21 Sundresses To Wear All Summer

When I think of summer, I think of sunshine, lemonade, vacation and sundresses! I wear a sundress almost every day during the summer because, A) it’s EASY, B) it’s sooo hot outside and sundresses let my skin breathe, and C) they can be worn wherever your day takes you. I like no-brainers when I’m entertaining four little people every day. 🙂

I’ve been looking for a few dresses to add to my summer wardrobe and I’ve fallen in love with Old Navy’s dress collection. Sweet, light, colorful, easy … perfect. Now to narrow it down. Ahh!

 

Fit & Flare Cami Dress (in Green Palm Leaf)

High-Neck Maxi Dress (in Hijinks Pinks)

Tiered Dobby Swing Dress (in The Cerulean Life)

 

Fit & Flare Halter Dress (in White)

Ruffle-Trim Tencel Dress (in Light Wash)

Embroidered-Trim Dress (in Sea Anemone)

 

Off-the-Shoulder Floral Shift Dress (in Green/White Floral)

Embroidered-Yoke Linen-Blend Shift Dress (in Calla Lillies)

Fit & Flare Pintuck Dress (in Out On A Lime)

Pom-Pom-Trim Swing Dress (in Blue Paisley)

Lightweight Crochet-Trim Swing Dress (in Calla Lillies)

One-Shoulder Swing Dress (in Navy Stripe)

Off-Shoulder Eyelet Shift Dress (in Black)

Printed Pintuck Swing Dress (in Navy Blue Print)

Embroidered Swing Dress (in Heather Gray)

Eyelet-Trim Fit & Flare Midi Dress (in The Cerulean Life)

Sleeveless V-Neck Maxi Dress (in White)

Linen-Blend Swing Dress (in Golden Opportunity)

Fit & Flare Cami Dress (in Blue Floral)

 

Ruffled Cold-Shoulder Dress (in Red Floral)

Crochet-Trim Swing Dress (in Creme De La Creme)

Which one is your favorite? They all make me excited for our summer adventures to begin! Here’s to dining al fresco, watching the sunset, exploring new places and soaking up the sunshine!

Love (and stay cool) more,

Dana

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation for purchases made through those links, at no cost to you. Thank you for helping support my little blog!

Red Noses For Some Good Fun!

One of my parent goals is to teach my boys to be generous in giving. I know they see Jeff and me giving to charities here and there, and twice a year they clean out their toys and clothes to donate, but I’m always looking for other ways to show them ways to give.

When I heard about Red Nose Day, I knew it would be a FUN way to get them involved and in the giving spirit. We bought our red noses at Walgreens and popped them on for some silly pictures to help spread the word.

The idea is that the nose is funny, it makes you smile, and it shows you that giving can be done in a fun way. The Red Nose Day campaign is run by the non-profit Comic Relief. They want their fundraisers to be “fun-raisers,” and their motto is “Laugh. Give. Save a kid.” 🙂

One of the ways I wanted my boys to be involved, besides wearing the silly red noses, was to give a donation. The Red Nose Day site and lists several examples of what a donation can do for a child in need. I LOVE THIS!

This gives a visual of what the donation is actually doing. The boys can choose what they’d like to donate from their banks by thinking about what they’d like to help provide.

Some examples of things a donation can provide through Red Nose Day participation:

  • $1= 11 meals for hungry children through the Feeding America food banks
  • $4= anti-malarial net to protect a mother and her child
  • $5= antibiotics to treat a child with pneumonia
  • $10= a safe place for an at-risk child to go during the summer and after school
  • $30= access to clean water for a person in Uganda
  • $100= food, clothing, shelter, and medical care to help get a child off the street

I’m hoping to make this an annual family event, and something they look forward to each year. And, fingers crossed, something that will stick with them as they become (gulp!) men.

*The Red Nose Day TV Special is Thursday, May 25, at 9 p.m. on NBC. It’s a live event with tons of celebrities and comedians coming together to help children in need. (I’m recording the event for my boys to watch Friday for our movie night.)

This is a clip from the 2016 Red Nose Day Special, featuring Ludacris. When the little boy says he pushes in his stomach at night to get rid of the hunger pangs … whew. This is every school, in every town. There are children all around us who are hungry. And we can all help somehow. Even little boys with just a few dollars in their piggy banks.

If you participate in Red Nose Day, I’d love to see some pics!! Share them in the comments below or on 39ish Life’s Facebook page!

Love (and smile while you give) more,

Dana

 

I Just Made Our Last Preschool Payment … I Should Be Happy

There are so many reasons I should be celebrating. Making that last preschool payment should make me want to jump for joy! It means we have extra money each month to spend elsewhere. It means we have officially graduated from pull-ups and sippy cups. It means all my kiddos are old enough to make their own snacks, put on their own shoes and buckle themselves up in the car.

Those are all good things that definitely make me smile. But, then my heart feels heavy and my eyes fill with tears. No more rocking a baby to sleep. No more wearing a little one in a sling across my chest. No more first steps, or first time riding a tricycle, or meeting the first preschool teacher.

I know it’s just life. Letting go of one phase and moving to the next. It happens all the time, to everyone. And the next phase always brings such wonderful, unexpected things with it. I know, I know.

It just hurts today. It makes me sad to be exiting the beautiful, crazy phase of babies and toddlers. The sweet innocence. The complete wonderment. The sleepness nights that turn into yummy morning cuddles. The plethora of firsts you witness as your little human soaks up this world around him. And the chubby little fingers wrapped around yours as they cling to you for comfort. Oh, my goodness, those little fingers. Whew.

I should be happy that we’re leaving behind those things that tend to be so burdensome when you have toddlers … the constant packing up of the car, the required outside time to burn energy, the messy house, the tantrums.

But, I didn’t mind packing a diaper bag, stroller and, let’s be honest, half of the house when we left to go anywhere because it meant I had a squishy little baby on my hip. And I still bring half the house with us, but now it’s a thermal tote of snacks instead of a diaper bag, a fold-up wagon full of baseball bags and bats instead of a stroller, and their personal backpacks full of trucks, books, homework, tablets, headphones, and more snacks.

And I’ve always been happy to go outside and blow bubbles and get dirty whenever they wanted, because it meant at that moment I was outside in the sunshine with them and not working.

The messy house is still a messy house, it’s just changing. Instead of blocks and stuffed animals being dumped everywhere, it’s Legos and mini figures.

And those tantrums … yea, I’m glad we’re slowly moving out of the toddler meltdown stage. Although, I’ve learned tween drama isn’t a walk in the park either. 🙂

I know awesome things are to come when my little ones aren’t so little anymore. I know it will make parts of our lives so much easier. I know I should be thankful they are healthy and growing and changing. Yep, I know all that.

But, today I’m gonna hold my preschooler on my lap, have a little Mommy cry, and take a mental picture of this sweet child’s hands holding onto me.

Love (and kiss those little hands) more,

Dana

My Current Obsessions: Spring 2017

I’m always so excited when spring arrives! There’s something about it that wakes us all up and makes my whole house a brighter place. My boys want to be outside running around, blowing bubbles and playing with the gazillion baby lizards that have hatched. It just makes them happier! And these are some of the fun things that I’m loving (OK, obsessing about) and are making Mommy a happier girl this spring!

Summer Song Dress from Cute And Comfy Boutique: A sweet college friend recently opened this online boutique, and I couldn’t wait to check it out. I was hooked as soon as I saw the first page. Everything is pretty and feminine and flowy — a perfect combination of style and comfort (yesssss!). I was so excited to get this dress to wear on Easter, and it will be my go-to dress for upcoming occasions this spring and summer. And, guess what? As a sweet treat for my 39ish Lifers, you can use the special code 39ISHLIFE at checkout and save 10% off your order! Happy Spring!

 

Wide-Brim Panama Hat from Old Navy: I’ve always been a baseball cap girl, and still love them for casual days and sporting events, but I’m currently enamored with this panama hat. It completely steps up your OOTD … and, bonus, it covers up your “I haven’t showered since Tuesday” hair. Win-Win. Find it (and other similar options) at Oldnavy.com.

