Monday, May 25, 2015

The Truth About Taking Little Kids to Walt Disney World




While I'm cruising this week with my mom I wanted to revisit my family's spring break trip including our visit to Walt Disney World. I shared before that when Uka and I were dating and visited for the first time as adults we vowed not to take our future kids until they were old enough to remember it. 

Well, I completely ate my words!

Going as an excursion from a cruise ship was a perfect introduction for our young family. I think it's important to know the temperament of your kids AND temperature threshold. I was so nervous about the heat and humidity for them but with sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hats and water they fared pretty well, plus with it being just a day trip it was very manageable even with a 9 month old.



We arrived just after the park opened and while Uka and I followed the Unofficial Guide last time, this time I scanned the family e-version for tips, but knew I wanted to keep it pretty lax. Knowing Nia's obsession with princesses caused us to seek out a princess-focused visit which left me with fear of standing in 2-3 hour lines to see Elsa and Anna



As we strolled into Disney and made our way through the park, one thing became evident: there were quite a few miserable families. Left and right we saw sweaty kids being hurried along, tears, bickering and just plain sadness. I almost thought it was contagious and wanted to shield my kids, but as our visit continued and heard the arguments I figured out one of the most frequent culprits: parents projected their obsessive memory-making onto the kids. 



Mr. Lovebird and I seemed to mind-meld and essentially let our kids run the show. We turned to Nia and asked her what she wanted do to do and she grinned and answered loudly, "Ride the rides!" 

Whew!

We breezed past the lines of guests waiting to see princesses and Uka and Nia went straight for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. That was only the beginning  She came off bouncing while Grayson and I finished his first Disney World ride, The Book of Pooh. From there we went on to ride:





I think that's a pretty impressive list! I was also surprised that Grayson could ride with me. This was his first time being on rides and I wasn't sure how he'd react but he took it in stride. 

We also managed to squeeze in lunch at Be Our Guest where we sat in the eery, but cool, West Wing (Nia originally said she wanted to sit there, decided against it after we found a table, so we left, found a table in the Grand Ballroom then she said she wanted to go back, so we did, then she wanted to leave it again!). This was our only meal in the park and given the daunting process for reservations and our last minute trip, this was the perfect compromise. Everything was delicious and the ambiance a lot of fun - I especially like the detailed statues!


If you're thinking of planning a trip to Disney with young kids and have trepidation like I had, definitely go the route of following the pace that your kids set. Harried, frantic, contrived moments lead to cranky kids. Disney is definitely the happiest place on earth, just look at their contentment eating their first Dole Whip:



How old were you when you went to Disney? Have you ever taken your little ones and how did they fare?




P.S. Disney magic continues for me as I just found out I'll be joining my first Disney Social Media Moms Celebration "On-The-Road" New York

Friday, May 22, 2015

My New England Patio Dreams with Wayfair

Disclosure: I am a Wayfair.com Homemaker Blogger and received store credit to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.



As I set sail this holiday weekend on my cruise and it continues to slowly warm up here in New England, I've been inspired to create an inviting outdoor space when I return. Our home here in Portsmouth is the first place we've lived which has a significant amount of outdoor space. There is a dedicated patio and, get this: grass! It sounds so simple, but coming from concrete-filled NYC-metro I'm so excited for my kids to grow up playing in a yard and surrounded by green as I did in Ohio. 

To start my plans, I've picked out a few nautical-inspired items from Wayfair sophisticated enough for my husband and I, but playful (and colorful!) enough for our children.   

My sister-in law's created a beautiful home, and she inspired me to select a cozy outdoor rug as a soft texture underfoot is welcoming. Since our home is shoe-free having an outdoor rug also makes an easy transition stepping in from the outdoors especially as my kids like to be barefoot when playing outside. 


nuLOOM Layne Blue Marine Indoor/Outdoor Area Rug
When I think of outdoors in New England Adirondack chairs come to mind and immediately bring thoughts of childhood summer camp. I was thrilled to come across this cheery yellow version and the best part? It's foldable! I could see Mr. Lovebird and me enjoying evenings outdoors together in these chairs after the kids go to college the kids are in bed. 


