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An Open Letter to Dinnertime

An Open Letter to Dinnertime

snapped tonight, post dinner, and yes, that is what my manicure currently looks like. 

Dear Dinnertime,

Don't take this the wrong way, but I legitimately loathe you. 

I get it, trust me, I do - Family Dinner is important for the stability of my family unit, instils confidence in my offspring and shows off my domestic prowess and all that, but honestly, I just can't with you any more. So tonight, while my family was slowly but surely refusing to eat every bite of the meal I lovingly slaved over, I came up with a list of why you suck so hard. So, without further ado, here are the top 4 reasons Dinnertime can go eff itself: 

1. The Time. 
How is it that Dinner shows up at the worst part of our day, every day? Right smack in the middle of the newborn's Witching Hour and my pre-schooler's nightly meltdown over his socks being too tight, Dinner presents itself in the form of an empty fridge and a hungry family. And just for the record, even if the fridge wasn't empty, there would still be "nothing to eat". I nightly praise the Gods Of All Things Processed for microwavable mac + cheese cups and yogurt in a tube. 

2. The Forethought. 
Somehow, while wearing a screaming baby and finding the Everest episode of Paw Patrol on the DVR, I'm supposed to scheme up, organize and prep a beautiful meal, all while fighting the urge to lie down and mainline boxed wine. Oh, wait. Was I supposed to have taken my two wild beasts to the actual grocery store with a list and a prayer in order to pull this whole Dinner thing off? Yeah, thanks but no thanks. 

3. The Process. 
Let me be clear here, it's not just the actual meal prep that fuels my hate fire. It's the process of dragging everyone to the table, ideally with pants on, requesting that everyone use their napkin and that no one wipe their boogers on anyone else that really wears me down. I mean, how many times can one woman say "we don't put our feet on the table!" before losing her mind? Hint: the answer is infinity. 

4. The Aftermath. 
And then. Then, after all of that effort and Pinteresting, Dinner is over in two minutes flat, barely consumed and discarded for yours truly to clean up. So many dishes, so little cares to give. The only silver lining to the endless cycle that is kitchen clean up is everyone manages to vanish the second the dishes hit the sink... which means mama can scrape plates in peace. And honestly, with all of the dishwasher steam and scented dish soap bubbles, I can close my eyes and almost feel the spa vibes. Almost. 

It's no wonder my three year old can give accurate directions to Dominos. 


The Mom Who Just Made Scrambled Eggs For Dinner

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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
33 Things

33 Things

I turned thirty three years old on Saturday so I thought I would celebrate by spilling thirty three things about me that you probably don't know!

1. My toenails are always painted red. Always.

2. I have a degree in Corporate Communications from Elon University

3. Santorini is my absolute fave global destination

4. But the most beautiful landscape I've ever laid eyes on was on the train from London to Edinburgh

5. Justin and I just started watching Game Of Thrones and it honest to God stresses me out so much that I have to watch an episode of Big Bang Theory after so I can fall asleep at night. And drink wine while we're watching it. 

6. I am jealous of my son's eye color - it's just the most stunning shade of blue

7. I am horrible at math

8. and finances

9. My first job out of college was fundraising and event planning for a non-profit that worked with sexually abused children

10. I can still remember the face of the first child I ever met while working there

11. I didn't try avocado (including guacamole) until I was in my twenties. Avocado toast is currently one of my fave foods.

12. I have seven email accounts on my phone

13. I am an introvert and only really recharge when I'm alone

14. But I can be really outgoing so most people are surprised to know that

15. I love public speaking

16. But hate playing team spots because I'm always afraid I'll let everyone down

17. My kids always have clean underwear....I have been known to purchase myself clean underwear on our grocery runs to Target.

18. I have a tattoo on my lower back

19. it has no meaning and I forget that it's there

20. I've seen every single episode of Big Bang Theory and can quote most of them - I would say all of them but I don't want to sound cocky! 

21. Quality time is my love language

22. Everyone is a little surprised at how well I've handled the transition to two children but I'm the most surprised of all

23. I knew I would marry Justin the first time I met him

24. All of our moves have honestly been positive experiences and we are still open to moving again - both in Greenville and outside of it

25. I wish they would have let me take out more walls in our current house but I was outvoted 2 to 1 by Justin and our contractor

26. I met my best friend online and my husband through mutual friends, which feels sort of flip flopped to me! 

27. I haaaate the process of getting ready, which means I get ready super fast 

28. I drink hot coffee in the summer

29. and red wine no matter what the entree is 

30. I could eat an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting, as long as it was a freshly opened bag

31. I am a little ashamed but mostly thrilled to admit that I haven't worn heels for more than an hour since we moved to Maine (so, three plus years)

32. I changed both of my children's names from our chosen boy and girl names when I found out each of their genders. They both still have family names but they are very different names than we originally picked for them.

