Thursday, July 31, 2014

[Child Style] Back to Pre-School Favorites

This week's trending topic... online shopping.

Once again, Tuesday night I took to the web to take advantage of the 40% Gap and 30% off Old Navy discount.  I grabbed a few last minute summer needs for our vacation and toddler socks, since Ashlynn's are cutting off her circulation, and some "back to school" picks.

Not sure we can really say back to school since it'll be Ashlynn's first experience, but either way, she'll be ready for the playground Day 1, her main point of interest, and hopefully some learning too!

Can't wait to see what else hits the stores in the next month, 'back to school' shopping has always been my favorite, so excited I get to pick things out for a few more years.


Anyone else school shopping yet, or picking up clothes for Fall?  It's always hard to swallow while it's still July, but I can almost taste the pumpkin muffins.  Don't blink!


**this post may contain affiliate links**

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

[Baby #2] Kenley Drew - 8 Month Update

Happy Eight Months, Kenley!  
You are always keeping us on our toes, since you are always on yours!


Stats:
Kenley had a weight check at the middle of the month, she was 16lb 11oz.  Up ten ounces in six weeks, so no concern over my milk supply and any need to supplement.  Not sure on her height, and still only has the two teeth she cut last month.  

I moved her into size 3 diapers since I had a box of Ashlynn's and didn't feel like going to buy more 2s since she's in that range where she can wear both.  She's also rocking her blush Freshly Picked moccs (size 2) now that she wants to stand when we are at storytime and out, and I get skeeved by her bare feet on public floors.  You know, since they still end up in her mouth.


Sleep:
Wow.  What a month.  I'm pretty sure we left off Month 7 with her sleep going from "tolerable" (up twice) to "are you kidding me?" (up multiple times).  At first I was chalking it up to the fact she started crawling right before 7 Months and pulling up a few days after.  After two weeks went by and it only seemed worse, I finally sucked it up.  Supported by my friend who was sleep training her baby just days older than Kenley, I was inspired by her quick success and just did it too.   I used the Sleep Easy Solution, which yes, is a modified cry it out. 

I did the first night with the recommended 5 min, 10 min, and repeated 15min checks until she fell asleep.  It took 50 painful minutes of her standing at the side of the crib crying her eyes out... and gnawing on the crib, thankfully minimal damage.  Rail covers went up the next morning.  She also fell asleep sitting up so I went in and laid her down after she was out.  She woke once or twice that night and each time never cried long enough or hard enough for me to go in and check.  She finally fell back asleep on her own.

The next day, I decided to stick to the book and train for naps too.  I wasn't about to send any mixed messages and make the crying last any longer than necessary.  For her afternoon nap she cried for 36 minutes and slept for over 2 hours.  That night she went down in 7 minutes.

By day three, she never even needed a check in.  She fussed less 2 minutes and put herself to sleep.  It's been almost two weeks and she's still doing great.  She sometimes sits up or stands after I leave and fusses, but only one day cried enough for me to go in (and I think it's because I was trying to force a late afternoon cat nap because her mid day nap was short).  She generally just rolls around a few times and goes to sleep.  I put her to sleep with her paci, but it generally falls out and she generally doesn't put them back in even though I keep her crib littered with them.  She's attached to her Aden + Anais blankie just like her sister, so she'll snuggle with that.  

As for the middle of the night, I had been giving her a dream feed around 10:30pm, but she started waking around 2:30, which usually a pacifier would quickly solve, then again around 4:30, which a paci wouldn't.  I started feeding her then too to see if she'd make it to 6:30am, and while she did a few times, most of the time she didn't.  So now I'm just waiting until I hear her starting to fuss around 2 and feeding her then.  I'm slowly trying to push her wake time back from 5:30 to 6 and hopefully eventually 6:30.  I hope between the sun rising a little later and her just getting the hang of it all, it works.  

And for naps.  Amazing.  We got in a good nap schedule at the end of June when we were home potty training Ashlynn.  Now that she can put herself to sleep.  She goes down around 8:30-9am (depending on her wake time), typically sleeps 45min, sometimes less and sometimes more. Afternoon nap is usually around 12:30pm and I like when it's 90minutes, and every now and then she'll cat nap in the late afternoon if we are out or she just seems tired at home.  That's usually 30minutes.

Lastly, I don't regret not sleep training Ashlynn.  If I was a working mom, it'd be a must, but I am happy I did with Kenley.  She actually just seems like a happier baby, probably because she's more well rested. I'm just glad she basically adjusted within 24 hrs because I'm sure if it took longer than three days I would have broke down and quit like I did with A. The freedom it's given me (from needing to rock or nurse into naps, and less wake ups at night) is life changing.


Social:
We had a busy month and a lot of time spent in the car, which I'd give her a 6 or 7 out of 10 for effort.  She'd usually sleep, but then once up freak out until I climbed back, but got better after we finally sleep trained.  

We had birthday parties, play dates, bbqs, and frequented Storytime and Music Class at our local libraries. Doctor appointment where she was agreeable ;) and she spent some time at Child Watch while Ashlynn finished up her gymnastics classes. 

Diet:
Mama's milk and baby foods.

She's moving on from fruit and veggies and starting to have yogurt and baby food blends with beans and grains.  And she's had some teething biscuits too.  I while happily hire any BLW mom or mom in general to get her started on actual finger foods.  I was so nervous to move on to puffs, soft veggies, etc, with Ashlynn and it turns out it's not easier with Kenley.  I'm a wuss. 



Skills/Milestones:

Pulling up.  I think a day or two after she turned 7 months she started pulling up. She does cruise, but not very far and just some little wobbly steps moving herself along.  More impressive is how easily she'll stand and how little support she needs.  She'll stand holding on to lightweight wobbly toys or using just my finger.  She's also gotten more graceful with sitting back down or dropping down to her knees instead of just toppling over.  She has control over her leg muscles, she just needs to work on flatting out her feet.  She really might just be the kid that HAS to keep up with her big sis and walk early.  We'll see!

Speaking of big sis, she is obsessed. They both squeal with delight when they see each other in the morning, it is the best thing EVER.  When we play in the toy room after breakfast, Kenley is just constantly following Ashlynn where ever she goes. I'm sure it's going to create a lot of problem in five years, or probably one or two, but she loves this girl and Ashlynn really aside from prying the occasional toy from her fingers, she couldn't be better with her either.  #proudmama

She also said Mama.  She said it a few days ago, but I wasn't sure if it was just babble.  She usually sticks with the "bababba" baby talk and high pitch squeals.  Yesterday she crawled over to me crying in hunger with a whiny "MAA maa" and with that I'm taking it as an official.  She is mommy's girl after all.

She's giving the biggest, sloppiest open mouth kisses.  The ones where she squeezes my face so hard to pull herself up to dig her teeth into my chin, her nails literally have broken skin on my face.  This goes hand in hand with her hair pulling.  She ripped a handful out of Ashlynn's head that made my stomach turn.  And she's a dancer.  She loves "dancing", the squatty jumpy baby dance, when I'm playing music or we songs are sung at storytime. 


I can't believe she's only eight months.  Her skills make her seem so much older, probably since Ashlynn was stationary until over 9 months.  At the same time, I feel like I blacked out somewhere after 4 months.  One day I thought, "When did she turn 6 months?  Was I supposed to do a 1/2 year birthday  or something silly, because I don't think that even crossed my mind"... Maybe it did, but I honestly don't even remember.  It's like here she was all little and BOOM now she's four months from turning one. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

[Window Shopping] Squeezing in Summer

Just some window shopping as I watch the Bachelorette.  We are going to our In Laws beach house next month for a week and naturally I feel like I need some new threads to pack.  I mean, who likes going on vacation with wash worn and spit up stained clothes?

(the more peer pressure I get in the comments, the more likely my husband will understand this is a need!)

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


It appears I have a color palette in mind for the week!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekending

This weekend was spectacular.  No huge events, but filled with lots of fun things, and while I wish it wasn't over, it didn't seem to blink by either.  We had fun, were productive, and even fit in a road trip. 

On Friday, the girls and I started our day by all sleeping until 6:30.  Probably sad for the general population, but that's huge around these parts.  We had a playdate with our best little girlfriends (and baby boyfriend) catching butterflies, playing on the swings, and riding the backyard rollercoster that left Ashlynn all pink cheeked and passing out on the car ride home.  That night, we put the girls to bed and had Nany and Pop over to make sure the house didn't burn down while we actually went out on a date. 

It's truly pathetic, and I'll take the blame, but we haven't been out since Kenley was born. Between her not being a fan of a bottle, or people who aren't her mommy, and that we really don't have any family other than Nany and Pop close by to babysit without it being a production, we just haven't done it.  I'll post more about it in Kenley's monthly update later this week, but sleep training worked and my freedom increased amazingly.  Instead of doing a fancier BYO like we probably would, we decided to go to one of our favorite little hole in the wall Thai places.  We rarely get Thai or sushi since when we do go out (with the kids) since we make sure there is something Ashlynn will eat and obviously family friendly.  We couldn't remember the last time we had Thai and were craving it by the time Friday came.  We both licked our plates clean so I'll say it was a win.  No criers or wake ups while we were gone and it was a total success.  Looking forward to getting out more often and starting to look into other reliable sitters in our area.

On Saturday, we woke early ate breakfast and when Kenley went down for her nap I bounced solo to the grocery store.  Something else I rarely do.  It was a quick run, but glorious.  We packed up after she woke up and headed to NJ.  We met up with some of Pete's work friends from when he was just out of school and employed in North Jersey. We haven't seen them since a few weeks before I gave birth to Ashlynn and we got to see their new house and meet their little boy.  Ashlynn had a blast playing in their bounce house, slide, and baby pool.  We didn't pack her bathing suit, so she borrowed Will's and I must say, she rocked the board shorts and rash guard like a beast.  No doubt this child is mine. 


After chowing down on a spread that would put anyone in a food coma we headed back and we had minimal crying on the entire 4 hour commute (there and back).  Got the girls cleaned up and to bed pretty close to bed time and finally got to catch back up on Game of Thrones.  We are still on Season One, so we are trying hard to binge as much as we can. 

On Sunday, Kenley was up pretty early but consider she slept a ton in car I couldn't be too upset.  We had pancakes, vacuumed the house, cleaned the bathrooms, pulled weeds, did a circuit workout in the driveaway while Ashlynn played with glitter chalk and her water table, all before 10 am.  It was maybe the most product morning ever.  We showered and headed to Lowes after Kenley woke up and grabbed a few more things to fix around the house.  Kids had snack, kids took naps, husband worked out and cut the grass, and then we headed to our local outdoor mall and just browsed a couple shops before getting dinner and then ice cream.  It was totally one of those days where we didn't anything huge, but we were so accomplished and the day didn't fly by.  

I wish we had one more day to spend playing together, but back to the grind we go.  It's okay, I'm looking forward to counting down to our beach trip next month.  Less than three weeks to go!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Inspired by Blair's post on curb appeal earlier this evening, I realized I never shared our landscaping update from earlier this Spring.

Our house is 21 years old and we've been here a year and and half.  Almost everything in this house was original and we are slowly updating everything from the roof to appliances to the overgrown trees and shrubs.

Here is the house from the listing photo Fall 2012.


It's funny that I didn't even notice until we moved in that half of the house was covered by trees!  Probably because we had our showings and walk thrus in Nov/Dec after all the leaves were gone.


A shot from this past winter, pretty much what it looked like the whole season thanks to the Polar Vortex.  We also finally decided on painting the mango colored door white.  I know white isn't the first color people think of for a front door, but we love it!  Our shutters are a purply brown, so it was either buy new shutters or a long ladder so we could paint them all, and paint a traditional door, or pick a color that worked with what we got.  White.  Goes with everything.

This photo (above) was during the landscaping process before they mulched.  We still need to dig up all the random daffodil bulbs that circle nothing in the yard.  We will also re-seed again this Fall hoping to fill in some of the bare spots that are now hidden by crab grass and weeds.



