"We dish about everything, 'cuz we've got a lot on our plates!"

{Five on Friday} Why There’s All These Crickets

Posted by on Jul 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Wow, it sure has been slooooow around these parts lately, hasn’t it? I wish I could say I’ve been off doing something sexy or glamorous, or at the very least, something that would bring me money… but that unfortunately is not the case. Well, my sister’s wedding a few weeks ago was pretty cool, but everything else since then has been the complete opposite of glamorous.

With BlogHer 14 right around the corner, I had hoped to have had this blog all shined up like a brand new penny, but I’ve had more pressing issues to tend to. Still, I thought I would pop my head up out of these cardboard boxes for some air and post a super-quick Five on Friday post on what I’ve been up to for the last month. Hopefully it explains a lot!

One. Sissy’s Wedding.

So we were just in Chicago for 18 days. 18 DAYS. 18 days that felt like FOREVER. Not that I don’t love it there, and you’ll read more about that in a minute, but when you are house hopping, and living out of suitcases, and transferring your child from one pack ‘n play to the next, it becomes very tiring. By day 4, Cole started asking, “we go home now?” I felt ya buddy.

But my sister’s wedding was amazing and she was the most beautiful bride I have ever seen in my whole life. Seriously. Thankfully, the hand-me-down/DIY/refurbished hair comb I made her came out perfectly, and she loved it. She also loved the bouquet charm I made her with the photo of our Papa (but I knew she would!) And my toast went well, I think. As the microphone was placed in my hand, I completely blanked on what I had planned to say and have no recollection of what actually came out of my mouth… but people told me it was sentimental and sweet. I guess I’ll have to wait for the video to verify!

SisterWedding_Limo_MamaDish Going to the chapel!

SisterWedding_Church_MamaDish One last look before walking down the aisle

SisterWedding_Siblings_MamaDish #sibling selfie

As the wedding was coming to an end, people kept coming up to me saying, “well, now that the wedding is over, you can finally relax” and “You’re going to have so much time on your hands!” Hahahahahaha. If only, if only that were true. Please see #3 below.

Two. A Looooong “Vacation”.

See explanation above.

Three. We’re Moving!

I have been wanting to share this news for the last few weeks, but there were too many things we needed to get squared away before it was “official”, so I just couldn’t. But since I’m all jacked up from the smell of Sharpies and cardboard, and the giant moving truck is scheduled for next week, I figure there’s no turning back now.

After 4 amazing years in NorCal, we have decided to return home to Chicago to be closer to our families. We have absolutely loved the life we were able to create for ourselves and our children here, but our hearts won out in the end. Sykpe video chats helped bridge the gap while we were away, but seeing our relatives face-to-face only 1-2x a year just wasn’t good enough. I can’t wait for the boys to spend more time with their grandparents, aunts/uncles and cousins, and all our wonderful friends. And hello, can you say free babysitting?! I kid. Sort of.

So we’re headed home. Home. It feels so good to say it. Unfortunately, we’re moving into another rental home while we figure out where we want to “settle” for the next 10 years, so another move is in our very near future. Guess we’ll have to keep these cardboard boxes handy…

Moving1_MamaDish

Moving2_MamaDish

Four. Mama Dish is Getting a Face Lift.

I have been working on a site redesign for Mama Dish for over 4 months now and it has be torture! First, it took me forever to actually pick the theme, then it took me days upon days to do all the technical transferring/downloading/coding/etc. (yes, it takes that long when you have no business doing that in the first place!!) And it is taking weeks upon weeks to do all the design work, including new logo, banner, etc. I really love that I’m teaching myself how and doing it all by myself; it is a true labor of love (emphasis on “labor”).

Beyond all the visual & functional changes to the site, we’re also going to shift the focus of our content a little bit. Nothing major, but we’re going to streamline our categories and bring you some fresh new ongoing themes. I hope you’ll be excited about the changes and am planning to launch the new site before the holidays (I’d say in the next month or so, but who am I kidding?!)

Five. BlogHer 14 is Next Week!

Even though we are in full-on Move Mode, I’ve decided to attend BlogHer in San Jose next week after all. I was going to pass with everything that is going on, but I would have kicked myself afterwards if I would have blown the chance to attend such an amazing conference that is literally only 20 mins from my house.

