Friday, October 31, 2014

2 YEARS - 10.30.14


Can you believe? YOU ARE TWO YEARS OLD, little guy!
We spent the entire day celebrating you. It was a day doing your favorite things in honor of your special birthday. As hard as it is to really think about, I'm excited to see the changes and growth coming our way this year. Life with you is exciting and I'm sure your second year will be one for the books. So much is going to happen in the next year and I can't wait to experience it with you.
You are the apple of our eye, the skip in our step, the heart of our family.
We love you!
Momma and Papa

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Connor!

Happy 2nd Birthday Connor James! Today is your big day and I hope you feel love, happiness and admiration as we celebrate you!


You have made the last 2 years the most amazing time in our lives. You've filled our lives with more joy, laughter, pride and happiness then we ever thought we could experience. While it's safe to say Daddy and I think the world of you, I know that others feel the same way too. You are loved by so many people, you are truly a blessed little boy. Raising you is going to be our greatest accomplishment. 

The moment we met you - 8:02 PM on October 30, 2012 - we knew that our lives would be brighter just because you were in it. You are full of giggles, smiles and love. You have the kindest soul and the biggest heart. Spending my days with you is more of a pleasure than I would ever have imagined. You are one of a kind Connor Frankenstein and you're all ours. We love you oh so much!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I Must Confess - Part 4


With nearly 2 whole whopping years of motherhood under my belt, I felt like this would be a perfect opportunity for a little confession, maybe provide you with a bit of advice for my fellow Mommas or those thinking of starting a family. Here goes nothing... 

{ONE}
I have never not loved Connor nor have I ever not known how lucky we are to be parents but there have been times when I didn't like him. At all. I would all but cry because nap time brought me a sense of freedom I was sometimes dying for. Having a kid who was sick a lot his first year really tested my patience. Which I don't really have a lot of. But this never ending test created a bond between Connor and I never dreamed of. One that will truly last until I'm no longer here to be his Momma.

{TWO}
Just because you are a Mom doesn't make you an effin' expert. I'm not an expert, either. I just know a whole Hell of a lot when it comes to my child. But everyone (for the most part) is doing their very best to be the best Mom they can be. And if that means formula fed, Pamper wearing, daycare attending, then you rock that lifestyle Momma. Take care of your little one(s), your family and make the most of your situation. At the end of the day, as long as your child is nice to mine at the play ground, I don't give a rat's ass on how you parent. AT ALL. 

{THREE}
No matter how close your family is or how many girlfriends you have for support, you will never ever need any of them as much as you will need your husband/partner/child's father when you begin your parenthood journey. The people James and I are now is far from who we were when we first meet. Yes, that's normal ... people evolve and grow ... but NOTHING changes you like parenthood. And it will be so much easier to conquer life as a parent if the child's father is a strong source of encouragement and support. James, I thank you for being our family's strength. You have made my role as Mommy so much easier because of who you are. 

{FOUR}
Dear females of the world: STOP BEING JUDGMENTAL ASSHOLES. Wow, that felt good. As a woman, I want to surround myself with ladies that want to have a life full of love, happiness and positivity. Yes, as hippie as that may sound, that's what I want. I don't have the time, effort or desire to judge your life. At all. What you do is between you and the Big Guy upstairs. While I may not get your choices or even really like who you are a person, I will still respect you. Bottom line, I'll do me, you do you. 

{FIVE}
When you first become a parent days seem so long. You think you have all the time in the world to enjoy your littlest love. I'm here to pop that bubble and tell you that the while the days seem long, the years are short. I sit before you a Mom to a two year old, a Mom who never imagined 2 years would fly by so fast. Enjoy every single minute of the madness. Love the chaos with all you have. Take as many photos as you can and if social media is your thing, share those toothy grins and silly faces with the world. Because really, I would much rather see your sweet baby's face than what someone had for dinner. Love every minute while it's here to enjoy, even the ones that seem to last far longer than 60 seconds. Before you know it, your two year old is telling you to go to time out and you can't help but think hey, at least he's listening.

On the eve of our son's 2nd birthday, I know that being a parent is what I was meant to do, no matter what I thought as a young 20 something. Being Connor's Momma has provided me with meaning that I never knew I was missing in my life. 2 years later and I'm still head over heels in love with a little boy who made me more of a person than any of the 30 years before did.

 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Family Fun Bucket List: Connor's Pumpkin Painting Party

This past weekend, we celebrated Connor's 2nd (!!) birthday with a Pumpkin Painting Party. When planning this special party for our guy, I wanted to incorporate his love for crafts along side he new obsession of pumpkins. Fun side story: it doesn't matter if there is one pumpkin or an entire field full, Connor always refers to it as a pumpkin patch. He is totally in love with all things pumpkin! 