And these shots were from about a month ago.  The random circle area where the giant bush used to be will also be seeded.  I'm excited that next year I can finally add some color with annuals, maybe do a project or two for our porch, and finally have grass that's worth going barefoot on.   Actually if I can my biggest excitement... shrubs for Christmas lights!

Aside from my "pretty" plans above, we still need to have some drainage put in our backyard (it's virtually a swamp from March-May), growing real grass back there, cleaning up our patio, and getting a new grill insert so we can actually cook out.  Yep, you guessed it, our little built in grill is also as old as everything else and if it does work (I can't even remember if it lit during inspection) it's no condition for food that's going in our mouths to be placed upon.  woof. 

Anyone else out there having major outdoor overhauls?






Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rub a Dub Dub - Splashin' out of the Tub

To be honest, we haven't really been taking advantage of outdoor time this summer like I had planned.  Last summer when I was pregnant, I was thrilled Ashlynn was going to be more stable walker in summer 2014 and that Kenley would be in that blissful, sitting up but not quite mobile phase.  I was going to plant her on a blanket under the tree and go to town at the water table and running through the sprinkler with Ashlynn.  



Her mobility keeps us indoors, unless I can get that sweet spot of time where she'll be content contained in the stroller.  We finally have made the effort, put on the bathing suit (last year's), and did our two handed splash in.












We bought our Step 2 water table last year, I hope we continue to get use even more use out of it this year and definitely next when I have two pipsqueaks running around.  We have some Target sand toys and I decided to pull out our Boon bath toys to make splashin' around and cooling off a bit more fun.  We all love our ODD DUCKS.  Ashlynn loves the colors and patterns and that they came with names - Slim, Bob, Jane, and Squish.  And I love that they are PVC-free and don't hold any water so they won't grow that black mold that Kenley would inevitably try to suck out.  It makes them the perfect bath and water table toy since we all know water tables, even when wiped down before play, can be a bit gross and I don't really need that going in the baby's mouth -blech.   

And as the pictures depict, Ashlynn loves pouring water.  Her mini watering can and FLEET Stacking Boats are perfect for filling up buckets, giving the ducks a bath, or her toes.   The boats are designed with wide decks for scooping water and drain holes for making it rain.  She had such a blast playing outside with the water, as opposed to chalk and bouncy balls.  Once I figure out, how to keep Kenley happy (baby pool? sandbox? baby swing?) you'll find us out there daily! 


*****

Thank you to BOON for allowing us to review the bath toys mentioned, all the floating, dunking, and washing fun was all our own.  The ODD DUCKS and FLEET Stacking Boats can be purchased at Amazon or BuyBuyBaby.


this post contains affiliate links, thank you for your support

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ashlynn 2.25

As much as I somewhat like being off the hook for taking monthly photos and trying to think of all the new things Ashlynn's done for her updates, I miss being able to track her growth and progress.  I was definitely going to do a two and half year update, but turns out I can't wait.


I would have thought things would have slowed down a bit now that she's two, but it turns out she just keeps chugging along.  I feel like I'm always mentally notating, "oh that's new!" or "she finally got the whole ABCs!"  Anyway, feel free to read my babble about my first born.


Physical Growth:
Not sure her height, and I guess that means we should get our own growth chart since she won't be back for a well visit until she is three.  We did have Kenley's weight checked last week, and Ashlynn hopped on the scale - 25lbs even.

Clothing sizes are all over.  Her 18-24 bathing suits fall off her shoulders and I still have tags on the 2T one I bought back in early spring.  Since she's potty trained and isn't wearing a swim diaper, her 12-18m suits from last summer fit perfect.  She's in 2T for tops and jammies, last year's 12-18m shorts, and 18-24m dresses seem to be just right.  Her size 5 flip flops are looking small and the rest of her shoes are size 6.  Her nikes are size 7, which I thought was huge when we bought them in the spring, but the sales girl insisted it was the right size.  They probably are a bit big, but they don't slip and at least they'll probably last us until the end of the year.



She's currently sprouting one of her two year molars, her bottom right. I've been wondering if that's been the source of the extra whininess, or just being two.  She doesn't seem phased when eating or brushing her teeth, so I don't think it hurts that bad.

Developmental/Coordination:
She's finally able to jump with two feet.  When we started gymnastics class right at 2 years, she was still doing her funny two step hop, which she still does a lot, but within the last month she finally got the hang of bring both legs up together.



She can also do a forward roll herself and walks on the balance beam without needing to hold hands.  She's able to do bigger kid puzzles with cardboard pieces, but depending on the size needs help solving them.


Potty training - check!

I also think the potty training sparked the interest in dressing herself.  I usually give her options of clothing or still give her something without much protest, but she always wants to put them on herself.  Shoes included and like most toddlers, has a knack for always putting shoes on the wrong feet.


Educational:
She finally mastered singing the ABCs, it was the one song she never got into repeating (unlike Itsy Bitsy, Twinkle Twinkle, etc), but one day just sang along with her toy and now it's one of her favorites.   She can almost count to 20, there are some misplaced 16s and just "teens" after 15 and before 20.



She loves to announce the traffic lights. "Red, STOP!" and "Green, LET IT GO!" and also any airplanes or flags she see's while we are driving.   She's using words like "and, or, both" correctly and can sequence events "first, then, next".

Favorite Foods:
Watermelon, corn on the cob, pineapple, and popsicles.  Basically summer foods that we haven't been enjoying since last year.  She's also started eating chicken more (not always) and definitely has a pickier streak.  She almost always has cereal for breakfast, with bananas or blueberries "inside", and even mastered slurping her milk.   Lunch is usually yogurt, peanut butter and jelly, or a quesadilla and snacks are always some fruit - banana bites a fav (banana slices topped with a dollop of peanut butter and a raisin), animal crackers or goldfish, "dip" (hummus), and a cheese stick.  Dinner is usually the last favored meal.  Sometimes she'll do great, others it's hit or miss.  I don't really stress about it and if she doesn't touch what I cooked I'll offer a yogurt, peanut butter, or some left over - never another meal.  Usually she's just not hungry.

