toddler friends

Since I’m still catching up from not blogging over the summer, I wanted to share more highlights that didn’t make it on the blog yet.  Just like I wrote a “friends are important” post sharing moments I had with my girl friends throughout the summer, I wanted to do the same for William.  And toddler friends are important.  Friendships develop at an early age.  Obviously most (all) of his friends are because I’m friends with the mommas, but still!  It is really fun watching our toddlers become friends, especially now that they are playing with each other instead of just parallel play.  Here are the particularly adorable moments from the summer:

dylan sept16

William and Dylan kissing.  Is there anything sweeter?

wolf guitar aug16

Wolf and William, best buds!  They’ve literally been friends since William was just a few months old.  They see each other and Facetime on a regular basis.  We were reading a book the other day about owls and William started naming the owls.  “William, Wolfie, Julie (Wolf’s mom), and momma!”  They were jamming out here together.  And don’t worry, my tv is no longer on the ground; I have a stand. 😉

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These darlings were at a Fourth of July parade together (could you tell?).  I love how festive they all are!

carly aug16

William’s girlfriend, Carly.  These babes have been an item for years (ok, slightly over two years).  Their slide show for their wedding is coming together quite nicely.  William and Carly have also gone to school together since the beginning.

wolf zev asher sept16

Boys will be boys!  It’s nice that they’ll actually stand and pose for a picture these days.  Sometimes simultaneous smiles are difficult to come by, but they sure were trying!  I’m pretty sure I offered, “If you want a cookie, stand against this wall!”  Hey, whatever works.

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William and Leo racing for the ball!  They’re just four weeks apart, and I’ve worked with Leo’s momma for eight years.  We were obviously pregnant together, and it’s been fun to share stories since they go through the same age-based phases together.

emily tjs aug16

Since we started with a kissing picture, I thought we’d end on one, as well.  This is Emily, William’s runner-up girlfriend.  Emily’s momma, Diana, is one of my best friends, who happens to live in my neighborhood and teach at the same school as me.  Since we have summers off together, these two lovebirds spent a lot of time together, including grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s.

Are you still friends with people from your childhood?  My first friend was Annette; we met in toddlers when we were two and still remain very close today!

back to school 2016

School has been in session for about a month now, so I thought I should finally get around to blogging about it.  Blogging has obviously taken a bit of a hiatus recently.  I’ve missed it but have had little motivation to blog, if that makes sense.  I miss writing, I miss sharing tidbits of our lives, and I miss being held accountable for living a healthy(ish) lifestyle to post about.  Last night I decided was as good of a time as any to get started again.  Right when I opened up wordpress, it felt as though I never “left.”  I’m excited to start blogging on a somewhat regular basis again.  I’m not exactly sure what that will look like, but more than once every month or so, for sure.

(Over the weekend I blogged about a sweet and salty fall trail mix that I did for Brach’s, in case you missed it.)

Let’s talk about back to school 2016.  Summer flew by, as always, and the new school year approached quickly.  William is almost two and a half now.  Little man on the first day of school:

first day of school aug16

How is he already acting embarrassed of his momma taking first day of school photos?  Baby, this is just the beginning, so you better get used to it!  We actually took a photo the first few days of school, and you’ll see he was all smiles for those.  William is thriving at school!  He has been at this same place since he was a baby, so he’s definitely familiar which is a good thing for him.  He’s been with most of the kids in his class for a couple of years, too.  It puts me at ease knowing he is at a place where he is so well taken care of and learning everyday.  It’s even more fun now that William is talking so much, since he can tell me specifics about his day!

The beginning of my school year is going well, too.

first day of school 2016

I’m teaching fourth grade for the fourth year in a row and am at the same school I’ve been at for eight years.  I love love love the school and my team.  Nichole, Kristen, and I are just missing Maggie who is still on maternity leave.  It’s hard going back to work after having summer off, but there’s nobody else I’d rather spend it with than these gals!  And my darlings this school year are pretty great, as well.  The beginning of the school year is always so refreshing and I really enjoy getting to know my students and building the community in our classroom.

