Friday, July 31, 2015

#RacetotheEdge with Netflix

I know I say this all the time, but it is without question that Netflix is our tv go to.  We do not miss cable at all and live network tv is pretty much nil in the summer, so Netflix is absolutely solidified as a part of our family even more!

I love Netflix Original shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. I also really love that there are Netflix originals for kids and the whole family.  How to Train a Dragon was one of the big kids favorite movies, so when Dragons: Race to the Edge came to Netflix, we were all excited!

"Hiccup learns there is more outside the confines of Berk, and that a little curiosity and determination can make every day an exciting journey. In Hiccup’s own words, ''this changes everything.' "

As in life, there is always adventure and exploration. Parenting, to say the least, is an every day adventure. ;)

My Lily is always using her imagination, creating, and exploring! So, when Netflix shared the Dragons: Race to the Edge viewing kit with us, she was over the moon!  She immediately wanted to get outside with the chalk and begin creating! She thought the "dragon claws" were pretty awesome! Andrew {who loves Doritos} thought the "dragon scales" were clever!

We watched a couple episodes together and the kids were then even more excited about the props and well, Violet's always excited about the snacks --such is the toddler life!

Andrew is a really good sport about participating in family viewing and I love that about him.  Being a teenage boy in a house full of little girls isn't the easiest, so it was fun to share one of his former favorite movie characters in a new way with the girls.

Sometimes getting Violet to cooperate isn't the easiest... and we get creative.  And then she'll take back control and let the other kids know who's really boss.

For a fun, family adventure, Dragons: Race to the Edge is one that is recommended from our family! We can't wait to watch more now that our entire brood is back home!

Ready for another adventure?

Dive deeper into the unknown with these picks.
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Can’t get enough dragons? Find more epic dragon movies with a little help from our friends at Common Sense Media.

New on Netflix for Kids and Families

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Disclosure: As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam I was provided subscription to Netflix and also exclusive insights or other products. All opinions are my 100% my own and I was already a proud Netflix subscriber prior to this opportunity. Please see my full disclosure.

Monday, July 27, 2015

#FormulaforHappiness for New Mamas

Although those early days with a new baby are now behind me for the final time, they are some of the sweetest, happiest, and most challenging days of my life...and I wouldn't want it any other way. Along the way, I learned a pretty simplistic #FormulaforHappiness.

I have been blessed to be a 3-time mom and have very different experiences in those early days. Primarily because I was 26 the first time, 37 the next time, and 40 most recently.  I definitely didn't have it all figured out after the first time, but just a little more seasoned each time.

I read a quote once that said, "No two children are born into the same family."  It's so simple, yet so profound.  First baby comes along to a family of just the parents.  And each additional baby is born into a new family.

I remember thinking with my oldest that I could do it all right away. I cleaned, did laundry, cooked right after getting home from the hospital.  And then my body started yelling at me to take it easy! So, I spent time learning how to take care of this little person who taught me how to love like no other.  Those quiet moments with just the two of us are forever seared into my mind.  Sometimes when I look at the 15 year old standing before me, I get glimpses of those memories. He has the same beautiful blue eyes that I fell in love with the moment he was put into my arms. I experienced pure bliss with him!

A decade later, I'd get to do it all over again. This time with a tiny pink little angel. She's been joyful since the day she was born.  Though my body wasn't as quick to recover 10 years after the first go 'round, those early moments, were just as blissful.  We spent moments getting to know one another and I knew better to appreciate slowing down and soaking it all in.

This most recent baby, my 21 month old, whom I knew was my grand finale came into the world like a rocket yet waiting until her due date to arrive. {She was the only one who didn't arrive early.}   This time I absolutely knew I was savoring every.single.thing. I watched her sleep, breathing in her sweetness. I continued taking photographs of all of those early moments knowing that babies change so very quickly and I wanted to always remember.  Coming home the 3rd time was a little more challenging with having a 3 year old who wasn't really one to reason with in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I knew the tough part would soon pass and we'd all get into our groove.  We did. Happiness took over for all of us.

My #formulaforhappiness in the early days of having a baby is... just be.

Be present in the moments.


The tough ones when you're sleep-deprived.
The blissful ones when your baby smiles at you.
Give yourself the grace to recognize that you just spent nearly a year carrying a human being and it's ok to ask for and accept help.  What you've done is miraculous and so hard.
Embrace all of your moments. For someday, they will be simply be a former chapter in your story.

You will be happy and your baby will be happy.

The last firsts are so very bittersweet.

I have 3 happy babies and even though now two of them are 15 and 5, they'll always be my babies.

My equation for happy babies was simply this:  consistency = security = love.
It has worked for 15 years for us.

What is your #formulaforhappiness

Gerber® Good Start® Gentle
Gerber® Good Start® Gentle believes that the Formula for Happiness™ can be a lot of things, and moms have different ways of enjoying the journey through motherhood.

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Good sleep–for your baby and your family—is an essential component of that journey. That journey isn’t always perfect, but getting support every step of the way helps.  That is why Gerber® Good Start® Gentle is happy to introduce a Certified Sleep Consultant for your little one’s needs.

This service is brought to you by Gerber® Good Start® Gentle and is completely free for you!

Don't be afraid to reach out for help --whether you're a first time mom or a seasoned mama!

Friday, July 24, 2015

#MoreMinutes for the Birthday Girl!

