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This blog will contain a little bit of everything, from cooking and crafting to fashion and fitness to marriage and mommyhood.

Find out more about each of us in our introductory posts: Julie, Jennifer, Jessica and Jamie. Also, find out who all the players are here. Contact us if you have any questions!

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Recipe for a Good Kids Activity

One of my best “life decisions” was to move to a four-day work week. While I enjoy hanging out at home cleaning playing, I often want to get out and do things with my boys (ages 1 and 4).

Yesterday I had a day off and I wanted to do something different. We’ve been to the zoo, various parks, neighborhood pool, and other popular St. Louis attractions countless times, so I wanted something new. I visited www.stlsprout.com and checked out their calendar. I saw that our local firehouse was having a storyhour/playtime, sponsored by Whole Foods. (this post is not sponsored by Whole Foods though!) And did I mention that Sawyer LOVES ambulances and fire engines?

I packed up the kids, picked up my mom, and we headed out!

First we had time to play on the fire engine and ambulance. Sawyer got a plastic fireman’s hat and he enjoyed running around and “driving” the vehicles.

firehouse

Then we listened to a firefighter briefly talk about the importance of a home evacuation plan, something that I hadn’t discussed with Sawyer prior to this event. We watched a cute, short cartoon about home evacuations and then the fireman asked the kids questions. (Did you know that a home can burn down in 4 minutes, the same time it takes to pop a bag of popcorn?) Sawyer left the room telling me about home fires. It was sweet, and he didn’t seem scared by it.

home escape plan

Then the group was split in two. First our group went to a room where a Whole Foods rep handed out pretzel snacks. She read a cute book to the kids about a dancing giraffe and then we made trail mix with popcorn, sunflower seeds, and pretzels.

fire engine

After that we went to the firehouse and listened to the fireman talk about all of the tools that are used to fight a fire. It was hard for the kids to pay attention at this point because they wanted to play on the fire engines. At the end, there was more free time to play on the vehicles and try on fireman gear.

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Overall, a great event! It hit all of the key points on my list of what makes for a good kids activity.

What’s my recipe for a good kids’ activity?

  • Educational: Sawyer is at a great age when he soaks everything in and then uses that knowledge later on. I often find that depending on things we’ve recently done, I’ll hear Sawyer repeat those things back in his pretend play. It is fun to watch!
  • Active: Great way for kids to release their crazy energy and hopefully prepare them for a nap.
  • Snacks (preferably healthy): Food keeps my children happy, especially my little-big guy. While I am okay with my kids eating junk occasionally, healthy snacks make me very happy!
  • Free: Who doesn’t love free events?  Free can sometimes mean crowded, but this event was just perfect. Sawyer gets overwhelmed in big crowds, but this one was manageable. And I often wonder if I could stay at home as a mom, because I would want to go out and spend money all of the time. Free events would help with that!

Did I miss anything? What is important to you when deciding on which kids’ activities to attend and what kids and moms prefer?

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Currently…

Reading: A Praying Life

But Wanting to Read: The Selection (I’ve requested it at my library and am waiting on it!)

Craving: These peanut butter balls. I’ve made them several times. Delicious!

Wearing: It’s Casual for Charity week! So I’m in a slouchy black skirt, sandals, and coral top

Watching: Big Brother. I know, I know. It is a guilty pleasure that sucks me in.

Stressing Over: Finances. We might need a new car, and we just replaced our air conditioning unit and furnace. And bought a swing set. And remodeled our kitchen. And went to Hawaii.  Too much in 6 months, but we did not anticipate the AC replacement and car buying.

Loving: Watching Sawyer. He plays pretend and I love seeing what his imagination comes up with!

Feeling: To be honest, I’m feeling moody. And my husband can attest to that. ;)

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Influenster #tlcvoxbox Review

I signed up for Influenster at the encouragement of some other bloggers. It’s company that helps brands get the word out about their products. As part of the program, you receive products and you are supposed to try them and post about them via blogging or other social media.

Since I’ve been a member, I’ve received several boxes full of goodies. It’s been fun to test things out and complete the tasks.

