Things we love – months four thru eleven.

I had every intention of doing a post like this every four months or so after I hit the publish button on this one.  That obviously didn’t happen.  But there are a few things that Ava has really loved and that we have loved for her, so here they are. {It should go without saying that none of these companies know I exist and this is not a sponsored post, but I’ll say it anyway.  No sponsorship here.}

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ZoLi straw cup – This cup is sturdy (as evidenced by its continued integrity following many, many gravity tests) and easy for little hands to manipulate. The straw has a little weight on the end so it goes to wherever the water is based on the angle at which it is being held. It’s also a stellar tool for an impromptu game of peek-a-boo.

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4Moms high chair – This is one of the pricier high chairs on the market so definitely a splurge. But we LOVE it and it has been worth every penny. No cloth, no vinyl. So easy to wipe down and clean which is important with any type of solid food consumption and imperative with baby led weaning – or with feeding babies in general, I suppose!  Seriously, this thing takes less than a minute to clean, regardless of how messy she was at mealtime.  Like the time I gave her a little tub of yogurt and told her to go to town while I cooked dinner.  The tray (secured by super strong magnets) is easy to remove and attach with one hand, leaving the other hand free for holding a baby or food or a glass of wine. ;-)  The chair is the perfect height for our table and we will continue to use it as a booster seat without the tray when she’s a little older. {Also, look how tiny she is in this picture! Just a little 6 month old.)

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Music class instruments – these little instruments came with our music class and Ava loves loves loves them.  It has been really fun to see her go from just chewing on everything to actually shaking, rattling, jingling, drumming…

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Lamaze fish bowl toy – (I keep forgetting to get a picture.  Maybe I’ll add one later…or maybe you should just click the link.)  This was a gift from a woman I work with to my mother-in-law and my MIL was generous enough to give the toy to us to keep at our house so Ava can play with it anytime. Ava loves all the little toys in the fish bowl, but the crinkly crab is her favorite. This toy is used in the Roots of Empathy program, which is further proof that it’s awesome. Sidenote:  We have since become some kind of advertisement for Lamaze/Tomy toys because we also own this clutch cube and this book and these stacking rings.

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Board books – They are sturdy and can hold up against a little rough love. We have several little sets of board books from Usborne and really like them a lot. We have started limiting and monitoring their time with Ava after she sprouted teeth because those sharp little chompers can really put a dent in the poor books.

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Crinkly and cloth and indestructible books – We were given one cloth book of nursery rhymes as a shower gift and we got as a gift from a work friend a Hallmark brand crinkly book that has been a perfect diaper bag toy.  I also ordered a cloth book from an Usborne rep, and that one is perfect to keep in the travel crib that normally lives in our room (so we can corral Ava while we get ready in the morning and don’t want to fight her eating the cat food).  I also got her three Indestructibles books, which are amazing.  We keep one in the diaper bag, one in the travel crib, and one downstairs in the pack and play.

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Blocks – Every kid needs blocks, right?  It’s like some kind of developmental necessity.  So I found these and they are perfect.  The colors are great – bright and fun.  There are numbers (1-10) and animals and interesting shapes on each.  I love the little bag for storage, and we don’t have to worry about splinters or paint chipping off when Ava inevitably gnaws on them.

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American Pediatrics book – We bought this monster right after Ava was born and we call it the user manual.  :)  {It’s still crazy to me that they just sent us home from the hospital with this little bitty human being.  We had no training, no experience, save a two hour infant CPR class.}  We’ve referred to it a fair amount and will continue to do so as it covers ages birth through five.  At which point I guess we need a new manual.

Tell me a few things you love – kid related or NOT!

Current obsessions.

I’ve been distracted from blogging recently.  Lots going on at work, etc.  But I need to sneak in a Mother’s Day recap – one week tardy – and there are a few things that I’ve been obsessing over.  Including but not limited to….

We’ve been loving big, hearty salads as dinner entrees recently and I bet that will continue to be the case as the weather gets warmer and warmer.  They’re refreshing and light, but as long as meat is included, my appetite remains sated til breakfast.

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I’m obsessed with my new car!  We went with a 2016 Honda CRV and it’s fantastic.  Her name is Pearl and she’s just that – a gem.  I also love that Lisa has been enjoying Blue.  Blue is in a good home and that makes me happy. Weirdly obsessed with my cars? …Fact.

