We're back in AZ after a week long trip to the Midwest to visit family. We started the trip in Illinois, where the primary purpose of our visit was to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday!
We had a big backyard party, and lots of my aunts, uncles, and cousins made it over to celebrate with us. It was nice to see the extended family.
There was good food and good company, and I think my dad had a good time. He got lots of "medicine" as gifts too (aka booze).
It's always fun to get the kids all together too. Of course, mine, as per usual, were the ones who wouldn't cooperate for photos.
The rest of our trip consisted of bopping from house to house visiting with my sisters and their families. The kids had a sleepover one night. We went to a splash pad and did a little nature hike another day. We watched little league games and went for ice cream too. Basically, we kept it all pretty low key and had a nice time catching up with everyone.
After that, it was on to Wisconsin! Stay tuned.

6.02.2017

Let's Go To The Movies - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

My mother-in-law watched the kids earlier this week, so Bill and I could take in a movie. After grabbing a quick bite for lunch, we went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Peter Quill (aka Starlord) and his galaxy saving band of misfits are at it again. Now an official team, the Guardians must work together to defeat a new and emerging threat they don't yet understand and don't want to believe is even possible.

You guys, this movie was so sweet! It's not often a superhero movie moves me to tears, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 did just that. Sure, it's full of action, special effects, and humor; but the central focus of the film was love in its many shapes and forms. There, of course, is the romantic love developing between Peter (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana), who have an amazing chemistry that just pops off the screen. But there's also the inkling of a new love story brewing between Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) that reminds the audience that true beauty lies within. Familial love is also front and center in the storyline of Gamora and her "sister" Nebula (Karen Gillan). Their's is a complicated relationship rooted in violence and competition that slowly turns to one of respect and responsibility. There's the big brother/big sister love the entire team has for Baby Groot as they guide and protect him in his new and vulnerable form. And by the way, Baby Groot totally steals every scene he's in.  Then there's parental love, and what it truly means to be a parent - a love that is unconditional, sacrificing, and has nothing to do with blood. Finally, there's the love between friends, and how it's possible to create an entirely new family by surrounding yourself with people (or aliens rather) that you mostly like, but definitely respect and bring out the best in you.

In addition, I especially like the equal screen time Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gives to both its male and female stars. This is, by far, the most screen time given to any female characters in a Marvel movie that I've seen yet. It's a true ensemble film. Man, woman, alien, animal, and even plant life are equally valuable players in creating one of the finest superhero sequels I've ever seen. I highly recommend checking out Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

P.S. Let's Go To The Movies - Guardians Of The Galaxy

5.31.2017

Day Date - Running

We're in the Midwest this week visiting family, and I was excited to get out for a run on the trail near my parent's house. I used to run a lot in my twenties, but as I got older and gained a bit of weight it became too hard for me and I stopped.

At the beginning of this year, after losing about 15 pounds through changing my diet, I gave running a try again, and was amazed how much easier it was now that I was a few pounds lighter.

So, while the kids were away sleeping over at my sister's house, Bill and I decided to do something together we haven't done in years - exercise!
My parents live near the Fox River in Illinois, and there is a bike trail that runs for miles along the river right by their house.
It was a nice change of scenery from my normal neighborhood run back in Phoenix; much more scenic for sure. I'm not going to lie, running is not my favorite thing, but the hardest part is just getting myself out the door. Once I start, it's not so bad, and I'm enjoying the progress I've been making.
We only ran about two and half miles. Bill can go a lot farther and faster than me, but he didn't seem to mind the slow pace. It was mostly about doing something active together. 

Do you workout with your significant other? We used to more when we were dating, but now pretty much workout exclusively by ourselves. This was definitely a rare exception to that. I think with being parents, working out is a nice way for us each to have some time to ourselves a couple of times a week. For me, I never want to do it, but I'm always glad I did when I'm done.

5.29.2017

Last Day of School - First Grade / Preschool

Madeleine is officially done with first grade!
I love seeing how much they grow in a year. She's wearing the same shorts in both these pictures. How funny!

And speaking of growing...
Seamus went from baby boy to well...just boy during his first preschool year. He grew up a lot in other ways too, and I'm so proud of how far he's come.


5.26.2017

2017 Father's Day Gift Guide

Father's Day will be here before you know it. If you're stumped on what to get your husband, boyfriend, or dad this year, I put together a few things he may enjoy. Happy shopping!

Every guy I know seems to love Deadpool ($11.79), so chances are yours will too. It's the superhero movie they wish they could have watched when they were a kid, but is totally inappropriate for their own kids. It'll appeal to their inner child, while reminding them how good it is to be the grown-up.

A quality knife, like this Wüsthof Santoku Knife ($169.95), will have him chopping away in the kitchen in no time. We've had this exact knife over 8 years, and it has held up amazing.


This Golfers BBQ Set ($26) is practical, fun, and a great combination of two of his favorite past times - golf and grilling!

He'll love a portable DoubleNest Hammock ($69.95). It fold up super small, and he can take it anywhere - camping, the beach, or even just to the backyard.

Simple, quality, and extremely economical, Harry's ($15) has reinvented the razor game. Get your favorite dad a starter gift set, then sign him up for their affordable subscription service to deliver new blades straight to his door when needed.

Do you have any go-to or great ideas for Father's Day gifts? What are you planning on getting, or what would you love to get?