33. I spent my thirty third birthday with both of my babies asleep in their beds, a really great bottle of red wine poured into my non-plastic glass, eating left over Oreo cake in my pajamas and eye gels, with my husband, on our sofa watching Game Of Thrones, and I have never felt so grateful. 
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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
Camp Grandma with Mouse + Magpie

Camp Grandma with Mouse + Magpie

This post is in partnership with Mouse + Magpie and The Motherhood.

You guys.

My baby boy has been away at Camp Grandma for 5 whole days. 

I was so looking forward to one on one time with the baby, getting so many things checked off of my to do list and maybe even sneaking in a date night with my husband that I really didn't prep myself for how much I would miss my wild animal - and I miss him like crazy. Literally, it brings tears to my eyes when I walk by his room at night and his door is open and his bed is empty. Hormones, much?

Thankfully, I know he is having the time of his life at my parent's house in Virginia. My mom sends me pictures of all of their adventures and the kid is undoubtably going to come home spoiled rotten. They've gone to every slide within a thirty mile radius, had bacon for breakfast every day and I'm fairly certain they've visited children's museums in two different cities. He hasn't asked for us once and I'm a teensy bit concerned that he is going to be displeased when he realizes that he has to come home.

Knowing how happy he is, I've tried to really take the opportunity to get some things done around here that are tough to accomplish with a toddler under foot (so, everything). And to welcome him home, I thought it was high time I got his room together, complete with a few surprises for my big boy.

So, Gray's room is the prefect example of what happens when you move at 35 weeks pregnant and then deliver a baby just two weeks later. While all of the furniture was in place, everything else was kinda just tossed into his room and that was that. To add insult to injury, the closet system in his room collapsed on move in weekend and we just didn't have the time or energy to have it repaired until a few weeks ago. Without a closet for storage, I gave up on that room completely and let it, um, do it's own thing for a while. 

Wanna see?

Uh, yeah, it was definitely time to get that room together.

I did't want to totally rock his world and make major changes, but I did want to add in a few new things as little surprises for him. His interests change on the daily but he's currently into sharks, boats, dinos and numbers so I did my best to work all of that boy crazy into hit little room. I found the cutest pirate and sea creature themed decor from Mouse + Magpie and thought the pops of red went perfectly with the decor we were already working with. After that, I pulled out some of his favorite toys, boots and lovies and got to work! 

How cute is that octopus pirate pillow? It belongs to the Mouse + Magpie Pirate Fox and His Crew collection designed by Alexandra Ball. For those who haven't met them yet, Mouse + Magpie is a child inspired, adult curated collection of delightfully designed products and furnishings created specifically for little people with big imaginations. By collaborating with artists from all over the world, Mouse + Magpie is able to provide one of a kind pieces that you an shop either as a collection or individually. The collections totally got me because once I spotted the pillow, I immediately snagged the coordinating sherpa blanket (which is insanely soft) and a matching lamp for his dresser. The collection also includes a clock (which I may regret not getting for him!) and framed art. Go check them out here and on their Instagram page (and girl mamas, while you're there, be sure to check out the space my friend @snapshotsandmythoughts created using the Mouse + Magpie Summer Treehouse collection!)

Mouse + Magpie is also offering my readers 25% off of your purchase, through August 5th, when you use the code WHIMSY so go shop! 

I'm loving the sweet little additions to his room and know he will, too! It feels so good to finally whip his room into shape - just in time to start scheming for his big boy room!

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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
Postpartum, The Second Time

Postpartum, The Second Time

After I had my first baby, I wrote often about my postpartum journey. I documented my body issues, the good stuff, the bad stuff and laid it all out there in the hopes that anyone feeling like I did would be able to relate to my experiences. Since then, I've really cut back on the super personal motherhood content on my blog but I think sharing my second postpartum journey is worth shaking things up a bit.

Without a doubt, my second post baby experience has been wildly different from my first and it's oh, so clear to me that the difference is a direct result of how I view myself and nothing at all to do with my babies.

When I had Gray, I lost myself. 

I had only one priority: keep him alive. 

I unintentionally neglected everything that made me happy and fulfilled, thinking I was doing the best for my son. I wanted to do it all "right" for his sake, to make sure that I was giving him every single thing that I thought he deserved from his mother and in doing that, I gradually left nothing for myself. Looking back, I was as happy and as grateful as I could have been and his newborn days are very precious to me but it took many, many months (and writing this blog) for me to reclaim myself as a person. 

This time, I wasn't having it.

When Georgia came into this world, I made a point, for the first time in my entire life, to extend myself some grace. Grace and crap ton of patience. She is loved, protected and nurtured and all of that is possible even though I make it a priority to take a shower and check my emails in the morning. 

