Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Weekend in the Cities: Sleep-over at Grandma's; Aquarium; First Movie

Andi and I decided to stay in the Twin Cities this past weekend - gasp! - for one of the few times we do that a year. There isn't much to do at the lake cabin on spring weekends when temperatures aren't particularly warm (it was somewhere in the mid-40's last Saturday and Sunday), so we decided to stay home and occupy ourselves with things to do in town. And, in an effort to keep us from uttering the words "we should've gone to the cabin..." at any given point, I filled our weekend plum-full with activities.

Andi was suppose to be traveling for work this past week/weekend, so I'd arranged for Tory to spend Friday night at Grandma Janie's house. Janie offers to have Tory over for a sleep-over all the time but with preschool, swimming class and weekends at the cabin, it's difficult to find a night that works for everyone. Tory was excited to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house and raced out the door without a second glance. I tried not to take it too personally!

They took her to a Friday night fish fry at a local church, and she enjoyed being the center of attention. Meanwhile, Aden stayed home with Andi and I and I've never seen him so animated! Aden hopped around the living room on his knees, dancing and screeching with glee. I thought he'd be lost without Tory by his side, but he reveled in his newfound only child-ness. After he went to bed, Andi grilled crab legs for dinner and we enjoyed a quiet night at home together.

Andi, Aden and I headed out early Saturday morning for coffee and pastries at Rustica. Once again, Aden loved all the undivided attention he received from Andi and I, as well as the other cafe patrons. He smiled and shouted "Bye!" to everyone he saw.

After breakfast, we took Aden to Stride Rite to buy him some new tennis shoes. He's still not walking yet, and I thought some sturdy shoes might give him more support as he learns how to get around on two feet. He looks like such a big boy in his new kicks!

We cruised by Andi's parents house around lunchtime to pick up Tory. She was happy to see us, and even more excited when she learned about our afternoon plans. We decided to take the kids to the Sea Life Aquarium at Mall of America to see the new "Meet The Rays" exhibit. I think aquariums are so neat, and knew Tory and Aden would get a big kick out of it. And, yes, we were completely nuts for going to the Mall of America on a weekend. I hadn't been there in years and even then never went on a Saturday of all days, but we braved the crowds and had a great time.

Someone handed Tory a balloon-shaped flower while we were in the mall, and she was in absolute heaven with that thing. All the money and quality time we spent together as a family that afternoon, and all she could talk about later was her flower balloon. Three-year-olds!  

The four of us went to church Sunday morning, then drove over to Andi's sister Lindsay's house in Minneapolis. Lindsay agreed to watch Aden for the afternoon while Andi and I took Tory to her very first movie at the Riverview Theatre. We saw Paddington, the only matinee movie playing that afternoon, but we didn't really care about the movie itself. It was all about the experience of going to the movie theatre and Tory was so, so excited. It was a rainy and cold Sunday afternoon; the perfect day for a movie. 

The Riverview is a renovated 1950's style theatre with one movie screen and old-style seating. At $2/per person for admission, it's the perfect place for a toddler date to the movies. The entire place was packed with parents and kids. Tory sat down in a seat between Andi and I, but the chair kept springing shut like a clamshell. She was too lightweight to keep the seat down by herself, so she ended up sitting on my lap during the movie.

Obviously, the snacks were Tory's favorite part of the entire experience. She gobbled up her kid's size popcorn, some of Andi's and I bowl of popcorn, Swedish Fish candy and Kit-Kats. At some point she looked back behind our chairs in the theatre and said, "Wow! Look at all those people. There must be a thousand chairs!" It was adorable to see how fascinated she was with her surroundings. After about an hour, Tory was getting pretty wiggly so we left before for the movie was over.   

And if that wasn't enough excitement for the day, we hosted our friends Derrick, Ellie and their daughter Sierra for dinner at our house Sunday evening. We had to take advantage of the rare weekend opportunity to meet up with our old friends while we were in the Cities over a weekend.

Phew! Ever feel like you need another weekend to recoup from your busy weekend? The cold I've had for the last 10 days kicked up again this week, likely because we were constantly on the go all day Saturday and Sunday. Staying home for the weekend was fun, but it was exhausting! I'm looking forward to getting back to the cabin again soon for a calmer, more relaxing change of pace. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stitch Fix #5

I received my fifth Stitch Fix shipment last week, and it was the first time I wasn't WOW'd by everything I received. I still love this service a bunch, but I was disappointed this around. Bummer!

I've requested only clothing (no accessories) in my shipments, and this time I specifically asked for no pants (even though I love every pair of pants Stitch Fix has sent me; I just have quite a few pairs of pants now) and also for a layering jacket, cardigan or vest of some sort to help transition from cooler to warmer weather months.

Here's what I received:

Dear John Marson Wide Leg Demin Trouser

My first thought when I pulled these jeans from the box was hmm, I requested no pants this time, but I decided to give my stylist the benefit of the doubt. I mean, seriously, how does Stitch Fix find so many great pairs of pants for my body type? Maybe she saw this pair of pants and knew I had to have them...

These pants were a good fit in the waist, but the length was slightly too long on me. They probably would've been fine with a heel, but I know I'll honestly never wear a heeled shoe. My Stitch Fix goal is to find new clothing pieces that amp up my style and push me out of my comfort zone a bit, but I also have to be realistic about my everyday life which (for me, at least) does not include heeled shoes of any kind. I suppose I could have had the pants professionally altered, but I didn't love them enough to make the effort. And finally, I'm more of a skinny-jean gal, so ... I sent it back.

Gilli Sina V-Neck Printed Maxi Dress

Goodness, this dress is beautiful. The soft, silky fabric is comfortable and flows perfectly from head to toe. I love the pattern, and I'm already thinking about ways to dress it up for a date night, or layer a jean jacket over the top as the weather turns warmer. Keep.  

THML Colinda Sheer V-Neck Sweater

This light-weight sweater doesn't look like much at first, but I love the understated sheer v-neck detail and how it can be worn so many different ways. I tried this sweater on with a pair of colored skinny jeans, a black and white patterned skirt from my last Fix, and paired it under a gray cardigan and they all looked great. Super versatile and sophisticated. Keep.  

Sanctuary Vanessa Jacket

Here's my requested layering piece ... an off-white colored jacket. Unfortunately, this piece was a hot mess on me. It was boxy and unattractive on my frame. My stylist sent a size larger than I wear to give me room to layer underneath, but it was still too big no matter what I tried to pair with it. Andi audibly said "Ugh" when I showed him. Sent back.

In so many of my Fixes, the stylist recommends adding a jacket, cardigan or vest on top of a dress or shirt to dress up a style, or transition from cooler to warmer weather. Except, I don't really have any pieces like this in my closet, and that's what I was hoping to find.

Splendid Shelburne Knit Top

This top was super soft to the touch, but did nothing for my figure. I attempted to style it with a scarf or underneath a cardigan but it didn't seem to help tie it together. And for $88, it was one of the highest-priced items in my Fix which I thought was too much money for this particular item. Sent back.


So, have I given up on Stitch Fix completely? Absolutely not. I still really love the convenience of this service and how many great pieces of clothing I've already found thanks to my stylists. I usually schedule my Stitch Fix shipments every 60 days, but I decided to go ahead with another one next month since I only kept two items this time. I'm excited to see what my April box will bring!

Interested in trying Stitch Fix? Use my referral code: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3941702

Friday, March 27, 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Little Swimmers

I sign Tory and Aden up for swimming lessons every spring and summer in an attempt to prepare them for life at the lake cabin around open water. I'm not confident lessons will actually save them from drowning at their young ages, but at the very least I hope the instruction familiarizes them with the water and lays the groundwork for safety. Plus, they both really enjoy splashing around in a pool once a week, especially when it's still too cold for outdoor play.

Lessons started last week for both kids. Tory is now in the "Little Ones" class which means she gets to swim in the pool without me. Wahoo! My fellow swimming BFF Lindsey and I used to dream about this day for our girls -- the day we'd get to sit on the side of the pool and drink coffee together while our daughters swam in the pool without us. Unfortunately, Lindsey has since moved away to Kentucky and I had to experience this milestone day without her [insert the emoji symbol for one sad tear cascading down my cheek]. I'm fairly sure mothers of the other kids in Tory's class were giving me the side-eye as I excitedly sat on the side of the pool with Aden taking pictures of myself and texting them to Lindsey. I'm sitting on the side of the pool, and I'm wearing shoes! Wish you were here! 

In Lindsey and I's fantasies, we forgot about the part where we'd be sitting on the side of the pool entertaining our younger children for 30+ minutes. That part was a bit of a fun-killer. Actually, I took a page from Nicole and brought Aden's blue push-car toy which helped in keeping him (and gobs of other kids) occupied on the sidelines.  

