happy august...and a thank you

Happy August, friends! This month is going to be so fun! And busy. The boys and I are heading to Iowa for couple weeks to see family and for me to be in a wedding. I'm so excited to see everyone we haven't seen since Christmas, and all of my friends who I haven't seen since I moved 2 years ago! Oh my gosh, I can't believe it's been 2 years. I can't wait. AND while I'm gone, you guys will get to meet a lot of fun bloggers who will be making sure things keep running around here. 

Also, if you guys read my post on blogging this weekend, you'll know I've been thinking a lot about my blog recently and how I want it to be. So I've decided to make the number of readers in my google friend connect box (on the right side) invisible. A.K.A. I changed the font color to white, if any of you feel like doing so as well. I just feel better knowing that the content of this blog will be the main focus, and not the numbers being boasted on the side. So, yeah. New stuff. Good stuff.

I also want to give a huge thank you to a few of my main referrals from last month. As some of you may know I recently dropped off of blog networking sites requiring votes. This of course has made me work a lot harder to keep this blog growing. And thank you to these four blogs for sending lots of people my way! I really do appreciate it. 

gettin' pretty tutorial

I'm not much of a girly girl. I don't wear a ton of heavy makeup. I'd rather look like I'm not wearing much. Some people really look good with thick eyeliner, lots of eye shadow, crazy wild lipstick, etc on a regular basis but I just don't feel comfortable that way. 

I feel most comfortable looking the most like the natural me as I can. I feel like I'm not hiding behind makeup and that there are no reals surprises when people see me without it. (I know some women who cake it on but really look most beautiful without all of it!)

I find it interesting to learn everyone's routine. We all have our own way of doing our makeup based on things we've read, what our moms taught us when we were little. This is what I've developed for myself and what seems to work. 

And it takes about 5 minutes.
(Click on images for a closer look)

STEP 1: Concealer. Use a shade lighter than my skin. It also helps cover up red spots and zits that aren't camouflaged by my freckles.

STEP 2: Mineral Foundation. I love powdered mineral foundation. This brand is super light and I don't feel like I have something caked all over my face. I hate the feeling of foundation. I feel greasy and dirty for some reason. This helps give me a more even skin tone...minus the freckle mustache.

STEP 3: Cheeks and eyes. I like to use this stick on my eyes even though I'm not sure it's supposed to be used for eyes. It just matches my cheeks and adds just the right amount of color.

STEP 4: Eyeliner

STEP 5: Mascara. I love the Covergirl stuff. Always give me a major boost in the eyelashes department. I have long lashes and I really like to play them up. I do curl them sometimes. I heat up the eyelash curler on my curling iron for a few seconds, then curl my lashes 3 times, one squeeze at the base, middle and tips. It helps give a full curl. 

And that's it! I usually pull my hair into a couple of close, low, messy bun pigtails and twist my bangs back and pin them in the back. Add a pair of cute earrings and DONE!

What beauty products/tips do you swear by??



The baby days are over, friends. Yesterday I walked with the boys over to our apt. complex playground. We haven't been there yet because it's filled with wood chips (which sucks for non-walkers) plus, it's a beeotch to get 2 boys down our stairs, in a stroller and over there. 

So I devised a plan.

I put Isaiah in the Ergo on my back and carried Julian, and we walked over to the playground. I wasn't sure how they'd do, the wood chips are weird. They haven't walked around in public with shoes on before. They haven't walked in shoes really at all. 

The playground has a little cement ledge around it and I sat Julian down, and put Isaiah in the wood chips. He didn't stand, just sat and watched everything. They pointed to trees and cars and birds and butterflies. After about 15 minutes of just sitting there I stood Isaiah up on the cement. He just stood there. Julian stayed seated at his little cement perch. 

