weekday snaps | life lately

ya'll.  life has been so busy!  between work, raising babies, and simply going through the motions of life we have hardly had time to sit.  
so.  heres whats new.
last weekend we had Nicole of mrs wilson's restorations at the house almost every day.  she installed this beauty and I cant stop looking at it.
when we moved in there was this random space when you walked into the house from the garage and I'm not sure of the original homeowners had plans for this space and never did it?  after 3+ years in our house we finally made the plans to get it finished.  I was tired of backpacks and shoes and carseats just hanging out in piles near the door.  
give me some organization, please.
Baker's closet is next on the list.. it is the most unfunctional space in the house.  I'll share more on that when we get that little project complete (should be this next week!)
 scoot scoot scoot.  basically my frequent floor duster.  it won't be long before she figures out how to get up on all fours to move around, but she's got the army crawl slash windmill movements down pat to get where she is going. 
 two words: growth spurt. 
I found myself googling "six month growth spurt" because she's been wanting to nurse almost every two hours and then eating like a horse on top of all that.  the other night I was making veggie burgers for the big girls and threw a couple squares on her tray.  she.loved.it!!  these are our favorite (premade) veggie burger and we buy them in bulk at costco:) 
I eat them with a little hummus or guacamole for lunch.. and now Baker will, too!
 ..so many bubble baths.  Baker is basically trying to crawl out of the sink, so those won't last much longer, I'm sure. which is such a bummer because she's a hot mess after meal times and its easiest to just stick her in the sink after peeling her our of her highchair.
and more bubble baths.  sometimes when J is at the fire station for 24 hours we spend an hour or so in the tub.  basically until their little fingers are pruney and their teeth are chattering.  they love it and its been awhile since we've done that. 

 I skipped the red in my hair this go round at the salon.  although this picture still says 'a hue of red'.. its more dark brown.  being outside so much over this last month because of the random spring like weather the red was fading really fast.. I was ready for a change.  
also.. my favorite bar necklace got the upgrade.  I had one that just read the initials of my girls "bb + pj + jg" and I wanted one that had their full names "jolie + parker + baker". 
 shine life delivered beautifully, once again.  
 I had a much needed girls night out with a good friend.  Andrea's birthday was this week and she and I met at the nail salon for a little pampering and then had dinner afterward.  I wish I could make my life work in such a way that I could do something like this every single week. I had such a good time with her- really good for my soul.
 J sent these pics to me while I was at work this week.  my silly girl.  makes my day away a little bit sweeter when I know she's having such a good day at home with her dad.
also.. that blanket was made by Jordan's aunt Judy when the twins were born.  I am not very sentimental about keeping things, but there is something special about seeing her play on the same blankets that P+J played on when they were her age.  I'll never get over that feeling.
 Parker and Jolie have started this thing where they stick up for each other..err.. put claim on one another?  I don't even know what to call it, actually.   
'this is my sister.'  
'be nice my sister.'
'thats my sister.'
I'm definitely loving this.  and the bond that they share with Baker is unreal.  the big girls walk in the room and Baker basically looses it with excitement.  they are so helpful and so very interested in sharing, showing, teaching, and playing with Baker.
I mean.. those sweet faces.
 too. big.  what is happening here.  she's big enough to sit in a grocery cart (almost) unassisted.  and TWO.   theres only one of her.  
I would take like eleven of Baker. no joke.
we went to the rodeo this week- and its exactly as you would picture it to be.
barrel racing, calf tying, bull riding.. the whole bit and the big girls loved it!
my company buys out a couple sections every year so we can all go and bring our families and this was the first year I was able to go.  we made a night out of it and took the big girls to dinner before hand while Baker stayed home with her BB and Papa.  we hadn't gotten this time with just the two of them since before the littlest sister was born, so this was a good good good time. 
 ..and this gem popped up on my time hop this week.  Oh my goodness.  I pray so hard this girl never changes.  ever. 
so- there we have it.  life lately in a nutshell. 
happy fri-YAY!  I hope this weekend is a great one- XO!


WE EAT | mexi-rice (super) taco bowl

there has been lots of talk in the foodie world about one of the greatest food holidays quickly approaching.  
I know you have heard of it.
I do love football- a lot.  more than my husband, probably..maybe. 
part of me doesn't even care who makes it to the big game.. okay, nearly all of me.  but for real, I just want to know what fun things we are going to eat! 
over the weekend I made this yummy mexican taco bowl and as I was dipping my tortilla chip rather than using a fork I thought to myself- this would be SO EASY to make for a crowd and serve it as a heavy appetizer for the game day festivities.  
MexiRice (Super) Taco Bowl
adapted from: the garlic diaries 
3 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup quick cooking rice or quinoa
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons taco seasoning (or make your own below)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 red bel pepper, diced
1 jalapeno (minced- seeds and ribs removed)
1 medium red onion, diced
1 can black beans, rinsed + drained
1 can mexicorn blend, drained
3/4 or 1 cup of taco cheese blend
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream or greek yogurt
tortilla chips for dipping
preheat your oven to 400 degrees. toss together the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft.  Remove from oven and set aside.
For the rice or quinoa- cook according to package directions, using the broth as your liquid.
Meanwhile, add your veggies to the skillet- peppers and onion - and sauté until soft and the onions
are fragrant and golden.  add in the ground turkey with a little olive oil.
When your turkey is almost done, stir in the taco seasoning.  Add in the corn and the beans.
stirring to combine and allow to simmer.
Drain the rice/quinoa to remove excess moisture (as needed).  Combine the rice, cheese (set aside a little for sprinkling on top) and reserved butternut squash with the veggie and meat mixture.

