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Let’s Do This! Eisley’s Three!

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So, here we are at THREE years old! Where has my baby gone and how has it been over a year since I last posted? I swear this is the same child featured in all other posts on this blog, she is just a hell of a lot taller, sassier and egotistical.  My “plan” was to take a bit of a break from the overachieving, must do it ALL or the world is going to end crap in order to reacquaint myself with the it’s okay to take some time to yourself, slow down and breathe crap. Well, all you mama’s out there know what happens when you have said “plan”…that shit never goes accordingly. As if these little humans we are trying to raise to become loving, caring, ethical citizens on this planet we all share give a crap about our “plans.” Well, long story short, a few months turned into over a year and now here we are, mama to a THREE year old! HELP! Yep, now let’s get back to the focus of this post (wait for it) the THREE year old and her Home Depot birthday party back in September!

Do I have to remind you that I am a planner? I have found that it is much more in my favor to be a planner of parties than a planner of my expectations as a mother (work in progress.) I’m a bit of a control freak. Details are my jam. Color palettes put a smile on my face and flowers make my heart skip a beat. Themes excite me in a way that I know puts me in the “she has totally lost her shit” category and I’m okay with that. Here I go, talking about myself again (I’m starting to see where she gets it.)

The story behind Home Depot, you ask? Eisley is completely obsessed. If you were to make her choose between an endless supply of ice cream and a puppy or Home Depot, she would choose the latter. This is where her dad comes in (she is, after all, fifty percent Dave.)  He’s a handy guy, my husband. He can design it, build it, weld it, fix it, varnish it, re-wire it, you name it and he’ll figure out how to do it and make it look damn good. I can’t even count the number of deadly tools (mom anxiety) and gadgets in our garage and please don’t ever ask me to identify them by name (oh you mean that metal, wood cutting, saw thing a ma-jig that I’m fairly certain killed like seven people in Texas Chainsaw Massacre?) When Dave is working on a project in the garage, Eisley is usually right there by his side, staring up at him with her big blue eyes, overflowing with total amazement and adoration. Yes, of course I check on her every five minutes to make sure she is still in one piece and has all 10 fingers and toes but it is the cutest thing in the world to see them get their father-daughter garage bonding time on.

I was thinking I would be laid back this year since I went a little overboard with the first two birthdays but when it comes to parties, “laid back” and I just don’t work well together. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE laid back parties, I’ve just never had one so you can surely understand why they confuse me? So, moving on. The birthday girl decided on bright pink (we can’t get away from it these days) to go with the Home Depot orange. Eisley had two requests: balloons and cupcakes. The rest of all this nonsense was stay-at home mom boredom being put to use mixed with my mother, the ridiculously crafty T-K teacher-enough said. Do I work myself up and stress myself out just a bit when I organize these parties? Hell to the YES! However, the smiles on our friends and loved ones faces is always well worth the effort. Happy third Birthday (September 7th) to my little sunshine! Here are some of the details from the party! Maybe next year we’ll go on a vacation instead! 🙂

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If You Build It, They Will Come.

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This past week my favorite woman in the world (who also happens to be the queen of creative), came to visit and Eisley and I were over the moon with excitement! The rest of the world disappears when Gigi is in town and Eisley was throwing out “I don’t want mama anymore” like I was cramping her style. Its okay baby girl, I get it. I have never loved and appreciated my mom more than I do now that I am a mother with a daughter of my own.  I could go on and on but I’ll just say she’s top-notch and when I grow up I want to be just like her.

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Day One: Prepping

Anywho, one of my summer bucket list to-dos was to build a small garden for E.  I wanted to give her a colorful and imaginative space she could call her own where curiosity and independence go hand in hand and fairies and gnomes are welcome. I thought it would be all the more special to create while my mom was in town since gardening is way more in her wheelhouse than mine. I love gardens but I’m more of a succulent kind of girl where I plant it and let it take care of itself. Our backyard is on a canyon so we are pretty limited in terms of what survives the harsh sun which is why we chose to do herbs, strawberries and some snapdragons for a pop of color. At nearly 23 months, Eisley is obsessed with being outdoors and watering all the plants in the yard. She has a serious love of nature with bees, ladybugs “wizzards” and “honeybirds” (that’s lizards and hummingbirds) at the top of her list. The minute I told her we were going to make a home for all of her little friends, she was hooked and I knew this project was going to be a personal favorite.

