Target Mother's Day Haul...

Happy Tuesday!

Last night I went to Target to scour the aisles for some Mother’s Day inspo! There are so many cute things (naturally) that I wanted to buy for myself but I have will power!! :) I shared all of them with the swipe up links on my Instagram stories but just in case you missed them, you can shop them below!

I tried to share a variety of options - gift ideas for the fit mom, some home decor ideas, even a vacuum because that’s the kind of gift I want (ha!) and more! Shop below by clicking any of the items!

Stay tuned for more Mother’s Day guides! Have a beautiful day!

Malia Skye: Birth Story...

 
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It's been the most magical week and five days since little Malia Skye entered our world! She fits so seamlessly into our family, as if we've known her all along. I've called her a "unicorn baby" many times because of her sweet disposition and champion sleep habits. Big sister London has been a champ as well. We had no idea what to expect but I must say, we have been so pleasantly surprised and she has exceeded our expectations. Watching London take on her new role with enthusiasm is a big reason why this past week has been as amazing as it has been. I'm just so proud of her. Of course, she has her moments because it is after all a massive transition - but overall, it's been a pretty smooth adjustment :)

I wanted to share Malia's birth story because I've gotten lots and LOTS of questions on Instagram about being induced (i.e. why, how it was, etc.), whether I got an epidural or not (I DID!), if I'm breastfeeding (NOPE!), and more - so I thought I'd put it all here :) 

The Induction

Both of our babies were born on their due dates because we decided (in conjunction with our doctor) that we would be induced. With London, honestly, a lot of it came down to timing and Chris' job. He travels basically the entire month of July, and since London's due date was July 1st, our doctor suggested we be induced. She knew mommy + baby were both healthy at 40 weeks and that I was pretty stressed about Chris being gone so soon after the birth. We were all for it considering we could plan the time/day of induction and plan with our family so they could be here to experience it!

Fast forward to July 25th - which was Malia's due date - and we found ourselves with a planned induction once again. A lot of people asked me why we chose to be induced...and my answer was kind of like "why not?" We had the most amazing birth experience being induced with London and I wanted a similar experience this time around as well. I asked my doctor the same question and she sort of had a similar answer like, "why wouldn't you be?!" I trust her 100%. She is incredible; has been doing this for 30+ years and delivered over 6,000 babies! We absolutely adore her, so when she said we could do another planned induction we were all for it.We were scheduled to check into Brigham and Women's at 9:30AM. When we arrived they took my vital signs, did the necessary paperwork and got us onto the floor pretty quickly! My sister arrived for the fun around 11AM, just after my nurse (who was amazing by the way!) started my IV. I don't know why, but getting the IV started was something I was most nervous about...I think I'm crazy ha! Anyway, once that was in place we just hung out for awhile until Dr. Bunnell (my doctor) came to check on us and run through how the day would progress. We were all so excited to get the show on the road and meet our girl! They started me on Pitocin around 1pm (the same time they started me with Lo!) and from there they kept increasing the drip until come 6pm, my contractions were lasting 45 seconds and about 1 min, 20 seconds apart. 

The Epidural

I waited pretty long (I think) to ask for my epidural and maybe even wish I had asked for it sooner. Holding completely still so they could place the catheter in my back while simultaneously having contractions was less than fun. Not to mention, the resident had a difficult time finding the right "space" and by the end it took prob 20 minutes and I was dripping in sweat. It also took about a half hour for the epidural to kick in and even then, I didn't fully cover the pain. In fact, I started feeling CRAZY pelvic pressure shortly after and called my nurse in around 7pm. My exact quote was "why am I feeling this? I don't want to feel anything!" My doctor came in and checked me and said as calm as could be, "well, I think we could push once and have a baby!" I'll never forget the feeling I got when she said that! I just wasn't expecting it and it was like a huge rush came over me. I instantly started shaking with adrenaline and Chris and my sister were SO excited. We just couldn't believe it all happened so fast! 

The Birth

Malia's actual delivery really was in fact, one push. I pushed for a whopping 7 minutes with London, and this time (according to my doctor) it was 45 seconds and through one contraction. There's no rhyme or reason but my doctor tells me I'm made to have babies...who knew?! Either way, I'll take it! Malia Skye entered the world at 7:13pm weighing in at 7 lbs, 6 oz and measuring 21.5 inches long! She looked SO much like London when she came out with her slanted eyes and squished nose...Chris and I felt like we were having deja vu! Her fingers and feet were so long - we noticed right away and the nurse even measured her foot! It was 4 inches! Ha! She also didn't make a PEEP when she came out. No crying, whimpering, nothing. At first I was worried, but no one else seemed concerned at all, so we just went with it. She didn't actually make a sound for about three hours. Her name is Hawaiian, meaning "calm and gentle waters" and I just kept saying that she totally lives up to her name. I still feel that way 12 days later.

