Friday, July 31, 2015

Inspirations for a 2nd Birthday

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week and I am sure you all are looking forward to the weekend. We have had a wonderful start to our weekend! I am looking forward to Sunday since I work Saturdays. Ok anyways, on to thoughts about Kinley's second birthday. Tears....

Is it too early to start thinking about Kinley turning 2?!!! I can't believe how fast she's growing up. She is definitely not a baby anymore and well into her toddler escapades. She is sassy as ever and knows what she wants when she wants it. The end! There's no negotiating that with her. I love she is so strong willed and independent, but man is it challenging at times! Especially when she's screaming at the fridge for the 800th time and it's only 8:00am and she just ate.

She's 20 months so we have less than 4 months to get this shindig planned :). With her birthday being the end of November our options are limited. She loves animals, so my thoughts are doing an animal themed party. She really likes the book The Barnyard Dance and loves signing Old MacDonald so I think it would be perfect.

I really am not sure where though. Our house is small so I am contemplating doing it somewhere fun, possibly the rec center so she can swim. Unless we move soon! Do you have any thoughts? It won't be anything big but it would be fun to be somewhere where she could have some room.

I really love all these invitation inspirations from Zazzle. I have never ordered anything from there but have heard wonderful things about their products. You also know Etsy is an amazing inspiration in it's self. I need to remind myself she is only 2...but she is only 2 once so why not go all out! I love planning things like this!

I think after writing this I am pretty set on doing the animal theme! It is so adorable! Does anyone have any suggestions on where to get party favors from your favorite shops?

And lastly I want to share some fun pictures Kinley and her friend Patrick at the World of Wonders, Norfolk Botanical Gardens. They had such a blast! The place is absolutely beautiful. We can't wait to go back!

We really had a great time! Hope everyone has a wonderful Friday!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fun in the Sun

I hope you all had a great weekend!! We had a fabulous one! I am linking up with Her Heartland Soul for our Weekend Snapshots. My husbands schedule got changed at work so he worked all weekend but we made the best of it. At least he won't have to work another weekend for 6 weeks...well at least that is what they say. I am not sure I believe it though. They are always finding reasons for him to work.

I had a shorter weekend this weekend due to picking up some hours at work on Thursday. It wasn't too bad but I had a busy day so it was long. Before I came to work I got to meet my friends new baby boy, Finley Grey. Oh man is he cute and giving me baby fever....shhhhh don't tell my husband that. On my way to work I saw a horrible car crash right in front of me! It was so scary and made me remember that you can never trust anyone on the road. It reminded me how thankful I am to have Kinley rear facing; read more here :). Caught these two using the dog as a pillow. Too cute!

After working I had to go to the dentist to get my mouth guard adjusted. Wow that thing is weird. Does anyone have one? Any suggestions on how to get use to it? I forgot to wear it the first two night...oops. Thursday evening I got to enjoys some quality time with my husband which was wonderful. I think Thursday nights are one of my favorites because we actually get to see each other.

Friday we had such a fun day. We went to the zoo and had a blast. The weather was beautiful and we got to see lots of animals. There was a new giraffe that was born the day before, it was really neat to see. After we got home Kinley had a great nap so we decided we would get some frozen yogurt. She is so silly and doesn't really like frozen yogurt which I don't understand why. I think it is more about trying new things she doesn't like. She really doesn't know what she is missing. So she got a bowl full of fruit and was happy as could be.

Saturday I worked all day and the in laws were so awesome to keep Kinley all day since Matt had to go to work also. They also went and got dinner for us. They are wonderful and we are so thankful to have them close. Saturday night was uneventful.

Sunday Matt had to go to work, but we were able to get some family time in before he went. Then Kinley took an awesome nap and her and I had some fun in the sun in the backyard with her water table and sprinkler. And then we made a yummy dinner!! It definitely was a great day!

After this weekend we are really going to try to transition Kinley to one nap. She really hasn't been ready before now but she has really been struggling at bed time. So I am thinking her afternoon nap is interfering with her bedtime. We tried one nap yesterday and it went well! We will see how the rest of the week goes. Wish us luck please! This child of mine has always been an awful sleeper so I am hoping this transition isn't too difficult. It is not helping she is cutting more teeth.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week. We are going to get to see some friends later in the week and then hopefully get down to the Outer Banks this weekend to see my step mom and her family! I am super excited! Happy 20 months to my baby!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Please Consider This - 3 Excuses Busted

If you know me, you knew this was coming. I can't stress how important extended rear facing is! When I say extended rear facing I mean rear facing past the age of 1. I get being able to turn your 1 year old around is a milestone, but people, it is so unsafe. It is 5 times, yes you read that right, 5 times safer for your child to be in a rear facing car seat. If you don't do your research no one tells you the importance of these things. People are so excited to turn their child around at age 1 because it has been such a celebration for so long. But it is not safe; so what are we celebrating. I will be celebrating turning Kinley around when it is safe. Poor girl might go to college rear facing.

I get it. I really do. It is a pain to have your kid rear facing when they are screaming and you can't see them. Trust me I understand. Kinley is not a fan of the car, and never has been! I still sit in the back with her when we all three go somewhere, she is 19 months. It is definitely a pain in the butt but worth it to me. And when it is just her and I we do a lot of singing; and if she is screaming it is short lived compared to what I would have to live with if we were in a car accident. In reality she doesn't know what it's like to be forward facing so you can't argue she doesn't like to be rear facing. Maybe she just hates being restrained in the seat or simply doesn't like the car, or is pissed because there are cherrios and not puffs in her cup holder. Who knows why she doesn't like it. Fortunately for her safety she is not getting turned anytime soon, unfortunate for my sanity :). Small price to pay when I am talking about her life.

Lets talk about some excuses I hear about why people don't keep their children rear facing past 1.

1. My child is safer forward facing after the age of 1.

No they aren't, and I am not sure where you are getting your information from. I understand the law is 1 year and then you can legally forward face your child. Some states are finally increasing the age until 2. I really hope more states follow soon. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear facing AT LEAST until the age of 2 and 30 lbs.  It is frustrating to hear parents say "well my child is big, he/she will be fine forward facing." No your child will not be fine if in a car crash.  It isn't about weight. It is about their bone structure. At one year of age their bones are not fused together. Meaning their vertebra is not connected by bones, cartilage is holding it together. At 2 years of age they are not connected by bone and at age 3 there is only a 50% chance their vertebrae have finished ossification. That's pretty scary to me to be honest. Also their heads are not proportioned to their bodies at this age so if in a crash their heads are going to take the brunt of the force meaning their necks are going to get whipped around which could result in the head disconnecting from the spine.  There is no way I am willing to take that chance, no thank you.

My child's life is priceless. As I am sure yours is too. It takes one second for an accident to happen. This really made me think about this yesterday when I saw a car accident on the way to work. This lady was trying to exit and she was in the wrong lane so she decided she had time to cross lanes and get to the exit. Well needless to say there wasn't enough time and she slammed into the wall head on. She bounced off the wall and was almost hit by an oncoming semi. It happened right in front of my eyes, so close they could have hit me. It isn't about how safe of a driver you are because it's the person next to you that you have to worry about. I would of had no control if she slammed into me too.

2. Extended rear seats are expensive.

Car seats that allow extended rear facing don't have to cost you a fortune. We have 2 seats, and neither were that expensive. I love the My Size 65 by Graco for my car. We have been using it since Kinley was about 9 months old. It wasn't too expensive, about $130 from Babies R Us with coupons, and was super easy to install. Side note....when installing make sure you are not using the LATCH and the seat belt. Use one or the other! But not both. We recently bought a seat for Matt's truck and it was very reasonable, $48 at Walmart. It is the Cocso Scenera Next. It is nothing fancy but it does the job and she can rear face in it until she is 40lbs.  And it is light and easy to travel with.