 

LipSense Lip Color/Gloss: I’ve been hearing good things about this product on social media and finally had the chance to try it out. LOVE. IT. I’m wearing the Caramel Apple in the pic below, and I’m going to get Roseberry next. It’s completely different than any lip product I’ve ever used. You start with dry lips, apply 3 layers of color (you’ll feel a little tingle as they settle), then apply the gloss. Voila! You have killer color ALL DAY. Seriously. One less thing to think about as we run through our day … yes, please. Jump in Serena’s Facebook group and see more colors, tips, specials, etc. 🙂

 

“You Made Me a Mother” Children’s Book: “I realized that I would spend my life doing things to make you happy. And that would make me happy.” Cue the tears. Whew. My little sister gave this to me and it’s just THE sweetest book about becoming a mommy, and I cry every single time I read it. Big, fat, wonderful, happy tears.

 

Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream: This is all I’ve been wearing on my skin this spring. No foundation, no powder. It’s lightweight, but makes everything look smoother and more even-toned. At 39ish, I need that, but I don’t want anything thick and heavy. This does the trick.

 

Sling Back Bag from Thirty-One Gifts: I’ve been using a small crossbody purse for months and needed a little more room, but liked the ease of wearing a crossbody. Enter the Sling Back Bag. It can be worn over a shoulder like a conventional purse, but I wear it across my body so I have full use of my arms and hands for wrangling four little boys. 🙂

 

“Trolls” movie and soundtrack: Yep, I admit it. I looove this movie. My boys and I rented it from Redbox a few months ago, kept it an extra day so we could watch it again, then went to Toys “R” Us that weekend and bought it. My mom gave Finley the soundtrack for his 4th birthday a few weeks ago and we have listened to it in the car nonstop. Cute movie + Justin Timberlake = Done.

What fun things are you obsessing about this season? I hope they make your days easier, brighter and happier!

Love (and treat yourself to something happy) more,

Dana

*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive compensation for purchases made through those links. Thanks for helping this girl keep her blog alive. 🙂

7 Things I Learned From Watching a Pregnant Giraffe For 2 Months

The addiction began in mid-February. I saw a Facebook post about Animal Adventure Park live-streaming the upcoming birth of a giraffe on YouTube and thought it would be an amazing thing to see. What a great nature lesson for my boys! So, I kept the laptop open on the dining room table and we refreshed the page throughout the day and once more on our way to bed each night. I just knew it was going to happen at any moment! Two months later, we did finally get to see the breathtaking birth, and I realized I had learned quite a few things from staring at a pregnant giraffe for two months.