I'm Going to BlogHer '14!

I’m so excited about meeting new people and reconnecting with some old friends again. There is just so much positive energy at these type of events, and the inspiration I feel once I’m there is indescribable! I am feeling a little unprepared for all the events, but I’m slowly working on getting back into my blogging groove so that I can be in the right frame of mind when I get there. I just hope I don’t still smell like Sharpies and cardboard…

So that’s this week’s Five on Friday, thanks for stopping by. It will be a few more days before we’re back up and running full-throttle, but I look forward to having some normalcy in our lives again very soon!

5 on Friday Logo - Final(2)

Thanks so much to the ladies of Five on Friday for hosting the link up! Be sure to come back every Friday and see what we’re sharing. Next week is Kristin’s turn!

April at A. Liz Adventures

Christina at Carolina Charm

Natasha at hello! happiness

Darci at The Good Life Blog

 

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{Five on Friday} Our Favorite Non-GMO Foods

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 | 0 comments

Genetically modified foods (or foods made with GMOs, genetically modified organisms) are all over the news these days. Whether you are new to the subject or have been eating Non-GMO foods for sometime, it’s good to stay educated on what we consume in our daily lives. Over the past few years, I have become more aware of the chemicals that are put into our foods, which has me concerned on how they are harming all of us. So for this week’s Five on Friday, I wanted to share some of our favorite Non-GMO foods.

Fave Non-GMO Foods_MamaDish

I am a HUGE label reader. Nothing goes in my shopping cart without me reading the ingredients. The primary reason being, my oldest daughter has a severe peanut allergy. But secondly, I want to know what I am putting in my family’s bodies. Hopefully, this small list can help you to begin swapping out GMO items that you may have in your pantry for a Non-GMO (and still tasty) alternative.

Enjoy Life- Coco Loco bars- these are also dairy, soy, peanut and gluten free.  My girls LOVE them!  A great addition to the lunch box or an afternoon snack.

Barbara’s Puffins Cinnamon Cereal- Dairy and wheat free.  A good substitute for all the sugary cereals.

Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix- Gluten free.  I made these the other night for a “breakfast dinner” and my family couldn’t stop eating them!  The best gluten free pancakes in my opinion.  This company also makes a delicious brownie mix!!

Food For Life-Sprouted Corn Tortillas- Gluten free.  I have been told by my daughters and husband that this is their favorite meal; when I make chicken quesadillas out of these corn tortillas.  We put a bunch of veggies and black beans on the side or in them as well.

Enjoy Life Not Nuts Seed and Fruit Mix- Nut Free.  We love to sprinkle them over yogurt, ice cream, smoothies or just eat on it’s own.

Have you tried any of these products? What are some of your favorite non-GMO products you like? We’re always looking to try something new!

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Thanks so much to the ladies of Five on Friday for hosting the link up! Be sure to come back every Friday and see what we’re sharing. Next week is Kristin’s turn!

April at A. Liz Adventures

Christina at Carolina Charm

Natasha at hello! happiness

Darci at The Good Life Blog

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{Five On Friday} Final Wedding Prep

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 | 0 comments

There is so much on my mind right now that I almost made this week’s “Five on Friday” a massive brain-dump, but who wants to read that?! We are I am frantically preparing for our upcoming trip to Chicago for my sister’s wedding (in 2 weeks, crazy!!) and I could probably stay awake 24 hours a day for the next 6 days and still not be ready. Which is ridiculous since I’ve only had 18 months to prepare. Gotta love procrastination :)

But since I have the wedding on the brain, I thought I would share a couple of the loose ends I’m trying to tie up for the big event. I’ve been debating whether or not I should publish this post all day, because some of the info below is a surprise for my sister, but she has promised not to read the blog until after my wedding. Any other friends or family that might be reading this (hi, how are you? so glad you’re here!!), I ask that you not share #2 & #5 with her beforehand. TIA!!

ONE. The Toast.

I swear, I have been working on my Matron of Honor “speech” since the day they got engaged. I have written it and re-written it so many times in my head, that I have no idea what version will actually come out of my mouth during the toast. I better make some notes on paper to keep myself on track, because y’all, I have mastered the art of babbling, and no one wants to look out around the room to a bunch of glassy-eyed stares and people looking around to see when the bar will be opening again! Read: Death by wedding toast.

