More Classic Monogrammed Bags

Remember this post with a list of monogrammed handbags and totes?

Well, I’ve found a couple more that I wanted to share with you.

First up, the C Wonder Signature Tote which is monogrammed on the reverse side of their fabulous “C” logo.

CWonderTote3 CWonderTote2 CWonderTote

 

Everything in the store is 30% off right now; so these bags are really well-priced and would be $55 – $69 (without monogram)! Such a great deal. I’m trying to decide which one to order…I have a great, tan Michael Kors tote that I’ve been carrying for a couple of years. It’s the perfect neutral tan and goes with everything, so I’m leaning in the opposite direction, towards one of the fun C Wonder patterns.

And, here they are on several fashionable ladies.

C Wonder Signature Totes

Clockwise from upper left: Eleventh & Sixteenth / The Average Girl’s Guide

Melanie Knopke / The Southern Perfectionist

The other classic tote is from Madewell, their Transport Tote.

MadewellTote

 

This humble picture does not do this classic tote justice. Check out the #totewell gallery on Instagram to see this gorgeous bag in action; that’s how I came across this classic bag.

PS – the Transport tote is not the only thing Madewell will monogram. See a full list of items here.

 



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Love the place you live: A Very Little Bookstore

Hope you’re having a lovely weekend! I guest-posted on Shara’s blog, Palmettos and Pigtails, a couple weeks ago. Just popping in on Sunday to share this post, in case you missed it. 

 

Lately, I’ve written a few posts about loving the place we live, which, to be fair, is not hard to do when you live in Charleston. So today, I thought we’d venture a little farther out of town, to quaint, downtown Summerville. On picturesque Main Street sits one of my own favorite places to go with my boys, and I’d love to share it with you.

But first, indulge me in a little reminiscing. I’m the sappy, sentimental type.

My mom read to my brother and me when we were younger, and she really encouraged us to read too. She would let me check out piles of books at the library, and she took me to the bookstore, no matter how tight our budget must have been, especially back then. I can even remember visiting a bookstore as early as 3, maybe 4. We lived in Turkey at the time, and were only there for a couple of years, so I can be confident that I was that young. I remember that this bookstore carried the Mr. Men & Little Miss books, a personal favorite. And, I loved Dr. Seuss at this age.

Naturally, reading is one of my most favorite things to do with my own boys. I want them to remember reading with me, just as I remember doing with my own mother.

So, just as my mother did with my brother and me, I take my boys to the library and let them check out the 25 book maximum. I try to select a few books while we’re here, but for the most part, I let Harrison pick the books that he wants. Sometimes, that means that I have to settle for a series of character books I’d rather pass on, but lately, it’s meant that I’m learning new things about dinosaurs. Did you know that the Brontosaurus is now called Apatosaurus? Or, that there is no such thing as a Pterodactyl? There is a Pterodactylus, but technically, it’s a Pterosaur and not a Dinosaur.

And, again as my mom did with us, we go to the bookstore. Here, I do make an effort to guide their selections, but I always let Harrison make the final decision. I’ve enjoyed slowly curating the boys’ library. Right now, we’re in a wonderful stage of picture story books, of books I loved from Reading Rainbow and books I remember my own librarian reading to us from her rocking chair each week in the school library. In the past, and out of convenience, I’ve picked up books at Barnes & Noble or on Amazon. More recently, though, I’ve discovered a little gem in an independent children’s bookshop.

A few weeks ago, Harrison and I made a trip to A Very Little Bookstore. We’ve been several times before, but always with baby Whitt, who has more fun pulling books off the shelf and making a general ruckus than he enjoys reading. I think it’s important to take my little one, but I wanted some one on one time with my oldest.

bookstore1

The owner, Natalie, is  passionate about children’s literature and about children, and her enthusiasm is apparent in every aspect of her shop. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the various authors and illustrators. So, her recommendations are always exactly what we need. She doesn’t recommend books in a “one size fits all” manner either, meaning she doesn’t simply recommend her own favorites and assume your child will love them too. She gets to know you and your child, and then she suggests books you’ll like. For example, her suggestions for my little boy are always very different than her recommendations for his bestie, Farris, even though they are both four. The more often you venture in, the better her recommendations. And, she hosts a children’s book club for older children. So cool, right?

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

Not only is Natalie wonderful, but the shop itself is a special, magical place too. The walls are lined with individual and unique book shelves that look collected, rather than matching book cases you typically see in chain stores or libraries. And, her own children are often at the shop, which I love. It feels cozy and homey and very family-friendly. It’s the kind of place one can comfortably grab a book of the shelf and read on the carpet or at one of the low kids tables. It’s truly a place a mom can feel comfortable letting her kids be kids and dive into books (sometimes literally). And, that’s what makes this store so unique. It is truly a children’s bookstore – designed for children.

A Very Little Bookstore | the Maypop

This store may be little, but it is the gateway to a big, wide world. If you’re local to Summerville and haven’t been, it’s a must. And, if you’re in Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, it’s worth the drive. I promise. While you’re downtown, I suggest you finish your bookish afternoon off with a root beer float from Guerin’s Pharmacy or a hot cocoa from Single Smile Cafe.

