Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday - Brought to you by the Letter 'S'

Let's get right to it!

Little Miss K is finally taking steps!  I don't consider this walking, since she's only taking one to two hesitant steps at a time before choosing to sit down or desperately over reaching to grab my arm or shirt.   Either way, she's finally practicing lifting her feet off the ground and her balance improving every day.  I'll be running after her soon enough!

Ashlynn is really loving it.  She's now gone a whopping six days over the last three weeks and she never seems to not want to go.  She gets pouty when I walk her into her classroom, but she willingly walks away from me to her teach, just with her a big lower lip pout and "mommy!" quiver.  No clinging to my legs, crying on the way there, or fighting it.  I just don't think she likes that I leave.  Her teacher says she stops almost immediately and that this past week has really started to get more social with the other children.  She loves jumping during the morning song, duh, and she usually tells me about the red slide and "art" when I pick her up.  She loves helping me pick out what to pack in her lunch and she usually eats it all too.

When we started she would cry when I came to pick her up.  She used to do the same thing at the gym. It's almost like a cry of relief, running immediately to me "mommy!" except  I'll be asking her if she had fun today and she'll be jumping up and down and saying "Fun!" through her tears. This was the first week she didn't cry at pick up, but she still is always excited to see me.  So much, that she usually grabs whatever crackers are left on her plate by the fistful to make sure we bring them home.  Once, she actually picked up her plate and came running over.  This one.

I'm really happy she's adjusting so well, loves her teacher, and hopefully is making friends.

Sun Butter
A's preschool is peanut free, which obviously a lot of schools are these days since it seems nut allergies are more common than ever.  I wasn't sure if they were just peanut free or tree nut free (meaning no almond or cashew butter allowed either), so I grabbed sun butter (sunflower seed butter) a few weeks back before she started.  I had heard one my friend's say how she was less than a fan, so I wasn't sure what it was going to be like, basically expecting it to be gross.  So I opted to buy the one that sounded the tastiest and had the cutest label, Wild Friends.

Oh my goodness, screw peanut butter.  I think this is so good!  I've pretty much have had half the container smeared all over the apples we picked.   The also have a chocolate and maple flavors, I'm obsessed. 

And sneaking in another sunflower seed product, I think it was Veronika who shared these, but Somersaults from Target.  I basically can eat the whole bag in a sitting.  So good.

Dare I say, we are on our way to sleeping through the night?  Kenley has only been waking up once a night and sometimes she's been pretty close to not needing me to come in.  I only do because I fear she'll wake for the day at 5am and I figure if I'm up hearing her cry, I might as well feed her and let her try to sleep past 6am.   Going to try to really wean down and drop this feeding she's clinging to, we've upped her solids during the day and she's getting 4 good feedings otherwise.  I am going to be a whole new woman.

Sponsor Update
I got some sweet notification last night that the Eric Carle for Gymboree collaboration is now carrying adult sizes!  So all you mama and mini matchers can read yourselves into candy colored dreamland together in style.

Actually, they'd probably be a cute Halloween costume too if you wanted to dress up as your little for a party. Or if you are having family stay together for holidays, have a family sized caterpillar slumber party.  Cheesy, probably.  Fun, definitely.

{Thanks to Gymboree for sponsoring this update and choosing to make adult size children's jammies, hehe}

Stonington Gray
After getting a quote we couldn't stomach, we are breaking out our brushes and rollers and attempting to start the great master makeover this weekend.  It's going to be a labor of love.  The room is pretty huge and needs spackling, sanding, major priming, and of course two coats of paint.  I'm just hoping to get it primed, which is a feat itself without a babysitter.  Wish us luck!
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Giveaway] Tea Box Express

Tea Box Express is the brainchild of Andrea Reese, a New York City based entrepreneur who chooses caffeine as her drug of choice and tea as her favorite source. She owns a shipping store and edits the website Tea Box Express was born when her love of tea got mixed in with her entrepreneurial spirit. The result is an exciting box of quality tea and fun “tea things” that any fan of tea will be thrilled to open. Andrea enjoys running, cupcakes, and three cups of tea per day.

Each month’s box features a new, unique theme to encourage customers to delight in the tea experience along with superior quality tea and fun accessories. Tea Box Express has partnered with some of the best brands to ensure that each box is full of treats that will excite tea lovers and tea novices alike.

Tea Box Express offered me the chance to sample their October box and host a giveaway for my readers, which I loved since I always get excited passing on great products and promotions to readers.  The premier October 2014 box’s theme is “Bee Happy.” Not only does the box contain a delicious tea, gourmet honey, and bee-inspired accessories, but it also promotes positivity by encouraging customers to reflect on the happy parts of their lives.

Price: $25.50 for month-to-month, $74 for 3 months, and $139 for 6 months. Shipping is $5.99/month.
Availability: Currently available only in the US
Each box includes: 1 high quality tea and 3 or 4 accessories per month
Each box ships: on the 15th of each month

I genuinely love all the items that were included in my sneak peek of the October 2014 box. I'm generally a coffee drinker, but I do love a good cup of tea, usually in the afternoons.  The Teatulia black tea that was included is so tasty and smells so good.  And I learned my lesson of how strong it is by enjoying a cup one night at bed, and then being up past midnight - oops.  Funny too, because I usually can fall right to sleep no problem after drinking coffee!

The Savannah Bee Company raw honey is perfectly sweet and the tea pot honey dipper is the cutest complimenting accessory.  I love how "tea" is scripted within the stainless steel tea pot on the handle.  The yellow tea bag holder is cute and I never met a cookie I didn't eat.  The shortbread cookie was the perfect nap tea time snack. 

I am already planning on ordering one of these for Ashlynn's preschool teacher.  It would make the perfect birthday or holiday gift for a teacher, hostess, hair stylist, babysitter, you name it.  I'm actually convinced it's the perfect gift since it's more personal than a gift card and yet, not as personal as selecting something that a recipient might not enjoy or use which is always my fear!

Tea Box Express is offering to giveaway one of their premier October boxes to a lucky reader and they are also offering readers 20% off their first box with code "STRAWBERRY20".  Enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If you give a toddler an apple...

This weekend we finally found a local-ish apple orchard and headed over on Sunday morning before football took over my husband's life.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, morning in the low 60s warming into the 70s by afternoon.  The type of weather where you are comfortable in everything from shorts and tee to long sleeves or light sweaters.

We grabbed a bucket, tied a baby on, and took off into the sea of apple trees.

This was my very first time apple picking.  As silly as this may sound, I was actually surprised how small the trees were, in a good way.  Maybe it was just the Cortland and MacIntosh varieties we were picking, but Ashlynn was able to walk right up and pick (ripe) fruit from the branches... at all 34" of her.  I guess I always thought apple trees as being bigger and figured dear old dad was going to be doing a lot of toddler lifting.

If anything the hike through the tall grasses and unforeseen ditches posed the larger obstacle for the shortcake.

And this is what I get when I ask for smiles now....

Of course, after we grabbed our apples and made our way to the farm stand to check out, we couldn't resist getting some apple cider donuts to go.  I did promise Ashlynn apples and donuts the night before after reading If You Give a Dog a Donut, since I explained we'll be picking apples just like dog when he ran out of juice.   We've been eating apples every day since, but I think she's been enjoying the donuts more.  Typical.

shirt (on sale) | jeans | shoes

I'm now really excited to go pumpkin picking next month.  I'm hoping Kenley is toddling around, although that may be more trouble than it's worth.  Either way, I know the girls will love being pulled around in the wagon, seeing the pigs and goats, and getting to pick their own pumpkins!  
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

[Child's Play] A Busy Box Tutorial

Welcome back friends, today we are following up last week's Busy Box Swap with tutorials on how we made all our busy activities.  Again, criteria included spending as little as possible - preferably <$15 and trying to use items we already had on hand or things easily found at the dollar spot, dollar store, or craft store.   

I decided to use pom poms because I know a lot of kids can be mesmerized by the bright soft fuzzy craft supply, or maybe it's just my own.  The obvious activity was color recognition with matching and sorting, but I wanted to build another skill on top of just grouping piles of yellow, green, and blue. So I added some number flash cards to help with the second skill set of number recognition and counting. 

