Friday, August 1, 2014

Bloglovin' {Get with the Times!}

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I finally made the leap and joined Bloglovin'! I'd love if you'd head over there and follow the blog. I feel a little overwhelmed by social media, to be honest. The blog has certainly taken a backseat as I've grown my YouTube channel. I hate that, but I feel like our family is on the verge of some peace, at which time I hope to have more time to devote to my vlogs AND some blogs! I also need to be better about embedding some of my videos here into blog posts because I know there are still a good number of you following along over here!

A little family update: Wren will be 4 in November and Piper will be one this month (what?!?!). My girls are the joy of my life, and life is quite busy! I began a new job about 3 months ago, and we also started a business 2 years ago. I decided to put my frugalista ways into action and we began a children's consignment event. We've enjoyed growing that and have had a ton of fun meeting some other moms and getting some great bargains! Life is crazy, to say the least. This summer has been full of spending as much time with our nephews as we could because they moved to Florida. The girls are so good, and so fun. And so sassy!

Anyway, I just wanted to make a really quick update to let you know that I'm still around. If you'd like to really catch up with us, head over to my YouTube channel. I'm vlogging every day for the month of August and have some really fun things planned!

We'll see you soon, thanks for sticking with me, friends!!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Perfect Gift for a New Big Sister

I received a complimentary copy of Wren's book from I See Me! to facilitate this review.
All opinions expressed are my own and I am not being compensated for my review.

As I was preparing Wren's Big Sister gift, the one that we would give her upon the arrival of her baby sister, I really wanted something that would be personalized just for her and help us instill a sense of pride in her for her exciting new role as Big Sister.

The star of the show in her Big Sister care package was this beautifully illustrated I See Me! Personalized Book: 

Naturally, we chose, "The Super, Incredible Big Sister," book. The great thing about this book is that it is completely customizable and allows you to indicate whether the new baby is a boy or a girl, and you can even include the names of both Big Sister and the new baby. Obviously they also make this in a version for a big brother.

As you can see, the pages are illustrated in a way that is not only really appealing to a little one, but there are also a lot of conversation starters on each page. You can see lots of different little kids in the picture below, and Wren quickly found the little blonde girl and concluded very quickly that it was her in the picture!

The story itself is very simple but also really sweet. One thing that we have made a point to do since Piper arrived was to remind Wren often how much her baby sister loves her. We talk about how funny Piper thinks she is, how much she loves to watch her sing and dance, and how she can't wait to grow up to be big enough so they can play together. We want Wren to be proud of Piper and also proud of herself for being a great Big Sister, and this book really reiterates that focus for us. 

With a high quality hardback cover, and 20 pages full of beautiful, whimsical illustrations, I could not be more pleased with this book. Wren is a big fan as well!

As a momma who has not taken the "normal" approach to names, I am fully aware that we will never be able to walk into a store and find a book or a pencil or a shirt with my girls' names on it. I love that I See Me! offers many great products that can be personalized just for my girls.

I See Me! offers a plethora of personalized books for every occasion...holidays, adoption, back to school, birthdays, and more. Some of my personal favorites are "The Very Important Preschooler," and the classic, "Who Loves Me? Personalized Book." I love that they offer a full tour of each book so that you can see how and where they are individually personalized, and so that you can read the story in its entirety.

They don't stop just at personalized books though! There is also a great selection of puzzles, growth charts, stickers, coloring books, placemats, and more! I've already got my eye on this adorable lunchbox for when Wren starts preschool, and I think this personalized coloring book is going to go perfectly in Wren's Easter basket!

I can't say enough great things about I See Me! While the price point is certainly an investment, the way I look at it is that these are items Wren (and Piper) will have for years to come. I don't ever foresee myself getting rid of Wren's Big Sister book. It's something that I will save for her forever!

I would highly recommend signing up for the I See Me! Newsletter, which you will be prompted to do if you head over to their website. They are always offering fun promotions, discounts, and coupon codes, so if you have your eye on anything for the special little one in your life, definitely get on their mailing list and watch for a deal! They also have special promotions on their Facebook page that are just for Facebook fans, so head over there as well.
Other places to engage with I See Me!:
Pinterest
Twitter
Blog

If you'd like to hear more about why we loved this book, check out my video review here:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Wren's Mermaid Birthday Party


We had a wonderful time celebrating Wren's third birthday earlier this month! We decided to keep it very small and stick to just having her cousins over. I asked what she wanted as the theme and I got a resounding "Mermaids!" response. So I got Pinspired and had so much fun getting creative with the party.
 
