Meagan Musing: April 2013

Meagan Musing


A Random Weekend Recap

My friend Elaine used to host a Miscellaneous Monday link-up, and let's just say that today's post would totally fit in over there.

Except that at this point it's barely still Monday. Oops.

We had a beautiful weekend here in Dallas and we spent about 85% of it outside. Poor Caroline had a fever most of the weekend and didn't feel well, but she wanted to "go, go" so we kept buckling her into her stroller for a "ride".

It's her favorite thing these days.

Whatever you say, pretty lady.

Our first delivery from Greenling came last Thursday night, and I was so excited about all those fruits and veggies! I wanted to cook Friday night, but our kitchen faucet leaked AGAIN, so we had I don't even remember Friday night.

But also included in our delivery were sweet little limes from McAllen, Texas and we had tequila in the pantry so Brian made margaritas. They kind of helped me get past the leaky faucet. :)

But by Saturday our kitchen was fixed (kind of), and I cooked. I can't wait to tell y'all more about Greenling later this week. I'm a new fan for sure!

I like to have slow, laundry doing, closet cleaning, music listening, water playing (in the summer), list making Sundays. But this Sunday was packed, and I had so much fun I didn't mind it a bit.

Andrew and I went to church while Brian stayed home with feverish Caroline. Then we stopped by Whole Foods, had a quick lunch at home and headed to a friend's birthday party at Pump It Up.

It was our 4th party there this spring. Andrew loves it so much. He's a pro at this point! We had to stop at Kroger on our way home because we were out of paper towels - I know. Mom fail.

So together we survived our second grocery store trip of the day.

And then I cooked again!

After our terrible dinnertimes last week I told Brian I was going to spend my cooking energy on the weekends when he's around and just kind of throw stuff together during the week when we're all so busy and he's not really here anyway.

I think this is the best plan for my sanity in this season.

And that gets us caught up to today, when I went to work and the Container Store. I'm going to organize all my bento lunch supplies this week. I need some serious help there. Like stuff sometimes falls out of the cabinet when I open the doors.

So happy totally random Monday, y'all. I hope it was a good one. :)

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Preschool Bentos - Weeks 26 & 27

We've had such a mild spring. We've had many cool rainy days and even some really cold nights, but I'm not complaining one bit. It'll be hot soon and I'll take this for now.

So I've been trying to brighten up our lunches with some spring-y bright colors. :)

Tuesday, April 16

I received some new little picks last week so Andrew had turkey roll-ups on hat picks. He thought they were too cute. He had both mustard and ketchup for dipping, a few blue corn tortilla chips, apples (soaked in lemon water) and some peanut butter puffer cereal. This was packed in the Lego box from

Caroline's lunch was adorable - apple chunks and turkey roll-ups with animal picks, peanut butter puffer cereal and a few pistachios in a sauce cup. It was packed in the little panda stacking box. I also included a fruit pouch.

So cute! It doesn't hold a ton of food, but it's great for the early preschool set who doesn't need to take a really big lunch anyway.

Thursday, April 18

I packed Andrew a little cat-shaped PB&J because he'd drawn all over himself with black washable marker on Wednesday trying to BE A CAT. So he thought this was way fun. I stamped the cheese with this little stamper set. I think they're too small for sandwiches, but they're great for cheese. He also had strawberries, a few carrots, pretzel squares and some mini chocolate chips in the sauce cup.

This was packed in these small LunchBots boxes. I love them. They're so clean and the bigger one holds the silicone cups just right. I think they make your food look nice. :)

Tuesday, April 23

Andrew had a few puzzle shaped ham and mustard sandwiches, heart shaped cheese, strawberries, ketchup and stacked peanut butter crackers. This was packed in a little sandwich box I found at Target this spring.

Caroline's lunch was packed in our new apple locking box. It's a great size! She had turkey, heart shaped cheese, pirates booty, raspberries and cashews in a sauce cup.

