Party Time!

First, I would like to apologize for my absence from my blog. Life has been so crazy lately! Not only am I raising 3 boys, but I recently launched my own business, Maggie S. Photography, and planned Luke's 3rd birthday. I have hardly hadtime to sit down. So, here I am to share with you one of the things I have been up to lately- Luke's Party.

I wanted Luke's 3rd birthday to be something fun and festive. I began planning it back in August- looking around and getting ideas. I decided on a carnival where we could play outside and have lots of activities for the kids. I found a great inspiration- Kara's Party Ideas. Kara had the cutest, over-the-top carnival birthday I have ever seen. I only hoped mine would be half as cute as hers.

I love invitations. I remember reading, while planning my wedding, that the invitation is the first impression of your event. I have taken this to heart and I always make the invitation a priority. I recently discovered beDubci Designs by Tiffany Culver. Tiffany creates the cutest stuff! She creates a completely custom invitation, just for you! I contacted her as soon as I had the carnival idea, and Ithink she was as excited about it as me. She came up with a super-cute invitation for Luke's party! Next on the agenda: shopping! I was able to find so much cute stuff at Hobby Lobby- games, banners, and cardboard serving pieces. I also found some things at Party City. One of my favorite things about the party was the cotton candy! My boys love cotton candy, so I decided it was a must for the party. I got some cotton candy in plastic tubs and Tiffany made the cutest labels for it! I only wish more people would have taken it home so my boys wouldn't have to eat it all! I found that with a carnival theme you could have nothing but food and candy! Hot dogs, popcorn, animal crackers, cotton candy, corn dogs! We could have feasted all day long! I tried my hardest to talk Luke into corn dogs at his party, but he absolutely insisted on "party chicken," or as most of us know it, Chick-fil-a. It is always a big hit as it was at his party. We did have animal crackers on the tables too, which many of the kiddos enjoyed.

Luke's party turned out to be perfect! It was the most beautiful day, 75 degrees and sunny! We had a Jupiter jump, lots of games, food and cake. I think all the kids had fun, and I hope the grownups did too. Last week I kept saying, "After Luke's party I can do (insert any chore or errand)." But now that Luke's party is over, it is time to start planning Ben's first birthday party!!! I should add party planner to ever-growing list of requirements for being the perfect housewife!


My Three Wishes

For my 9th birthday I took some friends to see the new Disney movie- Aladdin. I liked the movie, but what I really loved was to dream about what my three wishes would be. I remember lying in bed at night coming up with my grand plan of what I would wish for. Looking back, I think nine might be a little old for believing that I might find a magic lamp with a genie inside, but it kept me dreaming!

So, the consensus on my three wishes was some variation of this:

Wish 1: I wished to be 30.
Wish 2: I wished to have a family- husband and children.
Wish 3: I wished to have a house.

Here is why:

Even when I was 9 years old I was ready to grow up. Why, you might ask? This will lead you to wish number 2.

Wishing for a family could be considered two wishes (husband and children), but in my mind I made it one! I have been wanting to be married with babies since I was 9 years old. I used to pretend I was pregnant ALL the time! I had the perfect ball to put under my shirt, and I would play pregnant lady all day long! I was a weird kid, I know! So, my family hasn't been too surprised by me being pregnant most of my married life.

Wish number three was a house for my 30 year-old self and my family. I love houses, always have. I was introduced to looking through the real estate section of the newspaper when I was seven and my parents were house hunting. It has been a favorite activity of mine ever since then. I love everything about houses. I love real estate, I love decorating, and I dream of doing a total gut-job to a house.

I was reflecting on my life today and thought back to my wishes. How lucky am I? I got all of my wishes (minus the being 30 part)! I am twenty-six years old with the most wonderful husband, three beautiful, healthy little boys and a cute little house. Everything from here on out is just icing on the cake! I truly am living my dream, and sometimes I need to sit back and remember that so I can appreciate every minute of it!


Dreaming of Vacation

Life with three little boys keeps me pretty busy. My house is loud, chaotic, and there is a never-ending list of things I should be doing (laundry, dishes, more laundry). When I choose to ignore this list, one of my favorite things to do is look for vacation destinations.

It relaxes me to even dream of being able to go to the beach and lay there reading my chick-lit without anyone telling me to cook them breakfast or get them more milk. The past couple of weeks I have been looking for places to go, so I thought it would make a good post.

I love to travel. I used to consider myself a world traveler, but since the kiddos I have evolved to more of a close-to-home traveler status. I would sign up for the Amazing Race in a heartbeat if I didn't have 3 little boys who I can't be away from. I think J.P. and I would totally dominate!

