Road Trip Music for kids + Adults.

29 March 2013 | 5 Comments

It’s that time of year.  The time of year when parents lose their ever loving minds and decide to go on vacation with their kids.  By car.

Spring Break.

Every year, my mom would pack us into the car and we’d drive somewhere.  It was most often Anna Maria Island, Florida with a few Myrtle Beach trips thrown in for good measure.  Back then, on good travel days, my sister Lyndsey and I would play games, share snacks, and laugh for hours.  On bad days, we’d put a piece of tape down the middle of the back seat and vow to never speak to each other again.  She’s put her finger inches from my face and chant, “I’m not touching yooooou!”

The joy of family road trips.

One of the biggest bouts of contention in our car was the music.  Back then it was radio, we didn’t even have a cd player in the car, so we’d find local radio stations and groan when my mom would choose something OLD.  I still cringe every time Huey Lewis is played… thanks mom.  Our other option was mixed tapes.  You know how I love a good mix tape.

Now I’m the mom and I understand why, after listening to New Kids on the Block ad nauseum, she probably wanted to escape the car as much as we did.  Can a happy medium be found between songs kids will enjoy and songs adults will enjoy?  We are sure going to try.  Here is our list:

Can’t get enough playlists perfect for a road trip?  Check out President Obama’s, Alphamom’s, Brittany’s, and this incredible one from Dinner a Love Story.

What is your favorite road trip song?

Spidey Tate.

28 March 2013 | 0 Comments

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Pink tutu and Spiderman mask.  Does it get any more stylish?

Can We Talk About Easter Baskets?

27 March 2013 | 9 Comments

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Filling Easter baskets is hard work.  I’m not sure how that bunny does it year after year with such gusto.  I don’t like giving my kids a bunch of candy.  Mostly because I have to deal with the aftermath of a sugar induced crash, but also because I hear chants for candy from both of them.  Frankly, it drives me bonkers.  Before you go feeling bad for them, you should know that their grandmothers usually make sure to fill that quota enough for the year. 

Last year, Finn got an egg full of Skittles, some jelly beans, and a chocolate bunny.  That ‘Fun Dip’ you see is actually a fruity blue chapstick.  I made the mistake of Fun Dip once… never again. 

And Tate?  She got super yummy Ella’s Kitchen fruit pouches and snuck a jelly bean or two from her brother when I wasn’t looking.

The problem lies in the fact that it’s easy to get a bunch of candy and go to town.  It’s hard coming up with fun things to fill the baskets that aren’t candy.  My ‘go to’ items are some kind of outfit or pajamas, coloring books, movies, and whatever other junk I come across in the aisle of Target when I am shopping the night before Easter.  How about we add insult to injury and add three dozen plastic eggs to fill as well?

Quarters and Goldfish Crackers for everyone!

Share some non-candy ideas with me please!  I want some fun new ideas.  What do your kids love?  What were your favorites as a kid?  Did your bunny hide your basket for you?

Blissdom 2013.

25 March 2013 | 11 Comments

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that I spent the weekend in Dallas at Blissdom.  This was the first year I attended a conference even though I have been a blogger for five years.  It’s a bit of a dichotomy to come from a place of blog experience and still be a newbie, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. 

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Blissdom is exactly what YOU make it.

There are women who come to Blissdom for a girls weekend, those who want to learn, those who want a ton of swag, those who want to dress up, those who wear jeans, those who are looking for inspiration, those who want to hang out with their bloggy superstars, those who want to meet people, those who want to expand their business, and those who are so new they want to learn HOW to blog. My point is, whatever you might want to take out of Blissdom, you can. It’s structured in a way where you make your own path.

I had specific goals in mind for what I wanted to take out of Blissdom.  I wanted to learn something new.  I wanted to say hello to a few people whom I have been reading and enjoying for years.  I wanted to expand beyond my current circle of blog friends and find new talented women to read.  I wanted to connect with brands I wanted to work with.  I wanted to introduce myself and talk about my blog so many times that I couldn’t help feeling more comfortable explaining my online home to a stranger.  I wanted to spend time with my friend Jess who I absolutely positively adore.

I accomplished all of those things and more.

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You will spend a whole weekend with your “Internet Friends” and it will feel normal.  These are your people.

“You blog?  What exactly is that? Oh, you get paid to do that? How does that work?  People just read about your life and stuff?  What do you mean by fifty thousand page views a month?”  I get asked these questions a lot in my day to day conversations with people.  I loved walking into a room, sitting down, and everyone at the table having an understanding of what I do all day.

I also got to meet some awesome bloggers.

I am a big fan of Zakary’s writing at Raising Colorado.  She’s funny and down to earth and just about one of my favorite bloggers on the planet.  If you don’t read her, you need to.  Thursday night, I accosted her at the get together, believe it or not, she’s even better in person and her hair is as great as you’d think it would be.  <—Jealous.  Um, Z, we didn’t even take a pic? WTF.

If Alli were smart, she’d make Casey of Moosh in Indy the unofficial cheerleader for the Blissdom newbies forever.  She was tweeting first thing Thursday morning and was so consistently friendly and incredible all weekend.  Looooved her.

Poor Kate of The Small Things. I stopped her in the hall, said hello, and promptly told her about my friend Karri writing, “OMG you have to meet this girl, she is at Blissdom, I love her hair tutorials,” on my Facebook wall earlier that morning.  If you are on Pinterest, you know Kate’s work.  And Kate?  I’d like to know how many times someone asked you to do their hair this weekend AND how much pressure did you feel to have a good hair day four days straight?  

I also was so happy to meet: Gigi Ross of Kludgy Mom, she was working, but I was happy to say hello and chat for a few minutes on Thursday night.  I introduced myself to Edie of Life In Grace on Saturday night, she was wearing the cutest polka dot dress.  Sili of My Mamihood is someone I follow on Twitter, she’s incredibly talented.  I had never met Erica Mueller of Erica Says before Blissdom, she was super welcoming and warm and had some super cute clothes!

And Kristina.  I don’t care what Jon Acuff says, you complete me.  

You will learn a ridiculous amount of information.

Like I said, I have been around the blogging block quite a few times.  Five years is akin to old people time in blog years.  I {mostly} know what I am doing and I still took so much away from Blissdom.  For me, there was a great mix of  practical advice, things you could come home and put into practice for immediate results, and motivational advice for the bigger picture.  Stand out speakers for me were Scott Stratten, Shelly Kramer, and Lucrecer Braxton.  I also laughed my way through Jon Acuff’s closing keynote.

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20 March 2013 | 6 Comments

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Quiche in a jar + Pinterest.

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Our lime tree + blanket forts.

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Dave fixing all the computer stuff I break + power breakfast meetings.

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Skyping with my sister {who I miss something fierce} + that sundae {bacon, chocolate, and bourbon pineapple}

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Snuggles with Finn + my favorite giant sunglasses.

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Reading.  Reading. Reading. + Coloring.

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Inflight activities + Travel buddies.

Monty Poodle.

19 March 2013 | 4 Comments


Every morning before school, after Finn and Tate have had their breakfast, Finn tells Monty to sit.  He carefully scoops out the right amount of food.  It’s then that Tate tells the already sitting Monty again to “sit,” and she scrambles over and loudly deposits the food into his dish before shuffling back over to her brother to return the empty cup with an expectant smile on her face.  Finn has been doing this breakfast feeding routine for almost four years now and I think he misses being the one to put the food in the dish.  He lets his little sister do it because she gets so excited to help.  Monty still looks to Finn for the OK to go scarf down breakfast, which he does in seconds.

Eight years ago, I found the photo of a sweet scruffy faced poodle online.  I emailed Dave who promptly responded that he didn’t think now was a good time for a dog and he for sure didn’t want a poodle.  Now, in Dave’s defense, I had been emailing him for months about getting a dog, one that would get along with our Dexter kitty.  There was a particular incident in which I began sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of a pet adoption because the dog we came to meet had already found her forever home.  We were in the midst of wedding planning.  And taking off for a two week European honeymoon.  Oh, and I was finishing my senior year of college.  And working full time. 

If I am being honest, it really wasn’t the time.

I begged him to just take a look.  Once he did, it was moments before he was making the call to see if ‘Joey’ was still available. 