3. My child's legs will not fit if he/she is rear facing and they will be uncomfortable.

Have you watched what positions your child sits in when they are sitting on the floor? They sit with their legs in many weird positions, but the majority of the time it is very similar to how they will sit in a rear facing car seat. Kinley can fully stretch her legs out touching the back seat with no big deal. She is average for height and I have a small car. She will also sit Indian style and cross her legs. There are plenty of seats out there that offer more leg room if that is one of your worries. Also, there is no evidence that supports more broken legs if your child is rear facing. Again though, I would much rather deal with broken legs over a spinal injury. You can see in the picture Kinley's legs do not look uncomfortable at all.

Car seat safety is such a passion of mine. And let's be honest folks, if you don't do your research you don't know. So research or ask questions! I had very minimal knowledge about car seat safety before Kinley. I knew the basics, nothing more. Since having her I have learned so much and have gotten a full understanding on why rear facing and having them restrained properly (the chest clip goes on the chest, not the belly button) is so important. It's really not that complex, it is their life. It is simple, keep your child rear facing until at least the age of 2 if they meet all the requirements of the seat. If they have outgrown the weight or height limits purchase a seat you can keep rear facing. You have to purchase one anyways so why not do what is safest.

I am so hesitant to say something to someone when they have their child strapped in wrong. I don't want anyone to take it the wrong way. In the end though I would never forgive myself if an accident happened and your child was hurt or died when I could of said made a simple comment. It is not meant to judge you or hurt your feelings. It is meant to save your child's life and honestly yours too if something happened to them. So with that being said I will always say something. I won't say anything about keeping your child rear facing after 1, since that is the law but do your research people. It's is 5 times safer for them to be rear facing, your child is 523% safer rear facing. Isn't that enough for you?

Below is a picture of where Kinley's straps were not correct. This is pretty recent, about 3 months ago. Someone mentioned it to me and I was so thankful! I don't know everything and I keep learning new things everyday. If you are wondering what is wrong with the picture it is because the straps are too far over her shoulders, they need to be sitting directly on her shoulders while she is rear facing.

I love you all and only have your and your child's best interest at heart. So don't take offense if I make a comment, thank me, it could have saved your child's life. We aren't perfect and make mistakes as we are all learning as we go down this parenting road but when making decisions, make them with your child's best interest in mind. If you see my child strapped in wrong please say something! I will thank you :)

You can learn more at Car Seat for the Littles Facebook pages HERE and HERE. This is a fabulous group and you can ask any question and get great honest answers. I have learned many things from them and I am sure will continue to!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

3 Traveling Tips with Littles and Fun Things to do in Baltimore

I know it is almost the weekend again but I wanted to recap our weekend in Baltimore with some fun things to do with the littles and some helpful things to remember when traveling with littles.

We went up to Baltimore to meet one of my good friends. I meet Erin in a mommy group when we were pregnant! Has it seriously been over 2 years since I have known her! Wow amazing! She has a little boy that is about 2.5 months younger than Kinley and let me tell you, they are #BFF.. This was the third time we have seen Erin and Bodie. They live in Connecticut so we try to meet in the middle every few months. It doesn't always work out but we do what we can. It's pretty amazing to have online friends and actually be able to meet in real life.

Below are 3 helpful hints to make your traveling with littles easier.

1. Stay at a kid friendly hotel. 

This is really important to me. Initially we didn't have a pool at our hotel so we switched (thank you Erin for noticing that) and I am glad we did even though we didn't spend much time in the pool; it was good for one afternoon. I think if we were there another day we would've spent more time in the pool. Kinley loves the water and it kills some energy so it's always a good choice. The rooms were fantastic! It was plenty big with room for her to roam. We booked on and I would definitely do it again. The restaurant was great too. It was a free hot breakfast with made to order omelets. Kinley is so picky these days, so having many options was a definite plus!

