Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Rollerskating & Sleepovers

I shared a little bit about Ella's party a few weeks ago, but those pictures were really for me. Other than roller skating, her one wish for this year was a slumber party. Thanks to Sofia the First and her "royal sleepover" that is just about all my girls talk about anymore. I keep trying to explain to Sophie that she isn't old enough to have friends over, but it isn't quite sinking in. I think eight is the perfect age for slumber parties -- I remember having three friends over for my birthday when I was in the second grade, too. The other thing she was opinionated about was what she would wear! She saw a picture on Pinterest months ago (I wish I had thought to save it!) where a little girl was dressed up funky for her roller skating party and that was all she wrote. We had an appropriately colored tutu and funky knee socks in the closet, I found that vest at Walmart and got the hipster shades in the dollar spot at Target. She was in heaven.

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Of course no friendly get together is complete without silly faces and hamming it up for the camera. There were lots of these over the course of the evening.

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We had a few slices of pizza while we were waiting on everyone to arrive and then we worked to get their glow bracelets and necklaces all put together. They were more than a little excited to wear these at the roller rink and I was kind of thrilled that I could easily pick them out of a crowd!

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Warning: the photos at the rink are terrible, but there is no way short of being a professional photographer to capture anything here that isn't grainy, blurry or horribly blown out. Let's just be honest about it -- I'm not that great of a photographer. You can see the girls hugging the wall there below, while Gran holds their hands and guides them around. This is pretty early in the evening and nobody was confident on wheels yet. Except me ;).

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Unfortunately, these are the only two pictures of the parents the entire night. I'm not sure how we managed to avoid a family photo with the birthday girl. Soph skated around the rink exactly one time in her princess skates and I didn't even get a picture. We didn't know at the time that she was sick, but a few video games and one tiny rubber duckie cheered her up later in the evening. And the ice cream we grabbed at DQ on our way back home didn't hurt.

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They stood here at the wall and watched the kids dance for awhile before decided that they were up for some dancing, too. Immediately following was a birthday shout-out and some foot racing. Ella only had to race her two friends and unfortunately, she shoved them out of the way and crossed the finish line first. While her friends laid on the ground where she left them. Competitive much?

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By the end of the night, she totally had the hang of it and we decided we should bring the girls more often since we all had so much fun. Josh isn't a roller skater and I might not be graceful about it, but man it was fun!



When we got home, the kids donned their new sleep shirts and piled on the couch for a movie. I never expected them to sleep here, but when they fell asleep, we left them. We don't wake sleeping children. It's a rule. I'm surprised any of them could even move the next morning!

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After breakfast, they ran outside and spent hours jumping on the trampoline. We had a few casualties -- including a hair bow and a flip flop that landed on the roof and had to be rescued via the ladder by our sweet daddy. After a few pep talks and some hugs among friends, all was well.

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They might be a little blurry, but you know these are my favorite!

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And in case you need one more laugh, here is a video I shot of the girls in the car on the way to the rink. And less you think we're heathens who let our children stand up in a moving vehicle, we were parked at the time and couldn't resist capturing this little bit of hilarity. You're welcome.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters

Dear Blog Friends,

Today is when I would normally type some letters to random things to fill you in on the little things that don't often get blogged about. Instead, I just thought I'd write you a letter and tell you a little bit about what I'm thinking. Taz + Belly has been in a little bit of a flux the past few weeks as I try to figure out some kind of regular posting schedule to help me not feel so overwhelmed. I love writing here, not only to preserve our memories for our little people and so we can read about our youth when we're old and gray, but I love connecting with you -- my virtual friends. I go through spurts where I blog often and then life happens and I feel guilty for not keeping up. There are posts with many comments and follow up emails and others with lots of crickets. I wonder if you would care about the mundane moments that I overlook and if the things I deem important are boring you altogether. 

I read a post a few weeks ago that really stuck with me and helped shed some light on all the things I'm feeling -- not just blog related, but Kristin related. There are so many facets of my life that feel like a hamster wheel right now. Turning and turning, but getting me nowhere. I keep trying to get to where I'm going, but I'm afraid I'm missing so many things because I'm trying to get there in a hurry instead of taking the time to enjoy the trip.