I have spent many a nap time researching places I would love to go. So, here is my list. Some are tried-and-true and some are new.

I was lucky to go here with my husband on our way home from India in 2005. I think I will spend the rest of my life trying to get back there. It is my heaven- turquoise waters, white sand beaches only accessible by boat or seaplane, shallow waters and sunsets to die for. We stayed at the One & Only Reethi Rah and it was over and above a 5 star experience. I have even trained my kids to say that they want to go to the Maldives. When flipping through travel magazines I find myself picking out pictures of The Maldives without even knowing where the picture was taken. I can't imagine a place more beautiful! I think J.P. will take me back someday, if only to make me stop asking!


We have taken two family trips to Seaside and have another one planned over Thanksgiving. I cannot imagine a more perfect family vacation. Seaside is a picturesque community reminiscent of the 1950s. It is made up mostly of homes- which is ideal for traveling with children (full kitchen, laundry, plenty of space). The town is centered around shops and restaurants. Everything is in walking distance, and a car will sit unused for the whole vacation. There are multiple pools as well as a gorgeous beach. While I was initially turned off because most of the houses are not beach-front, there are many that have rooftop decks which offer amazing views of the Gulf. I hope my children will grow up with many memories of summers spent in Seaside.


I think Greece would be the perfect compromise of vacation for J.P. and me. I love ocean and beaches, and he is a major history buff. We could stay somewhere overlooking the Mediterranean (like here) and then hop on over to Athens for some historical tours. Maybe someday...


While this is not really my dream vacation, it is what I am trying to cook up at the moment. J.P. and I could use a weekend away and we have tons of free flights in the U.S., so we find ourselves looking in Cali. I have found some gorgeous places, but am still looking for suggestions- send them my way!


I would love to do this just to say I did it! I am not a cold-weather person, I would probably complain the entire time, but I think it would be really cool to say I have been to Antarctica. However, I doubt it will ever top my priority list.

And just for fun, here are a few randoms...

Taj Mahal, Agra, India

Lake Tahoe

Now it's your turn to tell me your favorite place in the world! Where have you been that you would go back to over and over again if you could? Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world? I need new places to dream about!

PS- If you comment anonymously please include your name!


Baby Books

I realized that I truly am a housewife and mom tonight. The boys were in bed, my husband was out for the evening and what do I choose to do? I could have curled up on the couch with the latest chick flick or taken a hot bath with my book of the moment (Bergdorf Blondes). But what did I find myself doing? Rocking out to Pandora Radio while I worked on the boys' baby books.

In my first post I wrote about being an ideal wife. What I haven't talked about yet is being an ideal mother- even more of an impossibility than being the perfect wife in my opinion. There are many qualities of the "perfect mother" at which I do not claim to excel. But I do have one brag on myself: all three of my boys have baby books which are up-to-date.

When I was pregnant with Jack, my sister Lindsey gave me a baby book by Aimee J. She has since given me one for each of my other boys, and I think they are one of my favorite baby gifts ever! I am convinced it is the best baby book out there!
I wasn't always the best about keeping up with it. Before Jack's first birthday I made it my goal to get his updated, because Luke was on the way! Then I did the same thing for Luke. And, I have been totally on top of things with Ben's- which is really surprising since he is the third baby.

Each album comes with 20 scrapbook pages to help preserve your memories. The pages are: Mom and Dad's Story, Family Tree, Big News, Baby Showers, Big Arrival, Name, The World Today, First Home, First Times, Doctor Visits, Favorites, Friends, Bath Time, First Foods, First Haircut, First Holiday, First Birthday, and Gift List. I also ordered a package or the bordered pages to match the pages that come with each book so I can include lots of pictures. I have also created a few pages of my own- such as baptism and additional birthday and holiday pages.

I have really enjoyed making their baby books, and I thought I would share a few of my favorite pages with you:

Mom and Dad's Story- from Jack's book. I love that the book allows you to share pictures and stories from before babies! Look how young (and skinny) J.P. and I were!

Big Arrival- from Jack's book. I use this page for hospital pictures and birth announcements. Jack and Luke always like to look and see their hospital pictures from when they were born.

Big News page- from Luke's book. I use this page for pictures from being pregnant and ultrasounds. I know they will love to see how tiny they were!! First Birthday- from Luke's book. I have included their party invitations and pictures. I also added pages for each additional birthday. It makes me sad to see how much they have grown up already! Doctor's Visits- from Ben's book. This page will always have such a special place in my heart. I cry every time I look at it, but I know Ben will love to see what a tough baby he was through his journey with Craniosynostosis. I take great joy in knowing that my boys will be able to read their baby books when they get older and share them with their own children.

