Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Last year, one of my New Year's resolutions was to start and maintain a blog all year long. I think (aside from the fact that I took a bit of a long sabbatical in November and December) I've done a pretty good job for a newbie blogger -- I've published 110 posts and had over 6000 page views! Yea and thanks for being one (or more) of those page views.

I'm sorry I disappeared for a few months and I'm glad to get back to posting.  And, it seems quite timely that it's exactly one year after my first post that I get back to blogging and make this one of my 2013 resolutions.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy year full of joy and may all that you wish for come true.

Here's to a wonderful, happy and healthy 2013. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Moments of Joy.

Just documenting another photo of buddy that I submitted that got posted!! Kinda exciting! This is on a Fisher Price FB page.

#almost famous

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween Photo Contest Winner! Hip Hip Hooray!

Hip Hip Hooray! Justin won a Halloween Photo Contest, run by the creator of Super Why! And, since he was dressed as Super Why, I thought we might have a good shot!

We won! Tied with a little bumblebee. Here's the link to the post.  And the prize is an autographed Super Why Halloween book.  Buddy will love it!

Halloween Contest

And, I now know who creates our favorite show, Super Why - Angela Santomero. Here's a link to her website and to her twitter feed.

Thanks Angela for making such a great show, and for choosing us the winners of your contest!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

No jacket required.

It was no jacket weather just two weeks ago!! And we were having fun at one of our many pumpkin patch excursions!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My little superhero, the cookie lover.

I haven't posted any Halloween pictures of my little Super Why yet, but here's a sneak peek of his costume.

Here's the little Superhero very much enjoying a delicious cookie that he decorated. We were at a fantastic Halloween event, Bubbleween

We had just decorated our cookies, and I turned around for a second, to turn back and see Buddy immediately and quickly devouring his treat.  I quickly followed with the cookie I had just decorated. He is definitely like his momma!

Super Cookie.

More Halloween pics to come soon!  

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dancing with the Stars: Gangnam Style.

Do you watch Dancing With The Stars?  More importantly, did you see Team Gangnam Style's dance from last night? It is awesome.

They are all (excluding Maks and Kirstie) great dancers. But WOW, Gilles and Peta are A-Mazing. And HOT. WOWZA.

Peta and Gilles

The dance was so much fun to watch.  And watch again.  Take a look.

I also loved Team Call Me Maybe's dance. It was adorable and fun. That's the "young" team I think. Apollo, Shawn, Sabrina and Melissa (though Melissa probably borders).

The other gang, Kirstie, Kelly, Gilles and Emmitt, 40+.  Interesting how the teams turned out that way.  Anyways, just a random thought I had when watching.

Back to the show.  Love Gilles & Peta. And Apollo & Karina. And Emmit & Cheryl and Shawn & Derek. And Kelly & Val are great too.  Hmm -this is getting hard.  Next to go, I'm thinking it has to be Kirstie & Maks.  And Melissa & Tony and Sabrina & Louie, both good, but not favorites of mine.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Best cousins, best pals.

Ok, I have to share this picture. I love it. It's Justin and two of his first cousins who were visiting from California.  They were all sitting at the piano, playing to their heart's delight.

Three budding pianists! Having such a good time. And here're a few more during their jam session:

Looking on as big cousin plays.


Just the boys. 

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012 new site and 30% off.

I found a new website yesterday:  It's part of the family, which is now owned by has been introducing new sites over the past year, including (household), (toys) and (pets).  They now have three new sites; (books), (wine) and (sports).

Okay, enough background, back to  First of all, it's adorable. Very eye catching, appealing, yet clean. I found it to be very inviting.  Take a look at the home page:

Second of all, they have a great introductory offer: 30% off on up to three books. Use code: BOOKWORM30.  First order only.

Third of all, while I LOVE Amazon dearly (and buy from there WAY too much), it's nice to have a focused site to search for books. Almost like going to a little book store.  Since it's new, they don't yet have the extent of customer reviews like Amazon, and not as many "If you like this, you may like...." options, but that will come with time.

However, they do not offer free shipping like Amazon does.  Well, they do if the order is $49 or more. But how often do you spend $50 at one time on books? But it's a flat $4.99, so not TOO bad.  Plus, the 30% should definitely offset the price of shipping ... so it's worth a try.  I'll let you know how things go once I place my order.

Gotta go and pick some books for the little guy now!

ps - please share your favorite books for your kids, we're looking to stock up on some new stories.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Loving my new iPad.

I just got an iPad! I'm really psyched.  I originally didn't think I needed one, with my Mac and my iPhone.  I mean, when would I use it?

I was wrong.

I just got it yesterday, and already found a very good use for it ... I spent my (brief) lunch break watching last night's Gossip Girl on the iPad.  That definitely added some fun to my work day.

I think maybe this will become a regular plan of mine. Grab lunch, find a spot with free wi-fi and watch me an episode of a good soapy show.  Now sadly, there are only eight more eps of GG. OMF.GG.

I do need to find some new shows.  But that's for another post.  In the meantime, if you have an iPad, please share some of the ways you use yours! Apps? Shows? Games? Do tell.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pumpkin picking fun.