William has turned into a real little boy.

school aug16

When I call him a baby, he tells, “Not baby, Mommy.  I’m a big boy!”  Oh, be still my heart.

Most days, he’ll smile for a photo for me before walking into school.  Some days he even requests that I go in the picture with him.

smile aug16

I’ll never say no to that!

William went through a phase where he was bringing his sunglasses into school.  Later, I found out he was literally wearing them all day long.  Silly baby.

sunglasses aug16

He’s just so darn cute!

Life is good for me and William.  We’re crazy busy now that school is back in session, but we’re finding our balance and getting into our routine once again.  And we’re happy.

smile sept16

We’re so happy.  Because life is good.

What’s been going on with YOU? I’ve missed hearing from all of you!

William’s First Cardinals Game

William’s first Cardinals game was on July 4th.  It had been raining for the past several days, but seemed to let up a bit on the Fourth.  Sure enough, on our way down to Busch Stadium, the rain picked up again causing a rain delay.  We killed some time at the Science Center which was just as fun for William.  Finally, when it was almost game time, we made it to the stadium.  And who else to take William to his very first Cardinals game, but Yaya and Pops, of course!

cardinals first game july16

William was a champ and made it through seven and a half innings!  Yaya did a lot of entertaining as well as giving him a play by play of what exactly he was seeing.

cardinals game yaya july16

That was William’s face / answer to, “Are you having fun?” as he excitedly shouted YES!  The people behind us even commented how happy he was and how great he was doing at the game.

cardinalsshirt

William wore his very own personalized Cardinals shirt which was made by A Child’s Boutique.  Keri, the owner, is wonderful and said this is the most popular Cardinals design, but she can make any shirt / outfit.  This is who Stephanie always uses to make her kids’ personalized shirts.

William cheered for the Cardinals with Yaya and Pops.

cardinals clap

We had a fourth seat for him to sit on, but he mostly sat on laps.  The extra seat was nice to have a little extra space and it gave him some standing room.  In between innings, we either went down to the dugout to try and catch a ball or Yaya gave him Superman rides!

cardinals laugh

He was seriously so full of smiles and laughter the entire game!

cardinals game july16

Think he had fun?

cardinals game july16

Do you remember your first baseball game?

rainy day fun

Has it been raining continuously for what seems like forever in other parts of the country besides just St. Louis? Most unfortunately, throughout the entire Fourth of July weekend?  Well, my family always goes to Innsbrook (lake resort area just outside of St. Louis) for the Fourth and this year was no different, despite the rain.  We made the most of our time, even braving a constant drizzle just so we could watch the awesome fireworks show on the lake.

innsbrook fireworks july16

Since when do we have to bundle up for fireworks in July?!  Clearly someone still had a ton of fun and loved watching the fireworks!

We HAD to get out of the house, especially the kiddos, so what’d we do?  Gave everyone an umbrella and went for a walk!

innsbrook umbrellas july16

William made it for awhile before he needed a lift from momma.

umbrella july16

I think we both won the “best outfit” award.

Whenever the downpour let up even a little, the kiddos were quick to get outside.  Fishing was the highlight of the trip as William had been talking about it forever.  He would have fished all day and night if we let him!

innsbrook fishing july16

This was at 7:00 am in the morning.  Don’t worry, William didn’t really wear pajamas the entire trip. 😉

The kayaks were brought out for a short amount of time and William went with Yaya for his first ride of the summer!

innsbrook kayak july16

Pops taught the kids how to drive in the mule.

innsbrook pops mule july16

Audrey made sure to keep a tight arm around William the entire ride.  (And I was on the other side of him, as well.)  Audrey literally couldn’t keep her hands off William.