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my mom teaching her how to get her hands dirty

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Day Three: Just Stopping By

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I’m all about recycling and re-purposing things I already have when it comes to kiddo projects so I used four small, rectangular planter boxes and whatever leftover paint I could find in our garage. My mom and I painted the wood and decided to stagger the planter boxes vertically which required my husband to  build a staircase frame to lean up against the house. We chose snapdragons for the top planter, an assortment of herbs for the middle and strawberries for the bottom. Eisley collected rocks which my mom then hand painted with the word and picture for an adorable, toddler-friendly label. I used Mod Podge as a sealant on the rocks. I painted small, wooden letters spelling her name for some added color and personalization, sealed them with Mod Podge and then glued Starbucks’s coffee stoppers to the back of each letter to use as a steak to place in the dirt.

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Day Six: “Stwaberry” picking

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Five Step DIY Planter-Box Garden Tutorial in Pictures:

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1. collect old planter-boxes

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2. build frame

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3. sand and paint planter-boxes

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4. plant flowers, herbs, fruits, etc. in soil

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5. decorate

This garden is the perfect size for my almost two-year old or any toddler/child just starting out. I spent about $50 total on the flowers, herbs, fruit and soil and the rest of the materials needed I already had. Eventually, I would love to incorporate more fruits and vegetables to teach her how fun it is to grow, pick and eat from her own garden. I’d love to hear what you’ve done to get your little ones in the garden. ❤

Shop the Look–> Shift Dress: Vince | Ladybug Flutter Top (same print, different syle): Gap | Sun Stripe Bodydress: Tooby Doo | Glitter Jellyfish Slip-On: Tom’s

Happy Friday!!

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Splishin’ and a Splashin’, Reelin’ With the Feelin’!

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Sharing some photos from our perfect Friday afternoon spent lunching, splashing and playing at Waterfront Park with friends while taking in the beautiful San Diego harbor views! Sometimes I have to remind myself how lucky we are to be raising this curious little ball of energy in such a sunny, family friendly city. We spend EVERY SINGLE DAY outdoors (minus the month of September). I often daydream of moving to the pacific northwest but as much as I try to convince myself it would be ideal, I’m not sure I could ever leave this place behind. San Diego, you’ll always have my <3!

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Pure JOY

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Enjoying every single splash while mom tries to get over her germaphobic tendencies 😉

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“Pirates!!!!” One thing that will stop E dead in her tracks.

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breaking for snacks

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sneak attack

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these sweet little faces ❤

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Shop the Look-> Floral Suit: Stella Cove | Snow White Tee: Peek Kids | Dress: Peek Kids | Ballet Slip-On: Mini Melissa

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Mexican Street Corn Salad

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Living in San Diego means I crave Mexican food 24/7 and why wouldn’t I when we have some of the best Mexican restaurants, fast food drive-thru’s and food trucks California has to offer? It’s usually the last thing we eat before we travel, the first thing we eat when we have out of town guests and if we can’t make it out to at least one of our top choice local spots during the week, we cook it at home. One of my all time favorites is Mexican Street Corn. Corn is my perfect summer food and now that the temps are rising, we are spending more time outside and more time cooking on the grill. Nothing says summer like a backyard bbq and my favorite part about this past holiday weekend (aside from spending time with family and friends), was making this quick, easy and seriously delicious Mexican Street Corn Salad for all of them to enjoy. It was devoured.

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Even better than the traditional cob style, this salad has become an automatic go-to for parties and get-togethers because it saves time, eliminates the mess, and can be made in advance. If you feel like saving even more time (who doesn’t?), go ahead and use frozen corn. Now lets talk about the ridiculous flavor that puts this perfect summer side dish over the top: charred corn, mayonnaise, cotija cheese, lime juice, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic and chili powder. Just thinking about it makes me hungry and clears my sinuses right up. Let me also note that you should (at the very least) double or triple the recipe because you are definitely going to want leftovers. It is SO good cold! While the kiddos might have to sit this one out, it will surely be loved by whomever else you introduce it to. If for some reason they don’t inhale it in under 30 seconds, it’s time to get new friends. Enjoy!