I was really encouraging them to walk, that you don't just walk inside our house barefoot. And after a little coaxing, Isaiah started to go. And he didn't stop. The kid was ready to explore. The only problem was that I'd stood Julian up at the park bench and he didn't want to go anywhere. He was having shoe issues (still figuring out that they aren't cement blocks). 

I chased Isaiah down and set him in the wood chips where I knew he wouldn't go anywhere and put Julian up in the Ergo on my back. I took Isaiah out of his wood-chip playpen and stood him up on the sidewalk...and followed him all the way home. It took some navigating, some turning him around when he wanted to go all over...but we got back home. And he walked the whole way.

Dude. He looked just like a real kid. A little boy just walking everywhere. It was so awesome. All you people with just one little kid to chase around should count your blessings because there was a moment when I was chasing after Isaiah and saw Julian way across the playground and I realized how not much longer and he will be going the opposite direction.

But it was a fun little adventure. And their first taste of freedom. 

about blogging

I like blogging, I really do. I've met some really cool people through my blog, I've been inspired to open an etsy shop because of the blogs I read, I think I've been able to help or maybe inspire some people through my blog but most importantly, I have a daily record of motherhood. How awesome is it that on any particular day when I'm feeling a little sentimental I can click on pretty much any day of the boys' lives and see what they were doing, what I was feeling, etc. (And I really do look back....a LOT.)

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my blogging philosophy. I entered the blogging world blindly. As someone who wanted to keep my family and friends updated on our lives so far away. I quickly learned of this huge world of "mom blogging". I guess that's what I am, since I blog a lot about being a mom. I like the support I've seen in the world of mom blogging. When someone has a problem or question, you're likely to get at least one person commenting to help you out.

I don't ever want anyone to feel unwelcome here. This blog is not in competition with any other blogs. If I were trying to make money, maybe. But that's not why I'm here. I'd like to continue to connect with my readers. I want to hopefully inspire someone along the way. My blog is a lot like I am in real life....and I'm a lover. And a dreamer.

I know I've been turned away when trying to network with bigger blogs. It's such a sucky feeling. They don't care who I am. They care about the numbers, they care about what I can do for them. People don't want to work with a blog smaller than theirs if they don't think the return will be equal to their investment. As my blog readership grows, I don't want anyone to ever feel that way here. No matter how big or small, if you ask for my help or reach out to me, I will respond. 

I don't want to be one of those blogs. I'm ok with being small. I love the people I've met and yes, I'd love to expand my readership but I'm going to do it on my terms, and without shoving others down to get there. And it's hard not to get sucked into the competition. Seeing that number of followers and page hits grow is a nice feeling, but only if you feel good about how you're doing it. 

I encourage everyone to always put yourself in someone else's shoes. And remember that blogging is a beast that can get way out of hand if you forget who you are and why you started it.

the mushy gushy part

I really tried to cut down on the amount of pictures in this post but I just love every single one of them. These two little boys are my life. They have changed me more in the past couple of years than I've changed in my entire life. The unconditional love and warmth I feel in my heart when I look at these boys is just...overwhelming. Usually I'm pretty good with words, but today I can't find them. My love for them is beyond any word I know.

Sometimes it's nice to remember how incredibly blessed we are. We weren't ready to be parents. The timing wasn't ideal. But I don't think our lives were truly complete until the boys arrived. Our lives weren't over. Having a child is like a rebirth of your own. You discover so much about yourself through your children. You get a chance to re-live life, to shape a mind, to be absolutely everything to someone. 

I am so thankful and so happy and so proud that Chikezie and I made these beautiful boys. 

Thank you Julian and Isaiah for letting me and daddy be yours.

Favorite Fridays at Skinned KneesGive me your best shot at Better in BulkPhotoStory Friday  Photobucket"

two boys



Isaiah and Mama.

We've been seriously lacking on dude pictures the past few days. They were sick and I was sick and I really didn't feel like taking any pictures. And who wants to see another snot-nosed kid? We're feeling a little better around here even though Chikezie now has what we had last week. 