Today is Lily's 5th birthday! It was also a busy, busy day from start to finish. That's typically how kid birthdays go in our house. 

One of the things on our agenda to was to get Lily's back-to-school haircut! This was only her 2nd haircut of her entire life!  But. She was in need for a trim to get her beautiful curls to bounce back up and keep her hair healthy.  The best part of fitting her haircut into our day was having complete flexibility with the time due to the new Great Clips Online Check-in!  That simple step allowed us to save #MoreMinutes in our already jam packed day! 

After our breakfast out, opening presents, a park playdate, and dropping Violet and George off at home to nap, Lily and I set out to finish our errands. First up, her traditional bakery birthday cupcake! When we finished at the bakery, I opened up the app to decide which location we were going to and went ahead and checked in. The 15 minute estimated wait time was just the driving time we needed. Perfect --giving us #MoreMinutes to be doing birthday things! That would be our next stop before a few other birthday treats!  

The Great Clips Online Check-in is such a simple app! When you open it, you can see which locations are around and their estimated wait times.  Choose a location and simply enter your name and telephone number and voila, checked in. Easy peasy!   You don't even have to use the app -- you can utilize the Online Check-in on their website too! Same deal, just find a salon near you and check in!

We arrived using all our wait time driving! If that's not utilizing #MoreMinutes to be doing the fun stuff of our day, then I don't know what is! 

We headed inside and informed the girl at the front desk we had checked in online. She took the rest of our information and told us it'd would be about 5 more minutes.  The waiting area had about 6 other people waiting when we came in also, but due to our Online Check-in Lily was next!  That few extra minutes allowed me to snap just the picture I wanted of Lily.  The only downside was the signage hanging in the window and the sunny day, made for a rough go at a photo. I'll take the sunshine any day though, so I'm not really complaining. ;)

Our stylist was kind, helpful, and friendly with Lily as well as myself, offering suggestions about Lily's hair and helping keep her head straight, asking her questions about herself to make her comfortable.  She asked if Lily wanted her hair to air dry or be blown dry. Lily chose the blow dry. :) We'll definitely go back to her!

A perfect, curl-bouncing haircut for the birthday girl!

What better way to get in one of our "must do's" in the least amount of time possible and save #MoreMinutes for spending the day celebrating my favorite new five year old!

What would you do with your #MoreMinutes?  Save your time by checking in online and get in to Great Clips for your back-to-school haircuts! Trust me, you'll be happy you did!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Let Freedom Ring!

I'm not sure why so many townships in PA celebrate the 4th of July on random days other than the 4th, but ours chooses a Sunday around the 4th. This year was July 5.  The festivities started off with a local parade that Andrew's high school marching band participates in.  This was Andrew's first year marching since the kids don't march their rookie year and last year we were already in AZ visiting family.  I love parades and the girls are loving them too!

We dropped Andrew off at his meeting spot and then went to find a place to park and stake out our seats on the parade route.  It was again a scorching, muggy day.  We got settled and then George took Lily and Reagan to get some drinks at a nearby convenience store while Violet and I kept our place.

Slushies were on tap to help keep cool!  Violet shared with me and as you can see she was pretty happy about ours!

It seemed like it was taking forever for the parade to begin and Lily had had enough waiting in the heat.

Violet on the other hand was still excited and ready for the parade enjoying her popcorn and hot dog too. She was a regular all-American kid-- she just needed some apple pie and a baseball game!

Parade time!  Lots of firetrucks and police cars, bikes, motorcycles...and of course, the marching band!

After the parade was over, we ran home to grab our belongings and head off to Audrey's sweet 16th birthday party! She's one of the kindest, best kids I've ever known and we wouldn't have missed being there for her!  Happy 16th, Audrey!

Due to the parade and Andrew's obligations, we were a few hours late to the party and Audrey knew that, but we made sure we made it!  The kids were happy to swim for a little bit and Violet got in the pool for the first time this summer with no fear at all and loved it! She just needed reminding to keep her mouth closed so she didn't drink all the water. :)

Next up in our crazy day, was our great friends' annual 4th of Julyish picnic! We originally didn't think we were going to get to be there due to some other scheduling and we were really disappointed, but we rearranged a handful of things to make sure we could be there and I'm so glad we did!
It was another afternoon/evening with our framily that we welcomed after far too long before this weekend.

The Lilys weren't interested in eating or playing outside. They love to play in Charlie's room and this is usually where you can find them...with every.single.thing. out in the room.  Charlie had some friends that she doesn't get to see often, so she was running all over playing.

Outside there was trampoline jumping going on, a little mowing, a little sleeping...

The bigger kids found their own space to relax while Violet decided that Liam had the best idea.

We took another family picture right before we left since Reagan was with us this day which made our party of 6 complete.  Next stop: fireworks!  This was our only chance to see them this year together and it was important to me to get to do, so we hurried off after another fun, relaxing afternoon in order to get our space for fireworks in our township.

We made it with little traffic issue {which is a HUGE deal in Pittsburgh}, got settled, and waited for the fireworks to begin.
Lily wanted to run, so she ran around the big field where we were. Andrew had seen a few friends when we were walking in, so he went to find them and Reagan ran into her friend too, so they got to catch up a little.  Soon it was time for fireworks and the girls were excited! Violet managed to fall in the mud while she was running to "catch" the fireworks, so that was fun in the dark.  It was a very good and exhausting day.

Until next year!