Pencil Box
Craft Punch, circle (or a quarter to trace!)
Construction Paper
Glue Stick (or glue or glue dots of any kind)
Cardstock or thin cardboard
Scissors or paper cutter

Overall, the project cost me about $5.  I only had to purchase the pom poms (which there were plenty left over to make one for Ashlynn) and the pencil box.  Pencil box was $1 and pom poms $3.79 from Michaels.  Everything else were things I had on hand.

First up, the flash cards.

Simple enough.  I punched a circle with my craft punch, you could easily trace a quarter, and used it to draw out numbers.  I first placed the pom poms in the shape of the number I wanted, then just replaced each pom with the circle, traced, and repeat.  After each number was traced out, I punched coordinating color circles to glue at the bottom for the child to count. Then I layered the cardstock and glued the cards on construction paper for some punch of color and extra durability.  

There are so many different skills that can be worked here.  Of course, fine motor skills of placing the pom poms on the empty circles creating each number, then counting the dots to help with number recognition. Color matching, orange on orange, blue on blue. You could ask the little one what color poms were used to create each number - use words like under, top, bottom, first, next, last  Which color is under the pink pom pom?  Very simple cards, but lots of language skills can be used in addition to the quiet activity of placing the pom poms on top of the cards.

As for the box itself, this was a true MacGyver effort.  I first used the bottom of a small gift box I had laying around since the cardboard was sturdy, but not think.  I flatten it out and used the sides as the 4  strips to create the cubbies.  I made sure two fit lengthwise and two widthwise properly, then cut a notch in each going about 2/3 of the way down.  I fit the notches into each other and had my grid.  I then used the bottom of the box for the bottom of my grid.  I trimmed the corners so it'd fit the rounded edges of the box and notched it where there was bump from the box's closure.  I then used some hot glue to attach the grid to the base and followed with gluing color swatches to bottom of each grid.  

And yes, make sure your colors match the poms you have on hand!

I stored the flash cards under the sorting grid so everything fits nice and neat into the little box.  New numbers, letters, or shapes could always be added to the collection for more fun pom pom building. 

And that is how I made a quick, cheap busy box during a nap time. Nothing super fancy, but hopefully the options for play steals mom a few quiet minutes for herself.  

I'm so excited to see what everyone is linking up with their busy boxes.  Be sure to add your post - past or present - to the link up below so we can all blog hop and pin our hearts out!

And don't forget to check out the other hosts!

Colleen at Meet the Sullivans
Emily at Dear Owen
Michelle at Ten June
Natasha at Schue Love
Erin at Hello Erin

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Monday, September 15, 2014

[Shop Feature] It's Bow Season

Fall is a time for all things pumpkin, football, ever changing decor for multiple holidays and girlie bows to go along with them all.  One thing I've learned going into my third Fall season with daughters is this is the time I always find myself stocking up on all things festive.  

Festive holiday pajamas, outfits based on their ability to color coordinate with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, or later Valentine's, and of course any and all accessories to go with - themed tights, hats, bows and headbands. 

Clearly I'm a big supporter of Etsy and small business shops, as you can frequently fine me highlighting stores, promoting discounts, and offering giveaways whenever I can.  And being a girl mom, I have a weakness for the bow and accessory shops.  Bitty Bow Shop is one of my newest sponsored shops and I excited to share Alexis' story behind the shop and offer all readers 30% off with code BITTYBOW30

from Alexis...

Bitty Bow Shop started when my baby girl was 2 months old, I had so much fun making headbands to match her outfits, that I decided to take the plunge on Etsy.

I am so happy that I took a chance! It is so rewarding to see Bitty Bow Shops headbands and clips on precious little ladies all over the world. I was so excited when I sold my first headband on Etsy. A year later, I still get just as excited when someone purchases something that I create. 

All of my bows are handmade and because of that, each one is unique. I love using shabby flowers, fold over elastic, bright colors, and classic/whimsy color combinations. 

I'm a Behavior Analyst by day, Mama to Sophie, Wife, Crafting Addict and Instagram Lover. I would love for you to follow along {@bittybowshop}!  I'm so thankful for this little shop and all of my amazing customers.


