November 27, 2013


When my cousin Kim and I were little, rumor has it we ran around in our underwear yelling "nudey nudey nudey!" Very appropriate, I know. But we always had the best time together.

Sienna discovered that she can undress herself. When we ask her what she wants to wear her response is simply, "NENNA NUNEY!!" aka nude. She wants to wear nothing.

So, 90% of her day is spent in just a diaper. On the upside, when it comes to potty training, I guess we will be in good shape with no pants to take off.

Happy Nuney Day Thanksgiving Eve!


November 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Mama!

Happy Happy Birthday to the best mom I could ever imagine. We love you infinitely! xoxo


November 22, 2013

Conversations with a Toddler: Baby Jesus

Sienna has a few Christmas books.  One is a little boy telling the story of what he would have done if he was there when baby Jesus was born. Sienna actually is quite familiar with the term "baby Jesus" and loves our neighbors manger set up outside their house. She told them one day "uh oh! baby Jesus brrrr" before he had a blanket on him. It's pretty darn cute. Fast forward to tonight reading this book.

Mama: Sienna, who is that?
Sienna: Baby Jesus! (Continuing to tell me who else is on the page) Mama, Dada.... ummm... Grammy??
Mama: Sienna I think that's a wiseman.
Sienna: Noooo.... mama, dada, grammy!

Well mom, you've been promoted to wiseman wisewoman, You're clearly climbing the ranks over here.


November 18, 2013

Sarah + Michael: A love story.

I've known Sarah since college. She was always there to cheer me up, make me laugh, and then took on living with me during that college to real life transition. For us, a time of who, where, and what we are. Sarah and I would sit on her bed talking (sometimes with cheetos in hand after a few cocktails in Manayunk) until the wee hours of the morning. We talked fantasized about "one day" and what that might look like. After my smart and funny friend got into law school, she moved away from Philly but we always kept in touch. For some reason, Sarah is a person I go to when I have a silly secret to keep. And we talk about things that others may say are petty, but we get it. She also has my appetite for love, for friendship, and well, you know, also for delicious foods. Last year I got the phone call from my dear friend that she was engaged! I already knew Michael was the one from her- from their stories to their need to be near each other.  I also instantly knew she'd plan an incredible wedding-- and that she did.

This weekend we packed our bags and took off for Charlottesville, Virginia. We hoped to make it down Friday for some celebrations, but a few life circumstances got in the way so Saturday we arrived just in time for the ceremony. You know what is wonderful about an episcopal ceremony? It was just like ours. The words "with all that I have, and all that I am, I honor you" was where I choked up during my own wedding. I saw this amazing love between Sarah and Michael that was crushingly beautiful. I watched the way she held both of his hands in hers the second she could during the ceremony. How even when they were listening to the readings, her hand was on his back, never letting too much space between them. I watched how Michael did not wait more than half of a second before kissing Sarah when "you may kiss the bride" occurred. Mostly, I watched them smile at each other as if they were two teenagers who had a secret romance to hide. Also, they looked like something out of a magazine. Gorgeous (handmade) dress, a great tux. These two were meant to be bride + groom.

Sometimes, at weddings, one of my favorite things is listening to speeches or the couple talk because it tells the story of how they met, what they love, why they fell in love. But no speeches were needed here. Their story literally wrote itself on the walls. I was incredibly impressed and enamored at the same time. We know details make my heart flutter, and these were to die for. Sarah executed everything perfectly- and their story unfolded.  Large chalkboard like prints hung around the cocktail area for all to see. 

For example, this board explained this loose leaf piece of paper. I love this! 

Sarah and Michael call each other honey bunny and that was the underlying theme. This board was one of my favorites:

Then there was this board. That made me laugh so much.

These details were just so well thought out and creative. Sarah poured every ounce of not just her, but their relationship into the details.  I'd be willing to wager that even if someone didn't know one half of the couple before the wedding, they knew their story after the wedding. 

As seating cards, we were given a "pocket celebration guide" listing order of events and the foods to accompany each. I loved this idea- and it set me out on a hunt for the tuna tartare and crab cakes. 

Here are a few photos snapped with the gorgeous bride. Her veil and dress were just perfection for her. As the night moved on, I rarely caught a glimse of either of these two without the other (except for in the ladies' room). They danced together, always looking like they were the only ones in the room. Towards the end of the night, the band let them come up and sing Don't stop believing with them. Michael belted it out while Sarah gave him a knowing look of "oh absolutely not" as he tried to hand her the microphone. But as the song progressed, our lovely little Sarah who likes songs she "can sing to" realized this was one of them and joined in too. I think that's the picture I'll have in my head of the two of them. Compromise, comfort, love. I wish you guys nothing but all of that. I know for sure you will love each other with reckless abandon, travel the world together, and grow old together.