Root beer float at Guerin's Pharmacy, Summerville, SC | the Maypop

 

Hot Cocoa from Single Smile Cafe, Summerville, SC | the Maypop

 

Photos by Gray Benko taken at the quaint A Very Little Bookstore (with the exception of the last two).

PS – Be sure to pop over to Palmettos and Pigtails if you haven’t already. You’ll find lots of craft ideas, great posts on meal planning (freezer meals for Baby G3!), and ideas for things to do with children from Disney World to the Lowcountry Children’s Museum.



August Goals

Aug Goals, Goal Setting | the Maypop

I love this vintage storybook cover for Mary Ware’s Promised Land. Find it on Etsy, at ReVintageLannie’s shop.

July recap and August goals

I know that some of you love summer, but I’m not one of those people. Call me crazy (or just 7 + months pregnant), but I am ready for shorter days, cooler nights, and for football season. Fall can’t get here soon enough for me. It’s so hot and humid here in Charleston, that I feel stifled physically and mentally too. With the exception of a few successes, July was a bust for me, and I’m going to chalk it up to the summer blues.

Successes –

1.We had a fun visit from Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf. And, I took advantage of this “Christmas in July” sale.

2. I checked off two items on my home to do list: I hung my plates and the fireplace is painted. You can see the plates here, and I promise to share the fireplace soon.

3. The boys’ room is coming together too: cornices are hung, sconces are up, existing artwork is up, and I found a dresser this week (technically August, I know). I’m working on a post about the boys’ room, but I did share a couple of sneak peeks on Instagram (@mrsmaypop).

For August, I’m not planning to set any new goals. My goal is to simply tackle the remaining July goals. My parents are keeping the boys for me for a few days, so I’m hoping to tackle several things while they’re gone. Wish me luck!

 

Here’s to getting back up on that horse and to trying again!

 

What are you working on this month? I’m linking up with The Tiny Twig and look forward to checking out the other bloggers who’ve shared their goals too. Let’s keep each other motivated!

 



Extended Breastfeeding and My Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips

 

I’m guest posting at Palmettos and Pigtails today. If you have a few minutes, I hope you’ll stop by Shara’s blog to see one of my favorite places to go with my boys.

 

I'm watching him wiggle his chubby little foot. Sweet, squirmy baby.

I’m watching him wiggle his chubby little foot. Sweet, squirmy baby.

Before World Breastfeeding Week ends, I want to share a few thoughts with you. I’m currently nursing a 20 month old, while pregnant at 30 weeks, and I nursed my first child until past his 3rd birthday. I suppose that places me squarely in the “extended breastfeeding” category.

I never thought I’d breastfeed for so long. I can remember thinking with my first baby that my goal would simply be to make it to the six month mark. It wasn’t until just recently that I even felt comfortable admitting to nursing a toddler, so writing about it very publicly on the internet is a big deal for me. I am not sure how to describe how I felt. I was confident that my decision was the right thing for me and for my boys, yet publicly I was still somewhat…I don’t know…insecure? I was not embarrassed or ashamed, per say, but I certainly didn’t volunteer the information. I would also often omit or gloss over details, even with close friends or family.

I think partly it was a fear of being either misunderstood, or worse, judged. (The backlash this mother received is enough to scare anyone into silence). When others realized I was still nursing, I would receive “wean him before kindergarten” comments, usually surprisingly from family, and even those were early on, maybe just past the one-year mark. Of course, these comments only made me more hesitant to share my experience.

I also didn’t often share my extended breastfeeding experience because I didn’t want my friends who didn’t or don’t breastfeed to feel that my nursing, especially for so long, was in any way a feeling of superiority. If you’re thinking that contradicts my earlier thoughts on feeling misunderstood or judged, then in a way, you’re right. You see, breastfeeding is a funny thing. As a new mom, I personally felt that I “should” breastfeed. Pro-breastfeeding propaganda met me at every doctor’s visit, in every baby book, and on every baby website. Before having children, I felt that I had to at least attempt to breastfeed, and I think that’s partly where my six month goal originated. I felt society pushed me, as a new mother, to breastfeed. It seemed there were statistics and research everywhere, scaring me further into thinking that if I didn’t breastfeed then my baby would be less intelligent, less secure, that we wouldn’t share a strong bond, and that his immunity would be forever weakened.

However, the same society and propaganda that pushed me to nurse as a new mom made me feel weird as I passed the one year mark and like a complete freak once I was nursing a toddler.

I only know one brave friend who said she didn’t want to breastfeed. Period. Didn’t want to. I admire her so much for knowing what she wanted and for doing what was best for herself, which in turn, is also what’s best for her baby. Every single other one of my mommy friends has said “I tried but didn’t produce enough milk,” or “I did until I had to go back to work, and then I couldn’t pump enough”. I’m sure some of these things are very true, and I know that nursing is a very challenging road for many of us. I know that we work through issue after issue, and that many times, these issues keep us from being able to nurse as long as we had hoped. I am also positive, however, that some of these mothers just did not enjoy breastfeeding but felt guilty or ashamed to admit it because society had made them feel that “breast is best”.

So, I continued to be relatively private about my extended nursing. Since I knew how much it hurt to feel judged, I certainly didn’t want to make my friends, and particularly vulnerable new mommies, feel that I was judging them for not breastfeeding. The truth is I still often wonder at how I ended up doing it for so long myself.

Yet, here I am, almost five years in. The longer I’ve nursed, the more I’ve come across other contradictions in nursing too. For example, everything I initially read made breastfeeding seem like the best diet plan ever. Most of my breastfeeding friends quickly dropped the baby weight and many were even slimmer than before baby; they all chalked it up to the extra calories they were burning while breastfeeding. Me? I can’t seem to shake about ten extra pounds. The baby weight comes off slowly after the first twenty pounds, and I don’t have the same muscle tone I had before, despite being consistent in the gym and eating relatively healthy. Luckily, I was able to read other women’s stories online and learn that I was not alone, that some women hang onto a little bit of “cushion” while breastfeeding.

Another contradiction is this whole idea of breastfeeding being such a sweet time with your baby. I find these stories especially unhelpful when I am asking for help. For example, I mention on Facebook that I am so, so, so tired because my one-year old has regressed and is again waking up almost every hour. In response, another mother, often years removed from breastfeeding, will advise me to just enjoy this sweet and fleeting time.

I realize this is meant to be helpful and to provide perspective in the moment. However, and while she is right – this time is sweet and it is fleeting – I already know that. That thought is what sustains me; it is what keeps me nursing until my babies are ready to wean, but it does not help me with the challenge at hand. I can recognize the truth, and there are moments like one earlier this week – Whitt was nursing and rubbing my very pregnant belly with one hand while his other hand was curled around my finger – that are sweet and incredibly tender. There are moments I want to remember always, wishing I could somehow seer them into my mind. But, I also have many moments of wishing he would nurse faster or being irritated that I am the only one that can comfort him sometimes, or just feeling like I don’t want to be touched right now. I remember one friend telling me she nursed her first baby but not her second because she “wanted her body back”. I was pregnant with my first at the time, and I can remember thinking that she meant she wanted to diet and get back in shape and felt that breastfeeding would limit her ability to do so. I’m sure that was partly what she meant, but after nursing two babies, I now know that she probably more meant that she “wanted her body back TO HERSELF”. She did not want to share her body or be physically at the beck and call of another person, no matter how incredibly adorable that little person may be. I understand her feelings, and there are days when I want my body both back in shape and back to myself.

Haley wrote about being “touched out” this week too; again, it is the stories of other mothers that have been so helpful in making me feel like I’m not alone on this breastfeeding journey. After seeing the #normalizeit hashtag on Instagram this week in conjunction with the beautiful #worldbreastfeeding pictures, I realized that I wanted to feel that breastfeeding is “normal”, despite it’s contradictions. So, I asked Eric to snap a (modest; can’t completely change who I am) picture of myself nursing Whitt and started on this post. And, then I sat on it. I was (and still am) nervous about sharing the picture on Instagram or telling my story here on the blog.

Despite my fears, I’m hitting “publish” today. I’m going to share my best tips for breastfeeding here. My hope is that these tips will help another mother who will help another and that, together, we can #normalizeit. I am intentionally not citing any research or statistics. My goal is not to convince you that breastfeeding is best. I’m not convinced myself. Breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding is not glamorous.

But, for me, it has been so worth all of the ups and downs and bends in the road. My goal is to support you if it’s the path that you to find yourself on.

One more thing, I’m not a lactation consultant, and I have no medical training. This is simply my advice, based on my nearly five years of breastfeeding.

Top Ten Breastfeeding Tips for New Moms | the Maypop

 1. Seek professional help. My husband and I met with a doula/lactation consultant/infant nurse (she was all of the three) in our home before and after we had our first baby. What I learned from her was incredibly valuable. So, seek out a lactation consultant and ask her a million questions. Let her touch you and show you how to get the baby to latch properly. The touching thing, the stranger-grabbing-your-engorged-breast thing is awkward, I know, so awkward, but I promise it will be helpful.

2. Get the proper latch. I’m not sure why it is difficult to get the right latch, but it is, especially at first. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that this is natural or instinctual for babies. Trust me, they need help. What’s worked best for me is to grab my breast behind the nipple with my hand. I place my thumb on top and fingers on the bottom, with my thumb and index finger facing outward, and then I place my nipple into the baby’s mouth. (Terrible visual, but picture yourself giving someone else a bite of a thick sandwich.) It’s hard to explain, but I  use my breast to gently push the baby’s lower jaw down, before placing my nipple in his mouth. I do this to make sure the baby has a wide open-mouth latch and that my nipple and areola are fully in the baby’s mouth.  My boys have a tendency to fold their lips under while latching. So, once latched, I use my finger to gently pull the baby’s lips open/up. In my experience, a proper latch is important for a couple of reasons; it will help prevent some discomfort for you, and it will help the baby eat more efficiently.

