Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Aunt Alex

Wow.  That blog title sounds so weird!  Seriously.  Almost as weird as Mama Alex (which I still, almost 11 months later, am having trouble grasping that I am, in fact, a mother).  Anyways, as of 11:31am on March 24th, 2014, I have joined the aunt club!  My adorable niece Elizabeth Katherine Mooney was born, weighing in at a nice 7lbs. 7oz. and measuring 20.5 inches long.  I. AM. SO. IN. LOVE!



I couldn't get myself up to the hospital fast enough to meet her!  Luckily, as fate would have it, I had to take a sick day anyways because just as I was about to leave for school, my mother-in-law (who was watching Patrick that day) got a text that the baby was a'comin' and my mom and aunts (my backups!) were all out of commission busy with their own stuff, so I had to call in so I could stay home with Patrick.  It worked out awesome actually--since no one was actually "sick" we got to have a fun playdate with our friends James and Charlotte, got to have lunch at IMOS with my brothers Ben and Charlie, and then got the amazing news that Patrick's cousin had made her appearance into the world--a week early!

Once Mike got home from work we left Patrick with my mom (he could meet his new cousin when she's at home and all settled) and headed up to the hospital to meet her and so I could snap some newborn hospital pics!



If you head over to my photography blog or Facebook page, you can check out more of Baby Lizzy's newborn pics.  *squeallllll!* I just can't get enough of her!  I can't wait to introduce Patrick to her.  He wants to get a selfie with her ASAP :)  I'm sure this blog will be flooded with Patrick and Lizzy pictures from here on out.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lately

Wow.  So much has been happening lately.  Besides my milk tragedy/sippy cup happenings that I blogged about earlier this week, there's been a lot going on in the Mooney household...and cyber-household :)


First off, have you noticed the new domain?!!  Scooter's World is now just lifeofscooter.com!  Woo hoo!  Obviously if you go to lifeofscooter.blogspot.com you'll still end up here, but I was just excited to finally decide upon a new (okay, just dropped the .blogspot) domain--and it was on sale for only $9 for the whole year!  Too good not to pass up.



And, speaking of domains, Scooter officially has his own domain now too!  Scooter-the-Dog.com is Scooter's new home (aside from his many social media outlets).  Scoots has been getting a lot of publicity lately--especially with his Beggin' gig--and I figured I hammer down a domain for him and all of his stuff to be housed.




My amazing brother Charlie also designed some new logos for my photography biz!  So I've given my photography website, Instagram, Facebook, and photog blog a little bit of a new look with these logos.  I just love how they combine the camera, paw print, and my own handwriting font!  Chuck, if you're reading this: you rock!  Thank you so much!! I love them!  And, lately I've been getting a lot of photography gig bookings--everything from families to newborns!  *squeallll!*  This makes me sooooo excited, cause as I've said before, I LOVE taking pictures!  And I love that it's getting warmer out and I'll hopefully be doing a lot more outside photo shoots.


I posted earlier this week too about my obsession with Hohos.  Yes.  I am officially obsessed and can't get enough of them!  Well, Patrick's Easter basket and birthday present Hoho were just posted earlier today by @littlebitfunkyhohos on Instagram, and OMG.  OMG OMG.  I am freaking out--these are so darn cute and turned out better than I could have ever imagined!  Crystal is a wonder woman and master Hoho-er.  Seriously.  If I haven't sold you yet, does these adorable SLMPD and Cardinals Hohos do it for you?!!  AHHHHH!  Worth every single penny.





I am sooooo happy it's getting warmer out.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love winter: live for snow days.  But, when all of that has worn out it's welcome and March starts bringing sunny warm days, I want it to stay warm and nice so we can play outside!  Earlier this week we were graced with a lovely 55 degree afternoon, so I whisked Patrick up, plopped him in his stroller, and we walked the whopping 5 minutes to the park to swing on the swings.  This kid could swing all.day.long.  He loves it!  And his little giggling is so darn cute.  Melts my heart every single time.  I really hope we will be able to make this a regular after school occurrence, because he sure loves it, Scooter loves getting some exercise and sniffing out our new neighborhood, and I love that it's a nice 5 minutes away (as opposed to the 15 minute away park across a super busy street at our old house).  Plus, mama photographer here likes to take her some pictures of her boys enjoying their park time :)


Parents-of-the-year over here noticed today (well, we didn't really notice it...grandma noticed it and then we noticed it!) that Patrick's front left tooth is chipped!  Woops!  I have NO idea how this happened: my guess is that he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth, then crawls around with it, and he probably bumped it on something.  It's actually a really little chip (probably why we didn't notice it at first), and since he refuses to let you put your fingers in his mouth to look at his teeth, and since he's got his dad's mouth where you can hardly even see his teeth, we didn't notice it.  The pic above is actually from TWO weeks ago (that once my mom text me asking me about it I went back and found that pic and bam! she was right: it's chipped!), so who knows when he actually did it.  I'd care more if it was more noticeable and/or was not on his baby tooth, but it's not.  So it's just another memory-mark he now has!  And, gosh, I'm just loading us up with things to put us in contention for parents of the year, aren't I?!