I will also link where appropriate, but I will mention that a TON of blogs had similar ideas and I saw a lot of the same ideas in several spots, so definitely check out my Pinterest board to get more specifics.
 
General D├ęcor & Food:
I loved the mermaid fin wall that I saw on Meaningful Mama's blog. I decided to do my own version using lots of glittery, sparkly paper (on sale at Michaels!) and I covered the desk/buffet station wall as the backdrop for the drinks and desserts.
 
Not pictured, I made an altered version of THIS blue punch. It was so tasty and looked adorable inside the mason jars. For the jar toppers, I just roughly drew some circles onto scrapbook paper and then laminated so the liquid wouldn't make the tops soggy.

These clam cookies were so easy. I got the swirl cookies from, of all places, the Dollar Store, and they were actually really good! I used a premade tub of icing, my pastry tube, and some white Sixlets that I got at Party City for the pearls.

I was so pleased with the cake! When I went into the bakery, I had 2 ideas in my mind. One was a cake that looked like the fin wall, similar to Mindful Mama's, and the other was an ombre cake made to look like waves. As luck would have it, the bakery had one of the ombre ones on display and I loved it! I didn't want to cut it! I added a starfish that I got at Michael's, and before we sang to Wren, we added a blonde mermaid to look like the birthday girl. I made the mermaids with some leftover sparkly paper the Life is a Beach Cricut Cartridge.

When I asked Wren what kind of cake she wanted, she didn't care except to say that she wanted pink. You can see her pleased little face when she saw that it was, in fact, PINK on the inside!
 
We had "Mermaid Munchies" of Saltwater Taffy and coral-esque rock candy. We also made "Sea Turtles" that were the simple Pretzel-Rolo-Pecan turtles that are so easy and so incredibly delicious.

We also served "Seashell Pasta Salad," "Chicken Salad of the Sea," which was Josh's homemade chicken salad, and "Crablegs and Seaweed" veggies and dip.
 
 
Activities:

 The first activity was one I didn't see on any other blogs, but it was really fun for all of the kids. All of the parents were nervous about paint on our carpet, but I wasn't worried about that. It was all washable and we didn't have any issues.

Since all but 1 of Wren's cousins are boys, I didn't want everything to be too princess-ish and girly. I wanted the boys to have fun, too, so I decided to get a treasure chest for everyone that they could decorate and then they could go searching for treasure.
I set everything up on Wren's craft table from her playroom. It is low to the ground so we didn't have to worry about chairs for all of the kids. I got a variety of treasure chests (using coupons from Michaels and Hobby Lobby), put lots of paint, Do A Dot Markers, Crayola markers, and some "jewels" that I got in the dollar section of Joann's for the kids to glue on. 


Then when they were done decorating their treasure chests, it was time to go hunt for treasure! This beautiful trunk is one that my Papaw got for me at an auction, and it was the perfect prop for their treasure. I got the sequined fabric at Joann's, and then we added Ring Pops, pearl necklaces, eye patches, Trader Joe's gold coins, candy necklaces, and some huge diamonds and a crown that Josh found. I loved how this turned out, but I didn't get a great picture of what was inside. (If you check out my vlog, you'll see a better view of what is inside.)

We also played "Pin the Fin," which was an free download that I found from the Parties and Patterns blog. What's a birthday party without some sort of "Pin" game?!

Here it is with the fins after everyone had a turn.

This is the best picture I got of Wren's adorable skirt. (Is there a toddler on the planet who actually poses for pictures? Because my girl wasn't having any of it!)

I cannot say enough wonderful things about the Wicked Cute Kidz Etsy shop. She was great to work with and shipped this out so quickly! It couldn't be more adorable.
 
And baby sister got in the mermaid spirit, too!
 
I think that's it! If you'd like to see more, check out my vlog about the party here:



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guess Who?!

Well. It only took me 11 months, but I'm back! A lot (like, a TON!) has happened in the 11 months since I posted.

Mainly, this little beauty:
Piper arrived 10 days early on August 11th after a pretty wonderful pregnancy and an incredible and swift delivery.

She is sweet as can be.

