Some Friday Link Love

Heeeeey lova….that’s me saying hello to this fabulous Friday! The weather here in Tampa is supposed to be gorgeous, I finished a bunch of craft projects (I’ll share soon!), looks like Lily’s teeth are finally about to breakthrough, we are picking out Mike’s mini Christmas tree for his office this weekend and the original holiday classics have started to air on tv….all of these make me happy.

You know what else makes me happy besides these two…

…discovering marvelous ideas, hilarious videos/pictures or funny or inspiring blog posts. Once when my friend was feeling blue I sent her a link to a YouTube video compilation of amusing babies and kids. How can this baby laughing over ripped paper not bring a smile to your face?

So let’s start this fabulous Friday on the right foot…mmmkay?

First how about a holiday link? Have you heard of the reindeer cam? Now until December 24th you can watch live feed of Santa’s reindeers hanging out until their around the world trip. The cool part…three times a day you can tune in to watch Santa appear on cam to feed his friends.  HOW AWESOME for the wee ones! Link here.

Check out Paperless Post…it’s the new Evite! This invite made me giggle!

This is THE BEST post for all mothers and soon-to-be mommas to read (even dad’s will think it’s funny). This woman speaks the truth. Link here.

And this lady explains some funny points about raising a toddler….click here.

And this video is the greatest prep talk ever. I just hope one day Lily is this excited about her life. Link here.

Does your toddler have an Elmo fascination obsession? Then this LMFAO remix will amuse you and your kid…..click here. “I Make Art….”

ESPN has some of the greatest commercials…like this one (poor fella!).

I hope these links made you smile! Enjoy the rest of your day and the weekend y’all!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    November 30, 2012 Reply

    I’m laughing out loud at my desk, Amy! These are great! I love it!!

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Making Life Easier: Gifts For Him

Why is it that guys are so hard to shop for?? Maybe it’s just my husband, remember I already posted about what to get Mr. Impossible! Even though I dropped hints in my gifts for her post we are not sure what we are doing about Christmas gifts. Mike and I really don’t need anything on these lists. So being practical we are thinking of putting money towards our bathroom remodel that has been on the back burner for sometime. So while we think it over check out some of these gifts for the guys! Also check out Gifts for Babies & Toddlers and Gifts for Her!

1. Whiskey Stones ($19.99 Think Geek) Mike has become a whiskey drinker and this is perfect way to keep his libation cold and not diluted.
2. ESPN Films 30 for 30 Box Set ($49.99 ESPN Shops) I don’t mind watching football. I actually love the sport, but when Mike told me he wanted to watch a show on ESPN I rolled my eyes, popped open my laptop figured I had an hour to waste on Pinterest. Yet the show was ESPN award-winning series that documents amazing sport stories that even the non-sports loving wife/girlfriend will enjoy!
3. Tie of the Month Club (price varies by subscription by The Tie Bar) A gift that keeps on giving!
4. 50 Shades Mug ($10 Urban Outfitters) Because I am sure he is tired of hearing about this book.
5. Automatic Watch Winder ($99.99 Brookstone) Gave this to Mike last year for Christmas and he loves it because he hated to wind up his watch!
6. Personalized Photo Cuff Links ($52.95 Personalization Mall) Now your guy can have photos of you or the kids wherever he goes!
7. Flud Big Ben Wood Watch ($95 Urban Outfitters) A wood watch…how manly can you get??? And I’m sure any Steeler fan would appreciate the name of the watch. I’m not sure how Mike would feel about this, but this watch is being heavily marketed…that means some guys would love wood!
8. Bose MIE2i Mobile Headset ($116.95  Bose) Headphones that have tips designed to stay put, play music AND takes calls from iPhone/Android/Blackberry/Windows phones.

Check out Gifts for Babies & Toddlers and Gifts for Her!

 

 
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  1. Emily Ley commented:
    November 29, 2012 Reply

    Raise your hand if you are an illustrator PRO!!!! Look at you! I love this! : ) And you!

    • Amy Romano commented:
      November 30, 2012 Reply

      HA! Thanks my friend, I’ve learned some great tips from the best 😉 xoxo

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Making Life Easier: Gift Guide For Her

Yesterday I shared tons of ideas on what to gift babies & toddlers (read here) and today is all about the ladies! A few of these items I already own (and love them) and I hope to find one or two others under the Christmas tree (hint hint Mike)!