Some of my very favorite bows from Alexis' shop are the Minnie Mouse clips.  I mean, how seriously perfect would these be for a trip to the official House of Mouse (Magic Kingdom/Disneyland)?  And the Hello Kitty bands are great for any Hi Cat lover or themed birthday party.  And the Boutique Bow is just the perfect grosgrain bow for any occasion.

Check out Bitty Bow Shop and prep yourself for the holiday season ahead!  And as always, thank you for supporting other small business mamas!
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Friday, September 12, 2014

Five on Friday

Linking up this week for the Five on Friday...

1.   SLEEP!  I'm probably jinxing myself, but Kenley for the first time in forever has only woke once during the night and slept in until 6am... two nights in a row.  It seems all signs of the double ear infection are gone, she's back to eating 3+ full meals a day, and now this sleep.  Not sure who this baby is, but I like her!

2.  Pre-School.  I'll write up more in a week or two, but with two weeks down (of two half days a week), Ashlynn is loving it.  It doesn't come with out some tears, but they are usually pretty comical compared to heartbreaking.  Her teacher says she's doing great, and she really seems to love it asking "Ashie school?" almost every morning.

3. It might be a bit early, but I couldn't resist picking up a GIANT pumpkin at Wegman's yesterday.  They are $5.99 each, no matter the size, and we had our pick of the lot since they just arrived.  I'm going to have to resist getting any more before our trip to the pumpkin patch!

I also pulled out our Fall/Halloween decorations last week and realized I'm really lacking in the Halloween decor.  I was aware of this, since in years past I always focused on "Fall" since it could live longer than Halloween and we never had a baby big enough to truly enjoy it.  Of course, now I'm trying to teach Ashlynn more about Halloween and wish we had more!

4. Speaking of Halloween, every time I ask A what she wants to be she says a few random things, then ends on Elsa.  She pretty much wears her Elsa dress daily so I'd really like something new and different.  We'll see what we can come with before the 11th hour.

5.  Blog Admin Updates!

Don't forgot to share your busy box reveals and tutorials with us next Tuesday!  We'll be sharing how we made our boxes for our swap and hope you participate in our link up!  I know we all could use more ideas on how to keep our little ones busy (and happily busy at that!).  

Last chance for the blog sale going on in my closet.  I'll be donating anything left next week.  

The In Bloom Boutique Giveaway winner was chosen last week, congrats Amy!  But don't forget you can always get free shipping and 15% off your order with code STRAWBERRY15.  

A reminder to share your child's #WhatDoYouSee photos on instagram and twitter for a chance to win an Eric Carle prize pack from Gymboree.  Check out the details in this post from last week.

And finally, have yourself a freakin' weekend!  We are starting back at gymnastics, hitting up our neighbor's annual wine tasting par-tay, and hopefully squeezing in some apple picking between some minor home improvement attempts.


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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Get the Fix (Round 2)

My second Stitch Fix arrived over the weekend.  After my first fix came over the summer and I was pleasantly surprised.  I never thought I would sign up for a personal shopping service, one, because I'm fairly confident in my own styling selections, and two, why would I pay for someone to shop for me.  I also didn't want to receive a bunch of mediocre items that I didn't care about or ever end up wearing.

When I realized the service let's you try on and return what you don't want (within 3 days) I was interested.  Especially since I haven't truly shopped for myself since before Ashlynn was born.  I purchase something here or there, but real don't browse stores or even online for myself like I used to.  The kids, all the time, just not me.

Anyway.  After keeping one top and a bracelet from my last fix, I was excited to see what they were sending for my next scheduled shipment, which I made for 8 weeks later.

First up was the Pomelo Brook Dot Print Tie-Waist Top.  Definitely cute, but if I saw it in a store, I'd probably walk right past it.  Even though weather is still hot here, I'm looking for bit more Fall pieces.  I just don't see myself layering this not to mention it's handwash only.  If I had a specific event I'd consider it, but alas my calendar is pretty empty aside from toddler gymnastics and children's birthday parties.

I thought it was a little risky when I saw they sent a pair of skinny jeans.  Shopping for jeans is painful for most women, not to mention I'm only 5'2".  The Mylee Tulip Hem Skinny Jean by Sold Design Lab fit like a glove.  Even the length was completely acceptable.  The only reason I didn't keep them is that I just bought skinny jeans a week ago, for less.  Still their $54 price tag for Stitch Fix is significantly below what Sold Design Lab sells for at stores like Bloomingdales and Pea in the Pod.  I'm still waffling over if I should have kept them, and might consider requesting them to attempt to send them again in a future fix if I decide I really need them in my closet (newsflash, I hoard denim so I probably don't).