No other big milestones for Patrick (like walking!)--he's still cruising around and crawling everywhere (my prediction is that he won't walk till after he's 1...more like 13 or 14 months is my guess...we'll see though!).  However, even though we got the green light at our 9 month doc appointment to start giving him basically what we're eating--that as long as it's mashed up, he can have it, we haven't really done too much of that.  The small percentage of "worry mom" in me is scared he's gonna choke on the piece of whole food I give him.  So, we've been pretty much sticking to the pureed food/pouches he's use to.  However, recently I've gotten more confident (probably with the sippy cup push, and the fact that he's actually chewing things now) and started to give him the food on my plate.  OH MY GOSH.  Why have I not been doing this earlier?  We went to dinner last night with our buddy Lauren at our favorite Chinese buffet and he had one of his food pouches, but the rest of his dinner was what we ate!  He had rice, peaches, sweet potatoes, cherry jello, chocolate pudding, and shrimp!  Minus the peaches (which I think he hated cause they were cold--and he still ate them), he liked everything he ate!  WIN!  I told Mike when we got home that we should maybe just do one food pouch for dinner (cheaperrrrr!!) and then have him eat what we're eating.  We're gonna try going with that...I think it'll be easier for us to just give him what we're eating and save us some money on that oh-so-expensive baby food.





So, I've gotten into the habit of spying, #momspying to be exact as is the hashtag I use on Instagram.  Not that this is a bad habit, but I do it every.single.night.  I can't get enough of watching that cute little boy snoozing away.  It is so darn adorable.  And, of course, since this little boy's life is well-documented, I post my mom spying pics on Instagram so others can enjoy them...and then in a year (or several!) my Timehop app can remind me about how cute he was just a year (or several!) ago.

Well friends, that's about all that's been going on here lately!  I'm sure I'm missing something (or many things...pregnancy brain turns to mommy brain and I've concluded NEVER goes away...great), but I'm sure I'll write another post soon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hoho Lovin'

Like I have said in previous posts, I love social media...a lot.  I have made friends via social media, I have been introduced to fabulous Applecheeks dipes through it, and the Hoho has come into our lives.

Don't know what a Hoho is?!  Dudeeeee.  You're missing out.  These are probably my favorite "toy" of Patrick's, and my go-to gifts for baby showers and birthday parties.  They are amazing.  And I don't know what it is about them that makes me love them so; whether it's their uniqueness (I have yet to see two Hohos that are exactly alike), the fabric that's used, or the major love and TLC that goes into making each and everyone one of them (okay, it's probably a combo of all of that as to why I love them so).  They are my favorite.


I stumbled upon these amazing handmade creations on Instagram (where else?!! it's my favorite social media app!)...but then found out there's a blog about them too!  Crystal over at @littlebitfunky makes these adorable Hohos.  She has a variety of types of Hohos you can get your hands on: random insta-sales (my favorite way to get them--definitely an adrenaline rush!) at @littlebitfunkyhohos, custom keepsake orders via mail (you mail her your materials and she whips up an amazing Hoho and sends it back to you!), email wait lists for holiday Hohos (bunnies! reindeers! luckies!), or a general email waitlist for boy or girl themed Hohos.  You can search the hashtag #lbfhohos too and see a ton of pics that others have posted and tagged of their Hohos.



I have won about 5 Hohos through insta-sales (being the first person to leave their name/paypal address in a comment on the Instagram photo--and this is NO JOKE.  Literally, within 10 seconds of the pic being posted there will be 10+ comments of people leaving their name/paypal address...and you just hope and pray with your surge or insta-sale adrenaline that yours is the first one), and then I got one from the boy waitlist and 3 as custom keepsakes (*squeal!!* I got a STL police Hoho made for Patrick for Christmas, and then he's getting another Police Hoho for Easter and a STL Cardinals Hoho for his birthday!!).  I love each and every one of them so much!  They're all uniquely different yet I can tell with each how much time and dedication goes into making them.  I love how much Crystal loves to make these, and how much passion she exerts with them.  Crystal, if you're reading this, I'm a huge fan.  Keep doin' what you're doin' lady, there are lots of people out there who love your handmade awesomeness and support your insta-business!  I can't say it enough: I LOVE HOHOS!  And I'm pretty sure I've turned some of my other buddies onto these awesome little creatures, haven't I?!