I’ve also been going back and forth on taking the humorous vs. sentimental approach. Since I’m the sister (and the older sister, at that), I feel like people will be expecting a heartfelt and tearful delivery. But I don’t want to end up ruining the moment with the incoherent ugly cry, so I’m thinking I’m going to try and keep it lighthearted instead.

The other day I was in desperate need for a little inspiration, so I did a quick search on You Tube for “amazing wedding toasts” to see what other people have done. Man, there are some crazies out there! From singing and rapping (enough with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air toasts for goodness sake!), to giving the toast in their pajamas, to synchronized dances, everyone seems to want to make their toast a memorable one. If you have a few mins to spare, I highly recommend watching this video. It was cute and super funny, without any big gimmicks. And any time you can work someone’s illegitimate child into a toast without getting punched in the face, well, I say that’s a huge win.

TWO. Something Borrowed.

As I’m sure most brides do, I saved some key items from my wedding day, in anticipation of passing them down to a daughter one day. My dress. My jewelry. A handkerchief from my great-grandma, given to me on my wedding day. You know, the sentimental things. I know everyone has different tastes, and things change so much from generation to generation, but I couldn’t bear to part with them, just in case.

Well as you know, I’m a boy mom. No daughters. So I thought my sister’s wedding (my only sister’s wedding) would be a great opportunity to pass a few things along. Unfortunately, my sister and I could not have more different tastes, so she ever-so-politely declined my offer for using my wedding jewels (tear). But, I’m not giving up yet.

TiaraHairClips_Before

I’ve decided to transform my wedding tiara into combs that she can use in her hair under her veil. This way, she will have her “something borrowed” and I will not have saved a box full of wedding paraphernalia for no reason for the last 9 years! I just hope she likes them, that is, if I ever get them finished… (stay tuned for “the AFTER!”)

THREE. The “Gift” of Lists.

In addition to our different tastes, we have completely different personalities as well (but we’re still besties, I swear!) I am the text-book Type-A, control-freak, list-making, first-born child. She is the opposite of those things. So in the final weeks of planning, I am trying my best to give her her space, but the need to take over is just too strong. Therefore, I have been pressing her to work on these 3 key lists:

1) The Reception Song List. If it were up to her, I’m sure we’d be listening to Kings of Leon all night long, but I keep reminding her that even though it’s “her party”, she has to play to the crowd. We all know the true success of a wedding is measured by the number of people on the dance floor, and I’m no stranger to party planning. I have a case full of party-rocking mixed CDs to prove I know what people want to hear!

I came across this awesome list of the Top 200 Requested Songs at a Wedding that have timeless little ditties that will get anyone from ages 5-75 on the dance floor. Not all of them would make my list, but why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?! What are your favorite songs to hear at a reception?

2) The Photographer List. When I got my wedding photos back, I couldn’t believe that one of my sister-in-laws was only in one photo. Somehow, at the church, we did family photos and she wasn’t included?! How was that even possible? I didn’t prepare anything in advance because I figured that it would all fall into place on the wedding day, but clearly, it did not. For days, weeks, and months after, my husband and I would say, “I wish I would have gotten a photo with so-in-so” or “did you see any photos of Uncle Bob?” You can’t go back and recreate the day, so I say, learn from my mistake! I have encouraged my sister to make a detailed list of every photo she wants taken at the wedding, whether it’s at the church or at the reception. I’d rather be seen as a photo-dictator for a few minutes, then have a lifetime of regrets.

3) The Tip List. It was like 2 days before my wedding when I realized that we would need a bunch of cash on hand for tips on our wedding day. Just because we paid for most things in advance, it didn’t mean that we could just go through our entire day without paying for anything. Some services still require a final payment the day of the wedding, and people like hairdressers, limo drivers, and event planners need tipping. And that guy who cooks all your food at your reception? He needs a tip too. Thankfully, one of our groomsmen handed my husband a couple twenties at the church for our gift (who needs a card?!), which we used to tip the DJ and wedding reception attendants. Who would have thought?! The Knot has a great list of what wedding vendors to tip, in case you’re preparing for a wedding yourself!

