SOCIAL MEDIA

Monday, May 23, 2022

1000 Hours Outside and Our Summer Bucket List

Friday, May 20, 2022

Friday Favorites-- a Summer Giveaway!

 Hello friends! I hope you are having a nice week. We officially have a kindergartner in our house and I am equal parts excited and also wondering where my tiny little baby went. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Life Lately

Hello friends and happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. We have a pre-k graduation coming up this week and I am a big ball of emotions about it-- and so is LG! While she is very excited for kindergarten, she has actually gotten a little weepy about leaving her old preschool behind. What a testament to her school that even the kids find it bittersweet to move on. We have had such a wonderful experience at her pre-school and I feel very confident about her being successful next year in kindergarten! 
Friday, May 13, 2022

Our Trip to Ireland Part 3: SO MANY CASTLES and the Cliffs of Moher :)

 Hello there friends and happy Friday! Today I am rounding out the remainder of our trip to Ireland. If you missed my previous posts about Ireland you can read them here:

Ireland Trip Part 1: The flight and Dublin

Ireland Trip Part 2: The Town of Killarney and Killarney National Park

For my third and final Ireland post I am calling it "SO MANY CASTLES and the Cliffs of Moher" because in one day we saw 3 different castles! Spoiler alert: they were all incredible. 

On Monday morning we woke up in Killarney and had some breakfast in our hotel. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Not Just a Mom: Go To Gift Ideas

 Hello hello and happy Monday! If you are a mom, I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day and felt all the love from your people. 

Whew-- it is only May 7th (as I write this) and May-cember is already in full swing around here. 

Monday, May 2, 2022

What I'm Priming April

 Hello hello! I had originally planned to wrap up the rest of our trip to Ireland today, but somehow the time completely got away from me. I missed the What's Up Wednesday link up last week and didn't want to miss Prime Purchases with Tanya on Tuesday. April came and went in the blink of an eye over here! Here's a look at our Amazon purchases for the month of April:

Friday, April 29, 2022

Our Trip to Ireland Part Two: The Town of Killarney and Killarney National Park

 Hello again friends and happy Friday! Today I am back to recap more of our trip to Ireland, starting with our days in County Kerry and the town of Killarney. In order to get from Dublin to Killarney, we rented a car. We had brought both of our car seats with us and had rented a car prior to leaving the US, only to find out there was a tiny little problem with our reservation. We had requested an automatic transmission, but the car rental place did not have any. They only had stick shift cars available. 😳 Cue Devin and I looking at each other like, "uhhh... do you know how to drive a stick shift??" Devin and I have both driven stick shift cars before, but not since high school--- and I don't need to tell you it has been a long time since high school! We decided Devin had enough experience and it was worth giving it a shot. It turns out it's like riding a bike, he got back into the groove very quickly and said it was actually fun. 
Monday, April 25, 2022

Our Trip to Ireland Part 1: The Flight and Dublin

 Hello hello friends!! We are back from our trip to Ireland and I am very happy to report back that our trip was WONDERFUL. Honestly, this trip could've gone either way. That's a LOT of travel time with two young kids, to a different time zone, to a place with different food/activities/accent. Thankfully our two little ones had a blast and loved soaking up all the differences we came across. Today I am going to start recapping our trip for you, starting with the flight over. The flight honestly could've been it's own post because let's be real, it was quite an ordeal and a LOT of planning was involved to make it happen! Luckily everything went smoothly enough, and I'll fill you in on the little hiccups we encountered. 

So just a reminder, Devin was already in Ireland for work (he is the international sales manager for a company that sells science lab equipment-- I get that question all the time 😊). So the kids and I were headed over there by ourselves. Our flight left at 1, but I knew everything takes longer with two young kids so my intention was to get to the airport no later than 10:30. 

Monday, April 11, 2022

Not Just a Mom April: What's For Lunch?