The box looks like this:

I like that it locks on its own and doesn't need a band.

Thursday, April 25

Frogs! I sent Andrew with a frog shaped PB&J, grapes with a little frog pick, watermelon with a mini watermelon star, graham sticks and cashews in the sauce cup. He was so excited about the watermelon. Is it possible to eat too much watermelon? My kids could get there this summer.

And speaking of is almost out! We have three weeks of school left. Whoa! I don't know what my plan is for the bentos this summer.

Do y'all have anything you'd like to see me focus on while the kids are home? Just at-home lunch options? Thoughts?

As always, let me know if you have any questions! My kids are eating a better lunch and I'd love to help you help your kids too. :)

P.S. is having a big lunchbox sale! Almost all of their little boxes are on sale. Now is a great time to stock up for next year!

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Dinnertime = Wild Time

I'm running a little late to get dinner started, but not too late. It's 5PM and the chicken has been cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon. It smells wonderful, but sadly it's a little dry. All I need to do to get it on the table is heat the tortillas, chop the onion and cilantro, and mix up some kind of a sauce to go with our "street" BBQ chicken tacos.

I send Andrew upstairs to watch Wild Kratts (because the downstairs TV is broken (ugh!)) and sit Caroline down at the table with two graham crackers. Otherwise she just wants me to hold her because it's 5PM and that's what she wants everyday at 5PM.

The graham crackers keep her occupied for maybe ten minutes.

Then Andrew's back downstairs asking for a snack. Can't these children see that dinner will be on the table in FIVE minutes if they'd just let me get it all together??

I finally get their tacos made, and manage to bribe them into sitting down at the table. I put their plates down in front of them and get back into the kitchen to fix my tacos, and I realize that before I've even sat down Caroline has dumped her entire plate - chicken, tortilla, shredded cheese and chips - onto the floor.

Uh oh she says.

*!*!*!!** I say in my head even though I really want to say it out loud.

Andrew asks for his cheese to be melted so I pop some in the microwave for him. And he wants his chips crumbled. He spends way too much time getting his taco just the way he wants it and then he tells me it's not really very good and he wants a granola bar.

Um, no.

I've given in to the screeching and Caroline is having a fruit pouch. That doesn't seem quite fair so Andrew gets an applesauce and I've eaten half my taco.

I try to ask Andrew about his afternoon with his babysitter and what kind of craft they made and if they were able to have that picnic, but Caroline is begging for more chips and the dog is barking at the back door and Andrew doesn't really want to talk, he wants to play with his food.

And I wonder, why? Why do I try to make them sit down and eat dinner like civilized people? We do hold hands around the table and pray every night, but that's pretty much the only positive thing that comes of this experience these days.

Brian makes it home for our dinner maybe once during the work week. (Thankfully he's always here on the weekends.) The rest of the time he reheats leftovers that have been sitting out since the kids and I ate at 5:30 because right after dinner we need to jump in the tub or run out in the backyard for a few minutes before jammies and bedtime.

Family dinners are so very important to me, but when Brian consistently can't make it home in time are they really family dinners?

Can't I just feed them apple juice and cheese sticks, eat a Lean Cuisine and make sure Brian has stuff for a turkey sandwich when he gets home??

No. I guess not.

I'll keep on keeping on. They'll be bigger soon. Caroline will get more cooperative eventually. (She's really a pretty good eater. Maybe the graham crackers were a bad idea.)

How do you handle dinnertime? 

Am I insane for even trying with a four year old and a 20 month old??

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Build 'em Up: Friendship

The topic for this week’s Build ‘em Up series with KellyJenniferCourtney and Erin, is friendship – making and keeping friends - specifically in this season of mothering little ones.

After Andrew was born I knew I really, really needed to find some mom friends. I was the first of my close college friends to have a baby, and I needed local support as I plowed through those first few sleepless months of motherhood.

Our church has a group for new moms that forms every three months so that the babies are all close in age. I called shortly after Andrew was born and signed up and I'm so, so grateful I did.

I can't imagine how different motherhood would be for me without these girls.

We spent those first few months sharing birth stories and sleep stories and breastfeeding stories. Then we all moved onto the toddler phase and we commiserated about life with a two year old.  Now most of us have second (and some have third!) children, but we still get together often to talk about motherhood and lots of other fun stuff too.

Our kids go to each other’s birthday parties and they’re in Sunday School together. Our husbands are friends and look forward to seeing each other at the annual Halloween costume photo. :)

I know so many people who have made great friends through the New Mom’s Group at our church. It’s a wonderful opportunity, and if you have a new baby I’d encourage you to reach out at your own church to see if they have something like it.

But even if you didn’t make friends while you were home with your new baby, once your children are old enough to jump into activities, whether it’s Gymboree or the church choir or soccer, it’s a little easier to make friends. You’re out and about with your kids and you obviously have something in common.

But you still have to be willing to put yourself out there which can be hard, but is so worth it. Moms need friends. Even if busy schedules keep you from spending lots of time together you can still send an encouraging text when you know a friend is having a rough week. Or you can swing by with dinner when you know a friend is home with a sick kid.

We all need support and inspiration and fellow moms make awesome, encouraging friends.  I know I would be lost without mine. :)

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All Dressed Up

Brian and I got all dressed up in our snazzy best Saturday night and headed downtown with Kelsey and Matt and my parents to live it up at the Rockwall Women's League Charity Ball.

This was our second year to attend. Last year the ball was held in a huge barn in a pretty spot out in the country. And it was fun, but it was hot and humid and we all had fuzzy hair.

Last night's fancy ballroom party was much more comfortable.

Except for the shoes.

I wore these. Not only did I wear them all night, but I danced in them all night. My feet may never forgive me, but it was worth it. The band was fabulous. They were a bit like a toned town version of the Spazmatics - awesome.

The Reid girls all dressed up.
I was super happy with my dress and I'm bummed I didn't get a picture of the whole thing. It has a full ruffled skirt. I'm hoping I have a reason to wear it again soon. Kelsey was glowing in her coral dress and mom was just beautiful in her regal purple gown.

So fun to see Dad in his tux. As a member of the the Women's League, Mom worked hard to help set up and prepare for the party. It was so nice to see all their hard work pay off.

They had pretty flowers on the tables and they were up high so we could see around them. It's my favorite way to do centerpieces.

And maybe my favorite part of the party was the little flipbook we had made of us in silly costumes.

So much fun! (PicFlips had a little booth set up and they did a great job! I think this would be the BEST wedding party activity.) We'll treasure our little flip book for a long time. And Brian may grow a big mustache. :)

It's so fun to get dressed up and go to a party! I'm looking forward to next year's ball already!

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Family Routine

This has been the weirdest week. I sat down tonight and thought is it really only Thursday??

We had a leak in our kitchen faucet and had to have it replaced.

In the meantime our kitchen was out of commission with all the under the sink supplies hanging out on our counters and little water available for all the normal day-to-day kitchen activities like washing dishes. So I was ridiculously happy to clean everything up last night after the new faucet was finally installed and running.

My car needs new tires again. Not a huge deal, but it's a 2007 and I've been wanting a bigger car for a while now anyway, so it seemed like a good time to go ahead and start car shopping. Well, car shopping turns out to be a much bigger deal than getting new tires.

So a whole lot of my week was eaten up by car shopping and decision making.

And Brian worked late every night this week. Again, not a huge deal, but in the middle of this weird week it made things harder.

And you know, those are just the little things here in our house that threw me for a loop. It's wild how a few little disruptions and changes to our routine can knock us off our family axis.

But I can't even imagine how the families that were directly impacted by the terrible tragedies in Boston and West, Texas are dealing with it all this week. My heart breaks for these families who were going about their daily lives, settled into their routines and then literally, boom, everything's changed.

I'm sure my kids haven't noticed that this week has been weird. I want to shelter them for as long as we possibly can. They're so little. I've kept the news off and Andrew has no idea that anything terrible has happened anywhere.

Or even that I've felt crazy and harried with all our regular routine disruptions. They are still so innocent and lovely and full of joy, just as they should be. My prayer this week, and always really, is that children everywhere could live with the same innocence.

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Upgrade to Lightroom 4

I've officially made the switch from Lightroom 3 to Lightroom 4.

I've loved Lightroom 3 for years. It's an integral part of my workflow, and I do 85% of my editing in it so it was pretty scary to switch.

In fact, it took me a while. The upgrade is really reasonably priced so one day back in December I thought, why not, and downloaded it.

But then I couldn't make my RAW files work with my old CS5 version of Photoshop and I really didn't want to upgrade to CS6. So. I just left LR4 sitting on my hard drive and kept plugging away in LR3.

Then I kept thinking about buying some new presets, but I hated to buy them for LR3 when I knew LR4 was out there waiting. So, again, what to do?

Well, I had to figure out how to make LR4 and CS5 work together with my RAW files. Enter lots and lots of Google searches, and I finally figured out I needed to convert my files to DNG's when I import them into LR4.

It turns out there are lots of benefits to converting to DNG anyway, and you can read about them in this super helpful article from Rock the Shot. There's a lot of info there, but the main reason I decided to switch my file type was to get my LR4 edited RAW files to work in CS5.

So now that I can successfully use it with my version of Photoshop what am I liking about it?

Well, there's quite a few new features.

The biggest one within the develop module is that we now have Highlights, Shadows, and Whites versus Recovery, Fill Light and Brightness.

Let's look at this image opened in LR3:

You can see that LR3 opened with its preset +50 brightness and +25 Contrast. There's also a lot of blown highlights on Andrew's back, but his face and the rest of the image aren't that bright.

So I wanted to brighten the whole thing up a bit while recovering some of the blown highlights on the back of his shirt. So I upped the recovery to get back those blown spots, and then upped fill light to brighten the rest of the image. I also upped blacks a bit to give it some more depth in the little bit of shadows around his edges.

It's an okay edit and I'd be happy with it, but it's a little too bright overall.

So how does it look in LR4?

Right off the bat you can see that all the sliders start out at zero. Also the blown highlights that we saw in LR3 aren't there. Better start already!

In LR4 the exposure slider focuses on the midtones of the image rather than the whole photo. I admit this has thrown me for a loop a bit, but it's nice to have a more targeted adjustment. So here I upped my exposure just a tiny bit to brighten up the midtones (which is the part of the image that's neither a highlight nor a shadow -  it's the middle of the histogram) in the photo. Then since I'm still learning LR4 I just played with the sliders until I saw what I liked. :)

Here are the two edits side-by-side.

I'm definitely happier with the LR4 image. It's a subtle difference, but I felt like I had a lot more control with the sliders in LR4.

I like that the red of the tennis court kept more of its color and isn't so washed out in the LR4 version because I didn't have to up its brightness to increase the brightness elsewhere. And the same happened with the stones in the background. Andrew's face looks brighter, but not as gray as it does is the LR3 version.

I've also been using my favorite presets from One Willow in LR4. I bought the Palette Collection which was created just for LR4 and I've been happy with it. It has a lot more hazy/film type options than I was able to find in LR3.

Here's an example of a LR4 image with a Palette Collection preset.

It's a little hazier that I'd typically go for, but it's pretty. And I could tweak it and make it a little more subtle.

And one of the best benefits I've found so far is that Ligtroom 4 is faster! It takes longer to upload my RAW images as DNG files, but then working within LR4 is much quicker. It takes less time to generate a preview and I'm not waiting around for the image to come into focus when I pull it up out of the library.