Big sister has adjusted really well. She is so proud of her baby sister.
Wren just turned 3 (I'll be posting pics of her mermaid birthday party soon!) and she is seriously the most adorable little girl. Her imagination is insane. She's still really shy, and very opinionated (read: stubborn), but she is my pride and joy. She's my little fashionista partner in crime as you can see:
 
Anyway, I wanted to make a quick catch-up post. I've appreciated all of the emails I've received asking about us and how things were going. I apologize for the blogging hiatus. I have been very active over on my YouTube channel, so if you want to see more clips of Wren, updates on my pregnancy, etc., head over there!

I've got some fun things coming up here on the blog, so stay tuned! Also, I've made the whole Google+ switch, so you can find me there, too!

See you soon, and thanks for sticking with me! :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wren's Special Announcement

I wanted this to be the first thing I share on my blog in 2013!
We'll be 10 weeks tomorrow.
EDD is August 22, 2013.

More to come soon!

In the meantime, check out this cute video of our little lady announcing that she'll be a big sis.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Preschool Teacher & Classroom Gifts

I had so much fun putting together gifts for Wren's teachers and her classroom!

It's kind of one of those things I've looked forward to forever...and this year it was extra special because Wren helped me pick out every single item we gave them (except the Starbucks card, that was my choice!).

One thing I noticed is that when searching Pinterest, Google, blogs, etc., I kept coming across things for elementary school teachers, not necessarily things focused on Preschool or Daycare. I was hoping to find something creative and crafty that really spoke to them being a Preschool teacher, but I didn't find a ton. So this is what I came up with:
 

I found THIS adorable tutorial for pencils made from Pringles cans, and I went with it. I didn't follow it exactly, but I think they turned out pretty cute! I would've pulled out my Cricut, but it is currently shoved in a closet while I try to get my craft room organized, so I had to settle for handwritten.


Then, Wren and I went shopping!

Here's what we included:
{$10 Starbucks Giftcard}
{Essie Nail Polish, color "a list"}
{Lip Gloss, Bath & Body Works}
{Shea Cashmere Hand Lotion, Bath & Body Works}
{Cozy Socks, Old Navy}
{Mini Toblerone Chocolate Bars}
 