So when putting together our Family Full Bucket List, I knew that the task "carve or paint a pumpkin" would be the one item on our list with the most meaning. 


To celebrate Connor's birthday, I kept the party small and simple. I decided to host a play date type of party instead of a large party with typical birthday shenanigans. We invited a handful of friends over on Saturday from 10-12. If this time of day works for you, I say go with it. Planning was much more hassle free and we were able to then keep the remainder of our day free for family events and errands. 

For snacks, we served fruit, muffins and donuts along with apple and orange juice. It was perfect for that time of day and it was easy for us to put together the morning of. Decorations were just a handful of pumpkins and balloons through the house and outside along with my normal Fall/Halloween decor. 



Each party goer received their a pumpkin to decorate along with a burlap bag filled with their own paint brushes and paint tray. Did you notice the apron C is wearing in the first photo? Each friend got to take home their pumpkin, painting kit and a personalized apron thanks to Goodies by Gram. I loved the way the aprons turned out and the saved the little ones from getting too messy while being creative. To get the painting started, we added eyes to our pumpkins, painted away and topped each pumpkin off with some glitter. The majority of the supplies I needed were purchased at Hobby Lobby and Jo-Ann Fabrics.

A morning spent with friends, playing, painting and celebrating was the single best way to usher in our little guy's second year. I think this will be the last year I get to really call all the shots on what we do for C's birthday. His personality and likes/dislikes are really coming through and I'm sure next year will be either Jake, trains or Paw Patrol. What can I say? #boyMom problems!

Are you checking things off your Fall bucket list? We have a lot of fun coming up and I can't wait to share it with you! 




 

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Birthday for Our Mister

James, today we celebrate you. Our strength, our courage, our biggest supporter.
 

Because of your hard work and dedication, I'm able to stay home and raise our son and I will never be able to thank you enough. Not a single day goes by that, Connor and I aren't blessed by your love, your humor and your generosity. We are so lucky to have you as ours. You make our world a happier, more special place with you in it. Today, tomorrow and always, we will love you Foxy Coxy.
Wishing you a birthday as wonderful as you are!


Love,
Stephanie and Connor James

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Semi Charmed Winter Book Challenge 2014 Reading List

Megan of Semi-Charmed Kind of Life announced the categories of this winter's book challenge last week and after far too much research and consideration, I've complied my winter reading list! As you all know, I am a huge bookworm and I'm so excited to tackle this challenge and maybe even place in the top 5! The highest possible total is 200 points, and the first five people who finish the challenge will be invited to contribute a category for the next challenge. Here are the details on the challenge itself along with the novels I've chosen to read this winter.

http://megancstroup.blogspot.com/

 5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules.
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
*read 11/14*

10 points: Read a book written by an author who has published at least 10 books.
Between The Lines by Jodi Picoult
*read 11/14*

 10 points: Read a book of short stories.
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

10 points: Read a book with a food (not a drink!) in the title.
The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice 
*read 11/14*
 
 15 points: Read the first book in a series that is new to you (so no rereads for this one!). 
Matched by Ally Condie

15 points:
 Read a book that was originally written in a language that is not your native language.
The Dinner by Herman Koch

15 points: Read a book written by a local author (author must be from where you currently live).

20 points: Read a "bookish book" (in which books play an important role, e.g. the setting involves a bookstore or library, a major character is an author, or a book that celebrates reading and books).
Duplicate Keys by Jane Smiley

20 points: Read a book with a direction in the title (e.g. north, south, east, west or any combination of those).
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly 

25 points: Read a book from a genre you don't usually read.

25 points: Read a book with a song lyric in the title.
The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes 
*read 11/14*

30 points: Read two books with a different meal in each title (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, brunch).
Chocolate For Breakfast and Dinner at Rose's by Danielle Hawkins

When I tell you it took me TWO ENTIRE HOURS to research books and create this post I'm not kidding. But I'm loving this challenge and the fact that I'm going to be reading novels I would never usually pick. Challenge starts November 1st and ends February 28th. Have you read any of the books I've listed? Thoughts? I'd love to know what I'm getting myself into. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet Elizabeth from Chasin' Mason


As a blogger, you spend hours a day networking with other bloggers who either have the same story as you or something fairly similar. When I started blogging, I never imagined I would meet so many people, let alone form friendships with ladies that are a part of my every day life. Today, I'm want you to meet Elizabeth. She is one of my dearest blogger friends and we are {this close} to meeting in real life. Liz and I, along with Desiree, will be meeting up in November in San Diego. But enough of about that. Here is Elizabeth!
 Hello everyone! First of all, I would like to thank Stephanie for letting me guest post on her blog today! And second of all, I want to introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth and I blog over at Chasin' Mason, a blog about the adventures of motherhood and daily life with a toddler. I sometimes sprinkle some recipes and other stuff in, but my blog is mostly a mommy blog. I'm married to my amazing husband of 4 years, Seth, and we have a son, Mason, who is 2.

1) As a blogger, we put our lives out on the world wide web for all to see. What made you decide to start blogging? Do you ever fear you are sharing too much?
I started my blog shortly after Mason was born in 2012. And to be honest, looking back now, I wish I had started it from the minute I found out I was pregnant (well maybe not the minute, but you know what I mean). I started my blog to document Mason's life. It originally started out as a place for me to write about our days and updates with Mason so friends and family far away could keep up with what was going on with us. The blog has since grown into so much more, but still remains with my same purpose. I love that my blog is like an online scrapbook of Mason's life and I actually often refer back to old posts when someone asks "when did Mason first start crawling? or walking? or what was his first solid?". As much as I should remember off the top of my head, I have so much going on in there that it's nice to be able to refer back to something that can give me an exact answer.
Sometimes I do fear that I am sharing too much. I've heard so many horror stories of people getting pictures of their children stolen by random people and claimed as their own that it really scares me. The fact that someone can learn about your life through your blog, steal a picture of your child, and make it their own worries me. I've been lucky so far to not run into that problem (or at least that I know of) but I am looking into putting some sort of logo or watermark on my photos so nobody can do that.
2) As a fellow boy Mom myself, I know how fun and reckless boys can be. What is one of your favorite moments of being Mason's Mom so far? Do you have a story you can't wait to share with a future girlfriend? Do share!
I feel like Mason is the cleanest boy ever! He is so funny. For the longest time, he HATED being dirty. Like if something was on his hands, he would shake it to get it off. I tried finger painting with him and he just cried when he got the paint on his hands. And on his first birthday, he refused to touch the cake so my husband (lovingly) smashed his hand into the cake and he shook his hand and cried and we had to give him a bath because he was so upset about being dirty. He's too funny. Recently though he's been more into "boy things" like getting dirty, etc. His new favorite thing is to open and shut the toilet lid and stick him hand in the toilet (lovely I know!). This is followed up by me quickly grabbing him and us washing his hands...another favorite of his. He seems to have a good balance now. He likes to get dirty but then he likes to get clean right after! Baths are a definite favorite!
As for my favorite moment so far... I don't know that I can pick one! I feel like I say this at every stage and every age but I think this age is my favorite. He is now 20 months old and is just so fun! You can really see his little personality coming out. It's AMAZING and awesome to see him learn and really understand things. For a couple weeks, I've been showing him how to pull the trigger on his bubble gun all by himself (to make the fan spin around) and when I walked away the other day after showing him again, he did it...on his own! Seriously, I just had the BIGGEST smile on my face knowing that I taught him that and he now knows how to do it on his own. I let him bring it in the car and the whole way to the appointment we were going to I just heard "whir whir whir" (the sound of the fan spinning) and him giggling and I couldn't help but smile. It's a simple, little thing, but those are the most special.
I feel like the funniest stories are still yet to come, but I can't wait to share so many stories with his future girlfriends! (Ahh!! The thought of a girlfriend... he's growing up too fast already!)
3) If you're life was to be made into a movie, what would the title be and who would star as you? 

Oh gosh, this is a hard one. I almost want to say that the title of my movie would be the same as my blog title, "Chasin' Mason". As cheesy as that may sound, I feel like it is an accurate description of my life right now. I feel like I am constantly chasing him around, cleaning up after him, or just plain playing and having fun. We went out to dinner with my sister-in-law and nieces the other weekend and then walked over to the cookie shop to get a cookie. I could barely shove money in her hand fast enough and was off to chase Mason around the store. Around and around and around the fixtures we went. I don't know how he didn't get dizzy, but I sure was! And as for who would play me... hmm... that's a hard one. I would almost have to say myself (which is a total cop out, I know), but I am a horrible actress so I'll have to go with one of my favorite actresses... Reese Witherspoon.


4) You created the #BOYMOMS series and I love you for that! What do you think it would be like had Mason been a girl? How would your relationship be different?
 