The post-birth snuggles are so magical. I felt like this time around I was able to be so much more present and really soak in the moment. It was beautiful and I will cherish it forever. Every fear I had about making space in my heart for baby number two went completely out the window the moment I pulled Malia onto my chest. It was like I had known her my whole life and she had always been part of our family. She has captured our hearts in so many ways and we just feel so blessed to have two sweet, beautiful girls to love and spoil forever! 

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Thank you all for your incredible love and support! Your messages were read and noted ... and even though we couldn't respond to every single one, we felt them all! It's so fun sharing this journey with you all - especially beautiful moments like these!

xx, Ashley 

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What's In My Bag: Part I...

Happy hump day! It's already been a WEEK prepping for baby but also recovering from a 24-hour stomach bug. Thank goodness my mom has been with us - she's such a lifesaver! I am working on a part II post to go along with this one - and it will be all about what's in my hospital bag! This time, I wanted to share my favorite diaper bag, Fawn Design, what I pack in it on a daily basis and also for when we head to the hospital! 

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I was using a shoulder diaper bag when I had London and quickly learned how much easier it is to use a backpack. I LOVE Fawn Design because not only is it a backpack, but it also gives you that shoulder strap option if you want it as well. I went with the "original black" because I think it will go with everything + I love the softness of the leather. It also doesn't scream "diaper bag" which, for me, is important :) I wanna still look stylish! 

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There a few "staples" that I never leave home without and ALWAYS stay in my bag:

- An extra pair of clothes/undies for Lo

- Snacks...snacks...and more snacks

- Wipes and hand sanitizer

- Dum Dum lollipops (because sometimes desperate times call for treats!)

- Books and a few activities on-the-go with a packet of crayons

Now that we're about to welcome baby number two, I've added a few more things to the bag and guess what - it all fits! Yay! Here's what I have for the babe: 5 diapers, disposable changing pads, Burts Bees diaper cream (I swear by this! I used it every diaper change on Lo and she never had one rash!), muslin blanket (love this feather print, under $15!), Wubbanub / pacifier, and an extra outfit and socks!

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The Fawn bag has so many little pockets inside to keep things separate. I always carry "on the go" Neosporin and bandaids just in case because TODDLER and I of course need a spot for my wallet and phone; there's room for it all! 

I hope you all have an amazing rest of your week! I'll work on my "hospital bag" post - hopefully before this baby decides to join us ;) Thank you all for following along! 

xx, 

Ashley 

 

Family Shoot...

 
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We did a family shoot a few weekends back with our dear friend, Patty with Kivalo Photography. She has been a part of our biggest moments and captured our wedding, baby announcements, this maternity shoot and many others. I went back and forth on if I wanted to get photos done mostly because June was such a busy month for our family however, I could NOT be more excited about how these came out. Patty knew that we didn't have a lot of time and she captured this all in under 45 minutes with a rambunctious toddler, on a bright sunny morning (both which make for challenging photographs) She is such a pro and we just love her so much. I wanted to share some of our favorites, which was hard considering how many we loved! 

Thank you, Patty for working wonders! 

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xx, Ashley 

Bumpdate: 25 weeks...

 
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Hi All! 

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week :) We have entered our 25th week, baby is the size of a cauliflower and GOSH I feel like she's tap dancing on my bladder! I wish I had a portable potty with me everywhere I go HA! It's getting insane. We are starting to zero in on a few favorite names (finally) and think about what we want her nursery to look like! I have some fun ideas, but I can't really do anything just yet because we're MOVING! I posted this photo with the caption about us moving today on Instagram and got a bunch of messages asking WHERE! Well, we are happy to be staying in BOSTON ... we will just be moving into a bigger place with more space! I'm so glad we will continue to be close to family and friends to have their support when needed (which I'm certain will be a lot) Anyway, we are looking to move June 1st - so in the meantime I'm starting to plan what we want to sell, purge, and take with us. I always love the idea of starting fresh in a new spot + I'm totally in the "nesting" phase so this will be perfect :) 

Anyway, that was kind of a "life" update and here's the bump-date: I'm feeling OK. Ha, I will elaborate, but..I don't feel AMAZING and I don't feel terrible...just meh. I will definitely say (as I have shared previously) this pregnancy is MUCH different than the last. With Lo, once I hit 10 weeks I had a bunch of energy and physically I felt great...not pain, pressure, back aches, etc. Baby number two came in a bit HOT, for lack of a better term ;) I find myself getting winded and out of breath much quicker, needing to take more frequent breaks, and icing my back whenever I get the chance! The pressure is also much more intense this time around..which is less than fun. The good news is...the icing totally helps AND I've started seeing a chiropractor which I feel is helping with the sciatic pain. I'm still sleeping well - so that's also really good and I'll take it as long as I can! 

