Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Favorites: Just the Mom Life Edition


Hurray! Hurray! It's Friday!!

It was a fun and beautiful week, and it looks like the weekend ahead is going to follow suit. We have some of our favorite friends coming to visit from out of town, and we have a fun trip to the zoo planned for tomorrow - the kids are beyond excited! 

We just can't wait to get this party started, and since this weekend also includes the start of May, let the countdown to the end of school begin!!!

Now for some Friday Favorites with some of our favorite bloggers, and to share with you what's got us all excited this week. 


ONE 
After waiting almost ten long weeks to begin exercising, I finally got the all clear from my doctor to "tread lightly". After not being able to exercise for that long (and during most of my pregnancy) I couldn't wait to throw on my favorite sneakers, and take off. 

Well, no one told me that Double Bob would weigh so much with two children, a million snacks, waters, books, etc. Whew!! You definitely couldn't miss me in all neon looking like I was going to pass out struggling up those hills. 


For round two, I decided to tone it down a notch (or five), and go solo on the treadmill. I was so excited though because apparently some of my favorite mindless television is back on. 


I love me some Real Housewives and New York is my favorite!!

TWO

I know we are a few months into our year, but I just picked up this devotional a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. Savor by Shauna Niequist has been a great way to start my day. 


I love how Niequist has mixed in stories of herself as well as yummy recipes into her writing. Definitely one to grab. 


THREE
Chicken Alfredo will always be one of my absolutely favorite meals. I can't even remember the last time I had it, but when I was grocery shopping this week, I spotted this Alfredo kit. 


Let me just say - YUM! 

It was so tasty and waaaaaay better than I was expecting. Even my picky children ate it. 
And asked for seconds! 

They had no clue what they were eating wasn't real cheese.
Having to worry about food allergies is never fun, and I am so thankful that some companies have invented some allergy free products that actually taste great. It was a rough go five years ago when I had to do this, but now it seems almost effortless. Almost. 

I still miss cheese dip. 
Can someone work on that?


FOUR
I love going to Cute's school and helping any chance I can get. It's a little tougher with the two girls in tow, but some events they can help me with too. 

This week, I was the surprise mystery reader. I loved it!  Cute had no clue it was me, and he was doubly excited because he was also the mystery bag holder for the day. It was better than a birthday in his mind. 


I wowed the class with If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Super Hungry Dinosaur, and The Duck Gets a Cookie. Apparently my hungry dinosaur voice is on point because they asked for that one a second time, and Cute told me that was his favorite. 


FIVE
Mother's Day is next week and we had a fun Pinterest party with some of our favorite blog friends to brainstorm some great gift ideas. The Mother's Day Gifts board is fabulous, and I love seeing what moms want for their special day. Everything from a card, to crafts, to sparkling jewels - everything all you rockin' moms totally deserve. 

Check it out...


SIX
One of my favorite moments this week was writing our Cocktail Confessions post.


I loved reminiscing about this trip and how the blog began - mostly because it's a hilarious memory for us, and we had so much fun on that trip with all our little ones in tow. 


The taste testing wasn't such a bad part of the week either.
Yum!

That wraps up my favorites for the week. What were some of your favorites?


From us to you - have a fabulous weekend!!!
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cocktail Confessions: Orange Dreamsicle


Happy Thursday friends! Ok before we get to the super yummy cocktail, we have a little confession to make...

Way back in 2012, we were on vacation at one of our favorite Sandestin resorts, and while the husbands were out playing golf, we were "lounging" poolside (as much lounging as you could do with four kids under five in tow). Being that it was the hottest summer in recent history, and more than a little toasty, we did the only thing we knew to do to hydrate in the situation - we ordered a nice frosty cocktail. 


Ahh...the Dreamsicle. 

Thus, a love affair was born. We didn't really think about what we were ordering at the time, but we learned that the Dreamsicle was definitely a good idea. 