To be honest, before we found out that Mason was a boy, I had wanted a girl. Now, please don't think I was disappointed that Mason was a boy! I LOVE that I have a boy. I just thought it would be so much easier to have a girl... I'm a girl so I would understand girl things. I have 2 nieces so I could get cute, hand-me-down clothes and they could all be best friends. I had a close relationship with my mom so we would be close too. And so on.
When I was pregnant, I had no idea what I was having. You know how they say you have a feeling one way or another? I didn't! It was weird. So when the technician asked if we wanted to know what we were having, my husband and I both said yes and she said we were having a boy. At first, I was like, "Wait. What? It's not a girl?" But then the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. And once Mason arrived, I was just over the moon in love. I can't imagine my life any differently and am so blessed to have a little boy.
So, thinking about it now, I can't even imagine what it would be like to have a girl. I would hope it would be exactly like what my mom and my relationship was like (she passed away when I was 18). You know how they say that boys are mama's boys and girls are daddy's girls? It wasn't like that for me. I mean, I love my dad dearly, but there was a special bond with my mom and I and when she died it left a huge void in my life. I loved spending time with her. Shopping, baking, watching soap operas. When I went off to college, I would call her for the littlest things, and she would be so excited for me. I would hope that my relationship with my daughter would be the same. She was the best mom. She was my hero. She always did what was the best for my brother and I, no matter how bad or sick she felt, she made our lives as normal as possible. To this day, she is still my role model. I would want to show that to my daughter.  But, since I don't have a daughter, I will tell Mason about how amazing his Grandma was and try to be the mom to him that she was to me.

5) Using the first letter of your first name, E, describe yourself in 5 words?
Hmm... that's a hard one! Let me see...
E - Evolving - As a mom, things around me are always changing. Mason is constantly learning and growing, which in turn helps me learn and grow. Life is so different now than it was even two years ago that as a mom, a wife, a person, I must grow and evolve too.
E - Energetic - Sometimes the lack of sleep catches up and I don't feel like I am, but I always try to be energetic. I am excited about seeing Mason in the morning and at the end of the day. I am excited about taking him places and always try to make it fun, even if we're just going to the grocery store. As a working mom, I am away from him for the majority of the day so the time I do get with him is very precious and I am excited about and enjoy every minute.
E - Enjoyed - I feel kind of cocky saying this, but I feel like my company is enjoyed. I am almost always a happy, positive person who enjoys being surrounded by people. I enjoy my job where I get to work with people all day and am not just stuck in a cubicle. People seem to be happy around me and enjoy my company.
E - Eager - I am eager to teach Mason more new things and eager to see what he can teach me. It is so rewarding to see him learn and grow and discover that I can't wait to see what each new stage has in store.
E - Early - Before I had Mason, I was always early. Then I had a baby and realized you are on their schedule. You can be totally ready to go and they need to eat, or need to be changed, or spit up, or... so much more. Now that he is older, things are better and it's easier to plan. I like to be early (not too early, but a few minutes early) to things. I figure they are scheduled at a time for a reason and I like to be on time or early.
A HUGE thank you again to Stephanie for having me here today! If you'd like to learn more about our crazy life with a one and a half year old, please pop on over to my blog, Chasin' Mason. I'd love to hear from you!

...Be sure to connect with Liz through her social media outlets... 
Elizabeth on Instragram
Direct Email is chasinmasonblog@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Family Bucket List: Fall Comfort Foods

Fall temperatures have finally arrived this week. I can't even tell you how happy this makes me. One of the first things I can't wait to do when cooler temps are in the forecast is to make hearty dinners that make you want to curl up nice and cozy afterwards. And since we can't "get cozy" in the typical sense, I plan to cook cozy meals! So our menu this week is just that: calorie filled, tasty dinners that make you wish it was Fall all year round.



I'm obsessed with Fritos so when I stumbled upon this Taco Bake, I knew it was something I had to try. And the cheese... all the cheese.


In an attempt to get Connor to try new foods, I thought we would start with this easy One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta dish. Again, cheese! and the one pot concept is a favorite of mine. And let's be honest, Momma loves the pasta. 

Mixed in with these Pinterest finds, we are going to enjoy chicken ranch tacos, chili, spaghetti with meatballs and roast. See a trend here? Comfort foods that fill your belly and leave you wanting to curl up on the couch.

What dishes do you make in the fall, when the temperatures drop? Please share them with me in the comment section below. I would LOVE to add them to our dinner rotation. And if you want to find more belly busting meals, follow my GET IN MY BELLY board on Pinterest.



Monday, October 20, 2014

BIG News!

If you think this is going to be a pregnancy announcement than you need to hit the x in the right hand corner and consider our friendship over. If that doesn't apply to you, then I'm glad you have some common sense and please read on! December 29th marks 2 years that we have called Texas home, Connor's home. But thanks to prayers, patience and strategically placed plans, we are moving...