I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

He agreed to go meet him and make the decision while I was in class that evening.  He knew that if I went we would unequivocally be coming home with a dog. 

I think he may have underestimated the power of a cute, furry face. 

Ties For Little Boys.

18 March 2013 | 4 Comments

zipper ties for boys

With Easter coming up and legions of little boys wearing suits, I thought I’d share a clever find today.

Finn has to wear a uniform to school. Most days he wears a polo and dress pants, but once a week, sometimes twice, he likes to wear an oxford and tie to school. His goal is to look like Neal Caffrey from the show White Collar. Let’s just look past the fact that this character is a convicted felon and art thief, shall we? Instead let’s focus on how cute my little dude looks in a tie.

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The only issue is boys’ ties!  I can’t stand clip on ties for boys.  Finn would probably spend all day clipping and unclipping it and frankly, they don’t look great.

Five year olds aren’t exactly dexterity kings, right?  So a regular necktie isn’t the most practical solution either.

So how do we do ties?

Years and years ago, my sister passed down a Chaps tie that is on a zipper from my nephew Dylan.  I know right?  Genius idea.  I had never heard of these!

How does it work? This tie is exactly like a regular tie that is already knotted.  You know how you can loosen or tighten a tie? This one is on a zipper so you tighten it just like a regular tie by pulling down on the skinny end of the tie behind the front. The knot is stationary just like a regular tie. The only thing that is different, the zipper has a stopper both ways. So you can’t over tighten and choke yourself and you can’t loosen to the point of pulling the skinny end out of the knot.

You just slip it over your head and tighten.  Brilliant!

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chaps boys tie

There are a ton of boys’ zipper ties available at Amazon.  Our personal favorites are at Macy’s.  They have a great selection of Nautica, Tommy Hilfiger, and Calvin Klein, plus you can buy them in store.  If you are ordering online, toddlers do well with the 11” size and boys should go with a 14” tie.

Happy zippering!

Friday Finest.

15 March 2013 | 8 Comments

Because I like to share fun things with you.

<<< Hey, you should totally make these delicious Guiness Cupcakes for St Pattys day.  

>>> MUCH ado about nothing.  June. Plus?  Nathan Fillion.  Who wants to see this with me?

<<< Lia never ceases to amaze me.  A dress made out of Vogue magazines.

>>> Hey Dave, I know what I want to do for our next vacation.

<<< I never wear heels and my mom just bought me these 4” wedges that are the most comfortable shoes ever.  I now want them in every color… they even have bright yellow!  Everyone pray that I don’t break my neck at Blissdom.

>>> Did you eat pie {or pi} yesterday?

<<< Google Reader and more specifically my beloved “NEXT” button are leaving.  I can’t tell you the gut punch this is.  The comments on this post made me laugh and nod my head.

Mama. Mommy. Mom.

13 March 2013 | 10 Comments

I am the girl, who in sixth grade gender separated sex talk, asked embarrassingly, “So, what do you do about your period when you’re pregnant?”  Thankfully, not quite grasping the concept of the female menstrual cycle when you’re twelve doesn’t preclude you from getting pregnant eighteen years later.  The fertility drugs helped.   Twelve year old Michelle and my Catholic grade school teachers would be in awe of the mad reproductive knowledge of thirty-six year old Michelle.

I do find myself trying to navigate this whole motherhood thing though and some days I feel as confused as twelve year old me. 

I say really bizarre things.

Great helping Tay, but we do not use dog water to sweep the floor.

We do not hit daddy in the face with a book.

Cookies aren’t a healthy snack choice.

Sometimes, as they are uttered, I look around for my own mother.  It isn’t her though, it’s me.  I am the mom. 

And it is weird. 

Tell me motherhood is magical and special and blah blah blah.  WEIRD is what it is.

I mean, it’s a pretty jarring moment the first time it happens.  Right?  Your brow furrows and you make the face that says, did that seriously just come out of my mouth?  Am I really the one making the rules around this joint?  Frankly, cookies sound like a delicious snack choice to me.  Who put me in charge?  I don’t even understand how periods work!

While we’re at it, a heads up would have been nice, not only will you eventually turn into your mother, but SURPRISE! an actual baby is coming to live at your house. 

I know this should seem fairly obvious given the fact that you are registering for baby gifts and furiously reading fruit comparisons of just how big that baby is growing inside your ever expanding uterus, but it’s not.  You roll your eyes when people tell you to sleep as much as humanly possible and go out to dinner at 9 pm with your friends before that baby arrives.  Of course, YOU will do everything by the 37 parenting books you read and YOUR life won’t change.  It’s that other poor woman who will have a house full of music playing toys that pop on in the middle of the night and scare the shit out of her. 

How hard can a baby be?  It’s a lemon now!  A papaya!  A watermelon!

Let me answer that for you… right after you stay up for 24 hours straight and drink a pot of coffee because that is as close an approximation I can get to the the state you’ll be in for the next several years of your life.

A moment happens though, and no one tells you this either, where that sweet baby is put into your arms and you still feel like you, but you’re also someone new.  You are a mom and your heart grows three sizes that day, just like the Grinch. 

Trust me, you will need all that love for when they are five years old screaming about baths and one year old scaling their tiny play kitchen to escape their crib.

Android Apps For Toddlers.

12 March 2013 | 3 Comments

We have some favorite toddler apps for Android and we thought we’d share them with you today.  Maybe you’re looking for some apps for your toddler too?  Some were recommendations from friends and readers, some were happily stumbled upon. I’ll do another post with Finn’s favorites for the early school aged kiddos, but today it’s all about the toddlers.

Tate is twenty-one months, she doesn’t get a lot of screen time.  She plays for a short time once or twice a week, usually while we’re waiting for Finnegan in the car line or if a little quiet time is needed at our house.  Apps geared for this age need to be easy to navigate and short enough to captivate their attention. 

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Our Favorite Toddler Apps For Android

  1. Peekaboo Barn:  Tate LOVES this app.  I’m sure it will lose it’s appeal as she grows older, but it’s a great first app.  Tap the screen and you hear the barn animal make a sound, tap it again and the doors open revealing the animal and the word.  Hearing her say “woo-ster” will never get old.   
  2. Itsy Bitsy Spider:  You follow the spider through the nursery rhyme.  Tons of hidden things for you to find like water going down the spout, things to count, and growing plants.  Tate loves the wheeee that comes with sliding down the rainbow. 
  3. Bubbles :  This app is so simple.  Put your finger on the screen, it makes a bubble.  Tap it, it pops.  Easy and fascinating for little fingers. 
  4. Sandra Boynton’s Moo Baa La La La and Blue Hat Green Hat:  These two books are not only silly, but they have hidden all kinds of quirky little goodies for you to find.  I see something different every time she plays them.
  5. Dr Seuss’ Hop On Pop and Mr Brown Can Moo and The Foot Book:  Dr Seuss is unparalleled for his goofy stories and funny rhymes.  These three are our favorites, but there is a whole library to explore.  I love that as the narrator is reading, the words are highlighted.  You can also touch different places on the page and the word will pop up.

What are some of your favorite toddler apps?


11 March 2013 | 8 Comments

Last week, we went to Austin.  It was an unplanned, last minute trip, we flew into Dallas and drove three hours to Austin.  Dave’s uncle has been in the ICU for three weeks.  We are so incredibly thankful that it did not end with the outcome we were all expecting.  The doctor used the word remarkable, how often does that happen?  I am not going to share much more than that because it isn’t my story to tell, but the magnitude of this gift is infinite.  We would love it if you could send a good thought for his continued improvement.

In between hospital visits, the kids wanted nothing more than to be outside soaking up every bit of the warm weather.  We even saw swim practice being held outside.  In March! 

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We stayed in Dallas the night before we left.  The DFW Marriott front desk staff were sweet enough to give us a room with a view of the airplanes landing.  Finn was thrilled and I think Dave was too.

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I even got to sneak a visit in with Jess, who has been my blog friend for years and years now.  Love her.  She is every bit as incredible {and gracious about my crazy family} as I expected she would be.  It took us years to meet in person and now I get to see her again next week for Blissdom!

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Friday Finest.

08 March 2013 | 3 Comments

Because I like to share fun things with you.

>>> Hi, My name is Terra.  I’m six.  I’m a girl.  I’m a breakdancing badass. 