 2. Bring a carrier

This is my go to for just about anything! I love love love my ergo! We even tried the back carry this trip and she didn't mind it and it gave me a break from her being on the front. It was great to have the carrier when at the aquarium since strollers are not allowed. I was a little confused as to why strollers were not allowed but once I was inside I understood completely.

3. Bring food and water.....and LOTS of it

I am highly suggesting to pack a bag full of snacks and water. Kinley is an eating machine. She is a snacker like her momma! She wants to eat all the time but pick at everything. So having many options is a must for us. I could always buy something where ever we are but the chances of her actually eating what I purchase are slim to none. Did I mention she is picky!

We were not in Baltimore very long but did find some fun things to do while we were there.

I am going to be 100% honest with my opinions on the National Aquarium. Don't get me wrong, the place is a great experience but I do not think it was worth the $40 per person we paid. I was expecting a lot more! Thankfully we didn't have to pay for Kinley since she was under 3. We were only there for 3 hours so I would have been extra disappointed if we spent money for her too.  The exhibits were amazing and there were lots of fish and sharks, I was just hoping for more. There was also a great dolphin exhibit and a jellyfish one too. That's about it folks. I really was expecting a lot more! I was hoping to see some seals or manatees maybe. At this point I am glad I can say we have been there but I will not be visiting there again any time soon.

We wanted the kiddos to burn off some much needed energy before we spent hours in the car! And boy am I glad we did because it took us 6 hours to get home! The kiddos really enjoyed the children's museum and we did too for the price! There were so many things to do I think we could have spent hours there! There was even a play room for kiddos under 3 which was awesome! We got there right when it opened, which was brilliant, because it was getting quite busy when we were heading out the door. Perfect timing on our part!

3. The Big Grassy Area and the Hallways in the Hotel

This one makes me laugh because I think the kiddos had just as much fun running around in the grass and up and down the hall in the hotel as they did at the aquarium or the Children's museum. There was a big hall that lead to a bunch of ball rooms that Kinley and Bodie ran around chasing each other in. It was a great way to burn some energy after dinner, before bed. Kinley loved taking the lead and Bodie rewarded her with kisses. They were so adorable. After we left the aquarium we let them run around in the grass which was great. Again these two are free and I am pretty certain it might have been their favorite activities in Baltimore. Sorry some of the pictures are blurry but these kids were on the go!

We definitely had a great time in Baltimore and Inner Harbor was fun to walk around. I was greatly impressed with the hotel we stayed at, Embassy Suites, and will most definitely be staying there if we ever get back up there again. We always have a great time seeing Erin and Bodie and hope to get to see them soon.

What are some of your kid friendly activities when traveling?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Embracing Life as a Working Mom

When I first went back to work I had the worst guilt ever. I cried driving to work, I cried going to sleep at night because I felt so guilty about going to work. I hated the fact that I was not able to stay home with my baby girl all day long. I was jealous of the SAHMs. I was so sad I would miss out on important milestones that other's would get to witness. I was her mom I should be able to be there for EVERYTHING! Needless to say the best decision for our family was for me to work. So that is what I did. I felt guilty and frustrated that others were judging me because I was not sacrificing other things in life to be able to stay home. Though they really have no idea the sacrifices I was making. Don't people know being a new mom is hard enough and there is no reason to be so judgemental. People really don't understand that do they. It is so very sad to me, us moms need to be supportive of each others decisions and stand by one another.

Us women need to stop being so critical of others and embrace others decision, learn from one another. I would venture to say men aren't judging each other for working and providing for their families. Or talking behind each other's back because they didn't make that cake from scratch or because they were not able to attend the play date due to work. This list goes on and on. Stop judging people! One of my favorite sayings, "You don't know what goes on behind closed doors." You don't know why people make the decisions they make.

Let's fast forward a year and a half. WOW have I really been back at work a year and a half already? I am sure I am still judged for making the decision to work, but that is ok, because at this point I am 100% proud of my decision to work. We have gone through many changes as a family and I have been lucky to start a new job in the process that has benefited our family greatly. At this point I can proudly say I don't have much mom guilt when I go to work anymore. Do I miss my daughter? Of course! I miss her so very much. It doesn't mean I love her any less because I choose to work. And yes that is a choice. I am a firm believer that everyone has choices in life and I choose to work because it is the best decision for our family and I'll be honest; financially me being a SAHM isn't in the cards right now, but if it was I don't think I would choose to do that full time. I would choose to work.