  1. A female will do everything on her own terms. Even in the animal kingdom, females prove time and again that we know what’s best for our bodies. April the Giraffe was in no rush to deliver her calf, and no amount of hay or treats or viewer begging was going to make it happen until she was ready. I think she may have even been playing with us, throwing in a few fake contractions for added drama. Or that may have been gas. Either way, that girl was running the show.
  2. Giraffes, like moms, never sleep. No matter what time of day or night I was watching the screen, April was awake. Her caretakers assured the viewers this was normal, so we could all stop worrying about her lack of sleep. Every once in a while I’d see her awkwardly sit down (I thought she was going to fall or break her legs EVERY time), but the poor girl only closed her eyes for short increments here and there, never settling down for a nice long stretch. It took me right back to my end-of-pregnancy days when I couldn’t get comfortable, and my giant belly and wandering mind kept me awake. And now, even without a prego belly, my mama duties and to-do lists still keep me from snoozing. You are all of us, April.
  3. Nature is amazing … and totally laughs at us. We are so accustomed to the process of human births, with our due dates and inductions and birthing coaches. To watch a completely natural, wild animal labor and birth (something most of us would never see in our lifetime) was a bit surreal. I was stunned by her calm demeanor, even when having obvious contractions, and then again when the baby was being born. I kept wanting someone to rub her back or give her some ice chips. I had to remind myself this is how it goes down when there isn’t a camera, or a human birth plan, in place.
  4. Boys are boys. I’m a mama to four boys, and while they’re all very different, they all have something in common — their need to play! The male giraffe that was partnered with April was kept in a separate area during the last part of her pregnancy. Many viewers questioned this, until the zookeepers let him in her stall while they cleaned his, and then we understood. Oliver is a young bull and as the park owner explained, “A bull is a bull is a bull.” We were able to witness him jostling with her and trying to roughhouse, while I imagined her rolling her eyes and sighing as she walked away from him. Those silly boys…
  5. Animals bring people together in any circumstance. While all kinds of craziness was going on in our world, thousands of us were watching this sweet giraffe, her baby daddy, and her amazing zookeepers prepare for the new arrival. People from all over the world participated in live chats and joined Facebook groups dedicated to April. Leave it to a four-legged creature to calm us all down and make us remember how to like each other.
  6. YouTube is more than music videos and Minecraft tutorials. Before we kept April’s YouTube page open for two straight months, we really only went to YouTube to watch a music video (usually with the lyrics so I could finally sing along) or for my boys to learn yet another Minecraft secret from DanTDM. I never thought of it as an educational tool. Will be using this come Science Fair time. Shh!
  7. I could now identify a giraffe’s nether region in a line-up. Every time that tail popped up, I leaned in and stared. (You know you did too!) My boys and I played the “What’s it gonna be?” game … baby hooves or poop? And every time it was poop, our shoulders dropped and we moaned like a 2-year-old at bedtime. And when it finally was hooves, I couldn’t. look. away. Oh, yea. I’ll never be able to unsee that.

(Photos via Facebook.com/AnimalAdventurePark)

Who would have ever thought streaming a live video of a pregnant giraffe would turn in to all this? I know my little family will remember this whole experience for years to come, from checking on her progress as soon as they woke up each morning to the exciting birth on that Saturday morning during my 6-year-old’s baseball game! They may be slightly scarred by seeing her lap up the puddle of amniotic fluid, but hey, nature, right? 🙂

Love (and learn) more,

Dana

Get Active–And Look Good While You’re Out There!

*This post was first published on 1/4/17, and republished on 3/19/17. NEW sales are going on through the links provided.

The start of a new year always sparks ambitious resolutions, new life goals, and big plans and projects. Most of these usually have something to do with health or fitness. But, as we move toward spring, those goals sometimes start to fade. Whether you want to lose weight, get toned, improve flexibility (“I’m very bendy,” -Phoebe) or just get your butt off the couch and be active, you need to dress the part to make yourself do the work.

And because nothing motivates me more than a sale price, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite activewear deals happening right now. Get yourself some pretties and move your booty!

 

Old Navy is one of my all-time favorite shops–for activewear, sundresses, jeans and cute tops, as well as stylish (and sturdy) clothes for all my boys. And a sale code only makes me love them more. For TWO DAYS ONLY, you can use the code SPRING through my link to save 40% OFF your purchase! Go to oldnavy.com to shop–the code is only good online and only 3/19-3/20/17. Stock up on cute running shorts, graphic tanks and tees, or whatever motivates you to get up and move!

Fabletics (subscription membership for athleisure wear) is your go-to for stunning, live-in-it-every-day activewear that is delivered to your door. Fabletics by Kate Hudson  always has great deals, like 2 for $24 leggings! Sign me up.

Nordstrom Rack has tons of markdowns on activewear and sneakers. I’m eyeing the gorgeous Nanette Lepore line and the Adidas Colorblock Jacket. Yes, please.

Target is impressing us all with their C9 Champion activewear for women, men and kids. The whole family can join you on your new adventures! My favorite piece is this “Crunch Then Brunch” tank. Rewards are good. 🙂

Lucy.com has over 100 items on sale, including several yoga pieces, sports bras and graphic tees, and many are available in plus sizes. No excuses.

 

So, even if  your goal is just to walk into Starbucks instead of going through the drive-thru, it’s a start! It counts!