Here are my thoughts about my latest box, a box for moms, #tlcvoxbox:

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  1. Neo to Go: I love Neosporin to begin with, but I love this little spray that easily clips on to a keychain, purse, or diaper bag. I love that I don’t have to get my fingers greasy when I rub it in. Instead, I just spray it on and it does its magic! neo to go
  2. Avon Anew: I don’t wear a ton of makeup. But I really loved this. It goes on so smoothly and it looks great. It is light and I sure hope it hides my little wrinkles that I am starting to get!avon
  3. Puffs to Go: I love these little travel packs. So perfect for a purse or diaper bag. You never know when you are going to need it, so it is nice to have on hand.
  4. Ivory Soap: I enjoyed trying this classic soap. The instructions from Influenster asked recipients to do something out of the ordinary with it, such as carve it or blow it up in the microwave. So one day I told Sawyer we were going to do a fun experiment. We put it in the microwave and watched as it got bigger and bigger. We pulled it out and let it cool a bit, and then mooshed it up. Sawyer thought it was fun!  We later used the soap in the bathtub.ivory soap
  5. Breyers Gelato: I received a coupon for Breyers Gelato, so Aaron picked it up one day. He selected raspberry cheesecake, which was delicious. It tasted a lot like ice cream. We enjoyed sharing it on an at-home date night! Next time I want to try vanilla caramel!breyers
  6. Shell Rewards Card: This was by far, my least favorite item in the box. It was basically a card that you use to sign up for fuel rewards and discounts on gas. I wasn’t a fan to begin with because normally the items in the box are fun little perks to try. But anyone can get a rewards card. I was hoping it would come with a little Shell gift card (even $5!) but nothing came with it. So not much to entice me to even use the product. I don’t normally buy gas at Shell, and I’m not likely to start in the future. I registered my card and tried to use it one night. Even though there were instructions on the pump about how to use the card, the card was not eligible at this particular gas station. So I went inside, which would have been more annoying if I didn’t have my husband with me and had to take my kids inside. The gas station attendant told me that that station doesn’t take the rewards cards because it is privately owned. I still needed gas, so I tried pumping gas, but the pump didn’t work right. I even had Aaron try and he couldn’t get it to work, so we left without getting gas.shell

***I received all of these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

If you are not a member of Influenster and are interested in signing up, let me know. It is free. I’ll send you an invite!

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Influenster #JAdoreVoxBox Review

I signed up for Influenster at the encouragement of some other bloggers. It’s basically a company that helps brands get the word out about their products. As part of the program, you receive things and then you are supposed to try them and then post about them via blogging or other social media.

Since I’ve been a member, I’ve received several boxes full of goodies. It’s been fun to test things out and the post my thoughts on them.

Here are my thoughts about my latest box, #jadorevoxbox:

influenster

  1. Vaseline Men Spray Lotion: This was fun – Aaron got to try something! And I’ll admit, I tried it too because I love a good lotion. Aaron liked that this was a spray lotion so it was easy to apply. It had a fresh scent to it and seemed to do a good job.
  2. Hershey’s Kisses: These are always a favorite! My son loves them. He is 3.5 years old so it was fun telling him that they are kisses. He eats plenty of chocolate but this was the first time he had kisses.
  3. John Frieda Frizz Ease 3 Day Flat Iron Spray: I tried this today. So far so good. I like that it is a spray because sometimes the other stuff feels greasy on my fingers when it comes out and I work it into my hair.
  4. Red Rose Tea: I’m not a huge tea fan, so Aaron tried this. It was caramel flavored and got great reviews from Aaron.
  5. KISS Lashes: Haven’t tried this one yet but I plan to soon! I don’t go out very often, so I haven’t had reason to try them. But I’m looking forward to it. I’ve had fake lashes for weddings when I was a bridesmaid but I’ve never put on my own.
  6. Boots Botanic Clay Mask: I really really liked this product. I could feel it at work on my face. It scared my son a bit. He looked at me like I was a crazy woman!

If you are not a member of Influenster and are interested in signing up, let me know. I’ll send you an invite!

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Kids Meal Toys

kids meal toys

Aaron and I were having a conversation the other day about kids meal toys.

I have very fond memories of McDonalds from when I was younger. My mom would pile my three sisters and me in her green minivan and we would go through the drive-thru. We each sat in our assigned seats (otherwise we fought over who sat where) and she turned Joyce Meyer on the radio. I don’t know how she stayed sane with four girls in six years, but that is another story for another day…

The McDonalds happy meal toys that I remember most are the Barbie miniatures. In a family with four girls, we LOVED Barbies. We played with them in the bathtub, we named them and wrote their names on the bottom of them.

