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.

19 July 2016

Currently in July

Currently happening in July: parenting, cooking, fun, creativity, travel and so much more. Come check out what's going on with us this month!

How is it mid-July already?


Mad About You reruns. Hands down, this is one of my all-time most favorite shows ever aside from Friends and Mad Men. I recently found a station that plays two episodes every morning so I quickly set my DVR to record and in the evenings, I’m happy as a clam.


‘How To Be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living’ by Rob Bell. It’s an okay book. Would I recommend it to anyone? No. It’s disjointed, elementary and honestly, there’s nothing he’s saying that I haven’t heard a million times over already BUT it will speak to someone who is listening…it’s just not me.

18 July 2016

Madeline Monday

A Daughter is one of the most beautiful gifts this world has to give.

I know a girl, she puts the color inside my world

Daughters are like flowers. They make the world beautiful.

Happy Monday, friends! 

15 July 2016


Life, family and parenting happening on these little squares we call Instagram.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”            
- Mark Twain

“Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars up above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think, and to think is the beginning of a real education.
- David Polis

“But if adventure has a final and all embracing motive it is surely this:
We go out because it is in our nature to go out, to climb mountains and to sail the seas, to fly to the planets and plunge into depths of the oceans. By doing these things we make touch with something outside or behind, which strangely seems to approve our doing them. We extend our horizon, we expand our being, we revel in the mastery of ourselves which gives an impression, mainly illusory, that we are masters of the World. In a word, we are men and when man ceases to do these things, he is no longer man.
- Wilfred Noyce

 You can discover more in an hour of play than you can in a lifetime of conversation.”
- Unknown

Are we friends on IG? If not, let’s connect! You can find me at ShirazInMySippyCup. Have a fabulous weekend!

13 July 2016

Four Kid's Cartoon Characters I'd Like to Punch in the Face

Most of the cartoons my daughter likes, I can’t stand. Some nights and mornings I do my best to completely tune it all out because I just can’t. With that said, I give you the top four children’s cartoon characters I’d love to punch in the face.

As a kid, I loved watching cartoons especially on Saturday mornings. There was nothing better than filling up a big bowl of Frosted Flakes, making a huge, fluffy pillow pile on the floor and snuggling up to watch Jem, The Smurfs and Looney Tunes. Childhood goals on point.

Fast forward about 33 years later as an adult with my own almost five year-old in tow, and it’s a completely different story. Getting up at 6 AM on the weekend is no longer appealing and while I’m a Frosted Flakes girl for life, nowadays, I’d much rather have a hot cup of caffeine-filled coffee to get me going for the day instead of a cold bowl of cereal.

And the cartoons these days? Eh. Maybe I’m showing my age, but the cartoon era of the 1980’s will always be the best in my opinion. Cartoons these days are just downright annoying and in some cases, borderline inappropriate for some ages. More than that if I’m being honest, most days I’m done adulating, even if I’ve only stepped foot out of bed. If it’s the weekday, by the time I work all day, come home and take care of my family, the house and the pets, do the bedtime routine and cook dinner, I’m fried. Hello, digital babysitter!

The thing is, most of the cartoons my daughter likes, I can’t stand. Some nights and mornings I do my best to completely tune it all out because I just can’t. With that said, I give you the top four children’s cartoon characters I’d love to punch in the face.

12 July 2016

Letters to Madeline: This is Your Daddy

It's often said that the bond between a father and his daughter is unlike any other. For you, my sweet girl, this is your daddy.

Dear Madeline,

In a couple of weeks, you will be five. By now you know that this is your daddy...

11 July 2016

Madeline Monday

As the mother of a girl, there are two things I hope my daughter remembers as she grows up. One, the most beautiful accessory any woman can wear is a smile and two, you have the ability to change a person's day and world with just one smile.

Hey hobo man
Hey Dapper Dan
You've both got your style,
But brother you're never fully dressed without a smile

Who cares what they're wearing
On Main Street to Saville Row?
It's what you wear from ear to ear
And not from head to toe
That matters

So Senator, so janitor
So long for a while

Remember you're never fully dressed
Without a smile

Who cares what they're wearing
On Main Street to Saville Row?
It what you wear from ear to ear
And not from head to toe
That matters

So senator, so janitor
So long for a while
Remember you're never fully dressed
Though you may wear the best
Brother you're never fully dressed
Without a smile

Oh you're never dressed without a smile!

Lyrics: From the motion picture soundtrack Annie

07 July 2016

I Didn't Bond With My Daughter After Birth...And That's Okay!

I Didn't Bond With My Daughter After Birth...And That's Okay! #parenting #parentingadvice #motherhood

For some mothers, the bond with their child begins the moment they find out they are pregnant. For others, the bond forms the moment they lay eyes on their baby for the first time. But for other moms? Sometimes the bond takes a little longer to develop. 

This is the category I fell into. 