3. Be prepared to nurse often; a baby’s tummy is tiny. One of the most helpful things that our doula did was to bring a baggie of various-sized balls (marble, ping pong ball, etc) with her to show us how large a baby’s stomach is at different ages. Seeing how tiny a baby’s stomach actually is/was helped me through so many sleepless days and nights. When my newborn would want to nurse every hour, I would remind myself visually of those balls. I would imagine how small his tummy was and how little he was able to ingest, in contrast to how many calories he needed to grow and develop. I googled and found a similar image at Babies First Lactation blog; I hope it’s as helpful to you as the baggie of balls was to me in those early weeks.

via

via

4. Have a glass of water and a snack on hand at all times. I am never hungrier or thirstier than I am during my first few weeks postpartum. And, I swear, I get the worst cotton mouth the minute I sit down to nurse. Make sure you have a glass of water or something to drink before you sit down to nurse.

5. Only offer one breast/side per feeding. I got conflicting advice here, even from the lactation consultants at the hospital. But, the doula/lactation consultant I trusted most told me to offer one side, so this is the advice I went with. Again, I’m not a medical professional and have no training, I am only sharing what works for me. And, what works for me is to only offer one side at a time. Once I started pumping, I could understand why this was true for my own body. I have a second let-down around the 18-20 minute mark of pumping. This second let-down is the rich, nutrient-dense hindmilk, as opposed to the more watery thirst-quenching foremilk. If I switch sides, then my babies are not satisfied because they’ve not received the rich hindmilk. I also think, for me personally, that the longer I let them nurse on a side, the more I was able to produce on each side. Again I received conflicting advice, but after doing more research, I think the general consensus is to offer one side per feeding.

6. Trust your own body and let it be your guide. I know one friend who had one breast that produced more milk than the other breast; my advice to not switch sides would not be best for her. In her case, it may make sense to always start with the less productive breast and then switch to the more productive one. I have another friend who always switches sides and has nursed two babies successfully. So, listen and learn from other mothers, but in the end, do what works best for you and your body.

6.5 Trust your baby’s body too. Pay attention to your baby’s bowel movements and general comfort when you’re nursing. There is conflicting information regarding the extent to which a mother’s diet affects the baby, but in my experience, my diet affected their comfort. Both of my boys reacted when I ate/drank dairy. Harrison’s stools changed in consistency and became almost like silly string, and Whitt was very gassy. If I didn’t eat dairy, they immediately seemed better. Neither of my boys was “allergic” to dairy, and they both outgrew these symptoms after a while, but they were clearly sensitive to dairy early on. Again, I’m glad I trusted my gut (no pun intended) and eliminated dairy despite the conflicting medical information. (This was torture when my friends lovingly brought over the most decadent lasagnas and cheesy casseroles.)

7. Record feedings (and bowel movements and nap times). In the early days and weeks (and often months, if we’re being honest), I am too tired to remember when I fed the baby last or on which side. So, I recommend that you write this stuff down at first. It is helpful if your husband/mother/friend is helping with some bottle feedings too. And, it is great to take this record to the pediatrician visits as a reference too. I tried to “wing it” with my second baby, to go with the flow, but I’m buying a notebook specifically to record this stuff with baby number three. I’m old fashioned and prefer paper and pen, but you could use a phone app, or something like an Itzbeen too.

8. Learn to nurse lying down. It took me several attempts and another visit from the doula to master nursing while lying down, but what a lifesaver it was. Seriously, there were times I felt too tired to hold the baby or times I would catch myself falling asleep while nursing in the chair. Nursing while lying down meant that, if I did fall asleep, at least the baby would not fall from my arms to the ground. (If you’re reading this, please don’t share any thoughts on co-sleeping. I’m simply saying this is what worked for us. We can debate the safety and merits of cosleeping in another post.)

This is how I do it: Place the baby in the center of the bed. Lie down so that the front of your body faces the middle of the bed. Put a pillow behind your back. This will allow you to lean slightly back, to relax a little, and to slightly elevate your bottom breast. When my babies are super tiny, I need to elevate my breast even further, so I tuck a hand towel, burp cloth, or clean diaper under it. As my babies get larger, I find I don’t need to do this. Use the “sandwich” method I described in step 2 to latch the baby. Finally, find a comfortable spot for your bottom arm. I tend to extend my arm straight out, and I find that this stabilizes me even further and keeps me from feeling like I will roll towards the baby.

9. Don’t supplement with formula. As a general rule, if your baby is healthy and is growing at each doctor’s visit and is peeing and pooping regularly, then I would personally not supplement. I don’t think formula is bad. I’ve given both of my boys formula (this is my favorite), and I think the formula/breastmilk balance is something that’s helped me nurse for so long. I’ll talk more about this in another post, but in those early weeks of trying to establish a solid supply, do not supplement with formula. (If formula is medically necessary for the baby to grow and thrive, then of course I don’t recommend against supplementing.)

This was challenging for me, especially with my first baby. He was very jaundiced, and one of the pediatricians in our group pressured me to supplement with formula to help speed the elimination of bilirubin from this system. But, I trusted my gut, and I knew that the baby was nursing frequently and that he was peeing and pooping often too. I spent some time on reputable breastfeeding and medical sites doing research (not WebMD or babycenter, thankyouverymuch). So, I disregarded what the doctor said and kept nursing exclusively. Instead, I made a few follow up appointments so that we could monitor the baby and immediately catch any issues. And, with each pediatrician visit, the baby and the jaundice improved. Another pediatrician in that same group said that because breastfed babies are often more jaundiced than non-breastfeed babies, he can’t help but wonder if bilirubin has some sort of protective prophylactic property that is not yet understood.

 10. Find a support system. I suppose nursing comes easily and naturally to some of us. But for the rest of us, breastfeeding is hard. Breastfeeding is not convenient. Breastfeeding is hardly instinctive. I used to wonder why it was so hard for me, yet mothers in third world countries were able to do it without the help of doulas or lactation consultants or books or kellymom.com. Then, I realized it’s because they have a “tribe” (I don’t necessarily mean this literally, although it is in some cases). What I’m saying is that in other cultures, more so than in America, women are surrounded and supported by the help and wisdom of other mothers. They watch and learn from each other. They help each other. Breastfeeding (and breasts for that matter) are not socially taboo. Before I had children, I don’t remember seeing another woman breastfeed. That’s right, I don’t think I had even seen anyone breastfeed in person. Never. Ever. So, find someone you can ask questions. I had a friend from work that I knew I could ask a million random questions, and I am so thankful for her friendship and support and wisdom (Bonnie, thank you). It was such a relief to know she was just a quick text or email away when I needed something.

Fellow mothers – How can we encourage each other? How can we make sure that new moms feel empowered and educated to make the right feeding decisions for their babies, whether that be bottle or breast? What bottle feeding tips do you have? What breastfeeding tips would you share? Please add them in the comments below. And, please let me know if you have any questions. I will try to address them in the comments or in a follow up post. Also, I’m working on a follow up post for tips on pumping and extended breastfeeding. What questions do you have regarding pumping or for nursing toddlers?

 



Family Recipe Box: Creamy Red Skinned Potato Salad

Red Skinned Potato Salad Recipe | the Maypop

While enjoying the visit with our family this weekend, we had a classic summer supper of hamburgers and potato salad. My mom makes a traditional potato salad; it’s yummy, but I wanted to make something closer to the “baked potato” style recipes that I’ve had other places. Red skinned potatoes are my favorite, and I knew I wanted to use those too. So, I Googled a few recipes, read lots of comments and reviews, made some tweaks, added a few of my own favorite ingredients, and I think I came up with a winner on the first try. Normally, I have a to make a recipe a few times to perfect it, but I honestly would not change a thing about this creamy, red skinned potato salad.

It was good enough, in fact, that I think I’ll add it to my own family recipe box; you know, for posterity’s sake.

On an episode of The Pioneer Woman a couple weeks ago, Ree mentioned that, on the day she married her husband, Ladd, her mother-in-law handed her a stack of recipes cards with a wink. Ever the sentimentalist, this bolstered my own desire to continue to collect, perfect, and save our own favorite family recipes. Now, I’m also looking forward to passing down my boys’ favorites to daughters-in-law one day. I hope this one makes my boys think of summer, of grilled suppers, of late nights, and of fun with their cousins.

Creamy Red Skinned Potato Salad

  • 3 lb bag petite red potatoes; I’d used a couple of potatoes from this bag for another recipe, so I was actually just shy of 3 lbs.
  • 6 boiled eggs. Remove and discard yolks and dice whites. I cheated and bought pre-boiled eggs for the first time.
  • 1 lb cooked, chopped bacon. I cheated again here and used a 3 oz package of real bacon pieces.
  • 1 c mayo
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 1 stalk celery, diced finely
  • Few handfuls of shredded sharp cheddar cheese; I just eyeballed this; I didn’t want it to be too cheesy, but I did want that little bite of sharp cheddar. I added about 3 small handfuls.
  • Green onions. I used 4 green onions, and I would say they were on the medium to small side.
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and dice potatoes, but do not peel them. I like a chunky potato salad, so I left my pieces fairly large. Boil potatoes, making sure not to let them get too soft. You want the potatoes to still be firm enough to stab with a fork and stand up to the other ingredients.

2. If the bacon or eggs were not already cooked, prepare those now too.

3. Drain potatoes and cool in the refrigerator. If you had to boil the eggs, then drain and cool while the potatoes are also cooling.

4. Once everything is cool, it’s time to mix the ingredients together in a large bowl.

5. Start by mixing the sour cream and mayonnaise together first.

6. Then, add the potatoes, eggs, bacon, celery, and green onions.

7. Finally, add the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

8. Toss everything well, making sure not to smash the potatoes in the process. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

PS – Did you know you can “Pin It” to save a post directly to Pinterest from any of my pictures? Hover over the picture and try it on this recipe.