Smoothies.  Big fan of smoothies.

Attitude:
This wouldn't be a proper "Two Year Old Toddler" update without notes on her attitude.  I still don't classify us in the world of "terrible twos", but we sure have our fair share of trying days.   Usually meltdowns occur when hungry or tired, or the occasional "no, we can't do XYZ".  She's pretty whiny and is really starting to test limits with doing something I've said no to, until she gets punished/disciplined, whatever you want to call it.

As for our method of punishment or discipline, we are still learning what works best, but I think I got it. Time outs are ineffective.  The number one thing she does to limit test is be rough with Penny.  She'll grab her collar, attempt to mount her like a horse - she's a 20lb Boston Terrier, or chase her with a toy that freaks her out... Penny is a scardy cat.  I started with no's and warnings, and then would put her in time out on the steps.  After a few times of this, as soon as I would warn her to stop chasing Penny, etc, she would shout "TIME OUT!" and run to the steps.  Not really effective when she wants to go.  So now I take things away.  The toy she is mocking the dog with or something else she likes and values.  I'll stick them on top of the fridge.  I've also done this with toys she doesn't treat properly, she loves to stand on everything which at this age, she knows better.

When she having a tantrum and crying or just worked up, I'll tell she's allowed to go cry in a certain area - on the step, on the chair, other room, wherever, and when she's done, she can come ask me in her words what it is that she wants.  This works a decent amount, unless she's tired, then she'll just be crying for no real reason.

We are lucky that she never really acts out in the common forms of hitting, kicking, throwing or biting.  There are times where she'll kick toys (laying on her back), I'll tell her that's not how we treat our things and I'll take it if she doesn't stop.  If she wants to kick (needs to work something out, frustration, etc) she can go in an open space and kick her legs there.



Lastly, the biggest adjustment we are experiencing, as expected, is Kenley's mobility.  She still LOVES her sister and now that Kenley crawls and pulls up, she thicks she is sturdy enough to tackle with hugs (she's not), but she always has hit the "mine" phase.  Except instead of saying "MINE!" she run in whatever direction Kenley is headed, collect everything she hold and cry "SISSY TAKE IT!".  I'll explain Kenley is a baby and she doesn't walk, so she can't take anything.  I'll explain she's a baby and learning and just want to learn by looking at and touching the toy and ask if Ashlynn can teach her about whatever it is Kenley shows interest in.

She also will seek attention if the baby is getting to much focus or I'm on the phone or trying to talk to another adult (playdate).

Sleep:
For the most part, she's a great sleeper.  In the last week, she's woken around midnight and slept in our bed - a first, usually our bed was "playtime" only for her.  I think it's her teeth that are waking her, but she refuses to lay back down in her crib, so maybe it's a chance it's a night terror, though she doesn't seem too upset.  She fights going to bed like she's 4.  Delays putting on jammies, will run around her room instead of reading or grab a book and get up and grab another as soon as we start reading.  She'll cry when we say it's time to lay down and then call me back about three times for either another visit to the potty, water (which I stopped allowing), to be tucked back in, or various other random requests.  Thankfully usually once she's out, she's out.  She's been waking earlier since potty training, but we are slowly getting back on track with her going back to her bed and waiting for the clock to turn yellow if she does get up to go potty.


Favorites:
All the other favorite things.  Ashlynn is absolultely loving the swimming pool and swimming this summer.  She's still not a true fish, but definitely is comfortable in the water and learning more - kicking feet, blowing bubbles, and jumping in.  She needs to work on keeping her mouth closed.   She loves gymnastics and still loves the playground even though we haven't gone as often since it's usually too hot.  She enjoys storytime more than ever, sings along with all the songs and will go get her stamp and sticker at the end by herself.



She loves treats. Cake pops, popsicles, and chocolate chips.  Thankfully she doesn't need chocolate chips for using the potty any more, but she does request a treat more night than not, which I can usually barter for her taking X amount more bites of her meal.

She actually really enjoys brushing her teeth.  She went through a phase hating it, but at some point I explained that we brush teeth to make the sparkle and keep them healthy, so now she'll brush and stare at them saying "farkle, farkle!" after she's done.  Proud of her work.  (which we normally help with)

She's really gotten into reading longer story books at bed time.  She loves our Giant Golden Book of Frozen, Richard Scarry, If You Give books, and Fancy Nancy. She likes music and we listen to the Let  It Go pandora station most days.  It's a combo of Disney movie songs and family friendly pop hits (Pink, Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, etc).  She can identify almost all the Disney songs they play by what movie it's from and half of them she hasn't even seen! (Pocahontas, Lion King, Mulan).  And she geeks out when Frozen or Tangled songs are played and sings along with most of the words.

Art - she loves painting with a brush, but even more her hands.  We made hand print planters for Mother's Day and now she always want to paint her hand when we paint.  She likes chalk, but isn't the biggest fan of coloring with crayons.  She's hit or miss with play doh, usually only liking it if I add new things like pipe cleaners or something to making it interesting.

She's also finally getting into building with blocks and taking a bigger interest in puzzles.  Two toddler activities she was "meh" about until now.  Still loves dress up, pretend play, and her Fisher Price little people and dolls. She's usually a good helper when cleaning up the toys, especially if the catch is she can watch Mickey when the room is cleaned up (ie, the time I feed Kenley and shower).  She loves Disney Jr and will pretty much watch Mickey, Sofia, Doc, Jake, or Sheriff Callie without any complaints.  She'll occasionally bust out things she's seen, like the time she insisted on a paper straw and empty cup so she could have a "Toby milkshake" (Sheriff Callie).  Hopefully she's learning some of the social skill lessons too, ha.


I've covered a ton and I'm sure I could keep thinking of other, but that's a good update for now, I'm sure there will be a ton of new things at 2.5 years since she is starting preschool in September.  We visited last week and will be again today, getting familiar with the building and teachers so it's not such a freak out when she's dropped off for real.  I'm appreciative the staff allows these transitional visits especially since we were able to check out the school during an Alex's Lemonade event and will be seeing a magic show today.   If you actually read this far, thanks!

Any fun (or not so fun) things your young 2 year olds are doing??

Monday, July 21, 2014

[Giveaway] Baby Aspen Boutique



I don't know about other mom's with babies in the summer time, but my girl (girls actually) always seem hot and sweaty.  I love adorable and sweet baby outfits, but between the spit up, a gazillion diaper changes, and sticky humidity we spend the major of our time in cotton onesies or rompers, or better yet, in nothing at all!  

Between Ashlynn potty training and living in elastic waist shorts and Kenley having the super power to turn her carseat into her own personal sauna, I try to dress them as cooly as I can.  Which is why I love little baby bloomers and diaper covers - easy and adorable.


When Baby Aspen asked if I'd like to host a giveaway for my readers, I jumped at the chance.  They have the cutest gifts for baby!  I have a baby shower to attend next month and I always like to include a non-registry item in my gift to make it more personal.  Baby Aspen has all those perfect gifts that guests will 'ohh and ahh' over just like these adorable Buzzin' Baby Bloomers and coordinating Butterfly Blanket.


The blanket is so cuddly soft and the bloomers are made a nice sturdy weight cotton, which is appreciated since it holds up well in the wash.  There are so many adorable options Babycakes, Beach Bums, and Dyno-mite.  I also love the cute bath robes, like this squeaky clean mouse and variety of socks (what is it about baby socks?). 

Thank you to Baby Apsen for sponsoring this giveaway, and cute baby tooshes everywhere!


If you'd like to win Buzzin' Bloomers and a Butterfly Blanket from Baby Aspen to spoil your baby or someone else, enter below!




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Friday, July 18, 2014

[Recipe Share] Pasta Pie

Earlier this week, I had some ground turkey to cook and didn't want my usual standby of meat sauce or Weelicious' Mexican Meatloaf.   So I flipped through the Weelicious cookbook, probably the only cookbook I've ever used more than one recipe in and keep on the counter, and found Italian Pasta Pie.  I adapted the recipe to fit what we had in the house, and aside from one cheat I wouldn't make the next time, it was really good!

It was a different, yet familiar dish for us and considering eggs and pasta are some of Ashlynn's staples she never refuses. 


Pasta Pie adapted from Weelicious 140 Fast, Fresh, and Easy Recipes


Ingredients
10 large eggs  (I used 7 hoping it'd be enough because 10 sounded ridic, definitely need more)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, sliced and quartered
2 cups cooked rotini
1/2lb ground turkey, browned 

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, 2 tablespoons water and the salt until fluffy. Add the basil and cheese, stir to combine and set aside.
3. In a large oven-safe sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and veggies and sauté for 4 minutes, or until softened.
4. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
5. Stir in the pasta and turkey, and stir until combined.
6. Pour the eggs over the pasta mixture and sprinkle additional cheese on top.
7. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the bottom is set (do not stir).
8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden on top and cooked through.
9. Slice the pie into wedges and serve.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Got my Fix!

Ok, I don't know what came over me, but I pulled the trigger a few weeks back and signed up for Stitch Fix.  I think it was some wine and the fact the Husband was out with friends and I was just bored on the internet.

I'm usually not into the "subscription service" type sites, I feel some are a rip off like I could pay less to pick up the same items myself or that I just won't like and use what is sent and therefore making the money spend not worth it.  Being a SAHM, I try to be as aware as I can of my discretionary spending since I don't really provide any discretionary income.

However, I love Rent the Runway and have used that service a few times and after reading more about Stitch Fix, I felt it was a bit of the same with being able to return your items.  I filled out my style profile and tried to really emphasize - YOUNG KIDS.  NURSING. WASHABLE MATERIALS.  CASUAL STYLE.  

Of course, I didn't use caps and was more wordy (surprise!) and polite.  But, the theme... don't send me anything fancy that I can't wear around my kids because it won't get worn.  And therefore, sent back.


Overall, I was really pleasantly surprised with my fix.  I only kept two items, but the style of the items were pretty on point - as well as the prices.


The first item was a Collective Concepts blouse.  The look I love, flowly blouse with a simple pattern.  I just wasn't crazy about the fit.  It hit at an awkward place and didn't seem long enough to me and the bracelet sleeves also seemed off.  I wasn't blown away by it, so I sent it back.  I figured it'd be a top I'd like, but never wear.


The second top was this Pomelo geo print blouse.  I loved the fit and length.  It was sheer, but they included a camisole to go with it.  I just kept the one I had on when trying.  There was a unique hardware detail around the collar and cuffs, and the sleeves were puckered at the shoulders.  If it were navy, a shade of blue, or a soft neutral color, I probably would have kept it.  Orange, red, and bright pink are colors I tend to stay away from.  I guess I'm just not that bold.


The third top was this dolman sleeve knit sweater (lightweight) by Market and Spruce.  When I pulled it out I was underwhelmed.  Just another grey sweater... I live in grey tops.  However, when I put it on, the fit and feel was just right.  It's soft, has a great shape, and like I said, fits my style.  I definitely see myself wearing this to playdates, storytime, errand runs etc.  It's easy and comfortable, but it's not workout wear.  I could wear it leggings and running shoes or skinnies and boots.  Versatile and effortless.  And it was the cheapest top included.


Then I got a skirt.  You probably know how I feel about skirts at this point.  I don't wear them.  I own three.  They are for showers, dressier work events (newsflash, I no longer work), and funerals. I thought I clarified in my profile that I wasn't interested in receiving skirts and dresses, but maybe they just wanted to show their range.  Either way, it was a really cute and also by Market and Spruce.  I loved the way they styled it in the brochure they sent with outfit ideas.  I didn't even try it on.  Never going to wear it. Super cute though for someone who does work and actually wears skirts to work, something I never did.


Last, I got bracelet.  I was open to the idea of receiving accessories - statement necklaces, scarves, what have you.  But never thought I's spend the money on something like that when my need is really in updating my wardrobe.  No joke, most of my clothes are from 2009-2011.

Back to the bracelet.  Super cute, Jill Michael beaded stretch bracelet.  Emerald beads with a gold plated bead. Not really something I was going to spend $28 on, but I really liked it.  It's the perfect bracelet to add to a little arm pretty without it looking like cheap jewelry.  It looks nice in person. So I kept it.

Since this was my first "Fix" my $20 styling fee was waived, so the bracelet basically became no doubt worth it.


It wasn't a complete home run, but over all I was happy with the items they sent (aside from the skirt).  I set my shipments to come every other month, so I'll be getting my next box in early September, perfect for updating my Fall wardrobe - last year I was super pregnant and the year before nursing a six month old, so I really could use new clothes!

Are you a Stitch Fix member?  Love it/Hate it?  
Interested in signing up, here is my referral link if so!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Potty Progress Report

We are almost 4 weeks into potty training and at this point, we've dropped the word "training" and the diapers and pull-ups, too.

I am a little hesitant to write this post, one because I'm afraid it could jinx our accident free streak, but also because I always try to stay cognizant of that line of over sharing.  I truly never thought I'd post about potty training, but in the last few months I was always interested in reading others experiences and that's part of what I love most about blogging.  Connecting with a great group of supportive moms and sharing ideas, experiences, and stories.   At the same time, this is a story and experience I share with Ashlynn and I don't want to put all the details out on the internet for her to be embarrassed later on, because I'd probably die if roles were reversed.


You can read my "potty prep" post here.


Basically, here's what worked and what didn't.  I had planned to do a "modified 3-day method" meaning ditching diapers cold turkey, except I was going to use Pull-Ups at nap and bedtime since we still had issues with waking dry.  I'll quickly say the method I used evolved to sticking with what was working for us and changing what wasn't.

We spent the first day doing a lot of time on the potty.  "Trying" every hour or so.  This was less about forcing her to go, or catching the rare occurrence that it would happen at the time we were there, and more about keeping focus.  She had never gone on the potty prior to this attempt so it really did become the theme of the weekend.  By the second day, I switched to the "Let mommy know if you need to use the potty".  Of course, I still said this fairly frequently as a reminder to her to keep her cues in check, and even still three weeks later I'll occasionally ask if it's been a while and I feel like she may be getting to side tracked by something else.

The first day, the bucket of toys, books, miscellany was great.  I would read a potty book, or let her hold a princess wand.  By the third day, I realized she was spending too much time on the potty.  Not because she was truly trying to go, but because she wanted the novelty of a story or bathroom exclusive toy.  I also kept the little potty downstairs and insight, mainly so I could keep my eyes on Kenley without actually dragging her into the bathroom each non-productive visit.  At this time, all potties were kept in the bathroom and visiting the bathroom became solely for the task of going potty.  The potty is not a chair, we do not sit and play.  We try, if no success, we can try later and leave.  This definitely helped cut back on the trips and I think instilled a better understanding of her false alarms.

By Monday, we were still having problems.  No accidents and she definitely knew the cue of when she needed to go, but it was the fear of going.  I started getting scared that I was traumatizing her and we were headed down a path of a child who would give herself actual physical conditions, yet at this point I knew that diapers or potty it didn't matter, she knew when she needed to go and didn't want to in either.  I called the pediatrician in the morning to get advice and waited for a call back.  By nap, I hadn't heard from them and decided it was over.  We'd try again in a few months, I didn't want her having the stress.  She's only 26m and there was no need to be doing it other than she showed signs of readiness and it was a good time to take the opportunity.  I put everything away.  Everything.

She woke from her nap and insisted on the potty.  I tried to say, it's okay, we'll use diapers, no potty.  Nope.  Wasn't acceptable.  Relunctly, I pulled it out.  I don't think we had success until a bit later, which only frustrated me more that I indeed caused damage in the span for 4 days.  However that night, after daddy put her to bed.  I was called to her room and requested urgently to use the potty.  I let her and she went right away.  She woke a few hours later night, went again, no problem.  Morning, no problem.  The switch turned on.  I don't know if it was the reverse psychology of taking it away, or just that she needed to do it X number of times to get used to it and get over the fear, but ever since number one is a breeze.  The other job was still a bit of production, but the pediatrician didn't show any concern and she's slowly gotten the hang of that and it has gotten much easier now that we built experience.

I had used Pull Ups the first few nights, but after a solid week of waking dry and calling for me when she needs to go, we switched to undies full time.  It's still a learning curve, but she's survived a road trip out of state, multiple outings, pool time, etc.

For my experience, those first five days were some of the hardest days I've had a parent.  Am I doing what's best for my child?  Am I pushing something that doesn't need to be pushed?  Am I'm supportive enough?  I truly feel as if there was no way possible that I could have been a bigger cheerleader and master of patience without losing my temper.  It took a toll on me.  However, seeing her success now and how easy it seems in hindsight, it seems to have made those first few tough days worth it.

That said, I truly have no advice.  I am not a professional potty trainer and every child is unique.  I would support giving it some time to sink in, as in, don't quit the first day if there is some resistence.  Let them have a chance to figure it out, but if it's a battle and progress isn't made, no one is failure.  Just simply it's not time.  I also support the whole, letting accidents happen and not getting upset.  They'll learn pretty fast that they don't like it on their own and don't need the fear or guilt of disappointing their hero of making the mistake.  Ashlynn was also smart enough to refuse drinking water and milk when offered (all.the.time.), but couldn't resist smoothies and popsicles, so use those your advantage!

So yay!  We officially have a "Big Girl"!  Just don't tell her that cribs are for babies, I'm selfishly milking that one a bit longer.



Any tips or tricks that made the task easy for you?  Please share in the comments for readers looking to gain more information!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekending

As with most weekends, this one went by too fast.