5.24.2017

Let's Go To The Movies - Rough Night

Some girlfriends and I went to a special screening of the new Scarlett Johansson movie, Rough Night.

Five old friends head to Miami for a Bachelorette party weekend where things quickly go from bad to worse in a high jinks filled adventure they'll never forget.

I was pretty excited to see another female driven comedy and was hoping Rough Night would be up to the caliber of Bridesmaids, but alas, it fell quite short. It was much darker than I was expecting and entirely unbelievable. Still, I can't say I didn't laugh. Kate McKinnon was the standout of the bunch. Listening to her do an Australian accent for the duration of the film was worth the price of admission alone (full disclosure - I didn't pay anything to see this, but still, you get my meaning). Scarlett Johansson, was an unexpected choice for this style of comedy, and while she had her moments, I'd say raunchy comedies are definitely not her genre. Overall, Rough Night is somewhat amusing, but it will be equally as good from the comfort of your living room when it hits DVD. No need to rush out to the theater for this one.
I did have fun being out with friends though. The marketing company went all out with games, a photo booth, and prizes to promote the film. I remember having quite a few "rough nights" with these lovely ladies back in the day. Good times.

5.22.2017

Madeleine's First...Piano Recital

I have another Madeleine related post coming at you. She recently had her first piano recital!
She started taking piano lessons in January of this year. I'm not quite sure if she even likes it or not yet, but for now, she's learning. It's a struggle getting her to practice sometimes, but once she gets a song, she'll play it all day long. 

I surprisingly got her into a dress for the performance too, as she put it, "It's the mature thing to do."
Another "first" in the book for her. So proud of this girl!

5.19.2017

Pancakes à la Madeleine

Bill recently taught Madeleine a new skill - making pancakes!! She can't wait until the weekends now, and loves making herself breakfast.
I sometimes forget how capable kids can be if you let them. Sure, I could make the pancakes faster (and neater), but she's so proud of herself and loves being self-sufficient.
What surprising things can your kids do by themselves already? At what age did you let them near the stove or oven? We haven't gotten that far yet. I'm good with her staying at the griddle under supervision stage for awhile longer yet.

5.17.2017

Let's Go To The Movies - Snatched

A friend and I went to see the new Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn comedy, Snatched recently.

Dumped by her boyfriend days before they were set to vacation in Equador, Emily (Amy Schumer) convinces her homebody mother, Linda (Goldie Hawn) to accompany her on the trip instead. When things don't go as planned, the two, despite their differences, must work together to save themselves from their nightmare jungle adventure.

It's been ages since I've seen a good comedy at the theaters, and I'm happy to say that Snatched didn't disappoint. It was consistently funny and outrageous throughout. Amy Schumer does her thing, and it was delightful to see Goldie Hawn on screen again. She's amazing! The story was darker than I thought it would be, but they fully committed, so it ended up working for me once I realigned my expectations. Snatched is a great female driven comedy, a great mother/daughter comedy, and just a straight up great comedy. If you're in need of a good laugh, this is your movie.

What movies are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

5.15.2017

Whale Watching & A Half Marathon

We recently popped over to California for a quick visit with my father-in-law and to watch Bill run another half marathon.

We drove Friday night, and rolled into Costa Mesa well past the kids' bedtime. The next morning we were up bright and early to go whale watching. Bill got tickets from Groupon to Davey's Locker.
We set out on the first tour of the day, which was nice because there was hardly anyone on the boat. Probably because it was a chilly morning and the threat of rain was looming.
We were all smiles as the boat headed out towards Newport Landing.
The kids loved being on the boat. Me? Not so much. The weather made for a very choppy ride. We didn't see any whales this trip, but did run into a pod of dolphins which was fun. They were jumping out of the water like crazy, but I wasn't able to get any good pictures. We also saw a pile of sea lions hanging out on a big buoy.
I made it through watching the dolphins, but shortly thereafter my lovely seasickness kicked in; and I was pretty much done. Luckily Bill does not get seasick, and apparently neither do the kids. They were having a blast with the bumpy ride and getting sprayed by the occasional wave.
I try not to let the potential of getting sick stop me from doing things like this. If I get sick, like this trip, than I do. No big deal. I've gone on many a boat/plane/car ride where I'm totally fine, so it's a risk I'm always willing to take in search of a good time.
The next day, Bill ran The OC Half Marathon for the second time. It was a cold and rainy day, but Bill was undeterred. We don't get cold and rainy in Phoenix much, so I don't think he minded the conditions at all.
My father-in-law, the kids, and I got up and out a little later and found a nice spot to watch for a bit.
We were all excited to see Bill when he ran by, and he was so excited to see us too! I think it helps break up the monotony to see a few friendly faces during a long run. Hopefully it gave him a little boost of motivation to keep going and finish the 13.1 run.
We went to breakfast after that, and by the time we were finished, so was Bill. Another successful race in the books for him.
We stuck around for lunch, but then it was right back in the car for the 6 hour trek back to Phoenix. It was definitely too quick a trip for how much driving we did, but the kids were troopers, and I'd pretty much do anything to support Bill. So proud of this handsome guy!

What have you guys been up to? Have you ever traveled a long way for a short visit? Bill and I once drove from Milwaukee to South Dakota for a weekend. We were just in the mood to see Mount Rushmore, so we thought, why not?