I want the things I share here to have quality, to mean something. I don't want to ramble on for a lack of something to say. I want to be more transparent and share more about our life, not just pretty pictures that I take for the sake of having something to share. For the immediate future, I'm only going to be blogging three days a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I'll be sharing letters on Monday, like always, but they might look a little different, too. A three day posting schedule will help my daily schedule a bit and allow me to have posts written a few weeks in advance so that when life inevitably happens, I don't drop off the face of the blog. It might mean a slight delay in birthday posts and Christmas recaps, but I'm hoping it will help you know what to expect from week to week and look forward to what's to come. The thing I have loved most about blogging is the relationships. I love reading your comments and even better are the sweet emails from readers that always come at just the right moment. I'm hoping that more posts from my heart will equal more dialogue and better friendships in the months to come.


Friday, September 26, 2014

UA v Florida // Game Day Fashion

It's true I'm not a fashion blogger and I certainly don't aspire to be. BUT, I do like putting together outfits as much as the next girl and obviously I'm a big fan of on-line shopping. My husband likes to gently remind me not to spend too much money on clothes sometimes, but I've discovered that if they are red, white, black or grey and can be categorized as "game day attire", I usually get a pass!

We had been planning to head to Tuscaloosa for the UA / Florida game, but it completely snuck up on me! Some friends offered to let us crash their tailgate, so in return I started a cooking extravaganza in my kitchen Friday night. The girls were spending the weekend with their grandparents and Josh was at the high-school football game across the street. Armed with a counter full of groceries and John Mayer on repeat, I spent three hours cutting, mixing and baking.

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Then I got to spend the day with these fun people.

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A few weeks ago, before opening weekend, I ordered a great dress from the Game Day section of RiffRaff's website. It was well-priced and was going to be delivered just in time for our Atlanta weekend. Unfortunately, when I pulled it out of the packaging, Josh's initial reaction was "Hail State!" Yes, it was much more Mississippi State than Alabama, so back it went. Fortunately I had a dress that I hadn't worn yet and it was perfect for the weekend, but I was armed with a credit that I put towards a few other red tops for later in the season.

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In a strange turn of events, we ended up sitting in the student section during the game and let me just say -- nothing will remind you that you are middle aged like being surrounded by inebriated eighteen year olds! We had a blast, but I feel sure they were whispering to their friends saying, "Who are these old people?!?!"

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Josh was OVER taking pictures at this point. O. V. E. R. He was a little testy, but I managed to rope him into one more photo op before he called it quits. He gets the photos, but doesn't understand why we have to have forty seven in every location. Because, options.

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After a rousing rendition of Rammer Jammer, we headed back to the tailgate for snacks and a few more football games on the television before tackling traffic. I did eat many Whole30 approved kabobs for dinner, but there was also buffalo chicken dip and pigs in a blanket. Please don't judge.

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A friend asked me where I got my chevron striped shorts, which launched a major conversation about what we like to wear to the games. Before we knew it, we were buying more red and white shorts on her iPhone! I ordered these shorts from Lulu's several years ago and they are still some of my favorites! Sometimes their clothes can be a little revealing and young for me, but if you look hard enough you can find some super cute dresses and tops. Lucky for us, I had seen these shorts on J. Crew's Factory website earlier in the week. They were already on sale for $27 and with a 30% off promo, they were less than $18 shipped! The promo has expired, but last I checked they still had the red and navy stripes in several sizes.

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I have all three of these tops from RiffRaff and love them all! The two piko tops are what I got when I exchanged the dress and the kimono was part of a RiffRaffLove box from earlier this year.

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Forever21 is always good for a few cheap game day ideas and I love this batik elephant print tank! For $18, I might need to add this to my rotation.

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And at just under 5 bones, these bangle bracelets are pretty cute, too!

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A friend sent me the link to this fun elephant tank at a local boutique a few weeks ago and I saw it on the quad several times last Saturday. I can't ever decide how I feel about non-traditional color schemes for game day, but this might would ease me in.

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It's no secret that I prefer dresses for Saturdays in the fall, but sometimes I need a cute pair of shorts or something extra comfy when we're going to be there for twelve hours. My sister, Kamin, wore a super cute striped knit skirt that I ran out and copied her on (only $13.99 in stores) that would be just as cute with a t-shirt and flats as it was with wedges and a flowy bouse. I'm all for stretchy knit and this one did not disappoint. They have solid black, swiss dots, striped AND houndstooth.

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So... what are we gonna wear next week?



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Understanding Life

DISCLOSURE: This post was written on behalf of Kabbage. I was not compensated in any way.

We've been doing lots of dreaming at our house lately. Dreaming about a forever house and what our future might look like. We've been talking about long-term plans and where we think God is leading us as a family. I didn't share a "September Goals" post at the beginning of the month like I did in the months before, because I just couldn't seem to focus on anything that short term. The more I thought about the future, the more the same thing bubbled to the top of my list. It shouldn't come as a surprise to you at all, but one of my favorite quotes is by John Lennon.

"When I went to school they asked me what I 
wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. 
They told me I didn't understand the assignment, 
 and I told them they didn't understand life." 
 -- John Lennon

He uses the word happy here, but let's replace it with joy or contentment. When I really spend time thinking about tomorrow and what I would wish for if I could, it all comes down to how I see the future laid out for my family and more specifically, my girls.

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You know that above all, this is my number one hope for them. But, beyond that, there are three "goals" I have in mind when it comes to our family. The first is that my children would know what it is to belong. I want to create a happy place for them to come ​home to at the end of the day. No matter where life might take them as they get older, I always want the place we live to feel like their home. Josh and I have been talking for months about our next house and what that might look like. Will we continue to live in the Rockin' House? Will we be lucky enough to find something else locally that we love? Will we end up building that traditional house we always thought we wanted? Lately, our vision for this "forever house" has changed quite a bit. Josh greeted me with a crazy idea a few weeks ago and I can't quite get it out of my head. It's so quirky and so us, but at the same time, it's so far from this vision I've been holding in my head. The more I think about it, the more I have to recognize that I don't know exactly what is in store for our family right now. The picture isn't clear. And no matter how hard I try to make one of these options work because I'm ready, if the timing or the circumstances or the price aren't right, then we have to continue to be open to new and interesting ideas. Throughout this process of preparing our hearts and minds to leave the Rockin' House, we've let the girls become more and more a part of what were dreaming. We've asked their opinions and let them scour Pinterest for room ideas. We've talked about what our family needs and how to find a house that works best for us. I can make their rooms look like a magazine spread if I try hard enough, but I know that letting go a little and letting them dream big will be better for them than the Pottery Barn quilt I might pick out. When I think back on my childhood bedroom, I do remember the yellow wallpaper and my mother's pride when she designed that room just for me. The thing that stands out in my mind most, though, is laying on a mattress in the middle of my floor, watching while she painted those floral yellow walls a deep olive green. 

Second, I want them to have a heart for people. We live in a very rural community and are surrounded by people who are hurting and who aren't as fortunate as we are. I've spent my life defending the small town I grew up in and even as an adult, I'm often asked to justify why we don't live "in town". The fact of the matter is, that isn't what I want for my children. I want them to see the diversity of our small town. I want them to know that their friends don't have to look just like them or believe exactly the same way they do in order to have value. I want them to be grateful for what we have, but know that it's okay to have less and to give more. I want people around them to feel loved and to see us going out of our way to help them when they need it. I want them to be generous. I have read so many books in the last few years that have challenged my previous way of thinking. I never want to go back to that upper-middle-class, white girl with tunnel vision and an American dream.

Third, I want them to have a relationship one day that is just as wonderful as the one I have with their daddy. Sometimes I worry that we're doing everything wrong. I worry that we leave them too often and spend too much time together. I fear that having some privacy in our home will make them wonder if we didn't want to spend more time with them. We talk about how young we were when we got married and that we didn't really know what real life was like before we found ourselves sharing a bathroom sink. People change and grow up so much between the ages of 17 and 35, it's a miracle that we still like each other as much as we do. No matter who they find to spend their lives with or when and where it happens, I just want them to be as ridiculously happy as I am. I want them to marry someone who sees them, who knows their heart and isn't afraid to pursue crazy dreams with them. I want to shield them from the hurt of choosing wrong and reassure them that there are people out there who fit in your life so well that you won't remember the space they occupy ever being empty. There is this lyric from a song I loved in high school, "You're the puzzle piece behind the couch that makes the sky complete". I can't not think of that line. It is the way I feel about their daddy and the way I want someone to feel about them one day.