I never thought I was ever going to have the opportunity to be a mom. Something you may not know about me is that in a faraway land a long, long time ago, I was married. Obviously, the marriage didn't work out because here I am with another man and a child but the point is that my first marriage was childless and by every indication would always be childless. I had pretty much given up all hope that I would ever be a mother. We divorced in 2009 and I moved forward with my life.

06 July 2016

What Will My Daughter Remember About Her Childhood?

What Will My Daughter Remember About Her Childhood? #parenting #parentingadvice #mothers #motherhood

This weekend while entertaining our out of town friends Joe and Mimi, I took some time to sit with Maddy in the living room and simply play blocks with her. It’s one of the things she enjoys most; building a car wash to run her Hot Wheels through or a Target or Chick-fil-a, two of the places we frequent the most. Michael was deep in the middle of cooking dinner with help from Joe and Mimi so it was the perfect opportunity to get some one-on-one time with my girl. As we sat and played, Mimi looked over to me and said, “I remember my mother playing with me. It’s one of the best memories I have of her growing up. Whether she was reading a book to me at bedtime or playing a board game with me, those are the times I remember most and cherish. You are doing such a good thing with Maddy by playing with her. She will always remember this time together.” 

It was such a sweet comment and compliment. I tried to allow myself the momentary feel good, the positive. As moms, I think we have a wonderful way of poo-pooing compliments anyone may extend to us about our parenting. We are gold medal winners at finding exceptions, excuses and rebuttals as to why we don’t deserve compliments or positive commentary on our abilities, but the more the comment marinated in my mind, the more I began to feel uncomfortable and fretful. The more the word, “remember” turned over and over again in my mind, the more I couldn’t help but feel worried.

05 July 2016

Baby, You're a F I R E C R A C K E R !

We had a great July 4th holiday: lots of food, drinks, live music, fun and time with friends and family. You know, all the good stuff that happiness brings.

Friday evening, Michael and I attended the Billy Joel concert at PNC Park and it was nothing short of amazing. Well, allow me to clarify. As it turned out, Kenney Chesney was in town for a concert on Saturday night so at the end of the concert, Billy invited Kenney on stage to sing one of his classics and let me just put it this way – Kenney should stick to country. He completely butchered Billy’s song. At any rate, it was a great concert and as always, Billy Joel rocked it.

04 July 2016

J U N E 2016: My Month in Numbers

Happy July 4th! I’ve never done a “My Month in Numbers” post but I read a lot of them and enjoy them so I thought I’d give it a shot and see how this goes. It’s also fun to look back at your month in numbers to see everything you’ve accomplished and the goals you’ve reached, so here is the mixed bag of randomness that was June 2016.

My Month in Numbers. #parenting #blogs #June

The number of pounds lost in June. My weight loss journey has stalled. It’s so hard to lose weight in the summer months! I attribute June to my birthday and indulging a little more than I should. Michael also planned an amazing Moe’s Southwestern buffet for my 40th birthday bash which meant that I *had* to eat on it for days after. I’m definitely not on track but I’m not going to beat myself up about it either. Life is short, eat all the tacos.

01 July 2016

Hello F R I D A Y!

ONE. Goodbye, Coach. There are no words to describe how sad I was to hear about Pat Summitt’s passing this week. I think in this day and age where sports stars are concerned, the word “legend” gets thrown around carelessly but in Coach Summitt’s case? She was a true legend. The winningest coach in Division 1 basketball men AND women, 100% graduation rate and 1,098 career wins. In Tennessee, she is often known as, “The Wizard of Knoxville” and it’s true. For as much as Knoxville is a football town, people tended to stand a little straighter when she walked by, always recognizing and respecting the presence they were in but aside from all the sports stats and accomplishments, she was just a good person, period. She demanded a lot from her players but expected more from them in their personal lives and as people. She will be missed so much. Thank you, Pat. We love you, Coach.

30 June 2016

3 Unique Ways to Keep the Spirit of Christmas All Year

Every year when the Christmas holiday comes to a close, I always get a little sad and borderline depressed taking down my decorations and packing away the spirit of the season. There is something about the nostalgia and ambiance of Christmas that makes me extremely happy. I really hate to see it go. 

This past Christmas while I was starting to take decorations down around our home, I was telling this to Michael over dinner and he very simply looked at me and said, “Then don’t take it down. Why would you want to take away your happiness?”

Valid question.

I had never thought about it this way before. I’ve always taken our tree and decorations down at the end of the holiday season because “That’s what you’re supposed to do,” like we are programmed robots or small children still following the rules of life set by mom and dad.

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I really, really hate following silly rules and guidelines set by society. I mean, really. Who makes up these ridiculous “rules” anyway? Things like, “Don’t wear white after labor day” and that kind of bullshit. Whatever happened to as long as I’m not hurting you or infringing on your basic human rights, how about we all live and let live?

So friends, that’s what we’ve been doing. Since December, we’ve been celebrating the Christmas spirit throughout the year. The tree stayed up (it’s fake) and we’re going to enjoy all the happy feelings all year long. I’m also going to use this as an opportunity to grow on some other goals, like philanthropy and community service, that I had set for myself and Maddy this year. These three tips on how to keep the spirit of Christmas all year are things you can easily incorporate into your everyday life to bring out all the happy.

