How I Road Trip With Two Kids...

 
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Ever since London was just two weeks old we have been what I like to call “road warriors!” She was born July 1st, just a week before her Daddy’s busiest travel month of the year so I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted help, I would have to get accustomed to traveling with baby in tow! Now that we have added Malia to the mix, trips have gotten a bit more interesting!

We make the three hour drive from Massachusetts to Maine to see family so often that I feel like I have it down to a science. I mean, there are sometimes “bumps” in the road LITERALLY and figuratively, but I’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t when road tripping with two kids so here are some of my tips and tricks…

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Pack ALL the snacks. Seriously…all of them. You can never pack too many. London once went through an entire bag of “Yogi’s” (freeze dried yogurt drops) on a trip. As far as I’m concerned, all bets are off when you are in the midst of any sort of travel situation; car, plane, train, etc. Some other snack ideas are: graham crackers, pb&j, banana, cut-up fruit, squeeze apple sauce (if you think your toddler can handle this on their own), raisins, goldfish, animal crackers, and LOLLIPOPS. I like to keep a stash of dum-dums in my car at all times for a little “pick me up” when it’s REALLY hitting the fan!

Make a special playlist. This applies to London, since 7-month old Malia doesn’t have a choice. Lo LOVES music. She could probably sing and listen to her favorite Disney princess songs over and over again the entire ride. I would go a little nuts, so I like to make a special list and build it up to her the morning of our trip. I usually say, “Oh, London! I have an amazing music list that I put together for you for the drive…I’m so excited!” That’s typically all it takes to pique her interest. While we’re on the topic of music - don’t hesitate to blast some good old static from the AM stations if your baby is starting to lose it in the car. If they have a full belly and a fresh diaper - they’re probably just over being in the car and honestly, the static sounds like white noise and usually can calm them down slash drown out the noise a little for you!

Invest in SAFE and comfortable car seats. Let’s face it - this is the most important on the list! If you’re driving any sort of distance you want your kids to be comfortable AND hello - SAFE! We recently switched London to the new NextFit Zip Max by Chicco! The convertible car seat transitions from rear-facing to forward-facing to accommodate children from 4 pounds all the way to 65 pounds and what I love is that if we decided to use it for Malia - it allows for extended rear-facing up to 50 pounds! I always think, UGH my poor kids, their knees are in their chest when they’re rear-facing but it really is the safest position for them and the NextFix Zip Max offers 25% more legroom in rear-facing mode than other Chicco models! It also has extended calf support in forward-facing mode, which is a huge bonus. I actually took a photo because I wanted you guys to see what I’m talking about with the leg support/more leg space!

I always seem to have a difficult time installing car seats but I feel like I can actually handle this one! You can achieve a tight fit using a vehicle seat belt or LATCH connector thanks to the SuperCinch feature, which is a force-multiplying tightener that helps secure the seat with less effort. ALSO worth mentioning because kids are messy :) … the car seat has a zip-off machine washable seat pad so you know, when a yogurt or applesauce inevitably explodes in the car, it’s not the end of the world!

The NextFit Zip Max is available online at ChiccoUSA.com and in select stores for $369.99, but the entire Chicco NextFit line was recently upgraded and also features additional models at a variety of price points to fit every budget.

Screens are your friend. As I mentioned before, all bets are off when you’re traveling. I love to have a few of London’s favorite shows locked and loaded on the iPad. She is currently obsessed with Starfall ABC, which is a free educational app that’s on my phone so I put that on the iPad as well. We also like to play a few games to buy time. “I Spy” is always a huge hit and can usually eat up at least 15 minutes. I also like to get Lo looking out the window at the view / whatever we are passing. I literally say “tell me what you see” and she describes what she sees and then I do the same. We also like to name each color car that passes. These sound like the simplest of games and they really are - but they’ll help pass some time!

Plan a pit-stop if you need a break. We seem to always be driving north so I know a lot of the rest stops on the way, but if you’re driving somewhere and you don’t know the route, make sure you map it and check for safe places to pull over if you need to. Speaking of safety, always check the weather a few days before! I forget to do this all the time and there’s nothing worse than planning your trip, packing the car and then realizing the weather is terrible. It’s happened to me too many times!

Where is your next road trip?! I think we may be going to Maine again in the near future but also want to take the girls to Burlington, Vermont next month too! What are some of your own ideas you can share with me to make our road trips even smoother?!

xx,

Ashley

 

This post is sponsored by Chicco. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own.





How To Do Disney With Kids...

 
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I can’t believe our Disney trip has come and gone! We had been planning to go as a family for a year and there was so much excitement and anticipation leading up to the week! My parents have a time share at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which is where we always stayed growing up as kids. It’s SO fun to go back now and bring our own children to experience all of the fun and magic that Disney encompasses! My sister and her family came on the trip as well - and we all stayed in a three-bedroom villa which was absolutely gorgeous with views of Magic Kingdom; we watched the fireworks every night from our balcony…it was amazing.

While we were there I got LOTS of messages from people saying they had a trip coming up and were super nervous/wanted tips etc. All I have to say is YES, Disney is a BEAST of a place and it’s completely exhausting, but it’s ALWAYS worth it. If you go in with a few tips + tricks and a plan, then you will dominate it! This was London’s third time at Disney World (she’s 3.5 years old) and each trip gets better because she remembers more and more. The look on her face makes it me so happy. Bringing Malia added a new layer and definitely took more thinking in terms of coordinating naps, mixing bottles etc., but it was absolutely amazing and I’m so glad she experienced it with us. I know people say “I’m not going to take my kids to Disney until they can remember it” and I get that, but for us we just feel like the entire process of travel in general brings new learning experiences for our children and opportunities for them to grow, step outside of their comfort zone, and expand their minds…plus THE MEMORIES.

Ok, it’s time for TIPS + TRICKS on how to get the most out of your time there and also the best parks/things to do if you have a toddler/small child! There are certain parks (ahem, EPCOT) that I wouldn’t take the time to go to if you have kids the same age as mine. I’ll get to that in a little :)

Helpful Tips…

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  • Bring your own snacks and waters to the parks. Unless you want to spend $5 on a bottled water I recommend you pack your own! They let you do this so we stashed 4-5 waters in the storage bin of the stroller. I also pack a bunch of snacks in my luggage or buy snacks at a store outside of Disney when we arrive. I bring individual packs of goldfish, raisins, cheez-its, apple sauce pouches, etc.

  • Plan Fast Passes in advance. If you want a super popular ride like Peter Pan’s Flight at the Magic Kingdom, I would book a fast pass ahead of time for this! We did our fast passes a few days before our trip and we were able to get on all of the rides / see all of the shows that we wanted too (I made a list below of our favorites by theme park).

  • Schedule a CHARACTER DINING experience. When London was 18-months old and obsessed with Mickey Mouse, we booked a brunch at “Chef Mickey’s” at the Contemporary so she could meet all of the characters in one place. We did this instead of waiting in line at Magic Kingdom to see each individual character which would have been less than fun with a child her age :) This year, we made reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table which is located at the top of the castle in Magic Kingdom! London was in heaven! Each princess (Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Jasmine) comes around to your table while you are eating to chat and take photos. It’s WELL WORTH the money to see them all in one place! (*book these experiences well in advance! We also did a separate fast pass to meet Tiana and Rapunzel because they weren’t at the breakfast)

  • Bring your own stroller. I don’t recommend renting a stroller there - mostly because they look SUPER uncomfortable and there’s no storage underneath (which I count on). As of May 2019, there are new standards for strollers in terms of length and width, so make sure you check on the website before you pack your own. I’m sure the travel umbrella strollers would work fine. My sister has an almost two-year old and they used something similar to this one. We love the Babyzen YOYO stroller (as I have mentioned a bunch before) and they have an attachment/ride along board which is AMAZING!

  • Utilize the Baby Care Center. They have these in all four theme parks and they’re wonderful. There is a private nursing room with rocking chairs, a place to change your baby and highchairs to feed older babies as well! There is also a shop that sells formula, diapers, sunscreen, wipes, baby food, etc., should you have forgotten any of those things.