You two remind me of one of my favorite quotes of all time, from the movie Meet Joe Black:

 Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head, and you listen to your heart. And I'm not hearing any heart. Cause the truth is, honey, there's no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven't lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven't tried, you haven't lived. 

Have a donut truck at your wedding.


November 14, 2013

Unprompted Love.

Sienna has been crazy attached to me lately. Mommy and mama are nearly the first words out of her mouth in the morning (if we aren't counting saying good morning to her duck lovey), and almost always the last word at night after a tired "night night" is muttered. 

She wants me all the time. If I am upstairs and she is downstairs, she will come to the bottom of the stairs and scream, "MAMA! Downtairs now!" When J tries to distract her, she figures out a way to wiggle past the gate and open the bathroom door, even the shower curtain, until she finds me. 

Some days it is utterly tiring. I can't unload the dishwasher without her asking to be picked up, or yelling for me to come play a game. If I leave her with someone else, she says no and cries. (She's always fine less than  five minutes after I'm gone) By the end of the day, I feel like I've been needed so much sometimes that I might as well have a newborn. The honestly may sound harsh, but motherhood for me has always been about finding balance- there is good and bad lurking around every corner- but the good joy always outweighs the not so joyous.

Last night, I knelt down to find some tupperware for leftover soup. I had the cabinet door open and was stooped down peering inside. I heard the pitter patter of little feet coming running towards me and before I had the chance to turn and look, I got bombarded with a huge hug from behind. Two little outstretched arms, a head resting on my back. Giggles. Sienna has always been a cuddling baby and child, but this development lately is life changing. The choice of unprompted warmth and affection from Sienna is so incredible. It is these moments that hands down make me feel like every hard moment of parenting is worth it.  It's understanding that while we may have a tantrum to deal with, or a rough night of sleep, we are teaching her that affection is good. It is knowing that despite how crazy life seems in my head at times, it is actually quite lovely. 

I need to give myself reminders to let go of the little things that can build up sometimes in parenting. You know, the 4am playtime that makes me exhausted the next day. The tiny freak out over wanting to touch something that's hot. The bad car ride resulting in tears. They are little missteps on this adventure, but it is always worth the journey. The little things on the flip side: getting a hug without asking for one from my one year old. Hearing the sweet joy of giggles when Sienna thinks something is funny. Watching her learn new words and use them every day. Those are actually the big, important things.

I'm so thankful for my toddler (okay fine, and my husband who sometimes plays like a toddler), who are able to show me the joys in life, just when I need it the most.


November 13, 2013

Cheap Makeshift Daily Latte

I love a good Starbucks soy latte. My stomach has never really handled regular old coffee the best, but I always want the caffeine. That said, Starbucks is not on my daily spending list anymore. We are thinking about our future, a new house, and how to save a few pennies and a drink that costs over $3/day didn't make the cut.

We have a Keurig, and I could buy the ready made lattes that you can pop in, but they never quite do it for me. They always taste more like a chalky hot chocolate to me than a foamy goodness latte. I also realize in theory, we could invest in a cappuccino machine and make our own lattes but hello saving money.

So I toss a half-calf in the Keurig (I never fully weaned back onto full caffeine post pregnancy and a full year plus of nursing, plus I like the taste better. While it's brewing, I put in my sugar and/or splenda depending on my choice that day.

I choose the smaller of the two options (if you have the newer Keurig you probably choose the tiniest one if you wanted to- or the medium one) because I want room for my frothy milk. Then once it is brewed I take a teeny splash of vanilla extract to it.

We keep soymilk in the house. I know there are some people who say soy is bad for you, but I only have it in my coffee each day because I'm lactose intolerant and it's only a couple of ounces. Now here is the secret to my madness coffee: I shake it as hard as I can. Now no, it's not the foamy goodness from starbucks that's hot when it comes out, but it does work! As soon as I'm done shaking, I put it in the already brewed coffee.

Delicious morning treat- and much cheaper than the daily stop at Starbucks. The holiday cups are out and the peppermint lattes are calling my name, but I know I can pick up a Peppermint Mocha  creamer and fulfill this need the same way. Here's to home made coffee ! 


November 8, 2013

Travel themed Baby Shower

Last weekend I helped my friend Beth throw a couple's baby shower for our amazingly cute mama-to-be, Jen and her hubby, Tim.