Working, like being a mom, gives me a purpose. I feel needed, wanted and expected, by my husband and my daughter. It gives me a sense of contribution and accomplishment. I also love giving my daughter the opportunity to spend time with her grandparents that she wouldn't get if I was a SAHM. I love being able to give her the space to grow as an individual without me by her side 24/7. She has learned being independent is a good thing.

I am proud to be a working mom! I feel that working and taking pride in having my own interests and goals sets an important example for my daughter. It teaches her that being independent is a good thing. A much needed attribute in today's society. I also feel working and missing her so much makes me a better mom. It makes me really optimize my time with her and cherish every moment I have with her and my husband. I am truly thankful.

It is nice to be able to put on some dress clothes and do my makeup and have adult interactions. Don't get me wrong, I love my yoga pants and no make up days, but there is something to be said about how putting on real clothes and make up makes you feel. Sometimes like a million bucks. The hardest part about being home for 12 weeks was the lack of adult interaction. I enjoy an adult conversation once in awhile that isn't asking my husband when she pooped or how much she didn't sleep throughout the day and how I need a break. We all need breaks, we are humans; we get frustrated and lonely and it is nice to get out once in a while. It is ok!

Lastly work gives me an identity outside of being a mom. If I ever wanted anything in life it was to be a mommy. Though I also got a Bachelors Degree and then a Master's Degree for a reason. I wanted to teach my children ( yes that is plural for a reason, someday there will me more) something. I am proud to be able to teach my child that everyone has a responsibility to contribute to the family. I strongly believe I am doing the best for my child with helping her embrace independence with the support of the best husband ever! I wouldn't be able to do it without him and we know we are making the best choices for our family.

Being a mommy will always be the most important job in my world but I am proud to be a working mom and I am going to embrace every second of it, even on the bad days.

Clearly my daughter is not lacking love or anything else for that matter.

Family photos done by Lori Woodhouse Photography, LLC. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

10 Great Summer Reads

I've really been reading a lot more lately. And I love it! Before I got pregnant I had a really difficult time sleeping. I was prescribed Ambien and took it on occasion, but hated the fact I needed something to help me sleep. I really needed it almost every night though. Then I got pregnant and wow did the insomnia kick my butt! It was so awful.

Anyways....after I had Kinley I decided I needed something to clear my mind at night and help me relax. I had gone that long without any medication that I knew it was possible I just needed to find something that worked. I have read many good books since she was born and seem to fly through them. Time to put that library card to use. I am sharing some good reads I have read so far this summer. I really enjoy mindless reading so I don't have to really think about what I am reading. Hence, helping me relax.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: It took me a little to get into The Girl on the Train. Everyone said if I loved Gone Girl I would love this one. Once I got into it a little bit it was pretty good! I definitely enjoyed reading it. Once you get to the middle it sucks you in.

The Butternut Summer Series by Mary McNear: This is a 3 book series. I stumbled upon it while trying to find something to read that wouldn't cost too much. I really enjoyed the first one. The second one jumped around a little bit and I was hoping it would follow the first one. Then the third one was great again. It was definitely mindless reading, perfect for beach reading. I love those sappy love stories.

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll: I am still not sure what I think about this book. It definitely jumped around from past to present. I'm not going to lie, a few times I was confused as to what was going on. Did I mention I like mindless reading to help me relax :). Sometimes I got so sleepy I wasn't even thinking about what I was reading, and it got me lost in this book. I think overall it was a great read.
The Breathe Series by Elena Dillon: These were great mindless reading books. Drama and a love story all mixed together. There are 3 books then a prequel. 

