Meet the Sullivans: April 2014

April 30, 2014

Life Lately

Days go by so quickly these days that sometimes it's even hard to remember how we've been spending them. I often depend on my iPhone, Instagram and Life Planner to remind me what we've been up to lately. I'm pretty sure that in 10 years I won't be able to remember what I had for breakfast!


Last Friday I had the pleasure of being invited to tour the new Day One Baby store on Sacramento Street in San Francisco. We all had a wonderful time seeing the space, hearing about all the classes and services they have to offer and how they support families with young children. The center is a great resource for nursing mothers too! They have a space in the back of the store where moms can comfortable nurse and weigh their babies and you can make an appointment with a lactation consultant too if you're having issues. 

Annnnnd I snuck in a selfie of myself, because well, I actually washed / dried / styled my hair, put on make up and wore clothes without elastic that day.

On Saturday we hung around home in the morning and then went to the mall with my mom and sister in the late morning. Owen's been taking a few naps a week while we're out and about. He'll just get tired and fall asleep while I'm holding him or pushing him in the stroller. I really wish putting him down to bed at night were that easy! 

Saturday evening we celebrate our niece and nephews birthday with cake and ice cream at their home. Owen loves his cousins SO so SO much! He has the best time whenever we're with them and he spends the next few days asking for his cousins, who he sometimes calls his "friends".


Sunday morning we hung around home in the morning, baked muffins, did some car buying research and meal planned. I borrowed the Weelicious cookbook last week after Erin mentioned trying some of the recipes. Erin always has the best ideas, so I have high hopes for these recipes! We've got the Chicken Parm Wheels on the menu this week.

On Sunday our mission for the day was to find a new car. We have an SUV already, which we use whenever we're together, but we needed something for Keith to take to work. We looked at a few dealerships before taking a lunch break. We ended up at one of my favorite salad places, Pluto's. There isn't one too close to where we live, so it's been a looong time since we've been. I love that they make your salad with exactly what you want and then toss it for you. I could have lunch there everyday!

Owen fell asleep in the car on the way back to the dealership, so I ended up spending them next hour and a half in the car with him while Keith finished things up with the car dealer. My phone was near dead, but luckily I had some magazines stashed in the car. I ended up flipping through Bay Area Parent's Family Navigator. If you're local, pick up a copy! You can find them near the door at most grocery stores. I got so many great ideas for our little family to do together!


And have you tried Nu Go bars? We've been buying the Clif Kid ZBars at Costco for Owen for a while, and of course we end up grabbing them for ourselves too when we're in a rush. This time we decided to try the Nu Go bars and I don't think we'll ever go back! The Chocolate Peanut Butter is everyone's favorite flavor.

And PS I just saw that Green Toys are on Zulily this morning! You can't get them at such a great deal anywhere else!



April 28, 2014

Hey Local Bloggers!

This post is brought to you by BlogHer and BlogHer '14. 

In a few short months I'll be heading (20 minutes down the freeway!) to BlogHer '14! At first I wasn't sure I should even attend, since my blog isn't really "big" and I don't consider this a business. BUT, you see, I'm at a place right now with this blog where it's become more than just a hobby. I'm serious about it, but I'll gladly let it sit untouched in favor of catching lizards with my son or watching tv with my husband. I've invested a lot of time thinking about what I put out there and how I can make it better and I think it's become a little reflection of who I am as a wife, mother and homemaker, as well as a great virtual memory book for our family.

I kept bouncing back and forth between going and not going -- but I finally decided, with the help of a friend and my husband, that I should go. This is an important place to me and I owe to myself to take it to the next level, whatever that is. I have a passion for writing (even if it's just about nothing in particular most of the time) this blog and I'm excited to explore my possibilities at the conference.

It's also a huge convenience that, for the first time in 10 years, the BlogHer conference will take place in San Jose (on July 24-26, 2014)! I'm so excited about that part since having it so close to home makes that fact that I'm attending less of an inconvenience on my family. I can go, but not feel too guilty about it. And Keith totally supports me. I knew that BlogHer probably wouldn't be back in our area for a while after this year, and that I would absolutely regret not going to the conference.

I can't wait to learn from great speakers; from the world famous (Kerry Washington and Arianna Huffington!!) to my blogging peers (maybe YOU?!). I have only met a handful of bloggers in person, and it's always been a fun experience, one where I learn more and more about what other people do with their blogs, and make new friends. 

