Meet Mr. Blouie Finn


Please welcome the 5th member of the Dean family.  Mr. Blouie Finn.  (I am not a pet/animal person, so this is a big deal for me to allow another living (non-plant) into my home. And who am I kidding, my plants rarely live so apparently I only do humans!)

For Mr. Brooksie’s birthday, my little animal lover got to pick out a betta fish as his first pet.  There were lots of colors and he selected the bright blue one.  When I asked him what he wanted to name him, he said “Goldie”. I laughed and said, it’s not a goldfish, it’s a blue betta, is that sure what you want to name him?

He thought for a minute and said, “I’ll call him Blouie (or is it Blue-y) Finn (or is it Fin).”

And he’s been enamored ever since. He gives his little carrier lots of hugs and he wants to feed him a lot, so we hid the fish food – for Blouie’s sake.  We also got a really fun aquarium that we’re setting up in Brooks’ room.  I think Blouie will love his new home.

We also rounded Brooks’ day of fun with a movie – we saw Sing in the theatre, then went to Brooks’ choice of the Japanese steakhouse.  He loves the fire and egg in hat trick. We finished our day back home with a homemade cake – Brooks picked the cake mix flavor (funfetti), icing flavor and sprinkles/decorations.  Plus both boys helped make it the night before.


Before the steakhouse show began!


It tasted way better than it looked 🙂


I love my boys relationship. Of course, they have moments of fighting and teasing, but so often they are doing sweet things – like this “cyut” (cute) note from Landon to Brooks.

I asked Brooks about the best part of his birthday and he quickly said, “getting my new fish.”  Welcome to the chaos, Blouie, you’re in for a wild ride!





5 is a big deal.

This week my youngest babe turns 5.  And I love how it’s a big deal for him.  In the past month, I’ve noticed an overall improvement in his behavior.  Less fighting at meal times.  Less fighting in the mornings.  (Notice I didn’t say none, just less. 🙂 )

Many mornings he hops out of bed, gets dressed, brushes his teeth and makes an attempt at his bed without any prompting.  When I commended him for a great job, he responds, “it’s because I’m almost 5.”

When I ask him to run up at bedtime and get a shower, dry off, hang up his towel and get pjs, he does it quickly.  Less fighting us to  go up the stairs.  And when I tuck him in and say great job on his bedtime routine, “It’s because that’s what 5 year olds do.”

This sweet, fun, compassionate boy of mine.  He loves being loved. Snuggles, affection, praises.  He openly soaks them in.  He gets up at dinner at least once a week just to give me a hug during the meal.  Many weekend mornings, I find him nestled next to me.  Sneaking in our bed around 7am for a weekend wake up.

He’s so tough.  Being the little brother does that to you.  He can hang for several rounds of “Fighter” – a made up game between he and big brother that involves a lot of wrestling.  And he’s not just physically tough but also mentally.  This boy has a strong will.  It’s a fine line to parent him so that he keeps this strength but can also be obedient.

I love that Brooks is so excited about life.  He wakes up each day with a smile on his face.  Ready to make the day awesome.  He’s my little optimist and I love that his joy is contagious.  I’m so excited about what 5 means for him.  It means he’s going to kindergarten this year. It means he gets to skip more naps.  It means he can earn allowance for chores. And it means he gets to start sports this year – spring baseball here we come.


Brooksie Bear, You are my favorite snuggler with the biggest heart. I love that you’ve started seeing “need” around you and wanting to change it.  You want to make our world better.

I love how you love being around people.  You’re this confident little boy who can do anything.  I cannot wait to see you do all sorts of new things this year – sports, kindergarten, special trips.  And because of your adventurous spirit, I know you’ll excel.  You’ll have no problem making new friends in school and on your teams.  You’ll work really hard in everything you do and I know you’ll make me proud.

There’s still so much in this great big world you haven’t seen or experienced and my goal as your mom is to expose you to as much as I can.  So here’s to another year of adventure.  Cheers to 5 baby boy!



Playoff Picture

We’re a house divided.  I was born in Pittsburgh.  My husband was raised in Baltimore.

I think you can tell at a glance who 3 of the 4 Deans are pulling for in the off-season.

“Lets Go Steelers.  Boo Ravens, Dean.  Ravens, bye-bye.”

(Of course, since one particular “team in purple” didn’t make the playoffs, the kids vote was even easier to get!)

Anyone else waving a Terrible Towel this offseason?



