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

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

15 Month Luna Update

It’s been a while since I had a Luna blog, and since she is 15 months old today I figure it’s a great day to write all about her! Luna is just growing and changing at such a fast pace I can barely keep up with her. Like, literally, I can barely keep up with her. The girl is fast! She’s got this hilarious rambunctious personality. She’s into absolutely everything, eats everything, climbs everything and then manages to destroy everything. She’s wild, but she’s our little ball of sunshine and we love her more than we ever thought possible!

coffee date

At 15 months, she is jumping (cutest thing ever BTW), blowing kisses, doing itsy bitsy and wheels on the bus, learning new words and body parts and is still a dancing machine! Her favorite song is by far still “Shake it Off, but she loves the “itsy bitsy spider” and “twinkle twinkle” too. Seeing her face light up and her body start moving when music is on is the best. I love that she’s into music and dancing. We have dance parties everyday.

leggings

Luna is also into books. Her favorite game is to pull every single book off the shelves, sit on top of the pile, pick one up and “read” it aloud. It’s precious. She has favorite books now that she picks and brings to me to read. At the moment her favorite book is¬†Potty by Leslie Patricelli. (Which BTW is $3.81 on Amazon Prime right now!) She is OBSESSED with this book, and I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty cute. I sent one to my nephew and he also loves it. This, and the Llama Llama Red Pajama, series and is her fav at the moment.

mickey

Luna is so crazy and fearless. It is terrifying. She can climb ladders, go up and down stairs, throws balls, climb in and out of just about anything, she runs and looovvesss running up to any and every animal. If I take my eyes off of her for 2 seconds she is in the fire place, eating cat food, on top of the entertainment center or sorting through my cash that was in my wallet in the diaper bag on a chair. She’s a mischievous little ninja.

nikes

Luna is also talking. She’s says lots of little words, but right now her favorite is “bye”. She says it over and over, then attempts “buh-bye”, but it always comes out as “bobby”. So when we leave anywhere it sounds as if she is screaming “bye Bobby!” all the way out, into the car and even as I buckle her in her car seat. Either that, or she’s made a friend named Bobby who I’ve yet to meet.

shoes

Since turning one she has ¬†been back to NYC, traveled to England and Scotland, “ran” three¬†more races, finished weaning and had her first stomach virus. AND, tomorrow we leave for her first trip to Disney World! Can’t wait to tell you all about our magical adventures.

stars

Now can someone tell me how to slow time down? I

Cheers!

Summary of Parenthood

I don’t know why I haven’t kept up with the blog regularly as of late. It’s so often my lifeline as well as my very important connection of each of you, but lately there’s so much life happening that I get in bed and crash. Okay, if I’m being¬†really honest, I get in bed, turn on Netflix, completely zone out, then crash. What I’m trying to say, is that I miss you. I miss you, and I have a quick “how my¬†baby changed my life” story¬†to share. Then, it’s time to crash… Netflix is already streaming in the background.

Luna, my love, my angel child… she has truly tested me in every way this week. I had my first “Stop what you are doing and come home and save me NOW” text to Husband. I needed/need a break from her desperately. I love the kid with every fiber of my being, but for God’s sake child, I need to breathe and maybe even sleep past 5am. Anyways, as I attempted to give her dinner tonight she once again showed me just how well she can act as though she is starving while simultaneously gagging at everything I tried to feed her.

This is Luna having a meltdown after I refused to let her eat a banana peel out of the garbage. BTW, this was not a one time occurrence. She LOVES banana peels.
This is Luna having a meltdown after I refused to let her eat a banana peel out of the garbage. BTW, this was not a one time occurrence. She LOVES banana peels.

She screamed, knocked the spoon out of my hand, threw her food to the dog, kicked, tried to climb out of her high chair and then begged for more food when I took it away. Finally, I just stopped. I stared at her and said, “Fine. Don’t eat. Just scream. I’ll eat it.” So, ¬†I sat and started eating the delicious dinner I made for her. She stared back and for a while we sat in silence. I thought,¬†what the hell am I doing wrong this week? She thought¬†Why the hell aren’t you feeding me cheddar bunnies?¬†Or, so I assume.

