Easy Breezy Summer Play Dates

We are so far into summer and it is so hot there aren’t enough popsicles in the world to keep us chill. Even though I am working part-time now, we are still doing our best to keep Luna busy (and exhausted) this summer. Our days at home are spent trying to find and do creative, outdoorsy, social, crafty, not expensive toddler-friendly activities. We’ve managed to keep busy at the house, but lately all I want is to be OUT. The past couple of weeks I’ve compiled some ideas of not only fun away-from-the-home activities, but also FREE away-from-the-home activities!

  1. The pool!

Okay, this first one is debatable…some pools are free. We are lucky enough to have friends and family with pools and a pass to the local rec center that was gifted to us from Grandma. If you know people with pools or have a neighborhood pool, use it! Jumping in a pool of water is just about the only relief you can get in August. Also, invest in a puddle jumper for your littles. We love ours!

little fish
little fish

2. Splash Pads!

There are two splash pads around Nashville. (The second best form of relief in the August heat.) The one in Spring Hill has dozens of interactive sprayers, squirt cannons, fountains and showers. It’s a kid’s summer wonderland. Plus, there is the coolest and newest playground right next to the splash pad – complete with artificial turf and a crazy climbing tower.

The splash pad in Spring Hill, TN
The splash pad in Spring Hill, TN

The second splash pad is actually in Nashville. It’s new, it’s on the Cumberland River right under the Pedestrian Bridge and it’s awesome. There are interactive features, rain curtains, a sand play area, a playground with a rock-climbing wall and more. We can’t wait to go back!

The Nashville spray park
The Nashville spray park

3. Playgrounds!

Luna loves playgrounds, but she is OBSESSED with slides! Or, “shlides” as she calls them. We hit up playgrounds all over the city, but you can find us in Brentwood most often. My child will be the one hogging the slide and piling mulch on the steps.

Luna's favorite piece of playground equipment, "shlide".
Luna’s favorite piece of playground equipment, “shlide”.

4. The public libraries!

The libraries in Williamson Country freakin’ rock. We have story times, craft times, preschool hours, oh and let’s not forget the free books and DVD’s. It’s heaven for both me and Luna. I hope her love of books stays with her for life.

The Brentwood Library
The Brentwood Library

5. Whole Foods! (And other free classes for toddlers.)

Our local Whole Foods has a free kids’ hour every Wednesday at 9:30. It’s a really good hour with local performers, music and dancing. Unfortunately, I’ve started working on Wednesdays so we’ve had to miss our kid’s hour. Whole Foods isn’t the only local place hosting free activities, especially in the summer. For all my local readers, check out Nashville Parent for LOTS of free activities for all ages. And, for my non-locals, check out the local libraries, parks, rec centers, gyms, museums and mom groups. I promise there’s more going on than you think!

What are you doing to keep busy this summer?

Cheers!

Our Toddler Beach Bucket List

bucketlist

Luna recently returned from her second annual family vacation to Hilton Head Island, SC. This summer vacation was a different animal compared to last summer. Last year, Luna was a 6-month old not-crawling-yet baby. This year she is a fearless running wild toddler with a will to jump in deep water at a moment’s notice. Meaning? This year’s beach trip was the best (and sometimes scariest) one yet.

Luna had such a good time that I decided to compile a bucket list of her (well, my) favorite beach activities.

  1. Watch the sunrise on the beach. Luna and I did this a few times because someone likes to wake up at 5am, but one morning we shared a special sunrise time with some of our favorite people and we added champagne.
Champagne sunrise!
Champagne sunrise!

2. Let the littles swim naked. Luna’s favorite skinny dipping time with during the sunrise.

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3. Take lots of bike rides and stay active. We rode bikes every single day around the island, and while it may not look like it, Luna loved being pulled around in her private cart.

She is clearly overjoyed...
She is clearly overjoyed…

4. Buy a puddle jumper and let them swim. Luna LOVES her puddle jumper. She begs to wear it, and I love it even more. Luna went swimming in the pool and in the ocean every single day.