1. Gelshine At-Home Gel Color System($159.00 Sephora) This kit has everything you need to start doing your nails at home.
2. Michael Kors’Mercer’ Chronograph Bracelet Watch ($275 Nordstrom) Lately I’ve been on a gold accessory kick and this watch would be a yummy wrist candy!
3. Mia Sonic Skin Cleaning System by Clarisonic ($119 Dermstore) I have the world’s most sensitive skin and this wonder tool doesn’t leave me with flare ups. Don’t have the funds to get facials?? Then purchase the Mia to give your skin a deep clean at home.
4. Personalized iPhone Case & Simplified Planner Starter Kit ($48, $54 Emily Ley) I know she is my dear friend and I might be biased but I LOVE all the goodies over at Emily Ley’s online shop! I adore the three (yes three) cases for my iphone and her Simplified Planner is a planners dream and perfect tool to keep the unorganized organized!
5. Water Painting of Home (price varies by Rebekka Seale)  So charming! The designer will even add your family pet in the portrait!
6. Belkin Chef Stand + Stylus($29 Amazon) Prop up your tablet next to the stove to read your recipes and use the stylus instead of your dirty fingers!
7.  Capri Blue Mercury Glass Candle ($25 Anthropologie)  Love these candles. My mom has one sitting in the family room that Lily loves to sniff.
8. Cuisinart Mini Prep ($39.99 Bed Bath & Beyond) Don’t worry about hulling out your huge food processor for mini jobs, use the junior edition!

9. Monogramed Clutch (price varies by size and added monogram by Oatmeal Lace Design) You don’t have to be a bride to get one of these charming clutches by Oatmeal Lace Design. These clutches fit perfectly in your diaper or gym bag and work great by themselves for date night. AND she monograms ladies!
10. Ariella Collection Pave Ring ($28 Nordstroms)
11. Whispers Cross Necklace, gold dipped ($62 Dogeared) Love this brand and everything on their site.
12.  Bosu Ball ($109 Bosu)  My favorite piece of equipment in the gym that can be used for a full body workout! This set includes the ball, pump and two DVDs. For  great workout using a Bosu Ball click here.
13. Real Simple Magazine subscription (2 subscriptions for 1 at $23.88) A subscription is the gift that keeps on giving. Real Simple is a favorite and they have a great 2 for 1 deal! Get one for yourself and you get a free subscription to gift.
14. Zumba Fitness Exhilarate Body Shaping System ($59.99 Bed Bath & Beyond) Zumba is a huge fitness craze that many of my girlfriends rave about. This is the cheapest gift set I have found that is jammed packed with 5 DVDs PLUS the Zumba Toning Sticks!
15. Young House Love book ($25.95 West Elm) My favorite blog published a book chalked full of their DIY creations and tips on how to spruce up your home while being budget friendly. While you wait for their book to arrive via snail mail hop on the web to check out their blog.
16. Custom Embosser Set ($60 Paper Source) Perfect for the lady that loves pretty paper and sending out notes for any reason. Plus she can emboss her initials or monogram on the napkins to add that special touch for parties!
17. Laugh Often ceramic bowl ($26 Paloma’s Nest) Sweet bowl to remind you or her daily to be happy. Paloma’s Nest also has custom creations too!
18. Wooden Monogram-3 letter 12 inches ($28 Southern Proper Monograms) How pretty is the double monogramed wreaths hanging on that door! Southern Proper Monograms has the best deal for custom wood monograms. Paint it whatever color you want when you get it and swap it out with each wreath during the year!

Remember to check out the gift ideas for babies & toddlers here!