<<< a couple who found their baby on a subway

>>> I really love these engagement photos, so intimate and gorgeous.

<<< Dave and I are going to Mexico woo hoo, you can bet I’ll be using these tips to look flawless.

>>> This photograph is gorgeous.

Happy weekend to you, my peeps.

I’m a Writer. Sort Of. OK, I Blog.

06 March 2013 | 3 Comments

Writers write books.  Writers write newspaper and magazine articles.  Writers write technical journals.  Writers write.  Writers get paid for their words. 


Yes, I write things most days. And yes, I get paid to do that whether it’s here in my own space or in someone else’s.

But, I’m not a writer.

I am a blogger.

Are you reading that like a dirty word in your head? 

Are visions of bad photos and infrequent blog posts dancing before your eyes? 

Did you just roll your eyes at me?

I am a blogger. 

I’m not just ok with being a blogger, or waiting to call myself a writer.   

Blogging takes creativity, photography, editing, PR, marketing, site coding, oh… and writing.  Doing it right is hard work.  {I do not in any way profess to be doing it right, sometimes I get it very wrong.  In fact, some of those doing it wrong moments have been catalysts for betterment.} 

Using my voice is something I am proud of, but so too are all of the other pieces that are in play. 

It’s Not You. It’s Me. And Blissdom.

04 March 2013 | 7 Comments

Hi.  My name is Michelle.  I’m going to Blissdom for the very first time, and I don’t want a roommate.

I have been doing this blogging thing for a long time.  Five years, in fact and I have never been to a conference.  Not a one.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Timing.  Children.  Not taking myself seriously for awhile there?  Nerves.  Procrastination.  A combination of all of these things?  

Oh yes, I see all your posts about the. best. roommates. ever.  I know the joys of having someone to walk around with.  Someone to share dinner with.  Someone to gossip with.  The thoughtful, clever roommate gifts!**  The suitcase space saving benefits of sharing a straightener, a hairdryer, and a power strip.  Not to mention sharing the room cost. 

I totally get that.  There are girls going to Blissdom that I would room with in half a second if it weren’t for this thing... me.

I am thirty-six years old and I know what I like.  I like an entire closet to myself and someone making my bed every morning.  I like to sleep naked.   I like to stay up until 3 am and hit the snooze three times before actually waking up.  I like to have an entire king sized bed to myself.  I like to watch horrendously awful shows on cable.  I like dance parties with myself and JT’s Pandora station while getting ready.

I am not going to apologize for my unabashed love for Mr Timberlake any more than I am going to apologize for wanting a room of my own.  

I don’t have these things at home, so I relish them when I am travelling alone.  Do you know what else I don’t have at home?   A whole lot of solitude.  And I like it.  It is good for me.  Processing time.  Quiet. 

I am incredibly excited about Blissdom.  I am going to hug Jess and Andrea and stalk Kate and Carmen and accost Gigi, who will be working the entire time.  {I am also exhibiting some serious angst and poured one off for my homie, Ms Zakary had some familial issues to tend to and won’t be able to make it.  Oh ZDub how I will miss thee!}  I am looking forward to meeting bloggers from all over, both those whose blogs I read or twitter friends and those I haven’t met yet.  I am going to wear cute clothes and maybe even heels.  I’m going to stay out too late and wear make up and carry a purse that doesn’t have a diaper in it.

And then, at the end of the night, I am going to go back to my room alone.  The most thoughtful, clever roommate gift I could have ever given… to myself. 


** I will totally be bringing a few thoughtful, clever, non-roommate gifts for my girls.

Friday Finest.

01 March 2013 | 5 Comments

Because I like to share fun things with you.

>>> I will take one of everything at Crave.  Especially this, these, and OMG this.

<<< Big Bad Wolf + Red Riding Hood as rappers? Yes.

>>> I love these shoes like whoa. Someone tell the Davester.  No seriously, you want his number?

<<< Tomorrow is Dr Seuss’ birthday.  Celebrate with green eggs.

>>> If I were Kaelah, I would LIVE in this dress.  Perfection.

<<< Did you know that Panera Bread has a secret menu?

>>> This nursery is out of this world.

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