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5 Ways to Survive Kids’ Birthday Parties

To say we were blessed with Madeline’s daycare situation would be a very huge understatement. This place is just the tops. Bee’s knees, if you will. Wonderful yet sassy, up-beat and creative teachers always there to greet us in the morning, scooping up our little and readying her for the day. Rambunctious friends that call to her as they burst into the room. Sweet smiles and the occasional friendly short exchange between parents during the drop-off and pick-up. Pretty neat stuff.

Anxiety and tears flowed when I parted with Madeline on day 1. Now, I confidently walk in, assured that she will have a great day, even if there happens to be a tumble on the playground.

“We got this,” I say to her on Monday morning.

In the afternoon, I rush into the center, locate my child and we lock eyes. I hear, “MOMMY!” Yes, okay, she’s mine. Here we go.

Her teacher hands me the end-of-day goodies: colorful painted pictures, her summary of day’s events …

… and a white envelope with “Madeline” printed on the front.

{I know what this is before I even open it.}

And then a familiar feeling hits me again. A wave of anxiety. Holy sh*t. There is NO way she is old enough. This isn’t happening yet, is it?

I decided to peek on the way home…

You’re Invited to your awesome friend’s birthday party.

Friends {aka parents}, if you thought you were “young” pre-kid’s birthday invite, just wait. You’ll feel like someone hit fast-forward. Your youth vanished. Their youth is very much here and present.

And, of course we’ve been to parties of the birthday and wedding variety with Mads, but these were family and adult friends. Familiar. Now, we’ve turned the page. We’ve entered the world of kid friends. And other kids’ parents.

kids' birthday parties // surviving birthday parties for kiddos

How To Survive Your Kid’s Friend’s Birthday Party

1. RSVP!

Besides common courtesy, I always like to RSVP to these shindigs early. Be quick. Why? Because the parents are W A I T I N G. I know I would be wondering, hands on hips, tapping my foot, waiting for those RSVPs to roll in. Okay, maybe with less theatrics, but you get what I’m saying, right? Too many details make up a birthday party, so lets help the fellow parent. This may also be your first impression. I like to make it a punctual, caring-of-their-time one. If anything else, just get it out of the way. Also, I’m notorious for forgetting things. >>Mom brain???<< Ha! … hilarious – just click on it.

2. Dress for the occasion

Relax and have fun. YOU’RE AT A KIDS PARTY. I would strongly recommend leaving your heels and ego at the door. I know it seems obvious that one would dress for the environment, but I’ve seen discomfort. I’ve witnessed the unnecessary early retreat because of a poor costume decision. Ladies (and gentlemen), let’s just remove our week attire and settle into comfy casual while our littles run around like lunatics.

3. Introduce yourself to the other parents.

Make the effort to meet the moms and dads you don’t yet know. The way I see it, chances are you will be going to their kids’ parties soon and them to yours, if you’re so inclined, so let’s start the relationship building, shall we? HINT: many are in the same boat as you and BONUS: many will probably be pretty awesome, too. And you have a major thing in common: a couple of kiddos that enjoy playing and hanging out together. You are bound to have things in common, whether it’s the latest episode of a princess-pirate-favorite on Disney Jr., potty training woos/wins, sibling discussions or maybe just how you both attempt to grab five minutes during a work day to call your own.

4. Gifting: When in doubt, bring bubbles and chalk.

This is a total go-to, am I right? What little kid doesn’t like chalk and bubbles? Done and done. If you’re not a fan of this method, look to the invite for clues. Chances are, if there is a theme, this is something the kid loves. Whether it’s a character or color theme, take that idea to the store and find an activity or book that features the liked item(s). Done.

5. Get off the schedule.

I’m sure there was a time frame listed on that invite. And I’m sure it didn’t extend more than two hours … well, it’s nearing the two hour mark and NO ONE is MOVING!

I’m going to sing that song: your kids are only this young once. Let them play with their friends. Just be present in this moment. And share a laugh {and plan a coffee/lunch/dinner} with a new adult friend. After all, these are definitely the moments to cherish.

Perhaps nothing quite earth-shattering, but let’s be honest – it’s a kid’s party – how complicated does it need to be? Smile. Laugh. Relax. We are all in the same boat. Enjoy the ride! {and watch those invites continue to roll in…}

linking up with tiffany – join in!


At-Home Honey Lavender Latte {No Fancy Equipment Needed!}

There’s a coffee shop in town that makes the best honey lavender lattes. I’m addicted. #NoShame However, because weekends are lazy and let’s be honest, I’m not going to travel too far each weekend to get my latte fix, I needed to come up with a way to make it at home. And I cracked it. So, so happy. When I tasted it, I shouted to bubbs, “This is it!” And so, my coffee-loving friends, I’m passing this on to you!

milk and coffee, preparing a latteThe fun, little bonus? It still has frothy, “steamed” milk – no fancy equipment needed. Hint: for the milk, all you need is milk, a mason jar, microwave and your arms.
honey and lavender

First, we will start with the simple syrup. I started with Jenna from Gold and Bloom’s simple syrup recipe but bumped it up with some honey.

Honey Lavender Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried lavender
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Place the water and sugar in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir in dried lavender. Bring mixture to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to simmer the mixture for 5-10 minutes. This will allow the lavender flavor to really develop and sauce to thicken slightly. Pull off heat and let it sit. Once cooled, grab some cheese cloth or fine mesh strainer and place it over your simple syrup storage container. Pour the simple syrup into the jar, catching all the dried lavender in the cheese cloth or strainer. Then, stir in the honey. Simple syrup is done and done!

Honey Lavender Latte

  • 2 tablespoons lavender honey simple syrup
  • 1 coffee mug 1/2 full of your favorite, strong brew (or, to be latte official, brew espresso)
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • mason jar for milk

Here we go! Put your milk in the mason jar without the lid. Put it in the microwave for about a minute. Pull it out of the microwave – be careful! It will be hot. Put on the lid. Place a towel around it if it’s too warm and shake it up! Keep shaking until it becomes frothy at the top.steamed milk without a machine When it’s to your frothy liking, open it up and assemble. Fill up your mug 1/2 way with your favorite coffee, 2 tablespoons of simple syrup, top with the milk and ENJOY!
honey lavender lattelinking up with karly

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Quick Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

My entire family can’t get enough of these cookies. I’ve been baking them at least once a week and gifting them around the clock. My dad adores them, and he is the one that eats the most, so naturally I need to keep him well stocked! I’m always on the look-out for new recipes and tweaking old favorites, and I think this oatmeal raisin cookie recipe is pretty outta sight. BONUS: It’s extremely simple so if there is a doubt, write it down/print it out/bookmark it for an hour and get to baking.


1 1/4 c softened butter (you can also use margarine in this recipe)
3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 heaping tsp nutmeg
1 heaping tsp baking soda
3 c oats (I used instant and those seem to work just fine and dandy)
1 c raisins

What you do…
So, it gets pretty technical…

1. Preheat that oven to 375 degrees. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or just spray with a little non-stick spray.
2. In a bowl or standing mixer, cream together the sugars and butter (or margarine).
3. Once mixed, add in the egg and vanilla.
4. Once mixed, toss in the flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda. No sifting required. (YAY!)
5. Once mixed, add in those oats.
6. Once mixed (last one, I swear), fold in those raisins.
7. Get your trusty gadget-that-makes-same-size-portions, like a tablespoon or your hand :), roll into balls and place about an inch apart on the cookie sheets.
I’m all over the place when it comes to sizes, so this recipe yielded me 2 dozen cookies one time, but a few times I had 18. Go figure. Sometimes I like em big.
8. Place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. This is really dependent on the size of those suckers. I tend to babysit the cookies. Mads helps.

Ta-da! Cookies ready for eating! Enjoy!!

oatmeal raisin cookie, cookie recipe



1 c peanut butter
1 egg
1 c granulated salt

What you do…

1. Preheat that oven to 350 degrees. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick spray.
2. In a bowl or standing mixer, mix together the peanut butter, egg and sugar.
3. Once again, get your trusty gadget-that-makes-same-size-portions, roll into balls and place about an inch apart on the cookie sheets.
This recipe will yield about a dozen cookies.
4. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes.

<linking up with karly>


Dad of the Year 2015

I don’t know what it takes to be called “dad of the year.” I’m unsure what characteristics or qualities a man needs to possess in order to earn this title, but if I had to give the description a good ‘ol college try, I would define it as…

Dad of the Year
[dad uhv th-uh yeer]
devoted fella who willingly gives his hands and heart to his family; active participant in tea parties, swimming lessons and outdoor catch; bedtime storyteller; joke teller; partner in trouble-making; piggy-bank filler; most likely wrapped around the little one’s finger

I think my big red could make the cut for a few reasons…

The summer of 2012 was one for the books. In Saint Louis, the weather was anything but pleasant. It was hot, humid and just nasty. Not super friendly for a pregnant lady. As a result, the summer of 2012, the summer before Mads entered the world, was filled with way too many snow cones, extremely low air conditioning temps and personalized car service to and from EVERYWHERE. He took on the role of chauffeur with no complaint. He worked hard to make every single environment we walked into was as comfortable as possible. Everyone always complimented me on how relaxed and calm I was during my pregnancy … it was because of my ultimate zen master.

On September 15, 2012, our gift entered the world with his help and support. And at that moment, the connection between bubbs and Mads was instant. With eyes wide open, she looked at her dad and he stared right back in complete wonderment. He doted. He took a million pictures. He swaddled her over and over and over again while mama took a moment to breath. He remained strong and positive when we couldn’t take her home when we expected. And he remained patient and the slowest moving vehicle on the road on the day when we could finally welcome her into her new home.

In September 2014, summer started to end and apple picking was the place to be. A farm boy at heart, he couldn’t wait to get his girl there. Along with the dearest of friends and Mads’ godparents, we laughed and ate and laughed some more. Creating moments that connect his past to his present is magical and will always connect Mads to his soul.eckerts with dad

In October 2014, we took our first trip without Mads. A welcomed and enjoyable trip, but it was definitely tough to part with our little, even if it was just for a few days. In the end, bubbs and I spent the time reconnecting, indulging in good food and great conversation, remembering why we are proud to call each other “best friends,” and also, remembering the beautiful life that resulted from our love. As moments passed, we thought of her future, prayed for her path and of course, bought her souvenirs. Once we arrived home to be finally greeted with open arms and too many kisses, he absolutely joined in with a much needed belly-laugh-filled leaf attack.playing in leaves

In December 2014, the air turned crisp and the first weekend of December was here – officially kicking off the holiday season. Mads’ uncle called to let us in on the tree lighting ceremony in town. A last minute event. My big red’s heart swelled. His favorite holiday was near and there was no way he would say no to sharing this experience with our little. We turned up the Christmas music in the car and hurried over to the tree lighting. Although we arrived late, he still shared his love of the holiday with her and let her soak in the experience for as long as her little red nose would let her. And after that, hot chocolate. christmas with dad

Everyday is different. Everyday has ups and downs, laughter and tears, conversations and disagreements, but regardless of the situation, he remains steadfast and devoted to this strong-willed, independent spirit that is our daughter. And for that, I think my big red is Dad of the Year.

Loving you forever and always, bubbs. xo

Wishing a wonderful Father’s Day to you and your Dad of the Year!

<<>>linking up with emily<<>>

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How Was Your Day?

Another day in the toddler life is complete. She is tucked into her bed, wearing her “deep dream diving suit” aka extra cozy footy pajamas, and quickly dozes off with Eeyore and Tigger by her side. Her dad and I start to wind down and relax. But before these very quiet and sweet moments, an entirely different universe existed – one that swirled and swirled into a million different colors and directions.

In the early morning hours, you weren’t sure what outfit you wanted to wear, but I tried to hurry you along. I know you were getting frustrated with me. I know you wanted to take five – ten – fifteen extra minutes. But, the unfortunate ticking on a weekday clock does not cease. So, hurry to the car we must. And once inside, I did not want to listen to Disney. But that was all you wanted to hear. “Just one more time, mama, please.” Again, I know you were frustrated with me. You were using the manners I asked you to use and dialed down the sass for Disney. But, you have no idea what that tune does to me. I can’t do one more time. I failed.

Of course, your request quickly subsided, and we arrived at school. You’re greeted by your teachers and best friends. As I drove away, you blew a kiss and waved to me. My heart sunk. I could do better. I need to give more.

The day continued on, and we were in two worlds. While I worked on spreadsheets and sitemaps, you were coloring pages and singing songs. As I logged on to a conference call, you walked out to the playground. At the end of the day, I’m tired. But the only thing I wanted to do is rush to you. I jumped into my car and rushed to scoop you up and put on that Disney song … one more time. When I arrived, you were ready to go. “Mama!” you say. And we were off. Disney song cued up. A win to bring back the balance.

But then we got home. And I started dinner. And I couldn’t be everything you wanted me to be right at that moment. The world ended when you didn’t have a new outfit to put on at that moment. I know that you needed [something]. You shouted. But I dismissed it. Am I failing again? As we sat down and you looked at the plate of food that you once loved, you said you weren’t hungry. You don’t like it. You don’t know I’m frustrated. But it’s okay. Your dad ushered you off, and the two of you started to get ready for the night. I tidied up and met you. And you were crying. Well, it was more of that screaming crying. I know it. It’s second nature for me to pick out the type of scream/cry. You were exhausted. You were frustrated. You were done.

Eventually, we relaxed, read stories, and I brushed your hair. You brushed your teeth. We smushed our cheeks together and let out a small giggle. We hugged each other tight. So tight. It’s that tight that just takes your breath away and for a moment, I just wanted you to stay with me. But your bed awaits.

As I put her down and said goodnight, wishing her the sweetest of dreams, she asked…

“How was your day, mama?”

I answered, “It was good. How was your day, Madeline?”

“It was a good day, mama.”

That was all I needed. Another perfect day. Couldn’t ask for anything more. xo