This documentary about four guys who take 12 mustangs from Mexico to Canada.  Recommended to me by my childhood friend, Tana, it’s called Unbranded and we watched it on Netflix.  The scenery they cover is gorgeous and makes me want to visit all the national parks between here and Canada.  And I fell in love with all the horses.

Watching “Unbranded” opened our eyes to all the documentary options on Netflix.  We’ll be diving into those more often.  We recently watched “Three Stars” which is about Michilen restaurants.  Interesting, but it basically just confirmed that we’ll choose Dion’s (a local pizza/sandwich/salad place) over those fancy restaurants any day of the week.

I’ve also been into a few shows on Netflix.  I watched the two seasons of “Lipstick Jungle”, which was easy and fun.  “New Girl” has been a new favorite.  My sister recommended “The Ranch” and “Blue Bloods” and “Baby Daddy”.  Kevin may be into the former two so we may try those together, but I’ll probably tackle the latter on my own when I’m done with “New Girl”.

I’ve been dabbing Supergood CC Cream on the ol’ face these days and am really liking the coverage, lightness of it, and that it’s is paraben, oxybenzone, and fragrance free.

My first Mother’s Day with little Ava on the outside was really special.  We went to breakfast at Weck’s to start the day.

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Ava and Kevin (probably definitely mostly Kevin) conspired to make me the perfect gift on Shutterfly and now it’s on my desk at work and makes me smile every time I see it.

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Kevin paired it with a lovely, heartfelt note in a card and I just feel so lucky to have him and Ava (and Kiki and Rue) in my life.  We made dinner for his parents that night – he grilled some cedar plank salmon (this recipe) and asparagus with prosciutto and it was soooo amazingly delicious. The weather was perfect, the roses were blooming, and the sweet little baby who made me a mother was right there for it all.

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What do you recommend on Netflix – documentaries or shows?  What are you obsessing over recently?

Coffee date with you II.

It’s been nearly a year since our last coffee date, so what do you say we catch up over a cup?  Truth be told, I’ll probably order a tea.  I only like the coffee drinks that are heavy on syrup and flavors – the gateway coffees, if you will – and I’ve managed to avoid those for the past eight months, so why break the trend now?  I’ll explain this as I dump sugar into my steaming cup of black tea and you’ll wonder at my rational (or lack thereof) train of thought.  But being the good friend that you are, you won’t judge.

Kevin’s football coaching season has begun which is really fun for him and I like the home games.  The field is in such a beautiful location on the school campus.  I look forward to the fall when the leaves change and the air is crisp.  I usually take a book, pull a blanket from the trunk of my car, and sit under a tree near the field.  This year I’ve been spoiled and had company at each game thus far – Leann met me for the first and Kevin’s best friend from high school was in town for the second.

Lisa came to town to accompany me to the State Fair and watch Doug Stone perform.  We had a great time walking around, reminiscing about our livestock showing days and waxing poetically about how much things have changed.  The concert was great.  It was not well attended, so it kind of felt like a private show.  Doug (after a practically private show, obviously we’re on a first name basis) sounded really good and he was hil-ar-ious.  Kind of self-deprecating and very engaging with the fans.  One of the best concerts I’ve ever gone to, and it was fun to share it with Lisa.  We love our 90’s country!

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Last weekend I hosted a little Favorite Things party for a few work and Junior League friends.  It was so much fun!  Each gal brought one of their favorite things – times three and wrapped individually.  Each name was written three times and put into a bucket.  We took turns drawing three names apiece and handing out our favorite thing to each of the three recipients.  It was a great way to learn more about some of my favorite people and their loves.  I brought my current favorite lip balm by Pixi and I received such awesome stuff – Pineapple Kona tea and Perfectea Rock Sugar from Teavana and a Baby Lips gloss from Ashley, Thin Mints and a Starbucks gift card from Becca, and a pen and a Lush bath bomb from Heather.  Everyone in attendance seemed to have a great time and we all kept commenting that it was like a birthday!  Getting to open three presents – who doesn’t like that?  Toss in some tasty snacks (including Leann’s famous carrot and pineapple mini-muffins and the Trader Joes ginger snaps provided by Heather) and beverages (Ashley brought the supplies and expertise to whip up some Italian cream sodas) and it was a lovely morning.

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While I was favorite things partying, Kevin took his truck with the car seat and base to a safety clinic for car seats.  He learned how to properly install the base, things to keep in mind as we grow and graduate to bigger car seats, and now we both feel really comfortable that we can safely haul around our little gal.

