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ESTES PARK 2017

Last week we went to Estes Park– the first time flying with both girls– and it was beautiful. Exhausting, but oh so beautiful. The weather was a perfect high of 70 degrees, Leah only had 8 full-on tantrums– nothing makes Derek sweat more than a crying baby in the wilderness–, and the girls were both angels on the plane (thanks to endless snacks and iPad movies.) Compared to all past travels, I would have to say that I planned the very least for this little getaway. Perhaps because Derek took care of the hiking logistics/ rental car/ driving, or maybe just because I was already in the vacation, laid-back Colorado mindset and figured things would just unfold. And they totally did. Some of our favorite stops were planned, some were just by chance (cue bathroom emergency at a local coffee shop.) But whether or not things happened on purpose, I was so happy just being us four, showing the girls a new place, and having them remind us that the best world is outdoors. Here are a few of our favorite findings (and a whole lot of pictures) from our little trip:

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MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT GUIDE: for the PRACTICAL MAMA

Being a “Mom” doesn’t totally define me, but let’s be real: I’m drawn to things that label me as a Mom because it’s what I live for. I swoon over pretty, yet practical products, entertainment is centered around watching my kids dance in the living room, and I wear a backpack for a purse. So yeah. The mom game is strong over here. Moms’ Day is just around the corner and I wanted to throw another gift guide together of some current functional faves:

Grateful sweatshirt | Floral picnic blanket | Gardening tools | Phone case | Kitchen shears | Lip treatment | LOVE tote | Foam curlers | Swaddle blanket

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THE PERFECT MOTHERS’ DAY GIFT with CASE STATION

Thanks for everyone’s input on the last post regarding our family travels. Since then, we decided that the trip to Estes next month seemed more appealing to fly 1 hr as opposed to a 10 hr drive. Duh, right? So the flights are booked and the VRBO is reserved. We’re basically already there. 😉 The thought of minimal cleaning (oh, and quality time with my loves, of course) has me counting down the days. But now let’s talk about something else I’ve been pretty giddy about: my new phone case from Case Station.

I’m not a techie person, seldom wear a watch, and lose my phone daily. So getting me a tech-related gift for Mothers’ Day wouldn’t normally score the hubby many points. Until now. Recently, we each got a phone case from Case Station and I couldn’t be more satisfied with the design, quality and durability. In the world of a billion different phone cases, I wanted something personal and practical. “Personal” meaning I wanted the imagery to mean something to me. “Practical” meaning “when the girls I (who am I kidding?) drop it daily, it will hold up and prevent injury to my phone.” Here is why we think Case Station is a step above the rest in creating the perfect personalized phone case:

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5 KID YOGA POSES with JoBea Kids

We might not always stick to a schedule around here, but we’ve got our morning routine down: The girls wake up by 6:30, we play and eat, then send Daddy off with his peanut butter and jelly breakfast sandwich. Derek feeds each girl a bite of it and kisses them goodbye for the day. Then the girls rush to the front door, Mya whips it open, and they wave and blow him kisses as Derek pulls out of the drive and down the street. It’s pretty much the most adorable thing ever. We’ve had a couple neighbors tell us they see the sendoff every day and I’m glad we have them fooled as totally calm, cool, and collected. Little do they know that when the door shuts, Mya usually has a meltdown of how she already misses Dada and Leah resumes banging on the pantry door for more food. But recently, the one thing that has been the best distraction from this and starts our girl days off strong are little yoga sessions. Mya takes out her yoga mat with this book and takes us through some “moves.” Leah pretty quickly ends up cozying up in the beanbag with another book, but Mya leads our yoga session and it’s always one of my favorite parts of our mornings together.

