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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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5 EASTER ACTIVITIES

Turns out Easter’s less than two weeks away and we need to whip out some Spring crafts before the big day. Seems pretty feasible since we were literally in our pajamas until 1:00 today. Any later and I probably wouldn’t have changed at all. Except we wanted to play in the rain and I made the girls go to Costco. Since our goals are not that high and we’re relaxing to the max, I thought I’d get myself (somewhat) organized and jot down some realistic things we could accomplish in the next week. And then I can trick myself into thinking we’re getting so much done when I check things off the list like “dye some eggs” and “make Leah cry from sitting on a giant bunny’s lap.”

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DAYS AT HOME with BANNOR TOYS

You know how sometimes you have a plan for the day… and then you remember you have kids… and whatever vision you had was just a joke really? Pile up Mya getting sick, some gloomy weather, and post breastfeeding hormones and the past week was pretty thrown. But rainy walks around the block, lots of pajama days, and a daily dose of Moana seemed to do the trick. Last weekend, that’s exactly what happened– we stayed home to get well and recharge for the week. All the bins and baskets of playthings were thrown on the living room floor and we all just camped out by the fire. Most of the time, I have the girls pick up things as we are done playing with them because it leaves less of a mess for me after bedtime. And because #mamatired. But last weekend we just let it happen and looked past the mess to find two happy girls, perfectly content with being together at home with just us parents. Which I’m going to pretend will always be the case. Because this is my heaven.

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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.

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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BOOKIN’ GOOD

Can you believe that when I first met Derek, he had never seen a Pixar animated movie? Like he hadn’t seen Toy Story. It was almost a deal breaker for our relationship. But I eventually got over it and gave him another chance. 😉 Because I don’t care how old you are, those movies are classics. (Mya and I are currently obsessed with Moana.) And little did I know, children’s books would also become a love of mine.

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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!

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!

MAMA’S HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016

Derek has traveled a lot more this year for work. Which meant a lot less sleep for me. Which meant I wished so badly to like the taste of coffee. Which meant I better come up with an alternative form of caffeine that wasn’t unhealthy for me. And thankfully, I found my drink of champions: hot chai latte with unsweetened almond milk and cinnamon. But we had some problems: spending $4-something on a drink everyday at Starbucks wasn’t making me feel great and ordering something so specific was making me feel ridiculous. So one day I got chummy with the Starbucks gal and she told me a little secret: the chai latte mix is this exact mix and I could make it at home myself with just a microwave and a frother. AND THEN I found out it’s sold at Costco in a three pack and I pretty much felt like I won the lotto. So I honestly don’t need anything this year. But if I were to want some things (in no particular order), these would be my top 8 picks:

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

Another winning feeling was when Derek realized that his work trip this week will grant me “companion pass” for all of 2017. That means I can fly anywhere he flies next year… for free! So you better believe we’ll be planning a lot of three day weekend trips with (and possibly without) the girls. So if you have any ideas on some fun, quick trips, let us know. This Mama’s ready for a vacation! Have a great week, friends.

(You can also find similar Gift Guides here and here.)