I had such a wonderful evening looking through their books and remembering how tiny they were and how far they have come already. It reminds me to take in the little moments everyday, because they will be grown up before I know it. Look at me getting all weepy- I really am a mom!


Ranch Houses and Minivans

Ranch houses and minivans- two things that would make most of my childless friends cringe! Since becoming a mom, I have begun to desire things I never thought I would. Practicality has become my priority. Don't get me wrong, I still judge things by how they look- sometimes too often- but I am having a harder and harder time passing up something that is practical. This is where my new found lust for 1950s suburban America comes in. I dream of parking my big ol' minivan (not station wagon) in the garage of my sprawling ranch house!

I have always said that I would NEVER drive a minivan. But, with three kids (and that means three car seats) it looks more appealing everyday. My husband is my saving grace in this department- he will not give in to the temptation and I am generally thankful! Currently I drive a Land Rover LR3, which I love! I love everything about it- but it just isn't big enough! It fits my family of 5, but that is all. Nobody else is allowed in my car. I need an easily accessible third-row seat. For this I have 2 options: minivan or suburban (or various other gigantic SUVs). I officially need a swagger wagon.

Now on to the ranch house desire. Ranch houses were very popular between 1940 and 1970. They are known for their single-level living, open floor plans and general livability. I lived in a ranch house until I was ten years old. I never appreciated all of the functionality of the house until I became a mom. I tell my husband frequently that I would do anything to buy that house. The features that I desire most are: large laundry room, over sized 2-car garage, playroom, flowing floor plan, closets (oh the closets!) and of course four bedrooms. The fact that everything is on one level is especially desirable when you have small children (like me).

I would like to think of myself as a cool, modern woman who would be driving a little sportscar if she could. But, the fact of the matter is, I am turning into your stereotypical "soccer mom" of the 21st century. I am still a little uncertain whether I should fight this metamorphosis or embrace it. Good thing we are not in the market for a house or a car at the moment, so I have some time to decide!

(PS- this is my very first attempt at Photoshop, so excuse the quality of the image above)


Airing My Dirty Laundry

Crayons have been providing children with colorful entertainment for years and years. I am now guessing that they have also been providing moms with headaches and extra work for just as long.

Every mom has had a kid color on the wall or on some piece of furniture. I learned as soon as Jack was big enough to hold a crayon that Mr. Clean Magic Eraser was a good tool to keep around the house for these mishaps. I also heard from some other moms that WD40 is the trick to getting crayon off the walls. Easy enough- we will keep the crayons.

Last week I ran down to my laundry room to grab the boys some clean pajamas out of the dryer. I opened the dryer and immediately noticed a big clump of green wax sitting right inside the door. I began to inspect the clothes, and sure enough there was crayon melted on every single piece of clothing in that load. The load consisted of all three of the boys colored clothing- so pretty much everything they wear! Ahhhhh!!!! Orange and green speckles were all over the clothes. It was too much for me to deal with at bedtime, so I grabbed their pajamas and closed the dryer.

The next day while they were at school I googled "Crayons in the dryer" and was overwhelmed with potions for getting crayon out of clothes and out of the dryer. So, I picked one and went to work. Luckily, the green crayon seemed to have melted right by the lent catcher, so it was a pretty easy clean up. I scraped up the wax with a credit card and then wiped down the dryer with WD40 and then soapy water. All clean! Now on to the tricky part.

I found a recipe for what I termed "magic potion" online. I went to the store to make sure I had all the proper ingredients. I came home, mixed it all up in my bathtub and soaked the clothes over night. Then I hand scrubbed the spots on everything I cared about (I am not too worried about underwear and pajamas having colorful spots) and put everything back in the washing machine for one last soak. A couple hours later I held my breath as I opened the dryer again, and Voila!!!! everything (almost) came clean!!!!

I had thrown in a few items that were not in that fateful load of laundry, but had been sitting in a pile labeled "stained." They all came clean too! So, I thought I should share my new magic potion for all of you out there.

Magic Laundry Potion:

2 cups Tide
1 cup Oxiclean
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
1 cup Shout!
1 cup White Vinegar

The only casualty of the situation was Jack's seersucker shorts. He was caught as the culprit "orange pocketed." Jack and Luke have now received a lecture in never putting crayons in their pockets. And I have learned my lesson about checking every single pocket!
It's all in a day's work as a modern housewife!!


Raising Boys

As a modern day housewife, and mother of three boys, I have quite a task ahead of me. I not only need to make sure they grow up without killing each other along the way, but I need to make sure they know how the 21st century really works. They need to know that women can fulfill many roles- not just the stereotypically female roles.

The trouble with this lies in the fact that I am a fairly traditional stay-at-home mom. I do all of the cooking and cleaning around the house. My husband does the yard work. The roles in our house are very traditional. While this works for us, I do not want my boys to grow up expecting this. I have a feeling by the time they get married it will be even more rare than today.

The moment I realized this might be more of a challenge than I had expected was on a beautiful spring day. I was sitting outside while Jack and Luke were playing in their cars. Jack came over to me, looked me in the face and said, "Get up out of that chair and bring me my food." The only thing missing from the statement was the word "woman" tacked on the end. I just about fell out of my chair with laughter, but it also caught my attention. Where had he learned to talk to me in such a way? I guarantee it was not from his Daddy!

In defense of Jack's manners, he is usually very good with please and thank you. He always asks to be excused from the dinner table and says, "Thank you for dinner, Mommy!" Although his comment was out-of-character, it was a little insight into the way his mind works.

A few weeks later we saw a woman doing yard work. Jack, in his very serious way, looked at me and said, "Women can't use weed eaters!" and gave a little chuckle like it was the funniest thing he had seen all day. It was then I realized that children pick up on roles in society from a very early age.

One more funny story to demonstrate how my little boys view the world. I was talking to Jack and Luke about what they want to be when they grow up. Luke said to me, "I want to be a firefighter, a police officer, a mailman and a doctor." I said, "Wow! If you do all of those jobs then you might not have time to be a daddy." He replied, "I can do all of those jobs and you can be the mommy." Translation: You take care of me and the kids while I go off to my super-cool jobs.

So, it is my job, from here on out, to make sure that my boys learn about all the roles women can play. Women can be mommies, doctors, firefighters, teachers, and even yard workers. Although I play the mommy role at our house, I could be out taking the corporate world by storm. And, no matter what role somebody plays they should be treated with respect.


The Good Wife’s Guide

Many of you have seen "The Good Wife's Guide," which was published in Housekeeping Monthly in 1955. If you haven't, it is a must-read.

I remember the first time I read the guide. I was taking a Marriage and Family class at OSU-Tulsa, and the professor handed it out and everybody began to laugh. What crazy ideas!? I remember laughing myself, but at the same time thinking how wonderful it would be to live that kind of picture-perfect life. At the time, I was due to get married in about 6 weeks. I was 21 and ready to be the perfect bride and even more perfect wife! This would be my guide, with a few updates.

I thought I would follow these guidelines:

  • Have dinner ready. Easy enough. I am still pretty good at this one, even with three small children. I usually have dinner ready by 6:15- and I make his favorite meal regularly (probably because it is Jack's favorite meal too). Step one to being the perfect housewife- check!
  • Prepare Yourself. This sounds so wonderful, and I do put on makeup or a spritz of perfume occasionally. Although these days it is more like- "Get dressed so he doesn't know you stayed in pajamas all day." Maybe I will aspire to do this more often.
  • Clear away the clutter. This also sounds easy enough and ideal. Everyone likes to come home to a clean house, right? Well... between accomplishing step 1- having dinner ready- and having 2 toddlers running around (and an infant) this one is a definite failure these days. Maybe someday (like when the kids are in college).
  • Make him comfortable. While I never planned on fluffing a pillow and helping him take off his shoes, I did have the picture in my head of greeting him at the door with a drink and sitting down for a few minutes. This comes from tales of my mom's parents. My grandmother would greet my grandfather with a drink and they would have at least 15 minutes alone together (without kids) in the living room. If she could do it with 6 kids, why couldn't I? Well... my grandmother had full-time help. Maybe if I had a maid who cooked my family 3 meals a day and cleaned the house I would greet J.P. with his favorite drink everyday too. Another big, fat failure!

I knew, even then, that I would never follow these guidelines:

  • Make the evening his. Yes, my husband goes to work all day. I know work is stressful, and it is nice to come home and unwind. But, the fact-of-the-matter is, I have been home with 3 kids all day and the minute he walks in the door means I finally have some help.
  • Don't complain if he comes home late... even if he stays out all night. This one if just ridiculous, even in 1955. They still had phones, didn't they? Really!?
  • He is the master of the house. No, I don't think so. Enough said.
  • A good wife always knows her place. In my case, my place is the same as the women of 1955- barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen! J

I started out with the intentions of being the perfect wife, mother and housewife. I would love to be able to do all of the things I envisioned, but it just isn't going to happen. Maybe someday I will be able to have a few minutes of peace and quiet with my husband when he gets home from work. In the meantime I will do my best to merge these ideals with the realities of the 21st century.