She gave up screaming, looked at me a while and started happily babbling. Her babbles made me forget how annoying she was just 30 seconds ago. “I love you, you know. Even though, you are driving me crazy, I love you with my whole heart,” I told her, because it’s true and because I feel the need to tell her this very often. She started babbling back and we began a game of “try to say what Mommy says”. My new favorite game. So, I tried getting her to say “I love you.”

I slowly said, “I” and she very excitedly said “eye!” and pointed to her eye. Yay! She is finally learning her body parts! Now, I was excited and said “nose”, and she touched her nose. Then, I said “lips” and she reached for my lips. Then, I said “ears” and she grabbed her ear. This was the first time she found all four and it was certainly a moment for celebration. We clapped and cheered and said more words and then…THEN¬†she very happily ate the rest of her dinner.

MIRACLE.

By the time she finished eating I had tears in my eyes. I, as I so often do, found myself just staring at this little miracle that has become my whole life. This little baby that is growing and changing and learning so much so fast. How does this tiny little being make me want to pull my hair out and runaway to Mexico and thirty seconds later make me melt into a puddle of Mommy mush, weeping over her adorable baby?

She's pretty cute, most of the time.
She’s pretty cute, most of the time.

I think that is the summary of parenthood. They steal our sanity and hearts constantly. They are killing us and giving us life everyday. They are the one and only beings that can toss our made-from-scratch dinner to the floor, yell at us for cheese crackers and make us completely forget it ever happened with one little wet sloppy kiss (or by simply pointing to their eye). They can bring us to tears of frustration to tears of joy in a matter of seconds.

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Our love for them is unconditional.

Good thing too. Otherwise, I’d have given up on nap time ages ago.

Plus, they’re pretty darn cute.

Cheers.

12 Things I Discovered After Having a Baby

While pregnant with Luna, I heard all the typical tips, warnings and advice from basically every single person I came in contact with, stranger or not. I nodded kindly and smiled when they told me all about how much my life would change, but in my head I was thinking very arrogant thoughts. Duh. I KNOW my life will change. I am perhaps the most prepared Mom ever, and I am READY.

I was cocky, so cocky. I began babysitting when I was 12, worked in a daycare in college, taught Elementary school, taught preschoolers, toddlers and worked with LOTS of babies. I knew¬†what to expect, and in some ways, I was really prepared. I mostly behave like the mother of a second child. Eating food off the floor? Putting dirty hands in their mouth? Explosive diapers? Snot and spit-up on my clothes? Forced to look like a fool in public? It’s all totally fine. I have yet to stress over any of this. I¬†knew it was coming.

However, Luna is now a year old and after reflecting a lot on the past year, I realized that I was in many ways not at all prepared for parenthood and have discovered that there are some things you will never realize until you have a kid.

1. There are basically zero healthy drive-thru’s. We are out and about often, and too often I fail to pack myself any food. It¬†never fails that severe hunger strikes when I am in the car and Luna has just fallen asleep. It’s, of course, nap time and the absolute last thing I want to do is wake her up. So, the only reasonable option is to get food at a drive-thru, but where? I’m a vegetarian and¬†try to eat healthy as much as I can. I usually end up at Starbucks, because when all else fails, coffee.

2. Mom friends are imperative. Most of my friends in Tennessee are childless. I never once cared that I was having a baby and no one else was, until I had the baby. It gets lonely and often isolating when you are taking care of a baby 24/7. Also, your baby is sometimes all you want to talk about, and I’m here to tell you that 30-year-old single guys do not actually want to talk about breastfeeding, meeting milestones and post partum depression. In fact, the only people who want¬†to talk about these things are other Moms. My new friends are so important that I may soon be writing a blog specifically for them.

3. Parking at the grocery store is a real challenge. There was a moment when Luna was a couple of months old and the two of us were grocery shopping together. After checking out, we walked to the car and I faced a completely new dilemma. First, who/what do I load first? Baby or groceries? Baby, right? I should get her buckled in safely before unloading the groceries.¬†Then, after everything was unloaded, I looked at my empty basket, then at the “basket return” area 50 feet away… shit. It’s rude to leave your basket wild and free in the parking lot, but if I return it and leave Luna in the car someone is certain to call child protective services on me. I stood there in the parking lot, glancing between the basket return and Luna, debating, when an angel dressed in a Publix apron asked if he could return my basket for me. Now, I¬†always park as close to the basket return as I can get, and Luna doesn’t get unloaded first anymore.

4.¬†My body is so not my body. Having a baby¬†does a number on your body. My hair, nails, skin, eyesight, blood pressure, belly button and even my teeth have changed. I have so much to hold over this poor child’s head.

5. I know where every decent bathroom is located. When you have to breastfeed and change diapers in public, you very quickly learn which stores and restaurants have decent places to sit and changing tables. Shockingly, many places do¬†not¬†even have changing stations. And, in case you’re wondering Nordstroms has the BEST bathrooms. They have a super clean, comfortable, spacious and private room just for Mothers. There are chairs for breastfeeding, enormous changing tables, mirrors, end tables, sinks and very clean women’s restrooms are connected. It’s totally worth walking across the mall.

6.¬†I have never ever had so much respect and appreciation for my parents, and I respected them a lot before I had Luna. Raising a kid is hard, scary and freaking awesome. Luna is only one and I am already so proud of her. My heart breaks when she cries. I miss her when we are separated for more than an hour. I want nothing but the best for her, and suddenly everything my parents said and did (well¬†almost¬†everything) makes so much sense.¬†I get it now, I’m a parent too.

7. You do not need half of the baby crap you will buy, and what you buy you will only use for a very short amount of time. There should be some sort of system in place where all Moms rotate their baby gear from new Mom to new Mom.

8.¬†We watch way too much TV. I like to have the TV on 90% of the time. Not because I want to sit and watch TV all day, but because I like having the background noise. Being in silence with my own thoughts is rarely a place I want to be. I prefer to have reruns of Friends, The Office or Gilmore Girls constantly playing through the house. It’s comforting, like having an old friend over. However, I do not want Luna to be in the habit of watching so much TV. We have had to change our habits, and we now play a lot of music… ¬†and mix in some TV, especially in the evenings.

9. I miss my family more than ever. I have lived far away from home for about 8 years now, but this is by far the most I have missed everyone. I want my Mommy all of the time! Also, I want Luna to have more time with her Grandparents, aunt, uncles, cousin and all of my long-distance friends too. Thank God for Skype and smart phones!

10. My baby wins. ¬†I¬†know that every parent thinks their baby is the cutest. Before we had Luna, Husband and I often talked about this phenomenon, and thought some parents must¬†know that they’re kid is not actually the cutest, smartest, funniest most talented kid. However, now we have Luna, and I must tell you, she actually is the cutest baby ever.

11.¬†Sleep is a luxury I miss severely. I have always been able to function on little sleep, but I was also always able to sleep-in here and there. When I taught Elementary school I usually slept about 4 hours a night, but on the weekend I would sleep-in until my heart’s desire. If I went out on a Friday night, I could stay out until the sun came up and sleep the next day away or enjoy a nice Netflix marathon. Now, if we go out at night I stare at the clock and constantly think “in 5¬†hours I have to get up… in¬†just 4 hours I have to get up…” I miss you, sleep.

tired

12. The last one is one I have heard time and time again, but I didn’t really get it until I too was a parent. I love Luna more than I ever could have imagined. It’s true, you don’t understand this kind of love until it happens. I love Peter, I love him more than I could ever¬†put into words. I ‘m completely mad about him, but my love for Luna is entirely different. She is our entire world, she’s everything.

What did you learn after having a baby?

Cheers!