Our Favorite Parks / Rides + Shows…

Magic Kingdom

We spend the most time here every year, for obvious reasons - it’s the main park! There are amazing rides but also daily parades and shows! Here are our favorite rides/shows to see!

  • It’s A Small World (We never get a fast pass for this one - the line is always manageable)

  • The Voyage of the Little Mermaid

  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant

  • Peter Pan’s Flight (Crowd favorite! Book your fast pass well in advance for this one!)

  • Pirates of the Caribbean

  • “Festival of Fantasy” Parade at 3PM daily

  • Country Bear Jamboree

  • “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” show (On the stage in front of the castle)

*I HIGHLY recommend the nightly fireworks show! London is 3.5 so we had her take a later nap so she could go (It starts at 9:15pm), but it is SO beautiful and worth it. London was completely mesmerized and honestly, so was I!

Animal Kingdom

We LOVE Animal Kingdom. It is so beautiful and probably my second favorite park after Magic Kingdom (It’s my husband’s favorite!) We never do many rides here because we’ve only always spent a half a day…but our top 3 are listed below. It’s just SO beautiful! The photo below of London meeting Pocahontas was when she was 2.5 years old - she loved it!

  • Kilimanjaro Safari

  • Festival of the Lion King Show

  • Pocahontas Character Meet & Greet

Hollywood Studios - If you only have 2-3 days at Disney as a whole, skip Hollywood Studios. We had 4-5 days so we went here, but I think you would want at least two days at Magic Kingdom and a day at Animal Kingdom! Here is what we did at Hollywood Studios…

  • Disney Junior Dance Party

  • For The First Time In Forever Frozen Sing-a-long

  • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

  • Character Meet & Greet: Princess Sofia

I hope you’ve found this helpful! If you have any questions you can post them here or on my latest Instagram post (not the giveaway) and I will probably be able to respond quicker! Love you all!

xx, Ashley

Prepping To Fly With Two...

Hey guys! I feel like I haven’t posted much the past month or so because it’s been so insanely busy! We went on two trips in March and just recently took both girls to Disney World…so needless to say - we are kind of exhausted :) I ran a poll on my Instagram to see what you guys wanted for content; a “how to” when it comes to Disney with kids or prepping to fly with two and it was pretty even so guess what - I’m going to do both!

I decided to start with flying with two because that one did slightly have more votes! Last month I posted “How To Travel With Your Three Year Old” because London and I have traveled so much together I feel like we have that down! Adding Malia, who is 8-months old, to the crew was SO much fun but also adds A LOT more to think about, plan for, and pack :)

How I prep for flights with two…

I ALWAYS make a list. This time I made one for each child and divided it into things I need for my carry-on and things I need to pack in general. I brought two carry-ons which seemed to work nicely. I did one backpack and a shoulder bag. I hesitated on the shoulder bag but it was actually clutch because it was already open and easy to access PLUS it fit underneath my stroller, which I always use through the airport (I’ll get to this later!). A bag like this would work nicely and I really like this one because of the attached wristlet!

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Here is what you can find in my carry-on bags…

Before I go ahead and list everything out - I HIGHLY recommend not just throwing everything in, but organizing things in gallon-sized ziplock bags. This helps IMMENSELY when it comes to fishing things out of the bag efficiently.

Shoulder Bag:

  • Malia’s toys/rattles (gallon bag)

  • Malia’s teethers (I put these in a smaller ziplock bag)

  • Snacks for London (gallon bag) *Some snacks that I typically bring: granola bars, raisins, goldfish, cheez-its, apple sauce pouches, pea crisps, graham crackers and I usually buy a banana and a cheese stick at Starbucks in the airport :)

  • Change of clothes for both (gallon bag)

  • 2 Aden & Anais muslin blankets (these take up no space at all)

  • Burp cloth

  • Carrier (We prefer the Ergo 360 so you can do forward facing but also they can face in when it’s nap time!)

Backpack:

  • Diapers/butt paste for Malia (I recommend butt paste when you travel because you may not be able to change your baby as much as you would at home / they may be in the carrier more so you wouldn’t want them getting a rash!)

  • iPad / kids headphones

  • Water Wow activity (these are a MUST for us!)

  • Books (2-3)

  • Crayons in a ziplock w/a small coloring book

  • Purell hand wipes

  • Gum / dum-dum lollipops

  • Ibuprofen (I like to carry this just in case. London has never had ear pain when flying but since this was Malia’s first flight and she had a cold, I wanted to make sure I had some Ibuprofen on hand!)

My Tips For Getting Through Security / The Airport…

Do you check your stroller? …What do you do with your pack n’ play? … Did you wear one child and push the other in the stroller? … Which carrier do you recommend? These are just a few of the questions I get asked when I travel with London and this past time with both girls.

Firstly, having a GREAT STROLLER makes all the difference and I always GATE CHECK my stroller which means I take it through security and use it to maneuver around the airport then check it right before we board! It is FREE to gate check (at least with JetBlue) and just makes life SO much easier. If I’m traveling with just London, I always use my Babyzen YOYO stroller which folds up, has a shoulder strap like a purse, weighs just 15 pounds, and can fit in the overhead bins of any airplane! Most recently when we traveled with London (3.5 years) and Malia (8 months) we used the Chicco Bravofor2 LE Double stroller and it was MVP of our trip, FOR REAL. London has the option to sit or stand while Malia sits in the front. London fits in the front too, which she loved to do when Malia was in the carrier. The storage bin underneath is HUGE which is another bonus considering it left room for my shoulder bag and carrier when I wasn’t using it. It also folds + unfolds in probably five seconds - no exaggeration.

When is comes to my 4Moms Pack n Play - I always check it underneath the plane and we never have any issues. I bring this when we travel (even though most hotels have their own), because it’s bigger than the standard pack n play … and almost the size of a regular crib!

When going through security I recommend baby-wearing because oftentimes they do make you fold up the stroller which kind of requires two hands. I wore Malia in the Ergo 360 carrier from the time we got to the airport until we got through security.

I like planning flights with the littlest one’s naps. This was pretty easy considering Malia still naps 3 times a day. She slept on the plane for an hour both ways, which was a huge lifesaver! I recommend getting to the airport with plenty of time to grab a few waters, hit the bathroom for the potty and a final diaper change before boarding. I also like to let them get their wiggles out and run around a little bit beforehand, since they won’t be able to move around much on the flight.

I hope I covered it all and I hope this is a help to you in some way! If you have any questions - head to my Instagram page and post them on my latest post so I can get to you quickly. Stay tuned for my “Disney With Littles” post for those who are wondering how to take on the beast that is DISNEY WORLD ;)

Have a wonderful week!

xx,

Ashley

20 Things To Do In Kennebunkport, Maine...

For those of you who follow along here or on my IG, you probably know by now how much I love Maine and how much we, as a family, love to visit Kennebunkport! It’s so special to us for so many reasons. We have vacationed there together for the past 6 years, we got engaged there, my sister was married there and my brother will be married there this October! Ahhh!! So many memories.

Anyway, I am a contributor for the Boston section of Mommy Nearest - and recently wrote an article for them about all the things you can do in Kenebunkport!! I wanted to share it with you guys - so you can check that out HERE!

What I Wear When I Travel...

Since we’ve been traveling a lot this month - I thought I would share what I like to wear to the airport/on the plane. I ALWAYS opt for comfort, especially when I’m traveling with the family - so my Nike Roshe’s are my go-to sneaker. I have them in black/white and also white/white. They’re so ridiculously comfortable! I posted a photo of the black roshe’s below and also, I usually get lots of questions about this leather jacket too. The hood is removable - and I love that because it makes the jacket dressier for a night out and more casual with the hood!