 
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  1. Elizabeth commented:
    November 28, 2012 Reply

    What a great list! I think I added about three things to mine just by looking at yours. Hope you are enjoying this season with your cute little family!
    xoxo,
    Elizabeth

  2. mckay commented:
    November 28, 2012 Reply

    love these! totally need to get the YHL book. :)

  3. Emily Ley commented:
    December 9, 2012 Reply

    LOVE. I want the YHL book f’real. And that DOOR MONOGRAM.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] gift options for the ladies click here!   1 Post on Facebook Tweet This Pin […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | Making Life Easier: Gifts For Him on November 29, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    […] Why is it that guys are so hard to shop for?? Maybe it’s just my husband, remember I already posted about what to get Mr. Impossible! Even though I dropped hints in my gifts for her post we are not sure what we are doing about Christmas gifts. Mike and I really don’t need anything on these lists. So being practical we are thinking of putting money towards our bathroom remodel that has been on the back burner for sometime. So while we think it over check out some of these gifts for the guys! Also check out Gifts for Babies & Toddlers and Gifts for Her! […]

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Making Life Easier: Making A Wish List & Gift Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Raise your hand if you did some holiday shopping since Thanksgiving?? Thanks to Black Friday, Small Buisness Saturday and Cyber Monday we all get fabulous excuses shop. I give a huge round of applause to those that managed to get all their holiday shopping out of the way early…we have barely scratched the surface of our gift list!

To make it easy for family to shop for Lily Mike and I create an Amazon wish list and send out the link. This way we don’t have to spend so much time thinking of a gift for each family member. It’s so simple. Create and account, add items to your wish list and email out the link! Amazon even allows you to add items from other websites. By downloading an icon to your internet browser you can add that sweet monogrammed backpack from store X onto the your wish list on Amazon! I guess this is my tip for this Tuesday….making the wish list just makes life easier.

So have you finished creating your gift list for family and friends?? While I’m still working on mine I thought I would share some sweet gift ideas for babies & toddlers (books are left off as there are so many great choices- that is a post all in itself!).

1. The Original Christmas Classics Gift Set ($14.99 Amazon)  Watching holiday original movies like Frosty The Snowman and Rudolf are traditions for my family. Instead of waiting for them to air pop in the DVD to watch your favorites all season long! Don’t forget the Peanuts Holiday Collection ($20.99), that was waiting for Mike under the tree last year!
2. Citrus Lane Gift Boxes  Citrus Lane is a fabulous online store where you can purchase gift boxes for mommas-to-be up to kids three years of age. My favorite is their Lil’ Composer Standard Gift Set ($40) complete with a jazz cd, drum set and a colorful book. Their Deluxe Shower Box is a steal for $35. You can buy 2, 3 or 6 month subscriptions to ive a gift that keeps on giving!
3. Lillabo 20-piece train set ($9.99 Ikea)
4. Sassy Seat Doorway Jumper ($31.99 Toys R Us)5. Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm ($34.99 Amazon)
6.  Lamaze Multi-Sensory Soft Sorter ($17.49 Toys R Us)
7.  Mega Bloks Classic Building Bag ($17.19 now $15 at Target online)
8. Duktig mini kitchen ($99.99 Ikea)
9. B. Parum Pum Pum Drum Set ($21.99 Target online)
10. Bright Starts Grab & Stack Blocks ($8.04 Target online)11.  Little Tykes Cozy Coupe ($49.99 Amazon)
12. Move and Crawl Ball ($14.09 Target online)
13. Radio Flyer Wagon ($67.97 on Amazon) This was Lily’s gift last year at 6 months young and she still loves it at 17 months!
14. Melissa & Doug Farm Sound Machine ($12.90 on Amazon)
15. Mula toy hamering block ($5.99 Ikea)
16.  Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes ($8.99 Target online)
17. Mala Easil ($14.99 Ikea)18.  Megaland ($75 Amazon) This might be the gift Santa Brings Lily this year. She goes ga-ga over the tunnels and tents and MyGym, plus we already have a bag of balls to use in one of the tents!
19. Organic Panda Pen Tee ($40 Thumbline )
20.  100 Soft Flex balls ($14.99 Target online)
21.  Fisher-Price Classic Farmer Says See N Say ($14.99 Amazon)
22.  Crayola 4ct Washable Finger Paints ($6.85 Amazon)
23.  Pottery Barn Kids Anywhere Chair ($79-$169)

For gift options for the ladies click here!

 
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  1. Egypt commented:
    June 1, 2016 Reply

    Whoops forgot to say that the cart on Main street is back open. Kinda miss the silly king and his corn dog castle, but thnkfaul for now 3 places to get a corndog while at DLR.

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] I shared tons of ideas on what to gift babies & toddlers (read here) and today is all about the ladies! A few of these items I already own (and love them) and I hope […]

  2. By Lily & Bliss | Making Life Easier: Gifts For Him on November 29, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    […] sometime. So while we think it over check out some of these gifts for the guys! Also check out Gifts for Babies & Toddlers and Gifts for […]

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Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna Rolls

Anybody sick of Thanksgiving fixins??? I am…so let’s start the week with some pasta!

We LOVE lasagna rolls at our house….well lasagna in general! We even have a slang name for lasagna…”lazag”…becuase that’s how we roll. This recipe might take the same amount of time to make as regular lasagna, but the rolls give you portion control. Plus the rolls are easier to serve if you have a lot of company over. Made with spinach and artichokes, you please the vegetarians and meat lovers won’t care because it’s so tasty!

Need another reason why this recipe is awesome…it’s a great freezer meal too. Can I get an AMEN!! Knowing we have dinners in the freezer makes me happy. You never know what will pop up between an emergency or a lazy evening where momma doesn’t want to cook. For this recipe I use the heavy-duty 9×9 foil trays that come with plastic covers. Prior to freezing I add extra sauce on top so the noodles don’t get freezer burn. I write the temperature and cooking time on the plastic top and then wrap a few times with foil (and I mark the foil with directions too!) before placing it in the freezer. Place this in the refrigerator to let it thaw out the night before. This recipe makes about 10-12 rolls so I always cook 6 rolls and freeze the rest…gotta love two meals in one. For other freezer meals click herehere, here and don’t forget about this!

To keep this recipe easy I use store bought pasta sauce and already grated parmesan cheese. If you don’t want to spend the money on gruyere cheese you can swap it out for mozzarella. I enjoy cooking with gruyere because it’s a salty cheese that melts perfectly. You could also use frozen chopped spinach, just fully thaw it out before placing it in the pan with the onion and garlic.

Whether you need another lasagna recipe, cooking for a large crowd or need another idea for a freezer meal I hope you enjoy!

Spinach & Artichoke Lasagna rolls

12-14 lasagna noodles (I always make more than needed in case the noodles fall apart cooking or assembling, FYI this makes 10-12 rolls)
1 jar of pasta sauce, or homemade (we love Bertolli’s garlic & olive oil)
7 ½ cups spinach (or you can use chopped frozen spinach)
1 cup onion, chopped
2 cans quartered artichokes
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated gruyere cheese (I used large holed side of grater)- you can use mozzarella too
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 egg
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and coat 9×13 dish with cooking spray.
  • Cook lasagna noodles one minute less than directed on the box, drain and set aside.
  • Warm the olive oil and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Place about 4 ½ cups of the spinach on top and give a few stirs while it cooks down. Add more and more of the spinach until it is all cooked down. To speed this process up you can place a lid on top, but make sure you take it off to stir spinach.
  • While you are cooking the spinach mix in a large bowl the ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper, parmesan and gruyere.
  • In this recipe I only like to use the heart of the artichokes, so I slice them off, chop them up and add to the pan with the cooked spinach mixture for about a minute just to warm them up.
  • Fold in the spinach and artichoke mixture into the cheese mixture.
  • Pour ¾ cup of pasta sauce in the dish and spread to cover the bottom.
  • Lay out foil or parchment paper to prepare lasagna, helps with the clean up! Lay a few noodles out. Tip: if the noodles have stuck together, run some warm water over them to make them free.
  • Spread the spinach, artichoke and cheese mixture down the entire noodle and then slowly roll them.
  • Place the rolls side by side and place desired amount of pasta sauce over. I don’t use a lot, but use whatever amount you like!
  • Bake for 30 minutes and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

Remember for other freezer meals click hereherehere and don’t forget about this!

 
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Happy Thanksgiving

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my
neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.
-Jon Stewart

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”
-William A. Ward

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
-Native American Saying

Thanksgiving, man.  Not a good day to be my pants.
-Kevin James

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
-John Fitzgerald Kennedy

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.
-Mother Teresa

Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.
-W.J. Cameron

 
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Tip Tuesday: A Christmas Tree + A Toddler

The day after Halloween I saw my first Christmas commercial…poor Thanksgiving. Some stores break out the Christmas decorations before Halloween (ahem Lowe’s). Even the Thanksgiving parade ends with a glimpse of Santa.

Many are excited for Christmas but who doesn’t like Thanksgiving…a day (or weekend) spent expanding the waistline, watching football and spending time with loved ones while enjoying cocktails after the year’s greatest nap.

The only thing that separates our Thanksgiving from others is that we break out our Christmas décor a week before turkey day. I love waking up to that tree full of lights and family ornaments. Look at these pictures of our little elf last year. Only twelve months ago she had to be propped up by pillows to unwrap her gifts. We had no worries of her attempting to pull or yank on the ornaments…she could barely crawl!

Wondering how Lily would do with a giant tree filled with lights and glittery objects we decided to set up the tree and wait for the ornaments…and today’s tip is all about how we handled it with a crazy toddler.

Of course we could have set up the tree during her nap…but that would be too easy.

My tip: try setting up your tree first without all the trimmings. Get your toddler acquainted with the tree and lights before you add even more objects that scream “touch me” or “pull me off.” While you are assembling your fake tree or a real douglas fir give your kid something to do!

To keep Lily busy we put her in her highchair and introduced her to pumpkin fluff (read all about it from yesterday’s post). Lily would pause from eating every once in awhile as Mike carried in a new layer of the tree. She was so focused on dipping graham crackers and making a mess with her snack that she could care less what we were doing.

Once snack time was over she became intrigued with the giant elephant in the room. She attempted to crawl under the tree, but the branches prevented her from reaching the stump. Lily knows the word gentle very well. I had to teach her that word after her phase of slapping me (she loves me right?). We repeated the word and showed her that she could pet the tree. Like most activities she was over it pretty quickly.

After a few days I enlisted my mom’s help as a babysitter while I started to make the tree pretty. All of the branches that Lily could reach hold shatterproof ornaments. There are a few that can come apart, like the snowman that has jingle bells. I would rather her take a bell off the snowman than detach a wheel from my 30 year old baby ornament! Yep I have several ornaments my mom gifted me when I got married…love her! After the tree was dressed she walked up and gently rubbed a fluffy Santa ornament without my coaching…made my heart melt. She hasn’t been a saint though yanking a few off. The bottom ornaments are strategically placed on the tips of branches so when she pulls on them they come off easily and we don’t have to worry about pulling the whole thing down! My friend Emily of Emily Ley taught her son Brady to touch the ornaments with one finger only and so far she too has been successful mixing a walking toddler with a Tannenbaum!

Christmas decorating was less stressful stretching out the process to get her acquainted with all of the new tempting objects. Lily had fun experiencing pumpkin fluff (recipe here) and jamming out to the holiday tunes. Getting something actually completed without anything breaking + Lily having fun + I didn’t stress because nothing broke = a success in our house!

{Playing some of the Christmas classics while we decorate has been something I have done since I was a kid. I created a list filled with some classics that remind me of my childhood mixed in with some of my favorite modern ones. It’s not on the list but the NSYNC Christmas album is one of my favorites, that I can listen to on repeat! }

 
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  1. Linda Young commented:
    November 22, 2012 Reply

    When the boys were small (3 of them!) they would grab ornaments off the tree and at times almost pull the tree over! Dan saved my sanity by building a large wooden slatted gate (2 sides) I laced them together and had them braced against two walls, thus preventing the boys from getting to the tree AND the presents. I wrapped greenery and red ribbon around the top and added bows. It really looked pretty, and I could relax and enjoy the season.