So I think I'm going to like Lightroom 4. It took me a long time (and now I hear they're testing a Lightroom 5 in beta. Hahahaha. I'll wait!) but I think the switch was worth it.

Do you have any Lightroom 4 presets you love and want to recommend?

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Caroline seems to have finally given up her 4:30 or 5AM nursing session which is wonderful. I'm so, so glad. But it also means she's up for the day by 7AM now.

Which is not that bad I know, but we're a late night household.

I'm working on changing that, but somehow 7AM is a lot earlier than 8AM on a Saturday.

We are finally going to make it to the kids' swimming lessons this morning. Our Saturdays have been filled this spring, and we've missed the pool. I'm so looking forward to summer and weekends in the water.

After swimming lessons I'm leaving the kids and taking one of those "me" days I talked about this week. My sister and my mom and I are going shopping. Woohoo for new spring clothes!

If I find anything fabulous I'll be sure to share it with you.

But first I wanted to tell y'all about Whitney Rae Paper.

I met Whitney at the Handmade Marketplace at Blissdom. I was immediately drawn to her paper goods because I love all things pretty paper, but her camera stamp jumped right out at me.

I neeeeeded that stamp. I've been stamping all kinds of stuff - my planner, blank note cards, the kids - kidding! Kind of.

If you love photography and you love paper you should put one on your list.

Happy Saturday friends. :)

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Preschool Bentos - Weeks 24 & 25


We missed a whole week of school two weeks ago.

Andrew had to have some tiny little cavities filled and sealant put on his back baby teeth. The dentist says he has super deep and groovy teeth. Ha! I told Andrew that was really cool - groovy teeth. :)

But that also means we've had to eliminate our gummy/chewy snacks. We used Scooby fruit snacks as rewards or special treats for months, but not anymore. Poor kid was sad, but he's been a trooper about it.

And he gets to eat these awesome lunches all the time so he should never, ever complain about anything, right?? Hahahaha! No.

And then we got the stomach bug that wouldn't quit later that week and we missed another day of school. So he was super excited to finally get back to it. And he ate all his lunch. :)

Tuesday, April 2

Elephants! Andrew had elephant shaped naan, peanut butter celery, ham roll-ups with ketchup, blueberries and a tiny cup of marshmallows. I added a few little circus picks to continue the elephant theme. It was packed in our frog box.

Caroline had ham and star shaped naan, strawberries and baby goldfish. I'm loving these little strawberry picks.

Thursday, April 4

Andrew had the cutest lunch. I used these car cutters to make his PB&J's. He also had grapes, bunny grahams, cashews and mini chocolate chips in a cherry cup from this set.

Tuesday, April 9

I hadn't been to the store yet this week when it was time for lunch on Tuesday. Oops. So Andrew had star shaped PB&J's, graham sticks, blueberries and carrots and a few marshmallows in the Lego box. I packed this lunch in a new box I found at Target. It's adorable and I think it was only $3.99. I found it last week on the aisle with the other kid dishes. It's their Circo brand if you're looking for it.

Caroline also had star shaped PB&J's. I packed a few graham sticks, sliced grapes and cashews in the pea pod cup from the same set as the cherries. She also had a Plum fruit pouch. Those things are her love language. (The giant silicone cup is back in stock at All Things for Sale.) And Caroline got a new Target box too.


Thursday, April 11

Today Andrew had turkey roll-ups with ketchup, blackberries and raspberries, pretzel squares and marshmallows. I also threw in a GoGo Squeeze Applesauce pouch I picked up at Blissdom. Love those things! And you know how much Andrew loves dinosaurs so those guys spiced things up a bit. I packed it in our Lunchbots Duo. It's a great box, but Andrew needs help getting the lid off.

As always, let me know if you have any questions about our boxes or supplies. I'd love to help y'all pack a lunch your kids will want to eat! :)

P.S. Don't forget to like me on facebook for even more awesome lunch inspiration and finds. :)

Here are a few of my favorite Bento supplies from Amazon:

{Affiliate links used}

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Making Time for You

A few of my favorite bloggers, Kelly, Jennifer, Courtney and Erin, are doing a great series on encouraging moms who are in the season of little ones. I'm certainly there and could use a little encouragement. I bet lots of you could too.

I wanted to join in and share a bit this week on remembering you and taking time to keep your own identity even after you become Mom.

This can be so hard when you’re at home with a newborn, especially as a first time mom. I remember those first three months after Andrew was born as mostly a big blur of hormones and worrying about sleep and nursing and quite a few tears from both of us.

The very last thing I had on my mind was getting out and doing something fun for myself.

And then when Caroline was born…whoa. It took  me almost six months to get my feet back under me. Being at home with a non-napping toddler and a newborn left me feeling so exhausted and run-down that I didn’t have much left in my tank for me.

Oh, those new baby lips.
But the fog lifted….they did not stay tiny forever. And eventually they slept, kind of. And eventually I found the energy to leave the house again. :)

One of my favorite ways to spend a “me” day is with my mom and my sister. We love to shop together, try on shoes and lipstick and sunglasses, have a long lunch and laugh a lot. I wouldn’t say any of us are expert shoppers, but we really love to spend an afternoon at the mall together.

Awesome new lipstick makes me happy. #febphotoaday
New lipstick makes me happy.
Mom and Kelsey are two of my very favorite people in the world. They fill me up and restore me. Throw in a little retail therapy, and I’m recharged for weeks.

And I don’t feel guilty leaving Andrew and Caroline at home with Brian. They love their daddy to pieces, and it’s great for them to spend time together without me every once in a while.

I spend a lot of time studying and practicing my photography. I had barely even picked up a camera before Andrew was born, but when I held that dSLR for the first time everything changed. It was like I had found something just for me and it was so very exciting.

I had to work really hard to learn something completely new. (Heck, I’m still working really hard to learn new techniques all the time. That’s one of the best things about photography. You can never know it all.) It brings me so much joy. And I guard my photo time. Sure, it ebbs and flows with how busy we are in a certain season, but I always make time to read new blog posts or flip through the latest Click magazine.

And sometimes that means Andrew watches a movie while Caroline naps so I have time to do some editing. I think this is okay. Again, I don’t feel guilty about it. We all need that time to reenergize ourselves and photography is it for me.

I’ve also talked before about how much a family dance party in the living room means to me. It’s silly, and I’m not on my own or buying new lipstick, but a good get-it-all-out after dinner dance session with my family makes me feel like a new person. We could have had a terrible awful no-good day, but a little dance party makes bedtime easier and puts us all in a happy mood. I mean, who doesn’t love boogying down to a little Raffi? :)

Dance, dance baby.
Find what makes you happy, what restores you and fills you up and brings you great joy and make time for it. Because no one else will guard that time for you. And it’s totally worth it.

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Our Belated Easter Celebration

No, no. I'm not a week behind. Well, I am, but these photos are just from yesterday.

Remember how Andrew was sick as a dog last week? Well, we delayed our family Easter celebration until this past weekend.

We went to our church's new Saturday night service and then we were up early on Sunday to see what the Easter bunny dropped off. Yes, I called the Eater bunny and asked him to come a week late. No problem at all, he said. :)

Andrew thought getting an Easter basket full of goodies was way worth the wait. And Caroline was pretty happy with her new "phone" too.

And then we were off to my parents' to hunt eggs with my sister and Matt and cousin Reid. Miss Anna Kate slept through most of the egg hunt, sweet thing, but she was there too.

The kids had a blast! I knew Andrew would be a pro at egg hunting, but I wasn't sure what Caroline would think of it all. Well, she figured it out right away.

So even though our real Easter Sunday was spent on the couch, we can celebrate God's love and His promise anytime, right?

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