Four. Crafts.

My sister’s wedding is following a rustic/romantic theme and she is incorporating mason jars into the reception as the gift/table seating card. Every guest will get their own mason jar from which to drink out of all night, and it will come with their seating assignment. The only thing more “right now” than mason jars is chalkboard paper, so I bet you can guess what the tags are made of…

Mason-Jar-Picnic-Containers-and-Stamped-Napkins_Giggles-Galore-671x1024 {finished product will look something like this, from Giggles Galore- but a name with a table number}

Thankfully for my sister, I have a Silhouette Portrait, so I can make the tags for her and save her a ton of cash. Instead of buying the tags pre-made (for like $.50/ea), I am cutting them myself on sheets of “black chalkstock” paper that I found at our local Michaels store for only $1.99 per 12×12 sheet. I’m able to make 150 for less than $20! (Of course I used coupons, c’mon!)

I’m also making the flower girls barrettes. Yes, I am a boy mom who makes bows and barrettes (see my super-cute Minnie Mouse ears post for proof!)

FIVE. Something From The Heart.

I was very blessed to have our Papa attend my wedding, but unfortunately, he will not be at my sister’s. He passed away last January and his presence will be missed more than you will ever know. I wanted to be able to give my sister something to remind her he will be there in spirit, even if he can’t be there in person.

wedding charms

I found these really nice wedding bouquet charms from an adorable Etsy shop called ILovePaperkits. I’m going to put a photo of our Papa in one and slip it onto her bouquet the morning of her wedding. The kit came with 4 charms, so I’m also going to add them to my Mom and Grandma’s corsages, so they can have Papa close to their hearts as well. The 4th will be on mine! I wish these would have been around when I got married 9 years ago. Have you ever seen something like this before?

So that’s what’s on my mind this Friday. And now you know what I’ll be doing for the next several days. How are you spending your weekend?! I hope you all have an enjoyable Father’s Day!

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Thanks so much to the ladies of Five on Friday for hosting the link up! Be sure to come back every Friday and see what we’re sharing. Next week is Kristin’s turn!

April at A. Liz Adventures

Christina at Carolina Charm

Natasha at hello! happiness

Darci at The Good Life Blog

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And Then They Were Gone: The Preschool Years

Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 | 4 comments

“It goes by in a blink of an eye”, they say. Childhood, that is. Some days (you know the ones I’m taking about), you curse those people because they’re just a bunch of liars! The difficult moments feel like they’ll never pass, let alone years. And then just like that, 1-2-3, they’re gone. One moment they are in diapers, toddling around the kitchen holding a sippy cup. The next thing you know, they’re off running around without any assistance needed from you at all, owning the monkey bars at the park like it’s their job. As of last Friday, the “Preschool Years” are officially in our rearview mirror (with son #1, that is). Kindergarten is a mere 80 days away, and I am not quite sure how I feel about it yet…

PreschoolPhotosCollage_MamaDish.jpg

Of course, there’s a part of me that’s incredibly heartbroken. He’s not a baby anymore. I can never hold him in my arms the way I did the first few years of his life. He’s growing up, quickly, and it’s not going to stop. He’s just going to get older and taller and more independent, and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s becoming a real boy. But that brings about a lot of really cool and exciting things too, so how can I be upset about that? Sure, he’s learning his own way and is beginning to solve problems on his own, but there are still so many things for us to do together. They’ll just be different things.

The laughter from tickling him until his belly hurts will be replaced with giggles from exchanging knock-knock jokes.

The hours spent showing him how to ride a bike and counting to 100 will be replaced with lessons on how to tie his own shoes and simple addition and subtraction.

The pushes on the back of the swing at the park will be replaced with side-by-side rides, the both of us pumping together in unison, seeing who can go higher.

The nights once spent reading him books before bed will be replaced with him reading to us instead.

The time spent cutting up his meals into tiny little pieces will be replaced with mom & son dates at fun restaurants, trying new foods together.

The kisses once needed to comfort him when he scraped his knee will be replaced with a shoulder to lean on when loses his first baseball game.