  2. Katie commented:
    October 6, 2013 Reply

    Thank you for the advice. My son, Rockwell, is 16 months and i for see him being meen to the tree. Im definatly going to do this

  3. Hint Mama commented:
    December 4, 2013 Reply

    Great tip (and so smart to only put shatterproof ornaments near the bottom of the tree). I linked to your tip, and some others from a childproofing pro, in a post today on how to mix toddlers with Christmas trees:
    http://hintmama.com/2013/12/04/todays-hint-how-to-mix-toddlers-and-christmas-trees/

2 Trackbacks

  1. By Lily & Bliss | First Frosty on December 3, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    […] yet set up your tree or your pulling out your hair keeping your toddler from breaking ornaments read this tip! There is also a great playlist of old classic holiday tunes along with some great modern Christmas […]

  2. […] ornaments with no small parts attached (think felt ornaments), and at her home (like at the home of blogger Amy Romano of Lily & Bliss and as the blog Crunchy Moms recently suggested), these non-breakable ornaments were installed low. […]

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Keeping Her Busy: An Activity & A Recipe

Keeping a kid busy with food…how original huh? Giving your child food just to shut up and stay busy is something I don’t agree with. But sometimes I like to take advantage of snack time with some fun finger foods that will keep Lily busy in her highchair so I can fold laundry or wash some dishes!

Most of the time Lily carries around her snack cup with Cheerios or Goldfish while we continue reading or playing with a toy. Apple slices are always a favorite snack, but I always stay near for fear of choking!

Last week we used Lily’s snack time as a way to keep her busy in her highchair while we assembled our Christmas tree. I know it’s really early but I wanted it up before we left for Thanksgiving. I enjoy not having to worry about Christmas décor after returning from holiday break!

I’ve been wanting to try the pumpkin fluff recipe that is all over the internet and giving a toddler any kind of finger food with a dip is means for an awesome time…for baby and the parents!

The pumpkin fluff recipe is so simple. Mix 1 tub (16oz) of Cool Whip (I used fat-free) with 1 box (5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix, 1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin and a few shakes of  pumpkin pie spice. Make sure you keep the empty Cool Whip tub to store any leftovers. For Lily’s snack I put some fluff in a small bowl and gave her some Back To Nature Honey Graham Sticks to dip.

To change it up you could try using cream cheese pudding mix and use strawberries or sliced apples as dippers. I made a bowl for Mike and me topping ours with crushed cinnamon graham crackers. It was delicious and so quick to put together.

I showed her how to eat it and naturally she stuck out a portion of her tongue for a taste test. She didn’t need her typical second try…she went to town dipping, licking and spreading the fluff all over her tray. She ditched the graham cracker sticks and started using her fingers.  She was completely fascinated.

Watching her take pleasure in this simple activity almost made me forget to finish the tree. Her snack time/activity was a success. The tree went up while Lily was preoccupied. Plus playing with the crackers and fluff was great sensory play. Winning!!!

 

 
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  1. […] Lily busy we put her in her highchair and introduced her to pumpkin fluff (read all about it from yesterday’s post). Lily would pause from eating every once in awhile as Mike carried in a new layer of the tree. She […]

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Splurge or Save: Sweater Season

A quick little Splurge or Save post on some sweaters I found at H&M and Banana Republic.

Tampa gets sporadic winter days during the season. One day I’m wearing shorts and a short sleeved top…a day or two later a cold front will breeze through and I can break out my Uggs and sweater that has been waiting all year to be worn. Because we have few sweater days I have enough in my wardrobe, but cold front are a great excuse to shop…right?

I love cable knit anything. These two tops are warm enough for a cold day, yet the short sleeves give an opportunity to wear it again when spring approaches.

Splurge: Banana Republic $59.59 $49.99

Save: H&M $29.95

I know that the dresses are not the exact same but there are slim pickings for plain grey sweater dresses. You can’t tell in the picture but the Banana Republic option is really thick making it kind of bulky looking…making it a perfect dress for a skinny chick or  for Spanx! The H&M option is plain but add a bubble necklace or a cute jacket and it could work!

Splurge: Banana Republic $130

Save: H & M $34.95

 
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Traveling With A Toddler

Two months after giving birth we flew to New York City for my dear friend Carly’s wedding that I was in. Oh yes…two months post birth body with boobs the size of Texas in a sweet heart neck bridesmaid dress….hello cleavage (or more like Amazon tube socks). There was no way I was going to miss this celebration so as first time parents Mike and I planned for every scenario and prepared for our first flight with a kid.

Listen we have ALL been those people that board a flight and silently hope that your seat is not next to (or in front of!) the rowdy kid jumping over the chairs yelling at the top of their lungs….or the infant who’s crying seems to be inconsolable. I’m guilty of it. As a parent I now have nothing but sympathy for the other parent(s).