"tulip" hem

Next was the Corinna Striped Dolman Top by Market and Spruce... wait, wait, does that sound familiar. Oh yes, it does.  It was the one top I kept from my last fix!  This time it came in a rich green with black stripes and I probably would have kept it if I didn't already receive and keep it in green.  I'm into buying duplicates like favorite fit v-necks, shorts, and bras.  But I don't need the same sweater, maybe at $28, but not $48... not that I find that expensive for a cute knit top, but again, I don't need two.   Back it went.

The top was suggested to be paired with the only accessory in the box, the Octavia Beau Mesh Knit Fringe Infinity Scarf.  I have a super thick ivory knit infinity scarf I got at Gap two years ago.  I live in it come winter and it's seen better days and I've been wanting to replace it.  This one is definitely much lighter, but it's equally as cute.  Stitch Fix does apply a $20 styling fee on each box, so if you return everything you still pay $20 for the time and effort for your stylist.  If you purchase anything one or all five, the $20 goes towards your purchase.  So instead of losing $20, I kept the scarf.  I know I'll wear it and it was $34.

Last was a denim jacket.  I do still have a J.Crew jean jacket from late high school or early college.  It's a bit boxy and I never wear it, yet never donated since I know they come and go frequently in fashion.  Stitch Fix sent the Jalie Denim Jacket by Liverpool.  While it looked pretty good on, I wasn't a fan of the stretch.  I know it's why it had great shaped, compared to my boxy and stiff J. Crew version from years ago, but something about the stretch denim in something other than a jegging, just felt a bit cheap to me. I also didn't care for the color since it was a dark denim that would pretty much match any of my jeans and I don't really wear anything other than jeans or leggings, so no pairing with dresses or skirts - which it'd probably look cute with.  Back it went.

Overall, I was a bit less pleased this time around.  I'm still going to keep my shipments scheduled for 8 weeks and I might be a bit more vocal with my requests, as they ask you to be. Help them, help you!  If I needed the jeans I would have kept them and same with the sweater.  I think I'll ask them to focus on casual tops since that's really what I'd like to increase in my closet.

If Stitch Fix sounds interesting to you, use my referral code to try it out for yourself!

And yes, as soon as our bedroom is painted (finally!) I will get a proper full size mirror!

** post contains affiliate and referral links 
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grand Opening at Dear Owen Co

Today I'm guest blogging over at Dear Owen & Co for their Grand Opening!  Emily took her flair for great design and knack for creating great products for children and opened a shop supplying crib sheets, skirts, pillows, and embellished curtains.  

To check out more about my nursery design board and other great inspiration boards, head over to Dear Owen & Co!  

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blogger Busy Box Swap!

It has been awhile since our last blogger swap, and since it is "back to school" season, I thought what a better swap then exchanging some busy bag/busy boxes (whatever you prefer to call them).  While Secret Santas and handmade Valentines were great and a total blast to receive, I thought swapping something educational with basic "pre-school" learning concepts would pull double duty.

The homemade busy boxes would help our 2-3 year aged kiddos work on some learning concepts while keeping them quiet and out of our hair for a solid five minutes.  Which with a lot of moms busy with chasing mobile babies, caring for newborns, or expecting new additions, having something to entertain a toddler can be clutch.  And siblings or not, we can all appreciate five minutes to shower or drink some coffee while it's hot!

This time, we swapped with the following fellow mama's of two year olds!

Colleen at Meet the Sullivans
Emily at Dear Owen
Michelle at Ten June
Natasha at Schue Love
Erin at Hello Erin

Instead of making one box for each member of the group and swapping, like a lot of busy bag swap do, we just stuck to creating one to mail away.  The parameters were that the activities had to focus on 2 year old skills - letters, numbers, colors, shapes, matching, sequencing, puzzles, you get the idea. They also were asked to be made as cheaply as possible, bonus if with items easily already found in the home or from the $1 spot.