We went pumpkin picking for the first time last weekend at a place called Didier Farms.  It was so much fun!  They had large Halloween themed cutouts, kiddie rides, pony rides, a pumpkin patch (obviously!), homemade apple cider doughnuts (yum), a bouncy pumpkin  house and more.

Justin had such a great time.  He was mesmerized by the rows and rows of pumpkins and just loved picking out his own.  He even held it on his little lap all the way home.  It was really sweet.

Of course, I took a ton of pictures, and rather than write all about the trip, I thought I'd let the photos tell the story of our trip to Didier Farms.

Hello! I'm riding the bus!
Ooh, a purple haunted house!
Yes Ma'm, I do know how to drive.

I'm driving a fire truck!

Running through pumpkins.

This might be a good one.

I love my pumpkin.

Daddy and the little pumpkin.

Me and my pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sweet Shot Tuesday.

Little Pumpkin picking pumpkins.

More pumpkin picking pics posted here.
(now say that five times!)

Linking up to Sweet Shot Tuesday and Wittle People Wednesday.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Toddler shoe shopping: five great fall options.

Let's face it. All shoes are cute when they are tiny. And tiny feet grow very quickly.

Which means two things:
  1. You'll need to buy shoes pretty frequently since you'll have to keep buying new sizes.

    MEANING: Yea! Get to buy lots of shoes!

  2. You'll need to buy new shoes pretty frequently since you'll have to keep buying new sizes.

    MEANING: Ya probably shouldn't buy too many of any size since they'll grow out of them really fast.

I like to have an assortment, which usually has one or two pairs of good, quality sneakers and then a couple of fun (read: no arch support and not "recommended" by the shoe saleperson at Nordstrom) shoes.

Here are my recommendations for a good fall shoe collection.  All of the shoes are under $40 (except the Stride Rites which are $42).  The first three are already in Justin's collection:

1. Tiny Tom Navy Cord Classics
Tiny Tom Cord Classics

Though Toms don't really have arch support, they are so darn cute, I cannot resist.  You may recall my story about last year's Toms, and this year I'm hoping for some more usage.  The problem on this pair, they don't seem to be in stock anywhere anymore.  However, they also have a pair of the red cords at the Toms website.

2. Stride Rite Shane

Stride Rite Shane

We know Stride Rite makes great shoes for kids. Good quality, has an arch (very important!) and seemingly very comfortable. They are not as "hip" as toms, Adidas, Converse, etc., but you can definitely find some cute Stride Rites.  I like this pair a lot. Fun colors and a really good shoe.

3. Adidas Samba
Adidas Samba

These are the "cool kicks". And aren't soccer shoes so cute?  These are adorable, but I will say that they are a bit tough to put on - they don't have laces or velcro.  Over the summer we had a pair of Gazelles, which were much easier to put on, since they had velcro. Available all over online.

4. Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Stars
Converse Kids Chuck Taylor All Stars

Love mini Converses. They are maybe the cutest of all little kid's shoes.  And they come in a zillion colors and styles. Not in the "good shoes for your feet" category, but a good "every once in a while" shoe to wear. I've done blue and white in the past and get tons of compliments.

5. Saucony Baby Jazz H&L
Saucony Baby Jazz H&L

Saucony gyms are great shoes. They are cute, easy to put on and high quality.  A bit "hipper" looking than Stride Rites and still good for you. Very light shoes also.  I've bought them with every size Justin has been in and plan to buy another pair soon. I happen to like this blue - goes with a lot.

Am I missing any great shoes? Let me know your recommendations!

ps - Also need to get some winter boots. I've never bought boots for Justin. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blog Redesign. Even better look!

I've made some changes again.  This is how I've been spending my late night time this past week (as I eat mini pints of Haagen Dazs Peanut Butter and Chocolate ice cream). Researching ways to improve my blog, updating my header, adding a new background and learning how to add some CSS to change the font in my tabs, sidebars and post titles!

Fun, yes?

In a humble way, I must say that I think it is looking pretty good! I'm excited because I've slowly figured this out myself.  And I am hooked on finding ways to modify and edit.

But I can't seem to figure out how to move the "You might also like" section underneath the comments and still be above the separator line. Does that make sense to anyone?  If yes, and you know what to do - give a shout (please).

And there are definitely some other odds and ends that need fixing.  But that's for another night.

And I really do welcome your feedback.  Let me know what you think.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Les Miserables: The Movie. Coming this Christmas!

I cannot wait. Les Miserables is being made into a movie. Again.  But this time, it looks incredible.

Take a look at the trailer:

It's breathtaking. If you've seen this show live, you know how powerful and emotional of a show it is. This film looks like it has the potential to do almost the same.

It's hard to imagine that a film could be as strong as a live production, but the director used a different method than used with most musical films. The cast recorded their vocals live on set while filming, instead of pre-recording their vocals in a studio months in advance and then dubbing it in.

By allowing them to sing while filming, the actors are singing IN character, IN the scene and WITH the other cast members, which makes it feel so much more realistic. In essence, it is how they do it in a stage production.

