Valentine’s Day

2019 shaped up to be quite the little Valentine’s Day with my loves. From homemade valentine’s for the kids to hand out in class to our own little celebration at home, it was definitely one for the books.

While I recognize the exploited nature of days like Valentine’s Day, I still absolutely love the day. Why wouldn’t one embrace a day that literally exists as a reminder to spread love and kindness to the special people in our lives? Really, who doesn’t need a reminder?

So of course, I have to go over the top.

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up VERY early to make heart-shaped french toast with berries before my 6am workout. I hung up Charlotte’s homemade Valentines on the window and put their Valentine’s Day gifts up on the counter. Everything was set.

When I got home from my workout, the kiddos were in a blissful state. So happy with their breakfast and SO pumped to open their gifts.

Charlotte had been oogling this absurdly soft teddy bear named Puffles for weeks. She’d asked for it many a time and the answer had been no. SO… of course, I had to get her the damn bear for Vday… because she just loved the stupid thing. AND, a pair of stuffy slippers.

Hem got a light-up book, a wind-up dinosaur and a pull-back monster truck.

However, my favorite gift of the morning (besides my new leggings from hubby), were the socks I got for Marky! SO funny!

The kids spread love all day with their Valentines.

I also made chocolate covered popcorn with V-day sprinkles with little tags that said, “You Make My Heart POP”… but of course, in the fun of it all, I forgot to take a pic (although you can see it in the picture of Mark’s socks!)!

Then, at dinner, they got their favorite meal, which is noodles with fake butter. Seriously… favorite meal. AND, Marky and I got our favorite meal: RAMEN!!!

It was just such a good day. It might not seem like much, but there was just so much happiness oozing all over the place.



I almost forgot to share the Valentine’s my neighbor and I made for Charlotte to share with her class and for C & the neighbor to share with the neighbor kids. 

My neighbor, Elyse, and I stayed up until 1am decorating cookies. Then, I used Adobe Indesign to make little Valentine’s, packaged them up and voila!

Valentine’s Day

We had a really nice Valentine’s Day! My amazingly sweet husband snuck out of the house early to surprise me with flowers at my office. 

But before I saw my flowers, Marky took charge with both kiddos so I could get into work early…

At lunch, hubby came by to spend time with Henry and I.

And then we put the kiddies to bed early (after an adorable evening with them), ordered Thai food (Marky was even home from work early), and had an at-home date night ❤

My sweet hubs surprised me with a massage gift certificate and the kids and I made him this beautiful little piece of art…

DIY Memory Game

I wanted to come up with a fun DIY Valentine’s Day gift for Charlotte this year. I searched the Internet high and low and finally came across this Custom Memory Game.

Of course I didn’t want to just order it, so I decided to make my own version using Adobe InDesign.


  1. Open up an 8.5″ x 11″ document
  2. Create (6) 3″ x 3″ photo boxes per page – I used 18 photos total, so I had 3 pages.Photo Boxes
  3. Start to fill each photo box with close up photos of family, friends, and pets.Filled Boxes
  4. Find a background design that will go on the back of your card. I chose hearts. I snagged the image from Google. My image was too small to spread across the whole backside, so I used the image three times, spread across columns that were slightly larger than the fronts of the card.Back of Card
  5. Once everything is all set up in InDesign, it’s time to print. My printer isn’t amazing, but it was definitely good enough. I printed the front sides first onto cardstock. Remember, you need to print TWO COPIES of EACH PAGE.
  6. Then, I put the printed-on cardstock back in my printer to print the back side.
  7. Once the printing was complete, I started to cut out my cards using a paper cutter.
  8. Then, I used this corner rounder punch to round all of my edges and give my cards a slightly more “finished” look.
  9. Next, it was time to laminate. Again, we don’t have a fancy laminator, so I just used a standard 5mil thick lamination sleeve to laminate my cards. I was able to fit 12 cards per sheet.
  10. Once everything is laminated and cooled, I cut the cards out and was done!
  11. I ended up buying a little zipper pouch for card storage. I ordered this one (I used the small one with the little heart cut out) from Amazon.

The final result was well worth the effort and tediousness of all that cutting. Charlotte LOVES the cards. She doesn’t understand how to play Memory quite yet, but she matches the cards and loves pointing out all of her friends and family. Definitely a success!


A Busy Valentine’s Day Weekend

My Vday weekend update starts with a mini celebration this past Tuesday. Like the geek that he is, the hubs has spent 12+ hours over the past two(ish) months re-watching (in order) all of the Star Wars movies to refresh his memory before seeing the new movie on the big screen.