This world is a big and scary place. I hope I'm teaching them all of the things they need to know to tackle it on their own. I want them to carve out a space for themselves full of big dreams and crazy ideas. To find joy in every situation, big and small. To be fearless and bold and take chances. To change their world.

I love to hear people talking about their goals and want they want for their future. We are all so different and the things we want out of life vary greatly. What are you dreaming of today? Whether it's a career goal, fitness transformation, business growth or travel -- you can find exciting resources at the touch of a button . Kabbage is the number one on-line provider of small business loans to help make your dreams a reality.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Letters

Dear Antonio,

You make me laugh. A lot. I remember a night a few weeks ago when we were eating chocolate chip cookies in bed and binge watching the last few episodes of Tyrant (ummm, anybody else?!?!). Tucker said, "It's not surgery, it's a coup!" and we both looked at each other and grinned. Best line of the night. Then you started talking about how Leslie Hope looked like Ryan Reynolds. Or maybe Evangeline Lily. We got so tickled that I started taking screen shots of them and making photo collages of them side by side. At one point I was laughing so hard and looked at you and said, "I have no idea what it is we are laughing about."

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One of of my favorite things is how if something funny, or poignant, or memorable happens in the evening, you almost always text me mid-morning and ask some sort of follow up question. Sometimes it's a wisecrack or a meme or lyrics to a song, but it's always timely and I always smile. Remember that other day when I texted you about screaming in your sleep? That was one of the funniest things to happen ever. Even funnier was how the dog was staring at you so hard and how I jumped and said, "Why would you even do that?!" I laughed myself so awake that night, that I got out of bed and did some laundry at 1 o'clock in the morning. I sat in my office the next morning with tears rolling down my face while I thought about how funny it was.

Remember when you fed me a bite of that Three Musketeers in the parking lot at the gas station while I was supposed to be doing Whole30? And the girls were mad because you wouldn't let them have a bite? And I asked you if it had the same number of calories in it if I swallowed it or held it in my mouth for a few minutes first? It was so good.

And just in case you were wondering, I'm a huge fan of those red shorts and your denim shirt. And of your gifs. Maybe you should curate a selection of your favorites for me to share here. Surely I'm not the only one who would appreciate your stellar humor.

Yours,
Margarita


Friday, September 19, 2014

#challengeaccepted

Have you heard about the Water Challenge? No, not that challenge. This one

Young Boy Collects Water in Central Kenya

"Every day more than 3,000 children die from diarrheal diseases. That's over 1 million children per year. In most cases, clean and safe water could be made available with a new or repaired well, or another water project. But today, disease-infested pools of stagnant surface water miles away are all some people have." via thewaterproject.org

How it works:
  • For two weeks, drink no beverages other than water (please, only tap or filtered water as bottled water is too expensive and wasteful).
  • Set aside the money you would have spent on consuming beverages. Donate the money to help build a water project (approximately $23).
  • When you complete your challenge, you get a wristband.
  • Get 10 more people to take the challenge and you get a Water Challenge koozie! 

The goal is for every person who gives, to challenge ten of their friends and see how many people we can get to partner with us. All of the money donated will go to the same project and we get to follow along with the progress on-line. Whether we raise $50 or $5000, we can let the fundraising page stay open for donations as long as we want and once we close it, the money will be funneled into a single Water Project. We're providing you with a unique opportunity to change a life, to make a big impact through a very small sacrifice. We are inviting you to partner with us and watch as those donations grow!

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Click HERE to view our fundraising page. Once you've made your donation, comment here or send me an email and tell me the name you registered under and how much you donated so that I can send you a bracelet. Once you round up ten friends to join you, I'll send you a #challengeaccepted koozie. I will update you with pictures, GPS coordinates and other updates as they come in from the Water Project, so that we can celebrate alongside the community that we've supported!

