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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : October 2014


Happy Halloween!

Just want to wish you a Happy Halloween! I love when it falls on a Friday. It's the perfect formula for a wonderful night of trick-or-treating. I am really looking forward to it with the boys this year since Luke is old enough for it to be meaningful. And because I didn't just have a baby cut out of me! Remember that last year?  I came home from the hospital on Halloween! My, my, how things have changed ;) Also, Luke was the cutest "Melmo" around, even if his costume didn't fit.

Have a fun, safe weekend and be sure to fulfill your parental duties of sneaking all of the "good" candy. (You know, the Kit Kats, Reese's, full-sized candy bars...)

P.S. If you can do a better jack o' lantern impression than Luke, I will give you BOTH of our Halloween candy stashes.
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10 Ways To Quickly Improve Your Relationship

I think a lot about love, and feelings, and anything pertaining to romantic relationships. I was that little girl who obsessed over the love plots of Disney movies, and I am still that girl who cares way too much about celebrity love triangles and the romantic happenings in the lives of my friends and family. It's all about love, after all. Unfortunately, I can get a little cranky and negative in my own relationship with Matt sometimes. (I know, it even happens to us hopeless romantics.) So, I wanted to share some wonderful tips I found in this article from Time, which gives ten ways you can instantly improve your relationship. I've been trying them out, and hey! They work! Especially for us boring, old married couples ;)

1. Turn off your gadgets! Studies have found that there is a negative correlation between heavy use of social media and happiness in a relationship. Also, text messaging can convolute conversations that should be done in person. I personally think excessive social media use can cause unnecessary envy and comparison, which can lead to all sorts of personal problems, and can easily carry over into relationships. I've been trying to spend less time on my phone and extinguish the incessant need to update my whereabouts and give the play-by-play of every detail in my life. My initial fear was that I would be missing out on documenting my life and in turn forget all of the wonderful, ordinary things that make my life so happy. But, it turns out I am enjoying my life more thoroughly instead of living with anxiety in fear of missing out on capturing everything, and my memories are more meaningful. Matt appreciates it, too.

2. Go to bed at the same time. People who sleep less than the recommended amount of time each night have been shown to argue more with their significant other. Plus, it is oftentimes the one point in the day where you get to see each other one on one. I suppose I should take this advice to heart. I am a night owl — always have been, no matter how hard I try to go to bed early! Although, I could not agree more that good sleep is the solution to many of life's problems. We're all just grouchy because we need sleep! You know the "Be nice, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" quote? We need to change it to, "Be nice, for everyone you meet needs more sleep."

3. Do frequent, small acts of kindness for your significant other. It's the little things that make your partner feel loved and appreciated. A marriage researcher from University of Michigan studied 373 over the course of 28 years and found that these frequent, small acts of kindness resulted in overall relationship quality and happiness. So, go write your love a small note, or make them some breakfast. It will make both of you happy.

4. Talk about something funny from the past. Laughter truly is the best thing for any relationship, and it has been found that reminiscing together about funny things is even better than focusing on just positive memories. Laughter can help you relive those moments and give higher relationship satisfaction.

5. Exercise! I am pretty sure this is on any list that talks about improving any facet of life. And we all know why! Working up a good sweat increases those endorphins, and leads to a rush of adrenaline and arousal. So channel that arousal into a good time with your love! Which leads me to the next point...

6. Have sex in a different place. It's good to switch it up every once and awhile, and new experiences elevate your levels of dopamine, which is a positive reinforcer. Don't worry, there is no need to go wild and do it in a public bathroom or coat closet at a holiday party (although if that is your thing, more power to you!) — simply finding a new room can do the trick.

7. Try new things together. Learn to cook an exotic dish. Play a silly game together. Go explore a new place in the area you live. The activity can be big or small, but the point is that couples who frequently experience new things together are shown to have higher-quality relationships.

8. Give each other hugs. Touching is extremely important in letting your partner know they are loved and it allows you to feel more comfortable with one another. It also has a calming effect, and increases intimacy.

9. Talk about new ideas. We all get caught up in the humdrum of everyday life; work, kids, family, friends, etc. Sometimes we forget to have captivating discussions or don't have the time, so find a moment to strike up an interesting conversation. Ask engaging questions and try to learn something new about your partner. We change over time, so it is essential to have good chats and reintroduce your current likes and thoughts.

10. Say thank you. If you are anything like me, I expect my husband to read my mind. And that includes him sensing my gratitude for him! But, that is silly! It is incredibly important to express our appreciation for our loved one. It makes them feel important and of worth, and lifting each other up is one of the most valuable characteristics of any solid relationship.
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Wes Is One!

I should really be sleeping right now, but the image of Wes curled up to nurse one last time as a real, honest-to-goodness infant keeps replaying in my mind. Truly, seriously, I am baffled at how quickly the time passed by this last year. Those contractions I thought were merely lackluster cramps happened only a couple months ago. There is still a squishy, curled up three-month-old in the next room sleeping.

But, no. Time has seeped in and out of days and turned into months, and now we are standing here at the one year mark.

I keep popping in to get one last look at him, feeling as if I am missing out on something. And I am not really sure what or why I am feeling so sentimental and weepy about it. I don't recall feeling this way about Luke turning one. I suppose that with each child, we realize how brief the "baby" phase actually is and set our hearts in deeper to savor its innocence. (And that sweet, sweet new baby breath!) Or perhaps with each child, our capacity to love expands; it grows thick, knotted roots, which plant themselves firmly into our relationships with each child, making it more strenuous when those roots are shifted and tugged at. Which is exactly what happens as children grow older. There is a subconscious awareness that with each birthday celebrated means a year closer to not needing and relying on mom as much as they once were. Although, there are new ways in which we are needed, and I can't say just exactly what those things are since that stage is out of sight. (For now.) But what I do know is that being Wesley's mom has changed me.

My hair is patchy in the front, my hips will never pull back into the size they were before, and there are a few more lines and crinkles around my eyes; but my heart is permanently altered.

(Great, here come the tears. The screen is starting to get fuzzy and I can't be sure on what I am typing. But, I will push through the blubbering!)

Wes... he is just special. I don't feel like much a wordsmith in selecting that adjective to describe him, but that is what strongly comes to mind whenever I think of him.

He is gentle and sweet in a way that stretches beyond his infancy. I remember sensing that same feeling the first time he cuddled up on my chest in the hospital. It was electrifying and serene all in the same moment. And I suppose that would be a wonderful way to describe his personality as it emerges each day. The child has a fire about him. But he is also incredibly gentle and calming. He is that baby who will sit on your lap for hours and is content to just hang out and smile and laugh.

Just yesterday at the store he sat peacefully in the cart and waved to every person who walked by us. Most of them were women, which followed with a, "Oh my word! What a doll!" and a, "Look! He is waving at me! Such a sweetie pie!" (His wave is a mixture between a Miss America contestant and spirit fingers. And yes, it does happen to be one of the most adorable things on the planet.)

Wes also loves to carefully explore his surroundings. Some of this is just a developmental age thing, but I am getting a feel for who he is more and more as I watch him awaken to the world around him.

I love how his face lights up when we sing a song, like it was written especially for him. He becomes hopelessly doe-eyed and his smile beams from ear to ear. (That four-toothed smile I so dearly love.)

And gosh, does he adore his daddy and his brother. The sun rises and sets on the two of them. Whenever Wes gets to see Luke after waking up, he starts squealing and giggling a deep, infectious belly laugh. The kind that captivates you and makes you feel like your eyes are twinkling. Whenever Matt walks through the door, it's a crawling dash straight toward him, all while he is excitedly saying, "Da-da! Da-da!"

Then there is our bond. Wes is a complete mama's boy, and I love it. He's been affixed to me for the last 21 months in one shape or another. I am his safe place, his happy place, and I don't ever want to lose that.

Wes, we love you so much, there are simply no words. So, we will let our hugs and kisses and smiles tell the rest of that story.

Happy 1st birthday, Chubby Dubby!
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Make A Halloween-Themed Boofast (Breakfast)

Halloween "Boofast" Breakfast

We are what you would call Halloween people. Really, we are holiday people in general, but there is something extra fantastic about Halloween. Maybe because it marks the beginning of the holiday season and it's the time of year where it is socially acceptable to gorge on candy? Either way, I love it, and we are starting a new tradition of a Halloween-themed "boofast"(breakfast)! You should've seen the look on the boys' faces when we put it all together. Pure joy and excitement.

Halloween "Boofast" Breakfast

Here is what was on the menu and how you can make your own Halloween-themed boofast, too!
  • Spooky Milk. Simply make these by using black tape to make eye and mouth cutouts and adhere them to glass milk bottles.
  • Pumpkin Cereal. Hollow and clean out enough pie pumpkins (the little ones at the grocery store or market) for your guests and place small clear bowls inside them. Fill them up with your favorite fall-flavored cereal. 
  • Candy Corn Parfaits. Layer vanilla yogurt, clementines, and granola in a mason jar to create a candy corn-colored dish!
(If you want to go the extra mile and indulge a little, you can whip up a batch of poisonous apple cider donuts! They are devilishly delicious.)

Even amidst all of the candy-gorging, we still try to keep our meals balanced to include healthy options, and this breakfast does the trick. Milk is a huge staple at our house, — like, we go through four gallons a week, I kid you not! — and it is how we start off our day. Luckily, our boys can't get enough, but some kids are pickier and may not like to drink their needed servings everyday. A good way to change that is to make it fun! These spooky milk bottles add some pizazz to the usual humdrum of milk with breakfast, and make it more appealing. Sometimes it can be fun to play with your food, right?

Halloween "Boofast" Breakfast
There is no doubt Luke and Wes are setting a solid foundation for their health and growing strong bones, muscles and teeth as a result of making milk a nutritional staple. We absolutely believe milk fuels a better future. (And also provides peace of mind when someone is crying and just needs a bottle of that creamy goodness.)

Halloween "Boofast" Breakfast

Now get to making your own Halloween "boofast", and remember ... got milk?

This post was sponsored by ‘Got Milk?’ through their partnership with POPSUGAR. While I was compensated by POPSUGAR to write a post about ‘Got Milk?’, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting our sponsors!

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Baby Favorites Giveaway!

Wesley Rodriguez turns one tomorrow! ONE!! I cannot believe it has already been a whole 12 months since we met our incredible little guy.

In honor of his big day, I've put together a "Baby Favorites" giveaway of my ultimate, tried and true baby items that I love. Seriously, every mama and baby needs these goodies. I've teamed up with some awesome entrepreneur moms and fellow mommy bloggers so one of YOU awesome moms (or dads, or aunts, or anyone with a baby in their life) can have your own!

Before we get to that, remember the bump style series I did when I was pregnant with Wes? Well, Emily, Lynzy and I are back to show you a little then and now! Trips down memory lane are always a good thing, especially when it involves babies.

Emily easily makes one of the cutest pregnant mamas, but that Lydia on her hip is even sweeter! She is taking after her mama with that amazing red hair. (I am sure you know Emily by her insanely gorgeous mermaid hair!) Such an adorable family!

Here is one of Lynzy looking radiant and glowing in her maternity shoot back when she was pregnant with Olivia, and one from their recent family photos. Little Olivia is absolutely adorable and just turned one a few weeks ago! You have to check out the vintage first birthday party they threw for Livie! It was whimsical and lovely, and now I am trying to figure out how to get a little lady of my own because she is giving me some serious baby girl fever.

And last, but not least, we have Wesley! Isn't he the most handsome little fella? I am one of those weirdos who loves being pregnant (for the most part), and my pregnancy with Wes was wonderful. Since it was my second time around, I felt much more calm and aware. Although, I like him better on the outside. ;)

Now for the goodies! We are giving away $200 worth of must-have baby favorites! Here is a list of the package one of you lucky people will win:
  • A Solly Baby wrap. This wrap is essential for the newborn days, especially having two kids. The colors are beautiful, and it has the right amount of stretch and hold. I have tried four different wraps and carriers now, and this is hands down my favorite. Also, Elle, the owner of Solly Baby, is one of the nicest people in the world. She and her darling family just got back from a five week trip around the world, and you have to check out all of their photos! Such an inspiration!
  • A bottle of Tubby Todd baby soap. K, this stuff is what baby body product dreams are made of. I am sure you are like me in wanting only to put natural products on your baby's body, and they have created a 100% natural baby wash that smells like heaven AND actually lathers and gets clean! Truly, I will never buy another baby soap as long as I live.
  • A Swankaroo backpack. These packs are mini-sized and perfect for stuffing all of the extra baby loot in. You can then have your older kids haul it around or put it on your little one once they are old enough to toddle around. The prints and colors are bright and hip, and I am still waiting for them to come out with backpacks in my size! (Although they recently just launch mommy tote bags!)
  • A pair of Freshly Picked moccasins. These baby shoes are everywhere in the blog world, and it is because they are so cute! Wes rotates between these and his Converse, but almost every time he has his moccs on we receive a compliment. The leather is soft and they are one of the few things that will actually stay on baby feet!
  • An art print from Wee Little Monsters. These watercolor prints are simple and sweet for a baby nursery. We have the bear print, and are going to be adding a few monsters and a surf wagon one soon! Also, Paige, the artist behind Wee Little Monsters, just started a blog that you will want to add to your list. She is gorgeous, has amazing taste and style, and their family is adorable!
Is your heart beating a million miles an hour after reading over this list? I know you at least have real life emoji heart eyes right now! I do too. I love quality products and ones that come from mommy entrepreneurs at that! Now all you need to do is enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. Remember, the more entries you complete, the more likely you are to win!