Lily isn’t even two years old and we have five trips under our belts ranging from quick trips to international flights and even a solo cross country trip (yes I’m that crazy for attempting). In between those flights are some loooong road trips (10 hours to Augusta…ugh) that have helped us become pretty good at traveling with a kid. With our flight tomorrow to Pittsburgh to visit Mike’s family I thought I’d share some tips we’ve learned and items that are a “must” when traveling with Lily.

Be Smart About Booking. Try and book your flight in advance to ensure that you get the seats together as a family and the ones that you want. First and business class are awesome, but to save money the majority of our flights have been in coach. We like to get seats either in the front of the plane or in the very back so we have easy access to drinks and are closer to the rest rooms.  Also a window seat gives your kid another source of entertainment before the flight, during and after landing. Check in online the day before and print out your boarding passes at home or at the airport. Try and plan the flight around your child’s naptime. When Lily was a baby we made sure that she was napping in flight and for that we would keep her awake until we boarded the plane. She would cry bloody murder since she was so exhausted, but eventually she would pass out. For my first solo flight of course I choose the longest trip possible from Florida to Los Angeles. For my sanity I paid extra for non-stop flights and flew the red eye. I was exhausted, but not having her sleep through one flight was worth the money and eye drops. For international flights give yourself plenty of time to get your passport for your child. To learn about obtaining a passport for a child under 16 read here.

Double Check All Paperwork.  This is a task you do even traveling solo, but sometimes in all the chaos of packing up the luggage and buckling in your kid you can forget to double check that you have all the paper work and identification needed. Make sure that your license is in the wallet or in the correct purse! To keep the stress low at check in and at the security check point we have one person in charge of all the tickets and photo id’s. This is usually Mike since I am holding the baby to walk through the security gate.  We have a small carrying case that has several pockets for boarding passes, luggage tags and ids that we take with us on every trip. This was a great gift from Mike’s company and you can get one here or here.

Be Prepared.  Make sure you have everything and then some in that diaper bag! Pack more diapers than you usually need. Murphy’s Law totally applicts to my life and with my luck Lily has gone through more diapers during traveling than she does while at playgroup! To save room in the diaper bag skip the wipe case and place your wipes in a Ziplock bag (you can carry more that way and it’s air tight). I have more on what to pack with printable list below.

Be Considerate. Remember that you were once that traveler sans kids so be understanding that your kid shouldn’t be hitting or kicking the seat in front of you. My good friend McKay of Oatmeal Lace Design had a marvelous idea on how to express sympathy for your fellow passengers in case your kid gets a little unruly inflight. McKay brought a few five dollar Starbucks gift cards with her on a flight to pass out to those seated next to her in case her son Beckett had a meltdown. Everyone loves a free treat and a Starbucks mocha or cakepop might just make them be more sympathetic to the next momma they sit next to in the future!

Stay Calm. Even though we might be organized and prepared for our trips I still get nervous and anxious. I don’t want to be the passenger everyone is praying not to sit next to. I hate that some people might judge me for whipping out an episode of Barney to keep her occupied instead of reading her a book or engage her in an activity other than tv watching. I hate it, but frankly I don’t care, because Barney and Elmo keep Lily happy…and that is all that maters! I just push those feelings to the back of my head, smile and stay positive for Lily’s sake. Babies and kids feed off their parent’s emotions so stay upbeat, happy and calm.

Now for the packing list…this is where my compulsive list making comes in handy. I have a word document that I turn to for every trip that keeps me organized and sane.  Going from a newborn to a toddler the list is always changing! For a printable checklist that I use for traveling click here.

For the diaper bag that you will carry on board again make sure you have more than enough diapers, wipes and a changing pad. Make sure you have a disposable diaper bag or a ziplock bag to store the used diapers in. Babies R Us sells cheap mini plastic bags that have a light scent to mask the odor. Make sure you have an extra Ziplock bag to store soiled clothes in case your kid has an accident and you have to change them. Double check that you have an extra outfit for this situation and you might want to pack yourself an extra shirt too, unless you don’t care wearing a shirt with puke, pee or poop on it!