I searched for photos of these old toys, and seeing the pictures take me back to that sweet time in my life.

Barbie miniatures in Happy Meals

And if you care about the boy happy meal toys, Aaron told me that he always loved his happy meal toys. They were always sturdy and fun.

We don’t take Sawyer to McDonalds very often (we might if both of us didn’t work outside of the home). But the few times that Sawyer had a happy meal, I can’t say that we were overly impressed with the toys. They always seem cheap and have to be assembled. Sawyer thinks it is cool for one minute and then quickly forgets about it.

I mentioned to Aaron that Chick-Fil-A includes a book in their kids meals. While Sawyer loves to read books (especially if it is about construction vehicles), he isn’t thrilled to open that package. We often trade it in any way for a scoop of ice cream.

Those Barbie miniatures lived in our house for years until my mom sold them at a garage sale. Call me crazy, but I’m tempted to buy a set off of eBay!

In searching for a picture of Barbie miniatures, I also came upon some of my other McDonalds toy favorites – the trick-or-treat bucket and beanie babies. Can you believe they used to give this stuff out with happy meals?

I thought it would be fun to write about this memory and see if you had any attachment to kids meal toys. Do you remember any happy meal toys specifically?

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Five on Friday

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Yay! It’s Friday! I’m joining DarciAprilChristina and Natasha today for Five on Friday!

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I have this post brewing in my head about my mom. As I’ve reflected on my parenting style the past few weeks (and how I still have no clue what I’m doing), I’ve realized that I can never remember my mom EVER yelling at me or taking my arm sternly in frustration. Sometimes I’m not proud of the way I treat Sawyer. I don’t know how my mom had 4 girls in 6 years and didn’t lose her cool. Mom, how’d you do it? Maybe Mama J needs to write a post on parenting…

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I’m starting to feel overwhelmed with Christmas activities. There are so many great Christmas things to do in St. Louis, and I want to do them all! Need.More.Time!

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“Buckeye” and I are thinking about going to see a comedian for our date night tomorrow night. Comedians are often too vulgar for me, but I think it would be great to get together with my husband and just laugh. Last night at dinner “Huck” was making motorcycle noises and my little guy (who has yet to get a blog “name”) was “screaming.” And “Buckeye” and I were trying to have a conversation. Life is crazy now and “Buckeye” and I just need an opportunity to laugh.

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I’m due for a haircut. Thanks God for beautiful friends who are also talented hair stylists. I think I’m going to keep my hair long but I’m tempted to go for a choppy shoulder length, cut. Because then I will look like Reese Witherspoon, right?

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I am loving faithit.com.  Have you visited this site? It’s been all over Facebook. I absolutely love it. Heartwarming videos. Clever ideas. Check it out!

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Five on Friday

Ummm….hello? Anyone still reading?

Well we have taken quite the hiatus. I’d love to post more often, but sometimes I can’t keep my mind on one topic long enough to write a post about it. There is just too much going on and too much to juggle.

So what’s the next best thing to do? Participate in “Five on Friday.”

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So here are my Friday random musings:

  1. About a month ago “Buckeye” and I made an effort to simplify our calendar. We had a few weeks that we are going non.stop. It wore us down; it made “Huck” fussy. It made our family miserable. So we have made a conscious effort to not schedule [almost] anything during the week, except for the occasional meet up on Thursday nights with this lady and her wonderful family (it’s practically tradition!). And we’ve also said “no” to a few invitations for weekend events. I am a “yes” person, but I started to feel like life was passing us by as we ran from one thing to the next. We LOVE our rare weekends that we can spend relaxing as a family. Now we do go crazy on the weekends if we have no plans, because “Huck” often gets bored and that’s when he starts misbehaving. Nevermind the fact that he has 12,504 toys…
  2. I’m REALLY excited about the holiday season. I’ve signed us up for a few fun Christmas activities (there I go again, filling up our calendar) that include a ride on the Santa Express and a walk through the lights at Tilles Park. I’d also love to do Advent activities with “Huck” this year.
  3. I host an annual “Favorite Things Party” that has traditionally been in December. I think it will be my 7th or 8th year hosting it! This year I think I am going to wait until January. I hate competing against other holiday parties and I think it will be fun to have something fun in January. I just hope I don’t run into snowy, icy weather!
  4. I think I am over TV. I’m really only watching Revenge and Survivor regularly and I’m even a little tired of those shows. By the time we get the boys to bed, I’ve been ready to put myself to bed. Good thing “Buckeye” has a DVR full of shows he wants to watch while I sneak to bed at 9:30 every night!
  5. We are re-doing our kitchen and I cannot wait until it is done. It has taken forever to get moving on it and I’m not looking forward to the pricetag at the end. But I’ve hated my kitchen ever since we moved in, so it was time!