Have you toyed with the idea of going to the conference? Go for it! This conference isn't just for bloggers either. If you've ever considered starting a blog this is a great way to get started! I know it will be worth your time! And if you go, hopefully we'll be able to meet!

You can use this link to get a special discount on the cost of your registration. 
 PS. Anyone know where I can order some custom business cards?

April 25, 2014

FIVE on FRIDAY

Most weeks fly right by and this week was no different! We stayed busy with lunch dates, trips to the gym, soccer class and having friends over. Today I'm heading up to the city for brunch at the new DayOne Baby store and to check out what they have to offer, and later we're picking up O's cousin from school and heading out for some fun! The fun never stops, friends!

I'm linking up with the sweet ladies behind The Good Life, Carolina Charm, A. Liz Adventures, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday!

 - one -
There has been some roadwork in our neighborhood for the last week, so the streets around us are filled with "workers" (that's what Owen calls men in vests & hard hats) and their "worker trucks" and Owen can name each and every one by name. No joke he knows excavator, fork lift, front loader, bulldozer, jack hammer, steam roller, dump truck, etc. He's in Heaven these days!

 - two -
Earlier this week Owen was asking for a snack after nap this week (per the usual), but as I offered him his favorites (apples, cashews, carrots) he refused them. I was pretty sure he was just being difficult, so I made him a little snack smörgåsbord and he was happy as a clam. I've done this every day since! It's a great way to give my picky eater lots of options. 

 - three -
We finally have a handheld vacuum we can count on and I'm so happy with it! Our old vacuum wasn't even worth trying to use. Now I can clean up messes in a flash, and get back to living life with my guys. Check out my review of the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac and enter the giveaway!

- four -
Our niece Amanda recently share this awesome recipe for edamame on her IG and she was so sweet to share the recipe. I made them, and they are good! Like, so good you could eat them all up by yourself! Here's the recipe:

Crispy Roasted Edamame
adapted slightly from All Recipes

1 (12 oz) bag of frozen shelled edamame (I found mine at Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Optional: prepare a sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up.  Place the frozen edamame in a colander and run under cold water to thaw.  Drain.

In a bowl, mix the thawed edamame, oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper until evenly combined.  Spread the edamame mixture onto the bottom of the prepared sheet pan.  Bake in the preheated oven until the cheese is crispy and golden, about 15 minutes.

Let cool on the pan for a minute, then serve!

- five -
 I think we can all agree that Carrie Underwood has The Best Legs Ever. I'm sure she works hard for them and eats right, but she also seriously scored in the leg gene arena! I mean, I don't think that my legs could ever look that good, even if I followed her plan to a t. Having said that, there is absolutely no hurt (well maybe, SOME hurt) in trying! I'm all over this people!

Have a great weekend!

April 24, 2014

The Best Handheld Vacuum, Ever.

This article is sponsored by BLACK+DECKER.

I have a dirty little secret to share with you all today...


Our car is a goldfish crusted, milk soaked, sandy mess!

Whew, I feel so good just getting that out there and off my chest. It's really so embarrassing to be showing you the inside of our car. I try so hard to keep the car clean, but we spend a ton of time in there, so it gets a lot of use, and it SHOWS. We're out the door most mornings before 9am to go to the gym, followed by errands, so morning snack always happens in the car -- and with a toddler that means all over the floor.

Okay enough making excuses for the mess -- now I can tell you what I'm doing to "right" this "WRONG"!

Before we got the BLACK+DECKER, which is literally the best handheld vacuum ever, we were using another handheld vacuum, but it just wasn't cutting it. The power would run out if it wasn't charged in between even a short clean-up job. That just does not cut it when you're constantly chasing and cleaning up after a busy toddler.

The coolest feature on the Pivot is the pivoting arm! It allows you to not only use it as you would any other regular handheld vacuum, but also in places your regular one can't reach. Places like the top of a book shelf or refrigerator.


And it folds up really nicely too! The charging station can be mounted to the wall or be left to stand on a counter top. Fancy, huh?

Our new BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac has made my life SO much easier and cleaner! I can get in between all the little cracks and crevices inside, under and behind Owen's carseat to vaccum up the crumbs from his on-the-go snacks instead of puling the whole heavy seat out and having to get my husband to reinstall for me. I am saving tons of time with this! Not only is the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac incredibly convenient, but it's also super powerful.