Fast forward to 2014. 
Same resort. Same hot summer. Same husbands are playing golf. But now we are chasing five little ones around the pool deck. 

And you know what we did? 


Cheers!

 And do you know what sport takes a long time to play? Golf. 
Golf takes fooooorrrreeevvver to play. 

And that equals an intimate relationship with the poolside waitress, and a bill full of Dreamsicles. 


Clearly by dinner time it was a great idea. Golf rocks. 

You know what is another great idea - this blog. 

That's right, this blog was born from this frosty inspiration of the Dreamsicle. We were sitting there poolside watching our lovely children play on the stairs and splash happily, when we began talking about the idea of co-creating a blog. As the week went on (and possibly a few more Dreamsicles consumed), the idea stuck and a few weeks later The Magnolia Mamas blog was officially born. 

So thank you Sandestin and your fabulous Florida orange deliciousness. It's been a rocking (almost) two years!

Now that confessions are done, here is the recipe that great ideas are made of. Thank us later. 


THE ORANGE DREAMSICLE COCKTAIL

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces of orange juice
  • 3/4 cup of vanilla ice cream
  • 2 oz of vodka
  • 1/4 oz of Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz of whipped vodka
  • 3-4 ice cubes

Note: For this I used my favorite non-dairy ice cream, but any vanilla ice cream is good. This coconut milk alternative ice cream was just as delish. 




Instructions: 
  • Crush ice cubes up first. 
  • Add in orange juice, ice cream, vodkas, and Triple Sec.
  • Blend until smooth like a frosty. 

  • Pour into glass, top with whipped cream, and serve immediately. 


Hope you enjoyed our confession today. Enjoy responsibly and let us know if you love the Dreamsicle as much as we do!

Cheers!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Fashion Fix: Stella and Dot {Mommy and Me Tunics}

It's no secret we love to dress our kiddos in coordinating outfits and although my kids are getting older and pretty much outgrowing that phase, they still love to match from time to time. One thing the girls are starting to really be interested in now is matching me!  You can imagine how happy that makes me and how cute I think it is that they want to be my mini-me.  Little Mama especially loves to do this and tries to copy outfits I wear and it's totally fun and a big complement to me that she wants to be like me. :-)


A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to try the Stella and Dot Mommy and Me tunics and they are so adorable.  An off-white lace tunic with fringe around the bottom make these perfect as swim coverups or you can wear them with jeans or leggings and a tank under for everyday wear.  I think we'll wear them with jeans or leggings in spring and fall and as swim coverups in the summer.



If you'd like to win these tunics for you and your special girl, along with some other really fantastic prizes for Mother's Day, head to Savvy Sassy Moms for their Mother's Day 2016 Gift Guide and Giveaway.  They are giving away some wonderful prizes and the winner will receive a gift package totaling over $1200!!!


If you don't win and would like to get some tunics for you and your girl you can get them from Stella and Dot.  Women's are HERE.  For size reference I'm wearing the XS/S and found it was plenty roomy enough.  The girls tunic, HERE, comes in one size that says it fits girls 6-10.  Little Mama wears an 8/10 and this fit her perfectly.


While I was checking out the Stella and Dot site for sizing info on the tunic I took a look at some of the other goodies they had to offer.  I have been looking for some new gold hoop earrings and LOVED the ones they had.  I have worn out my current pair (from Target) and I'm sure these would be so much nicer.  I also loved they they were just a little different than plain hoops.  Aren't they pretty?!?!


I also really loved these bracelets and necklaces, too.  That anchor bracelet is calling my name for summer and the pink and gold one would match pretty much my whole wardrobe for spring/summer!




Do you love Stella and Dot?  What are your favorites? 
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Getting Pumped: Breastfeeding Essentials


Baby Cute is almost three months old, and I can't believe it! I want time to slow way, way, waaaaaay down. This being my third child, I can safely say in almost every way each child is completely unique and different - and that goes for eating styles as well.