Tory did amazing at her first swimming lesson without me! I was nervous how she'd react when I didn't get in the pool with her, so I prepped her ahead of time by talking about what to expect. Her swim instructor is fantastic and did a great job of earning the kids' trust by making class fun and engaging.

Aden attends swimming lessons on a different day of the week while Tory is at preschool. I still have to get in the pool with him for his Backfloat Baby class, but it's fun having something special he and I do together. And, to be clear, it's not the actual swimming class I mind so much; it's the getting in the pool / dressing a toddler while I'm dripping wet / having to shower afterwards / part that's a pain.

He (mostly) enjoyed swimming in the pool until the part of class came where the instructor held him during a back float. Aden's still going through a separation anxiety phase where he does not appreciate someone other than Mom, Dad or Grandma holding him, so he was a little less than impressed with swimming class after that. He'll become more familiar with the instructor and the routine of class though, and all will be fine eventually.

Once again, people around the pool probably think I'm crazy but one of my favorite things to do is take pictures of my kids on the first day of swimming class / last day of swimming class each session. It always amazes me how much the kids have grown over this short period of time! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Basket Goodies

Hip, hop, hooray! Easter's on the way!

Easter is one of my favorite holidays because it summons so many fond childhood memories. Beautiful floral dresses, ruffly socks and white patent leather shoes; the smell of the crisp morning air on our family's way to church; plastic Easter egg hunts in the backyard with cousins; special goodies left by the Easter bunny; and, everything is so sunny and bright with the promise of spring and warmer temperatures on the way.

We're staying in Minnesota for Easter this year for the first time ever. I'll miss my Nebraska family, but I'm also excited to create Easter traditions for our family in our own home. We'll attend an Easter service at church and host Andi's immediate family afterwards for brunch. Of course, the Easter Bunny will be paying Tory and Aden a special visit too. They'll get plenty of candy and treats from family, so I, er, the Easter Bunny stuck to bigger non-food items they need, books and a few extra trinkets when filling their Easter baskets this year. Here's what they'll receive Easter Day:

Age 3 1/2

1. Little People Easter Is Here Book: Tory is obsessed with these lift-the-flap books. I like how durable the pages and flaps hold up to repeated use. We also have the Valentine's Day one, so I'm anxious to add this book to our seasonal collection.

2. Carter's Hula Girl Hooded Towel: With baths and swimming lessons for two little kids each week, our household could use a few more kid-sized bath towels.

3. Koosh Ball: Remember these? I was standing in line at a local coffee shop last week and spotted these koosh balls on display. Oh, the memories! The kids are going to love them.

4. Reese's Pieces candy: Okay, every Easter basket needs a little candy ...

5. Foam Water Blaster (similar here): On vacation last month, one little boy had a squirt gun like this at the pool. It was so easy for the kids to fill up and use by themselves. Perfect for the lake this summer!

6. Sunglasses: Target Dollar Spot. We own a thousand pairs; obviously need one more for summertime.

7. Crayola Grow With Me Flower Pot:  Tory has shown interest lately in planting seeds and watching flowers grow. I thought this would be a fun learning project to do together.

8. Princess Notebook: Typical first-born Tory loves to make lists in notebooks.

9. Speedo Water Shoes: I buy Tory a pair of water shoes every summer. They're perfect for the lake cabin.

10. Lip Smackers: Disgustingly perfect Easter flavors, no less -- Bubble Gum, Jelly Bean and Pink Chocolate

11. Bubble Gun: The Easter Bunny brought Tory a similar bubble gun last Easter, and it was so fun and easy for her to use.


Age 1 1/2  

1. Carter's Swim Shirt and Trunks: Aden could use another swimming suit for summer, so ...

2. Munchkin Scooper Hooper Bath Toy: New bath toys are always welcome in our house. I like to rotate in new toys (and disgard old ones after they get icky).

3. Koosh Ball: Aden loves balls, and he's going to flip over this one.

4. Foam Water Blaster (similar here): Aden probably won't be able to work this toy on his own, but I figured I better keep things fair when it comes to water toys this summer.

5. Carter's Shark Hooded Towel: More bath towels!

6. Bubble Gun: Aden might be a little young for this toy, but in an effort to avoid fights this summer I bought each child one. What is it about bubbles that makes kids so crazy??

7. Bubble Bath: Need some!

8. Elmo Easter Book: Aden loves musical books, so I think he'll really enjoy this Elmo one.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Weekend Highlights

Andi, the kids and I enjoyed a quiet, relaxing weekend at the lake cabin.

Friday morning before we left, Tory's best friend Ashley came over for a play date. Ashley and her family (including my good friend and Ashley's mom, Lindsey) moved to Kentucky last fall, and it'd been six months since we last saw one another. The girls picked right up with one another as if not a moment of time had passed. Of course Lindsey and I did too, but we also have the luxury of text messages, emails and phone calls to keep us connected. It was fun seeing the kids happily together once again. 

Andi, the kids and I arrived to the lake cabin around 5:30pm Friday evening, and decided to go for a sunset Ranger ride around the lake before we met some friends for dinner. What an awesome way to set the tone for our weekend. Andi and I were immediately transformed into relaxation mode as we enjoyed the sights of nature around us. 

Later, we met some cabin neighbors for dinner at Hilltop Retreat. This place reminds me of Friday night dinners at the VFW when I was a kid. Tory and Hannah ran around the restaurant pretending to play video games and just being silly while the adults sat at a table nearby drinking cocktails and talking about the week gone by. Love that good ol' small-town feeling! 

We spent Saturday morning shopping in town while the snow tires were being removed from my SUV. (It's likely 100% my fault it snowed in the Twin Cities on Sunday. Boo.) Of course, no Saturday morning trip into town is complete without a stop by the co-op for chocolate cream-filled croissants. I dream about these bad boys on the regular. A minute on the lips, I lifetime on the .... oh, who cares! These croissants are too delicious not to devour in an instant. Tory was stealing bites as fast as I could eat them, so I didn't eat the whole thing anyway... 

You can tell by my red, watery eyes in this picture I'm battling a nasty cold this week. Fun times! Ugh.

Anyway, while we were shopping at the grocery store Andi noticed whole chickens were on sale and decided to invite all of our cabin neighbors over to our place Saturday night for a big rotisserie dinner. He spent most of the afternoon preparing the meat and sides for our big feast. In all, 17 people joined us for dinner that evening!

I made my Aunt Cheri's famous Corny Macaroni casserole, and made a mental-note to share the recipe on my blog sometime soon. Easter is the perfect time to have it again.

Joe and Lisa brought a green Poke-N-Pour cake and sherbet for dessert.

There's not much to do at the cabin this time of year thanks to the cold, wet springtime weather so having friends over for dinner and drinks seems like the perfect way to spend an evening. It's the start of many more get togethers as we inch closer to summer.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Letters to Aden: 16 Months

Happy 16 months, Aden Bear!

Life with you is lots of fun these days as your personality continues to bloom. I love how I'm still learning about your likes and dislikes (almost) one-and-a-half years into being your mom. It's really the best thing about being a parent; nothing stays the same for long as you're always growing and changing.

You're almost always a happy, easy-going baby but you've also started to exhibit classic tantrum-like behaviors when something doesn't go your way. Welcome to Toddlerville! Try stopping you from digging in a drawer you're not suppose to, or from turning all the dials on the stereo and you are one MAD little boy. Luckily, you're at an age where distraction comes easily with toys, your favorite blanket or a pacifier.

Some of my favorite things about you this month are the way you pretend to talk on the telephone with anything and everything. Plastic toys, remote controls and even French fries are all fair game. "Ah-lo!" (hello) you'll say with a green bean held to your ear.

You'll also stop what you're doing, flash an insta-smile and shout "Cheeese!" at the very sight of my cell phone or the digital camera. You love to have your picture taken which is perfect since I can't stop taking photos of my handsome little boy. Somewhat randomly, you've started chanting "eight, nine, ten" and jibber-jabber the tune of the ABC's. I have yet to record it because the sight of the camera distracts you completely and all I catch on video is "Cheeese!"

Songs are really the key to your heart. You've always liked when I sing to you, but now I notice you humming with me to "Itsy, Bitsy Spider" and dancing along to music on Tory's toy jukebox. You also love reading books, and will bring your favorite reads over to me while chanting, "Unh! Unh!" (which is clearly speak for "Will you read this to me?")

You do have a super-short attention span, so the second I start reading a book to you you're already on to the next one. I guess you could say we fly through reading 20+ books in no time flat.

No "official" new words this month, but you are starting to say more things like "Ow" when the temperature of food is too hot, and "Oh!" with delight when I add more fruit to your plate. You like to help turn light switches ON and OFF and have started to say "Off," though I'm not sure it would be recognizable to someone other than me just yet. You say "ma" for "more" and also for "milk," not to be confused for Mama which is more like "ma ma ma ma." See? No new words officially, but I can definitely see verbal advancements.