We started a secret Pinterest board, we googled, we did this all via email and never met up before the day so I think we should file this under: miracle it turned out as we envisioned.

Beth and Mike have the cutest new place in Philly and we decided we'd have a mid afternoon party at their place. J and I loaded boxes of things in the car, forgot the veggie tray at home, and whirled in a few hours before the party started.

Decorations were a mix of travel, babyish, and girly. I whipped up a diaper wreath. These are the easiest thing to make. I love them and they can be placed anywhere with flairs of theme. For this one, I wrapped a few strings of burlap-style ribbon, cut out a burlap plane and backed it on a small wooden one (found at AC Moore for a whopping 79 cents), and a wooden white H for baby Hewell.

Oh here's another fav thing I did. At 9pm on Friday night, I was longing for one more cool decoration to bring with me. I rifled through the garage. I found the biggest piece of wood laying on the ground with some dirt on it. It was placed into the ground at some point, I suppose. I just cut it off with a hand saw. Then I found some other lovely wood that were just right for the names of the cities. Fine, they are meant to be wedges for building but whatever. I sponged some white paint on them, paint markered the city names and googled the distance from Philly- where Jen and Tim reside. I love the outcome.

Airplane cupcakes- just whipped up some buttercream frosting . I love this recipe- always tastes better than store bought. Add the tiniest bit of red food coloring and bam: light pink cupcakes. I cut out the airplanes by hand.

Baby H onesie cookies! Made by beth. They were as delicious as they were cute.

We draped some onesies up on the wall with a sign backed on map paper that said "Let the Adventure Begin". I was incredibly impressed with Beth's stringing of these letters. Such a cute idea!

The food table housed a lot of our d├ęcor. A baby sign made out of maps, the city sign, a vintage globe I found on amazon (cheap!) that I can't wait to find a place for in our own house when this is finished. We also added a little lantern for flair. The London map is just one of their normal house decorations- but fit in perfectly. For food, Beth did the most amazing job.  There were sandwich wheels (preggo friendly of course!), cheese, crackers, delicious prosciutto, soft pretzels with cheese and cinnamon sugar dips, and then crockpot meatballs and rolls. Everything was amazing. We also threw together an Apple Cider Sangria. There were Italian sodas for the pregnant lovelies.  Oh, by the way, these chevron table clothes were actually just clothe I had from Joann Fabrics- I used no sew tape to hem them to fit the tables.

And then there was the gorgeous mama to be! Jen hands down has the BEST pregnant wardrobe of anyone I've ever met. I'm impressed every single time I see her. I think I need to shop in her closet when I am pregnant with another kiddo.
With the hostess.

Happy Baby shower, Jen. We cannot WAIT to meet little Miss Hewell. XOXO.


November 6, 2013

Literary Love

From the time I was little, I wasted nighttime hours of sleep to read. When I was in middle school, it would be under my blankets with a flashlight. When I was in high school, and came home from some adventure with friends, instead of turning on the TV, I'd always have a book to pop open. The smell of book pages and the life of the characters warped me into a different world. I was enamored with the love stories, couldn't keep my hands off the page turning vampire type series at one point, and with brief breaks in grad school and residency when things really piled up, I've never put books down.

I stand by the fact that so much of my "innate" intelligence that gets me through the adult world is not innate at all- it came from books. I cannot even begin to count the number I've read. In the past month, I've been through four novels. I read on so many topics by the time I was eighteen I felt like I personally knew heart surgeons, mothers who had lost their children, exotic travelers. I was transported to their worlds through the words of authors I admire. And that's not to say all of my reading is serious- that couldn't be further from the truth. I love a good chick lit book. In fact, I think that they always showed me the reality of life versus the fairytale. I relied on female writers to challenge the norms of society; they gave me different ways to think about things when all I knew was Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Since my days of reading old books by flashlight, I've come around to my kindle. I miss the pages of a book, but they are cheaper and easier to carry this way.  It also somehow, enables me to power through books more quickly, because I can just set it down as I dry my hair (yep, did that this morning to finish up a good one) or read it in the car when Sienna unexpectedly passes out on the way home from the store and I find myself sitting in the driveway with idle time. Recently, I posted on facebook asking for book recommendations. I loved the onslaught of comments. I think it was up to 33 last time I checked. My friends, like me, know the power of a good book.

And just in case you're in need of a good escape from reality, here are a few of my top picks:

Me Before You (came recommended from my friend, Sarah, and I couldn't stop texting her throughout it and making excuses to read it when I should be doing other things)
The Husband's Secret
The Fault in our Stars
The Next Best Thing

Happy Reading.


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