For the times when we're all outdoors together, a few oversized, outdoor pillows the kids can tumble on would especially make our patio family-friendly. They'd also double as low seating and support for impromptu picnics and playdates:


Want to see more? I've created a New England patio dreams Wayfair inspiration board with a few more of my favorites (including a heat lamp which I'm learning is a must). Just click here to check it out!

What's your favorite, must-have item for your outdoor space this summer?


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Breastfeeding Support with Fairhaven Health

Disclosure: I was provided with samples to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed are my own.


With Grayson's 1st birthday fast approaching there are so many developmental topics I've wanted to share which pass through my mind while I'm busy during other things and then I look up and another month has passed and we've moved onto something else. One area that I really want to follow-up on is mine and Grayson's breastfeeding relationship. It is amazing how different a nurser Grayson is. While digging through Nia's medical records for Kindergarten registration I came across her growth chart and found that it was similar to Grayson's. Specifically, they were both 17lbs at 10 months old. Grayson's current pediatrician is alarmed however, and has suggested we give him soy formula. I've been hearing this "alarm" for a while and in the midst of the constant barrage of blog posts coming forth about moms and breastfeeding/formula guilt, I decided that when Grayson recently dropped several ounces, something Nia never did, I would follow the pediatrician's advice and try soy formula. 

Grayson nursing on our recent cruise (bra by Bravado)
Well, little man is NOT having it! With my supply waning and my upcoming cruise with my mom I think this may be a natural time to wean (remember when I went away to wean Nia?). I will be pumping while on the trip and Fairhaven Health recently a supplied me with their Breastfeeding Essentials Bundle (retail price: $66.95) to support my breastfeeding efforts. 

Fairhaven Health's mission is to develop products designed to safely and naturally promote fertility, pregnancy wellness, and breastfeeding success. They are based in Bellingham, Washington and have been providing support to parents and parents-to-be for years, helping them reach their goals from fertility to breastfeeding. 

The Breastfeeding Essentials Bundle includes:

1. Milkies Nipple Nurture Balm - Help soothe, protect, and heal sore cracked nipples with this 100% organic lanolin-free balm. Recommended by lactation professionals all over the country.

2. Milkies Nursing Time Tea & Tea Ball - This all-natural tea helps nursing moms increase milk production and soothe digestion in mom and baby. The loose leaves ensure freshness and nutritional support. Brew it up nice and hot using the Tea Ball provided.  

3. Milkies Milk-Saver - Make sure to never waste a single drop of “liquid gold” with this ingenious invention that collects breast milk leaked from the non-nursing side during the breastfeeding session, and store it for later!

4. Happy Bottom Baby Balm - This ultra-moisturizing balm contains a blend of colloidal oatmeal, cocoa and shea butter, and organic oils that soothe baby’s bottom naturally.   



The Milkies Milk-Saver is my favorite item in the bundle. While I use nursing pads to prevent leaking through my clothing, I've always wondered if there was a way to keep that milk instead of wasting it. This invention solves that issue! Simply slide it into the non-nursing side and collect milk in a special BPA-free reservoir. I use it with Grayson then simply put it in a bottle that I'll add to later when I pump or milk baggie to freeze it. It even has a stand that it can rest on to prevent it from tipping over! 


I've also found the loose tea a tasty and soothing way to relax and boost my supply. It contains fennel seed and blessed thistle, known for increasing milk production - I like to add a bit of honey in mine! Grayson also has 8 teeth which he uses to bite me (he's even drawn blood) so the Milkies Nurture Balm has been a lifesaver for my sore nipples. For Grayson, he's always scratching his bottom during diaper changes so applying the Happy Bottom Baby Balm has given him relief for his dry skin. Thankfully the eczema he experienced so badly before hasn't come back, but this has been great to use since then. 