You're still a really good eater and have added grapes, strawberries and spaghetti to your list of favorite foods. You also like foods in more whole form (not cut-up into tiny pieces) and happily gnaw on a big piece of chicken or a slice of toast. Notably this month, you do not like blueberries or ground beef (like in Sloppy Joe's or enchiladas).

Lots of poor sleep this month, likely due to new teeth popping through your gums. You're up to something like 14 teeth now, and are currently working on your top canines.

And finally, the big kahuna -- walking! -- with sadly no news to report yet. At the beginning of the month, you started to take one or two steps alone, but then regressed while you were teething / not sleeping well. For most of the month, you weren't even interested in trying to take steps on your own. You are able to cruise furniture like nobody's business and mostly still "walk" on your knees to get from Point A to Point B which is really the silliest sight to see. Someday soon you'll start walking on your feet ... I hope! I have a closet full of adorable shoes for you to wear as soon as you need them.

That's all for now. Love you to the moon and back, little boy!


Friday, March 20, 2015

11/52 (A Weekly Photo Series)

Tory's in this sweet spot lately where she's so helpful and cooperative. Just a minute ago, I walked into my bedroom and opened my mouth to tell her to pick up the magnetic dress-up dolls strewn across my bed only to see Tory had done it already. "Did you pick all those up?" I asked her, as she bobbed her head yes in agreement. "I, uh, thank you Sweetie!" It's moments like this that stop me in my tracks because this girl of ours is smart and funny, compassionate and responsible ... well, as responsible as a three-and-a-half year old can be. She amazes me!

One thing Tory requests to do quite often is wash dishes. Sure, she makes a bit of a water mess in the kitchen and I end up tossing all her "clean" dishes in the dishwasher anyway ... but I fill up the sink without question because she's offering to help me with a chore and I want to respect and reward that behavior.

Someday washing dishes won't be such a novelty, but until then ... have at it, Kid!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Girl's Weekend 2015

Andi's traveling for work quite a bit during the month of March, so a few weeks ago I asked if my girlfriends Val and Ashley were available for a last-minute girl's weekend. Surprisingly the stars aligned and with a little wiggling of schedules, we all met up in Des Moines, Iowa this past weekend. Des Moines isn't the world's hottest vacation spot, but it's the half-way point between Minneapolis and Omaha, where the three of us reside. We're fortunate to have a special friendship between us; Ashley and I are childhood best friends from the same hometown, and Ashley and Val met while going to graduate school in Nebraska. When Val moved to Minneapolis several years ago, Ashley introduced the two of us and we've all been good friends ever since.

This was our third girl's trip to Des Moines, and quite a bit has changed in those few short years! The first time we met up was in 2011 when Val was the mother of one little boy (Kasen) and I was pregnant with Tory. Inclement weather prevented us from getting together in the spring of 2012, and in 2013 we met again with a toddler Tory, baby Linden (Val's second child), and baby Easton (Ashley's son) in tow. Val gave birth to Lucy (her 3rd child) last spring, so we skipped meeting in the spring of 2014. This year (2015), we brought four (of our six) kids with us  -- Lucy (11 months), Tory (age 3), Aden (15 months), Easton (age 2) and Ashley is pregnant with a baby girl due this May. Phew! This time, Val left her big kids Kasen and Linden home with her husband to dial down a bit of the craziness, but it was still a lot of little people in one hotel room.

Our girl time over the weekend was just about as relaxing as it sounds (which is to say it was total chaos), but it was still so much fun and completely worth it. The three of us aren't together but a couple times a year, so it's always wonderful to see one other any chance we get.

Val and I left Minneapolis early Saturday morning (with Tory, Aden and Lucy). The drive to Iowa went fairly smoothly, only having to stop a few times for bathroom breaks -- mostly for Aden who had two pooplosions during the drive. One of them was particularly terrible and forced me to wash out his pants in the toilet of a Country Kitchen restaurant. Parenting badge unlocked! I can't said I've been subjected to that particular experience before. Though, if there's anyone in the world I'd chose to road trip with it's my friend Valerie because she's so understanding when it comes to kids. Between the two of us, we're able to tolerate a fair amount of crying and kid wrangling while still managing to hold a meaningful and quite enjoyable conversation with one another. 

Upon arrival in Des Moines, we met Ashley and Easton at Bravo! for lunch. We were all famished, so lunch went fairly smoothly with so many little kiddos. It's hard for the kids to misbehave when they're busy shoveling their faces full of food. Aden is really into whole food lately -- not cut up into bite-size pieces -- and he devoured several chicken strips on his own during lunch. He looked so funny gnawing on a giant piece of chicken. 

It was a gorgeous spring day, so we decided to take the kids to the Blank Park Zoo for the afternoon. This zoo is one of my favorites because it's small-sized and managable with kids, and the animals are close-up making it easy for even the littlest tike to see. There weren't many people at the zoo on this day despite the nice temperatures and sunshine, so we practically had the place to ourselves. We looped the zoo once and then came back to the playground equipment so Tory and Easton could burn off some energy.

After the zoo, we checked into our hotel and settled in for the night. Just like our girl's trip last time, we ordered pizza to our room for dinner and took the kids swimming in the hotel pool while we waited for our food to arrive. Ultimately, the three of us girls just wanted to hang out and talk so there's really no need to leave the hotel property. It's easier with the kids that way, too. We let Tory, Aden, Easton and Lucy scale the walls of our hotel room around for a bit, then we put them in their respective beds and pack-n-plays for the night so the adults could enjoy the rest of the evening together. Of course, just as Val, Ashley and I were ready to turn in to bed ourselves, one baby woke up and started crying which created a chain reaction amongst all of them. We got Easton, Tory and Aden back to sleep, but poor Val was up half the night with an upset Baby Lucy who didn't want to go to back to sleep in her unfamiliar surroundings. 

Our trip ending all-too-quickly after breakfast at the hotel restaurant Sunday morning. We said our good-byes and departed back to our respective cities. Fortunately, the kids were so exhausted from the night before they all slept the entire drive home.

Even with less-than-stellar sleep, our 24-hour trip was totally worth it. I love spending time with Val and Ashley no matter the circumstances. We're still dreaming about a girl's weekend without the kids one day when no one's pregnant or nursing a baby. It'll happen! It just might be a few years....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

St. Patrick's Day 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Remember when forgetting to wear green meant you'd get a big ol' pinch? I sure do. I was terrified of that consequence when I was a kid, so I always remembered to wear green on St. Patrick's Day ... even if there isn't an ounce of Irish heritage in my blood.

Plus, I love an excuse to celebrate any holiday - big or small. Tory and I cobbled together some festive outfits to keep those random pinchers at bay. She doesn't own a lick of green clothing in her closet so thankfully Tory's not afraid to mix and match. She chose a navy blue dress with a (teal) t-shirt underneath and pink leggings. Teal is a close cousin of green, right? A plastic rainbow necklace finished her outfit.

Meals are an easy way to bring some festive cheer to any holiday. For breakfast, I made Tory and Aden shamrock-shaped pancakes with green sprinkles using a heart-shaped cookie cutter and a little imagination. Tory's a big fan of any food cut into the shape of something else, so she was excited. My jolly holiday spirit pretended not to hear her when she said "...but what I really wanted was flower (-shaped frozen) waffles," which is the same thing she eats for breakfast at least three times a week. Just humor me and eat these fun, festive shamrock pancakes I woke up 30 minutes early to make you from scratch, okay kid? Heh. This is real life.

After pre-school, Tory and I stopped by the grocery store to pick up ingredients for Irish Pot Pie and Lucky Charms Rice Krispie treats. Then, we spent the rest of the afternoon cooking and baking in the kitchen which is something we both really enjoy doing together. Tory's a big help rinsing vegetables, measuring ingredients and washing dishes, and teaching her how to cook and appreciate food is something that's so important to me. I'm still learning my way around the kitchen, so if cooking is a skill I can pass down to my children and spend quality time with them while we do it ... big WIN in my book. Aden decided to pull a St. Patrick's Day nap-strike so he was right there with us in the kitchen, though at 15 months old he was about as much help as you'd imagine.

This Irish Beef Stew / Pot Pie was really, really (really!) delicious. Good for St. Patrick's Day but really, perfect for any family dinner. I'm salivating over the idea of eating the leftovers for lunch today, and that's saying something -- I usually hate leftovers. This was a bit of a high-maintenance recipe to make; maybe suited better for a weekend vs. a random Tuesday because the beef stew required time to simmer on the stove-top before transforming into a pot pie that baked in the oven. Definitely worth the time and effort to make though. Yum!

Also quite tasty were these Lucky Charms Rice Krispie treats for dessert. I knew my sweets-loving husband would appreciate them!

In past years Andi's mom has invited our family over for a traditional St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage dinner, so I decided to return the favor this year and invite Janie and Jim over to our house for Irish Pot Pie. They stopped by after work and we all celebrated St. Patrick's Day together.

The perfect ending to a great holiday.