I'm working on a post about baby registry "must haves" and I should have it up next week! I'm so excited to share the things that I LOVED and couldn't live without when we had London ... and also a few new things that mommy's have suggested I get this time around! 

Thank you for following our journey - I always love the support! 

xx, 

Ashley 

How To Stay Fit During Pregnancy...

 
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When it comes to working out during pregnancy, I know it can raise a lot of questions or even anxiety about the types of things that are safe to do! I am by no means a doctor or physical trainer ... so I'm just going to speak on what works/feels best for me but make sure to check with your OBGYN if you have concerns.

I think the most important thing you can do in general is to MOVE. This can mean anything from taking a walk or going for a swim to a more intense aerobic exercise or yoga. I will say, the later I got in my pregnancy the first time around - swimming and yoga felt AMAZING! Being in the water made me feel light and buoyant and yoga was super relaxing. At the start of my pregnancy, for the first 13 weeks or so - it was really difficult to workout; I was happy if I did something twice a week. The nausea and lack of energy is really taxing on your body, so make sure to cut yourself some slack. If you're nearing the end of your first trimester you'll be feeling that energy make a come back, so hang in there! 

Just a side note as well - with my first pregnancy, once the second trimester hit, I tried to maintain workouts 3-4x / week. I think this kept my weight down (I gained 32 total pounds) and I KNOW this helped with the type of recovery I had. My body bounced back pretty quickly and I was able to resume exercising about four weeks postpartum. Keep that in mind when you're working out ... not only is it great for you and the baby, but it's also going to help you AFTER baby and make things easier in the long run!

Here are a few tips to help you stay fit during your pregnancy ... 

Tip #1: Stay Hydrated! This is so important. I always fill my water bottle at the start of the day and try to maintain drinking a steady flow of water throughout. If you're exercising, you should definitely be drinking even more than you normally would! I find that drinking water and making sure I have the right amount of fiber in my diet helps combat that lovely side effect of pregnancy called constipation. (I know...such a joy right?!)

Tip #2: Fuel your body! It's hard to muster up the energy to work out in general let alone when you're pregnant and attempting to on an empty stomach! If you like to workout in the morning, try to eat something 45mins - 1 hour prior to exercise! I like to eat oatmeal with berries and half a toast with peanut butter! Oatmeal keeps me full longer and I always have enough energy to get through my workout. I make sure to bring a snack to munch on after my workout as well (usually a banana or a granola bar!) 

Tip #3: Find an exercise that you enjoy! This is KEY. If you are a member of a gym you don't like or attending classes that don't mesh with where you're at - you'll make excuses and wind up not doing much of anything! The important thing is finding something you look forward to doing that will keep you motivated longer! I have recently started doing a 45-minute boot camp class Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. It's pretty intense...but I feel SO good after and it's nice to get a sweat in. The instructor helps me modify certain exercises too, which helps! Because I LOVE the way it makes me feel, I look forward to the class! Finding a workout buddy to keep you on task helps too!

Tip #4: Listen to your body! Your body is going through a TON of changes. If you need a day to rest, do it. If something doesn't feel right and you're in the middle of a class - stop. It's not worth the extra push to injure yourself. Personally, I started having sciatic pain around 20 weeks. It's been really painful and at times, certain exercises trigger it more than others so I have to just listen to what my body is saying and back off if need be. I also have a lot of pelvic pressure so sometimes the jumping exercises feel less than good. I modify the exercise to whatever I can handle - again, as long as you're up and moving that's half the battle and to be applauded! 

Tip #5: Don't be afraid of weights. You don't need to give up weight-training just because you're pregnant. Of course, I don't think this is a time to take up power-lifting, but weights are GOOD for you. Contrary to what you might think, lifting weights can actually alleviate muscle aches and pains associated with pregnancy. It also prepares your body for labor and birth ... and as I mentioned above, helps you "bounce back" quicker postpartum! 

I hope you found these tips helpful! Again, make sure to consult with your doctor about whatever programs/exercises you want to do - it's always nice to get cleared by them first! 

xx, 

Ashley 

 

 

Halfway To Wine: 20 Weeks...

 
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Bumpdate: 20 Weeks

Cravings: French fries, chocolate chip pancakes, orange juice, lemonade, strawberries, oranges

Symptoms: Ligament pain, pelvic pressure, fatigue, slight nausea in the evenings

 

We have had QUITE a week which started out with the news that we are adding another GIRL to our little family of three! We are so super excited...and knowing the gender just makes everything that much more real! I flew solo to Charleston, SC to watch my husbands college basketball tournament. I saw one game, flew back to Boston, watched the semi-final game on TV (which they also won) and ended up booking last minute flights for myself and London to go BACK to Charleston for the championship game! It was a little bit INSANE, but totally worth it. London had the BEST time and even though my husband's team fell short, it was an amazing experience. Traveling with her is just so much fun and she brightened up a pretty miserable day. 