A couple weeks ago we met my Mom at a yoga studio and she helped us play document some of our favorite poses. My Mom is conveniently an Iyengar yoga instructor, so we pretty much have it made in the sense that she knows what to do and how to do it the right way. Since I can barely touch my toes, we keep it simple. These are our 5 favorite yoga poses for kids. I made myself look smarter by googling the sanskrit names and including them too:

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MIDWEEK VIBES + FUN FINDS

Over half way to the weekend and that’s definitely a reason to celebrate. It’s been meltdown city over here because Derek’s been traveling. And Leah wanted to play with Mya’s stuffed dog. So yeah, it’s been pretty traumatic. I’m soooo looking forward to the weekend for one huge reason: Derek and I are going to Manhattan to celebrate our anniversary… kid free! It’s our first time away together since Leah was born and I canNOT wait! I’m already stupid anxious about being away from Leah for the first time overnight, but I know she’ll be more than okay at NanaPapa’s. But until our little weekend getaway, I’m choosing to forget things like Mya poking Leah in the eye and focus on sweeter moments like Mya pushing a pillow up by the window, just so Leah could see outside.

“Good vibes” is my current mantra, so this shirt is calling my name.

I might be 5+ years behind everyone else and the essential oils craze, but I went to an introductory class, got the starter kit, and have been diffusing ever since. I don’t know enough to “sell” you on it, but I will say that our house smells amazing. My friend Emily does know a lot, so if you’re interested, just shoot me an email at holler@theMADcreative.com and I’ll send you her info.

Follow @stevint on instagram. Every one of his photos gives me peace… and makes me want to travel the world. And then Derek would tell you to follow @pickle.the.pig because of this video alone. He’s trying to train Leah to do the same. Oof.

Only the funniest cookbook of all time. I seriously laugh every time I read it. I guess it’s all good until Mya can read and then we won’t be able to cook together while using it.

Reading this book and this book to Leah all. the. time. We got them for Mya because they’re much more her age, but for whatever reason, Leah is hooked on them. She’ll sit with me in the beanbag for a legit 45 minutes soaking it all in. And if I don’t fall asleep… she’s totally happy. 😉

Good vibes, friends. Good vibes.

GEOCACHING with MY GNOME ON THE ROAM

Back in high school, Derek and his two brothers started a tradition whenever they went to Colorado to camp and hike: they took a troll and once they reached the top of a mountain, they would snap a pic with their colorful haired friend. When I saw My Gnome on the Roam, I was instantly reminded of Derek’s troll and knew it could be a fun way to document our family trips too. Last weekend, we stayed close to home and took “Rupert” (our gnome) geocaching– something I’ve been wanting to try with Mya for awhile… and with the help of Rupert, it was such a fun adventure!

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PICNIC READY with PLANETBOX

Let’s be totally real here and admit that kids “helping” you cook isn’t helping you at all. Doing twice as many dishes and prepping a meal at half the pace isn’t making anyone’s life any easier. But it brings them joy, so that’s why we let them scoop out the flour, leaving a trail of it until they (finally) dump it in the bowl. I do love cooking with Mya, but most days I just need to whip up something quick because when hunger strikes, it strikes hard. The food prep times when I welcome Mya’s help more, though, are when we picnic. Building a sandwich or stacking fruit and cheese kabobs is a lot easier than baking something from scratch. Suddenly, you’re a lot less frazzled when you don’t need 15 ingredients and precise measurements. With the help of PlanetBox, we’ve put together a how-to list to be picnic prepared.

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WEEKEND VIBES + SWIMZIP GIVEAWAY!

Our little life is getting a whole lot more active with Leah on the move. Derek puts it into the perfect visual: You know in the movie “Step Brothers,” where Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly are sleepwalking, stumbling around, throwing shit everywhere? That’s Leah. All day every day. (In case you missed it or want a refresher, here is the clip.) And Mya’s the one following her around picking up her messes, saying over and over again “Leah, we don’t do this. You’re making a mess. Please stop this.” So that’s what we’re dealing with in a nutshell. Luckily, we were able to break out of the house and enjoy the weather a bit. Fresh air was a total game changer.

