Sunday, June 30, 2013

Important Info, Lovelies!

So Google Reader is history after today- how sad is that?  If that is the reader that you use to follow me on all my adventures of crazy, well after today that might be a bit difficult! You still have a couple of options- email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or my new fave reader- bloglovin!
Now you guys know I'm pretty terrible at technology, but seriously it was super easy to import all of the blogs I follow from google reader to Bloglovin. If I can do it, you can do it. Come on, I just joined team smartphone last week. Its that dire of a situation over here, folks.
Hope you're all having a wonderful Sunday-Funday! Someone sure got their fill of sleeping in this morning- he didn't wake up until 10 am!

Friday, June 28, 2013

"They say the first sixty years are the hardest"

Last week the hub's grandparents celebrated a huge milestone. Married sixty years. It also happened to fall close to his Grandma's 80th birthday, so we combined the events, people bought some plane tickets and we all came together to celebrate these awesome things.
In todays world where marriages last months, days and sometimes even hours (a la Brittney Spears) and sometimes the divorce battle takes longer than the actual marriage (ahem, Kimmy K) its crazy wonderful that these two people have made it sixty years. As we gathered our things to leave, Patrick's Grandma said to us "You know, I hear the first sixty are the hardest. It's all downhill from there!" Well, that's where the husband gets his smart aleck attitude, right there ladies and gents!
The almost whole K crew! We were missing a few people.

The original seven.

Generation 2.0 - minus one :)

Generation 3.0- minus two :)
Congrats Gong and Pap! Hopefully Patrick and I can make it 60 years and have a loving a family as you...only we will not be having seven children. I don't think this Mama is cut out for that stuff!!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Finally took the kid to Idlewild!

Western Pennsylvania is kind of unique as we do have some pretty awesome amusement parks within 30 minutes of us- Kennywood and Idlewild.  I've spent many a summer day at both, and last Tuesday we packed up the kid and took him for his first taste of amusement park fun.

Storybook Forest is a trip through all of the nursery rhymes and fairy tales we heard as kids, so of course that's where we headed first.

Such a creeper. 

He didnt want so share the big chair with Mommy and Daddy. 
In the crooked house

The lady on the good ship lollypop gave him his first sucker- he was in love.

No such luck, hubs.

Riding the train over to Raccoon Lagoon

Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood

Mesmerized. The whole trolly ride.

Watching the Thomas and Friends show

Idlewild also has a ginormous pool complex complete with slides, a wave pool and a pirate ship. It is awesome. Unfortunately this day it was also only about 75 and overcast, so my bum was not getting in that water.

Such a good Daddy. 

I'd say he had a blast.
Can't wait to go back when he can enjoy a few more rides and really get to use the pool. Otherwise, it was a pretty awesome day and a nice check off the summer bucket list!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Child of Few Words- For Now