So while it’s sad to see him move onto the next phase of his childhood, I find comfort in the fact that he’s still a child. No longer a baby, but not yet a big kid. He’s growing up, but he isn’t slipping away from me. He still holds my hand when we cross the street (and sometimes for a little longer). He still wants me to tuck him in and sing him a song at night. He still calls out for me when he falls at the park. He still introduces me to his friends. He still hugs and kisses me in public. He still needs me. I know that he’ll always need me in one way or another, he just might not admit it one day!

Watching my child develop his unique personality and grow more and more comfortable in his own skin has been the most phenomenal part of parenthood, in my experience (so far). So instead of being sad about the time we can no longer get back, I look ahead with hope and excitement about the years ahead, and the amazing young boy, then teen, then young man, then man, I know he will be one day.

Hats off to all those preschool grads, and to the parents who are in the same place as us in our journey! Congratulations to us all!

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{Five on Friday} Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 | 2 comments

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought “Five on Friday” would be the perfect time to share some last minute Father’s Day gift ideas I have for that special guy in your life (for either your own Dad or Husband). So if you’ve been procrastinating because guys are impossible to shop for, we promise you’re sure to find something here to please even the pickiest Father!

One. Fitbit.

FitBit for Father's Day

This is an awesome (and dare I say, stylish?!) little device that tracks your daily activity and analyzes personal stats, like trends in your workout and diet. It makes it pretty simple to keep you on target for your weight loss or fitness goals. And it’s a “gadget”. Guys love gadgets.

Two. Boat Shoes.

I particularly love the Sperry Top-Siders right now, for men, women, and children. I am thinking about getting my hubs a pair of the Authentic Original in Ice. They are comfortable, practical, and can be dressed up or casual. Great for occasions when YOU want him to keep the flip flops in the closet for the day!

Mens Sperry TopSider for Father's Day

Three. Do it yourself photo with your kids.

This is something you can go outside and do right now. I’ve been eyeing these photos on Pinterest for a couple of years now (since we had our third child to be exact because, hey, now this idea can work for us!) It’s easy, inexpensive, and features the greatest gifts he already has. Top it off with a cute frame and voila! A perfect gift for Dad (or Grandpa/Papa) that he is sure to love!

FathersDayphotos {tutorial from ModernParentMessyKids.com}

 

Four. Take me out to the ballgame!

A day at the ballpark is usually a no-brainer with men… especially if you happen to live in a city with beautiful landmark stadiums, like us Chicagoans have Wrigley Field (no judging, you non-Cub fans!) This Father’s Day, surprise your hubs or dad with 2 or 4 tickets for his favorite baseball team. It would be a perfect afternoon and a great way to make sweet memories together.

Cubs Wrigley Facelift Baseball{photo from Lakeshore Public Media}

Tip: If Major League Baseball games are just too pricey, check to see if there are any Minor League (or Triple-A) teams in your area. You can usually get great tickets for a minor league game for less then half the price of a MLB ticket. And they are super family friendly!

Five. FOOD.

There is no better way into a man’s heart than through his stomach… or something like that, right? So why not cook up one of his favorite meals for his special day? If he’s a meat-and-potatoes kind-of guy, take a look at this amazing dish from Food Network (are you kidding me? Holy yum!) Taking the time to find and make something he’ll love will truly show him how much you care.

Food Network Kitchens Whiskey Glazed Flat Iron Steaks and Grilled PotatoesBetter make 2 of these!

Whether your guy loves to eat, work out, look fashionable, or would enjoy spending the day watching his favorite team, you really can’t go wrong with any of these gifts. But if none of these appeal to you, we’ve pinned many more gift ideas to our Pinterest board “Father’s Day”, so swing by and check them out.

Follow Heather’s board Father’s Day on Pinterest.

If you have an amazing gift idea you’d like to share with us, please leave a link in the comment. You never know, it could be exactly what one of our readers is looking for!

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing Dads out there. We appreciate all that you do!

Natalie

5 on Friday Logo - Final(2)

Thanks so much to the ladies of Five on Friday for hosting the link up! Be sure to come back every Friday and see what we’re sharing. Next week is Natalie’s turn!

April at A. Liz Adventures

Christina at Carolina Charm

Natasha at hello! happiness

Darci at The Good Life Blog

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