I always tend to wear leggings and I have shared my favorite Lululemon dupe a lot on my Instagram lately - but they’re just TOO GOOD. They’re from Amazon, so you can literally get them in two days if you have Amazon Prime and they come in a bunch of colors. I love how they are thick a.k.a not see-through, and they’re high-waisted so they really hold everything in. Did I mention they’re only $25?! You can see them below…

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With my leggings, I usually wear a long t-shirt either white or black … but either way, I make sure it covers my bum! I typically get cold on airplanes, so I will wear a long cardigan like this or my distressed denim jacket from Topshop. I found a similar jacket here. Even if it’s super cold flying from Boston, but I’m going somewhere warmer - I always leave my winter jacket at home and pack a few lighter jackets. I just bought this teddy coat a few weeks back from Amazon ($32) and it’s actually perfect to travel in! It’s surprisingly warm, but also easily squishes into a carry on if needed! I’ve worn it way too many times already - here it is below :)

These spanx leggings in the picture above are always a hit as well - THEY’RE AMAZING. They completely hold everything is but are SUUUUPER comfortable at the same time. They’re faux-leather so they’re perfect for a night out too…but can be dressed down as you see above. They’re actually comfortably enough to travel in - and I bring them on every trip because they’re multi-purpose!

We have another trip in just 10 days and we’re going somewhere SUNNY and tropical, so I’ve got my eye on a few jumpsuits I think would be great to travel in. I like this one that’s sleeveless! I can wear a cardigan or my denim jacket over it and then when we land, I’m dressed appropriately for the warm weather. I also just love the ease of jumpsuits in general. ASOS always has some great options!

Here are a few other things that I would LOVE to travel in…and highly recommend for you if you have a trip coming up!

Stay tuned for where we will be going next!

xx, Ashley

Our Favorite Family Spots in Boston...

We have been living in Boston for almost five years now and have completely fallen in love with the city. When we first moved here Chris and I were newlyweds and we got our first apartment together in the cutest neighborhood of Boston (in my opinion), Bay Village. It is sandwiched between the South End and Back Bay - which are home to some of our favorite spots in the whole city. We only lived downtown for one year - but I like to think that we made the most of exploring and discovering all of the things that make “the Bean” so amazing. Now that we are parents of two, we have spent the last few years taking advantage of all the things that the city has to offer for KIDS!

I wanted to share some of our favorite spots in and around Boston; our go-to parks, restaurants, museums, etc. so if you guys are ever visiting or even currently live in the city, you can check them out!

The Boston Common: This is Boston’s most popular 50-acre park located right in the middle of the city. You can take a walk across the picturesque bridge and snap a photo with the swan boats in the distance, or find the prettiest blooms, which are changing every season. You can always find things to do; in warmer months you can pack a picnic and go for a ride with your kiddos on the duck boats. London loves to find the Mother duck and her ducklings in the park, a nod to the popular book “Make Way For Ducklings!”

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Boston Public Market: This is one of our top places to go on the weekend but it’s Monday - Friday as well! Some of our favorite spots are here…all in one place. We get our coffee at George Howell, always make a stop at Red Apple Farm (for homemade apple cider donuts), and London and I pick a few flowers from Field & Vase by Stow Greenhouses to make our own bouquet.

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Also, how good is this backpack that attaches to my stroller? It’s the Papago from J.J. Cole and I love that it holds everything I need - literally I always pack my LIFE when I go out with the girls and want to make sure I have everything - this backpack holds it all!

We love the Boston Public Market!

We love the Boston Public Market!

This is Field & Vase where London and I love to make our own bouquets!

This is Field & Vase where London and I love to make our own bouquets!

Blackbird Doughnuts: These doughnuts are so good! They’re delicious, they’re made in-house and they make these mini cinnamon sugar stacks for your little ones too! If you’re feeling up for it, try the “made-to-order” ice cream sandwich!

Faneuil Hall: So fun to go here as a family! They always have fun street performers to keep kids entertained and you can grab a delicious meal in Quincy Market!

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Boston is such a walkable city and I love that I never have to worry about Malia being cold on these chilly winter days because of the BundleMe that keeps her super snuggly! I also don’t have to bring any additional blankets which is a major MOM WIN, am I right?!

Beacon Hill: You HAVE to visit Beacon Hill. It is quintessential Boston with the adorable tree-lined streets and beautiful brownstones. There are some of the cutest shops and cafes in this neighborhood also including Tatte, a beautiful space with a cozy feel and open kitchen to watch the chefs whip up tasty sandwiches, soups, delicious pastries and more! Make sure you walk by Acorn Street, which is known as one of America's most beautiful streets and easily one of the most Instagrammed spots in Boston. Also, a little tip: you'll have better luck in flats trying to maneuver your way up or down this street. And best to ditch the stroller beforehand, too.

How cute is Malia on Acorn Street, one of the most photographed streets in America!

How cute is Malia on Acorn Street, one of the most photographed streets in America!

Love exploring Boston with my girl in her cozy    BundleMe   !

Love exploring Boston with my girl in her cozy BundleMe!

Charles River Esplanade: Grab a coffee and head over to The Esplanade for a relaxing walk and scenic views of the Charles River and cityscape. The Esplanade Playspace is a place your kids will love too and a great way for them to burn off some energy!

Newbury Street: Newbury is the city's most popular street for shopping! There are so many trendy cafes and restaurants to power you through a shopping spree (if your kids will allow it). One street over on Boylston, you’ll find the Boston Children’s Museum if your kids need a little escape - or you can head to our favorite Newbury spot, Georgetown Cupcakes. London always picks the cupcake with the MOST frosting…can you blame her?!

London loves all of the pretty store-fronts on Newbury!

London loves all of the pretty store-fronts on Newbury!

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Waiting patiently for her cupcake!

Waiting patiently for her cupcake!

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New England Aquarium: Pretty self-explanatory, but aquariums are always a hit and this one is really fun! It’s also a short walking distance from Faneuil Hall so you could do them both in the same day!

Museum of Science: We love bringing the girls here! You can easily see the exhibits in 1-2 hours but you can also make a whole day of it if that’s the kind of mood you’re in. London loves “Science in the Park” so she can go on the swings and she loves to visit the Dinosaur exhibit as well. (I recommend trying to go on a weekday because weekends tend to be pretty crowded!)

London loves to run around the museum and we have been so many times that she knows where everything is! The photo on the right is a new exhibit (that’s a true-to-size SEAL by the way), and I love that they are always changing up exhibits and bringing new/interesting things to the museum for people like us that visit so often!

*Mom Tip: A backpack always works better than a shoulder bag. You need both hands - especially when you’re the solo adult with two little ones! We love our Papago!

The “Science in the Park” exhibit is GREAT for kiddos to burn off some steam and run around!

The “Science in the Park” exhibit is GREAT for kiddos to burn off some steam and run around!

London could stay on these swings for hours!

London could stay on these swings for hours!

Fenway: You can't visit or live in Boston and not take at least walk America's most beloved ballpark; that would just be unpatriotic! Catch a game for a photo of the “Green Monster” or just pay a visit to capture the essence of this legendary place. If you’re looking for a yummy place to eat, Sweet Cheeks Q is a super popular place basically next door!

There you have it, that’s my list! What are some of your favorite places to take your kids in Boston?! I’d love to hear more ideas / recommendations … we are always looking for more adventures!

xx, Ashley

This post was sponsored by JJ Cole. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

How To Travel With Your Three Year Old...

It’s that time of year again - Conference Tourney Time for my husband’s basketball team (Go NU!) and I’m heading back to Charleston with London for a few days! I have been looking forward to this trip with her ever since I booked the tickets in December .. and I think she is JUST as excited. Traveling with her is a blast - and we always have such a fun time together. This will be the 13th flight she has taken and each time gets better and better - probably because she’s getting a bit older! It’s like going on a little trip with my bestie!

I wanted to share some "must haves" when it comes to toddler travel… 3.5 years old is still considered “toddler” right? Let’s go with it :) I know traveling can feel stressful and exhausting at times, but I think if you try to make it as fun as possible than they will feed off of that energy. First things first...I highly recommend traveling with a BACK PACK as a carry-on and not a mini backpack…a pretty roomy one because you’re going to need ALL THE THINGS. That’s just the way I personally like to fly anyway because, better to be safe than sorry! I really love the Papago from J.J. Cole which we just got, this one by Skip Hop and if you’re looking for a cheaper version, this one is under $70.

The next thing that's a "must have" is a lightweight, compact, and easy to fold stroller. Our BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller is an actual lifesaver and I can't say enough about it. It's folds up in literally five seconds and is small enough to fit in the overhead compartment on the airplane. Once it's folded, it has a shoulder strap for easy carrying and it weighs just 15lbs. I can't tell you how many people comment on it when they see us fold it up or open it; just how easy it is! There's also a pretty convenient compartment underneath to store small items if needed. If you’re looking for a double stroller for two kiddos, we have been using the Chicco Bravofor2 LE Double stroller and really love it for the ease of folding/opening and the storage underneath!

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A few tips while you’re on the plane…

I typically like to time flights so they’re during London’s nap time. Now that she’s older I just booked the cheapest flights…which is nice :) She does still nap, but will be able to handle a missed nap for one day. Prior to flying, I alway hit the Target Dollar Bin for some activity books, sticker books, and anything small I can fit in my carry-on backpack for her. I pack a few of her favorite snacks, books, plane-friendly games, and of course – the iPad. Lo is old enough to understand how headphones work and she loves wearing them. I got these Mpow Kids Headphones for this trip - and they’re great. I also just downloaded ‘Starfall ABC’ to my iPad for our trip because it’s an educational game that you don’t need wi-fi to play…and it’s free!

Some snacks that I typically bring: granola bars, raisins, goldfish, apple sauce, pea crisps, graham crackers and I usually buy a banana and a cheese stick at Starbucks in the airport :)

Important tip: I highly suggest bringing a travel pack of Purell Sanitizing Wipes. It gives me peace of mind to wipe down the germ-infested airplane. I also bought the travel-sized Purell to attach to the strap of my backpack. I cannot tell you how many times I use this throughout the day when we travel!

I don’t leave home without…

Blackout shades; these are cheap paper shades that I always travel with. Actually I just keep them in my car. I use them when we stay at friend’s houses, hotels if needed, etc. They’re easy to fold and carry in your suitcase.

4Moms Travel Playard: Hands down, best ever and easiest set-up. It comes with a travel bag so we just usually check it in for the flight. I’ve struggled HARD with other pack n’ plays, but this one is absolutely AMAZING.

Sound Machine; Another thing I never travel without is this $20 plug-in sound spa. You never know what the noise level will be at the hotel so I prefer to make sure unnecessary things don’t wake my babes! Doesn’t take up a lot of room in your luggage either!


Lastly, as far as I’m concerned all bets are off when traveling. Screen time increases, the amount of snacks can go through the roof and I’m not above a good dum-dum lollipop bribe! You just do what you have to do, knowing that things will return back to normal as soon as you reach your destination! The moral of the story is to HAVE FUN and try to enjoy what can sometimes be a stressful experience, but doesn’t have to be!

I hope this is helpful for any of you that’ll be traveling with toddlers soon! Make sure to follow along on my Instagram to see our adventures over the next couple of days!

xx, Ashley

How To Maintain Curls + Curly Hair Wash Routine...

Happy Wednesday!

I ran a poll on my IG stories last week asking if you all would like a mini tutorial on how I manage London’s hair and since 94% of you voted HECK YES … here it is! :)

It has taken me 3+ years to get to a place where I feel like I have somewhat of a clue when it comes to curly hair! I have completely straight hair so it’s definitely been a learning curve! I’m not an expert AT ALL so I’ve asked lots of questions about products, researched products, a little trial and error to see what works and I finally think we have a concoction that’s working right now!

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I will mention that I basically harass Allysha from @HouseofTurcotte because her hair is AMAZING and she recommended the Shea Moisture product that we use….which we LOVE and makes a huge difference! If you have curly hair or curly-haired kids you should check her out :)

Here are the products that we currently use on London’s hair:

  1. Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Shampoo

  2. Garnier Fructis Curl Nourish Conditioner

  3. Garnier Fructis Damage Repairing Treatment

  4. Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie

  5. Proclaim Olive Glossing Polish

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Step 1: Wash / Condition

I typically wash London’s hair 2x a week. I found that if I washed it more it would dry it out, so twice seems to work well. I shampoo her hair once and condition it twice. I found that on the second pass of conditioner - if I use my wet brush while it’s wet and she’s still in the bath - I can brush the tangles out so much easier! The wet brush has been clutch - I love it. Sometimes I do the Leave-in mask for a few minutes after combing her hair and after the shampoo/conditioner, as the last step before I do a final rinse.

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Step 2: Apply Smoothing Cream

I also took Allysha’s advice on this too and use one of Chris’s white t-shirts to wrap London’s hair in. I used to towel it off and it would make it really frizzy from the start - but the t-shirt works! Then I use the smoothing cream. I start at the root and usually work the cream in all the way to the ends. Lo’s ends can get frizzy so I make sure I add a bit more of the smoothing cream on those. I let that set for a few minutes and sometimes I’ll finish it off with a braid or just let it air dry.

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Step 3: Apply Proclaim Glossing Polish

First off, this oil smells SO amazing. It has olive oil, for frizz and to make hair look super shiny. I put a nickle-size amount in my palms, rub them together and them work it all through London’s hair - typically from the bottom-half down to the ends.

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I do typically braid her hair when she sleeps because it minimizes the tangles. In the morning, I’ll spritz it with a little water and add more of the Shea Moisture smoothie cream to bring her curls back to life! It seems like a lot of steps and sometimes it is - but we have it down to a little routine now and I feel like we’re getting the hang of it. If you have any more tips/tricks you’d like to share - please send them my way! I know a few people have recommended a silk pillowcase and I have one in my Amazon cart right now - I think that’ll help with tangles also.

Anyway - I hope you found this helpful in some way! Have a great week!

xx, Ashley

How '1-2-3 Magic' Worked For Us...

 
I got my eyebrows microbladed literally YESTERDAY sooo… don’t mind those ;)

I got my eyebrows microbladed literally YESTERDAY sooo… don’t mind those ;)

Happy Week of Loveee :)

I am one of those people that really LOVE Valentine’s Day and all the hearts, all the pink, and all the red! What better week than this one to talk about our favorite thing ever: Toddler Discipline. HA! Kidding…Eww. I know. It’s not fun - but I’m writing this post in hopes that it can help other parents who may need a new strategy or who feel like they’re walking on egg shells around their “threenager” like we did! This isn’t sponsored by “1-2-3- Magic” … and I highly suggest you get the book to read it for yourself … but I just want to share WHY we started using the techniques discussed and how it has worked or rather TRANSFORMED our home.

The WHY

As parents we have always tried to be super consistent with every aspect of our children’s lives. We are consistent with their routines at bedtime, at nap time … we were consistent with potty training … we are consistent when it comes to the morning routine, etc., and it’s all good because it works for us. There was one area that we weren’t being consistent in and that was in our approach to discipline. (i.e. are we doing time-outs? are we ignoring? are we just talking calmly? are we distracting?) For awhile it wasn’t much of an issue because London always cooperated and listened fairly well. We used the “distraction” method as long as we could - but when London neared 3.5, I was feeling pretty helpless. I had tried different tactics but none of them seemed to be working. London was starting to do things like slamming doors and saying disrespectful things to both Chris and I. I know, she’s 3 and that comes with the territory (somewhat), but I really felt like if we didn’t nip it now, it would get worse later and MORE THAN THAT…I’m NOT okay with anyone slamming doors in my face. Even though our doctor said “just ignore it; it’s normal toddler behavior,” I didn’t really want to ignore it. It seemed like I was getting into these power struggles with this tiny human leading to more and more meltdowns.

I had read a few books before this one about staying calm, ignoring tantrums, avoiding time outs and taking “time-ins,” speaking directly etc., some of which worked for half of the day… but by the end of most days, after I was exhausted from lectures and repeating myself, I would often lose my patience. I was raising my voice more often than I wanted, which never made me or London feel good. I was essentially crying to Chris every night when he got home and felt like I was failing at my “job” which feels absolutely TERRIBLE especially when your job is being a stay at home mom. I knew that we needed to find a way to fix this or we would all go literally insane!

HELLO Magic!

A few weeks back, I went to my alumni basketball weekend at the University of Maine and had the best time with some of my former teammates. A lot of us are now raising kids that are around the same age - and we started talking about some of the challenges that I was facing with London and the constant power struggles. That’s when my friend recommended the “1-2-3 Magic” book. I’m not going to lie, I was skeptical because like I said, I had read other books already that led me to lots of dead ends. After I listened to how it had transformed her household, I pretty quickly ordered it. Thank GOD I did.

I LOVE that this book, unlike the others I have read, actually gives you a consistent plan when it comes to discipline. Any behavior that you want to stop such as whining, disrespectful talk, hitting, throwing etc. can be “counted” using the 1,2,3 counting method that the book discusses! The first thing we did was sit London down and tell her that we have new “house rules.” The book instructs you on how to do this and the reason in doing it. I think it’s an important step because it shows that you and your spouse/partner are a united front and are both on board. We also did a dress rehearsal to demonstrate what it would mean if we counted to ‘3’ and she had to take a “time out.” (London thought it was hysterical to send Chris to our room for 3 minutes. Ha!) Also, we do three minute time-outs because Lo is 3 years old. She spent the next two days after our little house rules chat testing us to see if we were going to follow through. We did :)

An important part to this whole thing being successful is NO TALKING on the part of the caregiver. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT and it was REALLY hard for me at first. I was so used to lecturing / explaining WHY we don’t do something or say something that isn’t kind etc. It is also my favorite part of the entire process because by eliminating the talking - my days instantly became a lot less exhausting.

Just to give you an example of how this works…one thing that London would do that always seemed to DRIVE ME CRAZY was that whenever she got frustrated she would say “I don’t like you” to anyone that was around; could be me, a friend, her grandparents, a stranger … literally anyone. I tried putting her in time out anytime she said it, didn’t work. I tried ignoring it completely, didn’t work. I tried explaining to her that this hurts feelings and isn’t kind, DEFINITELY didn’t work … but for whatever reason - THIS WORKS. She has only said this once since we began this entire process - which is a major win!

For the purpose of this blog post, here is an example of how an exchange might go (there are LOTS of examples given in the book which really help too!)

London: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?”

Me: “Not right now. It’s too close to dinner time.”

London: “I want one now!”

Me: “That’s 1.” (said calmly and holding up one finger)

London: “I don’t like you, Mommy!”

Me: “That’s not kind. That’s 2.”

London: (yelling) “No!!!”

Me: “That’s 3, take 3.”

At this point ideally Lo would go to her room but if she doesn’t go on her own, I would calmly pick her up and put her in her room WITHOUT SAYING A WORD and start the timer for 3 minutes. When the timer is done I would go into her room and say, “timer is up!" and that’s IT. I wouldn’t lecture or explain why she got a time out … we start FRESH and move on like nothing happened. London is usually smiling saying “let’s read, Mom!” or even “I’m sorry Mom!” … it’s pretty amazing.

Here is another example of the same situation as above, except this time ending in a MOMMY WIN…

London: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?”

Me: “Not right now. It’s too close to dinner time.”

London: “I want one now!”

Me: “That’s 1.” (said calmly and holding up one finger)

London: “Okay, maybe I can have one after dinner!” (exits room)

The first example looks a lot like how things would have gone 2+ weeks ago before implementing this strategy. The second example is absolutely what happens now. Let it be known, I have definitely used this outside of our home as well. I’ve counted at the doctor’s office, at Target, at London’s preschool pick-up and in front of friends/family. If you’re worried about feeling embarrassed when counting in front of other people - throw that out the window. It’s pretty freaking awesome to be able to just say “that’s 1” to get your child to stop doing whatever it is you don’t want them to do.

Our house is definitely a more relaxed place and just calmer overall. London was certainly craving consistency in the area of discipline and we were totally NOT fulfilling her needs. I think children really crave boundaries and the meltdowns that London was having were almost a cry for help. She was frustrated, I was frustrated … and now I feel like my girl is back and we are completely enjoying our time together.

I wanted to share this with other parents because maybe you’re feeling a bit helpless like I did. Don’t lose hope. Parenting is really freaking hard…like REALLY hard. We are all just doing our best. Please take a peek at this book and let me know what you think. I truly hope it meets you where you are! As always, please message me here or DM me on Instagram and I will respond to you if you have any questions! Love y’all! Keep being amazing!!

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xx, Ashley

Malia's 6 Month Update...

 
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It’s safe to say I’m kicking 2019 off with a bang and already forgetting to do a write-up on Malia’s 5th month! Second child problems! Honestly … there wasn’t much of a crazy change in her schedule in regards to sleeping/eating/playing etc. in her fifth month, so it kind of works out well that I’m skipping right to six :)

Malia actually turns 6 months today - so I’ll do a little update on where we are at now! She’s still a champion sleeper, is starting to engage so much with the world around her, sits up unassisted (which is a game changer), is eating solid foods and is just as cheerful as she’s ever been! We are so in love with her…honestly, SWEETEST BABY EVER. I’m sharing lots of info regarding her eating schedule now too, per request, so take a peek below :)

Sleeping

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Malia is still napping relatively well and sleeping through the night. We had about a week of bad naps and poor night sleep when she was sick with a cold, so it really made me realized just how spoiled we are by her amazing sleep habits on a normal basis. She is definitely able to stay awake longer before needing a second nap. I would say her wake times are about two hours…maybe 2 hours and 15 minutes. She is taking 2-3 naps a day, but typically still three with the third nap being the shortest a majority of the time. Her morning nap continues to consistently be the longest of the day (typically 1.5-2 hours), her second nap is anywhere from 45 minutes - 1.5 hours and her third nap, like I said, is about 30-40 minutes. (What can I say, this girl loves her sleep and I’m not complaining!) I’m sure in the coming weeks, we will have her nap just twice a day, but for now this seems to be working. Her bedtime is between 6:15pm - 6:45pm.

We put her down awake at every nap and at bedtime and I’ve found she is much more aware now that she’s older. She fusses a little bit sometimes, but usually not more than 10 minutes before falling asleep. I highly recommend that if you do nothing else sleep wise, that you start putting your baby down awake around 2-3 months old. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be and the more problems you will have. We basically sailed through the 4-month sleep regression because Malia was already consistently putting herself to sleep. The issues were extremely minimal and I know it was due to that. Trust me on this one…teaching them this skill is MAJOR and will help you so much in the long run!

Eating

I consistently share what my girls eat for their meals on my Instagram and ALWAYS get questions about it - especially concerning Malia. I’m not an expert by any means but I’m just sharing what seems to be working for us! This section will be a little longer than the others, because I want to try to be as thorough as possible!

I started purees with Lia around 4.5-5 months. I didn’t put too much pressure on it or have any expectations, I just kind of wanted her to start trying foods, learning to push foods to the back of her mouth and swallow, etc. I know a lot of people like to wait until 6 months with the Baby Led Weaning approach - but this is what we did with London and it worked out well for us so we stuck with it. We are still just doing one meal per day and always at 5pm when London and I eat dinner as well. When we started with just purees Malia typically would eat 1/2-1 jar and 1 Tablespoon of rice cereal at a sitting. Like I said, we did this for about a month or so - letting her just explore different tastes of different foods. Some days she would eat more and others she would eat less … I just took her lead :)

Recently (like, in the past week) I have started to give her more solid foods to try. For example, this week she gnawed on some broccoli and I fed her little pieces of salmon and sweet potato. She loved it all! She actually ate quite a bit of salmon too! I typically put it all in a plate, but she hasn’t quite figured out that instead of smooshing the foods in her hand she can bring them to her mouth - so I help her with my fingers or a spoon. If I remember correctly, London started around 7-8 months using her fingers and feeding herself. I would say just experiment with it and have fun! Let them explore different textures and let them get messy! Try not to get too stressed (I know that’s easier said than done) but keep in mind it is SO good for them to just explore. I love making mealtime a production i.e. when it takes 20-30 minutes I’m thrilled! It’s an activity and it takes up time, so that’s a win! The brand that we love is BeechNut (this is not an ad) and we also do Earth’s Best. I usually get them at Target or the grocery store.

Here are the foods that Malia has tried thus far (not purees): sweet potato, asparagus, avocado, banana, salmon, and broccoli. She has seemed to like all of it which makes me happy! I want to steam some carrots and also try zucchini with her next. I really like following @Feedinglittles on Instagram as a great resource!

Playing

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Lia has definitely been more interactive and expressive as of late. She is now in her stand-up activity saucer which keeps her entertained for a good 15 minutes at a time. She is starting to sit up unassisted which I’m so happy about. She seems to love books, especially ones with a “flap,” she loves to grab for toys/stuffies and of course she enjoys watching her big sister run around and play. She’s finding her voice and exploring all the ways she can make noises with her tongue and lips. It’s so cute to watch. I also just bought a bathtub seat for her which is seriously the best - and I’m so mad that I didn’t buy it sooner! I’ve been able to put the girls in the bath together this week and it’s made life so much easier! They both LOVE it. All baths have been 25-30 minutes long so that’s also a win.

If I remember from London’s first year, SO much happens between 7-9 months and I recall loving those ages. Crawling is next and then comes pulling up and eventually walking - and I’m just so excited for it all. At the same time, I want time to slow down because I can’t believe my baby is already half a year old! It doesn’t seem possible.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Let me know if you’d like me to work on any specific posts coming up - you can comment on my latest Instagram post and I’ll see it there :) Love you all!

xx, Ashley

A Letter To My Second Born...

 
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My Malia Skye,

You are already almost half a year old. It has been 167 days of “getting to know you” my sweet girl…and it has been every bit as glorious as one could imagine. I am going to cry through writing this letter to you, my very first one, but I want to be able to express all of the love I have in my heart for you!

Before you were born it was just Daddy, your big sister and I. I was nervous about our dynamic changing and the big transition we would encounter when becoming a family of four. As soon as they placed you on my chest, every fear or feeling of anxiousness dissipated. It was like you had been with us all along. Every day from that moment forward you have continued to bless us with your sweet disposition and your contagious smile. You are truly the happiest baby and you make life EASY for me; for that I am eternally grateful. When we looked up the meaning of your name, “calm and gentle waters,” it could not be more fitting. You embody that in every way; you have a calming presence and an ease about you that is evident and always commented on by anyone that meets you.

I am so blessed to be your Mom.

I am sorry that far too often you get the short end of the stick when it comes to time and attention from me. The day gets bombarded with a never ending “to-do” list and your sister needs lots of love too. Thank you for being patient. So many times you’re watching me from the playroom while I’m running around the kitchen making dinner feeling like I should be reading to you or playing with you … and our eyes meet. You give me the sweetest side smile and time stands still. In that moment I feel like you really “see” me to my soul…and it’s almost like you’re saying “I’m ok, Mommy. I’m good.” Thank you for the unspoken understanding that you give to me. I live for your little smiles that melt my heart into a giant puddle.

I was already someone’s mommy when you came into the world, but you made me a better one. Just know, you were the missing piece that completed our little family.

Loving you is easy, Miss Malia. I will love you with every part of my heart forever…

Mommy xx

Baby Favorites...

Hey guys! I’m committing to blogging more in 2019! The past few months have been so hectic, I don’t feel like I’ve been delivering my best content or as much content as I would like!

Today’s post and yesterday’s post is more of the things you can expect … more motherhood + lifestyle since that’s just fitting my life these days and seems to make sense :) I always get questions about my favorite products for baby and even though I’ve done a similar post with “mommy must have’s” I feel like today’s post offers a little more detail about each product and WHY I love them so much. If you have any questions - please comment on my latest Instagram post! I’m more likely to see it there and I will get back to you!

xx, Ashley

Honest Product Review...

 
Makeup: Wearing the cream blush, “Blossom” lip crayon and Mascara - by The Honest Company

Makeup: Wearing the cream blush, “Blossom” lip crayon and Mascara - by The Honest Company

I’ve gotten so many questions on my IG about how I like the The Honest Company beauty products! This blog post is totally not sponsored - I just wanted to share some clean, natural beauty products with you guys because you’ve been asking…and I want to make content that you actually care about :)

So…The Honest Company reached out to me (still pinching myself) and said they wanted to send me some products from their beauty line to which I said YES PLEASE! I already use their diapers, wipes, lotion, bubble bath, and shampoo (for Malia) anyway - so I thought it would be fun to try some stuff for myself! I’m really impressed with their skincare and makeup so below you’ll find a list of the products that I’ve tried and I’ll link them so you can shop!

  1. Everyday Primer Matte: I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The consistency is a bit thick compared to what I’m used too. I typically use the Sephora brand primer and it’s pretty lightweight. I must say, I do think it preps your skin well and the smell is very “earthy” which I also like! Again, the verdict is still out - but I’ve used it twice under my tinted moisturizer and foundation and it seems to prep my face well without giving any extra oil!

  2. Cream Blush: I’ve never used a cream blush before but I actually LOVE it. It’s a really soft pink (“rose pink”) and blends really well without leaving your skin feeling super oily! I’m wearing it in the above photo. ($12.99)

  3. Organic Beauty Face Oil: Speaking of oil … OBSESSED. I never thought I would be one to jump on the “face oil” bandwagon but I’m sold. This stuff is actual GOLD. I love how it makes my skin feel when I apply it in the morning and evening before bed. Since it’s winter and everything is extra dry, I feel like my face just soaks it up immediately. I’ve noticed a total difference in how vibrant my skin looks since using this! HIGHLY recommend! ($27)

  4. Mascara + Primer: I am the queen of cheap mascara’s because I feel like I’ve tried a lot of the expensive ones and they either don’t work or they make my eyes / lash line itchy! (Anyone else have that problem?!) Not only does this mascara/primer duo lengthen your lashes and make them look fab, but it’s also affordable so, YAY! ($14.99)

  5. Lip Crayons: YES YES YES! So much yes. Again, because they sent these to me I had never tried a lip crayon and mainly used stains. I absolutely LOVE their lip crayons because you can apply them heavy or light, depending what look you’re going for. They make my lips feel moisturized too, which is an added bonus. The Demi-Matte lip crayons are great because they’re more pigmented for a night out (I love “Blossom”), but I use the Lush Sheer crayons for my natural / every day look. ($12)

  6. Make Up Wipes: I’m not going to lie, I just used these for the first time last night but they did remove a full face of makeup! I’m a big fan of make up wipes in general, but sometimes the scent is too strong so I really like that these have a pretty muted smell! ($3.99)

  7. Eyeshadow Palette: I was VERY excited about this palette - which I shared on Insta-stories. I can’t believe its under $20! The colors are so rich and beautiful and I’ve used it every day since I received it. Highly recommend you snag this up! ($19.99)

    *I also received the “Elevated Hydration Mist” which seems like it would be GREAT for cold, dry winter months. I haven’t used this yet, so I can’t really give a review!

xx, Ashley

New Year's Resolution...

I think resolutions are silly and they always seem to fade away shortly after making them … BUT, I am hopping on the bandwagon and making ONE resolution this year. Are you ready for it?! It’s a real shocker… my resolution is to…

WORK OUT CONSISTENTLY

I have found myself saying recently “I’m going to work out consistently in the new year…that’s my goal.” For whatever reason, every cookie I ate (and there were a lot of them) over Christmas was followed with this internal thought of “I’m going to work out in 2019.” I was getting back to my workouts for a bit, but after Malia got sick and I missed a solid week - I fell off the wagon again! It’s always easy to do anytime you have sick kiddos and honestly, I’m just not as motivated when I’m functioning on very little sleep.

My husband got me 10 & 15-lb weights and a stability ball as one of my Christmas presents and I was so happy because I’ve been needing them. I want to start a lifting program from home because it’s more realistic for me at this season of my life. I’d love to go to the gym and I know I’ll get back there, it’s just not going to happen consistently right now so I’d rather not spend the money on a membership! So…I’m vowing to work out consistently and maybe by posting this blog, I’ll be able to stick to that! The word “consistently” has a different meaning now than it did pre-kids. I used to workout 5-6 times a week but now, I’m happy with 3-4 times a week..I think that’s a realistic goal. I’m also vowing to get up early to work out. I was doing this for a bit and it was AMAZING. I would get up at 6AM and sneak a quick workout and shower in before the girls woke up! I loved it for two reasons: 1. my workout was done for the day and I didn’t have it looming over my head, and 2. I was super energized! After a little morning “me” time, I felt awake and ready to take on the day, so - I’m going to get back to that!

Anyway - I wish you all a happy and healthy NEW YEAR! It has been such a magical year for us as a family…so we will see if we can top it in 2019! Love to you all - and thank you for following along!

xx, Ashley

Gift Ideas For Your Preschooler...

 
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I cannot believe Christmas is just two weeks away! Thank goodness I did a lot of my shopping over Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend … because there is still things that I need to get! Mostly stocking stuffers - but STILL! Never ending!

I’ve been wanting to share some gift ideas with you for your toddler / preschooler! A lot of these toys London already has and LOVES or is getting this year. It’s a lot of “pretend/imaginative play” which she’s super into right now. A fellow mommy blogger on IG suggested buying toys that don’t need batteries … but that can be used over and over and imagined in different ways. That’s sort of the route I am taking this year and probably moving forward when it comes to gift giving!

I did the majority of my shopping on Amazon because they have “Holiday Lists” already made up by age group, which is super helpful. I also hit Target because well, it’s Target! I love to get all of my last-minutes there and stocking stuffers. For stockings, I definitely try to stock her up with new paint, paintbrushes, crayons, etc and then fun things like some candy and gum (which she’s obsessed with).

I hope you’re all enjoying the time leading up to Christmas. It’s so special to have these memories and I’m wishing you all happy shopping in the days to come ;)

xx, Ashley

Malia's Four Month Update...

 
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It’s time for a little Malia update! I can’t believe she’s four months and one week! I’m so excited to share all of the new things she’s been doing!

I guess the major milestone of this month is that we started feeding her some solids! We have started with apples for now - and she seems to like them! Her pediatrician said we could start anytime between 4-6 months and because she has great head control, we decided to try it out with her. She ate about 2 tsp of apples and was basically over it :) We aren’t pushing it…really just sort of letting her experiment. London started out with rice cereal and pears at 5 months old. Literally, the first day she turned 5 months we started it and she ate her entire serving! Like I said, Malia is taking VERY small amounts right now, but I think in a few weeks she’ll get the hang of it!

She’s even more engaged with the world around her now. She grabs for toys and loves anything that plays music or lights up! Her absolute favorite person in the world is London. It melts my heart to watch their growing bond. Malia looks at Lo like she walks on water - and London loves to entertain her.

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We had a bit of a scare this month when Malia spiked a fever and had difficulty breathing. She had been battling what we thought was bronchiolitis for 5-6 days with a lot of congestion and poor appetite. She was drinking maybe half of what she normally would and it was MAJORLY stressing me out. The day her temperature went up, we were told to take her to the ER. She ended up being diagnosed with pneumonia and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus). She is just now starting to feel better after battling this stuff for well over a week. Poor baby! It’s always so scary and difficult when our babies are sick…but Malia is SO little - so it was extra terrifying. Anyway, we are glad she’s on the mend and hoping we can all stay healthy over Christmas! Also, look at this picture of her in her little Johnny! I can’t handle it…she looks so nervous! Ugh! I love her so much.

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Sleep wise, she’s been a champion napper and takes them in her crib now. That’s been a total game changer, not only for my back since she was taking every nap on me in the carrier, but also because when she naps I can have special time with London. She usually takes her longest nap of the day in the morning, which is two hours! She’ll take about an hour nap in the afternoon and usually a 30-40 minute catnap around 3:30/4PM. Bedtime has been 6:30pm for awhile now and she’s been sleeping until 6:30/6:45AM. Typically in the last third of the night, after 3AM, she may need some soothing. I think once she starts to eat solids, she’ll fully extend her night without needing us to rock her/soothe her to sleep at any point during the night. To be clear, we don’t rock her fully to sleep - we may pick her up and soothe her or go in and pat her back (since she’s a belly sleeper) … just something to sort of help her get back to sleep. If you want to read more about how we sleep trained - I just did a full blog post on it and you can click here.

I can’t wait to celebrate Malia’s first Christmas in just a few weeks! She turns 5 months on Christmas day…so that’s extra special :) Our first holiday as a family of four…I’ll make sure to share how it goes!

Have an amazing week!

Xx, Ashley

Sleep Training Tips...

 
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I’m just going to start this off by saying I AM NOT A SLEEP EXPERT. I have done my fair share of research, read my fair share of books, and also worked with a few sleep experts from Baby Sleep Science - and used the same techniques on both of our girls, with much success. I posted a poll recently on my Instagram stories asking if a post like this would be helpful and 89% of you said YES, so I’m giving the people what they want ;) The other 11% can ignore this post, or just check back later when something interests you again!

The first thing you should RUN and do is buy the book “Twelve Hours of Sleep by Twelve Weeks.” Just trust me on this one - it’s a game changer. It’s a super easy read, is very straight-forward and gives you an ACTUAL plan of attack. If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate the detailed plan because it gives you sort of a baseline to work from. I didn’t do absolutely EVERYTHING the book says, but I will say, probably 90% of it I did and both of my girls are amazing sleepers. London slept through the night (7pm - 7am) at 5 months old, and Malia slept through the night at 13 weeks (6:30pm - 6/6:30am).

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Here are a few things that I think are important when it comes to grooming your babe to be a good sleeper…

Establish a feeding schedule

Try to do this around 8 weeks. The book spells out exactly how to do this whether you are bottle feeding or breast feeding. The goal is to try and consolidate feedings so your baby isn’t just “snacking” all day but instead, eating at set times a day. For both girls, we decided on a 7am, 11am, 3pm, and 7pm feeding schedule (give or take 15-30mins).

Establish a consistent bedtime routine

London is 3.5 and we’ve had the same routine since she was 8 weeks old. It consists of a bath (yes, she gets one daily), lotion/massage/pajamas, brush teeth, read books, and prayers. She knows what comes next and bedtime is smooth as can be literally EVERY night because we have been super consistent. I’m a big fan of baths before bed - it’s a pretty clear signal for bedtime and also it calms them down. I also have the sound machine going and play the same lullaby song every time I put my babies down to sleep.

“Eat, Play, Sleep” Schedule

This is also important. If you try to keep this in mind - you’ll avoid the habit of feeding your baby to sleep. I get lots of messages from moms that say their kids will only go to sleep while drinking their bottle or nursing. Of course, that happens when they’re super little because they sleep SO much, but around the 8-10 week mark, if you work to establish this “eat, play, sleep” schedule you can avoid getting into that habit! For example, Malia wakes in the morning and we change her, feed her then let her play for an hour or so before her first nap. We rotate her between her Bjorn bouncer (pictured below), play mat and usually my lap :)

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Put your baby down awake at bedtime

This is KEY. I’m not going to lie, I was SHOOK when it was time to do this with London, but by night three and at 12 weeks old, she was putting herself to sleep with just 1-2 minutes of fussing. We used the “limited crying” method that the book suggests. Essentially, you put your baby down, pour yourself a glass of wine (do NOT skip this step), and if he/she starts crying then you start a timer. After 3-5 minutes, you enter the room and “shush” him/her, give them a pacifier, pat their backs - whatever it takes to calm them without picking them up. When they calm down, you leave the room and repeat. If you buy the book, there are even more details to help you with this part - but I think this is the CORNERSTONE of helping your baby learn to good sleeping habits!

Nap Tips

Nap training is zero fun. I put it off until London was almost six months but started earlier with Malia. I would say the key here is to try and wait until your baby is consistently putting themselves to sleep at night. If you know they’ve mastered this skill, than you know that they will be able to put themselves to sleep at nap time. There may still be some crying…but you’ll get there. I would say doing a shortened version of your bedtime routine at nap time is a good place to start! Skip the bath of course, but if you change their diaper, put the sound machine/lullaby song on, read a book - those are all indicators that it’s time for sleep.

I think it’s typically the 5-6 month mark when babies can connect their sleep cycles, so don’t get discouraged if you get some short naps. You’ll get there. You can try letting them cry for 5-10 mins if they wake up after one cycle, to see if they’ll put themselves back to sleep. I did that with Lo and after just a few weeks she would put herself back to sleep after a short nap.

If you guys have any questions - let me know! Like I said, I’m not an expert, but I have done lots of research on this sleep stuff because mama is a BEAR if she doesn’t get her rest :) I hope this helps some of you!

xx,

Ashley




Toddler Travel Made Easy...

 
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London and I are taking a quick 3-day trip to Charleston this weekend to watch some of Chris’s games and spend some one-on-one time together! That photo above was taken the very first time we visited Charleston! Lo looks like such a baby!

Seriously, traveling with her is so much fun. Some of you might read that and think I'm crazy - but she gets so excited for the whole experience. She loves being at the airport, going through security (wonder how long that'll last), getting on the airplane...etc. This will be the 11th flight she has taken and each time gets better and better. 

I wanted to share some "must haves" when it comes to toddler travel. I know it can be stressful at times, I get it; but I think if you try to make it as fun as possible than they will feed off of that energy. First things first...I highly recommend traveling with a BACK PACK as a carry-on. Just trust me on this. You need two hands (and sometimes three). I really love this one by Skip Hop and if you’re looking for a cheaper version, this one is under $70.

The next thing that's a "must have" is a lightweight, compact, and easy to fold stroller. Our BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller is an actual lifesaver and I can't say enough about it. It's folds up in literally five seconds and is small enough to fit in the overhead compartment on the airplane. Once it's folded, it has a shoulder strap for easy carrying and it weighs just 15-lbs. I can't tell you how many people comment on it when they see us fold it up or open it; just how easy it is! There's also a pretty convenient compartment underneath to store small items if needed. If you’re looking for a less expensive travel stroller, I’ve heard great things about the Nano Travel Stoller by Mountain Buggy.

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Now, for a few tips while you’re on the plane…

I typically like to time flights so they’re during London’s nap time. Now that she’s older (almost 3.5 years), I just booked the cheapest flights :) She does still nap, but will be able to handle a missed nap for one day. Prior to flying, I alway hit the Target Dollar Bin for some activity books, sticker books, and anything small I can fit in my carry-on backpack for her. I pack a few of her favorite snacks, books, plane-friendly games, and of course – the iPad. Lo is old enough to understand how headphones work and she loves wearing them. I got these Mpow Kids Headphones for this trip - and they’re great.

Important tip: I highly suggest bringing a travel pack of Purell Sanitizing Wipes. It gives me peace of mind to wipe down the germ-infested airplane. I also bought the travel-sized Purell to attach to the strap of my backpack. I cannot tell you how many times I use this throughout the day when we travel!

I don’t leave home without…

Blackout shades; these are cheap paper shades that I always travel with. Actually I just keep them in my car. I use them when we stay at friend’s houses, hotels if needed, etc. They’re easy to fold and carry in your suitcase.

4Moms Travel Playard: Hands down, best ever and easiest set-up. It comes with a travel bag so we just usually check it in for the flight. I’ve struggled HARD with other pack n’ plays, but this one is absolutely AMAZING.

Sound Machine; Another thing I never travel without is this $20 plug-in sound spa. You never know what the noise level will be at the hotel so I prefer to make sure unnecessary things don’t wake my babes! Doesn’t take up a lot of room in your luggage either!


Lastly, as far as I’m concerned all bets are off when traveling. Screen time increases, the amount of snacks can go through the roof and I’m not above a good dum-dum lollipop bribe! You just do what you have to do, knowing that things will return back to normal as soon as you exit the aircraft HA! The moral of the story is to HAVE FUN and try to enjoy what can sometimes be a stressful experience, but doesn’t have to be!

I hope this is helpful for any of you that’ll be traveling with toddlers soon! Make sure to follow along on my Instagram to see our adventures in Charleston!



Malia's 3 Month Update...

 

Happy Monday!

Major news of the 3rd month is that...Malia is SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! It’s been six straight nights of 12 hours for her (7p-7a) and it’s just so amazing. London slept through the night when she was five months old - which is still wonderful - but 13 weeks for Malia and we are THRILLED. Chris has been hoping she would master this before the start of the season and it looks like he got his wish, since their first official game is tomorrow!

She also rolled for the first time at 12 weeks exactly! We watched her on the monitor one night go from her belly to her back and she just did it again this past week - also in the middle of the night. Of course, I would prefer she practice her skills during the day, so we have been doing lots of tummy time and I’ve been helping her roll both ways! I’m already kind of dreading the 4-month sleep regression, which I know is kind of inevitable. Just hoping we can navigate it well...and without creating any bad habits! Anyway, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. 

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I love that she can recognize me from across the room now. Nothing makes me happier than seeing her giant smile when our eyes meet! Any parent knows how amazing that feeling is! She is super smiley and giggles when I do funny things - like hit myself in the head with a plastic water bottle ON PURPOSE (there’s no shortage of things I’ll do for a baby laugh). I’m convinced she’s the most chill baby ever; she just watches London play and tracks her all around the room as she dances and sings. London is built in entertainment around here and God knows I love that! Lia rarely fusses; only when she’s tired or hungry. We are seriously so blessed by her sweet disposition...she’s just an angel!

She has a big trip to Maine coming up! She’ll be spending 4 days with Grammy and Grampy while I take London on a trip to Charleston to catch a few of Chris’s games! I’m really excited she will have this time with them - and I know they’ll appreciate it too. 

Above you’ll see a photo from her first Halloween :) She wore her cousin’s costume from last year - just adorable! I’m gearing up for my Charleston trip next week so I’ll make sure I post in preparation for that - all of my tips on traveling with a toddler! Be on the lookout!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

xx, Ashley

Fall Adventures With The U.Fund Dreams Tour…

I don’t know about you guys, but this Fall has seemed to fly by INSANELY fast. I feel like we have almost skipped it here in New England - for the second straight year - as it went from 70-degree weather to temps in the 40’s, basically overnight! Maybe it’s having two kiddos that makes time go by even quicker, but just like that it’s almost Halloween! Ahh!!

Speaking of Halloween, I spent last Sunday with London at the Stone Zoo for their “Boo at the Zoo” event! We had never been to this zoo and we’d also never participated in their halloween-inspired event. London had THE BEST time seeing all of the creative costumes. I tried to get her to wear one but she turned me down…and of course the second we arrived at the zoo she wanted her costume. Toddler life, right?!

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Of course we saw every animal on exhibit for London, but I also paid a visit to the U.Fund Dreams Tour tent to ask a few questions about setting up a college savings account for Malia. While Lo was participating in the fun activities located in the tent, she made my heart burst when she asked to hold up the sign that read “I want to be an astronaut.” It further solidified my thoughts that we made the right decision starting a college fund for her early to help her achieve her dreams!

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The U.Fund College Investing Plan is offered by MEFA and managed by Fidelity Investments. MEFA is a nonprofit that seeks to make higher education more affordable for families and has been doing so for more than 35 years! If you save early by making regular monthly investments in a tax-advantaged account it can make a big difference. In a graphic provided by the team at the U.Fund tent, I learned that saving even just $50 a month could be worth approximately $23,000 in twenty years.

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I LOVE the fact that family and friends can contribute to your child(ren)’s account with online college gifting. This makes it super easy for everyone!

It’s never too early to start saving. We’re super excited to support both of our girls, just by putting away a small amount each month. If you’re interested in learning more or opening an account for your little one, go here.

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This post is sponsored by MEFA and Fidelity; as always all thoughts and opinions are my own.

xx, Ashley