Some of My Faves - Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2014

July 21, 2014

Last year, one of my BFFs introduced me to the glorious Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. I was never a big Nordy's customer - just bought the occasional item here and there (mainly shoes because their shoe department cannot be beat). But this sale... it. changed. everything.

I really hadn't thought about it much since last year, until my friend reminded me that it was coming up. She setup an appointment on the first day of early access and that was it - my mom and I headed up there and I pretty much blew my entire annual budget for clothing in one day.

Not really, but the deals were so good that I spent entirely too much. Because once I got home I also did two rounds of shopping online as well. Not just for me, but also for the U and a couple of things for the kids.

The sale came at the right time - I'm in a total transition when it comes to clothes it seems. I recently cleaned out my closet and am trying to stick to classic pieces, so we'll see how long this lasts! I'm a sucker for a sale, but I'm also tiring of the cheap clothes I buy that don't last me more than one season.

Here were some of my faves for the ladies this year:


1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Clearly I'm afraid of color, aside from at the gym.

Also - word to the wise - if you have children, leave them with a sitter. I didn't and it was utter chaos. I'll be going at it alone next year because this sale can start to become a bit overwhelming.

Summer Funk

July 19, 2014

I don't know what it has been about the middle of the summer, but I've been in a total funk. It has been a struggle to get me to do things. I've lost my joy in cooking, I don't take out my camera to snap shots of the kiddos. And the heat. Oh the Texas heat - it's miserable. Funny enough, the one time I've blogged lately was when we had a record low day and the weather was incredible.

I'm not depressed, just to clarify, I think I just need a reset.

We've had a decent summer, but nothing crazy fun and I think that's what we are missing. So, in two weeks, we are heading on a road trip with the kiddos (and Meme, of course) to Colorado and the U and I hope to do just that - reset.

Go on an adventure, stop at all of the touristy spots on our way up, smell the fresh air, enjoy the outdoors, make some memories with my family in a place that has a bit more scenery than good old suburbia Texas. One last little trip before the chaos of school begins for both kids this year.

And maybe the reset will help me to find the inspiration to blog a bit more. I miss the outlet, but just haven't felt like I've had much to share.

Summer funk, be gone. It's about damn time.


The Bittersweet Moments

July 18, 2014

This week, the U and I made a really important decision for HUT. We decided to take him out of his amazing MDO program and enroll him in a more regimented school setting.

We've been given this incredible gift to provide our kids with a better education than either of us had while growing up (I did a brief stint in private school that left me, as well as my parents, with very strong opinions on education). The U and I had all intentions of sending them to the public schools in our area - very great by surburbia standards. It's part of the reason why we moved a couple of years ago, and it's where many of his MDO friends will attend as well.

But all of a sudden, within a few weeks time, plans changed, talks happened, school visits occurred, and life threw us a curveball. A great one that we're hoping we can hit out of the ballpark.

And I'm heartbroken.

It hit me like a pound of bricks once our decision was made. I'm heartbroken to not see the sweet faces of his classmates we've come to know. I'm heartbroken to see my child move on to another school environment when this one has given him two incredible years. I'm heartbroken that my baby is becoming a big kid. I'm heartbroken that our playdates and outings will now evolve into something different with this new schedule.

And I'm heartbroken that this is probably how the next 30 or so years of my life are going to play out.

It's an ache in my heart for the time that's passed, it's the tears in my eyes for the memories we've made, and it's the butterflies in my stomach for the awesome future that's in store for my first baby.

None of it is bad. It's heartbroken in the best way that you can be - in the way that you know that you're doing it right, but it's passing by so quickly.

So I remind myself that while HUT is saying goodbye to his first school, Ellie is going to be able to walk into those same school doors and be nurtured and guided just as well as HUT for at least the next two years. HUT will now get to experience something new - to grow, learn and, with all of my hope, be nurtured in this new environment as he has been for the past two years.

These feelings I have, they aren't new. They happened the first time he stepped foot into a school. They happened the last day with his first teachers. They happened during the first and last days of school this past year as well. They happen with each milestone, it seems. And they probably will each and every year from here on out.

It's bittersweet.




Summer Garden Veggie Salad

June 20, 2014


INGREDIENTS
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 zucchini
1 jalapeño (seeded)
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion
Cilantro (to taste)
1 lime
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


DIRECTIONS
Open, drain and rinse the cans of corn and black beans.
Chop up all of the veggies into the size you desire.
Mix together with the juice of one lime.
Add olive oil, salt and pepper to your liking.
Mix together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This is what I like to call one of my "Sandra Lee" recipes - you use a little store bought with a little homemade. In our second year at this house, my mom's garden has produced much more than our first year. She went out of town and I was left with a variety of veggies that needed to be used up or else they'd go bad. I'm sure a recipe like this exists in a million places, but I threw it together one evening when we were having tacos and the U loved it. You can really add or omit anything that you might like. Enjoy!

Travel with Toddlers - Maneuvering Through the Airport

June 19, 2014

Once we've loaded up the car with all of our crap (and there is a ton), my nerves always settle in for checking into the airport. We are much better now than we used to be, and each time I get less and less stressed.



Now, I'm going to break this down step by step.

AIRPORT ARRIVAL

When we arrive at the airport, if flying domestic, we always check in curbside. It's easier than lugging our stuff to the ticketing counter and we can leave the kids in the car until the very last moment that we need to get them out to check in the carseat. If you have a lap child and are flying International, you are required to go to the actual ticket counter with all of your luggage to check in (at least on AA).

If we are taking two strollers, we check the bigger stroller and the less expensive carseat with our luggage. Also, this is when you'd check the Pack N Play if you're bringing that along as well. I can't speak for all airlines, but on American Airlines all strollers, carseats and the Pack N Play are free. We use this cover for the Vista, the Pack N Play comes with it's own carrier and we have this cover for our carseat.

Once we've checked our bags, Ellie is in the G-Luxe and Haiden is strapped into the Britax on the travel cart. Our carry-ons are the Longchamp bag, the diaper bag, and one or two backpacks for the kids.

If traveling International with a lap child, you are required to check in at the ticketing counter.

Domestic travel, your children do not need any ID. International travel, have passports for every person that is traveling (Ellie's pic was taken around 3 months, but HUT is only 2 weeks old in his). Here's a great resource for getting passports for your children.

Side Note: I always request extra space. If we are seated up close, but the back is empty, I will move there. More space is always great when traveling on a plane. Also, if you have a lap child, ask if there are any open seats. On nearly every flight, the flight attendants are super helpful about getting me extra space. Last trip, Ellie had a seat for herself on both flights that we didn't pay for. She got to sit in the carseat, HUT got his own seat and we were all more relaxed because of it. If it's not available when you first check in to your flight, go up to the counter at your gate before boarding to see if anything has opened up. 

SECURITY

It's the biggest pain, but we all must do it. Keep your tickets and ID out while in the line. If International, that means for all of you, domestic than just the adults ID.

If you have breastmilk or any other liquids for your children, just notify the TSA agents and they will just do a little test strip to make sure that everything is ok. Umbrella stroller goes into the scanner just like the rest of your bags. Typical no shoes, no belts, wallet, cell, etc. for everyone. Babies can leave their shoes on, unlike the adults. You can't wear them through in their carrier, if you're bringing one along, and one of you will hold the baby while walking through the scanner machine.

If you have the carseat on a carrier, they will have to roll it in separately and do a strip test on that as well to make sure it's safe. We have never had to unattach it from the travel cart to get through security.

BEFORE THE FLIGHT

Get your kids something to eat. Our flights are typically three hours and my kids definitely have some sort of a snack and/or meal during the duration of the flight. We try to get them a good meal as soon as we get to the airport and change diapers before we board the plane.

If at all possible, let them run around a bit. It's a pain to chase them, but if they are high energy like our kids are, then letting them explore a bit can make a huge difference in their demeanor on the plane. Plus, once the "white noise" of the airplane kicks in my kids are usually falling asleep as long as we have gotten some of their energy out prior to the flight.

We have an admitted advantage when traveling - if with my mom - because she's a member of the Admirals Club, which is our life saver before the flight. They have a children's room with computers, Disney on the tv and plenty of space for them to play and get out their energy. It has saved us on many occasions.


Not to mention, the free bloody that we adults enjoy before we head to the plane for takeoff. :)

BOARDING

Have tickets and IDs handy - you'll be juggling a lot of stuff and it gets chaotic. The flight attendant will give you a tag for your stroller when she takes your ticket. In my experience, they never do this prior to you handing over your ticket. At most airports, you'll stroll down to the plane, then fold up and leave the stroller right by the entrance to the plane.

The Britax does not easily fit through the aisle of plane and we've never been able to keep it on the travel cart. This probably varies with the width of your carseat. We just carry the carseat on, fold up the cart and carry it as well. It's not terribly heavy and it's stows above your seat easily.

Children in carseats must be placed in the window seat, just FYI. The carseat cannot be in any other seat. At least, that's what we were told on this last trip.

If you're lucky, you'll get an awesome flight attendant that will offer you milk or juice to help get the kids settled, but don't hold your breath for this. Bring snacks, drinks and plenty of distractions. Here are some of my favorites for plane rides:

squeezable apple sauce
cheddar bunnies
Pirate's Booty
pretzels

Also, bring some candy and hide it in a good spot. Because when all else fails and someone is melting down in the middle of the flight, do not feel like a bad parent if you bribe them. You are in survival mode, my friends.

ON THE PLANE

Have snacks, drinks and distractions handy. You can go back to this post for what we've taken on the plane for toys in the past. We also always have an iPad loaded with games and movies for HUT, and we try to purchase or load one new one to really keep his attention during the flight. Same with toys, we try to get something small and new to take on to entertain them.

If your baby is small enough, always give them the boob or a bottle during take off and landing. Our last flight both kids had ear troubles during landing and it was really difficult to try to explain to them why their ears hurt and to find solutions for it. If you have any tips for the ears of older children, please share!

If you need to do a diaper change on the plane, there is a changing table above the toilet that folds down in the lavatories. It's not easy to maneuver, but it works and you can save your fellow passengers from the stench of a poopy. That being said, HUT kicked the crap out of the wall so bad during one flight while I changed him that the flight attendant barged in because she thought we were up to no good.

ARRIVAL

Once we're at our destination, we usually wait for the luggage and then lug everything outside. The rental carts are a ripoff, but totally necessary to lug everything outside. If we're getting a rental car, then one of us waits with the kids and the other takes our extra carseat, picks up the car, puts in one seat and then comes to pick us up. You can rent carseats but, again, I'm in the "I like to use my own stuff" camp, so we bring it all.

That, my friends, is our airport routine.

I'm sure I've left something out so feel free to comment below with any questions! I hope I've helped someone out there who is a little nervous to fly with kiddos - it sounds like a ton of work, but it's really all about staying organized and calm. It flies by (no pun intended) so fast, and it's not nearly as dreadful as everyone makes it.

If you missed my other posts, here are more travel tips here's where to start: