Thursday, August 14, 2014

Isla and Maisy's Pool Party // Heather Rogers Review & Giveaway

Prepare yourselves for a picture overload.  We threw the girls a joint pool party because their birthdays are four days apart and ain't nobody got time for two parties in two weeks.  I made mention of this in an instagram post and got a great response- gone are the days of my Pinterest birthday parties.  It's not that I don't enjoy looking over my handmade crafts and coordinated finger foods with pride, it's that I quickly realized that there is literally no one else who appreciates those things as much as the planner.  The effort to feedback ratio is terribly lopsided.  What's more?  I've learned that the less I plan, the more I actually enjoy the day of.  

With all that being said, we went super low key for this joint party.  We reserved the pavilion at our community pool, I grabbed the basic tableware and favors at Target, we ordered two cakes straight from the book at BJ's, and we picked up ballons and Hot-N-Ready pizzas the day of.  I did also chop up some fruits and veggies and we obviously had water, juice pouches, and sodas in a cooler.  The end.

That setup?  Party of the year according to Isla.  She was adamant about having a "Kitty Cat" party and the excitement was turned up to level 10 once we picked up decorations and went to order the cake.

Although it was a joint party, this was more about Isla given that she actually knew what was going on.  One year olds don't care so we let Isla pick what she wanted and just went with it.  We had a slight glitch initially after forgetting her floaty, but Jeff ran back home to grab it and all was well.

Big brother Dominic was just happy to get to spend a couple hours swimming and hanging out with all the boys.  In our group of friends there was a wave of boys around when Dominic was born and then a wave of girls around when Isla was born, so even the girls' parties mean he gets to see his friends.

See these awesome cakes below??  I swear it up and down- BJ's has the tastiest cakes.  We always get the marble with the chocolate fluff in the middle and the whipped topping icing.  Mmmmm.  Every party.  Super simple and cheap.  Never will I try to make a birthday party cake myself again... or order a specialty cake from a bakery for that matter.

Maisy was oblivious but happy!  We lucked out with extremely mild weather so we were able to enjoy being outside even though it was August.  She looked downright adorable in the one thing that made it clear it was her day too: a personalized onesie by Heather Rogers Designs.  I've always gotten my kids a special shirt to wear on their first birthdays and was excited to do the same for Maisy!  

I went with a simple block number and whale design in a size 12 month onesie.  I am always so nervous about ordering clothing online because you can never be sure about sizing.  I was really happy to see that the design was printed on a Carter's brand onesie and fit true to size.  The printing was *in* the fabric, not a thick ink sitting on top, so the onesie remained flexible and soft.

Maisy is really on the go!  She wants so badly to walk.

We almost had the entire pool to ourselves.  So nice.  The kids all had a really great time.  After swimming for a bit we did pizza, then swimming again, then cake!!

I just love this picture and these little happy kids.  I think we told every one of them at some point to keep their fingers out of the cake.

I love this picture too.  It perfectly describes her.. sweet and quiet as long as I'm holding her ;)

And my silly big kids..

My little and big.. side note- can we stop and address how old Dominic looks in all of these pictures?  Maybe I shouldn't linger on that.  He looks like he's getting ready to borrow the car (van mwahahaha).

Maisy the little piggy wasted no time diving into her slice of cake!  She did wonder why everyone was watching her eat though.  I'm glad my husband humored me and took plenty of pictures when I couldn't.  He understands my madness.  I also can't thank our friends and family enough for coming to celebrate our girls.. and helping me out to keep the party running smoothly.  We're so lucky.

I'd like to thank Heather Rogers for reaching out to me and offering me this adorable personalized onesie to review.  It was perfect for Maisy to wear on the most special of party days.  Even more, she's offering one of my readers a $25 shop credit to order personalized items for yourself.  You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!  Winner will be randomly drawn on Friday 8/22.  Good luck :)

*Disclosure- I was provided with the personalized onesie for review purposes.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Maisy is ONE

Our youngest baby isn't such a baby anymore!  

Maisy Elizabeth turned one at the end of July.  She's such a lovey girl and it's been bittersweet watching her grow into a happy and silly toddler.  