And that night we braved the looooong line of cars around the state fair grounds to go watch the PRCA rodeo and Clay Walker perform.  The rodeo was entertaining, as is the people watching at the fair forever and always.  Clay Walker put on a pretty good show too, and we had a nice night out.  (It started with Mexican food at my favorite Mexican food spot, which was perfect – even if it did mean ending the night with a little heartburn.)

It has been the year of the baby – not just for us but for many friends as well.  We’re toward the end of the batch of due dates and it has been so fun to see our friends become parents.  There have been lots of brunch and dinner double dates with the sweetest little fifth wheels and seeing our friends so in love with their bebes makes us even more excited to meet our own.  Of course we’re really treasuring the time we have to spoil ourselves and each other – sleeping in, changing our plans on a whim, leaving the house with minimal preparation or supplies…etc.  It’s an interesting time – so much is the same but so much has changed.

As usual, I’m rambling on and on, and the coffee mugs are empty.  Thanks – as always – for the time, friend.  And now please – talk my ear off.  What’s new with you? 

Obsessin’.

I asked a few of my nearest and dearest to list a few of my obsessions.  Here’s what they came up with:

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Kevin says…
– Books –
– Pesto –
– The girls – {our cats}
– Cheese –
– Jeans –
– Hot Cheetos –
– Cherry tomatoes –
– Boots –

Amy Tiff 2

Tiff says…
– Reading –
– Your cats –
– Tights –
– Boots –
– Kevin –

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Joy says…
– Order –
– Jeans –
– Your cats –
– Kevin –
– Leggings –

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Shawna says…
– Cleanliness –
– Food –
– Reading –
– Organization –

Amy Mom Lisa

Lisa says…
– Clothing –
– Kevin –
– Books –
– Keeping order –

Mom says…
– Books –
– Washing dishes in the correct order –
– Matching (clothes, flowers, décor) –
– Food –
– Lack of clutter –

Lots of overlap!  In a nutshell, I’m obsessed with books, organization/order, my cats, Kevin, and clothes, particularly the ones that go on the bottom half of the body.

I’d say they know me well.

What are a few of your obsessions?  Would others agree?

2015 Reading Challenge – check in numero uno.

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Tiffany sent me the link to this reading challenge back in December and she practically double dog dared me to try it.  Well, not really.  I think her exact words were, “You should do this.”  Challenge accepted.

So basically I’ve been reading all the books.  This has really taken me outside my comfort zone (read: easy cheesy reads) and let me just tell you, living life in the fast library lane is a wild time.  Here are the challenge topics and the books I’ve read so far.

2015 Reading Challenge

1. A book with more than 500 pages
The Glass Lake by Maeve Binchy – 5 stars

2. A classic romance

3. A book that became a movie

4. A book published this year

5. A book with a number in the title

6. A book written by someone under 30
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank – 4 stars

7. A book with nonhuman characters
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame – 3 stars

8. A funny book
Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell – 3 stars

9. A book by a female author
Anne of Ingleside by LM Montgomery – 4 stars

10. A mystery or thriller
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – 4 stars

11. A book set in a different country
Anne’s House of Dreams by LM Montgomery – 3 stars

12. A book with a one-word title
Son by Lois Lowry – 5 stars

13. A book of short stories

14. A nonfiction book

15. A popular author’s first book
Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty – 4 stars

16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet

17. A book a friend recommended
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 3 stars

18. A Pulitzer Prize winning book
John Adams. by David McCullough – 5 stars

19. A book based on a true story

20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list

21. A book your mom loves

22. A book that scares you

23. A book more than 100 years old

24. A book based entirely on the cover
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – 5 stars

25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t

26. A memoir

27. A book you can finish in a day
Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation – George Washington (Francis Hawkins’ translation) – 4 stars