What’s on your mind this Friday?

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National Running Day

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Today is National Running Day so get out and run!  Today is a day to get inspired, motivated and to celebrate the reasons why you like to run!! 

run3The reasons I run are….(1) the way it makes me feel afterwards.  I feel so accomplished and healthy.  Also, as crazy as it sounds, I love the sore feeling after running a half marathon or full marathon.  (2) for the me time.  There are times when I leave the headphones at home and let my mind wander and think about things.  These are my best personal therapy sessions and are good for the soul!  (3) to enjoy food and wine!!  It makes me feel better when I occasionally splurge.  Not that I don’t splurge on non-running days, but it gives me a good reason to have a glass of wine or a smores blizzard from DQ (go try one, they are amazing!). 

memphis_7Some of my best running moments….(1) Running Big Sur with Jessica.  By far, the most beautiful course that I will EVER run on I’m sure. One side you see mountains, the other side you see the ocean.  Amazing.  Also, my PR (personal record), so that means even more to me.  Also the race Jessica qualified for Boston at! (2) Running Memphis with Jennifer. This was my 3rd marathon and Jennifer’s first.  Weather was amazing (in the upper 30′s) and first time I broke 4 hours.  This was the St. Jude race and we ran through the hospital grounds and were cheered on my many of the young patients (tear).  Also, Jennifer announced she was pregnant just a few weeks after (she was pregnant running it little to my knowledge).  (3) Running with my family in other races.  thanksgiving_2For the United Way 5K, my sister Jessica and my dad ran it.  Believe it or not, we all got medals (top 3 in our age groups!).  Someone caught on to the last name (before I was married) and commented on how it must be a “family thing”.  Also, my whole family did the Turkey Trot one year.  And another year, Jessica and Jamie ran the full marathon (Jamie’s first) while Jennifer and I ran the half.  Must be in the family ;) .

And here are some more random running pictures of us:

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color_run_3Go_7

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Oh and did you know I was featured on billboards throughout St. Louis promoting the Go! St. Louis race a few years ago….yep, that is me (see pic above)!! 

So many good memories and as you can see, I share most of them with my sisters, my best friends. 

Why do you run?  What are some of your favorite memories?

Happy National Running Day :)

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Nashville Review!!!

T-Rex and I had an awesome time in Nashville!  I’ve been to the city for work before, but have never been able to really enjoy myself during the day, so it was fun.  If you are into live (mostly country) music, then you NEED to visit. 

Where did we stay: Brentwood, TN.  Brentwood is about 10 minutes away from downtown and was the perfect place to stay.  I wanted to stay downtown, but it was expensive and you had to pay for parking at most hotels.  Our hotel (a Hyatt) was right off of the highway and extrememly easy to get in and out.  It had a small fitness center (we used once) and an outdoor pool.  Also, complementary breakfast was included.  Rooms were decent and I would give the hotel probably a 6/10. 

Where did we eat: nashtrip 1(1) Pub 5 on Friday night (right off the Broadway strip).  We had a blind date with another couple (going to Cabo with them and they are friends with the other couple we are going to Cabo with).  Our blind date went well – the couple were so much fun and we are excited to spend a week with them in Cabo, at the same resort they got married at 2 years ago!  Such a sweet duo.  Pub 5 was really good.  Started with some hummus and I got a salad, Trevor got the hamburger.  nashtrip 2(2) Pancake pantry Saturday morning.  This is a staple breakfast place in Nashville (everyone told us to go there).  They are known for their unique pancakes.  I got the carribean pancakes (with coconut shavings and bananas on top) and T-Rex got the sweet potatoe pancakes.  Both VERY good.  We got there around 8:15 and only had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, but when we left a hour later, the line was very long.  If you want to go here and not wait long, go early!!                nashtrip 3(3)Sambuca – Dinner Saturday night.  This was more of a lounge type restaurant.  The meal was pricey, but well worth it because the food was great.  Our table was right next to the stage, whch was nice because the singer was great -only country music we didn’t hear as she was more mainstream.  If you go here make reservations. 