 
 My perfectly imperfect family of 3 is moving back home to O! H!.. in early 2015! 


Thank you to each and every one of you who prayed with me for this change. Thank you so much to my friends here in Texas that are showing so much love and support to us in this move. And lastly, thank you, thank you, thank you to our family and friends in Ohio. Our move wasn't something anyone really wanted yet through out this experience, we have been given more love and support than we could ever imagine needing or receiving. Goodbye Southern living, hello family, friends and the Yankee way of life!
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

My {GRATEFUL} Heart

Hey hey, it's Friday.

Life lately has been good. I mean, yeah, I had a moment earlier this week that made me wonder why I thought I could be in charge of another human but other than that, our lives have been pretty simple. 

With a second birthday coming up and the holidays quickly to following that, I know that at this very moment I need to soak in every. second. of this blessed life. Every day, this little guy reminds me of how precious life is. How God blessed James and I will are own little miracle.

In this moment, I am grateful for so much...

 + a Heavenly Father that forgives me for all my flaws yet loves me unconditionally
+ a loving husband that supports my crazy ideas and bold antics
+ a son that makes me proud to be his Momma
+ parents that still think I'm their baby girl
+ brothers that have learned time and distance make relationships precious
+ friends that provide me with daily doses of support and laughter
+ vacation plans with girlfriends
+ cooler weather and Fall themed weekends
+ taking the time to know what's important, what makes a heart grateful


 What are you grateful this week?
Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The Mason Jar" Litfuse Book Review

As a member of Litfuse Publicity Group, I have the privilege of reading and reviewing books at no cost to me in return for my honest review. Today, I'm sharing with you "The Mason Jar" written by James Russell Lingerfelt.


What if your old college roommate called, raving about a book someone sent her, calling it the most beautiful book she’s ever read? “But,” she said, “it’s about you.” The author is your college ex. In "The Mason Jar", Clayton Fincannon is a Tennessee farm boy raised at the feet of his grandfather. He and his grandfather leave letters for each other in a Mason jar on his grandfather’s desk—letters of counsel and affirmation. When Clayton attends college in Southern California, he meets and falls in love with a dark debutante from Colorado. However, when an unmentioned past resurrects in her life and she leaves, Clayton is left with unanswered questions.

Clayton goes on to serve as a missionary in Africa, while he and his grandfather continue their tradition of writing letters. When Clayton returns home five years later to bury his grandfather, he searches for answers pertaining to the loss of the young woman he once loved. Little does Clayton know, the answers await him in the broken Mason jar. A story about a girl who vanished, a former love who wrote a book about her, and a reunion they never imagined.

James Russell Lingerfelt is the author of "The Mason Jar" and writes articles for "The Huffington Post." James connects with readers at his blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, and divides his time between Southern California and his family's ranch in Alabama.
 
As hard as it is for me to be negative in regards to reviewing someone's novel - something that they have worked so hard to write, to publish and to get into the hands of avid readers, I do what to point out some issues I had with "The Mason Jar". The first hiccup came when I read the back of the book, learning that Clayton meets and falls in love with Savannah. Page after page, I waited for Finn (Clayton's nickname) to meet and fall in love with Savannah, helping him mend the broken heart he received when Eden left him. But he never does because Savannah was Eden. They used the wrong name on the book cover. What a silly error! Next, Litfuse's website for "The Mason Jar" has this blurb about the novel:

Written for the bruised and broken, The Mason Jar is an inspirational romance that brings hope to people who have experienced disappointment in life due to separation from loved ones. With a redemptive ending that encourages us to love again and written in the fresh, romantic tones of Nicholas Sparks, The Mason Jar interweaves the imagery of Thoreau with the adventures and climatic family struggles common to Dances with Wolves, A River Runs Through It, and Legends of the Fall.

Simply put, Lingerfelt is no Nicholas Sparks. No where close. The book lacks depth and heart that is always found in Sparks' novels. And having seen each movie listed above, "The Mason Jar" is no where worthy of being in the same category of those novels. Lingerfelt's novel has potential but I feel like it was reaching, hoping to be more like Sparks' The Notebook. My biggest complaint is that there were a few errors in writing and that bugs me. Finn supposedly changes Eden's name in his novel, but that same name is used for her in and out of the novel. Maybe this is the root of the Savannah slip up on the back cover. 

Lingerfelt has a second novel coming out in 2015. I'm interested in seeing if his second attempt at publishing his work turns out better than his first. I'm truly on the fence on if I would read anything else by this author. 

Bottom line, "The Mason Jar" had big potential but fell flat. Have you read a book lately that's left you wanting more?