 Hello hello friends and happy Monday! Today Adrienne, Dara, Jennifer, Joanne, Sarah and I are bringing you another "Not Just a Mom" post. This month's theme is: "What's for Lunch?" In the interest of keeping this as real as possible, I took pictures of mine and the kids lunches over the past week. Why not Devin's? Well first of all he was out of town. But even if he had been home, Dev usually does his own thing for lunch. Sometimes he takes leftovers, sometimes they have lunch catered at work, and sometimes he goes out for lunch. I never know what his schedule is, so I let him handle his own food and I focus on myself and the kids (hence the pictures). 

The kids both have Bentgo lunchboxes that I use to pack their lunches for school. I really love these and think they have been super helpful when it comes to packing their lunch every day. Not only are the environmentally friendly because they eliminate us using extra plastic/trash, but they are helpful for reminding me to pack a little bit of each category from the food pyramid too. 

Since they are broken up into 5 sections I try to some type of sandwich, a fruit, a veggie, some cheese, and some nuts (Liam is not allowed to take nuts this year, so I put raisins or something else small in the last little section for his). The Bentgo's fit perfectly into their L.L. Bean lunchboxes

Let's have a look!

Monday:

Friday, April 8, 2022

What I'm Packing for Our Trip to Ireland :)

 Well hello there! Devin left for Ireland on Monday which means the kids and I will be joining him in just a few more days. When I was thinking about what I should write for this Friday's post, I kept thinking "what's going on with us this week?" and the answer was pretty obvious-- our whole life is pretty much just gearing up for this trip right now. While I was getting ready to start packing my clothes I thought "I could make a post out of that!" and voila-- here we are :) So come along with me as I try on all my outfits and make sure they still fit/look okay/will work with the 10 day forecast for our big trip to the Emerald Isle 😊💚.

Monday, April 4, 2022

Weekend Highlights

 Hello friends and happy Monday! I feel like I have a million pictures from our weekend to share with you today, so I will try to narrow it down to just the top 15 or so. Today I am linking up with Sarah and Holly for Hello Monday. Thanks for reading along!

Friday, April 1, 2022

What I've Been Priming: March

 Hello friends and happy Friday! Do you have some fun plans on the horizon for your weekend? Tonight I am grabbing a glass of wine with some girlfriends, then tomorrow we have a fun Easter event at the Y, and on Sunday we have a birthday party. It is going to be a busy one, but packed with fun! I can't believe how close we are getting to Easter/Spring Break and then before we know it, we will have a Pre-K graduation to attend. Time needs to slow down!

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites to share my Amazon purchases for the month of March. Then, on Tuesday, I will be linking up with Tanya for Prime Purchases. Let's have a look:

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 

Hello friends!! I hope you are all enjoying a taste of spring weather wherever you live. As I write this it is in the mid 60's and not a cloud in the sky here. Spring is here to stay and I could not be happier about it. The kids are playing outside for hours on end. My hydrangeas and rose bushes are starting to come back from being dormant over the winter. There is just something about spring that feels magical. I love it!

Today I am linking up with Sheaffer and Shay for What's Up Wednesday. Let's get to it!
Friday, March 25, 2022

Books I Read in February and March

Well hi there! I hope you all had a nice week. I realized that I never got around to posting the books I read in the month of February, so today I am here to share the books I read in both February AND March. Don't get too excited, there aren't that many. 😉 It turns out I read a lot of physical books these past few months as opposed to audiobooks, which always goes much slower for me. If you read this post a few weeks ago then you know that most of the time I try to listen to audiobooks because I can listen while I do chores around the house. There is just something about reading a paper version of a book that immediately puts me to sleep-- anyone else? Even if it's only 8 o'clock-- hah!
Monday, March 21, 2022

Being a "List" Person

 Hello hello and happy Monday! 

This is 100% true. 😂

Another week and another chance to knock all of our goals outta the park, right? As I write this it is Sunday afternoon and I am in the process of trying to get my week in order. I pulled out my calendar, my meal planning notepad, and a notepad to start making all my various lists. Devin, my very Type-B husband, loves to tease me about my lists. I've often been asked if I have a list to keep track of my lists. To be honest, it's not such a bad idea. 😂 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Hello there and happy Friday! I hope you all had a nice week. This week I got to substitute in one of the other pre-k's at Lily Grace's school, which meant I got to see her in the hallway and see her at recess. It was a fun mini "break" in the day to get to see one of my favorite faces. It's safe to say that was one of my favorites for the week! Now, onto the rest...

