About Julie Mengers

I am a mother of two beautiful children - one boy and one girl ages 5 and 1 1/2, and a wife to a wonderful man and amazing father. When I get some spare time, I enjoy reading, running, or shopping. I love fashion and try hard (as lots of moms can relate to, I'm sure) to balance both!

Doin’ the Saturday Stuff

We had such a jam packed day! Bill was out of town so me and the kids just hung out and played and did fun things all day. Now, I would be lying if I didn’t say there were a couple times that I thought I was going to lose my mind. I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I looked forward to the kids’ bedtime. And, I would also be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m having a glass or two of wine right now. But, regardless, we had lots of fun!

This morning before Bill left he made breakfast for all of us, then we lounged around and played until Will’s baseball practice. My dad popped in right before we left the house and came with us – that made it even more fun!

After baseball we came back, freshened up, and went to Frederick with my family to walk around and eat lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant – La Paz. Of course, it took a while to get to the restaurant. The kids finally fell asleep (after crying, stopping once to take off Erin’s coat, and another time to buy her a binky), so we made a pit-stop on the way so they could get their sleep on and so I could buy Will a LEGO set, like I’ve been promising.

Lunch was so delicious I forgot to take any pictures. Afterwards, we got some ice cream. Now I did get a picture of ice cream because Will was so sweet and decided to share with Erin. I was so tickled by them.

All in all we had a really great Saturday. The evening was pretty low-key; Will and I built part of his LEGO set and the kids went to bed really well for me. (But not before Erin pooped in the tub).

Grass Stains, Careless Days, and Lazy Posts

I made a deal with myself last night that I would do nothing on Sunday besides exercise and play with my kids. So, that’s what I did! Part of the afternoon was spent at the community college outside on this beautiful, warm, sunny day in an open field! We threw baseballs, ran in circles, and most importantly (and most fun) rolled down hills. I haven’t done it in years…and it was a blast! Will loved it, and I got to enjoy listening to him belly laugh hysterically. Erin tried it but couldn’t quite get it. She still managed to entertain herself in other ways – like tripping down the hill and following Will around. :) (Bill rolled down the hill, too, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of that!)

Do-Able Health Tips

Before I start writing, I just want to say that this isn’t meant to be a “pat on the back, look at me, I’m great” kind of post. I simply want it to be a source of motivation for my readers and a place to get some good tips for healthy living!

Last March when I went to see my doctor, he said, “Julie, when you come back next year I want you to have lost 30 lbs.” I pretty much laughed and made a joke about buying a new wardrobe. My exact thoughts were “Yeah, right, that will never happen. I’ve never lost any weight all the other times I’ve tried.” I had even begun to make excuses for myself, thinking that it was okay for me to be overweight because I have kids. About 2 months went by and what my doctor said had stuck in the back of my mind.

My husband came home from work one day and told me about this running program that a coworker recommended to him. It is designed for people who never run, called Couch (Potato) to 5k (C25K). The app for your phone guides you step by step in order to be able to run for 30 minutes, or 5k. I’m not sure why I quickly decided to try it, but I did. I stuck with it, loved it, and in turn starting loving running! I had never run in my life before and always claimed that I hated it. What helped me keep going was that I had a goal of running a 5k, no matter how slow, and I wasn’t going to “quit” until I reached that goal. Luckily, I didn’t even afterwards ;) Now I work out about 3-4 times a week, and run at least 3 miles when I do. I also lost the 30 lbs my doctor told me to!

On top of this, I follow these basic guidelines for food on the weekdays:

  • Oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar or strawberries/blueberries
  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Spinach with balsamic vinegar
  • Carrots
  • Yogurt
  • Almonds
  • Lots of water (or seltzer water)
  • Healthy dinner – but since this is my main meal of the day, I need a bit of good fat, calories, and protein
  • No alcohol during the week

Now for those who don’t know me…I love food. Actually, I don’t just love it. I’m obsessed with it. I crave it, and usually give into my cravings. So all of my food “guidelines” are within reason. I’m a huge believer that if you want to lose weight, you have to make a lifestyle change. So for me, cutting out beer, burgers, cake, etc. was just not reasonable. So occasionally during the week I do give in, especially if the demands of family life give in to quick – sometimes unhealthy – meals, but I really try to wait until the weekend.

Another useful tip I can leave you with is this: If you don’t want to be tempted to snack or eat late at night, don’t buy unhealthy food for your house!!! If it’s not there, you won’t eat it. And if you are tempted to go out and buy it, you’ll probably decide it’s not worth it in the end.

And one more tip for a sweet tooth: Make a smoothie! I just mix ice, frozen mixed berries, and soy milk. It’s delicious, filling, and healthy! Or, find a frozen yogurt place nearby. It’s much better for you than ice cream and tastes delicious!

Alter things so they work for you! Be creative, stick with it, and find someone to make the changes with so you can have a support team and be held accountable. Or, I’ll be your support team :)

 

The Key To Good Parenting

I figured out the key to good parenting. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long. I need to parent when the times are hardest. Meaning, instead of putting my children off because I’m feeling angry, stressed, irritable, or impatient – I need to grow up and be the parent.

I thought of this tonight when I came home from work/running errands and was completely and utterly exhausted. Is there a better word to portray tiredness besides exhausted? If there is, that was me tonight. And usually when I am feeling like that, I tend to do my own thing and let Will play on his own so that I’m less likely to be irritated with him wanting to just talk and be a kid (parents, you know exactly what I mean)! Tonight I challenged myself to do something different – I decided to put ALL of my “issues” aside, and focus solely on him. It took quite a bit of self-discipline, but I pushed through it. After the kids went to bed, I felt so much better knowing I had given my all and had no regrets. It was such a relief to me! Besides, is it really fair for me to burden my kids with my emotions?

So this is my goal from now on – to put myself aside in order to be the parent I want to be when it gets the hardest.

Make a List

I have been feeling so full of joy these past few weeks. I really love my life. (And this is probably not the last post you will see on this subject ;) ). I really love all the people in our lives and all the people who help and support us. I love living close to my family and my in-laws and how close everyone is to our kids. I love the mundane routine of our mornings and evenings even though sometimes they are so stressful and, I’ll admit, sometimes they make me cranky. I even love the tough times that Bill and I go through because almost always they bring us closer together rather than pulling us apart. I struggle with wanting the house to be immaculate, but I secretly love seeing the playroom (and other rooms) messy knowing that the kids had fun tearing them apart.

Oh, and Buddy (our dog) just coughed up a hairball. Yep, I love that too.

Take a moment today (or, tonight?) and make a “thankful list.” And when you’re feeling down, look at it! It sounds so simple, but I think it works.

Buzz-Cut, Carrot Cake, Food, Festivities Kind of Weekend

What a great weekend. But before I start in on our fun weekend and birthday festivities for Bill, I just have to post this picture of Erin from the other night. She had just finished eating pizza and we gave her a popsicle to hold for the first time by herself. Results below:

Last night we went out to Fells Point with friends to celebrate Bill’s birthday (it’s on Feb 28). This morning I got up with the kids, took them to church, then out for a bagel. Next to the bagel place was our usual barber shop. So Will said to me, “Mommy, I think I need a haircut. I need a buzzcut.” So after we got our bagels and came home, Bill buzzed Will’s hair. It looks adorable!! I love it, and he does, too!

Mid-buzz

Handsome!

When the kids went down for a nap (well, only 1 of them slept. Guess which one didn’t?! That’s right, WILL!) I made icing for the carrot cake I made for Bill yesterday (recipe from America’s Test Kitchen). Carrot cake is Bill’s favorite cake and actually one of the only cakes he will ever eat! He’s a lucky man – carrot cake from scratch! But I’m not going to pretend I’m a baker or that I have it all together. It was a total mess as I was making it yesterday. The kids were crazy and cranky and the kitchen was a disaster and I made the supposed to be 2-layer cake unevenly, which resulted in a 3-layer cake :) . Anyways, that’s a whole other story and I will still post my cake photos PROUDLY!

After this, I NAPPED! When the kids woke up, we got together with my family and our in-laws for an early birthday dinner for Bill at Sakura (a hibachi restaurant). It was especially fun because my dad and my younger sister had just returned from a week long mission trip with our church in Costa Rica. My sister in-law went to Costa Rica, too, and was home until Monday morning before heading back to college in NH. It was fun as always.

After dinner, we had carrot cake and gave Bill his presents.

Messy but yummy!

Of course, Will and Erin lucked out from Mom-Mom ;-) Erin got 2 adorable outfits and BOY OH BOY did she LOVE them! I have never seen her react that way to clothes or any present before. She ran around the house holding the 2 hangers babbling, yelling, laughing, and dancing. I wish I could’ve captured it. I tried to get a picture but she wouldn’t stand still for me.

I realized tonight I didn’t even have a picture of the birthday boy! But since his actual birthday is on the 28th I have some time to come up with something.

All in all, it was a fun-full-filled weekend and now I am exhausted. Good-night to everyone and I hope you all had as great of a weekend as I did!

Chill Pill

It’s a Friday night and oddly enough I got the energy and motivation to go to the gym, which never (I mean never) happens on a weekend, especially a Friday! So I get the kids to bed and head to the gym only to be dissapointed. It was closed early for maintenance! I couldn’t believe my luck. So, driving home I did some thinking.

I’ll back up a tad. I’ve been looking for a computer. Be it Netbook, Laptop, or MacBook. Tonight I found a great deal on ebay and bid on it, but was outbid moments later. I was pretty dissapointed and felt like I’d *never* find the right computer (that’s right, I said never. I was being that dramatic). Bill said, “well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” So I thought, maybe he’s right. Maybe I just need to hang tight and simmer down. About 5 minutes later, I got an email saying that the person who outbid me couldn’t purchase the item, and I was offered it again. I guess it was meant to be!

So when I realized the gym was closed, I tried to tell myself that “working out just wasn’t meant to be for tonight.” Instead, I decided to grab a bottle of wine on my way home, write a post, and dress up in bright reds for a photo shoot. Not to mention spend some quality time with Bill.

Moral of today: Slow down, take a chill pill, and stop worrying about the things I can’t control. They will work themselves out!

Thanks to Bill for his amazing photography skills!

Fashion Fun

I’m so excited about today’s post! The idea started when I bought a new pair of pants – and they are green!! I love them and wanted to take a picture to show ‘em off. My amazing husband, Bill, is the one in charge of these AWESOME shots. Along with my green pants, I also decided to include pictures of some of my favorite pieces of jewelery.

In addition to the stupendous green pants and jewelry, the idea snowballed and got even better when Will came downstairs this morning fully dressed and I thought it would be so fun to add him in, too. The thing about Will is, Bill and I both believe that it’s awesome for Will to dress as he wants in whatever he wants (of course, not shorts in winter), but you know what I mean. It’s a way for him to express himself and it’s a battle I don’t think is important enough to fight with him. Granted, I always make sure to tell him if I don’t think something matches, and when he comes home saying his friend didn’t like something he was wearing, I always offer to help him pick something out. But even after these things, he has never stopped picking out his own clothes, and I LOVE that about him!! In his pictures, notice his folded up pants to expose some of the orange lining – also one of my favorite things he does :)

Shirt and pants from New York & Company

Swarovski Crystal Earrings

Personalized necklace from The Vintage Pearl

Michael Kors Ring

Michael Kors Watch

Thanks again, Bill, for the pictures!

Weekend Randomness

Phew! What a weekend and it’s only Saturdy night – 2 more days off to go! Today’s post is about silly randomness!

First off, on Thursday I brought Will’s sheets and blanket home from day care to wash and on Friday when I went to pick them up again, there was a plastic bag with my *clean* underwear in it. Lovely! I guess it somehow got mixed up when Bill washed his sheets the night before.

Today, Bill and I started the afternoon off right to an awesome run in the woods near our house. What a great workout and what a beautiful day!

Also today, Erin took notice of the camera on my iPhone. She really enjoyed making faces at herself. I had to snap a few shots!

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Will and I were also able to entertain Erin by tying a shoelace to her binky and walking her around with it. You wouldn’t believe how entertaining that is to a child!

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Last but certainly not least, Bill cut up my New York & Company credit card tonight after my latest shopping spree. Although I might add it was completely necessary because I needed new pants/shirts desperately. I am not, however, justifying the use of a store credit card. I should have never gotten it in the first place :( This is why I don’t own a credit card – it just gets me into trouble. BUT NOT ANYMORE!!

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Also, until I figure out something different or stop being lazy and start using the desktop computer, this is my setup. Not sure what to make of it.

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I’d say so far we’ve had a pretty good weekend! How about you?!

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Valentine’s Day Food & Fun

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I was so excited about making valentine’s day fun for the kids this year. When they woke up this morning they came downstairs to some chocolate and balloons (YES, chocolate for breakfast)! Will had a nice party at school with snacks, v-day cards, and a craft. I made the kids homemade mac & cheese for dinner – one of my favorites (I’ll write the recipe below), and after dinner we decorated heart cookies with icing and sprinkles.

It turned out ANYTHING but relaxing. So silly and not how I had planned at all – it was so laughable. For starters, Will and Bill weren’t hungry for dinner, and Erin didn’t like it (I, for one, DID enjoy it). Then the cookies were a total mess! And to top it off they made Erin cry. I am still perplexed by this little incident; what child or adult cries at cookies?! There were icing and sprinkles on almost every surface of the table and counter, as well as on my work clothes, Will’s face, and Erin’s shirt.

It was so fun and funny! I will always remember this valentine’s day.

Enjoy some pictures from our day, and check out the mac & cheese recipe below from America’s Test Kitchen.

Good Morning!

Decorating cookies...or...eating the icing :p

...still perplexed...

Creamy Stovetop Mac ‘N’ Cheese

8 ounces macaroni (2 cups)
Salt
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 tsp dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/4 tsp Tabasco
Pepper
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)

(If you want some crunchy crumbs for the top, use cracker crumbs. Ritz crackers work well. You can substitue Monterey Jack or Colby cheese for the cheddar in this recipe.)

1. Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a large pot for the macaroni. Stir in 1 1/2 tsp salt and the macaroni and cook until almost tender but still a little firm to the bite.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, half of the evaporated milk, the mustard mixture, Tabasco, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper.

3. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Set the pot over low heat and stir in the butter until melted.

4. Stir in the egg mixture and half of the cheddar. Continue to cook over low heat, gradually stirring in the remaining milk and cheddar, until the mixture is hot and creamy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.