I guess I should mention how much Patrick {& Scooter!} love these Hohos!  Patrick lately enjoys chewing on his Hoho's leg (teething again?!!).  But he also loves snuggling with them.  So darn cute.




If you want a Hoho yourself (or for someone else...like I said, GREAT gifts!), give Crystal a shout.  Send her an email at: crystal@littlebitfunky.com and she'll reply back with all the deets about how you can get your hands on one (or several, as I have!).

I'm sure there'll be more Hohos in my future--if you're a mom-to-be or have little ones and invite me to a shower/birthday party, your kid (or future kid) is probably getting a Hoho.  But know that the Hoho they are getting is a one-of-a-kind handmade toy that is unlike anything else they'll ever get.  I heart Hohos!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sippy Cup Update

I posted a week or so ago about how we ditched the bottles for Patrick.  I wanted to give you an update on the no-more-bottle-sippy-cup-only situation.

First off, tragedy has struck: my last month and a half frozen supply of breast milk has gone bad.  To say I'm upset is an understatement: I am a wreck.  Now, don't get me wrong: I am so happy I was able to breastfeed my son and excessively pump for as long as I did to create the stockpile I had as well as donate over 1000 ounces to another mama/baby.  It just sucks that we are so close to my "year of breastmilk" goal and we didn't make it because my milk went bad.  I'm not sure what happened, but I suspect that I pushed the 6-12 month limit of frozen breast milk in a deep freezer.  I guess I just assumed 6-12 months meant it would be good for 12 months.  Well, now I know that with my milk and our deep freeze it's really only like 6 months that it's good.  Stupid me too, when we moved all of my nicely organized by date milk got mixed up and jumbled together: September was with May, August was with November.  Anyways, I didn't take the time to reorganize it when we got settled, because (dumb Alex) assumed that I had 12 months to use it anyways, and it'd be well before 12 months when we got to using the July or August supply.  Well, what happens when you assume?!  Yep.  I was wrong.  The last month and a half supply of milk I have in my deep freeze is all the oldest milk: from July and August.  And (TMI?!  sorry...), when thawed, it all smells awful = bad milk.  So yes, I'm way upset, because I thought I had a plan and this all laid out perfectly and then my plan got thwarted and tossed on its backside because of bad milk.

boo hoo: all of this liquid gold is bad. I haven't tossed it yet...I can't bear to pitch it just yet :(

Anyways, the moral of the story is that now I know for #2 that my milk only lasts about 6 months in a deep freeze, and that I need to use the oldest stuff first.

Whew.  Okay, I'll get over the milk thing.  Whoever said there's no crying over spilled milk never had 300+ ounces of pumped breast milk go bad!  Ahhh!  Okay, Alex, enough.  Moving on.

So, sippy cup situation: it's going okay.  Actually, that's when we figured out my milk had gone bad: a few days after my post about ditching the bottles, Patrick, who had been sucking down his milk from the sippy cup like a rockstar, all of a sudden would take one sip and literally launch the cup across the room.  Uh, whattttt?!!  Dude.  You liked it for like 3 days no problem, and now, you won't drink it at all?!!  After doing this a few times (both in the morning and after nap), Mike uncapped the sippy cup and holy rancid smell.  It was awful.  It smelled super plasticy, so we thought that warming up the sippy cup (just setting it in hot water) was essentially contaminating the milk and making it bad.  So I went out and got some different sippy cups (stainless steel ones, thicker, chunkier BPA free plastic ones), but it still had the same smell.  Duhhhh. It was the milk (I think I didn't want to admit that to myself).  This is when my milk depression started.

What were we going to do?!!  This kid has only had my milk and a little organic vitamin D milk...never anything else!  We talked about just doing the organic whole milk by itself, but our doc was really adamant about getting him to 12 months (or within a week or so) on breast milk/formula because of the nutrients and vitamins and such they have in them that whole milk doesn't.  Poop.


So, I went out and bought a can of Enfamil formula.  I should mention it took me about 10 minutes to pick this can out.  I had no idea what I should get or what I should look for!  This said 9-18 months, "transition" on it, and it was on sale for $19 with a $3 off coupon.  So I went with this one.  This is the first time we've had to pay for Patrick's (liquid) food.  Dang.  That stuff is expensive.  All you mommas out there that do formula on a regular basis, my hat is tipped to you.  Formula is just as much of a commitment as breast milk is.  Time and money commitment.  Anyways, so we decided we'd give him formula but mixed in the organic whole milk.  That way he's still getting the nutrients and vitamins from the formula but also getting use to the organic whole milk, which, come 12 months, he'll just be on that.

Once we gave him a sippy cup with not rancid breast milk but the whole milk + formula concoction, he was not as gung-ho as he originally was about the sippy cup the first time we gave it to him.  Maybe it's cause he remembers the nasty milk he tasted from it, or maybe it's a new taste altogether that he's not use to.  Either way, it definitely takes some force on our end to get him to drink all of it.  We've resorted to using whatever he didn't finish and mixing it in with oatmeal or cereal so he's still getting that milk.  And he does drink water out of his sippy cups too.  We have strategically placed water in cups around his play area and high chair so he can just grab them when he's thirsty.  Since he's not guzzling down his milk like he use to, we want to make sure he's drinking something and not getting dehydrated.



Today he's actually been better about drinking his milk from the sippy cup; I think he's taking some time to get use to this new taste (and probably get over the I'm sure traumatizing nasty milk experience--parents of the year goes to us again!).

Anyway, besides our little bad breast milk hiccup, I definitely say the sippy cup transition is going well.  We are STICKING WITH IT and committed, despite having a few hurdles.  And I think this is the most important thing you can do when transitioning to something new (like a sippy cup!) with your kiddo: you gotta stick with it.  It gets tough at times, but powering through will get you what you want in the end.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Love London.



I love London.  It's no secret.  I lived there for almost a year, I've been back to visit twice since departing, and I dream about taking my kiddos there in the future.  I just love that city.  I don't know if it's the history or what, but I get giddy when I think about it.  Mike proposed to me there back in 2011, and that makes the city all the more magical.  I secretly always look at airfare prices and the pound-dollar exchange rates, just to make sure I'm staying current in case a sporadic trip every pops up.



With that said, since I moved back to the US, I've had several people ask me about my favorite London/UK spots.  Over time, in the many emails I've sent with my London recommendations, my list has grown.  I thought, what a better way to keep this list handy than to write a blog post about it!  That way in the future if anyone asks for my London recs I can just shoot them this blog link, thus giving myself a little PR as well :)