nashtrip 4What we did: (1) We went to the country music hall of fame and museum on Saturday.  T-Rex and I are big country music fans, so we thought it was neat to see this.  We had to wait in a nice 30 minute line to get tickets (get them online before you go if you can).  Let me tell you that probably 85% of the museum is dedicated to OLDER country.  I didn’t know who the people were, although it was interesting to read their stories.  Out of the 3 stories, I could really nashtrip 6only relate to the bottom floor, with the most recent people/memorabilia on it.  I’m glad I went, but not sure that it was worth the $22/person knowing that I couldn’t really related to most of it.  Maybe it’s my age?  Maybe it’s my taste in country (mainly the newer stuff)?  Keep this in mind if you are wanting to go. 

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nashtrip 9(2) We bar-hopped/listened to live music.  We did this before dinner on Friday night and during the day (after the museum and before sambuca) on Saturday.  I would recommend going during the day if you can.  I feel like it is more laid back and chill during the day.  It’s not as “clubby” as it is at night.  We found a few good spots to sit down and relax/have a cocktail and listen to the live music.  The singers were REALLY good.  nashtrip 11They only work for tips and there is no cover charge, so really the tip money is how they make their living.  A few of our favorite spots (most of the places with open-air bars) were Honkey Tonk Central (3 story open-air bar), Rippy’s (2 story open-air bar) and Cadillac Ranch.  We also visited Tootsie’s and Legends, but those bars were SO crowded and not much air movement.  The weather was beautiful, so we didn’t nashtrip 10want to sit in a bar that was like a box, would rather sit with the sun shining in and the wind blowing.

To sum it all up, we had an awesome time.  T-Rex and I are big into music (especially country) so we had a great time.  People of all ages frequented the bars we went to and everyone seemed to have a good time.  It’s definitely touristy, but that is what makes it fun.  If you haven’t been to Nashville, GO!! 

 

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Weekend get-away

So much has been happening in life lately, that hubs and I decided to get out of dodge.  We planned to take Friday off weeks ago, now really knowing that it was memorial day weekend, but oh well.  So….we’ve decided to go to…..

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We’ve both been here before, but not together.  I’ve had a client in Nashville and spent a few weeks there about 6 years ago, while T-Rex went there for his bachelor party.  Both of us really didn’t do much “sight-seeing” while there, so we were wondering what we should do.  Here are a few things from trip advisor that are encouraged:

nashville 21.  Grand Ole Opry - The Grand Ole Opry, an American Icon and Nashville’s number one attraction, is known for creating one-of-a-kind entertainment.  Travis Tritt is singing/playing there, which actually woudlnt’ be too bad to see. 

2.  Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – This museum highlights the history of country music from its birthplace in the Music City to present-day.  T-Rex and I are big country fans, so this might be worth seeing. 

3.  Bar/music scene.  We’ve heard that Nashville is the capital of GOOD karaoke, like the kind you don’t get up and sing unless you are good.  Like the kind I will never get up and sing no matter how many drinks I’ve had.  There are a few places that we’ve heard of to go to – Legend’s Corner and Tootsies.  Really, we were just going to walk around downtown and see what we find. 

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4.  Homes/museums/tours.  The home of late President Andrew Jackson.  The Johnny Cash museum (The Johnny Cash Museum features the world’s largest collection of Johnny Cash artifacts and memorabilia in the world), Lane Motor Museum (Lane Motor Museum in Nashville features the largest European collection of cars and motorcycles in the United States), Fontanel Mansion (a huge, beautiful log cabin) and others.

5.  Food.  Not what yet, but hopefully we find some good stuff!

Has anyone been to Nashville?  Any suggestions on whether the items mentioned above are worth-while?  Any food/bar/music suggestions?  Honestly, we will just be happy to get away and if we end up just walking around down town, I think I will still be happy.  Also, if all else fails, our hotel has an outdoor pool and I can work on my tan :) .

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