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

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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!

Finally, a Unique Family Beach Photo

Another year, another big Hilton Head family vacation. It’s our favorite week of the year and while I was nervous about having a wild toddler around a pool and an ocean every second of every day, I still had the best week of the year at our favorite beach house. Seeing Luna enjoy the beach as much as her parents makes us as happy as clams…as does the many various family members who beg to watch her every waking second. #yay #freetime

I’m positive that every single family who takes a beach vacation, spends at least one evening taking advantage of “magic hour” to capture the classic family-in-the-sand photograph. We do it every year and as often as we try to mix it up and get a bit creative, but every year they look likes this…

2013 vs 2014 (and one person is missing!)
Top is from 2013, bottom from 2014.

Of course, nothing is wrong with these photos. They’re adorable, traditional and bring back great memories. However, they aren’t exactly unique or exciting. So, this year we FINALLY mixed it up a bit. It took a few of us to put our heads together, and what we came up with is now my favorite group Hilton Head photo.

Soooooo…..here we are!

Hilton Head Island 2015 family photo
Hilton Head 2015

I mean, how could we not take a photo in the most enormous shower? AND, how could we not wear towels in the shower?

Happy Summer yall!

Cheers!

P.S. I must apologize for my very looonnnngggg blogging vacation. I did not want to be gone this long. It’s just a lot harder than I expected to start a part-time job, be a mostly-stay-at-home Mom, write and keep up our adventures. To be honest, I usually write at night when everyone goes to bed, but lately I have just gone to bed! (Or maybe watched some OITNB, which is kinda disappointing this season, right?) I’ve missed you! I’ve missed my Internet life and I’ve missed this creative outlet!!! I WILL find my way back. Pinky Promise!

Father’s Day Adventures

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Yeah, it’s been a while. I know. I’ll explain that later, but today it’s Father’s Day. Dad’s, thank you. Thank you for setting a good example, being brave and strong, killing bugs, teaching how to dream, encouraging, supporting, loving, raising, disciplining, playing and being a little crazy with us. I hope you all got some extra love today.

We celebrated Dad’s day today with a little adventure, because that’s really the only way to do it for Luna’s Dad. First stop. The Treetop Adventure ropes course at Nashville Shores! While everyone else did ziplines, Tarzan swings, cargo nets and obstacles, Luna and I headed to the water park for some Mommy Toddler time. They climbed, sweated, swung and crawled while we splashed, sunbathes, snacked and swam. Not bad. (Although, I should add that spending the day with a baby by yourself at a waterpark can be a little challenging.)

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The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.
The swings were by far her favorite thing in the whole water park.

After wearing ourselves out in the the very hot sun, we had a late lunch with friends at Panera and THEN a movie date with more friends and dads to see Inside Out!

woohoo! movie time!
woohoo! movie time!

So good, so emotional, so sweet and funny and so Pixar. I’m always in my head anyways, now I feel like I know my head slightly better, or at least have characters to refer to now. Peter and I both cried…which maybe had a little to do with the fact that we have a little girl of our own. That, and we are both saps.

The night ended with sugary bowls of cereal in bed, topped with video games and trash TV. Honestly, it was such a good day, it may as well have been Mother’s Day. The only thing that would have been better was getting to spend it with my own Dad. Thankfully, we at least got to video chat. Love you and miss you Daddy!

Me and my Daddy... a few years ago.
Me and my Daddy… a few years ago.

Happy Father’s Day!

Cheers!

Half-Crunchy Mom Giveaway Winners!

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Wow. So, when I say I’m going to announce the winner to one of my giveaways on a certain day someone should really hold me to it. We drove through Tuesday night to get to Texas early Wednesday morning and I’ve been having so much fun getting to see family, friends and my little nephew that I’ve yet to even update my Facebook status. So, sorry about the late post! Also, my parents don’t have Internet so it’s very easy to “unplug” here.

Ready to find out the lucky winners of Goddess Garden’s Kid’s sunscreen? Me too!

Angie (winner of the 6oz bottle)

My son is 9 and we have an extremely difficult time finding something for his face that doesn’t sting. I would love to try this!!

BriAnn (winner of the 3.4oz bottle)

Claire is 9 months. She loves being outside. Finding good sunscreen that actually works is not so easy. Would love to try this brand.

Congrats ladies!!! To claim your prizes just email me (positivelypanicked@gmail.com) your mailing address and I’ll get those prizes out ASAP. And, by ASAP I mean in a week or so because I’m still on vacation in Texas.

Luna sporting her new sunscreen while enjoying the sunny deck.
Luna sporting her new sunscreen while enjoying the sunny deck.

Hopefully, I’ll get back to everyone soon. So many southern adventures to share!

Cheers!

P.S. BIG thank you to Goddess Garden for being such an awesome and generous company!

A Half-Crunchy Mom’s Fav New Product (Giveaway!)

goddessgarden

There’s this term people use when referring to hippy-ish Moms, they say Crunchy Moms. “Crunchy Moms” are the Moms who raise chickens, cloth diaper, grow and make their own everything, swear by all-organic products, home-birth and homeschool, don’t own TV’s and the so on. The nickname is not an insult (I don’t think, anyways), it’s just a trendy new name, and today I’m reviewing a trendy “crunchy” item that most Moms (the crunchy and the non-crunchy) will love.

For the record, I think I’m half-crunchy, half-what’s the opposite of crunchy? Chewy? Can I be crispy? I do use cloth diapers, drive a Prius, make my own baby-food, breastfeed and buy eggs from our neighbors, but I also eat Taco Bell, drink too much Starbucks, binge on Netflix, use paper towels and refuse to give up tampons so I don’t think the “crunchy” society would allow me to join. That’s cool, I prefer to be my own leader anyhow. However, I do love to find a good healthy and organic alternatives to mainstream baby products.

Before our annual beach vacation I began looking for baby-safe beach products, partially because I’m an awesome Mom who wants only the best for my baby and partially because I like any excuse to shop. While searching I immediately came across many all natural baby-safe sunscreens. I was intrigued and decided to try Goddess Garden’s Natural Kid’s Sunscreen. The crunchy half of me LOVES that it is made in a recyclable container, made with organic and all natural ingredients (like aloe vera, sunflower oil, soy beans, zinc oxide, lavender and radish). The consumerist side of me loves that it’s pretty, smells good and does the job.

Luna sporting her new sunscreen while enjoying the sunny deck.
Luna sporting her new sunscreen while enjoying the sunny deck.

I have now tested this sunscreen at the pool, at Holiday World, at the beach and at home. The outcome? Luna has never gotten a sunburn. We did our best to follow the instructions: reapply after 40 minutes of swimming or 2 hours in the sun. We mostly remembered to reapply at the right time, but we aren’t perfect and Luna still never got any sun. We spent ALL day EVERY day in the sun at Hilton Head too. It isn’t exactly like other sunscreens, but Husband an I used the mainstream brands and both got burned… I’m thrilled I used the all natural brand on Luna.

Happy to be on the beach for the first time.
Happy to be on the beach for the first time.

This sunscreen is very watery, so I shake it before squeezing any out to thicken it up a bit. I found it easiest to apply quickly because the longer I took to rub it in the thicker and pastier it became. It left a bit of a white residue on Luna’s skin (mostly when she got wet), but who cares? She’s a baby and it kept her from getting burnt, isn’t full of chemicals and left her skin soft and smooth; that’s much more important to me than having a completely invisible sunscreen. Overall, I am really happy with the product and the company.

pool time!
pool time!

Goddess Garden was created by a Mom who wanted skincare products that would be safe for her daughter who is allergic to chemicals. She saw a need in the market and went for it. She also happens to care about the planet and is just an overall nice and generous person. In fact, she’s so nice that she is giving away a two bottles of her sunscreen to two of you! One of you will get a 6oz bottle of the the Kids Natural Sunscreen SPF 30 ($20 value) and one will receive a 3.4oz bottle ($15 value) of the same.

Daddy-Daughter time in the sun!
Daddy-Daughter time in the sun!

To enter, just follow these 3 little steps!

1. Follow me on my blogFacebook, or Instagram (or all 3!).

2. Follow Goddess Garden on Facebook.

3. And comment below! How old is your child? Or, do you want the sunscreen for you? Either way it will work!

Thanks for entering and good luck to everyone! I’ll randomly select two winners in week, Wednesday August 13th.

Cheers!

The Annual Beach Photos!

You KNOW that anytime you take a family vacation, you’ve GOT to take a big group family photo. It’s just a rule. Then everyone can share it on Facebook, email to their relatives, frame it until you take next year’s photo and years and years from now your kids will look back on it and say “What were we thinking? Why did you dress me like that? Gross!”. In our family we have the ones who love taking the yearly photo and the ones who despise it, but the lovers always win. Obviously I’m on the “lovers” side. I love photos and a I love family traditions. I look forward to looking back at our previous Hilton Head photos and can’t wait to show Luna the ones from her first year!

family photo

We typically spend one evening taking photos of everyone on the beach. Most of us dress up a little and we pose, jump, act silly and take hundreds of small and large group photos as the sun sets (hello magic hour!). The most important one is the big family photo. Every year we get everyone together for the big group picture. This year may have been the biggest year yet.

new fam

My parents were invited to join us (Husband’s side of the family) for the second time and it was perfect! They got to spend so much time with Luna and experience a lot of her “firsts” We are really really grateful that our parents get along. It makes life a hell of a lot easier. I love Husband’s family soooo much so it means a lot to me that my family has become part of his family too.

My parents and me (2012 vs 2014)
My parents and me (2012 vs 2014)

Clearly we have an issue with taking jumping pictures…I know, it’s so 2012. Whatevs.

All of the cousins and their significant others. Some of the coolest people I know, for sure.
All of the cousins and their significant others. Some of the coolest people I know, for sure.

Husband’s family (my family now) is super close and really good about spending quality time together. There are few families I know who get along with their cousins so well. We spent every single night staying up super late playing Murder, Apples to Apples, Scattagories, gossiping and whatnot. Well, to be honest, Luna and I missed a lot of the quality time… apparently infants need to go to bed much earlier than us big kids.

cousins

the ladies
the ladies
Aunt Zoey got some serious quality time with her "Lulu".
Aunt Zoey got some serious quality time with her “Lulu”.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s photos. It’s crazy to think that last year I was ten weeks pregnant and next year Luna will be running around and swimming.

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What are some of your family’s summer and vacation traditions?

luna butt

Cheers!

Moments of Gratitude

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Do you ever have those moments of gratefulness overcome you? Moments when you think, is this really happening? Am I really this lucky? I love those moments. I get hit by them randomly, like when I grocery shop. Sometimes, I reach for something stupidly overpriced like organic kale or look at my full cart of food that I chose in the checkout line and am immediately overwhelmed at how fortunate I am. There are so many people in our world who will never get to do something as simple as grocery shop and get everything that they need.

I get lost in these moments. It hits me at all different times, when Luna laughs, when the dog fits perfectly in the nook behind my knees and sleeps with her head on my thighs, when Husband reads to Luna or makes me coffee or when I sit in a hot bath reading my Nook. All of a sudden I realize I have so much to be grateful for and I try to take a mental picture of that moment and file it under the “don’t forget this!” tab in my brain. I need these memories saved and easily accessed for those rainy days when I think life is one big pile of stink.

I had one of these moments of gratitude while riding bikes during our recent trip to Hilton Head. We were almost done with a 16 mile bike ride and I began thinking about a trip we took to Target just two weeks after having Luna. I was so weak and sick from the blood pressure issues and the drugs the doctors had me taking that I had to use one of those motorized wheelchairs to get around the store, and even that was a struggle. I remember getting tears in my eyes because I couldn’t help, but think “will this ever get any better”. Logically, I knew that I would/should, but under the influence of hormones, anxiety and feeling like crap I really wasn’t sure I’d ever be back to myself again.

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Fast forward 6 months and I’m on a beach in Hilton Head with lots of family, doing yoga in the morning, taking a 16 mile bike ride in the afternoon, swimming in between and feeling healthy and extremely happy. I realized how much has changed in 6 months and thought I cannot forget this feeling.

bike ride

Then, I look at my Dad.

He was on bicycle in front of me. He had brain surgery to remove a tumor just 4 months ago. He is not only enjoying the beach with me, but he is also on this long bike ride. The realization of where we are and the strides we have made brought tears to my eyes. We are very very fortunate.

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I hope to never forget that grateful feeling I felt on the bicycle ride. I hope I’m able to remember it next time I wonder if things will ever get any better because they do. Things get better. They won’t always be the same… the truth is I’ll never be the same I was before I had Luna. No, I’ve definitely changed, but for the better. In fact, since having Luna I have many more moments of gratitude. I’m more aware of what I have to lose and what really matters, which is just making life more pleasant. Today, I am thankful.

Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw
Thankful Luna got to spend so much quality time with her PawPaw

Cheers.

Baby’s First Road Trip, Solid Food and Skinny Dip

We just returned from Luna’s first summer vacation, also her first annual family trip to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It could not have been a better trip and I honestly do not even know where to begin when it comes to sharing some of our adventures. Since much of the trip seemed to center around our little nugget, I guess I’ll begin with her. Little Miss Luna had a ridiculous amount of “firsts” over the last week.

It all began with her first very long road trip. Our trip to Hilton Head typically takes 8 hours. We knew driving with an infant would definitely add some time to our trip so we decided to leave at 4am, hoping that she would sleep the majority of the trip. Most of the trip was through torrential rain, but even with the storms and the baby it only took us 10 hours. Luna was a trooper. The first pit-stop was at Chick-Fil-A where they were insanely busy. Husband was asleep in the car so I took Luna in to feed by myself. It was super clean and efficient (surprising for being so busy) and all the workers were so-so friendly. As I left (in the pouring rain) a young cashier ran out after me and walked me all the way to the car (parked in an overflow lot) with an umbrella over me and Luna. It was really nice and unexpected. Good job Chick-Fil-A staff.

Then, we stopped at McDonald’s….also clean and nice. Right as Luna finished eating, a little girl and her Mom came over to us and her Mom informed us that her 6-year-old has been learning to clean out her room and give some of her things away. She told us that she really wants to give her happy meal toy to our baby because she doesn’t need it, but our baby might. Of course, we happily accepted it and let her know that Luna would be thrilled to have it. What a sweet family! The whole ride down was pleasant (minus the rain).

first road trip
Playing with her new toy.

Our first day in Hilton Head, Luna tried solid food (cereal) for the first time! I don’t know if she liked it or even grasped how to eat it, but she really enjoyed chewing on her new bamboo spoon and playing with her hand-painted one-of-a-kind bowl.

first solids

 

One of the cutest “firsts” was Luna’s first time to play in sand! She loved the sand! She dug, examined and tried her best to eat it, which we mostly kept her from doing.

first sand

Riding our bikes to Rita’s Italian Ice in Coligny Plaza at least a few times a week is a Hilton Head tradition that has been around for what must be ever. Luna slept through her first Rita’s experience, but that didn’t keep me from taking a photo!

first ritas

The biggest most exciting moment was Luna’s very first dip in the ocean. The whole family came down and we all walked to the water together with cameras in hand. Unfortunately, Luna did not love the ocean water. The waves were a little scary for her. However, she did get to enjoy it later in the week when the water was much calmer.

first ocean

Luna got to spend A LOT of quality time with twenty something family members, but it was her very first time to meet two of her Great Grandparents who came from Pittsburgh to spend the week with her. They couldn’t get enough of our sweet baby!

first greatgparents

Because the ocean wasn’t a hit with Luna, we spent lots of time in the pool. Luna played in her floatie for the first time and got to spend some time on the boogie board. She loves the water and figured out how to sit in her floatie, kick her legs and move through the water.

first boogie

The scariest “first”, for me anyways, was Luna’s first bike ride. We rented a carriage to attach to the back of a bike. She’s actually too small to sit in it alone, but we could attach her car seat. I only trusted myself to pull her. It was an added workout, but worth the peace of mind. We rode ALL over. She lasted through an 11 mile bike ride one day and never even whined.

first bike

She also got her very own private pool. Fancy.

first babypool

And what trip to the beach is complete with a naked dip in the ocean? Does it get any better?

first skinnydip

 

That’s a lot of adventure for a little baby, and there’s so much more!

Happy Monday everyone, we are glad to be back!

Cheers!

Vacation Mode

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Well, I meant to get a whole week of blogs in order before going on vacation, but I didn’t. Woops. We are officially on vacation for a week and I will try to update you on our latest adventures and positively panicked life, but I won’t be back to a regular schedule until next week. If you miss me, you can always check Facebook and Instagram for some adorable beach baby pictures!

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So far, Luna has gotten to see her Grandparents (my parents) whom she has not seen in 4 months, her great grandparents whom she has never met and a million other people who love and adore her. There are 20 something people here this week so Luna is getting A LOT of attention. It’s wonderful, Husband and I basically have to do nothing. Talk about a vacation.

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In one day Luna has been in the ocean, gone on a bike ride, tried solid food, played in her new pool floatie and floated on a boogie board. I can’t even imagine what the rest of the week has in store.

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She insisted on "feeding" herself. Chewing on the spoon was definitely the best part.
She insisted on “feeding” herself. Chewing on the spoon was definitely the best part.

Stay tuned for tips on beach travel with a baby, adventures in road tripping, new reviews and giveaways, postpartum updates and heck of a lot of adorable beach baby photos!

Napping on PawPaw on the balcony with a view of the beach, can life get any better?
Napping on PawPaw on the balcony with a view of the beach, can life get any better?

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Cheers!