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!

Choices

This week I started a new part-time job, not for fun, not for career advancement, not out of boredom (God, no), but simply because some extra money around the house would be useful. Going back to work, even part-time, became a huge life decision for me. My simple need to make some extra cash brought up questions about my career, success, future, retirement, preschool choices, resume and goals. It’s been hard enough to feel successful as a stay-at-home Mom, but now I was questioning if a part-time job is considered good enough… Should I be using my degree? Should I look for something with career advancement possibilities? Will this look good on my resume? Should my happiness and sanity be considered?

While debating and making my pro/con lists, I did what I always do when faced with a tough decision and discussed it with my Mom. She listened patiently as I rambled on about my options. I said to her “I do no want a full-time job right now. I love staying home with Luna, but my one worry, is that I will look back in 5 years and regret not taking the job that will help advance me in my career.” She stopped me right there and said, “No. You will only ever look back and regret not spending more time with your daughter.” That, right there, made my decision for me. That reminded me that my career is not my life, nor is it my meter of success, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

children

 

Then, because she always seems to know what I need to hear, Momastery posted this. This was the exact reminder I needed. My success is not dependent on if I work full-time, part-time or stay at home with Luna. I find success daily, in how I raise Luna, care for my family, treat others and lead by example through whatever I am doing. Today, I am a part-time working Mom, one day I may be a full-time working Mom, or perhaps a stay-at-home Mom to four kids, or a principal, or a writer, or a zookeeper. My roles will change, but my character will remain the same.

character

Right now, my role of Mom to Luna is by far the best damn role I’ve yet to play. It’s time I lay my insecurities and others’ opinions on what I should or should not be doing to rest. I hope one day Luna will look to me as an example of someone who followed her heart and did her best do what is kind, courageous and right, and I hope she does the same.

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.

HZ-8-BW
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!

Newsies on the Road

Newsies_(musical)_poster

I saw Disney’s Newsies the musical for the first time during opening week on Broadway in New York. I never knew much about the show and it blew me away. What I remember most about the show was the phenomenal dancing, all male dancing. There is something very powerful and mesmerizing about all those guys spinning, leaping and flipping in unison. The dancing is what I looked most forward to when I got the invite to review the show at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

It did not disappoint.  I can’t tell you how many times the choreography gave me chills. It was honestly better than I remembered. Seize the Day had me wanting to run from the theater to start changing the world for the better, while simultaneously completing insanely difficult dance moves and acrobatic tricks. However, the dancing wasn’t the only part of the performance that had me moving. This time the lead girl, Katherine, truly resonated with me.

I’ve been slacking on work lately…. Even after 16 months I can’t seem to juggle stay-at-home Mom/blogger/tutor/what have you. (Although, I have discovered many other bloggers secret: a babysitter. I should really look into those…) In any case, the female star of Newsies, Katherine played by Stephanie Styles, is a true hardworking, witty, stand-up for what is right, seize the day kinda gal. She’s basically a Lorelei Gilmore for the 19th century, and I adore her. In fact she’s this week’s #wcw.

playbill

Her character, which doesn’t even exist in the movie, is a super cool girl that you not only want your daughters to look at as a role model, but that you yourself will look up to and love. There are a few notable changes between the movie and the musical, and in my opinion, they improved the show, especially with Katherine’s character. It’s nice to have the strong woman who can hold her own in the almost all male cast.

play

Speaking of the male cast, they are bursting with talent. Yeah, they can dance their asses off, but they can also sing as well as any other musical cast, act and entertain an audience that ranges in age from preschoolers to senior citizens. Husband and I were both impressed and entertained from beginning to end.

date night

If you want to see Newsies in Nashville, you have a few nights left to catch it! For those of you outside of Tennessee, don’t forget to check out their tour schedule. AND, for all the locals you MUST take a peek at the line up for next year’s Broadway season! I am stoked!!!

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!

I Conquered Everest! (The race, not the mountain)

As you may have heard, we went to Disney World a couple of weeks ago and IT WAS AWESOME! We have been dying to go to Disney since having Luna, and we found the perfect excuse to plan a trip: a race. Several months ago, we signed up for the Expedition Everest Challenge. So, not only did we get to spend 4 magical days at our home away from home, but we also got to experience a magical run and after party. I think Disney runs might be my new obsession!

run disney

The Expedition Everest Challenge is a 5k through Animal Kingdom at night with obstacles and a scavenger hunt! I’ve got your interest, right? It was an extra special race because it was the 8th and final challenge. Why? I’m not sure, but I believe it has something to do with the Animal Kingdom expansion… Anyways, to prepare for the run we picked out Winnie the Pooh themed costumes. I was Pooh, Bella was Piglet and Husband was Christopher Robin. (BTW, I don’t know if Husband will ever allow me to dress him in costume for a race again… apparently Christopher Robin isn’t super cool. Whatevs. It could’ve been worse, my original plan was the three kittens from Aristocats.) We also prepared by doing Insanity Max 30 and running almost never. It’s so hard to stick to a running schedule, am I right?!

kittens
You’ve got to admit, it’s a cute idea!
Here's what we went with instead...
Here’s what we went with instead…

our group

Even without running we totally kicked butt! We ran our fastest 5k ever at 22 minutes and 51 seconds! Husband placed 15th out of individual men, Bella placed 7th and I placed 8th out of individual women. I am super proud of us, and impressed with Insanity Max 30 for keeping us in good shape. It was very intimidating to start the race in the first heat. We were surround by individuals and teams who have placed or won the challenge in previous years. Some had run every single year. We were shaking in our tutu’s, but we managed to keep up with the pack and it was a blast!

Before the race began
Before the race began

We ran through the parking lot, through the park, through three (albeit mediocre) obstacles and across the finish line. At the finish line we were handed the usual bottle of water, a cool towel and a clue! That’s right, the challenge was only halfway over. We were to solve the first clue, run to the second, give the correct answer, receive the second clue and so forth. It was not easy to keep running, but we pushed through it and took a few breaks to solve some serious clues. There were a total of 6 clues and at the second finish line we had to hold up the “hidden Yeti” with our 6 solved clues in order to cross and receive our medals. It was exhilarating and so much fun!

We did it!
We did it!

Then, the after party. We celebrated at the post-race private after party in the park. The Dinoland and Asia sections were open for us to enjoy. There were characters, open food and drink stands and rides! Yay, for rides with no lines! We rode Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids. It may have been a mistake to get soaking wet on the rapids considering it was chilly out and night time, but it was still worth it to be in Animal Kingdom at night during our own private party.

We conquered Everest!
We conquered Everest!

We didn’t get back until almost 2am. (Wild night for us lame parents.) After spending the entire day at Magic Kingdom and running all night we were EXHAUSTED! It was definitely a night to remember. In fact, it was such a good time that we are already planning our next Disney Run: The Disney Princess Half Marathon!!! (And, by “we” I mean me and Bella. Husband is thrilled to be the babysitter.) Who’s with me???

There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.
There were characters all along the course cheering us on and Mickey and Minnie were at the after party.

Also, who has advice? I am SO not prepared. Good thing I’ve got 9 months to whip myself into running shape!

Cheers!

Making the Best of Any Situation

foam glow
Our before pic

Another weekend, another run. We typically do one glow each month, but May is special so we did two runs! The Disney Expedition Everest Challenge (blog to come) and the Foam Glow 5k in Nashville. Saturday night was the Foam Glow run and we had our biggest group yet! We ran with 9 of our friends, and while the race was a complete disappointment, we still had the time of our lives.

The start
The start

Let me do you all a favor: do NOT sign up for the foam glow run when it comes to your town! It was such an unorganized mess. It was impossible to actually run because of the crowds, mess, darkness and a myriad of other issues, and it was not nearly what they advertised. Having said all of that…we still had a great night.

lined up under the black lights and ready to go!
lined up under the black lights and ready to go!

Here’s why, we were with awesome people and we made the best of a disappointing situation. We went all out with our white clothes and glow gear, and I’m always happy when I get to dress up in some form or another. While waiting in the crowd of 15,000 people, we started a trend of breaking our glow sticks open and splattering them all over our clothes. (BTW, it burns if it gets in your eyes.). We walk/jogged/skipped through the dark course while tripping over strollers, children and holes. A couple of us may have peed in the bushes to avoid VERY long port-a-potty lines. We sang, danced, finished the race with a myriad of new inside jokes. Next, was the foam party.

This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.
This is what it looks like when you throw glowing liquid on your clothes: awesome.

There was a DJ, a mosh pit and several colored foam machines. There was foam up to our knees and thousands upon thousands of bubbles showering us from above. We jumped around and danced like college kids again, but we were done after about 20 minutes. Of course, we then realized we were drenched and none of us brought towels or a change of clothes. Woops.

foam party

It was a good time, but honestly, the best part of the night was probably our very late and long dinner at iHop, because where else do you go at midnight when you are covered in neon foam?

The view when you looked up.
The view when you looked up.

I won’t sign up for this even again because I prefer more organized 5k’s, but I will definitely be spending more time with these crazy people who know how to make anytime a good time!

And, the after shot.
And, the after shot.

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.

HZ-16
Romper from Rags to Raches

HZ-1 HZ-3-BW HZ-11 HZ-12 HZ-15 HZ-18-BW HZ-19-BW HZ-23 HZ-27

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!