{sprucing up your backyard}

One of our most favorite things to do around here is to be outdoors!
 Since we've moved into our home three years ago, it has been a goal of ours to fix up our backyard into our very own tropical oasis! You might remember from previous posts that my hubby and I love to "gift" each other {whether it be for birthday's, Mother's day, Father's Day, etc} with trees, plants, flowers, etc. It might seem boring to some, but oh so fun for us! I was recently contacted by SYNLawn to feature a guest post on Down with the Dearmores on "Ways to Spruce up Your Backyard"! I thought it was a perfect time to feature this post as that's exactly where hubby and I find ourselves today....plus I was excited for a few times myself!
This post was written by SYNLawn.  

With the warmer spring climate thankfully scaring away the chilly wintry blues we've encountered across the nation over the past few months, many families are eager for the summer weather to finally arrive. Since it's an ideal time to hang out with friends and family, or perhaps lounge by the swimming pool sipping a chilled beer while watching the game, or even hosting an elegant outside dinner party one evening, your backyard is soon going to be a hot spot for summer meet-ups. You can probably hear - and smell - the slow sizzle of barbecued meat and taste the deliciously fruit-filled summer cocktails already!

 If you and your family have been busy planning some heady times ahead, you might like to hear a handful of imaginative new ways to spruce up your backyard, which will help amplify the fun and frolics. Here are five neat ideas you might like to incorporate into your summer backyard preparations:

 New patio furniture - In many cases, you'd be surprised how dull and dreary a patio will appear if the furniture looks old and worn-out. If you are in the market for a brand new patio table and chair combo, make sure you choose something both stylish and timeless so it won't look outdated in a few years’ time. Also bear in mind the weather conditions that your furniture will have to cope with, as well as how dirty and streaked glass tabletops may eventually become. Whenever possible, go for a table and chair set manufactured from durable cast aluminum. Colorful throw pillows and plush cushions can also help brighten the area and invigorate the ambiance.

 Unique whiskey barrel side tables - If you want to spend a considerable amount of time holding numerous delicious BBQ cookouts, you'll know how everyone loves the popular beer-n-barbecue duo! One way to give your food preparation and mealtime areas a cool and creative touch is to get some wood-stained whiskey barrels and repurpose them as side tables for use at your alfresco event. Not only are they sturdy enough to handle different weather conditions, but they also bear up remarkably well against beer and wine stains. Stacking up a few wooden pallets is also a great alternative if you cannot find any whiskey barrels for sale.

 Homemade spray-paint Twister - This one is principally for the youngsters, or the kids in us all! If you own a backyard with a large expanse of grass, create your own oversized DIY version of Twister using a few cans of spray-paint. Simply cut out a large circle shape on a piece of cardboard using a large mixing bowl and then trace around the outline with spray-paint. Making sure they are spaced equally apart, fill each circle on your "grassy mat" with the four different colors that make up each row: blue, yellow, green and red. Then create your own spinner and play away to your heart's content.

 Your very own personal putting green - If your golf game needs a little improvement but you're a little nervous or self-conscious about trying to develop in front of a bunch of smirking onlookers, you may want to consider purchasing a private putting green. Many dedicated golfers choose a backyard artificial grass installation so they can practice their putting skills in the privacy of their own home. Since you'll be able to advance in secret, just imagine the looks of surprise on the faces of your golfing chums who you play against on a regular basis! They won't know what hit them when they see how well your putting skills have progressed on the sly.

 Light and heat - If you only have a petite backyard patio that becomes cold fairly quickly when the sun disappears at the end of the day, candles are a simple mainstay that offers warmth and a soothing glow if the moon fails to illuminate the area. However, if you want something a little different, a small fire pit can be installed to provide heat, and you can also make a lighting yourself using some colored string lights. Suspend them from nearby trees or swathe around fence posts. Another idea is to fill half a dozen super-sized mason jars with bundles of string lights. For added sparkle, paint each Mason jar with translucent glass paint.

 SYNLawn New Mexico are proud to provide synthetic lawns and artificial putting golf green products to residents living in Albuquerque, Gallup, Farmington, Los Alamos, Artesia, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe. Please visit SYNLawn online at New Mexico Artificial Grass or call us at 505-890-8889 for a free estimate.

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{five on friday}

Friday is here and I couldn't be more thrilled! I'm looking forward to a long weekend with my loves at the beach and back for my cousin's {through marriage} baby's baptism on Sunday and a lot of relaxing and hanging out with family and friends on Monday! It's so hard for me to believe Memorial Day is here! This year is flying by!!! I'm excited to link up again with my sweet friend, Darci {and gals} for another week of FOF!
Let's get started...... 
Last weekend, we celebrated my sis at her bachelorette party!!! We had THE best time! It was a small group, which made it nice and intimate! If you're ever in the Dallas area, we stayed at the Dallas/Rockwall Hilton resort. Soooo nice! Such a fun {and much needed} girls getaway! Here are a few pics.... 
It's no secret by now that I love me some rompers {for both Ella and myself}!!! So, I thought it was time to give a jumpsuit a try! This pretty thing is on it's way to me and I can't wait to see it on {fingers crossed it works}! I've already told my hubby we need to go out on a date night just so I can wear my new get up!!! ;)

As if Ella needs one more swim suit.....I just couldn't help myself! Afterall, she pretty much lives in them all summer, so I guess that's how I justify it!!! ;) You guessed it....Target again for the win! You can find it here {on sale}! 

I need your help! One of my dearest friends has started a foundation for her precious son, Jack, called Jogs for Jack. It is a foundation trying to raise awareness for Autism as well as the importance of early intervention. June 6-7, Jogs for Jack will be hosting an online auction {which I will be participating in}, to help raise funds to help purchase a communication device for Jack. So, I'm asking you to follow @jogsforjack as well as stay tuned for the auction.
Our bags are packed.....we're beach bound today! Love that we're so close!! Looking foward to a long weekend with family and friends!

Wishing you all a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend!!!

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{five on friday}

Happy Friday, y'all!!!! It's that time again! Here we go with this weeks five....
I can't believe the "All About Mommy" series has already come and gone!!! What another super fun year! These gals wrote some amazing pieces of advice, fabulous ideas, yummy recipes, and much, much more!! A very special thank you to the guest bloggers this year - Natasha, Jenny, Colleen, Samantha, Amanda and Sara!!!! Sending you all XOXO! Be sure to check out their posts if you haven't already done so! Until next year.....

In case you missed it, I shared our front porch make over on the blog yesterday!!! It's amazing how such simple changes can make such a dramatic difference!
By now, you know I'm not only a lover of all things monogrammed, I'm a freak....yes, I just admitted it! Monogram freak over here! I finally ordered a monogram baseball cap as I've been wearing them a lot lately! I ordered a more simple monogram than the one pictured {pics of mine to come}, so it's not quite over the top, but still cute and personalized!
Target for the win!!! Absolutely loving this maxi and shorts for Ella this summer! So stinkin' cute!

It's here!!! My sister's bachelorette party is this weekend! Thrilled to get away and have a little girl time!!! Pics to come next week!
Thanks to Darci, Natasha, April and Christina for hosting this super fun link-up week after week! And P.S., congrats to April on the birth of her sweet baby girl this week!!!!
Wishing you all a very happy weekend!!!! XOXO

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{front porch make-over reveal}

Happy day, friends!!! Winter is long gone and Spring is in full force {and feels more like the beginning of Summer here in Texas}, so it was time to give my front porch a little TLC! I have had these same rockers for about 4 years now, and have absolutely loved them. The white was starting to look a little old, so I decided to give them a complete transormation. I added some fresh flowers, new pillows and chair cushions and a new wreath for the front door. It's amazing how just those simple changes to add a completely new look! I love the way it turned out and am excited to share my before and after pics with you!
And the afters....
And there you have it! Our front porch make-over! So much better, right?!?
Thanks for stopping by and letting me show you a little of the DIYing I've been doing lately! Now onto the next project {poor hubby...he only thought I was finished}!!!
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{All About Mommy} Sara from Running from the Law

I can't believe today is the last post of this fun series! What another fantastic series for "All About Mommy"! I cannot thank the fabulous ladies who guest posted enough!!!! You are ALL awesome! I loved each and every post and the uniqueness of each. If you haven't checked them out, you can do so here - Natasha from Hello HappinessJenny from Jenny Collier BlogColleen from Meet the Sullivans, Samantha from Crafty Texas Girls, and  Amanda from Kids and Cabernet!
10 Things I've Learned as a Mom
Hello everyone!  I'm Sara and I blog over at Running From The Law.  I'm a full-time lawyer and mama to an almost two-year old wild child (Mac) and pregnant with a daughter (Mim), due in July.  I'm so honored to be here on Jen's blog for her "All About Mommy" series.  I have been loving all the posts from the fabulous mamas she's featured (and quite frankly am a little intimidated by all their awesomeness - I'm not worthy!).  If you read my blog (which I hope you'll do), you'll know that I constantly feel like I'm winging this whole mommy gig.  I don't have a clue what I'm doing! Most days I still can't believe I'm someone's mom and have managed to keep a child alive (and relatively safe) for nearly two years.  
Anyway, I've been racking my brain for weeks trying to come up with the perfect topic for this series and nothing felt right.  Finally, I was talking with a friend the other day (who is expecting her first child in the fall) about just how much I've learned about babies and kids in the last two years and suddenly...there was my topic.  So, may I present to you "10 Things I've Learned As A Mom." Of course, I've learned more than 10 things in the last two years (surely, right?), but these are just some highlights - some are purely comical and some are a little sappy (forgive me, I'm a pregnant hormonal mess).  If you're a new mom or mom-to-be, I hope these little lessons will help you out in some way.
1. Your child loves you just the way you are.  
This is one of the greatest things about children...they love you no matter what.  I know that 12 years from now my children will probably be horribly embarrassed by every single thing I do, but for now, he doesn't care that I'm having a bad hair day, haven't showered since Tuesday, am carrying around 10+ extra pounds of muffin-top or have been wearing the same yoga pants for a week.  He doesn't see my untoned abs, my forehead wrinkles, my dark roots or my unpolished toenails.  He sees only his favorite person in the world.  To him, I'm the most beautiful mommy he's ever known.  The one that gives magical boo-boo healing kisses and knows where all the chocolate in the house is hidden. It's pretty humbling and wonderful to see yourself through the eyes of your child.  When he looks at me, all he sees is love.  I wish we could all see ourselves in that same light.  (The same goes for a messy house...kids don't care.)
2. You must have a sense of humor.
Is there anything worse than "that mom" who just can't laugh at herself or the situation?  Yes, being a parent is serious stuff - you're shaping entire lives here.  But you have to be able to sit back and laugh at the hilarious things that happen because you're a parent.  Before I had kids I would have been mortified to know I went to work with spit-up down the back of my dress or poop on my sleeve.  Now...I'm still mortified, but it's also pretty funny.  I have a feeling that some of my hardest parenting moments will turn into those stories that we laugh about for years (your kid getting his head stuck in a chair or covering his entire body and crib with a giant tub of diaper cream).  So learn to laugh at the situation when it happens (and have your camera ready!).  
3. Pick your battles.
This is one I'm still learning and dealing with everyday.  My toddler has become a master at getting his way - either by negotiating with me, throwing a tantrum or just batting those big brown eyes at me and saying please (how to do you say no to that face?). As we enter the Terrible Twos, tantrums and meltdowns are becoming more of a daily hourly occurrence at our house as Mac tries to assert his independence and make his own choices.  Sometimes I feel like everything is a fight, from what he wears to what he eats.  All the choices seem to be made for him, so I understand his desire to make his own decisions.  But I constantly have to decide whether or not it's worth it to have the fight at that time.  If it's something I feel strongly about (no hitting the dogs) or affects his safety (no playing with knives), then it's worth it to me to lay down the law. However, sometimes I just have to let things go and pick my battles wisely.  It's not the end of the world if he doesn't wear socks with his shoes.  He's not going to grow a second head if he sits in a wet diaper for an extra 20 minutes until he's done worm digging.  If he has a sucker before dinner, he won't fall into a sugar induced coma.  I know, I know, consistency is key.  But on the other hand, sometimes I feel like he listens to me better on the important things when I let him "win" the little battles occasionally.    
4. You know what's best. 
As your child's mom, you know him better than anyone and you get to decide what's right for him and your family.  Didn't you know that moms have superpowers?  You might not always feel like you know what to do, but whatever choice you make will be right because you only want to do what's best for him.  Trust your instincts, mama. 
5. You don't have to enjoy every single moment.
I'm sure you've heard it all: They grow up so fast.  They'll never be as little as they are right now. The years fly by.  It's going to be gone before you know it.  Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!  Oh, the pressure!  We're so hard on ourselves these days to fully enjoy every single waking moment of our children's lives.  And while I do believe you should try to appreciate each moment you have with the precious life you brought forth, you sure don't have to enjoy every second of it. Sometimes there are moments that downright suck and that's ok.  Don't feel bad if you're in one of those sucky moments and you catch yourself wishing you were somewhere (anywhere) else.  Just close your eyes and think of a happy place (like Target without children).  It too shall pass.
6.  Hugs have healing powers.
Hugs from your kid will cure anything and make any situation immediately better.  Pair a big hug with an open-mouth slobbery kiss and it's almost as good as winning the lottery.  Children's laughter is a close second. 
7. Be nice to your husband.
My husband might be legally obligated to put up with my shit, but that doesn't mean I have the right to treat him like a second-class citizen because the kids are more important.  My husband is my partner in this whole parenting experiment and his help, cooperation, suggestions, creativity and love are key factors in how my day goes.  As hard as it is sometimes for me to admit I need any help, I need his help and support.  And he's much more likely to be helpful and supportive if I'm not being a total bitch to him.  Plus, one day my kids are going to be grown up and move out (boo hoo!), but hopefully this husband of mine will still be around to take out the trash and remind me to unplug my curling iron.
8. Don't ever underestimate your children.
Your kid will be smarter, quicker, sneakier, faster, trickier and craftier than you ever thought it was possible for a child to be.  Yes, you'll be proud, but you'll also be in TROUBLE if you think for a minute you're one step ahead of them.  You put the toy where he can't reach it...he'll find a way to move the couch so that he can climb up and jump across three other pieces of furniture, then scale the curtains to get it, along with your chapstick (which he just ate) and your wallet (the contents of which are now strewn about the room).  Do not turn your back...ever.  They will win, I guarantee it.  
9. You will turn into your mother.
You will find yourself doing and saying things that your mother did and said when you were a kid that you SWORE you'd never in a million-billion years do or say to your kid.  Yep, it happens.   You'll also start to hear your mother in your tone of voice (especially when shouting things like, "Don't you make me pull this car over!") and see glimpses of her when you look at yourself in the mirror.  It's creepy. You've been warned.
10. Love has no limits.  
I've heard so many moms say that they worry about whether they'll love their second child as much as they love the first one.  I am here to say that there is absolutely no reason in the world to ever question how much you can love.  I haven't even met my daughter yet, but you better believe my heart grew ten times over the moment I saw those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Loving a second (or fifth) child doesn't diminish the love you have for the first, it just multiplies.  You may not love your children in exactly the same way or for the same reasons (they are completely different people after all), but a mother's love truly knows no bounds.  
Thank you so much for reading this whole long list of lessons.  I hope you can take away something (even if it's just a laugh) from what I've learned.  Jen, thank you so much for letting me be a part of this series.  
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Where oh where to begin.....Sara, you are simply amazing!!! I don't know how you or anyone could have said it better! This is one of those posts that ALL new moms need to read! I started following Sara's blog, Running from the Law, about a year and a half ago and have loved every second of it! I love her sense of humor, honesty, amazing pics {P.S. check out her photography tips}, yummy recipes and fun giveaways! It was such an honor to have her take over Down with the Dearmore's for the day!   
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