3 Unique Ways to Keep The Spirit of Christmas All Year. #parenting #ChristmasIdeas #Philanthropy

29 June 2016

Letters to Madeline: These Are The Things I Wish For You

Letters to Madeline: These Are The Things I Wish For You. #parenting #parentingadvice #girlmom #daughters

My Dearest Madeline,

I could start by telling you how proud I am of the little girl you’re becoming or how every day, I marvel in all the amazing ways you’re growing up and becoming your own person: headstrong, confident, independent and brilliantly funny. The changes I see in you, some big and some small, are coming fast and fleeting right before my eyes. One minute, I remember you as the small and dependent baby you literally were just a few years ago and the next minute, you’re pulling me back into reality with the eight words that have become your life’s mode of operation lately: “Mommy! I can do it all by myself!!!”

I could go on by telling you how the lessons your grandma and poppy and your great-grandmother and great-grandfather taught me shaped my views on life – the kind that mold and create you and have a way of changing your life forever. Each one of them had their own hopes and wishes of what my life would be and become. All of them also said a lot but if they hadn’t said anything at all, that would have been okay too. Each of them have lived their lives by example with their actions showing far more than any words could ever describe, and even though there have been times when we haven’t agreed or even been upset with each other, there has never been a time that I didn’t feel loved, supported or feared that I would ever lose their love. I knew with all of my being that whatever missteps I took in this life, each of them would stand beside me to love and support me along the way. I knew this, and you should too.

Maddy, it’s a crazy mixed bag of emotions when you become a parent and none of it you will ever understand as my child until you have a child of your own. That’s cliché as hell to throw on you but it’s honestly the truth. I could go on and on about lessons, life and how I hope it will affect you all but really, there would never be an end to this letter. Instead, allow me to share a few of my hopes and wishes for you, my dear.

27 June 2016

Madeline Monday

Madeline Monday. #parenting #girlmom #summer


Your annual permission slip to be lazy.
The days get longer,
Let your mind start to wander.
Do nothing and let it count for something,
Beach hair, don’t care,
Strappy sundresses,
Flippity flops,
Laying in the grass studying the clouds.

24 June 2016

To The Cowards Behind GOMI...

To The Cowards Behind GOMI. #GOMI #Blogs #Bloggers #BloggingAdvice

Last week, the husband of one of my favorite blogs, The Freckled Fox, passed away. His name was Martin. He leaves behind his wife Emily and their five small children. I’ve never met or talked with Emily. I only know of her through her blog but that’s the blogging community – when you find blogs you enjoy reading or are actually lucky enough to have friendships sprout from blogging, you begin to develop relationships and a sense of “family” with these people, even if you’ve never met them. It’s a very unique type of association. When you read a blog that you really enjoy and connect with, you find yourself thinking, “If I were to meet this person in real life, we would SO get along.” For me, it’s one of the fulfilling benefits of blogging.

Upon reading Emily’s announcement that Martin had passed, I immediately felt an immense amount of sadness for her and her children. As I thought about how this life-changing event will affect her and their family for years to come, I immediately grew angry; angry at cancer. Angry that good people continue to suffer and leave us but mostly…

I was angry at the cowards behind GOMI.

23 June 2016

Three Thoughts on Thursday

Three Thoughts on Thursday. #parenting #blogs #motherhood

ONE. Snapchat. I know it’s all the craze but y’all…I just can’t get into it.  I think what turns me off are all the filters and the crazy shit people do to their faces and what not. More so, I just don’t get it as in, what’s really the point? It reminds me of foursquare – useless. I know, I know. Lots of people love it and truly, to each their own but for me, I’m good. I already have a hard enough time keeping up with IG, Facebook, LinkedIn blah, blah, blah. Maybe it gets to a point where we’re a little too social as a society?

TWO. While we’re on the subject of social media and Facebook… I try so hard to keep my personal Facebook space light, uplifting and fun but lately? Lately it's been damn hard with everything going on in the world. Case in point: On Tuesday, Michael got strip searched at LaGuardia because of his lipomas (benign fatty lumps inside his body) yet, we can't get reasonable gun control legislation passed. Congress has no problem establishing the TSA; a completely ineffective, intrusive government agency that costs tax payers billions annually but heaven forbid they actually approve legislation to help save lives daily. This madness has to stop. To quote Michael, “America, you should now feel safe because my fat deposits have been thoroughly examined and cleared by TSA.” {Insert all the eye rolls}

THREE. On a more positive note to round this out today, I was perusing Jane.com last night and found the most adorable mid pleated dress. When I checked out the seller’s website and saw that they usually sell it for $60 but I could get it on Jane for $20, I was sold. This dress is so simple but so perfect; I can wear it to work or dress it up for special occasions or a date night. I debated between the mint and pink color but in the end, chose pink. I don’t usually purchase clothing online because my body is weird and I have to try things on but for this, I made an exception. I’m super excited to get it.

 What’s on your mind today?