We've always got some kind of snack food floating around the floorboards of our car. I usually have to pull out the big vacuum, and all its attachments, to clean up a mess like you can see above -- which is a big time commitment -- but with the Pivot Vac I can run out to the car real quick and get the job done just as well (if not better) than if I were using a large, powerful vacuum. I'm so happy to stop cleaning and start living!

And there is also the fact that it is light enough for Owen to be able to help out by using it too! Never to young to start pitching in!




Didn't he do an amazing job? We can't give him all the credit though, he got a little help from his mommy and a whole lot of help from the Pivot Vac.
And guess what…you can win your own Pivot Vac (a $79.99 value)! Take a minute and check out the Pivot Vac and then use the Rafflecopter widegt to log your entry!! I can't wait to hear how you'd put it to good use!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This post is sponsored by BLACK+DECKER but my love of the Pivot Vac is all my own.  

April 23, 2014

Finish This

One of my favorite things about reading other blogs is getting a little peek into how other people live their lives. I love seeing how other moms spend their days with their children, what books people are reading, the food they're cooking for their families, and what's on their minds. I pretty sure I'm not alone in this! It's all about telling our stories, and sometimes, just like life, they're a mixed up hodge podge of thoughts and details.

So, I'm linking up today with the Java Mama, Three 31 and others for Finish This.

My favorite makeup item is… Garnier Skin Renew BB Cream! I love this stuff. It goes on so easily over moisturizer and it gives just enough coverage for everyday wear. On special occasions I add some foundation and/or concealer to the mix, but on a regular day I just wear the BB cream. I love it!

 
 Some of my other favorites!

The best book I ever read was…The Help. I love when a story takes place in a long time ago -- time period movies / shows and books are my favorite. I like looking at how different the clothes, social norms and everything else was. And the story is fantastic. The book is an easy read and you really grow to love & hate a lot of the characters. Planning to read it again this summer!

My favorite TV show is… All time favorite? That would have to be Friends! Or favorite that's on tv right now? I can't decide between The Walking Dead, Girls, Downton Abbey or Veep.

The most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done is… This is a hard one. I'm not spontaneous in the larger sense, like taking off on a trip at the drop of hat or making a big purchase or decision. I might, you know, decide to take Owen to Target after dinner, or something -- which is about as spontaneous as I get these days.

I prefer DOGS/CATS because … I like dogs. This doesn't mean I don't like cats. We always had cats and loved them just like I loved out dogs. My family had many animals when I was growing up. At one time we had two frogs, two mice, a rabbit, three dogs, three cats and a fish. Having said that, I found over all those years that I mostly liked the dogs the best. They are easy to care for and became a huge part of our family. They were like one of us.

Conan!

I met my husband... At the gym. He was working there at the time and slowly over months and months we became friends. Eventually he asked me out and the rest is history! You can read the story HERE.

Thanks for reading! 

April 21, 2014

Scenes from Easter Weekend

Happy Easter, friends! We had a really fun weekend and spent lots of time with family! Holidays are getting more and more fun the older Owen gets. He's happy to be out and about doing fun activities and seeing lots of people. He loves to get right into the middle of all the fun anywhere we go.

On Saturday they didn't need Keith at the hospital, so he was able to come with us to the egg hunt our neighborhood recreation center had planned -- that means a three day weekend for our family! I was so happy to have him around on a Saturday. I usually have to go to these things on my own or with my mom, which is still fun, but I like having daddy around!



We ate the pancake breakfast before dashing off to see the Easter Bunny arrive on a fire engine. Owen ate a couple sausages and then started digging into the chocolate on the table. Who puts chocolate on the breakfast table? We missed EB's arrival, but were still able to visit with him. I think Owen was more excited about the possibility of seeing the fire engine! We said "Hey!" to EB and then found the spot for the little kids' egg hunt.

Owen wasn't too excited to egg hunt at first, but we were explaining to him how it was going to work and THEN my brilliant sister told him there was treasure inside! Well that totally got his attention! ...until he realized there was a play structure in the egg hunt area. Then he just wanted to play with the wheel.