Grayson is not a kid I would ever describe as quiet- ever. He always squealing and laughing and making all kinds of noise. But words? Well, not so much.  He says Mama, Dada, Right There, Please and This on a regular consistent basis. Other than that- well, there isn't really much more. At his 18 month visit we mentioned it to the doctor, and I asked if we should consider Early Intervention. The doctor said it couldn't hurt to call, but he didn't think Grayson would qualify for services since he really is so smart. This kid understands everything you say...even when you spell words...its frightening. But he said it couldn't hurt to get a second opinion.
So I made the call and was connected to the most wonderful service coordinator who came out to do an interview and set up an evaluation with a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.  She said he needed to show a 25% delay to qualify for services, and she was glad I was doing it now before we hit the terrible twos and Grayson wouldn't be able to communicate. That would only lead to more frustration, which is never a good thing.
Me? I was just thrilled to bits she didn't say I was overreacting, wrong, or crazy.  It seems like most everyone else told me he'd catch up, he's fine, or he's smart and stubborn. Here was someone who listened and took my concerns and didn't dismiss them (ahem, Mr. Pediatrician can sometimes do that...and its annoying).  She scheduled the evaluation and we signed some papers and a few days later we all came together to test Grayson.
Overall it was a very easy process. They asked ALOT of questions, but they also really interacted with him. They played games with shapes, colors and objects. They hid blocks under cups and blankets, identified body parts and identified letters. They talked to Grayson and played for about an hour. Then they set him free to do the scoring and paperwork.
In some aspects he was off the charts high- like when he identified all of the letters upper and lower case and organized all of the shapes without being asked. In other parts he was average- which is great too. But in expressive language, he was way low. In the end, he qualified for services with that deficiency.  Now as I look back on it, I have some mixed feelings. 
On one hand, I'm super happy that he'll be able to work with a speech therapist to get his expressive language caught up to his cognitive abilities.  On the other I cant help thinking what I didn't do or could have done so he wouldn't be in this place to begin with. Everyone at the meeting assured me that had I not called, he would have caught up just fine on his own- it just would have taken him a bit longer. They said it was great, because they could see his visible frustrations and now he can work on getting his words so he's not so frustrated- which will make the terrible twos a bit easier.  So on that side, Im glad. On the other, I still feel like I could have done more as a Mommy to get him talking better. Cue the dreaded Mom Guilt. Even after the speech therapist watched us interact for two hours and told me that we're doing everything right, it's still there. She thinks we're going to have to basically trick Grayson into saying and doing what she wants, because he's so smart he knows what she's up too and he isn't about to give in. He doesn't have his Mama's gift for gab, but he got my stubborn streak for sure.
So I don't know. I know the words will come, and we have a plan and we're working towards it. Even after a few sessions he's already trying to create more sounds and form more words, which is amazing. I'm not ashamed that he needs help, in fact I'm glad that it's out there to help families and I give these therapists all the credit in the world for doing what they do. With each session as he works on verbal skills and strengthening the muscles in his mouth to form more words a little bit more of that Mommy guilt fades and I realize that it's not something I did or didn't do. He's smart, he's funny and he's on his way to being a talker...which of course once he is, I'll wonder why I ever wanted him to start talking in the first place. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ten Things I Live For: 52 Weeks of Blogging With A Purpose

I saw this linkup from Becky the other day and I decided I needed to try it- 52 weeks to blog with a purpose. Of course I'm one week late to the party, but you all wont hold that against me, right?

Today's topic is ten things you live for/can't live without.
1. My family.  These two boys right here are my world. They are my reason for waking up each day and trying to be better. Life wouldn't be the same without them, that's for sure.
2. Summer Days. Ahhh. I love summer. Its warm, so I don't hate getting out of bed. The sun makes me want to go outside and run and play...or at least float lazily in a pool. In the winter I can not stand waking up, because the idea of coming out from under my nice warm covers is too much to bear at five am. But in the summer, I cant wait to get up to see what our days will bring us. Summer means adventures and fun, playdates and craft projects galore. Trips to the beach, picnics in the park, playtime in the water- its all summer and its all amazing. Plus, I get to spend my days with a certain tiny human and that just makes them even better.
3. My job.  I love, love, love what I do for a living. I am a teacher.  I get super excited to see the kids come in at the beginning of the year and to watch them grow and change and mature is just the coolest thing ever.  Teenagers will act different in front of teachers rather than a parent. I'm not there to judge them or expect anything from them but to be themselves, so they feel more at ease being who they want to be. Now sometimes that's good and sometimes it isn't, but they have choices and they get to make them.  I've helped students get through some pretty tough things, because they felt they could trust me and open up and that's an awesome feeling.  I often joke I will die in my classroom, but what I mean is I will never leave that job.  Until Im too old to function or have enough cash to travel the world, you'll find me in room 207. The only science room with carpeting. Ugh.
4. Baby giggles. I love nothing more than to hear that kid laugh.  It kills me. If he ever wants to get out of trouble, all he has to do is learn how to belly laugh on cue.

5. Traveling. I love to explore new places, and if those places have an ocean that makes them even better.  I'm a vacation dare devil. I try new things on vacation because the fear of missing out on them gets to me.  Snorkeling in an underground cave at home? Heck to the no. But in Mexico? Where's the flippers?  Trying curried goat at a local restaurant? Absolutely not, in fact, Ill pick a different place to eat. But in Jamaica? Sure! Put in on my plate!  I think I get this crazy rush because I'm afraid I might not make it back to these places, so I don't want to miss out on anything.  I can't wait to take my baby boy places and let him experience things as well, I think he's going to have the same adventurous spirit...or he'll learn to have it, at least.
6. Watching Grayson experience new things.  If I clean my house and the husband makes a mess, I could kill him. But, if I scrub the floors and then Grayson messes them up with finger paint/colored rice/chalk I'm okay with it. Why? Because I love watching him play and learn and grow.  Sometimes the most simple and mundane things, writing the grocery list on the chalkboard wall- are completely awesome to a 21 month old. Seeing him get uber excited about scribbling with chalk on the wall brings life into a new perspective, and I love it.
7. My pillow. I couldn't live without it, and I don't usually share it. I have been known to let Grayson nap on it, or lay on it with me but that's only because he's so cute. The hubs always tries to steal my pillow, but he never gets away with it. I've taken it off of him in my sleep before without even realizing it. I just can't sleep without that thing.
8. Making Memories and Following Traditions.  I love that when I look back at beach vacations I can think of places we always went. I love that when I remember holidays there are certain specific things that I remember happening year after year. I want Grayson to have the same experiences. Which is why every year the Elves will deliver Christmas PJs and a book, and the Bunny will leave his footprints. We will visit family and eat traditional foods because I want Grayson to grow up with great memories and great fun. Then I want him to do the same things with his kids someday, you know if I ever let him grow up and get married.
9. Iced tea. I love iced tea. If its sweet, that's even better. I don't do coffee, so I need to get the buzz from somewhere. If its an event where iced tea wont cut it, then I go straight for the red can of Coca Cola. That always does the trick. Could I live without Iced Tea and Coke? Yes, but it would be a sad day in my world.
10. Crafting and creating.  I can't draw to save my soul (seriously, ask my students- they will tell me to stop drawing and google it) but I love to create things. Sewing, painting, designing,
decorating- its my outlet.  If I'm in a funk, I'll make a new wreath for the front door. It always cheers me up to whip out the glue gun. I also love to write this blog, it's a different form of creating that no one can tell me I'm doing wrong. I DIY-ed most of our wedding and Grayson's baby shower/baptism/first birthday with a little help from blog friends and Pinterest. My mind just runs, but sometimes its frustrating that my hands cant execute what my mind wants. But I guess that's why we have Etsy. If I can't make it, I'll find someone who can!
So tell me lovelies, what do you live for/can't live without? Let me know in the comments!

Let the Summer Fun Commence!

Its been a crazy end of the school year- I had one of the best years ever with some of my absolute favorite kids I've ever had the pleasure to teach- but it is summer time!
It's not their fault, once the weather gets nice they pretty much just start checking out on us, and I cant really get them to get excited about things like weather forecasting, tornadoes, earthquakes and cells when there are pools to swim in, sun tans to achieve and outside things going on that are way more fun. Truth be told, I'd rather be outside too- but trying to explain to freshmen that they need to focus for a few more weeks is like explaining to my toddler why he needs to try peas at dinner. Its a lost cause come June 1st.  I'm super excited that next year I get to teach some biology, meaning I can get some of my freshmen back as sophomores. It's fun to see which ones the maturity fairy visits over the summer and to watch them grow.
I did a summer bucket list last year and had a blast checking things off with Grayson and hubs.  This year, I've amped it up seeing as how he's now a man-child who can participate in so much more.
Here goes-
Idelwild Park
PNC Park Water Steps
Ducky Tour
Kennywood Park
Beach Trip
Splash Pad
Pool Date
Walk the Montour Trail
Catch Lightning Bugs
Play in the Sandbox
Water Fight with Daddy
Round Hill Park
Blue Slide Playground at Frick Park
Soergels Orchard
Triple B Farms
Street Fair
International Village
Phipps Conservatory
Go to a Pirate Game
Play Dates
Sarris' Ice Cream Parlor
Feed the Ducks
Go Fishing
Catch Lightning Bugs
Steelers Training Camp
Story time at the Library
Carnegie Science Center
The Children's Museum
Gus and YaYa's
Picnic in the park
Pittsburgh Zoo
Take pictures while playing in the rain
Family Pictures
Go visit Aunt Sammie
Take a day trip
Make a big mess
Complete as many Pinterest projects as possible!