I swear she normally looks more graceful
I swear she normally looks more graceful

5. Get a little dirty. What else would you do on the beach if not play in the sand?

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6. Dress that baby in white and force them to take a photo on the beach. You’ve just got to do it.

classic
classic

7. After the photo, let them just be their silly selves and get that new white dress all broken in.

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8. Finally, spend as much time with your crazy family as possible. Even if it means learning weird new yoga poses. This is one of the few times you are all together and that everyone gets to bond with that toddler of yours. Embrace it and enjoy it.

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Anyone else have any fun beach traditions or activities to share?

Cheers!

Closer to 2 Than 1

My daughter is 18 months and a few days, or “closer to two than one” as a friend of mine pointed out the other day. We had her 18-month well-visit, which was a total sh*t show BTW (Note to self: never EVER schedule a doctor appointment in the middle of nap time.) As we left the check-up her doctor reminded me that he wouldn’t need to see her again until her second birthday. HOW is that possible??? This child is growing at lightning speed and while I hate it and so often just beg time to slow down, I also kind of love it. Luna is the coolest toddler I know and watching her learn new stuff everyday is the best. It makes the whole getting older thing not so terrible.

Aww, sweet thang
Aww, sweet thang

At 18 months she is doing forward rolls, playing with dolls, learning how to listen and kind of sort of follow some directions. While she is still a good eater, she has become pickier. She has started refusing certain foods (like green goldfish, what the heck?) and requesting her favorites…cheese. She LOVES putting things in and out of baskets and purses and then carrying them all around the house. She’s also a huge fan of accessories. Hats, bracelets, necklaces and shoes are all the rage. She has peed in her potty twice (woo!).

ALL the time
ALL the time

stair climber

Her hair is growing, so I can actually put in a bow, which lasts about 7 seconds. I’ve attempted pigtails a couple of times, but I think we both need a dose of Valium to make that a successful endeavor. The girl is obsessed with books and either “reading” them to herself or begging us to read the same ones over and over and over and over. YES. T. Swift is still her fav music and YES “Shake it off” is still our go-to anytime we have an uncontrollable meltdown. She loves being in the water is actually learning to get around in it pretty well.

puddlejumper
Swimming at the beach in Hilton Head.

This summer she has been to the zoo, the aquarium, the beach, Hilton Head Island, Texas, a couple of splash pads, the pool, lots of parks, the library, a few parties and had many trips to Starbucks. It’s always one adventure after another.

water play

JUMP!
JUMP!

She’s still hasn’t mastered the art of naptime or even sleeping through the night, but hey who needs sleep? Can I get an amen Moms? #teamnosleep

"Wait for me Dad!"
“Wait for me Dad!”
Picking fresh berries at Wagner Berry Farm.
Picking fresh berries at Wagner Berry Farm.

AND did I mention my super-advanced little genius has her first joke? Get this, We say “Hey Luna, say “fish””, and Luna says “shoe”. She then immediately cracks up at her own joke. That’s pretty hilarious material, right? I think I’ve got the next Amy Schumer on my hands (Dear God, please no).

On second thought, maybe I just need some sleep.

Me and my girl on the 4th of July
Me and my girl on the 4th of July

Cheers

Climbing

Over the last couple of weeks I have taken a big break from the blog to try and prioritize my life, get organized and even relax a little. This summer I have started a part-time job, a few home projects, traveled, planned more trips and began training for a half-marathon. (Insert shocked emoticon here). Plus, it’s summer and I can’t help but want time to swim, go to the park, drink iced coffee and spend as much time outdoors with Luna as possible. It’s been a great summer, no complaints here, it’s just been a challenge to do it ALL. I just read an article about happiness and how happiness isn’t any achievement we reach, but working towards those achievements. It’s apparently more important to set goals, work hard and dream…or as Miley once said “It ain’t about how fast I get there, ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”. (Too cheesy? Anyone gag?)

So, I’m climbing. Some days I feel as if the peak is in reach and the next day I feel as if the mountain grew another 500 feet. It’s challenging and I learn a bit more about climbing as each day passes, but the best part is when I pause for a second and look away from the mountain. It’s when I look out and around me. I get glimpses of not only what I have accomplished, but of the people around me, supporting me and making memories with me. It’s quite a sight. I’ve done a lot of pausing over the last couple of weeks.

Here’s a few pics of my journey that you may have missed lately.

I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
I got to pet a baby deer by our house!
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Our third wedding anniversary night out. We clean up nice.
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair
Husband and I went through a VERY old box of photos one night and uncovered this gem from our first international trip to the Dominican Republic. #thathair #circa2007
Luna's favorite zoo animal.
Luna’s favorite zoo animal.
Baby's first canoe trip.
Baby’s first canoe trip.
Her new fav pastime...walking around in Mommy and Daddy's shoes.
Her new fav pastime…walking around in Mommy and Daddy’s shoes.
The library, Luna's idea of heaven.
The library, Luna’s idea of heaven.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.
This little diva refused to drink her milk unless served in a Starbucks cup.

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Playing at the splash park with friends.
Playing at the splash park with friends.

Take a look around and enjoy your view too. Keep climbing! I swear I figure out this whole juggling act out someday.

Cheers!

Texas Memories

During our recent trip to Texas, my main goal was for Luna to live it up with her Grandparents and family that she so rarely gets to see. I let her stay up later than normal, eat more junk than I ever let her eat and basically let my parents do everything with her. They fed her, bathed her, played with her, walked with her… which basically means I was on vacation all week. Wahoo! Seriously, though, she had a blast with her Texas family!

Luna spent a lot of time getting messy. There is only a short period of time that a human can run around naked, rub food all over their face, eat dirt and look adorable while doing it. I want Luna to get the most of this time in her life, and I think we’ve been successful so far! One of my fav activities in Texas was one suggested from a friend. We used plain greek yogurt and food coloring to make edible finger paints! It was one big fun and super messy activity. She loved it!

ooooh my, those baby blues
ooooh my, those baby blues
Our sweet cousin had way too much fun playing with Luna and "helping" her paint!
Our sweet cousin had way too much fun playing with Luna and “helping” her paint!
"painting" Luna's face and body
“painting” Luna’s face and body
mmmmmmm
mmmmmmm

I’m sure this will probably set her up for a life-long habit of eating paint, but hopefully she’ll learn the difference between toxic and non-toxic.

We spent a day on the coast with the family and Luna’s boyfriend, Orion, too. Once again, we got a little messy and a little naked.

dirty beach baby baby in water baby butt beach

We made some unforgettable memories in Texas! Luna is one lucky little girl to have so many Texans who love her so much! Can’t wait until next time!

Cheers!

Luna’s Rags

I really really try not to go crazy getting new clothes for Luna, but these cute new styles, shops and designs keep popping up in my Instagram and at some point (usually late at night as I pretend to stay up and write) I lose all sense of control and mindlessly order a graphic tee/moccasins/head-wrap/up-cycled romper and pretend to be surprised when it arrives in the mail a week later. I’m not even sorry. One of my fav new shops that I stalk, always hoping for coupon codes and special offers, is Rags to Raches. Their rompers are totally on fleek. Just take a look.

Photo credit goes to the amazing Dottie Beasley.
Photo credit goes to the amazing Dottie Beasley.

Who doesn’t love a kid in a romper?

kitchen romper

You just can’t handle this much cuteness.

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Dottie Beasley photo.

 

Rags to Raches is an online shop that sells apparel and accessories for men, women and children, but they specialize in the coolest rompers you ever did see. The designs are unique, simple and gender neutral. You won’t see any other romper like them. The fabrics are soft and beautiful and always a great color. It’s great quality, durable, stretchy and there aren’t any itchy tags that you’ll end up ripping out.

outside romper

When my romper arrived I was a little confused by the fact that there were no snaps or fasteners of any sort at the crotch and inner seam of the romper. I was worried that it would be a struggle to get it on and off Luna, especially when it came time to changing her diaper. So, when diaper duty time rolled around I held my breath as I laid Luna down and slowly began pulling the romper over her shoulders. I expected it to stretch out and be an extra challenge added to our process. Shockingly, it was not at all difficult. In fact, it was super easy, maybe easier than pants or anything with snaps. It very quickly slipped down to her ankles and back up when I was done.