So, if you're traveling to London, check out some of my "must-sees" and recommendations below.  Enjoy!
  • For "mini trips" from London to anywhere, use this site: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ it's got all the "national rail" times and stations on it (SUPER handy).  Usually round trip to any of these locations it'll cost you around $10 USD.  You'll always want to look for an express train (like NYC subway!) that has less stops = get you there faster!!!
  • For travel in London (bus or tube), use this website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ has closings, maps, etc... I'd also download a tube map for your phone too before you go
  • There are a ton of little walking tours you can do by yourself, and places you can visit for a short amount of time.  It's always cool to walk by the Prime Minister's house, Abbey Road, Princess Diana Memorial, Sherlock Holmes' house, and Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross station.  All of these places are little tourist attractions but don't take long and you could even hit up all of them in an afternoon.
  • Windsor Castle is about 25 minutes outside of London via train (you'll want to take a train from Paddington Station to Slough, get off there and get on the Windsor train...really easy, here's the train line you want to take: http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/).  Windsor Castle is pricey, (like $20 USD) but it's neat and definitely worth it.  There's a really good little fudge shop (if you've got a sweet tooth!) that I love...check it out: www.fudgekitchen.co.uk/ it's right outside of the Castle.
  • Oxford is also a neat little town--it's got that super old university! (Oxford Scholar shirt in your future maybe?!!)...it's also not too far outside of London, maybe 30-40 minutes on the train.  One of my buddies I taught with lives there and she loves it.  It's got some great night life too :)
  • Cambridge: same as Oxford...really pretty, neat little town, great university.  Again, not too far from London by train (40 minutes)
  • Brighton: awesome.  Small little coastal town about 2-2.5 hours outside of London.  you can rent scooters there to "cruise" around in and if it's a nice day there's a ton to see (fish and chips are top notch down there!!).  Definitely an entire day trip too.
  • Bath/Stonehenge: definitely a day trip, but you can do it from London.  You can actually do tours to Stonehenge that leave from London (http://www.stonehengetours.com/)...but both Bath and Stonehenge are day trips (you could probably do both in one day...Bath in AM, Stonehenge in afternoon)
  • London has a great theatre district (one of my favorites!!) http://london.broadway.com/ Great shows for SUPER cheap!! If you head between Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square there's a ton of "discount ticket booths" where you can find last minute CHEAP tickets. (no shows on Sunday!!)
  • My FAVORITE alcoholic drink is a London/English specialty: Pimms. It's like a long island ice tea but better.  Usually a spring/summer drink...but definitely give it a try if you like that kind of thing!
  • If you're a Harry Potter fan, definitely check out the new Warner Bros Harry Potter set tour.  This opened right after my last visit to London, but I've had friends go and say it's the COOLEST THING EVER.  Check out more details here: http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/
  • If you like museums and history, you've got to check out Churchill's War and Cabinet Rooms (http://cwr.iwm.org.uk/)--this is my FAVORITE MUSEUM EVER!! -- and/or the Imperial War Museum (http://london.iwm.org.uk/)--the IWM has one of the best Holocaust, WWI, and WWII displays I've ever seen.
  • "Strolling" by Big Ben, Westminster, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, etc... each take about 5 minutes once you're there and look.  You could do all of your "sightseeing" (just look, not go in) in 1/2 a day.--Buckingham Palace changing of the guards (I think at 11am daily) is also neat to see.  Plus you gotta get the stereotypical pictures of you coming out of a red phonebooth and next to one of the castle guards with the fuzzy hats.  I think Madame Tussauds is a waste of time and money--it's the same thing you can go to in the states.
  • The British Museum is fun too; but I just mapped out what I wanted to see (Rosetta Stone, Mummies), went in and found those, and then left.  It's pretty much like any other gigantic museum...my favorite are Churchill's and the Imperial War Museum.
  • London Eye is AWESOME--but ONLY do it on a perfectly clear day (or you'll waste your money) and be prepared to stand in line for a long time (having a reservation works too, but you're gambling then with the weather http://www.londoneye.com/)...and it's expensive ($15 USD and up)
  • Tower of London is also a really neat place to go too (http://www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/) a little pricey (maybe $30 USD) but it's really cool.  Especially if you're into medieval crime and punishment.  Oh, another great London sight that isn't advertised is one of the world's oldest prisons, the clink prison (http://www.clink.co.uk/) it's right by London Bridge and not too far from the Tower of London.
  • If you like Chinese food, definitely check out Chinatown (not far from Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square)...even if you don't eat it's a neat experience.  Buy some candy that you don't know what it is.  I call that Chinese Roulette.  Is it going to get you sick?  Is it going to taste good? you never know!! :)
  • **MAKE SURE YOU GET ONE OF THESE MAPS! IT'LL SAVE YOUR LIFE!! 

Taking Pictures

I have always loved to take pictures.  Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I pick up my camera and snap some pics.  I instantly feel better.  I just love taking pictures--and, most of the time, I like to keep my place behind the camera instead of in front of it.  I was so excited when I got this bad boy when I went off to college.  I thought it was the coolest thing to be able to snap a picture with your phone then send it to someone!  I also remember forking out like $400 for my first digital camera around that same time too.  I spent like half of my high school graduation money on a canon PowerShot digital camera that had a whopping 2 megapixels.  I loved that camera, and it captured some great memories during my college years.

Lately I have really been loving all of the different people and families I've been able to shoot for my photog business.  I get sooooo excited when someone emails or texts me asking me to do pictures for them--I just love doing it!  I recently bought a new camera--a Canon EOS 6D--and I am officially in love.  It's a huge upgrade from my Canon Rebel T3 I had (or still have...that's my fisheye camera now!) and it takes amazing pictures.  Although, I do spend a fair amount of time post-shooting editing the pictures so they are just perfect.  I've had a lot of people ask me what I use to edit my photos...and I really just use (right now!) two different programs on my Mac: Aperture and Adobe Photoshop.  For on-the-go editing on my iPhone, hands-down the best editing app I've found is Snapseed.  They use to make a Mac desktop app too, but for some reason don't anymore (boo hoo!)--however, Snapseed is owned by Google, so if you use Google+ and want to edit your photos within Google+, you're doing it using Snapseed.


This post is definitely not a sales pitch by any means (although, if you are in STL and want pics, give me a shout!!), but more so a post about how much I love photography...and how with each shoot I'm learning more and more about light composition, aperture, shutter speed, using natural light to my advantage, and so much more.  I love reading articles online about photography and techniques--what settings people use to take a certain picture, and then what editing techniques they use to enhance it.  I don't know if I'll ever consider myself a "professional photographer" (I have a hard time considering myself a "professional" anything!), but boy, I sure love taking pictures.

I thought I'd post a few of my favorite shots I've done recently.  Obviously, if you want to see more of what I've done, you can "like" my photography page on Facebook here or check out my website here.  Enjoy...I know I sure do when I take these! :)



















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