innsbrook aud kiss mule july16

smush face

I love my family.  That’s obvious.  So being cooped up in close quarters with them for a couple days (literally, thanks, rain) is really fun.  A lot of us squeeze in a few rooms to sleep.  This time it was my sister and I in the same room as our kids.  I brought William into bed with me in the morning to try to get him to sleep a little bit longer though he was already excited when he woke up and saw Stephanie’s dog Ellie on the bed.  Within a few minutes, an upside down head popped down from the top bunk.  “Jacob!”  William exclaimed excitedly.   Sleeping in whatsoever didn’t happen.  But the kids were happy to come in my bed and pretend to sleep for a little longer.

innsbrook sleep july16

Audrey: Let’s close our eyes, but still smile!

Big thanks to my parents for having us out at Innsbrook again.  They’re the best Yaya and Pops anyone could ever wish for!

innsbrook yaya pops july16

Seriously, they’re the best.  They do anything and everything for us.

Oh, and right before we left, I had to get outside and do my obligatory split jump by the lake photo while the rain had let up.

innsbrook split jump july16

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July!

What’d you do for the Fourth?

oh the joys

Oh the joys of summer!  There are so many of them.  Yes, this will be another gushy “I love summer” post.  And today is July 1st?  That means I’m on my last month of summer vacation!  (Ok side note, I started this post last week – clearly – but didn’t have time to finish it this week.)  You better believe we’ll be living up every moment.  We’ve been crazy busy this summer in the best way possible.  Tons of time outdoors, play dates, get togethers with friends, nights out, activities, you name it.  Oh the joys of summer:

aud running june16

Running freely during an outdoor concert.  And if you want to see them dancing freely on stage at said concert, check out Stephanie’s Instagram (@scpstudio).

Meeting friends for lunch dates:

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My hair takes five minutes to blow dry now and no flat iron required. That is AMAZING, especially for the summer!  Thank you again, Preston!

Play dates with friends:

wolf june16

William and Wolf have been playing together since they were babies, but now they’re actually playing together.  Here they were driving the bus to school with their chicken.

Going out with coworkers who have become the best of friends:

mck girls

Girls night outs are always the best, but especially when they don’t happen often enough! So much laughter!

More William and Audrey adventures:

aud sidepony june16

Audrey came over in the morning and needed her hair done.  She requested a side pony, so naturally William needed the same.

aud minipool june16

This mini pool is by far and away the best eight dollars I’ve ever spent at Target.

More play dates:

carly june16

These two lovebirds have been together since they were just a few months old.

Oh the joys of summer!

How have you been enjoying summer?

Blackberry Picking at Eckert’s

Something that must be on your summer to do list if you’re in or around St. Louis is Blackberry Picking at Eckert’s.  Eckert’s is a year-round farm located in Belleville, Illinois that has seasonal crops and a lot more to do than just picking blackberries.  Strawberry picking was earlier this summer, and peaches will be available next week.  William and I went on Sunday with my sister Stephanie and her two kids.

eckerts blackberries

Little did I know that there is so much to do at Eckert’s!  Of course there is fruit picking, but also vegetables and flowers.  There is a country store that is filled with all sorts of fun items.

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To get out to the fields where the blackberries were, we had to take a short tractor ride, which, of course, William was more than thrilled about.  He kept saying, “Bumpy ride!”

eckerts tractor

Then off to the fields we went!

eckertsblackberries

I tried to explain to William that blackberries start off green, then turn red, then finally black when you can eat them.  He liked picking the green ones best.

eckerts basket

This was the first time that he was really able to pick the fruit himself.  It’s so much fun teaching him how food grows from the ground and we can eat it!

eckerts picking blackberries

He really did look thoroughly to find the perfect blackberry to add to his basket.

eckerts 2016

It was a scorcher out there, but there were a few water stations in the fields where we were able to seek shade and hydrate.  After we’d had enough sun, we took the tractor back.  The whole farm is truly breathtaking and such a magnificent place to take photos.

eckerts lake

After we cooled off in the air conditioning, we went back out to explore some more.  On the weekends, there are pony rides, train rides, and carnival rides.

eckerts train

The train was William’s favorite.  Those two could have stayed on there all day.

William also liked playing put-put mini golf and finding bikes to ride.

eckerts bike

And for the first time ever, William rode a horse!

eckerts horse

I had tried before, but he was scared.  This time, he clasped tightly to the saddle with one hand and held on to me with his other.  He loved it!

After we spent a couple of hours doing all the fun activities, we were hungry for lunch.  The restaurant had a 30 minute wait, so we placed a to-go order and ate ice cream first.

eckerts ice cream

We heard no complaints from anyone about that!

all photos by stephanie cotta photography

It was a wonderful day at Eckert’s and I highly recommend making a day of it.  In fact, we may just go back next week for peaches!

Have you done any picking this summer?

Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016

If you know me, then you know I’m the least crafty person ever.  I’m a fourth grade teacher, but have awful handwriting.  If I need to write nicely, I need to write very slowly and make an intense conscious effort.  (I will say, I do have nice cursive, if I take my time.)  My mom is an artist through and through.  My sister got that gene, too.  They both have great creative eyes.  Not me.  Anyway, I’m proud to share some Pinterest Craft Wins for Father’s Day 2016 today!  You’ll see what I mean when I say I’m not crafty.  These Pinterest craft wins were made by my toddler, facilitated by me for the special guys in our lives.

fathersday16 dad

My dad, he’s just the best.  Seriously the best.  And can you see why I’m obsessed with my hair?  This was the first time after I washed it and it took me five minutes to blow dry, no flat iron needed!  Alright, now onto Father’s Day Pinterest crafts!

My dad, William’s “Pops”

fathersday16 pops

William, if there’s one person in the world who I want you to be exactly like, it’s your Pops.  My dad is the smartest, kindest, most selfless, hardest working person I know.  We joke that he’s perfect and never make mistakes and I follow closely in his lead.  He can fix anything and do anything.  In fact, no matter where we are, if something is broken, William tells me, “Pops, fix it!”  We sure love our Pops!

A close-up of Pops’ masterpiece:

craft footprint pops

Made up of four footprints, I had this piece matted.  When I saw it on Pinterest, it was really four separate pieces, but I knew we could squeeze it onto one.  William is very into all of these, fire engines, tractors, dump trucks, and race cars, so it was perfect!

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Papa”

fathersday16 papa

Papa is the athlete of the family and calls William his number one!  He’ll be fine-tuning William’s skills for all sports soon enough.  Papa’s biggest sport is golf and he’s won some impressive titles during his golfing days!  So his craft:

craft papa

You are the best Papa by par!  Heh, heh.  Hand prints for the grass, golf tees, and colored pom poms for the golf balls.

linking up with katie and erin 

My grandpa, William’s great-grandpa, “Poppy”

fathersday16 poppy

Poppy’s expertise is fishing, boats, and cars, just to name a few.  He tells William to hug him, “but not too tight!”  It’s so funny to hear him say this since they’re the same words we heard growing up.  It won’t be long before William goes to his first circus or rodeo with Poppy, just like I did!

craft poppy

Hooked on Poppy!  Footprint for the fishing pole and hand print for the fish.  William so beautifully helped color in the water.

See?  Even I could handle those crafts!  William LOVED making hand and footprints!  It was fun picking out crafts for each of these wonderful men.  To say William and I are both blessed to have them in our lives would be an understatement.  We love every minute we get to spend with them!

One more bonus photo from the weekend.  Audrey slept over and brought clothes that she knew William could match.  When I did her hair in the morning, she requested a side pony, so of course William wanted the same thing, as well.

aud matching june16

Are they the cutest twinsies or what?!  Possibly my favorite picture of them.

Are you crafty? Do you enjoy making things?

Friday Favorites

This should really be called “Thursday Favorites” instead of Friday Favorites since all the photos are from yesterday, but hey whatever.  Lots of bloggers do a Friday Favorites thing, so here we go.  And let’s not forget that this is the THIRD time I’m blogging this week!  Go figure, right after I write the post about why I’m struggling to blog, I do a halfway decent job this week. Hopefully I’m onto something!

So on Wednesday, I got the express keratin treatment at Preston Salon Spa.  My hair is super frizzy and the humidity in St. Louis is out of control.  I literally cannot even straighten my hair in the summer because it frizzes so much.  I don’t mind curling my hair, but I feel like I always look super done up or not put together at all if my hair is not curled and just thrown up.  Anyway, it’s been years since I’ve gotten a keratin treatment and last time I loved it and this time is no different.  I snapped this selfie at the Butterfly House which is very humid and my hair was still bone straight with no frizz!

keratin june16

And check out my blonde!  My stylist at Preston Salon Spa put tons of blonde in my hair a couple of weeks ago and then did the keratin treatment in my hair this week.  I love her!  Preston is definitely THE place to go to for hair in St. Louis!

William posed by a giant butterfly before heading in.

butterfly house june16

The Butterfly House was shorter lived than I anticipated.   William was pretty tired and didn’t understand that you couldn’t touch and kiss the butterflies and had to stay on the path.  He did fine while we were there, but it was definitely time to go once we made it through.

We went to my parents’ house afterwards for a couple of hours.  We had a blast, as always, but William fell asleep on the car ride home and woke up when I was transferring him.  I couldn’t get him back down which is never a good thing.  My boy needs his sleep!  So I needed to find a distraction and FAST.  Over to my sister’s we headed.

pbk chairs

Jacob and Audrey provided just the entertainment that William needed!  They stacked up their Pottery Barn Kids chairs to make a tower and all piled on top.  All fun and games until it crumbled.  Luckily, nobody got hurt!  We had a fun afternoon over there and did a million things.  We baked a cake, the kids played school, the boys played soccer, and Audrey took several selfies of her and William with my phone.

silly selfie june16

In every selfie, William was mimicking Audrey exactly.  Too funny!

And because we like to stay busy, we met our friends Julie and Wolf out for dinner at Five Star Burgers.  Julie and I actually went there last week and it was awesome.  I had ordered a mushroom and swiss burger that you can see on Instagram.  We went for their happy hour with our little ones because they have $1.50 sliders and sides (sweet potato fries!).  The boys wouldn’t quite cooperate for a picture (hello, two year olds!), so I’ll share a cute one I got of William walking around the fountain outside the restaurant.

walking happy june16

That’s one happy kiddo!

What are your favorites from this week (or yesterday)?

all in a day

Oh summer.  How I longed for you!  I couldn’t wait to have entire days filled of adventures with William.  And while I’m definitely loving and soaking up all this time with my little man, we have GOT to stay busy!  I am so not somebody who can stay in the house all day, not even all morning actually.  Everyday we find new activities to do, both in and out of the house.  We’ve had lots and lots of play dates.  The past two days we’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Brittany and her two sweet kids!  On Monday we went to a pool and yesterday they came over.

playdate june16

William had a blast!  He was obsessed with this precious little girl.  He wanted to hold her constantly!  He’s been interested in babies in the past, but never for more than a few minutes.  He sang to her, rocked her, kissed her, patted her, literally wouldn’t leave her alone!  It was pretty stinking cute.  They’re going to have to make more regular visits.  Catching up with Brittany was great, too.  She’s one of those down to earth, tell it how it is kind of gals with a heart of gold and the kindest soul.

After they left, William was more than ready for a nap.  He took a decent nap, but was still pretty tired when he woke up.

yawn june16

Once he fully woke up, we played a bit more before heading to Yaya and Pops’ house.  William asks everyday if we can go to Yaya and Pops’ house.  He certainly loves them  – definitely the very best grandparents (and parents!).