They are getting so big. Each age they reach is a new favorite for me. They're learning so much every day and surprise me with things they know. Like today I asked Isaiah where his ears are. I don't think we've done a lot of "ears" at this house. We do a lot of nose, belly button or hair pointing. And surprisingly Isaiah pointed right to his ear! It was an awesome surprise and a nice indicator that all my talking to them is really starting to pay off. 

Also, from now on I'm going to try to label the pictures of the boys more so it might be easier to distinguish who is who for some of you. (Even though I know not many people can tell them apart, they do look different.) But I've had a lot of comments lately of people complimenting me on my cute son...and so hopefully labeling them will make it more apparent that I have two!

and then, she {snapped}Grace Loves the Beatles

let's swap, yo

Why WOULDN'T you want to swap ads with this next month? I have a bunch of subscribers. I post all the time. And I'm baller status.

And you are probably compelled to write a guest post, too.

Because I'm going on vacation for two weeks. And I want people to still come to my blog but I don't feel like writing a post of my own because I'll be on vacation, you know. So you'll write a guest post about whatever the heck you want to talk about, and then my readers will like it an go to your blog and follow you. And in return, my monthly blog stats won't take a death plunge (because you'll tell YOUR readers to come to my house to see what you wrote), my readers will still be semi entertained, and we'll all be happy and join hands in a continuous line encircling the earth while singing songs about peace and joy while rocking back and forth.

Email me, dawg.

Wordlessish Wednesday

Julian is good at giving kisses. I can usually get nose and forehead. 
Gosh I love being a mom. 

Tuesday Tunesday

I haven't done a Tunesday in a while! I've been listening to some good stuff recently and I think you'll like it, too. If not, you suck. No, just kidding. I just wanted to see if you were actually reading. 

I'm in LOVE with Foster the People. I found them a few months ago (maybe old news to some people) but seriously. Their music just makes me happy. The boys love it.  I want to be at this concert dancing in the front row.

The Black Keys. Isaiah likes this song:

And I KNOW Kanye is kind of a crazy person BUT, his Graduation album is one of my favorite albums. The beats on every song are just right, and I just kind of love this style/side of Kanye. Then he got all weird and changed everything on his next record but I'll still hold a special place in my heart for Graduation. AND it reminds me of one of my bff's Molly...her wedding is next month and I predict a little Kanye. 

What have you been listening to this week?

traveling advice needed!

Next month the boys and I will be heading to Iowa for a couple weeks to visit family and so I can be in one of my best friends' wedding. I'll be flying by myself both ways with the boys and since we're flying through Allegiant, it's a single 3-ish hour flight. 

When we went home over the holidays, Chikezie and I flew together there and I stayed longer with the boys and flew back with them by myself. My dad was able to get a gate pass so he was there to help me lug the boys and the infant car seat through security. They also had to check the bottles and baby food we had with us. Plus winter coats/gear, I was sweating by the time we were through. But it was nice having an extra set of hands.

This time will be a little different because I'm flying both ways by myself and we don't have the infant car seat anymore. We'll be needing to take our big boy car seat with us on the plane. I'm HOPING Chikezie will be able to get a gate pass at LAX to help get me through security and keep the boys occupied before we board the plane. But I'm not quite sure how logistically this will all work out.

This is what we'll have at the airport:
  • 1 giant suitcase we'll check
  • a carryon backpack (aka diaper bag)
  • the ergo carrier for me to hold a boy
  • car seat
  • and another boy
Here's what I'm thinking: after we check the big bag, that leaves the car seat, both boys, the backpack and the ergo. I can carry a boy in the ergo, wear the backpack and Chikezie can pull a boy in the car seat with one of these. I'm thinking of getting it because then if I'm left with boys by myself I can handle everyone.