Another Dottie Beasley photo.
Another Dottie Beasley photo.

We love the Rags To Raches romper and it’s been a hit everywhere we go too. I’m itching for more rompers! If you’ve got, or know, a little one you must check out Rags to Raches online store and don’t forget to follow them on Instagram for all the latest designs, discount codes and giveaway!

romper buddies

Dottie Beasley photo.
Dottie Beasley photo.

Cheers!

Yes, It’s Hard

beach with family

For the last eight years, I have been asked time and time again if it’s hard to live so far away from “home”, from my family. The answer has always, and will always be, yes. It is not easy to live so far away from my parents, sister, other relatives and many close friends (they are in Texas, I have been all over the place, but currently Tennessee). I miss them constantly, but I also choose where I live for so many reasons (that would be a whole different post). It’s hard, yes, but THANK GOD we make it work. Thankfully, we have phones, texts, video chat, Skype, email, Facebook, etc etc. We make it work, and more importantly, we still make lots of efforts to see one another as much as possible.

side by side

Last week, we were in Texas. Oh how nice it is to go home and be spoiled and loved on by your parents. That’s one plus side of living far away….lots and lots of love and attention when you get together! We drove all night so Luna could sleep and knocked on my parents’ door bright and early at 6:30am. My Mom immediately took over with Luna and told us to catch up on our sleep. If you insist!  She was more than happy to get some much needed quality time with her Granddaughter. I retired to the living room couch where I lightly napped. Between napping, I spied. I spied on Luna and her Honey (my Mom). I spied because I didn’t want to interrupt or spoil the precious moments unfolding before my eyes.

honey walk

The two of them ate breakfast together at the tiny Mickey Mouse folding chairs and table my Mom bought. Honey taught Luna to color, and Luna taught Honey the joy of taking the crayons out of the bag one at time, and putting them back into the bag one at a time…and out…and back in…and so on, and so on. They ran all over the house, keeping each other on their toes. They snuggled in the recliner and watched cartoons. Honey blew bubbles for Luna to chase around in her PJ’s. They loved on each other as if they lived next door to one another and played side by side on a regular basis. I can’t tell you how full my heart felt as I watched them bond.

threesome

There were many many full hearted moments that week. Seeing my parents be Grandparents is really special. I hate that I can’t see it everyday, but maybe it makes it even more special this way, more appreciated, no moment taken for granted. (Though, my fingers are still crossed that they will one day move to Tennessee!) I also got to see my nephew, who I haven’t seen since Thanksgiving! Having my nephew and Luna together was the best!

bath with micah

cousins

Then, there my cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, babies, babies and more babies! Every trip to Texas is a crazy whirlwind of visiting one person after another. There is never enough time to see everyone I want to see or see enough of the people I do get to see. Texas just has too many awesome people living in it! (That’s right, that Texas pride never fades, nor does its modesty.) While we may have been ready to get home and get Luna back on a normal schedule, we weren’t ready to say goodbye.

beach day

beach hat

So, yes, it’s hard to live so far from “home”, but we make it work. While the distance may be hard, staying connected isn’t. Sure, it takes a little work, but doesn’t everything worth anything take some work?

reading with pawpaw

Until next time, Texas…

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Cheers!

A Dream Tee

Before our recent trip to Disney I spent days..weeks..okay, months scouring Pinterest, Etsy and Instagram, hunting for the cutest Disney outfits for Luna. After all, it was her first trip, and I do love buying her adorable Disney paraphernalia. While looking for tees, I came across a shop called The Blue Envelope and fell in love with their “Cinderella” tee.  Lucky for me (and you!) The lady behind the shop, Amanda, and I worked together to bring you a review and a discount code! Woohoo!