Summer in St. Louis has officially begun; this means hot and humid weather!  Pops was watering the yard, and William just loves to help.  Pops taught him how to spray with a hose.

hose pops june16

After they played with the water, we went back to the pond.  Everyday, William pretends to go fishing at our house.  He has a cute magnetic fishing set that he plays with and he also pretends long sticks outside are fishing poles. So you can imagine his excitement when he and Pops actually caught a fish!

fish pops june16

Once everyone had enough sun, we went inside. William ate a snack while Yaya read to him and then they played with all the exciting toys at their house.  William challenged Yaya to an air hockey match.

air hockey june16

Miraculously, he scored against Yaya probably a hundred times.  Then he made Yaya switch sides with him another hundred times.  Yaya is a very good sport.

We came home, took another walk, ate dinner, bathed, read books, and then it was time for bed.  William had to get in a quick cuddle session with Zoey first.

zoey snuggle june16

We were all exhausted after our long day!

What has been filling your summer days?

just livin’ life

I tried to think of a creative blog post title, but clearly was unsuccessful.  I thought about what today’s post was about… golfing, selfies, cars, cute baby burritos, Zoey, farmer’s market, yeah a lot of randomness.  So I decided to call it what it is. Just livin’ life, y’all, that’s what I’m doing.  That’s what summer is all about.  Need I tell you again how much I love this season?

Here’s my life lately:

burrito june16

Let’s start with the cutest baby burrito ever.  I just want to eat him up.  Every night and every day.  That’s not to say I don’t have my day-to-day challenges with raising a darling toddler… 😉 but most of the time he sure melts my heart!

audrey june 16 selfie

These two.  Siblings.  Basically.  Audrey actually called him her brother the other day, LOL.  When she came over and saw him wearing this shirt, she was confused and asked me why William was wearing a Cubs shirt.  That’s living proof that everyone, kids included, are Cardinals fans here in St. Louis!

driving car

Riding along in my automobile…

William loves this little car at my parents’ house.  He’s awful and steering and just simply doesn’t understand it as he drives into the grass and bushes.  My dad always tells him he drives like his aunt (Stephanie).  LOL.

farmers market

Farmers markets are back!  I used to go every weekend, but have gone very rarely since having William.  Well, we went to the Delmar Loop’s farmers market which was great.  It was smaller than Soulard (where I used to go) and not crowded at all.  It’s been awesome having fresh fruits and vegetables at home!

mama mms june16

We visited Mama and Papa yesterday.  William always gets a special treat, just a few M&Ms, from Mama, but Papa was in charge of the candy yesterday.  William so very rarely gets sweets, but I’m ok with Mama and Papa giving him a few M&Ms every once in awhile.  Well, Papa let William stick his whole hand in and dig in!  My mom and I had to stop Papa!  He couldn’t resist!

yaya golf june16

My mom has recently taken up golf.  Papa was giving her lessons in his front lawn, and of course William had to get involved.  My mom was teaching William, and he said, “Yaya’s turn!”  Then he dragged another golf club out for me.

zoey vet

And last but not least, Zoey.  Zoey will be ten in July.  Small dogs are more prone to gum and teeth issues, so it’s recommended that they get their teeth professionally cleaned.  Well, at Zoey’s last yearly checkup, the vet noticed a tumor on her gums.  So yesterday she was put under to have her teeth cleaned, tumor removed, and also ended up having a tooth removed.  The tumor is being sent off to be tested (positive thoughts, please!), and I should find out next week.

William was SO upset to take Zoey in even though I kept telling him it was just to get her teeth cleaned.  “Zoey.  Doctor.  All done,” he kept saying.  Then when the vet took Zoey, William burst out in tears and cried the whole way home.  He was much happier when we picked her up!  Zoey seems to be doing fine, but is whining a little bit.  I hope she’s back to her normal self soon and the tumor comes back benign.

Tell me, how have you been livin’ life lately?