Thursday, October 31, 2013

Epic battle. Squirrels.

Hello, my name is Julie and I am a warrior.

There is an epic battle happening in my home. I sit alert in the darkness, listening, waiting. Vigilant, with a taste for victory.

We have squirrels.

I have always been fond of small and furry creatures. I have been known to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting anything scampering across the road. I have hit a couple, and felt guilty about it for the rest of the day.

Now I see them differently.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

High-quality spa products at home! Plus a #giveaway from @SpaSydellATL

The soothing sounds of soft music or gently flowing water... 

The calming scents of lavender or eucalyptus...

The quiet atmosphere that transports you far away from the chaos of a home with kids....

Who doesn't love the spa?
One of my favorite all-time "me" treats is a spa treatment at Spa Sydell, one of Georgia's most premiere day spas. Spa Sydell focuses on whole-body health and fitness, and has become an ultimate destination for reflexology, skin care, and massage therapy in Atlanta.

And if you want to take the spa home with you?

Monday, October 28, 2013

"Mummy" and Me Monday: Pumpkin

We have some friends who host a pumpkin carving party each year, and everyone comes out with their creative and fun carving talents to win the coveted pumpkin trophy.

This year, I wanted Amelia to be able to participate on her own, but without wielding a knife. The mummy pumpkin was inspired by a Pinterest pin originally sourced from Better Homes and Gardens:

BHG cheesecloth pumpkin instructions

This mummy pumpkin is incredible, but a bit more involved to create than I was hoping to find for our five-year old. Cheesecloth, fabric stiffener... just a bit too much for a backyard party.

So I modified it to be easy and kid-friendly:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Recycling: Baby Clothes #WW

Amelia's stuffed animals are wearing her baby clothes!

Since we are having a boy this time around, I can remove and donate three huge bins full of mostly pink, purple, or flowery attire.A few of the smaller items have already been donated - to Amelia's playroom. She likes to dress up her stuffed animals, so I figured we could provide them with a few more outfits. 

This one was Amelia's very first shirt, ever. They put her in it at the hospital...

Happy Wordless Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Medieval Times 2nd Annual FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE -- #MTatlanta #giveaway

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Medieval Times, Atlanta has joined the Second Annual FIGHT FOR THE CAUSE! 

They will donate $1 for each NEW LIKE that their Facebook page receives during the month of October. All donations will benefit Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. (Hurry... only a few days left!)

To support this important battle, one lucky BalancingMama reader will win a Family Four-Pack of tickets to one of Medieval Times, Atlanta’s shows Sunday-Friday through the end of December! I look forward to taking my family to a 5:00 show soon; Amelia has always wanted to go inside "the castle"!

Please help spread the word on your networks, via twitter #MTatlanta, and on Instagram @mt_atlanta and #MTatlanta. This is one battle we need to win!

Winner: Amber Ruth

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2nd child: Then vs. Now

We are blessed to be adding another little one to our household. I know this, I really do.

But... when am I supposed to get excited about this second kiddo?

When am I supposed to feel the overwhelming joy and love?

I am only about one week away from the third trimester, and I have yet to move past the "oh my gosh, what the heck did we do?" stage. Maybe it is because my daughter is already 5 1/2 years old. I have had way too much time to settle into life with an only child and to forget most everything about childbirth or babies.

I know that the mornings with a newborn will be difficult and will be made even more miserable because I have to get Amelia ready for - and to - school on time. She isn't a baby, where I would be able to stay home with both kids and ease into my day. Nope, it will be up-and-at-'em at 6:30 a.m., regardless of baby's sleep schedule. We will be at soccer some evenings and on Saturdays. We will have birthday parties and school events to attend. When my husband is traveling, I will need to put two children to bed and somehow manage to fall into my own bed before I turn into a monster.

I am beyond overwhelmed and he is not even here yet. I already feel like a mom failure to this little guy.

Then, I could have told you exactly how many weeks and days I was in my pregnancy. Now, I sort of guess - or I look it up on the Internet if I really need to know.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Cute pumpkin cupcakes: Pin-worthy and easy #Halloween

I love browsing Pinterest and collecting recipes and ideas that I will likely never make. I share and pin and dream, but when it comes down to actually making something, I am all about quick and easy.

I recently made a couple Pinterest recipes for a neighborhood party, but my latest baking endeavor was really the best-tasting, cutest, smile-inducing treat of them all. And it was incredibly easy.

If you are a semi-homemade, 'gotta be quick' baker like me, this is for you: I call it "how one simple kitchen gadget can make gorgeous cupcakes every time". Pin-worthy cupcakes that look like they came from the bakery.

(1) Make cupcakes. Store-bought cake mix is all I use. For this example, I used French Vanilla cake mix.

(2) Once batter is mixed and beaten, add food coloring if you wish. Here, the cake is a light orange.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wedding plans at age five

I am three decades past preschool and kindergarten, but a few big memories still stand out. Like the time I was cast out of the ballerina role in the preschool graduation event ("too short", apparently). Or the time a boy I "loved" in kindergarten was kissed by another girl (devastating!).

Now that I am Mom to a kindergartener, I am glad that I still have a couple of those memories. Especially now that my girl is dreaming up wedding plans at age five and a half.

She is in love.

The boy is apparently the ladies' man; he hangs out with all the girls. Amelia says they all want to marry him, but she is the one he sits next to at lunch. She is the one whose hand he grabbed as they ran through the playground. My little girl is already tallying her wins vs. the other ladies and imagining the rest of her life with this boy. She was shocked when I told her that marriage is a good twenty years away!

Frankly, I am wearing thin from hearing his name. Tonight, I found a drawing of a boy with his name  written (in rainbow, of course) all over the page.

No matter what, it isn't very comforting to see such behavior in a child so young. My child! But it does help that I am able to conjure up memories of similar feelings and behaviors from my own childhood. I survived and married the right guy when I was in my mid-twenties. I suppose there is hope for my smitten darling too.

I'm just really, really tired of hearing his name!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Getting Spooky! Halloween decor #WW

Our first holiday decorating event in the new house - it was fun to figure out where everything should go! We pulled out boxes and dug through the memories with repeated "remember this?!" nostalgia. Welcome home, Halloween creatures!

Giant Black Widow - eek!

I love our front door - and Mr. Ghost

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Magnificent TN Aquarium for the family! #Chattanooga #familytravel

It was a gorgeous and warm Sunday, and we had plans to meet my family in Chattanooga for an aquarium visit. I know Chattanooga well; I lived there for four years as a UTC student. But that was quite a while ago - and I had not seen the Ocean Journey building of the aquarium.

What a fun time! We all enjoyed meandering through the paths by each and every brightly lit window, full of amazing and interesting creatures. Amelia and I even got up close and personal with some Giant Japanese Spider Crabs!

Friday, October 11, 2013

They didn't know veggies were hiding in that juice! #healthyfamily

My family had a little taste-testing party last night with two flavors of V8 V-Fusion® Refreshers.

New V8 V-Fusion Refreshers are a light and crisp juice drink with a 20-25% blend of fruit and vegetable juices that come in four flavors. Made with both fruit and vegetable juices, this new V8 juice is naturally sweetened, contains no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives and is an excellent source of Vitamin C.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Love does not live happily beside fear. #DomesticViolence

It's an old joke; my husband and I laugh about buying a shotgun when our daughter begins dating. We all want to protect our children from any hurt whether it be physical or emotional. No one messes with our babies!

But sometimes life takes people down a dark path and they can feel helpless.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Ladies, know your worth. Understand that your worth is bigger than you may have ever imagined. You are powerful, strong, beautiful, and have the ability to overcome life's hurdles. Sometimes love sneaks in and turns everything we know upside down. Sometimes, and unfortunately, it is not for good. Love does not mean being told where to go, how to dress, to when to speak. Love does not live happily beside fear. Or manipulation. Or spite.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

#WW: My only... for now

"They grow up so fast" is not cliche. It is totally real! My sweet and amazing only child is growing up so much faster than I could have ever imagined. Like a flash of lightning.

"My only" will soon have a new title; Big Sister. More than anything else, I look forward to seeing her love and teach her baby brother.




Disney Appisodes are fun and interactive! NEW: Sofia The First

Have your Disney-loving kids tried the new Appisodes yet?

Disney Appisodes are available on iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. They combine a full-length TV show with interactive play-along features. Amelia loves these very high-quality apps for kids.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Type A Conference weekend: Part 2 (LINKY)

I have had several friends ask me why I attended a blog conference.  

What is a blog conference? 

What do you do there? 

Is it fun? 

How cool are those light-up Mickey ears!?

I have a unique position in the blogging world. I probably have a very different reason for attending the Type A Conference as compared to most of the others in attendance.

My blog is not a business. I take small opportunities as they come, offer an occasional giveaway, review Atlanta family attractions and shows, and otherwise just share a little bit about my life as I struggle to balance work, blogging, parenting, kindergarten, and (soon!) a newborn addition to our home. I am pretty real. The voice on this screen is my voice, no sales pitches or attempts to seem bigger than I am. 

Attending Type A allowed me to spend some quality social time with other parents who "get it".

Kinderfeets Balance Bike #giveaway!

Here is a very exciting giveaway!

Amelia is learning to ride her "big kid" bike, and I am wishing we had tried a balance bike first. I think she would have more confidence with her feet a bit closer to the ground. Now YOU have a chance to win one through the giveaway form below!

Kinderfeets is a wooden push bike that is designed to ease the transitioning to pedal-powered bicycles as a toddler's comfort level. Kinderfeets is derived from the Dutch for "children" and "bicycle". Oscar Mulder is a Dutch designer who was disappointed with the push bikes that were available so he decided to create his own balance bike for his son, Sebastian. Kinderfeets was born as more then a toy, but a fathers gift to his son.
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