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave 
me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in." Matthew 25:25



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Celebr-EIGHT!

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Ella went to the roller rink for a friend's birthday party last year and hasn't stopped talking about it since. Other than strap-on skates in the kitchen, that was her only experience with being on wheels. I've known for at least six months that it was her plan for the party, but her vision was a little different from mine. We were laying in bed, browsing Pinterest several months ago and I mentioned to Josh how much the roller rink would cost and how many kids were included in the party package. Ella looked at me like I had three heads. She said pretty definitively, "I do NOT want to invite fifteen kids". It turns out, she was thinking we would have a few friends over to skate and spend the night. I was thrilled to hear the party was much smaller and more economical than I previously envisioned!

She only invited her three best friends (and one ended up with strep throat and couldn't make it), so we went with digital e-vites this year. You know the paper snob in me was just DYING, but it seemed silly to have 25 invitations printed and only mail 3 of them. She was very specific about the color-scheme and this is what we came up with!

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Since we would be skating on Saturday night, I decided to order pizza and feed the girls before we left the house. Instead of doing a ton of decorations, we just fancied up the dining table for breakfast the following morning. She wanted lots of sparkle and glitz, so we re-used these centerpieces from her 2nd birthday party (you can see the original setup here, here and here). They have been on a shelf in our laundry room since then and Josh gives me constant grief about their necessity in our lives. Clearly, he didn't realize they were going to be perfect six years later! Even funnier? She wore that same tutu on her second birthday, too.

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Since we were having a slumber party, I knew the thing to do for party favors was to have matching sleep-shirts for the girls. Ella probably couldn't care less, but I had visions of sweet little girls in matching t-shirts. Of course I called Amy, at Tootlebugs, who is my monogrammer extraordinaire and she whipped them right up. Fortunately for me, her husband works across the street from my office so he is always bringing me treasures at work! Ella also wanted glow bracelets and necklaces for the girls to wear at the rink, so I picked up buckets from the dollar bin at Target and filled them with tinsel for a little more sparkle on the table.

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Since we would be eating birthday cake for breakfast, I grabbed muffins, donuts, OJ and chocolate milk and we planned for a little breakfast feast at 8 o'clock in the morning. Ella had a pint of mint-chocolate chip in the freezer and decided that no cake is complete without ice cream.

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Since we were only having a few friends over, I decided not to go overboard on the birthday cake this year. Malinda made us a layered, six inch cake with ombre ruffles and it was perfect. We had just enough for breakfast and a few slices left over for family lunch at my parents' on Sunday. It was delicious!!

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Here are the girls after they were all changed into their shirts and ready for bed. Seriously, how adorable are they all? They were exhausted from skating and ready to watch a movie by the time we got home and settled in for the night.

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I had set up an air mattress in Ella's room and used our extra set of pretty sheets and quilts so that everything would be perfect. Of course, they bundled up on the couch to watch Dolphin Tale and when we checked on them at ten o'clock, they looked like dominos. Ella was laying down at one end of the couch and then everyone was leaning on her! I can't believe they slept all night like that. Sophie marched into our room around six and announced, " I can NOT sleep on that couch any longer!" and fell back asleep with us for a bit.

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After the other girls were up and had some time to play, we sang the birthday song and had a very non-traditional breakfast. Who says cake isn't perfect first thing in the morning?!

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Can you tell how happy about the day she was?

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These girls were so sweet and had such a great time together. Eight was the perfect age to introduce the slumber party and the girls all got along so well. They were pretty cranky and tired by the time their mommas picked them up, so I hope they got a nap just as long as the one my girls took! The best part for me? I was able to completely clean up and put away the decorations after breakfast while the girls played on the trampoline. Three cheers for a clean house post-party!!

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This is the very first party I have EVER hosted for my girls where K didn't photograph the event. It seemed silly to have her over first thing in the morning on a Saturday and I'm sure she appreciates it! Fortunately, the poor lighting in our dining room didn't cause too much havoc and I manged to capture many photos of my girl and the girls she loves best.