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Mexican Street Corn Salad Recipe:

  • 1 (16 oz) bag of frozen corn or 3-4 cups fresh corn (I use frozen when short on time)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise (light or regular)
  • 4 oz Cotija cheese, crumbled (you can substitute Feta if you can’t find Cotija)
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped jalapeno (if you like spice, up it even more)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 Tsp chili powder
  • 2 chopped avocados ( I took the picture before I added the avocado but they made the dish deliciously creamy)
  • salt and pepper

*If you want to up the spice factor even more you can add your favorite hot sauce to the mayo, which is what I did. 😉

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add corn and let cook until charred, tossing occasionally (it took around 10 minutes for the corn to get a good char).  Just toss, char, toss, char, toss, char until it looks damn tasty.

Next, mix together all remaining ingredients with the exception of the avocado in a medium bowl. Add the corn and toss. Gently stir in chopped avocados and you are ready to taste this flavor explosion

Refrigerate any leftovers, assuming you don’t eat it ALL!

Recipe Source: combining a little bit of this and a little bit of that from Mexican Street Corn Recipes on Pinterest. Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

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Fourth of July Balloon Wreath Tutorial

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With only a few days left to prep for the 4th, it’s time to get patriotic! This festive wreath was originally crafted for my daughter’s Madeline themed 1st birthday but I  am happily recycling it in honor of the upcoming holiday!  All the supplies needed can be found at your local craft and/or party store (I went to Michael’s) and if you have the time and patience (it took me a good 5-6 hours), I promise it’s quite simple.

First, you will need to collect the following items:

  • straw wreath, left in plastic wrap
  • greening pins
  • a whole lot of balloons (I used close to 400 for a larger, fuller wreath)
  • ribbon to cover the straw (optional)
  • pipe cleaners (optional)
  • rubber mallet (to save your poor thumbs from going numb)

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Okay, time to get to work! If you choose to wrap the wreath with ribbon, go ahead and do this first by securing it to the wreath with greening pins. I attached two to three balloons per greening pin by simply grouping the balloons together in an arrangement to my liking and (waaaaait for it), pinning them to the wreath.

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Repeat this step one thousand times over until the wreath is totally covered and VOILA!!! Easy peasy. To add your “curling ribbon”, wind pipe cleaners around a pencil to achieve the perfect curl. Attach each pipe cleaner to a greening pin and fill in any empty spaces of your masterpiece.

The finished product is so darn cheerful you can’t help but smile!

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Wishing everyone a Happy 4th of July weekend filled with love, laughter and a whole lot of red, white and blue! ❤

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Taking a day trip to Greece

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There’s nothing quite like watching my daughter eat and dance her way through every single booth of a Greek Festival for the first time; it takes me right back to my childhood. I was so extremely lucky to have had a Yiayia (that’s Greek for grandmother)  that dedicated her ENTIRE day to cooking and baking the most delicious traditional Greek meals and pastries for her family and friends to enjoy. She is the reason I love spending time in my kitchen and she set the bar way too high. No one will ever compare. Now that she is gone, these are the memories I cherish most and the traditions I want to share with Eisley so that she too can experience all the joys of her Greek heritage.

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A very large part of that heritage is food. Food, glorious food. Greeks definitely love food! We love to share our love of food with anyone who loves to love food as we do.  I remember my Yiayia had a general rule that you were never allowed to say no to seconds. It was a personal insult if you said no and I would never think of insulting her. She cooked for an army and she wasn’t satisfied until you ate every last bite on your plate (and then two helpings more). Family dinners definitely required a day’s worth of fasting beforehand but every single calorie, every single bite, every single dish she made was pure heaven and I would give anything for her to be in my kitchen today.