Sunday morning we woke up bright and early for 8am Mass with Keith's mom, his sister and her family. It was a beautiful Mass, although the three of us spent most of the time in the vestibule, since someone would rather run around than sit. We managed to stay through Communion and then to the end, which doesn't happen most weeks, so we're considering it a success!

After church we all came back to find that the Easter Bunny had visited, so we got right to doing our Easter egg hunt, and then we all watched Owen open his basket. 





Owen was most excited to find a peanut butter cup in one of his eggs, and since it was a holiday, we let him have it! He was in Heaven!



He didn't get too far into his basket before he ditched all the things inside and just stuck to playing with the recycling truck. He played with it for most of the day, and we ended up bringing it to my grandpa's house too. I'd say it was an excellent choice made by the EB!



After nap time (for all of us!) we headed over to my grandpa's house for Easter dinner with my family!



Owen was pretty good about putting up with all the pictures we were taking, but by the time we got around to taking a picture of the three of us I think he was done. I think his squinting is better than his usual turning the other way. 


Being the only child around with my family makes Owen the center of attention, which he just loves. He was being super silly while he ate some of the appetizers that were out. He was cracking us all up!


We had a lovely Easter weekend and I hope you did too! Allelujah!

April 18, 2014

FIVE on FRIDAY

Happy Easter weekend! It's be a busy, fun filled week, and we're ready for more fun this weekend! But first...I'm linking up with the sweet ladies behind The Good Life, Carolina Charm, A. Liz Adventures, and Hello Happiness for 5 on Friday!

| 1 | Movie Workout: Disney's Frozen I'm really proud of my progress in the gym. I'm feeling stronger and have more energy at the end of the day (on most days!), and my clothes are fitting (and looking) better too! Although I've been able to make it to the gym or for a workout 3-4 times a week there are still days when it just does not happen. This is usually because we trade going to the gym in the morning for meeting friends at the park, soccer class or appointments. I was so excited to see that Tamara shared a great plan for working out while you let your kids watch the movie Frozen. Owen is pretty good about sitting to watch a movie or playing while watching one. Obviously this is something I would probably only use in a pinch, because after all, we're always trying to cut back on screen time, but it's nice to know there are options for when you can't get out of the house or workout during nap time ... or when you child no longer naps!

| 2 | I have been pinning up a storm on Pinterest lately, and honestly, I don't know what's gotten into me. Some of my favorite pins lately have been Owen related of course because I am always looking for new ways to keep us busy. And a little while back I wrote a post for Blog Her detailing five of my favorite Pinterest boards around for all things toddlers + creativity! Check them out! We've found some really fun activities.


| 3 | Owen's Easter basket is all ready to go for Sunday and we've got some fun plans for the weekend involving family, egg hunts, Mass, more egg hunts, Bloody Mary's and more family. It's bound to be a fantastic few days!


| 4 | We've had quite the busy week this week and it has been wonderful. Every time I start to feel rushed about all the things we're doing each day I remind my self of a little over a month ago when Owen had hand, foot & mouth disease and we were confined to our house for nearly two weeks. It's really nice to be busy and have friends to see!

Having said that, I wish I had more time to use the bathroom by myself... or at least not have to worry about where Owen is while I try to wash my hands. Yesterday he was in our room on the bed and I ran to the bathroom. As I washed my hands I saw him dash down the hall out of the corner of my eye... and when I went to find him I found that he had colored with a blue marker all over the wall. How he did that I'll never know. I'm super thankful for Google and Magic Markers today.


| 5 | I finished reading Pines (Wayward Pines Series, Book One) and it was great! Not my usual read, being a mystery, but it kept me wanting to keep reading the entire time and wondering what the heck was going on. Now I'm on to book two in the series!

We're off to the gym this morning and if all goes well for us there Owen and I are heading out somewhere fun before nap time! I hope you all have a happy Easter weekend with the people you love!

April 17, 2014

Owen's Easter Basket 2014

It's probably no secret that I love to shop for our boy! I can barely go into (any) stores without seeing something I want to buy for him -- usually something from the dollar section or a little matchbox car. But I don't want to him to think he gets something every time we're out, so instead, I've been sneaking those things into our shopping basket and saving them for his Easter basket.


