Kokadjo, Maine Getaway...

A few weeks ago we snuck away to spend time at my parents camp in Kokadjo, Maine. It's such a peaceful setting and since there isn't any cell service where we are, we have no choice but to unplug and just enjoy each other's company :) As soon as we start the drive, it's like I instantly relax and take a breath. I love going through each sleepy town on our way there, sometimes stopping at our favorite spot in Monson, Spring Creek BBQ. Passing through Greenville my anticipation begins to mount as I know it's not long until we are to our destination. "Camp" (which is more like a house now since my parents have expanded it and added electricity, running water, etc) instantly makes me want to change into sweats, put on a trucker hat and "rough it" without a care in the world. We love to pile into the back of my dad's pick up and ride around to see if we can spot a moose. Of course, we're guaranteed to see lots of wildlife, but catching a moose is the real treat :) My sweet mother always has LOTS of candy and treats waiting, plus everything needed to make s'mores (which we always do). This time, we brought the Sound of Music by London's request so we could have a movie night. So fun! Now that she's getting older, she loves to explore all that nature has to offer - and there's  A LOT up there! My parents also had a swing built for her with the best view of the lake and the mountains. She's the luckiest girl in the world - so spoiled! 

I took a few photos and wanted to share them with you all! Thanks for stopping by! 

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 Your 2nd Birthday...

 

My beautiful, sweet London girl...

You have graced this Earth with your presence for two amazing years today. I am so full of love for you and all that you bring to our lives. You are kind, caring, sensitive, loving, curious, just a tad sassy (which I secretly love), and a ball full of energy! You have SO much personality, which has completely blossomed this past year. I absolutely LOVE having conversations with you...the meaningful ones (which you probably can't quite grasp just yet) and the silly ones - especially the silly ones :)

I fact that I get to spend every day with you is an absolute honor and privilege that I will never take for granted. I will always be thankful that your Daddy supports this whole stay-at-home-Mom gig, because these are the absolute best days of my life.

Here are a few things you do that make me smile and that I never want to forget...

When we "pretend sleep" + you wake us up by kissing our noses

When you say "can we go outside or somethin', maybe?" (I just think it's the cutest!)

How obsessed you are with your "blankie" ..and how even though you have two of the exact same, you prefer one over the other

How before nap/bedtime you ask, "Can you rock me, mumma?"

How excited you get when you ask to watch one of your favorite shows or movies, and we ACTUALLY say yes :)

That you love to play hide + seek...which means mostly just telling us where you're hiding and saying "Have you seen London?

When you have memorized a book and recite the whole thing back to us

Anytime you're singing and dancing (which is basically all of the time), it makes my heart so happy!

When you say your own prayers ... which usually means thanking God for the playground and for pizza ;) 

When you ask for heart or triangle-shaped toast in the morning

I love how excited you get to see your little buddies ... you want to give them all the hugs and kisses

You LOVE to eat ... and always want either Mommy or Daddy sitting with you at the table

How you pretend to rock your baby doll, change her diaper, and push her in the stroller...you're going to be the best big sister one day!

How helpful you are! You love to help me with the laundry, putting the dishes away, and sweeping the floor; Mummy's big helper!

 

I love all of these things and so much more! You're incredible in every way and I'm so honored to be your Mom!

I love you to the moon & back baby,

Mumma xo

Monthly Motherhood Update: 22 Months...

 

Favorite Food: Popsicles which London calls "possibles," watermelon, corn, salmon, haddock, and all kinds of fruit but particularly pineapple at the moment :) 

Favorite Things To Do: Go to the playground, sing, dance, EAT (she's always asking for treats!), and go to the farm (Drumlin Farm). She is kinda like her mama in the sense that she likes to stay busy! She gets a little bored just playing around the house so she is always asking to go to the playground or "go for a ride" which I think means to go somewhere in the car :) I love keeping us on the go by planning fun activities and little day trips. 

Most Aww-Worthy Moment: She sings some of the lyrics to the Hillsong United song "What A Beautiful Name" and it melts our hearts. If you haven't heard it you can listen to it here and then imagine a little girl singing it back to you...it's the sweetest :)

Most Exciting Thing She Did: She's eating exclusively with her spoon and/or fork, so that's fun! Makes meal times less messy and I think it's all part of the whole "independent toddler" thing! She likes to do everything herself nowadays!

Fun Things We Did This Month: The three of us enjoyed a Mother's Day staycation at the Colonnade in downtown Boston, which was so much fun! I did a full post on that here, so you can check it out :) We also took London to the zoo last week and she's STILL talking about it. She loves listing all of the animals she saw...her favorites being the "big ostrich" and the hippo! My sister is due with her first child in July, so my mother and I threw her a "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" baby shower! We had SO much fun planning it and then watching it all come together! I shared lots of photos from the day in a post here. We also purchased a membership to Drumlin Farm - which is just 15(ish) minutes from our house and super fun. They've got tractor rides, a huge garden with a farm stand, sheep, goats, cows, horses, chickens, pigs, and more! It's a really great place to visit or go for a picnic! It was a really busy and FULL month - as I feel all of the warmer summer(ish) months are, and I can't believe the next time I write this Lo will be 2!

Biggest Thing I've Learned: The past few weeks have been difficult as we are dealing with a death in the family. I guess the biggest thing both myself and my husband have learned this month is that children will keep you grounded and bring you back to earth! London is so young that she has no idea what is going on of course, so she's just as rambunctious as ever...which has been super helpful. She's kept us laughing and has been the most perfect distraction during a difficult time. We are even more thankful for her and the joy that she brings to our lives now more than ever!

xx, Ashley 

Feature: Sugar Shacks Teepees...

 

Playing "hide and seek," building forts with blankets and pillows, reading books, and having tea parties ... These are a few of London's favorite things! When she was about 18 months, we went to a friends house and they happened to have a teepee that Lolo discovered and NEVER came out of. She was obsessed, so I knew we just had to get her one of her own. When I started to research "play teepees" online and on Instagram, I came across the most BEAUTIFUL designs from Sugar Shacks Teepees and instantly fell in love! They're so delicate and detailed + I also loved that they were neutral to fit into any space in the house! Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I love lace - so that was a large reason why we chose the Isabella Teepee! It's just so gorgeous and sweet. 

It took us about 60 seconds to put the teepee up (so easy!) and we couldn't wait to decorate it! Sugar Shacks also sells these adorable flower toppers which add a little something extra to the top of your teepee. You can see mine in the photos above and below - the pink floral garland :) We also added our own pillows and a blanket to make it extra cozy. (You can shop Sugar Shack's teepee mat here!) London loves her new little space ... I think she feels like it's her special spot. She brings all of her stuffed animals inside and reads to them, or even her tea set so she can have tea parties. It's really adorable to watch. She uses it so often, that the teepee is in our family room, but I don't mind because it's so gorgeous that it only adds to the room! 

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You can shop for your own Sugar Shacks Teepee here and make sure to check them out on Instagram! 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 

10 Things I Swore I'd Never Do When I Became a Mom...

 
Photo: Kivalo Photography

Photo: Kivalo Photography

I was pretty much the best mom ever before I had kids. Apparently reading Dr. Oz's book, "Having A Baby" can turn you into a real expert on the art of parenting (insert eye roll here). I'll be the first to admit that I was real judge-y pre-child bystander and now I'm totally punching my own self in the face because of it. Soooo many things I swore I'd NEVER do have already been done and were probably done in the first week of my daughters life. Let's be honest ... we're all just trying to make it through the day alive, am I right? I hope you enjoy this post as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

1. Bribe

I'm not sure what I was thinking before, but bribery is actually the best thing ever. These mini transactions don't happen daily, but I'm not above a good bribe every now and again. It's amazing how far one m&m or a lollipop can get you! 

2. Let my kids watch TV

This was one of my major "pre-mom" rules. No TV before two because the doctor says so and because my kid isn't going to be completely mesmerized by technology. Oh really? Nope. If I'm being completely honest, this "rule" went out the door pretty quickly (like, around 4 months in). Lo would get super fussy around 5:30-6 every evening so we would put "Baby Einstein" on for 20(ish) minutes and it was pure magic. Fast forward to today (18 months in) and I'm like, "honey, you haven't watched Mickey yet today - do you wanna watch an episode?" And I refuse to feel badly about it. 

3. Let my child leave the house without looking anything less than their best

You guys, I try. I really do. But some days I'm just not up for wrestling her into a dress or pinning her down to get the cute little bow on her head. If she's got socks, pants, and a shirt on (preferably all clean) then we're good to go! 

4. Feed my child anything but well-balanced meals

This is a great mindset to have, but then this little thing called life happens and the next thing you know your kid is eating pasta for the third night in a row. You're bound to have at least one day/night a week of food mayhem. Typically it happens for us when I need to do groceries, but naturally haven't yet. I try my hardest to make sure she's getting balanced meals with fruits, veggies, protein, and good fats all sprinkled with gold flakes (HA!), but sometimes London asks for pizza on a night when my energy is low and I just go with it; mostly because it's like she knows when I'm vulnerable and takes advantage ... that level of manipulation deserves to be rewarded my friends! 

5. Use the "sucker thing" 

Goshhhh, it's gross but I found out REAL quick that my unofficial job title would be "booger extractor." Somehow my skills trump my husbands in this category so he gets a free pass (eyeroll). BK (before kids) I swore that I would never use the "booger sucker" and I'm over here using it basically every other week ... essentially a professional. UGH. Seriously though, the Nose Frida is pretty much the best invention of life, can I get an Amen?! Who even uses the bulb sucker thing? IT DOESN'T WORK. 

6. Give up "me" time 

Ummm...come again? I'm not sure what "me time" is considering I don't even pee alone these days. I definitely underestimated what a time-suck having a child is...and I mean that in the most loving way ;) I do miss sleeping in on weekends and going to brunch without rushing home for "nap time" or even shopping alone. Who knew that doing groceries solo would sound like such a treat! The truth is, she takes all of my time and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

7. Formula feed

BK: "Surely my child won't have difficulty latching...she'll just snuggle right up to me and know what to do!"

My gosh did I underestimate how difficult breastfeeding would be. It was stressful and disappointing when I finally decided to start Lo on formula; I felt like a total failure. Once we got into a groove it was fine and I realized that she was super happy and thriving - which is what ultimately matters most! 

8. Use food to reward good behavior

I should have known I would never be able to stick to this considering eating is one of my favorite past times ;) It's REALLY fun to be able to say "London, let's go to Target and then we can go to Starbucks for a treat!" The truth is, I get pretty fired up for a Starbucks run and I love that I can share it with her. Is that so wrong?! (Don't answer that). 

9. Call my husband to excitedly discuss our kids poop

I'm kind of embarrassed at how many times this has happened, but isn't it just delightful when your kid FINALLY gives you a soft bm?! It's totally worth a phone call, am I right? And who better to call than your hubby whose been patiently waiting on the edge of his seat! (Come on, please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?!) 

10. Make plans to fit around nap or bed times

"I'll never miss Chris's games - I'll just bring London with me!" or "London will just nap on the go, wherever we are!" Yea right. I'm basically a slave to London's sleep schedule. Not only have we missed every single one of my husband's 7PM basketball games (due to London's bed time) but I make sure I'm home for every CRIB nap. I value sleep (and a schedule) way too much to chance messing it up. Yep, I'm THAT Mom and I'm actually ok with it these days.