We arrived early to the festival at the Greek Orthodox church in North Park (because someone has a 7:30 bedtime) so we could squeeze in as much culture as possible. To no surprise, Eis worked her way right up to the stage, front and center. As soon as the music started playing and the kids were dancing she was in the zone. She was in her element and not to be disturbed. I knew the only way to break her focus was to entice her with food (she gets this from me.)

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Let’s get back to the food. If you’ve never been to a Greek festival or are unfamiliar with Greek cuisine than here is a line-up of some mouth-watering favorites:

Greek Chicken: chicken grilled with lemon juice

Dolmathes: grape leaves stuffed with rice (with or without meat) in an egg-lemon sauce

Moussaka: baked eggplant with meat

Pastitsio: macaroni, seasoned meat and cream sauce

Pilafi: Greek style rice (Eisley’s favorite)

Spanakopita: spinach and cheese phyllo triangles (my first favorite)

Tyropita: fluffy phyllo triangles stuffed with cheese

Gyros: seasoned meat served in pita bread with tzatziki sauce, onions and tomato (Dave’s favorite)

Feta fries: fried potatoes with feta and oregano

Loukoumathes: golden puffs of pastry dipped in honey, sprinkled with cinnamon and nuts (my second favorite)

Baklava: layered nut and phyllo pastry

Kourambiethes: melt-in-your mouth butter cookies dusted with powdered sugar (my third favorite)

Paximathia: Greek biscotti

If you noticed, I get three favorites because it’s impossible to choose just one.

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Yes, that’s right, I do consider the feta fries pictured above (and below) to be a food group. I have never seen those baby blues get so big as when she dove into those fries! “Mmmmmmm!” Everyone knows that Friday was national doughnut day, so to be fair I had to get the Loukoumathes as well.

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feta fries

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Gyro

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Loukoumathes

Dave and I had such a fun evening watching Eisley take it all in and we anxiously await our next visit.

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She sees daddy and she’s off!

On the drive home I asked Eisley if she had a fun night. For a moment, there was silence but then in the softest, sweetest, sleepiest voice, she answered, “I wuv Greece.” I knew my Yiayia was smiling down on us and my heart was completely full. ❤

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Shop the look-> Floral Maxi Dress: Genuine Kids from Oshkosh | Sandals: Salt Water Sandals by Hoy

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Apple and Raisin Oatmeal Muffins

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Gloomy days always call for something sweet and comforting, so when those clouds started rolling in this morning, I knew I had to bump these Apple Oatmeal Muffins up to the top of my priority list. Not only are they a perfectly delicious (and healthy) post-nap snack to nibble on, they make the house smell heavenly while simultaneously putting that adorable ear-to-ear smile on my daughter’s cute little face.  At 20 months, she has an opinion about every single thing I put on her plate and if you ask her what she’d prefer, her answer is “pasta and stwa-berries” about 95% of the time. Lucky for me, she has always been a sucker for muffins (what’s not to love?) and her go to for breakfast is oatmeal so when a recipe calls for cinnamon, applesauce, chopped apples, old fashioned oats, and a little brown sugar we are BOTH on board to test it out. Oh, and lets not forget that they are also smothered in apple butter because, why the hell not?!

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I’m happy to report that these were a huge hit! Eisley was convinced they were “happy birthday day cakes” and insisted on helping herself to TWO after informing me that we were celebrating both Elmo AND Ernie’s birthdays. If you have a picky eater in your house, (toddler, child, husband, etc.) these muffins will surely please the whole family and have you all gobbling up the entire batch…

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 EVERY LAST CRUMB.

Shop the look – > Track Jacket: Jeremy Scott for Adidas | Jeans: Joe’s | Shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Simple Slip On.

Happy baking makes for a happy toddler, which makes this happy mommy have one hell of a happy day! xo

*I added a half cup of raisins to the recipe and next time, I’ll add carrots as well to sneak in some veggies.

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All hopped up on Easter

Spring photo shoots in Grandma’s garden, ridiculously yummy treats, and bunny baskets— check!  A little late getting around to posting this weeks activities and I’m about to crash from a serious sugar high, but the photo montage overload begins…now!