Part of my daily “workout” is taking laundry, toys, paperwork, children, etc., up and down (and up and down) my stairs all. day. long. It counts! Now, I’m making myself throw in some pilates and yoga too, so I need some fun new yoga pants, right!? 😉

However you choose to be active, treat yourself to some comfy, cute gear too–it may just motivate you to keep going! Happy Spring!

*Available at Old Navy*

Love (and move) more,

Dana

*This post contains affiliate links with Fabletics and Old Navy, which means I may receive a small % from purchases made through the links. Thanks for helping me in my blogging journey!

I Don’t Have a Tribe … And I’m Fine With That

Tribe, friend squad, mom club, girl team, whatever you want to call it. I don’t have one. I don’t have one set of friends who are my go-tos for shopping trips, coffee dates or girls’ weekends. There isn’t a trio of girlfriends I text every day, or even see every month. And guess what? I’m good.

I feel SO lucky to have the incredible friends I do. They are spread throughout my little world, from all areas of my life. My circle of friends is actually more like several small circles intertwined like the Olympic rings … a circle from high school, a circle from college, one from my boys’ schools and activities, another from my previous jobs, and another circle of my family girlfriends (my mama, sisters, cousins, aunts, etc.).

So, when I say I don’t have a tribe, that doesn’t make me sad. I have something different, something that fits me and my personality and my life. All of these amazing, caring women are in my life in some shape and form, and we love and support each other whenever and however needed.

They all crossed my path at different times and places, but I know it was for good reason.

Little Circles…

I’m blessed to have a group of friends from “back home.” Our high school class was (I think, unusually) close and so many of us still keep in touch. When I hear people say they’d never go back to high school, I shake my head. I’d LOVE to hang out in Coach Taylor’s classroom or at McDonald’s after a football game again. We had so much FUN growing up alongside each other, and now we get to share in the joy (and craziness) of raising our kiddos and becoming who we wanted to be “when we grew up.” While I don’t see them nearly enough, there is a crazy love I feel for my Lake Gibson High School people.

I graduated from the University of Florida in 1999 (yes, as my boys say “the 1900s!”) and my time there gave me some of the best memories and sweetest friendships a girl could ask for. I didn’t want to do the sorority thing at first, so I waited until my sophomore year to rush. You know when you just feel good around some people? You feel like they get you and it’s just comfortable? That was the vibe I felt from ZTA, and I knew I was in the right house. While most of these friendships are now through Facebook because we’re spread all over the country, we continue to support each other through our small businesses, Christmas cards, and texts and phone calls. After all these years, I still have a connection with these “sisters” from college.

Almost 13 years ago, I was a nervous first-time mommy who hesitantly attended a postpartum luncheon at the hospital where my little guy was born a few weeks earlier. The women I met at that Tuesday luncheon (and the ones I attended eagerly for the next two months) became my one and only playgroup. I had no idea we’d still be friends when our little ones were in middle school! We’ve shared everything from baby constipation to tween drama, from nursing complications to cancer diagnoses. Our “babies” are in all different schools and activities now, but we try to get together and hug each other’s necks a few times each year, and thankfully social media lets us check in on everyone’s happenings. I will always have a bond with the women who helped me become the mommy I am … without judgment or pressure, and with just the right amount of wine.

Each change I made in my career brought some astounding friendships along with it. You tend to learn a lot about someone when you’re working toward goals together, and trying to squeeze a meal, errands and life discussions into your 1-hour lunch break. 🙂

While I was always hesitant to become “one of those PTA moms” at my boys’ schools, I’m actually insanely thankful I stepped out of my comfort zone and got more involved. Just like that need for a playgroup when your children are babies, you need a support system of mamas who now have elementary and middle schoolers. And you need to laugh with someone else who’s finishing her child’s history project at midnight, if that happens. 😉

And sometimes, the best circle you have in your life was created for you. My mom and sisters are a constant lifeline of support and friendship for me. It’s a beautiful thing when you WANT to hang out with your family. And you find yourself counting the days until you see them again. (Currently, 16 days until I see my little sister!)

So … I don’t have a tribe. I don’t have that one group of besties who I do everything with. I have small circles of crazy, beautiful friendships that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Not even Taylor Swift’s squad. Promise.

 

*My sweet playgroup!

*Built-in girlfriends are a family blessing! (And the guys aren’t bad either!)

*Meeting up with high school friends makes my heart happy!

*Careers can give you SO much more than a paycheck, am I right?

*Our elementary school has kinda the best PTA moms! Think “Bad Moms” without the mean PTA president…

While sifting through my photos, I realized I don’t take nearly enough pictures with the girlfriends I do get to see. So watch out, sweet friends! If I’m with you anytime soon, I’m snapping a selfie with you! 🙂

Love (and hug the girlfriends in your life!) more,

Dana

Starting Fresh

February has been … hard. Not with my little guys. Not with my big guy. Just with my own heart and mind. I’ve been in a daze since February 3rd. It was the day I realized my website had crashed and was gone.

At first, I wasn’t panicked because my hosting company said they backed up my site, as I knew they were supposed to do. Great! But hours and hours of online and phone chats with them later, we realized the only backups they had were after their server crashed. So, every time they offered to “restore” the site, it just showed a new error page. Not great.

Then it hit me. I could not believe what I had dedicated every moment that I wasn’t being a mommy or wife to was gone. I had been building a portfolio of writing through my blog, and was planning to present it to media resources and brands for sponsorships and business opportunities. I had over 100 posts from this past year. Posts that I had worked so hard on, and was so proud of. They were from every aspect of my life … from tears at t-ball and more tears at Kindergarten Round-up (both times it was my tears!), to vacation memories with Jeff, fashion shoots with my baby boy, and a surrogacy timeline that I don’t know if I can recreate.

I KNOW it is not the end of the world. It just stings. A lot.

I have finally gotten over the initial shock; now I’m in “full steam ahead” mode. And I’ve realized this is a personal venture, this is my own hurdle. It’s one of those heartbreaking/soul-searching/adulting-is-hard moments that only I can deal with and resolve.

I know no one will care about your small business, special project, or personal interest as much as you do. It’s a fact. I learned that years ago when I owned a small business. It’s not an intentional or hurtful thing … it’s just a little morsel of life education you come to realize when you want to pour yourself into something, and you don’t mind the time it consumes, and that’s not exactly how others look at it. They want to fill their time with THEIR loves and obsessions. Of course! That’s why it’s YOUR project.

Still, those who love you will love whatever you’re doing, and will give support and encouragement that you didn’t even know you desperately needed. But, when it is your creation, you CARE about every little aspect of it. Others won’t even notice the little hiccups in design, or that you didn’t meet your personal deadline. They’ll be HAPPY for you despite your internal aggravation, despite the stress you put on yourself. And I should let some of that freely-given happy in, even if I feel like Johnny Lawrence just swept my leg. (80’s reference that just aged me, I know.)

So … I’m trying to look at the bright side of having a fresh start. I’ve started to rebuild my site, using some of my posts I was able to find in the vast Internet world, and I’ve changed several design elements along the way. It’s still not where I want it to be, but we’re getting there! I’m also breathing a little more each week. I’m not giving myself crazy writing deadlines that NOBODY cares about but me! Haha! If I get three posts out this week, yay! If I publish only one because my 3-year-old needs more of my attention, so be it.

I will find a way to make this a good thing. Maybe that means rewriting the lost posts and adding more (or less) detail. Maybe that means finding a new voice in my writing. Maybe that means letting each day dictate what happens with my writing career instead of trying to plan months in advance. I don’t know where I go from here. But, I’m going. Thanks for coming along. 🙂

Love (and back up your stuff!) more,

Dana

 

I Got a Meal Delivery Kit … And It Was Hilarious!

I’ve never pretended to enjoy cooking. I just don’t, not even a little bit. I love good food, and I love finding yummy new things to feed my family. I just despise the lengthy preparation before you get to enjoy the meal!