Last weekend we had our last round of ski lessons for the season and they were a big success!

Monday, March 14, 2022

Not Just a Mom: Reading Habits

 Hello hello! Today the Not Just a Mom crew are sharing our reading habits, and I am curious to read along to find out all about how you read, what you read, and what you do after having read a book. Thank you for reading along with Adrienne, Dara, Jen, Joanne, Sarah and I today.

Friday, March 11, 2022

What I've Been Wearing to Work (Substitute Teacher Version)

 Hello there! Back in my early days of blogging I used to do monthly-ish round ups of what I'd been wearing to work. I received feedback from readers how helpful it was when they were trying to put outfits together for work themselves, so I'm bringing it back! I used to be a teacher who worked 3 days/week, and am now just an occasional substitute, so these posts will be less frequent, but hopefully still helpful nonetheless. 

Fair warning, some of these items are a few years old and I couldn't find an exact link, but I did my best to link something similar if I couldn't find the exact one. 

Here is a roundup of some substituting outfits from January-March (so far):

Monday, March 7, 2022

Review of Texturizing Sprays

 Hello friends! I hope you had a nice weekend. Today I am kicking off the week with a review that has been a long time in the making. I have slowly but surely been making my way through some of the top rated texturizing sprays and am here to share my reviews. 

My hair has a pretty fine texture to it and I often feel like it could benefit from a little extra "oomph", or volume. Due to being such a fine texture, it also gets oily faster. Even on day 1 clean hair I used to spray some dry shampoo in my hair to prevent it from getting oily faster. I told my hairdresser this and she said "oooh you need to try a texturizing spray. It soaks up the oil but also gives the hair some volume too." That sounded like it was exactly what I needed. Another benefit of texturizing spray is that it doubles as a dry shampoo without changing the color of your hair. One of my good friends is a brunette and often complains about dry shampoo leaving that white residue in her hair. This would be perfect if you have darker hair and don't want the white residue from a dry shampoo.

So my hairdresser convinced me to start with the Oribe and I LOVED it! I used it exclusively for a year or two. Fast forward a bit and Shay had recommended the DryBar spray. I grabbed the sample size, tested it out, and liked that one too. Now I am on the hunt to see if there are other great ones out there worth buying. Here are the 4 I have tried so far and my reviews:

Friday, March 4, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Today's post is a snapshot of our week. It was a busy one, but a great one!

Monday, February 28, 2022

Join Me in Prayer for the People of the Ukraine

 


Friday, February 25, 2022

What I'm Priming February

 Hello there and happy Friday! I hope you have some fun plans for the weekend ahead. We have a good mix of busy and relaxing on our schedule. It should turn out to be a nice weekend! Today for Friday Favorites I am sharing What I'm Priming for the month of February. I will also be linking up with Tanya on Tuesday. 


Before I start though, one of my good friends was telling me this week to always double check my Amazon purchases on Walmart.com first. Sometimes the prices are much better on Walmart.com, and they ship for free if you spend over $35 (which is easy to do!). For example, I saw on Erika's blog recently about the Southern Pecan k cups and I thought they sounded good. I went to Amazon and saw a 24 pack was $24:

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 Hello hello friends! I know we all say it every month, but this one flew by. I hope you've all had a good month-- I am looking forward to catching up with you. What's Up Wednesdays are some of my favorite posts-- it feels like going out to coffee with friends to catch up once a month. 😊

Friday, February 18, 2022

Friday Favorites: Favorite Workouts

Hello there and happy Friday! Last week we all shared "What We Eat in a Week" and it got me thinking about my typical workouts in a week and how those two go hand in hand. I started keeping track of my workouts for the week and realized that my typical workouts in February look very different from my typical workouts in spring, summer and fall. So rather than show you one week of workouts, I figured I'd share some of my all time favorites. So today, for Friday Favorites, I am sharing my favorite ways to get some exercise. 😊