Take a look at the Extended First Look below, which explains this method and includes both film footage and interviews with the cast members.  It is a fantastic four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

How amazing does this look? And Anne Hathaway is incredible. I had no idea. I heard her sing at the Oscars once and I know she's a good actress, but WOW is all I can say.  That shot of her shaking and crying as she sings is so powerful.

I've never heard Russell Crowe sing - wonder how he'll be? Notice, he seems to be the only one not seen singing in the trailer! Someone that I know has a friend who was his vocal coach for this! That's less than six degrees of separation for him, right?

So, what do you think of the cast?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Yea! Our birthday party is featured online.

I'm excited - the place where we had Justin's birthday party put up a photo of our birthday party on their site!!  It only shows a little bit of the decorations, but I'm happy that they wanted to use our party as one of their example pictures!

Take a look below - or to see it live, visit the Bubbles website.

I have to give another shout out to Bubbles -- having our party there was great! Highly recommend if you live in the Chicago area!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cupcakes: Crumbs vs. Sprinkles.

Ok, time to talk cupcakes. I love them. All kinds.  And there are so many cupcake shops, but let's go straight to the big three: Crumbs, Magnolia and Sprinkles.

Which is the best?

I unequivocally vote for Crumbs.  If you've been here before, you'll know that I have raved about the Ba Ba Booey Crumbs Cupcake. It is divine. DIVINE.

Others prefer Magnolia, which I am not a fan of - at all. And many people love Sprinkles, so the other night, I was nearby, and decided to give Sprinkles a whirl.  I knew that I've had Sprinkles in the past, but I honestly couldn't remember.

Not a great sign for a cupcake.

I ordered the Carrot Cupcake and it was good, no doubt about it.  But it's no Crumbs.

So, since it was so long ago that I had Magnolia, I'd like to knock them out of this conversation and talk a little more about Crumbs vs. Sprinkles and the reasons why Crumbs wins my cupcake war.

Friday, September 21, 2012

What is appropriate to spend on a birthday gift?

We have a number of upcoming birthday parties and - this being my first foray into the children's birthday party world - I have some questions on birthday gift related etiquette.

I have some initial thoughts, but I have no ideas if I'm on target or way off! Take a look at the questions below and please let your thoughts!

Question 1: What is an appropriate amount to spend on a child's birthday gift?
I would think between $20 - $25 for someone who isn't a relative or close close friend is a good amount, but I have no clue! Is this nice? cheap?  Do tell me please! 

Question 2:  Do you try to be an equal spender or do you stick with what you believe is appropriate, regardless of what someone spent on your child?
Hypothetical #1: Someone spends $15 on your child. You are invited to their child's birthday party soon after. Do you:
a) Spend $15 and call it a day
b) Spend $25 because you feel that's a good amount to spend
c) Split the difference and make it $20

Question 3: If you cannot attend a birthday party, do you get a gift? If so, how much do you spend? 
a) The same amount you would if you had gone to the party
b) Less, since you weren't there
c) No need to get a gift at all
d) More because you feel bad you weren't at the party

Would love love to get some input! We have a birthday tomorrow and a birthday next weekend and these answers would be super helpful!!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Same place, new look.

I'm trying out a new look on the blog ... trying to look a bit more professional (meaning, I want to be more like the blogs that we all know and love) and seeing if any of my changes make YOU, my reader, enjoy your experience more.

Do you like the new look? Is it easier to read? Cleaner? Friendlier? Or, do you miss the original (pic below)?

Website pre-update.

Please, let me know! I'd love to hear from you.  Thanks!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Justin's Sesame Street party: part 2 (party pics).

You probably (hopefully!) already read Part 1 of Justin's Sesame Street birthday party, which was all about the planning and the decorations (if not, visit here to read).  Now here are some great pics of the birthday boy enjoying his party "so much" (his words).  And what a sweetheart he is, hugging and kissing all of his little friends! Enjoy!

Birthday boy in action!

Hugs with his "older" friend Lila.

Kisses for his friend Noah.

Tickles from his friend Colin.

Big hugs from cousin Abby.

Little friends hanging out.

Blowing out candles with some help from mom & dad.

Great big friends and great little friends.

Happy Trio.

I adore this little boy.

I can't believe my little boy is already two!  It's incredible to watch him grow and learn. And such a happy happy little boy he is. Justin brightens our lives every day! Happy Birthday little buddy!

And now it's time to start thinking about birthday #3! Will it be Thomas? Super Why? White Sox Baseball?  We shall see....

In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for themes or great sites for party ideas (or even better, your own), let me know! 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Justin's Sesame Street birthday party: part 1.

Last weekend was Justin's 2nd birthday party.  The party was at Bubbles, a local Chicago children's "play" venue, and the theme was Sesame Street.

When I decided to have a Sesame Street theme, I knew that I did not want it to be too overtly Sesame (think Sesame Street party kits), so I decided to focus on bright primary colors and accent with Sesame Street decor.

It turned out great and I'm excited to share with you all a look at the party.  Keep on reading and have a look!