In total, I spent just under $25 per teacher, which was my goal.

~~~~~~~

I also put together a little gift for the classroom. Every teacher friend I've ever known has spent a great deal of their own money on supplies for their classroom, especially for the crafty activities. However, I wasn't sure if that was the same for preschool teachers. After all, we pay a pretty penny for Wren to go there-I know they have a budget. But after asking around on Facebook, many of my friends who are currently, or have at one point been, preschool teachers confirmed that they have *always* spent their own money for supplies.

So I budgeted to spend about $25 on a classroom gift as well.
Here's what I came up with: 

To make it extra Christmas-like, I took a simple red bucket (bought at Hobby Lobby w/ 40% off coupon), added a black felt belt, and used a sparkly silver felt page to make a belt buckle. I had the beard material on-hand from a wreath that I'd hoped to make last year, so the only cost for the packaging was the bucket. Then we picked up a bunch of classroom supplies I thought they'd use.
 

Inside, I included:
{Colored Pipe Cleaners}
{2 Paint Packs}
{2 Packets of Stickers}
{Pack of Colored Construction Paper}
{Markers}
{Crayons}
{Finger Paint}
{Elmer's Glue}
{Cotton Balls}
 
I had hoped to include a couple books because toddlers are so hard on them, but I didn't find anything that worked well within my budget.

They were all really excited for their gifts and Wren was happy to give them their special presents.
It's definitely the least we could do to show our appreciation to the sweet ladies who take such great care of Wren, teach her so many things, and give her lots of love while we're at work.

Wishing you all a beautiful holiday filled with laughter, family, memories, and lots of tasty treats and presents!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

15 Take-Alongs for Traveling with Toddlers

Last June, we took our family vacation to Kiawah Island, SC. Wren was about 19 months old at the time. Because we planned to drive, I decided it was important to be SUPER prepared with lots of activities that would help us avoid boredom, thereby avoiding tantrums. On the way there, we split up the trip into 2 shorter days of travel (6-7 hours each day), but at the end of the trip, we were having such a great time that we decided to stay an extra day and do the drive home in 1 day.

13 Hours. In the Car. With a Toddler.

Luckily, my MIL was in the back with Wren and I, so we could tag team on the entertainment, but I am proud to say that we did not have a SINGLE meltdown.

Let me repeat that for you:


Not a Single Meltdown During a
13 Hour Car Ride with a Toddler.


And to prove that it wasn't a fluke, Wren and I flew to Seattle alone the next week, which was a 4 1/2 hour flight. And not a single meltdown during that trip either, though I didn't take all 15 of the items I will mention, just her faves.

Because I put so much time and research into deciding what to take, I decided to share it with you all. I thought now would be a good time since so many people are on the road for holiday travel.


Being prepared made for such a pleasant experience.
I will start off by saying that we obviously had lots of food, some special "treat" snacks that she wasn't used to geting, and her favorite buddy, Paddington.


I wanted everything to have its own spot and be contained so that we could move effortlessly from one activity to another without her being overwhelmed and without the car getting destroyed, so I went on the hunt for inexpensive zipper pouches that had a clear window. I opted for the ones shown above, which were $1 from Walmart.

Next up, I decided that I'd need a large container for all of the activities. I opted for my Large Utility Tote from ThirtyOne (they are so incredibly versatile!), which was big enough to store everything, but small enough to fit between the seats under Wren's carseat. (She was-and still is-rear facing.)

Next, it was onto what would go into the pouches and the tote...
I googled, I pinterested, I got creative.
Here's what I came up with:

1. Finger Puppets. (Most of ours are from IKEA.)

2. Flashcards. My favorites are from Lakeshore Learning, but I also added in a few packs from the Dollar Store. We had 3 packs total.

3. Chalk-n-Doodle. You heard why this thing is amazing in THIS post.

4. STICKERS! Wren is still obsessed. I grabbed a small lined notebook from the $1 section at Michael's, along with about a million sticker pages and booklets (mostly from the $1 section at Target and during super clearance sales after various holidays). These made the cut for the plane ride, too!

5. Magnetic Writing Board (aka Etch a sketch). We picked this one up for $5 on sale at Lakeshore Learning.

6. Magnetic Letters. TIP!: Grab a cheap cookie pan to take along. This came in so handy for the magnetic letters, but also for her to put her coloring books and paper on so she could write and color (without having crayons go everywhere).

7. Storytelling Glove and Puppets. Also from Lakeshore Learning (I swear this is not a sponsored post, we just happen to love that store!), these storytelling gloves and accompanying puppets are a fun way to tell stories and let the little one take part.

8. Foam Shapes. These were great for working on colors and shapes and gave her something small to squeeze and play with. Found in $1 section at Target, though you can usually find them at any craft store.

9. Coloring Books & Crayons. TIP!: Pick up a set of these triangular crayons. They're nice and big for toddlers to grip, but the shape also means they don't slide and roll around. These are great for restaurants, too!

10. Color Wonder Coloring Pads & Markers. These are fabulous for the car. The clear marker won't show up if they drop it or write on themselves or the carseat.

11. Quiet Book Pages. I talked about the Quiet Book Page Swap I took part in HERE. These were fun to take along and Wren enjoyed the different activities within each page.

12. Books, Books, Books. We took along about 8 books. A few were ones that Wren was really into at the time, and the rest were ones that I knew she'd love but I waited to break them out until the trip. I included a couple Look and Find books that were basic enough for her to search for items, but I knew they'd keep her attention for a bit.

13. Toddler Wallet. I took one of my old used wallets and filled it with all sorts of fun surprises. Used giftcards, old hotel room keys, some business cards, pictures, and interesting little baubles. This also made the cut for the plane ride!

14. DVD Player. This isn't pictured, but we had a DVD player with 2 movies for her to watch. At the time, she hadn't ever seen a movie, so I didn't plan on it holding her attention for long, and I was right. But it did give us 10-20 minute spurts of downtime from having to entertain her when she was awake.

15. iPhone. Also not pictured, but this was used as a last resort. We have tried to limit her use of phones and computers, but she did enjoy the flashcard app that I had as well as flipping through my photos, and watching short YouTube clips of babies or animals. During our trip to Seattle, my friend Megan clued us in to the fun app, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox, and it continues to be Wren's favorite app. I'm actually on the hunt for some good ones, so if anyone has suggestions, please share!

I hope this was helpful! Safe and happy travels!

Let me know if there are items you would add to this list...I'm always on the lookout.

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