Stir everything together until fully combined. Taste and add any seasoning you think it needs
Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the mixture and then top with Greek yogurt (or sour cream) and chopped cilantro.  
 don't be fooled by the long ingredients list or the step by step directions..  I promise that your tummy will be exceptionally delighted.  I often make my own taco seasoning and keep it in an empty mason jar.
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
SO easy!  but its also easy to buy the little packet next to the taco shells and green chilies:)
utensils are optional.
chips to dip are required.
what are you serving this weekend?? here are a few of my game day favorite recipes!


toddler essentials

..and I'm back.  the combination of a quick work trip + sleep training my six month old had me exhausted last week, but well worth the last four days of her sleeping 7pm to 7am.  thats no joke.  more on that later:)

today I'm talking about toddler..err.. my three year old essentials + favorites!  I love these kind of posts and I haven't done one for the big girls in a long time.  things have changed as these girls have grown so much in the last year and out side of their constant move from favorite toy to their new favorite toy to the must have favorite toy..
tiny my little pony figurines aka ponytails and peppa pig rule our life this week.
b u t
these essentials remain in our every single day!
the nuby step stool makes my life so much easier when the big girls are in a panic for the potty and I am three minutes away from getting Baker to sleep for a much needed and prayed for afternoon nap.  this stool is used for everything- including turning on the bathroom light (or the playroom) and for helping get themselves situated on the potty without taking a dunk in the toilet.
I've talked about l'il critters gummy vites  (here) and we continue to love taking our gummy vitamins on a daily basis.  they usually take them in the morning with breakfast ...or if I forget (which happens often!) we take them with dinner.  just a little extra boost of nutrition, especially if its been a particularly off day and my babes are extra picky when it comes to mealtimes. Jo has become exceptionally sensitive when it comes to her skin.. which is so strange because Parker is the one with extra fare skin and we have taken a lot of care to make sure her skin is well nourished.. that being said- poor Jolie has had a hard time with random foods flaring up her eczema (mainly on her back and tummy) and we steer clear of pants and shirts that have a tag or panties with a thick elastic waistband- which, as a sidenote, brings me to another favorite- the carter's stretch panties are super soft, tagless and have zero itchy waistband for Jolie's sake.. 
..anyway, I had a fellow mama friend recommend california baby and when browsing their products I came across their eczema cream.  literally she sees relief within moments of application.
our pigtails have become a regular accessory and our favorite way to dress them up come from the lovely free babes.  she makes the most girlie and dainty hair clips (and bands for the littlest) and I LOVE them. the hand-tied look is so classic.  and her colors are amazing!
I cannot go without mentioning the oxo tot foldable booster.  We sold off the twins' highchairs we used for three solid years and traded them in for these big girl booster seats.  while I can appreciate how much room I have in my kitchen since we got rid of those two chairs and just have one + boosters, the girls love their new place at the table.
while we are talking about mealtime (sort of..) the camelbak eddy kids water bottle  and smart planet lunch box have been AWESOME favorites lately.  I mentioned these lunch boxes in my preschool favorites post right before the twins started school back in august, but we use them much more than just for school.  I take these to the park with snacks and or pack a picnic lunch for while we are out and about.  I just throw a coupe of these ice packs on the bottom and we are good to go!  they are also easy to use and for the girls to eat out of while we are in the car.  as far as the water bottles are concerned.. my kids drink a lot of water.  Jolie will down 3-5 bottles/day while Parker is more like two or three throughout the day.  I like these bottles because they hold quite of bit of water and will usually last us through a trip for errands or while the twins are at school.  they also fold shut and don't leak!  I do not look forward to being in the 'leaky sippy cup' stage with Baker... 

I know I didnt cover everything.. what are some favorites that you love for your toddler aged littles?


photo every hour | road trip

I had a last minute client meeting scheduled yesterday morning in houston, so on monday afternoon while the twins stayed with their bb and papa, Jordan and Baker tagged along as we made our way south for a quick road trip... and by quick I mean like twenty-four hours:) 

(good night!)