Now back to the pregnancy! We are 20 weeks already...and as the title of this post says...HALFWAY TO WINE! It's so interesting that I never craved wine when pregnant with Lo but this time around - I would LOVE to have a vat of pinot noir. I kind of thought I was carrying a boy because of how different this pregnancy has been from my first. I STILL have bouts of nausea (which I'm so over) and with London I felt great by 10 weeks. So that alone has been much different! My food cravings are a little bit insane as well. I was ALL THE GREASY foods; french fries, cheeseburgers, chicken nuggets, etc! I crave sweets at an all time high too! It's really difficult to ward them off and I try my hardest to make good decisions but sometimes the craving wins out! I do feel like I was much more active during my first pregnancy. Of course, I'm busy chasing a toddler around - but I haven't made time for the gym and have been squeezing in a few workouts here and there at home. I'm hoping that can pick up once the weather gets warmer and we have a chance to get outside for walks! 

Our next appointment is in a few weeks but from here on out they are just quick ones with our doctor. I can't believe we won't have another ultrasound and the next time we see baby girl will be when she's placed in our arms! Ahhh! This pregnancy is going by so quickly - so much so that in just FOUR months we will be ready to welcome her home! That's just wild to me. I need time to slow down a bit. I've been thinking a lot about what having another child means for London. Of course, I know she will love her sister and we are giving her the best gift, but I also know that there will be A LOT of things going on in her little brain and I just worry about it. I'm sure that's normal for all parents who are about to add another baby to their families. I'm working on a post that's pretty near to my heart - a letter so to speak to my "firstborn" and I'm having a hard time getting through it! It makes me really emotional. I can now understand why parents have such a special place in their hearts for their first child. My mom tried to explain it to me once, and I couldn't understand ... probably because I was their third ;) ...but now I get it. They're the baby that makes you a mom...that opens your heart to a love you never knew existed...and you experience every "first" with them. Needless to say, there are a LOT of emotions we are feeling and I'm sure that rollercoaster will continue for the next few months - until baby arrives! Thank you all for following our journey! It's been so much fun to share and document it along the way!

xx, 

Ashley 

It's A...

 
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GIRL!!!!

AHHH!!! WE ARE SO THRILLED and EXCITED to share this news! We are adding another little princess to our family and it still feels like we are in a dream! 

We found out yesterday morning and it's already INSTANTLY felt more real! I love being able to refer to the baby as "she" or "her!" Picturing London with a little sister gives me ALL the feels and makes me so happy. I have the most incredible relationship with my own sister, who is my very best friend, and I just can't wait to watch the two of them form their own beautiful bond! Here are a few photos from yesterday, when we found out! Also - I'll share more details soon about names we love, how we told London, and if I feel like our family is complete, etc! 

P.S. With London, we had the ultrasound technician write the gender on an envelope in hopes that Chris and I would open it that night over dinner. Well, that didn't last long. We grabbed Starbucks and ended up tearing open the envelope in the car sooooo...we decided to do the same thing this time! Pretty uneventful for a gender reveal, but it's something unique and special to us :) 

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xx, 

Ashley 

Moms Day Out...

 
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Last weekend I got a chance to spend quality time with some of my favorite mamas sans-kids for a fun "Moms Day Out" experience! We spent the morning/early afternoon together - enjoying an amazing Core Cycle class at Exhale Boston Battery Wharf and then headed over for a fun brunch at State Street Provisions! It was the perfect Boston day that was MUCH needed for all of us!

Exhale has a GORGEOUS space and spa. I had been to the location in the Back Bay, but really loved the fact that this was part of Battery Wharf Hotel oh, and the valet parking (which you can get validated at the gym). We took the new Core Cycle class and it was amazing! I haven't done a spin class in months, so it felt great to sweat it out for 45 heart-pumping minutes. Our instructor Erin was super motivating and once she shut the lights off and cranked up the music the energy was electric! We were all dripping sweat, but it felt awesome.

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We also got SO many compliments on our matching shirts from Jam Threads (which you can see above!) It was a cute little touch that just made our day even that much more fun! Also, not only are they super cute but the material is so soft; all of the ladies said the same thing! Cute + comfy, for the win!

After class, we were able to take advantage of the beautiful deluxe full-service spa that Exhale has to offer! They provide you with plush bath robes and comfortable slides, and even if you're not booked for a service you're able to use their sauna, detoxifying hammam, the "quiet spa lounge," and rain showers (complete with heated towel racks!) I think the calming zen lounge was super appealing to us mama's, since we all have toddlers :) We enjoyed sipping tea, lemon-infused water and just looking at magazines. A few of the girls LOVED the sauna, which I sadly had to skip because...pregnant! I did take the longest, most luxurious shower I've had in awhile, using the shampoo/conditioner and body wash provided! There are lots of other amenities too such as body butter, hair spray, hair dryers and even mini straighteners to use if needed! We spent over an hour just relaxing and it was incredible. We will definitely be back to enjoy another class/spa experience soon!

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After an intense workout, we were so ready for our yummy brunch at State Street Provisions! The restaurant has a chill vibe and also a large fully-stocked bar! They made me the yummiest "mocktail" and the other girls loved their hand-crafted drinks. The brunch menu is super diverse and it took us quite awhile to decide what we wanted because EVERYTHING sounded so good! I highly recommend the burger served on an english muffin; it was absolutely delicious! We were also surprised with a little dessert from the chef - a cappuccino mousse with orange and almond biscotti. It was the perfect ending to our meal...I think we nearly licked the plate clean :) Not only is the food incredible, but the location is perfect! It's right around the corner from the New England Aquarium, across the street from Faneuil Hall, and walking distance to TD Garden! 

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We had such a refreshing day hanging out in our city and enjoying some "kid-free" mommy time! What are some things that make you feel refreshed?! 

xx, Ashley 

Special thanks to Jam Threads, Exhale, and State Street Provisions to helping to make this day so much fun! 

Markwood, Party Of Four...

 
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SURPRISE!!! 

Today, I am so excited to share some amazing news! We are growing our family this July, and we couldn't be more thrilled! We had been trying for about 6 months before I took a test and it was POSITIVE! Best feeling ever! The fact that it took us a little longer to get pregnant with baby #2 than it did with London is a blessing. God's timing is perfect, and with a July 30th due date, we will bypass the craziness of my husband's busiest month (July). We are so thankful and blessed to be completing our little family! 

I'll be honest, it took me awhile to feel like I was truly ready to begin trying for baby #2. London and I have such a great thing going and are in such a groove together at home, that I wasn't sure I wanted to mess with that! I think what I really struggling with was fear. Fear of the unknown, worried about Lo feeling some type of way, etc. I just kept feeling God pull at my heart and tell me that we were meant to have another baby. I felt him preparing me slowly...and sure enough, just before Lo turned two, I felt ready! Seeing Lo with Shia (her cousin) has only further solidified our excitement. She is going to be the sweetest big sister in the world. I can't wait to watch their little love story unfold. 

We are so over the moon and excited to share this journey with you. Stay tuned for "bump" updates and more coming soon! 

xx, Ashley 

All of these amazing photos were taken by our dear friend, Patti Takacs with Kivalo Photography

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Cape Elizabeth, Maine...

 
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My family and I decided to spend our vacation in the place we love so much...MAINE. Chris and I have vacationed in Maine the past 7 years (could be more? Too lazy to do the math) ...but the moral of the story is, we just can't get enough of it. We typically go to Kennebunkport and stay at a hotel or bed & breakfast, but we decided to rent a house this year!

We have never used Airbnb but have always heard great things about it from friends and family who have! I started sifting through properties throughout Southern Maine everywhere from Kennebunkport to Ogunquit to York, Wells, etc. I happened upon a Cape Elizabeth beach house and immediately fell in love. The reviews showed that guests absolutely loved the home (which has been recently renovated) and that it was a perfect location in reference to the beach. It was also 3-bedrooms which was the perfect size for our little family! We were so excited it was available to book! 

When we arrived there were fresh flowers on the table, a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge and ground coffee from C Salt ready to be brewed. Such a warm welcome! The decor was very "beachy" and modern, with a big farmhouse-style sink, floating shelves, and the prettiest shade of green cabinets in the kitchen that caught my eye! We simply loved every little touch! Of course, London immediately wanted to check out the beach - which was just a short walk. Thankfully, the home owners provided us with the cutest wagon to cart everything down! It was really such a perfect set-up. I had never been to Crescent Beach so I was excited to check it out! It's pretty perfect for little ones because it's so calm, being that it's a cove. There are tons of rocks, which could have kept Lo busy for hours - she loved to throw them and also collect them in her bucket. Kettle Cove is another small beach area where we took Lo to search the seaweed for crabs! 

Not only was the location of the home so close to the beach, but it was also close to Portland, where we had planned to take the 15-minute ferry ride to Peaks Island. We rented a golf cart and were able to get around the whole island in just an hour - even making a few stops to see where my husband attended elementary school and the home that he grew up in! It was so much fun to share it with London, and she absolutely loved bombing around on the golf cart! 

We were able to have a few friends and family members over to check out our little beach home and spend quality time with us which was really special. It's definitely a place we can't wait to return to and build more memories together! I wanted to share some photos with you - and if you're interested in checking out the home further, you can click here!

Thanks for stopping by!

The home...


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Peaks Island...

xx, Ashley 

Best Playgrounds In The Boston Area For Toddlers...

Hey Boston Mamas! 

I recently wrote an article for Mommy Nearest about the best playgrounds to take your littles too! We live in Watertown, so I included some in the city but also in the Greater Boston area as well :) Enjoy! 

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The playground is the perfect place to let your child burn off some energy, explore, meet up for play dates and get some fresh air. As a new mom, I was so excited when my daughter learned to sit up so she could finally enjoy the bucket swings. And once she started walking I couldn’t wait to watch her toddle around and play on the equipment. I quickly realized that those once relaxing trips to the playground were becoming stressful. I turned into my daughters shadow, trying desperately to keep her away from the dangerous climbing structures and giant slides!

Thankfully, I've been able to find the spaces meant just for little ones who are learning to walk. Think soft surfaces, bucket swings, small slides, tunnels to crawl through and lots more. Here are eight of the city's best playgrounds perfect for your toddler! 

1. Alexander W. Kemp Playground, Cambridge

Why it’s good for toddlers: I’ve nicknamed this one “natures playground” thanks to the design landscape of hills, sand, wooden structures and water features. There’s something for everyone here, including a water table which is always a crowd favorite. Little ones can't get enough of the sand (there’s A LOT of it) and the adults will enjoy that the playground is mostly shaded. It’s the perfect place to let your kids explore their surroundings safely.

Insider tip: There isn’t a parking lot, just metered street parking so make sure to bring some quarters!

2. Victory Field Playground, Watertown

Why it’s good for toddlers: I absolutely love this playground for its soft rubber surface, tunnels to crawl through, and the mini playhouses where little ones can sit and eat their snacks. There are also bucket swings and small slides for even the smallest babes. Not to mention, it’s all fenced in! If you go on a hot day, half of the playground is shaded by trees, which is nice.

Insider tip: Although this is about 15 minutes outside of the city, it's worth the drive. Make a morning of it by hitting the Starbucks just down the road or grabbing breakfast at North 11 Beacon—our favorite diner!

3. Winthrop Square/Minot Playground, Brookline

Why it’s good for toddlers: This park is fully fenced in and offers a large play area for kids, plus a splash pad. There is grass for your little ones to explore and “no dogs allowed” so you won’t have to worry about any unpleasant surprises (if you know what I mean!). There's lots of shade to be found, provided by the surrounding maples, and plenty of benches to catch a break if needed while still keeping a watchful eye on your little one(s).

Insider tip: Pack a picnic or enjoy a snack near the beautiful rose gardens at this park.

4. Ringgold Park, South End

Why it’s good for toddlers: The main attraction of this playground is the park fountain, which cascades water from top to bottom for one hour, three times a day (9-10am, noon-1pm and 6-7pm). Another “perk” of this playground are the walkers and “ride-on” toys that local families have dropped off for other kids to enjoy. Your little one will enjoy pushing or riding them around the fenced in rubber surface and/or the basketball courts next door.

Insider tip: There are always events going on at this park, so check the website for more info! Just recently they hosted a “garden tour” and a musical event for kids.

5. Billy Ward Playground, Brookline

Why it’s good for toddlers: This playground has been recently renovated and now includes a splash pad and sand box area. A wooden toy train structure will be a favorite with your little one, and they’ll love watching the older kids climb up the rock wall! I love that the “tot lot” is separated and on a lower level than the “big kids” area; it lessens the chance of any accidental run-ins.

Insider tip: There are picnic tables on site so pack a meal and enjoy a whole morning or afternoon outdoors.

6. LoPresti Park, East Boston

Why it’s good for toddlers: Let your little ones play while you take in the incredible views and the epic Boston skyline! The playground has the basic equipment (swings, slides, climbing structures, etc.), but the real win is the four acres of green space for kids to run through. It’s such a hidden gem!

Insider tip: The park offers “Family Zumba” every Wednesday at 6pm during the summer months.

7. Charlesbank Esplanade Playground

Why it’s good for toddlers: Located right off Storrow Drive, this playground is large and fenced in which makes it an extra safe place for your little one. The soft rubber surface helps, too! There are two short slides and six infant bucket swings, so it’s likely your kiddo will never have to wait on one. On hot summer days, you’ll be happy to hear there is a splash pad as well.

Insider tip: Parking can be a bit tough due to the location of the playground, so plan ahead time wise (the walk is worth it!).