Babiators Rocket Packs

My last post on learning to love where we live and getting outside with our boys made me think of the new Babiators back packs. Have you seen them?

When I think of a children’s brand that embraces the idea of getting outside and exploring, it is Babiators. Their “living the Babiators life” philosophy is spot on, and their products are legit too. (You may remember this post about their Submariners Goggles).

If you’re looking for a bag for your own little explorer, look no further than the Rocket Pack.

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop

I’ve mentioned it before, but Harrison is really into dinosaurs. I’ve also explained that he takes his passions very seriously. And, his latest passion is finding a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Last week, he decided that we were going to find one in the neighborhood. He was convinced we would find a skeleton, and he knew we had to do it asap, before the construction trucks in the neighborhood moved the dirt he had his eye on.

We didn’t find a skeleton that day in the neighborhood, but we did have a great time making memories together. We were outside. We were dirty. We were happy. And, our lack of success was certainly not due to a lack of preparation on the part of my junior paleontologist.

Harrison packed up his bag with the necessary tools – specifically something to hammer the bones from the hard dirt and a paint brush to sweep away the loose sand. These tools were both from a science kit I’d bought him, and I’ll tell you more about that later, but the point is he packed his essentials in his backpack. I love how he obsesses over the right gear, over making sure the tools are real and not toys, and I adore how seriously he takes himself. He has the sweetest little seersucker monogrammed book bag now. It is perfect for taking his toys to Mimi’s house, but it is not exactly right for hunting for dinosaur bones. And that’s why I am so excited about the new Babiators bags – they are exactly the right bags for exploring outside. Perfect for toting dinosaur bones, pirate treasure maps, ropes, rocks, and other adventurer essentials!

Babiators Rocket Packs

After an evening of modeling, Harrison cried when he had to give his pre-production Rocket Pack back. That is how much he loved this bag. In his mind, it looked just like an explorer’s pack should look. He told me how he’d fill each pocket and strap with his tools and important things.

I can’t wait to surprise him with a new Babiators Rocket Pack now that they are available.

Of course, they’re perfect for back-to-school too.

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography
Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography

Babiators Rocket Pack | the Maypop | Gray Benko photography

Finally, and speaking of loving the place we live, the last photos were shot at the historic Timrod Library, which opened in 1915. I had driven by this charming building several times and had been curious about it, but I hadn’t made a point to stop in yet. When Gray and Molly with Babiators were looking for a “bookish” location for these photos, I knew the quaint, historic library would be the ideal setting. I’m so thankful we had time to check it out (no pun intended) and capture these sweet photos of the kids.

What gear have you found to be essential for exploring with your children? Tell me in the comments.

Photos courtesy of Babiators; shot by Gray Benko.



Heirlooms: Tips on arranging and hanging plates and platters

I love heirlooms. I love their stories, their histories, and their patina. Some of my heirlooms are valuable, but mostly, they are just sentimental. I think it is important that heirlooms are used and that they are part of everyday life; at a minimum they should be visibly on display. I think using or displaying them ensures their sentimentality; my hope is that my children will remember using my grandmother’s carnival glass butter dish and that it will be even more special because we used it too. They will have their own memories to pass along with the dish. Displaying and using heirlooms not only keeps them relevant, but it also helps them seem current and fresh too.

That’s right, heirlooms do not have to equal “stuffy antiques that sit on a shelf and collect dust”. 

To prove it to you, I’m starting a series on heirlooms. I’ll feature a few of my favorite sentimental things and will tell you how I use them, and I’d love to feature some of your special treasures too.

First in the series: a few heirloom plates and platters.

This past weekend, I checked an item off of my Home To Do List: I hung a small collection of plates and platters in my dining room.

Arranging and Hanging Plates | the Maypop

This was not the arrangement of assorted metal platters I originally had in mind, but most of my vintage and heirloom brass, silver, and bronze platters were circle-shaped. And, instead of the stunning effect below, I was ending up with something that more or less resembled a large snowman.

Arranging and hanging plates and platters | the Maypop

source?

Luckily, I don’t suffer from a shortage of platters and plates. I am forever finding them at thrift stores and garage sales and in my grandmas’ cabinets. So, I grabbed these oyster plates and a piece of blue willow to round out my silver. Every room needs a little blue willow, right?

In the end, I’m so pleased with this little arrangement. A few plates handed down from my grandmother, two I recently picked up thrifting, and one that was a thoughtful bridesmaid gift. It is a mix of old and new, of sentimental and heirloom pieces, and that’s the curated effect I am after.

Hanging and arranging plates | the Maypop

Tips for Hanging and Arranging Plates and Platters

If you decide to tackle an arrangement like this in your own home, here are a few tips.

1. Test your arrangement on the floor. Lay everything out on the floor before you put a nail in the wall.

2. Pick a focal plate/point. The focal plate does not have to be dead center, but it should be close to the middle of the arrangement. In my arrangement, the large silver platter is the focal point. I hung this platter first, and its placement anchored the others.