Now, if you’ve been to our house, you know that we have a pretty small TV. So, each of these 12 Star Wars Hours were spent curled up about 2 feet from the TV. Anyway, I told Mark I needed him home early so I could workout on Tuesday night, but instead surprised him with tickets to go see Star Wars at the iMax 3D theater. He was very pleased 🙂

On Thursday, Charlie brought in a little gift for her classmates. Because this is a religious school that does not celebrate Valentine’s Day, we kept it nice and general. But of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to give valentines 🙂

I’ll do a full blog on the sensory bottles “we” made for her class, but the gist is that while I had hoped it would be something C and I could do together, it turned into me binge watching “The Fall” and making 12 sensory bottles until around midnight. BUT, the kids loved them!


On Friday, we went to my parents’ house for dinner with my bro! As always, it was great being able to see him and giving C the opportunity to fall even more in love with her quirky uncle.

Saturday morning, C went to gymnastics (where she was a little gymnast rockstar, according to Daddy) and then we went to our favorite spot, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, for a Valentine’s Day Ice Cream Social with our friends.

Charlotte loved it! She pointed out every single baby she saw, she peeked into every stroller, ate her first cup of ice cream and about 2.5 cheese sticks, she discovered Mr. Potato Head, did her first exercise class, and played with her best girls, Ellie & Ari.



C’s face when Mommy says, “Say Cheese!”

And when Mommy says, “Say puppy dog!”

That evening, it was time for Marky’s VDay date that he planned for me. Not only was I surprised that he had planned anything (no offense, love), but I was so pleasantly surprised by our activity.


We went to Sur La Table for an Italian cooking class and it was fabulous! We had so much fun. (Thanks to Milly for watching the tiny one and giving us a night out!) We cooked a tasty salad, tenderloin and pasta carbonera… with custard for dessert. We had such a great time cooking and enjoying each other.

Definitely a perfect Valentine’s Day celebration.

On Sunday, the actual Vday, I decorated the bathroom mirror with little hearts (cut out from Charlotte’s beautiful artwork) that listed just some of the ways I love my sweet man.

 Then, we were off! It was Baby Day!

First stop: the hospital to visit my beautiful friend who just had a tiny little man on Friday. Will. Oy. How cute, huh?

Then, we played cupid fairy and dropped off some cupcakes at a friend’s house who just recently had a little guy.

With all the driving (probably 2 hours total), I decided to give C her Valentine’s Day gift from Mommy early. I’ll do a separate post, but I made her a memory game with cards featuring our family. She LOVES THEM!

And our next stop: Another baby visit! This time we were off to our friends’ house to meet their newest addition, Mackenzie, and play with their older daughter, Madison. We brought lunch and caught up and watched the girls play. Charlotte is finally at an age where she’s really playing with her friends. It’s a blast to watch.

By the time we got home, it was 2 or 230 (we left the house at 9am). Thankfully, Charlotte napped right away so we could all get a little rest in. Then, Mark’s dad and step mom came over to see the little lady and brought us some dinner on the cold snowy evening. It was great!

All in all, a total whirlwind of fun and love.

Making Valentines with Homemade Baby Paint

After a week away, we had an awesome Valentine’s Day at home… in our PJ’s. We really wanted to do something fun with Charlie… but didn’t want to leave the house (WI winter in a nutshell). SO, we decided to make Valentines with Charlie. This is our first attempt at art with our tiny lady, and I have to say, it was pretty successful. She had a blast.

Recognizing that Charlotte sticks just about EVERYTHING in her mouth, I decided that making a food-based paint would be best. I didn’t want anything with sugar or chemicals, so here’s what I did…


1 cup corn starch
1/2 cup cold water
1-2 cups hot water
1-3 TBSP red beet

I’m sure there is some sort of science to this, but my first attempt failed miserably. My suggestion is to just go slow adding the water. Just put your cornstarch into a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of cold water and stir. Then slowly add the hot water until it’s just thicker than you’d like it. Then, put the corn starch mixture in a blender with the beet. I used our Ninja Kitchen System. The beet will add liquid to your mixture, so you might need to add more corn starch. I just played around with it until I got the right texture.

This recipe will give you pink paint. I”m sure you coulkd use spinach for green, carrot for orange, blueberries for purple or blue… Just play around with different foods.

Here are the pics…













DISCLAIMER: This stuff is messy.


