Sunday, July 26, 2015

Four: The Age of Reasoning

If seven is the age of reason, four is the age of reasoning.  Meaning you can finally reason with a four year old and they can act reasonably reasonable.  Wow, reason is a weird word.  OK, so four is my favorite age, and when Alexander Blaise woke up this morning, I asked him how old he was and he said did:

Turning four on your 4th birthday - mandatory.  Pants - optional.

How do you feel being four??  "Well I'm bigger and I can't suck my thumb anymore and I can't have snacks at Holy Mass anymore and I can't wear pullups at night anymore.  But I caaaaaaaan get presents!!"

Yesterday, we had a joint luau birthday party for Xander and his cousin, Lilly and the kids had so much fun because:

1. Pizza

Saying grace and thanking God for the gift of pizza :)

2. Cake and Ice Cream

3. Water Slide and Water Soakers

4. Pinata

5. Family

I mean, what more could you ask for from a birthday party?  Oh, right...presents:

(He has a thing for The Hulk)

Today we had a breakfast of malasaddas (fried dough) and yogurt (bday boy's choice) after Mass and then I cut all the boys hair and Phil hosed them down.  Summer haircuts are so easy.  

We were planning on going to the beach, but the weather was a little iffy so we just let them play too many video games because you're only four once.  Well for 365 days.  

For dinner, we went to IHOP (eeeewwww, but again, his choice) and then Coldstone for ice cream (yummmmm, mom's persuasion was involved).  

Then we really partied hard by going to Kohl's for new sneakers for all the kids and then home for presents.

That toy he is holding is a HUGE hit!

Phew, it's 7:28 and the birthday boy and his one year old sidekick are already in bed.  Birthdays are tiring :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Five Favorites Right Now:


I bought this bag and have gotten so many compliments on it.  I originally wanted the white one, but I know myself and my six grubby handed kids ;)  
It's the perfect size and great for summer, and there's tons of patterns available!  Plus it's only $17.70 and you know you can get a coupon to bring that price down even more!


I needed some summer friendly (read: wet/dry) easy on and easy off shoes for our resident toddler who is picky about what goes on his chubby little feet.  Finally found these Natives and I'm sold.  

They are pricey, but I have the benefit of being able to pass them down to Declan in a few years.  Plus, they were a little roomier than I expected so they should fit Xander for 2 summers.  


I'm a Jamberry lover, but sometimes I give my jams a break and paint my nails with my favorite nail polish I've found.  It applies so easy and with two coats, it actually holds up for longer than anything else I've tried.  Highly recommended.


How about an easy summer recipe that requires no thawing, no cooking over heat, and no prep?  We'll do this one like an equation (math nerd alert)

Frozen chicken breasts + Jar of salsa x 8 hours on low in crockpot = Shredded Mexican Chicken

Great for tacos, enchiladas, salads, nachos, sandwiches, whatever your hungry little tummy desires :)


Walmart has never failed to disappoint with their Catalina Suddenly Slim swimsuits

 I have two, and trust my postpartum^6 belly - they work! So cute, so retro, so modest.  Plus $25 is a great price.  I'm not a Walmart lover (the stores here give me the heebie jeebies) but you can order online and avoid the heebies and the jeebies.

And that's all I've got for today, go see Jenna for more :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Stars, Stripes and Edelweiss: A Review and Giveaway

When Niki Kalpakgian asked me to review her book she wrote with her husband, Stars, Stripes and Edelweiss, I jumped at the chance.  I knew of both Mark and Niki while we were all students at Franciscan University of Steubenville back in the dark ages, but I actually get to know Niki more through blogging when they were living and raising their kids in Gaming, Austria.   Mark was working as the Director of Student Life at Franciscan's campus over there and I just loved peeking into their life while vicariously living through them.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

You see, Phil and I met at that campus in January, 2000 and the rest is romantic history.  We loved Gaming and our travels so much that once we were married, we dreamed of moving back over there so Phil could teach and work on his doctorate like our favorite moral theology professor, Dr. Asci had done.  But as the babies came and it was clear Phil's calling was to teach high school theology, we put that dream to rest.  So you better believe that I loved hearing what it would have been like if our dreams had become reality!

When in Austria...wear a dirndl and eat schnitzel.

For five years, the Kalpagian family lived and worked in Austria, and I'm so glad they wrote a book about it.   Stars, Stripes, and Edelweiss was a wonderful trip down memory lane!  So many thoughts and emotions came rushing back while reading about Mark & Niki's experiences there. I only wish I had read the book before my own adventures, as there was so much I had left undiscovered. I had no idea about the beautiful pools, swimming holes, and spas available.  I guess between the studying, travelling to other countries, and falling in love with Phil, I didn't get to see as much of Austria as I should have!  Lovesickness is a real disease :) 

Stop hugging and look around - you're in the Vatican!

In the book, Mark & Niki explore the customs and histories of the area, and I learned so much. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about all the cultural differences, missteps and funny trips they had (a naked spa! the trash police! beer and sausages for breakfast!). The Kalpakgians made their journey come alive to the reader, and made me long to visit that area once again. 

Straight from a fairy tale

So what would a review be without a giveaway?  If you would like to have my copy of Stars, Stripes, and Edelweiss (disclaimer - slightly bent due to someone getting their toddler hands on it, but that just adds character!) leave a comment about the best place you've ever traveled.  That's it!  I'll pick the winner on July 26th.