First up, baby girl’s photos!

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Shop the look –> Dress: Mimi & Maggie | Boots: Bobux

Next up, one of my go-to favorite cookie recipes using boxed cake mix! Seriously easy if your tight on time (as in, I made them Easter morning) and soooooo dang good! I mix up the candies depending on the occasion but you can’t beat the deliciously sinful combo of Oreo’s and M&M’s. I crafted these miniature Easter basket cookie holders using cupcake liners and pipe cleaners. Add some festive crinkle grass as a cushion for your cookie and your masterpiece is ALMOST too adorable to eat!

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Last, we have E’s Easter basket. I usually browse the dollar bins at Target before hitting up EVERY OTHER DEPARTMENT in the store. This year’s basket was: her very own camera to fulfill the need to steal and break mine; a book about bunnies and potties because it’s Easter and the training begins this month; Sesame Street bath tile decals because a day without Elmo and Cookie doesn’t exist in this household; a collection of  flower grow kits so she can have her own little garden; and some bunny ears for yet another photo op.

DSC04030I am actually pretty happy to say goodbye to all this Easter prep-it was exhausting! 😉 Hoping everyone had a Happy Easter weekend!

Flashback to last Easter. Where did my little, baby bunny go? ❤

Easter 2014

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Happy 18 to E and 33 to me!

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Eisley usually flies solo for the photo shoots (I prefer to be behind the camera) but she insisted that I state my age on a sticker for my birthday as she had so cooperatively done the first twelve months of her life. PAYBACK. With E celebrating her 18 month and me turning 33 this March, I thought it fitting for some mommy-daughter photos, all of which she felt the need to be flying over or climbing on top of me. I have no shame when it comes to making this little girl laugh, even if it means rolling around on our front lawn for all the neighbors to see-anything for that sweet smile. ❤

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I am not a fan of selfies (as in I NEVER take them) but I had to try to replicate the three most popular “of the moment” Eisley expressions. At 18 months, there are three looks that are put on rotation throughout the day: the pout face, the oh so sad face and the stinker face. Obviously, hers are WAY cuter! 😉

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Lucky in Love

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Here we are in mid-March and I am still trying to figure out where February went? It is Saint Patrick’s Day, my baby is 18 months (CAN’T wrap my head around THAT) and the creative photo shoots are a thing of the past. This lil’ leprechaun is half Irish so clearly I had to get some photos of her in something green (I’ve lowered my standards a bit in the props department.) In all honesty, I’m actually pleasantly surprised that I even managed to get a few shots of her in the frame (she is soooooo dang fast!)

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The original outfit I had planned was a bust (way more attracted to sparkles and loud prints), the sweet kelly green, floral patterned blanket we brought back from our honeymoon in Ireland was a huge hell no (she refused to sit on the ground), and the green sparkly bow was insulting (birthday cake with a crown clip it is-Duh). All in all, this St. Paddy’s Day photo shoot was a little less “themed” and a little more “me chasing her around the yard with a camera” as she threw a fit. Welcome to real life momming! She is such a smart, curious and independent little lady who has mastered the art of changing the plan, whatever it may be. Of course she chose to sit on the water-less fountain that hasn’t been cleaned since last summer. It makes for a beautiful backdrop.

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Such a sweet little face turned grumpy in about five minutes. She was over it! Thirty seconds later she was overjoyed and loving life. You would think that each of these photos is a different child (my little chameleon), but nope, just the ever-changing moods and expressions of a toddler in about ten minutes time.

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My favorite little grump nugget.

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Extra CHEESE please!

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In my pre-mommy days, the words “unorganized” and “go with the flow” were not exactly a part of my vocabulary but since having Eisley, I’ve learned to appreciate some sweet chaos every now and again.  Heck, sometimes (I repeat, sometimes) I’ll even photograph it-tantrums and all.

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Planning her escape route for future photo shoots.

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My wee little Leprechaun this time last year. Don’t you just want to eat her up?! ❤

Wishing you and yours all the luck of the Irish and a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! xo

—>I promise the Easter/Spring shoot will be more organized. ;)<—