The Stats:

-She's 19 lbs 8oz and 29" tall (my biggest one year-old believe it or not).

-She had a whopping TEN teeth by her birthday, and she's already gotten number eleven in the two weeks since.

-She's "cruising" around furniture and walking holding our hands but not independently yet.  This is to be expected, I've yet to have a child walk by 12 months.  If I had to predict I would say she'll most likely fall somewhere between Isla (who walked just a few weeks after her birthday) and Dominic (who walked at 16 months).

-She is VERY verbal, following after her brother.  We noticed super early on that she would imitate the sounds and faces we made.  She says the basics "mama", "dada", "no no", "yay", "wow" along with a super cute "this!!" when she sees something she wants to eat or drink.  She says those things unprompted and will make many other word sounds by following us.  She also can semi-follow the ABC song's main points.  haha.
-She claps and waves.

-Aaaaaand she dances.  It's adorable.  She's always doing some sort of wiggle or bounce.  She will dance to anything- whether its a song on the radio, a commercial jingle, or someone's cell phone ringing.  One of these days I'm going to catch her moves on video.

-She's still just as blond and blue eyed as ever.  Everywhere we go it seems like someone stops to exclaim how much hair she has for it being so light.  All of my kids have had a lot of hair, so it seems normal to me!

On her actual birthday we just had a tiny little celebration for her.  We took her to eat at Chick Fil A (only the best for my baby) and brought a little ice cream cake with us for dessert.  My mom came too.  We had already planned a joint pool party for both girls the following weekend, but wanted to do something to mark her actual birth date.  

OBVIOUSLY Isla is still recovering from "the hair incident".

As she gets older, we're actually seeing less and less of her signature #grumpycat face.

Happy Birthday, sweet Maisy!!  It seems like just yesterday we were meeting you for the first time..

..and yet it feels like you've always been a part of our family.  You made us complete and we love you!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Medieval Times Maryland

Last month we took a break right in the middle of moving to spend a night out together as a family.  With all the chaos that is currently our life, it was definitely needed.  We took a short trip up to the Medieval Times Baltimore/DC Castle for an exciting dinner and show!  Neither Jeff or I have ever been to a Medieval Times show so we really weren't sure what to expect.  My friend Kaley has been several times and her boys love it, so I was especially excited to take Dominic.  

We arrived shortly before the show time and waited at the box office to pick up our seat assignment cards.  I was surprised to see just how many people were already there waiting, but luckily the line moved quickly and soon we were inside.  We took a commemorative photo with the Castle Princess and snapped a couple quick photos of our own.  Jeff noticed several people walking around with large mugs of beer and we were both happy that adult beverages were available.  Just saying..!

Dominic was really getting excited at that point.  People were walking around in costume, there were swords, he was wearing a crown that the guy at the front specifically told him was a *king's* crown.  It was only a short few minutes before our color and section was called to sit.  We filed into our front row seats (thanks Medieval Times!!) and got settled.

All three of my kids loved the show, but each for different reasons.  Dominic was jumping up and down cheering for our Green Knight during the competition.  Isla was a little overwhelmed at the volume (it really wasn't too loud, but it took a little while to get her to warm up) but LOVED the horses.  She's really in love with horses right now and she was mesmerized.  Maisy cracked us up most of all.  She clapped nonstop the entire time and I'm not even exaggerating.  Too cute!

We were right in front and below the castle!  Great view.  I would highly recommend getting to the show early to try to get the best seats possible.

We were really happy that each kid had their own spot.  Though you technically can hold a child under 3 on your lap, we both said we couldn't imagine trying to eat and enjoy the show while holding the girls (Isla was also still under 3 at the show).  Any future show we attend, I'll definitely spend the extra money for a ticket for Maisy.  It's worth it because any leftover food can be packed up and taken home.

The food was great!  Jeff and I were both stuffed.  The kids really only ate the bread, a little soup, and a little potato.  Maisy tried the chicken as well.  They are super picky so I wasn't surprised... that and I think they were a bit distracted by everything going on in front of them.  We just packed their food up and took it with us.  

The show was really fantastic!  I was surprised at how skilled the riders were and was impressed by the jousting.  Our Green Knight made it to the "finals" but did not win overall.  Boo.  HOWEVER, he did win in Isla's book as he stopped right in front of us to hand her a red flower.  Her Knight (see what I did there?) was totally made.  She insisted that we put her flower in water when we got home.

Look at me enjoying my tasty and historically accurate beverage- a pina colada!  ;)

Overall we had an awesome time!  I bought our group photo to mark the occasion.  I'm so glad we got to experience such a cool dinner show all together as a family.  Dominic is already asking when we can go again!  I'd like to thank Medieval Times- Baltimore/DC for hosting my family and showing us such a great time!

You can visit Medieval Times online to find a Castle near you and purchase tickets for your family.  Be sure to follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for the latest promotions and events.

*Disclosure- our family was provided admission to Medieval Times- Baltimore/DC.  Extras including photo and alcoholic beverages were purchased by us.  All opinions are honest and my own.*

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Splish Splash- A Boon Bath Toy Review

Recently I got the opportunity to review some new and innovative bath toys from Boon.  We love Boon products so I was excited to give these a try!  

We received both the FLEET stacking boats and the ODD DUCKS.  

[pinky up! Maisy thinks FLEET boats taste pretty great too.]

The FLEET stacking boats are designed with wells on the top for pouring and can be turned upside down to drain, creating a "rain" effect.  The most useful feature though is that these are nesting boats.  They fit nicely inside one another to store.  I appreciate this because we have a limited amount of space.  These boats are Isla's favorite of the two toy sets.  She's very much into carefully pouring water from one boat into the drain well of another.

FLEET stacking boats come in a set of five for $9.99 and are available online at & in-store and online at Buy Buy Baby.

The ODD DUCKS were my personal favorite and I think Maisy was partial to them as well.  ODD DUCKS are a set of four PVC-Free floating ducks that are all different sizes and colors.  Aside from the cuteness, I was mostly impressed by the fact that these ducks do NOT hold water.  I'm pretty sure every mom knows what I'm talking about here.  How many tub toys have you thrown away because of that icky mold that starts growing inside?  Probably too many to count.  Gross.  These ducks are completely sealed so I don't have to worry about stagnant water trapped inside.

The ODD DUCKS set feels very durable and is sure to last a long time.  

A 4-pack of ODD DUCKS is $24.99 and also available online at & in-store and online at Buy Buy Baby.

The girls love their new Boon bath toys, and I'm sure you will too!  You can always count on Boon to provide modern, stylish, and useful kid products.

*Disclosure- Boon provided us with these fun bath toys to facilitate this review.  All opinions are my own*

Friday, July 18, 2014

Cabana Life Review & Giveaway

I'll start this review by stating the obvious.  Our youngest daughter, Maisy, hit the recessive gene jackpot.  This blue-eyed, white-haired beauty was born into our predominantly Italian family.  Though not a total mystery (Jeff and I each have one blue-eyed parent), she is just so different from our first two children.  Something else obvious since birth- super fair skin.  Fair skin is something I just haven't dealt with much.  Sure, we apply sunscreen to our other kids.  But I've never thought to myself, "gosh it's really sunny out.. maybe I shouldn't take them with me to the mailbox."  Until now.  

She's extremely prone to sunburn.  We have to be vigilant about keeping her protected.  Even with SPF 50 I felt like the hand-me-down bathing suits from Isla weren't really ample.  We spend a lot of time at the pool and I felt she needed a bit more protection.  While searching for rashguard sets I came across

Cabana Life offers stylish swim suits, rash guards, cover ups, accessories, and beachwear for the whole family.  I was absolutely thrilled to get to put Cabana Life's 50+ UV protection to the test!  

Can I just say that I'm bordering obsession over these coordinating suits?  Maisy got the Mod Squad rashguard set and Isla got the Mod Squad 1 piece and cover up set.