My body is, of course, different than it was 12 months ago but instead of lamenting it or focusing on the new bumps and lumps, I ran out a few days after giving birth to snag a few items that fit the body I was currently rocking. I still wear my side panel maternity shorts all of the time (they are so damn comfy) and haven't bothered with anything but granny panties in 8 weeks, but it's all good. I have no expectations for myself this time and I honestly feel better about my body than I have in years. 

I've decided to only focus on what I think is best for my family and have tried my very hardest to shut out the pressure of what I think motherhood should look like. If carving out some alone time is what is best for me then that is what I need to do, even if that goes against what I once imagined motherhood to look like. 

And, as it turns out, allowing myself the room to fail, flounder, be a hot mess, shower, drink wine, make frozen pizza for dinner, grant unlimited screen time, throw away the blow out onesies, be one thousand weeks late on thank you notes, sometimes cry when the baby cries, curl my hair, forget to brush my teeth, never pull out my big girl camera and ask for help has given me an experience I didn't have the first time: to truly fall in love with my daughter during all of the craziness of her newborn days. 

I'm dead tired, never on time and am constantly negotiating with a three year old while holding a fussy baby but I am ultimately so thankful that this round of newborn weeks has been so different than my last. 

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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
A Big Brother Update and Smoothie Popsicles

A Big Brother Update and Smoothie Popsicles

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

This post was written in partnership with Microban. All tips, tricks, recipes and awesome parenting anecdotes are 100% mine

Without a doubt, the number one questions I'm asked these days is 
"How is Gray handling all of this??"

My big boy. He certainly has seen a lot of change in his little life over the past few months. We moved him into an apartment and then into the new house, had a baby, Daddy was home all of the time for a few weeks and then suddenly Daddy went back to work (we all felt the sting of that one). To top it off, he has a little sister who is, to put it nicely, a tad on the fussy side. I would be lying if I said I didn't lay awake and worry that I didn't spend enough one on one time with him that day - or if he's feeling left out or, basically, if he hates us for bringing this pink, screaming little lady into his life. 

 I was recently introduced to the Microban Live On campaign, which is all about worrying a little less and living a lot more, and was inspired to really re-evaluate how Gray and I were spending our time together. And thanks to years of dealing with over thinking things, I know that worrying won't actually change how either of us feels so I decided it was time to get creative and carve out chunks of our day for just the two of us.

Yesterday, we hit the trampoline park - and while baby sister was asleep in her stroller a few feet away, it was just Mommy and Gray time in the foam pit. I dove in, tossed a few foam blocks directly at my preschooler's head (what? don't judge, it was awesome) and secretly showed him how to double bounce when the park monitors weren't looking. Earlier this week, things were a little more aggressive in acid reflux land and we needed an activity we could do at home, so I came up with a little something I like to call Smoothie Popsicle. 

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Gray loves to help me in the kitchen and I love to feel like a good mom who gives her kids fruits and veggies so smoothies are always a hit for us, but I honestly had never considered tossing them into a Popsicle mold and freezing them for later. Gray and I decided to give it a whirl and what do you know, this mama might just be Pinterest worthy after all.

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Because I had a helper who is known to wipe his boogers on things, I'm grateful we had our Neoflam cutting boards infused with Microban on hand to reduce the risk of all us catching whatever our little preschooler might be carrying around with him. Microban helps fight the growth of stain and odor- causing bacteria and helps keep our cutting boards cleaner for longer - and it's built in during manufacturing so it isn't going anywhere. As a bonus, the boards have the cutest little pictures on the edges and on each side to remind you what food item to cut per board - no mixing a board that is meant for produce with one that is meant for meats. 

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

We pulled out our Microban cutting board with the blue edge for fruits and got to work making our smoothie Popsicles. Gray is crazy into colors right now and he requested that we make a red smoothie on our blue cutting board. OK, kid, you got it.

Here's what we tossed in our blender 
(yields: one smoothie to drink ASAP and three Popsicle)

 1/2 cup Raspberries
1 cup Strawberries
1/2 cup Naked Green Juice
1/4 cup Naked Orange Juice
1 tablespoon Blueberry yogurt 

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

I did the cutting and Gray did all of the loading into the blender business. Of course, he had no desire to wait for Popsicles to actually freeze so we had a smoothie on the spot and then poured what was left into the Popsicle molds.

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

 Honestly, that really worked in my favor because he was into the smoothie and didn't stress about the Popsicles taking their time in the freezer. The next day, I reminded him that we had smoothie Popsicles and he was thrilled to make a mess with one all over my kitchen. 

Strawberry Smoothie Popsicles

 We're all adjusting to being a family of four but I know, without a doubt, that our sweet boy is rising to the challenge of being an excellent big brother. He is caring and patient with her (and only occasionally covers his ears when she cries) and we couldn't be more proud of him.
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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
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