I can tell the extra helpers at the gate that I need someone to help get the car seat on the plane and I can use the carrier/hold the other boy as we board the plane if someone can strap the car seat in for me. And we'll have to wait and be the last ones off of the plane probably so that someone can help unstrap the car seat and get it off of the plane. I think the wheels should store in the overhead compartment. Or somewhere. I don't know.

Anyways. These are all the things I'm trying to think of. This time traveling is a little different because they're bigger and I can't hold the car seat.

  So...if you've traveled with twin toddlers before or two kids around the boy's age, I need some advice or tips you may have!

Mondays Are Awesome Vol. 5

That's right. Mondays ARE awesome. I'm determined to start your week off on a fun note. This week we're going to get to know the fun side of Alaythea from Rock 'N' Roll Hideaway. I'm kind of excited for you guys to meet this cute lady and her even cuter little fam.

Alaythea Carroll/24/North Carolina

Married to Benjamin aka Beej
Kid: Gianna Elyn age 4

What would be your dream job?
My dream job would be naming other people's kids! For real. I have this love of names and origin and meanings and I think so many times people put no effort into truly coming up with a thought out name for their child. But on a more "for real" level I'd have to say massage therapist - I love the quiet relaxation of massages, I think it would be such a peaceful job!

Name a secret talent.
Well, I don't know if most people would think of this as a talent but I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue! Oh, yeah. I bet right now you are attempting to touch yours and see if you are as talented as I am!

Pet peeves...I know you have them.
My biggest pet peeve is when people are late - drives me nuts. But its even worse if they don't call or text and at least be nice enough to tell you they are late! Oh, and it drives me nuts that my hubby doesn't rinse his cereal bowl out when he takes it to the sink, so the cereal drives on the bowl. Grrrr!

What is one of your bad habits?
I have a bad habit of twirling my hair when I get nervous or bored. My hubby points it out a lot. But it's replaced my nail biting, which I occasionally resort to during intense movie scenes. 

What is something naughty you did when you were a kid?
When I was about 8 my dad gave me my first pocket knife, we lived out on a farm and a small pocket knife wasn't a big deal and he had taught me how to use it and be careful. And he told me "No matter what you do not let ANYONE else use this knife." The next day I was out playing with our neighbors and their daughter, who was my age, asked to use my knife. I said sure.....and she sliced her finger wide open! I got in so much trouble!

Best concert you've been to.
We saw Coldplay is concert a couple of years ago and it was incredible but we were pretty far away. Probably the best live, up close and personal show I've seen would be Mute Math. They put on an amazing show that we've seen like 4 times now and it never gets old! 

What is the best thing about you?
Best thing about me? Geez. I have no idea! I tend to see the negative in myself LONG before I see the positive. I tend to be a peace make, I guess. I don't like to cause problems or issues so I'm usually the one trying to find a comprise that suits everyone and keeps everyone happy. 

Have you met anybody famous? If not, who would you like to meet?
I've met the guys from Mute Math, they are fairly famous. I'm proud of that. I've met several Christian music artists (Plus One and Stacie Orrico). But that's about it. I'd love to meet Kristen Stewart and Celine Dion!

Name something you love and something you absolutely despise. 
I love working out, I love pushing myself and feeling like I've accomplished something at the end when I'm out of breath and sweating like mad! And I despise cleaning especially laundry and toilets. I put it off and put it off.....I'm not OCD or organized and cleaning just isn't my thing at all!

Your drink of choice. (I'm talking alcoholic but if you don't drink, that's cool too.)
I don't drink a lot but if I do I prefer fruity stuff like a Strawberry Daiquiri or Smirnoff Ice Green Apple malt beverage. Yum!!! Oh, and the Wallaby Darned at Outback is unreal good!

Do YOU want to be awesome on a Monday? Email me at mamamandolin@gmail.com to participate. You'll get this feature post all to yourself, get to show the world your silly side, and get some prime real estate up on my right side bar for the week you're featured.

Happy Monday, friends.