28. A book with antonyms in the title
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – 3 stars

29. A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit
The Rosie Project by Graeme C. Simsion – 5 stars

30. A book that came out the year you were born

31. A book with bad reviews

32. A trilogy
The Selection by Kiera Cass – 4 stars

33. A book from your childhood
Christy by Catherine Marshall – 4 stars

34. A book with a love triangle
Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella – 4 stars

35. A book set in the future

36. A book set in high school
Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 4 stars

37. A book with a color in the title

38. A book that made you cry

39. A book with magic

40. A graphic novel
Emily the Strange by Cosmic Debris Etc. Inc. – 2 stars

41. A book by an author you’ve never read before
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare – 3 stars

42. A book you own but have never read

43. A book that takes place in your hometown

44. A book that was originally written in a different language

45. A book set during Christmas

46. A book written by an author with the same initials as you

47. A play

48. A banned book

49. A book based on or turned into a TV show
The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell – 3 stars

50. A book you started but never finished

Check in numero uno –
# of books read:  22
# of books remaining:  30

Whew.  I’m nearly half done with the challenge and the year is only a quarter complete.  Which makes me feel like I should explain myself (I’m a fast reader – I don’t watch much TV or garden or run or really do anything else outside of work that demands a lot of time – reading is my favorite and favorites are prioritized – more often than not there are dishes that need to be put away and mail that needs to be sorted and a thousand other things that are waiting patiently for completion so I certainly don’t choose housework over reading, etc.) which is silly.  But there are the excuses, for your reading pleasure, all the same.

What’s your favorite hobby?  Do you like to challenge yourself in that hobby (example:  reading challenges, running PR’s, etc.) or just relax into it? 

Current obsessions.

These are a few of my current obsessions.  (Bonus points if you sang-read that to the tune of “My Favorite Things.”  Also bonus points if you didn’t sing-read it to that tune the first time but after reading the previous sentence you went back and did just that.)

Clarisonic Mia 2.  Oh, I love her.  My mother-in-law bought me this little beauty for Christmas and I’m sold on the effectiveness.  My skin grows younger everyday.  Well, maybe not.  But it still feels oh-so-good.

Water.  I gave up all beverages except water for Lent.  I am pleased to announce that once the caffeine headache ended, water only has been a great decision.  Sure, I crave another drink every so often, but really it’s been quite liberating to not have to make any beverage decisions.  You know, one less thing to fret over.  Again, my skin grows younger everyday.  Again, maybe not.  But!  It still feels good.

Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator.  The hydration is as intense as the product name.  Have I mentioned my skin grows younger everyday?

Enough about skin.  Much to your relief, I’m sure.

Spring!  Oh how I am obsessing over the warm weather and the little flowers popping up from the ground and on the trees.  Spring is like a big sigh of relief, isn’t it? IMG_9738

And with spring comes the desire to not subject my locks to the torture of heat tools.  I have been putting my Miss Jessie’s Pillow Soft Curls gel to good use and sporting loose waves on my noggin.

It’s March Madness and I’m a little obsessed with my basketball bracket.  Of the 63 decisions to be made, I went with the flip of a coin on 56 games, only vetoing the coin’s opinion on a 16 seed beating a 1 seed and that sort.

{This is not a sponsored post as none of the companies linked to above know I exist.  However if any decide they want to keep me in hair gel, face moisturizer, or exfoliating products, I’ll willingly accept.}

What are you obsessing over?  Did you complete a March Madness bracket? 

Current obsessions.

I am loving the Sudoku app on my phone.  I spend far too much time on said app.  Not to brag or anything, but my Sudoku skills are kind of at level genius.  {sense the sarcasm}  To my credit, I am working the ‘Expert’ puzzles.  But I’m pretty sure that only level genius imposters take 20+ minutes to complete the puzzle.  Often with more than three-strikes-you’re-out calculated guesses gone wrong.

I’m also loving 30 Minute Meals on On Demand.  No commercials!  I want to prepare alllll the dishes.  And Rachael Ray is far less intense in season 25 than I remember her being in the early years.

Gilmore Girls on Netflix.  Stars Hollow for the win. How those quirky, fast-talking characters do reel me in for episode upon episode upon episode.

As always, I’m obsessed with this cat.  She’s just too sweet and cute.  We are still not ready for another pet, but we sometimes ask Kiki if she wants a kitten.  Thus far, she has no comment to offer on the subject.  She’s quite content to be a spoiled only cat-child, thankyouverymuch.

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And because I haven’t posted a photo of Flo in awhile…

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Bravely going where no white cat has gone before.  Conquering that…refrigerator.  We still declare on a daily basis that we MISS her.

I’m obsessing over the idea of a capsule wardrobe.  Un-Fancy inspired me, really.  Will I actually commit?  That remains to be seen.  But I do love the idea of being happier with less.  And I may give into peer pressure so MiriamBrittJenny….  Share your success stories if you plunge into the capsule wardrobe world.

As I live in a relatively warm climate, the trees are still turning colors and showing off something fierce.  I am obsessed with blue skies and yellow leaves.  Brilliant combo, don’t you agree?

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Any current obsessions to report?  What’s the weather like in your neck of the world?