My fav! Her dreams are soooo big!
My fav! Her dreams are soooo big!

I loved the shirt too much to wait until Disney to put it on Luna. We had some fun at home putting together outfits with the shirt before landing on the perfect one for Disney.

yellow pants

The t-shirt is super soft, high-quality and adorable. I’ve washed it a few times now, and it has kept its shape and color. Considering, I suck at separating the wash, that’s a very good sign that it’s held up.

A rare sweet moment between these two...
A rare sweet moment between these two…

Then, Luna finally got to wear the top at Disney! It was a HUGE hit. I paired it with her Kickin Legs custom Mickey Mouse leggings, her Nike’s and her H&M hat. She strutted her stuff all over Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and got many compliments.

sucker

So cute and cozy that she fell fast asleep on the Kilimanjaro Safari…

sleepy

Disney was a blast, and I’m so glad I found some great shops to stock up on Disney attire. AND, great news for you… Amanda from The Blue Envelope is offering each and everyone of you a 20% discount on your order! Just use the code DISNEY when you checkout.  Shop here. Sweet!

Daisy

Big thanks to the Blue Envelope, check out her Etsy shop, Facebook and Instagram to keep up with her latest designs.

Happy Shopping and Cheers!

Toddler Tips at Disney

We love taking Luna everywhere, but we were definitely most excited about taking her to Disney World..the place where we met, dated, fell in love, got engaged and got married… it’s a second home to us. Clearly, visiting Disney (any Disney park) never gets old to us. Every trip is a great trip, but going with a baby is definitely a different kind of trip…in a very good way.

Everyone told us to wait to take Luna. They told us she wouldn’t like it, she won’t remember it (so?), it will be too stressful and so on and so on. Being us, we didn’t listen and took her anyways, and I’m so glad we did. Not only did she love it, but we enjoyed every bit of it too. Sure, we didn’t get to ride every single ride we wanted, but who cares. We’ve ridden them all a hundred times anyways. It was worth missing any ride to watch Luna hug Minnie, dance to classic Disney hits, play on every single slide and her eyes light up as she watched Disney Jr. Live. It was magical, as they say.

If you love Disney and want to take your toddler to Disney, do it. Luna was so entertained that she never once had a meltdown, that says a lot. Just take it slowly, make a plan, but don’t freak out if everything doesn’t go accordingly and most importantly, follow these tips:

1. Pack accordingly. Bring a stroller and pack it with snacks, water, toys, bubbles, regular diaper back stuff, a camera, sunscreen and you’ll still have room for souvenirs. Luna napped in her stroller everyday and was soooo nice to have something to carry all of our stuff as well!

*I recommend a stroller fan too!

stroller

2. Let the kids make friends. Disney is packed full of babies, toddlers and kids. Luna is not shy so she was thrilled to run up to other children and see what was happening. It was pretty darn cute to watch the toddlers interact, and kept them entertained if we were waiting in line. While waiting for Disney Jr. Live one adorable little boy gave one of his brand new Mickey suckers to Luna and they were instantly bff’s.

sucker

3. Let them be free. When riding the bigger rides we used Disney’s “rider switch” option, which allowed 2 of us to go on the ride, while one waited with Luna. Then the one who waited go to go through fastpass, and bring one of the previous riders with them. While the one person waited with Luna we just let her run free. It’s her favorite thing to do at the moment. She LOVED running around the parks, looking through the shops, exploring, watching the water fountains and climbing every single obstacle she came across.

running

4. Let nap time happen anywhere.

nap

5. Visit all the kiddy shows and rides that you use to skip. Disney Jr. Live is probably the one show we have never seen at Disney World. I have to admit, it’s pretty cute. I wouldn’t see it on my own, but I loved how much Luna loved it. She was dancing, clapping and totally into the characters on stage. Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog…

clubhouse

6. Take them on rides! There are A LOT of rides that are appropriate for babies! There’s Dumbo, Small World, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, the TTA, the flying carpets and that’s just to name a few! Luna seemed to enjoy the rides too. She was getting fussy right before Dumbo, but the second we started flying she was happy as can be.