We kicked it off right the Husband leaving work early, a rarity, a meeting us over at the pool for a pre-dinner swim.  We came home, chowed down on some chicken fingers (that Ashlynn actually ate!) and then lit a fire in our under used fire pit.  I had done a Target run that morning getting all the necessities - chocolate, marshmallows, and extendable s'mores skewers (similar), we already have a lifetime supply of graham crackers.

Sidenote, I also grabbed the dual Anna and Elsa (and Olaf) toddler doll set and plan on saving it for Santa Claus.  Our store was stocked with Frozen toys!


Anyway, it was Ashlynn's first marshmallow toasting/ s'mores eating experience and while I didn't get any pictures, her joker face of chocolate tells me she had a blast.  That night was pretty rough, with details I won't bore you with, I sent the toddler and husband to swim lessons solo and ate a left over Hershey bar from our s'mores stash for  breakfast.  At some point I did sneak a nap in and to be honest I can't even remember what happened the rest of the day other than getting a hair cut, cooking dinner, and going for a family walk with popsicles in the wagon and that leading to "Elsa hands".  You figure that one out.


Sunday, the Husband played an early round of golf and we got some crazy good naps out of Kenley before heading to my In Laws for dinner.  We took a much needed family picture since we don't have one of all of us since Kenley was born, but of course, none where we were all actually smiling at the camera at the same time.  Then A went to the pool with her dad and Pop Pop and came back for a delicious dinner of grilled salmon and homemade blueberry pie... and lollipops.  Girl always gets herself a tootsie pop at Nany and Pops house.

And back to Monday, here we are...  I'm hoping this week we stay busy and that it flies on by.  Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Giant Girlie Giveaway Winners!


The following winners have been randomly selected via rafflecopter.  All winners will be emailed within 72 hours.  Congratulations!!

Belle Meade Lane - Emily Lees
Georgia & Jane - Alissa Sneed
Half Pint Kids - Hilary Quinn
Livs Lane - Emily P
OBTLove - Kim Bauer
Penny Wishers - Chelsea Stutts Benavides
Pretty Little Elm - Bethanie
Sadie Sky Boutique - Kiescha Williams
The Fabric Gal Boutique - Ashlee Brown
ZoZu Baby - Tara Hunter


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Toddler Talk: Ashie-isms

It's been a long time since I last recorded my favorite phrases and sayings of Ashlynn's.  It's funny reading that now, it's amazing how much her vocabulary and level of communication has changed.  I forgot about a couple of those things, so I'm so glad I am doing this again.


-  " Ughh, soo hungry" (while rubbing her belly)... she has also said, "so, tired.  so, tired" before a nap.

- For the longest time, months now, if you ask "How many?" she replies "1, 6, 7".  Every time.  She can clearly count to 14 (usually a lot of teen, teen, teen, to get to twenty), but the response to the words "How many?" is always 1, 6, 7.

- "Frinkles"  Donuts and ice cream with frinkles, sprinkles.   Also, farkles.

- "Two pony tay-uls" (pigtails)

- "shoes on!"  When I try to get her to behave or redirect her attention by promises of going somewhere fun.

- "red store"  (target)  Also, where she goes when she pushes her Strawberry Shortcake shopping cart around the house.

Me:  "Ashie, where are you going?"
A: "Red Store"
Me: "What are going to buy at Red Store?"
A:  "eggies. milk. bananas"

(which are things I never actually buy at 'Red Store')

- "Hot in here right" This is my favorite.  One day getting the girls in the car, I was buckling A in and she said "Hot in here" I laughed, made a Nelly reference, and said "yes. It is hot in here, right?" Which she replied "Hot in here right" (no comma).  Now every time we get in the car she says "Hot in here right"  and again, no comma... just as you read it she says it.

- "Back-yoom"  vacuum

- "mommy coffee? coffee, first"  - The drive through Starbucks is across the street from Target so usually it's a toss up of which way I turn.  Once she sees me veering towards green over red we can that saying.  She also refers to anything I drink as "mommy's coffee" except water, obviously.

- "See?"  - Everything!  She has to see the milk in her cup, the coffee in mine, the cereal in my bowl, the baby food (after each bite).  It's actually pretty annoying, but it's a current habit.  She has to see inside everything... even if my glass is clear, she wants to see in it from the top.


Any funny things your toddlers are doing??




Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Link Up] Berry Watermelon Cocktail

For the Fourth of July Recipe Link Up, I was paired with Kelly from DetteCakes.  She made this completely pinnable and mouth watering berry watermelon cocktail.  I decided to make a few tweaks to our version and go more in the smoothie direction since I'm all about getting Ashlynn to drink her daily "mooth-vie" to keep up the potty progress.  So because of the underage drinker, I skipped the watermelon vodka and the soda as well.

I eyeballed the ingredients to yield roughly about two drinks - one for her and one for me!


Ingredients
Watermelon
Frozen blueberries (about a handful)
Frozen Strawberry (and 4 large whole berries)

Yup.  That was it.

I have never blended watermelon before, but I think I may have a new hobby and I can see why the addition of some vodka and sprite would make this the best summer cocktail.  As for our smoothie version, Ashlynn loved  the "strawberrymelon".  And it hydrated her like no other!

I can't wait to see everyone else's recipes!  Thanks for linking up with us!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Catching Up

I feel like I'm in a constant state of catch up around here...


Catching up on the sleep lost during the first week of potty training A with middle of the night trips and early morning nature calls. 

Catching up on the sleep from the same week because Kenley learned to crawl and just wanted to be on the move, at all hours. 

Sleep from this past week as Kenley now is pulling up and I find her in the middle of the night sitting in the crib or standing there crying for me, you know, just because she can. 

Catching up on getting my diet back on track after months of "why not, donut?"

Catching up on uploading all my videos from my phone to my hard drive because I don't do it nearly enough and getting the memory full alert when trying to take a picture of my baby crawling for the first time to send her daddy really grinds my gears.

Catching up on emails that have found their way to the bottom of my inbox without any reply sent - so sorry!

Catching up Game of Thrones because we just started the series a few weeks ago since we had been wrapped up in finally finishing Dexter after we binged on six seasons of Breaking Bad.


Catching up on getting back on schedule after this crazy (and fun!) weekend.  We had a low key Fourth with my best friend coming over to play with A (and Kenley and me too) and then hitting our pool before dinner, where we basically had it to ourselves.  The next day we traveled to Long Island for our friends' daughter's birthday party, and while the time spent there was awesome and quite possibly Ashlynn's very own Favorite Things episode - swings, sandbox, water table, face painting, swimming pool, ice cream truck, giant Ariel balloon, cake... I'm probably leaving a 100 things out like spotting the family cat when tagging along inside for a baby diaper change.  But any, run sentence and digression aside, the 6 hour travel always throws our schedule way off.  I probably spent three of the six hours smushed between two car seats, so there was that.  And once we got home around 8pm, Kenley starving since she hadn't eaten since 4:30, nursed and instead of going to sleep decided she was going to throw her own party until 10:30pm.  It was insane.  I had been up since 4am that morning with her. She finally seems to be getting back on track with proper naps and not waking quite as many times during the night, but I'll be happy when it's even less.  Sunday we went out for bagels and coffee in the morning and had a swim lesson that night. 

And now, I'm going to catch up on my unread blogs, the to-do list I have to make, and maybe the book I started reading two months ago. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

[Giveaway] For all the LITTLE ladies in the place with style and grace...


Bows! Bows! Bows!


It's been a while since I hosted a giveaway, and even longer since I hosted a girlie hair bow giveaway.  I had a bunch during the winter  months and decided to take a break as we needed intervention on our own hair bow collection and I wanted to highlight some shops that both, boys and girls, could enjoy. 

However, I've been in contact with some really great shops and wanted to pass on their generosity to my readers and fellow girl moms out there.



This giant giveaway will have TEN WINNERS selected, each winning a separate prize from one of the participating shops mentioned below.  Good Luck and Happy Monday! 



Thursday, July 3, 2014

[Little Foodie] Making Feeding Time Fun and Functional

Now that our little piggy has a solid 6+ weeks of baby food under her belt in her tummy, I wanted to share some of the awesome feeding accessories Boon sent our way to make meal time fun and functional at the same time!


We are still loving our Boon FLAIR highchair.  Super easy to keep clean, she always seems comfortable, and it's quick to get her in and out.

Hands down, our favorite meal time accessories for Kenley are the SERVE feeding spoons and PULP silicone teether.


The SERVE spoons are soft silicone with long handles and smaller spoon beds (is that a thing?I'm going with it regardless) perfect for getting the right scoop size for her mouth.  The thin spoon tip is also perfect for scooping away any puree that dribbles down her chin and getting that last drop from the bowl.  It also has has a little flat spot on the bottom of the handle to keep it from rolling and the tip (and mess) off the table when you place it down.  I used to use our Beaba soft serve spoons with Ashlynn, which I really liked then, but I always find myself grabbing the Boon ones instead for Kenley.


The PULP silicone teether is genius.  I had bought the little mesh teether bags that everyone tells you to get for Ashlynn and used them maybe twice.  Majority of the time, she'd chew the handle instead of the fruit or frozen food in the bag and after she did manage to gnaw some out, I'd also be stumped how to sanitize the bag.  I think I just started throwing them away and then realized I wasn't going to keep buying new bags each time, or reuse a bag that still smelled of the day old peaches despite running under hot water with some soap.


The Boon version is such a smarter product.  The silicone cup has perforations for the food to squeeze through and it's dishwasher safe.  I have used some thicker purees like sweet potatoes or just chucks of ripe banana, avocado, pear and pineapple which worked even better.  I give this to her at lunchtime since it keeps her busy and satisfied when she doesn't really need a whole meal, just a snack.

The coordinating Boon GNAW is a snack leash that fits the PULP perfectly and keeps it from being chucked to the floor.



We recently started using the SQUIRT feeding spoon, now that I know she'll eat more than ounce or two for a meal.  I heard mixed reviews over these type of food dispensing spoons in the past, so I never tried one.  The handle holds about 3oz and it makes one handed feeding a breeze, which is great when my only other hand is picking up tossed toddler sippy cups, wiping crumbs, and whatever "mommy take it" requests I get from the toddler.  It comes with a cap, so it'd be perfect for travel.  No spoons, bowls, pouches, etc.



Ashlynn has been using the PLATTER plates and, for us, they are huge improvement than the SAUCER version I previously purchased and was left disappointed.  I bought the round saucer section plates after I started my love affair with the brand's CATCH bowl, which is still used daily around here.  I liked the plates were skid-proof were a fun colored non-character/holiday theme section plate.  In reality, they didn't fit on our previous high chair tray and I thought the sections were pretty shallow and small.  Ashlynn is a pretty good eater, so I could barely fit her meals on the plates.  The PLATTER version fixes all those issues for us.   She can get fruit, crackers, cheese and a scoop of hummus for a snack or scrambled eggs, fruit, mini waffles for breakfast and of course, pasta, veggies, and any other sides for dinner.  And dipping agents, because girl needs a whole section for ketchup or syrup, so I'm glad there is a tiny one for that!  And bonus, they fit on the FLAIR high chair too.


She also upgraded a few months back to actual metal flatware, which is nice because she had started stealing mine.  The FLATWARE coordinates with the other accessories perfectly (purple her favorite) and it's still sized and designed for a toddler, no sharp edges, so I don't have worry about using our bigger adult ones.


Lastly, I'm probably the last person to have the Boon LAWN , the ubiquitous grass themed drying rack, added to our counter top.  It holds everything from baby feeding products, to baby food maker parts, our knives, sippies,  and our own cooking utensils. The FLY is perfect for keeping binkies or bottle parts away from the rest of the madness.

I'm so thankful that Boon allowed us to try out these feeding accessories.  I was pleasantly surprised with so many little design features that really made me reach for them time and time again over my previous tried and true products.  And the best part is how seamlessly and stylishly they all coordinate, I'm a sucker for design and style!


*****

Boon was kind enough to provide the feeding accessories for our review, but all opinions expressed are solely my own!
Interested in learning more about products by BOON?