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Kids

ISLA BEE

Amanda Hall StudiosI had big plans to finally wear and post an outfit this week, but the kids and I are sick with the plague (no really, it’s terrible) and didn’t even leave the house this weekend. My sister was visiting, too, and it was just sad, sad, sad. So Instead I leave you with these two adorable photos from my sweet girl’s school portrait session. There’s no laser beam background and she dumped water on her dress and threw out her hair clip before it was time for her pictures, but I’d say they’re the most gorgeous school pictures I’ve ever seen. Even though I’m a little bias.

(images by Amanda Hall Studios

Amanda Hall Studios

Life

LOVE NOT HATE

Wild Horses in IcelandI originally posted this on my social media yesterday and since this is my space to share things that are important to me, I’m going to share it here, too.

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Not doing or saying anything every single time this happens feels a lot like being part of the problem and I can’t stomach that so …

I don’t know how to stop all crime or all violence or how to fix all the world’s problems. I don’t know how to end these wars and prohibit new ones. I don’t know how to convince people that the gay couple over there isn’t hurting you by loving each other. Their love is not even about you! I don’t know how to explain to my children that there are people in this world who want to hurt other people because they know only hatred. Quite honestly, I don’t know how to explain that to myself. I am not colorblind, as much as I’d like to be. I’m not innocent of prejudice. I’m white and privileged. I’m a woman who hasn’t experienced much gender discrimination. I’ve known tragedy. I’ve experienced great loss and pain and watched helplessly as those around me have suffered. We can’t always stop tragedy before it hits. But sometimes we can. Make no mistake about that. Banning assault weapons will not fix all our problems. To claim that because one law won’t stop all crime it is therefore a useless law is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. 49 people might be alive today had that man not been able to buy an assault weapon legally at his local gun store. Those babies in Sandy Hook. They were babies. Just like mine. Pure and innocent. Moviegoers, coworkers at a party, churchgoers, college students, human beings! Their loss is humanity’s loss. And the longer we as a society do nothing, the more blood is on our hands. We must ban assault weapons and do it now or we surrender to the reality that our loved ones could be next. And that is a reality I cannot bear. // Now here’s a picture of some gorgeous horses we saw roaming freely in Iceland because beauty is all around us.

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You don’t have to agree with me. That’s the beauty of living in the land of the free. But if you do, consider writing to your Congressional representatives. I emailed mine yesterday because they represent me and I think they should know how I feel. If you don’t know what to write, Everytown for Gun Safety has some language you can use.

I demanded they finally pass what I consider to be common sense gun laws, such as: an assault weapons ban like the one that expired in 2004; mandatory, universal background checks; close gun show loopholes and the ones that don’t allow the FBI to decide that someone under suspicion of terror shouldn’t be allowed to buy a gun; stop the sale of guns between citizens; and prohibit all individuals with a violent history from buying a gun. Personally, I’d go even further than that, but right now I’m trying to be realistic.

Contrary to all this crazy social media fighting, most Americans agree it should be harder to get guns, certain people shouldn’t be able to get them at all and assault rifles shouldn’t be in the hands of civilians.

This is what I believe and I can no longer sit silently. If you agree, please stand with me.

Thanks for reading. If you have an opinion, please be kind and respectful in the comments so we can consider each other’s opinions thoughtfully.

Home

KIDS’ BATHROOM BEFORE & AFTER

New Kids' BathroomI’m about to show you a really horrible bathroom. Are you ready? I mean really ready? You’re going to wonder how we lived eight years with this bathroom and, let’s be honest, I’m wondering the same thing. But bathroom remodels are expensive and there was always a financial reason to put it off (wedding, baby, another baby, etc). Then the shower stall in the other bathroom broke (that bathroom got a facelift, which I’ll try to show you soon), our toddler started out-growing the ducky float she’d been bathing in and the baby got too big for the sink … I saw an opening and I took it.

Now brace yourself. This bathroom was the color of mucus. The kind you see when you have the flu. This bathroom was kind of like having the flu. It made you sick and achy all over just looking at it. Our contractor even got the flu while he was working on it.  It was bad, guys. Bad.

The medicine cabinet was so big I could’ve fit both kids in there (but it was gross and that’s weird so I didn’t), the leaky tub faucet turned that damn grout black almost instantly and no amount of harsh chemicals and elbow grease could get that hideous mucus tub looking clean. The ceiling/wall above the window was crumbling, the shower head was falling out of the wall, the floor and half of the walls (also mucus yellow) were chipped, ugly, old, worn and just gross. And there were these metal handlebars everywhere. Someone who lived here before the people before us (did you get that?) needed some handlebars in the shower. I totally get that, but all these years later they were still there, because how do you remove rusted metal bars that are drilled into a cast iron tub and 50-year-old tile? You don’t. You gut the damn thing. And gut it we did.

Did you already cheat and scroll ahead to see it? You did, didn’t you? Whatever. I don’t blame you because now you see I am not exaggerating. For those who didn’t cheat, go ahead, see for yourself …

Bathroom Remodel Before

Okay, now you’ve seen it. It was horrible and I apologize because you can’t unsee it.

Now feast your eyes on the after …Modern kids' bathroom Before and AfterBathroom Before and After Bathroom Before and After Bathroom Before and AfterBathroom Before and After

Now how about a quick side-by-side for good measure?

Modern bathroom before and afterDear New Bathroom: I think I love you. So much. So, so much.

I went with brass fixtures, charcoal floors, white subway tile with gray grout and white, white, white, white, white everywhere else. Everything is new except the loo. And I mean everything. This baby was gutted and rebuilt because nothing was worth saving. Except the old pedestal sink, which is probably getting sold on Craigslist because have you seen the stuff people sell on Craigslist?

Now let me be frank. Going gold is expensive, and we didn’t even go expensive. We went less expensive because even that was expensive. In hindsight, while I love that wall mounted sink so much I might just marry it, matching brass pipes to a brass faucet from a company that doesn’t make brass pipes to match its brass faucet was kind of the bane of my existence these last few months. Have any questions about p-traps? Want to know who makes them and in what shapes, sizes and colors? Go ahead. Ask me. Do you know how many shades of brass exist in the world? I do. One million. Do you know how many match my faucet? Zero. None. Zippo. Nada. Did you know I didn’t know that until we had already bought the sink and faucet and it was too late to go back? Oops.

Here’s the thing about gutting a bathroom and not knowing what you’re doing because you’ve never gutted anything before, let alone a bathroom. There’s a bit of a learning curve. Like a Sandy Koufax curve. Here, let me give you an example. When Pat, our friend/contractor, and Chris, my husband/financier, told me the wires and knobs and all the other plumber-like things would be exposed under the sink I gave them a horrified look and told them they were wrong. I assured them that I would buy a pretty p-trap, but that there would be no other ugly plumber-like things under that sink. Pat scratched his head and very gently asked me, “Well then where will they be?” I promptly told him, “Well on Pinterest there are no ugly plumber-like things.” And in that very moment I lost all credibility and those two, bless them, tried their hardest not to laugh at me. So listen. Unless you plan on living in a showroom you find on Pinterest, maybe do some research before you gut your bathroom.

Now that you know how clueless I am about bathrooms, you can appreciate that we picked out everything in this bathroom all by ourselves (and by “we” I mean mostly me because my husband did not want to hear the words “brass p-trap” one more godforsaken time) and it turned out pretty stinking nice, if I do say so myself. And, bonus, it cost less than we anticipated.

Now can we talk about the marble backsplash for a second? It was part of the original plan. I didn’t care how it was accomplished, but I was getting a marble backsplash for my wall-mounted sink. You see, our whole house has marble windowsills and we added marble for the built-in shower shelves to match so, naturally, we needed a marble backsplash. This makes total sense, no? Well, long story short, our faucet was too close to the wall so I needed a super thin chunk of marble in a very specific size and color and every single marble seller in all of Philadelphia and South Jersey told me “Yea, um, no. That’s not possible. The marble you want doesn’t exist in the world. You’re up a creek, paddle got eaten by a river monster.” Well don’t you know it, I found the exact piece of marble, in the exact color, size and width I needed (drumroll please) for $12 at Home Depot.

Bam. [insert inappropriate gesture]

I win.

Are you still with me? Just a few more things.

I wanted a fancy brass or black medicine cabinet, but for a house we probably won’t live in forever it didn’t seem worth the expense. I’m surprised how much I like the clean lines of the frameless one we settled on. (If you haven’t noticed, the theme here is “clean.”)

I wanted fancy brass sconces, too, and I got them. I fell in love with every single light fixture I saw at Cedar and Moss, but I went with simple, since it’s a small space, and chose a style that was a bit easier on the budget. I ordered a new brass ceiling fixture, too, but it hasn’t been installed yet.

I’d like a small rug for outside the tub but I just can’t decide. I’d love a beautiful Persian, but it seems to me like Persian rugs and kids splashing in the tub and moisture in general maybe aren’t so great together. I love the look, but Persian rugs are not cheap and I couldn’t stomach destroying one. So back to the drawing board.

We need a new door but pick your battles, you know?

The tub. It’s not cast iron (because they are 300 pounds) and not acrylic either. We went with Americast. It has mixed reviews but it was unbelievably affordable, much lighter than cast iron, sturdier than acrylic and did I mention affordable? We’ll see how it holds up but so far it’s been lovely. Or as Isla says every single time she’s in there, “It’s Won-er-ful!”

We don’t have any storage in this bathroom except that medicine cabinet so I bought that beautiful basket to hold toilet paper, my hair dryer, extra towels, the kids’ bath toys and some lady things hidden in a Baggu bag. Surprisingly, there’s room to spare.

Side note: I love the brass so much, but copper might just be my next obsession.

Alright. This is the longest blog post ever and most of you probably aren’t still reading anyway so I’ll just stop now. Here are the full details on where we got all the stuff:

{Delta Faucet tub/shower faucet + sink faucet + towel ring + toilet paper holder in “champagne bronze” | Cedar and Moss sconces | Industrial Light Electric ceiling mount light | American Standard “Princeton” tub | Kohler medicine cabinet | tile from M.T.O. Bath & Tile | sink | Serena & Lily basket | Target shower curtain | Signature Hardware shower curtain rod + rings in “polished brass” | Etsy Turkish towels | Rail 19 copper soap dispenser}

Baby

SEVEN MONTHS

Seven-Month Baby PhotosI thought time flew by with Isla but that was nothing compared to Theo’s first year. How did we get to seven months already? I mean seriously. This is not funny. I must be missing something!

Theo managed to get his very own solo photo shoot this month because his big sis was at school! Can I tell you how much easier it was? Except now he’s aware of that light box and just wanted to eat the letters (kind of like his sister!).

We had a big month. We started baby-led weaning and while he’s not super thrilled about everything we give him, he’s already eating two meals a day and will try anything once. He loves strawberries, watermelon, peaches, peanut butter and hummus on carrots, throws shade at bananas, loathes broccoli, is indifferent about sweet potato, is on the fence about pasta with basil avocado sauce and officially joined the family by enjoying his first pancake at brunch. Oh right, and egg! No egg allergy! He prefers them hardboiled, not scrambled.

Theo pretty much just smiles all day long, as you can see from these photos. He’s eternally happy and content and loves spending time with his sister. He can sit up on his own, scoots all around the house and is close to crawling, which is something I am not at all prepared for. He says “dada,” “blah blah” and lots of jibberish, is ridiculously ticklish and loves to belly laugh. He is incredibly affectionate and generous with his hugs and slobbery kisses, just started experiencing stranger danger and is way clingier to his mama than Isla was (I don’t mind!). He has graduated to the big bathtub and cannot control his excitement as he splashes his sister and steals all her bath toys. He attended his first baseball game and spent his first official weekend on the beach. He’s a big fan of eating as much sand as he possibly can and sometimes even face-plants himself into it just to get a mouthful.

And now, for some big news. Drumroll please. Theo is sleeping through the night! Every night! WOO HOO! This is huge. We were turning into zombies around here. Thanks to a little sleep training, some reflux meds and a baby who decided it was time, Theo goes to bed at the same time as his sister and sleeps straight through ’til morning, at which point whoever wakes up first makes as much noise as possible to wake up the other.

This guy makes motherhood feel easy and I hope his happiness defines him for eternity. Happy seven months little duck. We love you more than seagulls love tourists.

(Theo at six monthsfive monthsfour monthsthree monthstwo monthsone month and his birth story)Seven-Month Baby Photos Seven-Month Baby Photos Seven-Month Baby Photos Seven-Month Baby PhotosSeven-Month Baby PhotosSeven-Month Baby PhotosSeven-Month Baby Photos

Life

MDW

We spent Memorial Day Weekend down the shore (obviously) and it’s safe to say Theo is my son. That kid loved the sand so much he could hardly contain his excitement. He was cooing and yelling and giggling and couldn’t resist eating every bit of sand he could get his tiny hands on, just like his sister. The water was frigid and the wind was brutal and cold, but those two fishies were thrilled to be there. We ended the long holiday weekend with brunch (Theo’s first taste of pancakes!) and a BBQ with friends back in the city to kick off the unofficial start of summer. It was a good one.