flying dumbo

7. Seek shade! Florida is hot. We were worried about Luna (and ourselves) getting sunburned and overheated. Luckily, there are MANY shaded areas to hangout and cool off. One of my favorite spots is “The Seas” at EPCOT. After riding the Nemo ride, we hung out around the aquariums for a while. Luna clearly found it very peaceful.

manatee

8. Use your hotel pool. We never ever spent time at our hotel pre-Luna, but this time around I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and swim. We stayed at Coronado and they have a great pool, baby pool, playground and sandbox area. Luna had a blast!!! I’m pretty sure she still thought she was at Magic Kingdom.

pool

9. Take lots and lots and lots of photos! Your kids will only be this age at Disney once and you are going to want to remember all of those magical moments. We took a good combination of posed and candid photos. I love this moment that Bella caught on camera s we rode the TTA.

tta

10. Be cheesy and pack those Disney outfits. I’m always cheesy, so it’s no surprise that Luna, me and Bella had Disney outfits for each and every day.

minnie baby

11. As I’ve said before, plans do not always go accordingly, and that’s fine! I was really excited about having a character lunch with Luna at Crystal Palace, but Luna fell asleep before we got there and woke up after we left. No biggie, we just got all the characters to pose with the sleeping baby. Plus, I actually got to eat my entire lunch in peace!

pooh

12. Meet some characters.. Let’s be real, Luna does not actually care about them (minus Minnie), so I was not going to wait for hours and hours to meet someone like Elsa. However, it was worth getting a fastpass and waiting 5 minutes to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie on our last day. She wasn’t scared and seemed to like them.

goofey

13. Find the play places. There are quite a few “playground” type areas. The best was at Dumbo. Instead of waiting in line you actually go to an air conditioned indoor playground. They give you a buzzer and it buzzes when it’s your turn to get on the ride. BEST. IDEA. EVER.
dumbo

Hope this helps! Let me know your own tips for going  to Disney with a toddler!

Cheers!

Spreading Some Love

A couple of weeks ago, I had a mother daughter photo session with Dottie Beasley. A friend of mine told me about a “pay it forward” payment plan Dottie recently started offering, and after reading about it and Dottie’s bio on her site, I just had to reach out to her. I knew instantly that Dottie was someone I would want to be around, so I emailed her, asked her to be friends and booked a photo session.

Her “pay it forward” plan is simple. You book a session, do something nice for someone (anything!), take a picture of you and said person, send Dottie the pic with a few sentences describing your “pay it forward” experience and voila! Your photo session is paid in full! Isn’t that incredible? It’s Dottie’s way of spreading love around and making this crazy world we live in a happier place. It’s genius and beautiful.

For my “pay it forward” fee I decided to treat some new friends of mine. You can read about my story here, but to sum it up, I wanted to let my new “mom friends” in my life know I appreciate them. They have given me support, company, sanity and a lot of laughs over the last several months and I am oh so so thankful for them!!! New moms, trust me, you need a great group of Moms in your life.

And, NOW I can share the outcome of my photo session! I love them and I cannot thank Dottie enough for capturing such beautiful candid moments between me and Luna. We literally just danced, sang and played in one of Nashville’s coolest coffee shops, Atmalogy, while she snapped away. Here are some of my favs.

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Romper from Rags to Raches

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Dottie says she wants to take photos of us that hold up a mirror and say ‘Look! You’re awesome! You’re beautiful! And you are loved’. Well, Dottie, that is exactly how these photos make me feel. Thank you for doing what you do and spreading love around as you do it! People like you make this world a happier place.

For any of you locals looking for a photographer, I highly recommend Dottie and suggest you check out her work here and here and here!

Cheers!

P.S. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have mothered, longed to mother or helped mother others. You are heroes!