I ordered Maisy the rashguard in size 12-18 months.  I was a little worried that it might be hot because the sleeves were a bit longer than the typical short-sleeved rashguard sets we've used in the past.  When I opened the package I was actually shocked at how soft and airy it was.  I knew we wouldn't have any temperature or constricting issues.  Another plus I didn't even anticipate was the button closure around the collar.  Sometimes getting fitted fabric over a baby's head can be difficult... and let's not forget that it often has to come off while wet.  Being able to unbutton it made changing her easy.  The sizing was spot on.  The bottoms were secure but I anticipate she'll be able to wear it for a while.  

I ordered Isla the matching 1 piece and cover up set in size 3T.  The swimsuit is the same super light and breathable material as the rashguard.  The style of the suit is just adorable.  The one-shoulder look.  THE RUFFLE.  I'd say the suit runs true to size, perhaps slightly small.  She is a fairly petite 3T and it fit her perfectly.  Most of her other suits that are size 3T are actually a little big, for reference.  If your child is in between I'd recommend going up one size just so you can be sure to get plenty of wear out of their suit.  Bonus- this was a set that included a terry cover up.  Isla absolutely hates wet clothing so once she's done swimming, she wants her suit OFF.  I know most people would probably use the cover up over top of the suit, but we used it as a suit replacement ;)

Cabana Life has been featured in multiple magazines including People, Shape, Marie Claire, Glamour, Babytalk, and many more.  Now one of you will get the opportunity to shop with a $50 store credit!

*Disclosure- I was provided with a store credit to shop and order the girls' suits for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A New Start: Leaving Our Townhouse

I mentioned in a previous post that we were packing our things in moving boxes- so this is a little explanation of why and what our future holds.  My husband and I bought our townhouse just over six years ago during our first year of marriage and just after we found out we were expecting Dominic.  It seemed ok for us at the time.  It has three bedrooms and we figured we'd live in it for a few years, sell it, and buy something bigger as our family grew.  Unfortunately as the housing market crashed, a "few" years max turned into a much longer stay in a home we quickly outgrew.  In addition to being a family of five, now Dominic is getting ready to start kindergarten in public school.  The elementary school we are currently zoned for is not so great.  So we started to evaluate our options..

After speaking with a trusted Realtor, we don't feel this is the right time to sell.  There is a good chance we wouldn't even be able to sell it for what we owe.  We started going over comparable rental units in the area and realized that putting our house up for rent could actually generate some income as opposed to being a drain.  But where would we go?  With the positive news about the rental came the bad news that it would be difficult for us (on one income) to obtain an additional mortgage without someone already leasing our first home.  After talking it out with our families we decided to move all five of us into my in-laws home.

Our plan is to move out of our townhouse, fix minor details, apply fresh paint, and list it for rent.  Once we have renters in we will begin looking for our next home.  During the "in between" we'll hopefully be able to save a little for closing costs and things that may need to be done initially to the new house to make it ours.  Not going to lie, this whole situation gives me anxiety.  And I'm already anxiety girl.  I am anxious about being financially responsible for two homes on one income.  I'm anxious about finding a decent renter that won't destroy our house.

But more than any of that, I'm anxious and torn about leaving our first home.  This is where we built our family.  Three times I left this house big and round, returning with a tiny pink baby to be carried through the door.  This is the only home my children have known and we've made so many memories here.  Though it's too small for us now and not in a great location, there are great things about it.  Besides the emotional attachment, we've redone pretty much every square inch of it in the six years we've lived here.  Every floor is new, both bathrooms and the kitchen have all been gutted and remodeled. 

And there's this...

Right behind our house is a large pond that's home to a flock of ducks and geese.  We've had countless walks around this lake, always with bread or crackers in hand.  Our favorite duck even lived in our front yard for a few weeks last summer when he was recovering from an injury.  

We also live across the street from our neighborhood pool!  So nice in the summer.  Luckily there is a neighborhood pool just a short walk from my in-laws house too, so for now we still have that.

The elementary school Dominic will be attending is a bit better too.  That gives me some relief and peace in all of this.  Though it will be a bit hectic and odd to not have our "own" space for a little while, I know we will be better off in the long run.  Send happy thoughts as we prepare to hand our home over to strangers (eek!) and while we look for a bigger and better place for us.

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