we eat | one pot sausage + meatball ziti

second week in a row for pasta.  we haven't eaten this much pasta since before I got pregnant with Baker baby.  a few weeks back the bestie sent me a link for a delicious one-pot pasta meal she made in a snap.  in a snap??  um, yes.  I legit had one pan to clean at the end of this meal.  thats what I'm talking about!  now that Baker is eating food- the addition of a highchair to hose down in the evenings just adds to the post-dinner chaos and clean up.. so having the least amount of dishes to clean when its all said and done is optimal.   
this meal did not disappoint!  I ate it for breakfast the next day. 
yes.  yes I did.
 one-pot sausage + meatball ziti
1 pound ground Italian sausage (I used just one roll)
12 ounce package fully cooked chicken meatballs 
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (add it at the end)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 cups water
16 ounces ziti
1cup half and half or heavy cream
1 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper + salt to taste as needed
Add olive oil to a deep, 12-inch or larger skillet over medium heat. Add sausage cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the meatballs, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil and oregano. Stir well. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes.
Add the water and dry pasta. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a low boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until noodles are tender.
Stir in the half and half, and parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with additional parmesan sprinkles over top. 
 the original recipe called for the ziti to be sprinkled with mozzarella cheese and then baked for a handful of minutes to melt, but by the time we have everyone wrangled to the dinner table- I skipped that additional step and served it straight off the stove.  
one tip I might add is to use really good parmesan cheese.  I used to watch barefoot contessa with Ina Garten on the food network and couldn't stand it when she would talk about 'good olive oil' or 'really good parmesan cheese'. well, what is the difference, Ina? 
as I've become more seasoned in the kitchen- it does make a huge difference.  I caught myself saying this to a girlfriend the other day and realized that I can relate to you, Ina.  no more eye rolling from me when you talk about those good essential ingredients.
so.  that being said.. skip the $1.50 bag of parmesan hanging next to the velveeta and peruse the fancy cheese selection in your store for good parmesan cheese.  a favorite in my local grocery store is six bucks.  
worth every penny and I use in in everything!

most likely you have a lot (or all) of these ingredients already in your pantry- 
so.. whats for dinner tonight? 
you don't even have to ask!


the end of an era + a day with four kids

37 and 1/2 years.  papa retired from the fire department on Saturday and boy was he loved, respected, honored, and totally considered a man to look up to.  when a guy retires from the fire department- there is a ceremony.  there is the flag presentation.. and there are lots of people to send off the retiree into the best years of his life:)  we got to witness all this over the weekend and we couldnt be more proud of our papa.  
I have decided that the effort it takes to get a family photo of six adults and five babes under three to even look in the general direction is far less than realistic.
and thats okay. 
 these guys.  I've introduced them in a few past blog posts, but there are no greater family bonds than that of sharing blood AND the brotherhood.
aldon (nephew) + brian (nephew) + papa roy (patriarch) + jordan (son) + josh (nephew)
they all wore their 'dress blues' per the request of Roy for his retirement party- and they look sharp!
the final lowering and the presentation of the flag.  Roy asked if Jordan could be the one to present the flag to him- and you could have heard a pin drop.  the station hosting this party was actually Jordan's station- on one of the busiest streets of the city.. and you couldnt be bothered with a single car driving by.  It was awesomely honorable to be able to witness such a thing.  the babes werent totally sure what was going on at the moment and Jo ran out to stand next to her daddy while the flag was lowered and folded by the IFD honor guard. 

the other part of our day.. G Man!  His mama was busy hosting a shower for her little brother who is set to get married over Easter weekend- so we were on baby duty while she was on her A game.  although he was outnumbered, he was the perfect little tagalong!  
 Baker was happy as a clam to be with her boyfrann.  
ya'll.  this is a thing.  
so get ready for years of #bakerlovesgrayson.
 the big girls ran around like crazy kiddos- they love love love the fire station and everything about it and have spent plenty of time there and know the ropes.  the first thing they asked for when we walked in was "can I have some of dada's cookies?'
cookies at the fire station are like a no brainer.
but, they both quickly realized that the very best part about any retirement celebration..
the cake.  
 Baker was a doll baby.  passed around by all the firemen and their wives that always make me beet red in the face when they tell me that they LOVE to follow us on Facebook.  
..including this guy right here.. Jordan's captain.  the twins love Wade and now Baker is a big fan, too! 
 after the fire station celebration we headed out for dinner with all the close family and friends to keep the party going.  I snapped a quick pic to document the baby explosion in our reasonably sized car that all of the sudden felt incredibly tiny.  
 after a long day, the babes were zonked.  we came home and put the big girls right to bed and then tackled the bed time routines of a couple of teeny 6 month olds together before Auntie came to pick up Grayson after her party had ended.
way too much cute right there.
 s u n d a y
after such a busy satruday, sunday morning was slow moving.  we played hooky from church and made pancakes instead. 
Baker was a fan!
we attempted for an early afternoon nap, but it was a no-go.. so we loaded up and made a sam's run for the essentials like fruity pebbles + diaper genie refills in bulk.  the babes enjoyed the snacks.  I was delivered with an entire sample of greek yogurt on my boots and my half drank caffeine free diet coke Jolie slurped down when I wasn't looking.
these kids.
 on our way home we made a pit stop at the park to let them run off some steam..
 and the sweetest little bunny to play her baby heart out.  she loves being outside- and everything is hilarious right now..so she chuckled (literally) for two hours.
 then it was home for a hearty sunday dinner!
sunday dinner is like the best meal of the week.  I cant wait to share this one with you.. its made in its entirety in that one single pan.

 I need a weekend for my weekend.  and an ice pack for my right bicep because it is SO SORE from carrying around a baby (or two) for hours. 
happy monday to you!! 
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