This often leads me to feel like I’m preparing the SAME FOUR MEALS over and over because, A) they’re easy to make, and B) everyone will actually eat them.

So, when a friend gifted me two family meals from a meal delivery service, I was anxious to see if I would enjoy it more with the ingredients organized for me ahead of time. Maybe I wouldn’t dread dinner time so much if I knew a fun, new dinner wasn’t a giant undertaking. Ha. Haha. Hahahahaa!

It was super fun getting the box on our doorstep and unpacking all the goodies! Everything was organized, labeled and looked really fresh. The box was insulated, and the meat was at the bottom and had extra cold packs around it, so it all felt like I’d just brought it home from the grocery store. Both recipes looked delicious and only had six steps each. Awesome! (Oh, how confident I felt at this point! Silly, silly girl.)

I chose the Honey-Mustard Chicken for my first meal because I knew the boys would eat chicken and veggies, and because it looked easier than the Pork Chops and Garlic Picada. (What in the world is picada? I had to Google it. Don’t judge.)

Wait. Why are there so many little boxes under the first step? There’s only one picture for #1, but seven boxes. That’s not one step. That’s seven steps. But the recipe card said prep time was 15 minutes. I don’t see this happening.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

While I was getting out the cutting board and sheet pan, and mentally preparing to be a big girl and tackle this recipe, chaos was ensuing in the TV room. So, I took a short break to settle everyone back down and let two play Xbox, one draw on his Kindle, and I put little man on a bar stool next to me so he could “help.”

Finley and I washed all the veggies and cut the giant cauliflower. Don’t worry–he used his kiddie knife. It was super cute. Straight out of a Martha Stewart “Cooking With Your Children” article. Just add a soaking wet floor from veggie wash overflow, and 15 minutes to your agenda because kiddie knives suck.

We sliced the Brussels sprouts next since that was an easy step; just cut them in half. This, if you’re wondering, is difficult for a 3-year-old to do since Brussels sprouts are round, and very rolly. Rewashed a few that rolled off the cutting board (and then off the counter). No big deal. Wash, wash, slice, slice. Let’s keep moving.

Four boxes checked off.

“Peel the carrots.” Are you serious? I don’t think I even own a carrot peeler. (OK, I found the peeler at the bottom of the silverware drawer … so shiny and pretty … think it was a wedding gift … 16 years ago.) But, Publix sells these cute little bags of peeled, chopped carrots that I have been buying for as long as I have shopped for my own food, so … yea, never really had use for that shiny peeler. And, aren’t we sloughing off some kind of raw goodness when we peel a carrot? As long as I wash it, do I still have to freakin peel it too? Come on, help a girl out!

Peeling (kind-of) and cutting the carrots took about 10 minutes. Lost a few pieces that shot out from the knife and flew under the microwave (made a note to get those later) and a few that were eaten by my helper. 🙂

Another short break to help Finley go to the bathroom, wash our hands, and get him settled at the Lego table with Sawyer. After the cauliflower, carrots and Brussels sprouts, he was done helping. OK, back to the recipe.

“Roughly chop the almonds.” Oh. My. Lord. Am I being punk’d? Ugh. Fine. I’ll cut them in half. Two hours later … just kidding. Kind of.

Timeout for a Paw Patrol tent set-up in the TV room. And a snack because everyone is sttarrvving. And refereeing a pillow fight because “he’s taking too many pillows into the tent.” Whew.

FINALLY reached the 49th part of Step #1. Chop parsley leaves and stems. I’m sure I didn’t do it right, but whatever, I cut it all up. Then, I took this pretty picture and felt like I had just won a prize. The “It only took me an hour to finish Step #1” prize.

Time to roast the vegetables! I usually steam our veggies, so this was something new. And I’ll definitely do it again. Aside from the repetitive “What is that SMELL?” I heard from all four boys as they passed through the kitchen, this was my favorite part of the meal. A little olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh veggies. YUM.

Step #3 Coat and cook the chicken…

What I learned from Step #3:

  • I will always gag when touching raw meat. Can’t help it. Oy. Just gagged again.
  • You’re supposed to pat the chicken dry with paper towels before you season it. Got it.
  • The brown bits of food left after cooking the chicken are called “fond.” Right on. New vocab word.

 

I added the veggies back to the pan with the reserved fond (yes, I felt so fancy just typing that) and added the vinegar, almonds and parsley. Note to self: Hot vinegar splattering on your arm is pretty painful. Wear long sleeves next time.

Short break to scoot the boys outside to the backyard and set up ground rules so no one kills anyone while I’m in the kitchen for the next 15ish minutes.

Back to the kitchen. Made the honey-mustard sauce (first time making my own sauce!) and set it aside. Step #5 done!

I added the chicken to the skillet to keep it all warm, and called the boys to wash their hands and sit down at the table. I should have taken pictures of their faces as I put the roasted veggies on their plates. Like I was asking them to eat our pet bunny. One even brought out some tears. Seriously. We had to have that discussion (again) about how lucky they are to have a warm meal in front of them every night, and that I just spent more than two hours making this food, and they need to appreciate what they have, and…

They finally started eating, so I would stop talking. Whatever works.

The honey-mustard sauce was way too spicy for them, but they ate up the chicken and most of the veggies. Carrots were demolished, Brussels sprouts came in last.

There was a lot leftover for Jeff and me, so when he got home we had a really delicious, healthy, filling meal while the boys were in bed. Score!

And because I forgot to pause the delivery, we’re getting two more meals this week. Jeff said we’ll make these on the nights he can get home in time to help … we’re thinking these require two sets of hands. Or at least one set to prepare the food (without a kiddie knife) and one set to manage the boys. Meal Delivery: Round Two … here we go. 🙂

Love (and roast some veggies) more,

Dana

Learning Patience in the World of Blogging

 

I’m a pretty patient person.

I don’t growl or grumble when I have to wait in a long checkout line.

I just smile and wave when someone cuts me off in traffic.

I count to three and breathe deeply when my children are making me feel like I’m losing my ever-loving mind.

I understand there are so many things in life that just take time, and there are so many instances where having patience can put you in the best situation. Yep, I got that.

But I also know the feeling of that desire to have something you want … and you want it right. now.

Whether it’s a promotion at work, a new car, a vacation, or anything that seems juuust out of reach, your longing for it can be all-consuming. And no matter how often you pray for “God’s timing” to match with yours, we all know we have to just keep at it and we’ll get there. But, having patience while we work toward the goal is still soo crazy hard.

Blogging is my “job,” and as with any job, I want to grow and accomplish and succeed. I want to reach my goals and create new ones. I want to feel confident that my abilities as a writer can help support my family. I want to feel like “I made it.” (Don’t we all want that?)

Of course, success has a different definition for every person. For me, it doesn’t mean a million dollar paycheck or a fancy new car. It’s more about checking things off my personal bucket list. I want my blog audience and social media following to grow and allow me to become a source of fun, positive encouragement for others. I want some of the “big” blogs out there to notice 39ish Life and give it some love. I want to find more ways to monetize my writing so I can feel like all this time I’m putting into my work is contributing to my family. And beyond my blogging, I want my children’s book to get published, and eventually turn into a whole series. (OK, I’ve also dreamt about it becoming an animated series on PBS or Disney Jr., but, baby steps.) All of these goals are levels of success for me. And I’m zealously (and patiently!) working on all of them.

But, whew, it’s challenging to picture what it will be like when you reach each one, and you just want to fast forward to be there! I keep telling myself this experience is a great example to share with my boys as a real-life lesson in patience.

It helps tremendously that I’m part of a wonderful tribe of bloggers who constantly lift each other up and help promote our best work, so that we all continue to grow. It’s an awesome feeling to see one of our own have something go viral on social media. I’m still waiting on that myself, but … patience, Dana. I’m writing and creating as much content as my brain (and my house full of little ones) will allow. So, it (or something just as amazing) will happen … in due time.

Can I get an “Amen?”

Love (and practice patience) more,

Dana