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4 FAVORITE PRESSURE COOKER MEALS

Who would’ve thought that one of my favorite gifts received in the past couple years is a kitchen appliance– a pressure cooker. I guess that means I’m all grown up now. Or lame. Probably the latter, but I don’t even care because this appliance has made dinners easier and so tasty. At first, I was kind of intimidated to use the thing and it sat on our counter for a good month. Growing up, I remember my Mom’s pressure cooker spitting out hot water and steam for a good portion of the day and her wedging a wooden spoon in the top valve for the release, always hoping that it wouldn’t shoot off and punch a hole in the ceiling. Yeah, no thanks. Pass. But as it turns out, the design of these babies has come a long way since then and they’re super safe.

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WEEKEND FAVORITES | HOT WATER EDITION

Well that weekend went by entirely too fast. My Dad came in with an under cabinet water heater (this one in case you’re in the market) and I couldn’t say I knew what the project entailed except that it means our pipes won’t be prone to freezing anymore. Which will beat thawing them out with a hairdryer in the morning. I also couldn’t say I was much help with the installation, except for keeping the girls occupied. It was hard work coloring, playing board games, building legos, and hosting tea parties.

Mya’s now sleeping on this toddler pillow and she loves it. And I had to get her this pillowcase because… Charley Harper. Mya claims that the koala bears are her and Leah, so it obviously justifies the entire purchase.

OPI’s Lucky Lucky Lavender nail color. I seldom put a color on my fingernails, but this is subtle, soft, and sweet.

Fact: the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Reading “The Danish Way of Parenting” and gaining some tools. Halfway through and enjoying it all.

Looking forward to getting “It Takes Two” in the mail. Definitely one of my faves growing up. Can’t wait to watch it with Mya.

Reading our favorite heart books and started making Valentines. It reminded me of our graham cracker love shack from a couple years ago. Since Mya loved licking that so much, it seems like a pretty good excuse to make something with frosting and candy.

Happy week, friends!

FAVORITE ART SUPPLIES and ART STATION TIPS

One thing I’ve learned after having two kids is that “self play” is a pretty valuable trait to instill in your child. Yes, I would love to “play cars,” pretend I’m a cat, and become a master chef by just wearing underwear on my head for the day’s entirety. But then I realize that there are dishes and laundry and dust and sometimes Mama needs to just take a breath “by herself.” Because I think people usually visit the bathroom without an audience. And yet honestly, if I didn’t have Leah hanging on my leg and Mya asking me questions about puberty, it really just wouldn’t seem right. But when I do need fifteen minutes to throw dinner in the pressure cooker, the main lifeline I use is Mya’s art station. Mya does something productive and Leah throws all the supplies on the floor. And if that fails for Leah, I just open up the tupperware or spice cabinet and we’re good to go. 😛 Here are our tips for art station success:

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

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WEEKEND FAVORITES | “ICE” EDITION

So this weekend’s “treacherous” ice storm seemed pretty tame to me. Although we didn’t attempt to leave the house, so I don’t really know. We did lots of crafts (this stepping stone was Mya’s favorite), experimented (with this science kit), played board games (this Monopoly Junior set was a huge hit!), continued on our mission to declutter, and tried some new recipes (and will definitely be making this General Tso’s Chicken again.) I also got cozy with my laptop by the fire in front of some mindless TV– I think this should become a regular thing… and so here’s some of our current faves:

Any of these PJs on major sale. I grabbed some more matching pairs for the girls for next winter. You know, just 11 months in advance because these babies are the girls absolute faves. And I will dress them matchy matchy for as long as I can. And if I knew they would wear these hats, I would grab a couple… because 1. huge pom and 2. they’re only $6!

Baking these almond flour cookies weekly. I use half the butter and they’re so addicting.

Loving this French Cade Lavender candle. So much. Shop Anthro’s sale and use code TAGTIME to get another 40% off the sale price!

It’s kind of ridiculous how much more “put together” I feel with these three baskets in my life. But anything that glorifies the act of folding and sorting clothes is a winner.

Watching “A Dolphin Tale.” Three times this week. Mya is obsessed. Hoping Derek has a trip to Tampa soon, so the girls and I can bum some free flights with his miles and meet Winter the dolphin.

Have a great week, friends!