8. Peters Park, South End

Why it’s good for toddlers: Most playgrounds cater to certain age groups but neglect others—not Peter’s Park! Not only is it great for toddlers with the infant swings and low-to-the-ground structures, but if you’re a parent of multiples, there are larger structures for kids’ ages 5-12 here too. The rubber surface will limit the inevitable bumps and scrapes that come when you’ve got a curious toddler in tow.

Insider tip: Limited shade on hot sunny days so bring sunscreen! Also got a puppy? There’s a dog park right next door!

Do you have a favorite playground that didn't make the list? Please share! We are always looking to try new ones :) 

xx, Ashley 

London Turns Two...

 
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Over the weekend we celebrated London's 2nd birthday with a flamingo-themed party! She LOVES flamingos and since they're so popular right now - it seemed like the perfect thing to play up! Of course, it helps that they're pink and we added little pops of golds and some tropical colors which made for a cute combo! Target has such adorable decorations and I was able to get a little bit at a time, since we are there at least once a week :) 

I found London's romper at Baby Gap - and of course I can't find it ANYWHERE - but I linked her "runner-up" outfit choice below, which was only $7.99 and equally as adorable! The first outfit just matched her crown better :) We celebrated with a BBQ and had hamburgers, hotdogs, potato salad, watermelon and lemonade! I made chocolate and vanilla cupcakes - chocolate with green frosting for the flamingo toppers and vanilla with yellow frosting for the pineapple toppers! (I suppose blue frosting would be cute on the flamingo ones to simulate water, but I went with green ;) The toddler table is from KidKraft and was actually one of London's gifts. The past week we've been using it inside to do arts + crafts, but it can easily be taken outside for use there as well! 

Yesterday we continued London's birthday by going on a duck boat tour around Boston (thanks to Chris's boss, who rented one for the whole Northeastern Basketball team, and for letting us tag along :) Lo was so happy and absolutely loved it...so did I! I've been wanting to do one since we moved here three years ago and I'm already planning the next time we can go again!

Anyway, I've linked some of the things below like decorations, Lo's table, etc...so you can shop those there! Thanks for stopping by! 

...

London's Romper: Gap (I couldn't find it, but we also bought her this one as another option!)

London's "2" crown: Similar here (I literally bought this last year at Marshall's - so I can't find the exact one!) 

Tables & Chairs: KidKraft

London's Red Car: Step2 Easy Steer Sportster

Flamingo cupcake toppers: Etsy

Pineapple cupcake toppers: Etsy

Flamingo inflatable drink holder: Target, also here

Pineapple inflatable drink holder: Target, also here

Hanging paper lanterns: Target

Tablecloth: Target

Desserts: Me :) 

xx, Ashley

On My Second Mother's Day...

 

I'm a big puddle of tears. 

Being a mother is a dream come true and has exceeded any expectation I ever had. It's the gift that keeps on giving because literally every day, when I look into London's big brown eyes or hear her sweet little giggle, I am reminded of God's grace. I'm reminded that God has entrusted her to me for this time on Earth...His precious jewel and treasure. What an overwhelmingly beautiful image that is. I say "overwhelmingly beautiful" because I often feel incapable and insufficient as a mom. How could I possibly be "enough" or have what it takes to be everything she deserves?

As I sit here with tears coming down my face, I think of my own mother and what she is to me. How she used to sit on the edge of my bed and sing to me in the dead of night because I was scared. Or when she would greet me after school with snacks and always with a smile. She would laugh with me, and she would cry with me too. She taught us about Jesus and that at the end of the day, when all is said and done, "God is bigger than all of it." Most importantly, she was PRESENT; for every event big or small...for every victory and every loss. When I think of her and how she epitomizes the word "mother," my heart can rest because I know that I have had the best teacher. 

Almost two years ago, I became a mommy for the first time; I love London desperately. The wild part about it all is that somehow, the depth of my love for her grows more and more each day. I pray that she will always know and feel the love of her parents, and most importantly, the love of our Savior. Even on days when I feel like I don't have what it takes, I am reminded that LOVE is enough.

Mamas - We are all in this together! Tackling this whole "motherhood" thing is the hardest job in the world and we are doing the best we can. Our children will always remember the way we made them feel so love them, cherish them, and tell them how special they are. 

I hope everyone has the most perfect Mother's Day...thank you for coming along on this journey with me!

xx, Ashley

5 Ways To Explain "Mom Life" + Cute Mama Gear for Mother's Day...

Happy Monday! 

Here's a fun little "mommy" post for you, with Mother's Day right around the corner :) There are so many things that I expected motherhood to be, and while it's exceeded my expectations in more ways than one ... there are definitely ups and downs. Today, I'm sharing a few ways to explain what "mom life" really means...plus below you can find some last minute gift ideas for the mama's in your life! The shirts are adorable, and the mugs ... come on, every mama needs a mug :) Enjoy loves!

1. Emotional. SO MANY EMOTIONS and feelings! Ha! I cried yesterday because London will be two in just a few months. I can't handle how fast the time goes by...and it makes my heart hurt. I want to bottle this age up and keep her here forever! It's also emotional because HELLO toddler :) She's discovering her independence and finding her voice which is exciting, but also an overwhelming time for her...trying to deal with all of the feelings that come with that! 

2. Rollercoaster. One second we're singing Disney songs together and the next she's rolling around on the ground because she decided she actually DOESN'T want me to sing with her. We're happy and we're sad. We're happy then we're mad. I mean....there really is NO consistency. Nowadays its difficult to determine what could set her off. Thankfully, these tantrum moments are just that ... moments. She is easily distracted (for now), however, I'm not sure how long the distraction technique will work. I know we've got a super determined and strong-willed little girl, which I love, it just makes it a little bit daunting to think about the "threenager" year that I hear so much about! Eeek! 

3. Melt downs. Still learning how to manage these as they come, but "mom life" nowadays definitely includes them! I absolutely LOVE being a stay at home mom...and being here for every moment (good or bad), but that doesn't mean it's not mentally exhausting or difficult. By the end of the day I try to reflect on how I can deal with certain situations better and it's a work in progress. Finding patience and understanding when my sweet baby is rolling on the floor screaming for no reason is definitely something I'm trying to improve on :)

4. Laughter. No matter how many melt downs or tough moments we have in a day, we are never short on laughs. She is a little rascal who will do anything to garner a laugh from me :) I love watching her personality come out - she's a little spitfire! 

5. JOY. There's literally NO ONE else I would rather hang out with than Lolo (and her daddy of course). She is so much fun to explore and learn with...and even though she has her moments, the laughter + love that she brings to my life is more than I could even imagine. She's articulate, curious, sassy, strong and gosh, she's funny. She's given life a deeper purpose, and I'm so happy I get to be her mom.

 

xx, Ashley 

 

 

Fit Friday: TeamBurn30

BEFORE: With my workout partner for the day + fellow mama of 2, Nadia!

BEFORE: With my workout partner for the day + fellow mama of 2, Nadia!

AFTER: We did it! Dripping with sweat, and ready for a nap!

AFTER: We did it! Dripping with sweat, and ready for a nap!

This month has been CRAZY which has meant a lot of squeezing in workouts whenever I can. Between London's schedule, spending close to three weeks in Maine, and the 90+ degree weather, I was searching for some extra motivation!

I used to workout at least 1.5 hours, 5 times a week and while staying fit and healthy is still a priority, it's just not feasible to maintain that at this point in my life. Mom life is a constant balancing act + when you're working around two naps and a grazing baby who eats 5 meals a day...it leaves you little time for yourself! If I can get 30-45 minutes ... I'm happy! With that said, when I found out that Healthworks was offering Team Training and particularly, TeamBurn; a 30-minute workout that includes high-intensity cardio intervals for a total body workout, I was SOLD. I brought my headphones so I could plug into this mic-pack thingy (yes, that's the technical term) where I could here the instructor Claudia and music at the same time. It was awesome to block out everything else that was happening in the gym and just focus! 

The workout was done solely on the treadmill + it was intense! After a brief warm-up and stretch, we started right in with 9, 30- second sprints and a short rest (VERY short rest) in between. We moved on to hills, where we alternated between different inclines and kept a brisk walking pace. Claudia was super engaged with us the whole time + I felt like I totally pushed myself way harder than I would have if I had been working out on my own. I loved feeling the sort of "team" atmosphere and sweating it out together! (Trust me, you'll definitely SWEAT if you do this workout :) *If you're interested in trying a TeamBurn session...click here for more info! 

If you'd like to try a workout similar to this, here's what you can do:

Warm-up: 2 minutes, brisk walk

Stretch: 5 minutes

Sprints: 30 seconds, Rest: 15 seconds x 10

Hill Climb: Brisk Walk (whatever you feel comfortable) 

Incline: 5.0 for 2 minutes // 7.0 for 1 minute // 10.0 for 1 minute // 12.0 for 1 minute // 5.0 for 2 minutes 

Cool Down: Walk: 5 minutes 

Grateful Memorial Day...

 

 

I hope you all recognize and acknowledge the incredible freedoms that we are granted every day because of the people who went before us and who are presently defending us. I am so grateful to be able to live freely, love freely, and watch my daughter grow up in a secure place. I love this photo that my friend and amazing photographer took in the Boston Common ... it epitomizes the word "freedom." I hope you all had an amazing weekend ... Stay tuned for lots of photos from our weekend in Northern Maine! 

xx,

Ashley