When it comes to feeding your baby, I am in camp "do what you gotta do". The magical thing about the advanced world that we live in today, is that you have a ton of choices available to you when it comes to feeding your new addition, and the only perfect way is the one that works for you and your family.

Baby Cute is the third baby I have nursed, and while she has shown some similarities to her siblings, I have learned that each child comes with it's own unique learning curve. A certain bestie of mine that you all know and love shared this amazing advice with me way back when I was due with Cute and she was already two deep into the wonderful land of motherhood with her third on the way:

"When it comes to nursing, go for small goals. If you make it a day, you make it a day. 
Then try it for a few days. A week. Six weeks. 3 months." 


You get the idea. 

That advice really resonated with me, and it worked! It being my first, I read the books, enlisted the advice of the that are available through the hospital, and trust me when I say nothing truly prepared me for what nursing Cute would be like. It was rewarding, painful, and comforting all wrapped up into one huge emotion. 

Those first few days/weeks were tough. I was swollen, I had been chewed raw, and I had a super sleepy baby so it felt like I was nursing for hours with only minutes in between feedings. Throw in a casein allergy, and now you've taken away one of my beloved coping mechanisms - ice cream. 

I stuck it out though, and like CB said, small goals made it doable, and then I grew to love it. Setting small goals helped me get through each little impasse, and before I knew it a year had passed, and I savored that precious nursing time with my crazy busy little boy.

Fast forward to Little Cute and she was a champion eater. She came out hungry, and never stopped. She had a perfect latch, ate in ten minutes flat, burped herself, and went right back to sleep. She was a dream baby.


Fast forward a few more years, and Baby Cute trends somewhere in between. She loves to nurse, but is sometimes sleepy, and is still working on getting used to the bottle (like her siblings she will boycott in order to get to mommy). Third time around though, I feel as though no matter what the littles throw at me, I've reached the point that my nursing arsenal is so on point I could combat almost anything.

Here are my must have nursing essentials.


BREASTFEEDING ESSENTIALS

GET PUMPED:
My best advice to any mom who think they might want to breastfeed their child is to get a pump. And not just any pump - a great pump! Whether you work, want a night away, or just want to share the joy of feeding your baby with your family - a pump is necessary. Some nursing moms spend more time than they can count with their machine so you want to make it a good one, and by good I mean easy to clean, and comfortable to use.


My favorite is the Medela Freestyle. With my first two I used the Medela Pump and Style, and I loved it. After Little Cute, we thought we were done having children and I gave it away to a friend. The moment I found out I was pregnant again, I put the Freestyle as a top priority on my list.

It comes in a sleek and discreet tote bag, complete with a cooler, a wall charger, all necessary parts, and a few bottles.


It's super easy to use, and the advancements that they have made since the first pump I owned are amazing! One of the worst things about pumping is cleaning all the parts. Back when I had Cute, almost our entire best friend group had a child within months of each other. We all nursed but Bestie L was the only working mom of us all. I remember Bestie L's husband trying to stream line the cleaning process for her since she was working, and all the necessities she had to carry was a lot. He tried to make an adapter to attach a storage bag directly to the pump so it would be one less thing to clean, but it didn't work quite right. Well guess what? Medela must have heard the cries of nursing moms everywhere because...


The Medela Storage Bags come with an adapter! Hallelujah! I mean, life altering - trust me!

And while on the subject of cleaning I love these Medela Quick Clean Micro Steam Bags. They come in a pack of five, but can be used up to 20 times a piece. They are a great way to ensure that your pump parts are getting cleaned safely. Moms have enough to clean, so the easier the better.

The Medela Freestyle has one more amazing benefit - it's recyclable! Medela has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their Waste Wise program. To date the program has recycled 13,844 breast pumps. You simply print out a free shipping label available through their website and then everything will be taken care of.

