29 August 2016

Madeline Monday // Groovy & Chill




Stuff will come and stuff will go, but we keep on singing.





26 August 2016

Blogger Love // Volume 1 //

Whew, has it been a week for us! With Maddy starting kindergarten on Monday and getting used to new routines and schedules, my brain is fried. As I write this, I’m sitting here at my desk clutching my chai tea latte for dear life as it is my current lifeline and wondering where in the world the time has gone. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to read a lot of great posts this week that have kept me inspired and uplifted. I’m always amazed by the diversity and creative minds behind other bloggers and their work so today, I want to share a few posts that have spoken to me this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


I’ve had the opportunity to read a lot of great posts this week that have kept me inspired and uplifted. I’m always amazed by the diversity and creative minds behind other bloggers and their work so today, I want to share a few posts that have spoken to me this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.




I recently started reading Erin’s blog on the suggestion of another blogger and really love her blog’s message: minimalism and frugal spending. She caught me off guard this week with her selfie post and I L O V E D it. The message is simple: Share a picture of yourself – the first one you take – with confidence. There is a great infographic she shares in this post that really hits home on how we as women are so hard on ourselves and lengths we will go to to get the “perfect” picture. I know I’m certainly guilty of this so reading her perspective and encouragement was like a breath of fresh air. Stop letting society dictate what is beautiful and simply be you. There is nothing wrong with you.

25 August 2016

How Do You Know When You're Ready To Become A Parent?

If you're reading this and you’re on the fence about having kids my message to you is simple: walk your own path. Listen to your own heart. You may never know if you want kids and that's okay. You don't have to live up to anyone's expectations except your own and you don't always have to have the answers to everything. Enjoy the time you have with yourself now and relish in that. Life is always out there waiting and what is meant to be will always find its way to you - always.



Easy question, right? No pressure.


To be completely honest, I was never really sure if I wanted a child or if I’d have the opportunity to be a parent. My pre-baby self would always joke with my girlfriends that already had kids about mommy things like lack of sleep, sore nipples and the downsides to labor and as a result of hearing their not so always rosy answers, I found myself asking,  "What made you decide to have kids??! Are you crazy??" In the back of my mind as they were laughing at the jokes, I was always thinking something along the lines of, "No really - I'm not kidding. What made you want to do it?"


Most people never know when they're really ready or prepared to have a baby but my story goes a little deeper than that. Over the last few days, I've had a few girlfriends ask me how I knew I was ready to have a child so I thought I would talk about it here.


Growing up I was never much into playing house, playing with baby dolls or anything close to resembling homemaking or taking care of a child. As a matter of fact, my Cabbage Patch doll was naked most of the time and most of my Barbies walked around without their heads as I had cut them off. I would have rather been outside riding skate boards in the neighborhood with my boy friends, playing in the creek across the street from our house or reading. As I got older, I refined my femininity quite a bit but never my feelings towards having a family - the feeling just wasn't there.


I guess I could chalk half of it up to selfish feelings; I enjoyed my freedom, I liked not being responsible for anyone but me and liked knowing that my life was mine and mine alone but it was more than that looking back on it now. At the time, I questioned whether or not I really had what it takes to be a good mom. I loved kids but it concerned me that I didn't have a natural mothering instinct. Couple this with the fact that I was married to a man at the time who didn't want kids, so it was easy to not have to deal with my feelings about whether or not to have kids at all. Life for the most part was...simple.


Then things changed.

24 August 2016

I Want To Be More Than Just A Mom...And That's Okay

I love being a mother, I truly do. In my 40 years of life, there has never been anything more beautiful, miraculous and amazing that has happened to me than being Maddy’s mother. Even on the hard days - and there are been many - I still feel so blessed and in awe that my little girl is mine. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly and I’m so very grateful for my child. 


Having said this, I’ve always had a desire to work outside of the home. Even when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I would be taking my allotted maternity leave and then returning work. It was never a question or a debate for me. I like having the opportunity to develop my own interests and skills and truth be told, while they are the best gifts I’ve ever received, I have a desire to be paid in cold hard cash along with hugs and kisses. For me, it’s the best of both worlds.


And that’s okay.

23 August 2016

Talkless Tuesday: The First Day of Kinergarten

















22 August 2016

Madeline Monday

Happy first day of kindergarten, Maddy. Daddy and mommy are so proud of you!


Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.





KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!


So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off the Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!



OH!
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!


Happy first day of kindergarten, Maddy. Daddy and mommy are so proud of you! 



'Oh! The Places You'll Go!' excerpts by Dr. Seuss. 