Does your baby or toddler still use a binky when they sleep or to calm themselves? Make sure you pack an extra!

Planes can be cold so pack socks and a jacket for the little one and some for your feet as well. Remember to wear shoes that will be easy for you to take on and off during security check points! Roll up a small blanket or your kid’s lovey to keep them warm and soothe them.

If you are going to check your stroller and/or car seat at the gate get a travel bag for them. Luggage can get pretty banged up and so can your stroller and car seat so get a bag to protect them from being damaged. Tip: if your stroller has a drink holder, un hook it and put it in your carry on. We had ours broken off and Southwest couldn’t find it…whomp whomp! For some travel bags look here.

You can never have too many snacks and make sure to bring a water bottle for their sippy cup! Don’t count on just the small bag of pretzels that they pass out in flight and a small ziplock of goldfish from home. Remember Murphy’s Law and pack more snacks than you usually do. The one time you don’t bring enough squeeze packs or raisins is the time your kid will will act like you starve them at home. Easy items: raisins, a banana, apple (grab a plastic knife after you go through security), gold fish, cheerios, squeeze packs (mom’s best friend), animal cookies, grapes, popcorn, a cheese stick, puffs or yogurt melts. To make the trip seem special you could bring a special snack like some M&M’s! Another option is to check with your airline to see if there are special meals or snacks for toddlers that they provide or that you can purchase. Make sure you are fully aware of the TSA’s requirement on food and liquids (read here).

To help your kid pop their ears from the pressure of take off and landing bring their sippy cup or bottle. For those that are breastfeeding make sure you hold off right until you pull away from the gate and you know your plane is the next in line for take off before you begin to nurse. Once I made the mistake and caved to Lily’s crying before we left the gate. Our plane had to taxi a bit and she was done feeding before we took off. Luckily she didn’t have much of a problem with the pressure, but I learned a lesson. Also make sure you bring a nursing cover to be considerate of your neighbor. One of Lily’s teachers at MyGym recommended giving her a lollipop to assist with the pressure and I just so happen to have a few dumbbell lollipops for tomorrow’s flight!

Make sure you bring baby/toddler Tylenol and Motrin on board. We had given Lily some Tylenol the morning of our flight home from Puerto Rico. She had a slight fever and I chalked it up to teething. Thirty minutes into our flight Lily started to get flushed and her body radiated heat. She became lethargic and I was freaking out! I had packed the thermometer in her diaper bag just in case and she was at 103! We had Motrin with us and gave her some to help with this high fever. Turns out she was teething and had an ear infection…poor girl! Now I always travel with Tylenol, Motrin, and a digital thermometer. For precaution I also have a few bandaids, hand sanitizer and teething ointment for her gums. Again make sure all liquids are cleared by TSA.

Last but definatley the most important are the toys and books to keep your kid(s) occupied.  I always bring a backpack that is devoted just to keeping Lily busy (Mike and I’s laptops are also in there!). Make sure your iPod or iPad are fully charged to last the flight! Tip: check out Target’s dollar section for cheap toys. I scored one of Lily’s favorite books from there. Currently my Target had some Sesame Street board books, Christmas board books and some small pop-up books. You can’t beat Elmo board book for a buck. My Target also had tiny slinkys and other toys that would be perfect as stocking stuffers or as small toys for a plane! Another teacher from MyGym suggested that I keep the iPad hidden a day or two before the trip so she is excited to play with it again during the flight.

We are headed to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving and I found a giant Sesame Street sticker book and a water-coloring book from Target that will keep Lily busy for awhile! A good tip is to bring a new object for your kid to explore for the first time! Lily has used finger paints but never a water color activity book. Get the flight attendent to give you a plastic cup that you can place a small amount of water in and most water color books come with a brush attached. Letting your kid paint without worrying about getting actual paint everywhere gets two thumbs up from me! Bring a ziplock bag to store the wet work of art and wet brush when your little Picasso is finsished. I will give you an update when we get back to let you know how her in flight art session goes!

With our bags packed, triple checked (yes I’m a freak that over checks) and diaper bag full of snacks and toys we are headed off to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. Whether you are driving or flying I hope you have safe and problem-free trip and I hope you all enjoy this time with your friends and family!

 
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