3. Work up/down and left/right from your focal point. I’m a traditionalist, so I tend to use symmetry as my guide. The images that inspire me are also balanced. That said, I’ve seen some great abstract and more asymmetrical arrangements. Either way, you’ll want to work out from your focal point.

4. Mix it up! Sure, a great collection of white plates artfully hung on a wall will always be tres chic. That said, don’t be afraid to mix styles and patterns of plates, or to mix pictures and other art with the arrangement. If you’re uncertain, take a look at the images below.

Inspirational Images

Whether they’re working together or apart, James Farmer and Maggie Griffin are experts and arranging plates and platters. (We all grew up in the same, small Georgia town. Maybe this is a local, Hawkinsville-bred talent, one that I’ve hopefully learned too?)

 

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via James Farmer

via Maggie Griffin

via Maggie Griffin

via Maggie Griffin

via Maggie Griffin

via Maggie Griffin

via Maggie Griffin

Here are a few more that inspire me too.

via AD

via AD

via Traditional Home

via Traditional Home

via Harrington House

via Harrington House

 



Watch Hill, RI

If you follow me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop), then you may remember that when I picked up the boys’ vintage metal beds, the previous owner explained that they were purchased at an estate sale at a mansion in Watch Hill, RI.

Vintage Metal Beds | the Maypop

Since then, I’ve been mildly obsessed with Watch Hill. It looks like the quintessential New England coastal village, full of charming cottages, a grand hotel, and shops I’d love to spend the afternoon browsing. Although I’m a Southerner born and bred, I’ve been lucky enough to travel. Florida beaches, especially on the Gulf are undeniably beautiful – the white sugar sand, the crystal blue water; they’re perfect. I love the West Coast landscapes – the rocky cliffs, the smooth tall palm trees, and the evergreens as you get farther north. Of course, I love our local beaches too. I love the mix of marsh grasses, the egrets, herons, and fiddler crabs, and the twisted old oak trees that are ever present on the Georgia and Carolina coasts. But, it is the East Coast, the New England coast, that is most picturesque to me.

Eric’s family lives on the Rhode Island coast, so I think we’ll make a trip to Watch Hill next time we’re visiting. Until then, I can only swoon over images of the classic architecture and pore over the local history online.

As we head into the weekend, want to join me today for a few home tours?

First up, Tom Scheerer’s All-American Colonial Revival, featured in House Beautiful. See the full tour here.

Tom Scheerer, Watch Hill

Tom Scheerer, Watch Hill

Tom Scheerer, Watch Hill

Tom Scheerer, Watch Hill

watchhill1

 

Next up, a couple of cottages from Kate Jackson Design. See more images of both homes here and here.

Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop

Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop

Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop

Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop

Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop
Watch Hill home tours | the Maypop

 

Finally, and my personal favorite, a guest house from Bardes Interiors. It is my perfect mix of comfortable and elegant, traditional without being stuffy or stale. When I think of a home whose pieces are curated over time – blending old and new furnishings, art, and heirlooms – this is exactly what comes to my mind.

Watch Hill Home Tours | Bardes Interiors | the Maypop

 

Watch Hill Home Tours | Bardes Interiors | the Maypop
Watch Hill Home Tours | Bardes Interiors | the Maypop
Watch Hill Home Tours | Bardes Interiors | the Maypop

Watch Hill Home Tours | Bardes Interiors | the Maypop

 



Elf on the Shelf Gets His Own Door

One of my goals this year has been to keep Christmas all year. Mostly, I set this intention with the idea that “random acts of kindness” would happen more often, that we would give more generously, help more often, and forgive more easily, in the way that we all do “because it’s Christmas”. It was the essence of the Christmas spirit that I was (and am still) hoping to capture all year long.

Many of my own childhood memories of Christmas are wrapped up in the magic and fun of the season. My parents always made a really big deal of Santa and of encouraging us to Believe. For example, I have a distinct memory of my Dad calling my brother and me to the front door one Christmas Eve. “Hurry,” he said. “Look! See that flashing red light? It’s Rudolph, flying across the sky! Listen. Can you hear Santa’s sleigh bells?” Another time, I remember Santa Claus calling us on the phone at home to make sure we were being good. I can remember asking him about Rudolph and Mrs. Claus. My Dad has continued that tradition, making certain Santa Claus calls my own little boys.

So, in addition to keeping the Christmas spirit all year, it was (and is) important for me to capture some of the magic and fun of the season too. And friends, that’s just what we did Sunday night.

Our little Elf of the Shelf, Seymour, made an impromptu mid-year return visit. The boys quickly and excitedly spotted him perched on top of the table on Daddy’s Yeti.

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop

 

After carefully removing him from the cooler with kitchen tongs (so as not to touch him), the boys were excited to see that Seymour had delivered a treasure of CapriSuns and popsicles. I let the kids drink and eat this stuff at parties, but I have never bought either for the house. So trust me, this was an exciting moment and very in line with Christmas magic and fun. (Plus CapriSuns were $.79/box at Publix this week!)

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop

 

Then, the kids immediately noticed the new door. Harrison, ever sharp, immediately knew that “Seymour had built his own door!”