19 August 2016

Letters to Madeline: 7 Things I Want You To Remember About Starting Kindergarten

Although you’ve been to day care and preschool all these years, kindergarten will be different. This is what I’m told anyway. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t been there in 35 years, but the important thing to remember is that it’s the start of your official school record. It’s such an exciting time for you, Maddy. There are so many things I want to tell you about what you’re getting ready to experience but for now, this is what I want to tell you...



Dear Maddy,


Today is your last day of day care. I will hold your little hand as we walk inside your preschool classroom for the last time. We will end this part of your life in the same way we started – together. Since you were three months old, you’ve been in day care. In this time, you’ve learned so much: how to walk, how to talk, how to socialize, colors, numbers, and so much more. Your father and I have watched you grow from a helpless baby into a semi-independent girl and on Monday, you will start a new chapter of your life – kindergarten, or “big girl school” as you like to call it.


Although you’ve been to day care and preschool all these years, kindergarten will be different. This is what I’m told anyway. I wouldn’t know as I haven’t been there in 35 years, but the important thing to remember is that it’s the start of your official school record. It’s such an exciting time for you, Maddy. There are so many things I want to tell you about what you’re getting ready to experience but for now, this is what I want to tell you:


Do What You Know Is Right.

You have been raised to know right from wrong and you are blessed with the gift of discernment. Listen to the still, small voice that guides and directs you every day. Stand firm in what you know is good and right even if it’s not popular or well-received. At the end of the day, your character is the only thing that matters. Don’t compromise it for anyone.


Respect Your Teacher.

Aside from your father and me, your teacher (hopefully) will be your biggest support and advocate in your learning. This person has sacrificed their own time and money to give you the best start possible to your school career. Respect that, and the job they are doing that helps you.


Be Yourself.

One of the best things about starting kindergarten is the opportunity to make new friends and while that’s exciting and new all at the same time, don’t forget who you are. It’s okay to be different. Our differences is what makes the world go ‘round. Appreciate the talents and ideas that your new friends bring to the table but never forget what makes you truly special – simply being you.




Accept That You Will Make Mistakes and That’s Okay. 

The only guarantees in life are death, taxes and mistakes. Everyone makes them as we are all imperfect. I’m 40 and mess things up every day. Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake, instead, learn from it. Grow from it and keep your life moving. No successful person ever got anywhere wallowing in their self-pitty and goof-ups.


Never Stop Asking Questions and Being Curious. 

One of the many things I love about you is your curiosity. You’re always asking me or daddy questions about everything. Don’t ever lose your sense of wonderment in the world around you. Yes, it will make you a better student but more importantly, a better person. Keep your mind and heart open to new experiences, places and people.




Embrace and Celebrate Diversity. 

We are all unique in our own ways and bring something different to the table. All of us want to be loved, befriended and accepted for who we are. If you see that another child is struggling or needs help, ask what you can do to assist. Never make fun or pick on anyone. You wouldn’t want it done to you, right?


Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

You will only be young once. As you get older, you will gain more responsibility so yes, while kindergarten is the beginning of your scholastic career… its still just kindergarten (shhhhh. You never heard me say that). Don’t forget to laugh, to play and relish in your youth. One day you will be old, like me.


Oh, Maddy. I’m so proud of you and excited to see what is in store over the next year. I can’t wait to hear about all the amazing and wonderful things you’re going to do and learn over the next year. This is such an exciting time for you and for your dad and me as well. Per the usual, I’m sure you will handle this all with so much grace while your good ole mom is wrapped up in the fetal position crying myself to sleep. You may have to help me out a little bit, okay?


So on Monday, I will take your hand once more, albeit a little more grown up and walk with you into the next chapter of your life.



Just remember to wash your hands, okay? 

18 August 2016

Three Thoughts on Thursday




… Lately, I’ve felt the increasing need to free myself of our possessions. Yes, we need a sofa to sit on. Of course we need a dining room table to eat meals and duh, we have to sleep in beds but I’m longing for more simplicity. When I look around our home, all I see is a collection of dead weight; items we never use and bulky furniture taking up space. When it comes down to it, I really want to go as minimalistic as possible, I just don’t know where to start. In as much as I want to lighten our load, I’m also scared of getting rid of the wrong things and needing said items down the road. Have you ever done a mass clean out? What suggestions or tips do you have?

16 August 2016

A Letter To My Daughter's Future Kindergarten Teacher

A Letter To My Daughter's Future Kindergarten Teacher: I don’t know what this new school year will bring for either of us. I don’t know what to expect in this new world. I don’t know what the rules are and how the day runs but what I do know is this: that every day, I’ll be amazed by how much my daughter is learning and just how fast and fleeting it will all be. I know that she will blossom and bloom where she is planted and that you will have a hand to play in all of it. I know that no matter what comes our way, we’ll get through this year together.


Dear Teacher,

We haven’t met yet so allow me to introduce myself: I’m Courtney, and I’m Maddy’s mom and on next Monday, my daughter will be in your care during the day. She is so excited to start “big girl school” which makes me happy but on the other hand, I'm a little scared and sad, too.


To be completely honest with you, I have a lot of anxiety about reaching this milestone. I worry about my daughter. I worry about her making new friends easily and fitting in. She can be painfully shy. I worry about her getting into trouble. She can be very stubborn and strong-willed when she wants to be. I worry about her losing her love of learning as I’ve seen it happen to other kids as they start school. I’m worried that she will get lost in her new surroundings. She can sometimes be forgetful. It’s hard to see a part of your heart grow up and walk out the door.

15 August 2016

Madeline Monday




Listen to the mustn’ts, child, listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me. Anything can happen, child, anything can be.”  // Shel Silverstein





12 August 2016

How I Lost 40 Pounds: Four Sensible & Healthy Ways I Lost The Weight

I have always struggled with my weight. From elementary school all the way up to today, I’ve been a human weight yo-yo. Some years, I was lean and strong. More years than not, I’ve been overweight and out of shape. My story is nothing new. Millions of women struggle everyday with their weight and issues of self-worth and self-love that are unjustly tied to the way we look. It hasn’t helped that I’ve been in relationships with men who have tied my worth and value to my weight but allow me to be clear: my weight struggles are just that – my own. While other’s comments and opinions about my weight have played a part in my journey, I take full responsibility for myself. After all, no one forced me to put the food in my mouth. My choices were my own.

So how did I manage to overcome my issues with food and weight? Honestly, I haven’t. It’s a daily, conscience effort to make the best decisions possible for myself and my body. Even though I’ve lost 40 pounds, I still struggle with my weight and food addiction on a daily basis.

Confession: As I type this, I’m eating a bowl of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. What can I say? Some days are good and some days are bad. That’s the reality of me as a work in progress. I think a part of my dieting success is attributed to the fact that I can own this – I have a food addiction problem. I struggle. To me, food equals comfort and honestly, it just tastes so. damn. good.

Having said this, my life came to a point in January when I realized I needed to make a change. For years I made excuses as to why I couldn’t get my shit together…

I’m a new mom. I just don’t have time to take care of myself.”
“I’ve worked all day. I just want to go home and relax.”
“I just accomplished X, Y or Z. I deserve to celebrate!”
Denial: “I haven’t gained that much weight. I’m not that bad off.”

Lies. They were all lies.

The simple fact of the matter is that we all make time in our lives for the things that are important to us. For me, my weight had taken a back seat to anything and everything in my life. I was too busy taking care of everyone and everything else that I neglected the most important person of all – me. So how did I change that? Sensibly, slowly and reasonably.

10 August 2016

Mommy Confessions: Today I Confess...




Today, I confess…


… That preparing for Maddy to start kindergarten is leaving me in a blubbering mess. I always pictured myself being okay and stoic with her starting school (and I am, I know she’s ready) but when I think about it, I get all the feels. I wasn’t prepared to feel so many different ways about my daughter starting school and it has hit me out of the blue like a ton of bricks.


… That I’ve been so uninspired in the kitchen lately. This is definitely not the norm for me. I love to cook. I don’t know if it’s the summer heat sucking the life out of me or what but I definitely haven’t had my cooking mojo like I normally do. I know this will change when fall comes because, hello, crockpot meals, soups and baking are essentials for the season.


… That I’m not a fan of LuLaRoe clothing. There. I said it.

08 August 2016

Madeline Monday




You have a few loves in your life, mostly food, bubbles, donuts and your best friend, our sheltie Henry. From the day we brought you home from the hospital, you and Henry have been BFF's. You play together and watch movies together but what really grabs at my heartstrings is how he sleeps with you in your room at night. Your favorite shows to watch on TV are Max and Ruby, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol, PJ Masks and Peppa Pig.

05 August 2016

Five Inexpensive Ways To Decorate For Fall

It’s no secret that summer and I just don’t get along. That’s why I’m so thrilled that it’s August because that means fall is just around the corner.


I love everything about fall; football, cozy scarfs and boots, cool breezes, pumpkin spice lattes, the leaves changing colors, baking, fire pits, homemade soups and most of all – the decorations.


