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!



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 🙂

This boy.

This boy.  He’s always the first to help out and be my special assistant.

This boy.  He loves to be outside. He bikes, runs, catches and throws.  Basically, his daddy’s dream.

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This boy. He loves playing make believe with his brother.  He’ll be the dino, the mom, the baby, the lion.

This boy.  He can carry on a great conversation.

This boy.  He loves school and getting better at his academics.  The smile on his face when he sounds out a long word is dazzling.  Watching him have “lightbulb moments” is so much fun.grad9

This boy.  He has such a good heart and soul.  He’s older than his 6 years.

This boy.  An overachiever who always wants to get better. Earn more stickers. Get more green marks on his Daily Report.  Be the fastest in a foot race.

This boy.  Proof enough that we hit the firstborn jackpot.

L 6

Happy 6th birthday to the sweetest kid.  We love you so much Landy Pants!

Brooks is 4.

Tomorrow, my baby turns 4.  My crazy, wild, snuggly, sweet boy will celebrate with cake, balloons, presents and fun.

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The boy who loves dinosaurs, Paw Patrol, his elephant puppet “Digger”, laser tag, construction equipment, his green blankie, PB&J, and exercising his will.

This kid makes me laugh every day.
Mom: “Brooks what do you want for your birthday?”
Brooks: “I want a real saw. Not a kid saw but a real one like daddy has.”
M: “What is another idea, a real saw is not something that kids should have.”
B: “How about branch cutters?”

Mom: “Brooks, what special, fun activity do you want to do on your birthday? ” I even prompted him with some ideas to get him thinking, “painting, swimming, bounce houses…”
B: “I think I want to do a Disney cruise on my birthday.”

Oh this boy. He challenges me as a parent each day and forces me to try new things to connect with him.  He’s stubborn yet sensitive, confident with a bit of shyness, unafraid to fail, full of energy, so quick to forgive, adores his brother, and loves a good snuggle.

And I especially love the mornings where he sneaks into our bed and cuddles right next to me for a few extra minutes of sleep.

meatballBrooks Matthew, I’ve loved you for 4 years and I’ll love you for a hundred more.  In so many ways, I wish I was more like you.  You have a confidence in yourself – you know who you are and WHOSE you are.  You are so smart. You’re so determined. You’re hilarious and fun.

You are the highlight of so many of my parenting stories.  And I love seeing you grow and change each year.  Happy birthday my sweet boy.  I love you times a million bajillion.



DIY Christmas decor: A branchy Christmas tree

I love having a few decorative staples for the holidays.  The things I just pull out and plop in their designated spot.  But I hate spending money on said decorations and tend to hit up the picked-over after-Christmas specials only to find (unsurprisingly) that the good stuff is gone.

So sometimes, I have to resort to making my own décor.  I mean, who wants to spend $80 on a wreath?  (That’s why I made an inexpensive burlap wreath for the front door last year).

This year I needed to do something for my front nook. It’s actually a very large space (about 30 inches wide and nearly 4 feet tall), so it’s hard to decorate, in general.

I decided that I wanted to put a little tree farm in there but knew that buying a big tree decoration would be expensive.  So I decided to make my own.  I’ve seen trees that look similar to this so figured I could just make it myself with some free outdoor branches and a bunch of hot glue gun sticks.

What I thought would take an hour actually took me 3 hours!! And in the end, I really think it needs to be about 6 inches taller so I may hit the wooded area behind my house again to add some more to the base.

It was pretty simple to do. I found some branches and then took them four at a time, cut them to the size base I wanted and made a bunch of squares of branches that I glued together. Then I took the branch squares and glued them on top of each other, slowly narrowing the size of my boxes. I laid them on top of each other at various, staggered angles to create the rustic tree shape.

And while I think it looks really cute, it’s not the most sturdy craft so I don’t know how it will hold up year after year, but I’m going to try my best to get a few Christmases out of it!

Tips and tricks:
– Get a bunch of branches and find pieces that have similar widths to do each square so they are pretty consistent and stable.
– Use varying branch widths throughout so it adds some dimension.
– Use plenty of hot glue – I tried to get 3-4 contact points for each level.
– Take a look at it from multiple angles as you go. I definitely had it veering off to the side but pulled it apart and redid a few sections to clean it up and straighten in.
– Give yourself plenty of time – it takes a while to cut the branches to size (used landscape snips/cutters) and then match them up to each other.

At the end, I added a few silver and red mini ball ornaments. I also think a small strand of battery operated lights would be adorable or a cute topper! (Maybe next year!)


Pea’s back. But then he left.

Like the millions of other parents out there, I have a love/hate relationship with our Elf on the Shelf – “Pea”.


Love:  The kids WANT to have good behavior when Pea is around watching. It’s fun to see their reactions and excitement when they try to find him each morning.

Hate:  I forgot to move him the second night.  And the fourth.  And I don’t like getting out of my warm, cozy bed to go move the bugger. Plus, I don’t want to do all the ‘creative’ ideas you see on Pinterest/Facebook/Instagram that look like mom spent 6 hours rigging the perfect set up and will likely require more than 10 seconds of clean up.

All that to say, Pea is back. Or he was.  Then we had an incident where our firstborn touched him/moved him and the rule is if you touch him, he loses his magic, so he’s been gone for several days now.

But the kids want him back. So what to do?

We decided Landon needed to write an apology letter and hopefully Santa would give Pea his magic back and he would recover enough at the North Pole Hospital where he’s currently residing.

Earlier this week, Landon put this letter in the mailbox.


(I’m sorry for touching you. Can you come back please?)

But the “mailman” (aka Daddy) forgot to get it out, so after school Landon got the mail and was upset it was still in there. Oops!

But today, the mail will make it to the North Pole and Pea should arrive back in town tomorrow so he can spread a little more holiday cheer for my two crazy boys.