Not only are you able to help the environment, you also are helping support mother's and babies in NICU units around the country. As part of the program, Medela has committed their support to these mother's by offering to provide the Ronald McDonald House Charities with brand new Symphony Preemie+ Breastpumps. New mother's are able to have access to the high quality pumps that are available to them in the hospital during their stay at the house.


I love knowing that once my breast pump and I decide to officially part ways, it will go on to help other mothers who are in great need.


WHAT TO WEAR: 
One of the other surprising things to me when I began nursing was how much of a challenge getting dressed was. I quickly realized certain tops and dresses weren't very convenient or accessible.


I've mentioned my favorite nursing bras before, but it bares repeating. These sports bras are definitely my favorite, and have been for years.  For regular nursing bras my favorites have been the Bravado! Bliss and the Bravado! Allure.

During Cute's nursing reign I wore nursing tanks occasionally in lieu of a bra under my clothes, but now usually just wear them to bed at night. My favorites have been these. They are relatively inexpensive, come in a wide range of colors, and are longer in length than some others I have tried.


In both my bras and my tanks, I slip in these nursing bra pads so that I don't have to worry about any leaking. I tried some washable ones for awhile, but I felt like the disposable ones were easier to pack in my bag and if I had to switch at some point I could just get rid of the leaked through one. I didn't have to worry about finding a random leaked through one in the bottom of my diaper bag - there's enough random other stuff lurking down there without that added surprise to be found at a later date.


Another one of my favorite things is this Easy Expressions Hands Free Bustier because if I am pumping I get antsy. I've never been one to just sit still for 20 minutes. Nursing is enjoyable when I have a cute little one to look at, but not so much with just a machine attached to my boobs.


With the Easy Expressions Hands Free Bustier I can easily answer emails, read a book, or even fold laundry when I need to. It comes in a variety of sizes and it easily stays in place while you I am moving around. Multitasking for the breastfeeding win!


TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF:
Oh my, those first few days of nursing, or in some cases weeks, can be brutal on your lady parts. After nursing two little ones I finally came up with a routine to make the transition not so bad by the time I got to Baby Cute.  I realized pretty quickly that you have to be proactive from moment one about taking care of yourself or things can go downhill fast and make feedings quite painful.


My three favorite things to help combat those first few days of engorgement and sore nipples are ice packs, a heating pad, and lanolin cream. Before I discovered lanolin cream, I did a lot of unnecessary suffering. Trust me when I say make sure you use it!

GET COVERED:
I know there is a lot of controversy in the media these days about nursing or not nursing in public. Again, to each their own. I personally love having a cover available on hand for certain situations. Not only for personal reasons (Does my 85 grandfather need to see me in all my nursing glory at the dinner table. No.), but I've also found them beneficial in helping baby feed better once they get to the age where they become a little more distracted. Nothing is worse than when your baby sees something out of the corner of their eye and turns their head...with your nipple still in their mouth. Ouch!
I've used this cover now since I nursed Cute and I still love it!


From nursing in restaurants to the car to family functions - it's been everywhere with me and even after all the use and abuse I've put it through, it's held up great! I have it in the Nest color, but there are tons of colors and patterns available.

Those are my top breastfeeding essentials! Did you breastfeed or do you plan on breastfeeding? What have been your go to essentials?

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Kitchen Confessions: Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Now that the weather has finally turned warm we are dreaming of summer days spent at the pool and grilling out for dinner. One of my favorite go-to sides to make for grilling season is this Pepperoni Pasta Salad.


It's SO yummy and the perfect side to make ahead of time and pull out when you are ready to eat.  You can see the recipe HERE on Savvy Sassy Moms.  

Or, if you want a little kitchen confession and want a short cut, you can even make this pasta salad from a boxed mix.  I like using the Suddenly Salad "Classic" pasta salad mix.  Follow directions on the box to prepare, but still sauté the pepperonis and stir in feta cheese, too.  

My kids even love this pasta and I often will eat left overs for lunch.  Super easy and super yummy!  


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Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Favorites

Well, hello again friends.  Another week has come and gone and here we are celebrating the start of the weekend!!!  As usual, we are linking up with some of our favorite bloggers for Friday Favorites today.

~ONE~
One of my favorites from this week are complements.  It just makes you feel good to have someone says something nice, doesn't it?!?!  I got dressed in real clothes a few times this week and people went out of their way to tell me how nice I looked.  Here's the deal, there are a lot of days I look like this:


Sporting my tennis shoes and favorite workout leggings and I'm totally fine with that. I've worked out for the day, I'm comfortable, and I'm not going to waste time showering and getting dressed when I'm just running around doing errands or driving carpool to soccer practice so I just keep those clothes on.  However, on days when I know I have to get up and get dressed, I make the most of it and schedule things on the same day.  On this particular day I was volunteering at the school, had a conference with Boo-Boo's teacher and a doctor's appointment for Blondie.  It was a very busy day, but I was happy to be dressed and ready for everything in one day.


My mom actually gave me this dress.  She accidentally purchased two of them (!!!) on clearance last year and asked if I would like one.  I was so comfy all day and it made me realize that even a dress could be more comfortable than shorts and a tee which is usually my go-to.  I think the key is just having a dress that flows, is loose, and in an easy wearable fabric.  (This exact dress is no longer available, but there are some similar ones HERE // HERE // HERE // HERE).   So for all of the mamas, take this as a PSA...take a little extra effort and wear a dress.  It will instantly make you feel good about yourself and, as an added bonus, you'll be pretty comfortable all day long, too!


~TWO~
Another favorite this week are these fun shoes!  They are called FlipSlips and they are a brand new shoe for commuters and travelers.


The owner/creator reached out to us to share about the concept and we thought it was such a great idea.  No one likes wearing uncomfortable shoes, but sometimes heels are just what you need to wear for certain occasions.  The idea with these shoes is that you can "flip" them and wrap with the ankle strap to keep them in your purse or bag so when your feet start hurting you can slip them on and carry on without uncomfortable feet.


Genius, right?!?!  Each pair comes with additional straps and can be worn with or without the straps. To order the black pair like I'm wearing click HERE and to learn more and see a video check out their website HERE.


~THREE~
For the past few years I've wanted a Barrington bag and I can't believe I can finally call one my own. I must have spent hours on their website designing different options and trying to decide which combination was my favorite.  Jen and I would text pictures of the patterns we liked back and forth to each other trying to get each other's input.  I also stalked their Instagram feed to see ideas.  There are SO many choices and it was seriously such a hard decision, because I knew I would be using it for a while.  In the end I went with the gray gingham because I felt like it would go well with my wardrobe year-round.


I got mine for Christmas and I absolutely love it.  I got the St. Anne's tote size and it is perfect as a "mom bag."  It holds everything I need day-to-day, but also has been great when we travel because I can fit my laptop, iPads for the kids, snacks, etc. Plus, the leather monogrammed patch is just the perfect touch!



~FOUR~
So this week when I was making my routine grocery store rounds I happened to spot these wine cans.  Um, sangria in a portable can.


Yes, please!  This was my view yesterday evening as my kids were playing outside before dinner.  I have a feeling these will continue to be a favorite of mine all summer long!



~FIVE~
Last, but certainly not least is my favorite moment from the week.  My little guy has not had a great interested in reading or writing until recently and I haven't been pushing him.  However, as a former teacher it makes me SO happy to see him excited about learning.  He came home from school yesterday saying he wanted to practice reading and that is exactly what we did.  I pulled out our phonics readers and he did SO awesome.  He's determined and wants to do it and he read his very first books!!!  He was so proud and so were we!!!



I have a few different early phonics reader sets, but I love these BOB books for very early readers.  They are what my girls started with, too and they offer a perfect progression as kids are just learning to read.


We hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  See you back here on Monday!  


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