What's on your list for summer fun? Let me know if I forgot something!!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

How to give one of the best baby gifts ever- custom bedding!!

Seriously, its in the water where I work- everyone is having them some babies. Nine beans were born/will be born in the coming months.  Needless to say, I'm avoiding that water for a few more years and I'm up to my eyeballs in baby shower gifts.  Even the Mama's who are on baby number two still get a little spoiling where I work. The problem? I'm running out of different unique items to gift...and I HATE being the chick who shows up with a totally generic present with no thought.
As I was sitting here musing what to get the next lucky lady up to get promoted to Mama I received the best email from a bloggy friend of mine, Olivia from over at Mad Lib offering up a free sample to her shop.  Olivia is a single Momma to one of the most adorable baby boys ever, Cooper. In order to support herself and Cooper she started a business called Lou Lou Made where she hand crafts custom baby bedding at a ridiculously wonderful price with The Coop at her side.  Seriously, I never thought I would be able to afford to give custom bedding- but Lou Lou Made makes it affordable! Oh yeah, its adorable too- which only makes the price tag even better. I couldn't wait to get shopping.
Once I had logged onto her sweet site and made my selection it only took a few days for the item to reach my door, and Olivia told me she also rushes custom orders so you should receive your item within one to two weeks! Seriously, its just crazy to me how she manages to make such awesome pieces with a toddler hanging at her side. Mine would have the house destroyed before I could say fabric scissors.
Just take a look at the cute options I had to choose from.

Lou Lou Made offers custom crib sheets, changing pad covers, crib skirts, pillow cases, quilts and pillows- all in the cutest most trendy fabrics.  One piece that I have my eye on for the next baby is this custom bedding set that includes crib bumper, skirt, and sheet in these dreamy fabrics.
Who doesn't love them some mint and coral?
I love the modern look of this custom triangle quilt- and it can be custom made to match any assortment of fabrics at no extra charge. Olivia is super excited to work with Mommas to be to create the absolutely perfect dream nursery, so she can do almost anything your heart desires. 
I received one of her amazing crib sheets and cloud pillow, which I haven't posted pictures of here because I don't want someone special who may or may not read this see the gift they will receive at a shower in the near future.

When I got the package it was tied up with the cutest presentation.  I carefully un-did it so I could check out the quality and I was amazing. The elastic went the whole way around, not just at the corners. The French seams were so neat and clean looking, I could not tell it was a handmade item. Let alone the fact that it was handmade in a home with a toddler. Gotta say, I'm a bit jealous of the sewing ability, Olivia!

Overall, if you're looking for a custom made product at a VERY reasonable price- Lou Lou Made is the place to find it. Head on over to her etsy shop and tell her sent you!

***This is not a paid or sponsored post. I was simply provided a product to review and all opinions and thoughts states in this post are that of my own***

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grilled Rosemary Chicken Skewers

Its grilling season!
If your husband is anything like mine (and you live in a house without AC like we do), you cook everything you can on the grill in the summer months. I've learned how to do just about every inside oven meal on the grill, but this was a new one for me.  While I was browsing the aisles at the grocery store, without the tiny human, so of course I was taking my good sweet time- I saw these super long skewers of rosemary. I love rosemary on chicken, so I decided that I would attempt to make chicken ka-bobs out of them. If I failed, I would pretend that was never the plan and call it a day. I'm a woman who likes to hide the kitchen fails. This however did not fail at all.
All I did was cube up two chicken breasts, and put in on the skewers with some onion and garlic. I thought at first there was no way the stuff would go over the stem. But they were really woody and it was super easy to stick the stuff on the skewer.
After everything was skewered on, I spread some canola oil on the chicken so it wouldn't stick to the grill. To season the chicken, I tossed on some Montreal Steak Seasoning. If you've never used it, its basically salt, pepper and garlic all in one shaker. Pure genius and delicious to boot.
To go with, I made some quick rosemary roasted potatoes. Rachael Ray says if you cook with an herb, you should carry the flavors throughout the meal- which is why they also got a dose of rosemary and Montreal steak. I took petite red potatoes and cut them up, tossed them in the oil and seasonings. If I had more time (meaning I didn't start dinner until 5:40) I could have left the potatoes whole, but I cut them into quarters to speed the cooking time.
 Before the chicken went on the grill, the potatoes went into a preheated 450 degree oven to cook for 30 minutes.


It ends up being a really pretty meal- one that you can totally entertain with because it takes no time but looks impressive. The chicken literally pulls right off of the rosemary and the flavor stays in. Pair it with some potatoes and some corn on the cob and you have a super easy summer meal.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Graeter's Ice Cream > Anything else that calls itself ice cream

Last Friday, a beautiful box arrived on my doorstep.
What does that say? This box contains ice cream? Why yes, yes it does.  However what it should say is it contains the best freaking ice cream I have ever eaten. Now I consider myself somewhat of an ice cream connoisseur. You don't get a tush my size without your spoon seeing the better part of a pint every now and then- and I thought I knew good ice cream.  I'm here to admit, I knew NOTHING about good ice cream.
  Graeter's started making French Pot Ice Cream in Cincinnati way back in 1870. Back then, things were different and they didn't mass produce the product but rather used the method to make just two gallons at a time- and that's the way they still make it. They say the result is a creaminess that can't be matched- but I must admit I was skeptical, because all ice creams claim to be super creamy.

Two pints of Salted Caramel, Black Raspberry Chip and Black Cherry Chocolate Chip were in that magic box and I could not wait to dig in. The first thing I noticed? Each pint weighed almost a full POUND. Seriously, when I went to Giant Eagle today I pulled a pint of Graeter's out of the freezer and half gallon of another brand and the pint easily outweighed the half gallon.
Graeter's uses fresh cream and egg custard as a base and then chills it in the special French Pot Freezer. They fold in the ingredients and when they are done they are left with an extremely dense product that needs to be packed by hand to get it into that little container.
Of course I had to try the Salted Carmel right away- because that just sounded like heaven on a spoon.
When I peeled the lid off it just came out of the deep freeze, so I was expecting the ice cream to be a little hard. Nope. My spoon went through it like butter- and it was so rich and creamy that it actually did the ice cream curl on my spoon.

Now, I would love to show you beautiful pictures of it in the bowl, looking perfect. But you want the truth? After one bite, this stuff was far too good to put in a bowl. It's eat-it-right-from-the-pint-because-Im-not-sharing-with-anyone-good. I have never tasted ice cream so creamy, and the caramel flavor was full but subtle so it didn't overwhelm you with sweetness.  Plus the little salty aftertaste to balance out the sweet and cream- I drool a little just thinking about it.
Next up was the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.  They should call it chocolate chunk, because seriously the chips in this were amazing sized.  There was no itty bitty pieces here, they were all perfect mouthful sized bites of dark chocolate.  Again, the creaminess and flavor cant be beat. Absolutely delish- and perfect on a summer night because even though its so rich, it doesn't feel heavy with the light raspberry flavor.  So really when you think about it, its dark chocolate and fruit- so its ice cream that's good for you!

Check out those chunks! Again- it didn't make it into a bowl.  (Hey, it was 89 and we don't have air conditioning. Don't judge.)
The last flavor I indulged in was the Black Cherry Chocolate Chip.  It was so smooth, even with all of the bits of real cherry pieces and chocolate. I actually shared this one with my neighbor- meaning she came over and stole the pint out of my hand after I had my first bite.  Ten minutes later and she had devoured half the pint and was heading to Giant Eagle to get some of her own. So easy to say, this one's another winner.  
The best part? They just started selling these flavors at my local Giant Eagle. But if you don't live close, don't fret- they ship their ice cream anywhere from their website! They also come in a ton of other flavors, and I cant imagine that any of them are anything but amaze-balls. In fact, I'm pretty sure Graeter's could make green bean ice cream taste scrumptious.
Visit them here to have a pint of cookies and cream, chocolate, peanut butter cup and salted caramel sent to me and we'll be best friends.  No seriously, if I can't find these flavors in store I will accept mail in donations!!  Either that, or Cincinnati is on the way to the in-laws house and Ill pack my cooler full of dry ice and Ill be headed that way.  At least then Ill have two willing baby sitters to keep Grayson busy as I eat my ice cream :)
***This is not a paid or sponsored post. I was simply provided a product to review and all opinions and thoughts states in this post are that of my own***