Here's to Wesley's birthday week, babies, and love! Cheers and good luck!

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A Trip To The Pumpkin Patch With My Boys

Last weekend my boys showed me to a rip-roaring time on our trip to the pumpkin patch at Tanaka Farms. It was a bit of a sweaty one since California still thinks it is summer, but I am choosing to ignore that small fact and am willing it to get colder by layering on the scarves and beanies.

Also, last year at the pumpkin patch, I was just days away from having Wes! It's fun to compare the pictures to see how much things have changed.

This is the look of a major crush. Like, MAJOR. Our friends came down for the weekend and we continued to encourage the arranged marriage thing between Luke and Brooklyn. (Their new baby girl isn't pictured, but she and Wes are betrothed as well.)

I think it's working, don't you? Playing tag and shoving each other around is the universal playground love language. I remember getting kicked in the shins to the point of being intensely bruised by a boy who proclaimed to love me. I do not miss second grade, in case you were wondering.

Look! A complete family photo! It's practically a thing of legend, because I refuse to be the tweeb with the tripod.

So, Luke insisted on carrying around this squidgy, little pumpkin with him throughout the entire patch. It was entertaining to watch him haul it to and fro, while Wes thoroughly impressed himself with his own abilities to stand along the pumpkins.

Pre-dirt eating. One minute after this he had a fistful of dirt in his mouth. I think eating dirt is hereditary. It was my main food group as a child. That, or we are both iron deficient.

You see Luke busy at work with that pumpkin? The funny thing is, when we went to leave and purchase our pumpkins, we asked Luke, "Do you want to get that pumpkin?"

He replied with a stern, "NO!" and chucked it like he was competing in the the shot put. (Also, all of our pumpkins stems have already had to be hot glued back on. Please tell me I am not the only one with wounded pumpkins.)

That settled that.

Besides, we had some goats to feed! I thought I'd be one of those cool, nice moms and buy the petting zoo food which costs $20 per pellet. Seriously, they make all of their money from that poop pen. We are still cleaning out the poo from our shoes. But then again, who am I kidding? My life consists of being surrounded by poo with two boys in diapers, a husband, and a blind dog. It's my lot in life.

Matt made a new friend. Wait a second... I just now saw that that sheep was getting fresh with him! Geez, Louise! Those flea bags will do anything to get their share, apparently. It's probably because they realize how friggin' expensive the food is. Every bite counts!

Bidding adieu with the cutest alpaca I've ever seen. He was short and fluffy and had these huge saucer eyes that were asking for a big ole' hug. I need a stuffed animal version of him.
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DIY Halloween Slime

DIY Halloween Slime DIY Halloween Slime

DIY Halloween Slime

DIY Halloween Slime
DIY Halloween Slime

DIY Halloween Slime
We made the spookiest, ooziest DIY Halloween slime the other day. It was a fun science experiment of sorts, and Luke loved mixing it all together and playing with the textures. (Not gonna lie, so did I!)

It's the easiest recipe! All you do is mix equal parts liquid starch and school glue, and then add in your choice of food coloring. Head on over to What To Expect to see the complete instructions and measurements if you want more details, and have fun squishing and squeezing your slime!

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Forever 21 Printed Crop Top (similar)
LOFT Long Sweater Vest (similar)
LOFT High Waisted Wide Leg Denim (similar)
Old Navy Heeled Clog Shoes (similar)
Urban Outfitters Hat (similar)

1. I feel like last Tuesday was a decade ago. Which is actually a nice change of pace since life usually seems to fly by at a million miles an hour. Anyway, this week's look is clearly boho inspired. I pretty much pulled everything in my closet that was easily influenced by the 70's and slapped it all together. I quite like how it came together!

2. Fact: Ancient Egyptians often shaved off their eyebrows to mourn the deaths of their cats (source).

3. Do you believe couples are better together when their astrological signs are compatible? Or do you think that's a bunch of hogwash? I feel like there is some stock in it, but I am a hopeless romantic and believe in ridiculous things like horoscopes.

4. I showed Luke "Charlie Bit My Finger" and then realized he and Wes are about the same age as those boys when it was originally recorded! Wouldn't a spin-off version starring Luke and Wes be funny? Or is it still too early? I don't really know the rules of how long something has to be out until it can be redone as a cover. Am I making any sense?

5. Would you rather live in a world that is entirely animated except for the people, or live in a world that only consists of three colors?
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