The Joys of Boys

Dear Sons,

If it isn’t too much trouble, I’d love if you could separate your underwear from your pants when throwing them in the laundry.  I realize that this requires an extra 3 seconds of effort on your part, but I assure you, your pants and undies will be cleaner in the long run!


And in other news, I think it’s time for longer pants.  Someone had a big growth spurt:



Welcome 2017.

Yes, I’ve been MIA for a while.  Maybe a month or so.  Life just got the better of me and I had a lot on my plate for the holidays, so I took the month to live in the moment.  I don’t think I took one picture on Christmas Day. Not of my kids or their presents or the stockings or our Dean Family Christmas Cinnamon Rolls.  Not one.  I just enjoyed the moments of our day.  The excitement of my kids opening their Nerf guns (the highlight gift of the Christmas holiday), visiting friends and family in town and out, enjoying a Charlotte December – where I was in tshirt and shorts for my Christmas week runs.

I think the best part of the holiday season is there was no gift finding stress.  This year, I just didn’t care. I put my husband in charge of all the gifts for his family and most of the gifts for our boys. I also really tried to cut back on the number of gifts we bought for our kids.  They just don’t need more stuff.  And while there were a lot less presents under the tree, I don’t think they felt one less ounce of Christmas joy.  It was awesome.  My boys have gotten to play together for about 2 weeks straight.  No school or preschool, just tons of family time. Cousin time. The four of us playing card games and I Spy.  Eating lots of donuts and cookies.  Watching Elf and Home Alone on repeat.

We just spent time together.  It was exactly what Christmas should be.  After all, I can’t think of a better way to close out 2016 and start 2017.

And in 2017, I hope I do a better job keeping up with my blog 🙂

Recipe: Christmas Oatmeal (Chocolate Pomegranate Oatmeal)

It’s hard to come up with new and exciting breakfast ideas for my kids.  Something that will fill their little bellies and keep them full until lunch.  We definitely eat a lot of eggs and peanut butter oatmeal… foods with protein.


I decided to mix up a festive “Christmas” oatmeal for breakfast this weekend.

Christmas Pomegranate Chocolate Oatmeal (makes 1 bowl)

1/2 c Quaker oats (I used about half regular oats and half quick oats. I like the mixed texture and the heartier reg oats)
2/3 c water (my husband usually makes the kids oatmeal with almond milk or reg milk)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 heaping tablespoons greek honey yogurt
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds/arils

Mix oats, water, cocoa, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Microwave for 45-60 sec.  Stir together.  Top with yogurt and pomegranate arils.  Serve immediately.  I loved the contrast of the hot oatmeal topped with the  cold yogurt and fruit plus the light chocolate flavor.

The kids loved that it had chocolate and yogurt.  Two of their favorite things!

Disney Adventures

At the end of October, our family went on a great Disney adventure.  We spent two days at Magic Kingdom and a day just hanging out at the pirate-themed Disney Caribbean Beach Resort.  And it was all awesome.

We were careful to use our FastPasses and if we didn’t need them because the line was short, we cancelled them and saved them for later.  We lucked out on Splash Mountain lines and probably went down 10+ times in two days.  Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin and Tomorrowland Speedway were also favorites.

Basically on Day 1, we tried to hit everything at least once and even got to do Splash Mountain with no line about 4 times.  Then on Day 2, we just made sure we did all our favorites all day long – like the Raceway – that the kids got to drive around over and over.

The kids had a ball and did so awesome.  They are 6.5 and 4.5 y.o. and although we left the stroller in the car as backup, we didn’t use it.  Day 1 they were high energy all day.  On Day 2, they made it about half the day and then there were some line meltdowns by the younger one but you could tell both were exhausted. (So were mom and dad!) According to my Fitbit we did about 8 miles on Day 1 and 6.5 on Day 2, so definitely a lot of on the go time for two little boys.

They’ve already asked if we can go back!  I think we’ll go again in a few years and by then they’ll probably be ready for Hollywood Studios.

Side story: Landon (6 yo) was terrified of the Splash Mountain ride the first time we went down – it was our 4th ride of Day 1.  He started crying after the big hill.  We bribed him with a funnel cake to go again and this time I told him to try holding his breath on the big hills – so he’d have something to take his mind off of it.  So, after that, for two whole days, this boy was a breath holding machine.  Every ride I’d look over on the “scary” parts and he’d be cheeks red and puffy, holding it in.  But it worked! And you can see in the pics below that by Day 2 on Splash Mountain, that boy had his hands in the air on the big hills!  (His first few ride pics are at the very bottom of the page.)


Landon holding his breath on the rides: