Halloween Fun!

Melissa here! Christmas is my JAM. However, I do love to dress my girls up for Halloween. They enjoy trick-or-treating immensely and I just love seeing their faces light up! Madison went on a field trip to an Apple Orchard a couple of weeks ago and she was able to bring home her own pumpkin! I also snapped a few pictures of them in their pre-halloween attire.

Then come Halloween day, Madison was in a costume walk at school! She walked around the entire school with all of her classmates in costumes! Savanna only had ‘pajama day’ but she was still excited about it.

(husband’s cell phone picture)

Then after school, I surprised them with mummy cake pops and Frappula Frappuccinos from Starbucks! And then, of course, tons of pictures outside.


Happy Halloween everyone!


The Shit My Kids Say

“Mommy! I LOVE Dicks!”
(the store, and that’s my point)

14715440_10206173705695443_7451234204905112972_o.jpgMelissa Strickland Photography

My name is Melissa Strickland and I have no filter. My kids’ names are Madison and Savanna, and being that they belong to me, they also do not have a filter. They have been known to say off the wall things to people and are constantly making someone laugh. I look forward to my Timehops everyday to see if I posted anything funny that they said that I couldn’t remember. I plan to write them all down in a journal and give it to them when they leave the nest (which is never sooooo I suppose I’ll be keeping it).

Madison is so invested in learning. She is quick to pick up new lessons at school, she loves to read, and she loves telling me what time it is. I ended up buying her a Finding Dory watch a couple of months ago and she has to have it on pretty much all of the time. Last week, Michael (my husband) and I took the kids to dinner before he left for ten days to the field. Michael and I were in the front seat talking and Madison was just playing with the light up switch on her watch. All of a sudden we hear,

“Y’all, it’s 4:20.”

Michael and I looked at each other as if we were hit by a train.

“Y’all, it’s 4:21 now.”


Michael and I were trying so hard not to laugh. Madison’s pure heart had no idea that what she said was entirely inappropriate for a six year old. Because, well, to her it is just another hour and minute. We didn’t make it a big deal because we didn’t want her to see that specific time had caused a reaction out of us. But holy moly, what a scare!

Savanna Grace, my silly child, has always had a hard time pronouncing the ‘L’ sound. So imagine my excitement when she learned the word “clock”. (I’m rolling my eyes right now) Guys. The struggle was and IS still real with this. We were in Hobby Lobby last spring and if you’ve ever been to Hobby Lobby, you know that they have an isle dedicated to clocks. I should have realized, I should have KNOWN not to go down that aisle with Savanna. But I did.

“WOAHHHH, that’s a HUGE COCK! Do you see that cock?! That’s a small cock and that’s a big cock!”

I can’t even make this stuff up. My face was bright red and the few adults around me were practically in tears and I just wanted to die. I obviously told them that she can’t pronounce the ‘L’ sound yet and they were totally understanding.

Another time recently, we were at dinner and Michael was talking about going to see a movie after. Madison told us that she wanted to go see a movie also and so we told her that it was only for adults and that kids her age weren’t allowed in. Then she blurts out to the whole restaurant, “AWWWW, but I LOVE adult movies!” Oh, the stares. No, we do not let our children watch “adult movies.”

I’ll leave this here:

So there’s that.

The truth is, my kids are hilarious. The things that come out of their mouths now makes for a good story when they are older. They are still learning what they can and cannot say and everyone starts somewhere, right? They have learned that it is not okay to tell Mommy’s best friend that her arms are squishy. They have learned that they cannot sneak pictures of Mommy’s butt while I’m changing before a Target run and then show the customer service my behind via my phone. Yes, that’s a true story.

And you know what? Sometimes, it’s amazing that my six year old is willing to tell people why it’s important to recycle and not litter. We cannot “hurt the planet” and help save it instead. She is so passionate about that and it’s so cute to hear those words coming out of her mouth. She’ll also name off everything that God is doing during different weather scenarios. When it’s raining, according to Madison, God is crying because little girls are mean to their mommies OR he is taking a shower. When it’s windy, God is hula-hooping. When it’s foggy outside, God forgot to turn the fan on during his shower. It never gets old.

That, y’all, is why I love the shit my kids say.

Product Review: Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo

Written by Ashley Calton

I swear, this long, drawn-out backstory will get to a point. And a product review. Bare with me.

When we lived in Richmond, we lived in suburbia. It was a big house in a quiet neighborhood (did you just sing the line from 3 Doors Down? No, just me? Ok *shrugs*) and if I could have picked the house up and moved it 45 minutes closer to the city, I would have loved it. Living in the suburbs for me was like being surrounded by thousands of people who are all the same. They raise their kids the same way. They eat at the same chain restaurants. They vote for the same candidate. They all go to the same church and to Panera after soccer on Saturdays (thanks for taking all the tables, guys!). And this isn’t a bad thing. For a lot of people, this is the ideal way of life- live around the people most like you so you always have a friend. You always have support and you always have a potluck to go to.


There were parts of living in the suburbs that we liked. We lived close to some incredible friends that we miss terribly. But for the most part, living in the suburbs taught us that we HATE the suburbs. It’s just not for us. We need diversity and small hole in the wall restaurants and breweries and local cuisine and museums and streets that are quiet because they’re all residential, but you still hear traffic or something in the background.

Fast forward to our move to Roanoke and we knew we didn’t want to live far from downtown. Now, that’s not too terribly challenging considering how much smaller Roanoke is than Richmond, but we wanted to live somewhere with history and character. We also wanted to learn our lesson and find the best area of the city for what we wanted. So we decided to rent for a while and get the lay of the land. We were in a rush to find somewhere to live- we had just sold our house in Richmond, just had a baby, my husband was studying for the VA Bar Exam and we had to move- it was a lot. We ended up finding a huge apartment on the third floor of a 100 year old building.

Positive of living in a building that’s 100 years old? That history and character we were looking for. Downside to living in a building that’s 100 years old? Awful, awful pipes. Now, that’s not the age of the house, that’s poor upkeep. Our landlord is not exactly Johnny on the Spot about upgrading the building. With these pipes comes awful, iron-filled, gross water that serves it’s purpose but wasn’t exactly what we wanted to consume on a daily basis. We tested it to make sure it wasn’t going to kill us and it’s not (win!), but it’s not going to get any better either.

One of the downsides to iron-heavy water is it was wreaking havoc on my hair. Every time I washed my hair it just felt so greasy and it was starting to fall out by the clumps in the shower. When I realized it was the water’s fault and not the fact that I have to skip many a day of hair washing because of le bebe, I was excited because I knew a solution: a clarifying shampoo. There are so many on the market but since I found a homemade concoction using apple cider vinegar, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the one that contained “apple cider” in the name. Fool proof logic. Really what happened is I did a trusty Amazon search of clarifying shampoos and this was one with good reviews (4.5 stars with 199 reviews) and didn’t cost a fortune. And it does actually have apple cider vinegar as an ingredient, so I wasn’t completely off base.


Clarifying shampoo is meant to be used about once a week to strip your hair of any residual yuckiness left behind by your hair products. Over time, even with the best water, shampoo, conditioner (No, conditioner is better, it makes the hair silky and smooooth), sprays, etc. build up in your and clarifying shampoo is kind of like a hair detox. Like a spa day for your head. Because I’m in a unique situation and because my hair is hella thick, I have been using the Fekkai Apple Cider Shampoo for every wash and let me tell you- it. is. Amazeballs. It does it’s job perfectly, has a great amount of lather, and smells great too- like green apple. My hair doesn’t feel grimy anymore, even though I only wash it every other day, and it’s only coming out in the appropriate amount in the shower.

The downside to this shampoo is that it has a crap ton of not great chemicals, including parabens, so I don’t plan on ordering another bottle after this one is gone. I’ll do some more research in the meantime for at least a paraben free brand. But at $13.43 and available for Amazon Prime, you can’t beat it. I read a bunch of articles about great clarifying shampoos and they were all crazy expensive. I know great products come at great prices, but I just can’t. I can have the best of both worlds, can’t I? Great products that are reasonably priced that won’t give me cancer? It’s out there somewhere, I just know it.


Things I (Naively) Said My Child Would Never Do

Written by: Melissa Strickland

When I was pregnant, I was so certain that my child would never grow up to be a spoiled, unhealthy, tablet-in-her-face kind of kid. I got all of the stares like I was insane for thinking that my kid would never see a drive-thru. And I swore that I wouldn’t raise a child that would want to sit in front of the TV as long as I would let her.

“Oh bless your heart, you just wait.”

After failing miserably with setting strict rules for my first child when it came to eating and technology, of course my second child would have everything in line, right? Who was I kidding? I want so badly to say that my oldest was my “test child”, and in a lot of ways, she was. However, one cute little face pout from my youngest and BAM, “YES, YOU CAN HAVE ALL OF THE CHOCOLATE.”

And then I was doomed.

So without further ado, here are a few things I said my child would never do that, well, they boy friggin’ do.

Tablets. Television. Phones.
I never in a million years thought that at three my child would be able to unlock my phone, at four be able to find YouTube on my tablet and whatever she wanted to watch, and by five have a working knowledge of how to use Netflix. I always said that my kids would always choose toys over technology any day. Technology will not raise my kids. But can I tell you a secret? My husband is currently on a run with my 6 year old and guess what? My 4 year old has my phone as I type on my computer, IN ORDER FOR ME TO TYPE. Sometimes, when in a time crunch, I will be the first to say, “Hey! Go watch TV while I do such-and-such.” Because let’s face it, my children won’t play with toys nicely with each other, but also won’t go in their rooms by themselves to play. And they’re not running low on toy choices, either. Kids are complicated like that…
13320630_10205272352722182_8803855851476259984_oFast Food.
Y’all. I’m literally chuckling while writing this. Every. Single. Parent I know, has said “My child will never have McDonalds! They will never even know what fast food is!” Just wait. JUST WAIT. It takes only one time at Grandma and Grandpa’s to be introduced to a Happy Meal. After that, try passing a McDonalds without hearing chanting or praise. And the begging! And over time, you just give in. I don’t even know how it happens. It was so easy when their car seats were rear-facing and they didn’t even know where you were or what you were eating and they were just as content as can be. Then you have a second child. And you’re all like, “I learned from my first one, my second will never have to subdue to the horrible parenting decisions made from my first.” Yeah, righhhhht. Don’t forget, your now toddler can get their younger sibling on a “Let’s scream every time we pass fast food” kick. All I ever dreamed of was having my children on a healthy diet from day one. Now, I better hope they drink all of their V8 fusion juice so they can get a veggie in!
cupcakeMeltdowns in Public
Need I say more? My child will NEVER act like that in public. Yes, yes they will. I don’t know a single child that’s never had a meltdown in public. Hate to say this but, kids can be assholes. Like, realllllllly bad ones. Cute, sweet assholes that I can’t get enough of, but assholes, nonetheless. They absolutely don’t care if your hands are full of things and that you can’t hold them because all the carts were taken. They don’t care if you have to pee while you’re letting them play in the toy aisle. They don’t care if you left your wallet at home on accident so you can’t buy them a cookie. Instead of understanding, they think it’s much easier to throw down in the middle of a store. My favorite? The library. And that brings me back to the first on this list- technology. Sometimes, you just gotta break down and give them your phone to occupy them while you get your shopping done.

I love my kids, dearly. They give me life when they say things like, “Mommy! Get my Halloween costume and candy for the little humans!” or “Mommy! Get out of the car! Someone just threw trash on the ground and that’s not nice to our planet! We have to put it in the trash!” (future blog post? #shitmykidssay? I just got so excited!). The point is, as long as our kids are alive at the end of the day and grow up to be decent humans, I guess that’s all that really matters. They will someday grow up and love broccoli just like I do. And hey, my oldest is 6 1/2 years old and neither her or her sister has had soda! So there is one thing I’ve stuck to! #momwin! Now let me go prevent a meltdown by giving my 4 year old my phone while I wait in line at McDonald’s.

4 Pieces of Parenting Advice I Ignored

Written by: Ashley Calton

You receive so much advice when you’re pregnant. Eat this, don’t eat that. Lay this way, not that way. Some of it is helpful. Some of it is scary. Some of it is batshit crazy. If there is one thing I’ve learned through parenting for the short amount of time my kid has been alive, it’s that most of parenthood is trial and error and you just need to trust your instincts. Here is some parenting advice I have ignored, and I am happy I did!


“Don’t hold your baby too much. You’ll spoil him!”

If I had a dollar for every friend or family member who has told me not to hold Wyatt too much, I could buy myself a venti iced vanilla latte and chocolate pastry from Starbucks like… twice! Whenever he would get fussy or only calm down when I was holding him, I was reminded that if I just let him cry and didn’t pick him up the second he started fussing, he wouldn’t need me so much. But here’s the thing, I like holding my baby. Do I run to him the second he starts crying? No. I let him fuss for a few minutes to make sure he actually does need me to come get him. Do I run to his side if I hear him cry and I’m in the middle of washing a dish? No. I finish what I’m doing and then go get him. Do I snuggle him extra hard when he lays his head on my shoulder and soak in every possible second of his hugs? You betcha. He may be spoiled, but guess what? He’s a baby! Babies are supposed to be spoiled. Babies are supposed to know at every moment that their mommas are going to give them all the love they need to fill their little love buckets up to the tippy top.img_5297

“Don’t sleep with your baby”

Listen. I get it. I understand that co-sleeping is dangerous. I have read the studies for and against it. I always said I would never sleep with my baby because I was worried about the risks and I didn’t want to always have a kid in my bed. But when it is 4:00 in the morning and you’ve been up 4 times throughout the night to feed a baby and gotten about 4 hours of sleep and he just woke up after being asleep for an hour and there’s no possible way that kid is hungry, you put him on your chest and you both fall back asleep and you get another couple of hours. You do what you have to do to make it through. I could have gotten up and rocked him back to sleep, but when you’re sleep deprived with a newborn you just can’t think straight. You put that baby on your chest and soak in another couple of hours of sleep.

“Put some rice cereal in the bottle!”

Momtastic has a great article about the recent discoveries of arsenic in rice and how the FDA is recommending to not give rice as a primary food for infants- that there are other alternatives. I may be a bit of a hippy, but arsenic doesn’t sound too appetizing. Nevermind the choking risks associated with rice in bottles. It’s very old school and I’ve heard it probably 20 times from different people. It dates back to the old school of thought that babies need additional iron when they turn 6 months old, that breast milk has iron but not enough for what a baby needs. Mother Rising Earth, a holistic pregnancy blog, did the research about rice cereal and it turns out, breast milk has bio-available iron, which is easy for babies to digest, unlike rice cereal’s iron, which is synthetic. Instead, I’m opting for whole foods with nutritional value. This same article has some great, yummy alternatives for baby’s first foods.

“If you want your baby to be a good sleeper, don’t rock them to sleep”

This one is a bit tricker. I chose to ignore this, than chose to take the advice. For the first few months we didn’t have a nursery set up. When Wyatt was born we were in the middle of a move and we knew he would be in our room for the first few months anyway, so we weren’t in a rush. When we set up his nursery and bought a glider, I was obsessed. Rocking him to sleep was one of my favorite things to do. It made me feel so close to him and I really enjoyed the snuggles. He seemed to love it too. Once he was asleep, I would place him in his crib and tiptoe out of his room. Now that he’s getting a bit older, I have adjusted this slightly. He was falling into a bad habit of 30-45 minute naps and I was getting nothing done. Something had to change and I didn’t want to have to resort to childcare in order to get work done (not that there is anything wrong with daycare or nannies- I just don’t want to pay for it before I have to). Now, I rock him until he is almost asleep or just asleep and then put him in his crib and walk out. He has to fall into a deep sleep on his own and in just a few days time, he is taking longer naps! Apparently, a baby’s sleep cycle is in roughly 45 minute increments so when his REM cycle was up, he couldn’t get himself back to sleep on his own. Bringing Up Bebe, the only parenting book I read that I am just in love with, has a chapter on infant sleep and it explains it so much better than I ever could. Those French parents- they do many things well, including parenting and pastries 🙂


I’m sure as Wyatt grows, I’m going to get plenty more advice that I will smile, say “oh, thanks for the advice!” and file it away under “Not Gonna Happen”. Just as I’m sure there will be plenty of advice, as there has been already, that I’m going to embrace. Just take all advice with a grain of salt. Every child is different. Every family is different. Do what works for you and your life. In the words of Kevin Hart, “Do you, Booboo”.

img_5492Melissa Strickland Photography