Currently I am reading Consequences by Aleatha Romig. So far so good! I am really liking this one! It has got me sucked in from the beginning. Always a good sign.

There are a few more on my list but I would love to hear what your thoughts are on some good ones! I am going to need to go to the library because they are getting quite pricey getting them through my nook. What are some of your suggestions?

Happy Monday!

Linking up with Chelsie at Life with Rosie Blog and Ashley at American Honey Blog. Go read about the books they are sharing!

Chapter Chats

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Weekend In Pictures

We had a pretty great weekend, besides all the working we had to do. We were able to get some family time in as well as hang out with some friends.

Thursday Kinley and I hung out and made a festive fruit salad for the BBQ. She helped me cut the stars and dump the blueberries in the bowl. One star for the bowl and one for her mouth. I really should've put a bib on her because she was a mess after cutting and eating watermelon. Not sure what I was thinking.

While she was napping I was able to paint my nails. They looked cute until they all chipped off.

After nap we decorated cookies. I initially wanted to make star cookies but was only able to get a few stars out of the batch. Oh well they were still festive too. She wasn't into decorating the cookies as much as I had thought she would be, nor did she eat as many cookies as I thought she would. What was she thinking! Silly girl. We had such a great morning/afternoon.

It was suppose to start raining but we had BBQ plans and were really hoping the rain would hold out. And wouldn't you know it did....right up until it was time to leave. It started down pouring and we were all still BBQing at the pool. We decided to use the towels and make a run for the car. Kinley thought it was hilarious and wanted nothing to do with the towel I had on her head. We were soaked by the time we got to the car! Rain and all we had a blast BBQing with friends. Kinley had a blast walking in and out of the pool and making friends with the little girl that was there. It was helpful for us to get some adult conversations in while she was occupied. Of course we were watching her like a hawk being by the water. There is nothing that scares me more than unsupervised children around water. It only takes one second! We had such a fun evening. And we were home by 8:00pm. HAHA we are an old married couple with a kid.

She's totally cheesing in that last picture. It is too cute! When I ask her to say smile she says "CHEESE" and closes her eyes. Too cute!

Friday I worked for half the day but then we went to the inlaws for another BBQ. Kinley hung out with Daddy all day and they went to the pet store to look. Kinley almost had daddy talked into another kitty...almost! She even brought them a toy. Kinley loves spending time with her Nanny and Poppy. Poppy has quite the pumpkin patch growing that she loves to look at. We all ate a yummy dinner and had great conversations. After we got home Kinley got a bath and she went to bed, Matt and I enjoyed some time on the couch while watching Orange is the New Black. And yes again we went to bed early. We really are old...or just really smart :)

Saturday I worked all day and got home in time for dinner. Matt had already left for work so Kinley was enjoying some more time with Nanny and Poppy. We truly are so fortunate to have such wonderful grandparents that Kinley can spend time with. They also brought over a wonderful surprise! A water table. They are so silly though. I had mentioned I wanted to get her a water table when we were there BBQing on Friday and what do you know they show up with a water table. Thank you sooooo much! I am sure there will be many hours of fun with that. She is definitely a water baby.

Sunday we did the usual; grocery shopping and meal prepping for the week. More fun with the water table and some much needed family of 3 time. I promise she had a good time on the dragon. She loves that thing!

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July and was safe! Have a wonderful week! By the way, I am loving this pony she has going on. Don't mind all the watermelon on her shirt.

Happy Monday. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Healthy 4th of July Plans

4th of July is fastly approaching! What does everyone have planned for this festive weekend?

Matt and I will both be working the majority of it but that's ok. You've got to make sacrifices when exciting things are in the future! More on that at a later date! 

We will get some fun BBQing with friends before the work filled weekend starts. I was thinking about trying to make a new patriotic yummy dessert for the festivities. I was contemplating putting all these patriotic colors into one dish and creating something yummy. Does anyone have any suggestions?

I'm excited to take Kinley swimming and enjoy some much needed time with great friends! 

Happy Wednesday! Hope everyone has a wonderful day!