We received our box last week from Arden (and her mommy Vanessa) from Sunflower State of Mind.  It's the cutest Go Fish game, where Ashlynn can place the felt fish on the "ocean", blue side of the container, and fish with the little magnetic rod.  After she can sort her catches by color in their proper cubby.

It is a huge hit and it'd totally be a great game to travel with, use at restaurants or on an airplane. She also included a cute One Fish Two Fish reusable bag that will for sure hold all her busy tasks for car rides and a Pout-Pout Fish book, which I probably enjoyed even more than she did.  Such a cute book!

We hope this swap and blog hop encourages you to make a busy box for your little one!  There are so many great ideas on Pinterest and when all else fails, you can always hand your little one a box of dry penne, a muffin tin, and a snack trap.  That, no joke, entertained Ashlynn for 40 MINUTES one day!  But then again something with some learning concepts is probably a bit better use of their time and brain.

Head over to Hello Erin and check out the busy box we made for the ever stylish Lex.

We will all be sharing tutorials how we made each our boxes next Tuesday.  We hope you can share the ones you've made and link up with us for a giant Busy Box Blog Hop!

Have you made any of these before?  Any simple activities that your littles ones love to do?

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Monday, September 8, 2014


Wow, what a week it's been.  Starting Tuesday with Ashlynn's first day of school ever and Kenley getting diagnosed with an ear infection at her nine month check up an hour later.  My mom came down to visit on Wednesday, which was great since we hadn't seen her since Ashlynn's birthday.  She came down to celebrate her birthday (Thursday) so we baked a cake... all picked out by Ashlynn.  Sprinkle Cake (funfetti) and Yellow (neon yellow vanilla frosting).

Kenley kept having fevers spiking during the night and remaining warm throughout the days.  By Thursday she stopped eating as much since she's so congested she's having trouble breathing while swallowing.  I'm trying to suction and give saline drops when I can, but considering it took three doctors to hold her down just to check if she had an ear infection (no joke), you can imagine how squirmy she is and how it's basically impossible to use the nosefrida at all.  We headed back to the doctor on Friday since she was as clingy as ever and still running a fever.  A new antibiotic and finally she had a good night's rest Friday night.  Slowly turned the corner, no more fevers, eating a bit more, and back on the mend.

Before we saw the doctor in the afternoon, we had stopped by our local Gymboree for their Eric Carle collaboration event, read more about it here!  Ashlynn got to decorate a hungry caterpillar print out, she's really into coloring in the lines, and then listened to a reading of the story. We didn't stay too long since Kenley was under the weather and was craving snuggles.

Saturday was usual clean up day, we did the usual house pick up and squeezed in some morning yard work. After naps it thunder stormed and we watched Tangled and ordered a pizza.  Sunday started with the usual family Panera pit stop and the Husband got the car washed and vacuumed while I cleaned out all the goldfish from the bottom of Ashlynn's carseat. When he got back we reinstalled her seat since it had gotten a bit loose (good to remind everyone to check your that your carseats latch belts and tethers are nice and tight!) and we swapped Kenley's infant carrier and base for her shiny new convertible carseat.

We have a Britax Boulevard G4 for Ashlynn and while we are super happy with it regarding the brand, their reputation, the style, and function, there are few little things we'd change.  Mainly in her version, the HUGS straps have a smaller strap behind the straps that doesn't always catch evenly and you have to recenter the clip and tighten again.  Despite this one small flaw, my OCD got the best of me and we got the same exact seat because we figured it wasn't a big enough deal to buy another we might not be as happy with, and yeah, we wanted them to match.  Turns out, they made a few changes in this model and it doesn't have the the little mini straps, so I'm really pleased we decided to get all matchy matchy.

Then we washed off and put together the neighborhood's traveling playset.  It first belonged to one neighbor, who gave it away to another, who now bestowed it to us.  It could use a nice coat of paint, maybe in the spring, but free is a lot cheaper a fancy swingset that probably wouldn't fit in our yard, so we'll use it for now!

Ashlynn approved.  And so did the frog... see him?

Some football, a Wegman's run, and mussels marinara for dinner and the weekend is complete.  Excited to have a full week ahead with our new schedule and hopefully a happier baby!
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