Elf on the Shelf Door | Christmas in July | the Maypop

 

With this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy as my inspiration, I picked up two of these little MDF doors at Michaels for under $3/each. They measure ten inches tall; the perfect Elf size.

Unfinished MDF Craft Door for Elf on the Shelf, from Michaels | the Maypop

I painted them white to match the trim in our house (which clearly also needs to be repainted. And, I’d like to paint our walls something other than this manila envelope shade the builder chose, but we’re digressing deeply into not-in-the-Christmas-spirit territory.).

Back to the Elf doors – I then added an old large faux-pearl stud earring to each door for doorknobs. Eric pre-drilled tiny holes in the doors for the earring studs, and then we used super glue to attach the earrings. I’d planned to paint the doorknobs too, but I didn’t mind the pearl color once they were attached. Using 3M strips, we hung one door inside and the other door on the outside of the house. I don’t like that you can see the little 3M tabs, though, so I may end up cutting these off and just chance a little peeling paint when we remove them.

Here’s another shot of Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf, with his door. I think he likes it.

 

Elf on the Shelf Door | the Maypop

He even came back this morning! This time we found him indulging in a little frozen treat of his own. (Cue Olaf with “What Frozen Things Do in Summer”).

Elf on the Shelf Ideas |Christmas in July |the Maypop

My boys have been so excited to have Seymour return, especially unexpectedly and out of season. Magic and fun are in the air around here, for sure, and that’s really what I wanted. I hope they look back and remember these sweet summer days.

Friends, bring your elves back too! Let’s make the rest of July as magical and fun as Christmastime. Tag me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop) or post a link to your blog in the comments. Facebook is great, but it is harder to look back on it for inspiration. And, that’s what I want – to inspire and to be inspired by you.

So, please help me make this post an amazing resource by sharing your Elf on the Shelf ideas in the comments. I will do a round up of Seymour’s visit at the end of the month and link back here too.

Merry Christmas, in July!

PS – When I asked Eric to get in the attic to get our elf, he admitted that he was so relieved to see my labels and said finding him was a snap. He thought it was ridiculous when I was labeling each box at the end of the season, and he didn’t hesitate to roll his eyes at every label. My OCD feels so redeemed!



Baby G3

 

Eric snapped this for me on the 4th of July. I know...my couch slipcover is filthy, and I am shopping for new pillow covers, so the pillows are naked. Just keeping it real for you.

Eric snapped this for me on the 4th of July

As you can see, I’m pregnant with Baby # 3. 25 wonderful weeks pregnant, to be exact. When I was pregnant with Harrison, we called him “Baby G” because we didn’t have a name picked out. Whitt, then naturally, was Baby G2. So this little one is Baby G3 for now. (My last name begins with G.)

If you’ve seen me, then you know I’ve been open about sharing my obvious pregnancy. But with the exception of briefly mentioning it in my goals post last month, I just haven’t been able to announce it to social media or here on the blog yet. You see, with each pregnancy, I’ve become more guarded. I think it’s because, as a mother of two, I know now just how precious babies really are.

 

Harrison as a newborn. Photo by Gray Benko.

Harrison as a newborn. Photo by Gray Benko.

Whitt as a newborn. Photo by Gray Benko.

Whitt as a newborn. Photo by Gray Benko.

When people tell you that there is no love like the love for a child, it is true.

But what I was rarely, if ever told, is a fear like no other also comes along with that love.

If they’re sleeping too soundly, I will check to make sure my boys are still breathing. I will even nudge them, risking waking them, just to be absolutely sure. And, I’m always thinking about the worst case what-if’s scenarios. You know, the crazy stuff – if our car falls over the bridge I’m driving across, how will I get us all out of the water? Why don’t I have a seatbelt cutter? Should I crack the windows now, or wait until we’re submerged? If the house catches on fire while we’re all sleeping, how will I get the boys outside safely from the second floor? Should I buy a fire ladder for each bedroom? Is Harrison big enough to climb down by himself while I carry Whitt, or will I need to come back up?

And then stories like this one bring those crazy fears to life. And my heart just breaks.

Red Balloons for Ryan - send the Saldanas your support

Red Balloons for Ryan – send the Saldanas your support

 

I’ve also watched friends lose babies, two lately at or past the 20 week mark. My heart has ached for my friends. I have felt their losses, as much as one can hurt for another. And, I’ve worried even more about the fragile little one growing inside me.

Love and fear aside, I am so excited about the idea of another little baby around here. So excited. I’ve always wanted three children, so this really feels like a dream coming true. Because this may be my last pregnancy, I am trying to savor it. I am trying not to rush it or wish it away, despite the 20 weeks of morning sickness all day nausea or three months of heat and humidity that will be my third trimester.

I “winged it” with Whitt because he was my second boy. I tried to be relaxed and to go with the flow. But the truth is, I’m a planner at heart, and going with the flow was much more stressful for me than having everything ready. So, for this baby, I’ve made a list and am checking it twice. You can expect several “getting ready for baby posts” and many more thoughts on motherhood.

Especially for you new mothers, what would be helpful? What do you want to know?