Monday, February 14, 2022

Not Just a Mom: A Day in The Life

 Good morning friends and happy Monday! As I sit here writing this we are watching the Super Bowl and are hoping for a Bengals win. You all know I'm originally from Cincinnati right? I grew up hearing people refer to the Bengals as "The Bungles", and there were multiple seasons where they had the worst record in the NFL... so the fact that they even made it to the Super Bowl is a big deal. Also, I went to high school with the Bengals' punter Kevin Huber and he was a really nice guy, so it helps to have someone nice to cheer for! As we are all reading this Monday, we will know the outcome of the game. Let's hope it's a W for Cincinnati. 😀 Today the Not Just a Mom crew is sharing "A Day in the Life". I just recently did a regular Day in the Life post, and since I was substitute teaching multiple days last week, I thought it would be fun to share "A Day in the Life Of a Substitute Teacher". So that's my theme for the day 😉.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Hello there and happy Friday! Before we start I wanted to let you know that the Not Just a Mom ladies and I are doing "Day in the Life" posts on Monday. If you have a day in the life post you'd like to link up with us, be sure to come back Monday!

Here are a look at my favorites for the week:

Hair Cut

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Let's Look: What I Eat In A Week: Plant Based Diet

 Hello hello! I am very excited about Shay and Erika's Let's Look theme today. I could look at other people's food/recipes/meal plans for hours and not get sick of it. I always come away with new ideas of things for us to eat at home, even if the other person's recipe doesn't exactly fit our usual "diet". 

Now when I say "diet" I don't mean it in the sense of "trying to lose weight", but in the sense of "how we eat". Devin and I try to follow a mostly Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet, but we are significantly more lenient with the kids. If they want Chick-fil-a for lunch, I will gladly get them Chick-fil-a, we just don't go twice a week like we used to 😊. We aren't as strict about it as we were last summer, and now follow roughly a 90% WFPB and 10% standard diet. In a typical day I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with 2 snacks in between meals. I didn't take pictures of my snacks, but my usual snacks are:

Snacks:

- banana and peanut butter

-  apple and peanut butter

- veggies and hummus

- cashews

- pistachios

- pumpkin seeds

- fresh mango

- dried mango

-seaweed packs

So whenever I say "snack" just know it was most likely one of those things.


Okay, let's get to it!

Monday:

For some reason I was hungrier than usual today so I ate significantly more. That happens from time to time, so I don't think anything of it. 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Books I Read in January

 Hello friends! Happy Monday! Today I get to be the substitute librarian at my old school and I am really excited about it. A school I love + a subject I love = a very fun day for me! Sarah from Sunshine and Books-- I get to be you for a day. 😉 So since my mind will be on BOOKS all day, it seems appropriate to finally write my post about the books I read last month. Better late than never, right? I read 3 books this month and all 3 were GREAT! 2/3 will probably be in my top books of the year. Here they are:

Friday, February 4, 2022

Friday Favorites: Spring Break Tickets are Booked!

 Good morning friends and happy Friday! This week flew by and we are looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend at home. Here's a look at our week:

Summer Camp Sign Ups!

Monday, January 31, 2022

What I'm Priming: January 2022

Hi there and happy Monday! Prior to this year, we had not had snow in Charlotte for 4 years.. now we've had it 3 weeks in a row! We are getting spoiled by Mother Nature over here and I am here for it. I am one of those people who thinks if it's going to be cold, it may as well snow. That being said, it is supposed to be 66 degrees here on Thursday and I'm not complaining about that either--  hah!

Today I am sharing what I've been Priming for the month of January and will be linking up with Tanya tomorrow for Prime Purchases. I am also linking up with Sarah and Holly for Hello Monday.


Candle Making Kit-- I have been making my own candles and Michael's was out of the wicks. Amazon to the rescue! I save my old Bath & Body Works candle jars and use those for my homemade candles. You know that last little bit of wax you get in a candle that won't melt once the wick is done? I save that too and use it in my new candles! I melt the last little bit, add it to my new melted wax, add some essential oils that go well with the old scent and voila! If you want to learn more about making your own candles, check out this link from Martha Stewart.



Humidifier-- Our old humidifier died and with us running the heat 24/7 around here, the air has been really dry. This is a necessity in winter!


Valentine's Day Earrings-- I settled on a pink J Crew sweater for the kids' Valentine's Day parties, but wanted some heart earrings to go with it. 



4 Pairs of Lightweight Rattan Earrings-- I must have had summer on the brain at some point this month because these came up on my recommended purchases. They felt like spring/summer to me.

Rabbit Wine Opener-- We got one of these Rabbit wine openers about 10 years ago as a gift and it is the easiest wine opener we've ever used. Unfortunately it broke a week or so ago, and we needed a new opener. There was no question that I wanted this one again. 


That was it for this month! I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else links up with. Have a great week!


Friday, January 28, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Hi there and happy Friday! I hope you all had a good week. This was the first "normal" week we have had in what feels like forever, and I have to say... it feels reeeeally good to have a routine again. You don't realize how much you crave that routine until it's gone, huh?


Devin was traveling for work all week so it was just the kids and I holding down the fort. It was a remarkably smooth and easy week thank goodness. I swear the kids can pick up on the vibes of "it's only mom this week, we can't push her too hard or else she'll lose it". They aren't wrong. 😆

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. Let's have a look at the highlights of this week:

Favorite Activities:

While Lily Grace was in school this week, Liam and I got to spend some great one-on-one time together. He is in the sweetest stage right now where he is still so young but thinks he's a lot bigger than he is. He wants to do everything the big kids do, and he thinks he's a big kid too.


He and I went to the library twice this week while LG was in school and he automatically goes straight to the section where the train books are. He is on a big Thomas the Tank Engine kick and I think we've read every Thomas book about 2 dozen times. 


Then he and LG like to play trains together when she gets home from school. 

Alpha

I signed up for a course offered at our church called Alpha and have been really enjoying it so far. We meet once a week to share a meal together, watch a video that explores the Christian faith a little deeper, and then discuss it in our small group. Not only have I been enjoying the course, but I really like all of the people in our small group. It's a good mix of outgoing/funny people, some more reserved/shy people, people who are parents, young single people, people who are grandparents, etc. Everyone in our group is very different from one another, yet we are all there to discuss the one big thing we have in common: our faith in Jesus. I look forward to it each week and come home feeling so energized by our conversations.

Ours takes place at a Catholic Church, but the Alpha program is actually run by various denominations and can be found all over the globe. It originated in Britain back in the 1970's and over 24 million people have taken the course. Here is the link to find one near you in the US. The international link was giving me a hard time but you could try Googling it.  


It's funny, I was telling my friend Kathleen about it and she said "Oh my dad led that at our church back in high school!" Kathleen's dad is a Presbyterian minister. So apparently I am late to the Alpha club. 😊 

Favorite Foods:

We made these grilled portobello burgers last night and they were delicious!!! They were topped with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers, which gave the mushrooms a great flavor boost. They also had a basil mayo spread on the top. They were actually pretty easy to make too, which is obviously a big bonus. So good!


Not-So-Favorite Thing:

Ya'll... when Liam and I were at the library this week we saw these educational tablets in the kids section. We do not have a tablet/ipad at home for the kids to use, but I have been considering buying one lately. I figured I'd check this one out from the library and see what we thought of it after a week. Like every other mom, I had such a love/hate relationship with this stupid thing. Was it educational? Yes. Was it great at keeping LG's attention when I needed to do other things? Yes. Is she learning basic technology skills that are going to be a part of her life? Yes.

But... Do I think it was addicting for her? ABSOLUTELY. It was the very first thing she asked for when she woke up each morning. It was the first thing she wanted to do when she got home from school. She wanted it after dinner. She wanted it before bed. I realized real quick that I needed to set some ground rules for this thing. We decided she could only have it for about 15-20 minutes while I was making dinner... but if I'm being honest I didn't always stick to that. Then I would feel that inevitable mom guilt for putting her on a screen instead of doing something more hands on. Needless to say I'm ready for it to go back to the library... but I know we can't avoid this forever. 

This is a part of parenting that is all new territory for me!! As a teacher we obviously used them in our classrooms, but we used them sparingly. Moms whose kids are older-- I need your advice. How do you handle technology? Absolutely zero judgement on any mom for however you handle technology with your family. If I had a nickel for every "when I'm a mom I'll NEVER _______" moment I've had, only to find out the opposite was true... we'd be sitting pretty over here. So please, I'd love to know your family's rules on technology. Leave me a comment or send me an email (laurendarrell13@gmail.com). We're all navigating this craziness together, right?



I hope you all have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What's Up Wednesday

 Hello hello it's What's Up Wednesday! Today I am linking up with Sheaffer and Shay to share a little this & that from the month of January. 

What We're Eating: My AeroGarden has taken off!! Look at all this lettuce:

Monday, January 24, 2022

A Day in the Life of Us

 Good morning friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend. We were lucky enough to wake up to 2 inches of snow on Saturday, giving the kids a fun excuse to get outside and play. Charlotte hasn't gotten snow in YEARS and now we've had it two weekends in a row! Snow has always been magical to me, but especially now that we live in NC since we don't get it often. Today I am linking up with Sarah and Holly for Hello Monday.


Last Friday I had planned to do a "Day in the Life of Us" post, but fair warning, Liam napped all afternoon so the afternoon portion turned out to be pretty boring. 😆 Oh well! That's a glimpse of real life, right? Here's a look at our day last Friday, January  21st, 2022.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Hello friends and happy Friday! With the holiday on Monday and a snow day on Tuesday, this week has flown by!! I can't believe it's already another weekend! Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. 

Here's a look at our week:

Favorite Activities:

SNOW!! We were lucky enough to get roughly a foot of snow in Blowing Rock over the weekend and our entire family was on cloud 9! 

Monday, January 17, 2022

First Day of Wee Ski Lessons

 Hello friends and happy Monday! It sounds like quite a few of us got snow over the weekend, and I hope you all were able to get out and enjoy it! Today's post will be short and sweet as we are still out and about enjoying the snow. I am linking up with Sarah and Holly for Hello Monday. 

On Friday afternoon our sweet girl had her very first ski lessons, and she and I were both really excited. Devin had to work Friday, so the kids and I left Charlotte, drove the 1 hour and 45 minutes up to Blowing Rock. We dropped Liam off with my parents and then LG and I were ready to hit the slopes! 

Ya'll the whole process of getting checked in, getting our lift tickets, getting our boots and skis, getting our locker, going to the bathroom one last time and getting over to the ski lessons was an ordeal! She was very cooperative but the whole process took us close to an hour and a half, which felt like an eternity! We finally made it to the ski lessons and our sweet girl immediately connected with her teacher and was ready! 

Friday, January 14, 2022

Friday Favorites

 Hello there! Happy Friday! Today we are on our way to the mountains for Lily Grace's first WeeSki ski lesson. I am more excited than she is. One of the best parts of parenting is getting to share the things you love with your children, and I have some of the fondest memories of skiing as a kid. I can't wait for us to be able to ski together one day!

Today I am linking up with Andrea and Erika for Friday Favorites. I have a random assortment of fun things for ya!

Favorite Things We Ate:

Monday, January 10, 2022

Not Just a Mom: Favorite Bloggers

 Good morning friends and happy Monday! Today we are kicking off the new Not Just a Mom for 2022. Here are our new graphics for the year (thanks to Adrienne!):

Friday, January 7, 2022

Top 21 Amazon Purchases from 2021

Good morning friends and happy Friday! This week has turned out differently than we expected, but honestly ended up as such a blessing. I took the kids to get tested on Monday afternoon, assuming they would test negative and be in the clear to go back to school this week. Unfortunately they tested positive, and the doctor told us they could continue to test positive for 90 days after infection (cue me being like "WHAT?! They need to test negative to go back to school!!"). Thankfully the schools have changed their policies, we used to need negative PCR's to return, but now a doctor's note stating when their quarantine is over and they are able to safely return is fine. 

Anyway though, it gave our family an extra week at home together and we had a wonderful time just relaxing at home, with nowhere to be but together. While I love running around and getting errands done, there's something kind of nice about being forced to just sit still and be present in the moment. 

Today's post is a roundup of my top Amazon purchases from 2021.. my top 21 from '21! These are the items I used regularly throughout the year and I would highly recommend every single one!