The Travel Gods Are on Our Side

Thursday, the day before our trip, was donned the worst travel day of the winter with over 6,200 flight cancellations and 3,700 flight delays. To say we were feeling a bit worried about our Friday morning flight would have been an understatement.

In full, “Mark & Melissa Fashion,” we showed up at the airport about 45 minutes before our flight. Thanks to my husband’s service in the US Navy, we’re able to use the military line, which was essential this morning. The security line for our concourse was totally unreal. The wait had to be at least an hour, if not much longer than that. Even in our quick line, we still waited 10 or 15 minutes, which is unheard of.

Anyway, somehow we got through security with enough time to grab a bagel (a total essential travel-day treat), use the bathroom and jump in line at our gate. When we got to our gate, we discovered that Southwest does not assign seat numbers. I guess neither of us has ever flown with them, because it was news to us. And, as two of the last people boarding the flight, we didn’t have much hope of actually being able to sit together… BUT sure enough, we got on the plane and found two seats next to each other. Another relief.

So enough about our transportation… once we were there, it was wonderful! We were both SO tired (after only 2 hours of sleep the night before), but by the time we got to the hotel around noon, we were equally hungry. So, we mustered up some strength, and went out to enjoy the beautiful 37 degree and sunny day. We didn’t have to walk far to find a place that tempted us, so in we went to some weird Asian market buffet. Everything looked wonderful, although, I’m not going to lie… it wasn’t all that great!

My Asian Market Buffet picks!

My Asian Market Buffet picks!

Mark's selections.

Mark’s selections.

After lunch, we walked across the street to a giant Macy’s mall. On our way, we caught a whiff of the most amazing aroma… Waffles & Dinges (pronounced “dings,” although the husband and I refer to it as “Dingy’s”). We decided that after our little mall adventure, we’d grab a delicious Dingy on our way out.

And oh did we…

The excitement is building as we wait in line at the outside Dingy hut. The smell is amazing!

The excitement is building as we wait in line at the outside Dingy hut. The smell is amazing!

So many delicious options...

So many delicious options…

Ms. Dingy preparing our made-to-order waffle deliciousness.

Ms. Dingy preparing our made-to-order waffle deliciousness.

Focused and ready to get back to our room and mow.

Focused and ready to get back to our room and mow.

The final products... mine was fresh strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate. Just a small, low-cal treat.

The final products… mine was fresh strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate. Just a small, low-cal treat.



Post-dingy, it was nap time. We were totally zonked. Then, it was up around 5 or so to get ready for dinner. We were even able to walk to dinner because the weather was so manageable!

The restaurant we selected, Osteria al Doge, was so perfectly romantic and adorable. A friend who used to live in the City made the recommendation and we were so happy we went with it. The place was perfectly candle-lit, authentic and delicious. They even came around and brought all the ladies roses.

Our romantic little corner booth!

Our romantic little corner booth!

After sharing some berries for dessert, we glanced at our clock to see that somehow we had let time get away from us and our show was starting in 9 minutes. We quickly paid the bill and started running to the show. Of course, in the excitement and chaos, I directed us to the wrong theater, which caused a slight delay. But again, we somehow made it JUST in time to use the bathroom and get to our seats right as the first number of NEWSIES began.

The theater, the Nederlander Theater, was totally great. It was really small and quaint, making it hard to believe there was a bad seat in the house. And the songs and dancing… oh they were perfect! The only trouble was that it wasn’t appropriate to sing along. Instead, my poor husband had to deal with me singing the songs the entire rest of the evening.

Yes, I downloaded the Newsies app.

Yes, I downloaded the Newsies app.

Enjoying the romantic NYC atmosphere on our walk to dinner.

Enjoying the romantic NYC atmosphere on our walk to dinner.

As if we hadn't eaten enough, we stopped for a post-show hot dog treat. Our hot dog vendor was hilarious. He noticed that my rose stem had broken and said, "oh no... not today" and wrapped the stem in tin foil to bring it back to life. Another great NY moment. And ooo was that hot dog delish.

As if we hadn’t eaten enough, we stopped for a post-show hot dog treat. Our hot dog vendor was hilarious. He noticed that my rose stem had broken and said, “oh no… not today” and wrapped the stem in tin foil to bring it back to life. Another great NY moment. And ooo was that hot dog delish.

The next day, we went to visit with one of my mom’s oldest friend’s, her daughter and her lovely bf. It was a great brunch and such a wonderful visit.

