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 

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...


The beach...


Peaks Island...

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! 

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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

Monthly Mommy Update: 21 Months...

 

Favorite Food: Watermelon, corn, "salad" (loves lettuce), tomatoes, greek olives. I also discovered at our Easter dinner that she loves brussel sprouts! I had never given them to her because I just assumed she wouldn't like them! Jokes on me I guess! P.S. I'm so excited for warmer weather because we have been using the grill lately and just eating lots of fruit! It's amazing!

Favorite Thing To Do: Go on the swing at the playground. This is new development because she never used to love the swing...all of a sudden she stays on for about 30 minutes. The difficult part is, she doesn't like giving other kids a turn...she thinks it's her swing (oops...toddler problems). She also LOVES her new water table that a friend gave us! I bought some cute water toys at Target and she loves to splash around with them! Here's one I found for under $35!

Most Aww-Worthy Moment: Watching her chase down eggs during the Easter egg hunt was pretty amazing for me. She was SO competitive and was frantically trying to gather as many as she could. Being that my husband and I are sports people ... you can understand why this would be an "aww-worthy" moment for us (LOL!) I love to watch her competitive little spirit come out!

Most Exciting Thing She Did: Goodness...what's NOT exciting these days. The fact that she says something new nearly every day is pretty freaking exciting. The other day, I asked, "honey, are your shoes too big?" to which she replied..."no, they're great!" Oh my heart. I about fell over. I LOVE having conversations with her and I know this is only the beginning but I never want to forget these little feelings or moments with her! I try to jot it all down in her little baby book...so we can reflect later :)

Fun Things We Did This Month: London and I hosted a little Easter party for her friends, which was super fun. We made cupcakes, did crafts, had an egg hunt, and watched some Frozen of course :) I loved watching Lo look for Easter eggs ... she was SO excited. We celebrated Easter day by going to church and doing a nice dinner with my in-laws! (You can see photos from our day, here) We took a visit to my parents house for a long weekend and had a really fun time. Lo loves to ride on the four-wheeler around the farm and visit the chickens! I can't wait for strawberry season and consistent warm sunny days ... then we'll REALLY never want to leave Grammy and Grampy's!

Biggest Thing I've Learned: I've noticed that Lo is more independent lately. She wants to try to put her shoes on, read books by herself, and feed herself EVERYTHING, etc. It's a tough adjustment for me as a mom because I'm so used to doing things FOR and WITH her (which I love to do!) and now, all of a sudden, she wants me to give her space. Wahhhh! I'm thankful that she can play solo and entertain herself...but when I sit on the floor and she tells me "mumma gonna sit on the couch" a.k.a. away from her ... it stings a little bit! I have been letting her have extra t.v. time just so I can sneak cuddles and be close to her, is that bad? I just feel like she's growing up so fast and I want to hold as many moments as I can...motherhood can be a real B sometimes. Actually, not motherhood...TIME; time can be a real B.

xx,  Ashley 

8 Tips For Flying with a Toddler...

 
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Lolo asleep on our flight from Charleston...

(Disclaimer: Mamas, please know, I do NOT consider myself an expert on traveling with kids, and I know, I only have one child - but I simply wanted to share some things that helped us along the way in hopes that they can in turn help you!)

Airplane or no airplane, traveling in general is very stressful. It feels like you literally have to pack your entire house up even for just one overnight and if you're going away for multiple nights, forget it, you should probably pack your life away! Sometimes it seems easier to just stay home. I know for me personally, I am always happy to have a change of scenery though, and yes, while it is stressful - I'm super excited once we reach our final destination! London and I are very used to road trips. We have been road warriors since she was just two weeks old when her Daddy would go on work trips and we'd head three hours north to Maine. Flying, however, we've done much less of. Lo has been on five flights in her short lifetime, but all have been actually quite smooth and (dare I say) FUN! I am definitely a "plan ahead," type-A mom, so I did my research before her first flight + since it was a success, have followed the same sort of "protocol" in preparation for each trip.

Here are a few of my top tips for flying with a toddler. If have a young baby, I shared a few helpful hints on that last year, here

1. Book non-stop. Even if you have to pay a little extra ... it's a small price to keep your sanity! Once you're on the plane and settled in with all of the 'ish' that you brought, the last thing you want to do is MOVE. Trust me on this one, if you can swing it, it's worth it!

2. Make sure one of your seats is an aisle seat. This is super important. If you're flying solo, just go ahead and book the aisle seat because you definitely don't want to feel trapped by the window or like you can't get up and down as needed! I walked the aisles for basically the entire three hour flight to Florida last year and while it was exhausting, London was happy and most importantly, quiet! 

3. Plan your flight during nap time. We do this as best we can and when we have flown during London's nap, it has worked out well for us. As soon as the "fasten seatbelt light" goes off I walk the aisle with her and rock her to sleep. Just recently, she slept the entire two hours from Charleston. Also, I think the hum of the plane's engine kept her asleep longer! Score!