You could spend a fortune on your fall décor but why? There are so many simple, inexpensive and natural ways to bring the comfort and beauty of fall into your home. With the season fast approaching, I thought I’d take some time today to share some of the ways I’ve decorated for fall through the years. Spoiler alert: the dollar tree is your best friend!


You could spend a fortune on your fall décor but why? There are so many simple, inexpensive and natural ways to bring the comfort and beauty of fall into your home. With the season just fast approaching, I thought I’d take some time today to share some of the ways I’ve decorated for fall through the years. Spoiler alert: the dollar tree is your best friend!



FREE PRINTABLES AND FRAMES.

If there’s one thing I love more than fall, it’s anything I can get for free. Cristy at Pretty My Party put together this amazing post filled with gorgeous and free fall printables. With a trip to Dollar Tree, you can buy black, white or dark wood frames to go with any area of your home that you want to decorate.

03 August 2016

Stop Telling Me When, How and Where To Talk About Politics

Let’s have a mutual understanding about this post before I continue, okay?

With everything going on in the world today, I have a lot on my heart and mind that I need want to talk about. I can’t go another day in silence writing about Starbucks trips, fluff and weekend updates. Those posts certainly have a time and place, but not today. Today, I’m serious. Since this is my blog, I guess I have the right to do that. You as my reader have the right to exit out now if you want however, I have a sneaky suspicion that you wouldn’t have clicked into this post after reading the title if you weren’t interested in what I have to say. Either way – welcome. If you choose to stay and read on, please also make the choice to do so with an open mind and an open heart. It’s cool if we disagree but let’s be kind. If you don’t think that’s possible, then please keep scrolling.

Cool? Cool. Let’s go.


I have always had a love of politics. Blame it on my insane need to see justice done. Blame it on the debater in me. Blame it on my high school political science teacher who ignited the fire in me to care about the issues. She’s also the one who wrote in my yearbook, “Dear Madam President” when she signed it. I was that passionate about it all, even in high school. Point the finger at whom or what you will but the fact remains – I enjoy politics but more than that, it’s important to me.   So please, stop telling me when, how and where to talk about it.


I have always had a love of politics. Blame it on my insane need to see justice done. Blame it on the debater in me. Blame it on my high school political science teacher who ignited the fire in me to care about the issues. She’s also the one who wrote in my yearbook, “Dear Madam President” when she signed it. I was that passionate about it all, even in high school. Point the finger at whom or what you will but the fact remains – I enjoy politics but more than that, it’s important to me.


So please, stop telling me when, how and where to talk about it.

02 August 2016

Working Girl to SAHM: Five Tips To Help You Fall In Love With Your New SAHM Life

These are my top tricks that were life savers for me in my transition from working mom to stay at home mom when I needed them.



Over the past five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience motherhood from both sides of the fence as a working mom outside the home and as a SAHM but I'll let you guys in on a little secret...

I never in a million years ever expected to be a SAHM in the slightest. EVER. If I'm being completely honest, I use to think, "Geez. What do they do all day? And why would anyone want to do it? Boring!" In my defense, I was young, kid-free and had my life to myself {translation: I was one of those childless adults who thinks they know it all where kids are concerned because I had a dog and a cat. Yes, I admit it - I was a poopy head}.

So let me back up for a minute and give you all a little background information. I've always been a working girl and am currently a working mom. Up until Maddy was born, it was me, myself and my career and I was happy with that. I like to work and honestly, I'm good at it. I know what I'm doing when I'm in my career element. I know who I am, what the expectations are and the end goals in sight. It's like second nature to me - comfortable, familiar and easy.

01 August 2016

Madeline Monday

You, my Maddy, are different and different is good. When someone tells you that you’re different, smile, hold your  head high and be proud. You will never influence the world by trying to be like it.


At five, you are…

Oddly beautiful. Messy. Not very good at sitting still. Full of fire and alive. Loud and chaotic. Complex yet oh so simple. Sassy. A dreamer, a thinker, a doer, a maker. Independent and strong. Funny and full of laughter. Not one to ever back down. Curious and inquisitive. Listening to 80’s music and loving it. An uncut diamond. Rambunctious and gentle. Thoughtful, loving and kind.

27 July 2016

Maddy's Fifth Birthday Party!

I know I say this every birthday, but man! I can’t believe my little girl is a year older. Time is fleeting, you guys. Next month, she will start kindergarten and I have absolutely zero clue as to how that happened. Don’t blink, mamas!



Well, we survived the shenanigans of Maddy’s fifth birthday party weekend. It was a great time but I’ll be honest, I’m one tired mama.


If you remember from this previous post, we decided to have Maddy’s party at an all-inclusive indoor inflatable playground this year. I highly recommend Bounce U if there’s one in your city. The packages are reasonably priced with no hidden costs, they are extremely organized and I literally worried about nothing. All we did was show up, party and leave. No decorations to buy or hang, no mess to clean up, no food to prepare, no home to clean beforehand or get destroyed in the process. #winning


Maddy and her friends had an amazing time. More importantly, they ran and played so hard that the birthday girl slept through the night. Always a huge plus in my book.











Later that evening, it was time for the adults to party, sans the kiddos. My parents offered to watch Maddy while me, Michael and my two sisters hit downtown Pittsburgh. We went to a few different locations but by far the coolest one was the Speakeasy in the basement of the William Penn Hotel. About four years ago, the hotel decided to do some renovations and in the process, found this room that was used as a speakeasy during prohibition days. When they discovered the room, they also discovered some of the original drink and liquor bottles from the era which are now on display in the bar. It’s such a cool little space and when I say it’s little, it’s literally just that. Only 45 people are allowed in at one time.





The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping, lots of food and celebrating our little girl.





I know I say this every birthday, but man! I can’t believe my little girl is a year older. Time is fleeting, you guys. Next month, she will start kindergarten and I have absolutely zero clue as to how that happened. Don’t blink, mamas!

How was your weekend? 

22 July 2016

Dear Maddy: On Sunday, You Will Be Five

Every day, you’re leaving me, you're transforming, just like the chrysalis we found on the frame of our front door a month ago. You're growing up so quickly and it’s a harsh reminder of how fleeting it all is, your childhood. It’s so much fun to watch you grow up yet, it’s so sad to know that you’re no longer my baby. I’m so proud of you, Maddy. Every day with you is special. Every day with you is magical. Every day with you is loud, crazy, chaotic and tiring but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so proud to be your mama and I know that you are going to do amazing things in this world. I can’t wait to see what they are.   Happy 5th birthday, Chickie. I love you, always and forever.



Over the past year, you’ve experienced so much change. We moved to Pittsburgh. You started a new school, where you learned about a chrysalis and how it changes into a beautiful butterfly. 

And on Sunday, you will be five.

I remember very clearly the day I saw your transformation. It was an evening at home. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner and you walked in and asked, “Mama, can I please watch Paw Patrol?” I told you yes as I handed you a plate of grapes and we walked into the living room. You sat down, crossed your legs like a little lady and placed the plate on your lap. “Thank you, mama,” you said as I got the show for you. As I turned to walk back into the kitchen, I looked at you. At five, you’re long and lean, there is no baby fat or baby rolls left on you. Most times when you sit, you sit with your legs crossed. Your wisps of baby hair have blossomed into full-grown curls and your face has transformed from the happy-go-lucky baby and toddler I once knew to full-blown little girl: curious, thoughtful and beautiful. It was at this point that I realized you had turned from toddler to little girl right before my eyes.

20 July 2016

My Tender Moments In Parenting

These moments and more are the times that remind me how truly lucky and blessed I am as a mom, and I try my best to relish and cherish these moments because one day I know I won't have them. One day she will stop coming into our bed in the middle of the night for snuggles. One day she will want to leave and play with her friends and not me. These are my reality checks. So while the now seems unbearable at times, in the grand scheme of things, it's just a moment in time. What I will hold on to forever are the tender moments in my parenting.



It seems like lately, our life has been a scene from Jurassic Park; loud screeching, wailing and gnashing of teeth, and growls that even scare the dog at times. But alas, we don't have any cool dinosaurs living in our home...just a preschooler with the attitude of a dinosaur.


If you've never experienced the pleasure of raising a preschooler, let me break it down for you in one word: challenging…to say the very least. You know that scene in Jurassic Park where dude gets eaten right off the toilet? There are some days I wish that were me. Partially because (A.) I can't seem to get two minutes to go to the bathroom by myself any more anyway so what does it matter and (B.) partially because well...honestly...some days I just want to go running and screaming from my house.


I know none of this is her fault. I know Maddy is simply going through the normal growing pains every preschooler experiences; newfound independence, exploring the world around her and the influence of other children and their attitudes definitely adds another layer to the mix. For the most part, she’s grown out of the crying over everything stage and into the push back, argumentative stage where every parental decision, choice and instruction is up for question and analyzation. If you ever want to sound like your own mother, have a conversation with a strong-willed, uber-curious child and before you know it, you will boil all of your parenting choices down to, “Because I said so, that’s why!” It’s all in a day’s work.