Mark, Jillian, Lorett & I!

Mark, Jillian, Lorett & I!

Then it was onto Long Island to visit with Mark’s sister, brother-in-law and two nieces. By the time we got there, I was zonked, so while Mark took one of the nieces sledding, I took a nap.

My nap was funny. The youngest niece is pretty much my biggest fan… ever. She might love me more than Mark does. So, she decided she was going to lay down and “nap” with me. This turned into her waking me up every 20 minutes for about an hour by saying, “Melissa… are you done yet??” I can’t complain though… I did get a solid hour in after that.

My wake-up call!

My wake-up call!

That evening, we went to the Globetrotters. I had never been and didn’t really know what to expect. It was pretty silly; although, from what the boys said, it wasn’t what it used to be.

Trotting around...

Trotting around…

The next day we went to their amazing gym/country club, where Mark and the oldest niece rock climbed, and then they all swam and played bball. We were probably there for a good 4 or 5 hours. The place was really nice… I even got to take a yoga class that afternoon. All-in-all, a very nice day!

Climbing session.

Climbing session.

We finished the evening with some Mediterranean food, the olympics and manicures. It was a great time!

The next morning, we headed to the airport nervously. Milwaukee was expecting 8-10 inches of snow that day and we were feeling a bit nervous about our travel luck. BUT, somehow, we made it! Anyone travelling to Wisconsin as a connecting flight, was unable to board the plane, as their trip had been cancelled. But as long as your final destination was Milwaukee, you were good to go. So we got on the plane and ventured back.

Just as we were about to land, they informed us that Milwaukee’s airport had been closed, so we would be cruising for a little bit until they were able to clear the runways and reopen. As scary as that was, we made it and landed safely… only to return to the blissful snow-filled state of Wisconsin.

Look at Me, I’m the King of New York…

Newsies for life.

Newsies for life.

As a child, I enjoyed four movies…

  1. A League of Their Own,
  2. Drop Dead Fred,
  3. Teen Witch, and

My brother and sister can vouch for me. These are pretty much the only movies I watched and the ones I constantly demanded on our trips to Blockbuster. So, you can imagine the overwhelming excitement that came over me when I found out that my favorite dancing boys were making their way to the Broadway stage. From the moment it was announced, I’ve been obsessing over the idea of hopping on a plane for the weekend and seeing the best musical ever.

So, with Valentine’s Day looming and our baby on the way (and our freedom to jump on a plane for the weekend on the way out), it felt like the perfect time to “jet off” and see my favorite movie-turned-broadway- production with my favorite guy in such a fun city! So that’s what we’re going to do! Now, before you think we’re totally crazy and impulsive, it must be mentioned that Mark’s sister and her fam live on Long Island, so we do try and make it to NY once a year. And actually, this will be our second Valentine’s Day celebration in the big city.

We’ll arrive in NY at around 9 am on Valentine’s Day, play around in the city all day, eat a delicious dinner at either Scarletto or Osteria Al Doge and then see NEWSIES!!! Could Valentine’s Day be any sweeter? Then, on the 15th, we’ll head to Long Island to see Mark’s sister, her husband and their two sweet little gals! I think we’re going to go see the Harlem Globetrotters. And honestly, I just had to ask my friend at work whether they were part of the NBA or not. I really don’t know what the Globetrotters are, but I’m totally down to find out. Also, for those of you who don’t know, the Globetrotters are NOT a part of the NBA 🙂

Anyway, we’re barely any closer to planning our “babymoon” / one year anniversary trip, but I figure the best thing to do when you’re having a hard time deciding on a trip is to add another one into the mix. That’s a famous saying, right?

Now’s the time before this baby pops out and our whole world changes.



I am literally still the same level of sick that I’ve been since last Friday. I guess it could be worse since I’m only really affected at night and in the morning, but still. It’s annoying. Other than that, I’ve noticed that I tend to feel the sweet little nugget dancing in the afternoons now. It definitely spices up my work day. Other than that, a lot of the same. My “clean eating” has been plagued with cravings. Yesterday I cheated and ate an overly processed Kelloggs Rice Krispy Treat. Who can resist? I shouldn’t pretend I was tempted. I sought it out. Found my $0.75, went to the vending machine, and scarfed it down. To avoid that same pattern, today I stopped at Starbucks after lunch to get a decaf skim cappuccino with one pump of sugar-free vanilla. It killed the craving, but doesn’t really fit into my whole food plan. Oh well. We do what we can, right?