4. Bring all of their favorite snacks...and I mean ALL of them. If you want to know the way to a toddler's heart, it's with yummy snacks! Here's a list of what I brought on our recent trip: Raisins, goldfish, grapes, Ritz crackers, applesauce, graham crackers, and string cheese. Thank goodness I have the world's best diaper bag from Skip Hop that has a million compartments, all of which were used on this trip! (I love their backpack too!) 

5. Download your kids favorite show and/or movie. My rule for traveling is: THERE ARE NO RULES. Whatever keeps them happy or satisfied (as long as it isn't harmful) is basically fair game. The iPad was my best friend on our flight from Boston! It ended up taking longer than expected, so the fact that we had Frozen and Mickey Mouse ready to go really kept Lolo happy and me, sane! If you need children's headphones, Amazon sells some really cute ones for kiddos! 

6. Buy a small new toy or book for the trip. I recommend waiting to show them their "surprise" until you're on the plane. We bought Lo a Frozen microphone that plays the songs from the movie, and she loved it! It was perfect because it was small and easy to pack. Any book with flaps is a good idea and if you can find one with a lot of pages, even better! Karen Katz books are always a hit; we love this one and my mom bought this one along on our latest trip.

7. Have a sippy cup or chewy snack ready for take-off/landing. I was really worried about the altitude and how it would effect London's ears, but she seemed fine. I gave her raisins, which I figured is the next best thing to gum and she went to town ;) I also had her sippy cup filled with apple juice, which is a treat for her. 

8. Bring a stroller for the airport and check it at the gate. I don't think we could have survived without our stroller; this is really a must! We love our Graco Fold Jogger because it has a big compartment underneath to hold all of our stuff - but if you're looking for a smaller one that may be better suited for travel, I've heard great things about the Quinny Moodd stroller and the BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller as well! The BABYZEN YOYO+ is just 13 pounds, easy to fold up and carry with ONE hand. We are traveling to Disney World in a few weeks, and I think we're going to bring this one along! 

Thanks for stopping by! 

xx,  Ashley 

 

 

Monthly Mommy Update: 19 Months...

 

Favorite Food: CARBS. Basically what I hear all day is "I want more crackers!" ... this little chick could eat a sleeve of Ritz and be perfectly happy with life. Please tell me this is normal! I also introduced her to bagels and cream cheese (oops!) and that's what she wants for breakfast everyday. Bagels and pancakes. WHAT HAVE I DONE ;) ...I can still sneak some oatmeal and fruit in there too, thank goodness! 

Favorite Thing To Do: Our mommy friend just gave us their toy kitchen and London is obsessed! She loves all of the pretend foods and it's so cute to listen to her as she "cooks" and puts things in the fridge. Her favorite things to "cook" are couscous and corn! 

Most Aww-Worthy Moment: She loves to say "hi gorgeous" to everyone, and it's so sweet! I've posted a few videos on my Instagram via my "instastories" because it's just too adorable! When I say she says this to everyone, I mean it! The cashier at the grocery store, our waiter at breakfast, and a random lady at Dunkin Donuts. It's totally her go-to line because she's figured out REAL quick that it almost always gets a pretty stellar reaction ;) 

Most Exciting Thing She Did: London has started to go down the stairs on her own! (Does that count as "excitement" in mommy world?!) Ha! We have baby gates at the top and bottom of the staircase, but just in case I ever forget to close the gate at the top, we've been trying to teach Lo to slide down the stairs on her bum. Sure enough, one day the gate was open and I heard her say "go down on bum!" and when I ran out of the bedroom, she was sitting on her bottom at the top of the stairs waiting for me. My first thought was sheer panic BUT then I was just so happy that she decided to sit as she had learned to do rather then plummet head first. Mommy win ... and Lolo win I guess - because no one wants to take a tumble down our wooden stairs! 

Fun Things We Did This Month: Honestly...this month has been ROUGH. Lo got sick starting February 1st and wasn't really feeling well until the 20th! Three trips to the doctor and one ER visit later ... she had croup coupled with a double ear infection, then bronchiolitis and was dehydrated in there somewhere! It was insane! She had really high fevers and didn't want to do anything but just lay and snuggle with me. It was hard to get her to eat or drink + I hated that she felt so terrible. We spent most of the month resting, recovering and watching WAY too much Frozen. I felt guilty about that for a hot second but...then I didn't. It was the only way to get her to actually rest! We are looking forward to warmer temperatures on the way! 

Biggest Thing I've Learned: This month has been a real DOOZY. I'm ready to say goodbye to February and HELLO to spring and some warmer weather. When Lo is sick it really throws EVERYTHING off and makes each day seem extra long. With a husband that works long hours and travels a lot - it can make life pretty near miserable to be quite honest and maybe THAT'S what I learned this month. That it's ok to be HONEST about motherhood and how it can really suck sometimes. I don't want to sound ungrateful - because trust me, I know how blessed we are to have an overall healthy baby girl ... but some days just aren't all that glamorous. Most of this month was spent in sweatpants with greasy hair and no make up. Blogging was a struggle as it's hard to feel inspired on little sleep and when life gets stressful. So, mamas ... it's OK to admit that motherhood is hard, often draining and sometimes just plain sucky. It doesn't mean you aren't appreciative for this life or blessed to be a mother, it just means you're going through a tough season. Remember, it will pass and you'll come out stronger :) 

xx,  Ashley 

Monthly Mommy Update: 18 Months...

 

 

Favorite Food: CHEESE. Goldfish. Yogurt bites. She basically asks for these three things full time ... and she mixes in the occasional ketchup request. A new one to add to the list is olives ... GREEK olives that is. She absolutely LOVES them so we make a weekly trip to Sophia's Greek Pantry in Watertown to stock up :)  

Favorite Thing To Do: Sing! She sings ALL the time. She loves the songs from her Music Together class (I wrote all about it here) and a few of her other favorites are: "Twinkle Twinkle," "You are my sunshine," and "Jesus Loves Me." Too cute! She's also really into imaginative play right now - she pretends to change her doll on the changing pad...gets a diaper out and asks me for a wipe :) Then I'll hear her say "have a good day" while she carries an empty shopping bag and pushes her shopping cart. 

Most Aww-Worthy Moment: She loves to fold her hands and pray, which she randomly does throughout the day. I'll hear her saying "Thank you for an amazing day, for Grammy, for Lolo, for Daddy...Amen!" It's pretty adorable and it makes me happy that she's absorbing what we're teaching her :) 

Most Exciting Thing She Did: She can count to 15! One day she counted to 10 and I was SO excited then she randomly kept going! I had no idea she could count that high, but I'll take it! 

Fun Things We Did This Month: At the beginning of this month we celebrated a belated Christmas with my husband's side of the family. It was really fun to have everyone here and especially his brother, who flew in from Wisconsin! Chris has been traveling a lot for work, so London and I have taken a few trips to Maine this month as well. Last week, we all went to a "baby farm animals" event at the Little Lovage Club in the South End. London got to meet and pet baby goats, bunnies, and pigs. We had so much fun and even went to a fancy Italian dinner after, where Lo was an absolute dream. 

Biggest Thing I've Learned: I'm trying to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom. I've just come to the realization (only took me 18 months) that there are going to be days when I'm not feeling well and it's OK to put Mickey Mouse on in order to get 20-30 minutes of relaxation. Also, London will be ok if one-two times a month she has to eat mac n'cheese. I think sometimes as women, we put SO much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. It's so much easier to just stop pretending that we've got it all together and realize that we're all just doing the best we can! So, go pour yourself a glass of red, park it on the couch, and watch some trashy TV - you deserve it! 

Also, when do we stop counting in months?! I don't wanna be THAT mom that gets asked how old her kid is and says "33 months" ...I'm thinking after two? Help me out! ;)

xx,  Ashley 

Cutest Baby Footwear...

 

I've been drooling over baby moccasins every since I found out we were pregnant because, let's be honest, how adorable are those itty bitty feet?! Honestly, I never purchased a pair because they all seemed to be too pricey, but that was before we discovered BirdRock Baby! We are absolutely in LOVE with London's new baby moccs - which are the softest ever! She even wears them around indoors because they're so comfortable. We call them her little "house shoes!" They also go with SO many of her outfits! The best part, if you're frugal like me, is that they're completely affordable! (Can I get an Amen?!)

We ordered two pairs; one in "ruby red" and another in "espresso." As you can see, we chose a size large or 6.5, which fits her and still leaves her a little room to grow as well! 

You can shop the moccasins here! Hope everyone has an amazing day! 

xx,  Ashley

Easter With The Markwood's!

Yesterday was a great day ... busy & hectic ... but GREAT! We loved celebrating London's first Easter right here at our little Massachusetts apartment. It was nice not to have to travel anywhere, but to wake up in our own beds and lounge. We did a little food prep the night before, so we could enjoy Sunday for the most part. We got London all dolled up for Easter service and had a little pre-church photo shoot (which was totally my husband's idea) Haha! We hosted Chris's mom and stepdad for dinner which included: Ham w/a brown sugar glaze, green bean casserole, mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade rolls, and deviled eggs! For dessert I made carrot cake cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting ... I must say - these were a big hit! London sat at the table with us, tried ham for the first time, and absolutely loved it! By "loved it" I mean, she wouldn't eat anything else but ham...probably should have given her veggies beforehand, but ehh - it was a holiday so I let it slide :)