The liner is from Pottery Barn Kids and the basket was a last minute, in-a-pinch purchase from Michael's. I was really hoping for a more traditional Easter basket shape, but I could only find them in white. I know that I sound silly, but there is a certain shape of basket that makes filling it a little easier, and I drove myself crazy (literally, all over the city) trying to find one in the color I wanted. In the end, a basket is just a basket and no one but me cares about the difference.

Inside there is...

A board book copy of The Little Engine That Could, a new vibrating toothbrush and Elmo's The Bunny Hop. I like giving Owen a regular book to add to our collection for most holidays we celebrate. Kills two birds with one stone, because I would be buying him books anyway -- books are one of my (many) weaknesses.


The rest of the things in his basket are all from the dollar section in Target or at Michael's. A little Jumping Frogs game we can play together and (my new favorite way to entertain Owen at a restaurant) a new Curious George Grab & Go Play Pack. They have a ziplocking seal, so you can keep them in your bag to use again and again.

I found those cute little eggs at Michael's too. I thought that Owen would like the dino's and the kush balls. And the Goldfish, or "fishy crackers" as we call them in our family, are a staple and necessity.



And not pictured with the basket is Owen's bonus gift, a Green Toys Recycling Truck I bought on Zulily a while ago! There is a 90% he will be most excited about that part of his "basket"!


I'm linking up with Darci today for the Easter Basket Blog Hop -- can't wait to see everyone's cute baskets! If you don't have a blog you can still play along by sharing your basket (for your mom, child, husband, boyfriend, cat, dog, dad, neighbor, brother, etc.) on Instagram by hastagging your picture #EasterBasketHop!
 
PS. You can see Owen's previous Easter baskets here: One year-old basket + 3 month old basket

April 16, 2014

It's the Little Things ... Like Lovin' the Easter Bunny

A little mommy bragging is about to go down...

My kid loves characters / doctors / haircuts, and I'm so thankful. Don't get me wrong, we have our fair share or public meltdowns (on the regular, folks) over little things, but I'm really glad he's been easy going when it comes to someone else giving him attention. As long as mom is right there within view he's happy to let the doctor check his ears, have the hairdressers cut his hair or sit with Santa / The Easter Bunny. Of course his mellow disposition in these situations makes them tons easier on Keith and I, but mostly, we're just glad they're low stress situations for Owen.


First, let me tell you how much Owen has been hooked on his Melissa & Doug Water Wow coloring book. We bought it last summer for our trip down to Disneyland, and recently he's re-discovered how much he likes playing with it. I bring it to restaurants, in the car and to church for low mess fun and entertainment. Anyway, on this day, our date with The Easter Bunny (TEB), Owen would not leave the house without "painting" the excavator, so we had to do that out front before getting in the car. 5 minutes later we were on our way, tantrum free. Whatever works, right?


You were just hoping and wishing for a play-by-play of our excellent experience with TEB, right? Because I will not disappoint you there. 

We got to the mall early, around 10:am, and there was only one other child in line ahead of us. The boy was older than Owen and he did not want anything to do with TEB. He wasn't crying, but he was definitely not going to let his mom put him down or on TEB's lap. I was a little worried this might make O concerned (because you never know when this easy going streak will end), but he was un-phased.

We stood in line waiting out turn, all the while Owen had his back to TEB but couldn't help coyly glancing over his shoulder every two seconds to see if TEB was looking back. Then when he'd see the bunny wave at him he quickly turn back around. My son is a total flirt. And a silly billy.


Our turn came and Owen walked right up to TEB and smiled. He let me set him down in his lap and then the camera lady and I snap, snap, snapped away. 



Just like last year I had a hard time tearing him away when our turn was over. He wanted TEB to read him the book they'd given us, and basically just wanted to hang out in bunnyland all day watching the action. He is such a sweet boy and I love seeing him so happy like this. He is truly in his element when he's the center of attention among strangers. He's all smiles and cuteness and charming! I'm hoping this means he'll be better at public speaking than me, and that he'll be a CEO or something great like that.


Great picture, right? Hashtag: overly proud mom moment


We topped off our trip to the mal with a stop at the Build a Bear Workshop. Owen usually just likes to visit the store to pound on the keys of the computers, but this time we actually bought something. Owen picked out a Darth Vader bear complete with the Star Wars theme song embedded inside.

Happy Wednesday! We're off to soccer and to play in the sun!

   I’m linking up this today with jess and ashley for their fun little things link up!