There are so many other well-researched and curated product offerings to help you or the mother in your life including a Pregnancy Bundle as well. Be sure to visit Fairhaven Health's online store here and like on Facebook and Twitter for latest product news. 

How did you find support in your breastfeeding relationship with your baby?


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

NYC Adventures (& Beech-Nut Giveaway Winner!)

We are wrapping up an extended long weekend spread across NYC-Metro! Friday we arrived and stayed in Queens with family then spent a bit of time in Manhattan before packing up for a couple nights in Jersey City. It's been great to see so many people in such a short time as always. We really do pack a lot in every time we're here, but it's always worth it!

A quick snippet:


I heard FAO Schwartz is closing so I had to!

Enjoyed a bit of Dance Parade 2015 with Uncle Van

Family dinner at (new to us) Porta in Jersey City
Post-late night hotel pool shenanigans (and Nia got into some too!)
Our friends at Milk & Cookies treated Nia to her first pedicure - full review to come! 
And now to share the winner of my flash Beech-Nut giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats Manda!  

If you didn't win this giveaway don't worry - there's another fun one on the way. Here's a hint!



P.S. I'm still in shock that heading to New Orleans on Saturday! I'll probably just have time for dinner that night then brunch the following day before boarding my cruise. Any suggestions for a first-timer in New Orleans with limited time?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celebrate National Learn to Swim Day with SwimWays

Disclosure: I participated in a Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for SwimWays. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

It's finally starting to warm up here on the northeast and while we haven't quite reached the balmy temperatures of the Caribbean that we recently experienced on our family's spring break cruise we're still gearing up for pool season with regular swimming lessons.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen a few indoor pool posts from lessons but soon our outside YMCA pool will open and my kids will have the chance to display their new swimming skills as well as at nearby beaches. I never imagined we'd be living so close to the ocean, but I do believe that equipping kids with the swimming skills is an important lifelong skill. 

To mark this SwimWays is celebrating the 4th annual National Learn to Swim Day this Saturday, May 16 and while it's just a day, it's a reminder to be prepared and safe in the water this pool season as well as for a lifetime. Swimming skills are life skills and everyone should be confident in the water even starting at a young age. 


SwimWays has been around for 40 years and I was first introduced to them even before I was pregnant with my first child. I saw another mommy friend use hers and her baby was happy and confident in the water. I knew that was something I'd want to instill in my kids especially since my parents helped me be confident in the water starting with lessons as an infant. SwimWays makes the Baby Spring Float and I was sent one for Grayson. He had fun checking it out and we're ready to introduce it to him when it warms up and we can head outside in the pool with it!

SwimWays has a full line of Swim Steps products perfect for helping your little one gain confidence in the water and our Spring Float is equipped with SPF50+ adjustable canopy and folds up easily for storage. I also appreciate the gender neutral colors and the fun fish motif on the top of the canopy.

Be sure to visit SwimWays's website for the latest in product news as well as ToysRUs for purchasing SwimWays products. 

Are your little ones confident in the water? If your kids have taken lessons share with me how early you started (at our YMCA kids can start at 6 months old!).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Introducing Beech-Nut's Organic Line (and a Flash Giveaway!)

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Beech-Nut. I received a free coupon to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation. All opinions and reviews are my own.


Grayson will be one year old next month, and it seems like it was just yesterday that I attended the New York Baby Expo where I was introduced to Beech-Nut's re-branded honey-pot, glass jars. I even Instagrammed them here! I grew up feeding Beech-Nut to my siblings who are 8, 10 and 12 years younger than I am, and it was refreshing to see how they've changed since then. It really is "just food," not baby food and it is simply delicious!

While I enjoying cooking and made baby food for both of my children, there has always been the need to have jarred food on hand for convenience and I appreciate that Beech-Nut prepares their food in the same way I cook mine using a trademarked just gentle cooking process. In the same way I prepare my food, Beech-Nut prepares their food without added water or artificial preservatives. We keep Beech-Nut on our shelves already so I was excited when I recently had the opportunity to sample the new organic line that Beech-Nut's introduced. While we're not strictly organic in our household, we do purchase organic food regularly especially for Grayson. 


There are so many flavors to choose from too such as organic apple, raspberry & avocado, organic banana, cinnamon & granola and organic butternut squash, black bean & cumin. As I patiently wait for more flavors to reach my area, I was thrilled to see Grayson's reaction his jar of pear, pumpkin and pineapple:


Grayson isn't a voracious eater - we're actually in the midst of working on him gaining weight so when we find something he's enthusiastic about we stick with it! He's not talking yet, but when he hums for his food we know he likes it. And just like I show in the video above, I eat his food too, and I like it! Why give my baby something I wouldn't eat myself? We're not the only fans either: just this year Beech-Nut won Product of the Year in the baby category for its 100% naturals and organic lines, as selected by more than 40,000 consumers in a national, representative survey by Taylor Nelson Sofres.

Interested in trying Beech-Nut for free? Enter to win my giveaway below via Rafflecopter for one coupon good for a jar of Beech-Nut organic of your choice. The giveaway starts today, May 13 and ends Friday, May 15 with the winner announced on Monday, May 18 (Contest entrants are only eligible to win once per sweepstake, per household as part of a campaign sponsored by Influence Central and must reside in the United States.):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

In the meantime it's very easy to find Beech-Nut's organic line available at the following stores nationwide (check the store locator for the store nearest you): Kroger, Babies “R” Us, Wegmans, Price Chopper, Wakefern, Walmart.com,  Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, Stop & Shop, Giant Carlisle, A&P, Pathmark, Albertsons, Hannaford, Raley’s, Meijer, Nugget Market, Diapers.com, Harris Teeter, Shaw's, ACME, Shoppers Food and Cub Foods

Be sure to visit Beech-Nut's website and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest product news!
 

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Beachy Mother's Day

We're recovering from a busy but fun Mother's Day weekend, and I really feel like the festive season is kicking off here in Portsmouth. There really is so much to do!

I was tracking the forecast like a hawk and when I saw it was going to hit the 80s I decided a family beach day is how I wanted to spend most of my Mother's Day. We kicked off the day with a 9:15a.m. brunch reservation, then headed to church and from there straight to the beach:








After, we grabbed fish sandwiches for an early dinner and the kids were in bed before 9p.m. so I count that a win! I was so tempted to go to bed myself but eked out a bit of housekeeping and work before crashing right at midnight. It was a mini-resolution for me this year to get in bed by midnight and while it's been a struggle to maintain, when I woke up this morning I felt so refreshed especially because Grayson didn't wake up at all! Usually he's up a couple times in the night. Nia on the other hand has taken to sneaking in our bed in the wee hours. I usually don't notice until I wake up to a foot in my face!

I just keep telling myself this is temporary...

Oh and one more highlight from Mother's Day weekend? Mr. Lovebird and I got to dress up for a swanky benefit. It was for an amazing local cause that I can't wait to get more involved with:
 
Rent the Runway FTW! Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on using it!
What's on tap this week? Heading to a Boston blogger meet-up tonight with a mommy blogger friend, working on a few fun posts this week including a Zutano giveaway, prepping for flying down with the family to NYC for an extra long weekend (Friday - Tuesday this time!) then getting ready to welcome guests next holiday weekend before I head head down to New Orleans to cruise with mom.  

May is an awesome month so far!

How was your Mother's Day weekend? Is warm weather bringing out the festive season in your neck of the woods?



P.S. We un-boxed the VTech Kidizoom Action Cam Nia won at the TTPM Spring Showcase. Check our video out here!

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